SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Obviously, we`re not going to ignore something like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: That full interview, Joe Scarborough, Mitch McConnell, you can catch it all tomorrow, "MORNING JOE." Don`t miss it.
I`m Steve Kornacki. "MTP DAILY" starts right now.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Tuesday.
Trust, turmoil and President Trump.
Tonight, new questions about who knew what and when. About now former national security advisor Mike Flynn and his talks with the Russians.
Democrats calling for an investigation.
(BEGN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: This is not a Democratic issue. This is not a Republican issue. It`s not an independent issue. This is an American issue, for the soul of our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: While Republicans are in no rush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: It`s not something the Oversight Committee can actually look at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Plus, trust troubles. The White House says the issue is Flynn lying to the vice president. But the real issue runs much deeper, trust in the administration and competence that they can get the job done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The whole environment is one of dysfunction in the Trump administration, as far as national security is concerned.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You cannot have a national security advisor misleading the vice president and others.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: The cover-up could be far worse than what they actually did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington. Welcome to MTP DAILY and welcome to day one of what is arguably the biggest presidential scandal involving a foreign government since Iran contra.
Take a breath, hyperbole aside, folks, hunker down, this is a class five political hurricane that`s hitting Washington.
All this hour, we`re going to dive into every angle of this breaking story as the White House scrambles to contain the fallout.
Today, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that President Trump knew, for weeks, that his national security advisor, Michael Flynn, had misled the vice president and, apparently, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, among other White House officials, about discussions he had with Russia as the Obama administration sanctioned them at the end of calendar year 2016 for interfering in the election.
The warning that Flynn misled the White House first came from the Department of Justice. And the White House says that it quickly escalated from there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, U.S. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Immediately after the Department of Justice notified the White House Council of the situation, the White House Council briefed the president and a small group of the senior advisors. The White House Council reviewed and determined that there is not an illegal issue but rather a trust issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Spicer went on to say that Mr. Trump was briefed on January 26th. But what`s unclear is if the vice president was part of that small group of advisors or was he kept in the dark all the way up until Friday? That`s something we don`t know.
Did Flynn go rogue, by the way, when he spoke to Russia? Well, here`s more from today`s White House briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the president instruct him to talk about sanctions?
SPICER: No, absolutely not. No, no, no. I think the president was -- had no problem with the fact that he acted in accord with what his job was supposed to be doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Now, the White House is painting this as a matter of trust between the president and Flynn and not the matter of potential legal misconduct on the sanctions front.
But it still doesn`t answer a lot of additional questions surround this episode. For instance, we`re still not sure exactly what Flynn told the Russians. He spoke to the Russian ambassador the same day that the Obama administration was expelling 35 Russian diplomats for punishment for election hacking.
Putin`s response surprised the Obama administration because he didn`t respond at all. It`s actually what prompted, apparently, some investigating into phone calls and things like this.
And so, the next day, Mr. Trump ended up praising Putin on Twitter for being smart for not retaliating.
Here are some more questions. Why did the president ask for Flynn`s resignation hours after White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, told us that the president had full confidence in Flynn? Here`s Spicer`s explanation for that one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: I`m not going to get into the specifics of what the president`s thinking was. But I will just say, as I noted in the opening statement, that it was an evolving and eroding process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Then there`s the decidedly mixed reaction from Republicans with some sounding the alarm and others dousing the flames. Senator majority leader, Mitch McConnell, still does not want to have a select committee to investigate what happened. Senator Lindsey Graham wants answers.
House Oversight Chairman, Jason Chaffetz, says the issue will, apparently, work itself out. And Senator John McCain is slamming the entire administration as a dysfunctional mess.
So, where do things stand right now? Reporting team is covering the three big angles of this story. Hallie Jackson is at the White House. Kasie Hunt on Capitol Hill where it`s been a wild day there. And Pete Williams covering the latest inside the Justice Department and the FBI.
But let me begin at the White House where this political storm, in the eye of the storm over there, with Hallie Jackson. And, Hallie, look, it seems to me, at least short term, the biggest thing to clear up is, what did Vice President Pence know and when did he know it? And, at this point, when did he know it?
[17:05:03] HALLIE JACKSON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: So, we have some new reporting on that, Chuck, just in the last couple of minutes, I can share with you because this has been a question that NBC has confirmed via two sources here. That Vice President Pence learned about this warning, from the Justice Department, learned that Mike Flynn had been inconsistent or inaccurate with him, Thursday night.
Just before the media reports about this began to emerge, I am told that vice president then began making inquiries into what exactly had happened. Obviously, you know how this thing unfolded over the next 72 hours.
This leads to another question, of course, which is, why was the vice president who, frankly, was the, sort of, public face of this, right? Going on the television, defending Mike Flynn very publicly.
Why wasn`t he informed 11 days prior when President Trump knew? Particularly given how central the vice president has been to, not just in the administration, but the administration`s outreach, or the White House`s outreach, to places like Capitol Hill and elsewhere?
TODD: No, that does seem to be that that is the explanation as to why they decided to fire Flynn then.
I guess the question is, did Flynn get fired because we, in the media, found out what happened?
JACKSON: So, you saw in the -- there are a couple interesting moments, a lot of interesting moments in the press briefing today from press secretary Sean Spicer, Chuck. But one of them was when Spicer got pretty fired up about the idea of leaks. He was asked about this a couple of times.
It reflected what you heard from President Trump earlier in the day when he tweeted that the real story was actually the illegal leaks. And so, there seemed to be real concern, from Sean Spicer, that these leaks were happening.
The follow-up question that never got asked was the question that you just asked which is if these leaks hadn`t happened and nobody had found out about this, would Mike Flynn still be the national advisor right now?
TODD: And I think that that is a question that still has a lot of people scratching their heads.
Hallie, I will leave it there.
Let`s go across Pennsylvania Avenue. I want to check in on Capitol Hill. Earlier today, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell sat down with MSNBC`s Joe Scarborough in an interview that will air in full tomorrow on "MORNING JOE."
Here`s what McConnell said when asked about calls for a special select independent investigation into this episode.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: As far as an investigation goes in the Senate, obviously, a lot of people are talking about the need for investigations. And Roy Blunt came out and said that there needed to be a strong, vigorous investigation.
MCCONNELL: Yes, that`s happening. That`s happening.
SCARBOROUGH: And you still don`t think there needs to be a select committee?
MCCONNELL: No, I don`t think there needs to be a select committee. We know how to do our work. We have an intelligence committee. Over on the Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham has got a subcommittee that`s going to look at it. I don`t think we need to go through setting up a special committee.
But we are going to look at Russia involvement in the U.S. election. It`s a significant issue. You know, we know they were messing around with it. We don`t think they any had impact on the outcome. But, obviously, we`re not going to ignore something like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Let me go to Kasie Hunt. All right, Kasie, Mitch McConnell, once again, despite calls, and it`s coming, it`s from a minority of Senate Republicans right now and, obviously, almost all of the Senate Democrats.
But Mitch McConnell`s holding strong on this issue, believing that Richard Byrd can handle this in the Intel Committee. And he mentioned the Lindsey Graham subcommittee hearing. What kind of patience do Senate Republicans have for this?
KASIE HUNT, CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, I have to tell you, Chuck, yes, it`s true that he is resisting calls for the independent committee. And that is something that, you know, even today, you heard different language from Chuck Schumer on this. He was more focused on Sessions and the investigation there.
Mitch McConnell did give up a little bit of ground, though, on the scope of that Senate Intelligence Committee investigation. He, later on in a -- telling reporters today that Mike Flynn would be a part of that broad investigation. In blunt saying that it`s likely Flynn will come up and testify.
Of course, it`s going to be behind closed doors in the Senate Intelligence Committee but that this would expand to include that. And he did not give the White House a lot of cover on what has happened over the last 24 hours.
Now, what I will tell you he maintained -- and, you know, you having covered Mitch McConnell for as long as you have, understand he is somebody who is very strategic. He is very private until he wants to be. And he wants control over the situation.
Keeping this investigation in the Senate Intelligence Committee means that he will have a say and the Senate will have a say over what pieces of this investigation eventually become public. And I think that is the real key here.
What Democrats are asking for is for this process and investigation to be done more out in the open. We know that, regardless of the findings right now, they will have the power to keep that behind closed doors, if they so choose.
So, I think that is, like, the key point here for McConnell.
TODD: And I think that`s going to be the sticking point for a lot of people, including the John McCains and Lindsey Grahams of the world, who politically would not like to see this behind closed doors.
Anyway, Kasie Hunt, thanks very much.
Let me bring in our Justice Correspondent Pete Williams. So, Pete, first, I want to get to the FBI investigation. We now have learned that Mike Flynn was investigated -- was interviewed by the FBI.
[17:10:06] PETE WILLIAMS, MSNBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Correct.
TODD: We don`t know -- is he currently under investigation? There`s a lot of sources -- sources say that it could be and it wouldn`t be a surprise if he were, considering that he was among the people that supposedly had a relationship with one part of the Russian government.
What do you know?
WILLIAMS: What they tell us is that the FBI, shortly after Mike Flynn took office as the national security advisor, did interview him about his conversation with the Russian ambassador. They say that he was not under investigation, the Russians were. That this is part of the FBI`s very big, very sprawling investigation of the Russian meddling in the election, including the hacking and other attempts by Russia to influence the voting here, including whatever contact the Russians might have had with people in America to try to get Americans to help them in this effort.
So, that`s why they interviewed him. They wanted to know about his conversation with the Russian ambassador. And they say that -- as a result of this interview, that they don`t believe he faces -- I mean, I`m told by a couple of sources that he doesn`t -- they don`t believe he faces any legal jeopardy.
In other words, one possible problem for him would be if he lied to FBI agents. The people I`ve talked to say they don`t get the impression that that is a problem.
TODD: You said -- you used a description on the FBI`s Russian investigation that I`ve never heard before, that it`s very big and very sprawling.
TODD: Well, that, to me, seems to -- should be a blaring headline. I mean, that`s surprising to me because James Comey doesn`t even confirm that there is an investigation in public.
WILLIAMS: To the Russian -- of the Russian elections? I don`t know whether that`s the case or not.
TODD: Well, he`s very careful on what he confirms. And he doesn`t give off a hint on this.
WILLIAMS: It`s looking at the Russian hacking which they publicly disclosed.
TODD: We know they`re doing that aspect.
WILLIAMS: Right. It`s looking at any other attempts to influence the election. And this is something that, you know, the Russians have been doing this for at least, what, three or four general elections, presidential elections.
So, it`s trying to figure out who in Russia is involved with this. Part of this is the FBI does this with the Russians every day. There`s a -- you know, people have to keep track in their heads that the Russians -- that the FBI has two separate things. They do criminal investigations, yes. But they have a long-running function, keeping their eyes on the Russians, in terms of looking at spying. There`s a whole counterintelligence arm of the FBI that is going after the Russians every day on this.
TODD: And that`s a regular thing. That`s almost, like, you know, work that`s continuously done. It`s not just open ended.
WILLIAMS: It goes back to the Soviet Union.
TODD: it`s an open-ended investigation.
TODD: But you may use that in order to find information about the specific probe.
WILLIAMS: Without question. Yes, that`s what`s going on here.
TODD: Well, let me ask you one quick question before I let you go. Chuck Schumer is calling for Jeff Sessions to recuse himself since he`s attorney general. What would he be -- what would the role of the Justice Department be in anything right now having to do -- or is this all in the FBI?
WILLIAMS: Well, it`s if, at some point, the FBI needed to seek the attorney general`s permission to do something. I can`t think it right off the top of my head what that would be. But if they ever decided to file charges against someone, then that would go to the Justice Department and presumably that would be why the attorney general might be asked to recuse himself.
But it does seem to me that that`s way ahead of things, at this point.
TODD: Anything that would somehow get to his desk, we`re a long way away from that.
WILLIAMS: Oh, without a question.
TODD: All right. Pete Williams, thank you very much.
As Kasie Hunt just mentioned, a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill today were forced, again and again, to answer the same question. Should Mike Flynn`s communication with Russia, itself, be investigated? Here`s a sampling of answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I think there is significant dysfunction in the national security apparatus of the Trump administration. When you see that you don`t know who`s in charge, this Flynn situation. The whole environment is one of dysfunction in the Trump administration, as far as national security is concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should there be a broader independent investigation into the administration`s ties to Russia?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I think that that situation has taken care of itself.
MCCONNELL: I think it`s likely that General Flynn would be, at some point, asked to come and talk to the committee about both post-election activities and any other activities. I think there are a number of unanswered questions that need to be answered.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`d like to know, did he just do this as a rogue General Flynn? That he just decided to call the Russians up one day and say, you know, we`re going to have a different view on sanctions. Don`t worry about it. Or did it come from somebody else in the White House?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Let`s bring in the panel. Cornell Belcher is a Democratic pollster and strategist. Anne Gearan is a national politics correspondent for "The Washington Post" and has covered the State Department in national security for years. And Michael Warren is senior writer for "The Weekly Standard." Welcome to all of you.
Ann Gearan, I want to start with you. It`s a White House under siege. We`ve -- you and I have been around here long enough to see plenty of White Houses under siege. They`re --
[17:15:08] ANNE GEARAN, NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Not quite like this.
TODD: -- in full damage control mode. How are they doing?
GAREN: Well, I think you have Sean Spicer`s briefing today to answer that question. He was swatting flies as fast as he could swat until he could shut the thing down. Interrupted only by his Skype questions, most of which were friendly or off the topic that he didn`t want to talk about.
And he, repeatedly, said a couple of things that I think are going to be the subject of further inquiry investigation, including that there`s no legal problem here whatsoever. That the problem Flynn ran into was one of trust and not of law. I think that very much remains to be seen.
TODD: Yes, Michael, that seems to be -- obviously, that`s what the White House wants. They want this to be a personnel decision because they don`t to want open up the Russia can of worms.
Today, it seems, though, this just did that. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, people that have been chomping at the bit on this topic now feel as if -- OK, you know what? No more Mr. nice guy.
MICHAEL WARREN, SENIOR WRITER, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes. The Senate was always where Republican resistance to Donald Trump, their own president from their own party, was going to originate. But this has probably happened a lot quicker --
WARREN: -- than Mitch McConnell and the Republican senators thought it would.
Look, the fact of the matter is that concerns about Russia, concerns about Trump and his administration`s closeness with Vladimir Putin, their softer views on Russia, they`re different from where the Republican Party is, particularly in the Senate. So, this is where you`re going to see it conflict.
I don`t think they`re relishing getting into this. But this is an issue where, unlike, say, other issues where on, like, trade, immigration, --
WARREN: -- where Trump deviates. This is one place where Senate Republicans want to have this fight.
TODD: And, you know, Cornell, I think the White House`s problem is the Mike Pence situation. It looks like that he was deliberately kept in the dark. And he is the security blanket for all those congressional Republicans.
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER AND STRATEGIST: Right.
TODD: All those congressional Republicans got comfortable with Donald Trump, not because of anything Donald Trump did but because of Mike Pence.
BELCHER: Well, and the political fallout of this -- I mean, you guys are reporters. I`m a political hack, right? But the political fallout is this, I mean, now you have Republicans having to carry this, right? And having to carry this water. And now, the tremendously, already unpopular president, his trust numbers, looking at them now, his trust numbers are going down.
And furthermore, when you have Republicans like Blunt -- I mean, Graham is one thing, but Blunt coming out from saying you`ve got to investigate. I mean, the Russian things make a lot of Republicans, and particularly base Republicans, uncomfortable.
Remember, Republican parties are historically the parties protecting us from the big, scary bear --
TODD: Right. The bad (ph) bear.
BELCHER: -- in the woods. Right, a Reagan reference.
But now, we have a White House that`s cozying up with this. But the other part about this mistrust, I think, Chuck, that`s interesting to me is that the president knew about this for, what, almost two weeks? His national security advisor is having back door -- is having conversations with Russians and lying to the public and lying to the vice president about him.
Can you imagine if this happened under Obama and Obama didn`t immediately fire him? There would be -- you know, the House Republicans would lose their minds.
TODD: Well, I wonder, I mean, do House Republicans have a credibility issue that maybe they need to have their own investigation almost as a hedge?
GEARAN: To clear their own names.
TODD: I mean, just their own name here or at least have this up there if everything goes south on them.
GEARAN: I certainly imagine it`s a conversation they`ll be having. I mean, that, you know, wouldn`t you all rather have something that clears the air here?
I mean, I think, certainly, the White House is working and you see them -- you see the public part of this, but they`re working behind the scenes to try to make sure that this goes away as fast as they can make it go away.
TODD: Obviously, Michael, and they want to make the leak part a big issue. And you`re seeing -- if you look at some of the advocacy media, you`re seeing that some of it is (INAUDIBLE.) And the leaked stuff isn`t insignificant.
TODD: OK. And I think it`s a -- worthy of a separate discussion. But you don`t have leaks if people think things are going well. I mean, so the leak is a -- is certainly problematic but it`s not the main problem.
WARREN: But it`s complex. And, look, you can sort of see this viewpoint in the House rather than the Senate, from intelligence chairman Devin Nunez who, really, came out with a statement last night praising General Flynn. Which I think reflects a viewpoint, it`s in the administration as well, it`s not shared by Mike Pence, that the intelligence community was out to get Flynn.
And so, you are going to see, I think, pushback from Republicans on that issue.
TODD: By the way, I think that`s the true -- it`s a very true statement.
TODD: I mean, there were a lot of people trying to get Flynn, in the administration as well. Like, in the west wing. I mean, he was a target which, then, makes -- it gets to the whole judgment.
BELCHER: Right, it does -- it does get back to the judgment. At some point, I do think you`re going to see Republicans triangulating -- House Republicans triangulating from the White House on -- the White House on this because they have to face their voters in the midterm.
TODD: Right. I think that is right.
You guys are sticking around. We`re staying on this topic. Different angles of it.
Developments on this story continue to come in pretty quickly. We just learned that the Senate Intelligence Committee will investigate conversations between Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador.
[17:20:05] So, what will that look like? Coming up, I`ll talk to the top Democrat in the Senate Intel Committee.
Keep it here.
TODD: Welcome back.
The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee says his committee isn`t the one who should be investigating Mike Flynn`s conversations with the Russian ambassador. But he does want answers about whether the president discussed secret national security matters in public.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz sent a letter to the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, today, seeking formal explanation for photos that emerged on social media over the weekend, around the same time that North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
Photos appear to show Mr. Trump and the Japanese prime minister at Mar-a- Lago, reviewing papers with members of the public, or at least members of Mar-a-Lago, nearby.
NBC News has not independently verified the timing of the photos. Congressman Chaffetz wants to know whether classified or sensitive documents were reviewed in common areas and what the vetting process is for anyone who was allowed on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago.
Now, the White House insists all the rules were followed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: Apparently, there was a photo taken which everyone jumped to nefarious conclusions about whether it may not be discussed. There was simply a discuss about press logistics and where to host the event. There is a skiff there. It was utilized on two occasions that evening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: I`ll talk to a Republican member of the House Oversight Committee right after this break.
More MTP DAILY is coming up.
TODD: And we are back.
More now on the ongoing fallout from former national security advisor Mike Flynn`s forced resignation.
Since the news broke last night, Democrats have been uniformly calling for increased investigations. But on the other side of the aisle, as we talked about at the top of the show, the messaging on what to do next is more mixed.
Joining me now is Congressman Steve Russell of Oklahoma. He serves on the House Oversight Committee. Congressman Russell, welcome to the show, sir.
REP. STEVE RUSSELL (R), OKLAHOMA: Thank you.
[17:25:00] TODD: Let me ask you this. In general, what do you believe the jurisdiction of the House Oversight Committee should be and is, in your opinion?
RUSSELL: Well, we have oversight, and have since 1815, over every aspect of government. But when it comes to sources and methods, that will tend to fall under the Intelligence Committee, for obvious reasons.
TODD: Is there a point that you believe this Russia angle of the election hacking -- is there a point that this does rise to oversight because, number one, it is more public. And that there is a part of this that I think there -- that it`s important for the public to know and see you guys investigating. But that it -- that it fits better there than in the intel.
RUSSELL: I think what you have to balance against that is national security.
RUSSELL: One of the things that we see, as I travel extensively with members from the other side of the aisle -- I served with Steve Lynch on the National Security subcommittee. He and I traveled a lot to foreign shores. We`re very much united on foreign policy. When we leave our shores, it`s about defending the country.
So, before we would get into anything like that, we would have to make sure that what is it we`re investigating? What damage would it cause to our national interests that we all share?
TODD: What is -- let me ask you this. What made Benghazi something that belonged at the Oversight Committee that, say, this Russia investigation does not?
RUSSELL: Well, in that case, I think you had to have a special committee that went into the investigation because you had completely different narratives. You have a fake report about some type of a video that had caused many of these things and it just went south from there. As the evidence began to mount, then the special committee was formed.
In this case, you have conversations that occurred with Mr. Flynn that will come out, at some point. That will probably be done through some sources and means, discussion that would be classified, as the evidence comes out. Then, we`ll see what the evidence says.
TODD: We`re 25 days in. What do you tell your constituents back home? This was big Trump country, Oklahoma. We know that. What do you tell your constituents back home of what`s happening so far?
RUSSELL: Well, you`re watching government at work. You`re watching every administration as it comes into office getting settled.
Look, you know, wishing for the demise of a particular administration is like wishing that the pilots on an airplane would fail that we`re riding in.
This is our country. And so, while we see General Flynn has made some errors by his own admission and he has resigned. And then, you know, accounting to himself for that.
At the same time, most Americans need to be asking the question, hey, how are we going to get a new national security advisor.
RUSSELL: And how do we get them confirmed as quickly as possible, so that we all may feel safe from acts of terror or threats that are emerging.
TODD: You heard Senator McCain very worried about the dysfunctional national security advisor. There`s a general -- the general in charge of the special ops forces. He brought up that same -- he called if turmoil. He`s very concerned about it.
You`re a veteran. How concerned are you? I mean, this is not easy. If you`re dealing with a special ops mission right now, and we know there may be some that are happening right now, it looks a little unsteady over here.
RUSSELL: Well, it may to the politician. I would -- I would beg to differ that view as being held by the warrior. Just like people in the foreign service or people in uniform that have served for decades. They serve from an administration to administration and they`re dedicated to defending the Constitution and protecting the republic.
TODD: What would be one thing you`d like to see President Trump do quickly to give -- to restore some confidence in the -- in the west wing right now?
RUSSELL: Well, I think that if he would name who his new selection is for a national security advisor and then maybe meet with members of Congress, both sides of the aisle, about a quick confirmation so that --
TODD: Well, it`s not confirm. He can pick whoever he wants on that.
RUSSELL: Well, yes, my bad. That is true. And I think it`s important he would move quickly so we would have the full cabinet available for national security.
TODD: All right. Steve Russell, Congressman from Oklahoma. On the Oversight Committee. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views, sir.
RUSSELL: No, thank you. My pleasure.
TODD: We`re going to hear more on this from both Republican congressional leaders tomorrow right here on MSNBC, "MORNING JOE." We`ll have special interviews with House speaker Paul Ryan and senator majority leader Mitch McConnell. That`s tomorrow morning starting at 6:00 A. E.
And just ahead here on MTP DAILY, I`m going to talk to the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, about their plans to investigate the conversations between Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador, stay tuned.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR, "MEET THE PRESS DAILY" SHOW HOST: Welcome back. The office of government ethics is asking the White House to consider disciplinary action against the president`s senior counselor, Kellyanne Conway, in a letter to the White House legal counsel. The director of the office of government ethics said the following, there are strong reason to believe that Miss Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted.
What that is, we don`t know. This all stems, of course, from comments Conway made on Fox News on February 9th in the wake of Nordstrom dropping Ivanka Trump`s clothing line. She was defending the president on what he did on Nordstrom and she went even further. The office of government ethics says Conway unquestionably appeared in an official capacity during an interview where she said quote, go buy Ivanka`s stuff.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer said later that day that Conway had been counseled on that matter. But the office of government ethics says they haven`t received notification of any disciplinary action and that the White House needs to investigate Conway`s conduct. More "MTP Daily" just ahead. But first, here`s Kate Rogers with today`s "CNBC Market Wrap."
KATE ROGERS, CNBC REPORTER: Thanks, Chuck. For the fourth day in a row, stocks on Wall Street finish even further in the record territory. The Dow rose 92 points, the S&P closed up 9 points, while the Nasdaq ended up 18 points. Banks also rallied and bond yields got a boost following comment from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Apple also closed at another all- time high with shares rising nearly 1 percent. Warren Buffett Berkshire Hathaway quadrupled it`s stake in Apple in last year`s fourth quarter to about 57.4 million shares. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TODD: Welcome back. One of the big stories today. Fallout from the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn barely on the job for three weeks. Senate intelligence committee says it will investigate the conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the United States. Committee Chairman Richard Burr says the committee is going to aggressively continue it`s oversight responsibilities.
But what is the scope of this investigation? Joining me now is Senator Mark Warner. He`s a ranking democrat on the senate intel committee and the way intel community works, it truly is a -- this is not a hierarchy, correct me if I`m wrong, Senator Warren, but in the tradition of basically almost co- chairs, is that fair to say?
MARK WARNER, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA: It is. He`s the chair, I`m the vice-chair. This is really one of the few committees that still works in a bipartisan way.
WARNER: Maybe because a lot of it is behind closed doors, but we actually go after something in an organized fashion.
TODD: Well, let`s talk about the scope of the investigation.
TODD: What is is it? Okay. Is it -- what is it beyond Mike Flynn and the phone calls?
WARNER: Let me go through it. It`s three -- at least three discreet areas. First, it`s looking into the amount of Russian interference in the election, particularly focusing on the amount of disinformation, the false news. I don`t think most Americans realize that were literally 1,000 Russian internet trolls working in a single location in Russia trying to interfere in our election, putting out fake news. A lot of times if you googled something, you`d end up with not MSNBC or even Fox News. You`d end up with Russian fake news. We got to show the extent of that.
Second, we`ve got to look at the amount of hacking that was done into both the Podesta e-mails, the DNC e-mails, the selective leaking of those e- mails. Again, I don`t think most Americans realize the that the first time the Podesta e-mails were leaked to the public was literally two hours after so the-called Access Hollywood tape came out. Clearly, they were trying to influence against Clinton for Trump.
And then third, the area that includes Mr. Flynn, what are the cases of contacts between either campaign and we`re focusing now on the Trump campaign, Trump campaign and Russian officials before the election and now even in the aftermath after the election.
TODD: So what are you investigating? Are you investigating the investigators? Is this pure oversight or do you have your own team here that might do some of it`s own investigative work out in the field?
WARNER: We`re looking at the raw intelligence that ended up creating the report that President Obama put together that was released late in his term. We`re also looking and going to be interviewing a number of individuals who may have been involved in either gathering some of that information or reaching some of those conclusions. And it`s -- as Richard Burr said, this is going to be far reaching.
And what`s most important is we`re going to go wherever the intelligence and the facts lead. That could be very troubling, that could be very concerning, and we`re already seeing in the case of General Flynn, circumstance where while we haven`t seen the underlying transcripts, obviously you`ve got an individual that was quite close to the president, he had one story, then he changed his story that led to a resignation.
That raises a whole series of other questions about who he talk to and when did they know. But we got to first of all get a copy of what was exactly said between General Flynn and the Russian ambassador.
TODD: Speaking of that, obviously the White House has made a big deal about the leaks. President Trump has made a big deal out of the leaks. Are you troubled by the amount of leaking that has been going on and, you know, perhaps people are leaking because they feel like whistle blowers, but there seems to be a lot here when it comes to some national security.
WARNER: Well, as somebody who sits on the intel community and realizes the intel community has to be protected in terms of sources and methods, of course I`m concerned about leaks. I don`t think we make our country safer that way. But what we`ve seen in the case, for example, of General Flynn, we`ve seen one set of facts, we`ve seen the general change his story, and now we`ve seen his resignation.
Obviously having that information out, having -- not knowing for example when the vice president knew or didn`t know, was he in effect left out to dry by General Flynn, you know, it`s really important for national security means as well that we`d get to the bottom of this and we actually get the facts out.
TODD: I assume you`re confident in your abilities to do this investigation and that you`re confident in the intel committee`s ability to do this investigation, but should it be broader? Should there be a senate select? Are you there? Should there be multiple committees looking into other aspects of the Russian interference?
WARNER: What I`ve said is -- I think the intelligence community and committee is the right venue. We`ve got long time ties with the intelligence community, part of this is built on trust, and I think part of that trust means a number of these figures are coming forward and sharing the appropriate information.
What I`ve also said though, if there`s ever any evidence that there`s an attempt to squash this information or not allow the information to go where the truth leads us, then I and I believe the other members of the intelligence committee at least on the democratic side will say timeout, we need to look at something else.
TODD: There`s a concern that it`s too easy on intel to essentially say, oh, turn the cameras off, get rid of the reporters, do it all behind -- and frankly there`s no sunshine at all.
WARNER: Chuck, at the end of the day, this is so important, this goes to our very basic democratic process. I can give you one promise, we`re going to make sure as much of this as possible, while protecting sources and methods can be released. The American public deserves to find out and deserves to know what happened in terms of Russian interference. And quite honestly, if I would think the administration with all the clouds hanging over the administration on this subject, they`d want that information out as well.
TODD: Are you worried that they`re going to cite executive privilege to present Mike Flynn from testifying?
WARNER: Listen, I am -- we`re a couple weeks into this administration and nothing wouldn`t surprise me. But I think there is so much pressure -- and I`ve heard from other republican members of the committee, they also believe if this proves to be the case, what the reports have made, then Mr. Flynn needs to testify, we need to get these facts. We have to first of all find out what actually transpired and all we`ve got so far are press reports.
TODD: When should we expect to see you guys impaneled on this investigation?
WARNER: Well, Chuck, we`ve already put out calls for information from all the intelligence agencies. I personally made it very clear to each of these agencies, we expect full cooperation. We`ve already got a team looking in that information, looking at that raw intelligence. And I think this needs to be cleared up as quickly as possible. We`ve got to do it thoroughly, but it`s got to be cleared up as quickly as possible because quite honestly, this leaves a cloud over the whole administration.
TODD: I think I hear you there. Anyway, Senator Mark Warner, democrat from Virginia, vice chair of the intel committee. We`ll be watching. As much as you`ll allow to be public. Keep that in mind.
WARNER: We want to make as much public as possible.
TODD: All right. Senator Warner, thanks very much. I`ll be right back with what I`m obsessed with today.
TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed with a sad story that appeared in the "Wall Street Journal" today. It`s all about what can happen to people in Washington when they fly too close to the sun or in this case too close to power and money. And we hope a lot of people read this story that are in Washington that are close to power. It`s a story of a smart, creative, and ambitious young man named Evan Morris.
By the time he was just 27, Evan Morris became a top lobbyist for one of the world`s biggest pharmaceutical companies, Roche Holding AG of Switzerland. Morris was a game changer, figured out better ways to get members of congress to give Roche Holding what it wanted. The company made billions and Morris got rich too. As Brody Mullins who wrote this story and reported on it in detail noted today, he traded in his Mazda for a Porsche, four of them in fact.
Morris indulged himself with $2,000 dollar bottles of wine, bought a $3 million vacation home, and a $300,000 dollar mahogany speed boat. He is married with two children. It turns out, he had one more thing, a big secret. It turns Evan Morris was secretly embezzling much of the money that paid for his lifestyle for the golf memberships, the Rolex, the fancy cigars and more. The company`s chief compliance officer flew across the country to confront him with evidence of impropriety.
Morris left the meeting early. His wife was worried and he didn`t her calls. Hours later, Morris texted his wife with contact information for his accountant, financial planner, and life insurance provider. You can probably guess what happened next. Evan Morris took his own life at the age of 38. A brain if little known Washingtonian who fell prey to the twin temptations of Washington. Power and money. It`s a story I hope plenty of people are reading today so they don`t make the same mistakes. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Time now for "The Lid." Panel is back. Cornell Belcher, Anne Gearan, and Michael Warren. You know, one of the things that is going to happen in this administration no matter what is a national security adviser. And Michael, I say this because we heard some names that have been out there. We have somebody that is very close to Jim Mattis, David Petraeus, who we know his philosophy. And you have General Kellogg who could (inaudible).
What`s interesting to me here though that we have not talked about is, you correct me if I`m wrong, but all three of those guys, I don`t think share the same philosophy on foreign policy as President Trump and Mike Flynn.
MICHAEL WARREN, SENIOR WRITER AT THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Right. It would be a shift no matter who is picked by President Trump. It`s interesting though, I`m hearing from my sources in the White House there would be huge reaction if Petraeus were picked.
TODD: To the negative, right?
WARREN: To the negative. I think a lot of people would leave the national security counsel staff if that were to happen. Bob Harward is a little more sort of a cipher and people don`t quite know it. He actually worked on the NSC back in the Bush administration. That pick could be a little more -- greeted more friendly.
TODD: It`s interesting, and our own Hallie Jackson is reporting that the White House is saying (inaudible) they were interviewing him last week in anticipation of this. Okay, take them at their word on this. I think they probably always knew they had to have a backup NSC at this point considering how much fire there was. What do we know about him?
ANNE GEARAN, NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT FOR THE WASHINGTON POST: Interesting thing about all three of these guys is that they are all former senior military as is Flynn. Petraeus of course was one time Flynn`s boss. But as you indicated, they all do have more of the Mattis and Kelly and Tillerson mainstream republican foreign policy approach, or mainstream non- partisan foreign policy approach. Tough on Iran, tough on Russia, tough on China, but not as forward on the kind of punch them in the face aspect of foreign policy that Flynn was advancing.
TODD: And this is what I am curious about, Cornell, at the end of the day, the president -- if the president doesn`t personally have a connection with the national security adviser. This is so much different than a secretary of defense. I`m sorry, it just is you`re with this person all the time. They have the other great office in the west wing besides the chief of staff. It seems to me all three, neither one of them seem to have a personal relationship with him yet.
CORNELL BELCHER, PRESIDENT OF BRILLIANT CORNERS RESEARCH AND STRATEGIES: Here is the thing, he came in saying he is going to make up safer, right? And he`s going to take care all of the bad guys, he`s gonna go out there and get the bad guys and make make us safer. This is a really important part of his brand, right?
And for the last week or so, they pretty much screwed this up, right? Americans over next week are not going to feel safer because of what`s happening here. He needs to pick someone who is straight ahead, no nonsense -- fine, pick up straight head no nonsense republican from the Bush era, but he has to get this fixed because it is the cornerstone of his brand.
TODD: I go to this, Michael, here is another thing. There is chatter on the weekend that Reince Priebus was in trouble. Christopher Ruddy of Newsmax, like basically -- whoever wants to interview me, I`m here to say bad things about Reince Priebus. You`re in the middle of the crisis on Flynn. If you`re going -- at this point, you`re bleeding. If you`re gonna do more, do it now. I don`t know if they are going too.
WARREN: Yeah, I don`t know. I mean, this really goes to change every single day. (inaudible) was on the rise a week ago and always sees -- you know, apparently he was involved in sort of pushing out Mike Flynn.
TODD: He was mislead personally too. He came out -- he was -- you know, Vice President Mike Pence was on another show vouching for Flynn, Reince was on my show vouching for Mike Flynn.
WARREN: Exactly. I think that the sort of operative issue here is that it`s chaos in the west wing. And Reince I think is trying to do this, always telegraphing this, he`s trying to bring some control to what`s going on here and maybe that`s why he is going to stick around for a little bit longer.
TODD: And I have to say I think the thing that probably surprising more of Washington than anything is maybe Mike Pence is more powerless than people thought. You know, there was a perception that during the transition, it was -- you had basically Mike Pence handling half of the cabinet, maybe not.
GEARAN: One thing that we can conclude after this crazy few days is that there`s really only one person whose opinion matters and that`s Trump. If you`re done on his list, then your down. If you`re up on his list, then you`re up. And he will tolerate a fair amount a lot, maybe a whole lot more than fair amount of, you know, side way shooting among the very people advising him.
TODD: He has a high tolerance for political pain. He really does.
BELCHER: I think republicans would be astonish that -- because Mike Pence is supposed to be the guy who is the adult in the room, he is not the adult in the room.
TODD: That role to me is something they need to hurry up and reestablish. I think Capitol Hill republican back in place. Anyway, thank you, guys. Appreciate it. After the break, can Trump team beat the Vegas odds? We will share with you what Vegas had on (inaudible). Stay tuned.
TODD: In case you missed it, the end of football season does not mean the end of your betting addiction. Trust me. You can put money on the line in almost anything these days and that includes the White House. The Irish bookmaker Paddy Power is offering 4 to 1 odds that impeachment proceeding will be brought against President Trump in 2017. The company is also offering 15 to 8 odds that President Trump will resign during his first term in office.
If you like placing a long term bet, 2020 is on the table. Trump is at 6 to 4 odds to win a second term. That`s pretty good. Elizabeth Warren and Tim Kaine 11 to 1. You can have Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson available at 100 to 1 odds, might be was getting, or you could just wait a few weeks for March madness.
What we were looking for though, did anybody offer up Mike Flynn as the first resignation? That we didn`t find from the Irish just yet. Maybe because Flynn is Irish.
That`s all for tonight. FOR THE RECORD with Greta starts right now.
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