tv MSNBC Live MSNBC March 31, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
heard in some legal circles that the president could have exerted legal authority with him and sally yates and others, it's quite the opposite. again, i think compared to the narrative you hear from a lot of folks in this room all the time is a little bit opposite. here you have a president who is telling mike flynn and others to go up there, make sure -- in fact, we talked the other day with members of the administration we volunteered. the administration is doing everything it can to get to the bottom of this in an appropriate way. that is an important distinction that's been lost on a lot of you, that every action we've taken, we've gone up here and talked about russia and the lack of connection. we've talked about the fact that every single person who was briefed came away and said none exists. yet at the end of the day, the narrative still comes to us, and now we're going to the point where we actually encourage people to go talk to the house and senate committee and the appropriate investigators so they can continue to get to the bottom of this. i think that's quite the opposite of what you would
normally think that somebody who was not trying to get to the bottom would do. aman. >> on taxes and trade, if i could. back on february 9th, the president said that he would be presenting a phenomenal tax plan in the next two or three weeks. tomorrow is april 1st. we haven't seen that tax plan. can you tell us when the president is going to meant his plan? >> i think, as you noticed yesterday, secretary mnuchin and gary cohen and others on the team talked to the president about the pres a i think we are working on engaging with y stakeholders. when we feel it's appropriate, that the president is given the appropriate amount of feedback, we'll start to set out the appropriate outline and process that we envision. but at this time that discussion is ongoing. we recognize -- as you know, we anticipated fully being engulfed in health care right now, and i think that we're accelerating that. the president has his teamworking overtiteamwork
i -- team working overtime. he's giving them feedback of what he wants and how he wants to see it, but it's taking time. >> is this going to be like the health care where we thought we were going to see a proposal from the white house, but in the end the president signed on to paul ryan's plan. >> i dispute that we signed on to ryan's plan. we worked in the house, and i would suggest to you we did not sign onto a plan. it was something both sides worked on, we worked with the senate as well. i would assume hopefully we would come up with a plan we all agree on. the president will come out with principles as the process moves forward. i'm sure we'll have a robust debate about aspects of that plan, certain provisions and other tax pieces, but we're going to work with the house and senate on it. >> on trade -- the president during the campaign, he's now gearing up for this meeting with chinese president at mar-a-lago.
in the campaign, he suggested that on day one he would declare china a currency manipulator. he hasn't done that. why hasn't the president followed up on that campaign promise? >> i think we need to have that meeting with president xi. i'm sure there will be a lot of discussions about our economic relationship. so we are days away from that, and let's see what those -- i just don't want to prejudge. we're days away from it and i know there are lots of issues that need to come up. olivier? >> i have one on china, one on the middle east. does the administration prepare to offer a review on china's trade status? >> at this time the two trade executive orders are where we're going to look. i think we've got a lot. obviously that's anssue we would probably hope to have the u.s. trade representative confirmed. bu that's a combined decision.
i think in consultation with the department of commerce and the department of treasury. but let's see how we go first. >> can you clear up where the president stands on whether bashar assad is a legitimate president of syria? >> i think with respect to assad, there is a political reality that we have to accept in terms of where we are right now. we lost a lot of opportunity the last administration with respect to assad, and i think that our statement that both you and ambassador hailey gave yesterday and secretary rex tillerson was reality. we have to face isis, but china has action in syria and iraq, and defeat of isis is foremost among those priorities and that's why forces in the global coalition is partnering with
local forces in iraq and syria. but i think there is a bit of political reality with respect to where we are now versus where we were the last administration in terms of there being a -- there is not the opposition that existed last time and the opportunities that existed last time. >> it sounds like you're saying whether or not he's legitimate, if you were to declare him illegitimate, there is nothing you can do about that. >> i think there is a bit of reality that has to be addressed with respect to the opportunity and the options that we have now that we don't have or they had in the last administration. and there is a reality that just doesn't exist in the same way. john christopher. >> thank you. what's really the end game for mr. assad when the president speaks to his allies as nato partners? obviously, assad is not going to retire somewhere in the south of france. something has got to give. what is the thought there? what is the disposition, the
conversation in tes of assad, who is very close. we would like to have a warm water port in the mediterranean. >> i think we believe there is a need to deescalate violence and have a political process. the syrians will decide their own political future including the u.n. security council resolution 2254. but there is a bit of, as i mentioned just a second ago, there is a bit of reality on the ground in terms of what the options are. >> during the presidential campaign, the president said he was with the state on north carolina's law abandoning transgender people from using certain restrooms. the democratic governor yesterday signed a deal to replace that law with a new measure that many say is still discriminato discriminatory. does the president support this law? >> he believes in state's rights, so -- >> what is the president's
personal view on bathroom access for transgender people? >> i think the president has made this clear -- this issue came up when caitlyn jenner came to trump tower and he said he didn't really care. i think he thinks it's a state issue, one that doesn't really need federal attention. matt? >> given that it's closure day, why would the white house not be releasing the president's 2016 tax returns given that conceivably those can't be under audit yet while the audit has obviously been the reason for why you haven't released those past returns? >> asked and answered. the president has been very clear about his tax returns and his position on that. the governor requires every federal employee at a certain level to file these financial disclosure forms that anyone in america can go onto. it will be the first time, i believe, and i don't want to get ahead of the background briefing and give away the good stuff. but i believe this is the first
time they're on the white house website. we're making them more accessible and more available than in history. >> why not just supply them? >> these areequired by law. these lists, for everyone not familiar with them, t financial disclosure forms, i think it's called a 278, reveal every asset you own, every debt that you have, your spouse's income, your spouse's employment, holdings you have, credit card debt. it is a fairly comprehensive undertaking of every asset that a person owns, every debt that they have, and i think that that is a very clear understanding of the assets that people have, the value of those assets both in terms of whether they're worth something or the liabilities that they're incurring. that is a very, very transparent way of being able to understand someone -- and so to equate the two is rather -- >> sure, i was just using that as a jumping off point for the tax returns. i'll jump back.
if the audit is not the reason for the returns -- >> but you also remember that taxes aren't due until the 15th of april. >> so can we expect them the 15th of april? >> i don't know. i'm worried about getting my own done. but i'll -- again, i think that respectfully, you look at what we're doing going, frankly -- and this will be discussed when this is done -- but i think there is an element of going above and beyond what has been done in the past to make sure people have access to this. there is a lot of people -- i think one of the really interesting things that people are going to see today, and i think it's something that should be celebrated is that the president has brought a lot of people into this administration and this white house in particular who have been very blessed and very successful by this country and have given up a lot to come into government by setting aside a lot of assets. and i think it speaks volumes to the desire for a lot of these people to fulfill the president's vision and move the
agenda forward that they are willing to list all of their assets, undergo this public scrutiny, but also set aside a lot. because you'll see that people are often told they have to sell an asset or get rid of something to come serve in the government. there is a lot of people who have done a lot to come into this administration to give back that have been inspired by the president's victory and the president's agenda to move the country forward. jim? >> general flynn's attorney said that his client has a story to tell. is the white house concerned that general flynn has damaging information about the president, his aides, his associates about what occurred during the campaign with respect to russia? >> nope. >> the other thing i wanted to ask you to follow up on that is, you were just saying a few moments ago that some of this information that would be helpful to the committee, you were talking about evelyn far
cafarkas and things like that, that seems to be prior to the election. but tapping the phones prior to the election, "just found out obama had my wires tapped prior to the victory." i want to be clear, is the white house providing any information to these intelligence committees that would draw these members to the conclusion that there was some kind of surveillance going on before the election as the president originally alleged? >> again, i don't want to specifically get into it, but i think if we're splitting hairs about what day of the calendar it was, that's a pretty interesting development. i think that we have now come to a place where i think we can -- >> it's the president's allegation. >> i understand that, but if the allegation is, well, it was actually on the first of december or the 10th of december versus the 31st of october, i think we're starting to split some serious hairs here. again, it's interesting that now we're arguing over the date, not the substance. and the substance is, why were people using government
resources, violating civil liberti liberties, potentially, looking into people's backgrounds to surveil them, unmask them, provide them to sources, spread classified information, make it available to others, spread it to places they weren't supposed to, use it -- >> but -- >> hold on. i think it's interesting because, again, i get your question. but if what we're really arguing is did it happen on a monday or tuesday or did it happen on the st versus the 7th or the 8th, i think we've lost focus here. >> there is allegations of surveillance, and now the dates are complaining ihanging. >> i didn't say they were changing, just to be clear. it's fascinating to me we are now arguing over the date, not the substance. i understand your point, and if we get down to that, we come out and you really want to get into what date, but i think it is really getting lost in this debate that american citizens,
who were not government employees at the time, who are not targets of stuff, potentially were surveilled, had their information unmasked, made it available, it was politically spread. all of this should be very concerning to people that an administration or people in the administration, people serving in government who are provided classified information, given clearance in the trust of the united states government, misused, mishandled and potentially did some very, very bad things with classified information. that astonishes me that that is not the subject of this, that all of this is happening in our country and yet the subject -- and again, we talk about what door someone came in, what date it happened. there is a concern that people misused, mishandled, misdirected classified information, leaked it out, spread it out, violated civil liberties and the potential that that happened
should concern every single american. >> to follow up on that, i think we are concerned about the substance just as much as the process. but the details matter, but i just want to make sure, you clearly -- because it seems like you're going farther than what we heard in previous briefings. it sounds like you are, just as the president is, alleging that the obama administration conducted unlawful surveillance on the trump campaign and trump transition team. do you have evidence of that? >> i don't. i know that what has been provided to, as i said in the statement, i believe that what has been providednd will be provided to members of both committees, i think, should fuher their investigation. i think that the revelations of evelyn farkas who played a senior role in the obama administration going on the record to talk about how they politically used classified information is troubling. i believe that the reports that are coming out day by day that
nbc just reported, that john just detailed that fox has reported, day by day more and more we're seeing the substance of what we're talking about continues to move exactly in the direction the president spoke about in terms of surveillance that occurred. that should be very troubling. that, frankly, should be something that everyone looks at and says, what's going on here? why did it happen? who did it and how are be we go to get to the bottom of it. steve holland. >> the president yesterday said the meeting next week with china will be a difficult one, and he referred to massive trade deficits. now, what sort of plan is he hoping to set this week? why is he being so difficult? >> there's big issues. we have both national security issues in terms of our political posture towards north korea, the threat of a missile that extends further and further, the tests
that they're using, their nuclear capability. those should all be very concerning. and on the trade front, we have serious concerns with what they're doing, our trade practices with them, some of the things that were mentioned in the past. there is a lot of areas that we need to be concerned about with trade. and i think, you know, this isn't a sit around and play patty cake kind of conversation. they're big issues. the president has been making it very clear for decades, frankly, of the challenges we face, and i think he wants to have a very good and respectful and healthy relationship. but he also wants to make sure he tackles the challenges and problems that are facing american workers and american manufacturers and get to them. first skype seat, maurice goodman from wbb in philly. >> in philadelphia, randall
jefferson. the president says he tends to deny funding to cities that share information. attorney general sessions recently suggested that cities could not only lose future funds but the federal government may require them to pay back grants. will there be a -- when will this take place and will that money be reallocated to other departments like department of education or hpcus? >> well, i'm not -- i would say that the president finds it unacceptable that some localities and counties and potentially some states have prioritized a political agenda over the safety of their people by flattering our nation's immigration laws becoming
so-called sanctuary cities. the failure to follow federal law can have devastating consequences for our cities. places like chicago there have been escalated violence. states that have criminals committing egregious acts are running around the state. with respect to the budget piece, i think we've got an ongoing budget process and we'll have to see how many states comply and where, if any, potential savings are there and then how we reallocate them. but i think the president's budget, both his fy-17 contingency budget for spending beyond the continued resolution on april 28th and then his fy-18 budget that he's already suitted we going to reflect some key priorities, both in terms of homeland security and national defense. so we'll see where we would
reallocate any of that money, but i think the priority is clear, to get cities into compliance and to make sure we understand there is not just a financial impact to this but also a very clear security aspect of this. glen? >> two things, sean. first just a follow-up on something you said before. you said hillary clinton had personal contact with vladimir putin, and the suggestion was that wasn't necessarily appropriate. can you elaborate? >> i'm not saying the contact in and of itself was not -- >> as a private citizen or something? >> no, when you say connection are russia. the only connection putin has made is he owns condos around the world and some were sold to some russians. that's his connection. when you look at the other side, you look at what obama's connections were.
you had a secretary of state that were selling a fifth of the country's uranium. you have a concern with some of the donations they got. you have her former president getting paid for speeches, getting called by vladimir putin. secretary clinton had a reset to, quote, strengthen america. you have two sides who are actually engaging with russia, trying to talk to them, trying to leave them. yet nobody questions how she was handling it. when you talk about the stuff that went to their foundation, concerns about the one-fifth of urine up, the calls from vladimir putin, i think if you want to look at russia, there is a clear one there and one that
existed more than on this side. >> sean, inerms of the nunes chronology, just to clarify, when we're asking questions about process like gates, we're not talking about the executive process, we want to know who knew what when. >> i understand that. >> forget about the technical questions. mr. nunes was on the campus. we say we don't know who let him in the gate, and you describe this has a normal process, right? the head of the executive order committee is is said to be allowed to roemd around the executive cam pulse. he then is allowed to do information. he then goes public with that information. then seven or so days later, you say it would be appropriate for
everybody to come down here and look at it. is that a normal process? >> a, i would take issue with a number of the aspects of your chronology. number one, which you're forgetting, is that he is initially the one that publicly said well before any of this came to light in terms of the president's march 5th tweet that he was just looking into this whole matter. he, according to john roberts, in his own reporting, just said neither of those individuals as described in your paper are accurate. so i would dispute several of the pieces. and as far as him roaming around the white house -- >> that's not really what i meant. >> i understand, but you jumped to a ton of conclusions. . >> i'm focused on the substance of this, glen. where is it in your paper about
evelyn farkas and this is what they sought to do? where are the other cials? you seem to be really focused on who showed up where and what door and what happened. in answer to your question, yes, it's appropriate. to contact member of congress who has contacted him related to some of these reports, if you asked me if it's appropriate to come over here, senator schumer told me himself he was asked to come over, which happens daily. he was asked to go somewhere. he went there. he is cleared, and nothing that is inappropriate. exactly the opposite. what he did and who he saw and who he went with is 100% proper -- >> the chief of staff, to my understanding, is an attentive gatekeeper of who comes in and out of the oval office? did the chief of staff approve this? >> you're doing two things.
you're talking about the oval office and the other one is the campus. no, the chief of staff does not know every single person on the 18 acres at a given time. they are people who are appropriate and they either clear or wave through the system or are escorted on in some way, shape or form. no, we don't track every single person on the 18 acres. do we know, generally speaking, who is in the oval office? not all the time because people can go in. if there is a meeting, we sat back here. he made the announcement, and you're leaving out a key part. he actually briefed the press before he told anyone. we all found out, you, me, everyone else, found out he was coming down here after a day. while i'm not going to comment on either, i think there is an assumption that everything in the chronology and inaccurate, which i don't believe from further reporting it is.
i also believe some of the comments that have come out publicly in terms of the obama administration are conveniently left out of that discussion. i think that's interesting how nobody seems to really cover that a senior obama administration with high-level clearances talked about the spreading of classified information for political purposes and no one seemso care. >> just to be clear, mr. priebus, mr. kushner, mr. bannon did not have knowledge of his being on the campus having this interaction? >> i don't know. you asked two questions and you melded them together. nobody knew he was coming to speak to the president. he announced that on television during a press conference. >> my understanding is that dr. farrakh farkas left the administration in 2016, so why is something she said in 2017 relevant to something that happened in 2016? >> exactly. she said, i'm urging my
colleagues, i'm urging them at the hill. have you asked her? >> no, i haven't. >> no, you haven't. but she's been on television talking about what she's done -- >> i don't believe everything i see on tv. >> neither do i, but i would assume that as a reporter that actually is interested in the story, a senior obama administration official that handled russia, that -- all obama administration officials are generally -- >> she wasn't there in 2015. >> thank you, i appreciate the timeline. you seem to be rushing to her defense. at some point she came on television and talked about actions that she and her colleagues took to spread classified information. and jonathan, instead of defending her, it might be worth asking her who she's talking about, who spread is it. maybe those are the questions to ask instead of asking mel
whether a former remember. >> are you more concerned about that or russian interference in the presidential election? >> as an american citizen, i'm very concerned about the fact that people potentially were sharing information about other americans for political purposes and using classifieinformation to do so a leaking it. th shoulde concerning to everybody. >> the russian interference? >> that's not what i said. please stop trying to -- >> which is worse? >> i guess i don't -- the answer is, i think if someone is interfering with our election, that's not good. i don't think that someone revealing and leaking classified information is good, either. i'm not sure you should have to choose. i think you can have outrage and concern for both. and i don't think we should have to pick as an american whether or not which freedom we want to have undermined. i think we should expect both of them. so the idea that we should have to choose whether or not we want someone to interfere with our
election or protect our civil liberties isn't one we should want or should have question. alexis? >> can i just ask three basic kind of factual follow-up questions? you've used two phrases here today. one is politically sensitive information and the other is classified information when you're talking about what the president believes was released. because you said yesterday that you yourself had not seen the information, and that's my understanding as of today, are those terms interchangeable or are they different in terms of what you know from the podium was released? >> there's actually a classification level. there is certain sensitive information on individuals. classified is considered stuff that the government protects. then there's top secret, and without getting into it, there's a lot higher. there are differences in classification levels. so while you may not reveal a piece of classified information,
what they call pii information, is sensitive information according to government standards, so they are different. each of them has a different classification level. >> but is your understanding -- you've been told that the material the president is sharing with the committees includes classified information as well politically sensitive information. that's your understanding? >> yes. >> all right. second question, you said congressman schiff is coming today? >> i know that he is -- he has made contact and is trying to arrange a time. >> can you share with us who will be responsible for escorting him to the proper place, showing him the materials, walking him through it, letting him absorb it, is he bringing staff? can you just explain the setup? >> i don't know the answer to that question. i know they were arranging a tim
time. i know that there is follow-up at the staff level to determine all those things. >> the material the president wants to share with the house and senate committees, has it already been shared with the fbi or did the fbi already have the materials? >> i don't know. they pull it from certain agencies, so where that all came from, is it a single source or a combination? i don't know the answer to that. >> can you find the answer to that? >> i can, but there is a question whether we have the right or liability to answer it. where it came from, again, i go back to does it really matter? does it matter that the cia or the nsa or another three-letter agency? or is the issue, alexis, whether or not, as i've said before, there is a concern about what that information is doing, who used it improperly, what possibly could have happened?
again, it's where it came from. >> what i'm asking is the executive branch, the fbi, has a separate investigation. i'm asking, the president believes he has evidence that is jermaine to that investigation as broad as general comey has described. >> let me be clear. the fbi's investigation pertains particularly to russia. this is not what i believe they're investigating. >> i misunderstood. i thought the fbi had also brought the investigation beyond just simply russia. >> i don't know. i'm not aware of that. >> if you could just find out -- >> you can call the fbi. i'm not going to call the fbi and ask them what their investigation is and then you'll write a story about how i called the -- >> i'm asking a separate question. does the president believe it's important for the fbi to have the information that he finds to be so egregiously offensive, classified and politically sensitive information was shared by the previous administration?
i'm asking a really simple question. >> you think it's simple, but the reality is it depends. where it came from, who can share -- you're acting as though it's a very -- you're acting as though it's a very simple process. it depends on the level of classification, who it came from, whether they have the authority to share it. there's a lot of things that go into this, and i know it sounds really easy, it's not. i think that i know that a lot of times that just because it can get leaked out doesn't mean it's being handled appropriately. and i think there is a desire to make sure this is done correctly and within the proper guidance of who has the authority to see the right things, and that all of the procedures are followed. that doesn't mean we just get to willy-nilly pick stuff and send it around to whoever. there is a reason certain information is handled the way it is, so we protect the methods and processes that are in accordance with the intelligence counity. john? >> thanks a lot, an. thisning t republican chairman of the house oversight and government reform committee,
jason shaffitz of utah, said he does not believe the russian investigation conducted by the fbi, by the senate intelligence committee, by the house intelligence committee is a witch hunt. why does the president believe it's a witch hunt? he also said, before -- i'll get your answer to that. he also said he doesn't think it's proper for the president to sort of tweet out or comment on ongoing investigations. can you also touch on that as well? >> i think part of this sometimes comes down to who has access to what information and what they're looking at. i don't know what he has seen or not seen or whether it's appropriate, but again, i think there is a whole -- the reason that we've asked the house and senate intelligence committees to look into this is to make sure that we get to the bottom of it in an appropriate, proper manner. >> commending on an ongoing investigation, is that proper for the president? >> what ongoing? >> there is an investigation ongoing by the fbi right now, there's ongoing investigation by
the senate intelligence committee. should he be commenting on that? >> which comment are you referring to? >> about a witch hunt. >> as i just said to alexis, i think there is a difference between the investigations that have been discussed about russia that we have been very clear about and a discussion about whether something, as devin nunes has said very publicly, the information that he had with respect to surveillance during the 2016 election cycle had nothing to do with russia. so there is this seeming assumption that what the president is talking about is very clear. there is an ongoing pattern and more and more revelations that what we have seen is something potentially was very ver, very was happening and people were using classified information, not to surveil russia, but there is no investigation that i'm aware . >> so you take issue with jason
shaffitz? >> i'll let him speak for himself. my point is, though, i believe chairman nunes and others who have looked into this and seen the information are probably in a much better situatiposition t discuss the situation at hand. i'm going to chicago. >> i have a question, and if at all possible, a follow-up as well. chicago receives about $12 million a year in law enforcement assistance from the federal government. would president trump cut off those funds in a sanctuary city status even though it would break up the violence, something the president has repeatedly said needs more support? >> you talk about street violence, and then we cut off the funding for sanctuary cities. i think it would be interesting to want to send more money to a city that is allowing people to come into the country who are
breaking the law, who in many cases are committing crimes, member of gangs, and so you can't be a sanctuary city and at the same time seem to pretend or express concern about law enforcement or ask for more money when probably a number of the funds that you're using in the first place are going to law enforcement to handle the situation that you've created for yourself. i think the president's belief on sanctuary cities is one shared by upwards of 80% of the american people, that we shouldn't be using american tax dollars to fund cities and counties and in some cases potentially states that are seeking to allow people who are not legally in this country, who potentially can do us harm, to get funding. i think there is no question -- it's not a question of what he will do. his intentions have been very clear from the beginning. i think it's vastly supported by a vast majority of the american people. but i think that to suggest somehow they're not inextricably linked is a failure to fully
appreciate the scenario. >> let me follow up, then, quickly. does that give the president more concern with deporting illegal immigrants than he is with putting shooters and killers in ja? >>no, because if a shooter or killer is here illegally and is in this country, i think, again, respectfully you're delinking the two issues. if you have people who are in this country illegally that are part of a gang, that are part of their -- a threat to public safety or committing a crime, then funding that activity and allowing that to fester is in itself a problem. so by not rooting that out in the first place is allowing the problem to continue and not exactly showing an attempt to solve it in the first place. blake? >> i have questions about the executive orders that are yet to be signed. they said they have nothing to do with the trip to china next week. is it just coincidence that the
president is set to meet with the china president next week, or is this somehow setting the table for what's to come next week? >> i think they are both broad based. those duties are not something that is targeted at any specific country. i don't think you could use that as some kind of indication of any one country. i think we give up $2.8 billion a year and that comes through our borders all across. the other one specifically talks about every form of trade abuse and non-reciprocal practice that are currently contributing to our deficit. there are a lot of countries that contribute to that, and i think a lot of times the trade agreements we make in some cases have not been looked at or revised in a very long time. so for anyone to suggest it's any particular country is a misread of either one. >> do you think the president will attempt to withdraw from
keystone, a host of others. the second order talks about the first one of a 90-day review. the second one is nafta and what the president might do with that. does that move t nafta timeline movedack 90 days? does ept to see this reviewed first before nafta? >> i think he wants someone at the helm of that agency to really shelter the trade agenda. i know peter and secretary ross who were here yesterday and secretary ross and secretary mnuchin and others have been very involved in the trade agenda, but we really need someone at the front of the ship to help guide us through it. that review and others are part of that. major? >> you frequently tell us to take the president's tweets at face value and they speak for themselves. when the president says mike flynn should get immunity, is he suggesting to congress to grant immunity? >> i think mike flynn and his legal counsel should do what's appropriate for mike flynn.
>> they can't obtain immunity, it must be granted. is the president recommending to the fbi or to congress to grant immunity? that's the only way it can happen. >> i understand that, but he didn't say "congress should grant." >> what does he mean by that? >> what he means is he supports mike flynn's attempts to go up to congress and be very clear in everything they ask and what they want. >> right, but he could have just said, i testify. he said he should get immunity. i'm asking, because every lawyer who works on this tells you it's extremely important to seek it and then obtain it. there's only one way you can seek it, by being granted either by the fbi or by congress. and for the president of the united states to even lightly indicate that he is in favor of that, it seems to me is a significant development. i'm trying to find out if the president was trying to do that. >> i'm trying to answer the question which is i think -- not that i think, i've talked to the president about this, and the president is very clear that he wants mike flynn to go and be completely open and transparent with the committee, and whatever it takes to do that, he is
supportive of. >> even if he doesn't obtain immunity? >> i want to be clear. he wants him to do what is necessary to go up there and talk to the committees in the jurisdiction to get this matter behind us. >> since you talked to the president about this, he was not trying to suggest to the fbi or the justice department that it grant immunity? >> i'm not entirely sure of the process, whether congress does it or doj or both in this case. >> it would be different. >> i understand, right -- >> he's not instructing his justice department -- >> no, he's instructing mike flynn to do everything he can to cooperate and look into this. >> you said congressman schiff is coming over here. >> let me just be clear before you continue. i want to be crystal clear. i know he's communicated. our expectation -- sometimes you got -- >> the committee has asked the
white house to direct the agencies that own the intelligence documents in question to immediately provide them directly to the committee. does the white house have any problem with that? >> i believe we're looking into that. we would hope, like congressman schiff, they would come and see these documents. i know the council's office is in contact with them with respect to that. >> do you have a problem with that? >> the counsel's office is working with them. i don't want to get into how they go back and forth and make a decision on that. >> schiff is asking the same thing, too. is this a legitimate request. that's all i'm trying to find out. >> i would say the goal would be -- again, the white how else counsel's office sent that letter. they are the ones who those individuals have been in contact with. obviously we would like them to come see that information, which we think it would help them further the review of this situation. it's not my decision, major. this is a discussion that is occurring between both of those
committees and the white how else counc-- house counsel's of. the schiff piece happening in realtime, i don't know the answer because it's happening while we're here. so i don't have an answer for us on that. the white house counsel's office is in communication with the committee in particular and with congressman schiff's office about arranging how that would go down. i don't know what further discussions they've had since we've been out here. zeke? >> a few minutes ago you said the u.s. is giving up $220 billion a year in accountability. secondly, you made some serious allegations that civil liberties are handling classified information. why wouldn't the white house, if
it believes it has evidence, hand it over to the federal agency and tasked with investigating crimes? >> again, that's not -- because i think -- first of all, i don't know what we will or will not do going forward and i don't want to prejudge that. what i do know is that the house and senate intelligence committees are both the committees that the president asked on that sunday a few weeks ago to look into this. and i think that's who was conducting and who we've asked to look into it and that's appropriate. i'm not aware that anyone else has asked for that information. >> one final question. early in the briefing you said we don't track every person on the 18 acres. >> no, he asked about whether or not the chief of staff knew everyone who was on the 18 acres. that's what he asked. >> when it comes to that, do you have any new information about how the chairman did get onto the campus? >> as i said in the last few days, i'm not going to discuss -- >> will you at least give us
records? >> i think a lot of that will happen in the briefing about financial records as soon as this concludes. with that, thank you guys very much. we're going to get on to the next briefing. thank you very much. >> sean spicer ending his daily briefing. i'm katy tur in new york. it is 2:45. we have been listening to the white house briefing with secretary sean spicer. the white house believes former white house security adviser michael flynn should testify. they say it is up to flynn and his lawyers to decide if he wants immunity, but a fact check there, it is up to congress and the fbi to decide if they would even grant it. so far it is not looking good. spicer also says the white house is not concerned that michael flynn could hurt trump with his testimony. remember, michael flynn's lawyer said that he does have a story to tell. and also, the white house is trying to deflect from this conversation and the intelligence leaks by bringing up evelyn farkas and potential
clinton connections to russia and a deal about uranium. we're going to fact check all of that for you with our all-star panel of kornts and analysts who will be joining us to discuss all of this and more, but let's start with nbc's kristin welker who is at the white house. kristin, give me the highlights. >> reporter: you heard secretary sean spicer really try to deflect from this mounting controversy, essentially saying first in terms of michael flynn, the president just wants him to testify. he was asked over and over again about that early morning tweet in which president trump called the investigation a witch hunt. and when he was asked if the president effectively stands by that language if it doesn't undercut the investigation, he really backed ay from it, dodged a lot of those questions, katy, and essentially said, look, the bottom line here is the president wants him to come forward and answer questions but didn't get into the specific
language. then in terms of nunes, he has a whole lot of questions about that. can he answer yet who let him into the white house? he said he's not going to get into that. and then, of course, the questions over who specifically briefed him, he tried to walk away from some of the names that have been floated, although important to point out he didn't categorically deny that it was, in fact, white house staffers, nsc staffers. katy, the bottom line here is this is a controversy not going away. you heard spicer say the real issue here is the fact that some officials were unmasked, that their identities essentially were revealed while this surveillance was being swept up. the white house wants to be talking about that, but of course the lingering questions, was there any collaboration between the white house, between chairman nunes? that investigation by all accounts right now has been stalled because all of these mounting questions. so this continues to be a firestorm over this white house just about 70 days now into office, katy. >> kristin welker at the white
house. thank you very much. we are continuing to hear sean spicer use a couple defenses for why the reporters should be focusing on other things separate from devin nunes and where he got his information and whether or not the trump campaign had any ties to russia. and they keep bringing up one name, evelyn farkas. she's the former deputy assistant secretary of defense, and she focused on ukraine and eurasia as well as russia. she was talking about a "new york times" report on march 2nd this year, a "new york times" report that said a number of obama officials and intelligence officials were trying to get information out about the trump campaign's potential ties to russia, things that they had discovered. she was addressing these on "morning joe." i want to play that sound bite for you now. >> there is a total distortion of what i id and what i was talking about. i was talki abo the fact that -- i was outside of
government. i had noack assess to intelligence on this whatsoever, but i was concerned because i knew how the russians operate, and i was reading these reports about them hacking into the elections and then giving the information to wikipedia and that trump people, trump team people, were going to moscow and, you know, there was a lot of reporting on this. and so i got worried that the process wasn't being followed with regard to capitol hill, with regard to congress. because it wasn't clear to me that the white house was keeping them in the loop. and that was really important, especially since we're about to have a transition in the government. >> that was evelyn farkas actually yesterday defending herself against the allegations that sean spicer made yesterday that he brought up again today. she says that she was not even in office at the time or not even in government at the time, and that is true. she did resign in september of 2015. that question specifically came out in the white house press briefing. take a listen to that. >> my understanding is that dr. farkas left the administration
in 2015, so why is what she said in 2017 relevant to something that allegedly happened in 2016? >> the question i would have for you is, exactly. urging my colleagues. have you asked her? >> no. you haven't. no, no. she had been on television talking about what she's done. >> let's bring in our panel now. bill kristol is founder and editor of the weekly standard. and mike allen and democratic congressman jim from connecticut, a member of the house intelligence committee investigating russia and its alleged ties to the trump campaign. so let's start with you. sean spicer is trying to use evelyn farkas saying she was on the distribution of intelligence and trying to refocus attention of what she did and why she did it is that why the obama administration was looking into
the trump campaign. >> here on the set we've been poking around and talking about w incredible it is, how fast thisas taken off in right wing media. her name now is an incantation like benghazi used to be. we've seen again and again in the clip there, just to outline the chronology, why her as a central player, will be hard for them to sell. throughout this briefing we saw sean spicer doing this saying that chairman nunes' visit was routine and proper. it may well have been proper. but not routine. >> and still not saying who devin nunes met with but they're not denying the three names floating out there. where does this administration go next? >> for me that's the big issue. official this was an appropriate meeting, a proper meeting, he had the classifications, routine, then fine. then say who let him into the
secure facility. who let him log on to the computer. i clearedle many people into the white house when i was there. a long time ago. and it was perfectly appropriate, i would have no problem saying i cleared this person. why aren't they releasing the names of what the white house staff is doing? then if you have a name, you can say who is he reporting to? yes is he doing this? this is someone who general mcmaster wanted to fire. so so is he doing it all on his own? is there some propriety of what the obama administration had done? i don't think so. if you're work on this, you report to someone and it was someone very senior. >> during sean spicer's briefing, you weren't paying attention. if you were, you would have
heard them say they don't track everyone on the 18 acres. >> good point. >> congressman, i want to get you to weigh in. you're on the house intelligence committee. he still has not told you who he met with and what he was able to identify. i know congressman schiff will be going to th white house to review materials. the white house won't confirm what it isut it is largely believed that it is the same stuff chairman it's nunez was able to see. what's going on in your committee right now? is there a feeling that you can get things done in a bipartisan way if nunes does not step aside? >> we hope we can get the committee is the investigation back on track. we've now had a week, a week and a half pause, not tonight investigation but our oversight duties which are pretty darn important. a few people overseeing this operation so. we're really hopeful that we can get back on track. and i think bill is right. the white house could end this
story quickly by just putting out, if it has to be behind closed doors with members of the intelligence committee, putting out what the intercepts was. and then to have the chairman say here's what i did and why i did it. none of this, the run to the white house, the not bringing it back to the committee. remember, if this is true, and it's not but if it is true, that there was intelligence intercepts, that's why the committee exists to deal with that. if we agree there's a problem, to go back and say did you this wrong. none of that happened. this could all end if we get a look as i hope we will next week, at these intercepts. >> michael flynn, his lawyer says that he will testify if he is given immunity. you heard how major garrett of cbs in that press briefing room asking sean spicer whether the congress is asking the fbi to
give immunity because he supported him in a tweet this morning saying he should be granted immunity. is that proper for the president to be tweeting that, number one, and number two, would you consider giving him immunity? >> the answer, is it proper for the president to be tweeting that is almost always no. in this case the answer is certainly no. the fbi can grant immunity. they do it all the time. if the police arrest some corner drug dealer and they want to go after the king fish, they grant immunity. congress and the panel can also grant immunity but there are two interesting things about this. if you're saying i want immunity, the question is from what? and the question is, something we would need to think hard about as an intelligence community. the fbi may be investigating this guy. they may be investigating him. if they are, we don't want congress issuing a grant of immunity that completely torpedos a potential law enforcement investigation. so there's a lot to think about on this. >> congressman, do i read
between lines, it sounds like you feel like it is up likely that congress would do that? >> i would think twice about it. i would need to know two things. what it was that he has to say. let's imagine, and again this is all speculative. let's imagine that michael flynn thinks he is in some form of legal jeopardy. not bad for him to go to congress and say, i need immunity. maybe he doesn't have a story and maybe it serves the purpose of torpedoing some other investigation on the law enforcement side. i start from a position of great skepticism. >> can i say a word about the tweet? i think people are missing something. i think that tweet could have been, who knows, he tweets somewhat randomly. that tweet could have been to signal to mike flynn that he stands with him. he supports him. it was a pro flynn tweet. what you worry about, your subordinates turning on you and i think, he can't call mike flynn on the phone. i don't think that would be
proper. so therefore, how can he communicate with him? well, maybe through a tweet that says, you're the object of a witch hunt which signals, i'm going to have your back. >> the question remains, what does mike flynn snng asking for immunity does not necessarily mean you're guilty but michael flynn said himself, when do you ask for immunity, it does mean you're guilty. he said that on "meet the press" on the campaign with hillary clinton. thank you for sticking with us during that sean spicer briefing. we will be right back. had she inherited a secret family recipe for hibiscus tea. she now bottles her great grandfather's caribbean drink and she is trying to build it into a national brand. she said she needs help. we answered her call and now she is getting a your business makeover. your business 7:30. i had frequent heartburn, but my doctor recommended...
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