tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC May 23, 2017 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
you. i never said that. you know, and the question then becomes how do we protect ourselves from our own president? how do we protect ourselves from our own president? how do we protect intelligence? how do we protect our allies? since donald trump seems determined to think of no one except donald trump. first, last, and every moment in between. elizabeth warren gets tonight's last word. you can see our entire interview with elizabeth warren on our website. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight, the president is apparently lawyering up. donald trump expected to retain a private attorney to represent him in the russia investigation. also, the cia's concerns. the former director shares his
worries from 2016 about the russian contacts with the campaign. while michael flynn is taking the fifth with the senate committee, now the senate committee has subpoenaed his company. and companies can't take the fifth. "the 11th hour" begins now. good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york. day 124 of the trump administration, and the president is hiring a lawyer. it comes less than a week after the department of justice appointed a special counsel to oversee the fbi russia investatn. sources familiar with the decision tell nbc news president trump is expected to retain marc kasowitz as private attorney on matters related to the russia investigation. kasowitz has represented trump in the past, including according to the "washington post," some of trump's divorce settlements and accusations of fraud against trump university. we also heard today from former
cia director john brennan, testifying before the house intelligence committee. early on in the proceedings, the question of russian collusion came up. >> having been involved in many counter-intelligence cases in the past, i know what the russians try to do. they try to suborn individuals. they try to get individuals including u.s. persons to act on their behave either wittingly or unwittingly. and i was worried by a number of the contacts the russians had with u.s. persons and so therefore, by the time i left office on january 20th, i had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the russians had been successful in getting u.s. persons involved in
the campaign or not to work on their behalf again either in a witting or unwitting fashion. i encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between russian officials and u.s. persons involved in the trump campaign. >> did you see evidence of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between donald trump and russian state actors? >> i saw information and intelligence that was worthy of investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not such cooperation or collusion was taking place. >> we also received word today that after michael flynn's attorney said he would invoke the fifth amendment in response to the senate intelligence committee's request for documents about his communications with russians, the chair and vice chair of that committee said they are now issuing subpoenas for flynn's business records. and as a sort of possible prebuttal, vice chairman warn er
has said the fifth amendment won't be a factor this time. >> we issued two s&ps to the two michael flynn businesses that we are aware, michael flynn intel, llc, and i think flynn intel, inc.. while we disagree with general flynn's lawyer's interpretations of taking the fifth. it is even more clear that a business does not have a right to take a fifth if it is a corporation. those subpoenas, one has been served, one is in the process of being served. and we keep all options on the table. we think the committee has moved forward aggressively. >> flynn's lawyers are saying their client is the subject of outrageous allegations. let's bring in our panel before we delay too much. nbc's mike vikara, who covered it all today on capitol hill. rick stengel is here with us again. former undersecretary for public diplomacy and affairs in the state deputy, the obama
administration. also the former editor of "time" magazine. and the host of deadline network. nicole i'm going to begin with you, i'm going quote you back to you from your broadcast today. you had a moment where you feared russia normalization. you quoted the cell phone commercial "can you hear me now" essentially to your fellow republics sang, let' remember what this conversation is about. >> right. i'm troubled by trey dowty who has had bright moments and has had low points. i mean we covered his stewardship of the benghazi hearing. and he has had highs and lows and in full view. but that he's making this such a narrow question to brennan about do you have evidence of a conspiracy? that's not the question. we know that russia set ott to meddle in our elections. we know they were successful in hacking the dnc and hacking hillary clinton's campaign advisors. it is really beyond my ability
to comprehend and excuse why republicans would become toadies for a white house that on the same day the front page of "the washington post" has a story that no one at the white house knocked down about how the president essentially wanted to enlist the chiefs of the two intelligence agencies in his pr rapid response effort to knock down and shut down comey's inquiry into russia ties. but that republicans still feel like it's their job and their work to narrow the question to do you have evidence of a conspiracy? well, no, not yet, but that wasn't my job as the head of the cia is what brennan was trying to say. i had evidence of contacts, so cked it overo law enforcement. and trump is the guy that fired the head othat agency. >> mike vikara, on capitol hill, tell us about the moving parts that were not necessarily on tv today and just reset.
we have house intel. we have senate intel. and notably, we just showed warner. as much as possible he tries to be side by side with burr, the republican chairman. very important to those two to appear as a duo. what kind of cohesion did we see, or lack of it on the house side today. >> certainly on the senate side you see richard burr and mark warner there. they are the grown ups in the room. there are four committees, senate judiciary, house oversight and house intel where john brennan appeared today. jim comey has chosen to give his testimony before senate intelligence, that of course coming sometime after the memorial day recess. the most detailed and extraordinary accounting from a top intelligence official. keep in mind that john brennan was in the cia more than 25 years. he served in the obama white house as the top adviser on counterterrorism.
he ended the obama term as the cia director. here he is sitting before the committee, the house intelligence committee, and i agree with nicole. republicans have a talking point, where is the evidence of collusion, they have asked time and time again. that's what they are going for, because they know that brennan is hamstrung in how much he can say. yet i think they got more than they bargained for today. brennan didn't name who they were, but u.s. persons involved in the trump campaign had contacts and interaction with russian officials. i mean, you can't get any innuendo or hence any stronger than that that where there is smoke there is perhaps fire. and republicans certainly have a cause to be concerned top. >> rick stengel, so the president now has a personal lawyer because the white house counsel really represents the institution of the white house. and you and i have had this discussion before, the kind of government worker ethos, the
career public official ethos, that if all these reports are true the president has bumped up against miscalculating the kinds of people perhaps that he was going to run into. >> in his dealings with comey, in his dealings with the other people that he has perhaps tried to suborn to obstruct justice these are career officials who are just deeply offended by being asked about that. i mean we have seen those stories in the paper n the "washington post" story today. i think he doesn't comprehend this idea that people in government are loyal to the american people. they are loyal to the constitution. they're loyal to their jobs. in the case of director brennan, he served george bush. he served president obama.
he is not a choir boy but he believes deeply in those values that he has upheld during that 25-year career. the one thing i would mention about what we are both saying, that everyone was saying today, this idea of the republican trying to establish collusion is a bit of a dogleg in the sense that you can obstruct stice trying to quash an investigation of a crime that was never committed. that may be what president trump is doing or has done rather than all of this -- all of the -- >> the problem with that is that's a chess move. and he plays whack a mole. i don't think that's what he is doing. that's like 3d strategery. i think he was deeply offended that someone was looking into a question that may have undermined the -- he loves size and he loves victory. and he was irked that there was an investigation into the legitimacy of his win. and i think the white house is in a real jam. they are defense -- >> the win could be legitimate, he is offended by anybody suggesting that it's not, he tries to back that down and he can obstruct justice in doing that. that's all i'm saying. >> no doubt, listen, from being inside the white house, when people called us evil geniuses, i mean, it was usually an accident when we did something that looked so smart and strategic. but, you know, what they are mad
about, and where they are right now as a white house is that their defense now in the last ten days, one of their defense on the outing of israel and their defense on a lot of these questions is oh, he just doesn't understand. he either doesn't understand what the fbi is and does, what the top people in his own intelligence agencies do and don't do. they are not tools of your press office. they don't rapidly respond to a story you don't like about what jim comey is investigating. >> even congress didn't understand brennan today when people were saying, well where is the evidence. the cia doesn't collect evidence. the fbi collects evidence because they want to indict someone. >> right. >> the cia collects intelligence. >> right. >> and then they present it to leaders and say have a look at this see if it's useful. >> in this case, brennan called over to the fbi. >> right. >> mike vikara, correctly, a
lot of people are watching for migration among republicans. i'm curious to see if you can name any names, what signs you are seeing. nicole and others have talked about the kind of slow walk away from trump that started this past weekend. >> you know, i think that a pattern has emerged. i think it dates back to the access hollywood tapes, frankly. you see republicans increasingly trying to find that balance, that alchemy between expressing concern and making sort of ominous sounds about -- about their concern for what president trump has done. the latest thing, whether it's selling sergey lavrov classified secrets in the oval office or talking to the director of national intelligence, trying to get him to publicly knock down the idea that there was collusion between the trump campaign. and incidentally dan coats, between the trump campaign and russia. incidentally dan coats who testified, the director of national intelligence pretty much didn't try to knock down that story. he didn't deny, didn't confirm it. most people took that as a confirmation. you see this republican dance now.
they have been warned -- burned one too many times i think by going too far over. they have underestimated the appeal that donald trump has to his base, frankly. and i think they are very wary to cut ties completely. look after the gop closed door meeting last week on capitol hill we were staking outside the rnc. i talked to half a dozen conservative members. they said look support for president trump is is as strong as it could ever be in my district. that's the majority of the house republican conference. they are not ready to cut and run yet. there is a great deal of concern. i think that's obvious at the point. but there is still a strong foundation here. certainly not ready to turn their backs on it. >> nicole i'll give you the last word. forgive the use of english. if talking smack about the home team in the oval office to two visiting russians doesn't cost you support among republican office holders who will? >> i think the white house is more worried than they let on. there is a story they are
thinking about bringing back corey lewandowski, that's all about shoring up his political capital. i don't think republicans want to part ways with his. i wish there were more voice like john mccains and i wish they remained as appalled as they are in the moment that these stories break when they sort of recede. i think it is a farce and it's crawling in the sand toward a marage, and needing the sand to think they are going to sort of work through a republican conservative agenda. donald trump isn't an idea logical person. he doesn't care about repealing obamacare. he is not working with paul ryan. he doesn't read his own bills. i think they are eating a whole lot of sand and i don't think it's going to end well for the republicans in the mid terms. tomorrow he will have a conference with the pope. thanks to our lead off guests tonight. thank you for coming out and joining us tonight. coming up, two former spies,
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call today. comcast business. built for business. brennan as we showed you was the latest of several long serving and high-ranking intelligence and law enforcement officials to testify about our nation's investigations into russians russian interference with our election. the first public hearing, let's not forget, came in january. the most recent was today. alongside everything we've learned from reporters, so good to be with you, on msnbc world headquarters in new york, and at this hour, president trump is on his way to the vatican for an historic meeting with pope francis, as we take a live like there the
entrance to the vatican, the president waiting to arrive, making a third stop on his nine-city 30-day trip. while the president and pope francis have never met they have exchanged words on issues like trump's border wall proposal and climate change, and their meeting comes after a push for deep cuts that help the needy. but what exactly they will discuss is not known. certainly their meeting comes in the wake of the suicide bombing in manchester, england, that killed 22 people including a number of children. the president condemned the attack, while british prime minister may says that another attack may be imminent. the president arrived after visiting israel, the west bank, and saudi arabia. before that his visit to the vatican will complete his tour of two religious capitals.
over the next two hours we'll bring you the presidents meeting with the pope, the backdrop and the problems the president faces in the united states. of course we'll also look at questions here, the stark difference between the two, the president of the united states and pope francis, and where they will find commonalty in this meeting. and also who stands to gain more from this meeting and what is the outcome. we take a look at vatican city, 8:20 a.m. local time, they are waiting for the president there with the private audience with pope francis. i want to bring you more from the vatican and kristen welker as we delve into this. claudia, i want to begin with you, what can we expect to hear from the president and the pope, especially when it comes to the
pope ahead of this meeting that he hopes to find some commonalty. >> reporter: well, i asked that question of the pope about the leader, that seems to be on the opposite on many issues like climate change, and immigration, and the merits of that. and he said i never judged anybody before. i listen to that person and this is his chance to listen to that person. to listen to what donald trump is going to say. he also said he wants to find common ground, find some kind of open door for which he can find some common ideas to discuss. they don't have much time, because they only have 20 minutes really because of what you mentioned, today is wednesday and on wednesday at 10:00 a.m., in about two hours he holds a general meeting. so really in 20 minutes they will have time to talk about whether they want to talk about differences or the common ground. so is the pope going to want to
talk about the differences or -- and maybe perhaps exercise some kind of moral persuasion. and soft power to influence trump's policies on climate change, for instance. or are they going to talk about common threads and issues like for instance, the need to fight persecution in the middle east, and pro life issues and well, and which that is another issue they agree upon. he must have been placea please instance, by the appointment of neil gorsuch. and they are watching now, as they can see the president is shaking hands with -- the gentleman of his holiness. now this is known as the most -- one of the most exclusive gentlemen's club in the world. they are usually former ambassadors, members of the
aristocracy here, and really what they do is add the common dignitaries to the pope's arrival. and you will remember him as the personal assistant as the pope emeritus benedict 16. and he is in charge of papal visits. what is going to happen now very soon is they're going to walk up to the seven floor of the palace, where the papal apartments now, and now the pope wants to sleep in the vatican guest house, that is one of many things that are different between donald trump and the pope. the pope decided to sleep in a very small room in a guest house instead. and trump, before moving to the white house lived in a gold plated tower that bears his
name. so they're very different in style. >> very different, stark differences, never mind their world views or their views on as you mentioned climate change, immigration, you know, the fight against terror, the approach with isis and some of the wars that have exchanged there. and kristen welker, we talk about those stark differences especially on a religious front, you have pope francis here, we're just talking about the show of modesty from pope francis and that of donald trump living in this gilded penthouse on fifth avenue. you have the pope from the very beginning, there was criticism coming from donald trump even before the campaign when you would have donald trump mentioning or saying you know this is the pope. i don't like to see him standing and paying his bills, something to that effect. something that it is very unpope like. but it's also interesting to see it from that perspective, too, knowing you have the head of the
roman catholic church but also you have a man who it is correct to say he is presbyterian and doesn't attend church regularly, to be in this environment and to see that contrast, kristen. >> reporter: well, i think to pick up on the point you make, perhap 6 about candidate trump, that was just a number of one of the public clashes we saw play out. it was absolutely extraordinary. pope francis said in one instance that it was unchristian to want to build a wall. and that prompted candidate trump to lash out publicly at the pope. and obviously, this is a pope who has been very out spoken on issues of climate change, you recall when he visited the white house there standing next to former president obama talked about the need to address climate change head on, donald trump is someone who has called climate change a hoax in the past. i think one of the questions today, francis, that we will
have as we watch this extraordinary historic meeting unfold. will pope francis press president trump on the issue of climate change. remember, he is in the middle of making a critical decision as it relates to climate change, trying to decide whether or not to pull out of the paris climate agreement. and that is going to be at the forefront, certainly when he moves on to the g7 summit this week in brussels. so will pope francis press him on that? this is a president that currently has a travel ban that is in the courts, that runs counter to everything the pope believes in and has taught. so there are so many differences at the forefront of this meeting that will be historic to watch. >> historic to watch, and we'll take a live look as they walk through the halls of the palace there, you can see first lady melania trump, as they step into
the elevator to begin this private audience with pope francis. touching on that and what you said, kristen, and how much they will delve into climate change and immigration even into this 20, 25 minute meeting. there is also the difference in their issues when it comes to the fight on terror, how that has been addressed with isis. donald trump referring to the mother of all bombs. and he said how can that be mother of all bombs? we have that symbolizing death. and how much will that clash come to play in the private meeting and especially in light of the manchester attacks as well as we know from donald trump and referring to those behind him, now that we know the suspect behind him has been named as evil losers. how much can we expect for the
two to devil losers. >> you referred to the president's trip so far with pope francis, he spoke about it in riyaad, for everybody to be called upon to fight terrorism. and it was at the front when he spoke in jerusalem and bethle m bethlehem. it was really the plank of this trip, one of the main focuses of his presidency, i would anticipate this would be a likely subject that you would hear president trump address, but what is interesting, senior officials have said, francis that president trump seems to be approaching this the same way that pope francis is, in that he wants to listen and find common ground here. no one is under any illusion that they have these stark differences.
what will be striking is to try to get a sense of where they were able to find common ground. one of the other big areas of differences is on refugees, pope francis called it a moral imperative to take in refugees, and president trump has said he wants to stem the flow. we'll look at all the areas of discord. i think what makes the moment so remarkable, you do have these two very different men and leaders who are approaching this from a similar standpoint, really trying to find areas where they can see eye to eye. how many of those areas are there, that remains to be seen. and i think will be one of the fascinating questions to watch. >> as we look now at this, i want to bring in claudia, if you can walk us through here, we understand the gentleman of his holiness are accompanying the president and the first lady. it seems like a very somber walk here, i understand there is a walk there at clementine hall,
and other grand rooms with different frescoes and other artifa artifacts. we apologize for the sirens there, if you can walk us through what you see and who is accompanying the president there and i guess the surrounding works of art. >> this is a centuries-old tradition, what it is, they are walking him through many halls of the second floor of the apostolic palace, where there are paintings and beautiful frescoes. and this is meant to impress upon the guess the historic power that the vatican had over the centuries. as you can see it's a very slow procession to look at the amazing work and take it all in before he meets pope francis.
now he is very near to meeting him. after all these halls are going to end up in a room called the room of the small throne. that is when he is going to shake hands with pope francis and wait for him there. that room is the antechamber of the library, the second floor, where they will then walk in at the big wooden desk of the pope. people can only stay there for about 30 seconds and then everybody leaves and that is when the private audience will take place. now trying to look -- not there yet. but certainly is about to approach that room where he will meet the pope. i see flashes now and there you go. he is about -- >> and there we have it. >> pope francis is about to shake hands with him. that is it. now we probably will hear the courtesy chitchat about what they will say after they are
introduced to each other. and leading to the public library, where there is a short audience, the fact that the pope really needs to get out on the same piece of square behind them to greet the pilgrims and faithful who gathered behind here for the traditional audience. if you think about it, in 2014, obama and pope francis held a long papal audience. that is particularly long, usually about half an hour, we'll see how long this one lasts. we don't expect it to last more than 20, 25 minutes. >> really as they exchange words and pleasantries there, with a smile from pope francis and a little bit of a chuckle here. but at what point will he say the photographers and everybody else is expected to leave? >> very soon, they just usually take a picture of him sitting at the desk and you will probably
see the photographers being let out at the door, usually doesn't last more than a minute. what will be interesting after, of course the closed doors, after they reopen the doors everybody is going to be let back in into the papal library. this is going to be a very important moment which is the exchange of gifts. now usually the gifts that the pope gives is very symbolic. and they speak volumes. for instance, this time all eyes will be on whether pope francis is going to give one of the insiclicas, they are thoughts of the pope, set in stone, especially the pope's dogma, and he is the first that wrote one entirely to the environment, on the protection of our common home as he calls pleasant ear s if he does that, that will be a clear message to donald trump,
where he will essentially say read this on whether you plan to rectify the paris agreement, which is a decision he will make after the g7. so in a few days after he goes to sicily on thursday. so that is going to be pretty interesting to see. well, as you know pope francis is a staunch believer and backer of the widespread scientific belief that the climate change is mostly caused by a human factor. while donald trump -- well, not so much. so clearly he called it an expensive hoax once, and then softened his stone. he said he wanted to pull out the paris agreement and then said i'll wait until g7 here. so pope francis has a real chance to influence his decision. so he doesn't have much time. 20 minutes, he needs to choose which subject. it looks like climate change could really be the one that
could leave a mark with president trump. >> right, that is the question, which topic they will focus on how much time they will allow for each as we have been seeing members of the first family now, iv iv ivanka trump there, also jarod kushner. and also the family will join, and have that expanded audience with pope francis. i want to bring in kristen welker who is also there in vatican city. kristen talk to me a little bit about the thinking behind this visit. knowing that we are mid-way through his nine-day visit abroad. he has visited three religious capitals today, being that of the vatican, and meeting with the pope. at one point in my reading was there ever an indication even early on in the planning of this trip that the president had no intention of visiting the vatican or maybie in making an
have a meeting with the pope and that was turned around? >> well, i think because of the fraught relationship there was also a question of it. but really the theme of this trip was trying to unite and bring the major religions of the world together. that is why you had him stopping in saudi arabia first. that was an incredibly symbolic move on the part of president trump really trying to turn a page on a lot of that really controversial rhetoric that we heard from him on the campaign trail to reach out to the muslim and arab world. and then of course he was in israel over the weekend. or i should say just yesterday. in fact, he visited and met with the president of the palestinian authority. his goal there was really to try to restart peace talks in the middle east. a lot of symbolism in that visit as well. he did not come away with a lot of tangibles, in other words,
peace talks have not in effect restarted. but senior officials say they feel confident about the direction that these conversations are headed. and then coming here to the vatican. this is obviously aimed at reaching out to catholics worldwide. he have you look back at his election results he actually got about 60% of white catholics in the u.s. that was more in fact, francis than people thought he was going to get among catholics because of some of his controversial comments about the pope and other policy issues. so this is really about uniting these three religions. and really a call to action in terms of not only the fight against extremism but the other issues that president trump has talked so extensively about. jobs, for example, he signed that 110-billion arms deal with saudi arabia. he says it will not only help in
terms of defense but also will help bring jobs back at home. so there are a lot of themes tying all of this together and i think the white house thinks this was a central plank to that, that this was really critical to being able to tie that loop, francis. >> so it's really interesting to hear and talk about now talking about pope francis and the president, again visiting the three religious capitals how it will play out in the world stage. you know very well our headlines here with the president securing you know, a private attorney as far as -- the russian investigations, they're very much these investigations swirling at home, will certainly be waiting for him when he comes back and certainly when he is with his advisers being briefed on what is happening here as well. >> reporter: there is no doubt that those controversies have followed him on this first trip, francis, but what has been so
striking about this week as it has unfolded so far is that his headlines have made a turn for the positive. he has had the striking images. you will recall in riyadh, where he made the visit. he was pressed by reporters, meeting with prime minister netanyahu about the fact he shared intelligence with the russian officials. he responded and said i want to make it very clear i never talked about israel when meeting with the russian officials. of course he was never accused of doing that. the only allegation was he shared intelligence that he obtained from the israelis. so that underscored that it was
ever-present as he goes along the foreign trip. he is received very positively here particularly in saudi arabia where they really want to see a shift in policy. they felt as though under president obama, this issue was too willing to let iran get away with provocation. they felt as though the iran nuclear deal was a monicistake, felt he did not do enough to foster dialogue for middle east peace. they are giving this president a chance and an open mind for this stage. >> all right, stick with us there in vatican city as we now have president trump and pope francis under way with a private audience. a little bit ahead of schedule. they were scheduled to begin at that meeting right about now. and 8:40 local time as we take a look at other dignitaries have the stage. and the others waiting outside. but they are about pretty much five minutes into it.
i would like to bring in from paris, christopher dicky, an msnbc contributor and editor at "the daily beast." christopher, if you're looking here, the switch of the guard, the surroundings in the palace. chris, is it correct to say when it comes to the meeting or am i right here that donald trump on the world stage is the one that comes out with the most to gain or would you say it's pretty equal? >> well, i don't think that pope francis has much to gain from this meeting but he does i think want to hear what donald trump has to say. if you want to understand the difference between these two men, both of whom i have covered closely. pope francis is a pope of tolerance, his whole papacy is built on the idea of tolerance, and acceptance, and forgiveness,
huge word. donald trump is a president, or at least ran a campaign based on intolerance, excluding people, pushing them out, building walls. that was the fundamental difference between the two. now as president trump, he has been a little bit different than candidate trump. so i think that is one thing that the pope will want to gauge. the other issue is, talking about the environment. the pope really believes in the science of climate change and the science of all kinds of issues, even the big bang theory. donald trump seems to have a lot of skepticism about science and certainly he is supported by people who are deeply skeptical about science. mike pence is hostile to the idea of evolution as an idea. they are not going to sort their ideas out in 20 minutes.
the president may say he listened to the pope but that is about all that is going to happen. >> that is fascinating to me, chris, if your going to look at how many areas where they don't agree and where they do, where they can certainly spend 20 minutes alone when it comes to just climate change or just immigration. but how will that be guided? and pope francis says all right, we're reaching a dead end here or a wall, time to move on from climate change to something is. how do they go about it as far as a discussion and free flowing talk and a meeting. with the hopes of making an impact when it comes to the first meeting between the two? >> well, i would expect that we'll see with president trump what we saw after he talked to obama, what we saw when he talked to a number of world leaders. he comes out of the meetings trying to give the impression that he is really going to
change his opinion and change policy based on his understanding of what they said. which is very polite of him, in fact, but that is not the end result that we see in the aftermath. so i think he will listen to the pope. the pope will say a few words about climate change, a few words about refugees, probably thank donald trump for the support the republican party has given to the pro-life movement and that will be it. donald trump will come out and he will say i listened, he made very important points. and now it's on for the next stop of the trip. >> when it comes to the differences and also the verbal clashes that we've seen and watched and read on twitter between pope francis and the president, it's also interesting to 70 if they will touch on the terror threat, the threat of isis, especially in light of the manchester attacks, given the history early on in the campaign. before the election.
of course donald trump, who has said if and when isis targets the vatican, which he called the ultimate trophy there you're going to have somebody like pope francis and i'm paraphrasing here, in the words of the president, you are going to have somebody like pope francis wishing that donald trump was president. >> well, that is because donald trump wants to make us believe that all refugees are potential terrorists. and that was the context in which he made that remark. now isis, the so-called islamic state did put a picture of the vatican on the cover of its magazine with the flag of isis flying on top of the obalist that is in the middle of st. peter's square. so it's clear that isis wants to attack rome, in fact, the big objective looks to be theirs. that is all propaganda. in fact, donald trump was helping to propagate that
propaganda by making these kind of tweets. is he going to defend the vatican from terrorism? is he any better than say, defending the arena in manchester? no, i don't think so, what he wants to do is equate refugees and the terrorist acts and the pope will not accept that. >> and we want to bring in our analysts, steven, watching the coverage here knowing we're about ten minutes into this private audience with donald trump, president trump and pope francis. they're half way there. you have to be a fly on the wall to know what they're talking about and knowing the outcome of this meeting so far. >> you know what i think is most interesting so far from me and having watched carefully all of the meetings that donald trump has had with the leaders on this trip thus far, this one i would term polite enough.
in my view, there was warmth in the pope's gestures, but not great warmth. and i think that is complicated for donald trump who in saudi arabia and israel and in ramallah worked hard to sort of show a kind of buddy -- that he was buddies with these leaders and embracing them, warm with them. this is going to be a more d distant experience. i don't think donald trump will be able to walk out of this and say my new best friend, my new pal and buddy, pope francis are on the same page and i think that is an interesting observation as he has gone on to try to do this unity tour of islam, judaism and christianity, this is going to be the toughest one for him. >> and we noticed with the tweets, benjamin neutrtanyahu,
good friend, you can see here a moment where they are exchanging pleasantries. pope francis was smiling. but there was a moment where they were not saying a word. and it did not seem to be as far as this goes as a pose. you know as an effort to pose for the photographers. it just seemed like a little bit of silence here, and he is looking away. and the pope is looking away even at that point. >> donald trump is using every element of power in his body not to do something to move and to stay restrained. i'm sure his people have told him it is important not to have a gaffe or to overstep in this. it is interesting and in such contst t what we saw with him and king salman in saudi arabia, and benjamin netanyahu in israel. these two men are very, very far apart on nearly every issue.
other than the fact they are both iconoclasts, pope francis certainly is, has shaken the proposals of that church. you can argue that donald trump is an iconoclast, shaking up the republican party in a very different direction. but what is similar is that they both have gone into foundations of their institutions and basically shaken them up quite a bit. i think the differences in the roster are absolutely right. these are deep convictions for the pope who as i said will be polite enough but we'll not see the outcome that donald trump has made on other stops ahead. >> and certainly, with the two of them and the photo opportunities before this audience, we know as soon as this wraps up as it is certainly under way, the president along with first lady melania trump
will be meeting with pope francis, so the first lady will be joining them as well. all right, steve, hang on for just a little bit as i bring in -- a former white house senior director and spokesperson. and talk to me about your experience with former president obama, with his administration here as we walk through this. you have been around when that administration has gone through these meetings as well. we saw jared kushner, the president's son-in-law, also his -- ivanka there, and melania trump and secretary of state rex tillerson is there as well as h.r. mcmaster. talk to me a little bit about what can be expected on the outcome here. if we're saying maybe donald trump has more to gain out of these meetings with pope francis, so what extent and what is the most that we can see him gaining? >> well, i think steve and chris
mentioned earlier this is certainly a meeting of two very, very different individuals in terms of policy. but in terms of their actual politics and how they both achieved their mission today. both of them consider themselves to be populists. pope francis, a man of latin america, elevating the policy issues, and you have donald trump who is also considered the working man's president, dealing with manufacturers. dealing with the working class, with jobs, so there is a common issue there as well. and both have a proclivity to try to reach the average person, similar to how donald trump has used his twitter accounts. to communicate directly with the people. it may just be where the
commonalties end given that on policy and actually how to communicate and connect with people and changing the landscape, both of them differ quite deeply. as you mentioned, pope francis wants to bring in refugees, and donald trump speaks about vetting. you also have a pope who reaches out to the muslim world in unprecedented ways, and in fact, including the muslims and refugees, with the time honored tradition. donald trump's first real interaction with the muslims seems to be with the elites and royalty in riyadh, seems to be the way he deals with the issues of terrorists with the middle east, will be a stark contrast.
>> all right, former white house senior director and state department spokesperson. thank you for your in sight, we'll check back in with you in a little bit. i would like to bring back my colleagues there in vatican city as this is president trump as we can see the 13th president to visit the vatican now in the closed door private meeting. private audience with pope francis. as we're just now getting information here, information from the full report here interesting that we can read lips. certainly we know this. there are no microphones, the president said to pope francis when they shook hands, thank you very much. the pope told the president it is a very great honor. the pope just looked at the pool, the other cameras and photographers several times here. as we are waiting and looking at the video just moments ago right before they entered that meeting, as we were waiting, claudia, tell us a little about what happened now.
as we have many dignitaries on the president's side who are traveling with him. are they there with the gentlemen and his holiness, the cardinal, perhaps there as well? >> yes, they are all waiting for the pope and president trump standing there in the same hall. the hall of the small throne. they are probably having a chat and maybe describing the renaissance frescoes of this beautiful room. they will talk about how the great master inspired it. they are just waiting for the two to come out. what we know is that after they took him out, president trump is going to also have a private conversation with the secretary of state of the vatican.
at that time, melania and ivanka and jared will be taken to other halls, and describe the amazing frescoes there. and they will take a little tour. and after that, melania, and i'm not sure if jared kushner will join them probably. they will go for a private tour of the sistine chapel. of course i don't know if he has ever been there. but certainly they will be very impressed. we're not sure how long it's been now, but it seems to be close to 20 minutes. so what they will do, that as soon as the doors open the rest of the delegation are going to walk in. and there will be a photo opportunity so you will see president trump and melania, and pope francis will be in the
middle. and the famous exchange of gifts with all the symbolic value that is carried with it. >> all right, claudia, any moment now, as you have noted, the 20 minutes were usually these meetings. that is the average of how long they pretty much lasted. kristen, to ask you on this front, knowing that we're half way through the nine-day foreign trip, how is he holding up? had a very rigid full packed schedule as we see in many of the travels. he appears to be energetic, and appears to be very much alert and doesn't really show any signs of tiring so far. would you agree? >> oh, i think you're absolutely right about that. i think when he initially touched down in riyadh, there was a little exhaustion that set in. one of his top officials described him as a tired guy. he is adjusting to the time change, remember, francis for the entirety of his time at the
white house he has either been at the white house or mar-a-lago, so this is the first time he has been away from one of his own properties for this length of time. so i think it's a challenge in that regard. but what has been very notable is that he does seem energized now and seems to be really taking in each of these moments. we saw that yesterday when he was in jerusalem at the western wall, really pause toake it all in. it was a solemn experience, it seems. his daughter, ivanka became emotional there. she of course converted to judai judaism. so we have seen much of the first family, of ivanka trump, and jared, of course, one of the president's closest advisers and one of the people who really mapped out and engineered this trip both in terms of the mechanics and the politics and
policies. and then first lady melania who has been by the president's side. but who will also have her own events. she of course today was with president trump, she is wearing a veil, as is daughter ivanka, that is tradition for women who are first meeting the pope. we're really seeing the first family on display in a way we don't typically get to see it in washington. and that has made this trip remarkable as well. just to underscore the point, jared kushner as come out as a top adviser to the president but really slowly taking on a more public role in this white house. so some of the optics that we're watching as we monitor this extraordinary morning, francis. >> optics are interesting, even leading up to this meeting, and reading on politico, a few days before this, claudia. as we bring in -- some were
suggesting in some senset is pope francis here with the power and just the timing and when he chose to schedule it on a wednesday mortgagning, right be his regularly scheduled audience, i'm sure people are preparing for that. suggesting that -- i don't know if this is reading too much into it, claudia, but maybe suggesting that they're going to keep it within the 20 or 30 minutes. that they're not going to delve into too much to make it confrontational or make it uncomfortable, if it does take a turn, there is an easy way out. oh, let me get up and go, i have my weekly audience to attend to. >> that is right. i mean, you will know -- the vatican will tell you that the pope does not invite people. he does not invite heads of state. they request a private audience and he accepts. so they were waiting for of course president trump's request to go through. and we don't know whether it was
specified that this morning that today was the only day when president trump could come to see the pope, because obviously there are schedules for the rest of the trip. or that the wednesday audience is about to start we're actually seeing thousands of pilgrims already lined up and assembled in st. peter's square right behind me. certainly this would probably serve better president trump than pope frais because in a way there's many things that po fncis i presume would like to talk to president trump about. migration, refugees, climate change, capitalism, all that stuff that he's been very vocal about. and in a way president trump is not -- in a way this could be on paper the easiest meeting of all during this trip because it's