tv Charlie Rose PBS June 9, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
. >> welcome to the program, tonight for the hour, analysis of former fbi director james comey testimony to we again on capitol hill with senator angus king, the nip senator in maine. >> the important thing, charlie, is some what obscured by all the attention to whether or not there was some kind of cooperation between the trump campaign or what did the president say to mr. comey. to me we can't lose sight of the fact that we're talking about a direct attack on american democracy by the russians, a very big deal and a very important one because it's not over. there is no reason to expect that they're not going to be back trying to interfere in our elections in 2018 and 2020. >> rose: and we continue with robert costa of "the washington post" and the anchor of
washington week on pbs. >> it was an extraordinary day for an outsider who is now president as well. president trump spent the morning at the white house. i'm told by several white house officials. partly in the dining room off of the oval office, 60-inch new television, he's installed there. keeping an eye on the proceedings, preparing for a lunchtime speech to a conservative group in washington am but what was most telling was what the president chose not to do, at least until the late afternoon which was not to tweet, to not use his favorite weapon, his favorite mega phone, to share his thoughts. >> rose: and we conclude with three observers of today's hearings, hugh hewitt, mckay coppins and karoun demirjian. >> it is say political theater we haven't seen since oliver north or a couple of other big ones. but it is a political event, as a legal event it is almost no consequence.
>> rose: the comey testimony when we continue. >> funding for charlie rose is provideed by the following: bank of america, life better >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with james comey, the former fbi director gave his highly anticipated testimony before the senate intel dwens committee earlier today. in his opening remarks comey said president trump had lied to the american people when he said agents had lost confidence in him. >> and although the law required no reason at all to fire an fbi
director, the administraion then chose to defame me and more importantly the fbi. by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly lead, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. those were lies, plain and simple. and i am so sorry that the fbi workforce had to hear them. and i'm so sorry that the american people were told them. i worked every day at the fbi to help make that great organization better. >> rose: comey also revealed that he turned over memos documenting his conversation with president trump to the special counsel, robert mueller. it is the first public suggestion that the investigation will look into trump's firing of comey during the testimony president trump spoke at a meeting of faith leaders and politicians in washington and pushed back against the media and his political opponents. >> they will lie, they will obstruct, they will spread their hatred and their prejudice.
but we will not back down from doing what is right. because as the bible tells us, we know that the truth will prevail. >> reporter: for the latest on this developing story, here is the report from the cbs evening news. >> i was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting and so i thought it really important to document. >> combee told senators that it was the president's pattern of dishonesty that prompted him to take notes. >> i knew that there mile come a day when i would need a record of what had happened not just to defend myself but to defend the fbi. >> reporter: he says he wrote down everything he could remember from a january dinner where the president demanded his loyalty. >> my common sense told me what is going on here is that he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job. >> reporter: three weeks later, he says, the president ordered everyone but him out of a meeting in the oval office.
>> had you ever seen anything like that before? >> no, my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving which is why he was lingering. and i don't know mr. kushner well you about i think he picked up on the same thing. so i knew something was about to happen that i needed to pay very close attention to. >> reporter: once they were alone, he says, the president told him, i hope you can see your way clear to dropping an fbi investigation involving fired national security advisor michael flynn. california democrat dianne feinstein. >> why didn't you stop and say mr. president, this is wrong. i cannot discuss this with you. >> maybe if i were stronger, i would have. i was so stunned by the conversation, that i just took it in. >> reporter: idaho republican jim reish. >> he did not direct to you let it go. >> not in his words, no. >> i mean this is the president of the united states with me
alone saying i hope this, i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i didn't obey that but that is the way i took it. >> reporter: oklahoma help can james lankford argued president trump didn't say anything to comey that he hasn't said on twitter. >> quite frankly the president has informed around six billion people that he is not real fond of this investigation. do you think there is a difference in that? >> yes. >> okay. >> i think there is a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the oval office, looking the fbi director in the eye and saying i hope will you let this go. i think if agents as good as they are heard the president of the united states did that, there is a real risk of a chilling effect on their work. >> reporter: president trump has disputed comey's account, even tweeting last month james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations. >> lordy, i hope there are tapes. >> reporter: comey says that tweet three days after he was fired lead him to take an unusual step. he asked a friend columbia law
professors dan richman to share the contents of his memo with a new york times reporter. >> i thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. >> why didn't you give those to somebody yourself rather than give them through a third party. >> because i was worried the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point and i was going out of town with my wife to hide and i worried it would be like feeding sea gulls at the beach. if i was i who gave it to the media. so i asked my friend, make sure this gets out. >> reporter: comey says he resenteds the shifting explanations for his firing. >> the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the fbi. by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly lead, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. those were lies, plain and simple. >> rose: we have a series of guests tonight talking about the comey testimony today. joining me from capitol hill first is senator angus king of maine, who is a member of the committee. senator king, thank you very much for joining us.
you had a ringside seat to what has been called, you know, an event of great drama of great consequence. how did you see it? >> well, i think the important thing, charlie, is some what obscured by all the attention to whether or not there was some kind of cooperation between the trump campaign or what did the president say to mr. comey. to me, we can't lose sight of the fact that we're talking about a direct attack on american democracy by the russians. a very big deal and a very important one because it is not over. there is no reason to expect that they're not going to be back trying to interfere in our elections in 2018 and 2020. so that's why a series of the questions this morning at the beginning of the hearing from chairman burr and others were to establish that this is important and there's to doubt that it happened. i think-- i love director kemy's phrase there is no fuzz on this question. we know that the russians did it. we know that it came from the top of their government, we know
it was sophisticated and we know that they are going to stay and try to do it again. i think that is a very important part of today's hearing and you know, obviously there are other very important parts in terms of his interactions with the president am but we can't lose sight of what this is really all about. >> rose: let me ask you this. do you think that the president of the united states, donald trump knows that the russians hacked and tried to influence our elections, that he agrees with that, and agrees with the seriousness that you just suggested it has for the united states in the future? >> i don't know that, and it's a very disturbing part of this, if you recall theres with a question from senator manchin, did the president ever quiz you on this, did he ever express any concern about it, did he ever ask you about what this was all about, and how, what the ramifications were and the answer was, except for when he was initially briefed on january 6th, essentially no, there were nine conversations, none of
which were hey what are the russians doing here and what can we do about it. that's very woreisome to me. >> do you believe that the president, and clearly we want to hear, and this is one senator after another including the chair and the cochair, expressed the idea that this was an important time you know to ask basic questions and to inform the american people, do you believe, where do you think that probe is, i guess is my question. >> well, you mean the probe on what the russians did? >> yes. >> that's pretty well done. the facts are established on both the, what the russians tried to do and the release of the emails and the fake news and the derogatory material and all of that. we know that. i mean that's been well established and well-documented. the other piece, charlie, that hasn't been gotten much attention at all that i am deeply worried about, i think one of the most important parts
of this is they also tried to get into state election systems. reg separation-- registration roles of state. and by all accounts, the intelligence is that they weren't successful. no votes were changed. but they weren't doing it for fun. they were practicing and they were learning. and they're going to be back. imagine, charlie, if on election night we had had allegations of 100,000 votes changed in michigan and wisconsin or florida, north carolina, we would have had a true constitutional crisis and that part of it, i think has gotten way less attention than it deserves. that's one of the most woreisome aspects about this. and i keep emphasizing as i asked mr. comey today, this is not a one off proposition. they will be back, in fact, i think in some cases they probably have never left. >> rose: how relevant do you consider it whether anyone from political process in america was in anyway connected, whether it was couldlusion or not, how
relevant is the question that members of the trump transition team or campaign team or developing government have some connection with the russians who were doing this. >> i think it's relevant. i think it's relevant because here's a country that is a major adversary. the russians do not wish us well. and they were trying to undermine our democracy, the core of who we are, so if there were connections and i'm not saying that there were, that is what we are investigating and that is what the fbi is investigating, but if there were, that is a very serious matter and we need to understand it and again, part of this, this is not about relitigating the election in 2016, but a big part of this is clarifying what happened, so in the future t doesn't happen again. and nobody might be even tempted to develop such a relationship with a country that, you know, is trying to strike at who we are.
>> is it relevant that the president, if he did, in some way try to impede an investigation into what the russians did and what help they might have had from an american? >> well, it certainly is a relevant part of the inquirery. and i think that has become the fourth piece. did they interfere in the election, yes, did they try to go after state systems, yes, we know that. was there a relationship of some kind between the trump campaign and the russians, we don't know that, that is the investigation. and then the fourth piece developed since the election is was there some effort on behalf of the white house or the president to, you used the word impede or curtail the investigation, and that's an important thing that i know the special counsel is going to be looking intoment and we will certainly be lacking into. i tried to get that information yesterday from the head of the nsa and the head of the director of national intelligence. and neither one would answer my questions which i was quite
frustrated because i don't think there's any privilege. i don't think they have in right to in the answer those questions but if they were told by the white house or by the president to try to slow down this investigation and of course we have director comey's testimony today that he was told that, at least with regard to mr. flynn, then you know, that's information that we have to have. the ultimate conclusion on this will probably be drawn by the special counsel mr. mueller when he has all the answers in terms of the interfew-- interviews that the fbi is doing. >> what is the mandate for the special counsel, robert mueller. >> i think the pan date is to determine whether or not there was some kind of relationship or collusion between the trump campaign and the russians in terms of the russians activity in the 2016 election. but based upon the comments that i have heard from mr. mckaib who is the acting director of
the fbi, he believes that the question of the president's relationship to the investigation since he's become president is relevant. the reason i know that is we had a meeting with mr. mckaib probably ten different senators asked him about-- i'm sorry, mr. rosenstein asked him about the memo he wrote and who decided to fire mr. comey and when was it decided. he declined to answer any of those questions by saying that is going to be part of the investigation of the special counsel. so that is, i think the special counsel is going to be looking both preelection but also post election in terms of the relationship with the white house and the president to the investigation itself. >> now but you were clearly upset that admiral rogers and the dni director, can koates would not answer your questions, what is it, what do you believe they can contribute, and what evidence do we have that they
may have information or have been given information or received nrvetion relevant to what the president did or did not do or want done. >> there have been press reports that the president spoke to both of them, and asked them similar to mr. trump to go easy on the investigation or to interfeed -- interseed with the fbi with regard to the investigation. i can't confirm or deny that. but that was why i wanted to ask them to tell me, you know, what happened. and were there such contacts with the president. and they cat gorically refused to do so even though i felt and feel today they had no legal basis for doing that. i mean i remember one night i came in very late and my father said where have you been. and i didn't say well, i don't feel i can answer that question or that's not an appropriate question. i believe they should have answered the questions and we're going to try to do a closed session because mr. coates said he would be more forth coming in
a closed stion so we are going to give him that opportunity. but we want to know were there interactions with nem with regard to the investigation similar to those that mr. comey testified to today, and if that's the case, then that becomes a more disturbing pattern. >> let me ask you sm other questions about today. james comey's testimony that he, in fact, made mem dumbs after meeting with the president because they felt the president, he said it had to do with his, the nature of the person was the word i think he used. and that he thought the president perhaps would be lying and he wanted a record so that his recollection would be better. and he then sent those mem dumb to a friend. and i think the friend leaked them to newspapers, new york times or "the washington post." is that appropriate for the fbi directer to do? >> well, he wasn't the fbi directer when that happened. it is certainly appropriate to keep con temp rainious mem da,
people do that quite frequently, although it was interesting that he had interactions with president bush and with president obama. he never did such a thing, he never kept the con temp rainious memos. did he with president trump because he felt uneasy about what was being said and how it might turn out later. and by the way, he wrote those memos when he was the director of the fbi in good standing. he had no reason to think that he was going to be fired. the president called him up and told him he was doing a great job. and he was the director but he just had this queasy feeling about these interactions, so he thought he ought to document them. and by the way, in a court, con temp rainious memos like that have probe tiff value, they are accepted as butt ring evidence to the testimony of the businessness. so this does have some value. and also he mentioned it to several of his associates at the fbi. so should he have-- the way he handled it after he was fired and he sent it to a friend and the friend sent it to the
newspaper, i think he was, i don't know what was going through his mind. but i think he was provoked when he saw some of the tweet from mr. trump dispar aging his leadership for the fb, and his personality and character. but they weren't classified. i think it is important, you use the word leaked and it implies that there was some classified-- you know, someone was violating a class if i kaition. these were not classified documents. and i don't think they were privileged in anyway. >> rose: everybody that i talked to over the leading into this raises the question, or the question is raised about obstruction of justice. and they all say there is not enough evidence for obstruction of justice yet. there may be other evidence that would lead you there. but they haven't seen it. they use certain kinds of metaphors like you know, they, there is smoke but they don't see a smoking gun. is that a view that you hold as well? >> i think so. and i'm not going to draw that conclusion anyway. that is a criminal matter. and that is in the injures diction of mr. mueller. that is what he is going to be
following up on and he is going to have access to all of that information. there really are two parallel investigations going on here. the mueller investigation which, by the way, there's some confusion. thiss not a new investigation. he's taking over the fbi investigation that was being lead by jim comey that goes back more than a year. so it's not like there's a whole new investigation. mueller is going to be-- bob mueller is going to be the leader of that investigation, and they're looking-- the fb, looks at criminal activity, that is what their mission is. our mission is fact finding. and there are certainly-- there are certainly crossovers and relationships between our two investigations but they aren't identical. and so i'm not prepared to talk about obstruction of justice or that kind of legal conclusion. we're going to try to get to the facts and then perhaps we'll draw some conclusions but that will be sometime down the road. >> did you believe director comey's testimony today? >> yes.
and it's based upon my experience with him, after four years on the intelligence committee, i suspect i've met with him in committee sessions, open and closed, mostly closed, probably a dozen times, 20 times. and everybody that i know that knows him, he's one of the straightest arrows around. i mean he is, he has an impeccable reputation for honesty and integrity. people can argue that is judgement about how he handled the hill reclinton email matter and those kinds of things. but i never heard anybody question his fundamental honesty and truthfulness. i have a friend in maine. and i believe people in maine who worked with him and for him who told me he's one of the finest men he ever has known or worked with. and andrew mckaib, the acting director said the very same thing in public system testimony. so yes, i certainly, i am-- unless i see evidence to the contrary, jim comey has a
lot of credibility with me, now as i mentioned, if there are tapes, if the president, if there is other evidence that he wasn't telling us the truth, then we need it. let's see it, let's have it. if there's any other kind of corroborating evidence that what mr. comey said isn't through, i am, you know, i'm willing, certainly willing to listen and have an open mindment but so far i haven't seen anything that contradicts mr. comey's aversion of events. and of course those con temp rainious memos as i mentioned have also some strength. and again it's important, he didn't write those after he was s the head of the fb, ande he thought he would be there for the next six years. >> understanding what he have said and as the former director comey said, you know, the significance of what the russians have done and are trying to do is a matter of national security. and a matter of our essential thing that makes america
enormously strong which is protecting its democracy. he said that, that, you have said that, others have said that. but what was it about this hearing today, because the world was focused on this hearing that concerned you, alarmed you, angered you most? >> i think the question that really bothered me in in terms of his answer was when joe manchin asked him whether the president it ever stopped and inquired about what the russians were doing. and what we mile do about it. and the answer was no. that the president was asking about him. i under investigation and michael flynn and those kinds of things. but there was never at least according to mr. comey today and he was a little vague on the interaction on january 6th, at trump tower where he was first briefing the president on these matters. but there doesn't seem-- there did not seem to be any curiosity or concern and you know, i mean,
the president has been dismissing this whole matter for months and months, fake news and there's nothing to it. there is a lot to itment and it bothers me that apparently according to the testimony today, anyway, he never has made the really-- taken the initiative to find out what happened, and how serious it was, and understand how serious it was. and one of the realities of this is right now this is viewed to some extent, anyway, as a partisan issue. it is not a partisan issue. putin is not a republican. and he's not a democrat. he's an opportunist and this whole circumstances could be reversed in two or four years if putin decides it's in his interest to try to elect democrats. and marco rubio, i can tell you, gets this. he on the committee is very strong on this point that this could work in exactly the opposite way next time, so it should not be a partisan issue.
we should get to the bottom of what they did and figure out how to defend ourselves because they're going to keep coming. >> senator king, thank you so much. i hope that we can do a longer conversation. i know you, i have had you for 20 minutes and that is a long time in television. but i hope we can have a longer conversation here at the table in new york. >> i would like to do that, charlie, any time. >> back in a moment, stay with us. >> we continue this evening with robert costa of the washington most. bob, it was an extraordinary day for me to look at it, and having been a long time political junkie and watched over the decade this kind of drama unfolding in washington. but there you have a former director of the fbi accusing a president of lying and suggesting that in order to protect himself from lies, he had to make copious notes and mem dumbs in order to make sure that, in fact, what he awe and
heard was recorded. and also suggesting that he leaked information or had someone else leak it for him so that it might among other reasons further the appointment of a special counsel. this is really high drama. how did you see it? >> well, charlie, it was an extraordinary day for an outsider who is now president, as as well. president trump spent the morning at the white house, i'm told by several white house officials, partly in the dining room off of the oval office. 60-inch new television, he's installed there, keeping an eye on the proceedings, proceduring-- preparing for a lunchtime speech to a conservative group in washington. but what was most telling was what the president chose not to do, at least until the late afternoon which was not to tweet, to not use his favorite weapon, his favorite mega phone, to share his thoughts. instead he let his outside counsel issue a statement and
have a brief news conference. he let his son donald trump, jr. play the usual role on twitter as a foil, the elvis-- trump's son issued putdowns about comey. the president was con vensed, i'm told, to lay low, to stay cool, to let others be his surrogates. because of the thorny legal and political issues facing him. and because he was convinced that kasowitz this hard charging new york lawyer would be combative enough in the public response that he didn't actually have to weigh in, at least not yet. >> rose: but that's unusual for him to be-- to be convinced and he often finds it irresistible. so you are suggesting that it was a legal implications this time that may have held sway. >> it's highly unusual for president trump to resist this kind of moment in politics, especially with his reputation on the line. in fact, charlie, earlier in the
week when i spoke to white house officials and i was over there at pennsylvania avenue, they said that they worries he may live tweet the testimony, that they were not ruling that out. we had a front page story in the post about this angst inside the west wing, that the president was unwilling, at least earlier in the week to put away the idea that he would engage with comey, perhaps minute by minute but in a series of conversations with kasowitz, with don mcgan and other aides, trump was told let it sit, you may be vindicated, they argued to him, if comey does not lean into the idea of obstruction of justice. so trump who thinks of himself, i have covered him as a long time as a political warrior, who wants to be his own spokesman. he suddenly on this thursday decided to sit back. >> rose: do the people that you talk to on that side supporters of donald trump, or members in good standing of the republican party who worried about where it might be, do they
believe that there was today some successful of the to impugn james comey? >> there were certainly an effort, the republican national committee was active, kasowitz said in his statement that comey lied under oath in his view, he called comey a leaker for providing information to "the new york times." but it was not an all-out war against comey. partly charlie, the back story here is there is still real concern inside of the white house in the administration about robert mueller who is now leading the federal probe, of special counsel, that as much as they could have went to war against comey today, comey really isn't the issue any more. the legal challenges isn't really so much about what comey says says in congressional testimony but about all the things on the
horizon in terms of the special counsel. that's why you have the caution today, not really just because of the comey question but because of the ongoing probe. >> but isn't it ironic that in fact one of the goals of former director comey was, in fact to get a special council a poanted. >> it is quite ironic. and the white house is still trying to feel out this moment, they're not really sure what is next. they seem in their mind at least late thursday to believe that the obstruction of justice charge didn't pick up in their view. because of comey's testimony. comey didn't say explicitly that he felt that trump's statement about hoping the flynn investigation would go away and those kind of comments that came during their exchanges would be something that would be total burden for this presidency. but let me say as a reporter, this is a white house that's projecting calm. and projecting normal see on thursday. but behind the scenes, it is
still a projection. a lot of people inside of the white house are thinking about do they need lawyers, could they be called as witnesses in the coming weeks and months. so as much as they feel like they escaped a major blow because of comey's testimony on thursday, they know this is far from the end. >> do they believe that not withstanding the senate intelligence committee will continue its hearings and investigation and so will the house intelligence committee, that the whole focus shift toses robert mueller and his investigation? >> the words the president used in the comey memo, that comey's opening statement was the cloud, and that is how so many people around the president still refer to the probe on capitol hill, to the federal probe, all these different questions in investigations. they call it the cloud, thinking back to watergate, the famous phrase was there is a cancer growing on the presidency. inside of the trump white house they use that phrase, there is a cloud over this presidency. and they think if it's not able to be swept away, at least in
the next four to six months, that cloud could sufficient kate his entire presidency. they still haven't done much on taxes. health care is stalled at least for now and the senate infrastructure they tried to jump start this week but it hasn't really gone anywhere. because they say, the cloud. >> but if they do not have some legislative success and then they go to the country in 2018 they've got problems, do they not, because those discontented voters that elected them, we are leaders and we are negotiators or donald trump has said, you know, i can do this. i will be your voice but i will accomplish things that in one else can accomplish. >> and it is a good question, charlie. inside of the white house i'm told the president is now narrowly focused, perhaps more than ever on making sure that trump base, the working class populist base is with him. and his remarks didn't get much coverage today when he went to this faith and freedom conference in washington but i found them so revealing.
did he not directly talk about director comby. did he not really mention the testimony, he didn't at all, actually. but he had these references and statements. he said we are under seige to the conservative crowd. he had this previousance mood even though it was calm in the delivery. he said we are under seige. you can't let them stop us. talking in almost nixonian or spiro agnew way of the political class as the enemy. so to answer your question, if the legislative agenda continues to be stalled, i think what we heard today from president trump at this conservative event tells us a lot, that he is going to run against the political establishment, the political media who he feels deeply is aligned against the white house and perhaps that is the way to keep the base in his grip, even if he doesn't have a lot of items or accomplishments to cite. >> james comey said today if there are tapes bring them on, i welcome tapes. do you think the president has been taping these conversations. >> no, i did not. based on my reporting, the president has in the past, i'm
talking in recent decades, sometimes taped conversations at trump tower. but there is no evidence for any kind of discussion have i had even on deep background with sorses that there is a taping system inside of the oval office or even on the president's personal phone that he uses now. the president though i think loves to make these kind of threats about tapes. he's done it throughout his career. so i'm surprised he makes this reference to tapes but again, i'm not sure there is any evidence of an actual taping system. >> rose: the other interesting thing to me is the way the republicans went after james comey in trying to get him to defend the fact that after he heard these things from the president, whether it was about michael flin or whether it was about other issues, whether-- that he might have gone back immediately to the justice department and said, because did he ask the attorney general not to let him be alone with the president any more.
but he did not disclose to others the fact that you know, he experienced and heard these things, that some people might have found inappropriate at least. >> that's true. and that's a critique being made by some of trump's allies. but what i found throughout my coverage of president trump is so many people when they encounter him for the first time as an intimate, in erm its of the political staff, in terms of the republican party, they are struck by his personality, how combat i've can be privately as well as publicly. and they think that this is just par for the course, outbursts, strange comments, things that maybe tow the line of appropriateness, and many people, that is why comey struck me as just another person in trump's orbit who has been like this. they think they can handle th fr
they quit or they leave trump's orbit. but trump's orbit is a volatile place that does not follow the norms of our usual american political life. it is a place based on loyaltiy, friendship, what's best for the president in his popularity, perhaps what's best for his political agenda or other things. that is what i think comey encountered. something he thought he could contain but could not contain it. >> thank you so much, a pleasure to have you here after a very busy day. >> thank you. >> rose: we'll be right back, stay with us. >> rose: we continue our coverage of the comey hearings with hugh hewitt from the hugh hewitt show, mckay coppins from the atlantic and car rown demirjian of the washington most. i'm pleased to have them here. hugh, let me begin with you. give me your assessment of what you saw and heard today in washington. >> it was kind of an epic day,
charlie. i was rivetted, i believe that most of the country will remain rivetted because it is a political theater of the sort we haven't seen since oliver north or perhaps a couple of the other big ones but it say political event, of a legal event is of almost no consequences because it neither advances or hinders an investigation. the president can't be prosecuted to be begin with. the obstruction of justice statutes probably don't even apply to the federal bureau investigation investigations but as a political events' enormously significant and there is a tug of war on right now over who won that event. and the president is claiming vined kaition. the dem crates are claiming obstruction. and jim comey is walking away dinged up if not battered. >> why do you say dingd up but if not battered other than because of what he said, you know, about releasing, about leaking the memos that he wrote after these occasions that he met with the president. >> that is the major part of the exhibit that will be introduced by history against james comey today is that he manipulated the
press and it leads people to think that he probably did so on other occasions and with different agendas in mind. but he only took notes about president trump. i think what was most disconcerting is the first meeting when the president is the president-elect, he goes in with the steel dossier, which is a since ter document and discredited-- gives it to the president and then concludes as he testified that the president can't be trusted, that he is going to lie about meetings and leaves that meeting in which he proposed, you knowk i'm going to discredit this, mr. president, and begins what some people have already begun to say is an entrapment sort of course of action with the memo writing. so i left very disquieted by what the fbi direct-- former fbi director's vision of himself was and how that's going to impact people's understanding of the agency. so it was a very disquieting day on many fronts. >> rose: what did you think. >> comey did address that to a certain extent in questioning with susan collins. he said in part of that meeting
before trump was inaugurated that he felt the need to start assuring him he was not under investigation. he said that mult peel-- multiple times today that he as fbi director was president was not under investigation because he was trying to avoid entraipment, he didn't want the not think by putting this out there he was trying to hang it over his head in anyway so certainly he is entering-- but all of these interactions depends on which side of the fence you want to see it from. supporters of trump said this exonerates the president because he just said that he hoped that comey would act a certain way in the investigation, he didn't direct him, it indicated, comey indicated, fessed up to being the source of some of these reports that got to the "new york times." but others have said well, you know, in one case they are impressed at his candor and honesty because he answered questions in ways others people haven't and said i was the source of this stuff. that isn't the unusual course of events and you have the people critical of the president saying look, comey has been really clear that he felt
uncomfortable. and that he felt that he was being put in a situation where he even thought that others like the attorney general realized that something was off here, and that he kept those notes because he felt like he was being potentially set up himself. so you know, you could accuse it either way because this is not like there is a hard an fast record of the president saying, and i order you to do this. so there is, you know, that interpretation that has to come from comey being in the room with the president at that point. and then of course comey wouldn't go so far as to say and i think this gets to obstruction of justice, so everybody drawing that conclusion, there is also informing from comey getting pretty close to that line that that is where he is trying to go. >> rose: mckay, as the mueller investigation continues, are we going to look at simply a battle for public opinion here? >> i this think so. i tend to a grew with hugh that-- agree with hugh that this is, has been and always will be a plitd kal story. look, i'm in the a legal experts. have i talked to legal experts. they generally agree that we
haven't seen enough evidence to say that this is on struksz of justice but at the end of the day, it's extremely unlikely that mueller was going to conclude this investigation by straight up saying that the president is guilty of obstruction of justice and needs to be held accountable and drag him into a court room. this is always i think going to end up back in congressment and that's why i think that it is most important to filter this, today's proceedings through a political prism. i talked to one former trump campaign advisor and asked this advisor you know, what did you think today. and the advisor said something interesting. he said that yesterday when former fbi director comey's opening statement was made public online, that a lot of trump's allies were celebrating, both in public but especially in private, they were celebrating this development because they felt like while the opening
remarks certainly were, you know, damaging to the president's reputation, they ultimately didn't bring any new information to light that would lead to a serious sea change in this whole story. the advisor though did say that today's testimony was while perhaps not legally harmful, was certainly politically harmful. and i think and this advisor tends to agree that this will continue to be a major political story and a major thing that everyone is wrestling over here in the political arena in washington. >> rose: did anything that you have heard from james comey or anything else about the russian probe and the effort that the president made, for example, in his conversations with the fbi, to then fbi director, to go easy on flynn, does any of that bother you? >> i'm bothered by conduct on both sides. the president is clearly not skilled, and does not understand, you cannot intervene an active investigation without political blowback.
and was not prepared for note taking fbi director who is going to read into his every word sinnister motive. but director comey also, i think, very troubling to me, is that the idea that he would not exonerate the president when he had three times privately assured him, and tom cotton drove at this point as well. and everybody, dianne fine stein has gone on cnn and said there is no evidence. and everybody seemed to leak this, another senator pointed it out, marco rubio and director comey did nothing to put out the fire. so where are we as we conclude the comey day. we are at no evidence of donald trump involved in couldlusion whatsoever. donald trump not undery3 investigation by the fbi when jim comey is dismissed and this exchange going out the door about mike flynn the day after mike flynn is fired. and i will go back, i said it already but i want to underscore this for the nonlawyers out there, have i been teaching constitutional law for 20 years. you cannot prosecute a
president. and the obstruction of justice statute, 1505, 1510, 1512, all do not con tell plating, in the majority of opinion, did not con tell plate fbi investigations as being a procedure that can to ae that that conversation out the door dismissing the attorney general in the room, that is unusual to get the chain of command out, but the president might have been worried about recusal, he might have been worried about the russia thing being brought up with jeff sessions, there are explanations. anyone wants to make an argument that that is an impeach am offense, most of the liberal law prove severes i know are laughing at that. >> i don't anybody is making the argue that that is an impeachable offense. at this point the congress is still very, very much, no one wants to say impeachment and
congress is still in the fact finding stage. it is interesting to see the next step that they are trying to take. many of the different senators of both parties are saying we need to talk to dan coates the director of national intetelligence. we need to answer the questions we asked yesterday, coates was in front of the same intelligence panel and so was admiral mike rogers and they wouldn't talk about their conversationings with the president or with comey. many people in both parties are saying we need them to answer the same sorts of questions comey did so we know if this was systemic or moore judgement by the president to try to get comey to say, to say he wanted him to drop that investigation of flin. and that it stopped there. or was it more system attic and they need to hear the quens from others because there is the testimony they are given and the report we published in "the washington post" that indicates that he was also influenced to try to use his influence overcomey it get that investigation to stop. and democrats are also pushing now to have jeff sessions, the attorney general km could for
testimony to have deputy attorney general rod rosenstein come for testimony as well. so clearly all of that is building towards the question of whether or not there was obstruction of justice but it is still the building stage and it's very, very hard to find any senators rit now that will sate i word, impeachment even though you had. >> do you think it is significant that james comey when he tacked about lore et ceteraa lynch that she urged him to call it not an investigation but a matter. >> yes, there were a couple of significant collateral damages done today, one was to the former attorney general loretta lynch because that does appear to be polit sizing an investigation. i don't think it's obstruction like the farthest critics of her have already alleged. and "the new york times" took it on the chin for their big expose which was completely repudiated by director comey as 100 percent false. in the 100 percent but 95 percent false. and whether or not "the washington post" was wrong n part, they got a pass because of
classified nature of the reporting. i must say, nobody won today. nobody won. zero people won. and we know that the russia couldlusion is not over, there is an investigation ongoing into at least when director comey left, into general flynn, that investigation appears to have still been under way. a couple of very detailed legal points as to why that would appear to reject any legal arguments of obstruction. but as political theater, it doesn't get any better than that. and i don't think anybody's mind changed, period, about what was going on. >> hugh, someone said to me last night in a different context, and not on the program, that in the end, the question for donald trump to answer and have to answer will have more to do with financial items than it will to do with the russian hacking. does that resonate with you? >> yes, yes it does. and the investigation that former fbi director mueller is leading, there was an indication today that investigations can go
off in any direction. remember, patrick fitzgerald finding scooter libbey having nothing to do with-- but misleading him under oath and going to be convicted on that. so these investigations are dangerous things and they spiral off. but the good news is, everybody thinks bon mueller is a straight shooter. that is not the case with director comey. there are two schools of opinion. one, he is elliott necessary walking off the street-- nest walking off the streets and into your lives and you can trust him with absolute intig rit. the other is pios, self-serving, possessive in ego as large as donald trump. so maybe he's both, maybe they are both both. it is just, we're in the first act. the first scene of the first ak of a very long play. and it is a very good act. >> rose: and where is the next stage? where is the next act take place. >> we have to wait for mueller. on the russia thing, i don't think anything is going to move. that is the cul desack we are in, you can only call jim kemy so many times t gets boring.
now bob mueller has every card in his hand. and until and unless he does something, the story-- i no longer trust the national security reporters who produced that "new york times" piece. they were completely and utterly buffaloed by somebody. and so the media took it on the chin beg time today, charlie, big time took it on the chin. >> media or new york times. >> i think it's beyond "the new york times." they are the direct recipient of the blow, but it ripples out because if they, they have paper of record, can be that wrong about that important of a story, it ought to cause everyone to reflect upon anonymous sources and blood there are, indeed, pieces of the permanent government. i reject the use of the term deep state, we don't have a police state f director comey could ignore the president, we would have a police state but the elected people still control the appointed people. never the less, you've got to worry about why is this antagonism to the president so deeply embedded that there is an
avalanche of leaks on a weekly basis and why is the media so gullible that there are agendas other than doing the right thing for the american people. some people just protecting position, and status and authority, and they hate donald trump and they're leaking. >> rose: why do you think they're leaking, karoun? >> i think that people are, you know, people leak for a whole variety of different reasons. you know, being-- as we've seen, comey was tacking about himself having leaked things for one reason, others that are not going to be sitting in front of congressional panels leor other reasons am you about i think we should be careful or cautious about impuning the entirement of the mainstream media-- you know, certainly there has been dwight a lot of questioning and rerequesting of what, who, from members of congress too as to who the sources are behind various articles am you know, in the course of reporting there is
vetting done as well about information handed over, it's not just that it gets dropped into our lap and ends up on the front page of the newspaper the next day. so you know, there is a flow of information in washington. a lot of people will say, you know, an were saying, especially a few months ago when the president was first get be a mo -- did po plep particular, this is how washington works, washington does leak in certain places when things are of high importance and front and center. that is certainly happening here potentially to a more pronounced degree and with more speed than is normal but that also is just the character of this story and how it has been moving. >> this is for anybody, we'll start with you, mckay. we have seen people emerge from hearings like this. and go on to a much bigger political career, certainly you think of richard nixon came out of that, and others have made themselves a star in political hearings and gone on to higher
national office. is anybody coming out of this so far that captures in terms of the shairpness or the positions they have taken? >> it is an interesting question am you are certainly right that it is a pretty common practice for members of congress to use these hearings especially such high profile ones as a platform to promote them certificate-- themselves and advance their career. i was actually pretty impressed with how relatively little showboating there was on this committee. i thought both republicans and democrats for the most part seemed like they were operating in good faith, asking serious questions, trying to get to the bottom of the questions here. i did see a lot of democrats celebrating kamela harris, a lot of republicans saying they didn't like her line of questioning. i think that in general, i have not seen the kind of big star break that you might see from other hearings. >> but that might also be because of how serious and high
stakes this particular hearing was. >> this is the kind of thing are you good at, tell me how and since the political drama you saw someone emerging. >> i think senator warner is doing himself a great deal of good in the center of the country for being very deliberate, very straight forward. i think senator harris is a rising superstar on the left, on the republican side, i nator reese. was impressed by i don't know him, i don't have any relationship with him. but he did a very fine job of establishing early on as did chairman burr that there wasn't any couldlusion between the president, he wasn't under investigation and then gi to senators rubio and cotton i thought did wonderful jobs of establishing facts and not showboating but getting facts in. senator mccain wandered off, he took to twitter to apologize for staying up it late last week watching the diamond backs. >> karoun, anybody you have watched this day and said i'm
surprisingly. >> have i been-- impressed by somebody. >> it's interesting. i have just been watching this panel over the course of the last two days because i think as much as this is all about comey on thursday, you kind of have to take it as the two days with coates and rogers, a sense of basically how people are approaching this investigation in general. and it has been interesting tow see how several of the senators are taking various roles, dynamic with certain people, pressing certain witnesses, not pressing other ones, just based on how the witnesses are responding. and whether or not was really interesting is seeing how focused they were in comey's role in particular. this was not one of those hearings where you heard a lot of discussion about kollusion, some people wanted to talk about that aspect of it but there is this, this commission has had to kind of bend and weave out of different issues. some hearings focus intently on the questions of russian collusion and the possibility that was less front and center that it often is today, just
given the person before the bench. >> thank you, karoun, thank you, hugh, thank you mckay, great to have you. >> thank you. >> thanks, charlie. thank you for joining us, see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes visit us online . captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org