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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  September 18, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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me. see you back here 11:00 a.m. tomorrow with stephanie ruhle and at 3:00 p.m. eastern. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi, everyone. it's 4:00. thank god for lawyers who lunch and the host that plays intrepid reporters and take notes and photos and discover that the white house lawyer is suspected of hiding some super secret stuff in a safe. we'll talk to the reporter with the scoop of the day. but first, here's the picture of the president's two legal point men on the russia probe. washington lawyers john dowd and ty cobb. at issue, growing tensions between these two men and white house counsel don mcgahn over how much to share with special counsel bob mueller. ty cobb complained to dowd at the steakhouse, quote, the white house counsel's office is being very conservative with this stuff. mr. cobb told mr. dowd. our view is we're not hiding
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anything. referring to mr. mcgahn, he added, he's got a couple documents locked in a safe. joining us now, one of the reporters who shared the byline on that story, ken vogel of "the new york times" who just happened to be lunching next to the president's lawyers. and here at the table with me, nbc news chief white house correspondent hallie jackson, eli stokel and bill crystal, founder and editor of the weekly standard and john heilemann, national affairs analyst. ken, tell me first of all, just take me through this scoop, first of all, and how you proceeded. did you keep eating and shush whichever source you were wining and dining in a swanky steakhouse. >> i don't get the sense they wanted to be heard. i've seen a little speculation on that point on twitter and
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elsewhere. and, you know, typically with folks in trump's orbit, if there's a spectrum between like incredibly devious sort of manipulative puppet mastery and just clumsy and incompetence, it's almost always going to be closer to that clumsy incompetence. so i think that's what happened here, that they were just very indiscreet. i was sitting there, as you suggested, with a source having a source lunch and noticed these two guys come in and my source was like, we'll walk down the street together. i said why don't you just go yourself and i'm going to hang on. i sat there typing on my iphone, taking notes on what they said. it was quite revealing, and i was quite surprised they were being so indiscrete with such sensitive information on such a sensitive topic. >> one of the things you overheard is that they suggested that don mcgahn, the white house counsel, and take us through,
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there's some structural reasons why a white house counsel would have some tensions with the president's personal lawyers. they're all oftenceibly on the same side but sometimes the white house counsels adhere to things like executive privilege. explain some of the natural tensions and what i'm really interested in is what seems like some personal tensions on top of that. >> yeah, that's right. they fill different functions. don mcgahn's jobs is white house counsel is to represent not just this president but the office of the presidency. and not even just the office of his presidency but the office of the presidency as a concept. and our understanding is his concern is a more liberal approach, a more inclusive approach to document production being more forthcoming with documents, might jeopardize the ability of this president and possibly even future presidents to assert presidential privilege when it comes to other documents or testimony that is requested
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from them. whereas ty cobb, his agreement is essentially trying to get the president clear of this investigation and he believes that the best way to do that is to be completely forthcoming with documents, with testimony because he believes that the president did nothing wrong and that by revealing more information, it will prove to mueller that, in fact, the president did nothing wrong, should not have exposure in this case. you can see where that would be a kind of abstract type of tension that might arise in this case. it was interesting to hear it actually playing out in realtime from two folks who were very involved in it. and it also was interesting to hear that this natural tension of function has manifest itself in tension -- a personal tension and suspicion and distrust among the various folks representing different parts of the trump legal team because they, too, it's not -- there are going to
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be competing imperatives where someone who represents jared kushner might not have the same interest in every case as someone who represents the president of the united states. add to that, nicolle that don mcgahn is someone who has attracted interest from mueller and has his own lawyer representing him because he's so involved in so many of the pivotal decisions and conversations that he, too, could have some exposure. and you could see why there would be competition, tension, maybe even distrust among the trump legal team. >> you reached out to mcgahn's lawyer bill burke. he didn't have a comment but the white house did comment and you detail that your inquiry resulted in an eruption. please explain. >> so we laid all the cards on the table and told folks who we approached about this story that we're interested in the substance of this disagreement, but here's how we know that there's this disagreement that ty cobb and john dowd had this conversation in a very public
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place and our understanding is when that got back to don mcgahn and john kelly, the white house chief of staff, they called ty cobb in not expressed dissatisfaction, shall we say, oouf mystically, with his carelessness with this very sensitive -- >> dissatisfaction? they yell at him for yakking about the president's legal problems in your ear shot. is that a better explanation of -- >> yeah, that's more direct. we obviously don't have a precise readout of what was said but the issue is the way he handled this information and the way he had this conversation potentially jeopardized some privilege -- it's ironic the debate is about privilege. there's attorney/client privilege in play here. >> what could possibly be in the safe? >> yeah, i mean, there are documents -- it's important to point out that like they are dealing with very sensitive information. top-secret classified information. it stands to reason that there might be documents that would be in a safe. so that in and of itself is not
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notable. what was notable to us is that cobb specifically cited these two documents as being -- suggesting that those were ones that he wanted to be released, part of this document production that mcgahn was being more cautious about. while we don't know what these documents are, their source of origin or what they say, we do know that they are a real example of how this disagreement over privilege and over document production is playing itself out. >> ken vogel, i'm going to contribute to "the new york times" lunch fund so that you keep getting scoops like this. thanks for your reporting and thanks for starting us off today and spending a little time with us. hallie jackson, don mcgahn is someone we don't talk about a lot but let me read something from politico about how essential he is not just in the ways that ken reports and as sort of the keeper of the white house prerogative. and having been a staffer in a white house under investigation, what that means is -- when enron
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investigated the bush white house, he wee hwe had to search e-mails that had enron in them. if you are a staffer you just wanted to get it out. if you were talking about energy policy or something that are protected or privileged. but my understanding, well, let me read why mcgahn matters and then tell me why this is such a raw nerve. the most significant testimony -- i think this piece is about in the russia probe. this is a piece, a great piece about mueller's hand and the case as it stands right now. the most significant testimony could come from white house counsel don mcgahn who reportedly looked at a letter justifying comey's firing that was drafted by stephen miller at trump's direction. i understood it to have been dictated by donald trump. mcgahn's comments could be extremely important. if mcgahn counseled trump that firing comey for the reasons he originally stated could create
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liability for the president. now i'm dying to know what's on the inside of the safe. and i bet mueller is, too. what else did the president ask don mcgahn to do and is he trying to place all his conversations with the president in this privileged category? >> likely he's sorting out what is and what isn't. you bring up an interesting article. when you ask ken what documents do you think is in the safe, nobody knows for sure but that's one of the key points of speculation. could it be this. the administration right now from the white house perspective, half the west wing is up here in new york dealing with foreign policy. the simmering undercurrent is what's going on with this investigation. i had a conversation with somebody close to the white house. does the russia probe come up in conversation? like does it come up when you're talking to these folks. and the question is, when doesn't it come up? describing it as this gripped by fear, inside these people in the west wing who know they -- if they haven't already already up they have to be handing over these documents and this is the
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backdrop to everything. the fact you're leading this program today with this is significant. rather than talking about one of the 19 critical foreign policy issues. the president continues to be dogged by this. >> eli, we led with it because it's such an interesting insight into tensions within the president's own legal teams. i raised the question about don mcgahn because he's likely to have an expansive view of exclusive privilege. the fact he knows about this letter and there's an investigation into whether or not obstruction of justice occurred, makes me wonder and i'm sure makes other investigators wonder, what else are they considering privileged? >> it doesn't seem like it's just about sort of executive privilege, you know, the precedent of it. it's a white house that's trying to keep certain things from getting out. what's in the safe -- >> we know this is a president who saingry at sessions because he recused himself and didn't protect him from russia. angry at mitch mcconnell because he didn't protect him from russia. he may have an expectation that his white house counsel will
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protect him. >> don mcgahn has been through the tumbler of who is up, who is out in the white house. >> the attorneys and the fighting on this legal team is really sort of similar to what we've seen in the west wing for eight months now. and it's not surprising given the tension and the stakes that are here. part of the issue that's divided lawyers was the jared kushner story "the wall street journal report"ed not long ago about some of the lawyers wanting him to resign because it was more problematic. there were a lot of -- they tried to cover it up but in the reporting of that story what we found out and what we heard were probably a lot of the same things that ken experienced going back to the white house staff and back to the lawyers. you heard a lot of emotion, raw emotion from them on the phone when they are being asked to defend this. when they're trying to get their stories straight. a lot of calls back to you, about oh, actually this is what happened. >> go ahead. >> a different take on this.
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i agree this is unlikely to be super cleverness by ty cobb and mike dowd. >> you think it's incompetence? that was the binary choice. >> ty cobb is a very experienced washington lawyer. he's sitting outdoors at blt steak where there are a million people coming around. >> next door to "the new york times." >> he says at the top of his lungs, my guy is innocent. we want to cooperate with the special counsel. >> so you think ty cobb saw ken vogel and -- >> i think ty cobb, even if you dont see ken vogel. >> doesn't mind being heard. >> this story helps trump, let's be honest. we can all talk about squabbling. the guy who is representing trump in the russia investigation, allegedly, he thinks he's innocent and really wants to cooperate with bob mueller. and mcgahn who has these complicated views of executive privilege. i don't think dowd is quite as naive as people think.
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>> i don't think he's naive. >> cobb, i guess it is. >> i would -- generally on the basis of reputation you'd say ty cobb, seasoned lawyer, knows his way around washington. he's been doing strange things lately. some of the e-mails he's sent to reporters and so on. >> let's explain those. >> let me say this one thing, though. here's a really basic thing. we don't know what ty cobb really thinks or knows. but i'll tell you who knows what actually went on in the trump campaign, don mcgahn. if you have the outside lawyer who may have access to a lot of information, may have full disclosure. may be posturing, may not be, but don mcgahn, the position he's representing of him which is, no, i don't want to be liberal about this in terms of disclosure. that's based on the fact that don mcgahn was there during the campaign. there when comey was fired. he has seen what actually happened. he is not in a position to be blythe and say, well, if we're -- we show everything, our guy is innocent and it will all
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be fine. don mcgahn is saying, if we show everything it may not be so pretty. >> let's stay here. it may not be so pretty because just the known knowns aren't very pretty. what we know is that donald trump dictated the letter. and i read that excerpt about who mcgahn is because i'm guessing at some point a draft of that letter, something like that, might have been the kind of thing he hoped wouldn't get out. i'm not accusing anyone at the white house of not being responsive to subpoenas but that may have been the kind of document that someone would have exerted execute uf prive privil keep private. he ticked through all his grievances with comey, all rooted in the russia investigation, and then some sort of shiny ball over here, rod rosenstein wrote a fake memo. kellyanne conway goes to the north lawn of the white house and said he got fired for all the reasons that -- that was a lie, a ruse, a cover-up. what other kinds of things would don mcgahn be protecting?
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>> in terms of what the communications are inside the white house, i won't want to speculate on that. the investigation has two tracks. an investigation that's about structure of justice where mcgahn was involved in these discussions and collusion with russia among trump or trump associates. don mcgahn was on the inner circle as the main legal person representing the campaign throughout the entire period in question. i won't speculate on what he may or may not know but among all the senior trump people there's an array of ten or so who have sden decent visibility into all things going on. >> the clinton white house lost its case when they tried to exert lawyer/client privilege to avoid bruce lindsey, bill clinton's white house counsel, from testifying before the starr grand jury. don mcgahn is a key -- one of the key elements. having comey over to a one on
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one dinner, the first week of his presidency. did he tell mcgahn about it? did mcgahn dictate a memo that day? mcgahn would know everything. mcgahn is a central figure and mueller is probably carefully preparing for when he calls mcgahn to testify. >> before i lose you, let me ask you about three more people. >> sure. >> manafort and flynn are said to have issues by ty cobb. and michael cohen, i think, testifies tomorrow. >> big day for him. >> why do they matter. >> they were critical to the president's campaign during the time the president may want to say manafort played a small role. that is not true. he was the de facto campaign manager even if his title was chairman. he was involved from even before he was named in the spring all the way through the convention. you have michael flynn who was obviously the president's right-hand guy here, national security, who was in the administration. and michael cohen who has known this president for a very long time. worked on his business dealings,
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including potentially with some of these places in russia. you've seen the documented related to moscow. these guys are critical to this. look who was out just yesterday or earlier in the last week testifying in front of the grand jury was paul manafort's spokesperson. not even paul manafort. the orbit is widening here. you mentioned subpoenas. and you're right. i can't speculate on what may or may not be information that don mcgahn has access to but ty cobb wants to make it look like they're not getting -- they want to make it look like they're giving everything they have and cooperating fully and absolutely they're being as absolutely transparent as they can with the senate and house committees as well. >> i sdwroucjust want to say on thing about this ken vogel story. i'll ask you two, both of them have been in presidential administrations. you in the white house. the west wing. when your administration was
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under scrutiny, a legal scrutiny, a special prosecutor, et cetera, ever a moment you started to wonder if your colleagues were wearing a wire at -- >> no, that is incredible. we'll pull that up and put it on air. >> that's the most incredible piece of this. >> there is reporting that white house staffers -- let me get you to weigh in on this. there is new reporting as john points out that white house staffers are now worried that even in their own private conversations with colleagues that someone may be wearing a wire. >> that's true. they don't trust anybody and that's why there continue to be these wauld off factions within the white house and a lot of them don't trust the lawyers or some of the lawyers out there. so there's so much mistrust. that's -- >> and paranoia. you look at -- >> let's defend him on that, on the paranoia. so fun to have you here. please come back early and often. we're just hitting pause. just getting started here. when we come back, trump tries to take back manhattan.
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our first ever glimpse of america's new leader. donald trump gets back to basics and plugs himself and his real staets prowess. on the eve of donald trump's first address to the u.n. national assembly, we'll take you through his undiplomatic u.n. bashing and more awkward terms on the world stage. and donald's dark obsession. every parent worries about their kid's screen time. we asked our panel if the president's seeming addiction to social media is making it difficult to govern.
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thank you very much.
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thank you. [ applause ] i actually saw great potential right across the street to be honest with you, and it was only for the reason that the united nations was here that that turned out to be such a successful project. >> that was president trump this morning at a meeting about a reform agenda for the u.n., talking about his real estate prowess. but that's because that's what he does when the world gathers to deal with crises on nearly every continent including a rogue north korea threatening our allies with nuclear weapons. he nicknamed kim jong-un rocket man this weekend. a piece about what sounds like an intervention from the president's national security advisers caught our attention. the associated press reporting, quote, trump's national security team had become alarmed by the president's frequent questioning about the value of a robust american presence around the world. when briefed on the diplomatic,
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military and intelligence post, the new president would often cast doubt on the need for all the resources. defense secretary mattis and rex tillerson organized the july 20th session to lay out the case for maintaining far-flung outposts and to present it using charts and maps in a way the businessman turned politician would appreciate. the session was in effect american power 101 and the student was the man working the levers, end quote. joining me is anita dunn. i'm going to start with john heilemann. >> i'm having a very vivid flashback to a scene that you, too, had some memory of. >> i know. >> the charts, the maps. sarah palin -- >> she didn't become president. >> but tutored her the same way. >> she lost. >> this notion about -- obviously she lost but this notion that, we'll bring in the maps, the charts, we'll bring in
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the encyclopedia britannica and try to teach the prospective vice president or in this case -- >> i'm not saying it's not worse. >> bill crystal is defending me. this is a great -- >> this is amazing. in the article, it was in the tank in the pentagon. i haven't been there in 25 years. you've been in there. it's impressive. it's where you do serious, top secret briefings. it's a smart thing to bring donald trump there rather than just sitting around the oval. >> where he's like turn on -- >> they got a risk board out there. >> here's why they did the urnt vention. trump's team obsessed with north korea. forget daca or tax reform. one topic consumes their inner circle, north korea. they're scared. >> they should be. they should be concerned and the world is concerned. this is a president who came into office with no foreign policy experience except for, of course, international real
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estate experience, as he likes to remind us. and there are buildings on every continent so i'm not sure why you were so disrespectful about this. but they should be very concerned. these are complex issues. he's discovering things like allies are kind of important. and they should be concerned because the threat is growing on an almost daily basis. it's not clear they have a plan. >> eli, i think the worst kept secret in washington is that all is not well in rex tillerson's state department and that no one is really happy, including rex tillerson and i've been told this week is in some ways an audition for nikki haley as perhaps a successor. >> well, i've talked to administration folks offer the last few days leading up to the u.n., ga here in new york and a lot of them have expressed how miffed they are at nikki haley out there getting to freelance as much as she does, taking the spotlight, not just from rex but people in the administration who see her out there giving one answer that's different from
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what the president saying. and a lot of people look at this and, oh, she may be gunning for secretary of state. a lot of people look at this and look at an unstable administration and think she may have ambitions of running in 2020 if things fall that way. there's a lot of -- people are looking -- >> a lot of scrutiny. >> even though publicly her star seems to be on the rise. that's why. >> i'm hearing what you're hearing from her camp that, you know, not to believe the rumors. she's focused on the job he has. that's what everyones is until and unless they are gone their next big job. >> i'll sign up for the nikki haley challenge to donald trump in 2020. you and i can sign up and do it. >> let's join forces. >> you and i can sign up and doom it before it even starts. >> 2% in iowa. >> i'd be shocked that somebody in the administration would be worried about disloyalty on the part of cabinet members because that just never happens in this administration, right? >> that's a good point.
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usually the -- it's going the other way. donald trump trashing sessions and making him emotional, according to "the new york times" reporting. >> exactly. >> usually the percept whereon is that he -- so you're saying she has a longer leash and that's been observed that she's got more running room. >> that agitates some people in there. >> not him, does it? >> not yet. >> president trump? >> no, just on the reporting side, i've talked to people close to nikki haley. she's been given explicit okay by donald trump to be sort of -- be treated as if she's a cabinet member but the u.n. ambassador is often a cabinet member. still a complex relationship with secretary of state and is below the secretary of state in normal administrations. but not so much in this time. and that's -- trump is fine with that. >> come back to the substance of this, the north korea thing underlying all of this. one of the things that's become clear to me on the basis of a bunch of conversations with
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former republican secretaries of state, democratic former secretaries of state, former national security advisers. there's this big broad consensus on north korea which is we must have clarity in terms of what we're saying to kim jong-un. he must know what -- where the line is and if he does, if he crosses that line, what the consequences will be. we can't gauge how rational he is or what game he's playing but clarity about what causes would create effects and what those would be. but all of them from the most conservative to most liberal, all of them are terrified there is nothing like that coming out of this administration. there is less clarity on a daily basis in terms of what kim jong-un is seeing. and that's what matters and has all these people at a very high level deeply concerned, even if they have great faith in jim mattis or mcmaster. >> and let me -- the conversation on nikki haley. >> i didn't dismiss it. >> you can be dismissive of me.
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that's where we are. >> i have never -- one thing i would never do. dismissive of bill, certainly in a heartbeat. >> president trump values her public aren'tations. that's why she's intriguing. she seems to get more running room, as you said, she is impressive. she's got political chops to run in 2020. but the idea that -- >> he's popular and good on tv. those are two values. >> two things donald trump values. we are without any bright red lines for north korea, the things he values are on display this week. that's my other point. acting like a reality star. sometimes it feels that way when one observes donald trump on the world stage. we'll break down the president's diplomatic highlights -- or lowlights -- when we come back. ? watch your step. a pilot like you should be serving your country. you're c.i.a.? shh... based on an incredible true story... we need you to deliver stuff for us. of the c.i.a.'s biggest secret. is this all legal? you trust me? no. on september 29.
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which brings me to my next point, the utter weakness and incompetence of the united
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nations. >> i have long felt the united states is an underperformer. >> where do you ever see the united nations -- i love the united nations in new york. they're wonderful. do they ever settle anything? it's just like a political gang. >> the united nations is not a friend deaf mockeracy. it's not a friend to freedom. it's not a friend even to the united states of america where, as you know, it has its home. >> at this point the president's opinion about the united nations is well documented. but as we settle in for a week of u.n. meetings and speeches, let's look at the president's rough spots on the world stage like elbowing the president of montenegro to get the best spot in the photo op or commenting on the appearance of the french president's wife. >> so there have been plenty of
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times when a president has faced a chilly reception for political decisions he's made, policy decisions. this may be the first time where even some of our best allies may find the behavior of our american president puzzling. john? >> yeah. i mean puzzling is not quite the right word. for a lot of the -- this nine months in office, it's been about eight months, have been for most of the leaders of the industrialized world at least has been a harsh watching what they've seen from the president of the united states in terms of comportment and protocol but also in terms of various things he's done that have been more substantive. there's a great deal of concern among all those people. i go back to this first thing. i think trump will spend this week trying to be a star for the reasons we talked about before. wants to be liked. wants to give good tv. when you feel him saying all those negative things during the campaign someone said you aren't a republican but republicans don't like the u.n. so say these
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nasty things. much the same way as i don't really believe he's pro-life. despite that's what you're supposed to say. >> didn't he say the u.n. has tremendous potential? if i didn't vote for trump we'd have a president who would say that kind of thing. u.n.-loving -- a u.n.-loving president like hillary clinton. he also wants to imitate the french military parades. >> he likes military parades. >> so we have a president who wants to imitate the french. that was not what republicans expected. so trump is -- >> who doesn't love a parade, though. >> you obama people are going to love trump by the end of this. pro-u.n., pro-french. >> would love to work there. eli, what do you make in sort of your body of reporting about these real stumbles on the world stage. refusing to sort of articulate our commitment to article 5 which was the -- it went on for weeks and weeks and weeks after he failed to -- after he elbowed the prime minister of montenegro
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out. he refused to reaffirm our commitment to article 5. >> there are people in this administration embarrassed by that and by a lot of the things you just put up but i don't know if the president was embarrassed by any of that. he doesn't feel a ton of shame or embarrassment in too many situations. this is a situation where all the attention is on new york and he has an opportunity to be a star on the stage. this morning at this u.n. conference on reforming the institution of the u.n., he was sitting there next to the secretary-general talking about the u.n. does have potential. all that rhetoric about how awful it is and it's not even a friend of democdemocracy, that gone. he had the support of the secretary-general in doing that. maybe some stuff will leak out of these bilateral meetings. what is interesting watching this speech that the president gives. he's going to try to espouse the same america first view but do it on a stage where it can be tied to sort of an impetus for global action. he's not a globalist. don't ever call me a globalist
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but what's a reason for people at the u.n., other countries to share the burdens defending and fighting terrorism, et cetera. but will anyone believe it because this is a guy who said so many things and comes down on so many different sides of an issue, there's been all this confusion about the position on the paris accord because they are saying, well, and the president is saying, we're getting out but might get back in. so there's so much confusion that even if he reads a speech that has been written for him from a teleprompter and delivers a clear articulation of some trump doctrine, i'm not sure that many other people from other countries sitting in the room with the headsets on listening to it are going to take it all that seriously because sometimes even trump has a hard time speaking clearly for trump. >> so it's a huge world stage. it's like miss universe expoent ineral this week. and he loves to play on the big stage. but what eli was saying is absolutely right. there's the trump of the te
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teleprompter and the trump unplugged. and i think that as foreign leaders look at this week and hear the trump on the teleprompter and meet with the trump unplugged and see the tweets from the trump unplugged and trying to figure out, how do you reconcile these two things and what does this mean about america's leadership? how does america move forward? what does this mean about their policies in what does it mean about their dependability as allies? he has a huge amount of work to do this week. >> you think obama is embarrassed? >> i haven't discussed that with him. >> i'm embarrassed as a republican this is our president. would you guess that president obama is embarrassed that this is america's representative at the u.n. this week? >> i would think that president obama probably looks at this week and he thinks about the eight years he did it, and he thinks about the fact it's no secret he thought hillary clinton would have been a much better choice as president and would have been doing a better job this week. >> it's embarrassing from my point view of that he's our president but it's a tribute to -- the trump administration has been a lot better than trump
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and that should be to mcmaster md to mattis and kelly and to others, nikki haley. and to the whole system, though. to the foreign service to the civil service to the military. to the intelligence community, to -- so in that rrngs i think americans can feel that so far at least, you know, we've managed to accommodate someone who probably shouldn't be president without any great damage. >> explain the low bar. >> i just think the notion of the trump administration has been better than trump on foreign policy is setting a low bar. not hard to be better than trump has been so far. and the thing that it all comes down to, not even article 5. the thing that most poisons the relationship with the world and the underlying thing that corrodes it is the muslim ban. the coming out of the gate and doing that thing, i think, has really profoundly altered the way the world sees trump and a way he'll maybe never be able to recover from. >> he called in to "morning joe" one morning and i said would you
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allow an exemption to your muslim ban to let some of our great leaders like the leader of uae or other nations in and i was kind of joking and he goes, oh, yeah, for sure. what he didn't know about how many of our allies are muslim is startling. facebook is facing more questions about their actions or lack of them during the 2016 election. we have jim rootenberg in for an interview about his article on the limits of the first amendment. one of the tech industry's favorite defenses.
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as reports continue to roll in about facebook selling ads to dumbmy accounts, jim routenberg dropped this. facebook knows more about russia's election meddling, shouldn't we? here's what we don't know, at
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least not directly from facebook. one, what all those ads looked like. what specific information or disinformation they were spreading. three, who or what the accounts pretended tock. how many americans interacted with the ads or fake people. five, we also don't know what geographical locations the alleged social media saboteurs were targeting. important questions. and the author of that piece is here with me. one of my favorite reporters, media columnist, jim rutenberg. this is your inaugural trip to "deadline white house." one of the best articulations you have is that this one should be clear. arguments at sites like facebook are merely open platforms like phone wires is the analogy a lot of people make and not media companies who make editorial judgments. they fall woefully flat when it comes to meddling in our democracy. the first amendment may not protect a foreign member --
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>> those of white house follow politics have spent so much time talking about who is behind this shady ad? what's the intention? here's a bigger deal and it's just starting to be spoken about in these terms. >> they came after john kerry and you and your colleagues and other reporters at "the times" called us day after day about whether there was any coordination or whether we approved of the ads. who paid for it? did we know about it? what do you think -- these are ads bought on facebook by russians. >> right. the fact that you just said that and it's true is -- or allegedly true but also you can go to any television station and right now ask to see their books. it's available to the public. who bought what time connect tot what election. it's not perfect but there's some attempt to have a system in place. and this is -- >> are tv stations obliged to
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turn down ads that are either false, but not obliged, but they can and they do? >> and make sure the purchaser is doing so legally. >> and you can't -- foreign powers cannot purchase television ads on american television. >> but bring this back to the mueller investigation because some of this has momentum and increased scrutiny because bob mueller is now very interested in these dummy accounts you write about. >> so facebook has been reported through a search warrant that facebook got -- facebook gave the information over to mueller. congress wants to see this information as well. i don't think they've gotten quite the same amount. and mueller will be matching up, he'll be very interested in who was targeted and how they were targeted. we were talking about this this morning. we all know that any of us can read the clips and see where the swing counties are. coordination is very hard to prove but he'll be looking at that, i'm sure. >> one of those that bragged
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about a digital effort is jared kushner. are his actions under scrutiny? >> vanity fair was raising that over the weekend. an intriguing piece. i don't know that to be the case but i assume they'll be looking at all options in terms of what was going on with the campaign and facebook and alleged -- >> there's a whole school of thought that in the end on the basis of some things we know and think and some things we think we will soon know because facebook has been concealing information for a long time and is now being forced to come out in the open and it's just the tip of the iceberg what we've seen so far these 400 accounts, 30,000 accounts in the french election? it's going to be many, many more that we're going to find out about but there's a whole school of thought among students of the collusion story that this is where the collusion is most likely to happen if it happened, which is between the trump digital operation and the russians. and that there was some kintd of, again, this hypothesis. i'm not asserting this to be true. >> these are questions. >> they are looking at very carefully mueller and congressional investigators in particular are saying, is it
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true that -- did the russians when they hacked the dnc, did they steal a voter file? if they did, would they have gotten help from someone on the republican side or in trump tower to help them interpret that voter file so they could then target their ads in the way they did in places like michigan, wisconsin and pennsylvania where people now think they may have been more important, impactful and maybe even decisive in a way that the podesta, mail hacks were not nearly as significant in electoral terms on, le election. >> i understand they are slow to react to a political crisis. how did you find them in covering them? >> their position was very -- they did not want to go beyond the very short statement they gave me. i've seen it happen with other people that because of legal reasons and because there's an investigation, we don't want to say more. that's a matter up for debate. my reporting shows they can say somewhat more than what they've said so far and you don't see
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that they've spent a lot of time figuring out problems around their product. all this brain power goes into it. one would think they'd come up with a way to help us get to the bottom of these questions. and to john's point, the people the president many dark obsession rears its ugly head.
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well, most of the world's leaders were preparing for a week of international negotiations at the un blchga. and donald trump on twitter knocking out hillary clinton with a golf ball. eli, what is wrong with him? >> i'm not a shrink. so -- i'll pass on that question. but, i mean, go back a week ago or so when hillary's book was coming out, she was doing the round of interviews. i remember sitting in the newsroom thinking, he hasn't tweeted about this yet, hasn't really reacted to it. maybe john kelly is on to something, figured this out. only a matter of time. his need to release the pressure.
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happens over the weekend in the form of a retweet. >> and on a more serious note, hillary clinton writes misogyny is something darker, first thing i thought what i saw this. >> 0 woman crumpling getting -- >> knocked out. can we see it? not hit like a goffy wwe wrestling tweet but hit in the back of the head to a force it knocks them out. >> and this is a president up and down looking at people who feel that he fundamentally doesn't get it. he's, you know -- misogynist and then retweets something like this. he's kind of like that old, aging guy who has to bring out his greatest hits every once in a while, an old rock star. releasing something, but what do you say? >> go to the gym! what is he releasing? >> you sound like his doctor. >> i don't know. it's -- harping on this and --
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upset about it. >> putting out a tweet -- >> what looks a little, oh, come ob. trump people, get over it'sthe tweet's stupid, offensive, kind of doesn't matter. when it does matter, if you say it matters you're very -- >> it matters if we go to war with north korea. this is how we find out about it. >> it's says something about this character. >> and last comment? >> i feel like, the problem with the analysis, odd that this objections s idiotic. it's not news. it's not like a character we don't know. he's sent out these times of tweets 24 times before and will again. not exce kuzi i excusing it, but what's new
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that does it fon our hour. our thanks to our panel and "mtp daily" starts right now with steve kornacki in for steve. >> nicolle, thanks for that. if it's monday, identity crisis, hitting the world stage. tonight, the trump identity. could the president's art of the deal with democrats signal changes in his foreign policy? >> reform is what we're talking about. >> plus -- 2018 predictions. we'll talk to senator chris van hollen about the democratic strategy to take back the senate. and moore versus strange. how the president is putting his political capital on the line in the alabama senate battle. this is "mtp daily" and it starts right now.


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