tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC March 1, 2017 8:00pm-8:31pm PST
the politics coming out of washington, which have been dominated by this very subject. so our thanks for all and on the other side of this brief interruption, we will broadcast broadcast of the 11th hour. . >> tonight, trouble with russia. two major newspapers, two breaking stories on donald trump's campaign and its contacted with russia and amid calls for vision, one report calling for the resignation of jeff sessions. how will donald trump respond and the 111th hour begins now. >> good evening, once again from our headquarters in new york. same studio. in fact, day number 40 of the
trump presidency began with the white house trying to keep the focus on the president's agenda laid out in his joint session to congress last night. and for 22 hours after the speech, that narrative held. about the president's solid reviews about his speech that is, until two stories re-ignited questions about the trump white house and russia. as we've covered these last two hours, the new york times was the first to publish tonight with the headline "obama administration pushed to preserve intelligence of russia election hacking." quoting in the story. in the obama administration's last days some white house officials scrambled to express information to undermine the presidential election and about possible contacts between soeshlgtsz of. are don't jvrmt trump and the russians. they had two aims.
to make sure it isn't duplicated necessity lexes and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators. that headline was followed moments later by another one. this time from the washington post as we told you. sessions met with russian envoy twice last year and counters he -- encounters he did not disclose. he did not disdisclose contacts between members of president trump's campaigned and representatives of moscow during session's confirmation hearing to become attorney general. here is the moment from his confirmation hearing on january 10. >> if there is any evidence that any one of affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those
activities. . i have been called a surrogate and i did not have communications with the russians and i'm unable to comment on it. >> a statement was released by the
attorney general's spokes woman tonight seeking to clarify histestimony. "there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer. last year the senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors. as a senior member of the armed services committee, including the british, crane, japanese, polish, indian, chinese, canadien, straib, german and russian ambassadors. he was asked during the hearing about communications between russia and 2 trump campaign, not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the armed services committee." just in the last half-hour, a third headline tonight this time from the wall street journal. the paper reporting that federal investigators are looking into
possible contacts between sessions and russian officials. the journal also tells us the outcome of the investigation and whether it is ongoing. it is not clear the white house directive request for comment to the justice department senator lindsay graham, a friend of jeff sessions had this to say about tonight's news. >> if there is something there and it goes up the chain of investigation, it is clear to me that jeff sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about trump. so there may be nothing there but if there is something there, the fbi believes is criminal in name, then for sure, you need a special prosecutor. >> for those following at home we have two newspaper articles dropping tonight on the same subgrew up in this one story. meanwhile, the top democrat on the house intelligence committee, congressman adam schiff of k5e68, said in a statement of his observe: "if
reports are accurate, it is essential that he recuse himself -- "talking about sessions. "from any role. this is not even a close call. it is a must. at long last. this brings us to our panel tonight. katy turr who has covered donald trump from the start of the campaign, political senior foreign affairs correspondent michael crowley. we had to move a large population of people and bring in another population. there was far too much noise and confusion at the top of our blauft and i'm sorry if it was a distraction. it sure was to me. michael is the sole remote this evening. so perhaps we should start with him. michael -- >> thanks. >> how much there is there when you look at these three stories that have dropped tonight? >> brian, you know, throughout
all the stories you've been seeing -- it's almost a ritual now if you're a reporter in washington about twice a week maybe you're startled out of whatever you're doing, having dinner, by having some big new disclosures about these russian investigations. there remains a little bit opaque. so we are seeing reports that there is intelligence showing contacts between trump associates and frump officials. we don't know and this aflies to tonight's stories exactly the nature of the conversations, who the russians were, what kind of -- whether they were actually russian government employees or they operate in kind of a gray zone where they might be business people with ties to russian intelligence, but the real there i'm seeing in these stories applies to jeff sessions and the answers he gave about his contacts with the russian ambassador. that is not opaque. it is quite clear that jeff
sessions gave answers that i think could be charitably intercepted as not totally presenting the truth. as not totally factual, as not totally candid. sessions' office seems to be arguing that they're baparsing this a little bit and making a distinction. that's not going to sacrifice fly. that's the there tonight brian is what did jeff sessions say about these conversations whose substance we still did don't know about and we still don't know about the substance of these other contacts. >> katy tourek may come down to that. he had meetings with all kinds of folks all kinds of times with this defense. >> no. we heard him say he had no
contact with the russians. if he felt that having contact as -- in his role as a senator on the armed services committee warranted a contact with a number of ambassadors including the russian ambassador, that's an easy thing to say and defend in that seat. it's not so easy to defend weeks later after you have been confirmed and after this cloud of suspicion is still hanging over this administration to have yet another person involved in it have contacts that they did not disclose. >> how did al franken know to ask? >> you know, that is a good question. i think we can point to that new york times article. i'm not so sure we know how to ask that question. but that is a valid question of literally anybody come in to serve in the trump administration. did you have contacts in russia. anybody in the trump orbit at this point, that is a valid question because we keep finding more and more people come out
and say yes i can but i don't remember what i said and i think it was totally fine in my role and i don't believe there was anything wrong done. but why not be honest about it? >> al franken didn't ask him if you had contact. he asked what would do you if someone in the campaign did. i don't know why jeff segs chose to answer it that way. i think people at home would say that michael flynn might have had valid reasons to talk to the rigs. jeff sessions may have had reason. what's with the coverup? that's what becomes the thing that -- the coverup is always the case -- i covered business for 25 years. it's always the case that the coverups worse than the crime. the crime of jeff sessions knowing a social raerk ambassador, i don't know that a lot of people would have a big problem with that ychlt did he say what he said to al franken. >> i don't mean to express
astonishment that there's gambling going on but tonight's combined output of the newspaper industries presents an even more hyper partisan pib. it presents a picture of the waning days of the obama administration -- more that that, those people with security clearance and are thus kind of bound to treat it right and it also shows an assumption across the city that none of these investigations are going to get their full airing, because the republicans won the white house and both houses of congress. the new york times story chronicles the way the obama officials tried to get the analysis left quickly before they left and spread out this information, in effect creating
a paper trail around town so that this story couldn't be buried by the incoming administration. i have little doubt that tomorrow morning donald trump and or his surrogates are going to be portraying this as the obama administration out to get him, the fake media making up more stories. another way to intercept this is the people who will saw the intelligence come in at the end of 2016 were really rattled by it and said there is really something here and they were alarmed and felt like they had to take action. it would be totally consistent with saying there appears to be russian influence over this election and the beneficiaries of it are going to come in and have conol of this information and we have to make sure that they don't bury it under the ground. i expect -- i would bet you five bucks that tomorrow morning we get a donald trump tweet storm about the fake media and the
obama intelligence people behind the scenes out to get him and i expect that's how it's going to play out in the morning but maybe not over the long time. >> last night we saw the president's televised sfeech. by bun reading the reviews were better than the white house even expected. >> uh-huh. >> there was guidance out there to expect a new travel ban executive action today. that was pulled back because they chose to do something very traditional as far as white house communication 1407s. live in the moment, take the reaction out for a spin. >> that is another thing. that executive order they touted as being so need to protect american lives, they needed to do it immediately and how dare the judicial system come in and 24r50i to put a hold on it, the president can't have oversight of americans of national security, this had to be done now and all of a sudden it can wait a day?
he wanted to basque in the glory of his speech. so -- >> she's being very cynical. >> i was listening with one ear while checking to see that donald trump hasn't tweeted for 14 hours. his last tweet yaz "thank you." that's all he sid. >> yes, that's right. >> which sort of carried the theme from last night. some people have criticized ir9 as being a low bar. he did deliver a state of the union type address to which we are accustomed largely and everybody behaved themselves. this is going to be a trying moment in the white house to see whether they can take all of the stuff you've just digested for our audience and see whether we can come up with a response that says the response by jeff session toss al franken was a little unusual. what's actually behind this? >> so far the white house does not appear to be coming up with that response. the white house from somebody i spoke with a few minutes ago is
saying i'm not sure what the big deal is here. he's a senator. he's going to speak to barfs. ask automatic the other senators if they spoke to the russian ambassador. the new york times -- excuse me -- the washington post did do that. they reached out to all 26 members of the armed services committee. got 20 responses, including one from john mccain saying no, i did not speak to the russian ambassador and they're still waiting on six others. we're going to find out how the white house actually tackles this. i think mooicthis -- yesterday very much like what they did at the end of the campaign when donald trump got scared about losing. steve bannon and team were able to get him on teleprompter by saying you are going to lose this unless you stay on message. he stayed on teleprompter. he was a little less controversial than he had been during the times he was off
teleprompter. last night he was on teleprompter. >> for the most part. >> for the most part. that was the best received speech he's had since being in the white house. can they keep him on negligent or is it going to be a full attack mode starting -- >> tomorrow -- very -- >> starting 5:00. >> give michael yaoly his $5 now. >> i'm going to gather those funds in this next break. news that donald trump's representative met with the russian ambassador. more conversation when we return.
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. do you think the russians were behind hacking into our election? >> i've done no research into that. i know just what the media says about it. >> do you think you could get briefed anytime soon? >> well, i'll need to. >> i think you do, too. do you like the nib? >> do i like them? >> yes. >> some of my best friends are fbi. >> do you generally trust them? >> yes. >> are you aware of the fact that the fbi concluded it was the russian intelligence service? >> i understand that. at least that's what's been reported and i've not been briefed by them on the subject. >> right. >> on the subject. >> how do you feel about a foreign entity trying to sblfr in our bleks. >> i think it's a significant event. >> you saw a lot in that exchange change between lindsay
graham and now attorney general jeff sessions but mostly the disbelief on graham and mccain who appeared tonight that this talk of russian involvement in an american election has somehow become normalized or evening worse, ok somehow, that people who would normally be hard liners on russia weren't getting all that worked up about it. that was the other subplot we saw play out. it played out many times. it will keep playing out tonight and tomorrow. i want to read you what nancy blo pelosi has issued on the story. so the minority leader, the democrats' leader in the house says in part -- this doesn't match what i have. after lying under oath to congress about his own communicions with the
russians, the attorney general must resign. session ss is not fit to serve at the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign. >> katie tur that's going to the nth degree. nert franken saying the attorney general must recuse himself. >> and representative elliott engle is saying the same. we'll see more and more types of responses from the democrats. we have to find out what we're going to see from more of the republicans, not just under lindsay graham or potentially john mccain. is this something that mitch mcconnell will end up supporting? will he need to support it. will he see the tide turning against him and have to find a reason to get on board with an independent investigation as to what happened with russia hacking the election. is paul ryan going to get behind this?
so far, the two of them have stone walled it. they've said there is no there there. paul ryan has dismissed it when having the opportunity to do so. the zemgs will seize upon this. how much pressure will the republicans be under to make some move calling for senator sessions to recuse himself. >> is it still the thing that public pressure is felt in washington and may change the minds and reflecks of some of those who want to keep this investigation close in? >> it's a thing. congress is motivated i would say hugely, maybe not exclusively by the employ suspect of any given member losing his or her seat in the next election. baseline, what you have to remember is the first thing that happens is the primary. then there's the general election. so these members of congress have to be more worried about their general than their primary election. it seems to me that republican
base voters, the kinds of people who turn out in primary elections, ieblg not seeing a lot of evidence right now that they are buying the idea that this is a scandal. trump's support among republicans is in the high 80s, i think. you've actually seen some polling that shows that vladimir putin's reputation has grown somewhat incredibly among republican voters in the past several months, and as long as trump attacks these 120ers as fake news and the work of obama hold-ooefrs and former obama officials, i think it's quite possible that your average member of congress is going to think, look,ing i jue don't have a strong political incentive to act on this. i think it's possible we'll reach that point and we may be approaching it. to your question, i think that people have to understand there's different kinds of pressure going on and i think right now that's the main thing
most members of congress are looking at and i'm not seeing a big threat coming from the republican base to members of congress who are going to control the fate of these investigations. >> what donald trump has to his advantage with the new york times is, see i told you the obama white house would be working against my administration. they planted this stuff. they are ones putting it out there. hold overseas are making the leaks and drawing attention to intelligence that they should not be doing because this is classified. i have a reason to believe that there's something of a conspiracy against me. he's going to have that ability to say that tomorrow. ened the to spin it in his direction. there are a number of people in this country who will say you know what, i think he's right about that and i think people did not want him to succeed and this is all just huge ma 234i7 las vegas because the establishment, the news media as well, does not want things to change. >> and for a large part of your
career you've covered business. what's happening there? >> it's amazing because investors or the investor class as i've come to call them are ignoring often of this noise. the dow cracked a major number for the first time today gaining more than 300 points. this stock market is up more than 15% from election date based on promises in a donald trump made too reduce taxes, to reduce -- >> regulations. >> -- regulations and to have this infrastructure program. what the market was waiting for was two specific things, number one is can 40e get through the speech which he did and number two, he offered no specifics whatsoever about these topics but he didn't walk them back. he still said he's going to have a massive tax cut. he put a artillery dollar number on infrastructures and roll back
regulations by 75%. for every new regulation two has to be rescinded. that's all wall street needs to charge ahead in the markets. and that's what it did today. the market is not a reflection of public sentiment. public sentiment's doing ok under trump. because we've had years or at least months and months of high job growth, lower unemployment, low interest rates, low oil prices. donald trump gets to point to that, too, to his base to say the business community thinks i'm ok. the investor class thinks i'm ok. consumers are spending. they think i'm ok. we're creating jobs. jobs are coming back to america. so it is kind of ok for him to say there's a particular class of people, the media and democrats who are focussing on these things that might not actually be a thing. >> ali, katy, michael, thank you, all three of you for