tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC April 19, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
history of the republic. >> i think we've already seen many of the most remarkable stories in the history of the republic play out in the last couple of weeks. >> ben smith, great to have you. >> all right. that's all for this evening. you were waiting for it to end, though ben was very entertaining. >> rachel maddow starts now with her guest, jams co james comey. >> james comey's firing has ld to the president coming under legal scrutiny for potential obstruction of justice. now as me and the whole staff here were preparing for this interview with mr. comey, some news broke about mr. comey. you will remember that he was fired last may, may 9th. the following day on may 10th, president trump, surprise, hosted two russian government officials in the oval office where he told them, quote, i just fired the head of the fbi.
he was crazy. a real nut job. i faced great pressure because of russia. that's taken off. that was may 10th, the day after the president fired mr. comey. the following day, may 11th, president trump told lester holt what was foremost in his mind when he fired james comey was the russia investigation. legally the president can fire presidential appointees without anybody telling him that he can't. if, however, the president fired mr. comey because of the russia investigation, because he wanted to influence an ongoing investigation into him and his campaign that comey was overseeing as fbi director, well, that might be obstruction
of justice. criminal liability here hinges on intent, evidence of the president's intent in that firing. that's everything. so the 9th comey is fire, the 10th the president tells russians firing him will take off great pressure because of russia, he tells nbc news he's thinking about the russia investigation when he fires the man, all potentially evidence of intent. enough to sink the president on that? doesn't know. b then a few days later on may 16th we learned from this "new york times" report that mr. comey wrote contemporaneous memos documenting his interactions with the president that led up to him being fired. mr. comey had given one of those memos to a friend who shared it with the times, about a famous interaction in the oval office in which mr. comey claimed president trump asked him to drop the russia investigation
into his national security adviser michael flynn. and it quoted mr. comey created similar memos, including some that are classified, about every conversation he had with the president. this was on a tuesday, one week after comey was fired. later that day, the fbi got the first request from a congressional republican to hand those memos over to the oval office. congressman chaffetz wrote that same day and insyisted the bureu hand over the memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings referring to communications between comey and the president.
the very next day, the day after the existence of those memos was revealed and congress demanded to see them, deputy attorney rod rosenstein appointed robert mueller to be a special counsel to take over the russia investigation. and if comey's firing was directly connected to the russia investigation, which trump himself had said it was, then comey's firing would presumably fall under the special counsel's active open investigation. so the fbi said no. the fbi told congress no, we cannot turn over james comey's memos to you because they are evidence in an ongoing investigation and we don't turn over evidence in an ongoing investigation to anyone. that standoff between the fbi and congressional republicans over mr. comey's memos, it's been going on ever since, ever since may of last year, republicans in congress demanded that the fbi handed over the memos, they demanded that rod rosenstein make the fbi turn them over.
the rod rosenstein said no. that tracks with longstanding precedent at the justice department, evidence in ongoing criminal investigations is closely guarded. in this case in particular given what we've seen over the last year or so, there is, in addition if we're being real here, every reason to believe if those memos are any other evidence was turned over to congressional republicans, it would probably be leaked, perhaps selectively to the media and seem safe to guess any other material would be shared with the president and his legal team while the president or at least his campaign is the subject of an ongoing investigation. and reportedly that includes an investigation of whether the firing of mr. comey is evidence of obstruction of justice. so that is where things stood until right now. until tonight. after days of reporting that republicans in congress were putting incredible pressure on reasonable dou
rod rosenstein to with hold documents, tonight the justice department has handed over to congress mr. comey's memos about his interaction with the president, memos that presumably are still important evidence in an investigation that we believe is still under way. so it is fortuitous timing that the man who wrote these memos is our guest tonight. i'm looking forward to asking him about that and everything else under the sun. james comey has been a lifelong public servant, served as a federal prosecutor in the eastern district of virginia and southern district of new york where he rose to become u.s. attorney in the southern district and deputy attorney general of the united states and then director of the fbi. at this point he expected to be about halfway through the normal ten-year term for an fbi director, but president trump fired him in may. mr. comey has now written a book about his time in public life and his views of ethical leadership. it is driving everybody absolutely crazy up to and including the president called "a higher loyalty, truth, lies
and leadership." director comey, it's really nice to meet you. >> it's great to be here. >> thank you for timing the whole thing, the memos came out just before you sat down. >> i had no idea. >> i haven't had a chance to read what they have released. i can tell you what they stopped. what follows are notes i typed in the vehicle immediately upon exiting trump tower. i have tried to use actual words spoken including quoting directly in some places. i have not used quotation marks throughout because my purpose was to capture the substance of what was said. i'm not sure of the proper classification here. do you recognize those as your words? >> i do. >> why did -- you explained to congress that you didn't write memos like this after other interactions with other presidents. what trained you or told you or made you believe that you should write a memo after this after interactions with president trump? >> the first meeting in
particular i was concerned that i needed a record to show the other intelligence agency chiefs who had been with me but didn't stay behind for the second private meeting and i also was worried that i was meeting alone with the president who talk about things that were relating to him and to the fbi's core responsibilities and given the nature of the person, as i understood the president elect, he might not tell the truth about those if it ever became an issue so i needed a written record. >> is this the sort of thing that fbi officials and special agents and people throughout the bureau do as a matter of course? is there a template for this thing? do you train one another this is a way to prepare your role as a potential witness? >> agents would prepare a 302. this was an e-mail to my team just telling them what went on. the other memos were more sort of aids to my own memory.
but none of them were done in the way an fbi agent would do. i wasn't an agent. i was the director. >> you shared a lot of your details about your meetings and interactions with president trump. is congress, is the public going to learn substantially new information and important new information about your interactions with the president or do you feel like you conveyed the most important stuff to congress? >> i don't know. because i don't -- i haven't had access to my memos in quite a while so i don't know whether there's significant stuff that's in there that i wasn't able to tell in the book. i don't think so but i haven't read them myself. so i'm okay with transparency. i just assume the department of justice went through the steps to mick sure it want jeopardizing an ongoing investigation. >> to that point, you say in the book that you don't know if the president's requests to you about the russia investigation and your firing constituted
obstruction of justice. you said a prosecutor would need to review all the evidence of the president's intent behind those actions in order to do that. do you think these memos are part of the evidence that a prosecutor, robert mueller or somebody else, should be considering when determining the president's intent? >> yes. in this way -- i'm sure the special counsel's considering my recollection of those events, which are reflected in these memos, but it's my recollection that is the evidence that would be used if there was ever a proceeding. these would be to show that i wrote it down at the time, sort of the bolster, the credibility of my recollection. >> can it as a general matter impede an ongoing investigation to have central evidence, important evidence, made available to the public and that of course includes being shown to the person who may be the subject of investigation? >> could in general, it could. it would depend upon the sis
circumstances of the case. >> do you worry that it will? >> i don't know. i really can't say here. >> in terms of what congress has had access to, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein has come under intense political pressure to hand over internal documents from the investigation. it has led to unprecedented stuff being made either public or given to warrant. information about a fisa warrant to surveil a trump foreign policy adviser, the e.c., the document that launched the russia investigation and these memos. what do you think of the kind of demands republican members of congress have been making to see these documents internal to this investigation? does it worry you this kind of stuff is being exposed for the first time?
>> i don't know enough about what the considerations are inside the department to know whether i should be worried. i assume there's a robust back and forth and they're protecting the prerogatives of the special counsel and the fbi but i don't know enough to say. >> in terms of the carter page fisa warrant, it used to be something that public officials didn't even want to acknowledge but now we know that you and many other officials are among those who at one point or another signed off on applications for a surveillance warrant against this guy who at one point was part of the trump campaign. nearly a dozen members of congress this week said that every official who signed off on those warrant applications, including you, should be prosecuted for doing so, that that fisa warrant is a scandal and that carter page was wronged. what do you make of that whole line of criticism? >> i don't think it's based in substantial or law or a genuine
concern for the integrity of the fisa process, which is incredibly rigorous and overseen by federal judges. >> carter page was an adviser to the president's campaign. from what we know in terms of him being mentioned in other court cases, including a russian spy ring wrapped up in here no, which he was in contact with, it seems that there was reasonable cause to at least look at him in terms of his contact with the russian government. he's then announced as a foreign policy advise torte truor for t campaign. paul manafort is announced as chairman for the trump campaign and it been noted paul manafort was under investigation since 2014. when the fbi knows that kind of stuff about people who end up getting vaulted from relative
obscurity into important positions in an active presidential campaign for the nominee of a major party, is there some duty to warn? is there any sort of -- is there some action that the fbi should take? you're not asked to do background checks on people for political campaigns but when you know what you know about these folks, you know about ongoing investigations involving these people and serious matters, should something have been said? >> i don't want to talk about those in particular but in general it depends upon what the facts are that started the investigation and what you've learned. the goal is always to disrupt and defeat the adversary's actions so sometimes that means building a criminal case and locking up the person who has been working with the foreign power. sometimes it means going to the person and saying, hey, we know you're hooked up with them, knock that off. sometimes it's a laying in the weeds trying to develop sources of information to get close to them. lots of different techniques. always the goal is to defeat the adversary's actions in an effort to influence the united states.
>> did anything like that happen in terms of paul manafort? >> i can't answer that. i mean, i could but i can't. and that kind of stuff is not in the book because the book can't contain classified information or investigative information. >> right. these memos that have just been made public tonight, they literally became public as you sat down. i want to ask you about a couple of things that in my control room they've just identified as information that they think is new to the public. as i read this to you, i will be reading it to myself for the first time. i've not seen this. a memo dated february 8, 2017, quote, as i waited in the west wing lobby, mike flynn stopped by and sat down. we chatted for about five minutes about his new job, the challenges of building a staff and working with folks who had never been in government before, how he maintains fitness, et cetera. there was no mention by either of us of redacted, redacted, redacted. mike flynn at that point had
already been interviewed by fbi agents. he was interviewed by fbi agents at the white house two days after he was sworn in in january 2017. clearly the fbi had reason to be questioning him while he's serving as national security adviser. was that awkward? i'm not going to ask you what's redacted here. but your interaction, with mike flynn at that point when he's been questioned by the fbi, there's been a warning about him from the justice department to the white house, clearly he's still in his national security adviser role. >> yes, it was awkward. one of the reasons i recorded it was given those circumstances, i wanted to make sure i was able to remember that we didn't talk about the subject of the interview. i didn't say a word about it, he didn't say a word about it. it was just sort of chit chat as i waited for another meeting that wasn't involving him. >> why was flynn interviewed by fbi agents after he was sworn in? >> i don't know l i cwhether i
answer that, rachel. and i don't want to say anything that steps on robert mueller's investigators' work so i don't think i can answer that as i sit here. >> let me ask you a related question that i don't know if you can answer. this has bothered me just as a citizen has made me itch from the very beginning. given what the fbi and other intelligence agencies knew about flynn at the time, it has always bothered me to think that he was sitting in on the president's daily brief, that he was involved in the highest level national security discussions at the white house as duly sworn national security adviser after the justice department had taken this remarkable step where sally yates went to the white house and warned them that he was compromised by the russian government, that he was not being honest, he appeared to be vulnerable to blackmail. did the fbi, did any intelligence agency involved in coming to this conclusion about flynn take any measures to keep
sensitive information from him, to protect national security from somebody who is believed to be compromised? he stayed in the white house for a long time after that warning was given. >> you predicted correctly. i'm not permitted to answer that. >> in terms of what happened once flynn was sworn in, once that warning happened, once he stayed on in the office, ultimately he does get fired. the president, you've testified to congress and you write about in the book told you to lay off the investigation to flynn. it's been publicly reported that president trump did more than just ask you himself. it's been publicly reported that he also asked the director of national intelligence, dan coates, to intervene with you, to end the investigation into flynn. you said in june that you never talked to dni coates on that
subject. did anybody at any time other than the president ever ask you to back off the flynn investigation? >> no. >> has there ever been any interaction between either yourself or the fbi in general and cia, nsa, treasury, any of the other agencies that might have been involved in this investigation that seemed not fulsome, that seemed not in keeping with the way previous counterintelligence investigations might have gone? was there any reason to worry about anything else going on in any other agency in. >> not that i'm aware of. i have no personal knowledge of that. >> okay. i want to ask you about george papadopoulos. >> okay. >> page 189 of your book you say in late july, the fbi learned that george papadopoulos what been discussing months earlier obtaining from the russian government e-mails damaging to hillary clinton. now, that was news to me in the book. i know the fbi had to sign off on everything in the book.
but the statement of offense around george papadopoulos just says that he was told that the russian himself e-mails of hillary clinton's. you appear to be going further here saying it was more than that, that he actually was in conversations with them about obtaining those e-mails presumably for the trump campaign. is that how you meant that? >> the public source for that is the two versions of the memo from the hpsci over the page fisa. so that's an accurate description of what is in the public record. >> so papadopoulos, that information came to the fbi and the fbi brought together a multi-agency working group to start this investigation or did the fbi start this on its own? >> the fbi opened it in our counterintelligence division in late july of 2016. >> that timing ends up being important for the late politicization of that question because there were a lot of allegations that maybe the fbi started that investigation because of christopher steele's dossier, those intelligence memos he prepared.
that's not true? >> not true. >> did the fbi had a relationship with christopher steele you would consider to be one of trust, a useful, fruitful relationship with him? >> all i'm permitted to say about that as i understand it, he was considered a reliable person by the fbi. >> okay. and in terms of how that broke down, i want to talk to you a little bit about some stuff that happened closer to the election. but it seems like there was a mutual [ dobreak down between mr. steele and the fbi getting close to the election. he's kaurktized it that way. would you see it that way as well? >> i don't know anything about that. if i did i couldn't answer it but i don't know. >> i'll ask you more questions that you can answer when we come back. james comey is our guest tonight. stay with us. all-new lexus ls 500 and ls 500h. experience amazing, at your lexus dealer.
joining us is former fbi director james comey. his new book "a higher loyalty" is driving everybody crazy. it's very good. usually public official books are like paint by numbers but you can tell you wrote this and you're into it. >> it's a high bar, isn't it? >> you should hear when cable news hosts write books. it's not even paint by numbers, it ju it's just splatter. >> i want to ask you about something that is new to me in these memos, which concerns a conversation you currently had with then white house chief of staff reince priebus. quote, mr. priebus asked me if this was a private conversation.
i replied that it was. he then said he wanted to ask me a question and i could decide whether it was appropriate to answer. he then asked "do you have a fisa order on mike flynn"? i paused for a few seconds but said i would answer here but that this illustrated the kind of question that had to be asked and answered threw established channels. i said the answer redacted. i then explained the normal channel was from d.o.j. leadership to the white house council about such things, redacted. i would normally make sure the a.g. and deputy a.g. were aware. i explained it was important about communications about any particular case go through that channel to protect us and protect the white house of any actionizatio accusations of improper influence there. >> what's going on there? >> i was in a meeting with the white house. it was a follow-up to the dinner i'd had with the president on the 27th.
as i understood the meeting, it was for me to introduce myself, get to know him and to explain how we interact, how the fbi interacts with the white house. he seemed to want to get it right. that was what i understood the purpose to be. >> will he was asking you this, when you're having this interaction with reince priebus, at that time the white house had been warned that mike flynn potentially compromised by a foreign power, the warning from the acting attorney general happened and mike flynn was in the white house. this goes about the potential threat it poses to national security to have somebody compromised by a foreign power in a national security job in the white house. it sort of sounds like reince priebus was asking for a little help on that. do you have a fisa order on mike flynn? was he asking if mike flynn is currently under surveillance or if mike flynn is under a serious form of investigation? do you know what he was getting
at by asking you that? >> not for sure. i think he was asking is there current electronic surveillance under the foreign intelligence surveillance act of the national security adviser. >> and you did give him an answer? >> correct. and then told him that the way that should work is you should go to ask the justice department. they'll figure out whether they can answer the question and they'll get back. >> was it improper for you to tell him directly in that moment? >> i didn't think so. i hesitated because i thought i'm trying to illustrate how it should work and i made a judgment in the moment that the answer -- that i was confident that if the president's chief of staff, white house counsel, asked the justice department they would get the answer so i could give the answer in the moment and use it toily v illus it going forward. >> so you're teaching him the way it's properly handled
approximate? >> trying to. >> he learn? >> i don't know. at some point he took me to see the president on the way out. even though i said i'm fine, i'm sure he's really busy, i don't need to see him so that was at least some indication that he wasn't getting it. >> i have a bunch of questions to ask you about this. one particular question about rod rosenstein, deputy attorney general, who remains in his role, although he been attacked by the president and there's a lot of criticism of him. you explain in the book your concerns about the way he handled your firing. he produced that memo that essentially the way you see it and a lot of people see it cooked up a pretense for firing you. did he know at the time that he did that about the president asking you to lay off mike flynn and to lift the cloud of the russia investigation? was rosenstein one of the people in the know in terms of the kind of interactions you'd had with the president that you felt with
-- were alarming. >> i don't know. i didn't inform him of those. there was an acting person in that role before he got there, dana boente. i don't know what briefing dana gave him. >> i have a question about dana boente. we obtained some handwritten notes that we believe mr. boente took after talking to you. they're in what we confirmed are his handwriting. "the washington post" has obtained confirmation that these notes are what they appear they are. i wanted to ask you about it because it's essentially hearsay. mr. boente in these notes is writing down what appears to be what you're telling him about your conversation with the president. within one of the things most striking to us is these phrases "lift the
cloud," talking about needing relief from the russia investigation, very, very directly tracked with what you testified to congress about what the president told you. mr. boente also took a note that looks like it says "going to bring lawsuit" with something we candidate read, "steele." i don't know if you know his handwriting. it looked like he was taking a note when he was talking to you about your interaction with the president. it looks like the president told up he was going to bring some kind of lawsuit over the steele dossier. did the president say that to you? >> looking at this i have some recollection of that. i don't know whether it's in my memo. i wrote a memo after that march 30th call from the president, but it actually rings a bell as i sit here. >> and the content of the dossier, particularly the prostitute allegation involving the ritz carlton hotel room and
all of that, you write in detail about bringing that up with the president, how unnerving that was for you both shortly after the election in january '17. was it your impression that the president was concerned about the real damage that the dossier could do to him as a legal matter, as sparking an investigation or did he seem more concerned in terms of embarrassment or the wave he might have to personally answer to it for his wife or to his family? >> i don't know. it may have been both. but my sense is he was focused most on the personal piece because he was he would bring it ul wi up with me repeatedly and at least twice he mentioned his wife if there was even a 1% chance it was true. it could be both.
>> in terms of the president's personal concerns there, you say at one point in these memos that when you were talking with him about those kind of allegations in the dossier, the president on his own terms brought up women who, quote, falsely accused him of grabbing them or touching them, says there was a, quote, stripper and trump gave me the sense that he was defending himself to me. does that mean when you were talking to the president about the dossier, he on his own accord brought up other allegations made against him by other women during the course of the campaign? >> yes. >> and was he asking you to investigate those matters? why would he bring that up with the director of the fbi? >> i had no idea. it seemed off axis from what i was there to talk to him about. so it was kind of spontaneous from him. i didn't ask any question that elicited that statement and i didn't know. >> a bunch of the senior officials who you briefed at the time, who you gave these memos
to about your interactions with the president, a bunch of these folks have ended up having their lives follow curvy paths in the past year. obviously you've had the biggest curveball of them all, but jim rickicy, he's resigned from the fbi. james bakery believe is still there, although he's been reassigned and he's been reassigned to what's basically a potted plant job at the fbi in comparison with the kind of high level job he had in the past, andrew mccabe very publicly fired and attacked by the president. you have not just lost your job but spent a year as a pinata for the president for congressional republicans. andrew mccabe said when he was fired here's the reality, i'm being singled out and treated this way because of the role i played, the actions i took in the aftermath of the firing of james comey.
it was accelerated only after my testimony to the house intelligence committee revealed i would corroborate former director comey's accounts of his discussions with the president. do you think that's the case? are you concerned there's been an orchestrated campaign to target you and other people who could corroborate your testimony as witnesses? >> there's certainly been an organized campaign to target me. there was definitely an organized campaign to attack andy mccabe, urge his firing, tear down his reputation, attack his wife. just shameful attacks from the president directly. and with respect to the others, i know them all well, there's different stories. rick eicy was reassigned and bar is well away from the fbi. >> and andrew mccabe we're told
has been referred for a criminal process. in talking to the press about the clinton investigation, how it was being handled by d.o.j. and fbi, he says everything he did was within his job description, it was to preserve the public standing of the fbi. he says it was all authorized. clearly the inspector general doesn't agree with him on that. while you were director of the fbi and he was your deputy, there was clarity under your leadership about talking to the press, about the issue of leaks, about who could authorize people to discuss things with reporters? >> i think so. there were two people who could authorize disclosures, the director and deputy director. andy had the authority to speak to the media and authorize people to speak to the media. >> do you think he improperly spoke to the media? >> i don't know for sure. i know he didn't tell me about it, didn't ask me about it before he did it. i think the inspector general's
report is right in that respect. i would have expected that. but i think he had the authority to do that and i think if he were here he would say i didn't need to talk to the boss because i had the authority to do that. that's a hard one because given all that was going on, i would have expected him to talk to me but as a matter of rule he had the authority. >> we'll continue right of a we come back from this break. thank you, sir. you might take something for your heart...
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we're back now with james comey, former director of the fbi, author of the new best selling book "a higher loyalty." thank you again, mr. director. we are still absorbing these memos of yours which were just released as we sat down to talk. we were discussing the fact that in dana boente's notes he references the president maybe telling you he wanted to bring a lawsuit against christopher steele. you did note that in your memo,
which we found here. yes! >> that's why i created them. >> the president reportedly telling you, i have a beautiful wife, it has been very painful, can you imagine me being hookers? as far as we know, the president never did that but he advised you he might at that point. i want to ask you about one other statement that the president reportedly made to you that's in these memos that have just been released tonight. this is in your words. the president brought up the golden showers thing and say it really bothered him if his wife had any doubt about it. he then explained as he did at our dinner that he hadn't stayed overnight in russia during the miss universe trip. twice reince priebus tried to interject a comment about the redacted and why it was even in there but the president ignored him. the president said the hookers thing is nonsense but that putin had told him we have some of the
most beautiful hookers in the world. he did not say when putin had told him this and i don't recall redacted. some of this is redacted. the president was conveying this to you at the white house. >> in the oval office. >> he told you he'd had a personal conversation with president putin about hookers? >> yes. >> did you believe him or did you think he was speaking hieber bol ical -- hyperbolically? >> he didn't seem to be speaking hyperbolically. >> do we otherwise know the president had personal conferrings with vladimir putin at that point? >> i can't recall. i think there was public reporting he had spoken to vladimir putin as a congratulations on taking office at that point. i'm not suggesting they talked about how beautiful the hookers were in russia but do i know there was at least one publicly reported conversation. >> that would be an unusual first call between new heads of state, a congratulatory phone
call to bag about the relative value of each country's hookers -- >> i agree. >> i'm going to assert my statement is fair there, which is probably improper. i'd like to ask you something about rudy giuliani. on october 28, 2016 you isnsent letter to congress notifying them that the fbi was reopening the investigation on hillary clinton's e-mails. two days before you did that, president trump's friend, former mayor of new york, your predecessor rudy giuliani said this on fox news -- >> mr. mayor, we got 14 days. does donald trump plan anything except for a series of inspiring rallies? >> yes.
>> what? when will this happen? >> we got a couple of surprises left. >> october surprises? >> i call them surprises in the way that we're going to campaign to get our message out there, maybe in a little bit of a different way. i think it will be enormously effective. and i do think that all of these revelations about hillary clinton finally are beginning to have an impact. he's got a surprise or two you're going to hear about in the next two days. i'm talking about some pretty big surprises. sf >> i heard you say that this morning. what do you mean? >> you'll see. >> so he's not just hinting there, he's bragging that he has advanced notice that something is coming. two days later you announced the reopening of the clinton e-mail investigation and then whether or not we can guess what he was hinting at there, mayor giuliani then thereafter did go back on fox and say, yeah, that's what he was hinting about, that's what he was talking about, he explained basically that fbi agents had told him that announcement was coming in advance.
>> i had expected this for the last honestly, tell you the truth, i thought it was going to be about three, four weeks ago. because way back in july this started. this has been boiling up -- >> mr. mayor -- >> i did nothing to get it out. i had no role in it. did i hear about it? you're darn right i heard about it. i can't even repeat the language that the heard. >> did rudy giuliani and therefore the trump campaign have advanced notice from inside the fbi, from the new york field office or wherever, that this announcement from you was coming? >> not that i know of but i saw that same publicity and so i commissioned an investigation to see if we could understand whether people were disclosing information out of the new york office or any other place that resulted in rudy's report on fox news and other leaks that we were seeing in the media. i don't know what the result of that was. i got fired before it was finished, but i know that i asked that it be investigated. >> did you -- you write in the
book about how the new york field office, how some agents in the new york field office had been leaking information related to the clinton investigation. you talk about that on page 208 of your book. i read it many times. >> thank you. >> whether or not they were behind those leaks to rudy giuliani, did agents in that office and their propensity to leak specifically about hillary clinton, did they basically force you to make that public notification because you knew they'd put it out whether you said anything publicly? >> no, i did not consider the prospect of a leak. that figured in a conversation that loretta lynch and i had the following week where she appeared to be saying to me it would have come out anyway basically. that's not why i made that decision. i didn't know and still don't know as i sit here whether people in the fbi office in the new york were leaking. >> given what you know about the mueller investigation and rudy giuliani, i want to ask you about news that just broke
tonight. rudy giuliani is going to be joining the president's legal team. you obviously worked for rudy giuliani when he was u.s. attorney in manhattan and then you later got his job. this is a little bit about what you write about that experience in the book. quote, there was something of an unwritten code about working in the office of giuliani, as i suppose there is in most organizations. it was that the rudy was the star at the top. you violated this code at your own peril. it took me a while to realize his confidence was not levened why a whole lot of humility. there was very little oxygen left for others. then you describe your first press conference with jewel agi. my supervisor told me i was to stand behind the podium while rudy giuliani spoke to the
press. though his confidence was exciting it fed an imperial style that narrowed wrong set. until much later a leader needs the truth but an emperor doesn't consistently hear it from his underlings. my sense in reading that striking description is that you are drawing a comparison between rudy giuliani and donald trump as men and in terms of their leadership styles. is that a fair reading? >> in some ways, yeah. this imperial style, the boss is the dominant figure is consistent in my impression in both of their leadership styles. >> given what you know about the mueller investigation and about rudy giuliani from working with him, what is your reaction to the news tonight that mr mr. giuliani is going to join mr. trump's legal team? he says he's going to join the team to, quote, negotiate an end
to the mueller investigation and he's told reporters tonight that he expects he will be able to negotiate that end. he'll end the mueller investigation in about two weeks? >> i saw that in the media. struck me as interesting. i don't know what his vision would be for that. i don't know how it will be coming into the new legal team and working with the president given the strength of rudy's personalty and the president's. i don't know. >> if somebody did want to end the mueller investigation, how would they do it? >> i actually don't think you could accomplish that by firing director mueller. i think you'd have to fire everybody in the fbi and the justice department to accomplish that in practice given the commitment of the people in those organizations. so i don't know what he has in mind. >> somebody new to oversee the investigation orders it staffed to be unseconded. orders there be no new steps
taken? presumably someone in the oversight role that many rod rosenstein has now who wanted to kill it could kill it. >> it would be hard to kill given the people in the organizations. maybe not impossible, but very hard to kill. >> fbi director james comey, i have one more question i want to ask you after the break. thank you again for doing this. we'll be right back with james comey. ♪ ♪
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author of the book "a higher loyalty" which is out there week and you can't get because everybody already got it. thank you for joining me again director comey. >> thank you for having me. >> in the book you spell out three reasons you had worries about attorney general loretta lynch when it came to the hillary clinton e-mail investigation. one is that you say that she asked you to call the investigation a matter, instead of an investigation. there was the meeting that she had with former president clinton on an airport tarmac which you note didn't seem that consequential to you but it did get a tide of critical media attention, which was important. and then there's something that you very carefully describe as an unverified intelligence report suggesting that she had offered assurances to the clinton campaign about the investigation, improper assurances or that she was somehow controlling you with regard to the investigation. because of those worries you
basically -- the way you put it is you step away from loretta lynch, you announce the fbi findings in the clinton e-mail investigation without her. the fbi separates from her. part of why you decided to do is the kexistence of the unverifie intelligence document with her connection with the clinton campaign, although you couldn't verify that. did you ever brief her and give her a chance to defend herself? >> that's another one you can't answer. i'm very concerned. i like lo rita, she's a friend of mine. the problem is there was real material that at first i thought would come out in 50 years, and once the russians started dumping stuff in the middle of june, i thought man, it's going to come now, and even though i didn't believe it to be true, it would allow people to have doubts whether the fix was in
some way that the justice department was in cahoots with the clinton campaign. >> this was a thing that loretta lynch did? >> no. we had not verified that the thing recounted in the documents was real but the documents was real. >> it was a real description of a fake thing? >> i believe it to be fake. i never saw any indication that loretta was compromised. we never spoke about it after that call it a matter from the previous fall. >> even the way you talk about it in the book sort of casts e speshss on loretta lynch and whether she was doing anything wrong with the investigation. she did take herself out of the loop in terms of overseeing that investigation. and you write early in the book, page 42 about a mentor you had, a u.s. attorney.
>> helen fa hee. >> you said she didn't care what people said about her. she put the interest of the team and the job we had to do higher than her own feelings or worries of reputation. it seems that with loretta lynch you worried very much what misinformed people were going to say about her? that there was no reason to have concerns about her integrity with that investigation but misinformed people would get the wrong idea and you took action to account for that. >> maybe in a slight sense. it led me to believe if i do the announcement next to loretta, it won't have credibility. the next was not to recuse herself after the airplane business and say she would accept my recommendations. it's in the book because it's true that it's a factor i considered. >> do you see my worry?
it's something untrue about her that people would have misperceived ends up being a factor of whether she's allowed to do her job. >> untrue about her, we never verified that -- >> you later investigated it and found it not to be true. you explained it to sunday night. >> i don't believe she did anything improper. >> james comey, the authority of lou "a higher loyalty." i'm sorry that i asked you 40,000 questions you were not allowed to answer. thank you for your lifetime of public service. i'm sorry the president ended it the way he did. >> me too thank you. >> that does it for us tonight, now it's now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." >> i've been sitting here, taking notes. i haven't misse