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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
House Intel Committee Requests Comey Memos, Any WH Tapes; Trump Denies Asking Comey for Loyalty or to Drop Flynn Probe; Sen. Feinstein Calls for Obstruction of Justice Investigation; AG Sessions Testifies Before Senate Panel Tuesday. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired June 9, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:01:59] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Lordy, there's a lot of breaking news tonight, most of it stemming from the president's reaction of James Comey's Senate testimony. There's the House of Intelligence Committee's request for any White House tapes of the Comey conversation. There's the commitment he made this afternoon, the president, to testify himself about it under oath. There are the implication of that and all the doors it opens legally and politically. We'll be talking about that and much more in the hour ahead. First though, the president's pretty remarkable day and CNN's Jim Acosta.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Speaking as he tweets in short bursts, President Trump tried to have it both ways, clinging to the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey as his salvation while also slamming the man he fired in the same breath.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No collusion. No obstruction. He's a leaker.
ACOSTA (voice-over): During a news conference with the Romanian president, Mr. Trump denied he tried to shut down the Russia probe, specifically when it comes to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that. I mean, I will tell you, I didn't say that.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president also rejected the notion that he asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty as the former FBI director said in sworn testimony.
TRUMP: I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean, think of it. I hardly know the man. It doesn't make sense. No, I didn't say that.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump's response when asked whether he would speak under oath on the matter.
TRUMP: 100 percent.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But the president dug in his heels on the question of whether he has recordings of his conversations with Comey and others at the White House.
TRUMP: I will tell about you that maybe sometime in the very near future. I will tell you about it over a very short period of time, OK? OK. Do you have a question here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you tell us about the tapes?
TRUMP: Over a fairly short period of time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there tapes, sir?
TRUMP: You're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don't worry.
ACOSTA (voice-over): In their response to the Comey testimony, Democrats are eager for the president to tell all he knows, under oath, with special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: I would expect at some point, not right away, but at some point that Mr. Mueller would feel he has to depose the president.
ACOSTA (voice-over): One subject, the president was not asked about his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The White House has danced around whether the president has confidence in the attorney general. Even some Republicans say it's time to know more about Session's interactions with the Russians during the campaign.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We, on the Intelligence Committee, want to know the answers to those questions. And we have begun to request information from the attorney general to allow us to get to the bottom of that.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president was asked by a Romanian reporter whether he is committed to NATO's Article 5, which would mandate that the U.S. come to the defense of the alliance's more vulnerable nations on Russia's border.
TRUMP: I'm committing the United States and have committed, but I'm committing the United States to Article 5. And certainly we are there to protect. And that's one of the reasons that I want people to make sure we have a very, very strong force by paying the kind of money necessary to have that force. But, yes, absolutely I'd be committed to Article 5.
[21:05:07] ACOSTA (voice-over): Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
BERMAN: So you saw the president there being just a little coy or maybe a lot coy when asked whether tapes of his conversations with James Comey even exist. He offered a vague timeline for releasing them if, in fact, there's anything for release. In this case he said, very shortly. Now, if that all sounds familiar, there's good reason, whether as a citizen or a candidate or now as president, Donald J. Trump, the president, likes to talk timelines, whether or not he actually sticks to them.
More on that now from CNN Athena Jones who joins us now not far from Bedminster, New Jersey, where the president is spending the weekend at his golf course.
Athena, the president won't confirm that tapes of his conversations exist. What are you learning tonight?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. He is keeping the mystery alive here when it comes to these tapes or other kinds of audio recordings, perhaps a cellphone recording. We're still not getting a clear answer from the president or from his aides about this. But I can tell you that now you had another congressional committee is demanding those tapes. The House Intelligence Committee giving the White House until June 23rd, that's two Fridays from now, to produce these tapes, if they exist or any other sort of audio recording or records these conversations the president may have.
Now the House Intelligence Committee is joining the Senate Judiciary Committee which asked for any tapes that may exist about a month ago. So, still no answer of course to either of those committees.
BERMAN: And, Athena, there's late word about the Comey memos possibly being turned over to the Senate. What's the latest on that?
JONES: That's right. The key word there, though, John, is possibly. The Senate Judiciary Committee asked Daniel Richman -- school professor -- the director cited yesterday saying that's the friend he gave -- that he asked to talk about the memo to the press., one of the memos to the press. So the Judiciary Committee has asked Richman to deliver those memos.
And we learned late today from a source, my colleague Manu Raju spoke with, that Richman has been in touch with the Senate Judiciary Committee through the office of the special counsel, Bob Mueller, and says the matter will be resolved on Monday. But it's not clear what that means. It's not clear if that means he's going to hand over the memos or not. Certainly, one would expect that he would not be handing over any memos if they are not -- if Mueller does not believe they should be handed over. So we'll have to wait and see what happens there.
BERMAN: It means developments on Monday. Stay tuned. Athena Jones, thanks so much.
Plenty to talk about tonight, whether it's a president giving sworn testimony, the meaning of obstruction of justice, the quality of the legal advice he's getting and more. We've retained our own counsel to help make sense of it all. Alan Dershowitz and Laura Coates. Laura Coates, we just learned that Feinstein, who's the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked to launch an investigation in that committee specifically on the issue of obstruction of justice. She wants to know if there was any obstruction of justice independent of the Russia investigation. And she specifically says she also wants to look into the director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and whether or not he was asked to intervene in the investigation into Michael Flynn. If there is a congressional committee that ultimately looks into this as well as of the special counsel, does that increase the jeopardy here?
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It certainly does. Remember, the congressional probe has a very different goal than the criminal objective. The criminal objective is to actually see if criminal charges should be brought and if prosecution is appropriate for any of the above mentioned parties.
If the congressional committee is looking into it, their focus is different. They're trying to figure out -- there's a legislative agenda or initiative that has to take place to try to correct issues like this from happening in the first place or to set parameters in place to ensure it doesn't happen again. So the probe focus is different. The questioning may be the same but the ultimate objective is very, very different.
BERMAN: Professor Foley, I know you are skeptical to say the least that obstruction of justice was committed here. But when you hear Senator Feinstein say she wants to also focus on DNI Coats, the director of National Intelligence Coats, who "The Washington Post" reported, was asked to intervene. The president asked Dan Coats to intervene allegedly to stop the investigation or asked them to stop investigating Michael Flynn on certain matters.
If you have that request to Dan Coats in addition to the conversation that James Comey reported yesterday, does that indicate some sort of pattern?
ELIZABETH FOLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: No. I don't see why it would change the calculus legally at all. I mean, you know, you can add a conspiracy charge, I suppose, to your obstruction allegation. But my basic objection to any use of obstruction under the facts as we know them today is that all the obstruction statutes either address obstruction of investigations or obstruction of pending proceedings. And you look at this fact scenario and you say, well, this is an investigation.
[21:10:03] And there's a statute that deals with obstruction of pending criminal investigations that's called Section 15 of Title 18 of the United States code. But it requires very specific elements. It requires an act of bribery that prevents a communication about a crime to a criminal investigator. And there's no indication of such bribery here.
But if you want to use the more broad obstruction statutes, these pending proceedings, obstruction statutes, while they are broader in their language and don't have that bribery element, you still have the problem that there's not a pending proceeding. A pending proceeding means a queasy judicial or judicial proceeding. And an FBI investigation has been held by every court to look at that language, not to be a pending proceeding.
BERMAN: Page Pate, you don't see it like that.
PAGE PATE, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ATTORNEY: I don't see it like that. I mean, it is true that the statutes are fairly well-defined and there are certain key elements that you have to meet. But some courts have held that a federal investigation can qualify, a DEA investigation, one court found was sufficient.
But, John, I think we're focusing on the wrong thing. It's not the legal definition under the statute that matters. It's what Congress thinks obstruction is that matters. Because if they're pursuing their own independent probe, if they're going to consider impeachment, at the end of the day, the only definition that matters is what Congress thinks the president did. Was it an impeachable offense? Was it a high crime? Did he attempt to obstruction the investigation? That's the definition that's important.
BERMAN: You know, Professor Dershowitz, you have even a different take on this, which is essentially to suggest that the president can influence investigations if he wants to. It's within his rights to weigh in on investigations from a legal perspective. But what about Page's point there that from a political perspective, which is when Congress -- if Congress decides to get involved, they may be judging along different lines.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, you know, we don't know what the law of impeachment is. Nobody knows what the law of impeachment is. There has never been an attempt to judicially review the law of impeachment. Technically, of course, Congress cannot beat the president by jaywalking. Essentially that's what they did with Bill Clinton.
If I were a lawyer for an impeached president, I would bring the case to the Supreme Court and I would expect that those who believe in applying the words of the Constitution would say, look, you really have to see whether there is bribery, treason, high crime and misdemeanor, and if none of those criteria met, you can have an impeachment.
But I want to focus for a minute on the big picture rather than the technical words in the statute. There are two basic questions. Did the president have the constitutional authority to fire Comey and try to prevent the investigation of Flynn? The best evidence that he does have that authority is Comey testified to that yesterday. He said, unequivocally, that the president would have had the authority to tell him directly, do not investigate Flynn. Of course, he could have pardoned Flynn, that would have ended the investigation. And he testified and said over and over again the president had the authority to fire him.
So if that's the case, then the fundamental question that people have not really been focusing on is, can the president commit a crime, any crime, by simply exercising his constitutional power? Of course, if he bribes and he destroys evidence, if he lies to an FBI official, of course, those are crimes. But by simply exercising his constitutional authority to fire and to direct the director not to investigate Flynn, can that be a crime? I think the answer to that is obviously no. You cannot commit a crime.
No matter what your motive or intent is, if you don't have the act of disgrace, the act of criminality, and the act of criminality can't be constitutionally protected implementation of a president's authority. It seems to me that's a relatively simple analysis.
BERMAN: It will be interesting to see if Bob Mueller shares your view of that and ultimately whether these congressional committees share your view of that. We're going to have more with the panel after a quick break.
And later, Attorney General Jeff Sessions due in front of a Senate panel. We're going to preview the questioning he is likely to get on all of this, and more as "360" continues.
[21:17:39] BERMAN: We're talking with our legal panel about the president's pledge to give sworn testimony about his conversations with James Comey. The implications of that as well as all where Director Comey's Senate testimony leaves him with respect to the law in several varieties of possible political jeopardy.
Professor Dershowitz back with us. Professor, today the president said he'd be willing to testify under oath. If you were his attorney, would you advise him do this?
DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely not. That's what got Bill Clinton into a trouble. You never, ever advise a client to testify under oath. You don't want to get into he said he said contest with Comey. Comey has a long track record of being very credible. President Trump unfortunately does not have a long track record.
And I think that to expose your client to the jeopardy of a possible perjury prosecution or a perjury impeachment or -- remember, Bill Clinton got disbarred from perjury, would be a very, very serious mistake. And he doesn't have do it.
BERMAN: And just to follow up though, Professor. So just to follow up, to be clear here, you don't think the president did anything wrong. So you are saying that even though you don't think he did anything wrong here, that it would be foolish to agree to testify under oath?
DERSHOWITZ: I think the president did a lot of things wrong. I just don't think he did anything criminal. He did a lot of things wrong. He never should have had that conversation with Comey. He never should have fired Comey. He never should have done many of the things he did. They're wrong.
And I think a lot of his critics conflate doing wrong with doing criminal. And the only thing I focused on as a criminal law expert and constitutional law expert is has he committed the crime of obstruction of justice or any other crime? And I'm clear the answer to that is no. I'm less clear about impeachable offense just because we don't know impeachable offenses are. But as far as whether he did wrong, I think he did wrong.
BERMAN: You know, it's interesting, Elizabeth because -- Professor Foley, because, you know, President Trump has testified under oath as a private citizen before. He's been a part of many civil dispositions. In 2007, you know, "The Washington Post" reports they counted 30 lies in a deposition right there. You know, what evidence can you point to that indicates that President Trump should feel safe or comfortable testifying under oath?
FOLEY: There's no evidence I can point to that should make him feel safe. I agree 100 percent with Alan on this one. This is a snake pit. It can only go wrong.
[21:20:03] I would never advise a sitting president to sit for a deposition. He should fight it tooth and nail. And by the way, Alan is 100 percent correct when he says that as long as the president is acting within his constitutional wheelhouse, there's absolutely no way he could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice. So, beyond the statute simply being inapplicable here, there's a larger constitutional question.
And it's not a situation where the president is above the law. I've heard that a couple of times. He is the law. The Constitution Trump sends his statutes, and this is what the --
BERMAN: Yes. Absolutely. Except that the check on that is -- and I'm using the "I" word here because that's literally what the check is. The check is impeachment.
FOLEY: That's right.
BERMAN: That's the only thing he is not above. It's Congress acting. And Congress, as Professor Dershowitz points out, get to decide when and how to apply that. Laura Coates, to you on the issue of testifying under oath, the president volunteered. He said 100 percent he'd be willing to do it. If he decides that maybe that's not such a great idea, can he be compelled to testify?
COATES: Well, now that he volunteered to do so and if, in fact, the Comey memos have been forwarded to Mueller as he suggested in his testimony, suggests that he is now perhaps the subject of whether or not there should be an allegation or investigation into obstruction, he could certainly be compelled to do so. But he compelled politically as well because -- by volunteering, he wrote a check that he didn't have the political capital to withdraw at this point the funds from. So you have that issue.
But to suggest as the professors have been talking about that the president is somehow immunized if he is exercising his constitutional duty from an ongoing investigation that has yet to conclude whether or not there has been full obstruction or any other crimes would be erroneous and misleading to the public.
So I want to clarify for people to understand that the issue, even if you concede the point, even -- and I'm not -- but if you concede the point that what the testimony indicated yesterday did not amount to obstruction. Certainly if the motivation to fire Director Comey was based on an attempt to obstruct justice or impede justice, then that is the relevant point in time to fixate on. And if I'm not doing so, you undermine your own arguments.
BERMAN: I want to move on to the tapes, if I can. The alleged tapes, the perhaps tapes, the maybe not tapes. You know, Page Pate, the president, you know, was coy, played coy, which is a nice way of saying he wouldn't answer the questions today after the White House hasn't been able to answer the questions for the last month or so. And if tapes exist of the conversations of the -- between the president and James Comey here, if there are tapes, can the president be forced to turn them over?
PATE: Well, I mean, that's an ultimate question, John, that I think the White House is going to have to answer. The first issue I think they have to deal with is, were there tapes at all? And I think they do have to acknowledge whether or not the conversations were taped. And if they were taped, they have to preserve those tapes as a record of presidential communications.
Now, they can fight the production of those tapes if Congress tries to get them, if Congress subpoenas them, if a court later attempts to get them. We've been through this process before with President Nixon. So we know that they have the ability to fight the production but they got to keep the tapes if they have them.
BERMAN: Professor Dershowitz, do they have a legal right not to answer the question? They have dodged this question, dodged and weaved from the president down to the White House staff. Is there a legal right for them just to not answer it?
DERSHOWITZ: They have to be asked it under compulsion. So far, of course the president has -- anybody, any citizen has the right to answer any -- not to answer any question. You can ask me a question on the show I don't have to answer it. But if I'm in front of a grand jury or I'm in front of congressional committee, then of course I have to answer unless I can claim executive privilege.
Now they can't claim executive privilege on tapes. But I think in the end, the courts would -- if there were probable cause to believe that there were tapes that may contain information that could lead toward some kind of evidence of criminality, they'll lose. Nixon lost. They'll lose. And the one thing I would strongly suggest is do not destroy any tapes. Do not create an 18-minute gap. Do not do anything that constitutes any kind of a coverup because that's the one thing every prosecutor looks for.
BERMAN: Well Professor Dershowitz, based on the fact the president has been re-tweeting you, I get the sense he will listen to your advice. Alan Dershowitz, Elizabeth Foley, Page Pate, Laura Coates, thanks so much.
COATES: Thank you.
PATE: Thank you.
FOLEY: Thank you.
DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.
BERMAN: James Comey's testimony is over, but there's a lot on deck in the Russia investigations on Capitol Hill. We'll tell who you is appearing next week before Senate committee and what we know about whether Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn will testify.
[21:28:20] BERMAN: The Comey testimony was big. But there's still a lot to come in the multiple ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the election and ties -- alleged ties to the Trump campaign.
House and Senate committees have subpoenaed former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, so he may end up testifying. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in the hot seat this coming Tuesday. And the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner is expected to be interviewed by Senate staff soon. Brianna Keilar joins me now with the latest.
So, Brianna, the next big moment seems to be what Jeff Sessions will say when he testifies before the Senate next week. What can we expect?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPODENT: I think we can expect a grilling -- and actually we'll be watching it during your hours on CNN. So this is going to be -- we expect an intense hearing. It was previously scheduled to discuss the Justice Department's budget. I think we -- it is fair to say that is not what they're going to talk about.
You recall that Sessions, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, did not disclose and certainly did not disclose as he was heading into the administration, that he had two meetings with the Russian ambassador and now CNN has been reporting that there's been an investigation, as Jim Comey said to senator yesterday, into a possible third encounter, maybe not a meeting, maybe an encounter. But these are the questions that he'll be asked and how forthcoming he is on the answers is going to be really fascinating. We don't know how forthcoming he is going to be in an open session.
BERMAN: You know, indeed. And he has run into trouble for some past testimony before the Senate. Brianna, any better sense tonight on how crucial the back and forth between the president and Comey could be in terms of the special counsel's investigation?
KEILAR: Some people are looking to the past. They look at Ken Starr and Bill Clinton and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. And they point out -- I heard this from my colleague Ron Brownstein today, he said one of the things that led to an article of impeachment was a he said- she said between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in that grand jury testimony. That was actually something that Ken Starr push forward and the Congress used in impeachment.
[21:30:12] But legal minds here looking at this don't think that unless there are tapes that can corroborate what Comey said can show that President Trump has not been honest. They don't think that he would really push forward in the same way.
BERMAN: And as for Jared Kushner being interviewed by Senate staff, do we know precisely when that will be and whether it would be under oath?
KEILAR: We know precisely the imprecise time that he is going to be talking to them. It could be as soon as the middle of this month. It could be as late as the beginning of next month. But, he's going to be talking behind closed doors. So we're not actually going to see it.
And then there's a question of whether it's going to be under oath. We do know there will be mutually agreed upon terms between the committee and Jared Kushner's lawyers. We don't know exactly what those are going to be, but this is something that, of course, will be fascinating.
A number of issues, Jared Kushner having contacts with a Putin associate, close associate, the head of that state-owned bank, Russian bank. But most importantly I would say, this issue of him trying to establish a line of communication during the transition with Russia in an attempt it appears to conceal that communication from the then current administration, the Obama administration.
BERMAN: A lot going on. Brianna Keilar, thanks so much.
KEILAR: You bet.
BERMAN: All right, lots to talk about now. Joining me Kirsten Powers, Scott Jennings, Maria Cardona, Matthew Nussbaum, Carl Bernstein, Jeffrey Lord, and Philip Mudd.
Matt, first to you. Refresh me, you're new on the panel here so I want to start with you. And if I can, I want to start with the tapes. You cover the White House. What do you make of the president's comments today playing coy with the idea, "Maybe I'll let you know if I have tapes pretty soon?"
MATTHEW NUSSBAUM, REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, he is the reality T.V. president and we know that he loves to build suspense and that's what he's been doing with the tapes. It just seems to us observers like there are no tapes. If there are, you would imagine we would have found out by now. But, the White House has refused to take questions on that.
Today you said Trump had -- you know, I'll tell you guys in a little while. So, I don't know if we're going to get an answer on that. But I think James Comey will not get his wish. It does not appear there are going to be tapes of those conversations.
BERMAN: Probably we'll get an answer by June 23rd, because the House Intelligence Committee now asking for some kind of answer if they push it.
Kirsten Powers, Jeff Sessions testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee, but it's not going to be about appropriations. They have a lot of questions for him and he's in an interesting spot, right?
You know, the Senate is skeptical of him because he had a run-in during his confirmation hearing when he testified about things and he had to correct it later on. And the president, you know, took 48 hours to even suggest whether or not he had confidence in him this week. So Jeff Sessions is going to have an interesting time.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. Well, I think, you know, it's just always a problem when you forget to tell about meetings or contacts that you have with the Russians, which seems to be a recurring theme with people who are associated with Trump.
And I think that's why a lot of people have a lot of suspicions is because it just seems like when something was so central to the election that you would remember these things. And so I do think that, yes, we'll probably have a lot more interest in those kinds of relationships than, you know, other sort of regular business.
BERMAN: You know, there's been reporting about the questions about whether there was yet a third meeting --
BERMAN: -- between Jeff Sessions and the ambassador. He will be asked I imagine, you know, under oath outright when he's sitting there whether or not that happened.
POWERS: Yeah, yeah. Right. And that, again, we go back -- when you have all of the problems that he had when he had forgotten the other meeting, then you think how could there be a third meeting that you wouldn't remember? It's just -- it's puzzling that there are so many connections to Russia and then also that they're forgotten.
BERMAN: Scott Jennings, now there's Dianne Feinstein in the Senate Judiciary Committee writing a letter at Chuck Grassley, the chair, saying, "Hey, look, we need a separate investigation into obstruction of justice." Is there any chance, you know, under the moon and the sun that Chuck Grassley will agree to that?
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASST. TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: No. I think Dianne Feinstein, you know, she had actually said some rather reasonable things until this and she's probably getting a lot of angry phone calls from her constituents about it who tend to be more liberal than the rest of the country. So now she's got to respond to them. So, no, I don't.
And that's why you have the special counsel investigation. Isn't that what they're supposed to be looking into? And so it seems more of a political letter to me than anything. And so, look, on this Russian stuff, I don't think anyone is disputing. These people are bad people. They intervene all over the world.
Qatar this week, we saw them trying to miss around out there. It doesn't necessarily mean they have to collude with someone to do it. And so I think it's all these questionings are going on, investigations need to happen. Let see where it takes us before we all hop on our jumping conclusion mess.
BERMAN: It's interesting. You said everyone agrees. James Comey testified yesterday that the president never talked to him or never seemed curious at all about Russian meddling in the U.S. election or Russia around the world. So he might be an exception to your every one rule.
Maria Cardona, you heard the push back there on Dianne Feinstein with Scott was saying, look, there is a special counsel investigating right now. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which Dianne Feinstein sits on, just held hearings yesterday. So why do you need this separate investigation?
[21:35:05] MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, because I think, first of all, you know, members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate, that is part of their role, right? They have various oversight roles. But I think, you know, we talked about this a little bit earlier that the fact that Dianne Feinstein is asking for this I think really indicates both the level of frustration with the Trump White House and Republicans, but mostly the Trump White House which hasn't seemed to understand the enormity of what Russia has done.
I wish they would agree with you, Scott. But, clearly, the president does not, because he's never said a bad word about Russia or bad word about Vladimir Putin. But, I also think it indicates that we are in a different space now.
After the James Comey testimony, as much as Trump and his supporters want to claim victory, it was completely the opposite. It was a debacle for them. And so, you know, this -- like I said before, this dark cloud has now become a funnel cloud and they're in a tough spot.
BERMAN: I heard (inaudible) that Jeffrey Lord laughing at there. We will get to you in, Jeffrey, in a second. But, Philip Mudd is new to our panel tonight. I want to get a question to him and there is a significant development tonight for learning that this friend of James Comey who was the one that got the memo and released it to the media is now communicating with the Senate Judiciary Committee through the special counsel's office. That's an interesting little twist there. What does it tell you?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: It tells me a couple of things. First, if I were out there looking for information in this investigation and I'm in the Congress, I would not be going to a friend of James Comey.
The FBI has all the memos and the former director by releasing one of them in my judgment -- I'm not a lawyer, but in my judgment by releasing one of them to the public has pretty much given a free ticket to the Congress to say, "Hey, if you're giving this stuff out to the public via one of your friends, how can the FBI or the special counsel come to us and say we can't see it?"
I think its right for those conversations to be going through the special counsel. I think the special counsel investigation, which we never hear about, is far more significant than the congressional investigations. But there has to be a focal point process here to make these judgments.
I just think Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is in a tough place. How do you say to the Congress no when the media has it?
BERMAN: All right, more to talk about. Coming up, a timeline of events from the president's vague threat about taped conversations with James Comey to his firing and beyond. What Comey said about what he did when and why, next?
[21:41:25] BERMAN: All right, one thing is clearer than ever after fired FBI Director James Comey's testimony, someone isn't telling the truth. They're each accusing the other of lying and one of them has to be it says simply of that. So what emerge from Comey's testimony is precise timeline of events, some of the pieces of which we had before. Tom Foreman puts them all together.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To hear James Comey tell it, he leaked his private notes of meetings with the president only after the final straw, the president tweeting, "James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations."
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: My judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square. And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter.
FOREMAN (voice-over): But that's not the whole story. The president's tweet came a day after "The New York Times" had already cited key allegations that match verbatim part of Comey's notes and three days after Comey had been fired.
TRUMP: He's a showboat. He's a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Complicating it further, Comey says all the way back in January, around the inauguration, he suspected he had a problem when President Trump allegedly told him he expected loyalty, which the president disputes.
COMEY: And I then said, "You'll always have honesty from me." He said, "Honest, loyalty." And then I exceeded to that as a way to end this awkwardness. FOREMAN (voice-over): Then two and a half weeks later, another meeting according to Comey in which the president said he hopes Comey can let go of the investigation of dismissed national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
COMEY: That's how I understood. Yes, sir.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Over the next two months, Comey says the president presses him repeatedly to get out word that he the president was not under investigation, to remove the cloud of suspicion hampering his new administration. Some of it is so troubling, Comey says he's took notes.
COMEY: I knew that there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The president denies almost all of it.
TRUMP: I didn't say that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he lied about that?
TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that. I mean, I will tell you, I didn't say that.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Monday, May 8th it comes to a head. The president calls the Russia investigation a hoax, a taxpayer funded charade. Comey has fired on Tuesday. Thursday, "The New York Times" publishes the first article alluding to details contained in Comey's now infamous private notes.
The president tweets about possible tapes on Friday, yet Trump's lawyer points out, "Comey said he did not leak his notes until the next Monday." Three and a half months after he said he was first alarmed over the president's behavior.
FOREMAN: So the president and the former FBI director have now called each other liars. And in this twisted timeline, it's hard to sort out who is telling the truth. But this seems clear, they can't both be. John?
BERMAN: All right. Tom Foreman, thanks so much.
Back now with the panel. Carl Bernstein, I want to go first to you. You think it's very important that we focus here on the big picture in general. How important is it in your mind this focus on the chain of events for James Comey, the fact that the memo he handed to his friend and then "The New York Times" story came out but there was a story about loyalty before that. Is that important in your mind?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It's important, but it also fits into the big picture. And the big picture is what the president did to shut down this investigation and also the underlying contacts with Russians, ethno-Russians, the contacts of his businesses with Russians, with Azerbaijan, with neighboring countries to Russia that were in the former Soviet Union.
[21:45:07] That's all this big picture that the investigators, including Mueller, who incidentally has hired the former assistant attorney general in charge of the fraud division to start looking at the finances of the Trump organization and the finances of people involved in the Trump campaign, this is a sprawling inquiry.
And part of it, a big part of it is the firing of Jim Comey because of the questions it does raise about obstruction of justice and the timeline is important in terms of trying to impeach Comey's testimony if indeed it's impeachable.
But let's keep our eye on the big picture here and the most important aspect of the big picture is that since he took office, and even before, the president has tried to impede, obstruct, shut down, demean, all investigations of things Russian. That's the big picture here.
BERMAN: Jeffrey Lord, your chance to talk about James Comey and his, you know, line of events.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, with all due respect to my friend, Carl, I think he is focusing on the small picture. And if we're going to go in for pictures, I want the big, big, big and biggest picture. I want everything.
I want what went on in the Obama administration, the Washington establishment to shut down Donald Trump. I want to know about Trump derangement syndrome and how that is affected the Washington establishment. I want to know about all of this.
Let's get it all out. Let's take everything Carl has said and multiply it by 1,000. Let's get it out there. Let's do it. Let's rumble as it were. That's a good thing.
BERNSTEIN: What is -- Jeffrey, what is it? What is it? You want it out there. What is it that you want out there?
LORD: Well, let's find out what was going on with the Clinton Foundation and the Russians. Let's find out what was going on with Hillary Clinton and the Russians. Let's find out with President Obama and whether or not he obstructed justice in that Fox clip or was trying to send a message.
Let's find out. Let's go to it. Let's get Loretta Lynch up there. Let's do all of this. Let's get Susan Rice. Come on, Carl, let's go. Let's rumble.
BERMAN: Carl, your response?
BERNSTEIN: My response is that we have an incumbent President of the United States who is under investigation as part of -- we need to find out what happened with the Russians and the campaign and whether or not there is collusion is part of that question, redoing what happen.
Look, if any crimes occurred in the Clinton administration, there is a Justice Department that is in place and has every ability to inquire, prosecute those crimes. And if there is --
LORD: So let's investigate.
BERMAN: Matt, I want to bring Matt.
BERNSTEIN: I believe there is an assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division. And thus far, I've seen no inclination of that assistant attorney general to prosecute those crimes, if they exist.
BERMAN: Hang on, guys. I want to bring Matthew Nussbaum into this.
BERNSTEIN: This is a really silly discussion.
BERMAN: And that's why I want to bring -- hang on, Jeffrey. I want to bring Matt Nussbaum into this, because Jeffrey over the course of the show has questioned whether or not Bob Mueller, you know, can run an efficient special counsel investigation. He's talk to a lot about James Comey. He's also brought up Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Loretta Lynch.
You cover the White House right now. Are you getting the sense from people close to this administration, you know, or surrogates like Jeffrey here, that there is an effort to draw focus away from the matter at hand here, a specific focus?
NUSSBAUM: Not to that extent of let's go look at the Clinton Foundation and the Russians and Hillary Clinton and the Russians. Hitting Hillary Clinton and hitting Barack Obama is always going to be fun for Republicans and it's always going to be a winner with some of their base. But this situation is so much bigger than that. That those normal talking points aren't going to work.
Hillary Clinton is not running for anything right now. Barack Obama is out of office. So, while those talking points, you know, are good standbys, they're more focused. RNC comes operation, the White House comes operation to an extent is more focus on painting Comey as this disgruntled ex-employee rather than going after Hillary Clinton.
BERMAN: All right. Guys, stay --
BERMAN: Carl, I'm -- we did run out of time here.
BERNSTEIN: -- Loretta Lynch, but that's OK.
BERMAN: I'm so sorry.
BERNSTEIN: We can talk about it in another time.
BERMAN: Carl Bernstein, I really appreciate it. Thanks so much, everyone. Anthony Bourdain get's Anderson to try a foie gras banana split. This is the best segue ever. Let's see how that turns out. They also chat about Bourdain's travels to the country of Oman, a trip that defied expectations for Bourdain when "360" continues.
[21:53:19] BERMAN: So Anthony Bourdain goes warm in this Sunday's episode of "Parts Unknown." He travels to the Arab nation of Oman from the sea to the sand. Anthony and Anderson recently sat down in a restaurant of La Sirena here in New York to take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So this upcoming episode is set in -- you go to Oman. What is that like?
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, "PARTS UNKNOWN" HOST: Yes.
COOPER: I know only one person that's been there.
BOURDAIN: Oman, it's funny. You know, we talk about Laos and Vietnam and about, you know, major conflicts. Maybe the most important not well known conflict in my lifetime was the British/Omani effort against an uprising in Oman.
COOPER: Wait, what is this?
BOURDAIN: This is a foie gras banana split. You have surely know what foie gras is.
COOPER: Foie gras is the --
BOURDAIN: Fattened liver of the goose or duck.
COOPER: Yeah. I actually like foie gras.
BOURDAIN: So it's incredible.
COOPER: So a lot of foie gras.
BOURDAIN: You know, it's an ice cream.
COOPER: Oh, it's an ice cream.
BOURDAIN: Well, it don't like ice cream form. Not loving that? Liver-flavored ice cream? I guess not.
COOPER: You know, when you think it's going to taste like coffee, I thought --
BOURDAIN: Right. COOPER: I knew what foie gras.
BOURDAIN: That was your mistake.
COOPER: I thought it was going it be coffee, like coffee ice cream, but then it's really liver.
BOURDAIN: So, I tell you this, you haven't been to Oman.
BOURDAIN: It is one of the most extraordinary countries I've ever been --
BOURDAIN: -- in 16, 17 years of traveling. Absolutely expectation defying.
COOPER: Much of it is desert, right?
BOURDAIN: This is the thing, the Empty Quarter is there, the world's largest san desert, which is in and of itself a thing of extraordinary beauty. Mountains, incredibly beautiful mountains with traditional mountain communities.
[21:55:09] Beaches, it is a monarchy that is a sultanate, but it is remarkably tolerant, incredibly welcoming and they've maintained their traditional architecture and the look and the beauty of the country without, you know, they don't have, like, Dubai or Abu Dhabi type modern architecture. They -- they've seemed to have struck a delicate balance.
COOPER: It sounds like a country you would go -- I mean, you would go back to. I mean, it sounds like kind of a cool --
BOURDAIN: Food is great. People are lovely, welcoming, proud. Even the people who disagree with the sultan, would like to see a more Democratic society, respect, admire, and are grateful to him. And then just, again, it is unspeakably beautiful. You know, I never do top travel destinations.
BOURDAIN: I mean, I would say that that's -- Oman has got to be one of the top travel destinations of the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. Don't miss the "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown" in Oman, 9:00 p.m. Sunday here on CNN. We'll be right back.