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tv   CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow  CNN  June 7, 2017 6:00am-7:01am PDT

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good morning, everyone. i'm john berman. >> and i'm poppy. there is a little bit going on in washington right now. consider it the mother of all pregames. the warm-up back to the most anticipated congressional testimony in decade. but the set up this morning could be every bit as big and important as the main event.
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one hour from now step into the hot seat to kick off two days of block buster testimony. in 24 hours former fbi director james comey is expected to dispute president trump's claims he was told he was not under investigation, did not tell him that once, let alone three times. i wish him luck, those words from president trump as he fired the man expected to bear details of his private conversations with the president. it could be the most consequencial congressional testimony since watergate. >> before we get there, we are here. these men testify in just minutes. among them the director of national intelligence dan coats, who is in the middle of a brand-new controversy. this morning the washington post reports the president asked coats to get the fbi to back off its probe of michael flynn. a revelation that comes at the same time as new reports of just how far james comey went to separate himself from the
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president and in the midst of all this and likely no coincidence at all by the way breaking news from the president who announced his pick for a new fbi director. as we said, a lot going on here. we're covering all the angles. let's begin with manu raju. new questions to face the director of national intelligen intelligence. >> reporter: no question, john. in fact, dan coats was already expected to get a lot of questions in light of revelations from last month that he was asked by the president to publically rebut these reports about collusion that may have occurred between the trump officials and russian officials and remember when he testified last month he did not reveal anything before a separate committee. but today at today's hearing democrats believe that they may actually reveal more about those interactions. this also changed since last night's revelation from the washington post that actually the president asked dan coats to
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intervene with james comey and asked him to back off the investigation into his ex-national security advisor michael flynn. now, those questions are bound to come up at the beginning of the hearing today when mark warner, who is the top democrat asks questions after richard burr, the chairman of the committee. now, already, though, this morning the director of national intelligence top spokesman pushing back on these reports saying this in a statement, that the director coats does not discuss his private conversations with the president. however, he has never felt pressured by the president or anyone else in the administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations. not denying, but also saying he did not feel pressure. we'll see if dan coats goes any further today. he is not the only one that is going to testify in this high-profile hearing before the comey hearing tomorrow. rod rosenstein who has not answered questions publically
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since the firing of james comey expected to hear questions about that as well, as well as these also new revelations that james comey did not feel comfortable in a private room with the president of the united states after the president allegedly asked him to drop the michael flynn investigations. expect rod rosenstein to be asked if he knows anything about that in today's hearing as well. but, guys, all just a prelude to tomorrow's hearing where james comey is expected to testify and also we now know he is going to rebut donald trump's assertion that comey told him he was not under investigation. among other things a lot to look forward to today and tomorrow, guys. >> we'll check back in with you in just minutes. every bit of news this morning followed by a but what there is more. new details about the tension between president trump and jeff sessions over the decision to recuse himself from the justice department's russia investigation. >> sessions actually offered his
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resignation to the president. president didn't take him up on this. this as the white house refuses to say over and over again whether the president still has confidence in sessions. let's get straight to joe johns at the white house. have they answered your question about that yet, joe. >> reporter: no so far. listen to that, heated words, offers of resignation really paints a picture, doesn't it, of a president who was simply furious about losing control of the russia investigation and the fact of the matter is it happened after one of his closest allies, his faithful political senator until he became the president's attorney general removes himself from the russia investigation and all things related to it. so it's a problem certainly for the president. but we hear from the justice department officially that jeff sessions isn't going anywhere. we have heard from the white house that the fact of the matter is the president is not
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going to accept a resignation from jeff sessions. the optics would be bad. it would be difficult finding a replacement. there would be uproar on capitol hill. the white house press secretary doesn't really have an answer when you ask if the president is on his man at the justice department. listen. >> how would you describe the president's level of confidence in the attorney general? >> i have not had a discussion with him on that. >> last time you said that there was a development. >> i'm answering a question, which is i have not had that discussion with him. >> you can't say he has confidence in his attorney general? >> i said i have not had a discussion with him on the topic. >> so there will be more attempts here to either change the subject or get back on message, depending on how you view it. the president flying off to cincinnati, ohio today for an infrastructure event. infrastructure was supposed to be the focus this week.
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>> any time you have to say you are not resigning, that's a tough morning from any job. all right. joe johns at the white house, thanks so much. in the midst of all this, breaking news from the president. he says who he is going to pick to be the new fbi director. >> that's right. christopher wray, a lawyer who spends his time between atlanta and here in washington. he represented chris cristie in the bridgegate scandal and helped chris cristie escape any charges in that case by the justice department. he also has a history at the justice department back in the 2000s, he was part of the push administration, ran the criminal division, including leading the prosecution, the enron case. one of the things he brings is the fact he is well known inside the justice department, inside the fbi. we are hearing already some people seem to be reassured that after a month long search by the president he settled on somebody
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who is a serious person, someone who is going to get some support from democrats even probably. he worked with saudi aids, the former acting attorney general, who of course has been at the center of some of this confrontation with the trump white house. so he knows a lot of people here in washington who will be able to vouch for him. one small episode from the past that may come back up is back in 2004 you remember the hospital incident where james comey had a show down with members of the bush white house over a surveillance program. well, chris wray was one of the people who threatened to resign, along with comey and with bob mueller, who is now the special counsel. back then he was the fbi director in that show down with the white house. what will you hear from democrats is you'll see he's not a push over for this white house. again, a guy with a solid conservative credentials that i think republicans are going to like and democrats are probably going to support as well.
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>> interesting timing, the news breaking. >> exactly. >> evan perez, thank you. joining us now jeffrey tubin, gloria borger and jim sciutto. you all have chief or senior in front of your names. you are very important people to discuss very important things this morning. so washington post comes out with this story last night saying the president asked coats on march 22nd, two days after the comey testimony that if he could intervene in the flynn investigation. if coats testifies to that today, add on to that our previous reporting that the president asked comey himself if he could just walk away from the flynn investigation. is there a pattern here? a pattern that could show obstruction of justice? maybe not one thing, but add it altogether and you get? >> that's the question. that's what this hearing is about. that's what this whole investigation is about, at least the comey part of it, which is did the president take improper
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steps to stop an fbi investigation of his friend, michael flynn and of his associates all involved in the campaign? and certainly this is another piece in the puzzle. approached the director of national intelligence and said help me shut this down. that in and of itself is not an obstruction of justice, but there is another fact. and of course it all reaches this tremendous moment when he fires the fbi director who is investigating him. >> coats saying he did not feel pressured by the president. does it matter what coats felt or does it matter what the president intended? >> it does matter somewhat. you know, the intensity, the level of interest, what exactly the president said to coats, if we find that out. if it was simply, you know, is there anything i can do, that's one thing. if it's please help me shut this down, that's another. i mean, the details matter.
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so, you know, that's why as much as i enjoy and participate and try to get leaks about testimony, it's better to hear the actual testimony. >> one hour from now. >> yes. >> so here is how dan coats testified on may 23rd when asked about this. listen. >> i do believe that the information in discussions that i have had with the president are something that should not be disclosed. on the other hand, if i'm called before investigative committee, i certainly will provide them with what i know and what i don't know. >> well, guess what, jim sciutto? he's called in front of the investigative committee today. so i'm just wondering is he going to politically tap dance? or is he going to say a lot more than he said then?
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>> he better have an answer prepared then because a tap dance won't work. he'll certainly get start questions. and the truth is we already know a great deal. this is a pattern. we know that the president in private has asked senior officials. we know based on comey's own -- we expect to hear it tomorrow but we know based on your own reporting that comey has told friends privately that in private trump asked him to squash the investigation. we heard that from others. and we know that in public the president asked officials to knock down reporting, right? knock down a whole host of stories which most of them have refused. in fact, the former dni james clapper was speaking in australia today, so coats predecessor and he was saying the president asked him to publically knock down the dossier. most of these officials are
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saying no. but from the current administration, appointees of this president have mostly said no. >> and you reported that with dan coats. >> we reported that with dan coats a couple of weeks ago. what we don't know is who said yes. in terms of the public calls trying to knock down stories, we know some folks that took part in that. i got a call myself during the devin nunes fiasco. but some have answered the call, which we know came from the white house. by and large, what's interesting is most of the president's appointees are refusing to do this. >> we're less than an hour away from really what is all of a sudden really big testimony. tomorrow was supposed to be the huge day, gloria. >> it's going to be big. >> and it will be big. and you have been reporting specifically the parameters where james comey feels comfortable talking. >> i think first of all comey, we have been told, is not going to come out and say the
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president obstructed justice, i believe the president obstructed justice. what comey is going to appear as, we've been told is a fact witness. he's going to go through his notes. we don't know whether he is going to have his notes right there or whether he certainly hasn't shared them with the committee, at least not so far. and he's going to say, this is what occurred in my conversations with the president. and he wants to lead the legal analysis and the political analysis up to everyone there and just appear, just the facts, ma'am. that's what he's going to do. in terms of whether he told the president three times that he wasn't under investigation, it gets a little squishy here because i think what sources close to him are intimating, that perhaps the president may misinterpreted exactly what comey says, that these are complex issues, legal issues as jeffrey knows and there is a lot of nuance to them. if comey -- if he were to say
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you're not under investigation, does that mean you are not the target of an fbi counter intelligence investigation at this point? does it mean you're not the subject? does it mean we're not there yet? i mean, there are lots of gradations. >> can i elaborate on that? i think there is a possibility of confusion there. justice department policy organizes individuals who are dealing with the fbi into three categories. you are either a witness, which means you are just someone who can provide information or a subject who is someone whose conduct is under investigation or a target who is likely to be indicted. that -- those terms of art are not really known to the public very well. and donald trump is not a lawyer. he is not a member -- he's not someone who has been involved in this world. it does seem possible that he could have been told you're not a target, but he might have been a subject.
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and he might have interpreted the way he wanted to interpret it. >> can i pause for a skeptical point of view on that? the president's statement in his letter dismissing james comey was definitive. you told me three times i was not the subject of this investigation. i just -- i just wonder, it's clear what he wanted there. and it's clear what he expressed in the letter. >> that may be part of the analysis that comey wants to leave for other people than himself. >> right, right. >> he did make it sound very clear-cut. the president in his interview with lester holt. another nugget, juicy indeed but also relevant if our reporting is correct, comey told jeff sessions don't leave me alone in a room with the president. >> yeah. and sessions at least according to that article said, well, he didn't necessarily have control over that. he couldn't guarantee that james comey wouldn't be left alone with the president. >> and now you have been offering his resignation. >> exactly. and all of the reporting coming
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out about sessions and donald trump being upset with him that he recused himself from the russia investigation. we'll see what happens with that. i think one of the interesting things we'll see tomorrow from comey is how donald trump responds. i mean, we have seen that testimony from james comey has set this president off and it set into motion all the things we are seeing now from the washington post poll. it said 25% of americans don't trust what james comey has to say on this and about 40% don't trust what the president has to say. almost 50%. so there are trust issues for both of these folks in this he said-he said conversation. and we'll see how the president responds today. he's obviously trying to say there is nothing to see here. he's trying to make it infrastructure week. it's not going well. >> i think more people are definitely going to tweet about infrastructure today. >> only if he's talking about a super fund site. >> all right. we will see you guys in just a
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few minutes. stay with us. we have a lot ahead. coming up a cnn exclusive. sources say russian hackers planted a fake news report, a bombshell that fueled the qatar crisis. >> state media reports a gunman sto stormed. and the former director of national intelligence says that the russian scandal is worse than watergate. what's he mean? we're less than one hour away from the current director of national intelligence testifying. he has a lot to answer for this morning. we're following all the latest developments. stay with us.
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former press secretary for hillary clinton. congressman, to you, watergate pales in comparison. >> i almost think clapper is losing it? >> he's losing it. >> he's on the media every day. if this guy is supposed to be the gold standard of national intelligence, first of all, he shouldn't be a media but he's on the air all the time. when he is, he's a little bit to the left, a little bit to the right if we want to call it that. i don't think politically, but he does a chance where he says something from one respect that, hey, there is no collusion and then maybe possible there is. but in mattergate, there was a crime, a break-in. there has not been a crime committed that we know of.
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>> you don't prove a crime until after an investigation. >> but you investigate once there is a crime. there has not been a crime. we don't know of a crime. >> they say they're investigating whether or not there was collusion, which they wouldn't do unless they had reason to believe there might be. i'm just argue guing with the time line here. >> clapper had to watch the whole lime, actually. they knew russia has been trying to work with russia for years and years. this was all under his watch and particularly since july of last year he was in charge or involved with this investigation. he has shown no evidence of collusion and now he comes out with what should be a bombshell statement. it's coming from him and he says all kinds of things that are borderline irresponsible. so it's just -- it's silly almost. >> to his first point, though. he's a politically charged guy at this point, whether or not he wants to be. is this a prudent thing for him to say? >> well, look, it is remarkable
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to see republicans like jack that a couple months ago were happy to cite jim clapper when he suggested he wasn't aware of any evidence at that point that would have indicated collusion. that you they don't like what they are hearing from jim clapper. there is an underlying criminality here. the russians broke into the dna and hacked john podesta's e-mails. so we know there is an underlying crime involving russian nationals at the very least. i think what former director clapper is saying is because this involves a foreign govlt intervening in our elections, that's what enhances the severity here and the potential our own government or at least the trump campaign or associates there of might have been involved in any way is what makes this really haunting. >> take your partisan hats off for a moment if you can. we want your expertise with the justice department and your expertise as well, congressman as someone who has worked in washington. the fact that jeff sessions and the president have had such
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heated contentious confrontat n confrontations that sessions offered to resign and the president is infuriated because he stepped aside from the russia investigation, does that concern you about what's going on inside the white house right now? >> i think it's part of what happens in the white house. i think there is some -- yi think there is tension in the white house and it is not unusual. but i would like to believe that this is probably overblown in the media. it is something the two of them can get passed. i think there has been some frustrations that perhaps jeff sessions recused himself a little too early. but beyond that, i think that you got a special prosecutor now or special investigator with moo mueller. you got a new head of the fbi. so to me i think this -- there probably is intention right now, but i think they will get passed that. i don't think it is going to be damaging. >> well, the fact he offered to resign is confirmed by senior
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administration officials to every news outlet on earth right now. i think that is not in dispute. whether or not it is normal, brian, you worked in the justice department, any of the attorney generals you worked for ever threaten to resign. >> it didn't come to that during my tenure there. this report makes me feel bad for jeff sessions. what is the nature of president trump's beef with his attorney general? that he did the prudent thing and recused himself in the matter he is at least a witness or subject of this investigation. so trump's criticism of him is largely that he didn't stick around in order to shut down this investigation prematurely. that is a complete -- that type of complaint that he has or that sessions suggests it is just another piece of puzzle here a potential obstruction case. >> or maybe he did something wrong. >> the white house has been asked repeatedly whether the
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president has confidence in jeff sessions. that is not a trick question. >> and they won't answer. >> i'll ask brian really without my partisan hat on but eric culver did resign. there had to be discussions about that. >> he stepped down after six and a half years. >> he was accused of contempt in congress. >> that was a partisan vote. >> well, still it was congress. i don't think it was a partisan vote. fast and furious. don't act like -- >> all right. your point, congressman? >> let me say this. in terms of white houses in governing, people do come and go in cabinets. and this discussion is unfortunately public, but there are public discussions that have happened with other administrations and other white houses. >> i think one of the questions that is going to come up today is because jeff sessions is recused, now rod rosenstein is
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still at the helm of this investigation, he is also going to be a witness potentially and bob mueller's look at potential obstruction because he was involved in the firing of jim comey. i think a lot of democratic senators are going to ask rod rosenstein why do you think it is appropriate for you to still be overseeing the investigation when you may have to give an interview about your conversations with the president. there is an option here with rosenstein could have empowered allowed him not to report to him. even when patrick fitzgerald was appointed by comey to investigate, he was given sort of a superstructure where he was above the attorney general. >> we have to leave it there, guys. thank you very much. stay with us. we have a lot ahead. >> all right. the nation's intelligence chiefs are set to testify on capitol hill in less than an hour. dan coats reports that he was asked by the president to back off the michael flynn investigation. he will face questions about that. we'll bring it to you live when it happens.
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>> plus, twin attacks. isis is now claiming it is responsible for the first major attack by isis on iran. stay with us.
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new video just in of these twin attacks. you can see and hear shots pulmoling iran's parliament building this morning at the same time attackers went after a shrine in the city's claiming the country's first major terror attack in steven years. following this for us. what are you learning? >> reporter: good morning, guys. these were big attacks that happened there. they certainly appear to be a coordinated because both those venues are pretty far apart. we know around 10:00 a.m. several gunman managed to
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penetrate into iran's parliament and went on a shooting spree. one of them was killed fairly quickly. another one blew himself up with a suicide vest. the two others managed to take several hostages but at some point were also overwhelmed. it is unclear whether another one of those managed to blow himself up. that hostage situation went on for a very long time. the interesting thing about that is the session in par lamt stayed in session as that hostage situation was going on. obviously the area around there completely kwau lly quartened o. the shrine for the fountain of the islamic repup lick, very important to the iranians. with this attack, you have the religious center and political center of iran also hit. isis claiming responsible for this. the iranians saying they are taking this very seriously but also saying they are defiant in light of these attacks, guys.
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>> thank you. following the developments in iran. russia this morning firing back in an exclusive cnn report that u.s. officials believe that russian hackers are behind a fake news report contributed to a crisis among its closest gulf allies. a fake report that made the government appear friendly to iran and israel. >> that is part of the reason why their neighbors cut ties completely with the country. the kremlin this morning saying, well, the story is, quote, another lie. our crime of justice producer is live here with us. this is a huge deal, if a fake russian news report led to all of this. >> that's right. certainly what some u.s. officials believe that russia was behind this hack, this breach of the state news agency in qatar. what's interesting is the fbi is now there assisting them with the investigation at the request of the qatar that the fbi help
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them in the investigation and they will go through some of the hardware to determine who was behind the breach and how they entered. you know, u.s. officials tell us that they're not certain yet if this was russians acting on behalf of some criminal organization or, in fact, this was the russian government sanctioned by the russian government. that's still under investigation. >> and the meat of the reporting, the meat of the article was a critical one. >> it basically attributed remarks that turned out to be fake to the amir of qatar, basically critical of donald trump. but, you know, also talked about iran and israel. so it sort of fueled some of the fire that's been going on between the countries there. >> all right. thank you so much for the reporting and in just about 24 hours, former fbi director james comey will appear before the senate intelligence committee. he is expected to publically rebut what the president said about their private
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conversations. it will be a block buster moment, one that washington and the world will be watching closely. >> we're joined now by illinois congressman mike quigley. congressman, thanks so much for being with us. before we get to james comey tomorrow we have dan coats today, the current director of national intelligence. on march 22nd, two days after testimony from james comey, that the president asked dan coats to intervene with the fbi to get them to back off the investigation into michael flynn. can you confirm this report? >> i can't because anything we have learned about that at this point in time would have been in a classified setting. i will say this. if true, it is part of the trump administration's graduation here. initially in this investigation, what we saw was the white house delaying, distracting, deflecting. the claims that the trump tower was bugged by president obama, the nunes midnight excursion,
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claims this was all fake news graduates to arguably obstruction phase when you hear stories like this firing director comey for that fbi thing and love to hear the testimony tomorrow. director comey alleging that he was told not to investigate general flynn. >> so there is a number of things we looked at here. obviously, was there any obstruction of justice. also, was there any collusion. on the collusion point, listen to what the top ranking democrat on the senate intelligence said a few days ago to jake tapper on that. >> is there any evidence of collusion that you have seen yet? is there? >> there is a lot of smoke. we have no smoking gun at this point. but there is a lot of smoke. >> all right. so you said on the house intelligence committee. do you agree with him? have you seen a smoking gun? >> well, the way i have described it is if it was a criminal investigation, you have probable cause to go forward. you don't have guilt beyond a
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reasonable doubt. the investigation is in its infancy. the house has yet to interview a single one of our over 20 witnesses we anticipate that would testify in front of us. so there is a long way to go. it is premature to say that, as we have heard with some, that people will go to jail. it is premature to say that there is no evidence of collusion. >> so the issue, another issue besides collusion is obstruction. you used that word before. the thing is is that dan coats put on a statement this morning is that said he never felt pressured by the president, even if this conversation happened he never felt pressured by the president to back off an investigation. james comey we understand is not going to testify tomorrow that he felt like he was interfered with this investigation. he's going to lay out the facts, but if he felt there was obstruction, he would have said to at the time. dan coats didn't think there was obstruction. >> in terms of is there obstruction from a criminal point of view or just the fact
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it was the president's intent? some of that is going to be dependant upon exactly how they testify. so let's see what they have to say. the director comey is a straightforward matter of fact, but he does surprise you at times. remember the last time he testified in front of the house in the public session, he announced for the first time the justice department investigation. he announced that the russians attacked our democratic process to help one candidate, mr. trump, over the other, mrs. clinton. >> we've got 20 seconds left. this is the only time we have learned that comey will testify on this. are you going to be watching tomorrow, sort of wishing you had a shot at him? >> i think he'll testify in front of our committee as well. i will be there tomorrow to watch. >> thank you so much for being with us. >> our special coverage on the former fbi's director's testimony begins tomorrow morning 9:00 a.m. eastern right here. >> all right. tomorrow what we thought was the big show, but today is pretty big itself. what we're going to hear from
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the current director of national intelligence in the reporting this morning that the president pressured him or asked him to get the fbi to back off the investigation of michael flynn. people wonder, was this obstruction? big major questions. stay with us. moms know their kids need love, encouragement and milk. with 8 grams of natural protein, and 8 other nutrients to provide balanced nutrition. moms know kids grow strong when they milk life.
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indeed some of the most highly anticipated testimony in decades. fired fbi director james comey set to face the senate intelligence committee tomorrow. >> one person who will not be surprised by what comey has to s say, the special prosecutor, bob mueller. his team has been in contact with comey before he testifies. we know that is the case. let's bring in michael, a former federal prosecutor, who is also the former special assistant to bob mueller at the department of justice. it is nice to have you here this week. there is a ton, a ton going on in washington, as i put it this morning, a crap ton going on in washington. if you are bob mueller, you are running this investigation and
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you are waiting and watching for today's testimony that will begin in minutes and waiting for comey tomorrow. what are you looking for? >> you want consistency from your witness. if there is going to be an obstruction case, comey is front and center in the making of that case. so he wants his witness to be on point, not verbose, you know, direct and concise in his answers. >> yes, no, yes, no. >> that's right. >> and really not giving his impressions. really just saying this is what happened. that is what was said to me. this is what i did in response to that. you guys in the audience, you can conclude what you will from that. but this is my testimony. >> well, along those lines, if that's what you're looking for, what are you afraid of? is there any jeopardy in this for bob mueller? >> well, sure, because comey is going to be cross examined. think of this as a witness. the democrats, if you will, have their witness on direct exam and the republicans have him on cross examine, so you never
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what's going to happen. he could be asked a question and answer that in a way that's hurtful down the line to mueller's case. so that's what mueller has to be worried about. i have a lot of confidence in comey, but you never know. he said things before that have had to be corrected. so that's the risk for mueller. >> he has two sessions tomorrow. the public session in the morning, right during this show, by the way. but he also has this closed session. not to read his mind, you don't know what he's going to say behind closed doors, but what things may he will willing to say behind closed doors? >> i think he talks about the russia investigation. not the collusion so much, although maybe a little bit, but really the interference stuff. where was the investigation at the point that he left in terms of that? i think that's what is classified. i don't think they will be talking about collusion so much. i don't for sure think they will be talking about obstruction so
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much. it is really highly classified information that just is not allowed to be said in public. >> so in addition to all of this, we learn overnight that the current attorney general jeff sessions offered to resign, a huge amount of tension between the president and the attorney general ral over the fact he recused himself. in the back and forth, jeff sessions if you don't want me here, i'll go away. you worked in the justice department. what's your take on this tension and how unusual it is? >> well, it's interesting that you ask in the sense that that you want to know but i was in the justice department when he resigned over ethical lapses presented. then the assistant attorney general ral esigned as well. i was there for two resignations in two days because of these types of tensions. and it is a horrible place to work under those circumstances. so the notion that sessions is
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thinking about quitting or has tendered the possibility of resigning just sends shockwaves through the department and makes it hard in a sense to get up each morning and go to work because you don't know what you are going to work in. >> there is plenty of work to do as well. great to have you with us. appreciate your time. moments from now the director of national intelligence will testify before the senate intelligence committee.
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all right. moments from now, lawmakers on capitol hill set to grill the intelligence chiefs on the russia probe and a whole lot more. >> it comes one day after the fired fbi director james comey,
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and the president announced his pick to be new fbi director. we'll get right to manu raju on capitol hill. manu, dan coats will be there to testify. the washington post reports the president pressured him to back off the michael flynn investigation. what are you expecting today? >> yeah. that's right. in fact, he's going to make an opening statement on behalf of the four intelligence officials who will be testifying at this hearing and expect those questions about what president trump asked dan coats to do and whether or not he asked him in any way to back off that michael flynn investigation. expect that to come right at the top particularly when mark warner, the top democrat begins his questioning. the question if whether or not coats will reveal anything, his spokesman put out a statement earlier this morning saying he does not want to discuss these private discussions with president trump and does not feel pressured in any way to back off of the investigation. the question is whether or not members of this committee will
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be satisfied and they'll have a chance to ask ron white, a senior democrat on the committee whether or not coats should in any way detail his conversations with president trump and why did he not explicitly say that? he said we should go wherever the facts take us. whether or not he wants coats to go that far. coats isn't the only one who will face intense questioning, also rod rosenstein. it's the first time he's testified publicly since the firing of james comey and the white house initially pointed to that that was the reason why president trump fired james comey. the question is whether or not rod rosenstein agrees with what the president did and whether there was justification for the firing and who told rod rossen stein to write that memo, and whether he was directed by the president in any way. whether or not rosenstein reveals any of this publicly will be an interesting question because he has not done so in a private session with lawmakers saying that it is something that
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bob mueller, special counsel, could presumably be looking at today. all a prelude for tomorrow and one that could reveal new details about president trump and what he's been telling his national security officials privately about this russia investigation, guys. >> indeed, manu raju there on the hill. thank you so much. let's bring in our pa panel, malika henderson, dana bash, jim sciutto, and brian fallon. dana to you, the man of the hour, in just three minutes is dan coats and this is a man who in his testimony said when asked by gillibrand said not here. he's a seasoned politician. you've covered him extensively. what should we expect today? full candor or political maneuvering? >> we'll say first of all, when he gave that answer it was like someone was sticking hot needles
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in his eyes and he was so pained when talking about it. this was a member of the u.s. senate for a long time and retired and said i'm done with public service and was lured back by republican pooh bahs who said hees of the only way to get a senate seat back in indiana and then he came back. so he is somebody who is a dedicated public servant. he is a conservative republican. he certainly is a political expert and politically sophisticated, but i can see him as someone who will not play political games because he wants to be on the up and up with regard to something that is so incredibly critical and sensitive like the president of the united states suggesting to him in his role as director of national intelligence that he should potentially sweep something under the rug. >> nia malika henderson, the hearing is a very serious hearing about section 702 which allows for surveillance of
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foreigners and it gets into the whole unmasking thing. there are a lot of serious discussions to be had here, that said, democrats. put us in their minds right now. how hard do you think they will push even if dan coat, the director of national intelligence says i'm not going to talk about this? >> very, very hard. they see this as a real moment. you have potential stars who are on this committee, people like kamala harris. these people want to make a moment and make their mark on this investigation. burr has said he wants to figure out if they can make it about fisa and renewing fisa which expires at the end of this year, but he knows this will be a wide-ranging hearing. what will be interesting, i think in terms of coats. he used to be on this committee, right? how do republicans treat him? it's one thing for republicans to treat comey a certain way and essentially try to undermine his credibility, but this is a member of the -- was a former member of their club, right? the senate club. so it will be interesting to see
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how they engage with coats and whether or not they try to stay on fisa in talking to him. so that will be something interesting to watch, as well. >> in terms of rod rosenstein and manu said this is the first time he publicly expresses this and who told him to write the memo, the white house completely changed their narrative within 24 hours and first using the memo for justification for firing comey and now he's going to say what it is. >> he's probably want thrilled with the way the white house used his memo. i think he's clearly going to stand by what he said. i think he wrote a memo that said that he thought comey had behaved inappropriately during the whole hillary clinton e-mail scandal. there is a lot in there, of course, the democrats would agree with and that's probably why the president was surprised when democrats didn't applaud, you know, the firing of comey. it will be interesting to see if they get

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