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Trump Administration
  Meet the Press  NBC  January 15, 2017 8:08am-8:18am PST

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and intervened militarily in syria leaving a trail of death and destruction. >> joining me is the president-elect incoming chief of staff, reince priebus. welcome back to the program, sir. >> thank you, chuck. >> let me start with what congressman amash tweeted. he had a pretty succinct respond to the third tweet that the president-elect made on john lewis, simply, dude, just stop. let me ask you this, does the president-elect contemplate reaching out to congressman lewis privately before tweeting? >> here's the thing, i think that, chuck, it's shocking that congressman lewis who is a civil rights icon and is a person who has championed voting rights would actually question the legitimacy of an election in this country in starting this firestorm. i mean, the truth is donald trump won 30 of 50 counties.
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he won 128 out of the 159 counties in georgia. he flipped 200 counties that obama won and had the biggest electoral landslide on our side of the aisle since ronald reagan. i mean, i get you want to go back and forth on tweets, but the truth is it's irresponsible for john lewis, historic as he is, to have done this. and the other piece of this, chuck, is that barack obama should step up as well and call it what it is. it's wrong what is happening. it's wrong how some of these democrats are treating president-elect trump. we have a great relationship with the white house. i talk to dennis mcdonogh every day. we had a great meeting with the cabinet members and the sitting white house cabinet members on friday. the transfer of power within the white house is going great, but to do this to president-elect
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trump five days before he puts his hand on the bible is just wrong and the democrats are fund raising on this comment from congressman lewis right now. so they're making money on it. >> let me ask you this, because one of the things that congressman lewis says he will never forget and possibly never forgive that vladimir putin is a stronger leader than president obama and there are people that will respond to your comments right now and say donald trump spent five years questioning the legitimacy of barack obama's constitutional viability to be president of the united states with the birther controversy. do you understand why there are going to be some who look at your criticism of john lewis and say that's hypocritical coming from somebody who works for donald trump? >> so first of all, he -- the president-elect never said that vladimir putin was a better person. he didn't say -- >> i said stronger leader.
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my question to you was stronger leader for what it's worth. that's what i quoted. >> i get it. i'm trying to make the distinction. it wasn't he's a better person, and i would rather have him as president of the united states. it was the characteristics of leadership can be parsed and compared, and characteristic qualities can be a lot of things and that's what he was talking about, but certainly wouldn't prefer vladimir putin over barack obama as president of the united states. that's ridiculous and to take an old argument about where the president was born has nothing to do with whether or not any democracy in the united states, whether donald trump won the election and whether it was legitimate. james clapper, the intelligence community and i don't know if john lewis knows more than they do, but they have concluded that there is no evidence that anything that was done in the course of this election by russians or whoever changed the course of this election. in fact, the only evidence there
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is of tampering and having a real connection to foreign leadership was the dnc pagan operative over $400,000 to meddle in the ukraine to dig up dirt on donald trump. nobody's talking about the $400,000 the dnc spent digging up dirt to an operative in the ukraine. there is nothing in regard -- and all of the intelligence agencies have concluded that. >> when you say there's nothing here -- >> i mean evidence that changed the outcome of the election. >> you're not disputing that there is a lot of evidence of russia's attempts to interfere in the election? >> i'm not disputing that the russian entities hacked the dnc, but i am -- i'm not going to go back to our interview of a few weeks ago, i will say that when you don't have defenses on your computer system and you
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basically hand over 50,000 emails obviously that makes it a whole lot easier, and i also think that the clinton folks wasted $1 billion of their donors' money and they've got a lot to answer for and none of this would be happening if hillary clinton would have simply not used a personal server in violation of federal law. >> okay, but mr. priebus does that excuse a foreign government from attempting to interfere in the united states election? >> we've never -- of course not. all of it's wrong. china's wrong. russia is wrong, iran is wrong, all of these entities are wrong for doing what they've done, but back to john lewis, for him then to say which no intelligence official is saying, that donald trump was elected illegitimately is irresponsible, and just because he's a civil rights leader and someone that i respect as a civil rights leader and someone that i went to selma with him and many others. >> yes, you did. >> a few years ago, it doesn't
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excuse the fact that his statement was not responsible and it's not right and it's too bad because president-elect trump's going to be a great president and this country elected him in an electoral landslide and it's a shame. it's really a shame that five days from now he's being sworn in and we're talking about this. >> i want to talk about this, because the issue has to do with russia and there was another dispute and some concern that on the same day that the obama administration announced new sanctions against russia for their meddling in the 2016 election that the national security adviser michael flynn was on the phone multiple times with the russian ambassador to the united states. can you say definitively that there was no promises, no winks, no anything that somehow there was a -- an acknowledgement that these sanctions will go away as quickly as possible once the inauguration takes place? >> so, chuck, almost every
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single day general flynn talks to counterparts and ambassadors from all over the world. almost every single day. that's his job. so as a national security adviser for those that don't know, one of his jobs is to be in constant communication with counterparts and security issues all over the world. >> the tick-tock on this is that at christmas the two of them texted each other merry christmas. a couple of days later this ambassador texted general flynn that he wanted to talk and then the next day they had a conversation which did happen to be that same day, but i have talked to general flynn. none of that came up and the subject matter of sanctions or the actions taken by the obama administration did not come up in the information. in fact, it was the sports team that was in an unfortunate plane accident. they talked about setting up a phone call after inauguration, and they also talked about a conference in syria, and that
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conference in regard to isis in syria. those were the only subjects that came up, but there was no controversy in general flynn talking about their counterparts in the world? >> there was no challenge by the russians? >> no, sir. >> there was a new report out from "esquire" magazine that includes quotes by the incoming secretary and anonymous quotes that seemed to indicate that it is your intent to remove the white house press corps from the white house. is that true? >> well, look, first of all -- let me explain. no, because the white house obviously is 18 acres, right, chuck? no. the technical answer is no, but what we have is you saw the news conference the other day, and i would have to quarrel with you. i don't think it was a bizarre news conference. i don't think it's a fair characterization, but there was 500 to 600 reporters at that news conference.
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what i'm talking about and what we're talking about and the only thing that was discussed about this, is whether or not you take 50 people in the very small press room which it looks big on tv, but is very diny and whether you want to go 50 feet to the eob and have for the first few weeks or the first months or so the press conferences where you can fit three or four times the amount of people. it is about more access. >> this isn't about the office space or any of that business? >> this is about quadrupling the amount of reporters that can cover our press conference. >> but there will still be reporters -- there will still be reporters every day going to work in the white house? >> well, that hasn't been determined, chuck, but as of now the only thing that created this story, i just want to make it very clear was the question of whether or not the press briefings, at least initially are going to be in the eob. >> is this about press briefings
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or is this about kicking the press out of the building altogether? >> this is about press briefings. that's what created this story. >> all right. reince priebus. i will leave it there. so the press will still be going to work every day in the white house. >> how about a little go, pack, go? >> there will be a lot of go.