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Trump Slams Comey as New Book Comes Out; Haley: Russia Failed to Keep Chemical Weapons Out of Syria; Court Hearing to Address Raids of Trump Lawyer. Aired 11:30-12n ET
Aired April 13, 2018 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] REP. JIM HIMES, (D), CONNECTICUT: Kate, what you're seeing here is you're seeing a classic Washington story, where when the facts are ugly, you attack the character and personality of the person who is -- who is pushing those facts. Kate, I was at the Department of Justice one hour ago. Jim Comey is a legend there. He's a legend within the FBI. Special agents all over the country had immense respect, talk to anybody -- just about anybody who doesn't work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they will tell you that Jim Comey is an honest and good man.
HIMES: Now, did make a mistake by discussing the investigation?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. That's what Republicans are doing now, Congressman, is they're running sound bites that you all made, things you all said after the election about James Comey.
HIMES: No. No, Kate, I'll stop you there. Reality matters, especially when you're talk about the integrity of the FBI. Lots of people, Democrats, lawyers, judges, were very concerned by Comey's breaking of protocol and publicly discussing the Hillary Clinton - remember, it was the Hillary Clinton investigation that he discussed while there was an investigation of Donald Trump. So we should have a conversation. And I think Jim Comey is reflective of whether he made the right thing. The idea this man is dishonest -- and, remember this is all part and parcel of the attempt that the White House is making to besmirch Robert Mueller, a decorated war hero. That's what's happening here. So, yes, let's have that conversation about whether Jim Comey made the right move in talking about the Hillary Clinton thing. But people will rot in hell for besmirching the reputation, integrity and the professional history of these two men.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, we have been talking about no love lost between the president and Jim Comey for a while now. Why is this -- you're angry. Why is this making you angry?
HIMES: You know why? Here in Washington, you get to have a fight about things like whether Jim Comey should have talked about the Hillary Clinton investigation. That upset a lot of Democrats. It might have cost Hillary Clinton the election. Who knows? You get to have a conversation about the tax code. You get to have a conversation about tariffs in China. You do not get to take men like Bob Mueller and Jim Comey, who have done nothing but try to serve this country and the most extraordinary circumstances, and using the apparatus of the White House, most powerful office in the land, and the Republican, the Republican National Committee, the party of Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, to trash the integrity of a good man. That's when you step over, that's when this country starts coming apart, when it is OK for the president and the White House and the storied Republican Party -- I'm a Democrat, but you know what, I'm enormously proud of what the Republican Party used to be. When those tools get used to trash the integrity of two good men, this country has gone over a cliff.
BOLDUAN: But you also said this is classic Washington. You don't like the facts, you attack his character. We saw that -- you also saw that in the Clinton investigation, if you will. From your perch, from the House intelligence perspective, you were on the committee, the intention was that you all were going to be investigating the Russia investigation. You know more about the Russia investigation than a lot of folks, of course. Does anything that has come out, what you've seen in the book, what you've heard James Comey say, does anything that has come out surprise you?
HIMES: Let me tell you this, Kate, I just, as I mentioned, I got back from the Department of Justice, and I reviewed the affidavits that -- the application for the surveillance warrants that were in question in the old Nunes memo and the Democratic response. And I will tell you this, the whole case against Jim Comey -- and as I said, we should have a very interesting conversation about whether he should have talked about the Clinton investigation during the campaign, that's totally fair game. The theory is that the FBI went off the reservation, the Department of Justice, and not just the Obama Department of Justice, remember, the president is attacking his own people, Wray, Sessions, Rosenstein, Mueller, all Republicans. Coming back from the Department of Justice this morning, I will tell you, I can't discuss what I saw, but I am more confident than ever that not only did the FBI and the DOJ not act politically, but based on what I saw this morning, if they had not initiated the investigation of Carter Page, which, of course, was in question and the broader investigation, they would have been -- they would have been committing an act of gross negligence. And so, again, we need to remember what is really happening here, which is the damaging of storied American institutions, the FBI and the DOJ and two very good men.
BOLDUAN: But I want to ask you, folks say that James Comey was already -- was doing that in part in what happened in the election.
I want to read you one of the excerpts from the book. His reasoning for the disclosure that the investigation into Hillary Clinton was reopening days before the election. "It is entirely possible because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer for Donald Trump were ahead in all polls. But I don't know," he says.
Are you OK with that? Politics was -- he's acknowledging that politics was on his mind, as he was head of the FBI, and at that crucial moment. HIMES: I think, as Jim Comey said, and as most people would
acknowledge, he was in a terrible position. Remember, ex-President Clinton had met with the sitting attorney general for a conversation on an air strip. That's, of course, why more judgment and more authority gets passed away from --
BOLDUAN: Is it --
[11:35:16] BOLDUAN: But, Congressman, isn't that why there is the president of -- we don't talk about investigations, we don't even acknowledge an investigation exists.
HIMES: Yes. Yes.
BOLDUAN: There is department policy of how they operate. That's why he's not supposed to be worrying about politics in the first place. From the outside in, it seems not a terrible position to be in. It seems an easy decision to make.
HIMES: Let me be very clear about what I think about this. I actually, having thought about it for a long time, and having reviewed some facts that are not in the public realm, I think that Jim Comey probably shouldn't have discussed any investigation, right? I will also tell you, as he acknowledges in his book, this was a tough call. I would have gone a different way. But what is not acceptable is to call him, therefore, Lying Comey. Kate, look --
BOLDUAN: You think both of these things can be true? To really sum it up, you could have screwed up when it comes to how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton, but he can also be on the -- he can be truthful and right in calling the president out?
HIMES: I think that, of course, you can be on both sides. I think the fact he chose to talk about the Clinton investigation and not the Trump investigation should, if nothing else, put the lie to the notion he was biased pro Clinton. I think he was in a tough position. I think he made the wrong call. But I will also say that damaging his integrity, attacking him as a liar, saying he was ineffective -- again, interview from special agents and find out what the FBI thinks. Kate, I have profound respect for the office of the president, but as an individual of integrity, this president does not have the right to shine Jim Comey's shoes.
BOLDUAN: Jim Himes, Congressman, thank you for coming in.
HIMES: Thank you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Moments ago, Ambassador Nikki Haley blasted Russia at a U.N. Security Council meeting, accusing Russia of not living up to its commitment to prevent the Assad regime from using chemical weapons. You will want to hear what she says. You really will. That's coming up next.
[11:41:35] BOLDUAN: An urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss and debate the situation in Syria. And U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, she did not hold back today, putting it on Russia alone. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: It is Russia alone that has stopped at nothing to defend the Syrian regime's multiple uses of chemical weapons.
Russia can complain all it wants about fake news, but no one is buying its lies and its cover-ups.
Russia was supposed to guarantee that Assad wouldn't use chemical weapons and Russia did the opposite. The world must not passively accept the use of chemical weapons after almost a century of their prohibition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I want to go over to the Pentagon now. Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is there.
Barbara, Nikki Haley also said she's confident that the chemical -- the chemical attack happened. Syria and Russia deny that it is what took place. What are you picking up now?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: What we are learning, Kate, is that samples taken from the region -- blood, urine, hair follicle samples -- tested positive for both chlorine and some type of nerve agent, all of this according to a U.S. official familiar with the test results. The samples apparently smuggled out of the region when people were brought out after the attack. We're not clear who tested them. Not clear on the chain of custody and whether or not this will be the final piece of intelligence that leads the U.S. to take some kind of action.
The NSC, National Security Council meeting, scheduled here in Washington later today. Officials, top officials will meet again and discuss all the options. And we do not know if they will, in fact, come to a decision on how to proceed. There is still always a possibility that they could take another route and go down the route of diplomatic pressure -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: This puts to rest the notion that we heard from Syria and Russia, it's a hoax and fake news, that it was a chemical weapons attack, confirmation.
Barbara, thank you so much.
Still ahead for us, it was one of his most consistent campaign promises and one of his first acts as president, pulling the United States out of the TPP trade deal. Yesterday -- we all remember how that -- what he said about TPP during the campaign. But yesterday, Donald Trump and another about face, a complete 180, what changed? We'll get to that.
But first, no one knows exactly how they would handle sudden life- altering adversity. We can all hope that it would be something like this week's "CNN Hero." An athlete, dancer, avid skier, but that all changed in the blink of an eye. And then she turned her pain into purpose. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANDA BOXTEL, CNN HERO: Twenty-six years ago, I went out skiing and I remember I landed on my back. And I knew in that instant that I was paralyzed.
But I was determined to show that I wasn't going to give up so easily.
I was inspired to create a program that could gift mobility to anyone that has a neurological impairment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:44:51] BOLDUAN: That is amazing. To see her full story, go to CNNheroes.com. While there, you, of course, can nominate you think should be a "CNN Hero."
We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: We have breaking news coming and new details coming from the courtroom about the FBI search of the office, home and hotel room of President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and the motions filed by Cohen's attorneys to try and quash it all.
CNN's Shimon Prokupecz was in the courtroom. He joins us with details.
Shimon, there was very little known about this going in. What has happened?
[11:49:53] SHIMON PROKUPEZCS, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Certainly, Kate, a lot has happened since the hearing. Word is that the president, Donald Trump, and his lawyers are trying to intervene in this action, trying to prevent the government from seeing any of the potentially privileged material that the FBI may have obtained in the search warrant. It was a new attorney just brought into the case. She said she had been hired on Wednesday. She has not filed any documents yet, but now needs time to put together a motion, a brief where she can argue to the court as to why the government should not see any of the materials, the communications, perhaps, any of the documents that were seized as it relates to the president and Michael Cohen. She is arguing that it's his privilege, and his privilege, his rights, could potentially be violated if the government was to get access to these documents. So essentially what we've also learned is that the government hasn't
even had time to review the documents they obtained in this search. This is now delayed, some of that. They have not been able to review these documents because, ultimately, they have to wait for this court to decide whether or not they can go ahead and proceed and start reviewing the documents.
The other issue here is from Michael Cohen's attorney. And they are arguing the same thing, privilege here, and that they also feel the attorney privilege, Michael Cohen has that right to privilege, and that the government should not have access to these documents. They're also asking that perhaps a special master in this case be appointed or come in to review some of these documents, and that person make the determination as to what the government should look at, should have access to.
But I think the headline here is really that the president, Donald Trump, is now trying to intervene in preventing the government from having access.
And just a little color here, Kate, Michael Avenatti was in court. He's now expected to come -- he's Stormy Daniels' attorney.
PROKUPECZ: He's going to come back this afternoon and argue some privacy issue, perhaps, as it relates to his client, because there is discussion in open court the judge wants to have. But he's concerned some of that, if it's made public, could violate her rights.
So a lot of different moving parts here. Certainly, we were all shocked that the president's attorneys were now coming in
PROKUPECZ: -- trying to intervene. There's really been a lot of developments here.
We're supposed to come back this afternoon around 2:00 for some more arguments and then there is going to be additional arguments on Monday from the judge, that the judge has called for. We'll see what happens this afternoon. No doubt, certainly, a lot of different things, a lot of moving parts in this case now.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Shimon. You summed it up really well on what the headline is.
I want to ask more about the president being represented in court today, but we think we have the sound of Michael Avenatti. You said he was in the courtroom and he spoke outside. Let's listen to that first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION) MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Well, my client's documents are some of the documents that were seized in connection with the search warrants, number one. And number two, we're here to ensure that this process is as public and as open as possible. Justice Louis Brandeis said some light is the best disinfectant, and that's what our case is about. And we're here to ensure that the American people have as much access to documents and information concerning this critical investigation as possible.
We're also here to support the efforts of the U.S. attorney's office from the southern district of New York to ensure that this privilege review is conducted in a fair and equitable manner, that above all else, maintains integrity of these documents.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What did you think of the fact that Michael Cohen has another lawyer representing him because his lawyer is being represented by lawyers -- (INAUDIBLE)?
AVENATTI: Well, it's our view at the very moment that those raids were conducted on Monday, that a non-waivable conflict of interest occurred between Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump that mandated, required, that he get new counsel. So I'm not surprised by that. What I'm surprised at is that it appears to have taken him two, two and a half days to get new counsel in place. In my view, he should have had new counsel by the close of business Monday. It's shocking to me that the president of the United States is not able to obtain competent legal counsel for some 48 hours after his attorney's offices are raided. That's rather shocking to me.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you met with prosecutors in the criminal matter?
AVENATTI: I'm not going to get into whether we've met with them or communicated with them. What I will say is we're fully cooperating with the U.S. attorneys from the southern district of New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Shimon, let me bring you back in as we finished listening to Michael Avenatti. It almost seemed like Michael Avenatti was almost surprised the president's attorney was in the courtroom, too.
[11:55:00] PROKUPECZ: Yes, and I had a conversation with him, Kate, about that. He was sitting in the well of the courtroom behind Michael Cohen's attorneys, which was also interesting, though Michael Cohen wasn't there. He was sitting in the back. I went over to him and I had a conversation, and I asked him, is this essentially a surprise to you that the president's attorneys are now coming in and arguing this. He said he's shocked. He said he's completely shocked it took so long. The president's attorneys told me that they were not brought into the case until Wednesday night.
BOLDUAN: Wow. A lot more to come.
Shimon, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
We'll continue following this breaking news. Much more on this ahead.
We'll be right back after the break.