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tv   MSNBC Live With Alex Witt  MSNBC  May 6, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PDT

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this is a cover-up that they are making it up as they go
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along. they don't know what to say because they've lost track at the truth. >> firing away, stormy daniels' attorney unleashing verbal fury. today's sunday morning assault coming after rudy giuliani once again tried to explain himself, but did he clear things up? >> i can't prove that. i can just say it's a rumor. i can prove it's rumor, but i can't prove it's fact yet. >> he is not doing his client any favors, and he's embarrassing himself. >> but what does the president think about his new lawyer now? well, today new legal questions in the stormy saga, some even about her surprise appearance on "snl." >> just tell me what do you need for this to all go away? >> a resignation. >> yeah, right. >> and a journey robert mueller surely wants to avoid, why the russia probe could soon enter the dead zone. >> good day, everyone. i'm alex witt here at msnbc world headquarters in new york. we begin with a live picture of the white house, explaining today their understanding of when president trump learned of
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the payment to stormy daniels. here's kellyanne conway, counselor to the president, who also served as his campaign manager for the latter half of his presidential run. >> i'm going to relay to you what the president has told me, which is the best i can do. he didn't know it at the time the payment occurred. i will tell you as the campaign manager for the winning part of the campaign, i was not made aware of this whatsoever. >> do you believe he did not have an affair with stormy daniels? >> i believe -- yes, he's denied it, so i have no reason to believe otherwise. i don't know. he has said he hasn't. but that's got nothing to do with my job in the white house, his job in the white house, or frankly the campaign. >> meanwhile, rudy giuliani sending another message to special counselor robert mueller and explaining under what conditions the president would agree to an interview. >> what happens if robert mueller subpoenas the president? will you comply? >> well, we don't have to. he's the president of the united states. we can assert the same privilege as other presidents have. president clinton negotiated a deal in which he didn't admit
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the effectiveniness of the subpoena. >> but he did testify before a grand jury. >> but only for 2 1/2 hours, only with an arranged format. >> meanwhile, michael avenatti, stormy daniels' lawyer, on how their case against president trump gets stronger every day. >> what they're trying to sell the american people is just not believable. and they can't even keep their facts straight or their lies straight. the more rudy giuliani talks, the more michael cohen talks, the more statements that the president gives on air force one, the better our case gets with each passing day. >> nbc news white house correspondent jeff bennett has the very latest reaction from the white house. good sunday to you, my friend. what can you tell us? >> reporter: hey there, alex. it's interesting because up until this past week, white house officials had been working overtime to create some distance between president trump and his long-time attorney friend and fixer michael cohen. the president and officials here at the white house, i think, were relieved to learn from deputy attorney general rod
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rosenstein that president trump was not a target of the southern district of new york investigation that is focused on cohen, but that all changed, alex, this past week given this media blitz that rudy giuliani, the former new york mayor, the president's long-time friend has been on, really bringing these questions about stormy daniels back to the doorstep of the white house. although, we don't have any more clarity about when the president knew about this $130,000 payment to stormy daniels for her to keep quiet about this alleged sexual encounter, and we also don't know for sure just how michael cohen was reimbursed for it. the other thing mr. giuliani was talking a lot about today on the sunday shows was the question of whether or not the president would sit for an interview with robert mueller. feels like we've been talking about this for a while, alex. i would point out it's been almost more than four months that both sides have been in talks, negotiations about whether and how the president will sit down for this face-to-face with the special counsel. that was one of the reasons why rudy giuliani joined the trump
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team two weeks ago. he joined with the specific intention of trying to bring about a quick resolution to the investigation and to arrive at some decision about this interview. and even though president trump has publicly said he would sit for an interview with mr. mueller, rudy giuliani today said he's not prepared to let that happen. take a look. >> the president said again on friday he wants to speak with moo mueller, answer his questions. so you're prepared to make that happen? >> not after the way they've acted. i came into this case with the desire to do that, and they just keep convincing me not to do it. i have a client who wants to testify. please, he said it yesterday. and you know, jay and i said to ourselves, my goodness, you know, i hope we get a chance to tell him the risk that he's taking. so he may testify. and we may actually work things out with bob mueller because working with him directly is good. >> reporter: and there's one other detail worth noting. it's that the special counsel has reportedly raised the notion
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of subpoenaing the president if he doesn't willingly agree for an interview. giuliani said today the special counsel does not have the authority to enforce that subpoena. more fighting words on this issue. >> and i've had attorneys weighing in on that as well, as to whether or not -- their suggestion was he would have to actually react to the subpoena, but he could take the fifth. so mueller wouldn't be getting something either way. okay, jeff bennett. thank you for that. joining me now, betsy woodruff and erin delmore, senior political correspondent for ladies, always good to see you both. betsy, what's the likelihood the president would go against his lawyer's advice and submit to an interview with mueller? >> ultimately, i think the likelihood is no. we can safely assume that giuliani's public comments are channelling if not the president's state of mind then at least his mood. there's no way giuliani would be going on fox ripping into the special counsel and criticizing mueller as a human without the president somehow signing off on
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it. i spoke with giuliani on thursday afternoon, and he compared mueller to storm troopers in our interview, suggesting that the special counsel has gone much too far and is being much too aggressive. additionally, one important change that happened this week that in some ways flew under the radar is emmett flood, a low-profile but very well-respected washington attorney, joined the president's white house legal team. he's taking over for ty cobb. now, ty cobb was somebody who supported an amicable, conciliatory, open relationship with mueller. emmett flood, what i was told by a person who's very close to him who's known him for quite some time, is likely to be much more combative and much less likely to let the president sit for an interview. so i think it's increasingly unlikely that the president voluntarily agrees to sit down with mueller's team. what's much more likely to happen is we have a subpoena and we have the ensuing legal fight. >> okay.
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giuliani was also envehicliinvo comments by the federal judge overseeing manafort's case. that judge suggest the he wants to oust the president from office. how impactful are these comments? >> they're giving a lot of credence and fire toward the conservative base who have been saying all along mueller is out of line. this is something you're being repeated especially in political circles on the right. at the same time, don't forget there are members of congress who are pushing forward legislation to protect the special counsel. even republicans who think that the special counsel should be granted the right to complete his investigation. so certainly this is deepening that partisanship, the partisan divide over the investigation here. and that's something that trump and his team are picking up and running with. when you see trump calling this a witch hunt, when you see him saying that the raid on cohen's house has gone too far, when you see giuliani echoing those comments on fox news, you're seeing them dig into the trenches and dig in for the fight to come. >> you know, let's play another point that giuliani made this morning. here it is. >> do you still want rod rosenstein to shut down this investigation? >> i do.
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i believe that after judge ellis' remarks last night, yesterday, rather, on friday, there's no question that the amount of government misconduct is accumulating. i happen to believe it's greater than anybody realizes. very embarrassing to my former justice department. >> erin brought it up, but betsy, the reaction has been what to giuliani essentially echoing the president's criticism of the justice department as well as the fbi? >> well, let's remember giuliani actually went further than the president has gone. he suggested rosenstein needs to close down the mueller probe. that's pretty extraordinary. giuliani made the same assertion on judge janine's show on fox news last night, saying he thinks it's time for the special counsel's investigation to be shut down. that in and of itself is probably not getting as much play as it warrants. that's an extraordinary thing for an attorney to say. it's also extraordinary for giuliani to say he's seen embarrassing and mounting evidence of misconduct. thus far there haven't been any judges who have actually accused
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mueller's prosecutors of misconduct or accused them of behaving in ways that's unethical or untoward. this is coming specifically from giuliani. the fact that giuliani is saying it likely means that trump endorses it. and look, i think this means the special counsel is probably on as thin of ice as his investigation has ever been. >> i'm curious what you think about this and how far the pushback is going to go. rod rosenstein we heard pushing back against these similar comments. he was saying, look, the doj is not going to be extorted. so where does this go? >> it's up to him. he's the only person who could end this investigation, but trump could ask him to do it, force his resignation, and they would go down the line. again, this has been drawn up as a red line among members of congress. this is certainly something that would not help trump's credibility. it would not help him expand his influence here or any of his credibility. a lot of people have called that a last step that would be hurtful to the presidency, to say the very least. >> rudy giuliani is calling on jeff sessions to shut down this investigation. jeff sessions, we all need to be
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reminded, recused himself from the investigation. so you just said it's only rod rosenstein who could shut this down. is that the case? i mean, does rudy giuliani not even know that jeff sessions can't do it because he's been recused? >> jeff sessions recused himself, right. remember, that's a point of ire and a point of contention between him and the president. the president even held up eric holder, someone who he's criticized repeatedly, as saying that holder was loyal to obama and obama had holder's loyalty. he has hung his attorney general jeff sessions out to dry for recusing himself and taking him out of this. so certainly it's something that the president has expressed regret over. >> all right. betsy woodruff and erin delmore, always great to talk to you. thank you so much. is the policy of maximizing political pressure and sanction on north korea pushing them away from peace talks? i'm going to ask a congressman on the foreign affairs committee if he's concerned.
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rudy giuliani at an event on iran policy yesterday making comments coming days before the president makes his decision on whether to recertify the iran nuclear deal. joining me now, democratic congressman ami bear of california, member of the foreign affairs committee. with a welcome to you, sir. rudy giuliani talked about his support of regime change for he says, i don't know how long, ten years or so and think it's the only way to peace in the middle east. what's your reaction to rudy giuliani speaking on foreign policy? >> you know, i'm not sure rudy giuliani's a foreign policy
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expert, alex. i think, you know, the iran nuclear deal accomplished what we wanted it to do in terms of reducing the ability of iran to acquire nuclear weapons. what we ought to do now is enforce the heck out of this deal and make sure they're in come plins wi compliance with this deal. that's where we should focus. we have other issues with iran, what they're doing in syria, what they're doing in iraq. we've got to address those issues, but i'd keep the nuclear deal intact right now. >> that's your expectation. that's what you advise. how about with regard to the president and what he has said in total. what are your expectations for what he will do? >> i would tell the president to consult with congress because even, you know, folks like senator bob corker, who's head of the foreign relations committee, chairman ed royce, who's chair of our committee, neither one of those individuals, both republicans, have suggested that we should actually pull out of the deal. what they've said is let's enforce this deal right now. i also think the president's got to be a little careful here because we're now entering into
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negotiations with the north koreans. we've got to stand by our word. if all the sudden we pull out of a deal, i think those negotiations get harder. >> and also mixed messages are difficult. in fact, i want to play to that end what rudy giuliani said about the three american detainees in north korea. >> there is a good chance that three longtime hostages in north korea will be released over the next several days. >> now, that may be so, but of course you'll recall on thursday rudy giuliani said they were going to be released that day, which did not happen. how concerns are you that hypersensitive comments like that could jeopardize the negotiations upcoming? >> you know, i think mr. giuliani ought to be careful about what he's saying. i think these negotiations are best left to folks at the state department and our negotiators. i think it would be a show of good faith if kim jong-un released these three u.s. citizens. i think that release ahead of
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the trump/kim summit that's coming up hopefully in a few weeks, i think that would be a show of good faith. again, i think mr. giuliani ought to be careful about what he's saying. >> yeah, and in terms of the kind of diplomacy or negotiations that are going on in the public realm, you know the president also pushed back friday on the "new york times" report that says he's considering reducing troops in south korea. first of all, do you believe the president when he says this option is not on the table? and then how risky of a move would that be, say the pentagon were going to follow through on this, especially during these negotiations? >> i was in south korea last week. i think any talk about removing u.s. troops off the korean peninsula is way too premature. in fact, i don't think it strengthens our hands in negotiation. i think we've got to maintain a troop presence on the korean peninsula. we have to make sure we move towards denuclearization and reducing that nuclear threat. there's a long ways to go here. we know kim jong-un has those
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nuclear capabilities. i think we've got to be a little suspicious that he's kind of flipped on a dime and says i'm ready to get rid of news nuclear weapons. let's take it one step at a time. i think the threat of war is a lot lower than it was even six months ago when i was last there. let's work with our south korean counterparts, but let's take this one step at a time. i think any talk from the president about pulling our troops out is way too premature. >> let's get to immigration now with you, sir. the president is making new threats when it comes to his border wall. i want you to listen to what he said at a business round table in cleveland yesterday. here it is. >> we are fixing and building walls now, but we need much more money. we're going to do the job. we may have to close up our country to get this straight. we either have a country or we don't. you can't allow people to pour into our country. >> close up our country, meaning that he wants to shut the government down when it comes up for budget negotiations in september. what is your reaction to that as
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a lawmaker? you represent a border state in california. especially now that the talk between the president and congress on daca and immigration matters, they've certainly stalled. >> they have. and alex, i don't know that the president fully understands the nature of the united states of america. we're a nation of immigrant, one generation after another coming here just to experience the american dream. that's who we are as a country. we shouldn't change that very fabric of the diversity of america. now, the most urgent thing is let's figure out how to protect these kids, these dreamers, and you've got bipartisan legislation. one of my colleagues, jeff denim, is trying to push something on the house floor and get a deal to give us a chance to vote on something. you have got plenty of bipartisan pieces of legislation. let us have a vote. >> okay. i want to ask you something about the mueller investigation. you heard the president saying on friday he'd love to sit down with special counsel mueller. what if that is all talk? what if he pleads the fifth? what happens then? >> the president says one thing, rudy giuliani says a whole
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different thing. the president's not above the law. i would tell the president to tell the truth. if he doesn't have anything to hide, go ahead and talk to the special counsel. that is how a country and the rule of law works. so let the special counsel do his job. if there's a subpoena submitted, you know, i think if the president doesn't have anything to hide, he ought to go visit with the special counsel. >> before i let you go, it appears as those democrats are back off on impeachment talks. you have house intel ranking member adam schiff with this morning to democrats, don't take the bait on impeachment. is that the democrats' position right now when it comes to all the political ramifications of impeachment, which is let's not go there? >> you know, i'd agree with congressman schiff. this juncture let the special counsel do his job, let him complete this investigation.
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if there's evidence of criminal conduct by the president, yeah, then you can start to move to impeachment. but you're going to have to have republicans willing to go in that direction, and you're going to have to have public opinion with that as well. we're already a very divided nation. what we need to do is start bringing ourselves together. if the evidence is there and the special counsel presents that evidence, then yes, at that juncture you can start talking about impeachment. right now it's premature. >> all right. democratic congressman ami bera of california, thank you for your time. does the president have to comply to a subpoena? well, rudy giuliani, you heard him, says he doesn't. i'm going to ask a former u.s. attorney if he's right. ♪ this is a story about mail and packages. and it's also a story about people.
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subpoena. but that doesn't mean giuliani isn't trying to negotiate it publicly by throwing out things like maybe the president will take the fifth, maybe the president doesn't have to comply, and by the way, i think that's also why giuliani backed off on the stormy daniels position, that by the way, payments really did occur. think about it. if you go into an interview with the fbi and you try to say i had no idea my lawyer was helping facilitate payments to an accuser, that's not believable. that wouldn't have been just a perjury trap. that would have been a perjury disaster. so i think in different ways, giuliani is posturing, positioning, and trying to put the best deal he can together for an inevitable presidential interview. >> i want to ask you about the stormy daniels payment regarding campaign finance law in just a second in terms of what giuliani said about that. let me be clear. if robert mueller asks for the president -- subpoenas him for an interview and he decided not
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to do it and take the fifth, physically speaking, does the president have to show up? does he have to do that in person, or can he send giuliani or another attorney to say he's taking the fifth, we're done, that's it? >> well, technically he's got to do it in person. but i think realistically, that's not going to happen. if the president asserts the fifth, i don't think a court is going to order him to show up. we can easily understand what a political disaster that might be. so while giuliani's tossing that card out there, i don't think he has any desire to have his client assert the fifth amendment. >> let's take a listen to what former prosecutor cynthia oxy told me earlier today in regards to this case robert moouler is building. here it is. >> when prosecutors build cases, they start sort of on the outside and move in. the longer you haven't been interviewed by the mueller case, the more trouble you're in. >> do you agree? what's your reaction? >> not necessarily.
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this is so different than any other case. what you do if you're being careful is you try to figure out everything that the prosecution might have that they might ask you about during the interview. there's lots and lots in the public record. james comey has written a book. but i think the key thing is can trump get through an aggressive round of questioning without tripping a wire in terms of a perjury trap. giuliani obviously is concerned about that. he wants to make it a short interview, a focused interview, and that's going to be no small amount of work because mueller's holding most of the cards. >> "the wall street journal" reports that this mueller probe may have to go dark for a period of time before the midterm elections. is there a precedent for this, and do you think that would be the right call? >> i don't think it would be the right call. i think he's got a duty because if there is corruption at the highest level of our government, he needs to unearth that,
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disclose that in the most appropriate way possible. of course, we know because we went through this with comey in his october surprise about the hillary clinton e-mail investigation being reopened, that the department of justice militates against doing anything that will affect elections. this is different. i think mueller has to keep going on and get to the botment to -- bottom of this so the public knows once and for all if there was a crime or impeachable offense committed. >> let's listen to what giuliani had to say about that payment to stormy daniels and whether or not it violated campaign finance law. >> number one, it was not a campaign contribution because it would have been done anyway. number two, even if it was considered a campaign contribution, it was entirely reimbursed out of personal funds. >> so he's saying that it doesn't violate campaign finance laws. is he right? >> well, lawyers always like to say it depends. we recall that senator john edwards was prosecuted, although
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unsuccessfully, but private donors supposedly contributed money for a hush payment to keep his political campaign alive and avoid serious embarrassment. giuliani's right that if the payment was motivated to buy peace with melania rather than to get himself elected president of the united states, that wouldn't be a violation. but i don't completely agree that if this were payments motivated for campaign purposes, i think that the fact that trump may have ultimately funded themselves doesn't eliminate the issue. after all, it wasn't properly reported. it might be more of a technical violation if the candidate used his own money. but it could still be a violation of federal campaign finance laws if the money wasn't properly disclosed in terms of its sources and who the payment went to. >> and to the point that maybe this was done to sort of protect the family, melania, the children, and that sort of thing, but can you just go down that line of thinking and not consider the fallout, the effect on the campaign as well by keeping it all quiet?
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>> well, and that could become a fact question that robert mueller decides. if he concludes that money was paid for the purpose of keeping this quiet, lots of indications indicate so, the question of what was the intent is ultimate lir ly a question of whether this would be prosecutable. if it's for family reasons, it's not a campaign finance violation. but look at the timing, look at the facts. he was gunning to be president of the united states. that's plenty of circumstantial evidence. >> all right. i do want to get to stormy daniels' appearance last night, the cameo on "saturday night live." she did this amidst her defamation suit against the president. if she's trying to prove defamation of character, can this potentially hurt her case? all this publicity, it proves she's a public figure. >> well, it absolutely does. and she's personally
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self-promoting, becoming something more of an entertainment figure than an accusing witness in a legal and political drama. so yeah, i think the public figure thing is wrapped all around her now. but i don't think at the end of the day she's counting on a big recovery from a lawsuit some day. i think there are so many benefit when is you get 15 minutes of fame and it keeps piling up. who knows, maybe she's been studying the james comey book tour and thinking about whether something like that could be in her future as well. but it doesn't make her a better accusing witness from a legal standpoint. >> a lot of people have commented on the expectation of her 15 minutes of fame. i'd say we're probably reaching 20 right now. just saying. all right, kendall coffey. good to see you. thank you. >> thanks for having me on. we're going to look at whether rudy giuliani's third try to answer that question will eventually clear the president of wrongdoing. then of course "snl" getting in on the action as always. this time taking on michael cohen and the president.
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♪ great big jim, there ain't no other ♪ -so, this is covered, right? -yes, ma'am. take care of it for you right now. giddyup! hi! this is jamie. we need some help. welcome back, everyone. i'm alex wit with the here at msnbc world head quarters in new
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york. there's new controversy surrounding comments from the president's personal attorney rudy giuliani. in an interview, he took another shot at clarifying his comments on a payment made to stormy daniels by michael cohen and later responded to this question. >> you said he -- this is a regular arrangement had he with michael cohen. did michael cohen make payment to other women for the president? >> i have no knowledge of that. but i would think if it was necessary, yes. he made payments for the president, or he conducted business for the president, which means he had legal fees, moneys laid out, and expenditures, which i have on my bills to my clients. >> let's bring in our panel. republican strategist lauren zelt, former new york congressman steve israel, also the former chairman of the democratic congressional campaign committee, and jason nichols, lecturer for the university of maryland's department of african-american studies. so a pick welcome to all four of you. i want to ask you first, steve, about your reaction to those remarks by giuliani. how do you hear them?
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>> look, i have to say, alex, this is the longest and most demeaning interview for a cabinet position that i have ever seen in my life. everything that rudy giuliani is doing is geared to an audience of one. let's remember that rudy giuliani was desperate to be in the trump administration, desperate for a cabinet position. at the time, there was some concern because he had some potential conflicts of interest, ethical issues. so he was disqualified. now we know this is an administration where no conflict of interest is disqualified. and rudy is knocking on the door again. the problem is that i really believe that he's doing a disservice to his client. i wouldn't hire rudy giuliani to represent me if i got pulled over for speeding at this point. he's doing a disservice to the president of the united states. >> that's a little harsh, i will say. however, to your point about the cabinet position he wanted, steve, he really wanted to get secretary of state. do you think that is why he does not hold back speaking about matters he should not be
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speaking about, particularly if he's doing so incorrectly, like north korea. >> that is exactly what is going on and why it is so dangerous. rudy giuliani knows that he is auditioning. this is "the apprentice" all over again. >> we just got a new secretary of state. he was just confirmed. >> look, no moss grows under a secretary of state or any cabinet seat in this administration. and rudy giuliani knows it. he wanted that position. he wants it again. and he knows it doesn't matter what foreign leaders think about him. it matters what his potential boss thinks when he turns on the television, sees rudy boosting his ratings. that's his number one qualification to get back into the cabinet. >> lauren, steve wouldn't even hire rudy giuliani to fix his speeding ticket. do you think rudy giuliani potentially is doing more harm than help for the president? >> i think a lot of republicans were scratching their head this week when we saw the addition of rudy giuliani to the team and also when we saw the hannity interview and the interviews that followed.
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you know, look, as someone who does a lot of crisis communications for a living, i don't think he's helping in any way. i think that he's making the situation worse. and i think something to watch especially is when you look at trump's base, they don't really care about, this but they also want it to conclude. they want to get on to business. they want the president to be talking about things like the 3.9 unemployment rate, growing jobs, our relations with, you know, other countries, things like that. so no, i don't really think he's helping. i think the congressman's theory is an interesting one, for sure, but i really do think that the administration would be better served to maybe keep him off the sunday shows and the other prime time interviews for the time being. >> or at least until he gets up to speed, right. i mean, for the time being. >> yeah. >> don't put him out on a media tour for heaven's sake. so you've got giuliani, who was trying to make the case that the president was not required to report the payments that he made
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to michael cohen. let's listen to what he said on that. >> it's not a loan. it's an expense. you don't include all legal fees on your financial disclosure form. how can you if you don't know about it. there's a question about when did he find out. >> does this do anything in your mind to clear up the questions about the president's financial disclosures? >> what did the president know? when did he know it? we keep repeating these questions. i think that all of this is very confusing for a lot of people watching and also at the same time not all that shocking because you have someone like rudy giuliani, someone like donald trump, the president, of course, but similar characters who just can't help themselves it seems when it comes to going on television and just saying things that i'm not a legal expert, but every other legal expert i've listened to has said are not prudent and unwise when it comes to an investigation going on, but i think we have to point out an underlying point here, which is important. when we're talking about stormy daniels and these payments, you know, it's not just a story
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about payments, potential campaign finance violations, about a porn star. this is also about the character of the president of the united states. this is about paying off women to shut them up. so if there are questions which giuliani was asked about as to whether or not there are other payments like this, that again is all just playing into the character of this president and the tenor he takes, the actions that he's taken when it comes to the treatment of women. >> look, you bring up character. very, very important. but by association, credibility as well has to be talked about, jason. these comments by giuliani and the president have really sparked new questions about credibility for the white house overall. then you listen to counselor to the president kellyanne conway. she was denying the white house is facing any sort of credibility crisis. do you agree with that? how do you characterize the credibility of the white house right now? >> well, first of all, when we talk about character then we bring up kellyanne conway, to me that's kind of an issue right there.
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one of the things i would definitely say is when giuliani spoke to sean hannity, he actually attacked the character of jim comey. he actually said jim comey's a liar and that he's a leaker and then he said me, rudolph giuliani, has never leaked anything. that's absolutely false. as a matter of fact, there was an unarmed black man in new york city named patrick dorisman who was shot by the police, and giuliani leaked his sealed juvenile record, which is illegal and completely unethical. but yet giuliani did that and somehow he selectively forgot that. one thing i will say about giuliani, i know there are some gangsters in queens right now from the mafia who wish they had faced this giuliani rather than the giuliani of the mid-'80s who actually was competent. >> that's interesting. lauren, can you comment on that? i mean, this was america's
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mayor. people hung on his every word for quite some time. i was a local news reporter in new york city when he was america's mayor. i hung on his every word. he was great to work with, great to ask questions of. the way he responded was very direct and strong. you didn't really challenge a lot of the things he said because he was talking from facts and figures and a basis of a very, you know, strong foundation. how about this guy? >> yeah, you know, i do think you're right about everyone in our country did see him as america's mayor. it's been really difficult to see him fall from grace a little bit. and i think, especially myself, i've been questioning -- you know, i understand he probably really wants to help the president. maybe he believes that he is. but it is difficult to watch. i will say it is because i do think people did root for him for a really long time. a lot of the decisions that he's making right now do seem to be questionable at best. that is concerning, and it's also a little sad. let's be honest, it is. >> no, i agree.
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but with regarding credibility, not only his, but others, it's not just giuliani. it is white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders. it's chief of staff john kelly. they're all among others whose credibility is now being questioned. so what are the potential implications of this? and i'm just curious, when you look to the white house, to whom do you look for, you know, people who are going to speak and say things you're going to believe? >> yeah, you know, i certainly look to see any time mercedes comments on something. she's a very seasoned professional. i always look to what she's saying, john kelly, and others. i know there was a lot of back and forth this week about whether or not sarah huckabee sanders lied to the press. i saw a lot of penal saying it's the job of press secretary to lie. i don't think that it is. you know, i think that's why you've had a lot of professionals decide to stay out of the white house. if they didn't feel that they could really do the job adequately and may have to do that, they haven't wanted to. i don't know if she's lying or not, but i do think the entrance of mayor giuliani on to the
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scene isn't really helping in this regard of the credibility question. >> steve, i want to get your take on this and add to the equation as you consider it. sarah huckabee sanders, in her defense, she may not be getting any information with which to work from facts, you know. >> or the information that she had at ten to 9:00 changed at 9:00. this is an administration, you need a neck brace to watch what is happening. i do want to say this. look, in fairness, every administration has communications directors and as a congressman, every member of congress has comps directors, press secretaries who have to sometimes evade a drek answer. that -- direct answer. in this administration, lying is the rule. they are constantly misrepresenting facts or just running into the truth. what i thought was interesting about kellyanne conway's interview earlier today, you
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know, i detected a slightly different kellyanne conway. i detected a kellyanne conway who was cognizant of the fact her words may be used against her. she was saying things like as far as i know, or this is what the president told me, but. so i think that the administration's own staffers are becoming more cognizant of the facts that what they say may, in fact, not reveal or reflect any semblance to the truth. >> okay. none of you are excused. we are going to take a commercial break. but coming up next, we're going to talk about the fight for congress. some potential clues now about the president's battle plans for that. and then the next hour, keeping the faith. what evangelicals think of the president and the stormy saga.
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what can i say? control suits me. go national. go like a pro. all right, everybody. 52 past the hour. i know we said we could bam being a and it talk with the panel about the latest strategy for congress. that's gina haskell right there. the reason is, she's the new nominee to be director of the cia. we are getting word via "the washington post" that she has sought to withdraw her nomination. this happened on friday after a white house meeting over the controversial interrogation techniques which she oversaw previously during her tenure in
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the cia. those techniques used of course on terror suspects. the report is adding that top trump aides have rushed to cia headquarters. that happened late on friday. trying to convince her to stay as the nominee of the president for director of cia to take the place of mike pompeo who has moved on to be secretary of state. i want to bring in my panel to talk about this. in all fairness, i know that this may be the first time any of the four of you are hearing about it because it is, for us, as well here via "the washington post." alona, to you first and your reaction to gina haskell. her reputation overseeing the interrogation program. it has been questioned. there have been a lot of people who suggested that she should not be put in the position as cia director because of that controversial program, yet many others have said she would be great for the job. what is your take on this reporting from "the washington post" that she's seeking to withdraw her nomination? >> i wouldn't even call it controversial interrogation techniques. it's torture.
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that is what you have human rights advocates, the u.n. special report on torture. we'll call it that. that was -- she oversaw one cia site where there was a suspect who was waterboarded. she also oversaw the destruction of cia interrogation tapes. so this is somebody we do want to reckon with our history during the bush administration over the last 18 years of the war on terror as a country that i think we need to be very critical of people like gina haskell and the history and record that she has had working. so i think that that at least is a welcome step if she feels that she's going to be facing a very tough nomination process because there are going to be serious questions about it. >> lauren, your thoughts on this. this is the president's nominee, his pick. >> certainly, i think politically she had a tough, tough job ahead of her in her senate confirmation process. i mean we saw that it wasn't a sure thing that mike pompeo was
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going to be confirmed as secretary of state, which i do think is disappointing, especially given the history of people working together in a bipartisan manner to confirm the secretary of state. but that aside, i think she probably looked at mike pompeo's confirmation process, saw that it was more difficult than i think many people would have hoped. for reasons that have been outlined here, it was just going to be a tough road for her and so i think i can understand why she would want to withdraw. >> steve, i have to tell you and admit this is a very long article and i am reading it as we are having this conversation. i think it may be premature to talk about this nomination in the past tense. we did report that white house officials went to the pentagon. they're trying to convince her -- rather, to langley, trying to convince her to continue in this possibility in role as cia director. at the end of this article it is saying that officials are saying she has agreed to continue with her nomination. so that may still be the case.
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but what does that say about what we can expect in a confirmation hearing should this go forward? >> well, it shows continued instability and chronic chaos in this administration. and even the process by which it brings its nominees to the united states senate. alex, i just want to step back for a moment. i spent most of my 16 years in congress dealing with defense issues, on the arm services committee, the appropriations defense subcommittee. i've been to afghanistan and iraq over a dozen times. there is a reason why we do not endorse torture in the military. it is not just good moral standing. it is because we do not want to give other countries the moral standing to torture our personnel, our troops. there's a reason why virtually every military leader -- and not even leader, but every military person i talked to about this issue said congressman, we don't torture, not only because it is the right thing to do, not to
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torture, but because we don't want to be tortured. this is a real problem. for that reason she should either withdraw or her confirmation be denied. >> i think she did have a tough road. john mccain and others have talked about torture and that this does not do us as a nation any good, particularly when we're trying to say that we are a bastion of freedom. people were trying to close down gitmo and a lot of other things to improve our image around the world and not empower our enemies. to say that the united states is a hateful place and is going to go out and torture people. so i think it is -- it keeps our moral standing good for her to actually step down, and i hope that she actually does. >> clearly there is a lot more to come. i want to thank all four of you for your conversation and insights. much more on this story on gina haspel comingy you are way
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