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tv   MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle  MSNBC  May 12, 2017 6:00am-7:01am PDT

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bombshell interview with nbc news. >> regardless of recommendation i was going to fire comey. >> changing his story, raising huge questions, this morning, donald trump defending his staff and threatening to cancel all press conferences. plus this -- was russia on his mind when he fired comey? >> when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, this russia thing with trump and russia, is a made up story. >> an exclusive new reporting that may contradict the president's story about his dinner with james comey. >> we had a very nice dinner and at that time he told me you are not under investigation. >> okay. it is those apparent contradictions that may have set president trump off this morning. check out his twitter. the president taking this dispute to a new level. this tweet just came out, james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the
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press. i got a great panel to break it down, but before we get to them i want to share part of lester holt's exclusive interview with the president in which he describes interactions with james comey which are now being questioned by people close to the director. >> let me ask you about your termination letter to mr. comey. you write, i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation. why did you put that in there? >> because he told me that. i mean he told me that. >> he told you you weren't under investigation with regard to the russian investigation. >> i've heard that from others. >> was it in a phone call? did you meet face to face. >> i had a dinner with him. he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. >> he asked for the dinner? >> dinner was arranged. i think he asked for the dinner. and he wanted to stay on as the fbi head and i said, you know, we'll consider it and see what happens. but we had a very nice dinner. and at that time he told me, you are not under investigation. which i knew anyway. >> that was one meeting. what were the other two? >> when under investigation
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you're giving all sorts of documents and everything. i knew i wasn't under. and i heard it was stated at the committee at some committee level that i wasn't. number one. >> that didn't come directly from you? >> during the phone call he said it and during another phone call he said it. once at dinner and then he said it twice during phone calls. >> did you call him? >> in one case i called him and one case he called me. >> did you ask him, am i under investigation. i asked him yes. i said, if it's possible, will you let me know am i under investigation. he said you are not under investigation. but he's given sworn testimony that there was an ongoing investigation into the trump campaign and possible collusion with the russian government. >> right. >> you were the centerpiece of the trump campaign. >> all i can tell you -- >> was he truthful when he says -- >> i know i'm not under investigation me personally. i'm not talking about campaigns, i'm not talking about anything else. i'm not under investigation. >> did you ask him to drop the investigation? >> no. >> all right. i want to bring in nbc's justice
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correspondent pete williams and nbc's peter alexander at the white house. pete williams start with you, there seems to be upset from president trump this morning as you can tell by his tweets specifically around statements coming from people close to james comey, people who are saying, well that's not exactly what happened. james comey may not have said that three times, james comey may not have requested that dinner. what have you learned? >> let's go back to the tweet to start with if we can look at it one more time. the president said that these were leaks talking about the dinner. a dinner that the president himself has just described. so i think you have to start and first of all say, assuming that mr. comey had talked about the dinner, would that be a leak, the same dinner the president just talked about. that's point one. point two is, all the people that we have talked to about this dinner, and i'll get to the substance in a moment, none of them were james comey. these were all people who had
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been told about this dinner january right after it happened, by mr. comey. this -- in other words, these were -- we talked to people who had been told about the dinner at the time. we did not hear about any of this from mr. comey himself. all right. having set that aside now, what do they say? they say first of all, despite the fact that the president said in the interview with lester twice that mr. comey asked for the dinner, they say that they were told by mr. comey that he was asked to come to the white house and one of them actually said, who calls the white house and asks if they can come to dinner. that didn't happen that way. that he was invited to the dinner, went reluctantly, felt he couldn't really -- thought it was a bad idea but couldn't say no to a request from the president. and that he actually at the time, didn't tell any of his fbi colleagues about it, he was telling friends who were outside the government or outside the fbi. and finally, what they tell us
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is, and this was first reported by "the new york times" that during the dinner the president asked him if he would be loyal and that mr. comey said, well, i can't say that in the traditional sense. i'll be honest. i'll be honestly loyal. the president said that was fine. >> amazing. peter, president trump is clearly upset this morning. what's he saying? >> we've been hearing from the president this morning in a series of tweets. one of the latest appears to be suggesting even as you noted, threatening, the former fbi director that he better hope that the conversations he had were not taped. he writes james comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. it's notable our colleague, the presidential historian michael beschloss tweeted a moment, presidents are supposed to have stopped routinely taping visitors without their knowledge when nixon's taping system was revealed in 1973. the president is also pushing back on this what is what we've
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been focused on is the inconsistencies between what he told lester holt yesterday and what his aides and frankly what his vice president had been saying publicly over the course of the last 72 hours. let me put up some of those tweets quickly. he wrote as a very active president with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy. he went on to write, maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future press briefings and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy? that's striking for a variety of reasons. the way the press understood what the reason was the decision making process was for the president announcing the firing of james comey came from a written statement from the press secretary that said it was, quote, based on the clear recommendations of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general, which also proved to be inaccurate. >> the president now seems extraordinarily fired up, threatening that he's going to toss press conferences. i want to point out that at the
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end of the first 100 days, many people started to say, especially business people in new york, listen, the president is finding his way to the middle. you are looking at steve bannon kind of pushed to the side. i've spoken to people inside the white house that said steve bannon is neutered at this point. they kept him inside the white house because he's more dangerous outside. he's tooling around, visiting reince priebus, steven miller, now the speechwriter. don't be worried. if it's not steve bannon doing this, it is president trump. that's a concern for a lot of people. i want to share what he said in that exclusive interview with lester holt last night, specifically, about deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, the man the white house originally said was behind the decision. remember, that was how president trump's letter was phrased to james comey. it's what we heard from sarah huckabee sanders, what we heard from vice president pence. take a listen. >> did you ask for a recommendation? >> what i did is, i was going to fire comey. my decision. it was not -- >> you had made the decision
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before they came in the room? >> i was going to fire comey. there's no good time to do it, by the way. they -- >> because in your letter you said i accepted their recommendations. you had made the decision? that i was going to fire regardless of recommendation. >> there was -- >> he made a recommendation. he's highly represented. very good guy. very smart guy. the democrats like him, the republicans like him. he made a recommendation but regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey. knowing that there was no good time to do it. and, in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story, it's an excuse, by the democrats for having lost. >> there's no good time to do it. one might argue right after the president was elected he could have done it but as things are getting hairier with russia he seems to have. megan murphy the editor of bloomberg business-week the issue is on newsstands right
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now. jason johnson here, politics editor at the root.com and professor at morgan state university and clint watt is a former fbi special agent. clint, to you first, your reaction to president trump's tweet james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. well if there were going to be tapes maybe it should have been before or i guess you would say they should have had dinner after the russians were in the oval office because maybe things are taped now. >> right. >> what's your take on this? >> he's threatening someone he already fired. he would make passive threats to the fbi director via twitter before he fired him. this is just galvanizing the entire u.s. government to buckle down and say i can't even trust my commander in chief to use good judgment. i mean what is the president doing at 8:30 in the morning? he's not governing. he's sitting watching and reaction the tv show that he puts on every day.
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who is in charge of this country right now? how can you, as a leader of any of these agencies, have any confidence in the commander in chief because he's saying he might be tapings to use against you later. this is damaging to the u.s. government. i can't imagine anyone would want to step in and be the new fbi director when it's obvious that he's putting undue influence, it's not the rule of law, it's the rule of trump. who could survive in an administration that way. how would you make it ten years in that job. it's impossible. pressure on the doj, pressure on the fbi, you've got pressure on the intel community. even as of last night, he was saying, if it is the russians, if we don't know it's the russians, 17 intelligence agencies said it was the russians. the russians have even taken credit for certain parts of this. it is overt. this isn't covert. what should we think of our president. he's obviously not working right now or in charge. he's sitting watching tv and tweeting. who is in charge of this country
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and the message between the vice president and trump's inner staff and the rest of the government are all inconsistent. what do you believe at this point? i sure don't know what to believe. >> all right. megan murphy, this is the threat de jour. james comey today, it could be paul ryan tomorrow, the press, democrats, what do we make of this? i said earlier people have been saying listen, they may be his family members but we should be so lucky jared and ivanka are there the voice of reason. where is the reason now? >> i think to echo what clint is saying there. this is a different level of seriousness in terms of the tweet this morning. had this not happened we'd spend this morning breaking down once again the inconsistencies an shifting story of the white house and why the director was let go. instead we'll spend an entire day talking about a president who is explicitly threatened the former now director of the fbi suggesting that he actually taped a dinner with him. again, not even shades of watergate, almost, you know, a parallel with watergate in terms
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of a tape. there is a taping system in the white house that private dinners are being recorded? that is what we're meant to believe? what kind of sitting president does put out a threat of this gravity and seriousness to a man with legitimate detractors on both sides of the aisles but a respected man known for his bipartisanship, known for being a straight shooter and pursuing independent investigations. this is going to cause tremendous uproar within the enforcement community, just that this is the level of dialog that we're out with, being carried out on twitter. >> all right. let's say a cynic would say you are part of the media and you take everything seriously and throw your hair is on fire. trump enthusiasts around the country would say this guy is serious business getting serious business done. when does that shift? many people could say, this guy has never been in government, he's never run a public company or a board to answer to or shareholders. an autocrat trying to do autocratic things. >> this is how author tare jim
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starts. >> wants to start. >> sometimes the courts will fight back, sometimes the democrats will fight back, when you have a president who basically is actively trying to destroy any sort of independent judicial agency that is supposed to keep him in check that is a president who is no longer interested in running a democracy. he is interested in asking for loyalty, and basically pushing the country whatever direction he wants regardless of law. his supporters will say we don't care about this but that doesn't really matter right now because in eight to ten months when they start losing their health care they'll put pressure on congress and congress may eventually do something to this presidency. that's the only way we'll see some sort of solution because i don't think we're going to get an independent counsel or anything from the members of congress right now. >> in terms of importance are we splitting hairs? president trump's account of did james comey ask to come to dinner did i invite him to dinner did he say i wasn't investigation three times or two times, is this that important? are we splitting hairs? where is the punch line we should be concerned about?
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>> i think it's about integrity. director comey -- >> hold on. integrity is something that went out the window a while ago. >> right. >> let's be honest, when we elected a president who had a tape -- i'm not going to use the word at this point, the "access hollywood" tape we can't say integrity. losing integrity is the issue here. people held their nose and look the other way and voted for him because i'm going to get stuff done. >> integrity of government. how can you keep the faith of the american public whenever you boss is always undermining you, always discounting what you say, calling you a liar publicly. if i'm a government official right now, what i just learned today is i'm never going to have a private conversation with the president. i will have group conference calls with multiple witnesses. if i get called to the white house i'm going to take my attorney that works at my agency and another witness with me. i can't trust what i tell the president isn't going to be
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misconstrued and used against me as soon as i don't do what he wants. if i don't follow the rule of trump and follow the rule of law i will get thrown under the bus. >> before we go if you're mike pence what does it mean? >> he went out and said the story his own president has discounted. it is about integrity but imagine if you were in a real crisis and this is a crisis james comey getting fired, imagine if we were talking about a nuclear test in north korea or a new conflict in the middle east, something that we need to believe what is coming out of the white house of the white house spokespeople about what they are saying about a legitimate direct threat to the american people. that is what i think people should be worried about in terms of can we actually believe what is coming out of their mouth and is it going to get two days in an interview with lester holt before we get the real story. >> i don't know, worrisome like commerce secretary saying bombing syria was after dinner entertainment and didn't cost anything, well, it did, lives and $180 million. all right. we're taking a break. next the president didn't just
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talk about firing comey. he also took some personal shots in that nbc exclusive. plus, was the russia investigation part of his decision. yes. and seth meyers couldn't help but notice the irony of the president's words. >> in an interview today president trump called former fbi director james comey a showboat and a grandstander. he's a showboat? if your ego was any bigger you would start putting your name on your name. kevin, meet your father. kevin kevin kevin kevin kevin kevin kevin kevin kevin kevin trusted advice for life. kevin, how's your mom? life well planned. see what a raymond james financial advisor can do for you.
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we have more on the breaking news. president trump threatening james comey on twitter this morning and it comes just a day after the president unleashed a stinging and personal rebuke of now former fbi director james comey while also denying any collusion with russia during the campaign. take a look. >> look, he's a showboat, he's a grandstander. the fbi has been in turmoil. you know that, i know that. everybody knows that. you take a look at the fbi a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil. less than a year ago. it hasn't recovered from that. i also want to have a really competent, capable director. he's not. he's a showboater. he's not my man or not my man, i didn't appoint him. he was appointed long before me.
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but i want somebody who's going to do a great job. and i will tell you, we're looking at candidates right now who could be spectacular and that's what i want for the fbi. i think that looking into me and the campaign, look, i have nothing to do. this was set up byes the democrats. there is no collusion between me and my campaign and the russians. the other thing is, the russians did not affect the vote. and everybody seems to think that. >> there is an investigation under way, an fbi investigation, is that a charade? >> i don't know if it's an fbi or -- there's so many investigations. i don't know if it's an fbi investigation or if it's congress or if it's the senate. >> james comey testified there was an fbi investigation. >> they're also helping the house and the senate so you probably have fbi, but you have house, you have senate, they have other investigation. >> but when you put out tweets
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it's a hoax and taxpayer charade are you not sending that person a message to lay off? >> i'm not doing that. i think that we have to get back to work, but i want to find out -- i want to get to the bottom, if russia hacked, if russia did anything, having to do with our election, i want to know about it. >> there are already intelligence from virtually every intelligence agency that yes, that happened. >> i'll tell you this, if russia or anybody else is trying to interfere with our elections, i think it's a horrible thing and i want to get to the bottom of it and i want to make sure it will never ever happen. >> well, president trump wants to get to the bottom. he's in luck. we're getting there quickly. mike viqueira is live on capitol hill. michael, what's the reaction to those sharp comments by the president about james comey? i mean, the showboat comment. >> yeah. >> that's a lot to take coming from donald trump. >> well, look, i mean it's no secret we're in new territory here, stephanie n terms of traditional notions of message
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discipline. that's been true for the last two years and certainly been true for the last three and a half or four months. and, you know, republicans rise and fall on the political fortunes of their president. they're nervous. they don't know how to react. what you see now is this pattern developing when the president says something or tweets something as he did this morning, republicans will sort of express concern but just enough concern to leave them enough room they don't want to burn ne bridges back to their base and the president's political base and supporters still stand up and applaud. witness the fact that mitch mcconnell now has given in to chuck schumer's insistence all senators be gathered in a classified briefing to get the latest from the administration rod rosenstein now will be invited according to mcconnell spokesman to come and briefs the entire senate behind closed doors. as far as reaction to the comments, personal disparagement of james comey, there was strong reaction from democrats, even some republicans, lindsey graham among them, mark warner is the
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chairman, the vice chairman of the intelligence committee in the senate leading the investigation and walked out of a meeting with rod rosenstein yesterday, a surprise meeting on the hill, and he had this to say in reaction to the president's comments about jim comey personally. >> i trusted jim comey. i thought he had made some mistakes last fall but never called for his resignation. it thought he was a straight shooter and frankly, i'm offended at the president's comments today. this is a continuing pattern of disrespecting the men and women who serve in our intelligence community. >> reporter: and angus king the independent from maine echoing late night comments from seth meyers and others says those comments from the president don't pass the straight face test, particularly coming from this president, who many consider to be a showboat to begin with. >> my panel back, clint, megan, jason, i do not want the president to feel like the media is taking things out of context, stacking the deck against him. i want to share more of what he said to lester, specifically about russia.
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because he continues to dismiss it in the face of so much opposition. take a listen. >> regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey, knowing there was no good to time to do it. and, in fact, when i decided to just do it i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story, an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election they should have won. >> it's an excuse. clint, i watched that testimony yesterday. you had the head of the nsa, mike pompeo, you had some of trump's guys up there, not necessarily democrats, how do you make sense of the president's comments here, trump and the russia thing? >> president trump has been briefed on this. he's been briefed in closed door setting, there is a public intel assessment that came out, everyone has testified to this. there is no question about it, except for president trump. he's the only one that still questions and says if this
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happened, if this happened. there is no evidence to say that anyone else did this. you will hear the president say it could have been china. let's explore that possibility. what evidence is there of that. there's none. move back to where there's a tremendous amount of evidence. reports that the u.s. government not only knew that our election was being influenced but notified the french that their election was being influenced which means not only did we know about ours we are helping out allies to let them know this is going on. president trump has been told repeatedly he does not want to believe it, and when you listen to his comments when he says there's nothing about the russia investigation i want it to go away, he is admitting he's basically doing suppression of law enforcement efforts. if he had nothing to hide or didn't want to suppress it it's a simple answer. it's come up across history in our country. i have nothing to hide, investigation proceed as you need to. i'm going to go about doing the work of the rest of the u.s. government i need to focus on. the investigation will naturally fall out and there will be
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nothing to come of it. that's the right answer. >> three consistent things i keep seeing. president trump doesn't want to blame russia, doesn't seem to ever go bad on putin and he continues to defend mike flynn. why is that? >> because he's guilty. because he's, obviously, guilty of something. look, the fact that the former fbi director -- >> but mike flynn, say i'm mike flynn why wouldn't he -- he fired him. >> because clearly the president is afraid of mike flynn flipping. he is afraid of many of the people out there, you know, manafort and everybody, he is afraid of what mike flynn might say if he were to get some sort of immunity. the fact that the president holds a meeting with james comey to more scrutiny than he does with russian photographers in the white house this week is an indicator of the comfort and level and trust with a foreign enemy than our intelligence agency. >> mike flynn could be in real trouble. does the president think a wink wink nod nod i like you mike is going to save him from mike flynn not flipping to get
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immunity? >> let's be clear on mike flynn. mike flynn only was fired because it was leaked about his -- what his conversations really were. >> true that. >> and that is what is also truly troubling about this, is that absent that leak, they would have probably kept him on. in terms of russia, it's exactly as clint says. it is a fact that they tried to hack our election. it is a fact accepted by 17 intelligence agencies by every foreign government. that is a fact. the president -- we are six months on from this now and still talking about this as if it is some sort of fact in dispute. it is not. look, is there evidence that his administration colluded with russia that is what is under investigation. him saying there is nothing there is as you say, is interfering with an ongoing pending investigation, his level of frustration boiled over with james comey. when he keep saying we have to, and the media has to say, this is wrong, these are the facts, this is what happened. >> it appears to be putting more pressure on calling for a special proses cuter here. we have to take a break. i want to point out that andrew
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mccabe said there will be an ongoing investigation, ample information and very serious. you may be without james comey but this ain't going away. president trump gives a direct answer to lester holt over any financial ties he may have in russia, but did he actually clear anything up? so tell us your big idea for getting the whole country booking on choice hotels.com. four words, badda book. badda boom... let it sink in. shouldn't we say we have the lowest price? nope, badda book. badda boom. have you ever stayed with choice hotels? like at a comfort inn? yep. free waffles, can't go wrong. i like it. promote that guy. get the lowest price on our rooms, guaranteed. when you book direct at choicehotels.com.
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time for money, power, politics, president trump emphatically denying any investments in russia during his exclusive interview with lester holt. >> the senate intelligence committee wants information from the treasury departments financial crimes unit about your finances, your business's finance. can you tell us whether you, your family, your businesses, your surrogates have accepted any investments, any loans, from russian individuals? >> in fact, i just sent a letter to lindsey graham from one of the most prestigious law firms in the country, a tremendous, highly rated law firm, that i have nothing to do with russia, i have no investments in russia, none whatsoever. i don't have property in russia. a lot of people thought i owned office buildings in moscow. i don't have property in russia.
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and i am in very -- i mean, i'm in total compliance in every way. i have to tell you, i file documents, hundreds of pages worth of documents with the federal elections bureau. everybody has seen them. i built a great company. but i'm not involved with russia. i have had dealings over the years where i sold a house to a very wealthy russian many years ago. i had the miss universe pageant which i owned for quite a while, i had it in moscow long time ago. but other than that, i have nothing do with russia. >> and one last question on this matter, did you ever -- >> i have a certified letter so you understand. i'm not just saying that. i've given the letter, i've given the letter to senator lindsey graham, he has the letter and i assume he's going to give the letter out. it says, i am not involved in
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russia, no loans, no nothing. >> there we go. joining me cnbc contributor n inson na with megan murphy and jason. the president gave a lot of attention to the fact that he found a know tarry and the letter was certified and a highly regarded law firm, but little detail. he said he has no investments in russia but as far as russia being a lender to him, how much do we really know about that? >> well, very little. if you read through the financial disclosure documents with the fec that were filed as late as july of 2016, there are 550 plus limited liability companies that the president listed as being under his ownership. it doesn't say where the revenue comes from. it doesn't say how money is allocated and it doesn't say whether there are loans or other obligations by name. it broadly describes his financial situation. but there's no really granular level of detail about who's involved with which entipty.
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it's odd to get a certified letter from a law firm. typically you would get a certified letter from a certified public accountant who is able to go through one's financial statements and document the voracity of the statements and actually do a lot of forensic work -- >> he kept saying he has no investments in russia, no buildings in russia. we're not saying that he did. no one thought they was flushed with cash. does he have -- did russia loan him any money or we know he has a loan from deutsch bank, deutsch bank has been tangled with russia for years. who's to say that deutsch bank didn't write down loans and assign them to a russian bank so president trump could now be facing off against a russian lender and he's just word smithing this to say i have no loans to russia. how about from? >> there are a variety of ways you can look at this in which the president could potentially be desem bling, do his entities
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have any obligations to russian entities as opposed to him individually. he's using limited liability companies while he's the beneficial owner he is not personally liable for a lot of the features of those independent businesses, so there could be that. there could also be the fact that, you know, we've heard from his sons, certainly eric trump as far back as 2008, saying that a disproportionate number of buyers of trump properties were russian. he denied recently that he said in 2014 that they didn't need american banks to finance their operations because they had plenty of money from russian lenders. >> ron, we should say that that was donald trump jr. in 2008 that said they had a disproportionate amount of investors from russia and inter trump did that interview with the golf reporter and he denied it on monday and said fake news but gave no other information to back that up and did not respond, my repeated invitation to come over and walk us through that. what do you make of this?
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>> the russia question always looms large but this is a president who hasn't even disclosed his tax return. we still have waiting for that kind of information. he said repeatedly he used their house that he sold to a russian. look, it's so easy to make fun of these things to keep it light and talk about a certified letter on how absurd that is. it would be absurd if it wasn't serious. real questions about what his financial entanglements there. if there's nothing to hide be transparent and release your taxes. >> i'm waiting for eric trump or one of his sons to like put change in the machine and rubles fall out of their pockets. that's we're looking at. if the president were to release his tax returns, 99% would disappear. the fact that he doesn't is an indicator he knows somewhere deep within his businesses or his current administration, that he has connections and weaknesses to russia that he doesn't want the public or the rest of the congress to know. >> there are other alternatives too. either worth less than he claims, gives less to charitable
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organization than he suggested. there may not be in his tax returns necessarily any direct linkage to russia itself. again, these transactions can go through a variety of entities that can be disguised. businesses have done this for decades about how they transact with companies that are either operating under sanctions or not necessarily those entities with which you want to be associated but you can create shell corporations that do business on your behalf. a certified letter from a law firm i find that odd. the law firm is then putting its reputation on the line assuming that it is a big brand name law firm, what do they certify? that the president individually has no financial ties to russia? do any of his entities have those ties? do people around him have those ties? this is a very strange thing. again, in business, when you're looking at accounting for dollars and cents it is accounting firms that certify
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the voracity of your financial statements and tax returns. it's typically not a law firm. >> we're going to take a break and i invite you ever done in sunny isles go through the trump property down there. it's as though it is a bit of a mini moscow in miami. it's extraordinary. more on the breaking news, the president threatening james comey with taped conversations this morning and we will take a look at the white house's shifting timeline on james comey's firing. think again. this is the new new york. we are building new airports all across the state. new roads and bridges. new mass transit. new business friendly environment. new lower taxes. and new university partnerships to grow the businesses of tomorrow today. learn more at esd.ny.gov [hissing] uh- i-
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i'm stephanie ruhle. back to our top story. president trump threatening former fbi director james comey in a new tweet a short time ago after an exclusive interview with nbc's lester holt. with me now jeff jarvis a professor at the cuny graduate school of journalism and blogger for buzz machine.com and with me jeff mason white house correspondent for reuters and the president of the white house correspondents association. jeff mason, i want to start with you. your reaction first to the threat from president trump -- so many threats, threat that there won't be press conferences, threatening james comey, what's your take? >> well, it's the threat as you say for -- to former fbi director comey i guess i will leave president trump and the white house to address that and say what that is signaling. as far as the press conferences are concerned, look having regular press briefings is key to giving journalists the ability to do their jobs.
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it is also key to allowing there to be transparency at the highest levels of government. whether that's the president of the united states or the people who work for him. so any suggestion that press briefings would be canceled is, of course, something that correspondents association would object to. >> i want to walk through the importance of accuracy. we're talking about a white house that talks so much about the slanted media and fake news. let's just walk through this. in that exclusive nbc news interview, the president directly contradicts the rest of his administration when explaining the decision to suddenly fire fbi director james comey. i want to share what press secretary sean spicer said tuesday night. >> you said last week the president had full confidence in the fbi director? what changed? >> the recommend degrees that came today. >> did the president make the decision today? >> yes. >> trump's team kept citing that recommendation made by deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. >> he took the recommendation seriously and made a decision on that. >> the president took the advice of the deputy attorney general.
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>> the american people expect a president to act on the recommendations of those within the administration who are charged with oversight. >> okay. right there, during that press conference, vice president pence made the recommendation seven times. he mentioned that recommendation seven times. and then listen to what the president said on thursday. >> because in your letter you said i accepted their recommendation. >> yeah. well they also -- >> you had already made the decision. >> i was going to fire regardless of recommendation. >> okay. then this morning president trump tweeting, defending his staff and threatening to cancel all press conferences. jeff jarvis, i worry sometimes that we are too much in the media vortex. we're getting setting our hair on fire at any whim. but when i look at this thread, it concerns me. what do you think? >> it should concern us. we have to call alarms. after a while you become deaf to the alarm. the alarm is to truth,
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stephanie. what we have here is a case where i think from now on, we know that the president, the vice president, and their staff, lie at every turn. and we in the press should not take anything they say at face value and we should say this is unconfirmed. we should -- the old rule of check everything twice if your mother says she loves you check that, if donald trump says his mother loved him check that. double check that. we can assume nothing. and he's insulting not only the institutions of democracy and media but insulting the truth. who stands up for the truth? we have to. so yes, we have to keep the alarms on high, but we also have to have i think a habit now of saying this is not known. and yes, go ahead with the press briefings but we shouldn't be putting them on live because they're an opportunity to lie without checking. we have to check everything they say. >> all right. speaking of press briefings, jeff mason, acting fbi director andrew mccabe said james comey was viewed positively by, quote, a vast majority of fbi
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employees. but deputy press secretary sarah huckabee sanders says that wasn't the case. look at this. >> i've heard from countless members of the fbi that are grateful and thankful for the president's decision and i think that, you know, we may have to agree to disagree. i mean i -- >> so are we talking -- >> between like e-mail, text messages absolutely. yeah. >> 50, 60, 70? >> look we're not going to get into a numbers game. >> sarah huckabee sanders led with countless, countless implies numbers. jeff mason, she says countless fbi employees and then says i don't want to talk numbers. what's your take? >> well, she was given an opportunity to address what countless means and she declined to do that. that was up to sarah. those were her words and will be contrasted as you just did with the words of the acting fbi director who works with fbi agents every day. >> does this matter, jeff? i spoke to a trump supporter who said sounds like the president and his team are getting frustrated? >> more than frustrated. i think they're afraid.
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who knows what's going to happen next here. that's not our job to worry about their feelings. it's our job to check them on everything they say and dog them at every turn. >> being afraid is justified. these are scary times. but we will not be scared. jeff, jeff, thank you. we're taking a break. next, the most introspective answer the president has perhaps ever given as he reacts on the idea that he's president. what he says is really quite amazing. it's time tore the "your business" entrepreneurs of the week. breaking up was hard to do for jeff and nate. but reuniting has felt so good. the owners of 5 string furniture in nashville tennessee are back together after a two-year break. jeff was running the business solo but now that nate has returned they're growing faster than ever. watch "your business" weekends at 7:30 a.m. >> brought to you by american express open visit openforum.com for ideas to help you grow your business. n help you take on a new job,
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coming from a different world and only being a politician for a short period of time, how am i doing? am i doing okay? i'm president. hey, i'm president. can you believe it, right? >> that of course was president trump last yeek week after the house passed the health care legislation when nbc's lester holt sat down with president trump, he asked the president about that moment. >> do you still have moments when you think how did i get here? >> i think everybody does. when you become president it's very special, when you're in the white house it's very special and i had all of my republican friends who have been in politics all their lives, done a great job, congressmen and senators, et cetera. but i did, i looked around and said sorry, folks, can you
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believe it's me. and the truth is everybody that becomes president of the united states has to every once in a while say that's really amazing. >> there you have it. president trump pinching himself. back with me megan murphy and jason johnson. we complain that this is an i and i alone moment. but that's a human moment. >> look at the people behind him and applauding that statement and look at paul ryan on the right. jason and we were talking about this. the issue now is are these people going to step up and start objects, are they going to try to enforce more institutional politics on this guy. we see the tweets this morning, the total misinformation, the inability to get ahead of their message. he may still be disbelieving that he's president but he is president and the peemd behind him clapping and laughing in that picture when he says that are potentially the future of the legislative agenda and what
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the american people think they voted for and what they thought they were getting. they're not getting what they voted for. it's up to those guys to make it happen. >> how about the people in the white house who had no idea that president trump was going to do this, how about the people in the white house who are on his communications team or vice president pence who he's contradicted in the last 24 hours now, kind of made up on twitter. what did they do? >> i would be floating résumes at this point. i don't think this is going to end well or . >> or at least writing a book. >> i feel sorry for some of the competent long term officials. i have a lot of republican friends whoever single day are like i don't know how to manage this man and if they don't know how to manage the president, they don't know how to manage the country. coming up later today, leather holt will join andrea mitchell for his thoughts on that bombshell interview. also at noon, former director of
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i'm going to say it. that was fun. that wraps us up for this hour. i'm going to see you all day long on twitter. have a great weekend. i'm going to send you to the nation's capital with hallie jackson. >> thank you very much. good morning. it's a morning. open twitter. the president is basedly apparently threatening the guy he just fired saying james comey
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better not leak a thing but people close to him sure are to defend the fired fbi director. sources inside the agency are contradicting what the president said about the infamous dinner. with predictions this morning we have not heard the last of the former fbi director. could it be comey's revenge? for of the interview between the president and our own lester holt. and some foreign policy news you may not have heard, what he's saying about the troops in afghanistan and a pre-emptive strike in north korea. >> >> a lot of people are giving me high marks in terms of what i've done in terms of foreign policy. >> our team is here and ready to go. kristen welker at the white house, pete williams, thomas due bree, senior white house correspondent for bloomberg, margaret. and we've got to get to kristen welker first. the president seems to be tweet trolling, poking the finger in

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