tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC February 27, 2017 11:00pm-11:31pm PST
this and don't want to see that defunded in any way, shape, form. >> john schindler gets tonight's "last word." >> thank you. msnbc's live coverage continues into "the 111th hour" now, with brian williams. s that next. tonight, president trump hours away from what could be his most important speech yet. a preview tonight of what's to come on capitol hill. as questions mount about the investigation into trump's campaign ties with russia. and breaking his silence, former president george w. bush reveals his thinking on the trump administration. "the 11th hour" begins now. and good evening to you once again from our headquarters here in new york. as we begin week six of the trump presidency, the commander in chief just hours away from a critical speech to a joint session of congress. a live look at the white house and capitol hill. they will be busy places by this
time tomorrow night. early reports on the speech indicate the president will look to refocus his presidency on pocketbook issues and health care. more talk on that later. and like a lot of what this administration has been trying to do lately, just about anything is a better distraction than the constant questions and suspicion over russia and vladimir putin. that topic, russia, dominated the headlines today despite the president detailing his new budget proposal including a big bump-up in defense spending. and already there is at least one republican calling for a special prosecutor. >> you can not have somebody, a friend of mine, jeff sessions, who was on the campaign and who was an appointee. you're going to need to use the special prosecutor's statute in office to take not just to recuse, you can't just give it to your deputy, that's another political appointee, you do have to do that.
>> as part of a press pool this morning, nbc's kristen welker got a chance to ask the president about that. his response was barely audible and presumably meant for the health insurance executives around the table. here it is. >> mr. president, do you support a special prosecutor on russia? >> thank you, press. thank you. take care. >> that ended up being the calm before the storm with the white house admitting it talked to the republican heads of both the house and senate intelligence committees last week asking them to debunk the russian reports and their comments to reporters. both men face questions from reporters today. house intelligence chairman devin nunes was a little more forthcoming than his senate colleague, intelligence chairman richard burr.
>> we still have not seen evidence of the trump campaign that has communicated with the russian government. at this point here in the committee, we still don't have any evidence of them talking to russians. we don't have mccarthyism back in this place. we can't have the government, the u.s. government or the congress, legislative branch of government, chasing down american citizens, hauling them before the congress, as if they're some secret russian agents. >> what's your reaction to the concerns from the vice chair on the intelligence committee? >> was it good for you to talk to reporters about this? >> you guys have -- >> if you're watching us from north carolina, that was one of your two elected members of the u.s. senate today.
of course, the problem with knocking down the story to reporters is that they are supposed to be heading the investigation just now getting under way. here is how white house press secretary sean spicer answered questions on this front in today's white house briefing. >> should there be a special prosecutor, darrell issa's call for a special prosecutor to look into this. >> right. my question is a special prosecutor to what? i think russia's involvement in activity has been investigated up and down. the question becomes at some point if there's nothing to further investigate, what are you asking people to investigate? chairman nunes spoke very clearly today when asked over and over and over again about all of this and said he's seen nothing that leads him to believe that there's there. >> a short time ago the top democrat on the house intelligence committee responded to all of this speaking to chris hayes on this network. >> frankly, we have heard from no witnesses. we have only started reviewing
documents. it's the very beginning of the investigation. so we shouldn't be reaching any conclusions about what we're going to find and it concerns me that you have the white house talking to the fbi and potentially cia and asking them to push back on stories. >> chairman nunes invoked a specter of mccarthyism today. are people getting out ahead of the facts in a way that's dangerous? >> well, first of all, i don't think there's any comparison here to the mccarthy era. in terms of general flynn, and i think a lot of his comments went to general flynn, lied to the vice president and caused the vice president to mislead the country. that's a serious business. that's not mccarthyism in my view to call him out on it and what concerns me more than anything else about that, the president was okay with that. he was okay with the country being misled until it became public and he was forced to fire flynn. well that says a lot about this president's willingness to tolerate dishonesty in his administration and misleading the public. >> on that same broadcast here tonight, dick durbin, the number
two democrat in the senate, reminded people why the house and senate intelligence committee specifically have been tasked with this investigation. >> what congressman nunes said disqualifies himself. disqualifies him from heading up an investigation in this area. he's already reached a conclusion. why did the republicans choose the intelligence committees for this investigation? a lot of reasons, but one of them is they meet behind closed doors, the public can't see what's happening, they don't know what witnesses are being called. there's no effort or opportunity to test credibility. if they ever produce a report in some distant time, it's going to be classified. >> it's a big monday night. let's bring in our panel to start things off. back with us tonight after a vacation, we all agree was too long, nicolle wallace is here. veteran of the campaign trail and the white house. and of course an msnbc political analyst. also here with us in new york tonight, our own ali velshi who shows up every day on the job without complaint.
in washington, eli stokols, white house correspondent for politico. ditto. welcome to you all. nicolle, you were out the longest, you will get the first question. true or false, this administration will be at minimum distracted and at most consumed with investigations. >> i would change the at most with paralyzed. i was in the white house, i think the first investigation from waxman's committee, i think he was the chairman of the house oversight committee, was over contacts to enron and what that means if you're a white house staffer is you go through all your e-mails and any time there was any reason that you mentioned anything about enron in the context of cheney's energy plan, i mean, it is all-consuming and you're talking about someone who doesn't -- so this is all republican-on-republican critique. this is not the mccain/graham wing of the republican party that's deeply skeptical of putin and russia and their activities
in the region. this is darrell issa. someone who has really no tie and no sort of rapport with those foreign policy views or those two men that i know of. this is someone who is looking at the facts as they exist and suggesting a special prosecutor. it's a remarkable development. >> eli, what does the drip, drip, drip of this feel like that? >> well, i mean, you can sense the -- i wouldn't say panic but they're frustrated at the white house. you heard sean spicer say today, i don't know where this goes, if there's nothing more to investigate, what do we do with this? that conditional phrase is interesting, we don't know there's nothing more to investigate. the fbi continues to investigate. the white house would like us to believe that whatever fbi director comey said to reince priebus over the phone about a week ago, that that was a full exoneration and that clears the trump campaign and the white house of any wrongdoing and we don't know that. and the fact that he has enlisted devin nunes, has enlisted senator burr, it
corrupts the whole process as darrell issa says because nobody will value an investigation if the american people don't believe that investigation was actually independent. very shortsighted on the white house's part because they're so overeager to sweep this thing away, they're actually sort of ensuring that it sticks around. >> so ali velshi, we'll put aside for the moment the idea that some notion or fact or occurrence has made this white house, this president, try to normalize putin and russia unlike we've ever seen in our lifetime. he's got to deliver this speech tomorrow night. >> right. >> in it, it's widely rumored there's going to be a lot of new math, new accounting and new funds coming from different places. what do you know? >> right. there are a couple of issues that play here. one is all of the success that president trump talks about in terms of our president success is predicated on some notions of economic growth that a number of economists have said don't add up. they don't make sense. they're just higher projections
of growth and that they've actually done some math to get to that level, so that's problem number one. problem number two is he needs to sell these defense -- this budget, the skinny budget that he came out with and these increases of $54 billion in defense spending. now, we've gone down this road before, if you recall. the idea that we needed to have cuts across the board. the only difference is defense under the sequester was included in the cuts. now we're talking about a $54 billion increase. the number of cuts that he's going to have to make across the government in order to pay for that without increasing the deficit and without increasing taxes, the math doesn't add up so he's going to have to convince some people that they've actually done the math and he's got proposals that can work economically. >> nicolle, you spent a good deal of your time talking with trump voters, talking with donald trump's base. >> yeah. >> is their patience limitless? what could effect it? this is going do be a big fight on just this front all spring
into summer. >> listen, they're going to love the budget. it's not a skinny budget. it's rand paul's foreign policy, view on foreign aid, ronald reagan approach to defense and democrat approach to entitlement reform. his supporters who believe that he can do things that no one else in government has ever been able to do will like the budget. i am picking up a little bit of annoyance bordering on maybe a sliver of worry about the russia story. they don't think their guy is guilty but they see that their guy is distracted by the russia story. and they all say -- i was in wisconsin and michigan and they say, yes, it would bother me if it turned out that he was in cahoots with vladimir putin or if there was some reason he never says anything bad about him but they're still very much in his corner. eli's point about how they're shooting themselves in the foot, this gets to his voters, too.
they see him tweeting at all hours and fighting with the press. they view that as shooting himself in the foot. they think he has this great opportunity, they're behind him, want to see him carry out his campaign promises and see him wrapping himself around his own axle a little bit. >> eli, give me a prediction. what do you think the atmosphere is going to be? the great unknowable in that chamber tomorrow night. it's the larger of the two chambers. the house chamber. 545 combined members. you'll have elements of the supreme court. the joint chiefs. it's as regal as we get. what's it going to be like? >> well, i think it will be pretty electric to begin with and i think it just -- none of us know -- that's the sense of drama that you have going into this, none of us know how this is is going go. donald trump, you know, ad libs and reacts to pretty much every advocation when he's speaking to a crowd. we don't know how he's going to actually deliver the speech. we've heard from his staff that he wants to give a unifying address, it's going to be much
more optimistic than the inauguration address about american carnage. in the room, a lot of democratic lawmakers are bringing undocumented immigrants to sort of highlight that point. the white house may bring victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants so there will be also i think a palpable tension in that room. he may want to give a unifying address, but the atmospherics may push in another direction. >> i just realized i added ten elected officials, it's 535. 435 from the house, 100 from the senate. ali, tomorrow night, this is his chance to pivot. we keep hearing previews from the white house. not a lot. but that optimism is going to be the unifying theme. you buy it? >> i think if he can -- look, i think he's likely to stick to a script tomorrow and that's going to be helpful for him. if he does that, he does has some policy things he's got to address. he's got to address health care, he's got to address this budget proposal that he's got. he's going to have to say
something a little more detailed about this effort on terrorism. you know, i'm out of the business of predicting what donald trump is going to do at a public appearance. it's a fool's game. it's going to have to be something different because of what you said, the atmosphere, it's going to be fraught with tension and it's the country's lawmakers. eyes will be on to see if there's a different donald trump available. >> nicolle, i want you to react to something donald trump said this morning. watch it with us. >> we have to win. we have to start winning wars again. when i was in young in high school and college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. we never lost a war. you remember. and now we never win a war. we never win. we don't fight to win. we don't fight to win. we either have to win or don't fight it at all. >> nicolle wallace? >> sometimes it's hard to -- you know, i spent enough time with
his voters to sort of get a little bit of the translation and understand what he's trying to say. he's filled his cabinet with generals who are really the only humans who give solace to people who are worried about how erratic he's been as president. that's the sort of thing i hope a general will pull him aside and say, you don't say that. you don't say that when you've got men and women in yemen dying on your order, in iraq serving this country nobly, in afghanistan, we still have special operations forces and sure we have them in syria, too. it's just an unfathomable thing to say. yeah. >> with that, we will thank our panel and take our first break in our broadcast. thank you, all three of you, for coming on tonight. and coming up, he stayed silent during the obama administration, but now president george w. bush, nicolle's old boss, is weighing in. his thoughts on donald trump when "the 11th hour" continues. from the minute i wake up...
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welcome back. let's hear from 43. when asked about the obama presidency, president george w. bush famously said it's a hard job, a former president doesn't need to make it any harder. but today as part of the rollout of a new book, the former president weighed in on president trump, his policies and his controversies. >> did you ever consider the media to be the enemy of the american people? >> i consider the media to be
indispensable to democracy. that we need an independent media to hold people like me to account. i mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power. >> so many questions about the contacts between trump associates during the campaign and the russian government. as a former president, would you like to see a special prosecutor appointed to look into this once and for all and give the american people answers? >> well first of all, i think we all need answers. whether or not a special prosecutor is the right way to go or not, you're talking to the wrong guy. i have great faith in richard burr, for example, the head of the senate intelligence committee, really good guy and an independent thinker. if he were to recommend a special prosecutor, i'd be -- it'd have a lot more credibility with me. >> it was only eight or nine months after you took office that the attacks of 9/11 occurred.
just after those attacks you gave a speech and said this. "i also want to speak tonight directly to muslims throughout the world. we respect your faith, it's practiced freely by many millions of americans and by millions more in countries that america counts as friends. its teachings are good and peaceful." that's very difficult talk than what we're hearing today about a muslim ban. do you think the president's position on this has been well thought out? >> it's very important for all of us is to recognize our great strengths, people be able to worship the way they want to or not worship at all. the bedrock of our freedom, a bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely. you see, i understood right off the bat, matt, this was an ideological conflict and people who murder the innocent are not religious people. >> so interesting to see him now in the context of 2017. his former white house
communications director nicolle wallace has been kind enough to stay here for a couple more minutes. what goes through your mind watching your old boss? >> what's happened since he gave that interview is a lot of sort of the trump wing of the republican party has attacked him for staying quiet during the obama years and for being critical of this president. >> and we should point out in fairness he didn't set out to criticize the president. >> right. he's on a book tour to raise money. >> he has painted portraits of wounded warriors. it's part of a book. >> right. >> the proceeds go to their charity. >> and i bet my last dollar that if he could have, you know, negotiated some sort of way to not weigh in on news of the day, he would have rather have not done so. but i'm very happy to hear his words and we covered president obama's last press conference. i thought that president bush's first answer about how indispensable a free press is to a democracy was almost verbatim what president obama said at that last encounter with his press corps. american presidents seem to
understand you may not like the press you get, but that they're there legitimatizes you and donald trump's constant attacks on the media and tomorrow night, i said this to you before the show, i'm going to be watching to see if he carries out his attacks on the media and what the people in the room do. you know, do the members of congress in the republican party applaud when he calls the -- if he calls the media the enemy of the american people? is that's where this republican party is? george w. bush also said this morning that you can't stand, you know, an electorate next to vladimir putin and talk to him about the benefits of democracy if you don't have it, yourself. a free press and freedom of religion is integral of all of those. >> nicolle wallace will be part of our team tomorrow evening. we'll all watch. it will be a fascinating event. >> always is. >> welcome back. thank you. coming up after our next break, it's complicated. donald trump gets his first look
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reform. maybe not as easy as president trump had thought. remember the promise to repeal and replace obamacare. it turns out that like a lot of things, it sure looks different up close. just ask the namesake of obamacare. >> i'm bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, democrats and republicans, to begin work on this issue next week. i suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. once again, it will be hard. to all of the terrific committee chairs, all the members of congress who did what was difficult, but did what was right and passed health care reform, not just this generation of americans will thank you, but the next generation of americans will thank you. for the last two years, we have been grinding it out. we passed health care reform but it was a hard fight. >> presidents dating back to teddy roosevelt and his failed campaign in 1912 have pushed for some sort of national health insurance.
keeping obamacare in tact has become the subject of a number of contentious town hall meetings across the country and a rallying cry for the reforming democratic party. their governors' association estimates 30 million people could lose coverage if obamacare is repealed. that is going to do it for this edition of "the 11th hour." be sure to join us tomorrow. special coverage of the president's address to congress. it will be rachel and me and chris matthews at 8:00 p.m. eastern. then at midnight, a special broadcast. i heard chris talking about this tonight. you'll want to see this. a live late-night edition of "hardball" with guests including but not limited to bill maher, kathy griffin, michael moore, rob reiner and more. wednesday, back at 9:00 p.m. eastern. a special broadcast we're putting together on the trump/putin power play as questions mount over this investigation into the trump
campaign's ties to russia. for now, for us, "hardball" with chris matthews begins right now. eastern promises. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. tonight with an fbi led counterintelligence inquiry under way and two congressional investigations just beginning, there are strong signs out there that president trump has ordered a preemptive strike on those problems of his possible russian connections. we learned last week reince priebus asked the fbi to knock down stories about the reported communications between trump aides and figures in rush that and the "washington post" and axios are reporting the administration's pushback effort went further.