Transcript: Sen. Dianne Feinstein on "Face the Nation," May 21, 2017

Feinstein to Trump: "Stop the tweeting"
Feinstein to Trump: "Stop the tweeting" 01:29

The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel in the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia marked a dramatic turn of events in the probe. It also capped a tumultuous few days for the White House, and followed President Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

On Sunday, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined "Face the Nation" to discuss the Russia investigation, Comey's firing, and want she wants to know from Comey.

What follows is a full transcript of the interview, which aired Sunday May 21, 2017 on "Face The Nation."


JOHN DICKERSON: Joining us now is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein. Welcome, senator.

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thanks, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let's start with former Director Comey. What do you want to know from him?

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, what I want to know from him is how many times did he meet with the president. Excuse me, John. Or talk with the president on the phone. What was he asked by the president? Was he asked to in any way alter the investigation? What was he asked about General Flynn? Questions like that. I think it's important for the American people to know what may be behind some of the actions that have recently been taken.

JOHN DICKERSON: Director Comey testified in front of the Judiciary Committee back in May. And he was asked these questions about whether anybody had tried to impede the investigation. And Director Comey at the time said, "Not in my experience. Talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason, that would be a very big deal. It's not happened in my experience." So it seems like before he said it hadn't happened. Now, he might be saying something different. Doesn't that make him—

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, that's why doing this in public so that the people can hear is so important. And it's why although I'd prefer it to be in Judiciary because that's the committee of jurisdiction, Mr. Comey has chosen the Intelligence Committee. I also sit on the Intelligence Committee. So if nobody asks the questions before they get to me, you've just heard the questions that I will ask. When Sally Yates came before a panel of the Judiciary Committee, I think the questions asked of her were primary questions. And the American people gained by hearing those questions. I really think that rather than have all these memorandums and issues circulating around, that we need to put the facts before the American people. And the big fact is: Did the president fire Comey because of his investigation and he was worried about what the investigation might conclude? If so, that borders on a very serious charge. So we need to flesh that out. We need to see what the response is. And it's got to come from Director Comey himself.

JOHN DICKERSON: And what do you make of the comment attributed to the president in the New York Times, that the White House has not disputed, that the president said in his meeting with the Russians, "I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy. A real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off"?

Feinstein? says Comey? is ?"?a principled man... 05:41

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, again, we'll see what records there are and hopefully be able to have access to them. I mean, this is a horrible thing for a president to say. Former Director Comey is no way, shape, or form a nut job. He's a very strong man. He's a very principled man. I happen to believe he made a couple of mistakes. I suspect he thinks he's made a couple of mistakes. Whether that deserved his termination or not is not up to me. The fact is he has been terminated. But the reason for the termination has really not been ferreted out. And that's what has to be before the American people clear and distinct.

JOHN DICKERSON: You said you wanted to see these memos that the former director wrote about his meetings with the president. The president has also talked about tapes or taping in the White House. Is that also something the Judiciary Committee would be asking for?

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, the president has referred to tapes. So we need to see. And, yes, I think it is. Senator Grassley, our chairman, and myself, we've written a letter to Director Comey asking him to appear before the Judiciary Committee. I would hope that although he's going before Intelligence that he would also do this. Because our questions would be separate, and distinct, and more along the lines of what you just asked, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: Do you get the sense that the federal investigation into this includes something beyond just the question of Russia and the Trump campaign but that it now includes a cover-up question?

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I think that's right. It does. I know what the president told me when he called to say that he was firing him. And that turned out not to be the reason. So I think there's one thing about this president. And I'd really like to say it meaning well. And that is stop the tweeting. Think about what you say. Because you're reflecting in a big pool. And the Senate and the House have to feel a sense of stability from day to day. We can't feel the anxiety that goes with not knowing what may happen next, what may be said next. And we need to depend on our president for truth. That is really important.

JOHN DICKERSON: And in the final 30 seconds, what do you want to see in the next F.B.I. director?

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: What I want to see in the next F.B.I. director is a law enforcement program. I have recommended to the president, Mr. McMcabe. I find him strong. I find him a good leader. I find him with the experience that's necessary. And this is a law enforcement agency separate from the political branch. And so we'll see what happens.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Senator Feinstein, thanks so much—

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: --for being with us. And we'll be back in one minute.