tv Morning Joe MSNBC May 16, 2017 3:00am-6:01am PDT
tuesday. i'm yasmin vossoughian alongside louis burgdorf and. "morning joe" starts right now. good morning and welcome to "morning joe," another morning, another damaging report for the trump white house, yet another. it's chaos. "the washington post" out yesterday with the screaming headline, trump revealed highly classified information to russian foreign minister and ambassador. with us to break it down this morning, we have the co-authority of the report, national security correspondent for "the washington post," greg miller lt columnist and associate editor for "the washington post" david ignatius. former treasury official steve rattner and msnbc political contributor rick tyler. a lot to break down. "the post" broke the story, later matched by buzzfeed and
reuters alleging president trump revealed highly classified information to the russian ambassador in a face-to-face meeting. according to the paper, the information considered so sensiti sensitive, details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the u.s. government. the foreign partner had given the u.s. permission to share the information with russia, and trump's decision to do so reportedly endanger z cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the islamic state. officials told "the post" trump revealed the city in the islamic state's territory where the intelligence partner detected the threat. "the washington post" is withholding the information at the urging of officials within the trump administration who warned it would jep diesz important intelligence capabilities.
u.s. officials said this is code word information, terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels. white house national security adviser h.r. mcmaster appeared before the cameras to try and push back on that report. >> the story that came out tonight as reported is false. the president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation. at no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed, and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. two other senior officials who were present including the secretary of state remember the meeting the same way and have said so. they're on the record account should outweigh those of anonymous services. i was in the room. it didn't happen. >> didn't take any more questions. >> talked for 60 seconds. greg miller, the ambassador
talked for 60 seconds. the general didn't answer any questions, and even conservatives last night were saying it was the classic non-denial denial, straight out of the annals of watergate. >> he's giving a head fake at a men um, saying the president did not reveal sources and meth those. that's who what our story alleges. but instead what those sources and methods had obtained, had collected, the information that came through those sources and methods. and in all of the statements from the white house last night, none of them could answer why if this was so ordinary and not a big deal, why was it necessary for mcmaster's own staff to come out of that meeting, call right
away, place calls to the cia director and director of the national security agency -- >> that really is the key. it's like when the white house a couple days ago is pushing back on the story of the deputy attorney general. the next day it ended up not being true. last night they do the same thing, they push out, they put general mcmaster out there. of course, the information provided will lead back possibly to those first two issues that he actually did bring up. but why did they rush and go to the director of the cia and the head of the nsa and say this very important information has been spilled out? why did they ask you at "the washington post" not to disclose this information because it was so highly sensitive. again, the denials fall flat in the face of the information that we had last night when your story came out. >> so it really doesn't add up.
it doesn't make sense you call the cia director to give him a heads-up that the president had overstepped in a serious ray in a meeting with senior russian officials, calling the nsa director. those two officials are the ones dealing most directly with this partner. they're the ones that would have to deal with this partner to try to keep this intelligence channel open, to try to protect it and try to contain whatever damage was caused by this disclosure. >> david ignatius, as somebody who covers the intel community and has for a long time, can you explain why this is so troubling, even if it's one nugget that the president let slip to the russian ambassador and foreign minister, why this could be such a problem? >> the intelligence business works on trust and works on the confidence that intelligence partners have, the information they provide, information often obtained through very risky collection methods, will be properly held, that it will not be disseminated at a whim.
an incident like this, even on the h.r. mcmaster version, that he didn't disclose sources and methods, but trump did share the information is what we infer, has got to be shattering to the people that provided that information on the understanding it would be held in the strictest confidence. the idea that the president would share it in a kind of boisterous way, almost bragging about how much he knew with the russian foreign minister and russian ambassador adds a particular sharp pinch to this because of all that's happens with russia and trump, to me, willie, this was just one more example of trump's steep learning curve in these areas where he is so inexperienced. >> let's put it in context here. the meeting that took place --
we talked before that most americans were shocked enough that he had a meeting with the russian foreign minister and the ambassador for the united states for russia the day after he admitted firing the fbi director for having an investigation against the trump white house into his dealings with russia. what we find out even worse the next day, he reveals highly sensitive information to the russians, boasting, and you compare that meeting with his meeting with angela merkel, perhaps our most important ally, doesn't even shake her hand. >> that meeting with lavrov, actually part of it happened during our show and on live cameras lavrov appeared and he was asked by whoever was in the room. >> andrea. >> andrea, a about the firing of comey and he scoffed and laughed der rye sively. david ignatius, an unidentified
official with the knowledge of the exchange quotes the president saying this, i get great intel. i have people brief me on great intel every day. this is what trump said in his meeting with lavrov when speaking about the top secret information he reportedly divulged. he was boasting, he was flip and they were jock lular. >> not only one person's life but a lot of people's lives, rick tyler. let's talk about the republican response. you actually saw one last night. bob corker came out very strongly talking about how this is a white house that was in free fall and even paul ryan came out last night finally and is demanding a full explanation from the white house. let's listen to bob corker, chairman of the foreign affairs committee first.
>> obviously they're in a downward spiral right now and have got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that's happening. the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that i think makes -- it creates a worrisome environment. >> rick, yesterday we talked on this show about panic inside the white house, about how the president is doing worse than ever before, how he's isolated, he's screaming at television sets, that if he had a condition our an issue during the campaign, people close to him say it is now getting very, very troubling and very worrisomworr. let's talk two quick examples. just over the past week he fires the fbi director, he has a communication strategy with his staff, blame it on the deputy attorney general. the next day he comes on
television and forgets the talking points, lays waste to his entire white house staff, does not remember what he told them yesterday and then here we have the next day a story about him not remembering that you're not supposed to give the most highly classified information to your enemies. this is, again, we're hearing this from inside the white house. this is a precedent isolated and out of control and in decline. >> this is all the worse because under the comey firing, and there was mixed messages coming out. he undermined all the circuits, all his staff. initially he said it was because of the deputy attorney yen. >> it never stops, says one white house official, basically it's ayos at all times. >> the talking point coming from mcmaster is there was no sources
or methods revealed. the fact is the president has compromised seriously methods and sourcing in the intelligence community. so in one sense there's this strike back at the intelligence community. notice what's not happening, there's nobody going out in the republican party repeating mcmaster's talking points. they're not going to do that. the reason is because trump could come out at any moment and say, yeah, i told them, and completely undermine what they said. >> that's what they did on our show, followed trump's talking points with if deputy attorney general and they were made fools on this show, they were made fools the next day. the vice president made a fool of seven times, lying seven times, just not knowing seven times. sean spicer, the president made him out to be a liar. sarah hauckabee sanders, made ot to be a liar. >> what a terrible position to be in the you're a staff member
in that white house being put in that position. it's even more complicated because mcmaster's denial wasn't really a denial. it was this incredibly, carefully parsed statement that wove its way through the facts and managed to try to get out alive without mcmaster having lied but without denying that trump did what he did. the question is why did trump do it? is it because he doesn't have self-control, trying to cozy up to the russians. >> the answer to all three of those is yes. >> it also highlights the hypocrisy if you compare it to campaign managing, what he said all during the campaign. >> do we have that clip? willie, you were up cutting this. >> i was. i hand-edit everything i'm a throwback guy. this is the lock her up chant we heard all through the campaign, based on the exposure of classified information with a private server, that's about hillary clinton. so the handling of that
classified information was one of the attack lines for donald trump during the race. msnbc's "the 11th hour" with brian williams put together this look back. >> bad things came out today, classified. you know the word classified. >> this was not just extreme carelessness with classified material which is still totally disqualifying. this is calculated, deliberate, premeditated misconduct. >> the secretary of state was extremely careless and negligent in handling our classified secrets. she lied about passing on classified information, right? in my administration i'm going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. she said she sent nothing marked classified, a total lie. >> we can't have someone in the oval office who doesn't
understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified. classified information in the reach of our enemies. >> classified, confidential. >> they're so classified, they're beyond classified. >> maybe classified at the highest, highest level. how sad. >> again, that was talking about hillary clinton potentially disclosing classified information. what we're talking about in "the washington post" and now several other newspapers, the explicit relaying on classified information with someone who has at the least competing interests. >> we were worried that the chinese or russians may have hacked hillary clinton's home server in chappaqua. he went straight to our enemies and adversaries and gave them
classified information. he called what hillary did is disfall kauaiing. what about this? >> this reminds me of what al gore said in march of 1997, there is no controlling legal authority which didn't really work very well for him, but i don't see how they get out of this one and i don't see where this is going to come. this is too clean cut. the republicans i don't think are going to try to defend him on this one. >> greg, could you highlight how sensitive the information what? how did the white house implore or ask for you all not to reveal it, and secondly what was the president's tone when he was discussing this? was it kind of on the side, kind of in a boastful tone, or was it passing something on in a surreptitious way? what did this look like? >> we characterized in our story he was doing this in a boastful manner. at least he launched into this part of the conversation in a
postful way and was bragging about i get the best intel, i have these amazing great briefings every day, you wouldn't believe the stuff i hear. he goes through the discussion and the particulars are highly sensitive. he's talking about the ways that the islamic state is putting together this threat, the ways that it is pursuing this plot that has to do with bringing laptops, using laptops as explosives on an airplane. beyond that he reveals the specific city inside the islamic state's territory where this intelligence was gleaned. so that was the real source of alarm. then he wraps it up by saying -- talking about the counter measures, the u.s. military operations under way to suppress this threat, the other counter measures including the laptop ban that could be extended and kind of jokes his way out of it saying, can you believe the world we live?
25 years ago you didn't have to worry about this stuff. >> david ignatius, it makes isis' job so much easier to now seek out, track down what the intel community has long said is the most extraordinarily valuable asset, and that is a human resource. we were not able to get human intel in iran for years that led to the iranian hostage crisis, our inability to move past that. time and time again, you hear this is the greatest challenge. donald trump just gave somebody up out there who will end up dead, and that's not hyperbole, by the way. he and other people, whoever that source was inside of isis, i guarantee you a lot of people are going to get shot in the head today by isis because they're going to indiscriminately start killing
people that they suspect leaked this information. so where does that put donald trump with the intel community now when they have this type of information in the future, do they reveal it to the president of the united states? >> i think that's one of the hardest questions. your viewers need to understand why this is so serious. this isn't just more criticism of donald trump. this kind of intelligence is what keeps us alive. there are people out there in the world, isis and other groups, who would kill thousands of americans today if they could. the reason we have generally been safe is that we have very aggressive intelligence operating with our closest allies whose secrets we share, to find out the most sensitive information, sometimes through human sources, sometimes through very subtle technical collection systems which may have been involved in this case. those are real secrets because
they keep people alive. when the secrets are blown, the people who do the collection have to ask themselves, if i share this with the united states, is it going to end up with this kind of garl laos, inexperienced, undisciplined man in the oval office being retail to some visitor. that's the issue. do they stop sharing the information? our intelligence agencies work for the president. it's hard to imagine them cutting off the flow. it's really the foreign partners who are absolutely crucial in this fight who may say we just can't share as much now with the united states as before. >> greg, since you do have obviously a good source in the national security community who shared with you their concerns about the president leaking this, did he say anything else to the russians that's important for our viewers or for american to hear? did he, for example, admonish them for interfering in our election as all the intelligence agencies have confirmed? >> that's another one of the big
issues here. our story touches on that a bit. there is a lot of frustration within the administration. there are professionals who are deeply knowledgeable about these regions around the world and they take time, they put together pages of preparatoriry material for the president, two to five-page papers, for instance, were prepared in advance of his meeting with these russian officials. what he was supposed to stick to in terms of a script and what he could expect to hear from them and what their questions were and how to handle those things, the president has insisted all of this material be boiled down to less than a page of bullet points. in this case he just again goes off script. not dissimilar to how badly he went off script in describing what he had done and why to the fbi director james comey. >> he didn't raise the russian interference in the presidential election with the foreign minister and the ambassador? >> i have no indication that
that issue came up. i would regard that as highly, highly unlikely. all we no know is the white house official version of what was said in this meeting asserts that trump raised the issue of ukraine and a couple other things. there's no mention in the official white house account of this conversation of raising what russia did in the election last year. what you're pointing to is one of the fundamentally shocking aspects of this. revealing classified information to anyone under any circumstances by the commander-in-chief would be a big problem. but doing so in this case with russian officials including the russian ambassador whose presence in this meeting is astonishing, he is already an individual linked to the departure of trump's first national security adviser mike flynn. he has already linked to the attorney general jeff sessions' forced recusal from anything
related to the russia investigation. now he's in the oval office with trump. >> lavrov said the meeting didn't cover the absurd claims of russian meddling. greg miller, thank you for your reporting. before we go to break, in terms of republicans, we heard from bob corker. obviously there's a big problem at the top of this administration and perhaps an uncon tanable one. what should republicans do at this point? >> charlie sykes' editorial in "the new york times" came at a really important time because i started seeing yesterday for the first time these conservative hucksters who make money going to a niche audios called out not for supporting trump but for their anti anti-trumpism.
it's not enough to just attack donald trump's enemies, not enough to just attack the press. when you have the commander-in-chief revealing the most sensitive secrets to one of our great elf rivals, if not outright enemy, who imposes our interest across the globe, it is not enough for paul ryan and mitch mcconnell and conservative talk show hosts to simply attack the mainstream media or nancy pelosi. americans will not buy that. that's a cowardly act, and it's intended to hold on to as much of the audience they can hold on to without embracing trump. at this point, if you do not call him out for risking american lives and doing things that most intel people i spoke with last night said will lead
to the death of americans in the future or lead to the death of critical allies in this counter insurgency battle against isis, then you are doing a grave disservice to your voters or to your listeners or to the united states of america. there is no middle ground here anymore. there just isn't. this is about national security in the united states of america. >> i was going to ask, have we heard from hugh hewitt lately? >> i don't know. i'm sure we will today. i was reading some articles yesterday afternoon. again, i go back to that charlie sykes article. 's so clarified. wait, they're not defending trump, but attacking media and nancy pelosi and chuck schumer. what's the heart? there is no heart of the article. they simply attack people as
overstating it. i know we're really late here, i would like, david ignatius, one more time please underline it for americans briefly. why is this such a critical, critical issue, perhaps the most dangerous thing donald trump has ever done. >> these are the secrets that keep us alive. presidents have to be careful with him. they're entrusted with the national security secrets we have. this is on-the-job training in the most important, sensitive job in the world. we're watching an inexperienced, undisciplined person deal with this very sensitive material. this is why we have talking points, why presidents have protocols for what they say and don't say when they meet with foreign leaders. it's because things like this can happen if someone is
inexperienced. the only thing you can say is, please, please, donald trump learn from this experience if you're going to remain president. don't do this again. >> here is the problem. the a arc of this narrative keeps getting worse. people on the inside say he keeps getting worse and mentally keeps getting worse. this is not unfortunately a learning curve. this is a man in decline. back in 1947 when we started this, we said we need to have a desk specifically focused on hugh hewitt's tweet. let's go over the hugh hewitt tweet. willie geist, what do you have? >> i'll be his voice. he tweeted and said if it happened the way "the washington post" said it happened it is, quote, very, very bad, and general mcmaster should take questions on it. >> this story will fester all day long, and that's not good for this administration. >> if you look at these pictures
and -- >> look at him yucking it up. >> these pictures did not come from the american media because they were not allowed in. they laughed together, shook hands, hugged, laughed, boasted and the president shared secrets that keep people alive. this president cannot be stopped. he is not well. >> with a man responsible, as greg miller said, for the national security adviser being sacked and for jeff sessions recusing himself. he was in the white house with the president hearing about state secrets. we have a lot more ahead on this story. >> we'll bring in former deputy national security adviser, former senior director of the national security council, ned price, jonathan the early, senator ben sasse, joe manchin and member of the house intelligence committee congressman eric swalwell.
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the billboard music awards. sunday, may 21st eight seven central only on abc. >> when i spoke with putin, he asked me whether or not i would see lavrov. should i say no, i'm not going to see him? i said i will see him. during that discussion with lavrov, i think we had a great discussion having to do with syria, having to do with ukraine and maybe that discussion will lead to a lot less people getting killed and will lead ultimately to peace. >> president trump disclose his meeting with sergey lavrov came at the suggestion of russian president vladimir putin in a phone call two weeks ago. so putin wanted it. joining us now, senior national security adviser for nbc news and chairman and co-founder of financial integrity network juan zarate, former spokesperson and
senior director for the national security council ned price and law professor from george washington university, ned turley. what are the ramifications within the intelligence community? what are their possible deresponses and state of mind right now? >> probably a bit of confusion. they want to understand the context, they're going to be in damage control. they want to make sure the source of this information doesn't get compromised. they want to make sure they continue to get that information. as you heard david ignatius say a few minutes ago, they want to make sure the ally supporting us on the ground is not spooked and certainly will continue to provide that information. >> how in the world would they not be spooked when you have the president of the united states telling the russian foreign minister -- it's important just to give people context, our side trying to kill isis, their side trying to kill rebels trying to
kill isis. the russians are on the opposite side of us in syria. the aims are completely opposite. >> the russians have proven over time when we've shared information with them they used that against us. in 2006 we provided information to the russians about where some of our sites were. they went ahead and bombed those sites. there is a real concern here that the russians aren't trustworthy. certainly you don't want to compromise that information which, frankly, is of the up most importance and security. >> gets passed on to hezbollah, iran, syria, gets passed on to all of our enemies. >> absolutely. this is the nightmare scenario for the intelligence community in many ways because it undercuts the assumption that's at the core of all our intelligence relationships. we share information with you if you share information with us with a reciprocal understanding we'll safeguard each other's
information. there's no passage of that information without explicit consent. by doing this, what president trump has done is betray that core premise that allows us to have relationships around the world with friends, allies, even some adversaries. the real danger beyond infuriating this close ally is our friends and partners will think once, will think twice, maybe won't share information with us at all. if we hold back threat information, that could cost american lives. >> the president has unique authority to declassify information. >> presidents can disclose information if they believe it's in the national information. truman told stalin about the manhattan project and the atomic bomb. turns out stalin already knew that. hopefully you don't do that just
to impress the russian guys. where you can get into trouble is the aftermath. the issuance yesterday of that denial while carefully parsed is still a denial. it was conveyed to the republican congress that these stories are demonstrably false. that's where you get into a serious problem. there's a requirement to brief committees about developments of this kind. if you repeat that type of denial to members of congress, it can be a crime under usc 1001 that. was one of the issues in iran contra, even an unsworn statement to members congress or their staff can be a prime. >> you're saying if mcmaster says to congress what he said last night, he could be in jeopardy. >> right. the way the public heard that and the way it was certainly sought by the white house was to convey that this was a categorical denial.
they said these stories are false. it didn't happen. that's really reducing that space that washington lives in. washington lives in that whole murky area between truth and lies. it's a wonderful place to be. thayer rad kated that space in the view of many viewers. >> jonathan, can i ask you quickly, and i know this was an old story, only on the front burner 12 hours ago, what about the obstruction of justice talk around what the president of the united states admitted and what the white house admitted, that they fired the fbi director to end the russian investigation which donald trump admitted to lester holt and sarah huckabee sanders admitted as her role as white house spokesperson? >> frankly, i think we're short of any compelling obstruction case at this point.
the president has the right to fire comey. he can be fired for good, bad or no reason at all. he's at at-will employee. he shouldn't be. that's not what congress wanted setting up this ten-year term. it's clear that rosenstein did believe he could and should be fired. whether the president did it for the right reason i don't think is going to factor into a true obstruction case. this white house is floundering. this is where you get into serious jeopardy, is when you're floundering around, issuing category denials. it's one thing to spin the public. this stuff is hard wired into congress. if those statements start to be made in congress and they're lies, someone is going to get indicted. >> aren't we at the point where we have a presidency that is floundering so much that almost every move he makes there are calls for investigations and
calls for hearings and calls for -- the media is going crazy. think about what has happened -- can anyone even remember sally yates? that triggered something, and then that triggered something and then that triggered something. to the point where this is chaos to the point of a meltdown. >> i think it's unforced error after unforced error. i think it's lack of zis plin in terms of how the white house is operating, how the president talks about it, his lack of precision. this case is a case in point where you've got to be very precise in how you talk about intelligence. otherwise you're going to compromise sources and methods. i think the lack of discipline and unforced errors, not only a huge distraction. president erdogan from turkey is in town today. >> oh, my god. what's he going to say? >> these are big-ticket issues. we or not even talking about the underlying terrorist threat. the distractions are enormously
harmful i think to the country. ned, you worked for the nsc and cia, we're seeing an intel community pushing back, whether after the firing of director comey. we heard a lot from the fbi and unnamed sources there. yesterday the nsc saying wait a minute, we can't let this pass, talking to "the washington post." >> this is not a president who has ever had a good relationship with the intelligence community and, in fact, even before he was president as the republican nomin nominee, he casually dismissed the findings of all 17 agencies that russia meddled in the election. as the president-elect, he compared the intelligence community to nazis, accused them of leaking. on his first full day in office we went to cia headquarters and stood in front of cia's memorial wall that marks the 117 officers who lost their lives and bragged about crowd sizes, talked about
going back into iraq and taking their oil. they covered iceal, syria, north korea, i think we have to ask ourselves at what point does this administration itself become a threat we have to be concerned about, a threat not only of foreign agents in the white house, for example, but a threat because our adversaries like kim jong un and others will take advantage of this administration, test this administration knowing they caused utter chaos. >> i want everyone to think about the question you just asked, ned price. that's where we're add, where we don't know whether this presidency can sustain itself. >> thank you very much. ahead we'll bring in senator joe manchin, congressman eric swalwell. "morning joe" is back in just a moment.
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willie, remember chrystia freeland of "morning joe"? she's now canada's minister of foreign affairs. krista joins the conversation, we'll get her government's perspective on president trump's disclosure of crass fied information to her russian counterpart. we'll be right back with much more "morning joe." got it. rumor confirmed. they're playing.
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canada did to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace. what happened to our dairy farmers in wisconsin and new york state, we're not going to let it happen. we can't let canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers. again, i want to also just mention, included in there is lumber, timber and energy. so, we're going to have to get to the negotiating table with canada very, very quickly. again, just to tell you, this is another nafta disaster.
>> let's just do this. >> no. >> score card. >> you can't keep up. there's not a score card big enough. >> hold on. canada. >> on the enemy's list. >> russia. >> russia's on the friends list. >> hold on. hold on. >> in the gossipy let's connect by exchanging info list. >> don't kill hamlet in the first act. i now move to our second ally. so, let's see. germany, they have been our closest ally in many ways since 1945. germany. >> don't shake hands with germany. >> enemies? >> not hostile but -- >> don't want to touch. >> not an enemy but hostile. >> germofoeb. germofoeb. >> but they're close. >> all right. mika, now here's your time. russia. >> chatty kathy list. >> chatty kathy list. i don't have a list for this. >> it would be funny if it wasn't. >> friend of trump, f.o.t.
>> major friend of trump to the point where people could die. >> it would be very confusing to friends of ours across the border and across the globe. so, let's go to capitol hill right now and talk to canada's minister of foreign affairs. good friend of ours from way, way back. >> way back. >> always good to see you christia. >> before we dive into it, congratulations on your engagement. i was so happy to hear about that. >> thank you. >> it's all right. >> joe, i think you're looking younger already. i take it this is mika's fashion influence. >> thank you so much. i appreciate it. we should take a trip to canada. >> let's do that. >> you are invited. >> thank you. >> very good. >> come visit us. >> how do you sort through all of this? we are worried about what our friends across the globe are thinking. and certainly you have the president attacking canada, one of our closest allies and
juxtapose that with the chummyness with the russians. how do you sort through that? >> reporter: a number of issues on the table. i've had really good meetings in washington, i had supper with the canadian minister of defense. we had supper last night with secretaries tillerson and mattis and we had a really good conversation about all the areas that canada and united states are cooperating around the world. i had a good conversation with secretary ross as well. the reality, if you stand back, the reality is that we have a really strong, deep relationship with the united states. a big part of it is our trading relationship. that is mutually beneficial. it's a balanced trading relationship. and i think americans really understand that. we are actually your biggest client. there can be a lot of talk in the united states about china, but the reality is that you sell
more stuff to canada than any other country in the world. when it comes to foreign policy and security, you are our closest ally and partner. and we cooperate a lot around the world. and i know we're going to continue to do that. >> david ignatius has a question. david? >> chrystia, in addition to canada being our trading partner, key intelligence partner. one of the five eyes that famously shares intelligence. are you troubled by what we've been talking about this morning, which is the apparent disclosure -- not of sources and methods but highly secretive information about counterterrorism operations in a way that's going to hurt, perhaps, the intelligence service that gathered it? what do you, as a foreign minister, think about that? what would you say if someone from the white house asked you? >> great to see you this morning, david. i've been enjoying your columns.
look, we are, in addition to our bilateral relationship with the united states, we're a five eyes partner. and that's a very important relationship with us. on the story this is morning, i don't have any specific information, so i really can't comment right now. >> hi, chrystia, it's steve rattner. how are you? >> hi, steve! >> hi. tarri i tarrifs put on softwood imports, to ascribe that to trump's protectionist nature or is that the outgrowth of a whole process that's been going on for years over those imports? >> that is a great question, steve. you're absolutely right, that this is a very longstanding dispute. when we've looked back, we see lumber frictions between canada and the united states going back to the 19th century. and it's important to bear in
mind, this is just 2% of canada's exports to the united states. so when we talk about this as being a small irritant in a much larger relationship, it's important to see that in context. you know, having said that, we believe really strongly that we are in the right and, historically, in past lumber disputes at nafta tribunals, we have won every single time. we're strongly supporting condition aidi canadian workers. a great editorial, calling this a housing tax. from an american perspective, the people i would be really concerned about are middle class americans who want to buy a house. the reality is the united states does not produce enough lumber to build all the houses that americans should be living in. you need our lumber.
and, by your own decisions, you are making it more expensive for people to buy houses in the united states. >> chrystia freeland, thank you very much. always great to see you. >> great to see you guys. "the washington post" eugene robinson joins us with what he says is the only realistic way to stop trump. we'll be back with more "morning joe."
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welcome back to "morning joe." tom watts, david ignatius and eugene robinson, who said he thought of this scene from the film "doctor strangelove" when he first read of yesterday's explosive reporting by his newspaper. >> am i to understand the russian ambassador is to be admitted entrance to the war room? >> that is correct. he is here on my orders.
>> i -- i don't know exactly how to put this, sir, but are you aware of what a serious breach of security that would be? i mean, he'll see everything. he'll see the big board. >> that is precisely the idea, general. that is precisely the idea. >> wow! all right. so, gene robinson, you say you have the plan to stop this madness. what are we talking about, a billion dollar payoff? >> might work. >> billion dollars to get him out of the white house? that might work. >> yeah, yeah. i guess that might work. the only -- look, people are waiting for some sort of magical event to suddenly end this. it's not going to happen. what i think -- democrats, frankly, need to take control of one or the other houses of
congress to slow down this one-way train. they just have to do it in the next year. >> let's take a look at the gps of where this runaway train is right now. multiple outlets have confirmed the bombshell story that the washington post broke yesterday with anonymous u.s. officials saying the trump administration scrambled to clean up an intelligence spill after president trump allegedly volunteered highly classified information in a meeting with the russian foreign minister and ambassador last week. according to the paper, the information had originally been provided by a u.s. partner through an intelligence sharing arrangement, consideri iningcon sensitive details have been when would from allies and so tightly restricted within the u.s. government. they had not given them permission to share the intel with russia and trump's doing so
endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the islamic state. most alarmingly trump revealed the city in the islamic state's territory where the u.s. intelligence partner detected the threat. the post is withholding most plot details including the name of the city at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize importance intelligence capability. >> stop right there. last night we got pushed back nondenial denials on things that weren't even asked by "the washington post" or other newspapers. so now we have gotten that pushback again and yet it was the white house that alerted everybody to the fact the breach had taken place by calling the cia and the nsa.
>> and, incidentally, there was no actual denial of the fundamental story here. when you listen to what mcmaster said and what tillerson said and i think dena powell was also quoted as saying, they acknowledge he had this discussion with kyislyak and let's remember, he was thumbing his nose at everyone any how. the first line of defense when i called over to the white house yesterday was that the president -- the information in "the washington post" story seems too specific for the president to have mentioned. in other words he speaks in generalities. >> he wasn't smart enough to -- >> not that he wasn't smart enough but wasn't read in on the specifics enough that he could have regurgitated them. >> national security adviser, general mcmaster, trying to clean things up yesterday. >> the story that came out tonight as reported is false.
the president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. at no time -- at no time were intelligent sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. on the record accounts should outweigh those anonymous sources. i was in the room. it didn't happen. >> general mcmaster did not take any questions, walked away after making that statement. and "the washington post" and others were quick to point out that his denial was pointed at something the story was not about, at no time were methods and resources discussed. senior white house officials seemed to recognize quickly that trump had overstepped and moved to contain the potential
fallout. thomas bossert, homeland security and counterterrorism placed calls to the directors of the cia and nsa, services most directly involved in the intelligence share iing arrangement. >> the drkters of the cia and the nsa and the white house is trying to tell us nothing to see here. move along. move along. >> if it was the white house itself, not after "the washington post" story came out and not after glenn thrush did all his reporting. what does that tell you? >> general mcmaster is saying it didn't happen this way in the oval office. but something happened or they wouldn't make those phone calls. that gave it credibility to me. if they're going around, trying to seal up the gaps based on something that happened during that discussion, we have a huge problem. why did the president feel the need to impress the russians? he has angela merkel come over.
he insults her. he's yelling at canada. he sells out our allies to serve our enemies. why do that? there's no reason to do this. it doesn't make sense to me. if there wasn't anything to it, they wouldn't go around trying to cover their tracks. >> and, look, his entire 2016 campaign was predicated on the notion that hillary clinton was sloppy with secrets. so, i mean, it is the absolute convergence of absolutely every doubt that people had about donald trump. >> we talked about that last hour, willie. hillary clinton was not qualified to be president of the united states because -- >> hamered away at it. >> -- she was sloppy with classified information. in fact, he said it was, quote, disquali disqualifying. >> locker up chants are about that. this, if the report something tri-true, not the potential exposure but direct relaying of secret. >> lock her up chants led not only by trump but national security adviser, then his
protege or whatever, buddy on the road, general flynn, who has now been fired. >> for meet org communicating with the ambassador -- >> kislyak. >> ultimately the president's words are now going to chew him up. take a look. >> some bad things came out today. you know, those classified -- you know the word classified. this was not just extreme carelessness with classified material. which is still totally disqualifying. this is calculated, deliberate, premeditated misconduct. the secretary of state was extremely careless and negligent in handling our classified secrets. she lied about passing on classified information, right? in my administration, i'm going to enforce all laws concerning -- the protection of classified
information. she said she sent nothing marked classified. a total lie. we can't have someone in the oval office who doesn't understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified. classified information in the reach of our enemies. >> classified, confidential. >> so classified they're beyond classified. >> and maybe classified at the highest, highest level. how sad. >> no, they weren't. but what donald trump just told outright to the russians actually was classified at the highest level. >> just think about this as well. is he bragging in the quote, i absolutely believe in the paper, i get great intel. he is bragging to two russian officials who just did the biggest hacking, the most successful operation ever about, his great intel. they must have just been laughing, hearing him say this. the europeans, back in january, it was noted, israel as well, were nervous about giving us
intelligence anymore because it could get leaked, specifically to the russians. that was the european fear. >> david ignatius, how much worse does this make it? >> well, this dramatizes precisely what people were worrying about. imagine for a moment what the cia chief of station in the country that was the source of this intelligence is having to do this morning or yesterday morning in talking to his counterpart and saying, sir, i have some terrible news. there's been a release of some information that came from the very sensitive -- just the most horrifying moment you could imagine for an intelligence chief. and, again, think of how long it took to put this operation together. these operations take months or years to put the person in place so that person can gather the secrets that will keep us alive. that source may just have been blown. we don't know that, but it's possible. and that could be years of work
down the drain. >> so, gene robinson, i'm going to read from your column, which really kind of characterizes where we're at right now with this president. there are those who entertain the fantasy that trump will get bored or frustrated and eventually resign. but he's already bored and frustrated with the drudgery of governing and he has developed coping mechanisms. he stages campaign-style rallies, chews out his hapless staff, vents on twitter. when he invited house members to celebrate that awful health care bill he interrupted the speech to say, hey, i'm president. can you believe it, right? he's not going to voluntarily give that up. if news reports are correct, is he mulling a substantial shakeup of his white house staff. but no communications team is going to look good while having to defend the crazy, indefensible things trump regularly says. he is not going to change. we are where we are. democrats need to flip one or both houses of congress next
year to slow this runaway train. it won't stop itself. is that at -- are we, though, at the point where things are even more grave than that, gene? >> uh-huh. yeah. that column was written before the blockbuster "washington post" story came out. you know, i would have written a different column and probably my hair would have been even more on fire, what's left of my hair. >> it's like he's driving the runaway train and the american people are the passengers. >> well, exactly. and, you know, what is one of the things that particularly is disturbing to me about this incident, in addition to just the central fact -- that's the most disturbing thing, that he just blurted this stuff out. these transparent word games that the staff and general mcmaster are playing after the fact.
and that so shortsided. they're trying to win a fraction of a news cycle when it's clear to anybody who parses the sentences that they're not denying the substance and eventually they're going to have to fes up to the intelligence committee. it's going to come out. >> that started day one, though. it started day one with sean spicer being pushed out, telling something that he knew was a lie, putting pictures up, talking about crowd sizes. then they came out with a lie about 3 million votes stolen. this has been going nonstop. then you have the obama lie on twitter. it goes on and on. >> i was thinking, it's like a perfect circle. the first day, people not taking questions is the theme here. first we have spicer out on the first day on crowd size, comes out and yells at everybody. doesn't take questions. now rolling down the road we have mcmaster on matters of
grave national security come out and not taking questions. every surrogate this man has winds up getting pulled down with him. mcmaster has a sterling reputation. these guys are now being forced to defend a guy whose judgment is really in question. >> and after -- that's exactly what i was going to say. one week ago, if you were an american watching this, why would you take anyone at his or her word, even an honorable man like general mcmaster? he may not be going out there saying something that he knows not to be true but the next day or the day after, the president could come out and say something that would blow it up. as president i wanted to share with russia at an openly scheduled white house meeting which i have the absolute right to do. facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. humanitarian reasons. plus i want russia to greatly step up their fight against isis and terrorism. so he says he has the absolute right to do what he did in that meeting, sharing the information
with the russians. >> clint, does that wash? >> no. he only does this with russia. who else does he share with, compliment or try to help? >> maybe turkey's leader when he comes today. >> he only responds to authoritarians. he grandizes them. he wants to hurt those who help us and help those who hurt us. it doesn't make sense to go to the russians to try to impress them to help us in that fight. >> david ignatius, what's your response to the president's latest tweets? >> i think he does have the right to share, declassify intelligence. that's what presidents get to do, as he chooses it. there are very few limits on it. we trust in his discretion. on that point, you've got to give it to him. on the larger point, president trump is trying to partner in some way with russia and syria. there are deep doubts about
whether that's a wise policy for the united states. trump, in that amazing series of pictures that we saw, smiling, kind of smirking with the russian leadership, seems convinced that it's the right thing to do. among other things, i think there's a need for real debate about whether that's good policy before it goes too far. >> i also maam concerned that aa very base level this president gets excited when someone is powerful, no matter whether the person is destructive, a murderer, a dictator, an authoritarian. he just loves the power and thinks it's cool, like some fifth grader. >> it's not just power. actually, gene, he admires au autocrats. >> why is turkey's leader coming to the white house today? >> the leader of the philippines. >> he admires murderers, people
who murder journalists, people that jail journalists, people that go out and randomly kill people in the street and brag about it. this is who donald trump looks up to as leaders. >> you know, it is. he obviously conflates power with virtue in a way that is just wrong. >> it's like money. >> that's just plain wrong. i would just point one thing out about those tweets. the story just changed. the story just changed from he didn't do it to he had a right to do it. >> the story just changed. so, mcmaster lied? >> so, general mcmaster is already hanging out to dry. >> i'm just asking, was he put out there to not tell the truth? >> huh? what did you say? >> was general mcmaster put out there like all the others? >> let's be exact. it was a nondenial denial. and so did he lie? no. did he state something very carefully to put up a smoke
screen? yes, he did. >> great. >> does that reflect just as poorly on him? yes, it does. so we see this again, gene. again, you have the vice president of the united states, have you all the president's communication team go out last week, say something. the president made them out to be a liar the next morning. this is what he has done once again. a denial, nondenial denial last night from, i think, a man that probably is one of the most respected people in the white house. and this morning donald trump chops him off at the knees. >> we're just seeing -- what's amazing, we're seeing a repetition one week later of exactly what happened last week on the comey stuff. sarah huckabee sanders coming out, weaving this story, giving the president clearance or telling him to fire comey and then the sight of the vice president up on capitol hill doing that as well. then he sits down with lester
holt and blows them up. this is going to be a pattern that he has. and, let me ask you something. he will do a reset. my reporting shows it's going to be very hard for this man to get a really competent new better team in because who is going to want to walk into this firestorm? >> who in washington -- >> it's not the team that needs to be replaced. >> of course not. it's donald trump. but donald trump blows his team up and then is angry at his team for being on fire when he's the one that keeps lighting the match. and what is general mcmaster thinking right now? i went out last night, put my reputation on the line. i had a carefully worded statement, a nondenial denial. and donald trump this morning has just gone out and said yeah, i did it. >> he's thinking the same thing the vice president has thought several times in the first four months. i've been sent out on two major stories to tow the line and tell a story that turned out not to be true. how long do i put my reputation
at stake? >> do the right thing. glenn thrush, gene robinson, tim watts, thank you all. >> glenn, i have to say in person, you're very thin. you're very healthy. you take care of yourself. it's like an hourglass figure this guy has. so what they do to you on "saturday night live" is not nice. it's not fair. >> ahh. >> same guy. >> you think he's stuffing the shirts. >> do you think i'm going to talk about this? >> because, look, i mean, look -- >> he's saying -- >> maybe send out a spokesman. >> glenn, you need to eat. >> everybody, stop. we'll talk to senator joe manchin and representative eric swalwell. first, a republican who is not -- >> oh! >> -- afraid to speak truth to
power. >> look at this. while juggling. >> senator ben sasse joins us, more than a year after urging his party not to nominate trump. >> churchill could do that, speak truth to power while juggling. >> he joins us to talk about what he says is an endangered species, the american adult, as he juggles. we'll be right back. >> we'll explain that next. tech: when your windshield needs to be fixed... trust safelite autoglass. for these parents, driving around was the only way to get their baby to sleep. so when their windshield got cracked... customer: we can't drive this car. tech: ...they wanted it fixed right. so they scheduled with safelite. our exclusive trueseal technology means a strong, reliable bond, every time. at safelite, we stand behind our work. bye, bye. because the ones you love, sit behind it. (parents whisper jingle) safelite repair, safelite replace.
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president trump gave a commencement speech. it actually reminded me of elwood's speech from legally blond. see if you can tell what i mean. >> we take the next steps into the world. >> you must go forth into the world. >> it is with passion. >> passion. >> courage of conviction. >> courage of your conviction. >> and most importantly. >> most importantly.
>> have faith in yourself. >> be true to yourself. >> we did it! >> i did it. >> that was great. >> no way. are you serious? >> senator ben sasse "the vanishing american adult: our coming of age crisis and how to build a culture of self reliance." i had no idea this was about donald trump. perfect timing. >> but the headline, the vanishing american adult. you've been strong, independent and you've stated how you felt, issue by issue by issue. we had more republicans last night come out, bob corker talking about how the white house is going down a dangerous path. how concerned are you with the news of the headlines today? >> you know, sources and methods are the lifeblood of the intelligence community.
the world is a broken place and we need spies around the globe. you want to be sure that cia station chiefs around the globe, that their word is taken seriously. there's a lot we don't know about this story yet. >> try to express how concerned you are that this white house comes out with a narrative, firing of comey, it was the deputy attorney general's fault. next day the president says no, i made the decision myself. so he makes the entire team, including mike pence, good man, all liars. he made mcmaster a liar. >> i haven't been on twitter in the last seven minutes. >> thank god. >> and the world seems to turn every seven minutes. >> you standing upside down or whatever you do on your twitter thing is impressive. >> wrestling coach, walking on
our hands was a prerequisite to driving in our house. you had to walk on your hands before you got the keys to the car. >> we live like a people without a history. >> without a history and a future. we're always in the moment and act like we're not going to accountable for our actions three days, three weeks or three months ago or three days, three weeks or three months into the future. >> what message do you have to send to the president about the importance of telling the american people the truth from the start? >> first of all, there are a lot of really good people that work for the president. he has appointed a number of really strong, honorable people. we don't seem to be tending -- those of us who are supposed to be public servants. it's not supposed to be the center of the world. it's a place for public servants. we need to be tending to the public trust. we need to be asking five and ten years from today when all of our public institutions are so distrusted, are we going to do more to restore that trust or erode it?
>> both of these political parties stand for so little that's long term right now. your phrase was day trading all the time. it feels like the political class is always day trading. there's polling recently when you ask the american people are you a republican or democrat? do you identify with the republicans or democrats? you don't give them the choice, none of the above. 46% of the public interrupts to say none of the above. the public wonders what's wrong with these people, where are the adults? not trying to pivot to the book but if it work. >> we'll get there in a second. >> expertly done. >> good call. good call. >> but we'll get there. who's word to take out of the white house. whose word do you take in the white house? >> a lot of people when i speak to them privately, i believe they're trustworthy.
right now when people are trying to figure out how to manage the media frenzy that they often create and exacerbate on a three-hour basis, i don't watch a lot of that stuff. >> when general mcmaster came out and said, quote, it didn't happen, should the american public take him at his word? >> general mcmaster is a really, really great public servant, honorable man. i haven't been in the skiff yet. i haven't had a classified briefing about what happened. i only heard from my team on the phone late last night. there's a lot i don't know. it's a pretty technical quote, mcmaster's quote, something quite different from a full rebuttal of the story. >> he tried to weave his way through it but trump tweeted, basically admitting that he did it this morning, to joe's point, undermining everybody.
you've been forthright and outspoken about what trump has done. where arer your colleagues? why are we not hearing more about jim comey, the allegation that he was tape bid obama, the allegation that he may have taped comey. now this. why are your colleagues not being more forceful in their views? >> i'm not sure how a lot of people make their decisions. i'm a newbie, one of five who have never been a politician before, third or fourth conservative in my voting record but i'm not very partisan. i don't start with my party label anywhere near the core of my identity. both of these parties have contributed to inoculating the public against lying for quite some time this isn't a new thing in the last 120 days. >> no, it's not. >> the erosion of public trust is accelerating but this isn't new. both of these parties going back decades now regularly act like your main duty is to if here is the truth and you think the other side is going to say this, you're supposed to say this to counterbalance it. i think that's a bunch of hooey.
that's not how we were raised in nebraska. say what you think is true and persuade people to come alongside of you. don't counterbalance one falsehood with another. >> let's talk about "the vanishing of the american adult." you've expressed things like, for instance, civics isn't taught. we're detached from our heritage. you have protests on campus, people screaming and yelling. and if it's middlebury, beating up professors if they don't like what they're going to hear. what's happened? when do you believe this phenomenon started? >> we're the richest people at the richest time in all of history. working class folks have extraordinary resources in human history. that's a great thing to be insulated against deprivation. we're raising our kids without clear distinction in our gut between production and
consumption. on consumption we don't distinguish between need and want. we don't teach our kids that scar tissue is something to be celebrated. if you get stitches, don't hurt your neck and have permanent damage to your spine, we think we got away with something. there's a character-building moment that came from that. scar tissue is the foundation of character and we're not doing enough. this book is beating up on millenials. >> we're all for beating up on millenials. >> i have heard complaints from family members and friends, especially young women, talking about how their boyfriend or their fiance is with his friends and i've heard this time and again. playing video games for three, four, five, six hours a day. when is he going to look for a job? >> what a mess. >> i don't know when he's going to look for a job. this actually is -- it's not just anectdotal.
males 18 to 34, the same group of people that liberated europe from hitler are now at home, playing video games, by and large. >> immature and stunted. >> it's been interesting. just like this book isn't about politics, 100% not about the president or politics. it wasn't at all about gender. the book comes out today. the vanishing american adult. as i've been talking about it the last three or four days, i've had 20 something young women come up to me and say some version of that. 18 to 34-year-old males spend half their waking hours on video games and i've had a bunch of young women say i have had 15 dates in a row and every one of them is a man baby. they're not ready to be husbands. >> anything. >> equals. i don't think that's universally true but we have to recognize tds hard to tell 10, 15 and 20-year-olds apart and there's new in history. >> do you think there should be national service or something across the board for all young americans to serve for a year or two?
>> we should have a big debate about that. i'm not there yet. but it's interesting. i was in israel two years ago. and i was at an iron dome installation. i was expecting these hul can king 35-year-old warriors would come out of the installation and it was two 17-year-old girls, soldiers. long brown hair. my daughters are 15 and 13 and i'm thinking these are warriors, explaining to me the way the missile installation works. that night i'm at a dinner party in tel aviv, and i'm asking, how are you going to pick where you go in military service and what do you think of americans? and they ended up in this long story where they said we play video games with our cousin on long island. we know that video games are video games. since we have to go to war next year, we would never think that video games might be near the center of life and our cousins sometimes talk in a different way about this being where life is centered. i want our kids to go to the mountain top not just see the mountain top on their friends' instagram. >> it's unbelievable. david ignatius.
i am -- just over the past year i have so moved to the direction of supporting national service as a way to unify this country. >> 100%. >> to bring it together to get 18 to 20-year-olds working hard and, yes, i would have my children do it as well. david ignatius. >> senator, to return to the topic we've been discussing this morning, the president took an oath of office on january 20 to faithfully execute the office of president. those were the words he spoke. as we look at the behavior in this meeting with russian foreign minister ambassador and what appears to have been the disclosure of intelligence information, do you think that he is faithfully executing the office of president? are you beginning to wonder that?
>> it's not helpful that this was with the russians. it's just weird. they want to exacerbate our internal distrust of each other. putin is the enemy of the freedom of speech, press and assembly, the beatinging heart of what america means. there's technical stuff that happened in this meeting we don't yet know about. one of the basic duties of someone in a public office and has a public trust responsibility should be to be celebrating what america is about and to be telling that story. right now, washington isn't doing any of that. >> the vanishing american adult: our coming of age crisis and how to rebuild a culture of self reliance. senator ben sasse, thank you for being on the show. >> thank you for what you do every day. >> we have much more on the president tweeting moments zblag and saying i appreciate what he's doing every day. willie, of course, you know i'm talking about juggling. >> the juggling was amazing. >> impressive. very good. can you walk on your hands? >> i don't think i'm allowed to do that.
my wife would be angry about that if i did that in public. the way i got out of the fields was becoming a lifeguard and prerequisite to lifeguarding is juggling. >> and walking on hands before driving. >> fields. >> birth some cattle. >> the whole thing. >> all right. while we're at it. thank you very much, senator sasse. the president tweeting moments ago that he had, quote, absolute right to share that highly classified intelligence with russian officials that the white house is begging "the washington post" not to divulge. >> and please feel free to call your national security -- >> and two scholars about that. "morning joe" is back in a moment. tomorrow, why don't we drive up the coast to that little seafood place and -- what's the matter? >> my orders came through. my squadron ships out tomorrow. we're bombing the at 1800, coming in from the north below the radar.
>> when will you be back? >> i can't tell you that. it's classified. "how to win at business." step one: point decisively with the arm of your glasses. abracadabra. the stage is yours. step two: choose la quinta. the only hotel where you can redeem loyalty points for a free night-instantly and win at business. i needed something more to help control my type 2 diabetes. my a1c wasn't were it needed to be.
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we actually have some footage of the president talking to an adviser. >> let's roll it. >> let's run it right now. >> tomorrow, why don't we drive up the coast to that little seafood place and -- what's the matter? >> my orders came through. my squadron ships out tomorrow. we're bombing the storage depots at daiquiri at 1800 hours. we're coming in from the north below their radar. >> when will you be back? >> i can't tell you that. it's classified. >> ted striker. oh, my god. >> up next -- >> we have to get mike -- >> our producer, mike. >> up next, congressman eric swalwell. and that minor detail about the firing of the fbi director. he's on the intel committee trying to pull the thread of it all. we'll be right back. with the fbi, they've already found the string. and they're pulling on it, based
on my contacts inside the fbi and they're starting to tug on that string. >> all right. >> they're going to keep tugging. >> they're going to keep going and it's axccelerated because o the way he fired comey. >> i'm going to find it. whatever it is, whatever thread you left behind, however small, the one that threatens everything you are. we both know it's out there. you know exactly what it is. you were talking about sleepless nights. it's what you'll wake up thinking about in the dark, shaking, because i'm going to find it. you know i will. and i'm going to pull on it, and i'm going to pull on it until your whole [ bleep ] world unravels.
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that's what the president's position is. >> given that you refuse to confirm or deny any of this, how is any senior official supposed to feel comfortable having a conversation with the president? >> as i said, hallie, the president has made his position clear. hallie, i answered the question over and over again the same way. >> how has the president made it clear what his position is? >> i've answered that several time. >> how has he made it clear? >> that's his position. he said he has nothing further to add. >> lord. sean spicer yesterday, not answering questions on whether the housemaid secret recordings. >> why can't they answer that? why can't they answer that? >> because they can't answer anything. >> basic question. >> and i'm not exaggerating. >> donald trump has secret recordings? does he? >> does he or doesn't he? >> they taught news law school he who does not deny admits. right? on something like this, this is like, again, nixonian. why can't they deny this? >> it's like the tax returns. when you play coy, you leave
open the possibility that you are hiding something. just say whether or not you are doing it. >> this is a simple one. either there are or there aren't. if there are, he should say there are and get on with it. >> joining us now, house intelligence committee, democratic congressman eric swalwell of california. >> good morning, gang. >> wow! >> so -- >> where do we begin? >> i honestly don't know where to begin. what most concerns you about this white house that appears to be in meltdown mode? >> what concerns me is that the cost of this president's ties to russia is becoming our national security. and that's a price that we just cannot afford to pay. it's very hard to explain why russia's interference in our campaign this last election should be something we can't tolerate and affects all of us. but people have a pretty easy time understanding why the president should not be disclosing national security secrets to an enemy when those secrets could affect american
lives. so i think a line was crossed and we need to know now, in congress, just exactly what was told and what does this mean for the future of information sharing with allies and for the troops are serving abroad. >> congressman, it's willie geist, good to see you up early for us in california this morning, good to see you. you're on the house intel committee. what are your specific concerns about what president trump admitted to doing, which is communicating this information to the russian foreign minister and the russian ambassador to the u.s.? >> willie, when i look back, when we all look back on this a few years from now, we'll first say, why were the russians in the white house? and i mean that seriously, willie. they had just attacked our democracy the day before the meeting the fbi director investigating their interference campaign was fired. why was it okay for them to be there? and their being there is exactly what we have all feared all along, is donald trump would say something to them that is not really in line with u.s. policy.
they are not our friends. whether it's what they are doing in ukraine, syria, what they are alleged to be doing in afghanistan and supporting the taliban and killing american soldiers, they are not our friends. we should share nothing more than pleasantries, certainly not national security secrets. >> good morning, congressman. what do you think the it is that mcmaster didn't say happened during the meeting? >> i don't know, this is another example of the president's team trying to help him out and then being undercut by the president's very own words. we saw this last week over the firing of director comey with vice president pence and sean spicer and others trying to put forward a reason that the president ended up saying wasn't true, so what we want now is for the people who were in that room to come to congress and tell us just exactly what was exchanged with the russians, what programs that the u.s. had right now are
affected and compromised, and what we're going to do to protect intelligence officers and american troops who are in the battlefield and could be affected by this. >> congressman, steve ratner. democrats are, obviously, in a minority in the house and the senate as well as, of course, not having the white house. this talk about independent councils, commissions, discharge petitions, all these different ways of trying to get to the truth, but how can the democrats given their position actually influence this outcome and getting the truth out? >> steve, we're not powerless, and the founders actually envisioned this scenario where you would have an out of control president, so that's why congress can't act as a check, so this week we are calling for the independent commission vote to be forced. this is legislation that elijah cummings and i wrote back in december, foreseeing that the president would be a real impediment to getting to the bottom of what happened. we also in the judiciary committee where i served can call and ask for a special
prosecutor. eliot engel and i have written legislation weeks ago calling for a freeze in relationship changes with russia, meaning there should be no russian reward and until the investigation is complete we shouldn't do anything to help the russians. we are not powerless and we're supported by the american people, whose concerns are being more and more amplified every day. three out of four people support this country, an independent commission to get to the bottom of what's going on with russia. >> we're following breaking news. moments ago the president defended his quote, absolute right to share highly classified intelligence with russia. >> "the washington post" reports trump tweets seem to admit he revealed classified information to russia, contradicting white house staff statements last night. that just now broke from "the washington post." >> the question now is, did his national security adviser mislead the american people last night when he denied the report,
or did he leave just enough room for the president to do what he did this morning, change the story? we're going to break it all down, we're going to speak live with a member of the senate intelligence committee, senator joe manchin. eric, thank you very much. >> we'll be back live right after the break. anything, text me. do you play? ♪ ♪ use the chase mobile app to send money in just a tap, to friends at more banks then ever before. you got next? chase. helping you master what's now and what's next. this is a story about mail 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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the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that i think makes -- it creates a worrisome environment. >> the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, bob corker, reacting to another damaging report from the trump white house. >> mika, he talked about the chaos. >> it's constant. >> downward spiral and how it's worrying. let's talk about what we have learned in the last 30 minutes. once again, another self-inflicted wound by the president. >> and an undermining of a member of his cabinet. >> once again cutting the knees out from under one of the most respected people, not only in this white house, but all of washington. he sends out mcmaster, general mcmaster yesterday, a man who has served this country honorably for decades to go out and say, you know, this story's
false, we really didn't do anything. it was a very artful dodge. this morning the president of the united states tweets out confirming that he did pass along sensitive intel, and he says as president i wanted to share it and i had the absolute right to do so. >> so the advice for the president needs to be stop talking and stop tweeting. literally, stop talking. >> but he did -- >> stop talking. >> again, he did the same thing last week where he told everybody we're going to blame this on the deputy attorney general, they all go out, mike pence is basically told a lie, which he repeats on capitol hill seven times. sean spicer repeated it. sarah huckabee, they all repeated it, and the president then burned them. he has thrown everybody in the white house under the bus, and he did it again this morning. >> with us to break it down, former special assistant to
president obama, former spokesperson and senior director for the national security adviser rick price, msnbc contributor rick tyler, former aide to george w. bush white house and state departments elise jordan. so the president is weighing in on a "the washington post" report revealing he revealed highly classified information to the russian foreign minister and ambassador in a face-to-face meeting last week. according to the paper, the information had originally been provided by a u.s. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the u.s. government. the foreign partner had not given the u.s. permission to share the material with russia, and trump's decision to do so reportedly endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the islamic state.
officia officials told "the post" trump revealed the city and islamic state 's territory where the intelligence partner detected the threat. "the washington post" is withholding that location, along with most plot details at the urging of officials within the trump administration, who warned it would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities. a u.s. official said this is code word information, terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels. >> so, ned price, first of all, the white house actually showed its hand last night when they quickly and desperately reached out to the head of the cia and the head of the nsa, alerting them to the facts that some highly classified information had been released. the white house at the same time furiously pushing back, calling "the washington post" liars, saying this never happened, sending out general mcmaster, who does a nondenial denial, and
this morning, the president undercuts everybody and says, yes, i did pass along classified information. case closed here? >> well, joe, the other thing the white house did yesterday is they requested that "the washington post" omit key details. and in doing so, the irony here is "the washington post" showed more discretion than president trump did in his discussion with the russians over this threat. so, look, i think what the president has done this morning is absolutely undercut the denials and the carefully worded statements we have heard yesterday. not only from h.r. mcmaster, not only from dina powell, not only from secretary tillerson, but all of this administration's surrogates claiming that there's nothing to see here, this is more fake news. look, h.r. mcmaster is one of the most respected voices in our national security establishment. he wrote a book called "der election of duty" and the sub head is "the lies that led to vietnam." i think in light of all of this
we can envision a book written 20, 30 years from now that will involve this whole cast of characters that will tell a very sorry tale. >> the president tweeted last hour this, mika? >> "as president, i wanted to share with russia at an openly scheduled white house meeting, which i have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. humanitarian reasons, plus i want russia to greatly step up their fight against isis and terrorism." compare that to last night when the national security adviser appeared before the cameras to push back on the report. >> the story that came out tonight as reported is false. the president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. at no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed, and the president did
not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. to other senior officials were president, including the secretary of state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. their accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources, and i was in the room, it didn't happen. >> again, a nondm denial, but the president of the united states this morning said it did happen. now, if you're a republican on capitol hill, elise jordan, if you are a member of the conservative media class, why do you keep setting yourself up to let this guy knock your head off? we saw last night some conservatives saying, okay, hold on, wait a second. now, this sounds a lot like the deputy attorney general last week. i'm not so sure i'm comfortable going out. this is an erosion of support and confidence that is sure to follow with his own base.
unless you are one of the most pathetic craven apologists whose name i will not repeat on this air, why would you ever believe this guy again, or this white house again? >> i mean, and you can see the deterioration of support among republicans. it started. you did not have people coming out last night in robust droves saying, oh, we're being president trump on this one. it started, and the sad part of it to me is just watching someone like h.r. mcmaster get up, make a statement like that, say he was in the room and it did not happen, then gets immediately undercut by the man in charge. so it just, you know, someone is lying here. who is it? >> trump once again, we don't have to have a special prosecutor on these things because trump tells you. yes, i fired, killed the investigation. yes, i revealed top secret information. willie, why would his press
people, why would any general anymore put their neck out on the line to have their -- ros rosenstein, from what i hear, one of the great reputations of any lawyer in washington, d.c. got it sullied in a week. trump trashed his reputation in a week. >> what's interesting about mcmaster, too, he was there, he was in the room, so he doesn't have to decipher or hear ten versions of the story and figure out what he believes to be true. he was sitting in on that conversation, so by going out there, he's saying a firsthand account this does not happen. he did say the president didn't reveal sources or methods, which gives him wiggle room and doesn't really answer the charges made in "the washington post" that donald trump exposed by saying what he said intel. >> i think mcmaster can certainly be true. the problem is we're caught in legalisms and the president has a legal right to reveal classified information. he said he had the absolute right, but i would question that.
he doesn't have the absolute right to compromise national security. he doesn't have the absolute right to compromise intel sources and personnel around the globe, and that's what he's done. mcmaster is right saying he didn't name the person, but sbemgt people can find out who these people are, and if i were that person, i'd be getting out of dodge. >> if we're debating semantics here and what's true and parsing language, then he's lost the argument. just because the general thrust and what is being put out there isn't true and people right now are saying, listen, this is wrong, this is messed up. let's get to the bottom of it. there's just no tolerance. this administration has credibility. >> the second part is he's shredding people who have integrity around him and who is going to get on the television -- like this morning, i don't know who's defending the president this morning. >> by the way, for republican friends on capitol hill watching this, i notice something happened here at msnbc that's
never happened before. we have three people registered republicans. i don't know if any of y'all have voted for a democrat in a presidential election. i never have. none of us ever have. we are the ones that are talking to you about donald trump. and by the way, donald trump's a democrat, i didn't vote for him either, so i still have a perfect record of never voting for a democrat for president of the united states, and yet three republicans right here. is it not time for paul ryan and mitch mcconnell and republicans in congress to step up and do the right thing for the sake of this country? >> even corker wasn't full throated. he was really struggling. he was really struggling. >> corker was tougher -- >> tougher than the rest of them. >> it's horribly overdue. i'm just going to go back and say this is the fault of the rnc for letting donald trump into our nominating process in the first place.
he's a democrat. he wouldn't have been able to run on his own as an independent and win the presidency. we own this and we need to fix it. we need to do something and to force this president to behave with integrity. >> so who is going to do it? >> i don't think he can. >> who has the authority? barry goldwater walked down to the white house and told richard nixon this is over. i'm not saying this is over, but who's the republican that steps out and goes down to the white house and says, you either start putting people around you that control your worst impulses, or we're going to make your life a living and breathing hell on the other side of pennsylvania avenue, and we will constrain you ourselves. and we will take the chance next year when we run for re-election and explain that we stood up to a lifelong democrat that had a hostile takeover through the republican party because our commander in chief was divulging secrets to our biggest enemy
across the globe, putting people's lives at risk, putting our national security at risk, and firing fbi directors that started to expand investigations into russia. why can't they do that? >> think about what you're protecting, republicans right now, by standing with donald trump on this. this is not politics, this is not to piss off the left. this is protecting a president leaking classified information to as you said, our greatest enemy. after you spent a year and a half, the entire thrust against hillary clinton was she had a home brewed server and may have exposed intelligence to hackers, perhaps to russia. now we have a direct example of the president speaking to russia. >> boasting. >> are you going to stand up and defend that? >> has any republican done that yet? i haven't seen that. >> criticized him? >> no, come out this morning and said i'm standing by the president. >> no, but their silence is
telling. >> that's true, i agree. >> mika, you spent a year and a half getting abused by democrats going after hillary clinton because she's so recklessly handled her server. it's not like we're picking on donald trump for doing this. you hammered hillary clinton for a year and a half for being reckless with classified information, as did donald trump, as did republicans. >> this takes reckless to a whole new level. if you look at the pictures and see them chumming it up, shaking hands, grabbing each other's shoulders. he thinks this is a country club and this is a bunch of stooges selling them land and he can give them little information to get a deal going. this is russia! this is russia! and today you meet with turkey's leader. god knows what's going to come out of his mouth. republicans need to be a little worried about their president. members of the president's cabinet might want to talk to each other. you guys might want to think
about it. >> elise -- >> i'm dead serious. >> elise, context matters here. mika, let's show these pictures again. donald trump meets with the russian foreign minister and with the ambassador from russia to the united states, a man whose phone call led to the firing of a national security adviser, a historic moment, and whose meeting with the attorney general led to his recusal. this meeting in the oval office without u.s. reporters, with only russian reporters, with -- with cameras and other equipment that caused great concern to national security experts, that they could go into the most sensitive room in the united states of america, all of this happened the day after donald trump fired the fbi director who
is requesting an expansion of an investigation into donald trump's ties --:putin asked for that meeting. >> to russia. why was he there? do we have the clip? we'll play this clip and then elise respond. why did they have this meeting? donald trump tells us. >> when i spoke with putin, he asked me whether or not i would see lavrov. now, should i say no i'm not going to see him? i said i will see him. during that discussion with la r lavrov, i think we had a great discussion having to deal with syria, having to deal with ukraine, and maybe that discussion will lead to a lot less people getting killed and will lead ultimately to peace. >> tie those things together over a 48-hour time period, i will say it, he's not well. >> no. >> he does not understand the consequences of his actions. he does not remember from one day to the next what his narrative is. >> and he doesn't care.
>> he blows everybody up around him. >> he doesn't care. >> he doesn't care, because i don't think, again, from people i've been talking to inside the white house, especially over the weekend, they say the situation has gotten much more dire over the last three weeks. >> well, he's behaving like a loose cannon who has no idea of the gravity of the power he holds. >> he doesn't care. it's not important to him. >> it's absolutely mind boggling. >> cool being popular and shaping the truth to make it look like lots of people watch him on television and come to his rallies. that's important to him. he doesn't care. >> you know what bothers me about those photos? those are russian propaganda photos. that photo right there, that's russian propaganda photo. that's a huge asset right now. putin is opening up the vodka and champagne, they are having a great time.
these are russian propaganda photos. >> he's made the presidency a joke. >> this happened because he's boasting, because he was bragging, he couldn't control his mouth for the preservation for american national security, and someone's going to die. >> and most likely, if you talk to the intel community, ned price, someone's going to die. i mean, i've had friends in the intel community through the years, who have talked about how painstaking it is to find somebody who might be a human resource, and then you have to take them and be with them for six months in an isolated location sometimes to make sure they get their story right. to make sure they don't mess up. to make sure they have their cover. and you keep going. and so much money, millions and millions of dollars put in to this person, this human resource, and then they are sent in. and sometimes the first time
they go in, it's not a natural fit, they have to come back out. so then they'll send them in a second and third and fourth time and maybe if they are lucky they'll meet a friend of a cousin of the target and they will wind their way there through a mosque or some other way. it's one of the most difficult things, the great men and women in our intel community do, and donald trump blew it all up, this operation. and most likely has cost lives just to boast in the white house. talk about the impact, the shattering impact on our intel community. >> it's absolutely shattering. look, there's a sacred covenant between clandestine assets and their handlers, whether it's a cia or any other relationship in the world, that covenant is based on the fact that we provide them safety and security and perhaps financial remuneration. they in turn commit treason,
they commit treason against their governments, against the terrorist organizations which they belong. they put their lives at risk, quite literally, in fact, and if it becomes known or suspected that the u.s. government is careless, that we are reckless, that we are not living up to our end of the bargain, no one is going to work for us any longer. we are going to lose valuable intelligence that has over the years, and especially since 9/11, saved american lives. >> all right, ned price, thank you very much. >> thank you so much, ned. willie, again, context. we have to keep this in context, because things move so quickly, and he is so reckless. this is a president that trashed the men and women of the cia, compared them to nazis. trashed the men and women of the fbi. humiliated their director. he found out while speaking to a group of fbi agents in l.a., and
he's been at war with the intel community from his campaign forward. >> even as you speak, he's begun to tweet to go into who the leakers are in the intelligence community. it's not the fact he said something in that room, it's the fact he wants to know who's behind this inside the intel community. >> he's actually the leaker. he's the one that leaked this sensitive information to our number one enemy. >> stop watching tv and stop tweeting. >> one more question, if general mcmaster can get up before the press today, whoever's up before the press today, if you weren't worried about what was said in the room and sources and methods were not revealed, why was the white house furiously calling around to the cia, to the national security council, head of the cia, to warn them that the president had said something in that room that he shouldn't have said? >> to save lives. coming up, we'll hear from the "the washington post" reporter that broke the story and the member of the senate intelligence committee, joe
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at least he launched into this part of the conversation in a boastful way. he was bragging about i get the best intel, i have these amazing great briefings every day, you wouldn't believe the stuff i hear. he goes through this discussion and the particulars are highly sensitive. he's talking about the ways that the islamic state is putting together this threat, the ways that it is pursuing this plot that has to do with bringing laptops, using laptops as explosives on an airplane, and beyond that, he reveals the specific city inside the islamic state 's territory where this intelligence was gleamed, so that was the real source of alarm. then he wraps it up by saying -- talking about the countermeasures, the u.s. military operations under way to suppress this threat, the other
countermeasures including the laptop ban that could be extended, and kind of jokes his way out of it saying can you believe the world we live in? boy, 25 years ago you didn't have to worry about this stuff. >> yeah, we didn't. that was "the washington post" reporter greg miller speaking with us early this morning. his story about the intel that the president shared with the russians has wiped all other news off the front page today. so, i mean, think about that, though. the waterfall of news stories caused by this president stepping on each story with a worst story about himself. >> look at this, "the boston globe," "president linked to classified release." >> i think we're in a situation -- >> "the washington post," "trump revealed secret intelligence to russia." >> we have a presidency melting down. >> here's the headline from "new york times," "trump is said to have exposed allies' secrets to
russia." "the wall street journal" -- >> nothing there above the fold. let's see there, hold on. let's see. "innovators' dilemma hit higher ed." here's an important one, "teaching your children sun protection." >> joining us now from capitol hill, member of the select committee on intelligence. >> hold on, hold on. "the wall street journal" put a story on the front page about teaching children -- >> that's got to be yesterday's paper. >> got to be. >> tuesday, may 16th. >> they had a good follow-up story. >> is this an early edition? this happened, this broke last night at 5:00 or 6:00. >> maybe it's on the inside. let's check. seriously, all right. >> hold on a second. >> i'm going in. >> great story. >> they did have a good story. posted later.
>> it's online? okay, they didn't want it in the paper. >> they must -- >> didn't get to it. >> they might have printed that at 5:00 in the afternoon, you don't know. >> it's top of their website. >> okay, all right. >> very good. senator joe manchin is with us from west virginia. senator manchin, we've been asking questions of republicans, but this isn't about being a republican, this is about being an american first. tell me, it's ironic that donald trump talks about america first, but seems like he's putting russia first when he reveals some of our allies' most sensitive secrets about our fight against isis. >> first of all, good morning to both of you and the entire set. it's good to be with you. let's put it in perspective, joe, mika. i was on the armed services committee for six years prior to this year. i went on the intelligence committee. when i went on the intelligence committee, they gave me kind of the guidelines and rules to abide by. when you think about it, there's 15 of us then we have two ex
officios, which makes 17 members, then you have the majority leader, senator mcconnell, and the ranking minority, which is senator schumer. there are 19 of us that have access to this type of information. that means there's 81 senators i cannot speak to when they ask me a question, i can't talk to them. even my own staff i can't talk to, so i know the sincerity and also the gravity of what we're dealing with here, and i take that very serious. if i breach that, i know i'll be thrown off the committee and maybe even more. so, with that being said, i can't even explain the -- what happens from there, i really can't. >> you're at a loss for words? >> i am. >> i mean that with all due respect, because we are, as well. >> we're all americans, and you would think basically we have allies around the world, trusted allies, we have our best trading partner in the world is canada
with 35 states being number one. you have basically our ally, the uk, who's been with us in all the wars that we've been involved in and every territorial dispute we've been involved in and you have one of our greatest friends and ally in israel, so we have good friends, allies, and people. russia's not one of them. russia is not one. they do not have our best interests at heart. >> we have the leader of turkey coming to visit the president today. are you at all concerned? >> well, you know, we have to have that relationship, but also i understand we've got the kurds over there who are fighting isis. we want to defeat isis, so for the turkey government thinking that their kurds is the number one enemy, not isis, there has to be some, let's say, some negotiations going on there, so we have the same direction. >> do you think, i wonder, willie, i'll toss it to you, i'm worried the president won't understand how to conduct a conversation that has complexities to it. >> i'm hoping the security staff around him understands it.
>> it appears that way. i want to ask you, as a democrat who's given the president a chance, saying let's give him some room to learn and some space to learn what it means to be president, have you lost your patience with president trump? >> well, there needs to be better coordination, i can tell you right now, whoever's working or whatever they are doing, they are not doing the job they should be doing to make sure he's understanding the gravity. >> senator, they actually go out and deliver the talking points that the president gives them and his staff gives them, then the next day the president runs over them, changes the story. this appears to be a president and by extension a white house that's out of control. >> well, joe, basically what we see coming out of the white house is not an orchestrated, basically, movement that they are talking. it's correlated, the security of our nation is first and utmost importance to all of us. with that being said, i can tell you how we operate in the senate, i can tell you my
responsibilities as a member of intelligence with my colleagues and staff. i can't tell you what the president can and can't do and can't say the president declassifies anything he deems declassified, and we can't. with that being said, i'm concerned about the safety and well being for an awful lot of people around the world that work with us in many different ways. >> senator manchin, elise jordan here. you made the really good point that you would be kicked off the intelligence committee if you shared this information outside of proper channels. >> correct. >> so what kind of repercussions are there when the president of the united states chooses to share classified information that is harmful to american interests? what's the congressional check on this kind of behavior? >> well, first of all, the rules of the senate and the rules of the executive branch and president is much different from what you have been reporting. with that being said, the security of our nation is put at
risk any time these types of things, no matter who says them. i know what penalties i face, but also the president's repercussion is the safety of the united states of america, and also the ability for us to gather information to keep our country safe. that is first and foremost and should be from the executive to the president on down. so i'm not defending, i am not basically jumping on, if you will, but the bottom line, i would say, mr. president, this country depends on you, 330 million people depend on you to keep it safe and secure. that means having the best flow of information that allows us to protect ourselves and making sure we can stop any attacks that might happen anywhere to an american. this is not the way to conduct that. >> senator joe manchin, thank you very much. still to come, we'll dig into the potential legal blowback from all of this. "morning joe" is coming right back.
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almost 40 past the hour. joining us now, professor of constitutional and international law at harvard, noah feldman, in washington, senior fellow in governance studies at the brookings institutd cofounder and etor in chief of the law fair blog. >> thank you for coming in, no news story. we were going to talk about what you all were saying a couple of days ago, let's address what's happened, though, over the past 12 hours. >> okay. >> benjamin, jump in. >> breathtaking story, and it's
a very grave matter. you know, during the break you flashed on the screen an image of law fair. the last time you put an image of law fare on your show, the president tweeted it and inadvertently tweeted a story that was actually contained sort of devastating and harsh criticisms of him, and i was reminded of that today, because, you know, that's essentially what he did in the oval office with this russian intelligence, only a much, much graver matter. he seems to have blown a major classified program to an adversary foreign power, and that's just a breathtaking breach of faith with the men and women of the american intelligence community, so, mr. president, you know, if you're watching, think before you tweet, and really think before you talk about intelligence programs to foreign adversaries. >> professor feldman, you say
that trump's classified disclosure was shocking, bad for the national interests, bad for our national security, but legal. explain. >> completely legal, because the president is the classifier in chief. that means he's the declassifier in chief and that means if he decides something's not classified, boom, it's unclassified and he couldn't be prosecuted as a result the way you or i would be if we disclosed it. there's an interesting tweet, say the white house wants to go after whoever disclosed this information. i don't think they could go after this person for having committed a crime because the president's now declassified the information, so leaking it couldn't be a crime since it wasn't a crime when he did it. >> benjamin, let's go back to the comey situation. of course, putting proper context in all of this, that russian meeting happened right after comey was fired. >> correct. >> you guys have written a good bit about that firing, about the
president saying that he fired him to end the russian investigation, as did sarah huckabee-sanders. is that a possible obstruction of justice charge moving forward? >> well, so, you know, let's pause and consider the two things you said in connection with one another. within apparently 48 hours, the president fires the fbi director for reasons he considers, has said, is related to the russia investigation and then meets with the russian ambassador and foreign minister and discloses a major intelligence program of an allied foreign intelligence service. so, you know, if people -- people should, you know -- i don't know whether those two facts are connected or not, and, you know, whether removing the fbi director could be considered an obstruction of justice to me
really depends how corruptly it was intended to be done and whether it was done with specific intent to obstruct an investigation. because i don't trust a word the president says, it's very hard to know how to take his own comments about it. i would add, however, that within a few days of removing the fbi director, he had apparently threatened him with a tweet about tapes from the oval office. and so i do think there's a series of questions that -- that the president's conduct with respect to the removal of director comey raises, and we should insist that those questions be answered in a serious way. and one of those questions is whether there's a pattern of obstructive behavior here. >> so, i want to go back and underline your point that the president did not commit a crime by sharing this information with
the russians. how does that process of presidential declassification work? is it by virtue of it coming out of his mouth that it's declassified if he wants it to be, or is there a process in place which it would be declassified first? >> there is a process and it's a bureaucratic one and the president has the authority but doesn't bother to do the declassifying. you could imagine because he didn't follow that process he did something wrong here, but the process is in place because an executive order. an executive order is whatever the president says. so if the president says that's what i did, i declassified it when i said it, that's probably sufficient for it to count as an act of declassification. i know it sounds absurd, but it's based on the idea the president has the inherent constitutional authority to decide what's classified. >> the traditional protocol wouldn't matter, necessarily. >> exactly, and that's also why we need other kinds of oversight. the bottom line is, where the constitutional authority blocks you from prosecuting the president, you need congressional oversight and
ultimately you need to think about the possibility of impeachment if you think the president's behavior is incompetent over a long enough period of time. >> benjamin, looking at your law fare article and you point out that if this information was given away through carelessness or neglect, this could actually be a violation of the president's oath of office? >> yes, i think it is very likely, assuming the stories are correct, of course, that this is a grave breach of the president's oath of office. the president takes an oath to preserve and protect the constitution of the united states, and to in good faith execute the office of the president, and i think a reasonable member of congress or member of the public should really be asking themselves is turning over our most sensitive secrets to an adversary foreign power really acting in good faith in preservation of the
constitution and in execution of the presidential office. i think it's very likely a grave breach of the president's oath of office. >> quickly, how worried should we be about the president's behavior and the lack of reining him in, short of the extreme impeachment measure? >> we have a structural challenge in place. as long as the president does things that are outside his authority, the courts are working. they are stopping him. the public is making noise. civil society is working. so to some degree the constitutional system is working. where we should be really worried is where there's no one to check the president and foreign policy is a good example of that. if he makes big mistakes, there's nothing really we can do about it. >> noah feldman, benjamin wittes, thank you both. >> a couple important points, number seven, which is trump's screw-up with the russians in the oval office raises the stakes for whether he records conversations there. >> yes, it does. >> if there are tapes, we now have a national security reason to get control of those tapes.
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off script in an interview of "rolling stone" criticizing his commander of president obama and the story unfolded in real time on "morning joe." >> willie, man, we got some news coming out of afghanistan. >> remarkable. >> the top general over there. >> stanley mcchrystal. >> trashing the president. >> apologizing this morning for a "rolling stone" profile. >> crystal appears to react with exasseparation when he receives an e-mail from hol brock. >> trashing the ambassador. >> he rips the obama administration. >> the lone wolf on the outs with important figures in the white house. >> there is no alternative. this general has to be fired, he has to be gone by the end of the day. >> in front of a reporter, willie geist. >> it's shocking. >> the executive editor of "rolling stone." >> you could argue off record, on record, were there any lines blurred. >> they knew when we were on the record. they said a lot of stuff off the record that's not in the story. we respected all those
boundaries. this is when they knew they were on. >> okay. >> wow, unless he can tell petraeus and gates he was misquoted they need to fire him today. >> and by the way -- >> yeah. trip down memory lane. >> whoa. wow. >> a lot of things i want to say about that. >> valerie jarrett said at time in politico, we saw a mushroom cloud rising over "morning joe" and knew we had to do something. >> that was one of the mornings the story broke, got eric bates, unfolded on tv. general stanley mcchrystal resigned the next day. that story is the basis of the new netflix original film "war machine" brad pitt plays a fictional general inspired by the book "the operators" written by the late journalist michael hastings and loosely based on gener general mcchrystal. here's a clip. >> you boys are where it actually happens. i would go so far to say you boys are the only things that counts. doesn't happen here, it doesn't
happen, end of story. yes. >> what doesn't happen, sir? >> it, son. >> thank you, sir. >> does anyone here know what "it" is? anyone? anyone? >> to secure the area, sir? >> to protect people from the enemy so they can go about building their lives. >> okay. okay. thank you, sarge. >> okay. but i can't tell the difference between the people and the enemy. >> they all look alike to me. i'm pretty sure they're the same people, sir. >> i understand but that's the job. >> joining us now is the writer and director of "war machine" david, along with elise jordan whose late husband michael hastings wrote the piece which became this book. good to have you with us. >> thanks for having me. >> what was so compelling about
the story to you as a director? what did you want to say? >> i had been looking for a way in to one of these modern theaters of war for quite a while. i mean i had assumed it would probably be something akin to all the other movies that seem to get made about modern american war these days. something about troops on the ground. the experience of men under incredibly trying circumstances and bonding with one another and that kind of stuff. i just -- i couldn't find the story. it wasn't until brad pitt's company put michael's book in front of me i suddenly saw a different way in. it was about a much larger machine, all the strat tus of the military and the thing that was most striking to me about michael's book and i was saying this all the time, anyway, in my the research i had been doing for years, none of this made sense, you know.
it was just -- what is the grand illusion at the center of all of this. and, you know, as soon as i started seeing that, i started to -- i started to see a movie about hubris and vanity and ambition and kind of then, you know, very naturally kind of just moved into the world of comedy. >> which is where the movie sits. >> elise, i can't help but ask you how you're doing and what you're thinking as you watch michael's work get played out on the big screen, and the story get dug into the complexities of it, the confusion of it? what is your reaction. >> i'm just so incredibly excited the film got made and made with michael's original vision still intact. i feel like david did a really incredible job of capturing michael's humor but also, you know, how he looked at this chaos that he saw on the ground and making some sense of it. i think that that scene you saw
with brad pitt asking with the soldiers, with well what is "it" and no one can still say so many years, 16 years, our longest war and we're still considering yet another troop surge in afghanistan and that's why i'm so grateful that this film got made, that it can reach -- that michael's book message can reach a broader audience, but also that it can perhaps be influential at a critical time yet again for the debate about wart in afghanistan. >> i was telling the story eight years ago, eight years ago, when talking about tripling the number of troops in afghanistan, eight years ago, 2009, i told a story of flying with a guy in special ops in 2003, or 2004, and i asked him, are we going to win this thing in afghanistan and he goes, nothing to it. all you got to do is send a million troops into pakistan. >> yeah. >> and he just sat there looking at me like -- 2004! said basically, we will never win this war because we are fighting the wrong enemy.
it's not on the afghanistan side of the boundary. so we're chasing ghosts still. >> yeah. i mean, it's the -- it's -- it has been said it's like wow, it's incredible given what seems to be sucking up all the bandwidth these days that this movie is kridsbly timely and for me this movie has been timely for 16 years. and if the election had gone the other way, i think it would still be timely. you know, it's this -- this same pathological inability to admit failure, that there is -- that there is a great delusion at play and it is -- it is being perpetuated. i think it's unsettling that given all -- there is a proposed troop surge, that you have -- you're in a situation where that becomes like second and third
and fourth item on the news. this is -- we're in this state of perpetual and the war is the new normal. >> desensitized to it. >> michael hastings warned in the operators of some of this hubris, but he also painted a portrait of general mike flooin that holds up -- flynn that holds up really well. this quote about mike flynn joking how he lied to get this security clearance and this book was written in 2010 and then you can see his mission and what mike flynn, as, you know, the fictional depiction of him but this is all in "the operators." i feel like michael was ahead of the curve on at lot of this. >> thank you, guys, so much. >> david, thank you. >> elise. >> "war machine." we appreciate it. willie, 30 seconds, where are we right now? >> the story has wound around again. we got the story from general mcmaster and rex tillerson that there was nothing to worry about in that room between the president and the russian ambassador and russian foreign
minister and trump said, in fact, i did say those things in the room and we're hearing from the national security spokesperson who told cbs news, nothing donald trump tweeted this morning reveals that he said anything classified in the room. in other words, we stand by what general mcmaster said. >> when he says, i revealed classified information basically and i had the right to do that, it continues. >> it does. >> and it's going to get more complicated for this white house and this country and this world. >> and that does it for us this morning. stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage right now. >> thanks, mika. good morning. i'm stephanie ruhle. we have breaking news to report. damage control. president trump defending sharing information with the russians. perhaps even contradicting his own national security adviser. >> the story that came out tonight as reported is false. >> i was in the room. it didn't happen. >> on capitol hill, shock and anger as members of congress search for answers.