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For the Record with Greta, Transcript 4/28/2017

Guests: Oren Dorell, Gordon Chang, Joe Crowley, Howard Dean, Evan McMullin

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  Actually, you never know who else`s doppelganger we have got behind the scenes.  We will be back on Monday with MTP Daily.  Don`t forget to catch meet the press this Sunday, one on one, Mike Pence and everybody.  For the record with Greta starts right now.  Greta will not miss meet the press.  She promises me. 

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, MSNBC HOST:  I promise.  Especially with Vice-President Pence, it`s going to be a great interview.  I`m dying to see that. 

TODD:  Thank you. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Anyway, have a great weekend, Chuck.  We have breaking news.  Moments ago, North Korea doing it again, launching yet another ballistic missile just north of Pyongyang, officials say the missile exploded soon after launch.  It is the 9th missile launched since President Trump took office.  This comes just hours after North Korea broadcasting a new propaganda video, intended to be provocative, massive artillery exercises and this, after the stern warning from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. 


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE:  It is likely a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the U.S. main land.  The more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it.  We must increase North Korea`s financial isolation, diplomatic and financial levers of power will be backed up by willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Now, we have correspondents covering this breaking new story all across the globe.  NBC`s Kelly Cobiella is live in Seoul, South Korea.  Kelly? 

KELLY COBIELLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Greta, we first got word of this about half an hour ago, North Korea launching a missile from the southwestern part of the country.  We understand from U.S. officials that it was unsuccessful, that it exploded shortly after launch.  They say it was a short-range missile, so, for example, a missile able to reach Seoul, but not able to reach Japan.  One senior official saying the excitement level at the White House is low, that they were expecting this.  They were watching it.  And they are not particularly surprised.  But this is the second launch within two weeks, essentially, the last launch also failing shortly after -- moments after the missile was launched, so, North Korea clearly here acting out after the very strong statements by President Trump on Thursday.  Expecting a major, major conflict, they`re saying a major conflict was possible here and then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson`s activity at the United Nations yesterday trying to push for tougher sanctions, really put the pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear program.  So, again, just to recap there, Greta, we understand from senior U.S. officials, this was a short-range missile.  The launch was attempted about half an hour ago from the southwest part of the country.  It exploded shortly after launch, according to the South Koreans, exploded in mid-air and the White House saying not really surprised by this.  Greta? 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, Kelly, it`s easy for the White House and the United States to not be too unnerved by this.  Short range puts you right in range.  It puts 11 to 13 million people in South Korea at range if this were successful.  How are the people of South Korea taking it?  Realizing just waking up to this news, but I imagine they feel a lot different than we do here in the United States. 

COBIELLA:  Well, this is yet another in a long series of test launches, as you mentioned at the top of the show here.  This is something that happens with relative frequency in this region.  South Koreans are aware this kind of thing happens.  That is why the South Korean military is often watching it.  I have to say, Greta, I`ve been here for a couple of weeks now, and the feeling here is really not one necessarily of nervousness among the general population.  Of course you have a different perspective, slightly different perspective when it comes to the governments.  The South Koreans are constantly keeping an eye on this.  They`re watching for moves from Kim Jong-un and North Korea, understanding that he is unpredictable, that he has been threatening this 6th nuclear test.  But that nuclear test or tests of an inter-continental ballistic missile which has not yet happened, those are really the two very concerning items that the South Koreans and the world really are watching.  In terms of a short-range missile test, this is, yes, a concern here in South Korea, but less of one than, say, a nuclear test or an ICBM test, Greta. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Kelly, thank you.  Now let`s go to NBC`s Hans Nichols, our correspondent at the Pentagon.  Hans, sooner or later if North Korea is going to get this right, this is a short-range, apparently blew up right after it took off.  Sooner or later short range will get Seoul, South Korea, maybe the people aren`t disturbed because they`re used to it.  This is risky. 

HANS NICHOLS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it is risky.  The question, Greta, is whether or not they have the technology to marry their nuclear capabilities with their ballistic capabilities.  And you get different views in here whether or not they`ve miniaturized a nuclear war head.  It doesn`t look like a consensus of the intelligence community that they have miniaturized.  There is an open question on that.  For things to look for in the next two, three, even 24 hours you`ll likely get statements out of various commands, something like pacific commands, nor a.  They`ll likely say these tests were not success.  Speaking to an official here saying the missile did not leave North Korean territory.  I think we need to look at what the overall strategic response is.  And we`ve seen muted, almost one, two-line statements either out of the defense department or the state department basically saying the time for talk is over.  So, I would be on the lookout for the brevity of the statement tonight, whether it comes from the department of defense or department of state.  Wouldn`t expect anything necessarily from the White House that hasn`t been their protocol to weigh in every time and then after that I would look for what the statement doesn`t say.  And we heard a lot from Secretary Tillerson overnight talking about the need for one on one talks.  So, that is what I`ll be looking for here in the coming moments.  It looks pretty clear and the South Koreans are saying it wasn`t a threat. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right.  What is the status on the THAAD missile defense in South Korea?  I realize it wouldn`t be a defense to the artillery they have on the border.  What is the status of the THAAD missile defense? 

NICHOLS:  It will be operational in just a few days.  We heard that in testimony from Admiral Harris just a few days it will be initially operational.  Now, they still have a long way to go to have a complete umbrella, but it will be initially operational in just a few days. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Of course, China is not happy about the THAAD missile defense in South Korea which is a whole another dynamic.  Hans, thank you. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell is at the White House.  Kelly? 

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL:  Well, Greta, as we heard from our other colleagues, no real statement from the White House yet.  I can tell you the president returned to the south lawn on marine one about 15 minutes ago.  There was a group of reporters and photographers waiting for him there to capture his return after a day in Atlanta.  He did not respond to questions about North Korea.  We`ve been advised by White House officials that there could be a statement coming from the White House.  At the same time, as Hans was pointing out, we`ve seen recently in other instances involving North Korea, the statement from the U.S. Government has not necessarily come from the White House, but instead most recently through the department of defense.  Part of that was intentional to try to sort of de-escalate the direct President Trump to President Kim Jong-un connection, to put less attention on what North Korea is doing by not giving it the sort of letterhead of the White House in framing a statement from the U.S. Government.  So, at this point we will wait to see if there are any additional comments from U.S. officials, the president is back home.  We watched him go into the residence and then make the walk around the colonnade toward the oval office.  We now wait for an official word. 

With his interview with Reuters, marking the 100th day, this is the 99th day.  He did talk of a major concern about a conflict with North Korea.  So, these kinds of provocations are a continuing agitation on the world stage as the U.S. is bracing for how to deal with North Korea.  The president most notably has been talking about his new friendship with President Xi of China, trying to get China`s influence, their ability to really exert leverage on North Korea to back down.  The great concern, of course, is as the capability of North Korea expands, could they have a delivery system for a nuclear weapon that could at some point over the next few years reach the west coast of the United States and the much more immediate concern affects our allies in the region and of course the 30,000 American troops stationed in that part of the world.  So, it is a grave concern.  It is something that the Trump administration is grappling with.  The question tonight will there be much of a statement or a much muted response, if any at all, officially from here at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue after this has occurred.  So, the president, we presume, is getting briefed and we will see if there is any further comment from the White House.  Greta? 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Thank you, Kelly.  Gordon Chang is an Asia expert of nuclear showdown.  North Korea takes on the world.  And Oren Dorell A foreign affairs reporter for USA today, Oren, first to you, the deputy U.N. Ambassador said today that U.S. efforts to get rid of his country`s nuclear weapons through military threats and sanctions are a wild dream, according to reporting by the A.P.  He wills going on to say nuclear weapons are not part of deals and continues in a nutshell DPR meaning North Korea had already declared not to attend any talks to discuss nuclear abandonment, your thoughts? 

OREN DORELL, USA TODAY:  Well, the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today also said that he -- the United States would not be interested in joining North Korea in talks until North Korea takes steps to cut back on its nuclear missile program.  So, it seems like at this point they`re at an impasse.  But the -- at the United Nations we heard the Secretary of State, talk about increasing pressure, and maximum economic pressure on North Korea.  And frankly, I think that the North Koreans are vulnerable if the United States falls through on its threats.  They want the Chinese to cut back on -- to fully implement the U.N. Security council resolutions that impose sanctions on North Korea.  They are saying that these sanctions are not being fully implemented.  And if they -- if the Chinese don`t, then there`s all kinds of things the Americans can do. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Gordon, people seem to think that China is going to want to jump in and help us, but haven`t done it so far.  I mean, it`s been a weak response in North Korea.  And people think if we tighten up the sanctions on North Korea, that because they are already so impoverished, the fact they will starve to death and won`t have anything to eat, that that makes a difference.  Thinking that Kim Jong-un cares about his people or even I think ignoring the fact that many people from North Korea I think would find it quite noble to stand up to the great United States and even starve to death.  I don`t think -- I think we`re hoping China is going to save us.  I don`t see it.  Do you? 

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR OF NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN:  Well, I don`t see it right now.  I mean, President Trump is trying to cultivate the Chinese with very friendly words today and in the past.  But the question is what happens when Beijing doesn`t help us?  And Secretary Tillerson in his comments at the security council today reiterated something that administration officials have been saying now for the last four or five weeks, and that is that the United States is prepared to impose secondary sanctions on countries like China.  And this could clearly be Chinese banks that have been involved in North Korea`s commerce.  This is going to change the dynamic of the relationship with Beijing across all the fronts.  It will affect South China Sea, Taiwan, predatory trade practices, you name it.  So, I see the crisis in north Asia getting much worse as Beijing does not come to the table. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right.  When we talk about the sanctions and having secondary sanctions and having the banks and China, everybody does business with North Korea, does that not have an impact even on commerce here in the United States?  Because so many people in the United States do business with China. 

CHANG:  Well, it certainly will have an impact on commerce with China, because the Chinese will retaliate and they probably will go after U.S. companies doing business in China.  But we actually hold the upper hand, because we don`t have an economy that is geared to selling things to China, whereas China has an economy geared to selling things to the United States.  We ran a $347 billion trade deficit with China last year, and that really gives us the upper hand.  Trump doesn`t want to use it, understandable, but nonetheless, if you believe that the North Koreans pose an essential threat to the U.S., we will do whatever is possible including sanctioning Chinese banks and enterprises. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Oren, I would bet my right arm tonight or this morning in Pyongyang that they are celebrating even this failed launch, that the guy who just got executed for the failed launch.  But I bet they are celebrating that at the propaganda, it shows the prowess of the DPRK.  We`re cowering.  It`s a great way for North Korea to be pedaled there. 

DORELL:  I`m sure they are celebrating the fact we`re talking about it for sure.  Their propaganda is reaching the American audience because their goal is to scare people here and to prevent or deter what`s coming, which I think is a pretty well-developed sanctions campaign by this administration.  There are these -- the North Koreans in their recent parade April 15th, they portrayed all these trucks.  They were built by a Chinese joint venture.  The missile company had to be involved in the design of the trucks.  That company is likely probably you know, likely to face American sanctions in the near future.  There are -- there was a report recently that showed that the North Koreans are producing lithium 6 which together with mercury, which they`re also producing, is a substance that is used to make hydrogen bombs and nuclear weapons.  Again, that technology was transferred from China.  So, the companies and the people who were involved in transferring that technology are likely to face U.S. sanctions. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Gordon, I fear that we oftentimes look at North Korea through our own eyes.  Why wouldn`t they just give up the nuclear weapons?  They can join the rest of the world.  This would be great.  They would love it, that kind of thing.  But that this nation is really hermetically sealed from the world.  They spend so much time celebrating their greatness and celebrating our wickedness.  And I just don`t know -- I cannot see how we possibly get to the people of North Korea when they idolize seemingly falsely Kim Jong-un and his father and grandfather.  How do we get to them? 

CHANG:  We get to them through aid programs, having American aid workers running around North Korea. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But you can`t -- even that is hard.  Aid, you have to go through the state department with existing sanctions.  NGO`s had a difficult time, because we`re trying to starve them out, even aid programs.  This is not like so many other nations where we can get in there and say, look, we`re so generous, we`re trying to help. 

CHANG:  Sure.  And we can also take U.S. beef steaks and circulate them through North Korean society.  There are all sorts of things we can do if we decide that regime change is on the table.  Secretary Tillerson today said that it is not.  The one thing about this missile launch, Greta, which I think is significant, even though it failed, even though it was only an intermediate range missile, is essentially the North Koreans are extremely defiant.  They shot this off while Secretary Tillerson was talking at the U.N.  That is an indication of what they think of the United States and by implication what they think of our efforts with regard to Beijing.  So, this shows their mentality right now, and that mentality is to fight us through all of these stages.  This is going to be a very difficult campaign for the Trump administration. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I should say that they are watching us very closely.  They`re watching Tillerson.  They gave me a hard time about something written in the "the New York times" when I was there, which I had nothing to do with which was sort of something random.  They are watching us like a hawk.  Anyway, gentlemen, thank you both. 

CHANG:  Thank you. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  President Trump sounding and looking a lot like candidate Trump at the NRA meeting in Georgia.  Boasting attack and making promises.  But on the eve of the 100th day are voters losing patients with those promises? 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  What fun that was, November 8.  Was that a great evening?  You remember that evening? 




VAN SUSTEREN:  Also at the state department trying too big foot even censor the ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley.  Her tough talk may have put her at odds with her boss, Secretary Tillerson and the Attorney General standing by the presence attack on the judiciary.  We`ll talk about Harvard law school professor Alan Dershowitz, all of that.  Plus you do not want to miss this.  Michael Flynn`s former number 2 is here.  He is outraged.  He will tell you why. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Ok.  Are you kidding me?  President Trump just learning the job is hard?  Yeah, that is what the president just said. 


TRUMP:  I loved my previous life.  I loved my previous life.  I had so many things going.  I actually -- this is more work than in my previous life.  I thought it would be easier.  I thought it was more of a -- I`m a details oriented person.  I think you would say that, but I do miss my old life. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, duh.  Of course, the president is tough.  Did he think it would be easy? 


TRUMP:  Somebody said why are you doing it?  And I say because, seriously, we`re going to make America great again.  It`s going to be easy.  It`s going to be easy.  It`s so -- it`s going to be easy. 



That is why I`m doing it. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Easy.  Well, he now says he got that one wrong.  But I give the president credit for being transparent candidate, letting us inside his head telling us his thoughts.  This afternoon the old President Trump came back. 


TRUMP:  A false standard, 100 days, but I have to tell you, anybody has done what we`ve been able to do in 100 days.


VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, that is just not so.  He has had some major accomplishments like Justice Gorsuch.  He has had zero legislative wins.  He did not deliver on any of his big campaign trail legislative promises.  And why is he even comparing himself to other presidents?  Why is being president now a contest?  Well, the media does that, too, making it a contest, a game.  But being president is not a contest, it`s about governing.  Moving the country forward and protecting us from those who want to hurt us.  And no matter how many things President Trump promised and bragged about on the campaign trail, that remain unfulfilled today, and there are many unfulfilled promises, President Trump is not the least bit worried because make no mistake about it, President Trump still has his base and they were really fired up today in Georgia at the NRA convention. 


TRUMP:  Time to get tough.  It`s time we finally got smart.  And, yes, it`s also time to put America first. 



We need a wall. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Build the wall!

TRUMP:   We`ll build the wall.  Don`t even think about it.  Don`t even think about it.  Don`t even think about it.  That is an easy one.  We`re going to build the wall. 

Let me make a simple promise to every one of the freedom-loving Americans in the audience today.  As your president, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms, never, ever. 



I can proudly say I will never, ever let you down.  Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless our constitution. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  As we near the 100 day mark, that is tomorrow, do any of his supporters feel let down, maybe, maybe not. 


TRUMP:  I will repeal and replace Obamacare. 

My first day in office, I`m going to ask congress to put a bill on my desk getting rid of this disastrous law. 

I`m disappointed that it doesn`t go quicker. 

On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall. 

Mexico will pay for the wall. 

I`m going to start building.  Mexico in some form -- and there are many different forms -- will reimburse us and they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall. 

NATO is obsolete.  It`s old.  It`s fat.  It`s sloppy.  And we`re giving countries a free run --

I said it was obsolete.  It`s no longer obsolete. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  With me New York congressman House Democratic caucus, Chairman Joe Crowley, former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, and 2016 presidential candidate for independent party Evan McMullin.  Evan, first to you, look, and 100 days is constructing.  And if he does get health care or tax reform pass the, no one will remember if he got it done in the first 100 days or not.  It`s far it`s fair to say it`s not as easy as he thought it was and he admits it. 

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  No, I think that is true.  He does admit by his own admission, this is harder than he thought it would be.  I think he is in over his head.  But I think his supporters priced that into the experience to a degree and that is why you don`t see his support base shrinking too far.  I mean, it`s already relatively small.  It certainly hasn`t expanded.  That is a problem.  But I think people who sent Donald Trump to Washington, they are looking for disruption in Washington, and they are still willing to let him figure it out.  How long that is going to last, I don`t know.  But they`re still with him. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Governor has the president -- he still has his base.  What do you make of that? 

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN:  I think Evan is exactly right.  I think his base is hard core.  They really -- they sort of expected him not to be truthful.  They sort of knew that.  It`s baked in.  But his base is not that big.  He has 38 percent favorability.  You can peel a little more off of that.  Don`t forget Richard Nixon had a 29 percent positivity rating on the day he resigned in disgrace.  President Trump is 9 points away from that.  I think, you know, I think he is in over his head, I agree, Evan`s right. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Congressman, obviously you`re a Democrat, opposing Party.  Tell me what has President Trump did that you think is recently good, what are you critical of at this point? 

JOE CROWLEY, DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIR:  I think he may have come into new adage.  If you don`t succeed in your first 100 days, double down on your rhetoric.  I don`t think that is a good thing to do quite frankly right now.  It`s very difficult for me to give an honest assessment of what he is done in a positive way.  I guess we haven`t gone to war.  That is probably a good thing, you know.  It really has been a disappointing first 100 days.  I think people feel very stressed, the attack on women, women`s rights, on the environment.  We`ve seen marches by women, by immigrants, by scientists, by environmentalists.  It`s really hard for me to stretch to find anything positive in the first 100 days. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Governor, you know, it`s interesting.  I called the president transparent.  His twitter, he goes directly to the American people or to his 25, 50 million people following.  He also gives a lot of interviews.  He says things off the top of his head, like well the job was a lot harder than I thought it was.  It`s sort of interesting that he certainly is bringing us inside his head a lot. 

DEAN:  Well, except that most of the stuff he says on twitter is totally untrue.  I think his followers know it.  You know, I just read a story in the Manchester guardian pretty much hot off the press, it says the British intelligence agencies have documentation of him -- his campaign people going over and meeting with Russian agents and arranging payment for doing certain things to help the Russians hack, to pay for the hackers.  I don`t know if that is true, but the guardian is a pretty reputable paper.  If that turns out to be true, his presidency is over.  Whether he gets impeached or not is immaterial.  He`ll have no credibility on the world stage or at home.  So, there`s a lot of stuff going on here that is a big deal.  He is in hot water every day.  And he is lasted a lot longer than I thought he was going to be.  I thought he`d be gone after the first two or three primaries.  I have no track record on prediction, but the water gets hotter and hotter every day for this guy. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Evan, do you think he likes the job?  I know he says it`s harder.  He misses his old life.  It`s pretty early for buyers` remorse if you miss your old life. 

MCMULLIN:  Yeah, but I can sympathize to a small degree having a life that changes very quickly.  Not in that scope, of course.  But I believe that he probably does miss his former life, where he had all the -- he had many trappings of wealth and privilege without half the responsibility.  He is got the weight of the world on his shoulders.  He is got an FBI investigation into his campaign.  He is trying to keep quiet and hidden his vast financial and undisclosed financial relationships around the world.  It`s no cake walk. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  It`s interesting, congressman, the way I think he looks at the presidency, my observation, is through a business construct.  He thinks he is running a big corporation which is a little bit different than what we`ve been accustomed to the last 200 plus years. 

CROWLEY:  I don`t think there is any question.  Very complicated, some 500 entities from which he derives income from.  That also brings us obviously to, you know, a proposal does not an accomplishment make in terms of the tax proposal he has put out.  We know it is quite possible that he will benefit enormously from that type of tax proposal.  Greta, I won`t ever have this problem in terms of my hair changing color.  But you`ll see that over and over again with presidents, the first four years, second four years, they age very quickly.  That is because there is an enormous amount of stress that comes with that job.  All of our jobs, but particularly the presidency of the United States, he shouldn`t be that shocked. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Governor, it certainly seems we`re doing a lot of saber rattling with a very dangerous country, North Korea.  Tonight is a report they had a failed launch, nonetheless an attempted launch of a short-range missile.  This is his biggest challenge, frankly other presidents before him, but it`s gotten so bad now. 

DEAN:  Right.  We`re going to have to do something about North Korea.  Here`s what scares me about the president`s foreign policy.  I don`t disagree with some of the things he is done.  I was glad that he made the statement he did about chemical weapons.  The problem is there is no evidence that he has any real game plan.  He does this stuff, maybe it`s good, maybe it`s bad, but there`s no long-term strategy here.  That is what makes me very nervous.  I think many of us sort of who pay attention to foreign policy are relieved that James Mattis is the defense secretary, because we know, even though he may be a little more hawkish than some of us are, we know that he has a plan.  We know that he has vast experience.  Donald Trump has no plan.  I laughed in the beginning at the quote when he said I`m a guy who pays attention to details.  He doesn`t know the details of any of this stuff, and it appears often not to care.  So, I`m very worried about North Korea.  Not because we don`t have to do something about it, because we do, but because I don`t know what his plan is.  And I don`t think he knows what his plan is.  And that can get you in a lot of trouble. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Evan, a lot of the plans from the past presidents is to keep everybody at the table talking.  The problem with North Korea in the table, they`ve had five nuclear tests already, another one is coming.  We may get them to the table talking but they`re still going forward. 

MCMULLIN:  Absolutely.  We`ve taken approach.  Both parties have taken an approach over the last few decades that have not yielded a positive outcome with North Korea.  Look, I appreciate a stronger stance with North Korea.  I think it sends the right message to China.  China is the key in all of this to a peaceful resolution.  I liked a lot of what Tillerson said today, taking the pressure off China and North Korea, at least attempting to with regard to unification of the Korean peninsula and the goal of not having the goal of regime change, these kinds of things.  I think they`re making a lot of the right moves.  Of course, then I get a little nervous when President Trump seemingly on a whim says we may be headed for a major, major conflict.  That is the kind of statement that has to be very carefully calculated and I`m not sure it was. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And, of course, they`re watching and listening.  Anyway, gentlemen, thank you all.  Up next Mike Flynn`s former top deputy is here to tell you, what went through his mind when he found out Russia paid Flynn.  And as U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley being big footed maybe with censored by his boss, would she be too tough or too honest with the folks back in Washington? 


VAN SUSTEREN:  President Trump feels badly for his fired now former national security advisor Michael Flynn.  The president saying today, I do feel badly for him.  He served the country.  He was a general.  President Trump also blaming former President Obama for not vetting General Flynn, and today Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying he will recuse himself from any investigations involving Flynn. 


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I would expect not to be involved in this one. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You would recuse yourself from any decision dealing with General Flynn? 

SESSIONS:  Yeah.  And I really don`t know whether there is an investigation or should be, and we don`t confirm investigations, you know, in the Department of Justice. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  So, will Flynn face criminal charges?  And should he have known he could get into trouble?  Flynn`s former top deputy saying he is apoplectic when he learned about the Russian news organization payments and would have opened an investigation immediately.  And that former top deputy to Michael Flynn Douglas Wise joins me.  Good evening, sir. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  So, tell me, you found out that General Flynn had gotten a payment and you thought what? 

WISE:  As you quoted, I was very apoplectic and quite frankly disappointed.  I would have thought somebody with his wealth of experience and his seniority would have known better than to take money from an adversarial nation, particular an adversarial nation so adept at misinformation and propaganda information, he had to have known that the Russians expected something in return. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Why do you think he did that?  He left his last job, he was essentially fired from his last job as reported, and it wasn`t that -- because he was hard to get along with.  I don`t know if you found that to be -- why was he so bold or so brash to take this money from Russia?  He had to know the requirements -- he was required to notify and get permission to get paid. 

WISE:  Well, I mean, to correct the record, I was in DIA the last month and a half for Flynn`s tenure.  So, my role in this was to deal with the aftermath.  David Chads was the deputy for most of the time.  To your question as to why he would do this, I think that is a big mystery, because, again, based on everything that he was trained, developed, all the experience he had, the seniority, there`s no real explanation other than he thought he was above the requirement (inaudible) obligations that were imposed upon him by his service in the intelligence community.  And perhaps just the fact that rule didn`t apply to him.  That is the only thing I can think of. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Do you have any doubt whether or not he knew about the rule, whether he could have been mistaken? 

WISE:  You know you`d have to certainly ask Mike Flynn that.  But when you leave the government service at a senior level, the first thing you have to do, not required, but it is in your best interest, to get an opinion -- it`s not a ruling, it`s an opinion by the office of general counsel.  If he would have gotten one of those from DIA just as I got one from DIA when I left DIA even though I retired from CIA after leaving DIA.  In that OGC opinion, it is very clear about what you`re allowed to do, what you`re not allowed to do, and what the pre-approval requirements for flag officers and general officers are, and where the emolument clause plays a role and highlights the fact that it`s a criminal statute. 

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

WISE:  Yes, ma`am.  Thank you. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Turning now to the Trump administration`s attacks on the judiciary, Attorney General Jeff Sessions today defending the president for attacking federal judges. 


SESSIONS:  It`s right for the president as he is done historically over the century, to express opinions about judicial opinions.  They have a lifetime appointment.  Their pay can`t be cut, and their decisions can be commented on.  And the one that he criticized I think was wrong.  The greatest threat to the independence of the judiciary is if judges become more political.  People cease to believe their deciding opinions based on law and fact --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That is what you believe about the 9th circuit judges? 

SESSIONS:  I`m worried about it. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  President Trump also threatening to break up the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit, just the latest shot in a battle against the courts.  Alan Dershowitz is a Constitutional Law Scholar professor in Harvard Law School.  His books include taking the stand, my life in the law.  Nice to see you, Alan and do you think that the president is battling or taking on the judiciary, he is at war with the judiciary at least some? 

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, LAW PROFESSOR AND AUTHOR OF "ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION":  I think it`s a good thing for presidents to criticize the judiciary when the judiciary oversteps their bounds.  Thomas Jefferson did it, Abraham Lincoln did it.  Frank Roosevelt did it.  Barack Obama did it.  I certainly do it all the time.  I call it supreme injustice which I take on the justices by name, for Bush versus Gore.  Where I think President Trump goes wrong is that he does it on the wrong grounds.  He identified the ethnic background of a judge.  He talked about a so-called judge.  He ought to depersonalize it.  Criticizing the judiciary for wrongheaded decisions is the greatest tradition of the country.  I think there are some judges who think that their job is to serve as a check and balance against the policies of the Trump administration rather than against any unconstitutional actions.  And that would be a mistake by the judiciary. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And, of course, he also referred to the judge, the judge who ruled against him as an unelected judge, which of course is a federal judge appointed by the president, probably President Obama, as a requirement of the constitution.  But then you have President Obama who I think made the crack about citizens united at a state of the union with the Supreme Court sitting there.  So I guess it is not so uncommon.  I guess we now read about it on twitter so it`s not in the barroom that you lost the case and you`re talking to your partner.  It`s on twitter. 

DERSHOWITZ:  Yeah.  But, you know, we have a system of checks and balances and it goes both ways.  We need checks on the judiciary, and the basic check on the judiciary is through the court of public opinion because you can`t overrule Supreme Court decisions as Justice Jackson once said.  We`re final not because we`re right.  We`re only right because we`re final.  But they`re not final.  And the criticism of citizens united may ultimately result in a change.  The criticism of many other decisions over the years has resulted in changes of judicial opinions.  As one person once said, the Supreme Court follows the election return.  So, the Supreme Court is part of our system of checks and balances. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But the checks and balances, like the judge said he called the so-called judge, unelected judge, trial court judge, from there the court of appeals and Supreme Court.  There are a checks and balances. 

DERSHOWITZ:  There is.  Remember Justice Ginsberg took some shots at candidate Trump.  Probably shouldn`t have done it, Trump probably shouldn`t have taken shots at judges.  But the idea that the president is not entitled to criticize the judiciary is a very dangerous one.  Presidents and the executive branch ought to be permit to do that.  We know that Franklin Delano Roosevelt went too far.  By the way, the 9th circuit is too large.  It would be unseemly for the president to push for its dismantling because it would seem vengeful. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right.  The federal court judge, the unelected one, was he right or wrong on the Sanctuary City decision against President Trump? 

DERSHOWITZ:  It was too early.  The president hadn`t done anything, hadn`t taken any money away.  To impose an injunction against a non-action it seems to me was premature.  So, I don`t think that will be upheld by the courts of appeals. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right.  Well, so, that quote unelected judge that the president --

DERSHOWITZ:  He is a very good judge, by the way. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I don`t know him and I`ve had some battles with judges in my life. 

DERSHOWITZ:  Of course. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Anyway, thank you, Alan. 

Ahead, the White House just responding to North Korea`s ballistic missile test.  Also U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley sat right behind Secretary of State Tillerson today.  Why is this news worthy today?  Well, it appears they might not be seeing eye to eye.  The story has us talking.  Stay with us. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, moments ago the White House responding to North Korea`s ballistic missile test just north of Pyongyang.  The White House with a very terse response saying, quote, and the administration is aware of the most recent North Korean missile test.  The president has been briefed.  That is it.  That is all he said.  Now, this is North Korea`s 9th missile launch since President Trump took office.  Coming up, did Ambassador Nikki Haley`s tough talk get her in hot water with her bosses?  Back in Washington the state department trying to reign in our outspoken ambassador to the U.N. That is next. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Is the ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, too blunt for her bosses back here in Washington?  Well, "the New York times" reporting that the state department wants to clear her public statements, her comments, before she speaks.  The state department urging her office to rely on, quote, building blocks, written by the department and saying her comments should be cleared with Washington if they are substantively different.  So far Ambassador Haley has spoken her mind while sometimes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson simply refused to speak. 


NIKKI HALEY, U.N. AMBASSADOR:  It could be that Russia is knowingly allowing chemical weapons to remain in Syria, or it could be that the Assad regime is playing the Russians for fools.  The United States took a very measured step last night.  We are prepared to do more, but we hope that will not be necessary. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Ambassador Haley has sometimes struck a different tone from other officials including the president. 


HALEY:  I have had conversations with the president where he very much sees Russia as a problem. 

We cannot trust Russia.  We should never trust Russia. 

TRUMP:  It would be a fantastic thing if we got along with Putin and if we got along with Russia and that could happen. 

HALEY:  Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad`s not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Longer term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Joining me Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago sun times." Eli Stokols White House Correspondent for Politico and Susan Ferrechio, Chief congressional correspondent for the Washington Examiner, Lynn first to you, are they trying to censor her or get everyone on the same page. 

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  They are trying to do all of the above and I think they do that at their risk, because Nikki Haley bay her speaking out has now found that she has credibility, she has an audience, perhaps even a following, Greta.  I think they try to muzzle her at their own risk. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I don`t think, Eli, they can muzzle her.  Remember when she came out against some things candidate Trump said.  I don`t think they`re going to be muzzling this woman. 

ELI STOKOLS, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER FOR POLITICO:  She is very comfortable doing this, being outspoken, speaking publicly, Rex Tillerson not as much.  I think there`s a sense in the White House that they want Tillerson to get out there a little more.  Jared Kushner for one didn`t like the reports that he was guiding his real policy and Tillerson didn`t know about it.  So they want to sort of push the Secretary of State out there and get him out there a little more.  I think it does make sense for an administration to try to get the people who are leading its diplomacy on the same page.  The problem is even if they stop contradicting each other, you got to worry about Trump contradicting them and contradicting himself. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  They need a consistent front.  They can`t be freelancing, everybody, and come up with his own thoughts on this. 

SUSAN FERRECHIO, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER:  Yeah.  I think the idea there`s a big divide over this is a little overblown.  It`s a logical move to try to -- the way they describe it in the memo to get everybody on board with the same message, especially if you`re talking about Syria and Russia, North Korea, all the big problems in the world.  You want the administration to all be delivering the same message.  You can`t have Nikki Haley saying, we`ve got to get rid of Assad, and Rex Tillerson saying it`s up to the Syrian people. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Don`t you think there`s a leak here?  Shouldn`t that have been a private discussion? 

FERRECHIO:  There have been leaks since the administration took office, and it`s an enormous problem.  It`s people who work for Trump.  It`s people who used to work for Obama.  I think the leaks are one of the biggest problems of the administration.  It`s going to drive people apart. 

SWEET:  May I just add, though, that in the perception game, I think this is something that the state department people ought to be careful of.  It`s one thing if boss Trump wants to contradict or change or get on a different page.  If Tillerson tries to act like he is the boss of Nikki Haley, again, I think he does that at his own risk. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But he is the boss of Nikki Haley.  The pecking order is he is the boss.

  STOKOLS:  And this White House could benefit from having a strong woman`s voice out there leading on something. 

SWEET:  My point is don`t try to make it like, you do what I tell you to do which is a little bit how it came out. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Just because she is a woman, I don`t think we should --

STOKOLS:  That is right.  I just think she is a solid voice. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  You`re making something out of nothing with the whole --

SWEET:  I said when you have somebody who is credible, who seems to know what she is talking about, and who is verbal, compared to a self-muted Secretary of State, you do that at your own risk. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I`m moving to the next topic.  Growing backlash today from Democrats on President Obama`s big payday from Wall Street, getting paid $400,000 to speak at a conference, paid for by a Wall Street firm. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think at a time when people are so frustrated with the power of Wall Street and the big money interests, I think it is unfortunate that President Obama is doing this. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Warren, what do you think about President Obama accepting $400,000 from Wall Street? 

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Well, I was troubled by that. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Eli, Senator Warren says she is troubled.  Senator Sanders says it`s unfortunate.  I think those are actually -- everyone is all thither about this, but I think there`s quite a soft landing for President Obama.  If this had been a Republican, I think they would have used different words than troubled and unfortunate. 

STOKOLS:  I think it gets at some of the divides on the Democratic side between sort of the sanctimonious progressive base that doesn`t want to see any connection to Wall Street and others who say this is a pretty natural thing for a president to do post-presidency.  I don`t think it`s really that big a deal in the context of this news cycle and this administration.  But do people have a right to look at this and scrutinize it?  Sure. 

FERRECHIO:  I think it`s a big deal, especially if the president wants to be still the de facto leader of the party and still be working on, you know, getting people energized as he said he wanted to do.  The very base that he would probably working with, are the ones who really are followers of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who really look down on the connection to the Wall Street banks. 

SWEET:  I don`t think you can ignore the $60 million reported book deal that he and --

STOKOLS:  And he did just say last week at his first public appearance, he was maligning money in politics, right?  So it does diminish his credibility, I think that is right, as he goes out. 

SWEET:  Money and politics as opposed to money in your own pocket.  It`s a little different.  They are very touchy on this on team Obama.  I did a story about Obama`s coming back to Chicago next week for a speech, and no one wanted to tell me a lot.  But what I got through the -- through their ways of communicating is to make sure that I knew that this was not a paid speech.  Ok, Mrs. Obama`s P.R. people will tell you about what she is doing, nod paid.  They won`t tell you paid to give you the whole picture.  So it`s something that they don`t want to talk about, but it`s still part of their lives.  If you`re doing it, just go out and do it. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Don`t you think that President Obama was a little bit sort of dismissive of Secretary of State for her speeches not when she was Secretary of State but her Goldman Sachs?  It`s a little bit -- he was dismissive of her for doing it. 

FERRECHIO:  Hard to resist that money, right?  Hard to resist when it`s offered to you, right? 

SWEET:  It`s just the message is you go one day and talk about these young people, go be a community organizer, go make change.  Then he did make change and there is this pot of gold now for him and Mrs. Obama.  I think - -

VAN SUSTEREN:  A big pot of gold, $60 million for two books.  $400,000 for a speech seems like chump change. 

SWEET:  He is got to calibrate it and decide if he wants to take these hits. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Got to go.  Thank you for watching.  Have a great weekend.  I`ll see you back here Monday night, 6:00 p.m. Eastern.  Check out my Facebook page and follow me on twitter @Greta.  Go to my Instagram account @Greta.  "Hardball" with Chris Matthews starts right now.  See you Monday, 6:00 p.m.