Show: For the Record with Greta Date: February 15, 2017 Guest: Amy Klobuchar, Adam Kinzinger, David Catanese, Eliana Johnson, John McCormack, Stephen Hadley, Joe Crowley, Joel Beneson, Daniel Shapiro, David Catanese
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: For the record tonight, brace yourself. President Trump is hitting back. President Trump blaming the fake media, illegal leaks that even the Clinton campaign for the Michael Flynn controversy. We have the first reaction of Clinton`s top pollster and strategist, Joel Benenson. Plus, General Flynn`s security clearance suspended tonight and questions now swirling around him. Will Flynn testify before congress? And what will he say about those new reports that Trump campaign officials had links to Russian intelligence? Also a new political casualty in the Trump cabinet, labor nominee Andy Puzder withdrawing his name just hours before his confirmation hearing was to begin. Did this old tape from the Oprah Winfrey Show way back in 1990 play a role or was that just a smear?
President Trump addressing growing questions about his now former national security adviser, and tonight, new reports of alleged ties between his campaign and the Kremlin, the president today at a press conference with the Israeli prime minister Netanyahu defending Michael Flynn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Michael Flynn, General Flynn, is a wonderful man. I think he`s been treated very, very unfairly by the media. As I call it, the fake media, in many cases. And I think it`s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: The president also blasting the leaks to the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I think in addition to that, from intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. It`s criminal action, criminal act. And it`s been going on for a long time, before me. But now it`s really going on and people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton. I think it`s very, very unfair what`s happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated, and the documents and papers that were illegally, I stress that, illegally leaked, very, very unfair.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: And President Trump is not one to sit back. Today, striking back at The New York Times report alleging his campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence. NBC News has not independently confirmed this story. And there is no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Putin or Russia. Meanwhile, President Trump`s stepping up the defense, tweeting, quote, this Russian connection nonsense is merely an attempt to cover up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton`s losing campaign. Later, reporters asked President Trump about this story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any comment on the report that there was contact between your senior adviser and respected Russian operatives during the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump?
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump, no comment on that?
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: Now it`s the Democrats` turn. Today, Democrats calling for an independent investigation. Senator Amy Klobuchar is a Democrat from the great state of Minnesota, and serves on the judiciary committee. Nice to see you, senator.
AMY KLOBUCHAR, U.S. SENATOR: Good to see you, Greta. Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, the president says the media is being unfair to General Flynn. How serious is this whole story about General Flynn and the allegation of influence or connection with Russia?
KLOBUCHAR: I think it`s very serious when you have the president`s national security adviser resigning 26 days into his job. When you have 17 intelligence agencies, you can`t call that fake news, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies saying that Russia has tried to influence our election. That really gets at the underpinnings of our democracies. This isn`t about as Marco Rubio said this isn`t about one candidate or one political party because next time it will be the other political party. And I think it is really important that we get to what happened, who he talked to, what he said? We still don`t know what he said to the Russian ambassador but it appears there were efforts to undercut the sanctions that were so important in response to Russian aggression and the cyberattack.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You know, he says the media is unfair. I guess I would, you know, be more open to that if it weren`t for the fact that Sean Spicer, press secretary, said the reason that Flynn is out is not because the media is unfair but because there`s a trust factor within the White House with him. So, you know, there`s an obvious conflict in those two versions. But, all right, you want an investigation. How do we get a fair investigation? Because Flynn`s entitled to a fair investigation, the congress, the American people, and the president is. And so, what are you looking for?
KLOBUCHAR: It goes on a few tracks. First of all, the intelligence committee in the senate is very devoted to a fair investigation. And they`re going to have that ability to get classified information. I do hope they declassified some of it so your viewers can see what happened, but also there`s going to be judiciary committee hearings. I serve on that committee. Lindsey Graham is committed to that. And then finally, I am a supporter, I was the early sponsor of the bill for the independent commission with Senator Cardin and others, only because that`s a different type. That would be a 9/11-type commission that could look at outside experts looking at what happened and making recommendations of what we can do to prevent it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do we really need all those investigations? Why can`t we get one good solid one and try to strip away the politics from it, so the American people are confident, fair to everyone involved. When you have all those committee hearings, you know, people were worried about Obamacare, taxes, and there`re a lot of other things and people -- and congress doesn`t seem, with all due respect, be able to multitask too well.
KLOBUCHAR: Very good question. I think the major investigation is the intelligence committee. Judiciary will be focused on judiciary piece of this. And the independent commission would not involve members. That would be experts.
VAN SUSTEREN: So why don`t we just do an independent commission? Why don`t we just do an intelligence committee?
KLOBUCHAR: Because different people can get at different things. The intelligence committee is going to be getting at classified information and they`ll be able to put out a report. We hope they can put as much public as possible. But I think there is a reason. This is a major, major problem. This isn`t just, again, about our election. When Senator McCain, and Graham and I were in Ukraine and the Baltics, we heard that Russia been doing this, what, 6,500 attempt in Ukraine. They shut off Estonia`s computer system just because they had the audacity to move a bronze statue of a soldier to a cemetery. These things have been happening every day. They`ve seen this movie before. And we have an obligation to get to the truth there.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You talked about your trip with Senator McCain, Senator Graham. I`m probably one of the few in the media who think that codells are the best thing that members on congress -- members of both sides of the aisle spending time, going out to do -- so like your old days as a lawyer.
KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. As you probably heard, the trip with McCain is not exactly a luxury cruise. We literally visited a country a day and spent New Year`s Eve on the front line in a snowstorm with President Poroshenko, in which he had us stand with him and the mothers of soldiers that have been killed.
VAN SUSTEREN: I actually -- more codells if there`s less chance of being - -there`ll be less politics and all this other stuff. But, anyway, that`s just me. Anyway, thanks so much.
KLOBUCHAR: It was great to be on, Greta, thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you. Adam Kinzinger is a Republican congressman from the great state of Illinois. He serves in the house foreign affairs committee and is co-sponsoring new legislation requiring congressional approval before lifting Russian sanctions. Nice to see you, congressman.
ADAM KINZINGER, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Hey, great seeing you. How are you?
VAN SUSTEREN: I`m good. OK. Let`s say the house passes the bill that you`re co-sponsoring. The senate I think has already done one like that. Why in the world would the president ever sign it because it`s cutting his authority? He`s not going to go for that one.
KINZINGER: well, and, you know, that`s obviously part of how politics works if he`ll sign it or not. I think it`s important as much as anything, though, to say that we`re basically reaffirming that congress has a role in deciding this. And this is a safety level. We -- we`re not the chief executive of the United States, so there`s a lot of foreign policy decision he can make. But just like we did with Iran sanctions and related to that, congress has a role to play here. I think it`s important to put out, and this is the companion piece to what has been done in the senate.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. What are the odds he`s going to sign it, do you think? If it -- what.
KINZINGER: Well, probably pretty low. If it comes to his desk, I don`t know. But at the end of the day, we may have enough people to override that if that`s the case. But, again, even if it`s -- even if it doesn`t get through this house, and through the senate, and to the president`s desk, I think it`s important to send the message, though, that, look, congress is committed to working with the president to say, OK, you know, if this is part of a broader negotiation, that`s one thing, but you`re not going to unilaterally lift these sanctions.
VAN SUSTEREN: I know with your military background that you`re really interested in this story involving Russia and other parts of the world where we have conflict, of course. What are your thoughts about an investigation into Russia, any contacts with the Trump campaign or anybody, or any former staffer for the Trump -- with Trump?
KINZINGER: So, I agree with your previous guest in saying, you know, the senate intel committee, they`ve said they`re going to take this up. That is where you do investigations like this. I think to call for a 9/11-type commission is overkill on this. So I think we need to get to the bottom of this. These are answers we deserve. But ultimately, specifically on the Flynn thing, I think the cover-up in this case is far worse than the crime depending on what was discussed. And in fact, later, you know, find out he talked to the FBI, we want to know if he told the truth to the FBI or not. If he lied, in fact, that`s what can lead to a lot of trouble. So I think the senate intel committee is perfectly capable of getting to the bottom of this, answers that we need, and I think we`ll get them.
VAN SUSTEREN: I`ve been pointing out every night that Jeremy Bash who worked for CIA director Panetta, secretary of defense, Panetta, and who I sort of look to for guidance on this. He said that he had no -- he would expect or have no problem -- maybe those are my words, with Flynn talking to the Russian ambassador in the transition period. So, you know, so that -- the content of it, whether it`s about sanctions or not, it`s really what happened later and the misleading of the vice president.
KINZINGER: Yeah, that`s exactly right. So, again, you know, technically can you say it`s a violation of this Logan Act which has never been enforced, possibly? But, you do have an incoming administration that is talking to a very powerful country, Russia, talking about how this relationship is going to go forward. I think had sanctions been brought up, we found out they were, had General Flynn simply said, yeah, even the ambassador brought it up to me, I mentioned it to him, that`s one thing. I think it`s very improper, though, because this was right during when the prior administration was discussing what to do about him. So depending on exactly what was discussed, could be very highly improper. But the sin came afterwards it seems like in the cover-up.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you.
KINZINGER: Any time, thanks.
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining me now, David Catanese, senior politics writing for U.S. News and World Report, Eliana Johnson, national political reporter for POLITICO, and John McCormack, senior writer at the Weekly Standard. David, is this whole Flynn controversy, I`m going to name it that, it`s obviously broader than that, is this something that we`re going to spent several days or we`re just going to dog the whole Obama -- I mean, the whole Trump administration?
DAVID CATANESE, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Well, given the first 25 days, there will probably be a new controversy that pops up by Friday. I mean, look, but I do think we still don`t know exactly why Flynn was released or asked to resign. I mean, there are still sort of discrepancies on the reporting on that. But I think the bigger question and President Trump hasn`t answered this yet, if there was an erosion of trust and it was true that he knew that Michael Flynn lied to the vice president weeks ago, why did he not ask for his resignation weeks ago? President Trump still hasn`t answered that. I think that is a question he`s going to have to answer eventually.
VAN SUSTEREN: What are your questions about this?
ELIANA JOHNSON, POLITICO: You know, I think what you`re hearing Democrats and some Republicans start to tiptoe around very carefully is asking was there some sort of a quid pro quo here? The New York Times reported yesterday that it wasn`t just Michael Flynn, but it was also several Donald Trump campaign aides, including Paul Manafort who had extensive conversations with Russian intelligence during the campaign. So then the question becomes naturally, was there a quid pro quo between the Trump campaign and the Russians to have Russian help with a Trump victory in exchange for the lifting of sanctions? People aren`t saying that outright right now, but I think that`s a natural question. And there`ve been comparisons to Watergate. If the conversations come to light, we know the content of the conversation between Trump campaign aides and the Russians that get anywhere near that, this controversy will, I think, blow Watergate out of the water.
VAN SUSTEREN: John, the thing that -- because we have so little information that there`s a high risk, our imaginations are running wild. Because everyone says it`s like pulling teeth. Then when you have, you know, Spicer saying that the reason why Flynn was let go was because there was a trust factor, because he lied, misstated or whatever you want to call it, to the vice president. And then, now, you have the president coming out saying the reason why he`s out of there is because of the bad media.
JOHN MCCORMACK, THE WEEKLY STANDRAD: Well, yeah, I mean, the president`s criticism this is all the fake media`s fault doesn`t make much sense. I mean, he is the one who ultimately asked for Flynn`s resignation. If there was nothing there, why did he ask him to resign? Like you said there are a lot of unanswered questions here. I mean, this White House, this administration, this president, aren`t exactly known to be fastidious about the truth. So I don`t see exactly why either misleading intentionally or not statement. I guess if it was unintentional, I don`t see why they couldn`t have apologized to Vice President Pence. So I don`t know whether it`s pressure from Pence.
VAN SUSTEREN: The mystery in this is that in the interim period between the time that the statement -- Pence went on TV, and the time it was released, you had the department of justice saying we got these intercepts. And, I mean, who knows what`s in those intercepts. They heard the conversation between Flynn and the Russian ambassador.
MCCORMACK: Well, that is a serious issue. I mean, this is an investigation whether it was incidentally picked up or whether -- we don`t know exactly who`s being targeted here, why they were targeted. But the idea that an American citizen and official could have their, you know, their conversations leaked without a full investigation, a full trial, that is really troubling.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, David, he should have -- I mean, he should have known his conversation was being listened to. I mean, I`m not the -- I`m not in the National Security Council, but I sure could have figured that one out. He should have known that his conversations.
CATANESE: The other thing is, there`s still a lot of government agencies that are filled with Obama appointees that want payback on Trump. And they`re leaking -- I mean, the leaking that is going on in bureaucracy you might expect because he doesn`t have all his allies in place, but there`s leaks coming out of the White House every day which shows me that they`re not on the same page. They`re out to undercut each other. And if you`re President Donald Trump you got to start wondering, who can I trust that`s in my inner circle? And who is doing the leaking? I`m sure he has got to be worried about that.
JOHNSON: I think the thing is, Trump intentionally set up his White House with three different power centers that don`t necessarily work cohesively. There is the Steve Bannon, there`s Jared Kushner, and there`s Reince Priebus, and Michael Flynn was, you know, an ally of Steve Bannon. But he set up a White House where people, where it was obvious that people were going to leak against each other and targeted each other in this way.
CATANESE: Some the stuff could not be leaked if you weren`t a top adviser. They`re reciting calls with foreign leaders in the Oval Office. That`s a five or six people that would know that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Just compare and contrast it to the fact that we couldn`t figure out who the nominee for the Supreme Court was. That was such a great kept secret until that night. Go figure, they can keep that one quiet. We`re going to take a quick break. Still ahead, reaction from the Clinton campaign to President Trump`s new attacks today. What does she have to do with the Michael Flynn controversy? And President Trump`s pick for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, abruptly withdraws today. Did it have anything to do with the decades-old Oprah tape? And a press conference controversy, is President Trump freezing out some members of the media?
VAN SUSTEREN: New reports of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin are putting a giant spotlight on what Russia has said about this issue. And two days after the election, a senior Russian diplomat said, quote, there were contacts with the Trump team. But then the next day, a Trump spokesperson said they were, quote, not aware of those connections. And since then, Trump officials including the vice president have said no contact took place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Did anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election?
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Of course not.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Can you still say definitively that nobody on the Trump campaign, not even General Flynn, had any contact with the Russians before the election?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There`s nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: Stephen Hadley served as national security adviser to President George W. Bush. Nice to see you.
STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: Nice to be here.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. First the basics, I tipped you off, I was going to ask you this, what does National Security Council do?
HADLEY: National Security Council established in the national security act of 1947, only has 4 members, president, vice president, secretary of state, secretary of defense. It advises the president. It is not a decision- making body. And it tries to coordinate policy across diplomacy, economic and defense. That`s what it does.
VAN SUSTEREN: What was the job that General Flynn had?
HADLEY: He had the national security adviser which is a staff position, and it really does two things. It runs the National Security Council process, and all the subcommittees under the National Security Council that are established. It supervises the NSC staff, those 100 or 200 and so people who staff the president for his role in foreign policy. And then the national security adviser serves as an adviser to the president of the United States on national security and foreign policy.
VAN SUSTEREN: Hypothetically, I`m trying to get the fact, I always have to say this because the facts seem to fluid these days, but let`s assume that General Flynn did speak to the Russian ambassador in that December phone call about the sanctions, any problem with that?
HADLEY: You know, I don`t have a problem with that. I think it would be strange -- Flynn did not apparently have advanced notice of the sanctions, read about them in the newspaper, talked to the Russian ambassador. I think it would be -- I don`t see what would be wrong if he simply said, look, don`t retaliate, doesn`t make sense, it hurts my country, it makes it harder for us as an incoming administration to reconsider Russia policy, which is something we said to do. So just hold your fire and let us have a shot at this. I think if Flynn had come out, embraced that, explained that that was what he did and when he had done, I think there would be 24, 48- hour story and I think would have died away.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of the investigation because Democrats are calling for an investigation, some Republicans are. It`s actually broaden down a little bit beyond Flynn pre-campaign connections and possible connections with the Trump campaign and Russia and the kremlin, as well. As the Russians have an influence on hacking the Democratic Party.
HADLEY: I think we`re way ahead of ourselves. There`s an ongoing FBI investigation. Its scope has been broadened. Let`s see where that leads. I think it`s appropriate for, say, the two intelligence communities -- committees, senate and house, to do their inquiries, investigation. But let`s not have every committee in the house and the senate get into it. Let`s focus it in one or two committees, one house, one senate, and then let`s see where the FBI investigation goes under the oversight of those two committees. And let`s see where we are before we start talking about, you know, major 9/11-type investigations.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, big picture. What`s the difference between the way the Bush 43 White House worked with Russia or considered Russia, Obama, and now Trump? How do you see these three different administrations approaching Russia?
HADLEY: You know, I think Russia policy has been the same across administrations. We want to find areas where we can cooperate with Russia. And in some instances, it is in our common interest to work together on issues where we can, we should. In those areas where we disagree with Russia, we ought to stand by our principles, defend our interests, but try to manage them in such a way it doesn`t throw the relationship in crisis. If you think about it, that`s really been the Russia policy across a number of administrations.
VAN SUSTEREN: When you see President Trump say things about Putin that are actually sort of -- like the interview with bill O`Reilly on Super Bowl Day, what do you think?
HADLEY: Look, you know, President Trump seems to be a very personal person. He likes to create strong personal relationships with people with which he`s dealing. You know, he did that, he probably got a little carried away. My president, president I served, President Bush also got a little carried away in some of his public comments about Putin. Those things happen.
VAN SUSTEREN: You miss the job?
VAN SUSTEREN: Not at all?
HADLEY: Not for a minute.
VAN SUSTEREN: I`ve heard earlier today you were asked on the air whether you would take the job. You said no.
HADLEY: Look, I`m not -- I`ve been there, done that.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. But you will come back here?
HADLEY: Absolutely, any time.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Thank you. Nice to see you.
HADLEY: Nice to see you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ahead, reaction from the Clinton campaign over the reported contacts between the Trump team and Russia. I`ll talk to a former Clinton strategist, Joel Beneson. And later, President Trump`s plan for peace in the Mideast, is this the art of the deal or a dead end?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: From intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked, its criminal action, criminal act. And it`s been going on for a long time, before me. But now it`s really going on. And people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: Now that was President Trump today bringing the 2016 race back into the debate surrounding the Michael Flynn controversy. Now, it all started with that New York Times report that Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence before the election. The president quickly responded to The New York Times, he took to twitter and tweeted, this Russian connection nonsense is merely an attempt to cover up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton`s losing campaign. Now, this new reporting and the president`s response prompting a renewed look at his comments on Russia and WikiLeaks during the campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I`ve always felt, you know, fine about Putin. I think that he is a strong leader. He`s a powerful leader. Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. All you have to do is take a look at WikiLeaks. This just came out. This just came out. WikiLeaks. I love WikiLeaks. Amazing how nothing`s secret today when you talk about the internet. Oh, we love WikiLeaks. Boy, they have really -- WikiLeaks. They have revealed a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: New York congressman, Joe Crowley is chair of the house Democratic caucus. He was a strong Clinton supporter in the race, of course. And Joel Beneson was the chief strategist for the Clinton campaign, and now is an MSNBC contributor. Welcome, gentlemen. And first to you, congressman, your thoughts about the president now blaming the Russia news on Secretary Clinton losing.
JOE CROWLEY, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I think it`s maybe just a bit more ridiculous than not about the content of the phone call between Mr. Flynn and his Russian counterpart, or the content of that. He`s now blaming the leaking of it. To me, you know, Mr. Flynn didn`t lose his job because he lied. He lost his job because he wasn`t a good enough liar up to the standard of this administration. And to now -- you know, the president seems to find excuse after excuse as to why he`s cozied up to Russia. Only he really knows the real answer because we can`t see his taxes. We don`t know what it is they have on him. But we`re going to get to the bottom of this at some point.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, there`s a lot of difference of opinion about whether or not it was OK to discuss sanctions between Flynn -- General Flynn and Russia with the ambassador. So I`ll leave that aside. I think the -- at least it seems to me the bigger issue is whether he misled or even lied to the vice president. I think that is probably what got him into so much hot water.
CROWLEY: I think that is clear.
VAN SUSTEREN: Joel, let me go to you. Was the FBI evenhanded with how they have handled the investigation on the Democratic side during the course of the e-mails, and also this investigation in the lead-up to the election on Trump, and any possible contacts with Russia?
JOEL BENENSON, CHIEF STRATEGIST 2016 CAMPAIGN: Well, look, I think we talked a lot about what happened with the FBI during the course of the campaign and I think that was addressed at the time and since then. I think what we`re talking about now is something very different. I think Congressman Crowley is right about the substance of what`s transpiring here. But I think every American should be concerned and want to get to the bottom of what happened during this campaign. If there was continual communication between members of the Trump campaign, advisers to then- candidate Donald Trump, with Russian intelligence officials, and they at a time when they were meddling in our election, which our intelligence agencies believe they were to benefit now-President Trump, then every American should want us to get to bottom of this including the president of the United States. If he doesn`t think it`s a problem to our democracy that Russia, which is not always an American ally, it is a geopolitical power, meddled in our democracy. That is a serious flaw in the president. That is not a problem of what Mr. Flynn said or not. That is a problem that everybody in congress, everybody in America, ought to care about.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, I think most Americans would like to get to the bottom of this, but I think what many Americans feel or suspect and I think quite rightfully so is that it`s really hard to do these investigations without layers and layers of politics and all sorts of agendas and motives. It`s really sort of hard to get to the bottom of it. And then you sort of fold into the fact that a lot of this will probably be done behind closed doors, you know things they say is classified that probably really doesn`t need to be classified.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you do that investigation, do it swiftly, completely and fairly?
CROWLEY: Well, I think it`s a really hard call for Republicans in the house to even lift a finger against the president right now. I think it really calls for an outside investigation, maybe similar to what we did after 9/11. I think as Joel has said, it`s more than just a conversation between Mr. Flynn and his Russian counterpart. There has been contact that predated the election, almost predated even the campaign. And we know throughout that. Why is it that this president has rejected the men and women who work in our intelligence service, who gather information to help him make strategic decisions about the United States and taking the word or sided with a dictator like Putin? We know the Russians are not our enemy. The Russian people in a good relation with the United States and vice versa, we know that Putin is not our friend. And yet this president cozies up to him like they`re chums. There has to be an answer to this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Joel, let me give a question to you, how would you like to see this investigated? Do you want to have an outside commission? Do you want it done on Capitol Hill? The Republicans probably are not wild about that, they owned the house and the senate right now.
BENENSON: Well I think some people talk about should there be a select committee and should be done on Capitol Hill? I think there is got to be - there seems to be bipartisan agreement growing in congress including among some Republicans that something is rotten in Denmark and we ought to get to the bottom of it. I think it`s got to be independent. I think it can be congress. I think that we have to have faith in our political institutions, I think it`s bipartisan, some kind of select committee, I think congressman Crowley`s right, you are right, a lot will be done behind closed doors, and it should be. There`s confidential information, there is classified information to be discussed. As long as it`s independent and gets going quickly, I think that would satisfy the American people. I think they want to know there`s action being taken. That we`re not going to let Russia meddle in our democracy and we`re going to get to the bottom of what`s happened throughout the campaign and since then.
CROWLEY: Greta, it goes back to the baker call. What did the president know? And when did he know it? There`s a lot of confusion right now, when he was notified of this, when the vice president was notified. Even the president has conflicting remarks about that as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you want Congressman Crowley they also investigate this whole hacking thing? I mean, into the DNC. I mean, I don`t know if that is ever been - I mean that seems to be a lot of unanswered questions there as to exactly what the Russians did or did not do.
CROWLEY: True. I think there`s a lot of -- a lot we should be looking at in terms of the Russians. The hacking is certainly an issue. It goes to the core of our democracy. An outside influence like Russia influencing the outcome of the election or even just attempting, whether he did or didn`t, the attempt in and of itself. What is the connection between the president and the Putin administration and regime? And look, I`ll even look at the leaking of information. That is a legitimate issue but it`s not something that is going to cover up what has happened so for. Michael Flynn wasn`t fired because of the leak. He was fired because he didn`t lie well enough for this administration.
[18:35:27] VAN SUSTEREN: Well I think -- I don`t know, I think there`s probably -- I don`t think he`d agree with you on that one. I don`t know why, but anyway. Thank you, gentlemen, both.
CROWLEY: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Next, President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister talking about the art of the deal. What does it mean for Mideast peace? We`ll go live to Israel. And press conference controversy. Why is President Trump only calling on conservative media outlets? The panel will discuss.
VAN SUSTEREN: What a big day at the White House. President Trump welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Trump making his most extensive remarks about the Mideast peace process since taking office. It included this remarkable exchange about the building of west bank settlements.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: As far as settlements, I`d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit, so let`s see what we do.
DONALD TRUMP, THE 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Doesn`t sound too optimistic, I sense a good negotiator.
NETANYAHU: That is the art of the deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump also saying he will not insist on a Palestinian state as part of a peace deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[18:40:4] TRUMP: I`m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I`m very happy with the one that both parties like. I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate that they`re taught from a very young age. They`re taught tremendous hate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Daniel Shapiro was the United States ambassador to Israel under President Obama and he joins us from Tel Aviv, nice to see you, sir.
DANIEL SHAPIRO, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Hi, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Can you give me a sense of whether or not as resonated in Israel yet the two sort of headlines about Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House today, first is that President Trump says that he wants the Israelis to hold back on the settlements and the second the discussion about two-state versus one-state.
SHAPIRO: There`s some effort to try to understand it. They seem a little contradictory at first, but the truth is I don`t think that they really are. Since the inauguration, the president has four times come out and made very clear that he does believe that pursuing Middle East peace is important and that he believes that further expansion of west bank settlements makes that harder and he is now called directly on the Prime Minister to try to put limits on that. That doesn`t mean he`ll oppose everything but it does means that he cares about this issue and it means that he is going to try to restrain settlement construction which is consistent with longstanding U.S. policy.
Now, the question about two states or one states, that would be a change for the United States to no longer back a two-state solution but I don`t really buy it. I think this was done this way to help Prime Minister Netanyahu deal with some of the pressures from the right-wing members of his cabinet who are calling on him to abandon the two-state solution which he is endorsed for eight years now. I think once the president`s envoys, Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Tillerson come to the region, speak to Israelis, Palestinians and Arab leaders, everyone`s going to understand that the only outcome that can actually end this conflict and produce the middle east peace the president wants is, in fact, a two-state solution.
VAN SUSTEREN: How important is it to Israelis if you can quantify it that if the U.S. Embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, is that a big item?
SHAPIRO: It`s something almost every Israeli I ever talked to while I was ambassador asked me about, why isn`t the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem where they have their capital and their government? And all previous administrations that have looked at it had felt that the time wasn`t right that it could be disruptive to Middle East peace talks and that it could even provoke violence. Prime Minister -- President Trump said he wanted to do it, but he is also put that on the back burner as well. I still think it`s possible that they`ll do it. I think it would be welcomed in Israel. I`ve written that it can be done, but has to be done in a smart way that doesn`t -- isn`t perceived at provocative or closing off options for a two- state solutions in which both sides have claimed in Jerusalem.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any sense of how the Israelis perceive President Trump, whether their lives are going to change any way by having an American president be President Trump as opposed to anyone else?
SHAPIRO: Well, there are those who like some of what they heard him say in the campaign and celebrated his victory. There are many others who, like me, wonder about the unpredictability and, of this administration and this president and the chaos that has actually engulfed the White House even in recent days. You know, the Prime Minister`s advisers met several times with General Flynn to help prepare this meeting and then right before the meeting happened, General Flynn resigned in a terrible chaotic scandal which is still so much for me. So it meant that this meeting was affected in terms of being able to prepare the president and actually carry out the things they had prepared together with General Flynn.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, ambassador, for joining us, sir.
SHAPIRO: Great to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump`s pick for labor secretary, well, he is out. This news breaking as a decades-old tape from "the Oprah Winfrey show" emerges featuring his ex-wife. Did that tape impact his decision?
And who can forget the insults? It got very personal on the campaign trail between candidate Senator Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, and tonight a dinner date at the White House.
[18:47:20] VAN SUSTEREN: We have breaking news in the Michael Flynn saga. The Republican head of the judiciary committee Senator Chuck Grassley, along with the ranking Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, demanding answers. They just sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey requesting a briefing from the DOJ on information related to General Flynn`s resignation, back with me, David Catanese, Eliana Johnson, and John McCormack. Eliana, now that we got the judiciary committee ranking and chairman, bipartisan request for that. 4
ELIANA JOHNSON, POLITICO NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I think it shows that there are many Republicans, Chuck Grassley stepping up, who are willing to hold the administration accountable when they see something going astray. And I think Steve Hadley was exactly right in the previous segment that there`s a lot we don`t know about this and it`s dangerous to jump to conclusions so I think this seems like a good start.
VAN SUSTEREN: And, of course, John, this is not going to make the Trump administration very happy.
JOHN MCCORMACK, THE WEEKLY STANDARD SENIOR WRITER: I don`t think so. This is the Republicans giving into what President Trump is calling fake news and illegal leaks from the executive branch.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now to news about President Trump`s cabinet, his labor secretary nominee is out. He quits. Fast food CEO Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration one day before his confirmation hearing was to begin. It came as politico obtained part of a 1990 interview on "The Oprah Winfrey show" where Puzder`s ex-wife alleges abuse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most frightening thing was leaving because once I made that break, and once I made it public and remember my ex-husband was a public figure, everyone knew him and knew what he was doing. Once I made that public, he vowed revenge. He said, I will see you in the gutter, this will never be over. You will pay for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, those allegations are 30 years old, and Puzder`s ex- wife fully recanted all of them and she did it years ago and it was only eight months after that Oprah appearance that she recanted and her original allegations were made during a heated divorce. Puzder has always denied all allegations of domestic abuse. Let me go back to panel. David, if this had any bearing on Puzder`s decision to withdraw, he had other issues he was getting a lot of heat from that were related to his thoughts on, for instance, minimum wage.
DAVID CATANESE, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: I think Oprah took him down. I think it`s different when you see it on tape. And even though she has renounced it, this was circulating heavily today. I also think that there was wariness among Republicans, there is a reporting out there at least four Republican senators were wary and were not committed to him and if you lose four, you can get him through and you never wants to bring them to the floor if you don`t have the votes. That is a bigger embarrassment.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think when I saw the statements that were issued, all the statements, though, I didn`t see them all. The statements I did see from many senators were about the fact with minimum wage or he hadn`t paid his domestic --
[18:50:11] CATANESE: That I don`t think -- that was a bigger problem with the Democrats, right, I mean, Democrats had a problem on the minimum wage, and they were hammering him on that stuff. When you start to lose Republicans, now, I don`t know if these Republicans would have actually broken with Trump if they brought him to the floor. There had to be considerable unrest about that for him to step down. I don`t think it`s clear, though, if he gave his resignation or if Trump asked for it yet. Just like in the Flynn situation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Right now President Trump and the first lady are having dinner at the White House with their dinner guests, Senator Marco Rubio and his wife. You have to wonder if they will reminisce about that bruising primary campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Don`t worry about it, little Marco. I will.
MARCO RUBIO, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Person with the worst spray tan in America said he wanted to sue me. He is going to sue me. He should sue whoever did that to his face.
TRUMP: I watched this lightweight, Rubio, total lightweight, and little mouth on him, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing.
RUBIO: Have you seen his hands? You know what they say about men with small hands.
TRUMP: Don`t worry about it, little Marco. In all fairness, Marco is not a negotiator. I watched him melt down and I will tell you it was one of the saddest things I`ve ever seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Wow.
MCCORMACK: Good old days.
VAN SUSTEREN: The gold old days, right, Eliana, I don`t know how we endured that.
JOHNSON: Oh, man, they should come out and do an act together. That was pretty funny, actually. You know, remarkably, people talk about Trump`s thin-skinniness. I`m sure he is actually thin skinned. He actually has shown a remarkable capacity to put those things behind him. He seemed to have a great dinner with Mitt Romney. He didn`t hire him, though, by all accounts.
Actually thought seriously about hiring him, he brought Nikki Haley on, also a serious critic of his candidacy. And I think when the mood strikes him and he thinks somebody`s a good fit for somebody or wants to mend fences, I think Trump knows a lot of the jousting is a show.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, John, I`m thinking, the two men can get over this at the White House tonight as they`re having dinner and, of course, yesterday he had lunch with Governor Christie and his wife. He is on a charm offensive. I`m not so sure the wives are too amused by this. They have to sit there tonight, after each other`s husband has been rather rude.
MCCORMACK: They can probably commiserate over the embarrassing things about what their husbands said. I think that can be a point of bonding. You know, Marco Rubio when he decided to run for re-election for senate, he said he was doing it because he was going to be a check on either President Trump or President Clinton. So far, he seems more interested in sort of getting along with President Trump. He expressed reservations about confirming Secretary of State Tillerson, ultimately voted for him. I think we should wait and see where exactly Rubio is going to stand up to Trump.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Final topic, the president and the press today for the third time in a row at a press conference, President Trump called on only reporters from conservative news organizations. In his official settings, he is avoiding the other networks and the wire services, but consider this, we`ve also seen President Trump make surprise appearances to the press like on Air Force One last Friday. You don`t see many other presidents doing that. Even in the hallways of the White House. Monday, he spoke to our Kelly O`Donnell. David, he is getting criticized at his press conferences.
VAN SUSTEREN: But he certainly gives access to reporters sort of on, you catch him on the sly.
CATANESE: I actually think it`s a good idea they`re trying to broaden the people who get the first questions at these White House press conferences.
VAN SUSTEREN: There are like two questions.
CATANESE: I actually think that is a good idea. If they`re doing this next week, the following week, and they`re only -- they`re favoring the conservative outlets over everyone else. That is a problem, too. I think generally if they broaden it out and open it up, I think that is good for media and really for everybody.
VAN SUSTEREN: I Remember, John, the former executive editor, manager at "the New York times," Joel Abramson, said the Obama administration was the at least transparent she ever covered. I`m careful in being critical of Trump for not giving access. The fact Kelly O`Donnell got the statement from him on the night of the ruling of the ninth circuit was extraordinary.
MCCORMACK: Yes, I mean the Obama - White House definitely did sort of eyes out conservative publications, when I work for the "Weekly Standard," they weren`t exactly friendly or responsive to us. I do wish that both sides were open and transparent, no matter publications, ideological leanings. And I do hope the conservatives who get questions they don`t embarrass themselves with sycophantic questions, the kind of questions that the conservatives criticized liberal or mainstream reporters harassing the Obama. They should ask hard-hitting questions whether from a conservative perspective or just the news of the day.
VAN SUSTEREN: And, of course, Eliana, the president sometimes bypasses us all together, just goes to the people on twitter.
JOHNSON: He is unpredictable. So yes, he does sometimes go to twitter, and sometimes he talks to reporters. In general, this anti-establishment aspect of broadening the pool of reporters, taking Skype questions, I think is great and I think the complaint, the complaints from some reporters that he is doing it are a little bit ridiculous.
[18:55:02] VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, panel.
And I have something to say "For the record" about civility in Washington. That is next.
VAN SUSTEREN: "For the record" how about we stop the stupid stuff, the name calling and personal insults. It`s so juvenile. Not to mention counterproductive. Both sides, they`re guilty. I can give you unlimited examples. We had to deal with this last summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock her up. That is right. Yes, that is right. Lock her up.
I`m going to tell you what --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, I know, many conservatives loved it. I thought it childish. The whole world was watching. They saw this. What we want them to see is a smart, robust debate, not a schoolyard hair pulling. Now the Clinton campaign, they did some snide stuff, too. Remember this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You could put half of Trump`s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, I hope this behavior was just a passing fancy and after the election everyone would grow up, strong debate inspiring people, old- fashioned decency. I was dead wrong. The name calling continued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a stunning thing that a white supremacist, Bannon, would be a permanent member of the National Security Council.
BERNIE SANDERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a president who is delusional in many respects, a pathological liar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, some took to the keyboard like President Trump who since taking office has sent out tweets describing a federal judge a so- called judge and calling Senator John McCain a loser.
But how can we expect a world to take us seriously, look up to us, or even our own citizens, our kids. When this is how the people at the top act, sometimes I just want to yell stop. Thank for watching. I will see back tomorrow night 6:00 p.m.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END