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tv   MSNBC Live With Alex Witt  MSNBC  May 27, 2017 10:00am-11:01am PDT

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which adds fuel to my bottom line. what's in your wallet? hello, i'm jacob soboroff at nbc's brokaw news center in los angeles and we are following breaking news. president trump heading back to washington at this hour and new reaction from the administration a short time ago in response to one of the headlines that awaits the president when he gets back to the united states. that being "the washington post"'s report on jared kushner's attempt to set up back channel communications with russia. here's national security advisor h.r. mcmaster during an off-camera briefing with reporters this morning. >> we're all wondering why somebody who is now a senior administration official would want or need a back channel to russia, and from your view what the security concerns are surrounding that, if it's
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appropriate to set something like that up? >> no, it's not that i'm in any way been involved with or have any knowledge of. >> president trump made no mention of the new reports to troops in sicily earlier as he wrapped up his nine-day trip. here's the president doubling down on comments he made before nato leaders this week. >> a big difference over the last year. money is actually starting to pour into nato from countries that would not have been doing what they're doing now had i not been elected, i can tell you that. money is starting to pour in. >> joining me now is nbc's ken dilanian. ken, good to see you. nbc has not confirmed the reporting from "the washington post" that was reportedly intercepted from this ball, the russian ambassador, sergey kislyak, made to russia. before i get to a question, i want to play more from national
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security advisor h.r. mcmaster in that briefing saying he's not concerned about the kushner report. let's listen to that. >> we have back channel communications with a number of countries, so generally speaking, about back channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discrete manner so it doesn't predispose you toward any sort of content of that conversation or anything. so no, i would not be concerned about it. >> he says this is about discrete communication. what do you make of mcmaster's response there and what type of red flags does this report in particular raise in the intelligence community? >> yeah, jacob, i think many people are going to find that to be a remarkably incautious statement by a reputable national security expert. people i talked to cannot find any precedent for a transition team trying to not only open a back channel but allegedly attempting to use russian communications to do it. the folks i'm talking to are looking at this and saying the only reasonable explanation for this is mr. kushner wanted to
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avoid monitoring by the u.s. intelligence community and they find that deeply suspicious. for that reason, they're saying, again, if this "washington post" story is accurate, this represents a new disturbing new chapter in this whole trump/russia saga. you've got to remember, this would have happened after it was well established that russia had been interfering in the election campaign to benefit the trump folks. and the obama administration was on its way to announcing sanctions against russia. the trump folks are entering office. they're having all these meetings we're now learning, many of which were undisclosed. they have reasons they said they didn't disclose them. but this is something different. it's inexplicable if true why mr. kushner would want a back channel communication and it's interesting that nobody from kushner's camp has denied the story, jacob. >> ken, break this down for me. help me understand. "the washington post" reported s kislyak was taken aback by the suggest that an american could or want to use russian communications here. why would he be taken aback by
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that? >> because these are spying adversaries, our two countries, right? and we are constantly trying to spy on them and they're trying to spy on us. we're very careful about our contacts with one another. he would know, for example, that the russian embassy in washington is closely monitored by the fbi so jared kushner can't just walk in there or even try to sneak in there without some extreme cloak and dagger maneuvers. so ambassador kislyak has probably never heard such a request from anybody, somebody who's going to be adjacent to the white house a few weeks from that point. he must have been stunned to hear that, jacob. >> not only adjacent to the white house, a senior administration official, ken. i want to talk to you about some other stories, because they literally don't stop. nbc news, our colleagues, have uncovered more on russian banker sergei gorcov. could that actually prove as troublesome or more troublesome for kushner and the president? >> it's not clear yet, jacob, but this is really interesting.
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this man, mr. gorkov is a putin crony. he graduated from a russian intelligence school. he's the head of a russian-owned state bank under u.s. sanctions and badly wants those sanctions to be lifted. shortly after this meeting between kushner and kislyak, mr. kushner apparently met with the head of this bank. we have no idea what was discussed or what the agenda was, but there's been a theme and a number of suspicions that the russians were hoping that the trump administration would lift sanctions. now, the trump administration has not lifted sanctions, but they're being closely watched to see where that policy goes. you know, we know that congressional investigators are very interested in this meeting and we can presume that the fbi is as well. >> all right, nbc's ken dilanian, always grateful to turn to you for reporting like this. thanks very much. i want to bring in republican congressman francis rooney, a member of the foreign affairs committee. good day to you, congressman. i want to get right to your reaction to these reports, specifically "the washington
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post" report of jared kushner's alleged attempts to create this back channel with russia. >> well, back channel diplomacy and informal communications with foreign governments and intelligence agents and things like that are fairly common in our history. i think back to bobby kennedy's back channel work in october of 1962. but it is unusual here that this was during a transition and the comment that was made that it's unusual to have this level of contact prior to inauguration is a new twist on it. >> yeah. i was going to say respectfully, this is not the cuban missile crisis. we're talking about a transition team, an incoming white house administration talking to a foreign adversary who are the subject of the united states sanctions by the outgoing administration. what type of concern does that raise for you, congressman? >> well, it's a little unusual, there's no doubt about it. but there -- if that transition team was trying to get information that they didn't have and they felt was important, i don't know that any
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laws were broken by it. it just seems a little unusual to me. my biggest problem with the whole deal is we're getting distracted on this russia business when we need to be solving the problems that the american people hired us to solve. >> well, but is it a distraction -- you just heard ken dilanian talk about the idea of an incoming senior administration official going into a foreign adversary that could very well be and in fact it should be expected that they are surveilling everything that is going on in that location, if indeed this was to happen at the russian embassy. i mean is that actually a distraction or is that important to the nation's national security? >> well, of course they were surveilling him. everybody surveils everybody in this business, as your previous guest made clear. but they're free to get information as long as they're not like on the payroll of a foreign government or something. it sounds to me like they were just seeking information in an unusual manner, i'll grant you that. but that doesn't mean it's illegal. really the only hard fact we have in any of this is that they bugged the dnc headquarters and
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couldn't bug ours. >> so you don't think this is espionage, something approaching espionage, congressman? >> no, not at this point unless some facts come up. i think we have some outreach to ostensibly gain some kind of information and we do not know what yet, but i don't know there th there's any illegality by a private citizen doing that. actually even if he's in an official capacity i don't know if there's illegality because as i say back channel communications are used all the time. >> this instance is certainly different. i just talked to nbc's ken dilanian about the briefing with gary cohn and h.r. mcmaster. but the president did not hold any news conferences during his entire trip overseas. we haven't heard anything from him except for an aside about a great win in montana. should the president have at least held one press conference or talked at the end of the trip to the u.s. press, other world press, as many of the other leaders from around world did?
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>> well, it's above my pay grade to be telling the president of the united states what to do. but i know my -- from my own personal point of view, i think a partnership with the press is extremely important to get a message out. and so it just depends on whether he wants to get a message out or not, i guess. >> let's talk about some of the highlights from the president's trip. you heard him earlier in that clip talking about his successes there. he made comments before nato leaders about their financial contribution as well. two days ago the president declined to tell nato leaders whether the united states will uphold its commitment to article five, and then we had der speak el saying, this is a quote, the germans are bad, very bad, when pok speaking with eu leaders about germany's trade policy. what would you like to see the president do to mend fences with our allies. clearly we are seeing strained ties today.
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>> i think at some point the state department or the army is going to have to make clear that the nato treaty is something that we stand behind. i don't know that the president intended to employ anything else. he just didn't mention it. but i think being a negotiator, i think he's focused on trying to get those countries to pay their fair share, so maybe he figures if he doesn't say anything about that yet, it will goad them into getting up over 2%. if greece can do 2.3%, i would certainly think the rest of western europe could do it. >> but you're not disappointed that the president didn't explicitly endorse article 5 there like every other nation while at nato? >> i think at some point we're going to have to do that. article 5 is the key to the whole nato alliance. it's like the monroe dom trctri for europe. i don't know why he didn't do that. >> let's turn quickly before i let you go to other issues that await the president when he returns to washington. i want to play for you what republican senator mark sanford -- congressman, i should say, told mick mulvaney at a hearing on the president's budget this week.
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take a look. >> you have said that the foundation of your budget is 3% growth. and i have looked every which way at how you might get there, and you can't get there. it's not only a myth, it's frankly a lie. >> this is just one of the problems, of course, critics are citing with this budget. simple question, is this budget feasible? >> well, you know, the house originates revenue -- or spending in the divided government that we have, so i think the president's budget is a suggestion that will be taken up by the appropriate house appropriations committees and they will have different views, i'm sure. but at the end of the day, we've got to get this country growing again or our children and grandchildren are not going to have the opportunities that we have. reagan made it happen, but we had a lot less national debt when reagan cut regulations and taxes. so i'm hopeful that if we can cut taxes, remove regulations and somehow deal with our debt problem, which is as you know based on entitlements primarily,
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that we can get the economy growing faster than the anemic growth we have now. >> i know you've got some town halls coming up on wednesday in your home district. i'm sure you're going to face questions about that health care bill. good luck to you, sir. republican congressman francis rooney of florida, thank you so much. >> thanks for having me on. >> you got it. fighting back against leaks, back channels and allegations in the white house. can a war room the president is forming help give him the upper hand? stay tuned.
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now to new reaction from national security advisor h.r. mcmaster to "the washington post" report saying jared kushner discussed setting up back channel communications with russian ambassador sergey kislyak according to multiple u.s. officials briefed on russian intercepts.
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during an off-camera press briefing in italy, mcmaster was asked whether he would be concerned if someone in the administration set up a back channel. here is what he had to say. >> we have back channel communications with a number of countries, so generally speaking, about back channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discrete manner, so it doesn't predispose you toward any sort of content of that conversation or anything. so, no, i would not be concerned about it. >> joining me now is seema metah, political reporter for "the los angeles times" and john harwood shall harwood, editor at large for cnbc. what does h.r. mcmaster's response say about how the administration is going to handle this? >> it seems like they're going to try to say there's nothing to see here. there's been a constant flow of accusations and allegations about meetings with various member of the administration and the campaign. this is just the latest person. we also had michael flynn. we had jeff sessions, and now
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the son-in-law, one of the closest people to the president. so i can't see how this goes away. also with the ongoing investigation of russia's interference in our elections. >> john, i want to turn to you. why are back channels typically established, and what type of scenario, and what are you hearing about the potential reaches why kushner may have wanted to create one in advance going into the white house with russia? >> there is no good reason for why a top advisor to the president of the united states would want to establish a back channel with the soviet union -- i'm sorry, with russia, using russian communication facilities, none at all. now, back channel communications is a way of referring to informal communications, but what henry mcmaster said makes absolutely no sense. he says we have back channel communications. who is we? we is the united states government through various means. in this case, you had a top
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advisor to the president-elect of the united states who was establishing his back channel to russia to avoid being overheard by u.s. intelligence officials. u.s. intelligence officials are the we, they are the united states. and so what mcmaster said just doesn't add up. >> seema, "the washington post" report is based on accounts of russian intercepts of communications between kislyak and the kremlin. how reliable is the information in those russian intercepts? some have said that the russians will put out false information to throw off the united states government. >> and we heard about this earlier with the comey investigation, that they had floated some news which is what prompted comey to have that press conference in the middle of the election about hillary clinton's e-mails. so i don't know about the reliability, but the thing i question with "the washington post's" review, they received this information in a letter in december so i assume they were working to confirm it. you have to wonder what else was in the letter. the suggestion was the letter
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came from somebody involved in the transition. >> john, reuters has its own major report out saying kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with russian ambassador sergey kislyak. how damaging, if true, could that be? >> extremely. those forms that you fill out in order to get clearances and enter the government are very serious business. and i guarantee you that bob mueller, who is the special counsel appointed in the justice department to oversee this investigation, takes it seriously. i think jared kushner is in significant amount of trouble and, you know, his -- the explanation that his lawyer put out a statement saying, well, he doesn't recall the discussions as reported or whatever, it's kind of a weasely denial. but this is a difficult situation. when you combine undisclosed contacts as well as this attempt to establish a secret channel, it does not look good at all for jared kushner.
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>> amidst all of this, by the way, john and seema, a new report from reuters talks about a war room being launched by the trump administration to respond to this russian probe with jared kushner, obvious lowly a key pl in the plans. seema, do you, what would jared kushner have to do to fall out of favor to the president in this instance? he's in the middle of all of this, overseeing now reportedly this war room. >> he's the son-in-law. i mean he's the husband of ivanka, it's hard to see how you disentangle this. also the other thing we're hearing is that the white house is going to -- there's talk about now having legal counsel monitor the president's tweets. there's talk of a staff shakeup perhaps with the spokesperson so the white house is going to be in a frenzy next week trying to get ahead of this situation. >> john, i know you want to get a special last word in before we go, so the floor is yours. >> we talk all the time about problems in politics and difficult people and dishonest people in politics, but there's very good people in american politics and we lost one of them
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last night. sergio bendixon who was the first latino to run a presidential campaign. i knew him from ted kennedy's presidential campaign to hillary clinton's. and it's just a huge loss. our politics is going to be poorer for the loss of sergio bendixon. >> john harwood, seema metah, thank you both for joining me. coming up next, no doubt investigators on capitol hill and the fbi will be digging into these published reports about jared kushner. where will these investigations go from here? coming up, i will speak with rhode island congressman david cicilline who sits on both the house and judiciary -- house judiciary and foreign affairs committees. stay tuned.
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all of its flights today from heathrow airport seen here and gatwick airport, both in the london area. you can see the cancellations have caused just unbelievable congestion at those airports. the airline has not said what has caused what it calls an i.t. failure, but they say there is not evidence of a cyber attack. british airways says it's working on the outages that affect check-ins and departures as well. here is video from an american traveler stuck at an airport in budapest, hungary, where travelers have been stranded today. we'll keep you updated on this story throughout the day here on msnbc live. happening now, the severe weather threat for the ohio valley into the southern plains and the appalachians. this video is from indianapolis where strong winds caused some damage overnight. joining me now, msnbc's meteorologist, bonnie schneider. bonnie, what's happening out there this holiday weekend? >> well, jacob, just moments ago a tornado watch was issued for parts of kansas and missouri. this goes until 7:00 p.m. central time tonight. this is an area we're watching
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for strong thunderstorms just south of kansas city. we have severe thunderstorm warnings well in place. so unfortunately it's going to be a dangerous day as we go through much of the afternoon into the evening hours. i want to talk about travel since it's such a busy travel weekend. for this afternoon we're looking at dangerous travel, possibly thunderstorms along i-70. that's where we have the tornado watch right now. also further to the east we could see some scattered storms impact your drive on i-81 as well. now, for tomorrow a lot of that storm will push further to the east. we're not looking in terms of the threat of severe weather, but still downpours that could slow traffic down on i-90, 77 and i-40 from little rock down through tennessee. for memorial day itself, also stormy but this time we'll be impacted on the south and the east coast. >> all right, bonnie, we're going to stay in close touch with you. appreciate the update. coming up, president trump wraps up nine days overseas, but in all of that time he did not hold a news conference. is that a problem? if you like answers like me, the answer is yes. stay tuned. my belly pain and constipation?
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welcome back. i'm jacob soboroff at nbc's brokaw news center in los angeles. at the half hour, here is what we are monitoring. the president now on his way back to washington after a whirlwind nine-day overseas trip. his last stop, the naval air base in sicily where he thanked troops and called his trip a home run. kristen welker is in it isitaly more. kristen, the president did not make himself available for any questions at all, aside from an aside to you guys about montana during this entire trip. >> reporter: it is incredibly rare for a president not to hold a news conference during a foreign trip, jacob, particularly when it's his first foreign trip. this was an historic week. obviously we had a lot of questions. his top advisers, gary cohn, h.r. mcmaster were asked about why he decided not to have a press conference. their explanation for it, they said he's very busy and he has a lot of meetings.
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of course his predecessors have similar schedules when they went overseas, but they almost always had press conferences, particularly when you have a significant foreign trip like this one. we did just hear from the president, as you pointed out. he spoke to u.s. troops who were stationed here and really used that as a chance to tout what he sees as some of the big accomplishments of this trip. he says he got many nato countries to agree to pay more in their defense, and he also struck that arms deal with saudi arabia a week ago. he said it's going to bring back jobs. he just tweeted this, jacob. he said bringing hundreds of billions of dollars back to the usa from middle east which will mean jobs, jobs sha, jobs so al him to talk about one of his familiar talking points back from home. speaking of back home, jacob, he is traveling back to a number of mounting controversies, including over the russia probe. today "the washington post" reporting that jared kushner, his son-in-law, tried to set up a back channel with russia. "the times" adding the nugget
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that back channel may have been to discuss syria strategy. now nbc news hasn't independently confirmed this report and the white house hasn't commented, but some of my colleagues did try to press top officials about this during an off-camera briefing earlier today. take a listen to that exchange. >> it's not like he's out of -- he's not involved with what's going on in the united states, he is. but this issue that you're talking to the general about is not one he is spending time with on this trip. >> are you saying no foreign leaders are asking him about his relationship or his staff's relationship with russia, it hasn't come up at all? not even once? >> no, it hasn't. >> should we assume he's going to retain that position for planned future trips? >> we're not going to comment on jared. we're just not going to comment. >> reporter: so that was the official line from top officials here traveling with the president in sicily. he is, of course, now headed home and we understand he is bracing for a very robust defense once he does get home, setting up a war room that's going to be headed up by reince
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priebus, steve bannon and jared kushner, meant to deal with these types of news cycles. one more point, though, that i will make about policy, jacob, has to do with the paris climate agreement. of course the president weighing whether he wants to pull out of the paris climate agreement. he did not join the communique today, the united states did not join in saying that they want to reauthorize and support the paris climate agreement. the president saying he will make a decision about that this coming week. back to you, jacob. >> kristen, i've got to ask you quickly, of course the president was quick to tweet about this arms deal with saudi arabia and the jobs he says that's going to bring to the united states. we didn't hear him because of the lack of press conferences or media availabilities talk about the news of the day, that the russian ambassador told moscow, this "washington post" report that jared kushner wanted these secret communications with the kremlin. my understanding is that those news reports were on screens in the room with h.r. mcmaster and gary cohn as they were, i guess you could say, not talking about
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this? >> reporter: well, right. and they were getting pressed by reporters. you heard them there facing a round of questions. we just played a snippet of it. but i can tell you that they got a number of questions. they wanted to keep it focused on the trip. they wanted to keep it focused on policy. understandable, they have been here for nine days traveling overseas working on all of these different policy proposals. but the reality is once the president and his team get back home, they are going to have to start answering some of these questions. obviously there is now a special counsel, and as that ramps up, the questions are going to continue to ramp up as well. jared kushner's attorney saying he is willing to cooperate. we know that the fbi scrutinizing him as well. important to underscore he's not the target of the investigation, but still, he is someone who they think will have information pertinent to this investigation. jacob. >> and hopefully on camera so we can actually see, kristen welker, what they have to say. >> hopefully. >> kristen, enjoy your last few
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hours there and see you back here state side. >> thank you. let's bring in democratic congressman david cicilline of rhode island, member of the house foreign affairs and judiciary committees. good to see you. >> good to see you. >> i've got to start with "the washington post" explosive report. russian intercepts claim jared kushner wanted to set up secret back channel communications with russia. do you think that this is russia duping those listening in as they have been known to do or do you have reasons to believe that this is actually true? >> well, i don't think we know. obviously if this report is true, it's very problematic. it either means that jared kushner was incredibly naive and dangerously so, or something else is going on. but when you look at this reporting coupled with the fact that there were 18 contacts between the trump administration and the russians that have gone unreported and that jared kushner in filling out his form for the security clearance did not tell the truth and did not include these meetings at all in december, taken in that context
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i think there's real reason to worry. there's something very serious happening here. and if jared kushner either is that naive that he thought he could make a special arrangement to secretly communicate with the russians in their embassy or by using a russian facility, it really raises a very serious question about his judgment. i think at the very least his security clearance should be suspended if this report is true, because he's either too naive and creating real danger or something else is going on. but this is why an independent investigation by the two intelligence committees in the house and the senate, why the special counsel, robert mueller, need to do their work. they need to have the resources to do their work and the independence, they need to be left alone by the trump administration, not interfered with, so we can follow these facts. wherever they lead, they lead, but we need to the facts. >> we've within using the term "back channel communications," but malcolm nance, security analyst has used the words on twitter covert espionage. what's your take on that?
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>> well, look, i think there are examples of back channels that have happened between the state department and administrations and foreign governments. what's different about this is, of course, president trump wasn't in office yet. but this was a back channel which was attempted to be out of the view of national security intelligence and diplomatic experts. you know, it's one thing to have some back channel, but to try to create it secret from your own government and from the intelligence agencies and diplomatic agencies of the united states is very unusual. and again, when you look at all the other relationships between the trump campaign and the russians and the president's admiration for vladimir putin, his unwillingness to condemn him in any way and their clear interference in the american presidential elections, it makes all of this very disturbing and very important that we follow this investigation. it needs to be thorough. and if these reports are true, it raises very serious concerns about the national security of our country and it really does, i think, call for a suspension
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of his security clearance if these reports are true because this is really very unusual. i think most people have spoken about it and said it's very weird that you would have an american official very close to the president suggesting a secret way to communicate outside of the infrastructure of government and so secret that he was will to go into russian facilities. it was even kind of odd that the russian ambassador, according to the reports, thought this is a little bit uncomfortable for me. so i think there's something very, very disturbing about these reports. >> yeah, the exact language "the washington post" report used was the russian ambassador, sergey kislyak, was taken aback. because these stories continue to pile up, congressman, i want to get to another one of them. this is a big reuters story. they are reporting that jared kushner had at least three previously undisclosed contacts with russian ambassador skislya. his attorney responded in a statement saying that mr. kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period. he has no recollection of these calls as described.
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you know, to me that is not a denial. what do you make of all of this? >> it's clearly not a denial nor have they denied the report that you just made reference to. so i think again the forms that mr. kushner filled out for his security clearance are very serious. if you lie on that form, it's a felony punishable up to five years in prison. this is serious, when someone gets a national security clearance, they are -- they receive very confidential, sensitive information that's important to the national security of the united states. it should be taken seriously. the idea that there have been a number of contacts that he has simply not reported raises a question, what are you hiding? if in fact all you were doing is trying to create a back channel to talk about syria, then why did you not reveal those contacts as you're required to do, and why was it necessary to do it outside of the normal intelligence and diplomatic and state department infrastructure? this is very unusual. i think when you couple it with all the other things we know
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about the relationship between trump officials and russian officials, there's a reason to probe further, and it's really important that we all support an independent investigation from the intelligence committees, from the independent counsel to get to the bottom of this. >> as you said, congressman, not actually acknowledging these meetings in routine disclosure forms raises a lot of questions. it also raises a lot of potential consequences, some of which you just went through. just on a personal level, if this does ultimately prove to be true and he did not disclose these meetings that we're hearing about from "the washington post" and reuters, what are the consequences you would like to see jared kushner face? >> well, for sure it's further evidence that you shouldn't have people who are not experienced or particularly well trained in these areas running important foreign policy portfolios in the white house. this is complicated, difficult work and while i admire the fact that a president has fondness for his daughter and son-in-law,
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what we really need is qualified people in these important positions that have experience and judgment and an understanding of kind of the international context. so i think the first thing would be to get qualified people in those positions to provide advice to the president and good judgment. then obviously there will obviously be a review to determine whether any laws were broken. but certainly if the reports are true, the security clearance should be suspended so we avoid this kind of problem in the future. >> just real quick because we've got to go, grounds for if true criminal charges? >> well, look, i mean you are required to be truthful on a security clearance form. it's a felony. nobody is above the law if in fact that happened. mr. kushner knowingly violated the law, he should be subjected to prosecution like everyone else. we don't know that. we don't know whether these reports are true yet, but obviously the issuing of a security clearance is serious and the government has to rely on the truthfulness of people when they fill out those forms.
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he's entitled to no more or no less on treatment on that. if he's done something wrong, he should be held accountable. >> congressman, appreciate you spending your saturday afternoon with us. good to see you. thanks again. >> good to see you. greg miller, one of the three reporters on the story, gave some insight to my colleague, chris hayes, last night. take a look. >> quite some time ago we got this letter in the mail, my colleague actually got it. it just came in her mailbox. it was typed. it had no signature. it gave no means of tracing this back to the source. but it had a lot of information in it about things that have been happening in trump tower. it appeared to be from somebody inside the transition or inside trump tower who was concerned about what this person was seeing. a lot of what's written or conveyed in this letter has sort of come -- become true over time. >> let's bring in hugh hewitt,
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msnbc political analyst and the host of the one and only "hugh hewitt show" on the radio. good to see you, hugh. there have been plenty of suspected leaks out of this white house before, but is this something new? is this a different kind of leak, this kind of information? wouldn't this have had to come from pretty darn high up in the transition structure? >> good to see you, jacob. it would. i want to begin by saying i've been listening to a lot over the last two days. about half of what i've heard is the wildest hyperventilating speculation also predicated by if true. i would like to remind the audience of two things. one, back channels are not unique. they go back to an abc news journalist, john scally, during the cuban missile crisis sitting down with the head of the kgb. they go to february of '91 with henry kissinger and it goes to may of 2009 when president obama
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and secretary clinton opened up a back channel with iran that david ignatius has written about. back channels are, therefore, not radioactive. what is the bombshell in "the washington post" report and that we have to pay attention to is the idea that anyone, but especially jared kushner, would want to use russian coms to communicate. i began my career in the department of justice as the counter intelligence special assistant, and that is so mind bogglingly dumb that i can't credit it. i can't believe that anyone would say let's use your stuff if they knew anything about counter intelligence. so my line, jacob, is that everyone has got to dial back the wildly speculative rapid judgment of everything until and unless robert mueller steps up to the podium and says we have a real case of a real breakdown,
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including allegations that it has been broken by jared kushner on the fs86. i just don't think we have a predicate for that. >> let me ask you the same question i asked congressman rooney and i'll use the dreaded "if," don't hate me. >> if. >> if this does prove to be true, hugh, we're not talking about the same type, though, of back channel communications as the cuban missile crisis or the iran nuclear deal. i mean those were done by administrations, you know, in the midst of making big deals or enormous moves with national security implications. we're talking about a transition, an incoming senior administration official who's not yet in the white house. >> we are, and that's a huge distinction because they don't yet have clearances, if i understand it correctly, to conduct that kind of thing. however, it's all speculative. and we'd have to go back and look at transitions past and the degree of distrust between this incoming administration and the outgoing administration to get the appropriate context in which to assess this.
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but i do want to stress, jacob, that we have real stories in the world. "the times" of london today reports there are 23,000 jihadis in great britain, 3,000 of them actively involved. we had three terror attacks this week, one in the philippines, one in egypt. of course the manchester massacre. we've got extraordinarily successful trip by president trump. i know that the lefties don't like me to say that, but the speech in saudi arabia was very successful. the visit to israel was very successful. and, by the way, the demand on our nato allies to pony up 2% while dismissed by some on the left is not what russia wanted president trump to say. so i just think everyone has got to dial it back and wait for mr. mueller and i hope the president comes up with an fbi director quickly and moves forward expeditiously. as general mcmaster said earlier today, i don't think it's right for the white house to comment on this story. i do think it's right for
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commentators to be cautious. >> all right, hugh hewitt, i could talk to you all day, sir, unfortunately we've got to leave it there. >> thanks, jacob. >> host of "the hugh hewitt show" on the salem radio network. coming up, a republican congressman cries after hearing what is in the health care bill that he supported. that is true, 100% true. hear from the reporter who spoke to him. next hour, what can lawmakers do to prevent insurance companies from jacking up rates? i will ask congresswoman barbara lee. i love you, couch.
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some sad news to report now on a major american diplomat and foreign policy expert zbigniew brze sdplchlt inski passed away.
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we send condolences to his daughter, our colleague and friend, mika, and the entire family. mika said, "my father passed away peacefully tonight. he was known as the enduring love of his life. i know him as the devoted father that any girl could have. i love you, dad." by making ever. that's why i have the spark cash card from capital one. with it, i earn unlimited 2% cash back on all of my purchasing. and that unlimited 2% cash back from spark means thousands of dollars each year going back into my business... which adds fuel to my bottom line. what's in your wallet?
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this week, the congressional budget office released its updated score of the republican health care plan. it estimates 23 million americans will lose their coverage over the next decade. i want to bring in congressional reporter at "the independent journal review." haley, it's great to see you. did anyone reach a consensus here? it doesn't seem like the house republicans and certainly not the senate are enthusiastic about this bill. >> hi, jacob, thanks for having
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me on. that's a good question to ask and, as we saw with a lot of house republicans reacting to the cbo score, many of them were quick to discount the cbo's findings and to simply undermine and cast doubts on what they did project. and i recall speaker ryan and his press conference today after the score dropped pretty much flat out told us that he disagreed with certain findings that the cbo had related to pre-existing conditions and how individuals with those conditions will be affected by this mandate waivers for states that the freedom caucus fought for. there's still contention in the conference, to answer your question. >> i've got to ask you about this piece that you wrote earlier that got a lot of attention. it was fascinating to me. you describe chairman of the freedom caucus critical to this health care bill actually tearing up as he talked about losing his dad and his sister to
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cancer. so why did that strike such a chord with people? >> it was interesting. i believe part of the timing was people were waiting for meadows' reaction to the cbo score. the updated cbo score was doing the math for that amendment that meadows introduced to a lot of states to do waivers for the essential health benefits and community ratings and meadows did have an emotional response, not exactly to the cbo score, i would say. there were reports afterwards that he had cried because of that and i never attempted to draw that connection but he did have a response there. i believe the tears, when he did tear up and when he was speaking with us afterward, was related to making sure people with p pre-existing conditions have enough in those high-risk pools that they are adequately funded. his sister died of breast cancer
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and his father of lung cancer. so i viewed it as sort of pledging to do right by them. so i included a lot of his response because it was different than that of his republican colleagues who were quicker to discount the cbo's analysis. >> and if i could say quickly, haley, 23 million people going off health care is certainly something to tear up about. we've got to leave it there. hope to talk to you again soon. that wraps up this hour of msnbc live. i'm not going anywhere. coming up next, a look at what the president faces next week when he gets back to washington. see you in a second. break through your allergies.
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and a crust made from scratch. because she knows that when it's cold outside... it's good food and good company that keep you warm inside. marie callender's. it's time to savor. standby. hey katy, let me show you how behind schedule we are. yeah. are those the pyrotechnics that are gonna startle me from a distance? yep. and my impractical wardrobe changes, those all set? not even close. oh, this is probably going to shine in your eyes at the worst possible time. perfect. we're looking at a real train wreck here, am i right? wouldn't it be great if everyone said what they meant? the citi® double cash card does. it lets you earn double cash back with 1% when you buy, and 1% as you pay. the citi double cash card. double means double. hey there, everyone. president trump is about to head home after his first trip overseas since taking office but it will not be

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