tv Washington Journal Hans von Spakovsky Discusses the Russia Investigation CSPAN June 11, 2017 1:55pm-2:35pm EDT
saying -- director comey's saying highly those memos. the president asked me three times for he voluntarily said you are not under investigation to the president of the united states. comey made it clear multiple times the president ever after the stop the russia investigation. the comment about how we should let this go relate to michael flynn, but it never came up again and no one from the white house brought it up again after that initial conversation on february 14. what is the background of it, what other information can we gain? we went into a classified session with jim coming for grady -- jim comey for greater details on the russian portion of it. lot deeper information to get to. >> you said you thought the president should face a deposition. are you willing to take yes for an answer? but thed i am,
deposition is not just about his conversations with mr. comey. there was issues with respect to his conversations with director of national intelligence dan coats, admiral rodgers, the nsa director,'s relationships with paul manafort. is readyme mr. mueller to have the president speak undergrowth there will be a myriad of questions. i don't to see i will talk about comey and not anything else. to resolve the situation he has to be prepared to speak in all these matters. >> would you also like to see the president testified undergrowth before congress? >> i will raise the issue of separation of powers. thehat point i think history would suggest that is not done often. the special prosecutor, mr. mueller, is the person charged to conduct this investigation. i believe he is the appropriate individual to conduct these
investigations. we expect more questions this week on the russia investigation. attorney general jeff sessions announced late yesterday he has accepted an invitation to appear before the senate intelligence committee on tuesday to answer questions raised in the hearings with former fbi director james comey. on tuesday, the attorney general was scheduled to testify at two separate budget hearings, but has instead asked his deputy attorney general to take his voice. as of now it is unclear whether the senate intelligence committee will be with the attorney general and an open or closed session. we take a closer look at what said by former fbi director james comey this past week on capitol hill, from washington journal this runs 30 minutes. host: he is a nice for a election laws and focused closely of the hearings past week with a fired fbi director
james comey. what did you learn. guest: it wasn't so much what new we learned. a lot of it was confirmation. the most important thing with regard to the election is when comey was asked he said there was no evidence that the russians or any loss actually hacked into our voting process, the balloting process, the administration of elections. it puts the rest of the idea that somebody, somehow altered the results of the election. that's the important thing for the american people to know. the other thing that came out was even if what happened in the white house between comey and donald trump in their conversation occurred, that is not -- that is not because standards of the instruction of justice statute. there are 22 statutes on obstruction of justice in the federal code. the only one that applies is 18
usc 15 a three. --1503. that does not meet the elements of that statute. that punctured the balloon. the other thing that came out was something nobody heard which comey sayingg -- when he was about to testify about the numeral scandal -- the clinton gmail scandal he was called by loretta lynch are told him i don't you referring to this as an investigation in public. i want you referring to it as a matter. 20 asked why, she did not explain. she said i just want you to do that. the problem is that is the language the clinton campaign was using, calling in a matter, not an investigation. it was as if the attorney general was parroting the clinton campaign and trying to help. that is not unlawful but concerning the attorney general was behaving that kind of
behavior. host: jeff sessions will be testifying before the senate intelligence committee. he spent six years working in the justice department. based on what you know, how is he preparing to the hearings? why did he agreed to testify before this committee? guest: i do not think we are going to learn a lot because session does not know much about this. everyone should really that he recused himself of -- remember that he recused himself from anything that has to do with the russian investigation. so the standard way anyone prepares at the justice department is their staff basically goes through and researches all the questions that they think their principal helps prepare and answers for it. when it comes to an ongoing law-enforcement investigation, you cannot give an answer. you saw comey do that quite a bit in his hearing. with an ongoing law-enforcement
investigation, you cannot give out details that might compromise the investigation or therew affect a trial, if is one, down the road. so there are a lot of questions that general sessions will not one,le to answer -- because there is an ongoing investigation, and two, because he recused himself from this. learn later onll whether this is a public-private classified closed-door briefing. mind that keep in that did happen with comey. it did not get a lot of publicity, but the senate intelligence committee has open hearings were everyone can come, and then they close the door if there will be any kind of discussion of classified material. host: where do you think this is all going to lead? think this ist going to lead anywhere. the other big thing that came than kobe's testimony, people have been talking about supposedly that the geisha and of -- comey's testimony, people
have been talking about collusion. he will have been talking -- comey came out said that the new york times story in february was false. there was no evidence of collusion between trump campaign people and russian intelligence operatives. i think that, again, punctures a huge balloon that has been floating out there about that particular issue. host: we are talking to hans von zukowski with the heritage foundation. we're discussing the hearing, which we discover -- covered on the c-span networks. >> here is the question. you are baked, you are strong. , you are strong. i know the oval office and what happens to people when they walk
in. there is a certain amount of intimidation. but why did you not stop and say mr. president, this is wrong. i cannot discuss this with you. >> that is a great question. maybe if i were stronger i would have. i was so stunned by the conversation that i just took it in, and the only thing i could think to say, as i was playing it through my mind, because our member every word he said -- i remember every word he said, and i thought what my response should be. i have seen between about tapes. lordy, i hope there are taped. i remember him saying i agree, he is a good guy, as a way of saying i am not agreeing with what you asked me to do. a be other people would be stronger in that is how i conducted myself. another never have opportunity. if i could do it again, i would do it better. in hindsight, was that a
mistake and should he have handled that differently? guest: if he believed that something was going on that shouldn't be, not a state general discussion of the investigation but actually asked to dot he was something improper, he knows, as a former top official in the justice department and the bush administration, that he should have immediately either contacted the white house counsel's office, the attorney general of the united states or his office, or the inspector general at the justice department. the fact that he did none of those, quite frankly, strikes me as most active suddenly saying he thought there was a problem after he had been fired me -- fired. why is the president hinting and then backing off on the idea of tapes? guest: i do not really understand. know what is-- going on there. host: weeks after being
described as not job by donald recap today's conversation with the president as a clash between the legal principles of the foundation of american democracy and a venal, self-interested politician who does not recognize, let alone , the principles comey articulated and those who hold them guiding this investigation into the days ahead. guest: i do not think the new york times knows what it is talking about. it forgets that the chief enforcement -- chief law-enforcement officer of the united states is not the fbi, or the attorney general, it is the president. what was going on in that conversation -- a reasonable person could construe it as a balance of thehe equities in the case. that is something that the fbi director, the attorney general do all the time, and in many cases. maybe the president should not have had the conversation, but
nobody can claim it was a violation of the law, in particular because of this. comey also said that a month later after the investigation, he had a phone call with the president, and in that phone to the -- comey said president, told him once again that he was not under investigation in the russia investigation. the president said to him look, if any of my satellite associates are involved, that is something we should find out. those are not the words of somebody trying to tell the fbi director to stop the russia investigation. host: we had a call on this in the first hour, selected for this on the table. a lot of people are speculating about what bill clinton said to then attorney general loretta lynch lynch on the air -- loretta lynch on the tarmac last year. guest: i'm not the attorney general, i have never been the attorney general, but i have been involved in cases and i
know when you have to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest or what should have happened on that tarmac is when bill clinton came up the steps into the plane, despite the fact that he is the ex-president, the attorney general should have said to him sir, i'm very sorry, but we cannot speak because your wife is the target of an fbi investigation, and the f ei director report -- fbi director reports to me. instead, they had a discussion and we do not know about what. that was some think she should not have done because she had every duty to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and that is certainly what happened. host: our guest served in the civil rights division of the justice department from 2001-2006. he is also the co-author of a book "loose counting: how fraudsters and bureaucrats put your vote at risk." good morning. caller: good morning, how are you?
to assume this conversation is really about the veracity of mr. comey and the president, and my correct? -- am i correct? frankly is a democrat, i was very take that mr. comey last ticked at mr. comey last year. as far as the heritage can mission -- commission, when mr. liep, years ago, began the that mr. obama was not an american citizen, and questioned not only his birthright, but , in estimated his parentage heard no big cry from the heritage foundation about how presidential, how he looked? mistaken, there
were some russian people involved in that investigation. guest: thoughts -- host: your response? guest: the real issue here is was there any kind of attempt of an obstruction of justice? i am not sure what happened years ago, that was not the topic of the hearing that mr. comey had last week. and thec was russia investigation conducted by the fbi. mr. comey said the president is not being investigated. that is the important issue involved. did the russians in any way interfere with the american election? fromwe actually heard former fbi director comey was that so far, they have no evidence that that occurred. host: this is from rick, asking why the room was cleared by tried toore he sway comey? guest: i do not know the answer remember that jeff
sessions was recusing himself from any involvement in the russia investigation because he was an early supporter of president trump. so again, i do not really see that relevant to the issue. the point again is obstruction of justice statute has a very specific element you have to meet, and i do not think they came close to meeting those areas. host: our guest is hans von spark off the -- sparkovsy, . the heritage foundation is a propaganda mill for the white ring republican party. party.t-wing republican comey said that if instruction of justice was going on, he could not comment on it, and the was cowed bytment
the way trump was trying to get andto promise total loyalty to drop charges against his man you gotnd this guy, there, you should have somebody on the other side with him. a set up job where you have one witness who is just trying to feed us a line of malarkey about the fact that somehow comey vindicated trump because he was afraid to tell the truth to trump, and the investigation might lead to him being involved, which is what comey clearly spelled out because he was afraid for his job and being forced to say things that he did not really want to say. host: we will get a response, thank you for the call. guest: i have to say it is always a clue to what is going
on with somebody when they engage with a personal attack rather than the substance and discussion of the issue. -- ar than being what sponsor for big corporations want, you might want to look into what the heritage foundation had as far as the export-import bag, which is something a lot of countries -- companies in this country wanted and go to going --, going back to mr. comey and this discussion, i worked with the justice department, i am a veteran to that department. if i was asked to do something that i thought was unethical or or iful, i would resign would immediately call the inspector general. i would remind everyone that comey did none of those things, and he had an obligation to do so. he knew he had an obligation to do so. nowas not like he had government experience before.
he used to have one of the top position that the justice department. ifknew where his duty lay you thought something unlawful was going on. he did not think so at the time, but he did not do anything about it. host: jerry is next, on the independent line. good morning. caller: good morning. that you know, i want the investigation to go on, america, not democrats, not republicans. it should be a disgrace that not one republican could even think that this man, who has been lying since day one, is an office doing all kinds of backdoor deals. they complained about obama president tohts as do certain things. this man is behind closed doors -- heeverything abundant
funded a pipeline where he did not care about the indians, their family, their forefathers, he kept saying to put it in there as a gift to the indians. ,e need to sit back though because trump should be in jail by the end of this year. this guy who is sitting here -- c-span i have a lot of respect sideou until i saw one secure like he is so intelligent. he is the top, whatever you are. you are not the top. you should have two versions. that is all i have to say, you should have two versions. host: we will get another perspective and about 20 minutes, but we appreciate you taking calls and responding. guest: obviously, you do not like president trump, but the issue here today is was there russian involvement in the election, and legal involvement -- a legal involvement in the
election ended the president do something unlawful? the evidence out of that hearing was no to all of those. the russia investigation is reviewoing on, but let's this idea that the russians somehow got into the elections and altered it was denied by james comey, and it was denied six months ago by jeh johnson, president obama's former secretary of homeland security. that is the real issue of what is going on here, what happened there. host: the president has nominated chris wray. story from the new york times website, who is christopher wray? i actually know him. he was a lawyer who worked at the justice department the same time i was there, and i would like to point out to your audience that i was a career politicalot a appointee. christopher wray is a kylie qualified professional -- highly
qualified professional, and everyone who expects the fbi to detailedly investigation, they will get that. and to your audience, this is an important point about director comey. last are, democrats all over capitol hill and elsewhere rightfully calling for him to be been, and he should have fired for the way he mishandled the clinton email investigation. he took a lot of steps that he should not have taken, and i will give you just one. the fbi director is in charge of doing federal investigation. when they are done with that investigation, that has to be turned over to the justice department, where the prosecutors and attorney generals decide whether or not the evidence uncovered the investigation is worth prosecuting. whether there is enough to go after someone. he short-circuited that. he held a press conference in which he said well, i have clinton is not going to be prosecuted, and then proceeded to make very negative
comments about her, in part because of that meeting of -- host: in part because of that meeting between bill clinton and loretta lynch. but that is not the way you operate. he should have turned that over to the attorney general to make a decision. if you believe there was some kind of problem with turning it over to the attorney general, if he believes he had a conflict of interest, that is the point at which she filed -- he files a report with the inspector general of the justice department, who is an independent. the inspector general was appointed by president obama. he should have contacted the inspector general if he thought it was a problem, but he and the fbi director making the decision on that, that broke all the rules and protocols of how the operates, no matter if there is a democrat or republican in the white house. host: our guest is hans bosco koski --hans von's
spokovsky of the heritage foundation. caller: i was wondering if and when could answer the question as to whether fbi director comey targetedr -- mueller conservative citizens with ability whatsoever, and will the special counsel be a conflict of interest and overseeing that investigation against the republicans as a target? host: it was, mr. comey was in charge of the fbi when the irs started targeting conservatives. i'm not sure why there would be a conflict of interest for mr. mueller, who is the special counsel that has been designated to look into this. it was definitely mr. comey and they are the ones who decided that there was no criminal violation of the law. i do not think that was correct, but that was no another decision
made by mr. comey. line ofd another questioning from senator langford of the senate intelligence committee. >> is there any sign that the president is not fond of this investigation? i can think of a hundred 140 word expressions to describe that he is not fond of this testimony. you are trained to keep these away for many, the president might have made. quite frankly, the president has informed about 6 billion people he is not fond of this investigation. you think there is a difference there? >> yes. >> what is the big difference in kicking superior officers out of the oval office, looking at the fbi director and saying i hope you let this go. i think if agents are as good as they are heard of the president of the united states did that, there is a real whisk dutch risk of a chilling effect on their work. that is why we kept it tight. ask about the 17
senators who asked questions. were they the right questions? good: the questions were ones. that helped get out a lot of the information that came out. but i really would have liked to and mr. comey explain why, a better fashion, why he thought there was something unlawful .oing on again, why he did not contact the white house counselor's office, why did he contact the office of the -- why did he not contact the office of the attorney general, inspector general, or to take advantage of the federal whistleblower statute and go to congress? go to one of the relevant committees on the house side? he did none of those. for me to believe him as being credible on this issue when it was clear he did not take any of those basic steps when you think something is going on but shouldn't be. i do not think he was questioned enough about that particular
issue. guest: host: -- host:-- host: and a tweet from one of followers, the queue for the tweet. "interesting that comey and mueller are friends." guest: i think special counsels by themselves always have a conflict of interest, that being they feel the need to justify their investigations and the amount of time and resources. you hardly ever find special counsel's coming back and saying we looked into this and did not find anything wrong. didn this and with the clinton impeachment over monica lewinsky? right. there are all kind of special counsels going on and on and on, and constantly expanding what they are looking at. that is one of the reasons -- everyone should recall that the independent counsel statute was not renewed by congress, because
they recognize the drawbacks of that kind of system, of having .omeone who is not tangible and that is a problem with special counsel law. the whole government is designed through the executive branch to have accountability, and these prosecutors have no accountability. host: good morning. caller: good morning, how are you? host: fine. caller: i will make this short. in the end, it is about morality. my grandparents raise me, i grew up in the segregated south, and when i see jeff sessions, it reminds me of how i grew up as a young man and he is a part of that old regime, and it breaks my heart to see -- immoral is immoral. hillary clinton -- i am a democrat, but she is immoral. -- to seeesident people defending this man, it is crazy.
i will not be overdramatic here, but if i had to leave my grandkids, and they gave me a choice between barack obama and the current presidency, you have to choose one -- it is simple, easy. any fair-minded person -- this is about character, who would you leave your granddaughter with? barack obama, or the current president. look, i'm not defending the president, but we are talking about whether or not he engaged in any on legal -- it legal or unlawful behavior or anyone in his campaign did, and i'm saying based on the code -- testimony mr. cohen began last week, there is no evidence that that happened. sessions is wrong to say that he is part of the old segregation cell. you may not realize this, but in fact, he was a key person when
he was the u.s. attorney in alabama in helping to lead to the investigation of -- and because of the ku klux klan in this day. -- bothferent people of democrats and republicans -- have decided his work -- cited his work that he got the death penalty for many members of the ku klux klan that occurred in a horrendous case in alabama. something about jeff sessions like that indicates you really do not know much of his background and what he did when he was the attorney in alabama. host: and you are from alabama? guest: i am, i grew up there, i am aware of what is going on there, and he did a lot to try and bring about the new south in places like alabama. williamstown, kentucky, independent line. caller: good morning, steve. i have to comment, i am calling
from the independent line, but i like to point out that director comey -- i do not know what personality goods lit a country on both sides for so long, and desk could split a country on both sides for so long, and mueller, i think i have some confidence in him. they say that he was the fbi director for 10 years. i have never heard his name. so it seems to me that maybe he as a law man,ob and went out and did what he was supposed to do. it seems like this particular director, for whatever reasons, on both sides with the democrats for a while and the republicans, he has really caused a lot of divisiveness in this country and i am glad he is off the stage. host: thanks, roger. guest: i agree with the caller. what you want in an fbi director is not a politician, but a
professional law enforcement official. that was not mr. comey. he mishandled the clinton investigation to the detriment of mrs. clinton, and that was on the nose pointed out in the memo that was produced by the deputy -- rody general, -- in rosenstein, and if you talk to the people in the fbi who do the work, special agents and everybody else, they will tell you that he is too much a politician. i think that was evident in his mishandling of the clinton investigation and frankly, many other things he has done. i hope that they are getting a real professional, a law enforcement professional, some of the who is not partisan -- someone who is not partisan to direct this effort. our last call is john, from glenview, illinois. caller: good morning to you.
-- someonestion earlier, a lady, called and brought up trump's support for the birther issue. part of your response was that is not what the comey testimony was about, and i went back, i rewound my dvr to make sure i got this right, but part of your response was "the comey testimony was about to the russians in any way interfere with the election? " what we heard from comey that we had no evidence that that occurred. thinking maybe you misspoke or meant to say that comey said we have no evidence that there was no collusion with the campaign or other americans in that interference, but he made it clear that not only did we have evidence that there was -- evidence of russian meddling, but we had so much of it and so concrete that he had no doubt and the intelligence communities had no doubt. guest: i would be happy to clarify that. what i said was is that he
agreed -- you are correct. he was convinced and the intelligence community was convinced that the russians tried to interfere in the election come but he also said they had no evidence that they were in any way successful in attacking, cyber attacking or manipulating the voting and the process. it is important to distinguish that. you can find both of that in his testimony. it is also important to note that he said in the reports that there was collaboration between members of the trump campaign and russian intelligence, they were not true. the newspaper story saying that, it was not the case. so the new york times and others got conned by anonymous sources. he made it clear that the russians tried mildly to interfere in the election process, but then he said they were not actually able to do it. -- toif you were asked
ask a question of senator sessions on tuesday, what would be your first? guest: when is he going to get at theaff to help them justice department? one of the biggest bar bums -- one of the biggest problems right now is that the justice department is a large department, and the confirmation process has been the, and he is running justice department with a handful of people. it makes it difficult for him to get anything done. koski -- s on spock pakovsky, heritage foundation and the washington journal. >> coming up monday morning, james gilson discusses how the republicans helped reform gelfandion -- james discusses how other a look and helped reform legislation.
and we talk about the week ahead for congress and the white house. be sure to watch washington journal, live at 7:00 a.m. eastern monday morning. join the discussion. live coverage happening on our companion networks this week. on c-span2, the annual printers he isit fest in chicago talking about his book "sex and the constitution," and other authors to speak later on their own writings. american history tv on c-span3, we have live coverage from the gettysburg college civil war institute. coming up this afternoon, look at american outlaw jesse james and his activities of the confederate guerrilla during the civil war. >> world war i, world war ii,
and the vietnam war and the were on terror. is in hyde park, new york, where we go inside for a rare look at fdr's personal office and collection of artifacts with the museum structure. -- director. essentiallyme the the northern oval office. he had an incredibly quiz of mine, so there are 22,000 books -- inquisitive mind, so there are 22,000 books in this room. it is almost identical to the way it was on the day that fdr died. nothing has changed. the franklin dom roosevelt presidential library and museum in hyde park, new york. that is tonight at eight: -- 8:00that's eight at eastern on c-span. >> in case you missed it on c-span, retired brigadier
general jerrod calloway on the possible threat of climate change on national security. >> if you go back to older field manuals, there is one from the 1980's that said whether and to are -- weather and terrain the most michigan facets of battlefield combat. whether it is runways clear to tod on or pills you have climb overseas, but if they change the military is concerned about that. they have long had an interest in dealing with things like this and forecasting what might happen. >> discussions with jim sensenbrenner at a town hall meeting. >> [indiscernible] [applause] >> like i said in the beginning of the meeting, interruptions, you know, are not going to be tolerated. [indiscernible] ok, would you please sit down
sir? he has the floor, you do not. would you please sit down? would you please sit down, or go out in the hallway. gavel]g >> thank you for leaving. >> i will ask both of you the same question. why are you not answering these questions? is there an indication by the president of the united states of executive religion is there are not? privilege? is there or not? >> there is not. >> then why are you not answering my questions? >> and changes to the dodd frank act. >> today we released a report titled "what the cop on the beat." this is regarding the wholly inadequate role in investigating fraudulent account
scandal. we have received numerous records from both wells fargo and the occ and others that --icate that the cfp be was wheel.s asleep at the >> members of the house freedom caucus on their tax policy proposals, and the legislative agenda in the weeks ahead. from the heritage foundation, this runs one hour. >> good morning. we are fine, we are fine. >> good morning, welcome to the heritage foundation. we welcome those who join us on our website, those who are joining us on c-span tv as well. for those in house, we would