Katy Tur Doesn’t Remember Obama Telling Russians He’d Have ‘More Flexibility’ After His Reelection

UPDATE: During MTP Daily, Tur recalls Obama’s discussion with Medvedev and tried to downplay it.

On Monday, our friend SooperMexican at The Right Scoop caught this embarrassing exchange on MSNBC as Katy Tur admitted to her guest that she was couldn’t recall President Barack Obama being caught on a hot mic in 2012 saying he’d have “more flexibility” to work with Russia after his reelection.

Tur was speaking to Republican Congressman Francis Rooney (Fla.) and pressing him about the Trump administration’s hopes to work better with Russia when Rooney brought up Obama’s remark in South Korea. 

While he was incorrect about who Obama was speaking to (Dmitry Medvedev and not Vladimir Putin), Rooney noted: “Well, I think it was Obama that leaned over to Putin and said, I'll have a little more flexibility to give you what you want after the re-election.”

For a brief moment, there was silence before Tur blurted out: “I'm sorry, I don't know what you're referring to, Congressman.”

Rooney calmly again recapped what happened at a 2012 gathering of world leaders (in Seoul, South Korea): 

Remember when he leaned over at a — at a panel discussion or in a meeting and he said, I'll have more flexibility after the election. No one really ever pushed the President on what he meant by that, but I can only assume for a thug like Putin it would embolden him. 

Another awkward pause ensued and Tur promptly ended the segment, thanking Rooney for coming on MSNBC and wishing him a Happy Presidents Day.

[Update]

During Monday’s MTP Daily, where Tur sat in for moderator Chuck Todd some hours later, she recalled her conversation with Congressman Rooney and noted the incident he mentioned. She never mentioned that she was caught off guard by the fact but knocked the Congressman for his mistake in mixing Putin and Medvedev. “It was a hot mic moment. It was not meant for reporters to hear,” she explained as she whined that Republicans were comparing Obama’s moment to Flynn’s. She was looking to Steven Clemons of The Atlantic for support.

I'm sorry, but it's absolutely not the case,” Clemons exclaimed while complaining about Trump’s interaction with foreign leaders. “So there is nothing similar to the Medvedev/Obama discussion and what Michael Flynn did in potentially, allegedly potentially offering Russia some flexibility down the road once they came into office.” But that’s exactly what Obama did. And what Obama said strained relations with Poland, again the same thing he was saying Trump did. 

Here’s the relevant portion of the transcript from February 20's MSNBC Live with Katy Tur:

MSNBC Live with Katy Tur
February 20, 2017
2:27 p.m. Eastern

KATY TUR: You seem to have a lot of confidence, though, that he is going to treat Russia in as tough a way as his predecessors did. 

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN FRANCIS ROONEY (Fla.): I do and I think he'll treat it — I think he’ll treat Russia —

TUR: I just wonder where that confidence comes from. 

ROONEY: — more firmly than Obama.

TUR: I just wonder where that confidence comes from. 

ROONEY: Well, he's got a lot of conservative people in the government and you know, he's a business guy, so he might have spoken a little less nuanced than very trained generals and State Department leaders might. But I think he knows that as he said all through the campaign, we're going to keep America strong. We're going to keep America safe, both at home and abroad, and you can't do that without dealing with Russia. 

TUR: He also has a number of people that were, at least, in his administration until last week who were friendly with Russia. General Mike Flynn being one of them. His former campaign CEO was Paul Manafort who’s got ties to Russia. His Secretary of State was given the medal of friendship by Russia. So, you say there's a lot of conservatives who are going to push back on Russia but I see a lot of folks in Donald Trump's administration who have a friendlier view of Russia than maybe past administrations did. 

ROONEY: Well, I think it was Obama that leaned over to Putin and said, I'll have a little more flexibility to give you what you want after the re-election. 

TUR: I'm sorry, I don't know what you're referring to, Congressman. 

ROONEY: Remember when he leaned over at a — at a panel discussion or in a meeting and he said, I'll have more flexibility after the election. No one really ever pushed the President on what he meant by that, but I can only assume for a thug like Putin it would embolden him. 

TUR: Congressman Francis Rooney, Republican of Florida. Thank you so much for joining me and Happy Presidents Day to you, sir. 

ROONEY: Thanks, Katy. 

...

MSNBC
MTP Daily
February 20, 2017
5:17:22 PM Eastern

KATY TUR: Steve, one more question to you. A couple hours ago on my 2:00 P.M. Show, a congressman brought up a moment between President Obama and the current -- the at the time, Russian President Medvedev back in 2012. He thought that Obama was talking to Putin and in reality he was talking to Medvedev—God, that name is going to kill me. It's a holiday Monday.

He was saying basically his argument was the whole Michael Flynn controversy was the same as overblown. It's the same as what President Obama was saying to the Russian president that he needed some flexibility. Wait have some flexibility and they can talk more about missiles after his election. It was a hot mic moment. It was not meant for reporters to hear. And now Republicans are using this as a talking point to basically equate what happened with Michael Flynn and what happened with President Obama. Talk to me about that, whether you think that that’s fair.

STEVEN CLEMONS: It's absolutely -- I'm sorry, but it's absolutely not the case. We have a -- Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, but as he's come into office, he's been engaged in a love fest with Vladimir Putin at the time when, you know, and talked about alleviating sanctions before they've done anything of the things that they are supposed to do on Crimea. As we've seen them hack not only in the U.S. democracy but in other governments across Eastern Europe, as they've harassed and beaten up U.S. diplomats. All of this going on while other, you know, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort with various kinds of alleged interaction with the Russian government, it looks as if the appearances are that these guys basically are advocating for Russia's interests at a time when you've got a U.S. president coming in without having weighed any of the other issues.

And when you see calls with Putin that are really warm and fuzzy exercises, and you see Angela Merkel beat up, you see Malcolm Turnbull of Australia beat up, this has created a lot of fear and lack of trust in the United States. So there is nothing similar to the Medvedev/Obama discussion and what Michael Flynn did in potentially, allegedly potentially offering Russia some flexibility down the road once they came into office.

NB Daily Foreign Policy Russia Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Trump-Russia probe MSNBC MSNBC Live Video Katy Tur Barack Obama Roger Stone
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