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Trump Versus Comey: Who's Telling The Truth?; Did Accused Leaker Expose Other Secrets?; Trump Isolated From His Predecessors; Ohio Voters React To Comey's Testimony. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 11, 2017 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:00] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: And now - and maybe his harshest attack yet, President Trump is blasting his Former FBI Director, James Comey as "cowardly". He tweeted this out earlier today writing, "I believe that James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible, totally illegal? Very cowardly."

The tweet is a reference to Comey's admission that he leaked memos of his conversations with the president in the hope that it would lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor in the Russia probe and he got his wish, Congress is still waiting to get copies of those memos and they're also waiting to hear from embattled Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

He's expected to testify on Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, likely to be a closed hearing according to a justice department official, although the committee does get to make the final decision on that. Either way, Sessions will face tough questions about Comey's account that the president cleared everyone including Sessions out of the oval office before telling Comey that he "hoped" he would drop the investigation into Former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.

And while the president and his lawyer both say that Trump never put it that way, the president's own son may have just contradicted his father's version of what was said. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, JR., PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SON: When I hear the Flynn comment, you and I, both know my father a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TRUMP: When he tells you to do something?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TRUMP: Guess what? There's no ambiguity in it. There's no, hey, I'm hoping. You and I are friends, hey, I hope this happens but you got to do your job. That's what he told Comey. And for this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo, oh, I felt - he felt so threatened. He felt that - but, he didn't do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: That's what he said to Comey. I want to bring in CNN White House Correspondent, Athena Jones. She's live in New Jersey where the president is spending the weekend. Athena, this may all come down to how you define the word "hope" because Comey said that when he heard that, he thought it was a directive.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Boris. That word "hope" is certainly getting a lot of attention and it is interesting to hear the president's own son sound like he's confirming something the president is denying. But, you have the president's supporters who say, well, even if he said, hope, "I hope you'll let this go, it's not an order. May be Comey interpreted it that way but it's really no big deal, nothing to see here."

Then you have others, who say, including some Republicans, who say it was just entirely inappropriate for this topic to even come up. I do think that this is something that the special counsel is going to be looking deeply at. And we'll see what the special counsel -- how he interprets -- and his team interpret that word, "hope." But, it's certainly getting a lot of attention, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and Athena, there are growing calls for the president to turn over any tapes or recordings if they do exist so that we can finally know what happened during that James Comey meeting in an objective way. But the president just kind of keeps flirting with the idea. He won't confirm, yes or no.

JONES: That's right. And this has become like the question of the year, does the president have recordings in the oval office, and more specifically does he have recordings of some sort, tapes or cell phone recording perhaps, or even just records, of those conversations he had with the then-FBI director.

This is a question we journalists have been asking. It's also a question that members of Congress have been asking and Senators who were on "State Of The Union" this morning, GOP Senator, Susan Collins and Democrat, Dianne Feinstein talked about this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: He should voluntarily turn them over, not only to the Senate Intelligence Committee, but to the Special Counsel. So, I don't think subpoena should be necessary, and I don't understand why the president just doesn't clear this matter up once and for all.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN 9D), CALIFORNIA: There were no witnesses. If there are tapes, please, and the president's equivocal on this bring those tapes forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: And we just heard today from a lawyer on the president's legal team with Marc Kasowitz, this is Jay Sekulow who spoke to ABC this week, and said that the president would be addressing this matter next week meaning this coming week. So, certainly, we will all be watching for that, Boris.

SANCHEZ: We will. Athena Jones, thank you.

I want to bring in our panel, Alan Dershowitz, he is Professor Emeritus at Harvard Law School and a Prominent Scholar On Constitutional And Criminal Law and CNN Contributor and Former Obama White House Ethics Czar, Norman Eisen.

Norman, I'll start with you. The Senate Intelligence Panel, ultimately gets to decide whether or not Jeff Sessions is going to testify in an open or closed session, what kind of factors weigh-in to their decision?

[17:05:00] NORMAN EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Boris, thanks for having me. They'll look first at the public interest in hearing from him publicly. And second, the balance of confidential and classified information, and publicly reviewable information in what he's likely to say. I think that those factors cut strongly in favor of the Comey solution.

Start with a public hearing. The public needs to know. They have a right to know major questions about Sessions. Now, with allegations that there is another Russia meeting that he didn't disclose in his congressional testimony. Then, if you can't get into some of that stuff, as we did with Comey, then move into private session. I hope that's what they'll do.

SANCHEZ: Alan, if you were on that Senate Intelligence Committee set to hear Jeff Sessions testimony, what would you ask him?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: First, I would agree completely with my former student and great American norm, I think we should start with the public hearing, and then if it has to be a closed hearing, that should be a last resort. I don't think that the Sessions' questions are going to produce much information because it seems like President Trump didn't really include Sessions in the loop but he did what he did on his own.

I think he's making a terrible mistake attacking Comey. Comey is his best friend. People forget that Comey testified in front of Congress that Comey believes that the president had the authority to direct him. Not to "hope," but to direct him to stop the investigation.

And that probably explains why he didn't go to prosecutors, because he understood, as I understand and some others understand, it's is very controversial and much disputed that the president did nothing unlawful by either hoping, wishing, suggesting, or even directing that the investigation be stopped. He could have simply pardoned Flynn, and that would have ended the investigation completely.

There are a lot of law professors who are taking a different view, but I have issued a challenge to them. Would they be taking the same view if it were Hillary Clinton who had been elected president and the Republicans were going after her and trying to expand the espionage statute, trying to expand obstruction of justice, and trying to get her? I suspect that many of the folks who are now trying to expand, statutes and contract constitutional rights would be doing the opposite. I am not here as an advocate for Trump. I don't like a lot of things he did. I'm here as an advocate for civil liberties and the rights of everybody.

SANCHEZ: Well, Norm, the president and his Attorney, Marc Kasowitz, flatly deny that the president told Comey that he hoped the Flynn Investigation would go away. But, as you heard just a few moments ago, Donald Trump Jr. seemed to contradict that account on Fox News implying that his father did say that he hoped the Flynn Investigation would go away, but Comey took it the wrong way. Is there a grey area here or, in your opinion, does saying that he hopes the Flynn Investigation goes away cross a line?

EISEN: I do think it crosses a line. I disagree with my professor and friend. He set me on a wonderful career as a white collar defense lawyer. I did my first big case with Alan Dershowitz but he's wrong here, three key points, Boris. Number one, there is strong initial evidence enough to open an investigation and Mueller is opening an investigation of obstruction of justice here.

The danger, number two of Trump's getting on camera and saying, "No, I didn't do it", Mueller's going to accumulate other investigation that other evidence that Trump did obstruct justice, his own son corroborating it today on TV. Sessions will corroborate it if he says, yes, the president kicked me out of the room.

And then the third point, the most interesting point, the one that Alan raises, is can a president obstruct? I believe, and the majority of scholars...

DERSHOWITZ: Sure.

EISEN: ...believe, yes. As a matter of law, a president can obstruct justice. Congress has the power to cabin that firing authority, and they have done it by passing an obstruction statute. The obstruction statute, Alan, is just like the bribery statute. You wouldn't say President Trump could take a bribe from Vladimir Putin to fire - to fire Jim Comey neither can he fire Jim Comey with corrupt intent.

DERSHOWITZ: There's a total difference...

(CROSSTALK)

EISEN: And there is a strong initial case -- an initial case, that he's done that. Now, we need to let the evidence play out but he can obstruct justice.

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ: Well, I agree with obstruction of justice. Of course, he can obstruct justice by bribing, by destroying tapes, by...

SANCHEZ: But, you don't think that saying that he hopes an investigation goes away is obstructing justice? [17:10:00] DERSHOWITZ: ...it's not even a close question and you

can't say that the president's power has been constrained by an overbroad general statute like obstruction of justice which has been on the book, a hundred years. If Congress wanted to constrain the president, they would have to do with the way they did it when they pass the special prosecutor statute.

But, now they've eliminated special prosecutor statute, so the president as the head of the executive branch has complete authority over the justice department. Thomas Jefferson exercised that authority. Abraham Lincoln did. Jefferson told prosecutors who to prosecute, who not to prosecute. He told them what witnesses to pull. He gave immunity to witnesses. John Kennedy did that.

Many presidents have done that and the idea that that is now suddenly constitutional to tell the president that he can't tell his attorney general ahead of the FBI who to prosecute or who not to, it's not a good system, but it is the system of constitutionality that the framers adopted. So, I respectfully disagree with my former A-plus student, Norman and I do think that it would be better to move on to whether he did right or wrong.

I don't approve of what the president did. I think what he did, kicking the people out of the room and telling Comey that he hoped he would drop the investigation, I don't approve of that. But, I think it's a big difference between (ph) what I approve of and what is actually criminal particularly when you're trying to use criminal law against the elected president.

SANCHEZ: All right.

DERSHOWITZ: You have to know with absolute certainty that he violated the law. That's why bribery is different. That's why paying money, that's why telling somebody lie is different than obstruction of justice with a corrupt motive, those are the vaguest terms imaginable. And, Norm, as a civil libertarian and a defense attorney, I know you fight against those terms all the time and you fight the good cause. Why are you suddenly becoming a prosecutor and looking...

(LAUGHTER)

EISEN: Boris?

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Alan, I hold - I hate to cut you off - I hate to cut you off, but I have to ask you about this. We heard today from fired United States Attorney, Preet Bharara, he talked about calls that he got from President Trump saying that Comey's testimony felt like "deja " for him. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PREET BHARARA, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY: So, he called me in December, sensibly just to shoot the breeze and ask me how I was doing and wants to make sure I was OK. It was similar to what Jim Comey testified to with respect to a call he got when was getting on the helicopter. I didn't say anything at the time to him. It was a little bit uncomfortable, he was the president, he was only president-elect.

He called me again two days before the inauguration, again seemingly to checking and shoots the breeze. And, then he called me a third time when he became - after he became president and I refused to return the call and in reporting the phone call to the chief of staff, to the attorney general, I said it appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Cultivate some kind of relationship. Norm, to you, is it appropriate for the President of the United States to try to get close to people that he's supposed to stay at arm's length from? Does this bolster Comey's testimony?

EISEN: No, Boris. It's absolutely inappropriate and it's not just inappropriate, it's legally actionable. The courts -- contra to Alan, the courts have long recognized that this kind of a pattern, even if you have a legal authority, the 7th circuit said that a lawyer who was filing legal briefs, but doing so with a corrupt purpose to intimidate was violating the law. It's the same with the president exercising his authority here, but, I want to agree with something that Alan has said.

Number one, it's early days. We only have the initial evidence. Let Mueller investigate. Number two, Mueller will then make a decision. The question has been unresolved since Watergate whether this pattern, the attempt to cultivate Comey, the loyalty pledge, the demand for Flynn to be fired, and when Comey wouldn't act firing Comey, whether that pattern is obstruction or not, whether and it's been unresolved since Watergate, it was briefed to the Supreme Court by the - by the two sides, can the president be criminally charged?

Another way Mueller can go, and may be my old professor will agree with me on this, even if he determines that there's not an adequate basis here for a criminal charge, and I think there may very well be, he can refer to congress and say, hey, I believe there was a high crime or misdemeanor. This whole pattern stinks to high heaven. It's intimidation. It's wrong Congress, you act on it. So, he can go the criminal route - the congressional route, or both. Alan, I hope you agree.

DERSHOWITZ: I don't agree.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: We are just about - we are just about of time. My producers are probably going to kill me but I want a yes or no, very brief answer from you, Alan. Were the phone calls to Preet Bharara inappropriate?

DERSHOWITZ: They were appropriate if he was trying to decide whether to reappoint him as U.S. Attorney. It would be inappropriate if he was trying to somehow influence ongoing prosecutions, but they still wouldn't be criminal under either circumstance.

SANCHEZ: That was more than yes or no, but we'll take it. Alan Dershowitz, Norman Eisen, gentlemen, thank you for taking time out of your Sunday to chat with us. We appreciate it.

DERSHOWITZ: Thanks, Boris. Thanks, Alan.

EISEN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, explosive new allegations against the NSA contractor accused of leaking a highly classified document. Did she mishandle other national secrets?

And, the lonely president, look at how Trump has become increasingly isolated from the men who preceded him in the Oval Office.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:15:00] SANCHEZ: We have stunning new details on 25-year-old Reality Winner, the NSA contractor accused of leaking a highly classified document on Russian attempts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors believe she may have been trying to expose other secrets because in a jailhouse phone call she referred to having "documents," plural.

CNN's Brian Todd reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wearing an orange jumpsuit with the word "inmate" on the back, alleged NSA leaker, Reality Winner appeared outside court in shackles and handcuffs. Inside, Winner quietly told a judge she was not guilty of charges she stole classified documents about Russian election hacking from a government contractor inside Georgia's Fort Gordon and gave them to an online news outlet.

But, prosecutors revealed explosive new details of what they suggested was an intentional plan by the 25-year-old to leak secrets to the media. Prosecutors told the judge Winner wrote, "I want to burn the White House down" in a personal notebook, and they say she showed a strong desire to travel to Pakistan and meet the Taliban.

Prosecutors say last November while still on active duty with the Air Force, she once used a work computer to search the phrase "do top secret computers detect when flash drives are inserted?" prosecutors say she was denied access to some Air Force computers after that.

[17:20:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should somebody later on have caught that?

ERIC O'NEILL, NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGIST, CARBON BLACK: Yes, I think that when you're looking at someone, especially when you're looking to employ someone and you're looking to employ someone for a critical area, important just like a top secret security clearance, you have to look at everything that happened in their history and you have to decide overtime whether this person has changed? TODD: Prosecutors have previously claimed Winner tweeted President Trump was "an orange fascist" and followed Edward , WikiLeaks and Anonymous on Twitter. Prosecutors also claim she could have additional materials because in a jailhouse phone call, she allegedly referred to "documents," plural.

Prosecutors say in recorded phone conversations, Reality Winner told her family of a courtroom strategy she had, "I'm going to play the pretty white, cute card," and prosecutors say she told her mother to tell the media she feared for her life, "You've got to play that angle."

O'NEILL: It also shows that she's got a manipulative sense. That she thinks that she can play this role and maybe she is looking at the Chelsea Manning Case and seeing, hey, this was a leaker who was pardoned. May be I can fit into the same world.

TODD: Winner's lawyer says his client is not a traitor and that has seen no evidence from prosecutors that proves she leaked anything. Her mother and stepfather continue to defend her, including on CNN.

GARY DAVIS, REALITY WINNER'S STEPFATHER: She served her country. She is a veteran of the United States Air Force and served with distinction for six years. She's a patriot.

TODD: Now, as Winner remains behind bars, some experts are questioning the security at the agency with the word "security" in its name after giant thefts of classified materials by Edward and allegedly Analyst, Harold Martin.

SHELDON COHEN, ATTORNEY SPECIALIZING IN SECURITY CLEARANCE: That's the biggest problem the NSA has. People, who on the surface appear OK who are completely vetted, they find nothing wrong with them, and then after they get there, they become disgruntled, they become dissatisfied. They think the public ought to know this information and then they turn rogue and do it.

TODD: Just how was Reality Winner able to get and then keep a top secret security clearance? Neither the NSA nor Pluribus International would comment for our story but a U.S. Government official tells CNN there are procedures in place that allow government employees with top secret clearances to go from one agency to another and take those clearances with them.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Brian, thank you.

I want to talk more about this with CNN Global Affairs Analyst, Kimberly Dozier. She's a senior national security correspondent for "The Daily Beast". Kimberly, when we hear about the fact that she has documents, plural, what else could be coming down the pike? What else she might have? KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, whatever she has

will probably soon be in the possession of the investigating authorities because they will be able to access her home. I'm sure that any judge would give them a warrant to search. If she printed out one document, she may have printed out other documents and now the NSA will be examining everything that she had access to, just like they had to with Edward Snowden.

What we're going to get a chance to see is what likely would have happened to Edward Snowden had he been caught and extradited back to the United States in terms of how she's going to be pursued and prosecuted. The thing with her case that just sort of is mind-blowing is how naive she has been at so many different segments of this that she had a jailhouse phone call that she didn't think would be listened to?

SANCHEZ: Right.

DOZIER: And that she printed out documents and she didn't think people would be watching for that.

SANCHEZ: Yes, so this is the first criminal leak case under President Trump. We saw the Obama Administration go after leakers pretty harshly. Chelsea Manning comes to mind. Do you foresee any major differences in the way that the Trump Administration and the Obama Administration handles these leakers?

DOZIER: Look, I am one of the journalists when I was at the associated press who was investigated by the Obama Justice Department in a leak investigation. They seized 40 days of our phone records, including several of my phone numbers, phones that I was carrying, and interviewed just about anyone I spoke to during that 40-day period if they had anything to do with the national security world, all trying to pursue the source of the leak.

I can't imagine that the Trump Administration would be any more lenient than the Obama Administration was. So, I think the message is if someone is giving you information that they feel needs to get out there, they should be careful. Most of the people that I talk to are careful. They research what might expose them. So, they're careful in how they reach out and I am careful to protect my sources as well.

[17:25:00] SANCHEZ: So, I'm interested in getting your point of view on this. Do you consider Reality Winner a whistle-blower who did this for public good to bring attention to the Russian hack attempt or does the leak hamper the intelligence community's ability to go after Russia and to conduct this investigation thoroughly?

DOZIER: Well, what's in that document does possibly reveal sources and methods of the intelligence community, what it was watching in terms of the Russian hacking. So, from the intelligence officer's point of view, she is a traitor. From the point of view of people who want to know more about how Russia hacked, and from the point of reporters who think that way too much gets classified, and this particular administration's probably not in the business of declassifying a lot of it to share details with us, well, she did us a service.

So, this is going to play out in court though, and she is probably going to get a very long jail sentence. I don't see with what she's apparently already told the prosecutor, and now with this jailhouse phone call, her building a very strong case of innocence, but I am not a lawyer.

SANCHEZ: Now, very quickly let's talk about what was in that document. It detailed the cyberattack by Russia's Military Intelligence Unit, the GRU, on a software - a voting software company and 122 local election officials just days before the election. There is no evidence that they were actually able to manipulate any votes but what does this reveal about their intentions?

DOZIER: Well, we already knew that there was a hacking campaign ordered from the very top, ordered from the Kremlin, from Putin's office. It shows how sophisticated these attacks are and also that they will try to get in to the voting booth, so it's a cautionary tale for the next round of U.S. Elections.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and we heard James Comey say during his testimony that we're not doing enough to respond to the Russia hacking attempt. Kimberly Dozier, thank you so much for the time.

DOZIER: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, they don't talk and they don't see each other, a look at the strained relationship between President Trump and Former President Obama and how it represents a rare break in a very exclusive club.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:30:00] SANCHEZ: Just five months ago we watched this, President Trump vetting for world his predecessor watching as Barack Obama boarded a helicopter for his post-White House life. Apparently, the two men have not spoken or seen each other since. Aides say they have no working relationship despite being cordial, even friendly during the transition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: My number one priority in the coming two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our president-elect is successful.

TRUMP: I just went to the oval office and found this beautiful letter from President Obama. It was really very nice of him to do that.

Well, he was very nice to me but after that we've had some difficulties. He was very nice to me with words but -- and when I was with him, but after that, there has been no relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: You might expect that they would have difficulties, but to be clear, it's not just rare it is unprecedented that in modern times a president would forgo even the faintest of ties or pleasantries with his predecessors.

Joining me now, CNN Political Analyst, Julian Zelizer, he's also a professor and a historian at Princeton University. Julian, you believe that the president isn't just isolated from Obama but also his predecessors in the Republican Party and you argue that that's unlikely to change. Why?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think what makes this distinct is not simply that he's isolated from President Obama, it's also the intensity of the dislike for him and separation. He's also not close to President George W. Bush. So, you see this president who is isolated from the people who have the most experience with the job that he is handling. And so, I do think although this plays well to the base, and politically works, it removes some much needed expertise and guidance that other presidents have counted on.

SANCHEZ: Well, they had that very cordial meeting and they, you know, had a friendly moment right outside the helicopter after Trump was elected right before the inauguration, what was it that changed?

ZELIZER: Well, I think there's a little bit of shock and awe for both of them. I think President Trump was -- or elect Trump was adjusting to the reality that he won and he was going to take over this job. And I think President Obama thought, like many people, Hillary Clinton would be the successor and felt the need to guide the president-elect Trump through the transition.

But I think, look, the animosity that President Trump has for Obama has been around since the Birther Movement and so it's not a surprise that he didn't transform himself and that this anger would return pretty quickly.

SANCHEZ: Now, you've said something really fascinating. You write, "even though President Trump may not like it, having Obama out there speaking with leaders, even if it is critical of Trump is probably helpful. He might be serving a diplomatic role that the administration itself is not fulfilling," this is really intriguing. What do you mean?

ZELIZER: Well, we've seen how President Trump has aggravated tensions with some of our staunchest allies in Europe and at the same time, we know that the state department really isn't functioning at full capacity. A lot of key jobs aren't even staffed at this point. So, I think part of what president Obama -- Former President Obama is doing as he travels around is a little bit of repair work for some of the tensions that are created by President Trump and so he benefits from that. These alliances are important and they're important to President Trump's success.

[17:35:00] SANCHEZ: And it's important to point out that it is vital for presidents to maintain a good relationship with their predecessors. We've seen through so many points President Obama reaching out to George W. Bush. And before him, Bill Clinton, there was one letter from President George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton that his thought of as, you know, the ultimate in honorably passing the torch to someone else. Why is it so important for presidents to maintain a healthy working relationship?

ZELIZER: Because very few people know what this job is about. It's incredibly difficult to go through the challenges that a president goes through and face the multiple policy issues and crises that emerge, and so historically presidents turn every now and then to their predecessors to figure out what to do.

You can hear tapes of President Kennedy talking to Eisenhower or President Johnson talking to Harry Truman and as you said, the Bush's and the Clinton's, they all had these conversations because no one else really knows what this job is like.

And, so that's really an important source of expertise, even if there's great tension between the two people. And that's what President Trump is losing by not talking at all to President Trump, and frankly many of his advisors.

SANCHEZ: We certainly great hope after that meeting with President Obama and President Trump seems that that all kind of went away. Julian Zelizer, thank you so much for your perspective.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, getting away from the spin in Washington, what do voters really think of James Comey's testimony?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says that Donald Trump "told lies," plain and simple. Raise your hand if you believe Donald Trump has lied at all about this situation. None of you believe that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:40:00] SANCHEZ: As Washington debates the fallout from James Comey's testimony before Congress, we wanted to take the pulse of voters elsewhere in the country. What did they think of the hearings and Comey's accusation that the president is a liar? CNN's Gary Tuchman went to Ohio, a state that Trump won, to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First thing I want to ask you, it is a crime when you testify before Congress to lie that is perjury. You can go to prison for it. Raise your hand if you believe James Comey lied at all. Four of you believe he lied.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Raise your hand. He says that Donald Trump "told lies," plain and simple. Raise your hand if you believe Donald Trump has lied at all about this situation. None of you believe that.

For those of you who did not raise your hands, if neither person lied, how could that be possible? They tell different things. Who didn't raise their hand? Why do you think that nobody lied? How could that have happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, first of all, things can be distorted and appear like lies and I think maybe the media might have distorted some things and...

TUCHMAN: The media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...now, we're not get being both sides.

TUCHMAN: You raised your hand do you think Mr. Comey should go to jail?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that my impression of Comey at the beginning of this was that he was kind of an Eliot-ness kind of a guy, the way he went after Martha Stewart, but as -- especially with his testimony today, he's more like an Ian Fleming where he wants to be the next novelist. A lot of things that he came up with was seem like he's more inclined to fiction.

TUCHMAN: One of the things he testified about, he said he was in a room with President Trump. President Trump told his attorney general and his son-in-law to get out and he says President Trump told him he hoped he would let it go regarding the Flynn Investigation.

My question for you, a lot of people are arguing, "hope" that means he didn't order him, but if your superior, your boss, or when you're little if your parents says they hope you do something, isn't that imperative that you do it or is that not necessarily an imperative?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been manipulated by the Clinton's too when Lynch told him to overlook the meeting with the...

TUCHMAN: All right, let me just, look Hillary Clinton right now is not present. I'm talking about this situation, so when he has told Comey...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't trust what he says.

TUCHMAN: So, you don't think that Comey is telling the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, right.

TUCHMAN: What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Mr. Comey should have said something at that time.

TUCHMAN: Should have said something to who, to Mr. Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump.

TUCHMAN: What should he have said to Mr. Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I cannot do that. I have to go on with the investigations, et cetera.

TUCHMAN: Yes, be honest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we have to do it. He did not do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was never asked why I didn't think he was being truthful but I believe he didn't adequately explain why he couldn't just tell Trump that this is inappropriate or tell the chief-of-staff or DOJ to tell Trump. He continued on with that and he couldn't adequately explain that. That's why I feel the whole thing was wrapped around this one.

TUCHMAN: Mr. Comey says he believes he was fired because of the Russian Investigation. Interestingly, Donald Trump has said I fired him because of Russia. Is there a problem with that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't have a problem.

TUCHMAN: Why is that not a problem?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have a problem with that. First of all, Mr. Trump represents the United States of America. President Trump is our President and he sets a standard for everything and when he asked...

TUCHMAN: But he had -- let me just say, he had commented many times according to the testimony that he liked the job that Mr. Comey was doing, but all of a sudden he's firing him because he doesn't like...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think he tried to be uplifting and encouraging to your, "employees". But also he set Mr. Comey several opportunities to be forthright and honest with him, forthcoming with some answers and Mr. Comey kind of dropped the ball on that.

TUCHMAN: Now, let me ask you this before we go, I think I may know the answer to this, but show of hands, how many of you feel better about Donald Trump, your President, after this hearing?

How many of you feel worse about Donald Trump? I guess you all raised your hands the first time. So, do you think that was a success for Donald Trump but not for Mr. Comey?

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[17:45:00] SANCHEZ: That was Gary Tuchman in Ohio, joining me now, CNN Politics Reporter, Eugene Scott. Eugene, we thank you for joining us on this Sunday. You heard those Trump voters in Ohio. They think the president came out of Comey's testimony with a win. But, is there anything to indicate that support, even among his most faithful supporters, might be slipping because of all the controversy surrounding the White House right now? EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Not really, Boris and this is a

bit consistent with what we saw even back in November. If you remember, we had exit polls that said about 64 percent of Americans viewed Donald Trump as dishonest, about 1 in 5 of that 64 percent still voted for him. So, the fact that some people don't trust him, I don't think has necessarily translated then, or now, into not supporting him.

SANCHEZ: Well, the president was actually speaking to a group of evangelical supporters this week and he kind of made it sound like he was at war. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're under siege. You understand that. But, we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever. You watch. The entrenched interests and failed bitter voices in Washington will do everything in their power to try and stop us from this righteous cause.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: "We are under siege" in kind of a strange way, Trump seems to relish this fight against the media and the Democrats and anyone that criticizes him because it galvanizes his supporters doesn't it?

SCOTT: It certainly does. I mean this is the approach he took during the campaign that led him to the White House. If you listen to the rest of that speech, what's a bit problematic to some critics is some of the harsh language he used to describe Democrats. If you remember on Inauguration Day, President Trump says he wanted to unite the country and he wanted to be the president for all Americans.

But, when you say things like "we're under siege" in front of people who do not think the way we do and want to support the policies that I'm proposing, it's very difficult to get everyone on the same page. And I don't know if he's going to be able to get people to have more respect for him who haven't already voted for him by mid-terms. And that's something he really has to focus on.

SANCHEZ: Yes, now I want to read you a tweet that President Trump put out earlier today. He writes, "The fake news, MSN, mainstream media doesn't report the great economic news since election day, the DOW up 16%, NASDAQ up 19.5%, drilling and energy sector way up, regulations way down, and 600,000 new jobs added, unemployment down to 4.3%, business and economic enthusiasm way up, record levels."

He's complaining that the media isn't paying enough attention to recent economic success, but isn't he at least partly to blame for taking headlines away from his agenda or his successes, flirting with the idea that there may be recordings of his interactions with James Comey and going out and just attacking people on Twitter?

SCOTT: He certainly is. He's controlling the narrative and there are things that if he wanted the American people to know, he could put out there. The fact of the matter is that tweet actually isn't accurate. Every single job reported that has come out, all three of them since Donald Trump entered the White House, CNN Money has reported on.

And the truth is we are at significantly low levels of unemployment. But, I think it's important for Americans to realize that prime age voters -- those voters between 25 and 54, are still experiencing high levels of unemployment. There are about 5.3 million people who should be working who are not working. And if the president feels that 1,100 vacancies in his administration, if he filled them, he could probably make significant progress with that.

SANCHEZ: And that's ultimately what got him elected, the promise of jobs. Eugene Scott, we thank you again for joining us this Sunday.

SCOTT: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, Jeanne Moos on President Trump's most frequently made request.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Believe me. Believe me. Believe me. Believe me. Believe me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Finally, this hour, President Trump is a big believer in two words. Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Who says President Trump isn't a man of deep beliefs?

TRUMP: Believe me.

MOOS: He was deep in believe me's.

TRUMP: Believe me. We've just begun.

MOOS: Dropping five of them.

TRUMP: Believe me.

MOOS: As he announced the U.S. would drop out...

TRUMP: Believe me.

MOOS: ...of the Paris climate accord.

TRUMP: Believe me. This is not what we need.

MOOS: But, what's five in one speech?

TRUMP: Because believe me, there's no collusion.

MOOS: When he's been a believer at the rate of two in under 10 seconds.

TRUMP: My total priority, believe me, is the United States of America.

MOOS: What is Trump's usage like compared to other people?

AARON SHAROCKMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, POLITIFACT: Yes, Trump's usages off the charts.

MOOS: Linguist Tyler Snavlin (ph) actually has made charts of Trump's usage.

TRUMP: Believe me. Believe me. Believe me. Believe me. Believe me. Believe me, I know.

MOOS: The linguist tallied Trump at 580 occurrences per million words versus amusedly six for Hillary Clinton. You know, it seems to me, it's a time killer or a time filler to collect your thoughts.

SHAROCKMAN: You're emphasizing something but it also let you to play for time.

MOOS: Jon Stewart has another theory.

JON STEWART, AMERICAN COMEDIAN, "THE DAILY SHOW" HOST: Nobody says believe me, unless they are lying.

(LAUGHTER)

MOOS: The addiction to saying...

TRUMP: Believe me.

MOOS: ...is ironic for someone who is often described...

TRUMP: Thousands and thousands of people were cheering.

MOOS: ...as having his Pants on Fire.

SHAROCKMAN: The 2015 PolitiFact Lie of the Year goes to the collective misstatements of Donald Trump. I had lots of friends tell me, that their parents explicitly told them don't believe anyone who says believe me. But, that doesn't seem to be the case that this is just an easy marker of lying.

TRUMP: Nobody builds walls better than me, believe me.

[17:55:00] MOOS: And you personally, you don't say, oh, here comes a lie when he says believe me?

SHAROCKMAN: No. I don't.

TRUMP: We're going to knock the hell out of ISIS, believe me.

SHAROCKMAN: He's really at his most Trumpian when he uses it.

MOOS: You better believe it, Jeannie Moos, CNN.

TRUMP: Believe. Believe. Believe. Believe. Believe. Believe. Can you believe it?

MOOS: New York

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:00:00] SANCHEZ: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Ana Cabrera. We thank you so much for joining us.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is willing to put himself on the hot seat in two days and face tough questions about his role in the firing of the Former FBI Director, James Comey.

The big question, will all Americans be able to watch and listen to his testimony? Sessions is planning to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday and CNN has learned it will likely be a closed session although the committee ultimately makes the final decision.