tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBC July 22, 2017 9:00am-9:31am PDT
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strong. >> president trump's comments come amid fallout over a sudden white house shakeup, and new developments in the russia investigation. before departing for virginia, president trump sent off a tweetstorm ranging from alleged conversations attorney general sessions had with the russian ambassador to hillary clinton's e-mail controversy. and this one on his pardoning power. while all agree the u.s. president has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is leaks against u.s. fake news. meanwhile reaction from sean spicer on what led him to resign yesterday morning when president trump offered one of his most vocal supporters the communication director position. here's what spicer said in an interview last night. >> i recommend to the president that i give anthony and sarah a clean slate to start from so they can talk about the president's agenda and help move it forward.
he after this back and forth understood that the offer i was making was in the best interests of this administration. i thanked him for the opportunity and i'm looking forward to watching anthony and sarah do a tremendous job. i have no regrets. i can't thank the president enough for this unbelievable honor. and also we're learning new details about jared kushner's finances from reports an a revised filing. new documents show more than 70 assets that his attorneys said he inadvertently left out of earlier filings. those coming at the same time the house intelligence committee announced its members will interview jared kushner on tuesday. nbc's kelly o'donnell at her post at the white house with more from the president's remarks. kelly, good day to you. let's talk about what else the president said this morning. >> well, certainly on twitter the president hit a range of topics with a real burst of tweets talking about all the things that are on his mind. his planned event today is something that brings together his role as commander in chief and we've seen president trump enjoys the pageantry of military
ceremonies and some of the colors that were on display today really fit right into that. commissioning a new vessel for the u.s. navy, the gerald r. ford, the president was there making remarks and saluting the men and women in uniform as well as those from past administrations, including vice president cheney and former defense secretary rumsfeld, both of whom worked for president ford in that administration in addition to the other jobs they had in the george w. bush administration. and president ford's daughter, susan ford bales was also present. but there was a larger message about american military strength and a bit of a nod to his own administration in the way the president spoke about this today. he did all of the traditional notes, but he also made a plug for changes under the trump administration. here's the president's comment. >> american steel and american hands have constructed a
100,000-ton message to the world. america might is second to none. and we're getting bigger and better and stronger every day of my administration. that i can tell you. >> reporter: and in what i believe will probably ultimately be an offhanded remark added, not part of his planned speech there, he also made a reference to calling members of congress and urging them to get health care done. so the president added just a bit of politics to what was really a much more military oriented ceremony, something that is significant to the norfolk, virginia, community where obviously ship building is a big business as well as those who are based there, and for the president, you see that he enjoys this kind of a setting. he was sitting side by side with virginia governor terry mcauliffe, a long-time friend of bill and hillary clinton, and yet you could see them chatting with each other, very civil, very pleasant from all appearances today. alex. >> kelly o'donnell at the white
house, we'll look forward to seeing you again. on the heels of kelly's report, let's bring in john harwood and senior political reporter for usa today, heidi przybylprzybyl. we get a tweet storm of 11 tweets over four hours. is this an omen of things to come? >> no question about it, alex. look, the core issue here is about the president, his conduct, how he and his associates have run their business, how they got elected and what they're doing since they have been elected. there is every sign from the news reports that we've gotten and from the president's own reaction that robert mueller, the special counsel, as well as the investigating committees in the senate are getting closer and closer to getting their arms around those facts, about the exchanges between don jr. and the russian lawyer and the
russian spy, the information about jeff sessions talking about russia policy with kiz k kislyak, the ambassador to washington from moscow, and that fact that mueller is getting closer appears to increasingly distress the president. and when he's distressed he fires off those tweets. >> yeah. anthony scaramucci, his first day on the job. let's take a listen to what he had to say. >> i think there's been 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. we were talking about letting him be himself, letting him express his full identity. i think he's got some of the best political instincts in the world. the people i grew up with, they so identify with the president and they love him. i love the president. i obviously love the country. sean decided that he thought it would be better to go.
his attitude is if anthony is coming in, let me clear the slate for anthony, and i do 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. >> so we have all of these tweets, heidi, that i mentioned to john. is this the new tenor of things? what does scaramucci bring to the director of white house communications that sean spicer didn't? >> i think this is really a sign, alex, that the president is just ripping up the playbook here. all indications are based on the reporting he didn't consult anyone. he didn't consult chief of staff reince priebus or steve bannon, he made this decision based on advice from ivanka and jared. and anthony scaramucci, he's a former hedge fund manager, a donor, but not someone who has any experience, one scintilla of experience about
communications -- government communications or policy communications. his big advantage is that he's smooth on camera, that he in some ways is like trump himself. that he can channel trump and that he is willing to do what he did in his opening remarks to the press, which is to go out there and really stroke the president in a very public way, to talk him up and to try and, i guess, be a bridge to the media in a sense because he seemed like he was willing to take a less combative tone maybe than sean spicer. but make no mistake, trump is not holding to the pledge that he made at the beginning of his administration, which was, look, folks, i don't have any experience in government or policy, but i'm going to bring in the absolute best people. i know how to look for great people with great resumes and lots of experience. he's hiring people in his own image, people who are business people who have no experience in government or policy. >> so, john, you brought up the
russia probe and how that led to the whole staffing shakeup, but this guy, the new white house communications director, what can he do? what within the scope of his job direction can he do to help mitigate the fallout? >> well, as heidi indicated, the background of anthony scaramucci is not in the background of what white house communications directors do, which is about stroo te strategic messing planning. however, like trump he is at his core a marketer and he's pretty good at it. you saw that from the briefing yesterday. he was assured, he was smooth, he didn't talk about a lot of policy detail, so he can be a more effective representative of the president on television than, say, sean spicer can or than sarah huckabee sanders can. but as we said before, the core issue here is not communications. the core issue is the character of the president of the united
states, and no communications director is going to change that, change how a 70-year-old man operates and change the underlying facts that robert mueller is investigating. >> but also there's a difference here because scaramucci has said he will report directly to the president. that is different than sean spicer who had to report to the white house chief of staff, reince priebus. how much does that give scaramucci an advantage? the two of them can huddle directly and rather than having things passed down and maybe get lost in translation from donald trump to a chief of staff to a communications director to a press spokesperson, does that give scaramucci a real advantage? >> that appear sussumes that pr trump doesn't change his mind and sean spicer didn't have any communication with the president, which he did. he might not be as close as scaramucci but what we see from the president based on his
tweets and own public statements, he will change his mind on a whim or blow the lid off something despite the advice of whoever the person is bending his ears. i'll give you an example. remember when he went into that meeting with the russians and he accidentally, oops, leaked what could have been classified information from the israelis? there's no one who doesn't believe that the president wasn't briefed, and briefed very extensively before he went into that meeting with the russians and yet something like that happened. so i think john is right. no matter who the communications professional is, whether it's someone with no experience or someone with a deep bench of experience, at the end of the day donald trump is the one who's had a pattern of making statements that undercut previous statements made just within the past 24 to 48 hours. i don't know that at the endi o the day that's going to change his tendencies at all based upon who's in that senior communications position. >> alex. >> go ahead. >> i was going to say reince priebus is an extraordinarily weak chief of staff because
there are so many people who have independent lines to the president, and because the president himself is his own chief of staff, his own communications director, his own press secretary, and so reince priebus has been further weakened by this move, but i'm not sure that matters because it doesn't change anything fundamental. >> so to both of you very quickly, the president tweeting while all agree the u.s. president has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is leaks against us. fake news. so fact checking here, guys, is that something everyone agrees on? john, first. >> no, not at all. it has never been tested legally so we won't know unless and until the president decides to test it. but people like the eminent scholar lawrence tribe have made the point it is not legal. aush ari melber has concluded it is probably not but we won't know for sure until somebody tries it
out. >> heidi? >> there's the legal, and we don't know because it's never happened before, and then there's the political. i think the political is much more clear cut that this has to be the red line for those republicans who are just not willing to step up to the plate on challenging trump. if he did that, i think it would ignite a firestorm because you don't need a pardon unless you've done something wrong. i think the impeachment bells would be ringing on capitol hill. >> all right, heidi, john, guys, thank you both so much. coming up next, the congressman who wants the fib to review ivanka trump's security clearance and also wants her husband's clearance revoked. what might ted lieu say about jared kushner's new financial disclosures? i'll speak with the democratic congressman from california next. comfortable you are in it.
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know, are memory failures or, i forgot, whatever, okay. you have to allow for that. but i do think the appropriate thing here is take a pause and at least suspend a clearance until you've had the opportunity to investigate and then decide whether the clearance should be restored or not. >> james clapper there, former director of national intelligence at the aspen security forum yesterday on jared kushner's security clearance. joining me now, congressman ted lieu, california democrat. congressman with a welcome to you from my hometown of l.a. there, you were among the very first to ask for kushner's clearance to be suspended. earlier this week i know that you signed a letter asking for ivanka's clearance to be reviewed. why? >> thank you, alex, for that question. let's just be clear. jared kushner lied on his first two security clearance forms. they're not memory failures. these were very important meetings with the russians, one involving a secret back channel and another one involving getting dirt on hillary clinton.
you don't forget about those meetings. so when he omitted those on his security clearance forms, those are lies. he needs to be investigated and have those forms looked at again and his security clearance needs to be revoked immediately. ivanka trump also has security clearance. i think it would be prudent to review her filings as well. >> how about the new financial disclosures from the couple that came out late yesterday. are you satisfied with them? >> it is part of a pattern of nondisclosures. so we now have this revised filing showing how jared kushner conveniently forgot about over 70 assets on his financial disclosure form. we really have a problem here where trump administration officials are hiding information from the public and it's something we need to really drill down into. >> all right. mr. trump told "the new york times" that special counsel robert mueller would be crossing a red line if he looks into the trump family finances. are democrats overall concerned, sir, that the president may be exploring ways to end the investigation? and if so, what can you do about it? >> i think every republican
member of congress needs to be asked the question what happens if the president gets robert mueller fired. democrats believe that that is grounds for impeachment because that's exactly what nixon did. and the lesson from watergate is that no one is above the law, including the president. >> all right. and with regard to mueller, what kind of an uphill battle do you think he has, and do you think that the white house will try to thwart him in any possible direction? and can they be effective in doing so? >> i think the white house staff have to be careful, because if they become too aggressive, then it could be obstruction of justice to an ongoing investigation. it's clear that robert mueller is getting closer. we don't have just smoke now, we've got fire in this russia investigation. the june meeting last year with this e-mail chain that donald trump jr. authenticated. that shows collusion. the trump campaign was informed in black and white e-mails that
the russian government was helping the trump campaign and they were hurting hillary clinton. that is evidence of collusion. >> we have three key interviews this week, kushner, manafort and donald trump jr. what are your expectations from all of them? >> if i were them, i would plead the fifth amendment because i believe they all violated the law. if you look at what donald trump jr. did, he did conspiracy to violate the federal election act. under our laws, you cannot solicit anything of value from a foreign government or from a foreign power. that's exactly what he did. paul manafort is under investigation for possible money laundering. i'd be surprised if they said very much at these committee hearings. >> let's look at the hacking of our election and that topic here now. does the party have any concrete plans or strategies to safeguard next year's midterm elections from russian or any other interference? >> the way our election systems are set up, most of it are run
by the states. it is my hope that the secretaries of state of each of our 50 states takes the election hacking seriously. it appears that general kelly at the department of homeland security takes it seriously. donald trump's counterterrorism advisor says russia hacked us and we need to take it seriously. so i believe everyone under donald trump believes this is a problem. regardless of what donald trump says, i do believe patriotic americans will fight back against russian hacking. >> do you think that robert mueller has the authority to go after the trump family finances in regard to all of this in this investigation? is there by any chance a line that would be crossed by doing so? >> well, here's my apal gnaloan. look, if you tell law enforcement don't go and open that locked door in the basement, what are they going to do? go open that locked door in the basement. under the instructions that robert mueller got, if it's related to the russia investigation, he can absolutely
investigate. i believe donald trump's tax returns are absolutely at issue. if he has any finances or businesses with the russians or in russia, then absolutely those finances can be investigated. >> as we look ahead to midterms next year, i know the dnc took some ribbing this week over its potential 2018 slogan, better deal, better jobs, better wages. why do democrats appear to be stumbling out of the blocks? >> democrats have a very strong economic message focused on job creation. two months ago we introduced the 21st century new jobs act which is going to provide infrastructure funding across america to build roads, bridges and highways. those are the kind of bills we need to pass. although the president talks about infrastructure, he still doesn't have a plan. democrats have a plan. i hope he works with us. >> with regard to health care, the senate republicans as you know are planning to cast a
health care vote tuesday. many still do not know what it's going to be. will it be a replace bill, a repeal bill. the president says he's happy to let obamacare fail. so what are democrats doing to make sure millions don't lose access to their health care? >> we'll continue to highlight that trumpcare is very reckless. it's going to have more than 22 million people go off health insurance. it will increase costs for those with pre-existing conditions and also imposes an age tax. so anyone who's a senior citizen, their premiums can go up five times. i think it's important to note that the senate paurl men tear january made a huge ruling where there are many provisions in trumpcare cannot pass without 60 votes. that's going to throw a huge monkey wrench into what they're trying to do. >> one noted is the planned defunding the planned parenthood. in our next hour, what happens after states say no? the next step for the president's election commission.
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the white house in more turmoil as it tries to promote its economic agenda, despite the personnel changes in the white house and more russia talk, the administration was hoping you'd remember this past week as made in america week. >> well, they didn't talk about it much. donald trump campaigned, remember, on being the businessman president who would get things done, but six months in, he still does not have a major legislative win. what america's ceos would do differently when it comes to the business of running a nation. >> welcome to "velshi &