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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  February 13, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm PST

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breaking news tonight, nbc news news tonight. nbc news has confirmed donald trump's advisor lieutenant general michael flynn has resigned. the news comes four days after general flynn may have discussed easing sanctions against russia before he spoke to the ambassador before trump was inaugurated. we learned from two trump senior source he the justice department had informed the white house late last month that it believed general flynn could be subject to blackmail by the russian government. in a statement released tonight general flynn said, quote, unfortunately because of the fast pace of events i inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with the incomplete -- with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the russian ambassador. i have sincerely apologized to the president and the
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vice-president and they have accepted my apology. throughout my over 33 years of honorable military service and my tenure as the national security advisor, i have always performed my duties with the utmost of integrity and hahn at this so those i have served to include the president of the united states. i am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the american people in such a distinguished way, unquote. retired army general keith kellogg, a top policy advisor for trump's presidential campaign has been appointed as actling national security advisor the white house said in a stam. nbc news has confirmed with the senior administration official that the list of permanent replacements for the national security advisor are general keith kellogg, general david petraeus, and vice admiral robert harward. sts a stunning development from hours earlier when white house counselor kellyanne conway told msnbc that president trump had complete confidence in general flynn. >> general flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the
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president. >> by saying he enjoys the full confidence of the president are you saying you're satisfied he did not have those conversations, he did not mislead the vice-president? >> those are two different questions you asked me and i'll repeat the answer. does he have the full confidence of the president, yes, he does. then you asked me what does he talk about with people when i wasn't on the phone. the only way to answer that is to tell you what he said which is that he can't recall. >> we're joined now on the phone by nbc white house correspondent kristen welker. thank you for staying up late with us. a couple questions i think are begged here by the news tonight and i'll start with where we ended in that clip, kellyanne conway. misinformed, out of the loop, or did she misinform us? >> well, i think the developments were so fast moving and they were agonizing, joy, according to our andrea mitchell. this was a tough decision. remember, mike flynn was one of president trump's initial supporters and one of the people who he looked to first when he
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started looking to a national security advisor. and, so, i have been talking to my sources throughout the night who say that he didn't want to get to this point, but ultimately the pressure just became too great. not necessarily because they thought that michael flynn was compromised by the russians, but more so because the information that was piling up against him just became too much of a distraction. and, so, i think that's part of why you had these different messages coming out of the white house throughout the day. just to reset the stage, we started our day with a press conference between the president and the prime minister of canada when reporters tried to shout questions to the president about whether or not he still had confidence in his national security advisor. he ignored those questions. he ignored them again late tonight when he swore in his new treasury secretary steve mnuchin, when the vice-president did. so, ultimately i think this was a decision he was mulling, that
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mike flynn was mulling. i am told that the two did speak this evening. the white house not giving a whole lot of details about what was said, but again, joy, this was one of his first supporters really out on the campaign trail and now as you point out, the person who will be the acting national security advisor, general keith kellogg, of that list that you just read i'm told the front runner of that list is vice admiral bob harward. he is someone who served under general james mattis. and general jim cramer mattis is someone the president has a high regard for for quite sometime. he is a former navy seal. he is one to watch as the president makes this tough decision moving forward. just to put this into a broader context, joy, in term of how big of a shake up this is for this white house, remember, he's dealing with a number of national security crises really. everything from recent
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provocations with iran to that recent missile test by north korea, which he commented on to some extent today. so, this comes i think at a tough time. and the fact that he is losing this key position certainly significant. but, joy, as you point out, there are still a lot of questions. given that, nbc news has confirmed that the acting a.g. informed the trump white house late last month when she thought michael flynn was potentially subject to blackmail. the question becomes why now, why did the white house wait to long to make this decision. we'll ask sean spicer. he'll have his daily briefing. >> that should be an interesting daily briefing. i want to go back to a point you made, kristen. the decision was agonizing not because of the ties to russia. that strikes me as odd because of what you just said, that the acting attorney general reportedly informed the white house that other people such as dni, then dni james clapper informed the white house that
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there was a potential that michael flynn was compromised. i want to go back really quickly with you because in the resignation letter written by michael flynn, he makes the point he inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others. he never says he misinformed the president of the united states. my question is, did the president of the united states know that michael flynn was having conversations with the russian ambassador about easing sanctions? because i think that's the key question here, what did the president know and when did he know it. >> i think you're absolutely right about that. that's a question that the white house hasn't yet answered. but there is a sense that he misled the vice-president and there by, other top officials as well and the vice-president spoke out on his behalf, sean spicer spoke out on his behalf and dispute that had initial reporting that he had spoken to the russian ambassador and then, of course, ultimately that statement turned out not to be
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accurate. so, i think that the time line is incredibly important. not only in term of when the president learned about the revelations you're talking about, joy, but also what conversations went on within the white house given that the acting attorney general who was, by the way, we should -- by the president for not upholding his travel ban. but after that information was relayed to the white house, was it brought to the attention of the president and how many other top officials around him were made aware of that. and those are some of the questions that we're trying to drill down on that right now there aren't clear answers. >> yep. >> there are still some mixed messaging going on at this hour as they try to deal with this fall out. >> kristen welker, nbc white house correspondent, appreciate it. >> thanks, joy. uh. joining us on the phone is ken delaney nbc reporter. ken, i want to stay on that point because the question of what the president knew about what his soon-to-be at that
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point national security advisor was going 0 discuss with the russian ambassador is really important because donald trump has never had a problem contradicting his own aides, contradicting his own advisors when they say something with which he disagrees. you never, to my knowledge, had donald trump contradict, you know, what michael flynn did regarding talking with the russian ambassador. do you have any reporting that donald trump was displeased that michael flynn talked about easing sanctions? >> no, joy, we don't. and i think you're hitting on a key question here. there's two. one is did donald trump know, did he have consultations with his national security advisor during the time flynn was speaking to the russian envoy about these sanctions? and then secondly, once the a.g., acting attorney general sally yates went to the trump administration and said, hey, we have these concerns that he could be blackmailed because he's told a different story to the vice-president. why didn't president feel compelled to correct the record
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at that time? that was a couple weeks ago as far as we know. so, these are some open questions i think are going to be pursued with vigor over the next couple of days here. >> and, ken, the other issue is that michael flynn, who we know has been looked at in term of his relationship to the russians, and this going back even during the campaign. this is somebody who was on the payroll of r.t. which is the government propaganda arm cable vision network in russia. the fact that he was at that dinner, now infamous dinner sitting at vladimir putin's table and participating in that standing ovation. didn't donald trump have to pull some strings to make sure he could get a security clearance at all to be national security advisor? and i ask that to say, isn't the real story here donald trump's own ties to russia, his own proclivities because he's the one who moved mountains to get michael flynn in as nsa? >> well, that is certainly a story line that we have been pursuing at nbc news and the media has been pursuing because,
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you know, as everybody knows, donald trump has not found it in his heart to say a negative word about vladimir putin during the campaign or since he's been president, despite a lot of trying by journalists. and it's a puzzle and it's a mystery. and, you know, i think mike flynn, you know, had a world view about this and i think it's somewhat explicable. he decided that radical islam and islamic extremists was more of uh danger to the united states than the russian adversary armed with nuclear weapons. that's not a view that's widely held in the foreign policy community, but it is a view mike flynn holds and other members of the trump administration holds and he was willing to broach, you know, some kind of agreement with russia over cooperating on counter terrorism and against isis. a lot of experts don't see much hope in having any great effect. that was his idea. and, you know, he found himself
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at that dinner at r.t., sitting next to vladimir putin and he later was asked about it and said that was one of the reasons he went, to try to forge a new relationship with russia. but there are just a host of questions about that. i mean, in the intelligence report about the russian hacking into the election, u.s. intelligence community branded r.t. as an arm of russian propaganda. but when flynn was asked about r.t. he equate it had to msnbc and cnn. >> yeah. >> just a lot of questions about his judgment. >> absolutely. and, you know, we do have reporting out tonight that donald trump talked with shinzo abe, the prime minister of japan about improving relation with russia. so, he himself has made those kind of comments as well. do you get the sense from your reporting that the national security establishment where a lot of these leaks seem to be coming from is finished here with these kinds of revelations, or do you see this as an ongoing effort to root out what they see
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as a dangerous element that they simply cannot trust within the administration? >> well, nbc news and other organizations have reported that there is an ongoing counter intelligence inquiry and there certainly is senate and house intelligence committee investigations into the russian hacking and influence operation, also looking at whether members of the trump campaign had improper contacts with russia. so, this is certainly a subject that is going to be pursued for months to come. >> absolutely. ken delaney, national security reporter, thank you very much. really appreciate it. >> thanks. >> thank you. joining us now is former republican congressman david jolly from florida. it is notable speaking with democratic sources of my own tonight, democrats don't seem to be in a mood to take their foot off the gas after this resignation. what's been conspicuous is the silence of republicans. we have not had any republicans, even notable folks like john mccain and lindsey graham who are known to be opposed to this idea of approaching with russia
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join the call with democrats, like adam schiff, for flynn's resignation. now that he's gone will we see johnny come latelies now that he's stepped away? >> sure. i think the hesitation is this is a national security moment, right. this rises a bit above politics and it poses several questions for us as americans, for republicans, for democrats. you know, first, look, is this president trump's first presidential moment? we have been waiting for him to kind of take leadership, take reigns, bring some stability. was this his decision? it must have been, or was it bannon's or was it pence's? this had to go to the top, right? is this a presidential moment for trump that he moves now into a greater chief executive role? secondly -- >> do you see any evidence that donald trump had anything to do with this? the reporting we're get forgive nbc news is the white house wanted very much to hang onto michael flynn, not for nothing, but donald trump shares michael flynn's affinity for russia. there's been no reporting that
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i've seen that they have any, you know, any daylight between them on this issue. do you have any information that says that donald trump is the one who pushed michael flynn because of a disagreement with what he did? because i don't see that reporting. >> no, but flynn was hand picked and i doubt that anybody other than the president himself could give the green light to let flynn go. the second question, though, is what did trump know and when did he know it which has been asked before. look, the call happened in december. there's been a transcript. he was warned flynn might be compromised in january. how slow was he on making the decision making? third question is who's next to go? look, one of the thing we learned tonight is kellyanne conway is clearly not as in the loop as she proffered to be when just hours ago she said that the president had full confidence in flynn. so, there's a lot of questions that journalists are going to dig into and frankly there's a lot more to this story. >> we finally had our first republican come out and express happiness that this has
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happened. bill flores of texas has tweeted out, glad michael flynn is gone from white house, we need more sanction on russia, not fewer. you know, there wasn't, as i said, a lot of, you know, sort of courage against partisan ship before this happened. >> sure. >> but would you be surprised if now republicans feel constrained to actually investigate this white house and to look more fully into the potential that there are more people in the white house that have affinities at least or ties to russia? >> sure, here's the opportunity for the white house and frankly for president trump himself. for the first 30 days of this administration, we have seen the white house political team, flynn, conway, priebus, bannon, those that he has surrounded himself in the oval office with. but he -- >> i mean members of congress. i actually mean members of congress because congress has been -- they've been the one who have one silent. they are supposed to be the check and balance on this white house. so far -- >> you're right. >> we've heard some talk about not being happen which his move toward russia but there hasn't been a single republican for michael flynn to step down.
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it was only democrats. >> right. and to that point, if trump pivots and says i have cabinet secretaries, i have mattis, i have tillerson, let's let them take the lead, then i think it gives congress room to continue to support this president. but if he fails to do so, at some point congress is no longer going to support the political team that supports this president. and that is tha has been the fault of these first 30 days. it has been the weak hand of leadership coming out of the white house. listen, there is great talent in the cabinets. there is general mattis. there is general kelly. there is tillerson. put them out front and give republicans in congress the ability to express confidence in the administration. they don't have it right now, and tonight's a reflection of that. >> all right. former congressman david jolly, thank you very much for your time. thank you for staying up. >> you got t. >> joining us on the phone is kounlter terrorism expert and intelligence officer malcolm nance. malcolm, i'm going to start with
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you before we bring in jolly. whether this is the beginning or the end of a narrative on the trump administration in russia. >> oh, this is going to be the beginning of a very, very long arc that will probably lead to very much more uncomfortable things occurring inside the trump administration. as you know, when i wrote my book, "plot to hack america," general flynn figured very highly inside the administration as being a leading advocate for this with russia. it was based on essentially siding with vladimir putin on everything and realigning the united states into an axis of christianity. he wrote about it in his own book. when counter intelligence began
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with page, man a for the, roger stone, at some point flynn's affinity and admiration of russia came up as well. the kislyak telephone calls in december are just a good example of a man who believes more deeply in ideology, quite honestly, than the loyalty to his own nation. when he sat down next to vladimir putin at the russia today tenth anniversary dinner, he just did not understand that to russia and anyone within the sphere of influence of russia, that he appeared to be a russian asset seated at the right hand of vladimir putin. even though he didn't say a word to him. and, so, that just probably led the fbi investigators to ensure that anything general flynn did in that period after the election, certainly, that he was deeply investigated. >> now, i want to bring in --
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stay with us. i want to bring in the former intelligence operative and author of how to catch a russian spy. david, you just heard malcolm mention some of the other names, carter page, paul man a fort, people who have also been discussed in terms of this broader affinity between the trump administration and the russians. tell us where you foresee this going from here in terms of michael flynn being out of the government, but the investigation i presume continues. >> absolutely, and there is another name that's a blast from the past we haven't heard, but it's that of edward lee howard. howard was a cia officer who was fired and because he was fired found his way to the soviets. in fact, defected. i think when it comes to general flynn, i'll go one step further here than malcolm. i think the general flynn once he was fired by president obama was very bitter. couldn't find work in the beltway, retired generals tend to get picked up for big bucks,
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working as defense contractor. could not find work, and was an easy mark for the russians who really launched a campaign to essentially try to sweetheart him. and that's why he ended up in russia sitting across the table from putin. i mean the optics will there are very clear. on one level you're fired by the american president, but the russian president welcomes you in. as malcolm said the ideology russia being an ally in the fight against isis was developed. i think what tipped off the fbi and what started this for general flynn was, in fact, the more pedestrian security clearance questionnaire he submitted which raised question and eventually found its way to the d.o.j. i think that was probably the proverbial, you know, thing that just kicked this whole thing going and the white house refused to sort of deal with it. eventually made its way to the d.o.j. for clarification and someone had a problem with it. something that may have been on
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there. >> sounds like sally yates, the justice department official now opposed the travel ban reopens the question why she was fired. malcolm, back to you quickly on this. the question now of what the president knew and when he knew it, how can be determined when donald trump controls the department of justice and the other levers of government that would ostensibly be investigating that question? >> well, we've discussed this many times on msnbc. >> about a year. i thought we've been talking about it forever. >> yeah. what did donald trump know? when did he know it? was he complicit? at this point any cover up is a crime. there absolutely positively cannot be any interference with the white house. it will become story, number one, and if anyone inside the administration thinks they can manage the situation, we are talking about not just the
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contacts with the russian president. there's no way michael flynn spoke to the russian ambassador on a day that we were kicking out 35 spies without authorization from donald trump to discuss the lifting of sanctions. trump has been pushing the lifting of sanctions as far back as july 2016. so, you know, this may be flynn thinking he's falling on his sword right now. but, you know, caesar is in a city that's burning and falling on your sword is not going to help anything. it's only going to bring to light the question, you know, why exactly are you falling on your sword? who are you covering up by falling on one's sword? so, we shall see, but this investigation is only going to get deeper. the rabbit hole is wide. and it's going to lead [ inaudible ]. >> absolutely indeed. thank you very much. more on the breaking news coming
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call today. comcast business. built for business. are they fighting here? whatever it is... it's hunting. the great wall. rated pg-13. on the fourth monday of this still new presidency, this new presidency has claimed its first victim, michael flynn, former u.s. army three-star general, intelligence specialist most of his adult life who became the national security advisor to the president. he is now the former national security advisor. a dust-up, a ruckus over russia
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has done him in. interestingly, some have already observed tonight this leaves him vulnerable should senators mccain and graham, to name two on the republican side of the u.s. senate, senate foreign relations, should they have some questions for him now that he is no longer an employee of the west wing, there is no executive privilege that would bar him, i don't believe, from raising his right hand and swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to direct questions on the hill. perhaps some national security matters would be heard in executive session in closed session, but this will get interesting, but we're getting ahead of ourselves a bit. his resignation just happened around the 11:00 hour on the east coast, about 90 minutes ago ago. andrea mitchell was our
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journalist for nbc news who confirmed the story. andrea read for us his letter of resignation when it was tendered. andrea, not to be gross about it, but is it mostly boilerplate? is there any word choice in there that caught your eye? >> well, inadvertent, unfortunately he said he writes because of the pace of events. i inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the russian ambassador. i have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice-president and they have cepted my apology. he goes oto talk about his honorable military service and, in fact, he had a stellar career as an aide to general mccrystal. he was very well regarded until he was promoted ironically by general clapper to be the head of defense intelligence agency. and by all reports, once he took over that job, he changed from the man that they had known in
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the field who had done so much in combat duty and had been a really star intelligence officer. i do want to hasten to add that it was kristen welker who first broke this story. i happened to be in preparing for this broadcast. so, i was the beneficiary of her brilliant reporting and also our colleagues pete alexander and lindseyer, the whole team,ally jackson contributing to this effort tonight. so i don't by any means want to take credit. i contributed my own bit, but it was a team effort. >> all right, andrea mitchell making her first rep tri rookie outing. wishing her well. inadvertent, it is an unusual word. i am no competition for webster, but it has a connotation of something blurted or accidentally revealed. >> exactly. >> maybe incorrectly briefed, maybe incomplete.
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i don't know. >> but, i mean, you're absolutely right, brian, because the fact is he didn't misspeak. it wasn't inadvertent. he told the vice-president, the chief of staff i believe as well, sean spicer who is briefing the press which means briefing the nation and the world, that the only thing discussed in that phone call, the only issues discussed in that phone call was christmas, a condoleance call, setting up an appointment for a telephone call, and a future meeting potentially between the presidentnd vladimir putin. the fact that he left out sanctions is just remarkable. and according to all of our reporting, the transcript of that call indicates that one of those calls -- and there were many calls, several, and texts as well -- that one of those
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calls on december 29th the day the sanctions were announced was solely focusing on sanctions. that is not something one forgets. and i cannot imagine he did not brief somebody in the white house about the substance of that call. the other thing is his relationship with ambassador kislyak. it and elsewhere around the world. they met in 2013. they had a pretty close relationship. we know he was in moscow in 2015 at the gala with vladimir putin so michael flynn was pursuing his avout interest in having a better relationship with russia which is well and good, but he certainly was much too close to the flame. >> andrea, back to those two names, and i will let you go an prepare for what's going to be another day of reporting tomorrow. and that is john mccain and lindsey graham. i mentioned them both. i mentioned them together intentionally. they are both confounded by this new kind of talk about russia
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and putin. and they both wake up every day angered by it at a very deep basic level. what are they,you imagine, going to have to say about this? because to them, just like with a lot of journalists, this story started tonight, the meter starts running on this story tonight. >> absolutely. and there's no love lost, of course, between john mccain, lindsey graham and donald trump. and so at this moment, they may choose their shots carefully because i think they want to work in this white house on the foreign policy issues. they are gravely concerned. they've said publicly. you know very well how they feel about some of the issues and some of the approaches that the administration has taken on foreign policy. so at a time when you've got benjamin netanyahu arriving, when you've got the munich security conference this weekend with all of the players, pence and the national security adviser was supposed to be
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there, but also defense secretary mattis, there's a meeting in bond that the secretary of state is going, his first foreign trip, he's leaving on wednesday morning. for the g-20. so there are meetings in germany, interestingly, with all of the international group just this week. so, and generally john mccain does go to the munich security conference, i'm pretty sure he would be going this time as well. so there's going to be an effort to try to right this ship. i'm not sure how aggressive they're going to be at least in public. i don't know that they're going to want to do a lot of i told you sos. i am told that a number of other republican senators are also in this boat. we've heard from rand paul. i believe that foreign relations chairman corker has not been happy about a lot of this and so you've got a growing group of republicans who are going to align with some democratic critics, as long as the
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democrats pick their shots and a lot of this is going to be investigated. there are already two investigations, senate and house intelligence led by republicans and led by republicans who did not brush this under the carpet when the administration thought they would. >> andrea mitchell in our washington bureau. a long day's journey into night. andrea, thank you so much for your reporting. let's bring in indira lakshmanan, columnist for the "boston globe." tonight, you've spoken to some veterans, veterans of this business specifically tonight. what have you found? >> that's right. in the last hour, brian, i've spoken to former national security officials for both the obama and george w. bush administration. what they said to me is that it really strange credulity donald trump, himself, would not have been aware of the content of
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michael flynn's calls with the russian ambassador. given this was all happening at the time president obama was imposing sanctions on russia for russia's conduct during the american election in favor, by the way, of course, as we now know, of donald trump, you know, just look at chronology. december 29th, the sanctions were imposed. december 30th, vladimir putin comes out and says even though all these diplomats have been expelled, we're not going to take retaliatory action as he would have been expected to take, and donald trump immediately tweets out he's very smart, i've always said he was very smart. it's really hard to say both republican and democratic former national security officials who've worked in the white house said to me that donald trump would not have known about the content of michael flynn's call. and one thing you talked a lot with andrea about the wording of that resignation letter. one thing that i thought was
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striking about the wording was nowhere in it does he say that he misled the president about the content of his call. and i thought that was an interesting omission. and i think that it's sort of going to leave it very much in the lap of democrats and republicans alike in congress to have to look into this. i mean, there's been talk all along about what kind of investigation needs to be done. you know, you made this great point about saying that tonight the meter started running tonight on this. brian, i would argue that the meter started running on this during the election as soon as the u.s. intelligence agency said actually russia intervened in the election, the meter started running way back then. i wrote a column january 6th titled "what did the president know about russian hacking and when did he know it?" i think it's kind of long overdue for there to be an investigation to find out what was known. >> indira, the first person i heard use that phrase tonight was a veteran republican. we're reminded, of course, howard baker was a republican
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asking it about a fellow republican. then-president richard nixon. you've got people, indira, all over this country walking around saying the things people say like it seems like the fix was in. why all this new talk about why are we supposed to like russia and vladimir putin? people have found it strange. people who don't live and breathe politics like you and i do, and just are pursuing their lives. people are going to find it really strange that this talk now takes on more urgency and more currency starting tomorrow. people asking real questions of this new president along the lines of what did donald trump know and when did he know it? >> it's been bizarre all along, though, brian. i mean, i would say the media has been writing about it since 2016. all through the campaign. we knew and wrote about michael flynn's ties to r.t. about the money he was getting paid. about the fact that he was seated at the same table as vladimir putin at this dinner.
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about the speaking fees he took, et cetera. so, you know, a lot of this was known. i mean, what has really caught him up here was the fact that he apparently was not truthful with the vice president. this is what has caught him up. and he had to take the fall. now the question is, how is it possible that the president, himself, did not know about that? and, you know, will this eventually make its way back to the president? and this is where i've had both, as i said, republican and democratic former white house national security officials say to me, sort of tuttingly, they think it's eventually going to track its way back particularly when you had former cia director john brennan, former dni, you know, you had john brennan, you have sally yates, you had all of them coming together and saying we've got to tell the white house about this. you know, they wanted to talk to donald trump, themselves, about it before the end of the obama administration. >> our friend indira lakshmanan, thank you for being part of our
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coverage tonight. >> thanks, brian. >> i'm sure we'll talk to you more as this thing develops. now to a journalist who probably gets most of the credit for the story we have been covering all evening tonight. adam entes of the "washington post" is with us by telephone. adam, i've seen no fewer than three interviews with you earlier this evening as you were describing this story, you posted this evening for the "washington post." one aspect i'd like to walk back for our view e that is how was the now former national security adviser, general flynn, said to be vulnerable to blackmail? >> well, basically what happened here is he had a conversation with ambassador kislyak of the russian federation and at the end of the conversation being picked up obviously by the fbi that had a wiretap on kislyak and picking up flynn incidentally.
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at the end of that, kislyak went back to moscow, sent them a cable, sent them, you know, whatever, an e-mail, which was picked up by the nsa in which he basically notified moscow about his talks with flynn. so basically moscow knew that the conversation with flynn was about the sanctions or included in the discussion about the sanctions. this is what the intelligence community thought. so when vice president-elect pence and other administration officials appear on television and make these public statements saying that had spoken to flynn and categorically said the sanctions issue was not discussed, for people like john brennan, cia director at the time, james clapper, the dni, the director of national intelligence at the time, and sally yates who was deputy attorney general at the time, they knew this was basically --
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that the russians thought they maybe had something on flynn. by going to the white house, trump white house which is what they wanted to do but which comey initially did not want them to do, the fbi director, they were hoping to basically defuse the ability of the russians to use this leverage. >> adam, knowing there is a transcript out there, probably several, in someone's hands tonight, knowing that we have already seen leakers weaponized, the likes of which i don't think you and i have ever seen, how -- how do you go about reporting the what did donald trump know and when did he know it question? >> i don't know, i mean, that's a very good question. i don't know the answer to that.
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you know, certainly one would think that as national security adviser, he had permission from trump before he took the call and placed the call to kislyak and had some -- certainly after the fact would have provided a readout of the call to others. that would be suspected of somebody in his role, whether that happened in this case, i don't know, and i'm not sure that that information is available. you know, this is obviously going to be the subject of ongoing investigations, both senate investigators and potentially the fbi, themselves, which, you know, the white house had learned at the same time they found out about what yates conveyed to them, the fbi was looking at these communications and this relationship. so i think, you know, it's too early to say where this goes. >> and one more question that our viewers might have, hearing you talk about intercepts that caught up a friendly, in this
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case, our own guy, explain to the viewers how commonplace that is in this line of work. >> yeah. i mean, you know, for somebody like kislyak, a career ambassador, they would know that their communications are being monitored by the fbi. just like our ambassadors in russia know that their communications are being monitored. their houses may be bugged. they may be followed every time they leave the embassy. it's the same thing for kislyak. he knows this. flynn is a career intelligence officer. he's been reading these intelligence reports for much of his career which is, you know, mystifying for some officials as to why he didn't think of that when he had conversation and then later mischaracterized or allegedly mischaracterized what he discussed with ambassador kislyak to pence and others.
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he knows this very well. for the viewers to understand what's going on here, the fbi with a court order, fisa warrant, is monitoring the ambassador. they're not monitoring flynn unless they had a fisa, a warrant to monitor flynn's communications which we have no information to suggest was the case. and so this is something that is going on every day. it's -- there are constant agents of the fbi who are listening to these kislyak communications with everybody and collection is the communications of a u.s. person who's not subject to the warrant that gets accidentally sucked up as part of that collection. and when that information is circulated around the government, it's called minimization. they won't use the name of the person in the intelligence report, it will just say, for example, in this case, probably something like transition official number one or something along those lines.
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and so, you know, that is done in order to protect the privacy of flynn in this case, but for senior intelligence officials, for the fbi agents, they can see who it is in many cases. they can identify who it is and often from the context of the conversation, you can tell who it is, for example, kislyak may describe flynn as the incoming national security adviser. and so it's pretty clear who he's talking to. >> adam entous who played such a huge role in breaking what became this big story we're covering tonight. really, as part of what is becoming a great era for, of all things, the newspaper reporting business at both the "washington post" and their rivals, "the new york times." adam, my thanks to you. we realize it's very late at night on a big day for you. with another big day awaiting tomorrow. we'll take another break in our coverage tonight. when we come back, someone who
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knows the man who resigned from office 24 days into his new job and leaves a vacancy now in the trump white house west wing. that's when our coverage continues. when you have allergies, it can seem like triggers pop up everywhere. luckily there's powerful, 24-hour, non-drowsy claritin. it provides relief of symptoms that can be triggered by over 200 different allergens. live claritin clear. ♪ king arthur: ready! washington: charge! empress wu: charge! (in chinese) king arthur: charge!
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we're back as we cover this still breaking news. the resignation just tonight of u.s. army retired three-star general, michael flynn who was serving in a highly visible position for the new president.
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he was national security adviser which in past presidencies in the modern era has really been the first pair of official eyes presidents wake up and see and the first person they hear from, especially in the post-9/11 era in america. and we're joined by a friend of ours and frequent guest of ours who knows the general well. retired four-star u.s. army general, barry mccaffrey, gave 32 years of service to his country. wounded multiple times. decorated multiple times. here's a hint, he doesn't scare easily. he's a member of the u.s. army rangers hall of fame. general mccaffrey, i remember once you said to me on our broadcast that general flynn was the best intelligence officer of his generation but you also had a lot of criticism about his methods serving donald trump. how do you greet this news
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tonight? >> well, i think it's the right move to get him out of public office. something went badly wrong. in the years of counterterrorism operations in iraq and afghanistan, he and general mcchrystal who were the most lethal combination imaginable, and, you know, flynn was just really good at his work, but that whole notion that the republican national convention was so inappropriate for a military officer and then finally, brian, remember the tweeting of the pedophile ring. >> yeah. >> a basement -- at that time on nbc i characterized that conduct as demented on the part of general flynn. he got back to me and i counsel him about handling his anger and think about governing, but that was a real signal something was sadly wrong with him personally. now, the other aspect of this story that i've been listening
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with fascination at some of the reporting, it is not believable to me that the national security counselor with multiple phone calls to the russian ambassador wasn't back-briefing the president at least with a wink and a nod. at the time, i don't think as a transition team they even thought they were doing anything wrong. in a logan act, come on, nobody's ever been prosecuted, 200 years. so i would assume that the president had known about these conducts and the scope of the conversation. more to follow, as you say. now that he's out of office, the senate can subpoena him, get sworn testimony and ask him what was going on. >> and he potentially has a really interesting story to tell, especially when it's john mccain doing the asking. >> well, no question, and, you know, vice president pence may well have been told a falsehood. you know, again, having watched
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the weasels work in washington on multiple administrations, i would have assumed that that was a deniability factor, where they said, well, we'll put the vice president out there dealing with this news headline, it will go away and that's what was going on. this is very dangerous business. you know, there's a lot of comment on mr. abe and the president at mar-a-lago and the inappropriate conversation. presidents travel, as you know, overseas with a couple of thousand people domestically with several hundred. normally the national security adviser security personnel, you know, classified communications capability, very bizarre. this white house is not even remotely functioning yet as it should. >> yes, we noted as did
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reporters who were along, the wedge salad was served and cleared and made way for the first course all of which was accompanied by this scurry over a missile launch in north korea. general barry mccaffrey who i neglected to point out in his years as drug czar for the united states gave him just enough experience in washington to appreciate a proper use of the word, weasels. general, thank you. it's always a pleasure. what something tell me we'll be talking to you more in the next 24 to 48 hours. ali velshi, mike duhame remain with us in the studio. closing thought after the night that was, this breaking news story, i guess we should have felt coming all day, all night. >> had this not happened, we would have been talking about adam entous' story in the "washington post," somewhere between january 23rd and january 31st when she was fired, sally yates, the acting attorney general along with other law enforcement intelligence leaders went to the white house general counsel and told them flynn had
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been talking to the russians and could be compromised as a result. by january 31st at least the white house general counsel knew and i think the chances of the white house general counsel not having told the president or vice president are about as good as me growing a full head of hair by morning. i think this is where our story has to go. >> first of all, never going to count him out, anyway. mike, you're a loyal republican, yes. this means one of the takeaways from tonight was so if nothing had come up, if this story had never appeared in the "washington post," were you just going to not tell anyone ever? >> i think it's a great question. i think we have to see right now what type of leader the president is and what type of people he has around him. this is a crisis. there are a lot of questions to be answered as well as running a government, filling a lot of positions and a lot of other things that can't all be put on the back burner. in many ways it's an opportunity for them to show the type of leader he wants people to believe that he is and we'll find out. i think we'll all watch and see what happens. >> while they have enjoyed a longer life span than some job categories like the gunner at
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combat in world war ii, national security advisers to the president have an average tenure, i'm told, of 963 days in office. michael flynn's tenure was 24 days. and will be much talked about as we go through this new week. as i said earlier this evening, looking at the scope and scale of this russia story, russia aspect of our entire presidential campaign, by one way of looking at it because of the gravity of this story, this resignation tonight in ways the questions will just now be starting. and, again, for those just joining us as the time zones stretch to the west, michael flynn, three-star u.s. army retired general, has left, has resigned. the first major name to depart this brand new presidency 24 days into the trump presidency.
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there's been an acting director named. we'll learn more about a permanent director as the hours and days go on. our coverage goes on. whether it's connecting one of the world's most innovative campuses. or bringing wifi to 65,000 fans. businesses count on communication, and communication counts on centurylink.
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michael flynn accused of not telling the vice president about his contacts with russia. now we're warned he could be a target for blackmail. the question already being asked tonight what did the president know and when did he know it? and how many people in the trump white house have known about it the whole time? also how a threat with north korea played out between courses as diners looked on at the leaders of the u.s. and japan right there in the restaurant of the mar-a-lago. "the 11th hour" begins now. good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york as we start yet another new week. mondays are difficult around here because there is so much each weekend to get our arms around, and this just the fourth mof