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tv   MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi  MSNBC  February 20, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PST

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like me. >> that's exactly what they said. you back at 5:00? >> no, i'm done. >> okay, have a great rest of your day. good afternoon, as katy says, the white house press briefing is late, but it is expected to start. it had been a week since the white house held its last press briefing. so there's a lot to talk about. a lot has happened since last tuesday, as you know. first, there's special counsel robert mueller's russia investigation, from his recent indictment of 13 russians and three companies on friday to today's very important charges against the son-in-law of the ukrainian russian oligarch tied to paul manafort and rick gates. and at last school shooting in parkland, florida. the president says he supports improving the background check system, but the furor over gun control is growing. there's also the report of changes to the white house security clearance policy that were made by the chief of staff, general john kelly. and we cannot involve the -- forget the ever-evolving travel scandal surrounding david schulkin and epa press secretary, scott pruitt.
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both secretaries are accused of abusing to those level at john price, who was forced to resign over that scandal. we're expecting to hear from the president later this hour, by the way. separately during a medal of valor award ceremony. he's already been quite vocal today, where else but on twitter. i think he sent 30 tweets in the last three days. he's tweeted ten times today, on everything from russia to the 2018 midterm elections. so let's get straight to the white house. with me now, nbc's kristen welker live from the briefing room, where it has not started yet, kristen. any idea what the delay's about? >> reporter: we don't know what the delay is about, ali. good question. it was supposed to start at 2:00, with then it was pushed to 3:00 and then back to 2:50. we're running a few minutes late. but we do have a number of different topics that will be at the forefront today once this briefing does get underway. russia will undoubtedly be front and center in the wake of those indictments handed down by
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special counsel robert mueller and the indictment today of that attorney linked to rick gates and paul manafort. so all of that will be questions that will undoubtedly get asked, specifically about how the president has responded. he's done a lot of finger pointing over the weekend. again, yesterday, and today, including at his predecessor, former president obama. president trump saying that he's actually been tougher on russia than former president obama. and yet a lot of critics say that that's not the case. and they point to the fact that congress overwhelmingly passed saengss that would impact russia and the president has yet to actually implement those sanctions. the state department says, look, the mere threat of the sanctions is already serving as a deterrence from countries doing business with some russian countries. so they're already taking effect. but a lot of critics, including democrats, saying the president's just not being tough enough. he actually needs to enact the sanctions and then announce next steps. for example, will he be convening some type of a
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commission when it comes to meddling in u.s. elections, particularly with the midterms looming. so that's going to be one of the big topics of conversation. and of course, the other one will be that mass shooting that we have been covering all week long. what does the president plan to do about it? of course, as we reported yesterday, president trump is indicating that he's going to support this bipartisan bill that would strengthen background checks. it is a very narrow piece of legislation. and you have some on capitol hill, senator dianne feinstein, for example, who wants to actually see an age limit on those who can purchase ar-15s. those are the weapons that was used in this latest massacre and a number of other massacres in recent months and years. so those are, i think, the key topics that you're going to hear discussed, ali. but remember, this is the first time we're going to hear from sarah sanders in a week. so a lot to discuss when she does come to the podium, hopefully in just a few moments from now. >> in theory, this would need to be a long press briefing to cover all the stuff that you
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were just talking about. but the president at 3:30 is scheduled to hand out some public safety medal of valor awards. we don't know how the math is going to work on this one, but thank you, kristen. we'll chat with you on the other side of it. we are awaiting that press briefing. special counsel robert mueller are handing down new charges, different from friday's. this time against an attorney accused of lying to investigators in the russia probe. moments ago, alex van der zwaan, the son-in-law of al ukrainian russian oligarch was seen arriving at the u.s. district courthouse in d.c., where he is expected to plead guilty. a guilty plea from van der zwaan would add to mueller's list to have guilty pleas in the investigation. to help us understand all of this and why this new development matters let's bring in nbc news intelligence and national security reporter, ken dilanian. ken, let's talk about what we know that mueller thinks alex van der zwaan did. >> sure, ali. according to the charging documents, he's going to plead guilty to lying about a conversation that he had with rick gates, who's a former trump
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campaign official, who has been charged in the mueller case, and with an unnamed person "a." he's also going to plead guilty to destroying an e-mail -- and by the way, the conversations happened back in 2014. and then the e-mail that he destroyed happened in 2016, according to these documents. this was an e-mail that the special counsel's office had requested. in fact, the documents say he spoke to both of these people in 2016 and recorded the conversations, which is a curious thing for a lawyer to do. now, what does this mean besides the obvious "it's not a good idea to lie to the fbi, robert mueller"? well, clearly this lawyer figures in the case against paul manafort, the former trump campaign aide, and rick gates. and this is a long and tortured is a saga involving ukrainian lobbying. but these guys have already been charged with serious crimes. why is mueller continuing to press on this aspect of the investigation. some people are speculating that mueller really wants to flip paul manafort. he wants perfe s paul manafort
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guilty and tell him what he knows about collusion. and this plea may be a step in that direction. >> this is skadden arps, the firm he works for, a 70-year-old, it's as white shoe a law firm as you get. they're a very high-end operation. it is hard to imagine that a lawyer hired by that firm wouldn't know that you can't lie to the fbi. >> it is really hard to imagine. that's a great point. and skadden arps has found itself immeshed now in this investigation. and there were reports in the fall that mueller was asking reports about yulia tymoshenko, who was a rival of viktor yanukovych, who was paying millions of dollars to rick gates. and this report was highly criticized by human rights gr p groups wigrou groups, because she was put in jail, and the law firm's report was essentially seeking to justify her jailing and accusing
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her of corruption. so absolutely, this law firm is elm me enmeshed in this, and he's also the son-in-law of a russian oligarch who's reportedly worth about $10 billion. and today this looks like the end of his legal career if he's pleading guilty to a felony. >> that's not something you're allowed to do if you're a lawyer. it's not something you're allowed to do if you're anyone, but it will end your legal career. thank you so much for your reporting on this, ken dilanian. as kristen mentioned, another focus of today's press briefing is going to be the administration's reaction to the gun control debate. congress' actions historically on gun control has been stagnant. let's take a look at some of the controls that congress has taken up since the deadly shooting in sandy hook elementary school, killing 20 first graders and six faculty members five years ago. first of all, we had testimony mann manchin/toomey bill of 2013. it was introduced shortly after the sandy hook shooting. the bill would have required background checks for all gun sales between private dealers, including gun show and websites selling guns. the gun lobby actively worked
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against this bill. it was defeated by a filibuster. this was a bipartisan effort. a month after sandy hook, democratic senator from california, dianne feinstein, introduced an assault weapons ban of 2013 as a new version of the 1994 ban that expired in 2004. this would have been banned semi-automatic weapons. the national rifle association fired up a campaign to stop it and this bill also never got out of the senate. a few years later, 49 people were killed in the pulse nightclub shooting in orlando, florida. after the massacre, several senators moved to introduce four measures that would close the so-called terror gap in the federal background check system. that would ban gun sales to people on the terror watch list. the nra actually campaigned against that. and it also failed in the senate. the nra didn't want to preclude people who were on the terror watch list from getting guns. you're getting the picture here, right? after the 2017 las vegas shooting, senator feinstein and republican congressman from florida, carlos curbelo, introduced a bill to ban bump
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stocks. that bill was stalled and has yet to be addressed. and in response to the las vegas shooting and sutherland springs, texas, church shooting, republican senator from texas, john cornyn and democratic senator from connecticut, chris murphy, introduced something called the fix the nics act back in november. i spoke about this yesterday. this bill designed to improve the national nics, which is the national instant criminal background check system. it was launched by the fbi in 1998. this is the bill that the president has agreed to back. to be clear, this is not a proposal to expand anything. it does not expand current background checks, probably wouldn't have stopped the shooting in florida. it is simply a bill that pushes federal agencies and states to enforce laws that are already on the books. this is about as little as you could ever do on gun control and claim you did something about gun control. a lot of gun advocates say this is bad because it's going to allow politicians to say, hey, we've done something about gun control when in fact they've done very little. at this hour, 100 students from marjory stoneman douglas high school are on their way to
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florida -- they're in florida, they're on they're way to the state capitol to take their message #neveragain directly to state lawmakers. their demand is that florida legislators use the remaining three weeks of the current session to amend state gun laws to prevent a massacre like the one in parkland from happening agai again. >> our goal is to finally pass some common sense gun safety laws, get some extensive background checks, and to the legislators at this point, if you're not for saving the lives of innocent children, then we're going to be voting you out. so it's plain and simple. >> okay, it's about a 450-mile journey, by the way, from parkland to tallahassee. nbc's tammy leitner is traveling with the students. she joins us now from one of the buses where they're at a pit stop. tammy, what's it like? >> reporter: well, they're getting back on the bus from the pit stop. they've been on the road about an hour. i'm actually here with an amazing brother-and-sister team. one is 16, one is 18.
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and you guys are pretty remarkable. tell me a little bit -- i know you're out of breath. you just ran back to the bus. tell me why you're making this journey. >> we're making this journey because we want to make a change. we want to be able to contact our legislators, not through social media, not so they can just ignore us, so they can just block us, so that they won't answer, so that we can meet with them face to face, look them in the eyes, and tell them not what we want, but what we need. we need change. we need safety in our schools. we need increased gun control. we need mental health background checks, and we want to ban semi-automatic weapons. we need to tell them so that they know and that they can actually implement this legislation. >> and daniel, what is it like being with your big sister on this journey, essentially? >> well, we're best friends, so once she said she wanted to go and i wanted to go too, it was a no-brainer at this point. but honestly, i'm sad that i
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have to make this trip. i'm mortified that our governments aren't standing up for us. it's sad to think that kids went to school, to learn, and they were murdered. and that's the bottom line. and i want to go up to legislators and say, what are you going to do about this? they're not going to ignore me. they're not going to run way. and they're going to answer me. look at me in the eyes and tell me what they're going to do. because why should i have to fear for my lives learning? i don't want to have to fear for my life going to school. that's not what the education system is for. >> reporter: and keep in mind, it's been -- it's been less than a week since these kids -- and you told me that you knew a couple of the kids very well -- since these kids have watched their classmates get gunned down and they are taking that grief, that anger, that sadness, and they're trying to turn it into something positive, which is what this bus ride, this eight-hour bus ride, 450-mile journey is about. and what the next two days is
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really about. ali? >> all right. tammy, thanks very much for your coverage of this. tammy lightner for us, she's been covering this since the shooting happened last week. tammy lightner in florida. coming up next, how russian trolls are managing to successfully flood social media with fake news, even in the wake of the parkland school shooting. chances are high that you are a target. but first, an important message, an important action from scott poplarado, a new york gunman who had an ar-15 like the one used in last week's stoneman douglas massacre. >> this is my legally registered ar-15 chi purchawhich i purchas years ago. i'm a firm believer in the second amendment and i have it tattooed on my arm. i remember after sandy hook, i said to my wife, i would gladly give this gun up if it would save the life of just one child. that was five years ago now.
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and since then, over 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings. i'm going to make sure that will never happen with my weapon. [ saw whirring ] >> now, people have always said, there's so many of them out there. well, now, there's one less.
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all right. we've spoken about russia's ongoing attack on our democracy. and yesterday we gave you a big-picture look at some of the methods and strategies on the social media side. now i want to dig in a little more and show you exactly how the internet research agency, this troll farm for twitter was so influential. take a look at this popular people that falsely accused hillary clinton and her campaign chair of being involved in a
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satanic ritual called spirit cooking. it originally evolved from the wikileaks dump of podesta's e-mails after his brother talked about seeing an artist. it then morphed into this. these lies spread so far, it showed up on the drudge report and in sean hannity's account, leaked e-mail appears to link clinton campaign chairman to bizarre cult ritual. which is kind of crazy stuff. i'm join agained eby ben popki who's been covering this very, very carefully. ben, these kind of things ended up with somebody taking a gun to a pizza parlor in washington, d.c., because they thought that hillary clinton was running a child sex ring. that was different, but the point is, these things do have impact. >> right. it's really strange to see how these conspiracy theories, they start online, someone behind a keyboard and it spills over into real-world action. and if people aren't necessarily taking it seriously, but it starts to distort the conversation. >> right.
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and again, sean hannity is -- a lot of people watch his stuff and listen to him on the radio. the fact is that's kind of crazy. he spread information that was put out from a troll farm in russia. >> right. so this particular satanic cooking story started with a wikileaks tweet. they directed people to this excised part of the wikileaks chunks of the dnc hacked e-mails they were releasing over the summer and they said, check out this part. and that's what started it. where the troll farm comes into play is then the trolls jumped on it and started amplifying it out to their networks, increasing the hashtag, #spiritcooking, and the more activity they get on it, they try to get that hashtag to trend twob sh , to show up into other networks that aren't looking at it and try to promote -- it's marketing. it's really sick marketing, basically. >> these trolls also targeted major events that were occurring, like brussels, the chelsea bombing, parkland, they get involved in something that's
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already got some social media traction and do what? they try to amplify it or try to amplify their message? what's the goal? >> it's just about riling people up, stoking divisions, finding threads, finding conspiracies and then just turning it up to 11. and, so, people are upset about gun control and the ar-15 instead of just saying, okay, let's have a debate about that. and clearly, this is a very charged to ed to begin with and just start dumping gasoline on it. they're talking about blood money and show blood dripping from hands and really yelling -- >> you can see these are events that occurred, suicide bombers in brussels, the bombing in chelsea, the last day of the republican convention, these are fake tweet spikes. so when something big is happening and you're on social media, like last week, the shooting in parkland, and you're assuming that it's big, because it's a big event and people are tweeting about it, some percentage of those things are nonsense, they're fake.
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>> right. the trolls flood when this real news event happens. and some of it is fake. that's the hard part. you can't tell what's real and what's fake. that's the whole game, headaching headachmaking us doubt reality. >> so i'm wondering, if i'm sitting there on my twitter right now, there are people talking about parkland, talking about the shooting. they're pro-nra, anti-nra, all over the place. every what's the implication if there are fake tweets, because every range of emotion is represented anyway. >> right. but you don't know who to believe or what to believe. that's one of the primary goals. make everything relative. you don't know what's real or what's not. don't trust anyone, return to your tribal groups. stop communicating, and just break down and weaken the american conversation. >> ben, thanks very much for your work. we'll continue talking about this, because i think we've got to do a lot of work to understand what is going on and what the implications are. ben popken is a senior staff writer and editor at nbcnews.com. he has been digging through this
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for months. go to nbc news.com to read the more than 200,000 tweets that twitter has highed ttied to russian-linked activities. ben and his team have gone through them and listed them on the site. president trump took to his twitter account again this morning to defend what he calls to be a strong stance on russia. "i have been much tougher on russia than obama. just look at the facts. total fake news. okay, mr. president, let's look at the facts. major intelligence agencies say with high confidence that russia interfered in the 2016 election. president trump has repeatedly called the investigation into russian interference a hoax and a witch hunt and the white house has neglected to enact sanctions, despite congress authorizing them overwhelmingly last year. with that in mind, a new op-ed in "the washington post" argues that by downplaying russia's interference, trump is ignoring the worst attack on america since 9/11. the columnist who wrote that piece, max boot, joins me now. a senior fellow on the counsel
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of foreign relations and author of "the road not taken," an excellent book. notwithstanding the fact that lots of people were killed in 9/11, what's the point you're making? >> the point is, we have been attacked. and this is the most serious foreign attack on the united states since 9/11, because it undermines the very foundation of our democracy. faith in our electoral system. and trump is just looking the other way. this is as if the president after 9/11 had said, you know, it's a hoax that al qaeda was responsible and i believe bin laden's claims that he didn't really do it. and we're not going to do anything to defend ourselves. that's essentially where we are today because of trump's refusal to acknowledge what happened. we don't have a commission. we have not put in place safe gards guards -- >> 9/11, you can't really deny. the stuff that ben popken was just talking about it, it's insidious. it has no name, sometimes. you can say. and people do say this to our reporters across the country all
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the time, you dpguys are making something out of, it's not really a thing -- >> or their minimize or trivialize it the way trump does. i saw this after i wrote my article, all these trolls online saying, why are you getting so upset about a few facebook ads? it goes a little bit beyond a few facebook ads. this was a very concerted, very ambitious program of disinformation, designed to tilt the american 2016 presidential election. and we can't say that it failed. because the candidate the russians want actually was elected. >> you make a point here. and that is, because of 9/11 and because we all were on the same page generally about why it happened and what to do, we did things about it. now, you can argue today, whether the wars were right, but fundamentally, we took action and realized there was a threat. >> we safe garded o safeguarded system. even though trump's own intelligence chiefs just testified that the russians are still attacking us. >> last week. >> they're still attacking us.
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they're targeting the 2018 election. >> and they're trump appointees. here's the irony, when the president said he's done more than anything else, look at the facts. he's not only wrong about denying that he said russia was involved. we have endless tapes about him saying russia's a hoax, it's a democratic invention. >> he has not convened a single cabinet meeting or security counsel meeting. and that leads to the suspicion that maybe he doesn't want to sa safeguard our democracy because he benefited in 2016 and maybe he hopes to benefit this year and in the 2020 election. >> max boot is a "washington post" columnist and the author of "the road not taken," as well as this remarkable op-ed. please read it. . up next, powerful words from teachers and a student who survived the stoneman douglas high school shooting. they'll take us inside their classrooms as the massacre unfold. while this was burning, you were saving other homes.
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pete, how did he plead? >> reporter: he pleaded guilty to the charges, so he'll be sentenced in april. and he faces a sentence, maximum sentence under the law of five years. that's what the law says, if you lie to the fbi. but his lawyers and the prosecutors have agreed that the likely sentencing range is zero to six months. and i suspect if he cooperates with the government, i doubt he'll do much time at all, if any. his lawyer said his wife is in london. she's pregnant and they want to get the sentencing over with so he can serve whatever time he may have to, so he can get back over there and help her with the birth. we've learned that he's a dutch citizen. he was born in brussels. he's 33 years old. so he doesn't have a u.s. passport. and of course, one of the things, if he's convicted here, he could likely be deported. now, he may not care about that, because he's been working most of his life overseas. he's been here since november. that's when he talked spot special counsel's office and pleaded guilty today to lying
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twice to the fbi about conversations he had with richard gates who, as you know, is paul manafort's former partner, and also a referred to in court documents as person "a," who is apparently an associate of manafort and gates who was in ukraine. now, ukraine's important here, because that's the essence of this case. manafort and gates helped to arrange to have a law firm look at the prosecution of a political rival, of a person they were representing in the ukraine. this law firm is the one that alex worked for. and what the government says here is that he lied to them twice about communications he had with gates and this person "a." and the theory of the government's case here, ali, appears to be that this report about the prosecution was supposed to be independent, but van der zwaan was in communication with both sides here. that's the essence of it. >> pete, thanks very much. i've got to go to the white house press briefing, but i'll talk to you more about this later. pete williams in washington outside the court. let's go to sarah huckabee
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sanders. >> -- multiple times before. he acknowledged ed it during t transition. he acknowledged it during that press conference in poland. and he acknowledged it at a third time during a press event in poland. he has stated several times, i think one of the places where you guys seem to get very confused and it seems to happen regularly, the president hasn't said that russia didn't meddle. what he's saying is it didn't have an impact and it certainly wasn't with help from the trump campaign. it's very clear that russia meddled in the election. it's also very clear it didn't have an impact on the election. and it's also very clear that the trump campaign didn't collude with the russians in any way for this process to take place. >> sarah, if that's the case, why hasn't the president implemented the sanctions which congress passed last year? >> uh, look, i -- frankly, that's not completely accurate. look, this president has been tougher on russia, far tougher on -- >> -- sanctions --
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>> well, there's a process that has to take place. and we're going through that process, that that law also says that the countries have to violate something in order for those sanctions to go into place. and that hasn't necessarily happened. but what i can tell you -- hold on -- that the president has been extremely tough on russia. he helped push through $700 billion to rebuild our military. i can assure you russia is not excited about that. he's helped export energy to eastern europe. i can assure you, russia is not excited about that. he has put and upheld sanctions that the obama administration put in place. he's upheld those. he's closed three diplomatic properties that were russia's here in the united states. he has taken a number of actions against russia and put pressure on them. he's helped arm the ukrainians. there are a number of places that obama was too weak and refused to take and put pressure on russia, where this president has. >> sarah, democrats and republicans -- >> i'm moving on. sorry, i'm sure he'll pick up where you left off. >> i'll pick up.
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first, a clarification from some of the president's tweets over the weekend. the president doesn't really think that the fbi failed to stop the parkland shooter because it was too involved with the russia investigation, does he? >> i think he was speaking not necessarily that that is the cause. i think we all have to be aware that the cause of this is that of a deranged individual that made a decision to take the lives of 17 other people. that is the responsibility of the shooter, certainly not the responsibility of anybody else. >> so did he mis-tweet when he said that. he was pretty direct. he said, "this is not acceptable. they are spending too much time trying to prove russia colluded." >> i think he's making the point, we would like our fbi agencies to not be focused on something that is clearly a hoax in terms of investigating the trump campaign and its involvement -- >> you just agreed that the evidence is there. that the russians interfered in our election.
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>> i said -- that the trump campaign colluded -- >> but this investigation is about what russia did and raises the question now that you said that the president agrees, the national security adviser says the evidence is incon to reveritable, what is the president going to do about it? what is he specifically doing about the fact that russia interfered in our election and has every intention, we are told, of doing it again? what is he doing about it? >> look, just last week, the department of homeland security secretary krirs ten nel -- kirs nelsen met with a number of relevant stakeholders. everybody wants to blame this on the trump administration. let's not forget that this happened under the obama administration -- >> it happened over a year ago. what's he done about it? >> we have spent a lot of time working on cybersecurity, focusing on protecting the fairness on our elections. and as i just said, the department of homeland security met with state and local officials, just over the last
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several weeks, along with election vendors to say that our election system is secure. last may, they met with state and private officials on how best to secure the election system from foreign interference. we're not the only targets of foreign interference and we're working with our allies on the daily basis to make sure that we're following best practices. this has been a topic of conversation with multiple foreign heads of state. president trump and the administration have made it clear that interference in our elections will have consequences. and we're going to continue to impose consequences in response to russian cyber attacks. just last week, we called out russia by name. it was one of the first times that you've seen something like that take place. we're going to continue doing things like that. >> -- he hasn't even called out putin. he criticized obama, he criticized the fbi. he didn't even criticize vladimir putin. >> he has been tougher on russia in the first year than obama was in eight years combined. he's imposed sanctions. he's taken away properties. he's rebuilt their military.
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he has done a number of things to put pressure on russia and to be tough on russia. just last week, there was an incident that will be reported in the coming days in another way that this president was tough on russia. >> sarah -- >> last week, the florida governor, rick scott, called for the fbi director's resignation. the governor and the president were together over the weekend or last week. did the -- did governor scott talk to him about that? but more importantly, what does the president think? he obviously tweeted about this, but what does he think about the director -- should the director go? what is the consequence of their missing the tip on the shooter? >> i'm not sure if it came up in the private conversations between the governor and the president. i would have to check and get back to you. in terms of the action -- or the inaction of the fbi, that's currently being reviewed and investigated. and i can't speak to it at this point. >> is the white house -- >> i believe it's internally, and at this point, there's not a lot i can say.
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but i do feel and i've believed that we're looking at what action could be taken and certainly what actions can be taken to prevent that. >> does he have confidence in the director? >> no changes in that. we've answered that question a number of times and i don't have anything new on that. mara? >> what you said about the event tomorrow, you mentioned who is coming. what is the topic exactly? is it mental health? is it guns? what are they going to be talking about with the parent and the students -- >> i think it's a wide range of issues. you have a number of people that have, unfortunately, been through horrific tragedy like the one that we saw in parkland, florida, last weak. as well as some that hope they never have to go through that. we'll have a number of parents and teachers and students from schools in the local area, as well. and thus a listening session to see what can be done better. what the actual concerns of the students are. what they would like to see. one of the things that the president wants to do is make
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sure that he sits down with a number of people from across all fronts. unfortunately, when horrific tragedies like this happen, everybody wants a quick and a simple answer. but there isn't one. there's not a quick and there's not a simple answer. but we want to make sure that we're addressing the problem. and we want to make sure that we're meeting and talking with as many people that not only are affected, but that play a role in this process as possible. that's why he's sitting down with the parents, the teachers, the students. and he's going to sit down with state and local law enforcement officials. and then he's going to sit down with the nation's governors and bring all those conversations together and look for the best path forward and make sure we're doing everything we can in every capacity from a state, federal, and local level to make sure incidents like this don't happen again. >> thank you, sarah. the president in 2000 did support an assault weapons ban. what's his position now? is he open to reinstating the ban? >> i don't have any specific
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announcements, but we haven't closed the door on any front. again, that's what the next several days and weeks will be, to have conversations and to see what this process looks like. and to see what areas we can help make changes to. and in what places that we can do better. specifically, i know background checks are something that the president's supportive of making more efficient and looking at better ways to improve that process. and we're going to continue to look at a number of other far s factors as well. >> thanks a lot, sarah. in the aftermath of the indictment, which was handed down by the special counsel bob mueller's office on friday, the president tweeted quite a bit and tweeted quite a bit over the weekend. he was critical of the fbi, he was critical of democrats, critical of the ranking member of the house intelligence committee, adam schiff. even critical of his predecessor, but he was not critical of russia. he was not critical of the russian president, vladimir putin. i didn't get a sense of outrage
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in which the president put out there in his tweets that he's angered that another country, russia, tried to interfere in the u.s. presidential election. >> he actually called out russia by name in his official statement that went out shortly after those indictments came down m down. he called them bad actors and specifically called out russia. it was the only individual in that statement. that was the first reaction of the president. so i would disagree with the premise of your question. he's also, again, been extremely tough on russia in a number of different ways and we're going to continue to do that. >> -- anger or outraged by the fact that russia tried to interfere in our system? >> i think he's angered that anybody would try to meddle into our system. but again, i think it's important to remember that we are looking forward, too, on figuring out the best ways to make sure that doesn't happen again. >> thank you, sarah. i have three questions.
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you mentioned the background checks, the house passed bill includes conceal/carry reciprocity. is that a provision the president would consider in the aftermath of this tragedy? >> i haven't spoken to him about that specific procedure. i know he spoke with senator cornyn on friday. the senate version is a little bit different. and he is generally supportive of that. but we're going to continue those conversations. >> separately, last week lthere was some news made by secretary pruitt and secretary shulkin. they both have their private travel and use of first-class flights and federal resources. do both of them still have the confidence ott preside-- of the president? >> i have no reason to believe otherwise. as we've said many times before, if someone no longer has the confidence of the president, you guys will know. >> and the chief of staff on friday, those with interim security clearances by the end of this week that have been outstanding since june of last year would lose their access to
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classified information. one of those people is his attorney, senior adviser jared kushner. how will he be able to do his very senior job in the white house if he does not have access to classified information? >> i can tell you that no decision within the memo will impact anything that jared kushner is working on in terms of specifics on security clearance. i can't get into -- >> does he not need classified information to do his job? >> i can't answer whether someone has security clearance or not, as we've addressed many times before. but i can tell you that nothing that has taken place will affect the valuable work that jared is doing. and he continues and will continue to be a valued member of the team. and he'll continue to do the important work that he's been focused on with the last year. >> sarah, you mentioned a deranged individual took the lives of 17 people at parkland. that's after a deranged individual took dozens of lives in las vegas, in the wake of which the president offered some support for the idea of banning bump stocks, which then seemed to have fallen by the wayside.
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which was presided by a deranged individual snuffing out the lives of nearly an entire classroom at sandy hook, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. other than supporting a bill that would encourage state and federal agencies to do what they're supposed to do, does the president have any ideas, any ideas at all on how to address this? or is he starting from scratch? >> i can tell you that the president supports not having the use of bump stocks. and that we expect further action on that in the coming days. he ordered the department of justice and the atf to review the regulation of bump stocks. my understanding is that review has been completed and movement will take place on that shortly. but the president, when it comes to that, is committed ed tted ensuring that those devices are -- again, i'm not going to get ahead of the announcement, but i can tell you that the president doesn't support the use of those accessories. >> and on the broader problem of deranged individuals getting ahold of weapons and killing
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people indiscriminately, does he have any ideas on how to deal with this? >> look, we're having -- again, that's part of a lot of the conversations that we're going to have over the next -- >> which would suggest he's starting from scratch here. if he has to listen to a bunch of people and doesn't have any ideas of his own -- >> that's not what i said. can you explain? >> i was trying to before you interrupted me. but the president is very focused on mental illness, working with the health and h human services department to determine the best path forward on that. and what is available and allowed under the law. certainly something that we take very seriously. and something that we want to address. and that we're working hand-in-hand with both the federal government as well as state and local law enforcement officials on what we legally can do. unfortunately, we can't just flip a switch, but there is a process. we are a law and order country. and the president is trying to do everything that he can under
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his capacity to address these concerns and certainly when it comes to mental illness. julie? >> would the president consider granting mr. kushner a full clearance, even if the red flags in his background check suggested otherwise? >> first of all, i'm not aware of any red flags. and i think it's irresponsible to suggest that without having seen any individual's file. and secondly, um, i haven't spoken to the president about whether or not that would be necessary, but again, as i said, mr. kushner's work that he has done will not be impacted. he's going to continue to do the work that he's done over the last year. roberta? >> -- ever overruled the personnel security office on any -- >> i'm not aware of any time that's happened. >> former speaker beginning rich h -- gingrich has put forward a proposal about training more teachers and administrative officials on using firearms, having more firearms in the schools. i wonder if that's in the range
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of ideas that the president is open to. and if you can explain a little bit more about how the president and how the white house is going to run this process, in terms of taking in ideas from everybody and having these listening sessions? >> i haven't spoken with him about speaker gingrich's plan, i'll have to get back to you on that front. over the next several days and weeks, how we'll run that process is take in a lot of information from individuals that have been affected specifically by zoschool shootis as well as those who hope they never have to be in that same situation and talking to state and local law enforcement officials, state and local elected officials on what we're legally allowed to do. and what areas that we feel like we can help move that forward. david? >> what does the president think about secretary shulkin's handling of his travel and all that thing? what did trump think about that? >> look, this is -- still has the -- i think there's a 97-page
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inspector general report and until there's a secondary review that takes place and until that's completed, i can't comment any further on it. i'll take one last question. >> does the president believe there should be an age limit for those who buy an ar-15? as you know, the shooter in florida was a teenager when he first bought an ar-15. >> i know there are currently laws in place in certain states that restrict that in terms of whether or not we make that federal policy, that hasn't yet been determined. but that's something -- >> is that something -- >> i think that's certainly something that's on the table for to us discuss. and that we expect the come up over the next couple of weeks. >> and let me just ask you, over the weekend, he tweeted about his national security adviser, h.r. mcmaster, suggesting that he seemed to forget to say that russia didn't impact the outcome of the election. has he spoken to him since? and does he still have confidence in him to do his job? >> he still has confidence in general mcmaster. i spoke to him specifically about that answer. he said that he liked the general's answer, but just thought that little addendum would be helpful to add. thanks so much. >> sarah, does the president
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still believe that vladimir putin didn't interfere? >> well, clearly some of the reporters didn't think that press briefing was over, but sarah huckabee sanders does. it was late, it was an hour and a half late. it was shorter than expected, given that they have not had a press briefing since before the shooting in parkland, florida. it was contentious. and there were some crazy things said in there, including that the president has done more on russia than president obama did in eight years and that the president was very clear about the fact that he had said that russia has meddled in the u.s. elections. some very serious challenges to sarah huckabee sanders from reporters in there, including our own kristen welker. kristen, no satisfaction, really. i think you went at it three times with her and she was not in the mood to answer your particular question today. >> reporter: right. well, i started off by asking if, in fact, the president does now acknowledge that russia interfered in the 2016 election with the purpose of trying to
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influence that election and she essentially said that, yes, that is the thinking now here in the white house, that the president acknowledges that. and she went on to build this argument that she says the been against russia than former president obama, despite the fact that in those tweets that we saw over the weekend, no harsh words for russia, no harsh words for vladimir putin, and they haven't imposed those sanctions which was passed last year so i asked her about that as well, ali, take a listen to that exchange. >> the president has acknowledged that multiple times before. he acknowledged it during the transiti transition. he acknowledged it during a press conference in poland and acknowledged it for a third time at a press event in poland. he has stated several times, i think one of the places where you guys seem to get very confused and it seems to happen regularly, the president hasn't said that russia didn't meddle, what he's saying is it didn't have an impact and it certainly wasn't with help from the trump
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campaign. it's very clear that russia meddled in the election. it's also very clear that it didn't have an impact on the election and it's also very clear that the trump campaign didn't collude with the russians in any way for this process to take place. >> if that's the case, why hasn't the president implemented the sanctions which congress passed last year? >> look, i -- frankly, that's not completely accurate. look, this president's been tougher on russia, far tougher -- >> sanctions -- >> well, there's a process that has to take place, and we're going through that process. that law also says that the countries have to violate something in order for those sanctions to go into place and that hasn't necessarily happened. >> reporter: and despite what you just heard from sarah sanders, you have democrats and some republicans saying, look, the bottom line is the administration could get tougher and they're slow walking those sanctions. so the question became, what
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happens next? sarah got a range of questions about that. she insisted that the department of homeland security is working with state and local officials to try to secure the election process heading into the midterms, but not a whole lot of specifics about that. she was also pressed on that tweetstorm this weekend including the fact that president trump undercut his and national security adviser h.r. mcmaster. you heard sarah sanders say the president still has confidence in his national security adviser despite publicly breaking with him over the weekend after h.r. mcmaster made public remarks saying it was very clear that russia meddled in the election. the president tweeted that he should have added that there was no collusion. so that was sort of the -- all of the headlines when it came to russia, then there were a number of gun-related headlines as well. we learned the listings session on wednesday, ali, will include not only those from the parkland community but those from columbine as well as sandy hook.
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she seemed to express an indication that he would back some version of a bill that would strengthen background checks, but what would he support beyond that? that remains an open question. she was asked about assault weapons. she said, look, he's open to having these discussions. when it came to bump stocks, though, i thought this was another important headline, ali, she did say he had directed the atf to take a hard look at the regulations already in place when it comes to bump stocks, which, of course, can turn weapons into assault weapons, an indication that we may get some type of announcement on bump stock. >> yeah, that was a kind of a surprise, i didn't know that was coming. all right, kristen, thanks very much. >> reporter: you got it. >> thanks for continueing to ge the answers the country needs. we're going to fact check sarah huckabee sanders' comments that president trump has done more on russia than president obama did in years. 2012, an act was signed by president obama, that is probably the single biggest thorn in the side of vladimir
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putin right now. january 9th, 2017, before donald trump was inaugurated, restrictions were placed on the assets of a number of russian nationals. so we'll fact check this. i'll bring that to you tomorrow. to the point that the president acknowledges that russia was behind meddling in the 2016 campaign, i just want to play you in the president's own words his responses to questions about this over the last couple years. >> it's a democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election. i call it the russian hoax. the whole russian thing, that's a ruse. that's a ruse. the russia story is a total fabrication. how many times do i have to answer this question? >> can you just say yes or no on it? >> russia is a ruse. no, russia did not help me, that i can tell you, okay? could have been china, could have been a lot of different groups. could be russia. it could also be china. she doesn't know if it's the russians doing the hacking. maybe there is no hacking. >> want to bring in chris
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whipple, author of "the gate keepers, how the white house chiefs of staff define every presidency." this month he's out with a new edition of that book, reince priebus and his time as chief of staff for president trump. chris, i hasten to wonder whether there are any gate keepers right now, certainly none monitoring the president's twitter output. he's now somewhere about 30 tweets now in the last 72 hours. most of them nonsensical. very few having to do with the real matters at hand. the parkland shooting or russian interference in the elections. lot of denial about whether there's russian interference. this is a moment in which we need a president. after a mass shooting, one of those key moments. most people can dispense with a president for a lot of their lives. these are those moments. >> you really have to wonder where john kelly is. i think he failed on almost every level as white house chief of staff including his own narrow definition which was to make the trains run on time. the west wing after the rob porter scandal.
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his fbiggest failure, inability to walk into the oval office, tell donald trump you can't smear the fbi with no basis and fact and blame this for this shooting because they were somehow too busy chasing collusion. no, you can't unilaterally disadi disarm this country in the face of russian attacks on our democracy. . kelly was supposed to be the grown-up in the room that somehow moderated these -- smoothed these rough edges with donald trump. he's been the opposite of that. he's doubled down on his partisan -- i. >> i will tell you one thing, we heard news from sarah huckabee sanders on buck stocks, something we didn't know was happening. we heard from the president. i want to interrupt you and listen to what the president just said about bump stocks. >> after the deadly shooting in las vegas, i directed attorney general to clarify whether certain bump stock devices like the one used in las vegas are illegal under current law. that process began in december,
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and just a few moments ago, i signed a memorandum directing the attorney general to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns. i expect that these critical regulations will be finalized, jeff, very soon. the key in all of these efforts, as i said in my remarks the day after the shooting, is that we cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference, we must actually make a difference. we must move past cliches and tired debates and focus on evidence-based solutions and security measures that actually work and that make it easier for men and women of law enforcement to protect our children and to protect our safety. in the aftermath of this evil
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massacre, our spirits have been lifted by the accounts of bravery, at the marjory stoneman douglas high school, coaches, teachers, students, law enforcement officers, and others who have shown us that the forces of love and courage are always stronger than the forces of evil and hate. it's this truth that brings us together today. the 12 patriots we honor come from many places and serve in many different roles. but they all share one thing in common, when faced with danger, they each put the lives of others before their own. very brave people that i'm standing with today. here with us are lieutenant william buchanan and emergency medical technician sean oceanbine. >> this is interesting.
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i will say, this is not much of a stretch. even america's gun lobby, nra, after las vegas thought maybe we should look at bump stocks. they are devices that can be put onto a semiautomatic weapon that uses the recoil of the gun against your shoulder to continue to allow to fire, turning a semiautomatic weapon into, as the president says, a machine gun or fully automatic weapon which would not be legal for civilians to have. the president saying in the wake of sarah huckabee sanders saying this in the press briefing that the president is taking action, a memorandum to direct making these bump stocks and devices like that illegal. i just want to remind you, even the nra thought that they should be made illegal. chris, we've had to cut our conversation short, as a result of that, but we will continue them. thank you so much. chris whipple author of "the gate keepers: how the white house chiefs of staff define every presidency" and a new version of that coming out in the next month focusing, at least introducing reince priebus' ten year as the chief of staff of the white house. that this busy afternoon
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to a close for me. i'll see you back here tomorrow afternoon again at 3:00 p.m. thank you for watching. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi, everyone, it's 4:00 in new york. it's no coincidence that as the pace of indictments and charges from the mueller probe take on the feel of a drumbeat, donald trump's twitter feed reads like the rantings of an increasingly isolated and worried individual. news today that mueller has charged a lawyer who once worked with former trump campaign manager paul manafort for lying to investigators. nbc news reports, "special counsel robert mueller has filed a new charge against an attorney. the son-in-law of a ukrainian russian oligarch named in the controversial donald trump dossier who's accused of lying to investigators in the russia investigation. alex van der zwaan charged with making false statements about his communications with former trump campaign aide rick gates according to a court document.

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