tv Deadline White House MSNBC June 16, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
insightful analysis. the best part is my friend, stephanie ruhle. find me on twitter, facebook, n ingram, @alivelshi. "deadline white house with nicolle wallace" starts right now. hi, everyone, it's 4:00. another day, another tweet storm from the leader of the free world, tweets confirming he's under investigation. at 9:07, president trump tweeted this, "i'm being investigated for firing the fbi director by the man who told me to fire the fbi director." sean spicer described the president's tweets as official white house statements. this morning's tweet, a dramatic shift of the president's personal understanding of his situation a couple weeks ago. >> we lahad a very nice dinner, told me you're not under investigation. >> that was one meeting. >> first of all, when you're under investigation, you're giving all sorts of documents and everything.
i knew i wumpbasn't under. i heard it was stated at some committee level that i wasn't. then during the phone call, he said it, then during another phone call, he said it. so he said it once at dinner then he said it twice during phone calls. >> that was then. this is now. let's go right to our white house reporters, nbc's hans nichols, ashley parker from the "washington post," eli stokols of the "wall street journal." so, hans, how is the white house pushing back as strong as they are when the person they're pushing back against is the president? rmp well, they're not, nicolle. what question have is a comment from a source close to the president's outside legal team. you know, any white house is going to have different power structures. different competing centers that are trying to grab the president's attention. in this case, it looks like the outside counsel, someone close to that outside counsel, sources saying that he wasn't confirming that he is being investigated. nicolle, that runs directly contrary to what the president
said his tweet which was, i am being investigated. that's how he started it off. so i'm having a difficult time squaring these two statements. perhaps, you can shed some light on it. it seems clear to me that president donald trump confirmed that he is under investigation. nicolle? >> yeah, i think we can't travel too far down the rabbit hole, have to take the guy at his words, he's being investigated. eli stokols, what would the white house like us to believe he intended with this morning's tweetstorm? >> i mean, weeks ago they were trying to say people understood what he meant when he tweeted covfefe. we're at this point -- >> oh, eli with the covfefe reference. there you go. >> sort of given up trying to i think explain, parse, interpret, you know, all these questions just get deferred to outside counsel. the president knew what he meant, the tweet speaks for itself. there are no good explanations for this unless you sort of sit here and accept whatever they say on the face unless you say, well, words don't have any meaning except whatever the president tells us that they mean at the time. it's not even clear what he's
talking about in these tweets. we believe he's referencing rosenstein in the tweet this morning, but even that's not clear. >> eli, i don't want to be glib about this because you make a really solemn point. are we at the point -- are you guys at the point as people who cover this white house where the words that the president utters have no meaning? >> well, i think a lot of us have to sort of question the words that come from not just the president, but from other people that we talk to on a daily basis. and even if we believe that they are telling us the truth, as best they know it, it's also hard to sometimes ascertain whether or not they actually know what the president is thinking or what he intends to do. and a lot of times, they'll be pretty direct with you and just say, look, we didn't know he was going to tweet this, we're not sure what he means. we've kind of given up trying to come him or corral him or to sort of rein in some of these impuli impulses, he's going to do what he wants to do. >> ashley bark parker, you got
of the most colorful reporting on what it's like on the 18-acre complex which is the white house. sounds like a big space, but the walls close in in the midst of a are crisis. talk about the mood amongst staffers. when you are to hire a lawyer as a white house staffer, the white house doesn't pay for it. you pay for it. if you're a young staffer, you get a credit card, put it on a line out credit. if you've been in and out of the private sector, you pay for it out of your assets. talk about life inside this white house today when they're in the situation of hiring private attorneys then they see the president on twitter saying one thing, and saying another about being under investigation, himself. >> of course. well, i think it's sort of -- i don't want to say the final straw, but it's certainly a late in the game straw, and as you know, the white house is a cool place to work, in theory. that's how a lot of these staffers, especially mid-level ones who maybe president trump was not their first, second, or
even 12th choice for president were drawn into this administration, but then you have a situation where there's, you know, leaks to the media, you know, just about every single day. there's staff infighting and these aides having to sort of watch their own backs every day. you have an unpredictable kind of rash president who sometimes even belittles his staff, especially his senior staff, and now you have a staff that's looking around and while the president's own attorney has reportedly told them, no, no, you don't need to get a lawyer, they sort of look around and say, well, the president got a lawyer, the vice president just got a lawyer yesterday, the president's own lawyer, outside lawyer, michael cohen, just got a lawyer. and, you know, when staff members are lawyering up, you're right, it is expensive for young staff and they're just sort of getting increasingly worried. they're worried about text messages even from friends. they're worried about subpoenas. it's not a great headspace to be in right here. >> hans, let me ask you how some of these big headlines today have knocked this white house, and what impact they've had. so, other than the president acknowledging early this morning that he's under investigation,
we woke up to a headline that the trump transition team was ordered to preserve all records. we talked about this a lot. for folks like jared kushner who we know has been asked to preserve records, he's got a lawyer. he's got a lot of personal wealth. but talk about the universe of people who are on that white house staff who were affected by the news today that the entire transition team was ordered to preserve all records and documents pertaining to russia that they may have conveyed or communicated with -- during that transition period. >> reporter: well, most the folks that are working here at the white house worked on the transition. whether or not they were on the transition before the election, or after, that was sort of headquarters and that was where a lot of things were done. it was just down the street, had an office there further down washington, d.c. you had today this order of preserving records. a legal way of saying don't destroy anything, don't shred anything. now, this came from the legal counsel of the transition. not from outside counsel. but it seems as though they're
anticipating they could be asked to turn some of this over, and that's why they want to preserve it. you know, nicolle, more broadly, you asked me about sort of what the mood is at the white house today. it almost seems like there are three, four, separate stories taking place. one, there's the "washington post" stories from last night. some great reporting by ashley and others. two, there's what the president's tweeting this morning confirming that he's under investigation. >> yeah. >> reporter: then three, you have this notion of the president down there undoing a lot of things the obama administration did on cuba, which would be a massive story any other day of the week. then finally which has almost gotten buried in this news cycle, president donald trump has gone back on a campaign promise on the dreamers. he's letting some 800,000 children of immigrants who came here illegally stay in the country. that's barely gotten any attention at all. so that's four or five stories. we're not even talking about whether or not al baghdadi has been killed in syria as well. so much going on. and the president, as he often does, overtakes these news cycles with his thumbs.
>> hans, you're in the nbc family so you get to go back to work. eli and ashley drew the short sticks. they have to stick around. i'm going to bring my panel in. joining me, msnbc national affairs analyst, john heilemann. former clinton campaign communications director jen palmieri. national action network president, the rev al sharpton. was from massachusetts, msnbc analyst, former senior adviser to the bush/cheney campaign, my friend, robert tranam. jen, you were nodding because the news that the president maybe intended to make today, his news on dreamers -- >> yeah, big deal. >> -- may have actually been something that received bipartisan praise, but when you wake up to headlines about your son-in-law's finances being scrutinized by the special counsel, when you wake up and you make more headlines, yourself, on twitter by acknowledging you're under investigation, not a lot of attention gets paid to the news you plan to make. >> yeah, this is why it's ridiculous for anybody to go in and take the communications director job at the white house now.
>> is that empty now? >> yes, it's still empty. nobody took that. >> eli stokols, do you know -- ashley -- the white house communications director officee. py they haven't been able to recruit anybody to take it. they've been trying. they haven't gotten big names from cable news like the president wants. they haven't been able to get somebody, a no-name person like mike dubke to come in and take the job he left. >> i would advise -- >> i don't think i meet the -- i don't think i tweet enough. no, seriously, on this point of the white house has at least evolved in that they have an intended message of the day. i think this was -- last week was -- >> infrastructure week. >> so they're at least now juggling scandals with intended messages. do you -- does that represent any sort of move toward normal or will they always undermine those plans of the president on twitter? >> it obviously represents an attempt to move twharoward norm.
in the end as you know from your work in politics, as you know from your work in politics, as you know just because you're smart, in the end -- >> thank you. >> work in politics. >> in all areas. the rev, experienced in almost every area of american life. if the boss, the boss is the one who is the top of the organization. so the organization can have plans and themes and dreams. but if the boss decides the boss wants to do something different, the organization is going to do what the boss wants to do and this case, i think what donald trump wanted to do this morning was to telegraph something totally different. which is he's going to fire bob mueller. and in order to fire bob mueller, he's got to get rod rosenstein to fire mueller. rod rosenstein said he's not going to fire mueller. donald trump is starting to undermine rosenstein to he can fire rosenstein and put somebody in there who will fire mueller. that's what this is about. the beginning of a takedown of rod rosenstein that will let him do what he's eventually going to want to do inevitably which is fire his special prosecutor. >> okay. we're supposed to do this later in the show. >> sorry. >> no, no, let me tell you about the man he wants to fire, bob
mueller. won a bronze star with valor. earned weeks after arriving in vietnam in 1968 after his platoon came under heavy fire. that was -- he also won a purple heart and a month later was back on patrol in the jungles of vietnam. talk to me about the political idiocy of trying to bring down a man like that. >> i mean, to really go after bob mueller, someone who has all kind of respects from -- respect from all quarterses i think is just like playing on the third rail. and i agree with john, i think that's the goal here. the reason you can't get normalcy in this white house is you can't get normalcy out of the president. >> he's just not normal, right, al? >> he's very abnormal and he's getting worse. i think that you see a man that makes up in his mind, i want to go after mueller, rosenstein will not do what i want, i'm going to go after him and he ends up getting himself by announcing he's under investigation. his goal was not to tell us he
was under investigation. his goal was mueller and rosenstein and he shot himself trying to take the gun out the holster. >> yeah. robert, you talked to republicans. i still talk to some republicans. and they mostly want to do it over alcoholic beverages these days for good reason. talk about just how difficult a day like today is for republican who's trying to be a rank and file republican, to have this white house's back. when he goes on twitter at 9:00 a.m. and does what i think he was trying to do exactly what the rev and john said, i think he's trying to take out people who have power over him. i think that's the part that he just cannot live with. talk about how dangerous and perilous that tightrope walk is for normal republicans. >> very, very difficult. for two reasons. one, let's talk about the policy. keep in mind, republicans in the senate, theests, aat leasts are pass some sort of health care bill within the next 14 14 dday.
you have the president on a policy standpoint contradicting what we did at the rose garden a couple months ago in terms of calling the bill mean. he's sending all these mixed messages from a policy standpoint. from a political standpoint, quote/unquote, normal republicans, just take the republican word out of it, just americans, most of us are old enough to remember the saturday night massacre. i remember reading about that when i was in college in terms of studying preside ining that. richard nixon fired the attorney general and deputy attorney general because they would not fire, guess what, the person that was overseeing the investigation. this is borderline subversion of law. this is really, really serious. it's not funny because the fact of the matter is, is that we have a president who is acting childish and i think republicans and democrats and all americans should be deeply concerned about this because he's basically undermining the core values of what we stand for and who we believe in.
it's no just republicans although those are the ones really drinking literally a lot of strong alcohol, but it's a lot of congressional democrats on the hill as well. >> i agree with everything you said except childish, an offensive thing to have children, i have one. everyone is staying put. when we come back, when the president takes to twit erroe eo blow off steam, no one is spared. we'll talk about rod rosenstein, today's target of the twitter tantrum. mueller's team comes under attack by trump by being, quote, bad, and quote, conflicted. we'll do a little bit of fact checking on that. stay with us. nobody's hurt, but there will still be pain. it comes when your insurance company says they'll only pay three-quarters of what it takes to replace it. what are you supposed to do? drive three-quarters of a car? now if you had liberty mutual new car replacement™, you'd get your whole car back. i guess they don't want you driving around on three wheels. smart. with liberty mutual new car replacement™, we'll replace the full value of your car. liberty stands with you™.
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did you ask for a recommendation? >> what i did is i was going to fire comey. my decision. it was not -- >> you made the decision before they came in the room. >> i was going to fire comey. there's no good time to do it, by the way. they -- >> because when you led, you said i accepted their recommendation. you had already made the decision. >> i was going to fire regardless of recommendation. >> all right. so that was president trump just two days after her fired james comey claiming credit for the decision, but now in a tweet he appears to be throwing deputy attorney general rod rosenstein under the bus. there it is. "i'm being investigated for firing the fbi director by the man who told me to fire the fbi director." all right, ashley and eli are still with me. ashley, i want to ask you a question about what effect the president's russia obsession is having on his ability to be clear-headed. i mean, this white house praised rod rosenstein.
they leaned heavily on his memo. i think i have a bit of what they had to say about him right after comey's firing. let's watch. >> he made a recommendation. he's highly respected. very good guy. very smart guy. >> that was the wrong one. ashley, my point is, this white house has leaned on rod rosenstein's credibility, his professionalism, his bipartisan sort of document that he created. and now they're lumpi ining him with everything that has wronged or slighted the president because of russia. can you talk about the effect of the president's russia obsession? >> sure. first of all, that's exactly right in that rod rosenstein is now being treated like just about anyone in trump's orbit which is they like him, until they don't. and it can switch on a dime. and so what they don't like, as we sort of discussed earlier in the show, is that this is someone who is making president trump feel out of control. and, you know, doing things that the president doesn't like in a way that the president can't really prevent.
and once that happened, once rod rosenstein appointed a special counsel to sort of broaden this probe, and it really has been broadened, you know, the "post" reported they're now looking into if the president obstructed justice. the president just cannot stand that. and one of the theories since he can't stand it, the thing he hates more than anything else is this idea that somehow his victory, his presidency, is illegitimate. so he hates the idea that the sense that he didn't really win. he's even obsessed about not winning the popular vote. it's something he can't let go. so a lot of this gets back to his obsession with russia, his now frustration with rod rosenstein, to this original sin of, you know, if he doesn't deserve the oval office. >> it sounds like he needs to move a shrink into one of the empty west wing offices. eli, i want to ask you about the relationship between the white house and the justice department at this hour, because i feel like it is an hour-by-hour reality show really. what do you understand to be the
white house staff's posture toward its own white house? i mean, toward its own justice department? >> it's hard to describe the white house posture because really i think we're talking about the president, and the president has sort of soured on his justice department. his attorney general jeff sessions and on the justice department generally as he sort of realized that it is not just there to defend him but there to judge ho uphold the law and that may end up being something that winds up being harmful to him. we saw how fast he turned on comey. we're seeing that in terms of sessions and seems today rosenstein. a lot of people in there would caution this president, but there's no way to sort of get in front of him when he has -- when he's upset, when hetwitter, air that way. no one has been able to stop him. not marc kasowitz who said initially he wouldn't take the job unless the president stopped tweeting about this investigation. there are a lot of people who would like to point out every time the president does this, he thinks he's just fighting fire
with fire. that's his m.o. he's always done it that way. but what he's really doing is throwing gasoline on the fire. since he fired comey, it's spiraled out of control. i think there are a lot of people who would like to warn him, trying to warn him gently about possibly going too far as it pertains to rosenstein here. but so far in almost five months here, we haven't really seen any staffer be able to prevent donald trump from doing something when he decides he wants to do it. >> i think that's in line with what you were saying, rev. i want to ask all of you about rod rosenstein's statement. he put out a statement from the justice department last night saying "americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous officials, particularly when they do not identify the country. let alone the branch or agency of government. with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated." so this is what came out from the administration after the latest round of stories dropped about the investigation. what do you think -- what are they getting at here? >> i do not know.
i'm -- i read that statement last night. i mean, obviously this is an investigation that has tentacles that expand beyond the united states and obviously people being looked at, commercial relationships being looked at that go outside the united states and people brought into this investigation who are not going to be u.s. citizens. >> you don't mean they were meaning to suggest -- >> it's crazy. >> jen? >> they did -- it's like every president, every candidate or president i've ever worked for wants to have the staff do something like that, then you're like, that's crazy, that's something they donwould do in a authoritarian country then the idea falls away. >> how did this get out last night? >> no rhyme or reason to this unless they thought something else was imminent in terms of being released and they were trying to get in front of it and they didn't come out. when i saw it, i'm saying they're trying to preempt something, but the something never came. until 9:00. >> that is what the staff is trying to preempt. >> i mean, you have got to be a
special kind of person to become the president and organize nsa, fbi, and now your own deputy attorney general against you. i mean, who does that? >> and i messed this up earlier, we did compile -- i mean, they have all defended -- i mean, with mueller, it's just republicans writ large and democrats who understand that he's a heroic american and public servant. but with rosenstein, he was team trump's guy. let's watch. >> he made a recommendation. he's highly respected. very good guy. very smart guy. the democrats like him. >> deputy attorney general rod rosenstein was confirmed 94-6 14 days ago and served as u.s. attorney in maryland under president obama. >> the deputy attorney general is an individual who was confirmed by the senate 94-6 just 2 weeks ago. someone who earned bipartisan praise, who served as u.s. attorney for maryland under president obama who's been watching and understanding the
fbi for years. >> somebody like the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein who everybody across the board has unequivocally said, this guy is a man of upstanding character and essentially the gold standard at the department of justice. >> so, even the gold standard doesn't protect you from donald trump on twitter, ashley parker. what do they say about their own comments? just weeks ago? >> well, the thing about those comments especially i remember the one you just played about sean spicer, i believe, for instance, that was when rod rosenstein was being helpful to the administration and that he was sort of serving as a scapegoat for the justification to fire james comey. so with this administration, especially with this president, you know, the man at the top, everything is transactional. and they have lots of good things to say about him when he was helping them in a positive deal. and now that it's less positive now that he's appointed a special counsel, you know, it's turned. it's sort of one deal after the next. they liked the first one, they didn't like the second.
you've seen that reflected in their comments. >> all right. robert, i want to give you the last word here. can you talk about how this white house is cannibalizing talent on the republican side? >> oh, big-time. to my knowledge, there isn't anyone, and no disrespect to my friends that are working in the white house now, but the place you want to be is the vice president's staff. i mean, that's a serious staff that's full of policy chops, that's professional. that's where you want to be. but to be in the west wing right now is not where you want to be. you definitely don't want this to be on your resume. can i be just very quick? >> sure. >> i think what happened last night is probably sean spicer or kellyanne, maybe reince probably called the deputy attorney general and said this is what you will say. i'm sure there was probably some pushback back and forth. he wrote that very carefully-worded statement which, by the way, as of this morning, it could have changed, but as of this morning, he was not not on the department of justice website. fyi. >> there are five names here. jim comey, rod rosenstein, jeff
sessions, sally yates, who's my fifth name that i'm forgetting in this category? >> mueller? >> mueller. five people. all five of them have one thing in common. they're involved in the -- in law and order. they're all involved. they're all involved in one way or other the rule of law and all five of them have either been fired or in the crosshairs about to be fired. >> by the law and order candidate. >> by the president of the united states. that's a pattern. >> pattern of what? keep going. >> of not fundamentally understanding what the nature of -- the proper relationship between the white house and the institutions that we have that are run by political appointees, but who are -- whose fundamental charter and remit is not to be political agencies but try to serve the rule of law and not the president in the white house. i don't think the president understands what the fbi and the department of justice are supposed to be about. >> also the first time he has had to reckon with the truth. these people are law
enforcement, they represent the truth. when you lie to them, tell something that's not true and they're involved, they have pow ur over time no one has ever exerted. that's what the five people represent, truth. >> the silver lining is we will through this painful period find out who really stands for holding up this republic, and for some form of government or who's going to just play politics. and i think it's going to be a very defining moment for leadership in this country because at some point, you have to say, i'm with you, partisan wise, but i am not going to take down the government of the united states. and i hope some republicans stand up and say, wait a minute, the country, the nation, the republic, is more important than my access to you, because this is out of line. >> all right. i hope so, too. all right. we're going to let eli stokols and ashley parker get back to work. they're actually on deadline. everyone else is sticking around. up next -- oh, ashley is sticking around. don't go away. up next, being vice president. the political tightrope mike pence is walking between needing a defense lawyer and serving as
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so that was vice president mike pence telling the "washington post" that it's perfectly routine to hire a lawyer in the midst of a russian collusion and obstruction of justice investigation. it just might be. ashley parker, as i said before we wnt ent to break, has two bylines in the "post qubt" abou pence. ashley, i want to ask you, if you think the line pence is trying to walk is something the president understands. i mean, does the president just see the loyal soldier or do you think the president sees someone trying to be all things? trying to have the president's back, but also preserve his own political brand? >> as of now, i think the president just sees loyal soldier. i think it would be very problematic for the vice
president if president trump saw anything other than that. that's one of the reasons, for instance, you know, when the president came under all this fire, there was all of this talk about, you know, the president pence, what would that mean, what would that look like? speaker paul ryan was even asked about it at a conference. and the vice president and his team tamp that down ferociously. both publicly and privately. and in reporting both of these stories, one thing that's interesting is that the vice president's loyalty, while he does, of course, want to protect himself and be strategic and politically savvy, he is sort of unfailingly loyal. i talked to 17 people and i could not fined a single person who could ever recall even off the record the vice president saying anything negative about the president, or even sort of raising a wry eyebrow to signal he's aware of the chaos swirling around him about trump. i mean, he just does not say anything negative about the president. >> when it came time to lawyer up, as we say in washington, he did make a very different
choice, though, where the president went with a manhattan street fighter who defended him in litigation, in his personal and business life, the vice president chose someone with a very different pedigree. >> he absolutely did. he chose a richmond, virginia, based lawyer named richard cullen, a former attorney general, former u.s. attorney. has represented a number of high-profile clients. including in -- well, first of all, he worked on the bush recount in 2000. he worked on -- he defended someone in iran-contra, he defended tom delay. this towns you can only believe washington, he's also the godfather, of course, of one of comey's daughters. >> oh, goodness. john heilemann? >> i don't think it's -- i mean, it's funny on some level, people have pointed to the kind of swampiness of this, but, look, he's hired richard cullen who's close friends with jim comey.
not just the -- he's the godnaur father of comey's daughter. they're close friends. i don't doubt ashley's reporting is correct, that mike pence never said a disloyal word about donald trump. i don't know if that reflects profound loyalty or reflects profound political smarts. one thing mike pence cannot ain order to look like is like he's trying to undermine donald trump when he's the person who stands to inherit the oval office if donald trump has to leave that room. and so i think mike pence is a guy who made a set of political wagers to join this ticket when no one else wanted to be on the ticket with donald trump. he stuck with him through "access hollywood," did all of that stuff. he's now in a position where, again, do i think it's now more likely than not that trump finishes the first term? i'm not sure about that. the presidency is in peril now. the person who would be the next president is mike pence. he's smart enough in order to be in position to inherit the job if it comes his way, he can't afford to be seen as trying to stab donald trump in the back.
i don't know if that's real loyalty or iron discipline and real eye toward his own political self-interests. >> i suspect it's the latter. a president pence means a civil war in the republican party. right? one way or another, this matter is going to end up in the republican congress' hands and the republicans are going to have to decide what they're going to do with this. are they going to look the other way and be complicit and donald trump making a mockery of the system, or are they going to stand up and do something about it? i think what pence is trying to do is to preserve whatever support he can among trump people. right? because if -- if otherwise president pence just gets completely destroyed by the trump supporters if trump was forced out and he looks like he's behind it. >> i agree with both assessments but also would add that pence has to know the particular personality of donald trump is absolutely one that wants to find on anyone that is any way disloyal to them. i've dealt with donald trump pro
and con for 35 years. he does not tolerate anybody, i don't care if it's the receptionist that doesn't think his tie is on right. so pence being sensitive to that and knowing how everyone is jockeying for positioning with the favor of mr. trump, he would be very unwise and very bad strategically to trust anybody with even a raised eyebrow. when you got so much crossfire going in the white house. who does he trust? >> exactly. the family is loyal to pence, too, instrumental in his selection. thank you, ashley, for sticking with us through our show. we're grateful for your time on the businessy part of your day. the latest on the team assembled in the russia investigation and why so many are lining u to defend him against the president's attacks. >> all those matters are now in the hands of former director mueller, so i have full confidence in him. he is someone who's widely respected. >> many of us know him, have
worked with him, we know him to be the ideal choice for this job. >> he is a man of integrity, mark, and he needs to be able to do his work. >> i have a lot of confidence in bob mueller. i think it was a good choice. think again. this is the new new york. we are building new airports all across the state. new roads and bridges. new mass transit. new business friendly environment. new lower taxes. and new university partnerships to grow the businesses of tomorrow today. learn more at esd.ny.gov
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well, president trump lashes out in public, special council robert mueller is quietly working behind the scenes building up the team charged with investigating the trump campaign's possible ties with russia. trump's tweets this morning a reminder of how much the investigation gnaws at him. one former watergate prosecutor speaking with "the new york times" calls it a, "preemptive nuclear strike." joining me now, reporter whose byline was on that story, "the new york times" national security and legal reporter charlie savage. what did you make of just how outside the norm it is? your piece made clear it is lawful to attack a special
counsel, but just how outside the norm it is to be on such a political war footing at this point in an investigation. >> i think it's really remarkable how fast we've gotten here. you know, when prosecutors go after presidents, it is something we've seen before that the president and the defenders around him attack the prosecutor as biased and on a witch hunt, so fort. we saw that with the ken starr investigation versus the clintons. we saw that when pat fitzgerald was going after the valerie plame leak in the bush white house and ended up indicting the chief of staff to vice president cheney for lying to investigators. you know, these sort of criminal cases cross over into the political sphere and shift to football instead of baseball, essentially. but, you know, it took a long time for those cases to do that. the starr case was several years in when we suddenly -- not suddenly, when it evolved to point of this amount of vitreal. bob mueller has been on the job for a couple weeks.
three weeks now, i guess. and already we're at the point where the president is saying that he and his staff are, you know, bad people, conflicted people, and the surrounding media industrial complex are already trying to, you know, gather dossiers of dirt, what they consider to be dirt, that is the past campaign contributions to democrats and so forth about specific staff hires in an effort to soften up that investigation to portray it as illegitimate and biased sot that even before mueller is able to find out anything about what happened and present his conclusions, it will be seen as illegitimate and not credible, at least among the president's hardcore supporters. >> and i talked to a trump confidant outside the white house yesterday who compared mueller to jim comey. said he's really no different, he's someone who likes being seen as elevated in the public square, but is just as political. i said, you got to be kidding
me, he's a bronze star medal recipient, he's a veteran, he's really revered by people across both sides of the political spectrum, but this is their strategy and i wonder what you're picking up from inside of mueller's peer group about the attacks. >> very little. i know some of those people, but they are not talking to me. mueller's camp is really shut down. it's clear that he issued some kind of internal directive as soon as he began that they were going to run a super tight ship, that there was going to be no tolerance for leaks. and so i don't know. i've talked to their press spokesman who said a few things, but i don't know -- i don't have a sense of the mood because they have battened down the hatches. and what's interesting about that is that that's playing a different game than the president and his supporters are playing. they are throwing all kinds of accusations against mueller's team in a very personal way, and mueller in keeping with his
strategy for decades is trying to stay above the fray, shrug it off, ignore it, not respond in kind, not put out information that might undercut some of these attacks, even if that information exists. we still don't know the full list of people he's hired, for example. we were pressing them yesterday. look, give us the full list of people you hired, maybe there's people there that have given money to republicans or have registered as republicans, whatever state they're from. we can, you know, what's the comprehensive look here? and they're just not willing to do that. and so we'll see whether mueller sticks to that approach. people who know him very well think that he will. he's -- >> i'm betting that he will. i remember him from the bush years. he does run a tight ship. your reporting on him is second to none. thank you so much for spending some of your afternoon with us. all right. joining our panel now is marco lopez, former chief of staff to the u.s. customs and border protection agency. and a former adviser to mexican president enrique pena nieto. thank you for being with us.
>> thank you, nicolle, my pleasure. >> john, what do you think of this full-throated attack on the character and political leanings of the mueller team? >> i think it's insane. i think, look, there's a -- the one way in which i think it's true that mueller and comey -- there are a lot of ways in which they're similar and ways that trump and a lot of his people don't understand. they are -- they both are actually quite political and in the sense they understand washington. they've been there for a long time. >> politically astute, not politically biased. >> politicalry savvy. i don't mean biased. they get it's a complicated thing the way law enforcement, judicial politics and policy and politics all intersect. that's a thing that exists in washington. it's a unique genre of kind of interconnection. those who guys understand that. and the public-facing nature of it as well as any two people i've ever seen in my career, and it's part of why they are friends. but they are -- because of the kind of reputation they have, and particularly mueller in washington, among mainstream republicans, among democrats, among -- for the decades they've been around, they are -- he in
particular impervious to this kind of a smear campaign and it is a bad hand the trump people are playing if they think the way to take down robert mueller is take him down in this way or try to take him down at all. we have seen presidents in the past go after special prosecutors. that's part of a clinton playbook. we've seen that happen before. but the reality is right now there's not a receptive audience for that and if you go too far playing this card against mueller, they're going to lose the support of republicans in congress and once that happens, donald trump's done. >> i think also -- >> let me let jen -- because nothing's made me laugh all hour except jen saying we took down our special prosecutor well. elaborate. >> special prosecutor and the republicans that were impeaching bill clinton were doing it for partisan reasons and it was a partisan act. it was republicans getting behind ken starr and impeaching bill clinton for something that he did not deserve to be impeached over. this a serious matter and career law enforcement officials doing this. trump is doing -- it's not going to affect what mueller does.
trump is doing it to keep his supporters ginned up and hope that's a firewall with republicans. as you saw, republicans are backing up a little bit and defending mueller and that is probably the most concerning thing that's happened all week for the white house ultimately. >> marco, let me ask you a question as someone who served as chief of staff inside a law enforcement agency. >> right. >> how squeamish were you when you had any contact with any political appointee from the white house? >> well, we were always very, very careful and i think what we miss here in our conversation is that there is clearly no understanding by the administration that there is a long game here. what the long game is, that let's assume for all intents and purposes he comes out squeaky clean, that there is resolution by the special prosecutor that there is no collusion, case closed, we move on. what he has done is he has caused irreparable damage with the law enforcement community and i can tell you working -- leading the largest law enforcement agency in the world, customs and border protection, that that will never -- those -- for the next three years, those
employees will remember the way they were tweeted and the way the leadership, some of the best in the world, were treated by the president. i think that is a hole he's not going to be able to dig himself out of. >> good point. all right. up next, president trump moves to undo another big obama policy, while keeping another one in tact that could upset some of his most loyal supporters. umbrellas!! you need one of these. you wouldn't put up with an umbrella that covers you part way, so when it comes to pain relievers, why put up with just part of a day?
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effective immediately, i am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with cuba. [ chanting: trump ] we will very strongly restrict american dollars flowing to the military, security, and intelligence services that are the core of the castro regime. they will be restricted. my action today bypasses the military and the government to help the cuban people themselves form businesses and pursue much better lives. >> that was president trump earlier today in miami, the city at the heart of the nation's cuban community. his clampdown on cuban travel and trade is just another instance of an obama-era rollback. so my panel is back and i joked in break, it reminds me of the seinfeld where costanza did
everything the opposite. whatever obama did, he does the opposite. >> there's not much of a constituency for this position even among cubans. >> it's generational. >> my best friend from college is cuban, her parents were refugees and rock-hard republicans and they were devastated. they went to cuba for the first time since the '60s a month ago. and they are out at versailles, the diner there, protesting it. >> do you think trump spends a lot of time at versailles? >> i love versailles. but the dreamer -- protecting the dreamers is very good news and really welcome news. i'm not sure how real that is. i always question, you've got to look at the fine print, but if he's really letting daca stand, that's going to ease the minds of a lot of o -- >> well, for the 800,000 kids that have benefited from the program, it's great news, but there's no clear policy moving forward. so is there an immigration plan? is there going to be something that actually moves the ball forward instead of staying where we are? which right now, it's great.
stay where you are is great. >> listening to him thinking about all of these complexities -- >> he's so starry-eyed and idealist idealistic. is there going to be a well-thought-out plan. >> it's not that complicated. donald trump's attacking hillary clinton the other day because the republican base hits hillary clinton, so he wants tos rerecollect hr reresurrect her. she's not president. she's retired. he wants to attack her because that riles up the base. he wants to do things the opposite of barack obama because that riles up the base. one thing that's reliable for trump, there's a bunch of people in the republican party that love anything that raises up the bogeyman of barack obama and hillary clinton. so he's going to be raising, talking about barack obama and hillary clinton as much as possible going forward, just to try to keep that enthusiasm in that, i think, gradually starting to shrink core of trump base voters. >> but there's no policy there. >> no policy, of course not! >> you're saying you don't know really what it means. we welcome the announcement, but we don't know what it is. and the real small base, and
you're right, that is generational around this cuban issue, i mean, i thought they were going to bring out the casts of f-troop and -- that's what they look like. they're fighting a war that's no longer on the battlefield. >> i worked for governor jeb bush 17 years ago and it was generational thing. young people didn't -- i want to get robert traynham in on this. because the daca news is, obviously, pretty significant and a significant shift. and it doesn't make everyone happy. i think i have ann coulter expressing her displeasure. i want her to act on the other side. >> what i'm frustrated with right now is i think the gop should change their motto to "next time." we have donald trump, he gives away daca and doesn't get the wall. what a good humanitarian by saying, what a good heart he has for those dreamers, the illegal aliens he promised to deport. next time we'll get them. >> now, robert, i'll be admit to being that version of the opposite, what she's for, i'm usually against. but is she a canary in the mine
with donald trump's 38% hard-core base? i mean, can donald trump sort of sustain making people like ann coulter mad without winning over any converts in the rest of the political universe? >> that's a good question. and i don't know, and i don't think anyone knows. i listen to talk radio this afternoon, and i was trying to listen to rush and some of the others to see if, in fact, there's any crack, any crack in the armor, and there doesn't appear to be, as of yet, except from ann coulter. so the question becomes if an ann coulter, a sean hannity, if a rush limbaugh, the true bedrock, red meat, hard right begins to say, hmm, maybe the emperor doesn't have any clothes here, that's when that 38% really starts to crack and that's when i think the president's going to be in really, really bad news. listen, there's a reason why vice president pence and marco rubio were on the stage in florida with the president today. there's a reason why that was raw red meat that he threw to
the base today that totally contradicted the daca stuff. so politically, i have to give the white house some creds for this, because it was a really smart move from a political standpoint. not from a policy standpoint, but definitely from a political standpoint. >>ic it'syou think it's a mistao conflate the daca and dreamer stuff with the wall. >> of course. >> i think it's important, because i think for a lot of the hard-core anti-immigrant base, the dreamer stuff has never mattered to them as much as the "build the wall, deport the illegal immigrants," if he continues to say, at least, he's going to build a wall, he could probably hold those people, because this issue is not the core issue for them. it's not something that animates them most. >> why is the wall so satisfying? i mean, there's already a wall. and there's already drone protection. why is the wall so satisfying to someone like ann coulter? >> it's an easy image and it's an easy visual for people to wrap -- >> it's fake. >> it's totally fake. but what's real? i mean, literally -- >> daca. letting dreamers stay -- >> what secretary kelly, he announced it today, so he's the adult in the room at this
moment, with the daca issue, but tomorrow, the president actually realizes what the secretary did and do something different? that's the problem and that's the level of uncertainty, when you have someone who's kind of isolated himself between him, jared, and ivanka, and they roll out a plan like the one we saw today in florida, as the government tries to actually keep up and, you know, clean up the mess. >> you said tomorrow. his twitter broke tonight? >> on a serious point, do you -- how do you see these decisions? do you think bannon was in the bathroom when he decided on daca? how, sort of, influenced is he? >> i think he's very influenced by the last group of people. he prides himself that i am the boss. i'm going to make the decision. and i don't know if bannon wasn't in the room, but if it was positioned in a way, he's not going to dig down into the policy of it. he does it on instinct. and i think that's what's dangerous to think that this man is actually walking around with
the codes and acting on impulse and ego. that is very frightening, all jokes aside. and i think when you look at the fact that he can have such a diametrically opposing view on various policies that affect those parts of the world, it shows that we as a nation better be very careful. >> all right. we're going to keep this conversation going, day after day, week after weak. thanks to our panel. john heilemann, marco lopez, reverend al sharpton, and my friend, robert traynham. that does it for this hour. i'm nicole wallace. "mtp daily" starts right now. >> nicole, are you ready for mark on sunday? are you going to be good to him if >> father's day. yeah, happy father's day. >> only one day a year you have to be nice to mark. remember that. thank you, nicole. if it's friday, did president trump sound the fire alarm again at the white house? tonight, president trump's latest twitter