>>> CONGRESS IS ON RECESS THIS WEEK, BUT QUESTIONS ARE STILL SWIRLING OVER HOW TO HANDLE RUSSIA.

FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY BRIEFED MEMBERS OF THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE ON FRIDAY.

THE SENATORS STAYED TIGHT-LIPPED ABOUT THAT MEETING BUT THEN A VERY TELLING SIGNAL FROM SENATOR MARCO RUBIO.

HE TWEETED I AM NOW VERY CONFIDENT SENATE INTEL COMMITTEE I SEVER ON WILL CONDUCT THOROUGH BIPARTISAN INVESTIGATION PUTIN, INTERFERENCE AND INFLUENCE.

THE BRIEFING FROM THE FBI CAME THE SAME DAY AS THE WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF REINCE PRIEBUS COMPLAINED THAT THE RUSSIA STORY IS OVERBLOWN.

>> I HAVE TALKED TO TOP LEVELS OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY, EVERY DEPARTMENT, BY THE WAY, NOT JUST PEOPLE THAT ARE ONLY FOLKS THAT WE'VE PUT IN PLACE, AND THEY HAVE GREEN LIGHTED ME TO SAY THAT I HAVE TALKED TO THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS AND THEY HAVE ASSURED ME THAT THE "NEW YORK TIMES" STORY ABOUT CONSTANT CONTACTS IS GROSSLY OVERSTATED AND INACCURATE.

>> MANU, AND REALLY WHAT WAS A CHAOTIC WEEK FOR THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, THIS WAS MAYBE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS THAT HAPPENED.

IN SOME WAYS IT DIDN'T GET A LOT OF ATTENTION.

WHAT ARE YOU HEARING ABOUT WHAT CAME OUT OF THIS MEETING AND WHAT MIGHT BE NEXT? >> WELL, REALLY THE ONLY THING WE KNOW IS THEY DISCUSSED RUSSIA.

THIS WAS A RUSSIA MEETING, PART OF THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE'S INVESTIGATION INTO RUSSIA AND THE MEMBERS WHO WERE THERE WERE THE MEMBERS OF THE FULL COMMITTEE AS WELL AS MEMBERS OF THE LEADERSHIP.

CHUCK SCHUMER WAS THERE.

WE BELIEVE MITCH McCONNELL WAS THERE AS WELL THOUGH HE WENT A BACK WAY INTO THE ROOM.

IT WAS UNDER THE RADAR.

DID NOT ANNOUNCE IT AND HAD IT IN THE CAPITOL.

REPORTERS SAW COMEY GO IN THERE WHICH LED TO ALL THIS MEDIA COVERAGE.

THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE IS ONE VENUE WHERE THERE'S A BIPARTISAN INVESTIGATION AT THE MOMENT.

WE'LL SEE IF THE BIPARTISAN PROCESS EVENTUALLY BREAKS DOWN BUT BOTH SIDES BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE — THAT THEY HAVE FAITH IN THIS PROCESS.

ON THE HOUSE SIDE THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE IS BECOMING MORE OF A PARTISAN PROCESS.

>> RIGHT.

>> AND THE CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE IS NOT GOING AS FAR AS SOME DEMOCRATS WOULD LIKE, EVEN ON THE ISSUE OF THE DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN TRUMP AND MIKE FLYNN OVER — BEFORE FLYNN JUST SPOKE WITH THE RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR.

NUNEZ TOLD ME LAST WEEK THAT'S NOT COVERED BECAUSE, QUOTE, IT'S EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE EVEN THOUGH AT THE TIME TRUMP WAS THE PRESIDENT-ELECT.

>> CONVENIENT.

>> BUT THIS IS PUTTING MORE PRESSURE ON THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE TO DO A MORE BIPARTISAN LOOK, A DEEPER DIVE INTO THE — INTO WHAT HAPPENED.

IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE IF THEY ACTUALLY SAW THE TRANSCRIPTS BETWEEN FLYNN AND THE RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR BECAUSE I SPOKE TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE LAST WEEK.

AT THAT TIME THEY SAID THEY HAD NOT SEEN THE TRANSCRIPTS AND REQUESTED THE TRANSCRIPTS, BUT WE'LL SEE IF THAT WAS PART OF THE DISCUSSION ON FRIDAY.

>> ON THURSDAY WE SAW DONALD TRUMP FACE QUESTIONS FROM REPORTERS ABOUT HIS INVOLVEMENT WITH RUSSIA AND ALL OF THE STORIES COMING OUT ABOUT HIS CAMPAIGN AIDES POSSIBLY HAVING CONTACTS WITH RUSSIA DURING THE CAMPAIGN.

>> CAN YOU SEE WHETHER YOU ARE AWARE THAT ANYONE WHO ADVISED YOUR CAMPAIGN HAD CONTACTS WITH RUSSIA DURING THE COURSE OF THE ELECTION? >> WELL, I TOLD YOU.

GENERAL FLYNN OBVIOUSLY WAS DEALING, SO THAT'S ONE PERSON, BUT — AS HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN.

>> DURING THE ELECTION.

>> NO, NO, NOBODY THAT I'M AWARE OF.

>> YOU'RE NOT AWARE OF ANY CONTACTS DURING THE COURSE OF THE ELECTION.

>> HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION.

>> CAN YOU ANSWER YES OR NO? >> RUSSIA IS A RUSE.

NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA.

HAVEN'T MADE A PHONE CALL TO RUSSIA IN YEAR.

DON'T SPEAK TO PEOPLE IN RUSSIA, NOT THAT I WOULDN'T BUT I HAVE NOBODY TO SPEAK TO.

>> JULIE THIS, ISN'T A YES OR NO QUESTION FOR YOU, BUT HE'S CLEARLY GOING TO GET THIS QUESTION ABOUT RUSSIA A LOT AND HOW PROBLEMATIC IS HIS ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION SO FAR, AND THE FACT THAT HE HAS TO KEEP ANSWERING? HOW PROBLEMATIC IS IT? >> I THINK IT WAS INTERESTING THE WAY HE PHRASED IT THERE AND A LITTLE BIT LATER IN THE EXCHANGE SAID NOBODY I KNOW OF AND LATER HE SAID THERE WERE NO CONTACTS TO HIS KNOWLEDGE WHICH IS A VERY LAWYERLY WAY OF ANSWERING THAT QUESTION.

I THINK IT'S FASCINATING.

IF YOU TALK TO PEOPLE IN THE WHITE HOUSE, PRIEBUS SAID THIS ON TELEVISION.

THEY FEEL LIKE THERE IS NO INFORMATION HERE.

THEY DON'T KNOW WHY THIS KEEPS COMING UP.

AT THE SAME TIME IT DOES KEEP COMING UP, AND I THINK IT'S WORTHY OF EXPLORATION IF FOR NOTHING ELSE.

IF YOU BELIEVE THERE WERE NO CONTACTS BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIAN OFFICIALS DURING THE COURSE OF THE ELECTION, THEN YOU SHOULD BE FULLY OPEN TO AN INVESTIGATION OF WHY RUSSIA WAS INTERFERING IN THE ELECTION WHICH SEEMS TO BE GENERALLY ACCEPTED THAT HAPPENED, AND THE FACT THERE IS SUCH RESISTANCE THEN FROM REPUBLICANS AND PEOPLE WITHIN TRUMP'S ADMINISTRATION TO THE INVESTIGATION OF THE ELECTION HACKING TO ME IS VERY CURIOUS.

>> I THINK THAT'S RIGHT.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE'VE SEEN ALSO THIS WEEK, RYAN, YOU TALKED ABOUT THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER.

THERE IS SOMEONE IN THAT POSITION RIGHT NOW, BUT ROBERT HARWARD, THE VICE ADMIRAL, SAID NO TO THE ADMINISTRATION CITING SOME OF THE CHAOS.

HE OFFICIALLY SAID IT WAS ABOUT FAMILY AND FINANCIAL REASONS BUT ALSO POINTING TO THE CHAOS AND NOT BEING ABLE TO PUT HIS OWN FOLKS INTO THAT — THAT POSITION AS UNDERLINGS.

WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE? IS THIS GOING TO BE A CONSISTENT PROBLEM IN FILLING THIS PARTICULAR POST? >> TWO THINGS.

BEFORE I SAY THAT, ON JULIE'S QUESTION.

THAT WAS REALLY A MODEL OF HOW TO ASK THE PRESIDENT A QUESTION.

SIMPLE, DIRECT, DEMANDING YES OR NO BECAUSE SOMETIMES WHEN YOU ASK HIM A QUESTION HE DODGES AND SO, YOU KNOW, GREAT JOB ASKING HIM THE WAY YOU DID.

I THINK ON THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL, LOOK, THERE'S SOME REPORTING THAT HE SAW THAT PRESS CONFERENCE AND IT WAS AFTER HE SAW THAT PRESS CONFERENCE THAT HE MADE THE FINAL DECISION LIKE I'M NOT GOING TO BE THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER IN THIS WHITE HOUSE, AND OTHER REPORTING SUGGESTS THAT HE WAS NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE THE STAFFERS THAT HE WANTED, RIGHT, SO THERE'S A LOT OF HOLDOVERS FROM THE FLYNN ERA, A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE VERY LOYAL TO PRESIDENT TRUMP DURING THE CAMPAIGN ARE AT THE LEADERSHIP OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL.

ANYONE WHO IS GOING TO COME INTO THAT POSITION HAS TO HAVE THEIR OWN TEAM.

>> RIGHT.

>> YOU'D BE CRAZY NOT TO DEMAND THAT.

THAT'S JUST NORMAL AS PART OF THAT PROCESS.

SO, YOU KNOW, SOMEONE LIKE THAT WHO SPENT DECADES IN THE MILITARY.

WHEN THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF ASKS YOU TONIGHT NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER AND YOU SAY NO.

THAT IS STUNNING.

MOST MILITARY PEOPLE AT THAT LEVEL, THEY DON'T SAY NO.

>> THEY SEE IT AS A CALL OF DUTY, AND THEY HAVE A SENSE OF HONOR ALMOST IN ACCEPTING IT.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

THAT'S A STUNNING REJECTION FOR THE PRESIDENT AND ONE OF THE REASONS IN THE WHOLE PROCESS THAT TRUMP MAKES PUBLIC THE PEOPLE THAT HE'S GIVING THE JOB TO OR OFFERING THE JOB TO CAN BE — CAN HAVE A LOT OF BLOWBACK AND EMBARRASSING.

PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS YOU HID THAT PROCESS BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T WANT TO BE EMBARRASSED BY A REJECTION.

>> AND IN THIS WHITE HOUSE IT'S SORT OF — I GUESS IT'S IN THE WINTER WHITE HOUSE.

IT'S OUT IN THE OPEN.

>> IT'S A PUBLIC THING.

>> AND THE CANDIDATES OR THE FINALISTS OF THE SHORT LIST OF THE NAMES WE'RE GETTING, LIEUTENANT GENERAL KEITH KELLOGG WHO IS IN THE POSITION RIGHT NOW, JOHN BOLTON, A FORMER U.

S.

AMBASSADOR AND ALSO LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR H.

R.

McMASTER AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR CASSLAND.

MANU, YOU'VE HEARD THAT SENATOR CRUZ IS BIG ON BOLTON.

>> HE TOLD ME THAT ON FRIDAY AND WANTED TO PUSH BOLTON'S NAME AND SAID HE'D BE PERFECT FOR THE JOB, BUT AS WE WERE DISCUSSING IN THE BREAK, BOLTON HAS A LOT OF VIEWS THAT ARE IN DIRECT CONTRIBUTION OF DONALD TRUMP'S, NAMELY ON IRAQ.

HE WAS — BOLTON WAS ONE OF THE MAIN SUPPORTERS OF IRAQ, THE IRAQ WAR.

TRUMP DURING THE CAMPAIGN INSISTED HE HAD LONG, ALWAYS OPPOSED THE IRAQ WAR AND BOLTON HAS HAD A NEO-CONSERVATIVE INTERVENTIONIST VIEW OF THE WORLD.

THAT'S NOT THE VIEW THAT DONALD TRUMP ESPOUSD ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL SO — BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF CONSERVATIVES WHO ARE PUSHING BOLTON VERY HARD AND PERHAPS THEY ARE WINNING — HE'S POTENTIALLY WINNING OVER SOME SUPPORT WITHIN THE WHITE HOUSE BECAUSE HE'S MEETING WITH TRUMP THIS WEEKEND IN MAR-A-LAGO, SO WE'LL SEE IF HE GOES THAT ROUTE.

IF HE DOES, IT COULD UPSET SOME PEOPLE IN THE MORE LIBERTARIAN WING OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AS WELL INCLUDING RAND PAUL WHO TRIED TO SCUTTLE ANY DISCUSSION OF GETTING BOLTON A JOB BECAUSE PAUL SITS ON THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE.

THAT WOULD BE A CONTROVERSIAL PICK.

>> SOMEBODY WILL BE UPSET BY THIS PICK.

THERE'S ALL SORTS OF INTERNAL POWER CENTERS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, AND SOME PEOPLE THINK THERE'S TOO MUCH POLITICIZATION GOING ON IN TERMS OF THIS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISERS.

>> AND EVERYTHING ELSE.

>> YEAH.

>> BUT, I MEAN, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE OTHER NAMES, BOLTON IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER BECAUSE IT REALLY IS — ALL THE PROMISES, ALL THE ATTACKS THAT HILLARY CLINTON SUSTAINED FROM TRUMP, SOME OF THE ATTACKS THAT HE SUSTAINED, THAT TRUMP WAGED AGAINST OTHER PEOPLE WHO CRITICIZED HIM WHEN IT COMES TO THE IRAQ WAR OR WHO HAVE CRITICIZED HIM IN TERMS OF HIS OTHER FOREIGN POLICY COMMENTS, HE SAID, WELL, YOU VOTED FOR THE WAR, YOU SUPPORTED THE WAR.

YOU WERE PART OF WHAT — OF BUSH'S IRAQ WAR.

WELL, JOHN BOLTON,.

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