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Trump: '100 Percent' Ready to Testify Under Oath. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 9, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now. Breaking news. Willing to testify. After James Comey's incriminating testimony, President Trump says he's 100 percent ready to tell his side of the story under oath. Mr. Trump accusing Comey of being a liar and a leaker, and yet also claiming his fired FBI director vindicated him.
[17:00:22] Very near future. The president playing it coy about whether there are tapes of his conversations with Comey, promising an answer soon, but tonight House investigators are demanding to know if any recordings exist, and they're setting a deadline.
Sessions in trouble? The attorney general is facing escalating legal and political scrutiny as investigators look into whether he had a third undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador. Could he be at risk for perjury charges?
And Winner loses. A federal contractor named Reality Winner, charged with leaking classified material, is denied bail amid new reports about her views on the Trump White House and allegations she mishandled government secrets before.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news tonight. President Trump says he's 100 percent ready to be questioned under oath as he and fired FBI director James Comey accuse each other of lying. At his first news conference in weeks, the president refused to say if there are any tapes of his conversations with Comey that might prove who's telling the truth.
Tonight leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, they are trying to force the president's hand. They've asked the White House to hand over any recordings, if they exist, by June 23. They're also asking Comey to give them his memos on his conversations with the president.
Also tonight, Mr. Trump is sending mixed messages about Comey's explosive and incriminating testimony, the president claiming Comey confirmed there was no obstruction or collusion, something many Democrats and others would dispute.
At the same time, he accused Comey of lying under oath when he testified that Mr. Trump asked for his loyalty and urged him to let go of his investigation of Michael Flynn. The Trump team scrambling to attack Trump -- Comey's credibility. The
president and his aides are pouncing on Comey's admission that he shared an unclassified memo about a key meeting with the president, giving it to a friend, who gave it to the news media.
Tonight, CNN has learned that Mr. Trump's outside counsel is now threatening to file a complaint with the Justice Department inspector general and the Senate Judiciary Committee. This hour I'll get reaction from Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. He's a member of the Judiciary and Armed Services Committees.
Then our correspondents, analysts and specialists, they are all standing by.
First, let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the president remained silent during Comey's testimony, but he's letting loose today.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He certainly is, Wolf. President Trump defended himself once again on the Russia investigation, pointing to former FBI director James Comey's testimony as proof that he didn't obstruct the probe or collude with the Kremlin.
But the president was not so forthcoming on the question of whether he has recordings of his conversations with Comey here at the White House. He simply dodged the question "Where are the tapes?"
ACOSTA (voice-over): Speaking as he tweets, in short bursts, President Trump tried to have it both ways, clinging to the testimony of former FBI director James Comey as his salvation, while also slamming the man he fired in the same breath.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker.
ACOSTA: During a news conference with the Romanian president, Mr. Trump denied he tried to shut down the Russia probe, specifically when it comes to former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that. I mean, I will tell you I didn't say that.
ACOSTA: The president also rejected the notion that he asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty, as the former FBI director said in sworn testimony.
TRUMP: 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.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump's response, when asked whether he would speak under oath on the matter--
TRUMP: One hundred percent.
ACOSTA: But the president dug in his heels on the question of whether he has recordings of his conversations with Comey and others at the White House.
TRUMP: I'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future. I'll tell you about it over a very short period of time, OK? OK. Do you have a question here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you tell us about the recordings?
TRUMP: Over a fairly short period of time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why won't you tell us now, Mr. President?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there tapes, sir?
TRUMP: You're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don't worry.
ACOSTA: In their response to the Comey testimony, Democrats are eager for the president to tell all he knows under oath with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
[17:05:04] SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: I would expect at some point, not right away, but at some point that Mr. Mueller would feel he has to depose the president.
ACOSTA: One subject the president was not asked about: his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. The White House has danced around whether the president has confidence in the attorney general. Even some Republicans say it's time to know more about Sessions' interactions with the Russians during the campaign.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We on the Intelligence Committee want to know the answers to those questions, and we have begun to request information from the attorney general to allow us to get to the bottom of that.
ACOSTA: The president was asked by a Romanian reporter whether he's committed to NATO's Article V, which would mandate that the U.S. come to the defense of the alliance's more vulnerable nations on Russia's border.
I'm committing the United States and have committed, but I'm committing the United States to Article V, and certainly, we are there to protect, and that's one of the reasons that I want people to make sure we have a very, very strong force by paying the kind of money necessary to have that force, but, yes, absolutely, I'd be committed to Article V.
ACOSTA: Now the president gave no indication as to when he finally plans to answer the question as to whether he has any recordings of his meetings at the White House.
He's off to his golf resort in New Jersey right now for the weekend. And, Wolf, just as the president was departing the White House, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked by reporters, is there a timetable for getting an answer to this question about these tapes? Spicer told reporters that he does not have a timetable and that they should just watch the helicopter leave the White House. It was another non-answer from the White House, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.
In the wake of James Comey's testimony, more bombshell moments may be ahead, with the president talking about testifying under oath. And the House Intelligence Committee trying to get ahold of any White House tapes if they exist.
CNN's Michelle Kosinski is following all the new angles in the investigation for us. Michelle, the Comey testimony, that was just the beginning.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Right, and there was plenty in there to shed a little bit light, even point to where this investigation could be headed, and this is not only in what he said publicly but also in his closed session he had afterwards with senators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): The president says he is willing to testify under oath he did nothing wrong.
TRUMP: One hundred percent.
KOSINSKI: It would be an extraordinary step for Special Investigator Robert Mueller to investigate and depose the president of the United States about whether he obstructed justice in his conversations with fired FBI director James Comey.
REED: I would expect at some point, not right away, but at some point that Mr. Mueller would feel that he has to depose the president.
KOSINSKI: Mueller now has Comey's detailed memos of his conversations with Trump. Testifying before Congress Thursday, Comey suggested that the president may now be a target of the investigation.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that's a conclusion I'm sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there and whether that's an offense.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The snowballing effect that happens here is with every single instance and intention by the president of the United States to try to stop or distract the investigation, you find additional shoes dropping, additional doors opening and an expansion of an investigation that likely would have been quite narrowly tailored.
KOSINSKI: Also emerging from Comey's closed-door meeting with senators, the possibility that Attorney General Jeff Sessions might have had a third undisclosed meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016.
Sources tell CNN intercepted communications revealed a discussion of such a meeting among Russians. The FBI has not made any conclusions.
Raising the specter, though, of possible perjury by Sessions. The Department of Justice today says Attorney General Sessions has no plans to resign and denies the meeting with Kislyak. Sessions will publicly face questions from senators on Tuesday.
Trump's son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner will meet with Senate Intelligence Committee staffers soon. And former national security adviser Michael Flynn has now turned over hundreds of pages of documents to congressional investigators.
KOSINSKI: And it may not have been at the forefront lately with everything going on, but there is also still a money question here. What are Trump's and his family's financial ties to Russia?
House Democrats have been trying to get at that. They asked Deutsche Bank to turn over information to that effect, but now Deutsche Bank has refused, saying turned over -- turning over information on anyone of that nature would be a violation of federal privacy rules. So that's something else to watch. What other attempts are going to be made to get at that information and in what way, Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm sure there will be many attempts. Michelle, thank you very much. Michelle Kosinski reporting.
Joining us now is Senator Richard Blumenthal. He's a Democrat on the Judiciary and Armed Services Committee. Senator, thanks for coming in.
[17:10:06] SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: At that news conference, the comments, have you -- recently in your memory, have you ever seen anything like that before?
BLUMENTHAL: Never, very astonishing. But he's opened the door, and I would welcome him to come before the Judiciary Committee, just as the former director Comey did, and answer questions. He can't simply make a statement and say he's going to call Jim Comey a liar. He has to come before the committee and answer questions.
BLITZER: He could do that also in a deposition with the special counsel. Robert Mueller could call on him to issue a -- make a statement and answer questions under oath. That's another way he could do it.
BLUMENTHAL: And there's no question that Bob Mueller will eventually, I believe, request that he do so. Because in order to solve a question of intent -- What was his purpose in demanding that pledge of loyalty? What was his intent in asking Jim Comey to drop the investigation? And was the firing of Jim Comey related to Comey's refusal to accede to his demands, as well as the Russia investigation.
And part of the pattern here, Wolf, is the Russian connection. You've seen it in the additional report by CNN about a possible third meeting, which would subject Jeff Sessions to charges of perjury. And you've seen it with Kushner and with Flynn. In order to get to the bottom of the obstruction charge, there has to be that kind of question.
BLITZER: Another way of determining who is lying, the president or Comey, would be if there are tapes. Now, the House Intelligence Committee set a deadline today of June 23 for the White House to hand over any recordings of conversations between Comey and the president.
Do you believe the president did record those conversations or at least some of those conversations?
BLUMENTHAL: I tend to doubt it, because one would think that he would have made them available voluntarily.
But here's what needs to be done about those tapes. They need to be subpoenaed. Even if they don't exist, they need to be subpoenaed in order to establish that they don't exist. Authoritatively, a prosecutor would subpoena them.
BLITZER: Well, the House Intelligence Committee wants them by June 23. You don't think that's a formal subpoena; that's just a request?
BLUMENTHAL: A request is not the same as a subpoena. Withholding those documents--
BLITZER: So what's the delay? Why hasn't a committee, a congressional House committee, a Senate committee subpoenaed those tapes if they exist?
BLUMENTHAL: I have urged that the committee that I sit on, the Judiciary Committee, subpoena those tapes, and I believe that it is necessary to subpoena the tapes and subpoena documents that may be in the possession of the White House, just as Jim Comey has offered to make those documents available that he did.
BLITZER: Because the president said he'll have an answer for us shortly and then he looked at the reporters out there and he suggested you're going to be disappointed. I wasn't exactly what he meant, disappointed by what's on those tapes or disappointed that there are no tapes. How did you read that?
BLUMENTHAL: Very hard to read it, Wolf, because the president is dealing with this very profoundly issue of obstruction of justice and potential collusion with the Russians in interfering with our campaign as kind of a reality show. He is playing to an audience.
But we're dealing here with issues that affect, potentially, untruths under oath, and he's calling someone else a liar. If he's willing to come forward and give his own testimony under oath, that is to be welcomed, but he ought to do it and submit to questions.
BLITZER: So I assume you agree with your colleague, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, that -- that a Mueller -- the special counsel should depose, under oath, the president, but what you're suggesting is that House and Senate committees call on the president even before such a deposition to come before Congress and testify under oath?
BLUMENTHAL: I think that congressional committees should defer or at least cooperate with Bob Mueller in his very, very important work to determine whether criminal charges are appropriate, and if he wishes us to delay the president coming before a congressional committee we should defer to his judgment on that score.
One way or the or the president should be asked to submit to questions under oath. It ought to be by Bob Mueller, if not by congressional committees. But he should, in effect, be compelled to answer just as Jim Comey has done in public at some point and under oath, because he's called Jim Comey a liar, and there are documents to support Jim Comey.
BLITZER: His own written memoranda that he wrote following those meetings, and his testimony yesterday, Comey, was under oath, so if he was lying that's perjury. He could wind up in jail if the president proves or the president's attorneys that prove he was lying.
BLUMENTHAL: There's no excuse for the president to lie under oath. There's no excuse about his being new to the office of president or mistaking what the penalties for perjury are, and he should be compelled to face those same penalties, not just provide a statement and not just provide an affidavit, a statement without questioning. He should answer the tough questions just as Jim Comey did.
BLITZER: Your committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked Comey's friend, a professor, a law professor at Columbia Law school by the name of Daniel Richmond, to hand over that one memo that Comey gave him about a conversation he had with the president. Do you know if Richmond is going to do that? Has he already agreed to comply, or you're still waiting for an answer?
BLUMENTHAL: We're still waiting for an answer so far as I know, but Jim Comey certainly indicated that he would be cooperative. In fact, he urged that the tapes be made available if they exist. That's very, very important, because that cooperation stands in very distinct contrast to the White House and the president, who has called this investigation a witch-hunt and apparently has refused to cooperate.
And one more point here, Wolf, that I think is very, very important. I think that Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, should come before the Judiciary Committee, as well, and answer questions specifically on the reasons why they failed to come to their defense and safeguard the FBI from this intimidation when it occurred.
BLITZER: Now if, for some reason, Professor Richmond decides not to and over that -- that memorandum, you would subpoena that memorandum?
BLUMENTHAL: I would subpoena the complete set of memoranda in any event. And I think Jim Comey will understand better than anyone, having been a prosecutor in this position, that the issuance of a subpoena safeguards the process. It means that we're saying to whoever has documents, give them all to us.
BLITZER: Will you make that memorandum public if it's made available to your committee?
BLUMENTHAL: I would urge that it be made available publicly. I think the public has a right to know here, and we have an obligation to make the public aware of as much as we can, as long as it's not classified.
BLITZER: Senator, there are other new developments coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Let me take a quick break. We'll resume our conversation right after this.
[17:21:29] BLITZER: We're back with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. We're following the breaking news. President Trump speaking out for the first time since the testimony of the FBI director he fired.
Senator, your colleague Susan Collins, you know her well, she said that Comey himself, in early January, their first exchange, even while the president was simply president-elect, may have inadvertently given the president the idea of having these closed-door, one-on-one meetings when Comey suggested that the other aides leave so he could brief the president on that very salacious unverified dossier. He just wanted to do that privately so the president would know. He said the media was beginning to hear about that.
Do you think that argument has merit, that it was Comey himself who suggested that these two men meet privately?
BLUMENTHAL: It has to be considered, Wolf, in the total pattern and context of their relationship, and for the president to ask everyone to leave when he was going to raise the possibility of either a pledge of loyalty or asking that Comey drop the investigation was improper at the very least. And I think that Attorney General Sessions bears part of the blame for having left the room.
BLITZER: Here's -- here's what I don't understand. If you believe the president's account that the only thing he was going to say, Flynn is a good guy, never say, you know, walk away from the investigation; if he was not going to ask him for a pledge of loyalty, why did all the other officials who were meeting with them earlier, the White House chief of staff, the vice president, why did the president kick them out?
BLUMENTHAL: That is the question that has to be asked, because his wanting to be alone to ask that question in complete privacy is part of the total circumstantial evidence going to intent. What was his motive?
And Jim Comey, in one of the most powerful moments yesterday, said he was fired, and he was asked to drop that investigation of Michael Flynn so that the president could change the course of the Russia investigation. If that's not an exact quote, it's pretty close.
Close -- changing the course of the Russia investigation goes to the national security of this country, because as Jim Comey said, the Russians are coming back against America. And the only way to help protect this country is to deter them by getting to the bottom of how they meddled in this election and whoever colluded with them, and holding them accountable and making them pay a price.
BLITZER: Certainly, firing Comey did not change the course of that Russia investigation.
He had a short clip. He had a short clip at his news conference today, his takeaway on the -- on the Comey testimony. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He's a leaker. That's a big point not only he but his attorney, private attorney yesterday, Republicans, his supporters, they're making: "You can't believe anything that Comey is saying. He's a leaker."
BLUMENTHAL: He was seeking a way to tell his story. Certainly not an ideal way, but at that point, he had no press secretary. He had only the means to make that document available and try to tell his side of the story and also, very, very importantly, provide evidence that was needed for a special prosecutor.
[17:25:04] If you'll recall, that was a point at which there was consideration of a special prosecutor. I think he was very supportive of that idea.
I had called for it. I voted against Rod Rosenstein, because he failed to commit to a special prosecutor, and finally, he did.
I think that public awareness, public information was a goal that he had, and there was no classified information. The document was his to provide.
BLITZER: Very quickly. You're a former prosecutor. Where is this all heading?
BLUMENTHAL: It's headed toward a decision by the special prosecutor who, fortunately, now is in place, whether there was a violation of criminal law. And it's headed toward pursuing the evidence, following the facts, which Rob Mueller will do. He is a pro, a prosecutor's prosecutor.
And I think that the White House and the president ought to be cooperating with him, not calling this investigation a charade and a witch-hunt.
BLITZER: Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, more on the breaking news. The president's first reaction to James Comey's testimony. What kind of hints was he really sending about possible White House recordings?
And new concerns that the accused leaker, Reality Winner -- that's her name -- may have exposed other government secrets.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:30:00] BLITZER: This hour's breaking news. President Trump declaring he's 100 percent willing to testify under oath about his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, but not answering direct questions about whether tapes of those conversations exist in response to reporters' questions. The President repeatedly contradicted and denied the main points of Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- get back to James Comey's testimony, you suggested he didn't tell the truth in everything that he said. He did say under oath that you told him to let the Flynn -- you said you hoped the Flynn investigation --
TRUMP: I didn't say that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he lied about that?
TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that, I mean, I will tell you I didn't say that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did he ask you to pledge --
TRUMP: And there'd be nothing wrong if I did say it according to everybody that I've read today but I did not say that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did he ask for a pledge of loyalty from you? That's another thing he said.
TRUMP: No, he did not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he said those things under oath. Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of events? TRUMP: 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 to you about that --
TRUMP: I'd be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you seem to be hinting that there are recordings of those conversations.
TRUMP: I'm not hinting about anything. I'll tell you about it over a very short period of time. OK. Do you have a question here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you tell us about --
TRUMP: Over a very short period of time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there tapes, Sir?
TRUMP: You're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don't worry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our specialists, Dana Bash. The House Intelligence Committee has now set a deadline for those tapes if in fact, they exist, June 23rd. Is it time for the Trump administration to set the record straight right now, just let us know. Are there tapes or aren't there tapes?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course, absolutely it's time to set the record straight. It's unclear why the President couldn't just say yes or no, but, look, at the end of the day this is -- this is seriously something that now that the House -- the fact that it was even the House and not the Senate which has been much more partisan is the one that set a deadline for the White House If there are such tapes to turn them over. It tells you everything that you need to know. It also does make you wonder why the President was being so mysterious in saying, you know, we'll let you know. Is he going to hold another press conference? Is he going to --
BLITZER: He likes a little drama. I don't know if you've noticed. I don't know if you've noticed.
BASH: Yes, I have noticed. I mean, you know, I was just thinking of whether or not he's going back to his reality TV days that he wants people to stay tuned which is obviously going to happen no matter what.
BLITZER: Yes, they're clearly staying tuned. You worked in the CIA for a long time, the FBI, you understand recording systems. Do you believe there are tapes? PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA COUTERTERRISM OFFICIAL: Heck no, and I think it's pretty straight forward. We have the President who has portrayed himself as the tough guy. Everything from reality TV which we talked about to the Presidency. I suspect there are no tapes and now he's got to come out and say the tough guy was bluffing. I think that this story -- this story is going to end up being simpler in retrospect and the answer -- the reason why he's not talking about it is there's nothing there.
BASH: I totally -- I agree with you. The idea of like sort of the Nixon taping system is impossible to believe. What is more possible to believe is that he did something that he has known to be done -- to do when he was a businessman which is either take his phone and record it or sort of a hand held tape recorder or something else. It came as though he did base on his answer today, but that is not out of the realm of possibility.
BLITZER: But Rebecca, the President is the one who raised the possibility of recordings in that tweet. He used the words tapes. He put the word in quotes.
REBECCA BERG, REAL CLEAR POLITICS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: He did, although Donald Trump has in the past has raised other issues that turned out not to be exactly as he initially represented them, Wolf, so this might be another such case. It could very well just be Donald Trump laughing, trying to sound tough, trying to hold something over James Comey's head and that seems possible from this point, but if there are tapes, that could actually be worse for the President than having to come out and say, well, actually I wasn't being completely truthful in that tweet because the tapes, if they do exist, could be obtained by Mueller and probably would be, could be obtained by Congress and could come out in the public sphere.
[17:35:21] MUDD: Rebecca is down on that. There's an issue here that we haven't discussed, and that is, if there is a tape -- I don't think -- if there are. The second question is what about the times you might have taped Jeff Sessions? What about the times you might have taped conversations with Reince Priebus? It's not going to stop if there ever is a tape with a simple conversation with the former Director of the FBI. No way.
BERG: Right and that was Nixon's problem.
BLITZER: You know, there could be, and I don't know if this is true but potentially there may not be official White House tapes by White House staffs, whether Secret Service or others, but there could have just been a little, you know.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And there's still Presidential records. I mean, that's the thing. I mean, the White House has already clarified that even his tweets sent from his personal Twitter account are Presidential statements. They are official records of the President, so no matter where he taped them, if he did tape them, they are things he has to preserve, and if he -- if there's -- somehow they got erased or destroyed in any way, then that is a big, big possible.
BLITZER: What are the chances that the Special Counsel Bob Mueller deposed the President under oath?
MUDD: I would say pretty close to 100 percent. Which is why the President's comment today saying I'm willing to do this is humorous. It's like me willing to say I'm willing to file my IRS tax return this year if I really have to. I mean, he -- the President is out there because he knows if there's an investigation of the Presidential campaign that includes suggestions that members of the campaign directed potentially by the President colluded with the Russians, how do you finish up that investigation without talking to the President of the United States??
PEREZ: I do wonder -- I do wonder though whether the statement he made at that podium today was actually coordinated with his lawyers. I'm not sure.
BASH: Well, that's interesting, because I -- you're thinking of it as a legal matter, as an investigative matter. I'm thinking of it as a political matter because he's saying politically, 100 percent -- 100 percent. I will put my word up against his to say politically this guy is not telling the truth. Believe me, American people, and I'm so sure of myself that I'm willing to do it under oath.
BERG: Right. And so now he's already -- we're already seeing Democrats make this request. Say, OK, if you're 100 percent ready to testify under oath, we're ready to host you on Capitol Hill.
BLITZER: The President himself sailed that. All right, everybody stand by. There's much more happening. We'll take a quick break. We'll resume our coverage right after this.
[17:40:00] BLITZER: We're back with our correspondents and specialists. Just moments ago President Trump arrived -- President Trump arrived at the Newark Airport. You're looking at pictures where he took a helicopter to his golf course in New Jersey. By the way, this will be his 17th weekend since his inauguration that the President has visited a property bearing his name. This weekend the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the President walking over to make that connection, walking down Air Force One, and then he's going to be heading over to Bedminster, New Jersey. Likes to wave as he's walking over -- I guess he's walking over to marine one to take a short little helicopter ride. You know, Evan, the FBI, the former FBI Director Comey testified yesterday that he shared that memo of that conversation he had with the President with a friend of his, Professor at Columbia University Law School, he said because quote, "I thought that might prompt the appointment of a Special Counsel." That friend was told share the information with a journalist which, of course, the friend did. Was that appropriate?
PEREZ: It's strange. I mean, I think this is the kind of thing that if any other FBI employee did I think it would be probably a fire-able offense, but, look, I mean, this is something beyond strange now, right? The former FBI Director was dealing with a President that he believed was acting inappropriately so he was essentially --
BLITZER: But he's a private citizen now.
PEREZ: He's a private citizen and he's sharing notes that he took -- a lot of people are saying, well, you know, these are still official government records and you needed to leave them there and not give them to someone else. I think he felt like these were extraordinary circumstances and he needed to take these measures.
BLITZER: What did you think?
MUDD: I thought the way he did it was odd. I would have said in public I am giving these to someone to pass to the media. I don't want to talk to the media myself. You'll see it tomorrow. The fact that he did it I don't think is surprising. He knew months ago he had minefields. He laid one minefield out. By the way, one quick comment. If anyone talks about investigation on this, it's an unclassified document,
MUDD: We investigate when something is classified. This is odd, but it's not against the law.
BLITZER: You know, a lot of officials, current officials, former officials, Dana as you and I know well, they leak to the news media. This the was extraordinary because he acknowledged this. He spoke about it under oath.
BASH: He wanted the President of the United States to hear that he got outmaneuvered from the perspective of James Comey, that James Comey saw the threat, what he perceived as a threat in the tweet that the President sent saying you better hope I don't have tapes and said, OK, you want to play that game, I'll play that game. Here we go. And so that was -- so much of this is a human drama between two big egos. I mean, that's -- at the end of the day, you can't underestimate that that is a big part of what's going on here.
[17:45:07] PEREZ: But you know what, I mean, look, it does play into the line, the White House -- the President have been complaining about leaks and they're going to use this. I think they know what they --
BASH: Totally played into that.
BLITZER: But you know, Rebecca, if there are no tapes, that contemporaneous memo could be significant.
BERG: It's a very important piece of information and against what is just going to be the President's words if there are no tapes, we don't expect that he would have notes necessarily.
PEREZ: Plus there's also -- that there's also FBI -- high levels officials of the FBI who he briefed --
BERG: There are other -- exactly.
PEREZ: -- after he had these conversations. So those people are also witnesses. BERG: -- other witnesses. He mention that had his chief of staff was on his end of the line for one of these phone calls. James Comey has left a trail of breadcrumbs for this investigation and he's covered all the bases in a way that the President not having been in this position before, not being a career investigator wouldn't have necessarily --
BLITZER: All right. We're going to have a lot more on the breaking news coming up. But what will President Trump tell congressional investigators who are demanding any tapes of his conversations with the former FBI Director? Also, explosive new allegations against the NSA contractor accused of leaking a highly classified document. Did she mishandle other national secrets?
[17:50:00] BLITZER: We have much more ahead on breaking news from President Trump's news conference. We're also getting some explosive new details about Reality Winner. The National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking a highly classified document on Russian attempts to meddle in the 2016 Presidential Election. Brian Todd is here. Brian, I take that prosecutors believe she may have exposed other secrets as well?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They think that's a possibility Wolf, because of a recorded conversation between Reality Winner and her mother where the defendant allegedly indicates she may have more than one document. Tonight we have startling details from prosecutors and disturbing information about possible warning signs missed.
TODD: Wearing an orange jumpsuit with the word "inmate" on the back, alleged NSA leaker Reality Winner appeared outside court in shackles and handcuffs. Inside, Winner quietly told a judge she was not guilty of charges she stole classified documents about Russian election hacking from a government contractor inside Georgia's Fort Gordon and gave them to an on-line news outlet. But prosecutors revealed explosive new details of what they suggest is an intentional plan by the 25-year-old to leak secrets to the media. Prosecutor told the Judge, Winner wrote quote, "I want to burn the White House down in a personal notebook and they say she showed a strong desire to travel to Pakistan and meet the Taliban. Prosecutors say last November while on active duty with the Air Force, she once used a work computer to search the phrase "do top secret computers detect when flash drives are inserted." Prosecutors say she was denied access to some Air Force computers after that.
TODD: Should somebody, later on, have caught that?
ERIC O'NEILL, CARBON BLACK NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGIST: Yes. I think that when you're looking at someone, especially when you're looking to employ someone, and looking to employ someone for a critical area of importance like a top secret security clearance, you have to look at everything that happened in their history and you have to decide over time whether this person has changed. TODD: Prosecutors have previously claimed Winner tweeted President Trump was, "an orange fascist" and followed Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks and Anonymous on Twitter. Prosecutor also claimed she could have additional materials because, in a jailhouse phone call, she allegedly referred to documents plural. Prosecutors say in recorded phone conversations Reality Winner told her family of a courtroom strategy she had. Quote, "I'm going to play the pretty white cute card." And prosecutors say she told her mother to tell the media she feared for her life, quote, "you've got to play that angle."
O'NEILL: It also shows that she's got some manipulative sense that she thinks that she can play this role. And maybe she's looking at the Chelsea Manning case and saying, hey, this was a leak who was pardoned, maybe I can fit into the same world.
TODD: Winner's lawyer says his client is not a traitor and that he has seen no evidence from prosecutors that proves she leaked anything. Her mother and stepfather continue to defend her, including on CNN.
GARY DAVIS, REALITY WINNER'S STEPFATHER: She served her country. She's a veteran within the United States Air Force and served with distinction for six years. She is a patriot.
TODD: Tonight, as Winner remains behind bars, some experts are questioning the security at the agency with the word security in its name after giant theft of classified material by Edward Snowden and allegedly Analyst Harold Martin.
SHELDON COHEN, SECURITY CLEARANCE ATTORNEY: That's the biggest problem the NSA has. People who on the surface appeared OK, who are completely vetted, they find nothing wrong with them and then after they get there, they're become disgruntled, they become dissatisfied, they think the public ought to know this information and then they turn rogue and do it.
TODD: Now just how did Reality Winner get and keep her top secret security clearance? neither Pluribus International nor the NSA would comment for our story but a U.S. government official tell CNN there are procedures in place, agreements in place for government employees with top secret security clearances to go from one government agency to another and take their clearances with them, sometimes without being checked. Wolf?
BLITZER: Interesting. Brian, how can the NSA and other agencies stop this kind of leaking by people with top secret clearances?
TODD: Wolf, security experts are telling us the NSA and other agencies, they just have to do a better job vetting person's social media and other signals that indicate things about their judgment before give them top security clearances and they need to keep checking these people for any psychological issues and also to see if anything might have changed in their lives since their employment.
BLITZER: Clearly mistakes are enormous. Brian Todd, thanks very, very much. [17:55:05] Coming up, more on President Trump's remarkable and defiant news conference, insisting he's been vindicated by former FBI Director James Comey's testimony on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, 100 percent. They've called each other liars. Now President Trump says he is 100 percent willing to answer questions under oath about his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey. I didn't say that. President Trump denies asking Comey for his loyalty and denies asking him to drop the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn.