tv Morning Joe MSNBC September 3, 2018 4:00am-6:00am PDT
♪ thank you, shannon pettypiece, jason johnson, betsy woodriff, dana millbank and jonathan allen. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. happy labor everyone. "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. good morning. it's monday, september 3rd, happy labor day. we're on tape this morning, as we unofficially close out the summer, but we have a packed two hours ahead of our recent interviews with top news makers from former cabinet officials to retired leaders of the intel community. we sat down with michael hayden, leon panetta, john brennan, jay johnson and madeleine albright. >> and the russian investigation, the u.s. relationship with nato and the trump administration's threat to pull security clearances from some of those people we just mentioned. first up, our conversation with
retired four-star general michael hayden, who ran both the nsa and cia. and we started by asking him about his new book, the assault on intelligence, american national security in the age of lies. >> i come at it with a three-layered problem. number one is cultural. and fun mentally that's the biggest one. it's us. the book is about us and our political discourse or lack of discourse, our distrust. that's anchored also on the lack of truth. post-truth world oxford definition, decision making based on feeling and preference rather than objective reality and we've gone to our corners, pledged allegiance to our tribes and data doesn't matter much. second layer, the president, who quite intelligently saw it, exploited it and now in office uses it and frankly i think worsens it. >> abuses it. >> you don't hear fact-based arguments. you don't hear data-rich answers
to questions from the president. what you get is an appeal to base. an appeal to emotion and identification of the other the bad other the ones who are responsible for your problems. so that's the second layer. now, the third layer is you got the russians coming through the perimeter wire and seeing phase one, phase two and now they're manipulating both for their own advantage. fundamentally, to make us disabled, distracted, and not a meaningful player in places where they want to go and play. >> exploiting our divisions. >> exactly. and that's important. somebody who might know a little bit of covert influence, which is the technical name for what the russians are doing. iron law in physics you don't create fractures. you can't do that. identify fractures and exploit them. a line i use is the russians trying this same stuff in norway. it's not taking because the norwegian society isn't in the same state as american society. >> this all starts with president trump, fair enough, and ends with him, but what about the people around him? are you at all surprised at how
that is -- how that's going at this point? >> yeah. so we were all heartened by the caliber of the team that he brought in. >> right. >> not just for a manhattan real estate guy, but this is a pretty good team. >> right. >> then the question would be, how much would that team be connected to actual decision making? and i think that's the dynamic that's played out over the last year. and that has been at best intermittent and then members of the team have dropped off, have suffered reputational harm because they've just been in the frag pattern, so to speak, of so many things that have happened. and now i see a movement, and this concerns me a bit, that the president is number one making decisions more in isolation and those most closely around him are becoming more and more like him in the way they think and the way they speak and so i fear this is not self healing. mcmaster left, all right? h.r. trying to move heaven and
earth to connect all this to actual decision making. and i think the bottom line of his experience is i couldn't get them. >> couldn't do it. >> you write, general, about institutions under siege. something we talked about on this show the last couple years. the president trying to undermine the media, the justice department, the fbi, all the intel agencies? what's the long-term impact? are we going to be okay, if it's three or eight years, whatever it is when trump is no longer here. what's your answer to that? have we run so far into our corners that it will be hard to come back some day? >> it will be hard. you have a president who handled most of his life crisis the way you just describe and it kind of worked up here in this environment. it really doesn't apply working within government to try to simply delegitimize anyone who might be saying something negative about you. but he is taking a pick and
shovel to institutions and people, harming both the structures and the individuals who man the structures. and so my advice to folks and i actually mentioned this specifically in the book, you know, when i'm in the diner near the agency and people come up and say, hey, boss, what are you thinking, the answer is number one, you know how to count. you know who carried ohio, pennsylvania, wisconsin, you know who the president is. go work for the president. make the president as successful as you can make the president, one. number two, we accommodate all presidents. their pe yule yarties, how they learn, their policies, their priorities. go do that. but there has to be limits. there are some points beyond which you can't go, number one personally. so i always say keep good notes and keep that letter in the lower right hand desk drawer. if you've got to pull the rip cord. but then i add, but you know your institutions can't leave. your institution has to stay. and therefore tend to the institution above all because
we're going to need it again some day. so we accommodate to all presidents. but you cannot accommodate so much to any president that you now undermine the legitimacy of your institution in your eyes, in your eyes, the public, or fundamentally in the eyes of the next president. >> and we're seeing that's easier said than done. >> the ones who are really on x, the bureau and justice. >> how much did your antenna vibrate, the misrepresentation of intelligence and facts and it was apparently designed in order to create a political environment where the administration could go ahead and say we're pulling out of the iran nuclear deal. to what extent did you watch that and say, that's exactly what the kind of thing we have to worry about? >> so, there are two explanations and they're both equally bad. we're talking about the verb. iran has a robust clan december
tine program. i'm sitting there ready to go on tv and the white house announcement comes out, richard, i'm going, holy smoke, that flies in the face of our community's judgment since december of 2007. so there are two explanations. number one, they knew what they were doing and they were trying for the short-term gain to build up the drama for what it is the president wants to do any way. that's back to the idea the president is not particularly fact based. he bases his decisions on instincts. i'm going to rip up this deal. all right? i just fed that. the other is raw incompetence. you know how much checking we had to do particularly after the yellow cake speech in the state of the union. >> yes, sir. >> there is nothing the white house would say without going up river. and our vote was simply, well, if you say that we can support it. if you say that, we can't support it. that's what they wanted to know from us. that is another sign of the detachment of the fact based institutions from the policy,
political institutions, the family and friends around the president. >> so, you mentioned earlier, wounds to the system. there are lethal wounds and there are life-threatening wounds to the system. off of your conversation with richard, bb netanyahu stands up in israel with a tv performance, a tv show. and suddenly within a few hours the white house reacts to a tv show that was not fact based. what harm does that do internally to people in the field, cia, nsa, in the field who are fact based? >> yeah. i did some soul searching and bought a lot of breakfast for folks, you know, how do you feel? and one very senior officer gave me what i'm going to tell you now -- and i think it's a very telling passage in the book. he said, now look, mike, life is n not binary. we're talking trends. these are shades.
he said everybody below deck should have an ore in hand and are just rowing, they're still rowing. by the way, these are the younger folks the ones who read the news more, probably get more news from their phones than they do from newspapers, those people are asking at any more than at any other time he is experienced, am i still part of a good thing? and the people above deck, you know, the ones you may occasionally see whose names you may socieassociate with the age what they're saying more than any other time with his experience with the agency is, does this matter? does what i do make a difference? and we're just getting started this morning. up next, our continued conversation with michael hayden, what he believes the russians learned from that 2016 meeting with don jr. that's next on "morning joe." ex. and packages. and it's also a story about people. people who rely on us every day to deliver their dreams they're handing us more than mail they're handing us their business
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this wi-fi is fast. i know! i know! i know! i know! when did brian move back in? brian's back? he doesn't get my room. he's only going to be here for like a week. like a month, tops. oh boy. wi-fi fast enough for the whole family is simple, easy, awesome. in many cultures, young men would stay with their families until their 40's. welcome back. there are clearly many threads to the russia investigation, but
so many seem to tie back to a meeting at trump tower in june of 2016. >> that's when don jr. hosted a group of russians, along with top members of the trump campaign. as michael hayden explained on set, it's a meeting the kremlin would be quick to exploit. >> let me be a little sympathetic to the president here, all right? we always have a speed bump with all presidents. very briefly, we got to get into the room, we have to get into his head, but we go through different doors. our door says facts, his door says vision, you know, the one you voted for. fact, vision. world as it is, world as we would like it to be. we're inherently inductive, data da, general conclusions. inherently deductive, first principles, the ones you voted for, how do you apply for a circumstance. this exists all the time. we, it's our job to work our way through it and get into the president's head. we always knew that if donald trump were going to become president, this is going to be a
heavier than average lift. it is a national tragedy that the first time we had to go and jump that speed bump was down the street here on the 6th of january when we had to go brief the president on a matter that a lot of other americans, not us, but a lot of other americans were using to challenge his very legitimacy to be the president of the united states. it was a perfect storm. we went into a ditch and we're still trying to work our way clear of the effects of being in that ditch. >> explain that. what happened? >> well, we gave them the briefing. they broadly accepted that the russians had done something. they didn't argue that. they said in the meeting, but it didn't affect the election. jim clapper and company said, we're not saying that. we have no order of science that measures how they can or can't affect, did or didn't affect the election. about two hours later team trump went out and gave a press briefing, thanks the guy for coming, very informative briefing, thank god the russians
didn't affect the election. >> right. >> threw it right in the face of what it was the team said we can't say one way or the other. >> and apparently, willie, they were talking about that in front of the briefers, saying how do we spin this? >> right. they were. they did. >> yeah. >> on the subject of russia, you do say you have one regret in the book which is that we dropped the ball on russia. what more should have been done and why wasn't it done? in other words, how did we get to this place where russia saw such an easy mark? >> so, two, three steps. one of which is mine. let me go to the first chapter of my reeducation camp experience here and say, i was just so focussed on counterterrorism and counterproliferation that i personally didn't -- i went to over 50 countries as director, not one of them was called russia. okay? my bad. but again, it's not ignoring them, you're just consumed over here. i think that continued for a bit with the laser focus on
counterterrorism. and then the russians under general officer developed a new concept of warfare, one we had explored but had largely pushed back on largely for legal and constitutional reasons. we became cyber guys. the russians became information guys. they wanted to go and conduct information warfare and grasimov writes several years back about contact-less warfare, how i can use dominance in the information space to directly attack the will of an adversary population and win that way. they did it to their domestic audience. they did it to us and the europeans with this information bubble over crimea, we're all going, i wonder what's going on? who are those little green men? they took their game to north america in 2015. i won't belabor it here, but there was an exercise in texas called jade helm 15 that russian
bots and the american alt-right media convinced obama plan to round up political dissidence. it got so much traction that the governor of texas had to call out the national guard to keep the population calm. at that point, i'm figuring the russians are saying, we can go big time. at that point, i think they made the decision we're going to play in the electoral process. >> so let's talk about the trump tower meeting with russians in june of 2016 and what the russians got out of that because obviously everyone got cut up and how the trump family was spinning this, but the long-term consequences of even having that meeting and can i use the word conspireing about hillary clinton, perhaps more, what does that give the russians in the big picture? >> so three or four things. number one, we would have called that a russian soft approach. it's good trade craft. don't go in there with svr and
fsb on your business card as your first encounter, but you begin to establish contact. what did they learn? number one, they learned the campaign was willing to deal. >> exactly. >> which is a really big thing. >> exactly. >> they're willing to accept information on hillary clinton with the prove nans of the russian government on it. number three, they learned -- and this is a little indirect, but they seemed to have a pretty sophisticated operation, they learned that the campaign would not go to the feds with the russian approach coming at them because they didn't see any increase in counterintelligence activity around them. and number four -- >> so they learned that not only were the trump team willing to play. >> right. >> but they learned that the trump team was not going to report. >> right. >> their contacts, which is extraordinarily unusual because -- >> we're experienced here. we wouldn't have done that without a room full of lawyers
and who do you have from the bureau. >> i said it before as a little congressman, if there were russians that approached me towards something i would talk to my chief of staff who would immediately say we need to call the fbi. that's just basic. >> based upon everything you just said, all right, the fourth thing the russians achieved with the meeting was they got this little down payment on kompromat. you've taken the meeting and you didn't report it. >> wow. >> they're good, aren't they? >> yeah. but i don't think -- i feel like it just falls flat when we heard about this meeting and we just this president kept moving forward and it doesn't feel like the response, at least -- >> you can throw it out to naiveté, inexperience. they weren't surrounded by anybody whose antennas. >> does anything you've seen here, maybe the meeting at trump
tower, look like collusion to you? >> i don't know the legal definition. the words i use are a word i use a lot in the book is something called convergence, all right? where you may not be actually going this way in terms of, hey, will you do this now? i'll do is that. but you're each for your own purposes are doing something and your activities are mutually re-enforcing. very quickly, remember the take a knee thing. the president gives a speech, he feeds his base. the russian bots are all over it taking both sides. all right the patriotic side and the constitutional side. at-right media picks it up and mirrors the russian bots. they inject a powerful racial content into it. then it gets to the major networks, mostly through the one down the street and we have this cycle. everyone for their own interest, the president, the base, the russians to mess with our heads, alt-right, they're
conspiratorial, the network for ratings. they're all driving in the same direction and the sum total is a more divided american society, including within my own family when it comes to take a knee. >> wow. >> it's fascinating. >> convergence. >> you say that because according to your own family, because i said, so mika and i over the past ten or 11 years, do you guys ever disagree on anything? do you ever get off and really go at it? and we had a couple of examples through the years where we went at it. >> yeah. >> but it hadn't happened in five or six years. and during the nfl deal, i won't go into the great details, but mika and i were going at it for about three or four days. and then after about three or four days we looked at each other and we were like, you know, this is exactly what donald trump wants, not only us but the entire country to do, which again is exactly what the russians want us to do and it's the same thing with this white
house dinner. people are still tweeting about that. >> oh my gosh, enough. >> four days later. >> i hear you all. >> with north korea, with you name it. that is custom built for russian bots. >> and a trump win. >> and the origins is a speech on a friday night in huntsville campaign style in front of a blood hot crowd. >> yep. >> the weekend before of 1,750 nfl players, the number who did not stand at attention, was six. >> yeah. >> this was not a national crisis. but it became one. >> convergence is the word of the day. >> the russians used it. wow. our thanks to michael hayden for that. still aed he, another former director the central intelligence agency, john brennan, he joined us here on set with a clear concern. russia could have something on donald trump. we'll be right back. have sometn donald trump we'll be right back.
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but years he steered completely attacking vladimir putin or criticizing russia. >> we asked former cia director john brennan, a senior intel analyst for nbc news what might be the reason behind that? >> i want to ask you about the russia investigation just broadly because you obviously know a lot more than we do. and i wonder how much of what's in the public sphere compares to what actually is involved in the russia investigation? in other words, how much do we not know? and based on what you know setting aside the obstruction piece of it because that came later, do you think that the investigation is winding down as some people have suggested? >> well, in some respects i think it's still winding up as bob mueller continues to investigate. my information is dated now a year in terms of classified information. at that time i thought that there was ample information for the fbi to pursue, to see what, in fact the russians were doing and with whom they were doing
it. in the past year, the fbi and bob mueller the special counsel have been pulling those threads. we see what's happened with mike flynn, paul manafort and others, bob mueller has been able to uncover a lot there. as he pursues this the coming weeks will be very important. over the next several months i think it will be critical. and if the republicans are going to continue to pursue this partisan path, i wonder what's going to happen if bob mueller's report comes forward with some compelling information about violations of the law. >> you talk about a partisan path and you look at the patterns of this president, is bob mueller's job safe, do you think? >> i don't know. i don't know. i think this president has demonstrated his willingness to do what he can do try to undermine this investigation. and whether it's rod rosenstein or whether it is bob mueller, i think there are some real questions about what the white house is going to do to try to continue to undercut them. >> so, let me give you a question that you will know the
answer to. it has to do with carter page, the man who republicans have hung their hat on. they have gone to the mat carter page somehow was mistreated. "time" magazine uncovered a 2013 letter in which a former trump adviser, reportedly boasted about his connections with the kremlin. the reported letter is dated august 25, 2013, was sent to an academic press regarding a manuscript page trying to get published according to an editor who worked with page. page allegedly wrote over the past year i had the privilege to serve as an informal adviser to the staff of the kremlin 2in preparation of their g20 summit next month where energy issues will be prominent point on the agenda.
however, that history was left out of the nunes report. >> well, depending on the day and the issue, individuals are either very, very important to the campaign or to white house or they are not. i think it continues to demonstrate that there is an interest in trying to manipulate the facts in order to serve one's interests. >> donald trump said, told "the washington post" in the spring of 2016, carter page was one of his two most important foreign policy advisers, the other one, of course, cooperating right now with the investigation. so tell me what you knew about carter page. tell me about your concerns about carter page. and was there any question that this is the sort of actor on the international stage that our intel agencies would be concerned about? >> well, clearly what has come out in the press over the past year, i'm not going to go into any classified information. >> we want the classified information. that's all the rage. nunes and the republicans have morphed actually. they are now sort of in edward
snowden territory. so why don't we all just jump in. >> yeah. but long standing and different types of connections with russian officials, i think really is something that the fbi focuses on. >> right. >> so when an individual who has these connections is also associated with a political campaign and then there is additional intelligence that indicates that the russians are actively trying to interfere in our election, there's a responsibility, obligation on the part of the bureau to pull those threads, which they've been doing. every time i listen to carter page or other people, i scratch my head trying to figure out exactly what are they trying to do and trying to justify some of their past activities. >> didn't he receive a warning from the intel community about russia? >> again, i'm not going to go into what he might have received from the intel community. >> i think he did, at least it was reported in the papers. >> right. i'm curious what you think is -- you've been around a long time, obviously. what do you think will be the
long-term impact this attack on the fbi, justice department and to a certain extent the justice community? >> it certainly undermines the ability of the fbi to represent itself as an independent, objective and honest organization, both the american people as well as the counterparts overseas. when there are serious questions about whether or not there have been violations of law by individuals high up in this administration and that's why it's the obligation on the part of bob mueller to work with the part of the fbi to uncover whether it's obstruction of justice or whether there are other matters that individuals were involved that really requires us to take a fresh look at what it is that we need to do in order to prevent these things from happening in the future. because russia is going to take advantage of this time and time again. >> where are we right now in 2018, january of 2018? are we in february now? i guess we're in february. i'm a week behind. where are we as a country? and what's your gravest concern? >> well, i have good confidence
in the community on intelligence, richard bur and mark warner, they are doing a very thorough job in a bipartisan fashion. that's what needs to be done. the special counsel will look at what type of violations of law might have taken place, but it really will be up to the congress to be able to determine what should happen so we prevent these things from happening in the future or minimize the chances for russia or other actors to interfere in the election. i'm hoping that the senate intelligence community is going to come out with some very important recommendations about what the administration needs to do and pass laws that will require the director of national intelligence, director of fbi to report to the president to the congress and to the american people in advance of the election, the status of efforts to interfere in the election. and also, you know, put on some costs to individuals and countries who do this. we need to stop this from happening because right now especially in the cyber sphere, there are so many opportunities for individuals and foreign actors to try to exploit our democratic processes. >> what happens to the entire
process if trump moves to fire mueller? >> i think with are going to be in a very serious constitutional crisis. i wonder when the republican leadership in the congress is going to come to their senses. i had a lot of respect for paul ryan. i thought he was taking these matters seriously. the things i heard him say and do over the past couple months makes me question whether or not if there's going to be removal of rod rosenstein as well as bob mueller what will the republicans do to me clearly it wb obstruction of justice that involves senior individuals in this government of previously affiliated with this administration. this has to be brought to its conclusi conclusion. >> i had a lot of concerns with the cia and -- the cia took a lot of hits from 2004, 2005, something that you had to deal with, it's something that
director panetta had to deal with. and so, know that you, at least, have some sort of feeling about what the fbi is grappling with right now. what do you think about christopher wray, the letter he sent the bureau on friday and the type of leadership that he's showing over there? >> i think christopher wray is an individual of high integrity and honesty somebody who can lead the bureau during these difficult times. he has a very difficult job in light of what is taking place within the administration. he needs to maintain the support for the bureau and let them know he has their back and he is going to defend them. he is going to look at whether or not there were any missteps at all during the fisa process. he is not going to be somebody who is just going to in a knee jerk fashion defend the bureau and all of its practices and processes. he is somebody who i think we need to make sure stays in that position because he, i believe, has the spine and the backbone to stand up to individuals who
are trying to politicize the law enforcement intelligence process. >> and finally, what's the state of the cia right now? >> cia officers keep their head down. there used to unfortunately all the partisan rank that takes place. i must say i have never seen it this bad in washington. i have been very, very concerned about how the intelligence oversight committees which are supposed to be bipartisan and years ago they were but now it's intelligence law enforcement enforcement is a political football in the hands of many. devin nunes, i think, has really abused his powers and authorities of charnl of the house select committee on intelligence. it's an important institution and it needs to make sure it carries out its job objectively and gets to the truth and does what it needs to do to protect the american people. >> you look back to the way dianne feinstein worked on that committee. let's hope that chairman bur and mark warner do the same, but that's the way it's supposed to operate. >> mike rodgers is very good,
worked and the two of them demonstrated the house intel committee can carry out its work. sure there will be differences of view and i had a lot of issues with from a policy perspective, intelligence perspective, but i never felt as though they were using intelligence and using the institutions as political footballs. and we've got another revealing interview with john brennan straight ahead after a career of keeping quiet at the cia. he explains why he now feels so compelled to speak out. that part of the conversation is next. that part of the conversation is next it's time for the 'biggest sale of the year' on the new
this wi-fi is fast. i know! i know! i know! i know! when did brian move back in? brian's back? he doesn't get my room. he's only going to be here for like a week. like a month, tops. oh boy. wi-fi fast enough for the whole family is simple, easy, awesome. in many cultures, young men would stay with their families until their 40's. john brennan spent his career keeping quiet about nations most sensitive secrets, since leaving the government, he's become an outspoken voice of the trump administration. now nbc news analyst and foreme
cia joined us and explained why. >> i need to explain why and so many other national security officials are speaking out because of the abnormal and abhorrent behavior of mr. trump, that very much concerns us because of the negative impact we believe it is having on our national security. a bad signal that it sends to our young americans, as i say, in the op-ed who look upon him as somebody who should be emulated as the most powerful position in the world, the president of the united states. and his continual lying, as well as lack of ethics, as well as lack of rigor in terms of the policies that he pursuepursues. this is abnormal for us to speak out as critically and as vocally as we have, but these are abnormal times, and he is an
abnormal president and not -- he's aberration but not in a good way. that's what gives us the motivation to speak out. >> director brennan, this is david ignatius, welcome to the fellowship of op-ed columnists. i want to ask you about north korea, if i might. we have a north korean intelligence chief in the united states coming to washington, and that raises, for me, the question how many do we know about what goes on inside north korea so that we'll be able to verify with some confidence what north korea's doing as it moves toward, we hope, complete nuclear disarmament. what kind of intelligence base do we have? >> well, when i was in government, north korea was probably the most difficult target to penetrate, as far as getting the insights into what kim jong-un and others are planning and thinking. but i think over the years, u.s. intelligence working with a lot
of our partners has increased our understanding of what's happening there. so i think we have better intelligence than we had before. but still it's going to be very, very difficult. kim jong-un keeps his confidence very much to a very small group of individuals. and the fact that he's sending such a high level emissary over here now underscores his interest in picking up on mr. trump's willingness to have a summit. but it's going to be difficult, i think, for the u.s. intelligence community to really understand what is in store in terms of the future. the north koreans i think will want to have this summit, but i and many others believe they have no intention at this point of denuclearizing. >> director brennan, it's kasie hunt. i wanted to turn back to the mueller investigation because there have been suggestions from the president and his allies that perhaps the cia was
involved in the beginning of the fbi's counterintelligence investigation into the trump campaign and the president and his allies have embarked on this attempt to essentially raise questions about the investigators to undermine the overall credibility of that investigation. are you concerned at all that with this op-ed you might be playing into the president's hands? >> no. i think mr. trump has demonstrated a paranoia, insecurity as well as a real concern about the investigation that is under way. certainly his tweets do not seem like they're coming from a person of innocence and confidence. i don't believe that our speaking out feeds that narrative among those who understand that the department of justice and the fbi and the cia are the institutions that the american people rely on to protect our freedoms and our liberties. mr. trump is going to promote his narrative. he certainly is going to continue to try to discredit the fbi and the cia and others, but
i think make no mistake about it, the american justice system i think is going to prevail in this endeavor to get to the bottom of who might have been collaborating and working with foreign actors to try to undermine the integrity of the election. >> john, you were just talking about the difficulty the cia has traditionally had in penetrating north korea, such as secretive, closed society, yet in langley, i'm telling you nothing that you don't know obviously, the level of psychological profiling is off the charts. so my question to you is, this potential summit, what does it mean for kim jong-un to have a photograph taken in the same stage next to a president of the united states, being on the same stage with the president of the united states? what does it mean for him? >> well, it's something that he has sought for many years. he wants to be seen as the international equivalent of the president of the united states.
he has clambered for this, this world stage spotlight, so it's i think very important for him both in terms of his domestic standing but also for his ego to show that he was able to bring the president of the united states to a negotiating table without making any concession on his nuclear program. yes, he has said he's going to dismantle the nuclear test site, but by all accounts it was near collapse. so i don't see anything that he has given so far, but yet we have given what i think is a premier prize, which is a stage, an international and very public stage, with the president of the united states. >> director brennan, it's hyalman here. i want to ask you a historical question. we have some competing narratives about the beginning of the russia counterintelligence investigation. all right? president trump and his allies continue to assert that it began
with you and the dossier, the steele dossier. "the new york times" has reported and others saying, no, no, that's not right. it began with george papadopoulos and his conversations drunkenly in london about whether the russians might have hillary clinton dirt and how that came back to you. there's another narrative, which is the one i'm interested in, that's been reported in the guardian and in the observer here in the united states, that in fact, your interest in this and the real roots of this counterintelligence operation our investigation began earlier with that with signal intelligence that was brought to the united states by some of our allies, particularly great britain but others in western europe. can you tell me which one of those narratives is right? >> well, i continuously shake my head at how much fabrication is going on. people make things up out of whole cloth. the one report you're referring to says that robert hanigan,
great britain's nsa equivalent came over and delivered information to me that involved the trump campaign. no such visit or meeting took place. i didn't put eyes on the steele dossier until december of 2016, after the election. >> right. >> yet people claim i was the one that was sharing it around town and briefing it. that is not true. so i think what it shows that mr. trump with his continued emphasis on lying and fabrication and untruths, falsehoods, it feeds this and encourages others to do it. this is what i think is really so corrosive on our country and government today. >> can i just follow up real quick? i know you specifically denied the motion of the meeting with the gentleman from gchq. are you more in a more general way saying the broader narrative, the notion that the beginning of the counterintelligence investigation began with some kind of tips from allies based on signal intelligence? are you making a broader claim
there or are you specifically refuting the notion that the one story you referred to is false? >> my response to you was related to that one specific story. cia during the course of 2016 worked very closely with our domestic partners, and if there were opportunities to work with foreign partners, to try to understand what russia was doing, not what u.s. persons or u.s. officials were doing, but what the russians were doing to try to underminus. and i shared information with jim comey and with the white house as well as with the folks on the hill to make sure that there was a complete awareness of the things that we knew in terms of what russia was doing. so -- but, again, i keep reading stories that are fiction and that's what they should be titled. >> director brennan, david ignatius again. a broad final question. so as the planners in moscow of this active measures program, this attempt to interfere in our
elections, look back two years later at what's happened, what do you suppose they say to themselves about the outcome? >> well, i think they're quite pleased by how disruptive their campaign has been on u.s. politics. as you say, here we are 16 months past the inauguration of a new president, yet our entire political system seems to continue to be almost paralyzed in many respects as a result of this dispute about what the russians were doing. the russians were trying to undermine the integrity of the election because they believed that anything that is done to hurt the united states of america, anything that hurts the government, benefits them. and so when i think about the last 16 months, i think mr. putin and others are quite content that they were able to disrupt the politics, the government of the greatest country in the world. >> so, director brennan, let's
end the interview where it began with your new op-ed out this morning in "the washington post" entitled, "i will speak out until integrity returns to the white house." i want to read a bit here. you say, quote, the esteem with which i held the presidency was dealt a serious blow when donald trump took office. for more than three decades i observed and analyzed the traits and tactics of corrupt, incompetent and narcissistic foreign officials who did whatever they thought necessary to retain power. it never dawned on me that we could face such a development in the united states. many have condemned my public criticism of mr. trump, arguing as a former cia director i should bite my tongue. my criticisms, however, are not political. i have never been and will never be a partisan. i speak out for the simple reason that mr. trump is failing to live up to the standards that we should expect all presidents to live up to. as someone who had the rare
privilege of directly serving four presidents, i will continue to speak out loudly and critically until integrity, decency, wisdom and maybe even some humility return to the white house. and, of course, you have been joined with others, michael hayden, mike morrell, who have raised questions, former cia directors who have raised questions. i certainly know in michael hayden's case he had grave concerns about donald trump when he was running, but i had many private conversations i'm sure he wouldn't remind me revealing here during the transition where general haden said, he is the president, we have one president, we have to hope and pray and do everything we can to make this president succeed. well, he tried that and now, of course, he feels like you, the need to speak out. is that perhaps because intelligence officers and the
intel community is, as he said, your mission is to find out what the real facts are, to analyze the facts and to act on those facts? sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong, but it is still fact-based. is that what causes donald trump the biggest concerns, that whether it is the media, whether it is the intel community, whether it is law enforcement investigations, he lives in a post-fact world? >> well, yes, i think we all hoped and prayed when donald trump was elected president that he would grow into the office, that he would mature as a person and he would do what is right for the country and set his ego aside. but i think, myself as well as mike haden and jim clapper and others, i think we have been very dismayed at what we have seen over 16 months. and as national security officials, former national security officials and
non-partisans, we are very, very concerned that what we are seeing here is something that we have seen in other countries around the globe which really led to the degradation of democratic principles as well as the standards of governance. that should not be happening here. this is the united states of america. donald trump has not lived up to those standards. >> and still ahead, a second set of leading voices on diplomacy, defense and national security. our interviews with madelineal bright, leon panetta and jeh johnson are straight ahead. we will be right back with those conversations and much more. conversations and much more. ♪ oh, look... another anti-wrinkle cream in no hurry to make anything happen. neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair® works in just one week. with the fastest retinol formula available. it's clinically proven to work on fine lines and wrinkles.
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welcome back on this very special labor day edition of "morning joe." last hour we heard from two former directors of the cia. now we branch things out to the pentagon, state department and homeland security. >> we're going to be hearing from the former heads of each, and let's start with leon panetta, who served as defense secretary to president obama. our discussion came on the heels of president trump's contentious nato summit in brussels. >> mr. secretary, last week, of course, the president said he wanted out of syria and those were his exact words. i wa i want out, when talking about our largely successful and
sustainable attack plan, battle plan against isis in the region. was that a mistake for the president to telegraph that and could it have led to the attacks we saw earlier this week? >> well, i think it was not something that the president should have said with regards to the status of american forces, because if we're going to be able to have some kind of influence in syria -- and it is a chaotic situation -- it is important for the united states to have a presence there and to indicate that we have a role to play. by saying what he said, i think he may have sent a signal that somehow the united states would not care whatever happened in syria, and i think that was dangerous. >> mr. secretary, do we have any -- is there any option for the united states to retreat from that region, even if we are
talking about 2, 3,000 special forces there when we have iran, we have remnants of isis, syria and, of course, the russians there, what would be the impact of a u.s. retreat? >> well, i think the fundamental problem here, joe, is that the united states has really never had a strategy with regards to syria. we've been reactive to the moment and to the crisis, without thinking about what is our strategy in syria. and as a result of that, we have been somewhat ambivalent about how to handle that chaos. and so rather than developing that strategy, rather than trying to play a role in forcing syria to figure out some kind of political settlement there that would get rid of assad and allow syrians to decide what their political future is, frankly, we have been hitting isis on the side, talking about assad, but
really don't have an overall strategy. and if we're going to strike syria, i don't think it ought to be a reflex action without a strategy. that's what this administration has to do, is figure out what is our long-term strategy in syria going to be. >> so a follow up on that, why don't we have a strategy? >> we don't have a strategy because i think we were reacting to what was happening in syria, and there was a fear that we didn't want to get entrapped by another middle eastern war. i understand that. but at the same time the fact is once you say assad has to step down, once you see that there are other forces at play in syria, the reality is the united states does have a national interest in what happens in syria because it relates to the overall status in the middle east. so for that reason we have should developed a larger strategy, building our alliances, building a diplomatic effort to try to force assad to
step down and try to move towards some kind of political resolution. >> so as former secretary of defense, you're steeped in the national security challenges that we face around the world. as former cia director you have great knowledge, institutional knowledge, classified knowledge, on protecting our democracy. with all of that insight, do you think that this president is challenging our democracy, is a threat to our democracy, or what does his behavior say to you? i can spell out the behavior if you need me to, but i'm concerned -- concerned on many levels and i would love a real answer. >> well, let's begin with the most important thing here, which is when you are a commander in chief, the most serious responsibility you have is to decide whether or not we take military action, because that involves lives and it involves national security interests of
the united states. normally under any other administration there would be a process for dealing with this crisis where it would go through the national security council, options would be presented, defense secretary, secretary of state, others would have their input. they would present those options to the president and the president would decide what steps are going to be taken. what we have with this president is a president who doesn't operate by process but operates by instinct and gut reaction, and that makes it very unpredictable. as a result of that, it is a dangerous moment because we don't know what the consequences of whatever action that he takes are going to be. >> so was that a yes? >> i mean it is yes in the sense that it is a dangerous moment with this president, who hasn't -- who hasn't taken the time to think out what are the consequences of military action here, what is it going to mean
for the united states? what is our long-term strategy? all of that requires thought, it requires consideration. it does not require a reflex action. >> the president's response, mr. secretary, to all of the criticism he has received over the last year and a half and the investigations about russia have been to attack the sources, whether it is us in the press, whether it is the fbi or whether now it is bob mueller. we saw some of the conspiracy theories floated around certain segments of the media and promote it by president trump calling bob mueller the head of a crime family. what is your reaction to that? i assume you know bob mueller, being called the head of a crime family, and how do you think he is prosecuting his investigation? >> you know, this is a country that has to operate by the rule of law, and the president of the united states ought to be an individual that reflects that he and his administration are going to abide by the rule of law.
i think that the responsibility of a president is to deal with the crises facing this country. right now what he does by virtue of these tweets is to generate crisis, to generate chaos. rather than dealing with the problems that he's facing, which are significant, whether it is the economy or syria or trade or all of these other issues, that's what he ought to be focusing on. to focus on this issue of bob mueller and the investigation and focus on tearing people apart i think undermines his ability as president to be able to serve this country properly. >> we talked about john kelly, a man who worked for you, general john kelly, serving in the position that you held under president clinton as chief of staff. to the extent you can share with us, how difficult is his job? >> how much influence does he
have at this point? >> well, i have a tremendous regard for john kelly. he was my military aide at the defense department and i found him to be somebody truly dedicated to this country and with a tremendous amount of respect for commanders in chief. he has a tough job. he has tried to put a chain of manned in place. he has tried to put some discipline in place, but he is dealing with a principle who doesn't want to abide by any of the discipline. how can you be effective at developing policy for the country if you have a president that wakes up early in the morning and starts tweeting about different issues? how can you possibly respond effectively to setting some kind of strategy for this country when a president doesn't want to abide by any strategy or process? >> so he's frustrated. >> it makes it almost impossible. >> he is frustrated, fair to say? >> i have to believe he is a very frustrated guy, but if i know john kelly, he will keep fighting until he feels, you know, he -- he wants to do what
is best for the country, and he will keep doing that as long as he can. >> david ignatius. >> mr. secretary, we had the bizarre situation this week in which the president was taunting nuclear-armed superpower, russia, with the threat of u.s. missile strikes in an almost playground way. the question i want to ask you is whether you think danger of actual military conflict between the u.s. and russia is significant and, more broadly, in this period when we are just hyper about anything that involves russia, what do you think the right path forward is for the u.s. and russia? >> well, david, this is probably not a bad time. i know the president probably doesn't read much, but if he could read something, reading "the guns of august" about how we got into world war i might not be a bad read for him or his aides, because i think what happened there is that there was an assumption that somehow we
could deal with the problems in the world. and the failure of leadership at that time resulted in bad judgments and bad consequences that led us into a war. i think it could happen here. this is a dangerous situation. there are risks involved with regards to what action is going to be taken, but i think the most important thing for the president to decide is what is -- and for the administration, what is the fundamental objective here? if the fundamental objective is to deal with syria and their use of chemical warfare, then the objective has to be to make sure that assad never uses chemical warfare again. that should be the objective. if that's the objective, it is a combination of using military capability plus diplomatic capability to try to force russia, china, others to come together and say what steps is assad going to take to ensure
that he never uses chemical weapons again. that would require an inspection regime, it would require a follow-up, it would require careful diplomatic strategies to make that happen. that should be the goal, but i'm not sure that a lot of thought has been given to that. >> mr. secretary, in your mind would that approach, if it was possible, be preferable to the, you know, wham, launch a missile and drop it on some air field? would you rather see the former or the latter? >> let's not kid anybody. we have a lot of leverage right now in terms of the potential of a military strike. the question is whether we can use that leverage to get to our objective, which is an assad who will not use chemical weapons in the future. that was the mistake last year. we hit 'em and there was no follow-up, and the result is we're facing exactly the same situation now. if we hit them military now
without any kind of strategy, what will happen is in a few months he will do it again. so the goal here has to be to take steps to say, we will use military action if we do not get the kind of response that we want that will guarantee this will never happen again. this is a good moment to use diplomatic capability. i'm not sure whether this administration has that capability right now. we're focusing on the military side. i'm not sure how much we're focusing on the diplomatic side. that's what bothers me. >> yikes. heidi. >> you're focusing on diplomacy, but the reporting is there are forces both within the white house and within congress pushing for something more than a pin-pick site, pushing up for massive follow-up. this is the time to drill down on it for the american people. can you speak about the speck consequences of that being more
da dangerous for us than iraq because because you have major world powers impended in eye rand and russia and we have told the ayatollah and putin and assad that we may strike, meaning they are marshaling all of their defenses. >> well, my concern right now is the longer this process goes on, the riskier it gets. you know, we indicated we were going to strike. it has now taken a number of days to try to move towards some kind of potential strike. in the meantime i'm sure the russian goe russians, the iranians and the syrians have taken steps to protect their targets and developed ways the respond to a u.s. attack. it has made it riskier right now. so what has to be done right now is not to back away, i mean to continue our military planning, to continue to look at what targets we might be able to hit, but to use it as leverage to try to force these countries to put pressure on assad to step away
from chemical warfare and make clear that it cannot happen again, and we have to be assured that syria will never do this again. that's the tricky part here. i'm not saying that's easy. >> no. >> but that is what needs to be done for the sake of establishing some kind of peaceful solution here to what otherwise could be a very dangerous and escalating conflict. >> if president trump's meeting with nato was contentious, his meet with vladimir putin was anything but. up next, our conversation with former secretary of state madeli madeleine albright who called the president's behavior in her words unamerican. we'll be right back. even when i was there, i never knew when my symptoms would keep us apart. so i talked to my doctor about humira. i learned humira can help get, and keep uc under control
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>> that background only amplified her sheer disbelief in what she saw when president trump stood side-by-side with vladimir putin in helsinki. here is our conversation with the former secretary of state the morning after that summit. >> as someone who has been on stages like that yesterday, as someone who has sat in rooms with the russian president, as someone who sat across from adversaries, what were your impressions as you watched that news conference yesterday? >> well, i have to say many impressions, but mostly stunned disbelief at the behavior of the president of the united states in terms of not defending our country and really bending to the kinds of things that putin really wanted. i think trump is the gift that keeps giving to putin. >> and, secretary all brighbrigt do you suspect? what is going on here?
what do we see when we see a president not willing to defend the 5 the united states? >> i find it hard to get inside president trump's mind. i'm not a shrink, but i think there are other things going on in terms of what his desires are or that he doesn't understand what the responsibilities are of the president of the united states. what worries me -- there are many parts that worry me, but what really worries me, what went on in that meeting where nobody was. >> right. >> i found very interesting in the picture before they go into their private meeting is putin is sitting there with a pad of paper. i have been with putin. he takes notes. he is very smart. there's no idea about what president trump did in there and what he promised and revealed. >> and it is a question we've been asking and we'll continue to ask, why did president trump insist on being alone in a room for two hours with vladimir
putin, without his secretary of state, without his national security adviser or any of the typical people you would see there? >> well, because he is meeting with vladimir putin you can be assured there's a transcript somehow and it is probably in moscow. madam secretary, when you were secretary of state one of the function goes of the secretary of state is to appear before various senate and house committees multiple times and therefore you appeared before members of the senate foreign relations committee, house foreign relations committee who are fairly well-versed in international affairs. are you surprised, given what has happened not just yesterday but repeatedly in lesser -- in lesser volume over the past several months of the trump presidency that there has been such muted sponsor reaction or criticism of what this man, mr. trump, is doing to this country's image abroad? >> i am surprised that congress has not reacted more because they do ruepresent the people.
i have to say that those hearings you prepare for, you think about, and you are prepared for some tough questions. i do think that there needs to be more action by our congress. article 1 is about the roll of congress across the board, but especially in foreign policy. and so i do hope that there's more call for explanation by the representatives of the people. >> madeleine albright, it is great to have you here, madam secretary. let me ask you, what would your advice be to mike pompeo today, someone who has spoken out as cia director against what russia did in 2016, someone who has spoken out against russian aggression in -- even since then? what advice do you have for him this morning after the president of the united states humiliated himself in front of the world? >> well, it is very hard to
advise somebody that doesn't consult, but i think basically it is important for them to understand all the people that work for president trump, what their responsibilities are. but i do think that people need to recognize that they took an oath of office themselves to protect the constitution, and i think everybody has to make up their own minds about how they're going to react. but i do think -- i can't visualize what the meetings must be like after something like this. does anybody say to him, to the president, what in god's name were you thinking about when you did that? because somebody needs to make it clear to president trump that his behavior in that press conference was unamerican, outrageous, ridiculous, stupid. i can't even think of all of the adjectives that i think should be attributed to that behavior. >> madam secretary, it is richard haas here. good morning. what would you now say that the
president of the united states or the u.s. government more broadly should say to mr. putin? what should we be doing both in retaliation against russian interference and what ideally do you think we should basically threaten mr. putin with in order to deter future interference in our poll sicks? -- ol poc -- our politics? >> there should be conversations with the russians. i think diplomacy is important and to have those conversations at a varpt of different levels. i think our best tool at the moment continues to be sanctions, and i think we need to make clear not only are the ones that are on will stay on but there might be some tougher ones, given some of the things that mr. mueller came up with, and to keep the pressure on. i think we need to have more outpouring of outrage by members of congress on this and just generally talking about the fact that we need to keep the
pressure on the russians, but not to say we will never talk to them. that's ridiculous. i have been in many tough meetings and i was with putin, and i think one has to push back, not just agree, oh, you're so smart and thank you so much for helping and a variety of things that are unacceptable for an american president to say ever, especially on foreign soil standing next to the man that, in fact, has undermine our electoral process. >> should we try to weaken putin's internal position? should we be prepared to play fire by fire to weaken russian politic? >> think we have to figure out generally how to operate in the cyber field. we need to understand as some have already said that putin is a kgb agent. he is better at propaganda than anybody, and also at lying. i think the important part is for us to look at what tools we have and try to figure out how to explain why democracy works
and why you don't congratulate somebody that has won an election without an opponent that can have any voice to speak. i think we need to talk about the importance of the press and not agree that the press is the enemy of the people. >> madam secretary, this is katty kay here. i've had diplomatic calls over the last few days suggesting that the trans atlantic alliance and remgsship can survive four years of donald trump but probably not eight years. in the context of what happened yesterday with vladimir putin, where does this leave europe now. what should european countries be doing to fortify their own security? the germans have suggested we can't rely on america anymore. >> i think it is a tragedy when our allies say they can't rely on us. i have obviously spent a lot of time in europe generally, and just before all of this took place, and i think our allies have trouble explaining what was going on before. i do think that it is possible for the europeans to is a strong
european defense and try to sort out what the eu should be doing, but i don't think they should give up on america. i think that there are a number of ways that those of us that have been involved in this before need to keep restating that we are an alliance, swren rally in terms of our values, that we need to continue to work together and that we are all resilient and we will get over this. but we cannot normalize the behavior of president trump. i thank you for mentioning my book, joe. i really to think that i have said that it is a warning, that one of the things, the best quote in my book is from mussolini who said, m if you plk the chicken one further at a time nobody will notice. we have plucked a lot of feathers here and i think it is clear that trump has overplucked
and we need to make sure what is going on. >> madam secretary, your experiences in your life, being tric driven out of europe, two close friends of yours throughout their entire lives, put so much into sharp release, especially considering you and try to force brzenski spent much of your lives fighting against the spread of communism throughout europe. >> no question. i think that the whole -- putin has a plan. he wants to undermine democracy. he wants to separate us from our allies in europe. he wants to reassert influence in the middle east, and our president is a help in all of this. there is a term that the russians use, it is called useful idiot. i to think that whatever
president trump thought he was saying, he definitely helped putin's plans for getting back into the game and for undermining democracy in europe. we cannot allow that to happen. >> up next from face-to-face meetings to secret spy craft, we'll flip the coin from diplomacy to espionage when former cia director john brennan joined our conversation, he weighed in straight ahead. weighed in straight ahead. they're handing us more than mail they're handing us their business and while we make more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country, we never forget... that your business is our business the united states postal service. priority: you ♪ to take care of yourself. but nature's bounty has innovative ways to help you maintain balance
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now to the last installment this morning of our wide-ranging conversations with former cia director john brennan. he's now an nbc news senior national security analyst and offered his unique perspective on president trump's dealings with vladimir putin. it seems that yesterday was a moment that triggered many to finally say the president had gone too far. what do you believe in the best interests not only of america's intel agencies but also the best interests of america's national security, did those patriotic republicans need to do take on the hill? >> well, i think there's a big question first of all in terms of those who are on mr. trump's national security team, whether they can continue to serve in good conscience an individual
who basically betrayed his nation. but then the legislators on the hill, especially the republicans, need to ask themselves what they should do in order to try to protect and preserve this country's liberties and freedoms. despite having mr. trump in the oval office. so i think the outcry needs to be strong, it needs to endure, and they need to also take action, whether it is a scensur or whether or not they're going to decide it is not the republican party they once knew, that they need to step away from it like you did. those republicans on the hill need to speak out and criticize. they newt to ped to put pressur. trump and send a clear signal it is intolerable and they're going to act upon it. >> mr. director, obviously dan coates yesterday moved quickly and honorably to stand up for the men and the women who have given their entire adult lives to america's intel agency.
also the men and women in uniform that helped in uncovering the interference in america's democratic process in 2016. would you recommend, do you believe it is actually necessary for other members of donald trump's foreign policy team and intel community like mike pompeo, like the secretary of defense, general mattis, to come out today with similar statements supporting and defending the men and women who sacrifice everything often in defending this country? >> well, good on dan coates to stand up for the women and men of the intelligence community and those who are going to be silent in this administration are complicit. so they need to be able to speak out very strongly. but what mr. trump did yesterday was to betray the women and men
of the fbi, the cia, nsa and others and to betray the american public. that's why i used the term this was nothing short of treason us because it is a betrayal of the nation. he is giving aid and comfort to the enemy and it sneeds needs t and mr. trump needs to understand there will be consequences for him too. i do hope those who voted for mr. trump will see he is leading us down a very dangerous path, and it is a dangerous path. we don't want mr. putin to walk away from that meeting, thinking he can get away with whatever he wants. >> the most dangerous thing that could happen in your mind in that meeting when you have president putin, a skilled interrogator questioning, talking with conversationally with the president of the united states who is so limited in his knowledge of the world and his knowledge of what intelligence truly means. >> you point out mr. putin is a skilled and trained kgb officer, a master manipulator who has decades of experience. mr. trump is way, way out of his
depth when he goes into a one-on-one with mr. putin. as you point out, u.s. intelligence capabilities are exceptionally precious, but also exceptionally delicate. i don't know what mr. trump might have said in that meeting that could have, in fact, compromised or impacted those capabilities. i just don't know. i still do not understand why he didn't trust a john bolton, a mike pompeo and a john kelly to be in that meeting and to hear what he said and to hear what mr. putin said. that raises the cockles on my back. it gets me very upset and angry. then when i saw the performance in the press conference where he could have done what was minimally acceptable, which is to say that russia interfered in the election, we need to address that and we need to move on even, but we're going to hold russia to account. he didn't do that. he sided with mr. putin and he threw the intelligence community, the fbi, the department of justice and others fully under the bus. >> is it likely, mr. director,
that the russians recorded that two-hour conversation? >> oh, i would find it unbelievable if they didn't in some manner, yes. >> and did americans record it as well do you suspect? >> i have no idea. >> but either way, it is likely somewhere there exists a recording of what happened in that room? >> i think whatever mr. trump said in that meeting with mr. putin is now memorialized on russian tape and it will be used as necessary by mr. putin against mr. trump. >> presumably mr. trump would have known going into the meeting there was a chance the russians were recording it? >> i'm sure he was told that. whether he would have known that is something else. whether he accepts what he is told by the men and women of the cia and the intelligence community, i don't know. >> that could be used as compromising information. i understand as former cia director there's classified information you're not going to share with us on national television, but the question has to be asked based on what we saw yesterday and madeleine albright raised it a few minutes ago,
does vladimir putin, does the russian government have something personally on donald trump? >> well, donald trump knows what he has done and he has known -- he knows what might the russians be aware of. so i think his actions towards mr. putin may reflect that concern in terms of what is in donald trump's past that the russians have and might use against him. >> is there anything you can characterize for us that perhaps russia might have on donald trump? >> i'm not going to go into that at all. >> but it does exist? >> no, i'm not saying it kpipss at all. i'm just saying that trump knows and i think that's why he's been so desperate to stop the mueller investigation, because clearly he is concerned and very, i think, fearful about what might be exposed during that investigation. >> given the behavior and the danger that accrues to people who are in the intelligence gathering business and given their obligation to report this intelligence to the leaders of this country, but given the
attitude of the president of the united states towards the intelligence community and the behavior and the intellect of the president of the united states, would there be a tendency for intelligence gatherers, briefers to withhold vital intelligence to the president? >> there very well might be. there might be out of concern. there are things that as director of cia i wouldn't share details with the president of the united states or individuals outside of cia because you're trying to protect the capabilities, and you don't want to give anybody any information that they don't need. so i don't know whether or not mr. trump has been questioning his intelligence briefers about the capabilities and how he's going to handle and protect that information. i don't know. but i think these are questions that the intelligence community is asking itself, what is mr. trump up to when he meets -- as an intelligence officer we were not allowed to meet privately with any russian, much less a russian official.
it is something that we don't do unless there's some type of formal approval. but meeting one-on-one with a russian intelligence officer, that is something cia officers are well-trained to be able to be aware of what they might try to do to exploit that relationship. >> john, what do you see now as russian foreign policy goes? what do you think putin's definition of success is, and how close after this week, how close do you think he is to realizing success? >> well, i think he is very confident and comfortable now that mr. trump is not going to hold mr. putin and the russians to account for the interference in the election. although i think they are rejoicing at how well the helsinki summit and meetings went, mr. putin might be concerned that -- that trump went beyond where he should have gone and now it is making it very difficult for trump to continue in this -- you know, with this relationship because of the outcry from both sides of the aisle. i think even mr. putin is thinking that trump has gone
well beyond what was seen as acceptable. >> do you think in any way he was made nervous by the mueller indictments, the degree about the sbes fisity of the gru, do we know more what they're up to than he had perhaps surmised? >> that's a good question. i think the department and the intelligence community did an excellent job not only in tracing the forensics but doing it in a manner that will not compromise or reveal collection capabilities. i think it sends a strong signal to russia and putin, you think you're good at cyber? we're better at cyber than you are. i wish trump would say, you try to rattle our cages and we're going to rattle your cages beyond what you thought we could do. we need to make it clear to mr. putin he cannot do this and get away with it. that's why dan coates and gina haspel and others need to be on top of their gain and speak trulgt trulgt truth to power. >> we asked jeh johnson to weigh
in on the administration's policy to pull apart families at the southern border. our conversation with the former cabinet official is next. we will be right back. xt we will be right back. i'm ken jacobus, i'm the owner of good start packaging. we distribute environmentally-friendly packaging for restaurants. and we've grown substantially. so i switched to the spark cash card from capital one. i earn unlimited 2% cash back on everything i buy. and last year, i earned $36,000 in cash back. that's right, $36,000. which i used to offer health insurance to my employees. my unlimited 2% cash back is more than just a perk,
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well, president trump often looks to hang the subject on a daily or even hourly basis. one issue in particular was impossible to shake quickly, the forced separation of thousands of children from their families at the southern border. >> we sat down with the former secretary of homeland security, jeh johnson, about that and much more. take a look. under the law a person qualifies for asylum in this country if they can demonstrate they're part of a particular group in their home country that is in some way being persecuted by the government. in 2014 the immigration courts began to accept claims from women who were victims of domestic violence because the government in those countries in central america were basically
unwilling or unable to do anything about it. so as a lass tclass the immigra courts began to recognize these are people, and these are heartbreaking cases. >> right. >> a woman, who example, was beaten eight months pregnant, began to recognize these are the types of people who as a class should qualify from asylum in this country. it is regrettable the attorney general has decided to reverse that, and it probably will go to the appellate courts from here and we'll see what happens. >> noah, what's the counter point to this? is there one? >> as the secretary mentioned, this is statute. if congress wants to act and create conditions where there is, for example, an exception for individuals who are under duress, one of the individuals who received a lot of attention was somebody who worked for a terrorist organization, forced into it, and the two-one decision said she has to be returned to her home country. is that unjust?
sure, but the statute is the statute. if congress wants to address this, and they're fully aware of the problem, they can and should. but it is not the province of the justice department to make up law. >> mike? >> there are statutes. there's also, i think, a pretty much universal concern about protecting our borders among all-americans. it is just common sense to do that. there's also judgment and there's also, i think an el mant -- element of morality in this. >> of course. >> where does it fit in, this aggressive call to separating children from their parents at the borders? it is just upsetting i think for average people to read about, to see it. where are we on that? under what code are we doing this and what other aspects -- what else could we do to make it more humane? >> mike, for three years i had the responsibility foreign forcing our immigration laws, and in three years on my watch we probably deported or returned
or repatriated about a million people to enforce border security. one of the things that i could not do is separate a child from his or her mother and literally pull a child from its mother's arms. i spent days arms. i spent days and hours in south texas with these families and i know what you literally see at the border are women clinging to their young children and i couldn't separate a child from its mother. i couldn't ask an i.c.e. officer or border patrol agent to do that. nor could i even send that message as a deterrent. i think there is room in the enforcement of our immigration laws for a certain degree of humanity and american values. this, frankly, is not who we are as a nation. nor do i think what we're doing right now with our federal justice system, trying to literally prosecute everyone in this zero tolerance policy is something that can sustain itself. there's something like 50,000 people now coming across the southern border per month.
there's no way that you can sustain that volume of people in trying to prosecute everybody in some zero tolerance policy. so the lesson learned from all of this in my three years, illegal migration reacts sharply to perceived changes in enforcement policy. we saw that in 2014. the numbers went down. but it always reverts to the longer-term trends. the poverty and violence in those countries. we're going to be dealing with this for a long time. the current administration is finding that out. >> you talked about some of the practical implications? what is the nation's moral standing? and there's a report about erecting temporary facilities near the border to provide some sort of housing.
is that something that could work? what do you make of that? >> well, i've seen that movie before. we had to create temporary facilities in the summer of 2014 when we had the surge. first of all, it's hugely expensive. it's a budget buster. you simply cannot detain everyone. there is going to be a large volume of people, no matter what you do, who have to be released on bail or some circumstances of release pending their deportation proceeding. so the reality is illegal migration is a fraction of what it used to be. but the demographic has totally changed. it's women and children from central america. almost all of whom are pleading for asylum in this country. that's a more complex environment. unless we deal with the underlying circumstances, we're going to continue to bang our head against the wall here. >> in 2016, an inspector general report said about 84% of the children they placed are sponsors could be located. another 4,159 went missing.
this is essentially the policy that was bequeathed to the trump administration, correct? >> what happens when you have an unaccompanied child cross the border, the law requires that homeland security security turn that child over to the department of hhs within 48 hours. and hhs then has these large shelters and they try to place the child with a family member or some other suitable circumstance and when you have spikes like this and you're dealing with the volume we're dealing with now, 50,000 a month, it's very, very difficult for hhs to keep up with where they place these people. their first priority is getting them out of the shelters and putting them in a suitable home of some sort. very often when there is follow-through, the child has moved on, gone to another family circumstance, something of that nature. >> look back, during the summer
when the story really took off there were these images of children sort of in cages. there was a suggestion some of that was happening now. was that something that was happening for you? what can be done to prevent that sort of disturbing image that upset so many people? >> it's the nature of the demographic we're dealing with now. we see far more women and children from central america crossing our border. they're placed in a border detention facility where they're processed, they're screened for health reasons. there's a risk of flight assessment. and the way the infrastructure exists right now, it's not necessarily equipped to deal with families, the stereotypical migrant coming from mexico or the south is a single adult from mexico. and so you see these images and very clearly those images could have just as easily existed in 2014, 2015, 2016, and they are
heartbreaking. i saw them in person. i spent hours talking to these women and children about why they would make this journey. but one thing i would not do is separate a child from his mother. just couldn't do that. >> when you look at everything going on from your perspective, what keeps you up at night? >> the best question to ask a national security official, everyone asks me that question. best question to ask is what is the gap in information between what i know reading "the new york times," versus what you know reading. sometimes the gap is very big. sometimes the gap is very small. the thing that kept me up at night was homegrown violent extremism. the next orlando. the next san bernardino-style attack. i am these days a little depressed about frankly the state of our politics. we have a president who denigrates the institutions of his own government.
which i simply cannot get my head around. and then when we look at the primary results last night from south carolina, mark sanford, who, in my experience, is a very thoughtful member of congress. he was on the house homeland security committee. he would sit for the entire hearing. he was the most junior member. he always asked the most insightful question. it wasn't a knee-jerk question requiring a knee-jerk response. it's depressing to me to see a member of congress like that lose re-election. >> stay with msnbc for all your news and breaking headlines. we'll see you right here tomorrow morning live at 6:00 a.m. have a great labor day. hey, no big deal. you've got a good record and liberty mutual won't hold a grudge by raising your rates over one mistake. you hear that, karen? liberty mutual doesn't hold grudges... how mature of them.
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♪ now i've got you in my sights ♪ applebee's new 3-course meal starting at $11.99. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood. good morning. i'm chris jansing in for stephanie ruhle this labor day. this morning, access not granted. with brent kavanaugh's confirmation hearing set to begin tomorrow, democrats are furious over the trump administration's blocking access to a trove of records for his supreme court nominee. >> it's not normal because we are not able to see 100,000 documents that the archivist has just -- because the administration has said we can't see them. >> tell me what you really think. americans sounding off ahead of november's midterms, emblematic of battles playing out across kitchen tables across the countr