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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
House Intel to White House: Hand Over Any Tapes By June 23; Trump: "100 Percent" Willing to be Questioned Under Oath; Interview with Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 9, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:05] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: It's 8:00. Do you know where your White House tapes are? Or even if there are any?
I'm John Berman, in for Anderson. Good evening.
Breaking news tonight: the House Intelligence Committee says enough is enough about the manufactured mystery over recordings president said James Comey had better hope did not exist, tapes of their Oval Office conversations. Late today, the committee told him in so many words, if you got them, we want them.
That came after the president played coy this afternoon when asked about them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do tapes exist of your conversations with him?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'll tell you than maybe some time in the very near future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And a couple of hours later, the House Intelligence Committee leadership sent a request to the White House counsel for any tapes by the 23rd of this month. One hundred proof drama to be sure, but hardly all there is tonight.
The president also agreed to testify under oath on his conversations with James Comey. He accused Director Comey of lying under oath this morning on Twitter and this afternoon in the Rose Garden, offered up his take on the hearings, which keeping them honest, diverged at least some from the facts.
And just moments ago, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on the panel to investigate obstruction of justice. Yesterday, she told CNN, look, we're not there yet. Tonight, she apparently thinks we are.
CNN's Jim Acosta is at the White House with the very latest for us.
Jim, what else did the president say in the Rose Garden when asked about the Comey testimony? JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president
was really trying to have it both ways, John. He was saying that he was vindicated by Jim Comey's testimony, that he wasn't guilty at all of obstruction of justice or colluding with the Russians. But he also said that Comey was a leaker. He called the former FBI director a leaker.
He also said during one point in answering questions from reporters that Jim Comey just has it wrong when he says the president tried to pressure him to shut down the investigation into the former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Here is more of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction. He is a leaker.
REPORTER: I want to get back to James Comey's testimony. You suggested he didn't tell the truth in everything he said. He did say under oath that you told him to let the Flynn -- you said you hoped the Flynn investigation he could let go.
TRUMP: I didn't say that.
REPORTER: So, he lied than?
TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that. I mean, he will tell you I didn't say that.
REPORTER: And did he ask you to pledge --
TRUMP: And there would be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody that I read today. But I did not say that.
REPORTER: And did he ask for a pledge of loyalty from you? That's another thing he said.
TRUMP: No, he did not.
REPORTER: So, he said those things under oath. Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version?
TRUMP: One hundred percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, we should point out some late-breaking information courtesy of our colleague Manu Raju over on Capitol Hill. He says that Daniel Richman, the Columbia Law professor who was working in cahoots basically with the former FBI director to release the contents of those memos to reporters, he has been in contact with the Senate Judiciary Committee from what we understand. And apparently those wheels are in motion. We'll know more about that next week, John.
BERMAN: It would be very interesting to see what he has to say and how much he has to share. Jim Acosta at the White House -- thanks so much. More now on the House Intelligence tape request. Just a little while
ago, I spoke with committee member and California Democratic congressman, Eric Swalwell.
BERMAN: Congressman, the request from your committee came late this afternoon to the White House to produce any tapes if they exist. I know it just happened a short while ago. But has there been any response from the White House?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: As far as I know, we have not heard from the White House. And these are the words of the president. You know, he a few weeks back said that Director Comey at the time better -- or former Director Comey better hope that there are not tapes. And so, we want to know are there tapes, or did he make this claim as a way to intimidate or chill James Comey from putting forward his account of what happened.
BERMAN: Do you believe there are tapes, Congressman?
SWALWELL: You know, honestly, I don't know what to believe, John, with this president. He has made claims that have been proved false before, like President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. So, we just want to know what's out there.
And frankly, we want to move forward. The president has gotten in the way of the FBI's investigation, the House Intelligence Committee's investigation. And we just want to start making progress again.
BERMAN: If there are no tapes, then, how do you explain or what's your opinion of the last month of comments starting with that tweet? Is it some kind of performance art?
SWALWELL: Well, it appears that the president may have just made it to be deceitful, as he did against President Obama. And maybe he was trying to keep James Comey from coming forward, afraid perhaps that there may be tapes. That certainly didn't work.
But when you compare director -- former Director Comey's testimony yesterday, which was quite compelling, believable, and composed to the way the president conducted himself today at the Rose Garden, I think James Comey is going to win any credibility contest.
[20:05:01] BERMAN: What's your problem with how the president conducted himself today at the Rose Garden?
SWALWELL: Well, this is a serious investigation. He was standing in quite a prestigious place, the Rose Garden. And he was asked, are there tapes? He had intimated there were. And then he sort of teased out that that will be coming soon.
And, you know, this is not a reality show. This is not a season finale that you're given a preview to. This is the presidency of the United States. Allegations that obstruction of justice took place. And it deserves to be taken as serious as the situation is. BERMAN: So, the president did say he is 100 percent willing to
testify under oath. Will you call on the special counsel Bob Mueller to depose the president of the United States?
SWALWELL: I'll leave that to Bob Mueller. I miss being in the courtroom as a prosecutor. I'm sure that based on what James Comey said yesterday, Bob Mueller will be seeking to hear from the president, and he should.
However, right now, the president I think at the very least has questions to answer around whether he sought loyalty, whether he sought to make the Flynn case go away, and whether he fired James Comey once neither of those happened.
BERMAN: He stood there in the Rose Garden today and said he did not ask for loyalty, in those words. He never used those words. He said he did not say, hey, can you back off Michael Flynn? The president denied either of those things happened.
If he is questioned under oath by Robert Mueller, remember, President Trump is someone who has been involved in many legal cases. He was deposed in the beginning of January as president-elect in a civil suit. He does have experience answering questions from lawyers, you know.
Do you think it's possible that he manages to navigate this, you know, adeptly, or that his side of the story proves to be the more believable?
SWALWELL: There is also, John, other witnesses who will be relevant here. Jeff Sessions apparently was in the room. Jared Kushner was in the room. And from press report, it sounds like there is more to hear from Admiral Rogers and ODNI Director Coats.
So, I think that will also be telling as to who you would believe in a situation like this.
BERMAN: But by James Comey's own admission, there were never more than two people in the room, the president and James Comey, or the president and James Comey on the telephone when these matters were discussed specifically. Both the attorney general and Jared Kushner left before the alleged ask about Michael Flynn.
SWALWELL: That's right. And that may go to intent when a prosecutor is looking at this.
BERMAN: And just last question. If the White House does not produce tapes or does not give an answer about whether there are tapes by June 23rd, what are you prepared to do?
SWALWELL: Well, I'll leave it to Mike Conaway and Adam Schiff who have worked quite well together in the last month since Mike Conaway took over. We are seeking these voluntarily right now. That's always the best way in an investigation is to have cooperation. And if that doesn't happen, then I'm sure they will consider whether a subpoena is appropriate. BERMAN: Do you happen to know whether the chairman, the actual
chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, still has signoff on some subpoenas? Do you know if he was involved with the decision to ask for these tapes?
SWALWELL: I don't know if he was involved. I do know he has been signing off on some subpoenas. I think that's inappropriate and I hope that he stops doing that because we still need to work with him on non-Russia related matters and he needs to have credibility when we do that.
BERMAN: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks for being with us.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
BERMAN: All right. Let's bring in our panel right now. Kirsten Powers, Scott Jennings, Maria Cardona, Carl Bernstein, Laura Coates, and Elizabeth Foley, an all star grouping.
Elizabeth, Professor Foley, I have never quite understood what the White House is playing at here with these tapes. The president said in that initial tweet, you know, James Comey better hope there were not tapes of this conversation. And the White House refused the say whether or not these tapes exist.
You know, from an investigative standpoint, from a legal standpoint, what does the White House get out of being so vague?
ELIZABETH FOLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: Well, I don't know. I mean, a lot of speculation here because we don't even know if the tapes exist, frankly. I think if the tapes do exist, one reason why that president might hesitate to turn over those tapes and be a little bit coy about that right now is to buy some time for the White House lawyers, the legal team to make assessments of assertions of executive privilege. I mean, that's a privilege that covers deliberations between the president and his closest advisers.
And so, it may be that portions of the tapes are covered by the privilege and portions of them aren't. I think they probably would want to get their little legal eggs in a row before they reveal whether the tapes existed. Remember, right now they're not even under any compulsion to turn them over.
BERMAN: Yet. Yet.
FOLEY: There is no subpoena yet. That's right.
BERMAN: Right. Scott Jennings, from a political standpoint, I've also never understood what the White House gets out of this game about dancing around whether there are tapes.
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASST. TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, I don't know what they get out of it either. I would say as someone who has been in the White House, I value very much the concept of the president of the United States being able to get candid advice in the Oval Office. If it were to become known publicly that there is a taping system, how much candid advice would the president be getting from whoever happened to walk through the door if you know you're being tape recorded?
[20:10:02] To me, that's a little chilling. And so, for that reason, I sort of hope there aren't tapes because I think it's extremely valuable for the president to hear directly from his advisers in a candid a room as possible and a taping system I think would chill that to some degree.
BERMAN: Carl Bernstein, we just have to get historical perspective here. Like tapes in the White House, my god. If there are tapes, the American people have a right to know, correct?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. But I think we're all so far out in front of our skis that we need to back up little bit and get back in the chair lift.
First of all, we could be talking here about a tape on a cell phone of a meeting we don't even know about, or a partial meeting or whatever.
Right now, what is clear to those of us that have studied this White House is that Donald Trump is engaged in a scorched-earth battle against James Comey, and he is playing to his base for all it's worth. He is trying to discredit Comey. He is trying to rouse his base, as he did at the faith initiative conference yesterday. And he is somebody who worries about what's down the road later rather than now. Right now, he is trying to get in whatever counterpunch he can to discredit Comey.
So, he has gone to the question of -- well, Comey is a leaker, thinking that that is going to discredit him, particularly with his own base, when in fact Donald Trump is a leaker. He has been a leaker for all of his professional life. He even has leaked by falsely impersonating himself under another name. So, this is a big game in which the president and the people around him know that he has been damaged, that these investigations are closing in on him, and right now, he wants to push the weight of his followers behind him.
And he wants to keep them in place so that Republicans on the Hill don't abandon him, because he can't afford to have Republicans on the Hill saying we need to get to the bottom of whatever it is that this president doesn't want us to know. So, he is playing a game here.
BERMAN: Kirsten Powers, do you think there are tapes?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that if there were tapes and they exonerated Donald Trump, they would be released, right? So, either there are tapes and they don't exonerate him, and so, that's why he is being coy about it. But it seems like if he had something that would exonerate him, he would probably release them.
But, I mean, I just think it's strange that we're sitting here -- does anyone else find this conversation bizarre? That this is the president of the United States who just -- it's literally like an adolescent, like a 14-year-old. I mean, it really is like talking to a 14-year-old who will not answer a direct question. I mean, he is not acting like an adult.
You know, he's -- I'll tell you later. You know, I don't know. I mean, it's this kind of gas lighting. And I feel like he is the one who put it out there. He is the one who suggested it. We didn't come up with this, he did, you know?
And now, he can't simply answer yes or no? It's not -- I mean, it's so disturbing. I don't even know what to say about it anymore.
BERMAN: All right. We're going to carry on this conversation, Maria Cardona, Laura Coates, you get the first question next time.
But the president agreeing to testify under oath, saying he's 100 percent willing to testify under oath.
Next, bizarre or not, more on the by now legendary tapes and the president's habit, perhaps you've noticed, of doing what we're doing right now, promising something tempting is coming right up very, very soon.
Later hour, other presidents have been caught on their own mics doing everything from obstructing justice to averting World War III, to wearing a pair of slacks.
[20:17:15] BERMAN: It may have been the breaking news that broke the camel's back as far as the House Intelligence Committee is concerned. The president teasing reporters when asked if tapes of his conversations with James Comey do, in fact, exist. He said he would tell them, quote, in the very near future, which prompted the House committee to issue a former request for any such recordings. Not because they could not wait for the very near future, rather because where the president is concerned, sometimes the very near future never actually comes.
First as a citizen, then as a candidate and now as president, he has made a habit of tossing around all kind of kinds of vaguely specifically time frames then not really delivering on the goods.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, FOX NEWS: You said you have Senate investigator. Have your investigators been able to unearth anything more that has given your argument credence?
TRUMP: I will let you know that at a future date. I'll let you know that at a future date.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: They sent investigators to Hawaii and they can't believe what they found. What have they found?
TRUMP: That's none of your business right now. We're going to see what happens. STEPHANOPOULOS: Have they found anything?
TRUMP: We're going to see what happens.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: What have you found with your investigators?
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say that now, but it's going to be very interesting.
If I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns. Absolutely.
Maybe I'm going do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate.
Maybe when we find out the true story on Hillary's e-mails.
Wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BERMAN: S is that a cause for concern, a subject for ridicule, or no big deal?
Back now with the panel.
Maria Cardona, it's interesting. I'm not sure whether or not Dianne Feinstein and the Senate Judiciary Committee is responding to that specifically, but we learned a very short time ago that she wants to launch a Senate judiciary investigation into just the issue of alleged obstruction of justice. And that is after last night saying we're not there yet. This is Dianne Feinstein who by the way in the past has said she has seen no hard evidence of collusion yet.
So, this is an interesting step from her.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there's two things there. First of all, she has been somebody who has been incredibly concerned, I think as most persons are, at the crux of the issue, which doesn't seem to concern the president of the United States, which is that Russia committed an act of war in cyber attacking the United States and interfering and meddling in our elections. And it doesn't seem like the president of the United States has any interest in getting to the bottom of that. Number one.
Number two, I also think it comes from Comey's testimony. You know, I think it's so ironic that the president is out there on Twitter and his lawyer is out there saying that what Comey said vindicated him when actually it's completely the opposite. What Comey said is yes, when he was fired, Donald Trump may not have been under investigation personally, but he also said that now, given everything that has transpired up until now, he is sure that Mueller is going to go into and look at obstruction of justice of what Donald Trump did.
[20:20:15] Which means Donald Trump is under investigation or will be very soon by the special counsel.
So I think those two things are key. And it's why Dianne Feinstein has really taken this a little bit more aggressively.
BERMAN: We'll find out. Maybe we'll find out if the president is under investigation at some point.
Scott, you want to jump in there. But I want to bring Laura Coates into the conversation with the other giant bit of news we haven't even touched on, which is the president says 100 percent that he will testify. You know, if he does in fact get called before Robert Mueller or agree to sit voluntarily before Robert Mueller, he could be asked questions, could he not, that are somewhat different, or off topic at least purely from the Russia investigation. And he would be obligated to answer those questions truthfully, which can get you into trouble.
Look, President Clinton was impeached for things that were not about Whitewater originally.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's absolutely true. And, of course, the term collusion could come back to haunt him in this scenario.
That's a nebulous term. It hasn't been defined yet because there hasn't been a criminal statute to actually hook to that term. But we should tell the president you've got an open investigation that doesn't have the parameters that are going to give you the wiggle room to not answer certain questions. Meaning everything is fair game.
And the president has put himself in a very precarious situation when he says, look, believe Jim Comey as the things that make me sound more credible and corroborate him. But then he's a liar. When you have believe him/he is a liar, you're going to open a line of questioning in terms of what Robert Mueller may ask about a whole host of things, to talk about the credibility of the president and whether or not there are other corroborative aspects of this investigation.
So, absolutely, here you've got a president who if he does in fact sit in that 100 percent, I think it's probably going to go to 60 then 50 then 40 and then a pig might fly by before it actually happens. But if he actually does that, he will open himself up to more criminal exposure and criminal liability, and the snowball he thought he had by asking Comey about the Flynn investigation will become an avalanche.
BERMAN: You know, Scott Jennings on the issue of agreeing to testify or saying 100 percent he'll testify, you know, as a political adviser, if you were watching him answer that question, were you psyched that he said that or were you saying oh no, now I know what Donald Trump will be asked every day, you know, for the next five months?
JENNINGS: Well, as a political matter, you have to admire someone that has full confidence in what he is saying out loud. Look, I'm going to tell you here in front of the press today, and I am 100 percent willing to tell that story under oath. That shows extreme confidence, and would tell his supporters and others that he fully believes in the honesty of his answers.
But I think we should take a step back here and focus on what really matters about the week in general. We started this week all wondering, did a presidential administration pressure the head of the FBI to end, alter, or change an investigation? And unfortunately we found out that they did.
And Loretta Lynch now has a lot of explaining to do. The only person that we found out that James Comey said pressured him was Lynch, not somebody from the Trump administration. So, we're painting a dark picture of what Comey said about Trump. But Lynch is the one who had --
CARDONA: That talking point right there I think underscores how desperate Trump is and his supporters are, because they know that this dark cloud that he wanted Comey to lift is now becoming a funnel cloud.
BERMAN: So, despite what Scott said there, I do not think that the only comments made by James Comey in some ways were about Loretta Lynch there. He said a lot of things yesterday, including five times in different ways saying that President Trump was a liar.
POWERS: That and he also did say that he felt that he was trying to get him to drop this case against Flynn. He was very clear about that. That is how he interpreted what he said to him. So, he felt that he was being pressured.
And so, you know, I think that, you know, to the question you were asking him about how should Trump supporters feel when you hear the president saying he is going to do this, you know, at the very beginning of this, I said probably what is going to end up causing the biggest amount of problems for Donald Trump and his associates in the White House is getting put under oath and inevitably perjuring themselves. And that's not an aspersion against them. It's just something we've seen happened over and over again, right?
I mean, Scooter Libby ultimately was found not to be the leaker, but then he perjured himself. You know, with Bill Clinton, of course. What started out as an investigation into whitewater ended up something where he got in trouble for perjuring himself.
And so, I think, you know, if you're somebody who hears that and you do support Donald Trump, I don't know how excited you should be about that.
BERMAN: Carl Bernstein, you certainly have seen firsthand how something like, say, a break-in can lead to many different things, you know, over the course of investigations here.
[20:25:03] Just a quick final word on this subject. We're just at the beginning here.
BERNSTEIN: Well, I think the final word is that this is part of a huge sprawling investigation about the Russians and what people in the Trump orbit, including the president of the United States, might have done in their contacts with Russians, Russia, ethno Russians, former republics of the Soviet Union that are adjacent to Russia. There is a huge investigation going on. And it's closing in.
Think of all of this as a mosaic in which the pieces are starting to come together. And we're beginning to get a picture, and we don't even know yet under oath would be quite something about Donald Trump talking about what loans he has outstanding or had in the past to Russians and ethno Russians.
BERMAN: So, Carl --
BERNSTEIN: And he is going to be asked about that kind of thing. So that's where we're heading.
BERMAN: Glad you brought up the subject of under oath. Thanks so much, everyone. Because coming up, the president said he would testify under oath 100 percent. He won't be the first president to do that. But it's a pretty small club. And it comes with pretty gargantuan consequences. We'll discuss.
[20:30:10] BERMAN: One of the big looming questions, will the president testify under oath about his firing of at the FBI Dir. James Comey? But he was asked about it today the president said he would absolutely be willing do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he said those things under oath, would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of --
TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 100 percent. I didn't say under oath. I hardly know the man, I'm not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance, who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean think of it. I hardly know the man. It doesn't make sense. No, I didn't say that. And I didn't say the other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if Robert Mueller wanted to speak with you about that --
TRUMP: I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So if it actually happens, Pres. Trump would not be the first president to testify under oath. A number of presidents have done it. President Bill Clinton was the first sitting president to testify under oath as part of an investigation about his own behavior. Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley joins us now along with Jeffrey Lord and Carl Bernstein is back as well.
You know, Doug, it is very rare that a president testify under oath. It has happened and as we said, you know, Pres. Clinton is the first one to do it having to deal with a criminal investigation of his own conduct.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, that's right, I mean Bill Clinton and U.S. presidential history was the Hank Aaron of sworn testimony from (inaudible) 1994 to August in 1998, all Bill Clinton did was give sworn testimony over and over again and Hillary Clinton for that matter.
It ended up not particularly well for Bill Clinton, in the fact he had to do 5 1/2 hours with Ken Starr in August 17, 1998 and then had to go on public to the public airwaves television and say, look, I'm guilty. But I think the key here is to look at what happened with Ronald Reagan doing -- during the Iran contra, for Lawrence Walsh in 1998, Reagan agreed to answer questions in writing.
And so you might be -- well, Donald Trump is a tricky character, he might say 100 percent sworn testimony, but I'll answer your questions in writing. You might see his lawyers push Trump to deal with that way, because putting him in front of, you know, Mueller for 5 1/2 hours is a disaster for Donald Trump.
BERMAN: You know, Jeffrey Lord, you know, Doug said the buzz words which I -- it was making (inaudible) as Ronald Reagan, --
JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: What was that --
BERMAN: -- to be exactly. He said Ronald Reagan so I had to ask you the next question by law here, do you think that the president should testify under oath unless for argument sake, say out loud in front of Bob Mueller?
LORD: I'll leave it to the lawyers, but I like the Reagan solution, do it in writing. You know, John, really this is about a war between Washington and the Washington establishment and a lot of the American people. And that really is what's going on here. And Washington, I mean I worked there for a long time, I love the place, but, boy, it is tribal warfare, these scenes that you would see of people ling up in bars at 9:00 o'clock in the morning Washington, D.C. to watch the Comey hearings. I assure you right here in the middle of Pennsylvania that was not happening to the best of my knowledge.
BERMAN: Well, 19 million people -- 19 million people --
LORD: This isn't --
BERMAN: -- 19 million people -- 19 million people watched the hearings on television yesterday, which is as many watched the NBA game three, and I don't think you would say that game three in the NBA finals is somehow tribal warfare in the United States. I think it's separate issue, Jeffrey, but to the issue of whether or not the president should testify, Carl Bernstein, you earlier said it would be a remarkable thing if the president answered questions under oath. Carl, what do you mean?
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Well, first of all, once he got in there, if it was open ended it could be devastating and probably would be because it would be a license for a prosecutor to go into all of Trump's history in terms of his finances, Russians, Russian money, all kind of Pandora's box that Trump spent years trying to keep people from opening.
It's unthinkable to me that he would permit that but there is a problem I think that he has. And I'll leave it to the lawyers to discuss. And that is activities that took place before he was president of the United States, because a lot of what we're talking about here occurred before he was president of the United States, including the possibility of criminal activity then. I'm not suggesting he engaged in criminal activity, but it certainly is something that prosecutors would want to look at. So, there's a real Pandora's box to repeat that phrase, because it's so (inaudible).
And the other instance we have of a president before a Grand jury, actually, is Nixon, after he was president of the United States, he did 11 hours before a Grand jury and the testimony wasn't released until a few years ago and it was a horrible picture of Pres. Nixon angry, vindictive, and one that he did not want to see released. He thought that testimony would never be released.
[20:35:20] BERMAN: You know, Douglas Brinkley, one of the things that we've seen from the Trump White House, and they have actually looked at the Clinton White House how it behaved when it was under siege during impeachment and in some ways these taken some lessons from that. Well, if they look at the issue of Bill Clinton having to testifying during that time, what lessons should the Trump White House take from that?
BRINKLEY: Well, if you're Donald Trump you realized Bill Clinton survived all of this, he was re-elected and then by the time he left office in 2000, he was wildly popular. Many people thought that Al Gore lost the 2000 election because Bill Clinton wasn't on his side that he treated him like a (inaudible) figure.
The other thing that Bill Clinton did was he never gave up, he just kept scrapping and fighting and fighting, giving states of the Union addresses, defending his honor, defending himself. Eventually he had to admit guilt. But, you know, you want to be careful not to put sloppy sound bites up out there, I think that's going to be Donald Trump's big problem that, you know, Bill Clinton now lives in history for, you know, it depends on what the definition of is is. You don't want to see Donald Trump going down here. It depends on what the definition of, you know, certain words are and splitting hairs because that kind of looks like guilt when you do that.
BERMAN: And Jeffrey Lord, you know, Donald Trump has testified before. He appeared before lawyer just in January in a civil disposition. There is a 2017 case was the Washington Post reported on extensively in which his honest was called in a question. They said he lied a full 30 times there. Is the president's past, you know, (inaudible) with honest, could that be an issue if he appeared before Bob Mueller?
LORD: Well, if that's an issue then Bob Mueller issue, I mean -- but one of the things we've learned from the Comey testimony, is that he did various actions to tilt thing to Bob Mueller, who was is -- was one of his best buddies. I mean he's already throws in the credibility Mueller's testimony who up until now has gotten rave reviews but --
BERMAN: So --
BERMAN: You're questioning whether or nor Robert Mueller, you know, is a respectable special counsel now?
LORD: What I'm saying is, it's very clear that James Comey admitted in his testimony that he took various actions in leaking so that he could get his friend Bob Mueller to, you know, act out. Right there, that says that there's a problem here.
BERMAN: He said he did -- he did admit that he did provide that memo to his friend because he wanted to see a special counsel appointed. He didn't use the words Bob Mueller.
LORD: Well that's right --
LORD: -- manipulating things. I mean this is -- I mean let's get beyond James Comey, I mean this is how --
BERMAN: One of the ways that pundits work occasionally is by taking leaps of logic here, and Bob Mueller, his name was not even mentioned, there was no special counsel appointed and then after the idea when Bob Mueller's name wasn't even circulated and you're saying that James Comey wanted to see Bob Mueller appointed special counsel? James Comey --
LORD: I'm simply observing the fact that by their own -- by his own definition, he's great friends with Bob Mueller, I'm simply observing that, that is a fact.
BERNSTEIN: Let's talk about what really happened here, and it was one of the most fascinating moments of Comey's testimony. He acknowledged and it was a spectacular moment, that he more or less engineered the appointment of a special prosecutor. That was his objective.
BERNSTEIN: Not necessarily Robert Mueller, and why was that his objective? Because it is obvious from his testimony he thought there was a cover-up going on. A cover-up in which the president of the United States might well and probably was involved --
(CROSSTALK) BERNSTEIN: -- let me finish, please -- from his point of view, and also the role of Jeff Sessions, he went to the attorney general, and told him about his session, keep me away from the president, et cetera. And when that failed, yes, he indeed tried to engineer getting a special prosecutor and he has succeeded. And why has he succeeded? Because there's an underlying case of the most important thing that perhaps we have faced in the nation, in the kind of attack we've never faced before and that is what Russians did to our electoral process. And we're trying to find out what happened, they are illegitimate inquiry and we have a president of the United States who has obstructed, demeaned, undermined and tried to make that investigation go away since he's been in office, and it speaks volumes. I'm not saying he's obstructed justice. We'll find that out, --
BERMAN: All right guys.
BERNSTEIN: -- but that's where we are.
[20:40:00] BERMAN: Thank you everyone. Jeff, you're going to be back with us and have a chance to respond to that. All those people who watched the Comey hearing, all 19 million of them, they have 180 degree different views that have formed of it. We're going to look at the wildly different takes on what happened. That's next.
BERMAN: So when it gets right down to it the Comey hearing is really bad for the president or it's really good? It depends who you ask and where you get your information. The president said it was a total and complete vindication for him, which technically is not true. And before that there were separate narratives going on simultaneously, we're not talking about a mild spin or slight difference of opinion, but wildly different takes that, yeah, could make you wonder if everyone was even watching the same hearing? Brian Stelter reports.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: It was a hearing seen in the eye of the beholder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A huge victory for Donald Trump today and a massive defeat for the Democrats and of course the propaganda media.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this is going to end bad.
STELTER: And, on the right, some conservatives are declaring victory and saying it's already over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Jim Comey's credibility is above zero right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, this is all pass. He can go back to doing what he promised he was going to do. There's no cloud. There's nothing getting in his way that can be obstructionist.
STELTER: Trump's son says the clouds have parted, but if you change the channel, it is stormier than ever.
[20:45:00] LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Today was, really was as, as it was predicted to be the worst day of the Trump presidency.
STELTER: It's like hearing about a different hearing.
O'DONNELL: Imagine right now at this moment, the seething rage that you know the president is living with.
STELTER: This battle of ideas is not going away. It's a "choose your own" news situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are we now? A month of shrieking (ph) hike millions of words are -- hundreds of hours of the shrillest television ever produced adds up to pretty much nothing.
STELTER: There's a split between the pro-Trump media and the mainstream media. Fox Opinion hosts are hoping for the best, while veterans of DC Scandals know there's much more to come.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have about 5 to 10 percent of the answers to the questions we need.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sort of in the middle, beginning of the middle of this process, certainly not at the end of this process.
STELTER: Contradicting Trump's son, experts are saying this is far from over.
BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS HOST: my general rule is, when things look pretty bad, from what we know, it's usually worse. This is extremely serious.
STELTER: Try telling that to Trump backers like Corey Lewandowski who claim leaks are the real story.
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, TRUMP'S FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER: What we've seen from Jim Comey is, his goal is to manipulate the media, manipulate the press. He's part to the (inaudible). Everything that's wrong in Washington.
STELTER: On Twitter, the president confirms that he's watching. Thanking Fox his conservative themed morning show for its great reporting and blasting what he calls false statements and lies from Comey.
The two men can't agree on the facts and in a polarized media world, neither can the country.
BERMAN: All right, Brian Stelter joins us now. Back with Maria Cardona and Jeffrey Lord. Brian, it's remarkable. I was at an event last night and talked to you, everyone wanted to talk about the Comey hearing, everyone wanted to talk about it, everyone watched it, not a single mind was changed by it, though, of the people that I talked to there. They went in with one idea and no matter what side they were own they came out with the -- it was the same idea.
STELTER: That's how the entire story. I was so struck by Trump's son saying it's over the clouds have parted, now my father can get along with the issues of the country. Everybody else who is not a -- kind of in the base of Trump supporters is saying something very differently saying this is just the beginning, maybe the best, the end of the beginning, and now we're entering in the middle stage of this investigation with so much more left unanswered.
BERMAN: You know, so interesting, Maria Cardona and Jeffrey Lord, we ere on TV earlier today. What's so interesting I don't doubt either of your convictions on this or your sincerity that you believe that this was good for your perspective side. Jeffrey Lord, you think this was good for the president. Maria Cardona, you think this was horrible for the president. I don't doubt that for a second, yet we all watched the same hearing, so I'm going to try as an academic exercise to get you to agree on some points here, let's try.
Maria Cardona, do you agree that James Comey made crystal clear that while he was the FBI director, Donald Trump was not under investigation?
MARIA CARDONA, 2008 SENIOR CAMPAIGN ADVISER TO HILLARY CLINTON: Yes, and I even said that this morning, I believe.
CARDONA: But here's the problem, he also went on to make crystal clear that the behavior of Donald Trump, whether you call it inappropriate, whether it's going to come up as obstruction of justice, that he has engaged in up until now has now led to the appointment of a special counsel, and when Comey was asked whether he believes that there was obstruction of justice, smartly so, he said that's not up to me, that is something that I am sure the special counsel will be looking into. He said I am sure the special counsel will be looking into. That means that Donald Trump will be under investigation for obstruction of justice.
BERMAN: We will see. That was a yes, but, answer to my question. We'll see Jeffrey Lord if we can get that from you, Maria Cardona concedes that James Comey admitted that Donald Trump was not under investigation while he was the FBI director. Do you concede that the former FBI director basically said that the president of the United States lied or was dishonest in varying degrees five times? James Comey said that, now you may not agree with his opinion but do you agree that he said that?
LORD: Oh, I agree that he said it, absolutely he said it. But, you know, I'm glad that Brian is here. Let me just call something in --
STELTER: Oh oh.
LORD: -- we're talking about obstruction of justice. On April 10 of 2016, Pres. Obama was in an interview with Fox's Chris Wallace and he was talking about Hillary Clinton's e-mails and he used the words careless or some version of that, and careless or carelessness and intentional. Well, you move ahead three months later and there is James Comey using exactly the same phrases in his press conference.
[20:50:02] Now, what do we know from the testimony yesterday? That James Comey says that the attorney general of the United States said to him he was not to use the word investigation. He was to use the word matter when investigating -- when talking about the Clinton e- mail situation.
BERMAN: I will say --
LORD: My point here is -- my point here is the story is that Pres. Obama could well be accused of obstruction of justice along with --
CARDONA: Oh, come on. Come on, Jeffrey.
LORD: -- do we, Maria.
CARDONA: Desperation on your part, my friend.
BERMAN: Go ahead Brian.
STELTER: You know, folks like you Jeff only want to talk about Clinton because it's more convenient and comfortable and folks like Maria only want to talk about Trump. What's that?
LORD: I want a single standard for everybody.
BERMAN: Well, look, the testimony yesterday was James Comey talking about his relationship with Pres. Trump. So that was the standard. That would be the single standard I think that everyone was looking at this hearing for. But we appreciate you being with us, Jeffrey Lord, Maria Cardona, Brian Stelter, thank you very much.
As we mentioned, it is unclear whether the president has recordings of conversations that he had with James Comey. But plenty of other presidents have had an open mic. We'll look at that next.
[20:55:05] BERMAN: Our breaking news, the House Intelligence Committee asked fired FBI Director James Comey for copies of his memos. They've also asked the White House for any record, including audiotapes of the meetings. When asked about potential tapes today the president promised more information in the very near future. And he gave a cryptic answer when asked for more details. Now there's a history of White House recordings going back decades. Brian Todd reports.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: White House taping systems have throughout the decades been known to exist, quietly recording the color and at times the most explosive points of the executive branch. From Pres. John F. Kennedy captured here discussing the Cuban missing crisis.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: -- which leaves only one alternative, which is to fire nuclear weapon which is a hell of alternative.
TODD: The president, Lyndon B. Johnson, ordering pants.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Is your father the one who makes clothes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
JOHNSON: You all made me some real lightweight slacks.
TODD: But the most infamous and damming iteration of any White House taping system was during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon.
RICHARD M. NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, no, no, no -- I'd rather use a nuclear bomb.
TODD: Nixon began secretly taping conversations and telephone calls in multiple locations of the White House in 1971, including the Oval Office.
NIXON: We're up against an enemy conspiracy. They're using any means. We are going to use any means, is that clear?
TODD: Time and time again, the president's words were clear.
NIXON: I want the Brookings safe cleaned out, and have it cleaned out in a way that makes somebody else look bad.
TODD: The president was acting like he had absolute power.
NIXON: That's going to be fun. Cover him around the cock every place he goes. We just might get lucky and catch this son of a -- and ruin him for 76.
TODD: Even the president's own family was taped.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have for you sir.
JULIE NIXON, RICHARD NIXON'S DAUGHTER: Hi daddy!
TODD: But it was among Nixon's recordings one night in 1972, one week after the Watergate breakup that prove to be the smoking gun.
NIXON: Good. Good deal! Play it tough. That's the way they played it, and that's the way we're going to play it.
TODD: Nixon did everything he could to fend off the investigation.
NIXON: People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook.
TODD: But the taping system became public when deputy assistant to the president Alexander Butterfield confirmed its existence before the Senate Watergate Committee. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Butterfield are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?
ALEXANDER BUTTERFIELD, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: I was aware of listening devices, yes, sir.
TODD: The tapes ultimately led to Nixon's resignation to avoid impeachment.
NIXON: America needs a full-time president.
TODD: When asked by ABC's Barbara Walters in 1980 why he didn't destroy the tapes, Nixon had this to say.
BARBARA WALTERS, ABC HOST: Are you sorry you didn't burn the tapes?
NIXON: Yes. I think so, because they were private conversations subject to misinterpretation as we have all seen.
TODD: Brian Todd CNN Washington.
BERMAN: President Trump says we'll find out if he has taped in the very near future.
Up the next, the latest on the deadline for the White House to hand over those tapes if they exist, a meeting with James Comey. Our legal panel weighs in on all of it when 360 continues.