tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC May 10, 2017 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
they represent the office. so they have a real professional responsibility to make sure the office of the president is protected. they're in a very tough role right now. a very tough role right now. very tough. >> if you're working in the white house, if there is anyone you want to listen to on television, it is john dean. he has the lessons for you. john dean, thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts right now. tonight why was james comey fired, and why now? and how long was this in the works? new reporting on what was going on in the west wing at this hour. plus mike flynn subpoenaed by the senate intelligence committee after refusing to hand over documents related to russia. speaking of which, the two sergeis. the russians who visited the oval office today, photographed only by russian media. that was before nixon's secretary of state stopped by. and that's the optics we're dealing with on a wednesday
night as "the 11th hour" begins. and good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york. this was day 111 for the trump administration. where does the time go? the day after the president fired the head of the fbi. and while fighting off comparisons to richard nixon after firing james comey, the president met in the oval office today with nixon's secretary of state henry kissinger. while also fighting off claims that comey's firing was about the russia investigation, the president met in the oval office with two men named sergei. russian foreign minister sergei leave rove and sergey kislyak of mike flynn and carter page fame. the meeting with the russians was closed to the press. the still photos we are able to show you here and now came from tass, the russian government news agency. today also saw the white house on defense, trying to explain the reasoning and the timing for
comey's firing. >> the president took the advice of the deputy attorney general who oversees the director of the fbi. brought those concerns to the attorney general who brought them to the president. and they made a decision to remove him. >> the president's decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to remove director comey as the head of the fbi was based solely and exclusively on his commitment to the best interests of the american people and to ensuring that the fbi has the trust and confidence of the people of this nation. >> thank you very much for being here. appreciate it. >> why did you fire director comey? why did you fire director comey? >> because he wasn't doing a good job, very simply. he was not doing a good job. >> yes or no, did the president direct rod rosenstein to write this memo on james comey? >> again, like i said, he had lost confidence in director
comey. and frankly, he had been considering letting director comey go since the day he was elected. but he did have a conversation with the deputy attorney general on monday where they had come to him to express their concerns. the president asked that they put the concerns and recommendation in writing, which is the letter that you have received. >> until you said from the podium right now that the president lost confidence in him over the weeks and months, we had thought this was all rosenstein's doing. when was it that the president lost confidence in james comey? what was the tipping point? >> i think it's been erosion of confidence. i think that director comey has shown over the last several months and frankly the last year a lot of missteps and mistakes. >> and despite those answers, new reports tonight suggest the president's anger about cey has simmered for a while. and finally ignited after his
capitol hill testimony last week. you're going to want to hear this. politico's reporting the president would scream at the television during news reports on the russia investigations. "the washington post" reports trump found comey sanctimonious. and "the new york times" reports the president talked about firing comey for at least a week there is also this pair of quotes from the times. after president trump accused his predecessor in march of wiretapping him, james b. comey, the fbi director was flabbergasted. the president, mr. comey told associates, was outside the realm of normal, even crazy. and the president telling his own aides there was, quote, something wrong with mr. comey. there are also multiple reports tonight that days before he was fired, comey was asking for more resources for the russia investigation. also today, michael flynn received a subpoena from the senate intelligence committee for documents possibly relevant to its russia investigation. committee members say they
requested those documents from flynn back in a letter dated april 8th, but flynn did not comply. a senate historian tells nbc news this is the first time the senate intelligence committee has subpoenaed documents since the 1970s also on the flynn front, the daily beast citing two sources tonight reports that white house lawyers have repeatedly had to warn the president against reaching out to mike flynn since flynn was fired in mid-february. having said all that, let's bring in tonight's opening panel. chief white house correspondent for the associated press julie pace is back with us. fellow white house reporter from the ap, jonathan le mere is back with us. and senior correspondent for politico, michael crowley returns as well. julie, we'll start with you. give us your best reporting as to tonight 11:05 eastern time. why was comey fired and why now? >> well, our reporting shows
that president trump has grown increasingly over the russia investigation, what he saw as comey not being supportive enough in public settings, particularly in congressional testimony of his own role, of trump's own role or a lack of ties to russia as it relates to the fbi investigation. and that is something that has been simmering for a while you. saw this shift in the white house story where yesterday they were presenting this as almost something that came out of the blue, where the justice department came to the president with concerns, and the president was moving to address those concerns. the story has now shifted completely. and it's all happening against a backdrop that really points to an fbi director who was trying to move forward rather aggressively on this investigation, seeking additional resources from rod rosenstein, who was new to this position at the justice department, and going, importantly, to senators who
were involved in one of the congressional investigations to alert them to these requests that he was making. so the picture in sum really revolves around the russia investigation, much less so than comey's handling of the clinton e-mail investigation last year, which was the initial explanation from the white house. >> jonathan, what does all of it, any of it say about the style of donald j. trump? >> this is a president who has a businessman and on the campaign had unchecked power that is not the case here in washington. he has run up against the bulwark of federal agencies and the federal government. he has grown frustrated with that he is someone who has rebelled against the typical washington political norms that keep a president's power in place. whether that's musing openly about using the nuclear option to confirm his senate supreme court choice through the senate, or to a case like this, where an fbi director is a nonpolitical
position. they usually serve ten-year terms. they span at least two presidents. they're supposed to be above this sort of partisanship. and nothing is more partisan in washington right now than the russian investigation. but the president saw fit to dismiss him because as our reporting indicate, his anger about how he has handled the russia probe. >> and there is all the reporting that has come out in the last 30 hours about this story that leaves that three-page underpinning letter just dangling, twisting in the wind. "the wall street journal" reporting tonight that comey had asked for daily updates because of evidence of collusion on russia. a bunch of reporting that he had asked for more resources. none of it looks good. >> no, it looks terrible, brian. and it's clear that this president sees himself as under siege from day one by this investigation. whether or not there is anything there, and there is a lot of smoke.
we don't know yet how much fire there may be. what he broadcasts is a kind of resentment that this is unfair, that he is being denied the chance to out the his successes and have a normal presidency because disgruntled democrats are manufacturing this story line. you know, he i think believes that it's possible there were inappropriate contacts. it's possible he himself has things to hide. and at the same time is just being driven in a way kind of nuts by all this. he is just -- can't take it anymore. he is furious. he is yelling at the tv. he is railing at his aides, saying what are we doing about this? we all see what he is tweeting. and so this feels like an extremely kind of emotional and impulsive act of as we just heard, a man who is used to having total power and getting his way. but again, i think we can't underestimate the degree to which he feels sort of frustrated and unfairly deprived
some sort of fair shot to have the kind of presidency that he wants. because the russia story won't go away. which is not to say that this is actually an unfair reality. but i think it's how he cease it. >> and julie, as they say in television, this just handed to me. we try not to cry too much about press freedoms on this broadcast because we're supposed to overcome it. but first this afternoon i saw a former director at cia say on social media "the russians should not have been allowed in the oval office." and now from "the washington post" tonight, a dual by-line from morel low and miller. official cited the danger that a listening device or other surveillance equipment could have been brought into the oval office while hidden in cameras and other electronics. former intelligence officials raise questions after photos of trump's meeting with russian foreign minister lavrov were posted online by the tass news
agency. people who are a certain age remember the expression "the soviet news agency tass." julie, that was an unbelievable visual from the oval office, an event american journalists were not allowed to record. >> absolutely. the white house press corps was not allowed to be in this meeting. and the fact that that meeting happened at all, i think it's important for people to understand how extraordinary it is. not just that you had sergei lavrov, the russian foreign minister sitting in the oval office, but you also had sergey kislyak, who is the russian ambassador to the united states, who is really such a central player in these ongoing investigations. and the russians are smart when it comes to propaganda. any time a u.s. president and a russian president talk, we always get the kremlin's readout first. this is something that the russians have perfected. they played the white house on this front today. they got these images out quick lift and to these security concerns, this is interesting, because this is something you started to hear from people in agencies, but also in trump's
orbit as well that there has been almost a niaivety that he didn't understand what motivations might have been and that perhaps the white house didn't fully understand the risks, the security risk and intelligence risks of bringing in a russian photographer who has direct ties to the government. >> unbelievable. jonathan, the white house also didn't fully understand by all accounts the reaction to the firing of james comey. the reports from the white house grounds last night of sean spicer briefing in the bushes in the dark as they were trying to collect themselves after this are unbelievable. >> they were really scrambling. the president kept this decision pretty close to the vest, just a handful of tight advisers. and then yesterday it was sort of forced -- foisted upon sean spicer and the communications director just an hour or so
before. >> so how do you get your press roll-out operation to help this thing if you don't have any advance notice? >> there was no surrogates lined up. there were no -- jeff session or the assistant attorney general, they were nowhere to be seen. they still have not been out there talking about the decision. it was left for a few hours. the white house press corps even said we're done. we issued a statement there is not going to be anything else. a few hours later after we learned the president was furious that his story was being untold on the media on cable news, he dispatched them out there to do some interviews. and they were taken aback. they thought that democrats largely would be supportive of this decision. because they had been so critical of the fbi director since his letter that impacted last year' election. in fact, trump was taken aback from senator schumer when he informed him on the phone this is a bad idea. >> and michael crowley, they were still pushing and were pushing today the clinton story. >> right.
you know, it all come backs to that. and i think that that -- to continue that last point, that was the expectation, that democrats had been bashing comey over handling the clinton matter. and therefore, trump was going to get some kind of bipartisan support. i thought that david axelrod, the former obama adviser captured it nicely in a tweet last night when he described it as a colossal miscalculation. it does kind of stupify you. and it suggests the circle that held this is tight but tone deaf. i want to go back to the russians in the oval office. because it's so important. and julie did a really good job of describing what happened there. substantively, if you look at the comments that came out of the meetings today, very positive, talking about warmer relations, restoring relations, cooperating not only on syria, but in other areas of the middle east. what does that mean? remember, when rex tillerson went to moscow just two, three
weeks ago, met with lavrov and vladimir putin, that was a really tense visit there was a lot of acrimony over the missile strikes in syria. u.s. officials were saying that russia had basically been complicit in the use of chemical weapons. you didn't hear anything than today. you didn't hear anything about election interference. it was pretty bullish. trump, bottom line seems determined to press ahead with his project of better relations with vladimir putin in russia. and boy is that interesting in the context of everything else we're talking about right now. >> and let's take an opportunity to embarrass julie by saying that praise was being heaped on you last night for deadline writing in seconds and minutes after the news broke on comey. the associated press moved an item. ap analysis. trump thrusts u.s. presidency into perilous area. quote, with his shocking dismissal of fbi director james comey, donald trump is propelling the presidency into rarely traversed territory.
i hope people understand. it's one thing to sit down at a keyboard, think about it, and write that it's quite another thing when it's happening in front of you. julie, would you have any reason to change your lead on night two? >> i wouldn't. i would maybe even strengthen it. i think that there is no reason to downplay this really extraordinary and pretty unprecedented territory that we're in right now with the trump presidency just over 100 days? >> it's been a great 24 hours. as i keep calling the trump presidency, it's kind of the print journalism full employment act of 2017. and we've had three terrific print journalists with us to start us off tonight. >> thanks. >> we're glad to have you all, julie pace, jonathan lemire, michael crowley. is anyone able to stand up to the boss? the "the 11th hour" back after this. wifi.
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i'm not concerned because i know the fbi is made up of people who do their job. i know the senate is going to move forward. i know the system is bigger than mr. comey. so no, i don't believe firing james comey is a get out of jail free card for the trump campaign. i don't believe that. >> when you argue arguably the most respected person in america, you better have a good explanation. so far i haven't seen that. >> the timing and the reasons for this decision made little sense to me. and i don't think i've heard anything since last night that could clarify that in any way. >> welcome back. "the 11th hour" continues. it wasn't just republicans today. there was no shortage of reaction to the comey news on
the hill today from both sides of the aisle. but three notable republican action there's. joining our conversation this evening, we're so glad to have msnbc political analyst steve schmidt. also happens to be a former chief strategist to john mccain's '08 campaign. we're also so happy to have "wall street journal" white house reporter eli stokols. steve, it's been too long since we've been able to talk to you. remembering that republicans were the heros of watergate. after all, it was goldwater, scott and rhodes who took the trip down the white house driveway to tell the old man it was over. but let's not forget howard baker. who are you looking to be profiles in courage, and just how unnormal is everything you've seen in the last 24 hours? >> well, it's unprecedented, brian. shocking, actually. an enormous abuse of power by the president of the united states.
any republican member of congress who takes the president his spokes peek's assertions that this occurred because of hillary clinton is either a fool, or they have so lost sight in this tribal politics, their responsibilities to the country, that they have become faithless to their oaths. my old colleague mark salter, the long-time chief of staff to senator john mccain may have hit the nail on the head today when he said "i never thought i'd be saying this in my lifetime, but perhaps we need a democratic congress to protect the national security of the united states in 2018." so for republicans, there are few that give you hope that the country comes first. and of course that list starts with john mccain, lindsey graham, ben sasse, richard burr, some of the other members that
have expressed real dismay at what is clearly an attempt to influence the direction of russian -- of the investigation of russian influence in the election. this is an extraordinary moment in the history of the modern presidency. and a very serious one. the depictions of the president and the well reported "new york times" in "washington post" stories remind you of humphry bogart playing captain queeg, rolling the marbles in his hands on the search for the strawberries. a really remarkable moment that the country is living through here right now. >> eli stokolss, it has been another remarkable night for journalism there is one piece, i forget which, the post or the times with 30 sources which tells you something about the administration. from the podium today in that briefing room, they called comey guilty of atrocities. a word we normally associate
with someone like assad of syria. >> yeah, the language is sort of stunning, but we're all a bit used to it after 112 days i think it is. you step back from that, the atrocity in terms of what sarah huckabee sanders was describing is james comey did not run his remarks past attorney general jeff sessions and the administration. never mind that the fbi director is supposed to be an independent official here. that's why he has a ten-year term. supposed to be separate a bit from partisan politics. and yet there is an expectation at the top of this administration and all the way down that if you're working for this president, loyalty is the most important thing, and you should tow that line. and you know what? james comey wasn't about to do that. and that's basically what got him fired. and you see all the people out there today, whether it's mike pence, sarah sander, everybody defending the administration, whether it's believable or not.
their job depends on doing that and performing for the boss. you always hear it's an audience of one. and that is the way it works in this white house. >> steve schmidt, when i hear stories of spicer briefing in the bushes on the north lawn of the white house in the dark and a heads-up, the host of "snl" this weekend is melissa mccarthy, it tells me that the west wing didn't have much warning, that the firing of the fbi director was coming. who is there to stand up to the boss, to say no perhaps, to offer advice, council, and speak truth to power? >> there is nobody, clearly. not a single person who can constrain the president of the united states from his sense of grievan grievance, the temper tantrums. what a metaphor, if you think about it. the white house press secretary, someone who is supposed to have credibility speaking to the american people on behalf of the president, on behalf of an administration, huddled in the
bushes in the darkness saying turn out the lights, turn out the lights so he wouldn't be on camera. well, because of the firing of director comey, the lights are now on. and they're on high, shining down on this white house. and what will come of this are the independent investigations that will ultimately get to the bottom of what the hell happened in the election in 2016 with regard to russian interference, russian influence. and it may be for republicans as a political proposition that they can delay that until 2018. but those elections may well be a giant national referendum on the question are we going to find out what the work of a hostile foreign power was in the election of the president of the united states. because there is a lot more smoke tonight than there was yesterday. >> eli, i again, i have just
been handed an item reporting by "the washington post" tonight, saying the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, threatened to resign after the narrative emerging from the white house last nightcast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire comey. and that the president acted only on his recommendation. this is sourced, again, anonymity, a source close to the white house. so this would indicate that rosenstein's name and weight was behind that three-page amalgam, the argument against comey, but that he resented it being compiled as his argument for firing. >> right. you would think that when you're asked to put something like that together by the president, you would expect that the person would understand that this is probably going to be used as a pretext to fire the fbi
director. he never said explicitly that made that recommendation in that letter. and i think if that reporting is correct, then that's a sign that the deputy attorney general has bristled and gotten upset at the white house's attempt to spin this. at what vice president pence said today, well, this is basically all just a response to this memo, sort of taking agency away from the president in this way, because they think it insulates him from the critique. it seems rather obvious that he fired comey because he was upset at the russia investigation that he continued to push. so it was sort of an alibi. but in sort of providing an alibi for the president. it would seem that they alienated the deputy attorney general here. but as steve said, there is nobody in this white house capable of standing up to the president and pushing back on this right now. we're trying to figure out exactly who was in the real inner circle when this was happening today. chairman -- the chief of staff reince priebus, steve bannon,
they were sort of in the second tier. they found out about this. they cautioned the president a little bit are you sure you want to do this? you're going get some blowback. the optics may not be great. but as one white house source told me earlier, those two these days are not pushing back very hard on anything because they don't have the standing with the president. and this is a very thin-skinned president at this point who does not want to take flak from anybody, and wants to make sure and feel that everybody in that white house working for him is on his team and going to defend him 100%. >> steve schmidt, last word. 30-second reaction to this "washington post" development. this -- the fbi director is a direct traffic report the deputy ag who was held out as the authority, as the mover behind the firing. >> once again, this white house is mainstreamed lying to a degree which just beggars the imagination. you think about this over the last 24 hours.
sean spicer has lied. the vice president has lied. ms. sanders has lied. everybody who stands on the north lawn and talks about this has lied to the american people. it's the type of lie that requires the liars to believe the people they're lying to are stupid. because this is just plain as day what this is about. and the claims that it's about anything else other than the russia investigation are just completely ludicrous on their face. >> who else thought for just a second they had taken down your satellite signal? steve schmidt, it's great to have you voice back on the broadcast. thank you. eli stokols, thank you as well. another breck for us here. and coming up, what timing and the looks of it all as trump meets with the russian ambassador, the russian foreign
minister in the oval office amid all these questions about the russia investigation, the comey firing there is more to discuss right after this. liberty mutual stood with us when a fire destroyed the living room. we were able to replace everything in it. liberty did what? liberty mutual paid to replace all of our property that was damaged. and we didn't have to touch our savings. yeah, our insurance won't do that. well, there goes my boat. you can leave worry behind when liberty stands with you™. liberty stands with you™ liberty mutual insurance
about firing the fbi director. president trump met with that man, russian foreign minister sergei lavrov. trump invited him and sergey kislyak, the ambassador. mike flynn reportedly spoke to about sanctions before trump's inauguration. both of those guys into the oval office. again, we have only these images of the meeting, because the russian government released them from the news agency tass. u.s. reporters and photographers not allowed in. and about how the meeting came together? political plit coolitico said t about his decision to meet with lavrov. he chose to meet him because putin asked him to. he asked specifically on the call when they last talked. let's bring in former u.s. ambassador to russia during the obama militia. i don't mean to might. mike mcfaul. and from the atlantic, russian
born journalist. doubting the wisdom of allowing russian photographers into the oval office on top of the face of it. no american journalists allowed in for the russian meeting for what they might have brought with them. perhaps this is a good opportunity, as i always ask you, to repeat to the american people. we have been attacked and are under attack by russia? >> well, we were attacked by russia. they influenced one of the most sovereign things we do as a nation, choose our president. and yet the president, president trump refuses to acknowledge those basic facts. and at a time when we're discussing this, we should be serious and somber about it in meeting with the foreign minister. now let me clear up a couple of things from my own experience of the white house. i worked at the white house for three years. i organized foreign minister
lavrov's first meeting with president obama that is not something unusual. and it goes back to soviet times, brian. there was always the expectation that if our secretary of state meets with their head of state, we do vice versa. also, russian journalists, this was not the first time russian journalists were in the oval office. let's just state that for the record. but what is totally unusual, unprecedented is that american journalists weren't there. i actually tweeted out the photo of president obama meeting with foreign minister lavrov. and you see all the microphones. you see the boom mikes, just to illustrate that that was totally unprecedented. and in my view makes the president look very weak. vladimir putin would never let the american press corps come into the kremlin without the russian press corps being there. i thought a little on the tactics of it very silly, not least the chumminess of the photographs that i think belie what should be the conversation about the serious -- you know, the serious issue jesse in our
relationship, including their violation of our sovereignty. >> julia, it's great to have you on. i've followed your work for some time you. are just back from moscow. >> yep. >> and i believe i heard you just after you returned on the air say the talk there are the russians are anxious to put putin and trump together because the chances trump will emerge from such a meeting with a warm personal relationship or at least the way he perceives it? is that right? >> that's right. the talk all this spring is let's get these guys in a room. let's get some chemistry happening to jump-start this talk. this was when any talk of lifting sanctions had evaporated with the firing of general mike flynn. when basically, trump's desire to reset relations with russia ran up against the rocks of american political reality. and it became pretty much untenable for him in the -- while this was being investigated. russian election meddling, for him to restart this
relationship. so the russians were thinking this is a hail mary. he seems to react well to one-on-one meetings with powerful men. he did when he met xi jinping of china, and immediately backed off. he said he had great chemistry with him, and decided not to label china a currency manipulator, as he vowed to do during the entire of his presidential campaign. he did when he met the secretary general of nato. and standing side by side with him said nato is no longer obsolete after i was in office for two months. it was just because he had these personal meetings. and i think the kremlin understood trump's psychology to be like this. so they were hoping that they could get them together in a room and jump-start the talks. >> ambassador, from the comfortable distance of your alma matter at stafford, what it is like watching this play out
with your experience? >> where to begin? first of all, the idea that president putin can swing leaders, just to echo what julia just said, that was always the way they talked about obama and putin in the early days, by the way. they believe their guy is good at this. and the record is pretty clear that president trump is influenced by these individual meeting. i wrote a piece for the post a couple weeks ago. you hope it's learning, but it oftentimes looks like it's just ad-libbing. and that meeting, you know, they have a lot of hope on that. the problem is of course that there is this big 800 pound gorilla that will be this the room and should be in the room, and won't be dismissed from the room just because he fired fbi director comey. and that is we need to know the facts of, a, what the russians did. there is still lots of facts that we still don't know, brian, about that intervention. and b, was there any collusion
with the americans in that. until we get the end of that story, i think it's very difficult for any administration, including president trump to move forward with some kind of different relationship with vladimir putin. >> and julia, let's not forget. this one of your colleagues at the atlantic is reporting tonight, quote, i think the president is worried about mike flynn, said a source close to the white house. trump has questioned whether or not he should have fired flynn. they don't know what flynn is going to say. there is your russia story. >> yeah, well, i just wanted to add what mike was saying. i think if anything in the last two days, the 800 pound gorilla in the room has gained 200 or throw hundred pounds. and it joins the elephant in the room. as well as maybe a giant ostrich, which is ukraine and syria. there is a reason sergei lavrov has not been in that oval office since 2013. 2013 is the last year before 2014 which is when russia twice invaded ukraine and bit off a
chunk of its sovereign territory for which we sanctioned them. and this has not been addressed. russia has not abiede by the minsk agreements. it has not given back crimea, nor will it. also, i have to add, there were images going around online today contrasting the laughing back-smacking with kislyak and lavrov, contrasted with the dour expression trump wore when meeting with one of our closest allies angela merkel. he seems to -- i don't quite understand why his allegiances lie the way they do, but i think a lot of it those do with this chummy, bro-y strong man afent. >> we'll have you boast on again because something tells me the news will force our conversation. our thanks tonight to mike mcfaul, to julia ioffe. thank you very much. coming up after another break, i ask a member of the senate judiciary committee the
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where teachers open minds to history... unleash creativity... and show our kids the future. some build walls to divide us. but the california teachers association knows these are walls that bring us together. because quality public schools build a better california for all of us. i am concerned that i have a president that praises vladimir putin. >> donald trump is not a
republican, congressman. donald trump is an augthoritar n authoritarian. how long are you and your fellow republicans going to defend this american nightmare? >> that was a town hall meeting this evening in new jersey with republican congressman tom mcarthur. it was already difficult for a lot of republican house members to go home for this 11-day break and talk with the customers, their bosses because of the health care vote they cast which also came up at the meeting tonight. now they are being asked to answer for the comey firing and some cautionary numbers are out for the man at the top of the ticket. new quinnipiac poll out today has president trump badly under water. 36% approval rating versus 58% disapprove. joining our conversation tonight dana lash, syndicated conservative radio talk show host and two former members of congress. harold ford jr., democrat from the great state of tennessee,
and david jolly, republican from the great state of florida. dana, we're awfully happy to have you on tonight, and i'll begin here. mike hayden who used to run cia and the nsa wrote an article today saying considering the president in 111 days has fired national security adviser, acting attorney general, head of the fbi, he says we're beginning to resemble nicaragua. question to you is what do the folks in missouri think? what do your customers say, your listeners, your readers, your viewers? >> right, brian. thanks for having me. i have been hearing from people all over the country. a lot of people in flyover nation, those in between states. i think everybody has to understand that we are talking about a huge demographic who was hesitant to believe what the press was telling them leading up to and even after the election. so people are very hesitant. they want to see evidence of the allegations of collusion. i know that many in the media
have not been using alleged. these individuals i think believe, as i do, look, if there is evidence, let's put tonight table and go forward. i think they're waiting for that. at the same time maybe they are getting a little bit nervous as to seeing how some things perhaps are being handled coming out of washington, d.c. from what i have been hearing people are still waiting to see if there is another shoe is going to drop. and waiting to see what the evidence is going to be. they are waiting for the dissenters to make their arguments. >> last night before the comey news a story we were going to play up pretty big was the proposed mini surge in afghanistan and how that fit the american first mentality. we are going to have to have that conversation before long. >> no, i agree with that completely. there is a lot of people i think you can call it the divided right in some respects. anything that would pose a threat to the united states from what i hear everyone is on board to eliminate threats.
that's great. but what people, brian, don't want to see is people in flyover states, they don't want to see nation building. they don't want to see mistakes made in the previous two administrations under former president obama to see some of the stuff happen in libya and mistakes made in honduras, the controversy with the dick statership and their election, to see iran and egypt. they want to have that america first protect american interests. however, if there are threats to american interests that lie in afghanistan or elsewhere like for instance syria go ahead and address those particular situations. too much and people will start criticizing. >> harold ford, let's name another great american town. what do folks in lebanon, tennessee think about the firing of james comey? >> you asked senator of hawaii would ask of james comey. i think four questions. i would add to what she said first. why did he ask for more money? if the report is true, tell us why. two, did he have any conversations with the deputy attorney general outside those
closest advisers, but anyone at the justice department about the russian investigation? and three, three occasions the president said in this press release that you said he told you were free of any charges. is that true and if so why? when was the last time the president told you he had confidence in you? usair ra sanders said this has been a nine-month thing coming. to dana's point people need to see the evidence. i hope comey will come before the intelligence committee and answer those questions. >> david jolly, have you been surprised at gop stick togetherness and loyalty? and the other side of that question is which members of the republican senate are you looking to to be profiles in courage here? >> look, i think there is actually a quiet erosion of support. this is an embarrassing time to be a republican. i had local republican mayors share that with me. it is no surprise that donald trump is governing with such arrogance. and disregard for political norms. it is a surprise, though, that the gop congress is falling in line with the cover-up. i think that is the angst you are seeing at the town halls.
people are frustrated. i'm a former member of congress. for eight years we demanded accountability of barack obama and the republicans aren't doing it today. with the current president. i would say to my former colleagues in congress republicans tonight, hold donald trump to the same standard of accountability that you held barack obama. you're not doing it. you destroying your credibility and embarrassing the party. >> all right. lightning round between dana and two men willing to admit they're former members of congress. dana, the trump base made of limitless patience? >> no. it's not. we need to remember that a lot of the people that came to vote for donald trump, these are people who had previously been reliable democratic voters and loved it when the trump campaign was discussing jobs, trade, manufacturing. this is how people put food on the table. if we get too much in the weeds with controversy it will start to erode those people's trust and confidence.
2018 may look differently. 2020 may come out differently if we continue down this path. >> the firing of comey, do you think that broke through? do you think he was a figure to the folks across this country? >> i think the answers he may have to some of the key questions may -- i'm not convinced he was as big a figure as some are suggesting in washington. but he has some answers that are going to force republicans to answer the uncomfortable questions that dana raised around the edges and david attacked and put right on their front porches. >> recovering congressman jolly, do you think republicans can get to 51 on whom ever is nominated for the fbi? >> they may. look, to your question, i think the drip, drip, drip of credibility is ultimately going to undermine this president with his base. brian, earlier in the hour you asked a question, who is going to be the howard baker? who is going to confront this president and say you've lost your base. the rich irony of this is going to be his own daughter. the only person he listens to is ivanka, and she has her pulse on
the public opinion of her father, and it's eroding. she is the one that will have to approach him with his impeachable moment. >> his name is richard burr. >> two former members of congress and one woman with enough sense to have never run. thank you all very much. i'm sorry. our time was short tonight. we had a ton of news breaking on our watch. a reminder lester holt sits down with president trump tomorrow. we will have that for you tomorrow night. tonight on "all in." >> why did you fire director comey? >> because he wasn't doing a good job very simply. >> james comey was asking for more resources to investigate the trump campaign in the days before he was fired. >> the president, over the last several months, lost confidence in director comey. >> tonight, beyond the white house spin, what we now know about why comey was fired as the