tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC February 14, 2017 11:00pm-11:31pm PST
o'donnell. "the 11 hour" with brian williams is next. and good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york. for all the talk of fake news, it was real news reported by real journalists that led to the takedown of one of the president's closest aides. and the real news may get worse yet for this new administration still in its first month in office. mike flynn, the national security adviser, resigned almost exactly 24 hours ago. the central issue behind all of
this, however crazy this once sounded, is this. how much influence have russia and vladimir putin had on our country, on our presidential election and in the trump white house? and how far up does it reach? the fbi has a large and sweeping investigation underway. there will be investigations and hearings in congress, and today with a straight face, white house press secretary sean spicer said donald trump has been tough on russia. it was laughable because donald trump has grabbed every opportunity to speak so warmly, so glowingly about vladimir putin and russia. virtually no one else in american public life speaks warmly and glowingly about vladimir putin. between investigators and journalists aided by an unprecedented flurry of weaponized leaks, there is a lot more to come to light. just tonight the "new york
times" reported several trump aides had repeated contacts with russian intelligence in the year run-up before the election. they cite electronic intercepts. just today a question along those same lines was asked of sean spicer at the briefing. >> back in january, the president said that nobody in his campaign had been in touch with the russians. now, today, can you still say definitively that nobody on the trump campaign, not even general flynn, had any contact with the russians before the election? >> my understanding is that what general flynn has now expressed is that during the transition period -- well, we were very clear that during the transition period he did speak with the ambassador -- >>'m talking about during the campaign. >> there is nothing that would conclude to me that anything has changed with respect to that time period. >> a quick timeline with how we got here. december 29, the obama administration reveals new sanctions on russia. december 30. putin says russia will not retaliate.
that same time, that same day this tweet from then president-elect trump. great move on delay by vladimir putin. i always knew he was very smart. sometime after december 30th, communications between flynn and russia's ambassador are intercepted by u.s. intelligence officials. the white house is warned about flynn by the department of justice on january 26th of this year, and thanks to sean spicer, we know the president found out the same day. >> immediately after the department of justice notified the white house counsel of the situation, the white house counsel briefed the president and a small group of his senior advisers. >> from that date on, the question is, how long did it take for the erosion of trust to occur that led to flynn's resignation? that was the reason given today. on january 28th, michael flynn was in the room when the president called russian president vladimir putin. michael flynn came into the white house briefing room and
communicated for the administration to another nation state. >> iran is now feeling emboldened. as of today we are officially putting iran on notice. thank you. >> then just this past weekend, michael flynn was there as the president and japanese prime minister shinzo abe discussed what they would do to respond to a ballistic missile test by north korea. that was just 72 hours ago. so when did the erosion of trust between the president and michael flynn occur? let's bring out our panel members tonight, former chief of staff at the cia and the pentagon, jeremy bash is with us this evening. nbc's katy tur who covered the entire trump campaign from the start, and radio personality charlie sykes. good evening to you all. i'm going to begin with you, jeremy. to believe this story, any of it, all of it, you have to believe that flynn called the russian ambassador and said, in effect, when these new measures
come out, don't worry, we're going to have your back. and further, you have to believe that he was either acting on his own or with tacit approval. do we have that right? >> we have a united states that is completely at odds with anything we've seen in foreign relations, and that is a total u.s. capitulation to all of russia's natives. the second bit of context, brian, is that we have under way at this hour, not past tense but present tense, at this hour a russian operation to influence u.s. policy to do what i just described, to force america to do things it wouldn't ordinarily do. that intelligence operation is under way.
they were trying to get to the national security apparatus, including the national security adviser, and it worked. that's the whole thing. it worked in this case. our policy changed and they attempted to change it and it worked. and so -- that is the big question looming over all of this, which is why. what is it that caused our national security adviser and our president to do these things that are so completely at odds with american interests, and now tonight we have one of the missing pieces of the puzzle, which is possible cooperation discussion between the trump campaign and the russian government at the very time the russian government was trying to influence the campaign to favor donald trump. >> and jeremy malcolm nance was
on veteran intelligence officer, veteran of the nsa, among other agencies. he was on in the previous hour, and what he had to say was kind of bloodcurdling. he said, once the full collection power of the nsa has been turned on you electronically, he said it's time for people in the administration to start lawyering up. >> i did hear that. i think these investigations are going to loom over this administration. and i want to remind our viewers, it's not investigations by democrats. these are investigations by career professionals at the fbi, and secondly, by republican-led congressional committees, both the senate intelligence committee and the house intelligence committee. so these investigations will have to proceed, and i think the question really for the congress tonight and for the american
people is, will those suffice or do we need a joint inquiry, a select committee or even an independent review? >> katy tur, before we swing over to you, i want to run what is now a critical bit of on-the-fly interview in the doorway of air force one, a doorway that separates a conference room and the cockpit where the president and first lady were. the president and first lady were on their way to mar-a-lago in midair and this question came up. >> general flynn had conversations with the russians before you were sworn in? >> i don't know. i haven't seen it. what report is that? >> they were reporting that you talk to the ambassador of russia before you were inaugerated about sanctions. >> i'll look at that. >> katy tur, what did people think when you were in the midst of covering the only campaign for president in our modern history that had russia as such a kind of sympathetic element? >> what did people or the general public think or trump supporters?
>> people in the press corps. >> people in the press corps. it was remarkable. it began early on, and it came in through waves. there was the moment, not last december but the december before, where he was speaking glowingly about putin because he felt putin had complimented him, called him a genius. people were trying to point out the things that putin was involved in and then he spoke only about him and said, no, maybe he doesn't kill journalists. that was a moment. then there was the press conference where he called for russia to find hillary clinton's 33,000 missing or deleted e-mails. that was a jaw-dropping moment, quite obviously. and they kept coming and going, but there was such a fire hose of controversy to this campaign. this was just one of many. it seemed like one that wasn't going away, especially since so
many of his aides seemed to have ties to russia in one way or another. paul manafort being one. it didn't make sense for donald trump to continue to be so cozy. nobody could quite figure out why he was doing so. and the campaign and the transition in the white house has never given an explanation that goes beyond, we think we need to reset relations. >> charlie, listen to tom freedman, one line from his column that went up tonight. "we need to know whom trump owes and who might own him and we need to know it now." how serious is all of this in your view one month into this administration? >> it's extraordinarily serious, because nothing adds up. as katy was saying, this whole love affair doesn't add up, this explanation for firing the general doesn't add up. so who made the decision not to tell mike pence? why did they sit on all of this? if, in fact, he had done and said nothing that was inappropriate, why, then, did he feel it necessary to lie to mike pence? if, in fact, he was executing exactly what the policy would be?
the cover story doesn't add up, this whole story and this relationship doesn't. here's the distinction. this is not just a matter of a scandal of somebody having an affair or something like that. this goes fundamentally to the foreign policy of the country. and i think that republicans on capitol hill need to look at this and ask themselves, do they actually want to investigate this, or do they want to appear that, in fact, they are slow walking and covering up something that may have fundamental significant to the country. >> katy, we learned today that vice president mike pence didn't learn until thursday, but other people knew. sean spicer said the white house concluded when this was briefed to them it wasn't a legal issue, and he said the president was proved instinctively correct. >> that it was a trust issue is what they're trying to make this out to be. i was speaking tonight with a senior white house source, and i
asked that person why the world vice president pence wasn't told about this sooner. and the source said it was attorney-client privilege. don mcgann only told the president because that's who he is sworn to, and the president didn't tell vp pence because this was a very close hold, because they were still investigating exactly what happened. there are a lot of questions surrounding that, though, because mike pence went on national television and vouched for general mike flynn, said he did not talk sanctions. there's also a lot of questions surrounding how in the world general flynn could forget about talking sanctions when there is a lot of questions about how much of the conversation, at least one, that he had with the russian ambassador was dedicated to talking sanctions. it's not something you forget, it is a breach of protocol. even this white house official told me this was something that they cannot understand why flynn would mislead the administration
about it, they cannot understand why it went on for so long. >> hey, jeremy, your former boss, leon panetta, who is not given to hyperbole, said something today that really got the attention of a lot of people. quote, i've never been so nervous in my lifetime about what may or may not happen in washington. i don't know whether this white house is capable of responding in a thoughtful or careful way should a crisis erupt. you can do hit and miss stuff over a period of time, but at some point i don't give a damn what your particular sense of change is about, you can't afford to have change become chaos. >> i talked to him and that is a mild way of how he is feeling. leon and carla panetta made their way from ellis island, raised their children.
he worked for nixon and came to congress as a democrat or for bill clinton as a white house chief of staff and budget director and then served as secretary of defense. this is a person who has dedicated his life to national security and bipartisanship, i should say. he believes that vet fabric of our government is tearing apart. the ability to protect our country is tearing apart, the ability for washington to function properly is tearing apart, and i think he's very, very worried about the tone being set by this administration and particularly about the deceit that is coming forward from the white house about this and other issues. >> a little bit of housekeeping there. we just showed a photo of former president trump sounding a lot different than candidate trump whenon it comes to leaks, we heard from katy, when "the 11th hour" continues.
the michael flynn resignation story is not about michael flynn or russia. president trump posted on twitter, the real story is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of washington? will these leaks be considered ideal with north korea, et cetera. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> and all you have to do is take a look at wikileaks.
>> this just came out. this just came out. wikileaks, i love wikileaks. amazing how nothing is secret today when you talk about the internet. >> we love wikileaks. boy, they have really -- wikileaks. they have revealed a lot. >> that came out on wikileaks. >> we're back with our panel, jeremy, katy and charlie. jeremy, you and i haven't been around forever but we've been around long enough to be, i think, stunned as the weaponized nature of these leaks, the number of these leaks and where we can surmise they're coming from in the organization. not to impune any of your friends, but perhaps some of them from people you know, people who are in your contacts. some are motivated by patriotism, some by revengreveng it's not nice to take on career civil servants, and when they feel the home team is on fire or in danger, they will get it out through journalists. >> i don't know, brian. it's hard to speculate. i certainly wouldn't speculate that it's any people i know or people i've worked with. but look, i think there is a
broader issue here which is under normal circumstances, you're very concerned about leaks because they reveal intelligence sources and methods. you're less worried about them when they reveal sort of the overall conclusion or what people are looking at or investigating. and so i do take leaks seriously when they reveal sources and methods, but i think in this case, brian, we have a situation where the discussion in the press is really about what investigators are looking at, what the fbi has been probing, not how they've been probing it or how they've been collecting their information per se, except for some generalitiesgeneralitie important to note that without this coming forward, michael flynn would be in the white house without risk. what's worse? >> people in actual america are waiting for economics and jobs to come through.
in the interim, here is what we have to discuss on national media. have you ever seen a situation like this inside any white house, republican or democrat? >> no, because nobody ever has. what do they say about karma, karma is something or other? >> i can't repeat it. >> the president actually has a point when he talks about the flood of leaks. you actually have the intelligence community in this country in open resurrection of this president. there are fundamental issues here, but what we are seeing is also unprecedented. maybe it happened under nixon. but there is a flood of leaks. and this, by the way, it is like one shot across the bow after another to the whi house. we know what you did last summer, click. we know everything, and it's a drip, drip, drip. and you wonder how this is playing when they realize they've reached the end of spin, that the people who have this
information are not going to be intimidated by tweets. they're not going to back off, and they have -- who knows. they appear to be showing their hand that they have everything. >> katy, at a simple time when reagan was president and you weren't born -- >> i was born, excuse me. >> -- i had it up to my keester with leaks, and that was supposed to be shocking. we also have in this white house four or five different centers of power and that hasn't worked itself. >> there are so many centers of power. if you heard it told, there's the priebus-sean spicer-katie walsh faction, and there is kellyanne conway faction, and they're all working to take down the other and fight for the year of donald trump. not to mention the white house staffers who don't really have an allegiance and who are there just witnessing this for the first time. there is a lot of folks out there who are -- who have their own self-interests at play who also want to protect the west
wing in the way they believe the west wing should behave. i want to say something, though. it seems like when you talk about donald trump in leaks and talk about donald trump in coverage, everything is fine so long as it is favorable to him, period. and when it's not, then they are the opposition, they're the enemy. i found it interesting today that sean spicer kept bringing up charles krauthamer as a defense for the administration. when charles krauthamer was number one enemy for donald trump early on. when i brought him up and said what he called donald trump, called him a rodeo clown. he said, why would this guy say that about me when he can't even buy a pair of pants? >> thanks to our panel, thanks to our guests, jeremy bash, katy tur, charlie sykes. we'll have you all back in short order. coming back after the next break, the white house argues that the president is tough on russia. that's next when we continue.
the irony of this entire situation is that the president has been incredibly tough on russia. >> last thing before we go tonight, that remark we thought deserved another mention. sean spicer at today's press briefing. the president has been incredibly tough on russia. we have for you now a look at some of the president's past
comments about russia's leader. >> i've always felt, you know, fine about putin. i think that he is a strong leader, he's a powerful leader. >> i think i would have a very, very good relationship with putin, and i think i would have a very, very good relationship with russia. >> he's also a guy who annexed crimea, invaded ukraine, supports assad in syria, supports iran, is tryingo undeine ouinuence in key regions of the world, and according to our intelligence community, probably is the main suspect for the hacking of the dnc computers. >> nobody knows that for a fact, but do you want me to start naming some of the things that president obama does at the same time? >> but do you want to be complemented by that former kgb officer? >> i think when he calls me brilliant, i'll take the compliment. >> putin is a killer. >> we have a lot of killers. do you think our country is so innocent?
>> given those on the record comments from the president, it's a fair guess that many in the briefing room wanted to ask sean spicer a follow-up on that point today. cnn's jim acosta was the first one to get a chance. >> you said earlier in your comments that the president has been incredibly tough on russia. how is that possible? he has made comment after comment over the course of the campaign, the transition, where he defended vladimir putin. >> with respect to russia, i think the comments that ambassador hailey made at the u.n. were extremely forceful and very clear that until they -- >> that's hailey, not the president. >> she speaks for the president, i speak for the president. all of this administration, all the actions, all the words in this administration are on behalf of this president. i don't think we can be any clearer on the president's commitment. >> they all speak for the president except when they don't. remember what candidate trump wrote on twitter last may. don't believe the biased and
phony media quoting people who work for my campaign. the only quote that matters is a quote from me. there's so much more but so little time. that does it for this edition of our broadcast. "hardball" begins right now. how deep does this go? let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews. today nbc reported that president trump failed to tell vice president mike pence that despite all the white house denials, national security adviser mike flynn did, in fact, speak with the russian ambassador about those sanctions that obama slapped on russia for interfering with our elections. for two weeks the vice president thought he was right when he told the country that flynn