tv This Week With George Stephanopoulos ABC April 15, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PDT
"this week" with george stephanopoulos. starts right now. >> james comey breaks his silence. >> i'm about to talk to him about allegations he was involved with prostitutes in moscow and that the russians taped it. and have leverage over him. >> the white house hits back hard. >> the guy is known to be a liar and a leaker. >> president trump calls the fired fbi director an untruthful slimeball. more from james comey's exclusive interview. his side of the story. plus, the fbi targets trump's personal attorney. >> why do you think they raided your office and hotel room? >> what documents and recordings did they seize? could they pose a threat to the presidency? as trump rages over the raid, what does it mean for the mueller investigation? we're covering every angle. white house press secretary sarah sanders. top members of the house and
senate intelligence committees. pierre thomas. jon karl. chris christie. and striking syria. >> these are not the actions of a man. they are the crimes of a monster instead. >> the u.s. joins an international response to the chemical weapons attack. trump tweets mission accomplished. how effective were the limited air strikes? the latest from martha raddatz. we'll break down the politics. smoke out the spin. the facts that matter, "this week." good morning. thanks for joining us this sunday after another extraordinary week in the trump presidency. it was capped by friday night's strike on syria. the u.s. joined by france and england, retaliating for a chemical weapons attack by the assad regime. u.n. ambassador nikki haley reinforcing the president's message yesterday saying the u.s. is locked and loaded for a new strike if assad uses poisonous gas again.
on the investigative front. a strike deep into the president's inner circle. with the fbi raid on the home, office, and hotel room of trump's personal attorney michael cohen. the fbi is looking for records about a payment cohen made to a porn star who alleges a relationship with donald trump. in congress, paul ryan announced he will not run for re-election. the big question is is his retirement a big vote of no confidence in the gop's ability to keep control of congress? and the bombshell new book from fbi director james comey. "a higher loyalty." it goes on sale tuesday. it's already topping the amazon bestseller list. making headlines that the president is unethical, untethered to truth. my exclusive interview with comey areas tonight on "20/20." we'll show more of the my exclusive interview later. first, let's bring in the washington team. first up, martha raddatz. thank you for joining us this morning. a late night for you on friday night. that strike on syria.
we saw the tweet from the president yesterday, mission accomplished. in the pentagon's view, what was accomplished? what difference will it make on the ground in syria over time? >> well, george, i think it is generally not wise to use the term mission accomplished in an ongoing conflict. if what you wanted was a limited punishing strike, as safe for u.s. and allied forces as you can get, with no unintended casuallies lties on the ground. then the mission was accomplished. will it change the dynamics of the war on the ground? no. it allows the administration to say, we told you not to cross that red line. will it stop them from using chemical weapons? it didn't last time. the pentagon says they destroyed infrastructure. you have to wonder why they still had the prohibited weapons and how many they have hidden away. >> seems to be a struggle behind the scenes on the scope of friday night's raid. what can you report on that? >> there was.
i think this was the strike that secretary of defense jim mattis wanted. he didn't want to inflame the region with a larger, more robust strike. he's deliberate. methodical. he knows the consequences of escalation. officials have said john bolton, his first week on the job, was advocating for a broader strike. but i'm told in the end, bolton was respectful. listened to the options. presented them to the president. which is what he's supposed to do. george? >> thank you, martha. let's bring in jon karl from the white house, pierre thomas from the justice department. john -- jon, the president is up this morning. tweeting. four separate tweets on james comey. >> an all-out attack on james comey on twitter. he goes so far in one of these tweets as to suggest that the former fbi director should be behind bars. take a look at this one. the big questions in comey's badly reviewed books are not answered.
like how come he dave up classified information? jail. why did he lie to congress? jail. why did the dnc refuse to give up the server? and he goes on and on and on. this, george, is like campaign. the president and the white house are treating james comey like the president treated his political opponents. lyin' ted cruz. crooked hillary. you now have sleazeball james comey. and he's also using the republican national committee. they have set up a rapid response operation to deal with comey's book and with his interview tonight. >> and pierre, hillary clinton supporters are not happy with james comey either. they're convinced his decision to reopen the e-mail investigation cost hillary clinton the white house. here is part of james comey's explanation for the decision. at some level, was the decision to reveal influenced by your assumption that hillary clinton was going to win? and your concern that if she
wins, this comes out several weeks later, and that is taken by her opponents as a sign that she's an illegitimate president? >> i must have been. i don't remember consciously thinking about that. but it must have been. i was operating in a world where hillary clinton was going to beat donald trump. i'm sure it was a factor. i don't remember spelling it out. but it had to have been. she's going to be elected president. and if i hide this from the american people, she'll be illegitimate the moment she's elected. the moment this comes out. >> the president is tweeting about comey's comment this morning, calling it unbelievable. i do know from sources close to comey that at the time the the decision was made, he thought clinton was likely going to win. and if information came out after she had been elected, it would have looked like the fbi was protecting clinton, playing favorites. he felt he had no good options. >> he repeated that in our interview. mean final, jon, the president
has been seething about the raids monday on his personal attorney michael cohen. another tweet this morning, attorney/client privilege is dead. the white house is worried about the raids. >> the president is concerned. that's why he took the initiative after the raids to call michael cohen. make no mistake about this. the legal team for the president is more worried about michael cohen than they are about robert mueller. and part of that fear is what they don't know. they truly, george, don't know what are in his files. in part the what they do know. michael cohen was the president's fixer. when the president had an issue, a problem, cohen fixed it. no questions asked. there are worries. the biggest of all for the president's legal team and those close to the president is the idea that michael cohen could turn state's witness. he could cooperate with prosecutors against his former boss. if there is one person who could take donald trump down, it is michael cohen. that is something somebody close to the president told abc news just a few weeks ago. before the raid.
>> stakes are high. the cohen investigation is being done by the u.s. attorney southern district of manhattan. but it's very connected to the mueller investigation. >> indeed, george. deputy attorney general rod rosenstein referred the case to prosecutors in the southern district of new york. that has drawn the president's wrath. i have never seen anything like this. every day rod rosenstein walks into office wondering if he's going to be fired. sources say he's at peace. with whatever happens. that while he's loyal to the administration, he's more loyal to the training he has as a prosecutor and rule of law. when there's enough evidence suggesting more investigation, it will be investigated. and democrats are telling me, if rosenstein is fired, it will be the beginning of the a constitution national crisis. >> pierre, jon, thank you very much. want to bring in the
white house view this morning. sarah sanders from the white house lawn this morning. a lot to talk about this morning. >> morning. >> good morning. let's start with syria. the president tweeted mission accomplished.
but we just heard martha raddatz said perhaps the initial mission was accomplished. but that the overall declaration is premature. this may not change the situation on the ground in syria all that much. >> certainly the mission that the u.s. military and our coalition forces with the uk and france went out on friday to do, they 100% met their objectives. that's what the president's referring to. they went out to destroy critical chemical weapons infrastructure in syria. and they did exactly that. they sent a strong message the to syria to russia, to iran, that when this president has a red line, he'll enforce it. and i think we saw that clearly on friday. and i think we have seen the president follow through on exactly what he said he was going to do. and the mission carried out by the extraordinary men and women of our armed forces.
partnered with the men and women in the uk and france, certainly successful in what they set out to do. and accomplished their objective. >> so what's next? is the president committed to getting our troops out of syria right away? >> look, the president has three big objectives when it comes to the conflict there. he wants to defeat isis. he's talked about this relentlessly. we are already there. we have made extraordinary gains against isis and in the war against isis. this president has led the effort. he's been successful. the ore -- other things we have to do, we have to contain iran. we have to make sure that the bad acting that they have been a part of doesn't continue and doesn't grow. those are big and key points. last, we have to stop the spread and the use of mass chemical weapons. that was one of the things you saw the president take action on on friday. these are big things that the president's been focused on. we have had some success so far. we're going to continue to build on that. >> as you were answering that question, the president's fifth tweet came out on james comey this morning.
i'm sure your phone buzzed. as you were talking as well. want to dig into this just a little bit. that tweet that jon karl cited. right there where he says, comey gave up classified information, jail, why did he lie to congress, jail. what exactly is the president referring to there? has he asked the justice department to investigate james comey? >> it's been very clear that james comey is a self-admitted leaker. he lied to congress. he's been inconsistent. >> what did he lie to congress about? >> he said he opened the hillary clinton investigation on its merits. now we're finding out it had something to do with the political landscape. i find it outrageously unbelievable that jim
comey, the man who takes copious notes and recollects every detail of every conversation that he had can't remember why he would have specifically opened an investigation into a
presidential candidate. particularly somebody he thought would become the president. >> he does remember. he goes into great detail. >> the clip you played a few mints ago said i can't be sure. i'm sure that was part of it. i think i thought about it. give me a break. the guy knew exactly what he was doing. he thought hillary clinton would win. he thought this could give him cover. he made the decisions based on the political landscape, and not on the facts of the case. when the person who is supposed to lead the highest law enforcement agency in our country starts making decisions based on political environments instead of on what is right and wrong, it's a dangerous position. and i think that's one of the reasons there is such a huge bipartisan consensus that james comey doesn't have credibility and shouldn't be leading the fbi any longer. >> well, that's not exactly what he said. but is the president asking the justice department to investigate james comey? >> i'm not aware of a specific ask of the justice department. but i do feel if they think there was any wrong doing, they should look into that just as they do on a number of other
topics. >> are you sure you want to be engaged in a credibility contest with james comey? i think the white house cited more than 2,000 instances where the president and the white house have made false statements. our new poll shows that americans, by a pretty wide margin, think james comey has more credibility than donald trump. >> i have to disagree. there's a daily poll that has the president up at about 50%. which is actually better than president obama at this point. at the end of the day, this president will be judged on probably two big things. the economy and national security. two things we feel very confident that this president has been a strong leader on. something that the american people are feeling the effects of. the economy doing much better today than in a long time. >> the president tweeted saying he never asked james comey for a loyalty pledge. is he still willing to testify under oath that he didn't ask for that and that he didn't say he hoped comey would let the flynn investigation go? >> the president has been clear
he's spoken about this a number of times, as you pointed out, including this morning. he continues to maintain that. and i have no reason to believe anything different. >> finally, on this topic, a group of republicans commissioned a tv ad tonight about robert mueller that will air during our special. here's what it says. >> as the head of the fbi under george w. bush, mueller has been trusted by republicans to put america first. >> i have a lot of confidence in bob mueller. >> this is our justice system. and the justice system needs to play itself out. >> the special counsel has a job to do. >> call your representative and tell them to protect the mueller investigation. >> is the president actively considering firing robert mueller or removing rod rosenstein, deputy attorney general, from overseeing the investigation? >> i'm not aware of plans to make the movements. the president has been extremely cooperative. as have a number of members of the administration. we've provided everything we have been asked for. we have real concerns about some of the activities and some of
the scope that the investigation has gone. but 100% maintain that at this point, after repeating it for nearly a year and a half, there absolutely was no collusion with russia. that's what they've been investigating. not only has the special counsel but a number of congressional committees have been looking at this for over a year and come up with nothing. i think it is getting time to move on. i think the american people would appreciate congress and the rest of the country being able to focus on some of the things that really impact them. >> is the white house more concerned about the michael cohen investigation than the mueller investigation? >> our concern is on doing what the president was elected to do. growing the economy. creating jobs. defeating isis. building and protecting our borders. this is the focus of our administration. certainly we're going to respond to some of the charges against us and brought directly against the president. as we have said before, he's a fighter. he's going to hit back when he's hit. that's the focus. and the policy priorities that this administration is going to spend our time on. >> why did the president call michael cohen on friday?
>> i'm sorry? >> why did the president call michael cohen on friday? >> look, he's had a long relationship with michael cohen. he'll continue to have that relationship. i can't get into specifics. >> is he worried michael cohen might turn state's evidence? >> the president is confident in the fact that he's done nothing wrong. he can't speak on behalf of anyone else. he's confident in what he has and hasn't done. he'll continue to focus on and fight for the american people. >> a report that michael cohen, according to mcclatchy, may have been in prague talking to russians during the campaign. that's the reporting, michael cohen adamantly denies that. is the president convinced that michael cohen is telling the truth? and what would his reaction be if, in fact, those meetings did happen? >> again, i can't speak on behalf of michael cohen and what he may or may not have done. that will be determined. he's contested that that is not accurate.
i haven't had a conversation with the president about that specific instance. >> the president pardoned scooter libby on friday. that drew a reaction from adam schiff. he said -- on the day the president wrongly attacks comey for being a leaker and a liar, he considered pardoning a convicted leaker and liar. scooter libby. this is the president's way of send message to those implicated in the russia investigation. you have my back and i'll have yours. your reaction? >> that couldn't be furtherer from the truth. once again, adam schiff rarely bases any comments in reality. talk about a grand stander. he probably is hook, line, and sinker friends with jim comey. they have never found a tv camera they don't love to be in front of. the point that the president made when it came to scooter libby. this was somebody who was wrongly convicted. he's been reinstated by the d.c. bar quite some time ago. the primary person that
testified against him recanted their testimony. the president felt it was the right thing to do. these two things have nothing to do with one another. >> sarah sanders thank you for your time. >> thank you, george. "roundtable" standing by. we'll be right back. what are the ingredients of a life well lived? is it the places you go? the things you own? or the people that fill it with meaning? for 150 years, generations of families have chosen pacific life for retirement and life insurance solutions. protecting what's most important to you. that's the power of pacific. ask a financial advisor about pacific life.
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i'm about to meet with a person who doesn't know me. has just been elected president of the united states. by all accounts and from my watching him during the campaign, could be volatile. and i'm about to talk to him about allegations that he was involved with prostitutes in moscow and the russians taped it and have leverage over him. >> how weird was that briefing? >> really weird. it was an almost out of body
experience. i was floating above myself and looking down, saying, you're sitting here briefing the incoming president of the united states about prostitutes in moscow. >> kind of had the same experience sitting there interviewing him on monday. the whole interview airs tonight. on abc. talk about it now on the "roundtable." joined by matthew dowd. meghan mccain, from "the view." fork times white house correspondent mack guy haberman. former new jersey governor chris christie. and former clinton spokesperson karen finney. a full-scale credibility war between james comey and the white house. >> the president's fully engaged on this. i think he's only helping to make more of a bestseller out of the book than what it would have been otherwise. which was always going to be the case. i think we should step back from the astounding thing going on. a former fbi director who served both republicans and democratic presidents has come out with a book and characterized the president as basically corrupt and basically almost on the
verge of calling him a traitor. this fbi director has done. we have gone from unchartered territory into the bermuda triangle. we're probably at the point of "pirates of the caribbean, at world's end." this is astounding. >> in that clip, chris christie, he couldn't swear that the allegations from moscow are not true. another surreal thing to hear. from a former fbi director. >> i have to tell you. as somebody who worked with jim comey and then for jim comey. it's a really sad day. because to hear jim sit in the interview and say that he considered the polling. when deciding -- >> he didn't say he considered. he said he was influenced. >> okay, george. when i worked for jim, if i said to him, 11 days before an election, that i was going to release information that could affect the election, one of the things that influenced me
was polling, he would have fired me. he would have fired me on the spot. it is really disconcerting to me, as a guy who worked with him and for him, and have defended him on this air and other places over the years, to see the interview and what he's saying. it's exactly at they teach you not to do. the it's unfortunate that jim's -- was a good guy. a good family man. a good person. and was a very good prosecutor. he began to believe his own press clippings. and it's the biggest danger in public life. and the hubris he shows in the interview is extraordinary to me and not the guy i worked with or worked for. and it's sad. >> you worked with hillary clinton. i see you nodding your head. >> i see this as the bear poking the bear. when you see the back and forth between jim comey and the president. i mean, i think -- look. i would take a step back. me, of all people, i don't want to relitigate 2016. i think what is important is that came out of your interview, at least the pieces that i have seen, i think he reconfirms a lot of what we already know and have suspected about the president and the
chaos in the white house. it should be more surprising it is. i think that is part of the normalizing of this base yof. behavior. and i hope that we take a step back and focus on the fact that there is a very real chance that this president or people in his campaign colluded with the russians. we already know that the russians interfered in our election. i'm far more concerned with that. we lived through that day when the -- those 11 days out, past history. what's present is, there is still an immediate threat to the country by the russians. and the fact that we're not talking about that, really shocks me. >> comey goes into that as well. meghan, he doesn't hold back. >> i think the confusing part right now, i think for people like me. on one side he's this boy scout for the fbi. on the other side, in the excerpts from the book, he's talking about the president's hand size. he's talking about crying in the oval office with president obama. pretty salacious, gossipy things
to be in a book that was supposed to be about clearing the the truth. it seems more in the vein of "fire and fury." i'm looking forward to your interview tonight and the hour he's spending with us on "the view." >> shameless plug. >> why compare the hand size of our president? >> it's a good question. he does go farther in the interview in parts than some of the book. maggie, it's clear the white house knew they were not going to constrain the president. so they might as well dig right into it. >> i think you can set that statement to repeat. they didn't know they were going to constrain the president on this. on a number of issues. what i heard on friday, the president was -- his mood has been all over the place because of the michael cohen raid. as we discussed. he wasn't in a terrible mood by the time friday rolled around. by the time we were hearing about what comey had said to you because from their perspective, it is not as bad as they thought it would be. i have not read the book. does not sound like there's a
ton of news in it. feels like it's newsier. >> more to come. >> right. and looking forward to it the. but, it's -- >> 10:00 tonight, by the way. on all your abc stations. >> that's what we're here for. but -- they felt like it could have been worse. and frankly, as irritating as comey is to the president, insults like the hand size. and so forth. >> they think that helps them, clearly. >> it does. >> what doesn't help them though is the fact that they can't actually execute messaging strategy because the one person you need on board at all times is so unpredictable. >> he doesn't care. >> i know he doesn't care. i'm suggesting the people that work for him care. >> except for the people who work for him would have to be surprised every day and have some form of 24-hour amnesia. to be shocked. that this is the way it goes. that is part of the issue here, in terms of comey and "fire and
fury." to your point about the comparison. these are books that don't offer a whole lot of new information. reaffirm what we have seen. and there's more proof of. i don't know that that changes any minds. >> i think that is fascinating. i think jim comey like all of us is a flawed individual. he's done wonderful things for the country. he's made mistakes. >> he writes that. >> i think he's probably humble about that. the fascinating thing about this book, the "fire and fury" book, and let's add the steele dossier. every part of this has been attacked, attacked, attacked. almost every part of each of those has been confirmed as credible and true. there's nothing that been fund mentally confirmed in the "fire and fury" book that is not confirmed. 90% of everything in -- >> i got him to admit on "the view" he reported things that were supposed to be off the record because somebody lied. >> that doesn't mean it was not true. >> he said the president had an affair and then had to acknowledge -- >> he didn't say that in the book. >> as we're talking about things
about the president that are so disturbing, consistently being reaffirmed. we have all reached a new -- i think the floor and ceiling of what is outrageous has shifted in a couple of years. my question is, and this relates to something else we may or may not get to talk about. and that is 2018. forget about the president. what are the republicans doing to stop this man from destroying our country? i mean, one thing i agree with mr. comey on is he's turned our government and country into a criminal enterprise. he treats the budget like a slush fund. >> i think the thing we should be focused on this morning is everyone's concerned, rightfully, about our justice system and making sure bob mueller is permitted to do what he needs to. making sure the justice department has credibility. we have -- the inspector general's report came out this week from an obama appointed inspector general that andrew mccabe leaked and lied to investigators. >> leaked about hillary, actually. >> whatever.
i mean, listen, we're not supposed to care about politics when we're prosecutors. >> i'm with you. >> what we find out from your interview is that he did. jim comey did care about politic. it's so depressing to me as someone who spent seven years in the justice department trying to make sure that the justice department wrked the right way. what he's proving is the president may have had the right to fire him. maybe he didn't do it in the right way. maybe not at the right time. the bottom line from the parts of your interview that i have seen is that jim comey's acknowledgment that he took into account politics in making investigative decisions. >> even the president has acknowledged that those reason first put out for the firing of james comey are not the real reasons. >> that's why i say, maybe not for the right reasons, maybe not at the right time. in the end, let's look at what happens here. there's a rule and the justice department knows it.
60 days before an election, you do nothing about somebody who is on the ballot. this guy did it 11 days before and he's the leader. where was the deputy attorney general? it's like sally yates is in the witness protection program. if there's this awful confidential information about loretta lynch that jim comey, lifts his skirt up and says, there's something bad there. where was sally yates to make the announcements? why was jim comey saying awful things about hillary clinton when he wouldn't have the guts to charge her? >> i think the governor surfaces a big issue. we're that the point in time -- and i think this president has added to it -- that nobody trusts any part of the government has any integrity. and the president survives and thrives in an environment where you say, you call me a liar, everybody is a liar. you say i have no integrity. nobody has integrity. we might as well accomplish what we want. >> to maggie. with the possible exception at least for now robert mueller. clearly the president all week long is seething about this. and has not ruled out getting rid of him. >> i don't thing he's ruled out anything. most of the people close to him do not believe he'll fire mueller.
he did touch that stove once before, right? with comey. it obviously didn't turn out well for him. >> he responded to one of your reports this week saying, if i wanted to fire him in december, i would have. >> that's lovely. we reported he was worked up about comey over a specific news report. turned out to be erroneous. sorry, mueller. he was worked up about mueller over an erroneous news report that his records were seized from deutsch bank. they were able to walk him back from it. this has been a thread repeatedly over many days. he talks about, this should be shut down. he doesn't think mueller has integrity. he doesn't think the special counsel should have ever been appointed. he's more focused in his conversations with people on rod rosenstein. if you saw action, i think it would be there. but i think even there, i have been told repeatedly, they don't expect he'll do it because it
opens up a confusing line. >> there are big problems with that. you now do not have rachel brand. the number three. if rod rosenstein were to be fired. this doesn't solve any problems. if that's what the president is is doing it for. who is going to be in charge? noel francisco? the solicitor general. i can tell you. noel francisco. very talented lawyer. to be solicitor general, you have a specific skill set. running a russia collusion investigation is probably not one of them. and i think pabt of what people are trying to tell him -- >> and would it be accepted? >> right. let's be practical. if you want to make changes, make changes after the midterms. right now, there's no way thisp. and it just makes, as matthew said before, the whole situation seem worse. >> for me, as a democrat, i think it's time to shift the focus away there the president. he's a bad actor. he'll continue to be the bad actor. he'll continue to tweet. if he tries to fire mueller, per the ad you showed earlier, is that the red line for republicans in congress to say,
enough is enough. we had to have violence in the streets of charlottesville to get them to take him on. that are be part of paul ryan's legacy, by the way, as he departs, which is he normalized a lot of this behavior. >> do you think the republicans would hold the line on mueller if he was fired? >> i think it would be a constitutional crisis if he fires mueller. you're talking about people like paul ryan. the vilification of paul ryan fascinates me. it happened for such a long period of time. he was someone who was going to throw grandmothers over the cliff in the election. the 2012 election, people said he would take away birth control. when you vilify a man like paul ryan, you can't deny it led to the rise of president trump. a lot of republican voters looked at this and said, if this nice, wisconsin, jack kemp conservative is the enemy, and he's awful, then we'll seend ina guy like president trump. >> that's paul ryan's history. i have some familiarity with him. it's been a fluctuating thing. he was a compassionate conservative when george bush
was president. the tea party started taking office. he shifted to the tea party. when he didn't think candidate trump would win, he shifted away from him. president trump wins. he enables him. paul ryan, in my view, has been revealed. donald trump has not corrupted paul ryan. paul ryan has been revealed for who he is. he is a company guy. he does whatever power wants. >> maggie, they were never that close. although they certainly worked together -- another understatement. >> euphemism this morning. >> they worked together in the tax bill. now we see paul ryan one of the house republicans not running for re-election. what role is the president playing? >> it's great question. it's not clear what the answer is. the number of republicans who want him campaigning for them is small. >> only in the deepest red districts. >> only in the deepest red districts. he considers this his free time.
he loves rallies. loves going out and campaigning. he doesn't, as we have seen, tailer what he says at any of these events to what is taking place in front of him. unless he sticks to the prompter, which he doesn't like. the this will set up a conflict less between the president and the candidates and more between the president's staff and advisers and the people running midterm races. because they have problems in terms of what he can do for them. >> to react to what matt just said. i think i was in the room when the relationship between paul ryan and donald trump was defined. and it was on the "access hollywood" weekend. when -- donald trump was supposed to go to wisconsin. to do a rally. and paul ryan affirmatively called on that saturday and disinvited him. >> and put that out. >> and put that out. on top of it. i'm reacting to what matthew said. i think that defines the relationship. defines a lot of the politics of that time. and how they were conducting it. you had people blowing up my phone at that time, running away
from donald trump. these are the very same people who, literally, five weeks later, were embracing him and trying to get into the cabinet. he doesn't forget that stuff. >> i'm sure he doesn't. >> the republican party of paul ryan or trump? that's the question right now. >> there's no choice. it's the republican party of donald trump. which is why paul ryan is leaving. >> that's all we have time for. great discussion. coming up top leaders of the house and senate committees. senator susan collins. congressman adam schiff both here live next. one else. so why accept it from your allergy pills? most pills don't finish the job because they don't relieve nasal congestion. flonase allergy relief is different. flonase relieves sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose, plus nasal congestion, which pills don't. flonase helps block 6 key inflammatory substances. most pills only block one.
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and we're joined by the ranking democrat in the house intelligence committee, congressman adam schiff. thank you for joining us. i want to start out. gotta give you a chance to respond to sarah sanders. reminding everybody what she said a few minutes ago. adam schiff rarely bases comments in reality. talk about a grand stander. he's probably hook, line, and sinker buddies with jim comey. they both have never found a tv camera they don't love to be in front of.
>> i don't think she likes me, george. you would have to believe that the president picked scooter libby out of a hat. out of the thousands of people seeking a pardon this is a coincidence. i don't find that to be remotely credible. the president is sending a message. i'll use the pardon power. to pardon people even those convicted of obstruction of justice. if you're with me, i have your back. i think that is the blatant message that the president is trying to send. i am working on legislation in which any pardon where the president is a potential witness, subject, or target, the files should be provided to congress so the american people can decide. >> on james comey. some critics have said him speaking out now may affect the mueller investigation. in some way. are you concerned about that? >> i'm not concerned about it. i think his statements, as far
as i have seen the clips, are very consistent with his testimony, with his memoranda. i have always found him to be credible and truthful. so i think the twitter attack and any concern about the investigation doesn't concern me. i do think that he made a very serious mistake in discussing the clinton investigation two weeks out and then a few days out. >> releasing the letter. >> releasing the letter. violating the department policy. i think it's interesting. i think he made the same mistake in many respects that the obama administration made more broadly and for the same reason. the obama administration didn't aggressively take on the russians while their hacking and dumping was going on. while the social media campaign was going on because, in part, i think they felt that, like comey, hillary clinton was likely to win. and that it would feed into trump's argument that they were rigging the process. i think the obama administration and james comey made a similar mistake.
by presuming the outcome. >> james comey quotes obama as saying, around that time, that putin backed the wrong horse. on the broader investigation. you also heard sarah sanders say that there's been absolutely no evidence of any kind of collusion that's come forward. the president's gone farther saying there is no collusion. that's been concluded by the investigators. you're still investigating. >> we're still investigating. this is simply not true. there have been, i think, any number of witnesses and evidence we have found on the issue of collusion. and -- you know, the trump tower meeting itself. the promise of help by the russian government. the acceptance of help by the trump campaign. the secret conversations with george papadopoulos. all of this is evidence of collusion. now, it's a separate question on whether there's proof that t
was a conspiracy to defraud the united states. one thing telling about the last indictment of the russians. it made no mention of the hacking and dumping operation. why was that not included? >> why? >> that indictment is coming, george. it's a question of whether that indictment includes u.s. persons or not. >> do you credit at all this mcclatchy report over the weekend that there is evidence that michael cohen was, indeed, in the czech republic? >> i don't know the answer to that. the majority were unwilling to use subpoena power to test whether they were telling us the truth. we said, let's subpoena his travel records. credit card records. let's find out where he was in europe when he says that he was in one place, did he go because there were not necessarily passport records to prague or somewhere else to have these meetings? the republicans didn't want to know the answers and wouldn't subpoena those records.
at this point we don't know the answers. i hope the special counsel can find out. >> what is your overall assessment, at this point, of the steele dossier? when it first went public, many of the allegations were salacious and unverified. what would you say about the overall credibility of the document today? >> certainly some of the information has been corroborated. others, it's difficult to prove or disprove. but i do think that the use of this by the republicans to suggest that the investigation began with this, which it didn't. to suggest that the whole investigation should be derailed because of the production of these reports by christopher steele. this is an effort to put the government on trial. to say no matter how incriminating the campaign would be, we should throw that out. because we don't like how the investigation was initiated or we take issue with mr. steele. that's no reason to ignore what the russians did. and it's no reason to get in the way of an investigation into
what the trump campaign did. >> congressman schiff, thank you for your time the this morning. we bring in susan collins. senior republican on the senate intelligence committee. do you agree with that assessment of the steele dossier? >> it's too early to tell. mr. steele has declined to cooperate with the senate intelligence committee. so we have not been able to interview him. it will have to be bob mueller who gets to the got tom of some of the allegations of the report that mr. steele compiled. >> you don't think you'll be able to? >> i don't. i think it will take the special counsel's ability to do so. i would note that it is -- does raise questions about the sources of the information. that mr. steele relied upon. because they were kremlin sources. we know that the russians wanted to sow the seeds of division in our country. >> disinformation at every level. >> exactly. >> and does robert mueller need protection from the senate?
>> i think that it would not hurt if we passed legislation to send a message to the white house that we want the investigation to continue. but the fact is that the president is never going to sign that legislation. and there are some legitimate constitutional concerns about it. but, having the discussion in congress helps send a very strong message that we do not want mr. mueller's investigation interfered with in any way. >> i think you're certainly right. the president would not sign that legislation. so are there other steps the senate could take to protect the integrity of the investigation? >> it's important to note even if somehow mr. mueller were fired -- and remember, only the deputy attorney general can fire him. that the investigation is still going to go on. so it would not spell the end of
the investigation. if a new deputy attorney general were nominated by the president, i cannot imagine the senate confirming that individual. without a clear commitment to appoint a new independent counsel. >> and, in fact, one of the things we saw this week is that investigations continue outside the scope of robert mueller. we now have the u.s. attorney in the southern district. on james comey, last june when he testified, you called his testimony credible, candid, and thorough. has anything changed your mind? >> his testimony was credible and candid. one of the the questions i asked and he answered honestly was whether or not he had leaked to anybody outside of the fbi. the reports and notes he took on his meetings with president trump and he had. he admitted to that. which was -- >> you're saying he's a leaker but not a liar. >> exactly.
but that -- what's disturbing about that is his leak of those documents violated the fbi's own guidelines, which he, himself, helped to write. so -- that's troubling to me. it's also -- i would go back further. than my friend the congressman did. and to me, the first misstep that james comey made after a very distinguished career was not 11 days before the election. it was back in the summer of 2016. >> the press conference. >> the press conference. in which he did something very unusual. as an investigator, he announced, and thus violated the department of justice's own guidelines, the decision not to indict hillary clinton. and then excoriated her for her handling of classified information. that's not an appropriate role for the fbi director.
and it seems to me that unfortunately, mr. comey stopped making investigative judgments that -- and instead was making political assessments. >> you think that was clearly the mistake for him right there. on that leaking, though, you saw the president's tweet this morning. the president said it was classified information and he should go to jail for that. do you see any evidence of a crime there? >> no, i don't. >> and finally. i do want to, before you go, ask you about syria and the strikes on friday night. in your view, as a member of the senate intelligence committee, what was accomplished? will more action be necessary? >> first of all, i think the strikes were proportional and justifiable. the assad regime has used chemical weapons 50 times. they violate treaties.
we acted with our allies, the french and the british. i'm glad that the strikes were undertaken. that does not, however, solve the problem that we do not have an overall comprehensive strategy for dealing with syria. it's a very difficult issue. but i don't think we can stand idly by after the syrians violated the 2013 agreement that the russians negotiated, that was supposed to put an end to all of their chemical weapons. clearly, that did not happen. >> senator collins, thank you for your time. >> thank you. >> we'll be right back. ou for your time. >> thank you. >> we'll be right back.