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tv   Washington Journal Jonathan Turley Discusses Firing of FBI Director James...  CSPAN  May 11, 2017 8:38am-9:15am EDT

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he wants to be like andrew jackson, he has to put nation in front of his own person could -- personhood and his own family and his own interests. that's what jackson did for most of his presidency. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> "washington journal" continues. host: our next guest for the morning is jonathan turley with george washington university law school, teaches law, here to talk about the firing of james comey. what was the reality of the firing versus what you may be perceived that the perception of the firing? guest: it is unusual to see the response. everyone gets ahead of their skis in terms of what the significance was and what was the motivation. the fact is the merits of the termination were debatable. there were good faith reasons why comey would be terminated. the timing was appalling.
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that is important when you are in government, and appearances are important, especially when theperson firing i individual is complaining about the investigation he is heading. it was a troubling decision for the white house. having said that, there's a lot of rhetoric on the other side which doesn't make a lot of sense. you have a lot of folks saying "theyas clearly because are getting too close to the president." toobin said the deputy attorney general is lying. i can't imagine the basis for that, quite frankly. there's no evidence at all that the investigation is getting close to the president. i'm not sure what the actual crime being investigated is right now and i follow this closely. it is certainly true that this
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president complained about this investigation and wanted to fire comey. to say the deputy attorney general is lying when he said i'm doing this as a career prosecutor because i think he stepped over the line, i think treats him rather poorly and there's no basis to declare him to be a liar. host: a lot was made of rob rosenstein and the letter he put together offering the defense for the white house. what do think of the justification in the letter? guest: he was brought in as the ultimate career prosecutor. everyone celebrated his appointment. it was viewed as a good sign from the trump administration that they were going to be able to bring in someone who identifies with the rank-and-file. this is someone whose motivations were not in question until that memo. what he states in the memo is basically what other people have raised, both democratic and republican. even when comey was viewed as favoring trump and then viewed
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, bothoring clinton democrat republicans came forward saying we don't like how you're doing this. there's serious protocols that were violated. rosenstein goes through all those and says there's been a groundswell of opposition to how he's conducted himself. we need a new start. on this point with the white house has a point that the deputy attorney general is effectively the fbi director's boy -- he was confirmed two weeks ago. the position of the white house is that this matter was put on his desk when he came in and he reviewed it and met with comey and they did not hit it off. ultimately come a rosenstein believes they needed to make a change. is that true? i don't know. in fairness, we have to add a degree of civility here. andall rosenstein a liar
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that this letter is a private ignores the fact that this is perfectly possible. the grounds that he raised our good-faith grounds to replace and fbi director. -- an fbi director. host: what happens to the state of the investigation on russia at the fbi and concerns over that? do you share those concerns? guest: i do. if donald trump truly wanted to do this to get rid of the rush investigation, the opposite will be true. there's now bipartisan support for an even broader, more intensive investigation. there are strong calls for a special independent counsel. that was his motivation, boy did it backfire. fbihave a bunch of career agents working on this. they will not go quietly in the night if someone says now we will just close up shop. there have been subpoenas issued in a related case. this investigation will go forward. host: now, you have a chance to
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ask our guest -- 202-748-8000 for democrats. 202-748-8001 for republicans. independents, 202-748-8002. tell folks about your blog and where it is located. we have a lot of folks who follow this on my blog. what i raised in the blog is that there is a tough question here with regards to independent counsel. for many weeks, i have questioned the need for a special counsel. i'm honestly not sure what crime we are talking about here. with all the rhetoric you here, there is that missing and rather conspicuous element of what would the special counsel investigate. both sides have said so far that there's no clear evidence or
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very little evidence at all of collusion. what's left are reporting and disclosure violations. that's what general flynn is accused of violating, failure to register as a foreign agent. that is a law that israeli prosecuted. -- that is rarely prosecuted. the department of justice has a long history of enforcement and retroactive disclosures as opposed to prosecution. unless you're talking about indicting vladimir putin come i'm not sure what the special counsel will be given at this point. some evidence might come out later of some other crime. i changed my mind when comey was fired. it's not about the merits, it's about the timing. this white house has created a major credibility problem. a significant number of americans believe comey was fired because he's getting too close to the president.
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i believe it's more personal with the president. but, credibility matters. for the interests of the country, we should have someone independent from both congress and the white house investigate this. host: i first call comes from delroy, ohio. democrats line. this is gene. you're on with jonathan turley. caller: i wanted to voice my problem with the atmosphere and the mode of eternal investigation in washington, d.c. the hillary emails still not done, 22 months, benghazi probably three years or more, i didn't want hillary elected because i knew the republicans what stop everything with constant investigations and rehashes for ever and ever. and now, we have it with mr. trump. my father says lawyers are destroying this country. i think he's right. what is your answer to that?
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guest: with all due respect to often talk, people about lawyers destroying the country. people just like all lawyers accept their own. throughout history, lawyers have stepped forward to take courageous stands. everyone from john adams defending british soldiers in boston to thurgood marshall who fought for desegregation. it's not lawyers and it's not the law. we have to look at ourselves collectively as citizens. it is true that our politics have become poisonous and uncivil. we have a race to the bottom, not just in terms of rhetoric, but just dealing with each other. these politicians are reflections of us. they do what is popular. it is not the lawyers. as citizens, we have to say that we've had enough of this and we want mature decisions.
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that's reason for an independent investigation. these investigations going to long, that's why in the past i've discouraged the idea of having a special counsel. there are times where you reach a tipping point. you see that in some of the voices on programs like this. host: one of the voices in the pages of "the financial times." the first calls to mount the special prosecutor to take over the russia investigation -- mr. nixon was compelled to do so, as was bill clinton. guest: the funny thing is that the independent counsel -- there's a lot of confusion in terms. independent counsel's don't exist anymore in terms of independent counsel law that expired in 1999. democrats passed that after watergate. then, they let it lapse. we should did that function back to the department of justice with special counsel.
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panel wouldcuit select an independent counsel and he was given a degree of independence. that bothered people like justice scalia who said it was unconstitutional to have this free moving part in our government. in a case called morrison v olson, the supreme court upheld the constitutionality of that law. some members are talking about reintroducing that law, solving the problem by allowing an independent counsel to be selected. host: this is from illinois. independent line. connie, go ahead. caller: i want to thank mr. turley for telling the truth here. this investigation hasn't been going on for just a couple of months, it's been going on for a long, long time now. fbi and the cia all
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said there is no collusion found between the trump administration and they also found that hillary ,linton was guilty of her crime which would have put her in jail for a long, long time. said he was going to let her go because there was no judge that would hold her accountable. this is the difference between republican and democrat. that's about all i have to say. guest: connie, what i would say crossed the line was in that major press conference where he said we will not bring charges against hillary, but here's all the reasons we could have. i both defended and criticized comey during that period. he was in a difficult position. he was right on the need to have
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some transparency with an election happening. he would have been criticized either way. if you withheld information or disclosed it. people were being unfair as he tried to thread the needle. --hink rosenstein is right when i was watching that press conference, i was in disbelief as he went into those details. that's not right. ,f you are not going to indict you don't come out and give all these reasons why you could have. that is not fair. it also violates critical protocol. there were other issues that existed there in terms of protocol where comey did not inform the department of justice about critical press conferences and decisions in a timely fashion. a lot of people don't realize that the fbi is part of the justice department. the deputyto attorney general. host: illinois. republican line. bob, hi.
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-- the one house keeping senate vote was 94-6. i love c-span. i agree with the previous caller . if they had one house of true evidence, it would have been brought up by now. it's an effort for the dems to continue their fundraising. will it special investigation takes compared to the senate investigation going on currently? guest: excellent questions. in terms of the time span, it would take probably years. the department of justice first of all would have to sign off on this, which is fairly doubtful. if they selected a special counsel, i would expect it to go on for a couple of years. that is certainly a long tale
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politically for a lot of folks. it would go into the midterm elections, which is problematic for a lot of folks. in defense of democrats raising this objection, i would say this. i thought there were merits for firing james comey, even though i liked him in many respects. i don't think it's unfair for the democrats to raise the timing issue. they are right on that. even when you're deputy attorney general says i want this guy fired, as a president, you can say, you know what, this one be good for our politics or the country -- won't be good for our politics or the country. i might do it later. let's let this investigation move and confirm whether the white house is involved here. that would have been the wiser decision. where the democrats are getting truly ahead of their skis is when they start saying this is
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-- historian said trump is acting like a tyrant. that rhetoric doesn't help. it's also not well based. he's doing this to protect himself -- there's no strong basis for that. comparisons to the nixon administration and watergate. [video clip] >> in less than four months, this president has pushed our country to the edge of constitutional crises. a crisis that seems more complex and more threatening than the nixon'sted by president order to fire the special prosecutor investigate watergate. first, i think we can easily dismiss president trump's transparent pretext for dismissing fbi director comey. hesident trump claims
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removed the fbi director because of his unfair treatment of secretary clinton. this does not pass the test. we know it is not true. president trump celebrated andctor comey's mistakes handling the email investigation. he encouraged leaks from the fbi and pressed director comey to release more embarrassing evidence. he praised comey after his misguided letter to congress last october. was now, the president compelled to fire the director. only six months after it occurred. claim, if itable wasn't so sad, it would be laughable.
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the truth is the resident removed the sitting fbi director amidst one of the most critical national security investigations in the history of our country -- certainly one of the most quickly in my 42 years in the senate. host: mr. turley? guest: with all the respect i have for senator leahy, i think that was a bit overwrought. this is not a constitutional crisis -- people use that term to mean anything that it's their particular viewpoint. -- fits their particular viewpoint. president trump complies with the constitution. he complied with the orders when they ruled against him. fire thee authority to fbi director. ill employee at the pleasure of the president. whenitutional crisis is
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you have the president refusing to yield to the authority of the other branches. as for the nixonian references, i'm afraid i don't get it. we have a political crisis here, a very serious one. i don't think we have to overplay this. we talk about this as the most serious investigations and watergate. the only crime people talked about was the logan act for people like flynn. you know how many people were prosecuted under the logan act? zero. the act is presumptively unconstitutional. we have to have a mature moment here and say, look, there is serious questions here. i will add something else that won't be popular -- of all the countries that try to interfere in the elections of other countries, we are a serial violator we've overthrown
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countries. you can imagine what the response outside united states has been to this expression of shock. that doesn't mean we should ignore what the russians did. we need a modicum of perspective and even some stability going forward -- civility going forward. host: jonathan turley joining us. linda from missouri. the request line. thank you for waiting. -- democrats line. thank you for waiting. caller: we have a man in office now with no morals who has lied repeatedly. there's a reason why everyone is thinking that what he has done now is just another lie. talkingd of everyone democrats and republicans -- we are all humans and all u.s. citizens and we should want the same thing. we all should want justice, we all should want that if trump and his campaign has violated any type of rules -- i did see wikileaks andthe
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wanting russia to be involved in our election. was in office -- i did not agree with what he did with hillary. i still don't think he should be fired in the middle of an investigation. it would probably bring something out. we need to get it done. we need to see what really did happen. west: i think you are right should get answers to why this happen and we need to finish this investigation. these are answers the public deserve. we have to be careful about analyzing these questions based on how you feel about the president. waslast president i really that i really liked was james madison. it's been a long time for me. the problem, i think, with all the criticism of trump, he may bring out the worst in people.
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the media has become fairly biased. you saw that with the cnn coverage. you have people saying this is clearly a lie. there's no basis for this. that's not true. there is a basis. i don't know what is true and what's not. we can't allow our views of these very serious questions to be clouded by how you feel about the president. with all of this is a perspective. the answer is clear. let's investigate it, let's make investigations as independent as possible. i still don't see the crime here. maybe evidence will come forward of a crime, but that is a conspicuous element missing. host: lisa lives in washington, d.c. republican line. caller: good morning. i have a comment and a question. guiltynt trump has been
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until proven incident in the court of public opinion. does innocent in the court of public opinion. there is zero evidence of wrongdoing. beenpresident trump has guilty until proven innocent in the court of public opinion. they've been under surveillance for over a year by the democrats, obama and support my susan rice and again. obama and susan rice and the gang. can president trump super defamation of character and force the democrats to put up or shut up in terms of evidence? this witchhunt is costing american taxpayers a fortune. it is ridiculous. guest: let me go to your question. he can sue for defamation but he won't be successful. there's a case called "new york that" versus sullivan
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imposes a higher standard on public officials suing people for slander. you have to show what is called the actual malice standard. the people whose head is about you either knew it was false or showed reckless disregard to respond to what he thinks is
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false. e have to be very careful we don't start burning the foundation of our democracy in this fit of passion on both sides. host: speaking to that, vivian the thought her head exploded when she heard mr. comey was fired, but she's far concerned about who will replace him. what faces that person? your head an, i hope is okay. i think there has been a lot of reckless about ertain sheriff being appointed and rudy giuliani. those are unlikely, i hope they are unlikely. can't imagine that trump would make those types of appointments, although my been stretched um, the last 100 years, days. if the white house is smart, they will pick someone rosenstein, someone clearly nonpolitical, who is respected people at the department of justice and the f.b.i.
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what is clear and i think this what is being missed here, trump's problems on capitol hill been the democrats, it's republicans. republicans have, i think so, said that we're not going to rubber stamp all these decisions. already ns have indicated, particularly in the senate, that he's going to have responsibility and caution on this issue. set: acting f.b.i. director to testify today in front of the senate. stay tuned, c-span for more that.ation on jonathan turley our guest. ara in illinois, independent line. caller: hi. go ahead. caller: thank you for taking my call, i appreciate c-span. morenot really a question, of a statement. the fact that one, russia has een involved for a long time nd people from trump campaign as been fired or just let go,
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seriously let go for a long period of time, since the very beginning. people can say that nothing is going on when so much has already happened. you. host: well -- there sara, good point, is an old expression in economics, correlation is not be very , one has to careful about connecting all these dots. people connect dots all the time and come up with different pictures. withhold my to judgment until we see actual, hard facts n. terms of the one thing i ction, would like to mention, sara, a lot of folks don't realize. money is all over the city. it has been for years. surprising you can't even use the rubric at mcdonald's. are hiring folks in the city, including democrats. we want to said, expand the investigation of
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ussian influence to include democrats and republicans and got pushback. the reason, there is a lot in the city. people would be uncomfortable with the degree to which key for es have worked different firms and outlets. the point is only that there is lot of influence of foreign governments, particularly or ugh subsidiaries surrogates in hiring folks like flynn. how significant is that in terms of an impact on the administration? we have to wait to see. ut, as i said, i've learned a long time ago, you have to be careful connecting dots until a clear picture comes out. one thing being questioned is idea of collusion, specifically what does it have to see some evidence of collusion in this case? guest: for collusion to work, you would need to show a true ause and effect, show a direct connection with trump, either personally or with people
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around him in which they were manipulating the e-mails, they were working with the russians to do so. to suggest evidence that happened. just, i'm going to say something unpopular, don't forget just recently it was disclosed that e-mails of our own merckel, one of our key allies. what the russians were doing and acking, the united states has done for years. is that right? it's not. there be possible criminal charges for that? sure. going to indict vladamir putin and you're indict y not going to some faceless hacker in moscow, o this is part of the reality that we're living with and i do hink we should look into how this influences our politics. in terms of collusion, you need
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more than just hacking, that is a reality that existed for years. we help make it a reality. to show that people in the trump campaign actually, this type of release or coordinated with them. this is the type allegation you remember we saw with reagan, it was alleged his eople had coordinated with the iranians to make sure hostages ere not released under jimmy carter, could have made the difference in the election. it is similar situation, once no hard proof shown, these are difficult cases to make. ost: democrats line from kentucky, james. caller: yes, good morning. comment and ake a then get a response from mr. turley. all, i have questioned the f.b.i. ity of 9/11.he c.i.a. ever since maybe i'm the only one, but the
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make comment i wanted to is perhaps if james comey is the that could possibly carry this investigation donald trump needs to drain the f.b.i. swamp, your i'd appreciate comment. guest: well, james, i think that a lot of folks share your there is irony in 9/11, which i wrote about previously a column. there were a series of mistakes made by the f.b.i. and the c.i.a., some mistakes could have potentially avoided 9/11. it is this curiosity in our agencies show n negligence, we tend to give them more esources and authority, which seems counter intuitive. at t of folks are looking the expansion of powers under even this last week, feinstein e senator suggested expanding further the powers of the f.b.i. in terms of
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looking at evidence on the internet, the sites that people etcetera. james, your point is a good one, don't think it is a matter of draining the swamp of the f.b.i., but a matter of telling to show that we do need a little degree of control over how much authority has been agencies, ese politicians love to fight terrorism, fight crime, they do by expanding authority. it is very hard to get civil rights back, other you know. power in agencies is like a gas, space, the gashe will expand with it. to get back rd privacy rights that you lose. host: one more call, george in republican line. go ahead. caller: good morning. the professor, very celebrated, but you have to
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and r your remarks criticism of democrats and republicans, who are elected by people. they are direct representatives if heir constituency and they take those positions in questioning what the president not doing, i think they valid concern to raise these questions and for you to as being int them unpatriotic or not doing their duties, they are elected by the people. to be that has respected. never george, i would have suggested these folks are unpatriotic. our point is a good one, they actually do reflect rather clearly the views of american citizens on both sides. my criticism was the rhetoric of the so far ahead facts and the record.
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bollic , all the hyper language about this being a constitutional crisis or that be lying or that due to mination must be the fact the president was about to be incriminated, all that doesn't serve the public well it is not true. the evidence doesn't support that right now. maybe it will. we need an investigation. but as citizens, we also have to hold our say,icians accountable and look, this is too serious to have endless spin. we need facts, not rhetoric. host: we talked a lot about today, how long does this situation overshadow everything else that could happen in washington when it the senate and what does history teach us about that? guest: it could have a long tale. of all, the investigation from the committees take a than a ove faster special council. speaker ryan is right about go to special counsel or independent counsel that would take years, the question is
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people would respect the results. in the interim, everything is likely to slow down. one of the biggest mistakes about this firing is it further undermined the president, you know, these are people on capitol hill that are serengety, on the they can tell a wounded animal a mile away. viewed as showing strength, most politicians look at this and say, he's bleeding out. they are not going to move or take risks if they believe the hite house is not up to this fight. i think there is a serious loss republicans y with on how the white house is functioning, let alone what it is doing. ost: jonathan turley, our guest, his blog, if you want to read the writings, that is available at jonathan, thank you for your time. we'll continue on with your calls on the firing of the you support or, if and oppose it, 202-748-8000 for
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democrats. republicans.for and independents, 202-748-8002. take those calls when we come right back. >> sunday night on afterwards. hysician and journalist, elizabeth rosenthal examines book, an e in her american sickness, how healthcare became big business back.w you can take it dr. rosenthal interviewed by presidentbloomenthal, of the commonwealth fund. >> i wonder if your book gave thoughts about whether healthcare is a free market, whether we can solve our in healthcare through free market forces? what we've seen as the answer is probably not.
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the n, the beginning of book i put somewhat tongue and ruleslist of the economic of the dysfunctional healthcare you think of f healthcare as a business will solve, market you know, you get to crazy places, like, you know, lifetime of treatment is preferable to a cure. i am not saying for a second really thinks that, but that is where market forces put you right now. afterwards sunday night at 9 p.m. eastern. >> "washington journal" continues. again, if you are with us for this remaining 45 minutes of he program, your thoughts on the firing of the f.b.i. director, if you support and oppose it. lines,the


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