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Comey's Blockbuster Senate Testimony; U.K. Election Surprise; Alleged NSA Leaker in Court. Aired 3-3:30a ET
Aired June 9, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[03:00:09] JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It's my judgment that I was fired because of the Russian investigation. I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change the way the Russian investigation was being conducted.
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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: What's next to the Russia probes after the former FBI Director James Comey testimony? Did his comment about his interaction of President Trump and a firing change anything?
Good morning and welcome to Early Start. I'm Christine Roman.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Boris Sanchez in for Dave Briggs. Thank you so much for joining us.
ROMANS: Nice to see you.
SANCHEZ: Always good to see you, Christine. It is Friday's June 9th, 3:00 a.m. on the east coast and we have plenty to get to this morning. With James Comey's blockbuster testimony now on the history books, the big question becomes, what's next in the Russian investigations and how will it affect the Senate probe, with the Independent Counsel Robert Mueller as he built a possible obstruction of justice case. We're going to that in just a second.
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 what dramatic slayer (ph) the President's demand for loyalty and his apparent desire to influence the Russia probe. Comey accused the president of lying multiple times, and Comey admitted he leaked materials from the memos he says he kept to protect himself and the bureau. Listen.
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COMEY: If he asked especially of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. As I said what was odd about that is, we already talked twice about it by that point and he said I very much hope you'll stay, I could be wrong but my common sense told me what is going on here, he is looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay on the job.
I created records after the conversations and I think that I did it after each of my nine conversations. I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself by to defend the FBI. And was honestly concern that you might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I though it really important to document.
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 work force 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 the reporter, didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that may prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I very carefully chose the words, look, I have seen the tweet about the tapes, "Lordy," I hope there are tapes.
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SANCHEZ: Some strong testimony from the former FBI Director. And this morning Capitol Hill sources say that Comey also revealed in a close door session that there may have been a third meeting between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. But longer what's next in the investigation. We go to CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORT: Good morning, Christine and Boris. The question is where does this go from here? A Democrat and a Top Democrat and the top Republican on the Senate intelligence, they 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 the Senate Intelligence Committee wants are taped communications, that Comey's communications with President Trump. I had a chance to talk to Mark Warner, the top Democrat about that yesterday.
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RAJU: 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've seen in past history that secret taping systems used by Presidents don't end up in a very good position.
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RAJU: Now as you can see did not rule out issuing a subpoena for those tapes, but the White House not saying whether or not there are any tapes or any device set up in the White House to tape communications between President Trump and anybody else. But that is a question that investigators will continue to probe on Capitol Hill and the Special Counsel's Office. Boris and Christine?
ROMANS: All right, Manu thank you for that.
This morning President Trump laying low in the wake of Comey's explosive testimony. But his lawyers and allies have come out swinging. They're all staying on message insisting this President feels completely vindicated. And are going after Comey's credibility.
CNN's Sara Murray has more on the White House strategy and response.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Boris and Christine. Well, a man James Comey's testimony President Trump was restrained. He did not live tweet the event, he did not respond to reporters' questions later about what he thought about the testimony.
[03:05:04] But he did make sort of a veiled, reference, a hint, if you will, while speaking to evangelicals saying essentially we are all under siege and insisting that he will keep fighting for them. But for the most part, that President left it up to his allies and Special Counsel Marc Kasowitz to descent him. Now Marc Kasowitz who is the President personal lawyer insisted that Comey's testimony vindicating Trump.
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MARC KASOWITZ, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: The President never informed or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including the President never suggested that Mr. Comey "Let Flynn go." The President also never told Mr. Comey, "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty".
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 who are serving the administration. And from before this 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.
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MURRAY: Now Kasowitz latched on to the part of Comey's testimony where he said that President Trump was not under investigation at various points when he was the FBI Director. As for the White House, they also left to the President's defense, insisting the President is not a liar, that's after Comey said he started to document his interactions with Trump, because he was worried the President would misrepresent those conversations.
ROMANS: Thanks Sara. SANCHEZ: And the investigation continues though as President's son- in-law and adviser Jared Kushner is expected to meet with staff members of Senate Intelligence Committee as early this month. Now it's not clear when he might meet with the actual committee members. The Federal investigators are looking into Kushner's handling of the President voted data operation during the campaign and his relationship with fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
And they're also exploring if and how Kushner attempted to set up that reported back channel to communicate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
ROMANS: Well, let's bring in CNN's Political Analyst and Princeton History Professor Julian Zelizer and Michael Moore a former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Nice to see both of you this morning, Julian you were here with us for two full hours yesterday morning with our pre-game of what the Comey testimony would look like, what did you hear yesterday?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I thought Comey had some very shocks things to say. He explicitly called the President a liar and said he was in an atmosphere where he didn't trust the President to be alone in the room. He said some very damaging things about Jeff Sessions, suggesting there is more to the story that we know and that Session didn't do the right thing in these encounters. And he didn't come off as someone who wasn't telling the truth. There's a lot of criticism that can be made of him and that was not one of them.
ROMANS: But those are sort of supporters or believers. And James Comey, they see this as sort of the bully and the Boy Scout, they way this whole thing. Now the whole interaction went down.
ZELIZER: Yes, they do, and notably on the other side a lot of their Republicans we wondered what their reaction would be. And thus far they have not really broken from the President after yesterday.
ZELIZER: Interestingly the members of the committee, not all of them, the Republicans went after Comey, Senator Rubio did, but many others were asking legitimate questions, but still that Republican firewall protecting the President seems to hold after yesterday.
SANCHEZ: He also gave him quite a bit of fodder saying that Loretta Lynch asked him to strive the investigation and Hillary Clinton not as investigation but as a matter.
Michael, I want to go to you and play for a montage of James Comey essentially calling the President United States a liar. Listen to this.
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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: Then that same interview the President said, in one case I called him and one called me, is that an accurate statement?
KING: Did you ever call the President?
KING: In his press conference on May 18th, the President was asked whether he had urged you to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn. The President responded "No, no, next question," is that an accurate statement?
COMEY: I don't believe it is.
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SANCHEZ: In that sense, Comey believes that the President did urge him shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn. In your eyes Michael, does that constitute justice?
MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Yes, I think go for the question of obstruction. Well, can have something that half said about him than Bob Mueller.
[03:10:04] What I heard and I think what will be clear as they continue on in their investigation is that Comey felt like he was being told to shut down the investigation. And I don't care how they suspend it. I don't care what quips they come up with from the podium somewhere or, you know, what the talking point of the day may be.
Without question, Comey said he felt like that he was being told to close down the Mike Flynn investigation, no matter what words, no matter what tone. But integrate -- a place wherein (ph) I guess on the notion and the fact that Trump cleared the room and then said to him, I'm hoping you will do this. And that reminds me of sort of taking your child to the back room when they did something and saying I hope you adjust your attitude.
And so that is not a request. That's basically you say you're going to do this because that is what I'm telling you to do.
SANCHEZ: Right, I think it's important, Julian, a lot of Republicans are defending the President, including Paul Ryan, saying he is new to this, he doesn't know perhaps the extent of his power, but it signal something that he cleared the room of the attorney general, the vice president even his son-in-law and close adviser Jared Kushner.
ZELIZER: Yes, I mean first o all, that's not really a legitimate defense I think to say that he didn't know what he was doing or that he is new. And at the same time there was enough in Comey's testimony to suggest that both the President and others in the cabinet understood what was going on. And so Comey didn't present the picture of the outsiders in the Oval Office not really knowing what to do. It was much more calculated. And let's remember Comey began this was some very pointed statements if there was Russian intervention in this election. That was the framework and he was not subtle about this. It was yes, yes and yes. So I think three questions.
ROMANS: And he was right, yes. And I thought that was a powerful moment. And he said look, you know, the Russians aren't going after Democrats or Republicans, they're going out after the American Democratic system. And he hopes that, you know, there can be some bipartisanship as we go forward here.
I want to -- we heard I his own words to why he felt compelled to sit down and write this information down. I think we have, some sound where he explaining why he wrote all of this and was the factors were that kind of converge that rang a bell in his brain. He thought, I have to write this down.
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COMEY: The circumstances, the subject matter and the person I was interacting with, circumstances, first, I was alone with the President of the United States or the president-elect, soon to be president. The subject matter I was talking about, matters that touch on the FBI's core responsibility and that relate to the president-elect personally, and then the nature of the person.
I was honestly concerned that he may lie about the nature of our meeting so I thought it really important to document.
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ROMANS: That's really a remarkable thing to say about the commander in chief. I'm wondering and giving the response, Michael Moore from the President's personal attorney who said that Comey was wrong on some of these issues that the President did not ask for a loyalty pledge et cetera, et cetera. Is this privileged communication? What is the legal baring of these dear diaries, essentially after meeting with the President?
MOORE: I don't think it's privileged. I don't think they come forward and try to claim executive privilege. I think in the law there's a benefit of having an executive privilege. And I guess it's so the press can talk about policy, can talk about strategy that type of thing without fear that the information getting out in the public and putting those plans at risk.
What would privilege does not do is cover criminal misconduct or cover efforts and instruction or cover misdeeds. And so, I don't think that the privilege claim would survive at all. But I'm not surprised, they tell me decide to document and he's a trained investigator, this is what he does, what the FBI does. But at the same time all you had to do was watch the campaign.
And I think probably watching a few clips of the last year and a half before this meeting took place he was well grounded in his belief that the things that came out of then president-elect's mouth probably couldn't be trusted. And that he may need to do something to verify his account of that meeting.
SANCHEZ: Julian Zelizer, Michael Moore, we thank you for being up early for us. A lot still to get through we haven't press the surface of the political implication of this document.
ROMANS: I know, and the response from the White House from Republican so we'll get to that in the moment. Thanks guys.
[03:14:30] SANCHEZ: Breaking news from the U.K. though, a staunch Trump ally faces an uncertain future, after an election surprise with Theresa May's loss in parliament means her Brexit and the U.S.-British relations, that more next.
SANCHEZ: An earthquake in British politics as Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party loses majority control. May is suffering a stunning election setback that defied all the polls. She's now also in jeopardy of losing her job. There are 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 now live to London. We bring in CNN's Nina dos Santos.
Nina, yet another election surprise in Britain?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Boris. A big election surprise here and what we've seen is still a lot of frustrating going on throughout the course of night. A lot of questions about who is going to be able to form the next government.
If you look at the math of this hour, just a few seats to go after 650 that were up for grabs in the House of Parliament. It seems that the Conservative Party, although, they haven't picked up the 326 seats that they needed, they lost that majority. So this is a big political gamble for Theresa May that she appears to have lost.
But they could just about cobble together enough seats to form some kind of working government for the time being if they partnered up with say the Northern Irish Party, the DUP. Having said that though, the question remains over Teresa May's own future, as I was saying before, she has gambled on this, she has lost and she may face a particular leadership challenge from the side in her party, the Conservative Party is well-known for a brutal leadership challenges that are often very public.
For the moment, British media is saying that Theresa May plans to cling onto power at least at the present. But the big question is who will lead this country from here on? We're seeing the uncertainty of those questions play out already in the stock markets, particularly when it comes to the British pound if you're a U.S. viewer watching from America. [03:20:05] Those holidays here in Great Britain are going to get even cheaper because the British pound has fallen about three percent since the first exit polls indicating that the Conservative Party didn't do anywhere near as well as Theresa May had hoped when she originally decided to call the snap election. By the way, she didn't need to do at a time when she was doing a comfortable lead in the polls. That has all evaporated as we can see here, Boris.
SANCHEZ: And Nina, negotiations -- detailed negotiations over Brexit are set to start in just a couple of days. What kind of effect does this have on it?
DOS SANTOS: Yes, this is the other big question here, further down the line will this country manage to form some of kind of government or will it have to go back to the polls? Well, Brexit negotiations are supposed to start about 11 days from now and they only got two years to try and negotiate this really, really difficult trade deal. Already the people are starting to bet that the deadlines are going to start slipping right from day one.
The problem is, is that this country has hard out after two years. So it could get kick out of the E.U. kick out of its relationship with its biggest trading partner unceremoniously what other happens. So that's why we're seeing the business community and the political community as well as voters probably thinking this morning it's imperative to try and sort the situation out as soon as possible for the country's future.
SANCHEZ: All right, Nina, thank you very much reporting from London. A lot of questions ahead not only for Britain and the E.U. but also now the relationship with the U.S.
ROMANS: And the pounds against the dollar down about 1.6 percent right now. So watching that one very, very closely. Thanks, Nina.
An NSA contractor accused of leaking, pleading not guilty in court. Details about Reality Leigh Winner's appearance before a judge. That's next.
[03:25:41] ROMANS: A not guilty plea from Reality Leigh Winner, 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 and illegally transmit top secret information about Russian hacking efforts.
She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. Prosecutors are not trying to link her to terrorism, but they say she wrote in a notebook that she wanted to burn down -- burn the White House down.
SANCHEZ: A U.S. fighter jet shot down a drone that fired coalition groups patrolling in southern Syria. Official say it's the first time pro-Syrian regime forces have attacked the U.S. led coalition. Yet 13 aircraft took out the Iranian-made drone after it dropped one of several weapons it was carrying near position where coalition personnel are training and advising partner of ground forces in the fight against ISIS in Syria.
ROMANS: All right, 26 minutes past the hour, bombshell testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.
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COMEY: The administration chose then to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray. Those were lies, plain and simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: What Comey's statements mean for the Russian investigation ahead. That's next.