tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 20, 2017 11:30pm-12:01am PDT
middle of august he was no longer with the campaign. meaning that for the entire final stretch of the general election, he was not involved and so to start to look at some individual that was there for a short period of time, or separately, individuals who really didn't play any role in the campaign and to suggest that those are the basis for anything is a bit ridiculous. >> katy tur, the gop convention was called paul manafort's show. contemporaneously at the time. there was no larger figure other than the candidate, himself, in the campaign. >> and that was in july. not june. and paul manafort started in march. so the timeline that sean spicer just laid out is incorrect. he was there for much longer than that. he was there for five, going on six months. he was there for longer than steve bannon ran the campaign. paul manafort was brought in to professionalize the trump campaign. to add some experience. you just heard don jr. call it amateur hour with corey lewandowski.
that is how the family felt and that is how some of those very close to donald trump felt going into the convention. they felt like they needed somebody to come in and shape things up. that is why they brought on paul manafort. yes, it is also true that donald trump and paul manafort didn't really get along all too well and ultimately what led to paul manafort's demise within the campaign were news reports about his alleged ties to russia through viktor yanukovych, president of ukraine, that he once counseled. so russia pushed him out but he was a big influencer during the campaign and as you said, the convention was his baby. he focused on it. his role, his goal was to make the convention go off without a hitch. >> so, michael, that sound you hear is a bus rolling over paul manafort. how is this going to go over with paul manafort and any of
the slew of other people who will be mentioned as kind of fringe figures, hangers-on? >> yeah, yeah. well, brian, this is where the stories can get interesting as people get thrown under the bus and scurry out from under the wheels just in time to rat on somebody else and people turn on each other. indeed, that could be one consequence of the federal investigation. you know, the national security division of the fbi often does charges but pressure on some of these people could cause them to say, hey, you might want to know some interesting things about someone else. so you could see a situation where people turn on each other, but i come back to those sound bites and i just think, you know, we've had this conversation here before, brian, over and over again, sean spicer and people around trump are just making these implausible assertions about the scale of this story and if they would just give a little ground, they would have so much more credibility. if they would take the underlying issues seriously, if they would speak accurately and
honestly about the players and the factors involved, but when you get this kind of wild overcompensation, you have to ask, what are you afraid of and what are you hiding? it's just very strange and begs more questions. >> or are you working on behalf of a president who is so erratic that you don't know where, you know, solid ground is? so you are just trying to push forward his message of the very moment? but to the point what you're saying, sean spicer and what this team is is doing, and how they're using the white house, we've heard sean spicer from that podium in the white house press briefing room say a number of blatantly inaccurate things. claiming that the inauguration numbers were significantly higher than they actually were. talking about how there was voter fraud into this election and how there would be an investigation. there is still no investigation. saying that there was wiretapping and then bringing in the uk into it the other day which received an admonishment from the uk, an admonishment from intelligence officials saying the intelligence fight donald trump had with the
intelligence community was a, quote, myth. remember donald trump called the intelligence community basically akin to nazi germany. he said it was the biggest electoral win since reagan. sean spicer said this. that is not true. that's just blatantly not true. those numbers are easy to verify. now we're hearing about paul manafort having a limited role. so there are things that are just blatantly false. there are things that are exaggerated. there are things that are just easy to say, hey, this is not right. >> and michael, to the point you made here during the break, hating the ussr then later russia and hating the leaders has been a gop industry along with cutting taxes for as long as we've been alive. now suddenly this, which just hits so violently against that. >> there's just an unwillingness, it seems, to hear the fundamental facts of what happened in this election.
it's a desire to tell a different story, to have a narrative where this is about leaks and, sure, that's a valid point to raise, and that's a serious question, but the -- but relative to the idea that a foreign government interfered in our election, tried to distort our democracy, it just doesn't compare and i just saw so little concern on the part of the republicans on that committee today, brian. i just found it very strange. and, again, there's this assertion, there's absolutely no way russian interference affected the outcome of the election. well, no one's claiming that the russians hacked into voting machines, but you can't disprove that the wikileaks e-mails, for instance, were a decisive factor. again, i remind people, donald trump stood at a podium and waved copies of the e-mails around and said, i love wikileaks. he wasn't doing that because he thought no one cared. he was doing that to influence votes. >> katy, the word, sustainability, is being used and it's not about the environment.
it's -- this isn't sustainable. for spicer, especially, when you're running out ahead of melissa mccarthy's material, when as he did tonight, he got in a twitter war with glenn thrush of "the new york times." for how long can this go on? >> i'm not entirely sure. it was sustainable during the campaign. the sort of -- i don't want to call it controlled chaos but the chaos of the campaign worked in donald trump's -- to his advantage. he was at the front of the headlines every single day. he dominated the news cycle. all the conversation was about him. it worked in his favor. in the white house, it is a different story because you can't just talk, you've also got to get things done. and so far, they're not getting things done. the biggest loser of today was neil gorsuch. nobody's talking about neil gorsuch. his supreme court nominee. that is a huge story that played second, third, fourth, fifth fiddle to the news of the day, the other thing that's on everyone's mind, health care.
>> yeah. >> no one's talking about health care. donald trump needs to push that forward in order to pass the house and pass the senate, get on his desk so he can sign it and so far that is not being spoken about. much of the -- because we're talking about russia. >> where's the bandwidth going to come from for health care by later this week? >> i don't know where it's going to come from because i would assume that donald trump will wake up tomorrow and fire off a few more tweets, will have seen something on tv tonight or tomorrow morning that makes him upset. you know, rinse, wash and repeat. and the cycle never seems to end and there doesn't seem to be anybody who can talk him down from that ledge. you would think maybe his family members would be the last hope but so far they haven't been able to do it. >> to our panel, michael and katy, thank you, both, for your participation in this segment. coming up, we'll get reaction tonight from the top democrat on the senate intelligence committee. this is "the 11th hour."
welcome back to our broadcast. today focused on the house intelligence committee's hearing on russia, but the other chamber of congress, the upper chamber, as they love to be called, gets their turn as well. and to that end, earlier i spoke with democratic virginia senator mark warner, vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee. we began with the questions he still wants to have answered. after watching today's house hearing with director comey and admiral rogers. >> what i heard today confirmed knowledge that i already had. that there are active investigations going on with people that were involved with the trump campaign about possible influence, or potentially even collusion with the russians. we heard as well the fact that russia massively intervened in our elections in a way that was unprecedented both in terms of hacking into individuals' accounts, leaking that information in a way to benefit one candidate, mr. trump over mrs. clinton. i wish the white house would
fully understand, the house intelligence committee, leadership, democrat and republican, senate intelligence committee, democrat and republican, we both gave the president about two weeks to back off from his false claim that somehow president obama had been involved in wiretapping him. you now have director comey who came out at least indirectly when the claim was first made but absolutely say with complete clarity that that allegation is false. you also heard admiral rogers indicate that one of our strongest allies, the british, greatly resent the notion that somehow they were involved in any kind of scheme like this. and i would hope, you know, i want the president to do well, but this president can't seem to -- or his spokespeople at least can't seem to accept the truth that now has come from the combined leadership of republican and democrat of the intelligence community, the justice department, the fbi and the nsa.
>> well, on that second point about wiretapping, what can your committee add, what can you say or do to derail the president from his, you believe, wrongly held view that he was somehow wiretapped by his predecessor? >> i don't have the foggiest idea what else can be done. he's asked for us to look into it. we've looked into it. the house looked into it. he's asked for the justice department. he's asked the fbi director. but this is a president who also has been so disdainful of the intelligence community, literally for months, and that does not do good for the morale of the people who help keep us safe in the intelligence committee and community. brave men and women who put -- many times put their lives on the line and i've just been very disappointed that the president can't move on from this allegation. >> what does it tell you when you hear the white house
spokesman as he did today seemingly diminish the role of paul manafort saying it was limited amount of time he had a limited role. back contemporaneously during the convention, during that time, he couldn't have had a larger role in the trump campaign. what do you think they're signaling? >> brian, i mean, to make that kind of statement, paul manafort was brought in as the savior of the campaign. he was campaign manager for months. he was affiliated with the campaign for months before that. i mean, that's all just plain facts. i don't know how -- and, again, i think the white house spokesman's got a really tough job. i wouldn't want his job. but how you can make that kind of statement that on its face is patently false and everybody involved in the trump campaign i think realizes it's false, i don't get it. maybe what it raises with me is, you know, one of the things i
find very suspicious is the fact that the only thing that changed in a major way in the republican platform was this republican platform was much more favorable, pro-russia, much less favorable to ukraine and paul manafort had extensive ties. these are questions we're going to be asking if the senate intelligence committee as we go down, we're having our first public hearing next week. we started interviewing witnesses and started interviewing other folks to get this information. i've been very proud of the fact that the senate intel committee has been very bipartisan in its approach. not only the chair but people like susan collins and roy blunt and james lankford, marco rubio, all said we're going to follow the intelligence wherever it leads. this committee -- my committee is committed to making sure that we're either going to show what type of activity there was or if there's no activity, i'll be the first to state it. but if there is no activity, no collusion, no inappropriate contacts, you would think the
trump administration would then welcome this inquiry. >> senator mark warner of the senate intelligence committee, democrat of the commonwealth of virginia. thank you very much for being with us tonight. >> thank you, brian. and coming up here after our next break, how the british feel having been drawn into this. one man who is speaking out on the topic joins us here tonight. this is "the 11th hour."
our british allies have called the president's suggestion that they wiretapped him for obama nonsense and utterly ridiculous. would you agree? >> yes. >> does it do damage for a president to make a baseless claim that the british participated in a conspiracy against him? >> i think it clearly frustrates it. a key ally of ours. >> admiral mike rogers talking about the white house claims that president obama may have
asked british intelligence to wiretap then-candidate donald trump. the claim made by the president, repeated by his press secretary, has been disputed now by president obama, by british intelligence, by the fbi and now the house and senate intelligence committees. with us on our broadcast tonight, peter westmacott who served as british ambassador to the u.s. from 2012 to 2016 and wrote this for "the guardian" this weekend. "trump and spicer's remarks about british wiretapping are absurd and dangerous." ambassador, thank you very much for joining us. how has it been like generally to watch what's been unfolding in our country given your knowledge of our country and then specifically to see british intel dragged into this whole mess? >> that part of the story has been a bit disappointing, i have to say, because it first of all popped up as something that sean
spicer read out from fox news and fox news may have got it from r.t., so that raises a number of questions about whether there was some russian hand in it. but then after that, spicer made a comment which suggested it had some substance to it. then the story ran. it looked like after nimble diplomacy by people in the nsc and the british government that it would die but then it came up again during the press conference that the president gave with chancellor merkel. he declined to say that the story was not valid and sean spicer, again, then said, if anybody has anything to say, they should talk to fox news, and so on. so as a result of it, you got this, in my judgment, ludicrous but members of the british government which i'm not a member, of course, have said in a nonsensical and ridiculous pretty tough language, accusation, that the british intelligence agencies were invited by the president --
sorry, by the previous president -- to bug donald trump's phones. so it's a little bit sad. it's a little bit of an embarrassment, i would say, for everyone. everyone knows it's not true. we need to kill the story because the longer it's out there, the greater the risk of this doing damage to an extremely precious and important intelligence relationship. >> as a proud brit, what happens in your core every time you hear donald trump invoke brexit as the movement that lit the flame here in this country? >> he was pro-brexit right from the beginning. he thought it was a marvelous idea. when he won, he said he was brexit, brexit, brexit. i'm a proud brit as you probably know, brian, who didn't think it was in the interest of my country to leave the eu, so i hear that voice with a certain sense of regret from my own country's point of view.
but the link, frankly, between brexit and what donald trump has achieved is a little bit tenuous, even if some of the votes which he attracted were clearly some of the same sort of votes which the brexit people attracted here in the united kingdom. >> in happy times, the u.s. and uk do have the closest, i believe as a layperson, the closest possible intelligence relationship, i think, being separated by an ocean. do you worry at all that these remarks, this -- this wrong-headed, misguided quote about the brits tapping donald trump, do you worry it will damage relationships on that front? >> i was confident after the first iteration of his story that it would go away, didn't really matter. then he popped up again on friday evening. this has made me more concerned as it runs, and against a background of the president apparently having a certain
distrust of intelligence agencies generally, it does make me a bit concerned that if there is not full political support for what we do together, and total trust in the relationship, that it could do it some damage. this is, indeed, as you say, the closest intel relationship anywhere in the world. we are pretty much interchangeable. we are interdependent. and at a time when world is full of so many dangerous events and so many bad guys out there, a lot of cyber and terrorist and other attacks, we need this thing to work. so the simplest thing of all is to close this down. nobody has to say, sorry, we got it wrong. but to say something in my judgment like we're glad to accept a british government's assurances that is not true, then we can turn the page, get on with life because this is too important a subject to mess about with. >> our two nations have fought shoulder to shoulder in so many campaigns, perhaps the next campaign will be against misinformation. former ambassador peter
westmacott, thank you very much for joining us from our london bureau tonight. >> thank you. and coming up this evening, first daughter gets ready to take her new position in the west wing where the trump family business southern division is quickly taking up residence. this is "the 11th hour." this is the silverado special edition. this is one gorgeous truck. oh, did i say there's only one special edition? because, actually there's five. ooohh!! aaaahh!! uh!
her own line of merch is getting an office in the west wing. ivanka trump will join her father's team, not as an official staffer on the federal payroll. as first reported by politico, she won't be sworn in, she won't hold an official position. she will not draw a salary. but she will have an office on the second floor of the west wing not far from the oval office. in that same article as this, ivanka is in the process of obtaining security clearance and will receive government-issued communication devices. in the first 60 days of president trump's term, you may have already seen ivanka alongside world leaders like canadian prime minister justin trudeau, with whom she attended a broadway show this weekend, and most recently, german chancellor angela merkel. she was also the subject of a withering "snl" parody ad for the latest fictional addition to her product line, the new fragrance, complicit. a source familiar with ivanka