ADAM SCHIFF: I just think enough question has been raised in the public about
whether he can lead a credible investigation in this, given the severity of
the issues, the importance of the issues.
Everything would be best if he were to step aside and let someone else
handle this investigation, given his role in the transition team and the
events of the past week.
It just has too much called into question whether he has the objectivity
necessary to oversee this investigation.
O`DONNELL (host): Four other Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee now, Eric Swalwell, Jackie Speier, Joaquin Castro and Jim Himes have also called on Chairman Nunes to recuse himself.
The calls for recusal came after Chairman Nunes confirmed reports that he
met with a source at the White House the day before he went public with the
information that members of the president`s transition team were swept up
in incidental surveillance of foreign officials.
His spokesperson told “NBC News”, Chairman Nunes met with the source of
that information at the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a
secure location where he could view the information provided by the source.
Congressman Schiff says Chairman Nunes still has not shared that
information with anyone else on the Intelligence Committee.
SCHIFF: There is nothing normal about what`s taken place over the last
week. It`s certainly not normal to go and receive information as the
Chairman of a Committee that you can`t share with your own committee
members, but you go and share with the president.
Particularly if the investigation involves associates of the president. And
it`s not just an unwillingness to share with Democrats.
None of the committee members, Democrats or Republicans have seen what the
Chairman is referring to.
MARK WARNER (Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee):
I, and I know both Chairman Burr on the Senate side and Democrats,
Republicans. We don`t know what Mr. Nunes is talking about, what kind of
We`ve queried the Intel community, I don`t think they know what he is
talking about. And it seems more than suspicious that he is somehow going
to the White House.
And anybody who knows anywhere in the White House complex, whether in the
Eisenhower building or the White House itself, you have to be escorted. Who
is he meeting with?
Was it a source or was it somebody from the administration?
TIM MAX, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, DAILY BEAST: Look, I think what it shows is
that there is a lot of confusion I think maybe even in the chairman`s own
mind about what he saw and what he knows.
What`s been so unusual over the last week, especially in that night before
he held that press conference was that senior – very senior members of his
staff were kept in the dark, didn`t understand what the chairman was doing.
And we`re talking folks with years and years of experience in the intelligence committee, people who you usually rely on if you`re the chairman of the committee, they didn`t know what the chairman was up to.
Now, we have a situation where there`s a lot of confusion the chairman said
in his initial press conference that he might have been surveilled.
Then he walked that back. He has said that there might have been incidental
collection of information about Trump transition teams through
Now that`s unclear. He hasn`t been clear about what exactly he has, whether
something actually improper has occurred.
And now we`re all talking about this issue, instead of what we were talking about before he held his press conference last Wednesday, which was the FBI is undertaking an ongoing criminal investigation, an ongoing investigation into Trump associates in Russia.
DAVID CORN (Mother Jones): Starting in June, there were media reports that the Russians had hacked the election and were mocking about.
By mid-August, Trump and Flynn were briefed that Russians were behind the
hacks, and that the intent was to throw the election in his direction, OK?
So now the question I have for you, Eli – and maybe you can get an answer
from Michael Flynn or anyone connected to the Trump world, OK?
You`re talking to the Russian ambassador or any Russian after that point in
time. What are you saying to them? Are you telling them to knock it off?
Or are you saying to them – and I`m just speculating here, you`ll get a
better deal with us than you will with Hillary Clinton.
And if so, then you are knowingly encouraging them to continue their covert
political warfare against the United States.
Now I know you wouldn`t do that, Eli, you`re an honorable person. But we
know Michael Flynn who talks about kidnapping people, who lied to the vice
president is not an honorable person.
We know that Donald Trump doesn`t take this Russia stuff seriously. So no,
I don`t think you would do something wrong.
But I want to know what they were telling the Russian ambassador before the
election when they had reason to know Putin was targeting our electoral
I think that`s a pretty fair question and a basic question, and until Trump
can answer that, he has no right to call this thing a hoax.
(Regarding Kushner and Ivanka being appointed key political roles within the White House.)
CORN: You know, we could literally do a show a night, Lawrence, on the conflicts
of interests in Trump Town, in Trump World. They don`t go away. Trump
didn`t separate himself from his business. So he knows if people are or
countries are booking hotel rooms or big blocks in Trump Hotel downtown
here in D.C.
He knows he is getting that money directly. We did a story a week or two
back, and Mother Jones about a Chinese American woman who is connected to
the Chinese elite, and even connected to Chinese military intelligence,
buying a $15 million penthouse in one of his New York City apartments. He
knows that`s happening.
They`re not even vetting these deals. So they promise they`d would vet. He
said he would take care of this issue. None of this is happening. And of
course there are already a couple of lawsuits out there on various fronts.
You know this is Klepto-Cronyism. That`s what you have. And it`s not going
O`DONNELL: In an article for foreign policy entitled “The Soul Sucking
Attention-Eating Black Hole of the Trump presidency,” David Rothkopf writes
“if you doubt that the impact of the shift to all Trump all the time news
is making it hard to focus on much of what might otherwise be worthy of our
attention, consider this. Since taking office, the Trump administration has
ramped up military operations in Yemen and Iraq, committed to deploying
over a thousand additional troops in Syria, stood by as civilian casualties
have soared and watched as a strategically important province in
Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, all without so much as making a ripple in
the public consciousness of the United States.
Trump was very nearly mute on North Korea save for some ill considered
CHRIS MURPHY, UNITED STATES SENATOR: The world is freaked out right now
because they see American leadership vanishing before their eyes. America
just seems to be fundamentally withdrawing. You know, this is at a moment
where we live in a multipolar world where frankly it`s easy to accept an
offer from China or from Russia to be your pal if the United States isn`t
on the playing field.
ROTHKOPF: I think Donald Trump`s narcissism has fed our own national
narcissism, and we can`t look beyond the daily scandals that you have been
rightly reporting about throughout the show. The problem is the rest of the
world is going on. You know, in China right now its noontime. They are up.
They are building their country. They are having their lives. They don`t
talk about Trump all the time. When they do, they are kind of mystified by
it. But they are assuming a leadership role. In the Middle East, the United
States is embracing a whole bunch of new policies that are producing
massive civilian casualties, new kinds of divisions.
And they are not worried about our political scandals. They are worried
about what`s going to happen next to them. Our European allies are worried.
Russia is trying to seize the void. We`ve got a lot of problems, a lot of
big things that are going on that we don`t talk about in this country
because we have this reckless, out of control, inexperienced, ethically
compromised television eating monster in the oval office.
O`DONNELL: When you look at the state department in this administration how
are they handling the new challenges presented by a world confused by
ROTHKOPF: Well, you know, I think at the top the state department isn`t
doing much of anything. Rex Tillerson is kind of the phantom secretary of
state. The one trip that he made to Asia was kind of a fiasco at each and
every stop. He hasn`t appointed high level deputies in to the critical
positions where is the policy is made at the deputy`s level.
There are good people in the state department that wish they could be doing
more but right now they are staring down the barrel of 30 percent or 27
percent or whatever kind of budget cuts that are likely to eviscerate the
programs that we use in order to maintain the peace around the world.
O`DONNELL: When the world looks at Trump, do they look at the rest of the
government and say, well, this government is designed in a way that can
survive someone like this?
ROTHKOPF: Well, you know, I don`t know if the United States government in
recent years really has given off that vibe of competence since the
congress hasn`t gotten much done. But you know in recent days, as
investigations have begun to look like they`re getting a little bit of
traction, I have started to hear people say, gee, maybe it works. Maybe
those checks and balance work.
Maybe this guy, Trump is, not going to run amuck and maybe we are going to
get back to the United States that at least we could depend on in the past
even if we didn`t love it all the time. And – and I think there is a
little hope that that may be the case, that Trump may be a short timer.
Because I got to tell you, with the exception of Russia and a couple other
autocracies in the world, the people I speak to around the world are
extremely disturbed at the prospect of a protracted Trump presidency.
O`DONNELL: Well on the crazy things like not shaking hands with Angela
Merkel, has the world gotten to a point now where they – they sort of get
it? Like, they`ve – the way a lot of us it took us months of watching the
campaign to realize oh, this is the way this person is and is always going
to be? But that doesn`t necessarily mean something is going to happen in
government because he says it`s going to happen?
ROTHKOPF: Yes, well despite my youthful appearance I have been around in
Washington long enough to have seen a number of presidencies. I have never
seen a presidency where one of the first or second questions that I get
from international leaders is, is this guy sane? Is – you know, does this
guy really have it all together?
And I – and I have to say I think around the world they see the weird
stuff, hand shakes and that kind of thing, tweet storms like you have seen
in the past hour, outbursts, apparently a pathological compulsion to lie
and they think, does the United States have an unhinged president. And I
think there is a reason I think that by the way, because we do have an
O`DONNELL: Sure and – and doesn`t that then make Rex Tillerson the most
important secretary of state possibly ever in the sense that his job is to
represent to the world that this government is okay whatever they think of
the person in the White House?
ROTHKOPF: Well, sure, if he showed up for work –
ROTHKOPF: If he did that, if he reached out, if Mattis did that, if Kelly
did that, you know, there are all these guys we called the grown ups. And
we said the grown-ups are going to offset Trump and they`re going to send
the world a different message. But as far as we`ve seen Kelly hasn`t been
able to do it at the Department of Homeland Security. Certainly Tillerson
hasn`t done it at the State Department.
Mattis has actually overseen a ramping up in the Middle East that`s
produced some real recklessness, and we`re about to see more setbacks in
Afghanistan, and possibly mistakes made in Iraq that open the door to
another surge from ISIS. So, you know, I got to say, the – the grown ups
don`t look like they are showing up.