tv MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi MSNBC May 9, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
that katy tur thinks that might be cocaine but she's not sure. i think it's best if we leave that conversation, i guess, right now. >> i think so. awkward. awkward. ali very well she. >> it is a good thing this is taped so we can edit this all out. good afternoon. this hour president trump is going to take to the podium at the celebration of military mothers and spouses events. it's happening as the white house's foreign and domestic affairs are under a microscope. right now, three americans who were detained in north korea are on a plane with secretary of state mike pompeo headed back to the states as free men. at the same time, trump says a date and place has been set for his meeting with north korea's leader kim jong-un. the president has mounting troubles on the home front. trump's pick to head the cia, gina haspel faced a tough confirmation hearing.
much of the questioning was focused on her role using enhanced interrogation techniques, torture after the 9/11 attacks. and, showing headlines regarding donald trump's personal lawyer, michael cohen. there are new allegations that a russian oligarch paid him half a million dollars and that cohen was promising access to trump, all sorts of people and businesses. all of these issues are sure to come up this hour during sarah huckabee sanders briefing which we will bring you as soon as it begins. joining me now, nbc muse's kelly o'donnell. so much has happened since the last white house briefing i'm surprised they are having one. they have a lot to answer for. but the cohen allegations are overshadowing the things the president would like us to be looking at, that is continued success on the north korea discussions. >> that's right. it will be a 24-hour day at the white house because of the anticipated arrival of the three americans released from north korea happening in the overnight hours. but the white house is not
commenting on the latest developments with the michael cohen situation. and of course we'll be able to measure if there is any movement on that in the briefing if sarah huckabee sanders engages on any of those questions. as you pointed out, the white house certainly would prefer to shine a big bright light on. some of the developments from foreign policy where the president today talked about the announcement that he made first via twitter then talking during his cabinet meet being the fact that the americans who have been detained by north korea were safely released, presumed to be in fairly good health, and are in transit back to the united states. the secretary of state mike pompeo also making that journey back with him. here's a bit of how the president sort of -- he built up the anticipation and as he so often does, there is a showmanship quality to how he talked about this in the cabinet room just a short time ago.
>> it will be i think a very special time. nobody thought this was going to happen. if it did, it would be years or decades, frankly. nobody thought this was going to happen. and i appreciate kim jong-un doing this and allowing them to go. we picked a time. we picked a place for the meeting or summit as you like to call it. and i think it will be very successful. but as i always say, who knows? who knows what's going to happen? but it's going to be a very important event. >> always with a big tease of who knows. the president has also said that he is giving up, at least for now, some of the pejorative nicknames and name calling that both he and kim jong-un have engaged in. so no more little rocket manning. -- little rocket man. he actually thanked kim jong-un
for releasing these americans. >> developing news about the president's personal attorney. nbc news has confirmed that the treasury department's inspector general is now looking into the leak of michael cohen's financial information, specifically about his consulting firm essential consultants. information was obtained by michael avenatti and nbc reviewed some of them from avenatti. some of them show that cohen opened a bank account they weeks before donald trump was elected president. he used that bank account to pay stormy daniels $130,000 just before the election. now, that bank account is linked to a limited liability company, an llc set up by cohen called essential consultants. remember that name it's going to be important. also set up just before the 2016 election. the account hosted transactions totaling $4.4 million.
where did all of this money come from? what was it for? a large amount of the money came from a subsidiary of novartis investments. they revealed in a statement they had a one year deal with michael cohen's firm and paid him $100,000 a month for a grand total of $1.2 million. they also sekoen reach out to them, promising access to the administration. the company says they believed cohen could advise them how the trump administration would approach health care. novartis said after meeting cohen he would be unable to provide the services related to u.s. health care matters. they couldn't terminate the contract so they paid him the entire $1.2 million. they were contacted by cohen's offi -- by mueller's office in november and have cooperated
fully. >> and at&t made payments to the llc. they confirm it worked with cohen's company essential consultants to get quote insights into understanding the new administration. hold the phone for a second at&t, that company is currently involved with an anti-trust suit with the justice department because it has been trying to merge with time warner something the president said he wasn't going to allow. suddenly, he is paying his personal lawyer. at&t denies they did any lobbying. another company, management firm called columbus nova. you won't have heard of them. they paid cohen $500,000 and made eight transactions. columbus nova is scrolled in part by a wealthy russian named victor vekselberg.
the firm's ceo is an american. also happens to be the cousin of victor vekselberg. cohen actually met these two at the inauguration after columbus nova donated quarter of a million dollars to the inauguration fund according to campaign finance records. the firm denies vekselberg was involved in hiring cohen. he is one of the ruchest men in russia and ier this year he was questioned by agents working for special counsel mueller. back to cohen. cohen's essential consultants also got $150,000 from korea aerospace industries in november 2017. the "new york times" reports the company partnered with lockheed martin trying to nab a several billion dollar contract with the u.s. air force. the company hasn't responded to
nbc for comment. what does all of this mean? there are a lot of questions whether these payments were legal and why the companies involved made them. so i brought up my buddy, msnbc legal analyst danny is a val owes. try to make sense of this for us. we have been struggling through this all day. some of these companies, some of them public companies, at&t pay money. they say that michael cohen's company did no legal or lobbying work for them. what's is money for? why do companies pay the president's private lawyer and or fixer hundreds of thousands of dollars. >> you brush off first that essential consultants is not a legal firm. but our prior experience with ec is it was involved in settling a case with stormy daniels. >> right. >> and involved with paying the $130,000 to stormy daniels and with one center, michael cohen, who ostensibly acted as an attorney. i wouldn't brush off quite so
fast that ec was not acting in a way like a law firm though it doesn't appear that's what it's organized for. moving forward to at&t. the first question is, with a company like this, a public company -- publicly traded company i should say. >> yeah. >> what was the obligation of their legal counsel in vetting a contractor or a -- somebody they were about to pay however many thousands of dollars? >> at this company there are rules when you establish a vendor or a contractor. some due diligence you would think would be done. and somebody might say hey this company has been open only a few weeks and has no officers expect michael cohen. >> ec doesn't even have a website. howe how did they find it? what made them choose that company as one of their vendors. there is a corporate process for this type of thing. torp ragss can be charged with white collar crimes. what prosecutors will look for
is the nature of the fact. you need to see an act by a public official, was money exchanged quid pro quo for an official act or influencing an official act? we are not there yet. >> at&t has been trying to get a merger done with time warner for some time. something that trump the candidate railed against during his campaign. and shortly thereafter the company is paying the president's lawyer. >> if at&t were to have paid a politician or a elected official directly money and you have this pending merger they are trying to get influence over it's possible a prosecutor or court could infer from these circumstantial facts that you have the elements of bribery because all you need to do influence that official act. that's it. in this case you have an intermediary. two major questions arise. what happened to that money ultimately and what did that intermediary do, michael cohen? i expect in the coming days you will see michael cohen frame this narrative as they hired me
as sort of an anthropologist of all things trump. i didn't talk to trump, but as a guy who is very close to trump. there is nothing wrong with me saying, you know, after lunch he gets a little tired. so that may not be the best time to approach him with an issue. >> don't call him then. >> don't call him then. that's already how we see them circling the wagons in this case on both sides. that might be the path to a completely innocent transaction. but be warned. the more this turns into influence for an official act of any kind you are getting into the federal bribery statutes, which are very expansive although the supreme court admittedly reeled them in. it's not a crime, after the mcdonald case to pay money exchange for mere access, maybe scheduling a meeting. if there is an official act then we are in bribery land. >> it doesn't pass the smell test. i want to look now at that
half a million dollar payment from columbus nova and the russian oligarch victor vekselberg and his connections to the trump family & associates. his cousin, andrew intrader, the ceo of columbus nova paid half a million dollars on behalf of the company to the shell company of michael cohen. they also donated money to president trump's inauguration according to campaign finance records. intrader and vekselberg both attended the inauguration. and according to the "new york times" the pair met michael cohen there justice after column boughs nova paid his company $500,000 for consulting work. vexelberg was also at the now infamous 2015 dinner in moscow where one-time national security adviser michael flynn sat at a table with vladimir putin. he also controlled a company that owned the largest number of shares in the bank of cypress
according to the "new york times." trump's commerce secretary wilbur ross was also an investor in the bank of cypress. it's the bank that former trump campaign manager paul manafort held accounts listed by the special counsel as part of an alleged money laundering scheme. vekselberg hosted an event answered by jared kushner and ivanka trump. the man on the rite, german kane. guess who his son-in-law is, alex vander swan. he reported to a low level security prison in approximate be pens on monday. test first person in mueller's investigation to be sentenced. he is serve thing time for giving false statements to the fbi over cooperating with witnesses. rick gates is cooperating with
this and he is also alleged to have had a conversation with a russian intelligence operative. gates is working with the special counsel in the russia probe. i need a break. that's nuts. okay. joining me now to make sense of this is msnbc's legal analyst nick ackerman. nick is also the former assistant watergate special prosecutor. he is a partner at doris audio and whitney. it's unbelievable. >> absolutely dine might. what you have here, when you put it in context of all the evidence, is evidence of a conspiracy between the trump campaign and the russians. i mean all you have to do is look at the christopher steele investigative reports. i mean, what michael cohen's role was was simply the same role that he was carrying out with respect to the stormy daniels case. just to give you one quote from that report, according to the kremlin insider, cohen now is heavily engaged in a cover-up and damage limitation operation
in the attempt to prevent the full details of trump's relationship with russia being exposed. all you have to do is substitute stormy daniels in there for russia. >> a point that you have made for a long time is that anything we are reporting today on tv mueller knows about and has known for a long time. >> a long time. >> casually in conversation people tell me there are a lot of parts to this story that seem to be coincidence. with each passing revelation there is less and less coincidence. a whole bunch of people at the same party, at the same event, a whole bunch of people funneling money through the same lawyer. >> if you go on further in these reports they say one of the items that was discussed between cohen and various russians in europe in the summer of 2016 was how they were going to bury the russian hackers to get them out of circulation, buy them off, use money to hide them so they wouldn't be uncovered and the whole break-in to the democratic national committee would not be
tied to the trump campaign. >> right. because the story about following money on one hand is where did it come from? we are starting to get that now. some from russia and weirdly from companies that wanted to do business with the administration. thousand we are talking about $4.4 million that went into this poe dunk account. that's fascinating. the bank reported to the authorities because they thought the activity in the account was weird. most americans thought the most shocking thing that happened in that bank account was the check cut to stormy daniels. >> that may be the least of the problems that they have. this is the reason that the white house wanted to get rid of this search warrant, why they attacked the search warrant. what these allegations -- what this evidence is going to do is totally undercut congressman nunez's whole attack on christopher steele and the
dossier he put together. it's going to provide evidence of conspiracy between the trump campaign and the russians and the break-in to the democratic national committee headquarters. and the hacking of all of those e-mails. and the use of those e-mails to get trump elected. i mean all of this starts to fit together. even rudy giuliani basically gives us the best point here. cohen just did these things. he buried things. >> right. >> this is exactly what the christopher steele report says. just he doesn't talk about stormy daniels because the russians couldn't have cared less. >> stormy daniels wasn't their issue. truly amazing. nick ackerman, former assistant special watergate prosecutor. up next we will head to capitol hill where the first woman nominated to lead the cia is still answering questions from senators in a closed hearing. plus three prisoners detained in north korea are on their way home expected to arrive in the u.s. in less than 12 hours. we will let you know what they
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the first woman nominated to lead the cia is answering questions in a closed hearing. there were plenty of blockbuster moments during the public session of the hearing. she was asked about the cia's use of torture after the 9/11 attacks and her role in that program and the destruction of videotapes that showed those interrogations. lawmakers said they were
concerned about a lack of information about her 33 years at the spy agency. haspel did not answer a question whether she oversaw the water boarding of a detainee but made this promise. >> having served in that tumultuous time i can offer you my personal commitment clearly and without reservation that under my leadership on my watch, cia will not restart a detention and interrogation program. >> nbc news capitol hill correspondent and coast of casey dc kasie hunt joins us now from capitol hill. i assume even though there is a classified hearing that's not it behind you? >> that's right. this is of course the public setting where you saw gina haspel earlier on in the day. the heart 216 ceremonial room. she is through these walls in what we refer to in here as a skiff. that of course is a room that is
secured to provide classified briefings and information. so she is behind those closed doors with intelligence committee members who have been coming and going as they have pressed her for information. this is also where the intelligence committee regularly hold its classified briefings during the week. so, really, in the context of a hearing like this, the performance art you see out in public in front of the cameras but a lot of the real questions are kept quiet because many of the questions simply cannot be answered in an open forum because they are still classified. i think you hit on exactly what democrats have been talking about, on the crux of this issue around torture, and these enhanced interrogation techniques that were used at this black site prison that haspel oversaw. that is this question of morality. you saw her asked that very simple question do you think that these techniques were immoral. here's a piece of an exchange on that topic. take a look.
>> my moral come pass is strong. i would not allow cia to undertake activity that i thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal. i would absolutely not permit it. >> you would not follow the order if you felt it was -- >> no. i believe that cia must undertake activities that are consistent with american values. >> but she never of course ali quite went so fares to say what happened at the cia -- when those techniques were used were not consistent with american values. that was not a question she answered directly. i should also note there have been questions about her confirmation, whether she would have the votes. joe manchin told us exclusively in an interview that he will vote yes on gina haspel's nomination. that makes her path to confirmation significantly ier. >> unless a republican changes
their mind. >> we know that rand paul has an issue, but that math may still work out. >> that could have been a taped response. when you say that ran paul has an issue, doesn't that come up every time there is a close vote. ? gina haspel's nomination brought the cia's controversial detention and interrogation program back to the forefront because of her reported involvement in it. after the 9/11 attacks the cia set up secret prisons known as black sites in eight countries including thailand, afghanistan, and poland. detainees were subject to enhanced interrogation techniques such as water boarding, slapping stress and sleep deprivation. in 2014, a senate intelligence committee report says 39 were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. three were water boarded.
the senate's rot cied the cia's own records in concluding that the techniques didn't work and that kay cia officials misled others about their effectiveness. haspel said the cia did get useful intelligence from the program. joining us now to take closer look is ali suffan. he is a former fbi special agent who investigated several international terrorism cases including the 1998 bombings of the u.s. embassies in kenya and tanzania. the attack on the uss cole in yemen and the events surrounding 9/11. he is the author of anatomy of terror. he is a producer on the hulu series the looming tower in which he is featured. ail suffan, does enhanced interrogation work? >> no. and it's interesting when miss haspel today talked about the program versus enhanced interrogation techniques. the program works, absolutely. we get a lot of people, we
interrogated them. i was involved in it at one point at the black sites. we generated a treasure trove of intelligence, not only because of the interrogation of these suspects but also because of the pack of letters, communications, other thing we found on them. the program from that perspective, the per tension program worked, yes. because every terrorist we are arresting would go into that program. torture by itself, no, it did not work. what we see today is a continuation of this selective declassification of information that was aimed and continued to be aimed to deceive people to create false narrative. when we mick all of these things together, when we talk about the efficacy of the program but in the same time we don't allow people to say how we really identified mohammad -- >> she brought that up. she says if not for the way the cia did things you would not have had him.
>> exactly. i took a picture from the black banner from my book how the cia redacted. >> when you skim through your book there are pages and pages blacked out by the cia. >> the pictures are on my twitter. i cannot say what is redacted i can tell you it was not torture, not water boarding and it was not enhanced techniques. >> a lot of people say the u.s. overclassifies things. there are things that you wrote in that book about interrogations that you testified in front of congress about. it is actually in the public record. >> sure. >> i think we have got some video of you testifying. couldn't see you all that clearing because you are behind that screen in the testimony. >> that's a long time ago, yeah. >> but the point is, they even classify things that are of public record. so it's very easy to say enhanced interrog techniques work. >> right. >> hand on one second. the president has been
introduced at an event he is holding right now, an event on military spouses. let's pop in there. >> i'm reading -- [ applause ] i am seeing all those stories, and they love melania. thank you karen, and karen, and ivanka, and cali ann. thank you for being here. to all of the military spouses here with us this afternoon, welcome to the white house. a very, very special place. we are honored by your presence. and we celebrate your hurroic servi -- heroic service. too chb to, military spouses do not receive the recognition they deserve. do you know that feeling? i don't think so. no. you endure long separations during deployments. and some of them are much longer than you ever barringoned for. you routinely move your families around the country and all over the world. you maintain morale in your family and across the military
community. your support is essential to making our military the mightiest fighting force in the world and getting stronger all the time. we just approved $700 billion for our military. [ applause ] we are going to be having the best equipment ever known. next year, $716 billion. i wanted to let you know. [ applause ] by the way i know you don't care about this, but that also includes raises for our military. first time in ten years. your love, resilience and courage uplifts our heroes and indeed our nation. we are forever in your debt. i also want to thank all of the spouses here today who are serving in uniform. you are an inspiration to us
all. a great inspiration. [ applause ] today i'm here to tell you that my administration is totally committed to every family that serves in the united states armed forces. that is why earlier this year i was proud to sign that big pay raise that i have already spoken about. and improud of it. and i guess there will be others, too. would you like one sooner or would you want to wait another ten years? i don't know. we are also taking action to expand employment opportunities for our great military spouses. and i know what you have gone through. the competence is so high, and yet it's so difficult. that's not going to happen anymore. one of the thing that helps is our tremendous jobs situation in the united states. we just hit 3.9% unemployment, which is the biggest of this
century, the best of this century. that really helps, helps a problem. but beyond that, you are going to be given treatment like never before. as you know, the unemployment rate among military spouses of whom more than 90% of women is ims .estimated to be four times higher than the unemployment rate that i just spoke of but we are going to change that. it will go fast. you have seen what we get done. we will get it done. we are working with states across the country to encourage them to remove licensing barriers so that spouses who worked in careers such as teaching, nursing and law -- many others as -- can get a job in their profession no matter where this they move. in just a moment i will take executive action to promote
military spouse hiring across the nation. military spouses have already shown the utmost devotion to our nation, and we want to show you our devotion in return. [ applause ] we will now ensure that you have better access to federal jobs by taking this action today, we are leading by example, and encouraging american businesses across the country to expand job opportunities for our incredible and talented and highly educated military spouses. this includes opportunities to work remotely, which technology, as you know, has made more possible and more of everything in life possible than ever before. america owes a debt of gratitude
to our military spouses. we can never repay you for all of that you do. we know what you do. and your spouse knows what you do. we can never repay you for that. but we can and we will give you the opportunities you deserve. today we take one of many important actions to ensure that you are free to pursue your careers, support your families, and continue serving this nation that we all love so much. when you are strong, your families are strong. and america thrives. thank you. good bless y god bless you. and god bless america. thank you very much for all you do. thank you very much. >> the president -- we are going to have a press briefing fairly soon. i want to finish my conferring with ali suffan. i want to talk about za bada.
he was caught and water boarded 83 times. he was sleep deprived. et he was confined to a little box. all sorts of thing happened to him before you talked to him. i want to play a little -- >> actually, after i talk to him. >> of a you talked to him. >> after we got all the swell jens from him he was water boarded 83 times to give the same information that we already knew. and that is not only in the report. it's also indicated in all the other investigations, internal investigations that took place about this situation with zabada, to include the d.o.j. inspector general and the cia inspector general. >> you -- he was interrogated. he was brought into custody. you sat down with him. and you got actionable information? >> why he. >> without torturing him? >> without torture. we started to get information immediately from him. you know -- >> according to your testimony to the senate, within an hour? >> less than an hour, even. i asked him what's his name.
he said david in arabic. i said what if you call him honics. he got shock on his face. that's the name his mother called him as a child. he knew i knew a lot about him. he started immediately giving us information. and i testified under oath. also the senate select committee on intelligence, a document of the time line of when he gave all the information way before water boarding started. they claimed the dirty bomber, padilla was a result of water boarding. he was arrested in may of that year and water boarding didn't start until later that year. unless you have a time line, it's impossible for him to be identified because of water
boarding. it's sad. because today we have history. for the very first time we have a woman nominee to lead the cia. i worked with so men women -- >> which is a great thing. >> absolutely. amazing thing. i worked with so many women in the cia, fbi, in the intelligence community. it is an amazing moment for them. with all the service they provide. >> without recognition in most cases. >> now we are focusing on torture. we thought we turned that page. they insisted that they want to turn that page back. open old wounds and discuss all these issues. we cannot allow this to happen because people who wanted to come from the past to control the present in order the rewrite history is challenging. not only the truth but it's challenging american values and american principles. it's not about miss gina haspel. she might be a great person. but it's about the united states and our principle. it's about the message that we are sending to the american people and to the people in the
intelligence community and in the law enforcement community that you know what, there is something called accountability. and you need to be held accountable. and we can't adjust for all these people who stood up against torture, who fought against torture in the cia. if you look at the cia inspector general report the very first page it talks about all then in and women who came from the black sites and complained to the inspector general about what they had seen. that's why he conducted the investigation. now, we are sending them a message that violate american values, you will be promoted. stand up for american values, you will be punished. >> ali suffan is a former fbi special agent, the author of several books. he is a producer on the looming tower. if you reason is seen the looming tower -- is it 12 episodes. >> ten. >> he is jumping from rooftops
arresting bad guys around the world. iran's supreme leader is publicly rebuking president trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement as more international reaction pours in. france, uk, germany, russia, china, european union, all parties to the 2015 deal are vowing to keep the deal intact. ali radi a ali arouzi, how is it in tehran. >> iran's leader chastised president trump this morning saying he can't do a damned thing. he described trump's speech as having over ten lies in it. he also said after trump is long gone and dead and his body has become food for worms and ants the islamic republic will be standing strong. he suggested the deal can be salvaged with europe's
participation. but ayatollah khomeini with whom the buck stops with poured cold water on that notion saying he doesn't trust the european countries as all. he said if there is no definitive guarantee, the jcpoa can't continue. ali, there was also fire and fury in iran's parliament today as parliament arians burnt a u.s. flag and a piece of paper representing the nuclear deal while chanting "death to america". a clear message from the heart of iran's parnlt that there isn't going to be any more dialogue with america. all this time that i have been working in iran american flag burning has been a common thing but i have never seen it burnt in the parliament. that was a pretty strong message coming out from iranian parliament arians.
the eu said that they are backing the deal as long as iran sticks to it. and today, the international atomic agency director said that iran is continuing to implement its nuclear commitments under the deal adding that iran is subject to the world's most rebust nuclear verification regime under the jcpoa which is a significant verification gain. it's very hard to argue that the nuclear program, the nuclear deal is not working when the head of the international atomic agency is saying it's working under some of the most strict conditions that they have imposed on any country since they have been doing this. so iran firing back, and the world community supporting them. but we will have to see how all this end. >> ali arouzi thanks for your help. it is a complicated matter which you make very understandable. back here, the white house
says it has found a date and a time for president trump to meet with north korean leader kim jong-un. earlier today the president said more details about that meeting will be announced in the next few days. >> mr. president, where is the sum going to take place? >> we are going to announce that within three days. >> within three days. >> we are working arrangements. >> will it be at the dmz? >> it will not be there. >> not at the dmz. the announcement comes as three now freed americans previously detained by north korea are on a night back to the united states accompanied by secretary of state mike pompeo. president trump praised the release tweeting quote three wonderful gentlemen are in good health and i will greet them at 2:00 a.m. at joint base andrews. let's take look at thatway know about the detainees and how they found themselves imprisoned in one of the most secretive and unpredictable countries in the worlds.
k kim dong-chul was arrested for spying and trying to subvert north korea. he is a former respects of virginia. in his 60s. next up, kim, he is 59. he was born in south korea before becoming a naturalized u.s. citizen. he was an accounting professor working at the pyongyang university of science did technologies. it's reported he made multiple humanitarian trips to north korea before being detained. finally, kim hak-song. he was eight also accused of hostile acts. we don't know much about him. some reports indicate he was born in china before becoming a u.s. stein. like tony kim, he has been associated with the pyongyang university of science and
technology, which claims he was doing agricultural work unrelated to the university itself. unfortunately, this act of diplomacy comes too late for some americans recently detained in north korea. otto warmbier was sentenced to hard labor in march of 2016 before being accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel while visiting pyongyang. little is known about warmbier's time in the hermit kingdom but when he was released his health situation was dire and he died just six days leader. mr. gomez was arrested after crossing the border from china into north korea. he was returned to the united states later that year. he suffered from severe post-traumatic dress disorder and died in november. joining us, hans hillary clinton oels. tell us what this looks like now. the president had sent mike pompeo there in one of his first
acts as secretary of state in theory to discuss the upcoming summit and he is coming back with these three detainees. it looks like the good will is continuing to grow between the united states and north korea. >> it's remarkable when you look back to what happened at the beginning of the year. the state of the union address when president trump invited the family of to otto warmbier to sit in the stands as the president rail against kim jong-un. even here the shift has been notable. they tended to say we will let the diplomats work this out and there was strong language were mattis. for the last weeks mattis has basically gone mute on the subject. we heard a little bit today talking about what he said was positive developments. in general, the capitol hill wants to strengthen the military so that the diplomats, namely secretary pompeo has the space to negotiate. i think the crucial thing here is to look at the conditions of those three detainees the
americans coming back. if it's similar to otto warmbier that's going to pollute and poison what has been positive momentum in the negotiations. >> hans nichols will continue to follow the fast developing story closely. we should be hearing in two or three days about where the location is for this meeting and when it's going to be happening. we will take a quick break. we'll be right back. but if that's not enough, we offer our price match guarantee too. and if that's not enough... we should move. our home team will help you every step of the way. still not enough? it's smaller than i'd like. we'll help you finance your dream home. it's perfect. oh, was this built on an ancient burial ground? okay... then we'll have her cleanse your house of evil spirits. we'll do anything, (spiritual chatter) seriously anything to help you get your home. ally. do it right.
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from now. kristen welker is in the room for us. kristen, we are expecting -- i mean there is a lot of thing to talk about today. the president would like it to be about north korea. reporters may have questions about have questions about iran or all the revelations of all of the money, more than $4.4 million paid to the president's lawyer, michael cohen. >> well, undoubtedly, ali. i do think north korea will be at the top of the list. the fact that the detainees are heading home with the secretary of state as we speak, expected to arrive overnight. that is a significant development for this administration, for president trump. he weighed in on that earlier today, said he'll be announcing the date and place of his summit with kim jong-un in three days. we'll try to drill down on some of the details with sarah sanders. what are the expectations? what are the terms going to be of those talks? and is releasing those detainees enough for the united states to now consider north korea an honest broker? also, of course, what is the physical status of those three men who are now headed back to the united states. as you point out, a lot of
questions swirling today about the president's personal attorney michael cohen. those payments, some $4.4 million that flowed through his company after october 2016. do they raise ethical questions? of course, michael avenatti, the attorney for stormy daniels, has said clearly this is an example of pay to play, that michael cohen was offering access to these large corporations. michael cohen firing back at those allegations. we'll see what the white house has to say about that when sarah sanders comes to the podium in just a few moments from now. ali? >> all right, we'll be back to you shortly thereafter. kristen welker at the white house for us. switching topics, that might come up as well. last night's primary rultsz are in and they appear to signal a moment of relief for the gop, at least in one state. state attorney general patrick morrissy defeated ex-coal executive don blankenship, an ex-con in the primary for
the u.s. senate. the republican party had a great
night. tremendous voter energy, all those who have a great chance of winning in november. the economy is so strong with nancy pelosi wanting to end the big tax cuts
and raise taxes, why wouldn't we win? for more let's bring in msnbc national correspondent steve kornacki. what did you learn last night? >> the headline as you said, republicans avoid what they thought, national republicans thought was the doomsday scenario. black enship is the republican nominee, they thought this seat would be good as gone in terms of being competitive. what they're trying to do, republicans in west virginia, unseat joe manchin, a did he have who represents a state donald trump won by 42 points. joe manchin faces in that sense a steeper challenge than any other democrat this year. he's running in the most pro-trump state of any senate democrat in 2018. so, republicans avoid blankenship. it is a little interesting when you look at jenkins versus morrissy, the top two, the other thing happening in this race we didn't talk about as much was democrats poured a lot of money
in trying to keep this guy, trying to keep evan jenkins from winning the primary. they achieved that. why were they trying to do that? this is where it gets kind of interesting. you look at the vote return. this is where jenkins was strong. this is the congressional district he represents. southern part of west virginia, coal country, a lot of rural territory in there. two things about this part of the state. number one, it went for donald trump by more than 70% in 2016. number two, joe manchin, the democrat who can win west virginia, he got 65% in this region when he ran in 2012. so, the thinking of democrats was jenkins because of his strength in this region, maybe he could peel -- these are swing voters in the west virginia election, torn between trump and manchin. they thought jenkins could peel him off. meanwhile morrissy who won statewide finished third in this part of the state, behind even blankenship. obviously democrats are in for a fight here, manchin is. between these two, democrats did get the candidate they put up
monday toy try to get. >> what's your take away vis-a-vis what president trump said, that it was a great successful night? >> you put that tweet up, he's going to claim victory here. here's the thing. the idea there was a blankenship surge, we were talking about this in the run up yesterday. there were two possibilities there. we had public polling that was dated, two weeks old. the public polling never showed blankenship in the game. a distant third. we had reports of internal polls and trump putting out that tweet. my guess looking at these results is i don't think there was much of a blankenship surge. i don't think trump or anybody really suppressed anything. i think you might have had these internal polls. the lesson here, we say it a lot. this really reinforces it, taken with a grain of salt especially when you have public polls, even if the public polls are dated like they were with this one. >> i feel sick after listening to you. thank you, steve. steve kornacki, nbc national political correspondent.
let's go to the white house. sarah sanders has begun the press briefing. >> as you all know, cia acting director gina haspel appeared before the senate intelligence committee today. she was introduced by two former members, democrat evan buy and republican sacks v. chambliss. they noted she is without question the most qualified person ever nominated for the position. mr. chambliss, a former vice chairman of the committee said he cannot name last time so many performance intelligence professionals agreed on a single nominee. and in her opening statement acting director haspel outlined what she is focused on to better position the cia for tactical and strategic success and to accomplish its mission. the acting director clearly demonstrated why the president selected her, her character, her experience, and her commitment to protecting the country. she is the right person to lead the cia and the senate should confirm her. because the president is traveling tomorrow and we won't
have a briefing, i'm going to take advantage of this opportunity to wish my daughter scarlet who will be 6 tomorrow a happy birthday. and with that i will take your questions. jeff. >> sarah, you mentioned the cia director nominee. gina haspel said today the president asked her to do anything, to restart the interrogation program that the cia was criticized for, that she would not do that. is that something the president would ever ask? >> i'm not aware of any request by the president to the past cia director or what we hope to be the new cia director very soon. >> may i ask you one more question, sarah, on a separate subject. following up on the iran announcement yesterday from the president, the europeans are working hard now to keep that deal alive despite the urgence being pulled out. can you say, will the white house ensure european companies who trade with iran will not suffer the sanctions that the united states is going to put back on?
>> the sanctions that were in place prior to the deal will go back into place. but for the specifics, i know there is a wind down period for specifics on any particular company. i would refer you to the department of treasury. >> sarah, the president today on twitter suggested stripping journalists of their press credentials. is that a line that as press secretary you would be willing to cross? >> i'm standing up in front of you right now taking your questions. i think a number of you have mentioned both off-air or on-air, in private and a number of occasions this is one of the most accessible white houses. we're very committed to a free press and i think that we demonstrate that every single day. not only by me being up here and taking your questions as i'm doing right now, the president did it just a couple of hours ago and has made multiple sets of remarks and will be in front of the press later tonight as well. >> how was the suggestion of taking american journalists' press credentials away advocating for a free press in this country?
those two do not go together. >> the fact that i'm standing here taking questions, the fact that the president took questions from your colleagues just two hours ago demonstrates this white house's commitment to accessibility and to providing information to the american public. at the same time, the press has a responsibility to put out accurate information. just yesterday "the new york times" accused the secretary of state for being awol when he was flying across the globe to bring three americans home. that is an outrageous claim. just earlier this week, the washington post accused the first lady of not living in the white house. that outrageous claim was again repeated in this room. we are here, we are taking questions. we are doing everything we can to provide regular and constant information to the american people, and there is a responsibility by you guys to provide accurate information. and we're going to continue to try to work with you as i'm doing right here right now and as the president did just a couple of hours ago. john. >> are we going to be able to --
we wouldn't be able to ask the questions you're here to answer without those. >> you are clearly sitting here asking right now. john. >> let me ask you this question, sarah. the confidential records of michael cohen's company were made at the prompting of the inspector general to launch an investigation into how that happened. but among the records were payments from at&t to a person very close to the president at a time when at&t was looking for government approval of a proposed merger with time warner. there were also payments of over a million dollars from novartis pharmaceuticals at a time the president was talking about doing something to bring down the cost of pharmaceuticals. is the president concerned about any aspect of what we've learned in the last 24 hours? >> as you know, due to the complications of the different components of this investigation, i would refer you to the president's outside special -- outside counsel to address those concerns. >> is the president concerned that major corporations were giving money to somebody very close to him at a time when they
had business before the federal government? >> i haven't heard the president express any specific concerns about that. >> sarah, do you believe that michael cohen was ever in any way qualified to buy insights into this administration? >> i'm not going to get into somebody else's qualifications. that's something an independent company that hires an individual would have to make that determination, not me. >> let me ask you this, because we know that michael cohen received millions of dollars apparently pedaling the insights he said he could provide into this administration, to america's largest corporations. is the president in any way embarrassed or ashamed of that? because it seems to be the definition of swampy behavior. >> i think that would be up to those individuals who make the decision to hire someone. just the same way that the companies that you work for make the decision to determine whether or not they think that you're qualified to serve in a position. that's the decision of an independent company and has nothing to do with the white house.