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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  July 21, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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sean spicer is out. sarah huckabee sanders is the new white house press secretary. that does it for me. "deadline: white house" with nicolle wallace begins right now. hi, everyone. it's 4:00. spicer is out as white house press secretary, anthony scaramucci is in as white house communications director. and sarah huckabee sanders is the new white house press secretary. becoming the third woman ever to hold the post. scaramucci hit the ground running. he took to the podium to announce sanders' promotion and make clear right away how he feels about the man he now serves. >> i think there's been at times a disconnect between the way we see the president and how much we love the president. and the way some of you perhaps see the president. i think we're doing an amazing job. i was in the oval office with him earlier today and we were talking about him being himself, letting him express his full identity. i think he has the best political instincts in the world. the people i grew up with they
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love him. so we'll get that message out. i love the president. i obviously love the country and sean decided he thought it would be better to go. his attitude is anthony is coming in, let me clear the slate for anthony and i appreciate that about sean and i love him for it. i love the president. i'm very, very loyal to the president. and i love the mission that the president has. >> if there's one thing we know about this president, he loves to be loved. anthony scaramucci said the word love 14 times in his first appearance. scaramucci was offered the position at 10:00 a.m. today and spicer announced his resignation almost immediately. spicer will stay on through august. he's served as the face of the trump white house since day one, a tenure difficult for those of us who have known him for years to watch. trump often undermined spicer and stories came out about the president's displeasure about
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his performance. with us is glenn thrush who broke the news about spicer's resignation. jonathan swann from axios, he was the first to report that the president was going to hire scaramucci. and glenn, talk about how sean's resignation was part of a larger internal power struggle. >> well, it always is, right? >> yes. >> it's like the gangs of new york. >> literally. >> so it's -- you know, from what we're hearing -- again, the lines are not that well defined. but apparently jared, ivanka and wilber ross are close to scaramucci and close to the old crew from the campaign. but ivanka and wilbur ross have been dissatisfied with sean who was a proxy for reince priebus the chief of staff so this was a significant power move.
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it was not unrelated to the ouster of marc kasowitz as the president's lead counsel and mark corallo as the spokesman. it represents sort of a move i think by the jared wing to reassert itself and we should say both priebus and bannon were dead set against this. and the president in no uncertain terms i am told informed them that it wasn't their decision. >> jonathan swann, it's a tale i have lived through, going rogue. and it's certainly the president's prerogative to do so but it's a job i have held. and if you are simply representing a faction even if it includes the president himself, there's still plenty of land mines. talk about the kind of internal situation that scaramucci walks into as he seizes his new territory in the west wing. >> well, glenn summed it up pretty well. reince priebus, you know, the whole message today that had the meeting in sean spicer's office.
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my sources in the room tell me that reince, sean and scaramucci lined up together behind sean's desk and gave this, you know, we're all on the same team. we love each other. and reince gave the whole we have been friends forever speech. but it's phony. it's just phony. okay? yes, they have known each other for a while, but reince fought like a dog to stop this happening. steve bannon was telling people it wasn't going to happen. as recently as last night and into this morning. they really tried to kill this, sean did as well and they failed. the president had made up his mind. i just add to that group that glenn mentioned before, hope hicks who i'm told is very excited about this move. so i think that reince has been significantly disempowered by this and bannon is in a very difficult position at the moment. they have to suck it up and work with him because the president made his decision and if it gets to the president through jared that they're trying to undermine him, that's not going to be good
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for them at all. >> they all undermine each other around the clock. let me play the sound of anthony scaramucci talking about his own feelings about reince. he thinks they're brothers. let's watch. >> there's been some speculation in the press about me and reince. so i want to talk about that very quickly. reince and i have been personal friends for six years. we are a little bit like brothers where we rough each other up once in a while which is totally normal for brothers. a lot of people here in have brothers so you get that. he's a dear friend. i met with him before we sat in the oval office and we are committed as truth professionals to the team and the process of getting the administration's message out. >> peter alexander i think it's no secret that this president views success in large part in terms of how things look and it is no secret that with jay sekulow he thinks he has someone
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who looks like a better cable news warrior and i think the same could be said of scaramucci. in scaramucci he has someone who looks like a smoother, more affable messenger -- whether he sees it as under siege or not, but slayed cnn over a report over scaramucci. talk about how scaramucci checks all of the boxes that are important to the president regardless of the fact that he has scant sort of traditional communications skills. >> yeah, no, he's never been a communications guy before but he's clearly a good communicator. what is particularly striking as we heard anthony scaramucci today to me is that in effect he kind of speaks the way the president might think he speaks. it's like the president looking at himself in the mirror in effect, right? this is a new yorker, a brash guy, a smooth talker in his eyes. even after the fact, my colleague from cnbc eamon javers said to him, how did it feel to be on the podium for first time -- >> let me guess, i loved it.
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>> well, yeah, not too far off. much the same way that president trump mights than question. scaramucci told him, i have to decide if it's julie roberts or sofia vergara play me in the movie. you can see when scaramucci left the podium plowing a kiss he's -- blowing a kiss up there he's comfortable up there. i would not be surprised if you see scaramucci on tv a lot more often. the president has said privately -- he would watch spicer conduct those briefings in this room and sean for months did his best because he effectively be graded when he went back upstairs. you saw the notes passed to sean, hey, you're getting the hook and they would end it. with scaramucci he gets someone who's a lot more i think in his eyes like himself. he gets the opportunity to reboot things and frankly at the end of the chaotic six months i think he gets someone that he thinks can help sort of smooth or calm the waters at least for
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the near term going forward. the bottom line is smooth and affable as he does it doesn't answer the question of how truthful he'll be and that's what their responsibility is. >> glenn, let me talk about sean spicer for a second because i think scaramucci in a savvy way went out and changed the story. right, we'd have a story about a shakeup and on his way out and now we have the first performance to chew on. let's look back on some of spicer's -- you know, most talked about moments. >> this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. both in person and around the globe. >> the president himself called it -- >> i understand. >> are you confused? >> no, i think the words describing it are the way that the press is saying it. i'll let the tweet speak for itself. i think the president's tweets speak for themselves. you've got russia. if the president puts russian
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salad dressing on his salad tonight that's a russian connection. that everyone who has been briefed on the situation with respect to the situation with russia, republican, democrat, obama appointee, they have come to the same conclusion, april, you have to take no for an answer as to whether or not there was collusion. >> sean, sean! >> wait a minute. >> sean! >> i know you hate to talk about it, but i'm going to do it anyway. also it became part of pop culture when sean spicer and you were parodied for your rapport shall we say in the briefings. but sean actually created something that not just political junkies could grab on the, this idea of sort of an unfortunate soul defending the indefensible oftentimes. >> yeah. this is an obscure reference. he was like the basel faulty
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from faulty towers of american politics. he was -- you sometimes got the feeling you were watching a man who was under such pressure from behind him and in front of him that you weren't sure he'd make it through the briefing. to a certain extent, a test of pure human emotion you have to give him a lot of credit. i have known him for a lot of years he's a good guy that we know. but it gets back to the pressures of the job. i mean, scaramucci debut. >> really? the pressure of the job or the pressure of this president? >> no no. i mean the pressures of the job under this president. >> right. >> you are serving, we don't matter. you know, the podium should be turned around and face donald trump's office. because that is -- because it is a command performance every single day. now scaramucci here's the one thing i will say. scaramucci has a chance only because he's elevated to a
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level. he comes in at a level that while he's not a peer of donald trump, he's an outsider, he's a businessman, he's made money. trump has more respect for him. he's from new york, they speak the same language. scaramucci will be successful insofar as he can do things that only few people can do -- change donald trump's mind. if he's able to do that, if trump can make some adjustments then i give him a chance. if not, then he's a flicker look to this. >> do you want to weigh in about whether reince is someone who is perhaps loading his resume up to monster.com today or is he hunkered down for the long haul? >> look, this is just the perpetual phase of being reince priebus. i mean, this has been the story that's consistently been the story since the administration began. frankly, even before that straight after the election we were getting calls from sources speaking to the president and he'd be venting about reince. it's something that he likes to do. he pops off, he disparages him.
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he'd do the same thing with sean spicer. that doesn't mean he's necessarily gone tomorrow. but i mean, the fact is the president showed throughout this process showed a fair amount of disrespect to him. reince was not really in the loop for a lot of this planning. he found out about it pretty late in the piece. and it's -- he was obviously completely rolled by the president. so it's bad to that extent. another thing i would flag, i think it would be very interesting to see what scaramucci does with the team. who he brings in. i wouldn't be surprised if he brings in some big names. we'll see. >> peter alexander, let me get to you about something that certainly folks -- we're guilty of oftentimes of solving the wrong problem. i think it's clear that in scaramucci the president has someone who is affable and someone smooth in front of the camera, but the structural problem in the room you're standing in right now has nothing to do with the smoothness or lack thereof of spicer.
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it's about his access to the president, about him saying something it was undermined by the president on twitter. in the same news cycle. affirming the president as someone who was fired less than 4 hours later -- i mean, they have solved a press problem when they have a substance problem. >> i think you're right. the change is really the wrapping paper. it's the product, the substance, the president that most are concerned about. nobody voted for spicer or scaramucci or sarah huckabee sanders. they voted for or against president trump. and with 36% of americans right now approving of him, he's obviously got limited support in this country. his base stays strong. the challenge for those in the room is to try to deliver that message. this is the greatest sort of megaphone, the greatest communications device in the world, but if it's used the way it has been used by this white house in the course of the last six months where the president says one thing that's in direct conflict with the people who are speaking on his behalf, it ends up shooting the wrong direction
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and they're self-inflicted wounds. so the real challenge for them isn't just their ability to better communicate the message, but to be in agreement and see if you can keep the president himself in that same lane. >> that will make him more than a communications director. it will make him a miracle worker. thank you to glenn thrush. two i'm holding hostage on the set, shannon pettypiece and national affairs analyst, jen palmieri is here and in washington, robert traynham, a former senior adviser to bush/cheney. for a day like today we have all reporters and former white house or campaign communications strategists because i think it's the kind of day to talk about what this is and isn't. this is a personnel change. this is not any change to the man you cover, president trump. >> no. we saw the new guy on the job do the exact same thing as
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everybody else did on the job which is flatter and praise this president. you heard anthony scaramucci talking about the president -- >> all the love. >> being the best political communicator. >> talk about throwing a football -- is that a saying -- >> a three-foot putt. no one believes that. >> why lie about that stuff? >> well, we don't know it's a lie. but he's putting out there that, you know, trump's own best version of himself. >> yeah. >> you know, today was easy, but as we have already discussed the questions only get tougher about russia. what flummoxes spicer and sarah huckabee sanders on a lot of the i das that the questions they're getting asked don't have good answers on russia. there are no good answers because there's no way to spin its. that's where his job gets tough and it will be tougher to please his boss as well. >> we are still living in a dramatic roll back of press access. i didn't hear him announce that the briefings would be televised. >> yeah, they won't commit to that. of course, you know, to your point and yours about, you know,
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well, you don't change the president. you have the communications director who has no experience in washington. no experience with congress. no experience with communication. he has some relationships with reporters but not great ones. filling a job that has been vacant for months if anthony scaramucci was the dream guy for this job, why wasn't he put in there months ago or maybe in january? they have been desperate to find a job for him. they have been desperate to fill this role so here we are. it doesn't mean this is going to be a match made in heavien. >> i have a theory on one of the reasons he got the job. this is my time with anthony a few weeks back. >> the president feels vindicated. i think the facts -- >> why? >> well, i think comey admitted several questions that he was not under investigation, that the president himself is not under investigation. and so i think that -- >> but that's not what what he's accused of. his orbit is accused of having ties with russia. >> listen, i think that's a hoax. >> ding ding ding.
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these thinks the russia probe is -- he thinks the russia probe is a hoax. >> so does donald j. trump. a man reflecting his boss' views. a guy who will say what donald trump thinks about the things. i think there are relevant things to say about this. one of them this is guy who they have been trying to get into this administration for a long time. back in january, the discussion was he was going to be the valerie jarrett in the white house. >> right. >> he was going to be the liaison -- >> head of opl. >> right. he was selling his company. there were some chinese bankers, some questions about that. so that got pulled back. >> and at that time the internal forces worked against him. he had strong internal staffers who fought against him. >> they fought against him too, but trump's desire to have him overrode it. just in june, he got appointed to the bank. so that was supposedly the solution -- he was going to work at the xm bank, probably a better fit than this.
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what's the one thing that makes him potentially powerful at least in the white house? he's rich. and if you -- >> i would have thought of that last. >> but the staffers who matter to trump. why does bannon retain a lot of his power, one reason is that trump looks at bannon and said that guy made a couple of hundred million dollars. why is gary cohn powerful? a rich guy. scaramucci is worth probably north of $1 billion. so could be worth more than donald trump in fact. >> probably. >> i think that gives him something that is important in the white house. which is the stature -- >> the private plane. >> and have the president take him seriously. whether he does a good job or not i don't know. does the president look at you as a functionary or as something of a peer? that is one asset that he brings here which is that the president will look at him in this respect and it matters to donald trump. he will talk to him as a peer and not as an underling.
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>> jen, i know the president was eager, exasperated by the lack of effective messengers on television fighting for him and obviously when he gets in scaramucci i think he's the host of his own show on fox business. he's a veteran sort of a cable cowboy if you will. and that matters -- that matters to trump. >> there's two advantages that he -- he has. >> don't look at the screen. >> not safe for work. >> he's rich. you know, and he's very effective on television. so those are two -- those are two talents that he brings that will serve him well. but, you know, as -- i'm sure you and i both know he's influential to be the communication director in the white house, as important as they are, thetory -- the story not normally important. it is in this case because you
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know it's so important to donald trump. right? >> right. >> before he couldn't get in the white house but now trump is so concerned about appearances and press that they're allowing scaramucci in. i think, you know, what's underlying that and the bigger story really is it's the legal team. and getting rid of the lawyers, the spokes person for the lawyers. whether they quit themselves because they were uneasy about how this was going or they were fired. this shows the real concerns here is where the russia investigation and mueller is going. >> robert traynham, let me bring you into the conversation. we have had a lot of conversations about where the red line would have been in if we had been in sean's shoes. in the end he did not quit because he was asked to smear bob mueller. he did not quit because he was asked to lie from the podium about the size of the inauguration crowd. he did not quit because he was undermined by the president. he did not quit because steve bannon mocked his -- him. he quit because he was muscled out of influence and scaramucci
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got the job that he was doing up to a point. >> right. sean is a loyal guy. what he thinks is, look, i stuck my neck out there for the last six months. i'm the laughingstock around the world. and you want to bring somebody in who has no experience to othis job? come on, mr. president, is this really what you want and i bet you the president said something to the effect of, you know what, sean, i trust anthony. he's much more loyal to me than you ever could be. he'll do a better job at the podium in the ratings than you can. i'm sure sean feels hurt. can you blame him? again, anthony probably does a very good -- >> you know what? i mean, before we turn him into the martyr, yeah, you blame anyone for leaving and for getting screwed by donald trump. i wouldn't blame him. how do you feel -- yeah. >> he should have quit on day one. this is not worth it. when he had to go out and his voice is shaking because he's
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lying about the stupid crowds, it was ridiculous. i tweeted on that day, no job is worth this. he's a decent guy. this not worth it. he should have walked out. that's the day he should have quit. now it's like about -- >> nicolle, but i think -- this is very naive of me, hindsight being 20-20. i think reince and sean believed they could have controlled the president. we'll let him be him, but in the grand scheme of things we can control him and i think sean tried to do that but obviously he failed. >> where do you think the sort of dynamics with obviously jared and ivanka and the folks that fall under that wing of the white house power structure asserting themselves, sort of landing scaramucci right in the middle of the power structure of this west wing as you said the communications director is -- >> no -- it's important. >> usually a job that supports
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the president's agenda. it's pretty clear that the president is largely ambivalent about pushing his agenda but he's involved in how his image is projected. >> i think again i totally think that the notion that if the white house -- what the white house needs to do is professionalize itself, this is not the right way to do it. even as people talk about the television skills in my history of covering politics, communications directors, nicolle wallace, jen palmieri, they were strategists behind the scenes and the press secretary was the face of the administration so it's odd to have a communications director unless you're redefining the nature of that job. i will say again if you think of those people, ivanka, jared, in terms of will he have juice in the white house, they like this guy. again, he's a new yorker. he's a cosmopolitan. not a populist, not a trump base guy. he's a new york hedge fund guy
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and a globalist. that's why steve bannon wanted him in the job. >> when i talked to someone at the white house today, i don't think he'll do much communications director like you did. he'll be on tv. he won't be doing strategies, not finding surrogates. that's part of the reason that sean when i talked to someone close to him said when he heard this, i'm out. i'm not doing the work of communications director and press secretary and have you -- not have the title. you know? having you be the public face and going out on tv. >> i have heard the same thing. i heard that he'll do a lot of sunday shows, probably starting early next month. >> chief surrogate. the legislation, it's a communications problem. you asked the president how's everything going, everything is great, we can communicate better. they think they're not communicating well enough. i'll say one thing. understand tone much better than sean spicer but i don't know that tone is -- changing the tone is enough given some of the issues over this white house. >> well said.
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all right, when we come back the day started with the media firestorm over the president and his powers to pardon. and investigating the investigators. trump's team goes after the special deputy and expected on capitol hill next week manafort and kushner on the russian investigation. we'll be right back. when i can't do something, it makes me feel isolated. with aleve, you can stay strong longer because only aleve has the strength to stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill. tylenol can't do that. i get to be present and enjoy what i love. this is my pain. but i am stronger. aleve. all day strong. all day long. check this sunday's paper for extra savings on products from aleve. listerine® total care strengthens teeth, after brushing, helps prevent cavities and restores tooth enamel. it's an easy way to give listerine® total care
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yeah, and i can watch thee bgame with directv now.? oh, sorry, most broadcast and sports channels aren't included.
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and you can only stream on two devices at once. this is fun, we're having fun. yeah, we are. no, you're not jimmy. don't let directv now limit your entertainment. xfinity gives you more to stream to more screens. the mueller investigation has so many conflicts of interest it's almost an absurdity. the law firm he comes from, he gave 99.81% of its donations to hillary clinton last year. that's right. 0.9% went to donald trump. the people that he's been hiring
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are all anti-trump lawyers. it's hard to understand why he would assemble such a team unless it was a deliberate effort to go after the president and the president's team. >> the method to our madness we showed you that sound from newt gingrich because what we thought would be the biggest news of the day until sean spicer took back the headlines was -- were two reports. one in "the new york times" saying that trump aides are seeking leverage to investigate mueller's investigators. the lawyers and aides are scouring the political and professional backgrounds of those hired by the special counsel mueller looking for conflicts of interest they can use to discredit the investigation or build a case to fire mueller. ari, is it legal to investigate and lord over someone's investigating you with things that aren't illegal? i mean, there's no -- there's no violation i don't think in having donated to political campaigns or candidates in the past. >> none whatsoever. it's legal to call into question, its can be illegal, it
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amounts to a further attempt to instruct, tamper with the actual investigation. you raise an important point about what's the story today. i would say pay no attention to the man in front of the curtain. >> right. >> a spokesman depart, happens all the time at agencies in the federal government. it happens in campaigns. sean spicer as we know from "saturday night live" was a colorful, a noticeable spokesman both in his good work and at times when he struggled with his job but ultimately that's not the story today. the story as you mentioned is the reports of an attempt to disrupt the ongoing investigation which must be left alone as a matter of law and policy and the president looking into apparently reportedly his power to pardon criminals which is a lawful power he has. and it's broad. but you only pardon guilty people. >> i didn't introduce ari melber, who has a brand-new awesome show starting monday. we pulled him out of the hallway
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to talk about the two stories. let me put up the story from "the washington post." trump asked his advisers to power aides, family members and even himself in connection to the probe. eli, for a man so obsessed with optics, this doesn't look good when you're -- you know, googling how do i pardon myself? >> the lack of restraint, that -- they sort of telegraph their greatest fears and weaknesses because they look like they have something to hide. the president can't let it go. it was the same thing with comey. maybe the same thing now with mueller. i think one thing that's not new is they're behind the scenes effort to do oppo research on the people who are investigating them like they do on the people who are covering them every day in the media. they are going to fight everything in the realm of public opinion but in the same realm of public opinion when you're out there and the stories come out and the president is basically saying on the record to "the new york times" two days ago that i'm upset with the
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attorney general, he should never recuse himself, this is a guy who the former fbi director testified under oath that the president demanded loyalty from him and now you have the president on the record himself to the newspaper of record in the country saying that i expected more loyalty from my attorney general. there are all these things that the president himself is mutting into the -- is it going into the court of public opinion that don't necessarily help him or make him look like someone with a clean conscience. >> he disparaged in "the new york times" interview, 50 minutes long and he managed to throw under the bus jeff sessions, rod rosenstein, andrew mccabe. the deputy at the fbi. at least a few others. >> forget comey. >> comey. accused him of basically of trying to blackmail him or lord over him the unsubstantiated dossier. and he's angry about sessions recusing himself.
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what does it say after that interview has been published that goes in and takes a job at the justice department thinking that, maybe i'll be different? >> i think the premise of your question is spot on. it raises a real ongoing problem for staffing this with serious and independent minded people. as for the peek into the frame of mind in the interview, i can't think his entire legal team signed off on, we see a man whose conspiracy theories leads all roads back to the man who's happened the conspiracy theory. in the donald trump conspiracy theory if we try to follow the logic within the interview, it is that these people hand picked by donald trump are against donald trump. i mean, that is a real conspiracy. because jeff sessions is the first endorser and as the attorney general. rosenstein was hand picked by donald trump and then he did what he was supposed to do, which is apply the rules which had a political conflict, which is not a random donation, but a
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political relationship under doj -- >> it can't be a political conflict because donald trump has given as much to democrats as all of the -- >> sure. >> all of the lawyers he's targeting combined. about the same amount. i want to bring in ken dilanian because the stories not surprisingly came in, ken, when these investigations or potentially coming back into focus next week with jared kushner heading to a closed door meeting monday and at least the democrats on the judiciary committee saying they will exercise their subpoena power as manafort and donald trump jr. don't show up on wednesday. what do you know, ken? >> well, i'm here at the aspen security forum where almost every current and former head of an intelligence agency, law enforcement agency, is in attendance. i have to tell you, people are aghast, both democrats and republicans, about this talk of pardons and they're of a mind that this investigation has grown -- it's an extremely serious matter. it's a threat to the trump presidency. and you heard for example mike
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mccaul the republican chairman of the homeland security committee today told our own andrea mitchell that there would be a profound republican backlash if trump goes ahead and tries to fire mueller. we're hearing that privately from others here at this forum. so i think it's no surprise that as this thing grows more serious you are hearing this talk about opposition research against mueller's team and about pardons. look, robert mueller is a republican and he's got some people working for him for example, a man who investigated the 9/11 case. he has unimpeachable people on his staff. yes, some gave to democrats and others are republican, that's not a conflict of interest under the justice department rules, nicolle. >> what do you think of the fact that as this heats up trump appears to reach for the sharpest tools that he has? obviously, smearing the character of mueller is not a subtle art of politics. it's pretty blunt instrument.
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and making sure that you pardon anyone that might end up getting tripped up at the end of this. certainly suggests that you're worried about guilt. >> donald trump had mastered the art of the deal, but mastering the art of subtlety hasn't got imtion very far in light. this has served him really well politically up to this point. this not a standard political combat and part of the problem with trump he sees every scrap that he gets into as a campaign style challenge where you can raise the earth, scorch the skies and you'll eventually emerge triumphant because you're bigger and stronger than everyone else. to go back to the beginning of this and what ari said, i think if you want to talk about pay no attention to a lot of shiny objects the most important things from the stories in the last two days are not even the pardon talk. i don't know how true it is. you have trump lawyers denying that he's talking about pardons, who knows. but he said to "the new york
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times" directly, his lawyers echoed in the stories, which is that they think that -- that mueller and his prosecutors looking into trump's finances is out of bounds. and that they're trying to draw a line around that and say, this is the pretext. if he starts to go into this area i consider that a step over the line and that will be the argument for why he fires mueller if he fires mueller. that to me is the clearest signal over two days from all of these sources that we are headed for a giant fight. because the finances are the heart of the story. >> let me just quickly -- there's one woman at the table who tried everyone to get to know more about the finances of donald trump is jen palmieri. >> yeah. this happened after the donald trump jr. e-mail became -- >> the meeting. >> became public. i think that meeting was a set-up by the russian government. i think that was them trying to entrap donald jr. they had all the people in there, that e-mail was so specific, it was crazily over
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the top written. it's a reminder -- what if that came from kushner, it was a reminder to trump which i now believe that there's a lot of evidence of collusion here and i think that's what is giving them so -- getting them so freaked out is they're understanding more what's coming with the finances. but then also other things that may come out. >> and just briefly two quick points. donald trump is not in charge of the investigation into donald trump. so the statements of what the investigations are going into is totally out of bounds and absurd. number two, in fairness to the white house the fact that he looks guilty doesn't mean he's guilty. >> the worst case scenario. >> a police officer can pull is someone over and they're reaching into the back, are they reaching for a gun or a coca-cola? doesn't mean you're guilty. >> see, it was in there i read it already. >> thank you, nicolle. >> thank you for coming out.
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you were in sweat, hadn't shaving in two weeks. >> i never shave but i'll shave on monday. >> thank you for spending some time with us. nbc news sat down exclusively with russian foreign minister sergey lavrov. up next, what he's revealing about donald trump and vladimir putin that's raising even more eyebrows. think again. this is the new new york. we are building new airports all across the state. new roads and bridges.
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boost® high protein it's intelligent nutrition with 15 grams of protein and 26 vitamins and minerals. for when you need a little extra. boost® the number one high protein complete nutritional drink. be up for it we know about president putin and president trump meeting three times at the g20. they met obviously for the bilateral and they met at the dinner and they -- >> maybe they went to the toilet together. that was a fourth time. >> they met also when they referred -- when they were shaking hands. did they meet other times in the hallways? other occasions when they met? >> when you're brought to your parents by kindergarten, do you meet people that are waiting in the same room to start going through the class -- a classroom? >> it's the g20 though, not a kindergarten.
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>> but the results -- but the room where they get together before the event starts. they can arrive all at the same time in the bus. so they might have met even much more than just three times. >> that was russian foreign minister sergey lavrov not confirming or denying that there may have been more meetings between president trump and vladimir putin at the g20 in an interview with nbc's keir simmons. this afternoon, a report from "the washington post" that identifies a russian lawyer who met with donald trump jr. in june 2016, natalia -- let's see if i can do this -- veselnitskaya as someone who had previously represented the top spy agency. we talk week after week, rev, about this cloud, this cloud that drives president trump mad, that in part drove him to appoint a communications director today who said in the clip we played earlier that he sees the entire russia investigation as a hoax. i asked chris christie earlier in the week if president trump had stopped screaming at the top
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of his lungs that there were no collusion in each room at the white house and he said that's our guy. do you think any of these -- what will be considered sort of blockbuster developments under any other white house's judgment if they were under investigation for potential ties to russia that this changes anything? >> i think it will begin to. part of what you saw with scaramucci's appointment today is donald trump plays optics. so he's trying to bring in new faces. he's trying to make it look like a new white house. because i think that he's really trying to get away from having to answer some hard questions about russia. this is what this is all about. i think there's a direct correlation between his asking lawyers about pardons and i'm going to flip who my press spokesman is, the face of the administration. and because he's had a rough week. you're talking about meetings we didn't know he had. it has come out. you're talking about people in
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the room that we didn't know, now in the room. i mean, all of that and we get to the end of the week and now all of a sudden, well, let's change the players. i mean, he's playing optics with us, but the reason is why, and then when you have lavrov sitting there not really directly answering questions, usually if there's a lot of clouds there and no one is trying to really move the clouds with the sunshine to come in is because they're afraid what daylight might show. >> john -- we talked this morning about they're nabbing some substantive clues to the -- to what the president lays bear all the time. his impulse and instinct is to be nice to vladimir putin. that he likes him, he's admired him since the early days of the campaign. pulling the plug on the cia program that would have armed syrian rebels which was on russia's foreign policy to do list, check. the cease-fire in syria they discussed at the g20.
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we now -- there's a report in the a.p. by viviana salama that mcmaster has expressed some concern to allies and others in washington. where do we get to a point that there are enough policy outputs to draw this line as if we couldn't already draw it? >> well, look, i think the line is pretty clear. i don't think we need anything else. >> well, we have republicans in congress who -- you know, talking about a health care bill -- >> more complicated. >> here's the russian thing that i think you will see a vivid illustration of it. are sanctions going to get removed or not? there's a sanctions bill going through. it's being deliberated. something that would not have been a controversial thing is now a controversial thing. the white house is still a little nebulous where this will end up. but if we end up not adding further sanctions or removing the sanctions that are already in place against russia, which is a apart from seeing nato
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crumble is the single most central policy goal that vladimir putin has with respect to the united states. if we see that happen, i think you would have to be really either incredibly stupid or willfully blind not to be able to say, okay, this is the -- this is the policy piece of the -- if there's a quid pro quo, here it is. >> the white house would have to not sign the bill if it passed the senate or house or they have to lobby against its. ken dilanian, are you still with us out in aspen? you left us. >> he's not listening. >> he might watch later though. eli, do you get the sense that the white house is ready for sort of an above board lobbying effort against that sanctions bill in house and the senate or trying to weaken the bills? >> i font know they made a decision on that. this is not a white house that's playing a couple of steps ahead. they're just trying to handle the news of the day. and so that is a question
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they're going have to answer but i think it's preposterous to think they have game planned that out. it's not the way that things work. i think they're having a separate conversations. they have five or six different power centers and factions in the west wing, so maybe they're having -- >> well, hr mcmaster based on the reporting this week is aware at least of how things look in terms of the president's instincts to be so close to putin. i mean, you think there would be some meeting under one of those seven factions by the -- with how to deal with russian sanctions. >> nobody has been able to impress some control, you know, their views on the president, affect a change in his personality. he gave away intelligence to the russian, who went to the g7 and had meetings that nobody -- there was nobody, mcmaster wasn't in there. nobody to take notes. if there's -- if people aren't alarmed by this, they're willfully blind. >> you know what's disturbing to me, nicolle, is last time i
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checked russia was supposed to be adversarial to america. so it's not a question of whether or not we are going to see them oppose the sanctions. why isn't he advocating for the sanctions? why isn't he standing up to putin the way that barack obama stood up? i'd like them to be 50% as aggressive to them as they were to hillary clinton when they felt that she was using the wrong stuff in terms of her own e-mails. i mean, why didn't he confront putin in any of these meetings about the sainty of the american voter? >> he said he brought it up and robert traynham, quickly, what about this idea that at least at the end of his presidency, president obama did seize the compound and enacted tough sanctions. he was persuaded by john mccain
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and lindsey graham to back the cia program that president trump killed in the last month. where are the republican voices other than our friend john mccain who is battling his own health week. but other than senator mccain and lindsey graham, where is the republican -- i know they voted for the sanctions bills, but why aren't they lobbying the white house, why aren't they saying this passed 98-2, sign this or else. >> that's a good question. the silence is deaf eng. quite frankly, i'm so ashamed of the party right now, particularly republican senators because the tables were turned, in this was barak obama or hillary clinton who bill clinton, impeachment calls would be singing from the roof tops. i mean, the hypocrisy here is, it's so sad. it's really sad. and put the party aside, i mean, the country is at risk here. we know that putin is a thug. we know that he's a highly manipulative person. we know that he plaiz people like a fiddle and we also know that donald trump is highly
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susceptible to strong arm type people. so republicans and democrats but mainly republicans in the senate need to stand up and speak on behalf of the country. >> you were talking about that meeting, and we now know based on a "washington post" report today that the russian lawyer, one of the russian lawyers in the meeting has represented the russian intelligence agency. so it's not likely that she was unaware of what that effort could turn into. what do you think just as someone who ran against him, you know, what -- do you think twoo changed anything? >> it was very hard to -- i don't know. in the environment we were in where everybody thought that hillary was going to win and all of the russia story seemed so fantastic it was very hard to be able to get the press to focus on it or even comprehend how serious it was and it sounds so fantastic, even now i think people are looking for a more complicated explanation he's doing it to help them -- >> or he's financially -- >> i think donald trump is
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probably even more -- the russians are even more financially invested in donald trump than he himself may even appreciate. that lavrov interview s that man was taunting the united states of america. >> with a toilet joke. the world was literally gone down the drain. >> that's what they want. the russians want us to feel like none of this matters, that it's all a joke. that's how they win. that's how they undermine our faith -- it's been the most fundamental ten et cetera of our republic. of the things -- >> there's the symmetry. >> they do. it doesn't matter. >> all right. we're going to sneak in a break, but when we come back, with we're going to go to moscow for more of this conversation we're having. stray with us.
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. the fight goes on. they want to make the life of this administration miserable. people try to speak about impeachment, read about this, but frankly, i read the news from the united states less and less. >> it's a fight, though, you think? it's a fight for president trump? >> it's absolutely a fight. but as i said, i -- >> and russia is on president trump's side? >> no. we are on the side of justice. >> i want to bring in nbc news correspondent in moscow. i have two questions for you. i watched that interview earlier today. it's stunning. but i wonder since you are the man who was interviewed both sergey lavrov this morning and russian veselnitskaya, i know i botched that, but can you
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explain for our viewers how the two of them are knit together in at loes in one way they've both men in small rooms with men named donald trump? >> yeah. well, that's certainly the case. i mean, they are from different social circles in this city, moscow, of course. i mean, look, i think to some extent what you see with the russians is a certain amount of trolling of america and of washington. i mean, there's nothing that russians like better than to try to kind of get a response out of the americans. that please them very much just on a kind of culture ral level if you like. but what i think is interesting when you listen to sergey lavrov speak in that sound byte that you just played is don't kid yourself. the russians are paying very close attention to what is happening within the trump administration and folks here have spoken to me about the idea that really as they see it, president trump is in favor of cooperating with russia, but there are a lot of people around
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him who are really very much not in favor of that. they see that, and i think when you hear sergey lavrov talk about the fight that president trump is having and then i ask him is russia on his side, i mean, that's what i was trying to bring out there. there's another point which i think is really, really fascinating and i spoke to lavrov about this. when you look at what happened immediately after that g20 meeting, the first thing that happened was that sergey lavrov came out and said that president trump mentioned to president putin the issue of allegations of russian meddling in the u.s. elections, mentioned it. but then later president putin comes out and says president trump brought it up several times and really, really pressed him on it. now, there's a change in the way that that meeting is depicted no those two accounts by two men who were both in the room. now, i asked him did russia change the way that it described the meeting in order to help president trump and he didn't answer that or push back on it.
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but i think it's an interesting question. >> i heard what you just described that the russians are paying very close attention to our domestic politics and they view this president as embattled and in some ways the things that come out of their mouth sound so sim lar to the white house messaging. i wonder if you can sort of lay over the things he said to you today in terms of being so similar to the kind of things the president has said about this relationship. they're like star crossed lofrs. >> yeah. i mean, you know, just for example, sticking to the line that they're not going to talk about what happened in that two hour meeting. the suggestion that when president trump came around to talk to president putin at the official dinner, that it was simply the fact that he was coming around to see the fist lady and just happened to have a conversation with the russia president. i mean, all of that kind of fits very closely. and, you know, they don't have to be communicating with each other to say that this is what we're going to say. all the russians need to be doing really is watching what the white house is saying and
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kind of following that same path, because, again, it's the same point. and it's an important point. and there's nothing machiavellian about it. the russians are view president trump as became the person is most likely to be constructive toward them, and so of course, they're going to want to do anything they can to help him as opposed to others perhaps in d.c. >> thank you so much. thanks for my panel. that does it for this hour. i'm nichole wallace. mtp daily starts right now. hi, katy. you've had a long day. >> hi, nichole. i'm ready for my vacation which starts in one hour. but until then, if it is friday, what we've got here is a failure to communicate. >> tonight, sean spicer steps down as white house press secretary as sarah huckabee sanders officially steps in. >> he understood that the president wanted to bring in and add new people to the team. >> and

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