Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer says Trump's newness to the office of the Presidency is no excuse. "He's the President of the United States," Schumer stresses. "He's got to step up to the plate."
About the allegations that former AG Loretta Lynch ordered FBI Director Comey to downplay the Hillary Clinton email investigation at the request of the Clinton campaign, Schumer said: "All I am saying with Loretta Lynch is, before anyone jumps to any conclusions, we ought to hear what she has to say and let her state something privately and see if it makes much of a difference. I don't know that it will."
DICKERSON: Joining us now is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Senator, you heard James Comey's testimony. Did he make the case for obstruction?
SCHUMER: Look, when it comes to something like obstruction, there is a serious legal standard. A good prosecutor looks at the facts and sees if it meets that standard.
I am not going to speculate about that. That is in prosecutor Mueller's hands.
DICKERSON: The president said he would testify in front of the Senate. I assume you are all for that.
SCHUMER: Well, I would like to invite the president to testify before the Senate.
I think we could work out a way that it could be dignified, public, with questions, with Leader McConnell. Of course, we would have to consult with prosecutor Mueller before doing it.
But I want to make a broader point here that relates to that. This is such serious stuff, John. Seventeen intelligence agencies said the Russians did interfere in the past election, but if people think it is past us, they are preparing to interfere in all of our elections.
That goes to the wellspring of the democracy. And this is serious stuff. We have the former director of the FBI under oath saying one thing, President Trump saying another. There is a cloud over the presidency, the president said, and that is rightly so.
There are two ways to clear up that cloud. One, if there are tapes -- he alluded to the fact that there are tapes, maybe as a threat or taunting Comey -- he should make them public right away. If there aren't tapes, he should let that be known. No more game-playing.
And, of course, he said he would testify. So I am inviting him to come testify and we could work that out.
And one final point here. This is serious stuff. And the president seems to be taking it almost a little bit lightly. It is sort of like the tax returns. You know, in the middle of the summer last year, he said he would release them before the election. Then he said there is an audit. Then he said he is never going to release them.
Well, when it comes to the tapes and it comes to testifying, he ought to say what he means. And, if he does, we will take him -- we will take him up on each case.
DICKERSON: Let me separate these two issues.
First, on the question of interference in -- with Director Comey or anybody else, what about Paul Ryan's argument, which is basically, Speaker Ryan said the president is new at this, he's new to government, and so he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols?
What do you make of that defense?
SCHUMER: Well, you know, Comey said that he cleared the room, the president did, before he talked to him. That doesn't indicate a casualness.
But there is a deeper point here. The president is the most powerful man in the world. His words really, really matter, whether it comes to foreign policy with NATO or with Australia or Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whether it comes to domestic policy, whether it comes to this investigation.
The fact that he is new, the fact that he may not say things so seriously, that is not an excuse. He is the president of the United States, and he has got to step up to the plate.
DICKERSON: What -- Jeff Sessions is going to testify next week. What do you want to hear from Jeff Sessions?
SCHUMER: Well, first, I think he should be sworn under oath. Second, I think it should be public. There is very little that is classified. Anything that is classified, they can do in a separate classified briefing.
There are some questions about Sessions that have to be asked. First, did he interfere with the Russian investigation before he recused himself? Second, what safeguards are there now so that he doesn't interfere? Third, it says he was involved in the firing of Comey, and the president said Comey was fired because of Russia. How does that fit into with recusal?
It doesn't seem to stand up well to me. And, fourth, he has been involved in the selection of the new FBI director. Did he talk about the Russian investigation with them?
All those are important questions. I hope they will be asked...
DICKERSON: Let me ask...
SCHUMER: ... in public, and when -- Sessions under oath.
DICKERSON: Let me ask about the previous attorney general.
Lindsey Graham suggested she should come and the testify. Do you think she did anything wrong, based on what Jim Comey testified?
SCHUMER: Look, I heard what Comey said, and he said he was troubled by it. I respect him a great deal. But I haven't heard Loretta Lynch's side of the story. So, I'm not going to come to a conclusion as to who was right or wrong or whether it rises to the level that she should come testify.
DICKERSON: In the political back and forth here, people look at Democrats not getting very exercised about Loretta Lynch and what she may have done to be possibly meddling in that investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mail server, and the Democrats don't seem to listen so much to James Comey when he's talking about Loretta Lynch, but take everything he says about the president as gospel.
Doesn't that just kind of put this into the normal partisan sorting and people kind of look at this and say, well, it is just Democrats and Republicans bickering again?
SCHUMER: Well, for one thing, the investigation that is surrounding this into Hillary's e-mails has had a long, and long, long history, lots of congressional investigations, an FBI investigation.
And all I am saying with Loretta Lynch is, before anyone jumps to any conclusions, we ought to hear what she has to say and let her state something privately and see if it makes much of a difference. I don't know that it will.
DICKERSON: Last 30 seconds, Senator.
On health care, Fourth of July, Mitch McConnell says.
SCHUMER: Yes, look, with Mitch McConnell -- Mitch McConnell is the leader of the Senate.
And to have this issue, which affects a sixth of our economy, tens of millions of people's coverage -- millions would lose coverage, lose preexisting conditions, hurting the elderly, hurting women, to do this in private, without hearings, without amendments, it would be one of the most outrageous examples of legislative malpractice in decades.
I am appealing to Leader McConnell.
DICKERSON: All right. All right.
SCHUMER: Once you have your bill, once you have your bill, put it forward in public, like we Democrats did. There were amendments on Obamacare that Hatch and Grassley amended as part of the bill.