tv This Week With George Stephanopoulos ABC December 9, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PST
"this week" with george stephanopoulos starts right now. legal land mines. >> very one-sided situation. >> pressure mounts on the president. the justice department alleging trump directed illegal payments during the 2016 campaign. >> sir, did you direct michael cohen to commit any violations of law? >> the president denying those claims. but do the charges against his former fixer put trump himself at risk? could prosecutors attempt to hold the president criminally liable? plus -- >> there was no collusion whatsoever. there never has been. >> the russia investigation. the special counsel finds evidence russian agents tried to build political synergy with the trump campaign. ties with russia dating back to 2015, as robert mueller prepares his final report, what more will we learn?
about russian outreach to the trump campaign? and what does it say about why so many trump associates have lied to the special counsel. we'll take those questions and more to two key senators. republican marco rubio. and democrat chris murphy. plus, analysis from one of the president's closest allies, chris christie. as well as our own dan abrams. and -- >> john kelly will be leaving. i don't no if i can say retiring. i appreciate his service. >> another white house shakeup. and new picks for attorney general and u.n. ambassador. who will leave the west wing next? and will those nominations clear the senate? o powerhouse "roundtable." good morning. an sunday. after a relatively quiet week to honor the nation's 41st president, the last 48 hours have been anything but. the most recent example came
yesterday, when president trump confirmed that his chief of staff, john kelly, would be leaving the white house at year's end. but the biggest news came through court filings friday from the special counsel and federal prosecutors in new york. the president claims those filings clear him completely. in fact, far from clearing trump, the documents portray potential legal liability that may be far more significant than many had believed. robert mueller's case is beginning to demonstrate a pattern of contacts between russia and trump associates. a series of lies about the extent and nature of the contacts. and a possible financial motive. that sprawling tower trump had long sought in moscow. what the special counsel called a, quote, lucrative business opportunity that sought and likely required the assistance of the russian government. and as if the special counsel's probe were not enough, the president faces an entirely
separate and growing legal threat. federal prosecutors working for the department of justice now claiming that then-candidate trump directed illegal hush money to two women during the 2016 campaign. potentially implicating the president in a federal crime. which already has a top democrat saying it could, if true, be grounds for impeachment. and this morning, we'll connect the dots. and get to the bottom of where things stand in these investigations. let's start with our legal panel. abc news chief legal analyst dan abrams. former fbi special agent and yale law lecturer asha rangappa. and former new jersey governor, former federal prosecutor, and abc news contributor chris christie. dan, let me start with you. a lot of different investigations. a lot of strands here. let's go piece by piece and start with the southern district of new york and its sentencing memo on michael cohen. one of the biggest headlines out
of that report relates to campaign finance violations that came out of the so-called "hush money" payments to stormy daniels and karen mcdougall. they note in the report cohen played a central role in two similar schemes to purchase the rights to the stories. each from women who claimed to have had an affair with individual 1, so as so suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from affecting the election. the president being, quote, individual 1. so the government appears to directly implicate the president in something that is a federal crime. how much of a legal threat does this pose to the president? >> i think this is the biggest legal threat we have seen so far. this is not mueller's team. this is the federal prosecutors, who, in essence, work for donald trump in the southern district of new york who filed this
sentencing memo, which basically says, we think this crime is really serious. we think it was done intentionally to subvert campaign fitness laws. we think it was done intentionally to affect the election at the coordination, with coordination from and at the direction of donald trump. it is the first time where i have seen something in connection with this investigation where i have said to myself, you know what? i think they might actually seek to indict donald trump here. that doesn't mean they would seek to try him. but indict him. by implicating him so much this way, and in effect, by name, these prosecutors are making clear, we think this crime is serious and we think he's involved. >> governor christie, if you were still a u.s. attorney, would you indict the president? >> well, first off, it's justice department policy that says you can't indict a president. so, you know, my guess is that i
wouldn't. i would follow justice department policy. now, i agree with dan that, the language in the sentencing memo is different than what we have heard before. we have heard before from michael cohen that he did this in coordination with the president. the only thing that would concern me if i was the president's team this morning is the language. the language sounds very definite. what i would be concerned about is what corroboration do they have? because everyone knows that michael cohen is not going to be the most effective or trustworthy witness on the stand, given some of his past statements. question is, they sounded very definitive. in my experience, the problem is, when prosecutors are that definitive, they have more than usually just one witness. the flipside for the prosecutors is, they better have more than one witness on this. because if you're shooting at the president of the united states and the only bullet in your gun is michael cohen, then i think that is a problem.
i note the same thing dan did. i have always said that the michael cohen situation was much more perilous for the white house than was bob mueller. there is no russian collusion. there's been no proof of russian collusion. and there doesn't appear to be, i don't think there will be. this is the stuff that's much more -- should be much more concerning to the white house legal team. and that language is very, very strong. very definitive. the prosecutors better have corroboration. if they don't and they're just going with michael cohen, that's a problem. but if they do have corroboration, that could be a problem for the white house. >> and asha, do you agree? felony convictions in campaign finance are not all that common. so what do you think new york prosecutors do now? >> that's right. i do agree with the governor that the prosecutors would need to show that the president acted knowingly and willingly to
commit a criminal violation. here, with regard to the witnesses. let's remember that the trump organization ceo. alan weisselberg, has been talking to prosecutors. i know rudy giuliani is comparing this to the john edwards case. there are differences here. there with witnesses available to corroborate things like the reimbursement made to michael cohen. the purpose they were done. why they were concealed. and you have a tighter, a more direct timing issue here in the sense that these payments were made almost right before the election. and ten years after the affair actually took place. which tends to substantiate that this was done for the purpose of affecting the election. i believe the prosecutors would have a strong case if they decided to pursue it. >> i think we all take for granted too much this idea that they definitely can't indict a sitting president. there's a difference between an indictment and a criminal trial.
if you actually read the most recent assessment from the office of legal counsel, they seem to be saying you can't indict and prosecute a sitting president. yes, they talk about the idea of an indictment. but i don't think that's completely off the table, particularly when you read this document. >> governor christie, i want you to jump in. >> i disagree with dan on this in this respect. what is your end here? if i were a u.s. attorney making this judgment, they say, you can indict the president, chris, but you can't try him. you do that if someone is outside your jurisdiction in a foreign country. et cetera. but when row have no other way to go. >> statute of limitations problem here. the potential of five-year statute of limitations. if the president were to then continue for a second term, it would expire. >> here's the issue, though. you have an alternative venue. the alternative venue is the house of representatives. if the house of representatives believes this is a high crime and misdemeanor as defined by
the constitution, the house can bring articles of impeachment. which are the equivalent of an indictment. i argue that that is the way to do this. one other thing i want to point out about willfulness and intent. you know, i think what you'll hear the president argue is that he -- this is the first time that these women, at this juncture, threatened to go public about these alleged affairs. and that he wanted to be kept quiet to avoid the embarrassment for himself and for his family. there is no evidence at this point, that we know of, that they had threatened to go public any time before. >> but they had gone public before. stormy daniels told her story to two magazines and a blog. and she took a polygraph for them. so this has been out there, as far back as 2011. so i think that that argument. i agree with the governor that that's the argument that will be made. but i think that it will be a very hard one to make.
i think it will be hard for the president to argue that he's trying to protect his family and business when he's made it part of his brand, really, to be a womanizer who has affairs and leaves previous wives very publicly. this doesn't seem like something he's otherwise tried to keep secret. >> i don't think that's part of the brand. and i don't think that's what you hear the president or anyone around him argue. in the end, you know, the willfulness and intent portion will be the hardest thing to prove. that's why, martha, as you rightly said, you don't see a lot of felony prosecutions brought on campaign finance violations. because that's a pretty high hurdle t inatn. hto to at there's so much to turn to. collusion. we have been talking about collusion for many, many, many months. we have from robert mueller evidence of a series of contacts
between individuals in trump's orbit and the russians dating back to the early days of the campaign. those are contacts, not collusion. what more would the special counsel have to show to have collusion, dan? >> well, you still need a crime here, right? i mean, you're allowed to have conversations with russians. there's no crime against having conversations with russians. no crime against having conversations with russians about building a huge tower with donald trump's name on it. the question becomes, why did the trump team want to push back the date from june of the conversations about the trump tower back to january? what additional contacts were happening between january and june? and when you read the sentencing memo this one from mueller, specifically says that he's providing information that goes to the core of the russia investigation. the core of the russia investigation.
so, that means we're not just talking about conversations with russians. again, doesn't necessarily mean they'll find that there was a crime here. but i would be very nervous if you're in the trump orbit with that kind of language coming out of the sentencing. >> i would be less so. for this reason. you saw how definitive the southern district of new york was. and it's stark that mueller was not nearly that definitive. now, that can mean one of two things. he's not ready to be definitive yet. he doesn't have enough evidence. but this has been going on for 18 months. and he had cooperation from manafort and cohen for some time. now, he may be making a strategic decision not to lay that card out right now. if i were the trump legal team, i would be focused on the things talked about in the cohen sentencing memorandum. and not the mueller sentencing memorandum because it's not as specific or definitive. >> this is why it's very
difficult when people lie to you and you're a prosecutor. it delays the investigation. the fact that manafort was quote/unquote cooperating doesn't really help here. he was lying to them the whole time. i want to disagree with my colleagues. i don't know that there has to be a crime. this is a counterintelligence investigation. that means that collusion can involve agreeing to, they would be still conspiracy to defraud the united states. but trying to help your foreign adversary execute an intelligence operation against the united states is problematic from a constitutional point of view. >> but where's the evidence of that? i mean there's no evidence. >> because mueller -- the sentencing memos show there were contacts with russia going back to 2015. that means that with overtures to make a meeting with president trump -- then-candidate trump and putin. that expands the timeline. that means there was a self-interested motive. whether it was for the trump tower, the moscow tower. >> but whether makes a difference.
depending on which one, it's crime versus not crime. >> this is where -- >> governor christie, let me ask you this. if manafort's conversations were all legal, why would he lie about them? is that suggestive of a coverup? >> well, because paul manafort is a consistent liar. and he has been. he's been proven so by bob mueller and others. so the fact that paul manafort is trying to spare himself time in prison is no great shock. i will tell you, as a former u.s. attorney, the kind of conversation we just had, is why you have a u.s. attorney. agents -- fbi agents do an amazing job. they work incredibly hard. they get incredibly invested in their cases. the job of the u.s. attorney or in this case, special counsel mueller, will say, okay, what can we prove beyond a reasonable doubt? on russian collusion we have not seen anything other than there were contacts.
as dan said earlier, if those contacts are about building an office building in moscow and giving the penthouse to vladimir putin, people may not like that. but it's not a crime. >> we haven't seen the key phrase here. there's a lot redacted. a lot of what we're seeing has big, big black marks over sentences. there's a reason for that. because robert mueller is not ready to disclose what he has. it doesn't mean he doesn't have it. it means he's not ready to discuss it yet publicly. i think that is a critical factor. >> governor christie, one quick question for you to close on. that is the president tweeting that he's totally clear. you disagree with that, i suspect? >> my view would be that you're not totally clear. nor is anyone. until bob mueller shuts down his office and hands in the keys. special counsels can go on for a very long time. this one has. i mean, for goodness sakes. the guy the president just nominated to be u.s. attorney
general appointed a special counsel in 1992 in the middle of the bush re-election campaign that went on for three more years and found no crimes committed by the bush administration. so these things have a life of their own, martha. so i would say to everybody what i said to the president from the beginning. there is no way you can make it shorter. there's lots of ways to make it longer. one of the ways to do that is to say you're in the clear when the prosecutor still has subpoena authority, the ability to indict people, and the ability to keep the investigation going. until bob mueller shuts down, hands the keys and his credentials back in, he's not in the clear. >> there's nothing to support that. >> he's directly implicated. >> on that note, we'll end it. thank you governor christie. thank you, saha. thank you, dan. coming up, much more on the ties between the trump campaign and russia. we'll check in with a republican and a democrat on the senate foreign relations committee about how they plan to
respond to the latest bombshell developments. do they agree with house democrat jerry nadler that there is potentially enough evidence to lay the ground for impeachment? senator marco rubio and senator chris murphy are next. rubio and senator chris murphy are next. in whatever way is right for you. get pre-qualified before you ever come to the store. need some time? they'll hold a car for you for seven days with no obligation to buy. you also have access to the entire nationwide inventory. if you find the perfect car someplace else, they'll ship it to your local store. the point is, it's flexible. and that's what you want when you're buying a car. hi. word of advice: don't ever do this. ♪ traders -- they're always looking for advantages. the smart ones look to fidelity to find them. we give you research and data-visualization tools
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did you or anyone in your campaign have any contact with russia leading up to or during the campaign? nothing at all? >> no. not at all. >> that was president trump nearly two years ago before special counsel robert mueller had shown evidence of a pattern of contact between trump associates and russians during the campaign. joining me now to discuss this is republican marco rubio, a key member of the senate intelligence committee. senator rubio, you heard the president there, january 2017, deny anyone in his campaign has contacts with russia during the 2016 campaign. but that's not true, is it? >> well, according to what we saw this week filed, no. there is an inconsistency there. that doesn't necessarily mean that -- you know, people here in this country have a presumption that you have to prove these things. that said, i always wanted the truth. that's what i've said from the very beginning. what we want for the country is all the facts and all the truth.
i have always supported the mueller investigation. i continue to do so. i think it's in the best interests for everyone involved, including, by the way, the president on many of these issues. i think it's important that this go forward. once the american people have before them all the facts and information, then we begin to make political judgments about this. the same is true from the intelligence probe. i'm proud of the work the committee has done. it's not been partisan. some of the things we have seen that have been released have caused the committee to go back and reattempt to reinterview some people. and we're going to continue to do our work. so, at some point here soon, the american people will have before them the report of the intelligence committee, the special prosecutor's work. and then we can begin to make some judgments about what needs to happen next. >> but, senator, let's just go back to what happened this week. just to be clear. we know that at least five people in trump's orbit were receptive to russian outreach.
and those are michael cohen, paul manafort, donald trump jr., michael flynn, george papadopoulos. is it possible to say that's coincidence? >> people have a right to say that's what happened. especially when facing criminal charges. that doesn't make it true. it doesn't make it untrue either. there's no way to spin this. this is not a positive development for the people that are involved in this. i just think, and we have learned over time, it's important for all of this to be out there for us, within full context before we begin to make political judgments. i'll tell you when all that information is out there, no one is more important than our country. no one is held above the law. everyone should also benefit from the presumptions the law has. but from a separate topic, the political judgment we want to make, that has a different standard to it. my position will be based upon the evidence and the information before the american people. and us, on the intelligence committee through the filings. until that happens, it's
important that we not ignore these things, but reserve judgment before we have all of it before us. it may make you feel stronger. we deserve the full truth. >> to the trump tweeted that these filings show he was totally cleared. do you believe that? >> well, that, obviously is the argument that the president will make and those around him. he feels strongly about it. it's about him. i think the rest of us, especially those of us in congress in the positions we're in, will have to make our own determinations. we'll have to make our own determinations on the basis of the information before us. right now, we're getting bits and pieces. i would concede that we have more bits and pieces than we did a couple of weeks ago. before i'm prepared to make a public pronouncement that i'm
ready to make a judgment, i would like to have all the information before us. i would like to finish our work on the senate intelligence committee. i know the work you have and the work you need to do in terms of asking tough question. but we're called upon to make judgments. we need more information. >> i want to talk more about the southern district campaign finance violations that they found. the president had this to say when asked about it yesterday whether or not he gave michael cohen any direction. >> sir, did you direct michael cohen to commit any violations of law? >> no, no, no. >> i know you talk about bits and pieces. this is a pretty big piece. so who do you believe, senator? the president or the justice department? >> i don't know. either do you or anyone else. >> frechb what you have already read. the justice department clearly says it. >> i'm not questioning the work they have done. they have someone that testified to that fact. the president is saying that that's not true. we don't know what other investigation the justice
department has to corroborate it or that they don't have to corroborate it. again. i think it's important for the information to be out here. i won't sit here and say it didn't happen. it's possible that the justice department has additional corroborating evidence. it's also possible they don't. and now you have the testimony of a witness who is facing criminal charges and looking for leniency versus someone who said it occurred the way they said. it's important for us to have the full context of the information before us before we can make final judgments on these issues. we don't know what additional information the justice department has to corroborate these charges or not. >> let's move to paul manafort. just last week, trump refused to take a pardon for manafort off the table after rudy giuliani said he talked to manafort's lawyers. would that be a redline for you? >> i think it would be a
terrible mistake. pardons should be used judiciously. cases with extraordinary circumstances. i haven't heard that the white house is thinking about it. i know he hasn't ruled it out. i would advise strongly against it. it would be a terrible mistake, i think. i would not support it. i would be critical of it. i don't believe any pardon should be used in relation to these particular cases. not only does it not pass the smell test, i think it undermines the reason we have presidential pardons in the first place. if something like that would happen, it could trigger a debate about whether the pardon powers should be amended given these circumstances. i hope they don't do that. >> thank you very much for joining us, senator rubio. >> thank you. up next, how do democrats plan to respond to the latest filings by the special counsel and federal prosecutors? we'll talk to one senator who may also be planning 2020 presidential bid. next.
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different question. though they were committed before the president became president, they were committed in -- in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office. >> congressman jerrold nadler the incoming chair of the house judiciary committee putting impeachment on the table if it's proven true that then-candidate trump directed illegal hush money to two women during the 2016 campaign. as prosecutors now allege. joining me now is chris murphy, democratic senator. welcome, senator murphy. do you agree with jerrold nadler? >> i'm not going to give the house advice. on whether or not to proceed with impeachment. it's important to get the full report from the special investigator. let's be clear. we have reached a new level in the investigation. the special counsel is starting to show his cards. and these are very serious allegations. this is a president named as a co-conspirator. allegations he committed at least two felonies to try to manipulate the 2016 election.
but marco rubio is not wrong that it's important for congress to know all of the facts. to see the evidence that mueller has that leads him to make the filings. >> you heard what jerrold nadler said, though. is it, from what you have seen, an impeachable offense? he doesn't necessarily say the committee should take it up. >> i think you are beyond the stage that led to impeachment proceedings against president clinton, whether or not you think that was worthy of impeachment or not. i still think it's important for congress to get all of the underlying fact and data and evidence that the special counsel has before we make that determination. >> so before mueller comes out completely nothing should be done? >> i think we should wait for mueller's investigation. but i would also counsel the special investigator to show his
cards soon. it's important for the special investigator to give congress what he has sometime early in 2018 so congress can make a determination. if the president did, in fact, collude with the russians to try to manipulate the election. or engage in multiple felonies with michael cohen, it doesn't make sense to get that report in 2020. we need that next year. we need that as soon as possible. >> you have also raised concerns that we need to have legislation to protect the special counsel. would you consider holding up passage of a current bill to pass a bill to protect mueller? are you worried about that? or have we reached a tipping point? >> i'm still very worried about it. i will look at all the options to protect the special counsel. i'm worried about general kelly leaving the white house. i imagine that he was one of the people attempting to convince the president to not fire
mueller and to not issue pardons as a means of influencing the inve gags. investigation. i think with his departure, the pentagon, who replaces him there are concerns that mueller may be on the chopping block become more serious. >> to sum up what you're seeing this week from mueller and the southern district of new york, have we moved into a new phase here? should the president be more concerned than ever? >> we have certainly moved into a new phase. the president stepped into the territory that ultimately led to president nixon resigning the office. he was an unindicted co-conspirator with a different set of facts. this investigation is now starting to put the president in serious legal cross hairs. and he should be worried. and the whole country should be worried. nobody is rooting for the president to go down in this manner. it is not good for democracy. but this investigation may, ultimately, lead to congress taking action. considering a run president
in 2020 because you were focusei we're obviously past that. i doubt you want to make an announcement on the air this morning. are you ruling it out? >> listen, i just got re-elected. i don't frankly think that i need to run for president to make a difference for my state or the country. i'll say this. in 2020, we need a candidate who is 100% authentic. who is tough. and who can challenge this president on both domestic policy and on foreign policy. i'm simply going to make sure that we have a candidate that fits that bill. >> we have a lot of names out there. cory booker, joe biden, bernie sanders, elizabeth warren. to name a few. you told "the washington post" recently, we're not going to break through unless we find a candidate that just sort of oozes outsider. do any of those people named
ooze outsider? >> what i think is great is you'll have a big field. i think in that contest, the best candidate will emerge. i think the democratic electorate will have one thing in mind. who can beat donald trump? there's a lot of models that will work. >> thank you for joining us. "the roundtable" is up next. we'll be right back.
news contributor, alex castellanos. abc news senior national correspondent terry moran. shawna thomas. washington bureau chief for vice news. and julie pace, washington bureau chief for the associated press. and terry so much news crammed into this week. it seemed so long ago that you and i were on this set talking about the passing of president george h.w. bush. but friday, everything returned back to normal in that way. the mueller investigation is front and center. and "the new york post" called it a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the president. some of the sub headlines about michael cohen. trump's spat with former secretary of state rex tillerson. the stock market slide. fair to call it a very bad day for president trump on friday? >> a bad day. darkig. what he's doing is clelyg fobale wi ahief of staff anew attitude. this is really going to be a fight to the finish.
not just for the survival of the presidency but for the people who voted for president trump. thought he was the right direction for the nation. and the country itself. and the democrats are on the other side. the stakes in the legal fight as it enters the political sphere. as he already is planning his re-election battle, are going to be as high as they can be. if you think the last couple of years have been terribly divisive and bad for the united states of america, stay tuned. >> it's distracting. i mean, how does he do his job? i was backstage thinking, oh, wait, he was in argentina at the g20 a week ago, right? >> it's warp speed. all the time. >> interesting news about china and trade. interesting news about nafta at that point. none of that matters. i don't know how you do any work if you're the president of the united states in the situation that he's in. >> let's go to one of the things you mentioned. and the market slide. is that about trump's week? what is that about? >> i mean, i'm not an economist i will say that. i think a lot of it is uncertainty. we have seen this over and over
again. we have also seen that until we know exactly what is going on with china, you had soybean prices drop for farmers out in america. i think people just don't know what -- >> tariff ban? not tariff ban? >> yeah. do we have a deal with china? do we not have a deal with china? it's market uncertainty. until they figure out a way to know what the president is going to do, which is almost impossible to ever know, volatility. >> if market uncertainty becomes economic uncertainty that becomes a problem for the president. so much of what we have seen over his presidency is that despite the chaos. despite all of the controversies, he's been held up by a strong american economy. and the thing that makes his advisers, and the president himself the most nervous, is that that starts to crumble. because that essentially is his argument. you might not like the tweets, you might not like anything unless, but look at the economy. >> when you talk to voters, they talk about that. we'll forgive all that other
stuff as long as the economy stays strong. alex, i want to talk to you about rex tillerson. i want you to take a listen. oh, okay. okay. we don't have that sound. but one of the things rex tillerson said was it was challenging for him coming from a disciplined, highly process-oriented exxonmobil corporation and to go to work for a man who is pretty undisciplined. he also said he had to explain to the president what was illegal and not illegal. president trump coming back with mike pompeo is doing a great job. i'm proud of him. his predecessor rex tillerson didn't have the mental capacity needed. he was dumb as a rock. and i couldn't get rid of him fast enough. he was lazy as hell. now is a whole new ball game. great spirit at state. dumb as a rock? >> that's one of the nicest things the president has said about someone exiting. i think as shawna said, it's the uncertainty. donald trump came as an outsider.
he was sent here to be a disruptive force. an establishment figure like tillerson who wants to play things by the rules is not going to get along well with the president. that is the president's great strength. he's the madman negotiating theory. right? your adversaries and competitors don't know how to deal with this man. >> tillerson got under his skin. he's the man he nominated for secretary of state. he's his secretary of state. he was the secretary of state. >> yesterday's not today's. the real serious issue is that that same under certainty -- he doesn't play by the rules. that made tillerson the wrong fit. that is what is endangering the economy right now. that is this recovery is long in the tooth. we have seen signs that the whole bubble may be getting ready to pop. if it does, the president's strength, which is unchangeable, that uncertainty and disruption that he brings to everything, may become his greatest weakness with swing voters. >> i do think the tillerson comments, things happen in this
administration at warm speed. that is an extraordinary stemt say the president didn't read, didn't know what was going on, he didn't know what was legal. >> i'm also remembering that it was reported that rex tillerson called the president a moron. >> as someone by his side seeing the day-to-day dealings, that's an extraordinary assessment. >> let's turn to john kelly. finally, after months and months and months of reporting, john kelly is leaving. >> the reporting is now right. >> the reporting is now correct. not fake news there. there's a part of me that thinks maybe john kelly wasn't the right fit at this point. >> yeah. we're about to switch into political hard core mode. like terry was saying. and so, because of that, perhaps a more political operator like a nick ayers is maybe a better fit. even with the issues nick might have. i think the interesting thing about tillerson and the changes we're seeing in the
administration right now is that tillerson was not necessarily trump's idea of who you want on tv representing him. like, this is also the media world of trump. whereas nick ayers looks the part of chief of staff, even though he's young for this job. heather nauert, probably going to be nominated as secretary of state -- i'm sorry, not secretary of state, u.n. ambassador. totally different. also looks the part. and in some ways -- >> what is the part for a u.n. ambassador? how do you look the part? >> i think she can go on tv and she can represent the president in a way that he wants to be represented. in the way he is used to.she us. in some ways, whoever can make the tv show of the trump administration the way he sees it in his head, those are the people he's choosing right now. >> there are a couple of things. it's true that presidents, excuse me, can operate in all kinds of different ways. some are punctual.
some an hour and half late.e ar kindly. and some who are bullies. as long as they can get the machine to work for them, that's what matters. and president trump had a particular problem. he came into office not as a republican, but a nationalist. as an economic nationalist and a cultural nationalist. staffing up an administration with a party that never existed before he ran. he's looking for people to advocate for him. who will be his guy. >> including, he named a new chairman of the joint chiefs of staff nine months before he needed to do that. what does that tell you? and also a new attorney general, william barr. what do you make of it? >> prepare for turnover in a political year. i think the barr choice is a good one. he has picked some establishment choices here, which is rare for trump. most of his choices are disruptive. gee, they don't have the trump is running against the very experience that his voters
think has ruined the country. so, these outsider choices. i mean, "the washington post" said hen nauert was first appointed at state, she had no qualification other than looking like heather locklear. would anybody have said that about a democratic appointee. >> she's been in the state department for almost two years. she also worked for rex tillerson. so she does have some experience. >> the key thing about donald trump is he was elected to disrupt and change the country. we're seeing it in his appointments. rare is the one like bill barr that has establishment support. >> and just on the military again. why nine months early on a military appointment? >> i have no idea. >> julie?s a great question. it's a bit of a mystery about why -- we don't know what this means about dunford. if he'll leave early. or if this transition is going to take nine months. >> go back to the mueller probe quickly. and the southern district of new york. which we have been talking about all morning. how much does this damage donald
trump going forward? >> i think politically, i'm not sure, frankly. because we have seen, up until this point, republicans largely stand with him, as we get revelations in the sdny probe relating to payments to women and in the mueller probe. i thought it was interesting in your interview with senator rubio where he noted that a pardon for paul manafort would essentially cross a line there. we'll have to watch and see if there is movement. if they do start to get nervous about the revelations from mueller. certainly the revelations from sdny. which i think are incredibly significant and certainly what trump might do with relation to a pardon. >> martha, how much will this damage donald trump? none. you can't fall off the floor. >> back to the economy. >> all trump has is his base right now. they're sticking with him no matter what. and a republican would look at -- >> and they'll say he's totally fine? >> no, i think they would say, mueller has an empty holster.
usually you get the little guy to flip on the big guy for the same thing. you get the little guy to take the hit. hey, you tell us about the bigger guy and we'll let you go. well, there's no little guy charged with collusion yet. so republican would say, mueller has an empty holster on the big issue he was set to get trump on. >> one second. terry, return to where we started. which was the memorial. for george h.w. bush. such a powerful tribute. there was that one moment i think you all probably watched when president trump came in, went down that row. hillary clinton barely looking at melania trump. looking -- greeting her. but not ever looking at donald trump. it was hard to ignore the tensions there. what would your observation be? >> my representation was the tableau of american history that was represented there.
each one of those men were put there in that row by the american people operating through the constitution. that's our history. he doesn't like them? tough. they don't like him? tough. we make a big deal out of the bad blood between this president and that president. i think one of the facts the democrats have had trouble coming to terms with is maybe one of the most undercovered stories in america. that donald trump is the 45th president of the united states of america. >> just a last word, shawna. ten seconds. >> i read an article. it says that tableau is a message about we have peaceful turnover of power in this country. and we can talk about whether president trump, his role in this. h.w.lled a church together and worship. >> they did indeed. thank you so much for joining to george 21-plane salute over s presidential library. the final resting place for the
former naval aviator. a series of four plane formations roared overhead with the final foursome executing the so-called missing man formation. we spoke to three of the navy pilots who carried out the mgs about what it meant to them. >> it's a very, very large steel ballet. >> once you're flying, the jet becomes an extension of your body. >> the missing man formation is symbolic of a squadron mate. an air wing mate. or somebody in the navy. in this instance, president bush, having left us permanently. it's a flight of four. and the third aircraft in the formation will pull to the sky, symbolic of his departure to the heavens. it's quite dramatic as he disappeared into the clouds. but in terms of a 21-plane flyover, presidential salute, none of us had ever done that.
the navy had never done that either. >> i pray that your presence will be -- >> i don't think i got nervous until i got in the airplane. because it was such a hectic quick 96 hours trying to pull everything today. >> i had actually looked at what the weather forecast was supposed to be on thursday. at first, my heart sunk a little bit because i was afraid we wouldn't be able to execute the flyover. ♪ glory hallelujah >> we had rain and mist and really low clouds. typically, on a day like that, we probably wouldn't be flying. once i turned the battery switch on, fired off the auxiliary power units. that nervousness went away. and it was just -- frankly, business as usual. with the one huge, overarching piece, that we were doing this for president bush. i saw the library. i tried to take a peek for the family as i passed over.
it happened pretty quick. >> when i saw the jet pull up and disappear into the clouds, it was kind of like the weight off your shoulders. okay, guys, we did it. we did it right. >> you take the minute. think about what you just did. and that's when it first starts soaking in. where it changes from anticipation to almost gratitude for having the opportunity to be part of the overall event. >> just a beautiful tribute. that's all for us today. thank you for sharing part of your sunday with us. check out "world news tonight." and have a great day.
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