tv MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi MSNBC July 19, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
the constitution, the signers, and they're all short. in those days people were just shorter. you and me were giants compared to what they used to be. have a good afternoon. we'll see you back here in two hours. good afternoon, everybody, i am ali velshi. president trump has been on his fake news kick in an effort to steer the narrative to one that puts him in a more apositive light. they make up stories without any backup, sources or proof. that's what he claims the fake news media is guilty of in a series of tweets today. since his claims in helsinki, the president is failing to see that his own words are the backup, the sources and the proof. he's about to sign an executive order to shift the focus onto the economy, but he continues to sabotage his own efforts. trump stirred the pot just hours ago with this tweet teasing a second meeting with russia's leader. to add more fuel to this
dumpster fire, "the new york times" is out with a new report, quote, from the start, trump has muddied a clear message. putin interfered. according to this remarkable article, quote, two weeks before his inauguration, donald j. trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that president vladimir v. putin of russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 american election, end quote. according to several people who attended the briefing. nbc news has not independently confirmed that report, but this morning former national intelligence director, james clapper, this man who was in that room, confirmed the meeting and gave even more detail about what happened in it. >> he did listen with some skepticism. what struck me and others as quite unusual was before we left the room, they started writing a press release about our
encounter and were trying to say that the russian meddling, the russian interference had no impact on the outcome of the election. >> and this hour we'll get to hear from the director of national intelligence, dan coats, the name you have been hearing all week, former senator from -- former senator. he's going to respond to all of this live with my colleague, andrea mitchell. joining me now from the white house is nbc news hans nichols. hans, we just found out the white house formally rejected vladimir putin's request from the russians to interview bill browder, mike mcfaul. what do you make of all of this? >> it's another day, another cleanup. now we're at thursday. this press conference happened earlier in the week. the white house is still trying to clarify things. as of yesterday, they're openly entertaining the idea of having those individuals that you mentioned go to russia and potentially be investigated.
that was the intriguing proposal that mr. putin made. what you heard from sarah huckabee sanders today is that donald trump has now disagreed with that proposal. a few days ago he thought it was something that was worth pursuing. now they say it was made in sincerity, to use sarah huckabee sanders quote. it was made in sincerity but something they disagree with and will not be pursuing. at the same time, there's talk of a second meeting. as all this is -- everyone is trying to figure out what actually was said in that meeting, ali, the pentagon is in the same situation. we've heard from the head general for centcom. he was asked about this idea of more cooperation between the united states and russia. listen to his answer where he almost professes to be perplexed. >> let me just reiterate, no new guidance for me as a result of the helsinki discussions as of yet. we remain in very good communications with the department here and when that
time comes, we'll certainly respond to it. >> reporter: so the pentagon trying to figure out everything as well. i think that's why that interview later today that we'll have shortly between andrea mitchell and dan coats will be so interesting. former senator from indiana and ambassador -- >> indiana! >> and ambassador to germany. and on the framers, they weren't all short. >> but many of them were short. coming from a tall guy like you, hans, we're all short. hans, i know you were watching it and i was watching it. >> yes. >> excerpts from an interview that donald trump had with cnbc in which he criticized the federal reserve raising interest rates and said that that move, that idea of raising interest rates could disrupt all the hard work he's doing on the economic recovery. you might hear that at a bar or from your taxi driver or your uncle, it's all good. there's a real reason why we don't typically want to hear from from the president.
>> the first rule for a president in talking about the federal reserve is never talk about the federal reserve. you don't want to appear to be weighing in and pressuring them. that's what president trump seemed to be suggesting is he didn't like the direction that jerome powell, his own nominee to head the fed, was taking my raising interest rates of why does he want to keep interest rates low? he wants to keep the economy humming and having cheaper money out there and have a debt-fueled growth. the issue with the economy right now, and this is why the fed is raising rates and why they have these very serious discussions every few weeks there at the federal reserve is you don't want an overheated economy. if the economy does go south, you want to have capacity to somehow stimulate it again. the general rule is don't talk about monetary policy, but this is a president who's violated long-standing rules before. remember, he hinted that he knew what the jobs numbers were friday morning before they came out. in the past, he's been hinting about the idea of wanting a weaker dollar to help exports. this is not something that is done at the presidential level
by previous presidents. that's why we saw markets react. now, back on the cleanup theme, the white house has again put out a statement saying that of course the president respects the independence of fed. so the white house is again trying to clean up something the president said and it seems to be a pattern this week. ali. >> so the point here is that there are people in your daily life who you will meet who will benefit from having higher interest rates, if you're more of a saver and have your money in a bank account or bonds. if you're a borrower, you want lower interest rates. that can be politicized. a particular president may want an environment with lower interest rates or higher interest rates. the fed is not supposed to be responding to those kind of trends. >> independence of central bankers, whether here in the states or europe or switzerland or japan, and in japan it's been a little clouded, there's been some pressure there to have negative interest rates. but the idea of independence of federal, any sort of central
bank, is really a core of the post war international framework. this is why you want to avoid boom and bust, you want stable sustainable growth recognizing there are going to be downturns. so there's a rule here at the white house that any official cannot comment on market-moving data until an hour after that market-moving data has passed. that's why we don't hear anyone on jobs day until 9:30 in the morning. trump almost violated that by hinting at it before the numbers came out. >> tweeted out that he was excited or looking for it. >> they avoided making public appearances on thursday night because they didn't want to betray anything with a jump in their step, a smile, so it's unprecedented. >> thank you for clarifying. senator can coadan coats of ind. in revolutionary times the average height of american men was 5'8" and that was three inches taller than their british counterparts at the time. >> i will only accept that if you give me their measurement in hands, not feet and inches. we want a hands measurement.
>> this conversation will continue. hans nichols, thanks, as always, my friend. right now on the floor of the united states senate, a quote on a nonbinding resolution, meaning it doesn't do anything, against russia's request to interrogate u.s. diplomats, officials and members of the armed forces. earlier a gop leader blocked a resolution supporting the intelligence community's findings that russia interfered with the election but we are hearing plenty of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. >> what we saw earlier this week in helsinki is what happens when you wage war on objective reality for nearly two solid years, calling real things fake and fake things real, after if conditioning others to embrace the same confusion. >> trump derangement syndrome has officially come to the senate. the hatred for the president is so intense that partisans would rather risk war than give diplomacy a chance. >> given the president's
performance in the last week, let alone the last year and a half, it would be naive not to have that concern. i think these are the kind of extraordinary circumstances where we ought to subpoena the interpreter, we ought to bring the interpreter in behind closed doors and find out did the president make concessions to putin? did the president share classified information with putin? did the president take other steps beyond those that he took so publicly to undermine the security of the united states? >> the president does have the ability to meet with anybody he wishes. i think this one, especially the presentation that was made at the end was disconcerting to most americans and certainly was to me. i think the president many times makes off-handed comments that haven't been thought through maybe as well as they might otherwise should have been. >> i don't care what they talked about, i care about what we do. you can talk to putin all day
long. here's what i want to know, what did you agree to do with him and give us a chance to see if we think it makes any sense. i think he should have been stronger standing up for the fact that putin has interfered in the past, is still doing it in the future. it came across weak. >> earlier today, republicans on the house intel committee blocked an attempt by democrats to subpoena the interpreter who sat in on president trump's one-on-one meeting with vladimir putin. the committee voted along party lines. democrats in the senate are also pushing to hear from the interpreter and are demanding the trump administration turn over any notes from the meeting. a reminder that later this hour andrea mitchell will sit down for an exclusive interview with the director of national intelligence, dan coats. as we now all know, former senator from indiana, right here on msnbc. we will bring that to you in this hour. there may be evidence to back up the intelligence community's assertion that russia may be interfering in the 2018 midterm election. microsoft revealed that today it
discovered that a fake domain used to launch phishing attacks on three candidates running in this year's election has been uncovered. national political reporter mike memali joins us from aspen with more. mike? >> reporter: yeah, i have to say this landed as somewhat of a mini bombshell here during one of the panel sessions here. this was focused on election security issues. we heard from both corporate and government leaders. we had just heard from an assistant homeland security secretary who said that while there were efforts by foreign states to interfere in some of our key systems in the country, so far not yet in terms of our elections infrastructure. but then we heard from a corporate vice president from microsoft who detected, as you said, this attempt for phishing effort very similar to the 2016 campaign just uncovered in that indictment we saw on friday. what we don't know is what candidates were being targeted. what tom bird, the corporate
vice president said was that these were people who would have been interesting from an electoral interference standpoint and also an espionage standpoint. i did reach out to some campaigns that might have fit that bill. so far, no one is indicating they're aware of this. >> mike, has microsoft said that they can prevent these things in the future? where are we in this identification of this phishing attack and this website? >> reporter: the way microsoft said they uncovered this was they were in charge of security during the 2016 conventions for both the democratic and republican convention. during that time they uncovered these attempts by these foreign entities to try to register fake microsoft domains. so this is microsoft doing their own due diligence to protect their own brand because they know these entities are relying on the trust people have in microsoft as a way to lure unsuspecting staffers to give them log-in credentials and other information that would be useful that the russian agents could access their information,
e-mails and relevant information that could both hurt the campaigns and sow discord in the u.s. >> mike, thanks mech. mike memoli for us in aspen. coming up, the obvious warning signs that russia was interfering in the election. many of them refuted despite being flagged by his own intelligence community. still to come, andrea mitchell will have an interview with dan coats, quite outspoken himself on russia, their past and continuing election interference. that's live right here on msnbc from the aspen security forum. man: it takes a lot of work to run this business, but i really love it. i'm on the move all day long, and sometimes i don't eat the way i should. so i drink boost to get the nutrition i'm missing. boost high protein now has 33% more protein, along with 26 essential vitamins and minerals. and it has a guaranteed great taste. man: boost gives me everything i need to be up for doing what i love. boost high protein.
the nation's top intelligence official is about to weigh in on the controversy surrounding president trump's comments on russian meddling in the -- let me forget meddling, let's take the word out. we're not talking about meddling anymore. russia's attacks on the 2016 and 2018 elections. in just a few minutes nbc's andrea mitchell will sit down with the director of national intelligence, dan coats, at the aspen security forum. this is his first interview since the president appeared to accept vladimir putin's denials that russia interfered in the 2016 elections and twice the president has referred to dan coats in a diminishing manner. coats issued this rare statement in response and without the clearance from the white house. we have been clear in our assessments of russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing persuasive efforts to undermine our democracy. trump later said he misspoke but
i lost track of whether trump walked that back or didn't walk it back or meant to say would or wouldn't. either way, he hasn't really got dan coats' back. as director coats pointed out, there is a sharp contrast between what the president says and what the intelligence community says, but it's not clear as to why. two weeks before the inauguration, before he even became the president of the united states, the director of national intelligence and the heads of the fbi, the cia and the nsa provided the president-elect with evidence that putin personally ordered the attacks on the 2016 election. you normally see this trump tower picture when we talk about that june, 2016, meeting. this is january 6, before the inauguration, 2017. they went there, because he wasn't the president yet. and they told him. "the new york times" reports trump saws texts and e-mails from russian military officials and intelligence from british, dutch and american, his,
intelligence services. but the president continues to publicly dispute the intelligence. for example, this tweet from january of this year, a year after he got this information. russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election. two weeks after this, the nation's intelligence directors, led by the cia director and trump's appointee, mike pompeo, said this. >> no change in my view of the 2017 assessment. i support that and i agree with director pompeo's assessment about the likelihood of the 2018 occurrence as well. >> i participated in that 2017 work. i stood by it then, i stand by it now. i agree with director pompeo. it is not going to change or stop. >> yes, it is not going to change or stop. >> throughout the entire community, we have not seen any evidence of any significant change from last year. >> i agree with director pompeo.
>> okay. despite that unanimous assessment, the president still seemed to be unclear on that point. just days before meeting with putin. >> i know you'll ask will we be talking about meddling, and i will absolutely bring that up. i don't think you'll have any, gee, i did it, i did it, you got me. there won't be a perry mason here, i don't think. but you never know what happens, right? but i will absolutely, firmly ask the question. >> i think there are a lot of people who wish perry mason was actually in that meeting. just after the president's news conference with british prime minister theresa may, the justice department indicted 12 russian intelligence agents and detailed how the government says they attacked our democracy. trump's own director of national intelligence, from whom we will hear shortly, said this. >> it was in the months prior to september 2001 when according to then cia director george tenet,
the system was blinking red. here we are two decade -- nearly two decades later, and i'm here to say the warning lights are blinking red again. today the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack. >> the warning lights are blinking red again. the president sat down after that for two interviews. in one he doubted the director of national intelligence. in the other, he reluctantly acknowledged him. listen. >> your dni dan coats said that america's digital infrastructure is at a critical point right now. >> yeah. >> similar to what it was like in some ways before 9/11. that is we're susceptible to a large-scale attack. do you agree with that? >> well, i don't know if i'd agree with that. i'd have to look. >> coats says the threat is ongoing. do you agree with that?
>> he's an expert, this is what he does. he's been doing a tremendous job. i have tremendous faith in dan coats. if he says that, i would accept that. >> despite the overwhelming agreement that russian attacks on our elections continue, the president continue denied it. i think. >> is russia still targeting the u.s., mr. president? >> thank you very much. >> i had a chance to speak with the president after his comments and the president said thank you very much and was saying no to answering questions. >> president trump and sarah huckabee sanders seem to think we all just fell off the turnip truck, and maybe we did, so i want to bring in malcolm nance, executive director of the terror asim metrics project and msnbc terrorism analyst. he's also the author of "the plot to destroy america, how putin and his spies are undermining america and dismantling the west." also with me is jon mcglocklin.
he's also an msnbc global affairs analyst. and just because i don't want to be taken for a fool here, i'm bringing in michael isikoff as well, chief investigative correspondent for yahoo! news. he's the co-author of "russian roulette, the inside story of putin's war on america and the election of donald trump." these three gentlemen know a great deal about espionage, about russia, about the attempts to hack america. i have to say it's with some regret, jon, that i have to call upon you. you and i have talked a few times this week, as of malcolm and i and michael and i to straighten this out. the president and sarah huckabee sanders cannot get away with this idea that they said one thing -- he said one thing in front of the entire world, did not correct himself in the space of that press conference in helsinki next to vladimir putin, did not correct himself in interviews he did immediately
later, but somehow we are to believe that the president has actually acknowledged that russia plotted to interfere in 2016 and continues to do so. it's very hard to understand this, jon. >> well, someone here at the aspen security forum said something this morning that stuck with me, and i think partially explains where we are. this person said that when president trump says something seemingly without thinking, that's what he's actually thinking. and i think that's what we have here, because in helsinki, he said something that i think reflected what he really thinks, and the other day when he said, no, they're no longer attacking us, he said that rather impulsively, but i suspect that's what he really thinks. everyone has tried to explain this. it's hard to explain. it's always fair to question an intelligence assessment, but when it is massively documented and carefully examined by the
senate intelligence committee on a bipartisan basis and backed up by all of these indictments, it becomes very hard to explain in any terms other than the fact as many have said that he views any acknowledgement of this as somehow diminishing the legitimacy of his election. the mature way for a president to address this would be to say, yes, i acknowledge it. i am the president, i'm going to continue to be the president. let's talk about my policies instead and let's move on. but instead, he continues to call this a witch hunt and other things. >> malcolm, let's just talk about how we can move forward with this, because it is -- you know, i think this monday in helsinki was a turning point that was led up to by the nato meeting in brussels in which he undermined our nato allies who have come to america's defense after the 9/11 attacks in a very important alliance. then he went to london and undermined theresa may in her
brexit work. at some point we have to move forward. the world now knows unequivocally that donald trump is a liar. but he remains our president and russia continues to try and interfere in our elections. we have an intelligence community that is contradicting the president, will probably do so later this hour with andrea mitchell. where do you go from here? what do you do when the president is supposed to be your last line of defense? >> well, at this point you've probably heard some of the reports where secretary of state mattis, who's having to do cleanup after the president, has to go around to our allies and essentially tell them, please discount the president. essentially don't believe anything he says. the treaties and policies that we have in place are going as they are. the intelligence community, and i'm sure jon will agree with this, is doing the exact same thing only not so explicitly as the secretary of defense. we do our jobs day in, day out. we create the product, we give
the intelligence to the consumers, but you cannot make those people -- >> but you did it on the basis you're an intelligence man and military man and all of our people in uniform in the clandestine services, in the service of the united states, do it in the hopes that they are saving lives or saving democracy. to find out that the president of the united states undermines you on a day-to-day basis has got to put us at risk democra c democratically and in terms of national security. >> absolutely. in terms of national security, we're already at great risk. i mean the president appears to have a version of an alternative loyalty to some other entity. however, that doesn't mean that he's no longer the decision-maker. we can produce it. we can try within the parameters of the laws to give intentions and warnings and make sure that our -- that the people who are up the chain of command know what they need to know in order
to stop threats to the united states. but the president himself as the national command authority has to take responsibility. if something happens in the future, whether our cyber systems are completely knocked down because the russians right now know they can get away with anything. then it's on donald j. trump. >> michael isikoff, you and david corn have written a remarkable book. it's really the comprehensive history of what has gone on and i've spoken to one of you every day now. the bottom line is the premise of your book was this was a secret, this was a plot, this was not supposed to be out in the open. it seems to a lot of americans and a lot of the world that as of monday and maybe last week in brussels and last week in london, it's out in the open. it looks like vladimir putin gets his way with donald trump. whether you believe it's collusion or you believe it's incidental or it's that vladimir putin has something on donald trump, it almost doesn't matter
at this point because it works. whatever vladimir putin has got is working. >> right. i mean the remarkable thing to me is, yes, we've had the intelligence assessments since january of 2017. every leader of all intelligence agencies have affirmed, reaffirmed it time and again. but last friday we had that indictment, and that was a really remarkable document. >> a very detailed document. >> incredibly detailed, very specified. and let's remember, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein said he had briefed the president on the indictment earlier in the week. this is before the president goes to helsinki. so presumably if the president had any real questions about the nature of the evidence, how strong it was, he could have -- he could have had every
opportunity to bring up these issues with his own deputy attorney general. and instead, what seems to have happened is he just took it in and then just went right back to the sort of talking points he's had since the 2016 campaign. >> but jon, this is just one more example. we've got michael isikoff and dave corn's book, we have this meeting that took place january 6, 2017, at three or four in which the heads of all the intelligence services briefed the president. for the president to say to jeff glor of cbs news, you know, this is what they do, they have their information, i don't necessarily believe it. there's a fundamental failing of the way the government is supposed to work if a year and a half into his governance the president doesn't believe his director of national intelligence or what the cia director tells him or the fbi director tells him. he used to say it was the deep state, he used to say it was
obama. today he called obama a patsy. these are his people, these are his picks. he seems to trusted no one with evidence. >> well, you know, ali, when you're looking at all of these contradictions that we're dealing with now coming out of the white house, it almost feels to me as though there are two governments operating here. there's the white house which doesn't have its act together and there is the rest of the government, people like secretary mattis, director coats, the cia director and so forth who are going forth doing their jobs. and i think seeking to reassure the world that the united states can remain on an even keel despite the rockiness that we see at the very top. one of the startling things to me in the last 24 hours has been the russian commentary in the public that they're prepared to come here and engage with our national security people, our
generals and so forth, and yet we haven't heard anything from our own military, our own defense people, our own state department people about what went on in that meeting. so what's clearly missing here is the normal interagency process where these senior people sit down around a table and figure out what is the policy and then there's a move into the public arena of what it is that the government as a whole wants to say. but right now i think we're seeing messages coming from at least in a way two separate governments here in washington. >> it's an interesting concept. malcolm, at this point we do have to start to worry. we know the president has been attacking the fbi for months and know he talks about the deep state. but at some point we don't talk enough about the fact that people like jon and people like you in your own different ways in the service that you provided the country keep our country safe in a manner that doesn't allow you to brag about it or tell people about it, and there
are people who have come before you who have died in that effort. when you go to the ci. -- cia, there's a wall of names that virtually no americans actually know. at some point when you continue to undermine the work of the people who keep this country safe, do we start losing those people? >> yes. you're naturally going to have a bleed-off of people who came into the job and did it, you know, to provide a service to the people of the united states. some people may feel that they're no longer of any service. i think we've seen a lot of that at the state department. and some of the other civil service. but within the intelligence community, we serve the seat of the president of the united states, not the individual who sits in it. that person changes every four years or so. but you are definitely going to have a corruption if you get to the point where the president of the united states no longer believes or even consumes the information that's being presented to him.
look, this is what we have here, and i do have to touch on history a bit. we have now been the victim not just of this hacking, but the russians have managed to create an entire mindset with 40% of the american public and the commander in chief that all of these institutions are not viable, that they are enemies of the state, and that they themselves are part of the problem. that's where we get into trouble. that's where this has been a brilliant intelligence operation on the part of the russians, changing the perception and hacking the mindset of the american public. the president is going to have to snap out of this stupor or we are going to suffer greatly. >> right. and, michael, yesterday lester, who's also at the summit where you are, interviewed christopher wray, the director of the fbi, and sort of pressed this point with him, whether it was about christopher wray or others in the fbi, how do you withstand
the constant attack. let's listen to this exchange. >> have you ever hit a point on that issue of sources an methods or anywhere elsewhere you've said this is a line? >> as i said, i'm a low key, understated guy, but that should not be mistaken for what my spine is made out of. >> so, michael, i put this to you because the other two guys in this interview are men who have dedicated themselves to the service of this country. so we're talking about them. it may not be fair to ask them. but in a lot of cases, they're low key, understated patriots in america who cannot be mistaken for having a spine. at what point does this president not only compromise our safety and security, but play right into the hands of vladimir putin on two fronts. one is he undermines nato. that's fantastic for vladimir putin. and two is, as malcolm said, 42% of americans aren't sure where they stand on this. >> i thought that comment by fbi director wray was pretty
significant, because he made it crystal clear, although he didn't use the words exactly, he would resign if push came to shove and he got ordered to turn over documents to congress that would jeopardize the ongoing investigation. wray was much more open and expressive, i thought, while he was here than he has been when he testifies before congress. you know, the white house probably should be listening pretty closely, because he pretty much drew a red line, i thought, to make it clear he's not going to be malleable. and i think that's what boxes the president in. i think at the end of the day he still believes what he believes. he was forced to back track this week because of the public uproar not because he's changed his view or got new information he didn't have before. but having people like wray and
dan coats and others stand up to him, it will be very interesting to see what coats says now in the interview with andrea mitchell. but i think that has clearly constricted the president's latitude. you know, it reinforces jon's point about we do have two governments here, and it's the rest of the government that will continue to operate. >> so, jon, you made this point the other day when you were with me, good on dan coats for standing up to the president on that. but when you look at the intelligence agency chiefs, whatever you think of them, the national security agency, the dni, the cia chief, gina haspel, chris wray, look, there are a lot of people who don't like gina haspel's position on torture, but there's nobody who doubts that she has dedicated her life to the cia. this puts these people in an unusual position now where dan coats had to go out, put out a statement that wasn't cleared by the white house the other day directly contradicting what the president said in helsinki.
at some point we need these people to be managing their organizations and managing threats to this country, not managing the president and the white house and their commentary. >> well, you're right, ali. i think two points i'd make in relation to that. in the last couple of weeks i've sensed a change in the way people in the government are reacting to the president's actions in wray's comments and dan coats' comments and just generally people have reached a kind of critical mass of being kind of fed up with this. those are the rails that people always talk about that we hope will hold in what amounts to an assault on our institutions. the second point that i want to make is one that i made with you the other day. when it comes to these intelligence officers, and i think malcolm would agree with this, they have an important shield that they can put up and
that they can use to defend themselves and the oath they took, and that is their constitutional mandate, their mandate by law to speak the truth. it's carved in marble on the wall at the cia and it's in the hearts of all intelligence officers. and i think that's something i would say to the american people. you can count on intelligence people to speak the truth in this environment. it's one reason why i don't want any of them resigning. i want them in place to do that. >> this is an important point, malcolm. that if the answer is that they quit because they can't take it, it doesn't help us. they need to be encouraged to do what john just said, to speak the truth behind the protection of the law that speaking the truth will not cost them. but that is a very hard position to be in. on the bottom right of your screen, you will see dan coats and andrea mitchell seated. they will be introduced by charlie allen, the former
undersecretary of homeland security for intelligence and analysis. he'll have a brief introduction and then andrea will interview the director of national intelligence. i didn't plan for this so i don't know if it's available to see if we've got that wall at the cia because it's a really good example. when you see that wall of those people who have lost their lives in the service of this country and you realize that they -- but for their families and those who knew they were there, many americans don't know they died for the country, don't know why they died for the country, can't know why they died for the country, but there is some thread that goes through all of you who serve this country secretly or in the open, in uniform or ununiformed. there is some thread that says the country is bigger than the president, it's bigger than its problems, it's bigger than its politics. >> and you know one of my favorite quotes is george washington's quote about freedom
being the light for which many men have died in darkness. within the intelligence community, that is an absolute. i have friends on the wall of honor at the cia. i have friends on the wall of honor at the national security agency, all of whom were my peers as well. we do work for one. we are servants to one master, and that is the constitution of the united states. and the constitution is what keeps them in. and i'm with john. people should stay at work because, you know, the president is not the only consumer of intelligence.
you have congress, you have the defense department -- >> malcolm, hold that thought. it's a very good one. hold that thought. i go to my colleague, andrea mitchell at the os 10 security forum with dni dan coats. >> let's talk with russia. you did something really extraordinary on monday. moments after the president appeared to be siding with vladimir putin over you, you personally by name, you stood up
and spoke out. i'm wondering, why did you do that? >> i'm not surprised we're starting with russia. i was just doing my job. as i expressed to the president on my third visit to the oval office as his new principal advisor, i said, mr. president, there will be times when i will have to bring news to you that you don't want to hear. i just want you to know that the news i bring to you, information i bring to you, will be to the best extent that we can be unvarnished, nonpoliticized, the best that our incredible intelligence agency can produce so that you will have the information you need to make the policy decisions that you're going to be faced with. and on that basis, we started a good relationship.
i just felt at this point in time that what we had assessed and reassessed and reassessed and carefully gone over still stands and that it was important to take that stand on behalf of the intelligence community and on behalf of the american people. as we have seen, the president has made statements relative to -- in support of that, which i appreciate. the latest being on, i think, one of your rival networks. give you the privilege of not naming them, so keep nbc in front here. so therefore, it was part of my role and i felt that it was important that i do that. it has been said, it has been discussed personally with the president and i think it's time to move on.
>> well, except that the president has made so many conflicting statements. he has switched from one position to the other even in the same day, as recently as yesterday, and i'm wondering when you watch that in helsinki, what was your gut reaction watching him validate vladimir putin's assessment over yours? >> well, my thoughts there were that i believed i needed to correct the record for that. this is the job i signed up for and that was my responsibility. obviously i wished he had made a different statement, but i think that now that has been clarified based on his late reactions to this. and so i don't think i want to go any further than that. >> well, in the cabinet look,
one of the statements you refer to, his clarifications, he said i accept our intelligence community's conclusion that russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place. could be other people also. could be other people also? what does he know that you don't know? >> well, could is not a definitive word here. could someone else be looking at how to do this relative to our elections? possibly rogue states, whatever. we know others have potential capability. but it's undeniable that the russians are taking the lead on this. basically they are the ones that are trying to undermine our basic values, divide it with our allies. they are the ones that are trying to wreak havoc over our election process. we need to call them out on that. it's critical that we do so. and then take steps to make sure
that they are not able to do this with the election coming up. learn the lessons from the past, put in place the things we need to put in place in terms of making sure that we can guarantee to the american public when they walk in that voting booth and cast their vote, however they cast it, it is a valid vote. it will not be tampered with. whatever result comes from these elections is something the american people can have confidence in, that it was not manipulated by anyone, whether that was externally or internally. we know politically there have been times when parties have tried to manipulate the votes one way or the other. that simply is not acceptable. the very pillar basics of democracy is the ability to have confidence in your elected officials, that they were elected legitimately, and we have to take every effort to ensure that that happens in this upcoming election and future elections. >> and just to nail this down,
the 2017 intelligence assessment of the community, the finding said putin and the russian government developed a clear preference for president-elect trump. 18 months later, has anything changed that would make it more or less certain that it was vladimir putin in charge of that? >> well, i don't want to get in too far into the investigation that's going on and what they may produce from that. >> but in terms of the intelligence assessment. >> well, we just continue to provide intelligence that we achieve relative to our customers which is the president, which are the policy makers in the white house and the oversight committees in the house and the senate. that is available to them. we will keep -- we will keep doing that. relative to what's coming in 2018, as director nielsen said
this morning, dhs does not have evidence of the fact anywhere near what happened in 2016. however, despite that, we absolutely cannot just rest on that assumption. as i mentioned in my speech at hudson just a week ago or so, it's just one click of a keyboard that could change this narrative. and so we have to be ever vigilant on this and i think we have to be relentless in terms of calling out the russians for what they have done. we have to be vigilant in terms of putting steps in place to make sure it doesn't happen again. more transparency we can have relative to this issue, the better. >> men and women who work for you are working around the clock. >> they are. >> around the world and putting their lives on the line in many cases to make sure that our democracy is safe. what do you say to them when the president disavows their work or others in our government disavow their work and criticize their
work? >> i say to our people all around the world and in the 16 agencies within the united states, i say to them we are professionals. we are here to provide professional service to our government. we need to keep our heads down, we need to go forward with the wonderful technological capabilities that we have to produce intelligence. there's a lot of swirl, political swirl going around. just do your jobs. our goal is to make unpli unpoliticized information necessary for our policy makers to make good decisions. so try to get up every morning and go to work, do your job. if you have thinking one way or another way relative to a plus or a minus, set that aside. go home and think about it, whatever. but the work product that you
are putting together has to be absent from any kind of political manipulation. >> in helsinki, the president was alone with vladimir putin for two hours, more than two hours, with only translators. basically, how do you know what happened? you are on the dark side of the moon. how do you have any idea what happened in that meeting? >> well, you're right, i don't know what happened in that meeting. i think as time goes by -- the president has already mentioned some things that happened in that meeting -- i think we will learn more. but that is the president's prerogative. if he had asked me how that ought to be conducted, i would have suggested a different way, but that's not my role. that's not my job. so it is what it is. >> is there a risk that vladimir putin could have recorded it?
>> that risk is always there. >> is there a risk that the soccer ball could have been wired? [ laughter ] >> was that a world cup soccer ball or was that a -- we have ability to measure those kinds of things to determine whether or not they are a risk or not. every time i come home with -- there is a limit to what they can give you when you meet with your foreign adversaries. all of that has to go through the radar and processes. is it less than $20 or whatever. so i'm sure that soccer ball has been looked at very carefully. >> i bet you looked at that big letter from kim jong-un that was brought into the oval office. that was really something else. today the white house said that the president now disagrees with vladimir putin's offer to question ambassador mcfaul and others, other americans, other diplomats. as a former ambassador, are you
dismayed that it took the president three days to come to that conclusion? >> andrea, you know, i don't know how to answer questions like that. my focus now is on what's happening around the world, the threats that are facing the american people, threats that undermine our democracies. that's what i was hired to do. i can't focus -- you know, when i was a policy maker in the congress, i -- we like to think, you know, as senators, we have an answer for everything even though we don't. but we like to think that. now i'm in a completely different job. i spend a lifetime trying to get my name in the paper back at home so people would vote for me, remember the name when they went in the voting booth. i'm in a job now that's just the
opposite. i like to spend my lifetime not being in the paper, not having my picture or words -- i do very few of these types of -- >> i know, we're very grateful to you for today. >> it's attractive -- it's hard to say no to an invitation to aspen, especially in the hot summer of washington, d.c. but i just, you know, try to keep my focus where it needs to be. and so i just -- there are some things i don't get into. >> let's focus on your warnings. on friday you warned that -- you said the warning lights are blinking red again, as they were before 9/11 on terror threats. you were speaking about cyber. >> i was. >> you said russia was the most aggressive of the foreign actors in cyber. >> by far. >> in what way? what does it mean in terms of the attacks, the frequency of attacks, successful attacks? >> it means we're under attack. in many, many ways, our financial institutions, our
critical infrastructure, our industries. in many ways, the plus side of what the interconnectedness of the world through the internet, all the revolutionary things that have incredibly impactful in terms of moving us forward, we're now learning about the dark side and it's pretty ugly. and what we see every day against our institutions, against our military, against our financial services, against our critical infrastructure, stretching from those who have major capabilities of doing this starting with russia, including china, maybe for a different purpose, stealing our innovations. their intent, i think, is different than the russians. add iran into that. add isis into that. we started -- we first learned
about isis when they started slicing off heads, and we identified isis as a seventh century barberism that was just totally unacceptable. and where did this come from? where did this theology come from? at the same time they were slicing off heads, they were operating a cyber program to reach out, to recruit people, to give instructions, to take acts to join this movement, this jihadist movement for some incapable, very capable ways of using cyber, sophisticated ways. and so you see the danger that cyber can provide if you do it in nepherous ways. it's a sophisticated nation with a lot of capabilities to rogue states to criminal organizations to a kid sitting in his dorm room that can wreeak havoc on or
economy, on our critical infrastructure. we are throwing everything we have at it to prevent that from happening, but it has become, in my mind and what i stated in the threat assessments up there at the top. and we need to understand that. i was worried about a complacency. oh, you know, every day you hear 120 million people's names have been snatched from equifax or this or that or whatever. yeah, yeah, okay. and they probably got stuff from you through your phone. you should be changing your pass word every week. i can't remember a pass word anyway. et cetera, et cetera. there is a complacency and acceptance of what's happening out there. this is just what it is. this is just the result of it. and so i'm concerned about -- you say what are you worried at night. i'm concerned about a cyber 9/11. >> what would that look like? >> let's say you shutdown wall
street for a week. what does that do to world markets and people's investments? let's say you crash bank of america or wells fargo. people are saying, what happened to my account, what happened to my retirement? we'll get it back. okay. well, we've seen this and we've seen coverage of that. we haven't seen the big one. what about an attack on the electric grid in new england in january? that maybe as sophisticated enough to take it out for three days. how many people will die from minus degree weather on that? those are the things i think you have to look -- you have to try to anticipate. what are the capabilities that our adversaries now have if they wanted to use them. and as charlie allen, who in my mind is a legend. i look to him for advice on regular breakfast. i won't tell you where we meet. but these are things i think
strategically we have to look forward. tom clancy's sum of all fears, when a terrorist group obtains a weapon of mass destruction. the weapon of mass destruction had been one of those airliners that hit the twin towers. we wouldn't be talking about 3,000 victims. we'd be talking about 300,000 victims or more. and so these are the things we have to think about. we can't rest on our laurels that, yes, we collect a lot of information. we know what's going on. there are people out there playing this game of chess with us in ways that are -- want to take us down. and we have to be better than they, and that is a huge challenge. it's why i say it is a whole of government effort that has to take place relative to cyber. >> yet the white house fired its cyber coordinator and has not replaced him. is the president really engaged in this? because if the president is not
leading the charge, will the troops really try to take the hill? >> as you know, we have a new national security advisor john bolton. john bolton made a decision to make a change relative to who was handling that at the white house level. john bolton is putting in place the replacements for that. it is -- he assured me that is a key issue that we need to address. in the meantime, this is spread throughout our various agencies. each one, somewhat different than the other, taking major steps, but we have fusion centers. we have processes underway. kirstjen nielsen told you what dhs is doing. defense is doing that. all of our agencies are engaged in that. this is going to continue to ramp up and it involves not just tampering with the election, but it involves putting the right defenses in place, the right
strategies in place in terms of how to retaliate if necessary. it's clearly one of our top priorities. >> last week you said russia and other actors were exploring vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and trying to infiltrate energy, water, nuclear and manufacturing sectors. these actions are persistent. they are pervasive. and they are meant to undermine america's democracy. have they succeeded? have you found penetrations in areas? >> well, sure. i mean, we see -- all you have to do is pick up the paper and see who was the latest hack, successful hack. >> this is from criminal syndicates or foreign actors? >> from any number -- attribution is the problem we have. you're not lining up tanks and planes and see where the enemy is. you don't know exactly where it's coming from. we have capabilities to determine that. but