tv A Higher Loyalty Roundtable Discussion CSPAN April 22, 2018 8:02pm-9:01pm EDT
>> now on booktv and discussion on the book a higher loyalty and joining us to dissect what is in this book are two people very experienced inside washington and washington politics, victoria was an official in the reagan department of justice and also a high profile lawyer here in washington, and representative the democrat from maryland and a member of the judiciary committee. before we get into the book
congressman what are your overall impressions of james comay? >> let's start with the man because that is interesting to me i never met him in the book he comes off of someone who is very boy scout like in terms of his respect for rules and rules of law the first several chapters involve his hatred of bullies and how he was bullied as a kid he was not big or tall you could see how there could be a character clash and collision between him and donald trump if he was bullied frequently. t5 key personality flaw but
there is that sanctimonious nest to be aware of is he likes to be holier than thou and very much by the book and i can rub you the wrong way if he makes decisions that are questionable is when he decided to go public with the idea that there were more emails found and he would reopen the investigation to hillary clinton two weeks before the election and of course that caused the storm of protest among democrats we could get into that legality but essentially as a deeper person was clearly flabbergasted by the presidency there are some very funny parts in the book of what donald trump says and clearly he has no respect for
his virtue and the running theme is that trump wanted to make sure first that he wouldn't put an investigation into michael flynn with his connections into misconduct but then also was trump's concern that the reports the infamous dossier would come out with his contacts with russian prostitutes and various activities that he entice them into engaging in. so clearly opposites of each other and he sets up the book to frame it as a contrast. >>host: do you find the book convincing? >> entirely convincing in terms of the facts but there isn't a lot of analytical or theoretical depth to it he
does try to show more self reflection and clearly about the hillary stuff he is extremely nervous and essentially what he said is that he felt he had an obligation to reveal that they would go after congressman weiner's laptop with those emails and to make it public despite the fact there were doj regulations over publicity strongly during that election. and nothing was done but he said he thought it was clear hillary clinton would become president and he didn't want to be responsible for that and because of that he felt he needed to tell the world there may be more e-mails that could change the outcome but earlier in july we had the end of the
investigation i have questions about that but normally they decide there is not grounds for prosecution they just say we are not prosecuting the launch into an hour-long dissection of the motives of the person with the extreme recklessness and carelessness and this is speaking as a constitutional law professor it is bizarre he wouldn't mom -- entertain such a dissection of hillary clinton. but the basic point he seemed not want to be responsible for clinton and then not so much pot attention to politics he may have become partly responsible for the trump when and that is the underlying impulse of the book to say i didn't do this deliberately to make trump president and now he feels somehow implicated.
>> counselor with your opening statement? [laughter] >> i just want to react to your last point but he didn't say he wanted to be responsible he said i thought she would be president and i wanted to make sure it was legitimate people found out about this investigation afterwards it would have been a problem. so this it's right in the cross of that they hate the bullies they are so bad but what does he do? he bullies somebody and then ran along with the gang he just wanted to be a part of the gang because he wasn't in high school but then that is all what he says in here
because he does all kinds of things that are political and that is the central theme that i see in the book also he seemed a little bit holier than thou. and with the justice department lawyers disagree all the time. but your moral compass is askew. and people did not appreciate that attitude. >> do you know james comey in your circles? >> i have met him. >> i know the stories in here because i listen to them but i have never met him or worked with him.
>> is the book convincing to you? >> some of it is. but there is a whole part on scooter libby and he did not do the facts well with that version maybe he didn't know what the facts were. >> victoria toensing i want to read this part from the book because you worked from the justice department what you from you congressman. >> to have political leaders with the justice department because the administration of justice must be evenhanded. >> yes. that is true i worked for one of the best attorney generals that ever was and i remember once when smith was asked to go to the election and the staff people set it up he was asked to do something for
somebody under investigation he came back and a bunch of people were in trouble for setting up the luncheon for not knowing what it was about. he was ronald reagan's personal lawyer but if you get into that justice department you better be straight. i have never seen a justice department when i was there that went after anything but issues. when he set up that auger fee paperwork. [laughter] but it was issued through those antitrust cases. >> but it wasn't going after somebody. >> we could get back to jay at gerber hoover because that is also in his book but maybe we should engage for a moment
about the bullying because you are right where this is in the style of confessions where he says i have always hated bullies and i let myself down the most in college and i was part of a thing were basically we were ridiculing and harassing so he believes that himself to say that i hate tonight i am ashamed about i assume you don't present that as our revelation with this apocrypha he did raise that himself to say all of us can be drawn into bullying and what we need to counter is the bureaucracy that is on the bullying principle i think he does successfully advance that
point has somebody who really is anti- bully. for him to classify his own stature. >> but he is invested in his morality. i prefer sanctimonious nest to criminality or viciousness or cruelty or betrayal there are other sins but they are certainly worse than sanctimony. >> i am a product of the department of justice and when i hear him say that loretta lynch did not call the criminal investigation i cannot ever imagine ever accepting that ever. ever. >> he says i will not but then he does. >> i agree with that he wants
to hold himself to a nonpolitical standard but he does make concessions with politics and one of them was during during the whole anthony weiner episode deciding he has to go public two weeks before with the idea there could be other e-mails but that was part of the reason that trump so we don't need to disagree about that? the republicans were all over him for that with that rational rationale. >> june 27 bill clinton had a chance meeting with loretta lynch days before hillary i know you are fine constitutional lawyer but he said i didn't think much of it.
are you kidding me? if i was the director of the fbi i would have called him in say tony how this happened a chance meeting? with the fbi detail we directing people? so now that sets up the july 5 press conference and i am appalled as a former justice department employee he is the chief investigator no chief investigator decides who is prosecuting her who isn't so that position was contrary. >> you and i agree laying out the whole condemnation of hillary clinton says that we are not proceeding. >> but at the most. >> loretta lynch said to the
direct retaliation. >> but if coleman is upset about that to say i am making a recommendation to the attorney general but loretta lynch is wishy-washy. he didn't follow procedures but then that set up because if not the first one there was no second one. >> she didn't have to do the second one because go ahead and do the investigation and if there was some reason to believe that there was an investigation needed to be reopened then you go to congress to say there may be a reason to go ahead to open an investigation but the anthony weiner e-mails showed
nothing. so now all of the polling shows now for the clinton campaign for nine or ten days past why the democrats were so outrageous. >> they can be to outrageous the way he conducted the investigation i never heard the justice department he open that july 2016 and he does say with the grand jury know. that was a whole year of the investigation with the jury i have done many of them. when you don't open the grand jury then the prosecutor is negotiating but i will give you immunity if you give up. so for hillary clinton to say
about my e-mails never ever. if you want evidence you get the evidence so then you have the person giving the documents to say these are the things that she gave up. but you don't see if they are tested to be verifiable yes there were e-mails on that laptop or whatever it was that shows that she did not turn over everything i cannot recognize this as an investigation. >> so when james comey writes about that in a higher loyalty did you pick apart that part of the book as a lawyer?
>> as a former prosecutor this is what i did. i can say the writing the way it flows i don't know how that all worked out but that is the best thing i can say about the book there really is no compelling reason with the grand jury know look at how the trump people are being treated and paul manafort home was broken into. there is a very different standard. >> james comey would not disagree with that without factual predicate at that point to have all the evidence.
>> but the problem of the e-mail server with that to the grand jury. >> i'm not following that point not just because there is an accusation? >> but so did hillary clinton so lying to that guy is a crime. >> she had e-mails in her basement on her machinery or the server or whatever it was that is a separate 94 right there. >> i asked if we should launch a grand jury investigation for those who have used their servers also. >> it is classified information. >> but you seem to say. >> he knew that it was classified.
>> as you both know james comey has been on a media to her lung --dash tour. >> i want to believe you are not a political person but in your book talking about you on the verge of tears that you are dreading the next four years and hearing things about my party this morning and those transactions i am a republican but that is not reflective of my party but a lot of the things that you say in here are highly political i just understand what you mean to bring things like this up. >> i don't think of it as my politics but my values. >> talk about the women's march with your wife on election night but why bring
up the politics now? i am more interested what you know about national security. >> then ask about it. [laughter] [applause] >> that is a good question but in the book i am telling a story about the decisions. >> i am ego driven that doesn't reflect values at all that sounds like a political commentator to me. >> i don't care if the people support a republican or democrat i don't care who they support i hope the conversation starts with values and policy second because we will always fight about taxes and immigration but only with a collection of values that is what unites republicans and democrats. [applause] >> congressman? what a you think?
>> he has a good answer with that growing division within the republican party he has the boy scout wind that believes in the rule of law but despite what he said it does come out that you are a republican right up until the close encounters with donald trump that he was very clear he had not voted for barack obama ever but he had worked with his leadership and his intellect and character the first administration in history you cannot name a cabinet member who went to jail. >> can i say something about that? s because they didn't prosecute people. >> we will talk about that on
another time but i do want to stick with james comey. i think he has been drawn into politics because president trump tried to demand a personal loyalty trust to say i need loyalty i expect loyalty i want your loyalty and he said i will give you honesty and he said that i want loyalty and he said i will give you honest loyalty he should've said i don't oh you loyalty i destroy loyalty to the constitution and the rule of law then him would scramble to say i will stand up so then the presidency is a threat to america it is an assault on the country and the rule of law and the fbi mr enforcement have governed themselves that is what he was trying to say but obviously he
like attorney general sessions are republican. >> it seems to me you do have to look at some of the things that james comey did with the lack of the investigation with the politics lois learner that investigation or the lawyer for many of the victims were never interviewed by the fbi how is that an investigation? thank you very much loretta lynch and the only time she was contacted by the fbi after she was on the hill testifying then they called her but they insisted to bring somebody
there to harass her from the irs. and then they called it off. so as a look at his investigations but except for james comey you don't know what was said you weren't there. >> for the president to demand personal loyalty from the fbi director. >> look at how he talks. >> we agree this is how he talks constantly but now i say there is a division within the republican party and those who actually believe in loblaw or neutrality or aspire to that but then the donald trump wing which james comey decides like a mafia family to show
fitzgerald with that over five years that was related to far down in the weeds and max did not support him in the jury acquitted. because patrick fitzgerald talk about salary play ms. undercover. and then at the bureau undercover. and said he is an innocent man. this isn't a crime but ideally this is what he said.
>> victoria toensing we learn in the book higher loyalty to scooter libby at one point was the attorney. >> yes because james comey put together the southern district of new york which none were by bill clinton by the way and so actually james comey opened the investigation as a constitutional lawyer that would give pause. >> could you bribe the president? >> but she did. i know that. >> but i do not think it isn't. >> so when james calmly tells
the story about scooter libby do you believe he is writing? >> everything i have seen suggest he absolutely perjured himself and he lied to go to the criminal process and here is the other reasonable doubt then you also have judith miller who was the other one as charged. >> but when she did. >> but that is very clear and got back his law license based on he had his law license taken away. >> but all that seems to me you know the facts of that case.
>> shame on you for saying that. he is with the president. >> but that should be wonderful so now you're saying he wasn't convicted of anything? >> a going back to our higher loyalty. [laughter] james comey right everyone seems to question everybody's loyalty and motivation most often. >> is that true? >> i am not really in the political scene but i will look to the justice department so my world is as a lawyer.
>> i would say i have a conservative philosophy but. >> what about questioning other people's loyalty especially when they are not? >> with local washington there is a city of hundreds of thousands of people the last population of those that were out represented which was something of a scandal and should be addressed but talk about the power elite turning on each other that seems to be a pretty fair assessment. these are republicans they are attacking. to be a devoted u.s. attorney
is the same as robert mueller but because he is outside the mafia family they absently tried to destroy him. so now to defend these rule of law republicans. >> so is somebody who has stood in the arena for the election what do you think of james comey take on several elected officials in several different presidencies like dick cheney or alberto can solace or judged to be one -- george w. bush that it doesn't add up for him? >> to be the interlocutor to say if you are law enforcement
when you want hear your reflections and reactions of politicians and then you drag everybody down where people make fun of each other like the way they dress and personal comments that is embarrassing for the country where we have gone clearly he is angry with donald trump and get little humorous episodes out and there is one scene in the book where he is invaded -- invited to a one-on-one deal with the president and he got to see president obama twice over many years but with trump within a few weeks he had four or five he was so concerned about the russian prostitute coming out and wanted to make sure the fbi would do whatever they could to stop the leak
but he explained it wasn't a leak it was a private document circulated anyway they had document -- dinner together because there were little nameplates there that were hand-drawn and the president sits down he says these are hand-drawn he says yes calligraphy he looked at him puzzled and said hand-drawn. and that obviously irritated him maybe in saint ammonia's ways are somebody who has no respect for the rule of law with the litigation to engulf the president as going as well as people in the political
spectru spectrum. >> so with prostitutes that is part of his tortured thinking i can't believe that he talked about that in his interview that my husband would be upset if they we have obligations that you were with prostitutes but trump said if there is a chance that she believes this in and criticizes him to say i thought that was a comment that i don't want my wife to hear these things but comay's tortured thinking process is.
research on the president? it had nothing to do with the dossier. >> so that theologian that here i stand i can do no other as well. and then to do another? i did not follow along with him. >> so with your senior thesis? and jerry falwell that would cause people to moral imperatives with the imperfect world that is what jerry
falwell did that is in the other direction just to have their team on top. >> and i you say that they fight like hell to win so there is a lot of good republicans and democrats so let's not discount any dispersions. that comay sets up that old-fashioned republican principal and. >> with go back to the view.
>> but he told lester holt and then to make a decision to fire you. so the worst fbi director in history was not fired because of the phony russian investigation. >> he did say that we have that on tape. >> why do you believe you were fired? speemac i don't know i took his word when he said that to lester holt he also said that to the russians the next day in the oval office. i took him at his word. today's tweet then that illustrates part of the problem that it matters so i don't know what to make about it.
not working for democrats or republicans but the american people. that is the attitude that is reacting against. but if you are the fbi director instead of to the rule of law. >> a you were faulting donald trump? >> to stand in front of a jury but i'm not raisins very well but but does james comey come across as a bureaucrat insider is unimportant in that city?
rosenstein is a very good bureaucratic insider. i just thought he had poor judgment i just didn't think he was a good fbi director. that was very traumatic. >> and to talk about president obama i cannot believe somebody was such with subtle mind actually got elected as president. the only person who doesn't get criticized talking about. little interaction the fbi
days he was already caught that is republicans speaking. >> so you agree with victoria toensing they should've fired james comey on day number one? >> they are ten year appointments nobody had ever been removed before in the middle of a term. >> so there was an ethical problem but we should stick with the idea so that one thing that she said is that the department of justice did not respect so if you speak to
those fbi agents they loved him and they thought that he upheld those decent values. and one of the biggest criticisms so why is james comey writing a book when there is still an investigation that he is involved in? >> he does say this is no classified information. >> but we are talking about a present here into a first amendment rights donald trump
made him a private citizen he interrupted his term and to say we could stand up for the rule of law and to give 100% of your loyalty to the president and i get that. >> and speaking out with those investigations that is still going on. what about the fbi writing a tell-all book? and that is the former assistant director. >> but it is a little unbecoming for law enforcement
demonstrate to a judge you are aware of that. >> so with the investigation before there was any evidence coming from the dossier that is just extra. we have criminal convictions and please add investigations and other people's confessions between people in the trump campaign. >> what about michael flynn? he was convicted. >> this is why we can't get anyplace but they never would
have accepted anybody else. >> manafort i don't know. but the financial crimes those are against donald trump so. >> now before we run out of time this is from page 172 hour producer pointed this out i missed it completely. this is about loretta lynch. at that time we were alerted to some materials that had come into possession of the united states government that came from a classified source the source and content of that material remain classified as a right this. had to become public the
unverified material one undoubtedly had been used by opponents casting serious doubt on the attorney general's independence in connection with the clinton administration. >> i was appalled i'm not a fan of her but how you sent their and say i have information about you and it is classified. i think that is appalling that was in the book. >> it does peek my interest but there are several details there. >> he didn't want to be hugged by the president either. [laughter] and to have higher loyalty as attorney general? >> at the same time after all of this stuff opening the
investigation again she called him into her office and gives him a big hug which was very uncomfortable for him and said congratulations you did a great job and praised him up and down with the hillary thing. and when he left he felt like he was chewed out. if i was limited lynch i would be out there. >> clearly there is this dimension of public office that people are putting forth a pretense of somebody else behind the scenes i think a fair criticism is he is overly convinced of his own greatness that he has decided to tell
the world that there is more damning information coming out about clinton through this scandalous anthony weiner affair but in the meantime oh my god we will learn all this terrible stuff in the meantime she blames that single event is when her big lead in the polls vanished. but he should have been thinking about what will happen for the election he said she was so far ahead i thought she would become president but all that should be irrelevant as a prosecutor you should look at the facts and whether they merit the prosecution or if you should be going public that is extraordinary to go public and tell your story to say we found of her mom -- other evidence hillary clinton is rightfully mad about that.
i think it was a terrible strategic mistake leading people to question his legal judgment but i do think he believes in the rule of law although i think he was wrong. >> i agree on that. >> are the democrats do they rally around this book? >> i don't think so. a lot of them are still mad about what he did. we do think donald trump has completely transformed all of law enforcement so you have people who come under attack from their own political party and then they defend themselves and then go to the women's march and now they have to defend what their daughters did.
but they want to polarize and factual is america that you can't even lead a normal life without coming under attack for that so to that extent i think james comey made some mistakes with the democrats not the republicans he should not be hounded and vilified but beheld to the rule of law against donald trump. >> i think he is all over the place. >> so now talk about the legal circles you have represented both republicans and democrats is that a fair statement? >> i have. >> so is davis a friend or acquaintance of yours? >> sure. >> will before we run out of time what is the status of you
and your husband working for donald trump? >> there really isn't a conflict because we were representing to the people as we discussed it could be a distraction so we talked to him and we counseled him. >> to play a larger role in a higher loyalty. >> if he fires robert mueller is on mistake? been like he will not. >> but would it be a mistake if he did? >> of course. oh my gosh to fire him. >> but that is coming from things that he says about robert mueller.
>> new i have a question congress is after him the republicans in congress he is a case for he is a witness you just don't do that. so to talk to the present about firing him? and now you say he is looking into? i am not a scholar but i do argue constitutional issues that is unfettered that the president can fire whoever he wants to. that is not the obstruction and rosenstein overlooked that investigation. >> so to call that unitary executive we would not have a civil service in that case
that is as a constitutional provision in vitas back to talk about that because perhaps it is the suggestion he could be fired. >> i said rosenstein is not in the same category. >> but that would be massive to the rule of law. >> unfortunately we are out of time congressman the democrat from maryland member of the judiciary committee and victoria toensing is a law partner with her husband and a former reagan department of justice consultant thank you for being with us. >> thanks for having us.