MTP Daily, Transcript 6/8/2017

Guests:
Susan Collins, Dianne Feinstein, Amy Walter, Stewart Baker, Matthew Continetti
Transcript:

Show: MTP DAILY
Date: June 8, 2017
Guest:

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: That does it for this hour. I`m Nicole
Wallace. “MTP DAILY” starts right now. Hi, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicole. We have some basketball to talk about
but we`ll worry about that Friday.

WALLACE: We do. Who won last night?

TODD: I fell asleep in the fourth quarter.

WALLACE: OK.

TODD: Cleveland was winning. That`s all I remember.

WALLACE: Cleveland lost. Go warriors.

TODD: Goodbye.

If it`s Thursday, James Comey is on Capitol Hill. And guess what? So are
we.

Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd live from Capitol Hill. Welcome to MTP DAILY.

Folks, no matter your political views, James Comey` bombshell testimony
today wasn`t a good thing. It wasn`t good for the president or the Justice
Department or faith in government or even, arguably, for Comey, himself.

We`re going to see partisans of both sides spin what happened today. But
there`s no avoiding it. Things smell all around and it starts at the top.

Under oath, before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey testified that
special counsel Bob Mueller is probably going to be investigating whether
or not the president obstructed justice. Because according to Mr. Comey,
Mr. Trump urged him to shut down probe into national security adviser Mike
Flynn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I don`t
think it`s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president
was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very
concerning. But that`s a conclusion I`m sure the special counsel will work
towards to try and understand what the intention was there and whether
that`s an offense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Comey also told Republican Senator Jim Risch that he believed the
president was directing him to shut down the Flynn probe when he said I
hope you can let Flynn go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: I took it as a direction. That it is the president of the United
States with me alone, saying, I hope this, I took it as this what he wants
me to do. Now, I didn`t obey that but that`s the way I took it.

SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: You may have taken it as direction but that`s
not what he said.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: He said, I hope.

COMEY: Those were his exact words, correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Folks, even if you give president the full benefit of the doubt
here, it doesn`t change the disturbing portrait that Comey painted of him.

First off, here`s why Comey says he started documenting his interactions
with Mr. Trump in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our
meeting and so I thought it really important to document.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: The first time he used the L word. Here`s Comey`s brutal assessment
of the White House`s justification for firing him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: And although law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director,
the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly, the FBI,
by saying that the organization was in disarray. That it was poorly led.
That the work force had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies,
plain and simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: And there`s the second time he used that word. Here`s what Comes
told Independent Senator Angus King about the president`s later denials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: The president was asked whether he had urged
you to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn. The president
responded, quote, “No, no. Next question.” Is that an accurate statement?

COMEY: I don`t believe it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: And Comey didn`t mince words when asked why he believes the
president did fire him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: It`s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia
investigation. I was fired, in some way, to change – or the endeavor was
to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. That` is a
very big deal. And not just because it involves me. The nature of the FBI
and the nature of its work requires that it not be the subject of political
consideration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Comey also testified that the president asked him for his loyalty,
during a conversation about whether or not Comey would keep his job.

And, folks, to be fair, there were serious questions raised about Comey
himself. He admitted that, as a private citizen, he directed the leak of
one of his memos which may have been FBI property in order to force the
appointment of a special counsel. It was actually a remarkable admission.

The public is going to put a spotlight on that question and answer, among
others, along with other parts of Comey`s testimony, that they believe
exonerate the president from what you might call the worse-case scenario.

Here`s what I`m talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA, CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:
Did the president, at any time, ask you to stop the FBI investigation into
Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections?

COMEY: Not to my understanding, no.

RISCH: I gather, from all of this, that you are willing to say, now, that
while you were director, the president of the United States was not under
investigation. Is that a fair statement?

COMEY: That`s correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: And as you might expect, the president`s outside counsel, Mark
Kasowitz, says Comey is telling the truth about the good stuff, as far as
they`re concerned, like the president not being under investigation and not
trying on impede the Russia probe.

But the president`s lawyer says Comey is lying about all the stuff that
makes the president look bad. Like the president urging Comey to drop the
Flynn probe or demanding that loyalty pledge.

So, it`s in the court of public opinion, at this point.

Joining me now is Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins. She is a member,
of course, of the Senate Intel Committee.

They questioned Director Comey publicly and privately today. And as we
were discussing, Senator, you got – your question got him to admit being a
leaker. Did you know that was coming?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE, SENATE INTEL COMMITTEE: I must admit that I
did not know. And that it came as a big surprise to me. In fact, I was
stunned at the revelation.

When I asked the question, I wondered whom the director had shown his memos
to.

TODD: Sure.

COLLINS: I did not expect him to admit that he had given them to a friend
of his, with the express purpose of having that friend leak it to the media
in order to prompt the appointment of a special counsel which it did.

TODD: Your just reaction to that. Appropriate?

COLLINS: The – I don`t think it was appropriate. I would argue that that
was a government-produced document. It was work document. And I think it
qualifies as a leak.

The irony is that the former director of the FBI has always been very
annoyed when there are leaks.

TODD: Right, of all people.

COLLINS: And then, it turns out that he leaked a document himself.

TODD: Do you believe Director Comey was forthcoming with you guys today?

COLLINS: I do. I believe that his testimony, which was under oath, was
candid. It was straightforward. It was quite thorough.

He answered the questions that he could answer. There were some that got
into the lane of the special counsel which he appropriately could not
answer.

TODD: You went behind closed doors. Obviously, there`s plenty you can`t
share because of that. I think we`re overclassifying as a whole other
topic of discussion. But did he satisfactorily answer questions there?
Did it get into the probe, itself?

COLLINS: He answered more questions in the private closed session. But
that was a very short session –

TODD: Why?

COLLINS: – compared to this morning`s. I`m not sure and, frankly, I
think we would benefit from having a longer session with Mr. Comey in
private.

TODD: A couple things. Since you now have the president`s personal lawyer
confirming some parts of Director Comey`s testimony, denying other parts,
including the direct quotes which are at issue here. Should Congress
subpoena if – should – do you want Congress – do you want to subpoena
the White House for supposed tapes, of they exist?

COLLINS: If the tapes exist, I believe the special counsel should have
them and our committee should have them. After all, there are two
different investigations with two different purposes.

Our investigation is a broad investigation –

TODD: Sure.

COLLINS: – into Russian attempts to influence the elections last fall in
the counterintelligence investigation.

TODD: Right. Do you – OK. But do you think it needs to be subpoenaed?
Do you think you`re going to have to issue a subpoena?

COLLINS: Well, I would hope that the White House would voluntarily turn
over any relevant documents or tapes. There`s a big issue as to whether
the tapes even exist or whether or not that was some sort of tweet that the
president put out for whatever purpose.

TODD: Do you think the president needs to clear this up?

COLLINS: Yes, I do. I think it`s important that it be cleared up.

TODD: Look, you`ve got a he said, he said here. You know, you`re going to
be put in the position of deciding who`s more credible, the former director
of the FBI or the president of the United States.

COLLINS: Well, it`s really going to be the special counsel`s job who will
have access to more witnesses than we do.

TODD: You don`t want to make that judgement?

COLLINS: And just looking at the criminal aspect of this. If you`re
talking about an obstruction of justice issue, that really is the job of
the special counsel. But I think it`s important for us to know the extent
of White House involvement or the Trump campaign involvement, and whether
or not there was any collusion with the Russians last fall, by any member
of president Trump`s circle.

TODD: I`ll admit, it is not clear to me whether or not Director Comey,
former Director Comey, confirmed whether there currently is now an
investigation to whether the president obstructed justice. Are you clear?
Is there an active investigation by the special counsel on whether the
president obstructed justice? Do you feel like you know this fact?

COLLINS: I believe that Mr. Comey confirmed that as of the date that he
was dismissed on May 9, there was no investigation of the president,
himself.

TODD: Right.

COLLINS: There may well be, there undoubtedly are investigations of people
in the president`s circle.

TODD: No, that I understand. But I`m talking about specifically the
president, himself, and the obstruction of justice issue. During the
testimony, he implied that the special counsel was investigating whether
this was obstruction of justice.

COLLINS: I think that wasn`t clear. I think he said that he really
couldn`t opine on that. And – but it`s something that one would expect
that he special counsel would look at all the evidence.

TODD: What unanswered question do you feel like still lingers out there
that really bothers you after this testimony today?

COLLINS: Well, we still don`t have an answer to the basic question of
whether or not members of president Trump`s campaign staff collaborated
with the Russians. It`s pretty clear that the Russians tried to influence
the election.

That`s not to say they changed votes. But it`s clear that they tried,
through a public information and disinformation campaign, the release of e-
mails, paid trolls, et cetera, to plant false stories to influence the
election.

What`s not clear and what we don`t know the answer to is the very important
question of whether or not any members of President Trump`s campaign were
involved in that effort.

TODD: All right, Senator Susan Collins. I`m going to leave it there. One
of your colleagues is – we`re about to get in here. So, thank you for
coming on.

COLLINS: Thank you. Chuck.

TODD: And I know it`s been a long day.

COLLINS: Thanks.

TODD: Nice to see you.

I want to quickly highlight another big moment today. Senator Dianne
Feinstein asking former Director Comey why he didn`t just tell the
president that asking about the Flynn investigation was wrong?

Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: You`re big. You`re strong. I know
the Oval Office and I know what happens to people when people walk in.
There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn`t you stop and
say, Mr. President, this is wrong, I cannot discuss this with you?

COMEY: That`s a great question. Maybe if were stronger, I would have. I
was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in. And the only
thing I could think to say – because I was playing in my mind – because I
could remember every word he said. I was playing in my mind, what should
my response be? And that`s why I very carefully chose the words.

And, look, I`ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes.
I remember saying, I agree he`s a good guy, as a way of saying, I`m not
agreeing with what you just asked me to do.

Again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance but that
was – that`s how I conducted myself. I hope I`ll never have another
opportunity. Maybe if I did it again, I would do it better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: California Democratic Dianne Feinstein joins me now. She, of
course, is also a member of Senate Intel Committee and a former chair of
the committee, and she`s a part of the Judiciary Committee which actually
also came up a lot today.

Senator, nice to see you.

FEINSTEIN: Nice to see you, Chuck.

TODD: All right, I`m going to begin with you where I ended with Senator
Collins. After all of this today, what`s unanswered from Director Comey?
Did he leave anything unanswered that you feel like still needs some
attention?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think what was unanswered was who can possibly replace
him? He has the strength – I`ve got to take this out.

TODD: That`s fine. We know. It`s echoey (ph) in here.

FEINSTEIN: He has the strength. He has the ability. I think he`s been a
very good FBI director. Obviously, we had a difference over the Hillary –

TODD: You weren`t happy with how he handled the Clinton e-mail.

FEINSTEIN: No. I – that`s right. And I told him so.

But as I listened to him today and I saw his credibility and I saw what he
went through. I thought, what a tragedy that this has happened.

TODD: I want to ask another – do you – are you left with the impression
– because there`s some confusion here. Is the president currently under
investigation for obstruction of justice by the special counsel? Director
Comey seemed to imply it. One of your colleagues, Senator Graham, said
there`s no way Comey would be testifying if – that special counsel, Robert
Mueller, would even let him testify if that was the case.

FEINSTEIN: Well, I can`t answer the question because I don`t know. But
when Bob Mueller begins to take over the investigation, I think those
decisions will be made. I don`t think any decision has been made.

TODD: There was – I feel like today was a bad day for the Justice
Department. It`s a bad day whether you were Loretta Lynch, the Obama
Justice Department, the Trump Justice Department with Attorney General
Sessions.

If I`m the average citizen watching today, I had the former director of the
FBI essentially tell me, Obama`s Justice Department got politicized.
Trump`s Justice Department`s been politicized.

And that tells me the Justice Department`s politicized. A bipartisan – a
bipartisan way over the last year. How do you recover from this?

FEINSTEIN: I don`t think the Justice Department is politicized.

TODD: I – OK. But the perception is that it is. Director Comey seemed
to imply it. He implied it with Loretta Lynch that he was concerned. He
implied it with Jeff Sessions.

FEINSTEIN: Well, if that`s what you mean by politicized, –

TODD: In the implication.

FEINSTEIN: The Justice Department has to be independent from the White
House. There`s no question about that. There by, they`re independent from
us. They follow the law independently.

And that`s the way it should be. And I think with Director Comey, as he
was testifying, what I saw was the inordinate loss this was. This is a man
that`s only been director for, I guess, slightly less than four years. And
it`s not true that the department`s in a mess. It`s not true that he`s a
bad manager. He`s a good manager. And his people respect him and they
work for him.

And so, this, I think, is very hard on the department. I thought did he a
very fine job today without a note. He spoke from the heart. He spoke
what he believed was the truth. And I don`t think you can ask for anything
more from a witness.

TODD: Is it necessary, considering we have a he said, he said with the
president`s lawyer and Mr. Comey, at this point, about which quotes are
accurate that the president`s lawyer is embracing and some quotes that
Director Comey attributed to the president that they are denying. Is it
time for Congress to issue a subpoena to the White House that says, if
there are tapes, send them over.

FEINSTEIN: I was thinking that as you asked the question. Yes.

TODD: Will you issue – do you think you can issue a blanket subpoena that
would do that?

FEINSTEIN: I don`t know. I will find out.

TODD: Is that something you work with the Judiciary Committee? Is it
something on intel? Whose jurisdiction should worry about this?

FEINSTEIN: Well, the hearing is being done by intel now, so I`d like to
talk to the chairman and the ranking member and I will do that. There may
be some activity in the Judiciary Committee on this. And so, that may be
appropriate.

So, I need a couple of days to find out. I need a little bit of time for
the questions and answers to sink in. But I think, for me, it`s pretty
clear that there was an attempt, by the president, to manipulate the
director of the FBI. And to lift that cloud which is the Russian
investigation.

The Russian investigation is going to go on. And it`s not going to stop.
And the president should have known that. And the president should have
known –

TODD: Do you think it`s a fair explanation that he`s just not – doesn`t
understand the ways with which Washington does business? Is that a good
excuse?

FEINSTEIN: Well, this isn`t the ways Washington does business as much as
you kick out the FBI director`s boss from the meeting, the attorney
general, and you have – you meet with him alone. And you ask him some
things you shouldn`t ask him.

And I think we all know what we can ask and not ask. That he`s entitled to
function independently. And once that independence is in question, it`s
highly problematic.

TODD: Can you confirm any FBI director that the president nominates,
considering what you heard today?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I`ll tell you what. If this new nominee is not going to
show a semblance of independence from the Oval Office, I won`t vote for
him. Because we`re not going to have a situation where by the president
controls the Justice Department.

TODD: All right. Senator Feinstein, I`ve got to leave it there.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

TODD: It`s busy. Good to see you.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you. Good to see you.

TODD: Thanks for coming on. I know it`s a long day.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

TODD: We`re breaking down the key points of Comey`s testimony with our
all-star panel. That`s just ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BURR: Do you have any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016
elections?

COMEY: None.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back.

As we said at the top of the show today, we saw President Trump on trial as
well as James Comey. But we notice another case being laid out to some –
by some senators today. The case against us, the media.

It happened again and again. Sometimes more subtly than others. And
mostly from Republican members of the committee. Here are Republican
Senators James Risch and Tom Cotton on a February story from “The New York
Times.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: That report by “The New York Times” was not
true. Is that a fair statement?

COMEY: Yes, in the main, it was not true.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Would it be fair to characterize that story
as almost entirely wrong?

COMEY: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: But it was this almost Trumpian exchange with Republican Senator
James Lankford of Oklahoma that really caught my ear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: You had mentioned before about some
news stories and news accounts. But without having to go into all the
names and the specific times and to be able to dip into all that, have
there been news accounts about the Russia investigation, about collusion,
about this whole event or accusations? That as you read the story, you
were stunned about how wrong they got the facts.

COMEY: Yes. There have been many, many stories reportedly based on
classified information about lots of stuff but especially about Russia that
are just dead wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Ah, the broad brush. In fact, the RNC is already pushing that
exchange out on YouTube. Folks, I get it. I`m not that surprised.
President Trump already named the press the enemy of the American people.

But the Russia investigation is already damaging the credibility of the
White House. The Justice Department and the FBI. And, it seems, some on
Capitol Hill want to make sure that the media goes down with everybody.

There you go. Nothing like the broad-brush attacks. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back.

It`s panel time. Tonight`s panel is Amy Walter, National Editor of “The
Cook Political Report,” Matthew Continetti, Editor-In-Chief of “The
Washington Free Beacon,” and my colleague, Chris Matthews, of course is
Host of “HARDBALL” on MSNBC. Welcome, all.

Chris, don`t take offense but I`m going to go with Amy first. I think
people we refer on this on. So, Amy, what did you hear today that makes
you think this investigation is somehow going to get better for the
president or worse for the president?

AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, “THE COOK NATIONAL REPORT”: Yes, Chuck, I
think that if you went into this thinking you were going to find a
bombshell, you didn`t get it or a smoking gun, that didn`t come out of it
either.

But depending on where you sit on the political spectrum, there was
something for you to like. If you really dislike the president, you think
that there`s something more there. What you had from Comey suggesting that
he couldn`t tell you for 100 percent certainty that there was no collusion.

That he believes that he took it as a, quote, “direction” that the
president wanted him to drop the Flynn investigation. That he couldn`t
trust the president. He had to write things down. That would make you
feel better.

If you are supportive of the president, think that there`s more smoke here,
no fire, no smoking gun, you didn`t get any of those from Comey. He said
there was no indication that the president was trying to stop a broader
Russian investigation in – with his – with his comments.

That the president, of course, wasn`t officially under investigation. And
that Comey went and actually leaked information himself through an
intermediary to “The New York Times.”

So, it gave everybody a little bit of something. I think what we`re going
to see at the end of this, everybody goes into their partisan corners.
They find what they like out of the – out of the testimony and we go
forward.

And, once again, it`s really in the court of Bob Mueller. His decision.
And if it ends anywhere, we will have an answer. But I have this feeling
it`s going to take long time before we get anything definitive from him.

TODD: Chris Matthews, was he a good witness? And you know what I mean by
that. Was he –

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, “HARDBALL”: Yes.

TODD: – was he a compelling witness? Was he a forthright witness? What
did you make of him?

MATTHEWS: Well, I think he`s great. I think he has a Jimmy Steward
quality. I mean, nobody is perfect. But, first of all, he`s under oath
and he knew it. And he was a very prepared witness. I thought the written
testimony was fabulous. It was colorful. It was evocative. The scene in
the Green Room of the state floor of the White House was very powerful.

He talked with great even giant detail about things like the grandfather
clock door of the Oval Office. So, you got to – and he talked about who
was waiting on the other side of the door. You got a very clear, hard-to-
deny picture of truth.

Now, no picture is total but I did think he was awful tough to take on in
facts. In fact, I`m not even sure that the lawyer, Mark Kasowitz, came
along and actually challenged him that much on fact. He just, sort of,
threw stuff at him, as you would – for $1,500 an hour, you better throw
something at somebody.

But I thought the day that ended with the president of the United States
having to bring in a very expensive lawyer to defend him at $1,500 an hour,
it`s not a good day for the president of the United States when you`re
there standing, basically, as a defendant with a criminal lawyer –

TODD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: – standing there helping you. That does not look good.

His own team wasn`t there. The White House counsel wasn`t there. The
White House press people weren`t there. Nobody in the cabinet was there to
defend him.

It was him alone as private citizen defendant. And that, to me, is a
brutal day for a president of the United States. Worse than Nixon, in a
way. Nixon at least was –

TODD: Ouch.

MATTHEWS: – defending a presidency. This guy was defending himself, as
an individual. Remember the cloud over the presidency? Nixon had a cancer

TODD: Yes.

MATTHEWS: – in the presidency.

It was institutionally different. It was about a guy who –

TODD: Sure.

MATTHEWS: – became president but isn`t really president in the sense of
having an institution around him the way that even Nixon did.

TODD: You know, Matthew Continetti, you were – you came away with
basically saying, well, it is going to be a – if the president is
impeached someday, it will be a tweet that undid him. And you specifically
I.D.ed (ph) a specific tweet in your column today. Walk me through it.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, “THE WASHINGTON FREE BEACON”: Well,
sure. I mean, if you – according to Jim Comey`s testimony, he was fired
by the president. He was kind of stunned he – in shock. He didn`t know
what to do.

And then, of course, the Friday following the firing, President Trump had
that Twitter rant where he said, with the tapes, using the quotation marks,
you know, Comey better watch out because if there are tapes of the – our
conversations. And Comey told the Senate today that it was that tweet that
put in his mind the idea of getting the memos out there into the public.

And that`s where this whole issue of him directing his friend, the Columbia
law professor, to leak the contents of the memo to “The New York Times” in
the express desire, Comey says this in front of the Senate, in front of the
world, –

TODD: Yes.

CONTINETTI: – to launch a special counsel. And put it in the special
counsel realm, the independent investigation.

And so, when I – I`m watching this testimony, I`m seeing Jim Comey, a very
skilled lawyer and prosecutor, lay bread crumbs for Robert Mueller to
basically walk Director Mueller up to saying that the president of the
United States may have obstructed justice in his handling of the Mike Flynn
false statements investigation.

TODD: Amy, there is a Shakespearean quality, all this, that, A, it would
be a tweet that would take hi down. And everybody`s been criticizing him
for his tweets.

But, B, in his – in his obsession with trying to get Comey to say,
publicly, that he was not a target of the investigation, his obsession with
trying to get Comey to say that has now led to him being investigated for
something else. In this case, obstruction of justice, we think.

By the way, that is bothering me today. We don`t know. It was implied by
Comey that maybe, yes, the president is now under investigation.

WALTER: Right.

TODD: But nobody`s confirmed that.

WALTER: No. And nobody outside of Mueller can confirm that. So, we`re
still, as I said in the beginning, sort of, back to where we started.

This is just – it seems to me, the reality here in this White House, which
is how many of the problems the president is dealing with come right back
to his own behavior, whether it`s Twitter, whether it`s the interview he
had with Lester Holt, where he admitted that he –

TODD: Yes.

WALTER: – fired him because of the Russia investigation.

This is all self-inflicted. We haven`t even had an outside crisis. A
crisis that is not from within. And I think that is going to be the next
thing to watch for.

TODD: We have a real crisis. I would argue we have a crisis in the Middle
East right now with what`s going on in the Arabian peninsula. And that`s a
crisis that may have been caused, may have been inspired by the president
and another tweet that may have been caused problems. Chris Matthews, today
was a bad day for Loretta Lynch and Jeff Sessions.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, TALK SHOW HOST, AND AUTHOR: Yeah.

TODD: I have to say, as a private citizen, I could watch this testimony and
come away with, gee, is any Justice Department independent anymore?

MATTHEWS: Well, yeah. I think they`re collateral damage. I just want to get
by to what Amy just said, it`s so true. You know, we have dipped into the
water here of a stream, as they say in law. This is going biased. This is
Trump`s behavior, his persona. And no, I don`t think he is impeachable yet
or anything like that. We`re way ahead of all that.

But his behavior is inevitably going to lead to a problem in the
constitution. He doesn`t accept the fact that we have a government based on
limited law, limited power. That`s what we have in this country, limited
government. Everyone is limited. Senators have a limited number of amount
of authority. Justices do. Cabinet members do. Presidents do.

He doesn`t seem to – he is trying to shape the United States government
and our system of government to him. He is trying to make it so he can be
CEO again and everyone will be one of his puppets. If he can`t overcome
that tendency, inevitably he will challenge the constitution because he
seems like he wants to fit it to him.

And the way to have this meeting with the FBI director and chasing away the
vice president and the chief of staff and his own son-in-law just so he can
get this guy alone and get him to agree to drop a case. By the way, when he
went to Lavrov and Kislyak, he said I want to drop the whole Russian thing,
not just the Flynn case.

TODD: Yup.

MATTHEWS: So he gave – you just said a few minutes ago, he is doing it to
himself and if he keeps behaving like this, he will ultimately do it to
himself.

TODD: Chris, you will appreciate. I got a producer named John in my ears
saying I have to go to break. I think you know that feeling as much as I
do.

MATTHEWS: I know it well.

TODD: So, Amy, Matthew, Chris, you guys are sticking around. Up ahead, the
legal questions that were raised today including by the president`s lawyer.
We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Up next, could James Comey have put himself in hot water over his
leaked memos? We`re actually going to take a closer look at some new legal
questions some are asking after today`s testimony. Keep it right here.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

JOE MANCHIN, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM WEST VIRGINIA: Do you believe you
would have been fired if Hillary Clinton would have been president?

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF FBI: That`s a great question. I don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back. We`ve got lots of legal questions, technical on that
front, after former FBI director James Comey`s testimony today including
did Comey have the legal authority to leak his own memos to a friend who
then leaked the contents to a reporter? President Trump`s attorney wondered
that himself.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

MARC KASOWITZ, CORPORATE ATTORNEY AND LEGAL FIXER FOR DONALD TRUMP: Mr.
Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers. Today, Mr. Comey
admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized
disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: But the White House specifically did say President Trump would not
assert executive privilege for the hearing. That`s not all. Is the
president under investigation right now? Could he be forced to testify and
does Comey`s testimony today make a case of obstruction of justice against
the president?

I`m not a lawyer and I`m not going to play one on T.V. But to talk about
all this, I want to bring in a lawyer who actually knows what he`s talking
about. Stewart Baker, a former general counsel at the NSA and a former DHS
assistant secretary for policy. Mr. Baker, thank you for coming on, sir.

STEWART BAKER, FORMER NSA GENERAL COUNSEL, FORMER DHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY
FOR POLICY: It`s great to be here.

TODD: Let me start with the allegation the president`s personal attorney
made. He sort of threw it out there. He didn`t directly make the allegation
but implied maybe the leak was illegal. So let me start with this. Director
Comey`s memos, whose property are they?

BAKER: They are actually, according to the FBI`s guidance, if you created
it as part of your job as an FBI employee, that is FBI information and the
memos belong to the FBI. There is an argument that he should have gone
through pre-publication review, he shouldn`t have released them, not clear
that that makes it a crime, but it could well be improper as well as being
a bad idea.

TODD: I want to ask you about that, like, what – walk me through it. Since
you had been at NSA, I assume you know this as well as anybody, which is
this. Is it always a crime to leak if you`re leaking from the FBI or NSA?
When is it – what is the line of criminal, when it becomes a crime to
leak?

BAKER: So, it is a crime to leak classified information. And Jim Comey said
that he wrote these memos so they didn`t have classified information so
that he could share them. So it is pretty clearly not going to be the kind
of crime that is usually associated with leaks from the FBI or from the
NSA. It could also be a crime of obstruction of justice or other activity
if you leak an information about an ongoing criminal investigation from the
FBI.

I don`t see that in this either. So it is probably if there is a legal
violation here, it is either a violation of the requirement that you
undergo pre-publication review for disclosure of FBI information or perhaps
a privacy act violation in the sense that the director was releasing
private information in an FBI file about the president.

TODD: All right. Let me ask you about the other big, I would say it is a
debatable issue here which is, did the former director today confirm that
there is an obstruction of justice investigation that`s been opened by the
special counsel into the president or not? He let it open that there was –
what is your understanding? What did you hear when you were listening to
that part of the testimony?

BAKER: I thought he was trying not to say anything on that. Part of it is
he doesn`t know anymore what the state of the investigation is. He has got
a lot of confidence in Bob Mueller and he expects Bob Mueller to look at
this very carefully. And I think he probably does not want to crowd Mueller
in either direction.

TODD: Well, let me ask you one specific issue. Senator Lindsey Graham has
said to reporters today that he believed if Bob Mueller were actually
pursuing an obstruction of justice case against the president, then he
would not have allowed James Comey to testify in public. Do you concur with
that?

BAKER: I am not so sure that is the case. At the end of the day, if there
is an obstruction of justice case to be made here, the investigation is
probably five minutes long and the thing he got by whether to bring a case
is months of thinking because the facts are pretty straightforward. It is a
conversation. Maybe two.

And whether that is obstruction of justice is more a judgment of what one
should do in these circumstances with the president of this kind making
statements that are ambiguous at least. And in the absence of something
more than that, I would be surprised if Mueller decides that this is
something that ought to be prosecuted.

TODD: All right. Stewart Baker, I`m going to leave it there. I appreciate
you clearing up those two things for me. I have a lot more, but I don`t
have enough time. Thank you for coming in, sir, appreciate it.

BAKER: Thank you.

TODD: We`ll be right back. We got a lot more from Capitol Hill including
the panel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: It`s obsession time. Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed over the
fact that I don`t have a lot of time to tell you what I`m obsessed about.
But I have a topic, which is what we saw today, with the too many things
that are classified. In fact, my obsession over classifying information has
been declared classified at least for today. Maybe tomorrow it will be
unclassified and I`ll get to it then. Actually I will. We`ll be back in a
moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back. There were a lot of things that James Comey could not
answer today because the answers apparently would get in the way of the
investigation. We gathered more than 15 different questions he answered
that way. He said he couldn`t comment whether the FBI confirmed the
allegations contained in that salacious dossier nor whether the dossier was
currently being investigated on.

And Comey said some, quote, nonsense is what influenced him to hold that
news conference on Clinton`s personal e-mail server. But what made it
nonsense? He couldn`t say. He couldn`t answer why he knew Attorney General
Sessions would eventually recuse himself in the Russia investigation two
weeks before he did. And he couldn`t say if he knew about contact between
the Trump campaign and Russia.

That brings us to “The Lid.” Amy, Matthew, Chris. Matthew, let me start
with you. Trump supporters today, I think they feel as if they have enough
fuel to sort of make themselves feel better. What about that next ring of
the Republican Party, Matthew?

They`re not never Trumpers. They`re Trump skeptics. Frankly, I would count
– I would say probably 80 percent of the Republican conference in the U.S.
senate, for instance. Did Trump help himself today or hurt himself today
with that group of Republicans?

MATTHEW CONTINETTI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF THE WASHINGTON FREE BEACON,
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR TO THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think that group of
Republicans is worried, Chuck. I think the president clearly is in a legal
fight now having his personal attorney out there answering questions about
what`s happening and Director Comey`s testimony.

But there is also the political question to think about. We have a special
election in Georgia coming up very soon. If the Democrats win that seat,
Tom Price`s former seat, I think it will send another shock wave through
the political system and worry a lot of those Republicans you`re talking
about. Then two, remember on the legislative schedule, we have health care.

And the senate is still working on health care. And they have a very short
window. Basically this summer in order to get a health care bill. And the
sense on Capitol Hill is if you don`t get the health care bill passed, then
Trump`s legislative agenda is also seriously in jeopardy. So I think there
is a lot of worry on Capitol Hill.

One note about Comey`s refusal to answer. Remember, that`s exactly what
made President Trump so frustrated with him in the first place, because
President Trump has kept asking him, why can`t you tell people that I`m not
under investigation? And when he didn`t do that in live testimony, I think
that may have actually sealed Comey`s fate in terms of his employment. And
it turns out that at that time President Trump was not under investigation.

TODD: You know, Amy, I feel like what got lost today is this was not a
hearing about the Russia investigation. This was the hearing about the
motive, the president`s motive behind the firing of James Comey. Is the
Russia investigation getting lost here?

WALTER: No, I don`t think so. I think just to go back to Matthew`s point,
if there is wobbliness among Republicans, I sure didn`t see it today in the
questioning. Most of the Republican senators who questioned Comey were
looking to provide some cover for the president right now. You don`t see
rank and file voters or members abandoning this president.

He still has approval ratings up in the high 80s. There is talk about a
bill that may get out soon on the senate side to be voted on. Who knows
it`s going to pass or not. So, I don`t think there is going to be any sort
of abandonment of this president either by voters or by members of
congress.

But the way that I look at this Russia investigation now, Chuck, is I don`t
know if you played these games when you were a kid, but where you have a
whole bunch of tiles and underneath the tiles is a picture, right?

You have to put – as you flip over each tile, you get a sense of maybe
what that picture is. But until you flip all of them over, you have no idea
what it is because maybe it`s a finger, maybe it`s part of a dog, you don`t
know, right?

TODD: Yeah.

WALKER: Until you get all of them. So, what we`re all doing every day on
this Russia investigation is putting over one other tile, putting over
another tile here, and then expecting it to make sense. And, of course,
your partisan lens is going to tell you what you think that picture is.

TODD: Chris, what`s the next six months look like? I mean, you know,
Matthew outlined, I would argue the next six weeks we`ll find out whether
the president has a shot at having a legislative agenda or not. If health
care passes the senate, maybe that opens the door for other. If not, it`s
probably hopelessly gridlock. But what does the next six months look like
with this cloud that`s going nowhere?

MATTHEWS: Well, the history books are getting written already in terms of
what happened and that is that moving forward, you have the fact that this
hearing today was really about why was Comey fired. He was fired because of
the Russia investigation. It was pretty clear. No one on the Republican
side, no one really challenged that was really the reason we`re talking
about.

Moving forward, everybody seems to think that there will be a collaboration
between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the special counsel, Mr.
Mueller, to go after this thing. And they`re going to keep going. It looks
like Mueller is gearing up, staffing up, bringing the best lawyers he can
find from all the departments. This is a major all-star effort by Mueller.

And it`s like that shot last night by Kevin Durant. He said at 45 seconds,
I spent my whole life getting ready for this shot. And I think that`s true
of Mueller. I think that`s true of today`s testimony by Comey. This is like
the big thing of their lives, these guys. And I think they`re going to try
to get pay dirt here and try to prove that they`re after something that`s
there. And I think this is going to be serious on Mueller`s part.

TODD: All right. Before midnight tonight, very quickly, all three of you,
will the president be tweeting at some form – something about the Comey
hearings tonight? Quickly. Do you think yes or no? Amy?

WALTER: No, I think he waits until the morning, he`ll watch the shows.

TODD: Matthew?

CONTINETTI: No, I don`t think he`s going to tweet about it.

TODD: All right. Chris?

MATTHEWS: He won`t be because he`s paid $1500 an hour not to have to tweet.

TODD: Wow.

MATTHEWS: I think he paid the lawyer to do the work.

TODD: Everybody betting on discipline. Everybody is betting on discipline.
We will bring you back and tell you how wrong you guys probably all are in
48 hours. All right. Thank you all. After the break, James Comey did shed
light on a comment from the president that we all missed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TODD: Welcome back. In case you missed it, in a day with anticipation,
former FBI director James Comey finally revealed the answer to a question
millions have been asking. At issue was something that President Trump told
him in confidence. It involves a moment that has been shrouded in mystery
from the moment it occurred. It happened at a White House meeting and not
just any White House meeting, but one that has been the subject of endless
speculation.

The day, January 22nd, two days after President Trump`s inauguration. The
place, the White House blue room. The agenda, a reception for law
enforcement. We don`t know if there are tapes of President Trump`s private
conversations with Comey as Mr. Trump has suggested. We do have videotape
of this event. Let`s roll.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, and there`s James. He`s
become more famous than me.

(LAUGHTER)

COMEY: Director Comey.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Yes, we all heard the new president say of Comey, he`s more famous –
become more famous than me, but what did he say after that? What did the
president whisper in his FBI director`s ear? Well, finally today we know.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: You`ve seen the picture of me walking across the blue room and what
the president whispered in my ear was, I really look forward to working
with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: There you have it. Just two and a half months later, President Trump
no longer look forward to working with James Comey and of course fired him.
You have been staying tuned for what happened next. Anyway, that is all for
tonight. “For the Record” with Greta starts right now. All yours, Greta.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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