tv MSNBC Live With David Gura MSNBC April 21, 2018 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
but that bond was forged through bush 41 and barbara bush. and those relationships are there for the whole country to feel reassured that democrats and republicans can work together. and that when things matter -- there was a lot of talk from john meachem and jeb bush about how much barbara bush valued civility, kindness, decency. i think those messages are messages everyone in this country needs to hear right now. >> there were also members of the nixon and johnson families there. and that -- then you start stretching pletty far back in american history. >> you know, and it is a moment in an american history. it is annenic flexion point. i would be lying if i didn't sort of disclose that it kneels like the beginning of the end of an era. not just in republican politics, but in american politics. and some of the of the heavy heartedness is just missing what barbara bush did to a room. she lit it up. she brought out the
mischief-making fun. she got up from whatever polite conversations adults were having. and she was always in the corner where the fun was being had. the real talk was being dished out. the straight coop, if you will, was being dished out. but there's also her place in history. and her loss will be felt around the world and certainly by all of us who were lucky enough to know her. >> with thanks. we're so happy you are there as we're so happy every day you're part of oour on-air family as a friend and colleague around here. i know it was an emotional day for you. thank you very much for making your way to the camera after this. thanks to nicole, to joe watkins, to andrea mitchell to kelly o'donnell to chris matthews and to our viewers. there will be limited coverage of the burial ceremony though it's private and for family out
at college station, texas. we're expecting that between 70 and 90 minutes from now. we'll put it that way. but we thank you for being with us, being a part of our coverage. as you heard nicole wallace say, this momentous event, and this celebration of the life of barbara bush. we'll continue on the other side of this break.
>> mike check. president trump concerned that michael cohen may flip. some new tweets from the president. missile dismissal. north korea said it's suspending its long-range missile testing. the white house says it's progress towards peace. and james comey giving his account of the interactions he had with president trump in a new book and in newly released memos. what do the fbi director's recollections really tell us. president trump's focus is on
"the new york times" over a new story suggesting that the president's long-time personal attorney michael cohen may not remain loyal much longer. jeff bennett joins us live from west palm beach, florida, where the president has spent the week. we' been saying through the last few hours, president trump did not travel to houston for that funeral for barbara bush. his wife did attend that funeral. what has the president of the united states been up to today? >> he went golfing this morning. on the way to the golf course, he fired off a few tweets. to put this in context, it was last monday the president de. >> announcer:ed the fbi raids of michael cohen, his long-final attorney, friend and fixer as an attack on our country. fast forward today, the president in a series of tweets attacked a new york times story that participants a picture of all the reasons why michael cohen might flip on the president and cooperate with federal investigators. cohen as we know is under criminal investigation for his business dealings, at least in
part tied to some of the work he's done for the president. so first, i'm going to read a quick excerpt from "the new york times" so you get a sense of what's fuelling the president's frustration and fury. then we'll hit the dweets. "the new york times" write, mr. trump's lawyers and advisers have become resigned to the strong possibility that mr. cohen, who has a wife and two children, and faces the prospect of devastating legal fees, if not criminal charges, could end up cooperating with federal officials who are investigating him for activity that could relate at least in part to work he did for mr. trump. so earlier this morning, right before 9:00 eastern, the president says this. "the new york times" in a third-rate reporter maggie haberman, known as a crooked h flunkie who i don't speak to and have nothing to do with are going out of their way to dedetroit michael cohen and his relationship with me in the hope he will flip. they use nonexistent sources a ena drunk drugged up source who hates michael. michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who i've
always liked and respected. most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. sorry, i don't see michael doing that despite the horrible witch hunt and dishonest media. a couple of things. we see president trump critic e criticizing maggie haberman. she just received a pulitzer prize for her work. this michael cohen predicament bothers him more than almost any other issue or scandal facing him. in part because he has such little transparency into and control over this investigation that's being carried out by new york prosecutors. add to that the fact that multiple sources close to president trump and michael cohen tell us that if cohen is dpased with significant jail time or even significant legal charges he is inclined to not remain loyal to president trump. that said, michael cohen for his part has denied any wrong doing.
>> i mentioned north korea at the top of the show, but get us up to speed on what's transfired over the last 24 hours. the president quoting a state news report about what the leader in that country has decided to do. how much of that game changer is that in this white house? >> they say it's fwairly significant. even though experts are cautioning that it's not that big of a surprise. but the president called it big progress. and you can see here, as members of the administration are trying to put all the pieces in place for this potential sit-down between president jump and kim jong-un that this is important. and of course there's a huge gamble here. you heard the president say if if the talks aren't fruitful he'll walk away. if the president goes into this meeting and something goes south and the president gets rolled, well, then he will have effectively crowned kim jong-un his equal without having anything to show for it.
david? >> another summit between south and north korea. jeff bennett in west palm beach, florida. eugene, let me just have you react to what you've soon this morning. the ink hardly dry on the pulitzer prize. calling her out on twitter, seemingly, evidently very worried about michael cohen who faced a storm of legal trouble two weeks ago. >> if the president is as innocent as he says he is, there's absolutely nothing to worry about. you can't flip on someone if you have act absolutely nothing to flip. but he seems really concerned about the integrity the investigation. the report in "the new york times" didn't paint trump in the most favorable light in terms of how he treats people he works with and people in his inner circle. and so he's pushing back not only on the idea that something wrong was done, but also on his
own reputation and the perception of how he deals with people he claims to be working closely with. >> these raids happened just about two weeks ago. there's a lot of speculation about what he might have, if there's tapes of conversations he had with the president and others. help us understand the cause for concern here, the rels relationship between michael cohen and the president of the united states. >> i want to really quickly say maggie is someone i worked with only about a couple of months ago when i left "the new york times" and went to pbs. maggie is so sourced and so smart. she's not a blogger who's typing up things. she interviewed roger stone on the record saying that president trump treated his personal attorney poorly. that means that president trump is now sitting back and thinking, how did i treat this guy? he has all these secrets for me and now he has all this leverage on me. that's what's bothering him so much. my sources say michael cohen, there was's a lot of rumor he definitely had tapes. people are worried whether those
tapes are in fbi custody or possession. so president trump has that to deal with. but then there's also an idea if you treat someone poorly, treat the people around you poorly, yeah, michael cohen might have said a while ago he would take a bullet for you. but when it comes down to whether or not he's going to flip and have his whole family treat him for decades, that's what the president is most kworried about. this reporting is not just about the fact that cohen as a lot of secrets, it's the fact that if you read the story, for year, he treated michael cohen as his little flunkie and felt he had no power over him. >> as i do the text you'ual, he calling someone out as a drugie and a drunk. i assume he means sam nunberg. >> it makes you ask repeatedly, i thought you were going to bring the best people into the white house and the campaign. and there's a lot that has
suggested that perhaps you have not. but the problem is also with that language. this is a president who has repeatedly spoken very vocally about his desire to help people struggling with drug addictions and that absence of sensitivity in those terms, i think it's telling about how he really feels perhaps about some people who are struggling with this very real substance and mental health issue. >> there's a lot agitating the president. let me ask you about james comey. another tweet by the president. >> there's so many. >> james comey illegal leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a special counsel. his misspelling not ours. let's talk about these memory knows and how they came out. the strategy of republicans in the house to get them released, not made public necessary, but made available to congress. a lot of people saying that that backfired. >> it's a partisan issue about whether or not that backfired.
if you ask republicans on the hill they're saying it looks there's no obstruction of justice. this shows he was just someone rightly and normally concern a inflammatory. nancy pi loescy says this shows the opposite. legally how this will impact mueller's investigation, i think it's too early to say. because robert mueller's team has been so tight lipped about how they're going to use james comey. but i offer that james comey leaked part of the memos himself because he wanted a special counsel. he's someone who is very well versed in the law. even if some people think he might be a problematic witness because you see him on abc and you see him talking about thing, he's smart about how this worked. i venture to say that james comey is happy these memos are out there and they're going to help bolster the special counsel investigation that he wanted in the first place. >> being scrutinized in the way he did that. i just want to ask you about
this publicity campaign that james comey has mounted. he has a new book out. he's written about this in the book. he's talking about it in interviews, what's your sense of the role he plays in bob mueller's investigation if a case is being created here. is he walked a fine line, impressions of the president that, shall we say, they're not factual, but they're more observational than they are about the substance of what's at stake here. >> they he's building a case that the reason he built this case is for his dislike for the president. this has been very partisan in terms of how it's beneficial received. you look at the memo, the interviews, the book. depending on which side of the aisle you were on, we're not seeing a lot of people change their mind but doubling down. and what i think could end up hurting comey is depending on how is making the final decisions about what he did and
if it was right and if it was wrong, their own loyalty perhaps to trump and their own sense of how this whole situation should be handled, i think will determine how they conclude about his -- what conclusions they make about his behavior. >> and if i could just add, when i is a that tweet, i nougt he was just saying how james comey, rod rosenstein -- robert mueller and rod rosen steen has jobs and everyone said i'm going to fire them. but you're now laying out the rationale for why you could be firing them. basically it was stoorted from an illegal context. i wouldn't be surprised if months from now we go back to that tweet and say this is how he was dropping the crumbs on how to fire rod rosen steen. >> i saw three tweets about michael cohen and they seemed so directed at michael cohen, his long-time fixer. thanks to both of you. staying with the president's lawyer michael cohen and his central role in the stormy daniels matter and the russian
investigator as well, i want to bring you a defense attorney and former prosecutor. i want you to react to all of this. what the president said about flipping. it seems like there's a fundamental misunderstanding about why one would flip. one would flip if he or she knows the person flipping against has done something wrong. >> absolutely. i think these tweaks reek of desperation and concern. this is someone who is one sure about whether his wrelre his re stands with cohen. he's concerned because michael cohen could be a treasure trove of all this information anything trump related from his business d dealings to his russian connections. he's saying well, people do flip because they're under pressure by the government and sometimes they're pressured to lie. so he's sort of setting up a
defense just in case michael cohen does flip. >> you talk about the pressure people are under. what's your sense of the particular pressure being exerted upon michael cohen, as we learn more about the records he kept, the role he played. now that a number of days have passed since the raids on his suite at the regency and his office space as well. >> he's under extreme legal pressure right now. he has a pending criminal federal investigation in the southern district of new york. he's got the civil suit with stormy daniels pending and he's got mueller right over his shoulder. he's been very vocal and very clear about his role in trump's life, that he is the fixer. he would take a bullet for trump. so these comments are now coming back up and things that he might have done -- the stormy daniels issue has pretty much catapulted him into the limelight and has now focused in on what business dealings he's had with trump and his entire corporation.
and so with this in mind, knowing that he has all of this information, the government is going to want to say look, you're facing state and federal charges possibly, multiple charges. and this is what we're looking at. and the event that you don't cooperate, this is what you're probably going to get. so it's in his best interest to look at the situation and asays it for what it is. trump is not loyal to anyone. he is only loyal to a certain degree, but he expects 100% loyalty to others. and if cohen is smart he's going to want to cooperate with these federal investigators and get the best deal possible and keep himself out of prison. because otherwise, i mean, i think he's looking at serious time. >> i want to go back to something i was talking ability, that is who these tweets were directed toward. you and i, viewer, part of an audience of 50 million people who follow the president on twitter, he's talking about michael cohen, someone in a tremendous amount of legal jeopardy, as you said here. it strikes me he's giving
advice. he's essentially saying don't flip to nigh kel cohen. i wonder what the dangers of that are. how treacherous it is to be advising someone like that when you have a situation like this. >> are you speaking to me, i'm sorry. yes. it's absolutely -- it can be seen as interfering. it can be seen as trying to persuade a potential witness. it goes to his mental state yet again. he's already under investigation -- or they're looking at whether he's obstructed justice. he's done things and said things in order to steer this investigation and knock it off its rails. so what he's doing right now by speaking -- when they raided michael cohen's apartment and his office and hotel room, donald trump called h h eed him. that's not what you do. you don't call him to check in. no, you don't do anything like that. that goes back to his mental state. a culmination of all the thing headquarters he's tried to do to
try to steer -- or derail this investigation and not have it focus on what it needs to focus on. if you're not guilty of anything, then just stop. stop tweeting, stop talking, stop doing all of these things and just let the investigation run its course and have the whole thing be revealed that you didn't do a thing. but he's not. it ear clear where his mind is. >> thank you very much. a pleasure as always. why mike pompeo is facing such a long road to confirmation. ♪go your own way copd tries to say, "go this way." i say, "i'll go my own way" with anoro. ♪go your own way once-daily anoro contains two medicines called bronchodilators, that work together to significantly improve
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meeting with kim and president donald trump. and after mike pompeo's secret trip to north korea over eastern weekend. mike pompeo doing diplomatic work but facing an uphill battle to become the nation's top diplom diplomat. the foreign relations committee will meet on his nomination. but that panel is expected to withhold his approval for the first time in u.s. history. i'm going to bring in a foreign policy reporter for bloomberg news. nick, let me start with the most recent tweet from the president. a message from kim jong-un, north korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, also will shut down a nuclear test site in the country's norn site to prove the vow to suspend nuclear test. progress being made for all. help us understand the importance of what's being conveyed there. i believe that came from the north korean news service. especially hep us understand the significance, if you would. >> i think you have to look at this announcement really in the
context of what north korea has said for years now. they wanted to build up their deterrence and then wanted to shift to developing the economy. it's a closed economy. really a strangled and essentially a dormant one. so kim jong-un wants that to be the next step. so speaking with experts who have spoken with north korea and followed this for a long time, they really say this is part of a pattern not entirely surprising. but all also significant that north korea would be willing to make this concession. the challenge is, though, if you look ahead toward what the u.s. wants, which is complete denuclearization, the u.s. says we will not let up on the pressure campaign, the sanctions that are essentially strangling north korean's economy without full denuclearization. north korea says if you want to give us our nuclear weapon, you're going to have to make concessions. so figuring out how to square those sort of two seemingly
contradictory things is going to be the real challenge for president trump. >> we're seeing a lot change here ahead of that leader summit, it's still not scheduled between north and south korea. as i mentioned, mike pompeo, the cia director is scheduled to appear before the foreign relations committee on monday for a vote. the president championing that nomination saying mike pompeo is outstanding. we need the senate to approve mike asap. he will be a great secretary of state. what do you see among members of that community. clear there's not unanimity on that last point. >> well, it does look now like mike pompeo will essentially be the first cabinet nominee since 1945 and certainly the first secretary of state nominee not to clear senate committee before going to the full senate floor for a vote. the question, of course, is whether that really matters. the senate now looks likely to
approve his nomination, though by a slim vote. so i mean, we'll just have to see what happens. the problem for democrats as far as i have been told is a lot of them are worried thbts an iraq war situation where you had people like hillary clinton voting for the iraq war. and later that really became something that was a liability during her campaign. some senators on the democratic stied are worried well listen, if i cast a vote for mike pom o pompeo, i put partisanship aside. if things do go wrong for north korea, if they go wrong for iran, the next time they face election, a point to be used against them by their opposition could be hey, where were you when the chips were down, where were you when it was your opportunity to stop this guy. i've been told several senators are is weighing that consideration as they decide whether to approve mike pompeo. >> help us understand, if you would, nick, the relationship that mike pompeo has had with this president of the united states. the he's done the dpaly briefing for the president pretty much since he landed as cia director.
how much does that stand to change? and what are democrats on the committee in particular saying about what experience he brings to bear, how he might be a diplomat and how has that changed in light of the secret trip he took over easter weekend? >> well, mike pompeo's best currency right now is his relationship with the president. anticipate that's one thing that he really sold in his confirmation hearing and what republican senators said would make him such a good choice. that he has the president's ear and he has the president's trust. and going forward, that will be a big factor. res ti rex tillerson when he went oversea, it was unknown whether he was speaking for the president or not. the problem for pompeo, though, is there's a lot of things about that job that make those sort of tensions enevidentable. historically, there has been sort of a wrestling match between the state department and the white house over who sets foreign policy. and then just the fact that he's going from cia director, i think
he said he made only a few public speeches as cia director. as secretary of state he's going to be out in front of the cameras and being asked questions all the time. and he's really going to need to mod late his tone and change his tone depending on where he is. so it just seems like there's a lot of opportunity for him to get a message cross wise with the president. and that's something that certainly sunk rex tillerson. it's going to be a huge danger for him going ahead. >> that central to the case chr chris coons making, while i respect his military and public service i remain concerned that director pompeo will embolden rather than moderate or restrain president trump's most belligerent and dangerous instincts. thank you very much, nick. appreciate it. president trump saying the release of james comey's memos
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press. co . >> i was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so i thought it really important to document. >> james comey's private memos also shed light on unproven allegations involving president trump and prostitutes at moscow's ritz hotel in 2013. in those memos comey writes that the president brought to up the golden shower thing and explained he hadn't stayed overnight in russia during the miss universe trip. there's one problem with that. trump's one-time body gourd keith schiller reported that president trump did stay over the night in moscow. joining me now is carrie johnson, a justice correspondent for npr. understand the import of this. how much time did president trump spend in that hotel room
when he they can czeched out. how important is this, do you think? >> jim comey in his book said when the president didn't stay overnight, comey didn't feel the need to push back because a lot of the activities that thes doier deskri-- the dossier desc would not have required the president to stay overnight anyway. the long and the short of this is it goes to the veracity of thes doier that the president and the white house has tried to discredit since day one. and james comey said the fbi was able to verify in part before or after he was fired by surprise last may. he wrunt sure 100% of the dossier had been verified but some of it had been. he confirmed in interviews this week. >> you were among those who talked to james comey as he made the rounds. you and your colleague at npr. what stood out to you most from that book, from his recollection of what happened and the momeem
that were made public thursday night. >> we expected them to track closely with the testimony to the senate last year as well as his conversations with us and others. what stood out to me was the preoccupation with mike flynn, the former national security adviser. the comey members released this week by the congress suggest that the presidented had soured somewhat on the judgment of mike flynn in part because flynn took six days to set up a call with trump and vladimir putin. and also this reference in the comey memos to reince priebus then chief of staff, asking james comey whether the fbi had an ongoing fisa order on michael flynn, a big deal. i want to ask you about andrew mccabe. he's front and center as well. the president has an on with andrew mccabe. he asks comey about him almost every time they meet.
mccabe is accused of, a sharing information with a reporter of "the wall street journal" i was struck listening to james comey talking about who was entitled or allowed to talk to the press. he said he was allowed to and the deputy director was as well. how significant is this? and how important is this referral here of andrew mccabe. >> yeah. this is a remarkable episode in which the former fbi director and his deputy and right-hand man disagree about something very important. whether jim comey was told in advance that andy mccabe was going to have people brief "the wall street journal" about an investigation of the clinton foundation in 2016. >> i'm going to read a tweet here. mccabe says comey was notified at the time or shortly thereafter. now andy mccabe is facing a criminal referral with the u.s. attorney's office with d.c. now. these referrals happen from time to time from the inspector general. often they do not result in charges, but this week, andy mccabe announced he's forming a legal defense fund and digging
in for the long haul in what could be an investigation here, pitting his former boss james comey against him as a possible witness in a future criminal proceeding. pretty remarkable stuff. and grist for people who want to tear down the fbi as an institution. >> going to read a tweet here from the president. james comey just threw andrew mccabe under the bus. the inspector general's report on mccabe is a disaster for both of them. getting a little lot of their own medicine with a question mark there at the end. what was the relationship like between these two gentlemen when they were both at the fbi? andrew mccabe and jim comey. >> i met this week with mccabe's lawyer, michael bromwich. mccabe doesn't want to be in a war of words with comey. but they remember these episodes in 2016 very differently. and that's a difficult situation for both of these men to be in right now. comey told us at npr this week
he's sure he remembers that he did and what he said was right. now that puts andy mccabe in the firing line. >> great to speak with you as always. with the leaked memos by james comey creating political shock waves, but this week, the president fired back at the multimillion dollar lawsuit that ledges the trump campaign, russia and
wikileaks conspired to now the election. just heard the qualm pain was sued by the obstructionist democrats. this can be good news in that we can now counter for the dnc server they refused to give to the fbi. former deputy assistant secretary of state, jen kearns is with me here in new york. a gop strategist for the california republican party. let me just have you react to this. this is a 66-page document.
among the names in this suit, julian assange, donald trump jr., paul manafort, george p papodo polo us. >> they're getting trounced by the run national committee at every turn. last i checked, the dnc had to take a loan out just to stay afloat with their operations. so the fundraising at the dnc has not been good. and look, you have the chief political analyst of a lefty network, not this one, that said this is 100% a publicity stunt. i think this is sad. i think this shows that the dnc is still not able to get over the 2016 elections. they're taking a page from felipe's posz, hillary clinton, who can't stop talking ability the 2016 election. i think if they do that, they're
at risk of losing the 2018 midterms which they actually had a decent shot of winning. but you start to go backwards. the american people, you start to doubt what the american people did, you start to tell the american people that their choice of president was wrong in 2016, i think that's the wrong direction to go. >> felipe, you look at what the head of the dnc says about all this. he's adamant it's not political. he says this is about the midte midterms. this is about making sure that things are changed before we get to the midterm elections. this constitute answer act of enprecedented treachery. the campaign of a nominee for president of the united states in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster their own chance to win the presidency pop no one is above the law and the perpetrators of the attack must be held accountable. just want to get your reaction. >> well, it comes down to just a very fundamental fish susure ben the two parties. they see it as a way to
overthrow president trump and obsess about losing in 2016. yet the president's own national security team, whether it is mike pompeo, dni dan coates, nikki haley, they have all affirmed that russia has attempted to meddle in our elections in 2016 and more importantly, that they are going to try to do so in 201 and beyond. and i would love to hear from jen the answer to a simple question -- what on earth is this president and this (congress doing to protect our elections? and that's what i think this lawsuit comes down to. and it's a last resort. if the republican-controlled congress would have had any committee or any legislation or anything at all to follow up on its own intelligence, there would be no need to file a lawsuit. >> let me put that to you, to buffet that in what we've heard from james comey, he talked about in the meetings with the
president, this is something that didn't come it. the president didn't seem interested in responding to what happened in 2016. >> it must be a disease that went around. barack obama when he was president was told about this as 2014. talk about an administration that did nothing, they were even debating whether to tell the campaigns and the incoming administration -- >> but so much more has come to light since then.. we know so much more about the degree that this was a problem. what has this administration done. why isn't it taking it nor seriously? can't you look at this lawsuit, look at the substance behind it and motivations for it. why hasn't more been done? >> i think a lot has been done. kris kobach is doing an analysis with each of the secretary of states throughout the state. i was an assistant secretary of state in california tasked with ensuring the integrity of the votes. and they are looking at what systems were hacked into in states. did they -- were they able to look at voter lists. were any of the totals affected? the bottom line is this -- none
of the vote totals were effected. the trump administraton has said that. you have facebook now looking into the ads that russia purchased. the fake stories, the fake news. but look, i think president trump has done more than what his predecessor barack obama did. it will be interesting to see how this lawsuit plays out. >> jen, i go bahhick to that tw. you talk about how a party should be looking forward and shouldn't be looking back. i can't identify who the pakistani mystery man is. are you critical of that? i mean, the president is looking back as well. this is something that he does time and time and time again. >> i think it's another thing to defend the claims that are being out there. the dnc lawsuit is not just suggesting that republicans have agreed with, that the russians did try to impact the election. their goal no matter who won was to divide the american people, the strongest democracy in the world. but i think there's a notion with the dnc lawsuit thats anti
in this, which i think is a wrong nose. but i think to defend a lawsuit like this is fair game. and boy, i think this could get really interesting. if you countersue the dnc, you will have access through the discovery process to that server that they never turned over to the fbi. meanwhile, every republican is having their house, their office and their hotel room stormed by the fbi. but hillary clinton was allowed to just kind of walk on down, have this nice little conversation. it will be interesting. if we do countersue, the discovery process is going to be very, very interesting there. >> how worried about that are you? are you worried about that discovery process? >> absolutely not. i think the truth would be great for everyone. and jen with all due respect when you're answering the question with kris kobach off the back, you are absolutely making my point. the two moes importast importan
lawsuit, number one, the president can't fire a lawsuit. and if you look at the trouble he's in right now, it's lawsuit being brought by stephanie clifford and by karen mcdougal that might do more damage than anything. i don't think anyone should dismiss this at all. i think it would be very problematic. if this is the forcing mechanism to make our government, to make the republican party finally take this threat seriously, that's sad, but it's also important. >> very quickly. >> i think it speaks volumes ant the dnc, they must not have confidence in robert mueller and the special counsel. >> we're worried that you're going to fire him. >> that's not going to happen. i think the dnc is worried that's not going to turn out the way they would like. >> that's a point that tom addressed when he announced this the suit. he announced this is happening concurrently. of course he wants that to play out. what's your response. >> again, i mean, the concern that democrats have, and even
most republicans, both in congress and nationwide is that the president is going to continue to obstruct justice by firing bob mueller. you have, just learning yesterday, that, that the attorney general jeff sessions had to tell the white house if anything was done to fire deputy attorney general rod rosenstein or bob mueller he would not be able to stay. this lawsuit is the only thing that donald trump cannot fire and that's why it's being filed. it wouldn't be necessary if donald trump weren't every other week toying with the idea of firing everybody in sight. >> and felipe, they refer to a piece in "the washington post." thanks very much. we talk about the latest legal layer. in six day thashlgs's how long it took donald trump to get word that vladimir putin had reached out to congratulate him on the election of 2016. it was six days too long. michael flynn did not tell him that fast enough.
according to memos written by director comey, michael flynn's decision to withhold that message influr yated president trump to the point where he questioned h his national security adviser's judgment. qu the judgment, and. a month later, flynn would be fired from his white house post. joining me now is season eli stokols. eli, let's pick things up from what we were talking about with carrie johnson a few moments ago. this was a pivotal moment as described in these memos. what did we learn about that short-lived tenure that michael flynn had from the memos released this week? >> well, that there were a lot of issues that obviously the white house had with flynn. you go back from february 14th, valentine's day, when the president got comey alone and asked him if he could let the flynn thing go. there were previous conversations that comey talks about in these memos with reince priebus being curious about whether or not the fbi had a fisa warrant on mike flynn. and then the president in another private meeting reportedly telling comey,
acknowledging to him that he knew that flynn had what he called judgment issues. and so there were a lot of uneven things. obviously the first few months of this administration were incredibly rocky here, and i think what's interesting, you know, obviously republicans are trying to, a lot of people think, create this pretext for perhaps getting rid of rosenstein, perhaps firing mueller eventually by demanding a lot of documents over the last couple weeks. they wanted to see these comey memos, and the fact that they were able to see them and they've come into public light, comey's memos basically confirm and corroborate the story that he told to congress and the story that he tells in his book. everything that comey has said on the matter of his conversations with the president and his staff concerning mike flynn, everything has been incredibly consistent. >> eli, i'm just going to read a little bit from one of comey's memos about a moment you just described there, that being a conversation that james comey said he had with reince priebus, then the chief of staff to
president trump. quote, he then asked, do you have a fisa order on mike flynn? i paused for a few seconds and then said that i would answer here, but this illustrated the kind of question that had to be asked and answered through established channels. so to spell this out, how do you spell this out for us, the importance of this? this direct question totally out of the norm, and what it means when you look in the context here of the early history of the trump administration. if in fact that question was asked by reince priebus, it's not like michael flynn left his job the next day after. he got that answer from james comey and michael flynn stayed in that position, still had access to very sensitive information. >> that's right. he was serving as the national security adviser to the president of the united states even though the president's chief of staff was concerned enough to ask the fbi director whether or not they had a fisa warrant on mike flynn, whether flynn was compromised being investigated by the justice department himself. and yet he stayed in that
position up until basically it became politically untenable for him to be there, and they basically said that, oh, he lied to vice president pence. so that's why we have to fire him. the president, for whatever reservations he may have had about flynn and his judgment, the phone call with vladimir putin and the delay in relaying that to him, he wanted flynn to stay in that position. and we know from our reporting subsequently, even after flynn was let go, even after the president asked comey if he could let the investigation go, the president has bristled about sort of being forced to get rid of flynn, felt like he never really did anything wrong, and the president obviously does not like being backed into a corner and forced to act in a way that he may not be ready to do. and so the president has sort of long held that flynn got a raw deal out of this thing, and, you know, we're seeing that in tweets that he's punching out this weekend. >> eli, on the rehabilitation of michael flynn, so much as there can be one, what's he doing now?
he was up here in new york, talking to a conservative group about foreign policy. he's been on the campaign trail, stumping for candidates in the midterm elections. what's your sense of the role he's playing now, and where he is in the context of bob mueller's investigation? >> well, he pleaded guilty to the charges and took a deal from the special counsel on december 1st. so that's basically five months now that he has been cooperating with the special counsel's investigation. the public side of what mike flynn is doing, coming out, reportedly going to campaign in montana soon for a republican candidate there, i mean that's really interesting seeing a person who's been contrite about the mistakes that he made, the crimes that he committed, and publicly said i'm willing to cooperate. also trying to main this persona as a figure in the trump orbit who can help rally the trump base. it's an interesting tight rope for him to be walking and we'll sort of continue to see just how much he's stepping out publicly. >> i just want you to react to
one final tweet from president trump about michael flynn and james comey. so, general michael flynn's life can be totally destroyed while shady james comey can leak and lie and make lots of money from a third rate book, clearly a favorite phrase of the president in recent days, that should never have been written. is that really the way life in america is supposed to work? i don't think so. help us understand the argument the president is making in that tweet, about the parallel he sees between michael flynn and james comey. >> well, it's not really much of an argument. the president is just upset about this book. he thinks that flynn got a raw deal, never mind the fact that flynn has pleaded guilty to crimes. this is the way the president sees thing, and he's trying to convince as many supporters of his to see things the same way, to see jim comey as a leaker, as somebody because he wrote down these memos out of concern about the things the president said, knowing that he would need to corroborate these accounts later, wrote these things down. in the president's mind, he wants everybody to just see comey as a leaker, as somebody who is nefarious and out to get
him. that's part of prejudicing as many people as possible against the justice department, whatever findings that mueller comes out with at the end of the day. but, again, as i mentioned, what comey wrote in those memos that we can now see is incredibly consistent with the story he has told congress and the story he has told in his book. the president is the one that doesn't really have a whole lot of evidence on his side here. he's basically just tweeting things out, letting us all know that he's agitated and trying to get as many people to align with his view of things as possible knowing that something damaging could be forthcoming. >> appreciate the time as always. that's eli stokols joining me this average. coming up in our next hour, progress or posturing? north korea claims it will suspend its nuclear program ahead of an historic summit with the u.s., but is this really a step toward peace or a political ploy? this is the ocean.
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hello, everybody. i'm david gura at msnbc headquarters in new york. a farewell to arms. north korea says it's suspending its nuclear and long range missile testing but should that announcement trigger celebration or consternation from the international community? flipping out. president trump lashes out over a report that his longtime lawyer michael cohen may cooperate with authorities. and damn good. why kendrick lamar's pulitzer prize may be so good for the rap industry. we begin with a surprise announcement from north korea that the country has