tv MSNBC Live MSNBC March 3, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PST
>> i will say, i never met him anywhere outside of cleveland. let's just say that much. >> the only time you met him was in cleveland? >> that i may have met him possibly, might have been in cleveland. >> so many people having so many contacts and not remembering, it doesn't make sense. they're either the most forgettable team in political history or the most intimate with russia. >> the question, what does team trump have to hide? our reporters and analysts are hoor to break it down. let's start with hans nichols at the white house. another trip, another day overshadowed by this russia controversy. is there any sign that the administration is going to shift strategy or is it just deny, deny, deny? >> reporter: katy, it's not so much deny, deny, deny, it's deflect, deflect, deflect. that's what we heard from the press briefing aboard air force one about an hour ago. they're drawing attention to this chuck schumer picture where he was having coffee and krispy
kreme doughnuts with vladimir putin in 2004. that's a public picture. there's a big distinction between something that's happening behind closed doors and something that potentially the press could have had access to. the white house is saying this is much ado about nothing. the conversations between jared kushner and michael flynn were part of numerous, almost dozens of conversations they were having with foreign leaders as they were trying to set up and try to figure out how they could hit the ground running at the white house. one example we just learned today there will be a meeting between angela merkel, the chancellor of berlin, and president trump here on march 14th. so, yes, there was a lot of transition work to be doing. now what the white house is saying is they're saying, look, a lot of people had meetings with russia. don't just focus on us. >> take a look at the tweet donald trump sent out about 30 minutes or so ago. it's a picture of chuck schumer and vladimir putin back from 2003. he says, we should start an immediate investigation into senator schumer and his ties to russia and putin.
a total hypocrite. as hans point out, this meeting wasn't done in secret and wasn't done at the height of russia trying to interfere into our election. schumer also did respond and he hit back at trump. take a look at this. happily talk, my contact with putin and his associates took place in '03 in full view of our press and public under oath. would you and your team? chuck schumer with a bit of a dare there for president trump. ari, nancy pelosi is calling on sessions to resign. take a listen to her reasoning. >> what we see is a very narrow recusal. a very narrow, i'm going to recuse myself on the investigation of the election. no, there's a whole russian connection of personal, political and financial russian connection of trump and his add -- president trump and his administration and his campaign.
>> very narrow recusal. explain that, ari. >> it's a partial recusal under the wording that senator sessions, now attorney general sessions, used. he basically said anything regarding, quote, the presidential campaigns. that does not automatically seem to go past that point into the transition period or the administration. >> so, if it doesn't go past that and there's an investigation opened up, does that mn that chuck excuse me, jeff sessions would be allowed to investigate, say, michael flynn? >> that's the question. with that kind of investigation if it was more about after the campaign than during it, would that be something new? the only interview he's given so far on fox news last night, the attorney general said if that comes up, he would do a later decision to recuse. >> you need a lawyer here how to parse this language because it is very specific language. that's why we're always appreciative of ari. eamon, there seems to be an effort to get jeff sessions back
to the capitol to testify in front of the judiciary committee? >> reporter: yeah. the question is whether that has support among republicans. you saw speaker paul ryan come out and say that he thinks the right place for any investigation is the intelligence committee up on capitol hill, both the senate and house contest will be looking at this. and paul ryan saying that because of the classified nature of a lot of the information and the sources and methods and information that might come out in this investigation, that's the right place to handle it right now. i think what you're going to see among republicans is an effort to keep this as limited as possible, as little big capitol hill spectacle as possible. remember, republicans control the house and they control the senate. so, what they think really matters a lot here. >> angelina maxwell, director of programming for sirius/xm joins me as well. donald trump is calling this a witch hunt. saying the democrats are losing their grip on reality. do they run the risk of taking thisoo and losing their credibility on this issue and
mang it seem like all they want to do is push back at donald trump, resist, resist, resist, at any cost? >> no, because i think that there's enough facts that we know at this point. chris matthews made a really good point last night where he talked about the borders of a puzzle. we know enough to get us to the point where we need more of an investigation, a thorough investigation into what happened. the intelligence agencies have confirmed, russia hacked into private e-mails with the intention of helping donald trump. now we know that basically everybody except barron trump has met with the russian ambassador. >> we don't know that everybody -- >> you know, i'm being a little flip there. we're finding out many of the people around donald trump met with the russian ambassador at different points before the election and leading up into his inauguration. so, certainly they have not been
forthcoming with the fact those meetings even happened. they lied and lied and lied until it was revealed in the press. so, if you don't have anything to hide, just come out and come clean. >> robert, msnbc political analyst, also gop strategist, answer that question. do they have anything to hide? is there anything suspicious going on? >> i have no idea whether they have anything to hide. look, if the truth is on your side, if you know you've done -- i mean, this is common sense 101. get it all out there. be as transparent as can you be. you know, make sure that all of your dirty laundry, if there is, in fact, any dirty laundry, gets aired out in public. we know this. we know oftentimes it is not the cover-up -- i'm sorry, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up that gets a lot of people in trouble in washington, d.c. we saw that in 1996 or 1995 with monica lewinsky, with iran contra, and in 1994. i would advise the white house, if there's nothing out,there get
it all outthere. any e-mails, transcripts, any meetings on the transition, maybe it all public. >> as much as donald trump is accessible to the press and he certainly is to a degree, they have not necessarily been transparent with what is going on. they've object view skated quite a number of times. we have five people having to answer questions about meetings with the russian ambassador. general mike flynn, jeff sessions, jared cusper in, j.d. gordon and carter page, who both met with the russian ambassador at the republican national convention in july. so, ari, my question to you is, what in the world happens next? >> what happens next is, first of all, this deputy attorney general will oversee whatever investigations are occurring. and then tuesday there will be a hearing for rod rosenstein, who is basically supposed to actually take over the job. folks who follow this closely may remember the reason we have this acting attorney general is because of the whole obama administration, sally yates herself left after the disagreement over the travel
ban. so, mr. rosenstein will get a hearing in the judiciary committee on tuesday. i think we can expect one big change from yesterday, everyone is looking at who is going to be in charge of this huge high proceed-file, sensitive russian investigation. is that enough or do you need an independent investigation? the only other big criminal option, for a criminal investigation, would be to appoint a special prosutor. one example we've looked at in the legal unit is patrick fitzgerald who when vanly was outed in july 2003, there were questions about what happened in the bush white house. by december then deputy attorney general, a man bit name of jim comey was deputy attorney general, and he took over, much in this scenario, because ashcroft recused himself. he said even though there was a recusal, they needed that extra
independence. he went to that extra step to appoint a special prosecutor in patrick fitzgerald who pursued that case, which folks may remember, did lead to charges. >> is anything less than a special prosecutor going to be enough in this case? >> i don't think so. at this point the politics are mucking it up too much. we need to put it in an independent 9/11 style commission -- >> one separate from the democrats as well? >> yes. but i also think you put republicans and democrats on a bipartisan independent commission -- >> which used to -- just to be clear, we're talking about two lanes here. there's learning what happened that's information. that would be like a 9/11 commission. then there's investigating the crimes. >> right. >> we don't know -- >> investigating crimes doesn't mean there were crimes. it just means those are two different lanes. a commission is never going to actually lead to someone getting into stactual -- >> can i interject? >> go ahead, robert. >> i think ari is right here. two very different lanes. a 9/11-type commission is, with all due respect to the commission, is very, very
laborious. that would be years from now. i'm not sure exactly that's where the country wantso go. it appears the country wants to get to the bottom of this very quickly, to rlly ascertain as to whether or not who did what, when, and why. in order to do that it needs to be a congressional committee with real teeth and, perhaps, maybe a special prosecutor. >> eamon, you were jumping in as well? >> i talked to a source yesterday to that point that said, very quietly behind the scenes, both democrats and republicans are making calls to feel out people who might serve on a 9/11-style commission to see if they would be willing to do it. not that there's any indication that's where we're headed, but both sides apparently want to be prepared if that's where we end up. i can tell you what's frustrating to republicans about all this is there's nothing on its face wrong with meeting with a russian ambassador if you're a member of congress or a high-level political official. they meet with ambassadors all the time. they are concerned that every single ordinary meeting is now
going to be taken wildly out of context here and politicized in a way they feel is simply unfair. so, republicans very much pointing out today, hey, look, a lot of democrats met with this ambassador, too. let's just be fair with both sides here. >> hans, you know what we haven't seen a lot of this week are any of the white house press briefings. we haven't seen sean spicer at all since maybe potentially monday. why today is there not another press briefing? >> reporter: the president's on the road. typically the president travels and you do a briefing on air force one, a so-called gaggle. that's the information we got out today. you know, if i could just correct eamon ever so briefly on this not being that big of a deal, meeting with russian ambassadors. it is a big deal, precisely, because they weren't doing it at the russian ambassador. that's where they're supposed to go. if an ambassador wants a meeting, take it with you at the embassy. number one, they have good caviar. number two, they have good vodka. third, the forks there, and i'm not saying this from personal
experience, the forks at the russian embassy still have the hammer and sickle on them. if you come to a dinner party you may see my perloined russian fork collection. >> hs getting invited -- >> i'm going to leave it there. guys, thank you for a spirited discussion. i have to have you all back because this was a good one today. if you promise, though, to all interject and have interesting comments. you know, stories about -- >> and jokes -- >> hans' dinnerware and various things. hans nichols, eamon javers, ari melber. catch ari melber this sunday 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. eastern right here on msnbc. must see tv, in my opinion. it's not just democrating calling for more information from jeff sessions. republicans are, too. i'll get republican congressman tom coles' take next. we're keeping an eye on the president's visit to an orlando catholic school. he's there with education
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person that i deal with does. >> did any adviser or anybody in the trump campaign have any contact with the russians who were trying to meddle in the election? >> oh, of course not. >> can you say with 100% confidence that mr. trump or anybody in his campaign had no conversations with anybody in russia during the campaign? >> no, i mean, i'm just telling you, it's all phoney baloney garbage. >> are there any ties between mr. trump, you or your campaign and putin and his regime? >> no, there are not. that's absurd. and, you know, there's no base to it. >> despite all of those denials, months of those denials, in fact, there's now mounting evidence that members of trump's presidential campaign did make contact with a russian official both during and after the 2016 election. here's what we know so far. in july then-senator and trump campaign adviser jeff sessions de conct with the russian ambassador at t republican national convention. at the same time of that convention gordon, carter page
also met with kislyak. on december 29th general michael flynn spoke by phone with kislyak. earlier that month flynn and trump's son-in-law, also turned senior adviser, jared kushner, met with the russian ambassador at -- intercepted communications and financial transactions demonstrate links between russian intelligence officers and former trump -- and trump's former campaign manager. joining me now to talk about this is congressman tom cole of oklahoma. my first question to you is where there is smoke, is there fire? >> obviously, there's plenty of people looking at this. we'll find out, i think in due course, whether there is. count me skeptical in the extreme there's much to this story. not unusual to meet with
ambassadors. not unusual for ambassadors of other countries to be busy trying to find out what's going on in, you know, an important country like the united states. and, frankly, preliminarily post-election, there's a lot of relationship-building that goes on between the incoming administration and important countries around the world. again, i look at, this i just don't see anything sinister here. fair enough, people want to investigate, we'll investigate. >> congressman, when you meet with ambassadors, do you go to the embassy or in your office? >> usually in my office at their request. i don't have any business of my own to transact with an ambassador. they come up to the hill, they usually see a number of members. most of the time -- occasionally there's an embassy dinner. you go in that kind of capacity. most of my serious meetings have actually been on capitol hill. >> congressman, what about the timing of all of this. both meetings jeff sessions had with the ambassador happened at spikes in terms of interference from the russians into our
electoral system. that's according to numerous intelligence officials. are you worried about the timing? >> no, i'm not. frankly, i find it almost inconceivable that jeff sessions would be plotting with the russian ambassador to impact an election or that he would be in a situation where he could somehow be manipulated. i just don't think that's remotely plausible. there were other people present, so i assume we'll hear from them at some point if it's necessary. again, the idea that americans are actively working with a foreign power to impact an election, i think, is far-fetched in the extreme. >> if there's nothing to hide, congressman, why is the white house not being more candid, telling everybody exactly what happened, when they met with whom, what they spoke about? >> i think they actually have been pretty forthcoming? >> have they? >> i think so. >> we just played all those denials a moment ago of the various people in the campaign saying, nobody's ever met with russia over and over again. >> i think what they denied, if
i can finish my point, was that they were actively colluding in any way. it's not like they're sitting with the russian ambassador planning voting programs for wisconsin or something. this is pretty normal stuff. i actually asked my scheduler to pull the number of ambassadors i had met with in the last few months. it was like 13. so, and they range from people that we have an adversarial relationship. they tend to be countries we have friendly relationships with. just not that uncommon. i was chief of staff of the republican national committee. i helped arrange, in the 20 0 election cycle, helped arrange ambassadors to come to the convention in philadelphia in that case so they could see what was happening. i mean, there's a lot of interest in what goes on in the united states political campaigns all over the world. >> respectfully, congressman, they weren't just denying they were colluding with the russians. they were denying in many cases anybody met with the russians. when it came to jeff sessions,
he didn't even mention it during his hearing. when it comes to michael flynn, they eventually found out that he spoke with the ambassador but he didn't just speak with the ambassador to wish him merry christmas. he spoke to the ambassador about sanctions and about -- >> there's absolutely nothing -- nothing inappropriate with the incoming national security adviser talking in a serious way -- >> why would he not be honest about that in the first place? >> you'll have to ask him that. you know, you don't normally, you know, blurt out conversations that you're having with other countries without at least talking to them first about putting it in the public domain. again, i just -- i don't see anything sinister here. just don't. and i see no -- no evidence that the russians were able to impact the election in any meaningful way. i've been in a lot of elections. i think that's pretty hard thing to do for any country. particularly at this level. there's so much scrutiny. it's so transparent. it's so decentralized. i find it hard to believe. again, people have been trying
to interfere in the american election since the 1790s. and people care about what happens inhis country and want to understand it. so, i think that's what's happening here. >> congressman, i'm so sorry to interpret. we had senator king on on "morning joe" and we were asking him about this controversy. he made a very good metaphor. if the russians had come into this country and gone into the dnc and stolen a hard drive and then left with that hard drive and got out of the country, there would be calls to not only investigate but to retaliate. that would be a very clear break-in, a very clear breach. isn't it the same thing when they're doing it electronically? >> i think this is a whole new area that does bear looking into. look, i think cyber security is something we've only just beginning to understand and, frankly, we're at a phase where it's easier to play offense in cyber warfare than defense. so, to that extent --
>> will you ask the white house to take it very seriously and call for a thorough investigation into exactly what happened so it can never happen again? >> the white house do what they want to do. look, i see no evidence -- i know why. i think i understand why democrats lost the election and the problem starts with your campaign and your candidate. it doesn't start in moscow. so, i think there is a bit of hysteria here. i just don't find it convincing. i don't see any evidence of wrongdoing yet. if it emerges the appropriate peoplel take action. we do have congressional investigations under way, both the senate intelligence committee and the house intelligence committee. if somebody thinks it's illegal, frankly, the judiciary committee ought to take a look at it. so far, i see a lot of suggestions and innuendos but i don't see a lot of compelling evidence that something happened here between the trump campaign and the russian government. >> congressman tom cole, republican of oklahoma, thank you for joining me, sir. happy friday. >> you, too. police say they nabbed a man
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in just a matter of minutes a man accused of making half a dozen bomb threats against jewish community centers across this nation will make his first appearance in court. 31 juan thompson was arrested in st. louis. his criminal complaint says he piggybacked in recent months in order to harass a former lover. nbc justice correspondent pete williams has the latest from our washington news room. pete, what is the latest? >> i don't know there's anything
later than what you just said. he'll be appearing in court. what they say in these court documents is that he broke up with a woman that he was dating in the new york area in july and then began to cyber stalk her, sending her employer messages, saying she had a sexually transmitted disease, messages like that, threatening to send nude pictures of her publicly. then they say starting about a month ago, he began making a series of threats. some of them in her name. he would send e-mailnd make phone calls saying that she had plantombs in some jew ishtar gets, and then he made four more threats or five more threats in which he said he was the one doing it. but then later posted on twitter that his girlfriend made -- his ex-girlfriend made those threats and blamed him for them. he also told the police that he thought she had access to child pornography, he had seen it, she boasted about it at a disco
tech. when questioned by police, he denied he actually made some of these threats. nonetheless, they connected the threats, they say, using the information about the internet sites where these came from. his ip addresses and he appears in court in -- later today, katy, as you said. >> he was even making -- even at the time tweeting things about how terrible it was that these threats were happening, saying, kids were the ones who were affected. nbc justice correspondent pete williams. thank you for that update. time now for today's top five headlines. acting deputy attorney general dana boente will now head all federal investigations into russia after mounting pressure led to jeff sessions' official recusal yesterday. the minneapolis star reports vice president mike pence also used a private aol account to conduct business during his governorship. it was later hacked and sent fraudulent e-mails to his
contacts asking for money. the u.s. has launched more than 20 air strikes against al qaeda in yemen. they say this gloves-off approach is the result of new white house orders. german leader angela merkel will travel to the white house this month to meet with the president. the refugee crisis will likely be one of their topics during this first face-to-face meeting. george w. bush made the tv rounds this week from kimmel to ellen talking everything from art to his relationship with the former first lady. >> you're good friends with michelle. >> i am, yeah. she and i -- i'm kind of a needler and she handles it pretty well. oh, yeah. that surprised everybody. that's what's so weird about society today, you know, that people on opposite sides of the political spectrum could actually like each other. >> but are you that close -- you're closer to her than barack?
well, let's put it this way, he's never given me a hug that way. >> george w. bush and michelle obama became unlikely friends after a series of official appearances where they were seen side by side, as you just heard the former president say, sometimes sharing hugs. meanwhile, democrats are demanding jeff sessions testify again about his contacts with russia. what do they want to hear? i'll ask nor robert mendez who sits on the foreign relations committee right after the break. umbrellas!!
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right now. he's about to leave the st. andrew's catholic school where he was on a listening tour to talk about the expansion of school choice. can you see that image right there that he took a little while ago, with kids and students and teachers and his new education secretary betsy devos. this is his first visit to a school since taking office. they were expected to talk a lot about school choice, which was an issue betsy devos championshiped. rehema ellis is live in orlando. why did they pick this school in particular? >> reporter: i'm going to tell you that, katy, as i ask my cameraman to pan over. you see a caravan of cars leaving that parking area. that is the school. the president's motorcade is on its way out of the school as we speak. he had been in there for about 45 maybe to 50 minutes to an hour. he came to this school because this school is a strong
recipient of the florida tax credit voucher program. about 350 students in this school. 300 of those children are recipients of vouchers. most of those children are from low-income families. the tuition at the school, about $60,000. that would be a heavy lift for some of these families, so much so it would be impossible if they were not receiving a voucher program. so, that's the reason he came here. he talked with a group of fourth graders who applauded the president. one little girl even told him that she wanted to be a doctor when she grows up. they had kind words for the president. and he for them. he also spent some time listening in this school with those who aretron advocates ofoucher programs to get more ammunition, if you will, for his strong support, to push for a bill in congress that would provide for federal tax credits to go to voucher programs all across the country, katy.
>> now that i'm getting a better look at that photo because my eyes are bad and the screen is far away from me, i can tell senator marco rubio, the florida governor and donald trump's key adviser, jared kushner. can you see him between betsy devos and donald trump and the two students he's hugging. rehema ellis live with the president in orlando. thank you for joining me. as president trump and education secretary betsy devos visit that catholic school in florida, we are asking you, would you support more federal funding to promote school choice? so far, 96% of you say, no, they don't want it. there's still time to weigh in at pulse.msnbc.com. as questions pile up about what is going on with jeff sessions, i'm joined by democratic senator bob menendez, the senator from new jersey to talk about what he wants to see next. senator, do you believe that recusal is enough? >> i certainly believe recusal was absolutely necessary as it
relates to any investigation. i do believe senator -- well now attorney general sessions should return before the judiciary committee and submit himself to a live questioning, to fully air out all of the elements of what he originally testified to, which was a denial of meeting with the russian ambassador. and i really think all of this begs for an independent 9/11-type commission so that we can get the truth to all the elements of the russia issue. you know, if we had been physically attacked in any traditional way, we would actually be responding in force. we had a cyber attack against the united states, an effort to undermine our elections. and we seem to have a president who wants to just look the other way at every cost. >> you know, i just had republican congressman tom cole on a moment ago.
it seemed like he was brushing aside much of this, saying the democrats are essentially overplaying their hand. do you believe the democrats are overplaying their hand? >> i don't think the search for truth is overplaying their hand. every member of congress, i think the president on down, should all be concerned about russia seeking to undermine the sanctity of our elections, the democratic process, and whether or not they succeeded in affecting the election is not even the question. the mere attempt to try to undermine it is critically important. if we don't respond forcefully, then they will continue to pursue this line of cyber attack and engagement. and not only here at home, but in western democracies across europe that are presently engaged in national elections as well. >> next week the deputy attorney general, donald trump's pick for deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, who is a george w. bush appointee, is likely going to get confirmed. would you entrust him to conduct any investigation? >> again, i think this needs to
be apart from the justice department. i don't think the trump administration can investigate the trump administration. and that's why an independent commission, i think, is critically important to get to all the elements of this. what did russia do in terms of affecting our election? what did the trump administration and before that the trump campaign have to do in terms of engaging russia? what interests are there here? i mean, i jt cannot understand that if there is nothing to hide, that you just wouldn't put it all over there and end the question. however, it seems they go through great pains to deny and then ultimately have to admit. and that time is being detracted from creating jobs for americans, creating better educational opportunity, doing the things that the president said he was going to do for the american people. >> senator robert menendez, democrat of new jersey, thank you for joining me. >> thank you. it wasn't supposed to be this way. a look back at what could have,
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conway where pool reporters could ask him about current events, including what happened with his private e-mail server and why he had it. take a listen. >> no, there's no comparison whatsoever between hillary clinton's practice and having a private server, mishandling classified information, destroying e-mails when they were requested by the congress and by officials. we have fully complied with all indiana's laws. we had outside counsel review all of my private e-mail records to identify any e-mails that ever referenced or mentioned business -- state business-related activities. as indiana law requires, we transferred all of those to the state of indiana subject to the public access laws. no, i was not aware of jeff sessions' meeting or would i have expected to have been. the president and i have full confidence in the attorney general. he is a man of integrity. as the president said, he could
have answered the question more clearly, but it was clearly unintentional. i think he's corrected the record appropriately. and we're just very confident in his ability to lead this agency and respect his decision to recuse himself. >> mike pence defending attorney general jeff sessions right now, saying what happened was clearly unintentional. he also talked about his own e-mail scandal. not his own private server. sorry about that. i misspoke earlier. again, old habits die hard. an e-mail account he had on aol and that was hacked and he's come under scrutiny. that was first reported by "the indiana star." it's been 42 days since donald trump became president. in a bit of deja vu he's ending the week with another weekend trip to florida. in case you're counting the cash, it's an estimated $3 million to get him down to
mar-a-lago. more than $10 million. as the preside heads to palm beach, he's once again leaving behind a west wing in turmoil. >> reporter: it could have been the week of the reset. >> the president of the united states! >> reporter: president trump off twitter and back on prompter for his first address to congress. >> i am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength. and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart. >> reporter: but for all the ballyhoing over his tone, it was the same message. the white house regifting an old present in new wrapping paper. >> we've defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open for anyone to cross. >> we've defended other nations' borders while leaving ours wide open. anybody can come in. >> we will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border. >> we're going to build a wall. don't worry about it.
we're building the wall. >> we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens. >> as we speak today, immigration officers are finding the gang members, the drug dealers and the criminal aliens and throwing them the hell out of our country. >> reporter: trump's tease of a bipartisan immigration bill was never mentioned. his most emotional moment, a moment of silence for the widow of navy s.e.a.l. ryan owens. the speech was well received across the country. so much so, the white house canceled the rollout of its must happen right now for national security immigration executive order, in order to bask in the clear blue skies. but the storm clouds were just over the horizon. not 24 hours later, more breaking news banners. >> "the washington post" is out with a headline that reads, sessions, the attorney general,
spoke twice wh russian ambassador during trump's presidential campaign, justice officials say. >> reporter: did jeff sessions, trump's newly minted attorney general and key campaign adviser, lie under oath when he said this at his confirmation hearing -- >> i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and i didn't -- i did not have communications with the russians. >> reporter: late thursday despite the support of the president, sessions bowed to the pressure. >> i have recused myself in the matters that deal with the trump campaign. >> reporter: his defense, he only spoke to sergey kislyak as a senator, not as a trump campaign adviser. >> i did not respond by referring to the two meetings, one very brief after a speech and one with two of my senior staffers, professional staffers, with the russian ambassador in washington. >> reporter: our nation's top cop, now the fifth one-time
trump campaign adviser with questionable links to russia. >> and if you're counting at home, also, by the way, there's steve outside of the beltway to talk about this, but if you're going to come back to me, if you're counting at home which trump advisers had contact with russia, there's roger stone, paul manafort with the campaign at one time, adviser carter page of the national security adviser mike flynn and now attorney general jeff sessions. so, now let's go to steve dase, iowa talk show host. sorry to come to you a moment early. my question is, does anybody outside of washington care about this? >> you know, i don't think, katy, almost anybody cares about stuff like this as much as us do. i think what we're watching in many cases is the confluence of two phenomenons.
on one hand, one way to tell if you're a political hack or not is would you be saying if the circumstances were the same but reversed? in my industry if we had a democratic president who had a weird unexmrikable bromance with a russian ambassador i can't imagine the amount of hairs on fire. on the other hand, you have what i think is a rush to confirmation bias. you look at "the washington post" story, for example, they said talked twice with a russian envoy and everybody left to conclusions, what does it mean, what does it not mean, democratic senators saying, i've never met with russian embassy members until the two times on my twitter account that i said i did or the 30 that did in 2015 to help obama pass his deal with iran. i think if there's a rush to judgment here, on the other hand. i think a lot of americans are doing what they did in the clinton years. when everybody on my side of the aisle tried to peg clinton as responsible for murdering arkansas state troopers and
hillary clinton had vince foster murdered -- >> that was a lot more -- those are much more, you know, far-flung than what's going on with russia, considerably more far-flung than what's going on with ruche. >> to some extent i agree with that. as i noted, we have a president with a strange bromance with vladimir putin. there's a reason and i don't think any of them are good. those in our industry need thob careful. we are rapidly approaching a point where you have evidence of vladimir putin handing donald trump a vat of unmarked bills, a good portion of americans would just say, see, they're going after him again. i don't believe it. it's the same thing we had on the right when we finally caught bill clinton lying -- lp you tak,
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i have the feeling it's going to go through some house committees, it's going to be kept secret until it gets to them, and then it's going to come to the senate but it's not going to go to any committees. the question is, will it be amendable? will we be told, hurry up, pass it, take it or leave it? i'm getting the impression it's take it or leave it. >> that was senator rand paul this morning on "morning joe" expressing his frustration with house republicans as they keep their obamacare replacement plan under lock and key. the republican senator caused quite the stir on capitol hill yesterday when he attempted to infiltrate a room where the secret bill was apparently
hidden. his attempt even prompted house democrats to join in on the hunt, culminating in this bizarre moment where congressman seny hoyer addressed a bust of abraham lincoln. >> i know, mr. lincoln, you are upset with your party as i am. >> i mean, i don't even know what to say about that. so, let's, instead, ask our politics reporter leanne caldwell who joins me from capitol hill. steny hoyer aside for a second, why aren't the rank and file in the republican party allowed to see this bill? >> it's bipartisanship at its best, katy. republicans and democrat on search for the bill. what's happening here is
republican leadership say there's not a bill yet to see. many republicans don't believe that. there was a draft bill leaked to the press last week. and they say that this is a very top-down process, that their ideas aren't getting herd, at only a few people with writing this bill and they won't have any chance to amend it, put in their prescription into it. and so they're very frustrated with how this process is being very top-down and they're having very little input. >> nbc politics reporter leigh ann caldwell, fortunately not talking to a bust of abraham lincoln. "the celebrity apprentice" is once again in search of a new host. arnold schwarzenegger is saying he won't do another scene even if asked. he said in a statement, i loved every second of working with nbc and mark burnett. everyone from the celebrities to the crew to the marketing department was a straighten and i would absolutely work with all of them again on a show that doesn't have this baggage. i wonder what he could possibly be referring to?
likely, donald trump. he told "empire" magazine it's the president and his involvement that are keeping him from a second season. we're going to watch the president's twitter account to see if there is any reaction. that wraps things up for me this hour. i am katy tur, kate snow picks things up. >> hi, everybody. here are our top stories this hour. president trump is in florida right now, but questions remain about his attorney general and his administration as a whole. jeff sessions is now the fifth trump adviser with questionable contacts with russian officials. the next steps for the justice department coming up. plus, an nbc news exclusive. we will speak with one of russian president vladimir putin's most high-profile critics who has survived being poisoned himself twice now. finally, president george w. bush, unplugged, a new look at the 43rd leader of the free wo