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Do Oval Office Tapes Exist?; Interview With California Senator Dianne Feinstein; Interview With Maine Senator Susan Collins; President Trump Willing To Testify Under Oath; Speaker Paul Ryan: The President Is New At This; Will Mitt Romney Return To Politics?. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired June 11, 2017 - 09:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Showdown -- fired FBI Director James Comey's dramatic testimony.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Those were lies, plain and simple.

KEILAR: Revealing how he crafted his case against the president.

COMEY: I needed to get that out into the public square.

KEILAR: And Trump strikes back.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No collusion. No obstruction. He's a leaker.

KEILAR: Saying Comey is the one who is lying.

TRUMP: Some of the things that he said just weren't true.

KEILAR: And he's willing to testify under oath to prove it.

TRUMP: One hundred percent.

KEILAR: Plus: Secret tapes?

COMEY: Lordy, I hope there are tapes.

KEILAR: Is the president secretly recording conversations?

TRUMP: I will tell you about that maybe some time in the very near future. Oh, you're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer.

KEILAR: If so, what happens next? Two leaders of the Senate investigation join me live in minutes.

And the best political minds will be here with insights on another wild week in Washington.


KEILAR: Hello. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is pointing fingers.

President Trump is in a war of words with fired FBI Director James Comey, who accused the president of asking him to back off the Flynn investigation earlier this year.

Trump came out swinging with a strong denial of the account.


QUESTION: He did say under oath that you told him to let the Flynn -- you said you hoped the Flynn investigation, he could let go.

TRUMP: I didn't say that.

QUESTION: So he lied about that?

TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that. I mean, I will tell you, I didn't say that.

QUESTION: And did he ask you -- to pledge his loyalty?

TRUMP: And there would be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody that I have read today. But I did not say that.


KEILAR: Comey's testimony also put the spotlight on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation, but recommended Comey's firing.

Sessions announced yesterday that he plans to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, saying in a statement: "In light of reports regarding Mr. Comey's recent testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum. The Senate Intelligence Committee is the most appropriate forum for such matters, as it has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant classified information."

And I'm joined now by a leading Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Thank you so much for taking time with us this Sunday.


KEILAR: And so you heard that from the attorney general. He's going to testify on Tuesday before the Intelligence Committee.

Is that going to happen, and is that going to be public?

FEINSTEIN: Don't know whether it will happen. Don't know whether it's going to be public. And I challenge the jurisdiction, to some extent. I'm on both committees, as you know.

KEILAR: Judiciary and Intelligence.

FEINSTEIN: And -- yes. And I believe that the Judiciary Committee has the oversight responsibility for the Justice Department. And, therefore, it is very fitting for the attorney general to appear there.

I have written two letters to Senator Grassley suggesting that. I have pointed out that his predecessor, Mr. Holder, had a hearing of oversight in June of the first year of his term, as Sessions has not, and Sessions ought to come back before the Judiciary Committee.

KEILAR: You said in that letter to Senator Grassley, who is the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, that you want him to investigate potential obstruction of justice.

What tells you that that is appropriate, that that has happened?

FEINSTEIN: Well, let me tell you,in the first place, I have served for 16 years on intelligence and 24 on Judiciary.

The Intelligence staff is just that. It's intelligence staff. Most are not lawyers, and they are restricted to the world of intelligence. The Judiciary staff are all lawyers, most very good lawyers. And so there is an opportunity to look at the law with respect to obstruction of justice, to hold a hearing, and also to have those relevant people come before the Judiciary Committee.

I have been very concerned by the fact that both Director Coats and Director Rogers refused to answer the questions when put to them by members of the Intelligence Committee.

KEILAR: They -- they were asked essentially if they had been pressured by President Trump, and they said they would talk about that in a closed hearing. Have they spoken in a closed hearing to senators?

FEINSTEIN: Well, no, they were not in the closed hearing. The closed hearing that afternoon was just with the former director of the FBI.

KEILAR: So, but you feel that that's obstruction of justice, even though they have indicated a willingness to talk about it in a classified briefing?

FEINSTEIN: I don't know whether it's obstruction of justice. And I don't intend to draw any conclusions until investigations are finished.


I think this is very important. And I believe -- I think the Intelligence Committee is doing good work, and should continue. I think Senator Burr and Senator Warner did a good job in the chairs at the hearing. But I also know that there's another part of this, and that part should not be given short shrift, and it has to do with the Department of Justice.

KEILAR: What we heard from Director Comey, former Director Comey, was that he said President Trump tried to derail the FBI's investigation of Michael Flynn, pressured him to do that.

He, of course, was the former national security adviser to the president who was fired. President Trump and his personal lawyer, they say this isn't true, and they have accused Comey of not telling the truth, of perjury.

Here's what he said.


MARC KASOWITZ, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: The president never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including the president never suggested that Mr. Comey -- quote -- "let Flynn go." The president also never told Mr. Comey -- quote -- "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty" -- close quote.


KEILAR: The president says he didn't say it. The FBI director says he did. Who do you believe?

FEINSTEIN: Well, at this point, I believe the FBI director. I know him the best. I have observed him the longest.

I know he has his own band of integrity. Disagreed with him on the e- mails, let him know that monosyllabically. But, in this kind of thing, he's not going to lie. He's -- it's just not in him to do this.

So, I'm one that believes we need the Judiciary Committee to step up and carry its weight on these hearings as well.

KEILAR: That was, of course, the focus of this hearing, but there is something else we learned separately from Jim Comey, and that was some tough words that he had for the former attorney general, Loretta Lynch, under President Obama.

Comey thinks that Lynch improperly injected politics into that investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Here's what he said about that.


COMEY: The attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me, but that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department, if we're to close this case credibly.


KEILAR: Comey said that Lynch -- the request gave him a queasy feeling. He felt clearly that Loretta Lynch was giving cover to the Clinton campaign. Was she?

FEINSTEIN: I can't answer that.

I would have a queasy feeling, too, though, to be candid with you. I think we need to know more about that. And there's only way to know about it, and that's to have the Judiciary Committee take a look at that.

KEILAR: So, you think it's worth investigating, if in a way this was semantic cover given to the Clinton campaign. It was clearly an investigation being described in the matter.

FEINSTEIN: Yes, but this is a separate investigation we're talking about.

KEILAR: Of course, yes.

FEINSTEIN: And I don't think we should mix the two.

Right now, this is the total integrity of the president of the United States. This is a very big deal, Brianna. It should be all hands on deck, and everybody should welcome a second committee getting involved, particularly on the technical legal aspects of obstruction of justice.

I have no doubt -- well, you see, there is also time, manner and place. When this episode took -- took place that the president's referring to he did not say was on February 14. There was a scheduled counterintelligence briefing. The vice president, the attorney general, the FBI director, Jared Kushner, and others were in the room.

The president asked that the room be cleared. The attorney general apparently hung back. I thought the attorney general should have said something: This man works for me. I think I should be here, too, Mr. President.

But the FBI director ended up alone, and that's kind of where this began, and that's where I want to talk about the Flynn case, and, "Can't you just let it go?"

Now, "Can't you just let it go" are the words that are fairly, indelibly impressed on my mind.

KEILAR: What Comey says he said and what the president said.

FEINSTEIN: Yes. Yes. And so you -- you know there were no witnesses.


If there are tapes, please -- and the president's equivocal on this -- bring those tapes forward. KEILAR: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a fellow Democrat from

your home state, hometown...



KEILAR: ... she said Friday there's no question that President Trump -- quote -- "abused his power." And she also questioned his fitness for office.

Let's listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I'm very worried about his fitness. The president's fitness for office is something that is being called into question.


KEILAR: Do you agree with that? Do you worry about the president's fitness for office?

FEINSTEIN: I think -- here is the problem.

Republican or Democrat, when you serve in either the House or the Senate, you are accustomed to stability in the White House. You are accustomed to the protocols that go along with it.

You are very careful about what you do and what you say. All of that is out the window now, and so what we are feeling is that...

KEILAR: Does it make him fit or unfit?

FEINSTEIN: ... every day is a new crisis.

And that is -- has a destabilizing effect, because we have got big issues to solve.

We have got a huge opioid epidemic. We have got health care that needs to be tended to.

KEILAR: But does it hit that level of fitness, where you might say that he is unfit, as Nancy Pelosi did?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I would say I'm not there yet, but I understand why the leader feels the way she does.

There's an unpredictability. He projects an instability. He projects a different issue every day. Doing policy by tweets is really a shakeup for us, because there's no justification presented. There's no State Department analysis. There's no nothing.

And now there's a reluctance to respond to questions submitted by Democrats, even the Democratic ranking member. For example, if I were to write a letter as ranking member of Judiciary to the White House, and ask some questions, not controversial, they don't necessarily have to answer me.


FEINSTEIN: That's never existed before, regardless of party.

KEILAR: Senator Dianne Feinstein, thank you so much for joining us.

FEINSTEIN: You're welcome.

KEILAR: And coming up: Are there secret White House recordings of the president's conversations? Congress is demanding answers. You just heard one senator do that.

New details on their possible existence and when we will know -- next.



KEILAR: Welcome back.

President Trump inched closer this week to revealing whether or not there are recordings of his conversations with fired FBI Director Jim Comey.


QUESTION: When will you tell us about the recordings?

TRUMP: Over a fairly short period of time.


QUESTION: Are there tapes, sir?

TRUMP: Oh, you're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don't worry.


KEILAR: Comey publicly called for their release, if they exist, during his blockbuster testimony Thursday.

And now Congress is demanding answers. The bipartisan leaders of the Russia investigation in the House of Representatives sent a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn after the president's statement asking if any recordings or memoranda exist, and, if so, to turn them over by next Friday.

How is all of this going to affect the investigation?

With us now to talk about that, Republican Senator Susan Collins. She is on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.


KEILAR: I want to ask you about something the president has been cagey about, and that is these tapes, of course.

So, I wonder if you would support issuing a subpoena to the White House. Right now, it's just a request coming from Congress. Would you support issuing a subpoena for the recordings or any documents that might come from that?

COLLINS: This is an issue that the president should have cleared up in his press conference. He should give a straight yes or no to the answer -- to the question of whether or not the tapes exist.

And he should voluntarily turn them over not only to the Senate Intelligence Committee, but to the special counsel.

So, I don't think a subpoena should be necessary. And I don't understand why the president just doesn't clear this matter up once and for all.

KEILAR: If he doesn't, and a subpoena would be necessary to find this out, you support that?

COLLINS: I would be fine with issuing a subpoena, but that most likely would come from the special counsel's office.


President Trump, speaking of the special counsel, he said he would 100 percent be willing to testify under oath about his interactions.

Do you think that that is something that should go before Robert Mueller, the special counsel, or do you think it should go before Congress, or do you think both?

COLLINS: The president should fully cooperate with the special counsel, and he's indicated that he will do so.

We have to keep in mind that the focus of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation is on what -- the extent of Russian influence on our elections last fall, and whether or not there was collusion, collaboration, cooperation between the Russians and members of President Trump's campaign team.

So, there are two different investigations with two different emphasis under way right now. Both are critical. Both are really important to our country.


KEILAR: So, it sounds like, if he were to talk to -- you would be comfortable with him just talking to Bob Mueller?

COLLINS: Yes, I would be. KEILAR: OK.

And if he does, should video of that testimony be made public, do you think?

COLLINS: Well, that really depends on how the special counsel decides to proceed.

It would be unusual if, in the midst of the investigation, he were to release a video or a transcript of the investigation before the investigation is concluded. That is frustrating, because we all want to know all of the information, but keep in mind that his job is to determine whether or not there are any violations of criminal laws.

And he wants to make sure that he has all the evidence put together, rather than releasing it in a piecemeal basis. Our committee will release a public report at the end of our investigation. And we're proceeding. And I really commend the two leaders of our committee for what I thought was an excellent series of hearings last week.

KEILAR: Bipartisan support backing up what you just said there.

The former FBI director says the president pressured him to back off from investigating General Michael Flynn. He wrote a note of an interaction with the president at the time he had it saying as much.

The president says that never happened. So, who do you believe, President Trump or James Comey?

COLLINS: I found Director Comey, former Director Comey's testimony to be candid, to be thorough, and he testified under oath.

So, I believe that the information that he gave him -- gave our committee is what he believed happened. That doesn't eliminate the possibility that there was a misinterpretation.

What I don't understand is, when the president did say to him that he should let go of the Flynn investigation, which was clearly wrong on the president's part, why the director did not say back to the president, Mr. President, that is so inappropriate for you to do that. The independence of the FBI is really important, and we cannot be having discussions like this.

I think he should have said that at the time.

KEILAR: If it was so inappropriate, then it sounds as if you understand, in the context of what happened, that that was some sort of direction coming from President Trump.

So does that make what he said in the Rose Garden this week a lie?

COLLINS: Certainly, Mr. Comey understood it as a directive.

The exact language makes it more ambiguous, because he says -- the president says, "I hope" you can see your way to letting the Flynn matter go. That's still wrong for him to do that. Whether it's illegal is a whole 'nother issue, and that's up to the independent counsel. But it was wrong of the president to even bring up the subject.

KEILAR: But if he said to you, Senator, in the White House, if President Trump was talking to you, and he said, Senator Collins, I hope you can vote for the health care bill, I mean, how would you interpret that? You would interpret that as a directive, right?

COLLINS: Actually, I wouldn't.

I think he would be saying truly that he hoped that I would, since he knows I have a lot of reservations about it.


COLLINS: But, listen, the conversation could -- should not have occurred.


COLLINS: There's just no doubt about that.

KEILAR: So, you told CNN on Friday that perhaps it was the inexperience of the president. Essentially, that's what you said, that maybe he thought all of the meetings with the FBI director should be one on one.

Is that -- is that an excuse for him? I mean, is that just an excuse, or do you think that's really something that is -- makes -- I don't want to say makes sense, but really could have happened?

COLLINS: Let me go back to the first meeting that the FBI director had with President Trump.

At that meeting, which had several people in it, the FBI director -- asked that everyone leave the room, except for him...


COLLINS: ... and President Trump.

KEILAR: And I'm running out of time, Senator, so I want to make sure I get this in, because that's a very important point that you make.

COLLINS: I'm sorry.

KEILAR: Then, the next meeting is in person, a dinner between the two, which is something that takes lead time.

Clearly, by this point in time, the president should have been aware that this was inappropriate.

So, how is it possible that this was just him being inexperienced and taking cues from the first meeting, if this is something that was set up with considerable advance from the White House? [09:25:06]

COLLINS: Because my theory is that the president thinks that that's how you interact with the FBI director.

But someone should have stepped in. The FBI director should have stepped in, the deputy attorney general, the White House Counsel's Office, to explain to the president.

It's not an excuse. The president clearly does not fully understand or appreciate the boundaries. But he should. I'm not excusing his behavior. But I'm saying that there are a lot of people in government who should have set him straight.

KEILAR: So, maybe...

COLLINS: And we don't know whether they tried to.

KEILAR: Maybe a potential explanation, if not an excuse. We hear you on that.


KEILAR: I do want to ask you about health care, before I let you go.

There's a quarter-million people in your home state, Maine. And they rely on Medicaid. Are you willing to support a health care bill that would result in people losing Medicaid coverage?

COLLINS: I am not at all comfortable with the House-passed bill. And, indeed, I would oppose the House-passed bill.

The Senate bill is still a work in progress. We haven't seen the actual language. We're trying to influence the direction of that. But a bill that results in 23 million people losing coverage is not a bill that I can support. So, we will see what the Senate comes up with. It's still being drafted.

KEILAR: It seems it would be almost impossible for a bill that does not cut some Medicaid to make it through a Republican Senate and a Republican House.

Do you think you're being heard on -- on what you're saying about people losing Medicaid?

COLLINS: Well, certainly, the outline of the Senate bill is far superior to the House bill, but we have got a ways to go yet.

Now, there are ways to reduce the cost of Medicaid, and you can do that through managed care, such as the Indiana model. And that has produced better health outcomes and lower costs. So there are ways to reduce the cost of Medicaid without throwing people off the rolls.

KEILAR: All right, Senator Collins, thank you so much, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, joining us this Sunday.

We appreciate it.

COLLINS: Thank you.

KEILAR: And coming up: Over 19 million people watched James Comey's testimony on Capitol Hill this week, but President Trump may have set the stage for an even bigger testimony, his own. Is he about to go under oath?

We have that next.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did say under oath that you told him to let the Flynn -- you said you hoped the Flynn investigation you can let --



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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he said those things under oath, would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of --


TRUMP: One hundred percent.


KEILAR: President Trump ready to go under oath in the Russia investigation. He responded to reporters' questions about his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, who testified that the president asked him to back off the Flynn investigation.

It has been a remarkable week in Washington. Here with their insights on it, former Trump campaign strategist David Urban, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, former Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, and Neera Tanden, she is the president and CEO of The Center for American Progress.

David, to you. Will the president regret this pledge of 100 percent he's willing to testify?

DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: No, the president is not going to regret it at all. The president wants to cooperate. The president will cooperate, has been cooperating and will continue to do so. Listen, Director Mueller has an investigation ongoing and it will be ongoing for quite some time. The president will have a great big -- has a legal team, has a lawyer in place, and will listen to his lawyer but the president will cooperate -- I don't suspect that he -- that he -- that he will not for one second, so what he said he will follow through on.

KEILAR: We asked the question over and over, do you believe the former FBI director or do you believe President Trump on this? It's a he said/he said thing, but in a court of law, chairman, that's not always the case, right, considering that Comey had memos here? Those get some weight, don't they?

MIKE ROGERS (R), FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR: They do. The one problem here I think on both sides of this -- well, first of all that we're talking about this at all with the Russia influence in the investigation hardly came up with those influence in the election, excuse me, hardly even came up in those things, with all the world problems, we are very narrowly focused and I -- what I saw in that hearing was really I think confirming my mother's old adage that if you're going to practice the lesson of meanness, be careful it might just take.

And what you saw there was two personal individuals, both pretty angry about what was going on, play out in the court of public opinion. Bad day for the president in the court of public opinion. What I saw there did not rise to the legal status of obstruction of justice.

KEILAR: Neera -- you're shaking your head, Neera.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I mean, what happened here is the FBI director took contemporaneous notes so it does add to the legal weight of what happened and we must have watched different hearings because seemed to me I saw the merits but it doesn't matter what I think. It matters what a court of law and what the special prosecutor thinks. And I think after what the president said on Friday I hope he will obviously cooperate with the special prosecutor, but we need to get answers in the public.


So I hope he will testify in Congress about this conversation. Director Comey has testified. He should testify. We should be able to see the president answer questions specific questions about this, not at a press conference but with the Senate.

KEILAR: I do want to -- I do want to talk about something Donald Trump Jr. said because it's pretty fascinating.


KEILAR: This was an interview to "FOX News" and he seems to suggest that the president did indeed tell James Comey, hey, I hope this happens, I hope that you will let this go. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP JR., EVP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: When he tells you to do something, 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, I felt threatened. He felt so threatened but he didn't do anything.


KEILAR: Hey, that's what he told Comey. Now the president says that is not what he told Comey. He's saying that he didn't express any hope on this, Congressman.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well here's I think, he said 100 percent he's ready to testify under oath. Comey has already testified under oath. There's one thing we all know about FBI and FBI agents is you cannot lie to an FBI agent, that in itself is a lie.

ROGERS: It's a crime.

GUTIERREZ: It's a crime.


GUTIERREZ: And he came under oath and spoke, so here's what I think we should do, we should just call his bluff. I mean, this is the same president of the United States that said to us a hundred percent I'm going to give you my income taxes. If I could just finish -- that way we could all get a word in.

He said a hundred percent I'm going to give you my income taxes, 100 percent, 100 percent. We've never seen them. Let's call his bluff now, and let's remember, as my friend Mr. Rogers suggested to us, what happened to the investigation into the undue influence of a foreign country in our electoral process, but at the same time this has gone from an intelligence committee setting to Judiciary Committee setting.

KEILAR: They're doing -- that with --


GUTIERREZ: If I could just finish, if I could just finish, if I could just finish. No, no but -- if I could just finish. Why is that? Because now we're talking about what the president said to the director of the FBI.

KEILAR: Is this a problem -- but, David --

GUTIERREZ: And he asked -- he asked the vice president to leave the room. He asked -- he asked the vice president to leave the room and he asked the attorney general to leave the room when he had that conversation.

URBAN: So we've heard from --

KEILAR: Is this -- but, David, just back to the point about Don Jr., he is saying that his father did do this thing that his father says he didn't.

URBAN: He (ph) wasn't (ph) in (ph) the room -- two people were in the room. Inappropriate we've heard from numerous legal scholars, OK, lawyers, professors. Other than Jeff Toobin, nobody thinks there's a crime here.


URBAN: No, no.


URBAN: It's my turn. It's my turn. It's my turn, Neera. Sorry. We're taking turns, it's mine.

KEILAR: But there are --

URBAN: Inappropriate --


KEILAR: I mean, David, there are -- no, no, no. David --

URBAN: Can I finish? Inappropriate doesn't --


KEILAR: But, David, if you say something that isn't factual.

URBAN: I am saying it (ph) to (ph) be (ph) factual.

KEILAR: There are people who say this is a problem.

URBAN: Maybe let me finish? Inappropriate doesn't rise to the level of specific corrupt intent. OK?

KEILAR: But it could and that's what some legal experts are saying.

URBAN: Well, you know what?

TANDEN: Yes, many legal experts are saying exactly it's wrong.

URBAN: Tell me who they are, Neera.


TANDEN: I mean, (INAUDIBLE) "The Washington Post," there are five -- there are five legal scholars.

URBAN: Based on what you heard there yesterday -- or (INAUDIBLE).

TANDEN: Yes, based on what they heard on Friday because as the president getting (ph) people out of the room. If what the FBI director said is true the language I hope has been --

(CROSSTALK) URBAN: That's a chasm the size of the Grand Cannon.

ROGERS: This whole thing tells you why it should be left in the hands of a special prosecutor.

URBAN: You have a special prosecutor.

TANDEN: Absolutely.

ROGERS: You are never going to get an honest assessment of what that testimony meant or did not mean. It didn't mean -- you can have lawyers talk about -- there's lots of impeachable statements by the director of the FBI in his testimony, right?

So if you're talking about a legal standard which should be very, very high, certainly that testimony alone didn't meet it, and so best to leave this really, other than the court of public opinion.

TANDEN: No, he (ph) didn't. I don't know why you're saying that --

ROGERS: Really the other thing...


ROGERS: ... public opinion where this is going to be --


URBAN: Last week everybody --


TANDEN: There are numerous legal scholars who say that what the president did rises to obstruction of justice. Now, maybe you don't think it is and I'm glad we have a prosecutor that was sought (ph) by this White House, that thankfully we have one that will make this determination. But it is absolutely false to say nothing the president did, if Director Comey is right, and Trump is wrong, which you know, he said he had tapes, we're going to -- we have a case of obstruction of justice.

KEILAR: And my friend that is where we are going unfortunately to have to leave it. Chairman, Neera, David, Congressman, thank you so much to all of you on this topic. Of course, we will have much more ahead after a break.

And when we come back, President Trump and his team have a plan to move past the controversies and the plan that might be coming from a Democrat on this.


Who is it? We'll have that next.




REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president's new at this. He's new to government, and so he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He's just new to this.


KEILAR: House Speaker Paul Ryan offering his take on accusations that President Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to back off the Flynn investigation. Will that fly?


The panel is back with me now. So this is the argument, David. President Trump didn't know any different. He's new to this. Does that fly?

URBAN: Yes. Brianna, that's not -- that's not the argument. That was one explanation from one person.

KEILAR: We also heard it from Senator Collins. You have Republicans who are more than one who are saying this.

URBAN: So that's some people's explanation. You know what? I don't believe is an explanation from Director Comey when asked why he -- he was so uncomfortable. He felt so awkward, if it was so inappropriate what the president did nine times, why didn't he address the president, why didn't he say directly to president, this is an inappropriate conversation we can't have. Instead he scampered outside to his SUV, scribbled down in a (INAUDIBLE) some private notes to keep later and in case of emergency break glass and then leak those to a Columbia professor once he lost his job.

TANDEN: Can I just say this --

GUTIERREZ: The president's not some kid in some internship as president of the United States, that doesn't know what he's doing. He sold himself as I know how to get this job done, to the American people. He knew exactly what he was doing.

A, he asked his son-in-law to leave the room. He asked the attorney general to leave the room, and he asked the vice president to leave the room. That sounds like somebody who knew exactly what he was doing because he didn't want any witnesses when he went and spoke to the director, and we shouldn't blame --


GUTIERREZ: No but I --


URBAN: Have you -- have you never done something -- (CROSSTALK)

GUTIERREZ: Can I just -- can I say something?

URBAN: Sure.

GUTIERREZ: I know a con artist when I see one.

URBAN: Have you never done --


GUTIERREZ: And I saw a con artist that day.

URBAN: I take umbrage -- that's completely inappropriate...


URBAN: ... it's not inappropriate.


GUTIERREZ: This is the president of the United States that went...

URBAN: Congressman --

GUTIERREZ: ... to the FBI director.

URBAN: You've never done that with one of your constituents?

GUTIERREZ: And went to the FBI director and said to him, end an investigation, and then we're supposed to believe he really doesn't know what he's doing.


URBAN: Have you ever -- have you ever asked --


URBAN: (INAUDIBLE). Have you ever asked in a room with your constituents asked your staff, hey, just hang back, (INAUDIBLE), I want to talk to you? Have you ever asked that?


URBAN: It's a simple question.

KEILAR: I don't know if that's apples to apples -- Neera.

TANDEN: Can I just -- can I just say here you mentioned the leaking.

First of all, plenty of courts -- just to answer your question, plenty of courts have said things like when you ask everyone to leave and hold someone back is actually a determination of motive, so just to answer that question, that for a court of law usually does show motive.

Number two, the whole issue of leaking, I look at what Director Comey did in this situation as whistle blowing. Because what happened with the president is on Friday -- you can laugh, but what happened with the president is, on a Friday, he said there were tapes. He said there were tapes of the conversations or there may be tapes of the conversation, and that is when Director Comey decided to say, OK, I need to get an alternative set of reality here, which are the actual facts.

URBAN: On nine times --


KEILAR: But back to --

TANDEN: It's whistle blowing.

KEILAR: Is "I'm new here" an excuse, a way to explain, oh, I just -- I didn't know what I was doing, it's not nefarious, when you're talking about several meetings and phone calls?

ROGERS: No. It's not. And what the special prosecutor will have to do is take the totality of all of it. This one system in my mind as a former FBI investigator does not rise to the level of obstruction of justice but that's why you have a special prosecutor. They'll talk -- they'll go all the way around it. Do the nine meetings just to give it weight.

The worst -- I think the worst problem this president has in this instance is the president himself. If he would stop talking about the small ball individual tweets, attacking Director Comey personally, I think we could get beyond this. I think the special investigator is going to have to have some room to investigate.

GUTIERREZ: Listen the president of the United States under oath he said a hundred percent he's ready and I think we can settle this.


URBAN: The assistant --

TANDEN: He said himself the reason why he said in his --

GUTIERREZ: Hundred percent.

TANDEN: In the interview with Lester Holt he gave the reason why he was fired. He said "I fired him because I had the Russia investigation on my mind." So you're right. I say look at the totality and look at the president's own words in the Lester Holt interview and it tells you why he --


KEILAR: David Urban, final word -- final word to you here. URBAN: Let's go back to what Direct Comey did. This is -- don't take my word. The assistant director of the FBI of the criminal division was on this show, not this show but on this network last week saying what the director did was inappropriate. After that first meeting when -- Neera, don't roll your eyes. Go back and watch the tape.

He said, it was inappropriate. He's a part -- part of this investigation he should have recused himself. He was a material witness, a fact witness, part of it, he should have walked across the street and handed off, could have gone to the Hill, could have gone to Congressman Gutierrez, Senator Feinstein. Plenty of people he could have gone to instead --

TANDEN: He gave -- he gave his reason for this. He tried to do the investigation.

GUTIERREZ: Under oath. Under oath give his explanation of what happened.


KEILAR: And my friends --

TANDEN: ... then the president would have impeded the investigation or (ph) getting rid (ph) of (ph) it (ph).


ROGERS: A conviction in the public court of opinion is not a conviction in the court of law. Very, very -- two different things.

KEILAR: Final word from the chairman. Thank you so much, Congressmen, David, Neera Tanden and Chairman Rogers. We do appreciate it.

After the break, Joe Biden echoes Democratic anger with Donald Trump and turns to a Republican? Who does he want to run for office? Some shocking new political bedfellows next.



KEILAR: In the past few days, Mitt Romney revealed Hillary Clinton encouraged him to take the secretary of state job had President Trump offered it. Then, former vice president Joe Biden encouraged Romney to run for the U.S. Senate next year, but as Romney eyes a possible return to public life our CNN's Dana Bash finds out he may not be alone.


MITT ROMNEY (R), 2012 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mitt Romney may have lost the presidency.

MITT ROMNEY: I had a wonderful evening with president-elect Trump.

BASH: And his shot at being secretary of state, but he hasn't completely retired from politics as he proved this weekend, hosting a bipartisan crowd of big names for his annual leadership summit. The meeting comes as Romney's name is being floated as a possible senator from Utah, while his son Josh is considering running for governor?

JOSH ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: America is an amazing place. And you look at where we stand today and the freedoms that we enjoy -- that's my big concern is the next generation and our future in this country.

BASH: His mother Ann is certainly onboard.

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: Go for it. It's worth making a difference.

BASH: After all, politics runs deep in the Romney blood. Mitt Romney's father George was also a governor who ran for president.


BASH: Yet, right now, she may be the most powerful member of the Romney clan.

BASH (on camera): What do these pictures have in common? Let's see.

MCDANIEL: I don't know. Yes, there is a -- there is a familiar theme here. I'm very happy to add a feminine touch to this wall.

BASH (voice-over): Ronna Romney McDaniel is the new chair of the Republican National Committee, the first woman to have that job in decades.

BASH (on camera): Your uncle ran for president, so did your grandpa.

MCDANIEL: Yes. And my mom ran for Senate and my dad had run for attorney general. And I thought, I kind of go get into party politics so I can figure out how to win and get some of my family members across the finish line.


Unfortunately, this year, we didn't have any Romneys on the ballot. But I was so thrilled to work for Donald Trump.

BASH (voice-over): In fact this week, she led the RNC's effort to defend President Trump against James Comey's allegations.

MCDANIEL: This is a distraction.

BASH (on camera): Your uncle Mitt Romney was quite outspoken about his criticism of Donald Trump.

MITT ROMNEY: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.

MCDANIEL: It was just a difference of opinion as to where the country needed to go, but it didn't affect my relationship with my Uncle Mitt. We just -- we just saw this one a little differently. And I think he's thrilled as I am thrilled that Donald Trump is the president.

BASH (voice-over): Politics is the family business. Even for the next generation of Romneys.


KEILAR: And thank you so much for watching.