tv Deadline White House MSNBC December 1, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
of the day. that brings a busy hour to a close. i'll see you tomorrow on "velshi and ruhle." have a great weekend. "deadline: white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. one trump adviser put today's bombshell news about mike flynn pleading guilty for lying to the fbi this way. quote, today mike flynn joined team america. the implications of that statement are stunning for two reasons. one, it reveals mike flynn is now cooperate with the mueller investigation and, two, it suggests that before today, flynn was not on team america. he was simply aligned with donald trump. the news rocked an already unsteady west wing staff, a staff that is obsessed with exit strategies and reputation salvation. and most cons kwentsial, today's news may change the calculus for the president, legally and politically. one trump ally i spoke to today
saying, quote, for the first time, i'm worried about the president. for the first time, i'm worried for him. flynn pleaded guilty to lying when interviewed by the fbi last december about his conversations with russian ambassador sergey kislyak. the top snick the russian sanctions that the obama administration slapped onto russia in response to meddling in the presidential campaign. flynn lied about his conversations with the russian ambassador specifically about whether he'd asked the russians to refrain from escalating their response to the obama sanctions. court documents say that on december 29th last year, flynn called a senior transition official who was with other members of the team at mr. trump's mar-a-lago club in florida to discuss what, if anything, to communicate to the russian ambassador about the u.s. sanctions. nbc news is not able to report who that senior official is, but the court documents also reveal an important detail about another one of flynn's communications with foreign officials, including from
russia. on december 22nd, in at least one instance, mr. flynn was directed by a very senior member of mr. trump's presidential transition team. nbc news has just learned that that very senior member was jared kushner. the topic was israel and the u.n. resolution viewed by the trump team as anti-israeli. flynn responded to today's news in a statement. my guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel's office reflect a decision i made in the best interest of my family and our country. i accept full responsibility for my actions. let's get to all of this with our reporters and guests. nbc news national security reporter ken dilanian. he's been outside the federal courthouse where flynn appeared earlier today, all day long. msnbc national security analyst and former chief of staff at the cia and department of defense, jeremy bash is here. matt miller, msnbc justice and security analyst and former chief spokesperson at the justice department. former u.s. attorney now law
professor at the university of alabama, joyce vance. and with me at the table, "new york times" political reporter nick comfosori and ed mullen. former chief policy director for the house of representatives. every time i read that, i wonder what might have been. let's start with you jeremy bash. you and i have talked for almost 12 months about how central mike flynn is to the question, not just of russian collusion, but of whether or not the president of the united states could be implicated in obstruction of justice. your thoughts and your reaction to today's development. >> well, this was not entirely unexpected. we've been hearing for several days that mike flynn was going to be entering some sort of deal with bob mueller. and today we saw it. it was a guilty plea. he is now a convicted felon, and the actual count that he plead guilty to was lying to the fbi on four separate matters.
four separate occasions. and the real question in my mind was not so much, you know, what was the lie about? it was why? what was he trying to cover up? what was he trying to distract the fbi's attention from. what is it about his communications with the president's senior team, with jared kushner, perhaps with the president himself about his communications with russia that he did not want the fbi to know about. i think that is the central question. we know now that russia interfered in the election. we know now the trump team benefited from that interference. we know now that they understood the russian government was going to be involved in the campaign, and we now know they lied to cover their tracks when in fact, the fbi began to investigate it. of course, we now know that the president fired jim comey who was leading that investigation. >> jeremy, let me hit you with one more before we get around to everybody. mike flynn, we know that he checked with someone who was presumably above him or at least
equal to him or sort of swam in his circle of substance. how important is it to the sort of legal and political futures of these men, jared kushner, the vice president, the president, the sitting attorney general. how important must it be to bob mueller to know what mike flynn knows? and how intertwined could the fates of those other men i named, jared kushner, jeff sessions, the vice president and the president be to the mueller investigation? >> yeah, i think the president and his senior team are feeling the heat today because, of course, in pleasing guilty to the single kouncount, flynn avo potential jailtime and he potentially avoided criminal exposure for his own son. but what is he giving the government in return? full cooperation. and he's going to testify to mueller's investigators that not only was he acting alone because he wasn't acting alone. he was acting in full
coordination and concert with the president and his senior team. and so his testimony will implicate the president and his senior team and it really shows that bob mueller's investigation is closing around not just people who were involved with the campaign. not just people who formally served in government but potentially people who are currently serving in government. >> ken dilanian, live with me in this time capsule for a little bit that was the 24-day period that mike flynn was the national security adviser. obviously, what he plead guilty to was a crime he committed before that period. but is it possible that anyone in the white house staff, maybe the white house council was aware that federal investigators believed he lied to them and let him assume the job of national security director anyway? >> don't forget the fbi interview occurred in the white house while he was the national security adviser, nicolle. and they did know because sally
yates told them. mike pence says he didn't know but now we know that other officials were coordinating these conversations with kislyak which did take place during the transition, before they took office. and were coordinating the debate over the u.n. resolution. so, yes, absolutely. this explodes the idea that no one in the white house knew and that he misled everyone. so that's the open question. >> right. i misspoke. i meant the conversations with kislyak that took place during the transition. >> yes. >> that that was when the -- that was when his ax took place that he then lied about when pressed and presented with questions about those calls. so i want to stay here for a minute with you because we don't talk very much about jeff sessions and don mcgahn and the vice president as being people that could be implicated. not necessarily russian collusion, but in perhaps obstruction or, in this case, simply knowledge of what flynn
had done could now come into question. where will the latter -- i keep hearing from prosecutors that this is a process of going up the ladder. what is the next rung on that ladder look like? >> look, in terms of that issue of who knew what, it's always been an open question to me because it was never clear, did flynn explicitly lie to the fbi? sally yates clearly went and told don mcgahn there's a problem with flynn's story. but now we know that she essentially said he lied to the fbi. when she testified, she was unwilling to talk about what she told the fbi. she put don mcgahn, jeff sessions, the white house on notice that flynn lied to the fbi, and they did not fire him. for 18 days until the story leaked to the news media, and then the story was he was fired because he lied to vice president pence, not to though fbi. that puts a whole host of people on notice. the other element of this is we've now reported that jared kushner was the very senior official who asked flynn to get
involved in the u.n. resolution and talk to the russians about that. and so, obviously, jared kushner is very much implicated in that part of the story, nicolle. >> matt miller, let me bring you to this topic of jared kushner's involvement. as ken dilanian just reported and nbc news has now confirmed, jared kushner is one of the senior officials that flynn references specifically in terms of consulting jared kushner in the conversations about how the transition team and ultimately the white house, the posture they would take on the u.n. resolution that was viewed by that team and by other republicans as being very tough on israel. can you speak to what sort of exposure -- it's not a crime for a transition office to have a position on a u.n. resolution, per se, but i imagine lying to investigators when asked about it is where they are all going to be implicated. >> yeah, that's right. it's not a crime for the
transition to have a position. technically, it's a crime under the logan act to try to conduct foreign policy on behalf of the united states but that's a law that's never once been prosecuted and there are constitutional questions about whether it would survive a challenge if anyone ever did try it. the serious questions i think go to the lies and the potential obstruction of justice. so we now know as we've just been discussing that they have lied about these contacts from the beginning. they lied when they were first asked about why -- about flynn's contacts. they said he wasn't discussing sanctions at all. they lied when they said why he was fired. that he was -- because he had lied to the fbi when, in fact -- sorry he had lied to the vice president when in fact, if he did, there were a number of people in on that lie. and so that all gets you to the question of, why then did donald trump try to get the -- try to get the fbi to back off of this investigation into flynn? was it because they knew that he had lied in his interview and he had lied to try to protect this entire false narrative that the white house had been telling?
if so, that puts everyone that was in on that decision to fire comey under legal question. obviously, the president is the person that made that decision but others that were urging it, others that were conspiring would be the legal term to carry out that act. and jared kushner is one of them. they could all come under scrutiny for potential obstruction of justice and that's exactly what bob mueller is looking at. >> joyce, let me bring you in to this part of the conversation and ask about this timeline. the day after flynn departed the white house, quit or was fired because of these revelations, donald trump explained it, the cause as being because he lied to the vice president. i assume that's all under review at this point. but the day after that, according to comey's testimony, donald trump asked comey to see to it to let mike go. said he's a really good guy. i've always thought it was very curious that the loyalty that donald trump displayed to mike
flynn, someone who after paul manafort left said, i hardly knew him. after steve bannon left, he said, i have my own best strategist, you know, the sons were left behind in new york to run -- he's loyal to no one, but mike flynn, he had multiple meetings with jim comey. wanted to have comey's help in letting flynn go. and when he didn't acquiesce, comey was ultimately fired. what do you think is at the heart of an investigation into that relationship between mike flynn and the president? >> so it's obviously not possible to know for certain based on the documents we have in front of us, but we now have a lot of information that leads us in the direction of why mike flynn would have told these lies in the first place. you don't just tell lies for fun. you tell lies because you're trying to cover up something that you think is even worse than the risk of lying to the fbi. and so this incredible loyalty
and this effort to convert jim comey to protecting mike flynn seems to indicate that the lies that are behind flynn's false statements are so bad, implicating flynn and perhaps implicating others all the way into the oval office would be significant enough that the president would stick by his side in the way that we saw him do. >> so jeremy, let me come back to that with -- let me put up the president's tweet on december 30th. this is all in the same time period. and the president praised vladimir putin. he said great move on delay by v. putin. i always knew he was very smart. that was donald trump. and we know he sort of exists in his own feedback loop so that was donald trump in his own sort of trumpian tell taking what i thought was a little bit of credit at the time for improving u.s./russian relations. but can you talk on a more substantive level and from a legal perspective and perhaps
the course of this investigation into how that tweet by the president, this revelation that mike flynn was talking to sergey kislyak and then lied about said conversations with sergey kislyak about sanctions. can you put the picture together with the president's tweet and the president's public statements, included in what you see? >> yeah, it's clear now, nicolle that when the russians interfered in the election and the obama administration sanctioned them for it, what mike flynn did was he got on the phone with ambassador kislyak and said, hang in there. a couple days from now we'll be in office and you don't have to react to the sanctions. basically we're going to watch your back. in the quid pro quo, this was the pro quo. this was the thing that the incoming trump team was giving the russians in exchange for their support during the election. and it's clear that the president, president trump, then the president-elect trump, knew what the russian government had supported him during the
election. that was stated in an e-mail explicitly to don jr. it's clear that jared kushner knew about that. in the meeting with don jr. and now was payback time. the russians were coming to the newly elected team saying help us out as soon as you get into office. flynn told him that secretly. he was caught on a wiretap saying that. now he's a convicted felon because he tried to cover that up. >> jeremy, let's watch the president try and answer this question. and i want to ask you on the other side if this holds up at all. let's watch. >> did you direct mike flynn to discuss sanctions with the russian ambassador. >> no. >> prior to your inauguration. >> no, i didn't. >> would you have fired him if the information hadn't leaked out. >> no, i fired him because of what he said to mike pence. very simple. mike was doing his job. he was calling countries and his counterparts so it certainly would have been wict me if he did it. i would have directed him to do it if i thought he wasn't doing
it. i didn't direct him, but i would have directed him because that's his job. and it came out that way and, in all fairness, i watched dr. charles krauthhammer the other night say he was doing his job. and i agreed with him and since then, i've watched many other people say that. no, i didn't direct him, but i would have directed him if he didn't do it. >> it's a bit of a word salad there to endure. but donald trump's favorite thing to say is to talk about fake news. donald trump put out a lot of fake news himself. everything that came out of his mouth there really doesn't hold up in light of what we just heard. mike flynn wasn't fired for doing his job. mike flynn isn't a convicted felon because he did his job. he's convicted of the felony of perjury. of lying to federal investigators. can you address the president's comments in the context of today's news? >> yeah, the president wasn't
telling the truth there. how do we know that? because we now see from the statement of the offense that mike flynn was not freelansing. he had close coordination with the presidential team, presidential transition team at mar-a-lago. the people surrounding the president-elect. so the president-elect definitely knew that mike flynn was talking to the russians. and again, it's possible that a discussion with the foreign leader is not inappropriate. in fact, it may be appropriate. so there's something clearly inappropriate about it that would cause mike flynn to then lie about it. and i think it's apparent from all the other information we know about this case that the inappropriate aspect was the fact that this was part of the quid pro quo. the russians helped in the election, and now the russian -- now the trump transition team was giving the payback back to the russians. and again, the other aspect that's so unbelievable about the president's answer to kristen welker there is that, basically he said i fired him because he lied to the vice president.
it means he, the president, knew that flynn had done this and yet after sally yates' warning he kept him in the job. and he didn't fire him because he lied to mike pence. he fired him because "the washington post" found bought it. >> i want to add to the conversation "new york times" washington koerncorrespondent ac national correspondent michael schmidt. let me just -- there's a lot of going back in time today because flynn has now been gone longer than he was ever in the white house. but mike flynn was someone i was reminded this morning who chris christie lost his job as transition director over his opposition to mike flynn. and i was reminded that chris christie and his transition team have put together binders for leadership and some of the senior posts, the senate confirmation posts under them. and he didn't put mike flynn's name on any of those lists. i've pressed him on this show and in private about whether he
knew anything about him, whether he knew about his crooked business dealings or not registering as a foreign agent. he says no. but i wonder if it's possible, and i wonder if your paper and your incredible unit is investigating who knew what about flynn in that period from election day to when he was installed as the national security adviser in the white house. because i've heard a list of names today of people that are sweating this out that don't come up a lot. don mcgahn, jeff sessions. in addition to the obvious suspects, people like jared kushner, steve bannon and the vice president. >> well, what we do know is that the transition team was total that flynn had some issues about registering as a foreign agent. so we knew that was something that they knew about. but the transition didn't think that was enough of an issue to stop him from becoming national security adviser. but what some may recall is that when trump went to the white
house to meet with obama right after he was elected, and they have this private meeting, obama says to him, look, national security adviser. that's a very big job. and, look, mike flynn worked for us, and i'm not sure that he's up to this. and you really need to think about that. there's no indication that the president expressed to trump the concerns that the fbi had about flynn or about any of these other issues. but the president was basically saying, big job. not sure this guy is cut out for it. >> nick, that's two people held in pretty high regard by many americans. the sitting president of the united states, president obama, who by all accounts had a very pleasant initial interaction with donald trump in the oval office that day. and chris christie who was sort of the first establishment figure to endorse donald trump who had a big role as the surrogate on his campaign and who, until two days after the election, was serving as the transition director. both of them warned donald trump
about mike flynn. could donald trump have already been entangled? could mike flynn have already been doing some of the trump family's bidding for donald trump? he appointed mike flynn as national security adviser, i think, a day or two after the election. >> that's right. look. there's a huge factual vacuum at the heart of this. jeremy's theory is that this was payback for the interference in the election. but, in fact, you know, the payback and the policy were happening as far as the convention. it's not clear what the quo was here yet. we know that all kinds of financial dealings that the trump family had with folks in russia with russian interests. to me, the real question here is, what accounted for the bending over backwards nature of this relation? why was the ineconomic trump administration so focused on these one sets of issues? of all the things that were happening for this new president, right, to come in and focus the top security adviser
on this question of russian sanctions seems a little odd. i think we have not yet seen what the giveback here was truly. and what was being protected. when you think about the fact, this russia investigation was so sensitive, the president went to the incredible step of firing the fbi director, something here has not yet been reveals. i'm not sure what it is, frankly. >> evan, do you think that the guilty plea by mike flynn today gets republicans in congress any closer to treating this with more urgency? i mean, when the white house talks about firing bob mueller, mitch mcconnell sort of says, i'm going to stay out of it and paul ryan sort of says, he's doing his job. other than bob corker, there have not been a lot of people who have really gone out on a limb and said mueller's work is essential. and we learned in "the new york times" today that the president actually went to a bunch of senate republicans, including the chairman of the senate intel
committee, chairman burr and said, can you wrap this up? the president has no appreciation for the separation of responsibilities in terms of the congressional committees investigating russian interference, and he has really not a lot of regard, obviously, for the special counsel investigating this. do you think this gives any republicans any more steel in their spine? >> you are setting a very low bar. any republicans, any more steel in their spine? yes. >> that's where we are. >> yes, there will be some of that, but, sadly, i expect most of them to continue to follow the path of least resistance which is to say they'll not insert themselves very much. trump still has a base of support that is their base of support. and they are not going to stand up to that. i'm sad to report. but i'll tell you something that i think is interesting about this. we have a situation in which bob mueller, the special counsel, and president trump agree about something.
what is that? they agree that michael flynn is the holder of some very serious information. and that, i think, is going to be very compelling for a lot of people. what that means about what they'll do, republicans in the house and in the senate, i don't think it will translate to very serious action until there's a vote perhaps down the road. but it is very interesting. one thing i'll add is flynn is particularly dangerous to this administration. not only because of the relationship he had with trump and the access he had, but flynn is a trained former senior intelligence operative officer. and so he looks inside the team, the trump team, he can look at what was happening during the campaign, during the transition. he can look at the russian intelligence operation against our democracy and he can interpret things in a very professional way that would be lost on a lot of people. so to have him now on team america, as people are saying, is a big, big deal. >> okay.
we have to sneak in a break. ken dilanian, i want to hit you with one more before that. so when i pressed a former federal prosecutor today about what happens next, what do you get from someone like mike flynn? what are you pursuing after this? they says something about mike flynn. who is above mike flynn other than president trump? >> jared kushner perhaps. >> anyone else? >> one thing we're not talking about -- >> vice president pence and the president. >> jared, the president and -- okay. >> but, you know, the central question of this mueller investigation is, you know, can he prove that the russians colluded with the trump campaign over their interference campaign in the election? and these documents we saw today doesn't shed any light on that. but now mike flynn who is in every meeting, as evan just said, and knows all the secrets of the trump campaign and the first three weeks of the trump
administration, now he's under an obligation to tell mueller everything he may know about any of that collusion if it existed. and so you can't ask for a better witness if you're robert mueller than a guy like mike flynn. >> joyce, let me follow up with you on that string of this conversation. i am also told by a prosecut prosecutor -- that other people who are targets of the investigation don't know what mike flynn has already shared with them. could that be the case? >> this is a real trademark kind of a moment. it's an information in this case because it was filed pursuant to a prenegotiated guilty plea as opposed to an indictment. but they really have the same effect. it's a very spartan document. it drops a couple of hints. it limits itself to flynn's conduct. the lies he gave in talking to the fbi. but, nicolle, one point we shouldn't lose sight of is the people who interacted with
flynn, they know who they are. so whether it was, you know, takior pick. the vice president, kushner, sessions, trump, somebody else who was working on the transition team in the white house staff, they know what their interactions are. they know that flynn is now under an obligation. in order for him to gain the benefit of this plea agreement, he has to tell mueller everything he knows. he has to be truthful. he has to tell fully everything he knows. he can't leave anything out. if he, does the plea agreement is off and instead of looking at this very modest 0 to 6-month sentence, flynn is looking at who knows how much time behind bars. >> it's an important point. we'll keep this conversation going. everyone is staying put. after a quick break, we'll find out how they're reacting inside the white house today when we come back. talk about a catastrophic hire. especially the transition. was mike flynn very involved in the transition when you were the chair of it or did his
involvement -- was it an up tick after -- >> his involvement ratcheted up after. i kept him out of the transition when i was in charge and it ratcheted up significantly the day after the election, and i was gone three days after the election. so, yeah, listen. you and i agree on this. and this is nothing that if the president were watching right now, he'd be surprised to hear from me. i begged him to get rid of mike flynn. the morning walk was so peaceful. until... it... wasn't. don't let type 2 diabetes get between you and your heart. even if you reach your a1c goal you are still at risk for heart attack or stroke. talk to your health care provider today about diabetic heart disease. and find out more at heartoftype2.com. your heart and type 2 diabetes. make the connection. we're on a mission to show drip coffee drinkers, it's time to wake up to keurig.
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mike flynn, i asked for his resignation. he respectfully gave it. >> can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with russia during the course of the election? >> i told you general flynn, obviously, was dealing, so that's one person, but he was dealing as he should have been. >> during the, leks? >> nobody that i know of.
>> you report aware any of connecti connections during the election? >> we're up to about 11 contacts your campaign aides had but facts schmacs. hans nichols joins us. i heard the mood around the white house is pretty grim but what kind of face are a putting on it? >> they had their holiday face on. they had a holiday party here. they didn't have their public face because there was a meeting that took place between the president and the prime minister. there was supposed to be a pool for that to go in, take a picture. normally we do hear from the president in situations like that. that didn't happen. and the one public statement we have from the president, the most important one is him voicing support for rex tillerson, his secretary of state, saying it's fake news that he's considering firing him and he and rex get along very well. so the president clearly offering a lifeline and a strong vote of support for his embattled secretary of state. so that's where we are today. we're still -- what we believe
at nbc news, according to people familiar with the matter is that the contact on that december 22nd conversation between michael flynn and a very senior transition official was jared kushner. and that the 29th, december 29th one we're still trying to figure out who that senior official was. here's the interesting thing, nicolle. because that was in the statement of an offense, what was the significance? what were the prosecutors trying to get at by mentioning senior transition official and a very senior transition official on the 22nd and 29th? is there an effort to have them and to somehow put them into a perjury trap? >> are there people in the white house who will acknowledge that perhaps some of the lunacy we've seen on the president's twitter feed in the last 7 to 10 days was tied to either a feeling or a tip or the possibility that he saw this coming? there's a daily beast headline that says donald trump suspected for weeks that mike flynn would
flip. a pretty good hunch if a man's son is involved and donald trump should know because he's got his son involved in russia, the russia investigation as well. >> well, you know, at nbc we haven't confirmed that report. and what we do have is some reporting that -- this is a very bad day for the president, and they recognize that flynn's decision to cooperate and that flynn's decision to plead guilty, the guilty plea is one thing. it's the cooperation that's of significance he could have bad implications for the president because michael flynn knows everything mean was with the president for so long throughout the campaign, throughout the transition. so the idea that this was a lot of a twitter behavior. let's use that noun, in the last seven days was somehow trying to lead up or had something to do with this impending day. i don't know. you are a better student at just whether or not, how you chart the president's tweets, where theyor a relative lunacy scale. i don't feel like i'm particularly able to adjudicate
that. >> i'm putting that on my resume. i'm a good lunacy barometer. let me get you to sort of relive this timeline with me a little bit. going back to -- i think jeremy, either you or jeremy mentioned sally yates. and jeremy suggested that sally yates must have known when she went to white house counsel dan mcgann and warned him mike flynn could be a target of blackmail with the russians. is it our sense she also warned him and told him and was already in possession of the knowledge that he lied to the fbi when asked about his contacts with sergey kislyak? >> she didn't know that he had lied to the fbi. she went and gave that warning two days after his interview with the fbi when she testified about it. she said that what she warned don mcgahn was that the white house's public statements about these conversations hadn't been truthful and because of that, mike flynn was subject to
blackmail. she also testified that mcgann asked her about that fbi interview and said did he do okay or is he okay? and she refused to answer the question. that's -- that should be a red flag to the white house counsel when the deputy attorney general won't answer the question, that's an answer. i think we talked about yesterday about the way sessions not answering questions on the hill was an answer. that's a clear indication he had a problem, that he probably had lied to the fbi. don mcgahn should have taken it as such and should have acted accordingly. >> a lot of these dates came with from stories with your byline or stories in your paper so i'm not trying to trip you up at all, but on january 24th, mike flynn made statements to the fbi about his interactions with kislyak. january 26th, sally yates warned don mcgahn about him. on january 27th, trump asked fbi director jim comey for his loyalty. on january 30th, trump fired yates for not defending the
travel ban. that was the reason they gave. however it was four days after she warned the white house about flynn. seems like a short amount of time to get worked up about the travel ban. on february 13th, flynn resigned. so there's a question about all the things he did between the yates warning on january 26th and his resignation on the 13th. i think, among other things, he sat in on calls with vladimir putin. he was aware of special operations. obviously, anything the military was doing that the president was briefed on. he would have been aware any of classified secret national security information that the president was in possession of. and then on february 14th, in an oval office meeting, trump told comey, he's a good guy and has been through a lot. i hope you can see your way clear to letting it go. can you speak to this timeline in the context of today's guilty plea from mike flynn and how it
pulls in other people who may be leaving work early today to go visit with their lawyers. >> well, the first 25 days of this administration are really fascinating. there's so much that's going on. we know that just four days in, the fbi is at the white house talking to flynn. and it's -- and then you see it build from there where the president sits with comey in the blue room and has dinner and asks him for his loyalty. the other thing in the timeline is papadopoulos, the one that the transition official who plead guilty recently about his contacts with russians. he was interviewed that friday, the same day comey had the dinner with trump. there's all these different events and things that go on that are now playing themselves out almost a year later in a way that is so detrimental to this administration. it's the russia question has cast this cloud over trump and his administration just in a way that's really hindered them, and
they can't move past it as we come up for the end of this first year. >> i want to play a piece from comey's testimony because i think we covered this together, and it's almost haunting to watch it all these months later. >> i hope this is the president speaking. i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go. now those are his exact words, is that correct? >> correct. i took it as a direction. this is the president of the united states with me alone saying i hope this. i took it as, this is what he wants me to do. i didn't obey that, but that's the way i took it. >> jeremy bash, does that testimony -- do we have more information about what comey knew when he testified? i remember there were a bunch of instances that day where he asked to go into closed session, and i always wondered if he was saying, listen, you don't have the whole set of facts on flynn. we knew for many months that he had lied to the fbi.
does comey's role here -- do the facts get better or worse for comey or do trump and comey simply continue on the divergent paths? >> i think it's clear that comey knew two things. number one, that mike flynn had lied. and number two, that it was highly inappropriate for the president to try to put pressure on the person leading the investigation. and third, of course, by the time that testimony ran, in june, jim comey had been fired. and just to add a couple of things to the timeline that you referenced earlier in your conversation with matt and michael and others, on may -- excuse me omay 8th, that's when sally yates testified about the potential blackmail, about the potential that mike flynn could have been blackmailed. the very next day is when the president fired jim comey. i think what happened in the white house is the president said oh, my god, sally yates is onto us. she warned us. she called out the fact that we knew that flynn had lied to the
fbi. we were okay with it. we got busted by it. it was only that -- because of "the washington post" reporting on it that we had to let flynn go. we got to shut this investigation right -- down right now. i need jim comey out there and there was the potential obstruction of justice. >> what jeremy lays out is known because donald trump told us so. he told lester holt, i was going to fire jim comey because i didn't like the way he was conducting the russia investigation. a lot of these things are hiding in plain sight. >> in this whole investigation and with this white house in general, what we keep finding is they keep admitting to things that would be bombshells if they were ferreted out by a prosecutor or a reporter. and, of course, number one is the president saying, no, no, that statement was wrong. i actually fired him because of russia. if you pull back from the timeline, what you see is two things in parallel. one, a repeated pattern of contacts with russian businessmen and officials and
operatives all the way to the seychell seychelles. so you can look at the pattern of policies as -- >> why? why? >> that's the real question. you can look at the pattern of policies, the sanctions. >> go back even further to the convention platform. >> the convention platform on arming the anti-ukrainian separatists. those are all important to putin. and you can say that could be -- >> but why was putin important to trump? >> exactly. and why did he feel that he had to do these things for this man and his associates? what was the card being played here? i still believe we're going to find out that there are investments or financial ties or difficulties or simply relationships that explain some of this. could have been leverage. could have just been the president is a real estate developer. these hare his buys are and partners and investors.
they're his people. what's good for him is good for them and vice versa. could be worse than that. >> it's not just donald trump's affinity forever pro-russia policies. he made that clear by his team acquiescing to the changes in the republican platform. but he doubled down over and over and over again with our colleague joe scarborough in saying, you know, joe challenged him and said putin kills disdents and reporters and he says, so do we. it wasn't just pro-putin foreign policy that oriented donald trump. and we should say that donald trump didn't have much foreign policy acumen at all. to say he had any was simply to agree with putin's world view. what's your theory on why donald trump on a policy level and very much on a personal level had such affection and affinity and almost lust for everything putinesque? >> i think there are different parts of it. first of all, i think that president trump, as a
businessman, as a real estate developer, learned to rely on russian financing for projects. okay. that financing very easily can involve money laundering, okay? if that happened, it's compromising. that's compramount to put it in the russian term. it sneaks up on a person who gets caught up in it but that alone isn't enough for the russians to have leverage over trump. i think it's deep thaern that. president trump has a personality that's sympathetic to authoritarianism. he doesn't respect -- >> personality or personality disorder? >> one of the two. but it's those two things aligned but i'll tell you an intelligence operations, that's often the way it is. it's not just one thing or the other. it's someone has a vulnerability. extreme greed and willingness to skirt the law. then an ideological alignment as well. and so you can get in there with that.
before you know it with these different means you control a person. you have significant leverage over them. and that's what we see with trump. >> it certainly appears to be the case. thanks to hans nichols, ken dilanian and mike schmidt for spending time with us. we'll get reaction to today's big developments from steve schmidt. >> lock her up. lock her up. >> lock her up! lock her up! >> you guys are good. damn right. exactly right. there's nothing wrong with that. >> lock her up! lock her up! >> and you know why? and you know why? you know why we're saying that? we're saying that because if i -- a guy who knows this business -- if i did one-tenth of what she did, i would be in jail today.
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let me be very clear. i did not collude with russia, nor do i know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. i had no improper contacts. i have not relied on russian funds for my businesses. and i have been fully transparent in providing all requested information. donald trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won. suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him. >> jeremy bash, when i listen to that again, i hear all the things he didn't say. he denies collusion, and he denies inappropriate contact. at no point does he deny contact with russians. >> and let's just think about
this in light of this morning's development. when jared kushner made that statement, he knew that he and others at the presidential transition team at mar-a-lago in december 2016 had conferredmar- december 2016, directed him to have contacts with ambassador kislyak. when the fbi questioned mike flynn, he lied about it. the white house was informed from the justice department. jared kushner and the president knew all of these things and, of course, had to fire mike flynn as a result. people say, we had no improper contacts with russians and know all of those facts, it really makes us question whether or not they're giving the entire story. >> joyce, let me ask you, we know the president knows where the pardon button is. used it for sheriff joe arpaio. what do you make of sort of -- heard two schools of thought. one, the president could still be, pardon flynn, pardon flynn's
son. pardon jared, if he ends up in trouble. others say it's gone too far. too far along. could create a constitutional crisis if he starts pardoning people in the midst of the mueller probe? >> right. the two sides of the coin that we see on the pardon issue. can he issue pardons? absolutely can. he has the power to pardon anyone, except for himself in the context of an impeachment proceeding. would he precipitate a constitutional crisis at this point if he started to give pardons? you know, this isn't a typical presidential pardon where you issue pardons in unique circumstances in the issue of justice and fairness. these would be pardons designed to give a free pass to someone who might be able to implicate trump himself. that's a very different kind of pardon. and in that context, i have to believe that congress would view this as a constitutional crisis, and the pardon might be the first step towards impeachment
or some other design to fix what's wrong in the white house. >> perfect time to bring in our friend, republican strategist and msnbc contributor steve schmidt. do you have any confidence that even if mueller's investigation takes the question of obstruction of justice, of firing comey, to halt an investigation that was going to get all the way into the center of his west wing and into the center of his family, do you have any confidence that if donald trump started pardoning everybody, if he fired mueller, do you really think that the republican-led congress would impeach donald trump or convict donald trump? >> i don't believe they would, nicolle, but it would precipitate a constitutional crisis and would cross the line where impeachment would be the only practical remedy to the president's assault on the constitution, and then what i think would happen is the 2018 election would become a referendum on that question. i think every democrat in the
country running for office would have to make clear their position on it, and i think that when you look at the electorate, you would see the formation of a broad coalition who stands in opposition to this president's assault on the constitution if that were to be the case. >> steve, do you -- i've seen folks like former congressman david jolly, folks like yourself, mark salter, former colleague from the mccain campaign, say that basically a democrat-controlled congress is the only option for any check on donald trump and should make any differences in policy, economic or social moot. if you don't support some check on this white house, you don't support democracy? >> look, end of the day i think those are the dynamics the country is facing in 2018. the question isn't about domestic policy. the question is fundamentally about the constitution of the
united states. this president's increasingly erratic behavior. the complicity of a republican congress. the absolute unwillingness with a few exceptions for republicans to state out loud what so many believe privately. he's manifestly unfit. that he's attacking institutions from the press to the judiciary. that he's interfering in investigations. we now know for sure he brazenly lied to the american people on the question of russia. as christine welker's question points out. what we know for sure is that we live in a time now of present danger to our institutions, to our republican order, and i do think that there will be a coalition of democrats, independents and a significant, certainly not a majority, but a significant amount of republican
whose come to this in 2018. >> steve, spliecifically on mik flynn pleading guilty to the fbi, documents make clear they've got him on other things, lying about his business on behalf of turkish officials. we talked this week about the tragic fall from grace of his combat, a veteran of combat, 33-year career in the military. can you talk specifically about the body of work mike flynn's body of work on the trump campaign and why he would be valuable, so valuable to bob mueller he would only charge him with a fraction of what bob mueller knows about him? >> we don't know yet. the way it works, the pyramid gets nay oher t narrower the hi. only a couple people higher on that pyramid than mike flynn,
indispensable in that campaign and he made him the national security advisers despite president obama saying, don't do it, sally yates saying he's compromised. despite governor christie saying i have a bad feeling about him. he has brought dishonor and discredit to this administration. this is a compromise national security adviser who lied to the fbi about his contacts with the russian ambassador in the middle of an investigation about whether the trump campaign colluded with the russians. it's impossible to overstate what a big deal this is. how important it is. and once again today this moves closer to the oval office, and we see the unraveling of all the lies, the president's lies, the vice president's lies, the attorney general's lies and an administration as a nonstop proclivity to lying, now seeing criminal consequences of it. >> sneak in one more break. don't go anywhere. we'll be right back. ♪
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i'm so sorry we ran out of time. could have gone another hour. my thanks to steve schmidt, matt miller, jeremy bash, joyce janus and evan mcmullin. that does it for "deadline." i'm nicolle wallace. "mtp daily" starts now. >> i know what you're stuck doing at 8:00 thom with mark. >> exactly. >> all about the you. >> comeback. if it's friday, it's official. michael flynn flipped. tonight -- the president's former national security adviser flips on the president, and pleads guilty to lying to the fbi. >> the process is working. the special counsel has a mandate. >> what has bob mueller already learned? >> this is clearly not the last shoe to fall. >> does mike flynn's deal leave president trump and his inner circle exposed? why is he so desperate to have this investigation stopped?
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