tv ABC7 News 1100AM ABC May 10, 2017 11:00am-11:31am PDT
>> information to the president. >> following up on that, sara. did the president ask director comey whether he was under investigation when they were -- when they had the meeting? >> i won't go in the specifics of their conversation. >> they made an observation to stick that in the letter. >> was it inappropriate for that time? >> no. charlie? >> how important was the fbi
director's failure to stop -- >> i think that's probably one of the many factors. i mean, you can't deny somebody that that wasn't a problem, and so i think that was just another -- one of the many reasons that he no longer had the confidence of the president or the rest of the fbi. >> do we expect more firings from the justice department? >> not that i'm aware of today. >> going forward, does the president want the department of justice to shut down what he has called the taxpayer charade investigation? >> he wants to continue with whatever they see appropriate, and see fit. just the same as he has encouraged the house and senate committees to continue any ongoing investigations. look. the bottom line is any investigation that was happening on monday is still happening today. that hasn't changed, and, in fact, we encourage them to complete this investigation so
we can put it behind us, and we can continue to see exactly what we have been saying for nearly a year. there is no evidence of collusion between the trump campaign and russia, and we would love for that to be completed so that we can all move on and focus on the things that, frankly, i think most of americans are concerned with. >> even with wasting taxpayer money? >> nobody wants to waste taxpayer money. the president has made a priority of this, and that's why we would love for it to come to completion. at the same time, i know that you have.
>> and had overwhelming praise from both sides of the aisle. i think there is complete confidence in him, and for director comey to be out of the way so they can have somebody leading this effort that everybody across the board has respect and confidence in. nobody wants this to be finished and completed more than us, so that we can focus on what we need to do here. >> the president said -- sean spicer said just a week ago today, the president has
confidence in the director. so again, sorry if i'm not understanding this, but what has happened in the last seven days to shake the confidence? was sean lying at that point? >> of course, you would love to add that in, but certainly not. again, i think one of the big things that took place was the process in that hearing on wednesday where, again, not to sound like a broken record, but since you guys giving the same answers but you have somebody, the director of the fbi who reports to the deputy attorney going around the chain of command that simply is not okay. that's not something that is allowed in the justice system, nor should it be. that's a huge problem. that along with the corrections that had to take place over the last, i believe, 48 hours, those are all big problems. and another kind of final piece that pushed the president to make the decision that he did.
>> does he regret not doing it earlier like on january 20th? >> no, i believe the president wanted to give director comey a chance. but he feels that he made the right decision. >> if i could ask, why didn't he have one of his longtime security advisers hand deliver a letter to the fbi when the fbi director was, in fact, in los angeles? didn't he deserve a phone call or a face-to-face conversation? why he decide -- >> he followed the proper protocol in that process which is handwritten notification. at the same time, no matter how you fire someone, it's never an easy process, and he -- so he felt like following protocol was the best thing to do. >> did he try to speak to him? >> i'm not aware of that conversation. >> was the president aware that ja jals comey asked for more resources in the russia investigation and did that factor into his decision to get rid of the director?
>> not that i'm aware of. i think that would be a better problem for the department of justice. >> on the campaign trail, president trump said lock her up and he criticized department of justice for not being -- he actually praised director comey for having the guts to reopen the investigation. why was he moved by a letter that said that director comey was, if anything, too harsh on hillary clinton? is why did that move the president to fire him? >> again, i think you're looking at two very different positions. the president was wearing a different hat. he was a candidate, not the president. those circumstances certainly change when you become the president and again when you go around the chain of command and the department of justice, when you -- like i said before, throw a stick of dynamite into the department of justice, that's a big problem. and one that cannot be ignored. >> we already knew that, didn't we? we already knew what mr. comey had done? >> i think this was -- my understanding is wednesday was the first time the director had
openly and publicly made that statement and made that clear. >> the statement today on the president's meeting with prime minister, did that include anything -- the reported incidents of violence in chechnya against people of the lbgt community -- >> i'm sorry, could you speak up a little bit? >> the reason why that wasn't included in the readout is because the president wasn't informed about the reports of anti-gay violence in chechnya? >> look, a lot of times there are parts of the conversation that aren't specifically included in a readout. but i'm not aware, i haven't had that conversation, so i don't know, i wasn't part of that meeting, so i can't speak to every detail, and i'd have to refer you to the readout on the specifics of what i know was discussed. >> was the president briefed on this issue? >> that's something i'll have to get back to you. >> you said you want the russia
investigation to continue at doj but the white house opposed the appointment of the special prosecutor to continue, to continue the investigation -- >> we've got a house committee, a senate committee and the department of justice all working on this. i don't think there's a necessary need at this point to add that. you've got the deputy attorney general who i would say is about as independent as it comes due to the fact that he has such a bipartisan support. >> what gives you such confidence that rank and file in the fbi lost faith in the fbi director? there's a special agent who wrote us who said the vast majority of the bureau is in favor of director comey. this is a total shock. this is not supposed to happen. the real losers here are 20,000 front-line people in the organization peopbecause they l the only guy working here in 15 years who actually cared about them. what's your response? >> look, we've heard from
countless members of the fbi that say very different things. in fact, the president will be meeting with acting director mccabe later today to discuss that very thing, the morale at the fbi, as well as make an offer to go directly to the fbi if he feels that's necessary and appropriate. and we'll certainly provide further information on that meeting for you guys. >> -- represents fbi agents is asking for a voice in the selection process of mr. comey's success successor. is that something the president supports? >> i haven't had that conversation. i know at this point it's being run through the department of justice. i would refer you to them on what that process looks like at this point in time. >> thanks, sara. who did the president consult before making the final decision to fire james comey? >> the president spoke with a number of individuals but at the end of the day, it was the president's decision. >> in between monday night and tuesday when he decided to fire the fbi director, did he speak
again with the deputy attorney general or the attorney general? >> i know they spoke on monday. i believe the next follow-up was in writing. >> is it accurate to pull away from the information that we have that monday night, the president made the final call, said i want this in writing as a recommendation, and then took that recommendation as the evidence that he wanted to provide to fire james comey? >> my understanding is the decision was actually made on tuesday. but the first conversation that he had was on monday. when there was an oral recommendation made and the president requested that he see that in writing to review it further. blake. >> sara, thank you. you say you want to move on and focus on things americans care about so let me ask you about that. you're somewhat halfway home on health care. you still have tax reform, spending bill, debt ceiling and infrastructure. >> pretty big list. >> pretty big list, right? but what happened yesterday you could argue just widened the
divide and made d.c. politics more toxic. how do you go about accomplishing all of those things with, now, the heightened political environment we're in? >> frankly, i'm surprised that it did create a divide since you've had so many republicans and democrats repeatedly calling for director comey to be gone. frankly, i don't think it matters what this president says, you're going to have democrats come out and fight him every single step of the way. i think that's one of the things that's wrong with washington, and i think that's one of the reasons that we've got to get back to focusing on those issues and frankly draining the swamp a little bit further. >> is he surprised by the democratic backlash? did he anticipate it considering some of the past statements? >> how could he have, considering the fact that most of the people that are declaring war today were the very ones that were begging for director comey to be fired. if hillary clinton had won the election, which thank god she
didn't, but if she had and she had been in the same position, she would have fired comey immediately. and the very democrats that are cite siriticizing the president would be dancing in the street. i think the purest form of hypocrisy. jennifer. >> two questions, one, a report in israel indicates the president has made the decision not to move the u.s. embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem. can you confirm that? has he made a decision on that? >> the president has not made a decision yet. still reviewing that. john. >> follow-up. >> sorry. >> also president erdogan in a speech i think this morning warned the president against moving the embassy to jerusalem. does that warning and warnings from other arab leaders play into his decision as he's considering this move? >> i'm not going to get into the decisionmaking process here. all i can tell you is he's still reviewing it and as soon as we have a decision, i know we'll be happy to report back to you. john. >> thank you, sara. two questions. both related to the selection of
a successor to director comey. when president carter chose an fbi director, he had a blue ribbon panel advising him. presidents clinton, obama interviewed several candidates. is the president going to follow this pattern or does he have some individual in mind at this point? >> right now, i know that there are several individuals being considered. and the first step will be determining the acting -- excuse me, the interim director, and that is being handled through the department of justice. so i would refer you to them for right now. >> the other question i was going to ask -- >> oh, yeah, forgot, you've got two. >> i've got two. i'm pretty nice, charlotte, aren't i? >> that's okay. that's okay. it's a southern thing maybe.
>> her daughter -- a birthday. >> want to make sure we got that in again. happy birthday, scarlet. >> scarlet. >> gone with the wind, come on. >> no, i was going to say it is a fact that the association of former fbi agents and veterans of the bureau generally prefer people who have been agents themselves, have a background in the fbi. only two former agents have been director in the last four decades. will the president consider current or former agents for the position? >> i would say he's not ruling anything out at this point. again, as of today, the department of justice is handling the first step in this process. >> sara. >> should the attorney general, who has recused himself from the russia investigation, have any role in the selection of a successor? and given the fact that in his 100 day interviews, the
president himself said he had confidence in director comey, at this podium the american people were told he had confidence in director comey. can people take at face value what the president says about personnel issues like this or his views on things if just two weeks later he's out? >> absolutely, you can take full confidence in the words of the president. in terms of whether or not attorney general sessions should have a role, look, the fbi is doing a whole lot more than the russia investigation. i know everybody in this room, and probably most of the media around the world would like to think that's the fbi's sole responsibility, but that's a -- probably one of the smallest things that they've got going on their plate in the 20,000 employees that work there, and so he should absolutely have a role in seeing who runs that agency and that department. zeke. >> does the president have confidence in the acting director? >> yes, he does. >> secondly, you mentioned
earlier that you were encouraging the fbi to move on from the russian investigation. is it appropriate for the white house to direct the fbi what to do with any investigation? >> i don't think that was the nature or the intent of my comment, wasn't to direct the fbi, but i think it's simply -- we're fully compliant with helping this process move along. we'd like to see it completed so frankly all of us can move on and focus on things that blake listed earlier like tax reform, like health care, like infrastructure. those are big programs, big priorities for this administration, and frankly, what we'd like to be, the number one thing we're talking about here today, every single day, is not fbi investigations but things that, frankly, affect american voters and american taxpayers every single day. >> sara. >> were sara. >> sara. >> what exactly precipitated the monday meeting? was that because of the hearing
last week or -- and what he said there or did the monday meeting that the president had with doj officials come out of a longer process of consideration? >> the department of justice officials were here for other business. not specifically to meet with the president on that. the topic came up and they asked to speak with the president and that's how it moved forward. >> -- previously talked to attorney general sessions or the deputy attorney general about the possibility of going this way with comey? >> not that i'm aware of, no. >> sara. >> sara. >> i'm sorry -- >> -- discuss process, the president was considering rosenstein, did he talk about comey with rosenstein then? >> not that i'm aware of. >> the president's statement that he talked to comey about whether or not he was being investigated raises several questions. can you talk about why you're not willing to add any more to that about who asked for that and why it was discussed? >> who asked for what, i'm
sorry? >> the president seems to be trying to exonerate himself in this, can you talk about why he won't add any more to what that conversation was, how that took place, when it took place? >> i think -- >> three times. >> three occasions, could you clarify those three occasions? >> again, i'm not going to get into the specific details. i'll check and see if we have follow-up on that. at this point, i'm not going to comment any further than what was spelled out in the letter. i'm sorry? >> if you don't want to clarify, why was it put in the letter in the first place? >> i think it's something far above my pay grade was decided to be included. again, i'm not going to get into the specifics of that. >> white house deputy press secretary explaining why president trump chose to fire the fbi director james comey less than 24 hours ago. described an erosion of confidence the president had in the fbi director over a period of time. and then the final straw, a meeting with the attorney general and the deputy attorney general on monday in the white
house, where they expressed their concerns over how comey was running the department. the presidentmemo. it came on tuesday. according to the white house, that is when the president made the decision. appears to contradict something the ranking democrat dianne feinstein in the senate judiciary committee said earlier today. where she said that the president told her, the president told her that he had asked the attorney general to look into this. let's listen. >> i talked to the president last night. he said the department's a mess. i asked rosenstein and sessions to look into it. rosenstein sent me a memo. i accepted the recommendation to fire him. i mean, my goodness. this is a man who's been there for two weeks. so i -- i'm a bit turned off on mr. rosenstein to be honest with
you. >> john karl in the white house briefing room. appears to be a direct contradiction there, john. >> it sure does. the question of what initiated this process from the deputy attorney general to write this nemo, recommending the firing of the fbi director. as, you know, senator feinstein said, she was told directly by the president that the president told the deputy attorney general that the fbi was a mess and look into it and that prompted the letter. this was a direct statement from the acting press secretary here today, sara huck buy sanders filling in for sean spicer, that this, the complaints were initiated by the deputy attorney general. although, george, she did acknowledge that -- or did say that the president had had concerns about comey going back to the day he was inaugurated. which is interesting, because we've heard in this briefing room sean spicer saying as recently as last week that the president had confidence in the fbi director. >> most of that memo from the
justice department talking about how comey was too tough on hillary clinton with that press conference, when he decided to do that press conference on his own without talking to the attorney general loretta lynch. republicans were saying loretta lynch was too conflicted to deal with this. >> in fact, we heard from candidate donald trump actually praising comey for some of those very things, praising comey for having the courage to say that he was reopening the investigation in october, that was one of the things that was criticized. that the deputy attorney general criticized comey for. a lot of contradictions here. the other question, george, that is really central is in the letter that the president sent comey saying that he was fired, he said that comey had told him on three separate occasions that he was not under investigation by the fbi. i asked others in this room asked. what were the nature of this conversations? as you imagine, it would seem to be highly inappropriate if the
president asked the fbi director am i under investigation. >> and got no information at all on that. much more on "world news" tonight. have a good afternoon. >> announcer: this has announceh live where you live, this is "abc 7 news." and you've been watching an abc news special report on the first white house press briefing since president trump fired fbi director james comey. thank you so much for joining us a few minutes later. i'm kristen sze. >> now we're going to turn to local news of the day. a rash of suspicious car fires in east bay. neighbors, of course, are concerned while police are on the hunt for a possible fire bug. >> the latest car fires just this morning. one in walnut creek, the other nearby in lafayette. there was another one monday in martinez, all dangerously close to homes. "abc 7 news" reporter amy hollyfield is live at the walnut
creek scene with the latest. how extensive was the damage there? >> reporter: hi, kristen. here is what is left of the honda here in walnut creek. this was on fire at 12:30 this morning. firefighters kept it from spreading to the home but their work wasn't finish. just 15 minutes later a call came in that another car, not too far away from here, was also on fire. the owners of this suburban were asleep inside their law fay et home on pauld ray street when they heard and smelled something suspicious. >> my wife woke up and heard kind of a pop and then we had a strange smell and then the car took off that a way from around the corner. >> reporter: they looked outside to see their suv was on fire. >> and we hadn't driven it since 2:00 in the afternoon, and so they -- they told us last night that it was set. >> reporter: firefighters then told him they had just put out another car fire 15 minutes earlier, and only two miles away from his home. >> it is pretty strange.
yeah. >> reporter: the first fire was in walnut creek on leroy lane, and they weren't the only car fires this week in the county. take a look at this one. another car in a driveway. this one in martinez on monday at 3:45 in the morning. firefighters have kept all of these fires from spreading to the homes, and no one has been hurt. they are investigating whether they are all related. a woman who lives near the two fires that happened this morning tells us she is feeling a bit nervous. >> and we have a car in our driveway, too, and it is like, hmm, you know, maybe we'll try to clean out the garage a little bit so we can get it inside because, you know, i mean how do you stop someone from doing something like that? >> reporter: firefighters haven't made any arrests at this point. they don't have any leads. the owner at this home did not want to come out and talk to us, but that fire victim in lafayette, he is shrugging all of this off. he says his car is insured. he doesn't think he was targeted, and he says he's glad no one was hurt. live in walnut creek, amy
hollyfield, "abc 7 news." thank you, amy. more developing news. kyle 7 was over the scene of an accident involving a car and a pole that knocked down an overhead line in pittsburgh. now, we believe that line that fell is a phone line. so you see crews there cutting the wire. there are reports that the driver of the black car was speeding, going nearly 100 miles per hour according to witnesses when the crash happened. no word just yet on injuries. and we are tracking more developing news out of contra costa county. scary moments for a family in pittsburgh. they say a group of armed robbers broke into their home on rosa blanca drive around 10:30 last night. they say the men came in through an open door and ordered them into a downstairs room. they mailed off with several items including jewelry and cash. no one was seriously hurt, but one family member was treated on the scene. police are now looking through surveillance video to see if they can identify the intruders. developing news now out of washington. just minutes ago you heard reaction from the white house on the president's firing of fbi
director james comey. a spokesperson said mr. trump considered letting comey go since he was elected president. >> most of america had decided on their own that director comey was not the person that should be leading the fbi, as evidenced by the numerous comments that we've seen from democrat members and the house and senate republican members, members of the fbi and people across the board. >> the president has called the investigation into possible collusion with the russians a hoax. the administration now pinning the firing on how comey handled the hillary clinton investigation. abc news reporter gentlemen nay norman has the latest from washington. >> reporter: the russia/trump solution story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end? president trump tweeting that question and following up less than 24 hours later with an official letter seeming to answer, informing the man leading that investigation, quote, you are hereby terminated and removed from office
effective immediately. >> he wasn't doing a good job, very simply. he was not doing a good job. >> reporter: fib director james comey dryer comey drawing the ire of the president, first shutting down the claim that president trump was wire tapped by the fbi and confirming an fbi investigation. but despite that trump writing as he announced the firing, i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation. >> that is a tell. that shows we have a deeply insecure president who understands that the noose is tightening because of this russian investigation. that's why i believe he has let jim comey go. >> reporter: trump tweeting comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in washington, rupp and democrat alike. when things calm down, they will be thanking me. >> our democratic colleagues complaining about the removal of an fbi director whom they themselves repeatedly and sharply criticize willed. >> reporter: but democrats alleging a coverup. >> the inescapeable conclusion
from the circumstantial evidence is that the president wanted to stop or stifle this investigation. >> this administration has now removed several law enforcement officials in position to conduct independent investigations of the president and his administration. >> reporter: democrats and even some republicans are now calling for a special prosecutor to take over the russia investigation. that would be up to the attorney general, but as jeff sessions has recused himself it would fall to his deputy. at this point it is unclear if rod rosenstein will make that call. janai norman, abc news washington. >> abc news the justice department is interviewing for comey's replacement. >> sarah huckabee sanders confirmed that. she hope to fill the spokes in next 24 to 48 hours. meantime big names are being thrown around for whom the president could collect for his permanent replacement. former new york mayor rudy guilliani, former republican
presidential candidate chris kristie and, kellie. >> sergei lavrov is in washington d.c. the russian ministry of foreign affairs tweeted this photo in the oval office this morning. the president is hosting russian ambassador sergey kislyak. he has been a swirling figure in the investigation. >> tenant's rights advocates are claiming victory in san jose this morning after city leaders take emergency action to stop landlords from evicting renters without cause. "abc 7 news" matt keller is live at san jose city hall. matt, why the big rush in kicking people out? >> reporter: kristen, this is a passionate issue for both sides. this ordinance protecting tenants from no-cause evictions was set to go into effect in june, but that all changed yesterday. the city council made a move at their meeting last night. members approved an urgency
ordinance immediately putting into place the tenant protection ordinance that was passed in april but wasn't supposed to go into effect until next month. the housing department said they see 30 no-cause ee vixs in the three weeks since that ordinance passed. many of the council members approved the urgency ordinance saying something needed to be done to protect renters during this time. two counsel silg members including davis say it is an unfair policy to land lords. >> but a number of evictions that happened after our first action and we were concerned if we didn't act immediately we might see even more of that. it is very difficult for folks out there. >> what i found was that if there's an apartment building with sitting tenants and just cause in place, that apartment building is actually worth 30% to 40% less than if it is vacant. so these are people's retirements. >> reporter: the landlords must now have a reason to evict. the city put out a list of 12 just causes including the tenant not paying rent, damage to the apartment and nuisance behavior. city staff estimates without