tv CNN Special Report CNN April 15, 2018 8:00pm-10:00pm PDT
invasion, the 266 men who've held the sacred office made the pope the most powerful man in history. ♪ ♪ this is a cnn special report "comey speaks out." just poemspeaks out, we heard j comey unleash on president trump calling him morally unfit to be president, a stain on the people who work for him and a liar who treats women like pieces of meat. a jarring critique. welcome to the viewers around the world and the united states. i'm jim shoe toe. >> i'm pamela brown. he says there was some evidence
of obstruction of justice by the president when mr. trump asked him to let go of his investigation of michael flynn and he suggestions it's possible that mr. trump has been compromised by the russians. needless to say, there is a lot to discuss following the interview with james comey on abc. let's get to our correspondents, analysts and political commentators. we've been waiting for this interview to happen. finally james comey is speaking out. this is the man who used to be the head of the fbi, one of the highest offices in the government calling the president of the united states morally unfit. your reaction? >> look, i mean, this is something that in any other time would be seismic and i think even in this time where it's easy to kind of lose sight of things that are enormously out of balance and enormously unusual for an fbi director, even though he was fired and he
has, you know, he certainly feels a sense he says of higher loyalty but retribution, let's face it, to say the things he did about a sitting president of the united states is absolutely extraordinary. especially, as you mentioned, things like he believes that its possible that the president did obstruct justice because remember, this isn't -- this is the kind of thing that a former fbi director or official does usually many years down the road. this is an active investigation -- >> and he's a central witness in the obstruction of justice probe. >> gloria borger, you listened to james comey and he's a polarizing figure. in fact, he reiterates this in the interview saying the democrats hated him during the election and republicans are trump supporters. >> he said his life sucked, if you recall. >> there was colorful language, a lot of colorful language at this time. as you heard there, is he a credible critic of the
president? >> it's in the eye of the beholder. jason miller isn't going to believe it is but i do believe that he is somebody as a witness to this investigation, somebody who was involved directly, one on one with the president who is saying the president is lying, is lying about a bunch of things. is lying about a conversation they had about loyalty for example and when he says when he says the president is obstru obstructing justice and there is evidence of it, possibly, we know he's telling that to the investigators and the most stunning thing to me was that a question is asked about the president of the united states do you believe that he could be compromised by the russians and comey's answer is, i never thought i would say this, i never thought i would say this but it's possible and i mean, i think his word was, you know,
what always struck me and still strikes me as unlikely but i would have been able to say that with high confidence about any other president i dealt with but i can't, not with this president. so when you want to look at his credibility, he's got ego, his book is full of criticism so the president perhaps shouldn't have made the size of his hands, the color of his hair, his tan, et cetera, et cetera, put that ego aside and the arguments he makes here about the man he is dealing with is persuasive. >> he was a witness in the room for some of these conversations. >> i want to bring in evan perez because you covered james comey for many years. what is the significance of him saying that i believe there is evidence of obstruction of justice and what is your overall take on the interview? >> those are very important comments he's made there. they provide at least a glimmer of why the fbi investigation proceeded as it has and why
robert mueller is doing what he's doing and why this thing is still a cloud over the presidency. i think the president is right that it is a cloud but it is a legitimate thing that needs to be investigated. i will say sort of like just stepping back and i've spend time reading the book, you know, i come away from this and knowing, having known comey and covered him for many years before he became the fbi director under president obama, it occurs to me that he is suffering the same fate that everybody decides to play by donald trump's playbook using the same tactics and things. they are cheap to be making comments about the president's marriage, to be making comments about his tan and his tie and all that stuff, you know, i think that's what happens to you when you go there and you saw this in the campaign, people who decided to go man to man with
candidate trump ended up looking worse for it. >> isn't it -- >> my fear is i think for comey and i think we'll start digesting this over the next couple weeks, he'll come across looking worse. >> i don't want to be scenical here but let's play it straight, he's trying to sell books and the fact that those comments are out there -- >> when george asked him your critics think you're angry and he says that's not right. he is angry. he was upset he was fired. >> he is angry. >> the first washington accolade to write a book. >> what about the timing during the mueller investigation when he's a central witness in the obstruction of justice probe? >> let's get to the question of obstruction of justice because that gets to the core of the investigation. we have the advantage of jeffrey toobin here. you're a lawyer. james comey gives a first-hand account with the meeting with the president soon after the
president is elected when he says the president told him to let the flynn investigation go and he said he's asking me his impression is to drop the critical investigation. is that possible obstruction of justice he's referring to? >> i don't think. i think it is obstruction of justice. i just think there is just no other way to describe what the president was doing if comey's account of the conversation is correct. he is trying to stop an investigation of a someone in the russia investigation and particularly when you combine it with all three meetings that comey talks about, i think in and of itself it is obstruction of justice. it was a crime committed in the oval office. now, whether comey is telling
the truth, he sure looked like he was telling the truth to me. he sure has a pretty good record on such issues but, you know, you have to look at the evidence in the case but i think it's a completely devastating account of the president's behavior. >> laura coats, do you see it that way? >> in part. i did see a martyr in a lot of things today but with the obstruction case. james comey is in an interesting position. if you've been following the entire last year and a half and using evidence of obstruction or other things but for many reasons, comey's firing is the beginning of the obstruction inquiry and he can't really fully tell people whether or not everything he prides himself and donald trump was evidence of it. remember, we're talking about obstruction. i'm a former federal prosecutor. that was never the end game for me. if i had an obstruction case, that was part of the underlying investigation. it would be a kin to having an
armed robbery and all of a sudden charging someone with speeding away from the crime. it wouldn't satisfy anyone in the public. it is evidence in part of that but it's not the end game for mueller if that is his entire probe. it would be ironic and odd if that was the end game. is it circumstantial evidence? in part. >> jason miller, i'll give you a chance to respond. on the obstruction issue and on the larger impression of james comey's impression of the president that you know and work for. >> the president has been very clear and i think the people around him believe he can fire the director any time that he wants and there is no obstruction case here. >> the michael flynn point is separate. can he tell the fbi director in the long waanguage he used, let? >> they have given a much different account but it's rather stunning the former director is in the middle of this out there hawking books to echo on what dan said. he's out there trying to sell a
movie deal. what we saw tonight didn't feel like some hard hitting interview. this felt to me like an episode of "behind the music" where on one shoulder we have director comey thinking do i go this way? on the other shoulder, do i go that way? t this man deciding when he has to tell the president he's funding the dossier or the politics that played into the fact that he brought uphill hillary e-mail, has a god complex and he's the only one to decide when things are right. >> i know part of the intention is to turn the fire back. he put himself out there. he wrote the book. on the facts of his account of the facts of this conversation, if the president asked to let a criminal investigation go of his former national security advisor, if you, by james comey as account, would that be obstruction? >> he didn't. >> you're saying comey is lying?
>> comey is not giving an accurate picture here. what we seen from comey, again, he's the only one who can decide when leaking is okay. he's the only one who can decide when lying is okay. he's conflicted out of this and it's really stunning to me to watch this. look, to think that to him that this is now about future business income more than anything else, i think is just stunning. >> it's odd you would say the idea he is a person to either decide whether lying is okay or anything else when the president made that judgment call on friday about scooter libby and the certain assessment. why do you think this is the time to decide somebody is not entitled to make the judgment calls but the oval office is. >> he's the director of the fbi. to be leaking things to go and push to the press and get a special counsel going, he lied in his testimony when he said he hadn't leaked. for a former director of the fbi, the word i keep coming back to -- >> this is why he said he had --
>> this is what mueller -- if the president does testify, this is what the special counsel is going to be asking him about. >> i think you do a good job. i've said that publicly before and i think the president does -- >> do you think he should? >> if he does decide to, he'll do a great job and i think that's part of the thing, too, when he's going to be out there in 2018 and 2020 and people ask about it, president trump knows what he's doing. he's going to be fine if he does make the decision. >> i want to bring in patty here. >> you might disagree, patty. >> i disagree. i think that many people have questions about comey's judgment, people on both sides of the isle. certainly giving the letter ten days before the election and the timing of this book and certainly also, you know, talking about the size of his hands and all of that stuff that i think he should not have done, i don't think anybody really questions his honesty and
veracity and truthfulness. he's been truthful throughout this process when he was fbi director and investigating hillary clinton. as painful as it was for me to hear this press conference in july, it was truthful. >> let me just -- i don't mean to interrupt but this is only the first version of comey's own truth. you can tell from the interview and book you can tell he's wrestling and making decisions. >> and the polls and the decision and the fbi and himself and the thing where you admit and i think you're being a little generous with regard to
this. there are things we know from reporting and other accounts that don't really marry up, match up with what he says in the interview and this book. >> but the counter to that is who are you going to believe? comey or president trump who i think at last count "the washington post" said he has 2400 since he's been president so this is going to go on for, i don't know, two weeks and it's going to be a trump. >> in the polls, in opinion polls, people have strong opinions on both sides but by in large tend to occur along the lines of many disagreements in the country but by that measure -- >> why did the president ask the vice president and the attorney general to leave the room? that's an important point. you only do that when you know maybe you're going to be a naughty boy and maybe you're
going to be asking a question that you shouldn't be asking and that you didn't want them to hear and i'll tell you one other thing that was striking to me in this and we've heard this before in all of our reporting is that comey wasn't asked at the very beginning what can we do about this russia hacking into our election. instead, it became a p.r. decision so it didn't look like it was illegitimate. if i'm the fbi director -- >> he wasn't asked by the president -- >> yeah, he wasn't asked by the president. >> what we already know is that the president has been more concerned with how the russian medaling impacted the outcome of the election and the legitimacy of his president. >> i agree with that. the other thing that's really striking and he did this a little bit in his testimony before congress, but much more so in this interview and clearly in the book is he sort of his
has to continue on your confessional, he has his good angel and bad and he's still wrestling right now at least publicly with whether he did the right thing or somebody else would have done something differently and the question is whether he's saying that as a way to try to not seem like he is as people are accusing him of being holier than now and the moral compass he whether that's a genuine internal discussion. >> the thing is about it, the idea of him wrestling with it is right but the justice department is structured in a way he would never have to. if the prosecutor who decides whether or not to bring a case. it's a prosecutor who goes before the cameras if they choose to to hold a press conference. loretta lynch would defer to the judgment of the investigators in this case, not that you hold a press conference on my behalf. if i never had an investigator
come in and take over a case and hold a press conference without telling me, you can leave your badge on my desk and your pension at my door because that's how it works. >> look at jason. >> i want to make one other point, right now everything with the conversation is whether it's comey versus comey or comey versus traump cump conversation. you look at the democrats that criticized former director comey. we saw mccabe throw him under the bus strongly in the i.g. report and loretta lynch. >> rloretta lynch was contradicting his account. >> she wanted to get ahead. >> she did. >> and reigns, former hillary spokesperson came out with some -- >> that's a good point you bring up because comey refer to this in the interview that democrats revowed hill for interactions. we have one sitting next to you here during the campaign and republicans since then and comey
raises it. perhaps he said and i'm paraphrasing, we're flawed human beings doing our best to investigate both things. is that a fair -- >> a very good point and i'm glad you asked that. you would think someone is being criticized by republicans and democrats, they must be doing something right. what is different here is you're seeing people a lot of people looking and seeing a chris christie type. he's republican but an unimpeachable law and order type background, someone that's been a prosecutor say if he had done this when he was here, he would have been fired. i was talking to a former prosecutor today that said if you asked him six months ago, even though all the back and forth with trump, he said he would have said comey is someone on really kind of on a different level that he would say this is the ultimate role mod and will now i can't believe -- >> the fact is trump pays comey during the election. >> just because you think that
he's not of high moral quality as others believe doesn't mean that he's lying. >> but, i mean -- >> and that's what, you know, that's what mueller -- that's what mueller has to get to and, you know, the timing of the book is interesting because he is such a key witness. >> he did lie testifying. >> let's bring in jeffrey toobin there because this is go back to the big picture if you can for a moment, he's accusing a sitting president of being morally unfit. his term to hold the job another phrase. he says he treated women like pieces of meat. these are remarkable. they are jarring judge thes men make about donald trump. >> they are the least interesting part to me of his story. those are conclusions that we can agree or disagree with.
he's a witness to the events at the end of the october and of course,e eshe's a key participa by the president. he's obviously now made up his mind he thinks donald trump is a terrible person and president. that sort of conclusion while remarkable for someone in his position, you know, i think the fact that he was -- that he is in the room, that's what is really interesting to me is that, you know, he is a firsthand witness of extremely controversial events. his conclusion, i guess, i mean, it's striking in its severity but i don't, you know, we all could have opinions whether donald trump is fit to be president. we've all been in the oval office as witnesses. >> no question. it seems the interactions are part of the reason he reaches
those conclusions but we certainly have much more to talk about. james comey on the president asking him to pledge his loyalty. much more of our special report right after this break. vo) helps and lose weight with contrave. it's fda-approved to help adults who are overweight or struggle with obesity lose weight and keep it off. contrave is believed to work on two areas of the brain: your hunger center... i'm so hungry. (avo) and your reward system... ice cream. french fries. (avo) to help control cravings. one ingredient in contrave may increase suicidal thoughts or actions in some children, teens, and young adults in the first few months. serious side effects are mood changes like depression and mania, seizures, increased blood pressure or heart rate, liver damage, glaucoma, allergic reactions, and hypoglycemia. not for patients with uncontrolled blood pressure, seizure history, anorexia, bulimia, drug or alcohol withdrawal, on bupropion, opioids, maois, allergy to the ingredients, or pregnant. may cause nausea, constipation, headache, and vomiting. reduce hunger, help control cravings with contrave.
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question out there for more than a year now. does russia have compromising information on him? listen to this exchange. >> do you think the russians have something on donald trump? >> i think it's possible. i don't know. these are more words i never thought i would utter about a president of the united states but it's possible. >> that's stunning. you can't say for certain that the president of the united states is not compromised by the russians? >> it is stunning and i wish i wasn't saying it but it's the truth. it always struck me and still strikes me as unlikely and i would have been able to say with high confidence about any other president but i can't. it's possible. >> as director of the fbi, he would have seen the evidence. this is not a just out of the blue and he is making this having left a year ago with a host of evidence. that's remarkable comment for him to make. >> it's as george said, it's
stunning. he is proving to the information now that the special counsel is getting and not only that, he you can have a president compromised by the russians and raises the question of obstruction and says by the way he felt like he was investigating that this was like some kind of a mob thing where the president was trying to get him into the family and make sure he was a cooperating, loyal, part of the family here and the notion again and this goes back at the president being compromised potentially by the russian, the notion that the first respond was not are you kidding me? can we do to make sure this doesn't happen and i want every detail, i want to know and those questions were not asked, that
would make an fbi director raise a lot of questions. >> we have the benefit of another year and seen michael flynn guilty and becoming a very important witness to the special counsel as a result of him you can start seeing additional people who have come forward and have given testimony to the special counsel. i think that what comey is e leading to is certainly a lot of what we have seen which is that the special counsel is following this idea that somebody, somewhere inside the campaign was doing something that may have been improper and trying to figure out how high that goes and i think that's the concern that you heard in the interview, which is that maybe it's not donald trump himself but perhaps someone very close to him might have done something that the
russians know about and could use to compromise administration. >> i have to say, i wish he spoke a little more and was asked why do you think he was compromised versus past presidents? >> he said on the tape. >> he did. he did. there has been a lot out including the infamous dossier. the dossier the president himself said is unverified, has been debunked, everything like that. >> i feel that's where we're heading toward the spot trump supporters get put into where there is this allegation there is some collusion or coordination between the foreign entity to which there is zero proof and someone like myself says there wasn't any
coordination of collusion. it's also ill poo important to t out comey. two years ago everyone would say he's one of the most unimpeachable characters and now he's essentially become a political figure. even his body language in the interview as he's talking about the video. he's shifting around and it looks to me like not believable and he's trying to sell books and movies. it's clear what this is about. >> jason, the guy has millions of dollars from the hedge fund job. he's okay. the book sales are really not the motivator here. he's got a story to tell and feels compelled to tell it. you can pass judgment. >> he wants to make money, too. the book deal and movie deal. >> i want to bring in jeffrey toobin. i want to ask you about the timing of the release of the book. the fact he released the book is
not a surprise. the fact he released it in the mueller investigation in terms of the obstruction of justice probe and the fact comey is a key witness in that, is it appropriate for him to release the book now? >> i mean, you know, he's a pry rid citizen. he has first amendment rights. there is no legal bar to him doing it. he exposes himself to some criticism for his timing. you know, as u swn who is a book writer myself, the notion that he is, you know, the shocking thing that he's trying to get people to write by his book and trying to put interesting stuff in there so people will want to read it, those don't strike me as terribly damming criticisms. it is true this is the middle of the investigation but the other point worth pointing out is that he's been extremely consistent in his testimony before the senate intelligence committee
and in this interview and in this book compared to the president who has just made up a fantasy about the tapes in the oval office. there is just not -- i mean, his consistency in his story, which is most important in the way is impressive. >> his accounts were corroborated by the first intel briefing with the president james clapper who is also in the room said the same thing but jeffrey toobin, i know that, you know, we can talk about another washington poll who wants to make money off a book but keep in mind just he is saying that there is a possibility that russia, a foreign adversary has compromising information on him. is that not the bigger topic? >> well, you know, i think, you know, you're making a very valid point which is there is a public interest in saying what james comey is saying and saying it right now.
the fact that the president behaved this way. the fact that the russians may have something on him. that's why i think it is a good thing for public officials to write books later on because they have things to say that are of importance to all of us and i'm glad to hear him say it. >> i want to go back to what jeffrey said about people that write books should write interesting things. james comey has so many interesting things to say given the obvious situation and the point i made before was that it doesn't necessarily have to be the color of his skin, the size of his hands, things like that because being in a room, being a first-hand witness, having the experience he had not to mention knowledge about the investigation, that's enough to sell books. >> we'll be right back. still ahead, comey talks about his discomfort during a change and inappropriate dinner with the president.
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on one dinner we've heard so much about where he says the president asked him for his loyalty, that he extremely unkm fortable. >> i expect loyalty, i need loyalty. >> i need loyalty. he came back and said i'll give you honesty and the president said honest loyalty. j jason miller, what is your take on that? is that an appropriate action by the president of the yiunited states? >> i don't think the conversation went down the waco me said. i'll tell you the reason why and i haven't discussed this with the president or anyone in the white house this supposed conversation. the simple fact that the president trump i know would never go and ask someone a question like this where they couldeasily turn around and say no. >> he wouldn't ask him for loyalty? >> i could never see president trump sitting down with someone and saying can i have your loyalty. >> really? >> yes. >> he asked that of all of his staff. >> i worked for him for seven
months and he never at one point during. >> he already knew you were loyal. >> i worked against him in the primary. how did he know? >> let's take a step back. james comey has been interviewed by mueller which means if this account isn't true -- >> you know, here is the interesting thing about that dinner:the w dinner. the way he describes that dinner, he describes it as a shake down. he views the briefing in early january after the intelligence briefing where he gets told about the dossier. he viewed comey as shaking him down and here we are later that same month they are having this private dinner and he asks for the loyalty according to comey and the ky comey describes it is he views it as the president shaking him down. in exchange for your loyalty, i'll let you keep your job. >> how important is that for him being the key witness and that's how he viewed it?
>> extremely important. the way he proves it is through intent. somebody's mental state. what they intend or believe. everyone's interpretation is very important in terms of what he meant and why he was doing it. one way to gauge the credibility judging someone's mental state is whether or not they are saying things unflattering about themselves. comey said in that for the of the interview, as well, didn't have the guts to say to the president of the united states, i'm the fbi director, i'm '6'86 >> why did he quit? >> he was fired. he didn't have the guts to say i won't give you loyalty. >> he went to the press conference with regard to secretary clinton because he had to establish the moral fabric in which the election would be viewed. he thought she would win. he didn't want it to be an illegitimate presidency. he's so conflicted with am i right or wrong? >> he -- >> loretta lynch has --
>> the perfect place to wrap it up. we'll talk about this on the other side of the break. >> i know we've all been waiting to talk about this. coming up, comey talks about the controversial handling of the investigation and why he knew it was a no-one situation. you won't want to miss it. stick around. hey grandpa. hey, kid. really good to see you. you too. you tell grandma you were going fishing again? maybe. (vo) the best things in life keep going. that's why i got a subaru, too. love is out there. find it in a subaru crosstrek.
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i would, down that path lies the death of the fbi as an independent force in american life, if i ever consider whose political fortunes will be aif he canned -- affected, we're done. >> we're back with our special report talking about james comey's bombshell interview he did with abc. he's not only taking aim at president trump but opening up more about the hillary clinton e-mail investigation. here is more about what he said. okay. so i want to bring you in, patty. why did you talk about the hillary clinton e-mail investigation and not the trump campaign investigation? why did you release the letter just before the election? in your view, did he give a sat t'tis fa-- satisfactory e-mail
that? >> no. here is why he didn't disclose there was an investigation going on. it would have been brutally unfair to the trump people. what about being brutally unfair to the democratic nominee? ten days away from the election. you know, again, i have no reason to believe that jim comey is not telling the truth and i can, if i try really hard, wrap my head around his reason of transparency for letting the letter out ten days ahead but if that's the reason, transparency, why not release the trump campaign was being investigated, also? we're never going to know unfortunately, we'll never know if that letter was determining in that election. but it -- we do know it negatively impacted the hillary clinton campaign and therefore it gave a boost to the trump campaign and if even one clinton
voter, either stayed home or voted for trump or voted for stein, that was bad judgment. >> patty, you're talking about the difference between his approach to the clinton investigation and the trump investigation. what struck me was the fact that he really didn't have an answer for why and george asked the right question, why when they found out about the e-mails that were on anthony weiner's computer, why they didn't quickly try to figure out what it was and why they needed to go public with it. but the answer is, there isn't an answer because they found out there was no there -- >> i think by far this is the most damaging thing that james comey says in this book and interviews because he is trying to have it both ways. he says we cannot let politics
influence us but he also admits that the fact that she was leading in the polls did enter into his head. >> that is key. i want jeffrey toobin to come in on this because that seems to have influence frankly, his and many other decisions along this campaign because part of his assumption was if i don't do this when she's president, then there will be a question whether her election was somehow unfairly helped along. >> god, i thought that was bizarre and like off key and wrong. i think there is this weird washington conventional wisdom that if the left is attacking you for one thing and the right is attacking you for another, you must be right because you're in the middle but you can be wrong on both or you could be right on one and wrong on the other. and his explanation particularly for the october 28th letter is so weak and this sort of
helplessness, i had no choice. he had every choice in the world and he never acknowledges the incredible strong justice department tradition of not interfering with elections. >> sorry, just to -- >> absolutely. >> i am coat pmpletely agreed. >> he absolutely showed the opposite of what he said. what he said was if i ever start considering whose political fortunes would be affected, we're done. we're just another player. >> that's what he did. >> thank you very much, ji saso >> that's exactly what the fbi is not supposed to do. >> right. >> this is the key criticism of james comey. i will go back to what i said before. it does not mean that he's not telling the truth in everything else. >> correct. >> but there was, there were political considerations because he thought hillary clinton -- >> you can't -- >> but he also -- >> hold that -- >> he goes and picks winners and
losers. >> it makes one wonder if trum s was ahead, would he release the trump investigation. >> hold that thought. we have much more time to discuss this and we heard from james comey, how is president trump reacting to his interview? we'll be back in a moment. hey wt more out of life in every way. so they're starting this year's garden with miracle-gro potting mix and plant food. together, they produce three times the harvest to enjoy... and of course, to share. this soil is fresh from the forest and patiently aged to guarantee more of what matters... every time. three times the harvest. one powerful guarantee. miracle-gro. we're almost there. stall. my video call's she's colagging. mom? surprise! surprise! hold up. hold up. we got a laggy video call here. you need verizon, the best network for streaming. here. trade ya. okay, people, that's a reset.
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we're back now with our special report. james comey calling president trump morally unfit to be president in this new interview. the president unleashing a preemptive strike, calling his fired fbi director slippery, a slime ball, out of whack, a terrible director of the fbi, proven leaker and liar, weak and untruthful. >> what does he really think? >> his response is a direct fire back at james comey. >> of course. >> which is a frequent trump response to being attacked. does it work? >> well, it works to help james comey sell books, you know. for somebody who is very interested in ratings and size and how much people watch and how much people read and numbers like that, he's given james comey a big solid here by doing this kind of thing. >> does but does it in the bigger picture as he directs fire at him, and beyond the base, does it begin to get
people to ask questions, gloria, about james comey's credibility? >> sure. that's exactly what the president is doing. but i would say comey is throwing it right back at him. saying it, he felt like he was investigating the cosa nostra again. >> he tweeted today that the three presidents mentioned in his book, one of them is a counterpoint to his points of leadership. >> the president does not reflect the values of this country. he talks women like they're pieces of meat. et cetera, et cetera. i think he has just given it right back to him. and by the way, that doesn't do the larger argument any good, because the serious stuff that's got to be investigated about russia and this potential collusion, et cetera, et cetera is the stuff that is in this book that is serious that needs to be and that mueller be dealing with. >> he is giving sworn testimony in that investigation. >> you have to wonder, i'm just wondering, jason miller, as you're watching, as you know the president very well, assuming he
watched it tonight, hard to think that he didn't, he will be briefed on it at the very least, what do you think stands out to him? >> i think the fact that that there is nothing new. >> there was a few things. evidence potentially of obstruction of justice. >> but i think also the president is someone who watches a lot of news, who reads a lot of newspapers. he looks around and sees the folks in the media as well as the folks in the democratic party who are criticizing james comey tonight. i think the president is probably going to call some attention to that. i think you're going to see a lot of folks on the right aside from the president take a lot of issues with the illegalities of some of the leaking and the lying that we saw. >> the leaking and the lying, this is a president who just on friday pardoned scooter libby who leaked the name of a cia operative and then was convicted of lying of perjury. and also this is a president who was caught lying on so many occasions. i don't know what the count. i just want to ask you this.
you say james comey is a liar. how so? >> because he said that he didn't leak. >> he said this -- >> he said he didn't and he did. >> he said it's true, that he admitted to giving those memos -- >> he did that before the memos had come out, saying he had never been an anonymous source. he did admit that he gave the memos to a friend who then leaked it. >> his explanation tonight is whether you accept this as sufficient, he said that there were all these news cameras at the end of my driveway, and therefore i had to leak it out via a friend whirngs he was on the hill he didn't say hey, i packaged everything up and gave it to my friend from columbia and said let's go ahead and leak it to everything. >> this is all part of a talk narrative, a talking point because the president of the united states, most people think about the fbi that. >> don't know every director. he knows christopher wray maybe. this is part of a effort to discredit the fbi and the doj as part of a larger campaign that if the ultimate investigation
does not exonerate the president of the united states, they have been discredited in some way. it's quite transparent and a fig leaf if he is preemptively striking at that point. >> thank you all so much. just days from now jake tapper will sit down with comey for the former fbi director's first cable news television interview since president trump fired him. you can see it thursday on "the lead" at 4:00 p.m. eastern with jake tapper right here on cnn. >> still ahead, we're going to hear more from james comey on president trump and whether he obstructed justice. and we're also standing by for another brand-new comey interview releasing moments from now. stay with us.
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comparable bundle, for less. call today. and welcome back to our special report. comey speaks out, the fired fbi director suggesting tonight that president trump may be compromised by the russians and that there is, quote, some evidence he obstructed justice. i'm pamela brown. >> and i'm jim sciutto. we are following all the breaking news from comey's first television interview since he was fired and his blistering criticism of mr. trump as, quote, morally unfit to be president. and this hour we are standing by for the release of a second interview with comey. we're told it will cover some additional new ground. we have a team of correspondents, analysts and political commentators joining us now. one of the most remarkable moments of the interview was just a big picture, really takedown of the president.
comey saying that he is not fit for the office. let's have a listen. >> is donald trump unfit to be president? >> yes. but not in the way i often hear people talk about it. i don't buy the stuff about him being mentally incompetent or the early stages of dementia. he is above intelligence and is tracking conversations. i don't think he is medically unfit to be president. i think he is morally unfit to be president. a person who sees moral equivalence in charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they're pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists america buys it, that person is not fit to be president of the united states on moral grounds. >> truly remarkable words there. phil mudd, you have served in senior positions. have you seen a person who served at that high a level dismissing a president's fitness
for office? >> i can't remember anything like this. it makes me a bit uncomfortable there is two pieces of this. what james comey thinks as a private citizen, he is welcome to his thoughts, as we all are. i think there is a lot of people who serve at the bureau included who wince a little bit because if you have a narrative that says when this investigation was initiated. >> it was initiated by people who have a perspective that says this president doesn't deserve to be in power. people are going to look at this interview and say, well, there is a deep state out there. there are people like jim comey who believe this, and that's going to feed the narrative that says the basis for this investigation is from people like that who want the president out. i respect his opinion as an american citizen. but i think it's going to feed a narrative. >> aphil, i think there is a counterpoint to that. if you listen to what comey is saying, what he is del graphing out there is that this guy is not going this stuff that he is crazy. this is purposeful.
he's got intent. if there is obstruction, he did it on purpose. i think that there is subtext that you hear coming from him. in other words, he is trying to say like all you people who think donald trump is doing this because he is just throwing stuff at the wall, he is saying this is all purposeful. that's what i think see trying to telegraph. >> let me say this. if he is telegraphing things, he one thing he is clearly telegraphing is he has become a political figure. he started off in saying he was very proud, all of his family went to the women's march, which was largely an anti-trump march. so to me he has become a political figure. and the importance of that and i'll say my daughter went also, you know. >> you have resistance in your house. >> but the truth of the matter is he is a political figure. what is that important -- >> political because he has criticized the president? >> because he has dabbled in and
out of it and he has become a lightning rod. >> he drew the ire of both hillary clinton's side and donald trump's side. >> but pam, you know, both sides -- both sides used him politically. the democrats did not like him when he was going after hillary and the republicans. >> how is he a partisan? explain that. >> as i said when you say proudly the first thing in an interview, and it was totally irrelevant. >> and your daughter went. are you a democrat. >> i'm confessing this on the world stage. but i think -- i think no one would accuse me of being objective or nonpartisan. but here is my point. very important. and i learned this from hillary clinton when she accused the republicans of the right wing conspiracy. she took white whitewater and made it a little issue. he has taken this investigation and made it more political. and in our tribal society
because of that, people are going to -- [ overlapping dialog ] >> the president himself has attacked entire institutions, right, as political if they criticized. he said that about the intelligence community. he said that about the fbi. the president guilty of the same kind -- >> i don't know. you've got page and peter strzok and andrew weisman who are very anti-trump and i would say political along the way, and by the way there are a lot of anti-clinton people. >> i like the days that phil mudd was referring to when particularly people in the military, people who wearing the uniform, people in the cia and the fbi, they obviouslied that their own opinions, but you did not know what they were. here there is fresh blood on the track, goes out and writes a book. why couldn't he have waited five years from now? >> because five years from now nobody would buy that book. >> nobody is going to buy that
book in five years. i want to offer a counter. i actually do not think james comey is partisan or political. i think james comey doesn't have a political bone in his body. hence why we are getting such conflicting and confusing messages. in one breath he says i didn't have any political calculations when i made these decisions. and in another breath and i thought hillary clinton was going to win. so i thought it was going to be important. in one breath, he said he wants to -- he wants to have a good working with relationship with the president, but he also knows he probably shouldn't be at dinner. when i saw that part of the interview where former director comey noted that he got a phone call and he thought it would be a group situation at dinner, so he went. it immediately struck me that as a veteran of the fbi, as a veteran of law enforcement, james comey didn't have any one of his staff members call over to the white house staff to find out what the particulars were of this dinner to in fact uphold the independence of the fbi. so i actually just think he doesn't have a political bone in his body. that's why he is botching this all together.
>> abbey phillip, you cover the white house. he preemptively struck as we said dr. how is the president receiving this criticism, morally unfit, treats women like pieces of meat, phrases like that coming from comey's mouth? >> the president is not surprised by my of this. i think he has been so angry with comey for so long that this is just icing on the cake. the issue for the president right now and for his staff is really he has been here for the last several days, has had a lot of time to watch this coverage, to digest it, to stew on it. tomorrow morning he is going to be doing the same thing. and it's going to be pretty challenging for them to keep a lid on really a president who overflowing with anger toward comey. but also, we've seen him become much more comfortable with his own justification for getting rid of him all together. i think some of comey's interview really fed into some of the feeling that the president had that he was wrongly criticized for firing him. but comey has proven that he did things for political reasons, that he botched various issues
throughout the last year and prior to that, and that the president had every right to fire him because he simply wasn't doing a good job. the fact that democrats and republicans are finding things in this interview to criticize comey for is going to be one of those things that gives the president a little bit of a boost going into monday. >> michael zell, comey responding to that because geor george stephanopoulos asked him questions along these lines. his answer is perhaps i'm just a flawed human being who was do this, made some mistakes along the way. but my interest was in doing my best to do my job. as you heard that, did you buy that as an explanation? >> well, i think that he believes that he was doing the best he should do under very difficult circumstances. i for one felt that the july 5th press conference where he said critical things about hillary clinton but decided not to prosecute her was wrong and
against justice department policy. i felt when he wrote the congress in october saying we are reoption it, it was wrong and against justice department policy. and were there not a russia investigation and a new administration were to come in and saw that, this is a fellow we might want to replace or discipline in some way. because that is not acceptable behavior. now we fast forward to the current interview, and he is explaining his thought process. you know, fine. but i think it was just wrong at the outset, it was wrong. so what i found interesting mostly, and everyone has been talking about it, what did he tell news this interview that portends where mueller may be going? what are the pieces of law that we learned here? and we learned a couple of things i think are interesting. one is the contradiction between the request for loyalty and the denial of that request by the president. the second is letting things go. >> yes. >> and clearing the oval office, and his sense that this is
intentional behavior to obstruct an investigation. the next is the pretext that he saw of the firing, which when he was fired, i think rosenstein wrote a very compelling letter. >> about his handling of the clinton e-mail. >> which i think was a compelling letter and could be a basis for firing. but then the president goes and says to the foreign minister of russia in the oval office, i did it because of russia. that's an intentional act on the president potentially to obstruct. so he gave us something. >> his state of mind, the witness' state of mind versus the president? >> but the witness speaks to the president's state of mind. i think there are a couple of things here that comey told us which says this is what i told mueller. and you, mueller, have to look into this to see whether or not this amounts to obstruction of justice. >> it's a great point. >> and no one has covered this investigation more closely than you. but as you were hearing him there, in effect, we can expect what he said on the air tonight is at a minimum, what he has
told the special counsel, i imagine with more detail and under oath. but describing that meeting about michael flynn, he said he felt he is asking me to drop the criminal investigation of his now former national guard adviser. based on the folks you speak to, how serious a conversation, how seriously is mueller looking into that? >> i think that's a very important part of what mueller is looking at as far as the obstruction of justice part of this investigation. but i think if you look at it, you also start looking at a pattern, right? you look at the other one-on-one dinner where he essentially -- he has already told comey -- the president has already told comey that he is going to stay on as fbi director. he has a tenured term after all there was no expectation he was going to leave. then he starts being transactional. but it turns into a bit of a shakedown, at least the way comey describes it. if you they'd with the context of the other bleegt meeting whe
can you find a way to drop this thing, you start seeing a bit of a pattern. and you also notice that comey thinks all of this is a president who is acting -- he says he's got above average intelligence. so he's not just doing something crazy. he is doing stuff because he intends to do this. >> may i add one thing to that? the other thing that i think comey said compellingly was that in the course of these meetings that we've just been talking about, i felt so concerned as to go back home and immediately write contemporaneously memorandum. now he labor day weekend one and that's unacceptable. not illegal. the point is he told us i was so concerned, my state of mind, witness state of mind that i wrote contemporaneous memos right then and there no memorialize those conversations. so if in fact when those memos go to mueller, which they have,
and he has to assess credibility of witness. witness one, comey. witness two, president, and you have these contemporaneous memos, then i think what we saw here from comey was a compelling state of mind what was going on which was to him concerning. and i think that's going to be important to mueller's evaluation of who is telling the truth about these situations that we've been talking about. >> but couldn't you argue also that he was a fired spurned employee which is what motivated him right now -- >> excuse me, jack -- >> just one second. not at the time he wrote the memos. >> i would say mr. comey, you said in this interview tonight that you thought the president was a liar. the very first meeting. why didn't you quit right then? if you're such a high integrity, higher qualiing or whatever the name of your book is, which i probably won't read. >> oh you should read it. there is some stuff you might be able to read. >> we'll have a book club.
>> but here's my point. if he is so great, if he is such a christ figure, why did he not quit right then and there? because everybody knew by january 2017 that trump was the man who -- >> in one of his meetings in the book, he describes in one of his last meetings with president obama, he tells president obama that he is dreading the next four years. so i think to your point, again, you might want the read the book there is stuff in there that will tell you about a little bit about his state of mind going into this. and i think it's relevant. >> all right. we got to go because we're just getting our first excerpt from the new interview that james comey did. in it he reveal what's the president told him about vladimir putin and what he wouldn't say. >> we have more right after this break. just listen. (vo) there's so much we want to show her.
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we have more breaking news right now. a second interview with james comey just released. the fired fbi director revealing what the president said to him about russia and vladimir putin. and as we read through this, jim, this usa today interview he did, he is really doubling down on this notion that he believes that the president was possibly compromised by the russians which is one of the key parts of the dossier that the president has reportedly said is unverified and simply untrue? >> that's right. and one piece of evidence here is he describes the way donald trump will not criticize valentine's d vladimir putin even in private.
he won't criticize vladimir putin even in private. i can understand why the president might not want to criticize publicly another leader. but privately sitting with the person in charge of countering the threat from the person to the united states, that's always struck me. jack kingston, can you help us and help our viewers understand why the president won't go there with the leader of a foreign adversary in vladimir putin? >> i think the president actually did want to have decent working relationships with russia as respect syria. and now we saw this weekend that hasn't worked. so we unleashed again on syria. >> but before this weekend, there was an enormous amount of evidence of russian aggression and ms. behavior towards the united states. election interference, ukraine. >> as you know, moving nato troops in the baltic states is a
big thing, asking nato nations to pony up more, doing joint exercises on the poland border, those are all things that russia doesn't like. not to mention the expelling the oligarchs. >> diplomats. >> but personally, why is the president so reluctant in your view? the president is not shy, as you know, about criticizing many individuals of all stripes and parties. why not vladimir putin? >> i think actually it might be something a little more superficial than anything nefarious. it might be he stubbornly doesn't want to do it because people are saying why don't you say critical about it. but if you listen to pence's comments yesterday, they were pretty doggone tough. i don't remember -- [ overlapping dialog ] the vice president doesn't speak alone. let's remember that. >> it's worth saying also, jack we also know based on reporting
the president has been reluctant to do all of the things you mentioned, all of the tough measures that this administration has put forward, his aides are telling reporters he has been reluctant to go there. and that's been pretty consistent. the president himself with his own words, with his own mouth, whenever he is given the opportunity has always resisted criticizing putin with a rare exception. in a tweet recently when he used putin's name for the first time never a tweet, this is the president -- in a critical way. >> but by the way -- >> listen -- >> let's listen to comey in his own words when he was asked about this notion of believing the president is compromised by the russian. >> do you think the russians have something on donald trump? >> i think it's possible. i don't know. these are more words i never thought i would utter about a president of the united states. but it's possible. >> that's stunning. you can't say for certain that the president of the united states is not compromised by the russians. >> yeah, it is stunning, and i
wish i wasn't saying it. but it's the truth. it always struck me and still strikes me as unlikely. and i would have been able to say with high confidence about any other president i dealt with. but i can't. it's possible. >> about your reaction? >> a time-out here. he has a -- that -- comey has a powerful message here. and the message based on facts is if you're the president of the united states coming into office after briefings from across the intelligence community about interference in american election, the first thing you do is look at your national security adviser, presumably before he gets fired and say you need to host a series of meetings that is homeland security -- let me get real boring, homeland security, fbi, cia and report to me every 15 days, 30 days about how going into midterms you're going to protect us. show me one instance, and comey talks about this. he talks about the fact that he did not have substantive engagements with the president about russia. show me one instance where the president has directed national security council to meet. the problem i have here, and you
see this throughout the interview, throughout the week and in the book is the difference between reporting of facts and what james comey thinks. i think this. i judge this. i believe this. he is morally unfit. when he is on ground where he says the president didn't do this and therefore he was acting unpresidentially, i think he is fine. i think too often he slips into saying i've got a personal view on this, and i think that colors the entire -- >> in interview, with the usa today interview just posted, he goes a little further than the abc interview. he suggests that there might be finances. there might be obviously the golden shower tape as we now know it. but it's beyond things, beyond the stuff that we see in the dossier with things having to do with finances and business. and, again, to your point, phil, i think there is no proof of any of this, that comey offers in the interviews. and certainly in the book. it seems to be a little bit more of ruminations based on --
>> it's an important distinction. >> let me ask a question. so you're the president. imagine you're the president. you have just received a briefing from the nation's senior most intelligence officials. not just james comey, but jim clapper, mike rogers, the others. they just told you russia has interfered in this election. and the reaction according to comey, but this is also corroborated by others who were in the room was not what are we going to do about this as a country. it was, according to james comey, how are we going to spin this to our favor. >> well, i would do what phil just said in terms of bringing the alphabet soup in, of all the responsible agencies. and i might not do it right then and there. >> are you disappointed that your president did not do that in these circumstances? >> no, i don't. because i got to tell you, i just can't give james comey much credibility at all. let me say this -- >> by the way, it's been corroborated by others, jim clapper, exactly. >> but let me say and not to pick on jim clapper, but i was
on the defense appropriations committee. we had a lot of classified briefings. mr. clapper did tell the senate -- >> but the public -- not everybody is infallible here. >> clearly been more focused on how it impacted his presidency more than anything. >> let me say this. he is the head of the fbi. for him to say they might have something on the president, the very, very serious statement. i would agree. everybody would agree on that. if people believed james comey tomorrow, the stock market will drop 500 points. it's not going to. the reason why it's not, it goes back to my point earlier. he is a political figure. he is mad, disgruntled employee who was fired and who by the way had a chance to bow out in january. but he hung on until he was fired. and the point he is doesn't have credibility. >> it's not -- >> but the first -- >> in this interview, though, the first thing he said, the president said i understand you've been at it a while.
if you want to -- >> he wanted to stay in the job. you don't -- >> the president is so repugnant to him he would have -- >> this is -- >> a quick final thought. >> this assertion that james comey is some political figure i do belief is incorrect. look, i am extremely concerned that in hearing about what the russians did in detail, donald trump was more concerned with his campaign image and spin:00 it for the polls or the cameras than he was about our actual democracy. and that's what i think folks are going to take from this interview. >> good thought there's. james comey portrays the president as a serial liar untethered to the truth. we're going to talk about that just after this break. we just switched to geico and got more. more? they've been saving folks money for over 75 years. a company you can trust. geico even helped us with homeowners insurance. more sounds great. gotta love more... right, honey? yeah!
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welcome back. thanks for staying with us tonight. we're back with our special report. comey speaking out. the fired fbi director sounding disdainful, calling him morally unfit and portraying him as a serial liar. comey believes there is some evidence that mr. trump obstructed justice, and that it is possible that he has been compromised by russians. really remarkable charges for the former fbi director to make. but really, this obstruction of justice question comes up frequently and relates to specific conversations that comey had one-on-one with the president. i want to get to his descriptions of one of those right now. and then we'll talk about it. have a listen. >> should you have said, mr. president, i can't discuss this. you're doing something improper.
>> maybe. although if he didn't know he was doing something improper, why did he kick out the attorney general and the vice president of the united states and the leaders of the intelligence community? why am i alone if he doesn't know the nature of the request? but it's possible that in the moment another person would have said sir, you can't ask me that. that's a criminal investigation that could be obstruction of justice. >> was president trump obstructing justice? >> possibly. i mean, it is certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice. >> so michael zeldin, you know a thing or two about the law. he is describing an encounter there where the president has kicked out or kindly asked attorney general jeff sessions to leave the room as well as mike pence and said can you let the michael flynn investigation go? comey says specifically he felt the president was giving him a direction to end the criminal investigation. that obstruction of justice? >> no, not in and of itself. it is evidence of the president's state of mind in the clearing of the room, and then you look at the exact words that
the president said, which was i hope you can see a way to let this go. now, there is case law that says i hope you can see your way to let this go, and that's found to be obstructionist behavior. there is case law that says i hope which is aspirational and not obstructive behavior. what mueller those do is a look at the evidence of that meeting, speak to the parties there, determine what comey felt, look at the memorandum that comey wrote right after it, speak to jeff sessions and mike pence, what did they know about this, see whether or not the president spoke to michael flynn about this. what is flynn testifying about what he heard about the meeting. did the president hypothetically say to flynn hey, don't worry. i asked comey, we're all good. all of those things factor into the composite of what will be the evidence that mueller have to make the determination now with respect to obstruction. not in and of itself. >> i want to bring evan in on that point. what is important that he is a
credible witness that is something more we'll look at given what we heard from james comey tonight in that interview. the interview in usa today, in the book and elsewhere, is he a credible witness? has his story been consistent from the beginning? >> yeah, i think he is a credible witness. i think there is -- there are some problems with him. obviously, if he -- if there was ever a trial against someone and james comey is brought before to be a witness on the stand, i think there is plenty of stuff here that people like jack and so on would point to and say he is somebody who had grudge against the president. but i think his story is consistent, and i think like a lot of people, what comes across is that he is a man who is trying to wrestle with how to deal with a very unconventional president. and so that's some of what comes across here in the book and in some of the introduce. you certainly get a sense of he admits that perhaps telling the president that he wasn't
personally under investigation may have been a mistake because after that, trump was after him to say that in public, and he was refusing to say that. i think there are parts of comey's story that certainly are -- you can attack it. but i think he is consistent. he is somebody who served three different presidents, and i think because of that, he comes across as at least somebody trying to do the honest thing. >> i think his justification for his own actions are some of the most problematic parts of his interviews. and the book, when he goes back and forth about what he did what he did. but i think what comey does in this book is establish himself as someone who recalls the events that actually occurred in an accurate fashion. and he compares that to the president who has a very public record of telling -- retelling things incorrectly or telling lies or using falsehoods in an
aggressive offensive way. so comey himself is setting himself up as someone who at the very least, even if you don't agree with why he did what he did, recalls the things he experienced in an accurate way. >> michael zeldin, contemporaneous notes. he comes out of that room. he makes a conscious decision to say i'm going to take it down word for word as i remember it. are those evidence in an investigation? >> sure, sure. a witness is called and say what did you recall? did you take contemporaneous notes, they can be used as evidence of his recollection of it. sometimes he needed to refresh your recollection. sometimes it's different evidentiary methods by which things get. in but yes, they're probative of whether the witness is truth telling when he presents his testimony orally. >> but he also testified before congress that the president had not tried to interfere with the fbi investigation, which is totally contrary to what he is saying happened in private. >> well, it's not exactly that way, jack. but assuming hypothetically it
was that way, then that would be something on cross-examine he would be presented with. but the point that jim is asking is when you have a conversation with somebody and you make contemporaneous noteses of it because you're concerned what is being said to you as potentially implicating law violations, it's important piece of evidence. >> told other people about this conversation. >> right. >> but i'm just saying, his testimony -- his sworn testimony contradicted this. what i would do, if i was on the other side is try to prove that he is not credible. i'm just saying his testimony contradicts what he said privately. and that wasn't the only case of that. >> you know the thing that struck me, though, jim hi, he is pretty consistent. he testified before congress that the president had not
interfered with the fbi investigation of flynn that is contrary to him saying he tried to lean on me. >> did he actually interfere or try to interfere? those are two different things. it's not semantics, it's a real thing. if he testified the president did not interfere with the investigation, that is one thing. did the president attempt to interfere and attempt to do that? that's what he talks at length about. >> you know, i'd also -- a quote. >> i was trying to see if there was -- i know he did testify. it was in may when he did that. but i would also call to attention of the judge or whoever was looking at him, this is a guy who said he never leaked. and he did leak. and he only admitted it after he was caught. >> he wouldn't know the details that he gave it to the professor. >> he testified that he never leaked. >> it's not illegal to leak unclassified information. >> but you testify that you
don't leak and then later you say i leak. don't call somebody else a liar. >> i'll take comey in the memos over your leaks. >> criticism about his handling of the hillary clinton investigation. does he think he crossed the line? we'll discuss. we're almost there. she's coming! stall. my video call's lagging. mom? surprise! surprise! hold up. hold up. we got a laggy video call here. you need verizon, the best network for streaming. here. trade ya. okay, people, that's a reset. you want us to surprise her again? yeah, but like in a fun way. like this. all my favorite friends are here. there's tony and diane. like something like that. (avo) get up to 50% off our best phones, like the samsung galaxy s9 and the google pixel 2. because unlimited is only as good as the network it's on.
investigation, pushing back at clinton who said she felt like comey stuck a knife in her back. and i want to talk more about this. but let's go actually listen to comey directly from this fbi -- from this abc interview. take a listen. >> they say this crossed a line. >> yeah, i've heard a lot of that. what i would hope is that they would by reading the book come with me to october 28th. tell me what you would do. >> your critics say this is a clear, clear, clear double standard. you revealed information about hillary clinton. you concealed information about donald trump. that elected donald trump. >> take a step back and stare at the two cases and the posture they were in. the hillary clinton e-mail case was public and the counterintelligence investigation is trying to figure out whether a small group of people -- not donald trump. we were not investigating donald trump. whether this small group of americans was coordinating anything with the russians. we had just started the investigation. didn't know whether he had anything. so it would have been brutally
unfair to those people to talk about it. and it would have jeopardized the investigation. >> what did it feel like to be james comey in the last ten days that of campaign after you sent the letter? >> it sucked. i walked around vaguely sick to my stomach, feeling beaten down. i felt like i was totally alone. that everybody hated me. and that there wasn't a way out which means it really was the right thing to do. >> all right. so there is a lot to digest here. a lot to digest. and this has been one of the questions that is constantly raised. why did james comey handle the two investigations differently. s >> james comey thought he clearly knew best. he did the same exact thing october 28th. i frankly don't care how james comey felt. don't care that the last ten days sucked for him. he thought that he knew best that he knew better. he bucked procedure at every single turn. and he clearly had some type of
investment here in terms of the clinton e-mail investigation. it just makes no sense to me. as a regular person listening, why you can justify talking about hillary clinton, especially on october 28th when you really didn't know what those e-mails said. >> that's a fair question. why didn't you investigate a little bit more before you came out publicly? >> and he seemed to undermine himself in that same answer. he said of the russia investigation or the investigation into trump campaign associates that. >> didn't know what they had at this time. and he said he thought it would be unfair to reveal information about this investigation, not knowing if it would lead anywhere. that's exactly the position he was in with those clinton e-mails that had popped up. it turned out that if there was nothing in them. and he didn't know anything about them at the time that he decided to come forward. so, you know, comey is going back and forth on a lot of this stuff. but it doesn't make sense to a lot of people watching because the same explanation can be used. and also, the clinton investigation was not public.
just because people knew about it didn't mean that that portion of the investigation was a public thing. so the idea that it warranted being revealed is just -- >> treat hillary clinton differently. >> there are a lot of moments in this interview where james comey portrayed himself as tortured over this decision. almost like hamlet, should i have done this or should i have done that? but fbi policy was pretty straight forward, was it not, that you don't publicize the status of these investigations, particularly in that time period close to election. had he fallen back on protocol, it would have been a simple decision. >> i think the moment of semi honesty that he has in the book, and certainly in the interview where he talks a little bit about the fact that he was aware that he thought hillary clinton was going to win. look, everybody did. president obama, people in the white house, some of what they did -- >> donald trump. >> right. people in the trump campaign. we know people in the trump campaign who were looking for jobs -- not you, jack.
but people who were looking for jobs because they assumed he was going to lose. look, everybody thought she was going win. but the thing is not everybody is the fbi director. not everybody is bound by the way they're supposed to do business which is not supposed to pay ategs to what the polls say. this is where a little bit out of body experience to where he is semi admitting to things we know he did. again, this is the first draft of his confessional. i think over time he is going to be a little more honest with himself as to why some of the mistakes he made. and they are mistakes. >> he hasn't been able at this much time been able to ruminate, think about it, say definitively on a lot of these things, this was a mistake. [ overlapping dialog ] >> egregious. >> one of the things that struck me is there was a kind of a softball tone to this whole thing. and this is where stephanopoulos should have asked him --
>> he did ask him. >> no, he spent something like ten minutes trashing hillary clinton on july 5th. and he says but she was extremely careless. how could you say that's against the fbi rule? they do not trash talk a private person. that's one of their rules. the other thing is on october 28th, lanny davis has pointed this out, he had told congress earlier that if we find something new, we will look into it. he did not say, as symone said we're going the sash out and have a big press conference about it. he did not have to do that. at this point it was comey all about me. >> it would have been very simple for him to stick with practice. >> right. >> you served in the fbi. >> give me a break. i spent 4 1/2 years in the hoover building. two things you figure out within five days where. is the could have fee. and you don't talk about ongoing investigations. forget about ten days before the election. the mistake he made was in the summer time. a, he talked about the
investigation, and b, he trashed an american citizen after he said the investigation is closed. i don't care if you're republican or democrat, you don't trash a citizen after the case is closed. when you go to close out, when you go to fall, after that initial mistake, he is in trouble. if he doesn't say anything, somebody is going to say well you said it was closed and ten days before the election it was open if he says something, the answer is simple. here is the coffee and don't acknowledge an open investigation. that's it. >> the thing you can't miss when you look at all of this was that as i said at the outset, i think that the july 5th press conference was unfortunate and violative of privilege, of practice. same with october, even worse. so rosenstein comes in. he writes this memo, and he says this is a reason to let this guy go. if the president had only kept his mouth shut and said i'm acting on the advice of my attorney general, my deputy attorney general and i'm letting the fbi director go because of
the breach of protocols, we wouldn't even be here. >> right. >> but he had to come out and say you know what? -- >> he had to rub it in. he had to bring sergey kislyak and the russian foreign minister. >> call him a nut job. >> into the oval office. >> but the point was he said the reason i fired him was because of russia. >> something the special counsel is interested in. >> exactly right. >> now that we heard from james comey, it is certainly a matter of time before the president explodes on twitter. we're going to talk about mr. trump, his reaction to everything comey said about him tonight. (vo) why do subaru forester owners always seem so happy? because they've chosen the industry leader. subaru forester holds its value better than any other vehicle in its class according to alg. better than cr-v. better than rav4.
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♪ ♪ ♪ olly. tonight we got a first taste of what james comey has to say about president trump. this just the beginning of the fired fbi director's media blitz. the big question now, of course, is how will the president respond. abby philip, you cover the president, should we expect a tweet storm in the morning? >> i'm sure there will be something. the president spent the weekend trying to message test some new labels for james comey trying to figure out how to go at the problem he sees in james comey.
here's why i think this is going to be hard for jim comey. he made it easy to say he's hurt hillary. republicans say he's done things against trump. the president this weekend accused him of trying to want to get a job in the hillary clinton administration by restarting the investigation before the election. so, the president is having a hard time squaring the facts here. that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. if comey wanted a job, he wouldn't have done something that cost hillary the election on the eve. >> and the president -- democrats not happy with a lot of his decisions, which comey struggled with, he says in the interview, throughout the campaign. >> right. but i think what you're seeing is, is, is what happens when people decide to fight trump with the same tactics that president trump uses, you know, candidate trump and president trump. i think over the next week, two weeks of the book tour, you're going to see perhaps some diminishment of james comey. i certainly -- people inside the
fbi that i talk to, i think they're all cringing, they're all bracing for the fact this is bad for everybody, including comey and perhaps even the bureau. >> well, in just a few days jake tapper is going to be able to sit down with comey for the former fbi director's first cable news interview since president trump fired him. you can see it thursday on the lead 4:00 p.m. eastern time with jake tapper. that is it for our special tonight. pamela brown. thank you for staying up late. the news will continue now on cnn. ♪ rocket mortgage® by quicken loans® makes the complex simple, giving you super hero levels of confidence. understand the details and get approved in as few as eight minutes so nothing stands in your way. rocket mortgage: america's largest mortgage lender. marvel studios' "avengers: infinity war"
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