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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  June 3, 2017 3:00am-4:01am PDT

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getting money from the russians. we know his son-in-law was meeting with the top russian bank president. we know trump and his people are using of weapon in their legal vocabulary to keep their testimony and truth from seeing the light of day. you can believe what you see in broad daylight, or you can believe what dracula, vlad the impaler, is telling you. that's "hardball." thanks for being with us. the "rachel mad doughdow show" is right now. we have big news it breaking tonight. so big we'll be hearing from rachel herself in a few moments. it is friday night and the ap is reporting the russia probe is widening. special counsel robert mueller including in his inquiry a probe into paul manafort. as for man a fort, his political work has been widely reported. nbc confirminghe prosecutors have reviewed his advocacy for pro kremlin forces in ukraine and that came before he linked that's not great news for the white house but it does not automatically undercut their argument that trump has
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eliminated his ties to manafort and it might have little to do with the core of the campaign for president. manafort's once secret foreign payments from a pro-put putin dictator party surfaced right before he split from the campaign. ap reporting mueller will include that review of manafort into this wider russia probe. that's not great news for the trump white house but it does not automatically undercut their argument that trump has eliminated his ties to manafort and this may have little to do with the core of the 2016 campaign for president. the other part of the ap something name-check senior current trump officials including the man who just picked mueller for this job. ap says mueller may include the
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top two doj officials, rod rosenstein and jeff sessions. they sent that letter that trump may fire comey for one reason, that comey was allegedly unfair to hillary clinton, which later president trump said was not the real or only reason he fired come rosenstein wrote a memo and he and seions discussed that firing with trump, despite sessions' refusal to recuse himself, trump officials said that caused the firing. trump, of course, admitted that was not true in an interview with nbc's lester holt. >> did you ask for a recommendation? >> what did i was i was going to fire comey. my decision. it was not -- >> you had made the decision before -- >> i was going to fire comey. there's no good time to do it, by the way. >> in your letter, you said i accepted their recommendation. you had already made the decision. >> i was going to fire him regardless of recommendation. >> so he addition. >> he made a recommendation.
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he is highly respected. a very good guy, very smart guy. the democrats like him. the republicans like him. he made a recommendation. but regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey knowing there was no good time to do it. in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. >> now, that interview, when you listen to it, it did more than just throw the justice department under the bus. it made the justice department vulnerable at least to an allegation that it was part of an effort to mislead the whole nation about the first firing of an fbi director without cause in american history. that's a big deal. and a lot of that is still reverberating, as you know, within days, rosenstein responded to that by appointing mueller as the special counsel and then he gave a very unusual private briefi to th
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bipartisan gatheringf the senate and then he went quiet. no press releases, no speeches, definitely no media interviews until tonight. rod rosenstein spoke to the media for the first time since this all blew up. he spoke about russia and whether the man he picked to run this inquiry has the authority to potentially investigate him, rod rosenstein. here's what rosenstein tells the ap tonight. quote, i've talked to director mueller about this. he is going to make the appropriate additions and if anything did i winds up being relevant to his investigation, if there's a need for me to recuse, i will. a spokesman for mr. mueller in the article declined to comment. here's why this all matters, even if this is, to be clear, a hypothetical point. mueller has independence but rosenstein oversees him. rosenstein was involved, as i was just mentioning, that
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unusual rollout of law enforcement firing that at least some people think should be investigated as potential obstruction of justice. if mueller goes down that road, can rosenstein limit his authority? even if he doesn't, how do you really clearly and forthrightly investigate your own boss? well, tonight the news here on the record for the first time in an interview, is rosenstein saying he will get out of the way. he will recuse himself if need be. maybe the russia probe will die down and none of this stuff that they're putting out will be relevant. maybe rosenstein wants a secondary kind of a public reason not to talk about any of this again. by calling up the ap on a friday night and putting this on the record, maybe he thinks that allows him to then say later, for example, to congress, that this is a matter under potential investigation and he can't discuss it. we've heard those defenses before. or maybe this is the first of many rounds in the shadow boxing over this increasingly sticky probe as mueller makes clear right now that he has a broad mandate. basically daring his boss to disagree.
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and rosenstein is saying the right thing before what? before what we know is coming. the big days of testimony on capitol hill. from jim comey next week and soon after from sessions and rosenstein or maybe, i don't know, maybe it's a combinaon oall those dynamics. after weeks of letters about espionage, anonymous leaks and complaints about those underlying leaks, tonight we have at least one major player speaking out under his own nail name in the light of day. joining us now, eric tucker, the justice department reporter for the ap who broke this story. thanks for joining tonight. >> thank you for having me, ari. i appreciate it. >> you broke this story. it is significant for many reasons. can you tell us more about how it came together and how it was that rod rosenstein basically gave you this first on-the-report interview about this hot topic.
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>> so actually, rod spoke with a colleague of mine, sadie, and it was a wide-ranging conversation about some of his priorities as the deputy attorney general. and during the course of that conversation he was asked about the scope and the purview of had special counsel mueller's mandate sdpe acknowledged very honestly that bob mueller has a very broad mandate that could include anything that he potentially did, it can include anything that the attorney general did. and he said, as you indicated awe few minutes ago, that if there is anything that rod rosenstein himself did that is considered to be relevant to the investigation, he said he'll go ahead and recuse himself. >> eric, that is different than the view of some people inside the trump white house who publicly opposed any special counsel and certainly have taken the position that whatever the russia probe is, it should not go into the firing of jim comey. >> right. so when you look at the one page mandate that was issued several weeks ago by the justice
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department, it clearly gives a fairly sweeping mandate to bob mueller and i think everybody who knows bob mueller anticipates that he's going to pull all the relevant strings that he wants to. certainly at the focal point of this investigation is potential collusion between moscow and the trump campaign but that also includes a look at any potential associates of president trump, which would include his campaign chairman, paul manafort, and it could certainly include allegations of perjury, obstruction of justice or anything of that sort. >> in this ap interview, did you get into jim comey's coming testimony? >> no. >> let me ask you about the manafort piece of it. what do you see as significant about that? because, you know, for our viewers, a lot of folks have tracked different people connected to trump at different times under review. what does it say to you, based on your reporting and wider knowledge, that this is now
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under mueller's per view? >> it's interesting. as you noted the manafort investigation predates the collusion investigation, it is truly operating on a separate track of a criminal financial fraud type investigation. so, clearly, as they're building up their team, as they're developing their resources, as they're gathering steam as part of this investigation, they are looking at all these different sort of outstanding threads and trying to figure out what are the potential ties or connections that unite all of them under a single person and a single leadership. in a lot of ways, it is not that surprising. >> when you look toward james comey's expected testimony this coming thursday, for you, what is the biggest question you would have for him or want to hear from him on? >> i think we'll hear about his encounters with president trump in the weeks and months that predated his firing. one thing that is really important, interesting about jim comey, he is known to have kept actual memos, formal written
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memos that he would write up after exchanges or encounters that made him uncomfortable. we know, for instance, that he did this in february after an oval office meeting in which he says president trump asked him if he would consider ending the investigation into michael flynn, who was, of course, president trump's first national security advis. i think the senate will be very interested in that and i think former director comey will have interest in recounting that from start to finish. >> justice tucker, part of that team that broke the story for the ap. thank you. >> thank you. we turn now to nick ackerman, a former watergate special prosecutor with quite a bit of experience in these kind of cases, which are not the normal kind of case. what jumps out to you about this reporting? >> i think its not surprising. i would have expected the manafort piece would have been part of this. i would have expected that rod rosenstein would be considered at least a witness in this case. he was part of the whole process that created that pretext for trump to fire comey in the first
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instance. they used his memo as an excuse as to why they were firing comey, when in fact, trump later admitted that was not the actual reason for firing him. in fact, it was the russian investigation that he wanted to get rid of. so in a way, they were using rosenstein and using his memo as pretext in order to fire comey and keep it away from the russian investigation. so just on that basis alone, rod rosenstein is a key witness in this case. >> so when you say rod rosenstein is a witness and mueller's russian investigation, you're saying he is a witness to how president trump fired jim comey and why? >> because it all the resulted in an obstruction of justice. if you look at the entire pattern of what occurred here from the time the trump white house was warned about michael flynn, and the fact that he was subject to bribery and blackmail by the russians, the fact that
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trump sat on that for 18 days until the press finally put the heat on him, and then at that point he fires him. the next day he meets with comey and asks comey to back off the investigation, and then when comey asks for more resources to put into this investigation, and announces that there is an investigation before the u.s. senate, what does trump do? he fires him. >> you're a prosecutor. you know if you're going to make a case, you need a statute and you need a target. when you say there's an obstruction case, who is the target? >> the target would be the president of the united states and anybody else that was involved in that decision to fire jim comey. it could be jared kushner who's admitted that he was involved in that decision to fire jim comey. the statute is section 1503, an endid he haver to object construct justice which includes
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fbi investigations. clearly, the only issue here is what was the president's intent in firing comey. he's basically admitted on national telision to lester holt that he wanted to get rid of the russi investigation. so all of this comes back to the russian investigation, what did the trump campaign have to do with the wikileaks that related to the break-in with the computers at the clinton campaign, and two, to what extent did the campaign, the trump campaign, collude with the russian government with respect to the data mining and the microtargeting of voters in order to suppress the vote on hillary clinton and to increase the vote for donald trump? >> when you were a nixon watergate special prosecutor, when you worked on that team, the view of the justice department then, as now, is you can't indict a sitting president for this kind of crime. when you reference that statute, if mueller is looking at
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criminal liability in this case, does he have to find, in your view, someone other than the president? >> i think his investigation has to include everybody. certainly did the trump was part of the trump campaign. he has to find out what the facts are. now, it may be that he'll come up and conclude at the end, which it appears likely will happen, that donald trump was engaged in obstruction of justice. i don't believe at this point in time he could ask the grand jury to return an indictment on a sitting president. >> legally. >> right, legally. but that doesn't mean there aren't other co-conspirators involved in that decision for the exact same reason, to ditch that fbi investigation. if that's so, those people can be indicted and brought to justice. in the same way that it was done with the watergate investigation, there's no reason why all of these facts relating to the president of the united states can't be turned over to the house and then be part of anyind of impeament
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proceeding, if, in fact, that's where the evidence lds. look, we have not at this point seen the memo that's james comey has written. we don't know exactly what his testimony is going to be. everything we've heard has been secondhand. >> right. >> but if you take all of that and you take into account what the president himself has admitted, it just doesn't paint a pretty picture at this point. >> right. that is why, although the ap was very careful in its wording, that mueller is talking about -- or reportedly his aides are speaking about what he may do and what he may include, i think it's fair to say from your experience, if it may include the attorney general, that is a significant deal. although, as we always note, we have to wait for the evidence to come in. as always, appreciate your coming in. >> thank you for having me. >> former assistant u.s. attorney in new york as well as former watergate special prosecutor. now, when all these developments do come together at the end of a week like this, it does make me wonder what rachel maddow would make of this. she'll join us next and i'll ask her.
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welcome back to another friday night of what seems like extraordinary news from the trump/russia inquiry, beginning with reuters reporting that robert mueller is taking over the grand jury inquiry into michael flynn and the lobbying flynn did for turkey without registering as the agent of foreign government which is required under law. the ap then, would that include the probe, jeff sessions for the role in the firing of the fbi director, if mueller wants to go in that direction. the deputy a.g., as we were just discussing, says mueller has room to run. the ap reporting mueller also taking over the criminal probe involving the former trump
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campaign manager, paul manafort. the manafort probe predates the whole trump campaign and goes back to 2014 with the downfall of the putin president of ukraine who rose to power with the help of manafort. and all that rolled up into the perhaps bottomless portfolio. and we're going to talk to a jonalist who has been connecting that investigation into manafort and ukrainian payments with the trump/russia probe for quite a while now. she's also the host of this show, the ultimate dot connecter, rachel maddow. how are you? >> hey, ari, you can probably tell from my voice, i'm still not exactly myself. i'm still recovering from this thing. but i am super happy that i am able to with you guys tonight. and this is addition-- i mean, about dot-connecting, i feel like this is one of those
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moments where we've been wush whacking through the forest for a long time and we just came out into a clearing and we can see where we are. it is sort of a landmark moment in terms of this investigation, i think. >> when you see that the special counsel is now overseeing the manafort inquiry, what do you think that means? >> you know, it -- you covered it very well, i thought, in the "a" block in terms of what we understand about why this came about and what it might mean. whether it's expected or not. i mean, for me, it raises a few different things. first of all, i think it raises some factual questions which are knowable things, which eventually we will get answered. and it's really practical stuff. but i think it could be consequential. and that is, okay, well, does this mean en that the resources of that fbi inquiry which we've been talking about on the show since the second week of may, i think is the first time we talked about this
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as being potentially related to the trump/russia collusion. if the sort of fbi investigation into ukraine has been going on for years, it's a big investigation. they've got fbi agents stationed in kiev. it's a large-scale international clep tock racy and fraud investigation. practical question, does that mean that the resources of that investigation and the agents assigned to it now get moved over into mueller's inquiry? they get folded into the mueller inquiry. it is the same thing with the reports that the mike flynn foreign payments from turkey investigation which has been headed up out of the eastern district of virginia, there are reports that will be taken over by mueller. practical answerable question about that. does that mean that the investigators and prosecutors who have been working on that, including that specialist espionage prosecutor who's been leading that investigation into flynn in virginia, do all those people get folded into what mueller is doing? how big an investigation? how well resourced an investigation?
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and caliber people -- practical consequences as to whether or not those prosecution -- the resources of those other prosecutions and investigations are getting folded in. those are to a certain degree, the fbi key yef one is a big, mature investigation. i think we will get the answers about that. i think one way or anoer we'll find out if that espionage prosecutor from the flynn thing is working for mueller. we'll find out if those fbi agents in kiev now answer to mueller. that will be interesting. i think there's actual factual questions that it raised for you that maybe we won't get answers to. the remit for mueller says he can investigate trump/russia collusion and things that arise from that investigation. if he's taking over the flynn foreign payments investigation and he's taking over the ukrainian cleptocracy investigation, does that imply he believes those things are related to the trump campaign --
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>> that they're linked. >> right. >> the other thing i want to ask you which is part political, part legal. there's this refrain that nothing seems to matter in this trump era. or government lies don't matter. but with all of this coming out, i wonder whether you think there is some potential accountability for false statements about russia or jim comey's firing that could haunt this white house. >> yeah. i mean, we'll find out. it's now being described sort of matter of factly that mueller is not just looking into trump campaign collusion, he's also looking into obstruction of justice, perjury, intimidating witnesses, all of that stuff. that's being stated by observers here and people who are familiar with this stuff. but we don't have any confirmation of that from mueller. so i sort of want to wait on that until i hear it from the horse's mouth. we can surmise that's true. but i think there is one really, really important and so far overlooked consequence of the manafort thing being folded into mule which is that, ari, we were
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first to report that jeff sessions as attorney general was refusing to state whether or not he considered himself to be recused from any matters involving paul manafort. if this in fact is true, and all manafort matters are now being handled by mueller, that takes away the worry that any trump justice department interference might get in the way of the manafort part of this investigation. and that to me seems like a really important advance here. >> that's a great point. because i work here, rachel, i happen to know you're resting up and coming back soon, but while you're out, are you going bonkers not covering all this news this week? >> yes, ari, i am. i am watching nbc -- i am watching msnbc instead of help make msnbc coverage. you have been doing an amazing job, as have all the producing staff there. but i'm desperate to get back into this because i just -- i keep thinking it's going to die down and we keep getting these
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landmark moments. >> i'm familiar with the amazing job they do because they're here every day and every night, rachel, thank you for calling in. i hope you get well soon and you're back in this chair and at this desk where you are, of course, missed. >> i will be back soon, ari. you're doing an awesome job, my friend. >> thank you so much. still ahead, the white house says its looking into something that could prevent former fbi director jim comey from doing that big testimony next week. that's still ahead. stay with us. i was out here smoking instead of being there for my son's winning shot.
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today after a long legal battle, seven of the president's secret tapes were given to the judge. the president's lawyers asked that all or parts of three of the tapes be withheld from the grand jury on grounds of executive privilege. here's more from carl stern. >> after four months of legal squabbling, the presidential tape-recordings were finally delivered today to the chief judge. >> executive privilege. it is what nixon tried to use in 1973 totop those infamous tapes you see on the screen from getting out. it didn't work and we know how the rest of the story went. executive privilege is the modern right of presidents to protect certain deliberations of government and to resist requests for staff that reach too far into the president's purview, but it is not absolute. you can't typically use to it cover up a crime, like the nixon tapes about watergate and
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limited of executive are back in the news because of this countdown to thursday when jim comey is supposed to testify. now, he no longer works for this administration. that's one reason he's testifying. but washington lately has been obsessed about whether trump might follow other presidents and take a broad reading of this privilege to try to limit what comey says. and today the white house indicated it is reviewing the option, according to bloomberg news. and in fairness to this white house, it's really the job of any decent white house lawyer to review, if privilege claims are legally possible for such sensitive testimony and then consider whether they're in the public interest. but here's the thing about presidents. they love their executive powers and they push them way past the breaking point. because a privilege for secrets only works for secrets. not for essentially public matters or, you know, things you've been tweeting all about. president obama even learned the limits of executive privilege the hard way when a court rejected his attempt to use it r some justice deptment
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materials. the judge said his own officials had already publicized o much of that stuff to then claim it was a secret. and that was the case where the obama officials had disclosed materials in, we could say, a measured way, a contrast to the loud, even chaotic presentation by president trump about his dealings with jim comey. president trump himself blabbing about it on twitter, talking it up in tv interviews, even allegedly to the russians in the oval office. that's according to sources in trump's own administration who spoke to "the new york times." so, joining us now to give us a deeper tutorial is barbara mcweighm mcwade, former u.s. attorney. thanks for being here. >> glad to be here. >> how much does dthd trump's style of public rhetoric affect his potential claims to executive privilege regarding jim comey? >> well, he may have doomed any claim of executive privilege on this matter with his public comments. you can't assert privilege if you've already talked about it in the must be sphere.
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we've seen tweets where he said, jim comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversation. he told lester holt he was thinking about the russia thing when he fired jim comey. in the very letter he wrote to jim comey firing him, he said, thank you for telling me on three separate indications that i'm not the subject of investigation. >> if the white house were to assert it, how would it go down? >> this is interesting because this is a scenario that's a little different from the usual. usually, you mentioned, the obama example, it's the white house that wants to prevent documents or a member of its administration from testifying. here we have, i esume, a willing witne in jim comey who would like to com forward and tell his story. so if the trump white house were to assert the privilege, it's not clear whether they have the power to do so with a willing witness. this is an area of the law that's not very well developed. usually when these matters occur, some compromise is worked out.
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it will be interesting to see whether they can assert it with a willing witness like jim comey. >> you mentioned compromise with the congress. here's a new letter out tonight, just this hour from democrats in congress saying we write to the white house to remind you, any association of prif is baseless. we urge you in the strongest possible terms to counsel the president accordingly. if you're sitting in the white house counsel's office, is there room for what you mentioned as compromise, for some effort to try to go at things the president hasn't exposed, some narrower version of his considerations with comey about national security in russia? >> that might be an effective strategy in this case. another reason the prif might not be effective, as you mentioned earlier, it's not absolute. there could be a finding that it's in the best interest of justice to have jim comey testify. so, if i were advising the president, i would try to narrow the areas of testimony. you can talk about these things but not these other things, perhaps. >> finally, our viewers who
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watch a lot of this stuff are familiar with watching jim comey bob and weave. he takes certain questions and doesn't take others. in your view, what are the actual doj rules on him when he comes forward? >> well, i don't think he can really talk about the substance of the russia investigation. that is an ongoing, pending investigation. he should not talk about that. also, anything that is classified material he could not talk about. his considerations with the president, whether he was asked to give ms. -- pledge his loyalty to the president, whether he was asked to dphe investigation, i think tse maers are all fair game. >> right. which is as we were discussing higher in the show, something that may or may not come up in the underlying inquiry, which is a big deal. barbara mcquad, former u.s. attorney. thank you. >> thanks for having me. >> still ahead, we'll hear from michael beschloss on where this breaking news about where the special inquiry could go as well
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as new questions on jared kushner and prominent russian banker. what do you have there? p3 it's meat, cheese and nuts.
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welcome back. one of the reasons tonight's story in the ap is such a big deal is you have the deputy attorney general, rod rosenst n rosenstein, basically speaking out on the record for the first time since jim comey was fired, something he was so intim matly involved with. and on top of that he basically confirms in conjunction with mueller's investigation, the guy he appointed, that the inquiry could expand into attorney general jeff sessions and
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rosenstein's own role in that decision to fire former fbi director jim comey. there have been many a question about how wide the scope of this inquiry is. how much rope would mueller be given and whether the deputy ag or congress or the president at some point would reel him in. rosenstein made it pretty clear today f it wasn't already, that mueller was on his own. if that means the deputy attorney general has to step aside and rekuz, he'll do it. this is important historically because there's always been a distinction between investigating one item of government misconduct versus the actual management of an entire presidential administration. think about investigating the watergate burglary versus the wider investigation of that cover-up. or the investigations of the iran/contra foreign policy deal versus wider investigations over whether there were deliberate efforts to mislead congress or lie to the american people. so, we're no longer talking tonight about the speculations and the what-ifs. we're reporting really on what's being said right out of the doj.
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and this investigation basically saying, we are looking at certain people and history shows that when a special counsel or independent prosecutor looks at people, it means something. it doesn't tell us the end, but it does tell us, we are an important part, perhaps an early chapter, of this history. we might be able to benefit from a history lesson. i'm happy to say tonight we have just the guy. nbc presidential historian, michael beschloss. great to see you. >> great to see you, ari. >> thank you. without prejudging anything beyond what we know tonight, which we discussed the reporting and where this goes, we don't know. i wonder with a history can lens, why you're here, what does history say about what has happened when there are wider inquiries into the running of an administration? >> well, what has happened is that if there was an offense that's going to be likely found out. that's one reason why richard nixon went after archibald cox
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because he expanded his investigatn into various abuses of power which in the end included the obstruction of justice for ich nin was driven out of office. and so for donald trump to find out -- if he's finding out tonight that this investigation is going to go beyond, you know, the original focus of it, that's not great news for him. >> it's so interesting you say that because you're referring to in it is watergate timeline, which many observe took so much longer, it appears that both publicly, as you just said within government, the understanding of how wide this scope was came later. so, do you infer anything as a matter of best practices or abundance of caution, all the legal mumbo jumbo that comes out there, that mueller is drawing some lessons from that history? >> i think that's right. this has really sped up because as you said, the watergate process took a lot longer. but but we have at least shadows on the wall of investigations of
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collusion with the russians and perhaps financial crimes, perhaps obstruction of justice, and perhaps some connection among all those things. you know, to leap from chapter 1 to chapter 16, you know, if -- and we're a long way from that, but if mueller finds there is a connection, for instance, between collusion and taking money in some way and obstruction, you know, that could lead the way that richard nixon led because, you know, and again we're a lon way from having evidence of any of this, but the constitution says that the grounds for impeachment are treason and bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. >> historically why did so many presidents shy away from rushing to use the part in power even when they were obviously upset about investigations? >> they have shrunk from using the pardon power because it looks terrible and also it's essentially a confession of guilt. when richard nixon was pardoned by gerald ford, some people
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said, why didn't ford make nixon issue a greater statement of contrition. and nixon said, i think this was not enough, but nixon said by accepting a pardon, i was accepting guilt. >> wow. nbc presidential historian, michael beschloss. i always appreciate your time. >> and i hope we don't come to seeing a pardon. >> that's one of the questions, a lot of these things involve following norms. and i think one of the questions is, what stamina do norms have right now? we don't know. >> and that's why we all have to hold those in power accountable. >> thank you, as always. >> thank you, a. ri. up next, some new questions about why jared kushner had that secret meeting with a russian banker.
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you're the subject of intense scrutiny in america because of your meeting with donald trump's son-in-law, jared kushner. >> any comments about that. i have a consideration about addition. >> i know you do. but there is some confusion over exactly what happened. were you talking about business or were you talking about politics? >> no more comments, please. >> sergey gorkov continues to avoid questions from reporters about what he discussed during that secret meeting with jared kushner back in december. a meeting now of interest to federal investigators. this was the second known meeting kushner failed to
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disclose back in december. he met with russian ambassador sergey kislyak in which he he reportedly set up that back channel with the kremlin, even possibly using russian diplomatic facilities to do it. as to why kushner met with gor kov later that month, we don't know. public explanations being offered up don't match. the white house saying it was a diplomatic meeting while the bank said it was a business meeting with kushner because of the role with his family's real estate empire. either explanation brings up its own problems. it was called a potential secret kremlin back channel or if it were a business meeting with the ceo of the russian bank, under u.s. sanctions at a time when kushner was looking for investors to help pay off some ballooning debts. over $1 billion kushner's company has used to buy that flagship real estate property in
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the heart of midtown manhattan and it must be paid back over the next two years. for months there is a journalist who's been saying investigators must like at kushner's real estate troubles as a potential reason, an joining me now is that journalist, tim o'brien. he is the executive editor of bloomberg view. he is the author of "trump nation: the art of being donald" which led him to be sued unsuccessfully at the time by donald trump. thank you for being here. >> it's great to be here, ari. >> given everything that has come out, how you view this all now? >> the 666 fifth? well, i think it's hanging over the white house now like a specter. it's brought the investigation full force into the oval office. it possibly implicates one of those powerful people in the office, the president's son-in-law. and i think it's added a new element to this.
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it's moved beyond simply a political collusion investigation. did the kremlin collude with the trump campaign to tip the trump campaign into trump's favor? into was there trading of financial favors possibly in exchange for policy decisions. >> you have reporting on this. this is interesting. when i was thought the primaries covering candidate donald trump, many of his supporters said they loved that he wouldn't owe anyone that he was independently wealthy that he would be different than politicians for sale. >> drain the swamp. >> and drain the swamp. but drain the swamp's policy were saying his ledger and the people hwould bring in, he wouldn't owe anyone. your reporting sms to suggest e opposite. >> well, clearly the reporting is built on the shoulders of a lot of other great reporters. the "new york times," the "washington post" and bloomberg news. but when you connect these dots, you have a property on fifth avenue. it's a skyscrape they're is a jewel in the kushner real estate crown that is staggering under unmanageable debt. and jared kushner begins having talks with chinese financiers in
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the summer of 2016. and those progressed through the end of 2016 and early 2017 until reporting came out that he may get a favorable deal from the chinese. and the deal i think blew up because of that. during the same time period, he is also meeting with the russians. and he meets with a russian banker during the same period. now we don't me what they discussed. but for some reason, the russian ambassador to the united states decided to broker a meeting between the president's son-in-law and the head of a major russian bank. >> would veb bank be the kind of institution that would put money into the fifth avenue property? >> well, the bank is very close to the kremlin. it's board of overseers includes dmitry medvedev, the former president of russia. sergey gorkov trained at an espionage school in russia. so it's very closely embedded in the russian government itself. >> so you're saying it might for foreign policy reasons, not for business reasons. >> maybe for both. i think what you're seeing here is a possibility that the
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russians said we can put some money to work in the united states. and in exchange, get sanctions lifted on both our banking system and the country itself. >> tim o'brien, it is fascinating. a thread to keep pulling on. thanks for being here. >> thanks, ari. >> i appreciate it. still ahead, some news on what the white house is doing on domestic policy while a lot of attention has been elsewhere. new bikes aren't selling guys... what are we gonna do? how about we pump more into promotions?
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you can't let trump and his allies be a diversion. they are a threat and they have been effective up until now. so twitter is a perfect example. you're going to drive up the numbers, you've got more people chasing rabbits down rabbit holes. you've got all kinds of stuff happening. why? to divert attention. it's the circus. right? it's what a classic authoritarian does. it's not just about influencing your institutions, your values. they want to influence your reality. >> that was hillary clinton this week criticizing overreactions to donald trump's tweets.
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the trump campaign tonight is now pitching a new chance, they say, to hold a political rally about it outside the white house. some are calling that a distraction. after why, why do you need a weekend rally for something the president already did? but the administration also did another significant thing this week that many have overlooked. it involves your rights and your health care. the context came from that executive order. this was from last month originally, with president trump signing what he called the religious liberty executive order, telling federal agencies to work out a new rule, quote, to address conscience-based objections to the preventative care mandate. that was build as a way to help religious organizations like, say, the little sisters of the poor, who have refused to cover contraception for their employees' health care. now this week reports the administration is about to finish that rule. right now behind the scenes, it's been pitching it as a way to exempt those religious groups from having to cover contraception.
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the stated goal being to, quote, respect employers' rights to religious freedom, even when the decisions involve their employees. now a draft of that rule has leaked, and this new rule as interpreted gives away the game. because it gives away the fact that this rule isn't really about employers' rights, whatever you think of that argument. it's actually much broader. it is about preventing access to health care writ large. in this case, obviously, health care for women. thtrp administration is writing that they plan to, quote, expand exemptions for religious beliefs, and this is key, moral convictions. moral convictions. that is new broad language that can suggest any employer can now opt out of the federal requirement to cover contraception. here is how one law professor explained it to vox. quote, it's a very, very, very broad exception for everybody. if you don't want to provide it you don't have to provide it. so any company or organization that you work for could argue
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under this reading that they have a, quote, moral problem with contraception or moral problem with say you or anyone in your family not getting pregnant. and the trump administration then would be able to let them off the hook for what is a mandate under law currently to cover your contraception. the proposed rule as it reads under this argument could potentially deny contraception to hundreds of thousands of women. of people in this country. of women in this country. quote, the rules will result in some not receiving coverage or payments for contraception. oh, and one more thing. the rule will take effect as soon as it's published in the federal register, which could happen literally any day. in this case, it's not what they say on twitter or in the rose garden. it is about what they do. and that does it for tonight. i also hope you will consider joining me for a special edition of my show "the point" this
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sunday at 5:00 p.m. eastern. have i an exclusive with a woman who was editor-in-chief of jared kushner's newspaper. she says he has never had a, quote, realistic view of his own capabilities. msnbc live is up next. good morning. i'm dara brown at msnbc headquarters in new york. it's 7:00 a.m. in the east, 4:00 a.m. out west. day 135 of the trump administration and a new fallout from a pulling out of the paris climate deal. there's one big question that remains with respect to the president's position on the climate and no one in the white house will answer it. anticipation builds for the coming week. former fbi director james comey is set to testify. will the president try to stop him? and new details on that megyn kelly one-on-one exclusive interview with vladimir putin. what exactly is he saying now about allegations russia hacked the u.s. election? and new reports on