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For the Record with Greta, Transcript 4/6/2017

Guests: Bill Neely, Barry McCaffrey, Andre Carson, Howard Fineman, Eliana Johnson, Ron Hosko, Howard Fineman, Eliana Johnson, Ron Hosko, Matt Schlapp, Kurt Bardella, Christopher Hill

Show: For the Record with Greta Date: April 6, 2017 Guest: Bill Neely, Barry McCaffrey, Andre Carson, Howard Fineman, Eliana Johnson, Ron Hosko, Howard Fineman, Eliana Johnson, Ron Hosko, Matt Schlapp, Kurt Bardella, Christopher Hill

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: Thank you, Chuck. Tonight, we`re following two breaking news stories. A political bombshell here in Washington and the potential of real bombs half a world away. Right now President Trump is in Mar-a-Lago set to get a briefing on possible U.S. military options for Syria, that briefing coming from defense secretary James Mattis. And NBC News learning those military options will run the gamut from taking out Syrian aircraft used in those horrific chemical attacks on innocents to larger scale strikes, the president today speaking on Air Force One.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What Assad did is terrible. I think what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes. And it shouldn`t have happened. And it shouldn`t be allowed to happen.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that Assad should be power in Syria?

TRUMP: I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. And he`s there, and I guess he`s running things, so something should happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: Officials confirming the U.S. military saw the aircraft on radar and watched them drop bombs. Dramatic new video shows the moments when one bomb hit.


(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: And today secretary of state Tillerson appearing to suggest the chemical attacks could lead to regime change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Assad`s role in the future is uncertain. Clearly, with acts that he has taken it would seem that there would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people. It is very important that the Russian government consider carefully their continued support for the Assad regime. It`s a serious matter. It requires a serious response.


VAN SUSTEREN: With the NBC`s Bill Neely in Moscow, retired four-star general, Barry McCaffrey. First to you, Bill, I want to know what they`re saying in Russia tonight because if President Trump does takes some military action, it could very well be that Russians themselves lose their lives because they`re fighting side by side with Assad in Syria.

BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS: Absolutely, Greta. I mean, that is the great danger. People are already talking about the possibility of airstrikes on air strips like, you know, Latakia, Tartus, there are Russian air crews based in that area. Any bomb that strikes a Russian would obviously have grave, grave implications here. There`s no question that President Trump`s attitude toward Syria has changed. Any airstrike on Syria would be a huge change. Whether it would be a game changer in the war is a completely different question and I think the answer is no. So, remember what Rex Tillerson had said, it`s very important that the Russian government consider carefully their continued support for the Assad regime. But just hours before he said that, the official Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said something very interesting. He said Russia`s support for Assad is not unconditional. That is not possible in this world. And he said Moscow simply cannot convince President Assad to do whatever Moscow wants. Let`s take a listen to a few more things that Peskov said, very interesting. Let`s have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DMITRY PESKOV, SPOKESPERSON FOR THE KREMLIM: To speak about a situation in Syria, we have to keep in mind that Assad and his army is a legitimate power in Syria, and they are the only real power in Syria that can resist terrorists on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NEELY: So, a couple of other things worth noting, Greta. At the U.N. Security Council, they are discussing a draft resolution by Russia. But the U.K. ambassador said that that draft resolution didn`t even condemn the chemical weapons attack. So, that shows how far apart the two sides, Washington and Moscow are. One other thing worth noting, this has come up as President Trump meets China`s president Xi Jinping. I just wonder if President Trump, if he does launch airstrikes, isn`t also sending a message to Beijing. Remember what President Trump said about North Korea. If you, China, don`t take action on North Korea, we will. This could be President Trump showing that he is prepared to take military action wherever necessary, whenever necessary. Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: Bill, if you`ll stand by, let me go to General McCaffrey. General, it seems to me that we need to identify what our mission is if we assume at this point do we do nothing, do we look the other way, do we hope somebody else does it. But if we take military action, is it to punish or is it regime change? I mean, there`s a whole lot of options on the table. If you were advising President Trump tonight, what would you be telling him?

BARRY MCCAFFREY, RETIRED U.S. ARMY FOUR-STAR GENERAL: Well, you know, you`re the first person on TV I`ve heard say what is the mission. So, when you`re going to use military power, you need to write down the political objectives you`re trying to achieve. And then select military measures you think will get you there. The worst thing we can do is signal our discomfort with 100 dead from a chemical attack and not do something decisive. So, I`m very skeptical about all this, 500,000 Syrians have died, a lot of it with self-propelled artillery, tanks, AK-47s. Now we have 100 killed in a very gruesome manner. But, you know, Greta, I tell people, I`ve seen a lot of people killed and they`re never very attractive ways of going. So, I hope they`re cautious about what they decide to do. And if they use military power, give the U.S. air force and navy 15 days and tell them to take out the Syrian air force. That would be influential on the situation.

VAN SUSTEREN: If we did that, if we took out -- if we did what you suggest, there is a high risk, at least I think, so maybe I`m wrong, is that we would also take out some Russian military because they are right there fighting side by side by Assad, which I think changes sort of the balance in all of this because now we`ve got, you know, now we`ve got a situation with Russia. Am I wrong?

MCCAFFREY: No, I think you`re dead on target. But, you know, again, let me just sort of reiterate. Russia is a second or third-tier military power. They cannot confront the U.S. Air Force and U.S. naval air. They`re not going to do it. But on the other hand, there will be a consequence of any U.S. unilateral use of military power. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards may go after U.S. forces in Iraq. We`ve got 6, 700 special ops on the ground in Syria. Hezbollah could go after the Israelis. So, any use of military power has unknown consequences. That`s why you have to decide what is it you`re trying to achieve before you use military power.

VAN SUSTEREN: Bill, I think that much of this started, at least we thought, back several years ago in part, the sort of Russia-Syria alliance because Russia wanted to protect its military interest in the region. Is there any discussion in Russia tonight about -- are they fearful that we`re going to do something to inhibit those military bases of theirs?

NEELY: Well, it`s interesting, Greta, that even some of president Putin`s harshest critics are raising their eyebrows at the idea of military strength. Gary Kasparov is actually based in the U.S. now and a member of the Russian opposition said, air attacks have become the American way of acting, just enough to make a problem worse. So, this is a huge step. I mean, as General McCaffrey has just said, what exactly is the mission here? I was in Damascus in 2013 when, you remember, America was mulling what it called pin prick strikes. I mean, it wasn`t even a great military campaign. Of course, it never happened because President Obama pulled back from the red line. But what exactly is President Trump hoping to achieve? General Mattis will be outlining the military options to him any time now. But is it just limited symbolic strikes or is it something more than that? And the dangers, as I`ve said, are great, not least the political dangers to any new relationship between the U.S. and Russia, between Presidents Trump and Putin. American air strikes would certainly put a huge question mark on any new relationship there. Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Just as side, we`re looking at live pictures now, President Trump greeting President Xi of China. They`re down at Mar- a-Lago for this very important summit. It`s the summit that is taking place. General, if the option -- let me go to the extreme option because I still think of lawyers, I look at worst case scenarios, but if regime change is the option, you know, what happens next? Because we`ve seen in Libya when Gaddafi was gone, things, frankly, got a lot messier, Mubarak in Egypt, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, I mean, there is sort of like the post- regime change, you know, your thoughts about that?

MCCAFFREY: Well, you know, we don`t consider you as a secretary of state. You know, the end result of all this is Assad will never again regain the trust of the Syrian people. The majority are Sunni-Muslim. He`s a minor Shi`ite Alawite sect. They`re allied with the Christians, Jews and others. At the end of the day, that faction thinks if Assad loses they all get killed which may well be the outcome. So, you know, you have to have a score card to watch what`s going on inside Syria. Kurdish interests, the Turks are in there fighting against the Kurds. Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, U.S. Special Forces and British SAS, this is a mess. It`s unlikely to be improved by the employment of U.S. air power. Never mind getting in on the ground to try and set up safe areas. So, you know, again, my caution is let`s spend a billion dollars a month on humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees inside Jordan and Turkey and Iraq and be very careful about the use of military power. If they`re going to use military strikes, then they should choose a decisive objective.

VAN SUSTEREN: And not to mention even though -- that opens a whole another can of worms for another whole segment, another night, the impact, the economic impact, even though the Syrian refugees is in a small kingdom like Jordan, but, anyway. Gentlemen, thank you both very much. We`ll be talking about this I`m sure for many days to come because this is a crisis for us. Thank you both. Turning to our other big story today, President Trump now defending house intelligence chairman Devin Nunes after Nunes recused himself from his committee`s investigation into Russia. Here is the president this afternoon on Air Force One.


TRUMP: I think he`s a very good person. I just heard that he did -- I think he`s a very good person. He`s a very honorable guy. And I think he did that maybe for some reason. He`s a high-quality person. And the gentleman replacing him, we don`t know. I hear he`s a very, very highly respected man, high-quality.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: The house ethics committee is now investigating whether Chairman Nunes revealed classified information to the public. Chairman Nunes is blaming left-wing activist groups for this ethics investigation and he calls the charges false and politically motivated. NBC`s Kasie Hunt caught up with him in this exclusive video.


KASIE HUNT: Are you concerned about, potentially, being in trouble with this ethics committee? Do you have any concerns at all?


HUNT: Did it become a distraction?

NUNES: You doing OK?

HUNT: I`m doing well. You said that there were leftwing groups.

NUNES: I commented. I gave you a statement.

HUNT: You believe that these are leftwing groups that were baseless charges?


VAN SUSTEREN: Now one aspect of the charges against Nunes is about whether he revealed existence of foreign intelligence surveillance act or FISA court warrants which are supposed to be classified. Here`s what Nunes said two weeks ago.




VAN SUSTEREN: Chairman Nunes met last night with Speaker Paul Ryan who agreed with Nunes` decision to step down in the Russian investigation, but today the speaker of the house defending him.


UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still have faith that he didn`t do anything wrong? Did he mishandle classified information?

PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No, I don`t believe so. Devin Nunes has earned my trust over many years for his integrity and his dedication to the critical work of the intelligence community does to keep Americans safe. He continues to have that trust. The chairman Nunes wants to make sure this is not a distraction to a very important investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: Texas congressman Mike Conaway will now lead the intelligence committee`s Russia investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE CONAWAY, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: We`re going to conduct a bipartisan investigation. We`re going to do it in a very professional work-like manner. I look forward to working with Adam.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: And the top Democrat on the committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, also sees progress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADAM SCHIFF, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I think it really helps us move forward. I think it was the right decision. I`m sure it was a very difficult one for the chairman. But it gives us a fresh start. The work has always continued, but now I think the cloud that had settled over the committee`s work has been lifted. We are moving forward on witnesses and we`re continuing to review documents. So, I think it will do a lot to restore credibility to our investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: With me, Congressman Andre Carson, Democrat from the great state of Indiana, who serves on the house intelligence committee. Good evening, sir.

ANDRE CARSON, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Good evening. Thanks for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, now the news that Chairman Nunes has recused himself at least to this investigation having to do with Russia and potential contacts with the Trump campaign and Trump transition team, how did you learn about that?

CARSON: I learned about it the way everyone else learned about it. But, you know, I have to give the chairman some credit for being selfless enough in this matter to remove himself from this particular aspect of the committee`s work.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, with all due respect, you call it selfless. It`s not exactly like he did it the day after he created the issue which has led to his recusal. I mean, he did make that trip to the White House alone.

CARSON: He did indeed.

VAN SUSTEREN: . that evening, he returned. He didn`t tell you and the committee, didn`t tell Republicans or Democrats, didn`t tell the ranking member the following day. Had a press conference, went back to the White House, had another press conference, and that was many days ago. So, it`s been a number of days before he`s had that so-called selfless act where he`s thought that he should be out of this.

CARSON: Well, we`ve seen others -- I mean, who would have waited until the committee`s reputation had been burnt to the ground. And so, I think it`s selfless in the regard that he removed himself from this particular aspect of the work. I mean, he is still the chairman of the house intelligence committee. We have to remember that. But to take himself away from this function, I think it`s commendable.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Do you think that the house intelligence committee has taken any sort of hit in its perceived credibility or integrity?

CARSON: Temporarily. I think that this committee as well as our counterparts in the senate, Democrats and Republicans, we take our jobs very seriously, Greta. We took an oath to not only support the intelligence community, but to protect the American people and bolster our national security apparatus. It`s a job that I take very seriously. We put in long hours because the work is very serious, from counter terrorism to counter interdiction with narcotics. I mean, it spans the scope of intelligence work and it`s a very serious operation.

VAN SUSTEREN: In consideration of the fact of the importance of it, has Congressman Nunes -- Chairman Nunes now told you and other members of the committee exactly what documents he`s seen, why he didn`t tell you right away, what was in those documents, why he went alone, has he told you those things?

CARSON: No, but here`s the deal. He is no longer over the function of looking into the Russia investigation, and I`m fine with that. We have to move forward to get to the bottom of these matters and I think we`re doing so in a meaningful way and we appreciate the media for pushing the issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: Don`t you think it`s an integral part of the story? I mean, frankly, in my view if I were on the committee, he would be one of my witnesses. If I were on the committee, I would be distressed that it`s taken until now to get information. And, in fact, you still don`t have the information and you`re willing to give him a pass on this information. It may be totally an innocent explanation, but the problem is he holds the cards. You`re still in mystery and you`re saying that`s fine because he`s now been selfless. Honestly, I don`t understand that.

CARSON: Well, Greta, you should understand this. A pass has not been given. Let me be very clear. Perhaps we could see him as a witness at some point. But let me be very clear. A pass has not been forgiven. I commended an aspect of him removing himself from this particular investigation. He is still the chairman of the committee. I need to make it very clear. If a pass were given, I would have said it was commendable that he step down as chair of the committee, but he has not done so. He has only removed himself from this particular aspect of the broader community`s work.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any problem with him going over to the White House, looking at those documents alone that night without another.

CARSON: Of course. Of course, I do. I`ve been very public about it. I`ve been very pronounced about it and very critical.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you have no explanation -- and right now, you have no explanation for that?

CARSON: Well, you`d have to ask him for that answer.

VAN SUSTEREN: You`re on the committee and you now say he`s been selfless.

CARSON: I don`t speak for him. I don`t speak for him. Here`s the deal. As a former police officer, someone who has worked in counter terrorism, I understand that this is very serious work. What he did was an error. It was a huge mistake. It was an embarrassment to the committee. And I think the work continues. I commend ranking member Adam Schiff for acting with integrity. But we cannot play political football with lives of the American people.

VAN SUSTEREN: With all due respect, I don`t think getting the facts is playing politics and I think he did create a lot of suspicion, whether fairly or unfairly.

CARSON: He did.

VAN SUSTEREN: And we`re just trying to get the facts at this point.

CARSON: He did. And he has not been given a pass. I`ve been very critical, every time I`ve gone on TV, I`ve been very critical of him. But I can also be balanced enough and understand that this committee is not about one person. There are Democrats and Republicans who serve very honorably on this committee.

VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed there are.

CARSON: So to make this about Devin Nunes, to me, is unfortunate and is a complete distraction. So, he`s not been given a pass, but we are saying it`s time to move forward and unearthing the necessary truths to get to the bottom of the Trump campaign`s affiliation with the Russians and the current administration`s affiliation with the Russians.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you very much for joining us, sir.

CARSON: Always a fun time. Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: And still ahead, we connect the dots in the Russian intelligence story. How the president`s early Saturday morning tweet on wiretaps led to the Chairman Nunes bombshell today. Also, was the big boss annoyed by all that talk about President Bannon? New reporting today and what may have led to that big White House shake up. And the other big test for President Trump, North Korea. Will President Trump order military action there? Should there be military action there? The president sits down with the Chinese leader just moments from now.


VAN SUSTEREN: From Russia meddling in the election to a wiretapping claim to a tangled web of questions, the big news today, house intelligence committee Chairman Nunes is out, recusing himself from the investigation. But how did we get here? We`re going to show you all the players involved and right smack at the center of this growing controversy is President Trump and his explosive tweet accusing President Obama of wiretapping him. And then there is Congressman Devin Nunes, the house intel chairman who was, yes, was, until today leading the house probe into possible ties between the Trump team and Russia. And after a late night trip to the White House, Chairman Nunes claimed that intelligence community incidentally collected information about people in the Trump transition. And it`s important to note Chairman Nunes was part of that Trump transition team. And this is Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council. The Washington Post reporting he discovered the documents related to the alleged incidental surveillance. And he gave those documents to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer at the NSE. Then there`s Michael Ellis, the NSE`s deputy legal advisor. A New York Times reporter said he is the one who showed Chairman Nunes the documents at that late night trip to the White House. NBC News has not confirmed this, but what we do know is that Michael Ellis had worked for Chairman Nunes at the house intel committee up until March. Now, back to the Ezra Cohen-Watnick, he was the prot‚g‚ of national security advisor Michael Flynn. Flynn resigned as national security advisor after making misrepresentations to Vice-President Pence. And then, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster took over becoming President Trump`s national security advisor. Reports are that McMaster wanted to get rid of Cohen-Watnick, so Cohen-Watnick took his case around McMaster and to Steve Bannon. At that time, Bannon, the White House chief strategist, was also serving on the National Security Council. Bannon had saved 30-year-old Cohen-Watnick job by going straight to President Trump for him. The president overruled General McMaster and Cohen-Watnick stayed on board. Let`s remember this whole entire thing started back on March 4th with that early Saturday morning tweet by President Trump accusing President Obama of wiretapping him. And all of this is leading to the perception by many that the National Security Council may be becoming too politicized causing yesterday`s ouster of Steve Bannon from the National Security Council. Now, the White House denies this. They say he was no longer needed on the National Security Council and that Bannon was only there to watch General Flynn. And Flynn, of course, is now long gone. Yes, this is what the FBI and intelligence communities are looking at, and it suggests that a lot of news from the last 24 hours is tied together. With me, Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post, Eliana Johnson from Politico, Ron Hosko, former assistant director at the FBI. Howard, this could be much ado about nothing. This could be absolutely nothing, but they have made us suspicious by, at least Nunes has made me suspicious. What is he doing?

HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, late night trips over to the White House to look at secret documents are going to make people suspicious. And the fact that he finally recused himself from leading the investigation rather than alleviate the concern, I think just heightens the concern because he didn`t leave the committee. He`s still chairman of the committee. Steve Bannon off the NSE, but still with top security clearance.

VAN SUSTEREN: But he was on the committee was weird. They said he was on the committee to be a spy on Flynn. And so, why would you put someone you`re suspicious of on the committee to begin with?

FINEMAN: Right. And also, actually, Bannon and Flynn agreed on a lot, so it`s not clear who was going to be checking whom. And the notion that Bannon`s work is now done because Flynn left, well, Flynn left -- I think my count is right, 52 days ago. If that was his whole mission on the NSE, he could have left a month and a half to two months ago.

VAN SUSTEREN: Eliana, if I`m blowing this out of proportion, I actually going to plead not guilty because there are just so many weird things going on.

ELIANA JOHNSON, POLITICO: You know a couple points, on Bannon`s removal, he supposedly, the line the White House peddle with that he was there to baby-sit Michael Flynn essentially. And yet, we only know of him possibly attending one NSE meeting. So he was doing a very good job baby-sitting. What I think we saw yesterday was the regularization and normalization of the national security process under H.R. McMaster. We have now is an NSE that looks a whole lot like what National Security Councils have looked like under previous administrations.

VAN SUSTEREN: That`s good news.

JOHNSON: That`s good news. Yep, this is a regular normal national security process. What we had under Mike Flynn was something abnormal where the director of national intelligence, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff were not necessarily included in any NSE meetings, abnormal. This is something that looks much more like the regular process, suggests H.R. McMaster has real control of the National Security Agency, and is in control of that organization.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Ron, the former FBI, the FBI must be pulling its hair out because it`s probably -- we`re probably all stepping over all the investigations. You`ve got the hill doing weird things at least on the house side. You`ve got us in the media like we`re digging into facts and we`re probably -- we`re probably making a lot of mistakes, not intentionally. But the FBI must be going nuts.

RON HOSKO, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: You know my hope is that the FBI, day in, day out, is grinding forward to find objectives. They know where they`re going. They know where they have to look and they are moving forward on it. Part of the difficulty, I think, in a 24-hour news cycle like we`re seeing with unforced errors on both sides from every camp, it feeds this 24-hour news cycle and it seems like we`re a bunch of cats chasing a laser pointer around. The FBI is not doing that. They`re not chasing the laser pointer. They`re digging in on what they suspect. They are narrowing their focus. They may be expanding their focus and they`re grinding forward. The difficulty is they`re going to do it in a way that is opaque to us and we`re eager for early results.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, the 24-hour, 24/7 cable news, I mean, there are sort of lots of reasons to be critical. But, frankly, I think there are a lot of things in this investigation but for. I think Flynn would probably still be on the National Security Council, and he`s got some things that are really sort of things we should look at, his relationship with Russia, getting money from Russia, not reporting it, misleading the vice-president. As bad as we are at cable news, we may be a little bit provocative trying to get the truth out on this.

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: No, I think it`s all been to the good, because in Congressman Nunes` case, he could very likely end up being the subject of investigation by his own committee, if not the FBI itself, depending on what he did, he denies it. He was concerned enough about the appearance of it and the fact there is a lawsuit about it or complaint before the ethics committee to do that.

ELIANA JOHNSON, POLITICO NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I disagree with you on that. I think Nunes would still be running this investigation if not for Paul Ryan`s intervention. I think he would -- I think Paul Ryan realized he was getting in the way of an investigation, that it was bad for Republicans and in the house and bad for the Trump administration. It behooves the Trump administration to have an investigation that looks serious and nonpartisan if in fact nobody on their campaign did anything wrong here.

FINEMAN: But Paul Ryan and the Trump White House are reacting to the minute by minute reports on cable television. We know for a fact that Donald Trump watches it nonstop.

JOHNSON: I think that is right. I think there hasn`t been an appreciation in the Trump White House and Republicans in congress of the optics of this. Because you had Russian meddling in the campaign and because you had Trump campaign chairman who had nefarious associations with Russian allied at the very least people. This is a political hot potato and the Trump administration and Republicans in congress including Nunes have not treated it that way.

FINEMAN: That is why Nunes is out.

VAN SUSTEREN: I thought Nunes should have recused himself on this issue a long time ago. If I were on the committee, he would be one of the first witnesses I would want to call. He can`t be on the committee. He is made himself a fact witness in this.

RON HOSKO, FORMER ASST. FBI DIRECTOR: I agree with you on that. And I actually think that -- whether it was Nunes taking this step or Ryan pushing this step, it`s a step in the right direction, but it`s too short a step.

VAN SUSTEREN: If Nunes didn`t get it to realize he should have gotten it a long time ago, if it took pushing him out that is not a particularly good sign.

FINEMAN: The problem politically for him, he became useless as a proponent of an alternative narrative for the White House. In other words, the White House has been battling to change the nature of the conversation here. Nunes became ineffective at doing that. I have to question whether Mr. Conway is going to be any better at it or whether Trey Goudy will be any better at it. There`s no question that Nunes can`t help the White House now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Just minutes ago, Hillary Clinton former Secretary of State with some of her most extensive comments about Russia`s election meddling and also, Mar-a-Lago summit, meeting Trump for the first time, what will they say about the North Korea threat? And did White House advisor Steve Bannon threaten to quit? That is ahead.


VAN SUSTEREN: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton making her most extensive comments so far about the Russia election hacks. Listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I am deeply concerned about what went on with Russia. A foreign power meddled with our election and did so in a way that we are learning more about every single day. If we don`t take action together to hold whoever was involved accountable, they will be back time and time again.


VAN SUSTEREN: Those comments coming at the women in the world summit in New York City. She also gave her opinion on the Trump administration.


CLINTON: I think they are going through some very public growing pains. So, I`m ok, I will put it this way, as a person I`m ok. As an American I`m pretty worried. So, I think I`ll take off my person hat and put on my citizen hat and, you know, there is a lot to be concerned about.


VAN SUSTEREN: And Secretary Clinton also weighing in about her future prospects.


CLINTON: I am looking at doing interesting things. I don`t think that will include ever running for office again.


VAN SUSTEREN: And coming up, did Steve Bannon threaten to quit? New reports of back stabbing inside the White House, and somehow Saturday night live is involved.


VAN SUSTEREN: Now to the infighting apparently breaking out inside the White House. Chief strategist Steve Bannon denying reports he threatened to quit after being yanked from the National Security Council, but now there are more reports that he is clashing with President Trump`s son-in- law Jared Kushner. A source telling NBC news there is a war between so- called nationalists like Bannon and globalists like Kushner and the Daily Beast reporting that President Trump was irked by Saturday night live skit depicting Bannon as the grim reaper who really runs the White House.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok, Donald that is enough fun for tonight. Can I have my desk back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course, Mr. President, I`ll go sit at my desk.



VAN SUSTEREN: In recent months Bannon has made very few public comments though he did speak at the big conservative gathering CPAC.


STEVE BANNON, CHIEF STRATEGIST TO THE WHITE HOUSE: It`s not only going to get better it`s going to get worse every day in the media and here`s why. By the way, the internal logic makes sense. They`re corporatist globalist media that are adamantly opposed, adamantly opposed -



To an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has. If you think they`re going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day, every day it is going to be a fight.



VAN SUSTEREN: Matt Schlapp is Chairman of the American conservative union, the organization which organizes CPAC and he is the one who conducted that interview with Steve Bannon as well as chief of staff Reince Priebus, and Kurt Bardella was media consultant for Breitbart news while Steve Bannon was running. Good evening, gentlemen. Matt, first to you, always outside it looks different from what might be happening inside. Do you know what is going on inside the White House?

MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN OF CPAC: All you have to do is read a bunch of articles to know what is going on inside this White House. There is leaking like I`ve never seen before. Some of these stories have 18 and 20 sources for the stories. So, look --

VAN SUSTEREN: It could be 18 or 20 anonymous sources. I`m always a little suspicious. Do you have any information?

SCHLAPP: I will tell you this, I worked in the White House for a full term and there is allegation infighting, everyone is always trying to get the favor of the president. The only difference with this White House is we seem to read about it a lot. And let`s face it Donald Trump wasn`t a politician. He didn`t have an established ideology and he hired a bunch of people who are Democrats. And, so, it`s an interesting world in there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Curt, you know Steve Bannon because you worked over at Breitbart. I know you had a little falling out with Breitbart. Put that on the table. What are your thoughts on this?

KURT BARDELLA, MEDIA CONSULTANT FOR BREITBART NEWS: It`s a kind of what happens when you give a bully a title at the White House and a very senior title. The style Steve ran Breitbart very much dictatorial. It doesn`t work when you apply it to adults. Its one thing when you have a bunch of 20 something and you can bark at them and demean them and yell at them all hours of the night. It`s another thing when you start doing it with members of congress, senior White House staff to try to move an agenda forward. What you`re seeing is the fall out of that. That style doesn`t work.

VAN SUSTEREN: To defend Bannon, he came into the White House with a very strong passion and ideology, basically making America great again which is what the president ran on. So, that was sort of what the president was even elected on. He seems to be digging his heels in it seems from the outside and it`s the other people who come in who may disagree with him.

SCHLAPP: That is right. Look, I never worked at Breitbart but I know Steve very well, I`ve would closely with him. I haven`t seen this side of him. I know he is a passionate person. I think he views himself inside the White House as someone who is the keeper of the spirit of the campaign. And I think the vice-president views himself as that role as well. And for a lot of us who supported Donald Trump, we`re glad there are people doing that inside.

VAN SUSTEREN: But what happens when President Trump sort of backs off a little bit on his commitments on NAFTA, or he backs off on some of his commitments even about China, because he is meeting with the president of China. What happens then?

BARDELLA: I think you`re already seeing the groundwork. When you look at what Breitbart has been reporting the last day or two, they`ve done four or five stories attacking Jared Kushner. Steve is already setting up where the blame is going to fall.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you suggesting those are coming from Steve Bannon?

BARDELLA: Absolutely. There is no line of separation -- there is no line of separation between Breitbart and the Steve Bannon White House, when you look at Julia Hahn who works at the Breitbart now there at the White House.

VAN SUSTEREN: This is the nature of D.C. we have this revolving door. I`ve worked at three networks. Some say I couldn`t hold a job. But I mean people are coming and going --

BARDELLA: This is a conspiracy theory. A lot of people at Breitbart assume when Steve leaves the White House at some point he is going to go right back there and be working --

VAN SUSTEREN: I`ll let you respond to that because I don`t have a dog in this fight.

SCHLAPP: Nothing wrong with that. One of the things I hear about Steve, concluding from Breitbart people, they can`t get him on the phone because at this White House it seems like all the action and energy is around the president. They`re always around the president. I think the president likes having them around. That is another aspect of this White House. But no, I think --

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think he is running Breitbart, Bannon?

SCHLAPP: Absolutely not.

BARDELLA: He called matt boil about a story boil publish.

SCHLAPP: I called you before.

BARDELLA: (inaudible) communication.

SCHLAPP: There is communication, but he is not running the organization. That is a stretch.

VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, I`m sure we`ll have a lot of time to talk. We have another three years minus 98 days or so. Anyway --

SCHLAPP: There`s just nothing happening.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nothing happening. Thank you both, gentlemen. And the president of China who I just mentioned just arrived at Mar-a-Lago for a state dinner with President Trump. And it is down to business. How will talks about North Korea go?


VAN SUSTEREN: Moments ago President Trump and the first lady greeting the president of China and his wife at Mar-a-Lago. They will have dinner tonight and it is their first meeting since President Trump took office and since his harsh rhetoric during the campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, THE 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why are you doing state dinners for them? They`re ripping us left and right. Just take them to McDonald`s and go back to negotiating the negotiating table. I win against China. You can win against China if you`re smart.

We can`t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that is what they`re doing. It`s the greatest theft in the history of world.

They`re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China.

China`s upset because of the way Donald Trump is talking about trade with China. They`re ripping us off, folks. It`s time. I`m so happy they`re upset.


VAN SUSTEREN: The two presidents who have to put it all aside, that history aside, to tackle issues like trade and the North Korean nuclear test. Christopher Hill is a former Ambassador of South Korea. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: I guess once they get over sort of the past, the history, they`ve got some important things to talk about. If you were advising President Trump tonight, just on the issue of North Korea, going into that meeting with the president of China, what would you tell him?

HILL: Well, first of all, I`d tell him that he really needs to focus on North Korea and really go into that in depth. He needs to have a situation where, first of all, where the Chinese come out, they come out with a sense of being with us on this. And what he doesn`t need to hear from the Chinese is somehow we both supported denuclearizing the Korean peninsula by peaceful means. He needs the Chinese to come out and say that he understands where the U.S. is on this and the gravity of the situation. We can`t have the Chinese just fall back on two decades-old formulations about peaceful denuclearization.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ok. Well, as I understand it, North Korea is very dependent on China for money, and if China -- let`s say China went totally our way and sanctions, cut North Korea off from money. I see North Korea as just digging its heels in, more people starving, and I don`t see the leadership changing. I don`t see their weapons program changing. I don`t see anything else at all there. I mean what can they do?

HILL: Well, you got it. I mean the sanctions, I`m all in favor of the sanctions, but they will not work on the timeline that the North Koreans are currently on for deliverable nuclear weapon. So having the Chinese tighten up on access to their financial system, access to -- or the sale of raw materials, that is probably not going to do the trick. So the Chinese will want to show some sense of urgency because they understand this is emerging as probably the number-one security problem in the U.S. So they`ll have to say, look, we understand the urgency of this. But I don`t think we can expect the Chinese to come out and say, gee, we`ve just been convinced of everything President Trump has had to say. I think they`ll like to talk about a tone and a tempo of cooperation with the United States without falling into old lines. And I think what is really going to be necessary is we are going to have to look at all kinds of things whether it`s cyber attacks, whatever, and we need to make clear that the Chinese that these things have to work. We cannot just allow this to go on and on and say, well, we gave the junior college try here, and this is what we got. So got to really work very hard, and we need the Chinese to understand the sense of gravity and urgency of this.

VAN SUSTEREN: And of course adding into the mix something that we don`t have time to talk about is the fact there`s been a change of leadership in South Korea, which is maybe a softer view of South Korea vis-a-vis North Korea, but that changes the dynamics a tad bit. Ambassador, hope you`ll come back.

HILL: Ok, my pleasure, thank you very much.

VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up, why does President Trump not talk about Russia? You`ll hear what United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has to say about that next.


VAN SUSTEREN: I have something to say for the record. Last night I interviewed U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley before a huge crowd, 2,500 people at Lincoln center in New York, and we had a long, wide-ranging conversation about many important topics. One of the questions I asked her was why we had not heard much from President Trump about Russia. Here`s what Ambassador Haley said.


NIKKI HALEY, U.N. AMBASSADOR: I have had conversations with the president where he very much sees Russia as a problem, and I think if you look at his actions, you know, everybody wants to hear his words. But look at his actions. The two things that Russia doesn`t want to see the U.S. Do is strengthen their military and expand energy, and the president has done both of those.


VAN SUSTEREN: And while we are on the topic of my interview with Ambassador Haley, I want to correct the record. There were several hecklers, and I thought they were obnoxious. But today I`ve seen more than one criticism of Ambassador Nikki Haley, accusing her of refusing to answer a question about refugees from a heckler. That is so unfair to her. First, here`s last night.


VAN SUSTEREN: How do you rationalize dealing with some of these people who are dictators?

HALEY: Again, you call them out when they do something wrong, and you work with them when you can find ways to work with them.

VAN SUSTEREN: I would find that frustrating.

HALEY: We have to express America`s values. We are always the moral conscience of the world. So our focus is to make sure that --

VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, moving right along.


VAN SUSTEREN: Yes. I said moving right along, and do you know why may random off the cuff remark like that? Because I had no idea what that heckler said from up on the stage. With all the ambient noise in the auditorium, I could not understand him or her. I could only tell that someone was being extremely rude, yelling something. And if I could not understand what was being yelled, neither could Ambassador Haley. She is one foot from me. And one other thing, to those who heckled Ambassador Haley, you should be embarrassed. She wasn`t a prop. She was there discussing important issues, Syria, chemical weapons, South Sudan, North Korea, and much more. And I`m not suggesting you agree with the Ambassador or anyone else, but I know hecklers have never solved world problems. To solve problems, you have to do something. Roll up your sleeves and work and I`d love to ask each heckler, what are you doing to help, anything? I admire those who at least try, not those who simply yell from the sidelines and think they know it all. P.S., Ambassador Haley was there to answer my questions, not the hecklers. Thank you for watching. I`ll see you back here tomorrow night at 6:p.m. Eastern. If you can`t watch it live, set your DVR and follow me on twitter @Greta. Check out my Facebook page for behind the scenes videos and so much more. Also follow me on Instagram. Social media is really fun because it gives you a whole background on our show. "Hardball" with Chris Matthews starts right now.


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