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tv   MSNBC Live  MSNBC  April 3, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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right now on msnbc, the senate judiciary committee voting now to vote on neil gorsuch. will republicans go nuclear when it gets to the full senate? and unannounced visitor, president trump's son-in-law jared kushner makes a surprise visit to iraq. this as new questions surface over the family's potential conflicts of interest. we'll have details of financial disclosures released this weekend. and breaking news out of russia, authorities say ten people have been killed in an explosion on a subway in st. petersburg. we'll have a live report on that momentarily. good morning, everyone. i'm ali velshi in washington where the drama is already unfolding during a critical week for the white house. president trump looking for a win with the nomination of knne gorsuch to the supreme court. he's a live look at the senate yjudiciary committee that will vote in a couple of hours on whether to send neil gorsuch's
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name to the full senate. so far, republicans and democrats have been making their cases along party lines. >> everyone in this room knows that liberal and progressive groups have been pressuring the minority leader to find a reason, any reason, to filibuster the nominee. he's a mainstream judge whose earned the universal respect of his colleagues. this nominee that we're voting on today is a judge's judge. >> there was simply no reason that the nomination of judge garland could not proceed, other than to deny the then president of the united states, president barack obama -- >> democratic leader chuck schumer is demanding 60 votes to confirm gorsuch. that means with only 52 republicans in the senate, eight democrats will need to support gorsuch for him to pass.
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right now, only three democrats, all of whom happen to be up for re-election next year, say they will vote yes for gorsuch. chris jansing is joining us live from the committee hearing. chris, good to see you. using the so-called nuclear option, it hasn't happened before with a supreme court nominee, but at this point, if the republicans want neil gorsuch confirmed, it looks like the only option for them. >> reporter: yeah, they just don't have the votes. we heard from dianne feinstein, not a big surprise, but adding up the numbers, she's the latest democrat that said i will vote no. the republicans need five democrats to go their way. a big part of this hearing so far, actually, it's not a hearing, a big part of the lead-up to this vote has been about the pressure that's out there, the $12 million plus that has been spent, mostly on television ads and some on media. but i'll tell you, they have been talking about the states where they have been spending
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heavily. these pressure outside groups, much of it on the republican side, funded by the koch brothers, montana, missouri, colorado, places where the democratic senators have to run for re-election. and on the opposing side, you have a lot of progressive groups that have been sending a very strong message to these democrats saying, you vote for neil gorsuch, especially after what happened to merrick garland, especially after 20 hours of hearing in which we couldn't get straight answers on critical issues, we will primary you. so the pressure is absolutely tremendous. and i have to tell you, i sat through the 20 hours of questioning of neil gorsuch, most of it pretty low key. there were a few testy exchanges, but for the most part, i would say not a lot of fireworks. you're hearing some real passion in this first hour of statements, both on the republican and the democratic side. i think dianne feinstein
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speaking for the democrats when she said, we're not just evaluating a resumé, an acknowledgment that this person certainly has on paper the credentials to be a supreme court nominee and a supreme court judge. but going through the cases that bother her and a lot of other democrats where they say that neil gorsuch sided wit big business or sided with the big guy versus the little guy. so here we are with eight of the nine democrats, now who have officially on this committee said they will vote no. we are waiting to hear from chris coombs sometimes in the next hour. and then, of course, the big move, when it goes to a filibuster, only once before in the history of supreme court nominations has there been a filibuster. and as you pointed out, ali, it could be the first time there's a nuclear option in the case of the supreme court nominee. >> and we have just, chris, while you were talking to me about this, got word that mark
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warner, senator mark warner has said that he is a no on gorsuch and closure. which means he will support a filibuster. he's saying this is senator mark warner of virginia saying, despite his impressive academic credentials, judge gorsuch's responses, even refusing to answer questions regarding the view of cases like roe versus wade and citizens united do not give me confidence he has a philosophy to serve the american public well. that's one thing dianne feinstein said, if they were basing it on the resumé on the judges, every judges would get 100 to 0 vote based on their answers. but now mark warner saygthat. we'll hear from chris coombs shortly. he's the ninth member of this committee. >> yeah, and i think the other thing you have to look at when you hear about mark warner, you hear again the numbers starting to pile up on the democratic side. chuck schumer has been saying this for a while now, he said, i
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think we're going to have the votes, we're going to keep them from being able to get to 60. the question really is, whether or not they're going to blow up the senate rules, whether or not they're going to change the judiciary going forward. and i think it is worth repeating, i have been saying this through the morning, but you have a nominee who is 49 years old. meaning he could potentially sit on the supreme court for 20, 30 years, even longer based on the tenure of some of the justices that are there now. so it's hard to overstate how important these votes are. >> chris, we'll be back with you a little later when we get news from chris coombs. the president is looking for a win this week on gorsuch. and the president's son-in-law and senior adviser jared kushner made an unannounced visit to iraq. he's there traveling with the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. his visit coming on a major foreign policy week for the white house. the president is scheduled to welcome egypt's president later this hour behind me at the white house. and he'll meet later this week
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with the leaders of jordan and china. nbc news white house correspondent chrkristen welker there at the white house. you can see the ceremony going on there in anticipation of the president from china. how involved are these in these meetings that the president is having? >> reporter: they are incredibly involved. good to see you, too. officials have been involved since the very beginning, from the first visits that judge gorsuch was making to capitol hill, to start to meet some of the senators who were going to be voting on his confirmation. the president, also, in communication with senators. and sending out a strong message when asked if they should go nuclear, republicans, if, in fact, democrats try to filibuster neil gorsuch, the president will effectively say, yes, he should get confirmed. that by all accounts, he's a qualified nominee. so really giving mitch mcconnell
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the green light to move forward with the nuclear option in trying to block the filibuster by changing the senate rules, which would be dramatic as chris jansing was just laying out. and a lot of this goes back to the point you were making, ali, the fact that the president needs a win right now. he wants a win, particularly when you have all of the mounting questions about russia's meddling in the u.s. election that has ensnared his former national security adviser as well as the fact that his plan to repeal and replace obamacare went down in defeat. now, we know he was trying to revive talks about that over the weekend golfing with senator rand paul who is a fierce opponent of that legislative plan, but that is one more reason why it's all hands on deck here when it comes to neil gorsuch. they really want to see him get confirmed. and by all accounts, republicans have the majority in the senate. so it is likely he will get confirmed. the question is, how does that
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actually happen? and that is where all eyes will be this week, ali. >> let's talk about jared kushner's visit to iraq. what is the white house saying about why he's on this trip? >> reporter: well, they say he's going on behalf of the president. obviously, national security, iraq, the fight against isis, a critical issue for this president. one of the issues that he ran on. and jared kushner, you heard lindsegram make this point earlie has the president's ear. so senator graham, when asked about this by kasie hunt said, this is a good thing. he should be there as an envoy for the president assessing the situation on the ground. he's, of course, the president's son-in-law, but he's also served as one of his top advisers, and someone who has had his hand in a number of foreign policy issues, everything from mexico to helping lay the groundwork for the very critical meeting that i heard you talking about at the top when he prepares to meet with china's president on friday. of course, turning up the heat on china to put pressure on
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north korea. so jared kushner's really been at the center of a lot of these key foreign policy issues that the president's dealing with, iraq no different, but certainly striking he's visiting before the secretary of state. >> and underscoring what a busy week it is for the white house. we'll talk to you later at the white house. >> thanks. an update on breaking news out of russia, we have different numbers on the number of people killed in the explosion. we have nine confirmed dead at an explosion in an underground train station in st. petersburg. new pictures are coming in from the scene. president vladimir putin says officials are investigating all possible causes, including terrorism. the white house says president trump was briefed on the situation as kristen just confirmed. the former u.s. ambassador to russia, said the blast looks like it could be a terrorist attack. >> the reports i'm seeing from independent news reporting out of st. petersburg and
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eyewitnesss there, is there were two explosions and one bomb. they saw someone else nearby. so it looks like terrorism. it most certainly looks like a terrorist act. on the eve, by the way, of a summit meetinghat is supposed to take place in st. petersburg between the president of russia and the president in belarus today. >> and it does seem that the second explosion, the second bomb didn't detonate. joining me from moscow now is carlo angle. we are hearing one bomb detonated and the other one didn't? is that what you have? >> reporter: yes. the state officials here in russia are being told nine people were kill in the blast earlier today. that number is down from the ten they previously mentioned right after the blast occurred. they also said that at least 20 people had been injured or are
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currently being treated in the hospital. now, we don't know yet what the cause is. and all possible causes are being looked at as vladimir putin said, but one speaker for the general prosecutor's office told the top news agency here in russia that they are looking at it as a terror attack at the moment. again, that is no full confirmation, but all signs are kind of looking that way. and the state department and the u.s. state department told americans in st. petersburg to stay away from the immediate area where the blast has occurred. and to be very vigilant abo their movements. they have also asked americans in russia to check in with family and friends back home to tell them that they are okay. meanwhile, state media here in russia is reporting that across russia, they have actually increased security levels at
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metro stations and airports. so there is certainly a bit of nervousness here across the country. ali? >> all right, carlo, thank you. we'll check in with you and keep updating you on this story. and kasie hunt also having a busy morning. in light of lawmakers investigating russia's role in the election and the alleged ties to the trump campaign, what are you hear right now about those hearings and those investigations which sort of got derailed last week? >> reporter: that's right, ali. this has been a very fast-moving story up here on capitol hill as these twin investigations go on on the house side and the senate side. on the house side, it had ground to a halt after devin nunes went to the white house grounds to view materials, that he then told the press about without telling the ranking member on the committee about. now adam schiff, the ranking member, did go to the white house on friday. he was told that he took a look at the same materials that devin
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nunes was showed. now, nunes problem and the key differetween the house investigation and the senate one is that the house is looking into what called unmasking. so when the government does electronic surveillance of foreign nationals, it's a routine thing. sometimes they pick up conversations that include u.s. persons or that are about u.s. persons, and sometimes those names are not supposed to be what is called unmasked, revealed, but they sometimes are. sometimes appropriately, sometimes the nunes and republicans are saying that it is inappropriate in this particular case. although there is no evidence of wrongdoing at this point. however, that has become a key issue, the unmasking question, in the house investigation. i caught up with senator lindsey graham very vocal on the russia spunl subject in general. and he said, the unmasking is not the issue. instead, it's the broader question. take a look.
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>> the big issue is what are we going to do about russia's attempt to interfere in our election? to me, joan king said it was an act of war. whether that is accurate or not, it's in the spirit of ape tacking our country. the russians tried to undermine top 2016 election. the republicans are in charge of the senate and the house. and we should act to punish them. we should bring a bill to the floor very soon to impose additional sanctions on the putin regime for trying to interfere in our election. >> reporter: so that, of course, is a call to senator graham in what he's been trying to make for some time. obviously he and john mccain have been vocal on this topic, but we are waiting to see what the next twist is. there are questions if the senate intelligence committee may move forward to start interviewing people, that would be a new phase for their investigation. ali? >> kasie, we'll check in with you on this and other stories throughout the day.
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kasie hunt at the capitol. and michael flynn's business ties to russia are under new scrutiny. two sets of flynn's financial disclosure forms on taped by msnbc show that he initially failed to list three russian-linked companies that paid him thousands of dollars for speaking engagements. flynn's lawyer telling nbc news the first filing was just a draft and he had bundled speaking fees and was not fully completed because flynn lost his job a few days after the submission. all this was initially reported by "the washington post." and the lead reporter on the "post's" story, matteo is joining us now. matteo, good to see you. what can you tell us about the companies that paid michael flynn? >> reporter: what is important about this is as you mentioned, the initial filing that did not detail the thousands of dollars in speaking fees he received from the russian-linked entities that was filed days before flynn was forced to step down as the national security adviser.
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at the time, it was known that he had received money to speak at an event hosted by r.t., the russian state-backed network. but two other sources of russian companies that paid him for speaking fees were not known until march when that came out that the house democrats revealed that through documents they had obtained. and so the question that has been raised is has he been fully transparent about the source of his income. >> all right. one of the things that we're trying to figure out now is, michael flynn's explanation of this, that he was appointed from -- he lost his job, basically, in the process of correcting these submissions. does that make sense? >> right. and so -- flynn submitted what a person close to him said was an initial draft document. these ethics forums do go through extensive review and
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revision as white house counsel and the members of the office of government ethics weigh in and give guidance on what needs to be disclosed and what doesn't. we saw several different changes on the form that flynn submitted just on friday when the white house said he had an opportunity to update his forum. and so, that was the explanation given, that he did not realize it, that he needed to disclose and itemize the source of the speaking fees. but this is giving further fodder to democrats. we heard adam schiff say this weekend that this is really intensifying the healthy skepticism he has about flynn's request for immunity. >> matea gold at "the washington post," thank you. we have breaking news now, democratic senator patrick leahy just announced he will vote for support of a filibuster of supreme court nominee judge neil gorsuch. he already announced that he's a no on gorsuch's nomination.
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we'll continue to monitor the developing situation as democrats move closer to a so-called nuclear showdown with republicans. but next, new financial disclosures from white house staff, including ivanka trump and jared kushner. the couple reporting more than $700 million in assets. we'll breakdown the numbers and where the money trail leads. and what new ethical questions the white house faces. my business was built with passion... but i keep it growing by making every dollar count. that's why i have the spark cash card from capital one. with it, i earn unlimited 2% cash back on all of my purchasing. and that unlimited 2% cash back from spark means thousands of dollars each year going back into my business... which adds fuel to my bottom line. what's in your wallet? i'm phil mickelson, pro golfer. my psoriatic arthritis caused joint pain. just like my moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. and i was worried about joint damage.
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we are learning new information on the financial disclosure of ivanka trump and jared kushner. minneapol msnbc's chief legal correspondent ari mel ber is joining me now. a lot of the disclosures were released on friday. what did we learn from them? >> first of all, we have, for example, jared kushner's certificate that we obtained through a freedom of information request. so this information does come pouring out. and ivanka trump's state in the trump hotel, $5 million. that's important because she may ultimately be in breach of the contract which says people who are federal employees shouldn't be getting money from it. i'll show you something pro
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republic dug up, kushner has more than 100 real estate assets, including a trump-branded rental building in new jersey, new jersey, when was financed with millions from wealthy chinese investors through a visa program. it doesn't mean he did something wrong, but it is something to track. and jared kushner's royalties here, this is from a financial disclosure. again, we only know this because of the rules that force them to come out, $1 to $5 million in rent or royalties. and finally, what the ethics committee says we should do about this. what should be done? richard paynor, a former bush ethics lawyer, says on trade, tax reform and wall street deregulation, all these under ethics rules, neither of the family members should advise the president on them. we don't know if they will voluntarily comply with the counsel. that's something people debate. but we are certainly learning about more of the money and the
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potential conflicts based on these disclosures. >> well, let me ask you about this, ivanka and jared remain as beneficiaries to kushner's family real estate business. valued at $741 million. now, she resigned from the day-to-day management of her fashion brand, but she transferred assets from her business to a trust where she's the sole beneficiary and it is managed by her in-laws. and she has a stake in the trump international hotel here in washington, d.c. can they have those holdings and remain top adviser miss the trump administration? is there any inherit conflict, other than what you just mentioned, areas in which they cannot advise the president? >> well, legally they can. and this is a good thing. this is a step. it is, by the way, the bare minimum, so they are not doing anything extra or special, they are doing what federal employees have done. and now they are officially, notwithstanding, ivanka trump's
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"60 minutes" clip saying she would never be in the administration, but now that she is, she is complying. you can have outside assets and have a divested trust and have someone else manage it. the problem is all of the related ways that these are still businesses that are intimately wrapped up with the trump name. if folks want to help the business, they may know about it, even if they are nds-off. >> good to see you, my friend. thank you so much, ari melber. joining me is kathleen clark, an expert in ethics and government and a professor at the harvard coschool of law. it shouldn't strike anybody as weird that ivanka trump has a share in her father's company's business interest. that wouldn't be abnormal. but a lot of people say this particular hotel, the trump hotel in washington, is a shady area because foreign dignitaries or foreign governments or companies can try and do business there in order to gain favor with the president or his
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family. tell me how you see this. >> yes, what you just identified, this concern that foreign governments or corporations will try to create favor with the trumps by patr patronizing that hotel or any of the trump's businesses are a concern, and it is not limited to that one hotel. but in addition to the general concern, donald trump is landlord and tenant. >> right. because the agency of government that manages that property being the old post office, it's something that the president oversees. >> correct. that's accurate. and last week the agency, the general services agency, issued a decision that even though the contract, the lease that they have with the trumps, says that no elected official can benefit from the contract, they interpreted the contract so that it is okay, so that this elected
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official, donald trump, is benefiting from the contract. >> we probably haven't thought this all up, because we have never had to in this fashion, but at some point, we are probably not looking for laws that sqlify financially suessfeople from being president. so how do we structure these things? how do we think about it? >> that's exactly right. certainly, there have been other presidents and other high-level officials who have had great wealth. but we know with donald trump that he has wealth, but what we don't know is the extent of his debt. so i would just qualify that. what we used to have for about 20, 27 years or so, was the conflict of interest standards that apply to other government officials also apply to the president. but in 1989, congress changed the law at the request of president george herbert walker bush and didn't really explain why the conflict of interest law would exempt the president and the vice president. and frankly, i think that was a mistake that congress made in
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1989, and it needs to correct that mistake. >> this interesting myth, i'm a financial journalist, so the interesting myth that people say they do this for no salary or $1, that doesn't matter. ivanka trump isn't taking a salary, how significant is that? >> it is significant from a public relations point of view. i think many people in the public world, prior to the release of the records, indicates just how wealthy kushner and ivanka trump are. they might have thought that was significant. once they see the kind of wealth that these people have, the decision to forego a federal salary may not make that much of a difference. legally, it makes no difference at all. they are employees, they are subject to the conflicts standards and ethics rules. >> you made an interesting distinge a moment ago. the wealth often matters less than debt. so we don't have a clear picture of donald trump's wealth, which is unusual for a president, but we certainly don't have a clear picture of his indebtedness. that is part of a business, but
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it would be important to know if they are held by banks who may be looking for favor with the government or in negotiations with the government over penalties like deutsche bank or by governments like china. >> that is exactly correct. and there's one particular debt that he lists on his financial disclosure form from last year. it's over $50 million. we don't know how large it is. and he says he owes it to one of his llcs, one of his companies. but then the company must owe that money to someone else because he values the llct like less than $1,000. that is -- there is a mystery creditor out there. and we have no idea whether it's deutsche bank or a russian oligarch. we have no idea. >> this is relevant because let's just say, no allegations are being made here, but let's say it is deutsche bank. deutsche bank the in the midst of trying to get a settlement with the department of justice over some things that happen during the fastball cinancial c afterwards. that would be important to know if the president owes the bank
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money seeking a settlement, just as an example. >> as an example, that's exactly right. what the american public has a right to is the services of a president who is not conflicted. or at the very least, that we know what the conflicts are. and with donald trump, we don't know what the conflicts are. >> what about the argument that donald trump and his advisers made it's not a conflict? okay, there are loans here and there, it's not a conflict. i can manage that and make a decision or i can recuse myself or not be involved. is that likely? can that happen? >> it's accurate to say that we can't look inside the brain of the government officials, including president trump. we can't know exactly whether his decisions or his pressure on the justice department, for example, has been influenced by a debt that he owes. we may not be able to see the influence, but the reason we have conflict of interest standards is to remove those conflicts, remove those interests that can conflict with the public duty. so that we don't have to go inside someone's mind.
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>> and try to figure it out. great to see you. thank you for being with us. kathleen clark is a professor at the washington school of law. at the bottom of the screen, you can see it in the full screen, watching the senate judiciary committee discussing the supreme court nominee of neil gorsuch. the vote is expected to happen after every judiciary member has weighed in. we'll continue to watch that. you're watching msnbc. we'll be right back. what powers the digital world. communication. that's why a cutting edge university counts on centurylink to keep their global campus connected. and why a pro football team chose us to deliver fiber-enabled broadband to more than 65,000 fans. and why a leading car brand counts on us to keep their dealer network streamlined and nimble. businesses count on communication, and communication counts on centurylink.
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all right. right now we are watching the senate judiciary committee discussing the supreme court nomination of judge neil gorsuch. the vote is expected to happen after every judiciary member has weighed in. lindsey graham got a little heated a few minutes ago and said this. listen. >> the bottom line is, i don't think judge garland was treated different or unfairly than what y'all would have done. and let me just say this to your faces, if the role is reversed, i don't believe one minute you would have given the accommodation you're asking us to have given garland, given the behavior of what you have done in the past.
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so this idea that somehow if this happened in bush's last year, 43, you would have allowed him after the primary sean was afoot to pick somebody and put him on the court and defied history is just laughable to me, given what you've done. senator schumer and a few others led a wholesale filibuster of everything bush 43 in his first term. i was in the game of 14. we lost two judges as a result of the deal, but the extraordinary circumstances test held until 2013. and in 2013, with the concurrence of president obama, because i called him and asked him, please don't do this. he said, i've got to, y'all have been unfair to me. i don't think the facts pore that out, you changed the rules for everything below the supreme court. you had a chance to grab power and you grabbed it. so when you complain about garland, it's the arsonist complaining about the fire. >> joining me now for our daily
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briefing is nbc news senior political editor mark murray. mark, so we're getting that colorado senator bennett is a no on the filibuster. and will vote for closure. we're waiting to hear from chris coons, but he's the last hope. the republicans will have to so-call go nuclear. >> yes, they would have to say if they are supporting gorsuch's nomination and then if they support the filibuster. going to what we have seen over the last 16 years is an erosion of norms when it comes to the judicial filibuster. back in 2001, with george w. bush after he won, democrats started to filibuster some of his lower court judges. then in 2013 after barack obama won re-election, we saw senate republicans do the same even
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though democrats had 55 senate seats and barack obama won the 2012 election with 51% of the vote. and then, he was referring to the merrick garland supreme court nomination. now we get to where donald trump's first supreme court nomination has a majority of support given republicans 52-48 majority, but that doesn't seem to have 60 votes. and we'll see the nuclear option being deployed. >> well, what happens? there is all sorts of talk, including from republicans, they don't want to see this happen, because it erodes one more norm at the senate. but in the end, if they go nuclear and decide that you can clear a supreme court nominee with 51 votes in the senate, that applies to everybody for the rest of hisry hisryry or do get changed back? >> you can rewrite the rules
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with a simple majority. but the one reason there's a 60-vote is to foster consensus to say, we folks in the united states senate are different from the house of representatives where you need the simple majority, that's the people's house and the faster house that the founders envisioned, the senate is slower, you need the consensus and collegiality. if this turns out like we think it's going to, it will end the collegiality when it comes to judicial nominations. >> we may have news on this within the hour. we're waiting to hear from democratic senator chris coons. any minute at the white house, president trump meets with the president of egypt. he's the first egyptian leader to visit the white house since the 2011 revolution known as the arab spring. the white house is betting it can reboot trained relationships with the country. and that could be a dangerous move. we'll talk about that when we come back. jack be nimble, jack be quick, jack knocked over a candlestick
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whoever threw it has to go get it. not me! somebody will get it... ♪ (dog barking) anyone can dream. making it a reality is the hard part. from the b-2 to the upcoming b-21, northrop grumman stealth bombers give america an advantage in a turbulent world. and we're looking for a few dreamers to join us. it is a huge week for diplomacy for the president. russia continues to be a big focus for the white house. joining me onset to talk about russian investigations, the former fbi agent frank montoya
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who served as the national head of counter intelligence for the u.s. government. frank, good to see you, thank you for being with us. >> you bet. >> we saw a tweet this morning from the president. my alarm just goes off in the morning to wake me up when the president tweets. @foxnews from multiple sources, there was electronic survey lons of trump and people close to trump. this is unprecedented, @fbi. the @fbi caught my attention. it almost seems like the president is tweeting out to everybody, but particularly the fbi, what is the context there, do your job? >> great question. that is something we're trying to figure out. and i say we because i just left, but we know what we're doing. it is about conducting an investigation. and if that is something that did happen, we'll get to the bottom of it. >> what hinders this investigation at this point? because what we're seeing, what our viewers are seeing, is all the stuff going on at the white house and oall the stuff going n at capitol hill, be through is a separate investigation. can that be continued?
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>> it must and the answer is yes. the challenge is something that we do, it is the most complicated and complex things we do in regards to white collar and dismantling drug networks or catching fugitives for that matter. and the reason why is because it muste done in secret. you'ryre ting get people to talk to you and to come forward with information of value. and the last thing they want to do is be exposed. and that is a difficult thing. there's also just volumes of information that have to be analyzed. and it makes it very difficult to proceed when the spotlight is shining. >> this is tricky, because the american public would like answers on this. and then we want the house and the senate to call witnesses. and we want open hearings, not closed hearings, but the fbi doesn't work that way. and the fbi is the lead agency in trying to figure this out. >> that's absolutely correct. it is difficult because you want to protect the integrity of the investigation and make sure that people are comfortable coming
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forward. those who may testify and perhaps more importantly those who are going to provide the background kind of information that we need to pursue leads. >> all right. james comey, again, probably half the country thinks he's a highly politicized guy, some hillary clinton, others say he's doing his job. he's stuck between a rock and a hard place. now everybody wants to see what is being investigated to try to double-check the fbi's work. but at what point does the political pressure affect the ability of the fbi to do its work? >> it's more of a frustration than anything else. it doesn't drive anything. and when you look at somebody like jim comey, the fact of the matter is that he's going to do what is right. i am biased because i work closely with him, but he's a man of sterling integrity. he's the guy for the job. and it's really about resisting that pressure. but at the same time, yeah, there's going to be some frustration that we can't just do the job and let the cards fall where they may.
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>> what happens when there's pressure to do the job fast? really, we want answers faster than, i'm sure the fbi wants it really fast, but sometimes the investigations as jim comey said to congress, take years. >> they can. that's correct. and it's not that you resist it, you just ignore it. you continue to press forward. you continue to check the block, so to speak, to perform all the steps that you need. because on the one hand, this is an intelligence gathering operation activity. on the other hand, if there is evidence or indications of criminal activity, we've got to build that case. and if you don't do it properly, if you don't do it by the numbers, if you don't meet the elements of the crime, you're not going to have a case. >> frank, stay with us. we're going to broaden out the discussion. president trump is welcoming egyptian president al-sisi. the two leaders are expected to talk about the fight against
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terrorism and the refugee crisis. but critics are concerned about his poor record regarding human rights abuses. still, the white house released a statement on friday saying, president trump aims to reaffirm the deep and abiding u.s. commitment to egypt's security, stability and prosperity. joining the conversation now is politico senior affairs correspondent, michael crowley, and steven cook, with he mere, a senior fellow from middle eastern studies at the council for foreign relations. steven, let me start with you, we have groups down there protesting for and against egypt's president. egypt is a strong force in the region. this is not a government that has been transparent. they have jailed opposition members. how are we supposed to think about egypt. >> well, we should think about egypt in the way we have been thinking about egypt over the course of the last five or six years since the uprising.
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this is a country that is unstable. repression and authoritarianism. there's been a lot of blood shed in egypt. especially the economic dimension, this is a country that is unstable. >> right. it's not fully transparent even on the economic side. you wrote an artic in salon entitled "egypt goes from bad to worse under sisi." that's now how this administration seems to see it. >> no, this administration wants to go back to a policy that is similar to the policy that the u.s. pursued when hosni mubarak was in power. that is one of close cooperation on security, the military and close cooperation keeping peace with israel. i don't think they can go back to that. as i said a moment ago. egypt is incredibly unstable. who knows what's going to happen with president sisi?
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there have been two changes leadership in the last six years in egypt. leadership can change a year from now, two years from now. >> all the more reason, michael crowley, you wrote trump to welcome egypt's dictator, critics worry the president has a love for tyrants and little interest in appropriating human rights and democracy. obama didn't invite him to the white house because of those very concerns. if you're listening to steven's point, maybe you want to build a relationship with egypt because and you stable egypt is a bad egypt. >> egypt presents one of the hardest choices for an american president trying to balance values and security. you have a dictator who took power in a military coup, has conducted historic crackdown there, one of the most repressive regimes now in the entire world. at the same time, he's basically acting in what we would call pro-american ways, allied with us against the islamic state. also has beak outlawed the
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muslim brotherhood, the government that he overthrew. figures in the trump administration as opposed to the islamist anti-muslim brotherhood movement and see it as a big threat. so the question is, how much are you willing to swallow your opinions about this authoritarian anti-democratic crack down in the interests of working with a guy who shares your goals particularly when it comes to stability in the middle east and fighting islamists and isis in the muslim brotherhood but quickly let me add, there are people who say it's not a choice. actually our interests and security are on the same page. this crackdown is so extreme it's going to breed further radicalism. that is a compelling argument for this administration to consider i think. >> north korea, steven, president trump is meeting with chinese leader later this week. we got a problem with north korea. you know, the world tends to think north korea operates in a box defined by the chinese but
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kim jong-un seems to be operating outside that box. we need the chinese to tell him to stop. otherwise we have to start doing some of the things that people don't think we want to do. >> i appreciate the question, ali, but don't know as much about north korea and the chinese as i think the question ggests. fr what i understand from the papers that i read, we do need the chinese. otherwise, we're going to find ourselves in a confrontation with the north koreans. >> michael, what do you think. >> we talk tough with the chinese all the time. the fact is, if china doesn't solve the north korea problem, it is going to fall to the united states and that could mean some sort of a nuclear war. >> in theory, it could. i just said that egypt was one of the hardest questions in american foreign policy but you may have just brought out an even harder one. china, our relationship with china is so important. they are such an economic powerhouse, increasingly militarily powerful. it's a very fragile one. we have a lot of areas of
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differences. then you have north korea developing a nuclear program and trying to develop missiles that could strike the u.s. with nuclear warheads. we could trial to pressure china to pressure north korea but then we're endangering our one-on-one relationship with china. if we try to go around china and start a fight with north korea, china's furious and it blows up the china relationship and might blow up more. north korea could lash out militarily, hit south korea, hit american troops in the region, hit japan. then you have a really scary conflict. trump administration is saying they're going to find a new way to break the impasse. the obama people didn't do it right. i don't think there's an easy right and i don't think they're going to come up with one in the foreseeable future, unfortunately. >> we're awaiting the arrival of president sisi at the white house. there are groups still protesting. they're out of the camera shot. what's the best thing that can happen at this meeting? >> i think the best thing that can happen is that the president of the united states at least privately raises these questions
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of authoritarianism and human rights violations. clearly the trump administration is looking for a reset with egypt an the focus on military and security and how the united states can help their economy. >> there's some resistance, president sisi would like the in us him brotherhood like the united states to call them a terrorist organization. i think donald trump would like that, too. he's got real reasons not to do that because the muslim brotherhood has a part in governance in neighboring countries. >> that's absolutely right. it is one of the largest and most important opposition and in some places ruling or taking part in government and other countries around the region. the other reen not to the designate them as a terrorist organization is it puts the united states squarely in the middle of another country's conflict. there are a lot of views what the brotherhood represents. it's a conflict we don't understand completely and there's no reason for us to be involved in it. >> thanks very much for joining us. michael crowley, frank montoya
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all right. moments from now at the white house, president trump is going to be welcoming egypt's leader abdul fat at that time el-sisi. he is the first leader of egypt to visit the white house since egypt's 2011 revolution. there you see the president greeting general former general sisi right there at the white house. he came to power after a
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military coup. his regime has been accused of widespread human rights abuses including crackdowns on protest are, government opposition, political opponents and journalists. we will watch with interest how that discussion goes as general former general sisi, now presidencicy enters the white house. thank you for watching this hour of msnbc live. you can find me on twitter, facebook and instagram gram @ali velshi. right now, andrea mitchell reports. >> right now, going nuclear. more democrats announce they will filibuster supreme court nominee neil gorsuch despite the republican threat to change senate rules, the so-called nuclear option. >> unfortunately, based on judge gorsuch's record at the department of justice, his tenure on bench, his appearance before the senate, and his written questions for the record, i cannot support this nomination. >> it certainly is the end o