I was on my way to investigate the Harvey Weinstein scandal, when I noticed that Vanity Fair had an article and knowing that they are liberal I was surprised first, that they did one and second, that they are munching on their own.
So it appears that the evidence, admitted by Harvey is overwhelming. There is no drawing of the shades or wearing rose colored glasses, this is it Harv, your toast.
Now I’m reading the article and in the middle of the story is a video, so I clicked the video which turned out to be part of Vanity Fair’s fourth annual New Establishment Summit on October 2-4, 2017.
This 39:40 video had Sally Yates, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General and Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney Southern District of NY.
So as I’m watching the video it becomes apparent that Harvey Weinstein will not be discussed but Donald Trump will.
They go on and on enforcing each others left leaning opinions, hey if enough of them say it, it must be true. That has been their modus operandi from day one. Everyone on the left, celebrities, media, politicians and anarchists, should be synchronized swimmers. They are so coordinated.
Now the article is Harvey, so they didn’t lie, but they just can’t help themselves in putting Trump down, by having this video front and center in the article. It’s like, if we’re going to have to fry one of ours, yours is going down!
Another example by Vanity unFair is the August 2017 issue with Serena Williams on the cover nude and pregnant. With an article about Trump titled “Deal with the Devil”, or the “A Very Goldman White House”, “The Enablers”, “The Lying Game” and to round it off Graydon Carter, the Editors “All The President’s Men 2.0”.
For blogging out loud)) there’s five articles in one issue, that sway your position on Trumps character just with the headline. So now you have people who may not read the article, you know those busy skim/scan readers who have interest but its not the most important thing, but Vanity unFair makes you against Trump without you even knowing it.
We’ll have to see how it goes for Harvey, because he admitted his problem, and he wants to do a film on President Trump, which is making the left drool already. If that’t not enough he’s going to fight the NRA. Wow he seems like a shining example for the left. What a fine upstanding man.
Everybody’s had their coffee.
Listening to some good conversation.
I’m thrilled to be up here with a couple of people
who really don’t need much of an introduction,
Sally and Preet.
I was always fascinated by Preet’s career as a US Attorney
in Manhattan, but what I thought was really cool
was that he became one of those handful of Manhattanites
for whom in every conversation,
whether Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, anywhere,
he was just one name, Preet.
If you heard the name Preet,
you knew they were talking about him.
Your last name just got forgotten.
I don’t even know what it is.
I’ve forgotten, myself. (laughing)
You’re like Cher now. (laughing)
Anyway, we’re here today to talk about
what I think a lot of us think
is a highly unusual and highly pressing issue
that I don’t know that we’ve ever really dealt with,
at least since the Watergate era,
which is the question of where the rule of law
actually stands in Donald Trump’s America.
Both these folks are uniquely situated
to help us understand that.
I just think it’s a shame that after all these years
as a US Attorney and then of course,
the Deputy Attorney General, Sally,
and for seven and a half years as US Attorney in Manhattan
in many successful prosecutions.
Both of you are now perhaps best known
for the circumstances of your firings
which remained a source of curiosity and news
all these months later.
Preet, can you just by way of contextualizing
how you got here, tell us how you got fired.
Yeah, so I was fired.
Thanks for reminding me, and everyone,
and my parents who are watching the livestream somewhere.
Look, let me make a couple things clear from the outset,
and I know Sally has said the same,
the President of the United States
has the absolute authority and power
to fire anyone who works for him.
And US Attorneys, and Attorneys General, and others
work at the absolute will of the President.
The context of my firing was a little bit different.
And I’m not complaining about it.
Here I am at Vanity Fair, it’s awesome.
And I’m leading a great life,
but it’s sort of interesting for the record
that I thought the day after the election on Novenber 8th,
typically when someone is elected from the opposing party
all of the US Attorneys eventually go
through some orderly process,
and there’s a transition period,
and that happens every time there’s an election.
You know, nothing to see here.
And I expected the same for myself,
and I started making my bucket list of things to do.
I’m not going to tell you what was on it.
And then eight days after the election,
I got a phone call from the Senator for whom I used to work,
who had gotten a phone call from the President Elect
saying, I really want Preet to stay.
He also probably didn’t know my last name.
And asked me ultimately to come meet with him
on the 26th floor of Trump Tower
which I did on November 30th,
and it was a lovely meeting.
I was there, the President Elect was there,
Steve Bannon was there, Jared Kushner was there.
I’ll note that half of us are now gone.
Unclear how long the other half will stay.
And it was a very nice meeting, and an unusual meeting.
People like to word the use unprecedented.
I’m not aware of any time when a new President Elect
has asked to meet with a particular United States Attorney,
particularly one who was appointed
by a President of the other party.
And he was very complementary of the work
that my office had done,
and he asked me to stay on for another term,
and I agreed, and it was done with some.
I mean in fact, that was done before
I think there was a Secretary of State decided upon.
And I agreed to stay, and we can talk about the reasons why
one decides to stay or go,
’cause that’s a question we get a lot.
And then fast forward some time,
the President Elect called me a couple of times
for reasons that are not fully clear to chit chat.
And I think people who have seen some of the testimony
of the former FBI Director,
it was unusual to be called
by the President of the United States,
less unusual for an FBI Director
who has to deal with national security and terrorism issues.
But Donald Trump kept calling me on the phone
just to sort of chat about stuff.
(audience laughing) Which I didn’t get.
As I say in the first episode of my podcast
that you should all listen to,
even my dad who is an Indian immigrant,
retired pediatrician, thought that’s strange,
why is that guy calling you?
The second time he called me,
it was two days before the inauguration on January 18th.
Nothing untoward happened in those calls.
It was just unusual that I was getting these calls.
And I’m thinking the President Elect should be kind of busy.
He’s got a speech coming up,
and the banner in chief thing was about to happen.
[Bryan] Well, did you at least text him back
that sorry, the phone was on charger,
I was in the bathroom?
We made a determination that it was appropriate
and alright to call the President Elect back
because he was not yet the President
and didn’t have any authority to ask me to do anything.
But made it sort of a determination among ourselves,
including with the head of DOJ transition at the time,
Department of Justice Transition,
that this should not continue to happen
after this man becomes President,
for a lot of reasons, including the appearance issue,
and the appearance issue related to among other things
to kind of jurisdiction that I had in Manhattan
at the top Federal Prosecutor there
over businesses, and people, and buildings,
and you can imagine.
And I thought it would end.
And then on March 9th of this year,
I got another call from
now the President of the United States.
A message was left
’cause my assistant had gone for the day early,
and we spent an hour thinking about
whether or not I should return the call.
It’s not an easy thing not to return the call
of anybody who’s punitively your boss,
and this is the President of the United States.
I know lay people don’t always understand why it is
that it’s different when you’re a US Attorney,
or a Attorney General, or an FBI Director,
to maintain an arms length because of the independence
and integrity of not just investigations
that you may have ongoing,
but the perception of what that independence is.
And of course, ringing in everybody’s mind,
whatever you think about this
was the incident on the tarmac some months earlier
that Donald Trump himself used for great political advantage
at every rally that I heard him at,
saying, Well, something untoward must have happened
on that plane when Bill Clinton was meeting
with Loretta Lynch who was in charge
of this investigation of Bill Clinton’s wife,
And here we were with the President of the United States
now calling me, unbeknownst, I think,
to the Attorney General or anyone else.
And maybe it was going to be a natural fun conversation
and chit chat,
but how is it going to look later to other people?
And so I didn’t return the call.
And that was not a small thing to do.
And 20 hours later, I was asked for my resignation.
I don’t know if they’re related or not.
Some people think that they are.
You know, I don’t know.
And for a lot of reasons then, I insisted.
The first day, that was a Friday,
I wasn’t refusing to resign out of any kind of defiance,
I didn’t know if it was a mistake
because these guys are not so competent about things
like with the travel ban or anything else.
And I kept thinking, you know, I had had this meeting,
you know, with great fanfare.
Maybe they forgot that I had a different kind of position.
And then at some point, I realized,
having lived a long time and having worked on investigations
both of the US Attorney’s Office and in Congress
that the record should be clear
given that this man had asked me to stay
and had shaken my hand,
and no circumstances had changed to my knowledge,
that if he wanted me to go,
it should be clear that he wanted me to go,
and not some acting functionary
at the Department of Justice.
No offense to him.
Because I don’t know what’s going to come up later.
And it’s my belief now,
I’m not making an accusation,
but it’s my belief now, as I’ve said before,
that had I continued the job, had I not been fired,
and had the phone calls continued,
and had I agreed to continue to have the phone calls
in private without the Attorney General or anyone else,
given what we later learned,
what I later learned about private meetings
that the President had with Jim Comey
relating to dropping the Mike Flynn investigation,
the phone calls that apparently the President had
with his Attorney General Jeff Sessions
about dropping the Joe Arpaio case and investigation,
that at some point,
the purpose of cultivating a relationship
with the sitting US Attorney of Manhattan
was going to be to ask me to do something inappropriate.
I can’t prove that, I don’t know that for a fact.
But given all the evidence, and common sense,
and my having lived life for some period of time,
and having a sense of that guy’s character,
I think that’s what would have happened.
And so, here we are.
Have you subsequently come to any type of understanding
about why the President’s change of heart?
I don’t know that it’s nefarious,
I don’t know that it’s innocent.
I think all sorts of things are possible.
I’ve never got an explanation.
Again, it may be that someone decided
we just want everyone out.
There was a lot of talk of this nonsensical idea
of the deep state.
You know, the other thing people forget,
and Sally knows this,
it is true that US Attorneys leave
when a new administration comes in,
but they’re not asked to vacate the premises
by midnight that day.
And you would presume if they are,
that then replacements are in the office.
There’s still not a replacement, you know,
who was nominated for my position.
And that was, you know, six or seven months ago.
So that’s unusual.
At least you had the good fortune
of knowing why your departure happened.
Can you walk us through what happened to you?
Funny, I never really thought about that
in a good fortune kind of way, (laughing)
but it’s good to have a rosy view of that.
Well, actually, it’s a longstanding tradition at DOJ
for the Deputy Attorney General to stay on
as the Acting Attorney General between administrations.
And, you know, it’s really important
for there to be a continuity in all of the agencies,
but it’s really particularly essential at DOJ.
And so I agreed to stay on.
I had been Deputy, agreed to stay on as Acting AG
until President Trump’s nominee Jeff Sessions
And sort of the deal on this
ort of the deal on this
is that it’s supposed to be an uneventful time.
Sort of the understanding is
is that everything stays status quo,
that Obama era policies don’t change,
we don’t change positions on cases.
And likewise, that I wouldn’t go out, and haul off,
and initiate new policies during that interim time as well.
And in fact, I remember my Chief of Staff had told me
this was going to be so low key, so eventful,
I would have time for, in her words,
A lot of long boozy lunches.
Well, that didn’t exactly happen.
It was not an uneventful time.
I was actually in the car late Friday afternoon on my way,
on the 27th, to go back to Atlanta,
my home town of Atlanta for an event that weekend
when I got a call from my Principal Deputy.
I was able to keep one assistant with me
during this interim time.
All of the other political appointees
changed over to Trump appointees then.
So I get a call from Matt after I’ve left the office
on the way to the airport
saying, You’re not gonna believe this,
but I was just on the New York Times website,
and it looks like President Trump
has issued some sort of travel ban.
That was how we found about it at DOJ
after the executive order was issued,
was by my Deputy reading about it
on the New York Times website.
And this was particularly troubling given that
I had been sitting in the White House Council’s office
at the White House just like an hour and a half before that
talking about now what’s publicly known
as the Mike Flynn situation during that time.
So we spent the weekend trying to get our arms around
what is this thing,
and what are they trying to accomplish with it?
I mean, I remember I’m on the plane on my iPad
literally going online trying to find
a copy of the executive order.
So we would understand what it was
that I was going to have lawyers in court
the very next morning, Saturday morning, defending.
Because there were going to be challenges
with people who were arriving here in the country
and not permitted in.
And so I issued a directive than
that over the course of the weekend
that people could defend, or lawyers could defend,
on procedural grounds only,
but that we weren’t going to take a position yet
on the constitutionality of the order
until we knew whether we believed it was constitutional.
And had you any directive or communication
from the White House in the overnight period
on what you should be doing,
how you should be handling this?
[Bryan] You were just flying on what–
At this point, yup.
So we go through.
And at that time, the executive order,
this was travel ban one,
and the early stages of travel ban one.
So when I made the decision that I did.
For example, it actually applied to green card holders,
lawful permanent residents.
It applied to people who had valid VISAs.
Literally, if they had left the country,
they were being turned away
and not being let back into the country at this point.
And so first thing Monday morning after we’ve gone through,
and you know, I’ve been reading challenges over the weekend,
I gathered all of the folks at DOJ
that would be responsible for defending this.
And that included our career lawyers,
as well as all of the Trump appointees
from the various divisions that were involved in this.
And, you know, I asked them, Tell me the best argument
why this is constitutional.
And I can’t disclose obviously
what the internal discussions were within DOJ,
but I can tell you that at the end of that discussion,
I was not satisfied that the travel ban was lawful
and I also thought it was antithetical
to a very cornerstone of our country,
the concept of religious freedom.
And so at that point, sort of the decision for me was,
well, do I resign now?
Or do I direct the Department of Justice
not to defend this executive order
that I was not convinced was lawful or constitutional?
And not just about some arcane statute,
but about a core core principle of our country.
And I went back and forth on that some in my head.
This is all happening at lightning pace.
You know, this is Monday morning.
I’m now sort of mid-day Monday,
and am sort of struggling back and forth
with the resign or direct.
And you know, I guess sort of the bottom line on that
is that I felt like resignation
would have protected my personal integrity,
but it would not have protected
the integrity of the Department of Justice.
And I thought back to my confirmation hearing
when there were several senators there
that asked me to pledge
that if the President asked me to do something
that was unlawful or unconstitutional,
that I would say no.
They didn’t say,
Will you resign if the President does that?
They asked, Will you say no?
And so I felt like I needed to do my job.
And in this instance,
that meant directing the Department of Justice
not to defend the travel ban.
And so, can the White House’s response to this
be measured in seconds, minutes, or hours?
It was hours.
Well, the response was pretty quick,
but in terms of the ultimate action there.
Well, what did you hear first?
They weren’t happy.
Yeah, I understand that.
But, you know, had they consulted with us in advance,
I think they could have understood what the concerns were.
And that was also one of the concerns that I had here
for an executive order
that was ostensibly about national security,
none of the national security agencies
had been consulted about this.
Did you give them a heads up
about what you were going to do?
Yes, they had a heads up about that.
Then within a few hours, later that evening,
nine-ish or so that night,
they hand delivered a letter to me
telling me that the President had removed me.
Apparently, they tried to do it by email, I’m told.
I found this out later.
They tried to do it by email,
but the email kept bouncing back. (laughing)
That’s sort of like breaking up with somebody
by text or something, isn’t it?
[Bryan] Yeah, it hurts.
Let me tell ya.
Should we talk about this? (laughing)
No, no, no.
Did you, what, literally get a knock on the door
at one point?
Well, they hand delivered a letter over.
And my Principal Deputy,
the one that had told me about the travel ban,
was still there.
And his office had a door that opened into mine.
And there’s a knock on the door.
And when I heard the knock,
I knew what it was because Matt generally,
he’d sort of knock, the way we operated,
he’d knock and kind of walk in at the same time.
When there was a knock and a wait?
Oh my goodness.
So you knew it?
I mean look, I’m not stupid.
I recognized that there was a good chance
that I might get fired when I did this.
I had certainly recognized that was a distinct possibility.
You know, I’ll confess to you.
I kind of hoped not.
You know, I’d been with DOJ for 27 years,
and I didn’t particularly
want to end my service being fired.
But on the other hand,
I didn’t want to defend into my service
defending something that I believed was unconstitutional
and antithetical to who we are.
So what did you do later that night?
Did you go home?
Did you go out for drinks?
Yeah, so I had to pack my stuff.
So, it was yeah.
Were you escorted from the building?
Well, I was always escorted from the building
’cause I had a security detail so that. (laughing)
I don’t think they were there
like making sure I didn’t steal the staplers or anything,
if that’s what you mean.
And you didn’t?
No, no, no.
Didn’t take anything.
[Preet] I took one stapler.
(laughing) (audience applauding)
Let’s use all this as wonderful context
to explore this issue that, you know, I’m 56 years old,
and I’m not sure I’ve ever had serious concern
about how our President regards the rule of law in America.
We now live in an era in which the President not only
openly questions and hazes
individual appellate courts and judges, but tweets at them.
Where, you know, sections of the Justice Department
like the EPA, perhaps,
seem to be turned on their heads
in terms of priority and hirings.
Preet, let me throw this out to you first
as the subject for broader discussion.
There has been so much hubbub,
and so much concern, hysteria, about the rule of law.
What should we legitimately be concerned about?
And what, not so much?
I think we should legitimately be concerned
about everything everyday.
But what level of concern you apply to each of these issues
is, I think, open to some question.
And so, my view is that if you look
at what the checks and balances are in the country,
the framers were very smart in a lot of ways.
They were imperfect, but they were smart in a lot of ways.
And some of the things that create these checks and balances
that are structural are things that I worry about less.
So for example, the courts, we talked about the courts.
And it is true that Donald Trump has tried to intimidate,
humiliate, mock, judges by name.
There’s a norm against doing that,
and there’s good reasons not to do that.
And I’ve talked to judges personally,
and we all, Sally and I both know a lot of people
who were federal judges
who do express some amount of consternation
about the possibility if they have some case or controversy
that involves an interest of the President
or his associates,
that they’re going to be maligned publicly,
and that’s not great.
Nobody likes to get death threats.
Nobody likes to be singled out in that way
just for doing your job.
But it does remain true that federal judges in our system
you know, have life tenure.
And if you don’t have life tenure,
you know, you get a podcast.
But the federal judges I know,
even though they’re worried
about being singled out in that way,
they got to that position for a reason,
and they’re going to do what’s right.
And you see how the travel ban has fared,
you know, after Sally correctly refused to enforce it.
So I’m not that worried about the courts.
It’s bad, it’s terrible, it looks horrible,
it’s bad for people’s faith in what the courts are doing,
which I think is not a good thing.
He’s encouraging millions and millions of Americans
to not have faith in what the courts do,
and to not respect the judgements of what judges order,
also exacerbated by the Joe Arpaio part.
So that’s terrible, and you should be concerned about it,
but I wouldn’t freak out about it.
You know, another checking institution.
Sort of in the constitution in that First Amendment.
I think it’s as strong as it’s ever been.
And I think it’s a little bit of a Renaissance era
for the press.
There’s scoop, after scoop, after scoop.
And so, just quickly.
I’m concerned, again, in the parallel way,
that the President is encouraging
millions and millions of people
to have a different view of what truth is.
And all the, you know, insults,
and excoriation of particular media outlets
that he doesn’t agree with,
and only because he doesn’t agree with them.
If there’s a week when he agrees with them,
then he loves the New York Times.
Or a week he doesn’t agree with Fox News,
he hates Fox News.
And that’s creating mistrust,
and I think a dilapidation of our institutions,
but I’m not that worried structurally
because the First Amendment
has not been really harmed in any way.
Congress is sort of in the middle as a checking function.
I think depending on what the political will is
and what the political dynamic is,
they will do more oversight rather than less.
I think you’re seeing more of that.
So the area where I’m concerned
is also the area where I have some experience.
And that is internally within the executive branch,
the trampling of important, you know, soft norms,
but important norms, of how to allow investigations
to happen in an independent way.
So the firing of the Director of the FBI
and the circumstances around it,
and the timing of it.
The telling of people to drop investigations,
the decision to do all sorts of things without discussion.
Nothing requires the President, right,
even the travel ban,
to consult with the Attorney General,
to consult with a national security apparatus,
but it seems insane not to do it.
And in lots and lots of ways,
people are going to begin to discover
the things that we have kind of trusted
a President in the executive branch to do
according to the way it’s been done before.
Not just because it’s tradition,
but because it makes sense,
and it keeps us safer,
and gives us more hope
and faith in the decisions being made.
Those things I freak out about
because we’re discovering the extent to which
a president, if he or she wants,
can push the envelope far beyond most people appreciate it.
Let you stop you there.
Sally, what do you think we should legitimately concern?
Maybe that’s not the best way to put it.
In terms of the rule of law
and the norms associated with it,
what do you think the Trump administration has put at risk,
and what do you think is not so much at risk?
Well, when we talk about the rule of law,
I think one thing that’s sort of helpful
is to define a little bit of what we mean by that,
and it’s a pretty simple concept.
It’s really sort of what separates us from an autocracy.
It’s the concept that, you know, as John Adams had said,
We are a country of laws, not men.
I’m sure he would add women now, too.
And that no one is above the law,
that the laws are supposed to apply equally to everyone.
And that you don’t use it,
the executive doesn’t use the law
to go after political adversaries or to protect friends.
And Preet’s absolutely right, that’s not something
that’s really codified in a statue anywhere or in a case,
that really is protected through norms and traditions.
And one of the most important roles and traditions
in protecting the rule of law
is the norm that the White House and the President
has absolutely nothing to do with criminal investigations
or prosecutions, period.
Nothing to do with the most mundane low level case,
and certainly, that interest is at its zenith
when an investigation reaches into the White House itself.
And this is something that has been honored
by Democratic and Republican administrators alike
And it’s such an important concept.
And DOJ is so different than the other agencies
that DOJ’s the only agency
that actually had a written contacts policy
that specifically laws out what kind of contact there can be
between the White House and DOJ.
Preet is right.
What we have seen happen here
is that the President completely
not just chip away at the wall, but breach the wall
between DOJ and the White House on the investigation
that reaches directly into the White House.
And we saw that with imploring Jim Comey
to drop the Michael Flynn investigation
and then firing him when he didn’t,
with trying to goad Attorney General Sessions
into re-initiating an investigation of his former adversary,
of trying to bully AG Sessions into resigning
when he was upset that he didn’t have someone
he had appointed in charge of the Russia investigation
which, by itself, is a stunning thought.
That he thinks that he should be in charge of whoever it is
that’s in charge of the Russia investigation.
This is just not how it works or how it’s supposed to work.
(Preet and Bryan talking over each other)
[Bryan] It’s fascinating.
The one thing, the one,
like, I don’t know how Jeff Sessions
is doing on a lot of different things,
and I knew him from my time in the Senate also.
But the one thing we know as a documented fact
that he did correctly
in consultation with the career ethics people
at the department
was to recuse himself from the Russia investigation,
and that is the one thing–
[Sally] It was kind of a no-brainer, but yeah.
(audience laughing) But it’s the one thing, right?
And it’s the one thing
that the President of the United States says
is the reason why he doesn’t want the guy around.
That is the kind of thing
that I think Sally and I are talking about.
Because those are the things
we know that he’s saying out loud,
what I don’t know, and what we don’t know,
is how many other things are there
that the President doesn’t like,
either wants to go after somebody,
or wants people not to go after somebody
’cause they’re an ally,
where there are malleable people in different places
’cause it’s a difficult thing to resist any president,
and it’s a difficult thing to resist a bullying,
you know, maniac of a president
like I think we’re beginning to get here.
Well, before I go to where you know I want to go next,
let me just ask,
as you look at the earliers of Flynn, Sessions, Comey,
do you feel confident in saying aloud
that all we’re seeing so far
is breaching and trampling of norms?
Or can we point to anything that is arguably breaching
and trampling of a law?
Well, there’s a guy looking at that, you know.
You know, we don’t know.
And I know a lot of people
are sort of putting all their hopes into Bob Muller.
And, you know, I’ve got tremendous confidence in Bob Muller.
And I tell you, if anybody can get to the bottom
of what happened here,
and if anybody will call it straight
about whether or not there were crimes committed,
it’s going to be Bob Muller.
But the fact of the matter is, he’s going to determine
whether there’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt
that felonies were committed, that crimes were committed,
that could be used for prosecution or impeachment.
He is not going to answer the question
whether anything bad happened here.
I think, sort of my perspective is,
we already know some bad stuff happened
just with the things
that Preet and I have already talked about.
And surely, our standard of conduct for our President
of what’s acceptable to us
is not just like anything short of a felony is OK.
I mean surely, this standard is higher than that.
What was your knee jerk reaction, both of you,
what was your knee jerk reaction to the Comey firing?
First five minutes.
So I was giving a speech at the time
and there was a Q and A period,
and a federal judge asked me the question,
you know, Hypothetically, what would be your reaction
if the President were to fire Jim Comey?
And I had not seen the news,
and he was cheating and he had seen the news.
And I said,
Well, I don’t really think that’s going to happen.
That seems outrageous.
And then someone else said, Preet, it’s not a hypothetical.
It just happened.
So my reaction was a negative one.
Did you instinctively feel like,
you know, a bridge had been crossed,
a line had been crossed?
We don’t see that.
That doesn’t happen in our country, you know?
It made me think that the President of the United States,
going back to these norms issues,
is capable in anger,
whether it’s related to the Russia investigation or not,
is capable of doing a lot of stuff
that people might not have predicted.
Look, I agreed to stay.
And I had a family meeting,
and we discussed, you know, the President.
And he was no a popular figure.
I have a 16 year old daughter.
He was not a popular figure in my home when he got elected.
But I thought, and I believe still,
that US Attorneys do not serve the President,
although we serve at the pleasure of the President.
And my job was about following the constitution
in an independent way.
And if someone was going to let me do that,
then it was the honor of my life to do it,
and I was going to keep doing it.
And I didn’t predict,
and people in my home didn’t predict,
the kinds of things I think,
even though I know there’s an argument to say
like it was all laid bare and you should have known
given all of the conduct during the campaign,
I really think that certain things that he has done
including the way he fired Jim Comey,
particularly given what we know now,
when there was objection to this
by among other people Steve Bannon,
who, you kow, Steve Bannon saying don’t do this thing.
And he’s saying I’m gonna do it anyway,
I mean, that’s crazy.
I’m gonna do it anyway.
What I’m worried about is I have no expectation
on issues of independence and the rule of law
that Donald Trump will be guided by anything other than
you know, in the moment, anger and personal interest.
And that’s a kind of scary place to be.
Sally, what did you think of the Comey firing
when you first heard of it?
Well, if you’ll recall back when it first happened,
there was an evolving explanation as to what–
Right, there was a different explanation
every day of the week.
As to why he was fired.
First, it was because of Comey’s conduct
in the Hillary Clinton investigation.
Then, I believe the President did an interview
with Lester Holt where we just right out of the gate
said it was that Russia thing.
Contradicting his own spokesman, yeah.
You can’t fire Jim Comey because of that Russia thing.
I mean that’s problematic.
That sort of is the ultimate example to me.
I say you can’t do it, I mean, he did.
But again, that violates those norms
that we were talking about.
I mean that’s really troubling, to state the obvious.
It seems like everybody always wants to know
is Muller going to get Trump?
And I actually have always thought that the better question
is is Trump going to get Muller?
I mean do you think Muller and that investigation are safe?
And safe from, let’s call it outside interference.
What do you think?
Hard to know the answer to that.
[Bryan] You are sitting here is the–
I’m supposed to know the answer. (laughing)
You know, six months ago,
you were number two in the Justice Department,
and now you’re saying you literally do not know
whether this investigation is safe from our own President.
Well, let’s hope that it is
because I think of what the public reaction would be
and should be to that,
and even what the reaction would be in Congress.
I mean, think back to the Russia sanctions.
If you recall,
when Congress passed the legislation for the sanctions,
they also included in there a provision
that essentially prevented the President
from reversing that.
That’s a reflection to me or at least a hopeful note
that Congress gets how serious this is.
And look, regardless of what
your political affiliation here,
whether you’re Democrat, or Republican, or Independent,
we all oughta really care about a foreign adversary
messing in our elections.
And so that’s a place where I am hopeful
that people can put politics aside
and protect the integrity of that investigation.
Preet, do you think the Muller investigation
is safe from our President?
I think so as long as
Bob Muller is in the position that he is
and he gets to choose the team that he gets to choose.
I have confidence.
In other words, if the spirit of the question is in part
are Bob Muller or members of his team
going to be intimidated by a lot of talk,
I don’t think so.
Or worried that it’s not worth it
because they’ll just get pardoned, I don’t think so.
But I think that Sally and I would agree
that there are ways to stimey the thing,
you know, structurally,
that might cause Congress to then–
Yeah, something between intimidation and firing
that we should worry about.
I feel there should be a lot of worry
about a lot of things. (laughing)
Isn’t that a message here for the–
I just do.
But I think if it were a different person
and a different team,
I think my answers would be even more pessimistic.
I have a lot of confidence.
You know, Sally and I both worked with Bob Muller
over a number of years,
and he’s about as steadfast a person that there is,
so I have confidence.
And by the way, I have confidence also,
there’s a lot of people here who want him to find something,
and he may not as Sally said, it’s a high bar.
He may not decide that there is an offense to be charged
or referred to the House of Representatives for impeachment.
And I would hope, and I’ll respect that.
And I think people who are on one side of the fence
should respect that also.
I mean, everyone’s worried.
You’re asking the question from one perspective,
like, what happens,
is he going to be intimidated into not bringing a case.
I think it’s a good thing
no matter what you think politically about the President,
I know a lot of people don’t like the President,
but I also don’t want him to be intimidated
or pressured into doing something in the other direction,
in bringing a charge.
The point of it is,
and people keep saying, He’s assembling a team
that’s going to bring a charge,
and that’s the team that he’s put together.
I hope that we want still in America
people to be putting together a team
like you had at the Justice Department,
like I had at the US Attorney’s Office
whose goal only is to find out the truth
and apply the law and facts fairly.
And sometimes that means bringing a case,
and I’ve gotten criticized for cases I’ve brought,
and sometimes it means don’t bring a case,
and I’ve gotten more criticism for that.
But I think you want people to be thoughtful
about what the law allows and doesn’t,
and not be intimidated in either direction.
Guys, a couple, or three minutes left.
I want to get us out of here on this.
I want to believe that good or bad,
once the Trump administration leaves the White House
after four-eight years,
we’ll no longer be bedeviled by such questions
on the rule of law.
Has anything happened so far in this world
Or do you feel like it’s only a matter of time
until everything bounces back the way it was before?
Well, the danger to me of it becoming irreversible
is if we normalize this conduct.
And look, I get that it’s absolutely exhausting
to be outraged day after day.
And it seems that we move from one thing,
and then it doesn’t even last 24 hours
until we move onto the next thing.
But the way that this becomes lasting and permanent
is if out of our fatigue, we start to normalize this,
and we then project that onto the next administration,
or the next Attorney General, or the next President.
I’m not sensing that from folks right now,
but it’s hard to keep up with this,
but I think it’s absolutely essential.
I think that really comes from like folks in this room,
from the public, to continue to demand,
and to continue to be heard that this is not normal,
this is not acceptable,
and this is not what our country stands for.
I agree completely with Sally.
The good news in all of this
is I don’t think there’s anything reversible.
There’s a sowing of doubt among a lot of people
who are political supporters of the President
that anything that is against the interest of the President
is necessarily bad, and evil, and not lawful,
and I worry about that becoming normalized like Sally said.
But what we also have is brave, courageous acts
on the part of people who are just doing their job.
Like the judges who don’t care if they’re being intimidated
and being called out on Twitter to 33 million followers,
they’re just doing their job.
Sally Yates deciding in her judgment,
and consistent with the law and her conscience,
and talking to other people at the department
not to do a thing that she thinks is wrong
and violate her oath,
reporters doing the same thing,
people within the department doing the same thing.
And I think sometimes when you have threats
to what democratic society should be about,
there are people who respond to those threats.
And so I will have much much more optimism about it
if I continue to see this kind of reaction
to the bad things that are happening,
so that’s why I’m optimistic.
When I asked on Twitter the other day
for questions for y’all,
it seems like most of them have to do
with when you were going to be running for office.
Sally, apparently there’s some curiosity
about whether you might actually run for the White House.
What’s next for you both?
I was born in India,
so I’m not running for the White House.
I’m just basically trying not to get deported
in the near future, alright? (laughing)
(audience laughing and applauding)
Sally, how about you?
I can’t see running for office.
I believe in public service,
but my husband keeps telling me to never say never
about running for some elected office,
but that’s just not something
I’ve ever really been drawn to.
Now Preet, I know you’re making noises
about joining us here in the chattering class.
Are you going to be in my seat next year?
But you do have
one of the highest rated podcasts on iTunes, I’m told?
Applepodcast.com/Preet (audience laughing)
[Sally] Thank you for asking! (laughing)
We have three episodes on, we have another one tomorrow.
I’ve got to put my kids through college somehow.
But I’m also writing a book,
and I’ve become a legal analyst at CNN,
and I’m doing a lot of things.
I’m trying to delay the time as long as possible
before I might have to go to a law firm
and represent bad guys.
Well, thank you both for being here. (laughing)
And thank y’all for being here!