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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  July 21, 2017 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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>> why would he want to keep talking to you for so many years? did he ever say why? >> he wanted to be infamous, he said. >> that's what he said? >> he said that. >> but infamous is very different from famous. >> that's what he said. no, i want to be infamous. >> well, he became infamous. >> he did. good evening. tonight a new story just out in "the washington post" as russian ambassador sergey kislyak told his kremlin bosses that he did in fact talk about campaign matters with then senator jeff sessions. current and former u.s. officials telling "the washington post" they know from american intelligence intercepts. if true, it's also possible that the russian ambassador was boasting to his bosses. but if it wasn't a boast and the information bears out, it casts serious doubt on the credibility of jeff sessions, the highest law enforcement official in the
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land, who denied having any contacts with russians during the campaign about the campaign. this is what attorney general sessions said during his confirmation hearing back in january. >> if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and i did not have communications with the russians. >> all right. so that was january, and when asked in a written question whether he'd been in contact with anyone connected with any part of the russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day, sessions responded no. now, here's what he said when he recused himself from the russian probe back in march. >> let me be clear. i never had meetings with russian operatives or russian
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intermediaries about the trump campaign. and the idea that i was part of a, quote, continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government is totally false. >> so there he said never had meetings with russian surrogates about the trump campaign. now here's the -- or about russians about the trump campaign. here's the attorney general's senate testimony back in june. >> i have never met with or had any conversation with any russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the united states. >> so there he's changed it somewhat. he's saying about interference in the election or campaign. cnn contributor adam entous joins us tonight. another bombshell report coming out on a friday evening.
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just explain what you and the others at "the washington post" have learned. >> well, we knew about the meetings. we knew about them in march, that sessions did not disclose them when he appeared for his confirmation hearing. we were trying to figure out what was the nature of those contacts? what was being discussed? so what we've learned is basically what kislyak sent back to moscow. this is his account of his conversations, these two conversations, one in april, a second one in july, of his contact with sessions. >> so while sessions didn't seem to remember any specifics about these meetings, kislyak sent back specifics? >> yeah. i mean at the end of his conversations, i assume he gets into his car and goes back to the embassy or back to his residence, and then he writes a report. that's the way most ambassadors, diplomats operate. >> so what did he tell his russian bosses? >> he told him what he thought they discussed, which was campaign issues. in other words, what the relationship would be like between a future trump presidency and the russian government.
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the kind of thing that kislyak was under orders by his boss, putin, to try to get information about. kislyak was doing exactly his job, which is basically meeting with people in the trump campaign, trying to get information about how that campaign would actually deliver on some of its rhetoric during the campaign if it was elected. so that way putin can make a decision about what he thinks of this relationship. >> so the meetings that you know about between sessions and kislyak, that kislyak is reporting on, how many meetings are there, and when were they? >> well, there was a meeting in -- i don't know how to characterize the first encounter. so there is a vip reception before trump gives his first foreign policy speech in april. >> right. that was at the mayflower hotel. >> in washington. so there's an encounter there that kislyak reports on in which they discussed campaign matters. there's a second encounter in july. this is on the sidelines of the republican national convention. it's in a hotel outside the
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convention area. and, again, sessions gives a speech, and at the end, kislyak as a pull-aside, if you will. we're not sure how long it lasts, but it was described by intelligence officials who have seen the reporting as a substantive conversation. it wasn't, at least in kislyak's view, something superficial or cursory. then there was a third meeting which took place in sessions' senate office, which occurred in september. >> which sessions has said in the past that that was in his capacity as a senator, he held that meeting. but you don't have information about what kislyak said about that meet something. >> well, sessions did provide a little bit of a readout of that meeting in which ukraine was discussed. just to clarify, sessions initially said -- and as far as i know still argues -- that all of these meetings were about his role on the senate armed services committee, not because of his advisory role that he was playing on the trump campaign. >> all right. and clearly what kislyak is saying is that they discussed the goings on in the trump campaign and future trump
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policies. >> right. it's unclear what exactly kislyak would be interested in talking about when it comes to senate armed services committee business. why would kislyak go out of his way, one of the few ambassadors actually that turned up at that april event -- >> and at the republican convention, it seems odd to not be discussing donald trump as a candidate and what he would mean? >> correct. i think it's important for people to keep in mind this is kislyak's version of events. sessions, as you just showed very clearly, has sort of changed his accounts as we've gone through the months from basically saying there were no meetings initially to the meetings weren't about the campaign, to the meetings were not about collusion or coordination. so, you know, again, either he doesn't recall clearly what they are and maybe shouldn't have said what he said initially, or he is not telling us the full account. >> and you hinted at this, but it's important to point out it's very possible that kislyak is bragging to his russian bosses, kind of making himself more
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important, saying i had substantive discussions and this is what they discussed and sort of trying to build his own credentials. >> he could be trying to impress his superiors by showing how much access he has in washington. he could also be trying to plant false information into communications in order to deceive the american intelligence services or maybe actually plant derogatory information that could be designed to embarrass people down the road. that's also possible. >> in your article in "the washington post" tonight, i believe you have somebody quotes about kislyak's past kind of conversations and whether he is somebody who is prone to bragging. >> right. by most accounts of the officials that i deal with, they tell me that kislyak's reporting to moscow is accurate. so they see it, right? they'll meet with kislyak. they'll deliver a message, and then they'll be able to read whether kislyak reported that message accurately. sometimes if they think that message is not correctly reported, they will go back to kislyak and basically tell him,
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without revealing that they were reading his reporting home, they could have a chance to basically say, you know, just want to underline again the way we're thinking about this or that issue. so that's the way diplomacy actually happens. it's not just russia. it happens everywhere, pakistan, you name it. that's the way we have these conversations. >> adam, hold on for a moment. we've just gotten a statement from a justice department spokeswoman. i'm going to read it to you. obviously i cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept that "the washington post" has not seen and that has not been provided to me. but the attorney general stands by his testimony from just last month before the senate intelligence committee when he specifically addressed this and said that he, quote, never met with or had any conversations with any russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election. interesting that what they're specifying is he stands by that he didn't have any conversations about interference in the election. they're not saying he stands by the march statement that he had
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absolutely no contact about the campaign. >> right. they actually sent us that same statement before we published our story. so, yeah, they're addressing an issue that really isn't the subject of the story, which is i have no information to suggest that kislyak spoke to him about that issue of coordination or interference in the election. >> also, adam, this could not come at a worse time for jeff sessions. >> right. his relationship obviously with the president based on the president's interview with "the new york times" is on the rocks. and the president in that interview criticized the way sessions handled his answers to questions during his confirmation hearing. so, again, you know, sessions seems to be kind of a moving target when it comes to explaining those interactions he had with kislyak. >> the president just in "the new york times" interview, expressing his anger that sessions did recuse himself, i mean i also want to bring in some other voices for a reaction. cnn political analyst carl bernstein, cnn contributor john
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dean, former federal prosecutor matthew whitaker. dana bash is here. and former senior obama adviser david axelrod. david, this is just one more -- again, i hate to use that cliched term, but drip in this russia story. how big is this? >> well, it's obviously big for jeff sessions. it impugns him in a way at a time, as you point out, that is very, very inconvenient because he seems to be on the rocks as it is. i think he will argue what he has, which is these are uncorroborated and there's no verification of them other than the representation of kislyak in these cables. it is interesting, as you point out, that he has moved the goal posts. so he's now saying, we didn't talk about interference in the campaign. but if he was having conversations with kislyak as a representative of the trump campaign, giving him a sense of
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what trump would do as president and indicating that he would take a different approach to issues like sanctions, that seems like a big thumbs up to moscow if they were considering how deeply they wanted to invest in this campaign. so it could, giv give, in the s run, the president the means to rock sessions out of that job. but in the long run, it's one more piece in a puzzle that is becoming more and more troubling for the white house. >> dana, the timing of this, it comes two days after the president publicly criticizes sessions. could this give the president a reason to fire sessions and appoint -- who, by the way, if there was a new attorney general, they would not have to recuse themselves, i assume, from the russia probe? >> that's exactly right. look, that is all possible. i don't want to get too far into
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sort of the weeds of the senate. but in the past eight years or so, and david can probably remember this more than i because it happened mostly when president obama was in the white house. the sort of senate and the senators, particularly those of the opposing party of that person in the white house, they kind of -- they're on to the notion of recess appointments. so they tried to stop the senate from formally going into recess, which deprives a president of recess appointments. so that is possible that that happens, but i think, you know, perhaps -- and, you know, i don't want to sound overly conspiratorial, anderson, but you mentioned that "new york times" article where the president already sort of rhetorically threw jeff sessions under the bus. this almost seems like somebody is putting the bus in reverse, backing up, going forward, backing up. i mean it doesn't seem to be an
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accident that this comes at a time that jeff sessions is vulnerable. >> it's a theory, but a theory that it actually plays into what the president wants. >> totally. >> which is to get rid of jeff sessions. carl, do you think that's possible? >> it's possible, but i think we need to look at a couple other things. first of all at the time jeff sessions had been named the head of national security policy for the trump campaign. very important. we need to find out from sessions, probably the congress needs to call him back very soon and get a full explanation of all of his conversations with russians. really what's most interesting here is what might have sessions said to the candidate, to donald trump, about these and any other discussions he had with russians because now we're playing with the word "collusion." we're playing with the word "interference" but now we're beginning to see why these
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investigations are moving so close and why the president of the united states is so concerned that they're closing in on him, his family, his dealings with russians. pieces are starting to fall together. there can be some innocent explanations for all kinds of things. but we now need to know a lot more about how it is that all of these discussions took place. >> carl, what does it say that the attorney general of the united states, the highest law enforcement official in the land, has to be called back a third time to testify under oath to try to explain what you would think a panel of senators or folks on capitol hill could have gotten out of him in two appearances on capitol hill? >> it says clearly that he has not been forthcoming, that he has very carefully chosen his words to give only as much as he wants to give without giving a full version of what occurred. trying perhaps to avoid a perjury charge as he continues to go through these motions. we don't know where this is
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going to go, but it's clear the highest law enforcement official in the country has not been forthcoming with the congress of the united states unless, by some chance, these intercepts turn out to be braggadocio. but we'll find out what the intercepts are. mueller will find out what the intercepts are. the congress and the intelligence committees will find out what the intercepts are. but there also in the question what did jeff sessions and the candidate, donald trump, discuss about russia in these conversations? >> same question of what did donald trump jr. and his father discuss, if anything? >> exactly right. >> adam, the justice department is going after unnamed sources. it is accurate to say you have not heard these intercepts? >> no, i have not heard these intercepts. but we've talked to multiple current and former officials who described it, and i think we can all understand why we use anonymous sources. this same justice department
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conducts leak investigations and if we did not provide that anonymity, we would not be getting the information that we're able to provide to basically fact-check these officials, right? there's been a pattern in dealing with this russia story where obviously nusinitially we told the meetings never happen. then we're told they were about something else. then actually there's intelligence that they were about something completely different. the exact same thing kind of happened with mike flynn. we found out about the conversations. they tell us it's about something. it turns out it's not about that. and then officials basically revealed elements of intelligence which showed what actually was discussed. >> and the truth is it's only once it becomes public that then something changes. mike flynn only was fired after the story went public. >> right. >> john, just yesterday attorney general sessions said he would stay on the job, quote, as long as that is appropriate. do you think it's appropriate for him to stay on the job?
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john dean? we lost your audio. we'll try to get it back. dana, what are the chances he will not stay on the job? >> i mean, look, who would have thought that after the president of the united states says the kind of things that he said about his attorney general to "the new york times," trashing him, that he would decide to stay? but he did. at this point, you know, he might feel dug in and feel that he wants to stay just to spite president trump, that he feels like he can do things that he's wanted to do for some time in the justice department no matter what is going on and swirling around him with russia. that is also a very real possibility that he'll just kind of dig in and say, uh-uh, i'm not going anywhere. you want me to leave, you fire me, mr. president. >> matt, are there any
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restrictions for the president and who he could appoint as attorney general in a recess appointment, and is there any legal reason why, under a new attorney general, robert mueller couldn't be fired? would it make it easier to get rid of robert mueller if there's a new attorney general? >> right, it would be very interesting to see a new attorney general first run the traps of getting confirmed in this senate. you know, my home state senator chuck grassley would have a lot of input and influence in who the next attorney general would be. i think that because of the recusal that sessions currently faces, i think the ownership of the russian investigation and bob mueller's appointment would then fall on the new attorney general. it would be a very interesting issue. but, you know, this story comes out of, again, another intelligence community leak trying to undermine this president, his administration, and ultimately it boils down to a he said/he said situation where i'm going to always defer
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to the american citizen, the man that served honorably in various states versus a russian spy/diplomat. >> john dean, i think we have your audio fixed. is it appropriate for jeff sessions to remain as attorney general in. >> i was speechless there for a moment. it's because i'm really struck by the timing of the leak. i don't know of course who the source was, but given the fact it follows on "the new york times" star as well as "the washington post" story saying how senior aides were shocked that sessions had agreed or wanted to stay on his job. this certainly makes it much more difficult. and the question of how appropriate it is, is something he's going to have to address. he clearly wants the job, anderson, and i think he's going to put up a good fight before he walks away from it. >> just briefly, adam, i know you may not be able to say this or know this. is this information that the president of the united states would already have known based on his access to intelligence or
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because it's part of the russia -- well, i don't know. do you know? >> i don't know the answer to that. i'd be surprised if this information is -- why it wouldn't be widely shared. you know, again, i think as president i'm sure he could have access to this. but i'm not sure how far it's distributed and to whom. >> carl? >> let me say two things. one, the president can ask for this intelligence, and it would not surprise me if he did, particularly if he is intent on getting rid of sessions. but the real thing, and i've been talking to people around the white house, that he's intent on is getting rid of mueller. that is his objective. he wants mueller out. he's doing everything he can to undermine him. he would like to fire him, and there is a possibility that this disclosure could give him the mechanism, as we're talking about, as dana is talking about, to do that through a combination of recess appointments and other
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mechanisms. but that's his ultimate goal. he wants this investigation stopped. yes, he's talking about pardons. but he doesn't want to go there. he would like to end the investigation. >> and, adam, just so i'm clear, if there is a new attorney general appointed, then does he or she oversee robert mueller's investigation? >> i believe so. >> i would think so because the investigation is under the offices of the justice department. >> that's correct. >> everyone hold on a second. i want to bring in congressman eric swalwell. congressman, first of all, your reaction to this reporting from "the washington post" which does completely contradict attorney general sessions' past statements. again, it's based on russian ambassador, the words he said to his bosses and in they'f they'r accurate. >> good evening, anderson. attorney general sessions should no longer serve, i believe for other reasons.
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he's already lost the trust of the american people. he wasn't forthcoming about his contacts with russia as they were interfering in our campaign. he participated in the firing of james comey, which was improper. and so we now cannot trust his word. so with respect to this report, i will just say that as far as anything jeff sessions has said about his contacts with russia, we should be able to corroborate or contradict those statements with all of the evidence and be able to review that. but for now, you need your top law enforcement official to be trusted, and he simply is not trusted. this is a time for congress to thoughtfully and aggressively put a check on this president. >> you're saying he should step down? >> yes. >> are you concerned at all -- i mean as a democrat, are you concerned at all about whomever might replace him and what impact that might have on the mueller investigation? >> anderson, that's why i say we're not helpless in congress from a presidency that is
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careening into a constitutional crisis. the senate and the house can both check the abuses of power that we're seeing. the senate should not recess or do anything that would allow a recess appointment to take place. they should ensure that whoever would be appointed next, if he does step down, is somebody who is going to allow the russia investigation to proceed unimpeded as we've seen the white house try and obstruct and keep it from moving forward. so we have to now step up as republicans and democrats for the sake of this country to get our democracy back in order. >> you say that the attorney general should step down. if, in fact, ambassador kislyak was just bragging, was just making this up, whether for nefarious purposes to confuse u.s. intelligence or to somehow affect investigations or the operation of the trump administration, if he does step down and the ambassador was lying, isn't that playing into their hands or, you know, taking action based on a lie?
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>> yeah, anderson, i'm not even speaking with respect to the report today in "the washington post." i cannot comment on that one way or the other. he's already been found to not be fully forthcoming with the american people about his contacts with russia while they were meddling in our elections. he participated in the firing of comey, which again i think was improper considering that he had told the american people he had recused himself. now you see that he doesn't have the confidence of the president. for all of those reasons, so that the justice department can function without this chaos, i don't think he should any longer be the attorney general, and i actually think congress should step up and make sure that whoever is there next can lead it in a way that it can conduct the russia investigation and the other business that we need the justice department to do. >> in march he said very strongly, i had no contact with russians, you know, during the campaign about the campaign. and then he amends that to, i had no contact with russians about any, you know, interference in any election or
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campaign. do you believe the attorney general needs to be called back a third time to testify under oath for a third time just to try to clear this matter up? >> yes, anderson. i also serve on the house judiciary committee. i think he should come before our committee. we should be able to have access to all of the evidence so that we can again confront him with it to see just what is the truth. but also, anderson, this is the pattern we've seen in this investigation, which has put more into focus the ties the trump team has had, which is they deny ever having contacts with russia. only when confronted and oftentimes because of dogged media reporting do they acknowledge it, and now we've gotten to the point where the president is essentially saying so what. the alternative would have been hillary. he is putting that out there now. so i think we have to tell the country that the so what is that our democracy has been undermined by a foreign adversary and we have to do everything now as leaders in congress to never put our country in a position like this again. >> i want to get the panel's
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take. i'm joined by evan perez. you've been covering the justice department, what do you make of this reporting by "the washington post" and the impact it's going to have? >> well, i think it comes at a particularly tricky time for the attorney general as i think a lot of our guests have talked about. given that the fact that the president essentially has said that he doesn't exactly want him there, and if he had known he was going to recuse himself, that he would never have appointed him. that really undercuts the attorney general. it also raises a question about whether the president has some expectation that the attorney general essentially doesn't have any independence from him. so that's going to be -- i think it adds the pressure of the attorney general over the next few weeks to see whether or not he stays on this job, anderson. >> obviously this white house can be very unpredictable with how it staffs its top positions. how would it work if the president decides he no longer has confidence in sessions while congress is in recess?
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>> well, that's one scenario. i think dana and i have talked about this in the sense that if you fire the attorney general and the congress is not in session, then they could do a recess appointment. obviously the fact is he's got a republican senate and a republican house. they can gavel out because traditionally for the last few years they have not done that as a way to prevent barack obama from doing recess appointments. so they could cooperate with the president to do that. but i think the more likely thing here would be that the senate would take this very seriously and fire the attorney general. here's the thing a couple folks have pointed out. it raises an interesting question because you appoint an attorney general who doesn't have the recusal issues that sessions does, then you have someone with a clean slate who can come in and perhaps pull the levers to control this investigation. that's what the president may indeed want. >> so, evan, just to be clear, a new attorney general without any need to recuse himself or
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herself, they would be overseeing robert mueller? >> right, exactly. right now he's being overseen by rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who is the acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation, anderson. so what would happen is then his new boss, the new attorney general, who doesn't have this issue, would then be the most senior person at the justice department who has oversight of what mueller does. keep in mind when mueller does find anything, if he decides that he wants to refer this to congress or perhaps impeachment, it depends on rod rosenstein or whoever is in that position to make the official referral to congress. >> i've got to get a quick break in. later, the president's son, his former campaign chairman both reach a deal on their scheduled senate hearing next week. we have breaking details on that as well on a very, very busy night.
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breaking news which casts doubt on the attorney general's past statements on contact with russians. back now with the panel and in particular adam entous from "the washington post," who is one of three reporters breaking this story tonight. you and i were talking during the break. i want to have everybody else hear what you said because i think it's important. i've seen it online, a lot of people sort of have the idea that perhaps given the idea of what president said about his anger toward attorney general sessions and then suddenly this story breaks, that it gives hum a reason to get rid of sessions. you've actually been working on this story for quite some time. >> yeah. i mean we had the initial story back in march, which was that sessions had two encounters with kislyak and basically ever since then we were trying to figure out what was the nature of those discussions. what were the contents of those communications, right? we've been working on it for weeks before this. when "the new york times" had that excellent interview with
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trump in which trump commented about sessions and particularly, you know, talked about specifically how he didn't appreciate the way he answered the questions in the confirmation hearing, we realized we may not have as much time as we thought, and we should basically try to push the story out as soon as we could. >> may not have as much time because other reporters are going to be hunting it down. >> correct. the competitive environment. obviously sometimes we can work on stories for months and not worry about the competition. but when we saw "the new york times" story, we realized we needed to finish up that story. >> i don't want to probe around the areas of your sources, but the information about what kislyak said to his bosses, is that information you had had for some time? >> that's information we had since basically early june. >> wow, okay. so you've had it for a while. so for those who believe this suddenly fell into your lap 24 hours ago, that is not the case.
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this is something you've been working on a while. >> that's correct. >> you also made the point to me during the break, and i think it's a fair one to make, that there's nothing necessarily nefarious about jeff sessions working for the trump campaign, having a conversation with kislyak about the trump campaign. >> right. i personally don't see any problem with that. i don't know why that would be an issue. certainly kislyak, he's doing his job, talking to sessions, an adviser to the campaign. it would seem like it would be sessions' role as a foreign policy adviser to also engage whether it's the british ambassador or russian ambassador. there shouldn'ting an issue with him engaging. the issue is did he accurately characterize, did he even disclose when asked about that contact. and when he was asked about it, did he give an honest answer about the nature of it. and so i think as you showed at the top of the hour, you know, we have an evolving story line here. january, it didn't happen. march, it happened but it wasn't about the campaign.
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june, it was, yes, maybe it did happen. i can't really recall, but at no point did i discuss interference. >> but it does raise the essential question of, again, if there's nothing nefarious about it, why not just be honest about having the meeting? it's like, yeah, i met with the guy. he was asking about the campaign. i was a surrogate for the campaign. carl, is there anything wrong with that? >> it's the same question to the president of the united states. why won't he disclose all of his conversations and tell us, i am ordering everybody in my white house to disclose publicly all of their dealings with russians during the campaign and since unless it involves secret diplomacy nature that can't be disclosed. this is a cover-up. it doesn't mean there's obstruction of justice. it doesn't mean that the law has necessarily been broken, but we have seen for months and months now there is a cover-up going on, that various people are part of it, that the president of the united states has not been honest or forthcoming, that he
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has tried to demean, undermine, and obstruct all of these investigations. he's now talking about, throughout the white house, to many people in the white house who are now aware that he is trying to get rid of robert mueller. so he doesn't want this investigation. he wants all of this to go away rather than deal with it in a forthright way, the same way that the attorney general of the united states did not want to deal with this in a forthright way. >> you're saying it's a cover-up because when carl bernstein says cover-up -- you're saying that doesn't mean illegality? >> not yet. lies and lies and obfuscation and disingenuousness, and an unwillingness to say to the people around the president, by the president, hey, let's tell them what we did. let's see if it's really so innocent. let's say, we wanted to have a broader relationship with the russians based on x, y, or z. we had these conversations.
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we had these meetings. this is how we dealt with it in the campaign. there's a way to do it. they have done the opposite. they have sought to cover it up, and this is including mr. sessions' testimonies. >> another element of the investigation, donald trump jr. and paul manafort have avoided subpoenas by cutting a deal with the senate judiciary committee. they're going to talk in private on wednesday. it's unclear if they will be under oath in those conversations. typically they're not. here's what trump junior prom e promised just last week. >> you said in a tweet you would fully cooperate with any investigation. >> of course. >> completely. >> 100%. >> turn over everything that they want and you feel you already have? >> yes. >> and you have nothing to hide. that means you'll testify under oath, all of that. >> all of it. >> manu, when donald trump jr. said he thinks he's already turned over everything, he revealed some e-mails. we don't know if it's the full e-mail chain on that meeting. we don't know if there are other
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e-mails. there could be a whole host of e-mails about this meeting or about the results of it or subsequent phone conversations. what are you learning about what's going to happen next? there was a lot of talk they were going to testify publicly on wednesday. that's not going to happen. >> yeah, that's not going to happen because this deal that was cut behind the scenes after a series of active negotiations. the deal entails providing more documents, those documents you were just referring to. donald trump jr., any contacts that may have occurred including that trump tower meeting that he had met with russians in an effort to try to get dirt on the clintons as well as with paul manafort to provide some more records. those two men have agreed to have a private interview with members of the senate judiciary committee and the staff as well. now, there is no date yet set, anderson, for that private interview. and at this point, it's unclear if they will appear publicly. but the committee did issue a subpoena for another witness who is expected to come on
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wednesday. that was glen simpson, the co-founder of the firm fusion gps which is behind that now infamous russian dossier. mr. simpson's representatives saying that they believe this hearing is a pretext, an effort to throw cold water on the issue of collusion with russian officials and trump officials. that's why he is not appearing next wednesday, but this deal cut with paul manafort and donald trump jr. has avoided the notion of subpoenas for now. >> i want to bring in our panel. a lot to discuss. carl bernstein, matthew whitaker, dana bash, and adam entous. dana, the negotiations the senators are having with donald trump jr. and manafort, what would they be negotiating exactly? could it include the scope of the questions that either man could be asked, or is it just the scope of the information that they're kexpected to turn over? >> probably more likely the information. it's hard to imagine just like, you know, journalists, maybe even more importantly when
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you're talking about investigators, that they would agree to limit the scope of questions, particularly because they're following the investigation, and their questions will be based on what they learn. what they, manafort and don junior, clearly want to avoid is a spectacle. and they understand how red-hot this issue is politically and how incredibly rare, maybe even unprecedented, and somebody will probably correct me if i'm wrong, for the son of a president to be called to congress to testify about alleged conversations that he may or may not have had to further his father's campaign. and those conversations being with a russian national. so that would be absolutely unprecedented. i'm not saying that it won't happen, but they're trying to slow-walk it on the witness
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side. and even though there is bipartisan agreement and they're working in a bipartisan way in the judiciary committee to make these conversations happen, it is still a republican-led congress, and these are still people that members of congress, the senators, want to show a bit of deference and understanding to as they get their information together. >> matthew, this behind closed doors discussion, if it's not under oath, do they still have to tell the truth? if they don't tell the truth and it's revealed later, is that perjury? >> it's not. i would expect they'll be sworn in, but that's probably part of the discussions and negotiations they had. there's still a lying to congress statute that is very broad that could be applied in this situation. you know, i say along with what dana is saying, i think dianne feinstein, who is the ranking
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member together with my home state senator of chuck grassley, i think did a really good job of minimizing the political circus that would have happened on wednesday but at the same time getting the important information to the committee to conduct their investigation because these are two key people in that meeting that happened last year that will know details that are important to the judiciary committee and their investigation. >> it is interesting, carl, donald trump is willing to go publicly on hannity's program when this story is broken to give his side of the story, you know, in an interview which was pretty limited in scope. and yet when it comes to actually answering questions in public, seems, or at least his attorneys don't want him to. >> i'm going to come to their defense here. first of all, the congress of the united states, they reserve the right to call these people into public sessions and into a further hearing. normal investigative practice often dictates that you do want to pre-interview them. >> is it smarter to have a
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pre-interview? >> yes. not only that, you can learn some things. there also is an oath involved probably. you can also be in contempt of congress if you don't cooperate. there are all kinds of ways that there are repercussions that can be brought upon the witnesses. they can be brought into public session, and i would hope and expect that they would be after these private sessions. but more important than that, they too have rights. they have fifth amendment rights. it's understandable they might want to avoid a public glare, at least until they've had an opportunity to say to the members of congress -- they ought to eventually publicly testify. but first let's see what they have to offer. i think that their rights need to be respected. >> when we come back, the big shake-up in the white house staffing. find out who's in, who's out, and what it means next.
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yeah, and i can watch thee bgame with directv now.? buy one get one 30% off. oh, sorry, most broadcast and sports channels aren't included. and you can only stream on two devices at once. this is fun, we're having fun. yeah, we are. no, you're not jimmy. don't let directv now limit your entertainment. xfinity gives you more to stream to more screens. this breaking news tonight, eclipsed made in america week. the big news just a few hours ago is the departure of press
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secretary sean spicer, the naming of anthony scaramucci as white house communications director. he's spoke in a rarely twiezed white house briefing. scaramucci does say a lot of positive stuff about trump. >> the president's a winner. we're going to do a lot of winning. i love the mission that the president has. i love the president. he's a genuinely a wonderful human being. i love the president, and i'm very, very loyal to the president. i love these guys. i respect these guys. the president is phenomenal with the press. i think he's got some of the best political instincts in the world and perhaps in history. he's done a phenomenal job for american people. he's the most competitive person i've ever met. i've seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. he sinks three-foot putts. >> to his credit, he tried to answer as many questions as possibility which is something
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we don't see a lot in that briefing room, and it was twiezed. also, sarah huckabee sanders has been named the press spokesperson. details from sara murray at the white house. a dramatic end to the week to say the least. what more are you learning tonight in. >> reporter: not just a dramatic end to the week but to really months of speculation that a staff shake-up could be coming, months of speculation that there would be a change to t communications shop. we started hearing about this last night. it became clear this is what the president wanted but that he was doing this in many way of his own accord without the advice of some of his top advisers. this is a president who feels very much like he is under siege in this white house between the russia investigations at the justice department as well as on capitol hill. he felt in many ways exposed, like he wanted this job filled by someone he sees as a killer, someone who is going to go out and defend him. that is how he sees champion
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scaramucci. it's not scaramucci's to be at the podium in front of us every day. it's his job to develop strategy. it it will be interesting. this is someone who has a close relationship with president trump, different from what we saw as sean spicer adopting the role as head of the press shop. it will be fascinating to see how that gels and plays out over the coming months. >> and with spicer's departure, scaramucci's appointment, how did it go over in some sectors of the west wing? there was some reporting that some folks were unhappy. is that true, do we know? >> there's no doubt that this is something not everyone in the was other on board with. people are not hiding their feelings about it. this is something the president decided with the guidance of his family members. ivanka trump is supportive of this, jared kushner is supportive of this. they've worked alongside anthony scaramucci, known him a while, and they trust him to be out there being the voice for the president and defending him. but reince priebus, the chief of staff, was not supportive of this. steve bannon, the president's
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chief strategist, was not supportive of this. and sean spicer was so opposed to it that we saw him resign today. this was really the president's decision in many ways over very serious objections from people in the white house. it's worth pointing out, anderson, that now in this role, anthony scaramucci does not report to reince priebus. he reports directly to the president. >> the briefing room seemed a little less combative with scaramucci at the podium. do you expect it will last? obviously he will not be at the podium every day. i think he had a commanding presence while he was there, but it will be sarah huckabee sanders back. >> that's right. it was a different vibe with him. he brought his new york swagger. he seemed at ease when taking questions from reporters, and he was sort of gentler in paring those responses. there were no cries of fake news and that kind of thing. it will be fascinating to see if it changes the tone from the top on. sean spicer set the tone the first time he ever gave a briefing when he was talking about inauguration crowd sizes,
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he relied on faulty information and made it clear that he was going to go to battle with the press. i think he and sarah huckabee sanders kept it up in a lot of ways, day in and day out. that certainly has not been scaramucci's relationship with different media outlets. he has a lot of close relationships with news outlets. we'll see. this is the kind of job that's difficult to do. it wears on you. today scaramucci didn't have to answer for anything the president had tweeted. he didn't have to answer for very many things the president has said that are not rooted in fact. that will change in the months ahead and we'll see how he deals with it and how his relationship with the president fares. >> sara murray, thanks very much. joining us now, people who have spoken for, spoken to or written award winning news copy about the president, including this one. david axelrod, michael dantonio and jason miller. david, why quit now? was this a culmination of events for sean spicer, or do you think this specifically had to do with the hiring of scaramucci? >> well, anderson, i would say
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of all of the pools that develop in washington, all of the betting that goes on, i think one of the most prominent was exactly how long sean spicer would last. some people had, you know, easter, some people had july 4th, some people had labor day. i don't know anybody who had christmas, because this has been a very, very difficult relationship from the beginning. it is hard to speak for this president because you make representations presumably with his approval, and then he will take it in a completely different direction, often cutting you off at the knees, costing you your credibility. so i don't think that spicer was terribly comfortable over time in that role. and then, you know, scaramucci ostensibly will be the communications director in the white house. now, his whole background is in finance. he has no background in white house communications. jen psaki is sitting there. jen was a white house communications director. it is a very complex job and it is a planning job.
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apparently he was hired to be kind of a preening peacock on tv and defend the president, but, you know, the thing that stunned me more than anything was that he said, "i told the president that we need to let him be himself, we need to let him express his full identity." was the president feeling restrained? i didn't get that sense. it seems to me that he has spoken his mind time and time and time again, and that often is what gets him in trouble and it makes planning impossible. so if that is the philosophy of the new communications director, i don't think it bodes well for the white house in the long term. >> jen, what is the job much a communications director compared to the person doing the briefings in the room, and how difficult is it for anybody, to david's point, in this white house where, you know, they say one thing during the day and then oftentimes the president, you know, seems to contradict it within 24 hours online? >> well, incredibly difficult for anybody who is speaking on
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behalf of this president sitting in the white house. the job, as david referenced, of the communications director -- you know, the press secretary is the fireman dealing with the incoming press inquiries and things blowing up on a daily basis. the communications director's job is to see around the corner and think about the strategy and how you're going to position the white house policy and president six months, a year from now. that takes a lot of work with the president working hand in hand. scaramucci reportedly has a close relationship, so that's good, but it is far more than being comfortable at the podium. you are a key partner with the policy teams, working with them on policy rollouts and announcements, approaching things that are terrible that are going to happen, and there is a lot of deep policy work and thinking and strategy that happens. he doesn't have experience doing that, and i think that's probably going to be a big challenge for him. >> jason, how big -- i mean to me -- how big -- i guess that's one challenge, he's obviously got a very impressive business record.
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but just the challenge of if it's a planning job and planning a month out or six months out, i mean you can plan all the made-in-america weeks you want, but if the president starts the week off by tweeting about something else, that's going to dominate the news cycle, you know, the best laid plans will be tossed out the window. >> here is why i think anthony is going to be so good in this job, is he gets the president. they clearly click. i think they get each other. anthony proved himself on the campaign trail. he proved himself on the transition team, and there is -- i think at a different level than we have seen other folks, he's been able to really relate to the president. >> he has a more personal relationship, sean spicy really didn't have that relationship. >> he really understands how the president wants to communicate his message. now, that's going to look different from the previous administration. it's going to look different from other administrations before that. i think it's also important to point out too that we saw sarah huckabee sanders promoted to press secretary today, which is a very important part of this. look, anthony scaramucci has the
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strategic vision to look down the road and plan it out. as far as the nuts and bolts where he doesn't have the long background in traditional politics, there are some very good deputies and folks in that communications department that will work with him on that. what they needed was a leader. keep in mind the communications director's spot had been open for a couple of months. this isn't a shake-up. this is a bit of a new direction. the quick thing to say on sean, a lot of folks have been piling on sean today, but i don't think he's gotten enough credit for some of the things he put into this white house press briefing room, including bringing in some of the regional reporters with skype interview, opening the white house press briefing room to more ideological press from both the left and the right. i think he should get credit for that. >> carl, what do you make of these changes and the difficulties he faces? >> first of all, let's not get too caught up in atmospherics and this is about atmospherics and who the president wants to be in the bunker with. what we are talking about throughout all of this is the conduct of the president of the united states and how the white
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house is trying to explain the conduct of the president of the united states. that conduct, especially of late, is aimed at undermining the judicial system and integrity of the united states. it is a job that nobody should have to do, because it is by its very nature and by the nature of what the president is allowing to happen, by trying to undermine our judicial system and the special prosecutor, we don't need to pay too much attention to the atmospherics. we need to pay attention to the president, his words and what the investigators are finding and our own investigation. >> michael, i think one of the things that's so fascinating about this president is, you know, he clearly has a long relationship with the press, very different obviously when he was a businessman in new york than it is now. but, you know, that "new york times" interview which came right after lunch with the senators about health care, apparently the only other person in the room was hope hicks. i wonder if under -- with scaramucci that there will be
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that sort of free-wheeling kind of interviews without anybody else in the room. i'm not sure if somebody else in the room would have made any difference or not. >> i think you might see anthony in the room. you know, when i saw him speak today i thought that if the president could have an all billionaire team with uniforms by brioni, this would be the guy, you know. you want -- he wants the atmospherics to fit a certain template. carl is right, that no one should have to explain a coverup if it is under way, no one should have to back and fill. but this is the reality with donald trump. he is a guy who is going to go his own way, and he'll go three different ways sometimes before lunch. i think scaramucci is saying, i love this man many times, him saying, "i'm here to serve him." he made a funny quip about sean spicer where he said, well, maybe now he'll go make some money. that could have come out of donald trump's mouth. so there's a real affinity here
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i think for these two fellows. >> yeah, it certainly came off that way. for all of our viewers joining us, we are just at the top of the hour, a busy one, the end of a very busy week. a new story out in "the washington post" saying that russia's ambassador, ambassador sergey kislyak, ambassador to the u.s., told his kremlin bosses that he did in fact talk about campaign matters with then senator jeff sessions. current and former u.s. officials telling "the washington post" they know from american intelligence intercepts. if true, it is also possible the russian ambassador was boasting to his bosses. but if it wasn't a boast and the information bears out, it does cast serious doubt on the credibility of jeff sessions, the highest law enforcement official in the land, who denied having any contacts with russians during the campaign about the campaign. this is what attorney general sessions said during his confirmation hearing back in january. >> if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign