tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC May 12, 2017 1:00am-2:01am PDT
detroit book society. you can check out our facebook page for more details. if you're in the area, please come by. >> tonight, the nbc news sclif interview with president trump, facing direct questions for the first time about his firing of fbi director james comey and the answer he gave that blew up the cover story. also, new reporting on the dish between president trump and his former fbi director. for the first time comey's side of the story is starting to emerge. and why the president and his staff have struggled so mightily to keep their stories straight at this white house. the # 1th hour begins now. >> and good evening once again. while we think of it, that
three-page justice department memo from two days back saying that comey was fired as head of the fbi because he'd been mean to hillary clinton, that was never really the reason. the president said today he was going to fire him regardless. but we digress. this was an eventful day. 112 of the trump presidency. we've learned that the administration's full-court press this week from sean spicer briefing in the dark between two bushes on the white house lawn to the vice president on capitol hill, the full-court press to say that comey was fired because of miss handling the clinton e-mails, that was all wasted effort, reversed today by the president who said he'd already decided comey was a goner. the president maids the admission in an interview with lester holt. it drove the news cycle today and continues tonight. here now are the salient portions of that conversation. >> monday, you met with the deputy attorney general rose steen. >> yes. >> did you ask? >> i was going to fire comey.
my decision. >> you had made the decision before they came in. >> i was going to fire comey. he made a recommendation. regardless of recommendation i was going to fire comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. and in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know this russian thing with trump and russia, it's a madeup excuse of the democrats for losing an election that they should have won. this is an excuse. >> are you angry with mr. comey because of the russia investigation? >> i just want someone that's competent. i'm a big fan of the finn. >> how is the white house going to answer this question tomorrow? the questions about his campaign and russia and the answer you saw. the quote from the president is
this "in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, i know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story" and a reminder tonight of the lengths the administration went to to push a false narrative that a deputy attorney general citing clinton's e-mails recommended to the e-mails that comey had to go and so the president acted upon its. >> i think the president was p given a recommendation by the deputy attorney general who the fbi director reports to. >> i would point them to the three letters that were received today, a letter by president donald trump, the letter by attorney general sessions and the underlying report rosenstein. >> by accepting the recommendation of the deputy attorney general to remove director comey as the head of the fbi, because of the actions that the deputy attorney general outlined to the president. the president made the right decision at the right time. >> there was a lot of that. another point generating questions tonight from this interview today.
did the president cross a line when he called james comey to ask if he was personally under investigation as he said he did. and the reason we know the president did this, is he admitted it on video. >> when you're under investigation, you give necessity all sorts of documents and everything. i knew i wasn't under. and i heard it was stated at the committee yet. at some committee tlaefl i wasn't. number one. >> so they didn't -- >> then during the phone call he said it and during another phone call he said it. he said it once at dinner and he said it twice during phone calls. >> did you call him? >> in one case i called him and in one case he called me. >> did you ask him if you're under investigation? >> i asked him. i said if it is possible to ask you, am i under investigation? he said you're not under investigation. >> tonight, comey's side. the headline in a private dinner trump demanded loyalty. comey demured.
more on that in a moment. there's something else here. sara huckaby sandleders filling in for sean spicer has gone to great lengths to say james comey had lost the support of the people within the fbi. >> most importantly, the rank and file of the fbi had lost confidence in their director. i think it really came down, the bottom line was he'd lost the respect, not only of the rank and file within the fbi, democrats and plujs alike. i've heard from countless members of the fbi that are grateful and thankful for the president's decision. >> the problem with that is the new interim director of the fbi, a 21 year veteran appeared before congress and was asked about the rank and file at the fbi. >> is it accurate that the rank and file no longer supported director comey? >> no, sir. that is not accurate. i can tell you also that
director comey enjoyed broad support within the fbi and still does to this day. i can confidently tell you that the majority, the vast majority of fbi employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to director comey. >> let's bring in tonight's panel, shall we? white house bureau chief for the washington post, a man whose name has been on some extraordinary bylines, and the newest on air host at this network who picked quite a week to debut her new broadcast deadline white house 4:00 p.m. eastern time week day. and reporter for the wall street journal. film, you get to go first because you were the one -- talk about it a bit -- who picked up on this linkage between russia investigation and comey in the president's answer. >> yeah, that was a really remarkable admission from the president in his interview with
lester holt that's actually going to be leading the washington post newspaper tomorrow morning. russia and his decision to fire comey, he said he kept thinking about the russia, trump-russia story. he didn't necessarily explain that it was a probe but to him it was a clear link average in his mind. he was thinking about russia when he made the decision about comey. >> what happened today? what did we just witness? >> we were talking before coming out here. i worked for a president who had plenty of tough days and plenty of legitimate critics but i was never undermined by my boss. when i went out and said something, i checked with my boss. that was through a terrorist attack, two washes, a hurricane response that brought a lot of critics from all over the place. i can't imagine functioning in this environment andst problem that -- the problem that we have, heaven that covers this white house, there are no credible spokes people. i don't know who you call
anymore. sean spicer has been undermined. day one he was undermined. he was sent out with a picture and told to lie about words to describe it. i have a five-year-old who knows the difference between more and less. sara was insisting, so was kellyanne that this memo was the reason he fired comey. he went out there with lester holt and said i'm giving my own story, never mind that it undermines everybody from my vice president to my press secretary. >> there is a political piece tonight just before we tame out here that says president trump spent many of the first 48 hours after he fired his fbi director grumbling to friends and associates about his lousy media coverage and about the shortcomings of his senior aides.
then after he went on television to give his own contradictory version of events, he made it worse. this reads tonight like the press shop leaking about their -- kountder leaking about their boss. how do you squash these answers? how do you square what you see from the podium to what you now know to be true? >> generally what you see them saying on the record from the podium is probably the least likely to be true. that headline, tried to fix something, made it worse, is more or less the story of the first 112 days of this administration. he sits in the office, lights the room on fire and gets angry that the fire department is not the there yet. he startsed this. it was in the letter that he sent to comey saying in the second paragraph, by the way, thanks for con exonerating me on three separate occasions. they spent two days trotting out surrogates and staffers trying
to give him an alibi. they alienate the deputy attorney general, the vice president who's trying to carry this narrative and then it comes back to, oh, well, i fired him all along when i was thinking about russia, which was obvious but -- >> and you remember -- >> to prevare kalts. >> we weren't running upstairs at quarter to 6:00 tuesday when the news broke and the whole conversation in the aftermath was about the fact that the president had fired the man investigating his campgn's ties to russia and how tone deaf can you be and h could a staff have let him do that.
well, now we know. you look at these stories. they're critiquing his organization's ability to manage a crisis. he's a crisis creator, so wait until the country deals with a real crisis not of the president's creation. that's where this goes from being sort of entertaining to bewildering. >> this is a crisis in its own way. the world is watching. >> but they are all of his own making. >> this is diminishing in eyes around the world, our democracy. >> does it sund fam to you that a president would be angry with his press shop, take it upon himself to book a sit-down interview with a major network, answer off the cuff, and change the entire narrative that the structure of the presidency had been set up to answer? >> well, you know what? this is donald trump's presidency and it's grump's white house, and some of what eli and cole have been saying is exactly right. he created these problems and didn't bring in enough of his senior staff early enough to seek their advice and counsel to help manage this at the fronts end.
the other problem is among the senior staff there's noebel who can really say no to him. we hear about his son-in-law and daughter being these moderating dplienss on him. my reporting shows that they knew about what was about to happen with comey and didn't do anything about it. >> so surprise, nobody wanted a piece of this. phil did it dawn on you as it did us watching this interview today, it's all defense, no offense? at the 100-day mark to not be out talking about shovel ready initiatives around the country, putting americans back to work, tax plan, infrastructure, you piece of this. phil did it dawn on you as it did us watching this interview today, it's all defense, no offense? at the 100-day mark to not be out talking about shovel ready initiatives around the country, putting americans back to work, tax plan, infrastructure, you name it -- >> yeah. >> -- no sell job, no offense? >> no and it's a real setback for him where he wanted to seize on the success of last week. he wanted to move the tax plan
forward. remember, they put out the blueprint for the tax plan and that's gone nowhere. another important thing, he's actually headed overseas next week. he's got a major trip to four different countries. a lot at stake. he had cleared his schedule for this week to prepare and do briefings and get ready for that trip. obviously he's spending a lot of time this week fuming over the comey kriesz is. >> republicans on the hill suspended animation. >> republicans on the hill have been pathetic in sponges to comey. the republican party uchd to stand strong against trump -- i'm sorry -- against putin's actions in the neighborhood. >> i remember that. >> remember those day? you're too young. it's really, i think, a sad day. i think i counted four republicans who questioned not the action -- in fairness to trump, he has the right -- >> not running against. >> he has the right to fire his fbi director. but the timing is what's so suspicious.
i think everybody sort of is aware of the fact that the investigations on every front are heating up, on the flynn front, the senate intel community. jeff blake, john mccain, burr, and -- those are a handful, literally, of republicans expressing concern with the timing. but i think it's really a dire moment where the republicans sorts of fall into line behind a president that, at best, is creating cries that his staffer can't keep up to clean up. >> i mentioned that we're starting to see the comey part of the story emerge. this is new york times tonight. this is about the dinner. as they it's, the president and mr. comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at mr. trump's rallies. president then turned the conversation to whether mr. comey would pledge his loyalty to him. mr. comey declined to make that pledge.
by mr. comey's accounts, his answer to mr. trump's initial question apparently didn't satisfy the president. mr. trump pressed himtd on whether it would be honest loyalty. you will have that, mr. comey told his associates, he sponltded. incredible. >> this is donald trump talking about loyalty test as mtd even from the politically independent fbi director. maybe he doejt know. maybe there's something nefarious, maybe it's both. but when you step back, what it reads to me is this is something that the former fbi director probably told staffers about and said when i get fired, leak this. but the white house in the story says they dispute the narrative. if the white house had any credibility, that assertion might kill a story like that. in this case, it doesn't. when we hear the white house pushing back on things, the communications department saying that's completely not true. >> it doesn't mean anything anymore. >> you don't really believe it. >> phil, did i read correctly, 30 sources, if last big byline
piece in the washington post, 33 and a zero? >> it was actually mor than 30 but we rounded it up. that was yesterday's story. >> phil you've probably missed two or three stories newjust in the time you've spent in conversation with us. best of luck in the -- >> i appreciate its. >> ok. nicole wallace, eli stoke lgs obviously here with us in the studio. coming up, the president himself exposes his own communications team and his own vp who now have been caught telling a false version of events. we'll talk about it when "did 11th hour" continues. the show's about to start! how do i look?
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welcome back. we mentioned earlier the differing messages coming from the acting director of the fbi and the white house on what rank and file employees in the fbi, 36,000 people work for the fbi, thought about former director james comey. deputy press second sara huckaby sanders was pressed about the inconsistency in the briefing room today. >> i certainly heard from a large number of individuals and that's just myself and i don't even know that many people in the fbi. >> you said now and i think you said yesterday that you personally have talked to countless fbi officials, employees, since this happened. >> correct. >> i mean, really? like -- >> i mean -- >> are there so many --
>> between e-mail, text messages, absolutely. >> 60, 70? >> look, we're not getting into a numbers game. i have heard from a large number of individuals thatwork at the fbi that said that they're very happy with the president's decision. >> what do we define as countless. the new york times reporter you saw asking the questions, michael sheer is with us tonight. we're awfully happy to have him. nicole wallace has been asked to stay behinds so she can represent the other side there of the communications shop. michael, how -- what has this done where the challenges of your job are concerned? like compared to a good day in maybe another administration? >> well, look, i mean, let's not paint the previous administration's completely, you know, innocent here. >> rights. >> we had our fights -- i mean, i covered all eight years of obama and i had many, many fights in that room back and forth with various press secretaries.
nicole certainly knows what it's like to be on the other side in that room. it can get tense. there's a back and forth that always happens. i think the thing that's so striking and it goes to what you guys were talking about earlier today -- is that there is some basic level of trust that you have to have as a reporter and spokesperson. i think my kind of reaction to sara today was the culmination of a couple of days of frustration where we saw the stories just changing. and we all were sitting in that briefing room really understanding in our core that what they were telling us about the reasons for why the president fired jim comey didn't make any sense. they didn't make any sense for them from their perspective. so when you get down to what is at the end of the day a kind of little fact about did sara talk to countless numbers of fbi agents or not? it just seems like a ridiculous thing and a ridiculous thing to say. and it just felt like it needed to be challenged.
>> and nicole, tonight, still i saw trump surrogates on the air talking about how mean comey had been to hillary clinton on the subject of e-mails. like they need to update their memos. >> i used to talk elizabeth miller, peter baker, white house corresponds covering bush. the fights we used to have were about -- i think what michael was trying to do was challenge the veracity of her assertion that she'd heard from countless fbi agents. i don't know how she'd know countless fbi agents. i know a little more than a dozen and i reached out to all of them and every one of them was and is loyal to jim comey. so it's sort of odd that she found countless that were thrilled that he'd been fired. i only know a little more than a dozen. when you lose the ability to speak with credibility from behind the podium, you're supposed to leave the podium. and i don't know how they're expected to do their job when
one, they don't check with the president on the way to the briefing room, two, the president undermines and throws them under the bus as does this politico story we talked about. everyone's willing to throw the press up under the bus. they're brought in an hour before a major announcement. and again, i'm not speaking from some place on high. we have plenty of critics in the press and out. i was never sent out to lie. if i had, i would have quit. >> yeah. michael, i was going to say i covered the clinton years with mike mccurry at that podium. sitting in the front row, at least you got the feeling that he was not cents in that room to lie and was not trying to bat questions away but was doing level best to pay forward good information. about the personalities, and it ask this because it's jermaine, we're talking about sara huck by sanders who's had two days in the slot because sean spicer is doing service. she's back tomorrow and i can't
believe i'm saying this. melissa mccarthy is host on saturday night live this weekend. but it's jermaine. >> i think that's partly the times we're living in. media people become personalities in a way they haven't been in past administrations, so i think in some ways that's just destined to happen. clearly, one of the things that characterized the beginning of this administration, the first few months was these outsighed overdone, sense of chaos, the sense of the intensity that turned sean spicer, let's face it, from a guy we all knew as sort of a run of the mill washington republican communicator into a kind of household name that is mocked -- who is mocked on saturday night live. that's something that doesn't usually happen. i can't imagine nicole felt like she had become that necessarily, very quickly, at least. so -- >> i feel like -- yeah, your point is taken.
>> i think just to make one last point here. i think that i have a little bit of sympathy for sean and sara and everybody else in that administration who isn't donald trump. at the end of the day donald trump is driving this train. he's the guy, remember that remarkable press conference in the east room earlier in the year where he just sort of decided that he wasn't getting good enough press and had this 77-minute press conference that none of his aides had planned for even a couple hours before. he's the only one who thinks he can get decent press, so he's never satisfied with anything anybody else can say for him and that's got to be frustrating. >> what has been a great period, michael sheer is one of the great bylines to look for on a daily basis. >> thank you. >> nicole wallace, we'lling look at you for p.m. tomorrow from this very studio.
it's clear to me now more than ever that an independent special counsel must be appointed. >> there is no question that an independent special prosecutor must be appointed. >> we need to have a special prosecutor. >> i call upon republicans of conscious to stand up and join the call for a special prosecutor. >> a special prosecutor should now be appointed to conduct the investigation into the trump campaign's ties to russia. >> more on the mixture of terminology we just heard there in a moment. democrats argue the president's firing of james comey is just the latest reason why, as you may have heard, we need a special prosecutor to look into russian interference in the election and then some. i want to bring into the conversation tonight a former u.s. attorney for the district of the state of new jersey, paul fishman. he was in that lowell until president trump asked for the rez ig nations of 46 u.s. attorneys back in march. counsel oar, thank you very much for coming in. let's start with this. we saw a mixture of three -- >> four terms. >> people ask me the difference between special counsel, special prosecutor, independent counsel and int pent special counsel.
how do we delineate these? >> i think it's maybe because we've had all those different flavors over the last 30 or 40 years, brian. what people tend to think of independent counsels, they tend to think of the statue that was in effect for 20 years or so in the 1980s and 1990s which led to kent star investigating whites water. that was a statue passed by congress that provided that the attorney general or the acting attorney general went to a three judge court and asked for a special counsel. >> just a good lawyer that they knew of? >> a lawyer they knew of. ken starr, flrp a whole bunch of them during the reagan and bush administration and the clinton administration. that statue expired in 1999. lt at the end of the day there were a lot of people dissatisfied with the way the statue operated. congress never reenact another stauchlt instead, the justice department itself promulgated regulations that provide that the attorney general or if the attorney general is recused as
he is in this particular instance. >> right. >> -- the deputy attorney general can himself appoint a special counsel, as it's called in the regulations. under that rubric, the deputy attorney general himself in this case would pick a special counsel from outside the government, somebody who the regulations prescribe has to be someone of great integrity and experience and the like. in this case deputy attorney general rosenstein would give the jurisdictional statement to that person and say here's what i'm asking you to investigate. these people or these things. and that's how it would work. >> they'd have subpoena power and all those broad powers? >> that person would have all the power that the united states attorney or any other senior justice official would have to conduct those investigations. the there's a third one that's not actually written in the regulations. it's the one ironically that jim comey himself used when he was the deputy attorney general to appoint pat fitzgerald to investigate the scooter libby
events in 2003. >> the chicago lawyer, right? >> he was the u.s. toernl in chicago. rather than being somebody from outside the government comey -- and he and jim comey had been assistance u.s. attorneys together in the southern district of new york earlier. they were friends. he trusted pat fitzgerald. he brought him in not under the regs as a special counsel but called him a special counsel and gave him all the authority the attorney general himself would have had. which is broader than the regulation. >> i'm going to ask a lawyer for an explanation in 30 seconds. what's the triggering mechanism? does it have to come out of justice? can the u.s. senate decide on a person? >> i don't think that they can. i think the only provision is that the department of justice itself conveys the authority. le. >> paul fishman former u.s. attorney in new jersey. thank you very much. you've helped to clarify this. we may call upon you again to do
i think we were absolutely given the information that we could have at that time. it was a quick moving process. >> and would you say that that information was accurate then or is nor accurate now? >> i would say that after having a conversation with the president, you don't get much more accurate than that. >> welcome back to the 11th hour. the question of whether the white house press corps and the american people can trust the word of the press secretary came up today. here is more of that exchange between sara sanders and major garrett. >> should reporters and the country essentially wait for a pronouncement from the president before believing that which is stated on his behalf by the
white house communications staff? >> look, major, i'm not going to get into back-and-forth that we have to have like a direct quote every single time. you guys want to get lost in the process -- >> i don't think a question and giving an answer is lost in the process, sara, with all respect. >> and i'm answering those questions. it's very simple. the president decided to fire director comey. nobody else gets to make that decision, and he made it. he stangds by it. as do the rest of it. >> lisa bring in our guest former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, rick stengel, who also happens to be former managing editor of time magazine. and our friend historian presidential biographer and author, john meech ham comes back on the broadcast with us. john, i'll ginl with you. major garrett is a good guy and
a solid journalist and was not being facetious when he said do we have to wait for the president's pro noumt. you and i have talked before about this president who lacks a baseline of history in the presidency that politicians with their eyes on this prize all their eyes on have. it's nobody's fault he came from a different world. is that also -- does that translate into not knowing that there are certain riles, moreas and laws that sometimes govern your comments? >> well, president trump is like all of us, to some extent, a prison of his own experience. this is a man who has been reported actually prethe ended to be his own spokesman in the tabloid years. >> john miller. >> john miller and john bare ron. so i think when the history of the trump administration is written, there are going to be a couple of really important historical figures who are anti-seedents here. one is joe kohn who tutored
trump in the art of changing the story, going for the headline, fighting wars in the tabloids. the other is rupert murdock who helped create that culture in the modern era in new york, and up think that essentially, what we're seeing -- and rick has been in this position when he's serveging the country -- there is this -- to use an old watergate phrase, there is this enormous credibility gap. one parenthetical prumplt has explained why he did it but will that be the explanation tomorrow? >> right. and rick, the reason it's important to believe that podium and the person standing behind it is tomorrow's briefing, god forbid, may be about a u.s. military action we have taken overnight overseas. and we may have to detail the satellite evidence that led us to make that decision. its has to be believable just as every word from that podium has to be believable. >> yes, but i would say that with all due respect to major garrett, the question is a
little bit disingenuous in the sense that nobody has the reality the way the president himself has the reality, whether he re-arranges it or not. every time you're up at that podium you're trying to translate something that you know that's imperfect in a way that at least is plausible and truthful to the people sitting there. i mean,ity think somebody mentioned mike mccurry earlier. >> that was me. >> who -- yes. who i think set the standard for best press secretary. he had the phrase what's your job. my job is to tell the truth, slowly. >> that's right. he was adept at that.
>> some of that is because you know things that you can't say, how can you say things that you know that are truthful with -- and be able to protect your boss, the president, and be able to protect the american people and that's something when you're in government all the time, things that you just can't talk about. but you can't be untruthful, either. >> john meacham, you have spent time with this president. in the life of presidents, the great thing about being historian is most of the modern era presidents have had p historians in because they're into your line of work and the books you've written and they've read them and want to discuss them. without sharing what you can shair about private sometime you've spent with this president, what tratsz have you reflected back on watching him these past just few days? >> i declare i haven't spoken directly with president trump i think since june or july of last year, so that should be clear. but i think what we see here is he is self-aware in this sense. when i ask him in that series of questions for rick's alma mater for time last summer, it was
about were there a -- kwr there analogous figures in his mind, were there case studies in his mind about different presidents as he prepared for the presidency and we ended up talking about babe ruth and lydia ko, the great asian american golfer. babe ruth had been asked according to trump, hey, babe, how do you hit the long ball? and ruth said i don't know. i just swing at it. and trump said i just swing at it. and lydia ko was asked how do you hit your shots and she said i don't know. i just hit the ball. thaerls no lucy and the football here. he is a gut player. it's instiktdive, and he is totally convinced that he can bully his way through almost any situation, and why wouldn't you believe that if you had his life experience and you were the president of the united states. >> only man who can quote lydia ko and charles schultz in the same paragraph. >> by the way, you leave out the fact -- despite john's long resume -- that he was editor of news week. >> i don't want to get into these petty competition between you guys. >> our competition is over. >> give me 30 seconds on a great period for journalism even if the paper form may not be what it used to be.
>> i think it is a great period of journal. >> give me 30 seconds on a great period for journalism even if the paper form may not be what it used to be. >> i think it is a great period of journal. now. there's a great topic to cover, but i think journalists also feel like they have a real mission now. there's a great challenge. the fact you've been talking all night about you have a president who prevaricates by his very nature, that's a challenge to everybody in the fifth estate and people are rising to that challenge and i'm proud of them and rooting them on. >> a starter reading list for book buyers watching tonight. by meacham's biography of george hw bush, stengel's by og fi of nelson mandella. gentlemen, thank you both very much for coming on tonight.
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it only takes a minute to take care of yourself, and nothing rhymes with "org"... welcome back. the night before firing fbi director comey, president trump invited time magazine for dinner at the white house. it was a charm offense to be sure, as the president touted his achievements. showed off of tivo and said at one point, watch them start to choke like dogs. they are desperate for breath. it's all part of a fascinating cover story. came out just today in time magazine titled "donald trump after hours." i'm joined by the co-author zeke miller white house correspondent for time. let's talk about the division aspect. it comes roaring through your journalism, a piece i could not
stop reading today. in almost a kuczynski-chauncey-gardner way, writ large and updated, it truly is how he takes in the world. and his tivo remote is his passport to the world. >> yeah. that's certainly true as he was pulling up that hearing on monday that clapper-sally yates hearing. he had it child in for us to come in and he was going to hit play. he had to go h go scrolling through the archives. we were able to see bits of tivo clips from several weeks back of cable news shows that he had been watching and saving for other such opportunities. and it was almost like watching your favorite football team on sunday. otherwise because he's living
the life of bachelor with his wife and son here in new york while he pursues his skoomg, this president's kind of banging around in that big old house every night, is he not? sunday. otherwise because he's living the life of bachelor with his wife and son here in new york while he pursues his skoomg, this president's kind of banging around in that big old house every night, is he not? >> yeah. every president sort of adapts to the building somewhat
differently with the first lady and bare ron trump in new york, the president is essentially all alone in that 20,000 square foot mansion all alone most nights. the reason we wanted to tell this story was he doesn't sleep very much at night. he spends 10, 11 hours a day in the west wing. what does he do with the rest of his time? we wanted to tell that side of the story. he hosts these dinners just about every night, in this case for reportsers, but ceos, political supporters, cabinet secretaries, white house staffers, some combination therein. he'll give them a tour of the residence level, show them the lincoln bedroom, show them other parts of the the white house, engage them in discussion and retire upstairs to make phone calls. it is sort of an odd experience right now where did -- in our immediate past experience president barack obama had that
sort of >> did he seem happy to >> did he seem happy to share all this with you? >> he seemed very happy. he is the ultimate host in a lot of ways. the vice president who is also at dinner wednesday, one of the things that he most admires about the president is his sense of hospitality. this is not obviously done in a vacuum. this is the president trying to get his message across, trying to essentially butter up a bunch of reporters to get a story that serves his message.
but also, in a lot of ways this is analogous to his career as a condo developer. he is trying to build up an artifice, put on a great show, put on the best for sure for the thing he is selling, in this case it's his presidency. and one of the things that came through and was striking for us i know on monday night was his sense that he wasn't able to connect with the voters. he kept going back to all i want to do is cut taxes, get health care reform done, and then they'll like me. except they don't like me and therefore i have to fight. it was very odd that kept copping through throughout the interview. >> hope he doesn't think about building condos out on the backyard. zeke miller, thank you so much. and what a great account you have written in the issue of "time" magazine that just came out today. thank you so much for being with us. coming up after our final break, new reporting during this broadcast on that comey-trump dinner. we're back with that right after this.
from the website of nbc news, i've just been handed some great reporting by ken delaney and pete williams. it's a narrative of the trump-comey din they're the president kind of indicated might have been requested by comey who wanted to stay on in the job beside being four years into a ten-year term.
here is the first quote. the january dinner meeting between the two men the sources said was requested by the white house. and the former senior fbi official said comey would never have told the president he was not under investigation. that contradicts what the president said. quote, he tried to stay away from it, the russian ties investigation, says this former official of comey, who worked closely with comey. keeps in touch with him. he would say, look, sir, i really can't get into it. and you don't want me to on the subject of russia. here is another quote. the president is not correct, this former official said. the white house called him, comey, out of the blue. comey didn't want to do the dinner. he didn't even want the rank and file at the fbi to know about it. but in the end, he, the president is still the commander in chief. he is your boss. how do you say no? another great piece of reporting that will now be part of
tomorrow's news agenda. that does it for our broadcast here tonight. thank you for being here with us. good night from new york. i was going to fire comey. there is no good time to do it. >> are you angry with mr. comey because of his russia investigation? >> i just want somebody who is competent. i'm a big fan of the fbi. >> did you ask him to drop the investigation? >> no, never. >> did anyone from the white house? no. in fact, i want the investigation speeded up. >> president trump sits down for his first interview since firing fbi director, james comey. there are new questions about the timeline. >> the new acting fbi
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