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Comey's Blockbuster Senate Testimony; May's U.K. Election Gamble Backfires. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 9, 2017 - 04:00   ET



JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: He asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay.

[04:00:02] And as I said what was odd about that is we'd already talked twice about it by that point and he had said, I very much hope you'll stay. I hope you'll stay.

Again, I could be wrong, but my common sense told me what's going on here is he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job. I created records after conversations and I think I did it after each of our nine conversations. I knew that there might come a day when I would need a record of what happened not just to defend myself but to defend the FBI.

I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document.

And it's my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.

The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly, the FBI, by saying that the organization was in disarray. That it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple.

And so, I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. I didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I very carefully chose the words. Look, I've seen the information about tapes, lordy, I hope there are tapes.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Lordy, I hope there are tapes.

This morning, we are hearing new information from Capitol Hill sources. They say Comey revealed in a closed door session right after that testimony you saw there, that here have been -- there may have been a third meeting between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Russian ambassador.

For a look at what's next in the investigation, CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.



The question is, where does this go from here? Democrats and top Democrat and the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee do plan to meet with Bob Mueller, the special counsel next week to discuss how to move forward on their investigation and see where it conflicts with the special counsel investigation. And one thing that the Senate Intelligence Committee wants are any taped communications, Comey's communication with President Trump.

I had a chance to talk with Mark Warner, the top Democrat, about that yesterday.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, it would be great if actually the president, or one of his many spokespeople would at least acknowledge whether they exist or not. I mean, I'm amazed that they have not even answered the press, whether there is an existence of a secret taping system in the White House. I mean, we have seen in past history that secret taping systems used by presidents don't end up in a very good position.

RAJU: Now, as you can see, did not rule out issuing a subpoena for those tapes, but the White House still not saying whether or not there are any tapes or that any device set up in the White House to tape communications between President Trump and anybody else. But that is a question investigators will continue to probe on Capitol Hill and the special counsel's office -- Boris and Christine.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Manu, thank you.

President Trump known as an aggressive counterpuncher, but he was keeping an unusually low profile in the wake of Comey's explosive testimony. His lawyers and allies, though, have come out swinging and they're all staying on message, claiming the president feels completely vindicated while attacking the credibility of the former FBI director.

Here's Trump's personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz.


MARC KASOWITZ, OUTSIDE COUNSEL TO PRES. DONALD TRUMP: The president never in form or substance directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including the president never suggested that Mr. Comey, quote, let Flynn go. The president also never told Mr. Comey, quote, I need loyalty. I expect loyalty, closed quote. He never said it in form and he never said it in substance.

Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those serving the administration, and from before the president took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications. Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.


SANCHEZ: And Kasowitz claims that Comey's testimony proves that president did not collude with Russians or try to obstruct the FBI investigation.

ROMANS: All right. That said, this investigation continues. President Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner is expected to meet with staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee as early as this month.

Now, it's not clear when he might actually meet with the committee members. Federal investigators are looking into Kushner's handling of the president's voter data operation during the campaign, as well as his relationship with the fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.

[04:05:05] They're also exploring if and how Kushner attempted to set up that backchannel to communicate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

SANCHEZ: All right. Let's bring in CNN political analyst and Princeton history professor Julian Zelizer, Michael Moore, former U.S. attorney for the middle district of Georgia, and, of course, CNN political analyst Josh Rogin. He's a columnist for "The Washington Post".

Gentlemen, good morning to you. Thank you for joining us.

I want to start with some sound. James Comey was asked point blank, why do you think you were fired? Here's his response.


SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: The president said I had dinner with him. He wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. Is this an accurate statement?

COMEY: No, sir.

KING: In that same interview, the president said, in one case, I called him and in one case he called me. Is that an accurate statement?


KING: Did you ever call the president.


KING: In his press conference on May 18th, the president asked whether he had urged you to shutdown the investigation into Michael Flynn, the president responded quote, no, no, next question. Is that an accurate statement?

COMEY: I don't believe it is.


SANCHEZ: That wasn't the exact sound bite we were looking for. But you guys all watched the testimony, you know that Comey said that he believed that the president wanted to put pressure on him to try to change the way that the Russian investigation was going. It's something the president admitted in an interview with Lester Holt, saying that Russia weighed into his decision to fire James Comey.

So, Michael, what would it take for that kind of, quote-unquote, pressure to cross the line and become obstruction of justice?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA: You know, often, the question of obstruction may become one that they decide in the House that may forward impeachment, or that's something that Bob Mueller will have to decide whether it crossed the line. But you're looking to see an obstruction case whether or not somebody puts with ill intent and motive pressure to act a certain way to kill off or have an effect on the investigation. In this case, I mean, it's pretty clear and I think some strong evidence that we're getting close to that place, with the fact that the president cleared the room when he tried to put the pressure on Comey. And Comey took that and recognized that and record it in his memo.

So, I think that gets pretty close to where the president's (INAUDIBLE) I don't care how they spin it, I don't care how his lawyer talks about, what I heard Jim Comey say yesterday was without a doubt, he felt like the president was trying to exert pressure on him as his superior to kill off an investigation that ultimately had some impact either on the campaign or on people close to Trump or Trump himself.

SANCHEZ: Michael, what about this question of hope? Trump's attorney is saying that that doesn't mean that he directed him to do anything, saying that he hoped that this Flynn thing would go away. How does that play in?

MOORE: You know, I think that it has no penalty when they make that argument. And I've said this and I think this is one way to think about it. When the president clears the back room and he says I sure hope you can help me out. That's an indication that, in fact, that's what he wants to happen.

If your job gets you in trouble, you take them into the back room and you're going to have a talk with them, and you say, I sure hope you adjust your attitude today.

ROMANS: Right.

MOORE: I sure you (INAUDIBLE) when you go to school, that's not you asking about it and do it, or you're expressing some kind of desire naturally what you hope for. You're basically sending a message about straighten up this is what I expect. That's the message --

ROMANS: When the boss says, I hope you get those numbers in by tend of the quarter, you get the numbers in by tend of the quarter.

MOORE: That's exactly --

ROMANS: Josh Rogin, let me bring into this because we haven't heard your thoughts on this. So, there's one narrative here that yesterday we heard the tale of the bragger or the bully versus the Boy Scout, right? And James Comey is the Boy Scout.

Then you hear the post-game from the RNC who says nobody thinks more about James Comey than James Comey, and from others who say, oh, come on, you know, this is all too good to be true. This all shocks James Comey, you know, law man rule. You know, the president is just new. This is a president being the president, the way he is. This is what you elected, an outsider to come in and try to, you know, get things done.

Where is the reality in the narrative here?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The reality is you have two different public figures here. One with a very long track record of telling misstatements and falsehoods and even lies, and one with a very long track record of upholding higher standards of truthfulness and conduct, and one who meticulously documented these interaction to this evidence, that is, contemporaneous accounts matched with the ones he gave yesterday.

So, you know, there's clearly an effort to muddy James Comey's reputation lead by the president himself.

[04:10:05] But the truth is that in a contest of credibility, it's really no contest at all. So, you know, in the sense that this comes down to a he said he said the president is in a much worse position and James Comey is both statements that he recorded at the time and the ones that he's giving now will carry much more weight both with the investigators, with Robert Mueller, and especially with the American public.

So, you know, of course, we're going to see these attempts to sort of --


ROGIN: -- you know, paint the president as more credible than James Comey, but it just doesn't hold water.

SANCHEZ: Julian, I'm interested to getting your thoughts on the political implications of this. Unfortunately, we're out of time for this segment, but we know you gentlemen will be back in the next half hour. And we thank you for being up early for us.

Julian Zelizer, Michael Moore and Josh Rogin, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. They're not leaving. Breaking news from the U.K., a staunch Trump ally faces her uncertainty future an election surprise. What a gridlock parliament means for U.S.-British relations just ahead.


[04:15:09] SANCHEZ: An earthquake in British politics as Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party loses majority control. May suffering a stunning election setback that defied all the polls. She is now also in jeopardy of losing her job. There's already calls for May to step down.

Her Conservative Party hemorrhaging seats in Thursday's snap election.

So, what does this mean for Britain and for relations with the United States?

Let's go live to London and bring in chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

Christiane, this is kind of an unforced error. May didn't need to have this election.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Boris, you are absolutely right, and, of course, it's official. It is a hung parliament. In this brilliant and august building behind me, we still do not know who -- which party is going to be able to form a government.

Theresa May will get an option to try, to cobble together some kind of a coalition with the smaller party and if she fails to be able to do that, it will go to the opposition party to try to do what they can to try to form some kind of minority government. In other words, things are snafued over here. And as you said, this was an on goal.

Theresa May had a majority. She didn't need to call a snap election. In fact she called one having said she was not going to call an election. There were fixed terms to parliament in this country and she defied that in April by saying, let's go, because she thought that she could get a stronger mandate, a bigger super majority, and that would propel her into secure party leadership and also into negotiations on her terms, she hoped, with Brexit.

That is now all up in the air. The one thing that we can say and that will interest American viewers and viewers around the world is that it is considered that this result basically puts a very hard Brexit, in other words Britain getting out of the single market, getting out of the customs unit, just falling off of the edge and getting out of the E.U. puts that project back on hold. The question is, where does Britain go next?

As for relations with the United States, Britain always had good relations -- a special relationship with the United States under a labor oratory government throughout its history. So, that is not in jeopardy.

SANCHEZ: Christiane Amanpour, reporting live from London, we'll see you again shortly. Thank you, Christiane.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Christiane, this morning.

You know, the pound dropping against the dollar overnight, below $1.27, worried that the U.K. election results, what they mean for the future of Brexit. Britain voted last June to leave the E.U., the exact terms will determine the country's economic future. Well, Brexit probably won't be reversed, it could be delayed.

Prime Minister Theresa May officially began that process in March. Negotiations are set to start in just ten days and the E.U. won't agree to anything if there's no clear governing party. That could push back the planned March 2019 exit.

A so-called hung parliament could also impact the final deal. May promised a clean break from, removing Britain from the E.U.'s trading area, but U.K.'s Labor Party called for a softer strategy. They want to keep the benefits of a single market.

This political uncertainty won't help the U.K.'s economic slow down. Its first quarter growth was the weakest in Europe. Look at that. Investors want to know the access U.K. businesses will have to Europe in the future.

Not everyone is waiting. Some banks are already moving jobs out of the U.K. over fears of lost business.

SANCHEZ: The silver lining is if you were planning on going to the U.K., now is the time to do it.

ROMANS: Yes, the pound below $1.27, yes.

SANCHEZ: An NSA contractor accused of leaking pleading not guilty in court. Details about Reality Leigh Winner's appearance before a judge, next.


[04:23:04] SANCHEZ: Reality Leigh Winner has pled not guilty. She is the 25-year-old NSA contractor accused of leaking classified documents. A federal judge in Georgia denying bail for the former Air Force linguist. Winner is accused of using a thumb drive to download an illegally transmit top secret information about Russian hacking efforts. She faces a maximum of ten years in prison.

Prosecutors are not trying to link her to terrorism, but they said that she wrote in a notebook that she wanted to burn the White House down.

ROMANS: A U.S. fighter jet fired down a drone that fired on coalition troops patrolling in Southern Syria. Officials say it's the first time pro-Syrian regime forces have attacked the U.S.-led coalition. The F-15 aircraft took out the Iranian drone after it dropped a weapon near coalition personnel. They were there training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

SANCHEZ: The big story of the day, of the week, the bombshell testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.

What Comey's statements mean for the Russia investigation just ahead.



[04:28:19] COMEY: There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle.


ROMANS: The road ahead for the Russia probe after former FBI Director James Comey directly contradicts President Trump's claims in sworn testimony. What will Comey's statements change?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

SANCHEZ: Pleasure to be here with you, Christine. I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Dave Briggs. We are 28 minutes past the hour.

And with James Comey's explosive testimony now in the history books, the big question becomes what happens next in the Russia investigation? How will it affect the Senate probe or the work of independent counsel Robert Mueller as he builds a possible obstruction of justice case? We're going to have more on that in just a moment.

ROMANS: But, first, Comey's testimony. The fired FBI director laying out his meetings with President Trump in stunning new detail, all under oath, describing with dramatic flair the president's demand for loyalty and his apparent desire to influence the Russia probe. Comey accused the president of lying multiple times, accusing the president of lying.

And Comey admitted he leaked material from the memos he says he kept to protect himself and the bureau. Listen.


COMEY: He asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. And as I said, what was odd about that is we'd already talked twice about it by that point and he'd said I very much hope you'll stay. I hope you'll stay.

Again, I could be wrong, but my common sense told me what's going on here is he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job.

I created records after conversations and I think I did it after each of our nine conversations. I knew that there might come a day when I would need a record of what happened not just to defend myself, but to defend the FBI.