Trump denies urging Comey to end Flynn investigation

ABC News' Amna Nawaz, Cecilia Vega, Pierre Thomas and Rick Klein break down Trump's joint presser with the Colombian president, which comes one day after Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel in Russia investigation.
15:30 | 05/18/17

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Transcript for Trump denies urging Comey to end Flynn investigation
Hey guys on the bots here will they get how to that is the first time we have heard directly. From president trump himself after the appointment of a special counsel yesterday to look into possible Russian interference. In the 2016 election and any possible collusion between mr. terms campaign. And Russian officials a lot of news to cover stay with us here my pal down in DC Rick Klein ABC's political director joins us live how you doing rank. I'm not what a way that almost wrap up the week we have Friday at. A well that's the sadness that Frankfurt and a Serb Fuller and it just came at me for a little bit longer here but. All all the news all of the news talk about different the last time we talked. Yesterday evening new development on a number of fronts but let's start in this press conference here. We heard from the president directly doubling down on that tweet from this morning calling this investigation a political witch hunt and injuring a question on everyone's mind. Did you actually ask FBI director call me to stop the investigation he said now. Next question and he is it's a flat denial. All of the very direct accusation that's come from Komi associates that they say. Are based on real time notes that he took about that conversation with the president we know that those notes. Haven't subpoena by multiple committees of congress we know those notes will be subject to discovery by Bob Moehler who's now. The head of the news special counsel's office they'll be investigating this so that that will come out but this puts president trump directly at odds with the account we are told that exists. Of director called me and on the other point I thought it was interesting about his answer there not just the witch hunt because he said that in a tweet. He also said he respects the decision I felt like that was a bit of a poll punch. By president trot he did not go directly after rob rose and spine and we praise the few recently last week. After he wrote that letter recommending that that call me or suggesting that home you could lose his job. IC he is not wanting to go directly after the the deputy attorney general or directly at the special counsel but he is maintaining his position that there is no collusion. And that there is nothing for this special counsel or anyone else to discover about its ties to the Russians although I do would know that he had slightly on his answer and so that he can only speak for himself no collusion with the campaign only speaking for himself I think something will read that is just the tiniest slice of wiggle room. It's it's a good point to point out there let's go now to Cecilia Vega who is in the really there president house press conference joint presser with the Colombian president sent us there. Cecilia we are now. Today after that things that the White House didn't want to happen they've made it clear again and again we don't need a special counsel it's not necessary here we are with one the president said he wants to get back to work. What is the mood of this team the day after the special counsel was appoint. You know on the C they're sort of two different moods happening right now I was really struck by the president's tone here today this was a very measured. President strong and that matches very much wet White House. Sources have been telling me and that his reaction was when he first I have found out about the special counsel. Last night that in fact he wasn't angry and many aides expected him to be unhinged is a word but I've heard from others and and serious about this. What we saw from president heartbreak here today was emphatic denials he really wanted to get his point out there he says I did not do this next question. As as Rick said but but you know behind the scenes there is definitely a sense of nervousness. Here right now people feel like this is. And at what we're talking three days of bombshell headlines at this White House has hiked has been struggling to deal with and get out in front of all overshadowing of course this big foreign trip that the press corps takes off on tonight the president takes off on tomorrow. I'm so so people feel. In some ways that there's a sense of release among the White House staffers that they can maybe punt on this question now and not have to ask any answer anymore questions about Russia they can say look it's under investigation. Asked and answered but privately. Lehrer little nervous about what could come at us and lots of these ahead on the foreign trip as you mentioned thank you thank you may get. Live for us asked the White House let's go now to our colleague Pierre Thomas. Senior justice correspondent Pierre some with so many names that we are learning. They're gonna hear more and more in the months ahead Robert Mueller is one this is day one for him. As the special counsel. What's he doing. Well we're being told he's already reaching out to Justice Department officials he's not a man. That values we're told he's described as a dogged investigator someone who pushed the agents. To go to whatever the links they need to go to to get to the bottom of what did or didn't happen. Muller is a unique figure in Washington someone who was confirmed 100 to nothing. After serving a ten year term he was asked by President Obama to do an additional two years that's rare in this city of partisanship. At pier one of the things everyone's wondering is whether or not we're going to hear from former FBI director. James combing we heard Jason chief it's on GMA this morning wondering exactly that thing he wants to hear from the man himself he's got a hearing scheduled. Next week. Are we can hear from him or does everything out kind of get on hold with the special counsel's investigation. But the short answers we don't know the senators have requested that only show up next week in. Possibly testify in open session but now with the appointment of a special counsel. Will Komi be considered a witness of some sort. Might he not want to comment publicly until he's communicated with the staff of director. I'm Muller a special counsel Norris is say now so those are some open questions that have yet to be resolved. Pierre Thomas live for us in DC thanks so much care. Reclined back over to you guys you know one thing that strikes me here we've heard from the president now we've heard from a number of people in his team. We have not yet heard from a number of congressional Republicans. Where are the Republicans on this. Hiding silent confused dismayed. You name the emotion they have felt that over the past nine days I do think. Get the revelations that began. A week ago Monday when Sally Yates came forward and talked about how she told the the White House that. The national security advisors hi Michael Flynn might be compromised by the Russians. That began a cascade of news continuing for the call me firing the meeting with the Russians. In the Oval Office that this contributed to this or crisis atmosphere that has changed the tone the tenor of the responsible Republicans. There are fewer and fewer Republicans willing to stand up. Two two in for president trop I was struck by something. The RNC chair Ron McDaniel came out and said. All Republicans need to get with the captain of the ship that was a pretty extraordinary statement it was intended. To be a message to office holders up and down the ballot. If you want the aren't sea and the trump operation to be behind you this is the time this is the sort of crisis you have to be behind your guy on because we are seeing so many Republicans put distance between themselves and this White House. Rick you mention that Sally testimony that was me eight that was ten. Days ago and here is you that yes yeah that's so worked up. But listen you also mentioned Michael clinic I ask you about some of the news stories coming out today it's and there are a number of breaking news stories overnight in early this morning. A couple of this potentially disturbing reports right. One that when he was in transition when Michael Plymouth is talking to jump transition team before inauguration. It's reported he does close to them that he was under investigation. For his previous lobbying work for the government of Turkey and yet he was still. Names national security advisor in given top security clearance and so on. How would this going to feed into the conversation and all the ongoing investigations moving sports. It should be noted this is separate in the Russian issue this is about Turkey. We've known about about the fact that he did lobbying work for Turkey the government of Turkey that he did not disclose we haven't known the timeline of when. The trump White House would have been known about it at this point the transition. Intriguingly. Mike Pence the vice president of course was the chairman of the transition team took over for Chris Christie. Who was ousted shortly after the election within weeks Mike Pence sat back in March that the first that he knew about the Turkish lobbying was back in March. Now we find out that the transition team was told we were told by the vice president's office the vice president stands by that remark that means the information never got to him that's his contention. If he was how of that will even though he was chairman of the transition team so that information flow in the details so important right now. Then it gets to a question of judgment on because. If someone of the transition team knew that he was under active investigation if that information got to the president the United States and he decided to make of his national security advisor anyway. That blows away any traditions of how you'd handle something like this the idea that you quit having compromised in the pocket national security advisor that's why you have conflict of interest actors that's why you have. Information flowing between agencies about investigations as to. Prevent this sort of thing and then of course Sally Yates who did going to say the Russians may have compromised them all despite all of those things Michael Flynn gets the job and keeps it for that critical eighteen days stretch. Properties changing and administration policy setting things in motion for the first time. Actually doing things inside the White House all of this cloud adds up this is a very damning set of facts for this White House. Still a lot of questions remain around all of those eighteen days what happens during those end in the lead up to them want to ask you something else. About something the president sat here he said he wants to move quickly on his choice for the next FBI director he confirmed that in today's. Hearing he said aren't today's press conference rather he said were going to have a decision very very soon he's confirmed that the front runner seems to be former senator Joseph Lieberman. What does that mean TO. That means that the president is looking for someone is more mundane. Joseph Lieberman does not have any FBI experience he is also about as political as you can imagine of course he ran for vice president and he was senator for about 25 years. I essentially kicked out of the Democratic Party we're hearing from Republican senators who say. This is a great choice he's going to be confirmed 100 to nothing. I have a low on record right here right now its he's not going to be anything close to 100 for nothing for several reasons one is. Joseph Lieberman hasn't really been a Democrat for some time he turned out the party turned on him or he turned on the party depending on the account the you believe he ended up speaking at John McCain's convention. He became an independent after he was essentially kicked out losing the democratic primary back in Connecticut he didn't run for election because he would have lost a couple years ago. He is not considered a friend of Democrats he's pursue pursuit policies very aligned with the bush White House he's the Democrat that many Democrats love to hate despite the fact that he was Al Gore's running mate. Secondly he works for a law firm that has done work for Donald trop. So the idea that someone has essentially been a lawyer for the trump for the Trump Organization in the past. And has been is inch intertwined in political and politics speaking at conventions coming out against democratic policies often. That that would be some kind of a consensus apolitical. Larger choice I I just don't see it so I think that would be. A bitter fight it gets that a lot of the lobbying work that Joseph Lieberman has done is work after the senate as well as some of the policy positions that he is taken. A very firm positions on. So a hundred to zero is the record to be here at. Cities I did it but it's not great I united one either look. This is going to be and here's the thing I mean I was talking with former Lieberman aide as well it's a no win situation for Joseph Lieberman. Because now Donald Trump is on the record as saying hey you know what if you're my FBI director and I don't like the way you give testimony in congress ought to fire you. So you that your Trump's huge and you go there to do his bidding. Or you go in tweak him in you where you risk getting fired. People every question that independence every step of the way particularly someone who comes from the political world is Joseph Lieberman does. Tough tough issues to felt well as it wasn't enough the president has an off on a trip didn't birth foreign trip heating. It's come major allies. With all of this hanging over him and have a lot of work to be done in each of those countries. How does that sit back the next few day. To be clear this would be a bold audacious strip under the best of circumstances. These are not the best of circumstances this isn't even close this is a huge cloud it's going to be overhanging. And he's in the coming face to face with some of the people have been implicated in these widening scandals we talk a few minutes about Turkey he's going to be. Meeting face to face of the leaders of of just about every Muslim nation in the world except for Iran and Syria when he when he is in Saudi Arabia so we know now that this is complicated the relationship with the Michael Flynn. Involving as complicated as relationships we also know that he's going to be going to Israel. Guess who's intelligence that was. The president trump shared with the Russians in the Oval Office last week the Israelis. Now we learned that one of their own operatives could be in danger because of that so. All of those tensions not to mention that the diplomatic snafus that are possible in the Middle East. Everything you do is is hyper analyze your offending someone. By what shoes you Wear where you go when you go earlier with all of those vehicles are so important this is a president. That it without any of that experience is his advance team is already offended sensibilities in Israel. He's going to be hitting its five countries over nine days and is is a break next cattle that takes him to the this scene of three major religions catholicism. Judy ism and Islam. In addition to at a NATO summit and that of course is where they project that new image so. All he wants to do next week is is solve Middle East peace. And Islamic terrorism and a certain of American leadership. Pretty tough stuff that's even if you don't have been scandals that people whispering about possible impeachment if things lead in that direction at the end so. All of those headlines are going to be play out next week he's going to be multiple. Multiple time zones away who you will by all accounts have access to Twitter. And could be weighing in on anything he wants that this is fraught with complications the White House is seen this is an opportunity to turn the page make a clean break. From the noise back home but man exit laughed out back here right now. And man is it a tangled web to keep up with ideas imagine recline your office like a scene from homeland just like pictures and maps like registering and push pins all over the place is that an accurate. No it's worth and that's all appear and I am totally confused about why and that's why that was right on the can we talk about something else that happened this press conference that I think was it was weird an unprecedented cash. So the second we saw the first question of by American journalist went to our colleague Jonathan Karl the second question. Did bottled up not a lot of people may know this at home to the second question president trump called for Peter Baker he's a correspondent for the New York Times yes but he. He actually looked at Peter Alexander who's a correspondent for NBC news and the person got the microphone actually was neither of those meant it was Scott Stillman who's a correspondent for Sinclair news and WJ LA was our affiliate here in Washington DC. Scott asked the question neither of the Peters asked the question Peter Baker wasn't even in the rule. Peter Alexander from NBC tweeted about how weird this isn't Peter Baker said I'm so glad I finally got a question a White House briefing. To that I'm not there so whatever. It mistake in terms of advance or pronunciation or confusion they don't look anything alike let me tell you that you see these two men you're not gonna confuse them on the street so that that was a weird one to say Italy's and I know a lot of reporters are buzzing about. How you confuse those who Peters and an appalling Scott. And he knew it just can't make up no you cannot you make it got to try anymore it does not worth it. Rick kind. Inkster being here and happy there thank thanks. -- kids there and hey guys thanks for being with us you can always go to abcnews.com to stay up with all of these the and stories. And more thanks for watching I'm on the deposit evacuees in.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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