Transcript for 'Greater danger,' according to Trump advisers, in SDNY investigation: NYT's Haberman
Sort of entitled to one good story in "The New York Times." I started off and ran against very smart people, and a lot of them. I came from Jamaica queens, and Jamaica estates, and now I'm president of the United States. I'm sort of entitled to a great story, just one, from my newspaper. That was president trump in the oval office with reporters from the "New York Times" including Maggie Haberman who joins our round table. I guess that's why the meeting happened. He wants some good coverage from "The New York Times." How did you find him? Right. Absolutely very subdued. He was very engaged, but he was very adamant on what he believed is the case. So for instance, he was insistent that the Intel chiefs had told him that he had been very angry at them because of their testimony on the hill, that they had -- the media had mischaracterized what they said, and he accepted that, and why he finds himself at odds with his own government at times. He couldn't articulate an answer to, that just said that doesn't really happen. It does. It was the world as Donald Trump wants to see it regardless of whether that is true with objective facts. And Sara Fagan, you have taken them and calling them naive, and saying the next day, they didn't say what the entire song, they were saying on capitol hill. We watch his Twitter handle and take it so literally and I think for most of America, they don't, and for the president, you know, he has a tendency to -- anger moves him at the moment and then he resorts back. You know, I look at the way he interacts with government and the way he interacts with the public sort of differently, and here's a person who has a 30% base in the country, strong. No matter what happens, what he says, they support him. Another 15%, you know, they like him on taxes. They like him on judges, but they don't like what he says about intelligence. He moved within that framework as he operates his government. One of the things you started to see this week, Patrick Gaspard, you saw a little bit on the government shutdown and saw it on the intelligence, the agency. You saw it with Mitch Mcconnell's resolution saying we should not be coming out of Afghanistan that quickly. More Republicans, at least elected Republicans being willing to create some distance from the president. Certainly creating a distance on intelligence issues. Mark Warner said workers need to appreciate that intelligence officers risked their lives to get the information that the president just didn't dismiss, in a tweet, and the Republicans in the house appreciate the intelligence officials approach their work with an integrity that is not nonpartisan. I appreciate what you are saying, Sara, between governance and politics, but institutions matter and the way the Americans see institutions through the lens is profoundly influenced by every comment, every tweet, every pronouncement made by the chief executive and I'm pleased to see senator Mitch Mcconnell and other Republicans standing up and saying, let's be incredibly careful about this. I'm not suggesting it doesn't matter, but what I do think is unless and until there is some very significant world event where that contrast was drawn and people can point back to it, you know, it's noise right now. I would say -- I would say there has been a number of significant world events where that contrast has been shown. It's not helpful to the country. There has been a contrast between his tweets and the things he said on trade, things that he said on North Korea, things he said on Syria, things he said on the intelligence agencies. We have seen that contrast, which is why a majority of the country disapproves of him and doesn't trust the president today. I think the president is right about something. He is right that we shouldn't just accept whatever the intelligence agencies say point-blank. We have seen that they have made mistakes in the past. I think the problem is, is when you go in as president with preconceived notions and ignore facts that are presented because you have a preconceived notion. If you think about the bush administration and what happened in Iraq, part of what happened is there was preconceived notions about what people wanted it to be, and then they sought out data and information in order to confirm that data. I think the president -- it's been reported that he doesn't read a great deal amount of information, doesn't study these issues a great deal, but my -- my problem with the president is he has a preconceived notion and he doesn't want facts getting in the way. One of the other dangers -- I was struck by an article in "Time" magazine. It was talked about intelligence officials are shaping the briefings to not bring the president facts and it appears dangerous. The president is commander in chief and he said he has had disagreements with his intelligence officers, but he respects them and he still believes them and trusts them. The president's not going to sit there and just take -- we know what happened to Colin Powell. We all know that, with the weapons of mass destruction. President trump is going to question every single thing that comes before him and he's not scared to question the intelligence officials, but ultimately, he's going to listen to them, they are going to negotiate and talk. He's the commander in chief. He often doesn't act as if he's a commander in chief. He acts as the spectator and that's the problem you see. Matt is right. Not everyone should blindly accept what intelligence officials say, and that is how the president won, but where he gets himself into a dangerous situation is he is commenting as if he's watching this from afar, as if what he says doesn't matter. And he is commenting a lot, but ultimately, the right thing happens and that's what matters. He talks to these guys, he makes up with these guys and he says, when there is a problem, he tells the world, but then when it's rectified, he also tells them that. The president also talking about the Mueller report. We saw the acting attorney general Matt Whitaker say it could be coming soon. Right now the only investigation is I think close to being completed and I hope that we can get the report from director Mueller as soon as -- as possible. In your interview, the president seemed to build on that and repeat something. We have not heard this kind of specificity before, that he's neither a subject nor a target in the investigation. It was surprising. He said rod has told him -- rod Rosenstein, the attorney general has told him he's not a target and when we pushed on that, he has told you this as well. He has told the lawyers, and was this about Mueller or the southern district of investigation into Michael Cohen? He said, that I'm not sure about, but we have had people around the president tell us that. He had not said it that way before. I have never heard this from the president's mouth and we can't confirm that. There has been a lot of reporting. More and more reporting in the last few weeks coming off of the press conference that Mueller could be wrapping up soon, and perhaps there are no more indictments coming that we may never see the Mueller report. What does that mean for Democrats? First thing I want to say is the only thing I believe out of that "New York Times" interview is that the president desperately wants a positive story. We heard the audio. I do believe it. On the report, it's been interesting. If we look at the series of indictments that have been handed down, and the indictment against stone, they are all kind of bread crumbs that Mueller and his team seem to be dropping to make certain some of their reports see the light of day because they are concerned about this not being allowed to be shared with the public. It's hard to forecast, predict that's going to ultimately come out of this, but I trust that Democrats and Republicans are going to have a proper public hearing with these findings because they're going to be compelled. It's got a force of gravity of its own at this point. If there was a bombshell connected to trump, you know, really one that would, you know, make him have an indictable offense, I think we would probably know it by now, assuming of course, this is wrapping up. This, to me, seems like -- Russia clearly tried to interfere in the election and a bunch of the "B" level political operatives and hangers on around Donald Trump were trying to be the man or the woman constantly engaging in, you know, these conversations, and several of them have been indicted. Several of them have done very stupid things. Did the president know about some of it? Perhaps. We'll find out, but the thought to me, you know, for all his strengths and weaknesses, that Donald Trump was sitting there trying to get Vladimir Putin to interfere with the election so he could win just seems illogical. It seems illogical to me. Just -- just a couple of quick things. When you say that we would have seen bombshells already, that's not exactly true when only 48 hours ago we learned the current president -- there was a banking campaign and it was denied. For what purpose? We don't know what purpose. They're including the fact that this president met with Vladimir Putin and refused to allow the transcript of that meeting to be shared with his staff. That's an astounding thing. Astounding. We don't know what Mueller has, first of all, but I wonder for what is working here, is something similar to bill Clinton. Back during the Monica Lewinsky thing. He came out with a hard denial and over the course of a year and the country got conditioned and it later turned out to be true. To take on what was being said about bombshell, had we known during the campaign president trump was pursuing a trump tower and not telling the the truth about it, that could have made a difference. Well, to me, everybody's put this stack of chips on the motor port, right? That's going to be ultimately finally, completely determined. We don't know the answer to that, but there has been a bunch of things that have happened along the way, and you're right. They were "B," level people, but in "A" level positions. We wait on the report, but look what's happened so far. 30 plus indictments. A number of people very close to the president in high level positions convicted or pled guilty to a numerous amount of crimes. That's occurred along this way, and so I think -- and all of this -- the Mueller report, the president has already been irreparably damaged. This has dragged out long enough. They got a continuation. Matt Whitaker is a great guy. I don't know if you know him. He's a great guy, and I like rod Rosenstein. I have worked with rod. I trust them both, and I believe the president -- I know the president did nothing wrong, and it would have leaked out with strzok, page, all the FBI agents that were involved. It would have leaked out. It needs to just end. We can go on. The investigation is the one that's not going anywhere. It's going to continue? It's going to continue, and you have had Michael Cohen continuing to cooperate with them. You have Michael Cohen preparing to testify in some fashion on the hill and I don't think he's going quietly. Even though Mueller might end -- even though Mueller might end, there is greater danger, according to the president's own advisers in the southern district investigation. That is going to have to be the last word and now we honor
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