For the Record with Greta, Transcript 5/12/2017

Guests:
Eamon Javers, Michael Scherer, Bill Kristol, Ken Delaney, Matt Miller, Nancy Savage
Transcript:

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, MSNBC HOST:  Chuck, I never miss Meet the Press on

Sunday.

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  I appreciate that.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  See you Sunday.  Breaking news tonight, former FBI director

James Comey says, no, he will not be testifying on Tuesday.  The answer is

no.  He will not testify before the senate intelligence committee.  That

committee had invited Comey to testify and that invitation coming after

Comey was fired on Tuesday night.  The leaders of the committee say they do

hope to hear from Comey soon.  So for now, no response from Comey to

President Trump`s early morning tweet, this morning`s tweet has rocked

Washington.  James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our

conversations before he starts leaking to the press.  Now, that tweet

created a brand-new fire storm.  Did the president tape his dinner

conversation with Comey?  The dinner where the president says Comey assured

him he was not under investigation, is the president threatening the former

FBI director, and did the president record anyone else?  In his briefing

today White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not make any of those

questions go away.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  Did President Trump record his conversations with

former FBI director Comey?

 

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I assume you`re referring to the

tweet, and I`ve talked to the president.  The president has nothing further

to add on that.

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  Why did he say that?  Why did he tweet that?  What

should we interpret from that?

 

SPICER:  As I mentioned, the president has nothing further to add on that.

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  Are there recording devices in the oval office or in

the residence?

 

SPICER:  As I said for the third time, there is nothing further to add on

that.

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  Does he think it`s appropriate to threaten someone

like Mr. Comey not to speak?

 

SPICER:  I don`t think – that`s not a threat.  He`s simply stated the

fact.  The tweet speaks for itself.  I`m moving on.

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  Does anyone in this White House have an audio

recording of what unfolded during the January 27th dinner between the

former FBI director and the president of the United States?

 

SPICER:  I`m not aware of that.

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  Is the president of the United States currently

recording conversations taking place in the oval office?

 

SPICER:  I think the point that I made with respect to the tweet is the

president has no further comment on this.  See you on Monday.  Thank you. 

Good-bye.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  listening devices in the White House, did you ask the

president if he installed listening devices?

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And in a new interview out late today, no answers from the

president either.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What about the idea that in a tweet you said that

there might be tape recordings?

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  That I can`t talk

about – I won`t talk about that.  All I want is for Comey to be honest and

I hope he will be.  I`m sure he will be.  I hope.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  With me from the White House CNBC`s, Eamon Javers.  Eamon,

you were in the room.  Tell me what it was like when Spicer wouldn`t answer

that question.

 

EAMON JAVERS:  Yeah.  You know, Greta, it was a packed house in that room

and it was an intense day for Sean Spicer returning after two days off into

this very heated moment here in Washington, D.C.  And there are really two

possibilities here, either the president of the United States is bluffing

about having secret tapes, or he`s telling the truth.  If he`s bluffing

there is a problem for the president because it`s an empty threat from the

White House.  If he`s telling the truth, that lays out another series of

potential problems for this White House because Democrats on Capitol Hill

will want access to those tapes, investigators will want access to those

tapes.  They could eventually at some point face a subpoena situation and

there is a history to this.  Richard Nixon, the president of the United

States, faced a similar situation with his secret tape system and didn`t

end very well for him.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Eamon, as the day marched on we`re trying to get more

information.  Seems to me the question is a simple yes or no.  But all we

hear is that nobody has anything further to add.  Is there any sort of

confusion or what`s going on in the communications division of the White

House?

 

JAVERS:  Well, we don`t know.  They`ve clearly decided to stand on the

explanation that they stand on a lot around here, which is the tweet speaks

for itself.  But in this case, it is an implication threat of the FBI

director who`s just been fired by the president of the United States.  And

you`ve also got a situation here where he`s raise the possibility of a

secret taping system.  People are going to want to know the answers to

that.  I imagine that they`re going to be inbound questions from Capitol

Hill investigators, inbound questions from FBI investigators who are going

to want to know what`s on those tapes, how extensive is that system, what

other conversations were captured here?  Today is just the beginning of a

series of questions that the president has raised for himself.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Thank you very much.  And we may not know yet if there are

White House tapes, but if there are, Democrats in congress want them.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  The president is saying that there may be tapes.  If

there are tapes, I believe – maybe it`s not our committee`s jurisdiction,

but we should, one, make sure they`re preserved and, two, we should make

sure that the appropriate committee and congress should take a look at

them.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  That was Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the senate

intelligence committee.  And a top Democrat on the house intel committee,

Congressman Adam Schiff is tweeting.  Mr. President, if there are tapes

relevant to the Comey firing, it is because you made them and they should

be provided to congress.  And the top Democrats in the house judiciary and

oversight committees also today sending a letter to White House counsel

Donald McGahn writing they are compelled to ask whether any such recordings

do in fact exist.  If so, we request all copies of all recording.  With me,

Bill Kristol, editor at large at Weekly Standard, and Michael Scherer,

Washington bureau chief for Time, who sat down with the president for

nearly 100-minute interview and a four-course dinner on Monday.  So

naturally the question to you is did you feel taped?

 

MICHAEL SCHERER, TIME:  You know, it`s funny when we sat down at the meal,

he looked at the table, we were in the blue room.  And there was a digital

recorder by the flower display next to a candle.  He says, whose is that? 

He wasn`t sure.  It was actually one of his staffers who put it there.  So

he was aware when he sat down, you know, where the recording devices were

in the room.  And we were recording, too. We were recording on our iPhones.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  You were recording, everybody was recording.

 

SCHERER:  There`s no secret.  If the White House has tapes it will match

the tape I have on my iPhone, I`m sure.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Bill…

 

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDRAD:  Congress is probably more interested in the

tape of the dinner with Comey three months ago.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

KRISTOL:  I mean, I think – I mean, the president is in serious trouble

for a couple reasons.  We`re used to him – tweeting things he can`t back

up and Sean Spicer has a tough day.  And the media tends to understand and

it`s all bad P.R., bad couple days.  This is way beyond that.  There`s

congress, which now is going to say – I mean, how do we find out that

Nixon had tapes?  Because Alexander Butterfield as I recall – read about

it was testifying to congress, right?  And they asked him is there a taping

system in the White House?  And he said, yes.  And the tapes had to be made

public, and there was an 18-minute gap, etcetera, etcetera.  So congress is

now a real player. 

 

And secondly, and more importantly, this is an FBI investigation.  I mean,

you`re a lawyer.  You`ve gone through this.  This is not like, oh, I just

said something a little misleading.  The FBI is investigating – a criminal

and national security investigation.  You are now – he is part of that

investigation.  That`s a whole different level of problems.  And third

point I would make is, what is the effect that everyone is so focused on

the media, the media effect, what happened this week?  Comey was fired. 

What has to happen now?  He has to nominate another FBI director.  How is

that going to work out?  He can`t put an old Trump loyalist, obviously.  He

is going to put in someone from all – he`s going to have to put in someone

from all the pressure going to be to have a very serious investigation, not

to back at all.  Have a huge oversight from congress – scrutiny from the

media.  Trump has created almost a nightmare for himself, I think.

 

SCHERER:  The White House has a phrase they use, a lot of staff I`ve heard

say it, the controversy elevates message.  And it`s a rule that Trump lived

by during the campaign.  He`s living by right now in the White House.  I

don`t know if there is a taping system.  I doubt there`s a taping system in

the White House.  I think what he did with that tweet today was take

everyone`s attention off, what looked to be a very damaging New York Times

story from yesterday in which people close to James Comey are quoted saying

there was basically a loyalty test issue to me by the president.  We are

now talking about taping systems in the White House.  I think that`s

probably not…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

KRISTOL:  It doesn`t matter because James Comey is going to speak at some

point.  And he will testify and he will tell – he`ll say yes or no.  So

the president is getting short-term maybe, slight diversions in message at

the cost of slight laying unbelievable traps for himself down the road.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But he did the same thing, he accused President Obama of

wiretapping him.

 

SCHERER:  Trump has – I think the big drama that we`re seeing play out

this week, the last several weeks is that a president who is not used to

being a president, is used to being Donald Trump, is trying to figure out

how to fit into the box of the presidency.  Now, these are tactics

techniques, the short term gain, the long term…

 

Bob:  You`re being too nice.

 

SCHERER:  He`s always used – I`m not disagreeing that this might not hurt

him down the road.  This could hurt him down the road.

 

Bob:  It`s hurting him now.  Look, the tapping of Obama charging – he`s

paying a huge price for that.  That elevated the whole question.  There`s

an FBI investigation going on, I did nothing wrong, let them investigate. 

They`re not going to find anything, thank you, good-bye.  That would have

been it.  Why are we discussing all of this now.  Partly because he said

President Obama tapped him which required Director Comey to testify to

congress to say, no, he didn`t, which requires Trump – in his mind to fire

Comey.  I mean, he has laid down – he has started down a path that is way

beyond P.R. embarrassment.  Oh, he`s not used to being president.  Oh, he`s

an unusual type of guy, I think really.  He is now – he has put his

presidency at risk.

 

SCHERER:  I`m agreeing with you that it`s hurt him.  I think what he is

thinking, the reason he is doing this is he is falling back on his own

techniques.  And that`s a different point.  He thinks of himself as a gut

player.  When he gets insecure, when he`s unhappy with a situation, he

returns to his gut play moves.  And that`s what he did.  He had a couple

quiet weeks on twitter.  The White House had kind of calmed down.  And

then, he gets into a jam and he kind of lashes out again.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  You know, we focus here, everything is happening in D.C.

because it really has consumed us.  The promise – we`re not keeping this

issue in the family, this weird tweets, the whole world is watching.  And

you know when you think of the role of the United States in the world, and

the president is about to launch on a tour of many important nations to our

national security, that now we have this dragging us.

 

KRISTOL:  The president fired the director of our leading law enforcement

organization.  It happened once before.  It was done because with good

cause by President Clinton who immediately explained that he immediately

nominated a successor who was a Republican.  There was no issue after about

a day.  He is now left – this is hanging out there.  Again, I come back to

the reality.  The reality is there is not – he fired the FBI director. 

That`s the fundamental thing that happened this week.  The tweets have just

compounds it.  He now set up situations where the FBI director and others

are going to have to explain themselves and explain what happened.  His

staff – the congress can find out whether a taping system has been put in

the White House.  They can call the people who would have to do that. 

Either Trump is just blatantly, I mean, lied and kind of ridiculous bluff. 

But I agree with Michael, this is what he worked from in business, right,

tough negotiation.  I`m going to bluff.  Hey, I`m going to walk away from

this deal.  This is different.  He`s president of the United States.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And, of course, you have the weird thing is the whole sort

of drama about whether it was his decision or whether he`s taking the

recommendation from the DOJ.  I mean that wasn`t very helpful.

 

SCHERER:  No.  You know, they came out with a cover story initially, the

cover story immediately clasp because the president comes out and says the

cover story isn`t true.  I don`t think – this is also the other thing that

has been highlighted again is that there is not a coherent White House

operation around Trump.  There are several operations inside the White

House.  They cater to him differently.  He has different teams working on

different things.  And then he is rolling with his gut move, and those

different teams aren`t communicating with each other.  You mentioned Bill

Clinton`s planning his firing of an FBI director.  There simply was no

planning in this.

 

KRISTOL:  That`s what struck me about the statement they put out.  He put

up a written statement that night or Tuesday night, and in the middle of it

is I had three conversations with Director Comey in which he said…

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  He was not under investigation.

 

KRISTOL:  How could the White House counsel allow him to say that?  Would

you allow any…

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I didn`t think the White House counsel saw it.

 

KRISTOL:  So they`re putting out statements in a legal…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  It came out through his office.

 

KRISTOL:  Yeah.  I was just saying, the staff – this is Michael`s point. 

The staff has so little ability to tell him this is extremely unwise for

you to do.  This is like the defendant in the murder case totally ignoring

his counsel.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I have had that.  Anyway, gentlemen…

 

KRISTOL:  Did it workout well?

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Didn`t work out well, that and the confession.  Thank you

both.  Still ahead, who invited who to that now infamous dinner at the

White House and why?  You might be surprised to find out what was happening

behind the scenes in the days before the dinner.  Also, is President Trump

at war with the FBI?  We`ll hear from FBI leader with decades of experience

who met with James Comey just days before he was fired.  Plus, are we about

to see the end of the White House press briefing as we know it?  You`ve got

to hear who President Trump thinks should take over the job.  And what does

a trending hashtag have to do with the Russians?  That`s ahead.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  Did President Trump record his conversations with

former FBI director Comey?

 

SPICER:  I assume you`re referring to the tweet.  And I`ve talked to the

president.  The president has nothing further to add on that.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  A shocking refusal by the White House to deny that President

Trump is recording conversations.  Now this all stems from the president`s

tweet threatening fired FBI director James Comey about, quote, tapes from

their dinner and phone conversations.  So, what do we actually know about

the dinner?  Well, it all starts back on January 24th, when then national

security advisor Michael Flynn is interviewed by the FBI.  The next day,

January 25th, the justice department gives details about that FBI

interview.  Then, the following day, January 26th, then acting attorney

general Sally Yates warns the White House that General Flynn is vulnerable

to blackmail by the Russians.  And just one day later, January 27th,

President Trump has dinner with then FBI director James Comey.  And it was

at that dinner President Trump says he asked Comey if he was under

investigation.  The president insisting Comey said no, but FBI officials

telling NBC News this is not true, even former director of national

intelligence James Clapper talking about it today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  He mentioned that he had been invited to the White

House to have dinner with the president, and that he was uneasy with that

because of even compromising even the optics, the appearance of

independence, not only of him but of the FBI.

 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  With me former justice department spokesperson, Matt Miller,

and NBC`s national security correspondent, Ken Delaney.  Ken, what can you

tell me about any details surrounding this dinner?

 

KEN DELANEY, NBC NEWS:  Well, Greta, the story we`re getting about how the

dinner came about is completely at odds to the way President Trump

described it to Lester Holt.  What we`re being told that this was a last-

minute invitation that came the 26th, the day before, or the 27th, the day

of.  And by that time, Sally Yates had made her warning, and according to

Sean Spicer, the president had been briefed about it.  So, he knew that

Sally Yates had said his national security advisor Mike Flynn was subject

to being blackmailed.  He then asked Jim Comey to dinner according to our

sources.  Comey was reluctant to do it because he wants to preserve the

independence of the FBI.  So he didn`t even want the rank and file of the

FBI to know about this dinner, we`re told.  But he felt like he couldn`t

say no to his boss.  Now, the people we`ve talked to find it inconceivable

that Jim Comey would tell Donald Trump he was not under investigation, but

they don`t know for a fact because they weren`t at the meeting.  Only Comey

can testify to that, Greta.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Ken, is there – usually when the FBI director or any of

these cabinet officers travel, they have assistants or deputies with them. 

Was there anybody else at that dinner besides the president and James

Comey?

 

DELANEY:  I don`t know the answer to that, but my understanding is it was

mainly a one on one dinner.  But you`re right, both these men have staffs. 

It`s hard to imagine they were completely alone at all times.  But it was

billed as a one on one dinner, Greta.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Matt, is there any information that there is a taping system

in the White House?

 

MATT MILLER, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON:  Well, other than the

president`s strange threat of blackmail to Jim Comey on twitter today, not

necessarily.  But we don`t know whether he was making that up, whether it

was just a bluff to try to intimidate Jim Comey into not testifying,

whether he`s just trolling the press core, or whether there is a taping

system.  But it`s pretty remarkable that the White House won`t answer that

question now.  That`s a fairly big thing to reveal given the historical

ramifications of that.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  They`re pretty coy with this sort of cat and mouse game with

the media, which is not – I mean I don`t think it is right to do, but

nonetheless they have been doing that.

 

MILLER:  About many things.  But given – you know, talk about the history

here, when you go back to the only president to have ever been impeached

and had to resign, Richard Nixon, it was larger because what the taping

system revealed about the ongoing criminal conspiracy that emanated in the

White House.  For the White House to dangle that out and not answer the

question it`s obviously something that`s not tenable.  They won`t be able

to stick with that answer for very long.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Ken, to put it in context, if this were the only dinner that

the president had it would be obviously more suspicious than if he has

dinner often with different people.  So, tell me, is this sort of routine

that he has dinner was cabinet officers or directors of the EPA, the FBI,

or members of congress?

 

DELANEY:  Well, he may have dinners with other cabinet officers, but I just

know that for Jim Comey, this was a real source of unease because it`s one

thing for Comey to go brief the president in the oval office, but to have a

one on one dinner at a time when there is an investigation swirling around

looking at whether the Trump campaign is colluding with Russia, Comey felt

really awkward about that.  That that didn`t send a good message, and he

wished he didn`t have to do it as we were being told, but he also felt he

couldn`t refuse – go ahead.  Sorry.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Go ahead.

 

DELANEY:  Our sources find it inconceivable, as James clapper said on the

air today, though, that Comey asked to be retained in his job at this

dinner which is the story that President Trump told to Lester Holt.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  This is unusual.  I mean, the president keeps making it more

unusual by things that he does, even making this sort of veiled remark

about Comey being a leaker.

 

MILLER:  Yeah.  I mean, it makes no sense for the president to do this, but

I think one of the things that we`re going to see.  Look, Jim Comey has

been in this town a long time.  He served in very senior jobs.  And he`s

shown that when he thinks there is something inappropriate, he usually

leaves a written record of that.  He did that in the Bush administration in

2005, and sat on something until four years later when he had to leak an e-

mail to the New York Times.  He testified at a very dramatic hearing in

2007, where he revealed allegations of wrongdoing in the Bush

administration.  If there`s something in that conversation between him and

the president that Jim Comey thought was inappropriate, I guarantee you

we`re going to hear about it from Jim Comey sooner or later.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Ken, is the White House staff concerned about this at all? 

Are they rattled by this?

 

DELANEY:  Well, they seem to be out of the loop.  I mean, the explanation

that they gave for the firing of Jim Comey has completely crumbled, right? 

But I just want to echo what Matt said, I mean, the people that we`re

talking to who know Jim Comey and are speaking to Jim Comey are very

confident that the truth of this will come out.  And they`re angry about

the way he was treated and they believe that at some time he will tell his

story and it won`t be pleasant for the Trump administration.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Gentlemen, thank you.  The plot thickens.  Keep trying to

dig at facts.  Thank you both.  After the break, concerns about an all-out

war between the FBI and President Trump, I`ll talk to a former agent who

met with James Comey just days ago.  And will President Trump ditch the

White House press briefings because he moves too fast for his aides to be

accurate?

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  We`re back.  Tonight, there are reports of bad blood between

President Trump and the FBI.  And today, the White House press secretary

denying that President Trump was threatening former FBI director James

Comey with this today`s early morning tweet, quote, James Comey better hope

that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to

the press.  And today, somebody in FBI saying, yes, that is a threat and

it`s a big deal.  A former high ranking FBI official warning the agency

feels its independence is under attack.  That former high ranking official

is telling CNBC, quote, first he started war with the intelligence agencies

and now he wants one with the FBI.  The official adding that the president

is, quote, out of control.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNINDENTIFIED MALE:  I talked to a former FBI official today who said that

the president`s tweet be implicit threat to FBI – former FBI director

James Comey indicates that the president in his words is simply out of

control.  I`d like to get you to respond to that. Is he?

 

SPICER:  I – that`s frankly offensive.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  With me former FBI agent Nancy Savage.  She is the executive

director of the society of former special agents of the FBI.  Nice to see

you.

 

NANCY SAVAGE, FORMER FBI AGENT:  Nice to see you, Greta.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right.  You saw James Comey when, when did you last

speak to him?

 

SAVAGE:  It was a week ago.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And then when he was fired on Tuesday, your reaction was one

of what?

 

SAVAGE:  Shock.  I think everyone was pretty much devastated, especially

how it was enacted by the administration.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I mean, I agree.  If you`re going to fire somebody, bring

them into the oval office and have a discussion and do it better.  But

anyway, I don`t like that either.

 

SAVAGE:  Yeah.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  What`s Comey like?

 

SAVAGE:  I mean he`s just a great individual.  He`s easy to talk to.  He

has, you know, fantastic grasp of the issues very, very quickly, even

complex issues.  He remembers almost everything verbatim.  That`s very

impressive.  He`s very supportive to the active duty agents.  And I`ve seen

him in situations where he`s talking to our group, which are mainly former

agents, but I`ve seen him when he`s talking to all FBI agents on critical

investigative matters, and he gets down in the weeds and is very supportive

of them.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right.  There were reports of the White House that the

morale at the FBI was bad, suggesting that as the leader he was responsible

for morale.  Do you have some sort of feel for what was going on at the FBI

before and now since this firing?

 

SAVAGE:  I think from all of the – my associates who are still active

duty, they`re very, very positive about him as a leader.  I think there was

some concern because it was a difficult situation that they were put in,

you know, as FBI agents are used to very sensitive investigations.  But the

Hillary Clinton investigation was especially sensitive because she was a

front runner on the Democratic side, and there was a lot of pressure to get

that investigation completed, but do it correctly.  And the country evenly

divided, the FBI is going to call it like they see it.  I know my career, I

mean, no one tries to force an FBI agent to do something for political

reasons.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I read back then, or at least I think I did, that there were

some who thought that Comey was wrong in not pursuing – and the way that

he handled that July 5th press conference, and he sort of bypassed justice

department.

 

SAVAGE:  Well, I just think it`s important to bring out the situation where

essentially A.G. Loretta Lynch came forward and said she felt very sorry

that she had had that meeting on the tarmac with Bill Clinton, and that

came out in the press.  And because of that, she said she wasn`t going to

make a recommendation on this, and she sort of informally said, hey, I`m

going to follow the recommendations of the FBI.  That put him in a highly

unusual situation.  It put the FBI in an unusual situation.  Normally, you

do what Jeff Sessions is doing.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  In a big organization, like a big prosecutor`s office,

decisions are made by the people handling the cases.  To what extent does

the departure of the director of the FBI impact the investigations, more

specifically, the one of whatever is going on about the Trump campaign?

 

SAVAGE:  Right now, you`re talking about the Russian?

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Yeah, yeah.

 

SAVAGE:  Potential alleged Russian involvement.  I don`t think that that –

anything political is going to impact those.  I really don`t.  I mean, FBI

agents are going to bring the facts out.  They`re going to write the

reports.  They`re going to pursue it aggressively.  And then they`re going

to present that over to the department of justice.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Thank you very much for joining us.

 

SAVAGE:  OK.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Next we have a letter, President Trump`s lawyers, just wrote

him, this letter now sparking a viral internet joke including a top

trending Twitter hashtag and a whole bunch of new questions.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  President Trump this morning making a surprise suggestion

about daily press briefings. Tweeting, as a very active president with lots

of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at

podium with perfect accuracy. Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel

all future press briefings and hand-out written responses for the sake of

accuracy? Obviously, that did not go into effect today. Press Secretary,

Sean Spicer was asked about the president`s tweets.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the president considering cancelling the daily press

briefings?

 

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I think he`s a little dismayed

that we see time and time again an attempt to parse every little word and

make it more of a game of gotcha, as opposed to really figure out what the

policies are, why something is being pursued or what the update is on this.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  President Trump also later talking about this issue.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you moving so quickly that your Communications

Department cannot keep up with you?

 

TRUMP:  Yes. That`s true.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So, what do we do about that, because–

 

TRUMP:  We don`t have press conferences and we do–

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You don`t mean that.

 

TRUMP:  Well, you just don`t have them or unless I have them every two

weeks and I do it myself. We don`t have them. I think it`s a good idea.

First of all, you have a level of hostility that`s incredible and it`s very

unfair. Sarah Huckabee is a lovely young woman. You know, Sean Spicer, he

is a wonderful human being. He`s a nice man.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Is he your press secretary, today and tomorrow?

Is he going to be tomorrow?

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

TRUMP:  –well, he`s doing a good job, but he gets beat up.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Will he be there tomorrow?

 

TRUMP:  Yes. Well, he`s been there from the beginning.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  With me Jonathan Swan, National Political Reporter for

Axios; Kathleen Parker, Pulitzer Prize Winning Columnist for the Washington

Post; and Susan Ferrechio, Chief Congressional Correspondent for the

Washington Examiner.

 

Jonathan, first to you, your thoughts about the president suggestions who

do not have any at all press conference – press briefings rather or that

he have them every two weeks and that they handle them himself, or he also

said answer questions in writing.

 

JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS:  Well, I can tell you

the president has been incredibly frustrated with Sean Spicer specifically

and his press team in general. He`s been venting all week privately about

Spicer. He thinks that he`s been poorly served. He views the whole Comey

incident not as a failure of himself as not giving them enough time, but he

thinks that their response was incompetent and that he was completely

exposed on air, so that`s where all this is coming from.

 

And he also has always thought that he is his own best messenger, he is his

own best messaging strategist. He was very proud of that freewheeling press

conference he did earlier this year when he was just getting fed up with

seeing, you know, people not representing the way he wanted to. So, he just

stood up for an hour and just riff. So, I think all these things are coming

together.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Kathleen?

 

KATHLEEN PARKER, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST:  The

interesting thing about his concerns about accuracy it`s, you know, the

briefings are public. You can tune in and watch them yourself. You can

actually, the public can.

 

And you can – you can follow the conversation, you can follow the

questions and the answers, but the problem isn`t – the problem with

accuracy is that his staff people, his surrogates are unable to give an

answer that will hold for more than a couple of hours because he keeps

changing the message.

 

I don`t know how much – I don`t know how he can claim as you say that he`s

great at controlling the message and directing the message. That may work

in the rally scenario, but working with the media who are actually, I don`t

think, badgering so much as they`re trying to get a straight answer that is

in fact answers the question they pose.

 

You know, so often it`s – they sort of – they deflect or say something

that`s just basically an end to the conversation rather than a response

that the media can actually use. I`m not, you know, I`m not – I`m not

saying the media are perfect certainly, and they are certainly aggressive

because that`s kind of what our job is.

 

SUSAN FERRECHIO, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER:  Well, aggressive, but I do – I

do agree with Trump that they play gotcha more with him than with any

president that I`ve seen in my lifetime. But his message is different than

even what the vice-president`s message was this week. I prefer the briefing

stay every day. I would hate for them to go away, but if he`s going to be

an unconventional president maybe he should come up with an unconventional

way of communicating with the press instead of doing it–

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But he has, Twitter.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

FERRECHIO:  Well, no but then – what he`s trying to do is, he`s trying to

combine both worlds, you know, where he has Twitter in his own way of

communicating with his people, his base, answering back to the media. And

then you`ve got the classic traditional structure of the daily press

briefings and his messengers going out and it`s clashing all the time.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

FERRECHIO:  And that`s why–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Susan, the problem the other day, I don`t think Spicer was

spinning everybody about whether Comey was going to go or not and a couple

hours later Comey was gone. I think Spicer was relaying what he knew or

didn`t know.

 

FERRECHIO:  Right, that`s my point is that – is that, he is unconventional

and he kind of goes his own way. He operates like a person who runs a

company with nobody to answer to which is what he was before he came to the

White House.

 

He is not the big – he`s not someone who is used to running of, you know,

working in a big team which is what`s really essential in the White House.

So, you know, for him to say maybe we`ll just get rid of the press

briefings I`ll talk to you myself every two weeks, that doesn`t sound too

crazy–

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But, but–

 

FERRECHIO:  –that`s kind of what he`s doing anyway.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But he had some–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

PARKER:  I think it sounds pretty crazy. Look, at Bush definitely was dealt

with rather, you know, scathingly and lots of gotcha questions in those

press briefings.

 

FERRECHIO:  Yes, and I like–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

PARKER:  President Obama definitely had it a lot easier–

 

FERRECHIO:  Yes, yes.

 

PARKER:  –but he also had a much cooler way of communicating some of and I

think–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But I think – but I think, that the thing with twitter,

though, and I`ll go to you Jonathan, he said, is the president tweets some

provocative things and he, you know, he lays out his 140 characters, he

punches and then he runs and then his communications department is supposed

to pick it up and they`re supposed to pick up the pieces and explain well,

what he really meant to say essentially.

 

I mean, he`s making it rather difficult for them. You know what, you know,

I mean if you`re a big Trump fan, you still have to admit that he`s making

it very difficult for his team.

 

SWAN:  Yes. And privately they`re all trying to sort of keep up. I mean,

like there`s times when you`re on the phone to them and he`s tweeting, you

know, and they are like, oh, what did he say now?

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

SWAN:  You know, it`s like – this is the reality.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  He makes it – he makes it–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

SWAN:  You know, they wake up in the morning and it`s OK, what has my boss

said that I need to like get up to speed on, you know?

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  –I think it`s some sort of sympathetic as this, you don`t

have–

 

SWAN:  Well, he is not, let me be clear. He is not sympathetic.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Oh, no, no. I know he`s hard on them.

 

SWAN:  Yes.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Anyway, all right, another big story today, the question

whether President Trump has any business dealings in Russia. Here`s what he

told Lester Holt.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  That I have nothing to do with Russia. I have no investments in

Russia, none whatsoever. I don`t have property in Russia.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Today, the letter emerged from his law firm trying to make

that point it says, the president has no income from Russia over the last

10 years, “with a few exceptions such as the Miss Universe Pageant and

third-party revenue”. Now, the hashtag with few exceptions immediately

popped as the top trender in the U.S. and number 3 worldwide.

 

Of course, the president did not release the tax returns that might prove

what the letter is saying. And here is the punch line, it does fall under

the headline, you just can`t make this up. The law firm that handled this

for him that sent him this Letter for the president, last year that law

firm was named, you got it, Russia Law Firm Of The Year. I kid you not.

Susan?

 

FERRECHIO:  Well, he needs to tell us what the exceptions are, I think at

this point.  If – we know Trump and his sensitivity the way he`s reacted

to negative responses that he will see that he`s being ridiculed over this

and will try to hopefully clarify what those exceptions are because–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

PARKER:  Yes, the exceptions are a $95 million real estate sale.

 

FERRECHIO:  Or it can be other things too, we don`t know.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

SWAN:  No, no. They stipulate – the problem from my view is that we don`t

have – to your point, we don`t have substantiation but the letter does

specify exactly what those exceptions are.

 

FERRECHIO:  But from–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

SWAN:  That`s my point. No, no that`s my point.

 

PARKER:  –the headline, you know, there are – he does have some financial

dealings with Russia, but they are minor and here`s what they are.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Here`s what I don`t know and first of all, it said March and

not May, but I can make that typo. There was a typo in the letter, I think,

anyway had the wrong date. But does it – and I`m a little rusty on this I

admit, but the letter was written from the law firm to President Trump and

then released.

 

And I`m curious and I have to go back and research and get Alan Dershowitz

where the attorney/client privilege has now been broken. And now, you know,

maybe we can get more information now. I don`t know. I don`t know, you

know, how that will be pursued.

 

PARKER:  –attorney/client, I think work both ways. So, if he – if the

client says release it, then there wouldn`t seem to be any violation.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But the client released it. He and the client–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  –the client has the privilege.

 

PARKER:  Right.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And so, I mean, I don`t know. Like I said, I`m pretty rusty.

But, obviously the president wanted to get that out today.

 

SWAN:  Yes. And I think it was designed for a very narrow audience which

was Lindsey Graham and a few other Republican senators who were starting to

cause a bit of trouble for him by talking about his Russia dealings. He

doesn`t care about the Democrats so much but when you have some of these

Republican senators that start–

 

PARKER:  Yes.

 

SWAN:  –to get people pretty concerned.

 

PARKER:  He is working closely with Lindsey because as soon as he was ready

to–

 

SWAN:  Lindsey is–

 

PARKER:  –fire Comey, he called Lindsey Graham and gave him a heads up

beforehand.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right, next a whirlwind week from that blockbuster,

Sally Yates hearing to the Comey firing. And getting revved up, we`re

staring at live literally, Melissa McCarthy in her Sean Spicer costume

motoring around New York City.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Remember when Sally Yates was the big headline? That seemed

like years ago, doesn`t it? Well, the former acting attorney general

testifying before the senate how she warned the White House about General

Michael Flynn that he was, in essence, Russian blackmail bait. Now, that

was on Monday. By Tuesday night, there was a different headline dominating.

Here`s a look back at this whirlwind week.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The clouds of suspicion related to Russia, the Trump

Organization, and what happened with the former national security advisor

comes back in a big wave today.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Sally Yates, the Former Acting Attorney General who

warned the White House about Michael Flynn testifies publicly today.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  To state the obvious, you don`t want your national

Security advisor compromised with the Russians.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  NBC News reporting that President Obama warned

President-elect Trump about Mike Flynn`s Russian connections.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The investigation of Russia`s hacking during the

election and whether any Trump Campaign associates were involved, that work

goes on.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Breaking News, Jim Comey is out at the FBI.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sending shockwaves across Washington this evening, the

president dismissing the man who was leading the investigation into his

campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The president informed Comey that he`s been terminated

and removed from office.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  The Trump White House getting extreme heat tonight for the

firing of now Former FBI Director James Comey.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Congressional sources say Comey was seeking to step up

his investigation at the time of his firing.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did the president fire Director Comey to impede the

Russia investigation? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did the White House oppose the appointment of the

special prosecutor?

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Has the dismissal of Mr. Comey in any way negatively

impacted any investigation?

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We need a special prosecutor right now.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He`d been considering letting Director Comey go since

the day he was elected.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The story has changed and it`s simply not clear why.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Behind the scenes report of the Comey firing claiming

President Trump has been enraged and fuming about the Russian

investigation.

 

TRUMP:  He`s a showboat, he`s a grandstander.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And did you ask him are you under investigation?

 

TRUMP:  I actually asked him, yes. He said you are not under investigation.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  What a week in D.C. and President Trump has one more week of

holding down the fort here in D.C. before he jumps on Air force One for a

whirlwind trip, his first overseas trip as president. He will visit four

countries in about nine days.

 

The president is normally a homebody, but right now he might be eager for a

change of scenery. Back with me Jonathan, Kathleen and Susan, Susan, I mean

if I were the president, I`d be anxious to get out of town.

 

FERRECHIO:  Well, actually the best thing he could do right now before he

leaves town is appoint a new FBI Director who`s credible and acceptable to

both parties. You know, he can appoint anyone he wants and he get it

through with 51 votes now because of the change of the rules in the senate,

but I think it would serve him well to pick somebody who the Democrats

would embrace. I mean, they are floating Merrick Garland, the Supreme Court

nominee picked by President Obama as a possible replacement–

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Yes, he got to get 100.

 

FERRECHIO:  Right.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  –to get all of them.

 

FERRECHIO:  Well, in this instance, if he gets – picks somebody who

Democrats like, you know, he could – things would simmer down with Comey

and the Russian investigation because there would be more faith in how it

would be carried out. But if he picks somebody that looks like he chose

simply to be a loyalist or to improve the chances somehow that he won`t be

implicated in anything, I just think this is going to go – it`s going to

escalate in congress and eventually – eventually, enough Republicans will

come around and put some real pressure on him. It`s not there yet, but I

know it`s percolating because I hear it.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Kathy there is nothing like a bigger store to make the other

headlines disappear like the Yates story disappeared with the Comey story.

I mean if the president does name someone very quickly and gets this sort

of like, you know, throws the bait out, well, I`ll go for the bait and

we`ll forget the other stories, a little for a while.

 

PARKER:  That`s true.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  A little bit for a while.

 

PARKER:  And I think everything he says is accurate. And there are, you

know, finally there is a lot of maybe not enough quite yet, but a lot of

Republican pushback for Trump to do the right thing. And, you know, the

senate is going to continue with their own investigation. We`ll see how

that unrolls. But I`m intrigued by Trump`s trip, you know, and the

inclusion of the, you know, the hitting all three major religions.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  –for a little trivia, Kathleen Parker and I went to Saudi

Arabia together with First Lady Laura Bush–

 

PARKER:  Yes.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  –that`s a little trivia for the viewers.

 

PARKER:  Yes. That was a great trip. And we both came back with a whole new

attitude about, you know, just how we see women in those countries and it

was so–

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Oh, yes, it`s very different.

 

PARKER:  It`s very different than one thinks.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And indeed it is. All right, Jonathan, this is a trip that`s

coming up, getting out of town, good for the president? He`s going to Saudi

Arabia, going to Israel, NATO, he`s going to be – busy.

 

SWAN:  Yes.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And seeing the pope, I should add.

 

SWAN:  And seeing the pope. And what`s really interesting, you know,

listening to H.R. McMaster talk about this trip, Donald Trump is trying to

do two things, isolate Iran on this trip and get the gulf states to kind of

coalesce around a vision for attacking ISIS and countering Iran, and he

wants to be more inclusive in terms of a religious message, which is very

clear and Jared and H.R. McMaster are pushing that as well.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And I just want to add one little bit, I read in the Sudan

Tribune, this is self-interest, that President Bashir of Sudan is under

indictment for genocide and the ICC is also going to be in Saudi Arabia at

that event. He is under indictment. I think he should be arrested, let him

answer that indictment, but anyway that`s me.

 

Finally, the Russian controversy and Vice-President, Mike Pence, he has

mostly been able to stay out of it except for two times when he relayed the

information and turned out to not be true. Here`s what the vice president

said on Wednesday about the Comey firing.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE-PRESIDENT:  President Trump made the right decision

at the right time and to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney

general and the attorney general to ask for the termination, to support the

termination of the Director of the FBI.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But we learned yesterday from President Trump that he had

planned to fire Director Comey regardless of that DOJ recommendation. And

then there was the time back in January when the vice-president said this

about General Michael Flynn.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PENCE:  Conversations that happened to occur around the time that the

United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do

with those sanctions.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But of course now we know that General Flynn did, in fact,

discuss sanctions with the Russian Ambassador, and that discrepancy and

making the VP, the vice-president look bad that got Flynn fired. Jonathan,

back to you, you know, the vice-president, a very busy man. We jump on

every time he seems to have information that may be a couple hours old.

Fair or not fair?

 

SWAN:  Well, it`s fair – it`s fair reporting. All I can tell you is I`m

told that privately he views those two incidents very differently. Like

Flynn, he was genuinely distressed, angry, upset. He saw it as a man to man

thing. Flynn told him something that was false. He went out and humiliated

himself on Sunday television. I think he sees this as much cloudier. He

doesn`t want to get in front of the president, and I don`t know, we watched

that tape I don`t – I think it`s hard to call it a lie, you know. It`s –

he said–

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Oh, I didn`t say the vice-president lied. Oh, no, no. I

didn`t say–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

SWAN:  No, sorry. I wouldn`t even go so far as to say like, OK, it`s

somewhat misleading.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  We were – we were all saying that.

 

SWAN:  Right, right.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Let`s get it straight, although we`re not the vice

president, but–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

SWAN:  All I`m saying is that everything was far more clear cut.

 

PARKER:  All right. Well, I think he now knows how Susan Rice must have

felt.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

PARKER:  You know, he`s been given incorrect information and going out in

good faith and reported it, and now–

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Yes, that was a one-time deal. She went to five – I think

five shows–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

PARKER:  –in one day, but nonetheless, she was giving the information she

was given. But, I think you know, with the – I feel sorry for Vice

President Pence because the impression is that he`s not in the inner

circle, that he is not the person that the president holds close.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, I – but I think he`s got his own portfolio and–

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  –communications department.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

PARKER:  –this speaks to the president is continuing changing –

continuously changing his own narrative and everybody having to quickly

respond to it.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right, 30 seconds, Susan.

 

FERRECHIO:  He`s an incredibly important messenger on Capitol Hill for the

president. It`s really important for the Trump White House to make sure to

protect Pence`s credibility on Capitol Hill. He`s so important out there.

He`s there every week, sometimes every day working on legislation. He`s

such an important ambassador for the White House. I`m curious how this will

change or shape his behavior in the future.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Anyway, thank you all. Coming up, something you need –

actually, something we all need.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:   I have something to say “For

The Record”, and I don`t know about you, but I think this has been a

headspinning week. It started Monday with Former Acting Attorney General,

Sally Yates` testimony, which now seems years ago, then FBI Director,

Comey`s firing that likewise now seems years ago. Meanwhile, we were

sprayed with all sorts of presidential tweets including a threat to stop

press briefings which is how you find out what`s going on in your White

House.

 

And of course, this week, we have lots of name calling, insults,

accusations, allegations, some even going for the throat. It goes on and

on, so bad this week. So, it`s easy to forget we`re all on the same team.

We`re all Americans. So it helps if we can laugh at ourselves and I admit I

don`t need to take myself so seriously all the time. I need to laugh at

myself. So I resurrected this, “Saturday Night Live” making fun of me.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Good evening. Now, I`m Greta Van Susteren. Now, I`m going to

try this again now. She sells, she sells – no, I can`t do it. I can`t do

it. Senator Chris, do you support a ban on Muslims, yes or no?

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well put simply, nyes.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Nyes. Is that no or yes?

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is indeed.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And while I figure now that I`ve made fun of myself, it`s OK

for me to laugh not at, but with White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I`m here to swallow gum, and I`m here to take names.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you kidding me?

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You better run. You don`t have a chance. It`s spicy.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And it looks like Melissa McCarthy is taking her Sean Spicer

act on the road literally. Here she is cruising through the streets of New

York City today on a mobile podium in full Sean SPICER gear.

 

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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