tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBC December 30, 2017 9:00am-9:30am PST
happy new year to you. good day, i'm sheinelle jones at msnbc world headquarters in new york. alex witt is off today. it's high noon in the east, 9:00 a.m. out west. here's what's happening overseas, north korea and iran sending messages to president trump. one on nuclear weapons, the other on so-called u.s. meddling. fact check. president trump's interview with "the new york times" under fresh scrutiny. separating fact from fiction in the 30 minutes they spoke. >> when the president walked in still in his golf clothes, he introduced "the new york times" reporter to the president andy abled this 30-minute sitdown with no aides that happened. plus the scramble and shock when aides learned the president was in the midst of an unscheduled chat with "the times." later, big chill. historic and bitter cold sweeps across the country. a look at what could be a record-setting new year. but we begin overseas. new this hour two world hot spots sending a message to the
u.s. and president donald trump. first, a short time ago iran slamming america and the president for weighing in on street protests in that country. those rare anti-government protests have been under way for the past two days in iran. also new today north korea issuing a report aimed at the u.s. warning against any expectation of change in pyongyang's nuclear policy next year. all this as there's more fallout from president trump's impromptu interview with "the new york times." let's start with garrett haake who's following the president in west palm beach, florida. garrett, first, any reaction to those over seas messages from iran and north korea? >> reporter: not yet this morning, sheinelle. the president is at his golf course once again this morning, but as you pointed out, right now this president away from the white house but right in the middle of two major global hot spots. first on iran, the president tweeting last night telling the iranian regime that the world is watching these protests there and saying that the iranian people need to be able to speak out. the iranians pushing back hard,
calling the president's comments deceitful and opportunist. this is a recurring theme going back to the obama administration that any time there are street protests in eiran, there's a question in the united states, how much does the u.s. government support those speaking out and risk being drawn into this and the protesters being painted as some kind of puppet. on the north korean side, north korea saying they won't stop their nuclear development. they are pushing back against the united states. this is sort of the new version of the same talking points from the north koreans but it highlights just what a perplexing problem north korea is for this administration as they try to tighten the screws economically. all of this coming from ships smuggling fuel into north korea, russian and chinese ships. the president has to find a way to keep up that economic pressure. that's going to be a major topic going forward. while donald trump is down here in palm beach and when he returns to the white house.
>> we'll have to watch that in the weeks and months ahead. now to that impromptu interview with "the new york times." so it's true, right, no white house aide really knew what was happening? and is there any fallout to that? >> reporter: well, the white house aides found out in realtime. michael schmidt, "the new york times" reporter, said the president was interrupted by a phone call from hope hicks back in washington asking about the interview. it continued a pace. this is part and parcel of how the president operates, particularly when he's away from the white house. he's going to set the media schedule and he's going to decide when and where he wants to speak out. we see it in washington all the time. no formal news conferences, it's very rare for the president to schedule something on his own to come speak, but he's perfectly happy to come to the microphones on his way to and from marine one when he wants to speak his mind. this is an extreme example of that, given that there was no one around who could have pulled the plug on the interview if things kind of went off the rails, but it's not unusual for
the president to decide, especially with a reporter who he is personally familiar with, that he just wants to talk. and the white house knows there's not much they can do to stop that, particularly when he's away from the structure of the white house. >> it was pretty fascinating. good reporting, thank you, garrett. joining me now, erin del moore and asaid herndon from "the boston globe." good afternoon to both of you. >> hi. >> good afternoon. >> erin, did anything in that "new york times" interview surprise you? >> sure. taken as a whole, there were an overwhelming number of faulse hoods. 24 in a 30-minute interview. that is one false or misleading statement every 75 seconds. it covered the russia investigation all the way to plans for the year ahead. jam packed full of information and misinformation. >> let's kind of take it a step at a time. let's look at "the washington post" who points out 24 false or
misleading claims in that interview and goes on, including statements he made about there being collusion between russia and the democrats, that he has the right to do whatever he wants with the justice department and that he knows more about taxes and health care than anyone. erin, does he really believe what he's saying or is this a calculated spin, if you will? >> it is consistent. the president has said for a long time that he is specially equipped to tackle x, y and z. it could be immigration, health care or infrastructure reform. it seems consistent that he believes this but who is heap surrounding himself with? who does he have working with him? what inclinations has he shown that he wants to make a bipartisan deal as he said. you've got to look not only at words but at actions. >> let's take a turn a little bit. let's talk about his response on mueller and him saying, quote, i think that he's going to be fair. it's different from past statements where he called the investigation a witch hunt. do you think trump is heeding
calls not to attack the special counsel? >> it's tough to say. we've seen over the course of this administration that sometimes in individual moments the president will show restraint and the president will heed the advice of lawyers and others who say that he should not speak out and lash out against robert mueller and the special investigation, but then when you have him in other moments, maybe when he has been worked up, maybe when he has seen a specific tweet or tv segment that has riled him up, he's thrown that all out of the window and used that more harsh terminology to describe the special counsel investigation. so you -- it's tough to say whether this is a turning point for the president or this is just another blip in the road. we have to take that in context and down the line and see if this is really a change of rhetoric. i'd be skeptical. >> trump again expressing disappointment with attorney general jeff sessions' recusal from the russia investigation. let's take a look at what he said when asked if former attorney general eric holder was
more loyal to president obama. he said, quote, i don't want to
get into loyalty, but i will tell you that. i will say this, holder protected president obama. when you look at the things that they did, and
holder protected the president. and i have great respect for that. i'll be honest, i have great respect for that. is this his way of again criticizing sessions here in your opinion? and what would it take to bridge this widening really rift between them? >> this has been consistent for months. you have seen that something that really irks president trump is that jeff sessions recused himself from that russia investigation which put separation between the white house and led to special counsel robert mueller. he said according to former fbi director comey that he needs loyalty and asks for that. so you see interesting things in that statement. you see he doesn't want to talk about loyalty. he has learned and heeded the advice that was maybe a bad word to say when he talked to fbi director comey, but he's still
using the language of that similar relationship. he's saying, well, eric holder was -- protected the president. even though he's not using the words loyalty, he's using similar things and that shouldn't surprise us. president trump throughout his entire political career and throughout this administration has ultimately valued the people who he felt stuck closest to him through thick and thin, whether he is right or wrong, telling truth or lies. what he has valued is who is sticking with him no matter what. he has applied that same logic to attorney general sessions. whether that can be mended, whether that rift can be mended, remains to be seen. >> why don't i have both of you look at this. axios unveiled some of the concerns people have surrounding trump in 2018. believe it or not, the russia investigation wasn't one of them. they're more worried about trump's instincts taking over and seeing what one person said was the full trump. i'm ask both of you really and
start with you. is there a piece to him that we haven't seen? what is the full trump? i thought we've seen it. >> we don't know. i mean we are in an unprecedented situation. this is a president who has not held political office before and who is known to be unpredictable at times. and so especially in times of crisis and especially moments where he feels he is under threat, those are when we have seen what we thought has been the full trump but it remains to be scene whether that is the extent of whether he's willing to test the limits of his power. i would say on the note of axios kind of survey that we've seen consistently that people outside of the beltway have mixed feelings about the russia investigation. the russia investigation is a muddled story line to them. they understand facets, but maybe not necessarily each dip and turn. that is when you see the other concerns about trump really take over, the tweeting, the kind of inflammatory statements, the emboldening of white
supremacists and others after charlottesville. that's what's stuck on a lot of other people's minds even when they can't parse out collusion or no collusion. >> erin, do you think we've seen the full trump? is there a part of his style or personality or character we haven't seen? >> this is why interviews like this week's with "the new york times" is so important. this is trump unfiltered. when you have an interview that ranges 30 minutes that was unscheduled and that aides aren't a part of and working to manipulate or drive the conversation, you get to see a closer look at who the president might be most authentically. that's why mar-a-lago is such a f fascinating place to watch him. he is hungry for paid back. you see that with the way he engages with social media, with the way that he engages with the news and you can see the way the people around him shape his opinions. something like a 30-minute candid sitdown with "the new york times," invaluable. >> stay right there, i want to talk to you about a reported meeting president trump is expected to have with congressional leaders. we'll do that coming up in just
a bit. still ahead, president trump changing his tune as we just mentioned on bob mueller. does he believe the russia probe will be fair or is it a witch hunt as he said in the past? we'll ask a republican congressman what he thinks, next. dry mouth has been a problem for me. i just drank tons of water all the time, it was never enough. my dentist suggested biotene. my mouth felt more lubricated. i use the biotene rinse and then i use the spray. biotene did make a difference. [heartbeat]
offensi offensive. i think it is disgusting and offensive that my former colleagues and fox news and everybody is maligning robert mueller. but they aren't doing that if the president didn't want them to. >> joe walsh calling out members of his party for their escalating attacks on special counsel robert mueller, despite president trump telling "the new york times" he thinks mueller is going to be fair in his investigation of russia. let's bring in charlie dent of pennsylvania. thank you for joining us this afternoon.
let's start with your reaction to what your former colleague said there. do you think president trump is orchestrating these attacks while at the same time appearing to take the high road himself? >> well, sheinelle, i cannot say whether or not the president is orchestrating those attacks but i will tell you that i believe director mueller is a man of integrity, that he will conduct a thorough and fair investigation. i think some of my colleagues ought to let director mueller do this is work. i understand that people in the fbi as throughout the government have political opinions and biases and i think they should keep them to themselves. that said, the issue before us is did anybody who had a political bias, do they let that get in the way of their work. will they carry out their work thoroughly and fairly. and most fbi agents are professional, notwithstanding whatever political opinions they may have. there were two instances where biases were divulged and director mueller dealt with them quickly. removed one and demoted the
other. i think we ought to let mueller do his work and we'll see where the chips fall. we see what he finds before we all hyperventilate. >> i wanted to ask you why you think this is happening, if you think it's political bias. if we push back a little bit, how do we go from widespread praise by members of your party to calls for mueller's head and a purge of the fbi. what's behind this? >> well, i suspect some allies of the president are perhaps trying to cast some doubt on the investigation so that when the findings are ultimately divulged and revealed that they think it might bring some taint to the overall process. like i said, i think that the republican party has traditionally stood as strong allies of law enforcement, both at the federal level as well as at the state and local levels. i don't think that we should be engaged in attacks on the fbi, knowing that we may be
undermining them in some way, so i think this is -- this is a short-term strategy that will not play well over the long term. >> president trump is still catching a lot of flak for telling "the new york times," quote, i have absolute right to do what i want with the justice department. let me play you what a conservative blogger, jennifer rubin, said on msnbc earlier and then we'll talk. >> these are not people who are going to step out and say to the president, listen, that's a totally inappropriate statement. we are a country of laws, not of men. so i would be shocked if one of them summoned up the courage to say anything about this. >> do you get the impression president trump feels, i don't know, emboldened by congressional republicans to say these things? >> well, i'm not sure that he feels emboldened. to a certain extent the president does have authority over the justice department and the fbi. he can appoint and fire the attorney general as he did with the fbi director. he has that authority. that's true. but we are a country of laws, as
jennifer rubin just stated. we are a country of laws, these are professional people, and the job of the president is to be the chief law enforcement officer of the country. we have professional people in there at justice and fbi to help us carry out that mission. so i would say that there is a constraint that the president, like all the rest of us, are constrained by the law. >> democratic congressman steve cohen was on our show last month and he told us he knows of one republican that would sign on to his articles of impeachment which goes to obstruction of justice. going back to jennifer rubin's point about the lack of courage in the gop, how concerned are you colleagues won't punish president trump if he fires robert mueller? >> i think that would set up a political firestorm, an earthquake, so to speak. think back to the watergate days when president nixon fired a special prosecutor at the time
and that set off quite a storm then. so i don't think it would be in anyone's interests to see the president fire director mueller. as i said, mueller is a man of integrity and ought to be permitted to conduct his investigation. i think he has the ability to do that fairly. and we ought to just let this thing take its course. frankly, if i were the president, my advice to him would be that he says he's done nothing wrong. well, the answer should simply be, i've done nothing wrong. let director mueller carry out his investigation. i'll be exonerated, next question. >> do you have any colleagues that would sign on or no? >> on to what, articles of impeachment? >> yes. >> at this point, no. i don't see anybody doing that. i've been through this -- i served under three presidents. presidents george w. bush, barack obama and now donald trump. i remember when dennis kucinich used to go to the house floor with articles of impeachment against george w. bush and we would immediately table them.
during barack obama's administration, we had in 2016 republicans wanting to impeach the irs commissioner. we tabled that. and now we have some democrats going to the floor with articles of impeachment on donald trump. those have been tabled as well. as i said, let's -- let's just let director mueller finish his work, finish his investigation before we come to any conclusions. >> let me squeeze in another topic here. let's turn to immigration reform. president trump telling democrats he won't consider a daca fix for d.r.e.a.m.ers unless they agree to a wall. isn't he setting himself up for a fight that he could lose with republicans who say they too wanting a daca fix? >> i believe there will be a daca fix. in fact early in the new year, there will be an attempt to probably try some, i'll say, reasonable border security measures with the d.r.e.a.m.ers. when i'm talking about border security, i'm talking about doing things to help establish better operational control of the border. we're not talking about a
2,000-mile long concrete wall. in fact congressman will herd, republican from texas, is working with the hispanic caucus on some language right now to help create a smart wall, so to speak, as well as a helping the d.r.e.a.m.ers. many of us wanti to see this agreement. it's not going to be a wall per se but enhanced border security measures. >> i was going to ask you to talk for us about your decision to retire but i'm out of time. do you feel liberated at all or what does it feel like? >> it feels -- look, i've been thinking about this since 2013, ever since the government shutdown i started talking about ending my time in congress. and all i can say, no, i feel very liberated. frankly i spoke pretty candidly and honestly prior to my announcement i'm not going to seek re-election. i'm going to continue to do
that. once i'm out of congress, i'll going to continue to bring voice to the issues i feel passionately about. >> charlie dentin, thank you fo your time and happy new year. >> happy new year. the white house is kicking off 2018 with by part shan talks. how far will they go? we'll ask our panel, next. i wanted to know who i am and where i came from. i did my ancestrydna and i couldn't wait to get my pie chart. the most shocking result was that i'm 26% native american. i had no idea. just to know this is what i'm made of,
new today, the white house planning to kick off the new year with bipartisan talks. politico is reporting the top four congressional leaders who meet wednesday with senior white house officials to talk government spending and immigration. let's bring back our panel. erin del moore and asaid herndon. the president has stressed over and over again there won't be a daca plan without the wall being part of it. how will this complicate negotiations? >> it will significantly complicate negotiations. that's a nonstarter for democrats. they will not be seen as aiding for what they think is a reprehensible idea in terms of the wall. so even though both sides have talked about providing a daca fix and keeping children here in
this country who had no choice to be here, that is going to be complicated by the president's request. someone is going to have to give, otherwise it's not going to be solved. >> erin, what's your outlook on 2018, any chance we can see republicans and democrats working together to pass legislation? >> the republicans and the democrats i've talked to, including the highest members in office, have said that finding a solution for the d.r.e.a.m.ers is top of list. it's absolutely something they want to do. but there are deep and real divisions over how they want to get that done. now, as we were saying, building that wall is a nonstarter for democrats, but you still see everyone coming to the table this week to see them hammering out the issues. there are a number of things that were held over from december. government spending, long-term funding for chip, not to mention the health care proposals that were promised for gop members of congress. starting off the year on the wrong foot won't help them get anything done. >> good discussion today. that will do it for me for now.
2017 was the year of donald trump. america's businessman president who brought fame and infamy to washington politics like nothing we've seen before. >> that's for sure. it has been wild and crazy from health care to taxes while all the stock market refused to quit. so this is your year-ending recap, "velshi & ruhle" style. >> i'm ali velshi. >> and i'm stephanie ruhle. welcome to a special year-end edition of "velshi & ruhle." you know what we're talking about, president trump. he's a bona fide media