tv Deadline White House MSNBC February 20, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
to a close for me. i'll see you back here tomorrow afternoon again at 3:00 p.m. thank you for watching. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi, everyone, it's 4:00 in new york. it's no coincidence that as the pace of indictments and charges from the mueller probe take on the feel of a drumbeat, donald trump's twitter feed reads like the rantings of an increasingly isolated and worried individual. news today that mueller has charged a lawyer who once worked with former trump campaign manager paul manafort for lying to investigators. nbc news reports, "special counsel robert mueller has filed a new charge against an attorney. the son-in-law of a ukrainian russian oligarch named in the controversial donald trump dossier who's accused of lying to investigators in the russia investigation. alex van der zwaan charged with making false statements about his communications with former trump campaign aide rick gates according to a court document.
he pleaded guilty this aftern n afternoon. nbc's ari melber putting the development in context telling us, "mueller is showing how tough he will be on anyone who lies or contributes to obstruction, including lawyers caught up in h or working on the matter." this is as donald trump blusters away on twitter about the significance of friday's 13 indictments of russian nationals for their role in meddling in the 2016 presidential election. the president tweeting this morning that it was all obama's fault and pointing
to coverage on "fox & friends" to prove it. "thank you to "fox & friends" on the great timeline on all the failures the obama administration had against russia including crimea, syria, and so much more. we are now starting to win again." and this, "i've been much tougher on russia than obama, just look at the facts. total fake news." the fake news is the part of that tweet where president trump claims to have been tougher on
russia. a claim sarah huckabee sanders echoed in the white house briefing just a few moments ago. but while obama was slapping on sanctions, expelling diplomats and shuttering russian compounds, drup druonald trump this. >> what do you think generally about sanctions against russia? >> i think we ought to get on with our lives. computers have complicated lives very greatly. the whole age of computer made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on. >> it seems like you have a tendency, r looking it from the outside, to doubt american intelligence when it comes to russian hacking. i'm trying to better understand why it seems that way. >> i just want them to be sure because it's a pretty serious charge and i want them to be sure and if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong. and so i want them to be sure. i think it's unfair if they don't know and i know a lot about hacking and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. so it could be somebody else, and i also know things that other people don't know, and so
they cannot be sure of this situation. >> i know things. here's sarah huckabee sanders getting in on the blame game. >> what is he specifically doing about the fact that russia interfered with our election and has every intention we are told of doing it again? what is he doing about it? >> look, just last week, the department of homeland security secretary kirsten nelson met with a number of relevant stakeholders. they're discussing this process, going through, looking every single day at the best ways forward. everyone wants to blame this on the trump administration. don't forget this happened under the obama administration. >> he hasn't called out putin, criticized obama, criticized the fbi, he didn't even criticize vladimir putin. >> he's been tougher on russia in the first year than obama was in eight years combined. he's imposed sanctions. he's taken away properties. he's rebuilt their military. he's done a number of things to put pressure on russia and to be tough on russia. just last week there was an incident that will be reported
in the coming days in another way that this president was tough on russia. >> it's a coming attraction, if you will. to help us uncover the truth underneath all that trumpian projection, we're joined by the best of the best. from the nooic"the new york tim white house correspondent peter packer. "washington post" white house reporter ashley parker. at the table with us, alyssa, former obama white house deputy chief of staff for operations. who could barely keep a straight face through all that. michael crowley, senior foreign affairs correspondent politico. jim rutenberg with "the new york times." lydia pulgreen, editor in chief. let me start with you, that was sarah huckabee sanders taking on the art of the tease. what's she talking about, what's the new tough on russia news that the white house is holding back from you guys? >> yeah, we should all be investigating that. i don't know the answer to the question. i wish i did. look, you know, unpacking what she said there, it is true, of course, that there was criticism of what president obama did or did not do last year. including from some of his own, you know, former top aides who
wish they had done more at the time, try to pressure him to do a little bit more. it's also true that he no longer is the president of the united states, and that what happened in 2016 under president obama doesn't stop president trump from doing anything now, if he feels, in fact, that there is, you know, evidence of meddling by russia. and he hasn't really, in fact, addressed that. when sarah sanders says the administration has taken some actions, it's true, there have been some actions taken by the administration at various points in the last year. almost none of it, though, voiced or vocalized by president trump, himself. he's gone out of his way to avoid being the tough guy on any of this kind of stuff. presen for instance, when russia ordered the american embassy in moscow to get rid of two-thirds of his staff, president trump was asked about it, said, hey, i'm grateful to them, it means we don't have to pay them anymore. the administration shut down a couple diplomatic facilities in russia. president trump didn't announce. he let that be announced by people lower than him. so he has personally stayed away
from either "a," talking at any length about this interference by russia in the election, other than as it represent relates toz ca his campaign. "b" talking in any tough way about vladimir putin, russia, action he thought should be taken to penalize it for previous actions and prevent any future actions. >> ashley parker, let me bring you in on this. on this idea. i know -- i got one sitting right here, i'm going to let her speak for herself. this, on the one hand/on the other hand, drives obama administration alums crazy because on the one hand, they were grappling with the final days and weeks of a pretty heated presidential election, but president obama never said anything like this. when asked by bill o'reilly about vladimir putin, here's what donald trump said. >> a killer, though. putin's a killer. >> we have a lot of killers. you think our country is so innocent? >> so, ashley parker, the idea that donald trump's affection and affinity for vladimir putin
is so deep, so engrained, so sell cellular, he thinks america is just as bad as vladimir putin who has murdered russian dissidents, who has murdered journalists who cover vladimir putin, makes the heads of any previous administration explode. is the white house trying to say, seriously, with a straight face to you guys behind the scenes, when the cameras aren't rolling, that obama was really worse on russia than they are? >> they are trying to say that, and that clip you just played, there's a number of factors that can explain president trump's affinity toward vladimir putin. you know, one, of course, we just discussed is that he's very reluctant to take on this issue of russia interference in the 2016 elections because he feels that if he gives it much creden credence, it will sort of undermine his own legitimacy as president. that said, that particular sound bite you just plays go to a different part of trump's psychology which is his ability to sort of relate and even admire strong men and dictators
and putin is not sort of the first tough leader who president trump has praised, praised their policies, praised their tough-on-crime stances. so that aspect there seemed to be what he was relatinging to with put putin. >> peter, she's right. let me put up a timeline. so donald trump's sort of backchanneling of his pro-russia actions included a meeting ostensibly to discuss the dirt that russians had on hillary clinton. on december 29th, while balm was ma slapping sanctions on russia, michael flynn called kislyak to discuss those sanctions. we now know that all indications are that he lied when he was asked about those conversations by the fbi and that's what he's pleaded guilty to making a false statement over. december 30th, president-elect trump praised putin, he called him v. putin, his little -- i
guess that's his nickname for vlad, "i always knew he was very smart," he tweeted. july 18th, 2017, trump discusses sanctions with putin but denies it on twitter and so on and on. even if you put up the body of trump actions on russia against the body of obama actions on russia, which democrats and republicans, i've seen the adam schiff out countless times saying he wish he'd done more. it's still not in the same category. >> well, again, as ashley was talking about, the odd affinity for vladimir putin in a personal way is very striking. it's hard not to look at that and say what is that about? you know, obviously, george w. bush, obviously, barack obama, both tried at various points to work with vladimir putin. they saw that as their jobs and then when things went south like the invasion of georgia in 2008, the invasion of ukraine in 2014, you know, they took tough action against russia as a result.
this president has allowed tough action to be taken at times by people beneath him, by his administration, but himself, he doesn't want to do that. and it does beg the question of why. does he have an admiration for strong men, as a lot of people have said, does he have a personal interest in russia in some way that he hasn't disclosed? we don't know the answer to that, but it's -- he has made it seem more suspicious by the way he has so consciously avoided saying anything about vladimir putin that would be in any way seen as critical. >> and ashley, you've done some extraordinary reporting over the weekend twitter tirade. i don't want to go back too much, except to two things, one, your piece about how the white house looked at the tragedy in florida just in terms of operationally as a reprieve from what was a slow-motion scandal about background checks, and then to what followed that. the unleashed nature of donald
trump on twitter this weekend, essentially blaming the fbi for the shooting. i saw sarah huckabee sanders try to clean that up. i don't think she had much success. but she -- the president all but blamed the florida shooting on the russia investigation. what do white house aides have to say about that? >> so he did and sarah, as you saw, did not have a particularly good answer. she sort of said he didn't mean exactly what he said in that tweet, but as with a lot of his tweets, and a lot of his off-the-cuff statements this entire presidency, his aides have no idea what is coming. they see them in realtime. just like the rest of us. and then they're forced to scramble to respond. so privately, they're not particularly thrilled with having to take that tweet on and kind of try to give it a backbone and some, you know, after-the-fact sunday morning quarterbacking credence, but it is what they have to do. you saw sarah do it. it wasn't particularly
effective. i don't think this is going to. be a talking point they're going to be going out there and echoing. it's a fair question for them to get asked and one which they'll have to respond to. >> alyssa, what is the reaction in inside president obama's inner circle to these musings from the president? >> i mean, it's just, it's ridiculous. you know, if they want to go around and say that barack obama could have done more, fine, stipulate it. but it's your bag, pick it up, you know, does that mean that now he doesn't have to do anything? so, i mean, for most of us, i just think it's really sad to see someone who literally is constitutionally incapable of being a president and leading, and if he really did care about what russia did, why didn't he start a commission? start a commission. every member of his intel committee has said there was meddling. it happened. and he just moves on. and so that's sad. >> but what about the fact that he now has his own -- can you imagine any scenario where susan rice would have been at the munich security conference and
saying anything about russia or anything else and president obama would be live tweeting his dissent or critiquing her performance? >> never, ever, because we were unified and we spoke and we had a foreign policy strategy that the whole government was clued in on, but, no, also, you know, we didn't let barack obama have his twitter. so -- >> but even if he did -- i mean, just the idea -- >> no, he never would have. >> -- that there is no -- there's no topic that's too sacred for the president to undermine his own aides. and there's no -- there's no aide that immune from being attacked by the president on twitter. just as someone who worked at the highest levels of a white house, how outside the norm. is that? >> it's so outside the norm, i don't understand why people actually continue to work there. i mean, he's a tank. he knows one direction, forward. he's going to mow over all of them. they're all going to leave the building with no credibility and complete reputational damage. and so for him, i just -- you know, the only person so far, the ochnly two who are immune a
ivanka and jared. >> so far. >> that remains to be seen. >> and hope hicks. >> so far. >> she had bad judgment about rob porter, don't forget. >> yeah, he hasn't attacked her on twitter. you're right. i'm glad you're here, jim, because i want to ask you about, so mike -- ambassador mcfaul, former ambassador in the obama era to russia, tweeted this last night, creating a bit of confusion whether he'd seen sean hannity, the man, or the program. turns out he meant the program. "caught sean hannity at the gym tonight, didn't know he was talking about american alleged interference in other countries' elections as an excuse for russia violating our sovereignty. that's exactly the whataboutism argument putin's tv channels make. exactly." so, you know, i guess one of the differences between any stipulated lack of fulsomeness in the obama era response was it didn't have a network distorting the truth for it. donald trump does. >> right. and, but, you know, what i
missed sean hannity last night. >> me, too. >> but there is some truth to fact that the united states has engaged in election meddling over its history. the cia has. but what ambassador mcfaul was on to is it's not always the same thing. right? like here, you can help and a democratic movement deal with a -- >> sometimes it's standing up for the iranian dissidents who are being hung from cranes for being gay. america's role in supporting democracies is stated u.s. policy. i'm not sure of any sort of embrace or national interest in permitting russia to intervene in our democratic process. >> right. and that whataboutism is coming to dominate the political discussion and the wind at this president's back, and, so, yes, sean hannity is very much of a part of that. look over there, look over there, look over there, guess what's happening in the meantime. the russian behavior we're talking about now is ongoing, it's probably iterating. we're coming into the midterms and we're still trying to figure
out what happened during 2016, but this is an infrastructure w information war happening now and nowhere in the game. >> the hypopocrisy of adopting whataboutism is so rich. whataboutism is what the soviets did in in the u.n. banging shoes on the table, what about lamumba being assassinated by the cia, now we have figures on the hard right using that exact same technique. it's the highest and rankest hypocrisy to my mind. >> a president echoing -- it's also, fox news existed as an ecochamber for the politicians they supported. you now have the politician, himself, echoing the ecochamber. i don't know what you call it, stereo in 340. i want to read something john brennan tweeted, "never ceases to amaze me, successful you have been making yourself so small, so petty, and banal."
i've been practicing that all day. "with your tweets. your insecurity is well deserved. thomas paine was rite when he said these are the times that try men's souls." obviously a very high degree of skepticism from the u.s. intelligence community. i am sure that that represents the view of more than just one former cia director. >> yeah, absolutely. i hear some people saying they're struck by some of these intelligence professionals who are coming out being very outspoken, people who had reputations for being nonpartisan, nonpolitical, and occasionally someone says, boy, clapper is really out there, brennan is really out there, have they been democrats all along? i don't think that's what's going on. i don't think it's partisanship. i think they're horrified their entire careers were based on defending the country from threats like these. more recently focused on terrorism, but certainly these are men who came of age during the cold war, and are just horrifying of what the russians have done. i think share this feeling that so many people have that it's completely surreal that the president of the united states doesn't seem to be taking it
seriously. and almost as though george w. bush after 9/11 said we don't know who did this, it could have been a lot of people, and didn't really take the lead on action to reinforce cockpit doors or increase airport security. you just kind of can't believe that it's happening. i think that's why you see that sort of a reaction. >> peter baker, michael crowley mikes a point that many on the right have been making, max boot i think has a piece in the "washington post" making this point. watching donald trump react to what general hayden, another one of the intelligence community officials who's highly alarmed at what he's seeing, certainly no one has ever suspected him of being a liberal, they are making this parallel that russian meddling was a political 9/11 and you covered george w. bush, i worked for george w. bush, his post-9/11 body of policies are highly controversial, divided this country in some terrible ways but the patriot act passed the u.s. senate 98-2, in the same way that the sanctions passed the senate.
there is not a lot of debate in congress on the russia question. the outlier is the trump white house. what are they going to be able to say for themselves if they couldn't to be so out of step with democrats and republicans in congress, with h. r. mcmaster, the sitting national security adviser, with the intelligence community which simply can't sustain the trumpian message which is that russia's role had no effect? that is not the intelligence community assessment at this hour. >> yeah, no, the intelligence community has not, in fact, said whether or not it thinks that the russian interference did or did not change the outcome. it has not weighed in on that. doesn't have a way, i think, perhaps, to measure that necessarily. certainly you cannot read that from the indictment that was handed up on friday. they don't take an issue with that one. the other, the president has chosen to interpret it that way because it's obviously an argument he wants to make. the outlier isn't the trump white house. the outlier is the president. even his own white house says as sarah sanders did today, as general mcmaster did on saturday, that there is no
question about the idea that russia interfered in the election. what's striking is how much the president, himself, is at variance with the things being said by the very people he, himself, has appointed. that includes general mcmaster, includes, you know, obviously the intelligence agency chiefs who testified last week. it includes, you know, rex tillerson, it includes nikki haley. basically every person in washington in positions of power with the exception of the president has in a full-throated way said russia did something here that's important and we should be wary of and should do something to prevent again. regardless of who it helped or didn't help. and that's the one thing the president seems basically unwilling or unable to say. >> and we will eventually get to the bottom of it, somebody will. his last name might be mueller. when we come back, what bob mueller's latest moves tell us about the speed and aggressiveness of his investigation. and what about all those white house staffers without full security clearances?
one of them is the president's son-in-law. why does he still have so much access to classified information? and could he be about to be cut off? and donald trump's woman problem. will it make the difference in 2018? sh your brain is an amazing thing. but as you get older, it naturally begins to change, causing a lack of sharpness, or even trouble with recall. thankfully, the breakthrough in prevagen helps your brain and actually improves memory. the secret is an ingredient originally discovered... in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory. prevagen. the name to remember.
i thought this was the dresser? isn't that the bed? phone: i'm sorry, i didn't understand. phone: for help with chairs, say "chair." does this mean we're not going out? book-case. see how easy renters insurance can be at geico.com. we all want to know you know, the new, new thing. with xfinity's retail stores, you can now see the latest. want to test drive the latest devices? be our guest. want to save on mobile? just ask. want to demo the latest innovations and technology? do it here. come see how we're making things simple, easy, and awesome.
plus come in today and ask about xfinity mobile, a new kind of network designed to save you money. visit your local xfinity store today. russian-linked attorney alex van der zwaan departing a district courthouse moments ago after pleading guilty for lying to the fbi. he's now the fourth person to cut a deal in bob mueller's russia probe. trump's attorney, ty cobb, says the white house has no comment because he says van der zwaan
has nothing to do with the white house. sounds like wishful thinking to me. joining us now is nbc's ken dilanian, and natasha who cove s s intel and national security for "the atlantic." peter baker and the table are also here. ken dilanian, break down today's argument. do you agree with ari melber's assessment this shows just how aggressive and just how much material the mueller probe has to work with in terms of pursuing everyone and anyone that obstructs their pursuit of truth? >> yeah, nicolle, at a minimum, it sends a very stark message which is do not lie to the fbi, do not lie to robert mueller. this man, alex van der zwaan went into the courthouse a dashing young lawyer and comes out on his way to becoming a convicted felon, disbarred. his legal career is over. here's the interesting thing about this, prosecutors and investigators will tell you witnesses lie to them all the time in federal investigations and they don't always prosecute those cases. generally they do so for stre strategic reasons. now we have a plea agreement. the question is what does this
man have to give? it really looks like he's got something to say about rick gates, potentially about paul manafort, and this soot way to put pressure on these guys. why would mueller be doing that? he's already got massive indictments against these men. it really looks like he badly wants paul manafort to plead guilty to flip, to cooperate, and that's how this may relate back to the white house because if paul manafort flips, he may have things to say about potential collusion between the trump campaign and russia, nicolle. >> natasha, you have a piece that dropped at 3:58. we love your timing. tell us, one, what you uncovered on another extraordinary day in the mueller probe and weigh in on this idea of the public-facing outputs of the mueller probe increasing in pace. >> right. so, so far, we've seen about 19 indictments from mueller's team including, you know, four people who have already pleaded guilty
to lying to federal agents. exactly like ken said, this sends a very strong message not to lie to mueller's team. he has a ton of documents, resources, human sources, to work with, and the plea deal today, or the guilty plea today from this guy, this lawyer, really shows that he's honing in yet again even more so homi on manafort's work in ukraine. essentially has to do with a report he fihired this law firmn 2012, a trial against victor n yanocovic. whether this was illicitly financed. in the indictment of paul manafort and rick gates there was a clue back in october this was always going to be on mueller's radar. he alleged that paul manafort and rick gates funneled $4 million through offshore kpaechbs into skaden's pocket to
produce this report on behalf of the government back in 2012 so now that kind of implicates skaden which is a massive, influenti influential, international law firm. the fact they secured the cooperati cooperation, said today in a statement to reporters it is, in fact, cooperating with federal investigators, it really indicates that that could shed a lot of light on what paul manafort did with regard to this particular deal and whether or not it was illicit and that could potentially put more pressure on manafort to flip and talk about the trump campaign. >> and lydia, i mean, steve bannon's words are ringing in h my ears which is never a good thing, but steve bannon lays it out in "fire and fury" and he says "andrew wiseman, who happens to be the prosecutor in today's charging documents listed, is a money laundering guy. steve bannon says in "fire and fury," that's how they get to trump. this is not a direct quote. goes right through kushner, goes right through manafort.
this was laid out by the president's own chief strategist as the prosecutorial strategy for getting trump. >> absolutely. and i think, you know, you had cnn reporting earlier today about mueller looking into kushner's business dealings, you know, possible loans from a big russian state bank. you have all of the charges that seem to point to manafort's involvement in very, very shady things in ukraine. these are all leading up to squeezing and squeezing and squeezing so that you get higher and higher, higher up the food chain so somebody who knows something that's going to link back to the white house. the problem is that we haven't gotten there yet and i think for a lot of americans, they hear, you know, all these ukrainian names and paul manafort, he didn't -- it's very easy for trump and his abetters at fox news to say, this doesn't have anything to do with me, i don't know any ukrainiaukrainians. and so i think that speed is a really important part of bob
mueller's strategy here which is to knock them down one by one and get higher and higher and higher up the food chain as quickly as possible. this needs to happen fast. >> and michael crowley, ken dilanian e plained to me this concept that there's no value for mueller in flipping people unless you have a target in mind. you don't flip them -- >> right. >> -- out of the kindness in your own heart to give them a lighter sentence because they have a baby coming. that's an interesting detail. that's not why. th may be what motivated this lawyer personally. there's something in their sights. go back to the republican convention in cleveland for the first time in history, the republican platform included more lenient language than certainly what was advocated when the two men i worked for, george w. bush and john mccain were the republican nominees. so they're already -- the quid pro quo may be hiding if plain sight. >> that's where the manafort story line merges with the trump story line because manafort's representation in ukraine would
give him an incentive to -- he knows -- he understands the importance of ukraine to russia very well. he has a lot of contacts in moscow. he knows that for the russians, having america back away and stop resisting russian interference in ukraine is essential. what's interesting about what happened today is it is possible that he's further squeezing m manafort. he already had so much on manafort. >> right. >> its's a little puzzling to se it in that context. a lot of talk that maybe rick gates could be ready to plea, could this be related to gates potentially flipping? is there somebody else in the mix we haven't learned about yet who may still be a part of this? last thing, this story reflects so poorly on this law firm including, i'm sorry, i know i'm in the presence of a former obama administration official. >> it's okay. >> greg craig, white house counsel under obama, who actually has a very distinguished record for standing up for great causes, has done a lot of work on human
rights and people who deserve to have more of a kind of a legal powerhouse in washington speaking for them, his name was attached to this report that really does seem to have been essentially justifying a political imprisonment in ukraine and maybe there's more to the story that we haven't heard yet from the firm, but i have to say, it shows you the power of this sort of oligarch money and how it can apparently buy people off in really unpalatable ways. >> it makes it, ken dilanian, illogical for anyone to assume that there isn't more that we know we don't know on the russia front. i mean, i think the white house -- the president's lawyers have created this sort of soothing of the president by saying it's almost over, it didn't touch you. even the president figures out he's been lied to. it took him until saturday afternoon to realize they were spinning him. >> yeah, that's one thing that's been reaffirmed to us in recent days, nicolle, is we're only seeing the tip of the mueller iceberg. yes, this manafort/ukrainian stuff is confusing to people, yes, it seems like it's on a separate track from this whole question of collusion. don't forget, paul manafort was
the chairman of the campaign. he was offering private briefings during his time with the campaign to a russian oligarch. he was sitting in that trump tower meeting. now robert mueller on friday has laid out a criminal conspiracy by russians to defraud the united states of america and violate u.s. election laws. if any americans participated knowingly in that conspiracy, if paul manafort knows about any americans doing that, that is relevant and that's how the manafort/gates stuff links up to the white house, nicolle. >> in normal times just the mere fact he was donald trump's campaign chairman and gates' deputy would be enough of a tie, but i know we're not living in normal times. ken dilanian, natasha, thank you so much for joining us this hour. remember the security clearance controversy? it was last week's white house scandal. it may force the white house to make a difficult decision about jared kushner's access to classified information. that's next.
surrounding the white house's security clearance procedures this month, where an accused domestic abuser was allowed to view top-secrete information under his interim status, chief of staff john kelly is overhauling the whole operation. his five-page memo detailing the changes included this. "effective this friday, discontinue any top secret or sci-level interim clearances for individuals whose investigations or ajude digs judjudications h pending since june 1st 2017 or before." likely included in that group the president's son-in-law, jird kushner. according to the "washington post," "a senior administration official with knowledge of kelly's thinking says that the chief of staff has been frustrated with kushner's high level of access without a final clearance and he was aware of the new policies announced friday could jeopardize kushner's ability to carry out his duties in the west wing. the move puts a, "bull's-eye" on kushner" the official said. last hour the white house press
secretary sarah huckabee sanders was asked about this. her response is raising more questions than answers. >> i can tell you that no decision within the memo will impact anything that jared kushner is working on in terms of specifics on security clearance. i can't get into -- >> does he not need classified information to do his job? >> i can't answer whether someone has security clearance or not, as we addressed many times before. but i can tell you that nothing that has taken place will affect the valuable work that jared is doing. he continues and will continue to be a valued member of the team and he'll continue to do the important work that he's been focused on with the last year. >> sounds like he's about to give west wing tours. peter baker's still here. alyssa, i mean, i don't even know what to say. in the white house in which i worked, i've said this on the air many times, if the fbi flags something, it was reported to the white house counsel and then that person's manager knew, so if it had been me, r as a senior staffer, it would have gone to the chief of staff. if it was one of my employees in the coms department, i was told
and that person was fired that day. >> of course. i mean, the thing that i don't understand about his memo is that it doesn't actually do anything. if they're saying the interim clearances are going to be wiped out, everybody has to go, but they keep kushner who's probably the most dangerous person who has the interim clearance, or has the most access to highly classified information, that's -- >> he sees the pdb. >> i never touched the -- it was -- we were very need to know. i'm sure you guys were, too. and so for him, it's like, and also the additional protocols that, like, if you've had an interim clearance since june, then you're going to be kicked out, like, it just -- one size doesn't fit all at the stage that they're in. they're going to end up with 100 people potentially who have no security clearance and this person, man, president, is going to be alone with no one around him just doing whatever he wants. >> he doesn't read the pdbs. >> he doesn't. >> so you are, you know, finger on the pulse of the media world. the last two administrations,
and this one, talk a lot about prosecuting leaks, about prosecuting leaks of classified information to journalists. they potentially have a very senior staffer or several, we don't know, who don't have the proper clearances. who haven't been deemed as not risked for blackmail by the fbi, handling classified information. sort of undermines any high ground in terms of prosecuting at least classified information to journalists which is one of sarah's favorite lines in the briefing room. >> absolutely. the whole thing, it's -- should they make any move against journalists on leak investigations, first of all, you bring that up, they're the leakiest white house we've ever seen. >> right, they call us. >> then you have this issue which is gigantic. i was going to make a joke, though, do you really need classified information for mideast peace? we all know it's messed up there. >> fair enough. peter baker, i just wonder, i mean, this scandal was about
really the real dark underbelly of the trump brand of incompetence. of not having a transition. i've seen some reporting in your papers and others that people felt rushed filling out these forms. filling out these forms was really the moment as a white house staffer that you realize it's not about you, if you lie on these forms, it's a crime. and i don't remember thinking that it wasn't a big deal and that everybody did it. nobody did it. everyone told the truth on the forms and let the chips fall where they may. your only sort of path to redemption was in telling the truth and working with anyone who knew everything about you. does this white house actually see a path forward where someone who can't clear a background check can continue to have their hands on a pdb? >> well, that's an excellent question, you know, just last week, they basically said good-bye to a relative ly low aide working on climate policy because it turns out had smoked marijuana sometime between 2010
and 2013, hadn't been a problem before up until this point but now under this new policy, he could no longer continue going forward under the interim clearance process. that's going to raise a lot of questions. if this guy has to go for something like marijuana smoking which used to be considered a bigger deal than it has been in recent administrations, then what does it mean for others who are at a higher level who have a higher level of access to information, as you say, the president's daily brief is the highest, you know, form of intelligence that goes into a white house on any given day. and they're not answering these questions, they're not, you know, they haven't given a very precise understanding of what they will. they may not be able to -- they may not choose to answer reporters in the briefing room. there's going to be a moment when people on the hill who have a little bit more authority than we do are going to ask some questions and it will be interesting to see how they answer them. >> also just one point, let's remember that maybe 25% to 3550 of the republican campaign in 2017 was about the mishandling of classified information. something a little satirical about that context. quick point number two, how are you the envoy in charge of
middle east peace if you don't have a full security clearance? i mean, you were talking about so many -- >> you're not. >> have -- sensensitive -- >> i'm not joking. people don't understand what clearances are for. when you go to china or anywhere where they might spy on you, which is sadly just about everywhere, the schedule's classified. >> the schedule's classified. >> what can an aide without any clearance, and there are many aides without any clearance, what can an aide with no clearance do in the white house? >> i really don't know. you need at least, at least if you have a secret clearance, you can navigate to an extent, but it they're saying it's not like they have secret clearances that are locked in and they can move on to the next level, which would be top secret, then i don't know what they can do with no -- nicolle, i don't know what their badge would say. would it be -- >> red? >> i don't fknow. >> this really is -- it's not a scarlet letter but allows the situation room to not -- i mean, they are career professionals so they can't ask everyone their clearances. >> and this is actually an interesting thing, though,
because in the situation room, there is a sign that says the security level, the clearance level, of the meeting. so i don't now how people go into almost everything in h the situation room is ts level or higher. >> at least. >> so i don't know how they're attending things. >> fundamentally, this is about blackmail, right? >> yes. >> that's what everyone is afraid of. we've had a series of stories where the president was basically blackmailed over -- a porn star and a playmate, you know? and there have been long articles in "the new yorker" and elsewhere about jared kushner's vulnerability to china through his business dealings and i just -- it just seems unthinkable to me you would have people work bing in this white house that's already got a background of playing fast and loose and a vulnerability to blackmail at the highest levels that you would continue to have folks who are working without appropriate clearances. >> and lydia, the other thing is they're trying -- the bush -- or the trump administration keeps trying to put forward that this is a problem with the fbi and the cia. no, the problem is that they
lied on their forms so they've had to be revised multiple times. like, i've been very open. i smoked pot. i had an issue with my clearance. but when they interviewed me, i was like, no, no, i smoked pot a lot. there was no them coming back -- >> extra pages -- >> exactly. they were like, okay, we got you, girl. >> as long as we're going full oprah here -- so did i. >> me, too. >> the way it works, once you flag it on your form, you get an interview and feel like a -- you feel like a criminal. you feel -- never mind that you're usually like the goody two shoes of your class. you feel like a loser and you go in and the fbi -- you're laughing. >> did they ssh -- >> no, they don't. >> what they are trying to ascertain is if that's it. >> yeah. >> is this it? and do they have everything? and then they -- this is another place where the trump white house has lied their little
tushies off. the fbi hands it over to the white house counsel and says this is it, this is her form, this is her amended form and this is her interview where she cried and told me she was a bad person. >> basically it. >> but, you know, it is then left to the white house managers. so, you know -- >> and we should let peter get back in on this because you covered this rob porter scandal which is how this whole conversation was tipped off. do you have any sense that if the rob porter domestic abuse allegations hadn't come to light that the white house ever would have done anything about people working on interim clearances? >> well, you know, it's hard to imagine. i mean, there was this -- we now understand that john kelly, chief of staff, did in november, you know, order a halt to new, you know, interim clearances at that point. there clearly was a concern in november broadly that the policy wasn't being very well handled there, but it took all the way until now, until february, to put out this new memo and the new memo outlines a policy which i have to say you would know
better, has to be close to one that was in previous white houses. it's hard to imagine how we had to reinvent the wheel here. this is not the first administration to come in with security clearances that needed to be taken care of, yet it feels like they hadn't really focused on it until the newspapers began showing pictures of rob porter's wife with a black eye. >> last word. >> so i actually think their problems are much different than most people's have had. what i would say about it, don mcgahn was told by a woman who had been rob porter's girlfriend that he was abusive and he did nothing with it and that was a couple months ago. so i just think this is willful, you know, covering up. they wanted to protect him. it's not a flaw in the process as much as it is a flaw in the leadership. >> human error and not at the fbi, folks. peter baker, thank you so much for being with us for so much of the show. we appreciate it. breaking news out of florida, a live report coming up on that measure to ban assault weapons. gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea
as more than 100 students from marjory stoneman douglas high school make their way to florida's state capital as we speak, here is what they are walking into. state legislatures declined to even hear a bill having to do with an assault rifle ban. tammy leitner is on the road with those students. any reaction from the students on the bus to the state legislature essentially refusing to hear the bill? >> reporter: of course there is reaction. these students are making their way 400 plus miles to go and lobby state lawmakers to tighten gun bills here. and word is slowly trickling around the bus. i'm here with daniel. daniel, what is your reaction to this, the fact they won't even hear this? >> i'm just upset. i mean, we're coming -- drive like eight hours to see these state length lay tors ae ledge
gives me more drive. i'm morlt filt mortified. that is a big screw you. they know hundreds of kids are coming up to the state capital which by the way is extremely far from us. just to talk to them. and they are just not even are considering the bill to stop things like this. never again hashtag has been going around and it's like they don't even care that we don't want this to happen again. why should anyone else have to live through this? i don't understand. >> let's me ask your sister, julia, any thoughts of turning around at this point, is this discouraging enough? >> no. as daniel said, if anything it gives us more drive to push forward and go and talk to them face-to-face. they can't back down. they wouldn't be able to just block us or ignore us. we'll go right to their face and say this is not what we have want, it is not a preference, but it is rather a need to feel
safe every day in our schools and not feel like our lives are in danger. if anything, they should be willing to compromise with us. we don't have to go all the way and go in one full step. we can take smaller steps. and if they are unwilling and they tell me they don't want to compromise, then i will be voting them out in the election. >> nicolle, the one thing about these students, they are looking at this not as a setback, but they are looking at this as fuel to their fire. and they will keep plugging away. >> and you need to tell them that it is because of them and because of that bus that the whole country now knows what the florida legislature did. 65% republican controlled and if it wasn't for daniel and his sister, the whole country would not be hearing right now that? the tallahassee statehouse, they have just voted down a motion to even here debate on the banning of assault weapons. so they are already making a difference. they just did today.
>> reporter: you're right about that. >> thank you, tammy. thank them. it is heartbreaking on one level, but on the other, i mean we're talking about this because they are sitting on that bus. and the in-tract ability of the gun debate as a new audience. and they are not cynical and resigned the waythe gun debate as a new audience. and they are not cynical and resigned the way some people are. i think the fact that a vote that i'm sure those people the men and women in tallahassee, i'm sure they had no idea this would be a national story. i'm sure that is a vote they have taken a dozen times. but they have new constituents and they have new people watching them. i think these students can bring new scrutiny to people doing the nra's bidding. >> i think that what they are doing is incredible and i have great faith that it will have a real impact. since the shooting last week, they have instragram accounts, they have twitter handles, they are marching. and i think that -- you have to wonder like what were they talking about in the cloak room
of that -- down in florida to decide that knowing these kids were on their way, that they would be like we're not even going to talk about it. it really -- you have to wonder how far ofafield they have gone. >> cynical interpretation would be that they knew the kids were coming and that is why they voted that way because they didn't want a debate unfolding with the kids in the gallery. this which is not to excuse it. >> no, but i see these photographs of young people lying on the ground, and instantly what comes to mind to me is the fight for treatment for hiv and aids in the 1980s. people forget that that was actually one of the most powerful social activist movements in our country's history. and they were able to change the world so fast by using their bodies to lie down and say we will not die. we will not die in silence. >> and i think also the amazing thing here, these are fresh voices. they are uncorrupted voices. they are speaking from the heart from a horrible thing they had
to experience and we're seeing the kind of ugliest part of twitter, social media, conspiracy world trying to get at them. there is something i'm not going to repeat the name of the publication, it doesn't deserve it, but they have tried to slam one of them, a father in the fbi part of the anti-trump conspiracy, give me a break. >> and your paper has a front stage story about russian bots and trolls already attacking these kids. and i want to say one last thing about these kids. they're a lot savvier than we were. when i started out on campaigns, i never had the presence of mind to say i'll take a compromise. they have almost flipped the script. they are the new adults and they are coming for you, tallahassee. we have to sneak in a break.
so that's the idea. what do you think? i don't like it. oh. nuh uh. yeah. ahhhhh. mm-mm. oh. yeah. ah. agh. d-d-d... no. hmmm. uh... huh. yeah. uh... huh. in business, there are a lot of ways to say no. thank you so much. thank you. so we're doing it. yes. start saying yes to your company's best ideas. we help all types of businesses with money, tools and know-how to get business done. american express open.
and facebook, bringing us back to the 13 indictments essentially a tool of russia propaganda. >> and it continues. this russian operation continues to iterate. >> what does facebook say? >> i think they say they are trying to do some things, but i find it very defensive. >> all right. we'll keep this going. my thanks to you all. that does it for our hour. "mtp daily" starts right now. hi, chuck. >> if it is tuesday, russia can't meddal in these olympics, but they can meddle in our election. >> the president has been extremely tough 00 ruon russia. he has been tougher on russia in the first year than obama was eight years combined. >> how about the u.s. punish russia for election meddling? plus why a new congressional map in the keystone state could open the door to a democratic comeback on capit