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Trump Says Special Counsel Probe Hurts Country; Joe Lieberman Front-Runner for FBI Director. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 18, 2017 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:01]

PHILIP MCNAMARA, FORMER DHS OFFICIAL: Build relationships with elected officials, with policy-makers on both sides of the aisle.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Sure.

MCNAMARA: And that meant that, you know, we had to work as well with Texas Governor Abbott as we did with New York Governor Cuomo. Right? They were equally important to us. And...

BALDWIN: Sure. I -- no, I got -- I got you.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Forgive me, because we need to start the next hour.

MCNAMARA: Sure. Yes.

BALDWIN: But I hear you and understanding exactly the scope of your job, how you feel, how you hope he doesn't get your job. We will just all wait and see what the secretary of homeland security says. Maybe we will talk again.

Phil McNamara, thank you.

MCNAMARA: Thank you so much, Brooke.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: All right. Here we are, continuing on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

More breaking news today, two major live events happening this hour, one, live pictures there at the West Wing. The president will be speaking from the White House for the very first time since news broke that a special counsel will now investigate whether his campaign had ties to Russia. So we're watching and waiting for that. He's doing that with the Colombian president.

Meantime, on Capitol Hill -- and you see the microphones set up -- we're hoping to hear from some of those senators. The man who appointed Robert Mueller to spearhead this independent investigation is the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. And he is briefing all 100 senators in a closed-door meeting as I speak. And he is expected to reveal what he knows about why President Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey.

But, first, let's get to some more breaking news, because sources are telling CNN that former Senator Joe Lieberman is the front-runner to replace Comey as FBI director.

So, let's begin there with our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, and Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill.

Jeff Zeleny, first to you. What are we hearing from these senior administration sources on the president's thoughts on Senator Lieberman?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we do know that the president would like to name an FBI director before he leaves Washington, which is exactly in about 24 hours or so. So, we are learning from several sources that Joe Lieberman is right now, at the moment at least, the leading contender for this position.

Now, it was less than 24 hours ago, just at the end of the day yesterday, where Senator Lieberman was here at the White House having an interview, his first and only interview with the president on this.

And Mr. Lieberman said himself that this came out of the blue. He was somewhat shocked to be approached about this, but indeed he was. So, look, this is someone who, if nominated, would likely be confirmed because of his long relationships with senators on both sides of the aisle.

But it is interesting to point out the president said he wants to get this done, but he wanted initially to name John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate. Manu Raju and I reported this yesterday, that this was the president's top choice for this.

So, Senator Lieberman would be sort of the second, but that does not, you know, discount this at all. But the president is eager to get this done. But now, with a special counsel hanging over this, Brooke, it changes everything in terms of the FBI, the Russia investigation, et cetera.

But expect the president to be asked about this, this afternoon when he has that news conference in a short time in the East Room.

BALDWIN: We will listen in live this hour. Jeff, thank you.

On down the other side of Constitution Avenue, we have you, Phil, covering this Rod Rosenstein closed-door meeting. What are some of the questions? He's been talking -- he will be talking to the full Senate. What are some of the questions you think that will be asked of him today?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, I think you have hit on the key element. Right? I think senators -- and this isn't just a Democrat thing. This is a

bipartisan thing. Senators want answers to what exactly happened in the lead-up to the firing of Jim Comey. Obviously, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, was the one who drafted the three-page memo that essentially gave the rationale for why James Comey deserved should be fired.

Now, he didn't explicitly recommend that. And that was the three-page memo that White House official after White House official after White House official cited for the rationale for his firing.

Also, Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly cited that as the reason for his firing. And then you had the president come out a day later and say, no, I was actually going to fire him the entire time.

So, I think there's a lot of questions now. Was the White House influence exerted on that process? Why did that actually occur? But also another thing that I have picked up, Brooke, just in the last hour or so, when Rod Rosenstein walked in, he did not respond to questions that were shouted at him. And he's not expected to speak to the press at all.

But Democratic senators are concerned. You have noted a couple times the president's tweets this morning about this investigation, calling it a witch-hunt. They want to make sure that Robert Mueller, who is well-respected on a bipartisan basis, will have the autonomy he needs to conduct this investigation.

Now, as a special counsel, he is supposed to have that autonomy. He will staff it himself. He will have the resources. But they want to make sure, because this is more or less housed inside the Justice Department, that nobody from the Trump administration will have oversight on that.

So, that's something I have picked up as a key question, a key commitment they want answers to at this briefing. But I do think, as we have all been paying attention to bombshell after bombshell after bombshell the last 10 days, how the Comey firing happened and what the White House and president's role in it, that is kind of question one, two, three, and four right now.

[15:05:23]

BALDWIN: Well, we know that there are two and two questions that will be asked of the presidents. We just saw the Colombian president arrive there at the White House, with President Trump welcoming him.

And so, as Jeff mentioned, that news conference will happen. They will get some questions. We will wait and see if any of those pressing questions are asked of President Trump.

Guys, thank you both so very much.

Let's have a bigger conversation about really all of the above today.

I have CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali, who is the founding director of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Also with us, CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein of the fame Woodward and Bernstein, the journalists who broke open the Watergate story for "The Washington Post."

So, Carl, let me begin with you on the news that it sounds like Senator Joe Lieberman could be it, could be the pick for the FBI director. Your thoughts?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it's possible to be a bit cynical about the choice, for the following reasons.

Lieberman is someone that Trump likes. Jeff Sessions likes Joe Lieberman. They know each other. He comes from a law firm that has done work for the president of the United States in his private life.

It's clear that this president wants to hold on to as much influence and control and affect the investigations to whatever degree that he can. There has been a cover-up that's been going on. Doesn't mean he's obstructed justice, but there's no question that there's been a cover-up going on, in which the president of the United States has tried to impede, obstruct, demean legitimate investigation.

And now I cannot imagine he doesn't want to continue to have whatever influence and contact with the investigation he possibly can. And perhaps he is thinking and Sessions is thinking that, at least with Joe Lieberman, it's a somewhat friendly figure who would be the head of the FBI.

But, also, Joe Lieberman is someone with a really distinguished record as a member of Congress. He was the vice presidential nominee of his party when he was a Democrat. Another reason I think he's viewed favorably by the White House is that he did become an independent, he did move away from the Democratic Party.

But I also don't want to be too cynical about this, because I cannot imagine that Lieberman, if he were in that job, would not take it seriously and go for the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, and particularly with Robert Mueller as the head of the investigation, as the special counsel.

And what has really happened here is that Rod Rosenstein has thrown a monkey wrench into this cover-up and into the ability of the Trump White House to stonewall and put impediments in the way of the investigation. So, we have a whole new situation.

BALDWIN: Let me get to that monkey wrench in a second. Let me get to that monkey wrench in a second, Carl.

But, Tim, I want your 2 cents. As Carl appropriately points out, Senator Lieberman was a Democrat. That's great for bipartisan support.

But, listen, the president needs to shore up support in his own party. It doesn't hurt that he's close friends with the likes of Senators McCain and Senator Graham?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I learned a long time ago never to second-guess Carl Bernstein's political instincts.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Smart man.

NAFTALI: But one of the things we have seen is that presidents often make choices thinking they have found a friend, or a White House would do that.

I mean, Leon Jaworski was the man chosen to replace Archibald Cox. The assumption was, this Southern Democrat, he's not going to ask the kinds of questions...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Oh, but he did.

NAFTALI: But he did.

BALDWIN: Yes.

NAFTALI: I don't know Senator Lieberman, but I suspect a man who wanted to be vice president of the United States, came very close to being vice president of the United States, would have the bigger picture in mind and would see the opportunity to be remembered for getting to the bottom of a scandal that isn't just, which is big enough, a domestic scandal political scandal, but this is one with international implications.

You get Lieberman, a man with respect on both sides of the aisle, you couple that with Mueller, a man who also enjoys professional and bipartisan support, and you have the likely scenario for a deep, serious investigation of the Russia hacking and possible collusion scandal.

BALDWIN: Point taken.

Carl, back to your monkey wrench point, Rod Rosenstein, he's the guy who is the deputy attorney general. He's behind closed doors right now answering questions with the full U.S. Senate. He is also the reason why the president is irked today, because he is the one who appointed Bob Mueller as this special counsel.

The president has responded. We can throw the tweet out. There were two tweets this morning, one ultimately from the president, saying this is like this massive political witch-hunt.

[15:10:06]

How hopeful are you, sir, that the president will comply with Mr. Mueller and this investigation?

BERNSTEIN: I don't think it's about being hopeful.

I think it's a question of whether the president of the United States has the ability to understand what is really going on around him. One of the things that we have seen and we're hearing from Republicans on Capitol Hill is, there's real question among some of them in private about his fitness to be president of the United States, that these tweets, including the one from today, are indicative of a lack of understanding about what the office of the presidency is, about our history, about what the witch-hunts in this country have really been about, that the president of the United States has shown himself to be of a singular out-of-synch person in terms of the occupants of this office.

I don't know how else to put it. And that's what is striking more and more Republicans as they watch his handling of these events. The question of collusion with the Russians -- and I think Tim's analysis, incidentally, about Lieberman, his optimistic analysis, is absolutely very smart, and particularly as well because Lieberman has shown such disdain for the Soviet Union, for Putin, for the Russians.

And he has a great understanding of their playing in world politics and their desire to destabilize the United States and probably our elections. And what we have seen is the president himself dismisses the unanimous view of the Intelligence Committee -- community that the Russians really, seriously tried to destabilize our elections.

He gives lip service to it every now and then, and then he goes back to being a victim, as he expressed himself in his tweet today. So, we have two things happening simultaneously.

What Mueller is going to do is follow the law and see whether or not the president and those around him have colluded with the Russians in any way, but more than that, he's going to take a look unquestionably at the Trump finances, at the Trump family finances, the Trump Organization finances...

BALDWIN: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: ... because so much of that is related to Russian money, according to Trump's own sons and according to the money that other investigators have followed.

BALDWIN: Carl, you said a word a minute ago. You said the president feels like the victim.

And it does. It's evident in some of his tweets. But these are self- inflicted wounds. And I'm looking at the two of you, and we have been talking a lot about Watergate.

But, Tim, let's bring up Whitewater. Whitewater was something that started as this land purchase in Arkansas that mushroomed into what we now know as the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

NAFTALI: Yes, right.

BALDWIN: And I can't help but wonder, is this something, in the back of President Trump's head, right, and he's thinking, well, that's what happened there -- maybe this is part of the reason why he's tweeting the way he is. NAFTALI: Except he tweeted that there wasn't a special counsel during

the Clinton period. And he completely was telling us he completely forgot that the entire Clinton administration was one long investigation.

(CROSSTALK)

NAFTALI: I think, to the extent that any of us could get into the back or even the front of the president's head, or mine, I suspect that the president realizes that the selection of Robert Mueller is a big problem for him, because this is not someone who is going to respond to his charms.

This is a man whose reputation rests on the fact that he follows data wherever it goes.

BALDWIN: OK.

Gentlemen, we have got to break away from both of you.

BERNSTEIN: Can I add -- can I add one...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Hang on. Hang on. Carl, forgive me. I never like cutting Carl Bernstein off, never, ever.

BERNSTEIN: That's all right. Not to worry. There will be another...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: But I have got -- there will be indeed.

Thank you both.

I have got some breaking news, because Wolf Blitzer is now standing in front of a camera, I'm told, because he's just met with the president of the United States.

There you are at the White House.

Wolf, what -- what did he share?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we had an extensive luncheon, network anchors, with the president.

But one part of that exchange that we had with the president dealt with his reaction to this decision for a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to take change of the entire Russia investigation and related aspects of that.

And the president did offer us an on-the-record off-camera statement about that, how worried he is about this decision, because he believes it hurts America.

And let me read to you the entire statement. This is on-the-record from the president of the United States about this appointment of a special counsel -- quote -- "I believe it hurts our country terribly because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country. And we have very important things to be doing right now, whether it's trade deals, whether it's military, whether it's stopping nuclear, all of the things that we discussed today. And I think this shows a very divided country."

[15:15:20]

The president then added this, giving us his on-the-record reaction to this decision -- quote -- "It also happens to be a pure excuse for the Democrats, having lost an election that they should have easily won because of the Electoral College being slanted so much in their way. That's all this is. I think it shows division. And it shows that we're not together as a country. And I think it's a very, very negative thing. And, hopefully, this can go quickly, because we have to show unity if we're going to do great things with respect to the rest of the world."

That on-the-record statement, at length, giving us his reaction, a very angry reaction to this decision, which clearly took him by surprise, to go ahead with a special counsel named by the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein -- that's his reaction, a very strong reaction.

He says, "I believe it hurts our country terribly because it shows we're divided, mixed-up, not-unified country" -- that statement, Brooke, from the president of the United States.

BALDWIN: Wow.

So, he takes you back to the election and says it's an excuse for the Democrats having lost, and says the special counsel hurts the country.

What else, Wolf? What else can you share about this meeting?

BLITZER: Well, you know, most of the meeting was on background, and a lot of it was what we call off-the-record.

I have been coming to the White House for meetings like this, luncheons, with presidents of the United States for many years, and very often, they feel much more comfortable speaking either off-the- record with network anchors or on background.

One thing I did learn -- and I think this is significant -- the first stop on his trip -- he leaves tomorrow for Saudi Arabia -- we did learn from U.S. officials during the -- during this luncheon that an important agreement will be signed with Saudi Arabia. That's the first stop on the trip.

It calls for the Saudis over the next 10 years to purchase $350 billion, billion, worth of U.S. military equipment, over the next year alone, $109 billion or...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Excuse me, Wolf.

Let me go to Senator Lindsey Graham. Let me come back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right.

BALDWIN: Lindsey Graham out of this Rosenstein hearing.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's now considered a criminal investigation. And Congress' ability to conduct investigations of all things Russia has been severely limited, probably in an appropriate fashion.

So I think a lot of members want the special counsel to be appointed, but don't understand that it's -- you're pretty well knocked out of the game.

And that's probably the way it should be. It was a counterintelligence investigation before now. It seems to me now to be considered a criminal investigation. And what does that mean for the Congress?

I find it hard to subpoena records of somebody like Mr. Flynn who may be subject to a criminal investigation, because he has a right not to incriminate himself.

As to Mr. Comey, the former director of the FBI coming before the committee, if I were Mr. Mueller, I would jealously guard the witness pool. So, one of the big losers in this decision is the public. We had a really good hearing with Yates and Clapper where the public could hear what happened with Ms. Yates and Mr. Clapper.

I think that opportunity has been lost, maybe for the greater good, but there are a lot of people in that room who are shocked that, when a special counsel has been appointed, that Congress has limitations on what we can do.

So, I have always believed that a counterintelligence investigation did not need a special prosecutor or counsel. A criminal investigation might. The deputy attorney general decided to appoint a special counsel.

And one of the results of that, the ability of Congress to call people who may be witnesses in an investigation conducted by Mr. Mueller is going to severely restrict what we can do.

QUESTION: Did the deputy attorney general confirm that it's now a criminal investigation?

GRAHAM: I never got to ask my question specifically about that.

But the takeaway I have is that everything he said was that you need to treat this investigation as if it may be a criminal investigation. So, I think the biggest legal change seems to be that Mr. Mueller is going to proceed forward with the idea of a criminal investigation vs. a counterintelligence investigation.

There was no facts laid out as to why you would change that, but appointing a special counsel has created, I think, a dynamic for Congress that's going to have to be very leery of crossing into Mr. Mueller's lane, because of the possibility of a criminal investigation.

(CROSSTALK)

[15:20:05]

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... mean that you won't -- the Judiciary Committee won't be able to get memos that were requested yesterday?

GRAHAM: I think Mr. Mueller will tell us what we can get and what we can't.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: So, the upshot, Senator, is that your investigation is going to be put on a back-burner.

And while you were inside, you may not have heard that Joe Lieberman's name has now emerged as a top contender for FBI director.

GRAHAM: Good choice.

QUESTION: What's your reaction to that?

GRAHAM: Well, one of the winners of this decision of appointing a special counsel is the new FBI director, because they don't have to deal with this.

I think Joe Lieberman is a pillar of credibility. And I think he'd be a good choice.

But now we have a special counsel, the FBI director does not have to worry about riding herd over an investigation of the man who appointed him.

So, I think it changes...

QUESTION: So, this takes care of your concerns that you enunciated...

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: Yes. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: The president just said that having a special counsel hurts our country terribly.

GRAHAM: Well, he's entitled to his opinion. I would suggest to the president that one has been appointed, honor

that decision, cooperate where is appropriate, fight back when you have legal ability to do so.

I have been through this once before with the Clinton administration. Clinton hired an individual lawyer to deal with all things related to Ken Starr, so the White House could conduct its business.

If I were the president, I would focus on defending the nation and trying to get his legislative agenda through the Congress.

One of the side benefits of this is that now Congress has been pretty much sidelined, not completely, but pretty much. And we can go back to dealing with legislative matters that affect the American people.

So, the bottom line here is, the president may not have liked this decision. It was made. I have questions about it. I honor it. You couldn't have picked a better man to do the job.

And I think most people in that meeting are generally OK with the idea of a special counsel. But what they don't quite understand yet is I think this has really limited what Congress can do.

I find it hard -- I would be reluctant to subpoena someone or a document in their possession if I truly believed they may be subject to a criminal investigation. That's not fair to them.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Did you get a satisfactory explanation as to -- from Rosenstein about why Comey was fired?

GRAHAM: I think Mr. Rosenstein viewed the whole process as something Mr. Mueller will speak on, not him.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the answers you received about the firing of former FBI Director Comey?

GRAHAM: Mr. Rosenstein talked about why he voted -- wrote the memo, the fact that he believed that what the FBI director did in July was inappropriate, that he stepped out of his lane.

QUESTION: Senator, was he tasked to write that memo?

GRAHAM: He did not -- I will let you ask him that question.

Now that we have a special counsel about all things related to the process of the memo, I think we will -- you will need to talk to Mr. Mueller about.

I have got to go.

QUESTION: All right, thank you very much, Senator.

BALDWIN: All right, Senator Lindsey Graham clearing the path away from all of those reporter who have lots and lot of questions.

So, there's just been this closed-door meeting with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who is the person who appointed the FBI Director Robert Mueller to be the special counsel in this Russia probe.

And so, Carl Bernstein, Tim Naftali, you guys are both still with me.

Carl, to me, the headline out of that is that Senator Graham said it seems no longer will this probe be seen as counterintelligence, but as a criminal investigation. That seems significant to me.

Your take?

BERNSTEIN: I think that's absolutely right, that the gravity of the criminal investigation has now taken precedence over a public, more public investigation by the Congress of the United States.

But I think we ought to look at this in terms also of what the president of the United States said to the anchors, including Wolf Blitzer, which was extraordinary, that looking at a legitimate investigation as evidence of a divided country and a kind of sadness, without, once again, taking into consideration what apparently has occurred with the Russians and their attempt to destabilize American elections, and whether people around President Trump or perhaps President Trump himself were involved, which is partly what this criminal investigation is going to be about.

But an important part here about both Mueller and Lieberman, and that is, we talked earlier about fishing expeditions such as the Whitewater investigation that led to Monica Lewinsky.

One of the things you have with Mueller is an understanding of how some special prosecutors have abused their authority. I don't think there's a chance in hell that we're going to see Mueller abuse his authority with a fishing expedition, nor would Joe Lieberman go there, that, yes, are we going to see them perhaps look at Donald Trump's finances and do forensics on his business ties and whether there is something that needs investigation there that might have to do with something that happened with the Russians?

[15:25:00]

Yes. But is he going to allow this thing to go all kinds of latitude that is nothing but inappropriate fishing? Not going to happen. And I think president of the United States, instead of feeling sorry for himself, ought to feel confident, if the facts are as he maintains and that there's no there there.

BALDWIN: Again, if you're joining us, the breaking news, we're -- this is the stakeout microphones, waiting to hear from U.S. senators, as this Rosenstein testimony has been going on in front of the full U.S. Senate, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican there, just basically saying it appears to him that this probe is now a criminal investigation.

Here's more senators. Let's listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: ... concerning Comey's dismissal, because he's anxious to give wide latitude to Robert Mueller to make a determination as where his investigation should go and what it should include.

As a former prosecutor, I respect that decision. He did acknowledge that he learned that Comey would be removed prior to him writing his memo.

QUESTION: Say that again? He what?

MCCASKILL: He knew that Comey was going to be removed prior to him writing his memo.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Senator, Joe Lieberman has been now -- emerged as a top candidate for FBI director. Would you be receptive to that nomination?

MCCASKILL: I think it's a mistake to nominate anyone who has ever run for office.

I'm somebody who spent a lot of time in law enforcement. This is a moment where we need a law enforcement professional that has never campaigned for a presidential candidate, never campaigned for office, never worn a party label to head the FBI.

QUESTION: What is your takeaway from the revelation that he knew Director Comey was going to be fired, regardless of what his recommendation was going to be?

MCCASKILL: Well, I think the facts speak for themselves. And I'm going to not comment any further, because we still don't have all the facts. We don't have the documents. We don't have sworn testimony.

But he was very careful about not going into any details surrounding the removal, because he wants to give Robert Mueller the opportunity to make his independent decision as to where the investigation is going to go.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: What does it mean for the congressional investigations? Do they now take a back-burner, Senator?

MCCASKILL: Well, there were a lot of questions about him cooperating with the congressional investigations, once again with the caveat that he's no longer in charge and that he wants to give Robert Mueller the opportunity to deconflict with the committees of jurisdiction...

(CROSSTALK)

MCCASKILL: ... conducting the investigations.

I think that he generally, obviously, expressed a desire to cooperate with congressional investigations.

QUESTION: Senator Lindsey Graham has just told us that, based on the briefing, this investigation has crossed, he thinks, an important thresholds from a C.I. case to a criminal case, and that this may in fact limit Congress' ability to get evidence and bring in witnesses to testify.

MCCASKILL: Well, Lindsey is a former prosecutor also, and I will let Lindsey's comments speak for themselves.

What I sensed from him was an overarching desire to make sure Robert Mueller had complete discretion to take the investigation where he thought it needed to go.

Thank you.

BALDWIN: OK, so, another major piece of news there from Senator Claire McCaskill, essentially saying to reporters that Rod Rosenstein told these senators in this closed-door meeting that he learned that the then FBI Director James Comey would be removed prior to Rosenstein's writing the letter to recommend the removal.

All right, so, Carl Bernstein, how does that jibe with all of what we heard from the White House, and then later we heard from President Trump in the interview with Lester Holt on NBC , saying, no, no, no, I didn't listen to anyone's recommendation, I wanted to do this for quite a while?

BERNSTEIN: Well, I think it's been evident for quite some time that the president, as well as Jeff Sessions, wanted to use Rosenstein as someone with credibility and as window dressing for a decision that had already been made, and which, in fact, as we now see, with Mueller's investigation, the decision itself to fire Comey could be part of an investigation into whether the president of the United States obstructed justice.

We don't know that's the case, but it certainly is something that may be suggested in all of this. And we know from some things that have been said by Rosenstein in private to people on Capitol Hill that he felt used and abused...

BALDWIN: Thrown under the bus.

BERNSTEIN: ... by -- by what happened in his letter being used to justify what had already occurred, in other words, that he was hung out to dry, perhaps, by the president of the United States and Jeff Sessions.

And let me say one other thing about Jeff Sessions here.

BALDWIN: Sure.

BERNSTEIN: There is a possibility -- and I don't want to suggest that I know this is the case, but, certainly, there is the possibility that Jeff Sessions could be one of those who is being looked at or may be looked at as part of this criminal investigation.

It doesn't mean he's done anything illegal or that he's the focus of anything. But he was the head of national security matters for the Trump campaign. And that may or may not figure in part of the FBI's investigation. And we should keep it in mind.

And I don't want to cast any aspersions, only to say that it's relevant --