tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN December 6, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PST
contempt. the people doing that in michigan and wisconsin, you embarrass your party. you expose yourselves as frauds. and you will damage the loft people to participate. and given all the barriers to entry and the toxicity in our political culture that is already creating such disaffection, you doing this is the worst. we see you. we see what you're doing in michigan and wisconsin. shame on you. we will call it out. we will stay on it to make sure it doesn't happen if the people have anything to say about it. because that is the right thing to do and what you are doing is wrong. thank you for watching. "cnn tonight" with don lemon starts right now. >> wisconsin we have the governor-elect, he was on last night. >> i saw. >> two nights ago. and then tonight we're going to have martha lanning, who's ahead of the wisconsin democratic party, to talk about what they're doing. they're trying to get people out to protest, to call governor scott walker who's on his way
out, to make sure he doesn't sign off on this. but it is appearing that the governor is going to sign off. >> it will be revisited upon them. it will be revisited. if this happens the people will not forget, don. i know those states. i've traveled there a bunch. those people care about their state. they're very conscientious. you can't generalize about people. but i'm telling you, those states, they will remember that you stole their election from them. >> there are a lot of republicans too in the state, in both those states, who are not on board with this. it's mainly the -- there are some who are. but it's mainly the folks in the legislature, the people who lost and they're upset that they lost and they don't want to accept the outcome of the election. it doesn't patter if democrats were doing it. we should be -- >> no, because democrats are doing it, you call it out. this is a no-brainer. this is a layup. you lost. elections have consequences. get out. do better the next time. >> i've got to run. a lot of show ahead. thanks very much, chris. i'll see you tomorrow. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. here is our breaking news right
now. sources are telling cnn that after president trump's stunning firing of fbi director james comey deputy attorney general rod rosenstein and then acting fbi director andrew mccabe were so concerned that they opened an obstruction of justice investigation. even before special counsel robert mueller was appointed. here's what the sources are saying. that rosenstein and mccabe discussed the idea of rosenstein wearing a wire while speaking with trump. something rosenstein later denied. all of this coming on the eve of what could be another huge day in the russia investigation with mueller's expected filing of sentencing memos for michael cohen and for paul manafort, both coming down tomorrow. and don't forget this. it was just two days ago that mueller dropped the bombshell sentencing memo for michael flynn. a lot more on that coming up as well. plus donald trump, hypocrite in
chief? we're learning tonight that while this president has been railing against immigrants, calling them criminals, rapists, even animals, his private golf club in bedminster, new jersey where the initiation fee alone is more than $100,000, has employed people, managers allegedly knew were in the country illegally. that is according to the "new york times." one woman the "times" talked to says that she was a housekeeper at the club for more than five years. making the president's bed. cleaning his bathroom. and standing on the sidelines as he met with potential cabinet members. the "times" notes there's in evidence the president or top executives at the trump organization knew the workers were there illegally. the trump organization saying this, "we have tens of thousands of employees across our properties and have very strict hiring practices. if an employee submitted false
documentation in an attempt to circumvent the law, they will be terminated immediately." but the women who talked to the times say their managers knew and took steps to help them evade detection and keep their jobs. but maybe this president, who has threatened to shut down the federal government over funding for his promised border wall -- >> a possible shutdown if we don't get the wall money. >> if we don't get border security, possible shutdown. >> maybe he should shut down bedminster. maybe it should be shut down. maybe he should clean house himself first. but donald trump has a long history of allegations of employing undocumented workers when it suits him. okay? he paid over a million dollars in 1998 to settle a lawsuit over a crew of 200 undocumented polish workers on the site that eventually became trump tower on fifth avenue. and that is not even the most blatant example of trump's
hypocrisy on immigration. remember when he tweeted "chain migration must end now. so people come in and they bring their whole family with them." yep. some people do. people like president trump's mother-in-law and father-in-law, who became citizens in august after their daughter, melania trump, sponsored them for green cards. and there's nothing wrong with that. what's wrong, the hypocrisy here, what's hypocritical, is this president demonizing immigrants for his own political purposes. one of those women who talked to the "times" said it best. "we are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money." remember, donald trump launched his campaign with this infamous attack on mexicans.
>> when mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. they're bringing drugs. they're bringing crime. they're rapists. >> he built his rallies around tirades against immigrants. >> we are bringing in some very bad, bad people. we don't want this group of people anymore. these aren't people. these are animals. >> the united states will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility. it won't be. when countries abuse us by sending their people up. not their best. we're not going to give any more aid to those countries. @hell should we? >> he used blatant scare tactics in the run-up to the midterms, trying to gin up fears of the caravan of migrants on our southern border. migrants from central america, many of them not so different from the allegedly undocumented workers at trump's golf club.
>> it's going to be an election of the caravan. you know what i'm talking about. these are tough people. these are not angels. these are not little angels. >> these people are vicious. and they broke through into mexico, throwing rocks and stones. this is the second caravan. >> these are the same caravans that have violently overrun mexican soldiers and police. you saw this. we're not dealing with babies here, folks. >> he separated immigrant children from their parents, putting them in cages. and despite the president's promise to end the separations in june, at least 81 more children have been taken from their parents in recent months. he promised again and again and again to build a wall to keep immigrants out. >> we're going to build a wall. don't worry about it. >> it's not going to be a little wall. it's going to be a big beautiful wall. >> it's going to be such a beautiful wall. it's going to be is big. it's going to be so powerful.
it's going to be as beautiful as a wall can be. >> who's going to pay for the wall? [ crowd answering "mexico" ] >> we need security. we need the wall. we're going to have that wall. >> it's not build that wall anymore. it's continue building that wall. >> fact check. i know some of you don't like that. facts. the wall is not being built. some existing segments of fence are being replaced. which is a far cry from building what this president still loves to call a big beautiful wall. and who's going to pay for it? mexico's made it crystal clear they're not going to pay for it. that's other why he's asking for money. he's fighting to take protections away from 700,000 young dreamers, kids who epitomize what this country stands for, who were brought here as children. that battle is still in the courts.
the hypocrisy of this president is stunning. do as i say, not as i do. pay no attention to the undocumented workers at my golf club. while i'm slamming immigrants and taking their children from them. pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. facts do matter, people. hello. and the truth hurts. i know some of you don't like to hear it. but that is the truth. that's the way it is. i want to bring in now sarah murray. sarah's going to talk about her breaking news tonight. sarah, good evening to you. so tell us what cnn has learned tonight about this obstruction of justice investigation of president trump, the one opened before mueller was even appointed. >> well, we're learning there was that eight-day span after president trump fired then fbi director james comey. and parentally the feeling among some top justice department officials was the president needed to be reined in. this is according to multiple sources who talked to my
colleague pam brown. and remember they were spitballing ideas about how that should be done. that's when there was this discussion about whether deputy attorney general rod rosenstein should maybe wear a wire around the presidet. rosenstein of course has denied that. we're now learning that then the head of the fbi andrew mccabe, he was the acting director, decided to take a pretty incredible step, which was to open an obstruction of justice investigation. this was of course before they even made the decision that the special counsel was going to be appointed, don. >> sarah, so why would rosenstein open an investigation like this when it was his own memo that the white house used to justify firing comey in the first place? >> first of all, awkward situation. it's continued to be an awkward situation with rod rosenstein in the justice department. he's obviously had a rocky relationship with the president. but i think there are a couple things at play here. obviously, this spitballing, this feeling that the president was somehow out of control, now one justice department official says this is not how rod rosenstein felt, they're denying it. but there are other things that play out besides just the
decision to fire james comey, even before the president made that move. there is already a discussion among top officials at the justice department about the potential of opening an obstruction investigation because of what happened around national security adviser michael flynn. remember when donald trump had this private meeting with james comey, he encouraged comey when he was still leading the fbi to let the whole thing, let the whole investigation into flynn go and that began to raise alarms with people in the justice department even before trump decided to go ahead and fire comey. >> sarah, did president trump know this obstruction case was open? >> we really don't know the answer to that at this point, don. there was no public signal, obviously, that the president knew. and we didn't sort of hear him expressing alarm about that at the same -- in the way we've seen him express alarm about other investigations. for instance, when the special counsel was named. we're not sure if at the time the president realized that he was already becoming, you know, a focus of this investigation. we know that before he fired james comey he asked james comey
directly am i a target and comey told him he wasn't. but it's unclear what he knew after comey was fired. >> sarah, thank you. i appreciate your reporting. we've got a lot more coming up. breaking news tonight, top fbi officials discussed opening an obstruction of justice case against president trump just one month into his presidency. not long ago, ronda started here. and then, more jobs began to appear. what started with one job spread all around. because each job in energy creates many more in this town.
the zip code you're born into can determine your future. your school. your job. your dreams. your problems. (indistinct shouting) but at the y, we create opportunities for everyone, no matter who you are or where you're from. for a better us, donate to your local y today. here's our breaking news tonight. fbi officials opened up an investigation, an obstruction of justice investigation into president trump before robert mueller was ever appointed
special counsel. let's discuss now. scott jennings is here, chris cillizza and rick wilson. rick is the author of "everything trump touches dies." also, he was grooming himself right there. he's getting pretty. what were you doing? were you taking your glasses off? what were you doing there? powdering -- >> i was, don. i was. >> lipstick. >> glasses on tv. >> it's my delicate complexion. >> seriousness to get to. we are learning, rick, barely a month into his presidency, top fbi officials were already discussing opening an obstruction of justice case on trump after comby reported that he asked him to let the flynn investigation go. he couldn't even make it a month? >> don -- no, of course not. this is a president who was obstructing justice from the second he sat down in the chair. he obviously intended to obstruct justice by trying to manipulate jim comey into letting jim -- into letting mike flynn off the hook.
and so an obstruction investigation is an obvious, logical procedural legal step that would be taken by anyone who is like above the level of a flatworm in terms of being able to analyze the law that applies here. i'm not surprised by this at all. i'm surprised it hasn't leaked before this, which says a lot about the fbi's ability to keep a secret. but it's an obvious step when a president is so completely blatantly trying to subvert the law. >> chris, before deciding on ab obstruction investigation, the idea of rosenstein wearing a wire while speaking with trump was also discussed. what does it say about this white house that that would ever be suggested? let alone less than four months into a presidency. >> well, so i think we knew from the comey memos, we knew that there was a let's say misunderstanding at best or disinterest in understanding from donald trump the sort of ways in which the justice department and the president of
the united states interacted. so i think comey comes back and is documenting these things via memo. and look, you wouldn't have a one-on-one conversation with the fbi director in which you ask him to let this whole flynn thing go because he's a good guy if you understood or cared about that boundary. so i think what you're seeing, the reaction from the justice department was, we're dealing with something that we don't think we've seen in recent years. we need to think through our options. i always remind people, i know that donald trump has denied he said can you see a way to let this go as it relates to flynn to comey. he's -- donald trump has said that. james comey has said it under oath. so you can say -- we can say almost anything we like. there's a difference between doing that and testifying to that in front of congress that carries criminal penalties. so these are not equal things. donald trump saying he didn't say it. james comey saying he did say it.
let's not treat them as six of one, half dozen of the other. >> scott, i'm sure you have nothing to say about this. i know you have a lot to say about this. before i get my question, i think you should respond as someone who supports this president. what do you think? >> yeah, you know, looking at all the personalities that are involved here, if the president were going to be investigated for obstruction, i'm glad that robert mueller is handling it ultimately. if that's what's going on. as opposed to mccabe. i mean, after we found out everything we know about mccabe at this point, i'd trust robert mueller to get it right. i'm not sure i trust mccabe to get something like this right. >> you think this new reporting puts rosenstein in peril? >> well, it's a rehash of what we heard before about the wire tap, and then we know since that time he met with the president and there was widespread speculation he would be fired, and he wasn't. so it looks like they cleared the air on that point. but sure, i think anytime your name is in a news article that the president's going to hate, you know, you're going to have an anxiety-filled night. we'll see what happens. but they've met since this came
out and he's still in his job. >> does this give you any sort of pause as a supporter of the president, any of this reporting, that four months in, you know -- >> i mean, look -- >> -- obstruction, wearing a wire? >> i don't feel like we know anything we didn't already know, which is at the beginning of this administration the president did some things that caught at tension of law enforcement. he's now been under almost a two-year investigation. and it's going to conclude hopefully pretty soon. and my hope is that people are found not to have done anything wrong. that's my fervent hope. >> do you think it's going to conclude soon when you look at the memo from -- >> well, i hope it does because -- >> there's a lot of redactions. >> i know. >> there's a lot of unknowns. >> and we have documents coming out at the end of this week about other parts of this. i hope it concludes soon because the american people still want to know exactly what russia did and how they did it. and we're about to enter the next presidential cycle. we've got to know exactly how these guys did it. >> there are known knowns and unknown knowns. i forget how that went. but anyway. rick, president trump's answers for the special counsel will likely become a big part of the investigation. here's what the president said
about it. >> my lawyers don't write answers. i write answers. i was asked a series of questions. i've answered them easily. >> this is rudy giuliani, his attorney. this is what rudy giuliani told "the atlantic." he said, "answering those questions was a nightmare. it took him about three weeks to do what would normally take two days." uh, okay. very easily or a nightmare. whose description do you believe? >> oh, i think that donald trump's instinct is to answer as donald trump, you know, the con man would like to answer and try to flimflam it. i think every attorney was holding the crayon in donald trump's hand trying to keep him from writing the wrong answer the entire time. and trying to constrain and bound the answer so that donald trump doesn't, you know, perjure himself or open up entirely new windows for investigation. but i suspect that the answers that donald trump wrote and that his attorneys tried to constrain
him into writing are window dressing in terms of the evidence that robert mueller's accumulated from other witnesses and other information in the course of this. so the president not giving actual verbal testimony was always -- i thought he would never do it. i never thought it was likely that he would do it. so i think that these answers are less risky for him than the verbal testimony but they're still probably fraught with a lot of peril because he is a man who is, as we've noticed, inclined to lie on the daily. and so the answers he wrote and submitted to the special prosecutor are things that are going to be graded against other intelligence and other matters that he has been able to extract from, flynn, manafort, et cetera. i think it's dangerous for the president. >> scott, i've got to get your reaction to the "new york times" report that trump's new jersey golf club employed people that managers allegedly knew were in the country illegally as, you know, trump was out railing against, demonizing illegal immigrants, illegal immigrants
were also ironing his boxers, cleaning reportedly the orange stains on his shirts. how is this not hypocrisy? how is this not hypocritical? >> well, it certainly is going to appear that way. and i would just say, though, are we surprised? i think a quarter of everybody who cleans things in this country or is in the maid service industry, in that sort of business, they're undocumented immigrants. and so of course he's in that business. that's why his position on immigration has never been nuanced enough for me because we know construction, agriculture, the service industry, these industries depend on people who come here to work. there's like 8 million undocumented workers in this country. so i think it's fine to have a legal immigration system that respects that. but he's never had that nuanced opinion. i hope this story he takes as a sign from god that he and he alone can lead the republican party to a massive comprehensive deal on immigration reform, he can get his wall, he can fix daca, he can get the labor to these industries.
talk to a farmer about when they had to hire somebody. this is a sign. take it as a sign and make something happen. >> so you're saying that he is wrong on this issue. >> i think that if you're in the hospitality industry or the service industry you know there are going to be people working for you -- >> okay, scott, then why does he demonize people? he knows better. that's the whole reason that people criticize him, because as a business owner, someone who owns hotels, is in the service industry he knows what's up. >> i think it's fine to demonize if that's what you want to call it people who come here for nefarious purposes but these folks come here to work. and they work for him. and i would just say there's an opportunity here to make lemons into lemonade by finally leading the republican party to get this issue solved. >> don't drag they into this. but chris, i've got to ask you. he never says -- he never admits what scott is saying right now. he just continues to demonize immigrants in the country. people who come -- so-called folks in the caravan and on and
on. >> well, because candidly, i think scott has probably put more thought into our immigration policy, its flaws and where it can be changed scott also is not simply looking to take the issue for political gain. that's what donald trump is doing. the idea that donald trump has these long-held beliefs on literally anything other than trade is just not borne out. he's been in a lot of places on these issues. the reason he talks about building the wall and the reason he talks about mexico saying rapists and criminals, because he thinks it works. and honestly, there's evidence that it did work. he's the president of the united states. he's not a guy who engages in any -- as far as i can tell, based on the evidence we know, any real thoughtful policy either positions or educating himself about the nuance as -- to borrow the word scott used.
of policy. it's an issue that's totally black and white. if it were we would have solved it already. there's a reason the senate passed, republican senate passed what looked basically like a comprehensive immigration reform package. it never went anywhere in the house. because it's not easy. he does the politically expedient thing always. >> that's got to be the last word. thank you all. i appreciate it. there's just one house race left in america that remains to be called. the race in north carolina's 9th district is marred by allegations of election fraud. and the democratic candidate there is taking back his concession. we're going to talk to him next.
breaking news. cnn has called california's 21st congressional district for democrat t.j. cox. that means democrats have now gained 40 seats in congress. a blue wave. and it looks like the wave has a chance to get one seat bigger. if there is an election redo in north carolina. in the state's 9th congressional district there are more allegations of election fraud in a race that a republican won by just 905 votes. and new tonight, dan mccready,
the democrat in the race, says he is taking back his concession. here's what we know right now. a political operative. that operative name is mccrae dowless who worked for the republican candidate's campaign-s being accused of using absent cree ballots to alter the vote in bladen county. people who worked for him have admitted to reporters they were paid to collect ballots. dowless has a history of working for candidates who perform much better in absentee ballot results than they did overall. voters say in signed affidavits, they say people came to their houses to fill out, collect and hand in their ballots for them. authorities are investigating whether more than 1,000 absentee ballots tr likely democratic voters in north carolina were destroyed. and also new tonight cnn is reporting absentee ballot irregularities in another north carolina county. dozens of ballots were witnessed by only four people and those people have connections to
dowless. if those allegations are true, it is all illegal. so joining me now to discuss is dan mccready, the democratic candidate for congress in north carolina's 9th district who tonight took back his concession in the race. good evening. it's so good to have you on. thank you very much. >> great ton with you. thanks for having me. >> i just want to read a key part from your statement where you write, you said, "i didn't serve overseas in the marines to come home to north carolina and watch a criminal bankrolled by my opponent take away people's very right to vote." do you think this election was stolen from you and your supporters by other people? >> well, it appears that way. my opponent, mark harris, hired a convicted felon, known to perpetrate absentee ballot fraud, to handle his absentee ballot program. you mentioned the affidavits earlier. there's an affidavit saying that he may have had as many as 80
people working for his operation over multiple counties. i did start out in the marine corps. that was the beginning of my professional career where i had the honor of leading a platoon of marines in iraq. and i just never imagined i would come home to north carolina only to see a case of politicians and criminals who are taking away people's voices. you know, your right to vote is your voice. that is our most sacred american right. and that's under attack here in north carolina. >> let's dig into it because dan, have you seen any evidence that your opponent, mark harris, knew what was going on or that he directly paid for it? >> well, the evidence will be up for the state board of elections to examine. and i am -- i think the folks on the state board of elections who held a 9-0 decision, a bipartisan unprecedented decision not to certify the race and to hold the investigation, i
think that showed a lot of courage. i think it showed a lot of courage by the republicans on that board to join the democrats and independents to do that. and i believe that they will hold a full and a thorough investigation to look at all the evidence and all the affidavits and make a decision about whether this election was tainted. >> it sounds like you think the evidence might be there. >> it doesn't look good. it doesn't look good for my opponent mark harris, who has paid, hired this convicted felon to handle his absentee ballot work and liked his services so much that he actually recommended him to other politicians. i call on my opponent -- >> go on. sorry. >> i call on my opponent, mark harris, to end his silence. he has been completely silent during this entire episode. and i think he owes the american people, he needs to tell the american people exactly what he knew and when. >> so why did you retract your concession today? obviously it's because of what
the board of elections found and because of the investigation, i would assume. and what do you believe should happen next? >> i was in disney world with my four little kids and my wife about two weeks ago. i had -- i thought this long nearly two-year campaign was over. only to find out over the last week the really criminal activity bankrolled by my opponent had been occurring here in massive ways right in my district. so i was as surprised as anyone to see the board refuse to certify this election and really see how much fraud and how many irregularities and how much criminal behavior has come out over the last week. it's been not just rollin out day by day. it's been rolling out hour by hour. >> do you mean criminal behavior or alleged criminal behavior? >> well, these affidavits don't paint a pretty picture. there are people in north carolina whose voices have been taken from them.
whose voices have been silenced. i mean, folks -- i think you mentioned one of them in your introduction. folks who are paid by this criminal hired by my opponent to go to people's homes, especially the elderly, and it appears to either throw their ballots in the trash or tamper with their ballots, possibly fill in their ballots for them, even -- really it's disgusting and it's shameful behavior. >> you want a new election, right? >> well, i think that the board should hold as they're doing a full and complete investigation. and if that investigation shows that this election was tainted, then there actually should be a new election. >> how do you make sure then that all the votes are counted? >> well, ultimately, this is on the state board. we're doing everything that we can working with the authorities in the state party and the national party to try and make
sure that people are brought to justice and these people who've had their voices taken from them can find justice. >> dan mccready, thank you so much. i really appreciate your time. keep us updated. >> thanks so much for having me on. rise from ruin. in southern california, a small family business becomes a beacon of hope. in seattle, people with disabilities create success and shatter barriers. day in, day out, people prove that when we work as one, we have the power to create better futures for us all.
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good evening. we have breaking news on the eve of what is already a big day in the russia investigation. there's new reporting tonight on the investigation we did not know much about. an investigation launched in the days after fbi director james comey was fired but before robert mueller was named as special counsel. now, we're getting new details on the frantic few days that led to that and ultimately mueller's appointment. pamela brown joins us now with the breaking news. so explain what -- what is this other investigation? >> well, anderson, we have learned that in the hectic eight days after president trump fired fbi director james comey deputy
attorney general rod rosenstein and top fbi officials viewed trump as a leader who needed to be reined in and they discussed a range of options. ultimately, then acting fbi director andrew mccabe took the extraordinary step of opening an obstruction of justice investigation on the sitting president, donald trump, even before special counsel robert mueller was appointed. this is according to multiple sources. it was an idea we're told the fbi had previously considered but the probe wasn't opened officially until after comey was fired and before mueller was appointed. now, the justification went beyond trump's firing of comey according to the sources and also included comey's conversation in the oval office, asking him to drop the investigation into his former national security adviser michael flynn. but sources say the fbi would only take such a dramatic action if officials believed, suspected a crime had been committed. but we are told that rosenstein and other senior fbi officials
had deep concerns as well about the president's behavior and thought that he needed to be checked according to these sources. now, as they considered various options relating to the president in the hours and the days following comey's firing, mccabe and rosenstein held a flurry ofrose meetings to discuss the situation and that was when the decision was made for the fbi to open up the indication into trump. we should note the "washington post" first referenced the probe premueller last year but these new details about the genesis of the obstruction case into trump that became a key element of the mueller probe sheds light on the chaotic week following comey's firing and the scramble to decide how best to respond and they also help to explain the origins of the mueller investigation that has stretched across 19 months now that has consumed trump's presidency and is building toward a dramatic day of courtroom filings tomorrow. we should also note that a source within the justice department strongly disputed rosenstein, the idea that he sought to curb the president emphasizing that his conversations with mccabe were
simply about talking through ways to conduct the investigation. the source saying he never said anything like that. and the spokeswoman for mccabe did not provide a comment for this story, anderson. >> the spokesperson for rosenstein is denying an investigation was opened up? >> no. the spokesperson for mccabe is not offering any comment for this story, is declining to comment. but if you look at the comment from a source in the justice department, this source only said that rosenstein never said he wanted to rein in the president, he was just discussing ways in which to conduct the investigation. >> why would rosenstein okay opening a probe when it was his own memo the white house was using to justify firing comey in the first place? >> well, that's a good question. and it's a bit puzzling. for the deputy attorney general this obstruction investigation into trump and the appointment of the special counsel has certainly turned his entire
justice department tenure into the awkward role of supervising the mueller investigation after he wrote the memo justifying comey's firing that sources say he crafted voluntarily. now, critics have argued that the comey memo makes rosenstein a potential witness in the obstruction case. so it is interesting to note, anderson, then in the following days after comey's firing rosenstein was involved in these discussions with other fbi officials and was at the very least aware that the fbi was opening this probe into trump for the firing of comey. it's not clear why the fbi first moved to open up this case just before the appointment of a special counsel. however, the investigation of the president could have been seen as an impetus for having an independent team investigate given the sensitivities, anderson. >> pam brown, appreciate it. we should note rod rosenstein is right now at the white house in that picture at a hanukkah reception. we'll get reaction now from someone who had a front row seat to much of this drama, coxman eric swalwell, democratic chair
of the house intelligence committee. >> thanks, anderson. >> what do you say to the fact there was already an obstruction case opened before robert mule year was even appointed? >> they had good reason to be concerned. and it looks like they were trying to prevent a five-alarm fire from turning into a six-alarm fire. the president at this point would have just fired the fbi director. we later learned there were multiple versions of stories given as to why he fired him and his own admission to lester holt was because of the russia investigation. so thank god they were preparing to act because we will have later seen the president continue to obstruction, tamper with witnesses, and just outright lie about the investigation. so i think their cause was one that was rooted in real credible concern. >> the irony, i guess it's not the first time we've realized this, that had the president not fired comey he might have spared himself the special counsel portion of this whole saga if not this initial fbi investigation we're learning
about. >> that's right. and you know, the president's worst instincts continue i think to haunt him and will ultimately be what exposes him criminally when bob mueller finishes. >> how many times do you think the president can hear about the prospect of rod rosenstein wearing, you know, a wire, secretly record him before rosenstein's job is in jeopardy again? >> well, at this point if matt whitaker is the acting attorney general, and we've had conflicting reports about who's overseeing the russia investigation. but if he's acting attorney general he's overseeing the russia investigation. so i think to president trump he's eliminated the threat so to speak. now, that concerns me from a rule of law perspective because a lot of reporting has suggested that the president and whitaker have plotted for whitaker to take over this investigation and whitaker as we know has already prejudged it. and by the way, anderson, we're still waiting to see where is
this ethics opinion that whitaker apparently asked for. because i don't think there's any ethics lawyer at the department of justice who could say whitaker is not conflicted based on his prior judgments of the investigation. >> there was a lot of talk earlier in the week and some reporting that i think michael isikoff was having based on some sources who say people around mueller were saying they were kind of trying wrap things up. given what we saw in the filing earlier this week, given that we're expecting more tomorrow on manafort and cohen, do you believe this investigation is wrapping up or do you think there's a long way to go still? >> well, if you are looking at this as a traditional bottom up investigation, it certainly looks like it's reaching its end because you know, it started with michael flynn and george papadopoulos is the earliest of people to be indicted and then paul manafort. and now you've seen michael cohen, the president's lawyer, who lived in his personal world, his financial world and his
political world. and you have to think that if there are other members of the president's inner family circle who were exposed that that would be what's coming next. but anderson, i don't think a single person drives the direction of this investigation more than president trump. he took over six months to turn over the questions that were already given to him. he has refused to sit down with the special counsel. if he wants to cooperate, i think he can see this investigation concluded much sooner than anyone else can drive its direction. >> and obviously unusual in the senate but i do just want to ask you about the reported front-runner for attorney general, bill barr. he's an establishment republican. he's respected, though he's also expressed sentiments about the mueller probe and hillary clinton consistent with the president's own views, or at least adjacent to them. he's hardly a long-time member, though, of the president's inner circle, which was certainly a key concern of some people about whether or not whoever the president wanted could get through a confirmation. >> i mean, i have an open mind to mr. barr. he served in the h.w. bush administration. i think we saw this week that
that was a president who led with dignity and honor and optimism. so i think that gives mr. barr a credential to be considered here. now, i am concerned and i think that would be something that would come up in a confirmation hearing. i just want to know will he tell us if any promises were made to donald trump about the investigation? will he allow bob mueller to just follow the evidence and will he allow congress to see any mueller report that is submitted. >> congress man swalwell, appreciate your time. >> my pleasure, thanks, anderson. >> formernismon watergate counsel john dean, gloria borger, jeffrey toobin, a former federal prosecutor, michael zell done joins us, as well, a former assistant to robert mueller. jeff, how significant is in that rod rosenstein and andrew mccabe were so concerned that president
trump's behavior was veering toward obstruction they opened a case even before a special counsel was appointed? >> well, it just shows how concerned they were about these conversations between the president and comey, the ones comey described so vividly in his testimony in his book where the president asked for loyalty, where the president asked for comey to go easy on mike flynn. all of that was leading to thanks concern about obstruction of justice even before comey was fired. i mean, those conversations were so bizarre. remember how comey testified that he typed them up in his car because he was so concerned about memorializing them. he wasn't the only one is what the message is of this development. >> you know, gloria, the obvious pushback on there is that you know, someone hearing that folks in the fbi and d.o.j. were talking about reining in the president, it's not the job of the fbi or the doj to rein in
the president. they serve at his pleasure, not the other way around. the president's and mus toward mccabe is well-known. these res career law enforcement officials who according to this reporting were considering doing this. >> you know, they do work for the country and for the american public even though they are you know, appointed by the president and serve at the pleasure of the president, obviously. but you know, i think this raises really interesting questions about what happens next with rosenstein because you had rosenstein writing that memo saying that comey should be fired. and he is the potential witness in this case that he is still overseeing. i mean, we have matt whitaker but i'm not convinced that rosenstein has withdrawn completely from this and he hasn't. so there's a potential conflict here for rosenstein, and from pam and jeremy's great reporting here, i think we get a sense of
how frantic people were, frantic enough maybe to be joking about wearing a wire, but also frantic enough to say, this is out of control. and we ped to investigate the president on obstruction. i mean, it must have been quite a scene inside the justice department, and now, very difficult i would think for rosenstein top yet guaren to explain what was occurring. >> michael zelden, just -- can you put this in perspective how unusual it would can to have this conversation in the department of justice and the fbi about opening an investigation to a sitting president? >> well, i guess i see it a little bit differently. you have comey fired on the 9th of may. then eventual this seven-day period during which the fbi and the justice department are trying to make a determination about whether or not what comey wrote in his memos warrants an independent counsel or some type of inquiry. so they open up a preliminary
investigation but then rosenstein upon reflection within this one-week period determines you know what,'s said in his statement, the public interest demands that a permanent he special counsel be appointed. in some sense to me, anderson, it's not so the frantic and unexpecteding that after comey is fired and these memos are revealed that it would make a determination about what they should do. they open up a preliminary investigation and they make a determination within the week that really we need a special counsel because there's too much here that implicates the president and politics and the otherwise and so mueller gets his job >> john dean, do you agree with michael that will it's sort of less frantic perhaps than thought? >> well, i'd adopt almost everything michael said. and i had the thought about the story when i heard about it that the timing is interesting because we have comey testifying tomorrow and these are questions that are just perfect to be
asked under oath before the house judiciary committee. so the timing of the story is interesting, but it is not surprising to me given the information comey took back after his meetings that the fbi would say, we've got to open an investigation. >> anderson, anderson? >> yeah. >> can i make the case for hysteria? >> yeah, please. i will too. >> you know, it's like oh, well they were just sort of deciding whether to appoint a special counsel. this was crazy what was going on, this was insane. the president of the united states is asking the fbi director for loyaltile? he's chewishooing people out of room so he can ask the fbi director to go easy on his national security adviser? this stuff doesn't happen in ordinary administrations. i mean, even richard nixon didn't do stuff this crazy. we have john dean here to prove it. >> i'm going to agree with my
counsel, jeffrey toobin, okay? because this is not normal times. you know, these people are saying wait a minute. we have to open an obstruction of justice investigation into the sitting president of the united states? i mean, you don't think that causes a little bit of consternation behind closed doors? of course, it does. >> michael zeld din, does it? >> i'm not suggesting that the issues to be investigated were not unusual and were at the highest level of you know, anxiety within the justice department. all i'm saying is that in the ordinary course, this is the way the justice department and the fbi proceeds. >> there is no ordinary course. this is not ordinary. >> jeffrey, you're conflating the unusualness of the issue to be investigated with the ordinariness of the process. i think the process was more normal than you do, but we both agree that the circumstances of
the investigation were unusual. >> how can you separate one from the other? >> i mean, you know, it's a process, yes, but what are they talking about? >> john dean, go. >> yeah, i'd just like to footnote what the michael said and what was raised also about the fact that they were investigating a president. you know, this was not the first time and actually it was the second time. you'd had an independent counsel during both of -- actually, there were several independent counsel and oh this was not as unusual a move for the fbi as is normal procedure, having a president a target is not as unusual today as it once was. >> we're going to talk more after the break about everything ahead. tomorrow, we'll let jeffrey toobin's head explode and come back together. we'll talk more. what we could learn from big court filings on paul manafort and michael cohen and later more signs that the white house wants to move past the murder and