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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  April 3, 2017 11:00pm-11:31pm PDT

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let's get that straight. thank you for joining us. msnbc coverage continues into "the 11th hour" now, with brian williams. that's next. tonight new reporting on the trump team in russia. also, the man the team describes as almost untouchable in the white house. the author of that story joins us here tonight. the 11th hour begins now. good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york. here we are day 74 of the trump administration. and while somewhere in the west wing there is no doubt a
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strategy and an action plan for this week, including today, this week started like so many others have. the president took to twitter, starting at 6:15 a.m., repeated his grievance with the obama administration. he said he had been wiretapped by the former president, and relitigated the campaign against hillary clinton. this came after he sent his son-in-law to iraq with an official u.s. delegation. the business of the white house, that part, is busy right now. a senate confirmation vote for supreme court later this week. and just today the visit of egypt's authoritarian president. but let's start on twitter, as the president chose to. quote, such amazing reporting on unmasking and the crooked scheme against us by fox and friends. spied on before nomination. the real story. then, did hillary clinton ever apologize for receiving the answers to the debate? just asking. then later, fox news from multiple sources, there was electronic surveillance of trump, and people close to trump.
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this is unprecedented. tweeted that last bit to the fbi. and just a reminder. members of both houses and senate intelligence committees from both sides of the aisle say there is no evidence of this wiretapping. elsewhere on the russia front, nbc news confirming eric prince the founder of the private security firm blackwater of iraq war fame represented donald trump in a secret overseas meeting convened by the uae in early january. the "washington post" was first to publish the story alleging the meeting was with, quote, a russian close to president vladimir putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back channel line of communication between moscow and then president-elect donald trump. according to reports, eric prince gave a quarter of a million dollars to trump's campaign and pro trump super pacs. he was seen in the trump transition's new york offices in december and also happens to be the brother of the trump administration's education secretary betsy devos. one of our own sources confirmed
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"the washington post" version while a second cast doubt that's what the meeting was about. a senior administration official called the suggestion of a trump-putin back channel ridiculous. white house press secretary sean spicer told us late this even, quote, we are not aware of any meetings and eric prince had no role in the transition. we also learned late tonight that president trump spoke with vladimir putin in the wake of today's deadly subway explosion in st. petersburg. let's bring in our panel to kick off the night and the week. bobby gouache is here, former world editor for "time" magazine, now editor in chief of behind -- hindustan times. ashley parker who has a pair of human hands affixing a microphone and earpiece to her as we speak is by day a reporter for the "washington post." our thanks to ashley and the friendly technician who made it possible for her to hear us and to speak to us. and michael crowley, senior
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affairs correspondent for politico. see how cool he keeps it in that third box. always very cool. bobby, we welcome you back to thesstores. shores. yohave the only double life among us. you get to live over there and come back here. what is this story playing like over there? >> well, it's astonishing. the level of astonishment about the donald trump presidency, just simply keeps rising. >> where do you start? twitter or the russia ties or -- >> twitter, actually, the fact that you have a president who is speaking over the top of his entire administration directly to the american people, but speaking in this sort of really bizarre manner. it's sort of my newspaper every day either online or in the paper, we're covering this, because people are fascinated. this is the leader of the free world or so we would like to think. every tweet he tweets out matters. people pay close attention. >> ashley, and this is the life we have chosen. this has become baked into your
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life and your beat every day, that you get to witness, though they won't often always talk to you, white house whip sod, forced into action, as the news media are every time the president starts his day like this, no matter what the agenda for the week. >> yeah, that's absolutely true. we at the "washington post," we actually have a position called the hot seat where one of the duties basically involves waking up with donald trump's twitter account. because like his aides and like his senior advisers, we never know what he's going to say, but we always know it's going to be newsy. >> michael crowley, you get the toughest job of all. the michael flynn story kind of developed friday night and over the weekend. the carter page story developed kind of matured today. susan rice has been brought into this for unmasking, the first and only thing we want to say
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about unmasking is it doesn't mean leing. but have at one, two, or all three of those stories and how this narraves being focused. >> well, quickly, you know, i think republicans are excited to have susan rice as a voodoo doll again. of course they loved to trash her back during the days of what they called the benghazi scandal. and i think any excuse to get her name in the news, even if it's not going to change public opinion in the middle or on the left, she plays great in the chirons on fox news and right wing talk radio. the carter page story is fascinating. buzzfeed and abc news about the same time reported that carter page who donald trump himself said was an adviser of his campaign was the target of a recruitment effort by known russian spies who were in new york city who were wire tapped, who were recorded long before
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trump was a candidate. it has nothing to do with wiretapping trump. talking about carter page being an idiot that they were recruiting and trying to get information from. not quite sure how far that went. on the big picture, people are probably confused about the details of all this. it's hard to keep up. you know who loves that? vladimir putin. it's absolute chaos in washington and in this country right now. and putin loves that. it's destabilizing america. it's making our testimonisy look ridiculous. it's making our government weaker. and that is russia's core goal here. and it's going great for them. >> and bobby, we've had a former fbi director on this network say that in his opinion not enough attention has been paid to the point michael just made. this was not a single incident attack, or even one that took place over weeks or months. it's here. we're living in it. we have warring factions in our government, president versus media and then some. a greater split between the
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parties than ever before, and much confusion over what's happening to us and what to do about it. >> yeah, it's confusing from here, and it looks even more confusing from a distance. and it comes at a particularly bad time. the world needs leadership like it hasn't needed for much of my adult lifetime. you have serious problems, whether with climate, whether to do with syria, whether to do with china. the world needs the american president to be focused, to be taking charge of things. and at this particular moment, to find an administration so dysfunctional is very disturbing to a lot of people. now, i get a chance to travel to other places. i was recently in the middle east about a month ago in dubai. you had people from all over the middle east come for an event there. and everyone was scratching their heads. everybody was exchanging notes trying to figure out, do you know something about this administration that makes sense? can you put together a pattern that the rest of us can then identify and follow?
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the unpredictability of this, i think trump -- and maybe trump's supporters like that, they think that that's -- that that puts them at an advantage. but in the field of international diplomacy, unpredictabi is not a good thing most often. it leaves people guessing. it forces people to make decisions with incomplete facts. that is never a good thing. >> ashley, as is often michael's role in that third box he brought up another good point in that last conversation. and that was how this is playing where actual americans live. for us in the business, and along the places where amtrak stops in the acela corridor this is taking on a tumbleweed quality of an impossible subplot about russian ties 74 days into a young administration.
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it is on the outside when it's not your job to follow it, the detail is crushing. so we have these two tracks that will always perhaps be parallel. >> yeah, each when it is your job to follow it, the detail can kind of be crushing. but i think the thing is there is sort of this drip, drip, drip, and you don't know exactly you know, what the new meeting will be, and which new adviser will have met with a russian spy or a russian envoy. but it just feels like the trump administration cannot gain control of this narrative. as we mentioned, this is someone who likes to operate in chaos. it has often worked out for him. but the one thing that is really backfiring is a lot of these meetings have already happened and taken place and you can't sort of go back and undo the past. but they can't get ahold of the narrative and sort of just establish what's coming out. one thing that's interesting in the stories including some that the post has done is when you go to the white house they don't even have an awareness this is
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an issue sometimes until a newspaper or a television show brings this up to them, which is a real problem. >> michael, our control room has a full screen graphic of a conversation the ft -- the financial times, had with the president. another subplot here is we don't get access to him. occasional photo opes, twitter and then the occasional press conference. this was the most recent interview he granted. do you regret any of your tweets? >> i don't regret anything because there is nothing you can do about it. you know, if you issue hundreds of tweets and every once in while you have a clinker, that's not so bad. now my last tweet, you know the one you were talking about perhaps was the one about being in quotes wiretapped, meaning surveilled. guess what, it's turning out to be true. there you have it michael, all the explanations, all the evidence to the contrary saying you were wiretapped by your
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predecessor. he has found a way that he win, right or wrong. >> i mean, that's the trump style, brian. no retreat, no surrender. keep on asserting it. i think some portion of the public is going to believe it. again, i'm struck. this early presidency has been in a state of total chaos. he has been rebuked by courts. there have been some minor staff shake-ups. you know, the guy forgot to sign the executive orders. he had a press event about the other day. and he is still around 40% in the polls, custom is only a couple points lower than his electoral count, the percentage he got in the election. so his base is basically on board. and you know, people sometimes say could you see him getting impeached over this russia stuff? i don't see congressional republicans feeling intense pressure at this point because donald trump doubles down. they throw susan rice out there. and the conservative base loves it. and it's working for him. so that's life under trump.
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>> and bobby, that it seems to me a great question for you, given your role as a traveler. do you see this as sustainable? >> you have to think that they, somewhere soon, hopefully, that grown-ups will take over. the running of the gernment. particularly in foreign policy. e state department has got so many empty seats right now that folks are not clear who they are meant to call. if you are the foreign minister of indonesia, who are you supposed to call? that's not a sustainable situation. the united states is a great power and as i said at the top, the world needs the united states to be that great power. you can't do that when all these important positions in the state deputy are still empty and you have amateurs, freelancers, like jared kushner being asked to travel around the world as a shadow -- basically, shadowing tillerson, as a shadow secretary of state reporting directly to the president, speaking to
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his ear, apparently enjoying his trust. if you are the president of the philippines, how much are you supposed to make of jared kushner? the guy doesn't know a great deal about foreign policy. one part of you is saying okay this guy is the president's son-in-law. the president clearly listens to him, so this is a good conduit by which to pass on a message. but in diplomacy the conduit has to be somebody who understands all the issues so that the subtleties are appreciated and passed along. i don't know and nobody knows if jared kushner can do that. sooner or later professionals have to come in to take on the work that needs professional attention. >> eleanor roosevelt with her husband in wheelchair running world war ii used to go out and say in effectually be my husband's legs and his eyes and ears. a relationship not quite what you're describing there. bobby intends to share with us his list of the adults that are
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going to come forward. for all of us panel, we'll stay. coming up, we'll take a first break. after that, this week must be different for the president by design because he has meetings with three world leaders. plus, the son-in-law turned white house aide goes to baghdad. when "the 11th hour" continues.
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we agree on so many things. i just want to let everybody know icasehere was any doubt that we are very much behind president el sisi. he has done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. and i just want to say to you, mr. president, that you have a great friend and ally in the
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united states and in me. >> thank you very much. >> president donald trump in a seemingly normal oval office photo opportunity with a visiting world leader, the president of egypt, al sisi. he was the first foreign leader to call president trump and congratulate him on his 2016. victory. and this is his first trip to the white house. he was not invited by the obama administration because he led a military takeover to remove egypt's elected president. he oversaw a security operation that killed hundreds of protesters, and he filled the nation's prisons with his opponents. bobby, ashley, and michael remain with us. michael, the headline on our your piece on this subject reads in wart, "critics worry the president has a love for tyrants." and when you take it like that in the clear, it almost doesn't seem real. >> no, it's very strange, brian.
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but this is a clear repeatedly demonstrated predilection shall we say trump has had going back to the campaign and even earlier. he has spoken approvingly of the chinese crackdown of the 1990 tiananmen square protests. he said it was a horrible thing the chinese did but they showed great strength they were very strong. it was clear he was very impressed by it. we know how he feels about vladimir putin. at one point his line was at at least he is running his country. he is a real leader, though maybe he has done some things some people criticize him for. in the case of sisi, he said the same thing. he said sisi really took control of his country. he really took control of egypt. yes, with an unprecedented human rights crackdown, which in egypt is really saying something. it is not a country with a rosie human rights record. now here's a guy who was not welcome at the obama white house. trump is embracing him.
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they didn't talk about human rights with this visit. he doesn't seem to care about these issues and that is a historic change in the administration. >> bobby, a lot of americans followed very closely the arab spring. we saw the mixture of joy and brutality on live television. and then their attention still piqued on egypt. they remember elements like the muslim brotherhood. but then the world got confusing. bring us up to date. and who is this guy? >> he's a pretty common or garden variety geral sort of in the spectrum of arab tyrants. very much in the middle of that spectrum. he is a -- he is highly behold to saudi arabia, which underwrites the egyptian economy. if trump is going to embrace a tyrant, and this is not the first time an american president will have for strictly sort of
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in the pursuit of what people thought were america's best interests, embraced a tyrant. but if you are going to embrace a tyrant, why sisi? egypt is no longer the pivot around which the middle east turns. egypt is a back water at this point, and sisi is at this point sort of a low voltage dictator. he is cruel. he is tyrannical with his own people. but he is not a game changer in the middle east. this coddling of this dictator is not going to push the agenda. it's not going help any of america's interests in the middle east. it's hard to see why -- the only thing, as michael points out, the only thing that might have brought sisi to trump's attention is that he is a tyrant, and trump seems to like that kind of thing. >> ashley, meantime, this coming weekend at mar-a-lago in florida dinner guests can expect to see the leader of china, a two-day kind of floridian summit.
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i was surprised to read tonight the head of planning for that event, getting the president in the game and prepped, is jared kushner. the 36-year-old son-in-law who today was in baghdad. you have written about him tonight. kushner has a singular and almost untouchable role in trump's white house. what do we need to know about jared kushner? >> well a couple of things. first of all, jared kushner's portfolio is sort of constantly, you know, expanding and ballooning at almost comical speeds. and he has taken on all these roles. but i will say the first role that we realized jared kushner was taking on, even during the campaign, during the transition, and certainly now in the white house, was that of sort of shadow secretary of state. he was the person when you would talk to ambassadors in d.c., and diplomats. he was the administration's point person for sort of several dozen prime ministers,
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presidents, leaders of foreign nations who wanted to get a message to donald trump. so he has no real foreign policy experience other than sort of what he has picked up on the fly. but that is a role he has been playing for a while. and as we're seeing, is playing in iraq and will play at the summit this weekend. that's his first role. there's many more. >> michael, resume wise, went to harvard. obviously he is married to the daughter of the president of united states. he has experience in new york real estate, family firm which he moved up in in prominence when his father was in federal prison. but he certainly has managerial and financial experience there. but now has, as ashley was saying, this extraordinary portfolio. imagine in addition to all those other duties, and reimagining ways that american business -- he is reimagining ways the veteran's department can operate. oh, by the way, prep up the boss for the summit with china's
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leader by the weekend? >> yeah, brian it is like a monte python sketch. we have hardly touched on the fact he was going to do middle east peace. that's been forgotten, he is reinventing the government, setting up the summit with the chinese leader, going to iraq. i mean, it really is a kind of parody. he has no foreign policy experience that i'm aware of, perhaps doing some overseas business deals would qualify. that's not nothing. that does tell you something about how the world works. i'm not sure how much he really did travel around the world for business matters. and you know, it's just -- it's just a dramatic break from the way things have been done in this country. and, you know, it's a dynastic, it's what you see in countries that have dynastic politics. >> the ruling family. >> the ruling family, and you just need to know the son who has the straight line to the father and it doesn't really matter. all the father cares about is
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that he trusts the son completely and that the son has got his back. it doesn't matter if the son knows the difference between realism and idealism and neo cons and interventionists and knows anything about international law. so it's incredibly demoralizing to professional diplomat, to people at the state department. i think you could make the case it's actually quite dangerous. maybe we will be surprised by the way this turns out. i have to say it's very unprecedented and i think there is reason to be concerned about it. >> it's also a very special place where over 4,000 americans lost their lives. because you flew the furthest to be here, 15 seconds before a break. >> well, it's the first -- it's the one place where he might actually make sense. the arab world is the one place where the absence of qualifications other than being related to the president might actually move the needle. he might be taken serious there because the place is full of people like him who have no qualifications but are the son or son-in-law of somebody. i know we're making light of it.
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but that's the only way we can deal with this. this is just that crazy. >> i think that's an upswing we can end this segment on. to our panel, bobby gouache, ashley parker, and michael crowley, thank you all very much for being on our broadcast again tonight. coming up, the senate poised to go nuclear as democrats plan to filibuster the supreme court nomination of judge gorsuch. i'll speak with a member of the senate judiciary committee when "the 11th hour" continues on a monday night. does your makeup remover take it all off? every kiss-proof, cry-proof, stay-proof look? neutrogena® makeup remover does. it erases 99% of your most stubborn makeup with one towelette. need any more proof than that? neutrogena.
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