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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  March 1, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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week is getting worse by the hour with jaw-dropping headline after jaw-dropping headline. according to axios today, after a crazy 24 hours, sources close to president trump say he's in a bad place. mad as hell about the internal chaos in the sense that things are unraveling. hope hicks leaving is obviously a huge blow to him. every time he reads about attorney general sessions his head explodes. the people he genuinely enjoys and feels close to are gone. keeps shiller, leaving, hope or getting pound the in the press. jared. and about that pounding, more brutal headlines for kushner. "the new york times" reporting, quote, kushner's family business received loans at the white house meetings. this blurring of lines is now a potential liability for there kushner who recently lost his top secret security clearance amid worries from some u.s. officials that foreign governments might try to gain influence with the white house by doing business with mr. kushner. the bigger problem for kushner
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may be the fact that mueller's investigators are asking questions about mr. kushner's interactions with potential investors from overseas. kushner's internal foe chief of staff john kelly displayed some humor today in the homeland security department. >> i would just open by saying i have almost no right to be up here on this stage. i was in the department -- >> you have every right. >> i missed every one of you every day. i went -- [ laughter ] [ applause ] >> truly, six months, the last thing i wanted to do was walk away from one of the great honors of my life, being secretary of homeland security. but i did something wrong and god punished me, i guess. [ laughter ] >> you're not alone. all this as the white house may be getting ready to say good-bye to one of its other generals, multiple sources familiar with the matter confirmed nbc news
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that general mcmaster may be departing his role as national security advisor as early as the end of this month. one of the leading candidates being discussed as a possible replacement for mcmaster is steve biegun, national security council staff under condee rice who coincidentally joins us later this hour. let's get to all of this. from the washington post phil ruck ir. at the table, jeremy bash, chief of staff at both the cia and pentagon now an msnbc national security analyst. john heilman, nbc news and msnbc national affairs analyst. sam stein, politics editor for the daily beast and msnbc contributor. it's the first time you've been here. >> what a pleasure. >> where are you been? i have missed you. an open invite. so glad you're here. one of my favorites, princeton university professor also an msnbc contributor. neil, i wanted to start with all the chaos. i saw you nodding that steve
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biegun would be the third advisor to the president. general mcmaster may be moving on to a different role as early as the end of march. >> general mcmaster may be too substantive for his boss. >> what a way to put it. >> he comes at this, general mcmaster, three stars on his shoulder, army lieutenant general, books he's authored, a studious approach to national security. i think he's done a good job. in the national security council in the wake of mike flynn. for some reason he has not clicked with the commander in chief. the president doesn't countenance his overly substantive approach to foreign policy, nicolle. >> let's take some elegance off the answer. the president doesn't like him. >> never has. >> and the president has put him in some pretty unseemly positions. the first big flash point was when the president had sergei lavrov and kislyak in the oval office and he said, you know,
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the pressure is off me now that i got rid of comey. and it was reported out of that meeting that he had revealed some sensitive classified information from another country's intelligence service. >> right. >> that was the first time that mcmaster really -- he took to the white house driveway. he defended his boss and that was the first time that long-time military reporters, folks like tom ricks and others felt like mcmaster had crossed an ethical line. >> it was actually also the first instance of something we've seen among a lot of people. there is a whole group of people the adults we put a lot of faith in when trump came in. you looked at tillerson, you looked at kelly, mcmaster, those are generals mostly, but some big ceos. these guys are there to be the adults in the room. and one by one they have all compromised themselves in various ways. mcmaster was really the first instance of that. he was someone everyone looked at. not just military reporters. i think a lot of people. it was not the only time he's done it but on a variety of occasions he had to go out, his
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boss put him in an uncomfortable position. rather than staying quiet or let alone pushing back on trump, he has capitulated, has backed up trump in ways that -- for people who are members of the washington establishment, people who are familiar with a lot of these people, for years and years, were disappointed and countered what happened. i think maybe mattis is the only one left who has not besmirched i am himself in the last year. >> if we could book end the mcmaster era, sometimes donald trump sees stories in the news and changes his mind. >> no. >> you know, this is our understanding. but let me put this to you. i mean, this may have started there at least publicly. but as recently as the weekend before last, mcmaster and the president showed some daylight on the question of russian meddling in the 2016 election. mcmaster was in munich.
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he said it's beyond dispute that russia meddled. and the president didn't like that. rapidly responded to his own national security advisor. >> the day after the mueller indictments come out, the russian indictments came out that saturday, i believe. >> right. i think his word was incontrovertible. beyond debate. donald trump didn't like that. tweeted back at him, you know -- >> well, there's two things here. one is that trump is very much on an island when it comes to the question of russian meddling. virtually everyone at this point has conceded that in some form except for the president. although he will occasionally give credence they may have meddled. he'll say it's a 400 pound kid in his mother's basement. who knows. the second question i want to tie in to what happened with jeff sessions, too, which is that this president is either alienating deliberately or not his key advisors, including people who have been loyal to him or who have besmirched themselves for him.
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and it points to what is a truly existential staffing problem that this administration will have. i mean, they have a bad one now. it is going to get infinitely worse once you lose the people who are loyalist like jeff sessions, hope hicks. when you're on your third chief of staff and so on and so forth. so, i think people think of this current moment of the white house as chaotic, and we don't think it could get even more so. but i think you will have more disorder when we get to the next round of hires because they are not loyalists. they are also not the top professional that you can recruit. >> it makes it all the more stunning, this news that mcmaster may be on his way out by the end of the month, that john kelly won this round against jared. this was a very public, a very tense chapter for the white house. it began with the publication of the photos of rob porter's former wives who alleged that he abused them. there was a very, very strident brazen effort by jared and
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ivanka's allies outside the white house to lay all of this at the feet of john kelly. that john kelly survived this, and by the end of this chapter jared kushner ended up being the one stripped of his clearances. puts john kelly in a perhaps temporarily so, but puts him in a newly fortified spot right now in that west wing. >> all the while we have north korea, we have russia, we have all of these world problems. we have serious domestic issues. we know -- robinson used this phrase on morning joe. he talked about what we have is chaos and corruption. self-evident and cascading corruption. this is just an example of the chaos of this white house. and for everyday ordinary citizens it has to kind of generate deep anxiety about what's happening in termds of just the nature of governance, right? so, it seems to me that to have mcmaster on his way out, to see
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the kind of -- to see michael wolff, the book playing itself out in real time as jared and ivanka go down and the like -- >> i don't think people quite comprehend how little capital donald trump has with professional republicans. he wanted to recruit a whole new round of senior advisors to help him out in the foreign policy portfolio, to sort of streamline his trade portfolio. one, he would have to choose from a limited pool because he won't pick someone who has ever been critical of him in the past which makes it limited to begin with. and, two, they look at the stuff and see the chaos, too, and they don't want to be part of this. >> let me bring phil rucker in on this. phil rucker, your paper has among the best bodies of reporting on the personnel challenges in this white house. and just personally, half a dozen people in the last 20 months -- since the election have reached out to me when various people have said, come in, come meet him, come talk about being the communications
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director. when they asked my advice, and i've given it privately, i'm happy to reveal this on tv, i said run. a man who bumz president -- here's why. if you become the leader of the free world without someone with a title of communications director, you can never be convinced someone with a title of communications director can do a better job than you. but speak to, one, if you've heard -- if you have any sources sort of with the same things that nbc news is reporting about mcmaster looking for the exits by the end of march, and just this backdrop of not just chaos, but the way axios put it, an unraveling. >> yeah, well, certainly there is a broader unraveling with the mcmaster specifically there have been indications over the last several months that the tensions between him and the president have become worse, and a feeling that his days are numbered to some extent. i don't know that it means he's going to be leaving tomorrow or even next week, but he's not going to be around for the long haul.
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i think he's considering his options. i think there is a desire inside the white house to place him somewhere sort of give him a nice landing spot somewhere and have a smooth transition here. but the tension with mcmaster is not only with the president, but also general mattis and secretary tillerson and other officials. they don't always see eye to eye with mcmaster and that's been a subject of some discord inside the administration as they look at these issues. and that discord, as you know, nicolle, is throughout the administration, throughout the white house. there is so much chaos. the dormant rifle rivalries hav alive. there is so much back stabbing. i talk to and you talk to and other reporters talk to they're trying to knife one another. i don't know how they get work done on behalf of the american people >> it is unbelievable how much time they spend talking about each other to people like us. but, jeremy bash, i haven't seen you since this story broke. this week for kushner seems like somebody trying to finish him off. the washington post reported
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that kushner's overseas contacts raise concerns that foreign officials seek leverage. the piece listed how officials from mexico, the uae, israel and china all had interactions with him that i guess rose to the level of pretty serious concern among u.s. officials, that he was made vulnerable because of his naivete and/or his eagerness to mix business with governing. >> you had some people coming into the administration with the president, nicolle, who were unprepared, they couldn't get the credentials. they couldn't get the clearances. they should not be in that job. it's one of the reasons why in our country we have not had nepotism as a standard policy. other countries have chosen it, by the way. it doesn't work because you don't have the best person positioned for the job. the fact that other countries are trying to manipulate and work u.s. officials, i kind of think that's standard course.
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this administration has had a for sale sign outside the white house that made it a little more inviting, if you will. however, i think the bigger issue in that story and this ties back to mcmaster issue, mcmaster had to receive intelligence reports about jared kushner's unilateral foreign policy. and how do you have an intelligence committee reporting on one individual to the national security advisor and the national security advisor has to call him and say, excuse me, we're conducting foreign policy in an integrated way here, what are you doing? >> i'll say a couple things about this. one is murder, political murder is an opportunistic business in a lot of cases. you're looking for the opportunity to take out a rival. because kushner got in the trouble because the porter thing led to the question of security clearances. now he's vulnerable. think of all the people in the white house who don't like jared kushner. think about anybody who is a rival power center, then think of all the people out of the administration now who hate jared kushner, who were around for that first year. i don't know, say steve bannon who saw a lot of stuff over the course of the year, little less than a year that he was there.
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all of those people who have some reason to want jared kushner -- they're waiting for the moment. this was the moment. this is the moment where if you're going to strike at the prince, as it were, rather than the king, this is where he's -- >> we should just say it, that's what they call him. >> yes, and he is vulnerable and he's buckling. i'll say one last thing quickly. we can talk about this more. the other problem is not just nepotism as jeremy puts out. his father and he run a business that has a lot of problems with it right now. there's a building in this city called 666 fifth avenue. that has a billion-two debt note that comes due in january 2019. when jared kushner came into government, people in government are rich, they have business interests, they wall them off, they have blind trusts. they don't walk in the door to top secret security clearance, jobs you're supposed to have it those for, conducting foreign policy, having these kind of meetings when they have a billion-two short term debt note hanging over the family business.
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>> let me go back to you. that in and of itself be reason why the fbi deemed him as potentially susceptible to blackmail? that is the feert ill you're trying to pass when you pass an fbi background test, making dee significants about your character, whatever his title is you would be. they're trying to decide if you're vulnerable enough to be a target for blackmail. that seems like -- >> or for if not blackmail, for using leverage to pay to play. whatever the thing is. >> yes. but for the son-in-law of the president, for the fbi to deny a permanent clearance, the bar is very high. it means there is something much deeper, something much more serious that they have on him, not merely that his former business has a $1.2 billion debt note. >> i'm not saying this is funny because it's not. it's really serious. jared kushner was handed responsibilities that are immensely serious. and not just a few responsibilities, many responsibilities. the opioid crisis, dealings with mexico, reorganizing the government, solving middle east.
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>> that is a funny laugh. >> it's a crazy list for one person. this person has a huge ethics cloud hanging over him, he is constantly back fighting with other officials, he has to deal with refining his personal financial disclosure forms because he keeps screwing it up. investigators are knocking on his door. i think, you know, we look at it and we like the drama and it's very intriguing, but serious stuff was handed to this guy and he can't do it because, in part, he's so busy with the very ethically dubious stuffer. >> phil rucker, let me bring you back in on perhaps the most serious existential threat facing jared kushner. from news accounts bob mueller has about his businesses and about his conversations and contacts with foreign governments, where do those intersect and how high is that on the list of worries for kushner's remaining allies in the white house? >> it's the huge concern, nicolle. we should keep in mind that we know very little about what bob
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mueller actually has in front of him at his table. we get news reports here and there. we sort of try to figure things out as best we can. but we have so little visibility into that operation, and there very well may be things, information leads, investigatory conclusions that the mueller team has drawn about jared kushner that we can't foresee at this moment. but the foreign intercepts that the washington post reported on the other day is top of mind as something that concerns a lot of people inside the administration that we've been talking to, and it's affected frankly the way kushner is viewed around the world. he was seen early on in the presidency as the key conduit, the vessel, the artery to get to the president of the united states for foreign leaders. and he's now become more of a diminished figure. >> just to be clear, one thing jeremy said just to clarify, i was not suggesting that the debt that the kushner family has was reason for him not to get his security clearance. i'm sure there is a reason much more serious that he hasn't gotten the clearance.
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my point is when he came into the government with that kind of burden on him, you are then going to give him ostensibly a high-level security clearance and portfolio where you're going to be out there meeting with all of the countries, all of the officials that from the countries that would be you would normally turn to to help you out of that debt hole. it's a situation that is prime for the kinds of things people now suspect might have gone wrong. >> and the burden isn't on those foreign leaders to not say, how are you doing, how is your family or anything. the burden is on jared kushner as the u.s. government official to say, no, no, i can't have that conversation. and i think the most alarming thing about the story phil rucker talks about about the intercept, the whole reason you have no one-on-one conversations with foreign government ands foreign leaders is the amount of contacts they have with no stenographer, no one that runs the middle east desk. the fact that they had so many contacts, one on one sort of outside. the chain of command, jared had plenty of seniority.
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outside of any of the structures that protect you from these things, he might not be in this system if he hadn't set up so many one on one direct -- i want to put up a list, though. sam stein talked about what wasn't funny. i want to show you what is. here's all the stuff that has happened in february. it's a running tally of scandals. do we have that? okay, here you go. these are p.r. crises in february alone. we can't read them all. we'd be on until 7:45. but you take a look at that while i ask eddy, what the process is for this white house to ever achieve what this television president wants to achieve, which is producing the news of the day of his desire outside of his favorite news network, cable channel -- >> i have no idea. i don't think it's possible. you know, i'm sitting here thinking, i'm thinking at the pace of the news cycle, right, just 2 1/2 weeks ago we were talking about, you know,
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assistant attorney rod rosenstein calling the white house saying, we cannot do anything with kushner because we have more information that's come in. and now we have this and we've had that and now -- it's the theater of the absurd. i say that with my tongue in cheek, but i say that to say that it belies any political logic. so, the idea of thinking this is going -- he's going to right the ship, that somehow this is going to get better seems to me just pipe dream. >> go ahead. >> three weeks ago the trump white house thought they had mueller on the ropes. they thought they had it with allies on the hill with devin nunes. since that happened, we've had plea deals from gates, the sk d skadden arps lawyer. >> how do you remember what happened? >> go ahead, last word.
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>> one last thing for jared kushner, his lawyers came out today and said jared kushner has not discussed business in any of these meetings that he's taken part in. they've stated it on the record. i will just say, again, keep that building in mind. 666 fifth avenue. someone close to that situation, very close to the family said to me the other night that there may be multiple legal investigations going on around kushner and his father and that building, and then he said this person said to me, he said it's the towering inferno. he's going to burn the entire family down to the ground before this is all over. >> oh, god. at this hour, he's still on the president's senior staff. when we come back it's throw back thursday so we're bringing back mr. ma goo. it's a nickname donald trump has been using for months to describe his sitting attorney general. why is it suddenly out in the press today? also ahead, bob mueller investigating donald trump's effort to oust sessions of the summer for recusing himself from the russia probe. could this president have invited more legal scrutiny for himself? and as we mentioned at the
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top of the show, former secretary of state condee rice joins the table. stay with us.
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and your eyes still feel dry. next question. guys, it's time for some eyelove! you know what's not awesome? gig-speed internet. when only certain people can get it. let's fix that. let's give this guy gig- really? and these kids, and these guys, him, ah. oh hello. that lady, these houses! yes, yes and yes. and don't forget about them. uh huh, sure. still yes!
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xfinity delivers gig speed to more homes than anyone. now you can get it, too. welcome to the party. a magoo specialty. hey, 1, 2, 3. what's the meaning of this? if you want to cut in, a little tap on the shoulder is enough. >> washington post reports today president trump has told associates that he has hired the best lawyers for his entire life but is stuck with sessions now who is not defending him and not
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sufficiently loyal hence the name mr. magoo, the cartoon character. he has humiliated sessions on twitter, remarks and interviews. last night sessions at dinner at a restaurant. a source close to sessions said it was not intended to be a show of solidarity against the president, but those three men makeup the line of succession when it comes to who is in charge of a mueller investigation. and speaking of bob mueller, today the post is reporting that mueller -- the mueller investigation examining trump's apparent efforts to oust sessions in july. in recent months mueller's team has questioned witnesses in detail about trump's private comments and state of mind. in late july and early august of last year around the time he issued a series of tweets belittling his beleaguered attorney general. these people said the thrust of the questions was to determine whether the president's goal was to oust sessions in order to
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pick a replacement who would exercise control over the investigation into possible coordination between russia and trump associates during the 2016 election, these people said. phil rucker is here, the panel is here. even i know that's true. mueller could literally close his eyes and throw a dart at a list of 100 people around the president. he accused sessions for failing to protect him. he wanted his guys and the fbi to run the russia probe. is this just sort of dotting the i's and crossing the t's on mueller's part? >> i mean, yeah, nicolle, but this whole thing is extraordinary because sessions was trump's guy. he was trump's guy on the campaign trail. he was trump's guy when trump a pointed him, nominated him to be the attorney general. and simply because he followed the law and recused himself from the russia matter because of his own personal conflict of interest, he's no longer trump's
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guy and the president is just treating him like a punching bag which is truly extraordinary. >> so, there are two lines i want to ask you about. it sounds like state of mind is more than just a turn of phrase in that article. what is the importance of understanding donald trump's state of mind when it came to his desire to fire sessions? >> well, if he had a corrupt state of mind, if he was doing it basically to protect himself from an investigation, that does go to the obstruction of justice issue. but more broadly, nicolle, this is an epigraph of our constitutional democracy. the president of the united states is twitter shaming, cyber bullying his attorney general because the attorney general refused to engage in unethical conduct to protect the president. we are on new ground. presidents and cabinet secretaries, you're going to talk to one later in the show, they've had policy disputes. have we ever seen a president ask a cabinet secretary to engage in unethical conduct and then rebuke them publicly when they have refused? >> and what is so amazing about this, it's ongoing.
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saturday night on a fox news interview he attacked jeff sessions. he tweets at once every 15 days by our stats. the attacks on jeff sessions are ongoing. they're brutal. it never stops enraging him sessions recused himself. reince priebus tells a pretty dramatic story about sessions resigning and reince, when he was still chief of staff, convincing him not to leave because he thought it would invite another sort of comey 2.0 crisis for the president. >> jeremy forgets the same twitter tirade that thomas jefferson threw at john adams back in the day. calling him delusional, exclamation point. this is nuts. this is totally nuts and it's uncharted ground and, you know, you wonder how much jeff sessions will actually take. i did find this whole dinner out thing to be very peculiar. they claim this was a prearranged dinner long ago. grub hub and uber eats. they could have ordered in.
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it seems clear jeff sessions actually, to some degree, feels he has to stiffen his back a little here. he needs to stand ground. and i do wonder, you know, whether trump is actually -- trump's tactics in this case, are actually backfiring. jeff sessions doesn't feel any loyalty to the man who publicly shames him over twitter. i'm going to protect the mueller probe because you've been a real jerk to me online. >> the other weird thing about it is you have people like elizabeth warren who i cannot imagine agree with jeff sessions on anything defending him. he's also making -- wait. when we started, if you're going to try to commit a political homicide, shoot to kill because if they survive, they're stronger than you are. >> trump understands one thing. he didn't understand much about politics or about how things work in washington. but he gets the fact that as a cabinet secretary you can fire any of them at the drop of a hat. i've heard people he can fire sessions whenever he wants to. he can. he can fire sessions.
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finding a replacement when the united states senate is where it is, institutionally he is a member of the club and the united states senate would be -- would rally around jeff sessions. he obviously would be out of office, but it would be very hard for trump to get another attorney general confirmed when from the far-right to the far left are on jeff sessions' side. trump gets that. what he's trying to do, what he thought when he started down this path was badger, bully sessions enough that sessions would finally throw up his hands and quit. and that was not a crazy idea until sessions at some point just -- he did the opposite. he dug his heels in and now it's basically, i'm not going for any reason. there's nothing you can say that's going to get jeff sessions out of that chair. >> in addition to him being a member of the club, jeff sessions is also really, really an important figure to donald trump's base. >> right. >> so he just can't toss him out. >> you're right, it's a big cross pressure on him. >> he's been at the front line in terms of his immigration policy, in terms of undoing all of the consent decrees with police departments.
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so, in some ways sessions -- exactly, he's the proxy for mueller. since he calls sessions mr. magoo, in some ways sessions should call trump baltimore, right? >> you have the last word on that. we just ended in the magoo territory, phil. >> it's just amazing that he's watching mr. magoo and talking about a cabinet secretary that way. this is a pretty old cartoon, too. so, it's an outdated cultural reference. but it's really demeaning for the attorney general and, you know, we'll see how this continues to devolve. but it's a circus. it's interesting. >> and devolve itself. phil rucker, thank you for joining us. when we come back, the former secretary of state, the woman known world over for her national security expertise especially as it pertains to russia, her love of sports and her personal story growing up in the racially segregated south. she joins us next. whoooo.
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hope is a nicer person than i am. i will tell you that i think in terms of leadership, he's getting an a. >> he's running this country. at least he's a leader unlike what we have in this country. >> i said he was a strong leader, which he is. i mean, he might be bad, he might be good, but he's a strong leader. >> and there is no collusion. >> there is no collusion. >> there is no collusion. >> no collusion. >> i believe that president putin really feels -- and he feels strongly that he did not meddle in our election. >> it's entirely possible that russia's president has felt emboldened by our president's many, many, many kind words. putin unveiling a nuclear missile he says renders defenses useless. putin accused the west of ignoring russia. nobody listened to us, he said, adding listen to us now. joining us at the table is former secretary of state and former national security advisor condaleeza rice, professor at
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stanford university. >> pleasure to see you. >> the case on all that putin love. >> i don't know, putin is a strong leader. well, yes, if you like dictators and authoritarians. and he is a strong leader in the sense that actually fairly popular in parts of the country. so, i can't really comment on what the president exactly meant. but as the president of the united states, your responsibility is to recognize what russia means to this country, and russia means a couple of things to us. the first is that it is an adversary. it is doing awful things around the world, annexing crimea, threatening our lives and our neighbors. it is a country that is basically a 19th century extractive oil industry economy that really doesn't contribute to the international system in any major way. and then the little threat about nuclear weapons is really interesting because, boy, if ever there were an empty threat, that was it. americans should know that no one has ever believed that
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missile defenses were going to knock down russia's considerable arsenal. the kinds of missiles we are deploying in eastern europe and around the united states are to deal with onesies and twossies like iran and north korea. so, to announce greatly somehow now can he penetrate our missile defenses is just hubris and overstatement. >> general hayden, who is our colleague during the bush years, he was at nsa and he was at the cia. >> right. >> and bob mueller was also our colleague, the fbi director. >> yes, right. >> and you sat in the briefings in the morning where donald trump is briefed on the post 9/11 threats. can you just talk about bob mueller's role as one of the architects of counter terrorism policy and how stunning it is to see him attacked night after night on primetime news? >> bob mueller came into the fbi job shortly after 9/11 happened. and he completely transformed
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the fbi from an organization that was really kind of law enforcement organization to one that really was a counterterrorism organization. he did a really fine job. he's also one of the most honorable people i know. he's a fair minded person. and he will take this wherever it leads. i just wish that we could let him do his job, and i mean that. not just about statements out of the white house. i mean that also out of the congress on both sides. i keep hearing dueling memos and so forth from the intelligence committees and my hope is that what the intelligence committee will do is spend its time trying to figure out exactly how the russians did what they did and how to keep them from doing it again because if you -- if they do it once shame on them. if they do it twice, shame on us. >> what do you think when you see people -- you must know chris wray. he was in d.o.j., during the bush years. >> right. >> emma rogers who testified on capitol hill in the last couple
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of weeks. body language said it all if they were asked if donald trump asked them to do anything to protect america from russia meddling in 2018 or 2020. as you say. the answer is no, not one thing. emma rogers was pretty careful to say that he used the authority that he has, but he's not been granted any extra authority. he runs cyber command. does that worry you? >> well, we should be doing everything that we can because the russians meddling in our elections -- first of all, let me say with vladimir putin this was an eye for an eye. he's an eye for an eye kind of person, and hillary clinton criticized his election. now he wants to show that he can sow chaos in ours. it is obviously a serious thing to have somebody meddle in american elections. i think that we have institutions, not just in the executive branch, but the congress can call attention to these issues. local and state officials have their role to play, too. and i understand a lot is going on at the state and local level and actually, frankly, our elections are so decentralized,
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so run from the bottom up that that's really where we need to work. and i live in silicon valley. there's also a kind of reckoning among the social media giants about the role that russia might have played there. >> of course. >> so, i think a lot is going on around this issue. we just need to make sure it is full-out effort. >> why can't the president say that? >> well, the president obviously is in a kind of unusual situation here. >> what do you think is unusual about it? >> i think that there may be a sense that when somebody says the russians meddled in the election, it's calling into question the legitimacy of his presidency. >> the size of his -- >> well, even the fact of his win. and i didn't like the way this all started out. we don't know that vladimir putin wanted to elect donald trump. i think i know that he wanted to hurt hillary clinton. so, let's just leave aside vladimir putin's motives because unless you know specifically
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what his motives are -- let' not speculate. let's just say they did it. we are going to punish it, and we're not going to let it happen again. >> h.r. mcmaster has the job that you had. we are hearing that he may be gone by the end of the month. are you hearing anything on that front? and would steve make a suitable replacement? >> h.r. mcmaster is one of the best generals of his generation. he is doing a fine job. i have no idea about his future in that job. i hope he stays. he's really good. steve biegun worked for me. he's an outstanding person. he is an expert in foreign policy and, of course, spent time in the private sector. obviously he'd be very good. let's wait and see. h.r. mcmaster is in the job and he's doing a fine job. >> when communications people from the bush era call me and ask if they should go interviews in the coms department, i advise them not to. if steve called and asked if he should go, would you advise him to take the job? >> i think people need to serve.
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it's a little bit different in communications than the political -- national security is a different kettle of fish. national security, you're trying to protect the country. i think you can do it largely without reference to some of the more political elements that are going on. and i do hope good people will serve. i think right now this is a really good national security team. i think rex tillerson is doing a very good job, and right now what rex tillerson is doing is he's keeping his head down. he's doing the diplomacy and that's what he needs to do. of course, the pentagon is extremely well served by mattis. >> but you don't have the sources stories about the pentagon do about the state department being demoralized, being stripped of so many lifelong diplomats. i think a career diplomat of south korea. you must know some of those people, the brain drain -- >> well, i do think that defense is a little bit different. first of all, there is a lot of support for a stronger defense budget. the president came in on that platform and so the pentagon is
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in a different situation. but as general mattis has said, for every diplomat you don't have, you need another bullet. so, you need a strong state department as well. i think that we may be overstating to a certain extent some of the turmoil in the state department. people leave. >> right. >> and at the upper end, senior people leave. now, my concern is are we bringing in younger people. i've heard that people are not taking the foreign service exam in as great numbers. some say that's because the economy is really good and people take fewer of those exams when the economy is good. we need to keep refreshing the pool of foreign service officers. and sometimes it's not so easy to get presidents to see what diplomats do. >> right. >> what diplomats do is behind the scenes. it's hard. it's slow. it doesn't always produce immediate results. and so sometimes it's a little harder to make the case for the state department than it is for the defense department. and that's true, whoever is in
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the white house, and whoever is in congress. >> our boss spent eight years of the obama presidency painting, hanging out with you, hanging out with his family. he didn't speak out very much. in his first eight months of the trump presidency, gave a speech that was largely viewed it wasn't his intention, but drawing a lot of attention to what he described as bigotry has been emboldened. do you worry about -- do you agree with george w. bush that bigotry has been emboldened? >> i do think we are going through a period of time where we are labeling each other and calling each other names -- >> is the president doing that? >> nicolle, i will tell you this started a long time before this president. >> do you think the president is making it worse calling out both sides of the rally -- >> i was one who said when he was running for office i would prefer somebody whose first job wasn't president in government. but i think we have to look at this broadly. we as a country have become a country of grievant.
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we as a country have become a country that my grievance is superior to your grievance. and that's not in the last year. that's over the last several years. so, everybody needs to look in the mirror and say, why are divisions so deep and what part am i playing in making those divisions deep? obviously with the situation in charlottesville, that was unconscionable. good people don't actually carry torches at night in a very bad reminiscence in a time in our country which actually is as a child i experienced. we need to focus on these broader trends that are tearing us apart, not just what the president says on any given day. >> why do you think, then, 57% of respondents in an a.p. poll think the president is a racist? >> well, because i think you hear this in the press over and over and over again. >> just the press -- >> i will tell you something. i have met the president. i can't know his heart, but i do know this is somebody who
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treated me very well when we met. i think he believes he's doing what's right for the country. but i do think that some of the language that he uses is language that i would rather not see reemerge in our country. well, i don't particularly like calling any nation -- not just african countries. it's not befitting the president of the united states to say that. >> your new project is going to go a long way toward solving some of these problems we're talking about. >> i hope so. >> i think we have a clip. >> we're not civil to one another any more. our political system is so polarized. >> because we trust one another. >> in times like this, we need stories that remind us of the ideals that hold us together. we aspire to be a country where immigrants can find opportunity. >> you have to understand what the common enterprise is. you have to understand what the
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common aspiration is. and i think we've lost sight of it. >> how do we get it back? >> we get it back by each and every one of us taking responsibility to get it back. you know, america, we are not united by ethnicity, blood, nationality, religion. we are united by an aspiration. you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. what this film is doing is kind of call to action that every american say, what can i do to make sure that that dream, that possibility is there for everybody? whether it's volunteering with your local boys and girls club, or making sure that you get people out to vote. if you don't own your democracy, if you are not active in your democracy, then democracy is not going to succeed. and right now we're too busy yelling at each other to talk to one another. >> do you worry about our democracy? >> i worry that we are not as committed to some of the values
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and some of the principles that have made us great. but i'll tell you something, i have great faith in americans and i have great faith in our institutions. the founding fathers, any one of them, was kind of a problem. i heard somebody referring to john adams and -- they were really rough on each other. unbelievable. and thomas jefferson saying george washington was senile. all kinds of horrible things are coming up. so, any one of them alone were a problem. but they gave us a system that is enduring. they gave us separation of powers so we don't have to worry about too much executive authority. they gave us federalism so governors can governor their states and be close to their own people. and they gave us, most importantly, that area where government should not enter civil society, where each and every one of us gets to practice democracy. >> they're yelling at me. i have to ask you one question. i watched this, i was so moved. you tied together freedom of
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religion, you tied together the role of the military. reminded me of some of the best moments of president obama's presidency, of president bush's presidency. it sounds a little bit like the idea might launch their own political effort. are you thinking about running for office. >> i've told you privately and publicly because we're friends, i don't have that dna. i'm happy teaching the next generation -- millennials are a challenge so i'll keep teaching the leaders of the future. >> i hope you have your eye on the next one. it is an honor to have you. condoleezza rice, and you could stream this. what we're learning about hope hicks departure that might not be sudden as previously thought and why she might be in legal jeopardy. many sleep-aids have pain medicine
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but zzzquil is different because why would you take a pain medicine when all you want is good sleep? zzzquil: a non-habit forming sleep-aid that's not for pain, just for sleep. the massive, massive churn of high ranking, high-profile
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and important people in this administration, people already chewed up and spat out barely one year into the president being in office. we have a bigger wall. >> that made me laugh last night. rachel got a bigger wall. the resignation of hope hicks was another in the staggering number of high-profile departures from this 13-month-old administration. from of the 23 senior staff members who took the oath two days after the trump inauguration, 13 have left or announced exit. hicks said she's done with washington. but washington and robert mueller may not be done with her. "the washington post" out this morning with new details from her nine-hour meeting with house intel, the meeting that took place just one day before she resigned. lawmakers say they refused to tell, quote, whether she had been asked to lie by white house aides and trump's family members, including jared kushner, ivanka trump and donald trump jr. former white house adviser, steve bannon and cory
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lewandowski and paul manafort. the panel is back. jeremy, this seems like a -- a confession that she made. she admitted to the committee she told whie -- white lies on behalf of the president that she could never put back in the tube. >> it is not a good look by saying you potentially violated 18,000 usc 1001 that you lied to federal officials. maybe that is lesser of a sin but she's been talking to the robert mueller investigators and question is what is she covering up and that she knows about president trump's conduct with regard to obstruction of justice and the firing of james comey and that she felt the need to dissemble. >> and mark corallo, from the bush era, who i'm sure folks here now, is reported by the new york times told a story about her basically doing what sounds like things that could be construed as obstructioning justice. >> i have no particular sympathy
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for hope hicks in this situation at all. but i will say two things. the corallo things is ambiguous. >> it is just a press account. we don't know what happened. >> he said she at some point -- he alleged that she said this will never come out. now that could have been her saying we have -- naively saying we have a very tight circle and a lot of stuff doesn't get out. >> within the white house leaks. >> naive and stupid, but not obstruction of justice. it could also be she was indicated she intended to obstruct justice. we don't know what was her intent when she said that. and what she said the other day in front of the committee, i want to see the transcript. because i hate to say this, but -- i've covered politics since 1990 and i've been lied to by people in every party and every administration. democrats and republicans and communicators, press secretaries and communication director, they lie all of the time. they tell white lies and black lies and big blue, red and white
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lies and as reporters we get lived to all of the time but what did she lie about? i don't know the answer. if you lie to federal officials and violate the law, huge problem. but obama officials and bush officials, clinton officials, they're record of lying to the press is voluminous and created a compendium of the last 25 years of american politics. i'm not excusing it but she is not the first one to told white lies on behalf of a president that i recovered. >> i heard the reason she left the hearing room and consulted with lawyers because there was some awareness of what she spent two days she told mueller might have to match with what she told the commit yif. she was trying to pull through consistently and it seems to have raised questions about whether she has testified to robert mueller that she lies for the president. >> and aligning those two bits of testimony is challenging in
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the best of circumstances. but she knows she has the president of the united states, her political mentor breathing down her neck and will find out what she did and hold her to account. and i've been told that he was not very nice to her and fairly nasty to her by the fact she is cooperating with the investigation. that makes it all the tougher for her. >> what do you make of sort of the idea that seize about to install, assuming he replaces her, which we should not assume, his fifth communications director are reporting holds up, the third national security adviser, that is the plan, but the turnover -- i asked condi rice about brain drain at the state department. but the turnover at the white house seems completely unsustainable. >> it is two things. secretary rice said something very important. she would prefer that this wasn't a president -- this wasn't his first job in government. so this is a sense that he's in over his head. the second thing is what we see is that trump's entity, his
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empire, he is a mom and pop operation and he is running the government like a mom and pop operation and so we're seeing its effects. and then with regard to the communication piece, remember this is a guy who thinks he is responsible solely for his election to the presidency. nobody can run that communications -- >> it is seeing the real world impacts of this. for instance today we have an announcement from the president sort of impromptu out of nowhere that we're going to be imposing fairly large tariffs on steel and aluminum in the coming week. now if you peel it back a little bit, what ended up happening is there was a massive disagreement in the administration for a while but that someone in the administration who is a point person was buttoning it up and the person who that was was rob porter and he was exiled from the administration room after he was abusive to his wives. ee gone a-- he's gone and the p is unglued. so when you have staff shortages
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they do translate into real world. >> you have to come back every day. any day. all welcome. my thanks to jeremy vas, john hineman and i'm nicolle wallace, "mtp daily" starts now with breaking news. hi, chuck. >> well you had yours at 4:00 and different ones each hour. that is how fast everything is moving. good grief. love the condi conversation. now about fixing college sports -- never mind. >> i did get to it. >> i know. tell her i'll do the second half of it. any way, if it is thursday, it's march madness trump style. ♪ ♪ good evening. i'm chuck todd here in washington. welcome to "mtp daily." we begin the show tonight with some more breaking news. this is the special counsel robert mueller investigation involving russian meddling. nbc news


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