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tv   MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi  MSNBC  July 25, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT

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that will do it for me this hour. ali velshi picks things up right now. ali, no putin! >> not till the witch hunt is over. do we know when that is? >> i don't know. >> all right. >> i was told it wasn't a witch hunt. >> oh, all right. >> sorry. >> no putin any time soon. no putin this fall, we'll start with that. all right, have a good afternoon. good afternoon, everybody. must-see tv. that's one headline as secretary of state mike pompeo gets ready to take on an onslaught of questions about that private meeting that just happened in helsinki between president trump and russia's leader, vladimir putin. it's a two-hour meeting that has riled up congress, america and the rest of the world. but in stark contrast to trump's friendly display alongside putin, secretary pompeo is expected to take a hard line against russia. he's expected to open today's testimony with a firm statement that the united states will never recognize russia's annexation of crimea, calling for russia to, quote, end its occupation. we're monitoring this hearing
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and we will bring it to you when the secretary begins talking. but first, to the tape that's been dominating the headlines. at this point we know you've heard the tape all night into today but before you hear it again, i want to provide some context so you understand why this matters. in september of 2016, two months before the election, michael cohen made an audio tape recording a conversation between him and then candidate donald j. trump. in it cohen appears to be telling trump that he needs to set up a company to be used for a transfer to someone named david, our friend david, he even says. david may be a reference to long-time trump ally david pecker of american media ink or ami. a month before this recording was made, ami shelled out $150,000 for rights to the story of karen mcdougal who claimed that she had an affair with trump in 2006. the story was never published
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and she was temporarily silenced. fast forward to last night. cohen's lawyer, lanny davis, released the recording to cnn. nbc news has authenticated the recording but can't confirm whether it's altered or edited. in it cohen is talking to trump about buying the rights to the story. trump doesn't seem at all surprised by the mcdougal story or cohen's plans. here is the relevant part of the tape. >> i need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, david, you know, so that -- i'm going to do that right away. i've spoken to alan wechiselber on how to set the whole thing up with funding. and it's all the stuff. because here you never know where that company -- >> maybe he gets hit by a truck. >> correct, so i'm all over that. i've spoken to alan about it.
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when it comes time for the financing. >> what financing? >> we'll have to pay. >> pay with cash? >> no, no, no, no, no. no, no, no. >> no, no, no, no, no. cohen's lawyer claims trump was asking to pay with cash, disputing earlier claims by trump's attorney rudy giuliani who said the recording showed that trump insisted payment be made by check, not cash. but giuliani says the tape shows the president wanted it done in a way that was memorialized. they also talked about doing it through a corporation, which would indicate that they didn't want it done by cash. you're not going to do a cash transaction through a corporation. with that let's bring in nbc news intelligence and national security reporter ken dilanian. ken, i guess last night they were going to spend the day talking about the meaning of what cash is. >> ali, this tape is ambiguous but what's more important are the statements by lanny davis suggesting that cohen is prepared to testify about the tape in a way that's adverse to
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donald trump. he's going to say this was a discussion about a payment that was designed to help donald trump's election. and that could mean it was a crime, because -- and he actually, in an interview with katy tur, compared this to the case against john edwards, the former senator who was charged with felonies because payments were made to a mistress before his 2008 presidential campaign. and the government said these are illegal campaign contributions. now, edwards was acquitted, but some experts told me this would be a stronger case if michael cohen is prepared to go into court and say this payment was made to make this story go away to help donald trump get elected. >> i want to bring danny cevallos into this. everybody got caught up on whether this was cash versus check. here the issue is not whether it was cash or check, it's that they seem to both be agreeing a payment had to be made. >> for purpose of the federal election campaign act, the fact
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that it's cash, whether it's money order, mastercard, none of that really matters. all that matters is it's anything of value for the purpose of influencing a federal election. and the important thing that this tape may show is a purposeful violation. to be guilty, someone like donald trump would have to purposely or intentionally violate the law. now, he could have argued pretape i didn't know anything about it ultimately. but this tape appears to show that not only is he aware, he's complicit. a creative prosecutor might conclude that he's either the illegal recipient of those in-kind donations or he was engaged in a conspiracy to gain from the in-kind donations. >> to a guy like you, the more relevant part of the tape may be the part where they make some reference to delaying this payment or delaying something until after the election. >> critical, the word "delay"
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actually appears in this transcript. if that is interpreted to mean can you essentially delay this until the election, although i did not hear the word "until the election" in that tape, it becomes unintelligible after a few words, but if that's what was said, then that could be evidence that there was an intent to delay until after the investigation, which is compelling evidence probably that the intent was to influence an election. >> we're looking at mike pompeo, by the way, who's about to testify before the senate foreign relations committee. there's a little bit of housekeeping that has to be done before the testimony staurtrts. the chair makes introductions and the vice chair makes introductions and then pompeo makes an introduction so it will be a little bit before we get there but we're keeping an eye on this. ken, to the point that we were just talking about, the issue here is that when the payment to our friend, david, comes up, there's no -- lanny davis made this point on cnn.
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there wasn't a remarkable surprise on the part of donald trump. that goes back to when donald trump was first confronted about this and hope hicks, his spokesperson at the time, said he had no knowledge of this. again, we're reminded he also said he had no knowledge of payments to stormy daniels. so at some point i get it there are a whole bunch of people in america, maybe 40% of america, for whom none of this matters. but this is seemingly the president getting caught in another lie. >> he said it was totally untrue. there was a day when the white house used language like that, you could take it to the bank. it's just incredible that this keeps happening. you're right, there's a large percentage of americans that seem to discount it. but i think it's absolutely significant. you know what another significant aspect of this tape is? a man named alan weiselberg is mentioned. he is donald trump's book keeper since the 1970s. if you think michael cohen knows secrets about donald trump. if this man gets in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors, who knows where this thing can go, ali.
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>> we will continue to follow the fallout in this tape. thanks to you, ken dilanian and danny cevallos. now to a potentially huge development in a lawsuit involving trump's businesses. a federal judge has just an hour ago rejected the president's efforts to stop a lawsuit which alleges that he violated the constitution by continuing business with foreign governments. this involves the emoluments clause which reads no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall without the consent of congress accept of any present emallment office or title are any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state. now, "the washington post" reports the plaintiffs want to interview trump organization employees and search company records to determine which countries have spent money at trump's hotel in downtown
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washington. joining me is one of the attorney generals who brought the case. attorney general, good to see you. thank you for being with us. this is a moment that a lot of americans have been waiting for, the idea that the president is not able to put off discussions about whether or not his business dealings do contravene the emoluments clause. >> that's exactly right. today is a historic day. it's the first time in american history that a federal judge has determined a question related to the emoluments clause. what the judge has said is that the washington, d.c., and maryland can pursue their case that the president in fact is violating the emoluments clause by receiving monies from foreign countries who are doing business at his hotel. and you're right, we're going to use the legal process and the rules to unearth evidence about those violations. >> let me read you a bit from
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the court's opinion today allowing the lawsuit to continue. so it's not a ruling on the lawsuit, it allows it to continue. the reasoning that the court presents, the court determines that plaintiffs have convincingly argued that the term "emolument" in both the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses with slight refinements that the court will address means any profit, gain or advantage and that accordingly they have stated claims to the effect that the president in certain ingstances has violated both the foreign and domestic clauses. interpret that for me in english. >> what that means in english is that the president of the united states cannot receive anything of value from a foreign sovereign or even from a state. and when foreign sovereigns or states do business at the trump hotel and pay for rooms and pay for dinners and pay for drinks, that means that under that definition. that is an illegal,
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unconstitutional eemolument. we look forward to proceeding in this case. >> there's a fine point in your response that you made earlier to this ruling and it's got to do with fair market value. i want to just discuss this with you. you said today's historic ruling is a substantial step forward to ensure president trump stops violating our nation's original anti-corruption law, specifically the court agreed with our position that president trump cannot accept profits from private transactions, including those involving services given at fair market value like those we allege are occurring at the trump international hotel here in the district. this is important, because the idea that the trump organization is not giving away things at a discount, whether it's hotel rooms at the trump international hotel or -- trump hotel or the rental of golf carts to secret service members, they are profiting from it. >> that's exactly right.
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what the courts determined is that market rate is not a limitation. any revenue whatsoever coming to the trump hotel from foreign sovereigns and domestic states means that's a violation of the emolumen emoluments. you know, ali, we're here because the president of the united states for the first time in american history has decided to not separate himself from his businesses. we're here because the president of the united states is flagrantly seeking business from foreign countries and domestic states. we're here because this president doesn't care about the constitution. this lawsuit is about vindicating the constitution, and we're going to continue to be a check and balance on this president. >> attorney general of washington, d.c., thank you for joining us. >> thank you, ali. let's go capitol hill where secretary of state mike pompeo is appearing before congress for the first time since president trump's summits with north korean leader kim jong-un and
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russian president vladimir putin. this is a live look at the senate foreign relations committee hearing. while senators are expected to ask about a host of issues, lawmakers will likely focus on what happened in helsinki, what happened in singapore and what's going on with iran? joining us now to talk more about this, jane harman, former six-term democratic congresswoman from california. >> nine-term. >> nine-term! she ran for three extra terms while we weren't watching. jane, i was just trying to make it not look like you were as experienced as you are. >> a young person like me, how could i have served that long. >> michael fukes is a former deputy assistant secretary of state. jane, let me start with you. you have given mike pompeo a fair amount of the benefit of the doubt. there are a lot of people who said whether you like him more
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or less than tillerson, pompeo does seem to have the trust and faith of the president. nobody in any other part of the world wants to deal with somebody, no matter what their title, if they don't feel like that person is speaking on behalf of the president. but the pompeo has come out on the opposite side of donald trump on things like crimea, on things like russian interference in the election, so this is going to be an interesting hearing. >> yeah, i think it is. i don't know what he's going to talk about. for sure he's going to be pushed on what happened at the putin summit and that private meeting raises lots of questions. we need to assume, by the way, that the russians have a transcript of that meeting and that we possibly, because we're really good, our intel is really good, i have no personal information, that we may have access to it too, or at least the outtakes that putin gave his folks after the meeting. so we have more information and i don't know what pompeo can discuss, but we do have more information than was earlier
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believed. >> all right. michael, we have just heard from john bolton that the invitation for vladimir putin has been put off until after the end of the witch hunt. not quite sure when that's going to be, but that bolton is using the term "witch hunt" but what do you think this is really all about? the president announced while his director of national intelligence was being interviewed live with andrea mitchell that he was inviting putin to washington. there are a lot of people in the intelligence and state department who thought that wasn't the wisest idea. now the president is saying it's being delayed. what do you make of that? >> look, ali, i think what we're seeing today is what we've seen throughout the trump administration. this is the tale of two foreign policies. you have the president of the united states, who is pursuing a reckless and dangerous series of foreign policy moves, in particular with regards to russia, and then there's everybody else, his national security advisor and his secretary of state and everybody else who works for him who's trying to basically clean up after him. i think that's likely what you're going to see today with
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secretary pompeo before the senate foreign relations committee. i think what's happening now, and we see this with this hearing today is that senate republicans as well as democrats are just getting fed up with it. corker's opening blast to pompeo here at this hearing just a few minutes ago was quite biting. they have announced that along with the senate banking committee they're going to hold a series of hearings focused on this administration's russia policy. so again, i would imagine i would see mike pompeo being a little bit of a senate punching bag here today. >> for those of you who are worried about it, we are monitoring this hearing. you can see the camera on it. we will go to it when mike pompeo starts talking and all of these things that michael refers to, we will bring to you the heated exchanges or the not-so-heated ones. one of the important things that might get heated is that the president has said things about crimea that have been not as certain as mike pompeo and others have said about the annexation about crimea. in helsinki when asked about
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this, vladimir putin had a different view. he said it's not annexation, it's russian territory. there was a referendum in crim a crimea. let me play the things quickly that donald trump has said about this. >> i would like to know would you recognize crimea as russian territory and also if the u.s. -- >> we'll be looking at that. yeah, we'll be looking. what will happen from crimea from this point on, that i can't tell you but i'm not happy about crimea. but again, that was barack obama's watch, not trump's watch. when it comes to crimea, that's something i took over. there's nothing much i have to say about it other than i'll look at that just like many other disasters i've taken over. >> jane, i'll ask you to hold on. let's go to the hearing. mike pompeo is speaking now. >> i won't read the whole thing. i will submit it for the record.
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it's been publicly released as well. but one part reads as follows. the united states calls on russia to respect the principles to which it has long claimed to adhere and end its occupation of crimea, end of quote. i want to show this committee that the united states does not and will not recognize the kremlin's annexation of crimecr. we stand by our commitment to ukraine and its territorial integrity. this crimea declaration formalizes united states' policy of nonrecognition. there's another indicator of diplomatic progress i want to mention. this morning pastor andrew brunson, who was in prison in turkey for nearly two years has been let out of jail. he's still under house arrest, so our work is not done. but it's work in progress. one of many of you have been engaged in and the state department has been working on
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diligently as well. we will continue to work for the speedy return of all americans unjustly held captive abroad. president trump will never forget about our own. our diplomacy on these issues is advancing the goals of president trump's national security strategy, which laid down guiding principles for american foreign policy in december. in late april i started executing on the strategy as secretary of state and today on july 1st -- excuse me, today here we are and i want to present you some progress. stra established protecting american people, the homeland as pillars of national security. on july 17th president trump stated his firm conviction that diplomacy and engagement are prefr rabble to conflict and hostility. these principles have guided our actions on north korea. president trump's diplomacy de-escalated a situation in which the prospect for conflict was rising daily. americans are safer because of his actions. as far as the trump
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administration's goals on north korea are concerned, nothing has changed. our objective remains the full denuclearization of north korea as agreed to by chairman kim jong-un. as a follow-up to the president's successful summit with chairman kim, on july 5th i traveled to north korea to make progress on the commitments made in singapore. we're engaged in patient diplomacy, but we will not let this drag out to no end. i emphasize this position and the productive discussions i had with the vice chairman. president trump remains upbeat about the prospects for north korean denuclearization. progress is happening. we need chairman kim to follow through. until north korea eliminates their weapons of mass destruction, our sanctions and those of the united nations will remain in effect. multiple u.n. security council resolutions require north korea to eliminate all of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. those resolutions were passed unanimously and they remain
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binding. we absolutely need every single nation to maintain the enforcement of those sanctions to which every nation is committed. the path ahead is not easy, but our hopes for a safer world and brighter future for north korea endure. the national security strategy also calls for peace through strength. president trump's engagement on nato has resulted in greater burden sharing that will strengthen the entire alliance against myriad conventional and unconventional threats. allies have spent more than $40 billion in increased defense spending since 2016 and there will be hundreds of billions of dollars more in the years ahead. last year's $14.4 billion in new spending was a 5.1% increase. it was the largest in a generation. eight allies will meet the 2% this year, 18 are on track to do so by '24. the trump administration is demanding that every country make its own commitment. nato will remain an
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indispensable pillar of american national security. we know weakness provokes our enemies, but strength and cohesion protect us. the more every member contributes, the better the alliance can fulfill its mission of deterring threats to each of our nations. this is the increased commitment that the president wants. from the outset of this administration, the national defense strategy and the russia integrated strategy, our approach has been the same. to steadily raise the cost of aggression until vladimir putin chooses a less confrontational foreign policy while keeping it open for dialogue. the united states and russia possess over 90% of the world's nuclear weapons. president trump believes the two great nuclear powers should not have a contentious relationship. this is not just in our interest, but in the interest of the whole world. he strongly believes now is the time for direct communication in our relationship in order to make clear to president putin that there is the possibility, however remote it might be, to reverse the negative course of
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our relationship. otherwise, the administration will continue imposing tough actions against russia in response to its malign activities. we can't make progress on issues of mutual concern unless we're talking about them. i've heard many of you on this panel say that for years and years. i'm referring to key issues like stopping terrorism, obtaining peace in ukraine, stopping the civil war in syria and delivering humanitarian assistance, ensuring security for israel and shutting down all of iran's malign activity. on the subject of iran, president trump has said that iran is not the same country that it was five months ago. that's because our campaign of financial pressure, our withdrawal from the nuclear deal and our full-throated support for the iranian people are having an impact. in helsinki we sought to explore whether russia was interested in improving our relationship but made clear that the ball is in russia's court. we defended america's interests in syria and ukraine, and i personally made clear to the russians there will be severe
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consequences for interference in our democratic processes. i would also add that president trump is well aware of the challenges that russia poses to the united states and our partners and allies. he's taken a staggering number of actions to protect our interests. as just a few pieces of proof, i'd like to cite the following. 213 sanctions on russian entities and individuals in the trump administration. 60 russian spies expelled from the united states of america and the closure of russia's consulate in seattle in response to the chemical weapons use. the closure of russia's consulate in san francisco. cutting u.s. diplomatic staffing in russia by 70%. 150 military exercises have been led or participated in europe this year alone. more than 11 billion have been put forward for the european defense initiative. we made defensive weapons available to ukraine and to georgia. and just last week the department of defense, this is after helsinki, added an
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additional $200 million in security cooperation funds to ukraine. none of this happened for the eight years that preceded president trump. it's not enough for you, there's a long list, i'm happy to go through them and i'm guessing i'll get that opportunity. i look forward to it. finally, president trump has stated that he accepts the intelligence community's conclusion that russia meddled in the 2016 election. he has a complete and proper understanding of what happened. i know. i briefed him on it for over a year. this is perfectly clear to me personally. i am also certain he deeply respects the difficult and dangerous work that our patriots in the intelligence community do every single day and i know that he feels the same way about the amazing people that work at the united states department of state. thank you, chairman corker. >> thank you very much. the secretary's staff has asked that we absolutely stay to the seven-minute deal so if we can not ask five-part questions and
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if you could give the respondent time to answer within the seven minutes, i'll appreciate it. with that i'll defer to senator menendez and withhold my time. >> mr. secretary, when the president meets alone with president putin, it allows the kremlin-sponsored state media and the russian ministry of defense to provide more information at least from their perspective not only to the american people but sometimes it seems to members of the president's own cabinet. so i'd like to ask you some questions to get to understand what actually happened. has the president told you what he and president putin discussed in their two-hour closed-door meeting in helsinki? >> the presidents have a prerogative to choose who's in meetings or not. i'm confidence you've had private meetings in your life as well. >> i just asked you a simple question. >> i just -- >> you can't eat up my seven
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minut minutes, mr. secretary. did he tell you what happened in those two hours? >> the predicate implied some notion there was something improper about having a one-on-one meeting. >> i didn't ask you a predicate, i asked you a simple question. did he tell you what transpired in the meeting? >> i've aid number of conversations about what transpired in the meeting. i was also present when he and president putin both gave us a sense of what they discussed in the meeting that followed immediately after. i also had the chance to speak with sergey lavrov twice about the russian view. i think i have a pretty complete understanding of what took place. >> did you speak to the translator who was at that meeting? >> no, i haven't. >> have you seen any of her notes? >> senator, i have never been -- i've been in lots of meetings, had lots of note takers and lots of translators. i never relied on the work that they did and it does not need to be done here and won't be. >> did the president discuss relaxing u.s. sanctions on
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russia? >> senator, the u.s. policy with respect to sanctions remains completely unchanged. >> so the president did not -- you're telling me -- i asked a very specific question. >> yes and i gave you a very specific answer. >> did he tell you that he discussed relaxing russia's sanctions or not? >> the presidents are entitled to have private meetings. i came here today -- >> you told me that you had a conversation with him in which he told you what transpired. i think the nation and all of us who are policy makers deserve to know so that we can fashion policy accordingly. did he tell putin that our release or ultimately relax sanctions? >> senator, what you need to conduct your role, your appropriate role, i will provide you today. that is united states policy with respect to the issues you request. you asked me about u.s. policy with respect to sanctions. no commitment has been made to change those policies in any way. >> did the president upon this
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meeting call upon president putin to withdraw from crimea and eastern ukraine? >> i began with the united states government's policy -- >> i understand the declaration and welcome it. the question is when he had a chance, did he confront putin and say we don't recognize your annexation of crimea, we don't recognize your continuing hostilities in eastern ukraine, and there's consequences for that? >> senator, the president was very clear with vladimir putin about u.s. positions. the u.s. positions that are the trump administration's positions and he spoke about them very firmly and clearly when he met with vladimir putin. >> and he told you that? >> senator, i'm telling you what he had a conversation with vladimir putin about and i'm telling you what u.s. policy is today. i understand -- senator, i understand the game that you're playing, i get it. >> you know, mr. secretary, with all due respect, i don't appreciate you characterizing my questions. my question is to get to the truth. we don't know what the truth is. >> you do. >> and the only way we will know what the truth is, what
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transpired in those two hours in highly amazing period of time to spend alone one on one is by understanding at least that if you were briefed by the president, what he told you. i don't think that's unfair to know, to understand what policy is. let me ask you this. did the president say they were going to change our force structure in syria? >> senator, presidents are permitted to have conversations with their cabinet members that aren't repeated in public. i owe -- i owe the president the capacity for him to have conversations with him -- provide him the best foreign policy advice that i can. it's what i was brought on to do. >> let me ask you this, mr. secretary. here's something you can answer for me. >> right. >> because you're not going to answer any of the questions that would get us to the truth. as cia director, you stated in an interview with the bbc that you fully expect russia to continue its attacks on our democracy by attempting to interfere in our midterm elections. in his conversation with putin, i hope the president laid out
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the consequences of interference in the 2018 election, but i know you can't tell me that. >> actually i can tell you that. >> you want to share that with me? >> no, senator, i can tell you that because the president has disclosed that. the president disclosed what he said to vladimir putin about russian interference in our elections. he said that he is confident that as a result of that conversation, vladimir understands that it won't be tolerated. >> i wish he had said that in public in helsinki. senator graham and i and others are working on a new bill to hold russia accountable. given that you assert the administration is tough on russia, will you commit to working with us on a new russia sanctions bill? >> yes, sir. >> thank you. north korea, when you last appeared, i asked you a series of critical questions about what's our policy in north korea and to your credit i must say that i largely agreed with what our goals are. now i want to ask you, since we haven't heard anything, not a classified briefing, not anything as relates to north korea, did north korea agree with our definition of
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denuclearization, meaning the dismantlement, removal of all nuclear weapons, facilities, technology and material from north korea? >> i think i can answer your question but let me begin by saying i'm engaged in a complex negotiation with the north koreans so i don't intend in this public setting to share the details of every conversation that took place in those. but i will attempt to answer your questions without disclosing the contents of the negotiation. i am very confident that the north koreans understand our definition of denuclearization, a very broad one, that it goes from infrastructure, nuclear warheads through chemical biological weapons -- >> we understand it because you laid it for the record. have they agreed with you -- >> i believe they thoroughly understand it. >> they understand it but they didn't agree. did they agree toen end the enrichment -- >> i would welcome the chance to respond to your questions. >> it's a simple yes or no. >> i think it would be most imlum nating.
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>> it was the previous question i didn't have a chance to answer. >> did they agree to end the enrichment of plutonium -- >> they have agreed to denuclearize totally. it includes the full range -- >> i would love for you to come to a classified setting and tell all members exactly what transpired because we don't know. >> thank you. senator rich. >> mr. secretary, thank you for doing this job. the president made a wise decision appointing you as secretary of state, and you're aquitting yourself very well here today and we appreciate that. you've always been straightforward with us and i appreciate that. i know many of my colleagues, not all, but many of my colleagues fully appreciate that. >> are you prepared to say most are you just going to go with many. >> i'm going to stay with many. >> let me say that as far as what happened at the nato summit, very few americans heard
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anything exempt the argument that went on about the -- about funding. i know the president believes and you believe and i believe and most everyone believes that nato is the most successful military alliance in the history of the world. as you pointed out, it's certainly one of the pillars of our national security and one that we need to support and one that we need to work well. there are very few downsides of nato but there is one blemish. the president has underscored that publicly and well. his predecessors attempted to do it. all their predecessors attempted to do it. all those of us who meet with the europeans from time to time underscore it and that is the funding or the lack thereof that the europeans have done. only eight of the nato nations are actually meeting the commitment of 2%. first of all, the president is to be commended for underscoring
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this as only he can do in his unique way and actually getting them to start talking about it and now finally starting to agree to that. but there were other things that were lost as far as that meeting is concerned and i'd like you to talk about those things for a few minutes. number one is on the deterrent side, the 430s commitment to increase nato readiness and speed up the time it takes allies to assemble and deploy forces, and that's a huge step forward. the efforts to improve mobility and establish a process to enhance the speed at which nato can make decisions. the fight against terrorism and increase in allied resilience against terrorist threats through a new framework to share biometric data is a major applicator. and finally, the opportunity for macedonia to receive an invitation to join nato and fulfill the promise from the summit was a positive step. could you comment on those very important steps forward that happened at this nato summit?
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>> it was an incredibly productive nato summit. from my conversations with secretary general stoltenberg, he said among the most productive he'd ever been part of. you talked about the four 30s, 30 squadrons, 30 nato combats ants ready to go in 30 days, something nato hasn't been able to do. we have to follow through to make sure implementation of that occurs. it would be a great thing to deter russia if we can get those countries and our allies to get to that level. you talked about the increase in burden sharing that seemed to get all the focus. it's certainly important that the europeans are as committed to deterring russia as the united states of america and need to demonstrate that through their defense, not only dollars but readiness as well. we've seen reports about the absence of german readiness. they need to truly be ready. the president also raised
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another issue about energy and energy security at the nato summit. he talked about the nord stream 2 pipeline and the risk that that creates to the alliance in the event that russia should decide to use energy as a weapon to coerce either formally or informally german or other european countries. he raised it to the forefront and frankly there are european countries that understand that risk and support america and our position on that as well. finally, the nato mission, its new role in fighting terrorism. i want to say thanks to so many of the european countries that have stepped forward. in the past two weeks since the nato summit, over 1,000 additional commitments from allied nato partners headed to assist us in operation resolute support in afghanistan. that's a great commitment, something that president trump worked hard on at the summit and really good outcomes for
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america. >> thank you so much. you're to be personally commended for those great successes as is the president for leading in that regard. it's unfortunate that our friends and allies' feathers were ruffled a little bit just because we said they weren't paying their bills, but that's been going on for some time and i think we're going to tolerate that. but they have got to step up and i know you underscored that and the president has certainly underscored that with them. i want to talk about iran for just a moment. one of the big unreported stories as far as foreign relations is concerned is the issues and the difficulties that the iranian people are having internally, financially and otherwise. i know we're not in a classified setting, but there is some open reporting on these sources and the regime that's there is struggling with this. indeed, i think that's probably why they tried to poke the president the other day to try
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to take the heat off of the heat they're getting at home. could you talk a little bit about what's going on internally? again, knowing that we're in an open setting. >> senator, there is enormous economic challenge inside of iran today. it's an economic structure that simply doesn't work. when you foment that -- when you're a country of that scale that foments terror through hezbollah, through shia militias in iraq, into yemen, conducts assassination attempts in european countries, provides enormous support for assad outside of hezbollah in syria, that's expensive. i think the iranian people are beginning to see that's not the model that they want. that the iranian expansionism that the supreme leader so favor is not what they're looking for. i think you're beginning to see the economic impact combined
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with understandings inside of iran of the kleptocracy that it is, leading to fundamental decisions that the iranian people will ultimately have to make. >> do you agree with me that that acceleration of that understanding by the iranian people has been very rapid over the last six months? >> yes. i think it's -- i think it's been going on longer than that. >> it's been going on longer, but i'm talking about the acceleration. >> yes, i think that's a fair statement. >> if i could, just one interjection. i know the phrase "paying their bills" has been used. and we need to -- every nato country needs to be contributing 2% to defense. i've noticed those near the russian border always do. but that's a misnomemisnomer, i not? we want them to contributing at least 2%. these nato countries are not not paying bills to the united states as sometimes is projected. is that correct?
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>> the short falls that the president identified are in two buckets. there is a nato common fund that is contributed to by every nation and the united states is by far the largest contributor to that fund. and then there are monies that are paid for nations to raise their own militaries and defend themselves. that's the 2% number. >> right. >> to which we've been referring. >> it would be a mischaracterization to make it appear that they're not paying bills to the united states. >> that's correct, senator. that's correct. >> senator cardin. >> mr. secretary, thank you for being here. it's my understanding that the president is going to invite mr. putin to the united states to follow up on the understandings reached in helsinki. can you just briefly tell me what those understandings or agreements reached in helsinki at the meeting. >> sure. i can certainly share with you the things that we've been tasked to follow up on by president trump following that meeting. there's a handful. so there is an agreement to establish some business-to-business leadership
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exchanges that historically have been undertaken but fallen away. these would be business leaders that would participate in this. i understand that this went for years and years and was ceased a handful of years ago. >> if we could do it briefly. i understand you want to give a complete thing -- >> i understand. business to business. next issue? >> the president has asked us to look at re-establishing a counterterrorism council that was held at the level of the deputy secretary of state for many years and also ceased to happen. i think at this point i think that makes sense. >> counterterrorism cooperation. >> we are working to see in syria what are the possibilities that can be achieved so that the now between six and seven million externally displaced persons have the opportunity to return. we made clear this should happen through the political process in geneva, but we are working to
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see if we can't get russia to be more cooperative in terms of driving towards a political resolution there that would take down the violence levels and create some opportunity to begin a political resolution of the process in syria. >> any discussions on sanctions? you said there was no easing of the sanctions? >> no, senator, no easing of the sanctions, but also -- >> was there any discussion about magnitsky? because certain names associated with magnitsky came out in helsinki. was there any discussion with the president on the magnitsky sanctions? >> no, there's been no change in u.s. policy with respect to magnits magnitsky. i think i know what you're referring to. let me make clear, the united states will defend our team in the field and the team that's been in the field when it retires and leaves the field. we understand that americans deserve the protection of the united states of america both during their time in service and thereafter. >> was there any agreements
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reached in regards to ukraine? >> no, senator, that's an agree to disagree. that is the u.s. policy hasn't changed and you can see that. $200 million since the helsinki summit provided to the ukrainians. i think there was lots of concern that -- and i saw it. i could find y'all's quotes if you'd like me to drag them out. concerns that president trump would make a change in position with respect to ukraine -- >> and you made that clear. >> and there is none and it is -- it is a policy that the previous administration refused to undertake and so i hear comparative -- it's important, senator. comparison matters here because there's a narrative that has developed that somehow president trump is weak on russia when in fact the converse is true. >> i heard you talk and brag about the number of sanctions -- >> these were just facts. >> the facts is that the congress passed the statute that required sanctions to be imposed and they're sanctions that are
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to be imposed that have not been imposed. and the facts are the administration sought a waiver in regard to it in regard to the national defense authorization act so i really just want to point out, and we've had this from previous administrations but not as much as we're hearing today, that what congress is requiring you to do, all of a sudden you found religion and are taking credit for it. but in reality, you haven't implemented on time the sanctions that have been passed by congress. >> senator, first of all, that's not true. we've passed a number of sanctions and it is also true, at least my best recollection of the constitution is the president signed that law as well. >> and he complained he signed it. >> so i thank you for presenting that law. we appreciate it. we think it makes good sense. the president signed it as well. we have passed sanctions under that very law and we have passed sanctions that -- senator, previous administrations didn't do. >> please read the president's comment when he signed the law, because it's very interesting comments. let me move on to our policy in
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regards to nuclear proliferation in iran and in north korea because i'm having a hard time understanding the comparison between these two countries. in north korea, we have a country that has a nuclear weapon. the president has met with the leader of that country and has at least given a signal to some countries that in fact there may be relaxation of those. we're having problems with china today, as i understand. in iran, we had a commitment for a short-term ending of their program. we were able to isolate iran, getting the support of china, russia and europe, and we were able to keep the temperature down in regards to their nuclear program. now by pulling out we are now seeing we don't have any commitments on the short term if iran walks away from the
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agreement because there are already sanctions now under the united states. we've been isolated, not iran. and of course iran today was not pursuing a nuclear program. i agree with you there may be long-term issues. so i'm having a hard time understanding our strategy in regards to preventing nuclear proliferation. the last point i would make, we had a hearing in this committee as to what is necessary to move forward with north korea on giving up nuclear weapons. the first thing they talked about, you have to have a full declaration of its nuclear arsenal and a timeline for dismantling. and i'm getting my information now from the south koreans, not from the americans. south koreans have been reported to say that you asked for that information and have not been able to get that information from kim jong-un or his representatives. so what have we gotten in north korea? and why are we allowing north korea to continue to have a nuclear weapon when the strategy
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is that as long as iran is doing any types of enrichment, we're going to impose sanctions against them? >> senator, let me try. that was a long question, let me try and unpack it a little bit. so let me give you the common theme. we want neither iran nor north korea to have the capacity to proliferate nuclear weapons, to enrich uranium or build their own weapons program. that's the mission set, it draws them together. that sets the conditions for president trump's understanding of how one achieves nonproliferation in the world and that's the mission state we're undertaking in each of those two countries. they are in different places and we are working on an approach in each place that we think increases the likelihood we're able to successfully achieve that. a mission i know you share. >> an interjection. a mention was made of a waiver in the ndaa by senator -- secretary mattis actually.
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he wouldn't want to be demoted to that level, i know. but i support that. the purpose of that waiver, was it not, was to allow countries that we're dealing with, that we wish to buy american military equipment to be weaned off russian equipment, they still had to buy parts to do so so that we can more fully implement strategies with them working with them to really push back against other countries. is that correct? >> senator corker, you capture it very well. secretary mattis and i both put forward this request. these are countries that have historic russian weapons systems. if we deny them the capacity to have spare parts or to round out that process, they're we're likely to drive them into the hands of the russians. i don't think that was the aim of the sanctions themselves so we're working to effectuate the intent of the statute by seeking this waiver. >> would the chairman yield? >> go ahead. >> my point is, that this is an
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issue we talked about in the development of the bill. there was absolutely no debate in this committee on the waiver request by the i disagree with distinguished chairman as to whether it was handled right. the countries had over a year to resolve that. >> it had become an acute issue and it is a defense-related issue. i'm glad we've been able to resolve it in a manner that will allow these countries to wean off russian equipment and begin buying ours. senator rubio. >> thank you. >> just watching to see if they reset my clock. this is an nba game. all right. let me start. >> reset the clock. >> that's all right. we'll figure it out. i'll tell you when it's time. don't worry. when vladimir putin decided to interfere in our elections, you would agree he undertook a cost benefit analysis. this is what the price would be for doing this, this is the
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benefit i would gain from it. so where it leaves us, we have to do two things. we have to defend against potential interference elections systems and the like. i think the other is we have to make sure that the price is higher than the benefit. and that actually points to one of the things you already mentioned and that is what we've already done. have you start today lineup some of the things we've done in response to that and other things, it's a pretty extensive list, including things we've been asking for four years that happen. the tank missiles. posture in eastern and central europe. the variety of des eignations under ukraine, from the obama administration. sanctions under ketza and others more to come from cyber security. weapons proliferation, terror and transnational crime. export restrictions on entities that violated the inf treaty. we closed consulates in san francisco and in seattle, we closed a an an exin d.c., closed
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the trade office in new york after the poison nerve gas in u.k. we expelled 6 0 other diplomats. all of that happened under this administration. these are pretty substantial including the sanctions. but obviously even that price is not high enough because the intelligence community continues to tell us they are postured and are actively engaged in both attacking our democracy and posturing to do more of that in the future. so my question is, along the lines of a piece of legislation that senator van hollen and i and a group of other senators have jumped on board on, and it aims to do three things. one is sort of define interference. it's not just five russian guys on twitter. it's define it in terms of its meaning to our republic. require that director of national intelligence to issue a report within 30 days of the election about whether or not interference occurred. and then put in statute a menu of very crippling sanctions. and the purpose of that would be so that vladimir putin knows before he makes this decision going to '18 or in the future, this is the price i will pay if i do this again.
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that's why it's called a deter act to get on the front end of it. i don't ask you to opine on the bill because i know you don't have it in front of you. on the concept of building deterrence on the front end, is that not an approach we can take to hopefully deter him from doing this in the future by making him clearly understand how high the price would be in comparison to the ben sfiefit? >> i agree there is a cost benefit undertaken before the act. it follows necessarily putting on notice with essentially a fail-safe, if you will, about things that will follow has the likelihood of being successful in raising the cost in terms of how he calculates risk associated with a wide range of actions. >> let me -- you'll be asked plenty about russia so i don't want to undermine that. i think the single biggest national security threat in the long term to the united states is china. i mean, for the first time since the end of the cold war we are in competition with a near peer
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adversary. it's not just army. it's economic, geopolitical. we've seen their impressive military buildup, we see the work they are undertaking to sort of destroy the u.s. world order and rebuild it to one more of their liking. we've seen the gains they've made in 5g alone, cellini mobhi will be the only one by 2020. it's the result of hard work and ingenuity, also the work of intellectual property theft, force transfers and the like. this is part of a tactic that they've been using for a while. the chinese and i think the south china sea is a great example of it. they don't make big sweeping changes. it's sort of a sustained, sort of slow and incremental, but more assertive demands each time, creating new normals along the way. what they've done in the south china sea is evidence of that. and the only ways that seem to work in response to their aggression are two things.
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the first is committed and sustained escalation across the relationship, meaning carve out pieces of it. they do it that way. we have to do it that way. our whole relationship, sustain and committed pressure. and the other is invoking the help of our foreign partners. and what i'm troubled by in regards to the administration posture on this is on the working with invoking the help of our foreign partners has become complicated because we're currently engaged with trade disputes with the e.u. and japan, mexico and canada, which we should have teamed up with to confront them. and i understand trade is an issue that needs to be addressed, but i don't know why we didn't address china first together and dealt with our allies second. and the other is the sustained and committed escalation across the entire relationship. and on that front, i'm puzzled by the decision the administration made on zte. i know that was not a state department decision, it was a commerce one because i agree if the zte issue was simply a sanctions violation, the penalties imposed would have been devastating.
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zte is more than a sanctions threat to the united states. it is part of a broader telecommunication threat that the chinese industry has posed to the united states. and to threaten to shut them down and then pull back from it is not the sort of committed and sustained escalation across the entire relationship. the carving out of one company sends them a message they can pick away at different parts of that relationship and undermine our willingness to sustain pressure on them to get a better eke lee questi equilibrium. they don't seek parity, they seek to overtake us. >> you have laid out the challenge of the united states over the coming years, maybe decade. the issue of china. you talk about they have a lot of focus in the big economy. that puts them in the position to be a competitor to the united states in the way a country like russia with an economy smaller than italy's can't maintain over
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some period of time. and so we do need a broad comprehensive response and i think all of the west, not just the united states was too slow in seeing this. your point about how they turned up the heat slowly over time. i think that recognition is there. but i don't believe that the structures are in place today to respond to that in a way comprehensively. i was with our australian partners yesterday at a meeting with secretary mattis and myself and our australian counter parts. they, too, just passed a set of noninterference rules on china. they are getting up to speed the same way you all took a look at sifia and firma. we are striking a response to china that i think will ultimately do what has historically happen, allow america to prevail. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. senator shaheen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, i want to thank you, assistant secretary mitchell and phil for your hard work and coordination on the efforts to release pastor brun son.
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as you pointed out, his move from prison to house arrest is a positive development. obviously we have a lot more work to do in terms of getting him back to the united states. and also pressing the turkish government to release the other americans that they are holding, but it is a positive step, and thank you for that. i am concerned, mr. secretary, because it's been one week since -- little over a week since the helsinki meeting between president trump and vladimir putin, and yet other than the brief description you just gave us, we don't really know what was discussed in that meeting. we've heard dni coats, general votell and a number of state department officials, including those who were present in last week's committee meeting on iran, indicate that they still don't have a full understanding of what was discussed in that meeting. and we're seeing almost daily attempts by the kremlin to take
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advantage of this opportunity as they release their own read-outs of the conversation and broadcast news of various agreements that they say were reached in that meeting. so for me, that's why i'm so concerned and why i want to know exactly what was agreed to in that meeting. on syria, president trump said at his joint news conference that the two leaders discussed syria at length. the russian ministry of defense has indicated that the two leaders agreed to military cooperation in syria. did they do that? >> the united states policy with respect to de-confliction with russia has not changed. i will defer to the department of defense for details around that, but i can tell you that the policy that was in place with respect to they air efforto keep american pilots safe in syria, that policy has not changed. >> do you know if they discussed that policy, if they discussed --
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>> i do know that they discussed syria. they absolutely discussed syria. the focus of that discussion -- i think president trump has shared this -- was an effort to find a political resolution there and to get the displaced persons the opportunity to return to syria. and i think the president has talked about one more item. as the president shared, i feel like i can as well. i think he also talked about america's continued commitment to ensure that israel was secure from threats in syria as well, and that topic was discussed by them as well. i think the president has previously shared that. >> do you know if there was any sort of downgrading of our u.s. presence in israel -- i mean in syria that was discussed? >> there's been no change in u.s. policy with respect to our activities in syria. >> i understand. but that's not exactly the question i'm asking. >> senator, it's what matters. it's what matters. what matters is what president trump has directed us to


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