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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
James Comey's Testimony Released; U.K. General Election Campaign Enters Final Hours; Egyptian Billionaire Calls for Disinvestment from Qatar; Security Concerns Dominate on Eve of U.K. Vote. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired June 7, 2017 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: Closing bell on Wall Street is ringing. Can't really hear the bell, but they're going to hit the gavel.
What on earth is actually taking place on Wall Street. Come along it's -- top of the hour has gone. Not sure with happening. Oh, there we go. Live
for CV Brokerage on the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones has marginally changed on the day. It is Wednesday. It's June the 7th.
The opening statement of fired FBI director, James Comey, reveals what he's going to tell Congress about his deals with President Trump.
It's the final push. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn crisscrossed the U.K. to shore up the support ahead of tomorrow's general election.
And caught in the middle, as Qatar's diplomatic conflict intensifies, an Egyptian billionaire urges his countrymen to pull their business. I'm
Richard Quest today in London, where of course I mean business.
Good evening tonight we get a glimpse into the testimony that James Coleman is going to give ahead of one of the most anticipated political events in
recent history. Before the FBI director is to go into great detail about his conversations with President Donald Trump.
This is what we've heard from the report or at least the prepared notes so far. In January, Trump told Comey, "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty."
In return, Comey says there was an awkward silence. He promised only honesty. The President took that as meaning, honest loyalty.
In February, Donald Trump asked about Michael Flynn and the investigation, saying, "I hope you can let this go." Comey refused to say that he would.
In March, the President asked about the Russia probe. He wanted Comey to lift the cloud and say Trump wasn't under investigation.
Mark Preston is in Washington. Mark, we have heard pretty much all these statements, suggestion, what Comey said, what he believed, what he had
written before. But there was something stark about the man himself releasing his statement and testimony in which he gives chapter and verse.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, no doubt. And of course, he released it about 24 hours before he's actually going to deliver those
remarks himself. And I think that the power fullness of just hearing him say those words will all take it to another dimension. But this testimony
was released shortly after he saw current Trump administration officials testify on Capitol Hill and not answer specific questions about whether or
not they were asked to try to, A, either water down the investigation that director Comey was doing. Looking into Russia specifically, and into
General Flynn. But also, to perhaps even just undercut it. We did not hear that today.
Then we saw Comey come out and release these remarks. Now, when we hear these, I'm guaranteeing you, Richard, they will echo around the world.
Specifically, as you pointed out, the loyalty pledge that in itself is troubling. But the question was there obstruction of justice on behalf of
the president when he asked the FBI director to end the investigation into his former NSA director.
QUEST: OK. Now, and this idea that the FBI director at one point did not -- made it clear to the Attorney General he did not want to be left alone
with the President and that he was aware -- I mean, whether or not the president was putting unfair pressure on or undue pressure, whatever
construction you may put on it, the clearly recognized, acceptable protocol for dealing with White House, FBI, and Justice Department was being thrown
-- was being thrown out of the window.
PRESTON: No question. In fact, Comey said he had only met with President Barack Obama on two occasions. One of those occasions was his goodbye.
Was President Obama's leaving his role as president of the United States. He had met multiple times earlier in person or on the telephone with
President Trump. Here in the United States, Richard, as you said I both know, and other viewers I'm sure are aware, but just to reinforce it, there
is an separation here in the U.S. between the justice system and the executive branch.
[16:05:05] Even though the Justice Department is underneath President Trump, when it comes to investigations, when it comes to his top law
enforcement officials, there is really is a wall that's put up between them and clearly Donald Trump didn't believe that wall should exist.
QUEST: OK. Now, let me just put the other side of the view to you here, Mark, because obviously there will be an argument that is put that says,
look, Donald Trump, new in the White House. Yes, he sort of new. But he's a businessman, and businessmen sort of say, hey, listen, if you can do
something, find. If you can't, not to worry, but it would be great if you would. And that's the way the business world goes. And that's all Donald
Trump was doing. He was merely doing a business. If it happened, it did. If it didn't, so be it. Why does that argument or that explanation not
PRESTON: It certainly doesn't hold water for me and for you and for many others but what it does hold water for is for his supporters. The bottom
line is you are the president of the United States. You're the leader of the free world. Everything that you say can either move markets, can move
armies, could cause invasions of countries, could blow diplomacy, can create diplomacy. Everything that you do affects everyone else in the
When Donald Trump goes into office, even if he doesn't understand the protocols, you need to surround yourself with those people who do. Who
guide you through the process. President Trump has failed to do so. He has really surrounded himself with loyalists who aren't necessarily well
schooled in government or in diplomacy. And we've seen it on the world stage talking to our allies and were seeing it here with Donald Trump not
following the norms of protocol when dealing with his own administration.
QUEST: Good to see you, Sir, thank you for your putting it into context for us. Much appreciated it.
Now, on the eve of that testimony, America's intelligent chiefs got a grilling when they refused to discuss any private conversations they had
with the president. The director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, the NSA director, Mike Rogers, wouldn't say on the record if Mr. Trump asked
them to downplay the Russia investigation.
ADMIRAL MICHAEL ROGERS, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY DIRECTOR: To the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be
illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.
DANIEL COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: For intelligence related matters, or any other matters that have been discussed, it is my belief
that it's inappropriate for me to share that with the public.
I have never been pressured. I've never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in
relationship to an ongoing investigation.
ANGUS KING, INDEPENDENT SENATOR, MAINE: Why are you not answering these questions? Is there an invocation by the president of the United States of
executive privilege? Is there or not?
ROGERS: Not that I'm aware of.
KING: Then why are you not answering the questions?
ROGERS: Because I feel it is inappropriate. KING: What is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee?
COATS: I'm not sure I have a legal basis.
QUEST: Fairly blunt stuff. And yet amid all of these hearings, the president announces his choice to replace Comey as FBI director. He's
Christopher Wray. The man he's picked and Wray previously worked at the Department of Justice where he oversaw cases including the N1 scandal.
Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill for us tonight. This was blockbuster stuff. Not only do you have the Comey statement, which will obviously be read
tomorrow, but you have this testimony where they are refusing to say what was said, even though executive privilege has not been invoked in any
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And you know, Richard, I think what you saw from this panel of senators was a
general sense of frustration. Not just from the Democrats, but from the Republicans as well. There were Republicans on this committee that really
wanted to just put a rest this conversation about exactly what Donald Trump try to do, and when he tried to do it. And Marco Rubio you saw a
repeatedly asking over and over again, can you just tell us whether or not you had this conversation with the president. And both Coats and Mike
Rogers refused to say whether or not they did.
You got the sense that both Coats and Rogers had hoped that if they just said that they never felt pressured, that they never felt that they did was
illegal or immoral, that that would've been enough to satisfy this panel. But clearly, they wanted to know if these conversations ever took place and
both Coats and Rogers refused to say one way or the other despite the fact -- as you saw in that clip that you played by the questioning by Angus King
-- they were asked over and over again if there was anything legally preventing them to do so and they couldn't offer that up.
QUEST: OK, so, best the process side of it, Ryan, in terms of what your legal authority for not answering the question. But what is it that the
committee is trying to get to the bottom of? Because in all of this, you know, the debate is now turned into one of process and procedure, rather
than substance. And one is apt to forget what it is that they're supposed to have done or may not have done.
[16:10:14] NOBLES: Richard, you raise a great point. And at the end of the day, this is a legal question. It's not a political one. And if the
president was engaged in something that rises to the level of impeachment or obstruction of justice, there will be -- it will be necessary for there
to be some sort of legal standing for them to proceed. You know, certainly they can get enough votes politically in the House of Representatives to
impeach the president, but then it would have to come over to the Senate for a formal hearing and that would require some sort of legal standard.
When you talk about setting up this process, this is a process of creating enough evidence to then come to the conclusion whether or not something
illegal was done here. The most obvious being the obstruction of justice. So that's exactly what they're trying to establish here.
QUEST: Now, finally tomorrow -- and I won't hold you to this afterwards -- but tomorrow, is it you're feeling that Comey has done his bit. This
statement is as titillating-ly exciting, as important, as deep as it's going to get.
NOBLES: Yes, I really believe from what we been able to see at this point, Richard, one of the reasons that the former FBI director put out this
opening statement ahead of time was because he's hoping to answer as many possible questions as he can with this seven-page opening statement. And I
don't know if he's going to get into much more after that. You know, it remains to be seen. He's a private citizen now. He's not shackled, so to
speak, by the confines of government. So theoretically, he can go down a number of different roads.
But I'm not sure what more he could reveal past what he revealed in this real bombshell seven-page statement. But that remains to be seen. You
know, we have some shrewd people asking questions on the Senate intelligence committee, many of them lawyers. So, there may be something
specific that they're looking for, as we talked about before, to add to this investigation as to whether or not there's something illegal done
here. To your point, I think it's quite possible that the biggest headlines came out today.
QUEST: Good to see you, sir. Thank you.
NOBLES: Thank you.
QUEST: Ryan Nobles joining me from Capitol Hill. And as I was going to say, obviously, as you would expect will be bringing you James Comey's
testimony before that Senate intelligence committee. Our special coverage begins at 12 p.m. in London. That's 3 p.m. in Abu Dhabi.
As we continue tonight, terror in Tehran, is the Iranian capital, has been hit by two attacks claimed by ISIS. It's a first for the terror group.
And the campaign is just about over on the Eve of the British election. Theresa May hangs on to her lead just about. This time tomorrow there will
be barely 50 minutes left of campaigning before the polls close.
[16:15:00] QUEST: This time tomorrow it'll be just 45 minutes left of voting to take place. The polls will barely be open in the United Kingdom.
They close at 10 o'clock. And is a general election that won't seem like a foregone conclusion. There is still uncertainty, maybe not about who will
win, but certainly the size of the majority if the Prime Minister does hold onto power.
Theresa May was heckled by opposition supporters as she wrapped up her campaign in London. There we are, Smithfield Market early on this morning.
Her party is still in the lead according to the latest polls.
On the Labour side, it was a late shakeup for the Jeremy Corbyn's team. The shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, is standing down for health
reasons. It comes after she was criticized for struggling with questions in various recent TV interviews.
And Britain will probably fail to get a broad free trade deal with the EU. Growth will slow down as a result, is the latest view from the Organization
for Economic Corporation and Development, the OECD. According to the OECD, by next year growth will be 1 percent. Slower than almost every other OECD
country. That's assuming the uncertainty over the trade status of the U.K. will hurt U.K. investment. Ruth Lea is with me now. Economic adviser with Arbuthnot
Banking Group. We have to put tomorrow's results into the wider context of what, say for example, the OECD says, which is that whoever wins, they're
going to be facing a very grim outlook.
RUTH LEA, ECONOMIC ADVISER, ARBUTHNOT BANKING GROUP: They would say that, wouldn't they? And they've said it before. And they were wrong. Do you
remember head of the referendum last year? This time last year indeed, the OECD joined up with the IMF, the treasury, the Bank of England, the IFS.
The whole economic establishment, excluding myself, which set in fact if the referendum result, if there were a Brexit vote, would actually be
extremely damaging to the economy. It didn't happen.
QUEST: Yet. Yet, Ruth.
QUEST: I take these guys with a very big pinch of salt.
QUEST: I hear what you say. But we're really just talking about time scale here, aren't we? The idea that there would be a fallout of bed and
investment decisions made immediately wasn't necessarily the case. But as a result of tomorrow's election.
LEA: So, they're wrong then and they're right now?
QUEST: No. I'm saying it's still early days to make a full final judgment.
LEA: Could we sort of roll back.
QUEST: Certainly, role where you like.
LEA: Assuming the Conservative Party got a reasonable majority.
QUEST: What you count reasonable?
LEA: 40. 30, 40. I think that's reasonable. Overall majority, even 25 will do. Assuming they do and then of course, we will still have the
Conservative government in place. Then the negotiations will start with the European Union on the 19th of June, and it's quite clear to me that
actually there is a desire on both sides of the fence, the U.K. and the EU, to have a reasonable trade relationship, once we leave the EU. I think
Theresa May has made it perfectly clear she wants a trade relationship with them. And Barnier, who is the chief negotiator for the EU, I think he's
made it pretty clear he does want some sort of deal. It's to their advantage there's a deal. It's to our advantage there's a deal.
QUEST: The question whether or not it could be -- the first thing they'll have to negotiate is, of course, ex-pats. Citizens' rights and then the
divorce bill. But you say 35 to 40 seats majority. For Theresa May that would be almost pyrrhic victory, wouldn't it? Because she goes in with a
five or six majority and a working majority of 17, she hoped for a hundred.
LEA: Oh, I think so. Because I think when she called the election, it was the 18th of April, which seems an incredible long time ago, 24 points ahead
of Labour in the polls. Now, who knows right now, because the polls are all over the place. YouGov sort of said 3 or 4 percent lead. Something
like ICM they're talking about a 10 or 12 percent lead. It depends on what sort of methodology it is. If it sort of ends up in the middle where you
have the 6 or 7 percent lead, you might end up with 45 to 50 overall majority. But I say it would be a disappointment.
QUEST: Economically, back to the economy in the country, once these negotiations began, whoever's in charge of them, you are still more
confident than many that there will be a better result on trade rather than an over the cliff hard Brexit. Although the Tories of course, will have a
hard rump will be looking for that.
[16:20:00] LEA: Well, I think the hard rump can take a running jump quite honestly. Forget about it. If there can be -- and I just say, I think
both sides do want this -- if there can be a free trade agreement and perhaps something on financial services, that would be the optimal
situation. Just to say well were going to walk away, and I know that Theresa May has said, you know, a no deal is better than a bad deal. I
understand, that's negotiating tactics. But in fact, if it is a WTO fall off a cliff so to speak, it's still feasible. It's not optimal. You can
still trade on the WTO rules. We do all of our trade with the rest of the world on the WTO rules. In fact, trade with those countries has grown
faster than it has with the EU. So, let's not be too neurotic about that. But I would like to see a trade deal and I do think that that will actually
be the outcome of all this. So, cheer up OECD. I'm cheerful. A bit.
QUEST: That told Angela Merkel. Cheer up Angela. Thank you very much. Good to see you, as always.
A point of calling this election was for Theresa May to shore up her support. The day she called the election the Prime Minister said this vote
was the only chance Britain had to secure stability before the Brexit negotiations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We need a general election and we need one now. Because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this
done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now, Theresa May arguably looks more vulnerable now than she did then. CNN's tracker of the opinion polls show the Tory lead getting ever
narrower. Though every poll still has them in the lead. The uncertainty of the outcome has hit the pound. It spiked on the day the election itself
was called. Since then it's gradually fallen. Look at the graph and it makes it quite clear.
The scenarios are many. This election is likely to end in one of three ways. The Conservatives could keep their majority, it's fairly
uncomplicated. If they lose seats you could end up with a hung parliament, and then you start talking about coalitions or minority governments and the
like. And if no party can form a government, well, there is perhaps, a nuclear option of yet another election in the future.
Lord Karan Bilimoria is an independent member of the House of Lords and chairman of Cobra Beer. I'm guessing, sir, even as an independent, you're
not looking at the prospect of another election. But do you give credence to the idea from that YouGov poll last week, of a hung parliament?
KARAN BILIMORIA, U.K. HOUSE OF LORDS: Everything is possible. More likely if the Conservatives win, but what is absolutely shocking is how badly the
Conservatives have run this campaign. At the beginning of this election when it was called many of us were predicting Conservative majority of well
over 100. Now you've got some of polls saying that they're neck and neck. What have they done? I mean, this is absolutely disastrous from a
Conservative point of view. They will probably still win, but they should've gone in and they were hoping to win with a massive majority. And
all of because of Brexit, by the way. And where is anyone talking about Brexit now. Every time the Conservatives try to talk about Brexit --
QUEST: So, does the blame for this appalling campaign rest with the Prime Minister?
BILIMORIA: Entirely. With the Prime Minister and her two advisers, because if you look at all the buses it's all about her. If you look at
the leaflets that went out to the voters, the initial leaflets that went out, normally would have gone out with their local candidates pictures, the
Conservative candidates, they were in small print, the first leaflets. It was all about her.
QUEST: Is it because of her decision to flip-flop on the social cap on spending? I mean, it was a bad policy that was made worse by her decision
to reverse out afterwards.
BILIMORIA: The thing about her, if you look at her ratings, 61 percent. Higher than Margaret Thatcher. Higher than Tony Blair. Higher than anyone
before the elections. There's this impression of she's tough. And Margaret Thatcher, the lady is not returning. Unfortunately, Theresa May
is constantly returning. If you look at what happened with the national insurance for companies, immediate U-turn. Elections, no election until
2020, U-turn on that. Now, the social cap within the manifesto, U-turn. Where is this not returning? Where is this strong and stable? And then,
people are now beginning to see through the platitudes. Brexit means Brexit. What a lot of nonsense. And then the latest one, no deal is
better than a bad deal. Well, a no deal is the worst possible deal. So, people are now beginning to see through all these platitudes.
QUEST: But no deal -- let's just talk about no deal is better than a bad deal. She's right.
BILIMORIA: That's talking nonsense. If you look at it from business' point of view, from this country's point of view, when we wake up, when we
realize that it is better for us to be part of the single market. Is better to have access.
QUEST: It's not an option to be part of the single market if you're not can it take the four pillars.
BILIMORIA: Well, everything is possible. Including stain in the European Union. What most people don't realize is that Article 50 is unilaterally
revocable by us at any stage --
QUEST: That's debatable.
BILIMORIA: It's not --
QUEST: That's debatable.
[16:25:00] BILIMORIA: Lord Kerr, who wrote Article 50 has said that it is revocable at any time we can say that we want to stay in the European
Union. And I believe people will actually eventually -- it has to come from the people. Were they say, well, actually we're going to be far
better off the way things are. We had the best of both worlds. Eight billion pounds a year net to the European Union. That's 1 percent of our
government spending. Movement of people, the 3.2 million people living here, how would we manage without them with the lowest level of
unemployment that we've had, and the highest level of employment that we --
QUEST: Ruth Lea says 45 seats majority for the Conservatives. Are you prepared to give me a number tonight?
BILIMORIA: The best result would be a smaller majority for the Conservatives. Because their own balance of their business policies would
be far better than Labour's policies. From business point of view, from every point of view, a small majority for the Conservatives. Why? Because
then we in parliament will be able to hold them to account. A large majority I think would be unhealthy for the country.
QUEST: Well, the House of Lords always believes that a large majority in the other chamber is unhealthy.
BILIMORIA: We're a check and balance. We're the guardian of the nation.
QUEST: I'll take you point on that. Good to see you.
BILIMORIA: Very good to see you.
QUEST: The FTSE, it fell ahead of election day tomorrow. The possibility of a hung parliament, it is rattling investors. Let's not go too far about
it, because all the other markets also fell as well. It's just the FTSE fell more than most. They closed in the red. Investors are waiting for
the European Central Bank rate decision, also on Thursday.
Tonight, Iran is coming to terms with attacks on two symbolic targets in the capital. A deadly assault that has come as a shock to most people in
the country. Considered safer and more stable than most of its neighbors. This is what we know. At around 10 a.m. on local time, gunmen stormed the
parliament building in Tehran holding a number of people hostage. Now at least one attacker detonated a suicide bomb. At the same time, there was a
shooting at the Ayatollah Khomeini mausoleum. The combined assault killed at least 12 people and injured many more.
The revolutionary guardsmen of the country have implied that Saudi Arabia was behind the attacks. They are claimed by ISIS. It's the first time
ISIS had said it was responsible for an attack in Iran.
Ramin Mostaghim, is a correspondent for "The Los Angeles Times," joins me on the phone from Tehran. We'll deal with who may have been responsible in
just a moment. But the fact that these attacks were able to take place in Tehran, do you see this as being a major shift in the ability of the regime
to keep control and to keep security?
RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, CORRESPONDENT, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES" IN TEHRAN (via phone): From now on the argument will be that Iran had turned the security
to citizens. And has claimed to be safest country in the region, in the Middle East. And now there's no more such argument that can be dragged on,
why they could not take place anymore.
QUEST: OK, if that's the situation, who was behind it? I mean, we are now in this exceptionally complex situation with Saudi, the coalition that has
now broken with Qatar. You've got this attack with Iran. You've got the potential relationship between Iran and Qatar and the support for
terrorism. Who is behind this?
MOSTAGHIM: Actually, we don't know. But Iran want to say that Saudi Arabia is directly and ISIS is influencing Saudi Arabian regime. So, Saudi
Arabia from their angle is behind it. From my angle, it is part of this proxy war, intended to take the proxy war in the region. We have another
level of the proxy war among the regional (INAUDIBLE) and now Tehran, and maybe tomorrow in Riyadh, we have the proxy war.
QUEST: Thank you. Difficult line to for us to hear you on, but important that we do here you. Thank you, sir.
Now, still to come tonight, more reactions to James Comey's opening statement to Congress. Seven pages detailing his interactions with
President Trump. It is a blockbuster.
[16:32:08] QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest there is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment.
The Egyptian billionaire calling on his nation's businessmen to pull their investments from Qatar. And terrorism dominates the final hours of an
election that was supposed to be all about Brexit. As we continue tonight this is CNN. And on this network the news always comes first.
James Comey's opening remarks have now been released online one day before the fired FBI director is set to testify before Senators. According to a
copy of that testimony Mr. Comey says, Donald Trump asked him about the investigation into the former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and
"see your way clear to letting this go."
And he also said the U.S. president told him that I need loyalty, I expect loyalty. Ahead of the testimony, the top U.S. intelligence officials went
before a Senate committee were the director of national intelligence said he never felt pressured to intervene in the FBI's Russia investigation.
Daniel Coats the would not say whether Donald Trump asked him to downplay investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump
Iran is lashing out at its arch rival Saudi Arabia for two simultaneous terror attacks in Tehran that killed at least 12 people. Suicide bombers
stormed parliament in the national shrine to Iran's founder Ayatollah Khomeini. ISIS is claiming responsibility. Iran is accusing Saudi Arabia
of funding ISIS and other terror groups.
Myanmar is carrying out a major search and rescue operation after military plane vanished on Wednesday, the plane lost contact about half an hour
after takeoff over the Andaman Sea. Military spokesman said 120 people including soldiers, their families and crewmembers were on board.
James Comey's prepared remarks are a remarkable account of his meetings with President Trump. He recounts one conversation where the president
asked him to lift the cloud on the FBI's investigation on Russia. CNN's contributor Norm Eisen joins me from Washington, former White House ethics
czar under President. Obama. I am assuming sir that you read the seven pages or at least you have seen a good synopsis of what Comey said, for you
what is the most egregious communication or interaction between the president and the FBI director?
[16:35:00] NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR UNDER PRESIDENT. OBAMA: Richard, thanks for having me back, I have read
and drunk in every word of the seven pages, it is like a novel. The most egregious part is the statement to Mr. Comey that President Trump made, can
you see your way clear to letting the Flynn investigation go, the investigation of Michael Flynn, the president's former national security
advisor. That is a textbook prima facie case of obstruction of justice.
Unless you have any doubt about that, Richard, Director Comey was troubled by it and went back to the FBI disgusted with his colleagues and documented
QUEST: Hang on. Now, let's calm ourselves down moment. You can interpret it as being obstruction of justice, but it could also be interpreted as
being a naive president simply saying, hey listen, can you do this, if you can, fine. If you can't, so be it. I am just asking, just asking.
EISEN: Richard, that is why I say it is a textbook prima facie case, of course, we ultimately do need to hear from the president, the same way that
we have heard from Mr. Comey. But I don't think that interpretation really holds water. And I will tell you why.
There is a pattern here, this is not an isolated or one-off incident. You do not have to have a juris doctorate in the details of obstruction of
justice to violate the law. What we have here is the core of obstruction of justice or so it seems, corrupt intent. You cannot ask the FBI director
to drop an investigation against a friend of yours, and then ultimately when he doesn't do it, fire him on top of the loyalty demand. It is just
QUEST: All right, let's assume for the purposes of my next question you are right, and you are right all away to the top, what happens next?
Because ultimately here unless you are going to go through that very high level of bar, of high crimes and misdemeanors, all you have is a lot of hot
air coming out of Washington and nothing actually happens as a result.
EISEN: You have asked the million-dollar question, the Republican leadership in Congress has extraordinarily resistant to holding Trump
accountable, although I would note that that is changing, including with having Comey at the Senate intelligence committee, bipartisan. So, I think
you may see some thawing in Congress, there is a special counsel, former FBI Director Bob Mueller. He may have the authority either to indict the
president, legally controversial or to find that the president broke the law, that would be devastating.
There are electoral consequences with our midterm elections coming up next year. And there is the court of public opinion, the president already has
historic low ratings, this is only going to erode them further.
QUEST: OK, if all of this comes to fruition, in the way that you are suggesting, first of all the Republicans in Congress have to break with the
president, which seemingly as you rightly say with midterms coming up, they have been refusing to do so. I wonder how damaging with your vast
experience in ethics in government and the need for integrity how damaging is this for the U.S. system, for the U.S. role overseas at a time when
there is instability for example within the GCC?
EISEN: It is a two-edge sword. Of course, it is damaging, it is distracting, it is a masterstroke by Vladimir Putin. But the flipside is
the world sees that the rule of law is taken seriously in the United States. That even a president can be held accountable, that the checks and
balances that underlie our Constitution are working. So, there are advantages to it also but there is no denying it weakens for the short-term
America's role and power abroad.
QUEST: Nixonian is the word that I have heard you use, do you believe -- and I am not suggesting impeachment or resignation yet. But in terms of
that which has been done or alleged to have been done, is it Nixonian?
EISEN: The Comey testimony, the seven pages is devastating. It is an inflection point, it is similar, although it is not a recording on tape, it
is a form of recording.
[16:40:00] It is like the Nixon tapes. I do think that we are in the midst of a turning point but is going to take many, many more twists and turns
before we get to a denouement, the most ironic and fascinating point of all, the president has brought all of this on himself. If he simply had
let Comey do his job, he would not be in this situation today.
QUEST: As those twists and turns, Norm, make me a promise. Your loyalty, sir. I require a pledge of loyalty that you will come back to us and help
us understand what is happening in the way forward.
EISEN: I will give you honest loyalty.
QUEST: I could ask for no more. Anybody who has read the document knows exactly what we are referring. Good to see you.
Nine countries are now supporting the diplomatic isolation of Qatar. In a moment, I will hear from the billionaire who says all Arab businessmen
should withdraw investment from the country. And some very strong views on the question of regime change in Qatar. It's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, we are
alive tonight in London.
QUEST: It gets ever more complicated, Russia is denying U.S. allegations that it hacked Qatar's news agency, and in hacking planting a false story.
A story indeed that helped spark the diplomatic crisis now reverberating around the Middle East. The FBI sent a team to help investigate this
alleged hack. And U.S. officials believe it is an example of the Kremlin trying to cause rifts between the U.S. and various allies.
OK, nine countries have now cut ties with Qatar alleging that it supports terrorism. The nine including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, you can see
them all actually on the map behind me. The Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris is calling on his fellow businessmen to withdraw investment from
the country. I asked him if such a move would only make a bad situation worse?
NAGUIB SAWIRIS, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, OTMT INVESTMENTS: I am not just calling on Egyptian businessmen, I am calling on all Arab businessmen who have a
conscience, who don't want to be supporting a country that has been infusing terrorism and supporting all the terrorist organizations in our
area. Their hands are full of load of with all the innocent people who died in Manchester and in London and in Egypt and coming from Libya and
coming from Raqqa and Syria and Iraq.
Their open positions are supporting countries and organizations like Hamas and Iran, so they are not even denying that. So, I'm telling everybody
that enough is enough. And we should not be working with these people.
[16:45:00] QUEST: But there is this huge contradiction in the accusations being made, to listen to the accusations from Saudi and from Yemen and from
others, according to them as indeed the Qatari say. They seem to be accused of supporting Iran and Iraq on the one side, Syria on the other,
the Muslim Brotherhood somewhere in the middle, I mean you seem contradicting yourself in the very groups that you say Qatar is supporting
because those groups are fighting each other.
SAWIRIS: No, Richard, you keep on mentioning Saudi Arabia. This coalition is from Egypt, the Emirates, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. So, there are many
other countries that -- and Bahrain. So, it is not Saudi Arabia on its own. We in Egypt have never been involved in terror, dear Emiratis are
known to be the most peaceful and peace seeking nation. They have even tried to have good relations with Qatar. They are also further from being
a lied at.
So, I don't understand this Western view right now, you know, you guys are watching the ISIS people slaughtering the citizens in the Middle East and
now they are coming to your territories and you think that we should stand there and do nothing. We need to get to the bottom of that. And we are
not going to get to the bottom of that if you try to appease the country because they are just very rich.
QUEST: What I am saying is a dramatic and draconian way of isolating a country that is strategically important by virtue of the gas reserves it
has in the role it plays in the energy industry of the globe, might not be the best way forward. That the coalition, if you don't like me using
Saudi, the coalition has basically taken a sledgehammer to crack the nut.
SAWIRIS: No, you are saying because they have the gas and they are the most important gas producer, we should endure their financing of terror?
QUEST: No, that's not what I'm saying. What I am saying is you negotiate, you talk, use diplomacy, but what this has done out of the blue on a random
Monday in June it has inflamed an area of the world that needed peace and serenity, not more animosity.
SAWIRIS: No, I don't agree with your analysis at all, you know, this area needs to stop terrorism, these people are the center of terror in our
region, and they will not stop until they know that we are all against them, and they need to stop doing that.
QUEST: Are you looking, whether it's an overthrow or a coup or a change of government, are you looking for a new Emir, do you think?
SAWIRIS: No, I am not looking for a new Emir, it is not my job, it is for the country's people to decide who they want to rule them. But they should
know that this regime has caused them the hatred of people who feel their hands are mixed up with blood of innocent people who are dying all around
the world because they are providing support to people like Al Nusra, ISIS and all of these people.
QUEST: Naguib, you are far too sophisticated and savvy not to appreciate that for some people involved in this regime change in Qatar, is what it is
SAWIRIS: OK, well that is not going to be bad news if we hear it.
QUEST: That puts it bluntly, when we come back at the moment we will be talking about the election, the terror attacks that took place in the U.K.,
and factoring in what will it mean when voters go to the polls tomorrow.
[00:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
QUEST: This time tomorrow, there would just be 10 minutes left before the voting is over in the U.K. general election. The front pages of Britain's
two best-selling newspapers, both coming from the right wing I have to say, are scathing in their criticism of Labour's record on terrorism, "Jezza's
Jihadi Comrades", in reference to Jeremy Corbin. And "Apologists for Terror".
Now national security has become one of the top issues in the vote, doing now is Britain's former ambassador to France, Turkey and the United States.
You certainly have a good handle on this sort of thing. How do you think the handling of the terror threat and the appalling-ness of 30 people so
far during the campaign will play into the results?
PETER WESTMACOTT, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: It is very hard to be sure about this. The reality is that our agencies were saying for a
long time they only have to get lucky once, we have to be successful all the time. We know there is a high level of threat. We don't know when it
will be that someone is going to get through.
And for several months we have had almost nothing. When they have had terrible things happening in France and in other countries. So, this has
happened not once, not twice but actually three times. Does it play into the election? It is really hard to say because Theresa May of course was
the Home Secretary. He was the one responsible for counterterrorism, she was the one responsible for different strategies we had in place to deal
with this stuff. It has not fully worked.
But the police response was brilliant, they shot dead all three terrorists in eight minutes last time round. Hard to see what impact is going to have
on people's voting contentious.
QUEST: Other than this feeling that something is not right, that something needs to change, that you can have the sort of mayhem and murder on the
streets of the capital.
WESTMACOTT: Yes, I agree with that. And I think that the Prime Minister detected that an understatement was much more forward leaning in saying we
have got to think about this again after the last set of outrages. And we've got to think again about whether our prevent strategy is sufficient
and what are we doing about our immigration, and what are we doing the communities? And is everybody who was part of the Muslim world stepping up
to the plate adequately?
QUEST: I want to turn to the Gulf if I may, Peter, you and I were just talking during the break the seriousness of the situation between Saudi and
its coalition against Qatar. But at the same time trying to understand since both sides, the level of hypocrisy on both sides is huge. They are
all supporting terrorist organizations of one description or another. What is this really all about?
WESTMACOTT: There are lots of proxy wars that are being fought in the region, you are absolutely right. President Trump has of course suggested
that his visit has been a catalyst for this development, but what I think it is about is a couple of key points. One is that the Saudis, the
Emiratis in particular, don't like the upstart young Emir of Qatar who is rather independent minded. They do not like Al Jazeera which is in Doha,
which criticizes some of the Arab regimes. And they don't like what they see as the regime being soft on jihadi terrorism. And at the same time a
little too cozy with the Shia militias who are supported by Iran.
So, at the moment when all of the Gulf Arabs and Israel and the United States of America are saying that Iran is the source of all evil. They are
seeing these guys is being a bit too soft on Iran too.
QUEST: So, when Naguib Sawiris said to me on this program, and I asked him about regime change, basically, shrug of the shoulder, well, if it happens
that is not a bad thing. Is that the view of the Saudi coalition?
WESTMACOTT: I don't know is the short answer.
QUEST: They would arguably, have they got anybody do they want to put in his place? Other than one of the Al Thanis who is in Saudi Arabia at the
WESTMACOTT: That is a very good question, of course, they didn't like that the young man took over from the father, and he was pushed out, and he was
sort of very much status quo. I don't think they have another candidate there. There is a lot of talk about a coup d'etat being prepared for Qatar
because they are not doing what they are supposed to do, and they do not know their place in the Gulf hierarchy.
[16:55:00] But it is really about being too cozy with jihadism, Sunni jihadism, and too close to Iran.
QUEST: In a sentence or three, how serious is this incident in the scheme of everything that is happening in the world at the moment? How serious is
WESTMACOTT: It is more serious than it was last time they had a scrap, which was about three years ago. They have closed airspace. They are
expelling diplomats. Trade is being interrupted. They are going a very long way. My hunch is particularly if it transpires that part of this is
about a Russian information warfare operation planting fake tweets in the name of the Emir of Qatar. That this thing could be calmed down.
Especially if the Qatari are prepared to eat a bit of humble pie.
QUEST: Finally, very briefly, in a sentence, you are no longer an ambassador so I can ask you a deeply politically incorrect question. What
do you think the majority will be tomorrow night if she wins, if Theresa May wins?
WESTMACOTT: I have been wrong in every prediction in the last couple years but I am in the kind of 30 to 45 category.
QUEST: Good to see you. Thank you very much indeed.
We will have full coverage of the results tomorrow night, this time tomorrow night, Hala and myself will just be taking to the air. Our
special programming begins in exactly this time tomorrow night here in London 9:55 PM. And it will be moments before the exit poll is released.
Hala and I will be joined by a team of correspondents bringing you the results as they happen. And we will have a Profitable Moment after the
QUEST: Tonight's Profitable Moment, and so we come to denouement of the U.K. general election campaign. This time tomorrow night the polls will be
just about the close. And we will have perhaps one of the greatest lessons of hubris for a politician if Theresa May's majority is slashed, or indeed
schadenfreude from the opposition. It is going to be fascinating. Make sure you join us this time tomorrow. Because that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
for tonight, I'm Richard Quest in London. Whatever you are up to in the hours ahead, I hope it is profitable.
I will see you tomorrow.