tv MSNBC Live MSNBC April 25, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
that wraps up this hour of msnbc live. i'm chris jansing. tat katy tur joins us now. stonewalled. it should have been a week focused on the president's accomplishments as we approach the 100-day mark, but once again we're back to the russia investigation. the white house denied a request from the house oversight committee to hand over documents about michael flynn's foreign dealings. now the committee's top dogs want answers. >> the reality is i just don't think there are any documents because general flynn was required to proactively ask permission prior to engaging with russia and turkey, not only was he supposed to ask for permission, he was supposed to get permission. and he didn't. >> you think, congressman, this could be punishment with imprisonment? >> definitely. that's why i cited the code. that's going to be left up to
others to decide. >> no doubt this would be a big issue for white house press secretary sean spicer to address when he kicks off today's daily briefing at any moment. also this hour, chilly reception. first daughter ivanka gets a firsthand look at diplomacy and what people in other parts of the world think of her dad. president trump. >> i'm a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive. >> translator: you hear the reaction from the audience. also this hour, a preview of our own hallie jackson's exclusive interview with ivanka trump. but as we await sean spicer's walk out of the white house, let's bring in our panel. kristen welker is at the white house. kristen, talk to me a little bit about why the white house is denying the request for the documents that the house oversight committee has asked for? >> reporter: two reasons, katy. first of all, they say that they don't have a number of the documents that the oversight committee is asking for. they say that michael flynn's security clearance was conducted during the obama administration, and so those are documents that
they do not have. they referred that request to dod. they also say that any documentation that they do have related to conversations that michael flynn may or may not have had with foreign entities is too broad. they say that he spoke with a number of officials in foreign governments on a daily basis, and so they say in order to provide specific documents, they need a specific request. so that is the push-back from the white house, and very vigorously deny there is any attempt at stonewalling. i press one of the representatives based on what we've learned today that michael fln ma have failed to comply with the w, as you heard congressmen chaffetz and cummings say. this official said, look, there is a proes und ecess under way e
not going to get ahead of the process, but insisting that at the end of the investigation it will be clear that there was no attempt at collaboration or coordination between trump campaign officials and russian officials. but you said it , katy, this is going to dominate this briefing which is set to begin moments from now. this just days from president trump's marking 100 days in office. this is the last headline they want to be dealing with. this is a week aimed at touting what they perceived to be president trump's top accomplishments, things like getting neil gorsuch on the supreme court, scaling back a number of obama-era regulations. this is undoubtedly clouding the messaging they were hoping for today. >> kristen welker seeming to appear out of thin air. kristen, listen to kasie hunt who spoke with congressman chaffetz earlier today. >> this goes back to a prior year of donald trump ever becoming president. it is not as if if the white house isn't responding. there just aren't documents. that's the problem. he was supposed to seek and obtain permission prior, and it
doesn't appear as if he did. >> you're saying there are no documents because michael flynn didn't handle this correctly. >> correct. that's what the law requires. >> so, basically chaffetz is laying the blame squarely on michael flynn saying that there aren't documents because general flynn did not produce those documents. ultimately though, isn't the white house going to get blame one way or the other? th, after all, were the ones that should have done background vetting of their own advisors, made sure they weren't going to get into a position later on that it comes out that one may have been lying to them. i mean this is public record, his dealings with the turkish government, and also his dinner that he had with vladimir putin. >> two points, katy, and i think you are absolutely right. one, you will hear the white house likely echo what you just heard from congressman chaffetz, that, look, this is up to michael flynn to provide these documents. and, quite frankly, to seek permission to have some of these
conversations and to receive payments from foreign government entities. at the same time, you are absolutely right, there is a vetting process that needs to happen. whether it is a campaign or transition. and certainly once you get to the level of having a white house. so there are among the top questions that sean spicer will undoubtedly get, katy. i think we just got a two-minute warning, so this is going to get under way just moments from now. >> we did indeed just get a two-minute warning. kristen welker, thank you. we're going to try to skis in senator mazie -- first, i'm sorry if we have to cut you off because sean spicer might come out. the question right now, the white house is saying they aren't trying to stonewall any investigation, that they just don't have the documents. do you believe that there could be truth to that? >> it is hard to say. they either have the documents or they don't. but in any event, i should think that they should have made the appropriate inquiry so that this kind of information they would have. because anybody who's part of the administration that does not
disclose this kind of pertinent information for one thing should have been disclosed or they should have gotten it out of flynn. >> senator, the judiciary committee which you sit on a subcommittee of the committee, is going to be calling in sally yates, former deputy doj deputy director there. what are you hoping that your colleagues are going to get out of her? >> well, i'm glad that we're going ahead with her, as well as i believe james clapper. they're going to be testifying under oath as to what they knew about various investigations. and it is high time that we get to the bottom of the russian connections, russian efforts and the trump team's connections to the russian efforts to undermine our democracy. i've been calling for an independent investigation for months now. we need to get on with it, because the public is finding out about these connections through drips and drabs an leaks and twitter. that is no way for the public to find out, really, what's going on. >> senator mazie hirono of
hawaii, thank you for joining us. let's try to quickly bring in -- no, not going to bring him in. sean spicer's just walked out. he hastiming, this guy. >> -- by having the secretary of commerce discuss some action that the commerce department took last night with respect to canadian soft wood lumber. it is an action that talks about what we're doing to make sure that we're fighting for our industries here at home. without further ado, secretary wilbur ross. >> thank you, sean. the action we took last night is actually the culmination of a couple of decades of disputes between the united states and canada. what's provoked the disputes is the following. in ka dcanada, the forests are d by the individual provinces, and each of the provinces sets a charge for the loggers to use when they're taking trees down.
in the u.s., it is all open market. it's all market face prices. so the provinces subsidize the cutting down of lumber, this technical term being stumpage. then that lets them charge a subsidized low price when the product hits the u.s. border. we have determined preliminarily that those problems, while they vary from one province to another, in some cases are as high as roughly 25%, and on average, are around 20%. so they're quite material items. so what -- the preliminary decision that was put out yesterday imposes those counterveiling duties on soft wood lumber from canada. those duties will be collected starting today, and they will be
collected on retroactive basis going back 90 days. because it was 90 days ago that the kcanadians were put on notie of this being an inappropriate process. what it amounts to is the following. there is roughly $15 billion worth of hard wood -- soft wood lumber uses in houses in this country, and about 31% of that comes from the canadians. so that's roughly $5 billion a year. 20% tariff on that is essentially $1 billion a year. and the retrospective 90-day feature adds another $250 million to that on a one-time basis. soft wood lumber, as i say, is
fundamentally used in single-family houses. we do no think that the price of lumber will go up anything like the 20%, but there may be some small increase in the price of lumber for the house. >> so will housing priced be increased in the united states due to that action? >> not necessarily, because you are talking such a small amount. and the biggest part, the most home price, in any event, is the land value, not the lumber value. lumber is a pretty small percentage of the total cost of a house. >> secretary, what provoked this? as you mentioned, this has been a long-running dispute, subject to conversations between the u.s. and canadian governments, bush administration and obama administration. is this part of the milk dispute and is this a lever or bargaining chip with the canadian government over that dispute that's going on as well? >> this investigation had been under way before anything came
up about milk. and on a statutory basis, the last day we could have released the findings would have been today. so the only thing that we did do was accelerate it one day. >> it's not related at all to the milk dispute. do you see it as factoring in the canadian judgments about how to respond or how to resolve some of these other trade disputes? >> well, everything relates to everything else when you are trying to negotiate. so i can't say there's no impact. but what we have tried to do was to clean the air and get this dispute out of the way before the big nafta talks went on. that was not possible to achieve, and that's why we went ahead and released the findings. >> canada. [ inaudible [ snc ] are you comfortable with how this has worked out in terms of
the relationships betweenhe two companies? >> they're an impornt ally. they're generally a good neighbor. that doesn't mean they have to play by the rules. >> what do you mean, generally a good neighbor? >> well, things like this i don't regard as being a good neighbor, dumping lumber. and there is a feeling in the dairy industry that they're a little bit abrupt in the action that they took the week before. >> the canadian government said those are only fair tariffs and each time the case was brought to an international court. canada won its case. what are you answering to this? >> i had nothing to do with the prior cases. i'm confident that this case is a good case. the problem with dairy isn't that they're dumping dairy products in the u.s. the problem is the reverse, they're prohibiting u.s. dairy producers from selling their products in canada, as a practical matter. and we're looking into whether
there are measures we can do to try to correct that. >> have you heard from anybody in the canadian government or has the prime minister reached out to president trump to try to convince you that -- to change your policy or change the approach or work with you in any way? >> well, i haven't heard of anybody trying to ask us to change the approach. you've seen the public statements that the canadians put out. as far as i know, that is their position. >> i'm curious whether this soft wood lumber dispute or the milk dispute poin to the need to revisit, to renegotiate nafta sooner rather than later? >> well, i think it does. because think about it, if nafta were functioning properly, you wouldn't be having these kinds of very prickly, very unfortunate developments back-to-back. so in that sense it those shah nafta has not worked as well as it should. >> -- this particular -- >> that's one of the problems.
>> mr. secretary, why not try to resolve this in a not-so-public fashion? you're coming out in the briefing room, you're obviously trying to flex your muscles of this administration. what would you say to the layman out there who says why is president trump messing with the canadians now? >> not a question of president trump messing with the canadians. we believe the canadians violated legitimate practice. and to the degree we're correct in that, it should be corrected. just like steel dumping from china, or any other trade infraction. >> you're trying to make a point. publicly. >> we make it publicly all the time. it is just that there has been so much general public interest engendered by the two things, the dairy and the lumber, that we felt it was good to clarify. >> during the presidential campaign, people following then-candidate trump would assume his singular focus would be on mexico in terms of trade.
all of a sudden now we're hearing all these items related to canada. can you tell us why the focus seems to have sfted to up north? >> well, we had no way to know that the canadian dairy people would take the action that they did, nor did we have any way to know that the lumber dispute wouldn't have been resolved by negotiation. we tried. it didn't work. and so we went ahead with the statutory proceeding. >> are you seeking any additional trade action against canada? >> i'm sorry? >> is the administration contemplating additional trade action against canada? >> as far as i know, there's nothing immediate contemplated. >> secretary ross, when i talk to experts about this, they say the substance of what you did is very routine, like this has been done before, this preliminary counterveiling duties. but they say with a was really irregular was the way that you communicated it. is this something that you're trying to sort of do as a bit of a pr thing to give putin and
nafta notice? how would you interpret your statement? >> well, it is not routine in that $1 billion of counterveiling duties does not happen every single day. this is a quite large -- >> it's happened before. it's not unprecedented. >> well, we made the release the way that we made the release. >> why did you make it that way? >> it seemed appropriate under the circumstances. yes. >> mr. secretary, thank you, sir. in india and america both were -- america the largest trading partier of india, or india largest trade being partner under prime minister mowdmow under prime minister modi. so what is the future of the play between u.s. and india, sir? >> well, u.s. does not have a free trade agreement with india
at this point, so the trade relations between u.s. and india are governed by the wto rules. there's nothing in the actions we've taken that changes that. >> mr. secretary, following up on what jim said though, if housing prices do increase due to this, what do you tell average consumer in the united states if the prices are going up? they didn't bargain for that. >> well, i don't know what they bargained for, but i'm sure what nobody in the united states bargained for was people dumping product. it's no different whether you dump steel or aluminum or cars or lumber or anything else. nobody has -- >> you use the term counterveiling and antidumping. technically they're two different things. which is it? dumping or counterveiling? >> this is counterveiling duties. >> could you give us a timeline of when the president may
renegotiate nafta and could this compromise getting a good deal? >> well, we put congress on notice two weeks ago of our intention to renegotiate nafta. what's been stalled is getti the trade promoti authority, the so-called fast track authority, approved by the congress. now with lob leitheiser having been confirmed out of the committee today and hopefully coming to the senate for a full vote very shortly, that should cure one of the objections that some of the senators had, namely they were concerned about formally re-opening nafta in the absence of the u.s. trade rep being confirmed. now the catch-22 to that was they were also slow-walking the conif i recallation. so it w the confirmation so it was a little bit of a circular thing. that appears to be in the process of being corrected. >> would this complicate your
ability to get a deal? >> everything complicates everything else. but this trade issue over lumber, as has been pointed out, is not a brand-new issue. it's been around for quite a while. >> mr. secretary, the meeting -- the next upcoming meeting of the g7 is about a month away. the u.s. is in the middle of talks with klein about how to address north korea. are you comfortable that the north korea calculus has not hamstrung your ability to be as direct with china on matters like this, and is the action with canada meant also to signal to our other western economic allies and partners that if they mess with the u.s., they could face something like this. >> as to canada, as you know, at the mar-a-lago meetings we agreed on kind of a 100-day program, and we're going back and forth with the deal.
with the relation to dairy or lumber with canada, has no bearing on the chinese relationship as all. >> seems to me the object of the 25% tariff on soft lumber coming out of canada is not to raise wood prices, it is to save and create american forestry jobs and loggers who are losing their jobs right now as a result of the dumping. has the administration done a study to know how many american jobs are going to be saved by this tariff? >> well, it's quite a lot of board feet of lumber. lumber sells for about 38 cents per foot. so if you take all these large amounts, there are about 37 billion board feet of lumber consumed in the u.s. market in a
given year. part of the reason i don't see that there will be a huge price differential coming in is this only affects 31.5% of that output. the competition among the american producers remains the same. so this is not like suddenly house prices are going to go up 10% or 15%. that's silly. >> how many jobs -- >> pardon me? >> how many new jobs will be created or jobs will be saved as a result of stopping the -- >> i don't have an exact total. but i can tell you, it is in quite a few states along the northern perimeter, going all the way down into louisiana. so this affects quite a number of people and quite a number of businesses. >> do you expect bipartisan support at the very least on the actions of soft wood lumber,
bipartisan support on whatever action you take on behalf of the dairy industry as well. you appear to be laying the groundwork here for your notification to congress that you'd like to renegotiate nafta. are we correct in reading it that way that you're kind of paving the pathway here, at least greasing the skids? >> well, the president announced a couple of months ago that he wanted to renegotiate nafta. and as i say, it's been stalled in the congress because to do it effectively, you really need to use the trade promotion authority. i think you're aware of the benefit that gives, which is when it comes to the floor for vote, it is an up or down vote. they can't amend the deal. so it makes it much more probable of getting a deal approved. that's the practical significance of it. >> so is the very public actions that you're taking and being here in the briefing, is that sort of paving the way for promoting that authority? >> well, we hope to get as soon
as possible the trade promotion authority granted. only congress can do that. and so we've been consulting with the staff. i met -- i don't know how many times -- quite a lot of times, both with ways and means and with the senate finance committee. and we hope that with the leithouser confirmation it will remove that impediment. >> do you favor a free trade agreement with india, as you said earlier, as is between the two countries right now? do you favor a free trade agreement with india? >> oh. any pending trade events with india? is that the question? >> free trade! >> i don't believe that there have been any serious discussions with india of late on the topic of a free trade agreement.
there's no inherent negative attitude on our part relating to that. >> mr. secretary, will you have an announcement on thursday that you did something similar with aluminum that you did with steel last week. could you talk a little bit about that? >> i think the right time to talk about executive orders is once they've been issued. >> mr. secretary, this is a very -- this is a high-profile action, even if there is a precedent for similar action in the past. is there a risk that this could provoke retaliation on the part of the canadians and we could see a trade war between united states and canada? >> well, i know that that would be a stimulatory thing for all of your readership, bute don' think this is going to happen. >> so this is isolated. this is dairy and soft wood. >> we think so. and we certainly hope so. and we look forward to
constructive discussions with the canadians as we get into nafta. >> you don't anticipate any retaliatory action on the part of canada? >> it's totally canada's decision what they'll do. i'm not aware of in ig that we violated, so i don't know what it is that they could do that would be a legitimate action. [ inaudible question ] >> as i understand it, there will be some word on the tax reform package from the people who are working on it so it would be better to address that question to them. >> well, while we have you mr. secretary, about the 3% gdp growth, stla a fais that a fair assessment? >> well, i would hope that the growth could, over time, get to be better than that. president obama's the only president in many, many, many that didn't have at least one year of 3% growth. and with all the initiatives that we're doing, the regulatory reform, the trade reform, the
tax reform, hopefully, and unleashing energy, there's no reason we shouldn't be able at least to hit that, if not beat it. >> who is dumping power to the united states? >> i just used that as a figure of speech. >> who is dumping cars to the united states? >> i said it was a figure of speech. >> mr. crety, what ened between the press conference with prime minister trudeau and the president said he would only be "tweaking" the relationship, and this decision? what changed? >> well, first of all with be this is not a presidential decision to do the soft wood lumber. this was a decision that arose from a trade case that was under way. so it was a normal decision. so i don't think it has anything to do with the personal relationship between mr. trudeau and the president. >> finally, if you or the
president had any faith in wto? >> well, wto is a whole different subject matter. we do have some questions and some concerns about it. there will be a wto meeting coming up in the next several weeks, and what will come out of that will come out of that. >> mr. secretary, thank you. in your view, should the u.s. stay in the paris climate agreement or withdraw from it? >> well, now you're really getting outside my area. >> you're a participant in those discussions. >> it's really outside my area. i have enough difficulty dealing with the trade issues rather than poaching on other people's territory. yes, ma'am. >> are you concerned about the negotiations of with south
korea? >> the anniversary of the south korean arrangingment, the so-called chorus, comes up on i believe may 4th or may 5th, something like that. so that could be a logical time to think through whether there was something to be done or not. >> you think a software deal might get michael flynn off the front pages? >> here's one way out of the box for you. >> if in fact the next president elected is marine le pen in france who is not at all for continuing the eu, how would that affect the relationship with france and the eu? >> that's such a hypothetical question that i find it very difficult to answer. i think let's wait for the french runoff election. let's see who's elected.
let's see what actions they take. and then we'll be in a position to make a reasoned response to the question. >> thank you, mr. secretary. >> that doesn't make me feel too good. they said, "come back any time." >> he is always welcome. >> he is always welcome. >> i'm glad you're out of questions. i'm out of aernss. answers. >> now the secretary has exhausted you all. up on the scres, i kno we had a little bit of discussion about thisyesterday, this is the landing pageor the content of the website that we launched late last night on the president's busy first 100 days. i know that many of you have noted the robust pace the president has kept during his first 100 days. it is just a glimpse of some of the action and key priorities he's made to the american people. despite obstruction by senate
democrats he's done more to in his first 100 days since trumat. he's extended the veterans choice program giving our nation's heroes the peace of mind they deserve. while this administration continues to work with congress to enact comprehensive reform and modernization at the va. he's refocused nasa's mission to dream big for american space exploration again and promoted programs dedicated to encouraging women to pursue careers in s.t.e.m. fields. all told, he has signed 28 cases of legislation. it's not just through legislation that the president has made serious progress on his top priorities. the president promised to enforce our nation's borders. his attorney general, homeland security and their staffs have been working around the clock to fulfill that promise. he has directed a halt of federal funding to jurisdictions that do not comply with federal immigration laws. he has ordered the hiring of
10,000 immigration and customs enforcement officers and agents. and 5,000 stom and border patrol agents. and is working. illegal alien border crossings have plummeted more than 61% since january of this year. the world is responding to the leadership that the president is bringing under this -- bringing to washington. in all, during his first 100 days the president's made 68 calls with 38 different world leaders and hosted a total of 16 bilateral meetings. the president has rebuilt america's standing in the world and these meetings and calls have led to real action. nato secretary-general was here a few weeks ago and he directly credited the president for his tough talk that was fair but tough as a candidate and now as a president for helping to put pressure on the counties -- excuse me, on the countries that are not contributing their fair share to the alliance. just last week a journalist finally came home after the president firmly addressed her
situation with president el sisi. the president has also turned his words into action here at home. for too many years the hard working men and women of this country were poorly served and with a government that wasn't working for them but itself and special interests. as the president said during his inaugural speech, those forgotten men and women are not going to be forgotten by a trump administration. from the moment he took office the president has been taking action and putting america back to work by putting the people back in to the government. unleashing the american economy by slashing overly burdensome and unnecessary federal regulations, welcoming union representatives, top business leaders and small business owners in to the white house to personally hear directly from them about the policies that prevent them interest creating and maintaining well paying jobs. he's reinvigorating our domestic energy sector reviving private infrastructure investment that helps us become more energy independent. today he signs an executive
order setting up a task force that will produce a 180-day review of the regulations, policy and legislation that unnecessarily hinder economic growth in the agriculture sector. that task force will be led by our newly sworn in secretary of agriculture, former governor sonny perdue. secretary perdue who was sworn in earlier this morning along with many many other cabinet members will be traveling outside washington this entire week to share these tremendous achievements with the american people. small business administrator linda mcmahon is in orlando for multiple events, including a roundtable with hispanic small business owners. tomorrow secretary carson will be in columbus, ohio for the fourth stop of his listening tour where he'll speak to the ohio housing council and meet with local leaders and res didnresidents of public housing developments. the president and his extraordinary qualified cabinet have made incredible progress in
just these first 100 days, but this is just the beginning. we look forward to even more prosperity as consumer and ceo confidence continues to rise in the wake of these pro growth policies. even safer wld from destroying isis and oer forms of radical islamic terrorism that threaten our entire globe to keeping our smallest communities safe for american families. a government that serves the people not the special interests or political personal political alliances. finally before i take your questions, i just want to proudly announce that on may 4th, the president will speak aboard the "uss intrepid" in new york city to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle of coral sea, a major naval battle during world war ii in which the united states joined with australia to halt the advance of enemy forces. that same day at the museum the president will hold a bilateral meeting with prime minister malcolm turnbull of australia. the president looks forward to meeting the prime minister and showcasing the enduring bonds, deep friendship and close alliance the united states has
with australia. and with that, let's go. john roberts. >> sean, does the white house believe that lieutenant general michael flynn broke any laws in filling out his standard form 86 disclosure? and furthermore, why does the white house apparently stonewalling the committee on oversight and government reform on its request for similar documents that should be in the white house's possession? >> i will correct you on that. the committee sent a form letter to several agencies, including the white house, asking to find those documents. the documents in question, the depament of defense possessed and sent over to th. the documents that occurred before he worked here wou be up to him to turn over. my understanding is the committee has the documents they were looking for. >> i know that sf-86 was referred to the di -- >> it wasn't just referred to. that's where -- >> but they were referred to the dia for the sf-86 and apparently they have zband access to that document. but there are other documents that should be in the white house's possession that in the
lo letter to the committee said the white house can't provide because of sense of it nature. you said there were no documents available prior to the 20th. >> right. >> but i also asked the question does the white house believe that lieutenant general flynn might have broken the law when he filled out sf-86? >> that would be a question for him and a law enforcement agency whether he filled -- i don't know what he filled out, what he did or did not do. that all happened -- he filled that form out prior to coming here. so it would be up to the committee and other authorities to look at that. i don't know. but with respect to the letter with be they asked for three things. the sf-86 which i properly point out was in the possession of the dia. they, my understanding through reports, is that they have obtained that. then they asked for documents prior to january 20th. as you know through the constitution, we didn't assume the white house until january 20th at noon so we don't have the documents prior to assuming the white house. and then the third would be they list the for every call and
contact that he made which is an extraordinary number that -- that's a very unwieldy request. >> was it the sheer volume of it or -- >> to say we warrant the national security advisor whose job it is to talk with foreign counterparts on a daily basis to documents every call that he may or may not have made is not exactly a request that's able to be filled. but every document they asked for, my understanding is they've gotten. >> sean, is it your position that during the transition, the trump transition has no custodial possession of any of these documents? >> well, again -- >> -- that lieutenant -- i mean that flynn filled out as part of a process to become the president's national security advisor. i mean -- >> no, no. >> you suggest there is an arm's length relationship. >>no. there's two issues. he had an sf-86 which is a security clearance form tt was filled out during the obama administration. he had a re-investigation in 2016. that was done under the last administration.
again, those are not documents that the white house would ever possess on any employee. they'll come from the requesting authority. >> okay. so -- >> and so in that case -- again, remember, they sent out a form letter to i think five or six agent siz requesting the same documents. the place where the documents that they questioned did fulfill that request. >> right. i'm just trying to find out from your perspective, is there no obligation, even transition or the white house, to do anything more than you have done or has been done in this matter? >> everything that the white house has been asked to do, that -- the only documents that were made available -- that were made available to them that they asked for were the ones that the department of defense had. >> how about these calls made when he was working during the transition on behalf of a future president trump? aren't those things that you should have some either responsibility or obligation to provide, if you can? >> well, i think again it is the question of, if you can. when you ask for every call -- no. that's a pretty -- i mean to ask
for every call or contact that a national security advisor made is pretty outlandish, if you will. to say that we want to have a list of everything, there is no -- >> but, see, those calls were made on behalf of the trump transition. were they not? >> when? >> when he was in the -- i mean this -- >> look, major, he did not -- we started this administration on january 20th. all the information that they're talking about occurred prior to him being at the white house. >> right. but he was working for the transition. >> not at the white house. everything that is being questioned occurred prior to january 20th. >> but you're acting as if you had no custodial or no responsibility of your own transition. that's all i'm trying to get at. >> no. . >> he wasn't taking cause as a private citizen. he was actinging a national security advisor. >> i know. and to ask the wrous for
documents that aren't in possession of the white house is ridiculous. >> a few weeks ago when general flynn's attorney wrote to the senate intelligence committee suggesting some sort of immunity deal for general flynn, i asked you a question about whether the white house would be invoking executive privilege. your response at that time was, no, we have no problem with general flynn testifying. he's free to do so.invoking anyf privilege. does that relate to the short service of michael flynn in his short service as national security advisor to the president and the time he served in the transition period as advisor to the president-elect? >> i think, look, when you ask -- i know that wn chaffetz was asked whether or not -- what he is looking into had anything to do with the white house, my understanding is he was very clear that that had to do with his time prior to that.
talking about what his role is at the white house seems not germane to any of the questions that are being asked. there's nothing that is being asked for with respect to his service here at the white house. the documents that major was referring to rest within the department of defense. my understanding is that they were provided. >> the overall issue of privilege, would you be -- >> we're not -- i'm not at this time be -- i don't know the answer to that question. there's nothing that i'm responding to on that particular matter. >> sean, generally speaking, within trump administration, how important is it to the president that everyone working for this administration is honest on their security clearance forms? >> very. and so -- if they don't, then they're going to be investigated. i mean but i assume -- look, everybody fills out forms all the time. all of us at some point we sign our name and swear under oath that we -- everything that's in there. i think each and everyone of us
in different ways signs their names and agrees to abide by the information that we provide. >> do you know if the president is aware of the comments that were made by the house oversight chairman today, and does he agree at all with the assertion that it seems as though general flynn was not in compliance with the law? >> i'm not again, that would be a matter for him to look into, not us. >> does the white house consider mike flynn's payment from russia today to be a payment from a foreign government? >> i don't know. that was again all -- all of that occurred prior to his service. >> does this white house consider a payment from russia today to be a payment from a foreign government? >> i understand. what i'm saying is everything that he did was prior to coming to this white house. so for us to determine someone else's thing as a consultant -- >> i'm asking if you would consider that to be a payment -- >> i'm sorry, what? >> if someone took money from russia today. >> if they were an employee of the white house, absolutely. but again, i don't flow the exact circumstances. everything that is being discussed occurred prior to his
employment at the white house, occurred as a consultant. and so whatever he did, as long as he did it in compliance with the law, as every one of us as a citizen has the right to do, that's up to him as an individual and comply with the law. >> why wasn't he more closely vetted during the transition period? >> well, again, you fill out forms. >> i feel like the white house and trump transition team should have known about him before they were having him come to the white house? had. >> again, you fill out the form. you did an investigation. you do a background collection. every employee gets that background check done and they have a security clearance and fill it out. that's how everyone operates under the same guise. >> i have two questions but i want to follow up on that. you are saying it is a problem with the process of vetting, it is a vet being process and not your -- >> i'm not saying it is a process of vetting. i'm saying every single person who comes to work here at a certain level is required to fill out the background check and that's youadjudicated. you rely on that person when
they sign their name and investigators to pick it up. there will also be a case with someone with prior clearance and by time the they were adjudicated could have engaged in something and the onus is on the individual. >> you do want to ask you about the wall. yesterday president trump reportedly said that he's going to delay pushing the wall through. can you just clarify what the status is that? >> thank you. the president made it very clear, i think he tweeted about this earlier. his priorities have not changed. there will be a wall built. it is important to prevent human trafficking, gangs like ms-13 from coming in to the country, the flow of illegal drugs, illegal immigration. there is a national and economic safety issue by having a wall that ensures our country's safety. and there's plenty of planning that can be done in fy 17. we'll continue -- our priorities are clear going into fy 17. the remainder of budgeting for that. and we'll continue to ask for more in fy 18. >> so it's delayed for now. >> no, no.
no one said delayed. flo, no, no. there's two budget processes. we're going to end fy 17 this week. we hope to continue to get funding in that as the president laid out for both border security, homeland security and national defense as we have always maintained. when we come to fy 18, that starts at the end of -- or beginning october, end of september. >> so you'll lose that partial funding. >> i think we've made our priorities very clear as we continue to negotiate. i think nothing has changed from the president's priorities. >> just the president has threatened to withhold payments to insurance companies. >> i think we've made it very clear that we want to repeal and replace obamacare. i think we continue to see there is a prop-up right now and that's why we need to act as soon as possible to get an insurance plan in place, a new insurance system in place that will protect people's insurance and not have these skyrocketing
costs. but we have an artificially propped up insurance system right now because of these payments. i think that we've got to make sure that we do everything we can as quick as we can to put a system in place that will solve that. >> so just to follow up on the wall, just want to be clear, so is the president no longer insisting that there is money for the wall in this current program? >> the president's priorities are clear for fy 17. there is a lot of things that we can do in the remaining months up until the ends of september for planning and making sure that we get everything that we need, funding that we need for that aspect of things. then as we go into fy 18 we'll continue to ask for more. i don't think anything's changed. >> so the president is not insisting that he has money for actual construction of the wall? >> i'm not going to get -- we are still in discussions with the house and senate leadership. i think the president's been very clear that he wants a wall. he wants it done as soon as we can do it. there are things that we need to
do to protect our country like human trafficking, the flow of illegal drugs and gangs that are going to make sure that while we've achieved significant drop in illegal alien border crossing down 61% sinjanuar this is something that's in our untry's long-term national security interest. >> the actual construction can wait until fall. >> it is not a question of "wait until fall." i think there is a lot of thinks that have to happen. it is like any construction. you have to start doing planning and things. we will take the first steps now, then we will continue to seek funding through fy 18 and further budget to make sure the actual -- it is completed. >> on michael flynn, does the president feel that he was misled by general flynn? >> i think the president made a decision a while ago was general flynn was not straight with the vice president at the time and let him go. i think he stands by that decision and it is up to others to review all the information that's coming out. >> does he now feel he also wasn't straight with him? >> a lot of the facts are still coming out, jonathan. i know the president made a
decision couple months ago, it was the right decision. we've moved on and we have continued to stay focused. >> at the time you made that decision, he said that flynn was the victim of a media witch hunt and said he was a good man and been a victim of circumstances. >> i think all the facts are still coming out on that. let's see where we go. he stands by the decision he made a couple months ago. >> sean, two questions. last night the president said, and some have reported some pretty sensational charges about the iran treaty. we know he's called it the agreement in history and the he ever saw himself. but he also said that at the time of the treaty, the government in iran was on the verge of collapsing, and that is something i don't believe that has ever reported before. he also said that the unfrozen assets, the billions, they're not used to fund terrorists, but they were in swiss bank accounts. is this based on intelligence
reports he's received or other information? >> i'm not going to get into what the president knows. but there is a reason that we are undergoing an interagency process right now to look at the deal. jessica. >> i had a second question. >> i'm sure. >> general flynn. anyone who was at his level would undergo an investigation by the fbi with a fm reporinal . was the president ever given a final security report by the fbi on michael flynn? >> he was head of the department of the defense intelligence agency. he had existing clearance. >> i want to just talk overall about the overall meetings. are you as an administration trying to get a coalition together to build a stronger diplomatic case around actions
against pyongyang? >> i think you saw ambassador haley yesterday and the discussion that discussion with to north coare rhkorea as a gro with the president. we can apply pressure on china to use the political and economic tools to achieve a goal and stabilization in the region and also to tamp down the threat that north korea faces that we all share. >> how would you characterize the overall strategy? >> i think we are -- it's ongoing. we have seen very positive signs with respect to a nation like china. the relationship the president built with president xi in mar a lago is paying off dividends. this president relationships he is building with heads of governments is reestablishing america's place in the world and
getting results for the country. kayla? >> when you have the meeting of the senators, will you be able to articulate that strategy? >> that meeting is a senate meeting led by leader mcconnell utilizing our space. that is their meeting. we are not there to talk strategy. they will be briefed -- can i answer the question? major! you want to come up? i understand there are four -- hold on! >> you presenting your strategy? >> four briefers coming up to talk about the situation in north korea and they will be briefed. this is a senate-led briefing and they will share the current situation in north korea. kayla? >> so the senator sd not expect it to be articulated? >> i expect they are going to talk about the posture and what
we are undergoing and the military actions and the way they see the lay of the land. they will answer questions as they routinely do on a situation like this. >> how long can you reasonably expect the government to be fully staffed with essential personnel to draft, negotiate, and implement complicated policies like tax reform and put forward something more meaty than broad principals? >> i think we will have something to share with you tomorrow. we will continue to work with allies and individuals who want to be part of this process. that part kicked off in earnest with members of the senate how ways and means committee and the leadership and we will continue to engage in that discussion. wie will try to get a plan in the next several weeks. we make the announcement
tomorrow. >> how many are those are there in. >> i don't have a number on that. i can talk to the personal office and we have been able to work with that. i went over this early on, but we inslled the teams during the transition process. 400 plus individuals into these departments that transform to employees. we have been able to be up and running on every one in an early process. you look at the totality of how we handle the transition of government. >> the president said he is going to present this plan tomorrow. can you give us a sense of what we are going see and when? >> no. i will wait until tomorrow. we will have plenty of time to talk about that tomorrow. adam? >> just a bit of color. the president when he announced it would happen on wednesday, aides at the white house and the
treasury seemed surprised to come out it was coming as early as wednesday. can you tell us who the president told he was going to announce this on wednesday before he made the announcement? >> we will have a great plan for to you see tomorrow. adam? >> the tax reform is growth 3% or more. people are worried about deficits and they put out a statement saying that growth is the magic pixie dust. the republicans were worried about it being tax reform. obviously we have to do everything we can to get growth going. he is going to do everything he can. if you lt the corporate side. we hav become competitive with our rates. the more we can do to make our
businesses and manufacturers in particular more competitive. it's good for the economy and economic growth. the president as i noted, when you look at the regulatory side of what he has done, he helped a lot of industries start to see light. you see the confidence levels in so many purr -- surveys. we will talk about the tax plans. >> sean spicer talking about the briefing. getting a lot of questions about the former nsa mike flynn asked why he was not vetted more thoroughly before he took the position. sean spicer said he filled out forms. the priorities have not changed having to do with the wall. the wall is still a priority and we saw commerce secretary wilbur ross who outlined the raising steaks in a fight with canada talking about soft lumber.
we had crystal walker right there. kristin, any clarity about what was going on with general and the nsa, mike flynn and why the white house didn't have information to hand over to the house overtight committee? >> i think you heard sean spicer flush out the information that the white house gave me. effectively, you heard him make the argument that the white house one,idt have documentation prior to taking office about mike flynn's security clearance and number two, any documentation they had related to phone calls he may have made while he was here at the white house would be too much information. you heard spicer say he was a security adviser and in touch with a number of different foreign officials on any given day. that is the line of argument here from the white house. you are right. pushing back trying to distance himself from the notion that the
president was aware of what was taking place or in any way responsible for it. i thought it was interesting when you heard him really get pressed on whether the president would still call mike flynn a good guy. spicer chose his words carefully, especially saying this is an ongoing investigation and process. let's let it play itself out before we come to any broader conclusions. you heard him get hammered on that. i will make one point about that border wall funding. spicer chose his words very carefully on that. you heard him say the administration's priorities haven't changed, about you he never indicated that they are going to forcefully demand funding specifically for the border wall, katie. >> thank you very much. we have a brief moment eli who is the white house reporter for the "wall street journal." you watched it with me. correct me if i'm wrong, but was spicer saying the white house doesn't have access to document that is the trump transition
would have and does that hold water? >> it seemed like he said we don't know, but it seemed to be saying we didn't care to know at the time when they were doing the vetting. they looked for are the never trump people to make sure they didn't get any jobs. beyond that, they were pretty careless as they went through a lot of things and didn't do the transition. at was after the election. they had to stand it up because they were not expected to win. the by products of that and the flynn situation and they can create a bit of diversion and bring him into the room for 20 minutes to talk about canadian lumber to muddy the waters and push questions away from flynn. >> realizing they had quite a few questions when it came to michael flynn. how much responsibility does the white house have to vet someone like the national security
adviser to make sure they filled out their forms correctly. >>. >> if it's not their responsibility, i don't know whose it is. where the buck stops, it does stop with the presidency. on this, there are a lot of questions on the russian investigation things that were unknown and why the story was not going away over the next several months and a big reason is the carelessness that we saw leading up to him taking office and continuing to see from this administration answering the questions and being forth coming on the subject. >> we have a lot of investigations in congress when it comes to the russian hacking of the election. there was in the house and the senate. there was one going on in the judiciary. one going on in the oversight. quite a few answers. thank you so much for being here. we should note that there is a statement from the former national security adviser michael flynn's lawyer as has previously been reported, flynn
briefed the intelligence agency, a com poponent agency with the speaking event before and after the trip and answered any questions posed concerning the trip during the briefings. talking about the money he was paid by the tv network and that dinner that michael flynn went to alongside vladimir putin. that wraps it up for me. ali picks things up now. >> nice to meet in a safe place. good afternoon. here are the top stories this hour. starting with the russia investigation that katie was talking about. roaring back into the headlines after the house oversight requested documents on potential violations by former national security adviser michael flynn. the white house's answer, no can do. the oversight chair said it doesn't look like he followed the law. tough crowd. not exactly a