'Wall Street Journal' columnist Kimberly Strassel and MSNBC's Joy Ann Reid disagree on reports about a Trump-Russia "backchannel."
Transcript via NBC:
KIM STRASSEL: I think we are having a discussion that is absolutely divorced from reality this week. It is astonishing. Let me set the scene for you. It's 2008. We are having an election. And candidate Obama, he's not even president-elect, sends William Miller over to Iran to establish a back channel and let the Iranians know that should he win the election they will have friendlier terms.
Okay, so this is a private citizen going to foreign soil obviously in order to evade U.S. intelligence monitoring and establishing a back channel with a sworn enemy of the United States who was actively disrupting our efforts in the military in the Middle East.
So is that bad judgment? Is that a bad thing that happened? Back channels are completely normal. They happen all the time. Reagan did them. Obama did them. Everyone did. So I'm not quite sure why supposedly having, at least the president's now elected, setting up a back channel with the Russians is somehow out of bounds.
JOY REID: Well, here's one key different. In October, months before this latest meeting, and it was one of 18 separate contacts that we now know of between the Trump campaign and Russia, our primary adversary in the world--
AMY WALTER: And a major superpower.
JOY REID: in October the collective judgment of the 17 intelligence agencies had said that Russia had been taking active measures to interfere in our elections. So quite a difference. We don't think that Iran was doing that. So we know that that was happening in October.
So in December the now president-elect decides that he's going to name Jim Mattis to be his secretary of defense. But he doesn't open a back channel. He sends his real estate developer son-in-law supposedly, or the real estate developer son-in-law decides to open this back channel not just-- and it isn't a back channel, by the way. Because this isn't how it works. You don't go to the adversary country and say, "Let's set something up inside your secure facility in your embassy so--"
CHARLIE SYKES: That's--
JOY REID: "--that we evade our intelligence services." Sorry. "We set it up inside of your secure facility," which even takes them aback. Because that's bizarre, the idea that we're going to do this on your facility. And you send him to do that without Jim Mattis.
The real estate developer who has no foreign policy experience whatsoever. And then if it's a channel about opening up negotiations in terms of something realistic, I mean, in terms of something about foreign policy, why are they also backchanneling with a bank? A Kremlin-connected Russian bank? And why is the Reuters report saying that part of the discussion was the possibility of opening up opportunities for financing for Trump-related--
KIM STRASSEL: Well, we don't know the answers to any of those questions--
JOY REID: --well--
KIM STRASSEL: --because what we're getting here are half--
JOY REID: --that is not a back channel. By the definition, what I just described is not a back channel
KIM STRASSEL: And anonymously.
CHARLIE SYKES: You have to follow the money. You have to follow the meetings. The lies. The attempts to--
KIM STRASSEL: We don't have any of that information.
CHARLIE SYKES: to derail this investigation. And the reality here is that Jared Kushner and the Trump administration apparently trusted the Russians more--
JOY REID: Correct.
CHARLIE SYKES: -than the intelligence community. Look, how can this not be suspicious?
KIM STRASSEL: Why would you--
CHARLIE SYKES: But again--
KIM STRASSEL: why would you trust? I'm sorry, by the way. Like, we can't forget that the intelligence services and also the defense department were being run by the Obama administration. They had plenty of reason not to necessarily want the Obama administration to know what they were doing.
CHARLIE SYKES: What did they want to hide? This is suspicious--
KIM STRASSEL: Because they have--
CHARLIE SYKES: at minimum. What did they want to talk about? Why would you use Russian--
KIM STRASSEL: And why would you not maybe want to have all of these people in these departments with this information which they would go on to leak on a daily basis--
JOY REID: Sorry, the election was over.
KIM STRASSEL: to try to derail your presidency.
JOY REID: Sorry, in December the election was over. In this country we have a continuity of government. We hand over peacefully power from one party to another all the time and have done so for more than 240 years. Are you telling me that the now elected Trump administration didn't trust John Brennan? That somehow the straight-arrow guys in our intelligence services were going to now work to actively undermine? Are they now seeing them as some sort of dissident that would undermine--
KIM STRASSEL: Do you wonder what one of the most--
JOY REID: that has never happened in the history of the United States.
KIM STRASSEL: one of the most interesting pieces of news that actually came out this week was the FISA court revelation that they said that the Obama administration had been actively engaged in abusing Fourth Amendment protections by unmasking people's identities on a routine basis which they did not acknowledge to the court and which they said brought up major, major concerns. So maybe you wouldn't trust that team, in fact.
JOY REID: Who said that? Where did this source--
KIM STRASSEL: The FISA court.
JOY REID: put that information? Do you know how--
KIM STRASSEL: They put out an order.
JOY REID: difficult it is to get a FISA warrant against an American person?
KIM STRASSEL: Yeah but you're not talking about what I just mentioned.