Day 740: Trump's intel chiefs contradict Trump on national security threats
Tonight. A remarkable sight the nation's combined intelligence chiefs all in one place all of them in disagreement with the president of the United States. No mention of any crisis at our southern border. Instead some dire threats from places like North Korea, Russia, China, Iran, and ISIS, the Roger stone show moved to Washington where here Pierce before a federal judge with a plea of not guilty right before he did the Nixon wave outside of court where his next appearance is three days from now, and where the judge might not take too kindly to Roger stone the event, and the increased isolation of Donald Trump a veteran Washington. Journalists walks us through just how many people have chosen to walk out of this west wing as the eleventh hour gets underway on Tuesday night. Well, good evening. Once again from our NBC news headquarters here in New York day, seven forty of the Trump administration gave us a stark picture today. And a stark view of the reality of the world, we live in that's because today our top combined intelligence chiefs, the people who define their job as keeping us safe. The director of national intelligence the FBI the CIA presented their annual worldwide threat assessment to congress serious business their assessment of nearly every major threat is vastly different from what we have heard from their boss. Our president. This was essentially a public repudiation by his own people of Donald Trump's world view in particular, what he has said about Russia, North Korea, Iran, and ISIS Trump has gone to great lengths to avoid casting. Russia and Putin as adversaries for starters. Here. Now, a reminder of what he has said about the Kremlin's efforts to interfere in our elections and society, and what his intelligence team said today. I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today is Russia's still targeting president. Crumlin is stepping up its campaign to divide western political, insecurity institutions, we expect Russia will continue to wage its information war against democracies into use social media to attempt to divide our societies. Not only the Russians continued to do it in two thousand eighteen but we've seen indication that they're continued to adapt their model and the other countries are taking a very interested. I in that approach even as the Intel chiefs laid out the threat from Russia today, we learn that Trump has apparently had another previously undisclosed private exchange with flat, Amir Putin. That's an addition to a similar exchange back in twenty seventeen the summit in Germany and their one on one in Helsinki. This is from the financial times they're reporting today, quoting a Russian government official that Trump and Putin talk for about fifteen minutes at the last g twenty gathering and Argentina and that they discussed. A number of foreign policy issues. The paper reports that once again, no translator. Or no taker from the US team was present. And the State Department has declined to discuss any details of the meeting. Well, today, the director of national intelligence was asked about these private meetings. According to press reports Donald Trump met privately with Ladimir Putin. And no one in the US government has the full story about what was discussed director hassle and director coats would this put you in a disadvantage position in terms of understanding. Russia's efforts to advance its agenda against the United States. Look forward to discussing that in a closed session. The Intel chiefs had sobering assessments of North Korea's intentions toward the US. Trump for his part expects to hold his second meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong own late next month in a second round of talks aimed at getting rid of nuclear weapons, again, please note, the differences here between Trump and his intelligence community. We have with North Korea. We have a very. Good dialogue. I'm going to not go any further than that. I've just going to say it's very special. We've made a lot of progress that has not been reported by the media, but we have made a lot of progress North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities in his unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because it's leaders alternately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival. The regime is committed to developing a long range nuclear arm missile that would pose a direct threat to the United States. Another topic now on the threat from ISIS. There was also a big Gulf between the view from the west wing and what we heard today. We have one against ISIS. We've beaten them and we've beaten a badly working out very well knocking the hell out of ISIS. The group has returned to its guerrilla warfare roots while continuing to plot attacks and directed supporters worldwide ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria and on Iran. The Intel chief say Tehran is still abiding by the nuclear deal despite the US withdraw even though the president continues to criticize it what we've done to Iran since I've become president is rather miraculously, I ended the horrible week Iran nuclear deal at the moment, technically, they're in compliance. But we do see them debating amongst themselves as they failed to realize the economic benefits they hope for from the deal. Notably. Absent today any word from the. Intel chiefs to back up what the president just addressed the nation about from the Oval Office first time in his presidency, a crisis at our southern border with Mexico. Remember that the New York Times reports this about the written report that accompanies their accompanied their testimony today at the hearing, quote, notably missing in the written review was evidence that would support building a wall on the south western border. The first mention of Mexico and drug cartels was published nearly halfway through the report following a range of more pressing threats earlier on this network. The vice chair of the Senate Intel committee was asked about the disconnect when viewing threats to the US. I think you've got the intelligence community giving virtually unanimous conclusions on some of these key key areas, and we have unfortunately, a case where it appears that this president doesn't want to hear the truth or doesn't actually reflect the opinions of the intelligence community and that puts us in a challenging position. Let's bring in our leadoff panel. Shall we for a Tuesday evening, Philip Rucker Pulitzer prize winning White House bureau chief for the Washington Post? Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence win the past has worked for Mr Robert Muller. And Mika oh Yang veteran. Washington. Attorney former staffer for the house Intel and armed services committees. Good evening and welcome to you both Frank you have run Intel I have not. But then I ran across this sentence in their prepared report tonight. And this gets your attention. Makes you want to check the calendar that it's not nineteen sixty-nine China and Russia are more aligned than at any point since the mid nineteen fifties and the relation. Ship is likely to strengthen in the coming year as some of their interests and threat perceptions converge. Again, given your experience in the job Frank what stood out to you today? Most. As someone who has actually helped Taraf the counter intelligence portion of these reports in past years that phrase jumped off the page at me, Brian the notion that our number one and number two adversaries, China and Russia are now collaborating more than they have in half a century working together against us was very very sobering. For me, those combined forces are are a major threat to the United States when they trained together when they do ops together when they align their strategies and objectives together, we're going to get a double barrelled approach toward the United States in the west during a time when perhaps we have the most ill-equipped president from receptivity wise to the intelligence community ever in our history that is significant end the testimony today from our intelligence chiefs, presented more than ever before the. Parity the growing disparity between the ground truth that they presented and the planet that this president lives on and it begs the question, Brian is this a president who not only is part of an unstable world that an unstable time. But is he rather contributing to the instability of the world because of his choice to ignore the Intel from the career professionals makeup, please help to explain this disconnect to the folks watching tonight you've been in your share of Washington briefings, would the president not be briefed given a copy of at least they're written testimony. Have it read to him? Have it conveyed to him in some way? Not that. That would explain the disconnect. Now, it doesn't explain the disconnect, and it is actually quite troubling. Because this assessment that we saw today is the some summary of all the intelligence reporting that the community is producing all the time every day and the president's day. Early brief should reflect all of these judgments all the time. So this point all senior administration officials have heard this on multiple occasions. And so not agreeing with these conclusions is willful disregard of the facts as the intelligence community has been gathering them for over the past year. And really since the start of this administration, and Phil Rucker think of the coverage newspaper business in the television business gave this president's Oval Office address. You'll recall we all build it correctly as his first use of the backdrop the power of the Oval Office for a nationwide address, we covered it or tried to straight down the middle that topic the national emergency. We were facing as a people nowhere to be found on the list of their top security priorities today. That's right, Brian. And it goes beyond that one night in the Oval Office for the last forty odd as President Trump has only been talking about one crisis. And that's the crisis that he. Sees at at the southern border with illegal immigration, and yet we heard today from the intelligence professionals from the people that President Trump himself appointed to lead our nation's intelligence agencies that there are much greater crises. Elsewhere that there's a crisis in North Korea that there's a crisis in Syria still with ISIS that there's a crisis with Iran, and that there's a real growing crisis with China and Russia perhaps converging to really do danger and harm to our country. And President Trump has not spoken about any of that we've heard over and over and over again about the security and humanitarian crisis with Mexico about the rapes about the murders about the people who are coming over the drug lords that are bringing narcotics over the border. But we've not heard him focusing on those either global threats, and indeed he's been talking a lot lately about how great the relationship is between him and Kim Jong UN and North Korea talking about how North Korea's no longer pursuing nuclear weapons. They are no longer a nuclear threat, and that is simply not true based on the intelligence assessments that we heard today in congress Frank I projected, I surmised at the top of the broadcast tonight that if you ask these three professionals who testified today bottom line of their job description, and what they probably feel in their private hours at home in the evening is protecting the American people at the end of the day bottom line. My question to you is what's it like to do that job? When at worst, you have your work contradicted or ignored. And at best your work is let's just say minimized by this president. Creates a scenario Brian where your adversary is not just the bad guys around the world. But rather you begin to start feeling the White House as your adversary? You want to believe that that chief executive has your back if you act in good faith, you want to know that the boss has got your back. And I don't think that feeling is there, and it's going to translate into budget requests, not being backed by the president. When you read the sobering report when you hear the testimony today, and you look at the cyber security risk. We're facing well into the future well into the twenty twenty election that takes money that takes resources and to make that happen. You need the chief executive officer of the United States to say, I've got you. I've got your back. I want congress to fund you. And we don't see that happening. Meek coming off of francs point. I wanna play you exactly the portion where the. Rector of national intelligence. Dan Coats, talked about the danger to our next presidential election. We'll discuss on the other side, we assess that foreign actors will view the twenty twenty US elections as an opportunity to advance their interests. We expect them to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other's experiences and efforts in previous elections and make a how cannot not be a national emergency. And it's certainly a national emergency, especially when you couple that with our understanding of what Russia's intentions are for the United States, which are to sow chaos and discord, and when you look at what this present policies have done seven. So in this report that his policies are in fact, driving our allies away from us. You can see how foreign adversaries who want to bring America. Low would work very hard to see that this presence reign of chaos continues. And that is really troubling for Americans who would like to return the country back to a path of stability and leadership in the world back to you. Frank briefly just to get your level of concern about twenty twenty and do you feel a kind of generic concern over the integrity of our presidential election? Do you feel that worsens if Donald Trump's on the ticket? I think the cat's out of the bag with regard to the ability of our adversaries, and their understanding now that they can mess with our election outcomes. Let me put it this way just merely messing with our perception of the credibility of the electoral process is enough to throw us into chaos perhaps in twenty twenty. And as the chiefs said today, they they are Morphing their their methodology. They've learned their mistakes, they were very sloppy and blatant in some regards, right, we've indicted over two dozen Russians for social media propaganda hacking. So they're getting better and better at getting it. Right. And we're we seem to be still stumbling to find our way on how to defeat this threat. And without the backing of the Oval Office to do it. We're behind the curve, Phil Rucker. You get the last word tonight wasn't this day kind of quintessential emblematic for the administration. You have the rigor of office and response. Ability, and the weight of these titles and all their life experience in this testimony today at the other end of town, we look at a White House silent on this topic. That may indeed decide when we wake up tomorrow or overnight tonight to go off in another direction on any one of these fronts. That's exactly right, Brian in and another front is that the possibility that the president might declare a national emergency at the border in order to use his executive authority to redirect money from other defense projects toward building the wall and fulfilling that signature campaign promise that it's probably. I don't believe that the the intelligence officials testified to this today, but it's safe to guess that that would be a potentially disturbing prospect to them because they're dealing and facts in sort of intelligence gathered on the ground. They see a lot of cause for concern. Elsewhere around the world, and what you have in President Trump is a commander in chief who's focused. So exclusively at the moment on the wall on fulfilling that promise on keeping his political base together. And it's considering this national emergency declaration, which could happen any day. Now, a really serious day and our country just heard expressed by our three terrific initial guests tonight, Phil Rucker, Frank Figliuzzi, Mako Yang. Thank you, all three of you. For starting often coming up as expected Roger stone pleads not guilty in court today. He then called into one of his favourite talk shows describing the case against him as a lynching just how will that go over with the feds who are watching and listening and later a freshman member of the house of represent. Gives already in a position of power. She is with us tonight. With a preview of what the president can expect the eleventh hour just getting started on a Tuesday evening. The truth of the matter is that even though I'm accused of lying when I get Adam Schiff on this, Dan when I get Eric's well on this day, and when I get other members of that committee on the stand I'll demonstrate that they're the ones who are lying. Not me. That's from Fox News tonight. Just within the past hour, President Trump's friend of forty years Roger stone appeared in federal court today. For to make out all that's being said there, but he entered core through a crowd of both supporters and protesters in court he entered via his lawyer plea of not guilty to seven counts including obstruction witness tampering. Lying the charges stem from the Muller investigation into Russia before during and after the hearing stone said very little a departure from the kaleidoscopic appearances. He has made in different venues different outfits on different networks since his arrest before dawn on Friday stone did manage to get his signature Nixon wave in then about an hour after the hearing stone called into the conspiracy. Theorist Alex Jones on info wars to once. Again, trash the case against him. This is this is a legal lynching of me because you're impo wars because I'm friends with Alex Jones 'cause I support Donald Trump on it supported import president. And I still support it. Let's talk about it in back with us to do that tonight. Two of our best on this topic. Julia, Ainsley NBC news, national security and Justice reporter was stationed outside court for today's proceedings and Chris mcgarry and reporter for the times who has been detailed to DC exclusively to cover Russia's special special counsel, Robert Muller, he managed to get a seat inside the courtroom today. So we have it all covered, and Chris I'd like to begin with you after this kind of traveling. Roger stone's show that even first time viewers have come to know since just Friday, even if you haven't seen the Netflix documentary, what was his bearing and demeanor like in a federal courtroom that can serious you up really fast. Inside the courtroom. It was unlike any setting that we've seen Roger stone in he walked in very quietly. He said almost nothing he was very subdued. And that's not how you expect to see Roger stone. He's very bombastic. He's very loud. He's prone to say outrageous things the only things we heard him saying courts they were. Yes, your honor. And that was just about it. Julia. I wanna play for you, a more of what Roger stone said to info wars today. We'll talk about it on the other side. Could related to the government will move to gag me. But if I hurry to remain silent under the constitution. I also have a right to defend myself, and I make a living writing. And speaking speaking, Iran info wars, so they would be depriving me of making a living. If I am entirely guy. So we will we will oppose that. Julia. We love the word kaleidoscopic. And that also describes the power that federal judges have they have kaleidoscopic powers in our society. Let's talk about the possibility that the next time he goes into court on Friday, he gets hit with a gag order. It seems like he's gunning for it Brian. I mean today he just went before a magistrate judge for simple arraignment tomorrow on Friday. He'll go to Amy Berman Jackson. She's the same judge is overseeing the Manafort case in that court. She's known to want to keep things sort of insular in her courtroom. She does a lot of meetings at the bench. She keeps a lot classified. She always. Approves things under seal. She knows how high profile and how important the molar case is. And so it would seem that she could move toward a gag order, especially as he goes out and continues to talk about the case continues to drum up support. You could see the tension today between the stone supporters and those who are against him outside of court and the idea that he makes his living off of talking. I mean, yes, you can you can gag someone from not talking about the case, maybe not gag them from talking entirely, but it shouldn't be anybody's living to talk about the case in which they are defendant in a criminal trial that seems like it would be hard to do. So at this point, the only people he's not allowed to talk to or witnesses in the case. And that is pretty a pretty easy conclusion. We can see why the judges have drawn that so far because of the incredible intimidation that he gave to witnesses to try to keep them from testifying to congress that was. On the indictment, but it could be when he goes to court on Friday that we see an actual gag order where he's not allowed to talk about this anymore. Julia up been one day ask you about this theory that a seven count indictment was designed to get them in get him into the system that our favorite phrase that pays superseding indictment may becoming with something more substantial sizable, can you give the lay people's version of that explanation? We have seen superseding indictments in other defendants that have faced charges under special counsel Muller. Rick gates, Paul Manafort, come to mind, a lot of times is when they're combining different districts in their investigations together or they have one cooperating witness whose given up more information with Roger stood. I don't want to speculate that there's necessarily more there because I still have a hard time. Understanding why Muller wouldn't make that connection. If he had it in the Friday indictment that we saw that he knew the Roger stone knew that WikiLeaks was getting its information from Russia and that he was there. For conspiring with a foreign government to influence an election that seems like something he would have brought, but fed a lot of experts who've come on throughout this time since isn't diamond who say that maybe it is more. But the reason you might you might not included all would be if you're trying to get more cooperation from the very beginning. Roger stone has not seemed like a cooperative witness under any circumstances. In fact, he's making his living as he says by saying that he won't cooperate. Chris. I'm going to ask you hope. This doesn't call a call for a judgment on your part. But you cover all of this. We had Whitaker under the very hot French fry lights of the department of Justice briefing room yesterday. And then we have this scene today. This doesn't look again to us lay folks in the audience like Muller effort that's fixing to ramp up. It doesn't. I mean, you could you could argue it's so hard to tell because the Russian investigation has been something of a black box. And it's hard to really get a clear view of what's happening. You could argue that because Robert Muller hasn't laid out a more extensive case against Roger stone. The what he has so far that there isn't anything else there, and that may be the end of the line for the Muller investigation. But there really are. So many unanswered questions that we still have things involving Mike Flynn's things involving Rick gates things involving Paul Manafort, it's hard to imagine that Robert Mueller can tie this all with a bow in the next coming weeks or even maybe in the next month or so. It seems like there's a lot of strings left a poll, and we don't know what else prosecuted could find is a search. Roger stone's homes, as they maybe even find a way to, you know, get some cooperation have I mean, he says that he won't bear false witness against the president. But he's not ruled out talking to them in some manner. And you never really know what's going to happen with these things. It's pretty unusual for any Justice department official to give time on a federal investigation. Let alone one where no time given whatsoever. So far, it's great to be able to talk to the two of you on this case as we hope to continue doing Julia Ainsley Christmas area. Thank you both for coming on with us tonight. And coming up one of the few the new faces on Capitol Hill already is the new vice chair of the very powerful house committee. That's about to launch investigations into the Trump White House. She is with us live when we come back. The midterm elections. Brought a lot of new faces to Capitol Hill and more to the point those all important congressional committees. That would include California Democratic congresswoman, Katie hill. She represents California's twenty fifth district, which is basically the land separating LA and the Mojave desert winning her seat in congress was a net gain for the Democrats. She beat a Republican incumbent congresswoman hill spent her career before congress at a nonprofit aimed at ending homelessness at the age of thirty one. She's one of the youngest members of congress. She has quickly become one of the most powerful members of her freshman class, chairman Elijah Cummings has now made her the vice share of the powerful house oversight committee that headed I hearing of the year today. So after a more eventful day than average were fortunate to have the congresswoman with us live from Washington tonight, congresswoman, I have to say that you're. Freshman class may go down in history as having arrived to crickets you've been a member of congress for twenty six days twenty nine days. I do believe yet. This is your first week where you're surrounded by what passes for a functioning government in this country. I yes, it's very very hard to come here, and to what is pretty much the epitome of a dysfunctional government. So we're excited to start getting to work. I think that the three week deadline is hanging over everybody's heads. And we just want to make sure that we get the deal done. And then we make sure that these shutdowns and leveraging the paychecks of federal workers are not on the table any any longer. I have to ask you about presidential politics before we get into committee business because a as you might have noticed a fellow Californian Senator Kamala Harris during her big event in Oakland, California over this weekend has made it official. She's in the race for president. Tell me what you make. Well, I am so thrilled to throw my support. Completely behind Senator Harris, she has been just an exceptional leader in the state of California. And I think that she is exactly the kind of candidate that we need to show the right kind of vision that we should have for this country that we can have smart effective solutions to some of the toughest challenges that we're facing. But also do it in a compassionate way. That is inclusive of all the people that are in this great nation. And I know that she's the right kind of person to do that. So I'm really thrilled to be working with her, and I hope to support her in every way, I can show the hers campaign is picked up a endorsement from fellow California Democrat, and I want to read this to you about your party. This was written by Paul Begala today. The Democrats just one their largest midterm landslide in forty four years. They've won the popular vote for president in six of the last seven elections unprecedented in history, the Democratic Party doesn't just represent the majority of Americans. We are the majority of Americans having said that having. Established that having established your support for Senator Harris, what do you make of the entry into the race by Howard Schultz, especially these v all the fears that he could split the vote and do the opposite of what so many Democrats are hoping. Well, then I don't think it's official with Mr. Scholtz yet. So I'm I'm hoping that we see how the landscape shakes out. And you know, if I think if he wants to run as a democrat in the in the democratic primary and provide an alternative to what we're seeing from the other candidates. That's great. I really do not think that this is the time for us to to have an independent in this race. And. A good friend of mine is working on his within his campaign. I just feel very strongly about this. So I've shared that with him. And I think that we cannot afford to risk anything with Trump on the ticket this this year this upcoming year. And so, but let's not screw this up. I'm quite sure your knowledge of history has taught you how unusual and what an honor your title as vice chair of this committee at this time in history is what are your hopes and wishes for the title the committee as a platform who's on your wishlist of people you'd like to come before you raise the right hand and be sworn in. Well, I think we have to think about the committee, and if you different ways the first is that this is a committee that has the unique power to be able to uncover the truth. And that's our that's our that's exactly what we're set forth to do. And so I think we have to be efficient and affective doing so, and I there's such a wide. Purview of the different challenges that we're facing that we have the ability to investigate and go into today, we looked into the high cost of prescription drugs. That's something that frankly, I ran on very strongly was that we have to lower the cost of prescription drugs and have health care for all Americans. And we got some great testimony today. I think that it's moving towards some real bipartisan solutions that hopefully can move forward. Even though we're gonna divided government and one of the things that is very significant to me, I'm going to be on the environmental subcommittee that I'm very proud of my my colleague Harley rebel, so a Californian who's sharing that so committee, and we we need to tackle some of these challenges about how climate change is is adding to these disasters is affecting these natural disasters like wildfires in my state and across the entire country. I also I think that the effects of this government shutdown have sort of sprint Broughton brought to life. Brought to light the. The challenges that we've got around aviation and the air traffic controllers the shortages that we have I think that that's something that we need to investigate as well. And they're just a number of opportunities. I look forward over the next couple of weeks to really setting forth that agenda. It's not just about the things that necessarily make the headlines, but it's going to be about. How are we focusing on the issues that affect everyone's day to day lives? And how are we really zeroing in on the solutions that are going to make a difference at very minimum all those controllers? You just mentioned are getting paychecks for their work at long last congresswoman were awfully happy to have you on the broadcast tonight, as I mentioned a more consequential day in your committee than most certainly for you. We hope you'll come back and visit us very soon democratic congresswoman Katie hill of Amish for having me, the state of California. Thank you for being on with us and coming up as we continue the man who wants told the nation. I alone can fix it. Now finds himself increase. Piecing Lee alone more on that when we come back. Without a strong border, America's defenseless vulnerable. And unprotected we need strong borders. We need strong barriers and walls. We are pulling back in Syria. We're going to be removing our truth. We have all watched together. This president get challenged on his pronouncements often from inside his own administration for starters at the top of this hour. Remember, we heard from the intelligence community. But today we learned a defense department official was openly skeptical of the effectiveness of a border wall. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell put forward an amendment urging that troops stay in Syria and Afghantistan also the Congressional Budget Office stands by its conclusion that the shutdown cost our economy eleven billion dollars twice the money. Trump wanted for his wall, even though the White House doesn't agree with that figure. Here with some perspective on president's facing their own internal challenges. John Harris editor in chief and co-founder of politico before that he was a veteran of the Washington Post a fellow veteran of covering the Clinton White House and surviving the Clinton White House. John went on to become a biographer of Bill Clinton, John thanks for coming on again. As always we tend to forget that President Trump lost two big ones early on Keith Schiller. His kind of go-to guy and wipe veteran hope Hicks. He then went for the first two of three chiefs of staff that can make a very big difference. His circle only tightened from there. Sure in Brian. I was struck by what you said that this Prenton alone. But if so he largely alone by choice, right because he's not expressed interest in having people who can approach him as a relative. Peer course. Nobody's appear to a president. But many continent presidents do have people who can check. Challenge them and even welcomed that President Trump doesn't seem to be in his camp. And of course, he's got a huge executive branch apparatus beneath a millions of people who extensively all work for him. But as we saw in that review, you gave at the beginning that doesn't mean they necessarily bow to his authority or to his view of the world. I think it's quite interesting. We know from tape recorded conversations president like Lyndon Johnson could not wait to use all of the available levers of the office. He would call the desk officer over at the State Department for whatever nation he had a question about that takes knowing first of all there's a desk officer over at the State Department responsible each for an individual nation. He loved doing that reaching down through the ranks. This president doesn't have that same wiring that intellectual curiosity. Well, he doesn't have the understanding of the executive branch and how it can work both the official way of how it works the org chart way, but often that quite different than the actual reality of how power gets exercise much more recently than the LBJ example. Of course, was I think the modern master of this very controversial was Dick Cheney who often would burrow down into the bureaucracy. Remember, he insisted on going to the. In person rather than having them come to the White House kind of an intimidation tactic. But Dick Cheney who had been chief of staff much earlier in his career. Probably understood better than anybody. How power actually gets exercised? And this is one of the great themes of the modern presidency, which is that. People who Stanley worked for you actually can do. They can either advance your agenda, if they feel that they're being respected and listened to or they can in all manner of ways thwarted I gotta show you these two poles from Quinnipiac, the mathematics are not good. If your name is Donald Trump, first of all this measures, the speaker of the house against the president of the United States who do you trust respondents answered Pelosi over Trump, forty nine forty two I'm guessing that'll get his attention as will this his approval underwater, fifty seven thirty eight and John that is not that's that's an excess threat to his presidency. Yes. But that also represents kind of a numeric challenge to his presidency. It's true. All the let's remember this president, and this is a pattern. We've seen in recent. With reasoning presidencies about it's much more acute in this one has got a ceiling and a floor that are not that far apart. Brian there's only so high a president is polarizing controversial as Donald Trump is going to go. There's only so low he's going to go given the solidness of his support. I think it seems to me at the moment. He's very close to that. For what does he what does he left to say in a state of the union, John, can you guess at it? This is going to be unlike any other state of the union in modern times, not many people in that chamber will share his number one priority of a wall. No, and not many people will be certainly not as fellow Republicans will be applauding the tactics that he's used over the past couple of months to try to push for that Waldman variant popular with the rank and file Republicans. And they know they lost that confrontation with Nancy Pelosi. President trump. Remember, he has been affective in this format. He was not effective in his Oval Office speech a few weeks ago. But if you go back to the his first address to congress people were saying gosh that actually sounded more like a traditional president that were custom to hearing at a an address to a joint session of congress. So. It's certainly an opportunity for him to be seen try to be seemingly somewhat inappropriate you'll white over the past couple of months. He's not been seen in a classic presidential way. He's been seen as preeminently a partisan figure and divisive figure. That's terrible place for any president to be and it's reflected in Donald Trump's terrible numbers. John harris. Thank you for coming on, my friend. It's always a pleasure to have you see probably she it and coming up what Chris Christie had to say about bad and stupid stupid people. And what ties them together in the Trump orbit for starters? If there's nothing to hide why so many lies about Russia when we continue. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has known Donald Trump for close to two decades. His new book came out today, and in it, he talks about his flirtation with working for this president his brush with the inner circle of Donald Trump earlier today in this very studio. Nicole Wallace ask Chris Christie a central question. Why is it so many people around Donald Trump have been accused of lying about Russia? Why would so many people tell so many lies about Russia? What I'll tell you is what I said to to someone earlier today in my experience, bad people and stupid people lie all the time for no reason at all because it's just who they are. And if you look at this list of people Jeff Sessions is bad and stupid. Well, I don't think I don't think Jeff was bright enough to be in the position where he is such a stupid, but not bad. No. I don't think he's a bad person. I like Jeff on a personal level. I really do think he lied about conversations Kislyak. Gotta stupidity too. I think it happens to be the same light told by Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, George popadopoulos, and everyone else has been charged by Miller, and we still know the bottom of this yet. Okay. We don't know what else about molars uncover just telling you that. I think there's another consistent strain to consider in addition to Russia, and that is that sometimes dumb and band people. Why Chris Christie was Nicole Wallace earlier today and a program note, he will be back in the studio tomorrow evening for an interview on this broadcast as well coming up what happened seventeen years ago tonight during a very different time in our country when we continue. Last thing before we go tonight. We were supposed to be covering the state of the union address tonight. Remember, the government shutdown pushed it to a week from tonight earlier today the site of those combined Intel chiefs and the global threats as they see them, and those that do not agree with the president's priorities that had us thinking of today's anniversary of another state of the union exactly seventeen years ago today in two thousand and two we were still very much a post nine eleven nation when President George W Bush called out North Korea, Iran and Iraq specifically and coined a new phrase in the process states like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail, the United States in any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic and all nations should know America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security. We'll be deliberate. Yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather will not stand by as peril draws closer. And closer the United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons. What became known as the axis of evil speech delivered by another president during a different time seventeen years ago tonight when the state of the union was quite different than today that is our broadcast for this Tuesday night. Thank you for being here with us. Good night from NBC news headquarters here in New York. Hi, it's Stephanie rule. If you love MSNBC where your heart on your sleeve gear up with t shirts. 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