tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC March 31, 2017 9:00am-10:01am PDT
democratic witch hunt. look at what flynn said about i'm m immunity last fall on "meet the press." >> when you're given immunity that means you have probably committed a crime. >> white house insiders reporting on who gave secret information to devin nunes. but they're not talking. >> i'm not talking about anything. >> have you spoken to president trump? >> i have to get to work. >> can you tell us anything about which trump officials were mentioned in the documents give ton chairman nunes. >> no thanks. >> can you tell us if there was any corroboration with russian officials by the obama administration. >> i have no idea. >> can you tell us anything, any information about the current investigation going on by charnl
-- chairman nunes. >> have a good day. >> can you give us any information sir. >> here at nato headquarters calling on nato to do more against terrorism. >> wement to discuss how we can build on their already important involvement in the fight to defeat isis and other actions that nato can provide that bring stability to the middle east. i'm delighted to be here, it's good to see all of you. >> what would you like to see nato do on isis mr. secretary? will you take any questions, sir? >> good day, i'm andrea mitchell at headquarters of nato in brussels. secretary rex tillerson called on nato to do more against isis
and he tried to reassure that the u.s. is not retreating from the world, but most officials here are a little be wilderred by the goings on in washington. how do you explain michael flynn, one of president donald trump's closest advisors seeking immunity to give testimony to the justice department. and the president echos flynn's lawyer claims that this is all an unfair prosecution tweeting that it is a democratic witch hunt. peter alexander is following all of this, and joining us now, nbc news national security analyst jeremy barb as wesh as well. all of the machinations through immunity. he said he has a story to tell, what is the message there. whom is he messaging, and the
reaction that is being reported from the hill that they're not having it right now? what do you make of it? >> yeah, andrea, i was chief council, and we looked at immunity offers by witnesses in a number of investigations. when a lawyer says my client has a story to tell and he needs immunity to tell it, that means to me that he wants to testify about people hire in his chain of command, but he cannot do it because to do so would expose him to criminal liability. so he needs the justice department and the congressional committees to immunize his testimony so it can't be brought against him at trial. you don't say you have a story to tell you f you just a a book in you or you sit down for an interview. when you speak of a story to tell in the context of immunity, you say i have a story to tell about criminal conduct, but in
order for that criminal conduct not to wash back on me, i need immunity. this is extremely sophisticated. it does not just seeking immunity or making sure that people looking, but in order to get that hit, your client really, really needs it. >> i'm not a lawyer and neither is peter, but we both get it, right? what is the signal to the white house, and how do you explain the president's tweet today. >> first of all, to be clear to the audience, it doesn't mean a crime was committed here, but as you played earlier even in this broadcast, it was michael flynn who said if you're looking for
immunity you have committed a crime. just by appearances it looks problematic for him and others around him. president trump, as you know, coming out and lashing out to this effect earlier. this is what he wrote a short time ago. mike flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt, excuse for big election loss and by media and democrats for historic election loss. he is trying to push back on what i am told was brought broadly on a rush that issue that infuriates himself so much that the story continues to be out there, but the white house's own handling of it with reports by at least three officials providing information to devin nunez e nunes on what was a side story.
>> and to germmy, you have the washington post and aids saying they're the sources. we showed them being welcome the attempts to interview them this morning by our teams, but these are young people at the nsc, the likelihood they would be doing this for devin nunes, you know the culture of this place what do you think? >> they will talk about classified information. sometimes they bring members down and they brief them on the situation in syria. there is really no reason to go just to republican or democratic, and the and the thing that makes this so troubling is that it is not done in a general con dex of hey,
let's share information with the hill, it's done in the context of a current investigation that chairman nunes was leading and the purpose of this information, if you believe they discolored it incorrectly or not, the purpose was to throw off the investigation that was supposed to be participate and professional and give the chairman ammunition to drask the investigation. so this is important for a white house staff who is supposed to be investigating a white house. i can't think of another time this was done and any senior person at the white house who believes in tacting appropriately would authorize this. >> and at the same time, sean spicer and devin nunes are both saying the sources were not from the white house.
the reporting puts the lie to bed. you have sean spicer about to come out for the briefing, where does this put the white house credibility. >> he would say t was not a white house official. this is what he said a week ago. he said it didn't pass the smell test that he would get information and then come back. he says i was just characterizing his own comments here. but the bottom line you speak about the crisis of credibility. there are so many issues that should be easy for this white house to communicate about. even if they don't talk about the sources, who let them in is relevant as an issue to provide light on this. but as we speak about that process and his criticisms of anonymous sources, it was
because of this at the white house that we know he was on the grounds last tuesday. >> if i could just jump in here, the two things that the chairman said that i think were interesting, is he said i have a duty to tell the president. i mean, the president's own staff had the information, they may have a duty to tell the president, the chairman has a duty to the american people, so i think that was misleading by the chairman that he had some duty to tell the president, and he implied that a whistle-blower provided this to mim, but it was the white house staff, and he told eli lake, a writer for blo bloomberg review. eli lake wrote a piece that says devin nunes mislead me and this
is a gut punch to his credibility. >> thank you for that, and thank you peter for saying it was not sean spicer, it was devin nunes that laid that out. we will be watching sean spicer live once the briefing starts in about 40 or 50 minutes from now, and chuck todd is the nbc news political director, the moderator of "meet the press," hey, chuck. this, i mean it is really bizarre to be here watching it from this perspective. you're hearing all of these leaders saying what is going on in washington, and you have secretary tillerson, and secretary mattis trying to explain what the policy is, but it is countered by a tweet. >> that's right and you have a presidency that is beyond saying
it is in crisis mode, it is, you know, on the brink, the question is on the brink of what? on the brink of collapse? on the brink of being a temporary lame duck presidency. they don't think there s a political penalty to buck him. the russia cloud darkens all of the time, and all of these problems right now that they're dealing with front and center are self inflicted by one person, the president of the united states that could not help himself with a tweet on this wiretapping nonsense that essentially untraveling ten days of all things russia in their part of this story. then he drove a wedge in his own party to go after the freedom
caucus. he has to go find a dance partner and he is alienating both of his potential dance partners on that front, on the normal political scale he has problems. throw in the fact that you have a president that cannot accept the fact that russia interfered in this election. until he accepts that fact, it will plague him. the world must be panicked that if he is tested right now by a putin in the baltics, by north korea, is the united states prepared to lead in a crisis right now for the world? >> and it becomes so hard for those going to moscow next month, and the president is now being invited by putin for a meeting.
how does he deal with this after all he said about putin, embracing him before and since the election, as well as this investigation which -- can only get more complicated and is so compromised. >> i have no idea how they can have a successful trip to russia under any circumstance. it is to me a trip that is fraught with peril. he was supposed to be someone that could deal with rogue actors. he, himself, is he ready for this moment? i think that you have to ask yourself is this the right time for the senior most national security officialing to be meeting with the russian
president? and the london based economist, the cover of the magazine out today, reflects the image of a president who, a white house that is diminished and a president who is digging himself deem e deeper and deeper into a hole on a golf course, which is appropriate given how many weekends they have been playing golf. the fact is not only did he align himself with his fired national security advisor on the issue of immunity, but he is repeating the lie that this was a big victory in the election, and he is describing it at a democratic witch hunt. >> currently senator marco rubio
indicated to this day there are government attempts emanating from russia. attempts to infiltrate folks close to senator rubio now. we see the pattern here. if you talk tough on putin, and you're in the united states government, there is, perhaps, you will come under siege or attack. so the president, if he cannot accept that there is russian interference in our democracy, and he fights it, this story will consume him and his presidency will never get going and never get off of the ground. he has to figure out like bill clinton did, put wattwahite wat a box. compartmentalize it. it's not easy, suck it up, admit it needs an investigation.
>> chuck todd, make sure you tune in for him at 5:00 p.m. daily. mtp daily and on sunday it is "meet the press kwlgts. this sunday, mitch mcconnell, the man of the hour right now, will be joining the show. we'll have more from bruszles in a few moments, but right now back to peter alexander. >> coming up here next, president trump calling out members of his own party for defying him on health care. we're going to speak to michael steele live. you have access to the right information at the right moment. ♪ ♪ and when you filter out the noise,
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back now live on msnbc as the white house tries to shake off the ever growing saga of russia's meddling, they're dealing with a civil war in the republican party. before the news broke, the president started the day off by lashing out on right-wing republicans. >> it's not going to change what i'm going to do, my constituents sent me here to drain the swamp. we were excited when we heard
trump was coming to help us drain the swamp, now he is taking advice from the swamp creatures. >> i can understand his personality taking this as a personal affront. he certainly got very helpful and productive in the negotiations, i'm not thinking about the next election, i'm thinking about solving the problem. >> i don't work for the president or the lieadership, i work for the people that sent me here. >> man, i just want to open this up to you, help me out right now, the president came in with control of the senate and the house, all of the votes in the house he needed, but now they're be neat that 216 mark as it were because of all of the fighting in the party right now. can the president and the party find the unity it needs to establish anything? >> part of the problem is that he doesn't have a phil soft kal
anchor that is tethered to the republican party. you have divisions that have not been dealt with that is the party's position on this, that, or the other thing. so you have these coming together, and for a lot of those conservatives, the repeal part was the most important part. the fact that they didn't take that into account in getting behind the ryan bill really set this in motion long before you got to the friday -- >> what act when you're ripping on the freedom caucus on one side and the democrats on one side. >> the dems are a separate piece. i think first he has to reconcile himself with the base, the party, the folks elected by his base around the country. he has to get on the same page with them. you talk about the dems and you kind of expect that, but you need those members at some point. and then of course when you're talking about on the spending
side, you have to get these guys to the table that came to washington to cut spending. >> he is trying to cut out talk aboutrussia right now. michael flynn's lawyer has asked for immunity. he says here is what the head of the house oversight academy, the republican, jason chaffitz said about that. >> it is interesting to me, i don't think congress should give him immunity. if there is an open investigation, it should not happen, and i don't think the president should be weighing in on this, they are the ones that would prosecute something. they were waiting on the irs scandal. i don't think that trump should be weighing in on this. i don't think he should be given
immunity. >> president trump saying he should push for immunity in this, what do you make on this as they try to get out from under this. >> the white house hurt themselves by putting a fingerprint on this. they cannot afford to put their fingerprint on thing sis -- >> he did it when he put his fingerprint on it hours lat, so they're right, there should be no immunity granted. let it play itself out. if you have something to say, and the fact that as mr. flynn said himself, why would you want immunity unless you did something wrong, right? everybody is now going to take a more cautious approach here because they put it on the table. the white house will not weigh in on it. >> i will make you professor
steele for a moment. approval ratings stuck in the 30s and 40s. hb erik failed twice. they are investigating links to russia. as we go forward, and as you try to grade this, it is still it is still incomplete. there is almost nothing they can hang their hats on right now. what is the first the president should do to redirect the conversation. >> first, judge gorsuch. get that nomination completed. get that done, check that off, and reset after that. >> that is something that motivates the base as we talk about. we're going to send it back to andrea mitchell in brussels where rex tillerson had his first meetings with nato officials. that is coming up next on msnbc.
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andrea mitchell at nato head quarters. >> today secretary of state tillerson tried to reassure allied about candidate donald trump's embrace of vladimir putin. signaling that the u.s. no longer places a priority on a political exit for syria's dictator bashir al assad. i asked boris johnson today about all of that. >> what do you think of tillerson saying that assad will have to remain. there cannot be a focus on assad's removal from syria? >> we certainly think it is right to focus on fighting. we also believe that resolution 2254 is very important and for the long-term good of the syrian people there must be a transition away from the assad regime that dealt so much death and destruction to the people of syria.
joining me now is the former supreme command ally leader. and richard stangle. an msnbc political analyst. welcome to you both. first of all here at nato, how important is it for the u.s. to reassure the alliance to be part of nato. did tillerson do that job today? >> it is critical. our strongest pool of partners in the world, andrea, bar none are nato al llies. i characterize it has better than nothing. nato had a shift the dates of the meeting. he parachuted in, he is leaving almost immediately, but it is better than nothing. it at least sends a signal of solidarity. whether or not that gains real
traction in the alliance will commend on how much more investment this administration makes and indeed in the summit coming up at the end of may when president trump himself will meet nato. that will be one to watch. >> he only stayed on the ground for our hours, they rescheduled for his benefit. he came, he listened, and he spoke briefly and he left before the closing statement of the secretary general. there is a little bit of a slight to the leadership here. it was interesting on a friday afternoon why he could not stay a little longer, he has his own plane. he doesn't have a deputy or under secretaries. they sent some ambassadors to the white house for approval, they're beginning to make progress, but he has a big china summit next week with the president, and russia after that. is there any indication of
getting up to speed on the policy side? >> one of the great things is the level of expertise and talent and deep experience in all of those foreign countries. when you're preparing for a trip to china, there are experts who have been studying it for years and years. they're not trying to change the preparation. the problem with this 2% thing with nato is it doesn't seem like the president understands it. the nato member countries all bought apartments in a trump condominium and their not paying their maintenance charges and they knee to tee up. it's just not like that. when we spend 2% of our gdp, we have a much larger economy than the other countries and that's why we do pay more. >> and the fact is that the germans pushed back on that in a briefing with us saying we have
the migration crisis, the refugee crisis caused by wars they didn't start, franly, when you look at what is happening in iraq. and they do things we're not doing in terms of taking in these people. does anyone really want a fully militarized germany. >> and you could argue what they're doing taking in a million and a half refugees is a national security issue if is in our benefit. the obama administration could not bring in 10,000 because of the congress and now with the refugee ban essentially executed by the trump administration, we're not doing our fair share when it comes to refugees. >> on the issue of terrorism and counterterrorism, through tillerson here today, london had terrorism last week, not isis,
but there was a lot of people from different countries that were affected by that. it's just after the first anniversary of the terror attack at the airport here in brussels and we're demanding they do more? i asked that question of the secretary general today. let's watch. >> secretary tillerson asking too much of nato? in seeing that nato's central mission has to be against terrorism? >> no, because they're all fighting terrorism for decades and that is exactly what we doing. nato has involved it's directive offense clause. article 5 was for the terrorist attack on the united states and hundreds of thousands of europeans and from north amer a america, they have paid the ultimate price in the military operation which was a response
to terrorist attacks in the united states and the mission in afghanistan. so we're present in iraq, working with partners in jordan, syria, and indonesia, and it is all to fight terrorism. >> so it is very clear that nato is in afghanistan, nato is helping us with the plans in iraq. it is hard to imagine much more ak sacrifice from nato as an alliance. >> i think we could imagine a greater nato effort against the islamic state, and it would look like what we did in afghanistan. so a generally speaking when i had command of nato, 50,000 allied troops there. we have almost no one in the fight. we had to go to nato and the
general at his word and say yes, you did participate in the counter terrorism, and now you need to do so in iraq and syria. it is one that we should continue to focus them on. >> i appreciate that correction, thank you for your insights, thank you very much. rick stangle, he left here without taking questions. he continues to avoid media interactions. he did have a news conference in turkey yesterday, what about the public diplomacy aspects of the job that you know so well, that was part of your mandate. >> yes, i think it is unfortunate andrea when you're the secretary of state you are in effect the ambassador for american foreign policy around the world. you're the representative of that. you'recticarctic lulator. when he shows that he is not
transparent, it encourages county trays to not take questions themselves. he just came from turkey where they imprison more journalist than any other country in the world and he only brought to american journalists and he didn't take questions. it implicitly empowers the au autocratic regimes. he did take two questions at a news conference i understand, but he did not bring in the press corps has previous secretaries back to harry kissinger have. thank you, for now back to peter alexander in washington. peter. >> thank you, coming up here next, more on the major story that we're following here in washington. michael flynn requesting immunity. that question for now is rejected by the senate intelligence community. you're watching "andrea mitchell
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i'm going to tell you, it's unbelievable. >> michael flynn there leading those chants of "lock her up" last year at the republican conventi convention. now flynn is the one seeking immunity for the testimony in the russian investigation russian sources telling us that the senate refused that request at the time. the guardian political reporter, nick, we will get to you in a moment, ladies first, you have more reporting about some of the conversations with michael flynn. >> yes, we learned that the u.s. and u.k. investigation officials discussed shared concerns over his potential ties to russia before he was named as national
security advisor. when flynn was the director of the defense intelligence agency, she had access to previously classified material in moscow. it has been highly redistricted under the russian president. it speaks to the very complicated weapon of connections that long predates his time with trump. >> and he was filing to be a foreign agent. giving his past relationship, he was working with a group that was looking to furniture turkey's interest. i want to give you information, we're getting information from congressman schiff's office. he is saying the house intelligence committee also received an offer requesting im
well. he said i made a formal question to provide a bank account check and document so we can see if he properly reported work by a foreign entity. but you just rote wrote an arti about the prerequisite for the jobs in the white house, it was loyalty. what is the challenge it presents for the administration as they undermine what they're trying to accomplish here. >> the problem, peter, is the president came in with a bevy of aides and people from a long came pain that were well established. the people that stuck with him or came to him first when no one
else would. it was different than having the top drawer people of his chooting. he is de -- choosing. he is dealing with the fallout from that, and the people that came into his white house through the rnc. we saw a top aide is going to leave and go to the outside group. and he needs people like that into the white house. >> adam schiff just tweeted they also received at the house intelligence community that they are basically still considering that right now. i want to ask you sabrina about the most recent shake up. the names people will not be familiar with.
the support of the administrations outside. what does this say about the infighting right now. there are so many factions in the white house. >> we know the administration was frustrated they didn't have the sufficient support from the outside for the way that health care was handled last week. the support through the house republican plan and in the end, the political groups are supposed to buy into the agenda. they're saying this is a move to try to enhance his support on the outside, but but know she was brought in. so reince priebus who has the republican view in the white house is losing a top lieutenant. you have that faction and the steve bannon and steve miller faction. and sources are telling me that david urbin, the man who helped flip the state of pennsylvania is being considered
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welcome back to the nation's capitol. we want to take you back to andrea mitchell who is in brussels today at the nato headquarters. >> reporter: thank you, peter. let's turn back to michael flynn, that offer to testify to congress if he gets to immunity. the president's tweet slamming the investigation as a democratic witch hunt. what is the fallout? senator ben cardin is the top democrat on the foreign relations committee and joins me now. thank you very much. what was your reaction to donald trump's tweet supporting michael flynn whom he fired as national security adviser? >> andrea, it's good to be with you. clearly, the offer of immunity is way too early to be talking about immunity. i was glad to see the senate intelligence committee turn that down. this is, of course, a bipartisan
investigation under a republican-controlled senate. so the president's tweet is very difficult to have any credibility whatsoever. his support for michael flynn, we'll see. we'll see where the facts lead. and what connection michael flynn brings to the trump campaign. >> let me ask you about something the white house wants to see as a big success story, which is neil gorsuch. you have said that you won't support him, but where do you stand on cloture? you have two democrats supporting him now and it's unclear if being able to hold this filibuster together will work. >> this started many years ago when republicans refused to bring up president obama's judgeships, including the district court court of appeals
vacant when president trump took office if the republicans had their way. and what the republicans did with marek garland holding that open for over a year. the only way to avoid a fight on the cloture vote is for senator mcconnell to meet with senator schumer and have a clear understanding how the rules are going to be fairly applied in the united states senate, because there's not a lot of confidence among democrats today. >> well, short of that, where would you stand on the procedural vote? >> well, it's in context to the procedural vote. we don't know when, in fact, that's going to be offered. you would hope there could be accommodations reached. but under the current circumstances, it's very difficult for many of us who want to avoid a fight to say that you can unilaterally agree to everything the republicans want. they're saying trust us. how do we know what they'll do
next how do we know they won't exercise the nuclear option on a nonjudicial appointment if they can't get their way? i think there has to be some understanding as to the rights of both the republicans and democrats, the majority and the minority. at this point, we don't have that confidence. >> and how is your confidence in the secretary of state? you've got oversight over the state department. he so far is supporting these deep cuts, which even mitch mcconnell has said would be dead on arrival. >> well, the cuts in the president's so-called budge tote the department of state, a 36% cut, would very much impede the ability of us to prevent conflicts, to maintain peace. we're moving ahead in iraq to get isil out of iraq. but if you don't support a functioning government that can provide security, that's going to be shortsighted. so i am very disappointed about
mr. trump and mr. tillerson supporting those kind of cuts in the state department. >> senator, thank you very much. have a great weekend. more ahead right here on "andrea mitchell reports." we'll be right back. uh, excuse me, waiter. i ordered the soup... of course, ma'am. my apologies. c'mon, caesar. let's go. caesar on a caesar salad? surprising. excuse me, pardon me. what's not surprising? how much money matt saved by switching to geico. could i get my parking validated? fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. the markets change... at t. rowe price... our disciplined approach remains. global markets may be uncertain... but you can feel confident in our investment experience around the world. call us or your advisor... t. rowe price. invest with confidence. (i wanted him to eat healthy., so i feed jake purina cat chow naturals indoor,
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peter @peteralexander. craig melvin is next right here on msnbc. good afternoon to you. craig melvin here. we are just moments away from today's white house press briefing. a live look there at 1600 pennsylvania. when that press briefing starts, sean spicer will most certainly be asked about the developments on president trump and russia. first, congress weighs in on michael flynn's offer to tell all in exchange for immunity. the senate intel committee says no, thanks. also, late word that he also offered to do the same thing for the house committee. we've got nbc news reporters spread across the country. halle jackson is at the white house, kelly o'donnell is on capitol hill. and david brody covers the white house for the christian broadcasting network. kelly o.