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tv   James Comey A Higher Loyalty  CSPAN  May 5, 2018 7:46pm-9:01pm EDT

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[applause] >> good evening and welcome and thanks very much for coming. i am bradley graham that colin her of politics and prose and on behalf of everybody here at gw and axios as well we are very glad you are here.
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putting on an event like this verse goes to the folks at george washington university and lister avatar in. we have been here working with them for a number of years now to present large events with popular authors and we are very grateful that we are able to have access to such a spacious and convenient facility right here in downtown d.c.. our appreciation also to axios news and analysis site who sponsored this event and the official launch last year axios has become a fresh competitive addition to washington's journalism team covering media trends text business and politics on a data platform. axios at gw and dmv are all happy to preventing -- presenting james comey this evening for the former fbi director and certainly very much to do since they released a
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couple of weeks ago facebook "a higher loyalty" appearing on news programs talk shows on stages around the country details a controversial decision in the 2016 campaign that he made as the nation's top law enforcement officer and a subsequent interactions with president trump who famously fired him a year ago. he is also recounted stories from his childhood in new york and new jersey, his college years at william and mary and his distinguished career which has -- between a senior job in the u.s. justice department and positions in private practice with such firms as lockheed-martin and bridgewater associates. mr. comey says he never expected to write a book but eventually chose to do so to drive the conversation about ethical leadership and their nation's core values. he is called president trump out of step with those values comparing him to a mob boss and
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stresses personal loyalty over the law and has little regard for morality or truth. not surprisingly the president has had some choice words for mr. comey calling him a bleaker and a liar among other derogatory names. meanwhile sales of "a higher loyalty" keep going up. [applause] and tickets for events like this one fell -- sell out in minutes. this evening you will get a chance to see and hear mr. comey in person and form your own impression without a filter. you will be in conversation with mike allen one of washington's most prominent and tireless journalist. mike wrote for the "washington post" and a couple of other news organizations before watching the daily newsletter playbook and "politico" just over a decade ago. he left with ago and 2016 to help establish axios where he is
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now executive editor and author every morning of the newsletter axios a.m.. ladies and gentlemen please turn me in welcoming james comey and mike allen. [applause] >> thank you very much brad. we admired the business the land was to have dealt the independent bookstore here in the nation's capitol coming soon to union market. thank you for making this possible. mr. director backstage it told me there something you hope to never do again in your life. >> wear a tie. [laughter] and one of my daughters reminded me she is getting married in july and i will have to wear a tie. >> you have your wish until
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then. you were saying that through all of this all the different events that you have done you and i have got a very involved audience and a big set of questions already. you said you like the limelight because of the instant feedback? if you are not -- you can hear it in the gurgling of the audience and if you make sense you'd heard as well. it's fun and useful to get that kind of reaction. >> brad is referring to the president's tweets at your book party the other night. one of the first people who was thankless president trump. they thanked president trump for support with all his tweeting. were you surprised that he has been running up your sales like this? >> data was not i who thanked him for tweeting at me. [laughter]
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i wish he wouldn't be tweeting at me. i don't know what effect it's had on book sales. i've been blown away by the rate at which it is selling but that makes me happy. >> michael wolff, you'll been blessed by michael wolff's retirement fund. >> i said once i'm like a the breakup that he can't get over for some reason. [laughter] and i'm out there living my best life that he wakes up tweeting at me. [applause] >> before you plunge and i want to thank go of you for coming out. i want to thank our friends at the george washington university and lisner auditorium. two great young entrepreneurs keith urban in pat latimer chaplin i call the in the maestros told all of us this
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together. and thank you c-span carrying this life. of all the interviews he has done this is the first one c-span is carried live so thank you c-span and the executive director and thank you to all of my colleagues at axios. director comey as you've gotten into the media's spin cycle would have you learned about yourself and what have you learned about the media? >> i learned that i don't love being recognized on the streets in airports and bathrooms and elevators. >> well when you're 6 feet 8 inches. >> my wife says i should be in a wheelchair with a straw hat. that's not something that i crave or thrive on. it makes me slightly and comfortable although people are very nice bit of what i've learned about the media is a whole lot of people ask a lot of questions about a book they have not read. [laughter] >> so there will be a quiz. director comey this book is
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largely about leadership and one of your original ideas in genesis was a leadership vote. tell us what this leadership is. howdy be confident enough to be humble? >> it requires enough sense of self, a basic conviction that i'm okay that also allows you to realize i'm not okay and it gives you the comfort to learn from other people and show the ability that's necessary to listen to other people. too much confidence swipes humility out the board. too much insecurity makes it impossible to listen and to learn from others so what i mean may raise the term is a comfort in yourself but also allows you to realize they were not good enough in the path to getting better is learning from other people. >> what ingredients would you say is most often missing from leaders?
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>> humility. i have known a lot of leaders and seen a lot of leaders. i think overconfidence is one of the great challenges of human existence but especially in leadership and they were so challenged in learning from those of us below them and taking joy in our achievement. that's a key to being a good parent too, not to compete with their children but to learn that you should take joy from how they do so that missing balance. you have to have confidence to be a leader but you have to have a measure of humility to balance it out and allow you to be better. >> you are going to be teaching a course on leadership and ethics at the college of william and mary. what is your one rule or lesson? what is the one thing that makes me make a spot decision when i have to? >> the most important thing is to ask yourself the golden rule
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which is the name that runs through all the world's religion , am i treating this other as i would want to be treated as for me the most important touchstone. lots of other rules but that's should be at the core of it. >> one more question about world models. who in this whole worshiping his been a model of good behavior? [laughter] >> that's a great question. i would have to look to the government side for that mike. i admired i read in the book that i hope you get a chance to read that jim klepper is the leader in government that i most admired. [applause] because he had that valance of confidence and humility in another i talk about he was both tough and kind and i saw that in my interaction with them including during the 2016 election thereafter. >> we will start with the news and by the way we hope you will
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follow along the conversation #axios quamana -- #'s axios comey will be an ongoing conversation. if you are negotiating with president trump's legal team on the terms on what's going on right now what would you insist on? >> i am the prosecutor. again. >> again. >> i would give any interview with the subject i want want to make sure that i had unlimited time, a clear understanding and negotiate away any boundaries because i need to ask any follow-up questions that i wish and then i'd want to make sure there's a clear understanding on the part of the subject of the interview whether or not it's in the grand jury. a false statement will be prosecutable and those are the key things. open-ended at the time, open-ended on the subject in a
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clear understanding that you are obligated to tail the truth and failing to do so will bring peril. >> you believe any of the special counsel will -- president trump. >> i do not know. i'll know. i hope special counsel is free to gather all the information that he needs to get to the truth. i don't know what the truth will be don't care as long as he gets to the truth. it's hard and almost all investigations to imagine getting to that without some interaction with the subject but whether he gets it or not i hope these free to get the truth. >> if you had president trump under oath what would you ask him? [laughter] >> that's a good question. i don't think i can answer that might be one of the things i have been careful not to do is to talk about what i know about the russian investigation. >> you read the papers and you are big news consumer. what are you curious about and
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what would you'd like to know of the president? >> i would want to know as much as they could about the facts around things like interaction with me on every the 14th because to understand whether there is an obstruction case setting aside the legal question or one that could be brought against the sitting president, as i have said to the frustration of some journalists i don't know the answer to that but i can recount the conversation i had that i don't know what was the intent. if i were the interviewer i'd want to have lots of questions to get around that topic. >> considering the fact that we do know does it look like under -- . >> my answer is i don't know and i can't respond with an answer that question because it requires understanding of facts that i can't see from where i sit and to understand his state of mind and investigator would
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want to go all around that and understand communications before and after then what was the right record and lots of things that prevent it. >> you write in the book it's very possible that his campaign illegally colluded. >> collusion is not a thing in the world. investigators and prosecutors. i don't know how that got into our lexicon but the question is is there evidence that americans conspired with the russians or aided and abetted the russians? ..
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independent-minded, a independent decisions the accident investigation. so i thought my discomfort in my interactions with president trump made it more important for me to stay. so i asked readers to act using them for questions for you, hundreds of them. one of them was do you think the people morally opposed to the president can serve it? can serve him? >> the question is in what capacity at what cost because i do believe anyone >> i was fired.
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[laughter] at the other thing people have to do is they have to make a calculation -- not a calculation. they have to be keenly aware of the point at which they would move from serving the country to a conduct they would find morally objectionable that is the judgment each individual has to make themselves. >> what critique of you are so fair? >> i don't think -- you'd have to know me better to know that. i have a number of weaknesses that i wrestle with, worked very hard during my life growing up with great help between my wife and family to make sure not make a decision driven by ego. i believe the past, the fairest critique of me is probably that i can be stubborn and maybe that
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i can make decisions too quickly. i think i have a risk sometimes but i given to myself to be indecisive when it be an i try to guard rail that with the team i keep around me and say wait a minute. those are fair critiques of me. i don't see those emerging for example in the clinton e-mail thing because of the guard rails i had around me. those are my two answers. >> you told the senators when you heard or consider that you might tip the election you were mildly nauseous. could you do a little more than mildly nauseous if you tip the election? >> you have to experience my sense of nausea. [laughter] it makes me feel sick to my stomach. i should've said nauseated nauseated there if i was going to be grammatically correct. maybe part of it is i sure hope
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not then maybe i'd feel more physical pain if i convince myself that we actually did. it makes me sick to think we might've had any of that because our lives are devoted to the institutions that have no role there and we are stuck in the middle of it. the idea that we had an impact is sickening. >> you accept that you may tip the election? >> it's possible. i don't know. secretly i hope there's some explanation that rules out the fbi had any impact. i honestly don't know. part of what makes the nausea inducing is even looking back it wouldn't change the choices for the way i think about those choices. in the fact that it might have an impact just adds to the pain. it doesn't change how we think about what we face. sometimes you are stuck with bad or worse. yours have to choose bad or
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worse. >> you write and "a higher loyalty" about rudy giuliani who's your boss. what is the effect of the president of the president irene mayor giuliani for his legal team? >> i don't know. >> what you think he did it? >> because he developed confidence, i don't know this. i'm speculating from their interactions during the campaign. he's a very talented person. >> what can he do in this situation? >> i don't know. and then to the investigation. i don't know if that's inaccurate reporting. >> is that how it works? >> not in my experience, no. there was a relationship between bob moeller and really giuliani, but it just doesn't make any difference. so i don't know what it means. >> as deputy attorney general you -- what do you make of president trump's part and do you think that was a message to michael cohan or others?
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>> i think it's an attack on the rule of law. there's a reason president george w. bush for whom he worked declined to pardon him after deeper view of all the facts. president tram concluded justice is done, the rule of law system were chaired. to now the president 12, 14 years later say he deserves to be pardoned with no review and no consultation, i can't think of a sensible rule to do that. i think it's an attack on oil of love. whether it's a message, i don't know. somebody asked me, with a message today my wife reminded me it not about you, dear. i don't know whether it's a message, but even if it's not a message to anybody, it's an attack on the rule of law because it's really important people be prosecuted for lying
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blatantly, which is what that was, in the criminal justice system. without that, the rule of law melts away. >> what would happen to the investigation of president trump issued preemptive pardons? >> i don't know. [laughter] >> that's all the time we have. thank you. [laughter] >> can imagine that happening? does that look possible to you? >> sure, yeah. i can't imagine myself in that in any other environment, but it's possible. i don't know what the effect would the because i don't know enough about preemptive pardons and i also don't know to what extent -- smarter people would have to answer this. but if you preemptively pardon someone, does it depend upon the state action additional federal
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action, i just don't know. >> effect you think that's possible is remarkable. based on what has happened before, why do you think that's possible or as you say, solely in this environment could you imagine that? >> solely in this environment, we have a president actively undermining the rule of law and the institutions we count on no matter what your political affiliation is, we count on the country to uphold this democracy and the routine attack on the justice department, fbi, courts at least to me and the thugs and executing court-ordered search warrant, all of that together along with the president habit of not telling the truth repeatedly tells me this is a president that might do something like that. >> for those of you tweeting along, what do you think of president trump's red lines in the special counsel should stay away from its family finances?
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>> i don't know what to make of it. >> are those fair game in an investigation like this? >> is it fair game for an investigator to look at finances? sure, whether it's logically connected to the investigation. >> reporting shows the president react made extremely viscerally when there have been subpoenas about financial matters. >> i read the reporting. i don't know what was behind his reaction. >> are you surprised that these issues didn't come up for the president when he was -- before he was in office? >> which issues? >> issues about personal finance. >> i gather there was substantial features in bankruptcies and other things. it's been -- i don't know what your question is, the personal finance has been a big part of his personal finance. [laughter]
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>> so, no one can get inside robert mueller said. you said you are duty bound not to talk about anything you learned during investigation. what is made public since her departure in may 9th, 10 days until your big anniversary. >> my paper anniversary i think. [laughter] the special counsel was named the week after that. from the public clues, filing, what do you find most instructive about this investigation and where it's going? >> i can't offer that be because i can't separate in my head that characterization of facts that occurred after may 9th and before, so i can answer that. you can see in the book i've tried not to talk about the investigation in the book. >> so you are hughes news consumer is a look at coverage of the investigation, what does the media gets you hopped up about and what we may be overlooked or value last been
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experienced iowa? >> i worry that the media were people consuming the media don't realize that nothing is coming from the people who know what they are talking about. [laughter] [applause] and that is not the media's fault. but the sources are defense lawyers, the people around them, in my experience, and not robert mueller's operation, which is tight as a drum. none of us know what is going on in director mueller the investigation. >> when you're in office, and other interviews, you have seemed to define only as classified information, but there's plenty that can be nonplussed. >> a disclosure protected
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information. grand jury information, personal information, but something you're not supposed to give out to the media by rule or by. >> you never did that? >> nope. >> why did you give him those memos is that a straight to "the new york times"? >> i gave the memo to one person coming to richmond. >> whitish not go straight to "the new york times"? >> i thought if i do it directly, it will be like feeding seagulls at the beach because i had this huge crowd of journalists at the end of my driveway and how will i say no comment and how will avoid any interaction with awesome people like you. >> so you're concerned about her feelings? >> no, just my ability to stay away from you. [laughter] >> fair enough. you struggled with sensitivities around elections. it is 190 days for the midterm election where robert mueller
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spiting could be a big deal. would you take that into account and release an announcement? >> i don't know. he likely will because of the norms of the department of justice. despite what you've heard, there aren't any rules around how we act in a run-up to an election. a memo from 2012 about election related crimes. like that is the rules, not the rules. there is a norm. you avoid any action in the run-up to election that might have an impact if you can. i'm sure he'll operate with that in mind. what conduct that will drive is harder to say. >> how would you adjust to that? would there be a quiet. or do sunil get things done to them? how do those norms play out when you've got a 190 day deadline? >> i can answer in this case because you need to be able to have a vision where the investigation is going and
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whether you can conclude that well in advance of an election or whether it will buy its own course followed beyond the election. you don't make a decision based on the election, but you say okay all else being equal, can responsibly avoid a public action that might have an impact? difficult to answer. >> what advice would you give about coming out and saying something? >> worked well for me. [laughter] >> touché. [laughter] >> he doesn't need my advice on not. this norm is part of my existence as a federal prosecutor, so i'm sure as part of his existence as well. and without knowing what are the alternatives.
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>> in your very brief interview with george stephanopoulos, you said president trump shouldn't be impeached. that would be letting the voters and some of your other interviews, what is your current view on whether or not president trump should be? >> what i meant that i think screwed this up with george stephanopoulos. i meant a sense that of course impeachment should follow the law but the process laid out in our constitution. your supporter of the rule of law that should go wherever they take it. i was trying to express to him his fans that i have been a way that would be too bad for a couple of reasons. first comic president trump were impeached and did, it would drive a dysfunction and divide deep into our public culture that would take a long time to fix them about the voters off
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the hook. the american people without regard to political strife need to stand up and say forget guns, taxes, supreme court justices, something matters about those are not as dire leader reflect our values. [applause] but that is different. using the process would be bad for america? >> i think in many ways, the process would drive -- would create a sense of illegitimacy among a big part of supporters of president trump that would be difficult to unwind and driver division deep into our fabric in a healthier way, in many ways to resolve this is that the american people, especially those who don't normally vote, stand up and say this is what we stand for. the moment of clarity and
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affliction would be very good for america. we look at the history of our political division. we find times where we had terrible political division in something reset us. often a cataclysm of some sort. world war ii are arguably reset a lot of dysfunction and divided the 1930s. surely we don't need that in the moment of clarity would come from an election is my hope. >> would've the chance of president trump will be on the ballot in 2020? >> i have no idea. i was going to ask you. >> what are the chances if he wins? >> i don't know that either. >> you don't know, bloody thing. >> it would depend whether there's a third-party candidate, how does the electorate split, most kinds of things. >> you said you don't know if he's going to give an interview to robert mueller. i get that you don't know. is it more likely or less
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likely? what does it look like? >> in a normal world -- [laughter] it would be very hard for the president of the united states not to submit to an interview in connection with an investigation that touches upon the conduct, his conduct and that of people around him. in the normal world, american people would find it very difficult to accept. i'm only hesitating because we don't live in that world. there's so many norms have been broken at disturbed me greatly as you've heard me say in a regular bases the president treats that i should be in jail and i go in. [laughter] that is crazy. close arise. i keep saying republicans, close your eyes and imagine iraq obama waking up some morning and saying someone who doesn't like you should be in jail. republicans would freak out about that. so where is that?
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[applause] that is a long way of saying that's why i don't know any normal world everyone would freak out. but i don't know. >> you think you should? [laughter] >> in what capacity are you asking me that? s. an american citizen, i would expect my president to respect the rule of law enough, first of all, not to attack the administration of justice on a regular basis and to cooperate with the lawful appropriate investigation. that's what i would expect. >> should hillary clinton have been charged with a crime? >> no. >> when she was interviewed, why wasn't she put under oath? >> it doesn't matter. whether you're under oath or not it's still a crime to lie during that interview and so it's inconsequential in terms of the strategy of the interviewers. >> you wish you had one?
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>> yeah, this one i'm not going to answer anything. [laughter] >> that's for sure. >> voyager like be like if she won? >> i also don't know the answer to that. i think it would still be the fbi director. [applause] and the reason i say that if someone asked me to compare the two is too hard for me to compare the two except for secretary clinton is someone deeply enmeshed in the rule of law with respect for institutions, a lawyer, given that background, reasonably confident even though she was unhappy with the decision she would not fire the fbi director as a result. i don't know that for sure. >> you write about your early career as a prosecutor can a mob and you talk about the
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assignment circle of ascent. they are enablers and accomplices. who are those people for president trump? [laughter] >> i'm not prepared to answer that one, mike. in a meant that i do think that resonates, for me, president trump in the culture of his leadership, but i've seen it in a lot of other environments. a lot of corporate fraud. that was a familiar feature of the leadership of a corporation engaged in criminal misconduct, and the silent circle of dissent that will do what the boss says. >> could you admire ron president trump? >> i admire jim mattis a great deal and believe he's an american patriot and i get up every morning hoping he is getting up that same morning. [laughter] in for a long time, it works
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closely with the fbi director john kelly had a sudden command and developed a very positive relationship with him. >> you study the dossier closely. does it appear more accurate and inaccurate? >> i can't sort it for you that way. what i can say is a core feature of the so-called dossier was an allegation that was virtually cooperated with other intelligence, namely the russians were engaged in a comprehensive effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. that is a hub of the dossier. it is tough to sort out in the work was underway when i left the how much of that we could rule in or rule out and so i can't say. >> but it could all be true? >> sure. i'm trying to go through it all in my head. it could in large measure be true, could in large measure be false. >> at hunter who is here
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tonight. how concerned should we personally be about cybersecurity beyond terrorism or investments and bank account please? >> i'm going to give you a useless answer. you should be very concerned because we've connected our entire lives to the internet, not just our financial world, but our cultural and social world. it's for everybody wants to hurt us and the challenge for the internet not designed for security and it's only as good frankly is the weakest team in the link. the weakest human link in the chain. so yes coming you should be deeply concerned. that said, there is reasonable security. you can't be secure. you can be more secure and less secure. reasonable security and america's financial institutions. >> alarm should we be about the infiltration of facebook? >> alarm done a number of
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levels. that is an i'm sure there's people here who can talk about it much better than i come in but there the ability of people to participate in shape not just our individual lives come of the public dialogue is profound and figuring out how to stop it is really hard. >> there's a clear and present danger to the united states. how high do you rate those platforms given how easy they are to manipulate. >> what is the scale? i can make it up? okay. how high would i read the danger? probably compared to other dangers that i worry about or get paid to write about, i would say medium. >> should there have been earlier reckoning for the tech companies, earlier accountability? >> i can answer that.
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i can answer that thoughtfully, so i won't try. >> how fixable are the holes in his platforms? >> i don't know. i'm skeptical. i worry the nature of them is such that the notion of a six may be an illusion. >> abc's jonathan karl is here. i'll follow up in the second. >> you're phoning a friend? >> when was the last time he talked to andrew mccabe? >> probably a month ago. i'm conflicted. he's a great person and public service. i feel pain for him and his family. at the same time though, the inspector general's report and not process shows people come i hope it shows people this is
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what an organization committed to the truth and accountability looks like, whether the result causes you pain or something you like him and this is an organization look like he cares deeply about telling the truth and adding to the conflict is where the president behaved in connection with that was shameful. he managed somehow to not just time and in a spouse who is an entirely separate human being despite the fact they talk about that she's an appendage of his in stain them in the department of justice and the f. the item the inspector general process by the way in which he conducted himself. it is a tragedy on so many levels. not just in the caves, but the institutions of justice. that is why conflicted about it. >> was the biggest mistake as fbi director that didn't involve a clinton or a trump? >> and i'm answering them a conceding that i made mistakes and connections with those
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matters? just want to be lawyerly on you. i made a ton of mistakes. a bunch of personnel mistakes. i carelessly created a problem with the government of poland. [laughter] in a speech i was giving about the holocaust and is a distraction and a boneheaded play by me. they entered the debate about encryption and a way. the advertisements that apple and google were advertising, that was a great big to think about it carefully. i wanted to a press roundtable. i don't know how much time you have, mike, but i can think about this is a secure. >> abc's jonathan karl. i'm phoning him for the
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follow-ups i should've asked. >> first comic verification. you said that even if you learned decisively that your actions swung the election, you wouldn't do anything differently. do i have that right? >> as crazy as that sounds, yes. the choice they face in late october was between a bad option and a catastrophic option. and you can't make that decision , wave and that decision is elect will prospect in what way. given the values of this institution, what is the right thing to do here. one of my best people asked her in whole process should you consider which are about to do to the donald trump president. and i thank her for asking the
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question i said great question, but not for a moment like the death of the fbi at the independent entity. we are just part of the workfare. i know that answer sounds briefly to people, but that's why give it. yes. >> one thing you should ask is how do we not help or hurt either candidate? >> well, you know what you will do how have some impact on the election. the norm is that you can avoid it. the situation it faces i couldn't find a door that eras no action. i could speak or i could conceal the fact we were restarting an investigation in a hugely significant way having told the american people repeatedly they could count on the fact we were finished and have done a great job are one part of the spectrum either way we would have an
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impact of some sort. we have to push that aside and say okay, given those two options, which is the least bad given this institution and its role in american life. >> i've got a question very quickly and then a question about pardons. what would it take for the special counsel to get access to president trump's tax returns? would that have to be something the president himself would have to turnover? or could the special counsel go to the iris eberly? >> i'm not going to comment on this case in particular, but in general you can get a court order for reduction of tax returns. as a process inside the department of justice to have it reviewed and approved, but it does not require consent of the taxpayer. >> okay because we've been trying to get those tax returns. [laughter] >> i don't think that process includes you, john. >> yeah, i'm sorry. >> on the part in question might
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ask them in the example would be richard nixon. ford's pardon of nixon for any activities between january january 20th 1969, and august of 1974. so if the president were to pardon save my goal cohen for any activities in the days are working for trump administration until today, would that do away with michael in this investigation or what impact would it have? i assume he could be called as as -- and no longer take the faith. >> i haven't given the quality of thought, but in general, once a witness' pardon, they wouldn't have a fifth amendment right to assert. i'm hesitating because they may credibly assert the sphere of local or state prosecution. in general they wouldn't resist becoming a witness and if they
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lied, made false statements, they could be prosecuted for that. and so, i have not thought about it well enough, but that is how it would go in general. they could be compelled after that. >> at a pardon wouldn't necessarily end him as a figure in the investigation were given a wave of partners wouldn't. >> not necessarily. again, if a potential witness is part of a criminal investigation, they could then no longer be a defendant, but they could be compelled to testify. >> i thought it was very interesting what director, u.s.a. of not interfering in how that might affect molar. but if you want to follow. i know what's on your gears,
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too. >> are you encouraging him to ask me questions? i remember well when ken starr issued his report and within many, many boxes of supporting materials that were literally dumped on the house side of the capitol. robert mueller is going to make a decision not dissimilar to your decision about what to do. is he simply going to do nothing and blow past the mid-terms? he's got a lot of evidence right now that would be relevant to voters in the midterm election. >> at the judgment call. norms are inherently a little bit ambiguous, so guided by that desire to not be involved in an election to make a judgment call as to what can i responsibly do and when given where i am an investigation. that's why it's so hard for me to answer. later to overcome i could not find a way to avoid inaction and
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i desperately wanted to. i don't know what his degrees of freedom will be because no one except people on his team know we are using this investigation. >> i want to pause and say what a great audience this is. very impressive how many people wind up, how long. these questions are very thoughtful questions. i'm asking this because alex has a 15 out of the lab school and he says that what point did she lose her respect and trust -- your respect and trust for trump? [applause] >> who let that kid in here? [laughter] my concerns about the president commitment to telling the jurors , a process over time really. i was concerned enough that it was important to document my first meeting, but there is also
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another concern i wanted to make sure the intelligence chiefs had an accounting of the meeting because they left before i had to do the privacies. thereafter increasingly concerned that i was interacting with him about things that touched him personally, df t.i. and me, our responsibilities and that he might lie about then. and so it was a process, pretty quick process, but a process that i would say by late january was very concerned about it. >> what type of prayers did used to strengthen yourself and this person has a no. in november 2016 i told one of your assistant directors the retired fbi agents like myself were praying for you. >> i am a fan of theologian who wrote the serenity prayer, which is, was brought to my mind many
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times in the course of the last two years. and so, looking for the wisdom and patience to accept that which i can't change and encouraged to change what i can was really important to me. >> what type of legal repercussions would arise if president trump decided to fire robert mueller? >> i don't know. that's a good question. there's a good argument to be made. in the entire justice department. i don't know if they filed the normal course he would be able to find an executive who would carry out an order to fire robert mueller. and so then maybe he does away with the regulation. something really interesting might happen then. there is no deep spade, but
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there is a deep culture and commitment to the rule of law and all the way down the department of justice in the intelligence community. it would be interesting to see what would happen because i can imagine u.s. attorney's office, and be very hard to do some name given the culture, which is the balance in this country. >> your sink your president trump. >> i hope the american people without regard to political affiliation, but also in effect. so don't do disastrous things that i'll end things that will make a difference. >> a question from nathan anna. can you describe your working relationship with vice president dick cheney? >> tents.
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[laughter] he seems like another very smart person, but we had conflict that was intense, especially over the nsa's surveillance and i tell this story the book, so i won't repeat it here, but he looked me in the eye closer than we are in told me that thousands of people were going to die because of what i was doing. what i was doing was supporting pillars of office of legal counsel said we cannot find legal basis for much of the activity. that is not helping me. that is just increasing the pain. it doesn't help me think differently about the legal problem. >> who is a libyan leader that you would fire? >> autologous surprise there. i came to admire barack obama. [applause]
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i was not a political supporter of barack obama. i gave money to mccain, money to romney, in part because they hounded me, but i thought it was important to people of principle be the nominees for the other party. i worried that we nuts might take over the party. [laughter] [applause] my dealings with him were on national security issues and i came to respect that only the decisions he made, but the way he made decisions and especially that ability to listen and paint an environment where people would speak to him. batman would listen to five or 10 minutes without interruption and not just when joe biden was talking. he would listen and then he would ask questions drawn from the first minute to the third minute, fifth minute. extraordinary. he was listening and wanted to get it out of view so he would learn from it.
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extraordinary. i became admirer of him as a leader. [applause] >> was a leader you admire in business or philanthropy or academia? >> i worked for a great ceo at lockheed martin named bob stevens, who came from the humblest of circumstances, was a marine in vietnam, got his first job helping build aircraft and grow to be the ceo of lockheed martin and never lost that ability to connect with people and try and get the truth from then. i admired him a lot. in case i left anyone on off the list, i was going to say you next. >> did though clinton's meeting with loretta lynch influence the press conference? >> yes, it was the meeting in conjunction with the rather worry like very much in about a long time the decision to announce she would not recuse
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herself, except my recommendation and at that point, i decided as much as they liked the red outcome of this will not have credibility with the american people if i announce it standing next to her. and so, i thought this was a 500 year flood. never thought i'd be in a situation. given where we are, bad and worse, they of course have doubts about the credibility of the work. people can disagree about this, but we thought it was bad we can't do worse. >> as he'd had a story saying they were looking at taking out of the prosecutor's manual the language about the freedom of the press? >> i saw that and i want to know more about that before i got to work to. i just don't know. i saw the headline of the story, but i don't know whether it is
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real. you know this because you covered institutions. whenever a choice between benevolence and incompetence, always start with incompetence and realize they might be repairing the website or send name. i don't want to leap to benevolence. >> putting aside the motive come you clearly don't think it's a good idea russian ark >> to put aside freedom of the press? >> to take the language of their manual. >> i don't know exactly what the languages. you want respect for the newsgathering and reporting function to be central to the investigative considerations. reasonable people disagree with how you interact, the prosecutors and investigators are to have a friend of mine when touching the media. >> i told you these questions were thoughtful and sincere. what advice you have for current government employees on how to stay focused on the mission while under political pressure? [applause]
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>> take the long view. remember, someday you have to explain to your grandchildren what you did during this time. [applause] and it's what helped me during moments i thought it would be crushed by pressure. the close my simpler to the future and the future and say how will i explain this? i gave in to what bush and my because they yelled at me, because i was under pressure? remember the values of this institution you serve and remember someday you have to explain how you uphold those values and that should give you strength. >> we have in a biased question here if you don't mind. you said that you don't hate donald trump. given what he said about you, that is impressive. could you please help me not to hate donald trump? [laughter]
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[applause] >> hating people gives them too much power over you. [applause] one of the real dangers we face today is that the president's behavior will drag us all down. i am keen not to engage back-and-forth on twitter and name-calling whether or not this is fine and all, i don't care. that is really important that we remember who we are. you've got explained your grandchildren some day i acted this way. so hating someone, they're people you need to hate, but i would argue first, hate their actions and don't give the person that centrally role in your life. [applause] >> we have another hashtag here. director comey, did you get the
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letter from her former directors of the fbi, did you read them? send fbi employee with hashtag comey's home he is. [cheers and applause] >> i read every one. you all make me cry. i could only read them like 20 at a time. you probably have some sense of how many i got. i have drawers full of them. it increased my pain, but also made me realize why i felt that pain come in because of people. i love the people. >> drawers full of letters from former colleagues. payment cards and hilarious pictures in t-shirts and mugs. by the way, and i get no peace of a comey is my homey t-shirt, mug, i get none of that.
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[laughter] but it is a lie that the fbi analysis estranged in the workforce. i love those people and i think they felt it back. it meant a lot to me that all of these things came in, but it's very painful. i promise you read everyone. we sent me a card i read it. [applause] >> this is another one i had to read. what is something you would like to share with the people of the bureau now that it's been just under a year since dot dot dot. many of us remember that day and we likely won't forget it. >> never forget just how strong the culture of that organization is. and that is frustrating when your director was trying to orient in certain ways, minor
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ways. but remember, that inertia is your strength and the strength of this country. people haven't been there when i described the culture is alice for america. you have a work in the united states military services or the intelligence community or the justice department may be don't get it, but all those who work there and work there now, you feel it. no president serves long enough to destroy that. so just remember the long run. remember who you are. again turned her how proud you will be to tell your grandchildren what you were like during this period of time. you are great. just keep the net. >> 200 years ago from now when in the story and history destroyed the 2016 elections and the beginning of the trump administration and the level he or she say about you? >> he was tall.
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[laughter] >> u. r. six -- mac eight. >> who would play you in the movie? >> somebody much shorter. >> these are cool. goodbye question here. a question from sally quinn. how does your family handle this? the fact you are hated by left and right? >> thank you for that predication. >> they are doing okay. my kid, fine. we work really hard. all families have their own micro culture to make cars that god is not the center of our family and we compartmentalize. dad, okay, great. we talk about the next thing. hardest for my wife because she watches more than i can make it are jazzed up. she was given an interview with george stephanopoulos and he said that he lost friends over this? she said none. not true friends.
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yes it was fun. and afterwards i said who's on that list? she said i have a list. it is hardest for her and she's the one i worry about the most in that. >> you are rich now. how are you going to spend it? [laughter] >> i had a fair amount of dough before the because i was eight years in the private sector. what i will do is remember all of us. if you are this audience you are fortunate as of most of the world. remember, our obligation to care for those who don't have what we have. i'm not going to talk or brag about what i do. [applause] so you'll never see my tax returns, but you would see that commitment reflected there. >> attorney medical and that's
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fit for the trend writers around here. >> we have five kids. my wife decided we needed to move to a bigger house. because we were going to do this when i was director. we have to have a please were each of them in their significant others can say with a ping-pong table. [inaudible] my wife is a planner. the idea is we will become an attraction to her big family and we've got to do it now. you get the story. >> of ultimate question we've got 30 seconds for two questions. another question from sally quinn. the first line, the headline of your obituary or your appetite. how do you want to be remembered is probably a nicer way.
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[laughter] >> i actually don't care about this stuff. if you know me coming away meanness. i want to be a great father, a great husband, a great grandfather and a good friend and neighbor. the rest of it, that can be done in the paragraphs are not there at all. but that is my goal is to be that. my advice for young people would be ask yourself that question. when i am about to die, what will matter? i guarantee you will not care about money or house or cars or human honor her with newspaper clippings you have about yourself. it won't matter. >> a quick thank you and then a goodbye question. thank you flatiron but in javelin committee amazing team had asked the u.s. thank you for coming out. as we say goodbye, director
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comey, what is under a buck a list? what is one thing you've dreamed of doing that now you can? >> i actually don't think there's anything on that list. i am a happy person and maybe that explains why this doesn't bother me more. i am married to my best friend. i've got five amazing children. i actually don't have a buck a list. >> director comey, thank you for a great conversation. [cheers and applause] [applause] >> you are some of the current best-selling nonfiction books according to the conservative book club. topping the list is clinical psychologist jordan peterson self-help book, 12 lawyers for life followed by curing the deep state.
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>> you know, when donald trump ran for president and david do not grow dress, america is essentially a day or two away from the apocalypse. but what i found looking at the experience of his first year historically was as follows. donald trump was fortunate to take office when he did good unlike abraham lincoln, he didn't have to deal with the secession of seven states during the period between his election and inauguration. unlike richard nixon. he did not inherit a ward in which more than half a million american soldiers were bogged down by franklin roosevelt and barack obama didn't take it in the midst of a massive financial
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crisis. although the world how to share problems in the trump presidency began. they were ongoing. not new or urgent. the domestic economy had been growing, slowly but steadily for all but one quarter of the previous six years. the rate of inflation was below 2%. unemployment had dipped below 5%. percentage of americans who regard themselves as middle or upper class had reached 62%, and a greater share than the two dozen a financial crisis. the stock market was already the main. unlike all of his recent republican predecessors, donald trump took office with a republican congress. so you look at it that way, donald trump was dealt a very good hand and honestly, i am somebody who appreciates the significant of the tax-cut bill that was enacted last month into
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law. when you step back and think what the president's been able to do in the past when i had a congress controlled by their own party? one major piece of legislation and republicans especially a tax cut, sort of like exchange but. right? i think history gives us a way of kind of measuring not the rightness or wrongness, the kind of the scale of accomplishments. that is one thing it gives us some divine. another is this. you think about the last 70 years or so in the way in which we have chosen our president and the talent pool from which we have chosen our presidents. what you see is a trend that worker which donald trump selection with kind of the latest manifestation. think about this. during the roughly quarter century after world war ii, the
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presidents we elected not only had experience in government, but high levels of government in washington. senators, vice president, general truman, eisenhower, kennedy, johnson, nixon, ford, every one of them have built their career not just in government, but in washington. well, no surprise there, right session mark think about what happened before this period began. the federal government was widely credited with beating the axis and americans had a lot of confidence in the federal government and then along comes the vietnam war and the watergate crisis in jimmy carter's election in 1976 with people with experience in government, but not in washington. i was part of carter's appeal as is governor ronald reagan and governor bill clinton's. we are not part of that mess.
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the trend is somebody who comes along and says i have no experience in washington and i have no experience in government and that's a reason to vote for me. and that is sort of where we are now as people are looking ahead in the 2020 and talking about mark zuckerberg were oprah winfrey. we may have more to look forward to in that way. it's a way of understanding trump didn't just drop out of the sky. there's been a long-term almost three quarters of a century long trend of which he has kind of the most recent manifestation. >> yours look at author is recently featured on tvs afterwards. our program that involves best-selling nonfiction books and guest interviewers. journalist robert kessler reported on the trump
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administration. >> just to finance the guaranteed income. my view is that they asked those who have done the best in the new economy to pay their fair share. and that is people like me. specifically to bring tax rates about 250,000 back up to where
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they were historically a 50% and closed some of the most egregious loopholes in our tax code like above several commotion abled billionaire investors like warren buffett to pay a lower tax rate than his executive assistant. if we do those two things, it would bring not only balance back into the tax system overall, the day would raise enough revenue to be able to lift 20 million people out of poverty overnight. ..


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