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NY Post Trump Asked Former FBI Director James Comey To Investigate Salacious Tape Allegation To Reassure First Lady. Aired 5- 6p ET

Aired April 12, 2018 - 17:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: it for "THE LEAD." I turn you over now Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.

[17:00:04] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, undermining Rosenstein. A CNN exclusive, the White House is preparing talking points for its allies to undermine the man overseeing the Russia investigation, the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. Will Trump, President Trump raise the stakes dramatically and fire Rosenstein?

Disciplined approach. After attacking the Russia probe as corrupt and a witch hunt, President Trump tweets that he agrees with what he calls his legal team's cooperative, disciplined approach toward the special counsel. What kind of signal is he sending to Robert Mueller?

Thirty-thousand dollar payoff. New reports say a former Trump doorman was paid $30,000 to keep quiet about a possible scandal. Now the doorman is speaking out. As a porn star and a Playmate wage legal fights to discuss their alleged affairs with Donald Trump.

And blackmail denials. The governor of Missouri facing allegations that he abused and threatened a woman during sexual encounters. He denies blackmail claims but faces a criminal trial. Could he also face impeachment?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news, CNN has learned that the White House is now laying the groundwork for an attack on the credibility of the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Sources say talking points are being drawn up for a campaign against Rosenstein, even as some allies of the president call for his firing.

And a former doorman reportedly paid to keep quiet about a shocking story about Donald Trump. That doorman is now going public with new details about another alleged affair.

I'll speak with Congressman Joaquin Castro of the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. And our correspondents and specialists, they're standing by with full coverage. But let's begin with the breaking news. CNN is learning that the

White House is now engaged in an effort to undermine Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, the official responsible for supervising the Mueller investigation. That comes even as Rosenstein met with the president today at the White House.

Our political correspondent, Sara Murray, joining us. Sara, what are you learning about these talking points?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the sources who are familiar with this messaging says it still seems to be in its early phases, but it seems to cast Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, as essentially too conflicted to oversee the Russia investigation and basically makes the case that he's a witness to this investigation, because he helped prepare this memo that President Trump ultimately used to defend his decision to fire James Comey, the former FBI director.

But it also alleges that Rod Rosenstein and James Comey are good friends, which a source familiar with the situation says isn't true. But it essentially says that the reason Rosenstein has allowed this investigation to expand is retribution, because the White House allowed his friend, James Comey, to be fired.

All of this, of course, appears to be an effort to undermine the deputy attorney general at a time when President Trump is considering firing him.

BLITZER: It's interesting, because in the days following the president's decision to fire James Comey, White House officials heaping a lot of praise on Rosenstein.

MURRAY: They were. And of course, that was after Rosenstein wrote this memo helping the president defend the firing. Here's what Sarah Sanders said last May.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Somebody like the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who everybody across the board has unequivocally said this guy is a man of upstanding character and essentially the gold standard at the Justice Department, when you take an action like that, when you go around the chain of command in the Department of Justice, then you have to make steps and take action to make a recommendation to the president, and that's what he did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: So you hear her there calling Rosenstein a gold standard of a Justice Department official. Obviously, the opinion in the White House has changed on that after the president has watched Michael Cohen, his longtime lawyer, have his office, his home, his hotel room raided. They blame Rod Rosenstein for this, for allowing it to move over to the southern district of New York, for allowing that raid to be conducted. And they're also upset with Rod Rosenstein, colleague Pamela Brown is

reporting, because he wrote this memo that we've now seen in court filings, essentially allowing Bob Mueller to look into people's finances like Paul Manafort's as part of the Russia probe so they really believe that he's now overstepped the grounds.

BLITZER: Former U.S. attorney in Maryland, Rod Rosenstein, had the highest, highest credentials going into this job. He is a Republican, we should point out, after all.

Sara, good reporting. Thank you.

Let's turn to CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. There are other developments unfolding even as we speak. What are you learning, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And as Sara was talking about Rod Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein was over here at the White House today, Wolf. The president met with the deputy attorney general here at the White House as conservative voices are pleading with Mr. Trump to end the special counsel's investigation into Russian meddling.

[17:05:12] Now the president is hinting he will continue to cooperate with the Russia probe as lawmakers of both parties are warning of a constitutional crisis if he tries to shut it down.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Mr. President, how was your meeting with Rod Rosenstein?

(voice-over): President Trump didn't want to talk about him in the Rose Garden.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you very much. Good morning.

ACOSTA: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia investigation, paid a visit to the White House. Officials say it was just a routine meeting with the president, but it's one that comes as conservatives close to Mr. Trump are blasting Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Let's look at the Mueller crime family. Now, of course, we are now on day 329 of the Mueller witch hunt, and there's still zero evidence of collusion. Imagine that.

ACOSTA: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, whose wife is ambassador to the Vatican, likened FBI agents working under the Mueller probe to that of Stalin's Russia and the Nazis.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It ain't the rule of law when they kick in your door at 3 a.m. in the morning, and you're faced with armed men and you have had no reason to be told you're going to have that kind of treatment. That's a -- that's Stalin. That's the Gestapo in Germany. That shouldn't be the American FBI. ACOSTA: "The Washington Post" reports former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is pushing a plan to disrupt the Russia investigation by firing Rosenstein. But both Democrats and Republicans are warning against any move against the special counsel.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Well, I think it would be a constitutional crisis, but let's hope that he does not.

ACOSTA: Republican Senator Orrin Hatch tweeted, "Anyone advising the president, in public or over the airways, to fire Bob Mueller does not have the president or the nation's best interest at heart. Full stop."

ACOSTA: The president's defenders are also gearing up to go after former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by the president and is out with a book slamming Mr. Trump. The RNC has launched a website approved by the White House calling, "Lying Comey," to hit back at the former FBI director, echoing Hannity on FOX.

HANNITY: Tonight Comey is already in hot water after comparing the president to a mob boss.

ACOSTA: For now, the president is indicating he's not ready to go to war with the investigators just yet, tweeting support for his own White House legal team: "I have agreed with the historically cooperative, disciplined approach that we have engaged in with Robert Mueller. I have full confidence in Ty Cobb, my special counsel."

Aides insist the president is spending more time working on a response to Syria's suspected chemical weapons attack.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll see what happens now. We have to make some further decisions.

ACOSTA: The president is dialing back his rhetoric from earlier in the week, when he telegraphed a strike on Syria was coming. But today he tweeted, "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not soon at all." He president was also in the defensive mood in the Rose Garden when he claimed he's still draining the swamp as members of his cabinet faced ethical questions.

TRUMP: I've been fighting to drain the swamp; and sometimes it may not look like it, but believe me, we are draining the swamp.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, a source familiar with discussions over here at the White House about the Mueller probe says the president may still be willing to sit down with the special counsel if, quote, "both sides can keep their powder dry." That's, of course, a warning that the president may not tolerate any more developments like earlier this week, when his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, raided by the FBI and, Wolf, I'm told by a source over here that the president's anger has subsided after that raid from what we saw earlier this week -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at White House with the latest. Thank you very much.

Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas. He's a member of the Intelligence and the Foreign Affairs Committees.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. I want to get your quick reaction to this new strategy we just reported out from the White House. They want to undermine the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, by suggesting he's conflicted given his role in the firing of the FBI director, James Comey.

Does this rationale make any sense to you at all, or does the White House appear to be laying the groundwork for Rosenstein's firing?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS; It is a bad strategy. and if they continue along that path, it looks like their ultimate goal to fire Rosenstein so they can get rid of Mueller. And that would take us right into a constitutional crisis and, I think, would get the ball rolling on impeachment for this president.

BLITZER: Why do you think it would take the U.S. into a constitutional crisis? The president clearly has the authority to fire Rosenstein if he wants.

CASTRO: But it's also clear that this investigation is getting closer and closer to the president. And his close confidants and the Trump Organization. So it would be a clear move to make himself above the law and make it such that he could put a friendlier person in there to do the investigation, rather than have somebody do a fair, thorough and honest investigation.

BLITZER: Well, you make a point that others have made, because they worry that a new deputy attorney general overseeing the Mueller probe might allow the special counsel to complete his investigation but then decline to actually release the report to the public or even to Congress. Do you share that concern?

[17:10:04] CASTRO: I do. That is a big concern, that you would basically put in there a person who is very friendly to the president, who's got the president's back. It's clear that, in his life, he's had people like Michael Cohen; perhaps the publisher of, you know, "The Enquirer" and others who have basically protected him. And it looks like he may be trying to create the same situation now from the White House.

BLITZER: Is there anything Congress would be able to do to force the release of Mueller's report if that scenario were to come -- were to come to pass?

CASTRO: I think Congress should take that step. Yes. Absolutely.

BLITZER: How would you do it? How would you be able to force the release of that report?

CASTRO: If the leaders in Congress, both Republican and Democrat, were committed to doing something like that, it would be fairly easy to do, I think. BLITZER: Well, let's turn to the special counsel's investigation,

after attacking Robert Mueller by name on Twitter yesterday, the president today sent out a tweet to promote -- he actually did this last night, Sean Hannity's show on FOX News. And during the show, Hannity laid out a conspiracy theory about what he called the "Mueller crime family," the Comey crime family. Several other high-profile FOX News personalities have renewed attacks on Mueller, as well.

Does this appear, at least to you, Congressman, to be a coordinated effort with the White House?

CASTRO: It does look very much like it's a coordinated effort out of the White House. Done perhaps by President Trump and his closest allies to discredit really anybody that could damage the president. But particularly Mr. Mueller and Mr. Rosenstein.

BLITZER: The Republican National Committee is also trying to discredit the former FBI director, James Comey, before he releases his new book in the coming days, running a new website called "Lying Comey." And they're using quotes from high-profile Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer who also had some critical things to say about Comey during the Hillary Clinton investigation. What's your reaction?

CASTRO: Well, again, I think it's part of this coordinated effort. They know that James Comey's book is coming out. I saw in some of the media previews that it looks like James Comey is comparing the president to a mob boss, which is a remarkable statement coming from a former FBI director. And they're anticipating a lot of damage.

And on all fronts, I think this president is playing defense, both in his personal life and also in terms of what's going on with the Russia investigation and in terms of policy. The situation in Syria. And the fact that over the last two days, he's basically flip-flopped his position on whether he's going to take action in Syria. So this is a president that is very much hunkered down and on the defensive.

BLITZER: Congressman Joaquin Castro, thanks for joining us.

CASTRO: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, more breaking news. A former doorman reportedly paid to keep quiet about a shocking story involving Donald Trump. The doorman is now going public with new details about another alleged affair.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:17:31] BLITZER: President Trump faces a lawsuit over a hush-money deal with a porn star, and a former Playmate sues to be released from a hush agreement over an alleged affair. Another bombshell is bursting concerning yet another payoff. This one involves a former doorman at one of the president's buildings in New York, and he has a salacious story to tell.

Let's go live to our national correspondent, Bryn Gingras. Bryn, what are you learning?

BRYN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's just what you just laid out. It's a pattern, right, Wolf? That we've seen with Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal. And now claims of another Trump affair. This time, again, coming from a former doorman of Trump World Tower here in New York City.

Now, there are stories against the president, allegedly covered up by Trump allies in exchange for payments during the 2016 presidential race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS (voice-over): Shocking new details tonight of another payment by "The National Enquirer's" parent company to a person claiming to have a negative story about Donald Trump. A story the company then chose to bury.

According to several media reports, in late 2015 after Trump got into the presidential race, tabloid publisher AMI paid Trump's former doorman, Dino Sajudin, $30,000 for what he purportedly knew about Trump allegedly fathering a child with a former employee in the '80s. The accusations haven't been proven by any news outlet, and the Trump Organization denied the claim in a statement to "The Washington Post." Ronan Farrow reported the story for "The New Yorker."

RONAN FARROW, "THE WASHINGTON POST": We didn't uncover evidence this was real. However, what we did uncover very firmly was source after source within AMI saying they paid this money.

GINGRAS: Radar Online, a tabloid also owned by AMI, published a story Wednesday outlining the deal with Sajudin and included a memo, an e- mail and a report of a lie detector test which they say Sajudin took in December 2015 and passed. After the test, AMI paid Sajudin but then killed the story, claiming they couldn't prove Sajudin's allegations were true, according to Radar Online.

FARROW: They then added a liquidated damages clause to this deal with this individual who had the information from supposedly within the company, saying he would have to $1 million if he ever breathed a word of this.

GINGRAS: The former doorman confirmed in a statement to CNN that he had a confidential agreement with AMI, which has since been leaked adding, quote, "I can confirm that while working at Trump World Tower, I was instructed not to criticize President Trump's former housekeeper due to a prior relationship she had with President Trump which produced a child."

[17:20:03] AMI's chairman, David Pecker, is a friend of the president. The publisher states it's since released Sajudin from his contract and denies shutting down the story saying, quote, "AMI categorically denies that President Trump or Michael Cohen had anything to do with its decision not to pursue its story about a," quote, "'love child' that it determined was not credible." Adding, quote, "AMI and Mr. Pecker emphatically deny any suggestion that there might have been any partnership created which might influence any business ties in regard to AMI. These claims are reckless, unsubstantiated and false."

Sajudin's story sounds similar to that of former "Playboy" model Karen McDougal, who AMI paid $150,000 to just months before the 2016 election for details about her alleged affair with Trump, ten didn't publish it.

FARROW: This is about the most powerful people in the country having the ability to silence and change the news narrative at will, and I think that the public should know that.

GINGRAS: McDougal recently told Anderson Cooper her attorney approached AMI.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did you know that your attorney was going to go to AMI, which is the parent company which owns "National Enquirer," and other magazines?

KAREN MCDOUGAL, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH TRUMP: He said AMI. I didn't know what AMI was to be honest. He said, "AMI, we have this company that, you know, they'll probably want to hear your story." So --

COOPER: What was the thought of selling the story, in your mind?

MCDOUGAL: To get my truth out there. I wasn't looking for money, clearly, but when he said it's worth many millions, I'm like -- you know?

COOPER: The White House has denied the affair, and McDougal has sued AMI to be released from her agreement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GINGRAS: And as CNN reported, the warrant that the FBI raid of Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen's home, office and hotel room this week referenced AMI.

Again, Sajudin's claims have not been proven by CNN or other media outlets. No comment from the White House regarding this. But in a statement the Trump Organization essentially called Sajudin a liar, saying, quote, "Mr. Sajudin is alleged to have a long history of peddling false and malicious stories for his own benefit" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bryn Gingras reporting for us. Thank you very much.

We're going to get our correspondents and analysts. They are here. We're going to get their reaction to these latest truly shocking revelations. But stand by. We need to take a quick break first.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:27:03] BLITZER: We're back with our experts as we follow multiple breaking stories, including some explosive new excerpts from the former FBI director, James Comey's, new book. Chris Cillizza, you know, you just read the story in "The New York

Post." It's got some truly salacious details of a conversation that the president supposedly had with Comey.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Right. So we knew that there was going to be some bombshells in here. This certainly is a big one. I want to read just a few of the quotes from "The New York Post" as obtained -- the Comey memo as obtained by "The New York Post."

This is regarding Comey writing about Trump. "He brought up what he called 'the golden showers thing,' adding that it bothered him if there was," quote, "'even a one percent chance,'" end quote, "his wife Melania thought it was true." And it goes on: "He just rolled on, unprompted, explaining why it couldn't possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegations to prove it was a lie. I said it was up to him."

BLITZER: And he's referring to these salacious allegations were in that Steele dossier.

CILLIZZA: Yes, so OK. So the Steele dossier produced by a former British spy, some of which has been verified by the intelligence community, some of which has not. This allegation regarding an alleged tape existing of Donald Trump involved in what I would say is odd activity is part of the non-confirmed piece.

But people published the entire -- some news organizations, not CNN, published the entire Steele Dossier, meaning that people could read through the whole thing, even though parts of it were clearly unconfirmed by the intelligence community.

Donald Trump is set to sort of throw the baby out with the bathwater and say, "Well, all of this dossier is false." The intelligence community has unconfirmed parts of it. This would be the unconfirmed part. But my gosh if you look up "salacious" in the dictionary, you're going to find something along these lines.

BLITZER: Really, Gloria, the first excerpts that we're getting from this new book. It's been under wraps. It's going to be coming out in the next few days.

But there's another line in "The New York Post" article. They clearly have a copy of the book. This is "The New York Post" saying "In what kind of marriage -- to what kind of man does a spouse conclude there's only a 99 percent chance her husband didn't do that?" This is what Comey writes in the book that hits the book shelves --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And this at the dinner the two of them had together?

BLITZER: They met at the White House.

BORGER: I think Comey's question is a good question. And I -- it leads me also to understand the president's anxiety, angst and out -- and lashing out right now about Stormy Daniels and about Karen McDougal, because first of all, he believed that his wife might have thought there was a 1 percent chance this was true, and now you have allegation after allegation after allegation. You have the raiding of Michael Cohen's -- his private, personal attorney/ fixer, (INAUDIBLE) office which may have more information potentially, we don't know, about more women, and so, this was clearly -- a president who was asking the director of the FBI to do his marriage counseling for him, and use federal resources to make sure that his wife knew that this was not true.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Which, by the way, just to add to Gloria's point, does go against what Trump has said. So, Trump has essentially said publicly this is disgusting. This -- even rumors of this, how could they?

BORGER: Yes.

CILLIZZA: So, the fact that privately, he was saying to Comey, hey, can you just sort of, you know, tie this up in a bow for Melania. According, again, (INAUDIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Bianna? Go ahead Bianna.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Specifically, the President, in that first conference that he held after he won, said this isn't possible because I'm a germaphobe. Remember not because I have an upstanding relationship with my wife and why would I ever do that to my wife it's because he was a germaphobe. And then, come to find out what we know now about the allegations of relationships that he's had with women, and which he engaged in unprotected intercourse, you start to wonder, OK, what happened to that germaphobe back then in the day? But you also remember that Comey himself said that he was the one who had decided to go to the president-elect at the time alone without the other intelligence heads and tell the president-elect about this dossier because he thought that it would be less embarrassing for him to get the details from one person as opposed to multiple. Of course, the president then turned it around and said that he believed Comey used it as some sort of blackmail.

BORGER: Is this what loyalty was supposed to mean then?

CILLIZZA: I need your loyalty, I expect your loyalty.

BORGER: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Joey, you know, this is just a first little excerpt that we're getting from the actual Comey book. I assume there's a lot more and people are going to wonder, you know, Comey decides to release all these really, really sensitive details and this is clearly the most salacious part of that so-called dossier.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm sure there's more to come but, you know, at the base this is appalling. I mean, the reality is that you're the President of the United States. You have your FBI director, we have major issues going on throughout the world, right? I mean, now, fast forwarding it, of course not, particularly then, but, you know, there's always issues that you have to deal with. We're dealing with China and I'm sure he's contemplating the distinction in trade and what he should do about that. He's dealing at the time with tax policy and tax issues, we're dealing with world issues, we're dealing with Russia and their threats, we're dealing with Syria and what's going on there, and you're asking for an investigation about (INAUDIBLE) I mean, it's just -- it's insane times that we're living in and it's problematic and you would expect more and better of the President of the United States.

BORGER: You know, the FBI director is not your private investigator. And this is the way the president treated him, and quite honestly, this is the way the president treats the Justice Department, which is you work for me so you got to help me out of this mess. And Melania, you know, who is now going through all of this, is going through one more thing here and then there's the, you know, question of other stories with the doorman and a child out of -- out of wedlock which we have not confirmed, I must say. But there are -- there are all of these other issues, and, you know, this is a president who has denied every single one of them.

CILLIZZA: I also -- I do think I can feel people saying, this -- you guys are just -- this is salacious. Who cares? OK. Let's just put it in some context. The allegation unproven, unconfirmed by the FBI. The allegation was Russia had some of this incriminating evidence that they could use to compromise -- some compromising evidence to make Donald Trump do what they would like. So it is --now, again, big emphasis on unconfirmed. This is a part of the dossier that was unconfirmed, the Steele dossier, but that this is not just a -- because it's a titillating detail about a famous person's private life, alleged detail about a famous person's private life. There is context by which this was included in this Steele dossier, although, that, obviously, is not confirmed.

GOLODRYGA: And Wolf --

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting -- Bianna, I just want to point out and I'll get your reaction to this. And The New York Post reports this as well, Gloria remembered, this was that private dinner of the President had with Comey on January 27th, 2017, and it was during that dinner as a lot of us remember, it was then that the President -- Comey claimed the President demanded his loyalty.

[17:35:02] GOLODRYGA: Yes. He said I pledge to always tell you the truth. He said it was one of the most uncomfortable dinner conversations he'd ever had. Now, counter that, though, counter the president allegedly asking the FBI director to investigate allegations of a salacious tape compared to what we now know all of the intelligence head had unanimously testified saying that the president had not specifically asked them to investigate Russia interfering in the U.S. election. So, it gives you a sense of what was a higher priority on the president's mind was to look into salacious allegation versus what all of his intelligence chiefs were telling him was their ultimate conclusion. He didn't seem to care about that as much as this tape.

BORGER: And it's -- the question here, and I think I'm echoing a little bit of what Chris said is, like, forget the salacious stuff. Let's say it didn't happen. You know, this is an issue of is the President of the United States subject to blackmail.

CILLIZA: That's right.

BORGER: Period. Is this subject to --

BLITZER: If the Russians had a videotape.

BORGER: If the Russians had a video -- if they say they have a video and -- is he subject to blackmail? That's important to our national security. That would be something that James Comey would be interested in, and that is probably why, I would argue and I think it is why, that Comey told the president about the things that were contained in the dossier because it is an -- it is an issue of national security.

BLITZER: You know, Joey, the fired FBI Director Comey in this book according to The New York Post says he warned Trump that an investigation might, in his words, create a narrative that we are investigating him personally, and that was the downside. Maybe it's not a good idea for us to even look into this salacious allegation.

JACKSON: I think the reality is that there's some requirement of the understanding of how our government works. And the fact of the matter is that the president needs to and should understand that, look, you are the president and as a result of that you coordinate the executive branch, you make the appointments, people serve at your pleasure, we get that. But, you know, to the extent that they serve at your pleasure, to Gloria's point, they don't work for you. And the reality further is and in keeping with that is that, you know, we know now that the Justice Department certainly operates independently and that's why we're here at this point. Right?

With him wanting to fire Rod Rosenstein, and Rod Rosenstein apparently signing off on the southern district going and exercising that, you know, all the search warrants in terms of the hotel and the apartment and the law office of his attorney, and so, thank goodness notwithstanding the president's misunderstanding in terms of how our government functions and works and who the Justice Department works for, I think the Justice Department itself and the professionals who work there and in the FBI have an understanding of what their responsibilities are and whether or not he does, they're moving forward in order to protect this democracy and I think that's a significant thing.

BLITZER: You know, if you think President Trump was furious at Comey up until now, just wait until he goes through more of this book.

BORGER: Well, he may have done it -- wait. He may have done him a favor because now he can't be blackmailed because it's out there. One way or another.

BLITZER: Yes, well, I'm sure -- I'm sure the president is not very happy about reading --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: -- one of his favorite newspaper, The New York Post, not The Washington Post, The New York Post this report.

All right. We're going to continue to stay on top of the breaking news. Much more right after this.

[17:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories right now including salacious new excerpts from the former FBI Director James Comey's new book. Joining us now to discuss this and more, the former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, our Josh Campbell, who's now a CNN Contributor. Josh, according to the Associated Press which also obtained a copy of the book, Comey calls President Trump, and I'm quoting now, "untethered to truth." Calls his leadership of the country, once again I'm quoting, "ego-driven and about personal loyalty." What's your reaction? Very, very blunt, stark words from Comey in this new book.

JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT AND CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is blunt. And, Wolf, let me just say at the onset, I haven't read the book yet but I think now, it's the opportunity for Jim Comey to finally tell his story. If you think about it, I mean, who in this country out of every -- all, you know, 300 plus million Americans has had an opinion formed about them without being able to tell their full side of the story. So, I think what we're going to see is, you know, Jim Comey just telling it from his point of view like it is, and it's something that, you know, is obviously going to be in depth. If you go back to his June hearing on Capitol Hill where he started going through a lot of the, you know, what he considered lies from the White House and describing him and some of his actions that teed up a lot of what we're going to see, I think, in the book that's coming up now. A lot of those, you know, details taking the public along with him throughout the election, throughout the aftermath and up into his firing.

BLITZER: And now, The New York Post is reporting that the president actually asked Comey after Comey briefed him about some of those salacious details in that so-called dossier, the president asked him to go and investigate in order to convince Melania Trump, his wife, that there was no truth to this. What do you -- is that appropriate for the president to ask the FBI director to look into something like this to make sure that the marriage was going to be OK?

[17:44:54] CAMPBELL: So, that has been the question, right? I mean, when you have individuals that are coming into government that don't have government experience, they may not be aware of that long-held norm that the FBI and the Department of Justice are in the executive branch. They are not of the executive branch. They have to remain independent in order to maintain credibility. That's how we want it in our system of justice. We don't want the White House or any other agency interfering and directing the FBI to go and you know, investigate something for personal reasons. Now, I can see as I look at the situation and, you know, I obviously I

don't want to confirm any details but as I look at what's been reported, I can tell there's a possibility and, you know, some hypothetical world where, you know, the FBI wanted to determine if perhaps the President could be blackmailed, if there was some kind of bad information that was out there. I can see them trying to shore that up and gather information but the way it's been reported, it wasn't that, it was more of a domestic-type situation where the President wanted to assure the first lady. So, in that instance, I think that it would raise a lot of questions when it comes to the division that independence between the White House and the Department Of Justice.

BLITZER: Stand by, Josh. We're getting more details, incredible new details on this new Comey book. We're going to continue our reporting on it right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:43] BLITZER: We're back with our analysts as we follow this hour's breaking news, salacious new excerpts from former FBI Director James Comey's new book. Josh Campbell is still with us. Josh, let's talk a little bit about what the A.P., the Associated Press is now reporting. They say they have a copy of the book that Comey writes about his first meeting with Donald Trump after the election, during the transition apparently, and writes -- and I'm quoting now, this quote from the story -- "They were about to lead a country that had been attacked by a foreign adversary, yet they had no questions about what the future Russian threat might be." That's what Comey writes about the President and his team. What's your reaction to that?

CAMPBELL: Wolf, if you go back to that day, that meeting at Trump Tower, there were two parts to that, and the first, being the national security side. I was there with Comey not in the meetings, obviously, staff they weren't invited, but it was a principal so as national security leaders and the incoming administration and they went through and talked about a number of threats. And I think coming out of that meeting, a lot of the officials, almost to a person had that same view that here we had, you know, reports by the intelligence community of Russian interference in the election. We're talking about the, you know, hacking of the DNC and Podesta e-mails and the likes. So, this was something that was clearly not a secret, but that was the initial reaction, that they didn't seem as alarmed as you would expect, I guess, from an administration that's just been told that there are all these threats on the horizon.

Now, the second part of the meeting, as we remember, you know, from news reports was the director himself, Director Comey and the president-elect meeting separately in order to go through that Steele dossier, and a lot of the information that was in there. And I -- again, I haven't read the book. I assumed that there will be some parts in there on that. But to the point of national security and to the point of the threat, this was something -- this was a meeting where you had multiple officials that were presenting and trying to, you know, ring that bell and show that these are threats that are real and they have to addressed, but they didn't leave there, I guess with that same kind of, you know, sense of -- or at least that sense of comfort that the incoming administration was taking it as seriously as they had.

BLITZER: You're a former FBI supervisory agent, special agent, who actually worked for Comey at the time, who was the FBI Director. Bianna, The Washington Post now has a copy of the book as well. New York Post, The Washington Post, Associated Press, so it's out there pretty much. Comey writes according to the Washington Post about these allegations of Donald Trump interacting supposedly allegedly with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013, during the Miss Universe contest there. Comey stresses, according to The Washington Post which has a copy of the book that Trump "strongly denied the allegations, asking rhetorically, I assumed, whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes. He then he began discussing cases where women of accused him of sexual assault, a subject I had not raised. He mentioned a number of women and seemed to have memorized their allegations." That's what Comey is writing in the book according to the Washington Post. Your reaction.

GOLODRYGA: Well, remember what the President said, the President elected -- his first press conference when he said aside from being a germophobe that he knew and that he had warned everybody that have been traveling with him to Russia at that time that Russians monitored all the hotel rooms, so they should be aware of what's going because they had no privacy in these rooms. So, he seemed very prepared for that first presser coming out of this meeting where that he had with Comey, the one-on-one, which may have actually been Comey's undoing, you know, involuntarily in the sense that Comey thought he was doing the President a favor by, A, wanting to give him this information so the President maybe would not be in a compromising situation, but also didn't want to embarrass him. No one else was in the room with him when he had this conversation with the president. And of course, the President's reaction to that and in Comey telling him that, at least, publicly, was that he viewed this as a sense of blackmail from Comey that if he didn't do things a certain way, that Comey would hang this out over him and threaten him in months ahead.

BLITZER: According to the Washington Post (INAUDIBLE) the book, describes that Donald Trump as a congenital liar, an unethical leader devoid of human emotion and driven by personal ego. We have a lot more coming up in the breaking news. These explosive new excerpts from former FBI Director James Comey's new book. According to the New York Post, Comey writes that the President -- that President Trump asked him to investigate allegations about a salacious tapes, supposedly that the Russians had to reassure the First Lady.

[17:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, Comey speaks out. The New York Post is reporting explosive excerpt from the former FBI Director James Comey's new book. President Trump allegedly asking Comey to investigate reports of a salacious tape in order to reassure the First Lady he hadn't comported with Russian prostitutes.

Taking down Rosenstein, sources reveal a new effort by the White House to undermine the Justice Department's Russia investigation and the Deputy Attorney General in charge of that investigation, it's a CNN exclusive.