tv Deadline White House MSNBC June 8, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
stock exchange. and we are about to close out at the stock exchange. it will have a win in the final moments, but that closes out this busy hour for me. i'll see you right back here tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. eastern. then again at 3:00 p.m. eastern. thank you for watching. "deadline white house with nicolle wallace" starts right now. hi, everyone, it's 4:00. former fbi director jim comey has spoken. comey spent nearly three hours in an open session of the senate intel committee and participated in a closed-door session afterward. he cut right to the chase claiming he felt directed to clear flynn and saying the trump white house had defamed him. comey claimed that he was fired because of the russia investigation and warned that russia is still coming for us. america, that is. here's some of jim comey today. >> the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the fbi by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly
led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. those were lies plain and simple. >> what was it about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record? >> the nature of the person. i mean, i was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting so i thought it really important to document. you've seen the picture of me walking across the blue room and what the president whispered in my ear was, "i really look forward to working with you." the next friday i have dinner, the president begins by wanting to talk about my job. i'm sitting there thinking wait a minute, three times you've already asked me to stay or talked about me staying. my common sense, again, i could be wrong, but my common sense told me, what's going on here is that he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job. >> i gather from all this that you're willing to say now that while you were director, the president of the united states was not under investigation. is that a fair statement? >> that's correct.
the challenge, i'm not picking on reporters, about writing stories about classified information, is that people talking about it offer donten d know what's going on. those of us who actually know what's going on are not talking about it and don't call the press to say, hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic. we just have to leave it there. >> i hope you can let this go," those are his direct words, correct? >> correct. >> he did not direct you to let it go? >> not in his words, no. >> he did not order it to let you go? >> again, those words are not in order. the reason i keep saying "his words" is i took it as a direction. >> right. >> president of the united states with me, alone, saying i hope this, i took it as this is what he wants me to do. >> why do you believe you were fired? >> i think the president at his word, i was fired because of the russia investigation. something about the way i was conducting it, the president felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve. our absolute primary concern was we can't infect the
investigative team. we don't want the ajegents and analysts working on this to know the president of the united states has asked, when it comes from the president, i took it as a direction to get rid of this investigation. >> at the time did you say anything to the president about that? it's not an appropriate request? >> i didn't. >> why? >> i don't know. i think as i said earlier, i think the circumstances were such that it was -- i was a bit stunned and didn't have the presence of mind. a really significant fact, to me, why did he kick everybody out of the oval office? why would you kick the attorney general, the president, the chief of staff, out to talk to me if it was about something else? >> quite frankly, the president has informed around 6 billion people that he's not real fond of this investigation. do you think there's a difference in that? >> yes. >> okay. >> there's a big difference in kicking superior officers o out of the oval office, looking the fbi director in the eye and saying i hope you'll let this
go. i think if the agents, as good as they are, heard the president of the united states did that, there's a real risk of a chilling effect on their work. >> joining me now, nbc's cakasi hunt on capitol hill. nbc's ken dilanian. "the new york times'" white house correspondent julie davis. thank withdrew, ayou, all. it's been a long day for everyone. what a dramatic opportunity to hear straight from jim comey about what this was like on the receiving end. he saved it for today and the moments -- julie, i know you talked about being struck by that very first interaction that comey felt compelled to memorialize in a detailed memo that he started typing in the fbi vehicle before it even pulled away from the curb outside of trump tower. talk about what jim comey made clear today he felt in the presence of donald trump. >> well, first of all, he made it clear that he didn't really trust president trump from the very beginning. that one of the reasons, there were a few, but one of the reasons he decided to put this,
commit this all to writing, was that he thought there was a decent chance that president trump might lie later about the nature of the conversation, and he felt it had been a very awkward interaction and that in some way that he was being treated inappropriately and having his independence compromised or being asked to sort of compromise it in a way that wasn't appropriate. and so he did sort of from that very first interaction sort of make sure that he was committing, you know, to memory and, indeed, ultimately to a written record what was going on, and what you saw and what became clear as he testified today was that he had sort of set up this whole system of failsafes by doing that throughout these interactions and this series of exchanges with the president that he then set into motion after he was asked or forced out and, you know, in part it was the fact that he had been left alone with the president repeatedly and he felt uncomfortable with that,
but ult pat imately it was the president tweeting there may be tapes of these exchanges that, you know, he sort of was implicitly threatening to release out there that comey felt this was the time, that these accounts that he'd been keeping, you know, needed to be public. >> and it was a -- it was one of the lighter moments of the testimony when he said "lordy, i hope there were tapes." ken dilanian, in a note you sent around to your colleagues, we all benefit from your investigative eye on todays like today, you said comey said while he didn't want to opine on whether trump was seeking to obstruct justice, he is sure the special counsel will be examining that. that seems like a pretty big deal. >> reporter: yeah, that's one of the things i took away from today, nicolle, you know, while the rnc just put out a statement and donald trump's lawyer said the president is not under investigation, james comey sure thinks he is. and james comey is a friend of bob mueller's. don't forget, comey disclosed during this hearing today that he turned over his memos.
the memos he wrote after each conversation with the president. to special counsel bob mueller. and at least on two occasions, comey said, and one case he used the term -- he used the word, sure. he said i'm sure the special counsel is going to exam whether this conduct rose to the level of obstruction. we don't know for sure, can't say definitively but it's a good bet mueller is investigating the president for obstruction of justice. the other thing i took away is that while comey didn't explicitly accuse the president of obstruction, he did everything he could to make that case. he basically said, look, the president directed me to fire mike flynn then fired me when i didn't do it and lied about it. law professors are divided on this question. there's a lot of opinions whether this goes to the level of obstruction. two i talked to today said it clearly does. one who said two weeks ago he wasn't there, after today's testimony he believes there's a prima far s sha case, that dona
trump obstructed justice. nicolle. >> kasie hunt, i wonder what the political reaction was to the very same question. did they feel like comey made progress or traveled any distance in changing their views as to whether or not there was an obstruction of justice case to be made against president trump? >> reporter: well, nicolle, look, i think there are a lot of former prosecutors and even more lawyers here in congress so there are certainly people with opinions about whether or not this was the case, but almost to a person the members of congress i talked to, they don't want to say, okay, this is definitely an obstruction of justice case. they want to say, we have to get all the evidence and that at the end of the day is not a decision for us to make. but i do think that it's pretty clear that comey came away retaining his credibility and if anything, increasing it with this committee both in public and also when he went behind closed doors to talk to them more. they felt like he answered their questions.
there was, you know, obviously the kasowitz statement in the wake of this essentially accused jim comey of lying under oath. i do not get the sense from the people that i talked to since this hearing wrapped up that that is how the senators feel. they feel that mr. comey was honest with them and the questions that they asked him behind closed doors in that classified briefing, it sounds like based on the senators i've spoken to, that he did go further and that he talked a little bit more about the status of that fbi russia investigation. senator joe manchin is a member of the committee, he was in the closed-door session. i talked to him a little ways down the lawn here as he was coming back. take a look at what he had to say. >> the one question kept asking is that to you believe it rises to this level of obstruction? and there was -- he says on that, that would be premature to say any of that at this time are. >> reporter: did he say by the time he left the bureau, there was evidence of collusion between the trump campaign and
russia officials? >> i think it was asked more directly from the president, if we knew the president had any direct ties or involved in any of these -- he said he saw nothing of that. hen we left, he said i saw nowhere where the president was directly involved. >> reporter: so comey was willing to discuss a little bit about what he knew saying, of course, there were no direct ties between the president, himself, and these russians at the time that he was fired as fbi director. that was the question that, of course, the senators were pressing him on behind closed doors. the question now, who else is going to talk? if you have the evidence that comey hasing in the blanks elsewhere. obviously they had trouble with michael flynn. one place to look next is jared kushner, the committee indicated previously might be willing to come talk. there have been developments in intervening months that could put kushner in a more difficult position than when he initially agreed to cooperation with this investigation. that's what i would take a look at going forward, nicolle.
>> incredible reporting all day long. thank you, kasie. julia, i want to go back to you, one of the flashpoints came today when senator collins was asking jim comey about how some of the information about the memos and notes he took about that exchange with the president about mike flynn got out and he acknowledged that he had asked a friend to share it with the source at your paper. do you want to talk about sort of becoming part of the story that you're coveringing? >> well, it was interesting, i mean, a lot of this reporting has been done by my colleagues, particularly mike schmidt and the tick tock of how this all came out was really filled out today. so we reported, mike reported back on may 11th that -- about this first meeting in which -- or this dinner at the white house between the president and jim comey in which comey has now said publicly he was asked for his loyalty, several times, and demured and ended up being asked
or saying, i'll promise you my honesty, the president said i expect your honest loyalty. they sort of left it at that. he -- comey understood that to be a request for patronage essentially, that he was going to do what trump wanted him to do in exchange for keeping his job and felt very uncomfortable with that. we reported that and then subsequently, the president took to twitter, as he's want to do, and commented that, you know, comey better hope there are -- better understand that there could be tapes before he starts leaking. and that, comey says, is what prompted him to think, you know what, a few days later, he said he woke up in the middle l of the night and said, i better get my version of events out there and that prompted him to turn to a friend and ask his friend to provide to the press a copy of the some of these memos that he had kept memorializing these conversations. and the important part about that, i think, is that, you know, as i said before, he had these memos as a kind of failsafe. he had been keeping them in
reserve because he felt uncomfortable with what was going on and he wasn't sure where this was all going. that was the triggering factor for him, and it's just fascinating to know that from our perspective having been on the receiving end, that that's actually what set this all in motion. in fact, trump, himself. >> story that we hear over and over again with this president and this presidency. thank you, all, very much. i'm going to bring my panel in. joining me, michael steele, former senior adviser to jeb bush. former spokesman for john boehner. speaker john boehner. jen palmieri, former clinton campaigns communications director. matthew miller, former spokesman for the justice department in the obama administration. my tv husband for the day. we've been on the air since 9:00 a.m. an msnbc analyst. in washington, d.c., nbc legal contributor, former federal prosecutor, paul butler, who doesn't rise to husband status but we've also been on the air all day. i feel like we've been having this conversation since 9:00 this morning. the dramatic moments to me today seem to fall into three
categories. one, what donald trump asked comey to do that was just so outside the realm and the norm and we'll have this debate about whether or not it was illegal, obstruction of justice. two, for all the interactions we had with the sitting president which is not normal, your old boss, my old boss, did not call the head of the fbi down for dinner and ask him for loyalty pledges, but u for all those interactions, never one question about russia. who was very seriously meddling in our democracy. and then, three, this exchange that julia was talking about about leaks. what for you, what do you think we'll still be talking about 24 hours from now? >> i think we're still going to be talking about the fact that jim comey went under oath on the record and said the president lied. the president lied about our conversation. jim comey, in his memo, recorded the president asked him to back off the flynn investigation. the president said, you know, in the white house, that's not true, the president's statement, the statement released from his attorney today, continued to say
it's not true. there are two ways we can get to the bottom of that. we can either -- the president can either release the tapes, if they exist, and you have to assume they don't exist or they wouldn't have released the statement today denying something the tapes would contradict, or the president can go under oath in some form or fashion with an fbi agent, before the grand jury and that gets to the second biggest takeaway today. something you heard ken dilanian say. bob mueller all but confirmed the extent someone's not conducting the investigation can confirm -- i'm sorry, jim comey all but confirmed bob mueller is going to investigate obstruction of justice. and if he does investigate obstruction of justice, he's going to want to talk to the president under oath. >> yeah. jen palmieri, you put out a tweet that caught my attention in the white house response. you said that was a reckless and stupid thing to do, significantly accelerated trump's ultimate reckoning with law and congress. you also, we were talking before the show, about how he's now ensnared all these other ways honorable public servants in this sort of web of differing stories at best, lies at worst.
>> yeah, and who -- and these servants like coates and rogers, to date put the president's interests over their own. i don't know how much longer that can hold out. what i meant by that, this is point of the scandal where people like me, communications people, have to step out of the picture. what matters is prediotecting t president from the legal flank. to do a statement like they did now, that was really reckless because they refer to coates, refer to rogerrogers, that mean coates and rogers were up on the hill yesterday. that means michael knows from his time on the hill, they're going to get called back by the intel committee and going to be asked, members of congress are going to demand that they address on the record whether or not the president ever spoke to them about comey. i suspect that based on their cagy answers yesterday that he did. so they are trying to avoid -- trying to avoid perjury traps for the president, but they set themselves up really badly with this statement. it guarantees that the president's going to get called
by bob mueller, and then if he lies to him, that can be the -- that can cause prosecution that unfolds in the congress. cabinet secretary's going to get pulled back up there. this is when withdryou have to what they should have done is put out a dry statement, their home base, here are the three safe sentences we can say about what the president never did. not start a whole -- not put a whole bunch more on the table we can all pick apart. >> you only have 20 seconds. i promise i'll come back to you on the other side of the break. you were nodding through a lot of that. >> yeah, i think there's enough here for the president's supporters to hang their hat on. the fact comey told him he wasn't under investigation. the fact comey leaked this memo. they'll continue to support him. for people looking at this objectively, it's a bad day for president trump and his supporters. >> all right. we'll start with you on the next round. when we come back, more on the president's response to today's testimony. we'll hear from donald trump's personal lawyer and someone who worked on the trump transition.
our special coverage of the comey hearing continuing after this. >> my impression was, something big is about to happen, i need to remember every single word that is spoken and, again, i could be wrong, i'm 56 years old, i've been -- seen a few things. my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving which is why he was lingering. i don't know mr. kushner well, but i think he picked up on the same thing and so i knew something was about to happen that i needed to pay very close attention to. garfunkel (instrumental) is that good? yeah it's perfect. bees! bees! go! go! go! [ girl catching her breath } [ bees buzzing inside vehicle ] the all-new volkswagen atlas. with easy-access 3rd row. life's as big as you make it.
investigated for colluding with, or attempting to obstruct, any investigation. as to the committee pointed out today, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not been leaked during the course of these events. as he said yesterday, the president feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with this agenda, with the business of this country, and with this public cloud removed. >> that was marc kasowitz, president trump's personal attorney. not an employee of the federal government or of the white house counsel's office. paul butler, i want to bring you into the conversation, ask you what you made of both the message and the messenger? and i heard you say earlier today that you thought that jim comey's testimony today may have moved prosecutors and investigators closer to an obstruction of justice case
against president trump. >> true, nicolle. make no mistake, james comey is a flawed witness. we still don't have a good answer for why he was so anxious to tell trump that he was not under investigation or why when trump asked for his loyalty he didn't just say no. that's an inappropriate question, mr. president, and leave the room. and why he met with trump one-on-one nine times in three months. and three years, president obama met with comey, director comey, two times. so, like any witness, he's got a lot of baggage, but the two most important words comey used today are "order can" and "directive." that's how he interpreted trump's remark about laying off michael flynn. if i'm a prosecutor, that makes james comey my star witness in an obstruction of justice case. he more or less admitted that his interpretation was that mr.
trump tried to impede an official proceeding. >> all right. thank you, paul. stay with us for the whole hour. joining the discussion now, anthony, a former member of the trump transition team. and who knows what your future will hold. but tell us, is this going to be the entire defense of the trump team that comey -- that comey's basically a flawed witness and that donald trump didn't say what he said he said? even though it took them a whole lot of time to deny what everyone said he said about flynn. >> well, first of all, i do -- look, the president feels vindicated. i think the facts -- >> why? >> well, i think comey admitted several questions that he was not under investigation, that president, himself, is not under investigation. >> that's not what he's accused of. he's accused of his orbit having ties with russia. that's what we're investigating. >> here's the problem. i think that whole thing is a hoax.
>> the russia investigation is a hoax? james comey saying the russians are coming for us is fake news? >> different. the russians doing what they did potentially to subvert our election is very different from the came papaign and administra and potentially now-president working alongside -- >> you think the investigation is a hoax into trump's orbit and russia? >> i think the trump orbit thing is definitely a hoax, absolutely. >> why do you think -- >> it's made up stuff because it's scandals incorporated in washington. >> why did sessions recuse himself? >> they would have done it to secretary clinton. >> it doesn't make sense. he can't make up an investigation -- >> issues are related to attorney general lynch and president clinton. >> was that a hoax? >> she would be on the hill right now with her team doing this -- >> this is what drives people crazy. you like comey when enhe attack lynch but say it's a hoax when he's investigating russia? >> i didn't say that. >> i'm confused.
it's been a long day. >> let's bifurcate the two things and separate it. if the russians did -- >> you think it's an if, you don't think -- >> it seems likely, but i don't have the information or the security clearance -- >> douyou don't believe what jo mccain believes and lindsey graham believes that the russians are interested in meddling with all western democracies? >> i just said it seems very likely. i don't have the -- >> you're not convinced. >> it's bifurcated. one thing is not related to the other. that's a big thing the american people also believe. the president and his team, in my opinion, i was there watching the thing trans priprior, had nothing to do with the russians. >> why was sergey kislyak meeting with mike flynn? >> let me finish. did we interact them after the trans-asi transition? >> after? normal? normal to go to a russian agency instead of a back channel? >> let that transpire. >> they haven't denied it. >> jared will get the opportunity to explain himself. in normal course of business during a presidential transition, a leadership reaches out to foreign nations.
that's happened for the last 200 years. >> why did -- >> jen palmieri, i got to bring you in here because where i get lost, i met one russian and i worked for george bush for eight years and i never forgot it. but so many people in the trump orbit met with so many russians, they forgot about it when they filled out sf-86 forms. we've all filled those out if we worked in the government. they forgot about it when they -- poor jeff sessions i think had the worst day of all today. he's been recused. i thought that -- i thought that jim comey alluded to knowing exactly why he's not -- >> you don't think loretta lynch had a bad day today? >> i didn't say anything, i'm not defending -- you seem to -- >> who cares? >> democrats who didn't -- >> you're saying who cares but there is some -- >> you're saying twho cares abot the russia investigation. >> i didn't say that. >> more than that, he said it was a hoax. >> i don't think that the trump campaign team or the trump people did anything nefarious. >> trump said -- >> go ahead. >> trump said to comey, he said
maybe somebody in my orbit did something wrong, we should find out, look into that. >> satellites. >> the satellites. >> michael steele? >> so if -- >> hang on. anthony, hang on. >> the president hasn't been involved. >> hang on. let me -- anthony, just hang on. michael steele, tell me -- your old boss, john boehner, was on the hill today watching the hearings, i understand. i hear he sings hallelujah with his happiness -- >> he really, really does. happiest man in america. >> i believe you. he and george w. bush. i want to ask you, i thought richard burr, the republican chairman of the committee came off as a very honest broker seeking the truth. and i want to know if you think as someone who worked for the former speaker, someone who sort of comes out of the establishment wing of the republican party, that it was compelling to hear james comey say that russia is coming after us? and that these are questions we have to get to the bottom of? >> i think it's not just compelling, it's terrifying. i'm proud of my home-state senator mr. burr for doing that. this is something we can't sweep
under the rug. i think there is, to mr. scaramucci's point, a legitimate question whether russian interference in the election meant they were colluding with the trump ogsrganization and we don't yet have evidence of that. at the same time, we have to take this threat seriously. >> i agree with that -- >> do you think the president by asking the fbi director to back off mike flynn was helping or hurting the russia investigation? >> i think the president has a certain casual personality. he's making an adjustment to being president. only two short years ago that he entered the political realm and he was probably trying to build a rapport. you mentioned that he met with him nine times. he was really trying to assess mr. comey and whether mr. comey was the right guy for him to be the fbi director. >> you don't think he was trying to get his friend, mike flynn, out of legal trouble? comey testified -- >> he throws everybody else under the bus. mike flynn is the only one -- let corey lewandowski go, he was happy to let paul manafort --
>> why are all these guys so loyal to him, corey lewandowski, myself, if we're thrown under the bus? it's totally wrong. >> mike flynn -- >> hang on, anthony, let jen finish. >> mike flynn is the one person he seems willing to -- he's very worried about what mike flynn has to say and he to this day -- >> hang on, jen. go ahead, anthony. >> mike flynn is an american patriot, one of the best intelligence officers we have of his generation. mike flynn was also extremely helpful to the president during the process leading into the nomination and into the transition. would have made a great national security adviser. >> if he hadn't broken the law or been under criminal investigation. >> hold on a second. let that story unfold as well. this is a judge and a jury here i understand because it's television. >> didn't the president judge him by firing him? >> mike flynn is an innocent man until proven guilty. why don't we let this thing unfold then make that decision? >> why didn't the president let it unfold? >> what are you talking about? mike flynn admitted he misspoke to the vice president.
result of which they let him go. he's an honorable guy and an american patriot and served the country in a time of war. i like the guy. i happen to like the guy. >> happen to agree to disagree about mike flynn. >> he's not guilty. >> mike flynn sought immunity. >> let's litigate that at this table, he is not guilty -- >> are you going into the trump administration? >> we'll see. time will tell. >> good luck with thereat. they'd be lucky to have you. anthony scaramucci, thank you. coming up, how democrats on the hill are responding at this hour. >> hiwhy didn't you stop and sa mr. president, this is wrong, i cannot discuss this with you? >> it's a great question. maybe if i were stronger, i would have. i was so stunned by the conversation that i just took it in and the only thing i could think to say, because i was playing in my mind, because i remember every word he said, i was playing in my mind what should my response be? that's why i very carefully chose the words.
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hi, everyone. joining me now is democratic senator chris kuhns of delaware. senator, thanks so much for being with us. i wonder what you make of the day in its entirety. >> nicolle, this was really compelling testimony by former fbi director jim comey. what i saw was a seasoned senior former federal law enforcement leader, former prosecutor, who was very measured and more careful in what he had to say today. first off the top, he reinforced that there is no dispute about whether russia, with the direction of vladimir putin, interfered in our 2016 election and because they paid no real price for having done so, they will come again. they will come after us in our 2018 and 2020 elections. they are currently interfering with our allies' elections in europe, and if we don't come
together in a bipartisan way to address this threat to our democracy, shame on us, first. second, he recounted, as you discussed with your panel recently here, some pretty alarming allegations that the president either didn't know or didn't care what the appropriate separation between a partisan elected president and the head of the fbi should be. and he crossed that line repeatedly making unethical or inappropriate efforts to direct comey to shut down the investigation into former national security adviser and general mike flynn. and to ask for his personal loyalty rather than what's appropriate which is the fbi director to pledge his loyalty to the constitution. >> start, i waenator, i want to i'm glad you brought this back to russia because i feel like very quickly after the testimony ended, everyone went to their corners and started staring at trees instead of looking at the forest and what jim comey did expertly today was to remind us that russia is coming after us.
and that we weaken ourselves. ambassador mcfaul also made the point when we fight amongst ourselves, we weaken ourselves in the eyes of everyone but also in the eyes of the russians. i wonder how we can strengthen ourselves, get to the bottom of this and what you need the administration to do to cooperate? would you advocate for granting someone like mike flynn immunity to get to the bottom of this more quickly? i'm not sure that was put to your committee but put to the senate intel committee and they rejected his request for immunity. >> first to that point, i think that's a decision that has to be made very carefully and in consultation with special counsel bob mueller. you may remember during the iran-contra hearings and investigations that ultimately was because of a congressional grant of immunity that the conviction of oliver north and others were set aside because that immunity ultimately was seen as being in comp flinflict their convictions through a criminal process. i'd want to make sure we step
carefully in the immunity-granting conversation but what should we be doing? first, to me, it's outrageous that this administration is allegedly considering giving back to the russians the two properties that they enjoyed use of for decades and from which they arguably derived some intelligence benefit in the suburbs of new york and of washington. this was among the only punishments that the obama administration was able to mete out against the russians for their interference in our election before president obama left office. kicking them out of those two properties and imposing sanctions. there is a bipartisan bill of which i'm a co-sponsor in the senate that would make it much more difficult for president trump to lift the sanctions against russia and there's a bipartisan bill of which i'm also a co-sponsor that has ten republicans and ten democrats on it that would impose new sanctions on russia. that has a waiver provision that would make it possible for the president to demonstrate that there's been some progress in addressing relations with russia. in the panel that you just had,
it was really striking that the gentleman there representing the trump transition team seemed to say, why is everyone all concerned about russia? it's completely appropriate that during the transition, jared kushner allegedly tried to open a back channel with moscow with the kremlin through the russian embas embassy. let's just review that for a moment. in recent years, vladimir putin and russia have invaded and occupied the territory of a neighboring country, cry mereim ukraine. take bin the side of bashar al assad. and they've interfered in elections of vital allies in europe, most recently france and repeatedly tried to undermine the upcoming elections in germany. this isn't limited to the united states. their aggression against our nato allies and against our democracy is just part of a larger plan of aggression by vladimir putin's russia. and why this administration would choose to make a sharp departure from longstanding
republican party policy and cozy up to this authoritarian regime is beyond me and it's part of why on a bipartisan basis, there's a lot of questions here in washington about why the trump administration is so supportive of closer relations with vladimir putin. >> yep. you can draw the string all the way back to the changes in the gop platform. i could talk to you all afternoon. i really appreciate you spending some time with us. thank you, senator coons. up next, more on russian interference. >> did the president in any of these interactions that you've shared with us today ask you what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect america against russian interference in our election system? >> i don't recall a conversation like that. >> never? >> no. >> do you find it odd? >> not with president trump. >> right. >> attended a fair number of meetings on that with president obama. it's time for "your
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foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of otheryied to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. that is a big deal, and people need to recognize it. it's not about republicans or democrats. they're coming after america. they want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. they think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them and so they're going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. that's what this is about, and they will be back. >> they will be back, a stern warning there from jim comey about russia and future u.s. elections. joining the conversation is msnbc national security analyst evelyn farka skrs. responsible for policy regarding russia. now a senior fellow at the atlantic council. former u.s. am bass dr to russia, michael mcfaul, msnbc russian affairs contributor. i'm going to come to you both but i have to go to my fellow republican on the table. at the break, we were talking
about how far we've tumbled as a republican party basically standing by and some republicans offering up lame excuses for a president who refuses to press to get to the bottom of ties between trump's orbit and are russia. >> right, if they're not guilty of anything or if it's just satellites, he seems to do everything humanly possible to make it appear as though there's a there, there. we remember when john mccain looked into putin's eyes and saw kgb and don't trust these guys. >> george w. bush, my old boss. so what has happened? >> i think that -- >> why did they let our platform change to make it -- to weaken the consequences for russia for their aggression with their neighbors? >> because donald trump won the primaries and he has always campaigned and pretty clear, actually, to his credit, that he has a different view of russia than most republicans. that was reflected in the pea s party's platform and reflected since he became president. >> evelyn, what is the sort of chain or the bread crumbs, i know intel folks have been
talking about bread crumbs that they left, to sort of highlight this trail? but connect some dots for me between mike flynn and what he is alleged to have done, meetings he didn't disclose, jeff sessions, meetings he had and didn't disclose in his background forms or his confirmation hearing, reports of jared kushner's secret attempts to set up a back channel, not just in secret but at russian installations, and what michael and i were just talking about, a real change, a sea change in u.s./russian relations? >> yeah, nicolle, first of all, thanks for having me on the show. second of all, i'm a political scientist so we call them variables, i guess. >> bread crumbs, equivalent -- we call them food things. okay. tell me about the variables. >> but i mean, all of these meetings show that there was first of all, a disturbing amount of interaction between the trump campaign prior to the, you know, prior to -- well, certainly prior to the inauguration. we don't know how far back it
goes, actually, and i'm guessing that that's something the fbi is looking into it, but it's a whole host of people around trump's orbit and they're not just all, quote/unquote, satellites. paul manafort when he was the head of the campaign was hardly a zlisatellite. he may now be a sflit satellite bullet but my understanding is he still lives in the trump building in new york. the kushner meeting, i have an op-ped in today's "new york times" about it pointing out if you're hemeeting with the head the state-owned bank, you have a straight line to the kremlin. we don't know what kushner was talking about. it's hard to imagine they could have been talking about anything legitimate that wasn't just sort of speculative because that bank is under sanction. so jared kushner could not have been talking about doing any business short of lifting sanctions with that bank. and remember, this is december, this is while we have one president at a time and it's barack obama. if i can just make one other
point, nicolle, though, you know, director comey, former director comey said that the russians will be back, and i really want to push become on that because i don't think the russians left. i mean, they're here today. they've collected the information they collected in the past, perhaps they probably collected from the rnc as well, and they're continuing to do their propaganda work, feed things in through the internet, through the twitter sphere, to the american public, reading public on the internet and perhaps into print media if they can get it. so i wouldn't rest easy and say they're coming back. they're here now and they're going to increase their activity as we get closer to significant elections. >> ambassador mcfaul, how big of a deal was it that the people that donald -- president trump turned to when he wanted to call jim comey a nutcase and crazy, were two men who'd been banished from obama's oval office, sergey
kislyak and sergey lavrov, russian foreign minister and the russian ambassador to the u.s. >> well, i think it gets to the big fundamental foreign policy debate, and i'll pivot back to the collusion part if you're interested. but i want to start where you started, which is that the russians attacked us, they violated our sovereignty, there's no disagreement between democrats and republicans that i know about this, and why in the face of that is our president not pushing back on it? the thing -- there are lots of little interesting tidbits in the comey hearings today, but one of them i thought was very revealing was the clip you just played about ten minutes ago where he said he had several conversations with president obama about this intervention. he never had a conversation with president trump about it. that's disturbing to me, not as a democrat or a republican, but as an american concerned about national security. why does he not care about our national security? that is strange to me. >> you know, jen, this was my
first reaction when we came out of nearly three hours of testimony. i said to brian williams, i said the most stunning thing to me is for all these contacts between they were more than normal. chock them up to ignorance or they've been leaning on the stupidity defense a lot lately. never once did donald trump want to know how the investigation into russia's role in our democratic election was going. >> it is stunning. what a competent white house concerned that national security would do, they would say no one wants to get to the bottom of this quicker than president trump. no one wants to know more than him what happened here and we need to protect our democracy in the future. at every turn, he takes opportunity -- >> doesn't that prove how legitimate his win is if he has that confidence? >> at every turn, he backs putin. >> and that would allow them to get past this. to compartmentalize this and
make progress on repealing obamacare, on infrastructure, all the things republicans elected them to do. >> do you agree with marco rubio that nothing gets done, serg peril itsed until the russia cloud lifts? >> as long as the president continues to behave the way he does, yes. the problem with this investigation for the president, it is two things. one, his public reaction to it. so he comes out and tweets things like bringing up the exist tense of tape that's set the media ablaze. >> can we stop pretending like they must exist? isn't it pretty clear? >> one way or the other, the fact they won't confirm or denial it. it >> the president keeps doing inappropriate things. not just what he says.
it is behind the scenes. trump's reaction is to call the director of national intelligence and ask him to speak publicly. if he would just leave this investigation to the side. >> let me bring in my former national security officials. i want to know what kind of stranl it puts on foreign policy responsibilities, directly tied to our security at home and our standing in the world, to have a president whose personal lawyer goes out and says, we'll prosecute and hunt down anyone who is leaking conversations with the president, that the president has already tweeted about. what does it do to the men and women? i'll thinking of dni coats, h.r. mcmaster. people who have had the jobs that you both have. what does do it to people like that when we have a president around the world who doesn't always look like someone who could be taken seriously or trusted, even by his own fbi
director. >> first, i don't think it would bother h.r. mcmaster or any serious security professional that they're clamping down on leaks. that's not the issue. the issue is that they're not taking russia threat seriously. this is a higher ranking threat, more existential to the united states right now than terrorism. and i don't say that lightly. i was the xefexecutive director. >> managing msnbc agreed with you. he said that russia is a bigger threat than isis. >> ambassador, the same question to you. >> for those national security professionals, some of whom are my friends, it means we don't have an inner agency process to make a policy toward russia. so they don't know what the policy. is they're not executing a policy. enstead, they're waiting for tweets and the investigation to finish. that's not good policy. and back to your point, it is not good for american leadership in the world.
game where one team scores ten runs in the first inning and then the other team scores ten runs in the second inning. i think comey's initial testimony was incredibly damming. and i spent all the day at the white house talking with staffers and i think they were fearing worst. and then comey came out with his admission that he had been the source behind one of those leaks. and then he talked about loretta lynch. and they feel very strongly they have a way to muddy the water on his testimony. and to show their own supporters that he is winning, doing. so winning. they can't seriously think that they advanced anywhere. i think every legal analyst we've talked to since 10:00 morning comey put in place some of the pieces of an obstruction of justice case. >> the president doesn't feel
the obstruction of justice case, his lawyers aren't telling him it is a serious peril. we'll find out whether or not he is mistaken. but in terms of the news cycle, it was extremely tense bored ordering panicked this morning. particularly on the loretta lynch stuff, they feel like they have a counter argument that the previous administration was doing this stuff politically. and as you know, that's trump's big argument. that the obama folks were just as underhanded in looking to undermine him. in terms of the mood music in the west wing, it improved significantly. >> let me get to you quickly to weigh in on the ignorance defense. he didn't know. he wasn't supposed to ask an fbi buddy. >> they sort of own up to it.
what is interesting now is, when people talk to you off the record or in the back ground, people who work for the president. they're a lot more comfortable now talking about what he doesn't know. the question is does the president come to recognize that? but yes. i think ignorance at this point might be their best defense. >> i hear a lot of that, too. thank you. so for being with us. for making time with us. thank you. >> hi, nicole. >> we have some basketball to talk about. >> who won last night? >> cleveland was winning. >> cleveland lost. go warriors! >> if it's thursday, james comey is on capitol hill and guess what, so are we. good evening. i'm chuck todd live from capitol hill.