Show: FOR THE RECORD Date: February 14, 2017 Guest: Kasie Hunt, Adam Smith, Jim Jordan, Hallie Jackson, Alex Isenstdt, Sabrina Siddiqui, Heidi Przybyla, Bill Kristol; Howard Dean; Heidi Przybyla, Sabrina Siddiqui, Alex Isenstadt
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: And there`s breaking news tonight, he got fired. And now, the Trump White House under siege with a growing crisis surrounding former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and his December calls to the Russian ambassador. The White House today confirming that the president has known for weeks about Flynn`s call. Meanwhile, there`s breaking news today, Democrats on fire now demanding an independent investigation. And there is more, tonight, new revelations the FBI questioned Flynn in the first days of the Trump administration. Was Flynn vulnerable to blackmail by a foreign power? Who knew what and when?
A matter of trust, now that`s the reason the White House says the president asked for the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn just 25 days into the new administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We`ve been reviewing and evaluating this issue with respect to General Flynn on a daily basis for a few weeks trying to ascertain the truth. We got to a point not based on illegal issue, but based on a trust issue with the level of trust between the president and General Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change. The president was very concerned that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others. The president must have a complete and wavering trust for the person in that position. The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation in a series of other questionable instances is what led the president to ask for General Flynn`s resignation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now the press secretary also answering questions about why the president said he did not know of the story on Friday when asked on Air Force One in route to Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: When the president was asked on Air Force One, yesterday -- I mean, on Friday, rather. (INAUDIBLE) reports about conversation with the Russians about sanctions, he said I don`t know about it, I`ll look into. Was he being truthful?
SPICER: He was asked specifically is, was he aware of the Washington Post story. He had not seen that at the time. Of course, he was involved. I`ve just said that he was aware of the situation right after the White House council informed him back in January.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: And here is what President Trump did say on Friday on Air Force One.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reports that General Flynn had conversations with Russia about sanctions before you were sworn in?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don`t know about it. I haven`t seen it. What report is that?
TRUMP: I`ve haven`t seen that. I`ll look at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, the president did not directly address the matter today, but did tweet, quote, the real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on North Korea, et cetera? And just a few hours ago, The New York Times reporting FBI agents interviewed Michael Flynn in the first days of the Trump administration. NBC`s Kasie Hunt joins us from Capitol Hill. Kasie?
KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS: Greta, good evening. Capitol Hill back in fourth today over exactly how the investigation here are going to proceed in to what happened over the course of the last 24 hours and the last several months. The committee, of course, is already investigating potential Russia influence in the U.S. election. But the question today was would those investigation expand in scope to include what is happened with Michael Flynn. Republican leaders including the majority leader in the senate Mitch McConnell address this earlier today. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH MCCONNELL, U.S. SENATOR: The intelligence committee is already looking at Russian involvement in our election, and they have broad jurisdiction over the intel community where at large
ROY BLUNT, U.S. SENATOR: I think it`s likely that General Flynn will be at some point asked to come and talk to the committee about both post-election activities and any other activities that he would be aware of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So why is this important, Greta? It means that this investigation going on in the senate intelligence committees are likely to expand in scope to include Flynn, now that is a little bit of movement from Mitch McConnell, although he still resisting calls from Democrats to have this independent investigation or independent select committee, et cetera. That helps McConnell retain control over what happens in this investigation. You`ll remember the intelligence committee conducts their investigations behind closed doors. They have access to more information than other regular congressional committees. But there will be -- he will still have some control over what exactly comes out of the investigation. We`ve also talked -- I talked to Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the oversight committee in the house, he said, you know what this is taking care of itself, so no movement on that front. But clearly, some increasing pressure on the GOP. Take a look at this, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Kasie, they`re also says in public in things like, you know, take care of itself, Republican GOP, behind the scenes. Are they disturbed or distressed that just few days into this administration there`s enormous upheaval about 16 blocks away?
HUNT: I think this is becoming a pattern for Republicans members of congress where they feel like every day they are reacting to a crisis that is occurring up here -- excuse me, down the road at the White House while they are trying to kind of move forward with the major priorities that they have. You know, what have Republicans have not done in this first month, major progress on health care law, major progress on tax reform. Those are the priorities for Republicans leaders here in congress. Instead, every day they`re being asked questions about the latest flap. And I think this one falls into a more serious category than many of the others. We`ve gotten used to Paul Ryan getting up there and saying I`m not responding to the latest tweet, I`m just not going to do it. But in this case, he came out and said right away, look, this was the right move, I support what the president did here. I think that tells you a little bit about the seriousness of how a congressional leaders feels about what happened today. Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Kasie, thank you. With me Congressman Adam Smith, a Democrat from the great state of Washington, and ranking member of the house armed services committee. Good evening, sir.
ADAM SMITH, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Good evening.
VAN SUSTEREN: The GOP, at least, publicly served -- days ago about saying they`ll take care of itself. Do you feel the same?
SMITH: No, obviously, not. It was the house GOP has been. You`ve had, you know, Senator McCain, Senator Graham, they`ve been calling for an investigation into Russian activity in our election, at least for a long time. You`ve heard Roy Blunt, John Cornyn, and others suggest that they need to look into this. It`s the house that`s been largely silent and I think that`s wrong. They should exercise their oversight.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, in my prior life I was a criminal defense lawyer, and the idea of talking to the FBI is rather terrifying when you hear the - - has. You know, Martha Stewart you may remember is investigated for insider trading, never charged with insider trading. She met with the FBI and was charge of false statements. What I`ve read in The New York Times and this really would concern me tonight if I were Flynn`s lawyer, Flynn himself. This is from The New York Times, investigators believe that Mr. Flynn was, quote, not entirely forthcoming in the investigation, and that was in the day`s right after the inauguration.
SMITH: Well, in my prior live I was a prosecutor, so I`m with you. You know, if you are talking to criminal investigators or under oath, you`ve better tell the truth. Or if you`re not sure say, no comment, take the 5th, or something. So I think there is some jeopardy for Michael Flynn in this. But the larger question really is what`s going on with the White House. The level of chaos, the level of disorganization, you mentioned some of the priorities that they haven`t moved on at all. And meanwhile, in the national security front we`ve got the whole Russia problem which they seem to refuse to look into it. Now, Michael Flynn was part of it, but it`s not just Michael Flynn. You know, we`ve had the Russia up their activities in Eastern Ukraine, through the use of guerilla warfare. President Trump hasn`t said a word about it. So what is the relationship between Russia and this White House beyond Michael Flynn?
VAN SUSTEREN: Would you be willing -- because, look, I think that there`s always a risk of jeopardy, legal jeopardy. Again, as a former criminal defense -- you know, always paranoid for clients thinking the worst could happen. Would you be willing to give him some sort of immunity so that he could testify before congress and say what any possible involvement that Russia might have in any of this, even if he knows anything?
SMITH: Yeah. That`s not my call.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that something that you would want them to do, the committee, to get him to talk.
SMITH: Not yet.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
SMITH: Because there`s other people to talk too, and there`s other things to learn from Michael Flynn. I mean, that`s the biggest chip you have, you just don`t give it away.
VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of General Flynn, good idea for him to resign.
SMITH: Yes, I think it was -- it was a bad idea for him to be hired in the first place. But again, lost in all of this, if you go back to when Michael Flynn was hired, remember he was involved in some of these retweets of these fake news conspiracy theories repeatedly.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, it was some.
SMITH: No, he was as well. And basically, you know, it had said many things that showed that he was not qualified for this position. I don`t think he should have gotten it the first place. So, I guess the only good news out of all of this is at least he`s not going to be the national security advisor. But as you indicated, as your reported had indicated, there is a lot more to this story.
VAN SUSTEREN: And what are you hearing from the GOP in the house, I mean, behind the scenes, when they go to the microphone what do they say to you?
SMITH: Well, mostly, it`s silence. Look, as far back as, you know, right after the election, some Republican members of congress have said -- come up to me and said, do you think they have something on Trump? I mean, this was even before the whole dossier thing came out. They were dumbfounded by the way he was talking about Russia, given what Putin has been doing in this country and in others. So they`re worried about this. They`re worried about what the Russian connection is to the Trump administration. Because keep in mind, before Donald Trump got elected to president it was typically Republicans as much as Democrats who are sounding the alarm bells about what Vladimir Putin was doing to the world. So they are concerned.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you for joining me.
SMITH: Thanks for the chance.
VAN SUSTEREN: With me Congressman Jim Jordan, Republican from Ohio, he served on the house oversight judiciary committee, he`s also one of the founders of the house freedom caucus, and had dinner last night with Vice president Mike Pence. Good evening, sir.
JIM JORDAN, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Great to be with you, Greta. Congratulations on your new gig there. First time I`ve been on.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you. I have to get you down here to the set. That`s what I wanted to do tonight, but we`ll do that maybe next week. All right, what do you think about what`s going on with General Flynn now former NSA?
JORDAN: Yeah, let`s get the facts. Look, the intel committee is the right place to do this. Let`s get the facts. Once we get the facts, if there`s further investigation that are warranted, look, no one ever accused me of being easy on my own party if that`s what`s needed, and the oversight committee is the place that we should do that, then I`d be all for that. But I want the facts first from the appropriate committees, the committees of jurisdiction, the house and senate intelligence committee.
VAN SUSTEREN: How did it get to this?
JORDAN: Well, I`m not sure. You know, who knows how these things all place out. I think what would be helpful is if we be focus on accomplishing what we told the voters what we`re going to do, and maybe not all this focus on what`s going on in the White House, who`s saying what to who, and all these palace intrigue, where we could be focus on -- let`s actually repeal Obamacare which is what we told the voters we could do.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, I`ll get to that. And I`ll ask you though, but I know that the freedom caucus had dinner last night with the vice president. But issues having to do with Vladimir Putin and national security are not things that we just sort of shovel off to the side because of other promises.
JORDAN: I didn`t say that. I agree. And I think Putin, some of the things he`s done are very wrong. And that we should approach it that way. I don`t see a problem with engaging Russia. I think the pattern that Ronald Reagan put down was a pretty good pattern to follow, engage but also demands certain things. And when appropriate, you can walk away like Reagan did it in Iceland. So I think that`s the proper approach. Let`s hope that`s the approach that the administration will follow. But, right now, let`s get the facts. And that`s -- the proper place for that to happen is in the intel committees.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you believe that the intel community will be aggressive and will jump on this and get moving? Or this is going to be something that`s going to dog the entire Trump administration for the next four years.
JORDAN: I think Chairman Nunez will do his job. I think if it gets to the oversight committee we will do our job. So, yeah, I think the key is to get to the facts, and I think that will happen in all of the committees that will in fact begin to look at this.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, last night you had dinner with Vice president Pence, and I`ll get to the whole freedom caucus and Obamacare, but did he mention anything about this? Because he`s the one who went on television and repeated -- apparently now, I don`t know if I`ll call it misstatement or a lie, but he`s the one who looks so bad.
JORDAN: Yeah, Greta. I typically don`t talk about the details of conversation behind closed doors and closed meetings. And I did have to step out for a vote in the oversight committee during part of the vice president presentation. But when I was there he did not get into this particular issue. He talked in general about the things we need to accomplish for the American people, including repealing Obamacare, reforming the tax code, building the wall, all those things that we need to get done. He talked about all -- get outstanding jobs as the vice president always does when he`s making a presentation.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now let me turn to Obamacare and the freedom caucus. It appears that you are much more eager to repeal Obamacare than the rest of GOP`s. So what are you going to do about it?
JORDAN: We`ve said last night, we took a position, unanimous position, that we should send the same repeal bill that was pass in 2015. Not -- you think about the context right now that people are talking about keeping some of the taxes. There`re people talking about the Cassidy-Collins bill which is basically -- if you like Obamacare, you get to keep it. There`s talk about not defunding Planned Parenthood. There`s talked about actually repairing the bill not repealing and replacing, repairing as if, you know, implying that there`s something worth fixing there, something worth keeping. So in that framework we said let`s at least put on President Trump`s desk what we put on President Obama`s desk just a year and a half ago, after all everyone already voted for that. So we think that`s the right thing to do and repeal, and then have a separate vote on replacement at the same time.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what does speaker of the house Paul Ryan think about that?
JORDAN: Well, we`ll going to talk to him here and, you know, briefly, and we`ll see. But he has been fully committed to getting this done as quickly as possible. We`re just saying let`s speed it up. And a good way to speed it up is to pass what we`ve already passed.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you for joining us. See you on the set, next time. Thank you, sir.
JORDAN: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: NBC`s Hallie Jackson is at the White House with new reporting on what the vice president knew about all of this.
HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS: Hey, Greta. Yeah, a lot of new reporting to get to here, so forgive me I`ve just printed out from the West Wing where we are getting some information from some aides to both the president and the vice president. Let me start first with Mike Pence because that is the story that you obviously saw here on NBC News first, on MSNBC within the last 60 to 90 minutes. The top aide, the press aide to the vice president now confirming to a series of reporters, our reporting essentially, which is that the vice president had been unaware of these inconsistency until the night of February 9th, when, according to this person, the press secretary for the vice president, Mark Lotter, the vice president found out the immediate reports essentially. Pardon me I`m going to silence my phone here for you, Greta. It is going off. So that is raising more questions, right, which is what happened in those -- essentially 15 days between when the president, apparently, when the White House team was first notified about these inconsistencies of Mike Flynn, and when the vice president found out. I will tell you this as well. We`ve also spoke to press secretary Sean Spicer in the last 15 minutes or so. I`m going to start this by saying I don`t have the quotes in front of me right now, so notes that these are paraphrases of what the press secretary said. I want to be clear on that. But there`s a couple of points coming out of here. Number one, it was that -- Mike Flynn did not essentially change his story or add anything to his story until February 9th when that Washington Post piece came out. It was prior to that apparently. He had always said all along that he didn`t believe he talk about sanctions, but then added apparently just last week, the end of last week, that he wasn`t sure if he remembered correctly essentially. The other key point coming out of here as well, some information about the interviewing of candidates for this open national security advisory position now apparently, I`m being told by a senior administration official that Bob Harward, the -- of course, retired vice admiral of the navy, was talked to last week in addition to yesterday by people inside the White House, and the quote from this adminstration official is that we were getting all our ducks in the row, essentially, well in advance, Greta. So that`s kind of the information I can give you now. We`re going to go back and try to put some of this in a context and I`ll report back if we get anything.
VAN SUSTEREN: Hallie, one quick question, any indication whether or not the vice president is angry, in essence sort of got setup and nobody bothered to tell him until he read about it last Thursday night on the newspaper?
JACKSON: I will tell you this, the characterization that I am being told from somebody who is familiar with this is more disappointed in Mike Flynn, but as Marc Lotter said on the record just in the last couple of minutes, wishes him well, is grateful for his service. I have not gotten indication that Vice President Pence was livid or furious, right? The adjective that you see describe him. And if you know him and you do, Greta, he is somebody who is externally not quite -- he`s a little more collected if you will with his emotional state.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. One other question -- the FBI apparently spoke to Mike Flynn around the time of the inauguration, any information about that because The New York Times reporting is that they thought that he was not, quote, not entirely forthcoming, is the way The New York Times reporting it.
JACKSON: So I will tell you what we can report, Greta, here at NBC News, and that is a senior official does confirm that the FBI talk to General Flynn at some point right after the inauguration. It`s not clear it was the day, or the day after, or the day after that, but sometime within those first few days regarding this phone call with the Russian ambassador. But the guidance that we were getting from this official is that this is more about less about Mike Flynn and any issue there, and more about trying to gets a sense of what Russia was doing, what Russia was thinking in that relationship between Russia and the U.S. after, of course, the assessment from U.S. intelligence analyst that Russia interfered with the election.
VAN SUSTEREN: Hallie, thank you very much. Ahead, stay on the breaking news new information about the sequence of events leading to General Flynn`s resignation. What we know, and what we need to know, and what we want to know. Also, more about these security concerns over President Trump`s dinner at Mar-a-Lago. These photos posted on social media are drawing the attention of the powerful GOP house oversight committee. The chairman wants answers. And later, brace yourselves, there is a potential Republican rift over Obamacare with hardliners who demanding a fast appeal. Clash with GOP leaders including Speaker Paul Ryan?
VAN SUSTEREN: Back with more on the General Michael Flynn controversy, a crisis that is dominating both Capitol Hill and 16 blocks at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNCILOR: The president is very loyal. He`s a very loyal person. And by night time, Mike Flynn had decided it was best to resign.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Do you hear that? This is a sound of house Republicans conducting no oversight of President Trump. Zero.
PAUL RYAN, HOUSE SPEAKER: I think the president made the right decision to ask for his resignation.
JOHN MCCAIN, U.S. SENATOR: I think there is significant dysfunction in the national security apparatus of the Trump administration.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: General Flynn`s resignation is not the end of the story. It is merely the beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now there are still many, many, unanswered questions. But here`s what we know, on December 29th, weeks before President Trump`s inauguration, President Obama levelled sanctions on Russian for the election hack. That same day, General Flynn has a phone conversation with the Russian ambassador. About two weeks later on January 15th, Vice President Pence goes on national television and denies that Flynn`s discussed sanctions on that December 29th phone call. On January 23rd, eight days after Vice President Pence was on TV, press secretary Sean Spicer also denies that Flynn discussed sanctions with the ambassador in that December 29th call. Three days later, on the 26th of January, the Justice Department warns the White House that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Now, NBC News is confirming Vice President Pence was only informed of the warning on February 9th, 11 days after the White House found out. The following day on Friday, February 10th, on Air Force One, President Trump tells reporter he has not seen report that Flynn discussed sanctions with Russia. And then today, Spicer clarifying and said that the president was only speaking about a Washington Post article. And last night, just hours after Spicer said President Trump was evaluating the situation, General Michael Flynn resigns. Heidi Przybyla is an MSNBC political analyst and senior political reporter for USA Today, Sabrina Siddiqui is a political reporter with The Guardian, and Alex Isenstadt is a political reporter for POLITICO. All right, first to you, Alex, how much of a political fallout is this for the GOP on Capitol Hill?
ALEX ISENSTADT, POLITICO: Well, look, it`s a problem for them. Every day they`re being distracted by a number of questions about the ways drama, or chaos, and intrigue in the Trump White House, and it`s completely enveloping all official Washington, all of congress, and it`s becomes a huge, huge problem for Paul Ryan, for Mitch McConnell. And they need to figure out how they`re going to get their agenda in which to move forward at this point and try to get away from some of these questions.
VAN SUSTEREN: Sabrina, the vice president -- he didn`t find out about it until last Thursday night. In fact, the rest of us have heard about it long before he did. What does it do to the vice president? What do you think he`s thinking tonight?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: Well, certainly a testament to how little influence the vice president, Mike Pence, in fact has within this administration. Where some of the earlier stages you can see his imprints on some of the cabinet nominees, who were chosen, he was going to act as that bridge to congress. But clearly, he has been shut out of matters pertaining with national security, charges as serious.
VAN SUSTEREN: He was adult in the room.
SIDDIQUI: In part, because he was supposed to play the role of the adult in the room. What we`re seeing is the only person in the room who at the end of the day ultimately matter is Donald Trump. And I think that -- congress is concern, what I heard from a lot of Republicans, there was also frustration that there is no communication between this administration and Republican in congress who are put in a position where it`s almost impossible to come out and re-defend the actions that this administration has taken because they just don`t have the answers, and that was reflected to in the contradictory statement coming out of the White House.
VAN SUSTEREN: How come there`s not a connection? You`ve got Reince Priebus who is the chief-of-staff who`s very close to Paul Ryan who is speaker of the house. I mean, except, I think he was trying to run from the story, not trying to get anymore near it.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, MSNBC: Well, I don`t think at this level though that the leadership, even if folks in the White House, that the leadership would have any inclination at all what`s going on. And like Sabrina said, every day is something different. But what is, this feels like Chuck Schumer said, he`s right, this is the beginning of something. It`s not the end. And, yes, on the one hand they have to try to move away from it to a certain extent to try to push their agenda forward. But at the same time because of the serious nature of this they`ve also have to look like they`re actually engaging on a substantive investigation that are going to get to the bottom of this, because there`s too much coming together here on the connection with Russia, this second official who`s been fallen by a connection to Russia.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don`t know how the GOP dodges this bullet. I mean, they run the house, they run the senate, and they get to call who comes to the hearings, but the problem is that it`s so link to Russia. I mean, it is a Russia story.
SIDDIQUI: I think one of the challenges for the Republican Party even since Donald Trump was the nominee, is this posture he has toward Russia, seeking friendly relations with Vladimir Putin. Refusing to actually criticize Vladimir Putin anytime he`s been ask, of course, putting in place Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, who also has called for sanctions to be reverse. So there`s a larger portrait here of the adminstration that is very much open to alleviating U.S. sanctions against Russia. It`s not just about Michael Flynn. And what`s remarkable when Mitch McConnell and Bob Corker, the chair on the senate foreign relations committee were directly asked by reporters today, can you see what confidence that Donald Trump did not direct Michael Flynn to engage in these conversations. They said, well, that`s the question for the White House and Michael Flynn. At the end of the day, we can`t say.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Alex, we have Senator John McCain using the term significant dysfunction. I mean, obviously, he`s at odds with the White House. But, you know, -- Capitol Hill is a friendly landing for this White House right now.
ISENSTADT: Well, that`s true. Look, McCain and Lindsey Graham are going to be the most vocally outspoken when it comes to Trump, when it comes to Russia. But it sort of makes you wonder as you look the daily chaos and the daily intrigue that is gripping this White House, it kind of makes you wonder. And all the factions that are in it. It makes you -- how are they going to get basic things done? How can they move legislation? How they`re going to deal with the kind of things that presidents have to deal with? They`re having a really hard time getting off the ground. It has been a really bumpy first -- not even months, three and a half weeks at this point.
VAN SUSTEREN: All presidents when they come to town -- I mean, -- is a little bit of a mess at first. But this one -- we`re getting a lot early.
VAN SUSTEREN: There`s something different about it.
PRZYBYLA: You know what it is, it`s the leak. It`s just the volume of the leaks that are coming out as well. And we`ve had this discussion.
VAN SUSTEREN: From the intelligence community that`s here all the time, where the leaks are coming from the new White House.
PRZYBYLA: I think both. It`s started with the intelligence -- people are nervous about heads rolling, and finger pointing, and who is going to be next.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, panel stay with me. We`re going to take a quick break. Ahead, Flynn fall-out, in the wake of the resignation President Trump launches an internal investigation to find out who is leaking from inside of the White House. Also, the demanding answers, the oversight committee is asking if security was breached at the Florida dinner over the weekend. More on the letter sent to the White House. And power lunch, Chris Christie dines with President Trump at the White House. Was it just a valentine`s date or was it a job offer? Coming next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All of this information was leaked. We have to wonder whether or not people who work for our government who are entrusted with classified information and decisional based material are leaking that information out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: Press Secretary Sean Spicer today on issue of leaks. Hours earlier, the president took to twitter tweeting about "illegal leaks coming out of Washington." And today the "Washington Post" reporting Trump staffers are "so fearful of being accused of talking to the media that some have resorted to a secret chat app."
The report also detailing staffer`s worries about potential shake up on some of the team, and also today, the president having lunch at the White House with Governor Chris Christie and his wife. The White House saying the meeting was not about getting Christie a spot in the administration.
Bill Kristol is editor-at-large for "The Weekly Standard" and of course spent time in the white house in prior lifetime. All right, with the leak (INAUDIBLE), ever successful?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Not usually, and sometimes they really lead to bad things. I mean, people are beginning to compare this to Watergate. That`s very premature. But how did Watergate begin? Do people remember this? I just --
VAN SUSTEREN: Arrest, doesn`t it.
KRISTOL: Yes, but what was -- why was -- why did Nixon want burglaries of various places? Because there were leaks. What was the name of the group that he assembled was called, if I recall correctly, the Plumbers. Why is that name funny or why is that inappropriate? Because they were plugging the leaks, right. So, I mean leak investigations are dangerous. It can lead President`s really into dangerous waters.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think it`s fair to say there is some chaos down the street at the White House.
VAN SUSTEREN: They`re always this with a new president. Is this something different from any new administration?
KRISTOL: Yes. I mean, this is the first National Security advisor to resign within a month, and I`d say the problem is with a scandal, who knows where it`s going to go where the rest of the truth is, but unlike some scandals we`ve gotten used to -- Dave Petraeus, let`s say he has an affair or whatever. He doesn`t (INAUDIBLE) to classified information, he resigns.
In a sense that`s end of the scandal, right. I mean it was about him. This scandal is not really simply about Mike Flynn, right. It`s about Mike Flynn as top adviser to Donald Trump dealing with Russia, a nation who`s government had lot of ties into the Trump campaign to say the least and to Trump personally it seemed perhaps or as Trump organization.
And so once he`s out of the White House there will be a congressional investigation. He will testify. What will he say when asked about did you discuss this with Donald Trump, when, how, and I just think there`s a lot more here. When they pull the threads on this one, is the FBI pulling the threads or congressional investigators or the press, this one isn`t going to go away so easily.
VAN SUSTEREN: So we should buckle up with this for the next four years?
KRISTOL: I don`t know, but it will be the next few months I think and we don`t know. We really don`t know. I don`t believe that this was just about a phone call. I don`t think this is about whether there were two phone calls or five phone calls or whether he was quite candid with Mike Pence. He could apologize for not fully briefing Mike Pence and that would have been it. I don`t think we would have fired him. Is that such a terrible thing? I mean let`s --
VAN SUSTEREN: I think the bad thing is -- you look at you experience at the White House, I look at my experience as being criminal defense lawyer and when I saw this less than -- I`ve read the words that the "New York Times" used about it -- here it is, "not entirely forthcoming" is what the "New York Time" is saying that the FBI said in interviewing him. That to me is a very bad code. Very bad code.
KRISTOL: Well, how do the scandals blow up? The FBI asks you something, you`re not candid and suddenly you`re in trouble with the FBI and you`re the criminal threat, right. That`s very different from a little political scandal where vice president embarrassed himself by misleading people on television for a few days. So that`s why I very much agree. This is a criminal investigation by the FBI, right.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don`t think it is yet but I`m just trying to say --
KRISTOL: Well, first the investigation by the FBI.
VAN SUSTEREN: I`m saying that I would be very apprehensive if I were on the sidelines. How is Trump doing as president?
KRISTOL: Not particularly well I think. I mean, he wanted to really hit the ground running and do all these things, but as a result, he`s kind of way out ahead of himself. He doesn`t like his administration staff. They complain -- the Democrats in Congress (INAUDIBLE) is just a fact. I would have held back on things until you had people in place and stay in defense in other places.
And so now he`s got -- and the White House is doing what was happening and now he`s got a national security advisor gone and other people looking over the shoulders and you know, criticizing each other of the record. And now they`re going to be obsessed with these leaks.
And look, I`m not -- people shouldn`t leak classified information and there were some of that perhaps and there`s maybe an attempt by Obama holdovers or by past Obama office holder or by the permanent bureaucracies to go after Trump.
I think that`s possible. (INAUDIBLE) defenders are saying this is the deep state going after Trump. But you know what, that was true of Nixon, right. The media was after Nixon. The Democrats were after Nixon. The intelligence community was after Nixon. But you know what, if you do certain things, if you cover up certain things, if you order certain things that are illegal, it doesn`t matter if the voters -- if the people going after you are in furor.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well I hope you come back.
KRISTOL: I`d be happy to.
VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up, President Trump puts Speaker Ryan on the spot on of the timing of Obamacare repeal. Hear what he said at the White House today and check this one up. Could Oprah Winfrey play a role in the confirmation fight for one of the president`s cabinet nominees? We don`t make this stuff up. Details ahead.
VAN SUSTEREN: The very powerful Republican Freedom Caucus says it is finished waiting. The group is calling for a full repeal of Obamacare not later, but repeal right now. The (Inaudible) group of conservatives calling out Republican Party leaders saying the American people cannot afford to wait any longer. That drew a response from the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I fully recognize and respect the strong feelings that people have about this issue. We should be passionate about this issue. It is about people`s lives. This affects every person and every family in America. That is why we are taking a step by step approach so people can see the changes that we are making so that they can see how they will help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: How long does a step by step approach need? The timing came up in the Oval Office today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He`s working on Obamacare. It`s going to be very soon, right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Let`s turn to former Vermont governor, Howard Dean. Nice to see you sir.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR of VERMONT: Thanks.
VAN SUSTEREN: Before we get to Obamacare. I have a question for you. Any thoughts on this Michael Flynn controversy?
DEAN: Yes. I think it`s the tip of the iceberg. I think the president cut his losses but there`s a lot more losses to come. And what this guy was doing were apparently was pretty serious and there`s going to be -- I think that it`s going to be almost impossible for the congress not to investigate this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Although the fact we`ve got republican congress and republican senate and they may not have the appetite.
DEAN: You know what, you`re right. But you have been here a long time. I think that when Trump went after the intelligence community, they took his measure and you`re going see stuff come out again and again and again. And it`s not going to get easier. I think Bill Kristol was right when he`s talking about Nixon. Nixon just made -- because he was a guy who made enemies which Trump does.
You know, enemies in Washington are different here. It`s a much tougher game and I think he`s in deep trouble because you`re going to get his staff for one reason and the intelligence community for a very different reason - - leaking stuff -- drip, drip, drip, for as long as he`s president.
VAN SUSTEREN: Turning to Obamacare, the Freedom Caucus wants to get rid of it right away. I don`t think that the rest of the GOP, Paul Ryan and even the president wants to do it right away. Where are you in sort of Obamacare. I take it that you like Obamacare but I suspect that you think that some things could be improved.
DEAN: Well, you know, I think that the kinds of improvement I would make are unlikely to be made by a Republican congress. I always thought that we ought to have a public option, people ought to be sign -- be able to sign up for Medicare, which is a pretty simple system to understand even if they are under 65. That would make life a lot simpler.
VAN SUSTEREN: People generally like Medicare. (INAUDIBLE) It`s very successful. It`s got some things that could take her (ph) with them.
DEAN: The truth is people actually like Obamacare as long as you don`t call it Obamacare.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think some people -- a lot of people write me and say that their premiums are going up,
DEAN: Yes, I think that`s right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which Leader Pelosi denied to me but I get a million more pieces of e-mails every time when people do that.
DEAN: Well, that`s because you get e-mails from people that are unhappy about it, and they are going up in a lot of places but they`re not in some other places. You know, our Republican governor just announced, although his Democratic predecessor had a lot to do with this, a system that I think is you could really do, and that is essentially putting Medicaid patients in a decapitated (ph) care system instead of fee for service and heals predictability.
Medicaid is really the core of Obamacare along with getting rid of fees as to conditions. Those are things that people want and people should have. And there are some improvements that you could make that we can find agreement with -- not with Freedom Caucus, because they`re negative about everything but with a lot of Republicans I think.
VAN SUSTEREN: In 2009, Republicans were upset under the statute is just about 2,200 to 2,500 pages. There were about 2,200 references to the power of the HHS secretary. And the Republicans didn`t like it because (INAUDIBLE) abuse al that power. Well now a Republican secretary of HHS has that power and the Democrats aren`t too happy. It seems to me that you can do a lot of things within Obamacare without even -- I mean the secretary has so much power.
DEAN: Well, that might be. One of the problems always playing with dynamite, the secretary is not known and he`s sort of a fan of universal healthcare in general. He believes that free market works in health care, which I doesn`t. But there`s a lot of doctors who believe that because they`re not exposed to the healthcare system. They`re just part of it.
And I think that he`s going to have to be restrained by President Trump because if he isn`t, the Republicans are going to take on the chin (ph) 2018. You cannot take 30 million people off their health insurance and you cannot suddenly reinstall pre-existing conditions and hope the market place is going to take care of it. It`s not going to work.
The other thing we should be incredibly (INAUDIBLE) which he cannot do without Congress is to purchase state insurance across state lines. Now that basically has a race -- it crosses a race to the bottom and the American people would be very upset about that. You can`t do that without legislature.
VAN SUSTEREN: Health care is so important that it would be great if we`re working together on this.
DEAN: That would be good.
VAN SUSTEREN: It would be great. Anyway, nice to see you governor.
DEAN: Thanks very much.
VAN SUSTEREN: Security questions over what happened at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend. Now a call for GOP committees asking for security information and answers, and ready for this question, why Oprah Winfrey might affect whether President Trump`s pick or labor secretary gets confirmed. Yes, Oprah is involved. We`ll explain
VAN SUSTEREN: The House Oversight Committee wants answers and it`s not just the Democrats in the committee who want them, the Republicans too. Their questions include were security breached at that Mar-a-Lago dinner Saturday night. The committee asked the White House for more information on cellphone use and whether classified information was discussed and photos of members were on social media and they appear to show the press and others looking at documents at the table.
Now, the White House says security was not discussed in public and today, presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway under fire for endorsing Ivanka Trump`s clothing line on TV last week. The Office of Government Ethics wants the White House to investigate Conway as to whether she violated federal ethics regulations.
Back with me, Heidi Przybyla, Sabrina Siddiqui and Alex Isenstadt. Heidi, first of all, I`m actually surprised this letter that went out from -- with my scribbling -- this is the letter that went to Reince Priebus, Chief of Staff, from chairman Jason Chaffetz, also Republican, writing information about that dinner to see if security was violated.
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, POLITICAL ANALYST, MSNBC: Look, they have to do this first of all just because this committee spent so much time on similar allegations against Hillary Clinton in terms of using, you know, classified information. We don`t know if there was any classified information shared that night but there was also the incident about, you know, him sending tweets potentially from a non-encrypted phone and then the Democratic lawmaker who snapped classified information on his desktop. So they got to at least look into it.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you do not think this is an aggressive inquiry and this is just sort of like well, they just have to do it. Is that what you think or you think --
PRZYBYLA: I think it depends on what they find but they have to not look hypocritical that when this information is presented before them, that they don`t just at least look into it. And Chaffetz is also coming under a lot of political pressure as well to do some kind of oversight over Trump. He`s had, you know, angry town halls and the Democrats going after him. So when presented with this information, yes, I think he has to at least look into it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Siddiqui.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITCAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Well look, I think that the fact of the matter as much as White House refers to Mar-a-Lago as winter White House it`s not in fact the same thing because it`s not clear what protocols are in place with respect to handling of sensitive or classified information even though Sean Spicer said that it was not shared in public.
You have members who are paying, you know, close to $200,000 into fees and are within ear shot of the president. And so in addition to just the security angle of it, there`s also the question of access where I think there are also questions that have been raised about how are the members being vetted and screened? Are they in fact, in a way, paying for access to be up close and personal to the president especially when you have major incident as we did over the weekend?
VAN SUSTEREN: So then we (INAUDIBLE) these big donor things anyway and they show up on both Republicans and Democrats. Everyone`s paying money for access. It`s a dirty little secret, I think. I mean, and it`s not for -- I wish we`d get money out of politics, but fat chance.
All right, Alex, Kellyanne under investigation, just went on "Fox & Friends" over at the Fox News Channel network saying that you should buy -- essentially buy Ivanka`s line of clothing at Nordstrom`s. Go and buy it. Now she`s getting a lot of heat because she`s endorsing a product.
ALEX ISENSTADT: She`s getting a lot of heat over ethics but the question is how much teeth is -- what kind of teeth is there really to this and what effect does it really have. And remember, you know, people that I`ve talked to in the White House say that has actually helped Kellyanne with the boss, that she has a constituent of one essentially and that by hawking Ivanka Trump`s stuff, it kind of impresses the president that she`s willing to go out there and sort of stick her neck out for him. He liked that and so, we`ll see what happens but by all means she`s been --
VAN SUSTEREN: I think she has learned her lesson. I mean I just think she`s learned her lesson if they find her in some sort of ethics departure, there`s going to be, you know, not a huge penalty or price to pay for it and she has -- and I`m sure the president loves that she`s defending --
PRZYBYLA: -- one incident, you know, she gets a slap on the wrist and then watch if it`s a pattern.
VAN SUSTEREN: She won`t do it again.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we need to take a break. What Oprah Winfrey has to do with a looming senate vote and a Trump cabinet pick.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump`s Labor Secretary pick, Andrew Puzder is in jeopardy. Four Republican senators are officially in the fence about whether to vote for him. Puzder has been a lightning rod for controversy and now a decade`s -- he has decades old episodes of the Oprah Winfrey show featuring Puzder`s ex-wife that surfaced.
And in the video, she alleges a labor secretary nominee physically abused her and she went on TV to say it. The video according to people who have seen it has now been provided to senators in Capitol Hill office building. Note, the ex-wife has retracted these allegations. Puzder`s confirmation hearing is Thursday. Siddiqui, your thoughts on this. Oh, Sabrina I mean.
SIDDIQUI: Well, look, I think -- it`s OK. You have four Republican senators who are now holding back their support and I think that this is real test for Mitch McConnell`s leadership as well as for the Trump administration in holding the line which they have done so far in most nominees as we saw with Betsy Devos, Education Secretary.
They can only afford to lose two Republicans especially since Democrats have mostly been unified in their oppositions and I think the chamber of commerce has also joined in this pressure campaign on these four Republicans who are saying that they`re not comfortable with this nominee because they don`t want instance where they have to pull the nominee.
VAN SUSTEREN: Heidi, don`t get me wrong. I am not for abusing spouses but this was 30 years ago. She retracted it many moons ago back in the late `80s or early `90s. She has sent a letter saying that they have forgiven one another for hurt we`ve caused each other. We made a pretty brutal divorce. I would think that, you know, even Vice President Biden said people change although the nominee denies this happened and she has retracted it. But I would think some Democrats would likewise have paused going that far back on someone.
PRZYBYLA: Yes. I just think you reach a certain tipping point and he`s also got as we mentioned before, the issue of immigrant, you know, illegal immigrant --
VAN SUSTEREN: This is labor --
PRZYBYLA: Yes, but you go -- so now you`ve got like a trifecta. If you got women`s group after him, you`ve got the immigrant issue, you`ve got labor groups going after him, and she did -- even if you assume, let`s say she retracted it because it wasn`t -- it was becoming a - she was using it as leverage in her divorce --
VAN SUSTEREN: Maybe it`s untrue though. Maybe it was untrue.
PRZYBYLA: But she filed a police report when it happened.
VAN SUSTEREN: Was he charged?
PRZYBYLA: I don`t think so.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think that --
PRZYBYLA: She had a restraining order. She had a protective order and she filed a police report.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean I don`t know what happened. Alex, I mean, for some reason, when it`s that old and everyone has retracted it I have trouble with it.
ISENSTADT: It`s true but he`s emerged as the weakest of the nominees for in terms of his process of getting confirmed and it`s a problem that potential black eye for this administration at a really tough time for them right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: But the money thing, obviously now paying the taxes, that`s just, you know, -- that`s something they should set -- definitely look closely at.
VAN SUSTEREN: Definitely indeed.
PRZYBYLA: There`s a history of bringing down nominees like Zoe Baird on the --
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, indeed.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, thank you panel. Thank you for watching us. See you back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. eastern. If you can`t watch live, set your DVR and follow me on twitter @Greta or check out my facebook page for behind the scenes videos and more. "Hardball" with Chris Matthews starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END