tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC February 14, 2017 11:30pm-12:01am PST
don't believe the biased and phony media quoting people who work for my campaign. the only quote that matters is a quote from me. there's so much more but so little time. that does it for this edition of our broadcast. "hardball" begins right now. how deep does this go? let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews. today nbc reported that president trump failed to tell vice president mike pence that despite all the white house denials, national security adviser mike flynn did, in fact, speak with the russian ambassador about those sanctions that obama slapped on russia for interfering with our elections. for two weeks the vice president thought he was right when he told the country that flynn
never discussed sanctions with the russian envoy. the vp only learned the truth, by the way, five days ago. all which raises the question, what were trump and flynn talking about all this time? before flynn called the russians, after he called the russians and ever since? was trump in cahoots with flynn? or was flynn out there with these good relations with vladimir putin all by myself? explaining why flynn was fired, spicer told the white house about his conversations with the ambassador. he also said he did nothing to break the constitution. >> flynn informed the white house counsel that they wanted to give, quote, some heads up to us about some comments that may have seemed in conflict that he had sent the vice president in particular. the white house counsel informed the president immediately, the president asked him to conduct a review of whether there was a
legal situation there. that was immediately determined that there wasn't. that is what the president believed at the time from what he had been told, and he was proved to be correct. the issue, pure and simple, came down to a matter of trust. >> that is not a problem that general flynn discussed sanctions with russia? >> no. i can't state it clearly enough. there was nothing in what general flynn did in terms of conducting himself that was an issue. what it came down to, plain and simple, was him misleading the vice president and others and not having a firm grasp of his recollection of that. >> flynn's conversation with the russian ambassador took place december 29, the same day the obama administration unveiled new sanctions against russia for messing with our elections. that conversation was first made public in mid-january with washington columnist david igna cious. president trump and sean spicer denied conversations ever took place in that regard. >> it is not the end of the story, it is merely the beginning. there needs to be an independent and transparent investigation, because the white house knew for weeks that general flynn misled the vice president. and that is discussion about sanctions with the russian government could potentially compromise our national security
because he was subject to blackmail. >> well, meanwhile, the "new york times" reported today that fbi agents interviewed michael flynn last month after his conversation with the russian ambassador. i'm joined right now with national bureau chief susan page, glen thrush and the "washington post" columnist who broke the story. let's go to hallie jackson for the update on that. hallie, what grabs us, it's almost like the show "veep" with julia louis-dreyfus. how can he put out the story that there were no conversations between michael flynn, the
national security adviser, and the russian ambaador when the president knew and never told the vice president about the conversation? >> right, and that was the idea, that vice president mike pence was apparently unaware that these inconsistencies existed. i wanted to share information with you that i'm getting in the last couple minutes here from a white house official. excuse me for being out of breath from running from the west wing and looking at my ipad here, but the vice president and mike flynn spoke on friday about all of this. it was the day after the "washington post" story came out, it was the day after, now that we've learned off the record, that the vice president learned about this through media reports, likely that "washington post" report that came out thursday night. and the day after, mike flynn modified his story, if you will.
essentially tapped on that sentence, you know, in addition to saying he didn't believe he talked about election-related sanctions, but saying i could be misremembering. but i'm paraphrasing. i might have said something, i'm not really sure. i asked about the attitude currently of mike flynn. sort of in the idea of is this somebody who is going to come t and maeak publicly against the president? i'm told as of today, ateast, he seemed rather upbeat, rather stoic about this. you may have seemed yesterday morning there was an interview that came out with "the daily caller" which was an outlet founded by fox news tucker carlson in which flynn vigorously defended himself, said he had the confidence of the president, that he crossed no lines in that conversation with the russian ambassador, and was particularly perturbed about leaks coming from inside the white house. i am told that at that point, flynn felt the ambiguity around his status had been lifted, which is interesting given that
not 12 hours later, we were already hearing that the president was evaluating flynn's position and then, of course, the ultimate resignation. chris? >> thanks so much, hallie jackson from the white house for that scoop. let me go back to david. he put the dates together january 26 when the white house counsel was informed there was a conversation about sanctions between flynn and the russian ambassador. then you put together the list last friday. that's a hell of a differential in time, that's 14 days or so. is there any explanation of why the white house never told the vp what's going on and let him go out there and tell the wrong story? >> no, and sean spicer said in the little clip that you showed that this is about a matter of trust. i think there is a reasonable question, especially for mike pence, whether he was trusted by president trump. president trump withheld from him the same information that we've been upset, we've been writing about mike flynn having withheld from him.
he allowed pence out there advancing a narrative that we now know to be false. the president similarly allowed mike pence to be in that same situation. increasingly, chris, as i look at this, i have the feeling that president trump intended to try to ride this out until it became public, thanks to the reporting of the "washington post" last thursday night. >> i want to go to glen on this, because if you look -- if there is any moral justice in the world, we don't expect a whole lot in politics, at least not immediate justice, pence should fire trump for the same thing trump fired flynn. you didn't give me the information, you held out on it. >> for having to go on the defensive with donald trump, i think that's what he signed up for. there was a lot of anger on his staff, and i think some of that came through to him. i don't think mike pence is expressing his anger to donald trump, i think mike pence was expressing his anger to flynn,
and the way i heard it over the last couple days is that even after this was proven, flynn still wouldn't give him a full apology. flynn was just saying this could have been a mistake in my recollection, and i think that's what pushed pence. and we should say pence is a remarkably slow man to anger, as we have seen. >> no, he's calm. >> that is really what pushed him. i think that, in addition to the headline that came out yesterday about the fbi investigation, i think trump -- your reporting is absolutely right. i think trump was totally willing to wait this out. he was in no rush to get rid of flynn. in fact, the main reason he didn't want to get rid of flynn is it looks bad getting rid of your national security adviser three weeks into the game, not because of any special loyalty. but once these headlines started piling up, he had pence on his back, i think that made it all inevitable. >> you write the front page stories for usa today. is the big story here that flynn blew it, he didn't tell the truth?
or is the big story there is a murkiness between our relations between trump and putin. we put sanctions on him for messing with the elections. there was a conversation we know of between trump a guy flynn and putin's guy the ambassador about how things are going to be nice. we can all figure that out. it's a possibility that trump's people were in cahoots at some point with putin when putin decided to put his thumb on the scale. that's the big scandal, if there is one, in the whole piece we'll get in the history books, that there was collusion at some level, passable at least, between the trump people and the guy helping him win the election over in moscow. to me that's the big story, or it's not? >> the fact is, general flynn doesn't matter. what matters is the president. and why has he had this attitude through the campaign and his
president to have this remarkable deference to russia? i would say i think the cause and effect is the reverse in terms of leaks. i think the fact that the president wasn't going to act prompted people to be willing to leak. now he's mad at the leaks because it forced him to act, but that's going to be the avenue of his presidency. the chairman of the oversight chairman committee says there is no need to investigate flynn and his russian ties. how long can the republicans hold the line on that one? tonight cracks are starting to form. this is "hardball," where the action is.
i'd like to know, did he just do this as a rogue general flynn that he just decided to call the russians up one day and say, you know, we're going to have a different view on sanctions, don't worry about it, or did it come from somebody else in the white house? >> that's exactly my question for senator grande. who set him up?
that was senator lindsey graham asking some of the same unanswered questions looming today in the wake of general flynn's resignation. he was pushed to resign as national security adviser. the fbi are inquiring potential contacts between trump aides and officials. there are also investigations under way in the congress. roy blount, a republican, told a radio station today that trump should be questioned by the intelligence committee as soon as possible. here's blunt. >> the senate intelligence committee is looking at this. i would think we should talk to general flynn very soon and that should answer a lot of questions. what did he know? what did he do? and is there any reason to believe that anybody knew that and didn't take the kind of action they should have taken? >> well, members of both parties, republicans and democrats, clearly want answers.
chuck schumer went further and called on law enforcement and the justice department to conduct an independent investigation. senator clair mccatskill is here. the big question is the question that lindsey graham raised, which is does anyone think mike flynn went out there and established this cordial relationship with the russian government, where he's talking about sanctions and anything else on the phone without any lead from the new president? get on the phone and talk this guy. it just seems to me that putin's guy talking to trump's guy would both be on a leash of some kind. they wouldn't just be having this get-together across the line there between two countries. your thoughts? >> well, and as a former prosecutor, that brings up so many other questions. how many times had general flynn talked to people in russia during the campaign?
what, if anything, happened when he was in russia in 2015? what kind of contacts were there? surely it wasn't a coincidence that the leaked material from podesta's e-mails came out two hours after the tapes started being played about what trump said on that bus about grabbing women. all of this has to be looked at, and the public has a right to see it. and the double standard, chris, that is going on right now is stunning. keep in mind that jason chaffetz, the chairman of the oversight committee, issued seven subpoenas after the head of the fbi announced there was no criminal activity involved with hillary clinton's e-mail server. that was after, he still issued 70 subpoenas. so the notion that there is no subpoenas, there are no public hearings going on, there are not these questions being asked and certainly the answers aren't being provided in a public forum demands that we have a select
committee that looks at all of this and lets the public make up their mind as to whether or not this administration can be trusted. >> well, let me ask you the question lindsey graham raised, the senator from south carolina again. it's a question on everybody's head. if you put all these dots together, from the beginning we know it's an established fact that the russians, putin, helped defeat hillary clinton. we know it from leaking all that stuff out of the dnc. they didn't leak it out of the rnc, just the dnc. we all know, because of that established fact, not fake facts or alternative facts, not fake news, reality. the last administration under president obama went out and put some sanctions, they sent some people home, they were probably spooks to begin with, but they sent them home to moscow. this is all fact. and it's also a fact now that mike flynn was on the phone with the russian ambassador talking about sanctions, and i guess also talking about the new administration and their reaction to those sanctions, whether they would lift them or not. do we have enough evidence here already as fact that there has been an interesting
relationship, intriguing, mysterious, maybe illegal relationship between this new administration and the russians? do we have enough to go with an investigation now? >> absolutely. and keep in mind that in december, there was a bipartisan call for a select committee that could look at this. because as you know, chris, in the senate every committee as jurisdiction but no committee as jurisdiction over all of this. that's why select committees are formed so we can look at the cia and the fbi and the military all in one setting. well, mitch mcconnell and paul ryan said, no, let's do it in the intelligence committees. what do the intelligence committees mean? it means this is all not done in public. and i think there was an effort to try to tamp this down, look the other way, and that's what's really a problem here. i don't know what all the facts are at this point and i want the truth to come out, but for these repuicans who spent days and days and millions and millions of dollars over repeated hearings around hillary clinton's e-mail server -- >> they all wanted them
publicized, they didn't want to do anything in private. >> that's exactly right. that's why i think it's really important we apply the same standard. people in america are sick of this rabid partnership. if it's one party it gets investigated, if it's the other party we look the other way. let's do this aboveboard, by the book, and have the investigation that can reassure -- i think the trump administration ought to welcome it because how are they going to govern with this cloud over them until all of this gets cleared up. >> we have senators from the purple state of missouri so we can actually hear something reasonable. before his tenure, michael flynn was an outspoken critic of hillary clinton. he called her reckless and careless and -- well, watch this. watch this quote about "lock her up." he led the cheers. >> we do not need a reckless president who believes she is above the law.
>> lock her up! lock her up! >> lock her up, that's right. i have called on hillary clinton to drop out of the race because she -- she -- put our nation's security at extremely high risk with her careless use a private e-mail server. if i, a guy who knows this business, if i did tenth -- a tenth of what she did, i would be in jail today. >> we'll see where that one goes. anyway, did you notice the way he said "she." he didn't like that word "she," did he, senator? maybe i'm being too freudian, but it was an odd way he said it with disgust, the pronoun "she." what do you think? >> maybe i'm old-fashioned, but working on the armed services committee, i really value the fact that our military leaders really try to avoid partisanship.
so it was stunning to me that general flynn was so partisan, and i think reckless, in the way he participated in the campaign. if you're going to lead this nation in the area of national security, you have to conduct yourself in a very dignified way and make sure the american people don't think you're trying to play sides, but rather you're trying to protect them. and i thought he was an odd choice for that job in the first place given some of the things he did during the campaign. >> thank you, senator claire mccaskill. when we return i'll finish with trump watch. this is "hardball," where the action is.
trump watch, tuesday, february 14, 2017. in washington the spectacle of a political hanging creates a bit of shoddenfrau, that excellent german word when someone else is suffering and it's not you. nobody else in this city has ever waited for a hanging, something people drop and don't want to miss. this is the reason people get
fired because it draws all the attention away from that big story the guy doing the hanging hopes you don't ask too much about. is it about mike flynn, or is it the half-told story about the russians, what vladimir putin was up to, during the 2016 elections? and what was his beneficiary, meaning our president. did they ever send a thank you note to putin, that they should hold off until the new team comes to town and makes things square for us. did anybody tell putin that his kindness would be rewarded by january 20? on that point, where was the russian benefactor putin? did he say something, send some note of gratitude that he might someday soon be called to
explain? it's all interesting. the dots are there. we need someone to see if they're connected, don't you think? anyway, happy valentine's day. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. join me again tomorrow night at 7:00 etern. see you then. this is the silverado special edition. this is one gorgeous truck.
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tonight on "all in." >> yes, that's right. lock her up. >> general michael flynn is out. >> i haven't seen that. i'll look at that. >> and president trump is under fire. >> what did the president know and when did he know it? >> tonight, threane d a half weeks into donald trump's presidency, a full-blown scandal in the white house. >> i think the first question should be where was the department of justice in this? >> tonight, new bipartisan calls for investigations. >> did he just do this as a rogue general flynn? or did it come from somebody else in the white house? >> major new questions about the white house version of events. >> i think misleading the vice president really was the key here. >> and the same cold questions about just what happened during the campaign. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails. >> when "all in" starts right now.
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