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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  July 22, 2017 2:00am-3:00am PDT

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of the 146 people whose names have been put forward by other jobs by the white house, only 50 have been confirmed. that is our broadcast on a friday night and for this week. thank you for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters in new york. spicer splits, let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm steve kornacki in for chris matthe matthews. the spicer show over t. white house press secretary known for his combative stance with the press was mocked by "saturday night live" and other late night show, they became a form of must-see television, his performance at the podium was reportedly criticized by the president, himself. spicer's message was
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occasionalally undermined hours later, rumors have been out for weeks or months. the ends came with the white house communications director. anthony scar interest amucci arc long-time wall street financier and loyalist who served on the team. spicer has threatened to quit, chief of staff reince priebus opposed the move. the president, though, chose him anyway. in an interview, sean spicer downplayed any tension in the west wing, take a look. >> he wanted to bring if new people, and after reflection, my decision was i recommended to the president i give an thoin and sarah a clean slate to start from. >> today the newly named white house pressing is sarah huckaby sanders red questions on spicer and scaramucci.
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>> i am grateful for sean's work on behalf of my administration and the american people. i wish him continued success. look at his great television ratings. anthony is a person i have great respect for. he will be an important addition to this administration. he has been a great supporter and will now help implement key aspects of our agenda. we have accomplished so much. we are given credit for so little t. good news is the people get it even if the media doesn't. >> joining ne mou, two white house correspondents who spent months in those meetings, glen tlush and it thereco's annie carney. let's start with spicer, we saw that clip. he went to fox news for an interview, it sounds like he will be the good soldier here, a lot of expectations when that first news broke, whoa, wait until he gives the first tell-all interview. it certainly doesn't sound like that's coming, tell us about
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what led him to leave, if you expect that will be the posture going forward? nothing negative to say about trump? >> look, spicer has been a flack in this town for going on 15 to 20 years. he's had a long career in the naval reserve him i'm not expecting him to run around ranting and raving. we know his public account is at we would say at variance with the factual record. he was very upset that the president picked scaramucci, he was going to layer him over with him. in general, this is not just a battle about scaramucci and spice,er. it moves up the lane, ryan priebus, sean's patron is in the crosshairs of jared kushner and other people in the white house. this more than anything else represents the diminution of his power, scaramucci i should say has a very easy relationship
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with the president he's a peer, not a peer, a rich guy, good looking. the president listens to what he has to say. the fact of the matter is, steve bannon, the chief strategist and reince priebus do feel threatened by scaramucci who now represents a new power center in the west wing, as if we needed another one. >> let's follow up on that point. >> that has been a lot of the topic of the conversation today, it's about what does this say about bannon, his influence, maybe waning influence, what does it say about priebus? he came out and said he is behind this movement. take us inside there, play this out a bit a. lot of people look at this and say this is maybe the start, scaramucci's influence grows, those other two fade out? is that the expectation or the talk right now? >> it's a new prime player here, scaramucci is someone who has been talked about as a
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replacement for reince as chief of staff. our reporting shows ryan priebus and bannon were both upset with his addition to the team today. reince is trying to play nice. i think he's going on a joint interview tonight on fox to show that they're brothers, as scaramucci called him in the briefing today. but it's the shakeup also that's a long-time coming. we have been talking about spicer moving out of this role since trump's first foreign trip. and spicer is sort of setting the stage that he might leave for months with reporters, say figure he didn't get control of the entire communications department, if this doesn't go the way he wanted, he might walk. so his walking is in reaction to scaramucci, himself, it was planned before his name was totally in the mix nor this job. but it's certainly another prime player who is as ambitious as
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the jared and reince crew that has been dukeing about since january. >> i think we got hal le jackson, chief white house correspondent with us, there she is. >> reporter: hi. >> thank you for taking a few minutes. let me ask you this, i think a lot of people we heard the news, this might happen, it was confirmed today. then he shows up in that briefing room today. i have to say, just looking at sort of the style of the presentation today, scaramucci seemed more poised, more polished, more glib, certainly than we are acuss told to seeing in the spicer briefings in the last few months, fiunderstand this right, this is not the role he will be playing, sarah huckaby sanders will be the one every day in front of the press? >> reporter: correct. don't be surprised if he does television. >> that is his strength. that's what the president likes to see, even though it will be sarah huckaby doing the briefings. this may be a different role.
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i will apologize for being late, i lil' literally sprinted up the driveway. i was sharing a conversation with senior officials. let me share with you, number one, regarding anthony scaramucci's performance are you references him, i am told surprisingly from a source close to the president, he thought he did a nice job, he was clean for the performance. i think people watching that, could have predicted that would be the president's reaction, he played to the cameras, he joked. he was fairly smooth with the reporters at the assembled meeting. sitting in that briefing room, that felt like week one, the front row all standing up, doing live shots at the same time, networks cutting in for special reports. we haven't necessarily seen that level of interest in a long time, since the comey firing i think for a particular briefing. this being on camera, with scaramucci made it a fairly big deal. let me walk through what i have
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learned how the tic-toc went down. someone knows how this unfolded between sean spicer, anthony scar? a -- scaramucci, had a conversation with him. i am told it was fairly impromptu. the president likes his ideas. he directed his team to physical out a way to get him on board. he's going to come on to the team t. idea was going, we want to figure out a way to make this work. at that meeting in the oval frs that was directed to senior staff members. >> that is my understanding. scaramucci is coming on. at that point sean spicer walked into his office, printed out his res ig nation and had a conversation with the president. i am told the chief of staff was present for part of that conversation towards the end of it. at that point sean spicer offered the resignation letter. i know have you breaking news, toss it back to you. >> thanks, for. that you thought of it being
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7:00 on the east coast on a friday night in the middle of summer would insulate us from breaking news, in the last few minutes, a new report in the walk post it says russia's ambassador to washington told his superiors in moscow he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issue, important to moscow with jeff sessions during the 2016 presidential race, that would be contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general. this information the washington post is getting, they are sourcing to current and former u.s. officials, let's bring in ken delaney, national intelligence reporter for ms nbc, ken, i am skimming the story now. i think along with a lot of people out there. what can you tell us about what exactly is being reported here? >> reporter: sure, steve, i'll bottom lean it for you. this is a major development. there is an important qualification here. this story says the russian
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ambassador sergei kislyak told his superiors that he and jeff sessions had this conversation and that that was picked up by american intelligence agencies. it doesn't prove the conversation actually happened and sessions admirably denies it. this goes back to the april 2016 encounter at the mayflower hotel that other news organizations reported on. we reported a few weeks ago, congress and the fbi were interested in this meeting. don't forget, there was a trump campaign event at this hotel, sergei kislyak the russian ambassador was there. there was a vip session. jeff sessions was there jared kushner was there. sessions said he had no meaningful encounter with kislyak during this event. that's where it stood. then we began hearing rumblings there was some everyday there was a meeting between session and kislyak. we and others reported that congress and the fbi were investigating that.
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now the post is saying based on this single intelligence, kislyak reported back to his bosses in moscow, he had a meeting, an encounter with sessions that they talked about substantive campaign issues, which is important, trump's position on moscow and other things that would be of great importance to the russian government. sessions is adamantly denying this as the post reported. just because kislyak reported it back to his superiors doesn't prove it happened. u.s. officials are trying to weigh this evidence and determine what exactly happened and whether it's true. >> let me make this clear, sexes adamantly denied, if he was denying there was any kind of conversation or is sexes acknowledging, hey, yes, there was some kind of conversation that tangent usually involved the campaign -- tan gentially involved in the campaign? >> you are asking interesting questions, his people were
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denying any meaningful encounter took place, wednesday he was asked under oath and testified before congress, he did hedge about this he said i can't recall every conversation, i don't recall meeting sergei kislyak, it might have happened. under oath, he didn't explicitly deny any conversation. but if there was a substantive meaningful conversation about the trump campaign of interest to the russians, that would be a hard thing for anyone seemingly to fail to recall. especially when he had already gotten into trouble for failing rather subsequent contacts with sergei kislyak. if it turns out this did happen, that will be a big problem. right now there isn't proof, there is signals intelligence about reporting by sergei kislyak back to moscow. >> ken delaney, a reporter, thank you for taking a few minutes and updating us, let's stay on this story, go back to our panel. glen, i know we called you on to talk a little about the
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communications shot. look at this, news happens even on a friday night and this administration seems to happen always on a friday nit. let me ask you, jeff sessions, obviously his own status in this administration has been called into question by the president's comments, what do you think a story like this could do? >> reporter: well, actuallysh steve this intersects with the sean spicer-scaramucci story? how is scaramucci going to deal with this different than anyone else in the situation? for instance the aftermath of the comey firing, which halle alluded to? these things keep on happening. and the president, obviously, sat down with three members of our staff this week and really dumped all over his attorney general at a moment of great vulnerability for jeff sessions. jeff sessions is not exactly in the greatest light in the senate right now. republican senators are angry
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about his failure to disclose things during his confirmation hearing. so sessions now is facing a double squeeze as revelation like this come out, he will continue to get hit by investigators, by democrats and republicans on the hill and at the same time, the president remains angry at him for recusing himself, which set into motion this whole change of events of the appointment of robert mueller, sessions is if a tight situation. what it raises the questions of, if sessions isn't there, who could the president get through the senate as attorney general? and who would want that job? >> halle jackson, that issue of russia did come up a little with anthony scaramucci, he said to defer to the white house counsel on it t. idea to bring him in for the operations, is there any sense? is there a new strategy? do they have a different strategy to deal with these
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questions? >> reporter: it's sort of early days, you are right, this was brought up opleekly with scaramuci, he said he hasn't been briefed on it or had in-depth discussions he says with members of the white house staff, particularly the white house counsel. when you talk about the strategy related to russia, we have already seen a shift in strategy here, that is this, marc kasowitz reported first thing this morning, his day has come full circle is stepping away from leading the counsel's outside team. i am told kasowitz will be providing guidance to the president. at this point now the operation is kind of up and running, they're handing offer, essentially, tac tagging out to john dowd, who will be leading that team to ty cobb who will be working on the inside, he has not started that position. we don't, picture that to happen for another couple weeks down the road, he is wrapping up his business before he moves into the white house. jay seculo has been the public
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face, like this one, i will note i will reach out to the washington post story. we will update you. remember, they are buddies, old friends as anthony scaramucci said today. so i think this will be if not the top issue he will be trying to figure out. do you handle it off to ty cobb? you will have to have a communications strategy, so far it's been put a wall ween the white house and outside counsel, refer all questions to outside counsel. i have a feeling we will continue to see that at least somewhat in these coming days. >> looking at scaramucci in that briefing room, how he is reporting the president was pleased with the performance today, the question that hovers over this appointment like all others, for how long? this is a president who seems to lose patience or interest or confidence in folks he surroundles himself with, fairly
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quickly. i'm thinking right now with jeff sessions, jeff sessions went way out on a limb on the campaign last year to endorse him early. not many members of the republican establishment in washington were willing to do that. now you got the president openly saying, hey, i wish i hadn't appointed the guy. scaramucci looks like he's off to a good start. realistically, how long is this going to last? >> who is to say? siems people stay around longer than you think they with will. i think the downgrade of kasowitz is more significant. this is trump firing a long-time loyalist, a lawyer who has worked for him for decade. i think that shows they know they have a serious legal problem on their hands, that a guy who goes to fork court for you isn't the guy to go up against mueller's team, the "new york times" and washington post reported they have been dock extensive research into people on mueller's team. i think this is significant.
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he is making a change by actually firing a long-time loyalist, showing the number one quality he cares about loyalty isn't what he's going to promote right now, which in terms of having a legal defense team ready to take on this is probably smart. >> all right. annie carn nip, ken delelaneyde thank you to all for joining us, a lot more on this breaking news tonight the walk post reporting again jeff sexes the attorney general last year as a senator discussed trump campaign-related matters with the russian ambassador. >> that is according to u.s. intelligence intercepts. >> that story breaking right now in the washington post and all around the political world. this is requested hartball" where the action is. scaramucci.
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>> we are getting more news on jeff sessions, it's a busy night, all sorts of stories breaking right now. we are on top of them. we will be back to tell you more right after this. who knew that phones would start doing everything?
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when you choose by the gig or unlimited. call or go to xfinitymobile.com. xfinity mobile. it's a new kind of network, designed to save you money. seculo. all right. welcome back to "hardball." we continue to follow this late-breaking news in the washington post, a report despite assertions jeff sessions may have discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues, they warn u.s. officials if sessions provided quote misleading statements contradicted by other evidence, for more, we are joined by ashley parker, a white house reporter for the washington post. rory melber. all right. let me start with you, i feel we should maybe try to back up here at least for a second. we got a very explosive headline here f. you play this out you
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can play it out in a way that is dire for the tomorrow administration, tell white house we do know for sure reading this and some of the questions left unresolved. >> i think as you question very carefully points out, this is something that sounds really bad, because it is the suggestion, at least according to one u.s. anonymous official jeff sessions being a bit further misleading what he discussed with the russian ambassador. sounds bad. the problem here, what is potentially a good defense for the white house is the washington post is relying on an intercept of russia's version of events, that might be accurate or not. russia completely on a separate category with saying something. would we accept it as 100% true, probably not true? you and i were speaking maybe the russian ambassador is trying to impress his bosses, while this merits a lot more study, we should be clear the underlying sources is more or less heresay about a russian source. >> so play that out there from
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the standpoint of any investigation to figure out what happened. if there is no recording of this sessions' conversation with the ambassador, there anyway to piece it together? >> yes, it is, we would expect a special counsel to take something like this hot in the headlines and corroborate and investigate if they see investigative interests. we hard they are looking at the meeting with don jr. and the russian nationals who previously represented russian interest. this is obviously the kind of thing that can be of interest. the interviews could include people that know about the meeting, contemporaneous records made at the time, the special counsel would sit down with jeff sessions and self compare that to the transcript and physical out who is telling the truth. >> anthony parker, one of the issues when a story look this breaks, one of the issues jeff sessions has to contend with, when it comes to conversations with russian officials, he has been less than forthcoming in
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the past. >> that exactly right. i mean, one of the reasons he had to recuse himself in the first place, which put him in this very tough situation with the president was because he had failed to mention two meetings with kislyak, the russian ambassador. so already his credibility is pretty much shot and being put in the position where you mentioned earlier on his show, a lot of his former congress, fors are frustrating he was misleading to them when he testified. the president is furious with him for recusing himself, which trump believes basically ended up with the appointment of mueller as special prosecutor and a lot of people at the fbi and justice department are very upset with him because they also blame him for the firing of comey. so it's hard to see where his allies are. there take us through the politics in the white house right now, if donald trump regrets the pick of jeff sessions, doesn't feel he had
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his back, they raised an issue, hey, look, if sessions resigns, if trump were to fire sessions, that would cause a storm, republicans don't have many votes to spare in the senate. we saw that on the health care dispute, would it be possible to get a new attorney general confirmed or would they look at that and say if we want to get rid of him, we couldn't get a replacement right now? >> right. it's an incredibly tricky situation. so far every time the president has fired someone in that world or threatened to fire someone, it set off a real firestorm with actual legal ramifications potentially and not just you know shaking up his communications staff. and also it's a tricky situation because in general the president likes a fighter. so normally what the president would want would be for jeff sessions to fight something like this but as we reported the other day, after the president gave this interview to the "new york times" on wednesday where
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he salvaged his attorney general in quite public terms, senior officials were stunned jeff sessions didn't resign. so the president might be possibly more opened to that or not inclined to support him right now when he perhaps needs it the most. >> the justice department put out a statement. the spokesperson for jeff sessions, she says, quoting heresh obviously, ki not comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept the washington post has not seen and it has not been provided to me. but the attorney general stand by his testimony last month be every the senate intelligence committee when he specifically addressed it, saying he never met with or had any conversations with any russians or foreign officials with any interference with a campaign or election. ari, looking at that, suggestion here, campaign-related discussion s, that is a very broad umbrella of what could
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potentially fall under that. >> yeah. i think you make an important point t. argument is because they touched on the campaign, it's misleading, and we have to look into that. ultimately what you see here is a discussion of pafkally what i described here as in the washington post article, which i'm obviously looking at as campaign issues. so take a contrast to the infamous don jr. meeting where a terrible epa ill from a foreign -- someone claiming to represent a foreign power and offer dirt on hillary clinton. this is not that. this is saying we talked about the prospects for relations between russia and the trump administration if there were to be one. to be clear that underlying conversation ois of that thing, our colleague was saying whether it was lied about it, sessions lied about it. the idea would be if he had this conversation is in itself alone problematic. >> i said this would be a big piece of breaking news we weren't expecting today. there is more, i think you can take us through this, there is
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new financial disclosure information coming out from jared kushner the president's son-in-law, tell us about that. >> this is very interesting t. office of government ethics, which recently got attention, the director resigned early, saying he couldn't make progress he felt under this administration has this formal rule, every administration of going over all the property, all the assets of different individuals. so kushner has a legal obligation to work with him on the filing, previously we were able to obtain e-mails and showed he complied and did a good job. the new thing breaking now the "wall street journal" reported it. he missed dozens and dozens of assets, alone that wouldn't be a big deal, if are you very wealthy you might miss a few lawyers call in good faith. >> that is not on hiding, not on purpose t. problem here, when you look at this story, steve, it seems like every time he has to make a legal filing, he is missing not one, not five, but
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dozens, dozens of things that he has to, do which his lawyers presumably are supposed to help him do right. so there is an emerging pattern of jared kushner fought there because of his acumen or government service, he is there because he is a family member. in is nepotism. now with foreign nationals, his own assets, his own loanssh when it comes to his property holdings related to goldman sachs is one of the things here, he has to keep update. the question is why? >> news about jeff sessions, aed jared kushner, the news is the shakeup, an extremely dizzy friday. thank you both for joining us. a little plug, ari's new show "the beat." it will premier right before this show. much more to come on this thing. breaking night of news, this is "hardball." where the action is.
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president trump calling the future bright after spicer resigned as pressing is friday. it came after he announced anthony scaramucci. he says he will continue his service through august. now, back to requested hardball."
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. all right. for more on tonight's news, i am joined now on the phone by one of the reporters with the washington post who broke this story about jeff sessions in a meeting with the russians during the 2016 campaign, ellen, thank you for taking a few minutes. the public statement we have had so far from jeff sessions a few months ago about this issue, he said, quote, i never had meetings with russian operatives or intermediate ayres about the trump campaign. that's the on the record concession of sessions, that is the accuracy called into question by the story you are reporting. tell us exactly what you know, when was this meeting in question and what do you know about what was exactly said during it? >> reporter: that's right. what we know is that jeff sessions met with the russian ambassador sergei kislyak at least twice or three times last year but at least twice, times in which this ambassador kislyak
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reported back to his superiors in moscow that he had met with jeff sessions, they discussed campaign-related matters, including policy matters and what trump's policy towards russia moscow would be in a trump administration. and this contradicts public statements by jeff sessions in his confirmation hearing and june hearing later when he recuses himself from the russian investigation. >> now, again, we're getting this essentially, this is the russian standpoint that u.s. inthe el is being exposed to right there. they're capturing communications among the russians, you got kislyak telling his bosses back in moscow this. >> that's right. these are intercepts of conversations that kislyak is having with his superiors in
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moscow, not of conversations he had with sessions. so it's all possible that a diplomat will embellish a little or maybe make things up in order to make himself look better in the eyes of his superior, but from what we know of kislyak, he's got a pretty good track record of reporting accurately on his conversations and activities. >> ellen nagashima, breaking that story, thank you for taking a few minutes and filling us in. for the republican reaction to tonight's news, joined now by ms nbc host hue hewitt and republican congressman leonard lance. your reaction. you we heard the conversation i had with ellen, what do you make about this story about jeff sessions and what he has been saying before publicly about this conversation with the russians? >> welsh steve, if it's true, i think the attorney general has to resign, if it's true is a big
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f. i remind the audience of the february 14th "new york times" story that counted all the different contacts alleged to have occurred between trump campaign officials and the russians, which former fbi director comey under oath testified was in the name not true. few if there was a series of conversations between the ambassador and the attorney general and they are recorded in a foreign intelligence lawfully intercepted tape, that is the end for attorney general sessions. i think you have to look out to chicago, boeing counsel mike litig's office to right the justice. >> congressman, let me ask you the president made clear he may not have a full confidence in his attorney general as a republican as a member of congress, do you have confidence in this attorney general? >> i was the first republican on the hill that suggested the attorney general should recuse himself in matters related to
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rmpblt i'm sure this will be investigated. it's not unwe heard of for an ambassador to embellish as the reporter who has broken the story so let the kips fall where they may based upon the facts. >> so his statement at his confirmation back in march, was i never had meetings with russian operatives or russian intermediaries about the trump campaign. i guess do you see any room where he could have, the subject could have come up in anyway in the conversation where he would retain your confidence or if this, again, we're getting a sort of a vague report here, but if there was any sooind kind of conversation about the trump campaign, hey, what do you think tear position on this? does that cross the lean? >> i think that would be very problematic for the attorney general and perhaps at the reception after one of the events if the russian ambassador came up to him and said, how's the trump campaign going and he said it's going really well, i don't think that would be substantive. but let the chips fall where they may. >> you are already talking there
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about a potential scenario, who knows what will happen here? a potential scenario of a new attorney general. it is interesting the timing on this, earlier, donald trump made clear he has some regrets about appointing jeff sessions. i do wonder, we raise the question earlier with glenn thrush, not many votes to spare, how unlikely for the democrats to get behind a new trump pick attorney general. >> i think if you nominate the right person you could go to the bench, the former attorney general i mentioned judge mike at lud ig, a very successful general counsel at boeing. if it were mike lidig, i think he would if et the 52 republican votes. i don't know if any democrat would come along t. recusal the
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congressman gave umm up. they go further than they're intended to go. i think attorney general will be recused from under surveillance matters with regards to the russians and so the oil slick spread of the recuse albums a problem that might invite a reset at the department of justice so that he should not fire mr. mueller. the president should leave mr. mueller alone. he enjoys a great reputation and integrity, it would be good to have an attorney general who could supervisors everything else without the concern of spreading recusal. >> he said the president should not fire robert mueller the special count sell, do you agree with na? >> i agree and mike mccaul and chairman of the homeland security committee indicated that as well today. >> what would the consequence be in terms of the united nations if the president did that? >> it would be disturbing on capitol hill, not only with democrats, but with republicans as well. >> all right.
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you can catch the show tomorrow morning right here on this network. thanks for joining us. up next, "hardball" roundtable will be here on what has turned out to be a very busy night. we are still piecing together this breaking news, you are watching "hardball." no, please, please, oh! ♪ (shrieks in terror) (heavy breathing and snorting) no, no. the running of the bulldogs? surprising. what's not surprising? how much money aleia saved by switching to geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
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>> welcome back to "hardball" my ears perked up, maybe you we heard it, too, hue hewitt said if the washington post report is true about attorney general jeff sessions and about his conversations with the russian ambassador during last year's campaign, if that report is true, hue hewitt said, sessions should resign. let's bring in tonight's "hardball" senior editor for the "new york times," a columnist for the washington post, a senior reporter for politico. the timing on this, i can't get over.
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because up with of the stories of the week has been a president in ap unprecedented move saying i regret appointing jeff sessions attorney general. if he wants to get right rid of him. the story tonight, at least we have to see if it's true. if it's true at all, he's bought the fwroundz to do that? i mean, to be clear, cabinet president-elect bushs serve at the pleasure of the president. he could get rid of him without giving a reason? so he dsp actually need to establish why he would ditch this guy t. question is, what itself the context? how much of a blowback is he going to get from fellow republicans, if, in fact, he does fire sessions and how difficult it would be to find a replacement to get a conversation of a replacement? >> that's the issue. if you are trump, you got 52 republican votes in the senate. they couldn't get their health care bill through. if you get three deflections you are done. if you say, i'm the president, ki do it. i see it's easy to get three
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republicans to say no to a replacement. if you have grounds, if it turns out to be true, then the urgency would be a lot easier to get those 52 republicans on board. >> it would be a lot easier, don't forget they are feeling frustrated with the earlier admissions by sessions, another thing that was striking to me about the story is there was not strong pubback. obviously, we have to see whether that changes in the first 24 hours. again, there is a sort of omission or absence of a strong rationale or response, it seems the story was solid and kislyak has been trusted before with these attempts. we have to see. >> there are. look, there is one report, this is based on intercept, this is the russian side of it. there is all sort of asterisks and that issue of okay, they talked about campaign-related matters, that was a big
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umbrella. >> right. >> and there is, if this was a passing remark that kislyak is sort of overplaying for his handlers to show his bosses he is really doing something, that's one thing. what caroline said is actually very important. republicans are frustrated on the house on the congress, trump, himself, is very frustrated at this, that came out in his interview with the "new york times," to have another story come out and to keep this conversation, to keep russia in the front grounds of what people are talking about when they try to get health care through, even if this doesn't turn out to be as first reported because kislyak is unreliable. you do have grounds for jeff sessions to say this has become enough of a distraction to take himself out if that's what's wanted. remember, republicans are trying to get health care through, it's narrow, it's keeping the russia story along longer. >> anthony scaramucci was his story, the takeover, :40 on the east coast, nobody is talking
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about that. breaking news is overtaking it. this is "hardball" where the action is.
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zpleenchts get ready for this. we have another piece of breaking news to get tonight. this one about the president's son, donald trump jr., and his testimony that has been scheduled for next week. at least it had been. that story straight ahead.
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welcome back to "hardball."
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late today we learned that donald trump jr. and paul manafort will not be appearing before the senate judiciary committee next wednesday. according to the committee, both donald trump jr. and paul manafort through their attorneys have agreed to negotiate to provide the committee with documents and be interviewed by committee members and staff prior to a public hearing. therefore, we will not issue subpoenas for them tonight requiring their presence at wednesday's hearing, but reserve the right to do so in the future. we're back now. carolyn ryan, ozzy. carolyn, what do you make of this? we're not going to have the big public spectacle of manafort and trump jr. before the committee. they are going to be providing information. they are going to be interviewed, but this is now going to be a private affair. >> it's a little -- it's a loss for television networks. it was really the highest
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anticipated event testimony-wise since comey, but there's a possibility that the interviews with the staff, with the committee members could yield more in terms of some of the intrii intricacies. it feels like there's a lot to be explored in terms of his interest and ties of which we've reported recently to ukraine to pro-russian interests, and it feels like the substance there is something that really could be eager to get at. >> is there a connection between, catherine? he has this other guy glen simpson, who is behind that trump dossier that got so much attention. >> the door is still open for the others to -- how does that
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successfully dough tract attention from the potential scandal that's hovering around manafort, trump jr., and kushner? right? potentially part of the strategy here in going after simpson, grassley has said how come he has -- his firm was in charge of the dossier. it's to maybe it lock like both sides were doing something bad, and we shouldn't only be focussing our attention on the stuff that the trump campaign was doing. >> now quickly, kushner now becomes maybe a bigger story next week. >> he has a large portfolio. for him to come in and explain why he was in these meetings, what he expected, that's going to yield a lot of information. >> roundtable is staying with us. you're watching hardball.
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zbloifrmt we're back with a hardball roundtable. yont to put anybody on the spot here, but this story about jeff sessions obviously has everybody
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talking now. let's just try to play this a little bit forward. as this develops, what are you looking for? >> what i'm looking for over the next, say, 48 hours is whether there's going to be any pushback from the sessions side, any more detail because i think if there is not, you're going to hear more calls like you just heard from hugh hewitt, and i think that will take i right into the beginning of next week, which is already a high stakes week. probably a pretty uncomfortable one for the administration. this could really become intense. the pressure on sessions, if all these things remained solid, could be very intense. >> how about you, kevin? >> i'm looking to see how this plays with the trump base in that they have been convinced, it seems, so far that any of these russia stories are all conspiracy theories. it's all _#fake news. if, in fact, this is being used as an excuse to oust sessions, will the base buy it? if they think it's all a conspiracy and fake anyway? >> if sessions holds on, does schumer and democrats point to him as a recent republican that
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shouldn't throw their lot in with trump? look at sessions. >> okay. on ji, catherine, carolyn, ryan, thank you forjoining us. chris matthews will return monday night. the rachel maddow show starts right now. >> we have just had a remarkable communication from the president's top lawyer. now, the president's top lawyer on russia matters had been mark kasowitz, a new york lawyer that had represented the president recently on the fraud case and keeping mr. trump's divorce records secret. one of the many, many things that happened in toted's news concerning the president is that he was either demoted from his lead role on the president's legal team, or he has left that legal team altogether. it's not entirely clear which.

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