For the Record with Greta, Transcript 2/20/2017

Kristen Welker, Robert Scales, Malcolm Nance, Ed Rendell, Ken Vogel, Eric Swalwell, Sabrina Siddiqui, Jonathan Swan, Heidi Przybyla


Date: February 20, 2017

Guest: Kristen Welker, Robert Scales, Malcolm Nance, Ed Rendell, Ken Vogel, Eric Swalwell, Sabrina Siddiqui, Jonathan Swan, Heidi Przybyla




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.





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

have him.


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.




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




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.


SCALES: Right.


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.





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

be found.




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.




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

tough guy.


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.




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.



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

they had?


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

of Russia?


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.




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.





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.




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.




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.




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

Democratic leader.


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

bipartisan commission?


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.








SCHWARTZ: A federal holiday turned into day of demonstration for thousands

in over 20 cities across the country. In New York.




SCHWARTZ: Chicago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: – illegal and discriminatory travel ban will not be



SCHWARTZ: At the nation`s capital.




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.






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.




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.





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.




VAN SUSTEREN: But Defense Secretary James Mattis who`s travelling in the

Middle East broke from the boss.




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.




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.



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.



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

forth –


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.



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

demanding answers.




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

influential positions.


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.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever since the election I have felt like a passenger in

a car that`s being driven by a drunk driver.






VAN SUSTEREN: And in western New York, Republican Congressman Tom Reed, got

cut off by the crowd.




REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: I`m here to listen.








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

their care.


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

Tea Party.


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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