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tv   MSNBC Live With Alex Witt  MSNBC  April 29, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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thanks for watching, lovely people. we'll be back next week. my friend alex witt has the latest. >> how fun, you have a family birthday party to do. >> yes. >> all right. okay, hot mama. have a good time. i am alex witt. it is high noon, right on the nose. there's a lot to get to. new insight in the russian investigation from a member of the house intelligence committee. why he says the probe is creeping closer to the oval office. >> at least 11 trump associates communicating with the russians on an on-going basis. >> meantime, the president
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spenl spends his saturday how to prevent a blue wave in november, what they chanted about one of the most coveted prizes in the world. plus. i'm not sure what to call sarah huckabee sanders, is it sarah sanders, is it sarah huckabee sanders. >> more unnecessary roughness. what to make of pointed punch lines at the white house correspondents dinner. we begin with a live picture of capitol hill, seeing it there. new reaction from members of the house intel committee on the heels of the gop report, clearing the president and his campaign of collusion with russia. here's what congressman mike quigley told me why democrats are intent on getting transcripts of committee interviews released. >> let the republicans release the transcripts, we'll learn of at least 11 trump associates communicating with the russians on an on-going basis. this is just the report that you release when you tank the
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investigation from the beginning, when the republicans worked in concert with the white house to obstruct the investigation. >> but the president last night taking a victory lap and once again saying the focus of the investigation should be on democrats instead. >> i want to thank by the way the house intelligence committee, okay? russian collusion. you know, i guarantee you, i am tougher on russia. nobody ever thought. the only collusion is the democrats colluded with the russians and the democrats colluded with lots of other people. take a look at the intelligence agencies. >> republican committee member trey gowdy earlier responded to the president's comments, says the celebration might be premature. >> the president when he looks at your report feels vindicated. are you saying he should not? >> be careful how i phrase this.
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no report, the best we can do is say what we learned. i can't say what's in the universe of witnesses we have not talked to, and i have always maintained i am awaiting the mueller investigation. they get to use a grand jury and they have investigative tools that we don't have. executive branch investigations are just better than congressional ones. >> and former fbi director james comey weighing in whether the president should meet with robert mueller. here is what he told my colleague, chuck todd. >> i hope he will allow director mueller to complete his work, whether it includes interview or not is up to him. >> you have been a prosecutor most of your professional life. is he a witness you would find credible? >> i have serious doubts about his credibility. >> the president of the united states? >> yes. >> whether he were under oath or not? >> correct. sometimes people have serious credibility problems can tell the truth when they realize the consequences of not telling the truth in an interview or in a grand jury would be dire, but
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you've got to go in with a healthy sense he might lie to you. >> comey was also talking about the president's wide ranging speech in michigan, going to kelly o'donnell with more on that. kelly, good day to you. let's get to what the president said? >> reporter: it was a wide ranging speech, and although it is a sunny day unwashingtin was. there's a chill. he had that in mind talking about james comey in front of a friendly, trump based audience in washington, michigan. he hit james comey with some of the same sort of strong words that we heard him use before. we did it in a wound up fashion of being at a rally, telling voters he had done them a favor. here's how the president let it play out last night on the campaign trail. >> you watch comey, and you watch the way he lies, and then he has the memos. i wonder when he wrote the memos. then he has the memos. he puts them up. watch the way he lies.
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it is the most incredible thing. comey is a liar and a leaker. you know, i did you a great favor when i fired this guy. i tell you, did you a great favor. >> reporter: we've seen before where the president feeds off the energy of the crowd, and by hitting the lines again and again and getting crowd reaction, seemed to amplify his focus on james comey there. he has been a frequent subject of the president, whether on twitter or in events like this. i said campaign trail because that was actually a funded event by the re-election campaign for the president, not official government business. sometimes that line is hard to spot, but this was billed that way, paid for that way. and over the course of more than an hour of making remarks to that audience, he talked about everything from foreign policy to mid term elections, the
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russian investigation, and as we highlighted there, the former fbi director who he fired and likes to talk about while comey is on the book tour. >> you gave the reasons of it being a campaign style rally. thank you for that. joining me, good day to you both. let's go with you, john, in terms of who you think has more to lose with all of the fallout between the president and james comey, former fbi director. >> the president because he is under serious threat of legal consequences from robert mueller. look, james comey, whether or not you think he is flamboyant, show boat, show off, whatever, as the president has called him, he has a strong track record of credibility in his life. president trump does not. that's why the vast majority of the american people if you ask them will say they do not think
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president trump is honest. with that as a backdrop, the fact that you have a highly respected republican special counsel, robert mueller, who is pursuing serious criminal allegations against people close to donald trump, and we will see what he comes up with on the president himself, but the president is in deep trouble, james comey is not. >> what do you think, alex, does comey walk a rather fine line? risk giving the president leverage to attack the fbi and dod doj and question their credibility? >> this entire media tour, he is promoting a book, he clearly has a personal interest in getting headlines, getting attention to sell books, to vindicate himself after being fired. but as john said, he is private citizen with little to lose, he already lost everything, being director of the fbi, product of
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a long career that you work for. that's it. you're right. he could provide just enough grist for the echo chamber on the right. trump and people around him don't need to win on facts and merits necessarily for the message that they're trying to convey to the base, they just need to provide enough so that their base can reasonably discard anything that comey is saying, and some of the more flamboyant things may contribute to the ability to do that. >> i want to ask you to comment on what we played at the top of the show, when congressman kwto me at least 11 communicated with russians. is that what we would find in the transcripts or is he taking a leap? >> i don't know who all 11 of the people are, but take a look at the most important single
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thing that we know from the russia investigation so far, that is that the son of the president, donald trump jr., jared kushner, his son-in-law, paul manafort, his campaign chairman accepted a meeting with a russian informant, a representative of the russian government offering negative information on hillary clinton. that is the core fact that we know related to the question of was the trump campaign involved with hacking of democratic information, dissemination of that information to the benefit of donald trump, that's in addition to george papadopoulos and his contacts with the professor in london. so there's a lot of prima facie evidence that the trump campaign wanted to collude, was open to
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colluding, whether or not they did or laws it may violent if it happened are things we're going to learn from robert mueller, but there's plenty of reason to believe, notwithstanding what house intelligence republicans reported, plenty of reasons to believe there was interaction between the trump campaign and russians that might have been consequential. >> and he also elaborated that the two you're talking about specifically, don jr., jared kushner, their knowledge of what was going on, knowledge of this meeting, how that did not get back to the father and father-in-law when donald trump says he was unaware of any of this. that was another point that mike made to me, mike quigley. with regards to the 11 people, does any of this surprise you? >> not really. i mean, the more we learn about the investigation, the more we learn there were treaties, attempts to set up meetings, feelers put out. as john said, whether that
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amounts to collusion is hard to say, but the entire -- you have to know what a smoking gun would look like here. if you go back to watergate, it was clear because nixon and the white house adamantly said no coordination between burglars and president and people around him, wasn't signoff from higher levels. as soon as you had a tape with the president saying that he was complicit in the coverup, it blew the whole thing open. hard to know what collusion is here, there's no legal definition of collusion, and hard to know what piece of evidence could blow it open. i think trump is going to be able to keep moving the goalpost even as we learn more and more negative information about what might have gone on during the campaign. >> let's move to the president's legal troubles with michael cohen. stormy daniels, and her attorney tweeted there's a cover of the national enquirer with trump fixer's secrets analyze, he goes on to say this is part of a
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campaign to undermine the credibility of michael cohen. take a listen to this. >> it's very clear to me, jake, what's going on here is that mr. trump and the administration have concluded what i have been saying for weeks, that michael cohen is in trouble and will flip on the president. it is the first effort on their part to undermine mr. cohen's credibility so they can claim when he flips that he is a liar, has no credibility, et cetera. >> you don't know that trump or his people suggested that to david becker and the national enquirer, you're assessing based on how ami behaved in the past. >> i don't know if the sun comes up tomorrow either, but it is a safe bet it will, and safe bet that mr. trump and the organization and administration knew about this cover. >> it is no secret publisher of national enquirer is an ally and friend of the president. is he trying to advance his own agenda? >> sure, he is trying to advance his own agenda, but he's also making a reasonable conclusion
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based on what we know about the relationship between president trump and the national enquirer. the national enquirer was involved in killing one of the stories negative to president trump. the relationship between david pecker and the president is well known, and it is hard to imagine that's a coincidence that that's coming out now, that southern district of new york is going after michael cohen. what does flipping mean. it is only relevant if you have something seriously damaging about somebody else. does michael cohen have that? we're going to find out, courtesy of southern district of new york and to some degree robert mueller as well. >> we're just about out of town. last word if you want to comment on this as well. >> just that this entire thing is metastasizing, grown beyond robert mueller, now southern district of new york is
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involved, other parts of the justice department involved. even if trump wanted to take a heavy hand and shut it down, getting increasingly difficult for him to do that. >> all right, good to see you both. thank you very much. new evidence from house democrats claims the president may have obstructed justice while the house gop maintains there was no collusion. we talk with a house intel member about the duelling reports next. elevated comfort powerfully efficient and one more thing the world comes with it ♪you can go your own way... the 2019 jeep cherokee (vo)just one touch.ith with fancy feast creamy delights, she can have just the right touch of real milk.
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i ask a lot of tough questions on the trump tower meeting, i was tougher on steve bannon than any democrat was. when the transcripts come out, i think you'll see the republicans did take it seriously. but when all you're interested in is seeing the president indicted, then yeah, that investigation is not going to turn out well from a bipartisan standpoint. >> that was republican congressman trey gowdy pushing back on democrats who are accusing republicans are obstructing the russian investigation. joining me, danny heck from washington. good to bring you on, get insights, half the things you can't answer. but on this one, denny. do you think trey gowdy was the one to push back hardest as he was saying with steve bannon? >> i agree he pushed steve bannon far, but many of the republicans did, in fact because
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as you recall steve bannon was a man without a country during that period of time. the trump administration kicked him to the curb and were more than willing to pile on but weren't as tough on other witnesses, like cory lewandowski who took some of the same approach as mr. bannon did and republicans let it slide. >> i want to play something that your colleague congressman quigley told me earlier. >> let them release the transcripts, we'll learn of at least 11 trump associates communicating with russians on an on-going basis. this is just a report you release when you tank the investigation from the beginning when the republicans worked in concert with the white house to obstruct the investigation. >> you know, when he said 11 people were working continuously back and forth with the russians, i was taken back by that number. i am curious if you can
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elaborate more on the transcripts and what they're going to show. >> so actually my count was a little higher, but i did it in my head, at least double digits, alex. let me say, this isn't report of an investigation because in order to have a report on investigation, you must have had an investigation. and we really didn't. because in order to have an investigation, you must be willing to do follow-up, and the majority simply was not. this would be like apprehending a suspect in a crime, asking if they did it, they said no, i was with john that night, and you refuse to pick up the phone and see john and confirm it. time and time again, we requested that certain documents be subpoenaed, they refused time and time again. we requested certain additional witnesses be brought forward to bear out the truth or lack thereof of what one of the witnesses told us and they refused. so this is not report on an investigation, it is a noninvestigation, and yes, the transcripts should come out.
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in fact, chairman conway said at one point absolutely they should come out. and when we attempted to move that they do in fact be released, they rejected it. i believe as does mike quigley, when the transcripts come out, they'll be eye opening for the american public. >> do you think in this hyperpartisan time the american public will be able to read these, not nitpick, cherry pick, say we see what denny heck is saying? >> i think a lot of people are going to be cherry picking the facts to support their pre-existing ideas or biases. that's just the nature of the beast. but yeah, if you wanted any more evidence about how hyperpartisan the world has become, look no further than the shameful, unceremony yus firi unceremony yus firing of the chaplain at the house. >> it is creeping slowly to the
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white house. how is that happening, do you agree, and if that's the case, how is that not coming out? >> i think eventually it will come out. i think this week was a bit of a watershed in some regards. when the judge in california stayed the continuation of the stormy daniels case and in so doing indicated that he wanted, he rationalized that decision on the basis he thought it was likely that the president's personal lawyer michael cohen would be indicted, we officially crossed the line, alex. the trump administration is now among the most scandal ridden in american history. i believe the history books will write it up as such, rank him up there or down there, depending on perspective with grant and harding and the like. >> we have not heard from cohen himself. that could be really the turning point as well. >> so i have suggested that we ought to construct a michael cohen index. the point of that would be the
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number of years of imprisonment he is facing before he flips and place your bets. my bet is on somewhere between 10 and 15 because with good time served, it might be less than that. but we'll see how many years of imprisonment he is facing, if he is indicted as the judge indicates now is likely, and what it would take for him to flip. >> i want to play for you what the president said about the russian lawyer, the one at the heart of that june 2016 trump tower meeting. she told my colleague richard engle she's an informant for the russian government. here's what the president said about it last night. >> have you heard about the lawyer? for a year, a woman lawyer was like oh, i know nothing. now all of a sudden she supposedly is involved with government. you know why? if she did that because putin and the group said you know, this trump is killing us. why don't you say you're
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involved with government so that we can go and make their life in the united states even more chaotic. >> i'm not sure i understand what he's saying there. what did you hear in that explanation? >> confusion, chaos, but it's the old 3d movie we talked about before, distract, deceive, deflect. look, we're truly in an orwellian state. it doesn't matter what the president says about this. he has this obsessive need to believe that he is waging a public relations campaign, when in fact what bob mueller is engaged in is a criminal investigation. no amount of spinning will alter the trajectory of due diligence that bob mueller and his team are pursuing. >> good point.
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also the president singled out democrats, notably maxine waters who openly called for his impeachment. are the democrats going to take action if they sweep mid terms? >> what adam schiff who is ranking member of select committee on intelligence indicated is that if there is a change in the majority, and should he become chair of the intelligence committee that some of the unattended and nonpursued avenues of the investigation would be taken up again. i think that's appropriate. >> very quickly, i want to get back to firing of the house chaplain, patrick conroy. not only democrats like yourself are demanding speaker ryan explain, but there are republicans angry by the decision. your op-ed you wrote why this hit home given your friendship with father conroy. what do you think this was all about really? >> so let me first say that i am
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grievously disappointed about the decision for three reasons, the first of which you alluded to. father pat is probably one of my best friends in the other washington. and my friend was treated very, very poorly, and frankly i am mad as hell about it. secondly, there was incredible abuse of process. the chaplain is chaplain of the u.s. house, not the speaker's chaplain. the speaker recommends but the house affirms. the house wasn't asked about it. moreover, father pat wasn't provided opportunity to discuss what concerns, if any, that he would have brought forward. the speaker didn't offer explanation. thirdly, perhaps most importantly, for god's sakes, literally and figuratively, if we can't leave out of our political food fight the people who tend to the spiritual needs of the house as an institution and its members, what have we
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become? >> yeah, i guess i'll say an amen at the end of that. congressman denny heck. appreciate seeing you. threat of impeachment. how will it shape president trump's approach to the mid terms and control of congress. the blade quality you'd expect from gillette... at a price you wouldn't. the new gillette3 & gillette5. available now for $7.99
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welcome back, everyone. i am alex witt at msnbc world headquarters in new york. "new york times" is out with an article, pulling back the curtain on republican fears about this year's mid term elections and about president trump's attitudes towards the risks they are facing. it reads in part congressional and party leaders and even some trump aides are concerned that the president's boundless self assurance about politics will cause him to ignore or undermine their mid term strategy. let's bring in former dnc chairman howard dean, and msnbc strategist susan po. going to start with you. could putting the president on the campaign trail end up back firing for republicans? do you see the risk factor? >> absolutely. very much so. here's the thing.
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while the president's poll numbers are important, the president is not up for re-election himself. so this is not about him. donald trump likes to think it is about him. in this particular case it shouldn't be about him. we are talking about districts that came within a few points for hillary clinton or donald trump. so if republicans want to hold onto some of the seats, they need to get more independents and maybe a few democrats on their side. right now with all of the talk about impeachment, that may help republican turnout, boost it, but this can't be about donald trump in swing districts or we're going to fail. republicans will fail miserably. >> the president was fully in agreement, howard, with susan. at the rally, he raised threats of impeachment, trying to use it to energize republican voter turnout. listen to him. >> we have to keep the house because if you listen to maxine
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waters, she goes around saying we will impeach him. we will impeach him. we got to go out, we got to fight like hell, win the house and win the senate. >> you heard those instantaneous boos, howard. is the president employing a good strategy? >> he may be, that's his base though, remember. they're going to vote for him no matter what he does, he can shoot somebody on fifth avenue and still get people at the rally. i personally don't believe we ought to be talking impeachment until we know what the grounds are. there's a lot swirling around. i think it is a safe statement to say donald trump is corrupt, but matters what kind of corruption, matters what's been done, it matters -- you know, we don't have the evidence, don't have mueller's report. we have a house committee that's mostly deficient in leadership, issued several reports, none of
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which count, and so we have to wait for the senate. i think that discussion of impeachment is premature. it makes the democrats salivate and voters that can't stand trump. this is a process, we have to uphold the process. i think it is too early to talk impeachment until we know what the facts are. >> to that end, susan, is it risky for republicans to use threat of impeachment to rally voters? do you think people will think there's not a lot there there yet because of what howard is saying? >> the governor is right. there's nothing to talk about impeachment right now because there is no report stating it. and that's risky for the democrats. however, for republicans to turn out a base vote and try to do it in a targeted way, that's important. anyone that's up now in the house, any republican again, swing seats, definitely needs to have a strong republican turnout. the other side of that is what happens on democratic primaries
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for house seats. the issue of impeachment shows how left they're willing to go. democrats are also in a little bit of trouble because they're swing seats we're talking about, have to be careful not to elect the most left person out of a democratic primary, and issue of impeachment defines who is the most left. >> good point there. howard, also at the rally, the president lashed out at john tester of montana with accusations about ronny jackson, has helped bring an end to the nomination, got messy, department of veteran affairs. listen to the president here. >> tester started throwing out things he's heard. well, i know things about tester that i could say too. and if i said them, he'd never be elected again. >> senator tester is a red state democrat in montana, a state the president won by 20%. do you think the president is doing something smart poll it
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c -- politically speaking going after him? >> absolutely not. even though the two states voted differently, montana and vermont are alike, there are a lot of independent minded people that makeup their own minds and turn out all the noise. they don't like being told what to do. the other problem for trump with this is trump has a long history of doing what he is complaining tester is doing and long history of corruption. nobody likes corruptions. liberals don't like it, conservatives don't like it. democrats don't like it, republicans do not like corruptions, talking voters. so i don't think trump is helping the cause at all. i think tester will be somewhat a hero in montana as a result of what he did. >> could be. susan, russian investigation time, the house intel committee released a report claiming no collusion during the trump campaign and russia this past week. democratic congressman mike quigley told me there's more to
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come, more to uncover. let's take a listen. >> the thing about the investigations like all of them, they all begin on the periphery, and then with cooperation and indictments and the more they cooperate, closer to the center, closer to the white house. i think the point is we're getting really close. >> is that what happened here, susan? did republicans on the house intel committee call it quits because they worried about that pattern he described? >> i don't think it is that. let's face it, the committee's report under chairman nunez has no credibility. and people don't trust washington to begin with. i think that those are only viewed as political documents, both democratic memo and republican memo. the republican report and democratic response. the only investigation that's going to matter when it comes to russia and trump is the mueller investigation. >> is there anything, howard, in
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that report or the one forthcoming potentially by the democrats as long as they continue, they had the dissenting doi dissenting document, but does anything move the ball forward bringing the remaining russian investigations to an end? >> only what happens in the senate, and what happens in mueller's office. susan is right. nunez has become an errand boy for trump which is essentially another form of corruption. i think nunez has a great shot at losing, even though his district is fairly republican, they have a district attorney running against him, pretty good contrast there, and the house has no credibility about anything. when you're the speaker and you fire the chaplain for saying a prayer that's compatible with catholic doctrine, you have no credibility, the house has no credibility left, none. it is a grossly partisan organization that hasn't gotten anything done except things that are really bad for america's working class. >> howard dean.
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susan del percio, always like talking to you both. thank you. how much was the media to blame for hillary clinton's 2016 loss, a reporter that followed clinton during the presidential campaigns during both of them will be here to answer that next. [whistling] hello. give me an hour in tanning room 3. cheers! that's confident. but it's not kayak confident. kayak searches hundreds of travel sites to help me plan the best trip. so i'm more than confident. forgot me goggles. kayak. search one and done.
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joining me, the author and writer at large for "new york times." welcome. getting right to it here. we were talking on the commercial break, hardly had time to shut up to get back to the live show. you said female journalists and hillary clinton herself seem to have more doubts than male journalists about her odds of winning. do you think some people underestimated the barriers, the sexism that clinton faced as a woman? >> absolutely. i have been listening to james comey on his book tour talk about how he anticipated that she would win when he made that decision to release the letter to congress, and i was like really? we just thought the woman was going to ride right onto the presidency? i remember, i covered barack obama's campaign in 2008, i remember even though polls and conventional wisdom said he was ahead, there was still a ret sans of are we breaking this historic barrier. with a woman, we thought, yes, her last name was clinton, people thought it would be
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easier for her for some reason. her press corp historically was almost all female. we were feeling the mood on the campaign, on the ground there, and even though the data, not saying i thought she was going to lose, i believed data, but there was a sense this isn't a winning campaign. >> there was a main criticism out there that she wasn't personable, likeable. you wrote about her being very private, something of an enigma for protection sake. and i will say having met her before, one on one, she's an incredibly warm, delightful woman, but that did not translate necessarily on the trail. is that what hurt her with voters? it was a different picture she put out there than what she is as a private person. >> yeah, this has always been a dilemma in covering hillary clinton. i used to say after 2008 that barack obama was charming and charismatic to 5,000 people, hillary was charming and charismatic to five people. the challenge for us in the media if we're going to
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communicate, we're the conduit to communicate who the candidate is to voters. if we never got to see that real hillary that you saw in a private setting, that her girlfriends saw, that we would see only on very, very limited occasions, it was hard to communicate that person to voters. i think that did hurt her. >> i have to say, you're with "new york times." and at points the clinton campaign did criticize "new york times" for its coverage. what's your response to that? did people take that criticism seriously as if it was fair? >> it's interesting. i don't think people realize the kind of toxic relationship between the clinton camp and "new york times" that dates back to the '90s back when the paper broke the white water scandal and i mpeachment. when i was put on the beat, i didn't level the level of hard feelings between the two camps. certainly those carried over into the 2016 campaign. >> joe biden, you write how he
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confided to the press corp he wanted to run for president, but was afraid if he did it, the clintons would set out to destroy him. i am curious about your relationship with joe biden. what's it like? >> i did a story before she declared and before joe biden enwas clear whether he wanted to run. she could kickback a beer, her father was from scranton, had this scranton connection. i think they're friendly on a cordial level, but biden was a threat. people forget how worried they were, when hillary clinton was locking in union support early on, a lot of them thought it was because of bernie, but it was about freezing out biden, not letting biden into the race. >> at what point did hillary clinton's campaign take bernie sanders seriously, did they start out not taking it seriously? >> i don't know if they didn't -- they knew they would have a tough fight in iowa. the progressive wing of the democratic party is powerful in iowa. i wouldn't say they didn't take him seriously, but as the race dragged on and i think her
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losing michigan in the primary was a prime moment where bernie, gave bernie momentum. and they did not expect him to still be a threat all the way up until the end. >> did anyone from the clinton camp tell you after the fact they wish they could have done things differently, were there certain things they said they would have done differently? >> certainly. i talked about a lot of regrets. one of the regrets is how much they relied on celebrity surrogates, conventional wisdom we have celebrities, lean a dunham, beyonce, but turned out they didn't have as much connection to voters and people would come to events to see them but it didn't translate to votes. it is like when people were rejecting the elite and they thought maybe use of celebrities wasn't as effective. >> is there part of your book that you're surprised has not gotten more attention? something you want to highlight that you think people need to know? >> absolutely.
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i'm glad you asked that. i think hillary is getting lost in the book. i spent ten years studying this woman's career, dug around in archives in arkansas, got to know friends from college roommates to every chapter of her life. i have a chapter devoted to how religious she is, called saint hillary. we went to church with hillary almost every sunday, she could recite scripture with validity. she sounded like a sunday school teacher, which she was when growing up in the suburbs of chicago. i think if you want to understand hillary, understanding her methodism, devotion to her faith is important and something we didn't see much on the campaign trail. >> absolutely not. that's a definite news nugget there. thank you so much for your time on the book tour. i appreciate it. i love the title, "chasing hillary, ten years, two presidential campaigns and one intact glass ceiling." >> thanks for having me. what north korea is saying,
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nobel. i just want to get the job done. he's going to get us into nuclear war, they said. no, no, no. strength is going to keep us out of nuclear war. not going to get us in. >> president trump and his supporters reacting to news that kim jong-un has promised to dismantle north korea's main nuclear test site. it was part of a deal that kim made to officially end war with south korea after meeting with the south's president moon jae-in. joining me now, david kane, director and chair of the korean studies institute at the university of southern california. welcome back to the broadcast. i want to get right into it and get your reaction to the nobel chants for the president there. and do you think they're a bit premature? >> well, in some ways they are because we haven't really done anything yet. i mean, what's going to depend on is what actually happens when trump and kim meet as they're expected to do later this month. then we'll see.
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>> but to this point, to what extent do you think the president does get credit for even what's happening between the north and the south at this point? >> you know, i think in many ways, the real driver of what's going on is kim jong-un. it's very clear he's had a plan in place from probably about two years ago to first test these missiles and then negotiate. so i think in many ways, american policy has been an important element of that, but if you really look at the driver, it's probably kim jong-un. >> is it also economics? i mean, is that what it is? it's the sanctions, the tough sanctions? >> i think the sanctions come at the end, meaning kim has clearly said for the last five years that he wants both military power and economic growth. this has been a change from previous north korean leaders who said they didn't care about the economy. so kim is clearly moving down a path, or he wants to open up the economy. to that extent, i think the sanctions have had an effect because they're trying to push
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against what he's trying to do. >> but then what do you think his calculation is now if he's going to give up nuclear weapons? do you think that's what he's going to do? is there a concern about the term denuclearization and how that is defined by both sides? >> absolutely. and this is the crux of the matter. i think all signs are happy to say it would be great if we could denuclearize. the question is what's he really going to do. i think a partial step by north korea is very likely, meaning missile testing moratorium, no more nuclear tests because they don't need to do anymore, and maybe a partial denuclearization. i think that's great, but it's not going to be full denuclearization the way we think about it. >> meaning he's going to keep some nuclear missiles or certainly all of the components to put them together. >> yes. i mean, almost nobody thinks that he's just going to disma dismantle all of them and hand over the keys to all of the weapons.
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so the real question is, what does trump, what does the united states decide is success? is partial denuclearization a success, or do we have to wait for a full denuclearization? >> and can i ask your assessment of this agreement between the north and the south that came on friday and whether or not it weakens or diminishes any position of the united states in any way? >> you know, i actually think in some ways, the announcement was similar to ones that have been made before. it's very high level, both north and south korea want an end to the korean war. what i think is significant is that in this case, we have a new leader who has a very long time horizon in north korea. and so although nothing specific has changed, it sets up the chance for the united states to make some major moves. and then we'll have to see what trump does. >> i'm curious how optimistic you are that this will not go down the path of history where agreements have been made and then reneged upon. i will say i was talking earlier in the makeup room, if you have
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to know, with gordon chang, a respective colleague who says he feels quite optimistic this time and outlined his reasons for that. how about you? >> i am more optimistic now than i was before, for partially some of the reasons we've already talked about. this is a young leader. he clearly has a long time horizon, and he's planning on ways for his regime to survive. the question is can he give enough of the nuclearization and the missiles in order to get enough from the united states and the south in order to find some kind of a stable status quo. i think the south and moon jae-in is really committed to finding a path, and we'll see what the united states and trump -- where they're willing to meet. the question isn't what north korea is going to get -- give. it's what the united states is going to give as well. so that's why you have diplomacy, to see what's possible. >> all right. david king, director and chair of korean studies at university
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