MTP Daily, Transcript 5/17/2017

Guests:
Peter Alexander, Julie O`Sullivan, Hugh Hewitt, Neera Tanden, Chris Coons, Blake Farenthold
Transcript:

Show: MTP DAILY
Date: May 17, 2017
Guest: Peter Alexander, Julie O`Sullivan, Hugh Hewitt, Neera Tanden, Chris
Coons, Blake Farenthold

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC: That does it for this hour. I`m Nicole Wallace.
“MTP DAILY” starts right now with Katy Tur.

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Hey there, Nicole. Thanks very much.

(voice-over): If it`s Wednesday – can you believe it`s only Wednesday?
Tonight, under obstruction?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No politician in history,
and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.

REP. AL GREEN (D), TEXAS: The president has committed obstruction of
justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: We`ll break down all the legal arguments on whether or not President
Trump did, in fact, try on obstruct justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think impeachment is the – is the move right
now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Plus, under investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We can`t with
speculation and innuendo. And there`s clearly a lot of politics being
played.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Where do the Congressional probes go from here?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: Our job is to be responsible, sober and focus only on gathering the
facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: And what is next in a dizzying nine days of nonstop news?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Watergate took nine months and this thing
seems to be taking hours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening, I`m Katy Tur in New York in for Chuck Todd.
Welcome to MTP DAILY.

It is 5:00 on the east coast which, in recent days, has been the hour for
choice breaking news, bomb shells, if you will. When did the FBI director,
James Comey, get fired last week? In the 5:00 hour. “The Washington Post”
dropped its bombshell about the president sharing classified intel with the
Russians at this hour on Monday.

And yesterday during this hour, “The New York Times” dropped its bombshell
White House sharing classified information on Monday. And yesterday during
this hour, “The New York Times” dropped its bombshell story that President
Trump urged FBI Director James Comey to shut down his investigation.

Needless to say, you might want to stick around because tonight, we begin
questions of crime and punishment. Did the President try to obstruct
justice? We`re going to find out. The chairman of the House Oversight
Committee, Jason Chaffetz, has invited FBI Director James Comey to testify
next week. The two heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard
Burr and Mark Warner, want to see him, too. So, does the Judiciary
Committee.

This comes as investigators in Congress are demanding that the FBI turn
over any memos Comey may have written about his conversations with
President Trump. In one of those memos, Comey says the president urged him
to shut down the FBI`s investigation into former White House national
security advisor, Michael Flynn. Saying, quote, “I hope you can see your
way clear to letting this go.” To letting Flynn go.

At an earlier meeting with Comey, current and former intelligence officials
say the president asked Comey for his loyalty. That happened around the
same time the president says he was probing Comey for information about the
investigation.

And amid all of this, Mr. Trump says he also told Comey he was considering
firing him. The White House denies that the president tried to get him to
shut down any investigation. They`ve also denied that the president asked
Comey for his loyalty. The president recently seemed to threaten Comey by
suggesting, he had, quote, “tapes of their conversations.” Lawmakers are
trying to get their hands on those, too, if they exist.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are digging in for a long national nightmare.
Within the party, there`s renewed talk of a Select Committee investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I am absolutely convinced we need a select committee and I`ve said
that for a long time. There are too many dimensions of this issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Two more Republicans today are talking about a special prosecutor.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said she is open to the idea. So did
Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. And Republican Congressman Justin
Amash was asked by the Hill if the details in the Comey memo would merit
impeachment if they`re true? He replied, yes.

For his part, the president today was defiant today. Here`s what he told
the Coast Guard academy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No politician in history,
and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.
You can`t let them get you down. You can`t let the critics and the nay
sayers get in the way of your dreams. I guess that`s why we won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: I`m joined by NBC White House Correspondent, Peter Alexander, and
MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber.

Peter, first to you. What is the latest damage report out of White House?

PETER ALEXANDER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, we heard from
Sean Spicer a short time ago as he was traveling back to the White House
with the president on board Air Force One. He said of that Comey memo of
that meeting specifically that it was not an accurate representation of
that meeting. He said, on that, the president has been clear.

[17:05:01] To be fair, the president actually hasn`t addressed this in any
way so far, not on Twitter at least. He hasn`t said any statements about
it publicly. The White House, earlier, did put out a statement where,
basically, he said this portrayal was not accurate. It said, in fact,
beyond that it wasn`t truthful, it said the president never asked Mr. Comey
or anybody else to, basically, end an investigation at his request.

But I did have an interesting conversation with a senior White House
official today who made the point. They`re not disputing the memo may
exist but are disputing the way it`s being characterizing – characterized,
saying, in fact, Katy, that this is the way the president speaks. That he
wasn`t asking James Comey to end investigation, to back off the
investigation.

He was really just trying to express his personal affinity for Comey. And,
beyond that, he said, why was Comey taking notes and not sharing them? Was
he writing a book or was he trying to advance an investigation – Katy.

TUR: So, why was he? Peter Alexander, thank you.

Ari Melber, that the question I want to ask you. Why didn`t he disclose
the contents or what happened in these meetings at the time of these
meetings?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that`s fairly
unremarkable. The default is to be discreet and not discuss aspects of
these investigations, even under strain. We know that even when he`s
departed from that, he caught hell and many people felt rightly so. But
absence something more direct than just words, I don`t think that he felt
he had an obligation to immediately escalate or go public.

TUR: Asking him to end the investigation into his national security
adviser, what more do you need than that?

MELBER: Well, I think the flip side is what do you want him to do? I
mean, publicly criticizing the president for it isn`t necessarily a great
option. Informing Congress just passes the buck to them.

Part of challenge with Donald Trump who ran on changing things is that he`s
changed so many things, broken so many precedents and protocols that it
puts strain on the system, in terms with how to deal with that. I wouldn`t
say there`s a great record here of precedent to turn to because this
doesn`t usually happen.

Even President Richard Nixon, who ultimately was removed from office over
obstruction of justice was one of the articles of impeachment, wasn`t quite
like this. Although, he did other highly-questionable things.

The other point I`ll make is this is not a drill. I mean, we`re seeing
responses from members of Congress, from federal officials, on and off the
record, on background. This is not a drill. This is now a real test of
whether the United States can find a way to get to the bottom of all this
which doesn`t presuppose anyone`s guilt, not Donald Trump and not his
associates. But does presuppose that the independence of these inquiries
are now in doubt.

TUR: And the White House points to Andrew McCabe testifying the other day
at Congress – on Congress on Capitol Hill, saying that the president was
not trying to interfere with any investigation or he had seen no evidence
of that. Would Andrew McCabe necessarily have known the details of the
meeting that Comey had with the president?

MELBER: I don`t know or, as they say on text, idk. I mean, there`s so
much that we don`t know right. Obviously, McCabe was presenting a
depiction of Congress that, I think, was more helpful to the White House so
they`re going to lean on it.

But, ultimately, this is not going to be resolved by comparing sound bites
or quotes. I think one thing most people seem to agree on, here in this
land of great disagreement, is that Director Comey is going to have to
testify in public and we`re going to hear. And I think that`s why our own
Chuck Todd said, we may be on the precipice of the summer of Comey.

TUR: Yes, Republicans and Democrats both saying that. Everybody I know
has called me to ask me the same thing. People are interested in hearing
from Director Comey – former Director Comey, himself. Ari Melber, I
appreciate it.

MELBER: Thank you.

TUR: And thank you to Peter as well.

Let`s dive more into that legal angle. Julie O`Sullivan is a former
federal prosecutor who`s now a white collar criminal law professor at
Georgetown University. Julie, let`s start with something you told “The New
York Times.” You said President Trump really needs a lawyer. He is
building a beautiful case against himself. Lay out that case.

JULIE O`SULLIVAN, CRIMINAL LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, it
begins, obviously, with the alleged conversation with Jim Comey, asking –
a president asking a head of the FBI, if it did happen, to end an
investigation, is so beyond the scope of protocol. It obviously violates a
lot of rules.

And, more importantly – or not more importantly but also importantly,
apparently, he asked two people, including Comey`s boss, to leave the room
before he made that statement. Which clearly indicates or can be inferred
to indicate the consciousness of guilt that he knew what he was doing was
wrong.

Then, of course, we see that the Russia investigation continues. That
Comey asked for additional resources. There was Congressional testimony
about it.

And then, on the morning of the Comey firing, suddenly, subpoenas are
flying in the Flynn case and it`s publicly reported. So, we know that the
Flynn investigation is, in fact, live and the president knows that. And
then, hours later, he fires Comey. And to put the cherry on top, what he
does is tell Lester Holt that, indeed, Russia was on his mind.

[17:10:06] So, it seems that President Trump has shot himself in the foot
repeatedly. And what he needs now is a first-class white collared defense
lawyer on speed dial.

TUR: You`re talking about that. I believe it was “New York Times”
reporting that in that meeting in the Oval Office between FBI director
Comey and the president, there were two other people there. The A.G. and -
-

O`SULLIVAN: Yes.

TUR: – also the vice president.

O`SULLIVAN: That`s right.

TUR: And then, Donald Trump, the president asked both of them to leave so
that he could talk to director Comey alone.

Do you believe there is enough to argue successfully that there is
obstruction of justice? There`s probable cause for obstruction of justice?

O`SULLIVAN: I think there`s probable cause. I would be very reluctant
because I don`t know all the facts to opine that there has been
obstruction.

I certainly think there has to be an investigation and it cannot creditably
be done by the Department of Justice.

When you think about it, this is obstruction at the highest level into a
Justice Department investigation of a vital national security question.
And in those circumstances, if there was obstruction, some of the witnesses
may well be prosecutors and FBI agents. In that case, one simply can`t
creditably rely on Attorney General Sessions to give us an answer that will
be credible to the American Republican.

TUR: Julie O`Sullivan, thank you very much for your time.

O`SULLIVAN: Thank you.

TUR: Let`s bring in tonight`s panel. Hugh Hewitt is an NBC News political
analyst and the host of the “Hugh Hewitt Show” on Salem Radio Networks.
Michael Steele is an MSNBC Political Analyst and former RNC chairman. And
Neera Tanden is the president and CEO of the American – of the Center for
American Progress. She was the director of policy for both the Obama and
Clinton campaigns.

Michael, good to see you. I haven`t seen you in a while.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to see you. I know, Katy,
how`s it going?

TUR: It`s going great. The first question is to you. You know, we`re
talking about whether or not Donald Trump tried to obstruct the
investigation. Do you believe, if an argument is made for that, that
Republicans are going to have a hard time defending themselves or defending
the president against it?

STEELE: Well, I think a lot of facts have to come into focus for us before
we get to that point. I think a lot of noise that you`re hearing now,
especially from Democrats, talking about impeachment is a little bit
misplaced and well premature.

TUR: And some Republicans are doing it, too.

STEELE: Some Republican, too.

TUR: It`s not just Democrats.

STEELE: But it`s up there (ph) and even those Republicans are now
beginning to say that.

I think what – that, for me, is why you need an independent party take
over this so that we can be clear of what the facts are. And that`s the
total thing. Not just one piece of it. But putting it all together.

Republicans need to have that conversation with the White House. So, I
look for Mitch McConnell is Speaker Ryan to go down and meet with the chief
of staff and the president to say, this is how we need to get this thing
behind us.

We have a legislative agenda. You have policy agendas that we`re trying to
achieve and all of that is now being put on hold because every day, there
is a drip, drip scenario that`s evolving. And the reality is that this
drum beat for impeachment or other types of things is drowning out the
president`s agenda.

TUR: Michael, you have to – you have to imagine that they`ve had those
conversations at the White House. This is not the only controversy that
has been out there. It`s been one after another and we`ve heard
Republicans say they just want to get their agenda done.

Hugh, what do you think? Are Republicans able to go to the White House and
say successfully, hey, listen, back off. Get off Twitter. We need to get
things done. Try not to make any news for, I don`t know, a day, two,
three?

HUGH HEWITT, POLITICAL ANALYST, NBC NEWS: Leader McConnell – Katy, leader
McConnell made that appeal yesterday. But you can`t avoid this. It was an
explosive story by Michael Schmidt. We need to see all the memos.

Late today, the Judiciary Committee subpoenaed all of the memos of Director
Comey that has anything to do with this, including those he might have
written about conversations with President Obama, with Attorney General
Lynch, with anyone connected with the Russia investigation. And they want
to see all the Comey memos.

I had Ben Sasse on my radio show this morning. He`s chairman of the
subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee charged with oversight. He thought
it would have been appropriate for Director Comey during Director Comey`s
May 3rd testimony to his committee to have said, the president is leaning
on me.

And Senator Leahy, Democrat, Senator Coons, Democrat, asked Mr. Comey on
May 3rd, do we need a special prosecutor? He demurred to the deputy
attorney general. He didn`t bring up this memo, this conversation.

And now, I`m going to look for the testimony by the deputy attorney general
next week. Under oath, I expect members of the committee to ask him if Mr.
Comey ever told him that the president attempted to obstruct justice. If
he didn`t, there are more questions not only Donald Trump but for Jim
Comey.

[17:15:01] TUR: What about the Republicans? At what point are they going
to have to break with the president?

Neera, how much pressure are Democrats going to be putting on them? Is it
the special elections that are happening in the two districts that are
coming up? If they loser – Republicans lose, do you think Democrats are
going to be in a better position to convince another Republicans that, yes,
we got a call for a special prosecutor an independent investigation, more
pressure on the White House?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, I
hate to be Pollyannaish but I don`t actually think this is about a special
election in these districts. So then, obviously, these issues are coming
to the fore and not just in those elections but also in town halls. People
are demanding special prosecutors.

But this is really an issue about protecting our democracy that
independents, Democrats, I hope Republicans are asking for some
accountability. And the truth here is that Director Comey wrote a memo
which he shared with colleagues at the time that it occurred.

And I find it, frankly, ridiculous that Republicans are saying he should
have told us in these open committee meetings about this. When the truth
of this whole situation is that there seems to have been a big effort or
some effort to actually lean on the director.

He got fired by the president. If Jim Comey had said anything about this,
he would have been fired on the spot. What we are looking at is a
president who seems to have fired the director of the FBI because the
director is finding evidence.

And let me just remind the viewers that we had before – a few days before
the FBI director was fired, there were reports that – there was reports
from the FBI that there was evidence of collusion.

Now, I`d like the get to the bottom of this so I hope we`ll have a special
prosecutor. But I think we should just look at the facts that we have and
you can see evidence – that evidence is like a map to what obstruction of
justice is.

TUR: Here`s one reason why the Republicans might not want to break too
forcefully with the president right now. 82 percent of Republican voters,
right now, approve of the job the president is doing.

Anyway, I want to have you guys back a little bit later so I`m going to go
right now. So, Hugh, Michael and Neera, stay with us.

Just ahead, Senator Chris Coons and Congressman Blake Farenthold react to
the latest White House controversy.

And if it`s felt like busy week and a half, well, it has been. We`ll track
the time line of the trouble for the Trump administration next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back to MTP DAILY.

As we said at the top of the hour, how is it only Wednesday? The news
cycle has been in overdrive lately. I`ll talk to a prominent Senate
Democrat in a moment. But, first, we`ll rewind nine days of nonstop news
in 90 seconds.

[17:19:51]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have some exclusive reporting from our team over
at the White House. Peter Alexander is still standing by.

PETER ALEXANDER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: This is some
breaking news. President Trump was warned by President Obama against
hiring Mike Flynn.

[17:20:04] SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: To state
obvious, you don`t want your national security adviser compromised with the
Russians.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Breaking news, Jim Comey is out at the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you fire director Comey?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because he wasn`t doing a
good job.

ANDREA MITCHELL, CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRST CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Today,
Russia`s foreign minister is in Washington meeting with the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the Russia investigation?

TODD: There was one news agency allowed in the Trump-Lavrov meeting and it
belonged to Vladimir Putin.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was going to fire Comey.
Oh, I was going to fire regardless of reconciliation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a tweet, you said there might be time recordings.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we can report is there are as many as seven
individuals being interviewed for a job as the FBI director today.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think it requires somebody like
me, a Republican, to call Comey before the Judiciary Committee.

TUR: There`s a new potential explosive reporting out from “The Washington
Post.” They`re saying that President Trump revealed highly-classified
information to the Russian foreign minister.

TODD: Speaking of breaking news in the moment. James Comey memo,
President Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to shut down the federal
investigation on Mr. Trump`s former national security advisor Michael D.
Flynn.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It`s just another scandal. It`s just
another scandal. I mean, it`s now accelerated. Watergate took nine months
and this thing seems to be taking hours.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back.

Washington is still reeling from a monumental 10 days of White House
developments. Lawmakers are catching their breath and figuring out where
things go from here.

I`m joined now by Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons to try and figure
it out. Senator, thanks for joining us, number one. I used this analogy
during the campaign. Donald Trump was somebody who stained his shirt. And
instead of getting a new shirt, he kept staining his shirt in order so
people couldn`t figure out where the original stain was.

Is that what`s happening now? There are so many controversies that he`ll
be able to survive this one because the – it`s just so loud.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, that`s a fascinating metaphor. I`m
reminded of the proverbial saying, the curse is may you live in interesting
times.

I am worried, frankly, that the American people are getting exhausted.
And, as you put it, that somehow President Trump will avoid accountability
or responsibility for a number of things that have happened in the last few
weeks, simply because of the sheer drum beat, the steady pressure of new
developments.

In the next two weeks here in the Senate, I expect we will move from
alarming press reports to actual evidence. We will get whatever tapes or
transcripts or memos there are. Tomorrow, all of us will get to question
deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

And next week, I am optimistic that we`ll hear from former FBI Director Jim
Comey in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Intelligence
Community or possibly both. That will allow to us move from allegations in
the press to facts in front of us here in the Senate.

TUR: To be fair, Senator, without “The New York Times” or “The Washington
post” or the other news organizations that have been doing reporting on
that, NBC included, where would the Democrats be? Is the press doing their
job? Are the Democrats doing their job to try to uncover a lot of these
details?

COONS: Well, Katy, there`s a lot of investment by press outlets in
investigative journalism and I`m grateful for that. A free press is one of
the key pillars of our Constitutional order. So is respect for law.

We`ve only had one previous incident where an FBI director was fired by a
president in modern times. That was by President Clinton and it was with
good cause. And it was something that was widely explained, well
understood. And he had a replacement in line who had broad bipartisan
support soon thereafter.

This is a very different sort of a firing of an FBI director. And I am
grateful that the press has dug into the details and that we`ve learned
about a number of alarming developments. Whether it`s the inappropriate
sharing of highly-classified information with the Russian foreign minister
in the Oval Office or the memos that former FBI Director Comey allegedly
wrote to file immediately following deeply troubling conversations in which
President Trump tried influence ongoing FBI investigations.

[17:25:08] TUR: Speaking of lining up a new FBI director, the White House
now says that Joe Lieberman is somebody that they are considering. Would
Joe Lieberman be an acceptable FBI director in your estimation?

COONS: Well, Katy, that`s a – that`s an interesting development. I`ve
generally been saying that the most desirable candidate would be someone
with a long career in federal law enforcement not someone who has stood for
election. I know Senator Lieberman. He served as the attorney general of
Connecticut. He`s a graduate of Yale Law School. And I believe he served
on the Homeland Security Committee as well as Armed Services.

And so, would have some familiarity with intelligence matters. You know, I
think he would be a significant improvement over a number of other nominees
that have been floated.

My advice to the president, if he happens to be watching, that he really
take his time. And that he conduct a thorough search and that he come up
with a nominee who will enjoy broad support here in Congress.

It is critical that we have a next FBI director who can command support
from across the political spectrum here in Congress to move past this
moment in which the FBI is perceived as being the subject of real
interference and intrusion by the Trump administration.

TUR: If you see the Comey memo and it does turn out to be true that the
president asked him to back off the Flynn investigation, do you believe
that is obstruction of justice?

COONS: Well, the details of a charge of obstruction of justice are hard to
prove. But that would certainly be an alarming development.

It would make it clear that President Trump had directly and personally
tried to influence the outcome of an FBI investigation into one of his most
senior campaign and cabinet officials, former national security adviser
Mike Flynn. Someone who did ultimately have to resign in disgrace after it
became clear that he had lied to the vice president.

And there is an ongoing investigation into the conduct of the national
security advisor.

TUR: Do you believe that`s obstruction of justice?

COONS: I think it`s certainly in that neighborhood. There`s a number of
elements of proving the charge of obstruction of justice. It requires
proof of intent and I think there`d have to be more than just the
allegations we have now.

But as you said, if former FBI Director Comey produced the memo and came in
front of us and testified, we`d be well on our way to an obstruction of
justice charge.

TUR: Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, I appreciate your time, sir.

COONS: Thank you.

TUR: I`m joined now by Texas Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold.
Congressman, thank you very much.

Back when president – former President Bill Clinton met with Loretta Lynch
on the tarmac, you called for a special counsel to investigate Hillary
Clinton. If it was improper for Bill Clinton to do that then, where do you
stand now with what is going on with the president and the former FBI
director?

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: Well, we didn`t have a single special
prosecutor during the Obama administration looking into all sorts of
allegations. And I think that`s evidence that Congress is able to do its
job investigating as well as the various law enforcement agencies like the
FBI.

TUR: So – but you called for it. You don`t want to call for it again?
You think Congress is going to be fine to do this?

FARENTHOLD: I think we`re way early in the process. All we`ve got now are
overhyped anonymous sources and innuendos. I want to hear from Comey. I
want to see the memos. And that`s going to happen next week.

TUR: If it turns out that Donald Trump did ask Comey to end the FBI
investigation into Michael Flynn, do you think that is appropriate?

FARENTHOLD: Listen, it depends on how it was done. You know, –

TUR: Is there any circumstance where it`s OK for the president of the
United States to ask the FBI director to end an investigation into somebody
associated with his administration and his campaign?

FARENTHOLD: I think it`s perfectly all right for the president to say to
somebody, this is – this is a good guy. I like him. It depends on what
the intent was and it depends on the facts and circumstances. That`s why
we need to see the memo and we need to talk to Mr. Comey.

TUR: If this was Hillary Clinton, would you say it depends on what the
intent was or would you be calling for her –

FARENTHOLD: I`d absolutely –

TUR: – to be taken out?

FARENTHOLD: – I would absolutely be concerned with the intent. The
intent is an element of obstruction of justice. Listen, nobody is above
the law, well, except maybe Hillary Clinton.

TUR: Nobody is above the law except maybe Hillary Clinton. The president
of the United States may have released highly-classified information to the
Russians.

FARENTHOLD: Yes, and that`s not – that`s not a criminal offense.

TUR: Does that concern you? It`s not a criminal offense. If Hillary
Clinton would release –

FARENTHOLD: There is no evidence that he actually did that.

TUR: – highly classified information to the Russians, do you think that -
- what would you say?

FARENTHOLD: Absolutely. She is not the president. She didn`t have the
authority to do that. In fact, she did let highly classified information
on her private server which I believe was in violation of the law.

TUR: So you think it is okay for the president to say to the Russians,
here`s some highly classified information.

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: Every single person who was in that meeting said that the
president did not do that. That is an allegation that has yet to be proven.

TUR: No. They said that he didn`t reveal sources or methods.

FARENTHOLD: Listen, the president has the ability to declassify information
as he sees fit. I think it is highly appropriate for the president to be
seeking the Russians` aid in fighting ISIS. It`s a common enemy that we
have with Russia. There are things – Russia is not our enemy on all
fronts.

TUR: Is Russia our ally?

FARENTHOLD: Again, we`ve got interests in common and fighting ISIS is one
of those. That`s the context we`re looking at now.

TUR: Would it be appropriate for the president to record conversations in
the oval office between him and the administration officials?

FARENTHOLD: Again, I think there are various considerations here. I
certainly don`t like the way it looks like happened in the Nixon
administration. It has a very negative political connotation. If the
president were doing that, I think that would be a mistake.

TUR: What do you want to ask FBI Director James Comey?

FARENTHOLD: I want to ask Mr. Comey if he felt like the president was
pressuring him in the investigation. And if he answers that yes, I want to
ask him, why didn`t you report it to your superiors? Why didn`t you report
it to the Justice Department? Why didn`t you report it to congress?

TUR: Last night, you told my colleague, Greta Van Susteren, that you
believe the president is climbing the learning curve, but not quite as fast
as some folks would want him. Do you believe that the president of the
United States should be on a learning curve?

FARENTHOLD: Listen, the American people elected Donald Trump because he was
not a career politician. They wanted somebody who would get things done, a
man of action. Listen. In Washington, there are all sorts of ways you`re
supposed to deal with the press, the way you`re supposed to say things and
not say things, but the American people are fed up with that and that`s why
they elected a straight shooter like Donald Trump.

TUR: I want to ask you about Russia again because all of our intelligence
organizations have said that Russia tried to interfere in our election. So
given that, do you believe that it is appropriate for the president to be
sharing highly classified information with the Russians?

FARENTHOLD: We still got ongoing investigations as to what if any
interference in the election.

TUR: No, no, no, the intelligence committee has said that they did do that.
They testified saying that they tried to interfere.

FARENTHOLD: Russia has the ability to help us on the war on terror.

TUR: But it`s okay that they tried to interfere in the election because
they might help us in the war on terror?

FARENTHOLD: I`m not saying it is okay that they interfered in the election.
I`m saying that the facts aren`t all in on it. This is the problem. You
folks in the media are just having a feeding frenzy over Donald Trump and
the Russians and are not waiting to get all the facts in. All this stuff
with Comey is coming from anonymous sources with a memo we have yet to see
with no comment from James Comey.

This is all premature. It is just a feeding frenzy of the media. I have
five televisions in my office. This is wall to wall coverage. There are
lots of other things going on in the country right now. This is stopping
the president from moving ahead with the agenda he ran on and the American
people elected him for.

And that is fixing health care, that is lowering taxes, that is putting
Americans back to work, that is securing our border. It is making America
great again. Instead you`ve got pretty much every journalist in Washington
out to get Donald Trump. If he said, oh, I like puppies, the story would be
Donald Trump hates kittens.

TUR: To be fair, Donald Trump is tweeting quite a bit about all of these
topics and only furthering the news cycle on them including making
allegations that are so far baseless, like the former president of the
United States, President Obama, wiretapped him in Trump Tower even though
the intelligence community said that that is not true. Anyway, Congressman
Farenthold, thank you very much for joining us.

FARENTHOLD: It was fun.

TUR: Thank you. Still ahead, what information did President Trump give
Russian leaders. U.S. officials say it`s too sensitive for the media to
report. But could we get more insight from Russian president Vladimir
Putin?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Up next, could Vladimir Putin have taped President Trump`s
conversation with Russian foreign leaders? But first, Hampton Pearson has
the “CNBC Market Wrap.” Hi, Hampton.

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Katy. The
Dow and S&P haven`t seen a day this bad since September. Stocks tumble
wiping out monthly gains as investors worry about the latest scandal in
Washington who put the brakes on the Trump`s tax, health care, and the
stimulus plan. The Dow falling 372 points, the S&P down 43, the Nasdaq
closing down 158 points. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back. Despite the Trump administration insisting that it was
wholly appropriate for the president to disclose secret information to
Russian diplomats last week, today officials tell NBC news that some of
this information is so sensitive that news organizations here in the United
States are still being asked not to report it because doing so could harm
U.S. national security.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in earlier today,
saying that if the United States administration wanted them to, they would
release records from that meeting between President Trump, Russian Foreign
Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak. Our Andrea Mitchell asked Secretary
of State Rex Tillerson about that earlier.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Mr.
Secretary, Vladimir Putin is offering congress a transcript of that Lavrov
oval office meeting. Do you think the Russians were bugging the oval
office?

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I would have no way to know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Joining me now is John McLaughlin, former acting director and deputy
director of the CIA and an NBC News national security analyst. Thank you
for joining me, John. Shouldn`t the secretary of state know whether or not
the Russians were bugging the oval office?

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF CIA, NBC
NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I`ll excuse him ignorance on this
given that he is a diplomat and an oil executive, not an intelligence
officer. I would say if they were bugging the oval office, that would be a
scandal greater than or at least as great as anything we`re currently
witnessing, if they have been permitted to go in that office with some kind
of gear that could do that.

In all likelihood, what Putin is talking about is a written memorandum
about the meeting. That said, I would just add that there are times in the
past when the Russians have had technology that we didn`t have, and did not
detect. But in this case I`m skeptical that they were bugging it.

TUR: They did allow a task news agency photographer to come in with his
appointment to take photos. So is there a circumstance where something that
the photographer brought in, could have potentially been recording?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, conceivable. Again, if someone did not carefully examine
and electronically and otherwise all the equipment that anyone took into
that room, that would be a scandal in itself. It really would.

TUR: So Putin is talking about coming to the president`s defense
potentially and releasing these transcripts. Is it coming to the
president`s defense or could it be interpreted as a threat to the
president?

MCLAUGHLIN: I don`t think it is a threat. I think it is just Putin having
fun with us. I mean, he has manipulated our system pretty effectively until
now. He rolled the ball down the lane and broke up most of the pins. There
are a few still standing. But I think he is just enjoying the moment after
having carried out really one of the most successful covert action
operations in Russian history.

TUR: And his officials were invited into the oval office. At what point is
it appropriate for the U.S. to share intelligence with the Russians? When
is it appropriate?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it is appropriate on some occasions, and I have done it.
I`ve been authorized to do it by our government. I`ve gone to Russia. I`ve
met with him here on occasion. This is in the past, of course. But when you
do, everything you`re sharing with them is very carefully vetted in advance
by the intelligence agencies that had anything to do with the collection.

And certainly, before you would share anything that was provided by another
government, you would seek their permission. When I say vetted, I mean
every word is gone over and so forth then it goes to them on a piece of
paper marked releasable Russia. So it is not something you do casually or
extemporaneously which is apparently what happened here.

TUR: And how much does it concern you?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it concerns me a lot. Of course bearing in mind we
qualify that a bit to say we don`t know exactly what we shared.

TUR: Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: We don`t know the words, all of that. But yes, the fact that
most note worthy to me is that Thomas Bossert alerted the White House
counter-terrorism adviser, alerted intelligence agencies that something
happened they needed to know about and then of course someone asked “The
Washington Post” not to use some of the data which tells me that whatever
was shared would be deliciously interesting to the Russians.

TUR: John McLaughlin, thank you very much for joining me, sir.

MCLAUGHLIN: Pleasure.

TUR: Still ahead, make way, for you heard it right, ducklings in D.C.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: At least two Republican members of congress who have been openly
critical of the president are now acknowledging impeachment is a
possibility. First, Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo acknowledged the
possibility yesterday. And today Congressman Justin Amash said if the
allegations behind Comey`s memo are true, it is ground for impeachment.
Amash didn`t back down from that statement when NBC`s Kristen Welker
literally chased him down today. Take a look.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Congressman, if the
Comey memo turns out to be true, will you call for an impeachment?

JUSTIN AMASH, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN: I
have nothing further to add.

WELKER: Do you stand by your comments that you would call for an
impeachment?

AMASH: I have nothing further to add.

WELKER: Whose word do you trust more, President Trump or former FBI
Director James Comey?

AMASH: I have nothing further to add.

WELKER: Earlier today, you said that the president should be impeached if
the Comey memo is true. Do you see him by that comment?

AMASH: I have nothing further to add.

WELKER: Do you think the president may have obstructed justice?

AMASH: I have nothing further to add.

WELKER: Do you still have full confidence in the president?

AMASH: I have nothing further to add.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Time for “The Lid.” The panel is back; Hugh Hewitt, Michael Steele,
Neera Tanden. Michael, let`s start with you again. Do you consider the GOP
dam to be starting to crack when it comes to support for this president?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there
may be some pressures you could see from the clip you showed before the
break. I have nothing further to add. I mean, I don`t know how much more
the members especially want to go the rest of the summer and into the fall
having reporters chasing them with questions about this story line, to be
honest about it.

So, you probably will see pressure come from various points to stay in
line, to sort of toe the line, if you will, on the narrative from the
Republican side. But then there is what`s going on at home as well and how
this is playing in the various districts.

So, I think these members, especially in the house, are going to be caught
in between those pressure points and whether or not they crack remains to
be seen. But I don`t know how much longer you can say “I have nothing
further to add” when clearly there is something you have to say about this
at some point.

TUR: So we live in the modern era, we have the 24-hour news cycle, we have
Twitter and all these social media, you can keep track of what anyone
thinks on any given subject. Because of that, we have quite a bit of sound
and information from Republicans about what they thought of Hillary Clinton
and her handling of classified information. Let`s play that.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t have someone in the
oval office who doesn`t understand the meaning of the word confidential or
classified.

PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: She grossly was
negligent. She mishandled classified information and now she wants to be
commander in chief. I think the DNI, the director of national intelligence,
should block her access to classified information given how recklessly she
handled this.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Men and women mishandling
classified information is a crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: So, Hugh, are the Republican`s own words, vice-president, Paul Ryan,
Donald Trump, others, are their own words going to play a hand in
potentially turning the tide on this? Do they risk looking like hypocrites
to the American people?

HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST WITH THE SALEM RADIO NETWORK, NBC NEWS
POLITICAL ANAYLST: No, I don`t think so. I think it`s much more serious
than playing a game of how bad was Secretary Clinton which I think was
pretty bad with regards to the server. Tomorrow in the United States
senate, an unusual meeting happens, Katy. All 100 senators are going to
hear from Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

And I hope the leader, Leader McConnell`s first question is, did Director
Comey ever tell you that President Trump leaned on him or obstructed the
investigation? And that the second question is, were you ever told about
these Comey memos? Because we`ve got to get to these Comey memos. If they
are as bad as some on the left and some in the media would have us believe
without having read them, then it`s a very bad week for Donald Trump
indeed, including the oval office meeting with the Russians.

But right now we`re all operating off of speculation and one phone call
with one “The New York Times” reporter and a couple of other stories. I
want to dial it back and see. And I don`t think these tapes help us focus
on, there may have been a very serious security breach in the oval office.
There may be a need to go very deep into what Donald Trump was asking James
Comey, but we`re not there yet. I think we just need to slow down.

TUR: Neera, I feel like you want to get in on this.

(LAUGHTER)

NEERA TANDEN, DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISER AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE CENTER FOR
AMERICAN PROGRESS: Number one, if I were Director Comey, maybe I wouldn`t
tell Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein about what Donald Trump said to me
because he has acted from his actions, he basically manufactured a memo for
his firing, for Director Comey`s firing. I think Rosenstein is a person who
has really sacrificed his reputation and his conduct over the last ten
days.

And the idea that Republicans who six months ago were lauding Comey now are
attacking him and basically saying he should have come forward to talk to
his superiors. His superiors were Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein, both who
basically have been manufacturing reasons for the termination of Director
Comey. It seems very rational he would not have trusted them, and I look
forward to him actually speaking. But can I also just make one further
point?

TUR: You do quickly.

(LAUGHTER)

TANDEN: Hugh Hewitt himself criticized Hillary Clinton`s handling much more
than he has criticized anything about Donald Trump and I think that is a
tragedy.

TUR: I got to leave it there. Hugh, I`m sorry, I`m not going to let you get
in on that. We just certainly run out of time. Hugh, Michael, Neera,
appreciate it. After the break, ducks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Finally tonight, in case you missed it, an indulgence here for a
second. Washington`s been getting a bad rap for being a swamp that needs to
be drained. But with the warm muggy, and yes, humid climate comes natural
wildlife. We`re not talking about political animals. The Library of
Congress tweeted yesterday that the U.S. capitol police helped the staff
rescue a mother duck and her ducklings from the roof of the library.

Most people on Twitter praised the effort, but another duck-related
endeavor is still ruffling some feathers on Capitol Hill. That would be the
Union Square duck ramp which offers an assist to Mallard ducks of all ages
to spend the spring on the Capitol reflecting pool. It looks to us like the
design fix the bill, but it got some lawmakers in a fowl mood. Republican
North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker tweeted, if it looks like a duck and
walks like a duck, it must be government waste.

We actually invited Congressman Walker on the show tonight, but he ducked
our interview request. Guys with the scandals plaguing all of Washington
this weak, this small exhibit of cuteness was a nice distraction. So, thank
you to the architect of the Capitol for quacking us up. That`s all for
tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more “MTP Daily.” “For the Record”
with Greta starts right now. Lo and behold, she has got some pretty big
breaking news.

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

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