tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN April 19, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
possible. >> isn't that construct unfair to president trump in a way because the question was, if president trump was compromised by the russians. i don't think it's likely but it's possible. it's possible there's life on other planets. we don't know. for somebody like you with your reputation, saying it's possible, it's also possible it's not true. isn't that another way to look at the question? >> true. but i'm not looking at the stars saying there's green men out there. i say it's possible because the president is constantly bringing it up with me to deny it. in my experience as on investigator, it's a striking thing when someone brings up something to deny that you didn't ask about. and second, i've always been struck in my encounters with him that he wouldn't criticize vladimir putin even in private, which struck me as odd. those aren't conclusive facts. but the reason i'm saying it's possible is, there are things that lead my common sense to
believe it's possible. >> isn't that kind of cute? you're not saying that you have evidence of it. you're saying it's possible. do you have evidence that president trump has been compromised by the russians? have you seen evidence of it? >> no. i'm trying to be transparent. here's my reasoning. here's an honest answer has to be it's possible. i'm not saying it's likely. i've said all along and i'm repeating it here today, it's unlikely in my view. but it's possible. >> let's talk about the investigation and what you can talk about it. in 2017, when you met with president trump and you did the oral presentation of what's in the two-page memo summarizing the steele dossier, we know from the book that you talked about unverified ail vallegations invg prostitutes. did you brief him on other things in the dossier? claims that associates were potentially working with the russians? or was it only about the prostitutes? >> it was only about the
salacious part of it? >> mi why? >> that was the part that the leaders of the intelligence community agreed he needed to be told about because we knew it and thought it was going to become public. if it was true, it would be important to let him know this as part of a defensive briefing. >> by the time you left, how much of the dossier were you able to prove to be correct, verify, or debunk? >> the work was still under way. i wouldn't be able to say anyway. the work was under way when i was fired. >> is it fair to say that some of it you verified as true and some was false? >> a core part of it was consistent with lots of other intelligence. a core part of it being that the russians are engaged in an orchestrated campaign to influence the american election. >> michael cohen, i want to ask you about him. he's now under criminal investigation by the u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york. cnn is reporting that one of the former lawyers is warning the president that michael cohen
could flip. we're hearing and lots of people have 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 about robert mueller? >> i'm going to resist putting on the legal analyst hats. you have awesome legal analysts at cnn. i'm not one of them. >> we know cohen's name is in the steele dossier. the fbi is trying to verify the entire dossier is true or not. is he vulnerable in the investigation? michael cohen? >> i can't answer that. >> ultimately, you accepted president trump's dinner invitation. you promised honest loyalty. you agreed that michael flynn was a good man. you write that your experience in high school gave you a life
long hatred for bullies. do you think president trump is a bully and do you hate him? >> there's things that he does that are inappropriate and some ways like a bully-like behavior. i don't hate donald trump. i don't dislike donald trump. >> you're a person who briefed him about the salacious allegation involving prostitutes. is it not possible that president trump, when he asked for your loyalty, had in his mind, the idea that here's an fbi director, the only fbi director i'm familiar with is j. edgar hoover. isn't it possible that he thought he was asking for your loyalty because he was worried that you were going to drop all this incriminating information that may or may not have been true? >> it's possible. >> it's possible. >> i'm only saying that because you said that. >> i want to get clarity on something else you said. you said that president trump, quote, treats women like meat. is that from personal experience
you saw or heard about? or is that from things he said? >> just from the media, not personal experience. >> i want to ask if you could put on your legal analyst hat. >> which i'm refusing to put on. >> i know you've been asked about the obstruct of justice charge. and you said it's possible there's an obstruction of justice case to be made, specifically firing you, after the meeting when he asked you to drop the flynn matter. look at the conspiracy matter, aiding and abetting, when i know collusion is not an actual criminal charge. if you look at what there is there, we know the russians hacked the democrats. we know at least two people in the trump world, papadopoulos and trump jr. were approached and told about dirt on electrhi clinton. we know there's a desire for the information. we know two people reached out to julian assange. we know that they published
these e-mails and that president trump made a lot of hay out of those e-mails. first of all, 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, all in the public domain, is that enough for a conspiracy charge against anybody? >> it's really not something i can answer. i would say this, if you're the special prosecutor, you would want to understand those facts and any around them to try to make that analysis. >> is there a case there? >> you want me to say it's possible again. it's possible. but i don't know. >> you write in the book about your controversial decision to notify congress that you were reopening the clinton investigation just before the election. you've been asked a lot about this. i'm not going to ask the same questions that other people have. you did say you were thinking at the time, if i hide this from the american people, she'll be illegitimate the moment she's elected. isn't that happen, except to
donald trump? in other words, you didn't disclose the russia investigation to the american people. and now, there's a lot of people who think he's illegitimate. and it's something that he thinks there's a cloud over his presiden presidency. didn't you avoid doing one thing to hillary clinton you did it to trump? >> i don't think so. i think of the two investigations and everybody working on it in the department of justice and the fbi did, as quite different. early stage, counterintelligence investigation of americans, not donald trump, a small group trying to figure out is there a correction between those people and the russian effort. we had a discussion whether to publicize that. we weren't investigating donald trump. we had just started. there wasn't serious consideration given to it because it wouldn't be remotely appropriate under our policies. >> you called it very early stages in october 2016. but you disclosed it in march 2017. that's only five months later. was there really such a
difference in terms of disclosing it? >> only in a general way. five months later, we informed congress that there was an investigation but didn't say anything more about that. and the reason for that is, the acting attorney general decided there was such pressure from congress, senator grassley was holding up the confirmation of the deputy attorney general, unless he got more information that there were important reasons for the department of justice to say something in general about it five months later. >> you admit in your book you made two mistakes in the clinton administration, one of them was claireless to describe secretary clinton's handling of information. what phrase should you have used? >> i don't know. i don't have a better way that it was something above sl sloppiness. we were trying to find a way to honestly describe something that was above just ordinary carelessness, leaving a document on a counter at a restaurant or something by accident. and criminal misconduct. it was between those two. >> you still don't have a phrase
that would have been -- >> i still don't. you might expect, i've suppressed the effort to figure it out since then. >> after you were fired, president trump tweeted there might be tapes of your private conversation. you asked your friend to leak some information about your interactions with the president. not classified information. but you testified that you did this to try to force the creation of a special counsel. why? why would a special counsel be needed? why would the department of justice and fbi not be able to continue the job? >> i thought the department, as currently supervised, would not wi be aggressive to serve the tapes. >> jeff sessions was too week. >> it was a new attorney general. manager had to be done. there was a lot of discussions about appointing a special prosecutor. something has to do to appoint
someone to have the gumption to get the tapes. >> why don't you see that as payback? >> i was a private citizen, that saw something i could do. and i did it and acknowledged it 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 the conversations with the president. >> the average citizen doesn't think i'm going to leak this to force the creation of a special counsel. it was an extraordinary gambit. >> i don't take any joy in it, i don't accept the congratulations. but the average private citizen didn't have a one-on-one conversation with the president of the united states where he asked him to drop a criminal investigation and tweet that he hoped there weren't tapes. i was in a position to do
something that i knew would be useful and important. and reasonable people can disagree about it. i still think it was the right thing to do. >> i asked you about andrew mccabe. there's been a lot in the news about text messages they sent back and fourrth in which they disparaged a lot of people, including president trump. put yourself in donald trump's shoes for one second. you're donald trump and you feel this is unfair, this investigation. you found out that beater strzok, the lead fbi agent, is texting about you and he's the one that helped conduct the hillary clinton interview. and he called you an idiot, wouldn't you think this whole thing was unfair and politicized? >> i get why he would be concerned about that. that's the reason why bob mueller removed him from that investigation. it's poor judgment and it shouldn't happen. i get the concern about it. >> your book is about leadership, throughout.
does it say anything about your leadership that strzok, who was a very high-level fbi agent, was doing this? did you set in any way a tone where that kind of glib insult of a major political candidate would be no not that big a deal? >> no. but it says something about my leadership. i tried to model a certain way of acting that did not include that kind of behavior. should i have given them all a speech? but these are grown-ups. they are senior people in the counterintelligence visiodivisi. but i am responsible for their actions and poor judgment. >> speaking of leadership, after you were fired you said you got a phone call from 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 job as white house chief of staff? and have you been surprised to see him as the president's strongest defender. >> i don't like people be treated this way. and i won't stay with people who would treat you in a dishonorable way. 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? >> that's fair. i don't know what he had in his head. he might have meant the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, who were involved in any firing. he didn't want to continue to work with people who continue to treat me in that way. i wasn't surprised to see john go serve because he cares about this country. his whole life has been about serving this country. i wasn't surprised. >> you named your secret twitter account, after a hero of yours,
a philosopher. you began your book with a quote of his. nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history. right now, we're in the immediate context of history. and probably to a lot of people out there, both supporters of the president and opponents of the president, a lot of stuff doesn't make sense. how do you think history is 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 as a fair-minded person, acting in good faith, being careful, involving other people. but i don't know. i hope this doesn't sound odd, it doesn't matter that much. i'm a happy person. i care how my family feels about me. i would love to be a great father and grandfather. but people make their own judgment overtime. >> 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 that you have a big ego. but you don't like that specific criticism. i don't understand the disconnect because i think the ego is about your spence of integrity, don't you think? >> i see it as the same. i agree with you. but i'm a little sensitive to it because i spent my whole life trying to make sure that it's not ego driving my decisions. and the decisions we made here weren't made by me alone. i put together a team that argued and fought and debated to make a good decision together. i'm responsible for the decisions but i didn't make them in a vacuum. that's why i'm a little defensive about it. these decisions were made by me and a guardrail. >> you're 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 -- does it mean something else? >> it means that my deputy was right in the summer of 2015, that i'm totally screwed as this investigation began. i don't think it means i'm right that everybody hates me. >> do you think everybody hates me? >> the partisans. they both can't be right that 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 it angers people, which i also get. there's only so much you can do about it except trying to show transparency. show people your work. that's what i fried to do in this book. >> the book is selling quite a bit. congratulations on that. thanks for coming and taking our questions. >> thanks for having me, jake.
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from further irreversible damage in many adults. humira works by targeting and helping to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to ra symptoms. humira has been clinically studied for over 20 years. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have flu-like symptoms or sores. don't start humira if you have an infection. ready for a new chapter? talk to your rheumatologist about humira. this is humira at work. the breaking news tonight, we just received the james comey memos that were handed over to
the justice department. i want to go to laura jarrett. these just came out. what stands out to you so far? >> anderson, it's remarkable how detailed they are. they read like narratives out of his book. in many of the instances, they're very consistent with what james comey has told congress and what he said on his book tour. i want to read from one part of the memo describing an oval office meeting with president trump, the one has garnered the most attention, since it involves former national security adviser michael flynn. in this, he says, president trump returned to the topic of mike flynn. saying that flynn is a good guy and has been through a lot. he misled the department but didn't do anything wrong in the call. trump said, i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go. to letting flynn go. he's a good guy. i replied, comey replied, by
saying, agree. he's a good dpi. but said no more. this goes on and on, anderson. he discusses a variety of topics, including attorney general holder and lynch, including jeff sessions, the current attorney general. it is quite detailed. >> laura jarrett, we're going to check in with you throughout this hour. there's some parts that are redacted. we're going to bring in the panel. i know you're going over them, as well. they are detailed. it's interesting in the discussion that james comey has in his notes, about the private dinner he had with the president, he talks about the difficulty in doing this in a linear fashion because the conversation was all over the place. >> it was all over the place. the president was talking about how he had won the election, the inauguration. they were talking aboutcomey's future.
how james comey had been different during the election. he wanted h eed him to stay. he asked for loyalty. there's a few other things that struck me. one in here was that when this notion of the golden showers and everything. it was in the so-called dossier was raised, you know, and trump, of course, said that's not true. it's never happened. >> according to comey as soon as he mentioned that the russians, you know, were saying -- something about prostitutes the president-elect at that point said there were no prostitutes. >> nothing. at what point a comment he made where putin -- to the extent that he said that putin had told him that they have the best hookers in russia. which i was under the impression that the president had not had
conversations with vladimir putin or at least he ended up saying that during the campaign. another thing that struck me was that he was critical of flynn at one point. the man he asked comey to save or to stop the investigation, one point he said he didn't really trust him because flynn hadn't told him he had a conversation with a foreign leader which was blacked out. and that didn't tell him for six days and trump thought it was rude and that he should have returned that call and that he said, you know, i have, you know, i have a lack of confidence. and also, that reince priebus asked, the former chief of staff, whether there was an fisa order on mike flynn. clearly he was on the radar and had to be concerned about. >> david irvin, as a supporter of the president, what stands out to you? just gotten them. how important do you think these are? >> i think it's very important to see contemporaneously of what the fbi director at the time
thought. look. i think the most telling part about all these is what was read earlier that says when the president says i hope you can let this go. i agree he's a good guy and said no more. but said no more. at that point, james comey should have looked at the president and said, mr. president, i'm the director of the fbi. we can't have that conversation. i respect general flynn, as well. i can't look the other way on this thing and understand that. i bet the president would have said i'm not asking you to do anything untoward but he's had a long career and over and done. but comey as we heard and his testimony before the senate asked by senator feinstein why didn't he say something, i guess i didn't have the courage at the time. that's amazing to me. >> james? >> andrew, what i'm struck by, let's break it down. this is the first time we're seeing these documents, but these are all unfamiliar to me. so there's two types of documents here. one is a fbi e-mail so the top copy we have here with a name to
who it's sent to and then the first one the director's reaching out to and as i'm looking at the to line here deputy director, his chief of staff and his senior counsel. those are the three people there and he's asking about the classifications. the way i look at these, two classifications. no foreign is no foreign nationals, not a u.s. citizen, you can't take a look and then confidential. i'm interested in how he chose the ways to communicate the sensitive information. one is an e-mail appropriate on the red side or the fbi we would call it classified side. and the other is a memo. now, the memo is an outdated archaic form of communication for the fbi. i'm surprised that he didn't draft an electronic communication or an ec but chose them in memo or e-mail. the last thing i'll say on this, this is what i'm struck by, with these redactions, as i'm looking through it and piece it together and distill what it means, the
director gave these documents or four of them, now, we thought there were seven, now he spoke to jake tapper today he said i don't know it could be five or ten. but these are classified information from what i'm reading on here. if they're the documents, four of them leaked as we heard to the columbia law professor and gave them to "the new york times." that's an issue. i'm struck by that. >> do you know -- do we know -- i don't know the answer for that. were those memos leaked in their entirety? was it a summation? do we know? >> i don't know. i know he said that the columbia law professor read them to "the new york times" and if he gave them to the professor the professor's not cleared for that. >> he told you why. because he thought that if there were tapes you needed to have a special counsel. >> i understand that. i understand from a journalism perspective that's a good thing. i'm looking at this from a fbi perspective. >> a memo he says to the president he doesn't leak and do anything fishy and not leaking as fbi director in this
particular case. when he gave it to his friend he was out of the fbi by then. >> let me break it down. for the department of justice and a fbi agent or a fbi director, here's how we define an employee. those who hold or who have held a position of trust within the agency. james comey's still a fbi employee. >> not from a first amendment standpoint. >> that's a completely different argument. >> but that's exactly the legal argument. you're calling him a leaker which is a term of art which means disclosing information which is classified. >> or sensitive. >> which apparently he did not. we understand his motives. we can agree or disagree with his motives. and then we have the contemporary you memoranda. as i look at the comey memo that talks about let flynn go, it doesn't create for me a compelling case for obstruction
of justice. there's a lot of room for people to argue what it was that was at the heart of what the president was asking. so if this is the case upon which you try to bring an obstruction of justice case, i think, well, maybe you have the look for some additional evidence. >> paul? >> i'm struck how often in comey's telling of it the president comes back to russia and mike flynn. he's talking to the chief investigative officer of the united states. if you were to engage from the campaign thought he would talk about, say, mexican gangs, a sort of thing on the campaign. opioid abuse. he just seems obsessed with russia and with saving mike flynn's hyde and politically problematic. >> it is interesting. one of the things that james comey talked about with jake tapper saying that he thought it was odd as an investigator just in his experience as an investigator that somebody would constantly come back to the
subject and say, you know, there was nothing there there. he thought that was suspicious. the president doing this. >> yeah. i totally agree. with that on james comey. looking at this, to me, it doesn't -- i'm not sure why the house republicans would even want this out. it doesn't paint a pretty picture of donald trump at all. it certainly -- i mean, he -- like gloria was saying. he has no trust in flynn. questioning flynn. and it just seems quite bizarre. the white house chief of staff and doesn't understand how long the fbi director serves. it shows that you are dealing with people who don't -- who he doesn't have the best people working for him and don't understand how any of this works. what it means to be president of the united states. what you are supposed to do and not do and to me there is some obstruction of justice here he was trying to do that in some way, some form. probably need more but knowing donald trump you just don't have the best thoughts of him. you don't think he is going in the right direction. you think he's going in the wrong direction.
>> are you surprised they leaked right after the justice department gave them to congress? >> well -- no. >> i knew answer to this question. >> mass forms of communication, telegraph, telephone, television and tell a member of congress. >> took one hour. >> with karine, i leave the legalities to fbi and lawyers. i don't think it helps the president at all. seems like a guy obsessed about the russians. why? because he is obsessed about the russians. >> a source told cnn a special member of mueller's office consulted and they didn't object. they are redacted and no classified information is released. >> they have probably already taken this testimony themselves and they have it in a jar ready to go if they need it. so this is not going to be additional to that. therefore, doesn't really impact the outcome of what mueller is doing.
if comey hadn't yet testified before mueller and these were being revealed for the first time it could be adverse to the investigation, could be impactful on the investigation and this point in time i think mueller knows all that mueller needs to know and then this is just a story for the public consumption. >> i think it tells you an awful lot about the president's state of mind given the russia investigation because he kept talking to comey about, quote, lifting the cloud and we've heard this before in our reporting that the president has said when i talked the foreign leaders they don't take me seriously because they know i under investigation. he said that, you know, he said that to comey. and he said that he wanted essentially, you know, if we didn't find the good housekeeping seal of approval and we have to do the work and then returned to the problems of causing him.
and then went on a great length about how it affected his presidency. so we know that he was constantly thinking about this and also by the way mentioned putting leakers in jail. >> so in fairness to the president or president-elect, who wouldn't be thinking that constantly? if you had done nothing wrong, or the candidate did nothing wrong, to then be under this cloud has got to be, you know, extraordinarily upsetting. >> director comey earlier jake asked him about that, unfair? he specifically had this press conference to lift the cloud for secretary clinton and -- i understand, paul. >> cost her the election. so concerned about her well-being. >> to your point, right, anderson he didn't lift it on the president and still remains. >> one thing here that's interesting again to break this down for the viewers, i'm looking at this, fbi agents and fbi directors prepare documents and the director didn't put it on there.
it's a memo. driving my government vehicle to work and i have a car accident, i put it on a memo. sending something to somebody i'm not expecting to be used as discovery in a case, i put in it an e-mail. that's what's so curious about this that he decided to record on a memo. can they be used in court? absolutely. but for a fbi agent or a director, if you are thinking that something here is serious enough or could possibly be important enough that you're going to have to testify to it, why was it put -- >> why do you think? >> i don't know. i mean, as i'm reading through this and seeing him do it, he puts far more detail than you would put in an fd-302. if i'm an agent, i want to stick to just the facts and just the evidence down. he put a lot of detail. michael, do you agree? >> he's reflecting his state of mind about meetings that he found to be so out of the
ordinary that it required this dear diary styled entry. now, whether you think the form was right or wrong is a process point which i don't think matters as much as the content of the communications. and what is interesting and we'll have the look at these more carefully, but in a quick review of this, as i read this, i don't see anything in here that if i'm the president of the united states i can't sit down with mueller and talk about fearing that the consequence of that will be that i'm going to be charged with obstruction of justice so it may well be that this is helpful to -- three new lawyers, jane and marty raskin and giuliani i don't know is really a lawyer than a consultant. will have to take a hard look at this and say does it inform us about proceeding with mueller around these obstruction of justice issues? >> i spoke with a source in the white house today saying this
will help us. it's going to help the president because we don't see anything in here that to your point -- >> speaks directly to obstruction. >> speaks directly to obstruction. worried about andrew mccabe the entire time and was thinking -- >> mike flynn. >> and about mike flynn who he thought was -- he said there's something wrong with the guy. >> as a historical document, can you imagine if j. edgar hoover made memos like this? god knows what would have been -- >> if this is the case of obstruction, i agree saying a good guy and said no more. there's pages and pages of reflections. >> my guess is mueller has more than these couple of pages. >> but why? no, no, no. >> he also has flynn, the guy that the president is so obsessed about in these memos, flipped, rolled. right?
>> my simple point is if this is what this is built upon, there's pages an pages and a brief sentence about that interaction. not more detail. very short. >> we have to take a quick break and talk more about the memos and james clapper joins us with his reaction ahead. ♪ directv now gives you more for your thing. your letting go thing. your sorry not sorry thing. your out with the old in with the new, onto bigger and better thing. get the live tv you love. no bulky hardware. no satellite. no annual contract. try directv now for $10/mo for 3 months. more for your thing. that's our thing. visit directvnow dot com
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intelligence james clapper. do you agree that these may help the president? >> i don't think if this is everything that they're going to hurt the president. let me put it that way. i think that there's not a lot of surprises in here because comey has talked about it. written a book about it. it's been reported. the memos were leaked to "the new york times" and were reported. so there is a -- you know, there's a question of obstruction. i'm not a lawyer. you are. you're the one who says that this, you know, doesn't make the case. what it does make the case about is that this is a white house, a president when's obsessed with this cloud as you point out, rightly so, hanging over his head. they didn't really like flynn very much. the president didn't like flynn very much but then he asked comey to please figure out what
he could do to kind of get rid of the investigation which doesn't make that much sense to me. >> let's bring in james clapper. i understand you've had a chance to briefly review these memos. just came out. i'm wondering what is your take on what you have seen and heard from james comey so far. >> well, first, the memos are more detailed rendition of what has already come out. they very much comport with what has been said before. i said before that i was -- had every confidence that when jim comey recorded his conversations with the president that they would be very meticulous and very detailed and that appears to be the case here. i have to say i haven't read through all of them but i was beginning to read them as i was coming in here. so, it doesn't -- i don't think any big surprises here. just more detail except perhaps apparently the president wasn't
such a big fan of mike flynn after all which that was at least for me at least one surprise. >> a thing that jim comey has said that is that in that briefing of which you were present in which it was decided that jim comey would present to the president the information that was in the so-called dossier, that the reaction according to comey from the president's team afterwards was essentially trying to figure out how to, i don't know, spin is the right word or just to deal with this not from a national security standpoint or a standpoint of what to do about russia and, you know, their interference in the election, but what message would benefit them the most. is that your recollection? >> yes, it is. what happened was that we had originally jim and i were going to -- we had already preagreed. i say we, john brennan, director of nsa and jim and myself to go through the formal briefing an i
would lead the discussion and then would hand off to each of the other participants in our group to embellish or expand or amplify the particular talking points i went through and the reason we wanted to do it this way we would be talking to a lot of other people besides the president-elect. we had a battery of briefings to do to the congress the following week. and we'd also agreed at one point to ask jim -- to neck down to brief the president and jim thought it would be better to do it alone just for the sake of discretion. and i completely agreed with that. and so we were at the -- as we were winding up the normal
briefing, you know, they started drafting reince priebus did, a press release to go out about this session and wanted to say that we said that there was no impact on the election by virtue of the russian interference which we didn't say, we didn't examine that. all we had said was we saw no evidence of meddling with voter tallies. wasn't to say there wasn't voter tallies and made no pronouncement on the impact of the russian interference on the election but that's the spin, the angle that they wanted to take even before we left the room which was, you know, i thought awkward and inappropriate. so at a pause in the conversation jim spoke to the president-elect and said, you know, sir, we have one other matter we'd like to discuss with you and like to do it on a one on one basis. mr. priebus asked the president-elect, do you want anybody with you? he said, no.
everybody else left the room. for me it was a relief to leave and then jim and briefed the president on the dossier. >> yeah. >> a point jim made i would reiterate in his interview with jake earlier today was the whole point of informing the president-elect about the dossier was simply out of a duty to warn if you will. we thought it important that he know that this thing was out there. it was our understanding was fairly widely available in the media at least. at least two members of congress had it. and we felt that duty bound at least to warn him that it was there, in light of the salacious allegations made in it. >> it certainly seemed like people on the president's team or the president-elect felt perhaps that interpret it in a different way or some people as perhaps this was, you know, jim comey signaling they had this information hanging over the
president-elect. >> well, yeah. we anticipated that. that was a concern we had that -- and especially and the bureau itself had that concern that this would be shades of j. edgar hoover and all that. and we agonized over that. i've often wondered, you know, if we hadn't told him about it an it came out and then he learned he, the president-elect, now president trump, found out that the intelligence community knew this and didn't tell him about it, hell to pay, then, too. >> difficult situation. director clapper, thank you for being with us. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> more ahead with the panel in a moment. ♪ this is a story about mail and packages. and it's also a story about people.
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he writes the president, quote, brought up the golden showers things then writes this. the president said the hookers thing is nonsense, that putin told him, quote, we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world. back now with the panel. gloria, you brought this up as being odd just because as far as we know the president never actually did talk to vladimir putin. >> well, you know, during the campaign, he said he didn't. we know that he got a congratulatory call from putin, et cetera, but the president saying this in february is kind of, it's just kind of interesting because it sounds like it occurred at some point, you know, at some point in the past. and i think that the president went out of his way to ask comey to disprove this. to effectively act as his private investigator and disprove this and comey said to him, you know, it's hard to disprove a negative. if it -- it's hard to disprove
something that didn't happen and sort of said i can't. >> you can read that statement, though, as just the president embellishing -- he also said in other times that he had had, you know, contact with putin and he was clearly embellishing a relationship that wasn't there. so it could have been him just -- >> right. >> -- you know making stuff up to have a conversation. >> lying. >> what he does, he lies all the time. >> we can also understand the president -- >> and reince priebus was in on this conversation, by the way. so maybe reince -- >> again, with the cloud that's hanging over it, there's a theme here with the president saying, look, legitimacy of my presidency is being questioned, as you mentioned before, please make -- can we make that go away? the story, this false narrative about this russia trip, this golden job dossier, that's can you make that go away? it's not true, can you make it go away? can we get that cleared up? that's normal for any individual to want to have it cleared off the table if, in fact, false.
if it was true, would you be asking your fbi director who may not be on your team to please look into it more? >> he first demanded loyalty from him. >> i didn't see demand. i skimmed this. >> to me, what's newsworthy about this is that we've learned at least i've learned for the first time that the president did have worries and concerns about mike flynn. you see that again and again in these notes and yet despite these worries and concerns about flynn, he says to the fbi director, "i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he's a good guy. i hope you can let this go." so -- >> paul -- >> -- two, three, four times. >> you're not going to make your case on that. >> hold on. it's not that he thinks he's a good guy. >> one at a time. >> so here's what i want to say about this, look, i'm not a lawyer so i can't speak to, you know, the legalese of this. he emptied the oval office and told comey to end the flynn investigation. he asked the vice president to go out. he asked the a.g. to leave. it doesn't say obstruction to justice, but it certainly describes events that seems to lead to that. >> michael -- >> so i just think it paints a
bad picture. >> michael, you are a lawyer. >> yes, i am. playing one on television. the narrative here, which is interesting to me from a prosecution of a legal case or writing a report for consideration by congress for articles of impeachment is this in some sense the president being the president which is he speaks, he doesn't ask questions. it's a rat tat tat sort of free-wheeling state of mind monologue. but it doesn't necessarily say that there is an obstructive intent here. there's other evidence. paul's right. we -- flynn is cooperating. papadopoulos is cooperating. but as i just read these things, themselves, on quick read, it doesn't strike me that they're dangerous. that said, of course, if the president had just kept his mouth quiet about firing of comey, the firing of flynn, all of these things -- these would even be more benign than they
are. and because he kept talking and saying in an embellishing way the things that comey begins to talk about here, he may have put himself in a precarious legal position. >> in here also, you have the president ask comey about mccabe. right? >> again and again. >> many times. >> many times. what does comey say? mccabe's a good guy, he's honest, he's not a leaker. i wonder -- there's a piece right here where comey says "i'd like to find a leaker, nail him to the doors, a message to the agency." now that mccabe is facing criminal charges here if that's going to hold true. >> i'm sure president trump is very upset that andy mccabe allegedly leaked a negative story about hillary in the closing days of the election. i'm sure that's what trump is upset about. >> maybe not. >> i've known andy mccabe for a long time. he worked for me on the new york s.w.a.t. team for the fbi in the early 2000s.
i believe good people can make mistakes. i think andy is guilty of lack of candor, a nice dressed up way of saying he lied. and he's facing the consequences. if you're a new agent with one day on the job or a deputy director 26 hours away from retirement and you lie, bye, felicia, that's what happens. >> is that a -- >> that is not. >> bye, felicia? >> as i look -- >> by j. edgar, can we say something a little more fbi-ish? >> this is going to be harsher. i have to preface this by saying i have no ax to grind against james comey. i served as his direct representative to the mexican government and law enforcement for a year. i don't know the man well. i served under him. he never, ever sanctioned me. i have no ax to grind. but reading these memos and reading through this book it tells me the book's title should be "abdication of duty." there were so many opportunities for him to push back. i read these memos now, he could have said, mr. president, that's
inappropriate. >> all right -- >> you should have done that. >> -- i got to get a break in. we'll be right back. just can't satisfy. ahh! peanut. ♪ your wing nut has you covered. hi. ♪ okay. ♪ introducing planter's crunchers. ♪ a nutty crunch inside a flavorful crunch. it's even more crunch to crave. ♪
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director james comey. tonight it was his memos. no tell what it's going to be next wednesday night when comey will answer questions from me and an audience in virginia. join us for the cnn town hall, "comey: truth, lies & leadership," wednesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. that's it for us right now. time to hand it over to don lemon. "cnn tonight" begins now. see you tomorrow. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. here we go again. another night of one big breaking news story after another. first on the russia investigation, james comey's memos about his conversations with president trump have been turned over to congress tonight. and cnn has obtained a copy. those memos are, of course, a key part of robert mueller's investigation. a potential obstruction of justice. and they are full of fascinating details. we're going to go through them page by page for you, and we will bring you all of it tonight. then, there's the president adding a big name to his legal team, i'm talking about rudy