tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN July 24, 2017 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
esther burnett was 79 years old. and erin, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. we are looking forward to seeing you back here in this seat where you belong tomorrow night. thanks for joining us. "ac 360" starts now. good evening. thanks for joining us. we begin tonight here in washington with something we rarely get from the trump administration, an admission. not an admission of wrong doing, but an admission by jared kushner that he took a few meetings with the russians. kushner released a statement offering his first public account of what he says were four meetings with russians during the campaign and transition. in this administration, and from this president who cries fake news any time the russian investigation comes up, it is something. for months on twitter and the rare times he's answered questions on camera, the president has dismissed anything involving russia as fake news. >> russia is fake news.
this is fake news put out by the media. the entire thing has been a witch hunt. it's all fake news. i have nothing to do with russia. this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. >> can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with russia during the course of the election? >> no, nobody that i know of. >> you're not aware of any contacts during the course of the election? >> how many times do i have to answer this question? >> keeping them honest, the answer to the question has changed, because today nobody that i know of now includes his son-in-law jared kushner who admitted to those four meetings. no collusion, he says, just attended the meetings. this is after the president and his team denied anyone connected to the campaign met with russians but seemed offended by the question itself. >> did any adviser or anybody in the trump campaign have any contact with the russians who are trying to meddle in the election? >> of course not. >> are there any ties before president trump, you or your campaign and putin and his regime? >> no, there are not.
that's absurd. >> did anyone involved in the trump campaign have contact with russians trying to meddle with the election? >> absolutely not. >> we don't know of any contacts with russian agents. >> those conversations never happened. >> lie after lie. >> why would there be any contacts between the campaign? >> why is a question that remains to be answered. what we know now is there were contacts between jared kushner by his own admission, not fake news, real facts. jared kushner said he met with russians, he just didn't collude with them. what else did he say? >> reporter: he said he had four meetings with russians during the campaign season and during the transition. he did say he met with the russian ambassador at the mayflower hotel during one of then candidate trump's foreign policy speeches. of course, he acknowledged being at that now infamous meeting at trump tower which donald trump, jr. was promised dirt on the
clinton campaign as part of an effort to help with the russian government, effort to help his father's campaign. jared kushner down played these meetings, saying he went to this meeting with donald trump, jr., really not knowing what it was. he said he got an e-mail exchange about it, but he didn't read the full e-mail. he said he arrived late and asked an assistant to call him out because it was not relevant. he also acknowledged two other meetings during the transition. both with the russian ambassador, as well as the former national security adviser michael flynn. and the head of a russian bank, he claimed there was nothing to those meetings. he made some rare public remarks at the white house today, anderson, defending his meetings and said there was nothing there. here's what he said. >> the record and documents i have voluntarily provided will show that all of my actions were proper, and occurred in the normal course of events of a
very unique campaign. let me be very clear -- i did not collude with russia, nor do i know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. >> reporter: anderson, kushner's team said they would be willing to see a transcript of his interview with senate intelligence committee staff. but the committee is saying that is not going to happen, because it would tip off other witnesses. but we don't know if jared kushner would be willing to testify publicly. i tried to ask him that question today, he would not answer that question. he did not answer questions from reporters at the white house either, anderson. >> and whether it's public or not, does he have to come back for another interview? >> it's possible. a number of members on the senate intelligence committee are telling me that they do have more questions for jared kushner, because they were not at that meeting today, even mark warner, the top diplomat, said there's broad bipartisan support to bring him back. tonight, adam schiff,
interviewing kushner tomorrow, is telling our colleagues that tomorrow's session will not be enough, because there are ault of the members that will be at the meeting. but that time frame will not be enough to get through all of the area they want to talk about. >> what about donald trump, jr. and paul manafort coming to capitol hill if>> reporter: it's possible they will face a public hearing. a deal that was cut between paul manafort and donald trump, jr., the two leaders of that committee, a deal that would give the committee records about this meeting at trump tower, as well as a private interview with members and staff. i talked to the two leaders of the committee, including dianne feinstein, who said absolutely, those two will come back to capitol hill and be in a public session. she said probably after the august recess. and chuck grassley, chairman of the committee, would not rule that out either. >> manu, thank you.
joining me now is my panel. gloria, jared kushner is saying essentially i didn't read the full e-mail chain that donald trump, jr. sent me. there's no defense of donald trump, jr. is he saying i went to this meeting, had no idea who the participants were, i don't remember how many people there were, it was boring and i asked my assistant to call me to get me out. >> right, like he was on a bad date. what he didn't contest is the known facts about the meeting. you know, he didn't, in his testimony, say when i read down the e-mail it was clear that these were russians and don, jr. was thrilled about getting the dirt on hillary clinton. so his testimony is interesting for what it didn't say, as what it did say. i will also add that we have known about these meetings, and jared kushner had a lot of opportunities, if he wanted to, to say these meetings never occurred with gorka, with
kislyak, et cetera, et cetera. he portrays him as innocent, and that may well be. but throughout all of this, he didn't deny that these meetings took place. >> i think one thing that the investigation will be looking at is inconsistencies in his testimony. so on the one hand with the e-mail about the trump tower meeting in june of 2016, kushner says i didn't even read that whole exchange, because obviously there was one part of that, maybe incriminating is not the word, but it says the russian government supports your father's campaign and we want to give you information. he said, i didn't read that part, i knew nothing about the meeting. on the other hand, he talks about an e-mail we got from gucifer or something or other. he read that one and took it to the secret service and said is this anything i should be worried about? little things like that, the investigators, when he goes before the house intelligence committee, will be honing in on. >> remember, the reason he paid attention to that is because there was a threat to release all of his father-in-law's tax
records, which they didn't want to release. what's striking about all of this is first of all, there's the tortured process by which jared kushner has revealed all of his meetings, which is disorganization at the very least or something worse. but i think what we're piecing together, which has nothing to do with the investigation itself perhaps, is these folks were open for business. donald trump has never taken a threat from russia seriously by his own statements, and he still doesn't as president of the united states. his son, his son-in-law, apparently they all thought it was typical opposition research. they weren't worried about it. kushner is talking about setting up a secret channel to get information from russian generals about syria. so that is so negligent and so naive that you want to turn to people who actually know something about this, who can tell you you shouldn't do that. they don't appear to have done that. >> if donald trump jr. is to be believed, he is told that the russian government is backing his father, didn't sound like it was new information to him.
but at the very least, that's pretty big information. if donald trump, jr. is to be believed, he never discussed this with nip, not with paul manafort or jared kushner. that's a lot of information for donald trump, jr. to be holding on to. >> the reason you had this naivety for jared kushner, which is ironic given that this person who is charged with trying to resolve the palestinian-israeli conflict can't get out of his own meeting, they're doing that because in the legal terms he does not want to have the knowledge, the intent that everyone has been talking about. if he is not knowledgeable about it, he could not possibly have the intent to break the law or collude. and so he has a vetted statement that he put forth that was vetted by his lawyers, i'm sure, with an attempt to say this is a conscious decision. you will be the naive, overwhelmed, inexperienced person on this team. because while master mind might
be a political asset in political terminology, it's a scapegoat legally. >> he said in his statement that he contacted henry kissinger at one point to get some advice. but he made it very clear in his statement that this was kind of new territory for him. and he even said that when he suggested this general-to-general meeting in the russian embassy, that both flynn and kislyak said no, no, you can't do that. so he just sort of showed or was trying to show how naive he was. >> i think, anderson, your point that is important, which is there is information that comes across saying russia wants to help your father win. there's nobody that doesn't know that's very inappropriate, beside just cheering on the part of vladamir putin. and there were enough people around, lawyers, other foreign policy types, who could have been giving advice, including
flynn, who wouldn't say put the brakes on this. that's the point, that the president is acting like he has something to hide and is c contemptuous of the suggest -- you talk to business leaders. they understand that there are leaders with russian and american business folks. but even they understand it's different than saying you're going to get involved 234 an election. >> they didn't care. that's the timeline now. you get the e-mail that says the russian government wants to help your dad win in june. and then in december, during the transition, you have, as you said, open for business, russian officials coming in and talking and there's no evidence that he ever once at any of these meetings raised russian interference. they just didn't care about it. up next, once upon a time, he was the first senator to back the trump candidacy. why is president trump referred to jeff sessions as beleaguered? and the president increases
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a new attack against one of his earliest and most loyal supporters. our jeff zeleny is at the white house with the breaking news. so has the president even spoken directly to the attorney general since this comments about him in "the new york times" last week? >> reporter: anderson, he's not spoken to the attorney general, and the new communications director, anthony scaramucci, told our sarah murray earlier today, he said they need to have a face-to-face discussion about their future. that's interesting that the communications director would say that the president and the attorney general should have a conversation, but the president has not asked for one. the president has not brought the attorney general -- he was his most loyal, committed, dedicated supporter back during the presidential campaign. he left his job in the safe senate seat of alabama to become the attorney general. he, in fact, jeff sessions was in the west wing today we are told, having normal meet wings
with the white house counsel's office but not with the president. they have not spoken since before that "new york times" interview. last week, the president essentially threw his attorney general under the bus. we got a window into the president's thinking today, during a photo op with interns of all things, when the president was standing silently to take a picture and a reporter asked him this. >> mr. president, did jeff sessions resign? [ laughter ] there and the smirk spoke volumes, although he didn't speak anything. the president tonight was in west virginia, speaking at a boy scout jamboree. he invited some eagle scouts who serve in his cabinet to be on stage. rick perry, but jeff sessions is also an eagle scout and he was not invited.
>> also rex tillerson is, isn't he if? >> reporter: yes, rex tillerson is an eagle scout but he was not there. but no two people were closer during the campaign, but because of attorney general sessions' decision to recuse himself from the russian investigation, the president fuming about it, and we're told he's gotten angrier. >> and rudy giuliani's name has been band yesterday about as a replacement. he commented about it. >> reporter: rudy giuliani was talked about being the secretary of state or a variety of things. but there's been a rumor who would replace jeff session it is he stepped down? rudy giuliani was flying to washington today and cnn caught up with him and he said there's no truth to this rumor. i'm not going to be named the next attorney general. he also said i believe that jeff sessions did the right thing by
recusing himself from this russian investigation. and should the president, if the president would appoint him, there's a good reason to believe he would have to recuse himself as well, because rudy giuliani was also involved in the campaign at the same time period. but it points out how difficult it would be in this environment in washington to confirm a new attorney general. it's one of the reasons a lot of smart minds think that the attorney general will stay. but again, of course that's all up to the president. we'll see if they ever have that meeting. >> jeff zeleny, thank you very much. back with the panel now. jason, should the president sit down with his attorney general and why do you think he hasn't? >> i think the president has to make a decision here. jeff sessions is someone who was very loyal on the campaign trail. he's a favorite of conservatives and of trump nation supporters through and through. but look, the president clearly has an issue with jeff sessions recusing himself from this russia investigation. if it's something that the president fundamentally can't
get over, he needs to fire him. the further this goes on, without dealing with it, i think this is problematic and distracts away from the bigger things we should be dealing with like repealing and replacing obamacare. but jeff sessions does have a strong support base across both the administration and the country. a lot of tough days on that campaign, jeff sessions never wavered. >> it is interesting that there was nobody more loyal to donald trump than jeff sessions, and by the way, trump a lot more loyal to vladamir putin who also played a critical role in elected him is the only place trump has stayed loyal to. sessions had no choice to recuse himself. rudy giuliani said so today. >> also, president trump seemed to believe that sessions should have told him before he got the job that he was going to recuse himself, but at that point, as far as i know, he didn't know he was going to recuse himself, because he only recused himself after his testimony. >> he would have had to recuse himself ebecause he played a
critical role in that campaign. so even if he had given the misleading testimony to the senate judiciary committee, this is what is bothersome. the attorney general had no choice. it wasn't simply i don't feel like doing my job. it was my job requires me to recuse. the president doesn't understand that. >> what's really disturbing here is that he's not firing him, that he's torturing him right now and toying with him. and he's like almost insulting him publicly, two times in a week, trying to -- i guess trying to get him to quit because he doesn't have the guts to fire people. it reminds me of the movie "office space" where they don't fire milton, they just take his stapler and move him to the basement. >> that's how they do it with tv anchors, as well. [ laughter ]
>> everyone just got very nervous. but it is interesting for a president who, you know, made a name for being the fguy you fired -- >> the irony is, he's not very good saying things face-to-face to people. as much as he was "mr. fired" on tv, that's not how he operates. he's more likely to try to drive him out. the question is, why now? we know that he's been upset with sessions since the beginning, since he recused himself. but now he's really going after him in a much more intense way than he was before. to me it suggests that he's realizing this is serious. the russia investigation is a real problem, and so whereas he was frustrated before, now he's panicking. >> but there's nothing he won't do apparently. we thought it was folly to fire the fbi director. bill clinton, president clinton was not very happy with janet reno at very uarious points.
but there was a sense there was an independence of the justice department and the fbi. there's no reason this president won't fire the a.g. or make a move on mueller. he wants to litigate every aspect of this. >> if he fires jeff sessions or sessions resigns, and he wants -- first of all, very difficult to get another a.g. in there, even if you -- >> rod rosenstein gets elevated. >> he doesn't like rosenstein either. >> right. >> because he's from baltimore or whatever. so he doesn't like -- >> there's too many democrats in baltimore, unlike new york city where president trump is from. >> so he doesn't want to elevate rosenstein. what does rosenstein do, does he stay or quit? does he ask rosenstein to fire mueller and mueller refuses? and if he wants to fire mueller,
i guarantee you his legal team would quit. i can't imagine the president's he will team saying, you know, it's okay -- >> jason, do you think it would be hard to get another attorney general? >> i think there is one thing that's a little bit different with this president and administration, that we have to take a step back. if we rewind a couple months ago and we heard the talk about firing comey and the sky is falling and how could we ever come back from this? i think, look, this president has the authority, if he wants to fire somebody in his administration, he can. that's his right as president to do so. so he invariably will fire people at various points in his administration. we need to realize this administration is different. and it -- >> do you think it would be hard to get somebody past on capitol hill, another attorney general? >> look, in this climate, of course the partisan opponents are going to make a lot of hay out of this and turn it into one month-long spectacle along russia and everything else. and that will be a bigger
distraction away from what the president is trying to do. that's why i hope the president sticks with jeff sessions and keeps him there. >> i don't think he's going to get away from this. there have been occasions where he has gotten mad at somebody and it blows over. this is the second or third iteration of this, i think. and the way that trump constantly brings up that he won the popular vote and this is one of those things that i just don't see him getting over it. >> we've got to take a quick break. we'll continue this discussion. and we'll hear what sessions had to say. steve was born to move. over the course of 9 days he walks 26.2 miles, that's a marathon. because he chooses to walk whenever he can. and he does it with support from dr. scholl's. only dr. scholl's has massaging gel insoles that provide all-day comfort to keep him feeling more energized. so he even has the energy to take the long way home.
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breaking news tonight about attorney general jeff sessions. "the washington post" is reporting that president trump is discussing possibly replacing him. with me on the phone is matt. so what have you learned? >> we learned that as president trump and his aides have been discussing removing jeff sessions as attorney general, which maybe isn't a total surprise, given what he told "the new york times" haste wela but interesting that it's not just him venting or thinking about what he's saying, but a calculated move and he's considering getting somebody else in there. >> do you have any idea based on your reporting how serious the discussions, what level they're at, or what the kind of permutations are being discussed? >> we understand at this stage it is informal. some names have been floated, but maybe not even with the president himself. it's not as if he is asking what do you think about this person or this person? and some people kascharacterize
this as an intense level of venting on his part. so it is pretty early, but i mean, in this administration, things move quickly. >> is there any timeline that's been discussed, to your knowledge? >> no, no, not at all. i don't think that the talks are quite that serious that we're going to remove him on x date. just discussing the idea of removing him. >> is there anything else you learned i should ask you about? >> you know, i think another important point here is that some people, again, not the president himself, but some people in his orbit see this as a possible way to get rid of the special counsel, that this is maybe one step along the line. jeff sessions is recused from the special counsel investigation, but if he goes, maybe there could be more stuff happening at the justice department. >> is there any concern, based on your reporting, that removing jeff sessions -- jeff sessions
is very popular among the nationalist wing of the republican party or conservatives. you know, and jeff sessions held a lot of these views before donald trump, before president trump began to hold them. >> yeah, that's right. one of the things that we reported is that president trump asked someone, if i got rid of jeff sessions, how would that play with conservative media? i talked to newt gingrich who told me that look, he would really strongly advise against removing jeff sessions against he thinks he's great for the republican base. so i think that's something the president has to keep in mind. >> matt, appreciate the reporting. thank you very much. back now with the panel. >> think about if this is true, and it's clearly true that they are talking about this. but what this reveals about the president. here you have the person who has, as jason pointed out earlier, represents trumpism more than any other republican
in this administration, what you agree with jeff sessions or not on trade, on immigration, on drug policy. he is the person implementing the trump policy agenda more than anyone else. certainly more than some of the white house people around this president. and trump doesn't care about that. he cares about himself. he cares about a personal issue. he cares that this guy recused himself from an investigation and cares about his own criminal liability and he's trying to maneuver and figure out how to get rid of this guy. it shows how much trump is committed to ideas and policy and how much he's committed to self-preservation. >> what does it say about the president's definition of loyalty? he talks about loyalty, he talked about it frin front of t boy scouts. you can argue that jeff sessions has been loyal to this president since the beginning. >> there are reports that there was a conversation with steve bannon and jeff sessions where
sessions says if i endorse trump and he doesn't win, then it's over for me. >> the president defines loyalty as that who can be his -- that's very clear through the course of his administration so far. jeff sessions is the only person in washington, d.c. who is an appointee that has leverage over the president of the united states for two runs. number one, you have the obstruction of justice issue. if he fired jeff sessions, that cloud rains down on him once again. number two, jeff sessions is well aware of his popularity and knows that to replace him would be an uphill battle. and that would leave his policy platform in limbo so -- >> it looks like you have insight into general sessions' thinking. but look, general sessions is
someone who believes in president trump, not just as a leader on these issues but also the president as a leader, as a person and bought into this whole movement that we were behind. general sessions is very loyal, and if the president were to ask him to go, then he would go. and that would be the end of the story. but i do think that general sessions, i would not expect to see him quit under any circumstance. i think he's loyal and dedicated to the cause. and that's why i think so many folks like myself who are trump supporters want to see him in place, because he does believe in that mission. again, it's not just that he believes in some set of ideas but he believes in trump as a leader. >> he believes in the independence of the justice department. >> and the rule of law. >> and the rule of law, such that he was going to follow the ethics guidelines. i take your point that this president has shown he can break the seal on things and norms and get away with it. but there's a level of sabotage that the president is responsible for of his own administration, because he wants
to fight, because presumably he thinks he's right, and he'll take on all-comers. sessions is a perfect example, i think republicans, his senate colleagues, republicans would really start to break with the president. and i think that becomes an issue -- >> i don't think that will be, but look, they're a good team. they've worked so well together so far. that's why i think -- look, there are a lot of swamp creatures in this town. a lot of people who have not been on board with this reform agenda. jeff sessions has been on board with it. >> so where are the republicans now? who can come out right now and say stop doing this to jeff sessions? where's the ground swell? there ought to be one. he's being mistreated. if he's popular in the senate and some people feel very strongly about it, why aren't they saying mr. president, stop calling your own attorney general beleaguered? >> where are the republicans saying we need to replace and repeal obamacare.
>> but, you know, maybe in the president's mind, he figures he can appoint a member of the senate like a ted cruz or somebody to take the attorney general's place during a recess appointment in august, and maybe he can do that. and i don't think he can. but maybe he's thinking i could get this over with, one, two, three, and we could get rid of mueller and i can get on with my agenda. when we come back, how president trump is using his bully pulpit to influence the health care vote tomorrow.
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vote is so tight. like i said, it's a remarkable time. president trump used his bully pulpit to encourage republicans to do the right thing. >> for the last seven years, republicans have been united in standing up for obamacare's victims. remember, repeal and replace? repeal and replace. they kept saying it over and over again. every republican running for office promised immediate relief from this disastrous law. >> well, repeal and replace, they kept saying it you heard the president saying there. keeping them honest "thiey" was also him. >> real change begins immediately with the repealing and replacing of the disaster known as obamacare. repeal it and replace it. repeal and replace. repeal and replace. obamacare, we're going to repeal it, we're going to replace it
and get something good. repeal it, replace it, get something great. we're going the kill it. let it die, and we're going to come up with something much, much better. you're going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost and it's going to be so easy. >> cnn's phil mattingly is on capitol hill with the latest. how close is mitch mcconnell to having the votes he needs to move this forward? >> they're still short. there are six or seven members that remain undecided, but they haven't come out as no's, and we've seen during the course of the last seven or eight days, that members through every iteration of this senate process have killed that process. they haven't done that yet. and because of that, there is at least some shred of optimism. but it's important to note what's going on behind the scenes. you had vice president mike pence in ohio with senator rob portman, who is a holdout. there are offers on the table by
administration officials for things that holdouts could get behind the scenes. there are amendments that senate leaders are saying could be made in order for other senators. so there's an all-out blitz right now to close the deal on this. but the crazy reality is, as we go -- we're fewer than 24 hours from this vote. there's a real chance we might not know where the votes are until the senators actually vote. that's how close this is right now. and that's how much of an open question remains. >> what are they voting on? does anyone know the details? >> reporter: at least in terms of a final product that they expected to get to, the answer is know. they're voting to start the debate on the house passed health care bill. but the idea has always been, nobody in the senate likes the house passed bill. they wanted their own version. so throughout this amendment process, they wanted a backstop of sorts, a final product that we've seen multiple iterations of, but none of those have been able to close the deal.
so what does that leave them with? as senator bob corker called it, the wild west. in a situation like this, you essentially walk into a process where any senator can offer any type of amendment so long it's germane and in the budget rules. so senators are being asked to move forward on something where they don't know the endgame. there is an politically risky move but also very risky on the policy side. whether it's conservatives on the regulatory side, moderates on the medicaid expansion, they would be going into this debate with no commitments that they could be getting any of these things for sure. as one former senate aide put it to me, it's akin to telling a senate tore jump out of an airplane with a backpack that there's 50-50 that there is a parachute with it, except in this case, it's more like 10-90. but this is the only pathway
that senate republicans and the white house have identified to move forward and they're pushing full speed away, whether they have the votes or not. >> phil, thank you very much. earlier today, i spoke with senator sheldon whitehouse about the health care bill. president trump today calling democrats obstructionists. are you offering any help on health care? >> the first thing, the very first thing the republicans in the senate did when they got in, like their first day was to choose to go the reconciliation option and slam the door on us and let us know we were not welcome. in fact, they got to the point where they weren't even having most of their own republican caucus in the room. they went to the 13 old white guys to come up with their plan. so that's pretty rich to turn that around on us at this point. >> senator schumer, the top democrat in the senate, just last week had this to say about
working with republicans. i want to play this. >> if republicans abandon cuts to medicaid, abandon tax breaks for wealthy, and agree to go through the regular order, the o door to bipartisanship is open right now. republicans only need to walk through it. >> republicans say that doesn't sound like a door to bipartisanship, having preconditions, many of which are nonstarters for republicans. >> what i've said all along, and many democrats have said throughout this whole process, we keep knocking on that door and being told you're not welcome. but look, just promise that you're going to work by regular order. promise us that you'll take amendments, go into the committees and do a bipartisan vote to 60 when the dust settles and this isn't going to be a phony exercise that ends up with you doing the same ram job that you've been doing now any way. on those terms, we're ready to go. >> i want to ask you about where the democratic party is going.
senator schumer said the two biggest priorities are health care and the economic well-being of the working family, not russia. have democrats done enough to get that message out? a lot of folks see the democrats as being anti-trump but they don't stand for anything. >> it's hard when you have a president that's horrifying even his own party with tweets that he sends out. one of the things about president trump is he does tend to be the brightest, shiny object in the room and attract most of the media attention. so it's also a little hard to get out there too far on health care while you're locked out of the room. and they told you we're not going to listen to you. if we were in committee, having hearings, bringing up their amendments, if we were taking votes, if we were doing real legislation on health care, then i think the public would be pretty clear about where we stood.
>> that's not a recipe for the next election, that's what happened to hillary clinton many people would argue in the last election. she was against trump, but a lot of people didn't necessarily know what she was for. so how do you get out of that? >> i think we're going to have a whole lot of members of congress that will have a really good chance at getting replaced. and a very good chance that there's going to be a democratic speaker as a result. and each of those races is going to happen in each of those congressional districts. i think a congressional race in a specific district, which is where you win those, is a very different thing than a presidential campaign. >> lastly, senator feinstein today said that even though donald trump, jr. and paul manafort will not testify publicly on wednesday, she still expected them to do so after the august recess. how important is it, do you believe, that their hearings are open to the public? >> i think it's very important. for one thing, the work that the
intelligence committee is doing by virtue of touching in so many places on classified information is never going to be as public as we had hoped. so it's just the nature of the beast. the criminal investigation is never going to be public. so the place where the public can keep up, and all the experts who came in and said how you do congressional investigations while there's a criminal investigation going on, is it's got to be public. that's the point, that we can help educate the public, let them know what's going on and be a truth teller that the public can hear from witnesses directly. so already important that it be public. and i'm very pleased that we've had support in chairman grassly in seeing that they will be subpoenaed if they refuse to attend voluntarily. and those subpoenas may even be moving quite quickly. >> senator, thank you for your time. when we come back, president
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despite assurances from both white house staff and the president's outside legal team that presidential pardons are not on the table, the president remains keen on reminding everyone that he does have that power. in a tweet saturday morning he wrote, "while all agree the u.s. president has the complete power to pardon, i think of that, only
crime so far is leaks against us. fake news." raises an additional whether or not a sitting president can pardon himself while still in office. joining me for their take, two constitutional law experts. nor ma i norma izen. co-authored on op-ped in the "washington post" on this last week. and mr. turley. you believe the president has the power to pardon himself. >> what i believe is he can make the argument under the text of the constitution. the constitution does not bar these types of self-pardons. the constitution mentions one exception with regard to impeachment. such as saying a president can pardon his way out of impeachment. >> it says the president shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the united states except in cases of impeachment. >> right. the language is actually not imbi ambiguous. usually in the law if you state an exception, there's a presumption that other exceptions don't apply because
queue didn' you didn't include them. he'd have a strong case to argue it's covered by his unfettered authority. >> norm, do you agree with that? >> anderson, thanks for having me. i do not agree with that. of course, we know that when interpreting the constitution, the words on the page are just the starting point. and literally entire libraries have been filled with what they mean and it's very clear, whatever school of interpretation you belong to, if you look at the history at the constitution, the structure of the constitution, the meaning, the intent, none of them suggest that something so absurd as a presidential self-pardon could be allowed. it stems from one of the most fundamental principles in american law. and that -- >> which is that -- >> that is that no person may be a judge in their own case. >> that no one is above the law. >> that is the core principle where government of laws, not of men, and so and the proof of it,
anderson, is there's nobody, and jonathan and i actually agreed on this, there's nobody who says it would be a good idea for the president to do it. everybody thinks it's catastrophic. >> but being a good idea and being possible are two different things. >> right. and i have to say, this is where norman and i disagree. i think this would be an exceptionally close question. one of the longest inresolved questions of the constitution. there's no clear answer here. i would give the president a 50/50 shot on it. i think it's not clear how a court would rule. >> it would go to a supreme court. >> that's right. where i dis agragree, this is n judicial act, not being a judge in your own case. the type of authority cited for that proposition often deals with judges and this is an extrajudicial act, a political act. the act of a pardon is a transcendence over the judicial process and i think that where norm's arguments fall short is they would go too far. i mean, norm has argued, for example, that the constitution says that regardless of
impeachment, you can still be tried criminally. in article 1. the problem is that article -- that same argument would mean the president couldn't pardon anyone in his administration from vice president to cabinet members who are subject to impeachment. >> so, norm, didn't they look into this during the nixon white house? >> they did. the office of legal counsel looked at it four days before nixon resigned. of course, those are nixon's lawyers. and they determined that a president cannot pardon himself. if you go back, jonathan, to these debates -- well, not at olc, there was not. not at olc. of course, nixons own lawyers said he could pardon himself. not at the justice department. anderson, if you go back to the debates in the constitution, contrary to my learned friend's view, you look at the debates, you have jachmes wilson saying,f course, a president can be impeached and prosecuted.
well, that would make no sense if the president could pardon himself, then he couldn't be prosecuted. >> the problem -- >> anderson, our constitution is a living document, it lives on common sense. this notion is absurd that the president can do -- imagine he could go -- he could go out on pennsylvania avenue, take bribes, shoot people, walk back in the oval office, sign a pardon for himself, do it again the next day. i'm afraid of who he might target if he had that power. it is absurd, jonathan. >> i don't want you to have an aneurism, but i do want to mention a couple things. first of all, the president doesn't pardon himself out of state crimes. the president going around shooting people, he's not going to protect himself from state charges. >> bribery, though. federal bribery. >> most importantly, the argument that norm just made, once again, has no limiting princip principle. the same argument could be made he wouldn't pardon the vice president or cabinet member. >> if that person -- >> right, because they also would have to be prosecuted
under the same argument. no one has made that argument so i problem i think with norm's interpretation, i'm not saying it's not a good faith interpretation, he has good arguments to make, is that you need to have some way to thread this needle. the text of the constitution would support donald trump in giving himself a self-pardon. that doesn't mean he will prevail but it is not absurd. >> all right. i have to leave it there. professor turley, norm eisen. more on breaking news, president trump talking about replacing jeff sessions according to a new report just out in the "washington post." we'll talk about that next.
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jeff sessions' days as attorney general may be numbered. breaking news tonight. the "washington post" reporting president trump is discussing possibly replacing him. a short time ago, i spoke with "washington post" reporter matt zepatosky. so, matt, what have you learned? >> well, we learned as president trump and his aides have been discussing possibly removing jeff sessions as attorney general which maybe isn't a total surprise given what he told "the new york times" last week. but interesting that it's maybe not just him venting and not thinking about what he's saying, but a calculated move and considering, you know, getting somebody else in there. >> do you have any idea based on your reporting how serious the discussions, what level they're at, or what the kind of permutations are being discussed? >> we understand at this stage, it is pretty informal. some names have been floated, but maybe not even with the president,