For the Record with Greta, Transcript 2/15/2017
Show: For the Record with Greta
Date: February 15, 2017
Guest: Amy Klobuchar, Adam Kinzinger, David Catanese, Eliana Johnson, John McCormack, Stephen Hadley, Joe Crowley, Joel Beneson, Daniel Shapiro, David Catanese
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: For the record tonight, brace
yourself. President Trump is hitting back. President Trump blaming the
fake media, illegal leaks that even the Clinton campaign for the Michael
Flynn controversy. We have the first reaction of Clinton`s top pollster
and strategist, Joel Benenson. Plus, General Flynn`s security clearance
suspended tonight and questions now swirling around him. Will Flynn
testify before congress? And what will he say about those new reports that
Trump campaign officials had links to Russian intelligence? Also a new
political casualty in the Trump cabinet, labor nominee Andy Puzder
withdrawing his name just hours before his confirmation hearing was to
begin. Did this old tape from the Oprah Winfrey Show way back in 1990 play
a role or was that just a smear?
President Trump addressing growing questions about his now former national
security adviser, and tonight, new reports of alleged ties between his
campaign and the Kremlin, the president today at a press conference with
the Israeli prime minister Netanyahu defending Michael Flynn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Michael Flynn,
General Flynn, is a wonderful man. I think he`s been treated very, very
unfairly by the media. As I call it, the fake media, in many cases. And I
think it`s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: The president also blasting the leaks to the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think in addition to that, from intelligence, papers are being
leaked, things are being leaked. It`s criminal action, criminal act. And
it`s been going on for a long time, before me. But now it`s really going
on and people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats
had under Hillary Clinton. I think it`s very, very unfair what`s happened
to General Flynn, the way he was treated, and the documents and papers that
were illegally, I stress that, illegally leaked, very, very unfair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: And President Trump is not one to sit back. Today, striking
back at The New York Times report alleging his campaign aides had repeated
contacts with Russian intelligence. NBC News has not independently
confirmed this story. And there is no evidence that the Trump campaign
colluded with Putin or Russia. Meanwhile, President Trump`s stepping up
the defense, tweeting, quote, this Russian connection nonsense is merely an
attempt to cover up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton`s losing
campaign. Later, reporters asked President Trump about this story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any comment on the report that there was
contact between your senior adviser and respected Russian operatives during
the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump?
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump, no comment on that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now it`s the Democrats` turn. Today, Democrats calling for
an independent investigation. Senator Amy Klobuchar is a Democrat from the
great state of Minnesota, and serves on the judiciary committee. Nice to
see you, senator.
AMY KLOBUCHAR, U.S. SENATOR: Good to see you, Greta. Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, the president says the media is being unfair to
General Flynn. How serious is this whole story about General Flynn and the
allegation of influence or connection with Russia?
KLOBUCHAR: I think it`s very serious when you have the president`s
national security adviser resigning 26 days into his job. When you have 17
intelligence agencies, you can`t call that fake news, 17 U.S. intelligence
agencies saying that Russia has tried to influence our election. That
really gets at the underpinnings of our democracies. This isn`t about as
Marco Rubio said this isn`t about one candidate or one political party
because next time it will be the other political party. And I think it is
really important that we get to what happened, who he talked to, what he
said? We still don`t know what he said to the Russian ambassador but it
appears there were efforts to undercut the sanctions that were so important
in response to Russian aggression and the cyberattack.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You know, he says the media is unfair. I guess
I would, you know, be more open to that if it weren`t for the fact that
Sean Spicer, press secretary, said the reason that Flynn is out is not
because the media is unfair but because there`s a trust factor within the
White House with him. So, you know, there`s an obvious conflict in those
two versions. But, all right, you want an investigation. How do we get a
fair investigation? Because Flynn`s entitled to a fair investigation, the
congress, the American people, and the president is. And so, what are you
KLOBUCHAR: It goes on a few tracks. First of all, the intelligence
committee in the senate is very devoted to a fair investigation. And
they`re going to have that ability to get classified information. I do
hope they declassified some of it so your viewers can see what happened,
but also there`s going to be judiciary committee hearings. I serve on that
committee. Lindsey Graham is committed to that. And then finally, I am a
supporter, I was the early sponsor of the bill for the independent
commission with Senator Cardin and others, only because that`s a different
type. That would be a 9/11-type commission that could look at outside
experts looking at what happened and making recommendations of what we can
do to prevent it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do we really need all those investigations? Why can`t we
get one good solid one and try to strip away the politics from it, so the
American people are confident, fair to everyone involved. When you have
all those committee hearings, you know, people were worried about
Obamacare, taxes, and there`re a lot of other things and people – and
congress doesn`t seem, with all due respect, be able to multitask too well.
KLOBUCHAR: Very good question. I think the major investigation is the
intelligence committee. Judiciary will be focused on judiciary piece of
this. And the independent commission would not involve members. That
would be experts.
VAN SUSTEREN: So why don`t we just do an independent commission? Why
don`t we just do an intelligence committee?
KLOBUCHAR: Because different people can get at different things. The
intelligence committee is going to be getting at classified information and
they`ll be able to put out a report. We hope they can put as much public
as possible. But I think there is a reason. This is a major, major
problem. This isn`t just, again, about our election. When Senator McCain,
and Graham and I were in Ukraine and the Baltics, we heard that Russia been
doing this, what, 6,500 attempt in Ukraine. They shut off Estonia`s
computer system just because they had the audacity to move a bronze statue
of a soldier to a cemetery. These things have been happening every day.
They`ve seen this movie before. And we have an obligation to get to the
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You talked about your trip with Senator McCain,
Senator Graham. I`m probably one of the few in the media who think that
codells are the best thing that members on congress – members of both
sides of the aisle spending time, going out to do – so like your old days
as a lawyer.
KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. As you probably heard, the trip with McCain is not
exactly a luxury cruise. We literally visited a country a day and spent
New Year`s Eve on the front line in a snowstorm with President Poroshenko,
in which he had us stand with him and the mothers of soldiers that have
VAN SUSTEREN: I actually – more codells if there`s less chance of being -
-there`ll be less politics and all this other stuff. But, anyway, that`s
just me. Anyway, thanks so much.
KLOBUCHAR: It was great to be on, Greta, thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you. Adam Kinzinger is a Republican congressman from
the great state of Illinois. He serves in the house foreign affairs
committee and is co-sponsoring new legislation requiring congressional
approval before lifting Russian sanctions. Nice to see you, congressman.
ADAM KINZINGER, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Hey, great seeing you. How are you?
VAN SUSTEREN: I`m good. OK. Let`s say the house passes the bill that
you`re co-sponsoring. The senate I think has already done one like that.
Why in the world would the president ever sign it because it`s cutting his
authority? He`s not going to go for that one.
KINZINGER: well, and, you know, that`s obviously part of how politics
works if he`ll sign it or not. I think it`s important as much as anything,
though, to say that we`re basically reaffirming that congress has a role in
deciding this. And this is a safety level. We – we`re not the chief
executive of the United States, so there`s a lot of foreign policy decision
he can make. But just like we did with Iran sanctions and related to that,
congress has a role to play here. I think it`s important to put out, and
this is the companion piece to what has been done in the senate.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. What are the odds he`s going to sign it, do you
think? If it – what.
KINZINGER: Well, probably pretty low. If it comes to his desk, I don`t
know. But at the end of the day, we may have enough people to override
that if that`s the case. But, again, even if it`s – even if it doesn`t
get through this house, and through the senate, and to the president`s
desk, I think it`s important to send the message, though, that, look,
congress is committed to working with the president to say, OK, you know,
if this is part of a broader negotiation, that`s one thing, but you`re not
going to unilaterally lift these sanctions.
VAN SUSTEREN: I know with your military background that you`re really
interested in this story involving Russia and other parts of the world
where we have conflict, of course. What are your thoughts about an
investigation into Russia, any contacts with the Trump campaign or anybody,
or any former staffer for the Trump – with Trump?
KINZINGER: So, I agree with your previous guest in saying, you know, the
senate intel committee, they`ve said they`re going to take this up. That
is where you do investigations like this. I think to call for a 9/11-type
commission is overkill on this. So I think we need to get to the bottom of
this. These are answers we deserve. But ultimately, specifically on the
Flynn thing, I think the cover-up in this case is far worse than the crime
depending on what was discussed. And in fact, later, you know, find out he
talked to the FBI, we want to know if he told the truth to the FBI or not.
If he lied, in fact, that`s what can lead to a lot of trouble. So I think
the senate intel committee is perfectly capable of getting to the bottom of
this, answers that we need, and I think we`ll get them.
VAN SUSTEREN: I`ve been pointing out every night that Jeremy Bash who
worked for CIA director Panetta, secretary of defense, Panetta, and who I
sort of look to for guidance on this. He said that he had no – he would
expect or have no problem – maybe those are my words, with Flynn talking
to the Russian ambassador in the transition period. So, you know, so that
– the content of it, whether it`s about sanctions or not, it`s really what
happened later and the misleading of the vice president.
KINZINGER: Yeah, that`s exactly right. So, again, you know, technically
can you say it`s a violation of this Logan Act which has never been
enforced, possibly? But, you do have an incoming administration that is
talking to a very powerful country, Russia, talking about how this
relationship is going to go forward. I think had sanctions been brought
up, we found out they were, had General Flynn simply said, yeah, even the
ambassador brought it up to me, I mentioned it to him, that`s one thing. I
think it`s very improper, though, because this was right during when the
prior administration was discussing what to do about him. So depending on
exactly what was discussed, could be very highly improper. But the sin came
afterwards it seems like in the cover-up.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you.
KINZINGER: Any time, thanks.
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining me now, David Catanese, senior politics writing for
U.S. News and World Report, Eliana Johnson, national political reporter for
POLITICO, and John McCormack, senior writer at the Weekly Standard. David,
is this whole Flynn controversy, I`m going to name it that, it`s obviously
broader than that, is this something that we`re going to spent several days
or we`re just going to dog the whole Obama – I mean, the whole Trump
DAVID CATANESE, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Well, given the first 25 days,
there will probably be a new controversy that pops up by Friday. I mean,
look, but I do think we still don`t know exactly why Flynn was released or
asked to resign. I mean, there are still sort of discrepancies on the
reporting on that. But I think the bigger question and President Trump
hasn`t answered this yet, if there was an erosion of trust and it was true
that he knew that Michael Flynn lied to the vice president weeks ago, why
did he not ask for his resignation weeks ago? President Trump still hasn`t
answered that. I think that is a question he`s going to have to answer
VAN SUSTEREN: What are your questions about this?
ELIANA JOHNSON, POLITICO: You know, I think what you`re hearing Democrats
and some Republicans start to tiptoe around very carefully is asking was
there some sort of a quid pro quo here? The New York Times reported
yesterday that it wasn`t just Michael Flynn, but it was also several Donald
Trump campaign aides, including Paul Manafort who had extensive
conversations with Russian intelligence during the campaign. So then the
question becomes naturally, was there a quid pro quo between the Trump
campaign and the Russians to have Russian help with a Trump victory in
exchange for the lifting of sanctions? People aren`t saying that outright
right now, but I think that`s a natural question. And there`ve been
comparisons to Watergate. If the conversations come to light, we know the
content of the conversation between Trump campaign aides and the Russians
that get anywhere near that, this controversy will, I think, blow Watergate
out of the water.
VAN SUSTEREN: John, the thing that – because we have so little
information that there`s a high risk, our imaginations are running wild.
Because everyone says it`s like pulling teeth. Then when you have, you
know, Spicer saying that the reason why Flynn was let go was because there
was a trust factor, because he lied, misstated or whatever you want to call
it, to the vice president. And then, now, you have the president coming
out saying the reason why he`s out of there is because of the bad media.
JOHN MCCORMACK, THE WEEKLY STANDRAD: Well, yeah, I mean, the president`s
criticism this is all the fake media`s fault doesn`t make much sense. I
mean, he is the one who ultimately asked for Flynn`s resignation. If there
was nothing there, why did he ask him to resign? Like you said there are a
lot of unanswered questions here. I mean, this White House, this
administration, this president, aren`t exactly known to be fastidious about
the truth. So I don`t see exactly why either misleading intentionally or
not statement. I guess if it was unintentional, I don`t see why they
couldn`t have apologized to Vice President Pence. So I don`t know whether
it`s pressure from Pence.
VAN SUSTEREN: The mystery in this is that in the interim period between
the time that the statement – Pence went on TV, and the time it was
released, you had the department of justice saying we got these intercepts.
And, I mean, who knows what`s in those intercepts. They heard the
conversation between Flynn and the Russian ambassador.
MCCORMACK: Well, that is a serious issue. I mean, this is an
investigation whether it was incidentally picked up or whether – we don`t
know exactly who`s being targeted here, why they were targeted. But the
idea that an American citizen and official could have their, you know,
their conversations leaked without a full investigation, a full trial, that
is really troubling.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, David, he should have – I mean, he should have
known his conversation was being listened to. I mean, I`m not the – I`m
not in the National Security Council, but I sure could have figured that
one out. He should have known that his conversations.
CATANESE: The other thing is, there`s still a lot of government agencies
that are filled with Obama appointees that want payback on Trump. And
they`re leaking – I mean, the leaking that is going on in bureaucracy you
might expect because he doesn`t have all his allies in place, but there`s
leaks coming out of the White House every day which shows me that they`re
not on the same page. They`re out to undercut each other. And if you`re
President Donald Trump you got to start wondering, who can I trust that`s
in my inner circle? And who is doing the leaking? I`m sure he has got to
be worried about that.
JOHNSON: I think the thing is, Trump intentionally set up his White House
with three different power centers that don`t necessarily work cohesively.
There is the Steve Bannon, there`s Jared Kushner, and there`s Reince
Priebus, and Michael Flynn was, you know, an ally of Steve Bannon. But he
set up a White House where people, where it was obvious that people were
going to leak against each other and targeted each other in this way.
CATANESE: Some the stuff could not be leaked if you weren`t a top adviser.
They`re reciting calls with foreign leaders in the Oval Office. That`s a
five or six people that would know that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Just compare and contrast it to the fact that we couldn`t
figure out who the nominee for the Supreme Court was. That was such a
great kept secret until that night. Go figure, they can keep that one
quiet. We`re going to take a quick break. Still ahead, reaction from the
Clinton campaign to President Trump`s new attacks today. What does she
have to do with the Michael Flynn controversy? And President Trump`s pick
for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, abruptly withdraws today. Did it have
anything to do with the decades-old Oprah tape? And a press conference
controversy, is President Trump freezing out some members of the media?
VAN SUSTEREN: New reports of contacts between the Trump campaign and the
Kremlin are putting a giant spotlight on what Russia has said about this
issue. And two days after the election, a senior Russian diplomat said,
quote, there were contacts with the Trump team. But then the next day, a
Trump spokesperson said they were, quote, not aware of those connections.
And since then, Trump officials including the vice president have said no
contact took place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Did anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any
contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election?
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have
any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Of course not.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Can you still say definitively that nobody on the
Trump campaign, not even General Flynn, had any contact with the Russians
before the election?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There`s nothing that would
conclude me that anything different has changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Stephen Hadley served as national security adviser to
President George W. Bush. Nice to see you.
STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Nice to
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. First the basics, I tipped you off, I was going to ask
you this, what does National Security Council do?
HADLEY: National Security Council established in the national security act
of 1947, only has 4 members, president, vice president, secretary of state,
secretary of defense. It advises the president. It is not a decision-
making body. And it tries to coordinate policy across diplomacy, economic
and defense. That`s what it does.
VAN SUSTEREN: What was the job that General Flynn had?
HADLEY: He had the national security adviser which is a staff position,
and it really does two things. It runs the National Security Council
process, and all the subcommittees under the National Security Council that
are established. It supervises the NSC staff, those 100 or 200 and so
people who staff the president for his role in foreign policy. And then
the national security adviser serves as an adviser to the president of the
United States on national security and foreign policy.
VAN SUSTEREN: Hypothetically, I`m trying to get the fact, I always have to
say this because the facts seem to fluid these days, but let`s assume that
General Flynn did speak to the Russian ambassador in that December phone
call about the sanctions, any problem with that?
HADLEY: You know, I don`t have a problem with that. I think it would be
strange – Flynn did not apparently have advanced notice of the sanctions,
read about them in the newspaper, talked to the Russian ambassador. I think
it would be – I don`t see what would be wrong if he simply said, look,
don`t retaliate, doesn`t make sense, it hurts my country, it makes it
harder for us as an incoming administration to reconsider Russia policy,
which is something we said to do. So just hold your fire and let us have a
shot at this. I think if Flynn had come out, embraced that, explained that
that was what he did and when he had done, I think there would be 24, 48-
hour story and I think would have died away.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of the investigation because Democrats are
calling for an investigation, some Republicans are. It`s actually broaden
down a little bit beyond Flynn pre-campaign connections and possible
connections with the Trump campaign and Russia and the kremlin, as well.
As the Russians have an influence on hacking the Democratic Party.
HADLEY: I think we`re way ahead of ourselves. There`s an ongoing FBI
investigation. Its scope has been broadened. Let`s see where that leads.
I think it`s appropriate for, say, the two intelligence communities –
committees, senate and house, to do their inquiries, investigation. But
let`s not have every committee in the house and the senate get into it.
Let`s focus it in one or two committees, one house, one senate, and then
let`s see where the FBI investigation goes under the oversight of those two
committees. And let`s see where we are before we start talking about, you
know, major 9/11-type investigations.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, big picture. What`s the difference between the
way the Bush 43 White House worked with Russia or considered Russia, Obama,
and now Trump? How do you see these three different administrations
HADLEY: You know, I think Russia policy has been the same across
administrations. We want to find areas where we can cooperate with Russia.
And in some instances, it is in our common interest to work together on
issues where we can, we should. In those areas where we disagree with
Russia, we ought to stand by our principles, defend our interests, but try
to manage them in such a way it doesn`t throw the relationship in crisis.
If you think about it, that`s really been the Russia policy across a number
VAN SUSTEREN: When you see President Trump say things about Putin that are
actually sort of – like the interview with bill O`Reilly on Super Bowl
Day, what do you think?
HADLEY: Look, you know, President Trump seems to be a very personal
person. He likes to create strong personal relationships with people with
which he`s dealing. You know, he did that, he probably got a little
carried away. My president, president I served, President Bush also got a
little carried away in some of his public comments about Putin. Those
VAN SUSTEREN: You miss the job?
VAN SUSTEREN: Not at all?
HADLEY: Not for a minute.
VAN SUSTEREN: I`ve heard earlier today you were asked on the air whether
you would take the job. You said no.
HADLEY: Look, I`m not – I`ve been there, done that.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. But you will come back here?
HADLEY: Absolutely, any time.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Thank you. Nice to see you.
HADLEY: Nice to see you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ahead, reaction from the Clinton campaign over the reported
contacts between the Trump team and Russia. I`ll talk to a former Clinton
strategist, Joel Beneson. And later, President Trump`s plan for peace in
the Mideast, is this the art of the deal or a dead end?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: From
intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked, its
criminal action, criminal act. And it`s been going on for a long time,
before me. But now it`s really going on. And people are trying to cover
up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now that was President Trump today bringing the 2016 race
back into the debate surrounding the Michael Flynn controversy. Now, it
all started with that New York Times report that Trump campaign aides had
repeated contacts with Russian intelligence before the election. The
president quickly responded to The New York Times, he took to twitter and
tweeted, this Russian connection nonsense is merely an attempt to cover up
the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton`s losing campaign. Now, this new
reporting and the president`s response prompting a renewed look at his
comments on Russia and WikiLeaks during the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`ve always felt, you know, fine about Putin. I think that he is a
strong leader. He`s a powerful leader. Russia, if you`re listening, I
hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. All you have
to do is take a look at WikiLeaks. This just came out. This just came
out. WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks. Amazing how nothing`s secret today
when you talk about the internet. Oh, we love WikiLeaks. Boy, they have
really – WikiLeaks. They have revealed a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: New York congressman, Joe Crowley is chair of the house
Democratic caucus. He was a strong Clinton supporter in the race, of
course. And Joel Beneson was the chief strategist for the Clinton
campaign, and now is an MSNBC contributor. Welcome, gentlemen. And first
to you, congressman, your thoughts about the president now blaming the
Russia news on Secretary Clinton losing.
JOE CROWLEY, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I think it`s maybe just a bit more
ridiculous than not about the content of the phone call between Mr. Flynn
and his Russian counterpart, or the content of that. He`s now blaming the
leaking of it. To me, you know, Mr. Flynn didn`t lose his job because he
lied. He lost his job because he wasn`t a good enough liar up to the
standard of this administration. And to now – you know, the president
seems to find excuse after excuse as to why he`s cozied up to Russia. Only
he really knows the real answer because we can`t see his taxes. We don`t
know what it is they have on him. But we`re going to get to the bottom of
this at some point.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, there`s a lot of difference of opinion about
whether or not it was OK to discuss sanctions between Flynn – General
Flynn and Russia with the ambassador. So I`ll leave that aside. I think
the – at least it seems to me the bigger issue is whether he misled or
even lied to the vice president. I think that is probably what got him
into so much hot water.
CROWLEY: I think that is clear.
VAN SUSTEREN: Joel, let me go to you. Was the FBI evenhanded with how
they have handled the investigation on the Democratic side during the
course of the e-mails, and also this investigation in the lead-up to the
election on Trump, and any possible contacts with Russia?
JOEL BENENSON, CHIEF STRATEGIST 2016 CAMPAIGN: Well, look, I think we
talked a lot about what happened with the FBI during the course of the
campaign and I think that was addressed at the time and since then. I
think what we`re talking about now is something very different. I think
Congressman Crowley is right about the substance of what`s transpiring
here. But I think every American should be concerned and want to get to
the bottom of what happened during this campaign. If there was continual
communication between members of the Trump campaign, advisers to then-
candidate Donald Trump, with Russian intelligence officials, and they at a
time when they were meddling in our election, which our intelligence
agencies believe they were to benefit now-President Trump, then every
American should want us to get to bottom of this including the president of
the United States. If he doesn`t think it`s a problem to our democracy
that Russia, which is not always an American ally, it is a geopolitical
power, meddled in our democracy. That is a serious flaw in the president.
That is not a problem of what Mr. Flynn said or not. That is a problem
that everybody in congress, everybody in America, ought to care about.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, I think most Americans would like to get to the
bottom of this, but I think what many Americans feel or suspect and I think
quite rightfully so is that it`s really hard to do these investigations
without layers and layers of politics and all sorts of agendas and motives.
It`s really sort of hard to get to the bottom of it. And then you sort of
fold into the fact that a lot of this will probably be done behind closed
doors, you know things they say is classified that probably really doesn`t
need to be classified.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you do that investigation, do it swiftly, completely
CROWLEY: Well, I think it`s a really hard call for Republicans in the
house to even lift a finger against the president right now. I think it
really calls for an outside investigation, maybe similar to what we did
after 9/11. I think as Joel has said, it`s more than just a conversation
between Mr. Flynn and his Russian counterpart. There has been contact that
predated the election, almost predated even the campaign. And we know
throughout that. Why is it that this president has rejected the men and
women who work in our intelligence service, who gather information to help
him make strategic decisions about the United States and taking the word or
sided with a dictator like Putin? We know the Russians are not our enemy.
The Russian people in a good relation with the United States and vice
versa, we know that Putin is not our friend. And yet this president cozies
up to him like they`re chums. There has to be an answer to this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Joel, let me give a question to you, how would you like to
see this investigated? Do you want to have an outside commission? Do you
want it done on Capitol Hill? The Republicans probably are not wild about
that, they owned the house and the senate right now.
BENENSON: Well I think some people talk about should there be a select
committee and should be done on Capitol Hill? I think there is got to be -
there seems to be bipartisan agreement growing in congress including among
some Republicans that something is rotten in Denmark and we ought to get to
the bottom of it. I think it`s got to be independent. I think it can be
congress. I think that we have to have faith in our political
institutions, I think it`s bipartisan, some kind of select committee, I
think congressman Crowley`s right, you are right, a lot will be done behind
closed doors, and it should be. There`s confidential information, there is
classified information to be discussed. As long as it`s independent and
gets going quickly, I think that would satisfy the American people. I
think they want to know there`s action being taken. That we`re not going
to let Russia meddle in our democracy and we`re going to get to the bottom
of what`s happened throughout the campaign and since then.
CROWLEY: Greta, it goes back to the baker call. What did the president
know? And when did he know it? There`s a lot of confusion right now, when
he was notified of this, when the vice president was notified. Even the
president has conflicting remarks about that as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you want Congressman Crowley they also investigate
this whole hacking thing? I mean, into the DNC. I mean, I don`t know if
that is ever been - I mean that seems to be a lot of unanswered questions
there as to exactly what the Russians did or did not do.
CROWLEY: True. I think there`s a lot of – a lot we should be looking at
in terms of the Russians. The hacking is certainly an issue. It goes to
the core of our democracy. An outside influence like Russia influencing
the outcome of the election or even just attempting, whether he did or
didn`t, the attempt in and of itself. What is the connection between the
president and the Putin administration and regime? And look, I`ll even
look at the leaking of information. That is a legitimate issue but it`s
not something that is going to cover up what has happened so for. Michael
Flynn wasn`t fired because of the leak. He was fired because he didn`t lie
well enough for this administration.
[18:35:27] VAN SUSTEREN: Well I think – I don`t know, I think there`s
probably – I don`t think he`d agree with you on that one. I don`t know
why, but anyway. Thank you, gentlemen, both.
CROWLEY: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Next, President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister talking
about the art of the deal. What does it mean for Mideast peace? We`ll go
live to Israel. And press conference controversy. Why is President Trump
only calling on conservative media outlets? The panel will discuss.
VAN SUSTEREN: What a big day at the White House. President Trump
welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Trump making his most
extensive remarks about the Mideast peace process since taking office. It
included this remarkable exchange about the building of west bank
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: As far as settlements, I`d
like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit, so let`s see
what we do.
DONALD TRUMP, THE 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Doesn`t sound too
optimistic, I sense a good negotiator.
NETANYAHU: That is the art of the deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump also saying he will not insist on a
Palestinian state as part of a peace deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[18:40:4] TRUMP: I`m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one
that both parties like. I`m very happy with the one that both parties
like. I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate that
they`re taught from a very young age. They`re taught tremendous hate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Daniel Shapiro was the United States ambassador to Israel
under President Obama and he joins us from Tel Aviv, nice to see you, sir.
DANIEL SHAPIRO, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Hi, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Can you give me a sense of whether or not as resonated in
Israel yet the two sort of headlines about Prime Minister Netanyahu at the
White House today, first is that President Trump says that he wants the
Israelis to hold back on the settlements and the second the discussion
about two-state versus one-state.
SHAPIRO: There`s some effort to try to understand it. They seem a little
contradictory at first, but the truth is I don`t think that they really
are. Since the inauguration, the president has four times come out and
made very clear that he does believe that pursuing Middle East peace is
important and that he believes that further expansion of west bank
settlements makes that harder and he is now called directly on the Prime
Minister to try to put limits on that. That doesn`t mean he`ll oppose
everything but it does means that he cares about this issue and it means
that he is going to try to restrain settlement construction which is
consistent with longstanding U.S. policy.
Now, the question about two states or one states, that would be a change
for the United States to no longer back a two-state solution but I don`t
really buy it. I think this was done this way to help Prime Minister
Netanyahu deal with some of the pressures from the right-wing members of
his cabinet who are calling on him to abandon the two-state solution which
he is endorsed for eight years now. I think once the president`s envoys,
Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Tillerson come to the region, speak to
Israelis, Palestinians and Arab leaders, everyone`s going to understand
that the only outcome that can actually end this conflict and produce the
middle east peace the president wants is, in fact, a two-state solution.
VAN SUSTEREN: How important is it to Israelis if you can quantify it that
if the U.S. Embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, is that a big
SHAPIRO: It`s something almost every Israeli I ever talked to while I was
ambassador asked me about, why isn`t the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem where
they have their capital and their government? And all previous
administrations that have looked at it had felt that the time wasn`t right
that it could be disruptive to Middle East peace talks and that it could
even provoke violence. Prime Minister – President Trump said he wanted to
do it, but he is also put that on the back burner as well. I still think
it`s possible that they`ll do it. I think it would be welcomed in Israel.
I`ve written that it can be done, but has to be done in a smart way that
doesn`t – isn`t perceived at provocative or closing off options for a two-
state solutions in which both sides have claimed in Jerusalem.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any sense of how the Israelis perceive President
Trump, whether their lives are going to change any way by having an
American president be President Trump as opposed to anyone else?
SHAPIRO: Well, there are those who like some of what they heard him say in
the campaign and celebrated his victory. There are many others who, like
me, wonder about the unpredictability and, of this administration and this
president and the chaos that has actually engulfed the White House even in
recent days. You know, the Prime Minister`s advisers met several times
with General Flynn to help prepare this meeting and then right before the
meeting happened, General Flynn resigned in a terrible chaotic scandal
which is still so much for me. So it meant that this meeting was affected
in terms of being able to prepare the president and actually carry out the
things they had prepared together with General Flynn.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, ambassador, for joining us, sir.
SHAPIRO: Great to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump`s pick for labor secretary, well, he is out.
This news breaking as a decades-old tape from “the Oprah Winfrey show”
emerges featuring his ex-wife. Did that tape impact his decision?
And who can forget the insults? It got very personal on the campaign trail
between candidate Senator Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, and tonight a
dinner date at the White House.
[18:47:20] VAN SUSTEREN: We have breaking news in the Michael Flynn saga.
The Republican head of the judiciary committee Senator Chuck Grassley,
along with the ranking Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, demanding
answers. They just sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI
Director James Comey requesting a briefing from the DOJ on information
related to General Flynn`s resignation, back with me, David Catanese,
Eliana Johnson, and John McCormack. Eliana, now that we got the judiciary
committee ranking and chairman, bipartisan request for that. 4
ELIANA JOHNSON, POLITICO NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I think it
shows that there are many Republicans, Chuck Grassley stepping up, who are
willing to hold the administration accountable when they see something
going astray. And I think Steve Hadley was exactly right in the previous
segment that there`s a lot we don`t know about this and it`s dangerous to
jump to conclusions so I think this seems like a good start.
VAN SUSTEREN: And, of course, John, this is not going to make the Trump
administration very happy.
JOHN MCCORMACK, THE WEEKLY STANDARD SENIOR WRITER: I don`t think so. This
is the Republicans giving into what President Trump is calling fake news
and illegal leaks from the executive branch.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now to news about President Trump`s cabinet, his labor
secretary nominee is out. He quits. Fast food CEO Andrew Puzder withdrew
his name from consideration one day before his confirmation hearing was to
begin. It came as politico obtained part of a 1990 interview on “The Oprah
Winfrey show” where Puzder`s ex-wife alleges abuse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most frightening thing was leaving because once I
made that break, and once I made it public and remember my ex-husband was a
public figure, everyone knew him and knew what he was doing. Once I made
that public, he vowed revenge. He said, I will see you in the gutter, this
will never be over. You will pay for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, those allegations are 30 years old, and Puzder`s ex-
wife fully recanted all of them and she did it years ago and it was only
eight months after that Oprah appearance that she recanted and her original
allegations were made during a heated divorce. Puzder has always denied
all allegations of domestic abuse. Let me go back to panel. David, if
this had any bearing on Puzder`s decision to withdraw, he had other issues
he was getting a lot of heat from that were related to his thoughts on, for
instance, minimum wage.
DAVID CATANESE, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: I think Oprah took him down.
I think it`s different when you see it on tape. And even though she has
renounced it, this was circulating heavily today. I also think that there
was wariness among Republicans, there is a reporting out there at least
four Republican senators were wary and were not committed to him and if you
lose four, you can get him through and you never wants to bring them to the
floor if you don`t have the votes. That is a bigger embarrassment.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think when I saw the statements that were issued, all the
statements, though, I didn`t see them all. The statements I did see from
many senators were about the fact with minimum wage or he hadn`t paid his
[18:50:11] CATANESE: That I don`t think – that was a bigger problem with
the Democrats, right, I mean, Democrats had a problem on the minimum wage,
and they were hammering him on that stuff. When you start to lose
Republicans, now, I don`t know if these Republicans would have actually
broken with Trump if they brought him to the floor. There had to be
considerable unrest about that for him to step down. I don`t think it`s
clear, though, if he gave his resignation or if Trump asked for it yet.
Just like in the Flynn situation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Right now President Trump and the first lady are having
dinner at the White House with their dinner guests, Senator Marco Rubio and
his wife. You have to wonder if they will reminisce about that bruising
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Don`t worry about it, little Marco. I will.
MARCO RUBIO, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Person with the worst
spray tan in America said he wanted to sue me. He is going to sue me. He
should sue whoever did that to his face.
TRUMP: I watched this lightweight, Rubio, total lightweight, and little
mouth on him, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing.
RUBIO: Have you seen his hands? You know what they say about men with
TRUMP: Don`t worry about it, little Marco. In all fairness, Marco is not
a negotiator. I watched him melt down and I will tell you it was one of
the saddest things I`ve ever seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Wow.
MCCORMACK: Good old days.
VAN SUSTEREN: The gold old days, right, Eliana, I don`t know how we
JOHNSON: Oh, man, they should come out and do an act together. That was
pretty funny, actually. You know, remarkably, people talk about Trump`s
thin-skinniness. I`m sure he is actually thin skinned. He actually has
shown a remarkable capacity to put those things behind him. He seemed to
have a great dinner with Mitt Romney. He didn`t hire him, though, by all
Actually thought seriously about hiring him, he brought Nikki Haley on,
also a serious critic of his candidacy. And I think when the mood strikes
him and he thinks somebody`s a good fit for somebody or wants to mend
fences, I think Trump knows a lot of the jousting is a show.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, John, I`m thinking, the two men can get over this
at the White House tonight as they`re having dinner and, of course,
yesterday he had lunch with Governor Christie and his wife. He is on a
charm offensive. I`m not so sure the wives are too amused by this. They
have to sit there tonight, after each other`s husband has been rather rude.
MCCORMACK: They can probably commiserate over the embarrassing things
about what their husbands said. I think that can be a point of bonding.
You know, Marco Rubio when he decided to run for re-election for senate, he
said he was doing it because he was going to be a check on either President
Trump or President Clinton. So far, he seems more interested in sort of
getting along with President Trump. He expressed reservations about
confirming Secretary of State Tillerson, ultimately voted for him. I think
we should wait and see where exactly Rubio is going to stand up to Trump.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Final topic, the president and the press today
for the third time in a row at a press conference, President Trump called
on only reporters from conservative news organizations. In his official
settings, he is avoiding the other networks and the wire services, but
consider this, we`ve also seen President Trump make surprise appearances to
the press like on Air Force One last Friday. You don`t see many other
presidents doing that. Even in the hallways of the White House. Monday,
he spoke to our Kelly O`Donnell. David, he is getting criticized at his
VAN SUSTEREN: But he certainly gives access to reporters sort of on, you
catch him on the sly.
CATANESE: I actually think it`s a good idea they`re trying to broaden the
people who get the first questions at these White House press conferences.
VAN SUSTEREN: There are like two questions.
CATANESE: I actually think that is a good idea. If they`re doing this
next week, the following week, and they`re only – they`re favoring the
conservative outlets over everyone else. That is a problem, too. I think
generally if they broaden it out and open it up, I think that is good for
media and really for everybody.
VAN SUSTEREN: I Remember, John, the former executive editor, manager at
“the New York times,” Joel Abramson, said the Obama administration was the
at least transparent she ever covered. I`m careful in being critical of
Trump for not giving access. The fact Kelly O`Donnell got the statement
from him on the night of the ruling of the ninth circuit was extraordinary.
MCCORMACK: Yes, I mean the Obama - White House definitely did sort of eyes
out conservative publications, when I work for the “Weekly Standard,” they
weren`t exactly friendly or responsive to us. I do wish that both sides
were open and transparent, no matter publications, ideological leanings.
And I do hope the conservatives who get questions they don`t embarrass
themselves with sycophantic questions, the kind of questions that the
conservatives criticized liberal or mainstream reporters harassing the
Obama. They should ask hard-hitting questions whether from a conservative
perspective or just the news of the day.
VAN SUSTEREN: And, of course, Eliana, the president sometimes bypasses us
all together, just goes to the people on twitter.
JOHNSON: He is unpredictable. So yes, he does sometimes go to twitter,
and sometimes he talks to reporters. In general, this anti-establishment
aspect of broadening the pool of reporters, taking Skype questions, I think
is great and I think the complaint, the complaints from some reporters that
he is doing it are a little bit ridiculous.
[18:55:02] VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, panel.
And I have something to say “For the record” about civility in Washington.
That is next.
VAN SUSTEREN: “For the record” how about we stop the stupid stuff, the
name calling and personal insults. It`s so juvenile. Not to mention
counterproductive. Both sides, they`re guilty. I can give you unlimited
examples. We had to deal with this last summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock her up. That is right. Yes, that is right. Lock
I`m going to tell you what –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, I know, many conservatives loved it. I thought it
childish. The whole world was watching. They saw this. What we want them
to see is a smart, robust debate, not a schoolyard hair pulling. Now the
Clinton campaign, they did some snide stuff, too. Remember this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You could put half of Trump`s
supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, I hope this behavior was just a passing fancy and after
the election everyone would grow up, strong debate inspiring people, old-
fashioned decency. I was dead wrong. The name calling continued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a stunning thing that a white supremacist,
Bannon, would be a permanent member of the National Security Council.
BERNIE SANDERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a president who is
delusional in many respects, a pathological liar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, some took to the keyboard like President Trump who
since taking office has sent out tweets describing a federal judge a so-
called judge and calling Senator John McCain a loser.
But how can we expect a world to take us seriously, look up to us, or even
our own citizens, our kids. When this is how the people at the top act,
sometimes I just want to yell stop. Thank for watching. I will see back
tomorrow night 6:00 p.m.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY