tv Americas News HQ FOX News March 31, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
circles at the president could have exerted legal authority with him and sally yates and others. it is quite the opposite. again, i think that compared to the narrative you hear from a lot of the folks in this room all the time is a little bit opposite. here you have a to go up there. we talked about it with members of the administration. the president volunteered. this isn't an administration that is not doing everything it can to get to the bottom of this nan appropriate way. that is an important distinction that has been lost on a lot of you. we got up here and we talked about russia and the lack of a connection. we talk about the fact that every single person who has been brief saying none exist, republican, democratic, obama appointee. now we're going to the point where we've encouraged people to go talk to the house and senate intelligence committee so that they can continue to get to the bottom of this. that's quite the opposite of what you would normally think somebody who was not trying to
get to the bottom would do. >> on taxes, if i could. back on february 9th, the president said he would be presenting a phenomenal tax plan in the next two or three week. tomorrow is april 1st. we haven't seen that tax plan. can you tell us when the president will present his plan? >> i think, as you noted yesterday, secretary mnuchin and gary cohen and others on the team talked to the president about the process. i think that we are working on engaging with key stake holders. and when we feel it's appropriate that the president is given the appropriate amount of feedback, we'll start to put out the process we envisioned. but at this time that discussion is on going. as you know, we anticipated fully being engulfed in healthcare. i think that we're accelerating that. the president's got his team working overtime. he's been giving them feedback as far as what he wants to see and how he wants to see it.
>> is this going to be like healthcare to date where we thought we were going to see a proposal from the white house. in the end the president signed on with paul ryan? >> yeah. first i would dispute that we signed on to someone's plan. we worked with the house, as you know from the president's statements. we were very on board. it was a work both sides worked together on. i think this plan i would assume that hopefully we would come up with a plan that we all agree on. the president will put out principles as we've already done in terms of what his goals are, as the process moves forward. i'm sure that we'll have a robust debate about aspects of that plan, certain provisions and tax pieces. we'll work with the house and senate on it. >> on trade, the president, during the campaign, gearing up for this meeting with the chinese president. during the campaign, he suggested that on day one he
would declare china a currency manipulator. he hasn't done that. why hasn't this president followed through on that campaign promise? >> i think we need to have that meeting with president xi. i'm sure there will be a lot of discussions about our economic relationship. i don't -- we are days away from that. let's see what those -- i just don't want to prejudge. we're days away from it. there's a lot of issues that need to come up. >> thanks, sean. one on china. one on the middle east. this administration plans to order a review into china's status as a nonmarket? >> at this time the two trade executive orders that focus on counter duties are where we're going to look. we've got a lot -- obviously that's an issue that we probably hope to have the u.s. trade reppive confirmed. but that's a combined decision that in consultation with the
department of commerce and department of treasury. but let's see how we go first. >> can you clear up where the president stands on where he is on the president of syria. >> with respect to assad, there is a political reality that we have to accept in terms of where we are right now. we lost a lot of opportunities the last administration with respect to assad. i think our statement that both u.n. ambassador haley gave yesterday and secretary of state tillerson reflects the reality that is now at the syrian people. we had an opportunity and we need to focus now on defeating isis. the u.s. has profound priorities in syria and iraq. we made it clear that counter terrorism is foremost among those priorities. that's why our forces in the global coalition are partnering
with forces in syria. there is a little politicalty in terms of where we are now as the prior administration. there is not the opposition that existed last time and the opportunities that existed last time. >> you sound like you're saying whether or not he's legitimate, if you were to declare him illegitimate, there's nothing you could do so there's no point. >> i think there's a bit of reality that has to be addressed with respect to the opportunity and the options that we have now that we don't have or didn't have, they had in the last administration. and there's a reality that just doesn't exist in the same way. john christopher? >> thank you. what is really the end game for mr. assad? when the president speaks to his allies, his nato partners. obviously assad is not going to retire somewhere in the south of france. something's got to give. what's the thought, the conversation in terms of assad,
who would like to have a warm port in the mediterranean. >> i think we believe there's a need to deescalate violence and to have a political process to where the syrians will decide their own political future, consistent with the principles that have been enshrined in u.n. council resolution. there's a bit of reality on the ground in terms of what the options are. >> during the presidential campaign, the president said he was with the state on north carolina's law banning transgender people from using certain rest rooms. the democratic governor signed a deal to replace that law with a measure that some groups still say is discriminatory. >> i have not asked the president. i would stay consistent with what he said during the campaign cycle. he believes in states' rights. >> what is the president's personal view on bathrooms and
what are appropriate? >> the president made it clear. this issue came up with caitlyn jenner came to trump tower and he said he didn't really care. i think it is a state and local issue, not one that he believes needs federal attention. >> given that it's financial disclosure day, why will the white house not -- >> not sure if there's a proclamation on that. >> why will the white house not be releasing the president's 2016 tax returns given that conceivably those can't be under audit yet while the audit has obviously been the reason for why you haven't released the past returns. >> the president has been very clear about his tax returns and his position on that. the govern government of ethics require every federal employee to file these financial disclosure forms that everyone in america can go on to -- it will be the first time -- i don't want to get ahead of the background briefing, but i believe this is the first time they are on the white house website. we are making them more
accessible than ever in history. i think that's an apples and oranges. these are required by law. these list just for everyone who's not familiar with them, the financial disclosure forms that we file, i think it's called a 278, reveal every asset you own, every debt you have, your spouse's income, your spouse's employment, holds that you have, credit card debt. it is an under taking of every asset a person owns, every debt that they have. i think that is a very clear understanding of the assets that people have, the value of those assets, both in terms of whether they're worth something or the liabilities they're incurring. that is a very, very transparent way of being able to understand someone's -- so to equate the two is rather -- >> sure. i was just using that as a trumping off point. >> i'll jump back. >> if the audit is not the reason --
>> i didn't say it. you also remember taxes aren't due until the 15th of april. >> can we expect them? >> i don't know. i haven't gotten into -- i'm worried about getting my own done. >> finished? >> no. but i think that, again, i think that respectfully, you look at what we're doing frankly and again this will be discussed after this is done. but i think there is an element of going above and beyond what has been done in the past to make sure people have access to this. there's a lot of people, one of the real interesting things that people will see today. i think it's something that should be celebrated. the president has brought a lot of people into this administration and this white house in particular who have been very blessed and successful by this country and have given up a lot to come into government by setting aside a lot of assets. and i think it speaks volumes to the desire for a lot of these people to fulfill the president's vision and move the agenda forward that they are
willing to, you know, list all of their assets, under go this public scrutiny, but also set aside a lot. you'll see that people often told they have to sell an au set or get rid of something to come to government. there are people who have done a lot to come into this administration and give back that have been inspired by the president's victory and agenda to move the country forward. jim? >> general flynn's attorney said that his client has a story to tell. is the white house concerned that general flynn has damaging information ab the president, his aides and associates about what occurred during the campaign with respect to russia? >> nope. >> the other thing i wanted to ask you. you're just saying a few moments ago that some of this information that would be helpful to the committee, you were talking ab evelyn farkus and so forth. that seems to be something that pertains to during the transition. that the president's tweets time and again talked about tapping
phones in october, just prior to the election. just found my wires were taps just before the victory. i want to get clear about the time frame. does the white house have any information, is it providing any information to these intelligence committees that would draw these members to the conclusion that there was some kind of surveillance going on before the election had the president originally alleged. >> i don't want to specifically get into it. but if we are splitting hairs on what day of the calendar it was, that's a pretty interesting development. i think that we have now come to a place -- >> they're the president's allegations. >> i understand that. but if the allegation was it was ton 1st of december or 10th of december, i think we're starting to split serious hairs here. again, it's interesting that now we're arguing over the date. not the substance. the substance is why were people using government resources, violating civil liberties
potentially, looking into people's backgrounds to surveil them, to unmask them, provide their names and to sources spread classified information, make it available to others, spread it to places that they weren't supposed to. hold on. i think that it is interesting. because, again, i get your question, but if what we're really arguing is did it happen on a monday or tuesday or the 31st versus the 7th or 8th, i think we've lost focus here. >> let me finish. i understand that. >> dates are changing. >> i didn't say they were changing, just to be clear. it is fascinating to me that we are now arguing over the date not the substance. i understand your point. if we get down to that, we come out and you want to get into what date. i think it is really getting lost in this debate. that american citizens who were
not government employees at the time, who were not targets of stuff were surveiled, had their information unmasked, had it made available, it was politically spread. all of this should be very concerning to people that an administration, or people in an administration, people serving in government, who are providing classified information, given clearance in the trust of the united states government misused, mishandled, potentially did some very very bad things with classified information. that astonishes me that that is not the subject of this. that all of this is happening in our country and yet the subject -- we talk about what door someone came in, what day it happened. there is a concern that people misused, mishandled, misdirected, classified information, leaked it out, spread it out, violated civil liberties. and the potential that that happened should concern every
single american. >> to follow up on that, i think we are concerned about the substance as much as the process. but the details matter. i just want to make sure that i heard you clearly. it seems like you're going farther than what we've heard in previous briefings. sounds like you are, just as the president is alleging, that the obama administration conducted unlawful surveillance on the trump transition team. do you have evidence of that? >> i don't. i know what has been provided to -- as i said in a statement, i believe that we -- that what has been provided and will be provide to members of both committees i think should further their investigation. i think the revelation of evelyn farkus, who played a senior role in the obama administration going on the record to talk ab how they politically used classified information is troubling. i believe that the reports that are coming out day by day that nbc just reported that that the
substance of what we've been talking about continues to move exactly in the direction that the president spoke about in terms of surveillance that occurred. and that should be very troubling. that, frankly, should be something that everyone looks at and says what's going on here? why did it happen? who did it? how are we gonna get to the bottom of it? that's what concerns me. >> can i go back to china for a second? the president said the meeting next week with china will be a difficult one. he referred to massive trade deficits. what sort of tone is he hoping to set for this meeting? why is he going to be so difficult? >> there's big issues. i don't think it's a surprise to anybody. we've got national security issues in terms of our political posture towards north korea, the threat of a missile, that extends further and further. the tests that they're using,
their nuclear capability. then on the trade front, we've got serious concerns with what they're doing. our trade practices with them. there's a lot of areas that we need to be concerned about with trade. i think, you know, this isn't a sit around and play paddy cake conversation. they're big issues. the president's been making it very clear the challenges we face. i think he wants to have a good and respectful and healthy relationship. also wants to make sure he tackles the challenges and the problems facing american workers and american manufacturers. maurice goodman from philly. shout out to those stations. >> in philadelphia. randall jefferson. question is, further trump
saying -- [ audible difficulty ] >> attorney general sessions recently suggested that cities could not only lose future funds but that the federal government may require them to pay back grants. will there be -- when will this take place? and will that money be reallocated to other departments like investigation or hbcu? >> well, i would say the president finds it unacceptable that some localities and counties potentially some states have prioritized a political agenda over the safety of their people by flaunting our nation's immigrations law, becoming so-called sanctuary cities. the failure to follow federal
claw have tragic consequences for all of our citizens in our country. it's particularly concerning in a place like chicago and other cities like yours in philadelphia where there's been increased violence. imgrants, both legal and illegal, are not safe from criminals who commit acts that are free to roam the streets. the attorney general issued a public notice reminding aut states and local jurisdictions to comply with federal law. with respect to the budget piece, you know, i think we've got an on going budget process and we'll have to see how many states comply and where, if any, potential savings are there, and how we reallocate them. the president's budget, fy '17 contingency budget for funding beyond the resolution on april 28th, then fy '18 budget that he's already submitted were going to reflect some key priorities, both in terms of homeland security and national defense. so we'll see where we could reallocate that money.
priority is clear. to get cities into compliance and to make sure that we understand there's not just a financial impact of this, but also a very clear security aspect of this. glenn? >> first, just a follow-up on something you said before. you said hillary clinton had personal con tack with vladamir putin. you elaborate? >> i'm not saying that context of it in itself is not -- >> as a private citizen? >> i think what i'm saying is when you talk about connections to russia, the only connection that anyone's made with president trump is multiple years ago he hosted a pageant there. some of the -- owns condos around the world. some were sold to some russians. i think he sold a house to one several years back. that's his connection. when you talk about the other side you look at what the obama administration's connections were. you have a secretary of state selling a fifth of our country's
uranium, a clinton foundation concern with some donation, former president, her husband, getting a personal call from putin. you've got a stated goal of their -- of that administration, of secretary clinton to have a reset to, quote, strengthen russia. so when you compare the two sides in terms of who's actually engaging with russia, trying to interact with them, it is night and day between our actions and her action, and yet no one questioned what she was doing or how she was handling it. >> her pattern of behavior is more suspicious than president trump? >> if you compare the two, it's definitely -- when you talk ab the stuff that went to their foundation, the concerns that existed around the sale of one-fifth of the country's uranium, the personal calls from putin. i think when you want to look at a connection to russia, there's a clear one there and much less of one that ever existed on this side. >> sean, one other thing.
so, sean, in terms of the nunes chronology, just to clarify. when we're asking questions like dates, we're not attempting to acertain the geography. we want to know who knew what when. >> i understand that. >> forget about the technical questions. mr. nunes was on the campus. we don't know who let him in the gate. apparently it is, and you describe that as a normal process. right? tell me if it is normal the way i'm describing it. mr. nunes rbg head of an investigation, is allowed to roam around the executive complex. we don't know who let him in. to speak to two deputy members of the national security council. he is then allowed to see information. he then obtains an appointment from my understanding the chronology, the president of the united states to disscourge that information. he then goes public with that information. then you say it would be appropriate for everybody to look at it. is that a normal process?
>> i would take issue with a number of the aspects of your chronology. number one which you're forgetting is that initially he is the one that publicly said well before any of this came to light in terms of the president's march 5th tweet that he was just looking into this whole matter. he, according to john roberts own reporting, just said that neither of those individuals is described in your paper's reporting are accurate. so i would dispute several of the pieces. then as far as him roaming around the white house -- [ inaudible ] >> i understand that. you jump to a ton of conclusions. i love watching some shows where they jump to conclusions. >> it's clearing the white house. you said it twice at the podium today. >> i'm focused on the substance of it. where is any of the reporting been in your paper ab evelyn farkus and her revelation is that this is what they sought to do? where is the reporting that nbc
news uncovered that other officials? you seem to be really focused on who showed up where and what door they went in and how it happened. to answer your question, kwrerb it's appropriate for a member of congress to contact someone who has contacted him, according to some reports. i don't know the answer to that. if you're asking sit common for a member to come here. he wassen hiding or roaming. he was asked to come over by an individual. he came over. which happens daily. he was asked to go somewhere. he went there. he is cleared. nothing that is inappropriate -- exactly the opposite. what he did. who he met with was 100% proper. >> did the chief of staff, who is my understanding an exceptionally at tentative gate keeper to who comes in and out of the white house office. did the chief of staff know he was on the campus? >> you're playing cute there. you're doing two things. you're talking about the oval office and the other one is the
campus. no, the chief of staff does not know everyone who is on the 18 acres at every given time. they are people cleared or waved through the system. no, we don't track every single person who is on the 18 acres. do we know generally speaking who is in the oval office? not all the time. but if there was a meeting, we all sat back here, he made the announcement. you're leaving out a key part. he briefed the press before he ne. we all found out you, me, everyone else, that he was coming down here after he held a press conference with your colleagues to say he was coming down here based on stuff that he found. that didn't have to do with russia, that a whistle blower source had given him. the other report i'm hearing today, the sources that you describe in your paper are not accurate. while i'm not going to comment on either, there's an assumption that the chronology is accurate which i don't believe from further reporting that it is. i also believe that some of the comments that have come out publicly in terms of the obama
administration are conveniently left out of that discussion. i think that is interesting how no one seems to really cover the fact that a senior obama administration with high level clearances talked about the spreading of classified information for political purposes and no one seems to care. >> just to be clear, mr mr. kushner, mr. bannon, did not have knowledge of him being on the campus? >> i don't know. again, you have two questions and you melded them together. no one knew that he was coming to speak to the president. he announced that on television during a press conference. >> my understanding is dr dr. farkus left the administration in 2015. so why is what she said in 2017 relevant to something that allegedly happened in 2016? >> the question i would ask is exactly? she said -- i'm urging my colleagues. it's odd that the presumption seems to be why is it interesting? have you asked her?
>> no. >> no, you haven't. no, no. but she's been on television talking about what she's done and you seem to have made no -- >> i don't watch everything that's on tv. >> neither do i. i would assume a senior obama administration official that handled russia -- >> former. >> all obama administration officials -- >> she wassen there in 2016. >> thank you. i appreciate the timeline. i'm well aware of when it was. you seem to be rushing to her defense. at some point she went on television and talked about actions that she and her colleagues took to spread classified information. and instead, jonathan, of defending her, it might be worth asking her what she is talking about, why she did it. was it appropriate? who cleared her to do it? maybe those are questions that you can ask, instead of asking me why that is concerning. >> one other question which is,
are you more concerned about that or russian interference in the presidential election? >> i think if i'm as an american citizen, i'm very concerned about the fact that people potentially were sharing information about other americans for political purposes and using classified information to do so and leaking it. that should be concerning to everybody. >> russian interference? >> please stop trying to -- >> this is work. >> i guess i don't -- the answer is if someone's interfering with our election, that's not good. i don't think someone revealing and leaking classified information is good either. i'm not sure you should have to choose. you can have outrage and concern for both. i don't think we should have to pick as an american whether or not which freedom we want to have undermined. i think we should expect both of them. and so the idea that we should have to choose whether or not we want someone to interfere with our election or protect our civil liberties isn't one that
we should want or have questioned. alexi alexis? >> i have three follow-ups. you used two phrases. one is politically sensitive information and the other is classified information when you're talking about what the president believes was released. because you said yesterday that you, yourself, had not seen the information and that's why understanding. are those term spwers changeable or are they different in terms of what you know from the podium was released? >> there's a classification level. there is -- there's certain sensitive information on individuals while classified is considered stuff that the government protects. then there's secret, there's top secret and, without getting into it, there's a lot higher. while you may not know a piece of classified information, called pii information sensitive
information according to the government standards. they are different. each has a different classification level. >> but is your understanding, you've been told that the material the president is sharing with the committee includes classified information as well as politically sensitive information. that's your understanding? >> yes. >> all right. second question, you said congressman schiff is coming today? >> i know he is -- he has made contact and is trying to arrange a time. >> can you share with us who will be responsible for escorting him to the proper place, showing him the materials, walking him through it, letting him absorb it? is he bringing staff? >> i don't know the answer. i know they were arranged a time, etc. a lot of it will be -- if he is requesting it. i don't know the nature of it. i know the request was made. that's one that there's follow-up with the staff, staff
level determines all those things. >> materials the president has wanted to share with the house and senate committee, has it already been shared with the fbi, or does the fbi already have the materials? >> i don't know the answer to that. some of it -- i don't know. nsc polled materials from various agencies, so where that all came from. is it a single source? is it a combination of i don't know the answer to that. i can ask. part of it is, there's a question of whether or not we have the ability or the right to release it. again, as much as i appreciate where it came from, i think again, i go back to, does it really matter? does it really matter if it came from the cia or the nsa or another three letter agency? or is the issue, alexis, whether or not, as i said before, whether or not there is a concern about what that information is doing, who used it improperly, what possibly could have happened. again, it's where it came from. >> what i'm asking, the
executive branch, the fbi, have a separate investigation. i'm asking, the president believes he has evidence that is germane to that investigation as broad as director comey has described. >> the fbi's investigation pertains specifically to, from what the director said in open testimony to russia. what the president -- this is not what i believe they are investigating. >> i thought the fbi was also had brought the investigation beyond just the russians. >> i'm not aware of that. you can call the fbi. i'm not gonna call the fbi and ask them what their investigation is. >> i'm asking you a separate question. does the president believe that it is important for the fbi to have the information that he finds to be so aggregiously offensive, politically sensitive information was shared by this previous administration. i'm asking you a simple question. >> you think it's simple.
it depends. where it came from, who can share it. you're acting as though it's a very -- you're acting as though it's a very simple process. it depends on the level of classification, who it came from, whether they have the authority to share it. there's a lot of things that go into this. i know that it sounds easy. it's not. did i know a lot of times that just because kit get leaked out doesn't mean it's being handled appropriately. there is a desire to make sure this is done correctly and within the proper guidance of who has the authority to see the right things. and that all of the procedures are followed. that doesn't mean we just get to pick stuff and send it around to who ever. there's a reason that certain information is handled the way it is. so that we protect the methods and processes that are in accordance with the intelligence committee. john? >> this morning the republican chairman of the house oversight and government reform committee of utah took issue with the
president's tweet. he said he does not believe the russian investigation that's being conducted by the fbi, by the senate intelligence committee, by the house intelligence committee, is a pitch hunt. why does the president believe it's a witch hunt? also said you get your answer to that. also said he doesn't think it's proper for the president to tweet out or comment on on going investigations. can you also touch on that as well? >> well, i think part of this sometimes comes down to who has access to what information and what they're looking at. i don't know what he has seen or not seen or whether it's appropriate. the reason that we asked the house and senate intelligence committee to look into this is to make sure that we get to the bottom of it in an appropriate proper manner. >> commenting on an an going investigation, is that proper by the president? >> what investigation? >> there's an investigation on going by the fbi, on going by the senate intelligence
committee. >> which comment are you referring to? >> witch hunt. >> as i just said to alexis, there's a difference between the investigations that have been discussed about russia that we have been very clear about and a discussion about whether something as devin nunes has said, the information he had with respect to surveillance during the 2016 election cycle had nothing to do with russia. so there's this seeming assumption that what the president's talking about is very clear. there is an on going pattern and more and more revelations that what we have seen is that something potentially was very very bad happening and people were using classified information. not with respect to russia, but to surveil people during that cycle. that is different. there is no, as far as i know, we asked the house and senate intelligence committees to look into this matter. there is no investigation that i'm aware of. >> you take issue with jason
chavis? >> i'll let him speak for himself. i believe chairman nunes and others are probably in a much better position to discuss the situation at hand and understand what's happening. edward marshall from wvbm in chicago. >> actually, it's derek -- chicago receives $12 million a year in law enforcement assistance a year. would president trump cut off that even though it would hamper the police fight against street violence, something the president has said he would help with. >> it's interesting. you talk about street violence and then we cut off the funding for sanctuary cities. it would be interesting to send more money to a city that is allowing people to come into the country who are breaking the law, who in many cases are
committing crimes, members of gangs. so you can't be a sanctuary city and at the same time seem to pretend or express concern about law enforcement or ask for more money when probably a number of the funds you're using in the first place are going to law enforcement to handle the situation that you've created for yourself. i think the president's belief on sanctuary cities is one shared by upwards of 80% of the american people. that we shouldn't be using american tax dollars to fund cities and counties and potentially states that are seeking to allow people who are not legally in this country, who potentially can do us harm, to get funding. and so i think there's no question. it's not a question of what he will do. his intentions have been very clear from the beginning. i think to suggest that somehow they're not linked is a failure to fully appreciate the scenario.
>> if i may follow up. is the president more concerned with deporting illegal immigrants than he is with putting killers in jail? >> if a shooter or killer is here illegally and is in this country, again, i think respectfully you're delinking the two issues. if you have people in this country illegally that are part of a gang, that are part of -- they're a threat to public safety or committing a crime, funding that activity and allowing that to fester is, in itself, a problem. by not rooting that out is letting the problem to continue and not exactly showing an attempt to solve it in the first place. >> let me ask you about the two executive orders that are about to be signed. they have nothing to do with the china trip next week. >> right. >> is it purely coincidence that it's happening now when the president is set to meet with his counter part from china next week? or is it somewhat setting the
table for what might come next week? >> no. i think they are both broad, broad based. counter duties are not targeted at any specifically country. i don't think that you could, you could view that as some kind of indication of any one country. we're given $2.8 billion a year. that's coming in all through our borders, all across. so that one. the other one talks about every form of trade abuse to nonreciprocal practice currently contributing to our deficit. there's a lot of countries that contribute to that. lot of times the trade agreements that we've made in some cases haven't been looked at or revised in a very long time. so for either one of them to suggest that any particular country would be there. >> you said president's intention to withdraw. you have the keystone, others. the second order that's coming talks about -- first one, a
90-day review. the one that's still outstanding is nafta and what the president might do with that. does that move the nafta timeline potentially back 90 days? does he want to see this 90 day review first? >> first thing he wants to do is get robert lighthouser confirmed so we could have someone at the helm of that agency to shepherd the trade agenda. i know peter and secretary ross who were here yesterday and secretary ross and secretary mnuchin and others have been very involved in the trade agenda, but we really need someone at the front of the ship to help guide us through it. that review and others are part of that. major? >> you frequently tell us to take the president's tweets at face value and they speak for himself. when the president says mike flynn should get immunity, is he suggesting to congress to grant him immunity? >> i think his counsel should do what the good for mike flynn. >> they cannot obtain immunity.
it must be granted. is the president recommending granting him immunity? that's the only way it can happen. >> he didn't say congress should grant. what he means is he supports mike flynn's attempts to go up to congress and be very khraoeur with everything that they ask and what they want. >> right. he could have just said testify. he said he should get immunity. it's important. every lawyer who works on this tells you it's extremely important to seek it and then obtain it. there's only one way you can seek it. by being granted either by the fbi or congress. for the president of the united states to even lightly indicate that he is in favor of that it seems to me is a significant development. >> i'm trying to answer the question, which is i think that -- not that i think. i have talked to the president about this. the president is very clear, that he wants mike flynn to go and be completely open and transparent with the committee. whatever it takes to do that, he is supportive of.
>> even immunity? >> i want to be clear. he wants him to do what is necessary to go up there and talk to the committees who have jurisdiction to get this matter behind us. >> he was not trying to suggest to the fbi or justice department that it grant immunity? >> i think he was -- i'm not entirely sure of the process, whether the congress does it or doj or both in this case. i get it. i understand. but the bottom line -- what he is instructing is mike flynn to do everything he can to cooperate with the committee. >> you said senator schiff is coming here. >> i want to be clear. he's communicated that. thank you. okay. >> i just want to read you a part. if we ask the white house to direct the agencies that own the
intelligence documents in question to immediately provide them directly to the committee. >> i think we are looking into that. obviously, we would have hoped that they had come seen these documents. i don't know. i know the counsel's office is in communication with them. the counsel's office is working with them. i don't want to get in front of how they go back and forth and make a decision on that. >> not a legitimate request. >> schiff is making the same thing. >> i don't know. >> one thing the goal would be -- >> again, the white house counsel letter. those are the ones that the individuals have been in contact with. we'd like them to see that information which we think would help them in review of this situation. what i'm telling you is it's not my decision. this is a discussion between both of those committees and the white house counsel's office.
>> i'm just asking the a representative of the president. >> as you're telling me, it's happening in real-time. i don't know the answer 'cause it's happening while we're here. so i don't have an answer for us on that. the white house counsel's office is in communication with the committee and with congressman schiff's office arranged how that would go down. i don't know what further discussions they've had since we've been out here. >> someone said u.s. giving up $220 billion a year in counter intelligence. that applies to a 16 year period. can you clarify the facts on that? >> i'll ask peter that. i'll have to ask peter. >> following alexis' question, you made serious allegations about civil liberty, handling classified information. why wouldn't the white house, if it believes it, was handed over
to the federal agency investigating crimes. >> that's not -- i think -- first of all, i don't know what we will or will not do going forward. what i do know the house and senate intelligence agency committees are both the committees that we, the president has asked on that sunday a few weeks ago, to look into this. that's who was conducting and asked to look into it. i'm not aware anyone else was asking for that information. >> one final one. early in the briefing you said we don't track every president on the 18 acres. >> he asked about whether the chief of staff knew everyone that was on the 18 acres. that's what he asked. >> when it comes to that, do you have any information ab how the chairman did get onto the campus? >> as i said the last two days, we're not gonna discuss it. all of that will happen soon as their lead discussion about a lot of that in the briefing
that's gonna talk about the financial disclosure films immediately at this conclusion. part of that. with that, thank you very much. we're going to get on to the next briefing. thank you very much. >> sandra: all right. that was press secretary sean spicer fielding some tough questions on former national security adviser michael flynn and the russian investigation. hello, everyone, i'm sandra smith. a lot to get to today. that was the white house press briefing. it was a highly anticipated one, because it came amid new details on white house surveillance documents and the possibility that flynn could testify on russia in exchange for immunity. on those white house surveillance documents, you heard sean spicer reiterate the media is worrying about date and process, not substance. he said multiple times this is about the leaks and what we should all be concerned about there. he also commented on nunes visit to the white house was routine and proper. chief white house correspondent john roberts is there live.
you got your question in. what more did we learn from that briefing in the white house today, john roberts? >> reporter: i did, sandra. good afternoon. this is new information that was developed by adam housely out in california. good sources in the intelligence community who are pushing back a little bit on some of the narrative that has been established regarding what the white house role was in all of this, in terms of getting information to chairman nunes. what we know at this point is that intelligence officials are telling us that chairman nunes is aware, the name of the person who participated in unmasking certain individuals and may know the name of the person who ordered the unmasking of certain individuals. we're also told that he has known about this information since back in january. had tried to view it as some of the other intelligence agencies but was being stone walled so he came here to the white house to view it in a secure facility at the executive office building. in terms of the two individuals ho were identified yes,ed and
they have been confirmed to fox news in terms of the person from the nsc who helped develop some of this information, person from the white house counsel's office who used to work with the intelligence committee. they were involved in this. but they, according to intelligence official, are not the source of the information that chairman nunes came across and reported back on the 22nd of march. we asked sean spicer a number of questions about all of that. let's show you one of those exchanges here. >> we're committed to working with the house and senate committees as we said multiple times to get to the bottom of what happened here, who was involved. for this reason, we're in the process of ensuring that the reports that the nsc staff discovered in the normal course of business are made available to those committees investigating to ensure that all of the facts come to light. and if everyone was treating the president, the administration fairly, you'd ask a series of much different questions about the substance than the
material materials. >> sean spicer is focusing on this idea that the press is obsessed with the process and not the substance. we talked ab michael flynn. he has been offered to testify if he is given immu immunity. his attorney saying in this politically charged environment you wouldn't want to testify before committees like that without some sort of protection. though president this morning said he agreed saying he does hope he goes forward with immunity. the press secretary said michael flynn should do whatever it takes to get up there and testify before the commit teus. >> he believes mike flynn should testify. he thinks he should go up there and do what he has to do to get the story out. if you realize what the president's doing. he's saying do whatever you have to do to make it clear what happened, take whatever precaution you want or however your legal counsel advises you.
>> reporter: some people are looking at this request for immunity meaning flynn has something to hide. others are saying it is taking a prudent precaution given the political environment here in washington. sandra? >> sandra: thank you for that. we're gonna pick up with bradley moss, a national security attorney. based on what you just heard, what did you just learn, i should ask you first, bradley, from that white house press briefing regarding michael flynn? >> very much so the idea that we don't know enough to know why there's a discussion of immunity. certainly press secretary spicer was very confident indicating as far as the white house is concerned, they're not worried about anything michael flynn would say. we don't know why there's a public move by general flynn and his private attorney to get i community. is it because he has some big card to play, that he has some damaging info that he wants to use as leverage in a deal to save himself, or is this just smart lawyering by his attorney. >> those are two valid points.
i want to show the response from the white house, from sean spicer n that press briefing when he was asked, is the white house worried about anything phreupb might be coming forward with. listen to the response. >> general flynn's attorney said that his client had a story to tell. is the white house concerned that general flynn has damaging information about the president, his aides or associates about what occurred during the campaign with respect to russia? >> nope. >> sandra: nope. that was about it. >> very confident. as far as they're concerned, they know what general flynn would know and they're not worried about what he might say. >> sandra: i would ask you first, if michael flynn was your client, would you be urging him to ask for immunity? >> absolutely. simply the pro-active manner. putting aside the question of which party is controlling congress. just given the political climate. that would be a piece of leverage i would try to play. come out publicly or privately. different areas where you would try one or the other.
asking for immunity up front, that's something i would generally advise. >> sandra: to your other point about this being skillful lawyering. your boss, national security expert and attorney, he said this. he was talking about this being a favorite tactic of the fbi. this is accuse someone of a false statement because to many law enforcement officers and prosecutors, an inconsistency is interpreted as lying. that is then used as leverage to force an individual to comply in other ways or to be punished for crimes that perhaps cannot be proven. regardless of the validity, so at this early stage i would suggest a request for immunity is more about skillful lawyering than anything else. that said, the trump administration better hope that's all it is. bradley? >> yeah. following on what mark said. think about scooter libby saga from a few years ago with the bush administration which the investigation started about who leaked the identity, classified afill kwraeug of valerie plame.
what ultimately happened, scooter libby for perjury. that was a valid charge to bring, but the original purpose of the investigation changed over time given how statements were made. so if you're general flynn's attorney, you have to be worried about that in terms of these interviews about what your client might say and how he might get tripped up and how that might get viewed by the justice department, if they use that as a means to try to prosecute them not over some improper collusion, not for some other illegal conduct, but simply for providing false and material information to a federal agent. >> sandra: exactly the white house response that we just heard in that room, sean spicer saying the president believes michael flynn should go testify, urging him again, the president is not afraid of flynn's story to tell. there was an editorial in "the washington post" why michael flynn might be seeking immunity. details that his attorney might be hoping that congress not
prosecutors grant him immunity before he tells them anything. what did you make of that? >> even if congress gives him immunity to testify before them, there's limits on how far that would go. you think back to the '80s, colonel north who, despite having gotten immunity to testify before the senate, still was separately prosecuted. there's a purpose and value to having congressional immunity and to disclose the details of what he knows. that's separate from what he could get from the justice department. whether it's a piece of leverage or whether he's trying to do this bit by bit as he testifies, that's something you have to consider going forward. that's a concern he has to have is whether or not congressional immunity would be enough for what he's going to do and say. >> sandra: that's a great point. piece went on to detail, congress can't make flynn immune from prosecution, but lawmakers can make his testimony immune
from being used against him as has famously been done in the past, i, e, ollie north. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> sandra: democrats accusing house intelligence committee chairman devin nunes of getting in the way of the russian investigation. but a "wall street journal" editorial piece said nunes has seen dozens of documents with information on trump officials. and the information is not related to russia. the reports masked identifies but made it obvious which trump officials were being discussed. at least one trump official besides michael flynn was unmasked. these documents were circulated the highest levels of government. and the bottom line is that president obama's team was spying on the incoming administration. a former intelligence officer, mike, this is so much for all of us to take in. we continue to get new details by the hour, it seems. what do you make of the latest revelations on this?
>> well, there was all this surveillance of the trump -- thanks for having me. what we learned with "the washington post" and "new york times" learned was that general michael flynn, the incoming national security adviser, had a conversation with a russian ambassador and that information was leaked. and that information is what we call raw intelligence. it's the highest classified level of single intelligence intercept. what it contains is the cell phone number and the geo location of that phone call. both mike flynn's cell phone and location and the ambassador's location. and that is not supposed to be leaked to the press. as a former intelligence officer, i would go to jail for doing something like that. so that sparked this whole thing. now we learned there were other officials that were reverse targeted. you don't have to have an order in place. you simply go after the foreign entities, already under legitimate orders, you target
them. what you're looking for, any time they talk to a trump member. then those names are unmasked and made widely available to individuals in the intelligence community. and in some cases, leaked. >> sandra: so according to our latest fox news reporting, adam housely disclosed that nunes knew about the existence of the intelligence documents back in january, well before the trump tweet or meeting with the president. he spent weeks trying to find way to see this. but he was stone walled. the only option was to go to the white house. chairman had to figure out a way to view these documents. this was the last option. >> well, this is what's important about these documents. you can can't e-mail them. you can't take copies of them. what happens, when a decision maker or somebody who has a khraoerpbgs asks to see raw intelligence, somebody from the national security agency or somebody with clearance physically walks that information over to that decision maker, shows them the information, he or she. they look at it. they can't take notes. they can't photocopy it.
it's a hard copy. then it's put back in a brief case, taken back to the safe and locked away in a skip. when nunes went to look at this document and intelligence officers with top secret clearance showed it to him in a skip, that was done right. the biggest problem is the intelligence community didn't share that with the head of the house senate commit tisching or the house intelligence committee. >> sandra: what did you make of the reference to dr. evelyn farkus? there were a couple of exchanges in the white house briefing room just then. she said in an interview on another network early march, she told the hill people to get as much information as you can before president obama leaves the administration. because she fears somehow it will disappear. they made reference to that, sean spicer basically said that that was her on the record saying trump's team was spied on. >> more damning that that, in
that news interview on "morning joe" she said if the trump team knew how we got the information, they would try to expose our tactics. she hinted those tactics were illegal surveillance and collection of trump team members using reverse targeting. meaning, again, going after legitimate targets cleared to reverse target trump officials. it's very important that she be subpoenaed and talked to. she left the administration in 2015 to join the hillary clinton campaign. now she's coordinating with obama officials in the nsc post election to discredit the trump administration as they come into power. that's a problem. >> sandra: what you heard from sean spicer just then and you heard it over an over. you just heard it from john roberts. he continues to emphasize the media is worried more about the date and process than the substance. we should all be focusing on the leaks. that's what the american people should be concerned about. >> right.
>> sandra: he continues to say nunes' visit to the white house was routine and proper. how much of this is getting lost in the messaging from the white house? are they being clear about what they know, what they have and what they can reveal to the american public? >> well, this is highly classified, so you can't reveal it to the american public and you can't e-mail it to somebody. but what the american people should know is it's a felony to leak classified information to the press. it's a felony to unmask u.s. persons. and it's a felony to illegally target a political opponent. it's not illegal or a felony to allow the chairman of the house intel committee to talk to somebody in the national security counsel. so one's a felony, one's a check on a visitation log to bring somebody in. >> sandra: so he did say he's going to ensure the documents from the nsc staff will be turned over to intel communities. obviously we're going to have to see how these investigations continue to play out in house and the senate. lot going on.
michael, thanks for sticking around. >> sure. thanks for having me. >> sandra: so much going on. it's friday. it is a busy friday in washington. it's gonna continue with shepard smith in just a minute. thanks for joining us. >> it's noon on the west coast. michael flynn is shopping for an immunity deal. the president says good idea. so what could general flynn reveal? it's talk to chris wallace about it in moments. trump has offered praise for vladimir putin. but moscow is not feeling the love. the kremlin's relationship with the united states may be worse now than even during the cold war. let's get to it. first