tv Deadline White House MSNBC June 7, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
that's going to wrap up a very busy hour for me. thanks for watching. always find me on twitter @chrisjansing. "deadline white house with nicolle wallace" starts now and joining nicolle today, new jersey governor chris christie. hi, everyone. it's 4:00. let's get right to our breaking news. we are hearing from jim comey in his own exquisitely detailed words about meetings with president trump in prepared testimony released today by the senate intel committee, he writes, "i felt compelled to document my first conversation with the president-elect in a memo to ensure accuracy. i began to type it in the laptop in an fbi vehicle outside of trump tower the moment i walked out of the meeting. creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with mr. trump was my practice from that point forward." comey will also testify the president told him, "flynn hadn't done anything wrong on his calls with the russians but
had misled the vice president." he also told comey he's a good guy and has been through a lot. i hope you can see your way to clear -- to clear him to letting this go. to letting flynn go. he's a good guy. i hope you can let this go ""trump said. let's get right to our correspondents covering this news today. nbc's kasie hunt is on capitol hill where all of this will go down tomorrow. ken dilanian, nbc news investigative reporter and "new york times" reporter michael schmidt also joining me. michael schmidt, i thought it was notable that jim comey writes this was not his practice to write detailed memos after meetings with president obama. was he from go worried that it would come to this moment that he would end up in some sort of legal standoff, or there would be some sort of testimony required of him for him to take such copious simultaneous notes about his interactions with president trump? >> he doesn't specifically say in the memos why he did this, but it's clear after this first meeting at trump tower on january 6th, comey describes in
his car pounding out on the laptop this memo after he meets trump. maybe it was something in the way that trump spoke to him. maybe it was comey knowing where the russia investigation was headed. what we don't know is actually all the little details of every meeting, because we don't have the memos. all we have is comey's, you know, basically summaries of them that's in this statement that was just released. >> kasie hunt, i'm hearing from capitol hill already from your reporting and that of other that they want to see the comey memos. where do you think the questioning tomorrow is going to take what we learn today about what comey's going to say up on the hill tomorrow? >> reporter: yeah, nicolle, the chairman, richard burr, had said a day or two ago he wants to see the comey memos, didn't think he was going to get them by thursday. i think his quote was something along the lines of nothing stays locked up in washington for long. so far, those memos are still not available to the public. and actually senator john cornyn, the number two republic
republican in the senate, called a few minutes ago here at this stakeout outside of the senate intelligence committee where they're meeting privately with some of the staff for those chiefs we saw earlier today, he said, look, those memos should be made available to the public. he also said, he believes that jim comey's a man of integrity, but what cornyn wants to talk about tomorrow is hillary clinton and jim comey's decisionmaking around the very public events of the campaign, where he went out and said, you know, hey, we -- this is what we've seen from hillary clinton, but we don't think that she should be prosecuted for this, we don't recommend prosecution. so, if you didn't think this was going to be a relitigation of the 2016 campaign, i would say you probably shouldn't have been surprised but we're certainly, i think, heading in that direction from some republicans but, you know, the other thing about today, imony from intel chiefs. marco rubio showed a willingness to go after them. john mccain showed up. i talked to him earlier a few
minutes ago, he's going to go and ask questions again tomorrow. so, i you kndon't think this is to be a walk in the park for president trump if that wasn't completely obvious. >> ken dilanian, i want to bring you into the conversation, ask you about white house efforts to engage the rnc and others to smear jim comey. that seems like a foolish strategy for a man who seems to relish bucking presidents of both republican presidents and democratic presidents. what are the perils for republicans who sort of fall into the trap of agreeing to be stooges for this white house? >> i agree. that's a perilous strategy, nicolle. this is a man who worked for both republicans and democrats, a 6'8" former prosecutor who speaks in full paragraphs. as we can see from this document today, he writes really will, he knows which details are going to be compelling. for example, there's a lot in this testimony that we already knew about, thanks to reporting by mike schmidt and our own reporting.
for example, you know, the conversation about mike flynn. but what we didn't know is jim comey recounting that he stared down the president of the united states, he locked eyes and didn't say anything. you know, in this detail about typing out the memo in the car, this is a man not to be trifled with. he's clearly documented these interactions. now that said, comey will be asked, i think, it's a fair question, if you were so troubled by these events, why didn't you resign? and he will be asked whether he thinks this obstruction of justice. it will. intere be interesting to hear what his answers are to those questions. >> comey writes, "he said to me, i need loyalty, i expect loyalty. i didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. we simply looked at each other in silence. the conversation then moved on but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner. he then said, i need loyalty. i replied, you will always get honesty. he paused and then said, that's what i want. honest loyalty. i paused and said, you'll get that from me." michael schmidt, you've covered
the bureau, covered the justice department. how weird must it have been for jim comey to hear this request from a new president? >> it's incredibly unusual. it's incredibley unusual -- >> is it unthethical? >> is it unethical? i'm going to leave the questions of that to others. it's very, very unusual. as comey lays out in the memo, he only spoke alone with president obama twice in the 2 1/2-plus years that he was his fbi director. he never spoke to them on the phone. in the case of trump, he smoke to him on the phone six times and he met with him three times. so it was clear that trump was appealing to him in a way that made comey very, very uncomfortable. in a way that comey, like essentially thought his job was being held over him. and that obviously incredibly unnerved comey to the point that he created these memos. >> ken dilanian, let me ask you about mike flynn because mike flynn is the at the center of all of president trump's legal problems and all the questions
about russia. where -- we talked about this over and over again. i don't think trump is a particularly a loyal guy but he was very intent on getting everyone involved in the effort to get jim comey off of flynn's tail. do we know anything more from the testimony released today about why that might have been? >> no, but remember that this conversation allegedly took place after mike flynn had been fired. so, it really does look like in a way that the president was sort of saying to the fbi director, okay, look, i fired the guy, isn't that enough? do you have to investigate him? do you have to send him to jail, too? you kcan see that being measure of an innocent conversation from trump's point of view. obviously a president who apparently had never been briefed on the idea that, hey, there are these post-watergate norms that you don't mess around with the fbi director, don't try too intervene in an fbi investigation. that's the last thing you want to do as president of the united states. did anyone brief, you know, donald trump on this? apparently not. >> kasie hunt, jeff sessions has
been in the news all week, and i wonder if he's worked any of his former senate colleagues over to sort of give him some cover because jim comey doesn't spare him. he says he went to jeff sessions. he asked not to be left alone with the president. he told jeff sessions how untraditional that was. how i don't want to use the word unethical, but makes clear it was something he was uncomfortable with. has jeff sessions asked hi former senate colleagues to have his back on the increased scrutiny coming down on his role as a.g.? kasie? >> reporter: nicolle, if he has -- forgive me, we're keeping an eye on the news that's happening right over there. so from what i can tell, that -- the very least has not been made public yet but i do think, you know, it's very clear that many members of this committee have had sessions back through the confirmation process and are now watching him essentially have this, you know, we barely focused on this if light of all the other news, but the reports
that sessions offered his resignation to the president and then was turned down. i think, you know, that will give you a sense of the fact that they know he is potentially in big trouble with the administration as well. and i think -- i wouldn't be surprised to see if democrats make sessions a particular target with jim comey. i mean, this -- sessions is somebody if you remember from the confirmation processes, he's been a very conservative so far as attorney general, very conservative record and a difficult record in some places on civil rights, et cetera. so i don't necessarily expect him to be spared tomorrow. >> all right. kasie, i know you're staking out that building. if you get anyone of note, break in. we'll take you with anyone at any time in the next hour. my panel now, joining us today, politics editor for "the root" jason johnson. republican strategist and msnbc contributor, steve schmidt. former house intel committee staffer and special assistant to president george w. bush michael allen. with us from washington, mika, vice president for third ways national security program. and a former staffer in the house intel committee.
steve, i want to start with you. and ask you how potentially dramatic jim comey's testimony could be in light of what he reveals, obviously a sense these interactions were going to come under scrutiny. for him to walk out of his first meeting with president-elect trump in trump tower in december and start taking notes in his car is a pretty extraordinary new detail. >> it is. he was obviously deeply troubled. i think what's setting up tomorrow is the most consequential congressional testimony maybe in a generation. you have washington, d.c., bars are opening up early for happy hour tomorrow. it's going to be an extraordinary event. and i do think how unusual it is, and, yes, it is unethical. we're a nation of laws. the only oath that the fbi director takes is to the constitution of the united states. we don't grant or make personal statements of loyalty to the president of the united states.
you serve at the pleasure of the president of the united states. >> let me add -- we all served in the white house, and the oath that you take is to country and you promise to be loyal to the country. there's no oath that any of us took to the presidents we served. so what is it about -- is he missing a chip? is it the ignorance defense again? you said you're willing to go work in this white house. would you need to know the answer to whether or not the defense to everything he's accused of doing wrong is he doesn't know the answer or he's willing to sor of blow up decades of tradition in terms of the independence of the fbi? what would make you more comfortable if you were going to go into this white house? >> look, what ultimately is going to make us and the media and everyone else more comfortable is what was in his heart when he said these things? >> whose heart? >> in the president's. >> why does that matter? he broke a law -- is it legal to ask the fbi director to back off an investigation into mike flynn one he's been -- >> it matters because ultimately it's in the eye of the beholder. if we're headed toward an
impeachment where we have high crimes and misdemeanors, mueller is not -- he can't indict the president of the united states. that's impermissible under the constitution. what he would do is write a report to congress and you're going to see this in the eyes of the beholder. either see a man innocently, unaware of the norms of washington, desperately trying to save his presidency, or you see a more nefarious character who is dangling the job over his head who's clearly cornering the fbi director at every moment. ultimately, i think it's going to be a political decision and going to matter what else president trump said to other witnesses which ultimately implicates this sticky -- this thick executive privilege debate. >> mika, let me bring you into this and ask you if it matters in a legal context or legal national security context what was in the president's heart when he asked for a loyalty oath from jim comey. his then-fbi director. >> so i think it's important to distinguish between what you would have in a criminal context for obstruction of justice and
what we mean when we talk about high crimes and misdemeanors. we're talking about there is abuse of power so the standards are not exactly the same. the intent richequirement isn't necessarily the president wases intending to obstruct. one thing you have to look at, after comey told the president there are proper channels for how you can communicate with me, the president still called him twice to put the pressure on him to drop the investigation. that's not a guy who's just innocently walking around saying, oh, i didn't know and i'm just trying to save my administration. at that point, he knew. >> all right. jason, let me denver i-- i'm pu full carrie matheson, there's a method to my cards here. you can't see them at home. it's a mess. i want to read something else. comey writes "the president began by asking me whether i wanted to stay on as fbi director which i found strange because he'd already told me twice in earlier conversations he opened i would say and i
assured him i intended to stay. he said that lots of other people wanted my job and given the abuses i'd taken during the previous year, he would understood if i wanted to walk away." this does not sound like a president -- this sounds like -- like it was a tradeoff. if you're loyal to me, you can keep the job you want. >> nicolle, this reads like testimony for a harassment suit to hr, i'm uncomfortable, i don't like being in the room with this person, my job was dangled in front of them, i basically left the room breathless. no other reason that it sort of sets the environment that president trump established with people who are supposed to be n independent, i think that's damaging enough. it speaks to some of the testimony we heard today. we kept hearing people say, i didn't feel this, i didn't feel that. they wouldn't say whether trump asked them. now we've got someone saying look, not only did i feel swim date intimidated, feel pressured but he also asked me the question. >> ken dilanian, are you still with us? >> yes, i am. >> do feelings matter in an investigation into whether or not someone obstructed justice? no one cares about my feelings.
i wonder if people care about the feelings of people running the nation's top spy agencies or top law enforcement agencies. >> well, i'm not a lawyer, but i believe to prove a criminal case of obstruction of justice, you have to prove it was done corruptly with an intent to obstruct. not just suggesting to someone but, you know, in the presidential context, actually ordering. and so whether they felt pressured or not i think is significant from a legal perspective, but as meike said, tvs n it's not significant from a political perspective, from an abuse of power perspective. >> michael schmidt, let me ask you, do we need to get to the bottom of whether or not -- do we need to understand the motives for wanting the flynn piece excused before we understand whether the president had any intent? i guess what i'm saying is, do we need to know what the president knew michael flynn had done? it seems -- there's also a part in this testimony where trump seems to ask comey if you find out if any of my satellite associates are involved in russia, call me. let me know. i mean, i don't know. it looks like trump was almost asking comey to share investigation about an ongoing
criminal investigation into his campaign team's alleged or potential contacts with russia. do we need to find out what trump knew and when he knew it to understand this question of intent to cover up a crime or commit a crime? >> well, certainly democrats will want answers to that. democrats will want this to be dug into as much as possible. and critics of trump would say, you know, this is a man who is, you know, very independent and does not really go to bat for other people, so why is it he was trying so hard to bend over backwards for flynn? that's what the critics would wonder is why was he pushing comey repeatedly on that? what is it that flynn knows? you know, what were trump's interactions with flynn about? and did trump tell him to talk to the russian officials? >> all right. we're going to take a very short break. when we come back, stonewalling congress. today the heads of america's top spy agencies and top law enforcement agencies refusing to
answer direct questions from senators of both political parties about whether president trump asked them to shut down the russia probe and participate in efforts to beat back press stories about it. and trump confidant chris christie joins us here in the studio exclusively to talk about the comey toast moestimony and president's new hire to run the fbi. nstrumental) [ snoring ] [ deep sleep snoring ] the all-new volkswagen atlas. seats seven, sleeps six. life's as big as you make it.
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anticipated hearing on capitol hill. amidst the fast and furious developments, i got new jersey governor chris christie here with me to discuss it all. thanks for being here. >> happy to be here, nicolle. >> so what do it you think it is about donald trump? i've heard various theories. we talked about some of these privately. but associates of nsa director rogers and dni coats have offered up sort of different explanations for why donald trump would do the kinds of things that make people in our intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies so uncomfortable they'd take memos right after they leave meetings with them. one, complete ignorance about the idea that the fbi's supposed to be independent, two, just a complete lack of any sort of moral compass? which do you think it is? >> how about three? >> tell me. >> listen, what people don't understand is that they elected an outsider president. they elected someone who had never been inside government and quite frankly spent a lot of sbim intera time interacting with government
except at the local level. the idea of the way the tradition of these agencies is not something he's ever been steeped in. so i think over the course of time, we can talk about different examples, what you're seeing is a president who is now very publicly learning about the way people react to what he considers to be normal new york city conversation. >> but do you think that anyone went to him and said, it's highly inappropriate for you to ask the fbi director to drop an investigation into your friend, mike flynn, just because he's a, quote, good guy? >> well, i don't know because i don't know who the president may have told that he actually said that. first of all, you got to know it to say it. remember, what we're being told is the conversation was a private conversation between former director comey and the president. so i don't know if the president turn around and told any member of his staff, oh, by the way, here's the conversation i just had. so i don't know, but -- >> do you believe jim comey's version of the facts? >> hard to tell. i mean, you know, i want to hear jim say it. listen, i said before, you know,
i've gotten along well with him over the years, we worked together. i have a lot of respect for jim. i'm not going to presume anybody is lying. quit fwrank quite frankly, in hethese conversations everybody wants to hear what they want to hear. >> what about the idea the white house wants to rapidly respond, the president may live tweet the comey testimony? obviously the white house feels exposure here. i heard that the president is deeply, deeply distressed about the cloud that the russia probe is having over his entire effort to be president. to make america great. >> well, listen, if this kind of thing was going on and it didn't bother you, then we'd be saying that, you know -- >> i mean, does donald trump understand how self-destructive he is? all the problems we has are result of his own efforts to dust them under the rug or -- >> first off -- >> he makes everything worse. husband de understand that? >> listen, let's divide that up for a second. >> do you agree with the premise
he's making it worse? >> i disagree with the premise that he's the cause of all the thi things, your self-destructive promise. >> you don't think he engages in self-destructive behavior -- >> let me answer. first off, he didn't cause mike flynn to be reattended by the turks. >> fair enough. >> to go to russia and not tell the transition team about it and lie about it. once he found out mike flynn had lied, he got rid of him. so, listen, said yesterday -- i was asked a question yesterday about the president's tweeting. i said it's a double-edged sword. one respect, i can tell you as someone who ran against him, it was an incredibly powerful tool to around the media and detect directly to the voters. there are times he's tweeted stuff, i said to lots of folks, he shouldn't have done that, shouldn't have said those things. i unction what you're saying about some of the conduct. let's not put it into one mosh pit. >> he said he may have tapes on jim comey.
do you think taunting jim comey by saying i may have tape recordings of you has any line to what's happening tomorrow, the fact james comey is going to testify before congress? >> no. i think what the licne was was the president's decision tocome. once the president made the decision to fire jim comey, it was inevitable jim comey would be giving testimony. >> when do you think it was when the president decided to fire jim comey? >> i don't know. >> you ran the transition for a while, had you prepared other teams for him? >> no. >> you didn't know -- >> if he was thinking about it way back then, it was nothing we ever discussed and we did not prepare names in the transition because jim was in the middle of a ten-year term. we certainly got no direction from then the candidate or for the few days i was head of the transition he was president-elect to get me names on fbi director, no, that never happened. >> you're pleased with the decision he made? >> listen, this is the important part to remember about donald
trump, he made an extraordinary decision and went about it in a very, very good way. took his time. met a lo tlot of people. consulted with a lot of people and came to a gold-standard choice. republicans and democrats today all say chris ray is a top flight lawyer. he was an incredible member of the department of jus ts whticei worked with him. he has the respect of law enforcement, respect of the prosecutors, he has the represent of the defense bar. >> do you think chris ray will get the same questions comey got in donald trump asked jim comey if you accept his testimony to let him know if any of his satellite associates, the word the president used, were involved with -- do you think that donald trump knows whether or not his campaign associates had any contacts with the russians? >> listen, i don't think donald trump knows what every person who claims they were associated -- i'll give you an example. okay? i was involved with the campaign from february of '16, late february, forward. i never met carter page nor ever heard his name. i was on the plane with the
president. i was in intelligence briefings with the then-candidate, now president. i was in on almost everybo high-level political conversation. when i tell you not only did i never meet carter page, if someone said that person's name, i wouldn't have associated him with anything, let alone the trump campaign. >> in fairness -- yoi >> when you're in -- let me ask you a question, you and i worked for george w. bush, do you think george w. bush knew every person and everything going on in the campaign? i don't think he's that kind of leader. >> if president bush was asked who are your foreign adviser -- the first person he said carter page, i'd hold george w. bush for knowing what carter page was up to. donald trump introduced carter page to america by naming him in the "washington post." >> do you think that means you know everything that person is doing every minute of the day? you're running for president. you're running for president. >> uncle, take carter page out of it, jared kushner set up a back channel with russia, suggested meeting with russians
at a russian embassy. two theories, one, the russians said he was meeting as a representative for his family business, kushner industries and the white house said he was meeting with them as a transition official. as a former prosecutor, which explanation is better for the white house? >> i don't know which explanation is true, first. secondly -- >> who do you believe, the russians or the white house? >> let me just say this, the fact is i want to hear and i think most people want to hear from jared kushner. he said he is absolutely willing to testify. his lawyer has said that publicly. and so the fact is, listen, we're in a media atmosphere right now where everybody is frantic to get to the next story. the next tweet. the next leak that leads to a story. what i've learned as a prosecutor is what you hear on tv, what you read in the newspapers, can be true, but can also be either wrong or can be incomplete. and so as a prosecutor, what i know is, everybody's got to take a deep breath because we're, what, 140 days or so into this
presidency, and i feel like we're 140 years into this presidency. >> me, too. >> you know, i mean, people just have to relax for a minute. >> let's relax and rewind the tape. long time ago, jeff sessions rekused himself from the russia investigation because i guess he filled out incomplete information about his own contacts with russians. i've met one russian, i never norgt forgot it. i think it's weird so many people had meetings are russians they can't remember when they fill out forms. what would you do if you were attorney general? >> i have no idea because i don't know everything that went into attorney general -- >> your name was floated for a.g. >> sure. i didn't meet with any russians. the fact is, i don't know what went into all the things he considered in order to recuse. what i will tell you is this, i have always believed that you should avoid recusal as much as you possibly can and i recused a few times as u.s. attorney in seven years, but it had to be some very, very specific circumstances for this reason. the people of the united states
elect a president who then determines who his prosecutors are going to be, from the attorney general of the united states down to the u.s. attorney like me in new jersey. the people underneath you are typically career people. and i think that the fact of the matter is that the person who should be making the most sensitive decisions should be the person who is designated to do so by the president of the united states. i don't know what analysis attorney general sessions went through. i can't make a judgment. i don't know what the ethics lawyers at justice were telling h him. i don't know if he has personal counsel, what they were telling him. i don't know if there are other factors beyond what rt rowas red in the press. he didn't specifically say why. what i will tell you, my approach in general is to be reluctant to accuse. once you do, you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. >> the oacomey asked to not be
alone with the president. we don't know the other side of the story. comey was uncomfortable by being asked to stay back alone, he asked his boss and the fbi director does, at least on a chart, report to the attorney general -- >> he does. >> should sessions resign over refusing to give his fbi director the cover that he asked for? >> well, first of all, we don't know that because that wasn't part of comey's testimony, right? >> the written testimony that he asked -- >> did he say to him not to s ? stay? >> he asked agos not to leave him alone with the president. >> sessions is his boss. >> right. >> sessions gets to decide. >> he asked his boss to protect him. >> he asked him to stay in the room. >> he asked him not to be left alone with the president. >> sessions gets to decide. he's the boss. not comey. >> if you were lthe attorney general and your fbi director asked not to be left alone with donald trump -- >> if i were the attorney general, okay, there would be a significantly different relationship than there is with this attorney general and i only say that because i've known donald trump for 15 years and senator sessions just got to know him in the past two. so, the history that donald trump and i have, the president
and i have, is significantly different. but what i tell you is, listen, right now, all anybody's hearing is what jim has put out in his written testimony. none of it's been subject to the scrutiny of people asking questions. there's lots of questions to be asked and i'm sure there will be a lot asked tomorrow. but guess what's going to happen, after tomorrow, jim comey's testimony is going to be over and we're going to be on to the next thing and the next thing after that and the next thing after that. it doesn't mean that's insignificant tomorrow. it's significant but it also is in the context of everything the president's trying to accomplish and do here, let's not go crazy about this. it is a moment. but what's really much more important is to look at what donald trump did today. now, everybody was arguing he was going to politicize the fbi. he's going to hire some politician who he can control and then he's going to control the fbi and he'll kill the investigation, all the rest of this, right? well, first off, he appointed a deputy attorney general who showed the independence to appoint a special counsel. >> we know he's mad about that. >> now he's -- i don't know that
he's mad about that. he never told me he's mad about it. now he appointed or nominated an fbi director who everyone, republican, democrat, talked about his independence, integrity, all the rest. donald trump made that decision, no one else did. >> nobody other than donald trump is going to step on his own good news cycle. he's going to tweet something idiotic tomorrow and ruin his own good chris ray news cycle. >> we don't know that. >> really? you want to make a bet he won't tweet something tomorrow? >> what i tell you right now is the tweet for chris ray came out at 9:00 this morning. >> right. >> it's 4:30. >> it's 4:30. >> no, nothing yet. nothing yet. >> you really think -- are you going to tell him what to do? give him the advice not to live tweet the comey -- >> any advice i give to the president i keep between me and the president. that's why i can continue to advise him when he needs it. the point, though, is tomorrow from what i understand, the president's got a pretty busy schedule and i don't know -- >> a busy schedule but he's had
a hit ad worked up through the rnc to smear jim comey. >> let me say this -- >> he's not zen about it. >> i don't think anybody is ever zen. i don't think bill clinton was zen for having a special prosecutor for as long as he had one. i don't think anybody would be zen about it. quite frankly, i don't remember george w. bush being zen about the valerie plame investigation. now, no one, nobody in those positions feels like, oh, hey, no problem. a special prosecutor throwing subpoenas on my staff, special prosecutor -- that hasn't even happened yet in this instance as far as we know. and to the white house or any place else. no one feels good about that, nicolle. you know what that does to a workplace. so, i don't expect the president to be zen about it. and especially -- and i take the president at his words that he had no interactions with the russians or collusion or any of that. >> that he novemberknows of. >> he. he i'm saying, not talking about his campaign. talking about he. if that's the case and you're an innocent person and all this
stuff is swirling around you and you're already doing the most complicated job in the world, i can understand not being zen about that. yeah. now, i also, you know, myself, gone through stuff like this. >> he doesn't know whether his campaign did or not. i think if it were you or george w. bush, you would want to know if the people on your payroll were in cahoots with the russians. you would want to know. >> yes, i would. by the way, you criticized donald trump the president for saying jim comey hey f aif any >> i didn't criticize him. >> you asked if it was ethical. >> i asked if you know if donald trump knows whether or not his came pain was in cahoot with the russians. >> earlier, nicolle, you were reading from the comey testimony, you said, can you believe donald trump would ask jim comey if any of the satellite people around him had any problem? you know, you're just saying he wants to thouknow. he asked jim comey. you may say if he were a lawyer, that's unsophisticated. >> i didn't pass judgment.
i wonder why he didn't call a meeting. frankly, he could do it around the family dinner table, say, sons, daughter, son-in-law, did any -- >> by the way, you don't know that he hasn't. neither do i. but the fact is that he asked jim comey something that i think is -- is an appropriate question to ask. like, are any of these people around me involved? because if they are, i want to get to the bottom of it. >> i agree with you. >> i think the president in the end, today, is such an important day in the trump presidency. the naming of chris ray is a huge stay in the trump presidency because he did something that his critics never expected he would do. after the firing of jim comey. and that was to pick a class "a" gold standard former federal prosecutor and someone who everybody in the defense bar, the prosecuting world, investigating world, respects for his independence, his integrity and honesty. >> was it your suggestion? >> i don't talk about -- i told you, nicolle, i can't tell you what i talk to the president about.
what i will say to you, as you knows, chris ray was my lawyer and when i was at the -- simply at the lowest point of my professional life right after bridgegate was revealed, he was the call i made. i know every good lawyer in new york, in washington, d.c., and los angeles, and the first call i made and the only call i made was to chris ray. >> sounds to me like he has your ear. will you stay with us? >> yeah, sure, why not? >> i'm going to take a quick break. the governor will still be hear on the other side. it's time for the "your business" entrepreneur of the week. ellis-brown has a detroit based bottled tea business. local customers love her product, but she wants to go national. she asked for a "your business" makeover. now she's about to break through with a disruptive strategy and big-time distribution. for more, watch "your business" weekends at 7:30 on msnbc. >> brought to you by american express open. visit openforum.com for ideas to help you grow your business. american express open cards can help you take on a new job,
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hi, everyone. we're back. and in testimony released today from jim comey, we expect him tomorrow to say that on the morning of march 30th the president called me at the fbi, described the russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. he said he had nothing to do with russia, had not been involved with hookers in russia and always assumed he was being recorded when he was in russia." bringing in the conversation right now, nbc's peter alexander
from the white house lauchwn. peter, are you hearing this argument governor christie just made that the white house wants to see it as a virtue that donald trump was also interested in knowing if the fbi had any information about whether his satellite associates were in connection, coordination, collusion, whatever word you want to use, with the russians? >> reporter: nicolle, to be very clear, the white house, at least what we heard from them and allies so far is heavily focused on one point they say the president was right on, demonstrated by james comey's testimo testimony, he was told on multiple occasions he, himself, was not under investigation. that appears to be the focus that the surrogates in the rnc among others put out today trying to push back on the narrative they anticipate from james comey tomorrow. we can give you the sense of the atmospherics around the white house tomorrow. marc kasowitz's, president's counsel, was at the white house earlier today. old allies including former campaign manager corey lewandowski was here before meeting privately with kellyanne conway, the president's counselor over the course of
this day as well. you know, the rnc has been, as we've been told, organizing some of the surrogate efforts. this effort to push back going forward. striking even as they provided us with a list of surrogates for cable nice and elsewhere across television tomorrow. i reached out to a surrogate who said it was the first time he heard he was on the surrogate list and had not been provided specific talking points about it going forward. the white house said, sarah huckabee sanders, president's deputy press secretary, traveling back from ohio with the president, said today they thought the timing of the release of james comey's statement was, quote, interesting, punctuating the testimony from the law enforcement and intelligence officials earlier today. beyond that, they said they are still are reviewing his testimony. i trust when the president has fully reviewed it, we'll likely hear from him on twitter unless they stock his schedule full enough with other activities tomorrow. he has an infrastructure summit and speech midday. . their hope, he'll be too
distracted that he won't have the opportunity to respond. back to you. >> thank you, peter. steve schmidt, you and i have run a few war-rooms. have you ever seen an effort that is sort of hobbled by the principals' effort? by that, i mean they're trying to line up surrogates, trying to do a little bit of getting ahead of this story and it's almost and, and you wouldn't deny this i don't think, governor, that the president will react before they can. >> look, i think this white house runs like colonel clink ran in "hogan's heroes." it's extraordinary the level of communication incompetence on all of this. the ad that's smearing the reputation of jim comey who you question his judgment on a number of different issues over the last year but no one questioned his moral rectitude, his affinity for the truth. so, look, at the end of the day, every one of these issues that the white house is dealing with, all of them, are self-inflicted. i mean, over and over again,
withdrawing your sidearm and firing it into your foot. the reason there's a special counsel in the first place was the hamhandedness of the firing of comey, how they tried to politicize rod ste politicize rosenstein. it is made worse by the president's tweeting, disorganization. look, it's not going to get better and the special counsel is a dangerous situation for a president. >> governor, we haven't talked about the muslim ban. to that point that he makes it hard to defend him. could you acknowledge that? >> well, sure, it's been hard at times. but i want to -- i want you to tell me the political figure who it isn't at times hard to defend. >> i never had to worry i would be on a cable news show defending george w. bush and frankly -- we know your staffers, too, you'd be on twitter undermining them. >> there are different worries for every different political figure. there always are. now, these are more stark. okay. so if you were a white house staffer and agreed to serve in
this white house, and you're someone who worked with him on the came pahasm campaign, is an shocking to you? i say to people all the time, i see people complain to me about that. >> is that the bar, though, just be shocked? >> no, no, no. >> live in shock? >> you shouldn't be shocked. my point is, you shouldn't be shocked. who understood beforehand that donald trump wasn't going to tweet when he felt that there was something he needed to say? who watched him during the campaign thought that he was going to hold back and let others speak on his behalf? i could tell you as somebody who was involved in that campaign, that never happened. so i think this is a whole bunch of faux shock. i mean, the fact is this is the way this president communicates. now, you can -- steve said, you can call it a bunch of self-inflicted wounds, you can also say it was part of what helped him get elected in the first place. there will be constant debate and discussion about that. what i will tell you is, count me as not shocked. this is the way president trump has communicated when he was
donald trump the real estate investor, when he was donald trump the candidate in the primary campaign and i was on the same stage with him. >> this isn't just new york city shop talk. he's now -- does he understand how deadly serious it is? that he's being investigated by his own fbi? >> i think, first of all -- >> his son-in-law is under scrutiny. >> excuse any. first of all, there's no investigation he's been -- >> his campaign. >> let me tell you something, that's a material difference as a prosecutor. those are important words you're using, okay? i want to make clear to everybody out there, you can use big and important words, you got to use them right. the fact is we don't know who's being investigated right now. the justice department hasn't said who's a witness, who's a subject, who's a target. by the way, i can tell you as a prosecu prosecutor, this fern person of interest thing doesn't exist. there's no such thing as a person of interest. i find you interesting, nicolle, you're therefore a person of interest to me. >> right. >> it has no legal ramification to it at all. we need to be responsible about this. now, do i -- >> you think donald trump is responsible about this?
>> i think sometimes he is. and i think sometimes i would say to my friend if he asked, you know what, i wouldn't have done that if i were you. but the fact is, he's the president. he gets to make these calls and guys like steve get to comment on them. you get to comment on them. the same way when i -- >> the only reason we get to comment on them is because we've worked for presidents who never would -- we work for a president who operated within the norms of behavior. would you have fired jim comey? >> what do i know? >> what do you know? >> what do i know? fact of the matter is unless you're -- you know this to be true, if you're not in that building, and you're not feeling the rhythms and getting the information that you and only you get, it's preposterous for those of us to sit out here and say i would have done this or i wouldn't have done that. i've sat in the chair and sit in one now where i know more information about's going on in new jersey than anybody else knows and for people -- people second guess my decisions all time. that's fine. i know what i know. and the fact is, the president knows what he knows.
he made that decision. you can get any number of people to come on this set and tell you, i would have done it, i wouldn't have done it. but guess what, none of them, unless you're going to get a former president of the united states in here, is going to say i sat in that chair and know exactly what he was thinking. >> go ahead, jason. >> i go to say from a staff stand poirn standpoint, i agree with steve and what the president saying. it's like watching your kid at a piano recital and you know they didn't practice and hoping the whole time they're not going to completely screw up. >> you ever feel that way watching your friend? >> watching this president undermine people over and over again. even for things that are policy goals he claims he was going to do all along. he's essentially scuttled the travel ban which i kbleetly disagree with. he's scuttled any chance of that being successful because of his own tweets. >> listen, first of all, we'll see what the supreme court does. i don't know. nor does anybody else. >> has he made his legal case stronger or weaker with his tweets? >> you know, we're going to see. >> come on. >> listen, because -- >> kellyanne conway's husband
yesterday said he's making his case harder. do you not agree with kel kellyanne's husband? >> i'm not obligated to agree with kellyanne's husband. i'm telling you i love the fact that everybody who knows -- and i would love to quiz the people around this table and others how many of them have read the briefs. how many of them have read the full decision of the circuit court. >> you think donald trump has read the briefs? >> it's not his job. he's got lawyer to do that, okay? when you're your own lawyer, you got a fool for a client, okay? he's got lawyers to do that. his lawyers will go and do what they're going to do. they're going to win or they're going to lose. everybody has a an opinion who didn't read the briefs, underlying opinion of the fourth or ninth circuit. if you've done all that and have an opinion like conway, great, george is entitled to his opinion. the supreme court will ultimately decide that. does donald trump make things harder sometimes? absolutely. absolutely. >> all right. all right. an admission. >> he also accomplishes -- >> what does he accomplish?
>> things that other people -- he's sitting in the white house right now. by the way, if i took a poll of the three people around this table with me and asked them in october of 2016 october of 2016 if you thought he was going to be president, the answer would have been no. >> 4 for 4, we were all wrong. we'll squeeze in one more break. isaac hou has mastered gravity defying moves to amaze his audience. great show. here you go. now he's added a new routine. making depositing a check seem so effortless. easy to use chase technology, for whatever you're trying to master. isaac, are you ready? yeah. chase. so you can. i just want to find a used car start at the new carfax.com show me used trucks with one owner. pretty cool. [laughs] ah... ahem... show me the carfax. start your used car search at the all-new carfax.com.
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why are you not answering these questions? >> why are you not -- >> i feel it is inappropriate. what you feel isn't relevant, admiral. what you feel isn't the answer. if there is executive privilege, let us know about it. >> i stand by the comments i made. i'm not interesting in repeating that, sir. i don't mean that in a contentious way. >> do i mean it in a contentious way. i don't understand why you're not answering our questions. >> and we're back. what is it with men and their feelings today? there was a lot of talk about whether they felt pressure, whether they felt they could answer, whether they felt -- isn't this a black and white question of whether they were asked to put a kabosh on an investigation or whether they were asked about the russia probe?
where is the gray area today that they were dancing on? it is very simple. they either have a legal basis for not answering or they have an obligation to answer the oversight committee. none of the witnesses today could assert a legal basis, either executive privilege or some kind of classified rationale that would say i don't have to answer this. so refusing to answer congress's questions. they are not fulfilling their constitutional duties. >> it doesn't look good. >> constitutional duty. i love people who use big words but don't know what they mean. big words. constitutional duty. >> let mika respond. >> it is not that big -- >> what's the constitutional duty? >> they have responsibilities to answer to congress which is the oversight body for the executive branch. >> they have a constitutional duty some the admiral and the dni have a constitutional duty
to do that? you know that's not true. the fact is they didn't refuse to answer. they said they didn't want to answer in public session but they were will to answer in closed session. >> they would not admit that they would answer in closed session. >> that's not what i heard. >> i think at the end of the day -- >> when senator king pressed they will, they would not commit. >> during confirmation hearings, they all answered affirmatively that they would cooperate with congress. they either have a legal basis not to answer the question, to exert executive privilege. they do have an obligation to answer a direct question directly and not to say i don't feel like answering the question. you don't have that ability. >> and part of the issue here, you talk about men and their feelings. you can talk about senator burr and concern with kamala harris being just as aggressive as senator kane. this is about public interest. i actually agree with the
governor. if they want to say it privately. no, no, really. in this particular way i do actually agree. the problem is this. at some point you do have to have a justification for your behavior because, look, if their only reason for not telling us the truth is i don't want to make my boss angry. that speaks to the larger issue. if they're not speaking because they're concerned about angering president trump who expresses his anger all the time on twitter. that's a greater concern to me as an american. if they say there's private information i don't want to reveal here, that's fine. >> this is where mccain got exasperated with them too. there were detailed press accounts saying that dni coates was asked to beat back a probe that he was asked to intervene with jim comey and and him. >> they don't work for donald trump. they work for me.
they work for us. the american people. they serve at the pleasure of the president of the united states and they've been confirmed by the senate of the united states, fulfilling its advising consent responsibilities. they don't have the answer of not asking direct questions posed to them by elected members of congress performing their oversight responsibilities. what we will find out before it is all said and done. we may find out answers to questions that haven't been asked yet. this will go off on all number of unpredictable areas but we'll find out exactly what happened now robert mueller is on the job and we have a special counsel. it may not be next week or next moflt it may not be two years from now. we will find out precisely what happened. >> and the special counsel was appointed by the deputy attorney general of the united states who donald trump appointed. so the process is boringing and the system is working. so you know, there
breathlessness about it, and if the oversight committee has further questions, they have the right to submit those in writing or call them back and ask they will again or ask they will into closed session. this is beginning of a process. what we have now is this his tearingal media coverage where everybody says we need the answer today. >> i'm not hysterical. >> just because something gets leaked in the newspaper doesn't 19 guy who got leaked has to verify or not verify. >> donald trump puts a lot in. i give you the last word. the disadvantage of not being here at the family table. >> when you talk about people's feelings, one of the people's feelings that's most important to think about are jim comey's. throughout the testimony that was released today, he talked about his discomfort being alone with the president, feeling like he who is the document everything. every woman in america knows how it feels when a man is going to put pressure on her to do something inappropriate and this testimony manifest that's same
feeling. >> all right. that will have to be the last word. thank you for being here with us. that does it for this hour. i'm nicole wallace. "mtp daily" starts right now. >> well, nicole! it looks like you had a bunch of new york city talk there. tell the governor i miss him. it's been a long time since we talked. >> go warriors sclal. >> go cavs. >> if it's went, the numbers all to go 11. tonight the comey testimony. james comey will tell congress tomorrow that president trump repeatedly pressured him to say he was not under investigation. also, that the president wanted comey to help him lift the cloud. that the russia investigation has created. >> it was inappropriate to so obsessively hound him about making the case against flynn go away. >> plus, the unanswered questions about what