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Trump's Mixed Messages on Qatar; Interview With Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego; President Trump Responds to Comey; Trump on Comey: "No Collusion, No Obstruction. He's a Leaker". Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 9, 2017 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:02]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: "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. The president won't confirm if there are recordings of their conversations, but says he will reveal that soon.

"He's a leaker." After claiming vindication from Comey's testimony, the president sums it up by saying no collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker. But Comey's memos of their talks are in the hands of the special counsel, and the House Intelligence Committee now demands copies, along ith any White House recordings.

And mixed messages. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calls on Arab allies to end their blockade of Qatar, another U.S. ally. But President Trump keeps the pressure on Qatar, demanding the end to funding for terror groups. Is the U.S. sending mixed messages?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news: President Trump hits back at fired FBI Director James Comey after Comey's stinging Senate testimony.

The president is calling Comey a liar and leaker and says he is one 100 percent willing to testify under oath about their conversations. The president won't say if there are recordings, but says he will provide the answer -- quote -- "in the very near future."

There are memos of the conversations written by Comey right after they took place. Those are in the hands of the special counsel, Robert Mueller. And the House Intelligence Committee is now demanding to see them, along with any White House recordings.

After tweeting an accusation that Comey lied under oath and claiming complete vindication for himself, the president held a news conference, saying Comey's testimony showed no collusion and no obstruction. He denied asking Comey for loyalty. He also denied asking him to let go of the FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The president's outside lawyer is now mounting an aggressive defense,

letting it be known he may file a complaint against Comey for leaking. Although the memo Comey sent through a friend to a news media did not involve classified information, its stunning allegations led to the naming of a special counsel and an investigation that may expand to focus on the president's actions.

I will talk to Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of the Armed Services Committee. And our correspondents, specialists, and guests are standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let's go straight to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, you were there today at the news conference.

And the president, as we all saw, was very defiant.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

In a performance that was long on evasion and short on coherence, the president did respond to the testimony from former FBI Director James Comey. The president said Comey's testimony vindicated him and that he did not obstruct the investigation into the Trump campaign ties with Russia or collude with the Kremlin.

Here is what the president had to say when asked about there are recordings that he has been recording here at the White House of himself, meetings he had with other people here, including the former FBI Director James Comey. In other words, where are the tapes? Here is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I will tell you something about that maybe some time in the very near future.

But, in the meantime, no collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker. But we want to get back to running our great country, jobs, trade deficits. We want them to disappear fast. North Korea, big problem. Middle East, a big problem. So that's what I am focused on.

That's what I have been focused on. But yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction. We are doing really well. That was an excuse by the Democrats, who lost an election that some people think they shouldn't have lost, because it's almost impossible for the Democrats to lose the Electoral College, as you know.

You have to run up the whole East Coast and you have to win everything as a Republican, and that's just what we did. So it was just an excuse. But we were very, very happy. And, frankly, James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said. And some of the things that he said just weren't true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: So, you hear the president there trying to have it both ways, saying that the former FBI director confirmed much of what he has said so far, but, at the same time, he's essentially accusing Jim Comey of providing false testimony when he was sworn under oath to do only -- only provide accurate, honest testimony up on Capitol Hill.

And, of course, that raises the other question. Will the president himself be willing to swear under oath everything and tell everything that he has in terms of what his information is about this investigation?

[18:05:05]

Here is what he had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: I want to get back to James Comey's testimony. You suggested he didn't tell the truth in everything he said. He did say, under oath, that you told him to let the Flynn -- you said you hoped the Flynn investigation, you could let -- he could let go.

TRUMP: I didn't say that.

QUESTION: So he lied about that?

TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that. I mean, I will tell you, I didn't say that.

QUESTION: And did he ask you -- to pledge his loyalty?

TRUMP: And there would be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody that I have read today. But I did not say that.

QUESTION: And did he ask you for a pledge of loyalty from you? That's another thing he said.

TRUMP: No, he did not.

QUESTION: So, he said those things under oath. Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of those events?

TRUMP: One hundred 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.

QUESTION: So, if Robert Mueller wanted to speak with you about that--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you, Jon.

QUESTION: And you seem to hinting that there are recordings of those conversations. TRUMP: I'm not hinting anything. I will tell you about it over a very short period of time. OK?

OK. Do you have a question here?

QUESTION: When will you tell us about the recordings?

TRUMP: Over a fairly short period of time.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Are there tapes, sir?

TRUMP: Oh, you're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don't worry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: So, the president there not willing to provide any kind of timeline as to when he is going to be answering this question whether there are recordings of his conversations over here at the White House.

Sean Spicer, the White House secretary, was asked by reporters about this as the president was leaving the White House for this weekend that he is spending up in New Jersey, Wolf. Spicer's response to reporters is that he didn't have an answer and that they should watch the helicopter departing the White House.

BLITZER: Jim, as you know, and you were there, the president took questions from two U.S. news outlets at that news conference. But I understand, and tell me if this is true, CNN was placed away from the other TV networks, further in the back. What happened there?

ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf.

And we can show you video of this just to illustrate this. And you know this from many years of covering the White House. The TV networks are typically placed in one area, one group. Every other network besides CNN was there at top right of your screen, just about the top right of your screen. You see people holding up their hands.

We were off to the bottom left there, several rows behind the president and actually behind the Romanian press as well. We were in the equivalent of Siberia, no pun intended, when it comes to where we were seated in the audience section of the press section of that Rose Garden news conference, Wolf.

And, as you know, that is highly irregular. Now, of course, that could be just an oversight on the part of the White House staff. But it could also be seen as retaliation for the reporting that we are doing over here at CNN. And, of course, if it is retaliation, that's not going to deter us from what we are doing over here.

We're going to continue to ask these hard questions, such as, where are the tapes? The White House is still not answering that question. BLITZER: Well, did they offer you any explanation at all why you guys

were placed way in the back and all of the other TV networks were up front, much closer to the president, so they could shout a question?

ACOSTA: No.

And, as matter of fact, I have e-mailed Sean Spicer this. I have asked him why it is that we were placed all the way in the back, just about all the way in the back, when the other television networks were placed in the front. They were in the front row of the section where the press is allowed to sit in the Rose Garden, Wolf. And we were simply on the opposite side of that Rose Garden.

We don't want to make the story about ourselves, Wolf, but I think the question has to be raised whether or not this White House was retaliating against CNN for the questions and the coverage that we have been providing. And it just seemed to me, Wolf, that we were placed well with -- well out of reach of being able to participate in any kind of, you know, robust way during this news conference.

We were just really put -- it felt like we were being put in time-out, quite honestly, far away from the action at this news conference.

BLITZER: Yes, it's pretty outrageous. Maybe they were afraid you would ask a tough, but important question, as you always do.

Jim Acosta, keep up the great work over there at the White House. Thanks very, very much.

Despite the president's claim of total and complete vindication, multiple investigations are picking up steam.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has the memos describing Comey's meetings with the president and a House committee wants them as well.

Let's bring in our senior Washington correspondent, Brianna Keilar.

So, Brianna, what's next?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are a lot of developments at this hour.

The House Intelligence Committee has asked for the Comey memos from Jim Comey. They have also inquired with White House counsel about getting any tape recordings, should they exist, as Donald Trump is not telling us if they do exist.

Also, Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Russia issue, according to "The National Law Journal," adding to his team a top criminal expert, Michael Dreeben, someone who has tried obstruction of justice cases in the past, perhaps a sign that the is something that Mueller's investigation could look at.

[18:10:15]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KEILAR (voice-over): The president's declaration late today that he is willing to testify under oath--

TRUMP: One hundred percent.

KEILAR: -- suggests the special counsel probe into Russian election hacking could now include Mr. Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.

SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: Since part of this, as was indicated yesterday, goes to the rationale behind the firing of Mr. Comey and the rationale of trying to deflect, if not stop, the investigation of General Flynn, it involves in some degree the president. So I would expect at some point, not right away, but at some point, that Mr. Mueller would feel he has to depose the president.

KEILAR: Comey's memos, which he says he wrote immediately after meetings and phone calls with President Trump, are now in Mueller's possession. Those memos could form the basis of expanding the investigation, to include the president's alleged asking of Comey to back off his investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, something Comey hinted at on Thursday.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Do you believe this will rise to obstruction of justice?

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It's don't know. That's Bob Mueller's job to sort that out.

KEILAR: Tonight, it appears Mueller may also be looking into others around the president.

Sources tell CNN Comey told senators behind closed doors Thursday that the FBI has investigated had possibility of an undisclosed third encounter at the Mayflower Hotel between Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sources tell CNN the meeting was discussed between an intercept of a call between Russian officials, though investigators have not concluded if it occurred. The Justice Department insists there was no encounter, Democrats are pouncing.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: What we have is a pattern of contacts with the Russians by Flynn, by Sessions, by Kushner, secret and then concealed, in fact, denied, possibly in violation of the law. That denial, as former Director Comey said today--

QUESTION: So it could be perjury?

BLUMENTHAL: Could be perjury.

KEILAR: Next Tuesday, Attorney General Sessions will appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee, a hearing likely to turn into a grilling of Sessions on the Russia issue.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: We need to know the answer to a number of questions regarding the attorney general.

KEILAR: The drip, drip, drip on the Russia story shows no sign of abating.

TRUMP: So, Jared, maybe I will let you take over for a little while.

KEILAR: CNN is told the Senate Intelligence Committee will soon interview Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser.

And Flynn has now turned over 600 pages of subpoenaed documents subpoenaed documents to the House Intelligence Committee, but is still refusing to testify without immunity.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: I'm glad that Michael Flynn turned them over. I hope that other witnesses will do the same and that, in due course, he will come in front of the committee and that the other witnesses that we have identified will come over also.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: And another development, House Democrats have requested from Deutsche Bank information about Donald Trump's loans. And we are learning, Wolf, that Deutsche Bank is saying they are not going to comply with that, that actually they cannot do that, that it would be a violation of federal privacy laws.

BLITZER: Lots of news today. Lots of developments. Brianna, thanks for that update.

Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. He is a member of the Armed Services Committee, also an Iraq War veteran.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Do you believe the president will in fact make a statement under oath to the special counsel, Robert Mueller?

GALLEGO: I would hope so. He has offered it.

But this president has a problem with the truth. He doesn't seem to follow up on anything he says or willing to do so. At first, the first thing we really should get to is whether there are tapes. And if there are tapes, it is his duty now to turn them over, since he has basically brought them into the conversation and has called out the former FBI director, who under oath said that he felt pressured by the president to drop the Flynn investigation.

BLITZER: The president also said today, as you know, Congressman, that some of what the former FBI director said wasn't true, but other stuff that he said vindicates him. So, how can he play out those accounts if they are under oath? In other words, he accepts some of what Comey says, but he says Comey is lying on other matters.

GALLEGO: Look, I think President Trump right now is acting quite delusional.

He wants to have it both ways when it comes to the conversation he had with FBI Director Comey. But at the end of the day, the best way to really clear this up is, one, if there are tapes, release them. Two, if he feels so -- that he is being so honest, then he should go under oath to special counsel Mueller and answer questions honestly and let the chips lie where they may.

At the end of the day, though, there was two people that were having dinner in the White House that day. One person was certainly lying, and the person that I know that wasn't lying is the person that has served under three different administrations and has been known to, you know, always be a straight shooter, even when us as Democrats didn't like that.

[18:15:11]

BLITZER: And he has already testified, Comey, under oath. An if he was lying during the testimony, that's perjury, that's a crime. He could wined up in jail if he was lying, as the president and the president's private attorney are alleging.

As you know, Comey also said -- and I'm quoting him now -- he said, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes."

The president had tweeted weeks ago that the director, the former FBI director, better hope there are no tapes. Let me read the exact tweet.

"James Comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press."

The president today said he will tell the country about those tapes over a short period of time and said people will be very disappointed when they hear the answer.

So here's the question. If there aren't tapes, then what should happen?

GALLEGO: If there are tapes, they should be turned over.

BLITZER: But what if there are not -- what if there are no tapes?

GALLEGO: Well, if there are no tapes, he should still sit down and speak to the special counsel under oath to actually answer whether or not there was an obstruction of justice.

Clearly, Director Comey felt that he was being pressured. He felt that he was fired for not dropping the Flynn investigation. And that points towards obstruction of justice. This is a serious question that's not being answered right now by the administration. And it is his duty to go under oath and actually speak to the counsel and answer questions in that case.

BLITZER: We will see if that happens. The president also called the former FBI director a leaker. You heard

that sound bite, a leaker because of his testimony. Comey said he in fact did release an unclassified memo to a friend of his that was be given, at least the substance of it , to a journalist and that would lead to the appointment of a special counsel. Was that appropriate, what Comey did?

GALLEGO: Well, Director Comey that point was a private citizen. That information was never privileged information. It was never classified information.

He decided to do that to protect himself, and justifiably so. Now we know how the Trump administration acts. Whenever they feel with their backs to the wall, they are just willing to lie and disparage anyone's career.

But according to what I understand from the law, that's not a leak. He was entirely within his right do it and really any efforts to classify it a leak or to try to prosecute him for that is more akin to trying to intimidate a witness than it is to actually trying to rectify a situation.

BLITZER: Congressman, stand by. We are going to continue the interview. We have got to take a quick break. There are new developments unfolding.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:22:18]

BLITZER: Our breaking news: President Trump calls FBI Director James Comey a liar and a leaker and denies asking him for loyalty or to drop the probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The president won't say if he has recordings of their conversations, but does say he is 100 percent willing to testify under oath.

We are back with Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee, an Iraq War veteran.

I want to get to another important issue that emerged today, Congressman. As I said, you're on the Armed Services Committee. The secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and the president, they had very differing messages today concerning this Mideast crisis, this standoff involving Qatar and other Gulf Arab states over terror funding.

I want you to listen to what the secretary of state said, and listen to what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The blockade is also impairing U.S. and other international business activities in the region and has created a hardship on the people of Qatar and the people whose lively hoods depend on commerce with Qatar.

The blockade is hindering U.S. military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS.

TRUMP: The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding -- they have to end that funding -- and its extremist ideology in terms of funding. I want to call in all of the nations to stop immediately supporting terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Very different messages coming from the secretary of state and the president, the secretary of state urging calm, wants the U.S. to get involved to end the blockade, says it's hurting the people of Qatar, the president saying the Qataris, they have got to stop funding terrorism.

The consequences of these mixed messaging -- the mixed messaging, what are they?

GALLEGO: Well, when it comes to international relations, U.S. foreign policy needs to be one coherent message.

When you have the secretary of state really saying the responsible thing when it comes to keeping regional balance in the Gulf, and then the president just being all over the place, it really sends, you know, bad signals and mixed signals, which is very dangerous when it comes to this area.

Secondly, it also tells us what is going on at the White House. The president is more likely listening to some Saudi Arabian allies and their advice vs. their own -- his own administration and the secretary of state, including the Department of Defense, who probably would tell him not to be engaged in this type of rhetoric.

But what the president really needs to do is just slow down, get off Twitter, talk to Secretary Tillerson and also staff up. We have been saying this in Congress, that he doesn't have the appropriate people in the secretary of state's office or in the Department of Defense to give him the proper advice when it comes to this type of incidents in regions all across the world.

[18:25:05]

But this type of incoherence is just not good. It is something that has plagued this administration. It's entirely because Donald Trump himself is disorganized and is not ready for this job.

BLITZER: The U.S. has a strategic interest in Qatar. The U.S. has thousands of military personnel at the Al Udeid Air Base.

GALLEGO: Ten thousand.

BLITZER: Yes, and Camp As Sayliyah as well. I have been to those facilities. So, the stakes for the U.S. are very, very significant right now, a very awkward exchange between the president and the secretary of state earlier in the day.

Congressman Gallego, thanks so much for joining us.

GALLEGO: Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead: more on the breaking news. Is it wishful thinking? President Trump claims complete vindication after the testimony of fired FBI Director James Comey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker.

But we want to get back to running our great country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Our breaking news, President Trump denies asking fired FBI director James Comey to pledge his loyalty or to drop the probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The president won't say if he has tapes of their conversations but does say he's 100 percent willing to answer questions under oath.

[18:31:01] The stunning new turn came during a rare news conference today. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to get back to James Comey's testimony. You suggested he didn't tell the truth in everything he said. He did say under oath that you told him to let the Flynn -- you said you hoped the Flynn investigation, you could let -- he could let go.

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 his--

TRUMP: And there would 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 [SIC]? 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 those events?

TRUMP: One hundred percent. I didn't say under oath. I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say, "I want to you pledge allegiance." Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean, think of it. I hardly know the man. It doesn't make sense. No, I didn't say that, and I didn't say the other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if Robert Mueller wanted to speak with you about that, you would be glad--

TRUMP: I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you, Jim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you seem to be hinting that there are recordings of those conversations--

TRUMP: I'm not hinting anything. I'll tell you about that 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 very short period of time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there tapes, sir?

TRUMP: Oh, you're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don't worry.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Let's bring in our political and legal experts to discuss.

Laura Jarrett, the president says he's willing to be deposed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller under oath. So what could that mean for the investigation and how would that work?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So eventually, he's going to have to sit down with Mueller and lay out everything in great detail.

But I spoke with a couple of federal prosecutors, former federal prosecutors, about this today. And everyone sort of universally agrees that Trump is not going to be the first interview in this sequence. He's going to come way down the line. And so everyone sort of has to brace themselves for the fact that this could take a while.

And the other thing is, it's not going to be a deposition like you think of, typically, with a court reporter that nobody knows. This is going to be a very small event in a windowless conference room with Mueller and key members of his team. Just like a regular FBI interview. But whatever he says, he will be under oath.

BLITZER: So if he does, Ron Brownstein, testify, make a statement, answer questions to Mueller under oath; and he comes up with a very different explanation of what was said, what wasn't said during that meeting with Comey, who himself already testified before Congress under oath, what happens next? RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is a critical moment

in the evolution of the investigation and the evolution of his presidency.

I think the key date here is August 17, 1998, when Ken Starr compelled President Bill Clinton to testify under oath before a grand jury. I'm not sure how much of a concession the president was making today, because we've established the precedent that a special counsel can do this.

And it is worth noting that out of that testimony in August 17, 1998, Ken Starr ultimately accused the president of perjury on three separate specific answers. One of which was entirely a he said/she said disagreement with Monica Lewinsky that House Republicans then used as the basis for their -- one of their articles of impeachment. Several allegations of perjury.

So that kind of gives you a sense of the stakes that are involved. Everything Ken Starr did, the fact that president is heading towards, sooner or later, testifying under oath. And I think the Starr-Clinton precedent gives you an indication of the magnitude of what that moment will mean for him.

BLITZER: President Clinton was impeached in the House of Representatives.

BROWNSTEIN: But not convicted.

BLITZER: Not convicted in the Senate. All of us old enough to remember that. Some of us White House correspondents at the time. Brianna, let's talk about the president today saying he never asked Comey for any pledge of allegiance or any loyalty, anything like that. Listen to what he said today as opposed to he went back march of 2016 last year in a rally in Orlando.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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?

Let's do a pledge. Everybody -- who likes me in this room? OK. I've never done this before. Can I have a pledge, a swearing. Raise your right hand. I do solemnly swear--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do solemnly swear--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do solemnly swear--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do solemnly swear--

TRUMP: -- that I no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there's hurricanes or whatever--

(UNINTELLIGIBLE)

TRUMP: That's good enough. Will vote on or before the 12th for Donald J. Trump for president. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was just before the Florida primary. He says he would never ask anyone for a pledge, he clearly asked those folks for a pledge.

KEILAR: He sure did. And we look that, and that was rhetoric designed for the moment. But it does bring up this point of does he remember the things that he said.

Of course, this idea of a pledge, as Jim Comey alleges, it was asked for, a pledge of loyalty, is different in seriousness than what we saw at that campaign rally, which was sort of done in jest.

The issue is, does he recall? Can he compete with a contemporaneous account by Jim Comey, someone who wrote this up right after having this interaction with Donald Trump? And it'll be really interesting in a deposition, how that recollection comes to play. Because you know the thing that, for instance, Hillary Clinton got hit for during her interview with the FBI was saying, "I don't recall" so many times.

But if you really truly do not recall exactly, which I think, actually, Donald Trump probably doesn't on some of these moments where his rhetoric is designed for the moment, you know, that's what really is what you are smart to say.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, some of president's supporters have argued that, if you end up down this road where he gives a deposition, and it's just a he said/he said, that is where it ends. I would be interested in where the prosecutors agree with that. Because as I said, there are -- there is precedent in the Ken Starr investigation, where he accused the president of perjury on no more evidence than a differing recollection from Monica Lewinsky that he said was more credible.

So is it guaranteed that, if the president says under oath, "No, I never said these things"; Jim Comey said, "Yes, I did. Here is my contemporary evidence," is it guaranteed that there's no (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the president in that?

BLITZER: Not just contemporaneous notes, but individuals, officials at the FBI--

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

BLITZER: -- with whom he shared some of those conversation.

BROWNSTEIN: That was present in that case, as well, in the start.

But I'm interested. I mean, would the president, if he says, "No, it didn't happen," and Comey says, "Yes, it did, and here's my evidence that it did," would he -- could he possibly face legal jeopardy simply from that?

JARRETT: This just shows why you need the tapes, if there are any tapes. Right? Because Mueller is not going to go into that investigation without having them, if they exist. Because then you have something to compare it to that nobody can wiggle out of. The contemporaneous notes are excellent evidence, especially since they happened at that time, but you can't fight against a recording.

KEILAR: There is a court of public opinion, though. And if you compare the credibility of Comey to President Trump, Jim Comey wins when you look at his past record compared to the president's.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, because on the tapes issue, Abby Phillip, the president said, "Over a short period of time, you'll know. I'll let you know whether or not there are tapes." And then he said, "You're going to be very disappointed" when he was pressed on the issue of tapes. What do you think he meant by that?

ABBY PHILLIP, REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, there are two options. He either has tapes or he doesn't. And if he doesn't have tapes, and he's going to reveal that at some future date, that fits into a pattern with this president, where he's trying to create a sense of suspense about something that simply doesn't exist.

And part of that has to do with undermining James Comey. The longer the prospect of tapes is out there, even if they don't exist, the more it calls into question whether there's something out there that could refute what James Comey is saying. So that's part of Trump's M.O.

But if there are tapes, that's a real -- that's a real legal problem. I think everybody who looks at the situation will say, this is -- this is where we started with -- this is where Nixon started to get into trouble, when there were tapes that could tell you exactly what happened in that room. And James Comey feels pretty confident that, if they are, they will back up his account of--

BLITZER: And remember, Laura, it was the president who first raised the the issue of, quote, "tapes" when he tweeted on May 12, "James Comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press." Could that be seen as simply an empty threat?

JARRETT: Well, that's why the tweet's so curious, right? No one knew what he meant then, and I don't think we have any better picture of what he meant today. And he had the opportunity to put this all to rest today when he was asked about it in the Rose Garden. And he said, "You'll hear about it soon enough."

But curious, why, right? And certainly, the White House counsel should know if he has tapes. Because if he does, he has an obligation under the Presidential Records Act to preserve them.

[18:40:16] PHILLIP: And the Senate has already requested the documents, if they exist. So--

BLITZER: The tapes.

PHILLIP: Exactly, the tapes. So if they do exist, he has to turn them over. There is no question about that. BROWNSTEIN: It is important to note, even without the tapes, that no -- I do not remember any Senate Republican questioning or challenging Jim Comey's version of events and saying the president said that -- this isn't what he said.

Conversely, you do not see Republicans saying, even if the president said what former Director Comey alleged, that they consider that obstruction of justice. So it's not clear that any of this moves forward until, ultimately, Bob Mueller makes his recommendation and presumably sends some sort of report to Congress, as Ken Starr did 20 years ago.

BLITZER: None of the Republicans at that hearing yesterday accused Comey of being a liar, as the president and his private attorney--

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

BLITZER: -- have done.

Everybody stick around. There's much more we need to discuss. We'll take another quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:45:46] BLITZER: Welcome back.

You know, Ron Brownstein, I want to you listen to the president of the United States today. This is in response to a question about why he felt fully vindicated by what the former FBI director, James Comey, testified. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In the meantime, no collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker. But we want to get back to running our great country. So, it was just an excuse, but we were very, very happy. And frankly, James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said. And some of the things that he said just weren't true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So, it sounds like a contradictory message. Some of what he said is true, other stuff he was lying.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What I like is true and what I don't like wasn't true. He did say that he told the president he was not under investigation but also put in an important caveat, that there were those on his staff thought it was premature to give the president that assurance, because if you were investigation collusion, potential collusion by the campaign with Russia, and President Trump, of course, was the apex of that campaign, the investigation might eventually reach him, which seemed a very reasonable conclusion.

And more importantly, regardless of what happened in the campaign, Director Comey did not at all in any possible way quite the opposite vindicate him on the question of whether or not there was possible obstruction of justice. In fact, he said there was a very damaging series -- disturbing series of events that the special counsel would investigate. So, it was pretty much the opposite of what the president said, leaving aside the logical inconsistency of saying, where he agreed with me, he was telling the truth. Where he didn't, he was lying.

BLITZER: You know, the president's private outside attorney, Marc Kasowitz, he's now threatening to file a formal complaint with the inspector general of the Justice Department, with the Senate Judiciary Committee, some are already suggesting though that could amount to an abuse of presidential power.

JARRETT: That was such a head-scratching move for a couple of reasons. First of all, James Comey has been fired. So, you're filing a complaint, not a lawsuit, but a complaint against a body, the attorney general, the inspector general's office, but they're not a disciplinary body. They do investigations.

And so, to file a complaint against them to put, what a note in his file for future hiring? That just seems like such a puzzling move on Kasowitz's part.

BLITZER: But some are suggesting it's totally inappropriate as well for a president to be doing this.

JARRETT: Well, I don't know if inappropriate as much as like what's the purpose at this point. Obviously, Kasowitz feels on the one hand, as we said, that Comey's testimony vindicated him, but then he's come up with this other narrative, that he is somehow a leaker, even though releasing the memo to his Columbia Law School professor friend didn't violate any rules by any standard, and he was perfectly within his rights to do that, without violating any --

BLITZER: I guess the argument is intimidating a potential witness.

KEILAR: Now, and sending -- yes, because it's sending a message. Your point is exactly right. What is the point of doing that? There isn't except it's about the message that they would be sending. That Kasowitz would be sending and also that would be perceived, I think, by people, by people who support Donald Trump that they are taking action. Even if it isn't a real thing, least there could be this perception that there is something.

PHILLIP: It's also important to make sure that we check back in next week to see if this actually happens. One of the things that the president often does is threaten, you know, retribution against people who have made accusations against him and not follow through. That's one element of this and it's also one of the reasons why some people have characterized this as an abuse of power, because it does suggest that what they are try doing is get on the offense for the sake of combating Comey, further undermining his character and threatening a legal case against him where there may not be one.

BLITZER: Set the scene -- Tuesday, the attorney general, who has come under a lot of criticism lately, a lot of fire, Jeff Sessions, he's going to be testifying before a Senate subcommittee. You know at least the Democratic senator is going to want to get into all of this, especially whether or not there was this third undisclosed meeting that he had with the Russian ambassador.

[18:50:00] BROWNSTEIN: And I think as part of the problem the administration has is there is this consistent pattern of undisclosed meetings, whether it was the original one with Jeff Sessions, or Jared Kushner, you know, leaving them off of official documents and then coming back later --

BLITZER: Michael Flynn.

BROWNSTEIN: And Michael Flynn as well. So, if there is a -- if in fact there have been reports that was what was testified in the closed hearing, after the open hearing, if in fact there is a third meeting, I think there are going to be many Democratic senators calling for his resignation. I think that will -- I would be surprised if it didn't end up that way.

BLITZER: And, Brianna, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, senior adviser, he's now agreed to answer questions to be interviewed by, I think, the House Intelligence Committee.

KEILAR: And we're expecting that this is going to happen very soon. And this will be so interesting, because -- well, a couple of reasons. One, this is so close to the Oval Office. I mean, just geographically, which I think represents how close Jared Kushner is to the president, he has the closest office to the presidential suite, right? This is his right hand guy. He's involved in so many things. He knows a lot.

He knows -- had many interactions with Michael Flynn. He had a lot -- or he had communication with the Putin associate ahead of that Russian bank and, most importantly, we know that he tried to establish a line of communication with the Russians that apparently was drying to avoid detection by the then-current administration.

BLITZER: Yes, I think it's the Senate Intelligence Committee.

KEILAR: Senate, the Senate.

BLITZER: Yes, we'll see what happens.

All right. Everybody, stick around. Just ahead, much more on the breaking news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:55:56] BLITZER: We're continuing to follow our breaking news as President Trump lashes out following stinging testimony by the fired FBI Director James Comey. More on that coming up shortly.

But first, CNN's Anthony Bourdain has been all over the world and in this week's "PARTS UNKNOWN", he takes us to a country he says is one of the most special places he's visited, Oman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, PARTS UNKNOWN: So what do we have here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delicious.

BOURDAIN: Delicious, all right.

Oh, man, that looks good. What's in it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is rice, potato.

BOURDAIN: Potato?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We often eat celebrations.

BOURDAIN: Lamb?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BOURDAIN: That's fantastic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good?

BOURDAIN: Wow. Never had this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Haris (ph).

BOURDAIN: Very famous dish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BOURDAIN: How do you say delicious in Arabic?

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

BOURDAIN: That's what it is.

How did you learn to cook this well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I live with my parents, a (INAUDIBLE) family. So, I have to learn how to cook because no one is taking care about yourself. You should take care about yourself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And Anthony Bourdain joins us now.

Anthony, thanks so much for joining us.

Tell us a little bit more about this episode. What made you decide to explore Oman?

BOURDAIN: I read a little bit about it, some military history, a little known conflict over the Straits of Hormuz what was possibly strategically more important than Vietnam ever was. That intrigued me and as I started looking more into the country I found more to interest me. It ended up being one of the most surprising, enchanting and interesting places I've been.

I think people should go there in droves. It's beautiful. Coasts, mountains, incredible desert. The empty quarter and really great extraordinary people and culture.

BLITZER: Unique in the sense that unlike other countries in that part of the world, is that what I'm hearing?

BOURDAIN: As a Gulf State, it's very different than Abu Dhabi or Dubai, a very enlightened sultanate in that they've only moved into the modern world relatively recently with the sultan who wisely pumps what oil money they had into infrastructure, schools, hospitals, raising the quality of life for average Omanis, and as importantly, keeping the architecture, the physical look, and the culture of traditional Oman very much alive, as well as the -- rather unusual and unique form of Islam there, embody -- embody Muslims and it is almost nonsectarian in how they deal with the rest of the world.

BLITZER: What about the food? Is it traditional Middle Eastern food or is it unique to Oman?

BOURDAIN: It is also -- their cuisine is unique. Legendary traders, voyagers, navigators, and sailors, early Omani culture would trade with countries as far away as China and travel there. So, they brought back spice, flavors, influences from all across into far -- into the Far East and their food, their culture and their blood reflect that.

BLITZER: I'm looking forward to it. Anthony Bourdain, as usual, thanks very much for doing all this important work. We love, love the series.

And to our viewers, "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN" airs Sunday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

And that's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.