tv MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi MSNBC January 3, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PST
a treasonous act saying no lawyers. even if you thought it wasn't untruthness, unpatriotic or bad, i lap to think all of that, you should have called the fbi immediately. he also says there's zero chance donald trump jr. didn't take members of that meeting including a russian lawyer, a former soviet intelligence officer and a british music publicist who claimed to have dirt on hillary clinton in to meet with his father. now, remember, the trump team has maintained the president knew nothing about the meeting, and a source directly familiar with the account and key participant on the russian side of the june 2016 trump tower meeting tells nbc the russians did not meet or have any encounter with then candidate donald trump. and this russia blockbuster is just the start of this book. much of it fueled with gossipy palace intrigue. according to the book, ivanka trump thought she, not hillary clinton, would be the first woman president. trump hated his inauguration
"angry and hurt that big-named stars snubbed him and spent much of the day fighting with melania who seemed on the verge of tears." then this about communications director hope hicks. hicks was in fact thought of as trump's real daughter, while ivanka was thought of as his real wife. all of this prompting a scathing statement from the president in the last hour. let's get right to the white house. nbc's kristen welker is in the briefing room for us. i'm sure we haven't had enough time to get any reaction about this lawsuit. so let's start with the book, kristen. just what did the president have to say? >> reporter: well, i think you hit the nail on the head, chris. his response was scathing, to these allegations by steve bannon. i'll read you a part of the statement and then we can do analysis on the other side. he said steve bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. when he was fired he not only lost his job he lost his mind. steve was a staffer who worked
for me after i had already won the nomination by defeating 17 candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the republican party. those are the sharpest words we've ever heard from this president about steve bannon. remember, steve bannon was brought in, he was widely considered to be a touchtone to the president's base. the president continued to keep in touch with him even after he left the administration. but he did at various points try to downplay his role in his electoral victory. behind the scenes steve bannon has said that he is, in fact, the person who has his finger on the pulse of what the president's voters really want. so this is a stunning sort of rift, public rift, between the president and one of his former top advisers. it also lays bare the tensions we've talked about between steve bannon and the president's children. his son-in-law, jared kushner. and donald trump jr. as well. as you pointed out, steve bannon saying in that book that, that
meeting amounts to treason nap is something that we will undoubtedly ask sarah huckabee sanders we have have a chance to talk to her at the briefing and another headline from the book. a fair amount of fighting between the president and the first lady before the inauguration. that's, of course, according to the book. the first lady's office sharply denying that saying in a statement the book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section. mrs. trump supported her husband's decision to run for president and, in fact, encouraged him to do so. she was confident he would win and was very happy when he did. that is the pushback so far, but this will likely get a lot of attention throughout this press briefing which is now expected to get under way in about 15 for instance from mow. >> kristen welker, stick around. far from done with breaking down this book. including how it could affect the russia investigation. i'm joined by two men who cover the white house on a daily
basis. from the "washington post," and a representative of the "new york times" and a current partner at dorothy and whitney and our legal analyst. start with the breaking news. paul manafort suing. i understand you haven't had an opportunity to see the papers, but paul manafort is suing mueller, rosenstein and the u.s. justice department. >> complete waste of time. when i was a prosecutor i was sued a couple times. >> a p.r. move? >> only a p.r. move. prosecutors have immunity from these kinds of suits. this is going to be dismissed, and i would hope that the justice department would also ask the judge to impose sanctions on whatever attorney filed this lawsuit. this is absolutely a frivolous lawsuit. i haven't read it but i know you cannot sue a public official like that, particularly after you're a defendant and standing as a defendant in a criminal case in a federal district court. >> go back to the book "fire and fury." it has about 400 headlines.
the newiest ones in terms of the implications politically for this president and this white house have to do with the russia investigation. you have steve bannon saying things like, they're going to crack don jr. like an egg on national tv. and bannon saying he warned against firing comey saying, "this russian story is a third tier story but you fire comey and it will be the biggest story in the world." based on what you're read of the book, the excerptses you've seen, how worried do you think the white house is and did we get an indication by the fleury of statements? >> i think what steve bannon stated in a lot of this is really the obvious. first of all, it's quite clear he criticizes the trump people for not notify aring the fbi about this meeting at trump tower. that in itself is pretty incriminating. the fact they didn't do that. but they also didn't notify the fbi after papadopolos learned of the stolen e-mails back in april of 2016.
you know, almost two months before the june 9th meeting at trump tower. so that part of it i think really raises questions about what i think is ultimately going to be a conspiracy charge here. his notion that this is really relating to money laundering, i don't think he's right. i think what you're looking at here ultimately in the next, within the next six months a a major conspiracy charge resulting from the theft of the e-mails of the democratic national committee. you're going to see just from flynn's guilty plea that that relates back to what happened during the campaign, because the materiality of his falsehood, as admitted before the judge are related to the coordination between the trump campaign and the russians. so i mean, there's a number of are things here that have certain rings of truth, but the bottom line is, the evidence is coming out. there's lots of indicia of a major conspiracy. >> mueller knows what he knows. nevertheless, i want to play sound, if i can, mark from steve
bannon talking to the "new york times" back in november about collusion. let's listen. >> i think the collusion thing is, i said from day one is a joke. i was there. we couldn't collude. we had a tough time colluding between pennsylvania avenue and the rnc. >> now saying the trump tower meeting is treasonous. what do you make of the book and things steve bannon is quoted as saying? >> well, i mean, i think it's important to remember the kind of role that steve bannon played for president trump from the very beginning. this guy is an insurgent. he really was, as kristen said earlier, a link to the base, but steve bannon was always a character who was, frankly, going to become a cropper with the people around president trump. it was pretty obvious from the first or second week that things were going to end rancorously between bannon and the people around president trump. i think what's interesting and
what may explain the finality in that statement that the president put out earlier about steve bannon is that in this book bannon goes after trump's son and trump's son-in-law, and makes very serious allegations about them. i think that's crossing some kind of a rube ba coicon betwee relationship between the two men that have been remarkable, if you think about it. bannon left the white house under bumpy circumstances. it's not the first time he's criticized the president, the people around him or the president's policies and yet each time bannon has managed to preserve his relationship with the president. and i think in part because physicalsovg philosophic think they're an the same wavelength. the president respected what bannon was telling him for all intents and purposes. in the wake of these revelations it's hard to see how these two repair that breach.
going after jared, going after ivanka and don jr. are crossing a boundary. i will find it hard to imagine long phone calls between the two of them in the wake of this. >> long, warm, friendly phone calls may be dead. josh, you wrote for the "post." i'm quoting. for months trump's top aides from ty cobb to jared kushner to communications director hope hicks to friends like chris ruddy and governor chris christie have tried to convince him, meaning donald trump, to cut ties with bannon. >> right. >> what happened here, and where is this war going, just to pick up on what we were saying? i'm finding it hard to imagine there's going to be a ckum ba yh moment coming soon? >> as we all know, president trump casts people aside and brings them back. infuriated with someone, then a few weeks later calls them. seen him fire several senior
advisers that were embarrassing yet bring them in for lunch a month later. the president is someone who rarely casts someone aside totally. he was even speaking with paul manafort, even in the white house. so it's hard to know if he will or not. it's a striking statement. it's a strongest statement as i've ever seen from the president on any aide or adviser, a repudiation from his om wor own words. as we said, he's a temperamental man and only time will tell how long this lasts. >> back to the breaking news at the top where he learned that paul manafort is suing robert mueller, the justice department and rod rosenstein. nbc news intelligence and national security reporter ken delanian has been reading through court documents. what are you finding out, ken? >> reporter: chris, essentially, mr. manafort is arguing that the order allowing mueller to do his work was written too broadly, and that manafort's conduct was
not related to russia collusion, which is essentially what mueller is supposed to be investigating, but in the course of making this argument he's made news here. essentially disclosing the lawsuit that he was interviewed by the doj and the fbi back in 2014 about his political consulting activities in ukraine and offshore banking activities in cypress and essentially no charges filed and seems to argue, you looked at this before. didn't charge me and now you're indicting me under this russia investigation. i don't think that's kosher. agency nick ackerman said, these kinds of lawsuits are not unheard of against prosecutors and lairly succeed. the wrinkle here, special counsel, special counsel regulations and what manafort is asking for, basically to void the regulations under which mueller is doing his job and blow out the mueller investigation, chris. >> thank you for that update. appreciate it. anything you want to add to that, nick? >> the same thing. i mean, courts will defer to an
agency's interpretation of its own regulations and certainly the department of justice could hire any prosecutor they wanted to prosecute these cases, and any related cases. so i think, again, this entire lawsuit is completely frivolous. >> again, go back to the book, there's a lot for people to ponder in terms of the russia investigati investigation. beyond that, there is a lot of other stuff in this book. gossip about what ivanka has told her friends about her father's hair. we all know people talk a lot about that, mark. concerns from friends and supporters that he wasn't and isn't is up to the job. i'm going to go back and we have this -- copy, this, lightly-bound copy of "fire and fury." and it said, there was really no illusion at 1600 pennsylvania avenue kelly, meaning john kelly's long-suffering antipathy towards the president was rivaled only by his scorn for the president's family.
kushner. and they suggest that the president had even stopped defending his own family wondering when they would take the hint and go home. they also talk about him being a germaphobe and stripping his own linens off his bed at the white house. in terms of all of this, and then the president's long and scathing statement, which we just talked about. what do you imagine it's like inside the white house right now? >> well, i mean, look. it's a truism to say that covering this white house is not like covering any other white house, and there's long been this game of thrones quality to the place. there's also a, can you top this, aspect to being a white house reporter these days. i think this is one of these days white house reporters think again. can you top this? i would imagine that there is a sense of foreboding, frankly, about all of this. particularly since i think there was some hope when general kelly
came in that he could really restore normal order. he could limit access to the president, could regularize the west wing. it's clear after that day of wild tweets yesterday from the president on subjects ranging from hillary clinton to north korea, to the revelations in the book today that this white house will continue to be a roller coaster ride. that it's probably unrealistic to assume that john kelly or anybody else can kind of impose a layer of order on top of a presidency that simply is so unusual and so extraordinary and this book a reminder maybe more important than anything else, it's just a reminder how unnormal this situation is. >> and josh, one more quote in this book which is a memo that apparently is widely believed to have been written by gary cohen although not attributed to anyone. sent among a circle of people describing what the situation is like inside the white house.
it's worse than you can imagine. an idiot surrounded by clowns. trump won't read anything. not one-page memos not the brief policy papers. nothing. he gets up half way through the meetings with world leaders because he's bored and goes on pretty much in that vein. the thing about reading as much as i could in an hour through this book and looking at the highlights that we so painstakingly went through, there is almost no one you have heard of are and people frankly you have not heard of who haven't either complained about the president or someone within his inner circle and whom even the president has not complained about, including his daughter and his son-in-law, who are widely believed to be the people closest to him. what in the end does this say about a white house if it is indeed going to face a deepening russia crisis? >> we've known that for a while. i can't speak to all the specifics in the memo, but what
michael wolff reported in the book is consistent with what many of us saw in the early months of the administration. senior white house officials tried to say it wasn't so it dripped out of the place and you heard stories every day that topped the day before. more turnover in the first year than any presidency in decades. so that's all been well established. i think the concern that folks have about the president now is that you have kelly, who came in, tried to professionalize the plate place, around him, still a cast of characters, people under investigation themselves. people who really don't like each other and are fighting for the president's attention. the president doesn't seem to be adverse to the chaos like many others are. he likes having the wars around his desk and enjoys everyone fighting for his attention and said so publicly. as this deepens, there won't be a ton of loyalty among the white house to each other. you have a white house that's still driven by chaos. i this john kelly made it better
to some degree but it's still driven by chaos based on all the reporting and i don't know how that portends when you have such a strong investigation coming down. >> he just unleashed 16 tweets during which time there was some controversial tweeting about north korea we hope to get to in the course of the hour. as we wait for this brief aring to begin an there's so much to ask sarah sanders about, let me ask you, mark, about one other part of the book. about steve bannon's feud with ivanka trump. i'm quoting the look here. bannon assured by everyone there was no winning against the trump family hardly tried to hide his satisfied belief he was going to out-play them. in the oval office in front of her father bannon's openly attacked her, you, he said, pointing at her as the president watched are a -- f-ing liar. ivanka's bitter complaints to her father in the past diminished bannon were met by a hands-off trump. i told you this was a tough town, baby.
is there anyone who donald trump is truly loyal to? >> well, i mean, i think the answer to that is, donald trump is truly loyal to himself. but, you know, to go back to what josh just said, there's a part of donald trump that relishes this kind of warring bans of advisors. i think when ivanka trump came to washington, took an office in the west wing, perhaps her status in his eyes changed to some extent and she did find herself in this melee, in this swirl of twecompeting agendas a egos. it also speaks to the fact, whatever else you say about steve bannon, the guy was going for broke and willing to pretty much take on any imaginable risk to press hi views. we knew already he had kind of gone to war with jared kushner on various issues. that's been reported before.
i think this book sheds light on the fact that he actually also went to the mat with ivanka trump, which would strike one as an even more dangerous thing to do. so, you know, i think that really it just goes back to the fact that, you know, trump has trump in mind above all things, and i think the moment ivanka came to washington as the president suggested to her, she was kind of taking her fate in her own hands. >> one of the interesting things about this book and, again, i think in a way that you say it, josh it affirms a lot of things we knew but puts it kind of from the, for me in a new context, new quotes, new interviews. one is about women. we know that steve bannon believes that he is the person who helped donald trump survive the infamous billy bush tape. >> right. >> so obviously, he was elected president. he got by that. we're in a very different sort of set of beliefs right now. america has changed its tune on the treatment of women.
and there is a quote in here about, hope hicks and corey lewandowski, an on and off inappropriate relationship and fired in 2016 for clashing with trump family members. hicks sat in trump tower with trump and his sons worried about lewandowski's treatment in the press and wondering aloud how she might help him. trump in a protective and paternal way looked up and said, why? you've already done enough for him. you're the best piece of tail he'll ever have sending hicks running from the room. i think -- certainly one of the pieces that this book that will upset more than a few people, will affirm for a lot of people what they believe is how trump really -- what trump really believes about women and how he treats women and yet the person about to come to the podium,
sarah sanders will talk often about how she's the first mom who has held that job in the book. there is a lot about how he certainly believes he can trust women more than he can trust men. many of the people closest to him who have been survivors, like hope hicks, are women. what do you make of that part of all of this? well, trump tower is known and in the white house as being a pretty crass place. the president frequently curses and using off-color sayings. you obviously heard the "access hollywood" tape and his comments there. i have also spoke ton west wingates, women, saying he's never denigrated them and in fact praises him and welcomes their opinions. on one hand you see he can make vulgar and inappropriate comments about women or their appearance and kind of be not necessarily presidential, and in another way can be a decent boss to women. look at some of his aides with him the longest in the trump organization, some of them were
women who really respect him to this day. so it's kind of a bifurcated relaty to some degree. the president obviously has been taug caught on tape doing one thing and heard stories doing similar things likening him to the "access hollywood" tape and women that have never seen that from him. both at the same time. >> there is another bit of this and that is about the media and the president and truth and his relationship with truth. and one of the more interesting parts of this is about how he learned over every month on the most basic level, trump just did not, as sean spicer later put it, give a -- expletive deleted. tell him whatever he wanted but he knew what he knew and if what you said contradicted what he knew, he simply didn't believe you. is that what it is like dealing
with this white house, basically? on a day-to-day basis? and start with you, josh. i'll go to mark, then. mark? >> well, first of all, i draw a distinction between this white house that we deal with on a day-to-day base and the president himself. i think if you deal with officials at the white house, whether it's a chief of staff or the national security adviser, or press secretary sanders, that's not at all what it's like. these people are for the most part trying to be professional. trying to be receptive and process new ideas, while carrying out what they believe to be the agenda of the president. i think dealing with the president of the united states himself is -- >> i have to interrupt you. i'm sorry. sarah sanders just came to the podium. let's listen. >> -- director of legislative affairs mark short on capitol hill participating in ongoing budget negotiations with congressional leaders. the president urges democrats to
adhere to the so-called schumer rule and not hold the government hostage in an attempt to advance erratical political agenda. we must fully fund our military and ensure our brave men and women in the uniform have the resources they need. they're always there for our country and we must not let partisan bickering get in the way of the government taking care of them. the president wants a clean funding bill that fulfilling or obligations, takes care of our military and keeps our people safe. and with that, i'll take your questions. cecilia? >> sarah, the president says when steve bannon was fired he lost his job and his mind. does he feel betrayed by steve bannon? does he regret hiring him? >> i think the president's statement is extremely clear what his position on mr. bannon is. pretty lengthy and detailed and there's not really muff to clarify or add. >> is there a -- he said, in the book, they did have a long and pd -- is there a sense of
betrayal? >> once again, the president's statement fully addresses his position and what his relationship with mr. bannon is. april? >> sarah, when was the last time the president talked to steve bannon and a serious question. is the president now blocking steve bannon's number on his cell phone? >> i'm not aware he was calling his cell phone but i believe the last conversation took place last part of december. >> what about the base that these two power houses are fighting within the republican party? what does this do to the president's base? >> i don't think it does anything to the president's base. those who supported the president supported the president and his agenda. that hasn't changed. the president is still exactly who he was yesterday as he was two years ago when he started out on the campaign trail. his agenda hasn't changed and he's continued to push for and fight for that agenda and the base is extremely excited and happy with the job the president has done in this first year in
office. look at all he accomplished. i think they're pretty happy where he is. >> when steve bannon has a distinction following, the alt right. some who may not necessarily be for the other, people who are -- seine oth xenophobic? >> that's a question for steve bannon. the president's base is very solid. it hasn't changed, because the president hasn't changed. his agenda hasn't changed. we're continuing to accomplish a lot of the things that were on the president's agenda as we did last year. we're going to do a lot moor th more this year moving into the beginning of 2018. peter? >> i'll try to make it simple. >> you don't think i can handle the hard ones? >> did the president's son donald trump jr. commit treason? >> that's a ridiculous accusation. if those are comments from mr. bannon i refer you back to "60 minutes" called collusion with russia about this president a total farce.
i think i would look back at that. if anybody's inconsistent, it's been him. certainly hasn't been the president or this administration, follow-up. has the president met any of donald trump jr.'s guests at trump tower? >> i stated many times, the president wasn't aware of that. >> and what about the nuclear button tweet threat. should americans be concerned about the president's mental fitness? he appears to speak so lightly about threats rashding a nuclear button? >> i think the president and people of this country should be concerned about the mental fitness of the leader of north korea who has made repeated threats. he's tested missiles time and time again for years and this is a president who's not going to cower down and he's not grog to be weak and is going to make sure he does what he's promised to do and that's stand up and protect the american people. >> sarah -- >> sorry, peter. keep moving. >> and misinterpret that.
you said he's unpredictable. couldn't he misinterpret that? >> i didn't say that. it's extremely clear what the president's position is and -- our position on north korea hasn't changed since the beginning. this is a president committed to protecting americans, and protecting the people of this country and he's not grog to back down from that. john? >> thanks, sarah. and the statement that the president put out today and it's not the first time that steve bannon has been topic a. here at the white house briefing. the last time as you made reference to, after his interview on "60 minutes." and during that white house press briefing on september the 11th, when a series of questions were asked of you at the time, you were pretty much hands-off in terms of going after steve bannon. the president didn't respond in any particular way to the "60 minutes" interview. what's changed? what's changed between then and now after the interview that he apparently did with michael wolff for his book?
>> look, once again, i think the president and his feelings towards mr. bannon are very clear in his statement and there's really not much else to add beyond that. i don't think there's much gray area in what his feelings are. francesca? >> thank you. to pick up on that, this is a pretty dramatic falling out with the president and someone who worked on his campaign and also worked in this white house very close to him every day. so i think everyone is wondering what led to this dramatic 235u8 falling out and was it the loss of roy moore in the senate race mentioned in the statement? last talked late in december. is this a direct response to steve bannon calms the president's son unpatriotic and it was treasonous? >> a number of things went on. this is probably not the best way to curry favor with anybody. ashley? >> sarah, you mentioned the
statement the president was harsh and basically said the entire book is fiction. that said, a note explaining how the book came to be said that the author interviewed for 18 months. many of the president's pop saeds. >> he never actually sat down with the president. just to be very clear. >> did they ever speak -- >> there was one brief conversation that had nothing to do originally with the book. it was i think around five to seven minutes in total, since the president's taken office and that's the only interaction he's had. >> and phone calls -- >> the only interaction that the president has had with michael wolff since he took office. >> and -- reconcile, the president's statement with the author's statement about how the book came to be? >> i'm not sure what the author's statement is on how the book came to be. i know the book has a lot of things so far of what wee've sen that are completely untrue. many people have quotes that are sourced to them coming out
public lig saying those things are not true, and so i can't speak to what the author's comments were. i can only speak for the white house. >> and does the white house have a copy of the book? >> i believe there may be some individuals that do. jim? >> sarah, the statement, the president's statement suggests that steve bannon has very little influence in the white house, but the president himself elevated him to the same level as the chief of staff putting him on the national security counsel. how do you reconcile that? >> not the same level as the chief of staff. the president was clear it didn't have a lot of influence on him or the decision-making process throughout his time here at the white house. >> sarah -- >> margaret? >> and none of us here have seen michael wolff, we've seen him on multiple occasions first hand and know he was here. who gave him access to the white house? what was he here for? can you explain any of that since we don't have access to the logs? >> so far from what i can tell
of the roughly just over a dozen interactions he had with officials at the white house, i think close to 95% were all done so at the request of mr. bannon. >> so the complaints, realiance steve bannon? others weren't working with him -- >> any that did as far as we can dell did so at the request of mr. bannon. deborah? >> the president announced the most dishonest are and -- [ inaudible ] five p.m. details? where will he say it? will it be televised, how the awards will be -- >> i don't want to spoil anything, but my guess is that there are quite a few individuals that could be up for those awards, and beyond that i think we'll have to see what happens on monday. >> will the press corps be in
the room nofor that? >> we'll keep you posted. might be hard to give awards if you're not there. we'll see what happens. >> and there is topics, a letter from the department of transportation suggesting that the administration doesn't support the split federal/state framework for the gateway tunnel connecting new york and new jersey. since it's infrastructure week, i'm wondering -- >> is it infrastructure week? when isn't it? >> in principle supports at least a 50/50 split on that. if not, what's changed from when he met with the bipartisan new york delegation earlier last year? >> we have no new policy announcements on that point. as we get further into the year and further into the conversations on infrastructure we'll be rolling out more details on what we want to do, what we hope to accomplish and what the plan is to do that. >> and questions yesterday about a shorter list of demands on
immigration. wondering if that's something that mick mulvaney brought up today as part of those discussions? >> it's possible it comes up. we're open to having conversations on that. the conversation today, the primary focus is on the budget. once again, we'd like a clean budget bill. that's not what our focus is going into today's meeting, but our priorities on what we would hope to have in any immigration bill and any daca deal haven't changed. they would include securing the border with a wall, ensuring interior enforcement, eliminating the visa program and chain migration. they're all the same. >> nail down data points with respect to steve bannon pup said the last time the president spoke with him, early part of december. was that before or after the special election in alabama? >> i'd have to look back at the exact date and circle back. >> the drafting of the president, is that -- did he
write it in his own hand or dictate it? >> he's are the president's words. they're very clear and not much to add beyond that, kevin? >> and important if he was furious when these reports first came out about bannon, quoted as saying -- is that an accurate depicti depiction? >> i think furious, disgusted would probably certainly fit, when you make such outrageous claims and completely false claims against the president. his administration, and his family. >> sarah, thanks. i wanted to ask you personally and i know you speak on behalf of the president and on behalf of the american people, how surprised were you at what you read in these excerpts attributed to mr. bannon? did that surprise you in any way and if so, how? >> certainly surprising. i, for one, was somebody who very much believed that the president could and would win. otherwise i wouldn't have dedicated so much time to that. but not only that, i worked in the white house since the very first day, and a lot of the
characterization that i saw that he was pushing out was the opposite of what i saw take place every day that i've been here. >> and a follow-up -- quickly on north korea. there's been some folks in town who have said, listen, it doesn't help. it just despite the idea being, we're going to be forceful, push back. some have said it doesn't help when the tweets come out the way they do, yet we know that the president's made clear, i am who i am. going to tweet the way i want to tweet. any consideration that tweets like the one on north korea actually don't advance the agenda, meaning working with other partners in the region? >> i think what didn't help was the complacency and silence of the previous administration. this is a president who leads through strength and he's going to do that and he's going to focus on everything that he can do in order to keep americans safe and he's not going to be pushed around by the leader of
north korea, or policy with north korea. it has not changed. we're fully committed to continuing to ally maximum pressure and working with all partners in the region including south korea who we have a better relationship now than ever before. we'll keep working with them, pushing forward and hopefully north korea will start making better decisions. kristen? >> you just said that people should question the mental fitness of kim jong-un. isn't it dangerous for the president to be taunting him on twitter? >> i don't think that it's tauntintaunt ing to stand up for the people of this country. what's dangerous, to ignore the continued threats. if the previous administration had done anything and dealt with north korea, dealt with iran instead of sitting by doing nothing we wouldn't have to clean up their mess now. >> and a taunting tweet to say he has a larger nuclear button?
>> i think it's just a fact. >> and what does it say about the president's priorities -- >> the president issued a number of statements, as have i, as has the administration, ambassador haley, secretary of state, jim mattis, secretary of defense, all talked extensively about north korea. to try to limit it down to one tweet is just disingenuous. >> and the president knows the nuclear button, saying ours is bigger. >> the president is well aware how the process works, and what the capacity of the united states is. and i can tell you it's greater than that of north korea. >> and two foreign policy questions. one, yesterday you said that there would be more details on pakistan in the next 24 to 48 hours. seeing reports that the administration plans to announce as soon as wednesday or thursday, plans to cut off security assistance to pakistan. is that accurate? >> we'll keep you posted as those decisions are finalized. >> regarding jerusalem and israel, the president tweeted
last night that we have taken jerusalem the toughest part of the negotiation off the table. but israel for that would have to pay more. first, taking it off the table. when the president announced that -- that jerusalem was the capital of israel, the administration policy was stated as, that the borders were not being decided. this doesn't affect negotiations. this tweet seems to contradict that. >> i don't think so. it doesn't affect the negotiations. we still want to continue to have conversations and continue to the peace process. we're still verify much committed to that, and hope we can continue to push forward in that point. >> and what does this -- >> i'm sorry? >> he said israel would have had to pay more. >> i'd have to check on the details of that. i'm not sure. jordan? >> thanks, sarah. in light of this book and the back and forth over how much access michael wolff had at the white house, will the white house reconsider its decision to
block public release of the visitor logs? will you reless them to the public? >> i don't anticipate any changes to that policy at this point, but if it happens we'll make sure you're aware. john? >> yes. thank you, sarah. two questions. first, during the campaign the president said repeatedly entitlements were off the table, and he would preserve social security, medicare, medicaid, medicare part b. as they were. now with the passage of the tax reform legislation, and the recent statements of how speaker paul ryan and entitlements should be considered, has the president changed his position from the campaign? >> the president hasn't changed his position at this point. again, as conversations go on if that does change we'll let you know. trey? sorry. second question. >> is it safe to say steve bannon is off the list of social invitations for the white house?
>> probably so. since those are controlled by the first lady, i think her statement is pretty clear on her position as well. trey? >> couple questions on steve bannon and one on north korea. how would you describe steve bannon's role in the white house when he was serving this administration. >> i think the president addressed when he feels it was and to me that's the most important point in the process and he's spoken clearly on that front. >> and follow-up, is the president looking for an apology from steve bannon? what is he looking for in the future from steve bannon? >> i don't think anything. >> if i could follow-up on north korea. discussing earlier the idea that kim jong-un would be the one who is mentally ill. is the president concerned that tweeting about nuclear war could cause someone like kim jong-un to act with military force? >> again, i have addressed this and think the president is concerned about the continued threats that this individual has made towards the united states and others, and he's not going to allow him to continue doing
that without saying something, and standing up for the people of the country. nita? >> first, [ inaudible ] have said that the deadline for daca really is this month. that there's not enough time to put a new program in place by march. if it's not done this month. do you all agree with that? i mean does that -- make you -- you know feel like you have to get this done sooner? there has been talk here about not worrying about it? >> we'd like too get someone done but again want to make sure we have complete and responsible immigration reform and not just dealing with one piece of it and laid out where our priorities are and what it would take to make a deal on that and look forward to having those conversations and getting that done. >> and i'm -- >> i'm sorry? >> does it have to be done this month as they were saying? >> i don't know necessarily this month. we'd like to make a deal or securing funding for the border wall and ending chain migration, ending the visa lottery program,
interior enforcements. do that right away. if the democrats are willing to sit down and make that deal, we'd be happy to get it done by the end of the month. andrew? >> and sarah, thank you. >> sorry. okay. do it quickly. >> and quickly. i just don't understand the timing of something. steve bannon left in the summer, late summer. if the president says he lost his mind when he left, why did he continue to talk to him for so many months? >> the president continued to have conversations with him often asked for by mr. bannon. the president spoke with him, but that doesn't mean that he can't hold that position. andrew? >> and thank you, sarah. what do you base your -- your comments about kim jong-un's mental assessment is that your opinion or -- >> i won't get into further details on that front. one last question. go ahead. sorry. i'll come back. andrew --
>> the president enjoyed a slight bump in popularity when down in florida golfing. sure you saw that. is it possible that americans like him more when he's on the news and not tweeting? >> i think americans like the fact he got the largest tax cut in history done. i think they like the fact they're going to see a lot more of their paycheck. the fact that american companies are investing back in this country and not other ones. i think they like the fact that american companies are now giving out massive bonuses across the board. we're seeing every single day more and more companies announce decisions like that. that's what most americans, certainly are very happy about particularly going into the holiday season with a little more money to consider spending as they celebrated christmas with their family. one last question. connor, go ahead. >> in the last day or so we've seen president trump attack the press, the justice department and now his former ally steve bannon. by attacking critics and key institutions in our country isn't he behaving in an
authoritarian behavior? >> no. the particular ed is responding to the news of the day. if the president can't respond aggressively to an individual like the leader of north korea that continues to threaten americans, then that's a dangerous place we don't want to go down. >> sorry, go ahead? >> fired from their jobs, that's not the president of north korea. >> i couldn't hear the first part of the question. >> seen both you and the president call for critics to be fired from their jobs. >> i don't any itthink it's necessarily critics. there's a difference between different opinions and differ facts and people are entitled to an opinion but not entitled to their own facts. we have a big problem with people putting out misleading information. very different things thanks so much, guys. on an extraordinary day of news. sarah sanders defensing it's white house, defending the president, most about this book. "fire and fury." nbc news received a copy, not yet published by michael wolff.
sarah sanders says it is trashy tabloid fiction. the president put out an extraordinary and's even by her own account, a long and detailed statement certainly unlike anything we have seen from this president going after steve bannon for whom many, many of the quotes in this book, the most newsworthy incendiary quotes are about him. he tried to be dismissive of the kind of access that michael wolff had describing a perhaps five to seven-minute conversation, but i think it's important to point out that in the forward, the author writes that he had sought a kind of formal access to the white house, and then he writes, the president himself encouraged this idea, but given the many -- in the white house, that came there seemed to be no one person able to make this happen. equally, no one to say go away. hence, i became a more constant interloper than an invited
guest. something quite close to an actual fly on the wall having accepted to rules nor having made any promises about what i might or might not write. kristen welker, in that briefing, that was not -- on any level, i don't think, any details about what -- sarah sanders disagrees with in terms of the actual access of michael wolff. having said that, in terms of the book, your headline from the briefing? >> reporter: there were a number of them, chris. first, she was asked when was the last time the president spoke to steve bannon? she said that took place in december around the time of the special election. she was asked repeatedly if the president feels betrayed by steve bannon, wants an apology. she continued to go back to the president's statement. effectively saying that president trump now sees him as someone who's lost his mind since he left the white house, and that he was a staffer while
here. of course, we know he was one of the president's closest advisers while he was here. she was asked specifically by my colleague peter alexander about one of the allegations by steve bannon in the book which is that that meeting that donald trump jr. had during the summer of 2016 with that kremlin-linked attorney, bannon says it amounted to treason. peter asked her about that. take a look at that exchange. >> did the president's son donald trump jr. commit treason? >> i think that is a ridiculous accusation, and one i'm pretty sure we've addressed many times from here before and if that's in reference to comments made by mr. bannon i refer you back to the ones made previously on "60 minutes" where he called the collusion with russia about this president a total farce. so i think i would look back at that, if anybody's inconsistent it's been him. >> reporter: also asked about allegations that the president was infur airted, that he's
fuming today. she didn't dispute that, effectively, yes, a sense of disgust here within the administration, because this former aide to the president attacked not only the president but, of course, members of his family as well. and when you take a step back, when you look at this, the only strong reaction we saw in the president's statement today it may be boiled down to just that, chris. we know the president and steve bannon has gn back and forth in the 3569 over policy, over strategy. but this is really some of the strongest words that we've heard from steve bannon or seen from steve bannon about the president's son-in-law, son and daughter. that may be part of what prompted this very, very strong response from the president. now, the other big headline here today, chris had to do with north korea. sarah sanders said that when she wa asked whether the tweets that the president has sent out about north korea raise questions about kim jong-un's mental fitness, or president trump's
mental fitness i should say and she said no. raises questions about kim jong-un's mental fitness. take fitness of kim jong-un. so then isn't it dangerous for the president to be taunting him on twitter? >> i don't think that it's taunting to stand up for the people of this country. i think what's dangerous is to ignore the continued threats. if the previous administration had done anything and dealt with north korea, delalt with iran instead of standing by, it's -- >> sarah, it's a taunting tweet to say he has a larger nuclear button. >> it's just a fact. >> sdwhat it say about the president's priorities that he unleashed a four-paragraph statement about steve bannon in one tweet on north korea? >> the president has issued a number of statements, as have i, as have the administration. ambassador haley, secretary of
state, jim mattis, secretary of defense have all talked extensively about north korea to try to limit it down to one tweet. it's just disingenuous. >> the president knows there is no actual one nuclear button, saying it's actually big eger. >> the president is very aware of how the process works and what the capacity of the united states is. and i can tell you that it's greater than that of north korea. >> and, of course, that has been the fact check throughout the day that there isn't an actual nuclear button but rather a complex process the president has to pursue before he can launch any type of nuclear strike. you heard sarah sanders defending the president saying he's well aware of that process. >> kristen welker at the white house. thank you for that. a mega panel here to discuss all of it. we haven't had a chance to talk about north korea. let me bring in ambassador christopher hill. former u.s. ambassador to iraq, south korea, poland and
macedonia. on a totally different story, ambassador, which is the swearing in of some new members of the senate, joe biden happened to be in town. he called those tweets unpresidential and he added this is not a game. there are others who are defending the president saying, this is who the president is. this is tough talk. or saying that the concerns about it are being overstated. what do you make of the tweet? >> well, first of all, i don't think the president quite realizes when he speaks, the entire world is listening. and, frankly speaking, as unpopular as our president may be in this country, he's about half as popular in south korea. his popularity is in the teens in south korea. so you have people there living literally in the shadows of north korean nuclear capabilities, living within 14,000 north korean artillery pieces. and we have a president who seems to think this is all a big joke. and, frankly, whether it's humor or whether it's just bad taste,
he is really undermined u.s. leader. that part of the world. and i think we're getting to a tipping point where he doesn't have any leadership in the world. certainly not in europe. he's lost so much of it in the middle east. he is really becoming a nonfactor. and i think this is quite tragic for our country and, frankly, dangerous for our country as well. >> a lot of republicans have said hopefully over the course of the past many months that the president, while he may not know much about foreign policy, he has surrounded himself with a team of people who do. today he was in a meeting with john kelly, mike pence, h.r. mcmaster. obviously people who would never put out a tweet like this. but does it raise the question because sarah sanders has said the president's tweets are policy. the president is speaking for himself. indeed that is policy. does it raise the question, who is speaking for our government? >> you bet it raises that question. and it also raises the question, if we're going to consider a
tweet in the dead of the night to be policy, where is the discussion about it? where is the interagency discussion. we're not a dictatorship. we don't wait for the top person to decide something in his dreams and then move ahead. these things are staffed out. all kinds of papers and discussions. again, it's an administration, not a dictatorship. so i think the main problem is, yes, there are some talented people there. our secretary of defense. extremely well experienced. but i'm not convinced that our president really understands these people as people who are there to carry out foreign policy or make recommendations. they are kind of there, and he doesn't really pay attention to them. so again, i think what this whole issue of tweets and his going after political enemies and the way he does, it raises the question of, is it an administration or is it just one person seeming to having a good time with this. in the meantime, the entire
world, and there are dangerous problems out there. take these iran demonstrations. and for our president just to burst out with whatever he wants to say about these things is very problematic. >> well, it also comes at a time when this book paints a picture of a white house where people who are closest to him are mocking him. they all have names for him. again, i'm going to quote this book fire and fury. there was now a fair amount of back of the classroom giggling about who had called trump what. for steve mnuchin and reince priebus, he was an idiot. for gary cohn, he was dumb as, i can't say the word because it's daytime television. for h.r. mcmaster, he was a dope. the list went on. tillerson would merely become yet another example of subordinates who believed they could compensate for trump's failings. you've just written about steve bannon, about this relationship with donald trump.
from your perspective, what do you make of this book and the things steve bannon has had to say and the president's extraordinary response? >> i mean, i've never seen anything like it. i don't think there's a parallel like this with a president so thoroughly rebooking one of his own former aides and particularly one who was the campaign manager and the chief strategist at the white house. the president has had any number of reasons to abandon steve bannon in the past. i think the reason that he does it now is, i think, there were a few of them. number one, the loss of a senate seat as the president referred to in alabama when steve bannon got behind roy moore and basically pressured the president into doing the same thing. i think the personal swipes at the president's family and the president himself that clearly come from bannon have been a problem. and ultimately bannon has alienated his main patron here as the president. but as you noted, there's some powerful stuff in there in that book in terms of what the people around the president are calling him. i wouldn't be surprised to know that people at the white house
say we need to distract from some of what's in this book. let's pick a fight with somebody, bannon being the first to rise up. we're not talking as much right now as we were earlier in the day about bannon's formulation that the meeting between the russian emissaries and some trump family members was treasonous. >> we have an election coming up a little later this year that steve bannon could play a role in that. that will make a lot of people around the white house very unhappy. make a lot of people on capitol hill for unhappy. garrett haake we saw don trump jr. sending out a tweet. obviously supporting his president. mitch mcconnell as well would seem to be delighted at the fact that steve bannon, maybe he's getting taken down. >> nobody is happier about the way today has played out than mitch mcconnell. mitch mcconnell has had bannon and bannon's predecessors in the conservative movement before him who have tried to elect far right candidates who can't win in november in republican
primaries. the weaker that steve bannon is in selecting and promoting candidates like roy moore, like danny tarkanian who is running in a primary in nevada, candidates in arizona. some of these other senate seats. the weaker steve bannon is when it comes to elections in the senate, the stronger mitch mcconnell's hand is. and they believe they know how to pick people who can win in november. if they're going to hold onto this very narrow majority they have after doug jones comes to the senate, they need the people who have been there, like dean heller, to stay in those seats and not have people they believe will get wiped out in november, even with steve bannon's backing. >> and julia ainsley, obviously somebody who reports on justice and national affairs. so let's do the big picture here and jonathan just alluded to this. in the end, as people are looking at this book and this is a book and this is access that was had. but let's not discount the quality of the people who are
running the investigation into any possible russia connection, any possible russia collusion. in the end, is this book likely to provide us some real insights here or is it more really about the politics of it, about, i guess, palace intrigue than it is about what might happen to this administration or what might come of this investigation? are we get anything clues? >> i think it really is the palace intrigue to a large part, chris. one of the things that jonathan was going back to, this treasonous allegation, of course bannon there was talking about whether or not trump may have walked people to that meeting, that now famous or infamous june 2016 meeting between trump campaign associates like his son, donald trump jr., and this russian lawyer who promised to have dirt on hillary clinton. we've spoken to people who have been in that meeting and nbc news has found that it was very unlikely that trump would have been there at that time. and people who were part of that
meeting said he was not there and not outside the door. these are sort of bubbling up but i think more indicative of how people are starting to throw each other under the bus. as bannon is seeing that he's been distanced from the whourks he is distancing himself. and that explosive statement from the white house is trying to discredit bannon. much in the same way they've tried to discredit anyone attacking them. >> we'll have to let that be the last word. that's going to do it for me this hour. my thanks to everyone on the panel. i'll see you back here tomorrow at 3:00. find me on twitte twitter @chrisjansing. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts now. >> hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. i've covered the trump white house every day since inauguration and the trump campaign every day before that. today is a day that can only be described one way. total meltdown. in conversations with four individuals in and closely aligned with the white house, insiders describe a president