tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC May 19, 2017 9:00am-10:01am PDT
special. >> it's a mistake to nominate anyone that's ever run for office. we need a law enforcement professional that has never campaigned for a presidential candidate. >> he told comey to let of the flynn investigation. >> did you urge him in any way to close or back down the investigation into michael flynn. >> no. no. next question. >> and taking flight, with a load of baggage, all of those controversies on board, the president is about to take off for his first foreign trip, a five country journey that would challenge any head of state, especially one with no experience. >> i'm going to saudi arabia, israel, roame, the g7, a lot of great things going on.
>> good day, i'm andrea mitchell in washington where the president could -- a five stop swing that includes meetings -- the trip is usual first test overseas, but here at home, he is trying to push the reset button. joining me now, peter alexander at the white house, also, pete williams. the fbi, you had the deputy r e rosenstein on the hill, the first bit of business is finding a replacement for james comey. >> yes, i don't know if they decided it would be. they say they think is joe
lieberman, the u.s. senator that we know was talked to by the white house, but we don't know who the choice is. if it is him, it would be very unconventional for a number of reasons, but we don't know who the decision -- who the selection is or when it will be announced. >> and the fact that he was previously an elected office would go against the drain of a number of key senators saying it should not be someone that has had any electoral background. the other thing, pete, something that we were just checking into, that he has been part of the firm linked to donald trump. so his law firm background might raise issues. let me quickly bring in peter alexand alexander. everyone waiting for this presidential departure, and whether or not there will be a decision in the next hour or so before he leaves town. >> it was a good question.
it would have to happen soon. it is scheduled for just shy of 2:00. it is possible it could still happen where the focus is for this white house, this is an ambitious trip. five days, nine stops, a ton at stake. a region where there are all sorts of diplomatic hurdles they'll have to cross. the president is opening to deliver a message that they will come together in unity to defeat isis. an official told me their goal was stopping in saudi arabia and the vatican as they visit the central locations for three of the world's great religions to put aside as described to me,
their petty differences for peace and prosperity. but this president is shadowed by his tough rhetoric of islam, calling for a muslim ban will proceed him. israel is an ally that is anxious. they had two top senior officials from russia. so much at steake. republican president obama's first trip? ottawa, canada. president bush went to mexico. >> it has already been noted by the way in canada and mexico, not happy that the president of the united states is not visiting his neighbors and major trading partners first. trump's tweet today, getting ready for my big foreign trip.
we will be strongly protecting american interests, that's what i like to do. pete williams in that regard he is hoping to get away from all of the controversy surrounding what is going around with james comey, and what rod rosenstein has been telling the hill. >> we have the test of what he said to the house and senate in the closed door briefings today, and what stands out to me is that he is telling members of congress that he reached the conclusion last fall that james comey should be out as fbi director. he says in one of his first meetings with jeff sessions last winter, when sessions was still a u.s. senator, they talked about need for new leadership. he says his concerns were restoring credibility, respe
respecting the authority of the department of justice, and eliminating leaks. he said i thought it was appropriate then to seek a new leader. he said by the time he and jeff sessions were called into that meeting earlier this month, that ro rosenstein already reached the conclusion that he should go. >> the longest tenure other than jay edgar hoover. he is not going to come out and give a report unless there is a criminal indictment, correct? >> he will have to issue a report when it is done, when he work is done. he issues that report to the deputy attorney general and whether or not it is made public or not is up to the deputy. if he files any criminal charges, that would become public. i think it is fair to say he is not a media found. i think he has given three or
four news conferences in his time as fbi director. it's not that he dislikes the press, it is just seen as an indui incumbrance to his job. i remember when he was appointed by janet reno, he made a point of publicly saying what his mission was, and he says that is something that mueller ought to do as well, say publicly what he is going to do. i have heard of no plans so far by bob mueller to do any such thing. >> pete williams, and peter alexander, thank you for starting us off. republican senator susan collins is a member of the senate intelligence committee joining me from capitol hill. you heard yesterday from rod rosenstein and what is the
mandate now? >> i raised that exact question with the deputy attorney general. i read his order appointing bob mueller who is universally regarded as the right choice. it seems clear to me from my conversation with the deputy attorney general that mr. moo mueller is going to focus primarily on whether or not criminal charges should be brought in this very complexion cas -- complex case. that means there is a very important role for the senate intelligence to play in displaying the counter intelligence aspects of this case. after all, while the special council can decide whether or not criminal charges are warranted, only congress can decide if additional sanctions on russia are warnranted. >> you have a unique
perspective. you started on capitol hill as a young intern in the office of bill cohen. a remember house member from maine on the house impeachment committee. no one -- i'm not suggesting that we're going anywhere near there, but you saw the strains on the system and how it worked with richard nixon? >> i did. i was a 21-year-old college intern in 1974 in that watergate summer. i saw the difficult decisions that then congressman bill cohen had to make when it came to voting for the articles of impeachment. i was very young then, but it seems to me this has a different feel to it, and i think it is important that we not let the
speculation get ahead of the facts in this case. one other difference in a i would note is that it seemed until that summer that president nixon was able to continue with his agenda. what is difference that i see on capitol hill today is each day we seem to be overtaken by another crisis emanating from the white house. health care and other important issues that have been a distraction. >> the white house has not been able to keep their gears in sync right now. i want to ask you about joe lieberman, who is a former colleague, and widely admired. former nominee for vice president. but a lot of people are suggesting that a former elected official is a bad choice. what do you think about that?
>> i don't agree with that. i think it would be an issue if joe were still in the senate. then i think it would not be an appropriate choice. but he left public service, his job in the senate some years ago. he is a man of incredible ib inti -- integrity. he is incredibly smart, and you know that joe will always do the right thing. i think he is a terrific choice. also former congressman mike rogers, former chair of the intelligence committee of the house and a former fbi agent. so either of them would do a great job. do i think it would be a mistake to appoint someone who is currently in public office, but joe has not been here for several years. >> and we have been told now that we shod not expect an
appointmt before the president leaves, so they are apparently still wrestling with the decision or deciding not to roll it out today, at least. that doesn't mean there won't be leaks. do you a problem with the fact that joe lieberman is associated with the law firm that associates with the president, david friedman, and the new ambassador to israel. does that bother you? >> this issue came up with bob mueller as well. apparently his law firm remitted ivanka trump. i think it's not fair to apply a different standard. and to the best of my knowledge, joe lieberman did not directly represent donald trump. it's easy now have have chinese walls in law firms so that people are involved only in certain cases. so, i think the situation is
very similar to bob mueller's situation and would not be an obstacle to joe being the fbi director. >> i want to ask you about james comey and his apparent feelings compared to what has been said by his friends. he talked to friends, one of them has been with us, and this is what ben wittis has to say the other night about that incident in the blue room when comey was trying to hang back against the wall, and the president drew him forward and appare apparently -- we can see, sort of brought him into a hug, that comey felt was inappropriate. let's watch what he had so say. >> what he told me was that it was bad enough he was there. bad enough there would be a handshake, but you know, there
reallyasn't gng to be a hug. and sof you watch the video, he extends his hand, and comby's hand's are london, and he extends the hand, but the hug is entirely one sided. one is shaking hands and the other is hugging, and comey was disgusted by the episode. he thought it was an intentional attempt compromise him in public. >> one of the issues finish you in the senate will be whether or not there was pressure on comey, if he felt compromised, if there was, to put it bluntly, an obstruction of justice. >> this is why we need to hear directly from director comey in the incident that has been widely reported where it has been alleged that the president asked director comey to drop the
investigation of mike flynn. so much depends on the tone of voice, the exact words said, the context. there is a big difference in the president said to director comey "you know i just fired the guy, he suffered enough" versus "i want you to end the investigation now and if you don't you're in trouble." a big difference and that's why we need to know exactly what was said. i will say that i'm sympathetic to the criticisms of how director comey handled the case involving hillary clinton last year. clearly he should not in my view, and in the view o the legal exrts with him that i have consulted, have come forward and had a press conference last july in which he asserted the authority of the justice department to make
prosecutorial decisions and gave his personal views of [ applause clinton's conduct. he is very honorable and dedicated to public service, he did make a serious mistake in judgment. i think the president made a serious mistake in judgment in even bringing up any investigation, if in fact he did so. >> that is tul be determineall and that's why we want to hear from director comey, as you said. thank you for being with us today. as we just reported, the white house will not name a new fbi director today. a closer look at who is on the short list for top cop, next. you're watching andrea mitchell reports on msnbc. ♪
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wrote his very, very strong director. >> president trump still weighing his options for the next fbi director. joining me now is jeremy bash. and nbc national security analyst and a chief council. and john mclaughlin, who works at johns hopkins university and an nbc security analyst. you have both worked with fbi directors, you know the job description. the president weighing a number of candidates. we know joe lieberman is a front runner, what qualities and what do you think about t objection to anyone that served in elected office in the past. >> law enforcement experience is paramount. second is a political. i think what the white house
ought to do here is just keep ann andy mccabe in the in the job. he is highly credible, and he is kpi te competent, she not political, he has experience, and let the mueller move forward. >> didn't he upset the white house with some of his testimony already on the russian investigation. >> he told the truth, that should not be a disqualification. >> john mclaughlin, you have the closest connection as acting cia director with your colleagues at the fbi and other intelligences, bob mueller, you said it is a great choice, but for the special council, but what about for fbi. >> i think they need a professional in that job.
the names that have been mentioned are all people that people like myself and jeremy, i'm sure, respect like senator lieberman, fran townsend and others. they can all do the job, but can they do the job in a way that leaves the congress and american public absolutely sure it is absolu insulated from any political pressure. >> and our producer there about the readout, the assessment of that north korean missile launch. they did manage the reentry which is a critical step for delopingn icbm that could reach e u.s. >> when you're developing a missile like this, there are crucial things they have to learn to do. they have to get it off of the
launch pad, and they have to ignite a second stage at a tie tuesday, get it to ignite, and ultimately ignite a third stage. the important part is getting one to separate, go off, and reenter in the atmosphere. the last time i know they that, in 1998, a missile test. they put two satellites in space, but that doesn't require a reentry. that just means getting it up there and into orbit. >> and jeremy, the trip. you have been talking to white house officials and other people about this big trip that a president who has never done anything like this is now embarking on. he didn't start easily by going to quebec, toronto, mexico city. >> the trip is -- you're going to hear a lot about outreach to
the muslim world. you will hear about countering extremendousi extremendousi extremis extremism. it will be confronting iran. they have a common adversary. they want them be bound together to confront iran in the region. i think the tensions will escalate in the next six to 12 months. >> and you have elections today, so called elections, but it could be a real issue if right now -- rouhani could lose because of his deal with the u.s. >> it could be a very big deal. someone that could be a real hardliner could be elected. >> in the dark, is there a
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fresh signs of a riff between the president and his vice president. a source saying vice president mike pence has been kept in the dark about mike flynn's alleged wrong doing. he cited a mat earn of not informing the vice president and calling it malpractice or unintentional, either are unacceptable. joining me now is a former aide to many candidates and presidents. we know relationships can be awkward. there was friction between al gore and hillary clinton because they were competing for the same roles, but the relationship between president obama and joe biden were so close. how do we explain the vice
president not knowing about mike flynn -- >> i think vice president pence is on a very dangerous tangent here. this is a political marriage and they're stuck together, there is really no way to separate yourself from the president of the united states unless it is very personal. the vice president can't get away from the president, and pence's defense, the out of the room defense, i think will be hard to old up and it diminishing to him even if it is true. i don't think she on the right approach to this right now. >> joe biden was quoted assaying that hillary clinton was not a great candidate, but she would have been a good president. >> i think she ran a better
campaign than he gives her credit for, she could have been a great president. vice president biden ran for president twice. he want today be president. he had personal problems with tranl i did in the family. he wanted to run and could not do it, but i understand why he still has feelings about that. >> the other thing we have been noting is the awkward hug, james comey complaining to friends, talking about that awkward hug in the blue room where comey said that he was disgusted by what he viewed as the president's effort to compromise him and his independence. and they have now tweeted some home video of another awkward hug showing during debate prep,
getting into the role. he was playing trump, and showed how he grabbed hillary and chased her across the floor. it is quite amazing. >> yes, director comey needed felip's help, and secretary clinton did not want to be diminished that way. she didn't want to hug him or be in a hug, director comey didn't do as much practicing. >> there has been a lot of talk about the oba-bin bromance. there was friction with joe biden speaking his mind, the open mike comment, but the relationship became so close and in tragedy became even closer.
>> yes, particularly the tragedies, and disciplined to understand that when you're vice president, your job is to support the president and help make president successful. i think if mike pence -- i think it is time for him to speak some truth to power. they need to clean whaup is dysfunctional, and the fact that pence can pull himself out of that, i don't think that will work for him as vice president. >> great to see you, thank you. oval a office debrief. the president of colombia will join me here. on that day you will walk into a room where 15 people will be waiting... 12 behind the sofa, 2 behind the table and 1 and a half behind a curtain.
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september 8th. it will be up to the judge. the judge will decide is part of this agreement, 28 months or less, he cannot appeal it. that is part of this agreement, part of the guilty plea. he was tearful when he read a statement, i want to read a statement where he talked about the impulses he had. he said i accept full responsibility for my conduct, i have a sickness but not an i kuku -- excuse. i apologize to all of those i hurt, and he was very emotional reading that. he said he is in an intensive program. another part of this agreement,
he will have to give up his iphone, andrea. >> thank you for that update from new york. meanwhile back here in washington, thursday juan manuel santos was at the white house. he won the noble peace prize last year for ending the war with the gorillas. they talked about the peace deal and the controversial deal to build a wall in mexico. >> welcome, mr. president, it's a great privilege to have you here. you and the president met and you spoke about the controversial wall and he defended the wall he still wants to build, what do you say about the wall? >> what i said in times is the
best wall anyone can build is to give the people of latin america to have a better life. a chance for employment, to reduce violence in central america, and to have economic development. that is the pest wall because then there would not be endeuced to go north to seek a better life. each precedent in columbia, bra skill, argentina, should work for the people that we govern for them to have a better future and then we would not need walls. >> the controversy around the world, but specifically in all of latin america? >> of course, of course. many of them feel discriminated.
why do we not have the opportunity to go to the u.s. and have a better life? and of course, to stop anything, immigration or goods, that is something that and when people regret it. >> you spoke about the drug crisis and it is something you have dealt with -- >> 14 years ago. and ts is a war that had not been won. it is not colombia's problem, but we must work together. it's the only way that we can control this big problem, and
that's what we're doing. in the case of colombia this time, the peace process gives us a unique opportunity to go and give the alternative that is viable and durable long term. so this is a unique opportunity and we will work together to take advantage of this opportunity. >> you were at the white house at a critical moment. what is your move there, you saw the president deflecting questions about the firing of the fbi director, and the new special council, mr. mueller? >> this is politics, i have never seen, but they said they have never seen so many journalists in a press conference. of course it is not because of me, it is because of the situation at this moment in washington. happy because the bipartisan ry
relationship that we have that is privileged, we consider ourselves -- to the people that are in the problems for them to solve it, i was asked a question about what advice i would give president trump, and i said he is a grown up, he can take care of himself, i'm in no position to give advice. >> thank you for visiting us us here in the just. >> thank you, sir. coming up, travel alert, the president departing for his first foreign trip next hour. why potential pit fals await him
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president trump is about to embark on his first foreign trip has president. the trip starts with an arab summit. it will incloouf a g 7 meeting in sicily. all of this is complicated by his controversial statements in the campaign. >> i know something about nato and i have a lot of common sense. here is the problem, it is obs leet. >> i think islam hates us. there is something there that is a tremendous hatred. >> the pope said maybe trump is not christian. for a religious leader to question a person's fate is unacceptable. >> and president trump shared highly sensitive information from israel with the russian
foreign minister. and this week, they refused to say that the west wall is joining me now with all the inside scoop, rick stagle, and former "time" magazine editing manager. and ann guerin, correspondent for "the washington post." welcome both. ann, you've been talking to people about this trip. they're going start in riyadh, and they're going to get a good welcome there, despite the muslim ban and all the rest. 50 arab leaders who were distressed with president obama over the way mu bbarak was tread and have really embraced this president as a hard liner against iran. >> absolutely. the saudis are delighted, beyond delighted that trump is making saudi arabia his first stop. they were happy to host him and
happy to host this really large gathering of arab leaders, which will be a huge show of support for him. and also the scene of the speech that he will give about islam. you played some of the greatest hits there, some of the things he said about islam during the campaign. but from the saudi perspective, all is forgiven. they say very clearly that what a candidate says on the campaign trail is one thing, but how a u.s. leader deals with them, including selling them billions in weapons is quite another. >> rick, as someone who as a journalist covered these trips and as a diplomatic official advanced these trips and traveled yourself, they can be comply kat -- complicated, even an experienced foreign policy leader. >> they are highly, highly scripted. if you don't want to make a
mistake, then follow the script. trump is not known for following the script. the first stop in saudi arabia, they're pulling out all the stops for him. the key there is muhammad ben solom solomon. he's a transformational figure potentially in saudi arabia. he's put together for president trump, president trump's big deliverable is this counterextremist violent messaging center, which basically we set up with him before we left office and at the end of the day the white house did not approve it. i think it's a good and positive thing. >> and just to be clear, this is the 30 something year old son and deputy crown prince of the king who is a leader trying to transform the economy of saudi arabia. he's had to reverse a lot of reforms because of economic conditions. >> he's a dynamic figure.
he's very tall. he's very young. his english is getting better. the last time i was there and spent several hours with him, he famously said it was terrible mistake we made to not allow women to drive and movie theaters. he would like to bring saudi arabia into the 21st century, if that's possible. >> now, the next stop is israel, where i will be. i'm heading there this weekend. ann guerin, there have been so many missteps. obviously the relationship between benjamin netanyahu and this president is so much closer than president obama. but the sharing of that intelligence with the russians has infuriated israeli leaders. >> some of the tenons that did come to define netanyahu's relationship with obama are creeping back in here. clearly the intelligence sharing
is a new development. but some of the other frustrations where, you know, the israelis want sort of unconditional support in public from the united states, even though they know they're going to get pressure in private, that obama wasn't always willing to deliver, well, trump hasn't been willing to deliver that either. and the western wall thing is one example. and then there was another dust-up over whether he would give a speech at moussada, which he isn't going to do now. >> and rick, the pope, the president has been critical of the pope. so that's going to be a little delicate. and then he was under nato, and reporting that the nato leaders have been told that even though the president has come back from his campaign rhetoric about nato being obsolete, that they don't think that he can sit through these nato meetings. tell us about the nato meetings from the inside perspective.
>> i had trouble sitting through hem myself, andrea. i think what people want to see on that tail end of the trip when he's talking to nato folks, they want to see a stable america and an american that's not isolationist, and an america that wants to observe these post world war ii institutions that we set up. and people are looking for stability. nobody wants a destabilize isolationist america. trump has made some progress in terms of not talking about those things. but if he's going there to chide them and going to act like the rent man and said you need to pay up more for nato, that's not going to be a good thing. it will be very, very heightly scripted as we said early. >> indeed. thanks to both of you. much more ahead. we'll be right back.
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and that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." next week, i'll be reporting from israel, covering the president's first foreign trip. follow us online, on facebook and twitter. and katie is up next right here on nbc. hi, katie. >> hi, andrea. good afternoon. i'm filling in for craig melvin. my big foreign trip, that's what donald trump is calling it. this hour, we'll see the president leave for his first overseas trip as commander in chief. this morning, the president tweeting he'll protect american
interests. but how will other world leaders receive him and his policies? new reports that vice president mike pence was kept out of the loop 5babout the investigation into michael flynn. and the right stuff? why joe biden saying hillary clinton wasn't a great candidate for president but he was. we start with that big international trip, though. a nine-day visit will take the president to the middle east and to europe, two areas of the world that have not taken kindly to his past rhetoric about islam. president trump leaves the fbi without a nominee for director and a domestic agenda ensnarled in investigations. in particular, his now former national security adviser. today, the deputy attorney general gave house members a chance to ask questions about the election, and the events of the past few weeks,