For the Record with Greta, Transcript 4/28/2017
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Actually, you never know who else`s doppelganger
we have got behind the scenes. We will be back on Monday with MTP Daily.
Don`t forget to catch meet the press this Sunday, one on one, Mike Pence
and everybody. For the record with Greta starts right now. Greta will not
miss meet the press. She promises me.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, MSNBC HOST: I promise. Especially with Vice-President
Pence, it`s going to be a great interview. I`m dying to see that.
TODD: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, have a great weekend, Chuck. We have breaking news.
Moments ago, North Korea doing it again, launching yet another ballistic
missile just north of Pyongyang, officials say the missile exploded soon
after launch. It is the 9th missile launched since President Trump took
office. This comes just hours after North Korea broadcasting a new
propaganda video, intended to be provocative, massive artillery exercises
and this, after the stern warning from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: It is likely a matter of time before
North Korea develops the capability to strike the U.S. main land. The more
we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it. We must increase North
Korea`s financial isolation, diplomatic and financial levers of power will
be backed up by willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, we have correspondents covering this breaking new story
all across the globe. NBC`s Kelly Cobiella is live in Seoul, South Korea.
KELLY COBIELLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Greta, we first got word of this about
half an hour ago, North Korea launching a missile from the southwestern
part of the country. We understand from U.S. officials that it was
unsuccessful, that it exploded shortly after launch. They say it was a
short-range missile, so, for example, a missile able to reach Seoul, but
not able to reach Japan. One senior official saying the excitement level
at the White House is low, that they were expecting this. They were
watching it. And they are not particularly surprised. But this is the
second launch within two weeks, essentially, the last launch also failing
shortly after – moments after the missile was launched, so, North Korea
clearly here acting out after the very strong statements by President Trump
on Thursday. Expecting a major, major conflict, they`re saying a major
conflict was possible here and then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson`s
activity at the United Nations yesterday trying to push for tougher
sanctions, really put the pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear
program. So, again, just to recap there, Greta, we understand from senior
U.S. officials, this was a short-range missile. The launch was attempted
about half an hour ago from the southwest part of the country. It exploded
shortly after launch, according to the South Koreans, exploded in mid-air
and the White House saying not really surprised by this. Greta?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Kelly, it`s easy for the White House and the United
States to not be too unnerved by this. Short range puts you right in
range. It puts 11 to 13 million people in South Korea at range if this
were successful. How are the people of South Korea taking it? Realizing
just waking up to this news, but I imagine they feel a lot different than
we do here in the United States.
COBIELLA: Well, this is yet another in a long series of test launches, as
you mentioned at the top of the show here. This is something that happens
with relative frequency in this region. South Koreans are aware this kind
of thing happens. That is why the South Korean military is often watching
it. I have to say, Greta, I`ve been here for a couple of weeks now, and
the feeling here is really not one necessarily of nervousness among the
general population. Of course you have a different perspective, slightly
different perspective when it comes to the governments. The South Koreans
are constantly keeping an eye on this. They`re watching for moves from Kim
Jong-un and North Korea, understanding that he is unpredictable, that he
has been threatening this 6th nuclear test. But that nuclear test or tests
of an inter-continental ballistic missile which has not yet happened, those
are really the two very concerning items that the South Koreans and the
world really are watching. In terms of a short-range missile test, this
is, yes, a concern here in South Korea, but less of one than, say, a
nuclear test or an ICBM test, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Kelly, thank you. Now let`s go to NBC`s Hans Nichols, our
correspondent at the Pentagon. Hans, sooner or later if North Korea is
going to get this right, this is a short-range, apparently blew up right
after it took off. Sooner or later short range will get Seoul, South
Korea, maybe the people aren`t disturbed because they`re used to it. This
HANS NICHOLS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is risky. The question, Greta,
is whether or not they have the technology to marry their nuclear
capabilities with their ballistic capabilities. And you get different
views in here whether or not they`ve miniaturized a nuclear war head. It
doesn`t look like a consensus of the intelligence community that they have
miniaturized. There is an open question on that. For things to look for
in the next two, three, even 24 hours you`ll likely get statements out of
various commands, something like pacific commands, nor a. They`ll likely
say these tests were not success. Speaking to an official here saying the
missile did not leave North Korean territory. I think we need to look at
what the overall strategic response is. And we`ve seen muted, almost one,
two-line statements either out of the defense department or the state
department basically saying the time for talk is over. So, I would be on
the lookout for the brevity of the statement tonight, whether it comes from
the department of defense or department of state. Wouldn`t expect anything
necessarily from the White House that hasn`t been their protocol to weigh
in every time and then after that I would look for what the statement
doesn`t say. And we heard a lot from Secretary Tillerson overnight talking
about the need for one on one talks. So, that is what I`ll be looking for
here in the coming moments. It looks pretty clear and the South Koreans
are saying it wasn`t a threat.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. What is the status on the THAAD missile defense
in South Korea? I realize it wouldn`t be a defense to the artillery they
have on the border. What is the status of the THAAD missile defense?
NICHOLS: It will be operational in just a few days. We heard that in
testimony from Admiral Harris just a few days it will be initially
operational. Now, they still have a long way to go to have a complete
umbrella, but it will be initially operational in just a few days.
VAN SUSTEREN: Of course, China is not happy about the THAAD missile
defense in South Korea which is a whole another dynamic. Hans, thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell is at the White House. Kelly?
KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL: Well, Greta, as we heard from our
other colleagues, no real statement from the White House yet. I can tell
you the president returned to the south lawn on marine one about 15 minutes
ago. There was a group of reporters and photographers waiting for him
there to capture his return after a day in Atlanta. He did not respond to
questions about North Korea. We`ve been advised by White House officials
that there could be a statement coming from the White House. At the same
time, as Hans was pointing out, we`ve seen recently in other instances
involving North Korea, the statement from the U.S. Government has not
necessarily come from the White House, but instead most recently through
the department of defense. Part of that was intentional to try to sort of
de-escalate the direct President Trump to President Kim Jong-un connection,
to put less attention on what North Korea is doing by not giving it the
sort of letterhead of the White House in framing a statement from the U.S.
Government. So, at this point we will wait to see if there are any
additional comments from U.S. officials, the president is back home. We
watched him go into the residence and then make the walk around the
colonnade toward the oval office. We now wait for an official word.
With his interview with Reuters, marking the 100th day, this is the 99th
day. He did talk of a major concern about a conflict with North Korea.
So, these kinds of provocations are a continuing agitation on the world
stage as the U.S. is bracing for how to deal with North Korea. The
president most notably has been talking about his new friendship with
President Xi of China, trying to get China`s influence, their ability to
really exert leverage on North Korea to back down. The great concern, of
course, is as the capability of North Korea expands, could they have a
delivery system for a nuclear weapon that could at some point over the next
few years reach the west coast of the United States and the much more
immediate concern affects our allies in the region and of course the 30,000
American troops stationed in that part of the world. So, it is a grave
concern. It is something that the Trump administration is grappling with.
The question tonight will there be much of a statement or a much muted
response, if any at all, officially from here at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
after this has occurred. So, the president, we presume, is getting briefed
and we will see if there is any further comment from the White House.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Kelly. Gordon Chang is an Asia expert of nuclear
showdown. North Korea takes on the world. And Oren Dorell A foreign
affairs reporter for USA today, Oren, first to you, the deputy U.N.
Ambassador said today that U.S. efforts to get rid of his country`s nuclear
weapons through military threats and sanctions are a wild dream, according
to reporting by the A.P. He wills going on to say nuclear weapons are not
part of deals and continues in a nutshell DPR meaning North Korea had
already declared not to attend any talks to discuss nuclear abandonment,
OREN DORELL, USA TODAY: Well, the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today
also said that he – the United States would not be interested in joining
North Korea in talks until North Korea takes steps to cut back on its
nuclear missile program. So, it seems like at this point they`re at an
impasse. But the – at the United Nations we heard the Secretary of State,
talk about increasing pressure, and maximum economic pressure on North
Korea. And frankly, I think that the North Koreans are vulnerable if the
United States falls through on its threats. They want the Chinese to cut
back on – to fully implement the U.N. Security council resolutions that
impose sanctions on North Korea. They are saying that these sanctions are
not being fully implemented. And if they – if the Chinese don`t, then
there`s all kinds of things the Americans can do.
VAN SUSTEREN: Gordon, people seem to think that China is going to want to
jump in and help us, but haven`t done it so far. I mean, it`s been a weak
response in North Korea. And people think if we tighten up the sanctions
on North Korea, that because they are already so impoverished, the fact
they will starve to death and won`t have anything to eat, that that makes a
difference. Thinking that Kim Jong-un cares about his people or even I
think ignoring the fact that many people from North Korea I think would
find it quite noble to stand up to the great United States and even starve
to death. I don`t think – I think we`re hoping China is going to save us.
I don`t see it. Do you?
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR OF NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: Well, I don`t see it right now.
I mean, President Trump is trying to cultivate the Chinese with very
friendly words today and in the past. But the question is what happens
when Beijing doesn`t help us? And Secretary Tillerson in his comments at
the security council today reiterated something that administration
officials have been saying now for the last four or five weeks, and that is
that the United States is prepared to impose secondary sanctions on
countries like China. And this could clearly be Chinese banks that have
been involved in North Korea`s commerce. This is going to change the
dynamic of the relationship with Beijing across all the fronts. It will
affect South China Sea, Taiwan, predatory trade practices, you name it.
So, I see the crisis in north Asia getting much worse as Beijing does not
come to the table.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. When we talk about the sanctions and having
secondary sanctions and having the banks and China, everybody does business
with North Korea, does that not have an impact even on commerce here in the
United States? Because so many people in the United States do business
CHANG: Well, it certainly will have an impact on commerce with China,
because the Chinese will retaliate and they probably will go after U.S.
companies doing business in China. But we actually hold the upper hand,
because we don`t have an economy that is geared to selling things to China,
whereas China has an economy geared to selling things to the United States.
We ran a $347 billion trade deficit with China last year, and that really
gives us the upper hand. Trump doesn`t want to use it, understandable, but
nonetheless, if you believe that the North Koreans pose an essential threat
to the U.S., we will do whatever is possible including sanctioning Chinese
banks and enterprises.
VAN SUSTEREN: Oren, I would bet my right arm tonight or this morning in
Pyongyang that they are celebrating even this failed launch, that the guy
who just got executed for the failed launch. But I bet they are
celebrating that at the propaganda, it shows the prowess of the DPRK.
We`re cowering. It`s a great way for North Korea to be pedaled there.
DORELL: I`m sure they are celebrating the fact we`re talking about it for
sure. Their propaganda is reaching the American audience because their
goal is to scare people here and to prevent or deter what`s coming, which I
think is a pretty well-developed sanctions campaign by this administration.
There are these – the North Koreans in their recent parade April 15th,
they portrayed all these trucks. They were built by a Chinese joint
venture. The missile company had to be involved in the design of the
trucks. That company is likely probably you know, likely to face American
sanctions in the near future. There are – there was a report recently
that showed that the North Koreans are producing lithium 6 which together
with mercury, which they`re also producing, is a substance that is used to
make hydrogen bombs and nuclear weapons. Again, that technology was
transferred from China. So, the companies and the people who were involved
in transferring that technology are likely to face U.S. sanctions.
VAN SUSTEREN: Gordon, I fear that we oftentimes look at North Korea
through our own eyes. Why wouldn`t they just give up the nuclear weapons?
They can join the rest of the world. This would be great. They would love
it, that kind of thing. But that this nation is really hermetically sealed
from the world. They spend so much time celebrating their greatness and
celebrating our wickedness. And I just don`t know – I cannot see how we
possibly get to the people of North Korea when they idolize seemingly
falsely Kim Jong-un and his father and grandfather. How do we get to them?
CHANG: We get to them through aid programs, having American aid workers
running around North Korea.
VAN SUSTEREN: But you can`t – even that is hard. Aid, you have to go
through the state department with existing sanctions. NGO`s had a
difficult time, because we`re trying to starve them out, even aid programs.
This is not like so many other nations where we can get in there and say,
look, we`re so generous, we`re trying to help.
CHANG: Sure. And we can also take U.S. beef steaks and circulate them
through North Korean society. There are all sorts of things we can do if
we decide that regime change is on the table. Secretary Tillerson today
said that it is not. The one thing about this missile launch, Greta, which
I think is significant, even though it failed, even though it was only an
intermediate range missile, is essentially the North Koreans are extremely
defiant. They shot this off while Secretary Tillerson was talking at the
U.N. That is an indication of what they think of the United States and by
implication what they think of our efforts with regard to Beijing. So,
this shows their mentality right now, and that mentality is to fight us
through all of these stages. This is going to be a very difficult campaign
for the Trump administration.
VAN SUSTEREN: I should say that they are watching us very closely.
They`re watching Tillerson. They gave me a hard time about something
written in the “the New York times” when I was there, which I had nothing
to do with which was sort of something random. They are watching us like a
hawk. Anyway, gentlemen, thank you both.
CHANG: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump sounding and looking a lot like candidate
Trump at the NRA meeting in Georgia. Boasting attack and making promises.
But on the eve of the 100th day are voters losing patients with those
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What fun that was, November
8. Was that a great evening? You remember that evening?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Also at the state department trying too big foot even censor
the ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. Her tough talk may have put her at
odds with her boss, Secretary Tillerson and the Attorney General standing
by the presence attack on the judiciary. We`ll talk about Harvard law
school professor Alan Dershowitz, all of that. Plus you do not want to
miss this. Michael Flynn`s former number 2 is here. He is outraged. He
will tell you why.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ok. Are you kidding me? President Trump just learning the
job is hard? Yeah, that is what the president just said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I loved my previous life. I loved my previous life. I had so many
things going. I actually – this is more work than in my previous life. I
thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of a – I`m a details
oriented person. I think you would say that, but I do miss my old life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, duh. Of course, the president is tough. Did he think
it would be easy?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Somebody said why are you doing it? And I say because, seriously,
we`re going to make America great again. It`s going to be easy. It`s
going to be easy. It`s so – it`s going to be easy.
That is why I`m doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Easy. Well, he now says he got that one wrong. But I give
the president credit for being transparent candidate, letting us inside his
head telling us his thoughts. This afternoon the old President Trump came
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A false standard, 100 days, but I have to tell you, anybody has
done what we`ve been able to do in 100 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that is just not so. He has had some major
accomplishments like Justice Gorsuch. He has had zero legislative wins.
He did not deliver on any of his big campaign trail legislative promises.
And why is he even comparing himself to other presidents? Why is being
president now a contest? Well, the media does that, too, making it a
contest, a game. But being president is not a contest, it`s about
governing. Moving the country forward and protecting us from those who
want to hurt us. And no matter how many things President Trump promised
and bragged about on the campaign trail, that remain unfulfilled today, and
there are many unfulfilled promises, President Trump is not the least bit
worried because make no mistake about it, President Trump still has his
base and they were really fired up today in Georgia at the NRA convention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Time to get tough. It`s time we finally got smart. And, yes, it`s
also time to put America first.
We need a wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Build the wall!
TRUMP: We`ll build the wall. Don`t even think about it. Don`t even
think about it. Don`t even think about it. That is an easy one. We`re
going to build the wall.
Let me make a simple promise to every one of the freedom-loving Americans
in the audience today. As your president, I will never, ever infringe on
the right of the people to keep and bear arms, never, ever.
I can proudly say I will never, ever let you down. Thank you. God bless
you. God bless our constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: As we near the 100 day mark, that is tomorrow, do any of his
supporters feel let down, maybe, maybe not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I will repeal and replace Obamacare.
My first day in office, I`m going to ask congress to put a bill on my desk
getting rid of this disastrous law.
I`m disappointed that it doesn`t go quicker.
On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable physical, tall,
powerful, beautiful southern border wall.
Mexico will pay for the wall.
I`m going to start building. Mexico in some form – and there are many
different forms – will reimburse us and they will reimburse us for the
cost of the wall.
NATO is obsolete. It`s old. It`s fat. It`s sloppy. And we`re giving
countries a free run –
I said it was obsolete. It`s no longer obsolete.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: With me New York congressman House Democratic caucus,
Chairman Joe Crowley, former Vermont Governor and Democratic National
Committee Chairman Howard Dean, and 2016 presidential candidate for
independent party Evan McMullin. Evan, first to you, look, and 100 days is
constructing. And if he does get health care or tax reform pass the, no
one will remember if he got it done in the first 100 days or not. It`s far
it`s fair to say it`s not as easy as he thought it was and he admits it.
EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I think that is true.
He does admit by his own admission, this is harder than he thought it would
be. I think he is in over his head. But I think his supporters priced
that into the experience to a degree and that is why you don`t see his
support base shrinking too far. I mean, it`s already relatively small. It
certainly hasn`t expanded. That is a problem. But I think people who sent
Donald Trump to Washington, they are looking for disruption in Washington,
and they are still willing to let him figure it out. How long that is
going to last, I don`t know. But they`re still with him.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor has the president – he still has his base. What
do you make of that?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: I think Evan is exactly right. I think
his base is hard core. They really – they sort of expected him not to be
truthful. They sort of knew that. It`s baked in. But his base is not
that big. He has 38 percent favorability. You can peel a little more off
of that. Don`t forget Richard Nixon had a 29 percent positivity rating on
the day he resigned in disgrace. President Trump is 9 points away from
that. I think, you know, I think he is in over his head, I agree, Evan`s
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, obviously you`re a Democrat, opposing Party.
Tell me what has President Trump did that you think is recently good, what
are you critical of at this point?
JOE CROWLEY, DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIR: I think he may have come into new
adage. If you don`t succeed in your first 100 days, double down on your
rhetoric. I don`t think that is a good thing to do quite frankly right
now. It`s very difficult for me to give an honest assessment of what he is
done in a positive way. I guess we haven`t gone to war. That is probably
a good thing, you know. It really has been a disappointing first 100 days.
I think people feel very stressed, the attack on women, women`s rights, on
the environment. We`ve seen marches by women, by immigrants, by
scientists, by environmentalists. It`s really hard for me to stretch to
find anything positive in the first 100 days.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, you know, it`s interesting. I called the
president transparent. His twitter, he goes directly to the American
people or to his 25, 50 million people following. He also gives a lot of
interviews. He says things off the top of his head, like well the job was
a lot harder than I thought it was. It`s sort of interesting that he
certainly is bringing us inside his head a lot.
DEAN: Well, except that most of the stuff he says on twitter is totally
untrue. I think his followers know it. You know, I just read a story in
the Manchester guardian pretty much hot off the press, it says the British
intelligence agencies have documentation of him – his campaign people
going over and meeting with Russian agents and arranging payment for doing
certain things to help the Russians hack, to pay for the hackers. I don`t
know if that is true, but the guardian is a pretty reputable paper. If
that turns out to be true, his presidency is over. Whether he gets
impeached or not is immaterial. He`ll have no credibility on the world
stage or at home. So, there`s a lot of stuff going on here that is a big
deal. He is in hot water every day. And he is lasted a lot longer than I
thought he was going to be. I thought he`d be gone after the first two or
three primaries. I have no track record on prediction, but the water gets
hotter and hotter every day for this guy.
VAN SUSTEREN: Evan, do you think he likes the job? I know he says it`s
harder. He misses his old life. It`s pretty early for buyers` remorse if
you miss your old life.
MCMULLIN: Yeah, but I can sympathize to a small degree having a life that
changes very quickly. Not in that scope, of course. But I believe that he
probably does miss his former life, where he had all the – he had many
trappings of wealth and privilege without half the responsibility. He is
got the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is got an FBI
investigation into his campaign. He is trying to keep quiet and hidden his
vast financial and undisclosed financial relationships around the world.
It`s no cake walk.
VAN SUSTEREN: It`s interesting, congressman, the way I think he looks at
the presidency, my observation, is through a business construct. He thinks
he is running a big corporation which is a little bit different than what
we`ve been accustomed to the last 200 plus years.
CROWLEY: I don`t think there is any question. Very complicated, some 500
entities from which he derives income from. That also brings us obviously
to, you know, a proposal does not an accomplishment make in terms of the
tax proposal he has put out. We know it is quite possible that he will
benefit enormously from that type of tax proposal. Greta, I won`t ever
have this problem in terms of my hair changing color. But you`ll see that
over and over again with presidents, the first four years, second four
years, they age very quickly. That is because there is an enormous amount
of stress that comes with that job. All of our jobs, but particularly the
presidency of the United States, he shouldn`t be that shocked.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, it certainly seems we`re doing a lot of saber
rattling with a very dangerous country, North Korea. Tonight is a report
they had a failed launch, nonetheless an attempted launch of a short-range
missile. This is his biggest challenge, frankly other presidents before
him, but it`s gotten so bad now.
DEAN: Right. We`re going to have to do something about North Korea.
Here`s what scares me about the president`s foreign policy. I don`t
disagree with some of the things he is done. I was glad that he made the
statement he did about chemical weapons. The problem is there is no
evidence that he has any real game plan. He does this stuff, maybe it`s
good, maybe it`s bad, but there`s no long-term strategy here. That is what
makes me very nervous. I think many of us sort of who pay attention to
foreign policy are relieved that James Mattis is the defense secretary,
because we know, even though he may be a little more hawkish than some of
us are, we know that he has a plan. We know that he has vast experience.
Donald Trump has no plan. I laughed in the beginning at the quote when he
said I`m a guy who pays attention to details. He doesn`t know the details
of any of this stuff, and it appears often not to care. So, I`m very
worried about North Korea. Not because we don`t have to do something about
it, because we do, but because I don`t know what his plan is. And I don`t
think he knows what his plan is. And that can get you in a lot of trouble.
VAN SUSTEREN: Evan, a lot of the plans from the past presidents is to keep
everybody at the table talking. The problem with North Korea in the table,
they`ve had five nuclear tests already, another one is coming. We may get
them to the table talking but they`re still going forward.
MCMULLIN: Absolutely. We`ve taken approach. Both parties have taken an
approach over the last few decades that have not yielded a positive outcome
with North Korea. Look, I appreciate a stronger stance with North Korea.
I think it sends the right message to China. China is the key in all of
this to a peaceful resolution. I liked a lot of what Tillerson said today,
taking the pressure off China and North Korea, at least attempting to with
regard to unification of the Korean peninsula and the goal of not having
the goal of regime change, these kinds of things. I think they`re making a
lot of the right moves. Of course, then I get a little nervous when
President Trump seemingly on a whim says we may be headed for a major,
major conflict. That is the kind of statement that has to be very
carefully calculated and I`m not sure it was.
VAN SUSTEREN: And, of course, they`re watching and listening. Anyway,
gentlemen, thank you all. Up next Mike Flynn`s former top deputy is here
to tell you, what went through his mind when he found out Russia paid
Flynn. And as U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley being big footed maybe with
censored by his boss, would she be too tough or too honest with the folks
back in Washington?
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump feels badly for his fired now former
national security advisor Michael Flynn. The president saying today, I do
feel badly for him. He served the country. He was a general. President
Trump also blaming former President Obama for not vetting General Flynn,
and today Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying he will recuse himself from
any investigations involving Flynn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would expect not to be involved in this
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would recuse yourself from any decision dealing
with General Flynn?
SESSIONS: Yeah. And I really don`t know whether there is an investigation
or should be, and we don`t confirm investigations, you know, in the
Department of Justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: So, will Flynn face criminal charges? And should he have
known he could get into trouble? Flynn`s former top deputy saying he is
apoplectic when he learned about the Russian news organization payments and
would have opened an investigation immediately. And that former top deputy
to Michael Flynn Douglas Wise joins me. Good evening, sir.
DOUGLAS WISE, TOP DEPUTY TO MICHAEL FLYNN: Good evening, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, tell me, you found out that General Flynn had gotten a
payment and you thought what?
WISE: As you quoted, I was very apoplectic and quite frankly disappointed.
I would have thought somebody with his wealth of experience and his
seniority would have known better than to take money from an adversarial
nation, particular an adversarial nation so adept at misinformation and
propaganda information, he had to have known that the Russians expected
something in return.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think he did that? He left his last job, he was
essentially fired from his last job as reported, and it wasn`t that –
because he was hard to get along with. I don`t know if you found that to
be – why was he so bold or so brash to take this money from Russia? He
had to know the requirements – he was required to notify and get
permission to get paid.
WISE: Well, I mean, to correct the record, I was in DIA the last month and
a half for Flynn`s tenure. So, my role in this was to deal with the
aftermath. David Chads was the deputy for most of the time. To your
question as to why he would do this, I think that is a big mystery,
because, again, based on everything that he was trained, developed, all the
experience he had, the seniority, there`s no real explanation other than he
thought he was above the requirement (inaudible) obligations that were
imposed upon him by his service in the intelligence community. And perhaps
just the fact that rule didn`t apply to him. That is the only thing I can
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any doubt whether or not he knew about the rule,
whether he could have been mistaken?
WISE: You know you`d have to certainly ask Mike Flynn that. But when you
leave the government service at a senior level, the first thing you have to
do, not required, but it is in your best interest, to get an opinion –
it`s not a ruling, it`s an opinion by the office of general counsel. If he
would have gotten one of those from DIA just as I got one from DIA when I
left DIA even though I retired from CIA after leaving DIA. In that OGC
opinion, it is very clear about what you`re allowed to do, what you`re not
allowed to do, and what the pre-approval requirements for flag officers and
general officers are, and where the emolument clause plays a role and
highlights the fact that it`s a criminal statute.
VAN SUSTEREN: Sir, thank you very much for joining us.
WISE: Yes, ma`am. Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Turning now to the Trump administration`s attacks on the
judiciary, Attorney General Jeff Sessions today defending the president for
attacking federal judges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: It`s right for the president as he is done historically over the
century, to express opinions about judicial opinions. They have a lifetime
appointment. Their pay can`t be cut, and their decisions can be commented
on. And the one that he criticized I think was wrong. The greatest threat
to the independence of the judiciary is if judges become more political.
People cease to believe their deciding opinions based on law and fact –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is what you believe about the 9th circuit judges?
SESSIONS: I`m worried about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump also threatening to break up the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the 9th circuit, just the latest shot in a battle against
the courts. Alan Dershowitz is a Constitutional Law Scholar professor in
Harvard Law School. His books include taking the stand, my life in the
law. Nice to see you, Alan and do you think that the president is battling
or taking on the judiciary, he is at war with the judiciary at least some?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, LAW PROFESSOR AND AUTHOR OF “ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION”: I
think it`s a good thing for presidents to criticize the judiciary when the
judiciary oversteps their bounds. Thomas Jefferson did it, Abraham Lincoln
did it. Frank Roosevelt did it. Barack Obama did it. I certainly do it
all the time. I call it supreme injustice which I take on the justices by
name, for Bush versus Gore. Where I think President Trump goes wrong is
that he does it on the wrong grounds. He identified the ethnic background
of a judge. He talked about a so-called judge. He ought to depersonalize
it. Criticizing the judiciary for wrongheaded decisions is the greatest
tradition of the country. I think there are some judges who think that
their job is to serve as a check and balance against the policies of the
Trump administration rather than against any unconstitutional actions. And
that would be a mistake by the judiciary.
VAN SUSTEREN: And, of course, he also referred to the judge, the judge who
ruled against him as an unelected judge, which of course is a federal judge
appointed by the president, probably President Obama, as a requirement of
the constitution. But then you have President Obama who I think made the
crack about citizens united at a state of the union with the Supreme Court
sitting there. So I guess it is not so uncommon. I guess we now read
about it on twitter so it`s not in the barroom that you lost the case and
you`re talking to your partner. It`s on twitter.
DERSHOWITZ: Yeah. But, you know, we have a system of checks and balances
and it goes both ways. We need checks on the judiciary, and the basic
check on the judiciary is through the court of public opinion because you
can`t overrule Supreme Court decisions as Justice Jackson once said. We`re
final not because we`re right. We`re only right because we`re final. But
they`re not final. And the criticism of citizens united may ultimately
result in a change. The criticism of many other decisions over the years
has resulted in changes of judicial opinions. As one person once said, the
Supreme Court follows the election return. So, the Supreme Court is part
of our system of checks and balances.
VAN SUSTEREN: But the checks and balances, like the judge said he called
the so-called judge, unelected judge, trial court judge, from there the
court of appeals and Supreme Court. There are a checks and balances.
DERSHOWITZ: There is. Remember Justice Ginsberg took some shots at
candidate Trump. Probably shouldn`t have done it, Trump probably shouldn`t
have taken shots at judges. But the idea that the president is not
entitled to criticize the judiciary is a very dangerous one. Presidents
and the executive branch ought to be permit to do that. We know that
Franklin Delano Roosevelt went too far. By the way, the 9th circuit is too
large. It would be unseemly for the president to push for its dismantling
because it would seem vengeful.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. The federal court judge, the unelected one, was
he right or wrong on the Sanctuary City decision against President Trump?
DERSHOWITZ: It was too early. The president hadn`t done anything, hadn`t
taken any money away. To impose an injunction against a non-action it
seems to me was premature. So, I don`t think that will be upheld by the
courts of appeals.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, so, that quote unelected judge that the
DERSHOWITZ: He is a very good judge, by the way.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don`t know him and I`ve had some battles with judges in my
DERSHOWITZ: Of course.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, thank you, Alan.
Ahead, the White House just responding to North Korea`s ballistic missile
test. Also U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley sat right behind Secretary of State
Tillerson today. Why is this news worthy today? Well, it appears they
might not be seeing eye to eye. The story has us talking. Stay with us.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, moments ago the White House responding to North
Korea`s ballistic missile test just north of Pyongyang. The White House
with a very terse response saying, quote, and the administration is aware
of the most recent North Korean missile test. The president has been
briefed. That is it. That is all he said. Now, this is North Korea`s 9th
missile launch since President Trump took office. Coming up, did
Ambassador Nikki Haley`s tough talk get her in hot water with her bosses?
Back in Washington the state department trying to reign in our outspoken
ambassador to the U.N. That is next.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is the ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, too blunt for
her bosses back here in Washington? Well, “the New York times” reporting
that the state department wants to clear her public statements, her
comments, before she speaks. The state department urging her office to
rely on, quote, building blocks, written by the department and saying her
comments should be cleared with Washington if they are substantively
different. So far Ambassador Haley has spoken her mind while sometimes
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson simply refused to speak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.N. AMBASSADOR: It could be that Russia is knowingly
allowing chemical weapons to remain in Syria, or it could be that the Assad
regime is playing the Russians for fools. The United States took a very
measured step last night. We are prepared to do more, but we hope that
will not be necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador Haley has sometimes struck a different tone from
other officials including the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: I have had conversations with the president where he very much sees
Russia as a problem.
We cannot trust Russia. We should never trust Russia.
TRUMP: It would be a fantastic thing if we got along with Putin and if we
got along with Russia and that could happen.
HALEY: Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because
all of the parties are going to see that Assad`s not the leader that needs
to be taking place for Syria.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Longer term status of President Assad will be decided
by the Syrian people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining me Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the
“Chicago sun times.” Eli Stokols White House Correspondent for Politico and
Susan Ferrechio, Chief congressional correspondent for the Washington
Examiner, Lynn first to you, are they trying to censor her or get everyone
on the same page.
LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: They are trying to do all of the above and
I think they do that at their risk, because Nikki Haley bay her speaking
out has now found that she has credibility, she has an audience, perhaps
even a following, Greta. I think they try to muzzle her at their own risk.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don`t think, Eli, they can muzzle her. Remember when she
came out against some things candidate Trump said. I don`t think they`re
going to be muzzling this woman.
ELI STOKOLS, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER FOR POLITICO: She is very
comfortable doing this, being outspoken, speaking publicly, Rex Tillerson
not as much. I think there`s a sense in the White House that they want
Tillerson to get out there a little more. Jared Kushner for one didn`t
like the reports that he was guiding his real policy and Tillerson didn`t
know about it. So they want to sort of push the Secretary of State out
there and get him out there a little more. I think it does make sense for
an administration to try to get the people who are leading its diplomacy on
the same page. The problem is even if they stop contradicting each other,
you got to worry about Trump contradicting them and contradicting himself.
VAN SUSTEREN: They need a consistent front. They can`t be freelancing,
everybody, and come up with his own thoughts on this.
SUSAN FERRECHIO, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Yeah. I think the idea there`s
a big divide over this is a little overblown. It`s a logical move to try
to – the way they describe it in the memo to get everybody on board with
the same message, especially if you`re talking about Syria and Russia,
North Korea, all the big problems in the world. You want the
administration to all be delivering the same message. You can`t have Nikki
Haley saying, we`ve got to get rid of Assad, and Rex Tillerson saying it`s
up to the Syrian people.
VAN SUSTEREN: Don`t you think there`s a leak here? Shouldn`t that have
been a private discussion?
FERRECHIO: There have been leaks since the administration took office, and
it`s an enormous problem. It`s people who work for Trump. It`s people who
used to work for Obama. I think the leaks are one of the biggest problems
of the administration. It`s going to drive people apart.
SWEET: May I just add, though, that in the perception game, I think this
is something that the state department people ought to be careful of. It`s
one thing if boss Trump wants to contradict or change or get on a different
page. If Tillerson tries to act like he is the boss of Nikki Haley, again,
I think he does that at his own risk.
VAN SUSTEREN: But he is the boss of Nikki Haley. The pecking order is he
is the boss.
STOKOLS: And this White House could benefit from having a strong woman`s
voice out there leading on something.
SWEET: My point is don`t try to make it like, you do what I tell you to do
which is a little bit how it came out.
VAN SUSTEREN: Just because she is a woman, I don`t think we should –
STOKOLS: That is right. I just think she is a solid voice.
VAN SUSTEREN: You`re making something out of nothing with the whole –
SWEET: I said when you have somebody who is credible, who seems to know
what she is talking about, and who is verbal, compared to a self-muted
Secretary of State, you do that at your own risk.
VAN SUSTEREN: I`m moving to the next topic. Growing backlash today from
Democrats on President Obama`s big payday from Wall Street, getting paid
$400,000 to speak at a conference, paid for by a Wall Street firm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think at a time when people are so frustrated with
the power of Wall Street and the big money interests, I think it is
unfortunate that President Obama is doing this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Warren, what do you think about President Obama
accepting $400,000 from Wall Street?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I was troubled by that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Eli, Senator Warren says she is troubled. Senator Sanders
says it`s unfortunate. I think those are actually – everyone is all
thither about this, but I think there`s quite a soft landing for President
Obama. If this had been a Republican, I think they would have used
different words than troubled and unfortunate.
STOKOLS: I think it gets at some of the divides on the Democratic side
between sort of the sanctimonious progressive base that doesn`t want to see
any connection to Wall Street and others who say this is a pretty natural
thing for a president to do post-presidency. I don`t think it`s really
that big a deal in the context of this news cycle and this administration.
But do people have a right to look at this and scrutinize it? Sure.
FERRECHIO: I think it`s a big deal, especially if the president wants to
be still the de facto leader of the party and still be working on, you
know, getting people energized as he said he wanted to do. The very base
that he would probably working with, are the ones who really are followers
of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who really look down on the
connection to the Wall Street banks.
SWEET: I don`t think you can ignore the $60 million reported book deal
that he and –
STOKOLS: And he did just say last week at his first public appearance, he
was maligning money in politics, right? So it does diminish his
credibility, I think that is right, as he goes out.
SWEET: Money and politics as opposed to money in your own pocket. It`s a
little different. They are very touchy on this on team Obama. I did a
story about Obama`s coming back to Chicago next week for a speech, and no
one wanted to tell me a lot. But what I got through the – through their
ways of communicating is to make sure that I knew that this was not a paid
speech. Ok, Mrs. Obama`s P.R. people will tell you about what she is
doing, nod paid. They won`t tell you paid to give you the whole picture.
So it`s something that they don`t want to talk about, but it`s still part
of their lives. If you`re doing it, just go out and do it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Don`t you think that President Obama was a little bit sort
of dismissive of Secretary of State for her speeches not when she was
Secretary of State but her Goldman Sachs? It`s a little bit – he was
dismissive of her for doing it.
FERRECHIO: Hard to resist that money, right? Hard to resist when it`s
offered to you, right?
SWEET: It`s just the message is you go one day and talk about these young
people, go be a community organizer, go make change. Then he did make
change and there is this pot of gold now for him and Mrs. Obama. I think -
VAN SUSTEREN: A big pot of gold, $60 million for two books. $400,000 for
a speech seems like chump change.
SWEET: He is got to calibrate it and decide if he wants to take these
VAN SUSTEREN: Got to go. Thank you for watching. Have a great weekend.
I`ll see you back here Monday night, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Check out my
Facebook page and follow me on twitter @Greta. Go to my Instagram account
@Greta. “Hardball” with Chris Matthews starts right now. See you Monday,
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prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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