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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  May 11, 2017 2:00pm-3:01pm PDT

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and facebook or tweet the show. we actually read them. that is it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i now turn you over to mr. wolf blitzer in "the situation roo.". happening now, breaking news, showboat. president trump attacks the ousted fbi director james comey saying he would have fired him regardless of the justice department recommendation. ending the investigation.white house says it wants the russia investigation to come to its conclusion and says it has, quote, taken steps to make that happen by removing director comey. broad support. the acting fbi director rejects claims that the fbi employees had lost faith in comey saying he holds koechl comey in the hi regard and that he still has the support of the vast majority within the bureau.
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and russian relations, a day of after president trump welcomed russia diplomats into the oval office giving the russians an exclusive photo opportunity, moscow says president trump and president trump putin will meet in july. administration official says that is premature. is moscow calling the shots? i'm wolf blit slzer and you're "the situation room." the contradictions keep piling up and the white house story just doesn't add up on the firing of james comey. president trump got personal calling comey a showboat but now says he is going to fire comey regardless of the justice department's recommendations and requested a memo from justice to baunk his decision. but the president's own letter to comey said he had accepted the recommendation of the attorney general and his deputy and the white house repeatedly
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said the president acted on that recommendation firefight recommendation. and while the white house insisted james koechl lost the confidence of the fbi employees, acting director testified that he holds comey in the highest regard and comey still has broad support within the bureau and he promised to lawmakers he would reveal any attempts at political interference and he pledged the russia probe will move forward. the president repeated that comey told him three times that he is not under investigation, he says comey told him that directly and he said he thinks he heard it from others. and the white house today said it wants the russia investigation to, quote, come to its conclusion adding that it has taken steps to make that happen by removing director comey. i'll talk to senator blumenthal
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and our correspondents and guests are standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories. president trump gets personal attacking james comey and saying he planned to fire the fbi dwrektd tore before 2k3wgetting such advice from the justice department, but that is a sharp departure from the scenario painted over and over again by the white house over the past 48 hours. let's begin with our white house correspondent athena jones. more confusion, more contradictions out of the white house today. >> reporter: that's right. we're talking about constantly changing stories coming from the people whose job it is to speak on behalf of the administration. over the last couple of days, it seems that we've gotten a new explanation or partial exabout plan nation every few hours depending on who is doing the talking. and this suggests a real crisis of credibility. another day, another explanation for why,i inwhen and how presid trump arrived at the decision to
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fire james comey. the president now telling nbc -- >> i was going to fire comey. there is no good time do it by the way. >> because if your letter you said i accepted their recommendation. so you had already made the decision? >> oh, i was going fire regardless. >> reporter: those words at odds with the story line white house staffers began pushing just hours after the bombshell move to oust the man leading the probe into possible collusion between trump associates and russian officials during the presidential campaign. >> i think you're look at the wrong set of facts here. >> reporter: tuesday night kellyanne conway said the president was acting on the recommendation of deputy attorney generaled erod rosens whose memo was critical of the handling of the clinton e-mail investigation. >> he acted descisively and too the recommended days of his deputy attorney general who -- >> that makes no sense. >> reporter: that line echoed
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the next morning by the vice president. right decision at the right time. to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to ask for the termination to support the termination of the director of the fbi. >> reporter: by wednesday afternoon, the story had changed. the white house arguing the president had been losing confidence in comey since november despite evidence to the contrary like this statement of support just last month. >> i have confidence in him. we'll see what happens. >> reporter: the white house today down playing the conflicting stories. >> it was a quick moving process. we took the information we had as best we have it and got it out to the american are people as quickly as we use. >> reporter: according to the new time line from the white house, a key factor in the president's decision was comey's appearance on capitol hill last week. sources telling cnn trump was infuriated by the testimony. particularly when the director
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said this. >> this is terrible. it makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. but honestly, it wouldn't change the decision. >> reporter: and sources tell cnn it was comey's handling of the russia probe, not the clinton e-mail one, that let the white house, quote, white hot and concerned that comey, quote, was his own man. the president today openly admitting that on three separate occasions, he spoke directly to comey about the russia investigation. >> i asked a dinner with him, he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. we had a very nice dinner at the white house. >> he asked? >> dinner was arranged. i think he asked for the dinner. and he wanted to stay on as the fbi head. and i said i'll consider it, we'll see what happens. but we had very nice dinner and at that time he told me you are not under investigation. >> directly from him? >> and during a phone call he said it and during another phone call he said it. so once at dinner and twice
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during phone calls. >> did you call him? >> in one case i called him and one he called me. i asked him, if it's possible, will you let me know am i under investigation. you said you are not under investigation. >> so very interesting exchange there. the president clearly sees no issue with the fact that he's talking repeatedly he says to the man who is heading up this russia investigation. but from his perspective, there is nothing to see here. he is not personally being investigated. we know the president has been hostile to the whole idea of this russia investigation recently calling it a taxpayer funded charade and he took to twitter in the last hour to say that russia must be lafring ugh their sleeves as the u.s. tears itself apart over democrat excuse for losing the election. >> all right. these in jones at house. white house says by removing
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james co-the investigation in to russia's lelgts election meddling may send sooner, butvo head. let's go to pamela brown. tell us about today's testimony. >> reporter: the now acting director of the fbi testified today that james comey's firing will have no impact on the probe that he called highly significant and he said comey had the full backing of the fbi rank and file directly contradicting the white house. tonight the acting director for the fbi andrew mccabe assuring that the russian investigation has not and will not be hindered by the firing of former director james comey. >> there has been no effort to impede our investigation to date. quite simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the fbi from doing the right thing, protecting the american people and upholding the
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constitution. >> reporter: and mccabe pledging that he will alert committee if there are any indications the investigation is being tampered with. >> for as long as you are acting fbi director, do you commit to informing this xhilts difference any effort to interfere with the ongoing investigation into links between russia and trump campaign? >> i absolutely do. >> reporter: while the interim direct door wou director would not comment on conversations president trump said he had with comey where comey told the president he was not personally under investigation -- >> i can't comment on any conversations the director may have had with the president. >> reporter: he did say that reports of comey asking deputy attorney general rod rosenstein for more resources to con gukdu the probe are contrary to the normal procedure. >> i'm not aware of that request and it's not consistent with my understanding of how we request additional resources. i stroonkly belie strongly beli
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investigation is adequately resourced. >> reporter: but he did contradict the as serious that comey lost the confidence of the rank and file. >> i can tell you that the vast majority of fbi employ yis enjoyed a deep and positive connection to driktd tore comey. >> reporter: the white house today even saying it believes comey's firing will help bring the russia investigation to an end. >> we want if to come to a conclusion to integrity and we believe that we have taken steps to make that happen. >> reporter: and a telling sign of where the investigation is focused, senator widen grilled mike pompeo about what the cia did to mitigate any potential damage surrounding michael flynn continuing in his role despite being compromised by the russians. the committee has subpoenaed flynn. >> did you know about the acting attorney general's warnings to the white house or were you
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aware of the concerns behind the warning? >> reporter: i don't have any comment on that. >> were you aware of the concerns behind the warning? i mean, there is a global threat. this is a global threat. >> sghor, teenator, tell me wha threat it is you're concerned with. >> the possibility of blackmail would i by an influential military official. that has ramp if i indications for a global threat. >> reporter: meeting on capitol hill today to discuss the russia investigation's path forward. >> regardless of what happens by the justice department or fbi, the investigation by the senate intelligence xliltsity will continue on its current course as aggressively as we're able to. >> reporter: and all of this as questions swirl around rose a
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rosenstein's role. sources say he was unhappy with how koecomey found out about it telling reporters that he has no plans to quit. >> familiar la brown reporting. thank you. as the white house doubles down on its criticism of james co-and the preside comey, the fired fbi director got high praise from republican senator richard burr, chairman of the senate intelligence committee. listen to this. >> the president just told lester holt that he was going to fire dwrekirector to comey whet or not he had the recommendation and called him a showboat and grand stander. do you agree with that assessment? you just heard something different. >> i'm not going to speak for senator warner. i put out a statement the night of the director's firing. i found him to be one of the most ethical, up right
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straightforward individuals i've had the opportunity to work with. >> turning to senator richard blumenthal, democrat, thanks very much to joining us. let me get your quick reaction to what the president said about comey, a showboat, grand stander, and he said the fbi was in turmoil. >> absolutely wrong. we heard it most authoritatively from the deputy director of the fbi, but whatever his thougfauly be, director comey is a professional prosecutor. and i may have disagreed with him, and i did on a number of occasion, but firing him raiseses spector of a coverup and we face a looming constitution al crisis because of the loss of trust and confidence in our justice system. >> those are strong words. coverup. looming constitutional crisis. the white housedeputy press second said today that the
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russia investigation should come to its conclusion win telling gril with integrity, they think that removing comey is a step toward making that happen.telling with integrity, they think that removing comey is a step toward making that happen. >> it have no doubt that they want to come to a conclusion. the question is with in-telling gitsity. and right new they are on the track seemingly to bring to conclusion without a just outcome. to stifle and stop it. and i thinks of fired because of his request for additional resources. and anyone who has done investigations knows that the life blood of a successful investigation is resources. agents, money, support. and i think that request can may have precipitated his firing. >> explain what you mean when you say there could be a coverup here. what do you mine, who you mean
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covering up? >> if jim comey was coming close to people whom the white house wanted to protect, people who might have information that implicated people now in the whus and it wanted to stifle or stop that investigation by firing jim comey, that is a cover june. that is potentially obstruction of justice. and that is why we need an independent special process are cute tore to assure not only that this investigation is effective and fair, but also that trust and confidence of the american people in that justice system. even if you believe that the president of the united states has done nothing wrong, and no one in the white house is cu culpable, all the more reason there should be an independent prosecutor because the result has to have trust and kred credibility. >> you've thrown out the word impeachment. tell us what you mean. >> no one should pre-judge, but
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the evidence has to be pursued. the old saying history doesn't repeat, but it rhymes. there is a feeling and tone here, a sense that it may look very much like watergate in the sense that people at the top wanted to stop or stifle the investigation. and watergate remember was a two-bit break-in. here we have a threat to the democracy. in fact a theft of our democracy attempted by the russians and possible collusion by trump associates in that criminal act that threatens our democracy. >> in that letter firing koechl, the president wrote while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i'm not under investigation, i never the less concur with the judgment of the department of justice that you are not able to effecting differencely lead t ll lly effe the bur re. today the interview with lester holt, he defended that he got
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the word he said directly from the fbi director that he himself was not under investigation. your reaction. >> i have doubts that jim comey put in words or anything like them that the president was not under investigation or that he wouldn't be in the future potentially a target because when i asked him under oath before the judiciary committee whether he would rule out the president as a potential target, he said he would not do so. now, he added that he couldn't rule out anyone, but that is the way an investigation is conducted. and no one is ruled out until the investigation is concluded. the reason is that one of the targets may lead to evidence implicating others. and jim comey has done enough investigations that he would not in my view use those words to rule out the -- >> here is the question. the senate minority leader chuck schumer, he just announced that
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mitch mcconnell is inviting deputy attorney general rod rosenstein to an all-centers briefing at the capital next week. what would you ask him? >> i would want to know what the type line was time line was, whether he received instructions as to what he should say in that late letter, what research he did to dwerm that the justice department was in so-called turmoil. the handling of the hillary clinton e-mails was sufficient reason to fire him that having occurred ten months before. i find that letter really a rude chris pretense to fire. >> the letter from the president. >> he letter from -- >> do you not believe the president when the president
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said comey told him on three separate occasions that he was nolts the t not the target of an investigation? >> i have trouble believing that he put it in that kind of emphatic language because it would be improper for jim comey in leading that investigation to tell anyone that they were not potentially under investigation. >> senator, we'll take a quick break. we'll resume this interview. we have more questions on all the breaking news right after this. who's the new guy? they call him the whisperer. the whisperer? why do they call him the whisperer? he talks to planes. he talks to planes. watch this. hey watson, what's avionics telling you? maintenance records and performance data suggest replacing capacitor c4. not bad.
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president trump slams james co-as, quote, show the boat oig and grand stander. says he would have fired comey regardless of the justice department recommendation, but that contradicts repeated white house claims that trump based his move on the advice of the attorney general and deputy attorney general. we're back with senator blumenthal. why didn't jeff sessions recuse himself from this dismissal recommendation? >> that is a question that i'm going to put to him when we have the all-senators meeting that has just been announced. but i believe he should be called back to the judiciary committee to answer that question and why he denied meetings with the russians. i also believe that the deputy attorney general should testify before the judiciary committee under oath. and the mystery is why he chose to involve himself in this
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decision to fire jim comey vochivoc involving an investigation that he felt he could not oversee as attorney general. and his recusal as a matter of fact makes all the more necessary the appointment of this independent special prosecutor by the deputy attorney general. >> your senate colleague senator camilla harris told cnn that she thinks sessions should resign. do you think that? >> i believe we're at the point where there should be a review of abo. i'm not prepared to say he should right now. but if jim comey is going to go, there is certainly equal merit in having that considered for the attorney general. >> the judiciary committee would have to confirm the nomination of a new fbi director before give me an example of someone
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you would like to see the president nominate. >> the next fbi director has to be of unquestionable integrity, expe expertise in criminal just tirks preferably in prosecuting, and the kind of leadership skills that will be required to sustain the more really and determiale the fbi. and as i said this afternoon, the fbi is one of the great law inside forcement agencies in the world. and i've worked with fooibl gt as over the years n. various capacities. they really deserve a leader who will sustain and help restore if there has been a loss in credibility their reputation for excellence. but equally important is the special prosecutor because only an independent special process tore can make decisions about
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whether to proprosecute. >> senator lee recommendedproce about whether to prosecute. >> senator lee recommended merrick garland. is that someone you could support? >> senator lee should get an "a" for originality, but i think that it's unlikely that merrick garland would take that role. i would support him for it if he chose to do so because he does have a back ground in criminal justice, he's been a prosecutor. and i think would bring the kind of integrity to that position. >> any chanthe chances that the president would nominate garland are pretty slim. more breaking news coming in, more after this. experience the first-ever 471-horsepower lexus lc 500 or the multistage hybrid lc 500h. experience amazing.
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we're following breaking news. president trump calling the fired fbi director james comey a showboat and grand democratic stanl stander. and he went into detail about the three times comey said he was not under any investigation. i'll play the clip why the president was asked to explain high school as serious that koechl to comey told him he is not being investigated. >> he said it once at dinner and twice during phone call tsz.tol investigated. >> he said it once at dinner and twice during phone call tsz. >> did you ask am i under investigation? >> i actually asked. i said if it's possible, would you let me know am i under investigation. he said you are not under investigation.
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>> so the president just admitted that he formally asked the fbi director about the status of a possible criminal investigation into his campaign involving and he was the lead erd of that campaign. your reaction. >> that makes sense that that is the way you do business in new york. it does not make sense that that is the way you do business when you are the president of united states and you are talking to the fbi director. this is a double whammy. because not only did he go out of bounds in admitting that he talked to the fbi director about an investigation into people who work for him durning ting the cn but in the same conversation they talked about james comey's job process pektd prospects and whether he would stay in the job. and who decides? donald trump.
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it's alarming. and i think what is even more alarming is that he doesn't seem to get how unusual and out of bounds this is. >> i want you to elaborate on that, but also listen to the deputy white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders at the briefing earlier today. listen to this quote. >> we want this to come to its conclusion, we want to come to its conclusion with integrity and we think by removing director comey taken steps to make that happen. >> was that appropriate? you're a former federal prosecutor. >> in a word, no. and the reason, you have the impression to the american people that one of the motivations was political, that you wanted to somehow stop or impede or interfere or whatever fancy way you want for say halt and investigation. and you're saying we fired james comeyto say halt and investigation. and you're saying we fired james comey with the anticipation to conclude an investigation, that suggests that your motivation was not with respect to what your letter said or what
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rosenstein's letter said. it was about the russia investigation. and that is inappropriate and potentially open to exposure for obstruction and that -- >> obstruction of justice. >> and that should have a very wide implication for this president of the united states. it's as if he's oblivious are to the fact that the words that he speaks must match the ones of his spokesman and that they have to connect in order to give a compa coherent excan x. plan nation. >> you know a lot of people are drawing comparison to the inappropriate meeting that former president-elect had with the then attorney general loretta lynch who was in charge of the investigation of the hillary clinton e-mail uproar. are these two meetings similar? >> let's see james koechl's sco of things which i hope we get with. but it's certainly not in the good space that you would do. again, we went through this in
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the campaign a lot. dana makes a good point. donald trump would say and do things where you would think he's running for president, and he's saying and doing that. but it's even different now because he is the president. we're talking about the president of the united states in a dinner with james comey saying, so you want to talk about your job? i just wanted to bring up am i under investigation? what are you supposed do if you're jim comey? this is the guy who literally holds your job in his hand. he has no filter. donald trump. he has no sense of sort of what you say and what you can't say, that as has been true of him. the problem now is to return to the point, he's the president of the united states and what he says and does matters. >> you've worked at the cia and also at the fbi. you third theard the acting fbi director of it on capitol hill. he said it would be outside standard practice for a direct are tore comey to reveal the status of any investigation to a
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potential target. what do you make of this? >> this is pretty straightforward. the president signed a check, jim comey will bounce it one of these days. remember, there is a press department that is not that old.president of the united states alleged there a wiretapping of tour. jim koeccomey came out and said did not happen. not only do i guarantee comey didn't say that, bullpen he could n but key not have said that. how can he say i can guarantee you will never become a target. doesn't make sense.not have sai. how can he say i can guarantee you will never become a target. doesn't make sense. intere >> and back to the comparison of loretta lynch. that was a perception issue. people who were there said that they didn't talk about the investigation. it was mere perception. here you have the president saying it's not that they had dinner, they had dinner and talked about something that they are not supposed to talk about. it is way beyond that. >> just to be precise, bill clinton be boarded her plane, not the other way. but the point is --
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>> they were together. >> during the campaign, then candidate donald trump bit early attacked both of them for that meeting suggesting that it was totally inappropriate. >> and legally speaking though, we want to hear from comey. we want know what he had to say. it's curious will president trump say executive privilege corresponds to those conversations. now executive privilege goes both ways for people. it's been successful for some presidents and a night married for others. and so what will happen now is really the question.married for others. and so what will happen now is really the question. >> all right. more on the break are being news after this. it comes to technology, i need someone that understands my unique needs. my dell small business advisor has gotten to know our business so well that is feels like he's a part of our team. with one phone call, he sets me up with tailored products and services. and when my advisor is focused on my tech, i can focus on my small business. ♪
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i want to play another clip lester holt speaking to the president. listen. >> he's a showboat, a grand stander. the fbi has been in turmoil. everybody knows that. you tack a lolook a year ago go was in virtual turmoil. it hasn't recovered. >> monday you met with rod rosenstein. did you ask for a recommendation? >> what i did is i was going to fire comey. my decision. it was not -- >> you had made the decision before with they came in the room? >> i was going fire comey. there is no good time do it by the way. >> because in your let erd you said i accepted their
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recommendation. >> i was going to fire regardless of recommendation. >> from the white house perspective though, that completely undermines what white house officials have been saying over the past two days. >> i want to start out on a positive. and the positive is that one of the reasons donald trump is so different from everybody else is something that we should applaud. he actually answers questions. and he answers them in the way that, you know, to the dismay of many of his staffers who are out there on a limb saying something completely opposite seems to be true. what he said is the real deal. he was going to fire james koechl. he was going to do it. and it did leave his spokesperson kellyanne conway forced to go on tv and clean up the bad communication strategy which by the way was not the shop's fault because they didn't know about it and the have not of the united states who all said, oh, no, no, because he got a recommendation from the new deputy attorney genergeneral.
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and now we know that wasn't the case and the president at mids that. >> and the vice president said -- >> accept times. seven times. this is what my life has come to. i think donald trump does not like when anyone gets credit for something that he believes he rightly deserves credit for. he wants the credit for firing jam james comey. he believes this is a decisive action that he took. same thing with the comey thing, one thing he didn't like, comey saying that it made him mildly nauseous to play a role in the election. trump doesn't like that. he wants this was his historic victory.
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not anybody else's. >> very quickly, remember when i slammed the intelligence community, went to the cia headquarters and had a speech there and now there a lot of upset people over the fbi, should he go to the fbi and sort of deliver a speech there as well? >> i hope he goes. because this will be a comic strip. i can tell you his perception of the reception that he will get, it will be an ugly scene. it's not because everybody thought jim comey was perfect. he was well liked versus a president who just in a political investigation eliminated the director of the fbi. i think he would get mocked. >> okay. we're continuing to follow breaking news and also seeing new reports from russia claiming presidents trump and putin will be meeting in person this summer. we'll have details when we come back. back. losely. 1y50ir7b8gs every chip, and ev, ata th make fference between winning and losing.
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we're following breaking news. president trump saying it was his idea to fire james comey calling the former fbi director a showboat and a grandstander. we're also seeing new reports from russia claiming the president will meet with russia's vladimir putin face-to-face later this summer. let's go to cnn brian todd. what are you hearing? >> reporter: administration officials are pushing back on the russian's claim of a trump/putin meeting. the president himself seems to be disgust disgusted about the -- russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the u.s. tears itself apart. there does now seem to be some crowing in moscow over everything that's going on here
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in washington. tonight the dynamic between president trump and his russian counter part seems to be a battle of optics. the two leaders will meet in july at the g20 summit in germany. that no meeting is confirmed and the russians are getting away ahead of this. >> there's no doubt the russians have been pushing harder than the u.s. has for a meeting. >> reporter: it comes as these optics are making white house furious. russia's ambassador to the u.s. moscow denies he's a spy. the photos taken a day after the president fired his fbi director, which sources tell cnn was partly a response to the russia investigation. these photos were taken by russian media and posted. putin asked trump for the meeting but the russians tricked
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the administration about the photos which the white house didn't want published putin must be enjoying all this. >> what he loves is that americans are spun up about the russia issue we have investigations ongoing, we have constant media coverage, we have public and political debate, we have outrage and we have an administration which is increasing hemmed in by all of that. >> reporter: putin skates through it all. he scores six goals and is never checked into the boards during an exhibition hockey game. he tells cbs james comey firing is an issue with the americans, not him. >> translator: we have nothing to do with that. he's acting in accordance with his law and constitution. >> reporter: trump long promised a warmer relationship with russia and putin which drew fire during the campaign. >> he'd rather have a puppet as president. >> no puppet, no puppet. you're the puppet. >> but with the investigations probing his campaigns ties to the russia and the fiasco over the comey firing, president
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trump now risks giving putin the upper hand whenever they meet. >> he's just salivating. just thinking oh, my gosh, this guy throwing a temper tantrum, totally undisciplined, can't stay focused. putin must be thinking this guy's going to be incredibly easy to manipulate. >> reporter: on the idea of putin having the upper hand on president trump, a trump administration official told me that's preposterous. one analyst says putin himself will have a weak hand in a meeting with trump, liabilities like the russian interference with ukraine and syria. putin is good at playing a weak hand strongly. >> that's absolutely true. coming up, breaking news, president trump calls ousted fbi director james comey a showboat, saying he would've fired him regardless of any justice department recommendation, but that directly contradicts repeated white house statements.
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>> vice president pence yesterday said the firing was based on the recommendation of the attorney general and deputy attorney general. we know now that that's not true. was the vice president misled again or did he mislead the american people. >> i believe i've answered the question. >> if you have, i don't think i caught it. "is your daughter ok?" that's where i felt relief. we're the rivera family, and we will be with usaa for life. its witnessed 2 diy duos,s 31 crashes,: 4 food fights, and the flood of '09. it's your paradise perfected with behr premium plus paint. the best you can buy starting under $25. only at the home depot.
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happening now, breaking news, grandstander. president trump belittles the fired fbi director james comey calling him a showboat and a grandstander. trump now says he was going to fire comey any way regardless of the justice department recommendation so why is the president contradicting his own
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white house. white hot anger. sorgss are shedding new light on the president's decision to oust the fbi director. they say mr. trump held a deep grudge against comey for not supporting his wiretapping claim and stewed for days over comey's recent testimony about the election. so what is the real reason trump dismissed him? breach of prot call? the president claims comey told him he's not under investigation, a move that would be a stunning break with fbi precedent. now the white house says comey's firing will help bring the russian investigation to an end. does that suggest obstruction of justice? and they tricked us. white house officials are outraged after russia publishes pictures of the president's meeting with russian officials including one believed to be the country's top spy in the united states. there they are. the images were captured by a russian photographer. why were american


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