tv The Daily Briefing With Dana Perino FOX News September 17, 2019 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
him through this committee for eight months. so i think following proceed sure is something that you have to look at because your idea is not really -- >> point of order. the time has expired. >> if he wishes. he doesn't wish. >> good morning, mr mr. lewandowski. i'm questioning you right now. thank you. the president asked you who had no role at all in the white house to deliver that message to attorney general sessions. the president could have just picked up the phone himself at any time and called the attorney general. the president also had a full staff of executive employees right down the hall. so this made me wonder. the president thought what he was doing was legal, why didn't he just pick up the phone and
call attorney general sessions, or why not ask any member of his staff who worked right down the hall to deliver a message? it is clear to me that the reason he went to you, mr. lewandowski, is because everyone said no. so i want to ask you about that. two days before meeting you, the president had called white house counsel mcgann at home on a saturday to fire the special counsel, saying, and you can see that on the screen, mueller has to go, call me back when you do it, plain and simple. but mcgann refused. when the president asked you to deliver that message, did he, the president, tell you that two days before your meeting his white house counsel had refused to fire the special counsel? volume 1186 is where you find that language. volume 2. when the president asked you -- did you hear the question? >> i'm sorry.
can you repeat the question? >> when the president asked you to deliver that message, did he, the president, tell you two days before that meeting his white house counsel refused to fire the special counsel? >> the white house directed me that i not disclose any discussions with the president. >> you are not allowed to answer whether the president told you he called his counsel at home on saturday to remove the special counsel and counsel said no. the president had also personally called sessions at home and asked him to unrecuse himself and oversee the special counsel's investigation and session said no. when the president asked you to deliver his message to sessions, did the president tell you sessions already said no, volume 2, page 107 >> i recognize the privilege is not mine, but skeufbed by the white house -- congresswoman, i'd be happy to answer your question, or you can have a conversation with yourself. don't ask me a question if you don't want to hear my time. >> this is a house judiciary,
not a house party. >> so if you ask me a question, give me the opportunity to answer your question. >> i'd like my time restored please of his interruption. so he was a witness to the special counsel's investigation. for that reason, sessions said publicly that federal law prohibited his involvement in the special counsel's investigation. here's a quote from the report fro volume 2 pages 49-50 which is on the screen. you can read that. yes or no, did the president tell you the attorney general was not allowed to take part in the special counsel's investigation when the president asked you to deliver the note about that investigation. did the president tell you that? >> you just read it on the screen, congress woman. >> you need to look at the screen. yes or no? read the screen. >> you're welcome to read it, congress woman.
>> you're welcome to be stalling. i'm not gonna stall. answer the question yes or no. did he tell you nobody at the white house was supposed to contact the attorney general about the investigation? that you can answer yes or no. >> i will not disclose any conversation i had with the president. >> again, you are here to block any reasonable inquiry into the truth or not of this administration. the white house counsel's quote, shortly after sessions accused his recusal directed that sessions should not be contacted about the special counsel's investigation. in fact, the white house counsel's internal note states no contact with sessions and no communication serious about instruction. can you read that? i just said it. can you read that. did you hear me? >> yes, is there a question? >> did the president tell you, as white house counsel told him, no contact with sessions because of serious concerns of obstruction when he asked you to deliver a message to sessions? >> i'm respecting the executive
branch privilege of confidentiality and i will recognize that at this time. >> let me just say that you knew -- did you know the president was putting you at risk when he asked you to deliver a message to the attorney general? i want to be very clear. the president knew what he was doing was wrong because everyone el had already said no. he called his white house counsel to fire the special counsel. mcgann said no. he called the attorney general to ask him to unrecuse himself from the special counsel's investigation. sessions said no. his white house counsel said there's to be no contact with sessions because of his recusal. so what does the president do? he calls you in to do what everyone el wouldn't do. he calls you in to do your dirty work because he knew it was wrong. >> time. >> we will expose the truth. the president cannot hide behind you any longer. you should be here to be telling the truth. the truth will set you free and the american people. i yield back. >> the time has expired.
the witness may answer the question. >> i don't believe there was a question, congressman. >> very well. >> could you repeat the question? just a rant. >> the lady's time has expired. >> did you know the attorney general recused -- >> the gentleman from ohio is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. lewandowski, thank you for appearing this afternoon to testify before this committee. i understand that you've spent many hours testifying voluntarily before congress over the last few years. isn't that correct? >> it is. >> if you had to hire and retain counsel to represent you for all the investigations that you've had to endure, simply because you served as the president's campaign manageer? >> yes, sir. >> that's unfortunate because you didn't solicit or receive assistance from the russian, did you? >> no, sir. >> are you an agent working on
behalf of the russian government? >> no, sir. >> as a close friend and adviser of the president, you don't believe that the president is working on behalf of the russians, do you? >> absolutely not. >> and to your knowledge, there is no effort on the part of the president to intentionally obstruct justice, is there? >> no, sir. >> thank you. and yet again, coming here to tell this committee what we, special counsel mueller and the american public already know, the president did not collude with the russians nor did he obstruct justice. that's not to say the russians weren't trying to interfere, influence our 2016 presidential election. it's clear that they were, by sending fake texts and operating fake facebook pages and holding fake rallies, all in an effort to try to influence the outcome of the election.
democrats want to ignore all of the real evidence of russian interference and hold this fake impeachment because it happened under a different president's watch. this all happened under president obama's watch, isn't that correct? >> yes, sir. >> it was the obama administration that failed to protect us from the russian interference and influence in our election, isn't that also true? >> yes. >> president trump wasn't president. he wasn't the one that failed to protect the country. if anybody failed, it was the obama administration, is that right? >> yes, it is. >> i have said it before and i'll say it again. we're wasting valuable committee time engaging in this impeachment investigation. the fact of the matter is, one thing this committee could be doing is to question inspector general horowitz concerning the bias against the president at the origins of the russia investigation. we could be questioning horowitz about his recent report how,
then fbi director comey, mishandled department memos. this committee has such a rich history, has jurisdiction over a whole lot of very significant things. we're spending our time on this fake impeachment, but we could be focused on something that really matters, like immigration, asylum. we have hundreds of thousands of people that have entered our southern border. generally, they're brought up either individually or in groups, caravan, usually often times connected with cartels. cartels make a lot of money when they come up here. they're told the magic words. come across the border. they say they're in fear and come right into our country, and we put them on a bus or plane and they're sent to communities all across the country. that's something this committee should be working in a bipartisan manner to do something about. opioids. we have about 70,000 americans who lost their lives in opioids
last year. that's something in the jurisdiction of this committee, yet we do virtually nothing about it in this committee. balanced budget amendment, something i have introduced in this congress. we got a $22 trillion debt hanging over our head, yet we do nothing in this committee about attempting to actually pass something that would make us balance the budget every year like all our states have to do. so finally, i just want to thank you again, mr. lewandowski, for appearing at today's hearing. perhaps your testimony today will finally convince democrats that there are much more important things that this committee could be spending our time on, rather than continuing to pursue this fake impeachment, an faux impeachment. the bottom line is, they don't have the votes in the house to move forward, for the house to vote or this committee to open up an impeachment inquiry. they don't have the votes. some of the democrats want to vote for it, some of the democrats would vote against it, but they don't have the votes.
so what they do is spend valuable committee time that we could be spending on other important things on this fake, faux impeachment. and it's a shame, because this committee could be doing so much more on behalf of the american people. with that, i yield back. >> mr. chairman, point of parliamentary inquiry? >> gentle man will state his point of parliamentary. >> the witness answered a long line of questions from the gentle man from ohio about whether donald trump had colluded with the russians, but he never testified as to any of those things before special counsel mueller. can he now continue to invoke this white house rationale that he's confined to the four corners of the mueller report when he's gone way beyond it in his responses to the questioning from the gentle man from ohio? >> regardless of whether he went beyond the four corners of the mueller report and the answers
that he gave to the last questioner, regardless of that -- i'm glad to hear he favors the patriots even though that's not in the mueller report. regarding the long series of answers he gave that weren't in the mueller report, the claim of privilege made by the witness is improper for the reasons set forth in our letter today to the white house and to the witness's counsel. that said, i will take the claim of privilege under advisement. >> mr. chairman, parliamentary inquiry. did you answer his parliamentary inquiry? you just sort of skipped on the executive privilege here. act least acknowledge it was not a parliamentary inquiry. >> the gentlestphaeupbted the parliamentary inquiry. >> he did not. that was a statement. >> i answered his parliamentary inquiry. the gentleman from tennessee is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chair. mr. lewandowski, it's been made clear you were not employed at
the white house. you had no w-2, no card. you had nothing. you were not an employee. and you were a policeman at one time, so you know something about the law and about following the law. didn't you think it was strange that the president would sit down with you one on one and ask you to do something that you knew was against the law? did that strike you as strange? >> i disagree with the premise of your congress. >> you weren't a policeman? >> i didn't think the president asked me to do anything illegal. >> you didn't think it would have been illegal for you to ask mr. sessions to drop the investigation and just go on to future presidents and o mit everything for this president and say we're gonna start with the next one about colluding with russia. you didn't think it was illegal to object struck justice? >> the president didn't ask me to do anything illegal. >> obviously, you've never been a judge and won't be one. he gave you dictation. he dictated to you a message to give sessions.
had you ever been a secretary to the president and taken dictation or shorthand? >> many times. >> we got your qualifications now. you were a secretary. he asked you outside white house channels, that's what mueller wrote, this was outside white house channels. could he have asked you to get the message to sessions because you would do whatever he asked, just like your former boss who said you were an implementer. news day called you the president's enforcer. usa today said lewandowski's background is a trump guy, not a strategist, not a campaign manager but as a right hand man, a body man and enforcer. esquire went further and said one time campaign manager for donald trump has the traits of an enforcer and the conflict resolution skills to match. and you've even described yourself in your book, let trump by trump, you said we were fine with whatever role the president wanted us to play. donald trump's army, there were
only loyal soldiers. your previous boss was convicted of corruption and lying to authorities. you were fired from americans for prosperity after being accused of voter fraud. you are now involved in this. either you were willing to break the law for politics and mr. trump or you are some kind of forest gump relating to corruption. let me ask you this. did the president pick you as enforcer he thought you would play whatever role he wanted? >> that would be a question for the president, mr. congressman. >> well, donald trump was right though. first the white house counsel, don mcgann refused to firespecial counsel. mr. mcgann refused to do what he knew would be an illegal act. then attorney general sessions, who recused himself, was asked to unrecuse himself, but attorney general sessions also not did the raoeu thing. i'm not going to recuse myself.
i have a conflict. i was involved in campaign. can't do it. then the white house counsel advised the president not even to contact sessions. but you, his loyal soldier, would do it. you were different from session and mcgann. trump could depend on you. you did not ask me questions. you took dictation. you gave to it hope hicks. you asked her to type it up for you. not that you couldn't have done it yourself, i'm sure. then asked somebody else to deliver the message to sessions when you decided not to. donald trump talked to you outside normal channels. the president knew what he was doing was wrong. mr. sessions knew what he was doing was wrong. mr. mcgann knew what he was doing was wrong. you seem to be the only person who didn't think it was wrong. but mr. trump was wrong. at the last minute you got cold feet. you chickened out. the president's trust was
misplaced. you decided not to do what you told the president you were going to do and you handed it off to somebody else. did you realize at some point that mr. nay, your former boss, got involved in criminal problems and went to prison and maybe you were going to be the next one? did that cross your mind? did you ever think about bob nay's situation and going to prison? >> congressman nay went to prison many years after i left his employment. i'm sure you can clear up the record. >> i'm asking did you learn from his experience and realize that what you were asked to do was illegal and you didn't want to end up in prison. the public will determine that. this has been more obstruction of congress by this administration and you followed their instructions and you're doing just exactly what you thought they'd do. you're a loyal soldier. except you didn't follow trump's instructions. you chickened out at the last minute. you got cold feet.
>> gentleman yields back. the gentleman from ohio. >> mr. lewandowski, you ran president trump's campaign between january 2015 and june 2016, is that right? >> yes. >> you were at the helm of the campaign when president trump secured the republican nomination. >> yes. >> pretty good campaign you ran. >> thank you. >> i mean, you beat 17, 18 different opponents, senators, governors. course, you had a pretty good candidate. >> the best. >> pretty good candidate who i think's done a great job as president of the united states. after you left the campaign, i think you left in june of 2016. after you left the head of the campaign, were you still involved with the campaign throughout the rest of the election all the way up until november 2016? >> yes. >> that entire time, so you were part of the campaign operation at some level or another from january 2015 to november 2016. during that entire time, you guys ever work with russia to impact the election? >> no.
>> do you know what's interesting, mr. lewandowski? when jim comey was asked that same question sitting at that same table, he gave the same answer. bob mueller was asked that same question sitting at that same table, he gave the same answer. falsely accused, the president falsely accused of colluding with a foreign agency. james comey said after ten months of investigation, we didn't have a thing. bob mueller gets named special counsel. he wastes $30 million of taxpayer money, 22 month investigation. he sits there just a few weeks ago and gives the same darn answer. these guys over here, they don't care. they don't care. they don't want to figure out how the false accusation happened. they just want to drag people in front of this committee and keep trying to find some way they can go after the president. go back to the process that the ranching member raised. did you testify in front of the senate intel committee in 2017? >> yes.
>> you testify in front of the house intelligence committee in 2017? >> yes. >> and you went before the special counsel and answered his questions in 2018, is that right? >> it is. >> you did that all voluntarily? >> yes. >> no subpoena? >> no, sir. >> said, i'm willing to comply. answer all the questions you got. >> yes. >> in your opening statement, how many hours did you sat in front of those various committees? >> more than 20. >> for this committee, did you get a better from this committee back in march asking you to comply with certain document requests that chairman nadler wanted to have? >> i believe so, yes. >> you and your legal team complied with that? >> yes, sir. >> june 24, you got another letter, is that right? >> yes. >> june 24 of this year you got another letter asking you to do an interview, a transcribed interview in front of the committee. your lawyer contacted chairman nadler and said we'd be happy to do that, is that right?
>> yes. >> give us some dates, we'll be happy to sit for an interview. >> that's right. >> what happened next? >> next, ab five weeks ago, the committee urb showed a subpoena for my appearance. >> you're willing to come voluntarily, just like you did with the intel house, just like you did for bob mueller, 20 hours. you're willing to do that. complied when they asked for certain documents. when they want you to come in for an interview, you say, sure, we'll do it, then hit you with a subpoena. >> yes. >> then start calling you names. kind of interesting. they're the ones who started it. they're the ones who slapped you with a subpoena when you were willing to come here voluntarily. >> it was. >> the demeanor you bring here today. first they change the rules last week in the middle of the congress. change the rules of the committee in the middle of the game. today they're not even going to follow the rules. the rules talked about stop asking questions after members
are done. we got this whole issue with consultants. maybe we would be better served if we did exactly what mr. chapman said. maybe we would be better served as the white house judiciary committee if we focused on how this whole false accusation started in the first place. what do you think, mr. lewandowski? >> i think it would be a great idea. >> maybe the american people would be better served than spending more time investigating something that's already had 32 months of investigation from jim comey and the fbi and bob mueller and the special counsel. maybe we would do that. do you know a great place to start? great place to start, mr. chairman? asked you about this one week ago today. great place to start would be the inspector general's report that was issued just three weeks ago. the scathing report about jim comey. that would be a nice place to start. but when i asked the chairman when we might have an opportunity to question mr. horowitz, he said, i don't know, i haven't thought about that. course, you haven't thought about that.
too busy trying to impeach the president. too busy slapping subpoenas on corey lewandowski. that's what the committee should be focused on. i yield back. >> the gentleman yield's back. gentleman from georgia. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. lewandowski, you are about like a fish being cleaned with a spoon. very hard to get an answer out of you. but let me ask you this, sir. based on the president's past statements, everybody knows that the president does not like for anybody to take notes when he's talking. in fact, he asks lawyers not to take official notes. you're aware of that, correct? >> i'm aware of the public account, sir. >> all right. fair enough. when the president met with you in the oval office one on one on june 19, 2017 to dictate a message to attorney general jeff sessions, he told you to, quote,
write this down, isn't that correct? >> that's accurate. >> and it was just you and the president in that meeting, correct? >> it was. >> and you knew that you needed to write down as fast as possible what the president was telling you so that you could make sure to capture the content of what he was telling you correctly, correct? >> i don't know that speed of writing was a criteria, but i tried to capture it to the best of my ability, congressman. >> thank you, sir. he dictated to you exactly what he wanted you to put into the mouth of attorney general jeff sessions, correct? >> i believe he asked me to deliver a message for jeff to consider delivering himself. >> it was a message that he intended for jeff, meaning jeff sessions, to deliver out loud and publicly. he wanted the public to know what he was saying, but he
wanted jeff to say it, correct? >> i believe the mueller report accurately depicts that. >> and mr. lewandowski, we've projected on the screen the message that the president dictated to you that he wanted you to deliver to the attorney general. it's on the screen. i'd like for you to read the first two sentences, if you would entertain that. >> as director mueller stated when asked to read from the report, and i quote, i would be happy to have you read it, congressman. >> would you prefer for me to read it instead of you? >> please. >> it says, i know that i recused myself from certain things having to do with specific areas, but our potus is being treated very unfairly. that's what he told you to write down and that's what you wrote down. i'll continue. he said, he shouldn't have a special prosecutor counsel because he hasn't done anything
wrong. that's what he wanted you to deliver to attorney general jeff sessions, correct? >> i believe that's an accurate representation. >> and he wanted you to deliver it to jeff so that jeff could say it to the people, right? >> i believe so. >> and you felt kind of squeamish, like that fish that you're trying to be right now, being scaled. you felt squeamish about delivering that message, correct? >> no, sir. >> well, why didn't you -- why did it take you so long and you never even delivered it. >> correct, i never delivered the message. >> you chickened out. >> i went on vacation. >> you went on vacation. so you put the message in the safe, in your safe, in your home, for safe keeping. correct, before you went on vacation. >> i took my kids to the beach. that was more a priority. >> president trump was hounding you about when are you gonna deliver that message, correct? >> completely inaccurate,
congressman. >> he asked you about it a few times, didn't he? >> no, he did not. >> he never asked you whether or not you had delivered that question? >> not on multiple occasions, no. >> one occasion. okay. you did mention it on one occasion. >> i don't know if that's in the report. >> you told him, i'm gonna get around to it. correct? >> i'd have to see the reference to the mueller report. >> it's in the report. >> can you direct me to the book and page? >> i don't need to waste any time with that. but let me tell you something. the next three sentences after those first two, would you read those, please. >> you're welcome to, congressman. >> he said shouldn't have a special prosecutor or counsel because he hasn't done anything wrong. i was on the campaign with him for nine months. there were no russians involved with him. i know it for a fact because i was there. now, the president wanted
attorney general to say that, but you didn't deliver the message. you knew that attorney general sessions had recused himself at that time. and since he had recused himself, you knew that it would have been against the law for him to comment in any way on that investigation. isn't that right? >> i did not know that. >> you did not know that? you did not know that? >> correct. >> time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from colorado. >> thank you for putting up with the harassment that you're putting up with right now. according to the alliance for securing democracy, russia interfered in the elections of bella ruse, canada, the czech republic, denmark, astonia, georgia, hungary, italy, lithuania, maldova, montenegro,
portugal, spain, sweden, turkey, united kingdom, ukraine and the united states. they specifically targeted the scottish independence vote, the brexit vote and angela merkel. despite knowledge of these election threats, the obama administration sat idly by, instead of warning the trump campaign, doj and james comey fbi used secret surveillance to spy on members of the trump campaign all while allowing election interference to occur. why isn't this hearing focused on holding doj and fbi leadership accountable for this kind of terrible malfeseance and lack of judgment? what was putin's ultimate goal? the former fbi agent and counter terrorism specialist said it is to attack and under mine democracy. the goal the to leavers feeling as if, quote, either the institutions are corrupt or you can't trust the vote, end of quote. this is the kind of classic
disinformation campaign that the kgb runs. as we all know, vladamir putin was a former leader of the kgb. in 2016, putin's goal could have been very simple. divide the american electorate, sow seeds of distrust, make it impossible for who ever run to govern. with america weakened at home, we would be weakened on the international stage. putin wins regardless of who wins the election. this is the kind of approach that has been used by the communists for nearly a century. after overthrowing the russian czar in 1917, vladamir lennon and the communists utilized western journalists as propaganda tools to defend communists. john reed defended them advocating against american intervention. lennon even used the term useful idiots to describe how leftist leaning communist sympathizing americans could be easily tricked and used to help the
russians. for the past three years democrats have focused on under mining america's president instead of working with president trump and republicans in congress to harden our election defenses. i think there would be broad bipartisan support that we need to prevent future election meddling. the mueller report makes clear that president trump wanted to focus on protecting our democracy from future attacks. so i have one question, mr. lewandowski. it's clear that putin attacked america with the goal of dividing the american people and today's hearing is being held for the sole purpose of attacking america's president which will weaken our country on the international stage. do you believe that vladamir putin is sitting in his office right now in the kremlin laughing at what those on the other side of the aisle are doing and believing that those on the other side of the aisle are useful idiots helping -- >> objection.
i have a point of order. >> lady will state her point of order. >> i have a point of order. according to the rules, and the rules of this committee and the house rules, we cannot attribute derogatory names to our colleagues or motives to our colleagues. i believe the gentleman said those on the other side of the aisle are idiots. this is a very sacred and somber responsibility. i have taken an oath of office, just like you did. i am concerned about the constitution, just as you are. i would not engage in any behavior that could be described as idiot. never in my life or my colleagues have we ever discussed behaving like idiots. mr. chairman that is an inappropriate terminology and description of the members of this house or republicans or democrats no matter what -- >> i will overrule the point of order. the rules of decorum refer to
motive. calling someone an idiot is not flattering but it does not go to motive. i believe we should have the most robust debate. i believe we should respect each other. i don't think that goes to motive and accordingly i'm going to overrule the point of order. gentleman will proceed. >> i didn't call anybody an idiot. i said useful idiot. secondly, i asked the witness whether he believed that, as part of vladamir putin's strategy, vladamir putin was being aid by useful idiots in america. your answer, >> congressman, i can't be sure to motives of vladamir putin or the russians who wanted to interfere with our election process in 2016 but i can be sure of one thing. donald trump was a private
citizen at the time and he had no authority to secure the 2016 election cycle. that responsibility fell to the intelligence community of the biden/obama administration. they clearly failed. never did they contact under my tenure me to inform me or anyone at the campaign at the time of any potential hacking which may have been transpiring, never did they contact us to alert us of any potential security violations as it related to the election. and so i think mr. comey, mr. brennan and mr. clapper ultimately own the responsibilities ahead of the intelligence community to understand why they did not do a better job of protecting the american electorate in 2016 to ensure we didn't have foreign interference. >> mr. lewandowski, had they contacted you, what would have been your response in terms of notifying others on the election, in terms of their dealing with russians? >> we would have worked with them. i would have recommended working through counsel to recommend them, to notify them of any potential contacts which i don't
ever recall having any. >> thank you. i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. the gentleman from florida. >> i just want to follow up on mr. johnson. the mueller report says one month later, the month after june 19th meeting, presumably after you returned from vacation, the president met with lewandowski followed up on the request to have sessions limit the scope of russia investigation. i want to go back to that meeting on june 19. the president asked you to write down word for word a script that he wanted the attorney general of the united states to deliver isn't that correct? >> i'm sorry. can you give me the reference again? >> let me do this. previously you testified that the president asked lewandowski to deliver a message to session and write this down. page 91. this was the first time the president asked him to take dictation. you wrote as fast as possible. the notes you took of that
meeting are on the screen. if you could -- >> i'm going to read the section of the notes that you took that were, again, this is what you were asked to deliver to the attorney general of the united states to announce to the public. i know i recused myself from certain things having to do with certain areas but our potus is being treated very unfairly. he shouldn't have a special prosecutor or counsel because he hasn't done anything wrong. i was on the campaign with him for nine months. there were no russians involved with him. i know for a fact because i was there. he didn't do anything wrong except run the greatest campaign in american history. that's from page 91. that's, again, that's what president trump wanted the attorney general to say in public about the special counsel's investigation. is that right? >> i believe that's an accurate representation. >> so this is in june of 2017. you said that you didn't know about -- you didn't know about the attorney general being
barred from participating, speaking out about the russian investigation. the public didn't know about the attempts to influence the election at the time. what everyone knew, mr. lewandowski, was that the president's campaign was under investigation and they knew the attorney general couldn't touch it because he was a major part of the campaign. he advised on national security measures. back in march he had recused himself, he had recused himself from anything having to do with the investigation. you weren't aware of that at all, that what he did in march and the fact that he recused himself? >> i was aware of the attorney general's recusal. >> and so when the president asked you to deliver a speech that he wanted the attorney general, who could not participate in the investigation, couldn't talk about anything having to do with the investigation. he recused himself. when the president asked you to deliver that word for word speech for him, that there was
no inconsistency with that and the fact that the attorney general had recused himself, you knew he had and you knew he couldn't participate in any way. >> i'm not an attorney, congressman. >> i'm not asking you as an attorney. i am. i'm just asking you if you knew he had recused himself. you knew he did, right? >> i'm aware of the public reports that jeff sessions recused himself. >> you're aware of the public report and what was in his recusal statement on march 2, 2017, that he wasn't going to participate in any existing or future investigations or any matters relating to the president. so when the president asked you to specifically go in there and ask him to deliver a speech which was contrary to that, forget about being a lawyer. did it strike you as off in any way? were you concerned in any way? >> no, sir. >> was it the right decision for sessions to recuse himself? >> i can't comment on jeff sessions decision making process. >> so here's what he did.
the script says a group of people want to subvert the constitution. i'm going to meet with the special prosecutor to explain this is very unfair and let the special prosecutor move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections so that nothing can happen in future elections. the president, you'll agree, was trying to force the investigation only to focus on the future so it didn't focus on him. isn't that right, mr. lewandowski? >> i don't agree to that. >> when you look only in the future and you're not allowed to look at the one investigation into the president, that's not how you interpret it? >> that could be your interpretation. >> i think it's an obvious interpretation. if we had more time, i'd ask what yours is. he asked you to do this. he brought you in to talk to the attorney general because the president was terrified, mr. lewandowski. a month before your meeting, special counsel was appointed and the president said, oh my god, this is terrible. he wanted you to pressure the
attorney general, someone who wasn't even allowed to talk about the investigation, to block him from looking at his own conduct, mr. lewandowski. that's abuse of power. as we go on through this investigation, i hope you'll be able to further elaborate on how you couldn't have seen this in any other light than the obvious way the president attempted -- >> the time has expired. the witness may answer the question. >> thank you. >> gentleman from texas. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. lewandowski, welcome to what my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have alternatively described and argued over the past week is an impeachment inquiry, an impeachment investigation, an impeachment probe and an impeachment proceeding. now, if you're confused which one, i assure you, you're not alone. a lot of the folks that are watching today might be confused because they might be thinking
that impeachment proceedings are supposed to be initiated after a vote by the full house of representatives. and they'd be right. but you see, the democrats, now the party of impeachment, tried that three times and failed miserably three times. twice before the mueller report and then once again after the mueller report. so last week the party of impeachment, which is in charge of this committee, changed our rules so that they could get to impeachment in a different way. mr. lewandowski, you're the first witness for the party of impeachment's new procedure. >> i feel very lucky. >> you should. i know you testified before the house, before the senate and before the special counsel, but in fairness, mr. lewandowski, that's when my colleagues on the other side of the aisle were promising the american people that there was going to be impeachment by collusion, or impeachment by conspiracy which, of course, didn't exist and the special counsel said it didn't exist. so then they had to shift and
say, well now it's going to be impeachment by obstruction of justice. remember, they promised it? they promised special counsel mueller was going to breathe life into impeachment by obstruction of justice. instead, he put it to death. i don't know if you remember, but i asked him, if you give me an example, other than donald trump, where the justice department determined than investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined? and his answer was, i cannot. do you remember that? so as it turns out, all 200, nearly 200 pages of the mueller report and the analysis in volume 2 of obstruction of justice was not under a legal standard and legal burden of proof that is not recognized an ever been used in american jurisprudence. we're going to gloss over that today. we're also going to gloss over the fact that the inspector general criminally referred the fbi director who leaked the
information to give the special counsel in the first place and the same inspector general who found that facts establishing that that same fbi director was, in fact, targeting donald trump at the same time in an investigation where he said he wasn't investigating donald trump. now, you might think that this committee would be interested in hearing from that inspector general for the first time rather than hearing from you for the fourth time. so maybe you can be helpful, because the party of impeachment, they don't care, mr. lewandowski, what kind of impeachment you can deliver for them. there are 135 democrats and socialists in the house of representatives that have come out for impeachment. the problem is they've come up with more than a dozen different reasons they're arguing about that are the basis for that impeachment. we talked about impeachment by collusion. we've talked about impeachment by conspiracy, impeachment by obstruction of justice. let's cover a few more.
impeachment under the emolument clause. the first and only president rich enough to largely self-fund a successful presidential campaign ever admit to you that he secretly ran for president to get rich? >> no, sir. he's already very rich. >> do you have any information or evidence, mr. lewandowski, about crimes the president committed for ignoring congressional subpoenas as a basis of impeachment? >> i do not. >> how about dangling pardons? do you know if the president -- did he ever admit or say to you that he would pardon anybody in law enforcement who was trying to enforce or protect our territorial borders? >> at the request of the white house, i can't discuss private conversations. >> how about this one? how about impeachment by using a sharpie on a hurricane weather map? did the president ever admit or say to you that he intentionally committed an impeachable high
crime by magic marker as some of my democratic colleagues are contending? >> again, congressman, i can't discuss any private conversation i may have had with the president. >> i'm sorry, you're frankly not being helpful at all, mr. lewandowski. maybe you don't understand that the party of impeachment, they're not picky at all. they don't even care if you don't have impeachment -- if you got anything on donald trump. how about justice kavanaugh. now this morning they said they want to impeach justice kavanaugh? do you have anything to impeach justice kavanaugh? >> he's a good man. >> i know you're disappointed that you've only been here four time, but don't you think there will be another opportunity because this committee has become the search party for impeachment and they're going to bring back anybody as much as they have to to find something, anything, to keep this impeachment hoax alive. i yield back. >> gentleman yields back 15 seconds over time. young lady from california. >> thank you, mr. chair.
mr. lewandowski, i want to follow up for my colleague here, mr. deutch. it's clear that the president was desperate for you to deliver the message to sessions. everyone else had said no. he went to great lengths to make sure that you'd be effective in delivering it. after the president dictated the message, he told you to tell the attorney general that he would be the most popular guy in the country if he delivered that message to limit the investigation to the future. is that correct? >> could you reference that to me in the report, please? >> volume 2, page 92. is that correct? >> i'd like to reference that. >> while you're looking, i'm going to move on. so the president is telling you how to convince sessions, to tell sessions he would be the most popular guy in the country if he did what the president ordered. and the president picked you for a reason, because he knew you had the trait of an enforcer and described yourself as his, quote, loyal soldier, this was no exception.
did you find it now? >> i have it hear, congresswoman. >> okay. the attorney general that he would be the most popular guy in the country if he delivered that message. do you see that on page 92? >> i do. >> so, is that correct? >> i believe it's accurate. >> and you told the president that you understood what he wanted sessions to do. is that what you told the special counsel? same page. and you did understand what the president wanted. he knew not to create a trail. looking at the slide, lewandowski wanted to pass the message to sessions in person rather than on the phone. where is that? after you left the oval office, you didn't schedule an official meeting with sessions. instead you called the attorney general at home. correct? >> if that's what's in the report. >> you told sessions you wanted
to meet in person rather than on the phone. you could have just read the message from the president over the phone, but you knew it would make it harder to persuade sessions to do what you wanted, so you wanted to meet with him in person, correct? >> if that's what the report states, yes. >> so the attorney general works at the department of justice, but you told the special counsel that you didn't want to meet in the department of justice because you knew if he went into a government building, that there's a public log of the visit and you specifically told the special counsel that you did not want to, quote, a public log of your visit. isn't that right? >> that's accurate. >> so why is that? why didn't you want to leave a paper trail for your visit? >> jeff andry friends socially. i wanted to have an opportunity to have a meal with jeff and relay the conversation which the president asked me to ask jeff to consider giving. >> so if that was the case, then why was there a problem with you having to do it in secret,
essentially? i mean, it was a very important message you were delivering from the president. it was a message that could certainly be viewed as completely inappropriate, considering that you were not even an employee of the white house. you're a private citizen, you're delivering a citizen to the attorney general to limit the investigation. so if you didn't think you were doing anything wrong, then why would it matter that there was a public log? >> i wanted to have the opportunity to speak with jeff in a more relaxed atmosphere and have a meal with him to have the conversation. >> well, you said another reason for not meeting at the doj was because you, quote, did not want sessions to have an advantage over you by meeting on sessions turf, is that right? >> that's right. i wanted to have a private conversation in a more relaxed atmosphere. >> so, again, if this was an appropriate message to deliver and it was just about that, why would it matter whose turf it was on? why couldn't you go to his office? you're his friend. why couldn't you go to his
office? >> i suppose i could have, but i chose -- i wanted to have a discussion with jeff, as we have had so many occasions before that. >> exactly. >> never inside the department of justice. >> not only did sessions know it was wrong and sessions cancelled his meeting with you, if you were good friends, why would he have bothered to cancel it? did he call you to reschedule it? >> that would be a question for jeff sessions. >> after you testified, and you testified earlier after the inauguration, you didn't communicate with the attorney general often. you're a good friend and you have dinner. when you had a message to deliver, isn't it fair sessions knew you were calling on behalf of the president and that message was for him? >> i have no idea what was in jeff sessions' mind. >> to be clear, the attorney general knew it was a message from the president and he still refused to meet with you. mr. lewandowski, it's clear to me that sessions knew what we all know sitting here today. that what you were doing was wrong. he wanted nothing to do with your secret messages because he knew it was entirely improper
for a private citizen to go behind the backs of the white house counsel and secretly meet with him somewhere without any record of your meeting on your turf to try to persuade the attorney general to protect the president from investigation into his own misconduct. you can't protect him any more. i'm glad this misconduct can finally be brought to public attention so that the president can be held accountable. >> the witness has requested a short recess. the committee will resume in five minutes. the committee stands in recess. >> dana: all right. we've been sitting here all hour watching this hearing in the house judiciary committee, where corey lewandowski, former campaign employee of president trump, has been called to the committee, being asked lots and lots of questions. being mostly talked to and not too many questions being asked about his time and whether or not the president asked him to deliver a message to sessions,
if that message was inappropriate. he maintains there was nothing illegal about the request and the committee just hammering it over and over. superpartisan. you've got no one in the middle here. you have the republicans on the one side, democrats on the other, taking up a lot of time of this committee in order to do that. we are going to be joined by catherine herridge, our chief intelligence correspondent. she's not quite ready yet. the president was watching the opening statement of corey lewandowski. he was quite pleased with it, tweeted about it from the road. you also had pretty fiery exchange between representative sheila jackson lee and corey lewandowski. corey lewandowski keeping his cool through the entire thing. never losing his temper. at one point got in a shot to basically say the congress woman, the congress woman was ranting rather than asking a question. there has been some discussion
about executive privilege. executive privilege exists for white house employees so that they can give candid and private advice to a president. i know a little bit about that from working there. the white house maintained that corey lewandowski is also protected by executive privilege. the democrats are questioning that. don't know how that will actually end up in the end. it might actually even have to go to court. right now they're taking a short break and they're going to be coming back. this is just the first round of questions that corey lewandowski will get. this is coming committee member republicans and democrats. they get five minutes each. republicans go for five minutes, then they go for the democrat. after this, there will be staff questions. chief intelligence correspond anne catherine herridge is with us. i don't know if you heard my wrapup. pretty much what we expected.
republicans defending president trump and corey lewandowski, questioning the need for this hearing. and the democrats really hammering on this point, on whether the president asked corey lewandowski something that was inappropriate, to deliver a message to sessions to drop the investigation. your thoughts? >> reporter: that's right. so really at the heart of this hearing today, dana, is this single episode from mid 2017 shortly after the special counsel robert mueller was appointed. series of events that are documented in the special counsel investigation that state the president asked corey lewandowski to take notes and deliver this message to then attorney general jeff sessions. what the report found is that lewandowski did not deliver that message and ultimately asked another white house aide to be the messenger. he also did not deliver the message to jeff sessions. i'd note deerborn is not here today as a witness. neither is rob porter. that's at the direction of the white house. but we have had some little
nuggets of news in the course of this testimony. lewandowski has really stuck to the spirit and language in the special counsel investigation. but there's a key exchange with democratic congressman johnson where he asked him if he had chickened out, in terms of delivering that message to the attorney general. and lewandowski said he didn't chicken out. instead, he said he had gone on a family vacation, where there was some laughter in the hearing room in response to that. but for the most part, lewandowski has stuck to the language, almost painfully stuck to the language, of what's in the special counsel investigation, asking lawmakers to direct him to specific pages, as well as specific passages. i'd just add from the republican point of view, they've taken every opportunity to kind of set the table with lewandowski, to allow him to say that he never met with russian officials, didn't coordinate with russian officials, found no coordination between the trump campaign and russian officials.
and then they've taken aim at jerry nadler saying they're holding this hearing today, in fact, so he could call the inspector general, michael horowitz and have him testify about what he recently concluded that fbi james comey and coloring outside the lines in the handling of these memos that kick started the special counsel investigation. sort of a lot of drama, a lot of heat, not a lot of new information, except for that one detail from lewandowski that he said he didn't chicken out, rather he went on a family vacation. that is why, he says, he did not deliver that message to the attorney general jeff sessions, dana. >> dana: >> dana: saying that he took his kids to the beach and that was more important to him at the time. not sure who was laughing and the committee room. catherine herridge, thank you. i know you will continue to cover this. jessica tarlov, luke, host of the constitutionally speaking podcast.
i know that you guys have been watching this with me. i find house hearings to be quite painful, because it is only 5 minutes, we already knew that corey lewandowski was going to a wall this off. i want to show you president trump's tweet about this, watching the opening part of this. "such a beautiful opening statement by corey lewandowski, thank you, corey." so that audience was an important one. >> yes, in many respects corey lewandowski speaking to two audiences, the president who wants to see him be an effective adage on the hill, and shutdown obstruction of justice, but equally important, corey lewandowski with the republican primary audience testing the waters to run in the granite state and i would say that looking like a strong defender of the president is probably the most important qualification at least in his mind. >> dana: corey lewandowski had an answer to a question about
election security, jessica. if we could play that, do we have that? i want you to react. here we go. >> no, congressman. i cannot be sure to the intentions of vladimir putin or them interfering with the election process, but i can be sued in only one thing donald trump was a private citizen at at that time. and he had no authority to secure the election cycle than i did. >> dana: he says that there was the responsibility of the obama administration. and i feel like that is something that that has not come up enough. >> as a democrat i feel like it comes up all the time, that is a common refrain against republicans when they are on their defense or having conversations about obstruction of justice or the inappropriate actions of the trump administration taking via the russian officials like don jr. the democrats do not pay any credence to and say that president obama approached mitch mcconnell about
something, and he was the one that said i don't want to deal with it. but i do think it is failing argument for them to stay president trump clearly could not have been doing anything on an official level when he was a private citizen. >> dana: senator mcconnell pushes back against that notion. i will let you comment on that and then the last word before we handed over to shep. >> to mitch mcconnell, barack obama was asking to bolt the barn door after the horse had run. there are some real grounds for that. the obama administration passed their own cyber security policy, and frankly, they did not have the wherewithal to enforce it. >> dana: where do you think the democrats will go from here? because they have the staff around coming up. we will see if we continue to cover that. that is where you get a little bit less of the drama from the members. >> as a specialist. i always find the background to be much more interesting on topics like tax when you are watching congressman and senators who do not know any off
the top. as you see corey lewandowski with the push back saying read that passage to me. he is really banking on that five minute limit. i'm worried there will be more boredom. >> dana: jessica tarlov and luc thompson. thank you for being here. >> we had a good time. >> dana: here is shep. >> shepard: and the hearing will continue in just a moment was corey lewandowski who was central in multiple instances where the special counsel was investigating where there president trump obstructed justice. the mueller report listing ten instances of possible obstruction of justice by the president. the fifth on that list involves corey lewandowski. as detailed in the mueller report, the president asked lewandowski to deliver a message to the then attorney general jeff sessions. asking lewandowski that he should publicly announce that mueller's probe was unfair to president trump. and to tell the public that he would meet with mueller and direct him to refocus the probe on future elections. t