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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  May 19, 2017 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT

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and obviously any president has to have great things around him to perform. >> i appreciate your time and thank you so much for coming on. and to all of you, i hope you have a good weekend, thanks as always for joining us, a. i'm about to utter the single shortest looped phrase in news today. our top story is, because as quickly as we say it it is made obsolete by the next story and the next one after that. on top of the president boasting to the russians in the oval office about that nut job comey. we have just gotten word that james comey will testify, will testify publicly before the senate intelligence committee. for that, let's go to the capitol. when is this going to happen? what do you know? >> reporter: we know as of now no date firmly has been set. there's the expectation,
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according to the committee, that this will happen at some point after memorial day, that's what they specifically said in the statement released tonight. so certainly the indication is there that this will happen sometime in the near to short-term future. there had been some fresh concern up here on capitol hill that this would not end up happening in the wake of. they're moving ahead and significant that this is going to be happening not behind closed doors, not in a classified setting, but in public, on camera in an open setting, something that we understand that james comb ykoc wanted to do himself. he's also been invited by two other congressional committees up here who are also investigating this and some registering their displeasure tonight, the senate judiciary committee, the ranking member and the chair out with a statement tonight saying they are disappointed that he declined their invitation to appear before their committee, they are clearly disappointed
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and there's no reason comey can't testify. >> can he talk about the notes he wrote, the memo he wrote, what the president said to him, his concerns about the president, or because there's a criminal investigation with mueller, is that stuff going to be off the table? >> reporter: that's exactly the concern that so many people had up here on capitol hill, this concern that because the special counsel is now investigating and appointed that that might hamstring what he's able to say and i think that still is a very open question, looking forward to this committee testimony, we have heard from so many members of congress that they want to of course hammer him hard, exactly the details of what he said in the memo, who he shared that memo with. of course those details very importa important. >> our old top story from just a few hours ago, that the president not only boasted about firing director comey, but said
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it takes the pressure off him in the russia collusion probe, but also that he said it directly to the russians in the oval 5u6s. reported by the "new york times," the president did just that and more. and also trash talking him in front of the foreign minister and the ambassador. trump told russians that firing "nut job" comey eased pressure from investigation. they write, president trump told russian officials in the oval office this month that firing fbi director james b. comey takes great pressure off him. he said i just fired the head of the fbi, he's crazy, a real nut job, and he also said, i faced great pressure because of russia, that's taken off. end quote. that meeting also ended with the
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president sharing code word classified information that may have put lives at risk. the story hit just minutes before the president departed for an eight-day friendship, starting with an eight-hour flight to saudi arabia. imagine how fun that flight must be, stuck on that plane, with that story just breaking and 14 hours to go. the "new york times" maggie haverman joins us. it's just fascinating reporting, what more did the president say in the meeting? >> he said a couple of things, but among them you saw, he described comey as a real nut job, which is a phrase that he's use it,many people, sometimes on twitter, he said this had taken great pressure off him, that he was not under investigation, he said he would like some help on the issue of ukraine from the russians that this is an issue that's important in america,
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made a joke that he was the only person the russian ambassador had not reached out for a meeting, why didn't you call me? he talked about his crowd size. >> he talked to the russians about his crowd size at the inauguration? >> just in general about his crowd size? >> i mean, look, a lot of this is stuff that he's not saying much there that he hasn't said public publicly, but he is saying it there in the oval office what two russian officials. >> and calling the fbi director a nut job. >> glen fresh and i reported that right after comey was fired, that the president had said that there was something wrong with him or words to that effect. you can have two interpretations of this, you can hear it as adding to the sense that the president fire comey because he was trying to end this investigation, which the president has denied.
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you can take a government official who we spoke to who defended the president's actions who was saying this was actually a negotiating topic, that he was trying to instill guilty in the russian officials, in that the president sees everything personally, that is believable that he would see it that way. his speaking style has continued to get him in trouble. you can take the view that this was done intentionally as a way to please the russians to say look what i did, you know the counter argument is that the pressure on him was by democrats because he said that james comey had been a grand stander and so forth. this is going to continue this going on and on and on and on. and once again, it is information that is dribbling out, contra what the foreign minister had said when he said that the russian nonsense did
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not come up. this is all problematic for the president. >> the white house press secretary sean spicer isn't denying that the president side those things, correct? >> no, he's not. and about that 14-hour plane trip, we have a colleague on that plane, one of our editors is saying we got to call that guy and literally as they were taxiing on the run way, saying, by the way, this is going to pop right when you're in the air, i don't know what's going on in that plane, but it's not a happy place, i would bet the white house pointed out that this was a negotiating tactic, that their, spicer kind of went off to us about how this is the real problem here, the leakers, who leaked classified information, that's their view, and you know, i think at this point, they're having trouble that during the week they have denied stories that have turned out to be
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totally accurate. "the washington post" talking about trump giving up russian intelligence in this meeting with the russians, and the first response was totally untrue. and actually it was totally true. >> i don't know why anybody really when i hear a white house statement now, i don't know whether to believe it or not because there's time after time after time, that the president has done something in a private meeting, and it's clear he doesn't even tell his own people who actually happened, they're told to go out and sell one story, and then the next day, the president starts revealing a whole other side of the story. >> this is not compulsory work, if people don't want to stay in the white house, they don't have to stay there. but they go out and defend the president and then he changes his story the next day, and in the case of rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, the president changed his story back, he initially said he
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fwoofired comey on that recommendation, and then he said it was because of the russian investigation. these are self-inflicted wounds, essentially, he could have even fired comey, a lot of his critics say and he would have been able to do it had they had a replacement lined up. >> have they not said things that were not true about why they did it. >> this really is a self-inflicted error, had he not blamed it on rod rosenstein who then felt the need to appoint a special counsel, i am told largely because of that, because of erosion of confidence. this is all self-inflicted. and now the president is now in his first foreign trip, he's in a place where he needs the american people to believe what he says, you can say hi ss
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supporters will believe him, but that number is only about 30% right now. >> all the people who try to get ahead of the president, who try to figure out what the internal workings of a white house is, this president gives them information in a meeting. you know what? the president of the united states fought the fbi director who was a nut job, and this frees him up? it's kind of amazing, when you think about all the spying that's gone on for decades and decades to get investigationlike th this and then he just hands it out. >> there's a bigger issue here, the president came to office already somewhat at war with the intelligence community and that kind of quieted down, and we have seen these is special events in the past 10, 12 days that have just infuriated people
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in the intelligence committee, in the fbi and else. and he needs these people to advise him. they don't believe a word that comes out of the white house and they're like us. these are just people with axes to kbrichgrind, they are people respect particularly partisan, they're seeing things that are wrong and there's no way to stop it, so they're doing the last resort, coming to the press and trying to make that public and hoping that will stop it. >> how significant is this considering what's happened over the past week. >> we're grading on the news curve because there's so much of it. i think it's significant because
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the president is going to have to address it, it's going to see how he's going to explain it and how believable it was. we don't know what it means, but on its base level, as you said is fascinating, this incredibly surprising look, the president said he was coming to washington to drive a wrecking ball through a lot of things, so to that exte extent, i'm not surprised. but there's disdain for some of the forms of diplomacy. that's not what this is. this is an active investigation and he has been either unable to or unwilling to mod late his behavior accordingly. >> and again, matt, as we mention, it can't be lost that this story came out right after the president took off this afternoon. can you tell me about the timing of this release, it's just
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that's when you were able to go with the story. >> that's happenstance, we're not looking to time stories to a trip or anything like that. in this case, it's not like we're writing about his trip. but it's going to create awkward questions for him. i imagine he'll get on to a degree in saudi arabia. in israel, there's going to be a lot of tough questions, and not just about the meet where he gave up israeli intelligence. and talking about the western wall maybe not being part of israel, things like that. and it upsets the pattern, just going out to the public without a plan. we all get annoyed, most white houses, obama's white house, and the bush white house to a degree, they're disciplined and they're kind of dull at times, but there's a reason they do it. because if you don't, you just create problems for yourself, and you take away from your fall job which is having to govern the country. >> there was talk 24 hours ago
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about you could look at the appointment of a special counsel as almost an opportunity for this president to say, you know what? that's the investigation, it's ongoing, i'm focussing on the agenda, and here we are. >> it was an opportunity for him to do that, because things move so fast these days, that actually he could have done that, but actually he can't stop talking about it. when he feels aggrieved, he fix ates on things, and it becomes cyclical and he literally can't stop talking about this. >> reaction from cnn's sarah murray at the white house. the president left for an eight-day trip just as this story broke, is any information coming out at all from air force one? >> reporter: as matt pointed out, we would all like to know what's happening on that plane, i imagine the president is doing a little bit more venting about how this russia story will not
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go away. that's what we heard from him earlier this week, and other than this statement that we initially got from sean spicer, we haven't heard much of them in the wake of this reporting. but it's going to be very difficult for them to wlooileav these stories that are haunting them behind urk on this five-nation foreign trip, very ambitious agenda particularly for a new president and focus on what the president wanted to talk about. there were a number of what he considered good deals that he could get done while he was abroad, but it's pretty clear that these controversies at home are going to haunt him when he's overseas. >> what are his immediate plans? >> reporter: he's going to have some bilateral meetings, but we're told by our excellent producer, who's been on the plane already and landed in riyadh, that as of right now, in us current form, the draft of
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this speech that the president is slated to deliver does not cover islamic terrorism. you remember him out there berating former president barack obama saying if you can't even name is threat, how are you going to combat it. these remarks could still change, we know the president and his aides like to tweet things often up to the last minute. but this speech that he's expected to deliver in saudi arabia could be a very different tone from what we heard from him for over a year on the campaign trail, anderson. >> and it's hard for the president of the united states to talk about radical islam to go to saudi arabia and blast radical islam. >> reporter: it is very difficult and we saw him at one point in the campaign suggest there should be a complete ban on all muslims entering the u.s. he said a lot of things that would be very jarring giving the setting he's about to deliver this speech in.
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the president has met privately with a number of the saudis, jared kushner has met privately with a number of the saudis. that could be the president's saving grace in this thing, if there is a misstep, people might just grin and bear it in the way they wouldn't otherwise. >> let's bring in our panel. jeff, i got to start with you, sean spicer didn't deny that the president said these things about director comey, do you defend the president on this one. >> no, i think he's perfectly within his rights to say them. i mean he's the president of the united states, he can stay what he wants. >> he can say what he wants, but is it smart? >> i mean, sure, you can get subjective about this. >> i'm not asking to be subjective, is it smart?
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>> i can't say. >> i think that's called a punt. i don't know much about sports, but i believe that's a punt. >> anderson, anderson, look this is not some smoking gun, that's hiss honest opinion. >> his honest opinion is that the former fbi director is a nut job and that this relieves some of the pressure on the russian stuff? i have no doubt that's his honest opinion but do you think it's smart for a guy under investigation to do that? >> yes, i do and i'll tell you why it's smart. remember president obama, tell vladimir i'll be more flexible after the election. was there a call for a special prosecutor? >> was there a special counsel s no, and no and no. i know you got to bring up obama
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every time or you got to bring up somebody else. but you can't really defend it in all -- you can't defend what the president of the united states just said. >> i don't care what he says to the russians. i mean, he's the president of the united states, if he wants to say that, barack obama wants to say whatever, if george bush says i have looked in his eyes. say it. >> i don't know what he would do that you would not defend. i mean you're a loyal guy, i think that speaks well of you. >> anderson, this is offending eastern elite democrats. >> i got a lot of reader email, from supporters of donald trump that said that's absolutely true. i also got emails from long-time republican officials in washington what have worked with senators and so forth describing it as quote, unquote,
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unamerican, i'm not saying that's my word, that was the word they used. i don't think there's a universality of opinion here and we don't really know how this plays. i do think he's correct that because there's a lot of information coming out at high speed are tuning out russia. >> how can you be considered elitist, if you just talk about taking a dump on national tv. >> dumping documents is what i was talking about. >> the whole nut job thing, that's perhathat e that's he's saying that the investigation is over, and he's now free, there's another quote in your story where he says i'm not now under investigation. >> that's not what he says, he says i'm not under investigation. i want to be clear on that
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point. i'm not clear if he is making the point that he has made 1,000 times publicly, it's not me under investigation and james comey told me that. >> he said he was relieved. >> the pressure is off of him. >> the pressure is off because comey's gone. >> that is our understanding of what he said based on the reading of this document and what a defender of the president's argues is that what he was referring do is that spirs essentially said it, that comey was a grand stander, all of what the president has said, he was politicizing this investigation and that made it hard and this investigation is going on regardless. i'm not saying that is actually what he meant, but that is what he said. >> let's be clear, the president can say what he would like to say, however there is legal consequences on what he says. if you have fired the fbi director who's leading an investigation into whether or
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not you or your campaign members colluded, you can't be held -- the words still have significance politically and legally. you can say i'm the president. this may have been a political statement. it's a very different thing when you have obstruction of justice overed head, interfering with witnesses or tampering them in any way. there are consequences, which is why the president should do what the miranda rights say, you have the right to remain silent. >> at times, we could have been talking about the president's foreign trip, about the issues he's going to be dealing with, instead we're talking about things he himself has said. >> yes, and he probably will not stop talking about it. there's always a hope that he doesn't have a global plan on his phone. look, many of these wounds are
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self-inflected. to jeffrey's point, there are many critics of the president who say the conclusion is collusion with russia and i'm going to walk or run there no matter what are the actual facts. to me two things are coming together. it's the convergence of the comey story and the russia story together in the person of the president and in his own personal conduct. and to me that is what has turned a page. i think you're right, maggie, that many people are tuning out this, a, because they think it's a way to get to the president. and there are some of them for political reasons, but b because there's so much going on, but that's what turns the page this week, this is his actually behavior and this is his two statements coming together. >> now you're going to have director comey testifying, because that would have been a big question, now if comey
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testifies as it seems he's going to after memorial day, and if he talks about what his note said, that's going to be another huge chapter. >> that's at least nine days, the pace that things are being revealed, the language itself is losing its capacity to actually register how big each one of these things is. we can't even digest what happened three hours ago, because another thing has stepped on it. and i think it's incumbent upon us to slow it down a little bit and make people understand the gravity of what is happening. >> it does after a while to seem like -- >> if we allow that to happen, that is a disservice to the voterings and the citizens of this country. we have to say, wait a minute, this is enormous. this is not a kind of passing thing, this is not a simple kind
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of way a person communicates. there is an actual criminal investigation now under way. collusion, if he had just held his peace and said go out and hang yourselves on this collusion thing because there's nothing happening, and let these investigations proceed, he would have done himself a favor. that was just one of the issues at stake, now it is witness tampering, now it is possibly treason on the face of flynn, now it is obstruction of justice, and now all these things seem to have more weight, to what we know, than the collusion. >> you were from the cia, worked with the russian force a long time. it can't be lost that sergey kislayak knew about the firing
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of comey even before the president did. and was privy to classified information according to earlier reporting this week. when you see this from your intelligence background, what goes through your mind? >> i like your comment early, anderson, i think you would be a good case officer. this is something that usually the fbi has to recruit agents for, to find out who dislikes who and who the president is mad at. >> this is what cia operatives try to recruit agents for to find out the inside workings of putin's officers, this is what cia overs and intelligence officers do? this is the kind of intelligence they want? >> every single country in the world has on its list to find out about, find out the plans and intentions of x leader in
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whatever country you're targeting. in the united states, it's going to be for russia, everybody wants to have a recruited spy who's sitting at the table and saying, oh, my god, can you believe that president trump is so mad at comey? in this case the russians didn't need it because the president provided it himself. here's a group of people who are not tuning this out and that's not the russians, they don't see it through this western lens that they see it. they remember candidate donald trump saying things like well these sanctions, maybe we can lift them, ycrime mia is not suh a -- it could have been a guy in a basement or it could have been the chinese. now he's in the oval office with guys that the previous administration left out of the
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administration because of the bad things the russians have been doing for the past several years. it sounds like he's trying to reassure them, hey, i'm coming back to you, i couldn't before, because i had all these domestic problems, but because i got rid of the nut job, i can get back to my job that i promised during my campaign. that's the way the russians are seeing it. >> we have much more to talk about tonight, even late word as the president departs on this legal trip, some of his legal team are preparing in case he's impeached. and late reaction to all of this by the house intelligence committee, as this news continues to break tonight in washington.
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6:30? sam's baseball practice. 8:30? tai chi. yeah, so sounds relaxing. alright, 9:53? i usually make their lunches then, and i have a little vegan so wow, you are busy. wouldn't it be great if you had investments that worked as hard as you do? yeah. introducing essential portfolios. the automated investing solution that lets you focus on your life. we have got so many breaking stories from director comey testifying to the president reportedly boasting to the russians about firing what he characterized as the nut job. and white house lawyers have begun early preparations for possible impeachment providings. proceedings. what are you learning? >> reporter: we're learning that white house lawyers have begun researching impeachment procedures, but the administration still believes this is an unlikely possibility
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that the president will have to fend off attempts to remove him from office, but the research is being done informally, but making sure that the president has the backing of the republicans in congress, and that impeachment is not in the cards. we should note that even democrats have tried to calm some of this impeachment talk this week out of concern that it's premature, but lawyers in the white house counsel's office have been researching impeachment and have been collecting information on how a proceeding like this would work. white house officials actually deny that the president is doing this. >> does he need to hire an outside attorney? some think he should. >> there is a broader internal network to bolster the president's legal defense, which is to become a lot more complicated with the president's
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appointment of a special counsel. earlier in week, close advisors to the president including two lawyers who have served as surrogates for the president, michael cohen went to the white house to discuss his needs to hire an attorney for the president. >> i was a limb crude, before, i apologize, i like having your voice on here, and i think you're an important voice, and you defend the president very well and that's your job. what do you make of this. is it -- one can read into this, oh, that impeachment word gets thrown around, certainly by democrats a lot this week, but it would certainly seem to be prudent for the president to have people looking into this kind of stuff? >> i think in the modern era -- every president -- i think the last thing the clintons thought when he got elected that he would wind up being the second president in history to beism
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pea -- be impeached. i think this is a mod certain threat out there for any president. politically speaking, anderson, i noticed that nancy pelosi said don't go there yet. i do think there's a potential mammoth political backlash here, let's just say for the sake of argument, voted to impeachment in the house or to hearings on this, i can tell you that h thousands of people who showed up at a rally last week, that supporters of hillary clinton were actually texting me this where the attitude about president trump was considerably different. if i were in the white house, i would almost say, please do, help eme. >> if there is a potential huge backlash for all of this, if
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there is no illegality after all of this, republicans can rightly say our agenda has been derailed, there's been all this focus on this and there's no "there" there. >> we're at the beginning of an investigation and we don't know which way it's going to do and if it turns out that there are no prosecutions, it will not be as damaging as it appears now. but let me just correct one thing that jeff just said, not every president researches impeachment. not barack obama, not george w. bush. >> i said they should. >> no, they shouldn't. nobody was going to impeach, george w. bush. no one is going to impeach barack obama. the possibility of impeachment now exists for donald trump. it's unlikely, but lawyers are paid to worry and it's appropriate for them to two some preliminary research, it doesn't mean he's going to be impeached.
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he should also have a personal lawyer, hiring a lawyer doesn't mean you're guilty of anything, but this is a real situation, there is a special counsel investigating donald trump's campaign including his behavior, including some pretty darn good evidence that trump ihimself committed obstruction of justice, of course he should have a lawyer. >> we should not even get into a conversation that there is no "there" there. there is some "there" there already. whether or not these are impeachable offenses are different. but there is "there" there with flynn. he was approved as the national security advisor. he was, you know, already kind of compromised by his illegal activities. there's "there" there from what the president said himself about how he has dealt with both flynn and with comey. there is "there" there already. whether or not that rises to
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impeachment offenses, whether or not republican or -- >> prosecutable. >> prosecutable, whether or not republicans would draft articles of impeachment because of that. but there is already "there" there. >> there is "there" that you think is already there, firing people, or a midterm election. those are the remedies we have for that. i do think there is plenty of loose talk about ways to remove a president. not just political backlash for people but particularly unhealthy for the country, because there's many people that did elect this president. i don't agree with their decision, but this is what happened. i think making those folks feel more alienated by jumping to the punch is bad. but this is another self-infliction of the white
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house. you can look up impeachment. but don't tell anybody you're doing it. but i don't think we're there and i don't think it's healthy. >> impeachment is premature at this stage. the reason you have a special counsel, the reason you have talk of obstruction of justice because we want to have a full investigation. it's not about is there "there" there, a dr. seuss soliloquy, it's about whether or not their investigation is can complete yet, who did what, why did they do it and why is it important? there's the fact-finding of congress and the approximately investigation that will tell us, is there a problem, should there be an impeachment proceeding going on? we're not there because we haven't had the full opportunity for investigation. which is really the key to this entire thing. >> all of which is true certainly. but we do have a special counsel appointed. that's a big deal. barack obama went eight years without anything like this happening. this is 120 days. so, yes, impeachment is
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premature, but there is not just, you know, idle talk at this point. there is reason to be very concerned about the propriety of what went on thin this white house. >> i think before you can really have a fruitful discussion on impeachment and a removal of the president of the united states or know person, we have some deference we give to people who are not the president of the united states, and you should as a prosecutor. he's not immune to being criticized or having said something wrong. but neither is the common person saying it either. let's have an investigation first. >> there's a lot of good people who are serving their country and want to make a legitimate contribution and want things to go well. >> and there are also a lot of people who are behind him
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personally. and some of those people are concerned about what he's doing. >> in terms of the pace of things, it's got to be brutal. >> i feel really terrible for most of the people working at the white house. >> the hours alone, the days must blend one day into the other. >> i keep thinking about the clinton process of the special prosecutor and bill clinton did hire a personal attorney in the summer of 1993, he hired david kendall. but that white house was basically set up almost like it was walled off. there was a side that was dealing with that investigation and there was a side that was dealing with the government. this government isn't anywhere near staffed to where it should be. the white house is not staffed where it should be. the extended government is not staffed where it should be. they're not able to handle all of this, and the amount of time, because it has become this really toxic event, a lot of them all do feel angry at the media, even if they don't share the president's view that everything is fake news. but some of them spend an
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enormous amount of time either undercutting other people, or going on these leak hunts that are incredibly silly and a waste of time. while they are dealing with fending off real questions, now we have a special counsel, from senator investigators, from the fbi, this is a very, very long list. it's a lot and you have to feel bad for them. >> can i say this? that i keep trying to summon sympathy for these people in the white house and i'm failing. i do not feel like i should be sim sympathetic in any way. >> i think watching people, most of whom in this west wing who don't work for him before, and some of them opposed him before but some of them just want the country to be okay. whether people agree with that ageneral da or not, you can feel bad for people who are probably going to see their finances drain personally, because all these people are going to have
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to get lawyers themselves. i think people who felt sorry for the clinton allies in the '90s. >> i'm reserving sympathy for all those people who are going to be hurt by his policies. you'll see an exclusive when we come back, also reaction from capitol hill to this friday's, well all the headlines, we'll hear from a member of the house intelligence committee when 360 continues. there's nothing traditional about my small business so when
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there's no such thing as casual friday these days. an avalanche of news. nearly every single day. this next story is potentially another big game changer. cnn has learned about intercepted russian communications, the picture they paint of moscow's relationship with fired trump national security adviser michael flynn and how alarming it was to the obama administration. pamela brown and gloria borger are breaking this story. >> multiple sources telling cnn that russia officials bragged in conversations during the presidential campaign that they had cultivated such a strong relationship with former trump adviser michael flynn that they believed they could use him to influence donald trump and his team. the conversations deeply
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concerned u.s. intelligence officials and it even impacted what intelligence the incoming administration was privy to. some obama intelligence officials acted on their own to limit how much sensitive information they shared with flynn. >> gloria, one former -- you talked to one former official. what did they say ? >> i did. they said the way the russians were talking about flynn was regarded as a five alarm fire from early on. the russian conversations indicated they regarded flynn as their ally sources told us. officials also cautioned that the russians might have exaggerated their sway with trump's team during those conversations. flynn's relationship with russia developed throughout 2016, we're told, months before flynn was caught on an intercepted call in december speaking with russia's kiss lee ak, the ambassador. that led, of course, as you know to flynn's firing as trump's first national security adviser.
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anderson, we have reached out to flynn's lawyer, who has declined to comment, and the white house which said this. we are confident that when these inquiries are complete, there will be no evidence to support any collusion between the campaign and russia. top former obama intelligence officials and members of congress briefed on the matter have all said the same thing. >> pamela, we're learning i understand for the first time details about flynn's conversations with the russians. >> that's right. one major concern was the subject of conversations between flynn and the ambassador that took place after obama slapped sanctions on russia for meddling in the election. sources tell jim sciutto that flynn said the trump administration would look favorably on a decision by russia to hold off on retaliating with its own sanctions. then next day putin said that he wouldn't retaliate. sources also say that flynn told the ambassador the incoming trump administration would
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re-visit u.s. sanctions on russia once in office. as you know, trump denied any collusion with russia this week. he denounced the newest investigation in the hands of special counsel robert mueller. he called that a witch hunt. >> president trump is steadfast in his support. >> yes. he is very loyal. the most obvious example of this is according to that memo by james comey which we learned about and n which he asked the director of the fbi to let the investigation of flynn go completely. >> pamela brown, appreciate the reporting. gloria borger as well. a lot to discuss. again, this is a nightbreaking . joining me jim himes. i'm wondering what your reaction is to that reporting that russian officials were bragging about the strong relationship they had cultivated with michael flynn and they thought they could use him to influence donald trump.
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gloria cautioned they may have overstate third influence on him. but that's what we are learning. >> my first reaction is yet another day with yet another story originating in the media. it's remarkable to me how much talk there is that is going to the washington post, that is going to "the new york times," that's going to cnn. those of us on the intelligence committee doing the investigation are jealous about the flow of information that the media gets. obviously, there's a whole topic there. that's of some concern. let me say this about that. i guess it doesn't shock me in the sense that we know that sally yates went to the white house and told the counsel at the white house that this guy was potentially blackmailable by the russians. we know from reports that parentally the former president barack obama warned donald trump directly against hiring mike
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flynn. there's any number of other issues that have come up around mike flynn. i guess as much as this is i guess something of a scoop for you guys, it's not all that shocking to me. >> we should point out that sally yates -- i interviewed her monday. sally yates took the unusual step of allowing the white house to review the intelligence, to review the information that she had. she made it available to them. it took them eight days from the time that she made it available or from the time that they requested. nevertheless, they were able to review that. whatever the intelligence was, the white house would have gotten a sense of it because they were actually able to go and look at it. >> yeah, that's right. this points to the larger topic of just the sort of bizarre closeness with which apparently the president continues to regard michael flynn, a guy who is very plainly a liability to him for four or five different
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reasons, some of which we haven't talked about here tonight. going back to why in god's name did the white house keep this guy on for 18 days after sally yates went to the white house and said this guy is a national security risk. it's one of the many weird and unanswered questions in this investigation. >> it's interesting because white house even after michael flynn was allowed to resign, the day after i think it was, sean spicer said, it had -- there was no illegal behavior. it was just the fact that he had lied to the vice-president. there was a loss in confidence. there was -- he had done nothing wrong previous to that, which is interesting. sally yates says there was underlying illegality. she won't go into details. michael flynn requested immunity through his lawyer in exchange for testimony. do you think he should be granted immunity? >> you know, as these connections and questions about michael flynn mount up, the answer to that question more and more is, boy, what else does he
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know? no. by the way, it's possible -- i don't have any particular insight into the fbi investigation. but it's possible that he is a target of that investigation. if that is possible or certainly if that is true, there's no way congress should grant him immunity. as you know, anderson, immunity is granted when a proffer is made and a prosecutor or congress is comfortable there's a big fish out there to be gotten. in the criminal world you give immunity to a low level criminal in hope of using that to get a higher level criminal. it raises serious questions here. at this point, unless there's a good reason to grant him immunity, it's unlikely it would happen. >> i appreciate your time. one has to wonder what the mood is like on air force 1. president trump scheduled to land in saudi arabia. a short time after he left, word came out from "the new york times" about what the president
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said to two russian officials at the white house the day after he fired james comey. the hits keep coming all day. joining me is fareed zakaria and dave gergen. david, i want to get your reaction on this new reporting from cnn about michael flynn and the russians. >> anderson, it may be some innocent explanation. what we are seeing is pieces of a puzzle continue to fall into place. there's a pattern here that michael flynn right from the beginning has been -- been very close to the russians. we didn't know what those conversations were about. what we're learning tonight suggests that they were -- that our intelligence folks were really worried about what he was doing well before he became the national security adviser. suggests that's the reason -- i think i've been told this before -- that president obama warned off incoming president trump about hiring him.
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now he is central to trying to understand what the -- was there collusion? this suggests there was more collusion than we thought and there is more evidence building up. it's not dispositive. it doesn't settle things. it's still early. i will tell you this, that it also -- for a long time we were asking why is donald trump so solicitous of vladimir putin. now we have the second question, why was he -- why has he been so solicitous of michael flynn? we really need the answers to those questions. >> it seems to continue to -- whether it's loyalty or i don't know what, continue to think fondly of michael flynn despite his lying to the vice-president and despite this underlying activity which sally yates was -- there was illegality there. >> the more you learn about michael flynn, the more worrying his behavior is on multiple fronts. you have discussed this whole russia angle. but there's another entire angle which is turkey. michael flynn was essentially
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hired by the turkish government as a paid lobbyist and started to print himself as an independent analyst -- >> writing op-eds. >> asking for the very thing that the president of turkey has been pressing, which is that the united states essentially hand over this 80-year-old cleric who lives in pennsylvania who is an enemy of him. flynn writes an op-ed. so to the question of can -- could flynn have been bought, could his views have been inf n influenced by cash payment ss? it does seem as though that happened. we know that once he was in the administration, he was advising that he be deported. that seems to me a very -- a worrying connection. this is a guy who foreign governments have already hired
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and who has passed himself off as an independent national security -- just asessisessing merits of this. you have the strange reality that trump who is not super loyal to people who have not been with him for a long time -- think of how he has been treatitreat ing steve bannon. he has been very loyal to michael flynn. >> the president called the fbi director a nut job and firing him eased great pressure. what do you make that was? is that something the president should be saying to the russians in the oval office? >> well, nut job, of course, is beneath the presidency. i think the more significant point is the one jeffrey toobin has been underlying tonight. that is this adds new evidence to the point that the president essentially -- what is the pattern here? i think patterns are emerging. the pattern here is the president goes to comey, the fbi director and says i need your
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loyalty. comey refuses to give it to him. a subsequent meeting according to the reports from comey, the president pressures him to let the flynn part of the investigation go. comey doesn't do it. he refuses. investigation deepens. what does the president do? he can't get comey to drop it. he fires comey. now that he -- he tells the russians openly not only was he a nut job, but i did this because i had pressure coming on me about russia. the clear implication was, i have political pressure about these investigations. this thing is something i don't want. i want to get rid of it and i fired the son of a gun. he was a nut job to boot. >> we should point out -- >> new pieces of the puzzle, very disturbing. >> we should point out that before he even had the dinner where he asked for the loyal tt oath, which was the night of the same day that sally yates went to the white house and said flynn could be compromised, and flynn was interviewed by the fbi and didn't do so well, that's the same night that the president decides to have dinner
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with comey and ask for a loyalty pledge. the president had also already called up flynn -- had called up comey basically to ask about being under investigation. >> yeah. i just think pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. we still need to give the president his fair day in court. he needs to be able -- his side needs to be able to present the evidence. nonetheless, the way this is breaking with the selected leaks, paints a very dark picture. i think that it suggests -- i argued here the other night, we're in impeachment territory. we know the white house lawyers are investigating how impeachments take place. it's way down the road. but we're in deep, serious issues now. >> fareed, the fact the white house isn't denying what the president said to the russians now on this latest reporting about the "new york times," they're saying that -- in