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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  May 18, 2017 11:00pm-12:01am PDT

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there and beat up on these peaceful demonstrators, and i think it should have repercussions including identifying these people and bringing charges against them. >> two members of the turkish security detail were briefly detained but they were let go because of international diplomatic immunity. that is tonight's last word. "the 11th hour with brian williams" is next. tonight, a defiant donald trump calling the newly named ecial counsel a witch-hunt. did he just change his story again about why and when he fired the fbi director. also, new reporting tonight on just how unsettled comey was about donald trump after the president's repeated contact with the fbi director. and was mike pence really in the dark about everything that was potentially damaging? tonight how some conservatives view the vp these days, as "the 11th hour" gets underway.
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good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york. in the waning minutes this day, 119 of the trump administration, we are thinking about that famous sequence in the godfather when michael corleone extracts his revenge. in a way, in slow motion and absent the bloodshed and violence, right now it feels like james comey may be extracting his, thanks to loyalists around him and what they are sharing over time with journalists. there is another "new york times" article tonight about james comey. and it again mentions the memos he meticulously wrote after each encounter with president trump. the headline is this. comey unsettled by trump is said to have wanted him kept at a distance. among other things, it says, quote, president trump called the fbi director james b. comey weeks after he took office and asked him when federal authorities were going to put out word that mr. trump was not
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personally under investigation, according to two people briefed on the call. mr. comey told the president that if he wanted to know details about the bureau's investigations, he should not contact him directly. after explaining to mr. trump how communications with the fbi should work, mr. comey believed he had effectively drawn the line. after a series of encounters he had with the president and other white house officials that he felt jeopardized the fbi's independence. if there is anything approaching comic relief in this new piece by michael schmidt, it involves the following scene that since the comey news broke has been airing like wall paper all over cable news. >> oh, and there's -- he's become more famous than me. [ applause ] >> now the back story can be told. a friend of comey's told the
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times comey wore a blue suit for the reception in the blue room and quote tried to blend in with the blue curtains in the back of the room in hopes that mr. trump would not spot him and call him out. as his friend tells the story, the 6'8" comey amibling across the room wanted to avoid a hug with the president so he went in for the long armed handshake and stuck with it even as the president drew him in. also today with a press conference with the president of colombia, we got president trump's first on-camera reaction to the naming of a special counsel in the russia investigation. >> was this the right move or is this part of a witch-hunt? >> well, i respect the move but the entire thing has been a witch-hunt. and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign. but i can always speak for
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myself and the russians. zero. i think it divides the country. >> did you at any time advise comey to back down or close -- >> no, no. next question. >> the president on the phone calling this the quote single greatest witch-hunt of a politician in american history also threw a wrench into both the time line and the white house explanation surrounding the firing of one james comey today. after comey was fired on may 9, the white house repeatedly cited this three-page letter from deputy attorney general rod rosenstein saying in effect comey had been mean to hillary over the case involving her e-mails. then speaking to nbc news last week, the president admitted that, actually, he decided to fire comey before getting that memo. well, fast forward to today, and senators on the hill had a briefing with the deputy a.g. mr. rosenstein, who confirmed,
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yes, the president had decided to fire james comey before he wrote that three-page memo last week. >> he did acknowledge that he learned comey would be removed prior to him writing his memo. >> say that again. he knew -- he what? >> he knew that comey was going to be removed prior to him writing his memo. >> based on what you heard today, sir, do you believe that the deputy attorney general knew before he wrote that memo that james comey was going to be fired? >> yes. >> what was it that he said that led you to believe it? >> he knew the day before. >> across town and just minutes after that, at the press conference, the president was back to suggesting the deputy attorney general's recommendation was a factor in his decision to fire comey. >> director comey was very unpopular with most people. i actually thought when i made that decision. and i also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you
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know, from the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, that he had the very poor performance on wednesday. that was a poor, poor performance. so poor, in fact, that i believe, and you would have to ask him, because i don't like to speak for other people, but i believe that's why the deputy attorney general went out and wrote his very, very strong letter. >> the president today also felt compelled to reassure americans that this country is indeed his priority. >> believe me this, no collusion. russia is fine. but whether it's russia or anybody else, my total priority, believe me, is the united states of america. >> let's bringn our arting panel tonight, senior foreign affairs correspondent for politico michael crowley is with us. senior politics reporter for usa today is with us. and white house reporter for
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"the wall street journal" eli stokols is with us. eli, i'm going to begin with you. full disclosure. i do believe there is a line in "the godfather" for any circumstance in life. >> of course. >> having said that, is there any doubt that what we are witnesses, absent the violence, and in slow motion, is james comey's revenge? >> no, there is no doubt at all. i mean you can also imagine it as, you know a horror movie where the hand reaches from the grave to claim more victims. of course, comey is still very much with us in this world and will be telling stories one way or another for many months to come. we may not have the benefit of hearing him speak publicly because now the appointment of a special prosecutor as senators were saying on capitol hill today probably means fewer if any public hearings in congress. people who want to see comey in front of the camera tell the story in his own voice may not get that. but it's very clear that comey
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thinks that this is a rotten situation. he -- you really pick up a sense of personal diusin these sort of secondhand accounts we have been getting through a close friend. and he is not going away. he is not going to go easy on donald trump. and i would have a pit in my stomach if i were donald trump tonight about this. >> eli, our friend phil rucker over at "the washington post" wrote the following about mueller last night. stay with me here. he says mueller is just the kind of guy who gets under trump's skin. straight arrow, apolitical, studious, prudent, patricean. let's see how this goes in reading that, i realize because there are so many similarities between mueller and comey and hearing from intimates that the president is puzzled by the kind of personality and intellect that really would take notes like that and put memoranda in the file to memorialize a dinner
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conversation, this is confounding to the president? >> it's completely opposed to how the president handles his own business. you have a meticulous fbi director who takes notes on everything. i think that is sort of standard within the bureau. everything is written down. here you have a president in the oval office who just kind of wings it, and who picks up the phone, calls people, who has this amazing sort of myopia and lack of foresight here. and so you see it in him picking up the phone and calling comey and wanting to just chitchat, as a comey associate describes tonight. you see him, you know, continuing to reach out to michael flynn even though he continues to be at the center of this investigation. just these things that are not very well thought out, and this president either doesn't have the self-control or perhaps the understanding that these are things that you should not be doing. and it just -- you can understand why this is not going so well. i think everybody understands it except perhaps the president who
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has always sort of, you know, never had checks and balances, had a bunch of people surrounding him in a smallish organization who would always say yes to him. and now he has this massive federal government, all these checks and balances on his own power and he is sort of unabashedly confounded and perplexed by why all this is happening. it's really sort of stunning to behold. >> heidi, everyone believes the president said what he said today probably against better guidance by people in the west wing. but he said what he said today, including fact that he thinks this is bad for democracy. another little chipping away of one of the pillars of american life. and what did you make of his on camera comment? there was great hunger to hear from him about the special counsel. >> it was another alternative facts news conference where he made a number of misstatement, for example, that comey didn't have the support within the fbi. but i thought the most damaging
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thing today was that he went ahead and once again changed his story about why -- the sequence of why comey was fired, which just as he was doing that across the capitol, rod rosenstein was having that private briefing for senators. and the number one thing, brian, that those senators wanted to establish was that time line. and they got it. they got rod rosenstein to acknowledge that he was essentially told to create that memo justifying comey's dismissal. i sat down a couple days ago with senorurbin who you just showed on camera who said look we think this guy was set up. i remember talking to him in his confirmation hearings, and he was essentially blank slate who had a lot of support from both sides of the aisle. within a couple of weeks he is having this entire saga hung around his neck and being essentially set up as the guy who dismissed the fbi director. and so here you have another
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building block for that argument that the president was essentially trying to yank or stanch this investigation, whether it's obstruction or just trying to stop the investigation cold. >> michael, how about the unanimity on mueller? i didn't see one person today stand up and say wrong guy, he's a hack, he can be bought, he's a patsy. and also the emergence of joe lieberman, tell us what you know about that, as potential fbi director? >> joe lieberman kind of coming back from, you know, political -- i don't know if it's exile, but having been out of the picture for a while, a long time democratic senator from connecticut who was al gore's vice presidential running mate in 2000. i think no one could have foreseen the path that he followed after that election defeat in 2000. then he was i believe beaten in a democratic primary in nnecticut.
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ran as an independent -- by the way, ran for president himself as a democrat. i won't go through his whole story. a lot of democrats don't like him anymore. would not have predicted he would be the front-runner to be the next fbi director for donald trump of all people. trump says lieberman is likely to be his guy. i think there is going to be a contrast there although lieberman has a record of integrity. i don't think people have questioned his ethics in any way. he is a politically controversial figure as compared to or in contrast as you say to mueller, who is really the consummate law enforcement, you know, professional. who just has this spotless record. people respect him personally. and it's bad news for trump. i mean the people that trump is up against right now in comey and mueller, i know that comey really upset a lot of democrats during the election. but i think that particularly when we are seeing the way he has acted so professionally in the last few months, taking
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these notes, making sure that he was documenting what he perceived to be interference from the white house -- he and mueller make for really bad foils for trump. trump does not look good compared to these two men who seem to be so buttoned down, have a lot of integrity, and it's going to be a tough battle for trump to survive against them. >> eli, there is a story a day about a coming white house west wing staff shakeup. today the story that seemed to be picking up currency is that sean spicer will be backed away from being the face of the press shop, backed away from the daily press briefings. but in short, what must it be like in in a west wing right now? >> as one person said it is a miserable working environment. it is not any fun. there are people sending out resumes already thinking about their next job and whether they will be able to get another job after working in this white house. i think that's probably the plan in terms of you know doing the briefings less frequently, pulling sean spicer back as the public face, perhaps
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contemplating bringing in some new people, spokespeople for the white house over time, but you know, this president really does believe he is his own best messenger. i think we've seen evidence that supports that and that doesn't support that. depends on, you know, the hour of the day. but, you know, at the end of the day this is an administration that wants to blame its communications shop, a president that wants to blame its messaging arm when really, it's not the mentaling. it's what's he doing, the mixed messages he is sending and the controversial and very ill-advised behaviors that he is engaging in that is getting this white house into trouble. i doesn't really matter who you bring in. some of these things anybody is going to have a very difficult time defending. >> finally, heidi to a subject you have just written about. and that is what's it like being an elected republican on capitol hill these days? >> hide and seek. you know, i was up there yesterday. and all the -- even the republicans who said they would
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support an independent counsel kind of hid on this vote. there was a procedure vote that would actually create an independent commission. and they all declined to even take a vote. look, this is -- i can't imagine anybody who is in a more difficult position right now than members like barbara comstock in viinia or somef these new jersey republicans. they are right now not calculating the best political route but the least worst choice because if they go against trump right now, they might risk a backlash from their base. but if this is going the way that we think it is, they are going to get hurt no matter what. if the president's numbers go down as this investigation unfolds, the entire party is going to be hurt and they will be punished even harder for sticking with him and not taking a principled stand. for the meantime they are just trying to parse it a bit and not come out too strongly and say yeah in theory i'd be for an independent commission even though when they were given the
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chance to vote for it on a procedural vote this week none of them did it. there was one member, walter jones, of north carolina. >> thank you so much. three of our veterans, three of our very best, for starting us off tonight. mad dog, heidi, and eli, we appreciate you all coming on. our first break here this evening. with all this talk about the president hiring a lawyer of his own, president bill clinton's attorney will join us as "the 11th hour" continues. finding time to get things done isn't easy.
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but we've got the digital tools to help. now with xfinity's my account, you can figure things out easily, so you won't even have to call us. change your wifi password to something you can actually remember, instantly. add that premium channel, and watch the show everyone's talking about, tonight. and the bill you need to pay? do it in seconds. because we should fit into your life, not the other way around. go to i think a lot of members want the special counsel to be appointed but don't understand
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that you are pretty well knocked out of the game. and that's probably the way it should be. >> senator lindsey graham telling reporters it's not just the average american who is having a hard time understanding how a special counsel will work it's members of the senate as well. graham, who is a former prosecutor in the u.s. air force, by the way, then went on to try to answer some of the biggest questions about what this means for the investigations that are already rolling and underway. >> what does that mean for the congress? i find it hard to subpoena records of somebody like mr. flynn who may be subject to a criminal investigation because he has a right not to incriminate himself. as to mr. comey, the former director of the fbi, coming before the committee, if i were mr. mueller, i would jealously guard the witness pool. one of the big losers in this decision the public. i think the biggest legal change seems to be that mr. mueller is
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going to proceed forward with the idea of a criminal investigation versus a counter-intelligence investigation. >> does that mean the judiciary committee won't be able to get the memos that were requested yesterday? >> i think mr. mueller will tell us what we can get and what we can't. clinton hired an individual lawyer to deal with all things related to ken starr so the white house could conduct its business. if i were the president, i would focus on defending the nation and trying to get his legislative agenda through. >> credit to howard fineman for a cameo appearance there. b bennett was clton's attorney through the paula jones anmonica lewinsky scandals he has represented a number of other high profile clients and is a former federal prosecutor himself. also with us matthew miller former chiefs spokesman for the department of justice and msnbc security analyst. well, counselor, iowa heard it said over the past 48 hours especially, the president needs
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to lawyer up because the white house counsel only represents the institution of the white house. he needs a lawyer, people say, to protect him from himself. he needs to learn there are no toss-off side comments anymore, that everything counts. people are paying attention and writing it down. so having said that, if he were to hire you, what would your advice be starting day one to this president? >> well, i -- i would tell the president to focus on the affairs of the country and let -- let his personal lawyer handle those things which are more of a personal nature and let white house counsel handle the institution of the presidency. one very important point is if a president hires a personal lawyer, whatever is said between them is privileged.
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that is not necessarily the case between the president and white house counsel. >> so can he -- he can start this process. if he hires -- let's say he has hired a lawyer by this weekend, certainly by his return from this overseas trip. does that lawyer reach out to mueller and say i'm here, i'm signed up, i'm going to represent the president personally? and does that begin a dialogue or only when absolutely necessary? >> well, i don't think you would have to reach out. i think if the president hired a lawyer, that would be all over the news. so mueller would know very quickly. you probably would not initiate it. mueller, who i know very well, would know you are there and at the point in time he felt that he wanted to talk to you, you
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he would let you know. there could be some specific issues that you might want to initiate with mr. mueller. but generally, there will be no secrets as to whether the president has a lawyer. >> matt, a question to you about this procedure, if you can answer it. all we're hearing about mr. mueller is deliberative, hates leaks, likes to hire his own staff. he has already hired two people familiar to him to start off and get office space and get going. and we are also hearing that this will take months, it could take years. and at the end, probably in a non-ashy way he will issue a report. what if along the way he comes up with something that he deems urgent, a clear and present danger, something that the american lawmakers and maybe the american public should know?
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is there a mechanism for him to raise his hand and say, i have to step out of my investigation -- i'm still going to do that report, but this needs to become public or this needs to be known right away? >> you know, it's a great question. it really is a hard one to answer because this investigation, if it goes to the president of the united states, wouldn't follow usual doj criminal procedures. so for everyone but the president, if you find something in the middle of his investigation -- say if it was that someone was compromised that was close to the president, the justice department might go to the white house like they did with michael flynn and say look there is someone in the white house that shouldn't be there, you need to take disciplinary action or take action to remove them. if there is a criminal matter, they continue to pursue a criminal investigation up until the time they are ready to indict. if it's something that involves the president himself we get to the point where the doj can't indict a sitting president. so you have this question. let's say mueller gets to the end of his investigation. he's found that he believes the
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president has obstructed justice. this is obviously a hypothetical. but he is not ready to bring criminal charges because he doesn't think he has the authority to do that. he may then want to refer everything he has to congress for congress to take action on an impeachment proceeding there is no precedent for that. there is no mechanism for that, there is nothing in doj rule or procedure for that. but i think mueller would see that likely as his duty to do. >> mr. bennett, go ahead. >> brian, i think that people are moving much too quickly and inferentially suggesting that the president is under criminal investigation. i heard several reports and read articles about he's a special prosecutor. that's just not the case. he is a special counsel who is going to investigate the facts. and if the president did nothing wrong, and at this point there is no evidence i've seen on the
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record that he did anything criminal, you couldn't have a better person investigating you than bob mueller. i know -- -- >> does the president need a lawyer? >> i think it's advisable for him to have a lawyer so there is someone he can talk to that he has a privilege with. i think mr. trump, president trump, is in the bermuda triangle of congress and the justice department and the media and congress and he needs -- i do believe he needs someone who knows how to navigate through all of those things. and i don't think his support staff at this point has that kind of experience. you know, it's not just the words that are spoken, but it's the music of this town.
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and he's not of this town. so he should have the benefit of that advice. >> matthew, i'm not the first person to say this in front of bob bennett, but there is a optic that doesn't look good and people don't like saying, you should lawyer up, or i've just hired a lawyer. you have got to get over that, i guess. and that moment is probably coming for this president, correct? >> yeah, that's right. i mean, if nothing else, you look at some of the things the president has done, his conversations with the fbi director that were advisable, completely inappropriate. his tweets that have, you know -- the kinds of things no lawyer would tell you to do. >> it all counts. >> this report today that he encouraged -- you know, he sent a private message to mike flynn. if don mcgahn is telling him not to do these things -- we don't know that, but we would assume he is. the president is not listening to him. so the president needs to get a lawyer that he'll listen to and someone that will advise him to stop doing these things that are
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hurting him politically and legally, and someone whose advice he'll take. >> thank you for participating in this conversation. coming up after our next break, new reporting tonight on just what vice president mike pence knew or didn't know about the flynn issues, when we continue. does your makeup remover take it all off? every kiss-proof, cry-proof, stay-proof look? neutrogena® makeup remover does. it erases 99% of your most stubborn makeup with one towelette. need any more proof than that? neutrogena.
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welcome back to "the 11th hour." it's a question we have asked repeatedly on this broadcast, why such devotion from the president for his former
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national security adviser mike flynn. what is it? today, yahoo published a report that flynn says he got a message from the president late last month to quote, stay strong. and the daily beast reporting that trump had to talk flynn into taking a white house job and hopes flynn can it later return to yet another white house role. adding to the palace intrigue today questions about how much mike pence was kept in the dark on flynn's transgressions. officially, the white house has denied yesterday's "new york times" story that the trump transition team knew flynn was under investigation as early as january 4th. but a source tells nbc news pence knew nothing about any of this, citing a potential pattern of not informing the vice president and calling that pattern, malpractice or intentional. either are unacceptable. we welcome back to the broadcast, and let's bring in our panel, msnbc anchor and
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co-host and exactly 50% of the new velshi and ruhle, which will premier on this network 12:30 eastern. ali velshi and matthew nubalm, white house reporter for politico whose late piece got our attention. conservatives begin to whisper "president pence". >> i think it's the worst kept secret in washington that for many republicans they would rather mike pence be the president than donald trump. for the first time since that access hollywood tape famously came out during the campaign that actually feels like a possibility even though it's far flung. however, these problems that pence is having that you just brought up, this what did he know, when did he know it -- he has either been kept in the dark or been delivering misleading statements. neither one looks good from his perspective means there is
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troubles on the horizon for him. still, compared to donald trump, he's many republicans' dream. >> matthew you can understand that quote that nbc got from a west wing official. and that is if he was kept in the dark, well, that's just malpractice. the only thing worse is if he wasn't and learned all of this stuff, because that goes on his permanent record, and it's very possible a whole lot of attention is about to be laid on mike pence. >> exactly. and this notion that he was just repeatedly kept in the dark on these extremely sensitive matters around the national security adviser is kind of absurd. i mean i've spoken to people in pence's circle. that's the message they are pushing. look, he didn't know about this. the white house is still saying that trump wasn't informed about this flynn turkish lobbying deal. but how many times can pence go out there and make statements that turn out later not to be true or to be very dubious, and just get a pass on oh, well, maybe he wasn't told about it? something is not ringing true
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there. >> ali velshi, to a more fundamental question. we asked this on the broadcast last night and probably the night before. what is it about trump and flynn? what is it? >> we are not even two years into this relationship which is odd. they met in summer of 2015. what may be working in donald trump's favor is that we are not sure how he treats those around him. he used some people conveniently, jim comey comes to mind. chris christie. >> rudy giuliani. >> giuliani, but he is very loyal to mike flynn. we are not sure what this is all about. on one end you can say he is loyal to somebody that's good. on the other hand if this is true he was sending messages to mike flynn saying stay strong, convincing mike flynn to take this job and flynn was reluctant to do so. the whole thing is a little bit odd but donald trump does want to keep a circle around him who he trusts. now that he is finding he doesn't trust those around him he is starting to bring in people from the old campaign circle. we are seeing names like corey lewandowski showing up at the white house again.
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donald trump is work working hard to surround himself with people who he thinks are loyal to him. and in his mind, michael flynn was one of those guys. >> matthew, that lewandowski story is a political story tonight. you mentioned him and a couple others who have reentered the circle. >> it's almost like a security blanket in some ways bringing back the old characters from earlier in the campaign. but it's not a good idea, many around trump, will say, to bring someone like corey lewandowski who was so much trouble during the campaign back into the picture. but we know donald trump likes to be in touch with these old hands, you know, according to reports he still talks on the phone with roger stone. so there are these characters who are a little unseemly who maybe aren't the healthiest for him to be still in contact with. but he likes -- he likes being in touch with them. as we know he sort of does what he wants. >> matt, are you going on the trip? >> i am not. two of my colleagues are. i'm going to get some rest. >> i don't know if that means
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you are the lucky one or not. thank you very much for participating on our broadcast tonight, especially concerning the piece you just filed. ali velshi of course as well. coming up amid the west wing chaos president trump set to leave town tomorrow on that eight-day trip. but ca he leave his problems far behind? we're back after this. tell your doctor about your medicines, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, or adempas® for pulmonary hypertension, as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. do not drink alcohol in excess. to avoid long-term injury, get medical help right away for an erection lasting more than four hours. if you have a sudden decrease or loss of hearing or vision, or an allergic reaction, stop taking cialis and get medical help right away. ask your doctor about cialis.
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and get medical help right away. why do people put why does your tummy go "grumbily, grumbily, grumbily"? no more questions for you! ouph, that milk in your cereal was messing with you, wasn't it? try lactaid, it's real milk without that annoying lactose. good, right? -mmm, yeah. lactaid. the milk that doesn't mess with you. this time tomorrow, president trump will be on air force one on his way to saudi arabia. it's his first stop in an eight-day trip across the the middle east and europe and his first trip abroad as leader as they say of the free world. he is leaving the country. can he leave this list of problems behind. ali velshi remains with us. and joining our conversation rick stengel, former undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs at the state department, who also happens to be the former managing editor of "time" magazine. extra germane because i'm going to show their cover. i know you don't run the place anymore. we also have an animated version
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this they put out today. the st. basil's cathedral in moscow overtaking the white house. that cover has a way of going around the world more times than people who purchase and read the magazine that will precede him as he goes overseas. rick, that plane means a lot when it lands in a place. >> it does. >> what's ahead here? >> that's a sensational cover by the way. and people around the world read the american newspapers. the ambassadors of those newspapers are reporting back saying what the heck is going on there? it's a very odd time to go. it should be a bit of a lay-up in terms of the kind of trip he is taking. going to saudi arabia, a long time ally, israel, a long time u.s. ally. he is seeing the pope. what could go wrong there. but it come at a difficult time. there is $109 billion of arms sales that's going to be announced that saudi arabia is doing, and something i started at the state department, a
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possible u.s./saudi counter isis messaging center is something that the president and the secretary of state will probably announce as well. >> well, we have our news tonight. ali, on to brussels, where there is a report out of nato that meeting are being trump-proofed, briefings are quick and illustration filled. >> right. and donald trump started his ole conversation about nat during the campaign was how nobody else pays their way. the u.s. is done with paying for all of ts. >> obsolete. >> and it's obsolete. so he has moved his messaging. mike pence went and visited with nato and said we are committed on nato. we are going to keep going on nato, but everybody should be paying their part. but this has been going on forever. americans other presidents have said everyone should pay their part. some say the mechanisms of nato are out of date and should be revisited but donald trump agreed nato is relevant if not foreign and nato agreed that we have got a u.s. president who is going to take us to task, better not get under his skin.
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>> rick, a tougher question. the government is full of potential briefers. the state department is full of experts. there is real concern this is a president subject to flattery wanting a close personal relationship after every encounter, that he could agree to things that he shouldn't. >> well, he is very transactional on the one hand. on the other hand he is susceptible to flattery and personal relationship. those two have nothing to do with policy. he feels if he can ingratiate himself with people, those people are going to figure out how to do that with him. and by the way, the saudis are going to do it. the israelis have already done it. the pope will do it in order to modulate some of the things that trump does i'm sure the pope is aghast at. >> to quote rick stengel, what could go wrong. gentlemen thank you for a great conversation tonight. ali velshi and rick stengel. up next, when generals are pulled into politics on live television. how h.r. mcmaster became the
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first line of defense for this president, when we continue.
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the question is simply a yes or no question here. did the president share classified information with the russians in that meeting? >> we don't say what's classified. what's not classified. what i will tell you again is what the president shared was wholly appropriate. >> national security adviser h.r. mcmaster defending president trump after reports the president had shared that classified intelligence with the russians in the oval office. mcmaster's carefully phrased defense prompted headlines containing tough words like tarnishing and corruption to criticize a three-star army general who when he replaced mike flynn was praised as an independent tough voice, one of the soldier scholars of his generation. with me a man who has known mcmaersk for years, retired four-star general barry mccaffrey, decorated combat
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veteran of vietnam, ground commander and commander in desert storm with government and military around the world. you know this guy, general. he, as a tank commander, he doesn't scare easily. but it was not without risk when they put him out front of this. >> you know, first all i have known him. i am an enormous admirer. he's independent. he's smart. he has a ph.d. he is a battlefield commander. he understands washington. he has a lot of standing in congress, surprisingly. he is talking to his commander in chief, he is an active duty three star general. i think what we can count on with h.r. and mattis and kelly is they'll never do anything illegal. on the other hand they are going to try and practically be loyal to the commander in chief. so that's a dilemma. >> he replaced general flynn, another three-star. you and i have talked about flynn on this broadcast over the months. and you said one of the best
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intelligence officers of his generation, but you went on to talk about other aspects of mike flynn. how is mike flynn looking to you these days? >> you know, i did see him in afghanistan and other places. he and stan mccrystal are a major reason why america didn't have multiple 9/11s. having said that, i actually brian, and this is strong words. i actually think there was a mental health problem there. when he was up there leading this chant of lock her up. when he retweeted a story about pedophiles in a pizza place -- >> generals don't do that. >> oh my god. actually, at the time i characterized it as commented talk. so i think there was, you know, he chased the white whale for years as jihadist. he got fired by the obama team. and i think there is something wrong with the way he is conducting himself. >> why the contacts? why the fascination with russia? and did he keep it from -- was he a fire wall between that and the boss? >> first of all, i would be
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astonished having worked in three white houses for the national security counsel if he wasn't back briefing the president-elect, back briefing the president of the united states. i cannot believe he wouldn't have gone in and said look, mr. president, i just talked to the ambassador. i think they were on full concert about that. i think he thought it was okay. look, these guys are willing to kill jihadists. the actions in chechnya and elsewhere have been brutal. he saw them as killers. i think he saw that as an asset to the anti-isis campaign. >> so he remains out there as a danger to this white house every day. >> it's simply hard to imagine how a white house -- if these reports i'm reading are true, how a white house would accept a guy under fbi investigation for possible malfeasance, and why is he still in contact with him. thminute he tweeted out the story about the pedophiles at that point he looked like a
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mental health problem. >> in 30 seconds. at do you see as the biggest risk of this overseas trip? what is the one stop on this trip that you think should take all the concentration of this president? >> look, these are three vitally important country visits to include the pope to pull off. the president of the united states in my opinion is badly educated on foreign policy and national security policy. he is impulsive and he is subject to being manipulated rather easily. a surprise for a new york businessman who are pretty astute and world aware. >> general barry mccaffrey, thank you for stopping by. always good to talk to you. we appreciate having you on the broadcast. our last break and coming up a story that would have gotten much more coverage and attention were it not for the white house headlines this week. we're back with it right after this.
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it's the last thing before we go tonight. it's not one of those feel good stories. rather, it's an ugly incident that did not get the coverage it deserved yesterday, in plain english, because of the bombshell of the special counsel. this scene unfolded in front of the turkish embassy in washington when security forces belonging to the turkish president erdogan attacked nonviolent protesters outside of the embassy on beautiful massachusetts avenue. d.c. police jumped in to stop it. they were among the injured. the thugs wearing suits kicking people on the ground, they were with erdogen. new pictures surfaced today showing erdogan getting out of the car and watching his guys go to work on the protesters. of course, president trump had just hosted him in the white house. but john mccain was not in a charitable mood when it came to erdogan when appearing on this network this morning.
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>> we should throw their ambassador the hell out of the united states of america. these are not just average people that did this beating. this is erdogan's security detail. somebody told them to go out there and beat up on these peaceful -- on these peaceful demonstrators. i think they should have repercussions, including identifying these people and bringing charges against them. after all, they violated american law. >> truth is if they were all part of the security detail they all had diplomatic immunity. two of those involved were briefly detained, and subsequently released, and the detail has since flown home to turkey. we learned today that turkish ambassador was at least summoned to the state department to talk to the under secretary of state. chalk it all up to the down side of hosting and normalizing strong men foreign leaders at the white house even if some of them are fellow members of nato. that is our broadcast for tonight. thank you as always for being
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here with us and good night from new york. questions? >> the president cries witch hunt. >> i respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt. >> donald trump directly contradicts his fired fbi director. >> did you at any time urge former fbi director james comey in any way, shape or form to close or back down the investigation into michael flynn? and also -- >> no. no. next question. >> tonight, as the president changes his story again, rod rosenstein briefs the senate and the obstruction case against the president grows. >> it's now considered a criminal investigation. then, new reporting from michael isikoff. why is president trump ignoring his lawyers and contacting michael flynn? new questions about whether the


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