tv MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle MSNBC May 10, 2017 6:00am-7:01am PDT
hutchinson who put forward a serious proposal on medicaid reform which wasn't considered in the house but i believe it will be considered in the senate. and the tax credits. they're going to make sure the tax credits are more generous so people who transition from medicaid onto the exchanges will be able to afford it. >> charlie dent, best, fairest guest today, thank you. >> dan, thank you for being with us. >> thank you very much. his new book "the ideas industry, how partisans and plutocrats are transforming the marketplace of ideas." that does it for us this morning. stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage right now. good morning. i'm city of new rustephanie ruh. we've got breaking news to cover. the firing and the fallout. president trump axes fbi director james comey setting off a national firestorm. >> mr. president, you are making a big mistake. >> saturday night massacre. >> comey was fired because of the russians. >> the white house in a late-night, then early morning
full court press. >> the fbi director had lost the confidence to lead the fbi. >> this man is the president of the united states. he acted decisively today. >> it's time to move on. >> timing, ming. this morning the russian foreign minister meets with president trump and calls grow for an independent investigation into the trump campaign. >> an independent special prosecutor. >> i think a special prosecutor, special counsel, independent counsel. >> they have to appointing a special counsel. >> we need a special prosecutor right now. >> huge questions this morning. why did the president do it? who will lead the fbi now? and what will happen to the russia investigation? i've got a great panel with me to break it all down. i want to take you first to nbc's peter alexander live at the white house. peter, what do we know about this and how it all went down? >> reporter: well, we know that the information first came to us at the white house shortly after 5:00. it was first delivered literally by press secretary sean spicer to a series of reporters who
were gathered around here at the white house before ultimately a statement was put out indicating that the president had been following the recommendations of the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, who's only been in that post for two weeks now, and the attorney general, jeff sessions, to fire abruptly, as it would be, the fbi director, james comey, right now. the question that i asked sean spicer late last night was whether or not anybody at the white house ordered rosenstein, that deputy attorney general who oversees the fbi, to complete this review about comey. it seemed striking that only two weeks after taking office that all of a sudden he would have been able to put together this notification to the president and on that information the president would act. we're told the president made his decision only yesterday, although one of the focuses today will be why it happened yesterday and whether in fact this is a decision that had been made in advance and they were just looking for sor of the rationale that would be necessary behind it. we are hearing from president trump already this morning on his favorite megaphone, that is
twitter. let's put up some of the tweets we've seen from him over the course of the last couple of hours. writing in part the democrats have said some of the worst things about james comey, including the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad. he adds james comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the fbi. and then he writes comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in washington, republican and democrat alike. when things calm down, they will be thanking me. let's walk you through some of that timetable if we can, a little bit of the timeline that we have regarding james comey's dismissal. we'll put those dates up on the screen to try to give you a better understanding of how this all came to be. on april 26th, that's when the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein was sworn in. on may 2nd, the president tweeted that james comey gave hillary clinton a free pass. that was a reaction to the testimony comey had on the hill last week where he talked about being mildly nauseous given the circumstances surrounding
hillary clinton's e-mail investigation and his decision to reopen it in the waning days of the election. on may 3rd, comey testified that he stands by his preelection decisions. that's when that nauseous comment was made. on tuesday, rosenstein recommends comey's dismissal. on tuesday afternoon, that letter delivered to the fbi. a part of that letter read you're here by terminated and removed from office effective immediately. what was notable was this sort of striking assessment of his own situation where the president added while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three occasions that i'm not under investigation, i concur with the department of justice that you're not able to effectively lead the bureau. we have reached out to the white house and they have not been able to immediately provide us with those specific details surrounding the three occasions on which comey said that to president trump. >>ant to bring in nbc's justice correspondent, pete williams. pete, i just read politico reporting fbi agents are crying this morning. what's the feeling you're
getting inside? >> total shock that this was coming. they had no idea this was happening. while there certainly were agents inside the fbi, especially some of them who worked on the hillary clinton investigation, who weren't happy with aspects of how james comey led that investigation, weren't happy, for example, some of them thought she should have prosecuted, some thought his news conference went too far, you might find agents of the fbi who in essence agree with many of the points rod rosenstein made in that letter, but they didn't think the fbi director should be fired, especially fired in the middle of an investigation of whether the trump campaign had anything to do with the russian influence on the election. so discontent with how the e-mail thing was handled is one thing. thinking he should be fired is quite another. and there's great shock. there was great affection and respect for james comey. this is somebody who whenever he went out and spoke publicly always talked about how great it was to lead the fbi, what a
wonderful organization it was, the great integrity that the fbi agents and the people who work for the fbi had. so he was someone who was looked at as a great leader of the fbi, even though people understood that there was a huge controversy over the clinton e-mail case. >> well, there's also a huge controversy over the trump campaign and russia. what's next in the investigation? >> sorry, stephanie, say that again. >> russia investigation, what's next? >> well, it's going to go on. it doesn't stop. but you have to ask yourself, what influence -- what sort of effect on the agents that are running it? are they now going to think that there's no great appetite for this in the justice department and will they be a little more timid about it? it will go on. thean who's going to be the director of the fbi now, who was the number two, andrew mccabe, will continue to oversee it. he was well briefed on it so he won't miss a step here, but you
have to wonder about the sort of psychological effect on the fbi. >> i want to bring my panel in. jeremy bash is a former chief of staff for the cia and the defense department, also an msnbc national security analyst. navid jamali a former fbi double agent and author of "how to catch a russian spy." on set with me steve kornacki, political correspondent for nbc and msnbc and robert traynham, a former advisor to the 2000 bush campaign. jeremy, kellyanne conway already said this morning it is totally inappropriate to question the timing of president trump taking this action. but for you, what was the most shocking, what happened, why it happened or the timing? >> well, what was shocking to me was that the president would move against the one federal investigation that actually could hold his inner circle in criminal jeopardy. remember, stephanie, there are three federal investigations,
one by the republican-led senate, one by the republican-led house and one by the career professionals at the federal bureau of investigation. it was only that last investigation, the one that comey was heading up, that had both the resources and the criminal prosecution power. those other two investigations don't have those things. only comey had those tools to really put the clamps on trump's inner circle and try to figure out whether there was any ties between his team and the russian federation. and for the president to move against that investigation in a way that really seems like a move of obstruction of justice is pretty brazen. i think is not only goingo go down like a lead balloon among the career rank and file in the fbi but will send a shiver down the spine of anybody who's going to come to the white house and try to speak truth to power or warn them about issues they need to be aware of. >> i want to bring steve in. steve, i want to play a little bit of what sarah huckabee sanders said this morning about how the letter from deputy attorney general rod rosenstein triggered all of this. >> when you receive a report
that is so clear and a recommendation by someone like the deputy attorney general, you have no choice but to act. you have to make a decision. the president did that. once he did, there was no reason to sit around and wait and debate on it. the decision was made and it was time to move forward. >> come on now, what do you make of that? >> well, you do have a choice. you're the president. you don't have to act on what rod rosenstein says. the interesting thing is if you look at the rationale that rosenstein is laying out there, it's -- this is where the politics gets so tangled on this. he's laying out a case that an awful lot of democrats have made over the last six, eight months. he can look at -- you know, he announces last summer, comey does, hillary clinton is not going to face prosecution, he's not going to be charged. he doesn't just end it there. he then essentially indicts her in the court of public opinion in this letter coming out ten days before the election october 28th with that letter. these are sorts of things
democrats, harry reid himself, said comey ought to be fired for that. so the weird thing here is you have the trump administration now making theas demts had been making before, but donald trump himself made it clear he doesn't buy that case. he was talking about what a courageous man james comey was when he sent that letter just before the election, so it is hard to read the firing based on the justification that's presented here as anything other than a pretense. and the question then becomes what is it a pretense for. >> ding ding ding ding ding. naveed, a pretense for what? sarah huckabee sanders also said time to move on from the russia investigation. why on earth would it be time to move on from the russia investigation if the reason president trump fired james comey had to do with hillary clinton and the handling of her e-mails? riddle me this one, batman. >> well, did donald trump really wake up yesterday and look at his to-do list and say fire james comey and set up a meeting with lavrov? it's crazy.
i think what we saw from the yates hearing is perhaps the most tangible thing against trump himself, which is that he was informed that there was a security concern about flynn. now again, a security concern doesn't have to be something that is actually going to be born out, but when someone is presented -- when you're in a position that has trust and confidence and if you are put in a position where there's doubt about your ability to do so objectively and more importantly a security concern, you have to be removed until that is mitigated. and the fact that the president decided not to do that i think is troubling and that's perhaps the most tangible thing we've seen. >> robert, sean spicer, sarah huckabee sanders or kellyanne conway saying the president can do whatever he wants. a lot of republicans have already weighed in and i want to share a bit of that. john mccain said he was disappointed in the president's decision. richard burr said he was troubled by the timing and reasoning. bob corker said comey's removal at this particular time will raise questions. jeff flake tweeted that he's trying to find an acceptable
rationale but he just can't do it. >> that's the problem. when you have your rank and file republicans on capitol hill, your back benchers, your echo chamber not able to defend this president. from my sources in the white house, no one knew this was coming. there was no legal bench, if you will, that we're going to come out and speak to the press on background. the staff didn't know about this. so when you really, really ignore the hill, i think you do so at your peril. so what i think is happening here is a lot of senators are scrambling. they're trying to figure this out. and that's not a good place to be. you want them on the offense with you, not on the defense. >> steve, you mentioned the position that democrats are in and what they have been calling for all these months. take a look. >> i have said from the get-go that i think a special prosecutor is the way to go. >> they have to appoint a special counsel. >> the whole echo of watergate is very strong here. >> we need a special prosecutor right now. >> here's a mosaic that needs to
be explored and supervised by a special independent prosecutor. >> does it actually matter? because rod rosenstein is the one who's going to make a decision on the special prosecutor, isn't it? >> two questions here. number one, is there going to be political pressure that's exerted by these republicans, members of trump's own party, are they going to be joine by other republicans and are they going to join the democrats in demanding a special prosecutor and is there sufficient political pressure from both sides of the aisle to force the administration's hand. that's the first question. but the second question and one of the clips said the parallels to watergate. there is a big difference between what happened with the saturday night massacre and what's happening here. >> what? >> richard nixon fired a special prosecutor. he fired the point man on the investigation and he shut down the office. he shut down the investigation. here, as you just heard from pete williams, you have the counterintelligence unit that is still pursuing the investigation. there is the question will this have a chilling effect on this
investigation? >> why wouldn't it fire it up? >> the question that it raises is who's the successor? who runs the fbi? who's the appointee there? is it somebody you're going to look at and say this is somebody sent to to do trump's bidding, would that person win senate kwirp confirmation, or does he send someone in who continues the investigation. >> and here you have sean spicer on record saying they want an investigation. they want to get to the bottom of this. they want to be thorough. so the president has put himself in a political box here. and to steve's point, who does he appoint to the fbi? you would make the argument that it has to be someone on the straight and narrow, it has to be someone that's objective and it has to be someone that wants to get to the bottom of this. >> well, we know rudy giuliani paid a visit to the white house last night. jeremy, this only gets stranger in that today, ofll days, president trump is meeting with russian foreign minister, sergey lavrov. our own andrea mitchell in there as always tried to ask him about all this. i want to share that moment. >> is the comey firing casting a
shadow over your talks, gentlemen? >> was he fired? you're kidding! you're kidding! >> yes, he was fired. >> wow. coinky dink? jeremy. >> i think the timing of lavrov's visit is coincidence. but the broader point is the investigation into russia is a national security matter and comey has two hats. he has the hat of an investigator of criminal matters but also has the hat of a counterintelligence official, someone to tell the white house and tell the president about threats to national security. and i'm concerned in firing comey, one of the effects here is that they will lose someone who is in a position to warn the white house about the ongoing russia operation to interfere in our politics. it's almost as if the white house doesn't want to hear that. they were reluctant to hear it when sally yates warned them about mike flynn and here again there is sort of this, hey,
don't come and tell us anything about what russia is doing in a nefarious way. we want to pursue this path with russia and we're not going to have anyone tell us otherwise. >> what they have done is pumped up the volume and a lot of other people want to know. we're going to take a break, gentlemen. thank you so much. next, the president says he fired comey over his handling of hillary clinton's e-mails. well, hillary clinton's former campaign manager, robby mook, joins us with his reaction. and former attorney general eric holder weighed in tweeting his reaction last night writing, quote, to the career men and women at the department of juice a fbi, you know what the job entails and how to do it. be strong and unafraid. duty. honor. country. boom. well, tomorrow, what timing, do not miss our own lester holt's exclusive one-on-one interview with president donald trump from the white house that will air tomorrow on nbc nightly news with lester holt. strained driver in a motor vehicle. sir, can you hear me? two, three. just hold the bag. we need a portable x-ray, please!
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democrats would be dancing in the streets if hillary clinton had won, she would have immediately have fired james comey. >> well, that, of course, was deputy white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders on "morning joe." in documents released by the white house, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein cites comey's handling of the hillary clinton e-mail investigation as grounds for his dismissal. at one point writing, quote, i cann defend the director's handling of the conclusion of
the investigation of secretary clinton's e-mails. well, here's somebody who's definitely going to have a choice reaction, former clinton presidential campaign manager, robby mook. robby, i want to get your reaction to sarah huckabee sanders. would hillary clinton have fired james comey? >> you know, hillary clinton wasn't elected president of the united states, donald trump was. i think this is a classic example of how the trump administration is trying to get us to debate, you know, what would hillary have done. let's go back to 2016 and relitigate the campaign and not keep the focus on the choice that donald trump made here. >> we're going to do that, but i'm not part of the trump campaign. this is me asking you. would hillary clinton have fired james comey? >> i honestly have no clue. you know, we were running a campaign, we were focused on winning votes, and this discussion never came up and never -- we never frankly had the opportunity because she wasn't elected to even make
these sorts of considerations. you know what, frankly, it doesn't matter. what's concerning here today is that the same day that subpoenas were coming out in the fbi probe into russia, all of a sudden donald trump decides to fire james comey. and not just that, he decides to make the excuse or his justice department makes the excuse that all of a sudden he cares very much about hillary clinton and how she was treated by the fbi. it's the most ridiculous excuse i think they possibly could hav come up with, and i'm surprised they thought that anyone would fall for this. it's just so transparently false. >> well, last night you tweeted, quote, twielt zone. i was as disappointed and frustrated as anyone as how the clinton e-mail was handled, but this terrifies me. more specifically, what were your thoughts? when you saw that president trump -- i understand that you're saying that this is ridiculous, it's unheard of.
besides being shocked, what specifically were your thoughts when you heard this? >> well, i'm concerned about the balance of power in this country. and a president who seems to think that he's above the law. i can't imagine any other president getting away with this, and i certainly hope that donald trump doesn't either. i was the first one, as we just discussed, i was the first one to criticize james comey. i was -- i thought the way he handled that investigation was not good and there was an investigation in place into his conduct and i was looking forward to seeing the results of that. but the fact of the matter is here, when the president -- when the president's own campaign, his own associates are under investigation, he can't just let go of not just the leader of the fbi, he's let go of two other officials within the justice department who were also investigating this. and that's why the congress has to step up here to protect the balance of pow in is country
and appoint a special prosecutor. we can't rely on the trump administration to appoint someone. i have absolutely no confidence that that person will be even-handed or fair in this process. and congress needs to step up and do their duty under the constitution. they are one of the three branches of power here, and they are slowly letting the president just run roughshod over our legal system. >> he's not shutting down the russia investigation. is there not an opportunity for you to take this as a positive given how aggressively you have come out against james comey and how he handled hillary clinton's e-mails? isn't there a chance here if there is a special prosecutor, we don't know who's going to be named next as the head of the fbi. this could move things forward. there is a lot of focus today on this russia investigation and there's in fact more pressure on republicans in congress to not let this just slide under the rug. couldn't this be a positive? >> well, i'm glad you asked this
question because i think what the administration was trying to do here was make a clever political move and do something that they thought the democrats would support. the fact of the matter is we like our country and we want to protect our constitution more than we want to have sort of petty fights with the fbi. again, no one disapproved of comey's handling of the investigation more than me. but the way this was done, the timing of this, the fact that he fired him the day that it was announced that these subpoenas were going out in the russia probe, we kw that e president has an erratic temperament. it's been reported that he was losing his temper over this russia investigation. we cannot let ourselves get lulled into accepting this kind of erratic and completely inappropriate behavior that puts the president above the law. again, he has fired three people who were actively investigating him, and at every juncture, he hasn't just fired them, he's done nothing to reassure us that
he wants this investigation to continue. and so i think everybody, democrats and republicans, have to speak out. if we let this become partisan and if we get down into relitigating the election last year, we're playing right into the game and we're putting our constitutional democracy at risk. >> rob, you're right, the president did fire three people. guess what, we're not going anywhere and we're still asking questions. robby, thank you. any minute now democrats will take to the senate floor en masse to pressure senate majority leader mitch mcconnell to comment on james comey. the question is, is it going to work? >> before we go, when the comey news broke late yesterday, you know the late night shows were quickly tearing up the script and getting ready to cover it. >> trump fired the fbi director. like you -- you can't just fire the fbi director. like i mean if he's gone, who's going to investigate russia's ties to -- ohhh:
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in a letter asking for his resignation, president trump wrote, quote, while i greatly appreciate you informing on three separate occasions that i'm not under investigation, i nevertheless concur with the judgment of the department of justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau. in the next hour, president trump will meet with russian foreign minister sergey lavrov behind closed doors in the oval office. lavrov also met with secretary of state rex tillerson this morning to talk about ukraine and syria. eight democratic senators are calling for an investigation into carl icahn, a billionaire investor and one of president trump's closest advisers. the lawmakers urged three federal departments to look into whether he may have violated insider trading and market manipulation laws. eight members of a penn state fraternity were arraigned on tuesday on charged related to the death of 19-year-old timothy piazza in february. charges include tampering with
evidence and furnishing alcohol to minors. in sports, it was a mixed night for the san antonio spurs. they beat the rockets in overtime to take a 3-2 series lead, but mvp candidate kawhi leonard hurt his ankle. that is a big problem. he says he will be ready for game six on thursday. i hope he's acing it. senate democrats are gathering right now on the senate floor one day after the surprise firing of fbi director james comey. they're waiting to hear what majority leader mitch mcconnell may say as he opens the senate for business, which he does every day. i want to take you live to capitol hill and nbc's mike viquera. chuck schumer requested his fellow democrats be on the senate floorht now. what is all of this about? clearly 's going to be a show. >> reporter: right. it's largely a symbolic gesture, there's no question about that, stephanie. usually when the senate floor opens, the majority leader and minority leader will make brief speeches, trade a few barbs
perhaps, political barbs and that's the end of it and move on to the next thing. this is a rare occasion reserved for times of war, peace, perhaps impeachment where all senators are in their seats, symbolizing the democrats' concern about the gravity of this situation, the implications for separation of powers, obviously the concern that the investigation ongoing by the fbi, the fbi director fired. outrage has been called -- has been expressed. special prosecutor calls have abounded from the democratic side. even many republicans as you've been reporting, richard burr, john mccain, corker, langford, flake, stalwarts on the conservative side have expressed reservations about what has occurred here. so you'll see republicans sitting there as well as democrats. i'm in the basement of the russell building where many senators have gone through this tunnel here under constitution avenue and are now in their seats in the senate chamber. >> all right, back with me my panel, steve kornacki and robert traynh traynham. while legally president trump may have the right to do this,
can we talk about conduct for a moment. the fact that this did come out of left field, the fact that this letter notifying james comey about being fired did not go through the normal channels through the justice department, it was hand delivered by president trump's former private security guy, and james comey found out while giving a speech to members of the fbi and it flashed across a screen behind him. where is the code of conduct? i mean there is some level of how you treat one another. i mean it's why we don't see fist fights on the senate floor. >> yeah, or airplanes. look, here's the question. the question is what does director comey do next? obviously there's a lot of things he cannot say from a classified perspective, but then the question becomes does he write a book, does he go out and tell his own story. my dad had a saying, you take away a man's dignity, he'll do anything to get it back. the question becomes is whether or not director comey wakes up this morning and says it's now my turn. it's now my turn to get my dignity back and to set the record straight because the way
that i was treated is not right and i have something to say. i just can't imagine why president trump did it this way except that i think this was alluded to a few moments ago. he's a very, very reactionary thinker. he's a gut thinker. and something tells me that something triggered either with him or with the attorney general where they made a very snap decision without thinking about the political -- >> i want to go to mitch mcconnell right now giving remarks on the senate floor. >> acknowledge the need to improve and reform the health care system. after eight years of defending this failing law and higher costs, reduced choices and dropped coverage, i'm glad to hear that senate democrats are finally willing to concede that the status quo is simply unsustainable. i appreciate their willingness to acknowledge that obamacare hasn't lived up to its promises. that certainly is reality that senate republicans entirely agree with. it's why we're working to keep our commitment to the american people to move beyond the failures of obamacare.
if our friends on the other side of the aisle want to join us in replacing obamacare with common sense reforms, i welcome their input. it's disappointing that it's taken our democratic colleagues this long to come around, but i look forward to hearing their ideas now and i look forward to joining in a robust debate on the senate floor as we pursue smarter health care solutions. >> all right then. what mitch mcconnell does not look forward to is talking about james comey. i mentioned it before. chuck schumer brought together all of the democrats. they are there today, this morning, listening. what does it tell you that mitch mcconnell taking this time to talk about repeal and replace and not talk about this gargantuan-sized elephant in the room? >> it tells me that mitch mcconnell is still mitch mcconnell. he's the kind of person that if there's going to be a break when it comes to mitch mcconnell and this white house over something like this, what you're going to see first is virtually every other republican senator breaking with the white house. you're going to see a lot of noise on the republican side
saying we need a special prosecutor, this is outrageous, then somebody like mitch mcconnell, the leader of the party, a very cautious leader, a very plodding leader, somebody who never gives away more in public -- an inch more in public than he thinks he's got to move away, then he'll move, then he'll act, then he'll reflect it >> i wked for mch mcconnell t. for ten years when i was in the senate. >> describe him in one word. >> a poker player. he never tells you what he's thinking and he never makes a move without seeing how you react first. >> wow. mike, i want you to come back in here. what can senate democrats actually do? i'm looking at the statement that dianne feinstein put out earlier. i'm going to read just a bit of it. the real question we face today is whether director comey was fired because of the clinton e-mail investigation, which could have happened in january, or whether he was fired because of the fbi's investigation of trump's connection to russia. boom. so we knew that we would hear this from democrats. but if people like dianne
feinstein continue to say things like this, if we hear from more moderate republicans, ben sasse, bob corker, john mccain, lindsey graham who have stayed on this russia thing saying we need to focus on this, then how, how does somebody like mitch mcconnell and the majority say, nope, we're just going to move on here and follow behind the president. if you're mitch mcconnell, you're not tied to russia. why wouldn't you say let's focus on this to clear everyone's mind? >> reporter: well, first of all, they're not going to break -- mitch mcconnell is not going to break ranks with his party. mitch mcconnell has a constituency of 51. that's the number of republican senators here in the senate that are not named mitch mcconnell. furthering their interests, expanding the majority, furthering their re-election chances. that's what he's got on his mind. he's no fool. he knows that he's got a national audience here. he's going to talk about the thing he wants to talk about and that's the fact that they're going to take up health care. so what are the options in terms of democrats? they largely have to do, stephanie, putting political
pressure, public pressure, counting on public outrage and getting some republicans to jump ship. there are actually relative few options. one is a so-called special prosecutor, but that has to be appointed by the attorney general, if you can believe it, not by congress. congress does not have the power to appoint a special prosecutor. congress could call for an independent commission, sort of a 9/11-style commission, if you will, which obviously has been done in the past and we've heard justin amash on the house side -- >> i'm going to interrupt you -- michael, i need to interrupt you. mitch mcconnell is speaking with director comey now. >> both at that time and consistently thereafter. last year the current democratic leader said it appeared to be an appalling act, one that he said goes against the tradition of prosecutors at every level of government. and the prior democratic leader, when i asked if james comey should resign given his conduct of the investigation, he replied of course.
yes. it's also clear what our democratic colleagues think of the man who evaluated mr. comey's professional conduct and concluded that the bureau needed a change in leadership. the democratic leader just a few weeks ago raised mr. rosenstein for his independence and said he had developed a reputation for integrity. so what we have are our democratic colleagues complaining about the removal of an fbi director who they themselves repeatedly and sharply criticized. that removal being done by a man, rod rosenstein, whom they repeatedly and effusively praised. when mr. rosenstein recommended mr. comey's removal for many of the very reasons that they consistently complained about.
two investigations are currently ongoing. the senate intelligence committee's review of russian active measures and intelligence activities and the fbi investigation disclosed by director comey. today we'll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done to not only discover what the russians may have done, also to let this body and the national security community develop counter measures and war fighting doctrine to see that it doesn't happen again. partisan calls should not delay the considerable work of chairman burr and vice chairman warner. too much is at stake. deputy attorney general rosenstein was just confirmed on
a bipartisan vote 94-6. 94-6. and that sort of fair consideration should continue when the senate receives an fbi director nominee. as i said yesterday, once the senate receives a nomination to fill this position, we'll look forward to a full, fair and timely confirmation process. this is a critical role that is particularly important as our country continues to face serious threats at home and abroad. >> mr. president -- >> that, of course, was mitch mcconnell speaking. chuck schumer is now taking the podium. >> jim comey, who was leading an active investigation into the trump campaign's possible collusion with russia. the president provided no reasoning for the firing other
than he had the recommendation of his attorney general who has already had to recuse himself from the russia investigation for being too close to the president and his deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein. mr. president, there is little reason to think that mr. rosenste rosenstein's letter is the true reason that president trump fired director coy. why? because if the administration truly had objections to the way director comey handled the clinton investigation, they would have had them the minute the president got into office. but he didn't fire director comey then. the question is why did it happen last night. we know director comey was leading an investigation in whether the trump campaign colluded with the russians, a serious offense. were those investigations getting too close to home for
the president? the dismissal of director comey establishes a very troubling pattern. this administration has now removed several law enforcement officials in a position to conduct independent investigations of the president and his administration. from acting attorney general sally yates to preet bharara and now jim comey. what should happen now, what must happen now is that mr. rosenstein appoints a special prosecutor to oversee this investigation. deputy attorney general rosenstein sat in the judiciary committee and promised to appoint a special prosecutor at the appropriate time. he said, quote, i'm willing to appoint a special counsel whenever i determine that it's appropriate. so my colleague, senator coons, asked him would you agree it's vital to the assurance of confidence in our democracy and
law enforcement system that any investigation into these matters be fair, free, thoroughly and politically independent? mr. rosenstein answered yes, i do. if there was ever a time when circumstances warranted a special prosecutor, it is right now. mr. rosenstein already expressed concern that director comey damaged the integrity of the fbi. the attorney general has already had to recuse himself from the investigation for being too close to the president. if mr. rosenstein is true to his word, that he believes this investigation must be, quote, fair, free, thorough and politically independent, if he believes as i do that the american people must be able to have faith in the impartiality of this investigation, he must appoint a special prosecutor and get his investigation out of the
hands of the fbi and far away from the heavy hand of this administration. mr. rosenstein has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor right now. he needs no congressional authorization. this would simply be a step that he could take as outlined in the department of justice guidelines and in a law passed after watergate to get an independently minded prosecutor who would be insulated from various pressures. a special prosecutor is not subject to day-to-day supervision by the attorney general or anyone else at the justice department. that means the special prosecutor would have much greater latitude in who he can subpoena, which questions they ask, how to conduct an investigation. the special prosecutor can only be removed for good cause, suc as misconduct, not to quash the investigation. third, there is built-in
congressional oversight. congress is notified whenever a special counsel is appointed, removed or finished with the investigation. the appointment of a special prosecutor would be a welcome step in the right direction, but it is not the only action that should be taken. there are a great many outstanding questions about the circumstances of director comey's dismissal, the status of the executive branch investigation into the trump campaign ties to russia, and what the future holds for these investigations. so i will be requesting that the majority leader call a closed and if necessary classified session, all senators briefing, sorry. i will be requesting that the majority leader call a closed and if necessary classified all senators briefing with the attorney general and the deputy attorney general separately at
which they can be asked questions. some of the questions: why was attorney general sessions, who had recused himself from the russia investigations, able to influence the firing of the man conducting the russia investigation? did deputy attorney general rosenstein act on his own or at the direction of his superiors or the white house? are reports that the president has been searching for a rationale to fire the fbi director for weeks true? was director comey's investigation making significant progress in a direction that would cause politicalamage for the white house? why didn't the president wait for the inspector general's investigation into director comey's handling of the clinton e-mail investigation to conclude before making his decision to
fire him? was this really about something else? no doubt we'll have an opportunity to question mr. comey, now a private citizen, about what happened. but we need to hear from this administration about what happened and why and what is going to happen next. and that is why, again, i am requesting that the majority leader call a closed and if necessary classified all sessions briefing with the attorney general and the deputy attorney general separately at which they can be asked these questions. i hope the majority leader agrees with me that we need to get to the bottom of this and get a handle on all the facts so that we can grapple with them. i remind him and my republican friends that nothing less is at stake than the american people's
faith in our criminal justice system and the integrity of the executive branch of our government. i yield the floor. >> minority leader schumer, i want to bring in now democrat congressman ted lieu of california. congressman, we know earlier mitch mcconnell did address the james comey situation. want to share a bit of what he said. we don't actually have has sound by mitch mcconnell did talk about it and he said the investigation is ongoing. he didn't ask for a special prosecutor. but from your perspective, the fact that mitch mcconnell addressed it, is it not somewhat of a positive? sara said time to move on from the russian investigation. nobody else is saying that. >> for any fbi agent watching, now more than ever we need you to follow your oath of office and that oath was not to the
president or to mitch mcconnell. it was to the constitution of the niets and protect it and defend it against enemies, foreign and domestic. the american public is behind you and i'm pleased that mitch mcconnell talked about this issue on the senate floor today. >> what leverage do you really have to pull? chuck schumer said there's going to be a closed door meeting after that. what can the democrats do with the exception of making a lot of noise and sending out that public plea to members of the fbi? >> well, what makes america great, stephanie, is there are three institutions the president cannot fire, the free press, the courts and congress. and i guarantee you that if there is evidence of collusion the democrats are not only fired up, but now there's fuel on the fire and it's emboldened us to make sure we take the investigation where it may lead. and if there is collusion, then this president will be taken down. >> are there members of congress, republican members that you have or plan to reach
out to? i'm looking at the republican congressman who tweeted that he's reviewing information to establish an independent committee on russia. are you working with them? >> absolutely. i retweeted the tweet last night. last month i sent a letter, along with stayty plaskett and kathleen rice to the attorney general then asking for a special prosecutor. and before he could respond rod ros rosenstein was appointed. now we're going to renew the request and ask him to appoint the special prosecutor. >> if you don't get a special prosecutor, if you get a down the middle replacement for james comey, what's to say thing won't continue in. >> things will continue. and what's amazing about your country is that the fbi agents
took an oath of office. they're going to do their jobs. and the fbi counter intelligence division, i have tremendous faith in them. this is what they train for. they i'm execute and accomplish their mission. >> thank you so much for joining me this morning. i want to turn back to the panel. steve, can the white house keep this tight and continue to try to say this is all about hillary clinton and her e-mails? last night to anderson cooper kellyanne conway said this is about how james comey conducted himself since president trump won the election. can they continue to say it was about clinton because at the same time donald trump is saying and james comey told me three times i wasn't being investigated. i wasn't a target. >> i thought mcconnell, what he did say was interesting because he's using the white house's line. to far there's no space between what the white house is saying essentially and what mcconnell is saying. what you heard him saying was look, the demeanors said there were grounds for dismissal of
james comey. and then rosenstein came out and recommended it, trump accepted it. nothing to see here. why are democrats saying this. that's the opening bid for mcconnell. but the question to me becomes -- you look at some of these -- you mentioned darrel in california. he's in one of these districts with abrepublican congressman who's got to run in a competitive district in 208 20 178. him coming out saying there should be a special prosecutor. that suggests he's thinking ahead to 2018 saying you know what, the safe place to be politically is skeptical of the trump administration on this. do more republicans in districts like this come to the same conclusion and start speaking out publicly. if they do, that can create the political pressure that moves somebody like mcconnell. mcconnell is probably going to be one of the last to go on this publicly. that's where the pressure has to come to. >> the window is open to continue to focus on russia. it's not like the president shut down the investigation.
there are two ongoing investigations and now this james comey firing has lit things up that more and more people are so laser beam focused on it. could this end up working against president trump? >> absolutely. look. a lot of people are going to focus on this like a laser beam. the real question is what does lindsey graham think? mitch mcconnell has to say what he has to say. he will stick to the script. where does ted cruz and some of the other guys come out. that's when the fever may break. >> can you do both in lindsey graham said on morning joe he was supporting the fibering of james comey. can you not support that and support a special prosecutor and investigation? >> no. both sides of the aisle have a little bit of a balancing act. democrats can say we thought there were grounds for disst
dismidi dismissing. but at the same time, we don't support a firing under these circumstances. you can do that from the republican side as well. you heard lindsey graham trying to make that point. >> a balancing act, a tight rope. it's called a circus. welcome to america. here we go. thank you both so so much. what a show. do not miss tomorrow night, this is going to be must see tv. of course it's a thursday. lester holt's exclusive one on one interview with president donald trump from the white house. that's tomorrow on nbc nightly news with lester holt. wow. so much to cover, so much going yore watching msnbc. nobody's h, but there will still be pain. it comes when your iurance company says they'll only pay three-quarters of what it takes to replace it. what are you supposed to do? drive three-quarters of a car? now if you had liberty mutual new car replacement™, you'd get your whole car back. i guess they don't want you driving around on three wheels. smart.
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that wraps us up this hour. coming up right now, more news in d.c. with my colleague who has been working overtime, hallie jackson. we're off to the races this morning. right now all democrats, most of them at least in the senate on the floor. chuck schumer lit up. he wants a close door all senators meeting with the attorney general and deputy ag. mitch mcconnell making his case looking ahead to the confirmation of the next director. and for the president himself, no regrets in a sniper style tweet storm, he's picking off his democrat opponents this morning. >> democrats would be dancing in the streets if mill clint had won. she would have immediately fired james comey. >> what's up
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