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tv   At This Hour With Kate Bolduan  CNN  February 14, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PST

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conducted. appreciate the time. >> fascinating. thank you for being with us. quite a morning. lots of news. it will continue right after this. i'm poppy harlow. >> i'm john berman. "at this hour with kate balduan" starts now. hello. i'm kate balduan. we are watching talks. national security adviser michael flynn is out after reports the justice department had warned the trump administration weeks ago that flynn not only misled the white house about discussing u.s. sanctions with the russian ambassador before trump took office, but that he was now vulnerable to potential blackmail by the russians. house speaker ryan weighed in moments ago. >> national security is perhaps the most important function or responsibility a president has. and i think the president made the right decision to ask for
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his resignation. you cannot have a national security adviser misleading the president. i believe it was the right thing to do. >> as for president trump, he took to twitter suggesting that the problem wasn't flynn at all but rather this. i'll read it to you. the real story here, he writes is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of washington. there are clearly many sides of this story to get to right now. cnn's sara marurray n dana bash are standing by. you just heard from paul ryan, sara. paul ryan saying that it was the right thing to do for the president to ask for michael flynn's resignation. do we know that to be true? >> we don't know that for sure. the white house has essentially been saying that flynn offered to resign and president trump accepted that resignation. so we're asking for additional clarification. i think what is clear and what has been clear over the last few days is that the president had
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lost confidence in general flynn. and it wasn't necessarily so much about the fact that he may have had this conversation about russian sanctions, but the sentiment that he misled the vice president and misled administration officials. n that was the kind of thing that president trump could not tolerate. we've been hearing over the weekend he'd been expressing frustration about general flynn. so whether he asked flynn to resign, whether flynn offered up that resignation, i think it was clear they were not on comfortable footing at the start of this week. >> and the last time that we heard from the president was on friday about this. and at that point, he didn't know about the story, he said. >> that is what he said. listen to how he responded to reporters who were asking about this story as it was really blowing up on friday. >>. >> what do you make of reports that general flynn had conversations with the russians about sanctions before you were sworn in? >> i don't know about it. i haven't seen it. what report is that?
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>> reporting that he talked to the ambassador to russia before you were inaugurated about sanctions. >> i haven't seen that. i'll look at that. >> now you may have been seeing a little bit of deflection on the part of the president as they were still deciding what to do with general flynn. they wrestled about this over the weekend and even yesterday when we ran into president trump in the hallway. he did not want to talk about general flynn. he made a statement, look at the statement. this was before flynn's resignation. and again, this gets back to the point that it's not necessarily that flynn had discussions about the russian sanctions that's what had this white house up in arms and so uneasy but the notion that flynn would feel comfortable potentially misrepresenting those conversations to the vice president. >> as kellyanne conway put it, the situation became unsustainable, what was unsustainable about it is part of the lingering question. sara, thank you. a key part of all of this is the justice department. sally yates, the then acting attorney general alerted the
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white house about what they had learned about michael flynn. that is the very same sally yates recently fired for refusing to defend the president's travel ban. the big question remains, what did president trump know and when did he know it about michael flynn and the contact with russia? dana bash is joining me now with much more on this. are you get anything more clarity on the timeline here? >> not on this keyqution. and it is one that we are going to have to drill down on because it will reveal some important information. and what i'm talking about is, as you mentioned, the acting attorney general at the end of january calling the white house counsel, don mcgann, and saying this is what we believed to have happened. that your national security adviser talked to the russian ambassador, talked about sanctions and they even believed he was in danger of being blackmailed by the russians. what we do not know is what the white house counsel did with
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that information. did he tell the white house chief of staff? did he tell the president of the united states. did he tell the national security adviser? that is a very important unanswered question because if he did tell them, then that means from the top on down, they've been sitting on this information for a long time while the national security adviser has been doing his job, been in the most sensitive of feeting inmeetings and discuss with the president, even though he clearly misled the president and the vice president. if the white house counsel didn't tell anybody, why? so in either case, it is something that is unclear and it really leaves even more questions than answers. and it is certainly something i'd imagine that the white house press secretary is going to get asked about and probably it's hard to imagine is not being discussed as we speak inside the white house as they try to
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contain and deal with the fallout and what could be just another example of deep, deep communications issues inside the white house. or an example of the president just wanting to stay loyal to somebody who has been loyal to him. we don't know the answer to that yet. >> dana, thank you so much. with me, republican senator from south carolina, lindsey graham. a senior member of the senate armed services committee. senator, a very busy day. thank you for coming in. >> thank you. >> your reaction to the resignation of michael flynn? >> well, i guess the first thing want to say about general flynn is i served with him in afghanistan. he's been in uniform most of his adult life, and i think he's a terrific military officer. served our country well. but apparently got to the point of where the vice president believed that general flynn misled him about a conversation with the russians which led to
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his demise as national security adviser. really what i want to know, i haven't seen the transcripts. what did general flynn say to the russian ambassador about lifting sanctions? did he say anything at all or is this just being spun by the media. congress needs to be informed what actually general flynn said to the russian ambassador about lifting sanctions, and i want to know, did general flynn do this by himself or was he directed by somebody to do it? >> and that is an important question. do you believe at this point, senator, that flynn misled the white house or was he authorized to talk sanctions with russia before president trump took office? >> i'd have a hard time believing that general flynn would get on the phone with an ambassador and say, don't worry, we'll revisit this when we get to be president in terms of executive sanctions without some understanding that the administration would be simp thetsic to the idea. i may be wrong. maybe he did this in a rogue fashion. maybe general flynn went rogue,
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but that's -- >> you know him. do you think he could have? >> i don't know. he's a pretty strong-willed fellow. but i think most americans have a right to know whether this was a general flynn rogue maneuver or was he basically speaking for somebody else in the white house? >> well, and that's an important point because we're hearing reaction from capitol hill right now from some of your colleagues on the house side. we heard from jason chaffetz who thinks the situation is now in the past. we heard from the chairman of the house intel committee who thinks that some of what you need to know, want to know isn't knowable because that may be protected under executive powers. do you think that's the case, or do you think you have the right to know? >> that's a good question. i don't know exactly how much congress can compel the white house to talk about communications between the national security adviser and a foreign government. but we do have allegations now coming from the media that the
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department of justice informed the white house that the national security adviser may be subject to blackmail by the russians. i think that's something congress has a right to know. so i don't know where this is going to go but i would suggest the administration answer a few basic questions like did general flynn do this by himself? if he didn't, who directed him to engage the russians because that in and of itself is, you know, not going to -- maybe is not that important. but the idea that we don't know how this happened and that maybe general flynn somehow was compromised by the russians, i think we need to know that, quite frankly. >> you are trying to investigate russia. you're trying. you're pushing an investigation into the russian hacks into the election. we know marco rubio could even before flynn resigned say his kfrgsss with the russian ambassador should be part any of investigation. do you want to hear from flynn? are you going to ask him to testify? >> i don't know if we'll ask him to testify, but the first thing
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i want to know is what were the conversations about? i'm having to comment on things i have no direct knowledge of. so if there are transcripts of communications between general flynn and the russian ambassador about waiving sanctions, that's something i want to know about because i do think that's something that congress should be informed of. >> kellyanne conway this morning said what brought flynn down was his lying to the vp, not the actual contents of his conversation with russia. what's the bigger crime here? >> at the end of the day, talking to russia by the national security adviser is generally a privileged communication. i don't -- >> however, this was before -- >> right. >> -- he had the job. before this was his job to do so. >> yeah, the widea of one president at a time makes a lot of sense. i could imagine if the shoe were on the other foot if the obama administration were reaching out to iraq or iran to change bush policy before they got in office, we'd be all pretty
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upset. >> to say the least. >> and i think rightfully so. i'm not accusing general flynn of committing a violation of the logan act. maybe it doesn't apply to people in transition who are going to take over duties. the fact you talk with russia before you get in office, that alone doesn't bother me. but we've got a situation where a man had toive up his job. thcongress is very intent on not waiving current sanctions. we'd like to impose new sanctions nepidea that maybe the national security adviser was somehow compromised by the russians is certainly within my wheelhouse as to what i want to know about because i want to know wat russia is up to in terms of the united states political system. how they tried to compromise this last election. what kind of contacts they had with any campaigns if anything, and if somebody in the administration is likely to be blackmailed, that's something i'd like to know about. >> you now, senator -- >> and there may be nothing to
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it. >> but you still have a lot of questions that have not been answered. >> if the shoe were on the other foot we'd want to know the answers to this question. did general flynn act alone? >> you now have if you look at the recent history. two top aides to donald trump -- michael flynn and paul manafort before him -- who resigned over their ties to russia. and republican senator roy blunt is calling for an exhaustive investigation into trump's personal ties with russia. do you trust this president when it comes to russirussia? >> our differences are well known. what i like about this president that he hasn't been trying to hide some secret plan with russia. he has a different view of re-engaging putin than i do. that's an honest disagreement. he's president of the united states. i think we should punish more russia more, not less. i think russia is trying to -- >> do you think donald trump
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feels the same way? >> no, i'm confident he doesn't. and that's not a crime. that doesn't disqualify him to be president of the united states. we can have different views about foreign policy. the one thing we can't do is allow a foreign government to interfere with electoral process without being punished, have a foreign government potentially compromise somebody in the administration without them paying a price and congress not knowing about it. that's different than a policy dispute. >> senator, do you think now, after all of this fallout, do you think it now makes it impossible for president trump to even talk of lifting sanctions againstruss? >> i don't know. here what i do know. i would fight to my last ounce of breath here to prevent this administration or any other administration from lifting sanctions against russia for their invasion of the ukraine and the seizing of the crimea and all the other things they have done since then to include
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interfering in our own election. i don't think they change the outcome but tried to interfere in our election. they've never been punished for that behavior. the current sanctions having in to do with what they tried to do in the 2016 election. they deserve to be punished because if you don't punish russia, you are screaming weakness to putin. iran and china could do the very same thing in 2020 if they get mad at trump. it's important that both parties come together here in a bipartisan fashion to punish russia for trying to interfere in our elections. and if general flynn was contacting he russian ambassador about lifting sanctions imposed by president obama before they took office, i want to know why he made that phone call. did he do it by himself or was he directed by somebody else because it does run afoul of the one president at a time policy. >> one quick clarification. when roy blount wants an investigation, is that now part of the investigation that you
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will be conducting into russian contacts? >> i don't have any evidence that the president has exhausted contacts with raasussia. i'm focusod what they're doing in our election and trying to undercut democracy -- >> does this undercut your investigation now, this news? >> what we need to know is the contacts between general flynn and russia before they took office. and whether or not there was any information the russians had that could have compromised him because that goes to the ability of any administration to operate. >> the last time we heard from michael flynn publicly, he put iran on notice. he is now gone. what does that mean for u.s. policy toward iran? what should it mean in your view? >> the three people named to replace general flynn as potential candidates the media are all excellent in different ways. general petraeus is one of the smartest people. but admiral harward. he was in charge of detainee operations. i did my reserve duty under his command. he'd be an outstanding choice.
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he understands the region very well. he speaks farsi. the idea we'd put iran on notice is a good thing. i supported general flynn when he made that statement. and we need to tell iran if you continue to develop ballistic missiles you'll pay a heavy price and get sanctioned again and keep all options on the table. what i'd like to see the president is get a better deal. i'd suggest the arabs and iranians have the same ability to produce peaceful nuclear power that we help the arabs build nuclear power plants and the iranians build nuclear power plants but we, the russians, the chinese and the united states control the fuel cycle so nobody over there can turn fuel into a bomb. to me, that's a better deal for the whole world. and i hope they'll look at that. >> senator lindsey graham, we'll put you in the category of, we have a lot of unanswered questions now after the resignation of michael flynn. you'll be asking them. thank you for your time. appreciate it. just in, donald trump, president trump speaking at the white house alongside his new
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education secretary betsy devos. we have new tape in. let's listen to it together. >> so easy. it doesn't get any easier than that. >> absolutely not. >> well, i'm delighted to welcome everybody to the white house, and betsy devos who has gone through our new education secretary. she went through a -- an interesting moment. you'll do a fantastic job. i know you would have done it again if you had to do it again. >> probably. >> she had no doubt that final night waiting for the vote. i just want to congratulate you. you showed toughness and genius. as i said, we want every child in america to have the opportunity to climb the ladder to success. i want every child also to have a safe community, and we're going to do that very much. we're going to be helping you a lot. a great school and some day to get a really well-paying job. or better.
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or better. owning their own company. a lot of people are looking at that. it all begins with education. that's why we're here this morning. and i am here also to celebrate a little bit with betsy because we started this journey a long time ago having to do with choice and so many other things with education and i'm so happy that that all worked out. rightnow, too many of our children don't have the opportunity to get that education that we all talk about. millions of poor disadvantaged students are trapped in failing schools and this crisis, and it really is a crisis of education and communities working together, but not working out. and we're going to change it around. especially for the african-american communities. it's been very, very tough and unfair. and i know that's a priority and certainly a priority of mine. that's why i want every single disadvantaged child in america, no matters what their background
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or where they live to have a choice about where they go to school. and it's worked out so well in some communities where it's been properly run and properly done. n it's a terrific thing. charter schools in particular have demonstrated amazing gains and results, and you look at the results. we have cases in new york city that have been amazing in providing education to disadvantaged children. and the success of so many different schools that i can name throughout the country that i got to see during the campaign. i went to one in las vegas. it was the most unbelievable thing you have ever seen. and they've done a fantastic job. so there are many such schools. we want to do that on a large-scale basis. we can never lose sight of the connection between education and jobs. i'm bringing a lot of jobs back. we're bringing a lot of big plants back into the country. every said it was impossible. and before i even took office, we started the process.
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and tremendous numbers of plants are coming back into this country. car plants and other plants. and i have meetings next week with four or five different companies. big ones that are going to bring massive numbers of jobs back. so we're doing it from a job standpoint but education only makes it better. our goal is a clear and very safe community. great schools and we want those jobs that are high-paying jobs. we've lost a lot of our best jobs to other countries. and we're going to bring them back. so i'm going to do my job and betsy at the education level will do her job and just to do it very, very formally. i want to congratulate you on having gone through a very tough trial. n a very unfair trial and you won. and something very nice about that. and i'll tell you, the real winner will be the children. i guess a couple of adults, but
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will be the children of this country. i just want to congratulate you. >> thank you, mr. president. >> perhaps we'll go around the room and everybody knows our fantastic vice president. and mike pence. but if we went around the room, that would be very nice. why don't we start. betsy, you might want to say a few words. >> mr. president, mr. vice president, i am just very honored to have the opportunity to serve america's students. and i'm really excited to be here today with parents and educators representing traditional public schools, charter public schools, home schools, private schools, a range of choices. and we're eager to listen and learn from you your ideas for how we can ensure all of our kids have an equal opportunity for a high quality, great education and, therefore, an opportunity for the future. so, again, i'm just honored to have the opportunity to serve and looking forward to fulfilling the mission that you
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have set forward. >> president trump right there at the white house speak with, sit with his now new education secretary betsy devos after what clearly was a grueling confirmation process in getting her in place there at the white house for the first time together. coming up for us -- the man who until a month ago was deputy national security adviser, of course, under president obama. what is his take on how this all went down with michael flynn? that's next. plus, another one of president trump's cabinet picks in serious jeopardy. key republican support may be fading away for andy puzder. hear why oprah, his ex-wife and a videotape are now involved. just days after north korea launched its first test from the trump administration, cnn is live in north korea. we'll have that ahead. wireless. introducing t-mobile one. now with taxes and fees included. get 4 lines of unlimited lte data for 40 bucks each. all unlimited. all in! switch to t-mobile today.
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back to our breaking news. the resignation of president trump's national security adviser michael flynn. joining me to discuss is the deputy national security adviser under president obama. tony blanken is a global affairs analyst. a lot to get to. >> indeed. >> we started this conversation last week. now there's a lot more to it. kellyanne conway just this morning saying that the real crime in their view was flynn
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lying to the vice president about the call with russian diplomat. not the contents of the call itself. what do you think is the bigger problem here? >> the main thing is, kate, we have a lot of unanswered questions. i heard senator graham a few minutes ago. he's exactly right. we don't know, for example, whether there were conversations between mr. flynn and the russians during the election period. that is before the election itself. that needs to be looked at. it's unclear whether mr. flynn was acting on his own volition as a free agent or instructed to have these conversations with the russians. that needs to be looked at. it's hard to understand why having been given this information that mr. flynn apparently misled his own team. they sat on it for three or four weeks apparently before firing him. and it's -- you have to wonder had this not come to light in "the washington post" whether mr. flynn would stillon the job. there are lots of questions that
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remain unanswered here. going back to your question, were the conversations themselves inappropriate? we have this tradition of one president at a time. and the conversation mr. flynn had with the russian ambassador seemed to suggest to the russian ambassador, never find the sanctions that president obama has just imposed on you for meddling in our elections. we'll take care of it when we take office in january. that's right on the line if it's as reported. >> let me ask you this, tony. did president obama's national security adviser, any of them, have any conversations with foreign diplomats without the president's knowledge? my point is this? is it possible that trump did not know about it? >> look, it strikes me as unlikely, improbable, not impossible. you wouldn't necessarily report on every single conversation, but, you know, usually in the obama white house, we had a daily meeting with the president. and certainly the national
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security adviser, the deputy had been talking to the russian ambassador or any senior official from an important country, that would probably come up. >> your former colleague ben rhodes wrote a little about this on twitter. he wrote this on twitter today. when campaign chairman, paul manafort, nsa, national security adviser, both resign over russia ties there is more. manafort and flynn had nothing in common except russia and trump. there is more. tony, do you agree with that? >> it really goes back to, at least delving into these unanswered questions. whether there's more there remains to be seen. but as senator graham said, congress should be looking at this. i certainly urge the white house to put everything that it knows out. get in front of it. we see this every time in washington. what really turns into a problem is when you sit on information that's going to come out anyway. so if there's more, they should put it out. and let's get to the bottom of it. but the larger question really
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is, again, were there conversations going back before the election? and was the president involved in this or not? >> one thing that came oup capitol hill in response to this is the house intel chairman suggested that conversations between flynn and the president -- how the president directed flynn if he did at all, could be covered and protected under executive privilege. would you agree with that? >> it's a close call. there certainly would be probably an assertion of privilege of some kind. on the other hand, you have an active investigation, apparently, by the justice department, by the fbi. congress is going to want to know about that at the appropriate time. i've heard members on the hill today asking for detailed briefings from justice, from fbi and that should happen. there's something else, too, here, kate, which is that what happens next is important. the nsc, the nsc staff, is one of the most important things we
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have in government. this is really the hub of our national security and our foreign policy. and leaving aside this incident, there are also significant reports of nsc staff at the white house. professionals who are dedicating their lives and careers to this. >> what do you think this incident does to the nsc staff? >> there are lots of reports suggesting that the staff was already demoralized because there was no communication. it wasn't being listened to. it wasn't being looped in. i hope very much the next national security adviser takes a different approach. and in particular, most of the staff on the nsc, they are career professionals who are sent over to the white house from other agencies. they check their politics at the situation room door. and so bringing politics into it, is a bad thing. one of the things the next national security adviser should insist on is that he or she does not report to and through mr. bannon. it's totally inappropriate to have a political figure in the
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white house be the person to whom the national security adviser and the national security staff reports. that apparently is what was going on up until now. >> not entirely clear on that one. again, a lot of questions on the order of operation there. can i ask you real quick since you aren't in the business of giving advice to this administration, but do you have a favorite between the namss that are out there in the public right now of who should be the next national security adviser? david petraeus being one, bob harward being the other? >> well, i know both of them. they are both extremely competent, serious, accomplished professionals. i think either would be a very strong choice. but that may be, you know, quarters they don't want it from. >> keep your comments to yourself then. you just ruined their chances with that. thanks. for years, republicans hammered hillary clinton over her e-mails saying she threatened national security with the way she handled her
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private server. of course, that was a huge part of the election. is the shoe now on the other foot? we'll debate it. plus, just days before a make or break hearing on capitol hill, the president's pick for labor secretary is facing new opposition. an old episode of "oprah winfrey." what is this all about? that's coming up next. to make b. roc® retinol, started visibly reducing my fine lines and wrinkles in one week. and the longer i use it, the better it works. retinol correxion® from roc. methods, not miracles.™ won't replace the full value of your totaled new car. thno, i pied the wronginsuran. wrong insurance plan. with liberty mutual new car replacement™, you won't have to worry about replacing your car because you'll get the full value back including depreciation. and if you have more than one liberty mutual policy, you qualify for a multi-policy discount, saving you money on your car and home coverage. call for a free quote today. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance.
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we are also following breaking news from capitol hill. a lot of breaking news from washington. the senate just voted to approve the president's pick as the new head of the small business administration, former world wrestling entertainment executive linda mcmahon. she sailed through the confirmation process, facing very little resistance.
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can't say the same for the pick for labor secretary. fast food executive andy puzder's nomination is in serious trouble because four republican senators are currently withholding their support. manu raju is looking into all of this right now. manu, where i teal trouble for puzder? >> it's in his past. there are a lot of things he -- his views, ideologically, don't align with a lot of folks on the left. not expecting many democrats to support him. on the -- but there's some liabilities that have emerged during this vetting process that have given some republicans pause. notably his hiring of an undocumented immigrant as a household employee, later paying back taxes on this -- on his employee after acknowledging having hired this person to work for him. but also going through a rather messy divorce back in the 1980s. and at that time, his ex-wife leveled some pretty harsh
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domestic abuse allegations against him. now she has since withdrawn those allegations and now supports him as a nominee. but she also appeared in that -- during that time in disguise on the "oprah winfrey" show to discuss what happened to her during that time. now that tape of the oprah winfrey show is not public but the oprah winfrey show executives have allowed senators to view this in private to look into exactly what happened during that time. i just spoke to senator patty murray of washington, a democratic senator. she said she's troubled by what she saw on that tape. this is the ex-wife said that she regrets going there to the oprah winfrey show saying she was just looking for a free trip to chicago. but expect all this to come up at thursday's rather contentuous confirmation hearing. >> if he's going to lose republicans, for whatever reason, he needs to pick up democrats to push his nomination over the line. that's why it's in trouble.
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a lot to listen for at that hearing on thursday. but also, manu, if i could, you just caught up with senator john mccain. what is his reaction? what is he saying about michael flynn's resignation? >> he's acting sharply. namely about the issue of russia. mccain has been a sharp critic of the way the trump administration has handled russia believing they should take a firmer line on this country. do you think there should be an investigation into this? he says there should be a bipartisan select committee looking into the allegations as well as michael flynn, his involvement there. th's not what republica leaders want but what john mccain wants, kate. >> he hasted wan that all along. i wonder if this changes that dynamic of pushing mitch mcconnell any closer to wanting to have an independent committee. i'm guessing no, but who knows. manu thank you so much. so michael flynn resigns his post, and hillary clinton is weighing in. details on that ahead. just days after north korea
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element. hillary clinton is now weighing in about this key trump adviser, his resignation, michael flynn. a key trump adviser one of her chief critics during the campaign and also remember this element of this long story. michael flynn's son, he helped fan the flames of fake news back in the campaign by pushing the baseless pizza gate conspiracy story against clinton last year. that leads us to this. hillary clinton today retweetded
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this one from one of her former top advisers. suggesting the flynns apply for work in the pizza industry n clinton said felipe's got his own way of saying things but he has a point about the real consequences of fake news. let's discuss right now with senior political commentator, rick santorum, also democratic strategist paul begala. gentlemen, let's start here. senator, was it the cover-up or the crime here when it comes to michael flynn, in your opinion? >> i'm not sure there is a crime. from what i've -- >> in a matter of speaking. >> i think there's really no crime from what i've heard, but the fact of the matter is there is obviously some problem with communication with general flynn and the vice president and that's a violation and breach of trust and that's the problem here. and general flynn played a very big price for that. >> that's for sure. we're looking at the story, paul, the justice department
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briefed the white house three weeks ago. what was the last straw then? >> that should have been the last straw. apparently this is all according to news reports. apparently three weeks ago, the white house was briefed that the national security adviser in the opinion of the justice department and the intelligence community, was subject to blackmail. so for three weeks, this man who they believe is subject to blackmail was involved in the most serious sensitive national security issues. that's a big problem. and it goes back to last night my old colleague david gergen from the clinton white house, the reagan white house, the nixon white house. >> the lincoln white house. >> he went back, i think, to miller fillmore gergens reminded us of the question of watergate. what did the president know n when did he know it? my counsel to democrats and republicans. focus on the organ grinder not the monkey. we come and go, staffers. the president is the issue here.
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he has ties to russia. separate and apart from general flynn. if you'll fire general flynn for his ties to russia and lies about them, donald trump has ties to russia. >> unclear about that. >> he plainly has ties. >> but what you're suggesting is the ties that have been talked about would be in his tax returns and going down that line. we're not going to go there -- >> he is president in part because the russians meddled in our election. the biggest story of this presidency will be russia. this will never end. >> put aside some of what -- >> yeah, couldn't disagree more. >> may i ask you this, though, coming from a republican senator you've known for a long time. lindsey graham was on the show. and he has along the lines of what david gergen has posed out there. he said this clearly. while he's waiting to learn more, lindsey graham wants to know this. did general flynn do this by himself, or was he directed by somebody to do it? that's a real question right now
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from senator graham. >> i would say that what general flynn did, we don't know specifically what he did but certainly the trump administration's attitude toward russia was very different than that of the obama administration. i'm sure that was reflected in the call. no matter what. the idea of blackmail -- blackmail means that he was subject to coercion on the part of the russians, probably because he said things that, quote, others didn't know about. the fact of the matter is, obviously, others did know about it. they probably didn't see this as as big a problem as maybe the justice department did. so just because the justice department says, well, it's a potential for blackmail means that the administration or the lawyers looking at it, they were the people talking to general flynn or others felt the same way. so i think we're presupposing ideas or opinions or facts. in fact, they may not be facts. so let's really --
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>> really? but coming from the white house. coming from kellyanne conway today, it was that the problem that they had is that michael flynn misled the vice president. >> and that's why they may not have been as concerned as the potential for blackmail or a lot of things that have been put out there as fact. they might have looked at that and said, no, we're not concerned at all because we may know this now. at the time general flynn briefed the vice president, which was january 15th, they may not have known that. subsequently they did, and they may have looked at it differently. >> paul, a lot of democrats are saying this is the tip of the iceberg. do you leave open the possibility that general flynn could have just been freelancing here? >> yes. your interview with lindsey graham was really, really important. folks at the white house watched that very closely, i'm sure. i don't know general flynn. general graham does. he said he is a strong-willed guy. it's not inconceivable, but
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highly unblielikely as another national security advisor from the democratic base said. russia was a key issue in the campaign. hillary in the debates accused trump of being a putin puppet. this was a major flash pok. this is not a minorcountry. i can imagine the incoming national security advisor having a conversation with ambassador botswana, but these are five phone calls on the day that the sanctions were placed. hard for me to imagine that donald trump didn't know and approve, but maybe he didn't. we need to get to the bottom of it. what did the president know, and when did he know it? >> who is going to be tasked with getting to the bottom of it i think is a very big question right now. lindsey graham would like to be in charge of that, and so would john mccain. those are two names i'll throw out there. senator, great to see you. thank you, paul. great to see you as well. thank you both so much. >> coming up for me, he is gunning for the top job in the democratic party, and his message, though, for his colleagues who he is trying to win over, grow up. what a candidate says his party
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just doesn't get about the average american. details on that ahead. plus, a short time from now sean spicer, the white house press secretary, will be holding a white house press briefing where he is sure to face more questions about what the president knew and when about michael flynn and his contact with russia. sean spicer, prepping for maybe a tough go of it in just a couple of hours. we'll be right back.
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fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. who's next?
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members of the democratic national committee can considering who should leave the party out of the political wilderness. six candidates are vying for the post. the new hampshire state chair of the democratic party ray buckley is one of them. he had a rather blunt message for his democratic friends, the very same friends he is trying to win over. we do not offer a positive message to anyone i'm reeld to.
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what with he do is we said how offensive, grow up. that's not the -- that's not reality for most of america. ray buckley is joining me right now. you are trying to win over democrats to support you as dnc chair, and you just told them to grow up. why? >> because i'm actually more interested in winning elections. my candidacy for dnc chair is irrelevant. we failed to address the nominating process, to make sure that people believed that it was a fair and open process. our dnc itself, lack of transparency and accountability, and the fact that the same parties have been left to wither at the vine. if we continued the 56 strategy that governor dean had put, we would have won wisconsin, we would have won those other states. i know that because in new hampshire we continued the program without the funding, and we were able to win in new hampshire, which is a 50-50 state. we were very successful. first time in history. the entire congressional delegation is democratic.
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>> tell us, why areou the best? >> i was elected countychair. i've been aty chair here in new hampshire where we have won 11 out of the last 13 statewide races and elected more democrats than ever before in a ten-year period in new hampshire's history. i've been president of the state chair's association for the last eight years, and offer to serve the dnc. i actually know where we're broke and what we have to do to fix. they're great spokespersons, but i'm the nults and bolts guy. i can do the job. >> i think they would disagree with that, mr. buckley. they would -- keith ellison would say he has been fighting for democrats, he has been fighting for average americans as a member much congress for a very long time. >> well, and i have nothing to criticize. either the secretary or the congressman about. i just sought for a different
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experience, a proven record of actually leading a party, being involved in the party and the structure and, frankly, my frustration is that a lot of the folks in washington simply don't get it anymore. whether it's the -- or the folks that didn't understand the economic fear and disparity that is going on out there. people really cared about their families and they were very nervous about it, and we didn't offer them anything. >> very quickly, you say democrats are too focused on insulting or fighting back against donald trump as a strategy. what's the opposite right here? hold the fire? >> i think that we need to offer clear and alternative plans. in reality hillary clinton's economic plan was much better for the working class in america than donald trump's, but the problem is not her plans, it was whoever decided that the mail program that was sent to the targeted states and the
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millions -- hundreds of millions on television were all about repeating donald trump's swearing. well, when you are worried about your home, you're worried about feeding your family, you are worried about their future a president that swierz doesn't come into the equation. >> good luck in your candidacy. we'll talk to you soon. thank you for joining us also at this hour. inside politics with john king starts right now. thanks, kate. welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thanks for sharing your day with us. the national security advisor resigns and acknowledges he misled the vice president and others about his contacts with russia. >> you're presuming what general flynn did or did not know, but the key here -- and i want to repeat it, the key here is the misleading of the vice president and others. the incomplete information or the inability to completely recall


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