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MTP Daily, Transcript 5/23/2017

Guests: Susan Page, Kim Darroch, Susan Collins

Show: MTP DAILY Date: May 23, 2017 Guest: Susan Page, Kim Darroch, Susan Collins

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: I don`t know, nothing much happened in the few days that I was gone. But I`ll catch up. Thanks, Nicole.

If it`s Tuesday, there`s even more Russia smoke.

(voice-over): Tonight, the former head of the CIA says he worried last fall that Russia was trying to undermine our election and that the Trump campaign may, indeed, have been involved.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: Frequently, individuals who go along a treasonous path do not even realize they`re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late.


TODD: Plus, the Flynn investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not taking contempt of Congress off the table either.


TODD: Republican Senator Susan Collins joins us to discuss the next steps.

And terror in Manchester.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: But this attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice.


TODD: What kind of message President Trump is sending with his latest remarks that condemn the terrorist action in the U.K.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will call them, from now on, losers because that`s what they are. They`re losers.


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

(on camera): Good evening and welcome to MTP DAILY. I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington. Good to be back.

And since the last time I saw you, it`s been revelation after revelation for the Trump White House, on multiple fronts, surrounding multiple angles into the Russia probe.

Folks, all of these stories, the firing of James Comey. President Trump`s Oval Office meeting with Russian officials. His disclosing of classified information during that meeting. The drip, drip, drip of Michael Flynn who`s now pleading the fifth. The possibility that someone inside the White House is now a significant person of interest in the Russia investigation.

Oh, and I think, at one point, calling James Comey a nut job in front of Russians by the president, that allegation being out there. On any one of these stories would be huge on its own for this White House. But add them all up, including possible charges of obstruction of justice, and you do have a presidency in crisis.

And, today, two of the nation`s top spy chiefs and the former director of the CIA all answered questions on Capitol Hill. All of this while the president is still on his first overseas trip. He`s now in Rome, before a meeting tomorrow with Pope Francis.

The president is also confronting the first large-scale terror attack in the western world since his inauguration. The suicide bombing attack at a concert in Manchester, England. We`ll have the latest reporting on that, ahead, as well.

But first, tonight, we`re focusing on the increasing pressure this president is under. The latest, "The Washington Post" and NBC News reporting that President Trump asked the director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the national security agency, to publicly say they saw no evidence the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 election. Both of them reportedly declined.

Director Coats testified on Capitol Hill today. And while he didn`t confirm the conversation happened, he didn`t deny it, either.


DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I have always believed that given the nature of my position and the information in which we share, it`s not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that. And so, on this topic as well as other topics, I don`t feel it`s appropriate to characterize discussions and conversations with the president.


TODD: If the -- if that report were incorrect, do you think you would have corrected it? Folks, Coats did nothing there to correct the record. So, that leads many to believe the reporting of what the president said is true. And that`s a member of the president`s administration, an appointed cabinet member, publicly protecting his own office rather than the president.

Admiral Rogers was also on the Hill today for budget hearings and wasn`t asked about the reporting. In a separate hearing today, former CIA director, John Brennan, also seemingly made matters worse for the president, raising further questions about ties between the Trump campaign and the kremlin.


BRENNAN: I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn the -- such individuals.

And it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals. Frequently, individuals who go along that treasonous path do not even realize they`re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late.


TODD: Folks, Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, addressed Brennan`s comments moments ago, saying their committee will look into it as part of its investigation.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: What we`re looking at now, part of the thing in this investigation, is to look at those contacts that Mr. Brennan spoke about and see what they were, how extensive they were and what they led to, if anything.


TODD: Joining me now is Michael Leiter, NBC News national security analyst, and a former director of the National Counterterrorism Center and before that, a chief of staff at the Department of National Intelligence. Mr. Leiter, welcome back.


TODD: So, let`s address this issue of the accusation of trying -- of the president supposedly making a personal plea to Dan Coats at DNI, Mike Rogers at NSA, to definitively say there was no evidence of collusion. What did you make of director Coats not addressing the issue at all, other than saying, I`m going to keep it private?

LEITER: Well, I think Director Coats, someone who I have a great deal of respect for, did exactly what a director of National Intelligence should do. Which was, thanks very much, take notes, stay internal, and make sure that he is still focused on being the director of National Intelligence, and not issuing statements which fundamentally are at odds with what the intelligence communities have thus far found.

TODD: Let me play devil`s advocate here. Obviously, the president is getting chastised by many professionals in the intelligence community, many Democrats, some Republicans who say, hey, this is inappropriate behavior. Because he`s getting criticized because the assumption is he`s guilty or that there`s some guilty there.

What about from his point of view. If he -- if he`s -- he believes he`s innocent or he tells us he`s innocent. And if he believes he`s this innocent, and he feels that it`s a witch hunt, why wouldn`t he make those phone calls? And why wouldn`t that be appropriate?

LEITER: Well, we know that the president has no problem saying that himself.

TODD: Right.

LEITER: Had that over and over.

TODD: But if you truly believe this, you know, why wouldn`t he -- why wouldn`t he act this way?

LEITER: It`s really clear. And, honestly, if he wants to call up his director of Homeland Security or secretary of state or anyone like that, and say, hey, we agree with the president, that`s just fine.

But the line has to be drawn, really, in two places. The most sensitive one is the law enforcement people who are doing the investigation. And that is one that can`t be violated. You can`t go and call the investigators and say, let me tell you what you need to say and what you need to find. We know that`s a problem.

But the second one, a little bit farther way, equally problematic, is talking to the rest of the intelligence community and saying, hey, do you have anything else in that intelligence bucket? And even if you don`t, really, I need you to get out there and talk about why I`m not guilty.

And the intelligence community is going to say, what they should say, what Dan Coats I think did say was, no. We`re the referee. We see the facts. We call the facts. We`re not political partisans to defend your presidency. We respect you. We work for you. But that`s not our role.

TODD: So is it -- walk me through. I think there`s a lot of viewers who probably sit there and are more cynical than even those of us in Washington and say, please, presidents are always looking find intelligence to back up their beliefs. George W. Bush did it with Iraq. Barack Obama did it with Iran, trying to calm down the Iran worries. How prevalent is it? Walk me through this process.

LEITER: That skepticism is reasonable to have. I can only tell you from my experience, first for President George W. Bush and then President Barack Obama. There are policies. And we knew they had policies and they wanted to pursue things.

But for those -- both of those presidents, when we showed up and said, Mr. President, these are the facts we see. This is our assessment of the situation. Here you go. I never had a president, I never had anyone on their staff say, you know, Mike, we don`t think those are the facts. You can disagree with the assessment --

TODD: Now, will they -- what about, hey, Mike, can`t you -- can`t you keep finding intelligence that backs this up?

LEITER: They can tell us to go back and look and look and look, and we would do that. But the idea of shaping those facts once we called them and said, this is what we --

TODD: So, there was a line between, keep finding -- keep looking --

LEITER: Keep looking is fine.

TODD: -- versus shaping.

LEITER: But once we said what it was, they didn`t push back. And even on Iraq. As you know, I worked on the commission that investigated the WMD in Iraq.

TODD: Right.

LEITER: That was a bipartisan commission and, ultimately, it found, no, the president didn`t try to shape the intelligence.

TODD: It really was bad intelligence.

LEITER: It was just bad.

TODD: Yes.

LEITER: And it supported a political outcome. But, in my experience, the idea of a president or the National Security Council calling and saying, there ought to be different facts. We want to know those facts. Didn`t see it.

TODD: If you were a political actor in this town, political analyst in this town, and they say to you hey, Mike Leiter, this looks like the intel community and Donald Trump indeed are at war. What would you say to that?

LEITER: Well, I said last week in "The Washington Post" that it may not be a war, but it`s a series of skirmishes right now. There`s a level of tension between these two parts of the government. Our president and the intelligence community is there to support them. And, combined with that, the law enforcement which is really problematic and bad for the country. And it`s one of the reasons we see all these leaks.

TODD: Mike Leiter, NBC National Security Analyst, former head of the counterterrorism center. Thank you, sir.

LEITER: Thank you.

TODD: Sure.

Director Brennan`s testimony today, during it, we saw potentially telling exchange between the former director and Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy who has been a Trump ally at these committee hearings. Gowdy`s line of questioning today may be a hint at where the Trump administration will go as they attempt to insulate the president from any Russia-related collateral damage.

[17:10:04] Take a listen.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Did you see evidence of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between Donald Trump and Russian state actors?

BRENNAN: I saw information and intelligence that was worthy of investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not such cooperation of collusion was taking place.

GOWDY: And that would have been directly between the candidate and Russian state actors?

BRENNAN: That`s not what I said and I`m not going to talk about any individuals.

GOWDY: But that was my question and you answered it. You didn`t answer it that way.

BRENNAN: No, I responded to your query. I`m not going to respond to particular elements of your question, because I think it would be inappropriate for me to do so here.


TODD: It was one of the more fascinating exchanges between those two highly intelligent men and very good at their, let`s say, rhetorical bouts.

Let me bring in tonight`s president, Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino, and MSNBC Contributor. Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for "USA Today" and Sarah Fagan, former senior aide to President George W. Bush and a CNBC contributor. Welcome all.

Susan, I isolated that exchange because it was very interesting to me that Trey Gowdy separated Donald Trump, the individual, from what is the allegation. It`s never been an allegation that Donald Trump, personally, was involved. The allegation is that Trump associates.

Politically, I thought it was a clever attempt by Trey Gowdy. Brennan saw it and didn`t do it. But, to me, it looks like a sneak peek of what the defense could look like as we go forward.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": And what we may have heard from President Trump just, what, 24 hours ago, when he said, I can only -- I can speak for myself. Which is a sign, perhaps, he is no longer completely confident that everyone around him would get the same clean bill of health, when it comes to working or colluding with the Russians.

SARA FAGEN, CNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this has -- this has been the right strategy all along. Because they`re --

TODD: You`re, like, saying they stumbled upon it now?

FAGEN: Right, because there hasn`t been strong evidence that Donald Trump personally was involved. There hasn`t been any evidence.

TODD: Right. The evidence has always been on the periphery with associates.

FAGEN: Right, and even though Michael Flynn certainly served in the administration, it was a very brief period of time. And, you know, while there`s rumors and articles about potential people in the White House being involved, right now, it`s all outside the White House. And it`s all outside of the Trump administration. And that`s where Donald Trump wants that to live.

PAGE: Well, we don`t know that it`s all outside.

FAGEN: No, I said that.

TODD: No, she said that. She did. She made that caveat.

FAGEN: Right.

TODD: We have that report in there. But it is sort of, you know, is that a -- to me, it`s an acknowledgement that, number one, this is going to go on for a while. And it goes to Susan`s point that maybe he`s starting to - - let`s take him at face value here. I mean, he was going, well, maybe somebody did something and I don`t know about it.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think he`s recognizing that -- and Sara`s absolutely right. That should have been their first strategy saying that I know that I have a clean bill of health. I don`t know if everybody else does. By ensuring that he does that though, that he -- not only does it distance himself, but he also gives the Republicans wiggle room to do the investigation.

TODD: By the way, it was interesting in the story about Coats and Rogers, who wasn`t mentioned in the intel chiefs. No Mike Pompeo.

PAGE: Yes, where was it?

TODD: Don`t know. But Mike Pompeo isn`t there. And the first time, we know that Mike Pompeo -- there was a time where this White House -- now maybe the White House has backed off on going after the -- trying to get the CIA to do this. Maybe he wasn`t asked.

FAGEN: Well, don`t forget, you know, one of his first challenges as president was with the CIA coming into office. And, you know, perhaps they --

TODD: Maybe they`re taking a hands-off approach with the CIA, more than they are the other folks.

PAGE: But, you know, I think you do see the cost for President Trump, having been so critical of the intelligence agencies now. Because the intelligence agencies are now standing up for themselves, ensuring the sanctity of their own reputations.

KUMAR: That`s right. They`re lockstep center and I think that`s -- and I think that`s the challenge that Trump has. He basically blew a lot of political cover early on and I think that they would have been less united under -- in this situation had they been -- had President Trump been much more thoughtful with them.

PAGE: More respectful.

TODD: So, if we look at the two major developments of the day, and put it this way, on is you`re starting to see the defend Trump, the individual defense.

FAGEN: Right.

TODD: The other is, is Dan Coats a leading indicator of folks that are starting to say, I`m going to protect myself before worrying about what`s happening in that Oval?

FAGEN: Yes, perhaps. That`s exact -- that looks like what happened. Although, the reality is, when you run a National Intelligence operation, you can`t go out there and have a political viewpoint and --

TODD: Not at all.

FAGEN: -- not at all.

And Dan Coats is a pro and he understands that. So, even if someone at the White House was suggesting he`d do that, lucky for them, he`s smart enough to know that he can`t do that.

PAGE: Yes, bigger question, though, on whether Republican members of Congress, congressional leaders, might feel, I want to protect the institution of the Congress, not the White House. I want to protect my own reputation, not protect the president. Because these are the kind of tough questions that could possibly come up --

KUMAR: Well, and I think a lot of folks are looking very closely at how Trump is -- his dealing with his personal administration within the White House, where they feel that they are not being protected by the president right now. And that`s why these folks are saying, you know what?

[17:15:02] FAGEN: To Susan`s --

KUMAR: I need to protect my reputation.

FAGEN: -- to Susan`s point, you know, we`re seeing that in the Senate. We`re not yet seeing it in the House. And I think, you know, if more shoes drop in this investigation, you`ll start to see it in the House.

TODD: Very quickly, war rooms in a White House. Did you guys have one at any time that ever popped up? Was it during Social Security or during like -- did you have --

FAGEN: There were various iterations of it.

TODD: A good way of handling things or bad?

FAGEN: It ends up usually being people -- it`s a good concept of people work from their desks and it, sort of, goes away.

But, you know, in the case -- I, you know, saw some reporting that had been done about, you know, the Trump administration looking at bringing someone in to handle -- recognizing, this is here to stay, this investigation.

TODD: Go find somebody on the outside.

FAGEN: We`ll find a pro who`s been through it. We`ll have them be the legal point person and the spokesperson. And that is the right strategy.

TODD: It all makes sense if the principal can allow it to --


TODD: Bill Clinton could compartmentalize, can Donald Trump?

PAGE: And Reagan had some trouble compartmentalizing to any (INAUDIBLE.) They just made him stop talking about it. And the question is, is it possible for anyone to make Donald Trump stop answering questions or even volunteer --

KUMAR: And I think it`s in his nature to be a micromanager and this is the antithesis of that. So, he has to show discipline. And that`s been difficult for him.

TODD: That compartmentalization, it`s going to be a huge focus, I think, going over the next six months.

You guys are sticking around.

Coming up though, we`re going to focus on the tragedy on the other side of the Atlantic. Manchester is mourning as new details of that deadly terror attack emerge. I`ll talk with the U.K.`s ambassador to the United States right here on set and to a terrorism expert about where the investigation in the U.K. goes from here.


TODD: Welcome back.

We`re used to President Trump using colloquialisms and schoolyard insults. But today, he used what feels like an odd childish putdown when referring to the terrorist attack in Manchester, England that killed at least 22 people.


TRUMP: So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers in life. I won`t call them monsters, because they would like that term. They would think that`s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that`s what they are. They`re losers.


TODD: Change in rhetoric comes after another one earlier this week, when the president backed away from the phrase, radical Islamic terrorism, when giving a speech in Saudi Arabia. That phrase was a centerpiece of Trump`s presidential campaign and he the frequently criticized Hillary Clinton for not saying it, when talking about the fight against terror. But he never said it while in Saudi Arabia.

We`ll be back in 60 seconds.


TODD: Welcome back.

Moments ago, British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the terror threat level in the U.K. to critical. That`s the highest level the U.K. has. It follows last night`s terror attack that killed 22 people and injured 59 others after a concert at Manchester arena.

Now today, police have identified only two of the victims, ages 8 and 18. This afternoon, British officials identified the bombing suspect as the 22- year-old Salman Ramadan Abedi. Authorities are now questioning his 23- year-old brother.

Investigators do not know if there was any coordination between the bomber and a terrorist network, though ISIS has claimed responsibility.

Here now in the United Kingdom`s ambassador to the United States, Kim Darroch. Ambassador, thanks for coming in.

KIM DARROCH, U.K. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Thanks for having me.

TODD: Let`s start with what we know about this investigation. I know it`s in the early stages yet. Investigators convinced that this was, sort of, an ISIS -- if not ISIS-directed, ISIS inspired.

DARROCH: Chuck, it`s been less than 24 hours since the appalling atrocity of last night in Manchester. Investigators have said it was an act of terrorism. Who is responsible is still to -- I mean, the organization behind it, if there was one, is still to be determined.

There are 400 odd police officers working on this. We will get to the truth of the matter. It will be a very complete, very thorough, very intense investigation. But it`s too early to draw conclusions.

TODD: The prime minister raised the terror threat level. It was already - - you guys were already at a heightened level. And you have an alert system. The United States scrapped theirs. We had the color-coded system there for a while. That`s been scrapped.

What do -- what are you asking citizens to do when they hear that? When you hear that level, what does that mean to the average U.K. citizen?

DARROCH: This is a well-practiced procedure. We were last at this level in June 2007. What it means is that armed police officers will now be released to conduct, to support the investigation. And. in some cases, they will be replaced by armed troops, all under the command of the -- of the police. And we`re asking citizens to be extra vigilant, extra alert.

But this is an appropriate response, decided in the Cobra meeting this afternoon, the specialist can that looks at the threat. The prime minister just announced it, as you say.

I used to sit on that committee when I was national security adviser so I know how this goes. It`s the response to specialist advice to people who understand the terrorist threat.

TODD: So, it means -- it`s more of a resource dedication decision, meaning this is -- we`re appropriating more resources for X, Y and Z.

DARROCH: Well, it means there will be more visible presence on the streets.

TODD: So don`t be alarmed.


TODD: Well, be a little alarmed.

DARROCH: It actually releases more officers to conduct the investigation. Obviously, the investigation is key to where we go next.

TODD: Now, look, it`s still part of the investigation, but there`s some early concern that this is somebody that basically -- a British citizen that went to fight, I think in Libya, there`s some potential connection there.

How concerned is the May administration now of this foreign fighter issue? That those coming -- obviously, it`s been a big concern here in the United States.

DARROCH: Yes. Terrorism is a global threat, as the president said in his speech in Riyadh a couple of days ago. And there are people who have been abroad, who get radicalized abroad. There are people who get radicalized online at home. You see both phenomena.

We -- it`s too early to draw conclusions about this particular case and how this individual got radicalized. That will come out as the investigation is completed.

TODD: New security procedures. Any extra security procedures, besides raising the terror threat level? When we see -- we see, it looks like, he didn`t get into the arena itself. But it looks like he got into the perimeter. But what does this mean? New security? What would happen next to protect the public?

DARROCH: Well, first of all, as I`ve said, the public will be -- will be encouraged to be as alert as possible. We will have to learn the lessons, if there are lessons to learn from this.

I oughtn`t to jump to conclusions in advance of that. We already have, I think, exceptional professional security services and police force. So, I think, you know, we are well positioned to cope with the threat.

And as the prime minister said just now, they`re not going to win, the terrorists. Our values will prevail. But we need to look and see what happened in Manchester and see where we go from here.

TODD: Final question. Obviously, trying to win over hearts and minds is going to be a part of this campaign. Because you could say, with some of these individuals, we`re losing the hearts and minds to potential radicalization. What is the right way to combat this?

DARROCH: We need to be as vigilant and as professional as possible about stopping the threat, stopping -- you know, I think we`ve stopped half a dozen, actually, more plots in the last -- in the last couple of years.

But also, it`s a question of ensuring that we work with our Muslim communities, that they have champions who support our values and who represent those values to the rest of the communities.

So, it`s got to be both sides of the equation.

TODD: All right, Kim Darroch, Ambassador to the United States from the U.K. Thanks for coming on, sir.

DARROCH: Thank you very much.

TODD: And condolences to you.

DARROCH: Thank you.

TODD: Evan Kohlmann is an NBC News terrorism analyst and co-founder of "Flashpoint."

So, Evan, what you saw here, how -- this felt more similar to many events we`ve seen recently, whether it`s the Turkey airport bombing, in some way. Is that the most similar incident, and yet -- and it`s also similar into the idea of a lone -- of a lone actor getting radicalized locally and acting locally, not globally.

EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think there is one problem with that thesis. I think, you know, it`s possible. But the question is, is that if this is a lone actor, this is someone who is self- radicalized, how did he manage to put together an explosive device that was so, you know, unfortunately, successful? And that it was successful on what appears to be the first try.

If you look at the Tsarnaev brothers up during the Boston marathon bombings, most of the explosives they put together never detonated. They failed to go off. And the ones that did, mercifully killed very few people. This one killed a lot. And it was very effective.

And, again, a 22-year-old guy for -- that lives in the U.K., that has limited access to explosives or explosive-making techniques. How did he manage to do this all on his own? That`s the part that doesn`t make a lot of sense. It`s not easy to build explosives. It`s not easy to build bombs at home. It`s possible. It`s just not likely.

TODD: Well, look, I wasn`t suggesting that he self-radicalized and self- did anything. But there seems to be some sort of in between here, right? Where you have more and more -- and we`ve seen ISIS propaganda say this, right, which is this idea of, hey, act in your community. You can be more effective that way. Act in your community.

And so, have we found evidence yet, when they self-radicalize, that they actually, then, actively help to then train a self-Internet radicalized suspect?

KOHLMANN: You bet. You bet. I mean, there was a guy from the U.K., Junaid Hussain, who went over to Syria and was part of ISIS and was using the Internet to send back instructions to folks here in the United States and in the U.K., giving them advice about how to carry out terrorist attacks. And, in fact, several of those individuals, in fact, did carry out terrorist attacks.

So, if you look at the communique that claim responsibility for ISIS for this latest attack in Manchester, there is good reason to believe that whoever wrote that communique was not familiar with the intimate details of what happened. There is no mention of a suicide bomber. There is no specification about what kind of explosives or how it was used. It`s kind of a very generic claim of credit. It could have been written by anyone who read the newspaper.

So, while I -- it`s certainly very likely that this individual had some kind of assistance. You know, there is that suggestion that this is at least part -- done, in part, independently. And we just very recently, on May 4th, ISIS issued a call in English to its western supporters, people living in the U.S. and the U.K., calling on them to carry out attacks on soft targets, including very specifically concert halls.

So, I think we`re going to be looking at that list of targets that they put out just a few weeks ago. And I think it`s going to be incumbent upon the rest of us to look at that list and say, are there any other things that are on this list that we should be looking at maybe securing a little bit better than we had before? Because there is that active hunt for people here in the west, both in the U.S. and the U.K., who are willing to carry out attacks at the behest of ISIS.

TODD: All right. Last question, where is this headed? Is it any group where there`s 500 or more, we`re going to a magnet orometer now? I mean, what`s going to be the line when it comes that type of security? Under -- we`re already seeing it at sporting events in this country, in some concerts where there`s magnetometers now. Is that the future?

KOHLMANN: Well, look, I mean, in the U.K., it`s amazing. I mean, they really do, generally, have very tight security around these venues.

It`s impossible to secure everything. I mean, they can`t put metal detectors in the parking lot. And if they did, there`s plenty of other soft targets. I mean, ISIS has been even talking about carrying out attacks at public swimming pools.

How are we going to predict every single public swimming pool in the United States, in the U.K.? It`s not possible. Unfortunately, that`s what these folks have realized. It`s much more successful for them to go after soft targets that we can`t possibly fully protect than trying to carry out another 9/11, which has a very low probability of success.

So far, most of the attacks we`ve seen have been low scale. This was not low scale. Let`s hope that this is not the trend, because if this is a case, it`s very difficult to prevent attacks like this and obviously, if you see the casualties coming out of Manchester, it`s just shocking. It`s very, very sad to see this. And it`s difficult to conceive of how anyone could be so inhuman as to target little children.

TODD: Target pre-teens and teenagers, absolutely. Evan Kohlmann, NBC security analyst. Evan, thanks very much. Just ahead, the Senate Intel Committee weighs its options after Michael Flynn`s decision to plead the Fifth. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the intel committee, joins us next.


TODD: Up next, Senator Susan Collins on the intel committee`s next move in their Russia investigation. First, Hampton Pearson with the "CNBC Market Wrap."

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Chuck. We had stocks climbing for a fourth session with banks leading the way. The Dow gaining 43 points. The S&P up 4. The Nasdaq rising by 5 points.

Stocks on Wall Street got a boost following the release of President Trump`s proposed 2018 budget, with plans to slash federal spending by $3.6 trillion over the next 10 years.

New home sales tumbling 11.4 percent in April, the biggest drop in more than two years. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.


TODD: Welcome back. Senate Intelligence Committee is now responding to former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, invoking his Fifth Amendment right. Rather than comply with their subpoena for documents. In the past hour, the committee`s top members announced they are now sending a letter to Flynn`s lawyer, questioning if he can invoke the Fifth Amendment over documents.

Chairman Burr says the committee is leaving all options on the table, including a contempt charge, to get this information from Flynn. Flynn`s lawyer says their client has been subject to, quote, outrageous allegations and a reminder, Flynn had asked for immunity in exchange for testimony and now is dealing with the subpoena.

Joining me now is Maine Republican senator, Susan Collins. She is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Good afternoon, Senator Collins.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Good afternoon, Chuck.

TODD: Let me start with what the chair and vice chair of your committee announced going up to corporations. I take it you conquer, you do not believe you can invoke Fifth Amendment rights based on giving you documents that were created before any of these allegations happened.

COLLINS: There`s some real legal issue here. And I believe that the committee is right to challenge General Flynn`s claim of Fifth Amendment protections for these documents. In the meantime, the committee is issuing another subpoena for his business documents, which may give us the information that we need and where there`s a pretty clear argument that they would not be protected by any claim of Fifth Amendment privilege.

TODD: How much is this holding up the investigation right now?

COLLINS: It`s not really holding us up much, as much as we would like to have these documents, because we`re proceeding to issue many other requests for documents from other people who are involved. Our staff has conducted some 30 interviews and we`ve been reviewing information, intelligence information, at CIA headquarters in Langley.

TODD: Is Mike Flynn the only subpoena you`ve issued?

COLLINS: No, it is not. But I can`t tell you the names of the others that have been issued, but there have been other subpoenas issued. And also, and this is important, there have been requests made or demands made that no documents can be destroyed. That documents have to be preserved.

TODD: Right. So, walk me through this process. So, for instance, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, have turned over some documents. You didn`t make a subpoena yet to them. You made a request. Is that how this has worked? You make a request. If you deny the request, then you vote as a committee on whether to subpoena?

COLLINS: Generally the way this works is we ask for voluntary cooperation first. That makes sense, to give people the opportunity from the interview and to provide documents on a voluntary basis. If that doesn`t work, then the chairman and the vice chairman are authorized to issue subpoenas for the interviews and the documents.

If that doesn`t work, then we`re going to be entering into a period where we work with the special council to make sure that we`re not interfering with his attempt to pursue any criminal case that could be warranted. Our operation, our investigation is into the counterintelligence aspects of this case.

TODD: So, does that mean you`re going to -- how aggressively are you going to pursue this story in "The Washington Post" about the White House, supposedly the president calling up the DNI head, Dan Coats, NSA head Mike Rogers, and looking for them to confirm or come out with a statement that says there was no collusion?

COLLINS: We certainly would like to hear whether that was done, but I`m sure that the special council will want to, also, as he evaluates whether or not criminal charges are warranted in this very complex case. But I do want to make a distinction on why we need two investigations.

Only the special council can determine whether or not criminal charges are ultimately warranted. But only congress could pass a law to increase the sanctions on the Russian government, if we find, as I believe that we will, that Russia did have a very active campaign to influence our elections last fall.

TODD: Senator, in two different answers, you have said, you`ve got to check with the special counsel`s office, make sure this doesn`t run into what they`re doing. That -- the special counsel investigation, that is going to slow down your investigation, it sounds like, is that fair to say?

COLLINS: It`s going to slow it down a little bit, but I don`t think that it in any way removes the need for our investigation and already, the chairman and the vice chairman are in the midst of working out a system for consultation with the special counsel. So my hope that that will move along quite quickly and that we will come to an agreement on certain guideposts.

TODD: Do you -- how cooperative -- would you describe Manafort and Stone right now as being cooperative with your investigation?

COLLINS: Well, they have been more cooperative than General Flynn, certainly.

TODD: Well, that`s a low bar right now.

(LAUGHTER) COLLINS: That`s true. But we`ve -- we still have a lot of work to do. I don`t mean to imply that we have everything that we need from any of the characters. TODD: Joe Lieberman, I know you were very close to him when you were in the senate. You guys worked very closely together in the Homeland Security Committee for years. A lot of your colleagues are uncomfortable with an elected official at the FBI. Where are you on this? You must be torn.

COLLINS: I don`t want to see someone who is currently in public office, but Joe has been out of the senate for a number of years. He`s a former attorney general of Connecticut. He has an intelligence and homeland security background.

We worked very closely with Bob Mueller, when we chaired and co-chaired the Homeland Security Committee. So, I`m a fan of Joe Lieberman. He has unquestioned integrity and that`s what we need. I would not be pushing for him if he were currently a senator.

TODD: Fair enough.

COLLINS: . but he`s not and I think he would be great.

TODD: All right. Senator Collins, I`ll put you down as a "yes" on the Lieberman column there.

COLLINS: You can.

TODD: As always, thanks for coming on. Good to talk to you.

COLLINS: Thank you, Chuck.

TODD: You got it. Up ahead on "The Lid," how are the president`s biggest supporters? Could they end up the biggest losers under his budget proposal? That`s right, the budget was rolled out today.


TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed with James Bond and the actors who played him. Roger Moore, James Bond in seven movies, died today at the age of 89. Moore played the suave British secret service agent with a license to kill and a talent for women over 12-year period. From "Live and Let Die" in 1973 to "A View to a Kill" in 1985, and that got us thinking, everyone generationally has their own Bond, James Bond, who you think of as 007 probably depends on how old you are.

Trust me, we went through this at our staff meeting today. Sean Connery was the original Bond in the `60s and the early `70s. He created them all. So if you`re older than 50, Connery`s probably your man. Shake a Nutster (ph). David Niven and George Lazenby each did one Bond movie, but they`re largely forgotten. Then came Roger Moore.

And if you`re like me and in your 40s, Moore is your Bond. As one of which way we put it, Generation X lost its James Bond today. It always seemed to me that Moore was the Rodney Dangerfield of bonds. He didn`t get any respect. He had the misfortune of being like Larry Holmes, the heavyweight boxing champ forgotten between Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, and yet has all the records.

Moore was crowded on both sides by Connery before him and Pierce Brosnan after him. James Bond can defeat anyone, except, perhaps, another James Bond. But like Holmes, Moore was a great champ. Just ask his Bond girls. Solitaire, Mary Goodnight, Major Anya Amasova, Holly Goodhead, Melina Havelock, Stacey Sutton and the character played by Maud Adams, whose character`s name is not appropriate for family television.

So let`s give Gen X`s James Bond his due today. He did as many Bond films as anyone, and he sure knew how to wear a tux and capture a bad guy at the same time. Back in a moment. Until then, I remain Todd, Chuck Todd.



TRUMP: Save Medicare, Medicaid and social security without cuts. Have to do it. I will do everything within my power not to touch social security, to leave it the way it is. It`s my absolute intention to leave social security the way it is, not increase the age and to leave it as is.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Those campaign promises some are saying are not matching up with President Trump`s first budget proposal which takes aim at some of those very programs. Our panel is back; Maria Teresa Kumar, Susan Page, and Sara Fagen. First of all, Sara, let me start with you. This is in the first time in the modern era since presidents introduced their budgets, that a presidential budget was introduced with the president out of the country.

FAGEN: Right.

TODD: This doesn`t seem like an administration that is interested in selling this budget.

FAGEN: I don`t know if that`s the case or if it was planned or it is just the way it worked out on the schedule. But, you know, it really felt to me like a budget that had Director Mulvaney`s imprint on it very, very heavily.

TODD: And not Donald Trump`s.

FAGEN: It felt much more like Director Mulvaney put that budget than Donald Trump.


KUMAR: When the cat is away, the mice will play, right?

TODD: It`s funny I had my partner in crime, Mark Murray on "First Read," Susan, it`s like -- the RNC statement is like, who is running message in the RNC? Donald Trump`s Republican Party or Paul Ryan? And Mick Mulvaney did a Paul Ryan budget to (inaudible).

PAGE: Hey, this budget is an orphan.


PAGE: You know what strikes me is not that he violated some of his campaign promises, it`s that he laid out cuts and hurt his own voters, rural voters, low-income voters, people who rely on food stamps, who rely on Medicaid. The deepest cut in his budget I bet is Medicaid. Billions and billions of dollars is going to affect millions of people.

TODD: But there was a response in Capitol Hill. I mean, even Mitch McConnell said, well, it`s a recommendation, which, by the way, McConnell would say about any budget.


KUMAR: I mean, in all fair, I was on Capitol Hill today to see Cory Booker and Menendez and they said it was dead on arrival. That`s when it first trickle in. And then Lindsey Graham said it was dead on arrival (inaudible) McCain. So, for the very first time, you see bipartisan support for something.

TODD: Wait a minute. Barack Obama`s budget used to lose 97-0 in those resolutions too. I mean, it is standard practice for congress to say president`s budgets are dead. PAGE: (inaudible) matters if they can`t get a budget through, they can`t get budget reconciliation to do the tax plan, and then they can`t get a tax.

KUMAR: And that is why Paul Ryan really wants -- he was the one that was much more enthusiastic.

FAGEN: He was enthusiastic. And I do think that while some of these programs clearly will stay in place and should stay in place, directionally, it is where the Republican Party wants to go. It`s not necessarily that the party wants to cut Medicaid but the party wants to see.

TODD: I say this because I agree with you.

FAGEN: Okay, I see where you are going.

TODD: This feels like the club for growth wing of the party. The populist Donald Trump wing is in a different place. And that`s the part of this budget that is sort of -- I think a lot of us are struggling with.

FAGEN: I don`t entirely agree with that. I think certainly I agree with you it`s more Mulvaney and club for growth than maybe traditional Republican but the Republican Party would like to balance the budget.

They would like to see spending cuts. They would actually like to go broader than where Donald Trump is going relative to social security and Medicare. And so directionally, I think there`s something that they can work with.

KUMAR: But I think one of the things that they also highlighted was everyone from the peers -- Larry Summers saying that one of the reasons it`s dead on arrival because the math doesn`t add up. This idea that there`s actually going to be balance in 10 years doesn`t make sense.

TODD: Susan, he`s not out there selling his own budget today. That matters.

PAGE: Oh, yeah. He`s not in the country. Could he have gone farther away when his budget came out? He`s not coming back to the country to do the kind of stamping that other presidents have sometimes done for their budget. TODD: There`s usually one pet issue that they want to get no matter what and they go and sell it. PAGE: And he doesn`t do a serious job at balancing the budget either.

KUMAR: Right.

TODD: All right. We`re going to have to leave it there. The budget normally would have gotten a lot more attention. There is so much going on. Thank you all. After the break, a look at some swamp monsters.


TODD: In case you missed it, candidate Trump really wanted to drain the swamp.

(START VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: When we win tomorrow, we are going to drain the swamp. Drain the swamp. Drain the swamp. Drain the swamp.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: But in case you missed it, President Trump seems much more interested in talking about draining the swamp than he is actually draining the swamp or even conducting a census of the animals in the swamp. In fact, he`s got an untold number swamp creatures or lobbyist as we call them in polite society working in his administration right now.

And the number is untold because the administration won`t tell us. The White House is actively blocking the office of government at its efforts to find out the names of former lobbyists who have been granted waivers to work in the White House or other federal agencies. A watchdog group is suing to get those conflict of interest waivers. Maybe it`s all in the up and up.

Maybe the swamp creatures are flamingos and not gators. We can`t know unless we see the paperwork. Transparency, transparency, transparency. By the way, if you think anyone is going to abide by the president`s voluntary five-year lobbying ban for people who decided to work in the administration and then leave, I`ve got some fine Washington, D.C., swampland to sell you.

That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." "For the Record" with Greta though starts right now. Greta, take it away.