For the Record with Greta, Transcript 2/20/2017
Show: FOR THE RECORD
Date: February 20, 2017
Guest: Kristen Welker, Robert Scales, Malcolm Nance, Ed Rendell, Ken Vogel, Eric Swalwell, Sabrina Siddiqui, Jonathan Swan, Heidi Przybyla
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: Thanks, Kathy. And for the record
tonight, President Trump gets his man, announcing his new national security
advisor Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. What does the announcement says
about the president thinking and what it means for U.S. policy, and what it
means for you. Also tonight, the Kremlin is busy. They are busy compiling
for President Putin a psychological profile of President Trump. Why does
Putin want that? Wait until you hear these details. Plus, look at these
pictures on this President`s Day, protest, a dozen cities, we`re going to
get you live reports from coast to coast.
We start with the breaking news and what a busy day it was. Just one week
after General Flynn got the Trump boot, President Trump naming Lieutenant
General H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We`ve been working
all weekend. Very diligently and very hard that General H.R. McMaster will
become the national security adviser. Is a man of tremendous talent and
tremendous experienced. I watched and read a lot over the last two days. He
is highly respected by everybody in the military. And we`re very honored to
H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Mr. President, thank you, very
much. I`d just like to say what a privilege it is to be able to continue
serving our nation. I`m grateful to you for that opportunity. And I look
forward to joining the national security team and doing everything I can to
advance and protect the interest of the American people. Thank you very
TRUMP: You`re going to do a great job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: NBC`s Kristen Welker is at the White House. What can you tell
us about President Trump`s new choice General McMaster, Kristen?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: Well, he is the first active duty army service
member to serve in this role since General Colin Powell, and this being
met, really, with bipartisan praise. This is a non-political choice. A lot
of people are saying that`s welcome after Michael Flynn, the ousted
national security advisor. Remember on the campaign trail he lead those
lock her up chants. This is a little bit of his bio. He`s 54 years old,
highly decorated, a West Point graduate, someone who served in both Iraq
Wars and in Afghanistan as well. He`s someone who in 2014 was in Time
Magazine for being one of Times 100 most influential people. I`ve been
talking to people on both sides of the aisle tonight and they say this is a
strong choice. This is also a White House trying to stabilize itself after
this tumultuous past week in which the president fired his former national
security advisor Michael Flynn, after he says he misled the vice president
about the nature of some of his conversation with the Russian ambassador.
So the White House hoping this will be a new chapter. It comes in a pivotal
time in national security, particularly, given recent provocations by North
Korea, Russia and Iran, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thanks, Kristen. Major General Bob Scales joins us. Good
evening, sir. General Scales, can you tell me a little bit about General
ROBERT SCALES, RETIRED MAJOR GENERAL U.S. ARMY: Oh yeah, I`ve known H.R.
for – gosh, going on 25 years now. I first met him when I wrote the book,
Certain Victory. He is the opening segment of the chapter in my book when
he commanded Eagle 66, which is a tank in the Gulf War that knocked out
four Iraqi tanks in 12 seconds, winning the Silver Star. He went on to
write a book called, Dereliction of Duty, as a captain at Princeton earning
his PhD. And this book took on the national security establishment during
the Johnson`s adminstration in Vietnam for not standing up to the president
and pushing back on the president`s Vietnam policy. If you look on the
right sleeve in that picture you`ve just shown a minute ago, you`ll see
he`s got 10 hash marks on his right sleeves. What that mean is that H.R.
has been in combat for five years. In addition to that, he was one of the
leaders of the so-called Anbar Awakening in 2004 and 2005. And he was Dave
Petraeus` deputy in 2007. And today, he is, for lack of a better term, at
the three-star level, the army`s futurist. So he is a guy who is by his
very nature a transformation agent, if you will, in the department of
defense. Ideally paired with Jim Mattis as two guys who are willing to make
changes in the DOD and reform the military over the next four years. And he
played rugby at West Point. What could be wrong with this guy?
VAN SUSTEREN: I don`t know about that one. But, anyway, he`s certainly – I
mean, the praises has been wildly coming out of Capitol Hill since he was
named. Senator John McCain who of course locked horns with President Trump
said in part, he said he is a genuine intellect character and ability,
knows how to succeed. And senator McCain says I give President Trump great
credit for this decision. I could not imagine a better more capable
national security team than one we have right now. I mean, so vastly
different than what Senator John McCain has been saying about some other
decisions of the president, so that`s quite a surprise. And we`ve got
Lindsey Graham, Senator Lindsey Graham, saying he understands – the
general understands the important role the United States plays in the world
order. Vice President Mike Pence says we`re so grateful and honored. He
brings extraordinary wealth of experience. I mean, he getting glowing
remarks from everybody from Capitol Hill.
SCALES: And he should. Look, I`ll use one word with H.R. and understand now
that I`m his friend, but one thing I`ll say about him is moral courage.
When he was a captain he wrote a book that took on the entire Vietnam era
defense establishment who were bosses when he was on active duty. When he
was a colonel he wrote a series of scalding articles taking on the army`s
modernization program saying that it wasn`t suited to future warfare, and
wasn`t suited to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was long before he
made general. There was a lot of push back against H.R. when he came up for
general officer because – but a lot of us in the reformed business, to
include guys like Jim Mattis understood that this guy is a natural agent
for change. And he has enormous moral courage and is willing to stand up to
anybody when he believes he`s right.
VAN SUSTEREN: We seem to have a lot of generals right now in the sort of
hierarchy of the government. We have General Mattis for secretary of
defense. And now, we have, of course, General McMaster because we did have
General Flynn. But can you tell us why we should feel comfortable having
the generals in those jobs and not more of a civilian influence?
SCALES: Yeah. But understand now that both of these guys are my friends.
Let me say this as a former general, it`s not about the rank. It`s not
about the uniform. It`s about the man. It`s about the person. You have to
strip away the uniform for a minute and just look at who they are. And
these are both men who have enormous moral courage who are willing to speak
truth to power. Who have an enormous amount of combat experience in Iraq,
and Afghanistan, and in the Gulf War. And you put all that together and
just look at these two men and you`ll understand that just because they are
in uniform shouldn`t be something to exclude them from being at the power
base inside the beltway.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I have noticed that secretary of defense, Mattis, has
taken issue with the president on a number of items.
VAN SUSTEREN: . whether it was a support for NATO or – even recently the
press over the weekend. So, I mean, certainly, Secretary General Mattis is
speaking up when he has a difference with the president.
SCALES: But here`s the thing, both Mattis and McMaster are willing to take
on power but they do it respectfully. They do it within the system. They
are not bomb throwers by nature. They use the value of their intellect to
be able to make their arguments. And that`s very rare inside the beltway.
Now, these are two men of exceptional capabilities. And I think this is the
best national security team as a historian that I`ve seen in Washington,
say since the early days – early days of the Eisenhower administration.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let me just correct you one thing, you referred
yourself as a former general, I think retired general is probably the more
apt description. You`re still a general, right?
SCALES: Yes, you`re right. Absolutely, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: I have to tell you, two daughters who are in the military.
Anyway, general please stay with me. President Trump`s new national
security adviser comes one week after President Trump asked his first
advisor General Michael Flynn to submit his resignation. Despite that
announcement today, many questions remain about Flynn`s ties to Russia.
Meanwhile, Vice President Pence try to calm the waters overseas telling
European allies not to worry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Be assured, the
United States is well. We`ll continue to hold Russia accountable, even as
we search for new common ground which President Trump firmly believes can
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, all of this coming as NBC`s Bill Neely reports a jaw
dropper, and that is that the Kremlin is compiling a psychological dossier
on Trump and he`s doing that for Putin. Now, here`s the former Russia
deputy foreign minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Two pages describing psychological portrait of Trump.
Especially based on this last two or three months.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: The Kremlin experts believe Mr. Trump could be naive.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn`t understand fully who is Mr. Putin. He`s a
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: And relies on his intuition more than his advisers.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: He should listen to the people, especially in the areas
where he`s weak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Malcolm Nance who spent more than three decades in naval
intelligence special operations and homeland security, and author of the
Plot to Hack America, how Putin`s cyber-spies and WikiLeaks tried to steal
the 2016 election. Ed Rendel is the former Democratic governor of the great
state of Pennsylvania, and Ken Vogel is chief investigative reporter for
POLITICO. Let me go first to you, Malcolm, I mean, the news about preparing
a dossier, psychological profile on the president for Putin, while that
seems, you know, quite explosive. I suspect that is done routinely by
Putin, and even by our government on world leaders, am I right or wrong?
MALCOLM NANCE, AUTHOR: Oh, you`re absolutely correct. Creating a
psychological profile, and leadership dossier, and fundamental information
about statesman of another nation is very common. I find this rather
suspicious. And I find a lot of things the Russian do rather suspicious.
Donald Trump with his foreign policy is so absolutely close to Russia,
they`re probably was one of these done by Russian intelligence, SFB, and
their covert organization the SVR, some time ago. And I find it very
interesting that they`re now framing this as a document where they have
wanted to reframe Donald Trump over the last three months and then announce
it publicly. That`s sort of a message that`s being sent out to Donald Trump
to them that they`re watching him careful. And I don`t know how that plays.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, what are your thoughts on this – whatever this
relationship between Trump and Russia, the United States and Russia. I
mean, it seems, frankly, I`m not sure we have all the facts, neither
directions, or what`s exaggerated and what`s not, but non the less it`s
certainly is – a lot is being discussed about it.
ED RENDELL, FORMER GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Greta, I think you said
the operative words. We don`t have all the facts. And until we do, it`s
hard to figure out what`s happening here. I think they may have over played
their hand a little bit. This love affair with Putin and Trump, may force
Donald Trump – especially with the investigation going on about whether
there was contact during the campaign. They force Donald Trump to keep
those sanctions in place, because right now if he would lift the sanctions
against Russia, I think all hell would break lose. So I think either Trump
over played his hand or the Russians over played their hand, but I think
it`s going to be very difficult in this current political environment for
them to lift the sanctions.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, any sense of how much these sanctions pinched the
Russian government pinch Putin, I mean, do they have – I mean, what impact
RENDELL: I think it hurt the Russian`s economy, and right now that`s
Putin`s Achilles heel. Unless the Russian`s economy improves markedly and
fairly quickly, I think Putin could find himself in a little bit of
trouble. So, that`s an important factor. They really want these sanctions
to be lifted, and I don`t see how Donald Trump can do it. He didn`t want to
fire Flynn, but when it became public he had no problem firing Flynn
because in the end he is a politician, so the politician looks at this and
says if you lift these sanctions all hell is going to break loose. I`m not
sure he can do it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ken, can you give us any more sort of fact and investigative
reporting on this whole Russia, Trump campaign, Trump colleagues, any idea,
any more information of this relationship?
KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Yes, I will tell you part of Governor Rendell`s
analysis whether Trump would be hard pressed to lift these sanctions.
Clearly, I think we`ve seen him take a more traditional approach – an
approach that is, sort of, more in keeping with traditional American
foreign policy towards Russia and toward the sanctions. We reported that,
in fact, he met on the silence of the national prayer breakfast a few weeks
ago with Ukrainian politician, former president, Tymoshenko, who is likely
presidential candidate again, and assured her that they would not be
lifting the sanctions. So I think we see some pressure there. We obviously
also see Mike Pence in Europe right now assuring these European leaders
that he is with them. Well, being with them and being with NATO, means
being for the sanctions, and in some ways being more aggressive to Russia
than what we have seen from Donald Trump.
VAN SUSTEREN: Malcolm, the – when the sanctions were first imposed, when
the 35-were-so were tossed out of the country, the Russia diplomats by
President Obama in late-December, there was no reaction, no response, or no
retaliation by Putin and Russia. Now the sanctions have not been lifted, we
have a new president, I mean, what are they going to do? Just sit and sort
of take the sanctions or do you expect them to respond in some way?
NANCE: No, I think for now. I think they placed their bets on Donald Trump.
I mean, they`ve been supporting Trump since the beginning. And certainly
now that we know that General Flynn did have communication with the
Russians on that very same day, may have assured them about the situation
with sanctions and asked them to hold their fire, especially since they
weren`t just kicking out 35 diplomats, there were 35 intelligence
collectors who are doing signal intelligence and cyber warfare in the
United States. So it`s not as innocent as it seems. But on the face of
that, Donald Trump is going to be pressured – right now he`s being
pressured from the right to keep these sanctions. And they had that
conversation with Tymoshenko and assured the Ukraine. It`s going to be very
hard for him to squirm out of this. And perhaps, that`s the reason why
Russia is releasing a psychological profile on Trump so publicly in order
to give him a little pressure.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, I hate to ask question about politics on such an
important topic as Russia, because when it comes to foreign policy try to
shed the political ramification, try to do what`s right and not sort of
personally right. But do you have any sort of thoughts on how this plays
out politically at least here in Washington, and how the Democrats and
Republican are going to play this one?
RENDELL: Well, in terms of the sanctions, again, I think, if he lifted the
sanctions and don`t put it past him, I mean, you know, he says one thing
and does another thing. We`ve seen that already in the first month. But if
he lifted the sanctions I think he gets political incoming from both the
Democrats and the Republicans. I think it`s almost untenable position for
him to take. And they may have outsmarted themselves, so it`s interesting.
Did Russia release the fact that they`re doing this profile to make it seem
like they`re not sort of buddy-buddy with Trump? Are they going to do some
things now to make it seem like there not so buddy-buddy, so that if he did
lift the sanctions, people wouldn`t think there was anything nefarious
about it? I wouldn`t put a pass the Russians, but politically lifting the
sanctions is almost a non-starter.
VAN SUSTEREN: General Scales, I still – get the idea – you know, of the
politics listening to Governor Rendell, the sort of political viewpoint on
this here in Washington. What about the Pentagon or the military viewpoint
SCALES: Well, I think, what`s not news here is that the Russians are
compiling a dossier on American leaders. I mean, they do that all the time.
And I might add, going back to World War II, we do the same thing on our
potential enemies, and it`s very important that we do it. The news here is
if the Russia`s leaked the fact that they were compiling the dossier on
President Trump. That`s the news. And all it is, it`s part of the greater
Russia information warfare campaign that they`re conducting against us
virtually every day. They think they own the information high ground here.
They think they`re better at it than we are. And the idea that they are
leaking a dossier is just the first step of a continuing information
campaign that they will continue against this administration no matter how
President Trump reacts to the sanctions.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ken.
RENDELL: Greta, I agree with the general.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, go ahead.
RENDELL: I agree with the general. I would say that this would be the most
unique psychological profile they ever assembled.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ken, I`m going to talk about the possibility of an
investigation. There are ongoing investigations already into this sort of
connection to the 2016 election. Do you see the Trump administration at
least be alarmed, or worry, or concerned about this investigation, or they
just see it just as something that`s annoying?
VOGEL: I mean, they`re putting up a really good face. If they are alarmed,
we don`t see any evidence of that. In fact, you heard Reince Priebus
suggesting that everyone in the administration was clear that doesn`t
really get to the question which is whether Trump`s associates during the
campaign were in fact in communication with the Russian. And some of our
reporting about Paul Manafort, one-time campaign chairman for Donald Trump,
associations in Ukraine and in Russia.
VAN SUSTEREN: But by doing thing wrong. There`s one thing in the
association – there`s another thing to do something wrong.
VOGEL: Absolutely. I don`t think – it would be hard for me knowing what –
the reporting I have done on this to be able to expect that there would be
any kind of smoking gun on this. And then, to take it even further, if
there were a smoking gun, to what end. You know, this idea that somehow the
hacking of John Podesta`s emails, or the DNC server, somehow tipped the
election I think it`s wrongheaded and over simplified.
VAN SUSTEREN: We still don`t want the Russians messing with our election at
any form, even if it doesn`t tipped the election. Gentlemen, thank you all.
VOGEL: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Next, reactions from Democrats to President Trump new
national security advisor. I`ll talk to a lawmaker spearheading a charge to
investigate Russian`s role in the 2016 election. Also, President Trump
continues to unload on the media. Hear what the vice president is now
saying while he`s overseas. And then, there`s this, not my president`s day
protest, coast to coast, including clashes between demonstrators on
opposite side of the issues. Big show ahead. Stay with us.
VAN SUSTEREN: We are back with the news that has been breaking and that`s
President Trump picking army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, shown on the
left there, as national security adviser. Now, senior administration
official telling NBC, and this is a big point, that Trump will allow
McMaster to choose his own team. NBC also reporting that McMaster did join
the president on the flight back to Washington on Air Force One. And
McMaster also intends to stay on active duty while serving in the post.
Meanwhile, questions still remaining about former national security advisor
General Michael Flynn and his contacts with Russia. Vice President Pence is
now speaking out, and for the first time about being misled by Flynn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I was
disappointed to learn that the facts that had been conveyed to me by
General Flynn were inaccurate. But we honor General Flynn`s long service to
the United States of America. And I fully support the president`s decision
to ask for his resignation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Trump`s chief-of-staff, Reince Priebus, was asked by Chuck
Todd on Meet the Press yesterday, if he could definitively say that no one
on the Trump campaign had contacts with Russian agents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, CHIEF OF STAFF: No – first of all, the answer is no. And
we don`t know of any contacts with Russian agents. I`ve talked to the top
levels of the intelligence community, and they`ve assured me that that New
York Times story was grossly over stated and inaccurate and totally wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman Eric Swalwell is a Democratic from the great
state of California. He`s also the co-sponsor of a bill to create a
bipartisan commission to investigate Russia`s role in the 2016 election.
Now, this proposed bill has the backing of every house Democrat, plus a
lone Republican. Nice to see you, sir.
ERIC SWALWELL, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Thanks for having me on, Greta. First
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I hope you`ll come back, I hope. All right. Tell me,
you want a commission – what`s wrong – there`s so many investigations
being done by committees on Capitol Hill right now. Why do you want a
SWALWELL: Well, that`s exactly the problem, is that on Capitol Hill these
types of investigation become politicized. We saw that with the Benghazi
investigation. So, I think the best way to do this is to have an
independent bipartisan appointed commission. Depoliticized it, Declassify
the facts to the extent possible, and also debunk in an independent way all
the myths that the president put out there about the intelligence
communities findings. And so, the best way to do that is with our bill. And
as you mentioned, I`m glad that Walter Jones a Republican from North
Carolina has jumped on board, and he`s one of the first Republicans who
spoke out against the Iraq war if you remember.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So tell me, Eric, so this commission – this would
be not members of the house or the senate, right? These are other citizens,
they`re not politicians?
SWALWELL: That`s right. This would be.
VAN SUSTEREN: Doesn`t that say something about the fact that in order to do
an independent investigation that you have to go outside of Capitol Hill
when you talk about bipartisan, you put Republicans and Democrats on a
committee. But if we want it to be non-partisan and fair we have to go
SWALWELL: Yeah, I think that would be best, especially, considering the
environment there. And we saw this with the September 11 commission. It was
full time members of the commission who are not elected officials and full
time staff. I think the key point here, Greta, is that the final finding
that was made in the Russia intelligence report is that they intend to do
this again. And I think if we`re concerned about our democracy going
forward, we have to assure our constituents, the American people, that we
are going to do everything we can to not let this happen again. So let`s
take it off the hill and get to the bottom of what happened, and what we
can do to protect future elections.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Under – who do you want to pick these people?
I`ll pick them.
SWALWELL: Yeah, you could pick them. But this allows both Republicans
Democrats in congress to pick the members.
VAN SUSTEREN: And we have talked to leader Pelosi about this? You`re
SWALWELL: Yes, she`s fully supportive. I`ve also went down to Indiana and
I`ve talked to Lee Hamilton, former member who was the chair of the
September 11 commission, and he gave me a lot of good ideas. And he really
stressed the importance that this be bipartisan, and give the commission as
wide of latitude as they could possible have to follow the evidence
wherever it may go. And I think that`s what`s important right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did leader Pelosi say when you told her you want to go
outside congress to try to have this investigated with an appointed
SWALWELL: Well, she agreed that because of what we saw with Benghazi it
becomes so political that the best way to get to the bottom of what
happened was to take it off of Capitol Hill. So, she`s fully behind it.
She`s one of the supporters.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess I`m still hung up on the idea. I guess it`s really
disappointing that in order to get a fair investigation, you know, the
people that we elected that we`ve already paid their salaries, you know,
that they can`t do an investigation with a sense of confidence and
completeness and fairness.
SWALWELL: And I`m on the intel committee in congress. We`re doing our own
investigation. But I think, because this crosses over in to so many
different committees in congress, if you don`t have people full time
committed to it, we`re not going to get the answer. And as you`ve said,
it`s unfortunate, but we need to get more Republicans on board right now
because too many of them are putting party ahead of country and this is a
moment in our history where the American people and other countries are
looking at. What is the United States going to do?
VAN SUSTEREN: Although, I would say that, you know, whether they put party
in front of whatever you said it was, is that they are – at least four
investigations being done by four different committees led by Republicans.
So it`s like, you know, they are doing an investigation. It`s not like
they`re saying no, they are conducting investigations.
SWALWELL: Right. And two of those investigations are going to be largely
classified. And I want the American people to know as much as possible
about what happened, how we were so vulnerable and, again.
VAN SUSTEREN: I`m with you on that. I`m totally with that because so much
gets classified in this city that I don`t think needs to be or should be
classified. I think the American people are to know more. Anyway, thank you
for joining us. I hope you`ll come.
SWALWELL: Of course. Thank you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you. Before we take a short break, check out these
pictures. Now, rallies are swelling across the country. Political rallies
timed for President`s Day. We`re going to get live reports. Plus, Vice
President Pence speaks out on how the Trump administration views the press,
this one day after President Trump slammed the media as the enemy. We`ll
fill you in.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: From coast to coast, a series of
“Not My President`s Day” rallies taking place across the country. This
rallies happening exactly one month into Trump presidency. Demonstrations
hitting the streets to protests Trump`s policies and actions on several
issues from immigration to environment to health care. NBC`s Gadi Schwartz
is in Los Angeles. Gadi.
GADI SCHWARTZ, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Hi Greta. Yes, this is actually
five straight days if you think about it, a protest starting with last
week`s “day without an immigrant.” Today it is “not my president.” All
across the country we have seen demonstrations popping up. A lot of these
demonstrators unified in their opposition to President Trump and his
policies, but when it comes to the specific issues there are many.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE/FEMALE: Stand up. Fight back.
SCHWARTZ: A federal holiday turned into day of demonstration for thousands
in over 20 cities across the country. In New York.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: – illegal and discriminatory travel ban will not be
SCHWARTZ: At the nation`s capital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) We are here.
SCHWARTZ: And clear across to Los Angeles. Every single one of these
rallies it`s not just one issue, but its many different issues bringing all
different kinds of groups together in opposition of the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m here in support of my community, my roots, my
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, they`re getting rid of the media. The
beginning of a dictatorship so things are going to be tougher.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) people with green cards are getting
deported for no reasons.
SCHWARTZ: Many voices with different views chanting not my president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE/FEMALE: We love Trump. We love Trump.
SCHWARTZ: But the demonstrations also drew the president`s supporters who
came to express their views at this rally in New York.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do believe he can make my country safe and great
SCHWARTZ: Supporters say they are encouraged by the president who seems to
be making good on his campaign promises. But those promises are the reasons
demonstrators are protesting this administration President`s Day.
And despite those heated exchanges between Trump supporters and Trump
demonstrators, things were very peaceful today. No reported – no arrests
reported in Los Angeles or New York or Chicago. The only arrests that we
know of so far were reported in Portland, Oregon by some protesters that
refused to get out of the street. Back to you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Gadi, thank you.
Next, President Trump calls the media the enemy of the American people.
Someone in his cabinet disagrees. We`ll tell you who.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If you want to preserve democracy as we know
it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press and without
it, I`m afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over
time. That`s how dictators get started. When you look at history, the first
thing dictators do is shut down the press, and I`m not saying that
President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I`m just saying we need to
learn the lessons of history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator John McCain defending the press after President Trump
called the media the enemy of the American people, and over the weekend,
the president continued the attack saying the media is part of a corrupt
system. And across the ocean, in Brussels today, Vice President Pence
defending the president`s attack on the media and also Chief of Staff
Reince Priebus on Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president and I
strongly support a free and independent press, but you can anticipate that
the president and all of us will continue to call out the media when they
play fast and loose with the facts.
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think that the media should
stop with this unnamed source stuff, out names on a piece of paper and
print it. The people aren`t willing to put their name next to a quote then
the quote shouldn`t be listed. Period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: But Defense Secretary James Mattis who`s travelling in the
Middle East broke from the boss.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, President Trump has said that this week that the
press is the enemy of the American people. Do you agree?
JAMES MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I`ve had some rather contentious time
with the press but no, the press is part of the concern or a constituency
that we deal and the – I don`t have any issues with the press myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: With me, Sabrina Siddiqui, political reporter for “The
Guardian,” Jonathan Swan, national political reporter for “Axios” and Heidi
Przybyla, senior political reporter for “USA Today.” Sabrina, first to you,
this is not the first time that the Secretary of Defense sort of broken
with the boss.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Well yes, I think that
when it comes to Donald Trump he`s been strategic in terms of how he deals
with the media where when he was part of 17-large field of Republican
candidates, he was the most accessible, always calling into every show,
trying to dominate the news cycle. And then as soon as he became the
nominee, he really harnessed his adversarial approach that his base of
supporters has towards the media where they`re really distrustful of the
press. It seems –
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Every president hates the press. It`s just the
president – but president Trump says it.
SIDDIQUI: I think when he says it and that`s what changes. When you`re
president, you cannot just attack the freedom of the press because you
don`t like the coverage because you deem it to be negative. And also,
Michael Flynn is a perfect example where he can`t just reject everything is
fake news. He did for example seek Michael Flynn`s resignation. Then he
turned (INAUDIBLE) press conference and said Michael Flynn was treated
unfairly. That was a fake controversy.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don`t like this sort of grand swoop that he does on
twitter, that I`ll talk about in the end of the show. But Jonathan to you,
and I`m talking about the president – Jonathan, the fact that Secretary
Mattis has the sort of the courage and speaks out. I mean, I like the fact
he`s not a yes man.
JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, everyone was, you
know, not everyone, but there were concerns about Trump having too many
generals in his orbit but the counterpoint –
VAN SUSTEREN: We`ve added one today.
SWAN: Right. But the counterpoint to that is these are people who will
speak their mind. They`re not necessarily going to just fall in line and do
whatever Donald Trump tells them. They are people who are used to being
VAN SUSTEREN: But he didn`t try to dodge the question. He answered it. I
mean, he could have dodge it. He could have said, well, you have to ask the
president about that. Well, we all know dodges. We`ve seen those dodges.
SWAN: But it fits his reputation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed it does. Heidi.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, USA TODAY: The problem is that
Trump`s not making the distinction between the things that he doesn`t like
which every president is in that situation. I remember George W. Bush
calling us the filter and believe me it was not affectionately.
But he doesn`t make a distinction between that and between the things that
we get wrong because I`m sure we do get wrong and we should be held
accountable for that. Instead he`s just calling everything, the entire
industry, the entire architecture of the mainstream media fake, and that`s
where the red alarm should go off, right.
VAN SUSTEREN: That`s like the so-called judge which was –
PRZYBYLA: Exactly. Going after an entire institution, and that`s like with
the Flynn controversy –
VAN SUSTEREN: From the platform as president.
PRZYBYLA: It doesn`t ring true to the American people because you`re
watching what you`re seeing with your own eyes, which is that the reporting
on Flynn was 100 percent accurate and that`s why the president fired him.
SIDDIQUI: And I think it also enables him to control the narrative around
his presidency particularly among that floor of let`s say 30 odd percent of
supporters who are with him no matter what. But when it comes to broader
American public, I think that`s where you`re seeing in some of the polling,
more in support for the media people who actually do believe that as
president, his tenor needs to change.
VAN SUSTEREN: And does it make us do our job better or is it?
SWAN: Look, I just think everyone needs to suck it up and get on with their
work and stop complaining. That`s what all they said when some sort of
(INAUDIBLE). This is just what Trump does to everyone throughout his whole
business career, you know, if he had a dispute with another developer. It
wasn`t that they were incompetent disgusting piece of whatever. I mean, so
this is just the language he uses.
VAN SUSTEREN: There`s this – part though is that it does go with social
media which is a lot different and we really would like the American people
– I would have robust discussion with free press and first amendment and
free press and free speech without it being poisoned by –
PRZYBYLA: The problem is it`s not just Americans who are watching us. Its
other countries that aspire to be democracy`s like us. And that`s where you
have this democracy groups that monitor democracy ratings and you That`s
why you have monitor groups that monitor democracy ratings and you know,
they`re setting off alarm bells as well in places like Britain where they
are giving him a hard time about coming to speak to parliament.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I do, you know, give Reince Priebus says about the use of
anonymous sources. I mean, if you take a highlighter to a lot of stories, I
mean, you know, we can get a lot more sources on the record I think more
SWAN: Reince Priebus does like to talk on that ground.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, and on that note, we need to take a quick break.
Still ahead, answering for the Republican president, congressional
Republicans return home and come face-to-face with Democratic voters
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let`s start with number three. Paper airplanes are not
just for kids, at least not anymore. A San Francisco research lab has
developed a new kind of paper airplane that can be air dropped with
precision caring two pounds of supplies such as blood and vaccines to those
in need. This could transform humanitarian aid as we know it.
Number two, a town in the Netherlands has installed live strips on the
ground to help guide people who are looking down at their smartphones as
the walk. It changes colors to match traffic signals. Supporters say it
helps keep folks safe. Critics say it helps create smartphone zombies.
And number one, who do you think was the last president show sported facial
hair. It was definitely before your time. President Taft in 1930 was the
most president to have a moustache and the last 100 years the moustache has
fallen out of style at least with presidents. So there it is. Things you
must know and now you do know.
President Trump is back at the White House after a weekend in Palm Beach.
Right before taking off, Trump announced Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster
as his new National Security Adviser. McMaster intends to stay on active
duty while serving in the post. General Keith Kellogg seen on the right
becomes National Security Council chief of staff. Jonathan, he`s getting –
McMaster is getting huge raves from Capitol Hill so far.
SWAN: Steve Israel, former DCCC chair and John McCain, and Bill Kristol. So
he`s got the neocons, he`s got the Democrats, everyone is giving him praise
and I think Trump really needed this to be a big reset. He was spending
down a lot of political capital with General Flynn and this is going to
make things a lot smoother for him.
PRZYBYLA: And he seems like he`s (INAUDIBLE) as well with what Trump said
during the campaign, which was he was very critical of our intervention in
Iraq. He`s got a record of criticism with both Iraq and Vietnam so there
are some credibility to that and he`s seen as an intellectual.
SIDDIQUI: And he`s someone who very early on in his career have been known
to challenge the establishment and we`re just talking about cabinet
secretaries who might differ with the president, distance themselves on one
particular issue, torture, that something that General McMaster have been
very critical of.
In fact, he would ask detainees whether or not his regimen was treating
them with at least, you know, a basic level of dignity. I also think that
he`s someone who will help alleviate a lot of the concerns within the
national security community because Donald Trump as we know has had a very
combative relationship with them
VAN SUSTEREN: Thirty seconds Heidi, what happens if Secretary Mattis and
General McMaster disagree with the president, who wins?
SIDDIQUI: At the end of the day, Donald Trump is the president.
PRZYBYLA: Yes, he is the president so –
VAN SUSTEREN: He`s got two people that will take him to task from very
PRZYBYLA: Well, I think here is the good news from this installment, is
that it`s not going to be Steve Bannon because both of them have the spine
to stand up there.
SIDDIQUI: McMaster is also someone who has been very opposed to using
derogatory terms to describe Muslims to generalize and language about
Muslims which of course stands in contrast to Donald Trump.
VAN SUSTEREN: Panel, we got to go. Thank you.
Now that those rallies across the country today as we`ve mentioned
thousands participated in “not my President`s Day” events. Meanwhile,
members of Congress also facing critical crowds including a town hall this
weekend in South Carolina where Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Mark
Sanford were grilled by the audience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever since the election I have felt like a passenger in
a car that`s being driven by a drunk driver.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: And in western New York, Republican Congressman Tom Reed, got
cut off by the crowd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: I`m here to listen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Jonathan, would you put that in a category of robust debate
and constituent outreach?
SWAN: Well look, yes, I would actually. I mean, they`re shutting him down.
You wanted to have people heard. I`m hot seeing people burn things down
like they did in Berkeley. Yes, I`m not saying it won`t go there. I do
think this is going to be a hairy week for Republicans. And even the ones
who want to avoid these town halls, I mean, on Saturday there`s going to be
a huge thing across the country where they go and visit them at their
offices. So, this could be get really interesting.
PRZYBYLA: I think they are also frankly taking a page from the Tea Party.
They saw that constituents` speaking out actually does make a difference
and in this case they`re seeing that it`s already potentially making a
difference with stories like the one this week about Republicans possibly
talking about making changes to Obamacare instead of immediately scrapping
So I do think that there`s a definite feeling that, you know, people can
make a difference by coming out to these town hall forums and I know it`s
about a lot of different issues but right now, I do think that what we`re
seeing is – there was a newspaper article today about, you know, you take
Obama out of the care, and then you just have the care.
A lot of this is about people who have health care who would lose it
because the alternatives we`re talking about, they might bring lower
prices, they might bring better plans but some people are going to lose
SIDDIQUI: There are 22 million people who have received coverage through
the Affordable Care Act. So some of this is organic because that cut the
cross party lines. It`s not that only Democrats have received coverage
though healthcare law. I think as far as the other distinction in these
protest and these rallies that you`re seeing, that does harken back to the
The big question facing Democratic Party as it seeks to rebuild is can they
translate that into actual action at the pulse when they look ahead at 2018
midterms, can they, you know, regain majority and Congress (inaudible)
VAN SUSTEREN: What Jonathan did, the Republicans have promised repeal and
replace and is to replace. If they don`t come up with a replace., that
repeal is going to be really unpopular.
SWAN: Well, it`s not that just. There`s a number of Republican who don`t
really care about the replace. They`re like let`s get it repealed. I mean -
VAN SUSTEREN: They`re going to feel that one at the polls. They`re going to
feel that one if they don`t have any –
SWAN: But the idea that, I mean, Tom Price went out there last week and
said, you know we`re all in on this. Well, I`m sorry, that`s not quite
true. If the Trump administration is still working through this, the idea
that they are perfectly aligned with Paul Ryan and health care is nonsense.
PRZYBYLA: They`re in a bind I think because we are one of the only
industrialized country who doesn`t have some version of a universal health
care plan and now, it`s much easier to give something than it is to take it
away. And so I think we have established a bit of a cultural expectation,
as short as it`s been that we`ve had Obamacare, that you can`t take this
coverage away from people at the same time that we`re trying to do
something they did as better and more affordable. So that`s really tough to
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.
Coming up, I`m going to tell you what is dangerous for the record, that`s
VAN SUSTEREN: I want to say this for the record. The now ignited war
between the president and the press is out of control and it`s dangerous.
People are upset and I get why. Some support Trump, some support the press.
But regardless of your opinion, and even the rightness of your position,
allow me to stop and take a breath and think about two things.
One, the constitution. The First Amendment contains the words freedom of
the press. Those words were not there because the drafters were looking for
something extra to just stick into the amendment, but because they are
critical. Don`t believe me, think Sudan or Iran. But with that free press
protection in that amendment comes responsibility. The responsibility to
get it right and to be fair and that means – and this is a direct message
to all of us in the media, we should forever be doing rigorous self-
examination on how we do our jobs because getting it wrong or exaggerated
just is not an option.
And number two, and this is a direct message to President Trump. Mr.
President, back off. You likewise need to do a self-examination. You need
to get it right too. Think Sweden and everyone of your mistakes or reckless
tweets has a huge cost. You have a powerful platform but it is dead wrong
to rev up your loyal base with incorrect generalizing, wide sweeping,
inflammatory statements about the entire media. That does not advance a
well needed robust debate. And it is not what the drafters of the First
Amendment had in mind when they added free speech and free press to the
And finally a direct message to all the viewers, we will all try to do
better. Thanks for watching. I`ll see you back here tomorrow night at 6:00
p.m. eastern. If you can`t watch live, set your DVR and follow me on
twitter @Greta or check out my facebook page for behind the scenes videos
and so much more. I put up a lot of videos on facebook they don`t see on
the air, but anyway. I hope you go to facebook and check it out. “Hardball”
with Chris Matthews starts right now.
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