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Fired FBI Director Making Those Charges In His Blockbuster Senate Testimony; Theresa May In The Battle Of Her Political Life. Aired 11:00-12:00mn ET
Aired June 8, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:22] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Our breaking news. James Comey again and again accusing the President of lying.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon in Washington.
The fired FBI director making those charges in his blockbuster Senate testimony today. And that is stunning enough but there is much to tell you about behind closed doors. Comey told senators that attorney general Jeff Sessions may have had a third undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador. Senators are sure to have questions about that when Sessions takes his stand next week.
Plus, we are learning President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner will meet with Senate Intel committee staff possible this month.
And first on CNN, investigators in the House now digging through batch of brand new documents from fired national security advisor Michael Flynn.
And meanwhile, with upset votes around the world one of President Trump's allies fighting for her political life tonight.
We are going to have the very latest from the UK on that.
And I want you to talk a look at this. Look your screen right now. This is the front page of tomorrow's "New York Times." The headline, Trump tried to sink inquiry, Comey says.
Let's discuss now. CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston is here. Political commentators David Swerdlick and Mike Shields. Neera Tanden, the former policy director for Hillary Clinton. Former U.S. attorney Matthew Whitaker and John Flannery, a former federal prosecutor for the southern district of New York.
Good evening to all of you.
Mark, what's your reaction to the headline?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Not surprising in many ways and very accurate. You know, I think when we look back on this day though talking about the previous hour. I believe that this was a very bad day for the President. Also it could have been a really, really terrible day for the President and he will live to see another day.
But again, let's just look at what happened today as one piece of a very complicated investigation that is going to take a long time to resolve.
LEMON: Neera, your response to that headline?
NEERA TANDEN, FORMER POLICY DIRECTOR FOR HILLARY CLINTON: I think it's accurate. I mean, I think you have the FBI director say in not so many words that the President was he felt was trying to impede, obstruct, whatever the right legal term is, an investigation into his administration and that it looks like he is under investigation now for obstruction.
LEMON: Do you believe that Matthew?
MATTHEW WHITAKER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I don't. I think that is happening is we are conflating for the lawyers and the prosecutors and the FBI and what they do with politics and they gets really dangerous. And so, what we hear is do Comey believes the President asked him to stop the investigation, again of Michael Flynn. But that hasn't happen. It didn't happen. And it continues to go on as we sit here today.
So whether or not, what James Comey believed he heard, but it also matter what the intent of the President was. And he had all the power in the constitution to actually tell him to stop and he didn't.
TANDEN: Attempted criminal action is also criminal action says the law, so.
WHITAKER: It is. But listen. To use the word James Comey from a while ago no reasonable prosecutor would bring this case.
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: As a reason able prosecutor or a man on the street, here you have a man who is told repeatedly first, I want you to protect Flynn the day after he has fired. He is a good man. Then he gets broader than that. You know, this is crowd over me are you going to take care of it. And then when Flynn testifies before for the Senate it is clear that he is not including or excluding anyone from the investigation. He is revisiting the fact there was no tape in the Trump tower and he does nothing of what the President would hope he would be loyal to do. So he is fired.
But the beauty of this firing is he first fires him over the story that he is concerned about Hillary Clinton and then he punctures his own false story by saying it is really about the investigation which suggests we should look back at how Yates got fired. Because she got fired they said because of the Muslim ban, but we didn't know at the time that she had come to the White House and called Flynn dirty for what he said to the FBI and what he had said in connection with his meeting with the ambassador about the sanctions imposed by Obama. That's a pattern of conduct.
LEMON: David, is all of this going to come down to, I hope you can let this go, you think? Was that the take away of the day, I hope you can let this go. Whether you think he was just hoping or yes, he was trying to obstruct.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As a legal matter, Don, I think yes. The ball moved a little bit forward on the legal case of whether or not the President committed obstruction of justice. But on the political side of things, I think this just cements the President further in place of where he is right now. His gallop daily approval rating is at 37 percent. It is not that much lower than where he has been. He started at 45 on inauguration day. But his ability to get anything done in Washington, his ability to grab hold of bigger share of the electorate is just with each passing day. And today was a bigger day, it is more and more improbable that he is going to move off of where he is.
[23:05:17] LEMON: Mike Shields, were Democrats and Republicans watching the same hearing today, the same testimony? Because it appears that they weren't.
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's a good question. I was thinking of what the American people are seeing. And seeing from the media today and from that "New York Times" head line. And I think what they are seeing is a media that is desperate to try to find some kind of obstruction that was not proven in the hearing today.
I mean, the President of the United States was told on three occasions, you are not under investigation. The fact that Comey even testified probably means that Mueller doesn't think he was a witness to any crime. And so, what we have seen today is the President is not under investigation. There is no evidence of anything illegal even though there are dozens of people are looking for it. And yet for hours now on television in the "New York Times" tomorrow, we are continuing to say, well, maybe this could be obstruction of justice or maybe you could find it or maybe you can find it.
SWERDLICK: You are completely right that a crime was not proved today. But if director Comey's version of events is the true version of events, then there is a suggestion -.
SWERDLICK: Whether or not a crime was committed if Comey's version of events is right, that means the President did nudge him to put the brakes on.
LEMON: By the way, I just have four very smart legal minds. Two of them were who were involved in Watergate. And we also brought up something a legal opinion that talks about obstruction of justice and uses the word hope, I hope and play pray to God that you did not say anything about a weapon and on and on and on. And they said that they would times 20 what happened in the oval office.
PRESTON: Look. I think it's very, very important to have this discussion quite frankly and take a step back. What Matthew said about the difference between politics and the legality of it, that's absolutely right. There are two roads that we need to look at right now to see where we go forward on this.
The idea, though, where I will disagree with Mike, and I don't disagree with you very often, is that the bottom line is the media is not out to get Donald Trump on this. He has created every situation that is has been negative towards him himself. And this is from -
PRESTON: Many Republican operatives, many of them friends of yours, said that to me today, a level of frustration with in your own party right now because his agenda is now been side tracked. He is consumed by this. He now has the whole nation quite frankly the whole world consumed by this right now and it's all because of his own doing. And that in itself is an issue.
LEMON: Go ahead.
SHIELDS: So earlier on CNN there was an interview with a woman who was asked, did you think Comey lied? She said no. She said they ask, do you think Trump lied? She said no. And they say, well, how are those two things not in conflict? She said I just think the media distorts things. And when what is frustrating to me is the lack of self-reflection upon the media that we got to a point where that's where millions of Americans believe that we are. And we are watching it happen again.
We saw a hearing where there was nothing proved and yet we are spending hours trying searching somehow so that we can find something.
SHIELDS: That's what people believe the media is out to get him because we are doing hours --.
PRESTON: It is perpetuated by the lies and I hate to say this, by the person on occasion where he uses divisiveness to try to rally support for himself.
SHIELDS: Right. It was the President's fault that the public doesn't trust the media.
TANDEN: No. It is the President's fault that he lied.
LEMON: It's always the media's fault. And once we get -- I wish we had prosecutorial powers considering, you know, as much power as you give us. Hold on. The media didn't testify today. It was James Comey who testified.
PRESTON: That's right. LEMON: The media did not call the former FBI director into the oval
office alone. The media did not invite the FBI director to dinner alone. The media did not say I hope you can let this go. It was, according to James Comey, the President of the United States. The media did not tweet out that James Comey is a show-boater and all of that. That was the President of the United States.
PRESTON: Let me say this, the media didn't invite Russian officials into the oval office and then say negative things about James Comey. Notes that --.
SHIELDS: The media's made no mistakes. The media's got everything correct. You guys are all completely correct.
LEMON: We're not saying that. Nobody is perfect. No entity is perfect. And when the media gets something wrong generally the media will apologize or correct it.
[23:10:00] TANDEN: I'm sorry, this is just transparent to blame the media instead of acknowledging that the President --.
LEMON: But hang on. Hold on. Let me push back and ask you. Hold on. Let me ask a question. If you say the media has culpability in here, does the President culpability? Is he had at fault for any of this?
SHIELDS: I mean, of course. The President is the President of the United States. He has said to Mr. Comey I hope that this is investigated. If there are some satellite people that are involved and something I want them to be brought to justice. Comey himself said that. So of course the President takes responsibility for these things for what we have seen.
My point is you are going to talk for hours on ends about the President's part of this. That's been well covered tonight on many, many, many levels, right. I'm asking is there any responsibility the media can ever admit for the lack of faith the American people have in you that when they watch something like this today, they can say that no, the President didn't lie and Comey didn't lie. I think the media has screwed this up.
LEMON: Just because one --.
PRESTON: It doesn't mean the woman who is a Trump supporter is right because she is critical of the media.
SHIELDS: True. But is there any self - where is the self-reflection the media is part to actually admit, you know what, maybe we need to take a step back here. Millions of Americans are --.
PRESTON: And do what? And not report the administration?
TANDEN: This is so ridiculous.
SHIELDS: -- one thing. When you get to the point where people think that you are only out to get the administration, only out to catch where you are constantly trying to final obstruction of justice where it didn't, exist then you need to live with the consequences of what the American people are going to say.
SWERDLICK: Coming from a newspaper, we have -- the "Washington Post" have reported, not me, the "Washington Post" has reported, story after story, "New York Times," story after story, CNN, story after story, nine out of ten times when the administration pushes back on those stories they don't say x-fact in the story was wrong or we dispute this version - wait. Let me finish. They say fake news. And they say, they are out to get me. To Mark's, point all we can do is report and comment.
SHIELDS: OK. Here is an example. How many times have your publication printed a story that's talked about a White House shake.
LEMON: The media is not part of the testimony today.
TANDEN: This is transparent intend to move off --.
LEMON: Should move off the topic - yes.
TANDEN: First of all, 55 to 60 percent of the public so you are not speaking for the public. You are speaking for a minority of the public. The majority of the country believes that the President did something wrong here. And you know, the President - majority of the country thinks the President is dishonest regularly. Why does they think that? Because the President has ben said two things about the same thing, multiple times.
But you can make try to make this. I know it's the White House strategy to attack the media. So I'm glad you are using their talking points to attack the media. But the reality here is you have the FBI director who was fired by the President who said one reason, and then another reason 24 hours later for it, and the reason he said at the time was because of the Russian investigation and the FBI director confirmed that today, former FBI director excuse me, who is now informed us that a special prosecutor appointed by the President's DOJ, not Democrats, the President's DOJ, as a special prosecutor investigating it.
So you can make it about some side issue, at the end of the day the question is has the President obstructed justice and we have a special prosecutor to find out.
LEMON: I need everybody to standby. But I have to say this before we go to break. Projection is not just something about Panasonic or Kodak because I think that the White House and many who are supporters of the White House are projecting upon the media something that the White House should be able to do themselves. And that is some self- reflection as well.
We will continue our conversation when we come back.
[23:17:26] LEMON: Extraordinary testimony today from the fired FBI director James Comey repeatedly calling President Trump a liar.
Back with me now my panel. (INAUDIBLE). That's an interesting conversation.
Let's move on now because, John, Comey called out the President repeatedly for lying and this is how the deputy secretary responded. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY SECRETARY: No. I can definitely say the President is not a liar and I think it is frankly insulting that question should be asked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The fact that she has to utter those words is that's astonishing, don't you think?
FLANNERY: Yes. They should back to Watergate. He is not a liar nor a crook.
LEMON: But it didn't come out of his mouth because Nixon actually said I'm not a perpetrator.
FLANNERY: He actually said it. That was much better. But this isn't a lot better. And I also think that as a federal prosecutor I always thought, especially in corruption cases, you don't catch the geniuses. And this President has been self-inflicting wounds from time to time that would make any prosecutors drool at the possibility of actually questioning him under oath. And I don't know why the hill hasn't invited him yet. It had happened before. The President has testified under oath on the hill a long time before.
LEMON: What is interesting is what we were talking about, and this is - it doesn't have to do exclusively with the media but not covering the President's policies or the President's elect policies or the candidate's policies instead of talking about his sort of antics, this is really about policy. This is about serious stuff.
FLANNERY: Yes it is.
LEMON: This is about law.
FLANNERY: It's a triage of anything he does. And at the top of it which destroys any respect for the government and for the law is a lawless chief executive and we have that. And day by day, we see it. We have - and you know better than I -- is covering it every day. We have so many events that people are overcome by a distaste of a government that lacks respect worldwide and can't be trusted here and even his own staff from day to day doesn't know what the President he is going to say or do on the subject and he reverses himself. So that's a pretty serious problem.
And the story about him attaching Comey - I mean, he invited Comey and said well, don't you dare leak anything because I got to taste the contradict you. Well, I think the other thing that the hill should be asking for is let's see the tapes. Give them to us. Let's play them.
WHITAKER: And that was an extraordinary time what James Comey testified about, that the reason that he wanted to share his version of the facts, and the contents of his memos was because the President had tweeted about tapes which seemed backwards to me. It would seem that you would -- I don't know why -- if a true record of your conversation existed why would you need to get your version?
[23:20:05] TANDEN: Because he didn't believe he was telling the truth about the tapes. But it could be that he could have been think something --.
WHITAKER: If the President didn't say that --.
FLANNERY: He said he would take them. You better watch out what you say.
TANDEN: I mean, I think another is --.
LEMON: By the way remember, he said I hope in that tweet.
FLANNERY: Right. He has a lot of hope.
LEMON: You better hope there's no tapes of that.
SHIELDS: And this is infrastructure week.
LEMON: I do have a bit of breaking news that I want to get you guys to respond to. President Trump is going to hold a joint news conference tomorrow with the Romanian President. They will take questions from reporters 2:45 in the Rose Garden. T is going to be President Trump's first time taking formal questions in three weeks. Each side are going to get a couple of questions during the availability. What do you think of that David?
SWERDLICK: I don't follow Romanian politics closely, but, you know, we have seen it can be very dicey situation either way for European leaders to stand side by side with Trump at the podium's east room, wherever else in Brussels, et cetera. Because President Trump is toxic to a lot of Europeans. I don't know how Romanian plays relative to some of the bigger western countries, but.
TANDEN: But can I make the brighter point, just so this exchange that we just had. I mean, I do think one the issues here that is at play that came up in the hearing yesterday and today is that what's at stake here is how Russia interfered in the elections and the intelligence community's findings and the findings that have been affirmed by Trump appointees that Russia interfered with our elections to help Trump win.
And what I do think is damning is that in no part of these interactions of Comey or with anyone else for that matter does the President ever have any concern about that fact. Very concerned about that Flynn investigation.
PRESTON: Does he is close to talk to him about this investigation or he is not supposed to talk about it?
TANDEN: No. Not the investigation about the Russian interference in the election. Not the investigation. That's not an investigation. It was a finding by the intelligence community which there was a report January 6th after then President, you know, comes into office never ever cares. And of course, as you mentioned has a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador who has met with Jeff Sessions, does not tell the American media.
SHIELDS: I think it is worth pointing out that Comey did testify today that the Russians didn't achieve anything.
TANDEN: No, he did not say that. He did not said that.
SHIELDS: So by the way, once again, let's get back to sort of there's a theme here.
SWERDLICK: No one is alleging that they change it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People that don't want to accept the election also don't seem to want to accept things that were testified to today.
SHIELDS: We spent weeks talking about a narrative where people will practically say walk up to the edge, the Russians must have gotten involved in our elections.
LEMON: Do we have a sound bite?
SHIELDS: They didn't succeed in altering our elections.
SWERDLICK: Altering the outcome they say the vote. He did say that they meddled, tried to interfere with our electoral process.
SHIELDS: Sure. LEMON: But that's never been disputed. What's your point?
SHIELDS: My point is I believe --
LEMON: That's not news --.
PRESTON: No one is alleging that. Literally, one person who has allege the it was his opponent was Hillary Clinton where she said had that not happened, I would have won. I mean, that is basically, coming out of that. But you are not hearing it from the media. That oh, my God, this didn't happen.
PRESTON: Although I will say this, Mike, what I am surprised about what dumb founded me from last year through this whole election is why is there such push back about the idea that from Republicans and some Democrats and that the Russian tried to screw around with our election?
SHIELDS: I tell you.
PRESTON: And every intelligence agency agrees with him. Why were unified on that?
LEMON: James Comey talking about Russia today. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Mr. Comey a broad question, was the Russian activity in the 2016 election a one-off proposition or is this part of a long-term strategy. Will they be back?
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It's a long-term practice of theirs. It's stepped up a notch in a significant way in 2016. They will be back. It's not a Republican thing or Democratic thing. It really is an American thing. They are going to come for whatever party they choose to try and work on behalf of. And they are not devoted to either in my experience. They are just about their own advantage and they will be back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I'm going to ask earlier, and fair question, did Russia interfere and influence the election and he said without a doubt.
FLANNERY: Let me mention something about Flynn. Flynn's meeting with the Russian ambassador was the end of December and it was about the sanctions that the President was putting on for interference in the election. And there appeared to be conversations about those sanctions and then the very next day Putin backs off and says he is not going to do anything and Trump elect says see how smart he is. And now we are hearing in recent weeks that we are going to withdraw those sanctions that relate to the interference in our elections to your point this is exactly about the interference. And so we are going to let them go --.
[23:25:35] SHIELDS: There is my answer. He actually answered the question for me. So politically trying to attach these things to the Russia investigation has taken it to a partisan place where --.
FLANNERY: That's bot partisan at all. That's American security. That's not partisan.
SHIELDS: I believe there are plenty of Democrats across this town and on television that are make it a part as in issue. They don't want to accept that --.
FLANNERY: I'm not.
SHIELDS: You can keep say no but I'm telling you this is happening and what millions of voters believe it has happened.
LEMON: One at a time, please.
SHIELDS: And so, you have plenty on Republicans on Capitol Hill who want to investigate. They are so very concern about it. It is clear that they would try to do this and there is - you are not going to find a lot of Russia lovers in the Republican Party but voters -- Republicans get pushed into a place of saying, wait a minute, now you are going beyond this investigation using this to try and justify why Hillary Clinton lost the election, now it is turning to a partisan thing.
SWERDLICK: I wouldn't call the President of the United States a Russian lover. But he has been extremely - forget about what we don't know. Let's talk about what we do know. He has been extremely solicitous of President Putin and Russia from the time he start running to president.
LEMON: Sirs. Sir. Let him finish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
FLANNERY: The specific facts are we have a current attorney general had two meetings and now we are told three because of leaks of the confidential meeting, one of them at least was at the Republican convention when they talked about loosening the sanctions involving the Ukraine. And then we supposedly had another conversation in the current attorney general's office in September in which the discussions were on sanctions in Ukraine. In early December had a meeting with the son-in-law of the President and ambassador and they were discussed the sanctions that involve Ukraine. And then in the end of December we had Flynn who has denied that he had a meeting.
LEMON: What's your point, sir?
FLANNERY: My point is that what is more important than national security than proposing policies that sanctions and offending nation's state that is our enemy, Russia. And we have an administration that because perhaps the (INAUDIBLE) by which they help get the election are now giving license to the Russians despite the sanction that were rightly impose both for Ukraine and for --.
LEMON: How is that partisan?
SHIELDS: That's talking points from the DNC.
FLANNERY: Give me another fact.
SHIELDS: The President going to NATO and reaffirming his support for NATO.
SHIELDS: You are not a partisan at all, but I am not allowed to offer --.
FLANNERY: What is that have to do with the fact?
SHIELDS: The number one issue for Vladimir Putin is NATO and how strong they are.
LEMON: James Comey making history in his testimony on Capitol Hill. But is it up there in the history of Presidential standings? We will talk about that.
[23:33:13] LEMON: No public comments today from President Trump about James Comey's testimony. But in an appearance before an evangelical group, he did not mince words saying quote "we are under siege."
I want to bring you now Sally Quinn, a "Washington Post" contributor and CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, the author or "Rightful Heritage, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the land of America.
So good to have both of you on. Hopefully this will be a little bit a calm, thoughtful panel.
Douglas Brinkley, you first. This is one of the most highly anticipated congressional hearings, really in decades, parts in D.C. open dearly for what parties. How do you think today will go down in history? DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It's I think the beginning
of the end offer the Trump White House. It is going to be a long journey. I mean, we forget with Richard Nixon Watergate 1972, but it draw down to 1972, 1973 and 1974. So this is going to go on for a while.
But the very fact that a man of the integrity of Comey is calling the President of the United States a liar. And we Comey's caught up his notes. We got him. Donald Trump, the president of the United States told the world, threaten the world that he has tapes. And yet these tapes aren't appearing. There aren't any tapes.
And I am concerned, you know, that it is we are seeing a crack in a lot of our institutions in this country that you have a President of the United States willingly trashing the FBI and the CIA and then journalists are the enemies, then you know, federal judges are no good. What's left, the only guy that's good is Donald Trump?
So I think it is kind of sad our democracy is going through this but we always triumph. We triumph through tea pot dome and triumph through Watergate, through Iran contra, and we will get through this. But it's going to take a while.
Sally Quinn today, you know, to Douglas' point, the former FBI director called the President of the United States a liar a number of times, said he could not be trusted. Let's listen to some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[23:35:10] COMEY: Those were lies, plain and simple. I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting. And so I thought it really important to document.
KING: In his interview with Lester Holt on NBC, the President said I had dinner with him. He wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. Is this accurate statement?
COMEY: No sir.
KING: Did you in anyway initiate that dinner?
KING: And in his press conference on May 18th, the President was asked whether he had urged you to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn President responded quote no, no, next question. Is that an accurate statement?
COMEY: I don't know believe it is.
SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: With the culmination of the events you're summarily fired. Was there an explanation?
COMEY: There was an explanation, I just don't buy it. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: How big of a deal do you think that is? And do you think it is disrespectful to call the sitting President a liar.
SALLY QUINN, CONTRIBUTOR, WASHINGTON POST: No, because he is. I mean, the "Washington Post" had a piece, I think it was April 29th, he lied at least 300 times or over 300 times. Misstatements, however you call it, but they were untrue. I just don't know any other way to say it. And clearly, the director of FBI to say I had took notes because he is afraid the President is going to lie. What was he basing that on? He was basing that on the fact that the President doesn't tell the truth all the time.
LEMON: And during reports, and also "Politifact" and other fact checkers have done reports on the fact checks on how much the president does not --.
QUINN: I mean, I think we can't just mess around it because they are lies. And so, we need to call them what they are. And I think people are getting a little bit more used to that. But you know, what I find today, and pulling back a little bit, because it's now late at night so all of this, I have been watching all of the fist to cuffs and screaming and yelling and everything is the idea that Comey would be in the same category as Donald Trump. That people would say which do you believe when there's never been any evidence of Comey lying that we know about and yet there is all this evidence of Donald Trump?
LEMON: Well the interesting part I think is that people don't remember or should keep in mind I should say is that James Comey is under oath. He is a career law enforcement agent.
LEMON: A career professional who is under oath. And are you going to lie when you are the form he head of the FBI and you are under oath.
QUINN: Here's who was not under oath was Trump's lawyer. And I have to say he looks like - and Trump is very good at casting people. This guy looks like the bad guy's lawyer in a grade B movie, you know. And he came out and basically accused Comey of lying, President never said this. He never said that which means there are no tapes.
LEMON: Douglas Brinkley, I know you want to respond but I just want to play what the White House said about the President being truthful or not truthful. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: No. I can definitively say the President is not a liar. I think it is frankly insulting that that question would be asked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Go ahead Douglas. What do you think? BRINKLEY: I think it's insulting she answered it that way. Donald
Trump lies on auto pilot. We live in a world of facts. I'm a historian. We use facts when we do things. Donald Trump has created alternative reality for himself. He may not even know he is lying because he lies so often.
But it's not just Donald Trump. I mean, why can't Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, tell us how many times he met with the Russian ambassador, you know, was it one, was it two, was it zero? Why don't you just tell people why is Michael Flynn pleading the fifth refusing to turnover subpoenaed documents, you know. Why is Kushner - why is Donald Trump not released his taxes.
I mean, they could clear a lot of this up if they just speak a little truth and they won't. So the American public is now speaking truth to power through journalists and through concerned citizens that Donald Trump is deranging our country and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is starting to resemble assess (ph) pool.
LEMON: John Flannery was on earlier and he said it reminded him of this moment. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well I'm not a crook.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So he said that it was actually Sarah Huckabee Sanders who said, you know, she was insulted by the President. You know, the President not a liar. Do you see any parallel to that, Douglas?
BRINKLEY: Absolutely. I mean, how many more times do we have to be reminded of Watergate. The second she said that today and you think about I'm not a crook. And of course Richard Nixon was a crook. And it wasn't just Nixon, it was (INAUDIBLE) and it was (INAUDIBLE).
But the problem is, you know, (INAUDIBLE) about Watergate. I don't know how people remembered it. But you know, he did jail time got out and became a folk hero for the right wing on talk radio. I mean, what's Michael Flynn going end up doing? Right now while many people are criticizing Flynn on the alternative right world. He is kind of a hero to them in a demented sort of way.
I think Flynn is the problem here. I think he needs to talk. The question is do we give him immunity in the United States and tell him - and really tell the truth if he is given immunity.
[23:40:28] LEMON: I want an answer to this quickly. I just need to play this exchange between James Comey and independent Maine senator Angus King from today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: When a President of the United States in the oval office says something like I hope or I suggest or would you, do you take that as a directive?
COMEY: Yes. Yes. It rings in my ears kind of no one rid me of this meddle some priest.
KING: I was just going to quote that 1170 December 29th, Henry II said who will rid me of this meddle some priest and then the next day he was killed. Thomas (INAUDIBLE). That's exactly the same situation we are thinking along the same lines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Speaking of nerds. But what is interesting is that (INAUDIBLE) was decorated as a saint. And Comey probably knew that because he was a religion major in college. What do you guys make of that comparison?
QUINN: Well, I don't think it was wrong. I mean, I thought it was funny and I thought it was clever and I thought it brought just attention to him as the good guy and the victim and the person who will be exonerated in the end.
BRINKLEY: Yes. It was the high water mark of the day from a comical point of view. And it was nice to see such a rendition (ph) from two Washington insiders.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
Coming up, telling where James Comey's testimony saying the Russians will be back to meddle in our elections.
[23:47:42] LEMON: We are back with breaking news the on two huge stories, James Comey's stunning testimony, Senate testimony and one of President Trump's top alleys Theresa May in the battle of her political life.
CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen is live for us outside number 10 Downing Street.
Fred, hello. First shock of Brexit, the results in the UK now another unexpected election result there tonight. What's going on with Theresa May? Is she still the prime minister?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a very big question at this point in time, Don. It really is a nail biter here in the United Kingdom.
Now, we are coming toward the end of the vote counting and it is still is unclear whether or not Theresa May will be able to stay in office whether she will retain her majority or whether or not she has lost that governing majority. And remember this is an election she actually called because she thought she wanted to strengthen her majority as she is negotiating with other European countries for the UK leaving the European Union.
There is already people who are calling on her to resign whether she wins or not. She came out earlier and said that if her party does retains that majority that she wants to stay in office. But this certainly is so far at least a devastating result for her and is any case. And it really is unclear whether or not she is going to hang on to her political life here in this country, Don.
LEMON: You know, the prime minister came to the United States and visited our President Donald Trump who is an extremely controversial figure in Europe. There is a video of them walking there at the White House. And recently he attacked the mayor of London on twitter immediately after a terror attack. What does this mean for the President here? Do you think he has lost an ally there?
PLEITGEN: I think potentially that he might have lost an ally. You are absolutely right. So one thing that happened in Britain as the country leaves the European Union, it sought closer relations with America. Of course, there was always that special relationship, and especially between Theresa May and President Trump. It seems that this relations would become even better.
Now, of course, all of that is called into question. But I think one of the things that also did influence this election a little bit is the fact that President Trump did get involved in that twitter battle with the mayor of London so shortly after the terror attacks happened here in the city. That really rubbed a lot of people here in England the wrong way. And Theresa May didn't come to the defense in the mayor of London, the man who running against her, Jeremy Corbyn did. And that certainly something that may have swayed some of the polls as well. And certainly didn't help Theresa May at all.
But you are absolutely right that Theresa May is voted out of office and Jeremy Corbyn in office then certainly the relations between the U.S. and the United Kingdom will become a lot more difficult at least for this current White House.
LEMON: Frederik Pleitgen, keeping close watch there. Frederik, thank you very much.
I want to turn now James Comey senate testimony.
Let's discuss now with Chris Swecker, a former FBI, assistant director for death criminal investigative division and former CIA operative Evan McMullin and CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem.
Good evening. I'm so good to have you all here.
Chris, let's get right to it. Here is more of today's testimony referring to the salacious allegations in the controversial dossier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: The President called me I believe shortly before he was inaugurated as a follow up to our conversation -- private conversation on January the 6th. He just wanted to reiterate his rejection of the allegation and talk about he thought about it more and why he thought it wasn't true. The verified -- unverified and salacious parts and during that call he asked again, I hope you are going to stay. You are doing a great job. And I told him that I intended to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So he was concern about, in the written statement that we had from Comey last night saying that the President saying to him, according to Comey, he didn't have any relationship with hookers. Again, this is according to what he said last night, the document that was released from Comey that he always assumed when he was in Russia that he was being recorded.
The President seem more concern with this dossier than the Russians meddling in out election?
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: Well, I see the President of someone who has never had an utter thought, anything in his brain is going to spill right out. In this contact, I mean, he was -- I think Comey said it was neither inappropriate. But in all - in each of these contacts, director Comey never pushed back which was very disappointing to me.
As someone who loves the organization and certain organization for 25 years, what I was struck with was someone at his confidence level, his experience level being so surprised taken back and not responding decisively to the things that the President was asking about and supposedly was directing him to do. That was one of the things about the testimony that stunned me today. I did not expect to be surprised today. I thought it will be fairly routine.
[23:50:02] LEMON: Yes.
Evan, you say the major issue here is that Trump fired Comey to quote he said "to effect the investigation." So where do we go from here?
EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, I think the investigation needs to go forward. But I still believe that the critical issue here as you said is simply that Donald Trump fired the director of FBI who was leading the investigation into the President's own campaign over potential collusion with the Russian government. That is still the issue and that's by his explanation. These are the President's own words.
So, you know, we learn more from Comey today and from his written testimony. I think that, you know, what Comey did today is give the investigation more to do. And so in that way, I think the walls of justice are closing in on President Trump.
But what I also saw today and what I see elsewhere is that politically things are getting more difficult for Donald Trump. You saw that not a single Republican senator was willing to defend the President's honor, his trustworthiness or in any other way other than Senator Reich making a point about the President's comment about hope and whether that could constitute obstruction of justice. But, the point is that Republicans support of Donald Trump is
softening. And that combines with this expanding investigations and advance investigations leave the President in an increasingly precarious situation.
LEMON: Juliette, Director Comey did not want to talk about many details in the investigation and opening statements. But was there anything that he did say that surprise you?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I think regarding Michael Flynn, I was surprised and I think the Senator who was asking the question was surprised to the extent he essentially said that the investigation against Flynn right now is an obstruction of justice or a lying investigation, meaning that's going forward. And also suggesting that the special investigator and his team are looking at that issue of obstruction vis-a-vis Trump and his co-work (ph). So I thought there was a lot more in there that was surprising than I had anticipated.
I think the other thing just to the point of the bigger issue of why we are all here is Comey consistently saying what Trump had never asked him about which was the Russian hacking. Never asked. I mean, he asked about the hookers and he asked about loyalty and he asked about, you know, ending the case, never once asked about our democracy. Never said so how can we stop the Russian from doing it? How do we make sure this does not happen again? What can we do to retaliate? How can we get DHS and CIA and NSC. And all of the, animated so that this doesn't happen again -- not once. And I think that that to me was just that it was just affirming that all of this is about Trump's own sense of self preservation and not leadership about protecting the American democracy.
LEMON: Chris Swecker, Comey was very upset about the President's comment about the FBI and his reputation at the bureau. There were a number of FBI agents who showed up there to support him. Have those comments backfired on the President, do you think?
SWECKER: Well, they certainly did not help. I mean, Director Comey, former director Comey clearly is resentful and has some harvest some resentment and has bad blood there. And rightfully so the way he was treated.
But I would still go back that expected more out of Director Comey. I know him. I admired and respected him. And I expect him to push back harder. I expected him if he thought that there were some sort of obstruction of justice and he outlined that basically in his testimony that there is a process. The attorney general guideline provides what level of investigation is required initiating investigation. He should have recused himself as a potential witness and kicked it down to his number two, his number three to look at whether that case should have been open up as an obstruction case or potential So I am sorry but I keep going back to my disappointment both with the President but with director Comey as well.
LEMON: You think he should have pushed back? Do you think he should have pushed back more? Do you think he should have been stronger, Juliette Kayyem?
[23:55:04] KAYYEM: I think it is difficult to know in that position. I mean, look. He clearly felt that Trump was trying to obstruct the case. He also felt that Trump was really bad at doing it, until of course he gets fired. The fact that Trump's bad at obstruction mean that is Comey can go forward until the moment that Comey is fired.
So, you know, in other words, the fact that Trump is bad at obstruction, right, means that Comey can go forward until, of course, the moment that Comey is fired. And so, to me Comey did almost everything he possibly could do. He kept the memos. He talked to his - the people around him about what was happening.
And I think one other piece you asked me what was surprising. I would be worried if I were Sessions right now. To me between the letter that the opening statement that Comey released yesterday and some of the testimonies today, the extent of Sessions was not an agent for the department and that Comey felt that way. I mean, in other words, he was very weary obsession, Sessions appeared not be able to protect him and willing to for Sessions leaves the room when Trump tells him to in the famous meeting in the oval office. I left there thinking Comey may not have had much options as Chris points out should be available to him.
LEMON: Hey, Evan, I'm running out time but I will give you quick the last word especially director says the Russians are stepping it up in a sick way when it comes to influencing the election.
MCMULLIN: Yes, absolutely. Well, this is something that they have been doing for a long time through history. But now at their fingertips and that everyone finger tips of all these electronic means, and social media, the internet, et cetera. And so, all of these efforts to influence other elections and foreign countries are going to be much easier and can be scaled up much more broadly, absolutely it is going to be a threat from Russia again but also from elsewhere.
LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate you joining this evening.
That's it for tonight. Thanks for watching. I will see you right back here tomorrow.