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tv   MSNBC Live With Ayman Mohyeldin  MSNBC  March 18, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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president trump on a twitter terror since the firing of deputy fbi director andrew mccabe. fired at the special counsel, warnings from his own party don't think about taking out bob mueller. from meddling in the election to allegations of having people killed. vladimir putin may be the most dangerous man in the world and russians gave him six more years to prove it and the white house's other legal fight, stormy daniels trying to keep her quite. we have this story from the "the washington post" president trump meets senior white house staffer
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signs nondisclosure agreements involving millions of dollars in penalties if they are violated. let's get to that story. joining me is the author of that piece. "the washington post" deputy page editor. thank you for joining me quickly. we appreciate it. perhaps,s the wildest part of this is that the nondisclosure agreement that is president trump made the staff signed have a $10 million damages clause, can you explain that? >> i'm a little bit doubtful that that $10 million damages clause made it passed, the drafting part. i skauaw a draft of the agreeme after i wrote something about the president's pension agreement with the private life and campaign workers. i said this is about to catch up to him because he can't have
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agreements as president. then i got this draft and i thought this is interesting. it is a great story about things he thought about doing and tried to do and was tempted to do but surely, he was headed off at the pass by lawyers and people who had some sense in them. turns out, that's not true. when i asked somebody who'd worked at the white house if he signed an agreement, the answer i got was yes. and so then i continued to do reporting. so we don't know because, the white house actually won't call me back or respond to my e-mails. what precisely was in the final version of the nondisclosure agreement but we know what the impetus was. he was upset about the leaks. it has gone on since. he wanted a a way to shut it down. he said i want to have the agreements like we had in trump
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tower, in the campaign and during the transition. so get me some of those. and so they did. and staff signed them, pretty much knowing that the threat of actually being sued under them was remote. certainly being sued successfully was remote. the point was to chill people who worked for the government from talking to the press. from talking to members of congress. from talking to anybody and this is not the way we do business in actual america. >> and it is interesting you bring that up. we have had this discussion over x over again, it seems this president is running the white house like his organization like the trump organization like a corporation versus running it as the white house. versus running it as if you have government employees. and these people, they are government employees. they have different rights than someone would than working for a private corporation like the trump organization don't they? >> correct.
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absolutely. i should have said this is not the way we do government business in america. government employees are subject to various rules. if you obtain classified information you can't disclose it. if you have a conversation that is covered by attorney/client privilege or executive ti privilege, you can't disclose t. they are supposed to be covered by a code of conduct that prohibits them from disclosing confidential information. the way we enforce that is if you leak you get fired. not if you leak you get sued. or if you leave the government and even after the president's term and you write a tell-all book they can go after profits or sue you. this is just as one lawyer i quoted, she said this is crazy and that was my response. >> that's what happens when you
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become a public servant. that's the difference. we appreciate your reporting and thank you for joining us so quickly on this. >> thank you for having me. >> quickly, barbara, you have been hearing the conversation conversation i've been having with ruth on this new reporting, that the president may have required people to sign these nondisclosure agreements. is this thing enforceable, barbara? >> i think, probably not. contracts are void if contrary to the public interest. you could hire a hitman, and enter into a contract to kill somebody, but it would be void as it's against the public interest. and if you were to breach it, you would still have to go through costly court battles. >> and the speculation that bob
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mueller is now in the white house's crosshairs. these tweets from trump taking direct aim at the mueller probe. republicans on the sunday shows, with tough talk and some defense. >> if he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency. we're a rule of law nation. >> the president seems exceptionally frustrated, he wants the investigation to come to an end. >> to suggest that mueller should shut down, and all he's looking at is collusion. if you have an innocent client, mr. dowd, look like it. >> the special counsel will come to a conclusion that's fair and
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he'll arrive at the truth. >> some are talking tough now. but what will republicans do if bob mueller is fired? the president's new focus on the mueller probe in his tweets, could that become part of an obstruction of justice case? and was the mccabe firing following normal procedure? frank, i'm going to start with you on this one. the mccabe firing, since you were the chief of the office of professional responsibility at one time, mccabe's lawyer tweeted he's never seen such a rush to judgment. in your opinion, was this firing by the book, or does something appear improper here? >> i'm deeply concerned about the manner in which this was
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done. we'll need to see if we ever get to the substantive findings against andrew mccabe. but i've been a part of hundreds of investigations, and i've never, never seen an fbi agent dismissed 26 hours before his retirement eligibility. so, something about the manner of this is discuturdisturbing. the fact that this was handled by the attorney general was disturbing, because he's supposed to be recused from the russia case. the other thing i'm deeply concerned about, any reaching by the white house to influence, or guide the outcome of the investigation, and we know
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president trump has tweeted repeatedly against andrew mccabe. and mccabe said any time he talked to the president, he berated him and his wife. and i think the special counsel will be looking at this as a potential another nail in the coffin of obstruction and intent for obstruction. >> and sessions also had to recuse himself from anything having to do with the clinton e-mail investigation. and we knew mccabe was involved with that. >> exactly. so, the format of this is not proper. this is an administration that can't get out of their own way. if they simply let mccabe retire in less than 24 hours, they wouldn't have given mueller something else to look at. now, we'll have yet more for
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mueller to look at. >> just quickly, why would the office of professional responsibility have recommended for mccabe to be fired in the first place? >> well, my comments are in the format and handling and timing that look vindictive. but that's not saying the fbi didn't find substantive wrongdoing. but the way it was handled is deeply troubling. the fbi may have been better served by having andy retire in 26 hours. >> and the mueller investigation, that seems what this is all leading to. it seems as if the president was unleashed to go after mueller more directly in tweets. he used mueller's name for the first time today. if you're bob mueller, are you
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worried, or do you add the tweets into a potential obstruction of justice case? >> well, i don't know if mueller is looking over his shoulder more than just collecting evidence. anything the president says in tweets is a statement that can be used against him. the statement by john dowd yesterday, he tied together the mccabe firing as a brilliant decision, and tied it with the mueller investigation. i think he adds fuel to the fire, and bolsters the opinion that this is part of obstruction of justice. >> and when dowd released the statement, he said it was on behalf of him and trump and the white house, then walked it back and said it was only on behalf of him. what happens if mueller is
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fired? does the investigation get shut down, do we hear what happened? do we see what he found out? >> it's not clear. the only precedent we have for all of this is the saturday night massacre, and in that instance, the assistant prosecutors raced to the office to make sure they didn't lose the evidence. and they got a new prosecutor to replace cox, so maybe we get a replacement for robert mueller, and they keep going. but there are two issues there, robert mueller as the personnel, and whether there is a special counsel investigation at all. so, two separate issues. it's a little bit unknown at this moment. >> we played sound from several republicans, including lindsey graham, warning the president about firing bob mueller. how do you think members of the
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gop party will react if he goes ahead and fires bob mueller? >> i think there's a great concern. first of all, any sort of agenda regarding the republican party, who, if you remember, is in control of the white house and the congress, it would be a political catastrophe. and i'm sure there are republicans across the spectrum who don't want that to happen. and people have been saying since the beginning, the best way to move forward is to let the investigation go forward. let it conclude. and to keep hands off of it. so far, until yesterday, that's what the president has been doing. but this seems to be the latest example in the trumpification of the white house. the president is taking control of the narrative, over the
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approach, whether in policy or tack ta tacti tactics, listening to himself rather than his advisors. anybody who has graduated from law school for a day would advise him not to send out the tweets he's doing. he doesn't care. he's moving forward in the way he sees fit, and that could mean even the republicans who are telegraphing to him on the sunday shows are saying, he's not going to listen to them either. >> we'll have to wait and see what happens in the next 24 to 48 hours. frank, thank you. barbara and kimberly, sticking with me. coming up, the man believed to have interfered in our election
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got re-elected. is there anything that can be done to stop him. plus, fighting for silence. a new report suggesting president trump's lawyer tried to keep stormy daniels quiet as far back as 2011. that's coming up next. your brain changes as you get older. but prevagen helps your brain with an ingredient originally discovered... in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory. prevagen. the name to remember. [thud]
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reporting that michael cohen's back and forths started in 2011. this week, trump's lawyers filed to have the case moved from state to federal court. a but daniels claims that she was threatened with physical harm. >> was she threatened in any way. >> yes. >> was she threatened physical harm? >> yes. >> did that come from the president directly, the physical threats. >> i can't answer that. >> wow. joining my panel, jake, i'm
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going to start with you on this. we haven't heard from a lot on this from the democrats. are they reluctant to see how this plays out? >> well, it's getting more and more bizarre by the day. starting with michael cohen saying he had paid this porn star $130,000 out of his own pocket to shut up about an affair he says never happened. and so, the democrats are just waiting to see how this plays out. >> well, they would normally jump on a chance like this, considering there could be a breach in campaign financing laws. >> there have been all sorts of strange things in the case.
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we'll have to wait to see what storm daniels says. >> do they have a plan? >> i'm not certain, looking at polling numbers a lot of republicans consider it fake news. a part of the calculus has to be, we're already facing a tough road ahead, with the midterms coming up in november. do we risk further isolating the president's base, our voters, by speaking out publicly against this? and most of them will not advise them to do so. right now, they're waiting to see how far this goes. >> i'm not sure that the president's base cares about his dalliances. not sure if it moves the needle. and the attorney says that six
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women have come forward with similar claims. let's listen to him and then we'll talk. >> we've been contacted by six women who have strikingly similar versions of events to that of my client. but i want to stress, and i've been very, very clear, and i want to continue to be clear about this. we have not vetted the allegations and stories. >> this is actually a two-part question, barbara. why bring it up if you haven't vetted the individuals? and, "b," if these stories are proven to be true, what impact could it have in stormy daniels' case? >> well, it could increase here credibili -- her credibility, maybe her
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story is true. but what's the long term impact, i think people care about hush money. that suggests people who are corrupt and conceals the truth. and that could even spill over into the mueller investigation, with obstruction of justice, some scheme and plan to keep quiet people that have adverse information about you. >> wouldn't something like this make president trump vulnerable to the russians, this is one of their tactics, with evidence of sleeping with someone you don't want that to get out, that's been used over and over with the russians and cia operatives. >> and this is one of the questions they ask you and others about you, do you know of any reason this person could be
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blackmailed? as someone who engages in a lot of nondisclosure agreements, so many secrets that could be used as leverage. >> they also ask about your debt, if you have a debt of $100 million, that could be something that is used as well. and this statement, the fact that a sitting president is pursuing over $20 million in bogus damages against a private citizen who is only trying to tell the public what really happened -- do you think the trump team is panicking over stormy daniels? >> i think they should be concerned. politically, this story doesn't seem to be damaging president trump, the allegations are less
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shocking than what came out before his election. but legally, it could be problematic for a number of reasons. there is the campaign finance violation potential, as you said. but history has shown, if this goes into litigation, there is discovery, he can be deposed. things like his income tax can come into play if it involved who he's paid, and what people may have over him. this is something that can slowly creep out, well beyond the salacious details of what has already been said. >> and the story isn't going away. that's for sure. thank you. still to come, another week of surprise firings, starting with tillerson and ending with mccabe. how is the world responding? that's in "we said/they said". and, vladimir putin wins
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re-election. can anything be done to stop what might be the world's most dangerous man? that's next. ♪ ♪ ♪ (vo) you can pass down a subaru forester. but you get to keep the memories. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. (avo) get 0% apr financing on all new 2018 subaru forester models. now through april 2nd.
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and i am a senior public safety my namspecialist for pg&e. my job is to help educate our first responders on how to deal with natural gas and electric emergencies. everyday when we go to work we want everyone to work safely and come home safely. i live right here in auburn, i absolutely love this community. once i moved here i didn't want to live anywhere else. i love that people in this community are willing to come together to make a difference for other people's lives. together, we're building a better california. welcome back. time now for we said/they said.
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another chaotic week in washington, d.c., another round of high profile firings making headlines. >> the latest change in the trump administration. donald trump is shaking up his white house again. more heads are rolling at the trump straight. >> mccabe, fired hours before he could retire at full pension. and rex tillerson let go on twitter. the french poking fun with this. we've seen that before.
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with tillerson out and pompeo in, the question is, how will this affect the u.s. on the world scale? the skaecretary of state was supposed to visit with japan soon. the foreign minister was dismayed. meanwhile, the uae seeing iran as a regional menace, this headline, it's a throw back to trump's days as a reality tv star. and this one, tillerson will probably go down as one of the worst secretaries of state ever.
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and putin said to be leading by more than 75%, that means a fourth term, his tenure is second only to stalin. but his open hostility towards the west is what has been making headlines. headlines about him being behind a brazen poisoning attack on uk soil. and joining me, richard engel, i'll start with you on this one. polls in the past have shown that putin's popularity tends to
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rise in times of fallings out with the west. >> it's funny you should mention that. an official from putin's campaign staff put out a tweet not long ago, thanking british officials for their comments and accusations against putin, saying it gave voters a boost, gave them the extra push they needed going into the elections. they definitely see that antagonistic role that has been set up with putin presenting himself as someone who is willing to confront the west, and reclaim what many here think is russia's faded glory. that is appealing, and it's something they're playing to.
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and have been playing to. >> richard, is putin expected to continue governing past 2024, or is he looking to the future? >> that's a hard thing to know. as often is the case with strong men, they find themselves on a treadmill, once you're on it, you can't really get off. because your past can come back to haunt you. the way putin came to power may suggest an off-ramp for him later on. yel yeltsin was in power, but handed over power to putin in exchange for protection. the question is, will putin ever trust someone enough to offer him a similar deal? putin, it must be said, was quite a different person in the early years.
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and masha is an expert on this, she can tell you in the early days, there wasn't the putin that many people are seeing right now, who does seem to be taking a very confrontational stance with the world, a very bold and risky foreign policy. but, in this country, putin seems to be having a moment. he seems to be winning. his gamble in syria seems to be paying off. al assad is gaining strength. he's building a land bridge to crimea. and now he plans to connect it physically to russia. and today, he's once again being elected president, with the widest margin since russian
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presidents have been directly elected. >> masha, is putin having a moment, as richard says? is he only rising in power and gaining steam? >> it's very hard to talk about this, because we're talking about this as though this were actually an election, which is is not. it's a rigged, farcical ritual, in which the only candidates on the ballot are ones that the kremlin put there. and they don't have access to media, they're not really campaigning. putin hasn't participated in any debat debates. to say this reflects anything other than what putin wants to stage, is really to mislead the public. so, i wouldn't say he's having a moment. if you mean that he's
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consolidating power, absolutely. that kind of a regime is always in motion. >> does anything deter vladimir putin? >> no. and the idea that, yes, if you're asking about sanctions, or something that can be done that will change his behavior, absolutely not. i think we need to think about sanctions in terms of right and wrong, in moral terms. it's wrong to do business with putin, while they're assassin e assassinating their opponents. >> what would affect him? >> i don't think that sanctions can work strategically. we need to evaluate them from
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point of view of right and wrong. >> and josh, russia was also blamed for a cyber attack on our power grids. despite all that, sarah sanders said this. >> is putin a friend or a foe of the united states? >> that's something that russia will have to make that determinati determination. they'll have to decide whether they're a good actor or a bad actor. we're going to be tough on russia until they decide to change their behavior. >> who is it up to? >> that's a good question. there has been a continual struggle within the trump administration about how rough we should be on russia. tillerson, really going straight after russia for election
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meddling, and the poisoning of the ex-spy that is blamed on russia. and even after sanders' comments, we saw top national security officials coming out about the attempt to hack not only our power grid, but water, aviation, our nuclear grid. so, there are people concerned about the risks coming from moscow, and others saying that we should be more cautious. >> masha, when will putin's bubble burst? >> i think at this point, look, systems collapse. but one of the definitions of a
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closed system is that you can't see inside. we're not going to know it's collapsed until it does collapse. i can't say he'll be out this year, six years, or in 20 years. >> so, we'll have to wait to see when the ending comes. thank you both for joining me. appreciate it. up next, trump versus mccabe. why the lawyer for the former fbi deputy director is calling the president's tweets childish, defamatory, disgusting, and false. and secretary of state rex tillerson, also sent packing. what all this change is doing to the morale at the white house. that's next. and i screamed into life. ♪ did mom give me too much freedom? did dad make me lust for too great an adventure? my scars and bruises tell their own story.
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welcome back. time for a look at what's making headlines around the globe. in syria, bashar al assad vis visited a site where rebels have fought back. and in turkey, afrin is d declaring victory. >> and in manila, firefighters battling a fire that has killed three. and in madrid, protests
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sparked by the death of a street vendor. closing ceremonies in south korea, the end of the 12th winter paralympic games. the next games will be held in china in 2022. that's our global checkup. >> coming up, more on the fallout from the firing of andrew mccabe, and what it might mean for the mueller investigation. >> mccabe, fired two days before he can collect his pension. damn, man, that's cold. even the joker doesn't treat people like that. >> tech: at safelite autoglass
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i believe when it comes to this issue, we need as much transparency as possible, to make sure it wasn't politically motivated. >> that was senator lindsey graham, talking about the firing of andrew mccabe. given his pink slip on friday night by jeff sessions. since then, the president blasting off a series of tweets praising the move.
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and mccabe's attorney coming back with a tweet of his own. jake, you the scenario at the doj. >> the difference is we didn't have a firing like this and didn't go after people like this. this is an entirely unique situation. when i was at the department of justice i worked with republicans and democrats to do the right thing for the american people and the problem is that the president today has created an atmosphere of such distrust and such low morale it is going to affect the way people do their jobs and that's an awful thing to see particularly because of the way that people at the department of justice and across the federal government have been so dedicated this doing their jobs. >> to staying apolitical. kimberly, we talked about whether republicans stand up to trump if he tries to fire bob mueller. we just got this tweet defending
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mueller from john mccain who we know is fighting brain cancer. is he someone, kimberly, that you think has a stature to get trump to back down? or if not, to get other republicans to rally behind him? >> i think other republicans would and do rally behind senator mccain. senator mccain is somebody who's sparred frequently with donald trump and trump generally has not listened to him or slapped back. i think there's probably a better chance perhaps of someone like a lindsey graham and golfs with trump and spent the trump administration trying to get close to the president so that he can have his ear. and listen to his counsel. but again, as i mentioned earlier, all signs seem to be pointing to donald trump listening to his counsel only and unclear whether republicans or anybody else even his own chief of staff will be effective
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in stopping him from doing something he wants to do. >> his own counsel, ie him and him alone. josh, so the mccabe firing, coming obviously just after rex tillerson let go, as well. you actually traveled with the former secretary. he learned of the news as we well know and well talked about ad nauseam from the tweet. tillerson was not beloved by the state department employees but how does treatment like that sit with those in the state department? >> well, it's interesting because you're right. there was not a lot of love lost of tillerson and the state department and america's diplomats but took this kind of an act to rally people to the side of the ex-ceo of exxonmobil who, you know, really didn't enjoy a lot of sympathy apeople saying that this is the -- the way it was handled is unfortunate, really put him in an awkward position. and the fact that people have
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been so unceremoniously fired and dumped by the administration seems to be having a chilling effect on those considering entering the trump administration. he has a lot of vacancies and what we have been talking about. going to need qualified people in the jobs and if they think this is what happens when you enter the trump administration and this is how you'll likely to exit it is really hard to convince people to make that leap. >> the president say that is people are lined up to work in the whouite house, it seems. no? >> he does say that. there are a lot of vacancies of people in mind and people at the end said, you know what? for personal reasons i decline. i don't want to be in that situation. and just the sheer number of key positions open across the state department an the key u.s. agencies, 14 months into the administration seems to be an indication that they're not really able to fill the jobs as much as they'd like to. >> jake talked about the impact to see on the doj if this type of actions continue to take place. what about at state, josh?
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what about the state department workers with sort of an atmosphere at the whougs aite h and all these people being fired or leaving unceremoniously? >> we have a period similar to the beginning of the administration and people don't know what direction they're supposed to be taking. we have a new secretary of state going to be coming in assuming pompeo is confirmed, has a different policy directions on the iran deal and other things. but people don't really know who's the decision maker right now. is it the secretary? is it the president? what exactly is our job and our mission at the moment? that's something people are trying to sort out. >> it's been reported that the president does thrive on all of this chaos and said that change is actually good. do you think -- do you buy it? does he thrive on this chaos? do you think he's able to get things done despite when's happening around him? >> no. i think he does strive on chaos but when you think about it
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there's a heightened level of n ineptitude on behalf of the president. the individuals have a set of things to supposed to accomplish, particularly at this level of government to move the country forward. you do not see that coming from the white house. i know several individuals that work across the government in various agencies and departments and talking to those individuals they tell me that morale is not only low with career folks but also low with politicals, appointed by the white house, even within the white house, documented very well in the past several day that is morale is very low there. when the president talks about a lot of people who are willing to come work for the white house, i don't know a lot of people qualified individuals willing to deal with the level of chaos and appears more people exiting and not coming in. >> kimberly, there's reporting and speculation to be next on
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the chopping block. a lot of names being thrown out. h.r. mcmaster one of the names. ag jeff sessions and see ben carson, another name, john kelly. so, what are you hearing? who could be next here? >> i mean, the list is long. it includes david shulkin, betsy devos. they've had a terrible week in terms of the substance and the president venting to people about who might go next. he was famous saying you're fired and i think he wants to continue doing that. >> yeah. that's for sure. josh, sirmichael, jacob and kimberly, thank you for joining us. be sure to join kasie hunt at 7:00 but up next it's "meet the press." ♪
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and these guys, him, ah. oh hello. that lady, these houses! yes, yes and yes. and don't forget about them. uh huh, sure. still yes! xfinity delivers gig speed to more homes than anyone. now you can get it, too. welcome to the party. this sunday, president trump steps up his attack on the russia investigation. former deputy fbi director andrew mccabe is fired. the president tweeting, a great day for the hard-working men and women of the fbi. mccabe responds that the president seeks, not just to slander me personally, but to taint the fbi, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals. >> candidly, it looks like retribution and a bit vindictive. >> was mccabe fired because he may have lied under oath? or, because the president wants to undermine the russia investigation?


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