tv MSNBC Live MSNBC May 19, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT
and europe. could this be a reset after a tumultuous time in washington. anthony weiner scheduled to be in federal court right now. what's next for the disgraced former congressman? the reported plea deal and the jail time he could face. we're live at the courthouse. good morning, everyone. i'm chris jansing at our msnbc headquarters in new york. president trump now trying to leave a series of controversies behind as he leaves in a few hours on his first foreign trip in office. the president tweeting, less than an hour ago, getting ready for my big foreign trip. will be strongly protecting american interests. that's what i like to do. but the controversy surrounding the white house are not going away. deputy attorney general rosenstein is holding that closed door briefing with all house members on the president's controversial firing of fbi director james comey. of course, they're also talking about his appointment of former
fbi director mueller to lead the russian investigation. he held a similar feeting yesterda -- meeting yesterday. lindsey graham said it appears the russia investigation has changed. >> the shock to the body is now considered a criminal investigation. congress's ability to conduct investigations of all things russia has been severely limited. >> a special prosecutor is doing an investigation of criminal allegations that are extremely serious, including possible obstruction of justice. >> senators also said rosenstein contradicted president trump's timeline of events in the firing of james comey. that the president referred to begun just yesterday. >> i actually thought when i made that decision, and i also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the deputy attorney
general, rod rosenstein. >> he did acknowledge that he learned comey would be removed prior to him writing his memo. >> new reporting by the "washington post" this morning that then-fbi director james comey actually prepared extensively for his meetings with president trump, concerned about what trump might want from him. we've got it all covered with our nbc correspondents at both ends of pennsylvania avenue. let's start with nbc's mike on capitol hill. i don't know if you've talked to anybody since i saw you in there, asking questions of darrell issa. we played most of that back and forth with reporters. we joined what i think was mid question about the scope of mueller's abilities in this investigation. what did he say about that? >> evidently, it is going to be a wide scope. to a certain degree, it is a relief to many members of congress. darrell ice ssa coming out. forgive me if i keep looking over my shoulder. the deputy attorney general
walked in before we got here, and we're waiting for him to walk out. no guarantee or expectation he is going to stop. acrding to issa, one of the first memberso trickle out of the meeting, which is still going on, mr. rosenstein said this is all about public confidence. he said that special counsel mueller will have a wide range in his investigation. and he also said that he does not agree -- and this is significant because we've heard this from a number of republicans who we've confronted with this question -- that he does not agree with the president's characterization of what mr. mueller is up to, and the whole idea of a special counsel to begin with, as a witch hunt. here's more of what issa had to say. >> what i learned, and i'm satisfied with, is that the special prosecutor will have the breadth of scope necessary to follow any and all leads directly and tangental to the
russian attempt to influence our elections. that unclassified. that, for me, is the most important question there is. >> another key question, how far do congressional investigations go? there are no fewer than four committees under investigation. here's mccarthy. >> i thought it was informative. there were things in there classified. he did get asked a question that he said it was not classified, that we could answer. one of the questions were for public -- he already said it -- that he has no evidence that comey asked for any further resources. that all the resources were there. thank you. >> well, that was a very brief comment. we're going to go back to mike throughout the morning, as he is able to maybe get some of those members. mike on capitol hill. very brief, you were interrupted mid thought.
>> yes, chris. again, one of the key questions here from republicans and democrats alike, no fewer than four investigations going on. two in the house and two in the senate. into this matter of russian meddling. republicans want to know how much further do congressional investigators go? are they going to be stepping on special counsel mueller's investigation? there is concern. you heard lindsey graham say he was going to be backing off his subcommittee investigation. that is something that is going to be a key question as the morning moves forward. chris? >> keep us posted. we'll come back to you if we need to, as members continue to go out there. let us know. there will be votes that start at 11:15. in the next ten minutes, pr presumably, more of the members will be leaving the meeting with rosenstein and heading to cast their votes. let's go to hans nickhols at th white house. they're hoping to reset. it's been a terrible couple of weeks for them. all the news has been about comey, about this investigation,
been about the naming of the special counsel. tell us about this nine-day, five-stop trip, and realistically and politically what they hope to accomplish. >> the logistics will allow the president to change the conversation. you won't have daily briefings so you won't have this situation where sometimes the president contradicts his press secretary. he leaves today, this afternoon, for saudi arabia. then he is on to israel. he has a stop in the vatican. he also will meet with nato allies in brussels. then he has a summit in sicily. i think what officials want to focus on is the part of bringing all the world's great religions together. they'll try to recruit and have a sense of what the islamic world can do to combat extremism at home. at the same time, there is a transactional approach to all of this. the president is going to talk about potentially $350 billion in new arms sales to saudi arabia. now, the ink is only dry on $110
billion, which is still a lot of arms to sell. they get to $350 billion number by talking about notional and what the intent is going to be. but it is clear that donald trump, real estate broker, wants to have some deliverables in terms of deals. chris? >> the art of the deal. in the meantime, there's a lot of speculation that, as part of this reset moving on, he may, even before he leaves, name a new fbi director. what are you hearing there? >> well, since we' traffic and speculation, i'll give you my tip on that. watch the fla behind the podium in the press briefing room. earlier, they were moved around a bit. there is a deal of flurry. maybe we'll be getting an announcement before the president leaves around 2:00 today. there's nothing on the schedule yet. white house officials have not indicated that there is going to be an announcement of an fbi director. we do know -- >> let me interrupt you. elijah cummings has come out of the meeting with rod rosenstein. let's take a listen. >> again, this is not about the briefing but my feelings.
it's three parts to this very significant moment in america's history. one, we have a -- an election that was interfered with by the russians. that's got to be looked at. two, we have a situation where there's a question as to whether there was some type of collusion. three, we have to discover and work on whether there was a coverup. i am convinced that the congress has a very significant role, as does the special counsel. and i think that the congress's
role is to look forward. to make sure this does not ever happen again. the threat that somebody in russia or some foreign land can dictate who sits in the oval office and determines our policies and our destiny should upset every single one of us as americans. now, i know mr. rosenstein was the u.s. attorney in maryland for over tenyears. i've always known him to be a very honorable pe. i'm very -- i was very pleased, certainly, with the selection of mr. mueller. you will not push him around. he's a straight shooter. he will, i think, bring some normalcy to this process. that's my final point. we've got to let this process
play out. it needs to play out. normally, what happens when you have an investigation, those who investigate it are quiet. and the attorney speaks for them. as you know, i'm an attorney. basically says, we're going to cooperate. period. that's it. and i think that's what we all need to do. let this process play out. but i think we should never forget what started all of this. that is, 17 intelligence entities of the united states of america unanimously concluding that the russians tried and, to some degree, some degree, interfered with our elections. when we are dancing with the angels, the question will be, what was -- what do we do at this moment? what do we do about that?
what difference did we make? did we sit back and just say, you know, i'm not going to be bothered, just let it go? or did we do everything in our power to make sure that it doesn't happen again? finally, keep in mind, the russians are looking forward to interfering in more elections. they just did it, apparently, in france. so we have got work to do. again, we have been fortunate -- i think if you were to ask the members of congress how they feel about special counsel mueller, i guarantee you, in survey, iuarantee you 90% of them would applaud that. so hopefully now we can move forward. the american people wants us to
do things for them. they have spent the last few months turning on their televisions almost every hour -- not every day, every hour -- and learning things that worry them, that hurt them, that concern th them. it's their turn. it's their turn to have us do some things for them. so i'm not going to answer any questions -- >> you are the top democrat. >> definitely. i just said that. oh, no. i said -- >> no conflict with mr. mueller's investigation? >> i have absolutely no doubt. mueller is a pro. come on now. i believe that there will be no problem with -- there may be some disagreement, but no problem with us sitting down and working with mueller and his assistants and coming up with a
plan so that we don't interfere with his investigation, and we are allowed to do what we have to do. but i cannot emphasize it enough, again, when we're dancing with angels, the question is, will we look back -- will people look back and say, what did you do to make sure our elections were fair, transparent and the way the founding fathers meant for them to be? that's a great threat. i don't want us to lose sight of that. >> very quickly, how much was mr. rosenstein pressed to explain why he wrote that memo about comey and who asked him to do it? >> i can't answer that. i could answer it, but i candidacy answcan't answer it because -- >> issa was just here talking all about it, congressman. >> oh, he did? well, whatever he said. what'd he say? >> congressman, joe lieberman,
fbi? >> i like joe lieberman. i think he's a wonderful man. i've known him for a long time. i think we have to be very, very careful with this selection. as you know, chairman chaffetz and i have worked hard with the secret service and its leadership. i think you need a kind of police person. i really do. but that's above my pay grade. i didn't run for the senate. i'm not there to cast a vote. but i think that's the type i would prefer. just something, i think, they would prefer, too. a police type agency. i think they would -- lastly, we need -- come on, this morning i said on cnn, i said, this thing has turned into a mess. we have to straighten this out. and i think we need to pull
politics out of this as much as possible. by the way, for those same reasons is why i like mueller. okay? the same reasons. thank you, all. i really appreciate you all. by the way, one other thing. if there is any moment that the press in our country's history has a major role, it's this moment. this is your moment. you have got to put it out there so people can understand what is going on. i have said it before, and i'll say it again. this is about the fight for the soul of our democracy. we cannot afford to lose this one. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> democrat elijah cummings coming out of the meeting with rosenstein, as did don bacon of nebraska, who serves on the armed services committee and is a retired u.s. air force
brigadier general. thank you for joining us. so much to talk about. i know you were listening in to what your colleague on the democratic side has to say. let me start with the question a lot of people are asking about, and that's this timeline. the first thing we hrd from the white house was the suggestion that the president pursued this, the firing, because he'd gotten, in part, this memo from rod rosenstein, who our understanding is from senators yesterday, now says that was written with the knowledge that the white house had already decided. did you get clarity on that today? what can you tell us? >> i'll just say my impression is that the president was leaning towards firing director comey but wanted to get the legal backing or at least the feedback, if he had good, solid ground to do so or not. my impression is he was leaning that way but he wanted feedback from experts such as the deputy attorney general, and the memo that was -- >> he himself said he already
decided to do it. >> i took it more as he was leaning that direction. probably thought it was a wise thing. but he wanted feedback, is how i interpreted it. we'll know more because, you know, the special investigator will actually look at this and validate what it is. this is my impression from what i've heard today. he was leaning that way and wanted feedback. we'll see from the special investigator as he goes through this. he'll validate that one way or the other. >> what did you want to hear from rod rosenstein today and did you get your questions answered? >> it was interesting to hear what he had to say. he wanted to meet with us. basically, he supported the information in the memo, saying he stands by the memo on there. i've read the memo. i thought it was informative. my impression is, after being in the house here since january 3rd, i've seen firsthand that the director, comey, and i admire the man personally, and i think he is a principle person, but he had lost credibility on both sides of the aisle. we had private meetings where he was, in a way, heckled by the other side, and i could see there was a lot of anger on the
democratic side. on our side, the republican side, they'd lost a lot of confidence, too, from events starting from last year in july. i just saw firsthand he didn't have a lot of backing from either party. i think it was time for a new director. >> now, i want to get back, if we have to, to who the new fbi director might be, but let me stick with this topic. you also heard from elijah cummings that he thinks that congress is relevant. that it is up to robert mueller to look at the russia interference, look at the possibility of collusion, the suggestion being now, add the possibility of criminality involved with all of this. on the congressional side, your job is to make sure this never happens again. how do you see the delineation, and does the appointment of robert mueller make your job tougher? >> i agree with my colleague on the other side of the aisle. i was listening to him. it is clear that russia was trying to interfere in our election. i personally believe -- i'm a 30-year military guy, just shy of it, worked in the military
field, this area, it is apparent to me that russia wanted to undermine the confidence of our election. i think they know we have a partisan divide. they threw gas on the fire. i think that was their intention, to degrade the strength of our country. they don't do it just here. they've done it in germany, in france, and they will be doing it in england or great britain here soon. i think it is clear the russians have bad designs for us. the special prosecutor will see, was there anything criminal done or is there any collusion? i don't think we've seen evidence of it. if they come across evidence, we should deal with it. the meantime, we have our oversight role you're right. we should continue on with o role in the house and the senate. >> as we've been watching some town halls around the country, we see what was predominantly health care shifted, at least in part, to comey. you've got two town halls you just announced. what were you hearing from constituen constituents? obviously, they'll have plenty of questions for you. what do you want to hear from them? >> well, i did three town halls in the last three weeks.
we have two more coming up tomorrow. you're right, i think the top issues were health care, and i would say in the last town hall i did last weekend, it was about director comey. a lot of questions dealing with the president. i suspect tomorrow, we'll get some of that. probably get a little more with the announcement of mr. mueller, as well. >> do you have your own questions, i'm wondering, congressman, about the president as he embarks on his first foreign trip? a very complicated series of stops. some concerns about the depth of research that he has done. what we have learned from the first 120 or so days of this administration is that he likes to keep things simple, and he's going into a complex situation. >> it is complex. i'm glad that he is going to israel to see some of the sunni allies we have. my experience, and i've seen it firsthand as a general in the air force, is we undermined our allies the last eight years. first of all, our agreement with the iranians undermined us with
the sunni friends we've had, that we partner with to defeat isis. we've seen it undermine our relationship with israel. it is important for the president to go to israel and to meet with our sunni allies and restore that relationship. that's what we're going to need to defeat isis. we need to stand right side by side with the israelis and not have the light between us that the previous administration talked about. you hit on something bigger. i think one of the good things about having mueller as an investigator now is it'll allow us to focus on what we need to be working on. i'm afraid we're going to be diverted if we didn't have something like this. we need to work on tax reform, dodd/frank reforms, the senate obviously will be working on health care we passed over there, and we need to be working on our agenda to get america back to two-point or three-point gdp growth. if we focus on controversies, we're not going to get the job done for the american people. this is going to allow us to focus on the issues we need to be on while mr. mueller does his investigation.
>> congressman don bacon who just came out of the meeting with rod rosenstein, thank you so much. have a good weekend. >> thank you. we'll talk about all of this next. i have a distinguished panel. plus, breaking news out of new york with former congressman anthony weiner. he is inside a courthouse right now, expected to plead guilty to a new charge in the sectixting case. could be jail for him. more on that coming up. i am totally blind.
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we're checking out the podium just outside the room where rod rosenstein was briefing members of the house. 432 members or some such is the count. sheila jackson lee says she didn't learn a whole lot that was new. we heard from a succession of people in there. a lot of it classified. that's part of the problem, at least for those of us on the outside. joining me now, frank montoya, a former special agent in charge of the fbi's seattle division. and also the press secretary for intelligence issues. and a former prosecutor in new york. she's a professor now.
yesterday, as the senators were coming out, and now we're hearing it from members of congress as they're coming out in the last half hour or so, about the criminal side of this. does it change in any way what mueller is going to do? is he going to pursue it and the chips fall where they may? >> he'll look into the whole picture. it is still an intelligence investigation, trying to figure out what russia did, how they did it. making sure it doesn't happen again in the future, to understand what happened in the past. so they can use that. but if it turns out they come across criminal activity, they're follow up on that, as well. you could have -- and there is no evidence of any of this yet, but it could be that as simple as some folks who were involved in the investigation who spoke to fbi agents, maybe they lied to the fbi agents. that's a felony if they did. so the statements that were made previously as opposed to what they may say now if they're interviewed again, those things will be taken into account. if anybody actually helped the
russians or encouraged the russians to hack, or showed them how, there could be some felonies relating to that. it depends wt the involveme was, and it depends what he finds. right now, he is going to srt with a clean slate and look at everything. >> one of the things we heard as we were watching some folks coming out there is you can almost sense it in their body language and answers. there is a level of exhaustion on capitol hill about the chaos and whether or not they wanted the appointment of a special prosecutor or not, most of them agree robert mueller is probably about as good as you can get in terms of being bipartisan. getting bipartisan support. you knew him and worked with him. we've heard about how good he is at what he does. how would you describe how you think this is going to go? is he the kind of person who is going to be relentless? >> it's a great question. i think that the assignment of bob mueller to this job, that's
really key about it is it is going to allow the investigation to refocus. what i mean by that is the folks that were working on it, it's been full speed ahead all along, but there's been so many dark clouds that have gathered around it, in terms of the public scrutiny, questions of credibility. he'll allow them to refocus. he's the kind of guy that's direct. he is to the point. he cuts through the crap. he's going to make sure that they stay focused on the missions. whether it is the russian side of this thing, from the intelligence perspective, or it is looking at those potential violations of criminal law. >> i want to play what a friend of comey's said about a january meeting. this is the famous meeting we have seen so many pictures of. they're all in a room. this was between comey and president trump. take a listen. >> if you watch the video of it, he's wearing a blue blazer. he stands in the part of the room that is as far from trump
as it is physically possible to be and also against blue drapes. then at the end, right at the end, trump singles him out, extends his hand kind of preemptively, and trump grabs the hand and p him into hug. the hug is entirely one sided. one guy in the hug is shaking hands, and the other guy is hugging. comey was just completely disgusted by -- >> disgusted? >> disgusted by the episode. he thought it was an intentional attempt to compromise him in public. >> this has been, shawn, not just a drip, drip, drip, but some people would say a full on faucet every couple of hours. something else would come out. there's kind of an ongoing, i'd say, black humor joke. 5:30, 6:00 in the afternoon, what new story will be posted? you're laughing because you've probably been in on the joke before. >> i have. >> if you're in this white house and you are going now, trying to
reset with the president, going somewhere else, you're somebody who has been involved at that level -- i spent many times walking back before a foreign trip, talking to you about what the president's strategy was going to be, his message. how difficult, with all of this swirling around, is it going to be for those folks around the president right now? >> i think it is going to be extremely difficult for them, chris, but i think it is something they absolutely must do. i used to say when i was in the white house that there are some things no amount of good communication will fix. this president has made some policy decisions, personnel decisions, that were completely within his purview. as he's done that, what we've seen time and time again from his communication team is poor coordination, a lack of ability to stay on message and a lack of an ability to understand, anticipate, how some of his decisions are going to be perceived in the public. i think this team really needs to take a step back and realize it is time to step up and speak truth to power. someone on this team needs to
say to the president that it is extremely important as we make the decisions, and if we want to focus back on the president's agenda, he listens to his communication team and the strategy they develop on the day he rolls out a new policy has to ben enduring strategy. that means the next morning when he gets up and decides he has something to say, he has to understand the importance of pulling back and thinking about that before he does it. >> we're out of time because we took so much live. i want to ask you quickly, he's going abroad, or a lot of people left behind at home, will they be lawyering up? >> i'm sure they'll be preparing just in case. they may have to be interviewed. even if they're interviewed and didn't do anything wrong, they're likely to have an attorney represent them for that. >> ann marie, shawn, frank, thank you. we have that breaking news involving disgraced former congressman anthony weiner. new video from moments ago. he pled guilty to a charge of distributing obscene material to
a minor. kristen dahlgren is outside the courthouse. what can you tell us? >>l lchris, we saw anthony wein come out a few minutes ago. he ignored shouted questions. got into a black suv and drove away. i was inside the court earlier, and he pled guilty to a charge of transmitting obscene material to a minor. he later then stood up in court and read a prepared statement. he actually wept as he apologized to that teenage girl. he said, i have a sickness, but i don't have an excuse. emotional moment for anthony wiener there. as far as how much time he could potentially serve, that charge could potentially get him between zero and ten years in prison. the prosecutors in the case asked for between 21 and 27 months as part of this agreement. ultimately, it'll be up to the judge. she is waiting for pre-sentencing reports from from
anthony weiner's attorney as well as prosecutors, and then down the line. she'll make a decision how much time he could certain, if any at all. >> whatever the time serve, he'll have to register as a sex offender? >> yeah. he will have to register as a sex offender. that, of course, won't go away. he was asked by the judge whether he understands that's a part of this agreement, and he said, yes, your honor, i do. anthony weiner will be registered as a sex offender. one of the reasons this is getting so much attention, in addition to all the salacious details, is it was part of this federal investigation, the feds seizing anthony weiner's computer, they found e-mails from huma abedin, and that was cited as the reason james comey re-opened up the probe into hillary clinton's e-mails. huma abedin, of course, is anthony weiner's estranged wife. she is hillary clinton's top aide. this has so many levels here. clearly getting a lot of attention.
just a crush of cameras as anthony weiner exited the courtroom. >> thank you so much for that. meantime, we're a couple hours away from president trump leaving on his first foreign trip since taking office. up next, the five things to watch for as the president travels to five countries. david. what's going on? oh hey! ♪ that's it? yeah. ♪ everybody two seconds! ♪ "dear sebastian, after careful consideration of your application, it is with great pleasure that we offer our congratulations on your acceptance..." through the tuition assistance program, every day mcdonald's helps more people go to college. it's part of our commitment to being america's best first job. ♪ p3 planters nuts, jerky and whaseeds.at? i like a variety in my protein. totally, that's why i have this uh trail mix. wow minty. p3 snacks. the more interesting way to get your protein.
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two of the biggest stories of the trump presidency. the firing of former fbi director james comey and the appointment of former fbi director mueller as counsel to lead the investigation. i want to go back to chris stuart stewart of utah, who was in the rosenstein briefing this morning. good to see you. since you have that role on the intelligence committee, i'm assuming that you had questions about the appointment of mueller, what it might mean for your own committee's investigation. tell us what you learned and where you think that leaves members of congress who have their own investigations going. >>ive i've been asked that a bunch of times now. whether we have the independent counsel doing it or fbi, we still have potential conflicts to work through. i'm glad we've made this decision. i'm one of the few republicans, over the last ten days, maybe two weeks, i've been talking with colleagues, especially on the intelligence committee, and asking the question, wouldn't we be better off if we had an
independent counsel? there's so much going on in the world. we still live in a dangerous and chaotic environment. i'm afraid in some cases, we haven't had the time to devote to some of those other concerns. there's this, and that is that the politics of this have become so partisan. i think many of us are relieved now, where we can put it to an independent counsel. mr. mueller has, i think, great confidence from both republicans and democr i think it's going to be good for us,o just let him take it now. we'll continue to work on a counterintelligence side, especially how we counter russia, but let some of the more political questions be answered by someone outside of politics. >> if you had to summarize, congressman, what you believe your job is as a member of the intelligence committee, in terms of this investigation, what would you say to a con stitch gen -- constituent? >> i was in moscow last august and was one of the first who said, russia is going to try to mess with our investigations. >> the election? >> right, u.s. elections.
so i think that's the primary question we can answer for the american people. that is, how successful were they? they were very successful. how do we counter that in the future? if they could do this now, they're going to do it again. once again, that should be our primary focus. >> the secondary part is about the firing of james comey. there's been a lot of focus about a time line. we had heard that rod rosenstein, at least originally from the president and from the white house, that it was his memo that he wrote that was the motivating factor for the firing. then the story changed. rod rosenstein saying, in fact, he wrote that memo knowing the decision had already beenclaritd how important is that in your mind? >> mr. rosenstein was vague on that. he deferred to mr. mueller again, saying he'd probably be looking at that. i don't think it is nefarious. i don't. there is this process where you talk to different people, ask for their inputs. in this case, perhaps a written
input. we don't know how the internal dialogues took place. >> is it important to know, given that here was somebody in charge of an investigation and the president fires him while that investigation is ongoing. is it important to know what went spot into the decision? >> those are fair questions. i think we'll understand that. if mr. mueller thinks it is important, and i suppose he will, he's going to ask those questions and report to the american people. i just don't think we know the timeline, the sequence particularly. again, my positn is right now, i don't think there is nefarious intent there. i really don't. >> congressman chris stewart, it's good of you to come out of the meeting to speak with us. >> good to be with you. the polls in iran are set to close at the top of the hour after millions voted in the first presidential election since the country reached a nuclear deal with the u.s. the current president seeking a second term now. if no candidate secures a majority, a final round will take place next week.
nbc is live in tehran. what can you tell us? >> chris, there's a lot of voter turnout here today. the main, burning issue for iranian voters, or two issues, the economy and ideology. the economy unites many iranians. it is stagnant. unemployment is high, especially amongst young iranians. the price of goods has gone up, affecting you whether you're rich or poor. well-to-do, middle class iran n iranians don't blame mr. roh ha kn -- ro uhani for this. they say donald trump double crossed them. he says he should be given another four years to deal with everything he's been intending to do. working class iranians see it from a different way. they say he hasn't delivered on
the nuclear deal. he's mismanaged the economy. he oversold it and never should have made a deal with america. now this is the price he has to pay for it, dealing with president trump. the other burning issue in this country is ideology. that divides arraigni iranians . we were in the polling stations north of tehran. the people who go there, who typically would vote for somebody like rouhani, secular, progressive iranians that want less restrictions on their private life. they want less interference sfrm the state. they don't want to go in the street and be stopped by the morality police. those are the people motivated to vote for rouhani. if they come out in large numbers in this election, if there is no apathy amongst them, it'll sway things in his favor. the other ideology in iran is a conservative one. they believe in revolutionary values. i haven't seen huge queues and
polling stations for him today. >> thank you so much, ali. of course, this election is coming as president trump is hours away from leaving on that big foreign trip. he'll visit five countries starting in saudi arabia tomorrow. israel and the vatican. the trip includes stops in belgium for nato meetings and final lly sicily for the g7. joining me, previously served as the office of iranian affairs under president george w bush and president obama. and the senior public fellow for international affairs at american university in beirut. michael is the senior foreign affairs correspondent at politico. do you feel you have a good sense of how this may turn out, and what is at stake for the united states here? >> how this turns out is going to entirely depend on voter turnout. four years ago, president rouhani had 76.2% voter turnout.
if the trends continue, it is going to require an achievement on the part of iran's hard liners that they've never accomplished before in the history of the islamic republican. they've never gotten that many votes. i think voter turnout and number of votes is going to be the most important thing to pay attention to. as it pertains to the united states, president rouhani has demonstrated his willingness to reach out to the world in an effort to solve problems through diplomacy. a second term will be some form of ctinuation of that. should the hard liner win, we can harken back to the former presidency. >> as we've been talking about all day, president trump takes off later for his first foreign trip starting in saudi arabia. the king will give the president a royal welcome despite what he said in the past. take a listen. >> i think islam hates us. there's something there that is
tremendous hatred there. there is a tremendous hatred. we have to get to the bottom of it. you will find out who knocked down the world trade center. they have papers that are secret. it may be the saudis. >> the president's speech on islam and terrorism, what are the stakes here, and do you think there is nervousness about what he'll say? >> there is nervousness in the middle east, the united states and other parts of the world, as well. trump has demonstrated a combination of ignorance and a kind of entertainment value that he showed on the campaign trail. an ability to exaggerate a lie in some cases. it is troubling to a lot of people. his attitude to islam and mus m muslims and immigrants has already been clear. at the same time, he is trying to get hundreds of billions of dollars of contracts from people in the middle east. he has these grandiose ideas of forging israeli and palestinian
peace. there is fantasy in what he is doing. but most of it is repeating policies that previous american administrations have tried and failed to do. in almost every case, he's trying to do the same thing that others, bush and obama and clinton have tried before, without any real success. so it might be a question of whether his personality is enough to bring people around. the last point i'd make here is that he's dealing with a small elite of arab leaders who are wildly disconnected from most of the population in the arab world. this is a troubling situation. the leaders want america to protect them. america wants them to spend money, billion in buying arms. there is a disconnect. other people in the arab world are not very happy with what the united states is doing in the region, while the arab leaders are trying to get close to trump. this creates all kinds of tensions. >> michael, rami laid out the complexity of stop one on this five-stop trip. all of it happening at a time
when, frankly, we have heard from the white house several weeks ago, he's going to ramp down his public schedule. he needs a lot of time to prepare for this trip. obviously, we know what's happened in terms of the chaotic nature of the last couple weeks for this white house. you wrote the five things to watch for on this foreign trip. what are you going to be looking at? >> well, look, i won't run through the whole list, though we can talk about a couple of the points. the point i want to make is it is a five-country trip but he is going to see a lot of world leaders. in saudi arabia, it's not just the king. there's going to be a gathering of muslim leaders from around the region. when he goes to europe at the g7 summit, the nato summit, he'll be seeing dozens of european leaders. to execute this trip perfectly, it is going to be like a triple windy with a blindfold. the opportunities he has to say something off message to change policy or commit america to something his staff and jim
mattis, defense secretary, and h.r. mcmaster, don't want him to commit to, or to offend somebody. there are cultural sensitivities. it is going to be be quite a feat. you talk about saudi and the speech he will give there. will it be the trump of the campaign or the respectful tone that hr mcmaster said we will be hearing. i expect it will be the latter. in israel, what will he talk about the peace process. does he bring netanyahu together. he did say he thinks nato is obs le -- obs obsolete. he is defending europe against russian aggression and saying he would honor arable five of the nato treaty saying they will
come to the aide to matter how much they're paying in the budget if they are the pick times of aggression. that is three of the five things that i would be looking for, a big test for him. >> if he even just, hearing michael bring up the cultural differences, there are places, there are jobs, within the state department, within the diplomatic core, that would normally be key to this, that the president gets a deep dive, a briefing, on who to expect. how she supposed to act in certain situations, concerned about cultural issues, that is before you get to the complexity of the policy and the issues. what are you looking for on this trip. what concerns you and what do you think can be accomplished hear? >> i agree 100%, is that a reinvigorated effort to isolate,
contain, and potentially start a new confrontation with iran. it is certain will what the saudis want. they are willing to fight down to the last american. i think we will see a reinvigorated effort on that part. as it pertains to trump more specifically, you're right to point out that the state department has been under utilized. so the hope thatecretary mattis, hr mcmaster, and those that have dealt with the community more generally will put together a dvd for the president to watch or sit him down for 30 minutes and say look, we need your undivided aattention attention to avoid the snafus that we spoke about. >> we reached the end of a tumultuous week for the trump administration. -when? -friday.
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structures. >> in a tweet you said there might be tape recordings -- >> they can't -- i won't talk about that. all i want is for comey to be honest. >> if it there are tapes, they have to be turned over. >> we begin with multiple reports saying president trump disclosed closely guarded information about isis to russia's foreign minister. >> the story that came out tonight is false. at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed. >> our story did not say he discussed sources and methods with his russian guests, he revealed information that came from highly sensitive sources and methods. >> i think it would be helpful to have less drama emanating from the white house. >> i stand by my statement i made yesterday.
what the president discussed was holy appropriate to that conservation. >> we had a very successful meeting with the russian foreign minister. we're going to have a lot of success in the coming moment. james comey memo. tls >> in the past few days, i learned that comey created these memos about every phone conversation and every meeting that he had with the esident. >> i think it is at a point of reaching a water gate size and scale. i call for the impeachment of t the president of the united states of america. >> no politician in america has been treated worse or more fairly. >> the justice department
appointed a special council to take over the russia investigation. >> all of us are -- we have known director mueller and we're very happy he is there. >> it could not be a better choice. >> i respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt. >> did you urge director comey to urge or back down the investigation on michael flynn? >> no, next question. >> we will see the president later on as he heads abroad. thank you for watching this hour. i'm chris jansing, right now, andrea mitchell reports. >> right now on andrea mitchell respo reports, decision time. the president picking a new fbi director. >> we need a great director of the fbi. i cherish them, it's special, no matter where you go, the fbi is
special. >> it's a mistake to nominate anyone that's ever run for office. we need a law enforcement professional that has never campaigned for a presidential candidate. >> he told comey to let of the flynn investigation. >> did you urge him in any way to close or back down the investigation into michael flynn. >> no. no. next question. >> and taking flight, with a load of baggage, all of those controversies on board, the president is about to take off for his first foreign trip, a five country journey that would challenge any head of state, especially one with no experience. >> i'm going to saudi arabia, israel, roame, the g7,