TRANSCRIPT

'Special Report' All-Star panel dissects Comey's testimony

Comey: Nobody asked me to stop the Russia probe

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," June 8, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: The administration then chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies plain and simple.

SEN. ANGUS KING, I-MAINE: In his interview with Lester Holt on NBC, the president said I had dinner with him. He wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. Is this an accurate statement?

COMEY: No sir.

KING: The president was asked whether he had urged you to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn. The president responded, quote, No, no. Next question. Is that an accurate statement?

COMEY: I don't believe it is.

MARC KASOWITZ, TRUMP PERSONAL ATTORNEY: The president never suggested that Mr. Comey, quote, Let Flynn go, close quote. The president also never told Mr. Comey, quote, I need loyalty. I expect loyalty, close quote.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The president's personal attorney there reacting to two-and-a-half hours of testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. Let's bring in our panel: Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor at Real Clear Politics, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Charlie, your overall assessment?

CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON TIMES: I don't really know how anybody could come out of this without thinking that it was a good day for the president. There are a lot of things that are still being disputed by the White House, but let's assume that everything that Director Comey said is exactly what happened. It's clear the president didn't obstruct justice. He isn't and wasn't under investigation for ties to Russia.

And then the new things, obviously there's some more unpleasant things that we already knew about, such as the pressure that it appears he put on Comey in the White House which obviously is not the way things work in Washington. But for no one is that a surprise. Donald Trump doesn't do things the way things are done in Washington. The only new things that came out was this sort of bombshell about Loretta Lynch that suggests that not only did she perhaps obstruct justice, she also tampered in the election. So I think that overall it has to be considered a victory for Donald Trump.

BAIER: The other bombshell there was that I think caught even the senators by surprise who were asking the questions was that the former FBI director said he was a leaker. Take a listen to this question by Susan Collins and the answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: The president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there's not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn't dawn on me originally that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might be a tape. And my judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square. And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. I didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought it might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. And so I asked a close friend of mine to do it.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-MAINE: Who was that?

COMEY: A good friend of mine who is a professor at Columbia Law School.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: That good friend was Daniel Richman. And he's a Columbia Law professor, and he then leaked that information, A.B., to The New York Times which is where we got the story about the memos and the original Michael Flynn story. That was surprising.

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: A proud leaker. I think we've known for a long time that Comey has been actively leaking because there are a lot of sources familiar with Comey's thinking about every 36 hours. So I think he feels free to just say this is what I did and I did it for a reason. He said he did it hoping it would lead to the appointment of a special counsel. And how did it start? With a tweet from Trump on Friday talking about tapes that to this day we don't really think exist or that he will ever share with us.

So I think that today was really a day -- first of all I think it's great that it's sort of the end of end of the Comey era. I think everyone is done with hearing from him. We've heard from him. It's over. We won't hear from him anymore. Comey is a political guy. He's kind of a slippery guy, and he's a confusing guy. And he did not have good answers to a lot of questions today.

That said, this is going to be a time for discipline from this president that I don't know he's really up to executing. He was good to have his lawyer respond today and not live tweet the event, but the suggestion from James Comey today that actually Robert Mueller, the special counsel, could be looking into obstruction of justice will likely drive this president completely crazy. From the closed door session there's reporting that Attorney General Sessions had a third meeting with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, that has been previously undisclosed. There will be more leaks. President Trump will remain nervous about these investigations. He's going to have to do everything in his power to control himself.

BAIER: But I have been told privately, Charles, that one of the reasons they have the personal attorney and one of the reasons he made the statement was, in essence, to not have the president get engaged on Twitter and to have the personal attorney now take everything, and because he is forceful and in the New York style, perhaps that meets the president's wishes.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: But he wasn't a good advocate today. I don't think he presented a good case, and on a day where your press secretary says the president is not a liar, you've had a bad day. I don't think there's any way to read this. I don't think Comey had a good day for himself, but surely the president had a bad day.

And it's that clip you showed at the beginning in which Angus King asked Comey, the president has said, so-and-so, is it true? No. Is it true? No. Remember back in July a similar thing happened in a Congressional hearing where Comey was asked about statements Hillary had made one at a time. She said x about the emails.

BAIER: It was Trey Gowdy that asked that.

KRAUTHAMMER: Right. Is that true? No. Is that true? That devastated her. And I think this sort of brings home the question of the president's credibility which is always a big loss. I don't think Comey did himself any good for himself. He showed himself -- I think he was credible in part because he showed himself to be cowardly, caving into Loretta Lynch characterizing the investigation into Hillary in a way that helped her campaign that he knew was wrong but he did it anyway, and not objecting.

Look, here is the central question. If you thought this was obstruction of justice when Trump was asking you to drop the Flynn thing, why didn't you resign? Why didn't you even bring it up with the president or anybody in Justice? This is a man -- I don't know if cowardly is the right word, but he sure has post-facto integrity.

BAIER: He used those words himself, cowardly, didn't stand up. That line of questioning was not just Republicans. Senator Dianne Feinstein asked, Why didn't you step up? You're a big man. Even though the Oval Office is intimidating, why didn't you get up and say this is not appropriate? He did not have an answer, Charlie. This is the exchange with the Idaho Republican Jim Risch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES RISCH, R-IDAHO: He did not direct you to let it go?

COMEY: Not in his words, no.

RISCH: He did not order you to let it go?

COMEY: Again, those words are not an order. I took it as a direction. This is the president of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as this is what he wants me to do. I didn't obey that, but that's the way I took it.

RISCH: Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or for that matter any other criminal offense where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?

COMEY: I don't know well enough to answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: He wouldn't make the determination whether obstruction of justice can be made, but listening to those answers, it's a tough case.

HURT: Yes. And if you talk to people that have made those cases before the past, it's a very, very hard thing to prove to win a case on because, among other things, you have to be able to prove that a crime was committed in obstructing justice. In a case like this, it would be something like bribery.

But I think the case -- the complexity of all of this has a lot of people -- obviously it is catnip for the press, catnip for people that love politics. But for a lot of people I think they are like, what is this all about? They don't care that much about it, and the fact that this could be no charges brought, I would argue, it amounts to nothing.

BAIER: Well, that is the bottom line, A.B., is that this is a political process, and you had the House Speaker Paul Ryan saying we would not impeach a Democrat with this evidence, let alone a Republican, with a Republican House and a Republican Senate.

STODDARD: Right, because the sitting president is not going to be indicted over this, the question is how much pressure will come from the Congress, from his own party? He's not going to be impeached. The problem as Charles raises -- first of all, we actually don't know what we don't know, and we always have to come back to that, because every time there's a revelation in the press we find out about things we didn't know.

BAIER: However, he said many, many of the stories have been wrong, dead wrong. This is Comey.

STODDARD: Well, DNI Coats and Mike Rogers were brought before the committee the day before yesterday, I mean yesterday, and said -- basically they did not deny he asked them the same thing.

BAIER: They didn't want to talk about it in open setting actually.

STODDARD: But they did not say this never happened. And so what I mean by that is we don't know what we don't know. There might've been other -- there might've been other people, there might've been others that President Trump talked to about the Flynn investigation. Just let me finish. The point is we don't know. We won't know until the end of end of the Mueller investigation, which could take a very long time. We don't know what we don't know.

In the meantime, this is incredibly damaging to his credibility. No one believes him over James Comey. James Comey is going to disappear and doesn't matter anymore. The point is, and Charles is right, his lawyer came out today and tried to pretend Comey is lying and it's laughable on its face. Donald Trump lied to the press about what he said in the office about the Michael Flynn investigation. He has no credibility left. And that just long term, overseas, which his political foes, with his political friends, even if he is not indicted or impeached, it's a huge problem for his leadership.

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