tv MSNBC Live With Steve Kornacki MSNBC January 17, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
instagram. up next, steve kornacki who has new numbers from the nbc/wall street journal poll. >> brand new numbers in just a minute. good afternoon, i'm steve kornacki live here in washington, d.c. and we are three days away now and counting until donald trump is sworn in as president. topping our agenda right now, the question of legitimacy. >> this superior court also ill legitimate? >> yes. yes, i do. does the public agree? >> in just a mite, we are going to unveil brand new polling that looks at that question for the first time. stand by for that. also on the agenda, the boycott. more than 50 democrats now say they're going to sit out friday's inauguration, they are heeding the call of congressman john lewis who finds himself on
defense this afternoon. >> made a statement much earlier that we do not attend the first bush inauguration. that is factual. >> lewis the first to call for a boycott of trump's inauguration, now acknowledging that he did so for a previous president as well. that is contrary to a statement he made earlier this week. trump says it's dishonesty, but dozens of lawmakers are lining up behind lewis. finally this hour, jacob soboroff on the ground, he is barn storming the country all week looking at the reality of the incoming president's biggest promises. jacob checks in from texas where there's an energy boom that could have major implications for the next four years. that is ahead, so it much more, but we do begin with our top story. we have brand new poll numbers to tell you about. these are new numbers that i can release about russia and the 2016 election. now remember, we have a number
of democratic lawmakers saying that russian interference makes donald trump an illegitimate president. question, what does the rest of the country say? well here we go. this is an nbc/wall street journal poll, first there is this, just over a third of americans say they don't think russian hackers were behind those leaked democratic e-mails that came out during the campaign, however, break that wn by party, you see some very sharp division, 61% of publicans say there was no interference by the russian government. 78% of democrats say yes, there was. big partisan divide there. remember, donald trump until very recently, he was saying he didn't think russia was behind the hacking. now though he says he think it's likely the russians were. more from our poll to tell you about, even the republicans who do say that russia tried to meddle in the election, most of them say he'd had no impact on the results of the election. meanwhile, the democrats who say russia interfered overwhelmingly they say it did impact the
result. how much impact do you think the alleged russian interference had in the outcome really seems to depend on which party you support. meanwhile, there is news today on the russia front as well. russian president vladimir putin stepping into this debate, he is now accusing president obama of trying to undermine president-elect trump. he says the obama administration is spreading unfounded rumors about russian involvement in the election in the hopes of damaging trump. kristen welker is outside trump tower. kristen, vladimir putin himself speaking out, what exactly is he says? how is that going over inside trump tower where you are? >> reporter: well, that's right, president putin essentially saying that president obama's trying to undermine the incoming administration that they have loose mora effectively using some really strong language. the trump administration officials not responding
directly, but of course we have heard -- >> all right, looks like we have lost kristen welker, we're going to work to get that back. when we do, we will head back over to trump tower. meanwhile though, more polling numbers we can tell you about this earlier today from abc news and the washington post. shows that just 40% of americans approve of the way that trump is handling this presidential transition. the headline today coming from of course that is a historic low. just take a look at some of the most recent presidential transitions. donald trump a full 30 to 40 points lower than all of his predecessors. stark difference there. and when you look at the question of favorability in general, only 40% of americans have a favorable view of donald trump as he becomes their president. the next low nest recent history. look at george w. bush, he was a full 16 points ahead of trump. this of course was after the disputed election of 2000. however, if we dig a little
deeper into these numbers, it may not be as simple as it it looks. what we're seeing here may not be that new. it may be more of an extension what have had become the reality of american politics. partisan polarization. used to be that this transition period between the election and inauguration was exempt from polarization. look that the, eight years ago, president obama coming into office, almost two-thirds of republicans. the opposition party, they said, they were willing to bury the hatchet and rally behind the new president. now, flash forward, eight years later today for trump, only 11% of democrats say the same thing. and that is why trump's overall number are so low compared to past presiden. it offering no goodwill. and bringing his numbers way down. now, obviously democrats will say, this is trump's fault because he had failed to reach out since the election, but whoever you point fingers at, look at it this way, trumps numbers now, they look just like they did during the campaign. and they look a lot like obama's did for most of his presidency and how george w. bush's looked
through most of his presidency. overwhelming support through his own party. overwhelming opposition from the other party. you have intense polarization. yes, it is new for an incoming president to have negative numbers this high. stopped for the transition, maybe ast the only time it's been suspended. question is that how to look at this, final victory for partisan polarization. completely taken over politics even the transition. more i want to bring in pat devine, senior advisor on bernie sanders' presidential campaign. former congressman tom davis, republican from virginia. susan page, let me start with you. he has not even become president yet, but are we looking at these polls at what the ceiling is for donald trump? four years. >> these number are remarkable. they are worse than what previous presidents have faced. his approval rating is below what the vote he got in november. some of his supporters don't approve of the job he's done in
the transition and do not have a favoritability view of him. and if you combine the unfavorable rating. he's not higher than the last three, he's higher than the authorities if you combine them. but the approval ratings together. he has a higher number. i think goes beyond what we saw even in the aftermath of that disputed election with the george w. bush and i think part of it is because trum hlf as president-elect has continued to pursue the kind of critism, the kind of tweeting that he did during the campaign. he did not make a transition to being president-elect in his manner in his attacks and he is paying a price for that. >> it was striking. as soon as the results came in, donald trump gave that speech. it was conciliatory. that was the last time we heard that. what he is saying about the poll numbers today, donald trump took to twitter, he said the same people who did the phony election polls and were so wrong are now doing the approval rating polls. they are rigged just like before. so, tom davis was saying, this is an extension, donald trump's answer right here of how he's
behaved for the entire campaign pretty much. do you think though this actually does bother him? on the inside, is he bothered by these numbers or really believe they mean nothing? >> look, it's got to bother anybody. you'd like to have high approval ratings. the group question is, is this the new normal given the polarization we have in the country today and what does this mean in the midterm for republicans if you want to keep four years of control of the house and the senate? and this is a low by historical standards on that. but it's a distinction of where the campaign was. a the love people who voted for trump or hillary voting against the other candidate. >> can he deliver a message on friday? is there a message that anyone could deliver in the situation and is he himself capable of delivering it would change any of it. >> i think he's capable. and this is the one speech everybody will listen to. not the tweets, you'll have everybody really ngin from the me tune. it's hard to alr that. we'll see. >> t, how do you think democrats should be handling this? we're going to talk more later in the show. talk of the boycott of the ip
inauguration, it's growing, more than four dozen democrats saying it, you've got some of them saying this guy is not a legitimate president. how should they be handling this? >> i think honestly is how they should handle it. listen, i think we should question his legitimacy. it was not a free and fair election -- it was free -- >> you do? >> it was free in the sense we didn't have people with machine guns and polling places. it was not fair. the intervention of the russians, diane feinstein is a respected person seen all the intelligence said that she believes the russian intervention altered the outcome. the action of the fbi director had a huge impact. it is under investigation right now. i don't think it was a fair election. having said that, what i think democrats would say is listen, it was a legal election. he has the authority of the presidency. we should be deal with him as such. but i think what trump is going to do -- >> what does that mean? if you're saying not legitimate, but legal. if you're a democrat, you're in congress, you have to approach legislation that he leaves behind. how does that affect? >> you deal with him as president, okay, you don't
boycott the congress and the legislative process, you deal with him in good faith. listen, trump is killing himself right now. when you attack everybody from john lewis to meryl streep, okay, your numbers are going to go down. as long as he keeps doing it, his numbers will go down. >> that is the striking thing. he is not yet president and yet you look at the weeks since the election, he's been dizzying, the controversy, the outburst, the fights that he's been in. one question that comes to me is four years of a trump presidencyn e untry handle that? are we going to be exhausted at a certain point? >> we better get used to it. we've been waiting for a year for droump change when he gets there. serious candidate, when he wins the republican nomination. donald trump is donald trump. this is how donald trump is going to behave. for those who support him, that is fine. they like the fact that he's combative, but it raises a question. i think what will catch up with president trump if it does is not his manner of communicating, it's going to be the reality of
what happens in the country. what happens to the economy. what is he able to do in health care? what happens with relations with russia, germany, and nato. it seems we're going to move into a period where we're talking about less about what he tweets and more about the impact what have he has done. >> and this whole situation, tom, with russia, vladimir putin stepping in today. into the debate at least. you've got tad saying it and many democrats saying this makes trump an illegitimate president. how do they look that the? john mccain, marco rubio, lindsey graham, you have so many hawks in the republican party when it comes to the subject of putin, subject of russia. and now you've got a republican president who says he wants a brand new relationship and he's moving -- whatever you think, he is moving forward in that direction and how much will the republican party go with him on that? >> he's got wide -- he's got wide powers on foreign policy that congress can't do a lot about except talk. so you've got to understand, he sets that -- if you look at his secretary of state, secretary of defense, it wasn't congruent with what president-elect trump is doing. look, i think this is still
cycling out and we'll see where it plays out that the point. republicans are excited because eyan get tax reform that they want to do. they can get a different health care plan. and if he can deliver it, susan says if he gets good results, this stuff turns around a little bit, but it's still a very polarized country with people tuning into the media they want to hear. listening to the friends they want to hear. unfriending the people they want to hear. it's just very polarized. >> just quickly, there is -- you were with the bernie sanders campaign. one thing when i look at this, there's a bit of an overlap between what trump tapped into and what bernie sanders tapped into. change candidate in the campaigns against the system. >> right. >> every prescription hillary clinton offered in the campaign, people would say look, we have all these plans, and they did, but they all assumed that the system worked. here's how we're going to tweak the system. do you see from the bernie sanders standpoint. do you see some issues where there could be some overlap during his presidency? >> listen, if trump says what he says he's going to do on trade
for example, he wants attorney have health care, that's great. he says he wants to take on powerful interest, that's fantastic. and that's why i say, democrats should deal with him in that context, but if he's going to give, you know, instead of giving lincoln's speech with malls will towards none and charity towards all. let me tell you something, he's going to go down. >> tad, tom, susan, thank you all for joining us. we're going to take a quick break. excuse me, confirmation hearings for more of donald trump's cabinet appointees, they are continuing this week one of his most controversial picks. that is choice for secretary of education. her hearing begins at the top of the hour. are democrats going to knock out of any of trump's cabinet picks? we're going to break that down, as the list skipping the inauguration gets longer, more republicans speaking out against that move. >> i don't think anybody will miss them, and i think it's an incredibly me chew lant response to a free and fair election.
>> amid all that criticism, msnbc caught up with john lewis earlier. what he is now saying about his decision, the one that started all of this controversy to boycott the inauguration. we'll show that to you next. i'm good. i won't be late hey mom. yeah. no kissing on the first date, alright? life doesn't always stick to a plan, but with our investment expertise we'll help you handle what's next. financial guidance while you're mastering life. from chase. so you can. and the wolf huffed like you do sometimes, grandpa? well, when you have copd, it can be hard to breathe. it can be hard to get air out, which can make it hard to get air in. so i talked to my doctor. she said... symbicort could help you breathe better, starting within 5 minutes. symbicort doesn't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden symptoms. symbicort helps provide significant improvement
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we did not attend the first bush inauguration. that is factual. >> because you did not consider him a legitimate president? >> we didn't end a it like so many other members of the congress did. but president bush was a friend of mine. >> congressman john lewis this afternoon responding to questions from msnbc about a
2001 article that surfaced today showing that lewis had also boycotted george w. bush's inauguration back in 2001. an article from the washington post detailing lewis' decision back then because he thought it would be hypocritical to attend bush's swearing in because he didn't believe that bush was the true elected president. that was 15 years ago. over 50 democratic members of congress this week, that's about a quarter of all democrats in the house, they now say they will join lewis in not attending trump's inauguration this friday. some have said they are not attending to stand with lewis. many others using the moment to express different forms of political dissent. democrat from new hampshire, last night she became the first member of congress from a district that went for trump to say that she will not be at his inauguration. she said she will instead use the time to pray. democrat from california, judy chu describing her absence, i do not question the legitimacy of mr. trump's election, i object to his treatment of americans,
particularly those who disagree with him. congresswoman judy and dan donovan join me now. let me start with you, you do not question the legitimacy of donald trump's election. because many of your colleagues here are saying not just that they're not going to be there, they don't think he's a legitimate president. i just to want make sure we're clear on that. you think he's a legitimate president. >> let me say i respect the peaceful transition of power. and that i believe that donald trump did win the electoral college. but i do think there's a huge, dark cloud over his election. we have very, very disturbing news about russian hacking of this election confirmed by all the intelligence agencies. we have the lack of divesting itself from the financial dealings with foreign governments, and then attacking the ethics committee chief. and then, we have a lack of transparency on the tax returns.
there is a huge amount that is unknown and there should be an investigation -- especially of the russian hacking. so, i do not, by any means that say there is a good way that we should all just come togethe and accept this presidency. no, we have to answer these questions. >> let me ask you then, i'm thinking back to the final weeks of the campaign, i've been thinking about this a lot, donald trump in one of those debates, of course you probably remember, he was asked would you accept the outcome of the presidential election if you lose. and his answer was i'll get back to you. and there was a huge uproar from democrats, hillary clinton, barack obama, every democrat that was out there, president obama himself said when you try to sew the seeds of doubt about the legitimacy of our election, that undermines our democracy and now fast forwarding, days away from donald trump being sworn in, few people expected him to win the election last fall, but isn't that what democrats are doing? there's a huge cloud hanging
over his presidency, aren't you sewing the seeds of doubt? >> it is a cloud that is so very clear. we have never seen a situation where russians have come into actually try to determine the outcome of the presidency. and proactively searched for information against one candidate and for another. so, this is a serious situation, and it deserves to have a full examination by the public before we really go ahead. >> congressman donovan, i want to bring you into this from a different standpoint. donald trump made his displeasure with john lewis, with the democrats who are boycotting this, who are saying he's not a legitimate president. he's made that very clear. i can't help with trump but think back four or five years ago, we'll put this up on the screen. this is one of countless tweets this guy put out, public statements he put out questioning legitimacy of president obama. here's donald trump in 2012, extremely credible source has
called my office and told me that barack oma'sirth certificate is a aud. he pushed the birther theory for years after it was completely discredited. he questioned president obama's legitimacy. how can donald trump now claim offense when he legitimacy is questioned? >> well, i think steve, it's time to get past all of this. the election was held, it's time to governor. donald trump is going to become the 45th president of the united states. it's a historic moment. it's only the third time in history where the republicans who control the administration and both houses of congress, let me say, john lewis, i'm a member of congress, john lewis is my favorite congressman. i call my of my colleagues by first name, i call him mr. lewis, he's an american hero. his comments about president-elect trump, i don't agree with him, i don't agree with president-elect trump has said about my friend john lewis, but it's time to get past all of this. the american public is tired of the partisanship, they're tired
of the bickering. they selected one man to lead this country. and that man is going to lead on friday. >> and let me ask you, it's time to get past this, as a republican, do you see -- is there a role, an obligation for donald trump, given the history. he was out there questioning the legitimacy of president obama. he's never apologized for that. he's never really given accounting of that. isn't that a role for him to step forward as he becomes president to try to say something conciliatory to move the country forward to the place you're talking about instead of the sniping. >> i think we're going to find his leadership, starting friday, his actionwillhow that. and he said those things as citizen donald trump. now he's president-elect donald trump, and you know, back then in 2008 when barack obama was elected, i was a big supporter of john mccain and i did a show similar to yours back then, and the reporter said to me, well i guess being a mccain supporter you're hoping that barack obama fails. no, just the opposite. he is my president too. and donald trump is all
american's president. and his success is going to be our nation's successes. and his failures will be our nation's failures. i'm hoping that people who supported secretary clinton, who supported senator sanders, those who supported maybe one of the 16 other republicans candidates during the primary election process all get behind the president because if he is successful, america will be successful. >> congresswoman, last question do to you, do you want donald trump to succeed as president? >> i hope that he can succeed. i hope that he will have a dialogue with us. i, in fact, led a letter as chair of the pacific american caucus to have him meet with us so we could raise our concerns. we have yet to reach an acknowledgment. i think for one thing, donald trump should try to unify the country instead of dividing us. and making gratuitously negative comments about our civil rights icon john lewis. comments he did not have to make.
comments that were during the martin luther king weekend of all times. and comments right before his inauration. the totally inappropriate time to do all of this. that's why i'm not attending the inauguration. >> all right. congresswoman judy chu, thanks to both of you for joining us. >> thank you, steve. we have breaking news now from washington. we to want let you know about, the white house just announcing hundreds of sentence come ewations. obama has a few days left. among those just announced, former army specialist chelsea manning. diplomatic cables to wikileaks back in twen. manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. but with president obama's actions today, she will go free on may 17th. msnbc chief legal correspondent ari melbe recross examination. there was a lot of buzz in the last few days about whether president obama might do this. is this a big surprise? and take us through what this
means. >> it is barely surprising. it is clearly the most prominent and probably the most controversial communation of president obama's entire time. chelsea manning convicted of serious national security crimes against the state. a long sentence reflecting what prosecutors thought he or later she after elective sex change surgery should face. and those are prosecutors working for the obama justice department. this is a very big statement coming out of the white house. that they think enough time has been served and as you were mentioning, a very big difference. we've seen some commutations where you're shaving a few years off, here close to 28 years shaved off this sentence. i will tell you this is something many people had clambered for. there was strong political and public calls for some kind of change here. the idea that this was a very fierce, very long sentence for someone who didn't physically hurt anyone, who didn't do any
crime of violence, was a very long sentence. on the other side, i don't have to tell you, steve, this will be viewed as very controversial, particularly among conservatives and other folks in the national security community who feel that leaks, something that's been back in the news recently, national security leaks against the state must be punished. so it's a big, probably the biggest commutation or pardon action we've seen from president obama. >> this is always the drama at the end of the a presidency. who will get a pn, who will not. thank you for that. ron allen meanwhile at the white house,on, you've got more. what are we learning about the rational behind this? how are they going to sell this? >> well, that's a good question, i think it's humanitarian, it is a recognition that this was the longest sentence of 35 years that was ever imposed on this sort of offense. there was a feeling perhaps that time served was sufficient, and this was a very unique case in some ways.
because of the -- i would also think that the transgender identity of chelsea manning may have played a role in all of this. you know the administration has been very sort of an opponent of transgender rights. gay and lgbtq community. so that may have played a factor. frankly in the days leading up to this, when asked about this, the administration often emphasizes there's been a military process that has gone under way, there's been a trial, a sentence, they seem to put a period at the end of it. so frankly it's a little surprising that they did this. however, this is among 2809 other commutations that the president is announcing today. we knew that there were hundreds of cases, thousands that were considered. this president has now ka muted the sentences of 1,400 people during his time in office and aside from the manning case, the merit, the reason for all, the rational for all of that is because of the president's belief in criminal justice reform.
the sentence should fit the crime essentially. and that's what he is susceptibly saying in the manning case. and that's what he's saying in the other cases which mostly involve non-violent drug offenders. people who were sentenced in the '70s, '80s, during mandatory sentencing periods where there were much different penalties during so the-called war on drugs. the president's view and those of others that the lengthy sentences have destroyed families, have taken especially minority men out of the population, out of the work rcand hurt families as well. but of course, to some extent, the march case falls into a different category. has to deal with national security issues. it has to deal with other issues. so it is a big surprise that had happened. and like i said, when asked about this, the administration kept emphasizing that there was a complete process in the military of today, that there was an inference that as the commander in chief, the president should not interfere in that process, but clearly the president was moved by the argument that time served had
been enough. whether the punishment fits the crime, including this one. >> ron allen at the white house. this is big news again. we're just learning about it. a commutation, not a pardon, a commutation from president obama as he leaves office of chelsea manning who leaked all of that sensitive information that appeared on wikileaks a few years ago. also the obama presidency was winding down, it is, but moves like this can certainly have an impact on a president's legacy. you just think of bill clinton and mark, george hw bush, those pardons they offered on their way out. still talked about today. this one, i am certain will be talked about for a while. and we will talk more about it on the other side of this break. and squeeze a quick break in here. more on this breaking news. the commutation of chelsea manning sentence more on the prarations othe inauguration in washington. we'll be back right ter this. wh customer contracts,
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all right. we are back here live in washington, d.c. we are continuing to follow breaking news. the whe house announcing that president obama in one of his final acts as presidency. this is a big one, he is offering a commutation of the sentence that chelsea manning received. chelsea manning had been sentenced to 35 years in prison. the president now offering a commutation, of course this is something any president can do. pretty much as blanket authority when it comes to commuting sentences, when it comes to offering pardons, there is always a flurry of activity, a flurry of speculation in the final days of any administration, sort of the last chance for a lot of people who are looking for a commutation or certainly remember bill clinton pardon, march rich on his way out of office, that caused extreme controversy, bill clinton's poll numbers sunk because of that george h.w. bush, casper wineburger, the iran contra figure in his final
days. this is something very much a part of president bush's legacy, and this will become part of president obama's legacy, the decision to pardon chelsea manning who of course had the source of leaks for wikileaks, it loomed very large over national security, over international affairs and american politics for the last few years and probably will loom large for the years to come. i believe we still have ari mel ber with us in new york. and if you're there, let me just ask you nuts and bolts question here, commutation versus pardon, what's the difference? what's the consideration? >> aardon is wiping clean any past conviction. you have a clean record and as if you never committed the crime legally. commutation is a leniency. it is not wiping out the crime, it's not saying you shouldn't have served some time, it is a legal statement that your punishment may have been excessive or that other mitigating factors basically
recommends for your release. that is certainly significant here because this the administration that prosecuted chelsea manning, there has been a judgment that this was a major national security event. she was prosecuted under the espionage act. that is crimes against the state. that is movie territory when you think about someone who is in the military being accused of aiding the enemy. that was the language used controversially so because chelsea manning's lawyers always pointed out the nature of the offense was providing a release of documents to what we would call a website or a publisher in wikileaks. certainly a controversial publisher, but not the same as the enemy. not like providing documents directly to say isis. be that as it may, the commutation is basically saying this was in the view of the president now with all the facts in too severe. too extreme and thus the commutation of the sentence means by may, grappling with the
way legal sanctions or punishment should be need the out in a new world where it is easier than ever to leak the obama administration pursued more cases under the espionage act targeting leakers and in some cases journalists than any other administration. to critics, that has been seen overly aggressive use of the power. here we are as one is ending and we're seeing what might be characterized as slight pulling back of the aggressiveness, steve, because obviously if you throw the book at someone, you get 35 years and a couple years in, you double back and say no,
we're going to let her out. she served enough time. that would suggest the 35 year sentence in the judgment of t president was too long. soa bit of a pulling back on some of that here isar of the headline. and something that we'll see in the administration. how do they approach leaks? >> ari, i want to put a tweet out, this came from wikileaks itself. it is five days ago, january 12th. it was responding to the speculation that president obama might do, might offer commutation to chelsea manning. and if obama grants remain in clemency, julian assange will agree to u.s. extradition despite legal unconstitutionality. julian assange, a wanted man, he's been living in the ecuador yan assembly. is there speculation that there's a connection. >> that's a fascinating piece of public negotiation. usually those kind of legal
negotiations happen in private. under what conditions would someone consent to jurisdiction, to extradition. we should note though that he is in the ek with a dorn avoiding different countries under alleged sex crimes. there's more than one international i think ale to that and obviously i have a lawyer wouldn't say that what wikileaks posts or tweets is any kind of binding promise. so i don't know that we can say anything confirm toir about that. but it is fascinating because this is an organization that again, at the time of manning's original leaks was seen as much more of a neutral pubbisher platform. controversial, but i would say more politill neutral and was puishing embarrassing material about a lot of different governments. i think it's fair to say today wikileaks is viewed quite differently. over the ensuing years, assange being holed up in the embassy, making deals with certain governments instead of others. and the way that wikileaks obviously was seen as playing some kind of role in the u.s. election. you know, i don't think you have
to have a strong view of exactly how partisan they were being to say that they are no longer neutral. and so that again is a big part of this ship because wikileaks was the place where manning was able to release so much of this material. the iraq war logs, afghanistan war logs, and other medium to low level skraet material that the military said was really compromising. so again you have a publisher sort of angles on this. the breaking news, it's clear president obama dialing back on the original prosecution to say, maybe this shouldn't have been as harsh a penalty. >> in new york, stand by if you will. i want to bring in hans nichols, or pentagon correspondent.
hans, this is one of this chelsea manning -- this is one of 209 individuals. the president is offering a commutation to today. also 64 granting pardons too i understand there is another pardon, not a commutation, a pardon being offered that is raising some eyebrows as well. can you tell us about that? >> the full pardon is for james cartwright, he was convicted for providing false statements to the fbi. this sprung out of a leak investigation. did cartwrooikt cue journalists, dad the "nework times" and danny then of news week now of yahoo. he was ultimately convicted for that, this is a full pardon for general cartwright. of the two we've been talking about, there's a third and that is a private in the army convicted of in 1989 for 1988
murder. that's the third one that's getting a lot of attention here. i think that's what we're asking here and get answers to. was this something that the army supported, did they oppose or did they advocate for it? something in the waning days of the obama administration. it bears noting when these initial leaks came out in 2010, the white house across the board condemned chelsea manning at the time, then bradley manning, condemned bradley manning harshly. none other than jim jones the current national advisor at the time was quite harsh on the damage that manning had done. those are the questions we'll be asking and following up here at the pentagon, guys. >> all right hans. thanks. ari, let me bring you back in, obviously these are different cases with, but i think this is going to cause the news of chelsea manning's sentence commutation is going to spark speculation about edward snowden. edward snowden has been living in russia for the last few
years, eard snowden was behind a massive leak. is edward snowden out of luck here? >> he's a fugitive, it's shyly unlikely that he would be anywhere in the ball park of any kind of legal leniency. commutation or pardon for a trial that hasn't occurred yet. you were mentioning earlier steve how controversial the clinton pardon of mark rich was. that was in part for the same rational. he was a fugitive. you have to come back, abide by the law, start serving your time and then only then considered this. the circumstantial reason, we've got a whole list of number ofs. and one more point on james cartwright, that was a controversial prosecution. it was one that drew a lot of heat. donald trump among others. bringing it up and comparing it to the hillary clinton case and other things. but again, the conversation we were having, steve, about whether this administration was too aggressive in pursuing
leaks. keep in mind, cartwright did plead god almighty misleading the fbi and that's a serious thing, don't lie to the fbi. having said that, the whole issue was about his discussions with reporters about national security policy in iran. so this is again this environment where, you know, we as journalists often ask a lot of people to talk to us far lot of reasons. he was not accused of any underlying misduct. that is to say no crime against the state. no desire to aid an enemy. he was doing something that people do every day, talk to the press and the way he described it to the fbi landed him in a lot of legal trouble. so in context again with also the manning commutation, pardoning and a commutation that both show a dialing back from what was a very aggressive approach to leaks as well as the fbi's traditional aggressive view that no one in government should lie to them. it is a federal crime separately to mislead the fbi. >> all right.
thank you for that. we have journal jack jacobs now. he's joining me by phone. colonel, i'm just curious what your reaction to this is. this news of chelsea manning commutation and what you think -- how you think the military and the national security community will react to this? >> we're having trouble establishing a connection there with jornl jack, if you can hear me, pause for a second. i'll repeat the question and we'll try to reset this. and i'm just curious what your reaction is first of all to the news that president obama is offering a commutation to chelsea manning. and also, just knowing the military so well, knowing the national security world so well, how you think the military been the national security community will react to this. >> well, i think the
intelligence community is going to react very unhappily. that's the first thing. there is a wide variety of the information that was released to wikileaks that wound up in the hands of just about everybody. there's also the whole question of discipline, following the rules and regulations. and this is going to demonstrate for the large majority of people in uniform and those who have served that it's almost irrelevant whether or not you follow the rules and regulations. at some juncture you may get an opportunity to get congressmen si of some kind. it's interesting to note that they have, the power of the pardon is the only one that he doesn't share with somebody else, and can't be overridden by
somebody else. this makes it extremely powerful. it's the only one, but it is powerful by itself a large number of people have been pardoned by presidents since the very beginning. is not going to be popular with the national security establishment. >> and colonel jack, interesting too and ari mentioned this too, the timing, the political backdrop. of course the whole controversy over wikileaks, over alleged russian hacking into dnc e-mails published through wikileaks, looming large over the presidential campaign we just had. they're also coming down with new sanctions on russia for providing they say this information to wikileaks. what do you make of the obama administration dealing how they've dealt with both issues? >> i think most people who are
looking at it dispassionately and there is a great deal of passion in this decision in any case, but most people are looking at it dispassionately will agree that the timing is poor especially in the environment that you're talking about. we'll never know why unless he tells us. we'll never know why the president, in particular of all the possible people who could have received pardons for a wide variety of offenses we don't imagine why he would pick this particular one to pardon that the particular time. i think your observation that it's you're suggesting that it's awkward at best is very well taken. >> colonel jack jacobs, we have andrea mitchell. she joins me now. andrea, colonel jack jacobs was saying this will not go over well with the military. i am sure the president well
aware of that in making this decision. why do you think this was so important to him? >> it'very hard to say. i know that theread been a lot written about chelsea manning's dilts, the transgender issues in prison, that might have had something to do with the commutation. but this is a tough one. obviously it's going to be controversial, but which close to the transfer of power, obviously obama feels free to do what is in his heart. >> and andrea, just in terms of the original case against chelsea manning, bradley manning when this was brought, the damage that the administration at the time said was done to national security, can you talk a little bit about what that was. what the case was? >> disinvolved the original wikileaks and of course the damage that was done was disclosing confidential messaging and all levels of the
government, including the highest level of the state department. >> are we set here? okay. cut. sorry, we've got breaking news. we have a million moving pieces, but we have two guests here joining me on set to talk a little bit more about this. we have betsy woodruff, and we are going to come to them -- i told you there were moving pieces. ron allen standing by. do we have ron allen? >> yes. >> go ahead, what do you have? >> well, we have some reaction from the hill from senator tom cotton of arkansas who was a captain of the u.s. army as well, he is not reacting to this positively. he says when i was leading soldiers in afghanistan, private manning was undermining us by leaking hundreds of thousandsf classified documents to wikileaks. i don't understand why the president would feel special compassion for someone who endangered the lives of our troops, diplomats, intelligence offices, and allies we ought not treat a traitor like a martyr.
and there will probably be more of that. just talking to some people around here and think abouting what they've said over the weeks, i think part what have drove the decision was compassion during the military proceedings, manning did plead guilty. she did confess that she did they there was some emotional issues that were trounling her at the time that may have caused her to act in the way she did. the president again acting on the basis of compassion and his concern about perhaps about his concern for transgender woman in the military, this male military prison. and the circumstances that she is facing. again, that concern for that particular community has been something notable for president obama. also note worthy he did not pardon or edward snowden. he was asked about this a number
of times. today they said that snowden had not formerly requested a pardon. he has not been convicted of anything yet. the only recourse is for him to return to the united stas and face the crimes he's been charged of. that gets insights to the thinking on this perhaps. we're expecting there to be a background call that's happening soon, probably sort of while i'm talking to you now that will offer insight as well into the thinking of the administration as to why they did this. again, it had been there for some time. obviously now because the president has time left. and we think to answer someone's question earlier, we think this is the last batch of commutations and pardons that we'll see from this president. >> all right, ron allen at the white house. and yet, obviously everybody
waiting more information you thought all those pieces about president obama and his legacy were written and were set. here is a new chapter to be added just in the final days of his presidency. as we say, not the only commutation or pardon being announced today. notable as well. no pardon in this batch of announcements from the white house, no pardon from david petraeus, petraeus of course was found guilty of providing classified information to a woman who was his biographer, turned out he was having relationship with her as well. some speculation that petraeus might receive a pardon here. that is not the case. david petraeus not among those receiving a pardon. again, another name here who did receive, who is receiving a pardon, that is skbrrl james cartwright, andrea mitchell still tanneding by, this is a case you're familiar with. what more did you tell us about this pardon of james cartwright? >> this is controversial and has been much cemented his guilty plea, the prosecution in this case. this was the former vice
chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, a marine general. and he pleaded glty to talking to correspondents of the "new york times" about the virus which had infected iran's nuclear program. it was a very secret program believed to be u.s. and israeli program that successfully slowed down iran's nuclear program. and the fact that he talked to the "new york times" about and pleaded guilty to that, in fact, and was prosecuted, it was believed that it was a sanctioned conversation to try to talk the "new york times" out of publishing what they knew. that it had been widely known and david written in a leniency position to the court asking that he not have hard jail time for the general because it was widely known and working on a book about this. and that the general's job in his mission was to try to talk them out of publishing and try to minimize the damage.
in any case, he did plead guilty to misleading investigators. and was apparently going to be sentenced to two or three years. so that was hard time for the general, he was highly regarded on capitol hill by members of the intelligence committee. this pardon will be, i think one that is widely praised among the military. >> all right, andrea mitchell, thank you for that. more now for reaction starting to roll in. there is going to be a lot of it on this one. obviously more reaction on chelsea manning, the commutation, joining me on the phone, we have former cia analyst john nixon. john, your reaction, the president offering a commutation of a 35 year sentence. what is your reaction to this? >> i'm stunned. i'm stunned, and i'm outraged. look, chelsea manning did, for whatever he/she had, it was wrong. and you know something, she put in danger thousands of people whose identities were
disclosed -- when i was working on iraq, a lot of the diplomatic reporting was the stuff he leaked to wikileaks. and that had the names of the people at the iraqi government who could be targeted by terrorists because they were talking to the u.s. authorities. and you know -- i think this has just outrageous. and finish barack obama who apparently the catch all phrase for him was no drama obama. and ever since the election has been nothing but drama obama. and i have to say that i am really outraged. and i -- i cannot believe that, you know, somebody who compromised so much classified information is now being let to walk free. >> we are going to obviously hear more here, john, from the white house probably from the president himself on exactly what the rational is behind this. we heard a minute ago from ron allen suggesting the idea of
compassion may have weighed heavily on the president, compassion for chelsea manning who had been through a personal experience, personal journey with the gender reassignment surgery, noting that chelsea manning had cooperated during the prosecution, does that -- should that weigh here at all? >> no. no. i mean, compassion shouldn't even enter into. chelsea manning, for whatever reason, decided that she was going to take information that was classified. now, to be honest with you, i think some of her supervisors should also have been in prison, but that's another story altogether. she did what she did. she took the consequences, but you know something, the consequences need to be carried out. they don't -- it doesn't -- this is part of the identity politics of this administration which is always rubbed me the wrong way. it's sort of like it doesn't matter as long as you can say that you are part of some sort
of a group that feels upset upon, then all the sudden, that cancels out everything else. this is from my standpoint having worked in the national security community than having had a secret clearance and from my years of service to the government, we all know what the rules are, and if we disclose this information, there is a consequence that has to be paid and to have this person let free, for whatever reason, is i think an outrage. but it's not surprising because he did the same with jonathan pohl lard. and that was another outrageous act. these are all acts in which politics are determining what is to be done, not right or wrong. >> all right, jonathan pollard was the kwkted israeli spy. that case several years. john nixon, thanks for joining pus. our final minute. sabrina, you've covered this story, john nixon there saying th isolitics from the obama administration they are practicing politics
with the commutation on the way out the door. is that how you see it? >> there was immense pressure on president obama to pardon chelsea manning in particular people said if there's one he should, it is her because she has of course openly talked about the failure to receive adequate treatment after undergoing gender reassignment surgery and also the white house spokesman josh ernest signalled last week this might be on it's way. chelsea manning's crimes were not nearly as dangerous for example or as harmful or serious as those committed by edward snowden since people were making the comparison through. they received over 100,000 signatures on a petition urging the president to take this matter more seriously. and this is something that is a move driven by compassion more than anything else. >> and betsy woodrufp, 120 seconds, obama's legacy? >> it shows the extent to which president obama has been able to circumvent congress to really make a major cultural impact. not just policy, but culturally. imcommuting chelsea manning's
sentence, transrights in prison, that's a huge deal. that's not something trump can do overnight. >> there are people who are going to condemn and say there is no excuse for this. a lot manufacture reaction is going to be coming in. the breaking news, president obama on his way out of office offering a commutation to chelsea manning. that's going wrap up our coverage for this hour, but we continue with mtp daily, now. if it's tuesday, our new poll numbers, give us a hint of just how short the trump presidential honeymoon could be. >> tonight, what americans expect of a trump presiden and what do they think of the president-elect so far? we have our brand new nbc/wall street journal poll. health check, could accusations of insider trading, not just derail the president-elect's hhs secretary, but could it derail obam