tv MSNBC Live MSNBC March 31, 2018 5:30am-6:00am PDT
and good morning to you to all of you. i'm alex witt at the half hour. growing concerns on capitol hill following new details of spending by epa administrator scott pruitt. this coming days after v.a. secretary david shulkin was fired over his own ethics violations. here's democratic congressman of virginia. >> if scott pruitt doesn't resign, president trump should fire him. this is not good for citizens
is's confidence in our government. >> well, the epa is firing back amid new ethics scrutiny of praou wit. he leased a room for $50 a night from the wife of a lobbyist whose firm represents clients regulated by epa. the report raised question about paying below a market fee could constitute an improper gift. a speaksperson said his housing arrangement for both himself and family was not a gift and the lease was consistent with federal ethics regulations. all right. let's bring in the pam. msnbc political analyst maxwell, msnbc political analyst, rick tyler. my saturday morning family. thank you all. >> good to see you, alex. >> rick, the epa response, is it missing a point here?
aren't ethics rules also about avoiding the appearance of impropriety? this is a $50 a night room in the capitol hill area that i read on average goes for $120 a night. >> probably more than that. secretary pruitt only paid the $50 when he was actually staying there. yes, ethics is important but also the appearance is very important. the optics is important. remember, this is a president who routinely is spends time on his own golf courses, takes air force one. i'm not begrudging him. he can take time and go play golf. it doesn't look good. so he sets the standard for the cabinet. when you have where donald trump is spending on his own properties and $50 a night to save money. remember, he's getting this deal from someone who presumably might want to have influence.
>> yeah. joe, how does this reflect on the president? you remember all of those campaign promises of draining the swamp. >> you're right. this doesn't look like draining the swamp when you have a cabinet secretary like it who is spending trips on 24-hour security, at one point they broke down the door in a place he was staying because they couldn't get to him. this is taxpayer money at the end of the day. and you have what looks to be an inappropriate deal that at the very least is the appearance of impropriety with this $50 a night deal staying at the place owned by the wife of a lobbyist. very inappropriate. not helpful to the administration at all. i'm guessing that pruitt is on a short leash here. i'm not surprised if he were fired the next week or so.
>> the president, as you know, firing david shulkin this week. he had been facing his own controversies. he's what he told chris hayes about how that news was delivered. >> you spoke to him. he made no mention of the fact that he was about to terminate you? >> that's correct. >> and then you found out via tweet? >> yeah. right before that, the chief of staff kelly gave me a call, which i appreciated, gave me a heads-up. but that was much after the phone call. >> why did you go down that way, zerlina? >> the president does it in a very cowardly way. he won't explain why he is doing it. he embarrassed rex tillerson. now we see the same thing with shulkin. there are conflicting reasons why shulkin was pushed out of the v.a. i think obviously him going to
wimbledon and getting tickets isn't something that is great. as rick and joe said eloquently, it is completely inappropriate. that's why we need a democratic congress to be a check and balance on this administration. but there is also a narrative building that he could have been pushed out because donald trump wants to privatize the v.a. the second largest agency with nearly 360,000 employees. now we have a dr. ronnie jackson, the president's personal physician, stepping into that role potentially if he's confirmed. he has no experience. so this is troubling development on a variety of different fronts. >> okay. let's move on to hope hicks with you, rick. because the "new york times" has the article on the void her departure leaves in the white house. it says, quote, there is a palpable worry among those in the west wing about who the president will now confide in,
and how many other people might be able to pull him back now that hope hicks is gone. is hope hicks getting too much credit here or is there no one else who can fill those roles? he would call out, hopy, hopeis ster, and she would go running to him. is there no one else that can do this? >> a lot of people have a hope hicks who is there to do whatever needs to be done and quickly and main discretion. those relationships are built over a long time. no, i don't think she's immediately replaceable. the per tpupbgtry roles, sure, a lot of people can do those. you really do want someone that you can trust. he had a relationship over a long period of time. i think she will be hard to replace. >> so to that end, joe, look at the last few weeks. is it fair to link the volatility of this week with her
departure and what can the white house do to change the perception out there of all of this volatility? >> you've got people going in and out of the administration almost in a revolving door fashion. hope hicks had her own legal challenge. i think she was wise to leave when she did. i wouldn't be surprised in dan scovino took up the slack. i hear from my sources he is using the same office she used, very close to the president. he won't be able to do the same for the president as hope hicks did. this is a very difficult time for the administration. and i don't know what it means as well for john kelly. it seems he is taking the reins of leadership and more people are being shown the door. >> yeah. cnbc has the article titled chief of staff john kelly's
position in the white house looks weaker as president trump asserts himself and chaos reigns. so give me your assessment of the status of john kelly in his position as chief of staff. is it one in name only? >> i think so. the more reporting that we're hearing, especially in the last week about the president feeling very comfortable in the position of president, which i think as an outside observer can say that's pretty amusing considering the chaos we have been witnessing for the last year. john kelly seemed to be in a stronger position. there was controversy and how he handled that. it seemed he was getting more sure footing in the weeks after the rob porter scandal, essentially died down. and the president seems not like anyone on his equal footing. he doesn't like somebody in his administration who can challenge him directly. so perhaps putting john kelly in his place a bit is allowing the
president to essentially freewill and do whatever he wants. but that's concerning. the president needs a chief of staff. the president needs someone who can be the gatekeep er and maintain only limited access to him. we saw conspiracy theories. he's tkwaoeting obama attacked trump tower, for example. so you need somebody in there who is going to rein in this president. we're not seeing that right now. it is, like joe said, a very, very concerning time for this administration if it's true that john kelly's status is diminished in the white house. >> we'll have you back in just a bit. we will talk about the stormy daniels's updates. how a new autopsy on the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man differs from what sacramento police say happened. >> next hour, turnover trouble. the potential trouble from all the dangers inside the white
house. what would our founding fathers want us to do about this president? i'm tom steyer, and when those patriots wrote the constitution here in philadelphia, they created the commander in chief to protect us from enemy attack the justice department just indicted 13 russians for an electronic attack on america. so what did this president do? nothing. he's failed his most important responsibility - to protect our country. the question is: why is he still president? at a comfort inn with a glow taround them, so people watching will be like, "wow, maybe i'll glow too if i book direct at choicehotels.com." who glows?
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clark was shot eight times with seven shots in his back. police opened fire thinking he was holding a gun, but it was just his cell phone. in sacramento, steve patterson. with an early good morning to you, what is the reaction to this autopsy report? >> we saw 250 protesters last night for what was a peaceful demonstration. but clearly people are angry and they're calling for justice. over night a growing call for justice. protesters flooded the streets of downtown is sacramento once again following the death of stephon clark. >> they shot him "in cold blood". they need to be brought to justice. >> reporter: police were responding to reports that a vandal was breaking car windows when they encountered clark.
the officers said they thought he had a gun. but after firing 20 shots, they discovered it was actually a cell phone. >> he approached us hands out and then fell down. >> reporter: now a doctor commissioned by clark's family to perform the autopsy is offering a different account. he was hit eight times, first the left side from his armpit, spinning him around before he was shot six more times from behind and once in the thigh. >> the findings of his autopsy contradict many of the narratives that the sacramento police put forward. >> reporter: the autopsy was performed by dr. bennett omali who is credited with discovering the brain disease cte. >> he had seven gunshot wounds to the back. >> reporter: he died three to ten minutes later. >> it was not instantaneous death. >> reporter: now, questions continue to swirl as the outrage
around it grows. >> so the sacramento police department released a statement saying it has no further comment on the matter until an official autopsy is released by the county. meanwhile, a much larger separate protest is planned for later today. alex? >> i know you'll be watching that for us. thank you for watching, steve, from sacramento. newly released body can camera the footage shows the moments before a baton rouge, louisiana police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man in that stu. it was kept wrapped up for nearly two years. the officer who fired the shots was fired himself. he threatened to kill alton sterling moments before opening fire. the cop who helped wrestle sterling to the ground was suspended three days. louisiana attorney general did not bring criminal charges against either officer.
no federal charges were filed. gregory meeks of new york is a member of the foreign affairs committee and the congressional black caucus. your reaction to this broader question of why is it that the justice department -- it seems reluctant to pursue these cases. what is going on here? >> it is absolutely horrendous and it must stop. it is a national crises that we need to focus on as a country ca. this is a joke with the attorney general ending practice and pattern investigations. the president of the united states saying this is a local matter. i just came back from europe. the folks there are looking at this saying what is going on in the united states of america. here we are supposed to be the leaders of human rights. he is in absolute violation it
seems time after time of human rights violations of these young black men who continue to lose their lives unarmed at the hands of police. we've got to do something about this as a society. we cannot stand quiet. we must have some justice. >> the punting by sarah huckabee sanders in the cross talk as she was being queried by reporters saying it is a local matter. is there no way to work with the trump administration on this? is there a way to make headway? >> if we had an attorney who was not fearful of the president and would do the right thing. he is fearful of the president. he is now going to be fired. you should stand for something or you will fall for anything. so the attorney general should stand. if the attorney general doesn't
stand, the people in sacramento will stand, the people in louisiana and people in new york and people across this country. they have to excel and force this president and attorney general to do something to make sure they are looking into these matters when justice does not seem to happen when&they continue to happen over and over and over again. >> agreed. >> let's talk about the tight for tat between the united states and russian diplomats on both sides back and forth. yet the president remains completely quiet about this. and i want to read something that is reported by my colleagues at nbc news who say exclusively that the president told his aides not to talk publicly about russian policy moves. doing so might agitate putin, according to the officials. is that what you think this silence is about? >> well, you know, to me it gets more and more suspicious that you're afraid to say something. because if you, you know, this
president says anything about anybody on twitter -- so it almost, you know, common sense tells me something else has to be up. what that is, i don't know. i hope the mueller investigations can get into what it is. but it does seem to me that somebody has something on someone else. and that holds the individual from talking about it. he calls and talks and calls people names. the one person he calls and congratulates and does not talk eyeball to eyeball and tries to dial it down is donald trump. so it seems to me, you know, that i'm a former prosecutor. you start laying those facts and you can only come to one conclusion. i hope that the mueller investigation will reveal what is this, if there is anything.
>> the president seems to have thrown the administration for a loop when he talked about the u.s. role in syria regarding the military there. this was a campaign style rally, if you there to talk about infrastructure. let's take a listen for those of you who didn't hear it. here's what the president said. >> by the way we're knocking the hell out of isis, we'll be coming out of syria like very soon. let the other people take care of it now. very soon, very soon we're coming out. we're going to be coming out of there real soon. we're going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be. >> so what he said there, with now the addition to the administration of john bolton and mike pompeo, what's your read on this? >> my read is i hear russia somewhat, russia is in syria and i don't know whether there's some dialogue going on there. i see it as the same erratic president who goes out and makes statements without having the proper consultation from individuals on the know, that's
on the ground we have depleted the state department, noib nobody is there, no one that can talk diplomacy or can advise the president on what is or is not happening. the best way to handle these things. so we have a president who is irrational. who does not consult with anybody in that regards, who apparently feels he can make decisions in a room at a campaign meeting. that's not the kind of person i think with the kind of judgment you want from an individual who is the president of the united states. ? representative gregory meeks, i want to wish you a happy holiday weekend and thank you for joining us. a new poll shows 41% of the americans think the president should make a formal statement to confirm oregon, or deny his relationship with stormy daniels.
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lena maxwell, joe watkins and rick tyler. so i want to get all of you quickly. why the twitter silence from the president? >> i think he's scared of stormy daniels. i think michael ofavenatti, is filing solid documents in court. his motion was denied, but he's going to refile. i think a lot of facts are on her side. the bottom line is that the president seems to be in a position where he's finally met his match. he's met someone in stormy daniels who knows how to manipulate the media in the same way he's done so successfully over the years. soy think only time will tell if he's going to speak but i highly doubt it i don't think he's going to say anything about stormy daniels because he's afraid. >> look, rick, the president doesn't typically shy away from punching back his opponents, is it fear that keeps him from doing so. >> zirlena is right, it's a
reality show. you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. it has legal implications other than public perception. so he's going to ride out the storm. >> joe, i want you to weigh in as well. why you think stormy daniels seems to effect more caution from this president than just about anyone else. >> i think that stormy daniels has been really smart and at the end of the day if the president responds to her, he's probably bound to respond to all the other accusers as well. that would be a nightmare. i think he's probably wise to not make a response. >> a nightmare politically or a nightmare personally? he doesn't seem to be -- >> both. >> i don't know, the numbers in -- >> potentially legally. >> i guess i forgot to throw that in the mix. guys good to see you, zirlena, rich and joe. coming up, the voting the trump way. i'm a concrete mason.
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good morning. everyone, i'm alex witt here at msnbc world headquarters in new york. here's what's happening. under scrutiny, new questions about recent living arrangements in d.c. for president trump's epa chief. twitter silence, it's beck a week since the stormy daniels' interview. nothing from the president, why? the last days of hope hicks, a new report suggests that there may be no one to fill that void. wondering what it might mean for the president. a russian show of force, testing a new missile, a new report today on why the president may be telling his aides not to go after russia. is there a catch? but we begin with a new report out of the white house suggesting president trump is at odds with senior administration officials over his russia policy. "the new york times" says advisers are urging the president for more
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