tv MSNBC Live MSNBC May 16, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
much more on this throughout the hours at msnbc. that's going to do it here for us. thank you all for sticking around with us throughout that entire hour. that's going to do it for me. again, i'm katy tur. craig melvin picks things up right now. we start with the breaking news. nbc news has just confirmed that it was israel that was the source of that classified isis related intelligence shared by president trump with russian officials last week in the oval office. furious reaction continuing to pour in after that story was first reported by "the washington post" last night. we just heard the president address that report a short time ago. >> very, very successful meeting with the foreign minister of russia. our fight is against isis, as general mcmaster said. i thought he said, and i know he feels, that we had actually a great meeting with the foreign minister. we're going to have a lot of great success over the next
coming years and we want to get as many to help fight terrorism as possible. and that's one of the beautiful things that's happening with turkey. the relationship that we have together will be unbeatable. >> that was all he said about it. earlier today, the president's national security advisor, h.r. mcmaster, refused to say if the trump information -- if that information that president trump shared was in fact classified. but, a u.s. counterterrorism official tells nbc news that a damage assessment will be forthcoming. now major concerns the president's actions may jeopardize intelligence sources and even make the country less safe. we've heard from a whole lot of folks on both sides of the aisle today. >> i would say to the american people, this is indefensible and i would say to my republican friends, stop circling the wagon around this president. >> i wanted to make clear to everybody that the president in
no way compromised any sources or methods in the course of this conversation. >> this is an incredibly dangerous situation. i think the president has endangered the people who trust the united states. >> now if this is true, president trump's actions are not only irresponsible, but have put lives at risk. >> we have a saying in the navy, loose lips sink ships. >> i think we could do with a little less drama from the white house on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda. >> now it is getting dangerous. right? and the way he's handling classified information. >> if this report is indeed true, it would mean that the president may have badly damaged our national security. >> i don't want to rely on a press article. i'm not disputing it, i'm not admitting it. i just need to know more and we'll speak to the white house today in the appropriate setting and go from there. >> it just feels like kiddie soccer most days, people are just following one frenzy to the next frenzy to the next frenzy.
democrats are now demanding transcripts of last week's meeting between president trump, russian foreign minister lavrov and the russian ambassador, sergey kislyak. let's bring in nbc's peter alexander covering all of today's developments from the white house. let me start with you. nbc news again just confirm being that it was israel that was the source of this information. what else can you tell us about that? >> bottom line, we have that information from three government officials who have knowledge of this matter. the white house not speaking specifically to this new information. when i was in that off-camera briefing with sean spicer a short time ago, he was asked about this specifically, declined to say anything about it, among the questions still unanswered at this time were who within this white house, this administration, informed israel or the foreign partner, that
ally, that the information, that intelligence, had been shared by the president with russia? and when that took place. my colleague, hallie jackson, peppered sean spicer with some questions on this topic just a short time ago with sean spicer. take a listen. >> few more questions for you, sean. number one, israel is the ally here who provided information that the president then shared with the russians. it is our reporting that that is the case. can you please speak to that? >> i cannot comment specifically on that. im's obviously pleased to see the ambassador's comment. we appreciate the relationship that we have with israel and appreciate the exchange of information that we have with them. that being said, i'm not going to comment any further on that. >> he was just referring to a statement that's been put out by the israeli ambassador basically saying that israel has full confidence in its intelligence share something relationship with this country, with the u.s., and that it looks forward to deepening that relationship going forward. as we heard earlier today from h.r. mcmaster, national security advisor who did brief reporters
on camera, he insists that everything the president said and shared was, in his words on multiple occasions, quote, wholly appropriate. >> hey, peter, really quickly. the off-camera briefing there from sean spicer was a little odd i think to a lot of folks, audio only. any idea why that was the case? >> i haven't asked them specifically about that. this is certainly not the first time we've had an off-camera breefrg briefing. as a messaging effort, a lot of times they want the face of their message to be front and center. i think that's the reason that sean wanted to give us the information. we still want answers but they wanted mcmaster to be the one speaking on behalf of the administration on camera. >> peter, thanks. stand by, if you can. a few moments ago israeli ambassador ron dermer released a
statement, "israel has full confidence in our intelligence sharing with the united states and look forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under president trump." we just heard peter refer to that statement. what else can you tell us about this intelligence relationship with israel? how significant is it? >> it's hugely significant, craig. i got to say, this kind of a sharing mistake is sort of the worst nightmare for the intelligence community. it is one thing to inappropriately share information from the british with the french. that can be a diplomatic incident. this is sharing information from a trusted ally, israel, with the russians, an adversary of both the u.s. and israel. and the nightmare for the israelis is that the russians would share it with their arch enemy, iran. there are procedures. the u.s. does share intelligence information with russia on counterterrorism and other matters, and there are procedures to do it. u.s. intelligence officials tell me. it is carefully vetted. it often takes days for sharing
to be approved and it will be marked with a specific marking, releasable russia. in this case as white house officials are telling it, president trump made an ad hoc decision to share it immediately. i think it is interesting that last night h.r. mcmaster branding the reporting on this false. but today, he a he not disputing any of the facts, just the premise that the sharing was appropriate. u.s. intelligence officials are telling us that there are many people in the community who do believe it was inappropriate and are very concerned about it. >> kim, this damage assessment that we mentioned here off the top of the broadcast. what more can you tell us about that? >> we're just told by a counterterrorism officials that there will be damage assessment because this intelligence had to do with the terrorist plot to down an airliner. and it is very sensitive and there will be an assessment within the government about what were the sources an methods compromised, what's the impact going forward. >> peter, one of the more
interesting nuggets from that off-camera briefing that wrapped a little while ago, we seemed to learn how the from ez gets his briefings. what did sean spicer have to say about precisely how it is that president trump gets these classified briefings? >> one of the questions that was posed to spicer today was whether or not this president is doing his homework and if americans can feel trusting that the president is getting all the necessary information he needs. this comes after some recent reporting within the last 24 hours that on a variety of different occasions he's been in effect handed fake news, an old magazine from the 1970s, basically on climate change, that actually never existed, was one of the examples cited by this newspaper. spicer pushed back and said basically yes, the president is getting the necessary information and doing the necessary homework. sean wouldn't get further into the details of the intelligence briefing process he gets, the presidential dale briefing, as
it is described, the pdb. but he is getting that information. sean says he doesn't sit in that room but americans should feel comfortable with the way the information is provided to the president. worth noting, this comes after that information being reported by "the washington post" that included the fact that we now understand from this white house, as they insist that president trump didn't even know the source of the intelligence, of the information that he was sharing with the russian officials at that time, which is they suggest he couldn't have been leaking anything out because he couldn't have known the source of it to be leaking. >> we just played sounds from democrats and republicans. what else are they telling you about all of this? >> i think we've seen this movie before, you're having widespread condemnation from democrats, whereas republicans are characteristically tight-lipped in their response. the usual suspects senators john mccain and bob corker, have expressed their dismay with the reports, if true. certainly bob corker had said the white house is in a downward spiral. but there's no indication that
republicans plan to take any action or truly demand answers from the white house. many of them just say that they hope more information will be provided. they see this as another distraction from the republican policy agenda. i think what jeff flake told those reporters on capitol hill, jeff flake, republican from arizona, said he is used to drama from the white house and at this point it really is what it is. it is sort of going to continue, he said. not really taking into account that if anyone is going to stop the drama from trickling down from the white house, it would be those republicans on capitol hill. >> all of this of course happening as president trump prepares to go overseas for his first trip abroad. saudi arabia. going to rome to meet with the pope. also going to be traveling to israel as well. at this point any indications from this administration as to
how all of this might affect his trip? is he going to have to make any changes to his message as well? >> well, the timing is certainly interesting given that he is about to head out to make a visit to at least one of the countries that now reporting for "the new york times," as suggested, is part of this whole affair. and no word yet from the white house about any of those plans changing. it seems like his itinerary is still what rights of it was before. but the question is what the reception is going to be like. we've seen, as sybrina was saying, there's been intense reception to an extent on capitol hill. not a total turnaround from republicans but sort of a lot of the fatigue that's been apparent in the way that the leaders have been commenting about this latest surprise twist that they were not expecting. again you've seen, you've heard that the reaction of the israeli ambassador as reported. so it seems like on the surface certainly everybody's trying to keep calm and soldier on with their allies as they were before. but of course, the question is
what sort of flames and darts and frustrations are being thrown below that level. and what are those meetings going to look like? those diplomatic meetings, once they actually happen, face to face, and will stronger, more sharply worded jabs be exchanged about what they think about this, what the implications are about this. both for the intelligence at hand in this circumstance and for going forward. because none of this happens in a vacuum. it always sends a message. people always wonder, well, what about the next time? because this episode did not go through the usual traps, as we've said, as you've said, it's within the president's legal right to declassify things. but the fact that that didn't happen with consultation, it didn't happen with any heads up has everybody just saying well what's going to happen the next time? that is the big open question that has to be making foreigners -- foreign diplomats as nervous as it is making lawmakers on capitol hill. >> peter, ken, sabrina, garrett, thank you all so much for your
for more on that, we're going to bring in general wesley clark, former nato supreme allied commander. there is the general. general, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> for joining me. just first of all, your general reaction. again, reporting that israel is the source of this information. >> well, first of all, presidents do sometimes talk about things that are classified, and legally they have a right to declassify it. the right process wasn't followed in this case. i'm sure that h.r. mcmaster is going to be very, very careful of the future to work with the people who brief the president and make sure that they warn the president of the things that he can and can't say. raises a number of issues, the most is, it's about confidence of the administration. it is about what the impact is on the intelligence community. i guess the most fundamental question really has to do with the russia relationship. i think one of the reasons this has caught such fire is because it was with russia. i think it would be in the country's interest if the
president would as rapidly as possible come forward with the document, his tax returns, if he other materials, so that congress can make the appropriate appraisal, finish the fbi investigation, get this matter cleared up one way or the other for the american people so we can move forward. >> general, to be clear, it sounds like you're saying that there is a very real possibility that in this meeting the president of the united states unknowingly, unwittingly revealed classified information to the russians. is that what you're saying? >> well, he may have known it was classified but then a lot of things that are told to the president are classified. and he may not have focused on how classified it was, it may not have been code word. they may -- maybe it didn't stick when they said it or maybe they didn't say it when they told him. so the white house itself has to look at its own procedures on this. >> so the procedures vary from white house to white house with how this information is handled,
how this information is given to the president? >> well, they vary from white house to the white house because the personalities and proclivities and interests of the presidents vary from white house to white house. if you have a president who's really into intel, he reads it and studies it. george w. bush was an expert on following the intelligence associated with al qaeda, for example. he worked at it hard every day according to the people that were there. then he knew what the rules were. president trump is relatively new, still on the scene, he's never been in government before, he's never handled classified information, so maybe he doesn't really -- it hasn't sunk in as to how really precious this is. i think back to right after 9/11, there was a u.s. senator who mentioned on television that, well, we don't have to worry about osama bin laden because we can hear him in our telephones. after th we never heard him again on inmar set telephones, i am told by members of the intelligence community.
so inadvertent comment slips like this can be hugely detrimental to our intelligence collection. in this case we don't know. as we heard, there's going to be a damage assessment done. >> general wesley clark, former nato supreme allied commander, general, always good to have your insight. thank you for your time this afternoon. we want to right now get to glen thrush of "the new york times." again just posted on article on the confusion in what's happening inside this white house at a besieged white house, tempers flare and confusion swir swirls. that's the headline. msnbc contributor glen thrush joins me now. you also do some writing on the president's mood and how that's changed. what can you tell us, sir? >> well, these are really tough times at the white house now. we have a situation where the president has blamed his communication staff, and in some instances sort of put them out there with substandard
information like we saw with the james comey firing. but i think what's really started to happen now is the staff itself is getting worn down. president is apparently looking to make a shake-up. but the problem is he doesn't really possess the tools to deploy folks to find good people to come in, first and foremost, and a lot of these troubles that he's had, particularly in terms of get being the flow of information out in an accurate way, is dissuading people from coming to the white house. it is very hard to do a reset when you can't get people to come in and help you reset. >> why can't he get folks to come in and help him reset? he's the president of the united states. >> look -- that's a great question. look, one of the things that sean spicer, the press secretary, who, i should say, he was off camera during the briefing, but he was very tired. and that really reflected, i think. very tired and very subdued. a far cry from the sean spicer you saw at the beginning of the administration. and this really reflects the
entire team. i've heard that sean spicer and reince priebus, chief of staff, who's also been looked at for replacement over the last couple of weeks, are telling friends who would want to do this job? the president often doesn't listen to your advice, then he'll go out and contradict you. i just think it is grinding folks down. as you are seeing pressure come from the hill, also, the spotlight is on the president's performance himself. at some point in time the president has to look himself in the mirror and ask himself if this modus operandi which he ran during the campaign is appropriate for the white house. >> you mentioned sean spicer, the very well known press secretary. there were reports earlier in the day, none of them confirmed, that a woman named kimberly
gilfoyl, from fox news, may be brought in to replace sean spicer. >> it's lard hard to say. there's a published account with her sort of knocking that story down. we've reported a couple of days ago that she's been in the discussion. the other possibility if sean is replaced -- and again, we don't know that that is definitely going to happen. we don't even know if it will happen at all. but another potential scenario is sarah huckabee-sanders, his deputy, who did a pretty serviceable job at the podium last week. there could be a potential time share. here's the problem with this. it's not like there's some binder with a plan. when i covered the obama administration, pete rouse, one-time chief of staff and long-time staffer for president obama, spent months and months and months concocting plans. in this white house, things are often made spur of the moments
things affecting the united states. >> glenn, i know you hate it when we do this on television where we just read chunks of the article, but people will go online and read it. the last line of your online post you write, "in private, three administration officials conceded that they could not publicly articulate the most compelling and honest defense of the president, that mr. trump, a hasty and indifferent reader, printed briefing material, simply did not possess the interest or knowledge of the granular details of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods of intelligence gathering that would do harm to u.s. allies. it sounds as if here you've got folks inside the white house who are saying that the president either isn't smart enough or doesn't possess the intellectual curiosity to go out and deliberately leak classified information. is that a correct assessment? >> well, i would very much dispute the first part of that. everyone i think who works with this president has no question
of his intelligence. the issue is whether or not he wants to take the time to look at these briefing materials. there have been reports in my paper and elsewhere that he prefers to have graphic materials presented to him. but you remember, he said in public early on that the daily intelligence briefing was often duplicative and he found them unnecessary. it was only after he took criticism from members of his own party that he sort of knuckled down on that. so this is not really new. one thing i would say is, we had an off-camera gaggle with sean spicer earlier, and i asked him point blank two questions. number one, is the president doing his homework. and number two, should the american people rest assured that in the midst of all these reports that he's getting best information available to make good decisions. sean spicer gave me two-letter answer. yes. yes. >> glenn, the dynamic inside the white house. there has been this constant intrigue with the inner workings, whether it's the chief staff, reince priebus, or
whether it's steve bannon and the role that steve bannon plays inside this administration. talk to me a little bit about the dynamic in the first few days of this new administration, and the dynamic now. how has it changed? how has it evolved? or perhaps how has it devolved? >> that's a great question. steve bannon was enormously powerful in the early days when most of the action the president was undertaking in the executive. he was dealing with the cras up on capitol hill which were very effective. but mostly it was through executive orders. he really channeled the president's populism. but things have really moved on once we got into the legislative arena. it is that, along with steve bannon's conflict with jared kushner, the president's son-in-law, that's marginalized him. but i will tell you one thing. and i think that's what maggie and i were trying to get at in this story and a couple of recent other stories that we have written. the focus needs to be on the president of the united states. his management style, the way that he consumes information. i think the events of the last
week, week and a half, have done nothing but put the focus on the president himself. these palace intrigue stories arane ancillary. they're essentially symptomatic. we wouldn't be writing them if the president himself had a firmer grasp on the west wing. the policy is simply an indication of problems that are rooted in the oval office. i've been covering this town for a while now and i will tell you this -- everything is derivative of the president's management style, and everything that we're seeing right now is emanating from the way that he's choosing to run his white house. >> who's in charge in the west wing right now? >> i think -- the same man who's in charge of the west wing from day one. donald trump. >> you also write, you and maggie also write, quote, mr. trump's appetite for chaos coupled with his disregard for the self-protective conventions of the presidency have left his staff confused and squabbling. you go on to write, according to
two advisors who spoke on the condition of anonymity, his mood has become sour and dark, turning against most of his aides. how is that manage fested ifest? is he screaming and shouting at jared kushner? is he throwing things at steve bannon? how does this look, this mood change? >> look, i think he's a pretty volatile guy to begin with. i think when he was out in bedminster last week when he made the decision on james comey he was not in a good state of mind. again, when people call him from time to time they can have different experiences. but in general he has not been happy with the waist way that things had been functioning. he had sean spicer, his communications advisor, sarah huckabee-sanders in for a long meeting yesterday morning to discuss what he said about, quote, unquote, getting on the same page. so he's clearly dissatisfied with this. he really doesn't like this narrative of his administration coming off the rails. but the paradox here is that his staff is looking at this
eight-day trip coming up, this first overseas trip, as a reset. we're told from multiple sources the president isn't enthusiastic about hitting the road. there's a whole dynamic here he will begin to sort of help himself. staff isn't really going to do this. the president has got to have, according to members of his own party who have said this repeatedly and increasingly on the hill, come to a different view of the way that he's running the presidency. >> we heard from senator bob corker earlier today. senator from tennessee. who echoed the same sentiment you just shared there, that this was an administration that seemed to be spiraling out of control. that's not precisely when he said. i'm summarizing what the senator said. do you get the sense that the white house is now starting to feel the heat from lawmakers, from both chambers, in the president's own party? >> absolutely. i spoke with pat toomey, the senator from pennsylvania, today. and pat toomey said, and i paraphrase him here, that we
need a change in the white house staff immediately. i think there is a consensus growing from mitch mcconnell on down that something needs to change or this republican majority that they worked so hard to achieve will be squandered. >> again, we are talking about this "new york times" article that's just been posted at a besieged white house, tempers flare, confusion swirls. glenn thrush and maggie haverman wroet t wrote the article. glenn thrush, a solid reporter but also wears the snazziest hats in all of washington, d.c. the hits just keep coming. we are keeping tabs on not one, not two, not three -- but half-a-dozen investigations that are hanging over this president. not even four months after he made this promise. >>. and will, to the best of my ability -- >> preserve, protect, and
defend -- >> preserve, protect, and defend -- >> -- the constitution of the united states. >> -- the constitution of the united states. >> -- so help me god. >> -- so help mean god. i am totally blind. and sometimes i struggle to sleep at night, and stay awake during the day. this is called non-24. learn more by calling 844-824-2424. or visit your24info.com. i count on my dell small for tech advice. with one phone call, i get products that suit my needs and
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here's a quick look at throws. most high-profile probes are actually happening in congress. the house and senate are both leading inquiries within their intelligence committees. the house oversight committee which revealed former national security advisor mike flynn's links to foreign sources is conducting its own review, along with a judiciary committee in the upper chamber. meanwhile, the defense department has also confirmed they are looking into michael flynn while the fbi conducts a sweeping counterintelligence investigation of its own. all of this as the financial crimes unit of the treasury has opened a review of its own. in the midst of all of these confirmed investigations, a handful are also believed to be under way. that includes a u.s. attorney's office reportedly investigating russian money laundering through president trump's real estate business. a sprit probe by the fbi into the firing of their director, james comey. that's separate. that's also prompt being the justice department to get involved.
here to try and unpack all of this, allan lichtman, a political historian, offer of the case for impeachment, along with matt ford, associate editor for "the atlantic." allan, first to you. is this the first time that a president has been under this many investigations at the same time? how does this compare? >> oh, it's uncomparable, unfortunately. look, it took some five years to get anywhere this deep into the watergate investigation. we're at just four months. but there is a way to resolve all this, and it is in the constitution. that's what i wrote about in my book, it is called "impeachment." i'm not saying we should be impeaching the president, but all of these investigations need to be put together, as it was in watergate, in an impeachment investigation by the house judiciary committee that would take into account all potential impeachable charges. collusion with the russians. obstruction of justice.
conflicts of interest. and put it all together. here's what i say to donald trump, if what you say is true, that you've never done anything wrong in the campaign or as president, you should welcome an impeachment investigation as a way to clear those thunder clouds hanging over your administration. you should encourage every member of your former campaign team, everyone relevant to your administration to testify under oath before the house judiciary committee, and you should release every document. and, by the way, if there are presidential tapes, you should release them, too. >> but allan, couldn't much of what you're talking about, could it be achieved with the appointment of a special prosecutor osome sort of blue ribbon commission? >> absolutely not. trump's critics might save him by appointing a special prosecutor. here's why. number one, who appoints it? the trump administration. number two, who can fire the special prosecutor? donald trump. remember, richard nixon fired the special prosecutor, archibald cox. and we were very lucky to get
another special prosecutor who pursued it. a special prosecutor only focuses on criminality, and that's not the focal point here. the focal point is whether or not a president is abusing his power in a way that threatens our constitution, our liberties and our national security. and only an impeachment investigation constitutionally can do that. >> matt, it is a fascinating piece in "the atlantic" this morning, you drew parallels to former nsa contractor, edward snowden, who the president once called a traitor in 2013. you noted in your article, quote, trump made his demands explicit. snowden should be executed if he returns to the united states because he had, according to trump, disclosed serious information to russia and china. oh, the irony. what about the president now and
what allegations of treason against president trump would they go too far? >> well, i think that those might be a step away. treason is very narrowly defined under the constitution. the founders made sure that it was the only crime they explicitly laid out in the constitution and it requires a number of factors that you have to prove before you can even bring charges in that. so we're still a ways away from sort of that sort of legal discussion. but there is a whole range of potential offenses that could be investigated that fall short of that, that could still carry very serious ramifications. obstruction of justice is a big one floating around now after the firing of fbi director james comey last week. that could be the most likely one that could lead to serious trouble because that's the one used against richard nixon and against bill clinton during their impeachment sagas. >> gentlemen, i wish we had more time because of the breaking news today, we do not. we wanted to at least make sure we had part of our conversation.
we've got new reporting this afternoon, nbc news has confirmed "the new york times" report that israel was the source of isis-related intelligence that president donald trump shared with russia last week at the white house. a short time ago, democratic congressman brad sherman tweeted -- prediction -- israeli government will say sharing its information with russia is okay. bibi favor to trump. but will israel or other allies trust trump with information again? i'm joined now by the congressman who tweeted that, brad sherman, democrat from california. congressman, thanks for your time. start by -- with the tweet there. can you elaborate on that prediction at all for us? >> well, the israeli ambassador just issued a statement saying that he looks forward to a good sharing of intelligence information with the united states under president trump. so while that may be a quarter-step away from what i
was predicting, it's already happened. >> and to what do you attribute that? because again, one would assume that the israelis might be just a tad bit annoyed. >> they're professionals. everybody in foreign policy tries to be a professional, with the possibly exception of our president. they know that the united states is their chief ally and that being angry about this in public doesn't serve their interest. so they will do whatever they can to try to ameliorate this problem as a public relations problem for trump, and they will expect that favor to be recognized in the future. whether they share information with us in the future or not is a case by case decision that they have to make, knowing that sometimes there's leaks right at the top. >> white house officials have been adamant about this point. general mcmaster also adamant
about this point earlier today that the president of the united states did not disclose sources and methods. does that bother you at all, the fact that the president may have not disclosed sources and methods but they have not again knocked down this reporting that he did again reveal classified information? >> press reports indicate that he at least revealed the city in which the israelis discovered important information, and that's not something that should be revealed to russia, worse yet, rae veeevealed to isis. the russians can now reverse engineer and determine where the american friends, in this case israel, have intelligence sources. and while we are united in favor of airplane safety and aviation safety, and we're all opposed to isis, we have strong disagreements with russia when it comes to syria and their
support with the assad regime that has been responsible for almost half a million deaths in syria. >> congressman brad sherman of california, thank you. he may not have done anything illegal when he shared that classified information with russian officials, but many from national security experts to constitutional lawyers say it was at least unethical. more on that part of the story after the break. you are right now looking at a live stake-out. this is a stake-out outside of after possible closed meeting of the house intelligence committee in the next hour. our understanding is that the cia director, former congressman mike pompeo, will be there briefing members of congress. we're keeping a very close eye on that. we'll bring you any updates as they happen. if you have moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis like me, and you're talking to your rheumatologist about a medication... ...this is humira. this is humira helping to relieve my pain...
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actions in any way, shape or form hurt national security? here to help me at least try to answer that, ambassador chris hill, a diplomacy expert, and former u.s. ambassador to iraq. he also served as secretary of state for east asian pacific affairs. ron hosco, former assist taant director of the fbi. ron, let me start with you. word it afternoon that there is going to be a damage assessment. u.s. counterterrorism officials telling us that they expect a damage assessment on all of this to be forthcoming. what will that look like? >> well, first and foremost, when the intelligence partner is identified, will there be and continuing stream of reporting to america on this particular threat? is that intelligence partner going to cut off this stream and other potential streams? and then i think folks within the intelligence community
looking at and positing on what would russia's potential reaction be? that could be taking action against the target themselves in some way, sharing the intelligence with another one of their partners who is certainly not allied with us. iran comes immediately to mind. and so trying to assess from that perspective, what if something bad happens to the source. intelligence flow, and then bad action against the source. >> ambassador, very simply, i mean this revelation that the president appears to have shared this classified information. does it make our country materially less safe than it was just a few days ago? >> well, obviously potentially it could make it less safe. you know, the way the system should operate is, if you're a senior official, even a president, you'll see some information, you'll go i really want to share this with the people i'm talking to. depending on what the time frame
is, it will go back through channels and it will come back and it willsay, releasable to government of x. so sometimes you will a he see two paragraphs and say i really want to show really want to show this to so-and-so and it comes back and it's like half a sentence and you look at it and go, okay, never mind, or say, yes, this will be helpful in my conversation. so clearly what happened in the oval office is the president thought he would just kind of move ahead on his own authority. but frankly, the system has to work on respect for institutions and a certain amount of trust, for heaven's sake. so this should have gone back and they should have made this kind of assessment of could it be releasable without in any way endangering our interests? and my sense is, it was not, because they just assumed, because the president can do what he wants to do, that he doesn't need to worry about these institution or relationship issues. and so, i think it was very unfortunate and very -- and really bad, not only for the president, but also for his
staff, not to have, not to have pointed out to him how he should have handled this. >> ron hosko, ambassador christopher hill, we will have to leave it there, sirs. thank you both. >> you're welcome. up next, drowning in drama. we are about a third of the way into donald trump's first year of his presidency with no shortage of crises coming from the oval office. david. what's going on? oh hey! ♪ that's it? yeah. ♪ everybody two seconds! ♪ "dear sebastian, after careful consideration of your application, it is with great pleasure that we offer our congratulations on your acceptance..." through the tuition assistance program, every day mcdonald's helps more people go to college. it's part of our commitment to being america's best first job. ♪
helps ease fibromyalgia pain. she also prescribed lyrica. fibromyalgia is thout to be thlte resu of overactive nerves. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves. woman: for some, lyrica can significantly relieve fibromyalgia pain and improve function, so i feel better. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worsening depression, or unusual changes in mood or behavior. or swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling, or blurry vision. common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain and swelling of hands, legs and feet. don't drink alcohol while taking lyrica. don't drive or use machinery until you know how lyrica affects you. those who have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse lyrica. with less pain, i can be more active. ask your doctor about lyrica. republican senator susan collins asking a very simple
question last night, as capitol hill was abuzz with the news that the president of the united states had shared classified information. the senator from maine asking, "can we have a crisis-free day? that's all i'm asking." the answer might be no. on top of that, republican senator jeff flake said today, "it would be nice to have a drama-free week." think about it. eight days ago, just eight days ago, we learned that president obama had warned then president-elect trump about michael flynn. the next day, president trump fired fbi director james comey. then on wednesday of last week, the now-infamous meeting with russian officials. thursday, it was president trump admitting that he was going to fire director comey, no matter what the deputy attorney general recommended. then on friday, president trump tweeted suggesting that he had tapes of coyle. on saturday, we learned about the potential replacements for comey. this past sunday was president trump playing golf. and then the big one.
yesterday, we first learned about the report that president trump shared classified intelligence with russian officials in an oval office meeting. it's been eight days. i want to welcome in chris whopel, author of "the gatekeepers," and eli lake, columnist for bloomberg view, joining us there from washington, d.c. i want to start with you, here, chris. because, again, in your "new york times" best-selling book, you talk to 17, all of the living chiefs of staff, white house chiefs of staff. there is this article that just posted at "the new york times," it was written by glenn thrush and maggie haberman. and it talks about this president's appetite for chaos. and it also talks about some looming staff changes that may be in the works inside this administration. how far would changing a white house chief of staff, how far could a move like that go in
righting the ship? >> you know, what's clear is that this white house is broken. you know, they can't do anything right from executive orders to handling sensitive intelligence. and one of the prime reasons for that is because donald trump thinks that he can run the white house the way he ran a manhattan real estate firm, with senior advisers coming and going. nobody empowered as first among equals. no chain of command. and the result is what you see. you know, dysfunction, off the charts dysfunction, and i think that what trump has, you know, we've seen this before. jero gerald ford, who was famously called the accidental president, following richard nixon, ford thought he could run the white house himself. he called it the spokes of the wheel with himself at the center. and advisers just coming and going. it was a disaster. >> eli, you've got a column out, as well, today. it's called trump's best defense on russia is incompetence. this is your final paragraph.
i've been doing a lot of reading of newspapers on television today. "perhaps we'll learn eventually that this was all a grand scheme of the kremlin's. it's also possible that the intelligence breach reported monday by "the washington post" is less than meets the eye -- a gaffe with huge consequences. the most likely explanation for now is troubling enough -- the president is bad at his job. stupid trumps sinister." without huge consequences, there, by the way. i misspoke there. is that supposed to be comfo comforting or worrying here? >> i think it's worrying, because the hope was that trump would grow into the job. but we're seeing from interviews that he's given and not just the lester holt one, but also, you know, his twitter feed, the way that he went about the health care bill and more recently, the way he went about the firing of james comey, in and of themselves, these decisions are not fatal. these decisions, you know, could be explained. but there was no real process that was followed.
and he has suffered politically for that. and in many ways, it's one of the weakest sort of young presiden presidencies that i've ever covered and i've been doing this for 20 years now. and i would say that that means that he's not going to be able to implement his agenda, but it's also potentially the beginning of a crisis point for the republican party, because the question is, how long can they go along with it? i'm not talking about impeachment. i'm just saying that all of this affects everything else. so when we wants to implement his domestic agenda or foreign policy agenda, he's still going to have to deal with the repercussions of the coverage of this meeting with the russians, the way he fired james comey, the list goes on. >> chris, it's been 116 days. it's not reasonable to expect that this is something that can continue to go on at this pace. >> you know, sometimes presidents will hit rock bottom. a year and a half in -- >> what's rock bottom look like? >> you know, ask bill clinton. a year and a half in, he was
dead in the water. he really couldn't get any traction with his agenda. and there was an intervention by hillary clinton and al gore, the vice president. what they persuaded him that he was in deep trouble and he wound up persuading his omb director, leon panetta to come in and turn the lighthouse around. panetta with help from erskine bowles, his deputy, really did that. now, i think for trump to succeed, it would almost require an intervention of some kind. somebody has to go into the oval, close the door, and say, look, you are in serious trouble. if you want to be jimmy carter, a one-term president or worse, keep doing exactly what you're doing. but if you want to succeed, you have to empower a grown-up, a white house chief of staff, who can tell you what you don't want to hear. that's what's missing in this white house. >> chris, ely, a big thanks to both of you. fantastic insights. appreciate your time on this tuesday afternoon. that's going to wrap up "msnbc live" for this hour. i'll see you back here tomorrow
afternoon at 1:00 eastern. thank you so much for watching. "deadline: white house with nicole wallace" starts right now. fight of his life. the man with everything on the line today is not president trump. it's his second national security adviser, general h.r. mcmaster, a three-star general, who commanded troops in iraq and has placed every ounce of goodwill, a sterling reputation, and his credibility on the line to debunk a "washington post" report that alleged that donald trump may have betrayed an ally and shared sensitive classified information. a senior white house official who i spoke to throughout the day today insists that the report is not tru and that it cannot be true,ecause donald trump did not know the source of the most ssitive information discussed. here's general mcmaster on tha a short time ago. >> the president wasn't even aware, you know, of where this information came from. he wasn't briefed on the source and method of the information. >> we're going to get back to that briefing in a moment.