For the Record with Greta, Transcript 4/3/2017
Show: FOR THE RECORD
Date: April 3, 2017
Guest: Greg Miller, Chuck Grassley, Michael McFaul, Jeff Mason, Jim VandeHei, Howard Dean, Demetri Sevastopulo, Bob Scales
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: Hey, Katy. Thank you very much,
Katy. We have breaking news. The Washington Post is reporting that right
now that the United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January
between a Russian close to Vladimir Putin and key Trump supporter,
Blackwater founder Erik Prince. Now, Prince had no formal role in the
Trump transition but his sister, education secretary Betsy DeVos. Prince
himself a major Trump donor. He visited Trump transition offices back in
December. Greg Miller of the Washington Post, one of the journalists who
broke this story joins us. Greg?
GREG MILLER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me, where was this meeting and why was this meeting?
MILLER: So this meeting happened in a Seychelles, is a set of islands in
the middle of the Indian Ocean in January just weeks before Trump`s
inauguration, and our understanding of it that it was arranged with the
help of the United Arab of Emirates as sort of back channel communication
between the Trump team and Russia. So Erik Prince has deep contacts with
the Trump White House and met with a Russian, a wealthy Russian individual
with close ties to Putin. And the agenda is not completely clear, but one
of the things we`re told they discussed was try to find ways to drive a
wedge between Russia and Iran.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Why did it have to be a back channel meeting?
Because we`re also learning and we know during that time is that General
Flynn who had then been named as national security advisor, he had contacts
with the Russian ambassador. So why did Erik Prince have to do this?
MILLER: Yeah, I mean, that`s a really good question. It does come at a
time when the Trump transition team`s contacts with Russia are under a
great deal of scrutiny. So the FBI is already looking at General Flynn`s
contacts with the Russian ambassador. There was a meeting at Trump Tower
where the Russian ambassador in early December, and a subsequent meeting
with the crown prince of UAE. And that appears to have set in motion this
meeting in the Seychelles. But you`re right, I mean, for all of these
contacts between the Russian figures and Trump associates that kind of
happened not exactly in plain view but here in the United States. At least
the trouble that they went to, to try to set something up in this remote
part of the Indian Ocean just seems really odd.
VAN SUSTEREN: It`s particularly odd because it`s normal or conventional
for transition team to want to have contact with other nations, Russia
included. Jeremy Bash who`s been on air, one of our contributor said that
many times he worked at the CIA and the department of defense. But what`s
peculiar about this, it`s that it seems to be outsourced to someone who has
been controversial in the past, Blackwater, and that`s what`s so peculiar
is that why not send Jared Kushner to have a conversation, or someone on
the transition team or General Flynn. Why Erik Prince?
MILLER: Well, I mean, Prince has position – he has close relationships
with the UAE, so when they agreed to broker this meeting and this is all
arranged by the UAE, Erik Prince is – he`s firms have made hundreds of
millions of dollars from UAE. He was even based there for a time. He
would be a logical person for them to go to.
VAN SUSTEREN: If they didn`t have the contact themselves. I mean, that`s
the peculiar. That`s the point that`s so different. They could have done
these themselves, the transition team. Flynn could have and was talking to
MILLER: There are other aspects of this story that is sort of strange as
well. Why does the crown prince of the UAE sort to make this weird secret
flight to New York to meet with the Trump team, doesn`t report to it the
Obama administration. They learned about it only because they see that his
name shows up on a flight manifest from customs and border protection. So
there`s a lot of weird effort to hide a lot of these meetings. Even those
meeting that you`re discussing that you referencing that happened in New
York. I mean, those are meetings that this Trump administration did not
acknowledge or publicly identify until they were all revealed by news
organizations including the Post.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I`m certain the Washington Post and you will dig
deeper into this one to find out what`s really going on because it does
seem a little bit weird, some aspects of it. Thanks for joining us.
MILLER: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: And brace yourself for this one because we`re on the verge
of a big time Washington, D.C. throw down, it`s over President Trump`s
Supreme Court pick and a move that could change forever the rules of the
U.S. senate. Today, the senate judiciary committee voted along party lines
to send Judge Neil Gorsuch his nomination to the senate floor for a full
senate vote. But Democrats are up in arms. They do not want Judge Gorsuch
on the Supreme Court, saying the 10th circuit court of appeals judge
refused to answer many of their questions. So Democrats are now ready to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I will not support Judge Gorsuch`s nomination in the
judiciary committee today.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: In light of Judge Gorsuch`s record, I oppose his
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Approval of Supreme Court justices must be by more
than a razor thin majority.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: The credentials are not enough, not enough for the
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: My conscious will not allow me to ratify the majority
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cannot support this nomination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: After the hearings, Republicans came to the podium slamming
Democrats of playing politics. And the Republicans also vowing to invoke
the nuclear option, meaning, all they would need to put Judge Gorsuch on
the Supreme Court is a simple majority, that`s 51 votes instead of the
current 60 vote threshold.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: If you`re filibustering him as a Democrat that just
means you don`t accept the fact that President Trump won.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Some of our colleagues are determined to just pound
the table in order to stop Judge Gorsuch. And all they can come up with
are facts that have absolutely nothing to do with his qualifications as a
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: We saw Democratic senators throw every fastball they
could, use every attack they could, and end up with no meaningful criticism
of Judge Gorsuch`s record.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican from the great state of
Iowa and the chairman of the judiciary committee joins us. Nice to see
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Thank you, Greta. Glad to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, is the Democrats effort to filibuster Judge
Gorsuch, is it about ideology or it is payback for Merrick Garland?
GRASSLEY: Well, from the speeches that they gave in our committee today,
both of those excuses were given. But, remember, all these excuses you`ve
heard today it`s because they can`t lay a glove on this candidate, this
nominee because he`s so outstandingly well qualified. He has expressed the
independence that we expect of our judges, and just all together 10 years
of extreme qualifications serving on the tenth circuit court of appeals.
They can`t do anything else except find those excuses.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. If they have the nuclear option it will change
everything in the U.S. senate forever. I know many senators, Republicans
and Democrats, are very distressed by the fact that this will change
everything. Have you had any private conversations with either the ranking
member, Senator Feinstein or Senator Schumer, the minority leader, about
this nuclear option, the fact that it`s going to change everything in the
GRASSLEY: I have not. But let me make very clear, it`s only going to
change everything in the senate forever for one position in our
constitution and that`s on the Supreme Court. Everything else that had 60
vote requirements up until November of 2013, the Democrats, under Reed,
changed everything forever, for every cabinet position and every judge.
The only thing they left what was, was the Supreme Court. So the big
change came four years ago.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. I assume that the next Supreme Court justice
could be a liberal. Right now, Judge Gorsuch is likely to replace a
conservative Justice Scalia. So it`s conservative for conservative. So
we`re not going see a dramatic change in the court likely. The next one
could be a liberal which would be a big fight. Do you foresee – give me
an idea what you think is going to happen next time around when we have
President Trump conservative nominee for maybe a liberal opening on the
GRASSLEY: Well, I think that`s the time when the Democrats are going to
realize that making 60 vote threshold to get this guy on the Supreme Court
was a mistake because if we change it the same way Reed changed it for
everybody else four years ago, then they won`t have anything to stand on to
prevent the change that you just questioned me about.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, let me move to another part of the judiciary
committee of oversight over the FBI. What are your thoughts on the FBI
investigation, and you`ve got Chairman Nunes over in the house? I know the
senate – we`ve seen a bipartisan discussion in the senate intel committee,
but what do you make of what`s going on in the house intel committee?
GRASSLEY: Well, what goes on in the house, I shouldn`t comment on. But I
believe that if somebody has some information that shows that laws were
violated and people`s names unmasked, so that they are accused of being
something they probably didn`t do and it was done for political purposes, I
think that anything that makes transparency in things that are wrong in
government brings about greater accountability in government and whoever
did that needs to be held responsible. There`s too much – there`s plenty
of legitimate concern about Russia interfering in our elections. I don`t
have any problem with that. But there hasn`t been enough concern about the
people that have been leaking, and committing a felony in the leaking of
VAN SUSTEREN: But does that suggest that – as oversight for the FBI, if
you suspect that there`s been some unmasking unlawfully that you would
quickly refer to the justice department for investigation into the person
who did the unmasking?
GRASSLEY: I`ve got two letters to the justice department right now,
involving some things that are related to Russia. The dossier that was
used against Republican and against Clinton by this guy named Steele. I`ve
got a question into the FBI about McCabe, the deputy director, who seems to
have ties to Governor McAuliffe, and finding out whether or not there`s any
conflict of interest there, both in regard – as the inspector general is
looking at it in regard to the Clinton e-mails. But what does this McCabe
have to do with the investigation of the dossier and the FBI paying for
some information that is simply looks like opposition research? Is there a
conflict of interest there? That`s what I have to worry about right now
because there`s plenty of investigation on the Russian influence under the
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. One quick question, if you were a betting man,
what`s more likely to happen this year, healthcare, a repeal of Obamacare
and some replacement, or tax reform?
GRASSLEY: Or they`ll both going to happen this year. Number one, tax
reform, because it could be done in a better way that Republicans are
united. And, two, because of the death spiral of Obamacare, we`ve got to
do something to save healthcare for the American people because they aren`t
going to get it within a year or two under Obamacare.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you very much for joining us, sir.
GRASSLEY: Thank you very much. Glad to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now to President Trump, he`s digging his heels in more –
continues to stand by his thus far unverified wiretapping claims by
President Obama. In a new interview, President Trump is saying, quote, the
one about being in quotes wire tapped, meaning surveilled. Guess what, it
is turning out to be true. And then, this morning the president went on
another tweet storm starting at the crack of dawn, 5:15 AM, slamming
Hillary Clinton and praising a Fox News segment tweeting quote, such
amazing reporting on unmasking and the crooked scheme against us by Fox &
Friends. He added, spied on before nomination. The real story. All that
busy early morning presidential tweet before this story came up from
Bloomberg that former national security advisor Susan Rice requested the
identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports that connect to the
Donald Trump transition and campaign. Now that Bloomberg story reported
that Rice did this on dozen of occasions. And despite the Bloomberg
report, today, Devin Nunes, the chairman of the house intelligence
committee would not confirm that it was Susan Rice who requested that
unmasking. But Senator Rand Paul tweeted, quote, smoking gun found. Obama
pal and noted dissembler, Susan Rice, said to be spying on Trump campaign.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sean Spicer would not go that far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah, I saw Senator Paul`s
tweet. Look, I think – I want to make sure I`m clear and consistent. I
think we`ve been trying to say that from the get-go that there`s been an
ongoing investigation that we have supported looking into this matter. I
will say that we have continued to say, I think, there is a troubling
direction some of this is going in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: With the Ambassador Michael McFaul, he served as the U.S.
ambassador for Russia 2012 to 2014, and also NBC`s intelligence and
national security reporter, Ken Dilanian. Ken, first to you, explain –
set out the facts of what this new story is on Susan Rice and the
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS: Sure, Greta. Well, the first thing we should say
is there no evidence whatsoever in that story that anything inappropriate
occurred. I`ve been speaking to officials how this process of so-called
unmasking works and it`s very routine. And the important thing to know
about it is that only the sources of the information, the intelligence,
whether it`s the national security agency, the CIA or the FBI. Only they
can grant the unmasking. Officials can request it. For example I
interviewed former NSA director Keith Alexander last week, and he told me
he routinely turned down request to unmasked. What are we talking about
unmasked? If a foreigner is talking to another foreigner and their under
surveillance and they mention an American, that name has to be blacked out
in the intelligence report, unless there`s a good intelligence reason to
learn the name, and often there is a good intelligence reason. And when
you think back to when this occurred, this was the transition. Everyone in
the world was talking about Donald Trump and his aides and what jobs they
might take, and who`s up and who`s down? And if the NSA had foreigners
under surveillance, we`re speaking about Donald Trump and his aides, there
may be occasion where Susan Rice or anyone else asked to have a name
unmasked and it`s perfectly legitimate. For example, if two Chinese
officials were talking about a particular Trump aide, this is hypothetical,
and they say, hey, we can do business with this guy, we have a relationship
dating back a few years. You know that might be an interesting thing for
people to know. For intelligence reason, not for political reason, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, for all I know that you`re also friends –
friends with Susan Rice or professionally, what do you make of all this?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Where to start, Greta. And I
know, Eli Lake, the person that reported for Bloomberg, and let`s just
state from the beginning, we heard a lot of people testify and make
statements about 10 days ago about how awful it is that leakers are
providing classified information. Eli`s story was based on people leaking
classified information. So it appears that when it`s convenient they
likely course, and when it`s inconvenient they don`t. Number two, just
what Ken said is exactly right. I worked for three years at the national
security council before going to Moscow. There could be, I don`t know the
facts here and I hope our intelligence committees will get to the bottom of
the facts, but there most certainly could be intelligence reason, not
political reasons, why you would want to know about those kinds of
connections. At the top of your show you`ve just heard about an incredible
story of an American traveling to Seychelles to meet with a Putin confidant
to talk about what? If that was an intercepted phone call, somebody might
want to know what is going on in there.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, to me – I`ve never seen this intelligence
report, but I imagine if something like – you know, this Russian person
talked this unnamed American or something to that effect.
MCFAUL: Exactly right.
VAN SUSTEREN: I`ve guess they`re contacts because what difference it would
be if someone talked unnamed American. I mean, what gives you the
privilege to unmask or have the authority or the substantive reasons. It
can`t simply be because it`s someone talking to a Russian. Doesn`t it have
to be more?
MCFAUL: Correct. It has to be more. And we`ve heard from FBI director
Comey that there has been an ongoing counter-intelligence investigation of
all these connections. So it`s not like it`s just some – that drama that
we now heard about on the record from Director Comey, that investigation
was already happening well before the election. Why anybody – and I want
to be clear, I don`t know what Susan Rice did. I think we should, you
know, let the investigators find that out. But one could easily imagine if
you`re in charge of national security affairs that you might want to know
about these kinds of contacts before January 20th.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ken, I guess it would make a difference to me, too, whether
this is an isolated event or whether this is something routine, whether she
asked for a lot of them, whether it`s done all the time. Sometimes when we
isolate these stories, they`re taken out of perspective. We don`t have a
lot of information to go around this.
DILANIAN: I think you`re absolutely right, Greta. That was my reaction
when I read it. How often does this happen? And does she doing this
monthly and what are the reasons? I guess it`s conceivable that there
could be something inappropriate that happened here. Although, I have to
say, you know, I`m a little curious, if these documents did show that Susan
Rice was engaging in inappropriate conduct, wouldn`t the White House want
to release them to the full intelligence committees, to both parties,
instead of just giving them to Devin Nunes? That`s what I`m little confuse
about. Because there are Democrats like (INAUDIBLE) talking for years
about the perils of inadvertent surveillance of U.S. persons and are
Americans caught up in NSA surveillance. They really care about this
issue. It`s a civil liberty issue. It is a legislate issue, but I wonder
why these documents were only given to Devin Nunes, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: We haven`t seen – to get a whole lot more facts as we keep
digging for it. Thank you, gentlemen, both. And moments ago, NBC News
catching up with President Trump in the oval office. With me NBC`s Kristen
Welker from the White House, who`ve just spoke with the president.
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: It was extraordinary, Greta. President Trump
spoke with me for a few moments from the oval office. I had the chance to
ask him about healthcare, the fact that, of course, his initial push for
healthcare reform was defeated. And he said, look, he`s still negotiating.
He is still trying to get a deal. Of course, we know he went golfing with
Senator Rand Paul over the weekend. I asked him about that meeting. He
said it went well. I asked him if they discussed specifics, and he said
they did in fact discuss specifics, wouldn`t get into what those specifics
were. But he said, look, this notion that he`s not read in on the details
is just simply false. He said he`s been read in on all of the little
nitty-gritty details all along. And I`ve tried to get him to characterize
how serious this effort is to revive healthcare. He indicated he`s very
serious about it. And, in fact, Hallie Jackson reporting that Vice
President Mike Pence met with some house leaders as well, discussed the
possibility of reviving healthcare reform, and came away from that meeting
with a very positive sense that there is potentially something they can get
done. I met with some committee heads as well during that meeting. So,
there seems to be a real shift here and a sense that healthcare not
necessarily dead. Of course, there`s the reality, the fact that they also
want to do tax reform, infrastructure potentially, but the president really
trying to send a message that he`s serious about reviving these talks on
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Kristen – I mean, that`s incredible that we`re
getting this insight into the president. But how did you happen to get
into the oval office to talk to the president? I mean, that`s seems
WELKER: I was speaking with one of his staffers, and I think that he sort
of was aware of the fact we were there, invited us in, clearly, wanted to
talk about healthcare. And I got to ask him a few questions. It was a
very brief meeting, Greta. But, nonetheless, this message that he does
feel as though he can get something done. One other headline, I asked him
if he felt as though he could work with Democrats, and He said, he feels
like right now it would be tough to work with Democrats because there`s so
much tension, raw emotion, particularly over Neil Gorsuch. So he seemed to
indicate that his best chance for getting something done would be working
with Republicans, going back to the freedom caucus, the Tuesday group, the
moderate and conservative groups that he was talking with before, he seemed
to indicate there was some room there for some progress, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Kristen, thank you. And that president certainly is
accessible. It`s unusual. Anyway, thank you. Still ahead, very tough
words for the man leading the house investigation to Russia hacking, with
all that has happened, is chairman Nunes still capable of a bipartisan
probe? One top Republican says, no. And here`s a stunner, President Trump
now claiming he never wanted a healthcare vote despite what Kristen just
reported. And that`s not all, he is making big news about his twitter
habits. I`m going to talk to the journalist who sat down with the
president face-to-face about that. And this could be extremely dangerous,
many wondering tonight, is North Korea on the edge of firing a nuclear
ballistic missile. New warning coming just days before President Trump
holds a critical summit with China.
VAN SUSTEREN: The White House is talking a lot about leaks and unmasking.
But two Republican senators are vowing to stay focused on Russia`s meddling
in the 2016 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: If somebody was unfairly unmasked and some transition
member was surveilled after the election and unfairly unmasked, I want to
get to the bottom of that. While all these issues are important, the big
issue is what are we going to about Russia`s attempt to interfere in our
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Every time we turn around another shoe drops from this
centipede. And we need to examine all the aspects of it. If we`re really
going to get to the bottom of these things, it`s got to be done in a
bipartisan fashion. And as far as I can tell, Congressman Nunes killed
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Some very stern words from the Republican chairman leading
the house investigation to Russia hacking. The political battle lines
between right and left on stark display.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Any time anybody jeopardizes the privacy rights of an
American citizen and then leaks that information, that`s potentially a
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: That really obscures the much, much larger issue of
what did the Russians do in our campaign.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: There`s nothing ordinary about the process that was
used here at all. I would tell people whenever they see the president use
the word fake it ought to set off alarm bells.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: With me Jim VandeHei, co-founder of Axios, and Jeff Mason
White House correspondent from Reuters. Jeff, tell me this, the White
House – is that the president tells Kristen Welker tonight that healthcare
is still possible, but he said he doesn`t think he can work with
Republicans, so it sounds like he wants to nab the freedom caucus and maybe
the more libertarians like Senator Rand Paul, he golfed with. Do you have
a sense that the White House healthcare is going to happen?
JEFF MASON, REUTERS: I mean, I think they want to signal that he`s going
to continue to keep his promises, and that`s one of the biggest promises
that he made as a candidate. And yet, when healthcare failed he said he`s
going to move on to tax reform. So, it`s interesting now, I think, they`re
just trying to keep it in the air. That it`s something he`s still very
interested in, and starts to see what kind of movement he can get either
from the Republicans or potentially from some Democrats.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jim, what happened? I mean, he has the Republicans, they
had plenty of time to get this healthcare bill done, and it has fallen
apart. I mean, what sort of the political landscape?
JIM VANDEHEI, CO-FOUNDER, AXIOS: Well, obviously, he had not put a lot of
forethought into it. So he let Republicans in the house take the lead.
They failed. I don`t know that it`s completely dead, it`s mostly dead.
The reason that you heard the president saying this today, there has been a
flurry of meetings between the freedom caucus and key members of the White
House, where they`re trying to figure out is there a compromise, or
something to sell as a compromise, that might turn over more authority to
the states, and get more authority to HHS on some of the regulatory
components. Not that they can go on and pass next week, but they can take
home over recess and say, listen, we`re still at it, we`re still trying to
get a solution on healthcare. They feel embarrassed that with all
Republican rule they couldn`t get a victory. And they understand it, not
just healthcare was difficult is that the next month is a really difficult
month. You can have a government shutdown if they can`t figure out how to
bring the party together on how to fund the government without getting into
tricky political topics.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. But every time you pick off a member of the
freedom caucus or several of them do, you give them something to sort of
make this healthcare bill more attractive. You`re taking something away
from the more moderate Republicans who are worried about Medicaid
expansion. Who are worried about credits for people who needs extra help
in paying for healthcare. It`s almost like every freedom caucus person you
pick off you`re going to lose a moderate Republican. So you`re not that
much better off.
MASON: That`s exactly right. And that`s what happened for last time when
they try to get this done. And you saw him talking to both sides and they
got basically sending the whole thing into the trash can.
VANDEHEI: And I don`t think you can really fix that long term. That`s why
he`s probably not going to sign a bill into law. The very fact that you
talked about it is that you can placate the conservative, but then you`re
going to lose the senate. What they need is something they can take home,
at least to say to their constituents that we`re still at it. We have some
kind of bill to work at. You cannot end the first 100 days and say, oh,
all we got was a Supreme Court justice, not that that`s not a huge victory,
it is for the conservative movement. But legislatively that`s pretty
disappointing when you have all Republicans rule. You can do a lot in this
town when you have all Republican rule. If you put all thought into it,
and you have a strategy for getting it done. Ask George Bush. Ask Barack
Obama. Had much more success early on, understanding how to leverage the
power they have.
MASON: Well, politically, is very dangerous to make such a big promise,
and to make it sort of the cornerstone.
VAN SUSTEREN: That`s the least of them. I mean, I have a whole laundry
list I can give you.
MASON: Yeah, but that was a big one. And that`s one that he – his
supporters expected him to be able to do. And he said he would do it on
VAN SUSTEREN: But it`s not reasonable because he had all the Republicans,
he had Speaker Ryan who said – in some ways, I`m sympathetic to the
president because he outsourced it to the hill, but the hill seem to have
this – I think it appears that the house said we`ve got this taken care of
MASON: Well I think it goes to show if you make a promise you have to be
able to know what`s in your back pocket to be able to fulfill it.
VANDEHEI: That is letting the president off a little bit. If he ran a
transition the way a president typically runs the transition, they would
have thought what we can get through. What can we get done to crate
legislative momentum? You could think that maybe, the actual format or
infrastructure would be easier to health care.
VAN SUSTEREN: Most transitions start in the summer. I don`t think
President Trump actually thought he would need a transition team until the
night of the election.
MASON: He had a huge transition team.
VAN SUSTEREN: They picked it up.
VANDEHEI: They did start early and could have been working on it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did they get rid of that transition team, I mean that
was led by Chris Christie?
VANDEHEI: That was led by Christ Christie and then that he was purged and
Mike Pence took over after the election.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I should add that the president did say he had a
healthcare plan. I`m not so sure he did. He outsources it.
VANDEHEI: He doesn`t love policy specifics and that comment about
healthcare is complicated. Yeah, like Washington is complicated, tax
reform is complicated, infrastructure.
VANDEHEI: And I do think if he ever catches his rhythm, we`re talking
months away from now, because of the reason you talked about that there
wasn`t a normal transition and they really started the transition in the
last month or two and just starting to figure out who should be the staff
and either once they figure it out who the staff should be and the ideas
they`re interested in so much infighting and so much turmoil.
VAN SUSTEREN: By that time we`re at mid-terms. Anyway, thank you both.
Howard Dean is next talking healthcare and much more.
VAN SUSTEREN: We are back with breaking news, moments ago, NBC`s Kristen
Welker speaking to President Trump in of the Oval office and the big news,
the president saying he is serious about health care reform the said
reports he has given up on healthcare is false. The president is saying he
is talking to moderate and conservative Republicans and not reached out to
Democrats at this time because he believes they`re not likely to work with
him right now, with me, former Vermont Governor, former chair of the
Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean. Good evening, governor.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having me on.
VAN SUSTEREN: I had the thought the president was likely to reach across
the aisle to work with Democrats and health care, be seen that there is no
hope among his own party, because of some disparate in the house.
DEAN: Everyday is a different day. Who knows what he is going to do. I
think its unlikely healthcare comes back and the reason is I think it is
unlikely is, you know it won`t pass the senate. Too many senators up who
have huge Medicaid populations that will lose their health insurance. If
you were a member of the house, why would you walk the plank for a
president with a 37 percent favorability rating when you knew the bill
would get killed in the senate and think of all those ads? He voted to
take away your healthcare. I don`t see it coming back.
VAN SUSTEREN: Every time he reaches over and picks off someone in the
freedom caucus he loses the moderate Republicans and he loses the senate
vote at that point.
DEAN: And the 38 percent he doesn`t have a lot of leverage to scare
people. He tried that with the freedom caucus and they basically flipped
him the bird.
VAN SUSTEREN: What could he do for the Democrats? Where can they both
reach out to each other? At what point?
DEAN: Honestly, at this point, I think the atmosphere is so poisonous in
Washington I don`t think he can get anything done, I really don`t. The
things he had to say – Chuck Schumer is the consummate deal-maker and he
and Schumer could probably come to a deal about something. The fight
everyday that goes on, he doesn`t – he is not respectful of others and you
pay a price for that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is everything fine in the Democratic view with Obamacare in
the sense that nothing is done, it won`t collapse. When you hear the
Republicans say it will collapse and these things are going to happen. If
nothing is done, what is going to happen for everybody?
DEAN: Insurance costs will go up and insurers will leave markets. That is
a problem, why the public option –
VAN SUSTEREN: Problem or catastrophic?
DEAN: Not catastrophic, I mean it happens all over the place. There are
bigger parts of this country where the insurance premiums are going down
than up. This program is the flip side of what happened with part d of
Medicare, which the Republicans pushed through against the Democrats and it
actually came in under budget. Obamacare is substantially under budget.
It`s actually cost much less than the CBO said it was going to cost when it
VAN SUSTEREN: Ok, so people and the premiums go down, good for them and
good news. What about Arizona you hear rates have gone up 116 percent.
Why is that?
DEAN: I can`t tell you about Arizona, because I don`t know the insurance
market. They probably have an insurance commissioner not tough enough.
You don`t have to let the insurance companies do that. Eventually they
leave the market you have to have a substitute. That is the weakness of
the program. The substitute could have been Medicare for people under 65
but it wasn`t. There`s a fix. We should have let people buy into the
Medicare system and individual mandate is not needed. The insurance
companies love it. In theory you need it but most people do the smart
thing and most Americans won`t go bare without health insurance including
young people. There are fixes to that. There are fixes we could make to
Obamacare without all this crazy rhetoric and right wing non policy of Paul
VAN SUSTEREN: If there`s one thing you get to fix about Obamacare what
would you do?
DEAN: Public option.
VAN SUSTEREN: That involves insurance companies.
DEAN: Public option gives Americans the choice.
VAN SUSTEREN: Medicare is essentially public option.
DEAN: Medicare is the public option, you could buy Medicare, if you want
to stay in the private sector, and you buy an insurance policy. If you`d
rather keep an insurance company, because you think the private sector is
better you get to do it, but it keeps them from raising their prices
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think you and Senator Coburn could get in a room?
Tom is the best but he is really conservative.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think you could work it out the two of you?
DEAN: We could work a lot out but he fundamentally has some different
views that I –
VAN SUSTEREN: You would give it a shot?
DEAN: Yeah. He is a good guy, absolutely.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thanks for joining us.
DEAN: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ahead, the North Korean nuclear threat a defector is warning
the world, we are going to tell you, what he told NBC news.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump making some big news on China and North
Korea in an interview with “The Financial Times.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China has great influence
over North Korea and China will either decide to help us with North Korea
or they won`t. If they do, that will be very good for China. If they
don`t, it won`t be good for anyone. Well if China`s not going to solve
North Korea, we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump also talking about his tweets, saying,
quote, I don`t regret anything, because there is nothing you can do about
it. Saying his wiretapping claim is quote turning out to be true and the
president making news on the North Korean nuclear threat. With me, Demetri
Sevastopulo, Washington Bureau Chief of the Financial Times, he is one of
the reporters who interviewed President Trump, nice to see you, Demetri.
DEMETRI SEVASTOPULO, THE FINANCIAL TIMES: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I want to talk first about North Korea. He said
China will helps us or they won`t. What does that mean?
SEVASTOPULO: For number of years, the U.S. has been increasingly worried
about North Korean has the ability to hit the U.S. with a nuclear armed
long range missile. China has the most sway over North Korea, because it
provides the regime with food and fuel and the U.S. wants the China to do
more to essentially squeeze Pyongyang, but China has resisted for two
reasons. One, it`s worried about refugees pouring across the border if
North Korean implode and Second of all, it worried about the unification of
South and North Korea on the Korean Peninsula and U.S. troops moving up
towards the border with China. It hasn`t helped the U.S. as much as the
U.S. would like.
VAN SUSTEREN: The creeping by North Korea, they had all these nuclear
tests, a missile test all going in a bad direction which is why the
president is saying that. Even General Mattis was quite robust in his
statement. What is it he says we will do alone if we go alone?
SEVASTOPULO: He is very vague about it. The options are one end of the
spectrum. You could have a preemptive strike on the North Korean nuclear
facilities and on the other end of the spectrum, during the campaign he
said he would be willing to sit down with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean
dictator and have a hamburger with him. There are extremes in between you
could put sanctions on Chinese companies that deal with North Korea and
cyber attacks and other things. So the whole range of things you can do
and a lot have risks of damaging relationships with China and risk that
North Korea might retaliate by sending a bunch of missiles to Japan and
South Korea, which are the U.S. allies in the region.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you say about Health Care?
SEVASTOPULO: Health Care, he said I want the freedom caucus to come around
to my plan or to Paul Ryan`s plan and if they don`t, we`ll work with the
Democrats and have plan. And we will get there and I`ll have a victory.
VAN SUSTEREN: He is certain?
SEVASTOPULO: He said he will work with the Democrats but if they
filibuster Gorsuch this week hard to pick up and see how they will work
together on healthcare.
VAN SUSTEREN: He talked about his tweeting. He admits not all his tweets
are good. Was that the word he used?
SEVASTOPULO: I think the used the word clinker. He said he has hundreds
of tweets and if you have one clinker that is ok. He called out his social
media director in to the Oval office and he had 101 million followers. He
was very proud of that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does he see this ways to bypass the American, by pass to
immediate get to American people.
SEVASTOPULO: I don`t think he has any reservation or whatsoever, I mean he
does it almost every day. He does it on a weekend.
VAN SUSTEREN: He does it himself. Is there any question he does it
SEVASTOPULO: I think some of them are from the aides and the social media
director does some of them, but there is doubt some of them are written by
VAN SUSTEREN: Those 5:15 a.m. ones probably are his.
SEVASTOPULO: You can count on that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Demetri, thank you.
Developing tonight, NBC news exclusive, North Korea`s leader quote
desperate would strike the U.S. North Korea telling NBC`s Lester Holt that
interview and reaction from General Bob Scales that is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THAE YONG HO, NORTH KOREA DEFECTOR: Kim Jong-un has nuclear weapons and
ICBMS, you know he could do anything, plus he sees that there is any kind
of sign of, you know, kind of attack of imminent threat from America, the
he would use it, you know his nuclear weapons, you know with ICBM.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: North Korea`s leader is desperate and would strike the U.S.
with nuclear weapons if he felt threaten and he has the capability. That
is the chilling new claim from a former North Korea diplomat who deflected
last summer. The Defector is now speaking exclusively to NBC`s Lester
Holt. The reason North Korea has conducted multiple missile tests as a
consequence to the growing aggression by North Korea. Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson has said military action is on the table. With me Major
General Bob Scales, nice to see you, general.
MAJ. GEN. BOB SCALES, RETIRED U.S. ARMY: Hi, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess every Secretary Defense would say all options of the
table all the time. That is not unusual. Does China want to help us?
SCALES: Not really. I think they`re a little nervous about Kim Jong-un,
because he is a sociopath, but just think for a minute, the fact that we
have American forces in South Korea and they`re not focused against China.
They have a buffer between United States and China and Korea. They also
need to keep this regime alive, if North Korea implodes for any reason,
what are they going to run. They`re going to run into China and that would
lead to disaster for the Chinese government. Other than the fact that Kim
Jong-un is driving him nuts, right now I think the Chinese are standing
VAN SUSTEREN: They`re creeping towards nuclear weapon militarizing it.
One of the things that I think sort of gets lost in the shuffle, they have
all those weapons at the DMZ and they have – what could they do – what
could they do to solve?
SCALES: We get so hung up on the ICBM missile deal, this is a 1960s
artillery based army that I able to put right across the DMZ and this
harden caves 15,000 weapons, 15,000 combination of artillery and missiles
and they can shoot all the way to the hot river, which means –
VAN SUSTEREN: They can easily get solved.
SCALES: They can threaten 50 percent of the South Korean population which
is in the vicinity of Seoul. Before we get too hung up on missiles, we
ought to start worrying about their conventional threat, which is enormous.
VAN SUSTEREN: I Remember the – thought we were going to be the parade.
We didn`t get that. This wasn`t World War II and deliberation. This
wasn`t that. Some people think, I don`t agree with this but some people
think that if we go into North Korea in any form, the DPR, that they`ll –
SCALES: Absolutely not true.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think they`ll dig their heels.
SCALES: They`ve had 70 years of living in a prison where they have been
bombarded with propaganda by three generations of Kim`s. These are people
who view the Kim`s as gods, the idea that somehow we could intervene in
North Korea with the South Koreans and have a victory parade in Pyongyang,
not going to happen.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think that is what makes it more. We`re not liberating
people if we go in there and do anything. We`re not liberating them.
SCALES: We should have learned that lesson in Iraq. It would be 10 times
worse in North Korea. It`s psychologically damaged. 25 million people
worshipping one guy.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which means it is more dangerous, thank you – thank you
very much. And coming up, I have been misled and now I am setting the
record straight. I`ll tell you, next.
VAN SUSTEREN: I have something to say for the record, and it`s actually a
bit of a public service announcement. It`s the head of the impending show
down in U.S. Senate. I have been misled. As a consequence, you got
misled. Don`t get all revved up and firing off those tweets on me, no one
died. But I will tell you what happened, it`s about President Trump`s
Supreme Court nominee, here is how I first said his name it looked and
sounded correct to me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: The two candidates, at least we think they are, Gorsuch,
Hardiman, Neil Gorsuch, and Judge Neil Gorsuch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, as days marched on someone told me I was wrong, that I
should pronounce it like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump Supreme Court Judge Gorsuch, Judge Gorsuch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Ok, Gorsuch, whatever, what thing is absolutely clear, I`m
not the only one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to meet Judge Neil Gorsuch.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president announced his pick of the Supreme Court
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one could have chosen better than Neil Gorsuch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a good meeting with nominee Gorsuch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So what is it? Well during day two of the
confirmation hearing Senator Tom confused himself decided to get to the
bottom of it all, once and for all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please pronounce your last name?
NEIL GORSUCH, JUDGE OF U.S. COURT OF APPEALS: I`ve answered a lot of
things Senator. Gorsuch is how I say it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had probably different cheat sheets with different
phonetic, Gorsuch. For everybody in the audience, it`s Gorsuch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, Gorsuch and now I have my own cheat sheet right here,
Gorsuch, by the way that is the e at the end of Susteren and sometimes I
just sort of slur right over it. Thanks for watching. I`ll see you back
here tomorrow night 6:00 p.m. Eastern. If you can`t watch live, set your
DVR and follow me on twitter, because you know why you love twitter, that
is the one place you go on and say the meanest, nastiest things to me.
Anyway, enjoy the rest of the evening. “Hardball” with Chris Matthews
starts right now.
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