Thursday during the 9 p.m. ET hour of CNN’s “AC 360,” network national correspondent Gary Tuchman hosted a panel voters from Ohio, where Trump won last November and got their reaction to the day’s earlier proceedings of former FBI Director James Comey testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Despite the negative press coverage aimed at Trump reacting to the testimony, the support seemed to remain for Trump.
Transcript as follows:
TUCHMAN: Anderson, Butler County Ohio, north of Cincinnati has been very kind to Republican presidential candidates over the years. Since 2000, the Republican candidates won each time, including in 2016 with Donald Trump with 61 percent of the vote.
And with us right now are nine Trump voters here in Fairfield, Ohio at Ricks Tavern & Grille. And the reason we’re here is we watch the hearing on big screen T.V. this morning, and you all came back to talk to me tonight. Thank you for coming back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You’re welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You’re welcome.
TUCHMAN: The first thing I want to ask you, it is a crime when you testify before Congress to lie. That is perjury. You can go to prison for it.
[21:35:07] Raise your hand if you believe James Comey lied at all. Four of you believe he lied.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yup.
TUCHMAN: Raise your hand — he says that Donald Trump “told lies plain and simple.” Raise your hand if you believe Donald Trump has lied at all about the situation? None of you believe that.
For those of you who did not raise your hands, if neither person lied, how can that be possible? They tell different things. Who didn’t raise their hand? Why do you think if nobody lied, how can that have happened?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, first of all, things can be distorted and appeared like lies, and I think maybe the media might have distorted some things and —
TUCHMAN: The media?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: — not getting both sides.
TUCHMAN: You raise your hand. Do you think Mr. Comey should go to jail?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that — my impression of Comey at the beginning of this was that he was kind of L.A.-ness (ph) kind of guy, the way he went out at Martha Stewart. But as — especially with his testimony today, he is more like an inflaming where he wants to be the next novelist. A lot of things that he came up with seemed like he’s more inclined to fiction.
TUCHMAN: One of the things he testified about, he said he was in the room with President Trump. President Trump told attorney general and his son-in-law to get out. And he says President Trump said he hoped he could let it go, regarding the Flynn investigation. My question for you, a lot of people are arguing hope, that means he didn’t order him. But if your superior, your boss or when you’re little if your parents say, they hope you do something, isn’t that imperative that you do it or is that necessarily not an imperative?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He’s been manipulated by the Clintons, too, when Lynch told him to overlook the meeting with —
TUCHMAN: Let me say, though, Hillary Clinton right now is not president. I’m talking about the situation. So, when he is told, Comey from that —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: — what he says.
TUCHMAN: So you don’t think that Comey is telling the truth about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right?
TUCHMAN: What do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Mr. Comey should have said something at that time.
TUCHMAN: Should have said something to who, to Mr. Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At Mr. Trump.
TUCHMAN: What should he said to Mr. Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I cannot do that. I have to go on with investigations, et cetera. And —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, be honest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to do it. And he did not do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was never asked why I didn’t think he was being truthful. But I believe he didn’t adequately explain why couldn’t just tell Trump that this is inappropriate, or tell the chief of staff or DOJ to tell Trump. He continued on with that and couldn’t adequately explain that. Its like — you know, I feel the whole thing was wrapped around this one.
TUCHMAN: Mr. Comey says he believes he was fired because of the Russian investigation. Interestingly, Donald Trump has said, “I fired him because of Russia.” Is there a problem with that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don’t have a problem.
TUCHMAN: Why is there no problem with that? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t have a problem with that. First of all, Mr. Trump represents the United States of America. President Trump is our president and sets a standard for everything. And when he asked —
TUCHMAN: But when you say he had commented many times according to the testimony that he liked the job that Mr. Comey was doing, then all of the sudden he’s fired him because he didn’t like —
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think he tried to be uplifting and encouraging to your “employees.” But also he set Mr. Comey several opportunities to be forthright and honest with him, forthcoming with some answers that Mr. Comey kind of drop the ball on that.
TUCHMAN: And let me ask you this before we go. I think you may know the answer to this, a show of hands, how many of you feel better about Donald Trump, your president, after this hearing? How many of you feel worse about Donald Trump? I guess you all raised your hands at first time. So you think that was a success for Donald Trump and not for Mr. Comey?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
TUCHMAN: Nine Ohio voters on a historical day here in the United States of American. Anderson, back to you.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor