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tv   MSNBC Live  MSNBC  March 4, 2017 5:00am-6:01am PST

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president's joint address before congress. also new word today that attorney general jeff sessions will submit amended testimony to the senate by monday about his encounters with russia's ambassador to the u.s. while sessions was a surrogate to the trump campaign. will he have to testify again before the senate judiciary committee? and president trump goes on the office saying this picture of nancy pelosi with russians, including the ambassador. is it relevant? the latest controversy. >> no, there's no comparison whatsoever. between hillary clinton's practice having a private server, mishandling classified information, destroying e-mails. >> vice president pence pushing back about his use of private aol e-mail conducting state business while governor of inn. what he delivered in his defense. and it has to be the picture of the day. a still photo of hillary clinton on a plane with a newspaper. this obviously not that image that we're talking about, but
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ironic and you'll see that headline on the newspaper coming up here. why people are so interested in it. we want to begin with that breaking news regarding some pretty serious allegations by president trump to his predecessor, former president obama, accusing the obama administration of wiretapping trump. this is just one of six tweets president trump fired off around 6:30 this morning. he wrote, "terrible. just found out that obama had my wires tapped in trump tower just before the victory. nothing found. this is mccarthyism." our team is working this past hour to determine the basis of these tweets and the credibility of them. but president trump also made an attempt to tie president obama to the fallout over meetings attorney general sessions and some of his top aides had with the russian ambassador. he tweeted, "the first meeting jeff sessions had with the russian ambassador was set up by the obama administration under education program for 100 ambassadors." and this tweet just out, "the
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same russian ambassador that met jeff sessions visited the obama white house 22 times and four times last year alope." joining me with more, kate martelfothe hill and ozzie from political plit coe. great to have you both with me. ozzie, where is all this coming from? and for president trump, who hates leakers, this is a major leak he is alleging about his former former successor at the white house. >> i was afraid you were going to ask me where this is coming from so, to get inside donald trump's head for a moment, i think a good place to start is breitbart, the website, that was run by now one of his top advisers, steve bannon, and whenever donald trump is tweeting something or say something of a questionable nature, the origins usually are in this conservative echo chamber which, if you sort of go down the rabbit hole, they're relying on mainstream media reports mixed with their own unverified and unnamed sourcing. and in this particular case, you
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had i believe "the new york times" reporting on a request to the fisa court to get some type of surveillance on servers or phones related to the trump campaign. there were reports about whether or not that was accepted the first time and then a second attempt, and then you have, you know, a conservative radio host adding his own information to it with unnamed sources and you get this mix of people combining mainstream media reporting for "the new york times" and other credible, respected outlets weather their own unnamed sources, then you get the president sort of lumping it all together in 140 characters. >> kate, we are trying to independently verify this. obviously the fbi and other institutions are not going to confirm any type of ongoing or closed investigation, especially if this is something they are continuing.
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how does this change the narrative for donald trump today? everybody does want to dig deeper about jeff sessions, connections of the russian ambassador to certain members that are close aides to donald trump. does this change the whole conversation now? >> you hit the nail on the head. donald trump is trying to change the narrative and put it on the obama administration. that works well with his base, that helps rile up the troops with his base. to allege wiretapping with the obama administration is something that's pretty serious. it changes the narrative a bit, but we're on a saturday morning and donald trump is tweeting before 7:00 a.m. alleging that the obama administration is wiretapping his presidential campaign. if this is news, if this is not just donald trump referencing the breitbart report, then this is serious news. this should not be announced tree vooe ya twitter with exclamation points. it's a very informal way of breaking the news of this. i think donald trump should be giving the american people a little more clarification,
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explanation. we'll probably see the white house follow up with it. but i think looking forward into this, it doesn't change the fact if donald trump's campaign has communications with the russian government, that is something that needs to also be investigated. if the obama administration did this, it doesn't necessarily change the narrative. it's something else to be talking about but it should not take the focus off the trump administration. >> we're in a new world, ozzie, but the whole time line of last year when we think about back in the summer when donald trump invited russia to hack hillary clinton's e-mails, the conversations that were happening about trump's coziness with vladimir putin or russians and now all this other news that comes out, you take politics out of it, and the intelligence agencies confirming there was intent and interference from russia into our election, wouldn't it make sense whoever is in the white house to want to investigate whatever party is involved in this? >> when you use the phrase, shouldn't it make sense, i think
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you might have to put that one aside when you're dealing with why the president does some of the things that he puts out on twitter. clearly hels trying to change the narrative. he is responding to what he considers unflattering news, unfair news, and donald trump sees the world in very black and white terms. he never accepts false, mistakes, and if ever anything is happening negative on his side, his response is to point the finger somewhere else and say you're an even worse person, look at this other thing you didn't know about. and he thrives on identifying an opponent, engaging his base, and saying there's something even worse happening on the other side and whatever's happening with my administration is de minimis compared to what obama did. remember, obama was the kenyan socialist who was going to take your guns and force health care down your throats. and now trump is sort of reverting back to that. it wasn't that long ago he gave
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a pretty well received speech to the joint session of the congress and people said he became the president in this one day, and now he seems to have reverted back to being donald trump. >> that was tuesday night. >> yes. >> 24 hours can make a huge difference. in this news cycle basically two hours to two minutes. thank you so much. i want to go to our colleague, kasie hunt, in west palm beach, florida. you've been working off the basis of trying to confirm the foundation of these tweets from the president. have you been able to hear from any sources that back this up? >> reporter: we, thomas, at this point, there is no evidence that we found that there were any calls that were monitored coming in or out of trump tower, but we want to emphasize we're in the early stages of reporting this out. but at this point we're trying to figure out the basis for tweets where president trump potentially is receiving this kind of information. he obviously does have access to classified briefings, but we also know that the president is a regular reader of right-wing
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media outlets. there was a radio host who focused his show this week on thursday about this potential issue. and bret baier on fox news asked house speaker paul ryan about it at some length yesterday on fox news, but the speaker saying he's not sure if with anything familiar along those lines. ryan also receives high-level classified intelligence briefings and is typically pretty care informal public about what he suz. but at this point, nbc news reporting does not bear out with what the president has tweeted about. obviously if that changes we will get back to you as soon as possible. this all of course comes in the context of ongoing investigations. nbc news has reported that the fbi has been investigating the trump campaign and their contacts with russians during the campaign. some outlets have gone further. "the new york times" reported that they are investigating trump campaign contacts with
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russian officials, potentially intelligence officials. that's a key and important distinction, and i want to emphasize where nbc news is reporting is on this particular matter. but of course the house and senate intelligence committees need cooperation from the fbi as they try to figure out exactly what happened during russian meddling in the election campaign. and there's been frustration over the course of the last couple of days from democrats who are saying that jim comey isn't giving -- he's the fbi director -- isn't giving the congressional committees on this issue enough information, saying they know a fraction of what the fbi knows about what has gone on here. and there are questions about what kind of transcripts might exist. senator chris coons of delaware raising that question with our andrea mitchell in an interview yesterday saying he thinks there might be transcripts that could illuminate these contacts between russians and the trump
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campaign associates. he says he believes that they exist but that the fbi director is withholding them from the congressional committees. koonce of course doesn't sit on the senate intelligence committee so that's an important point of clarification. but clearly, this is an issue that has consumed members on the hill. it's clearly consumed in some ways the trump administration, the president himself of course this morning tweeting about it here from his winter white house inmar-a-lago. >> when it comes back to this issue -- and i know we're working on independently verifying the substance of these tweets from donald trump and talking about what happened at trump tower, which would also be considered his campaign headquarters -- could this easily be associated to how the information was learned about the phone calls by national security adviser general mike flynn who has since had to relieve himself of that post, between flynn and the russian ambassador? do you think that there is some "there" there about the context, about how that information was obtained?
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>> reporter: well, they're probably two separate issue, thomas, although i want to be careful again because our reporting is still in the early stages, but our understanding of what happened with mike flynn, his phone calls with the russian ambassador would be reasonable to assume that those phone calls -- that any phone calls that the russian ambassador was making would have been monitored by likely under a fisa warrant, the court that makes decisions about whether or not american officials are allowed to tap phone, monitor communications of people who are suspected of being foreign agents. so it's reasonable to assume that any conversation that anyone had with the russian ambassador could potentially show up in something like this. so that's separate, i think, from what we are talking about potentially today. and this is a different investigation. again, the fbi hasn't confirmed the existence of an investigation between trump campaign contacts and russians duringheourse of the campaign, but our reporting is that they are investigating that
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and so that would be a separate set likely of warrants, of investigations, of any potential wiretapping than what you're seeing in the case of mike flynn. now, there could be some overlap. it's entirely possible that mike flynn would have, you know, landed himself in this investigation that we are now discussing. but talking with -- in an electronic way with the russian president vladimir putin ambassad -- with the russian ambassador is a very quick way to get on the radar of intelligence. >> we're trying to be micro about the substance of each link and there's a broad brush being painted by those tweets that we'll continue to investigate. kasie hunt in west palm beach, florida. i want to bring in now democratic congressman seth moulton, member of the house armed services committee and the house budget committee. your reaction to the tweets from donald trump suggesting the obama administration wiretapped the phones at trump tower prior
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to his election. >> look, this is right out of donald trump's reality temperature playbook. he's trying to distract attention from the real campaign, his campaign, his administration's contacts with russian officials. >> when you think about that type of contact and jeff sessions now in the hot seat over not being more forthcoming about his meeting with the russian ambassador in september prior to his senate confirmation, he's going to give this amended testimony by monday, written amended testimony. you' called for his resignation. there's nothing that sessions can do to clear the way as attorney general because he has recused himself from the doj probe about russia. >> thomas, this is not being not forthcoming. this is lying under oath. the top american law enforcement official in the entire united states lied under oath. he should resign immediately.
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>> do you have any information about with donald trump, again, trying to change this narrative about what could be happening for sessions, do you have any concrete information that would either support what donald trump is claiming or negate, prove him wrong? >> no. i'm not familiar with the story at all. i have not heard any reporting on it. it seems again like it's a distraction he's trying to throw out there to take attention away from the real story, the repeated contacts of his administration officials with russian officials. we've had four people under the spotlight from his campaign or his administration for their illicit contacts, for lying about those contacts. there's clearly a deeper story here. and we just need to know, we, the american people, need to know how high this conspiracy goes. >> based on what you do know, is it logical, then, that president obama may have done exactly what donald trump is alleging?
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>> i don't want to speculate on something that's clearly just a distraction from the trump administration and from donald trump himself. obviously -- >> you can't say all those other things about the contacts with russians and all the other chips falling into place about jeff sessions and hindsight about other people if this revelation drops and confirms to be true. just a backup of what president obama and other people may have suspected after donald trump asked russia to hack and find hillary clinton's missing 30,000 e-mails. he said that in july, late july of 2016. >> look, thomas, again, i don't want to speculate on this one tweet from a president trump who is a serial liar and he gets up every day and lies to the american people. so i think we'd be just falling into his trap if we just immediately go there. but let me just say this, that obviously contacts with russian
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intelligence officials are monitored. that's part of maintaining our national security. so if under the obama administration they were simply monitoring contacts with russian officials, not trying to wiretap into the trump campaign but simply looking at who russian officials were talking with, and then trump administration or trump campaign officials got ensnared in that net, then it's a total mischaracterization to say that trump or that president obama was wiretapping trump. no. we were just protecting our own national security by seeing who was contacting the russians and who the russians were contacting here in america. now, i don't know as i said that that's true, but that would be one possible explanation for what's going on here. but, again, a total mischaracterization if that's the case from donald trump, who's trying to distract attention from the real story, which is that, you know, in this administration, it seems that every time someone overturns another rock, there's another russian agent lurking underneath. so we've got to understand what is going on with the trump administration and the trump campaign's contacts with russian
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intelligence officials. >> what have you been hearing from constituents about concerns over this? is this something on their radar or has it not publed up? because the markets are doing well. people think in certain circles that president trump is being effective in other capacities. >> no. people are very concerned about this. i mean, this is fundamentally about our national security. this is about keeping our democracy safe. this is about an enemy of the uned states that's been our top enemy for most of the last 65, 70 years trying to undermine the fundamental ten edmontons of our democracy. and the idea that the trump campaign could be colluding or could have colluded with them and the fact that the trump administration might still be having illicit contacts with an enemy of the united states is of top concern. i'm doing a town hall in red, massachusetts, this afternoon, and i expect to get a lot of questions about this because i hear about it through twitter, through facebook, online. people are very, very concerned. and we want to know the truth. the american people deserve to
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know the truth. the american people deserve to know if the president of the united states is under investigation by the fbi. >> when it comes to those concerns and people wanting to get answers, if there is some "there" there, and the fbi has information, and at this point, there's so much confusion, who can be an honest broker to submit to the american people what the facts are so that people can wrap their head around it? >> well, that's why i've been calling for an independent bipartisan commission to investigate this. i'm not sitting here as a democrat saying we need to have a democratic investigation. i'm saying we need to have a bipartisan investigation where republicans and democrats can together rise above party politics and do what's right by the constitution, by our national security, and for the american people. we all deserve to have answers. and the idea that this investigation is just going to be carried out by a
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republican-controlled house intelligence committee, a republican-controlled senate intelligence committee -- and by the way, the results of that investigation will then be classified because it's intelligence committees -- that's not going to get us answers. that's not going to get us, the american people, the answers that we deserve. so we've got to have an independenbipartisan commission to get to the bottom of this. just like we did after the 9/11 attacks. >> sir, post the presidential address, the joint address to congress on tuesday night, many people thought the president handled the moment well with gravitas, some people certainly had questions about the statements he used in that address, but the tone seemed to be different than what we've seen in previous moments. and also because the emotion of the widow of the former marine or the marine who was killed, the navy s.e.a.l. -- >> the navy sailor -- >> william ryan owens, his wife was there. you're a former marine, sir.
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how emotional and relevant was that moment to remind americans about what's really at stake? >> well, it was a very emotional moment. it was emotional for everybody like myself standing there in the house of representatives, listening to the president, and i know it was emotional for millions of americans across the country. but let's not forget that this was a president who talked about that raid earlier in the day and blamed the generals for the failure of the raid. this is a president who doesn't understand the fundamental tenets of taking responsibility of really being a leader when it comes to being commander in chief. when i was a marine officer, i was a platoon commander, and my job description was one sentence -- you are responsible for everything your platoon does or fails to do. period. end of story. the buck stops here. well, the president of the united states obviously doesn't understand that because just before that speech, he blamed the generals for tailures of
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the raid, and that's not leadership. that's not presidential. that's not a commander in chief. >> congressman seth moulton, i know we'll have a lot more questions for you. hope to see you back on msnbc soon. thanks so much. appreciate your time. >> thanks, thomas. it's like a game of hide-and-seek on capitol hill and your health care may be at stake. wait until you see this video. it's beautiful. was it a hard place to get to? (laughs) it wasn't too bad. with the chase mobile app, jimmy chin can master depositing his hard earned checks in a snap. easy to use chase technology for whatever you're trying to master. because my teeth are yellow. these photos? why don't you use a whitening toothpaste? i'm afraid it's bad for my teeth. try crest 3d white.
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there are transcripts that provide very helpful, critical insights into whether or not russian intelligence and senior russian political leaders, including vladimir putin, were cooperating, were colluding with the trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election. >> let me just clear up very
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briefly, do such transcripts exist? is that what you're saying? >> i have not seen them. i believe they exist. >> senator chris coons on friday on the controversy surrounding russia, the white house, and attorney general jeff sessions. back to our conversation cate martel, national politics reporter for the hill, and ozzie from politico. we have the senator there suggesting there may be transcripts that the fbi has of trump associates and the conversations, connections with russian officials. have you heard anything from your sources about the reality of transcripts existing? >> so, thomas, this sounds like there may be transcripts that exist, and the issue will be how can those be released. obviously if this is the intelligence committee, these can be classified. now, i think the issue for jeff sessions going forward now is that even if he is not indicted for perjury, he can still be in a world of legal trouble.
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he did not disclose to his senate colleagues his conversations with the russian ambassador. this means there could be misdemeanor charges and he did not disclose this information which is necessary to know for the job. so i think what's going forward, what will be most interesting for me is look next week. we're going to see jeff sessi s sessions' colleagues, his deputies having their confirmation hearings, including rod rubenstein. he's going to be the number two to jeff sessions. he will be the one that will be cha-in charge of this investigation. so i think that will be a confirmation hearing to watch. we'll see him come under intense scrutiny because as a lot of democrats now are calling for a special prosecutor and a bipartisan investigation, if that's not happening, rob rubenstein, who we'll see next week, will be the one in charge of these investigations over his potential new boss. >> ozzie, how much ownership i guess and basically control does the russian ambassador really have over the future of jeff sessions? because with jeff sessions and the lack of total recall, the
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russian ambassador thatcall ed gossipy can pretty much say anything. >> then it becomes a question of how much do we rely on this person. if meeting with him is so toxic and questionable, do we take anything at face value what he says. then we get into chess and anticipating the next move. it all comes down to what did jeff sessions say during the hearing. what did he intend to say. you take that into consideration. then it becomes a question of what accountability do we hold people for what they say when asked direct questions. >> cate, thanks so much. azi, thanks so much. appreciate you sticking around. >> thank you. >>. this former british spy in hide fwug senate may want him in washington to divulge all he knows about an alleged trump campaign conspiracy of alleged cooperation with russia.
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at mybreo.com. good morning, everybody. i'm thomas roberts at msnbc headquarters in new york. president trump is accusing former president barack obama of wiretapping his phones before the election. now, this morning the president tweeted, "terrible. just found out that obama had my wires tapped in trump tower just beforehe victory. nothing found. thiss a mccarthyism!" and "is it legal for a sitting president to be wiretapping? a new low." and "i bed a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact. how low has president obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. this is nixon/watergate. bad. or sick guy." joining me now, ken delaney.
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some serious allegations the president fired off early this morning. is there any substance to where he's getting this information from? and if so, what does he have to back it up? >> thomas, these are incredible allegations, and the answer is we don't know and we're trying to find out right now whether there is any substance behind them. the thing is there's a breitbart news story that conservative website had a story alleging that there was a fisa warrant, foreign intelligence surveillance court warrant to wiretap trump tower and we're wondering this morning is that what the president is talking about or does he actually have information? presumably he could call the fbi director and ask him. question would be if there's an investigation targeting trump associates, would the fbi director brief the president on it. so many questions here, thomas. if it's real, it would involve a foreign intelligence surveillance court warrant. that's a national security investigation, and that would allow the fbi to intercept
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communications. normally, those are targeted at foreign diplomats, spies in the united states, but they can be targeted at u.s. persons, at americans, if there's suspicion that those people are cooperating with foreign intelligence or involved in an espionage case, for example. >> as we talked about spy, let's talk about what we know on your reporting about the former british spy who allegedly put together this dossier last year. he was going to be paid by the fbi. they didn't come through with that payment as i understand it. but his investigation on whether or not the trump campaign had any contacts with russian aides during the election season. what do you know? >> that's right. so christopher steele, former mi6 operative, former british intelligence agent, wrote this dossier, which seems like a year ago we learned about it, it was actually just a couple of months ago, and this dossier alleges a conspiracy between the trump campaign and the russian state to play basically a dirty tricks
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campaign on the clinton campaign and help trump win the election. that's completely unproven. but we learned that the fbi was prepared to pay steele to continue his investigation. as you said, that arrangement fell through. now the senate intelligence committee, which is investigating this whole thing, is in talks or is considering calli ining steele to testify o gather information from him. the problem is he is in hiding and he is not inclined to come to the united states, sources tell us. so -- and the other issue is the fbi pretty much -- and the u.s. intelligence community knows much of what he gathered because he cooperate wrd them before. he may not be at the top of the senate witness list but his information is the basis of a lot of these questions that the u.s. intelligence community is investigating, thomas. >> ken, great to have you with me. thank you. i appreciate it. how president trump put the questions about russia to an end once and for all. a look at the quickest solution on what this administration could do for that after this. [bullfighting music]
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attorney general jeff sessions will amend testimony from his confirmation hearing on writing, submitting that by monday, about his contacts with the ambassador to russia during the presidential election. he'll also provide written answers to any additional questions. however, democrats are not satisfied with his recusal from any campaign-related russia investigation. and the house minority leader, nancy pelosi, says the connections go much farther. take a listen. >> what we see is a very narrow recus recusal, a very narrow i'm going to recuse myself on the investigation of the election. no, there's a whole russian connection of personal, political, and financial russian connection. this is just totally unacceptable. >> so joining me now is floyd mathison, former chief of staff
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for utah senator mike lee, and mike lee sits on the judiciary committee. good to have you with me. let's talk about the issue of jeff sessions, and this is obviously kind of a drip-drip about his credibility as the top cop in this country between the trump campaign and certain surrogates and members of the trump team to this russian ambassador. do you think that he can clear this hurdle? >> i think he can. i think the recusal is the first step to that process. and the big thing is everything need to keep marching forward. i think one of the biggest challenges to the trump administration is they keep getting distracted on unforced errors. usually that happens because they don't have an agenda and aren't focused. arguably the two best moments, the rollout of judge gor sich and his speech last week, were good moments for the administration but both have been marred by their inability to take the agenda forward so
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they get distracted. there's a set of disciplines required in running the administration and they don't seem to have grasped that's what they've got to get to. that starts with an agenda. as it relates to jeff sessions, if they want to move forward, they have to move forward. tweeting early in the morning and taking shots at these different things isn't the way to do it. i think there's a lot of things we don't know yet in terms of that interaction. clearly the russian ambassador is not the most memorable person. there's been over 30 members of congress who have had multiple meetings with him and had no recollection. so i think there's a lot of murkiness still out there, but for the administration as a whole, they have to quit this herky-jerky approach. it's true. most administrations kind of wobble out of the gate -- >> you're a surrogate for the person running for president that has asked troush hack into hillary clinton to find the 30,000 missing e-mails, then the september headlines are all about hillary clinton saying that, yeah, the russian, you know, intelligence community is trying to interfere with our
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election, and then in the beginning of september, you're jeff sessions and you take a meeting with the russian ambassador. don't you think that will have a more memorable effect? >> you would think it would, but there's a lot of those it looks light started under the education program was the initial meeting, and, again, i don't think we have all the details of the other components yet. so we'll have to see how those play out in terms of what those meetings were, where they were, and what the context was. if there is -- >> -- jeff sessions, though, and because of the fact that there is such interest in finding an honest broker who can assure the american people that we weren't messed with in this election, that we have fair and accurate results of what the 2016 election demonstrated. for jeff sessions, it's not about any alleged crime right now. it's about this alleged cover-up or impropriety. isn't that the bigger issue, that there is a lack of credibility because he could have easily demonstrated that information in front of the judiciary committee that may have saved a lot of headaches
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today? >> yeah. i think that's right and i think that's part of the disciplines i was talking about, thomas, that you have to look at these things in the full context and how do you get out in front. most administrations don't fail because they don't have the right agenda or the right focus. they fail because they let the weaknesses become the dominant part of their behavior and their actions day to day. so clearly jeff sessions had an opportunity to clarify or to be specific in terms of those interactions, and, again, that's part of that discipline process we just haven't seen yet from the trump administration. >> so when we talk about the agenda, and we know that president trump wants to repeal and replace obamacare and there's a sentiment certainly on the hill about how to get this done and how to do it well, senator mike lee wants to repeal and replace it first -- repeal it first, replace it later. for people in utah, aren't constituents afraid that if it's taken away and not completely, you know, something put in as the safety net that's supposed
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to fix it, that something won't really come and that health insurance will go away completely? >> yeah. i don't think there's that kind of fear, because i think there's a direction -- people understand that, yes, we've got to have some sort of safety valve, safety net in there. the states can clearly do that better than the federal government can. that's been seen over and over. something that happens very well here in utah. utah is thriving and functioning well because we keep things to the local level. and we recognize that the health care dollars and decisions need to be local, not back in washington, d.c. so, no, there's not the big fear and outrage that i think a lot of us want to get to, and i think it's also important, thomas, to recognize that this is really both parties' issue, that we have so many of the leadership in both parties who recognize this as a wedge issue. both parties raise massive amounts of money, and i don't think we're nearly as divided on health care or immigration as a lot of our leaders in washington want us to believe and a lot of
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outside groups in washington want the american people to believe because they know as long as the american people think we're too divided to solve health care or immigration, it gives congress an excuse to do nothing, it gives the president the excuse to do whatever he wants with an executive order, and it maintains the status quo. that's thing the american people have got to get to. we have to hold our elected officials across the political spectrum accountable for getting to real results. we can have a dialogue about health care. we can have a dialogue about education. i was always amazed in washington, i thought we could solve 94% of the immigration issue in an afternoon because everybody agrees on the vast majority of it. but we have people who use it as wedge issues to win campaigns, raise billions of dollars of money, and that's why most of the richest counties are suburbs of washington, d.c. >> boyd matheson, good to have you op. thanks for your time. appreciate you getting up early. ? thanks, thomas. >> comparing presidents nixon and trump, and how would nixon use twitter? let's think about that. next hour, the trump administration's expected u-turn on federal regulations to limit
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donald trump has been up tweeting about president obama compared to president nixon. but now we have a unique perspective on trump from a richard nixon biographer, journalist, and historian. evan thomas joins me next. no sir, no sir, some nincompoop stole all my wool sweaters, smart tv and gaming system. luckily, the geico insurance agency recently helped baa baa with renters insurance. everything stolen was replaced. and the hooligan who lives down the lane was caught selling the stolen goods online. visit geico.com and see how easy it is to switch and save on renters insurance.
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president trump's antagonism towards the press has earned comparisons to another controversial commander in chief, richard nixon. >> what is it about the television coverage of you in these past weeks and months that has so aroused your anger? >> don't get the impression that you arouse my anger. [ laughter ] >> i have that impression.
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>> you see, one can only be angry with those he respects. >> all right. so let's bring in evan thomas, author of "being nixon: a man divided." former editor at large with "newsweek." good to have you with me. this morning we have new tweets from president trump and he's comparing president obama and allegations of wiretapping trump tower prior to his election victory as very nixon and watergate-esque. do you see a comparison there, if that's true? >> no. i'm not sure what trump is doing here. he may just be trying to change the subject. in nixon's days the rules about wiretapping were very unclear. nixon did some wiretapping. it was not clear whether it was legal at the time. breaking into watergate of course was illegal. i don't mean that. that was clearly illegal. but he also did other wiretapping. now the rules are very clear. if the obama administration wiretapped trump tower, i'm sure they did it with a fisa warrant through the court system, so if
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it happened -- and i don't know if it did happen, but if it happened it's not the same. the obama administration would have had a warrant from a judge. >> a legal justification for it. >> yes. >> as we look back at the context of that, you know, press conference with president nixon and the white house press corps at that time, and we've seen president trump at the same style of podium and different generations of reporters that are covering him right now, do you feel it's the same style of insecurity almost about a president like a nixon or eve an president trump, an insecurity about being held accountable for things that they are uncomfortable with? >> it's very hard to know when president trump is play acting, when he's putting on a show, and when he really means it. i do know that president nixon really was upset about the press and really did feel that it was his enemy. he was not entirely wrong about
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that. the press was out to get richard nixon. so, you know, the joke is even paranoids have enemies. well, nixon did have enemies. with trump, i don't know. you know, he's only been president for six weeks. it's a little early in the game. he seems he puts on a good show that he's all indignant about the press. i can't tell if that's for show, for play, for political effect, or whether he's really unhappy about it. >> and certainly for president trump, the russian allegations are serious and seem to have deep roots, but we had john dean, who is president nixon's former white house counsel along with my colleague chris hayes the other night, he offered his own take about the trump administration, its handling of the russia allegations. take a look. >> i think they have to realize that they have to appreciate that the reaction to everything instead of taking some proaction is going to hurt them in the long run. they're not acting like people who are trying to get the truth out. they're not trying to open the doors and get the answers.
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they are always having answers that half explain or fail to explain the charges that are suggested by what's going on. >> so, sir, do you think that for john dean's point there, if president trump is going to tweet about whether or not there was a wiretapping, wouldn't it be better to say i've just learned about this to help america, to be an honest broker, i want this fully release sod people can know there is no "there" there and that i am here in the credibility of the presidential office and i deserve your respect? >> you know, that's not the way trump operates. he's a disrupter. he likes to stir the pot. it worked for him. he is president. and, you know, he likes to get into fights with enemies.
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i don't know these are real or imagined enemies. i don't know how much of this is for show. trump does this kind of thing all the time it's worrisome. it makes people anxious. i think president trump wants to make some people anxious. his base likes it. running against the press works pretty well. people don't like the press. so that can be a political tactic. nixon was tactical about that as well. i think nixon maybe was more heart felt in his dislike of the press. i can't tell with trump. >> but right now when we think about it, evan, and the comparisons to nixon with the press, americans hung on the press' every word and investigative story about what they were able to prove and uncover, and right now this president is president is trying to demean the credibility of the press almost to inoculate
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themselves in the future of stories that may come down the line. in these troubled times, who can be the honest broker that americans are looking for? >> i think americans are pretty cynical and sad right now. back in nixon's day, they trusted the press more than they do today. that's a sad thing but that's true. i think -- the press, you know, is a big word. it's a lot of things, from completely scurrilous, made-up fake news to incredibly responsible digging by major news organizations which still goes on today. you know, i think a lot of the major news organizations are responsible. they make mistakes, they do stupid thing, but they are by and large responsible. trump wants to discredit them. he may succeed. it's an ongoing battle. it's fought out on, you know -- in nixon's day, twitter didn't exist. cable temperature didn't exist. it was a whole different game. so it's a little dangerous using these historical analogies because the technology is different now, the public attitudes are different now.
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there are some common themes, yes, but we're also in a different game. >> evan thomas, great to have you on. thank you for your time, sir. >> thanks, thomas. >> much to get to in our next hour on this 44th day of the trump administration. i'll be speaking with senator ben carden of maryland, the ranking member of foreign relations committee, about the alleged links between russia and the trump administration. and florida republican francis rooney joins us to talk about trump's taxes, the fact we've never seen them, and what we can expect from plans to relax rules on air and water pollution. a question for former epa head. no added nitrates, nitrites or artificial preservatives. now it's good for us all. like those who like... sweet. those who prefer heat. (blows a breath of air) and those who just love meat. for those in school. out of school. and old school. those who like their sandwich with pop. and those who like it with soda. for the star of the scene. cut! and the guys behind it.
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