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tv   For the Record With Greta  MSNBC  May 25, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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will be my guest tomorrow right here on mtp daily. coming up next we have for the record with greta, it starts right now. my good friend stephanie roll is working. >> thank you, charles, very much. working sun up and sundown. >> work overtime. >> you got it. >> thanks, chuck. good evening, i'm stephanie sitting in for greta. and we have breaking news on president trump's travel ban. the justice department will appeal to the supreme court. this comes just after a federal appeals court ruled to keep the ban on hold. the court saying the ban, quote, drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination. nbc news justice correspondent pete williams joins me. pete, what's going on here? >> we have a ruling from the fourth circuit saying they agree with a judge in maryland that the challenger should be able to get a stay on enforcement of this revised executive order that was to go into effect in
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mid-march. and a lot of the case had to do with whether it's based on religious discrimination. the challengers claim that it was. they said all you have to do is look at all the statements that donald trump made during the campaign, especially when he called basically for a ban on muslim immigration. so, the legal issue here, stephanie, was do those statements by the candidate count? the government said no. the only thing that matters is what is in the executive order itself, and statements the president made about the importance of this order to national security, but the appeals court said, we think the judge was right to say that it's proper to look at what drove this order, and they believe that it was religious discrimination that did. so, now as you know, the justice department says they think this decision is wrong, and that they are going to seek review, is the way attorney general sessions put it, to the supreme court. so, the government has two options here. it can simply appeal this to the supreme court and say, we want you to hear this case, or they
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can say, in the meantime, we want you -- and these are excerpts from the ruling today -- and they can say in the meantime we want you to put a stay on these lower court rulings. let us enf the ruling for the time being while it's under review. the problem with that, it seems to me, is that, remember, the first executive order was in january saying we need 90 days. this second one was to go into effect in march saying, we need a 90-day hold. so, by the time it gets to the supreme court, it's that 90 days is going to elapse again. that may weaken the government's claim. on the other hand, the supreme court tends to be deferential to presidents when they talk about national security. doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. so, i don't know what the justice department's next step is going to be precisely here, and i suspect they haven't decided it either. and then one other point to make. remember, there's another case in another appeals court on another ruling by a judge. this one in hawaii, that also put a stop to enforcement of
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the -- of this revised immigration order. so, we've got two cases here. and i assume the administration is going to appeal both of them. if they both go against them. >> pete, what can you tell us about the fourth circuit? in the past when the ruling has gone against the president, he has claimed that games are being played and they're hand picking courts that are more lenient, more liberal. what can you tell us about fourth circuit? >> well, the fourth circuit used to be among the more conservative courts in the country. it's not in i more. the ruling was 10-3 dissenters were all by republican presidents. i guess that is not a surprise and it wasn't a surprise based on listening to the argument in this case, which the majority of the court seemed to be skeptical of the government's claims here. so, the problem for the white house is they've got a lot of courts. the 9th circuit, the president likes to pick on, this is the fourth circuit, too. i note neither the white house statement nor the justice department's statement makes any derogatory comment about the court. >> all right, pete.
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i've got to take you now from the white house to the world stage. president trump at the nato summit in brussels. this comment is certainly getting a lot of attention today. >> nato members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations. but 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defense. this is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the united states, and i never asked once what the new nato headquarters cost. i refuse to do that. but it is beautiful. >> the president making an awkward joke about collecting money from allies and just minutes later, this one's amazing. you see him apparently pushing,
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physically pushing the prime minister of monte nshlgro out o way. today the president had this to say about russia. >> the nato of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration as well as threats from russia and on nato's eastern and southern borders. >> we're going to break this down. nicolas burns is former u.s. ambassador to nato. john mclauchlin is former acting director for the cia. ambassador burns, let's start with you. did president trump squander an opportunity to reassure allies that we've got their backs? and i'm talking about eastern european countries who are worried about russia? >> well, i think he did miss calculate today. look, i think that president trump is right to put this issue of defense spending on the table. the european allies, germany,
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italy, spain, the netherlands, canada, need to spend more on defense, but there is a place for that and not a place. he said this at a ceremony to dedicate the new nato building, but to really commemorate 9/11 and the losses there and he was talking about the manchester tacks. it wasn't the right place. he had a prite dinner tonight with the nat allies. that would have been a much more effective way to do this. if you embarrass and try to humiliate your fellow nato leaders in public, you're not likely to get their cooperation. and finally i'd say that the president did not reaffirm today what every american president has reaffirmed since harry true man, that we will be true to our defense obligations to our nato allies under article 5 of the nato treaty, an attack on one is an attack on all. the white house had background he was going to do it and he didn't. that's the major headline in europe today, doubts about american credibility and american leadership of nato. a sad day, i think, for the united states. >> that seems almost the bigger
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headline. to your point, john, article 5, is that a bigger issue? because if we dwell on should the president have said something at dinner or during the speech, this is inappropriate, or that, we're never going to get appropriate out of president trump. but the article 5 issue, how unsettling is it for europe? >> it's very unsettling, stephanie. and nick has this exactly right, as i would expect. i was in ukraine and latvia several months ago and i can tell you what these european leaders were hoping to hear from him today was not only an affirmation of article 5, that is everyone comes to everyone else's defense when attacked, but also some clarity on where he stands with regard, for example, to ukraine, france and germany have taken the lead in negotiating the fragile agreement that is not well observed with regard to ukraine. and the baltic countries, i can
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assure you having been in latvia, are very nervous about what russia is up to. i think they were looking for an affirmation that, a, the president understands all of this, and, b, is supportive along the lines i just mentioned. nato is in the midst of its largest forward deployment since the end of the cold war with separate battalions in the three baltic countries and in poland. more than 20 nato countries have been involved with us in afghanistan. so, i'm sure they were hoping to hear his views on those issues. >> ambassador, do you believe president trump reassured theresa may or other european leaders as it relates to leaks? we've kind of gone back and forth earlier this morning. we had heard that the u.k. was uncomfortable sharing intelligence information as it related to manchester because of information that was leaked to our press. but it's not just those kind of leaks that are unsettling. we know the president himself, whether it was sharing sensitive information that we got from
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israel to russian leaders, or talking to the president of the philippines about nuclear subs near korea. so, did today, did his performance in any way comfort or reaure our european or nato allies that they are in good hands? >> i don't think so, unfortunately. i think president trump made the right statement on the specific issue of the leaks about the manchester attacks. he had to do that and he had to reassure the prime minister of the u.k. but, you know, i think in a larger sense, i always thought this was going to be the most difficult day of the trip, the entire trip for president trump. because every american president in our lifetime has been the leader of the west, the leader of nato. by talking about our common values, by standing up to russia, by reassuring the allies that we have their back. and the europeans didn't hear any of that from donald trump today. they've not heard any criticism of president putin for the issue
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that john mclauchlin mentioned, his annexation of crimea, the division of eastern ukraine by the eastern forces, threat to the baltic allies. the europeans don't always agree with us, but they want the united states to defend them, to be with them, and they didn't get that. and it's a sad day. when most people on both sides think of angela merkel, i think would have lost credibility and this trip, this was a very rocky and i think poor day for the united states at nato and at the e.u. >> what do you think putin is saying today, john? >> well, i think putin is as he has been for some weeks now, enjoying himself, just watching this spectacle because, you know, much of what the president has done here, these are unforced errors, these are things that could easily be avoided by listening to anyone who has had any experience in this field. i actually think that an
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important point right now is that overseas, america first is not the right way to approach problems. this is a time, i think, when because the problems are so complex, this is a time when alliance management is probably the first requirement for an american president. that will not be a slogan that wins elections, but it is the sort of thing that a president has to focus on now. and i think today he was not sounding like the kind of leader -- >> wait, john, i want to make sure i understand, then. shoving the leader of montenegro out of the way so the president could stand first is not reassuring other allies? >> i respect regrettably that is going to be the iconic image of this trip as video is often so powerful. it's already gone viral. europeans who are, you know, inevitably going to do deep psycho analysis on this will kind of see it as somehow
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indicative of basic personality traits, and not representative of ideal leadership qualities. >> well, at the very least, it was something else. gentlemen, you so much for joining me. i appreciate it. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> coming up, a different kind of body language. body slam. it was a take down that took place with a congressional candidate and a reporter. the candidate charged with assaulting an american reporter. we are going to go live to montana where it is election day. plus, why did president trump's old campaign manager paul manafort advise the trump team on the russia scandal while the fbi was investigating his ties to russia? we're going to speak to the reporter who broke that story. and are the president's aides trying to keep him too busy to tweet? a new report on the trump team's new strategy to limit the president's screen time. it's amazing. i feel like i'm talking about my kids on that one.
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please stay with us. this is for the record. d and invade your personal space to run some things by you. it's going to look like i'm listening but i'm actually just paying attention to nugget. cool. i'll pretend you're answering the questions i have. i'll scroll through my feed and avoid making eye contact. i'm just going to keep hovering. wouldn't it be great if everyone said what they meant? hovering away. boo boo boo [making noise at nugget] the citi® double cash card does. it lets you earn double cash back with 1% when you buy, and 1% as you pay. the citi® double cash card double means double. abreak through your allergies.? try new flonase sensimist allergy relief instead of allergy pills. it's more complete allergy relief in a gentle mist experience you'll barely feel. using unique mistpro technology, new flonase sensimist delivers a gentle mist to help block six key inflammatory substances that cause your symptoms. most allergy pills only block one. and six is greater than one. new flonase sensimist changes everything.
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welcome back. you're watching for the record with greta. i'm stephanie, and it is election night in montana and by now you probably know about this very special election. 24 hours ago, a remarkable altercation took place. the republican running for the open seat there, greg gianforte was charged with assaulting a reporter. listen to this audio. >> i'll talk to you about that later. >> i'm just curious.
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>> last guy did the same dam thing. asked a question which is what reporters do. you're in montana where the incident occurred. the polls are going to close in a few hours. this altercation happened less than 24 hours ago. what is your sense about how dramatic this incident was? is it going to affect how the election turns out? >> well, stephanie, this event definitely got everyone's attention here in montana. it was the front page of every paper, the top story of local news. in a fittingly bizarre end to this bizarre saga, my reporting today suggests it is entirely possible this won't affect the outcome of this race at all tonight. and here's why. almost two-thirds of voters in no montana vote early. those votes are already cast. i spent a good portion of my day at a site. it is entirely unscientific.
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no one i talked today told me they changed their votes because of what happened. most of the people, this incident last night only seemed to underline what they already fe about their candidate. take a listen. >> some people are pretty hard-pressed with their feelings and some people think it's okay to do something like that. >> what do you make of that? >> not raised that way. >> so, i'm just looking forward to doing whatever i can to help trump out and putting republicans in. >> i'm quite embarrassed actually that this is the state of american politics today. >> it didn't make me question my vote. i think he made a mistake in not holding his cool. >> stephanie, if rob quist, the democrat is going to pull an upset victory, while the vote was close, a windy the democrat would be an upset. it will be the voices you didn't hear in the tape. voices who are gianforte
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supporters, soft supporters got up this morning, saw it was snowing out w all this craziness, i might stay home. that would be the thing that would tilt this race to rob quist. it's not a fast counting state. it might be a long night tonight before we find out exactly how this whole thing plays out. stephanie? >> what by a different reaction? did you speak to anyone today that maybe wasn't thinking about voting but after seeing something like that said, i've got to raise my hand and get out there and vote? because you can register today. >> reporter: that's right. there is same-day registration today. i didn't run into anybody who specifically said that, but i will say this race has been maxed out on television in montana for the last couple of weeks. the amount of money in this race and the amount of exposure is totally unusual for montana politics. so, the idea that people wouldn't have already been exposed to the candidates and wouldn't have already formed at least some opinion before today i think is another one of those reasons you might have most folks already kind of set in their decisions.
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>> it's extraordinary. all right, i have to take this inside. if gianforte wins, we know he's headed to congress. speaker ryan says he should apologize, but ryan is still backing him. take a listen. >> the gentleman apologize, i think he should apologize. i know he has his own version and i'm sure he's going to have 0 more to say, but there's no call for this no matter what on any circumstance. the people of the state of montana are going to decided to who they will send to congress. >> so, paul ryan called out his behavior, but at the same time he will welcome him to congress. and it is up to paul ryan. paul ryan could say if he doesn't want to, if the behavior was too inappropriate, and that was the theme from republicans across the board today. >> we didn't handle core somebody, body slam them when i went to school. i missed that course. i'm sorry, i missed it. >> the left has precipitated this tense confrontational approach throughout the country
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in recent months. >> i believe we should all treat the press with respect. i try to lead by example. i hope the republican is successful today because his views are the views of the people of montana. >> it should also be civil. >> if he wins tonight? >> yes. >> confrontational and physical are not the same thing. while the fight put a national spotlight on this local election and asked whether president trump stands by his endorsement of gianforte, a spokesperson tells nbc the white house has, quote, no comment. but with president trump engulfed in controversy himself, the outcome could have a very big national impact. and with that part of the story, steve is here. steve, walk us through these numbers. >> yeah, well, stephanie, that is the big backdrop for all this. it's donald trump, it's the state of his presidency, it's that question we've been asking as the controversy has gotten louder and louder.
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republicans, how long will they stick by him? and the dirty secret about politicians is they are always looking for signals from the electorate that tell them, should i stay loyal, should i bolt, and we've got a signal potentially out of montana in this special election, in a couple special elections right now, in just how decisive can those special elections be? to give you an example, we're going to take a trip right now in the nbc news time machine. we're going to go back to 1974. remember what was going on in 1974? watergate, and republicans back then didn't know, do i stay loyal to my party's president, richard nixon, or is this getting so toxic that i have to bolt. there was a special election in ohio, republican district, the democrat won in an upset. here's what nbc news said. >> democrat thomas made president nixon the main issue in his campaign. according to a local poll, anti-nixon sentiment more than any other factor is what won the election for luke.
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>> you can see this was the headline out there in cincinnati after that nixon hurt. that was the republican candidate right there. that special election, that really was the thing that gelled republicans in washington all the way back in 1974 to say richard nixon's politically toxic. it is time to cut him loose. it's time to separate ourselves. and that really is the backdrop right now for these special elections. donald trump republicans are seeing all these worrying signs for them in the polls about donald trump. they want to see, you put it to a vote in a state like montana, a state trump won by 21 points over hillary clinton last year. if the democrat were to win this thing, especially given so many of the votes were cast before that incident last night, that would be a very strong signal that the ground, i should say, in politics is shifting a little bit since last november. i think that's the biggest thing that republican office holders are looking at as they try to consider their posture towards
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donald trump to take. is standing by donald trump going to put me at risk in 2018. >> but from a democrat perspective, have the democrats done enough in this particular election? we know president trump himself did a robo call. donald trump, jr. was there, mike pence was there. paul ryan's pac spent something like 2 million bucks. what would the democrats do if they thought this was a seat that would go to a republican, did democrats come into play before the last 24 hours? >> they put some real money out there. if you look at the type of democrat who is going to go into montana from outside the state who might sway voters, you have a lot of traditional leaders of the national party. they say this is a more conservative libertarian state. you don't want like a hillary clinton coming in. you know who they wanted? bernie sanders and bernie sanders came out there for rob quist, the democratic nominee. you have to have the right kind of surrogate for a state that voted for trump. they think bernie sanders was that guy. that's also a preview of something i think we're going to see in 2018. states like montana where democrats want to play, they're going to be leaning on bernie
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sanders a lot. >> if for some reason or if quist takes this, can republicans shift responsibility and say, we would have had it if it wasn't for the assault? >> they will try to, but keep in mind two things here. number one, if this is even close coming down from a 21-point donald trump win, that is significant. and, again, probably two-thirds, three-fourths of all the votes that are going to be counted tonight were cast before this happened. so, if you even have a close result, that tells you that people who didn't know anything about this assault were already voting in a very close race against that republican. >> gianforte better get ready if he wins. a microphone to the face, you get a lot of that. you know, running in montana but he's from my home state of new jersey. leave it to a guy from jersey to go with a body slam. >> you said it not me. >> i can. it's my home state. steve, thank you. we're going to take a break. president trump felt another legal loss. we're going to sflan that. and did president trump's campaign rhetoric lead to that alleged violent body slam?
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we know the president has said a lot of things against the media. >> if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? seriously. okay. just knock the hill -- i promise you, i will pay for the legal fees. i promise. way to say this. it's over. i've found a permanent escape from monotony. together, we are perfectly balanced, our senses awake, our hearts racing as one. i know this is sudden, but they say: if you love something... set it free. see you around, giulia ♪ but when we brought our daughter home, that was it. now i have nicoderm cq. the nicoderm cq patch with unique extended release technology helps prevent your urge to smoke all day. it's the best thing that ever happened to me. every great why needs a great how.
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welcome back. you're watching msnbc. i'm stephanie. breaking tonight, senate intelligence leaders now getting blanket authority to issue subpoenas in the ongoing russia investigation. senator richard burr announcing it today, that after politico reporting former campaign chief paul manafort advised the trump team on the russia scandal. manafort reportedly calling trump chief of staff reince priebus to push back against the mounting russia controversy about a week before
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inauguration. the "the new york times" reporting american spies collected information last summer showing top russian officials discussing how to influence trump through his advisors, the advisors named, paul manafort and fired national security advisor michael flynn. ken vogel is politico's chief investigative reporter and wrote that story on paul manafort. also shane harris with the "wall street journal." ken, i want to start with you. in your reporting, walk us through this. what's the update? >> well, paul manafort, we understood, called reince priebus after these dossiers came out that indicated that -- amgd, unsubstantiated allegations that russia had compromising information on donald trump and there was also come pro prizing information between trump's aides including paul manafort and pro russian figures, manafort called reince priebus to tell him the allegaons at least as they
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pertained to him were totally false and he had other thoughts about inaccuracies in other parts of the dossier, and suggested that the white house use those inaccuracies or alleged inaccuracies to undermine the credibility of not only this entire dossier, but also the fbi investigation because, of course, the fbi had obtained those dossiers and, in fact, briefed then president obama and then president-elect trump on the contents of these dossiers. manafort thought this might be a way to undermine the entire investigation. >> all right. in terms of credibility being undermines, is sean spicer's, after inauguration when sean spicer had been asked about paul manafort, he sort of framed it, oh, that guy, what's his name, didn't even want to say his name. he was with us for just a short period of time. really under playing paul manafort's role. if paul manafort was speaking to reince priebus a week before inauguration, then clearly sean spicer was incorrectly characterizing his relationship
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currently with the administration. >> yeah, and, in fact, one of the things we understand that the administration is nervous about is the comey memo that you mention that the senate and house demanded but the fbi is sort of dragging their feet on providing to the senate and house intel committees, that they might characterize in a way that priebus would not want his conversations with the fbi with both comey and comey's deputy director about a request that the fbi come out and sort of rebut some of the characterizations that were out there about communications between trump's team and russia including possibly manafort. >> i want both of you to stay put. we have breaking news to report. nbc news reporting jared kushner, son-in-law and senior advisor to president trump is under fbi scrutiny in the russia probe. we have a lot to cover on this story. we're going to dig into it. jare kushner, we know senior
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advisor to the president, hs been put in charge of many things the president in a somewhat serious way has put jared in charge of achieving peace in the middle east. jared runs the office of innovation, he's also been involved with relations with china. so, he has a very, very significant role in the white house as does his wife ivanka trump. so, as we are breaking this news now, jared kushner now under fbi scrutiny in that russia probe according to at least one official. interesting, because previously it had been reported that very few people knew that president trump planned to fire james comey. many members of the senior administration, including steve bannon, only learned about the comey firing watching it on television. it had been reported possibly only jared, ivanka, maybe reince were privy. and as we learn more about this, jared being under fbi investigation, it begs the question did the comey firing
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have any ties to this. interesting. we're going to take a quick break -- we're going to stay on this. we are going to stay on this. ken, i want to bring you back in. obviously we're just breaking this now. is this a surprise to you? obviously we've heard this sort of swirling about. is this a surprise? >> well, we haven't confirmed that, but with our own reporting. however, i will say that the washington post reported last week that a current top advisor to trump was the subject of some fbi scrutiny. there was certainly a lot of speculation about who that was. i think certain people certainly looked at and there was a feeling it could be kushner. kushner did, in fact, meet with the russian ambassador sergey kislyak. that was something not revealed at the time, but something house and senate investigators wanted to ask him about. and then as you mention, stephanie, kushner had a front-row seat to the handling by this white house of the jut
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any from the fbi and from the senate and house intelligence committees. and as we see, some of these inquiries start to look at how the white house handled the investigations. it's potentially going to draw in more and more top aides, kushner obviously in prime position as you suggested to weigh in on critical decisions related to the handling, including the dismissal of james comey. >> shane, i'd like you to react to this. i realize you're just learning this information now, but, you know, all along the administration, we had heard having jared and ivanka by president trump's side was a positive because they were a moderating force, a voice in the president's ear. it was very puzzling the way president trump so poorly handled firing james comey, not going through the official channels, having his former body guard, now official white house employee, hand deliver the note, for james comey to have to learn about it from a tv behind him while he was giving a speech. many people saying, well, if jared and ivanka knew, why didn't the president handle it
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better? for you, does this make you believe, well, maybe they were comfortable with the way the president handled it, seeing that it was jared possibly in the hot seat. >> well, the first question that comes to my mind is did the white house or the president or jared kushner have any indication that the fbi was looking into him. what role did that play in jared kushner's recommendation to his father-in-law to fire the fbi director. as ken mentioned, the post had reported a little bit of this in recent days. we have not confirmed this ourselves. it is not terribly surprising the fbi might be looking at him. one thing we reported about a week ago was that senate investigators are actually looking at financial information from the treasury department to try and understand the web of companies around the trump organization and how they might connect to russian interests. and we were told by somebody with knowledge of that investigation that the kushner companies might actually be a place that investigators wanted to look to see what its o potential ties were in this mix. certainly as a political matter,
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now this is touching an fbi inquiry touching somebody extremely close to the president, perhaps no one closer than the president's own daughter. so, if this is confirmed, it's highly, highly significant. >> i warrant to bring in ken delaney, and nbc news intelligence national security reporter. ken, walk us through this. jared kushner now under fbi scrutiny in the russia probe according to officials, what exactly does scrutiny mean? as i read on, investigators say kushner had significant information relevant to their inquiry. that does not mean they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him. so, is this just jared knows more info? >> that's a great question, stephanie. we're trying to be very careful about how we present this. you know, paul manafort and mike flynn are subjects of the investigation. that means that it's possible investigators suspect them of crimes. they have been served with grand jury subpoenas or at least subpoenas have been issued for their records. jared kushner is in a different
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category here. the term person of interest has been used, it has no legal meaning. we're just made to understand that the fbi believes he has material information that is important to this russia probe, whether it's documents, whether it's meetings he's been in, and they want to know what that is. they want to look more into his activities and what he knows, stephanie. >> we do know that during the transition, jared and mike flynn together met with kislyak, the former ambassador, at trump tower and that was not disclosed. he clearly didn't walk in through the front door, and it had also been reported that as it relates to mike flynn getting the senior nsa post despite president obama warning president trump and others including chris christie. it had been reported jared and ivanka had a blind spot for mike flynn because of the loyalty he had shown to the president. does this take that blind spot to more aggressive level? because blind spot almost seems like a term of endearment. i've got a blind spot in restaurants for my kids behaving
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badly. but if jared kushner actually knew more information, problematic information, that does put him in a different position. >> well, it feels like that's a question investigators have. it's certainly a question that congressional aides i've talked to who are familiar with the senate investigation, for example, have. and in addition to the meetings you mentioned, there is a meeting jared kushner had with a russian bank that's connected in some way to russian intelligence. none of this on its face means anything criminal. it means that there are questions about what he knows and questions about his connections to the russian ambassador and his meetings and the fbi wants to know more and congress wants to know more. >> ken, i want you to stay with me. joining us on the phone now, ron hosco, former assistant fbi director. ron, i realize you are just learning this information real-time as we are. what is your reaction? >> well, first, stephanie, you know there are some terms of art that are relevant to this breaking information.
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being under fbi scrutiny implies that you may be the suspect or a subject of an fbi investigation. if he merely has information or they think he merely has information that may be relevant to the inquiry -- to the broader inquiry, that's something entirely different. so, i think, you know, we're going to need to know more before we can define, really, our terms and what we're talking about here. obviously being a suspect or a subject of an fbi inquiry is a quite serious matter. and you're in a far different position in that posture than you are if they think you're just merely a witness and may have relevant information. >> then, ron, given the level of seriousness, without knowing more details than that, how much more difficult is it now to appoint a new head of the fbi? >> well, i think it is more diffict because all of us are going to be watching to see is
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this someone that the president thinks he can influence, thinks -- is that his intent, to get someone who is malleable enough to do what the president presumably wants done with this investigation? and it's going to be all the more important that the person selected and nominated and presumably taking over for the -- in the director position has this firm steely independence and the facts -- and this is a proven track record, right? we're not talking about somebody who says they will. i want to see somebody who has shown they will. and i think it's more important to have that independence than ever. >> what happens to jared kushner? if all we know is that he's under fbi scrutiny, does he go back to work at the white house tomorrow like hunky-dory, no problem? we had learned from "the new york times" there was obviously a rift between jared kushner and steve bannon, sort of that steve bannon camp had put out there that jared could be a big
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distraction. does jared go back to work tomorrow, no big deal? >> well, time will tell. but, you know, my belief is here, as with others who have been named in this probe, the ones that are closest to the knowledge of their own prosecutive risk are themselves. these are conversations between them and their attorneys and mr. kushner may be -- may not be complicity in anything, may or may not be a fact witness against someone else. may have relevant information or may be totally disconnected from this. that, first of all, is a conversation between him and his counsel to really understand the scope of his relationships, what he knows about others. and then i think we'll see the response coming fmis -- him and his attorney as to the degree of cooperation that may be forthcoming. >> shane, how much pressure is there at this point?
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there is so much smoke buildup every day. we're gagging on the amount of smoke. how much pressure is there to find the fire? >> oh, i think there's enormous pressure. i think investigators have been pushing aggressively on that. sources i have talked to involved in the various investigations believe that they will find something. it's not clear what they've found yet, but they're taking this very seriously. and you see this with congress moving with subpoenas and getting information from the treasury department. now news that possibly the president's son-in-law is implicated in this. this is a very serious investigation, and jim comey, the former fbi director when he confirmed it publicly, clearly indicated the fbi was treating it as such. and mr. mccabe, the deputy fbi director, has also said it's a priority. so, i don't think anybody should presume that this investigation is not trying to head towards some kind of a conclusion. we're just not there yet. >> if we don't find smoke at the end of this, then what? i mean, what will happen between
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the president, the intelligence community, the fbi? we know that above being a republican or a democrat, which the president once was, trump being a trump and his family is the most important to him, what kind of reaction do we think we're going to get out of the president? you know, we mentioned earlier that president trump's advisors are trying to keep the screen time away from him, keep his phone away from him so he can't be tweeting. the president has to be irate over this news. what do you think? >> right. this news is breaking obviously as he is in italy. it's past midnight there. so, i imagine he'll probably have a long night. look, the president has been very consistent in what he thinks about this investigation. he's called it a witch hunt. he has said that he fired the fbi director with the fake russia investigation in mind when he did it. i can't imagine that he will take it more seriously because it's now implicating his son-in-law. but to your point, we know he's expressed a lot of frustration that he's tried to get intelligence officials at the highest levels to bat these
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stories down publicly. i think we can safely presume that his reaction to this will be a pretty strong one and it will be pretty upsetting to hear this news. and that he'll continue to come out and blast the investigation as misguided and as fake news. >> joining us now on the phone, matt miller who is spokesman for the justice department under attorney general holder, matt, what's your thought here? >> you know, this is obviously very damaging for the white house. it brings this investigation not just into the white house, but into the president's own family. and it makes you ask questions about -- go back and look. the president's actions since this investigation began has been so unusual, trying to get the fbi director to quash the investigation, and then actually firing him when he didn't get the answer he wanted. and now you wonder if this is one of the reasons why he was doing this. the me flynn explanation has always seemed odd. his loyalty to him seemed an odd reason to take extraordinary
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action. now you wonder if he was doing this all along because he was worried about a member of his own family. >> put into perspective for me if i'm playing devil's advocate, matt, it's just more questions. jared kushner under fbi scrutiny. could one say that's just more questions? and we know that they're searching? >> yes, absolutely. there are more questions and the fbi will look very seriously to find out what it is that kushner discussed in those meetings, whether he shared any information, whether he made any promises. but it's very difficult when you have a member of the white house staff who is under federal investigation. it raises questions about his security clearance and whether he can continue to hold security clearance. oftentimes people that are under federal investigation are not allowed to have access to classified information while they are. and if he doesn't have a security clearance, can he continue to hold the job that he has. >> then walk me through the time line of what you believe happens next. we know that the special counsel robert mueller, he could be working on his side of the house for months, if not years. but for the fbi, how soon can
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this move? >> well, they could move very quickly if they wanted to interview jared kushner. but they may want to -- there may be documents that they want to have access to before they interview him. and they may decide that rather than interview him they want to put him into a grand jury and ask him what he knows under oath. they have a number of options at their disposal. and remember, they will be looking at jared kushner potentially not just for anything they are scrutinizing him for, but if the special counsel bob mueller does decide to investigate whether the president committed obstruction of justice, jared kushner could potentially be a witness to that as a senior white house staffer, he could be someone the president talked to. so jared kushner could not only be under scrutiny, but for other things director mueller is investigating. >> i want to reiterate at this point it's just scrutiny, it's more qstions they want to ask. given how complicated this is, ron -- you're still with us on the phone -- i mentioned it
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earlier. we learned today that one more candidate is not looking -- lieberman does not want to be the fbi chief. do you think this is going to be an attractive seat, given how personal, how sensitive this is to the president, and how -- how high of an importance he places on loyalty? who would you think would even want to be the new fbi chief? >> well, stephanie, that i think is a good question right now. i do know of folks who i think would welcome being invited to the conversation because of their history with the organization, their respect for the organization, and their patriotism. certainly, some patriotic qualified experienced american wants this job and will do it well. >> but, ron, when we hear that -- >> look at the downside risk. >> but patriotism would imply putting america first. and the actions, the peculiar actions we've seen the president take as it relates to russia,
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would put trump first, not america first. so, for a true patriot, doesn't it make it more difficult to take that seat? >> i think it does. i think it absolutely does. you know, a true patriot, somebody with the right experience, with the right temperament, with the right judgment, is still able to open their eyes and look at the treatment, you know, that jim comey got just two weeks ago. that i think even if you disagreed with some of what jim comey did in the last nine months or ten months, you still see that as a complete insulting slap in the face to not just him, but the men and women who work there. and, you know, the notion that you could be similarly fired, kicked to the side in a month, in three weeks, in ten days, i'm sure is a repellent to some folks. >> i want to bring in peter alexander. he is live at the white house. peter, the house behind you isn't rocking because the president isn't there. we know he's still overseas. but what are you learning?
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>> well, the bottom line is we just within the last hour had a chance to hear from the attorney for jared kushner who gave nbc news the statement. and i'll read it to you as it was sent to me. it reads mr. kushner previously volunteered to share with congress what he knows about these meetings. she adds, he will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry. jamie gore lick is representing jared kushner in this investigation, all things related to the russia investigation. we do know that congressional aides have said that they would like to interview -- to question kushner about a series of meetings that he had, one in december with sergey kislyak. that is the russian ambassador to the united states. another one that took place last year with the head of a russia state-owned bank. we know that the senate intelligence committee wants to speak to kushner as well. but one of the distinctions that's been made to us here that i think is important right now is that the fbi says that, in effect, he is -- these officials say that he is under fbi
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scrutiny, not that he is a subject of this investigation right now. so they draw a distinction between those individuals that have been more formally identified as subjects -- michael flynn, the former national security adviser, and paul manafort, who obviously played a critical role in the course of the campaign as the campaign chairman for a period of time. but that is what we're hearing right now from jared kushner's attorney. we're going to reach out and see if the white house has any specific reaction to this as well. we have not yet heard from them. >> and we have not heard from president trump's attorney. i know over the last two days, you had been covering that president trump himself hired an outside attorney, a longtime attorney and friend of his from new york to help him deal with the russia situation. have we heard from that law firm? >> we haven't yet. that's mark cass oh wits, a longtime manhattan attorney who now were bng told has either been retainedr will be retained by president trump to help give him private counsel for all matters related to the russia investigations.
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these inquiries that are taking place right now. i should note that i'm hearing from sources familiar with the decision-making process that there may be other legal counsel, outside counsel that is brought in to help guide the president through what will certainly gobble up a huge amount of attention not just over the course of the next week, but the next weeks and months going forward. the white house recognizes this. reince priebus has been here, steve bannon, two of the president's top advisers left the trip early. this certainly had something to do with the fact that this russia investigation would be ramping up as soon as the president gets back. initially we had the expectation that former fbi director james comey could be testifying as early as next week. it looks like that may be pushed back a bit but will happen in the not too distant future werks presume. we are under the urnderstanding he wants to speak to the special prosecutor robert mueller before he testifies to see what the
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sort of boundaries are of what he can say in public testimony. >> where is jared right now? they went home yesterday, right? >> reporter: it's a good question. i think they left this morning, which would mean they should either be here or en route here to the u.s. right now. i've been in the west wing. i've got to tell you. i'm basically the only reporter standing right now since so many others have been overseas. i have not seen either jared kushner or ivanka trump here, certainly not today. i expect that if they are back as early as tomorrow, that they may make a stop in. >> peter, stay at your post. with news like this, you never know. there could be somebody in the bushes. i want to bring ken dilanian back. walk us in one more time for anybody who is tuning in right now. specifically, this breaking news, jared kushner now under scru. walk us through the news that just broke and what led to it. >> you know, it's subtle thing, stephanie. what we're not seeing is that jared kushner is under investigation, is a subject of the investigation.
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what we are saying is that he is of interest in the fbi. they are examining -- they believe he knows things that are relevant to the investigation, may have records relevant to the investigation, may have been in meetings relevant to the investigation, and they want more information from him. and recall that he has volunteered to testify before the senate intelligence committee. he has not sought immunity as, for example, mike flynn has. and so, and his lawyer, as peter said, is saying we're willing to answer any question on this. so there's a -- you know, there's just a lot we don't know, what conduct or what in particular has drawn this fbi interest in mr. kushner. we're just going to keep reporting it out, stephanie. >> ken vogel, talk to us a bit -- and i realize you have to, you know, leap ahead a little bit here about palace intrigue. there had been a rift between steve bannon and jared kushner weeks ago. the president had said work it out. some people had reported, well, steve bannon was still inside the white house though a little bit homeless, had much fewer
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responsibilities than he once had, but maybe the white house had decided he was safer being inside the white house than if he were outside, possibly fueling something like breitbart news. the white house, in their mind, had a very big win on this international trip, even if there was some chaos today in brussels. now that they are coming home, are we reminded that the white house was very unsettled following the firing of james comey. many people had barely spoken to the president. many had learned about james comey being fired simply from watching tv, and things weren't secure there. what is it going to be like when the president comes home? jared, steve bannon. you've got dina powell, gary cohn, some people who were not part of the campaign, who weren't even necessarily republicans until they joined this white house. >> yeah. well, one thing that we know about this white house, stephanie, is that adversity from the outside brings out the chaos on the inside. this news that jared kushner is being looked at by the fbi is
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the very definition of that type of adversity. as you mentioned, jared kushner was already -- he was already sort of part of this factional sort of environment where steve bannon, reince priebus at various times were in some ways jealous of, resentful of the power that he had and the influence that he had over his father-in-law. we understood, as actually in the days running up -- leading up to this trip, that jared had withdrawn a little bit and was spending a little more time talking, in fact, with don mcgahn, the white house counsel. we don't know precisely why, but certainly this news today, if it's confirmed, which it seems to have been by "the washington post" as well, would provide a possible explanation for what he was talking about. and i think that his rivals within the white house, including bannon, iluding reince priebus may see this as an opptunity for them to exert more authority overhe day to day operations of the white
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house with him potentially dealing with this situation. >> matt miller, we just mentioned don mcgahn, somebody that jared grew closer to. would don mcgahn be someone jared would speak to about what was going on with his role specifically and the information he knew within the white house, or don mcgahn only be working with the president? matt miller? >> i'm sorry. i missed the question. i just came back. >> so don mcgahn, we know, has been the adviser to the president. but to the point that was just made, jared had been spending a lot of time with him. could they have been spending time together discussing jared's issues, not necessarily the president as it related to the president and russia, the president's interest in firing james comey? >> it's certainly one possibility, and they could have been discussing both. another issue that don mcgahn will have to work through now as i mentioned earlier, if he is the focus of this investigation -- and we don't know. it may just be questions for him, but it may be something more serious.
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you might have an incident where the department of justice, where the fbi come to don mcgahn, like they did with mike flynn, not to say that jared kushner is compromised, but to say he is a person of interest in this investigation. we think it's something the white house needs to know about because we may want to limit his access to sensitive information. it's something that often happens when people are involved in investigations of this nature. >> shane, is jared compromised? one of the issues, one of the reasons the market even dropped last week was the realization that many investors had saying, hold on a second. is this administration ever going to get to policy-making, or are they going to get stuck in all of these legal issues, the palace intrigue? what does this do? if jared is compromised in any way or can't fulfill duties, what does this mean in terms of going forward because the white house has a long to-do list. >> i think we kind of need to separate things maybe into two buckets. there's the legal question, which is what the nature of the scrutiny that he's under? why is the fbi interested in
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talking with him? i think that gets you no tto th next quez of how central is he to the investigation? if he was a target of it, could he continue working in the white house? that seems a little dicey as a proposition at best. i think more immediately there's a political reaction to this. if now we see the fbi probe reaching directly into the white house, kind of into the inner sanctum of people around the president, it's an enormous distraction to say the very least, and it's going to raise all kinds of questions, and all of us are going to be very busy in the next 24 to 48 hours reporting more on this. this is not the kind of focus and scrutiny that this white house wants. the russia investigation has already been sidetracking much of the policy making they're trying to do. they've had their own problems internally making policy, which is a separate matter. this is not going to help that. this is only going to fuel the flames of this investigation and lead to more questions, in particular about what, if anything, did the president or jared kushner know about this fbi scrutiny before james comey
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was fired? >> well, we know there's a lot of questions. people certainly want answers. gentlemen, thanks so much. i want to reiterate one more time the headline that crossed this hour. jared kushner, senior adviser to the president and son-in-law, now under fbi scrutiny in the russia probe according to officials. extraordinary. thank you for watching. you can catch me tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. eastern here on msnbc. "hardball" with chris matthews starts right now. jared kushner under scrutiny. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. nbc news has learned that jared kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of the senior white house advisers has come under scrutiny by the fbi. that's according to multiple high-level sources. meanwhile in montana, a candidate for u.s. congres


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