tv Deadline White House MSNBC April 30, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
get done, what angela merkel wanted to get down. it isn't getting done. this does it for me. i'll see you tomorrow 11:00 a.m. eastern with stephanie ruhle. thank you for watching. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. /s >> hi, everyone, it's 4:00 in new york. we come on the air with breaking news in the legal battle between adult film actress star stormy daniels and the president of the united states of america. michael avenatti, daniels' attorney dropping the bombshell a couple hours ago that daniels is suing the president for defamation. the case is over the president's attack object daniels in a tweet in which he seemed to imply she was lying about the man who threatened her in a parking lot. here's the tweet in question from president trump. quote, a sketch years later about a nonexistent man, a total con job, playing the fake news media for fools. but they know it. here's the sketch daniels and her attorney released of the man she claims approached her while she was securing her infant
daughter in her car seat. here's how daniels' described the encounter. >> he walked up behind me. i saw his redpleks. i turned around and i thought he was going to say do you know where such and such class is or what building is whatever. he had his hands in his pocket and he looked at my daughter and i remember him saying, that's a beautiful little girl. it would be a shamed if something happened to her mom. forget about the story. leave mr. trump alone. and it was like it didn't even register to me at first, and then he turned and walked away. like i said, his face is burned in my memory. i wasn't even that scared at that moment because it was so shocking. i was like, wait, that didn't go as i thought it was going to. i got her out and hurried inside. when i got in the elevator to go up the floor, i leaned against the wall because i couldn't feel my feet or my face because i think it really sunk in what he had said. >> joining us now to discuss the latest legal developments in the growing standoff between daniels and the president is daniels' attorney michael avenatti. so, tell us about the case
you're bringing against the president of the united states and what, what exactly in that tweet was defamatory toward your client. >> well, he effectively accused my client, nicolle, of coning the american people, lying to the american people about the incident, about the sketch, about the man that approached her at the car door, and basically accused her of committing a crime in that she's reporting some criminal activity and describing somebody that did it and he's claiming it never happened. >> so, you prevail in a defamation case by proving that your client is telling the truth and the president is lying. is that right? >> that's correct. >> so, how do you achieve that? is this another effort to depose the president and get him under oath? >> well, certainly there is going to be discovery in the case. they're going to be able to take my client's deposition and i'm going to be able to take mr. trump's deposition sooner rather than later hopefully relating to this tweet and what's his basis of knowledge.
i mean, how does he know? what's really interesting about this is if he didn't know anything about ms. daniels, never had a relationship with her, never knew anything about the in touch story, michael cohen and he never discussed it, never knew anything about the agreement, never knew anything about the $130,000 payment which is the nonsense he's trying to sell the american people, how would he know whether the guy was nonexistent or not? what's his basis for that? >> and being called a liar is something that some of the women who have accused the president of misconduct, which i know isn't your client's claim, but just back to why lying about an accuser amounts to defamation. this is something that other people are accusing the president of as well, right? >> that's correct. i mean, the president may not like what somebody says about him. he may have thin skin and i think he does. but that doesn't give him carte blanche to go out, start making stories up about people, calling them liars, telling them -- telling people that they're making it up or fabricating stories. it doesn't work that way. it doesn't matter if you're
president of the united states or a normal american citizen. >> is part of this to get around michael cohen's involvement in the hush money case because of his pleading or taking the 5th amendment, you now have a 90-day delay, does this case not involve michael cohen? >> this case does not involve michael cohen. this is a stand alone case of ms. clifford, ms. daniels against the president. we considered where to file the action, gave it thought. we decided to bring a separate action here in new york. >> so, i remember one of the early interviews that we did. you told me that every time ms. daniels speaks, she's threatened with or at the time mr. cohen was threatening her with larger and larger fines for essentially violating the nondisclosure agreement. it seems like in some ways the tables have turned and now every time it's your sense that the president lies, you're going to
slap bigger and potentially graver legal consequence on him. do you have a feeling that the momentum has turned? have the threats against your client slowed and do you feel like you're gaining ground on the president and the people around him? >> it's our understanding we're still under the threat relating to the million dollars per incident. >> have you had a bill -- >> they haven't sent us a bill. they're preoccupied now. they're working on the national inquirer cover and things like that. they haven't had time to generate an invoice yet. the bottom line here is that if the president continues to make up statements and distribute them about my client and he lies about my client there are going to be consequence for that period. >> you brought up the inquirer. i don't know if people saw this one heck of of a pay wall, great for modern journalism. we had to go out and buy this. what do you think about the state of play between michael cohen and donald trump?
this doesn't really -- this is a publication owned by one of donald trump's closest allies, and one of his accomplices used to be mr. cohen. he's now being, i don't know if covered is the right word, but featured on its pages as someone with secrets and lies. what do you think about the fact that at a time when he needs cohen arguably more than ever, cohen ends up on the cover of the national inquirer? >> i tweet that had out yesterday morning. i laughed the first time i saw it because it's so transparent what is going on here, nicolle. a week ago saturday or sunday, the president sends out one or two tweets, supposedly backing michael cohen, talking about how he's a good businessman and trying to lend his support to him. and i thought that was transparent in that he's trying to bring him into the tent and make sure he doesn't rollover on him or flip on him. now a week later we see this. it is clear who is behind this ultimately. i think it's the white house and mr. trump. they've planted this story in an effort to undermine michael
cohen's credibility because i think dawn has set in, or light has set in. they realize something i've been saying for a long time. michael cohen is going to flip on the president. he's going to tell prosecutors everything that he knows about mr. trump and mr. trump's dealings and he's going to have to in an effort to save himself. >> and how does that, how does that affect your original case? where do things stand in your original case to invalidate the nda and to get back the hush money that mr. cohen wired to your client? >> i think with each passing week that case has only gotten stronger and i think that despite this 90-day stay, and we may be challenging that 90-day stay because we want to get on with it and get to the truth relating to these issues, despite the 90-day stay, i think our case only has proceeded to get stronger and stronger with each passing day. and as this string begins to unravel. >> so your case is getting stronger by just all the actions that appear guilty. is that right? the sense that you talked about the president's first position
being -- i don't know anything about it, obviously last week on fox and friends, you and i talked that afternoon, is no longer the case. you essentially told the host of fox and friends, cohen was my man on the crazy stormy deal. the president's story is changing, your client's is not. >> the more they talk the better our case gets. if the secret service would allow us, we'd send a limousine and take him to fox and friends. >> so would we. >> the more they talk the better out case gets. that's why we brought the suiter over the tweet. that tweet should have never been sent. it's irresponsible, undisciplined if the president wants to be undisciplined in politics, that's one thing. when you're undisciplined in law you get hurt. >> has anyone ever been proven to be dee famed in a tweet? >> i can't put my finger on it specifically. i don't know whether it's occurred. doesn't matter whether it's a
tweet or other publication. you have an obligation to be honest about it. we look forward to holding the president's feet to the fire as it relates to -- i look forward to asking him what the basis of his knowledge is. how does he know this didn't happen? he has no idea, at best, whether it happened or not. >> since the release of the sketch and the number of something like 1-800 if you're a thug call me. what was it? i'm not that far off. >> the 1-800 if you're a thug call me, that's michael cohen's number. >> since you released the sketch tons of people called. >> e-mail. >> just in case. >> i.d. the thug at g. mail.com. >> where is the investigation into identifying the man in the sketch? >> there have been literally thousands of leads that have been obtained from that sketch release and from the press that followed. we're running all those to ground. it's taken an enormous amount of time.
we have narrowed the field in my view. i think there's a handful of very, very credible leads and we're confident it's going to lead to one of those individuals. but we are being super diligent and very careful in the way that we are going about this because of the seriousness involved. we're not just going to rush to judgment and release this and identify someone. that would be irresponsible and you could potentially ruin somebody's life so we want to be careful about it. >> but the idea that you're trying to prevail in a defamation case, this is a serious investigation. no one in law enforcement is questioning the veracity of your client's claim that this man did these things. >> not at all. i want to set the record straight about something. my client did not just sit down with lois gibson -- lois gibson is one of the most world renowned forensic artists around. she has an i am perkable record. she's used by the fbi and others around the world to do this, okay. this woman knows her business. my client just didn't sit down with her, like you would on a street corner here in new york or another major city and they threw a sketch together in five
minutes. >> went to central park. >> this is a multi-hour process. i was not permitted to be in the room. no one was permitted to be in the room with the exception of the artist and my client. they spent an enormous amount of time together. a lot of questions were asked. and there was no point in time during the process or thereafter that ms. gibson voiced any concern that my client was not telling the truth. my client answered every question, was diligent, and was believable. >> okay. so, before we let you go, just take us through the president's legal travail buckets. he's got the case that you brought against him and the -- tried to invalidate the original nda. he has the case you filed today, the defamation case. he's also facing his involvement, he's one of the parties trying to defend some of the material seized in the cohen raid. if that's it, can you just sort of speak to where we are on all three of those? >> so, our case in california relating to the nda has been stayed for 90 days. we're likely going to challenge that and see if we can get that stay lifted. >> that's because there is a
fear that michael cohen may be indicted or charged? >> correct. the judge agreed with something that i've been saying, which is that it appears there are very serious charges on the horizon for michael cohen based on the evidence that's been presented thus far. and the court came to that conclusion and decided that the more prudent course of action was to delay the case 90 days. so, that's where that case stands. the case we have today, we just filed it, so the president will have to file a responsive pleading or answer that. and hopefully we're going to get to a period called discovery in which we're going to take the depp of the president related to his statements about ms. daniels including this tweet. and you have the president attempting to review the documents that were seized by the fbi in connection with the claims of attorney/client privilege. of course, if the president continues to appear on fox and friends and claim that -- >> and he was barely my attorney. >> barely my attorney. that should make that review very, very short and i'm sure the fbi and the u.s. attorney's office will be ecstatic about that because that means they'll have access to even more
documents. >> and is there any update on any other -- you said at least eight women approached you about representing them in other matters. in i of thoany of those cases co coming public is this >> we've been relatively busy. we're going to do our best. >> thank you for keeping united states posted. good luck with everything and unbelievable times when you are involved in three separate litigations against the leader of the free world. >> all of which could have been avoided. >> well, that's true. hire better fixers, i guess. when we come back, the trump loyalty test in action, how the president's obsession with loyalty is blinding him to the fatal flaws of candidates for top jobs. also ahead, shooting the messenger, how a comedian who told too many uncomfortable truths about trump's washington ended upp ended up under the bus. trouble . - learning from him is great... when i can keep up! - anncr: thankfully, prevagen helps your brain and improves memory.
all right. we're coming back with some breaking news this time from the geniuses at nbc news. i think we're joined by one of them. carol lee is up with brand-new reporting. nbc out with a story that just posted about white house chief of staff embattled white house chief of staff john kelly. i'll read you the first graft. insulting the president's intelligence and casting himself as the savior of the country. according to eight current and former white house officials, the officials say kelly portrays himself to trump administration aides as the lone bulwark against catastrophe cushing the erratic urges of a president who has a questionable grasp on policy issues and the functions of government. he's referred to trump as an
idiot multiple times to underscore his point according to four officials who say they have witnessed the comments. three separate people deny the account. let me read you a little more. current and former white house officials said kelly has at times made remarks that have rattled female staffers. kelly has told aides multiple times that women are more emotional than men, including at least once in front of the president four current and former officials said. during a fire storm in february over accusations of of domestic abuse then secretary of staff rob porter, kelly wondered aloud how much porter would have to endure before his honor could be restored. remember, folks, he was a wife beater allegedly. he also questioned why porter's ex-wives wouldn't just move on. carol lee joins us now. carol, this is an extraordinary body of reporting about a man whose grasp on the job as chief of staff is, at best, tenuous.
>> yeah, nicolle. what we were trying to do was figure out what kelly is like inside the white house and why, after nine months or so on the job, he is -- finds himself in this position where he's lost the room essentially. white house staffers, you know, increasingly are down on him, morale is quite low. and what we've found was this picture of someone whose public image as the disciplinarian, the person who is instilling order in the white house is very different from his private manner where aides say he is quite undisciplined and indiscriminate in the way he speaks about the president, about other people, just general comments that he makes, particularly the ones that you cited about women. and so, you know, we have a number of officials taking us inside the room in meetings where, for instance, during the debate over immigration where the white house was trying to work with lawmakers on capitol hill to come up with a
bipartisan deal, kelly had a number of meetings in his office. and during one of them said something, you know, said to the people in the room, you know, the president doesn't even understand really what daca is and called him an idiot, according to these people. and said, you know, we need to save him from himself. and that kind of manner, that attitude, is what really -- has grated on staffers inside the white house according to people we talked to who feel like enough is enough in terms of the john kelly portraying himself as this one person who is working to save the country from this president who, you know, could make any decision at any moment. so, what we've seen now in recent months is that it's getting increasingly worse and kelly and president trump seem very much to have kind of tired of each other. >> carol, i know how well sourced this reporting is. i have heard some of these same things around these flash points, but i've never seen it all laid out. i want to just go through some
of the sort of moments in time that each took down kelly a notch because i understand that his current situation to be the effect of a cumulative series of miss steps, one being which you talked about, when he was on capitol hill he called the president ill informed about immigration, and they started calling him someone who thinks he's president. i heard that from aides more closely aligned with the family. can you take us through sort of how that began a more open revolt against the kelly regime? >> sure. you're absolutely right. there is this feeling where kelly will say, not just to people in the white house, but he'll talk to lawmakers on capitol hill and present himself as someone -- described as he treats himself as if he's the principal, meaning he's the one who needs to be always around and trying to making very
consequential decisions. there were moments where it started shortly after he came in, maybe a month or so into it, where he would repeat that he's the one saving the country. there would be some kind of comment along those lines. i should say there are white house spokespeople who said he hasn't cast himself in that way. and if he ever did, he was doing so in sort of in jest. but there was that, that started to wear on people. there were these comments where people -- we talked to people who said they were stunned. they would be in meetings and kelly would say something and they'd like around like does he realize what he's saying. >> let me read -- you've got some incredible inside the room reporting here and i don't want to short change it at all. so, you report on exactly this. he often uses the settings where he's describing the president's position to express concern that trump 0 would agree to a deal that is not hard line enough on immigration and criticize the president's knowledge of issues to underscore the point. quote, he doesn't even understand what daca is. he's an idiot kelly said in one
meeting according to two officials who were present. quote, we've got to save him from himself. i remember you and your colleagues who reported out the rex tillerson moment about the president being a moron. that was a relationship that never recovered after nbc's reporting on what rex tillerson actually thought about donald trump. do you think this body of reporting is something that john kelly survives or do you think that the president has some suspicions that this is precisely what the chief of staff is saying about him? i know there are people around the president, folks aligned with the family who have had these suspicions for a long time. i've just never seen it laid out the way your reporting does today. >> i think that the president -- according to our reporting, the president does have suspicions about -- that kelly would speak about him in this way, you know, the white house press officials that we spoke to said they don't believe that kelly ever referred to the president as an idiot, that that's not necessarily a word that he uses. but, you know, our reporting
shows that he has multiple times. and on top of that, the president either, you know, is aware directly of specific comments or just generally has the view of that kelly doesn't think he has a grasp on issues all the time, or that he will take over and try to, you know, create a process so that in the end the president comes to a decision that he wants to -- that kelly wants him to come to. whether it's something on staffing or other issues. and, you know, there are also moments where kelly -- we talked to officials who said that kelly -- or before the olympics -- was in the oval office when the president was seriously considering withdrawing all troops in the korean peninsula and they had a huge fight on this and he pushed back on that. so i think in kelly's view, that emboldens or kind of underscores how he sees himself, as somebody who is keeping the country from some sort of crisis. >> all right. i want you to stay with us if you can. let me add to the conversation
washington post white house reporter ashley parker. with us at the table, a.b. today art, columnist for real clear politics. donnie deutsche who needs no introduction, our man on the michael cohen beat. and nbc news national correspondent heidi. and congressman david jolly. ashley parker, you have your own extraordinary body of reporting from over the weekend about the loyalty test. if you mash up all of your reporting about what the justice department spokeswoman had to go through to be accepted -- she had to walk in and convince the president she could serve as the justice department spokesperson for jeff sessions who at the time was one of the president's favorites. this was well before he recused himself. she had ho go in and prove her loyalty to the president. if you take that and hold it up against carol lee's reporting that the president's chief of staff has called him an idiot when he's not in the room, it paints a pretty dysfunctional
picture of the president's loyalty tesco liedit colliding people in 15 months of his grueling leadership style. >> it certainly does. i think the thing that is clear is that the president, just as he did when he basically ran a family business, prizes loyalty above all else. so, in the case of our story, there are a number of instances where people are utterly qualified, have very deep credentials, but because of some perceived slight or tweet an opposition to then candidate trump, they basically had to jump through all these additional hurdles, which they would typically not have to go through in a different administration's vetting process to get a top job. the flipsid3, of course, is that if you are loyal, that is often enough to overlook what may be lacking in terms of credentials and qualifications. back to carol's great report just now, it also shows that, look, this is a tricky white house to work in and one of the things that can ultimately get you fired is a lack of perceived
fidelity to the president. i think the most interesting question will be does president trump believe what seems to be this very solid report that his chief of staff, has privately called him an add yidiot. a couple weeks ago, general kelly lost the support of the staff. he and the president go back and forth. some liken it to us as a parent/child relationship, begrudging discipline, but also affection. if the president believes this to be true, that will be sort of another nail in the coffin for general kelly's rocky ten toure this point. >> i want to read a chunk. your story, we make a plan and a million things happen. your story is aptly titled, ready, shoot, aim. credentialed candidates have had to prove loyalty to the president with many blocked by
previous anti-trump statements. hundreds of national securities were nixed from consideration because they spoke out against trump during the campaign. for long-time trump loyalists their fidelity is sufficient obscuring what a traditional administration would be red flags, things like spousal abuse, gambling, and over prescribing percocet, all allegations that have been levelled against trump employees and nominees. >> yeah, so, one of the things we found in reporting this story is that on a certain level, this white house has a very traditional vet propaganda ses with, again, some additional hurdles which are any public statement that seemed to be negative toward president or then candidate trump. but the way the vetting process goes off the rails is when the president on a gut impulse or a whim kind of circumstance -- circumvents the process.
that happened in the case of dr. jackson. the president liked him. he was his personal physician. the president was impressed with that free wheeling press conference dr. jackson did, talking about how great his health was and he chose him. that nomination went down in flames. another sort of different example is rex tillerson. the president chose him because he sort of liked the guy, liked the look, liked his swagger. had he done any actual vetting he would have realized they had divergent world views and that was what led to his demise. >> and he has to live with a guy whose likes he doesn't like, john bolton and his mustache. let me read you one more piece. james comey' book about kelly calling comey after the president unsermon iously fired him to say he depth want to work for dishonorable people according to five officials. this has been swirling around, it's not surprising that carol and her colleagues -- and we've
nailed that down today, but just talk about the bigger picture of the kelly/trump relationship and any predictions of reporting you have about how long kelly is for the post of white house chief of staff. >> well, and carol has great reporting here and the question here is why are we seeing a number of these threads about kelly coming out now, just in the past couple of days there were also stories questioning his background as a chief of staff and pointing out that it's different from the traditional chiefs of staff who have strong political instincts and connections. and the fact that this is now coming out and who it's coming from could be very disturbing, because like the same thing happened with rex tillerson when carol's story ran about rex tillerson, calling the president a moron, we were all counting the days, the weeks, the months. >> right. >> it was eventually an expression of loss of faith. >> it was a matter of time, never a matter of whether. carol, let me give you the last
word on what is something that has been rumored but really never nailed down the way you and your colleagues do in this report today, and that is this characterization of kelly who reinforces the president's worst instincts on the questions of race and misogyny because he shares them. there is a real strong undercurrent here on the questions of immigration and on the way he talks about women. can you speak to what your story reports on those two fronts? >> sure. i mean, the first, if you just take the women piece of it, you know, we talked to officials who said that, for instance, kelly will say women are more emotional than men, that's a common refrain. actually one of the white house spokespersons we spoke to said they would agree with that statement and that generally speaking women are more emotional than men. but there are women in the white house who felt that statements like that kind of -- >> have they met donnie deutsche? [ laughter ] >> fair point. and then if you look at, you know, the other piece of it, the
immigration piece, the policy piece which is immigration is an issue john kelly feels confident in, he feels like he knows it well. he was very involved in those discussions with lawmakers on capitol hill. and while he said in the initial meetings running up to coming up with some sort of bipartisan deal that the president didn't know what daca is and was disparaging him to people who were in those meetings, you will recall that that deal actually fell apart between lindsey graham and dick durbin and so that -- after that, kelly had a meeting according to people we talked to where he said if it wasn't for me, the president who. made this terrible deal. and so, again, to white house staffers, it's unusual to say the least to hear a chief of staff speak in that way as if he was the one who was kind of calling the shots and i am 34re789ing the policies and the process. those are the two kind of two examples of what you were talking about in terms of women and i am galatians.
>> ashley, let me give you the last word. does this story land as a relief as a reason to make a change he may be wanting to make anyway or just another problematic story about another close aide thinking he's an idiot? >> that's a great question, and i think the short answer is it's a combination of both. the president, of course, who made his name on saying "you're fired" is sort of notoriously awful at firing people and he often needs to be pushed into doing what he clearly wants to do. this might give him that final nudge. by the same token, no one likes being called an idiot, certainly not this president. so, i don't think he's going to be thrilled even if it opened up some sort of new options for him to bring in a new chief of staff or do away with the position entirely. >> carol lee and ashley parker, two of the very best of the best people on the beat. thank you so much. our table will jump in on all of this breaking news on the other side of a break. we'll be right back. or is it? this farmer's morning starts in outer space.
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all right. we're back with some breaking news from nbc. carol lee's by line is on this story and reports and kristen welker, i'm sorry, and courtney and stephanie ruhle. let me see. get my glasses on. if i left anybody out, i'm sorry. power women at nbc, john kelly has eroded morale and casting himself as the savior of the country according to eight former and current white house officials. it goes on to report that current and former white house officials said kelly has at times made remarks that rattled female staffers. women are more emotional than men. relit gates his role in the rob porter scandal, and reups some of the flash points. donny deutsche. >> yes, i am emotional and i like to play pretty, pretty
princess with my daughters. and la-la land. here's the thing. the story broke, kelly and loyalty, the story is the president's secretary of state called him a moron and the president's chief of staff called him an idiot. let's rest on that for a second. >> based on eight current and former white house officials. >> secretary of state called him a moron -- i mean an idiot. that's true. kelly is an apt description of what he's doing in the white house. we're all going to run around in circles. but the scary part is you know it's true. you can see it in there and you can see him acting as principal. >> it's marked in time. let's put up the headline in january where kelly calls trump uninformed. this was in the washington post. john kelly calls some of trump's views uninformed. we have an interview a couple days later where kelly talks about how the president's views are evolving on daca. let's watch.
>> this president, if you've seen what he's done, he has changed the way he's looked at a number of things. he said very definitely changed his attitude towards the daca issue. and even the wall, once we briefed i am had. >> -- briefed him. >> it's easy putting out the fire of the day, our commander in chief has been called an idiot and moron. that is the scary story of the day. kelly will go. trump is all about loyalty. this is the final straw, no question about it. but the story is -- we have a moron and an idiot. >> david jolly? >> i think donny is right. general john kelly surely is capable of identifying failure when he sees it. as chief of staff to the white house, chief of staff to the president, he sees the failure right in front of him. to go back to the earlier story, though, the theme being ready, shoot, aim, what happens when john kelly is gone?
whatever you think of his ideology and the white house should have never exposed john kelly's ideology to the american people. that's not the role of the chief of staff. he's one of the few adults in the room. if donald trump lets him go, who is next, nicolle? because i'm not sure if we look at this white house we can see who brings a stabilizing force in that oval office after john kelly. >> well, amy, isn't t-- a.b., h hicks left. he hasn't replaced the communications director. do you think he'll fill the job? >> there have been some names. mick mulvaney. it's chemistry, not qualifications. as steve bannon was kicking around, many people who he's on the phone with late at night, his friends are saying, you don't need a chief of staff. you can be a chief of staff. and in his new going rogue mode
that he's in, he doesn't want any more grown ups in the room. james mattis, secretary of defense, is the only one standing. >> think of the people that have gone. mcmaster, gary cohen, hope hicks. rex tillerson. every grown up in the room is gone. >> he's done with grown ups. he will fire him and he won't replace him. and in defense of john kelly, i would just like to say what did did we just hear, that he was -- the president was ready to get our troops out of south korea? there have been anecdotes you are aware about that have never been revealed to the public that are beyond crazy where john kelly and other grown ups have stopped him from doing things that were going to be incredibly dangerous and consequential. he's obviously -- >> you're talking about crazy town. i'm getting freaked out. >> he's reached a saturation point it's clear. i think the kids are done with john kell and i that's why we're getting this reporting. he's reached a saturation point where he's incredibly burned
out, he's talking more openly how he's the bulwark standing between protecting the constitution and protecting the country from someone who is not taking the job seriously and isn't fit to be president. he felt this way obviously a long time ago, but now he's airing it. and i think the staff was glad he was there. i think the fact that this reporting has made its way out is because i think that the kids have turned on him. >> and it does coincide at a time when on a policy level he seems to be throwing off any kind of convention that he is going to be controlled by the quote-unquote establishment. when you look at some of his policy pronouncements on the tariffs, on the wall, on our relationship with europe. and i think the i mplications, then, when you take john kelly away, to donny's point, who is really left from that original bench that when they were all appointed really served to be kind of a calming force, people thought, okay, it's going to be okay. he's surrounding himself with people who are really qualified and respected. >> and, joe colvin, associated
press associate press reporter joins us. you've been out since the death of the presidential press conference. i think we should sort of usher in the rebirth of the fox phoner. who is going to stop him now? >> yeah, this is something we know the president loves to do. he did this constantly during the campaign. a reporter covering the campaign, used to be switching between channels figuring out where he was going to call next. you have a stream of consciousness from the president talking about the issues he wants to talk about and it often produces as we all know a ton of news. but, you know, as you've been talking about with the concerns of general kelly, i wanted to point out these are concerns that have been around now for a number of months, after the rob porter scandal. you had this moment in the west wing where especially younger aides really came to see kelly differently. they were concerned about how his version of events kept on changing, how the white house chose to handle an explanation
of that whole event. it's really been since then that you've had these concerns about kelly. at the same time you've got a president here who is incredibly unpredictable and kind of people around the white house thinking it's only a matter of time before the president decides to change directions. that said, there are a lot of people behind the president who would really prefer he not make any other major staff changes until after the midterm elections. >> jill, i understand that one of the collisions between kelly and the president was around personnel, and that the decision and the manner in which h.r. mcmaster was fired, the decision and the manner in which john bolton was hired, the sort of debate, if you will, it was described to me as a knife fight by many of the figures involved around replacing hope hicks. that these were some of the most combustible flash points and that kelly had some ideas for both those posts that were flatly rejected by the president who did his own thing. >> yeah, absolutely. you know, bolton especially, the
chief of staff was used to being somebody who was involved in big staffing decisions. you would expect cheech of staff to be part of that vetting process, decision process. kelly wasn't in the room when that offer was made. he found out after the fact. you have a president surround by strong personality, people like bolton, people like larry kudlow who reinforce the president's instincts when he courages him to go with his gut. those people fundamentally are from a different camp, a different perspective than john kelly. >> john jog i, pickup on the idea, the last guardrail standing, the last human shield against donald trump's impulses being the secretary of defense, jim mattis. >> sure. listen, remember, jim mattis, tillerson and kelly it was reported at one point suggested that none of them would actually all be out of the country at the same time because they had national security concerns about this president. but go simply to the day to day behavior of this president.
this is a remarkably undisciplined president with a chief of staff who have nothing else, appears to be very disciplined. the former four-star commander of u.s. southern command, he understands staff discipline with a president who does not. this is a president who is behaving as though he is in the waning days of his second term not going into the end of his first term election. and what could be could influence the blue wave people talk about, an erratic president confusing a republican agenda going into november. >> donny, there is the last paragraph of a story maggie haberman and her colleagues wrote over the weekend. it is about what congressman jolly just talked about, the mid terms. the last graph describes in detail all the different power centers. it describes the family in the west wing. it describes the professionals in the west wing, kellyanne conway, others from the former administration in that power center, rnc in a different power center and it puts the reelect in another power center.
is this how trump has always been with sort of competing power centers? >> yeah, they're competing but none of them are really power centers at the end of the day. it's minions amongst each other creating chaos. i've seen this before, a ceo where it's basically a borderline personality approach to loyalty. you're loyal or you're not, that is at only qualification that matters. creating chaos so he or she can feel alive saving the day. what he did to kelly, in the end can be his ultimate undoing. as long as he doesn't blow up the world, he doesn't have guardrails to basically stop what is going on. the other irony is these are traits of a weak leader. his whole thing is about strength and power and, you know, i am big tough guy. when you are a strong leader, you surround yourself with people stronger than you. that's strength. >> right. that's confidence. >> this shows his weakness. this shows his insecurity. so, the irony is the guy shooting all the pistols at the end of the day is the guy inside
of him who feels like he has very few bullets. >> the last guy with tiny pistols was roy moore. one of the biggest flash points of this white house has faced and some of the harsh est criticism was handling of accused wife beater that is rob porter. that is deeply reported in this account. we're going to dig into that on the other side of a break. stay with us. dear foremothers, your society was led by a woman, who governed thousands... commanded armies...
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endure. i want to read you a little bit more about the porter situation, since that was such a flash point. white house staff pointed to the incident with porter as the frustrations that the aides have had with kelly were made worse. kelly initially defended porter publicly, but was even more emphatic in private four current and former officials said, kelly who had access to fbi files suggested to aides that he had information different from news reports and he urged porter for 18 hours not to resign. when porter resigned, kelly stunned aides in a staff meeting to advance the false narrative that he had ousted porter hours after learning the details of the allegations, the aides said.
i was pedestrianed i was peddled that story by a former white house aid, that once kelly learned of pothe accusations against porter. take us back to the time to the mayhem that existed around the porter revelations and the incompetence, the sort of indefensible incompetence with which that was handled. >> reporter: it was really the most contentious, most difficult period at the white house, even rivalling the charlottesville, controversy where they had looked at john kelly as the stablizing force that they trusted to kind of make things work and that confidence was shattered. i remember, it was such a frenzied back and forth, we were getting differing news reports and we were bumping into john
kelly as he was going from sarah sanders office to his office. he was also giving that account, that within 90 minutes of finding out about those allegations that rob porter was gone and he demanded his resignation, and he's sticking to that. so there ee's a lot of he said/ said around the white house. a lot of staffers said they couldn't trust john kelly after that moment. >> the white house pushing back on this reporting, which is why carol lee and her colleagues have eight sources, attesting to everything we have covered in it. but speak to -- you're a member of congress, you were the principal, speak to how as a principal you would deal with allegations of domestic violence, particularly being
part of the past of that individual. >> john kelly and donald trump mishandled this, but it looks like john kelly was at the center of how this was mishandled. and this is the conflict for a lot of observers of john kelly who have known him throughout the years, i have had a lot of opportunity throughout my staff years to know john kelly. throughout my years, i knew him as a capable commander, a loyal marine, someone whose son died in combat. he was emblematic of sacrifice and service. but you can't overlook the fact that as chief of staff, we had the embarrassment of fredericka wilson, which he defended the president on and the rob porter situation that was nothing short of scandalous. it is a contradiction for how a lot of people know john kelly, but it is something he has to accept responsibility for and it's right to put the blame on his desk for this one. >> it also proves, heidi, that
everyone associated with donald trump comes out tarnished. >> yes, but in this case, this just feels like the kitchen sink. someone decided this is strategic that they wanted to kill kelly. and they are putting out narratives that have been out there for a while about porter, now this new reporting as well about calling trump an idiot. people in the white house know how to get through to their boss, the best way to get through to their boss is to go on the media. he watches tv voraciously, and this is the way to get his attention. and the question is will it have the desired effect. because someone at the white house is trying to close the door on kelly. >> put the porter stuff aside. remember when nicholson said, oh, you just made the country weaker, that's the way i would describe it. the way he was described, principal, and he's still there now. >> he's still there at this
hour, but you don't think he'll be there for long? >> i think the inner circle around trump, by the manife manifestation of this reporting is trying to separate him out. and for months we haven't heard from john kelly, he's left him out of his critical decisions and that's what he does, he lets them dangle before he ousts somebody. >> in afghanistan, it sounds like it was in exchange for rand paul's vote on pompeo. >> rand paul said he was assured from the president that the president is looking at getting out of afghanistan and that he believes what he said on the campaign trail and it was a comfort to rand paul and even mike pompeo as secretary of state was something he could support. this is exactly like pulling troops out of south korea, this is a decision made in the middle
of the night on the phone with a friend, without john kelly or james mattis or someone coming in and speaking to him that people are so afraid of. >> general hayden who was my colleague in the bush administration. had an incredible piece in the new york timgs ov"new york time weekend, about producing an intelligence community project for a president who doesn't always seem to know what's the truth and what seems to be truth. >> this may be the critical issue of our generation here in the united states of america. look, hayden's column is very poignant in that he speaks of a post truth generation, or a post truth era. but he references the fact that even in the balkans, in an immense conflict in the '90s that people understood the very basics of truth. this is a president that has waged war on the truth.
he has gas lighted people, he has created alternative facts and he has done so very successfully. it is something we have to gird ourselves again, it is the image of donald trump that we understand today that nobody else has been able to replicate, but it's something that's penetrating our society today and it could have long-term consequences if he remains successful at this. >> you equated the post truth president over famed outrage to some comedians summarizing some trump truths. >> don't be surprised if you hire a brash comic and she delivers brash comedy. i think that's the reality of what we saw. as this was happening, the president of the united states was in michigan waging war on the press and suggesting he's going to shut down the country if he doesn't get his way. for all of those that are saying
that the comedian's comments showed the disconnect with the american people, i actually think the reaction inside the belt way shows the disconnect. the american people have more mettle than what we're seeing in reaction to this. >> my thanks to joe, david, abby, heidi and all my colleagues who broke this unbelievable story at 4:00 p.m. we love you more than anybody else in the building right now. that does it for our hour, i'm nicole wallace. if it's monday, it's the chief of staff vs. the commander in chief. good evening,