tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC February 15, 2017 8:30pm-9:01pm PST
we ought to get going. that does it for us. thank you for being with us. "hardball" begins right now. russian roulette, this is "la" "" -- "hardball". >> good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. it's getting whacky. two days ago president trump sacked his national security adviser michael flynn saying he didn't trust him. today he said it was the media who booted him. or does it the intel community? >> michael flynn, general flynn is a wonderful man. i think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media. as i call it, the fake media in many cases. and i think it's really a sad thing that he was treated so
badly. >> again, donald trump is the man that fired flynn, not the media. that's not fake news. it's just news. just yesterday his press secretary sean spicer said flynn was terminated because he misled the vice president about his conversations with the russian ambassador to the united states. today's whackiness comes on a day "the new york times" broke news about russian officials and trump campaign aides last year. according to times report, phone records and intercepted calls show that members of donald trump's 2016 presidential campaign and other trump associates had repeated contacts with senior russian intelligence officials in the year before the election. well, times notes that law enforcement officials found no evidence of collusion when trump's aides and the russians and it's not known what was discussed in the calls. and nbc news reports have determined while some trump campaign aides and business associates were in contact with
russians, there's no indication the russians were all intelligence officers. according to new york times, one person picked up on the calls for paul manafort. manafort told nbc news he had no contact knowingly with russian intelligence officials. president trump responded to the story this morning on twitter writing the fake news media is going crazy with conspiracy theories and blind hatred, and this russian connection nonsense is merely an attempt to cover up the many mistakes made in hillary clinton's losing campaign. this is like precious bodily fluids from dr. strange love. another setback for the trump administration, late today the pick for labor secretary withdrew his nomination after it became clear he didn't have the republican votes he needed to win confirmation. our panel is here. jeff, i want you to weigh in on
this thing. i don't think anybody said anything quite like a president. this is strange. one day he puts out the fact threw his press secretary that he fired the guy with extreme prejudice because he didn't trust him, and now today 24 hours after the press secretary speaks the thoughts of the president, he says no, it was the media. oh, yeah, it was the intel community. >> well, to paraphrase a question, why is this event not different from any other event? if you watched trump in the last 15 months and you came out expecting a kind of studied, rational, coherent, consistent response to various realities, you weren't watching what was going on. this is who he is. shark's got to swim. bat's got to fly, and donald trump got a lot further than any of us thought we would do by constructing his own sense of what's real and what's fake and what two plus two equals. >> well said. let's go to the two newspapers
doing a bangup job. this is like the old days of chicago in the 30s. front page with nathan lane. you guys are batting it out. i'm not going to say who's winning. let's start with mark at the times. this story, it keeps growing. let's talk about your report. main story this morning on the right-hand side side, it's always the main story. these contacts between trump officials and russians. do we know what that means besides that those occurred? >> well, we have to stipulate there's a lot we don't know. we don't know the content of the conversations. there's no evidence as you said earlier, of collusion between the trump officials. >> they weren't valentine's, they were something. >> absolutely, and they were coming at key moments throughout the year before the election and after the election. so it suggests that this communication was on ongoing thing. this is what democrats always suspected, and i think story has new momentum. it was sort of i think a bit of
a game changer in this story to establish that pattern of contacts? >> we had the stuff over the superstructure of the stories. there you have presidential candidate sort of cheering on intelligence based. can you leak more stuff about the dnc, get some more stuff out about hillary clinton? that's stuff on the surface. so underneath, do we know how much waving on we were getting from the trump people to the russians? to destroy the hillary clinton campaign as much as they could? >> this is the big question. what were these communications. and was there an attempt by the russians to influence the election through donald trump himself? >> let's talk about some people we know. jeff, you get in here. you're a new york guy and know the history of politics. what is roger stone doing in this? what is manafort going? how come trump kws mafort. why are they all knowing each other is my question, to start
with. >> you know, i spent a fair amount of time writing political sati satire, and when you list things like that, i can't answer that question. roger stone has been at donald trump's side. i remember him escorting trump onto a convention floor several conventions ago when he was going to run for president and we thought it was a joke. the question about paul manafort, who was engaged in helping prose, you mentioned soviet. it's funny i had that same instinct to call them soviets. prorussian ukraines. there's entanglement. one of the things that helped trump is the different skeins of this raise so many questions that it's hard to focus on any one strain and say that's what we have to question. the question i think really comes down to the senate republicans who have looked at trump as their instrument for getting a lot of good things done and have tended to overlook a lot of things. are they beginning to see this
as a series of questions institutionally that have to be answered. >> he told cnn he didn't know if any laws were broken but serious questions were raised by the times report this morning. and here's senator mccain. >> we know that the russians attempted to affect the outcome of the election, we know that. although we don't think they succeeded, but there is information. >> do you think there's any evidence of coordination between the trump campaign -- >> it's too early. but it raises serious questions. >> well, there's mccain. a real patriot. also today chuck grassly and diane feinstein sent a letter to the justice department requesting information about michael flynn's communications with russian officials. let me ask you about this.
who wants to start with the big one? jen, i'll give you the big one. there were two campaigns last year. there was trump's campaign for president, an unlikely campaign with success. there was the russian campaign led by vladimir putin to rebuild something of the soviet empire to try to rebuild their influence to perhaps finlandize, ukraine, recane that larger empire they lost at the end of the cold war. how are they working together? >> there are a lot of similarities between how putin thinks and acts and how donald trump thinks and acts. and there's also a worldwide movement going on with a lot of people wanting to protect their borders and their way of life, and that's playing out. >> but on this particular thing which is there's an ambition, the guy without the shirt on, the guy who thinks he's macho,
maybe he is like donald trump. trying to rebuild with the soviets had and the russians have lost. with the help of the american president or something, some indirect shot at time. >> and the big question here is leaving aside the personality traits that they do share in common, there is clearly a big question about why donald trump has consistently throughout before during and after the election, taken positions that appear to favor the russians, that appear to take a softer line. there was a very -- >> by the way another soft line from him. after obama's people slapped the sanctions on him for middling with the elections, he did nothing after a conversation with michael flynn. which you might wonder are they flying footsie in. >> what is michael flynn sing to the russian ambassador, maybe don't worry because we're about to come in. we c maybe take care of this situation. donald trump attacked the intelligence community today over leaks to the media. information is being illegally given to the failing new york times and washington post by the
intelligence community and then saying fbi just like russia. and here's more. and the real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by intelligence like candy. un-american. and this is trump earlier today. >> from intelligence papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. it's a criminal action, criminal act. and it's been going on for a long time before me. but now it's really going on. and people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the democrats had under hillary clinton. >> jeff, i'd like to ask this question the way that the strongest trump supporter in the world has a problem trying figure this out. we all are. trump said it was the media, and the intelligence community that brought down michael flynn. but on the fact yesterday, and his press secretary said this for him as well as what he said in sacking him, i'm doing it because i don't trust the guy, and now the president is saying
i wish they hadn't told me i didn't trust the guy because when i have to get rid of him. this is strange for any trump supporter to swallow. >> i was in philadelphia talking to trump supporters over the weekend. on the big picture, they say he's doing what we want him to do. he has problems. we hope he gets more stable, but that travel ban, that's what we want. the wall is what we want. the supreme court justices are what we want, and i think what we're going to see, it's hard to remember this is like 27 days, not eight years. is is there a point at which trump's liabilities, the instability, the complete inability to recognize reality is going to bother the people who have been for trump because of what they think he will accomplish elsewhere. the answer? your guess is as good as mine. >> thank you all. up next, news that trump campaign aitds were in constant contact with russian officials
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welcome back to hardball. recent reporting for the washington post and "the new york times" has brought new attention to the intrigue involving president trump and vladimir putin. let's look back at some of the statements mr. trump has made about putin so far. >> i think i'd get along very well with vladimir putin. i just think so. >> i got to know him very well because we were both on 60 minutes. >> i would get along with putin. i've dealt with. >> i think putin has been a strong leader for russia. stronger than our leader. >> putin said donald trump is a
genius. >> putin said call me a genius. >> when people like me, i like them, even putin. >> i'm going to disavow a statement when somebody calls me a genius? >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> he does have an 82% approval rating according to the different pollsters. >> put season a killer. >> there are a lot of killers. got a lot of killers. you think our country is so innocent in. >> even prior to that candidacy, trump aspired to be to the become putin's pal. in 2013 he asked do you think putin will be going to the miss universe pageant in november, if so, will he be my best friend. also later that same here. here we go. >> do you have a relationship with vladimir putin, a conversation relationship, or
anything that you feel you have sway or influence over his government? >> i do have a relationship, and i can tell you that he's very interested in what we're doing here today. >> mr. trump has denied business dealings with russia. his son told a conference in 2008 that russians make a pretty disproportionate cross section of our assets. in terms of policy, trump's campaign during the convention removed a platform plank that criticized russian for crimea. >> why did you soften the gop platform on ukraine? >> i wasn't involved in that. the people of crimea, from what i've heard, would rather be with russia than where they were. and you have to look at that also. >> well, now in light of more recent developments, trump's past behavior toward russian
raises questions. malcolm nance, and timhiner. gentleman, i want you both to tell us what you know and act like you're being investigators rather than journalists. malcolm, first of all, if you were heading up the fbi right now in terms of counterintelligence, where would you like to find out the dots connect? >> well, we already know fbi has fiezer warrants. i would be doing what we've seen. we are coordinating or they are coordinating with the national security agencies. they're coordinating with the central intention agency, and however, getting that warrant also allowed them to take in intelligence from other foreign intelligence collectors. the ukrainians, estonia, french ghq in england.
there's an enormous amount of collection power. i would scrub every correction and try to determine exactly what they're trying to determine now. are these people connected to russian spies? are they being handled by russian spies? are they russian spies? >> can we tell using modern electronics and data collection if somebody has talked on the phone? can we get a universal look at all communication pretty much now? how -- what percentage of communication can we nail down? >> well, not universal look at communications. we get a focussed look, target or ye oriented look. if we're going after a specific target, we'll use specific multibillion dollar systems to hone down on what we know about their communications and branch out from there and see if it interconnects with any known intelligence assets, our intelligence agencies, and this
is apparently what's most likely being done right now. and it could be unwitting. they may not know they're being handled by russian intelligence officers, however, the connections that they have regarding russia should be suspect to anyone who is making those. the fsb, formerly the kgb never stopped working. >> yeah. let me get to tim. give me or after a historic -- what's been going on the last several weeks? however have they progressed? it's like google. malcolm said let's punch in paul manafort, roger stone, somebody else, and see if that connects in any way to the kremlin. >> the american people are getting a look in realtime at the most politically charged counterintelligence investigation since the soviets stole the request of the atomic bomb at the end of world war ii.
>> so class feuds involved? >> yeah. that was a case that took almost ten years from beginning to end. this is moving a lot faster because technology has improved in terms of intelligence gathering. but we're in a case now you were harkening back to water gate. this is a case -- >> not harkening back. the encryptions. i'm going back to vanona, the way we got all the communication between moscow and america during and before the second world war. that kind of stuff. >> sure, but here we have a case where it's not the coverup. it's the crime. we know what the coverup is. it's lying about the crime. what is the crime here? >> what do you think the crime could be? >> collaboration between russian intelligence services and americans to disrupt the united states electoral system and american democracy. >> could that be a prior, simultaneous or after the fact?
can you be accessory after the fact to that kind of fist fiddling with our election process, or it would have to be prior or simultaneous? >> i think that if you are conducting an operation wittingly with an agent of a foreign power, you are in for a world of pain, now, mike flynn, if he delivered flynn facts that is falsehoods to the fbi during his interview, he is looking at slammer time. >> thank you malcolm and tim. when we return, let me finish with trump watch. this is hardball where the action is.
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you're driving the car and the key to soour success is a yes o no. will you increase the good paying jobs or fail? yes or no. and that is the question let's try to have a good answer for. not the conspiracy theories about bus loads of voters. who needs conspiracy theories if you have the right? what good will that be if you boot the reason you were running for president. the reason people voted for you. good paying jobs. if you can't liver on that, all king's horses and king's men won't be able to put humpty dumpty together again. that's you, by the way.
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for an erection lasting more than four hours. if you have a sudden decrease or loss of hearing or vision, or an allergic reaction, stop taking cialis and get medical help right away. ask your doctor about cialis. okay, steve bannon. steve bannon, his title at the white house is chief strategist and senior counselor to the president of the united states. aside from the president himself, steve bannon is the other identifiable person who appears to be running things, directing things for the white house and the new administration. it's interesting for somebody like him to have that impressive, that powerful a political job not just because of his own ideology, his own politics or anything else you might be interested in about him, it's flat out interesting for him to have such a high level in the federal government specifically because of the fact he's never had a job in politics before.