tv Deadline White House MSNBC January 23, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
these negotiations and agreements are i harnherently zero-sum, and for america to come first, do other countries have to take a back seat or can agreements be truly win/win? >> look, the president believes we can have truly win/win agreements. america first is not america alone. i said in my remarks, when we grow, the world grows. when the world grows, we grow. we're part of a world economy and the president believes that. he's going to talk to world leaders about making sure we all respect each other, we all abide by the laws, we all have free, fair, open -- >> hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. we're going to continue to monitor the white house briefing of sarah huckabee sanders or any of her partners today have anything to say about our top stories. we will bring you those comments. in the meantime, special counsel bob mueller just stole the plot line right back from this president and this white house. the breaking news today that the
special counsel has interviewed the sitting attorney general, jeff sessions, as part of the russia investigation. jeff sessions becomes the first trump cabinet member that we know of to be questioned. that was first reported by "the new york times'" michael schmidt and confirmed by nbc news. nbc news is also reporting that the special counsel has interviewed former fbi director jim comey about his memos. those memos were contemporaneous notes that he has testified under oath to have taken after every single interaction with donald trump. these twin developments are reigniting speculation in washington, d.c., today about bob mueller focusing in on potential obstruction of justice by the president and his associates. something jim comey was asked about under oath. >> i don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation i had with the president was an effort to obstruct. i took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning.
that's the conclusion i'm sure the special counsel will work toward to try to understand what the intention was there and whether that's an offense. >> in his interview with lester holt on nbc, the president said, i had dinner with him, he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. is this an accurate statement? >> no, sir. >> the president said in one case, i called him, and in one with case, he called many eed . is that an accurate statement? >> no. >> the president was asked whether he urmged you to shut down the investigation into michael flynn. the president responded, "no, no. next question." is that an accurate statement? >> i don't believe it is. >> to help us understand the significance of both of these developments, and the news that's just breaking in the "washington post" as we come on the air, that bob mueller seeks to question the president in the next few weeks about his decision to fire michael flynn and jim comey. we've invited some of the very best reporters and experts to join us. with us from washington, nbc's own intelligence and national security reporter ken dilanian. chuck rosenberg, former u.s.
attorney who worked on the staffs of, get this, both robert mueller and james comey at the fbi. we're lucky that he's now an msnbc contributor. and joining us from the "washington post," political reporter robert costa. also moderator of "washington week." let me read a little bit of this story that broke as i sat down here. "washington post" reporting that mueller seeks to question trump about flynn and comey departures. the president's legal team hoping to provide trump's testimony in a hybrid form, answering some questions in a face-to-face interviews. others in a written statement. those discussions come amid signs of stepped up activity by the special counsel. last week, attorney general jeff sessions interviewed for several hours by mueller's investigators according to justice department officials. chuck rosenberg, let me start with you. and ask you, we know that bob mueller is running a tight ship with zero leaks, but we also know today that he wants to talk to, or has already talked to,
jeff sessions, a sitting attorney general to this president. jim comey, about his firing and other goings ons. and this breaking news this afternoon that he wants to talk to the president specifically about the dismissals of michael flynn and jim comey. what does the picture look like to you, from your vantage point? >> well, nicolle, it's getting a little bit clearer. none of this should be surprising. you described these as developments. they're more like revelations. let me explain what i mean. one of the reasons that mr. sessions recused himself is because he knew he would inevitably be a witness in this case. so to learn that the mueller team wanted to talk to a witness is not at all surprising. with respect to former director comey, for whom i had the privilege of working, those memos that he wrote, those contemporaneous notes as you describe them, are incredibly important and that's something i presume that bob mueller's team would have wanted to talk to jim about very early in the
investigation. make sure they're accurate, make sure that he didn't leave any detail out and to figure out who else they needed to talk to to figure out what happened when the president and director comey spoke to one another. >> ken dilanian, let me bring you in in here. we have stalk eed now for month about the twin tracks the mueller probe appears to be on, both the obstruction of justice investigation, your and your colleagues in the investigative unit have reported that mueller's investigators appear to be assembling a timeline of everything that happened, perhaps starting at the moment that they were first warned by sally yates that michael flynn could be a target for blackmail. can you take me through some of what you understand to be that obstruction of justice timeline, and how you see these now three developments of the known te testimony from jeff sessions. i like the way chuck rosenberg puts these, these aren't developments from the investigation standpoint, these
are revelations in terms of the fact we now know about them. that we now know about them, put them in the proper place in the obstruction of justice timeline. >> yeah, i really think that today's developments are signaling to us that mueller is moving, perhaps, more quickly than we realize along the obstruction of justice track. it doesn't really explain what he's doing on the collusion track, but we'll put that aside for now. it's looking more and more like he is wrapping up or getting close to the end on obstruction of justice. and as a smart man named chuck rosenberg said to me in the hallway, you can interview witnesses more than one time in an investigation, so it doesn't mean this is the only crack that he's going to get at these people. but it's clear that, you know, we've known since james comey went before congress that he is the most important witness in the obstruction of justice case. i don't think that he, alone, gets mueller there, but he -- he is prepared to testify that the president of the united states gave him what he interpreted as an order to make an fbi investigation go away.
that, on its face, looks to people like obstruction of the justice. now, donald trump denies doing that. one of the things robert mueller's team is going to have to do is corroborate the comey memos and comey statements and do that by speaking to the people that comey talked to at the time and also potentially to white house officials who spoke to donald trump about it. sorry, go ahead. >> no, i was going to ask you, ken, is that what makes don mcgahn so important to all this? i know he's not a household name but we've come on the air before and talked about how the white house counsel don of, two days with the special counsel mueller's investigators. he is one of the people who was in the loop, if you will, in the receipt of the information from sally yates about mike flynn, perhaps, being compromised, as well as in the loop as far as we understand on the president's machinations, if not his decisionmaking process, to fire flynn and comey. >> that's right.
he's really important because there's a fundamental question about the whole mike flynn situation that we don't know the answer to, which is we do not know if donald trump asked mike flynn to go meet with sergey kislyak during the transition and negotiate behind the obama administration's back about sanctions or whether flynn did that on his own. and if donald trump dispatched his national security adviser to do that, then of course he knew that when flynn said that he didn't talk about sanctions, that was a lie. everything flows from that. mcgahn may be a fact witness to that and may be an important witness to the president's state of mind about why he fired comey and whether it was, in fact, to help make the russia investigation go away or whether it was about the stated reason of, you know, being angry that comey mishandled the clinton investigation. so you're absolutely right, so comey brings us an important fact witness in obstruction of justice but you also need people inside the white house to talk
about donald trump's state of mind i think. >> robert costa, let me. put up your paper's breaking news headline. as we sat down. i saw you looking at your phone. i looked at mine. i learned mueller seeks to question trump about flynn and comey departures. i want to play you jim comey in testimony describing how he felt about what the president was asking him to do in terms of the russia investigation. we'll talk about it on the other side. . >> i hope, this is the president speaking, "i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. s he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go." now, those are his exact words. sthat corre is that correct? >> i took it as a direction. the president of the united states with me, alone, i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i didn't obey that. that's the way i took it. >> robert costa, the president even always speak that politely or kindly to his direct reports. obviously, that is what the president wanted the outcome to
be. can you speak to, have you heard from any white house sources or anyone close to this investigation on the white house side about their reaction to all of the developments, the sessions testimony, the comey testimony, and news breaking in your newspaper that special counsel mueller would like to talk to the president about the firing and the dismissal of flynn and the firing of jim comey? >> nicolle, talking to people deeply familiar with the mueller process, they say to the woest w "washington post" and told me in recent days the focus of this investigation is on russia and its interference in the 2016 campaign, but it is also about the judgment, possible obstruction of justice by this administration and what the "post" -- what the "post" is reporting today and it reveals is that the mueller team is looking very seriously about the decision to fire jim comey, about the conduct of the attorney general, the president, the president's advisers.
they are mapping out in their office in southwest washington all of these different relationships, all these moments and trying to piece it all together. >> and there's a lot to work with, chuck rosenberg. we've got some testimony that we pulled up today just to take another look, again, i think your point is worth reminding our viewers over and over again, the conversations we have are about the information that's been made public, but there is so much more that bob -- don rumsfeld used to call them known unknowns. bob mueller knows they're the known unknowns. let's look at one of the places where they dug themselves a hole in terms of the veracity, the truthfulness, if you will, of those comments, was around what was behind the decision to fire jim comey. let's watch some sessions testimony. >> specifically, what was your designated role in the decision to fire director comey? >> it is -- it's a manner that i can share some information about
because the president, himself, has talked about it and revealed that letter. he asked that deputy rosenstein and i make our recommendations in writing. we prepared those recommendations and submitted it to the president. senator feinstein, i don't think it's been fully understood the significance of the error that mr. comey made on the clinton matter. >> so, chuck rosenberg, that would be a fine and good thing to say under oath if it were true, but we know from donald trump's interview with lester holt that he fired jim comey because he didn't like the way the russia investigation was going. what does that look like to an investigator? >> well, that's exactly right. the lester holt interview is very important. you know, sometimes, nicolle, we conflate big names with important witnesses. if you have a big name, then you
must be an important witness. but that's not true to prosecutors. for instance, if a bank is robbed, there might be a homeless gentleman sitting out front of the bank who seeings the license place of the getaway car. he's an important witness. the ceo of wells fargo, if it was a wells fargo branch, is not an important witness. important witnesses could be anybody the president admitted to that he had fired jim comey because of the russia thing. lester holt may be one of many, many people who know what the president was actually thinking when he fired comey. >> that's a funny thought, i mean, lester holt and his millions and millions of viewers. i mean, obviously that was broadcast on live television. and i want to ask you, ken dilanian, if that is something that the white house has revisited. is that something that they have tried to recast? have the president's lawyers said, listen, he's hiding in plain sight, how could he be guilty of obstruction of justice? he told lester holt he fired jim
comey because he didn't like the way the russia investigation was going. has the white house tried to pin this on sessions? and i actually -- before you answer that, i think i have sean spicer offering the same explanation that sessions gave. let's watch that. >> i think the president was given a recommendation by the deputy attorney general who the fbi director reports to. the attorney general concurred with that that the fbi director had lost the confidence to lead the fbi, and the president took the recommendation and agreed with it. >> did anyone at the white house order the department of justice to do this review into fbi director comey? >> no. >> i mean, i don't know, bless his heart is all i can think of to say, but, i mean, none of those statements have held up. if you believe the president, he has said he fired jim comey because he didn't like the way the russia investigation was going. >> absolutely. and not only that question, nicolle, but my recommendation, question for the white house today, was is it your position, is it the president's position that jim comey was lying when he
said that you asked him to drop the mike flynn matter? when he asked for your loyalty. because that's what donald trump has said in sort of a backhanded way. he hasn't used the phrase, lying. we're getting down to brass tax. we know mueller has taken that testimony and has james comey's story. so what exactly is the president of the united states saying about that? is he saying it's a lie? is he saying there's some nuance here? that's a really important question, i think. >> robert costa, let me put that to you. what is the white house's position about what jim comey asserts for the reason behind this firing? >> at some point, they're going to be forced to answer that question when it comes to the special counsel. the real question i have as a reporter, i'm trying to figure this out when i talk to my white house sources, is will the president actually meet with robert mueller and his team? because there could be a negotiation in the coming weeks and months about whether it's a written response to the special
counsel's question. whether it's an actual in-person interview. these are things that are being talked about inside of the west wing by ty cobb and john dowd according to people familiar with those discussions about how to handle this as it continues to heat up. the white house has not made any firm decisions but continues to maintain that it's open to working with the mueller team. >> and let me just read this headline one more time from your paper, robert costa, news breaking in the last 30 minutes that bob mueller seeks to question donald trump about flynn and comey departures. chuck, let me ask you to speak to whether or not from a prosecutor standpoint, if you have a witness like jeff sessions who's been engage e eda pretty hostile public feud with the president, the president taking to twitter and taking to the rose garden. i think i have some of it. president in the rose garden talking about being disapointed in the attorney general. let's watch that. >> well, i don't think i am doing that, but i am disappointed in the attorney
general. he should not have recused himself almost immediately after he took office, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office and i would have quite simply picked somebody else. i'm very disappointed with the attorney general, but we will see what happens. time will tell. time will tell. >> chuck, is it even legal to say "if he was going to recuse hil himself, he should have told me prior to taking office and i would have picked somebody else." did the president admit to obstructing justice unwittingly? >> i'm not sure the one statement gets you there, nicolle, but it's interesting because when mr. sessions recused himself, he did so because he thought he might be a witness. what did we learn today? he was, in fact, a witness. it looks like he did exactly the right thing. could i just add one point -- >> please. >> -- to robert's observation? and your question to him.
the reason you want to see people in person, whether it's jim comey or jeff sessions or the president of the united states when you're an investigator or a prosecutor, is to gauge their body language, their tone of voice, their inflection. you want to look somebody in the eye just as you do on television, nicolle, and gauge their response. and doing it in writing might be a great idea for the folks in the white house, but it's not going to fly with the prosecutors. that's not how they do business. >> let me ask you the other half of that question, then, what would the intent be to putting an answer in writing? >> well, when you put it in writing, you have lots and lots of time to reflect on it -- >> reflect or -- or what? >> well, perhaps i'm using reflect as a euphemism, but you run it by a whole bunch of lawyers who try to massage your responses. that's not how procesecutors do business. they want to look you in the eye, a fbsk you a question and gauge your response. i have a very difficult time believing that written responses
are going to cut it for mueller. >> ken dilanian, you want to get in on this idea of why the white house would think that somebody like bob mueller would accept written responses, which i think chuck's still being polite here. i think a written response when you talking about donald trump if it's written by someone other than donald trump means perhaps something not entirely representing the truth. >> yeah, i don't think the white house thinks that robert mueller will accept that, nicolle. i think it's a negotiating position. the white house has some leverage here because donald trump can exert executive privilege. he can also exert his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to speak to the special counsel. the executive privilege thing, i think ultimately mueller would win. supreme court in the united states versus nixon has decided that executive privilege -- that criminal investigation trumps executive privilege. he could tie it up in litigation for a while. mueller doesn't want that. there's some leverage maybe
about the venn you of tue of t . interview. no way he's going to accept written questions. the white house lawyers who have don't plenty of white collar cases know that, initiatinicoll >> joining the conversation is eli stokols, political analyst and someone who's the creator of presidential tells. i want to ask you to get in on this breaking news, eli, "washington post" just before we came on the air reporting that mueller seeks to question donald trump about flynn and comey departures. the other breaking news headlines today from michael schmidt and from ken dilanian and his team that sessions has met with and been interviewed by mueller's special counsel investigators. he has become, that we know of, the first trump cabinet member to be interviewed in the mueller probe. as well as the development that we know now that comey has testified or met with, spent time with bob mueller's special counsel investigators. so i want you to reflect on all
those breaking news headlines, and i want to tell you what i heard today from someone familiar with the president's legal representation because we've been debating wlore ining not mueller would actually be able to live with the idea of trump submitting written responses. one of the president's allies on the outside said that the president's lawyers do not exactly represent the "a" team of legal eagles out there. and that there were a whole lot of people who were uninterested or unwilling to represent this president for a variety of reasons. might this be a moment when bob mueller is honing in on you that you wish you had the "a" team? >> well, the president, nicolle, never feels like he has the "a" team when things are going wrong, always looks to other folks to blame. his legal team is not unlike the team he's assembled in the west wing beset by a lot of friction and power struggles and rivalries and leaking at times from folks on the legal team and as you know, this is a president who takes a lot of outside counsel, calls folks from the residence in the evening and
wants to know what they think, how things are going. at times he has heard from folks who believe he is not getting the best legal advice. he's heard from lot of people who have encouraged him not to be so cooperative, to fight this. alan dershowitz is one person who has gotten close to the president, who has spoke within the president, has instructed him, i'm told, to be more combative, to fight back on some of these things, to consider litigation. to hold some of this up in court. to slow this process down a little bit. whether or not the president is going to listen to some of those outside voices or continue to put his faith in the lawyers that he has representing him, i guess we'll see. but you can certainly also understand why the people who are representing the president might prefer to have him do a lot of this in writing just because this is a guy who we've seen world leaders do it, we've seen members of congress do it. he's very susceptible to flattery. i've spoken with attorneys here in washington who in recent
years before he was president, but not too long ago, deposed donald trump in other lawsuits and said, you know, if you compliment his kids and have a couple nice minutes of banter with him, he'll give you everything you need. and so you can understand why some of these attorneys are nervous about letting the president go into this meeting with bob mueller not knowing everything that the special counsel knows. the lawyers for good reason probably a lot more nervous than the president, himself, might be heading into such a meeting. >> and eli, let me get your thoughts on the news that jeff sessions has also now gone before bob mueller's investigators and let's focus in on the fact that he testified under oath that comey was fired because of the way, basically the way he'd handled the investigation into hillary clinton's e-mail. donald trump undermined his own attorney general. he's undermined i think a good half of the cabinet by now. he undermined that sworn
testimony in an interview with lester holt where he said i fired jim comey, is was going t do it all along because i didn't like the russia investigation. how -- what is your understanding of the current relationship between the two men and what is your understanding about the posture that jeff sessions has taken with that building really the justice department, the fbi, the target of constant, constant smears and political attacks from the president and his allies in the right-wing media? >> well, there's so many conflicting stories out there from the president, from attorney general sessions and others, who are part of the campaign as far as what happened and from folks inside the white house as far as the actual story with the firing of jim comey. i think, you know, most of jeff sessions' actions, i mean, we know that that relationship has really deteriorated since last year when he was sworn in as an attorney general. and it's all because he didn't recuse himself from this investigation. that story is out there. the president still sort of smarts over that.
feels like jeff sessions could have prevented a lot of this grief that he's now dealing with with the special counsel probe continuing. and what i see when i see jeff sessions talking to the white house counsel, perhaps, putting pressure on chris wray to get rid of andrew mccabe, all sorts of stories, when i see jeff sessions out there maligning the fbi, which is part of the justice department, when he's maligning the fbi, when he's sort of participating in that sort of conservative ecochamber, the fbi derangement syndrome that you hear on fox news. when he's participating in that, what i see is an attorney general who's publicly trying to get himself back in the president's good graces. whether or not that lines up with what he tells the special counsel under oath privately, that's another question. >> let me play the president being asked about just what eli's talking about. and that is any concerns about sessions' testimony. >> general told the special
counsel -- >> no, i'm not at all concerned. >> did you talk to him about it? >>. no, i didn't but i'm not at all concerned. >> chuck rosenberg, let me ask you if you are at all concerned about what you're hearing from the commander in chief about individual named members of the fbi, about the integrity of the nation's top law enforcement agency. and i know we can assert and agree on the fact that they are all trained professionals, wholly focused on their mission. i heard from a couple sources inside the fbi that they're growing wary of being the subject of so much political turmoil. >> yeah, personally and professionally, it really truly bothers me. i had the privilege of working there, as you mentioned, nicolle, both for bob mueller and jim comey. lots and lots of people that i respect and admire still work there. so to hear the president of the united states criticize,
castigate, the bureau, the leadership of the bureau, is really deeply troubling. and moreover, you know, agents go all over the country and all over the world in large part on their good will and on their credibility and reputation. if you want somebody to sit down with you and talk to you about a difficult case you're investigating, it's often because they trust you and they trust your agency and they're willing to help you. and if we begin to undermine that, we've lost a great deal in this country. >> your comments are eerily similar to ones made to me by general mike hayden almost exactly a year ago when donald trump was engaged in a hot war with his own intelligence community. all right. as punishment for being so bril yach brilliant, you're staying put. wo we're adding, just getting started. when we come back, we'll find out how the white house is reacting to this breaking news and the reports today the new fbi director christopher wray is
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well, it's a shame what happened with the fbi. we're going to rebuild the fbi, it will be bigger and better than ever. it's very sad when you look at those documents and how they've done that is really, really disgra disgraceful and you have a lot of very angry people that are seeing it. it's a very sad thing to watch. i will tell you that. >> so donald trump rebuilding the fbi means cleaning house of career law enforcement professionals who he believes are bias against him. no reporting from axios paints the portrait of his embattled attorney general willing to do his bidding there. "attorney general jeff sessions
at the public urging of donald trump has been pressuring fbi director christopher wray to fire deputy director andrew mccabe. wray threatened to resign if mccabe was removed according to three sources with direct knowledge. trump whose presidencyfined by and justice department denies wray threatened to quit. neither he nor his white house -- >> the president's got, as i just said, a great deal of confidence in director wray. he put him there for a reason. he wants him to lead the fbi, clean up some of the problems of the past leader of the fbi, director comey and i think we have full confidence in his ability to do that and we're going to leave some of those big decisions to him. >> look, i haven't had that conversation. my understanding is he's up for retirement, anyway, but the president has put director wray
in charge to look at those things and make those decisions. >> he just undermines him on twitter every chance he gets. ken, chuck, eli and robert are all still with us. joining us at the table, zerlena maxwell, former clinton campaign adviser. and now director for progressive programming for sirius xm. former republican from florida is here. and doug, former senior adviser with the dnc, is here. chuck, i'm going to come back to you because you know andrew mccabe. i worked with a lot of people who know andrew mccabe. he has the trust and confidence of the fbi rank and file. he's had the trust and confidence of democratic and republican presidents. he's also got a long track record of successes as far as the fbi goes. even under this president. of foiling planned terror attacks on our homeland. what did andy mccabe do to deserve a tweet like this from the
commander in chief of the united states of america? from the president's twitter account, "how can fbi director,
deputy director, andrew mccabe, the man in charge, along with leakin, james comey, of the phony hillary clinton investigation including her 33,000 illegally deleted e-mails be given $700,000 for wife's campaign clinton puppets during the investigation? racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go." what
words can we even find to articulate the disgrace that is the president speaking of a public servant like andy mccabe like that? >> yeah, so i'm completely biased here, nicolle, because i worked with andy. vy enormous respect for andy. me sitting here and telling you that doesn't convey the depth of my anguish when the commander in chief goes after individuals in his executive branch. andy is principled, he's wise and smart, which are two different things. he's exactly the guy you would want living next door to you. but more than that, you know, he's come up through the ranks of the fbi. he has the trust and respect of his colleagues.
none of us are perfect, but if i were the director of the fbi, and i wanted someone sitting by my right hand helping me make really tough decisions every day, andy mccabe would be my guy. >> ken dilanian, can you speak to the insanely sort of denigrating hypocrisy that is, oh, chris wray's my guy, and, but, how can fbi director andy mccabe, the man in charge along with leakin' james comey of the phony hillary clinton investigation be given --" i mean, chris wray can't be your guy and andy mccabe need to be fired. if chris wray is your guy, chris wray makes his own decisions. the news today that he threatened to resign if he wasn't in charge of assembling his own team, i was told, was classic christopher wray. you want it done another way, mr. attorney general, then find somebody else to do it. >> yeah, nicolle. i think the way you just described what he conveyed is
apt, not necessarily a direct threat to resign, but that's what we're being told is it was more of a subtle thing like, hey, look, i'm going to bring my own people here in here at my o pace, if you want it done faster, maybe you should find somebody else. chris wray goes way back with comey and mueller. during the bush administration when there was a controversy over surveillance, comey and mueller were threatening to resign and wray said he wanted to jump with them. so it's -- >> can i just hit pause there? because i was on the white house staff. let's remind people what this was because this white house is like a baby vampire. they don't know what they don't know about law enforcement. but let's just relive that. there was a question, there was a dramatic bedside scene, it was about reauthorizing one of the very controversial counterterrorism programs under the bush/cheney presidency and it was mueller, comey, wray, a
host of other highly respected law enforcement figures who threatened to resign as a bloc. >> right. >> and i just -- i wonder if you can speak to just debasing is the only word that keeps coming to me but i feel like it gets overused but the debasement of career professionals by these sort of twitter taunts to the deputy director of the fbi by saying, oh, yeah, just the two-faced nature of sarah huckabee sanders going on "fox & friends" saying chris wray is our man but has been given an order of what the president wants him to do when it comes to ending mccabe. >> it's very bizarre. he doesn't understand who chris wray is, doesn't understand who andrew mccabe is. not everyone is a fan of andrew mccabe. there's no reference he did anything inappropriate. the reference in the tweet, his wife ran as a democrat for a state senate office in virginia. no evidence he handled that any
way inappropriately. this denigration of the fbi, this is having an effect. i see this on my interactions on twitter. there's a large -- there's a significant segment of the public that now believes that the fbi is part of the deep state. they can't be trusted. the fbi has -- fbi agents have to go and testify in court before juries. they rely on the support of the public and cooperation of the public to investigate terrorism and bank robberies. and it's just really destructive to our democracy to have, you know, this most senior officials in our government and the president of the united states denigrating the fbi. >> all right. we are going to go back to our breaking news story. we've started the hour are the breaking news that bob mueller is seeking to question the president about the flynn and comey departures. kristen welker, our white house correspondent, was in that press briefing with sarah huckabee sanders who was asked that question. what's the latest from the white house, kristen? >> reporter: hi, nicolle, well, a lot of the questions focused on the new revelations that former fbi director james comey and jeff sessions have been interviewed by the fbi and then
all of the other headlines today. my colleague, peter alexander, asked sarah sanders about some of the allegations that have been made by the former fbi director james comeyliy shared l counsel interview. >> now that we know the special counsel interviewed the former fbi directors james comey, it's important to understand exactly what the president's position is on the exactly basically the what went on and the conversation between the two. so the question is simply, is the president saying that james comey lied when he said trump, the president, asked for his loyalty and suggested he should drop the flynn investigation? >> look, out of respect to the special counsel, i'm not going to weigh into any matters beyond that. and would refer you to the counsel -- >> the president has been public about this. i want to be clear -- >> i understand. >> -- so it's clear for the american people, not just to investigators. >> there's nothing else to add at this point beyond his comments. and anything further would have to be directed to the counsel here at the white house. out of respect for the special counsel and their process. shannon?
>> reporter: so referring all questions back to the president's attorney who handles these matters. she also side stepped a number of questions including some that i asked her about reports that the current fbi director christopher wray threatened to resign, that's something that president trump said hadn't happened earlier today but that he did so because there was mounting pressure from the current attorney general to get rid of top leadership like the deputy a.g. andrew mccabe. i asked sarah sanders if the president thinks andrew mccabe should step down. she wouldn't say that. she instead said, look, we have confidence in christopher wray to make difficult discussions about who should be in leadership at the fbi. i asked her pointblank does the president think there's a political bias in the upper echelons at the fbi? h she side stepped that question as well, again, reiterating the president's confidence in christopher wray. >> kristen, were there any questions that she answered about the president's intention
to try to satisfy bob mueller with a hybrid of written and face-to-face interviews to achbs his questions? >> reporter: we didn't focus on that too much today, nicolle. that's an ongoing discussion with sources behind the scenes who say the president's legal team is very much in discussions with the special counsel about the scope of a potential interview. will it be in person, will the president submit written questions? of course, all of the legal analysts that we have spoken to have indicated that that's something that the special counsel will not agree to. because investigators like to see someone in person, like to be able to ask follow-up questions. that's certainly at the root of it. in terms of when there may be some type of interview with the president, again, no timing there but we've consistently been reporting that's something that could happen in the next several weeks. >> kristen welker, thank you so much, thanks for the questions you asked in there, thanks for joining us. >> thanks, nicolle.
>> david jolly, let me ask you about president trump's casual relationship with the truth colliding with bob mueller's pristine relationship with integrity. >> nicolle, we have seen three presidents in u.s. history impeached. andrew johnson in the 1860s for manipulatining senior personnelo protect himself. violation of the tenure act, secretary of war. richard nixon in the 1970s, obstruction of justice. we know what tried to do to end the watergate investigation. and bill clinton for obstruction of justice and perjury, lying under oath in the face of a special counsel investigation. all of these days that we go through this, that we live t through this mueller investigation, is leading up to a moment where robert mueller, let's just assume he has spoken to everybody, because if he hasn't, he will, and eventually this is going to lay on the doorstep of the president of the united states and he will either be found culpable, or he will be honest or he will lie, but either way the president of the united states is in the most jeopardy of anybody today. >> it's so stunning, and i love
when you take me to school. i mean, you're your. >> this is it, it's about personnel. it's about obstruction of justice. >> it's about character. one more story for obstruction block. sitting attorney general of the united states of america was investigated in the probe into whether or not russia colluded with the trump campaign. and i guess what's stunning to me, i talked to folks today who said, well, if the democrats can keep the shutdown doigoing for e than three days, how do we have confidence that the senate would actually vote to impeach this president if bob mueller does present a report like that? >> well, i think, well, first of all, the house would have to impeach. >> right. but to convict. because bill clinton was -- >> right. the senate would have to convict. right now the house would never impeach the president because it's run by republicans. and, look, you know, obviously we want to see what evidence comes out and what the case is if there's a case against the president, but if he does -- if he is found to have, you know,
obstructed justice, then it is the responsibility of the members of the house of representatives to impeach him. and what the senate does, i don't know. you know, i mean, ultimately, you know, it's the politics there are different in the house, but, look, if he's broken the law, he's got to be held account accountable. we're dealing with an administration i think believes they're above the law. you're dealing with the president who believes that the attorney general should be his lap dog. >> if i may very quickly, it's not about -- it could be about the underlying crime, if there is one. it's also about purerjury. these are very bad witnesses. we all worked with people who have been in washington. >> you're a lawyer. >> jeff sessions is is not going to be a good witness under oath. he is insulated by 20 years of power. donald trump thinks he can do no wrong. perjury is just as impeachable as an underlying crime and the vulnerability the sbird aentire administration has right now. >> obstruction of justice, is it ongoing? we keep learning more with each
new report that the president didn't stop with telling jeff sessions to back off or telling comey to back off in the oval office. he's continued -- >> that's a great point. >> -- to different people in the government to try to shut down the investigation. >> he said, i wanted to ask all of you about this, he said in an interview with michael schmidt of "the new york times" at mar-a-lago, he said, i really like how eric holder protected president obama. no one ever suspected -- his whole misperception of what the justice department does seems to me to be a real vulnerability for him. >> absolutely. when he says things and is quoted on the record saying where's my roy kohn, think that goes to the pattern referenced in the "washington post" report. not one instance of him trying to shut down the investigation. it's the multitude of instances when he's trying to shut down the investigation. he's doing phone banking, calling the cia director, director of national
intelligence, telling people to publicly support him and say he wasn't under investigation. if you notice, he's very specific in his denials. he says there's no collusion. he dint say i didn't obstruct justice. >> he actually doesn't even say -- he says i didn't -- >> i didn't collude. >> he doesn't even -- >> he's very deliberate. >> let me ask you, he's enabled by a corrupt republican sort of group of, i don't know, stooges, on the house intel committee. who are engaged in their own smear campaign against the fbi with their release -- i talked to nonpolitical sources of the fbi who said if they got something, we'll investigate it. that's what we're here for. we investigate -- we can investigate ourselves or they can have an outside body investigate us, but he's enabled by republicans on the most -- what used to be the most sacred sort of apolitical spots in congress, the house intel committee. >> yeah, and, you know, you have congressman devin nunes who, you know, they're pushing this release the memo. it's funny because they aren't going to -- he won't give up the memo to the justice department
or the fbi. >> i bet he'll give it to sean hannity. >> he wants to -- probably sean hannity. >> gave it to alex jones. i saw that on twitter earlier today. >> right. so, you know, you got nunes who's got a history of serving as this president's basically top protector. you know, back a few months ago to divert attention away from some item on the russia investigation, he talked about the unmasking that susan rice -- >> sketchy uber ride, dropped off in the dark of night and -- >> right, it was some allegation against susan rice that ended up not being true. you know, he also had to recuse himself from the investigation because he was under an ethics investigation. so this is all part of -- you know, they want to undermine mueller. it's of a wide squal campaign to undermine him and this investigation. and i don't think it's really working because every day, there's, like, these new developments that show that, you know what, none of this stuff -- all this stinks. >> right. >> let me be the last word,
robert costa. may not be working in terms of slowing down robert mueller's investigation but it seems to be having some effect in the public arena as ken dilanian alluded to. is that the end game in your estimation from your conversations with your sources? >> it's really going to depend on what the special counsel's report is. whether or not he pursues different kinds of legal charges or not against members of the administration. it will be congress and the american people who have to interpret some of the kochb collusions, some of the findings, of all these interviews because these people from the white house, it's really an unusual situation legally if you talk to some attorneys who work with the white house to have all these white house officials cooperating in such an open way with the special counsel and they have been witnesses of fact. what this all reveals at the end, congress certainly, whether it's a republican majority, or not, will look at all the information and people will have to decide about the president's conduct. >> robert costa, ken dilanian,
two of the very best especially on a day like today. thank you for 13e7spending so m of the hour with me. i know it's not what you signed up for. we're going to take a quick break and be right back with today's breaking news stories. needles. essential for vinyl, but maybe not for people with rheumatoid arthritis. because there are options. like an "unjection™". xeljanz xr. a once daily pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. xeljanz xr can reduce pain, swelling and further joint damage, even without methotrexate. xeljanz xr can lower your ability to fight infections,
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that's when fastsigns recommended fleet graphics. yeah! now business is rolling in. get started at fastsigns.com. we're back were a story we have been covering all hour. special council robert mueller seeks to question trump about flynn and comey departures. the public facing, which we know is just the tip of the ice bush just like that. >> yes, he will ultimately get there. there is a lot of questions about whether or not he -- >> and george w. bush, and the claim, and he did. >> this goes back to what we were doing earlier, the house
intel to release the nunez document. it is about undermining mueller but this is 2018 not 2017. republicans now have in police public tax reform. a. amnesty, and now they will release this memo saying mueller is wrong and it is baseless. that allows them to get to 2018 with some type of argument to make. >> is it a good one? >> not in a moral and honest sense. this is a republican party that -- >> is the republican party immoral right now? >> i would accept that. they left their integrity at the altar of donald trump when he was elected president of the united states. there are people that can no longer defend the party, and paul ryan and mitch mcconnell are trying to justify the scraps. that it comes under this umbrella that it is donald
trump's g.o.p. >> i don't know that any democrat could say it better. >> republicans are also dealing with a lack of enthusiasm in their party. we're seeing high numbers of enthusiasm with democrats and lower numbers with republicans. you need to put things out there to the base, the red meat, the going after -- attacking the fbi, attacking mueller, this memo. you need to do that to try to stoke them to get them going. and otherwise this is a big selection. >> they're not exciting, they're mortified, i thought the nunez memo and the months of getting to know mueller after 9/11, and the fbi was fighting for their reputation for a different reason.
we had to reassure the american people that we caught protect them from another 9/11 style attack. can you put the trump nunez smear campaign against the fbi in context of the fbi peaks and valleys in terms of moral and integrity. i worked on his staff before he approved warrants. if the affidavit was wrong or inadequate in some way, it ought to be fixed so they can make those changes. if it is a political vehicle for folks to argue that the fbi can't be trusted, you would not give it to the fbi.
time will tell, but i know how hard folks try to get it right. i know the pressure they were working on post 9/11. and there are peaks and valleys, it is a human institution full of human beings that are infallible. what is happening right now is hurtful. >> does it put lives in jeopardy to have the fbi distracted in. >> i don't want to be hyper bboc or overstate it. we need to trust our institutions and the men and women that occupy those institutions. our lives at statemeke, i don'tw that i would go that far. >> we have to sneak in one more break, don't go anywhere, we'll be right back. except for these. this time next year, we're gonna be sitting on an egg. i think we're getting close! make a u-turn...
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it for our hour, "mtp daily" starts right now. >> how are you doing, nicole? >> just another tuesday. >> head above water. if it is tuesday, we know that bob mueller is getting closer for a sit down with the president. tonight, are we nearing the end of the muler probeller probe. new reports indicates he wants to interview trump in the coming weeks. plus, did the entt d of the shut down start with senator mcconnell? >> this is "mtp daily" and it starts right now.