tv Senators Cassidy Leahy Cornyn and Blumenthal on Special Counsel for... CSPAN May 19, 2017 12:31am-12:47am EDT
country, to characterize any undertaking by him as a witch hunt is totally unfair. >> did he shed any light on the comey memo? >> comey -- no, no conversation about that. >> was he asked about that? >> not to directly. -- not directly. >> so, your impressions? did rod rosenstein take any responsibility for the firing of jim comey, and if not, where does the responsibility lie? >> i think, the the responsibility was that of the president. it was an executive branch decision. written within the context of it. he very much avoided giving specific answers as to
circumstances around the writing of the memo, did someone help them, did some but a review it, saying that should be the province of mr. mueller's investigation. he very much totally backed away from going there. may 8 he tell you that was the point at which he knew at the art director -- he knew fbi director -- >> i missed the beginning of the opening statements and i cannot say for sure. >> is it your impression that this has crossed the threshold from counterintelligence into a criminal matter. >> he stressed this was an investigation and he is sent go beyond that would prejudice people's opinion. there is no predetermination that somebody has committed a crime. >> will the special counsel negatively impact congress' ability to independently investigate? >> that was never raised. >> is it your understanding that omeynstein kennew c ome
was going to be fired before he wrote that memo? he said a special counsel would hurt our country terribly. >> i don't think it hurts our country. >> what do you make of that, that the president knew he was going to fire comey before he had the conversation about writing a memo? >> rosenstein pointed out that no action is final before it is final. you can imagine the president saying and frustration, i am going to fire the guy, but it does not happen until it happens. >> did he direct him to write a memo? >> i do not recall. >> the white house says the president made the decision to fire comey based on rosenstein's memeo, but it turns out now that was incorrect. >> he deferred the rest of the expiration of that to mr. mueller. >> what is your reaction to the
potential nomination of joe lieberman? he has emerged as the leading candidate. >> he is one of the democrats. he said he did not think of politician should be nominated. i suppose joe qualifies as a politician. i guess you would have to define politician. >> what is your take away from the briefing? >> i will not go into the briefing itself or the questions in it. i felt before it went into the briefing today, the public strong and open public oversight by the congress in how russia tried to impose on our country. and how they are still trying to influence our country.
we should go ahead with that. is a good man, an honest man, a good person with integrity. i have known him for years. i think the appointment of robert mueller was a very good one. but as good as that appointment is, it does not mean that congress is now saying, our job is done. we don't have to investigate this. we really do. i agree. there are two different things. special counsel could have tools congress might not have. but the american public has every reason to wonder what happen to our government.
how could we have been manipulated by russia? that is what we have to answer. >> senator cornyn! you.ank >> your take away from this? >> we got through a very important briefing from the deputy attorney general, was appointed robert mueller, the former director of the fbi, to head p up the investigation ino the russian issue. i raised my concern that we have multiplicity of congressional committees investigating this same matter, and how can we best coordinate those activities with director mueller and the fbi so we don't inadvertently interfere or impede his investigation? we understand the importance of the executive branch and director mueller and a special counsel doing this investigation. we don't want to do anything to get in the way, but it seems to
me with these various oversight investigations occurring in the senate intelligence committee, the judiciary committee, subcommittee's, that is a train wreck waiting to happen. i am hoping we can get through the majority leader and perhaps, senator schumer, the democratic leader, some sort of agreement that there will be what deputy attorney general rosenstein asked for, which was a single point of contact, so we can coordinate and facilitate this. the other problem is, we could well just inadvertently impede an investigation and basically, make it impossible for them to take the matter to court. we don't want to do that. >> were you surprised to learn that the president had already decided to fire james comey before the memo? >> the fbi director serves at the president's pleasure. he is not limited in terms of the rationale.
it is my understanding that was one of the rationales, but not the complete rationale. >> initially, the white house said the president made the recommendation -- >> i heard the same thing you heard. >> senator, you remove yourself from consideration for fbi director. joe lieberman has emerged as at the top of the list. >> i think in a very divided nation's capital joe lieberman is probably the only people who could get 100 votes in the senate. he is universally well-respected. >> the president said appointing a special counsel is a witchhunt and it could hurt our country. >> the way i interpret what he is saying with regards to his activities, he thinks there is no basis to it, but clearly, russia was involved in trying to undermine public confidence in our elections and it is a serious enough matter that we are conducting a broad, bipartisan investigation on the senate intelligence committee, which i sit on.
we are taking this enormously seriously. >> are you suggesting that to narrow down the scope of the congressional investigation -- >> there will be a lot of requests being made at the fbi and the department of justice. so, we need to coordinate with director mueller, as the designated special counsel, how we seek witnesses and documents. you can imagine they are getting multiple requests from all sorts of different committees. there is going to be a lot of confusion and a delay. it is a nobody's interest to impair this investigation. >> will be congressional investigation continue at the pace and scope that it has currently? >> that is right, but we need to be focused on our role. we not the fbi or the department of justice. we are conducting oversight investigations. >> should the investigation be
changed to c criminal investigations? >> i assume this has been a counterintelligence investigation. as rosenstein said, this will be up to director mueller. right now it is not a criminal investigation? >> thank you. >> let me just say briefly, i am not going to go into the substance of his answer, except to say those answers really need to be given to the american people in public, under oath. he should come before the judiciary committee and tell the american people what he has told us. i urged him to do so because it is important to boost the confidence and trust of the american people in our criminal
justice process. i was disappointed in some of his answers. they were less forthcoming and a specific than i think they should have been, but i'm going to await judgment until i hear more, and i will be posing additional questions to him as we go along. >> what were some of your biggest unanswered questions? >> relating to the background of his memo, the consultation with others in the department of justice, and the reasons for the firing of director comey. i am satisfied that rob mueller can follow the evidence wherever it leads, concluding, not only the trump campaign and possible collusion with the russians, but also the potential obstruction of justice by the president of the united states. there is mounting evidence of obstruction of justice.
no conclusion yet that there was, but that evidence needs to be pursued and there are a variety of pieces of evidence. and the firing of director comey could be one of them. >> you are confident the special counsel will look at the firing of comey and whether that was an effort to obstruct justice? >> the special counsel must pursue all of the evidence, whether it is the firing of director comey or memos that were prepared, other documents, and other witnesses that might have knowledge about the interference in the election, the collusion that might have happened with the trump campaign come and potential obstruction. at this point, we are talking about potential and allegations. bob mueller has the guts and back up to stand up to anybody in the department of justice, anyone in the trump administration, trying to either interfere with or inhibit that investigation. i'm satisfied that we will know
whether that is occurring. and the responses given to us today indicate that the deputy attorney general is very sensitive to the fact that the bepe and mandate has to unlimited, in so far as additional evidence might be forthcoming related to the russian meddling, or the possible trump campaign collusion. >> senator, can you clear up something? one of your colleagues that it was clear after this meeting that this was the longer a counterintelligence investigation and is now a criminal investigation. is this not a criminal investigation? >> bob mueller is doing a criminal investigation. the special prosecutor is doing an investigation of criminal allegations that are extremely serious, including possible obstruction of justice. conclusionse no
about whether there was, but there are a number of pieces of evidence that indicate there may well have been. the investigation has to follow that evidence wherever it leads. i am satisfied that the deputy attorney general means what he says in the mandate that he gave us that anything related to those allegations can be pursued and must be pursued and that it is more than just counterintelligence. >> do you think he would make a good fbi director? >> what i have said is i am not going to comment until someone is nominated. i believe in general, the nominee for fbi director ought to be someone with a background and expertise and experience in criminal justice, preferably a
prosecutor, and ought to have no political connections or ties. and i believe that -- >> are you ruling out joe lieberman? >> i am not, but that is my preference as to the qualifications. i am not commenting on any particular individual. >> you give the indication that the president might be under criminal investigations for obstruction of justice. >> i only said the evidence needs to be pursued, wherever it leads. not that any individual person is under investigation. i have no knowledge of what the special prosecutor might pursue. i was one of the first, if not the first, who asked for a special prosecutor. rosenstein that i would vote against him and i did vote against him. the only member of the judiciary committee to do so. and i said to him, and i am glad
that he is now the special prosecutor, but the targets of the investigation and the specific charges at this point are up to the special prosecutor. i'm not resuming that anyone is a target, including the president of the united states. there may be others who are not even known at this point. >> the deputy attorney general said that mueller will have the resources he needs. >> i asked him specifically and that was a very important point. the special prosecutor has to have the independent resources and unlimited mandate to follow the evidence where it leads. >> thank you. >> senator. >>