tv Smerconish CNN March 17, 2018 6:00am-7:00am PDT
i'm michael smerconish in philadelphia. we welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. former fbi deputy director andrew mccabe fired friday night at 10:00 p.m. a little more than 24 hours shy of his retirement. was this justified or political revenge? plus russia continues to meddle in our news cycle poisoning a former spy in the uk, infiltrating our power grid, being sanctioned for the election hack.
and yet when asked the white house still not sure if they are friend or foe. now with special counsel mueller subpoenaing trump organization files, is something going to give? i'll ask michael isikoff, co-author of russia roulette. and toys are no longer us. the latest american retail giant to shutter its stores. and who is to blame? >> toys on amazon. now i'm out of a job. >> but 5amazon is just one of te booming big tech companies along with apple, facebook and google. you'll meet the man who advocates breaking them up like ma bell. >> and new steps to keep silent. can they prevent "60 minutes" from airing her interview? first attorney general jeff
sessions fired former fbi deputy director andrew mccabe late friday less than two days shy of his retirement, this stems from an internal review conducted by the inspect tor general. the report said to have found that mccabe misled investigators about his role directing other officials to speak to media about the investigation into the clinton e-mails and clinton foundation. jeff sessions' statement read in part both the reports concluded that mr. mccabe made an unauthorized disclose sur to the news media and lacked candor including under oath on multiple occasions. mccabe claimed i'm being singled out and treated this way because of the role that i played, the absenc actions i took and events i witnessed in the aftermath of firing of james comey. president trump tweeted after the announcement, andrew mccabe fired, a great day for the hard
working men and women of the fbi, a great day for democracy. sanctimonious james comey was his boss and made mccabe look like a choir boy. he knew all about the lies. joining me now is jonathan turley, a constitutional law professor at george washington university. professor, this is one of those issues that evidences or partis partisan divide. on the ride mccabe's firing is being celebrated, on the left it is being condemned. i need you to help me be an honest broker. was it justified this firing? >> well, what is justified in the sense that these were career officials at the office on of professional responsibility that made this recommendation which is exceedingly rare. in fact unprecedented for someone in this position. these are not political appointees. the opr quite frankly is not viewed as a particularly aggressive office. so all of that makes this a relatively rare sanction coming
from career officers. they clearly concluded that mccabe misled them. and that he misled them on one of the core issues they were investigating, not a collateral issue. >> i remember from my days of service in the federal government it was on the watch of bush xli, papa bush, the inspector general's office was at an arm's length away. this my case i was an appointee running hud in five states. and i had nothing to do with the inspector general on a day to day basis. frankly, you didn't want anything to do with the inspector general's office. i want to clear up any misperception in thinking that jeff sessions or the president could exert influence over the oig. >> in fact everyone that i know of speaks highly of horowitz, that is he is viewed as completely apolitical and this office is insulated like a sherman tank from any type of
outside forces. what is fascinating about this whole -- the way in has unfolded is not its outcome. i said when we first heard of the recommendation that i thought it was a given in a he would be fired. i would be very surprised for sessions to turn down this type of rare recommendationbe fired. i would be very surprised for sessions to turn down this type of rare recommendation. after all he followed the recommendation from them to recuse himself and i think rightly so. what will create an issue going forward is whether there will be a criminal referral. michael flynn was indicted to making a false statement to investigators. now, it is true that they were looking at him for other crimes as well. but there will be some that will argue why would you indict michael flynn but an deputy fbi director is just worried about his pension, not prison. >> so which is the greater infraction? and i think you're getting to
this now. if in fact it occurred the way the inspector general says it took place, which mr. mccabe i understand disputes, but insofar as he, a, authorized members of the fbi to speak to the "wall street journal," then, b, if he were untruthful about it under oath for which of those does he face more exposure? >> it's the alleged false statement. as you know, there is a great deal of background discussion that occurs with reporters from the fbi and the doj. it is always the misrepresentation. keep in mind with michael flynn, his meeting with the russians wasn't in any way illegal or unprecedented. it was failing to tell them about sanctions being discussed at the meeting that led to his charge. but this could easily spin further out of control. there was one line in mccabe's statement last night that i immediately flagged because he said that he had authority to do this and he conferred with the
director. the director at that time was james comey. the problem there is that james comey said under oath that he never leaked information and never approved a leak. so if the inspector general believes this was a leak to the media, it raises serious questions about comey's previous testimony. and could get him into serious trouble. >> and of course mccabe's response to all of this is that this is an effort to discredit him because of testimony he might be able to provide relative to the president and obstruction of justice. >> that's right. and his statement was very, very strong. i mean, he is clearly feeling liberated from his previous role. he's able to speak as much as he would like. he certainly paid for that right with his pension. and that is a very sad thing. i thought this whole thing was sad. this is a man that had a really stellar career in the fbi. and i find all of this in fact
all of these controversies to be deeply sad. but inthat doesn't excuse what did. more importantly, even his statement is going to trigger another round of inquiries as to who actually knew about this and was this a leak to the media. comey has already been accused as you know of leaking information through a friend at clo columbia law school after he left, he removed material from the fbi that was fbi material, not subject to be removed from the bureau. some of that appears to be classified. so comey himself is not out of the woods on this. and mccabe's statement doesn't help his position any. >> quick final question. what do you make of the timing 10:00 p.m. on a friday night? >> yeah, i really regretted that. as you know, often people release things late on industry night friday nights. i hates that approach.stry friday nights.
i hates that approach. i thought it was unfair to mccabe. this they we in going up to the line of his pension was a bit rough. but we're living in rough times and i'm not sure doing it 24 hours before would materially improve the situation emotionally for mccabe. >> but it did seem a bit vindicti vindictive. professor turley, thank you. >> thanks, michael. what are your thoughts? tweet me, go to my facebook page. i'll read some responses throughout the program. what do we have? he is draining the swamp. campaign promise i do believe. as i say, this is a tale of two cities. to those supportive of the president, this is a day of celebration and to those on the left who see it as being part of a coverup of obstruction of justi justice, they see it entirely different.
smerconish, isn't the firing of andrew mccabe more of a threat to all career government employees? complete loyalty to trump and trump alone or on you will pay the consequences. thank you for preptding that tweet because in contrast to the facebook, you see the differing ways people are interpreting this. my response is the indiaspector general performed an investigation and he was untruthful. so what do you expect then to happen? up ahead, a week full of russia news. they expel 23 uk diplomats. we implemented sanctions for the election meddle. we learned of a threat to our power plants and robert mueller has subpoenaed the trump organization's financials. could thing we have michael isikoff here to break it all down. it's me! your dry skin! i'm craving something we're missing. the ceramides in cerave. they help restore my natural barrier, so i can lock in moisture... and keep us protected. we've got to have each other's backs... and fronts. cerave. what your skin craves.
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tylenol® but prevagen helps your brain with an ingredient originally discovered... in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory. prevagen. the name to remember. russia has expelled 23 british diplomats after being blamed for the recent nerve gas poise onk everoning of a former. and in a week where the russian meddle continued to dominate headlines. america finally announced some sanctions against russia and a russian threat to our power grid was revealed.
plus robert mueller has subpoenaed the trump organization to turn over documents including some related to russia. the implication being that mueller's inquiry is widening to examine the potential role of foreign money in president trump's political activities. joining me now, michael isikoff who is co-author of what is the number one best seller in the country, russian roulette. michael, one of the many takeaways as i read your book thus far is that there is this recurring cast of characters, russia nationals, who have been around president trump not just recently in the context of the campaign, i'm thinking of the folks at the trump tower meeting or meetings, but going back three decades. >> right. well, look, there is a three decade history of trump trying to do business in russia. but what is significant and what i think helps explain mueller's
subpoena for these trump on organization records is you take a look at that notorious trump tower meeting, the one where the trump campaign is offered derogatory information in the form of official sensitive documents from the russian government. who set up the meeting? it is rob goldstone the publicist who sends the e-mails to donald trump jr., but he is acting on behalf of the billionaire russian ol galiigar known as bputin's builder and te aspiring pop singer. we know these are the people trump was doing business with in moscow in 2013. they were his partners in the miss universe pageant. they formed the agreement to build a trump tower moscow project in russia in 2013.
donald trump jr. is put in charge of the project. ivanka trump flies to moscow to scout potential sites for the project. if you want to understand that trump tower meeting, you have to understand these relationships between trump himself personally and the people who set up the meeting. so it is perfectly logical and makes sense that mueller would want to subpoena the records to see everything that the trump organization has about its relationship withhe the. >> i said i'm dwrubs of tubious meeting that could take place at the trump towerthe. >> i said i'm dubious of the meeting that could take place at the trump tower without the now president having been notified because he nooufr the pershe kn personalities in that room. it is strange credit you'llity
to think that don jr. or manafort wouldn't say hey, we're about to have this meeting. >> and as you point out, we disclose in the book an earlier trump tower meeting that took place with trump himself and the key players in the later meeting. that is january 2015. they are welcomed by trump there and trump indicates that -- about his plans to run for president. so when i connect the dots and you see the personal relationships there, you know, it obviously raises the sort of questions that you just raised. >> michael, for 30 years now president trump wanted to build in moscow. they ever got it done. when did he come the closest and why did the deal fall apart? >> well, there is that first
trump tower project which i've just been talking about. i mentioned in february of 2014 ivanka goes to moscow to look for properties . what is happening at that time? putin is intervening in ukraine, that is followed very quickly by sanctions imposed by the obama administration and the european union and as we document in the book, this is what leads to the collapse of the project, one of the entitieses that was going to finance the project, majority russian government owned financial institution was targeted in those sanctions. rob goldstone is quoted in the book as saying that that is what led to the collapse of the project are. so it came close then. but then he tries again through another associate, former felon, and they set up another deal and
alert of inte letter of intent . this is in october 2015 while trump is running for president. the public knew nothing about it. but trump at that very moment was pursuing another deal/project in russia. that would have required putin's approval. so when you see that, you start to understand a bit trump's strange affinity for putin and his flattering public comments about putin. he needed putin's approval for the business deal he was trying to accomplish. >> and as i think you've made clear, we showed that headline from the friday times about mueller now seeking documents via subpoena power from the trump organization. you think what you you offer in this book is an explanation of what mueller is looking for. what is he looking for? >> like i said before, i think what he is looking for is to understand the relationships
between trump and the key players in this. and you know, the only surprise to me is why it has taken him so long to issue the subpoena. because it seems as we layout in the book pretty basic to understanding what was going on in that trump tower meeting and what was likely going on during the campaign. now, the trump organization has said it was voluntarily cooperating with mueller turning over documents that had been requested. if that is the case, you have to wonder why the subpoena would have been issued unless mueller's people saw indications or signs that not everything was being turned over. >> a good observation. why did they need to use the subpoena power. michael isikoff, thank you. appreciate you being here. what are folks saying? this from facebook i think.
i'd rather trump goes down because of russia than stormy. i think there is a play on words there somewhere. still to come, trump's lawyers now say adult film actress stormy daniels owes him $20 million for violating her nda, but can they prevent her "60 minutes" interview from airing? and this week toys "r" us became the latest retail giant to shutter its stores. meet the professor who says that for the good of american business, we have to break up amazon, apple, facebook and google. >> i'll always remember toys "r" us where my children had a complete and total meltdown every time we went there. now they buy toys online. and amazon will not rest until every other store is an abandoned warehouse teaming with raccoons. t the same tools and seamless experience eaming with raccoons. ming with raccoons. mmissions for stocks, $0.50 options contracts?
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opening statements are scheduled to begin on wednesday in the justice department bid to stop the at&t acquisition of time warner. time warner is of course the parent of cnn. despite working here, i don't have a dog in this fight. i've not spoken to anybody within the company about the deal. a cnn.com report this week noted that this is the first time in four decades that the justice department has sued to block a merger between companies in different lines of business. the justice department argues that the deal would give at&t the power to charge its competitors more for time warner's content, or to block the content entirely from the likes of comcast, verizon and charter. the justice department opposition was announced in november. but a lot has happened since then.
cvs said it would by aetna, disney buying fox, cigna bought to buy express scripts. but no opposition to any of those deals. which whether opposition to the at&t deal is politically motivated. >> this is a deal we with ll no approve in my administration because it will too much concentration of power in the hands of too few. >> but if you want to talk about too much power in the hands of too few, shouldn't we at least be asking about amazon, apple, facebook and google? in a moment an nyu professor whose students get recruited by these giants, despite his personal view that, quote, these behemoths enjoy unfettered domination and hoard riches on a scale not seen since the monopolies of the gilded age. how big are they?
consider that amazon with a market cap of $591 billion is worth more to the stock market than walmart, costco, t.j. maxx, target, ross, best by, nordstrom, macy's, jcpenney, dillards and sears combined. this is a timely subject where this week brought news that toys r us will shutter or sell all of its stores and amazon is partly to blame. this failure was certainly one of debt with which the company was saddled by its private equity investor, but of course the next time you need star wars legos, you'll probably go to amazon. the domination in our lives by big tech is unmistakable, but nobody seems particularly yum s upset about it, certainly not members of congress who in any other context would be raising questions. and i think i know why. we love our ghanadgets. nobody is eager to stand up for
a cable stove pipe, but hands off my iphone or my amazon prime account. don't separate me from my facebook friends and if god's sake don't interrupt my ability to google anything. but no matter how much we enjoy them, these big four are in dar danger of thwarting the rest of the country's economy. i want to know what you think. answer the survey question, given the market dominance of amazon, apple, facebook and google, is it time to bust up big tech? and now in his article, tax avoiding job killing machine sq writes that they have an impact on our daily lives unlike any companies in human history and his conclusion is, yes, big tech must be busted up. scott galloway from stern school of business, i know when this conversation ends the tweets will come and people will say who was that socialist you had on. disabuse them of the notion that you are a socialist.
>> i'm a full throated capitalist. i'm been an entrepreneur my whole on life and have done really well owning these stocks. and i think key to capitalism is competition and the markets are failing. they are no longer competitive because of the dominance evof these companies. but thank you for pointing out that i am a proud capitalist. >> are they monopolies in the conventional sense of the word, are they akin to made be bell b the breakup? >> i would argue yes, but a monopoly in itself is not bad or illegal. it is abusive monopoly power and i would argue a dough like google that has 9d company lik google that has 92% market share and taking you to a point that they can monetize is an buszing that power. think about this, 92% share of a sector now by dollar volume greater thanes advertising
market of any country with the exception of u.s. and will probably blow by it in two years. facebook has four of the top five apps in the world and is putting snap out of business. i mean you can go on and on. amazon has 70% share of voice, probably the technology of the future. and is responsible for about a quarter of all retail growth and about half of all online sales, yet we don't seem to be worried about the concentration of these companies. >> is the reason that we're not worried that which i said in my commentary which is we love use of the technology? i mean to your point, not even bernie sanders says anything about this as far as i know in the congress. >> quarter, there yeah, there ig going on. i believe we know longer worship at the altar of character and kindness, but innovators and money. and we're so impressed with these kids and we read every day about how awesome in-know situativags is, but we don't talk about the
reality that that there are about half as many businesses being formed today as there were 40 years ago. there are half as many public stocks than just 20 years ago. meaning small companies can't get out of the crib and big companies are being euthanized early. and what is the result of all this? middle class wages are stagnating. and if you were to look at the rise of big tech and decline in the wages of the middle class, you would have a difficult time saying there is not a correlation. the amount of power these companies can achieve, the low cost of capital, the scale, their ability to put small companies out of business and as i said, put big companies out of business prematurely is having a real impact on our economy. the growth of our economy small business two thirds, and it is never easier to be a billionaire, but harder to be a millionaire. facebook has technology that goes out and assesses if an app is getting traction and if it is, it immediately adopts the features in to one of its own apps. and if it can't, it buys it.
the markets are failing. >> professor, i pulled a graphic from your work in esquire relative to facebook and google which says that facebook and google are together worth $1.3 trillion. you could merge the world's top five advertising agencies with five major media companies and still need to add five major communications companies to get only 90% of what google and facebook are worth together. you have similar data relative to amazon. but you know there is a response to a lot of this. i'll just go with amazon. amazon loves to say, well, 4%, that is all we have. that is our only share of u.s. retail. >> so 4% is a number and you're right, the one they use. but here are some other numbers. there are good 40% of all online sales, about 25% of all retail growth in the u.s. they have 70% share of voice. and get this, they have prime or they have video distribution
recurring revenue relationship with 80% of wealthy households and two-thirds of all households in the u.s. earlier you talked about the president wanting to restrain at&t's being a we igs is six o time warner. aed has 120 million phone subscribers. and time waern arner and cnn ha fantastic content. amazon has 70% of homes have prime video and they are the second largest spender in the world on original scripted content at 5 billion just behind netflix. but we need at&t to sell adu-- of two things is happening. either the call is insane or these company shoes have been broken up a decade ago. doogle h google has youtube and it is pre-installed on 2 billion android devices. so the notion that this merger needs to be restrained and these companies with five or ten times
the distribution or contents don't need to be broken up seems irrational. >> final quick thought. the most powerful person in the world according to you, it is not putin, not trump, who is it and why? >> oh, hachnds down it is mark zuckerberg who has as accesem zuckerberg who has as acceseble community of 2.2 billion people and has license to take the mood up or down. he is not elected, cannot be removed from office. and last year tried to get his shareholders to agree to a three class share holder system where he could end up owning none of the company and still control it. facebook is the most successful thing in the history of mankind. it has been weaponized by foreign actors. if cnn had been weaponized by russia, my sense is we 00 woo ha would have fined your network ork advertisers would run. but the markets are failing. it is time to break these guys up. >> it is a really provocative
subject. thank you, professor. we'll see you how the poll goes. go to smerconish.com, answer the survey question. given the market dominance of amazon, apple, facebook and google, do you agree with the professor that it is time to bust up big tech? let's see what people are saying. twitter and facebook. knock it off, bust up big tech, look at all the choices people have for shopping these days. you must own a bricks and mortar store. the last thing i'd want to own today is a bricks and mortar store. up next, on friday president trump's attorneys filed to move stormy daniels' loawsuit agains him to federal court and claims she owes him $20 million. but can they prevent 6 on0 mint from airing the interview already taped?
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$130,000 payment shortly before election day 2016 in exchange for her promise to remain silent about the alleged affair which trump denies. meanwhile anderson cooper has taped a "60 minutes" interview with daniels due to air next sunday. do trump's lawyers have any means to prevent it from airing? joining me now is george freeman the executive director of the media law resource center, he was previously the "new york times" in-house lawyer for 30 years. kou can they stop "60 minutes"? >> no, really no way they can. it is laughable. number one, if cbs was worried about it, they would have put the interview on tomorrow rather than putting it back a week. so i don't think neff any fethe fears. but the first amendment says you can't do that, government can't abridge speech. so that goes directly to what trump and his lawyers are trying to do which is stop speech. and the first amendment says you
can't do that and the supreme court and pentagon papers of course said that you can only do it maybe if the publication would result shirlur surely in o the nation or its people. and stormy daniels talking about her sexcapade hardly meets that standard. so i don't see anyway that the trump folks can stop the interview from being aired. >> do you think that cbs has any exposure -- everything ure fromt insofar as they put her another air and she is violating the nda? >> no, i think they have to be careful about exposure particularly when it comes to a potential claim of invasion of privacy. but in terms of the nda, cbs isn't a party to the nda. it is a question of whether trump is a party because he didn't sign the document. but putting that aside, i don't think they can get to cbs
because cbs is not part of it. there is a claim called tortious interference of contract, but that really isn't apt in this setting and i don't think that would be successful. so the answer i think is no, the nda shouldn't really bar cbs from airing this or subject them to liability. >> michael avenatti who represents stormy daniels was here with me last weekend and i asked him the following question. let's watch. has anyone offered to pony up the million dollars to protect her and say here, i'm good for it, go tell your story? >> at lesion ten individuaast t the last three days along. >> what do you make of that? he says at least ten folks stand there checkbook ready to protect her if in fact she is held accountable. >> well, cbs shouldn't be one of those. and cbs shouldn't be indemnifying her because then they would look like they are in cahoots and that would hurt them in the claim that we were talking about.
but i mean she's obviously made a marketing decision that the $130,000 is peanuts compared to what she could make going forward. >> so the president has filed through a new lawyer, same lawyer who took down gawker by the way on behalf of hulk hogan, donald trump in notice of removal of action by defendant essential consultants, here's what i think is going on, he is trying to get the federal court involved so as to make sure this case stays in arbitration. there was one line that jumped off the page at me, mr. trump intends to pursue his rights to the fullest septembextent permi law. what will be interesting to see is whether he can stay sufficiently removed from that underlying agreement insofar as maybe he says hey, michael cohen negotiated that, i guess, i had nothing to do with it, but it is a valid agreement nonetheless. is that the needle he is trying to thread? >> i think it is. and i think he'll be
unsuccessful. he stepped into this now more than he had heretofore. the notion that he had nothing to do with the $130,000 is getting stillier as go along. i do think cbs has to be careful in terms of what she saysillier. i do think cbs has to be careful in terms of what she says and whether it subjects them from an invasion of privacy suit. for example, talking about specifics about the sexual act could be viewed as an invasion of privacy notwithstanding it involves the president of the united states. he is entitled to privacy as well. on the other hand, i should point out if for example she has to say something about his penis size in a way -- and i'm sorry early in the morning to talk about this, but in a way he's opened the door to that because he's bragged about it as i recall in the debate with marco rubio. so to some degree he's opened a door for a lot of this
discussion. nonetheless i think cbs has to vet the story carefully to be careful and as you point out the lawyer he now has is the lawyer who made that privacy suit against gawker. so they have to be careful about invading privacy and making sure that what she says about sex as some sort of newsworthy angle. >> perhaps this will finally be the case where we test that size of hand hypothesis. thank you for being here. >> thank you very much. still to come, your best and worst tweets and facebook comments. what do we have? smerconish, he had an affair with a porn star. what is new? loads of businessmen have affair with people and porn stars are people too. reality 2018, not going to hurt him politically, but will the red ties get tossed out of the second floor of the white house? that is the question. and unhappy, results of the survey question. given the market dominance ev,
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so this is going to be interesting. i have no idea which way this goes. the poll question right now, given the market dominance of amazon, apple, facebook, and google, is it time to bust up big tech? 8,119 votes cast. survey says, whoa, 59% say yes. i would have been surprised whatever the result is. i just don't know where the passions lie on this.
but my hunch is we all so love the gadgetry, you know, as he says, looking at his iphone, that while maybe we think economically speaking, they have too much power, uh-oh, i hope it's not going to jeopardize my ability to do a google search. here's some of the social reaction that's come in during the course of the program. hit me. wow, you really go way out of your way to support any and everything trump does. sycophantic much. i'm not going to respond. i just -- my hunch is that was rich. let's see what the next one is. my hunch is, and i don't know, they don't tell me the tweets in advance. smerconish, this is not a tale of two cities. to refer to the right wing as a legitimate side is wrong. see what i mean? they're delegitimized by propaganda and russian influence. the earth is not flat. there are not two sides. there are two sides.
there really are. guess what. i'm against both extreme sides. i'm for the middle size. where common prevails and data drives conversations. what's next? you have another one in there? are the tweets you read on air actually composed by yourself? i don't know how to say your handle, but i guess i have just proven that that is not the case. not only do i not write them, i don't see them. until you see them. we have this crazy operation here where i'm in front of a camera in philly, and my producer is out in the burbs, and she's screening them madly and sending them to new york, and then new york sends them to atlanta so i can respond in real time to whatever is on your mind. i'll keep that poll question up at smerconish.com. keep tweeting, facebooking, and you can catch up with us any time on cnn go and on demand. see you next week. last years' ad campaign
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