tv Comey One on One With Jake Tapper CNN April 19, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
e change push. brook? >> love how you said it welcome to the 21st century. that does it for me. we'll season it to jake tapper a special edition of "the lead" starts right now. welcome to the special edition of "the lead." i'm jake tapper. you have no doubt heard james comey detailing his rise and his time as the nation's top law enforcement official and sounding the alarm about the future of america under president trump. this week he's been particularly candid of the criticism of president trump. and the president has fired back but in a crucial moment in the war of words about very important issues there is a lot of breaking news with the source telling cnn that later today the department of justice is expected to allow congress to see comey's memos of interactions with president trump and another source saying that the justice department is looking at possible criminal charges against comey's former
deputy andrew mccabe for lying about leaking. amidst this barrage of major breaking news of james comey and the department of justice, we have with us today the former fbi director and the author of his new book "a higher loyalty: truth, lies and leadership," james comey, welcome to "the lead." thank you for being here. >> thank you. >> cnn breaking the story the justice department inspector general sending a criminal referral to the u.s. attorney in d.c. regarding your former deputy andrew mccabe after a report concluding he lied to investigators and to you about a leak to "the wall street journal" in which he confirmed or had people leak to "the wall street journal" confirming the existence of investigation boo the clinton foundation. if they bring a case against andrew mccabe, would you be a witness for the prosecution? >> potentially. i don't know if the reporting is accurately. i know cnn reporting but sure. given that the ig's report
reflects interactions of andy mccabe with me and others i could well be a witness. >> you express a lot of horror in the book when public officials or even celebrities lie to investigators whether david petraeus or -- >> martha stewart. >> i would assume you would be upset at andrew mccabe. i haven't heard you criticize him the same way as the others. >> -- >> >> oh sure. that's anct i take seriously and the department of justice. so far the accountability mechanisms of the department working and committed to the truth and so it's working. i don't know whether there's a criminal referral what will happen. that's part of accountability and examination of what the consequences should be if there's material lying. >> how do you feel about your former deputy according to the inspector general lying lying to you, lying to investigators for a leak that the inspector general said was only motivated to preserve his own rep vags and
nothing to do with the fbi or the public's right to know? conflicted. i like him very much as a pen and even good people do things they shouldn't do. ir've he the report. i'm not the judge in the case or disciplined decision maker in the case. they should work because it's not acceptable in the fbi, the justice department for people to lack candor. >> the justice department is also expected today to begin the process of getting congress see your memos, detailing your interactions with president trump. is that the right decision to let congress see them? >> i don't know because i don't know what considerations the department has taken into account. it's fine by me. >> you don't care? >> i don't care. i don't have views on it. totally fine with transparency. i tried to be transparent through the this and i think folks will see i'm consistent from the beginning right after the encounters with president
trump and consistent in the book and tried to be trance parent in the book as well. >> senator grassley says there are seven memos, he says four classified. is that right? >> i don't know because i don't have the memos. i don't know exactly how many there are. some may be memos or e-mails. somewhere between five and ten. it may be seven or eight. i don't remember. and i think some of them -- i know when i created some they were classified and i don't know how many of the group. >> one of them is of the classified one obviously from when you told president trump in trump tower about what was in that two-page annex about the steele dossier, the summary of the steele dossier. what were the other classified ones be about? >> well i can't answer that if they're classified. >> you can't even say the subject of them? terrorism? >> a number of conversations related to our investigative responsibilities and if i go beyond that i'm breaking the seal on them. >> just learning that bloomberg news reporting the deputy
attorney general rod rosenstein said he is not a target. at this point, what might that mean telling the president he's not a target? >> i don't know what it means. it is a fairly standard part of any investigation trying to decide whether a person you're encountering is a witness, a subject or a target. a target is someone on whom the investigation, the grand jury developed evidence sufficient to charge. witness has nothing to do with exposure and a subject is everybody in the middle. so i don't know the context in which the deputy attorney general did that but that's the general framework. >> the president obviously had a lot of words in response to you for the last year and change c especiallyalled you a leaker. our reporting says that a republican that spoke with the president says that the president feels as though he's weathered your book tour. has he weathered the book tour? has he come out unscathed? >> i have no idea.
it's about my hope that i can be part of facilitating a conversation about our values. president trump figures in that obviously because he's part of the stories i'm trying to tell to illustrate ethical leadership because it's not about him. i haven't thought about it whether he's weathering it or in the. >> the book is about president trump to a great deal. there's a lot in there about your time as a u.s. attorney childhood and there's a lot in there about president trump, especially in terms of leadership. he's an example of how not to be a leader in your view. he is the example of somebody who is a bully and you talk throughout your book about how you hate bullies. >> i think he is a counter point. that's why he's in there. i couldn't write about ethical leadership and illustrate it with stories without telling stories of someone i think fails to reflect the values of an ethical leader. it is an important part of the book but it is not a book about donald trump and i hope it's useful long boo the future beyond a trump presidency.
>> you kale him morally unfit, the presidency a forest fire rye lating the rule of law. do you think the nation would be better off if hillary clinton had won? >> i can't answer that. that's something that hypothetical is too hard to go back in timeo try to -- >> it's hard to imagine how you don't think the nation is better off. >> i don't think about it in those terms. we have the current president who was legitimately elected, serving as president. is he adhering to our values? clearly not. i think the first thing do do is not get numb for it. calling for the jailing of private citizens don't shrug. that is not okay or normal. >> the -- it's interesting that you won't go as far as to say that hillary clinton would be -- the nation would be better off if hillary would be president because you have called for the nation to respond to the challenge of trump in your view by voting. presumably by voting against
what he represents. is that not a fair interpretation? >> i think of it in terms of voting for something else which is the core values of this country which are more important than any policy dispute. i don't care whether people find in it a republican or democrat or neither. it is important that the leaders reflect the values because that's all we are. >> so you have spent decades building a reputation for being evidence based, for being nonpartisan. the fbi is an organization that is supposed to be evidence based and nonpartisan. do you worry that by painting this stark portrait of president trump and suggesting that the american people should vote for something other than the lack of values that he represents in your construct that you are sullying both the brand of comey and the brand of the fbi? >> yeahso. be criti republican or because he has a certain view on taxes or immigration or anything else. i'm criticizing him on the grounds of values which is at the center of the fbi and
something that should be the center of all of our evaluations of our leaders so i get that it's relevant to politics but it's more important than partisan politics. >> something you said to me in one of the interviews stood out. quote, if you've been investigating something for a year and don't have a likely sense of where it will end up you should be fired. you wrote something similar in the book. exonerating hillary clinton of criminal behavior. let's apply that same standard to the mueller investigation. you oversaw the russia investigation for almost ten months. did you, do you have a general sense of how that investigation is going to end up? >> in some respects i did at the time but not completely. i suspect that the team that's investigating it now has a general sense. i have no idea what that is but again it's a general feeling on the current course and speed to end up in this direction or that direction. >> where did you think it was
going to end up? did you think it would end up with people around president trump being found guilty of conspireing, aiding and abetting with russians? >> i can't say. i've left it out of the book for reasons that should be obvious. i can't talk about classified information or details. >> but your sense of where the investigation was headed is not classified. it is just your impression. obviously, the investigation continued since then. why don't you say? people want to know. you have left the impression that there's something there in your interviews. you have said when asked do the russians have something on president trump? you have said it's possible. it's possible. which is not a very fbi director answer, don't you think? >> honest and calibrated answer. i hope that's a fbi -- i'm not the fbi director but i hope that's a fbi director type answer. >> giving the press conference about hillary clinton in 2016 in the summer you said you didn't say she didn't lie. or you didn't say it's possible she lied.
you said you found no evidence she had lied. you found no evidence that she had that e-mail server knowing that it was improper. but you're not using the same construct of there is evidence or there isn't evidence. you're saying it's possible that leaves the impression for people that there might be stuff out there that there might be evidence that president trump is under the thumb of kremlin. >> yeah but i see that jake asking me two different things. i won't talk about the investigation of possible cooperation between americans and russian effort to what you asked me about now, why did i say what i said whether i thought it was possible that the russians had derogatory information on president trump. i think it's unlikely but possible. >> isn't that construct unfair to president trump in a way because the question was, if president trump was compromised by the russians. you say it's possible. not likely but it's possible. there's possible there's life on other planets. for you, somebody like you with
your reputation saying it's possible isn't -- i mean it is also possible that it's not true. isn't that another way you could look at the same question? >> sure. i'm not looking to the stars saying there might be green men out there. there's a reason i say it's possible. two things struck me. one the president's constantly bringing it up to me to deny it and in my experience it is not an ironclad rule but a striking thing when someone brings up something to deny you didn't ask about. second i'm always struck he wouldn't criticize vladimir putin even in private. which struck me as odd. those aren't definitive facts but there are things that lead my common sense to believe it's possible. >> isn't that kind of cute? not saying that you have evidence of it. just saying it's possible. do you have evidence that president trump is compromised by the russians? have you seen evidence of it? >> no. i think i have said that
throughout. here's why an honest answer has to be it's possible. now, i'm not saying it's likely. it's unlikely in my view but it's possible. >> let's talk about the investigation. january 2017 when you met with president trump and you did that oral presentation of what's in that two-page memo, summarizing the steele dossier, we know from the book you talked about the unverified allegations of him and prostitutes. did you brief him about any of the other things in the steele dossier, claims that associates michael cohen or paul manafort was allegedly working with the russians? >> only the salacious part of it. >> why? why only that? >> that's the part of the leaders of the intelligence community agreed he needed to be told about because we knew it and thought it would be public and if it was true we didn't know whether it was true it would be important to let him know this as part of a defensive
briefing. >> on the subject of the dossier, how much of it do you think you were able to prove to be correct verify or debunk? >> work was still under way. i wouldn't be able to say if i was still there. >> some of it -- is it fair to say some verified as true and some false? >> i think all i can say a core part of it consistent with lots of other intelligence core part being the russians engaged in an orchestrated campaign to influence the american election. >> michael cohen, i want to ask you about him. now under criminal investigation. your former job. cnn's reporting that one of president trump's former lawyers is warning the president that michael cohen could flip and also we're hearing and lots of people reported that president trump and his advisers are much more concerned about the investigation into michael cohen than they are into the russia investigation. put on your legal analyst hat for a second.
why might that be? why would they be more worried about michael cohen than robert muler? >> i'll resist the legal analyst hat. you have awesome legal analysts at cnn. i'm not one of them. >> cohen's name is in the steele dossier. the fbi trying to verify if the dossier is true or not. is that in the russia claim? >> i can't answer that. >> you detail interactions with the president that made you uncomfortable. you promised honest loyalty. you agreed this michael flynn was a good man. now, you write that your experience in high school gave you a lifelong hatred for bullies. do you think president trump is a bully? do you hate him? >> i definitely don't hate him. there are that make me e i think inappropriate and i don't hate donald trump. i don't even dislike donald trump. >> a devil's advocate question of president trump. you are a person that briefed
him about the salacious allegation of prostitutes. is it not possible that president trump when he asked for your loyalty had in his mind the idea that here's a fbi director, the only fbi director i'm familiar with is j. edgar hoover and blackmailed politicians all the time and isn't it possible he was asking for your loyalty because he was worried that you were going to drop all this incriminating information on him that may or may not have been true. >> possible. >> possible? >> only saying that because you said this. >> clarity of something else. you said that president trump, quote, treats women like meat. is that from some personal experience that you saw or heard about or is that just from things that he has said? >> just from media. not personal experience. >> i want to ask about specifically about if you could put on your hat, legal analyst hat -- >> which i'm refusing to do. >> but to look at -- i know you've been asked about the obstruction of justice charge and you said there's possible to
be a case to be made. specifically with firing you and asking you after you -- after the meeting he asked you to drop the flynn matter look at the conspiracy matter, aiding and abetting and colluding is not a criminal charge. we know the russians hacked the democrats. werump world were approached by people with kremlin and told about dirt on hillary clinton. we know that there's an expression of a desire for that information. we know that two people in the trump world reached out to julian assange and published the e-mails and president trump made hay out of the e-mails. am i missing anything? is there anything else in the conspiracy that we don't know? >> i can't answer that. >> of everything i just said which is all in the public domain is that enough for a conspiracy charge against anybody? >> it's really not something i
can answer. if you're the special prosecutor you want to understand those facts and any around them to make that analysis. >> is there a case there? >> you don't want me to say it's possible again. it's possible. i don't know. >> you write in the book about the controversial decision to notify congress that you were reopening the clinton investigation a few days before the election and asked about this. i'm not going to ask the other questions people have but you did say you were thinking at the time quote if i hide this from the american people she will be illegitimate the moment she is elected. didn't that happen except to donald trump? in other words, you didn't disclose -- i understand why you didn't but you didn't disclose the russia investigation to the american people and now people think he's illegitimate and he thinks is a cloud over his presidency. didn't you do it to trump? >> i don't think so because i think of the two investigations and everybody working on it in
the department of justice and the fbi did, as well as quite different. very early stage counterintelligence investigation of americans, not donald trump, a small group to figure out is there a connection of those people and the russian effort. separate from the russian effort and conversations of whether to publicize that i don't know what we would have said. we weren't investigating donald trump. we had just started. i think there actually wasn't serious serious consideration given to it and not appropriate under the policies. >> early stages in october 2016. but you disclosed it in march 2017. that's only five months later. was there such a difference? >> only in a general way. i mean five months later we informed congress there was an invest and the reason is the acting attorney general decided there was such pressure of congress senator grassley holding up the confirmation of the deputy attorney general
unless he got more information. >> you admit in the book you made two mistakes in the clinton investigation. one is the phrase extremely careless to describe the handling of classified information. you said that was a mistake. what phrase should you have used? >> i don't know. even in hindsight i haven't come up with how to capture it's more than mere sloppiliness and trying find a way to describe something that was above just ordinary carelessness. leaving a document on a counter at a restaurant or something and criminal misconduct. >> you don't have a phrase that would have been -- >> i still don't. you might expect i've kind of suppressed the effort since then. >> after you were fired president trump tweeted there might be tapes of the private conversations. you said you asked your friend to leak some information about your interactions with the president. not classified information but information about your interactions with the president and you say you did this testified you did this to try to
force the creation of a special counsel. why? why would the department of justice and fbi not be able to continue to do the job? >> i thought that the department as currently supervised would not serve process to get the tapes. >> jeff sessions is too weak? >> he recused themselves. >> rod rosenstein -- >> new deputy attorney general and i didn't have confidence given what he saw around my firing and something has to be done. there were lots of discussions about appointing a special prosecutor. something has to be done to push them to appoint someone to have the gumption to go get the tapes. >> what do you say to people who say, boy, that seems manipulative not your role and maybe even it seems like payback? >> i don't think of it that way. i was a private citizen who saw something i could do. i thought that was very very important. and i did it and it obviously acknowledged at the moment i was asked about it publicly. i thought it was something that needed to be done and a private citizen can talk about their
unclassified conversations with the president. >> the average private citizen doesn't think to leak this information to force the creation of a special counsel. it's an extraordinary gambit and congratulations and it is not kind of thing that the average private citizen would do. >> of course not. i don't joy accept the congratulations. the average citizen didn't with the president of the united states asking him to drop a criminal investigation. i was in a position given what i knew to do something that would be useful and important. i did it. reasonable people can disagree about it. i still think it was the right thing mccabe and now peter struck and thatt worked at the fbi and a lot in the news about text messages back and forth and disparaged a lot of people including president trump. now, you say you had no idea an affair or a text messages. i take you at your word. put yourself in donald trump's shoes for one second. you feel this is unfair, this
investigation. you find out that peter strok is texting someone about you and then you find out he helped conduct the hillary clinton interview and he called you an idiot. wouldn't you think that this is unfair and politicized? >> sure. i get that. it's the reason bob mueller removed peter who's an excellent agent and removed him from that investigation. poor judgment and shouldn't happen. >> your book is about leadership. throughout. does it say anything about your leadership that strok who was a high level fbi agent doing this? did you set any way any tone where that kind of glib insult of a -- of a major political candidate at the time would be not that big of a deal? >> no. but it does say something about my leadership. i mean i'm responsible for the senior members of my team and i
asked myself the same question. i tried the model a certain way of acting but i asked myself should i have given them all a speech? but these are grown-ups senior people in the counter intelligence division. i don'be too tough on myself. i'm responsible. i'm responsible for their actions and their poor judgment. >> speaking of leadership you say you got a phone call from then department of homeland security secretary john kelly now the chief of staff at the white house. in which he referred to the president as dishonorable and was talking about quitting. you told him not to quit. were you surprised when he took a snob job as the white house chief of staff and have you been surprised so he aim as one of president trump's strongest defenders? >> i don't remember john calling the president dishonorable. he was talking about people and i don't like you being treated this way and i won't stay and work with people that would treat you in a dishonorable way. >> who else would he be talking about? >> i don't know. he didn't say the president by name. >> just to dial down on this
point, who else would he be talking about? who else mistreated you but president trump? >> that's fair. i don't know what he had in his head and might have been the attorney general, the deputy attorney general deeply involved in my firing. i don't know. he conveyed a sense and didn't want to work for people who treat me that way. i wasn't surprised to see john serve because he cares deeply about this country. his whole life about serving this country and no i wasn't surprised. >> you named your secret twitteraccoun his saying nothing which is true or beautif makes complete sense in any immediate context of history. we're in the immediate context of history. and probably to a lot of people out there both sun porters of the president and opponents of the president a lot of stuff doesn't make sense. how do you think history's going to look at this? are you confident that you're going to be seen as taking the path of the righteous?
>> i don't know. i hope people will see me even if you disagree with my decisions as a fair minded person acting in good faith, careful, involving other people. i don't know. i hope it doesn't sound odd. it doesn't matter that much. i'm a happy person. i care how my family feels about me. i love to be a great father and grandfather. people make their judgment over time. >> you have been very sensitive to the criticism that some people have made that you have an infatuation with your own sense of integrity. you acknowledge you have a big ego and don't like that criticism. i don't understand the disconnect. i think the ego is about your intense of integrity, don't you think? isn't that the biggest -- >> i see it as the same. i agree with you. but i'm sensitive to it because i've spent my life trying to make sure it's not ego driving my decisions and the decisions made here whether you agree or disagree with them weren't made by me alone. i put together a team of people who argued and fought and didn't
abide my rank or position to make a good decision together so i'm responsible for these decisions but i didn't make these decisions in a vacuum and little defensive about it but these decisions were made by me with a group of people around me that helped me as a guardrail and not falling in love with my own view of things. >> you are an interesting public figure because i don't know anyone so reviled by the hillary clinton partisans and the donald trump partisans. does that mean to you that you did your job right? or does it mean to you that -- or does it mean something else necessarily? >> well it means mostly that the deputy was telling me summer of 20 i'm totally investigationbegan. but it doesn't mean i'm right that everybody hates me. >> do you feel that everybody hates you? >> partisans on both -- both can't be right i'm in the other team's pocket. that can't be possible. the challenge of being the fbi in today's political environment is you're not on anybody's side.
that confuses people which i get and angers people which i also get and only so much to do about it. except try to show transparency. show people your work. fair minded people make a judgment. >> all right. the book is selling quite a bit. congratulations on that. thanks for coming here and taking our questions. >> thank you. >> james comey. you can hear more from james comey next wednesday cnn's anderson cooper holding a town hall with him in front of a live audience at the former director's alma mater, the college of william & mary. that's this coming wednesday, april 25th 8:00 p.m. eastern only on cnn. we have a lot to dissect with the political panel. we'll be right back. today, we're out here with some surprising facts about type 2 diabetes. so you have type 2 diabetes, right? yeah. yes i do. okay so you diet, you exercise you manage your a1c? that's the plan. what about your heart? what do you mean my heart? the truth is, type 2 diabetes can make you twice as likely to die from a cardiovascular event, like a heart attack or stroke.
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welcome back. my panel with me to break down everything from fired fbi director james comey. first let's just do a whip around. jackie start with you. what struck you the most of what he had to say? >> i think one of the biggest things, seemed to walk back the idea that the president possibly colluded with russia. that in an of itself -- you kept on pressing him and pressing him and finally he kind of took a step back and said think? james comey on the james comey rehab t his own image and came out so strongly and looked so partisan in the book and really put the 35,000 men and women of the fbi in a bad spot and criticized by retired leadership of the fbi an trying the polish his own image at this point. >> change the book title to it's possible. i haven't done the word search yet but how many questions of yours specific and i won't suck up -- terrible interview -- terrific.
you went specific questions and he said it's possible. >> right. >> i think he owes the american people more than this. >> it's possible. i did try to point out that could mean it's possible it's not true. >> i was talking for the first time you see a real criticism of jeff sessions and rod rosenstein and saying he noticed the memorandum written saying he should be -- for the clinton interview. didn't hear that before and seemed to be in line with what the president of the united states said in agreement with them to support his own claim about the narrative that the fbi cannot be trusted and only rosenstein and sessions should be instead. >> and earlier this afternoon a few moments before the show we found out that the inspector general at the justice department had referred a criminal complaint to the u.s. attorney in washington, d.c. about his former deputy andrew mccabe lying to investigators, lying to kobe my and i asked him about that and the role to play. take a listen.
>> did you, do you have a general sense of how that investigation is going toened up? >> in some respects i did at the time. but not completely. i suspect that the team that's investigating it now has a general sense. i have no idea what that is. again, it's a general feeling on the current course and speed we will end up in that and that direction. >> where did you think it would end up? with people around president trump found guilty of conspireing, aiding and abetting with russians? >> i can't say. i've left it out of the book for reasons that should be obvious. i can't talk about classified information or sensitive investigative details. >> that was obviously a different answer. talk about that one. he had said about the hillary clinton e-mail information when people on him about how could you be writing this memo xan rating her before you interviewed her and he said if
you don't know where an investigation is going you're incompetent. i said you were there for the trump investigation for ten months and what did you think and it wasn't much of an answer. >> to several of the questio careful possibly in terms of what we can and can't it to paul. probably the most frustrated. >> he did say in the book that every single member of the investigative team agreed that hillary didn't commit any crimes. every single one. i'm upset despite that the job simply to refer charges or not. that's it. he is not the federal bureau of opinions. july calls a press conference and attacks my friend. maybe super careless is better than reckless. that is not his job and still angry about it. then she survives that barely and 11 days before the election he sends the electorate -- if he believes the trump presidency is a forest fire he is the guy that poured the gasoline and lit the match and live with this.
>> this is about protecting the fbi. he says once in the book that this is about making sure hillary wasn't an illegitimate president and throughout the back talking about any of this it is about protecting the fbi and the fbi's reputation. >> what has he done instead? democrats and republicans now distrust the fbi because he -- >> well they don't distrust the fbi. they distrust him particularly and an issue of the great irony saying i want to take the heat to -- loretta lynch, wanted a press conference saying if she were to hold a press conference or issue an opinion of the tarmac of bill clinton it will delegitimize. allowing clinton for a press conference about this issue, delegitimacy issue again. i'm not sure why he assumes that role if nothing other than integrity. >> for a guy saying he's not political, he is the most political guy in this whole
campaign. >> terrible at it. >> not good add it. i don't think he's a bad guy. he started out. he is a career public servant. 35,000 folks he led, great organization. and, you know under his watch, talk about a book on leadership, two of the folks he super vidsed mccabe prosecuted for not telling the truth and peter shtok was dismissed. i don't think he out with bad intent. >> let's talk about mccabe. i think we have the right bite cued up which is when i asked him about the fact that he might be called to be a witness against andrew mccabe, the former deputy director of the fbi. >> given that the ig's report reflects interactions that mccabe had with me and other senior executives i could well be a witness. >> how do you feel about your former deputy according to the inspector general lying, lying to you, lying to investigators for a leak that the inspector general said was only motivated to preserve his own reputation and nothing to do with the fbi
or the public's right to know? >> conflicted. i like him very much as a person and sometimes even good people do things they shouldn't do. >> we got a statement from the andrew mccabe attorney and advised of the referral to the u.s. attorney's office in the past few weeks and we believe the referral unjustified. the standard is very low. we've met with staff members and confident that unless there's inappropriate pressure of the administration they'll decline to prosecute. there you see the attorney michael bromwich setting the stage if there's a prosecution it's because of president trump and president trump's people. >> and what is the news story that andrew mccabe facilitated? >> bad for hillary clinton. >> we leave that out of the discussion. andrew mccabe part of -- >> i did. >> thank you. andy mccabe part allegedly of planting a story -- >>ing ar.
yohave the direc trking about a leak or maybe didn't -- >> he referred that to the division. >> his own leak to "the wall street journal" and leaked through a surrogate. right? >> his notes. right? >> to spur the special counsel on. incredibly important just as mccabe is here leaking and save his own soul and his own skin and professional reputation. i think the same is true here with -- >> it's a little bit different. he was a private citizen. giving the notes -- just saying it is different than mccabe -- >> defend the reputation. >> mccabe was authorized in his right to be able to disclose certain information. what is doing him in for the ig report is that he has misled people about the role and played dumb about whether or not -- lack of candor. of course the transparency -- >> fbi -- >> lying. legally lying and lack of candor and transparency is the common theme and jake i thought to myself you have described
everyone's criticism of you. maybe you're a good person but acting out of self interest not on the integrity of the fbi we have a problem with it. >> he would say -- nobody's here going to defend comey. i'll try. he would say he didn't lie and hasn't told any lies. that's what he would say, paul. >> i'm not sure he has told lies. i think he is not telling the truth of what he did and why he did about hillary and that letter that swung the election to mr. trump. here's the thing. he does strike me as a good person and loves the country and really an institutionalist and something we need in this country when the institutions are under attack. i think what he lost sight of is himself and the institution. that institution has rules. he famously had the letter to dr. king where the fbi was trying to force dr. king to commit suicide. such an abuse of power. what you do in the tough cases is you simply follow the rules and the rules were you shut up. you investigate without fear or favor and make a referral and shut up.
you don't talk about trump or hillary. that's what he got wrong. if i talk more i protect the institution. >> that's why he leaked again. heard him talk about i don't have faith that rod rosenstein would do the right thing in this case and the department of justice. he made a political judgment just like about lo realretta lynch. >> he didn't say it outright in the book and felt burned by rosenstein. he had just had a meeting with him and had talked about leadership or something and then fired the next day on the television. i feel that also -- >> provided the original memo with the fake reasons saying because he was too mean to hillary why he was fired. >> right. fake in terms of whether or not trump believed the reason. fake for rosenstein is justified it. we use the term leak. he didn't give classified
information over to the columbia law professor. he did give the information in a way that's -- >> for the seven memos jake said -- >> not given those. i draw the distinction to suggest that the nuance is very clear what he thinks mccabe did wrong versus himself and interesting, jake in your interview you talk about the idea of being a witness against mccabe going to that. he could be a witness if it comes to that in an obstruction case against the president of the united states and it didn't silence him and have that affect on muzzling him and i find it ironic in this case and perhaps mueller gotten everything he'd like to on james comey and the book vetted prepublication and perhaps not a witness in that particular case. >> the other thing of today's headlines, michael cohen, the president's lawyer under criminal investigation. not to say he is found guilty. the u.s. attorney's office for southern district of new york and asked him if cohen was vulnerable in the russia
investigation since he is mentioned in the steele dossier. >> cohen's name is in the steele dossier. the fbi is trying to verify whether or not parts of the -- the entire dossier is true or not. is he vulnerable in the russia investigation, michael cohen? >> that's not something i can answer. >> so again, not something he could answer. something he could have ruled f he wantedlaura's point of a witness, if this is james comey's case he would never want a witness writing a book and giving dozens of interviews an i have seen some of his friends say, well and they have a good point, he is smart, locked down the testimony but he is wriggling and moved a bit. he told george stephanopoulos it was possible that the president xropsed by the rubans and told you unlikely. congress under oath the election played no role polls and election played no role 11 days out wrote the letter about the e-mails. then he said in interviews well yeah i guess i did presume -- >> he said looking back on it
is it -- his construct again, is it possible? is it possible that it played a role? yes. but i don't know. he doesn't say it did. he says he acknowledges that maybe it did. >> i mean i think the director is a very bright guy. right? takes copious notes. pays attention to every sbi intraka sy. i'm not buying it. >> not at all? >> no. >> hard to project back to -- >> paul and i were there. we can remember. >> there was my en it was very -- considered unlikely that donald trump would win and the republican national committee thought it was unlikely that donald trump would win and the trump campaign thought -- not you. there were people -- not you and other people in the campaign other people in the trump campaign senior levels who thought we're not going to win tonight. >> that's why you follow the rules irrespective of who's going to win.
you get in a position you put him in. an investigation of hillary which cleared her and talking about that which harmed her desperately. an investigation of trump has not cleared him yet and you didn't talk about that. that is unfair and unjust. >> he did talk about it five months later and that's when we come back. everyone stick around. what white house officials say is really bothering president trump right now. stay with us. was able to take care of my family while i was overseas serving. it was my very first car accident. we were hit from behind. i called usaa and the first thing they asked was 'are you ok?' they always thank you for your service which is nice because as a spouse you serve too. we're the hayles and we're usaa members for life. see how much you could save with usaa by bundling your auto and home insurance. get a quote today.
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president trump apparently believes that former fbi director james comey's book had little impact on him and his reputation but he is consumed by legal issues involves his personal attorney michael cohen according to a white house official. jeff zeleny is traveling with the president and joins me live from florida. jeff, the president and the allies preparing for the comey media blitz. >> reporter: jake they really have. for the last week they have been preparing to discredit and simply raise questions about the objectivity of the former fbi director. a week after the first excerpts
were released the white house believes that they have largely weathered this storm. i was talking to several republicans who have spoke within the president this week here and one said this jake. so far he's weathered comey. it's cohen that's consuming him. michael cohen, his personal lawyer here. so that's what the white house is use questions about james comey, as well. they believe that's largely a success. they believe that you know several questions have been raised about this. jake first and foremost they believe most all of this about james comey not donald trump. the white house sees that as a win. jake? >> all right. jeff zeleny traveling with the president in florida. thank you. i'm back with the panel. do you think the president, his reputation isn't being damaged at all by the james comey? >> i wonder if it's already baked in. the things james comey is talking about, he's a litmus test. if you think james comey is the
greatest thing ever, you probably don't really like the president f. you're david urban and you really like the president you're going to think james comey is a liar and out for himself. i think it's hard to say it's moved needle on the president, just the book itself. >> and the book is worth reading and i think interesting. there isn't anything really new in terms of factual points about his relationship with president trump about things that interaexs of president trump so jackie might be right. >> a political rorschach tests. he's 85% amongst republican based voters. this isn't moving the needle with them whatsoever. a quick point back to the interview you did there and pressed him on the notion about general kelly calling the president a liar. you said -- >> i thought -- >> dishonorable. >> suggested. >> euphemism. you pushed him on it. he suddenly couldn't recall
that -- who he was talking about. might not have been the president. might have been a general kelly or somebody else or the attorney general. a lot of haziness about a very specific you know point. >> to be fair to him kelly said something like i don't like dishonorable people. maybe he wasn't. >> in the chain of command -- >> that's what i said. who else? >> look at the wire diagram, he reports to the president. >>his book and the book tourt all? or is it just reinforcing previous impressions? >> jackie is right. if it were hurting the president democrats would be running on it. i talk to scores of democrats running for congress, pro bono. i talk to them. >> so kind of you, paul. >> none of them are going to run on mueller impeachment, stormy daniels. they run on the tax bill which they think is unfair to the middle class and social security. they will win on that. that's the weather vain that
tells us. i think the democrats are right to run on those economic issues and not this stuff. >> what about the legal matter here? it's michael cohen or the russia probe, anything that comey's saying to contribute to that aspect of the case against donald trump as it were? >> yeah. so remember he is somebody who's key in the obstruction charge if there were to be an obstruction charge and in many ways his story begins when his tenure at the fbi ends. he is in a very unique position. is he a flawed messenger? absolutely. i wish i had the personal witness without an ax to grind and never said anything poor. you take your witnesses as you can find them. for him, the vendetta doesn't undermine the credibility. he has somebody in the position, one of the only people in the world to talk to the president asa salacious aspects of the dossier, receive information from the president and in that
particular scope in that particular unique place his credibility credibility intact. flawed petty at times? sure. informants are good witnesses, as well. even if they're compromised. >> he doesn't have an animous. >> doesn't even dislike him. >> ill not want to be comey's enemy. >> another thing that indicated how skilled an operator he is i don't mean necessarily as a criticism, was he's called for voters to go to the booths and vote against the values that donald trump represents. so i thought it was an obvious question you think that he is morally unfit. you think that people should vote against what he represents. do you think the nation is better off if hillary clinton is president. take a listen. >> do you think the nation would be better off if hillary clinton had won? >> i can't answer that. that's something that -- that hype tet thet call's too hard to go back in time to --
>> it's hard to imagine you don't think the nation would be better off if hillary clinton had won. >> i don't think about it in those terms, though jake. we have the current president who was in my view legitimately elected. is he adhering to ours clearly first thing to do is not get numb to it. >> i respect that answer. i do not believe that annals. >> to me it's hedging and doesn't want to be a partisan and continue in the theme. trying to have credibility rehabilitation on this particular book tour but looking at the answer and hear about morally unfit and the stephanopoulos interview and he talks about the idea of this being somebody who should not be in the position. it's hard to hear him say that answer today again and have any credibility assigned to it. it leads me to believe there's an ulterior motive and maybe self interested. >> jackie mentioning earlier. >> well no so a couple of things. i don't think james comey is a partisan. i think he is not thrilled with
this president and he said many times -- >> i agree with that. >> but another thing he said was that -- you asked about president trump. he said he's a counter point. >> it's not about donald trump. >> yes, it is. donald trump is a theme throughout the book. whether or not he says the name he is -- if he is a counter point, he is a point counter point, point counter point throughout the book for an example of leadership that doesn't work. maybe james comey would have written a book without president trump some point but i don't think it would be this book. >> it's about his reputation and doesn't want to be out there as a member of the resist texans. >> i think he started out in one place and then after the interviews and senior fbi, former senior fbi officials book some of the wayhe's talkin about certain trying commercial i thought he had walked back his statement that it was possible the president had been compromised by russia by adding to you unlikely or
possible. he said the same thing to abc. in that sense -- >> i have to go back aook. about the prostitutes and the urine. but i don't know. i'm not -- >> again i'm too polite to mention that on air, as well. >> it's a medical term. >> you're right. golden shower. >> let's put the urine aside, what do you think about him not saying yes i think the nation would be better off? >> he think it is president is a forest fire. better off without a forest fire? he couldn't clear that low bar. >> the other things grow after the forest fire is the metaphor he uses. >> what now? >> jackie can -- i can just agree. >> also a development of i want your perspective on this. we have 80 seconds. which is the question about whether or not michael cohen will flip. former attorney for president trump said that he should be worried, concerns of michael cohen testifying against
president trump. what do you think? >> watch the twitter feed. seems like he is worried. >> you are not? >> loyal guy. black box. we'll find out when's in there. >> the presumption from mr. trump's lawyer is that cohen has something. that the president's guilty. everybody's presumption is he'll flip with something about trump's guilt. and i think it's probably a good presumption. >> why would he flip exposing to state crimes? only federal. no incentive. we have to wait and see. >> thank you. i turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now, breaking news. putin's back channel a lawyer from robert mueller's team defends the special counsel's investigation in court. suggesting indicted former trump indictment chairman paul manafort could have been a potential back channel to russia. has mueller overstepped the mandate? handing over the memos in a rare move the justice department