MTP Daily, Transcript 5/17/2017

Guests: Peter Alexander, Julie O`Sullivan, Hugh Hewitt, Neera Tanden, Chris Coons, Blake Farenthold

Show: MTP DAILY Date: May 17, 2017 Guest: Peter Alexander, Julie O`Sullivan, Hugh Hewitt, Neera Tanden, Chris Coons, Blake Farenthold

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC: That does it for this hour. I`m Nicole Wallace. "MTP DAILY" starts right now with Katy Tur.

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Hey there, Nicole. Thanks very much.

(voice-over): If it`s Wednesday -- can you believe it`s only Wednesday? Tonight, under obstruction?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.

REP. AL GREEN (D), TEXAS: The president has committed obstruction of justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: We`ll break down all the legal arguments on whether or not President Trump did, in fact, try on obstruct justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think impeachment is the -- is the move right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Plus, under investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We can`t with speculation and innuendo. And there`s clearly a lot of politics being played.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Where do the Congressional probes go from here?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: Our job is to be responsible, sober and focus only on gathering the facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: And what is next in a dizzying nine days of nonstop news?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Watergate took nine months and this thing seems to be taking hours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.

(on camera): Good evening, I`m Katy Tur in New York in for Chuck Todd. Welcome to MTP DAILY.

It is 5:00 on the east coast which, in recent days, has been the hour for choice breaking news, bomb shells, if you will. When did the FBI director, James Comey, get fired last week? In the 5:00 hour. "The Washington Post" dropped its bombshell about the president sharing classified intel with the Russians at this hour on Monday.

And yesterday during this hour, "The New York Times" dropped its bombshell White House sharing classified information on Monday. And yesterday during this hour, "The New York Times" dropped its bombshell story that President Trump urged FBI Director James Comey to shut down his investigation.

Needless to say, you might want to stick around because tonight, we begin questions of crime and punishment. Did the President try to obstruct justice? We`re going to find out. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, has invited FBI Director James Comey to testify next week. The two heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr and Mark Warner, want to see him, too. So, does the Judiciary Committee.

This comes as investigators in Congress are demanding that the FBI turn over any memos Comey may have written about his conversations with President Trump. In one of those memos, Comey says the president urged him to shut down the FBI`s investigation into former White House national security advisor, Michael Flynn. Saying, quote, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go." To letting Flynn go.

At an earlier meeting with Comey, current and former intelligence officials say the president asked Comey for his loyalty. That happened around the same time the president says he was probing Comey for information about the investigation.

And amid all of this, Mr. Trump says he also told Comey he was considering firing him. The White House denies that the president tried to get him to shut down any investigation. They`ve also denied that the president asked Comey for his loyalty. The president recently seemed to threaten Comey by suggesting, he had, quote, "tapes of their conversations." Lawmakers are trying to get their hands on those, too, if they exist.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are digging in for a long national nightmare. Within the party, there`s renewed talk of a Select Committee investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I am absolutely convinced we need a select committee and I`ve said that for a long time. There are too many dimensions of this issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Two more Republicans today are talking about a special prosecutor. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said she is open to the idea. So did Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. And Republican Congressman Justin Amash was asked by the Hill if the details in the Comey memo would merit impeachment if they`re true? He replied, yes.

For his part, the president today was defiant today. Here`s what he told the Coast Guard academy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can`t let them get you down. You can`t let the critics and the nay sayers get in the way of your dreams. I guess that`s why we won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: I`m joined by NBC White House Correspondent, Peter Alexander, and MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber.

Peter, first to you. What is the latest damage report out of White House?

PETER ALEXANDER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, we heard from Sean Spicer a short time ago as he was traveling back to the White House with the president on board Air Force One. He said of that Comey memo of that meeting specifically that it was not an accurate representation of that meeting. He said, on that, the president has been clear.

[17:05:01] To be fair, the president actually hasn`t addressed this in any way so far, not on Twitter at least. He hasn`t said any statements about it publicly. The White House, earlier, did put out a statement where, basically, he said this portrayal was not accurate. It said, in fact, beyond that it wasn`t truthful, it said the president never asked Mr. Comey or anybody else to, basically, end an investigation at his request.

But I did have an interesting conversation with a senior White House official today who made the point. They`re not disputing the memo may exist but are disputing the way it`s being characterizing -- characterized, saying, in fact, Katy, that this is the way the president speaks. That he wasn`t asking James Comey to end investigation, to back off the investigation.

He was really just trying to express his personal affinity for Comey. And, beyond that, he said, why was Comey taking notes and not sharing them? Was he writing a book or was he trying to advance an investigation -- Katy.

TUR: So, why was he? Peter Alexander, thank you.

Ari Melber, that the question I want to ask you. Why didn`t he disclose the contents or what happened in these meetings at the time of these meetings?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that`s fairly unremarkable. The default is to be discreet and not discuss aspects of these investigations, even under strain. We know that even when he`s departed from that, he caught hell and many people felt rightly so. But absence something more direct than just words, I don`t think that he felt he had an obligation to immediately escalate or go public.

TUR: Asking him to end the investigation into his national security adviser, what more do you need than that?

MELBER: Well, I think the flip side is what do you want him to do? I mean, publicly criticizing the president for it isn`t necessarily a great option. Informing Congress just passes the buck to them.

Part of challenge with Donald Trump who ran on changing things is that he`s changed so many things, broken so many precedents and protocols that it puts strain on the system, in terms with how to deal with that. I wouldn`t say there`s a great record here of precedent to turn to because this doesn`t usually happen.

Even President Richard Nixon, who ultimately was removed from office over obstruction of justice was one of the articles of impeachment, wasn`t quite like this. Although, he did other highly-questionable things.

The other point I`ll make is this is not a drill. I mean, we`re seeing responses from members of Congress, from federal officials, on and off the record, on background. This is not a drill. This is now a real test of whether the United States can find a way to get to the bottom of all this which doesn`t presuppose anyone`s guilt, not Donald Trump and not his associates. But does presuppose that the independence of these inquiries are now in doubt.

TUR: And the White House points to Andrew McCabe testifying the other day at Congress -- on Congress on Capitol Hill, saying that the president was not trying to interfere with any investigation or he had seen no evidence of that. Would Andrew McCabe necessarily have known the details of the meeting that Comey had with the president?

MELBER: I don`t know or, as they say on text, idk. I mean, there`s so much that we don`t know right. Obviously, McCabe was presenting a depiction of Congress that, I think, was more helpful to the White House so they`re going to lean on it.

But, ultimately, this is not going to be resolved by comparing sound bites or quotes. I think one thing most people seem to agree on, here in this land of great disagreement, is that Director Comey is going to have to testify in public and we`re going to hear. And I think that`s why our own Chuck Todd said, we may be on the precipice of the summer of Comey.

TUR: Yes, Republicans and Democrats both saying that. Everybody I know has called me to ask me the same thing. People are interested in hearing from Director Comey -- former Director Comey, himself. Ari Melber, I appreciate it.

MELBER: Thank you.

TUR: And thank you to Peter as well.

Let`s dive more into that legal angle. Julie O`Sullivan is a former federal prosecutor who`s now a white collar criminal law professor at Georgetown University. Julie, let`s start with something you told "The New York Times." You said President Trump really needs a lawyer. He is building a beautiful case against himself. Lay out that case.

JULIE O`SULLIVAN, CRIMINAL LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, it begins, obviously, with the alleged conversation with Jim Comey, asking -- a president asking a head of the FBI, if it did happen, to end an investigation, is so beyond the scope of protocol. It obviously violates a lot of rules.

And, more importantly -- or not more importantly but also importantly, apparently, he asked two people, including Comey`s boss, to leave the room before he made that statement. Which clearly indicates or can be inferred to indicate the consciousness of guilt that he knew what he was doing was wrong.

Then, of course, we see that the Russia investigation continues. That Comey asked for additional resources. There was Congressional testimony about it.

And then, on the morning of the Comey firing, suddenly, subpoenas are flying in the Flynn case and it`s publicly reported. So, we know that the Flynn investigation is, in fact, live and the president knows that. And then, hours later, he fires Comey. And to put the cherry on top, what he does is tell Lester Holt that, indeed, Russia was on his mind.

[17:10:06] So, it seems that President Trump has shot himself in the foot repeatedly. And what he needs now is a first-class white collared defense lawyer on speed dial.

TUR: You`re talking about that. I believe it was "New York Times" reporting that in that meeting in the Oval Office between FBI director Comey and the president, there were two other people there. The A.G. and - -

O`SULLIVAN: Yes.

TUR: -- also the vice president.

O`SULLIVAN: That`s right.

TUR: And then, Donald Trump, the president asked both of them to leave so that he could talk to director Comey alone.

Do you believe there is enough to argue successfully that there is obstruction of justice? There`s probable cause for obstruction of justice?

O`SULLIVAN: I think there`s probable cause. I would be very reluctant because I don`t know all the facts to opine that there has been obstruction.

I certainly think there has to be an investigation and it cannot creditably be done by the Department of Justice.

When you think about it, this is obstruction at the highest level into a Justice Department investigation of a vital national security question. And in those circumstances, if there was obstruction, some of the witnesses may well be prosecutors and FBI agents. In that case, one simply can`t creditably rely on Attorney General Sessions to give us an answer that will be credible to the American Republican.

TUR: Julie O`Sullivan, thank you very much for your time.

O`SULLIVAN: Thank you.

TUR: Let`s bring in tonight`s panel. Hugh Hewitt is an NBC News political analyst and the host of the "Hugh Hewitt Show" on Salem Radio Networks. Michael Steele is an MSNBC Political Analyst and former RNC chairman. And Neera Tanden is the president and CEO of the American -- of the Center for American Progress. She was the director of policy for both the Obama and Clinton campaigns.

Michael, good to see you. I haven`t seen you in a while.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to see you. I know, Katy, how`s it going?

TUR: It`s going great. The first question is to you. You know, we`re talking about whether or not Donald Trump tried to obstruct the investigation. Do you believe, if an argument is made for that, that Republicans are going to have a hard time defending themselves or defending the president against it?

STEELE: Well, I think a lot of facts have to come into focus for us before we get to that point. I think a lot of noise that you`re hearing now, especially from Democrats, talking about impeachment is a little bit misplaced and well premature.

TUR: And some Republicans are doing it, too.

STEELE: Some Republican, too.

TUR: It`s not just Democrats.

STEELE: But it`s up there (ph) and even those Republicans are now beginning to say that.

I think what -- that, for me, is why you need an independent party take over this so that we can be clear of what the facts are. And that`s the total thing. Not just one piece of it. But putting it all together.

Republicans need to have that conversation with the White House. So, I look for Mitch McConnell is Speaker Ryan to go down and meet with the chief of staff and the president to say, this is how we need to get this thing behind us.

We have a legislative agenda. You have policy agendas that we`re trying to achieve and all of that is now being put on hold because every day, there is a drip, drip scenario that`s evolving. And the reality is that this drum beat for impeachment or other types of things is drowning out the president`s agenda.

TUR: Michael, you have to -- you have to imagine that they`ve had those conversations at the White House. This is not the only controversy that has been out there. It`s been one after another and we`ve heard Republicans say they just want to get their agenda done.

Hugh, what do you think? Are Republicans able to go to the White House and say successfully, hey, listen, back off. Get off Twitter. We need to get things done. Try not to make any news for, I don`t know, a day, two, three?

HUGH HEWITT, POLITICAL ANALYST, NBC NEWS: Leader McConnell -- Katy, leader McConnell made that appeal yesterday. But you can`t avoid this. It was an explosive story by Michael Schmidt. We need to see all the memos.

Late today, the Judiciary Committee subpoenaed all of the memos of Director Comey that has anything to do with this, including those he might have written about conversations with President Obama, with Attorney General Lynch, with anyone connected with the Russia investigation. And they want to see all the Comey memos.

I had Ben Sasse on my radio show this morning. He`s chairman of the subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee charged with oversight. He thought it would have been appropriate for Director Comey during Director Comey`s May 3rd testimony to his committee to have said, the president is leaning on me.

And Senator Leahy, Democrat, Senator Coons, Democrat, asked Mr. Comey on May 3rd, do we need a special prosecutor? He demurred to the deputy attorney general. He didn`t bring up this memo, this conversation.

And now, I`m going to look for the testimony by the deputy attorney general next week. Under oath, I expect members of the committee to ask him if Mr. Comey ever told him that the president attempted to obstruct justice. If he didn`t, there are more questions not only Donald Trump but for Jim Comey.

[17:15:01] TUR: What about the Republicans? At what point are they going to have to break with the president?

Neera, how much pressure are Democrats going to be putting on them? Is it the special elections that are happening in the two districts that are coming up? If they loser -- Republicans lose, do you think Democrats are going to be in a better position to convince another Republicans that, yes, we got a call for a special prosecutor an independent investigation, more pressure on the White House?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, I hate to be Pollyannaish but I don`t actually think this is about a special election in these districts. So then, obviously, these issues are coming to the fore and not just in those elections but also in town halls. People are demanding special prosecutors.

But this is really an issue about protecting our democracy that independents, Democrats, I hope Republicans are asking for some accountability. And the truth here is that Director Comey wrote a memo which he shared with colleagues at the time that it occurred.

And I find it, frankly, ridiculous that Republicans are saying he should have told us in these open committee meetings about this. When the truth of this whole situation is that there seems to have been a big effort or some effort to actually lean on the director.

He got fired by the president. If Jim Comey had said anything about this, he would have been fired on the spot. What we are looking at is a president who seems to have fired the director of the FBI because the director is finding evidence.

And let me just remind the viewers that we had before -- a few days before the FBI director was fired, there were reports that -- there was reports from the FBI that there was evidence of collusion.

Now, I`d like the get to the bottom of this so I hope we`ll have a special prosecutor. But I think we should just look at the facts that we have and you can see evidence -- that evidence is like a map to what obstruction of justice is.

TUR: Here`s one reason why the Republicans might not want to break too forcefully with the president right now. 82 percent of Republican voters, right now, approve of the job the president is doing.

Anyway, I want to have you guys back a little bit later so I`m going to go right now. So, Hugh, Michael and Neera, stay with us.

Just ahead, Senator Chris Coons and Congressman Blake Farenthold react to the latest White House controversy.

And if it`s felt like busy week and a half, well, it has been. We`ll track the time line of the trouble for the Trump administration next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back to MTP DAILY.

As we said at the top of the hour, how is it only Wednesday? The news cycle has been in overdrive lately. I`ll talk to a prominent Senate Democrat in a moment. But, first, we`ll rewind nine days of nonstop news in 90 seconds.

[17:19:51]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have some exclusive reporting from our team over at the White House. Peter Alexander is still standing by.

PETER ALEXANDER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: This is some breaking news. President Trump was warned by President Obama against hiring Mike Flynn.

[17:20:04] SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: To state obvious, you don`t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Breaking news, Jim Comey is out at the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you fire director Comey?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because he wasn`t doing a good job.

ANDREA MITCHELL, CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRST CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Today, Russia`s foreign minister is in Washington meeting with the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the Russia investigation?

TODD: There was one news agency allowed in the Trump-Lavrov meeting and it belonged to Vladimir Putin.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was going to fire Comey. Oh, I was going to fire regardless of reconciliation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a tweet, you said there might be time recordings.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That I can`t talk about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we can report is there are as many as seven individuals being interviewed for a job as the FBI director today.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think it requires somebody like me, a Republican, to call Comey before the Judiciary Committee.

TUR: There`s a new potential explosive reporting out from "The Washington Post." They`re saying that President Trump revealed highly-classified information to the Russian foreign minister.

TODD: Speaking of breaking news in the moment. James Comey memo, President Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to shut down the federal investigation on Mr. Trump`s former national security advisor Michael D. Flynn.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It`s just another scandal. It`s just another scandal. I mean, it`s now accelerated. Watergate took nine months and this thing seems to be taking hours.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back.

Washington is still reeling from a monumental 10 days of White House developments. Lawmakers are catching their breath and figuring out where things go from here.

I`m joined now by Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons to try and figure it out. Senator, thanks for joining us, number one. I used this analogy during the campaign. Donald Trump was somebody who stained his shirt. And instead of getting a new shirt, he kept staining his shirt in order so people couldn`t figure out where the original stain was.

Is that what`s happening now? There are so many controversies that he`ll be able to survive this one because the -- it`s just so loud.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, that`s a fascinating metaphor. I`m reminded of the proverbial saying, the curse is may you live in interesting times.

I am worried, frankly, that the American people are getting exhausted. And, as you put it, that somehow President Trump will avoid accountability or responsibility for a number of things that have happened in the last few weeks, simply because of the sheer drum beat, the steady pressure of new developments.

In the next two weeks here in the Senate, I expect we will move from alarming press reports to actual evidence. We will get whatever tapes or transcripts or memos there are. Tomorrow, all of us will get to question deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

And next week, I am optimistic that we`ll hear from former FBI Director Jim Comey in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Intelligence Community or possibly both. That will allow to us move from allegations in the press to facts in front of us here in the Senate.

TUR: To be fair, Senator, without "The New York Times" or "The Washington post" or the other news organizations that have been doing reporting on that, NBC included, where would the Democrats be? Is the press doing their job? Are the Democrats doing their job to try to uncover a lot of these details?

COONS: Well, Katy, there`s a lot of investment by press outlets in investigative journalism and I`m grateful for that. A free press is one of the key pillars of our Constitutional order. So is respect for law.

We`ve only had one previous incident where an FBI director was fired by a president in modern times. That was by President Clinton and it was with good cause. And it was something that was widely explained, well understood. And he had a replacement in line who had broad bipartisan support soon thereafter.

This is a very different sort of a firing of an FBI director. And I am grateful that the press has dug into the details and that we`ve learned about a number of alarming developments. Whether it`s the inappropriate sharing of highly-classified information with the Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office or the memos that former FBI Director Comey allegedly wrote to file immediately following deeply troubling conversations in which President Trump tried influence ongoing FBI investigations.

[17:25:08] TUR: Speaking of lining up a new FBI director, the White House now says that Joe Lieberman is somebody that they are considering. Would Joe Lieberman be an acceptable FBI director in your estimation?

COONS: Well, Katy, that`s a -- that`s an interesting development. I`ve generally been saying that the most desirable candidate would be someone with a long career in federal law enforcement not someone who has stood for election. I know Senator Lieberman. He served as the attorney general of Connecticut. He`s a graduate of Yale Law School. And I believe he served on the Homeland Security Committee as well as Armed Services.

And so, would have some familiarity with intelligence matters. You know, I think he would be a significant improvement over a number of other nominees that have been floated.

My advice to the president, if he happens to be watching, that he really take his time. And that he conduct a thorough search and that he come up with a nominee who will enjoy broad support here in Congress.

It is critical that we have a next FBI director who can command support from across the political spectrum here in Congress to move past this moment in which the FBI is perceived as being the subject of real interference and intrusion by the Trump administration.

TUR: If you see the Comey memo and it does turn out to be true that the president asked him to back off the Flynn investigation, do you believe that is obstruction of justice?

COONS: Well, the details of a charge of obstruction of justice are hard to prove. But that would certainly be an alarming development.

It would make it clear that President Trump had directly and personally tried to influence the outcome of an FBI investigation into one of his most senior campaign and cabinet officials, former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Someone who did ultimately have to resign in disgrace after it became clear that he had lied to the vice president.

And there is an ongoing investigation into the conduct of the national security advisor.

TUR: Do you believe that`s obstruction of justice?

COONS: I think it`s certainly in that neighborhood. There`s a number of elements of proving the charge of obstruction of justice. It requires proof of intent and I think there`d have to be more than just the allegations we have now.

But as you said, if former FBI Director Comey produced the memo and came in front of us and testified, we`d be well on our way to an obstruction of justice charge.

TUR: Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, I appreciate your time, sir.

COONS: Thank you.

TUR: I`m joined now by Texas Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold. Congressman, thank you very much.

Back when president -- former President Bill Clinton met with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac, you called for a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton. If it was improper for Bill Clinton to do that then, where do you stand now with what is going on with the president and the former FBI director?

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: Well, we didn`t have a single special prosecutor during the Obama administration looking into all sorts of allegations. And I think that`s evidence that Congress is able to do its job investigating as well as the various law enforcement agencies like the FBI.

TUR: So -- but you called for it. You don`t want to call for it again? You think Congress is going to be fine to do this?

FARENTHOLD: I think we`re way early in the process. All we`ve got now are overhyped anonymous sources and innuendos. I want to hear from Comey. I want to see the memos. And that`s going to happen next week.

TUR: If it turns out that Donald Trump did ask Comey to end the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn, do you think that is appropriate?

FARENTHOLD: Listen, it depends on how it was done. You know, --

TUR: Is there any circumstance where it`s OK for the president of the United States to ask the FBI director to end an investigation into somebody associated with his administration and his campaign?

FARENTHOLD: I think it`s perfectly all right for the president to say to somebody, this is -- this is a good guy. I like him. It depends on what the intent was and it depends on the facts and circumstances. That`s why we need to see the memo and we need to talk to Mr. Comey.

TUR: If this was Hillary Clinton, would you say it depends on what the intent was or would you be calling for her --

FARENTHOLD: I`d absolutely --

TUR: -- to be taken out?

FARENTHOLD: -- I would absolutely be concerned with the intent. The intent is an element of obstruction of justice. Listen, nobody is above the law, well, except maybe Hillary Clinton.

TUR: Nobody is above the law except maybe Hillary Clinton. The president of the United States may have released highly-classified information to the Russians.

FARENTHOLD: Yes, and that`s not -- that`s not a criminal offense.

TUR: Does that concern you? It`s not a criminal offense. If Hillary Clinton would release --

FARENTHOLD: There is no evidence that he actually did that.

TUR: -- highly classified information to the Russians, do you think that - - what would you say?

FARENTHOLD: Absolutely. She is not the president. She didn`t have the authority to do that. In fact, she did let highly classified information on her private server which I believe was in violation of the law.

TUR: So you think it is okay for the president to say to the Russians, here`s some highly classified information.

(CROSSTALK)

FARENTHOLD: Every single person who was in that meeting said that the president did not do that. That is an allegation that has yet to be proven. TUR: No. They said that he didn`t reveal sources or methods.

FARENTHOLD: Listen, the president has the ability to declassify information as he sees fit. I think it is highly appropriate for the president to be seeking the Russians` aid in fighting ISIS. It`s a common enemy that we have with Russia. There are things -- Russia is not our enemy on all fronts. TUR: Is Russia our ally?

FARENTHOLD: Again, we`ve got interests in common and fighting ISIS is one of those. That`s the context we`re looking at now.

TUR: Would it be appropriate for the president to record conversations in the oval office between him and the administration officials?

FARENTHOLD: Again, I think there are various considerations here. I certainly don`t like the way it looks like happened in the Nixon administration. It has a very negative political connotation. If the president were doing that, I think that would be a mistake.

TUR: What do you want to ask FBI Director James Comey?

FARENTHOLD: I want to ask Mr. Comey if he felt like the president was pressuring him in the investigation. And if he answers that yes, I want to ask him, why didn`t you report it to your superiors? Why didn`t you report it to the Justice Department? Why didn`t you report it to congress?

TUR: Last night, you told my colleague, Greta Van Susteren, that you believe the president is climbing the learning curve, but not quite as fast as some folks would want him. Do you believe that the president of the United States should be on a learning curve?

FARENTHOLD: Listen, the American people elected Donald Trump because he was not a career politician. They wanted somebody who would get things done, a man of action. Listen. In Washington, there are all sorts of ways you`re supposed to deal with the press, the way you`re supposed to say things and not say things, but the American people are fed up with that and that`s why they elected a straight shooter like Donald Trump.

TUR: I want to ask you about Russia again because all of our intelligence organizations have said that Russia tried to interfere in our election. So given that, do you believe that it is appropriate for the president to be sharing highly classified information with the Russians?

FARENTHOLD: We still got ongoing investigations as to what if any interference in the election.

TUR: No, no, no, the intelligence committee has said that they did do that. They testified saying that they tried to interfere.

FARENTHOLD: Russia has the ability to help us on the war on terror.

TUR: But it`s okay that they tried to interfere in the election because they might help us in the war on terror?

FARENTHOLD: I`m not saying it is okay that they interfered in the election. I`m saying that the facts aren`t all in on it. This is the problem. You folks in the media are just having a feeding frenzy over Donald Trump and the Russians and are not waiting to get all the facts in. All this stuff with Comey is coming from anonymous sources with a memo we have yet to see with no comment from James Comey.

This is all premature. It is just a feeding frenzy of the media. I have five televisions in my office. This is wall to wall coverage. There are lots of other things going on in the country right now. This is stopping the president from moving ahead with the agenda he ran on and the American people elected him for.

And that is fixing health care, that is lowering taxes, that is putting Americans back to work, that is securing our border. It is making America great again. Instead you`ve got pretty much every journalist in Washington out to get Donald Trump. If he said, oh, I like puppies, the story would be Donald Trump hates kittens.

TUR: To be fair, Donald Trump is tweeting quite a bit about all of these topics and only furthering the news cycle on them including making allegations that are so far baseless, like the former president of the United States, President Obama, wiretapped him in Trump Tower even though the intelligence community said that that is not true. Anyway, Congressman Farenthold, thank you very much for joining us.

FARENTHOLD: It was fun.

TUR: Thank you. Still ahead, what information did President Trump give Russian leaders. U.S. officials say it`s too sensitive for the media to report. But could we get more insight from Russian president Vladimir Putin?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Up next, could Vladimir Putin have taped President Trump`s conversation with Russian foreign leaders? But first, Hampton Pearson has the "CNBC Market Wrap." Hi, Hampton.

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Katy. The Dow and S&P haven`t seen a day this bad since September. Stocks tumble wiping out monthly gains as investors worry about the latest scandal in Washington who put the brakes on the Trump`s tax, health care, and the stimulus plan. The Dow falling 372 points, the S&P down 43, the Nasdaq closing down 158 points. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back. Despite the Trump administration insisting that it was wholly appropriate for the president to disclose secret information to Russian diplomats last week, today officials tell NBC news that some of this information is so sensitive that news organizations here in the United States are still being asked not to report it because doing so could harm U.S. national security.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in earlier today, saying that if the United States administration wanted them to, they would release records from that meeting between President Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak. Our Andrea Mitchell asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about that earlier.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Secretary, Vladimir Putin is offering congress a transcript of that Lavrov oval office meeting. Do you think the Russians were bugging the oval office?

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I would have no way to know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TUR: Joining me now is John McLaughlin, former acting director and deputy director of the CIA and an NBC News national security analyst. Thank you for joining me, John. Shouldn`t the secretary of state know whether or not the Russians were bugging the oval office?

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF CIA, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I`ll excuse him ignorance on this given that he is a diplomat and an oil executive, not an intelligence officer. I would say if they were bugging the oval office, that would be a scandal greater than or at least as great as anything we`re currently witnessing, if they have been permitted to go in that office with some kind of gear that could do that.

In all likelihood, what Putin is talking about is a written memorandum about the meeting. That said, I would just add that there are times in the past when the Russians have had technology that we didn`t have, and did not detect. But in this case I`m skeptical that they were bugging it.

TUR: They did allow a task news agency photographer to come in with his appointment to take photos. So is there a circumstance where something that the photographer brought in, could have potentially been recording?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, conceivable. Again, if someone did not carefully examine and electronically and otherwise all the equipment that anyone took into that room, that would be a scandal in itself. It really would.

TUR: So Putin is talking about coming to the president`s defense potentially and releasing these transcripts. Is it coming to the president`s defense or could it be interpreted as a threat to the president?

MCLAUGHLIN: I don`t think it is a threat. I think it is just Putin having fun with us. I mean, he has manipulated our system pretty effectively until now. He rolled the ball down the lane and broke up most of the pins. There are a few still standing. But I think he is just enjoying the moment after having carried out really one of the most successful covert action operations in Russian history.

TUR: And his officials were invited into the oval office. At what point is it appropriate for the U.S. to share intelligence with the Russians? When is it appropriate?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it is appropriate on some occasions, and I have done it. I`ve been authorized to do it by our government. I`ve gone to Russia. I`ve met with him here on occasion. This is in the past, of course. But when you do, everything you`re sharing with them is very carefully vetted in advance by the intelligence agencies that had anything to do with the collection.

And certainly, before you would share anything that was provided by another government, you would seek their permission. When I say vetted, I mean every word is gone over and so forth then it goes to them on a piece of paper marked releasable Russia. So it is not something you do casually or extemporaneously which is apparently what happened here.

TUR: And how much does it concern you?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it concerns me a lot. Of course bearing in mind we qualify that a bit to say we don`t know exactly what we shared.

TUR: Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: We don`t know the words, all of that. But yes, the fact that most note worthy to me is that Thomas Bossert alerted the White House counter-terrorism adviser, alerted intelligence agencies that something happened they needed to know about and then of course someone asked "The Washington Post" not to use some of the data which tells me that whatever was shared would be deliciously interesting to the Russians.

TUR: John McLaughlin, thank you very much for joining me, sir.

MCLAUGHLIN: Pleasure.

TUR: Still ahead, make way, for you heard it right, ducklings in D.C.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: At least two Republican members of congress who have been openly critical of the president are now acknowledging impeachment is a possibility. First, Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo acknowledged the possibility yesterday. And today Congressman Justin Amash said if the allegations behind Comey`s memo are true, it is ground for impeachment. Amash didn`t back down from that statement when NBC`s Kristen Welker literally chased him down today. Take a look.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Congressman, if the Comey memo turns out to be true, will you call for an impeachment? JUSTIN AMASH, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN: I have nothing further to add.

WELKER: Do you stand by your comments that you would call for an impeachment?

AMASH: I have nothing further to add.

WELKER: Whose word do you trust more, President Trump or former FBI Director James Comey?

AMASH: I have nothing further to add.

WELKER: Earlier today, you said that the president should be impeached if the Comey memo is true. Do you see him by that comment?

AMASH: I have nothing further to add.

WELKER: Do you think the president may have obstructed justice?

AMASH: I have nothing further to add.

WELKER: Do you still have full confidence in the president?

AMASH: I have nothing further to add.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: Time for "The Lid." The panel is back; Hugh Hewitt, Michael Steele, Neera Tanden. Michael, let`s start with you again. Do you consider the GOP dam to be starting to crack when it comes to support for this president?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there may be some pressures you could see from the clip you showed before the break. I have nothing further to add. I mean, I don`t know how much more the members especially want to go the rest of the summer and into the fall having reporters chasing them with questions about this story line, to be honest about it.

So, you probably will see pressure come from various points to stay in line, to sort of toe the line, if you will, on the narrative from the Republican side. But then there is what`s going on at home as well and how this is playing in the various districts.

So, I think these members, especially in the house, are going to be caught in between those pressure points and whether or not they crack remains to be seen. But I don`t know how much longer you can say "I have nothing further to add" when clearly there is something you have to say about this at some point.

TUR: So we live in the modern era, we have the 24-hour news cycle, we have Twitter and all these social media, you can keep track of what anyone thinks on any given subject. Because of that, we have quite a bit of sound and information from Republicans about what they thought of Hillary Clinton and her handling of classified information. Let`s play that.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t have someone in the oval office who doesn`t understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified.

PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: She grossly was negligent. She mishandled classified information and now she wants to be commander in chief. I think the DNI, the director of national intelligence, should block her access to classified information given how recklessly she handled this.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Men and women mishandling classified information is a crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUR: So, Hugh, are the Republican`s own words, vice-president, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, others, are their own words going to play a hand in potentially turning the tide on this? Do they risk looking like hypocrites to the American people?

HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST WITH THE SALEM RADIO NETWORK, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANAYLST: No, I don`t think so. I think it`s much more serious than playing a game of how bad was Secretary Clinton which I think was pretty bad with regards to the server. Tomorrow in the United States senate, an unusual meeting happens, Katy. All 100 senators are going to hear from Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

And I hope the leader, Leader McConnell`s first question is, did Director Comey ever tell you that President Trump leaned on him or obstructed the investigation? And that the second question is, were you ever told about these Comey memos? Because we`ve got to get to these Comey memos. If they are as bad as some on the left and some in the media would have us believe without having read them, then it`s a very bad week for Donald Trump indeed, including the oval office meeting with the Russians.

But right now we`re all operating off of speculation and one phone call with one "The New York Times" reporter and a couple of other stories. I want to dial it back and see. And I don`t think these tapes help us focus on, there may have been a very serious security breach in the oval office. There may be a need to go very deep into what Donald Trump was asking James Comey, but we`re not there yet. I think we just need to slow down.

TUR: Neera, I feel like you want to get in on this.

(LAUGHTER) NEERA TANDEN, DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISER AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Number one, if I were Director Comey, maybe I wouldn`t tell Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein about what Donald Trump said to me because he has acted from his actions, he basically manufactured a memo for his firing, for Director Comey`s firing. I think Rosenstein is a person who has really sacrificed his reputation and his conduct over the last ten days.

And the idea that Republicans who six months ago were lauding Comey now are attacking him and basically saying he should have come forward to talk to his superiors. His superiors were Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein, both who basically have been manufacturing reasons for the termination of Director Comey. It seems very rational he would not have trusted them, and I look forward to him actually speaking. But can I also just make one further point?

TUR: You do quickly.

(LAUGHTER)

TANDEN: Hugh Hewitt himself criticized Hillary Clinton`s handling much more than he has criticized anything about Donald Trump and I think that is a tragedy.

TUR: I got to leave it there. Hugh, I`m sorry, I`m not going to let you get in on that. We just certainly run out of time. Hugh, Michael, Neera, appreciate it. After the break, ducks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Finally tonight, in case you missed it, an indulgence here for a second. Washington`s been getting a bad rap for being a swamp that needs to be drained. But with the warm muggy, and yes, humid climate comes natural wildlife. We`re not talking about political animals. The Library of Congress tweeted yesterday that the U.S. capitol police helped the staff rescue a mother duck and her ducklings from the roof of the library.

Most people on Twitter praised the effort, but another duck-related endeavor is still ruffling some feathers on Capitol Hill. That would be the Union Square duck ramp which offers an assist to Mallard ducks of all ages to spend the spring on the Capitol reflecting pool. It looks to us like the design fix the bill, but it got some lawmakers in a fowl mood. Republican North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker tweeted, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it must be government waste.

We actually invited Congressman Walker on the show tonight, but he ducked our interview request. Guys with the scandals plaguing all of Washington this weak, this small exhibit of cuteness was a nice distraction. So, thank you to the architect of the Capitol for quacking us up. That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." "For the Record" with Greta starts right now. Lo and behold, she has got some pretty big breaking news.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END