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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  March 9, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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me. you're from houston and you're out talking with harley workers. all kind of amazing. garrett, i liked you before, i like you even more now. garrett on capitol hill. back to the breaking story in california. the fbi s.w.a.t. team is on the scene. it is believed to be a veterans home in napa. there are no reports of anyone hurt. we are awaiting news conference with officials in a little while. that is it for me. thank you for watching. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. >> hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. donald trump is now officially mired in a full-scale sex scandal. the best education of his understanding of this new reality, maybe his announcement with direct talks can north korea and his declaration of a trade war. but neither bold move can erase the mounting evidence that the hush money wired to porn star stormy daniels may have been done with his knowledge. nbc news breaking the story this
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afternoon that the president's personal attorney michael cohen used his trump company e-mail as he made arrangements to pay daniels the $130,000 for her silence. nbc news reporting, quote, an e-mail uncovered in the last 24 hours and provided to nbc news by clifford's current attorney shows first public bank and cohen communicated with the money using his trump company e-mail address, not his personal g-mail account. the significance he says, quote, i think this document seriously calls into question the prior representation of mr. cohen and the white house relating to the source of the moneys paid to ms. clifford in an effort to silence her. while our reporting doesn't tell us where the money came from, nbc can report, quote, according to a 2017 financial disclosure form, trump has a checking account at first republic with between 15 and $50,000 in it at
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the time of disclosure. though there is no indication that account is connected to the clifford payment. he appeared on our air earlier this afternoon with andrea mitchell. >> where do you think the money came from? do you think it came ultimately from michael cohen's personal money or did it come from trump organization money or did it come ultimately from donald trump? >> we believe ultimately we're going to be able to "trading nation" this back in one form or another to a payment from the trump organization or from the surrogate for mr. trump. >> sarah huckabee sanders tried a new tack on this front today. >> did president trump -- when did president trump after that photo see stormy daniels? text, e-mail, do you have any other information? >> i don't. we have addressed this extensively and i don't have anything else to add. >> do you -- >> i've addressed this extensively. i don't have anything else to add. >> to help us understand the latest reporting on this unfolding crisis for the white house, we are joined by nbc
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chief white house correspondent hallie jackson, nbc's ken dilanian, from "the new york times" media reporter jim ruten berg, associated house reporter jim, with us at the table nick. hallie jackson, let me start with you. and if you could take me through your first question and answer with sarah huckabee sanders where she really broke new ground when she asserted in response to a question from you that the president had prevailed in an arbitration with an individual he hadn't previously acknowledged knowing, to today when she said i've addressed this extensively and i don't have anything further to add? >> extensively i think is a word that folks in the room might have exception -- take exception to, nicolle. you're referring to her briefing earlier in the week where she was pressed repeatedly about this. this is the day after the lawsuit was filed. it had been filed in the evening so this was wednesday afternoon when again and again reporters pressed her on what the president did or did not know about this payment to stormy daniels. because remember, really here,
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it's all about following the money because that is critical to whether or not any campaign finance laws were broken, whether anything happened that was illegal when it came to campaign contributions or trying to pay the campaign given this 130 thousand dollars payment. after repeated questioning, sanders acknowledged that the president did not know, had no knowledge of this payment at the time. she also referenced this arbitration, that she specifically said the president had won. he prevailed in this arbitration, which to the question we asked today, nicolle, seemed to indicate that the president had at least had a conversation with his lawyer about it so i asked if he remembered the conversation with michael cohen and did he remember meeting stormy daniels, she said this has been addressed. i will tell you this has not been addressed by the president probably because they don't want to talk about it. i think there is a frustration inside this west wing that on a day when for example strong jobs numbers are out, when the president is looking toward this potential meeting now with kim jong-un, the last thing they want to be discussing is this relationship he may or may not have had with stormy daniels.
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she says the sexual relationship. that is something the white house is repeatedly denied, nicolle. >> ken dilanian, you once told me to follow the money and ignore the sex. so i'm going to do that. let's ignore the sex. it it was or was not had with stormy daniels as hallie jackson says that is the white house position. let's follow the money. we know from your unit, nbc investigative unit is reporting that president trump's personal attorney used his trump organization e-mail to make arrangements to transfer money into an account before he wired $130,000 to stormy daniels. so, we're just following the money and we're following nbc news's reporting here. we know that the money came from the bank where donald trump has an account and we know it ended up in stormy daniels' account as a payment, as hush money. we know all those arrangements were made on michael cohen's trump e-mail account. what does that tell us? >> well, it tells us that the idea that michael cohen was out
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on an island doing this on his own is sort of ridiculous. but i think we already knew that, nicolle. it's interesting, though, and it ties it closer to the trump organization. but the really big question here hallie was alluding to is not who paid this money necessarily, but it's was this payment made to hide this information in furtherance of donald trump's presidential candidacy. and then whoever paid it, if that's true, then whoever paid it made a contribution to donald trump's campaign. either michael cohen made a contribution or the trump organization or donald trump himself. now, if it was michael cohen or the trump organization, there are limits on contributions that they can make to the campaign, and this 130,000 would exceed those limits and would be illegal. and if it was donald trump, he's not limited in what he can give his own campaign, but he would have had to have disclosed and accounted for this contribution. so, that's the issue here and i spoke to a campaign finance expert in the last hour who said this case absolutely raises enough questions to merit a
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federal criminal investigation. and we talked about the case of democrat john edwards who ran for president back in 2008 and who, one of his wealthy ben factors paid a million dollar to his mistress and the federal government brought charges against him and said this is an illegal campaign contribution. ultimately he was not convict ed in that case, but that case showed that this what we're talking about. the crucial questions, are there e-mails and testimony to the effect they paid this woman to essentially make this story go away right around the time to further donald trump's presidential candidacy. >> all right. ally has the white house, ken dilanian has the sex. you write stormy daniels' lawsuit has further trouble for trump. seeking to break a 2016 agreement to keep silent in return for a $130,000 pay out opens what could be a precarious new legal front for white house already beset by investigation by special counsel robert mueller. as any long-time legal hand in
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the capital remembers well, you and i may be the only two people old enough to fall into that category, it was a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by an arkansas state employee paula jones against bill clinton that led to his impeachment for lying about his affair with monica lewinsky. donald trump lies and he lies a lot. he lies about little things, he lies about big things. certainly within the realm of possibility that he might find himself feeling compelled to lie about sex. >> yeah, it's -- if the court case is able to go forward, then, yeah, he could be deposed, then a deposition and this applies to other investigations, the russia investigation if he's deposed. it opens the door to a lot of problems for him. the key thing is will it get to open court. the issue before we get to that is will michael cohen be able to force stormy daniels into binding arbitration, which her agreement stipulates. her lawyer says that she doesn't have to abide by it. we'll see.
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so, that key first hurdle is getting it into court. and then we get the e-mails potentially through discovery, then you see the source of the money, more likely. so, but if the white house wants to put this question behind them, they could or cohen wants to, michael cohen, the president's lawyer wants to put it behind him, maybe he should share some documents showing the path of that money and move on with it. >> and the path of the money is already on the radar, nick, of the u.s. treasury department and the bank through which it flowed because the bank that was involved in the transfer of $130,000 flagged it to the u.s. treasury department as being problematic. so, what jim lays out is already a likely scenario. >> look, if cohen paid the money out of his own account, who would have had to transfer the money out of it in the first place, right? what the e-mails are talking about is money coming from someplace -- >> i think your paper has already reported he complained about not getting paid back. >> yes. >> we already know that even if he paid it out of his own pocket, which is i believe his
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current position, that that was a lie. >> correct. look, the question of the source of the money and there is now a lot of evidence that he was not the source of the money, we now have a paper trail from his own e-mail where he is saying, good, the money is here. you can now pay that payment off. right? so, that suggests there is an escalating problem here. and, look, we saw this in the elliott spitzer case. we've seen it elsewhere. these big transfers are often flagged for treasury so there is a paper trail and investigators can find out about it after the fact. >> jill, can you weigh in on the mountain of irony here, if the steve mnuchin run treasury department ends up being the federal agency that is in receipt of a flag from a bank about a payment that originated from one of donald trump's accounts to payoff a porn star that he wanted to keep quiet? >> just think of the sentence you just said and how incredible it is that we're all talking about right now, that possibility here. look, we've already known that michael cohen has changed his story here.
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this is something that questions and questions and questions about, despite the fact we had this big trade announcement yesterday. despite the fact we have this historic announcement about potential one on one meeting with north korea, this is still kind of pushing through and being something that we're all talking about. the white house is very much trying to stop us from talking about saying we've already addressed this in detail which of course they have not. >> hallie jackson, you covered michael cohen. i've called him a lawyer out of my cousin vinny . what is the michael cohen side of the story, could he just be an innocent guy trying to be loyal to the boss? or is he -- could he be found guilty of some pretty egregious incompetence that by failing to get a signature on the document, stormy daniels may be standing on very solid legal ground? >> history will probably be the judge of that, nicolle. i will say a couple things here. >> you're good. >> on the one hand you have this person, he's not just like a newcomer onto the scene as you know. he has been by donald trump's side for a very, very, very long
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time. this is not just like a campaign era person who came on in 2014 or 2015 to help him prepare for a presidential run. michael cohen's been through the ringer with donald trump and that's why donald trump trusts him to take care of things for him. perhaps unrelated to this. i will say when it comes to the legal argument, some legal experts have raised when it comes to the initial nondisclosure agreement that has cohen's signature on it, that has stephanie clifford, a.k.a. stormy daniels' signature on it, there is a clause that says and/or. this is something you talked about on the show which may actually undercut to a degree perhaps stormy daniels' case. i would also mention daniels has a new lawyer than she used to have. he's been on our network. you just played the sound bites from him. and they are very aggressive here in going after this and in trying to build a legal case against not just michael cohen, but against the president. and i finally will say that cohen, remember, was very, very
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careful in the, really the only -- he reached out a bunch of times to michael cohen. to the lawyer that the lawyer has now retained and there has been no comment, for example, on this new reporting or in our reporting over the last couple of days. cohen was extremely careful in his wording saying he facilitated that payment. he was cautious in the language that he used to a degree, and he also didn't say that donald trump personally never reimbursed him for that payment. >> ken dilanian, to a lawyer these are obviously important distinctions. but to the general public, where i believe close to 70% of the public already disapprove of this president and the job he's doing as president, he runs the risk of adding to that number of humans that may just disapprove of the job he does as a husband. i mean, there is a human element to this story. stormy daniels is a compelling figure for three reasons. one, she's willing to give back the money to tell her story. she doesn't look like she's after any financial gain. two, her original account that she detailed in in touch
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magazine humanized the president. she didn't tell the story of any unpleasant encounter. she talked about donald trump as someone who was afraid of sharks. she talked about how he offered to help her on the apprentice. she doesn't tell a story of any sort of encounter gone awry. and three, the encounter took place after he was married to melania trump. so, he is highly motivated. you can certainly understand his motive for keeping it quiet. far greater than you could understand anything she's seeking to gain by telling the truth. >> oh, that's absolutely right, nicolle. and i agree with everything you just said. i do think, though, the people who voted for donald trump have already discounted this kind of conduct. there was plenty of evidence of it during the campaign and it's not clear that this is going to be a political detriment to him. i'm paying more attention to the potential legal detriment. i really think, and we've seen evidence precedent for this, that this kind of thing could end up tripping him up. i mean, depending on who made the payment -- again, whether there is any evidence that the payment was made to protect
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donald trump's presidential candidacy, i was speaking to a lawyer today. this could conceivably come up in the mueller investigation. mueller can investigate any crimes that arise in the course of his investigation. and you know michael cohen is a witness in the mueller investigation. michael cohen was named in the dossier. he was alleged to have been a conduit between the trump campaign and the russians. now, he hotly denies that, but, you know, to the extent that mueller ever develops leverage over michael cohen and michael cohen has evidence that this payment was, in fact, made as a campaign contribution, that's how this thing could come back to haunt donald trump, i think, nicolle. >> and if you think about the history of special counsel investigations is almost always in prosecuting people for crimes that were uncovered while pursuing the larger charge. so, scooter libby perjured himself in the valerie plame leak investigation. no one was ever prosecuted for leaking her name. we talked about bill clinton and the parallel how he perjured
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himself when asked about the nature of his relationship with monica lewinsky and the paula jones case. in other reporting out today, they are now again reupping conversations about putting the president in front of bob mueller, "the wall street journal" reporting in an effort to expedite the end of that, this seems like the most perilous moment yet to talk about a presidential interview with bob mueller. >> absolutely. and, look, it's also important to note that everybody the president is close to or has relied on is under the gun now or out of the white house. they're all being interviewed, alltel the people he relies on for core and stability. now you have this other thing that shows he may have cheated on his wife after their son was born. so, now his wife could be very mad at him. imagine his state of mind and the way he's feeling and the way he's going to react to all of this. so, yes, you're absolutely correct. it is a perilous time. these probes have never gotten smaller or narrower. they always get bigger and bigger and wider and catch up whatever is in the water a.
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>> what do you make of ken dilanian's analysis at best it is a campaign finance violation, at worst it's jeopardy in the mueller probe? it's pretty dangerous lane to be driefrmi drief driving in. >> it's possible this could be yield something faster than the mueller probe. if the mueller problem has him putting out results and congress saying okay, whatever, the justice department has to go and look at the campaign finance violation. it is very possible this could be more of a headache for him in the long term and is going to keep going. if somebody in fact made a illegal contribution or unreported contribution to the trump campaign in furtherance ambition of the president, that's against the law. >> let me ask you to button this up with just some analysis and even personal observations about how much time the media has spent covering the russia probe, how little time the media has spent. i remarked earlier this week we've -- this is only the second time since we've been on the air that we've led with any sort of story about donald trump's woman
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issue. he's been credibly accused of sexual misconduct by many women, stormy daniels suing him, a play mate with another agreement of him. what is the amount of resources your news organization, my news organization has devoted to the russia probe and this idea that it may be stormy daniels who brings him down? >> i mean, first of all, i think the coverage has been appropriately on the russia probe. the idea foreign intervention in election is just such a big deal. that said, resources i can attest are being committed -- >> i think we all can. >> to the stormy daniels case. the interesting thing about this case is that what stormy daniels new lawyer has done here is put the president and his lawyer, mr. cohen, in a box. and the box is if mr. cohen wants to say the president was not aware of these actions i took on his behalf, then that raises the question of how binding an agreement is between
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stormy daniels and donald trump if they're going do say oh, he was really removed from this process. but then if they need to bolster themselves on the other side, then they have to say this was done in coordination with then candidate trump, and that's problematic on the campaign finance side and also potentially leads to an admission or some kind of acknowledgment of an affair. they are denying it, don't get me wrong there. but it's a very dangerous box. so, again, they get to court and this becomes very precarious. they keep it in arbitration, that doesn't happen. >> let me -- we're dying to get to a break. i'm going to make some management control and ask you a question. you have a by line on a lot of important stories in the me too movement and your paper has done a lot of reporting, yours and nick's on harvey weinstein. and i wonder what you make of what we've observed now from men who have operationalized the cover up of their sexual misconduct. >> i think the signal change in the last year has been that
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those mechanisms that kept sex cases and in the harvey weinstein case we're talking about abuse and harassment allegedly. that that mechanism is falling apart. the signal change was we're learning about settlements. what we're talking about with stormy daniels, that was a deal to keep her quiet so we are not on tv talking about this. archipelago exactly. it's all falling apart. hallie jackson, ken dilanian, thank you so much for starting us off. when we come back sex as a tax impeachment certainly the case for bill clinton. could history repeat itself? also ahead wagging the dog, donald trump surprises his own advisors by announcing direct talks with the leader of north korean. no staff work, no leg work, no policy work. what could possibly go wrong? most people come to la with big dreams... we came with big appetites. with expedia one click gives you access to discounts
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remember when a president was impeached for lying in legal proceedings, a lawsuit brought by paula jones. bill clinton lied about his relationship with monica lewinsky. could that pattern repeat itself if donald trump is forced to offer deposition in this lawsuit or answer questions under oath from robert mueller? our panel is here joining nick and me, the rev al sharpton, host of politics nation here on msnbc, and president of the national action network. evan mcmullen, former cia operative who ran for president in 2016 as an independent candidate. and never would have had us talking about porn. and david johnson, politics editor for the root and msnbc contribute earn. i have to say what i said in the
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break. we said is this too -- you know, do we really want to embarrass the rev and talk about porn? he's the only one that knows donald trump. let's start with you. this is not, in this instance with stormy daniels, this is not sexual harassment or sexual misconduct story. if you accept her account in in touch, they had a seemingly pleasant encounter, they met at a celebrity golf tournament. she had some interesting color about his fear of sharks. i don't know if that's something you knew about. this is something different. this is about hush money paid to cover up an affair that took place after he was married to melania trump. >> i think the issue here is exactly that. whether or not he was paying cover-up money and whether or not michael cohen, his lawyer, did a contribution in kind to the campaign that he covered up. and that would violate campaign finance laws. two problems with that. if, in fact, he did, that is
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punishable. and clearly could threaten his license. if there was an arbitration, he has to explain, how do you have an arbitration and not have told your client, but donald trump claims he knew nothing about any money. so, he couldn't have had an arbitration for a client and not tell the client. that would be unethical and could get him disbarred. or he has to say donald trump is lying, he had to know about it. so, it's going to be very interesting if mueller has the right to interview either cohen or trump because the arbitration, which is why i think the reports about trump getting so angry with huck by sanders, the arbitration is just as sticky as the source of the money and why because how do you get around an arbitration? is a lawyer really going to say, i won an arbitration for somebody and never told them, how do you say that? >> and the lawyer, you know,
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another sort of nest of angry bees seems to be questions about where the money came from because he either -- maybe you can get michael cohen out of legal trouble. maybe the money came from them. but i can go upstairs and explain that to melania. this seems like a whole lot of inconvenient choices. >> yes. and if this continues on and we learn more about their affair, there may be some embarrassing facts and documents and photographs potentially that could come out as a part of discovery. >> let's -- so, first of all, the sexual part of the relationship is alleged. she alleges it was sexual. we know they knew each other. but photographs, funny you should mention photographs because her lawyer specifically mentioned on the today show with savannah guthrie, photographs, texts and other indisputable evidence that made me think of a
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lovely dress in history. >> absolutely, there are parallels there. that can be incredibly embarrassing to a president, even i think to a president like donald trump. i don't think anyone is surprise he had an affair with a pornographic actor. that's not a surprise. but, boy, if there are photos and these kinds of things, that can be very embarrassing. the other thing is, who else has these photos? could they be obtained by other people and used against the president? so, there are these sticky issues. >> let me follow-up with you. when we talk week after week after week about what kinds of things the russians could have on him, if that's what they're holding over him to gain such favorable treatment in our foreign policy arena. is this the kind of thing that the russians like to have? >> yes, it is. it's the kind of thing they work to obtain, even setting up situations by which they can -- in which they can collect this kind of derogatory information on someone, not that they played a role in this. but the point is certainly that if the president -- if there is something in this affair that
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the president seeks to hide beyond the affair, which i don't think is enough to blackmail the president on, well, then that could leave him vulnerable, yes. >> i'm sorry. i'm old enough to remember -- i'm old enough when we were all uncomfortable in class about talking about what happened with the blue dress. >> it's in the smithsonian. >> now we're at a point i don't know what stormy daniels is going to donate to the smithsonian one day. it should be fascinating. this is the thing that gets me about this. this legal thing rev mentioned, the national security issue. i think it's sort of a political thing. what bothers me about it and it's a demonstration of what we've seen about this administration all along, it's not just that he had an affair. it's not that he had an affair with a sex worker, she's a perfectly nice person, what she does is legal if it actually happened. it's only a couple months after his son was born. it demonstrates again this disdain for women who are even a part of his life. your wife just gave birth to your son and rather than being there, being supportive and
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being helpful, the first thing you're doing is running off to try and possibly have an alleged relationship with an adult film star. that's just another example of the way this president seems to operate with women, even within his personal life. that's the most disturbing thing to me above and beyond the fact he had a potentially $130,000 date. >> or dates. known, unknown. i think it's a tired story, but we should never normalize it. the evangelical community gave donald trump -- delivered him, almost delivered a victory in iowa caucuses the very first contest he ran in. he almost beat ted cruz in the iowa caucuses. you could argue that evangelical republicans are the reason he is the president of the united states of america. do you think a sustained sex scandal like this could become, if stormy daniels' case goes forward and it continues to get the kind of attention that every other sex scandal -- nbc -- msnbc is airing a doc on gary
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harte. every other politician that has engaged in any sort of conduct, even in this category, has had their career ended. he's had none of that treatment and some of us ignore it because we're so used to it, and some of his evangelical days made it perfectly clear, they don't care. >> i think they made a strategic choice as people often do in politics that he is delivering for them on their culture war needs on abortion, on judges, and they are fine with that. he's their champion. i will point out, though, the clinton example, how did that end? he was impeached and most of the country came to conclude the whole thing was a terrible waste of time and money and effort and it was a bad thing to go after him on sex. it is not impossible to imagine that the country comes to the same conclusion on this in the end, of why are we going after this guy for an affair? we know he's sleazy. it's not the most important thing. it seems overaggressive. i'm not saying that will happen, but history shows that it can happen.
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>> and we know that they don't care about russian intervention. why would they care about this? >> there are so many things that supporters of the president have decided to rationalize or put aside. this seems like pretty far down at the bottom of the list to me. >> but they do like melania. let me just make the case for melania trump here. she has been stoic. she has been -- you talk about no drama obama, i can't make it rhyme, but it's no drama melania. she has gone on foreign trips. she has gone to disasters. there's no public displays of anything that i can detect that she's ever acted out on. so, she has, just as an observer, she has certainly seemed to have stepped into a role that is not clear she ever wanted. does he as a human being no mercy for humiliation? >> he would owe her. but you would have to talk about a human being that thinks they
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owe anybody anything. and i think that's the problem. and i think you hit a core as far as i'm concerned, nicolle, when you raised the evangelicals. i don't expect, as i've said many times, any core believes in donald trump. the question is what are the core believes in the evangelicals. and even if they're saying that we're doing this as i agree with them, that for our bigger picture culture wars, which are based on their interpretation of morality, you know, right to choose. how do you then excuse what you call immorality? it's a walking contradiction. >> go ahead, real quick. >> i think nicolle is right on this. if this begins to be an embarrassment to melania who most people see as an innocent bystander, if she has the hillary clinton moment where she's wearing sunglasses and people think there is something puffy, she may have -- if she ever looks like she's been hurt,
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i think even some evangelicals, they like to tell themselves for all of these outside things he has been a relatively good husband and all these women are degraded women trying to bring him down. that may cause him some trouble. it may not cause him trouble at the ballot box, but it will cause republicans a problem if it seems leak they are supporting this administration. >> donald trump rolls the dice on little rocketman. whoops. sorry. unlike ordinary diapers pampers is the first and only diaper that distributes wetness evenly into three extra absorb channels. they stay up to three times drier so babies can sleep soundly all night wishing you love, sleep and play pampers
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he just makes a decision on tariffs because of hope hicks, and he makes a decision on north korea because of stormy daniels. and people can -- people can deny that all they want, but if you're doing that, you're in the tank for donald trump because it is painfully obvious that's exactly what's going on. you know what? he did not want the washington post to have the words stormy daniels on the front page today.
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guess what? he succeeded. >> joe scarborough certainly seems to believe we have a wag the dog situation on our hands. there is no doubt that the president's spur of the moment decision to meet face to face with north korean dictator kim jong-un eclipsed trump's sex scandal if only for a moment. we can't say for sure that was his goal in agreeing to the unprecedented talks. but we do know when donald trump woke up yesterday to new implications he was connected to the payoff of a porn star, the united states is nowhere neera announcing a sit-down between the two world leaders. so, here's how it all went down. according to mark landler at "the new york times," mr. trump was not scheduled to meet mr. chun until friday, that would be today. when he heard the envoy was in the west wing seeing other officials, the president summoned him to the oval office according to a senior administration official. mr. trump, the officials said, then asked mr. chung to tell him about his meeting with mr. kim. when mr. chung said that the
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north korean leader had expressed a desire to meet mr. trump, the president immediately said he would do it. that's despite his own secretary of state's comments just hours earlier. >> we're a long ways from negotiations. i think we just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it. >> i wanted to see that again. to add to the confusion, sarah huckabee sanders is now saying the meeting may not happen after all. >> the united states has made zero concessions, but north korea has made some promises and, again, this meeting won't take place without concrete actions that match the promises that have been made by north korea. the united states is actually having conversations from a position of strength, not a position of weakness like the one that north korea finds itself in due to the maximum pressure campaign. >> can we get that tillerson sound again? i need to see that again before
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the show ends. joining us now to elevate us, msnbc senior national security analyst and former deputy national security advisor to president george w. bush. and evelyn vargas, former deputy secretary of defense, now msnbc national security analyst. we have to watch tillerson one more time then talk about this. let's watch. >> we're a long ways from negotiations. i think it's -- we just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it. >> i'm going to make that my new ringer. we're a long way from negotiations. how did we go from a long way from negotiations to donald trump's announcement that we're having direct face to face talks? >> well, i think there are tua expects to this, nicolle. i think first the south koreans obviously wanting to push forward with further discussions, they have made progress especially right before the olympics through the olympicss and so we shouldn't discount too much the south korean dimension here. >> you mean the secretary of
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state is not aware of the south korean -- >> let me finish, nicolle. >> okay. >> there is the south korean dimension which is happening independent of whatever is happening here in washington with stormy daniels or anything else. secondly the president obviously short circuited the diplomatic track here. and i think what you would traditionally adhere is what secretary tillerson is talking about is a diplomatic choreography that would have put in place various steps around both the conditions in terms of the discussions and negotiations. you would have had an escalation of the level of participation. you don't typically go head to state, head to state in these types of conversations for lots of good reasons. and so clearly the president was intrigued. he saw himself as a deal maker and he short circuited the process. i think all of the sort of confusion that has followed has to do with the lack of prior coordination and the fact that
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it hasn't followed that traditional script. so, i don't know what the motivations were, but i think we shouldn't discount the south korean's hand in this obviously, which is very important. and their interest, the fact that u.s. diplomacy is aligned with south korea which is key here, and the fact the president has wanted to short circuit the process here, for whatever reason. but it has created an opportunity, not without peril, but it has created an opportunity. and i think we have to recognize that. >> okay, we can recognize that. but can you and i as former white house colleagues have a no b.s. moment, just a little one? >> always a no b.s. moment. >> we try. you're talking about choreography as though that is in donald trump's skill set. he pulled the rug out from under his own secretary of state, rex tillerson. he tweeted, when tillerson was talking about talks, he tweeted, i told rex tillerson our wonderful secretary of state he's wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocketman. so, other than schizophrenia and
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other than your assertion which it lacked choreography which is diplomatic, i understand sometimes they see what happens here, you don't want to get in any trouble. give me the no b.s. analysis of just how unprofessional this was to, once again, pull the rug out from under rex tillerson. >> nicolle, i'm just trying to provide objective analysis as to what happened here. >> i understand, me, too. >> i think what has happened here is the president has gone back and forth vacillating between wanting to present a maximum pressure, maximum rhetoric campaign, and sort of being open to potential diplomacy. i think actually his prior two tweets about all of this, before the announcement and after, are actually right on point. and i think one of the interesting things here, nicolle, to watch is that the terms of this discussion are now around denuclearization. that's a huge step forward from where we've been. it's also under the conditionality that the u.s.
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isn't going to offer concessions up front, that we are saying in alignment with south korea that we are going to have a maximum pressure campaign even while we talk, which is very different from even what we did in 2005, 2006 when we putty nor must amount of pressure on north korea and they told us directly, you finally found a way to hurt us. we let up on the pressure and then we allowed them to eventually cheat from the deal they signed. so, i don't, i don't want to get away from the substance of the opportunity here. despite the fact everything you said is right, there has been schizophrenia, there has been lack of choreography. they have to get on the same page because if they don't, the head of state, head of state dialogue is potentially fraught with peril and you don't want the president committing the united states to things that we're not willing to deliver or that don't make sense in the context of the history of how north korea has negotiated with us. i just want to make sure we are sober about our optimism here,
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but also not too dismissive of the opportunity. >> i can confirm that i am sober. evelyn vargas? >> yes, i'm trying to get a word in. that's great. thank you. okay. i want to actually flip what juan said upside down. that's what i think this is, not a short-circuiting, but i actually think it is a case of the president doing like a ribbon cutting. he has flipped the idea of a presidential summit upside down. so he's going to do a ribbon cutting, he's going to say we're going to talk with north korea. we don't even know what the substance is. and this as i'm describing is the best case scenario, and then may come up the experts, we experts in the state department who can come in, fill in, and try to come up with a deal. so, i do think it's worth doing the ribbon cutting meeting, but i agree with juan, we have to have some kind of pressure exerted throughout because the administration really needs to stick to what vice-president pence said their policy would be, which is the maximum
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pressure plus engagement. the other thing i would say is there are three things that i really believe before we do the ribbon cutting this president needs to get from the north koreans before he goes anywhere to meet with kim jong-un, and that is -- that is or are those three americans that the north koreans are still holding. >> evelyn, let me ask you your thoughts about, one, dennis rodman i think is the last american who met with kim jong-un, right? is that right? so maybe they'll ask him how that went. >> he's probably not the last american because i think that the former envoy met with him. >> otto warmbier was returned. but the last sort of high-profile visit where there were photos released by the north koreans and that had any sort of optics of a state visit was dennis rodman. so, i want to ask your serious, serious analysis. what is more likely, that jared achieves mid east peace or that donald trump denuclearizes the
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korean peninsula? >> okay, if you want me to take this question seriously -- >> i want you to take this question seriously. >> i think it is much more likely that donald trump could denuclearize -- i should say put a freeze on the nuclear situation on the peninsula than that jared kushner can bring peace to the middle east. and i'm glad you brought up the middle east because we should be spending more time talking about syria and the situation there, which is frankly spiraling out of control, even out of vladimir putin's control. but getting back to north korea, i think that donald trump -- i mean, again, if he does the ribbon cutting and then he lets the experts take over, he might be able to get north korea to a durable, verifiable freeze. we will not get north korea to give up nuclear weapons, even i believe with a full-on peace treaty because they believe that what's at stake is the existence of the state, the existence of the democratic people's republic of korea, and that kim family government. so, they won't give up the nuclear weapons, but they have been willing to do a freeze before. hopefully they'll do it again.
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>> juan and evelyn, thank you both. we'll all keep hoping with you. still ahead, why one former national security official believes the flare for drama shared by donald trump and kim jong-un could bring us closer than ever to war. tomorrow, it's a day filled with promise and new beginnings, challenges and opportunities. at ameriprise financial, we can't predict what tomorrow will bring. but our comprehensive approach to financial planning can help make
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but some experts worry it is just plain crazy. victor cha writing in the new york times, quote, everyone should be aware that this dramatic act of diplomacy by the two unusual leaders who love flair and drama may also take us closer to war. failed negotiations at the summit level leave all parties with no other recourse for diplomacy in which case, as mr. trumps had said, we really will have run out of road. our panel still here. you are all nodding. i don't know where to start. evan? >> talks are a good thing. north korea is experiencing the bite of sanctions and other pressure. i support the president's decision to amp up the pressure on north korea. but look, he is making a move that will strengthen north korea. if he meets them, he will validate their regime, and that will make it more difficult. it will make it tangibly more difficult for us to constrain north korea in the future. it is not just a diplomatic
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piece -- piece of diplomatic etiquette. these things have consequences. but at the same time we have the president and administration backtracking about whether it will happen at all. they are now stuck between a rourke and a ha -- between a rock and a hard place and two situations that are fraught with the possibility of making us look weak and disorganized and giving an advantage to north korea. that is my concern on both sides. >> do you share that. >> i share that concern. it gives them validation which is what we don't want to do whose power is about propaganda and we don't have a south korean ambassador. so many people in the administration that aren't prepared. the north koreans have been preparing for this. they laid this out for months. and we're basically going there with the high school model thinking we can negotiate with people doing this for years and have years of experience. also i have this direct concern about trump in negotiations. we saw what happens when he actually speaks to other world leaders. he tends to cave. he was concerned around andrea
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merkel and refused to ask nieto and i don't believe he has the backbone and sitting in a room across from the north korean leader if he would ask the kinds of things he claims his administration is pushing for. >> i think it is all about hope that you could probably find something that would happen positive. but let's be realistic. we are talking about no south korean ambassador -- there is no infrastructure to manage a meeting going in or coming out that would bare fruit. you are dealing with two volatile people that have very suspicious motives. if there is a meeting at all. kim jong-un wants validation and show he did what his father and grandfather couldn't do. and that is get a sitting president to sit with them. and donald trump is the same man that used to call reporters as his own press agent. he knows how to flip a story.
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when we called this a diplomatic move, it's a media move to get stormy off the front page. >> so you agree with scarborough. >> absolutely. who do you know calls reporters and say i'm the press agent and you already are a multi-millionaire. so he knows how to change the story which is why they are doing the moon walk on whether we even are going to have a meeting. >> let me ask you a question about guard rails. all of the stories and gabe sherman has a new piece out saying according to five republicans president has the wrong team and wants another turnover of staff and the first officials to go will be kelly and mcmaster. it is a move that we hope works out. it is audacious. but what are the chances of success without any -- he doesn't read the pdb. so who around him is advising him? >> that is a great question. he doesn't have an ambassador to south korea. he's obviously not talking to the secretary of state. >> obviously not.
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>> not to his area specialist and playing a game of telephone with the most dangerous regime on the planet. it is not even clear he knows firsthand what the north koreans have offered to the south koreans. and he's going to make an agreement to go over there already. it is a extraordinary dangerous. there are no guard rails on this president right now. >> we have to sneak in one more break. we'll be right back. due to afib, a type of irregular heartbeat not caused by a heart valve problem. but no matter where i ride, i go for my best. so if there's something better than warfarin, i'll go for that too. eliquis. eliquis reduced the risk of stroke better than warfarin, plus had less major bleeding than warfarin. eliquis had both. don't stop taking eliquis unless your doctor tells you to, as stopping increases your risk of having a stroke. eliquis can cause serious and in rare cases fatal bleeding. don't take eliquis if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. while taking eliquis, you may bruise more easily... and it may take longer than usual for any bleeding to stop. seek immediate medical care
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what a difference a week makes. a few moments ago campaign aide sam nunberg left a courthouse in d.c. after testifying before a grand jury in the investigation. he didn't answer any questions. a far cry from his media tour this past monday and this quick
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note, i mistakenly said that monica lewinsky's dress was in the smithsonian and it never did acquire the dress and the whereabouts of that dress are unknown. my thanks to nick and al and jason johnson. "mtp daily" starts right now. hi, chuck. >> hi, nicole. >> happy friday. >> i'm trying to finish tuesday, wednesday and thursday and friday is here. we'll figure that out. >> have a good show. >> if it is friday it is the end of the week that was quintessentially trump. tonight the president and dictator, will north korea talks materialize. and would they be worth the risk? >> i think it is very risky. it risks the credibility and the united states. >> and a stormy week with how the president's personal attorney

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