Skip to main content

tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  January 31, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

7:00 pm
policy center and now the head of the centers for disease control. we even screwed one up. we put press secretary on the same line as white house chief of staff. that might be an intentional screw up, where else are you going to put a dot. we're going to have to do it as a slide show. more than three dozen high ranking officials in a year. that's well over tripled the rate of president obama's staff in the same time. that probably means nothing at all, but we're going to keep it on track, get a bigger graphic. now it's time for the "last word with lawrence o'donnell." >> when we talk about tv talking heads, most of us expect to see the talking side of the head when we're looking at our tvs. instead we get that beautiful thick head of hair back there.
7:01 pm
>> we have this list. i got to make sure -- >> i get it. i get it completely. made perfect sense. rachel, we have manna-puzo joining us tonight with a big development in the obstruction of justice case. one of the witnesses quoting hope hicks to the special prosecutor, her words saying the e-mails that set up the meeting at trump tower will never get out. and the question is, was she intending to obstruct justice by participating in a scheme to make sure the e-mails would never get out and if she was, she was doing it with the president of the united states who was on the phone with her. >> and what is particularly important i think in an ongoing way for this story is once again you've got this strong statement from hope hicks's lawyer saying
7:02 pm
no this didn't happen, but mark corallo's side of this comes bolstered. the way the "new york times" got this story and reported it out is that mark corallo told three people contemporaneously at the time it happened what happened. they've now given their reports to the "new york times," mr. corallo is not disputing the reports. and now we have, after he said it alarmed him, we know he quit. we didn't have an explanation at the time why he was quitting, this now gives us the explanation. so we have the reporting, the witnesses coming forward and going on the record and he's attesting to the truth of what they're saying, that's a lot of weight. that's not he said, she said, that's he said and these folks can back it up. >> it's a gigantic development in the obstruction of justice investigation.
7:03 pm
i try to find an adjective that will get this to land because we get so many bombshells and explosive developments this one is more of an important development of what we already knew about the president being on the phone trying to come up with lies to tell the "new york times" because as everyone pointed out, that was just lying to the "new york times." that wasn't lying in any legal procedure. and it's left a sort of mystery of why is the special prosecutor so interested in hope hicks and these air force one phone calls and if it was a discussion about more than lying to the "new york times," if there was a discussion about getting rid of the e-mails knowing the prosecutor investigating it, that is a crime. >> that last point you made there is super important. it's not something that randomly happened during the campaign and they're lying and who cares they're lying. this happened well into the administration after when he knew there was an ongoing
7:04 pm
investigation. this happened in june when this was first responders repoported. so if the content of their discussion about occluding from view the public or blocking from the prosecutor the existence of this evidence, that's a legal concern. that's not just you're a bad person for lying. that is you're potentially liable for having tried to impede that investigation by keeping that information away from them. a super important story. >> another great example of what the special prosecutor knows we don't know until we discovery it long after the special prosecutor has. we can get the feeling through michael wolff's book that we have a minute by minute understanding of some of these days, some of these scenes, we don't. a lot can happen in a minute and the special prosecutor is trying to find out about each one of those minutes. >> we should have learned that
7:05 pm
lesson on indictment day when george papadopoulos is pleading guilty. who had him in their story line. they're in the robert mueller term's, they don't leak. and the fbi and justice department now is going to get hotter tomorrow. but they proceed at pace. >> thank you, rachel. >> lauthank you, lawrence. >> we're going to get to the "new york times." but remember before the "new york times" report it's been a day of breaking news including a report that president trump in what is his now customary gansster style asked deputy attorney general rod rosenstein if he was, quote, on my team. that was a report earlier today. we also got an fbi statement today saying that the memo written by the republican staff of the house intelligence committee that might be released as early as tomorrow is filled with misinformation and falsehoods. we'll get to all of that later in this hour. but first, we will begin with
7:06 pm
the late breaking news from the "new york times" on the obstruction of justice investigation of the president of the united states and his staff, including the 29-year-old white house communications director hope hicks, who reportedly said something on air force one that could indicate that she and the president were conspireing to obstruct justice. we'll be joined by one of the reporters who broke the story for the "new york times" tonight. the times is reporting what mark corallo is planning to tell the special prosecutor when he's interviewed. he was special counsel for the trump team before he resigned in july, shortly before the incident that's described in the "new york times" tonight. mr. corallo intends to tell the special prosecutor about a conference call that has not previously been reported. we've known about a conference call from air force one
7:07 pm
involving the president and hope hicks in which the president was directing the false answers that should be given to the "new york times" for what became the first report of the meeting at trump tower in the middle of the presidential campaign with a group of russians, that meeting was attended by donald trump jr., paul manafort, and jared kushner. tonight "new york times" is reporting on another conference call about the evidence that could reveal that the trump tower meeting was really about getting dirt on hillary clinton. the "new york times" obtained the e-mails that set up that meeting. they indicated that the russians were promising dirt on hillary clinton, to which donald trump jr. replied, i love it! that's all in the e-mails. the e-mails are very important in this case. tonight the times is reporting, quote, mr. corallo is planning to tell mr. mueller about a previously undisclosed conference call with mr. trump and hope hicks, the white house
7:08 pm
communications director, according to three people. mr. corallo plans to tell investigators that ms. hicks said during the call that e-mails written by donald trump jr. before the trump tower meeting in which the younger mr. trump said he was eager to receive political dirt about mrs. clinton from the russians, quote, will never get out. that left mr. corallo with concerns that ms. hicks could be contemplating obstructing justice the people said. joining us now by phone is the investigative reporter for the "new york times," one of the co-authors of this report. matt, the significance of mark corallo interpreting in as possible obstruction of justice what did he see in this that he thought could be obstruction of justice. >> what he told people in real time was that either hope hicks
7:09 pm
was being naive in washington everything ultimately sees the light of day. or that she was indicating some sort of effort to keep those e-mails from seeing the light of day. now, we should say that the actual practicality of that was very low. at that point we know the lawyers had already gotten those e-mails, stamped those e-mails, prepared them to be given to congress and to bob mueller. but if you're on that conference call, our understanding of what coral l corallo is going to tell bob mueller, is that i believe that was some sort of indication to keep those e-mails out. remember i was the one dealing with the white house on this in real time at the moment. we were dealing with dualing statement. we got a statement that was misleading that said, the
7:10 pm
purpose of this was mostly we talked about russian adoption and then our story comes out and an hour later there's another story that suggests not only did they not talk about dirt on hillary clinton but maybe this was all a democratic setup. so we were getting kind of like duelling statements to make sense of this. neither of which addressed the truth. so the conference call you just mentioned is mark corallo and hope hicks on the line on who's dealing with this better. >> this conference call you're reporting tonight, did that occur on air force one prior to or after the other conference call. >> no. my understanding that would have been the day after the initial -- our initial story came out. this would have been post-air force one trip as the administration tried to deal
7:11 pm
with the fallout of this. and hope hicks is saying mark corallo, how could you give this rival statement. that was really dumb. and mark corallo turns around and says hope hicks are you kidding me? your statement was misleading. and they kind of go at it and the implication that corralo left with was she was trying to cover something up. i think it's worth mentioning not only does hope hicks's lawyer, who typically does not talk to reporters and not give statements to reporters vehemently denying the conversation happened that way. but we have contemporaneous reporting that says hope hicks is advocating trying to get ahead of the story by putting the e-mails out. so again this is a theme of these -- these fights inside the administration of, you know, who's right and who's wrong,
7:12 pm
who's on the side of good and who's not. and this is the kind of thing that bob mueller is going to have to sort out. >> any indication of what mark corallo is going to say about what the president said about those e-mails never getting out? >> so our understanding was that the president, for the most part, was in listening mode there. it's not even clear to us to what degree the president knew exactly what was in the e-mails. obviously he had direct involvement in helping craft that statement to us that was misleading, but to the -- it's not clear to us what extent he knew was in the e-mails. so our knowledge of what mark corallo will say is, mr. president, this is not a smart decision and we shouldn't be talking about this, you know, without lawyers present. this is no longer a privileged conversation because this is not a conversation between you and your lawyers. >> and mark corallo's not a
7:13 pm
lawyer. he was a spokesperson, a pr person, handling the reporters who wanted to talk to the legal team. so there's no attorney-client privilege in this discussion that the president is participating in with hope hicks talks about those e-mails will never get out and mark corallo being apparently horrified by what he's hearing. and he apparently knows enough about legal process and has dealt with lawyers enough certainly on the team he was representing that he knew this was edging into, if not stepping straight into, obstruction of justice territory. >> it was a concern that he shared with people in real time. and then, when we spoke to him today, we said, look, this is what we're going to report. he said, i don't dispute any of that, but i don't have anything to add. obviously he's going to talk to mueller, so there's constraint there is of what he wants to say ahead of that interview. again, i think the circular
7:14 pm
firing squad analogy is apt here. people from the white house have gone in and spoken to mueller under the penalty of, obviously, not giving false statements and have said that this is not the way this went down. and that is an awfully strong denial from -- this is not a non-deni non-denial, denial from hope hicks' lawyer. so you have a differing statement than what was given to the "new york times" back in july. >> let me stay on mark corallo for a moment. characterize him for us because he wasn't working on the white house staff. he was not a government employee. he was privately employed by the outside privately hired lawyers who are running the criminal defense for the president in this investigation. this has nothing to do with white house counsel, nothing to do with white house personnel. >> right. and he was -- i mean, mark corallo is a former john
7:15 pm
ashkroft spokesperson at the department of justice. he is a political communications consultant. he runs his own communication shop in northern virginia. he's certainly well known in d.c. circles. and his departure from the legal team has only been a little nebulous, right? some people said he quit. some people said, no, he was fired. and nobody has come out and put a fine point on exactly why he left. and his departure was shortly before the president removed marc kasowitz from his legal team, his long-time lawyer, and decided to stick with a different legal team, john dowd, who is leading the discussions right now about what the president is going to -- you know, may or may not tell bob mueller. and i think it's very important
7:16 pm
that this -- the air force one statement that was given to us back in july is something that mueller has told the president that he -- the president's lawyers that he wants to talk about in the interview. and that is very much front and center in the debate over, the negotiations over whether the president is going to sit down and talk to mueller because there are some people who say the president doesn't need to talk about to bob mueller ant whether he was totally forthcoming with the "new york times" because lying to the "new york times" isn't a crime or being misleading to the "new york times" isn't a crime. so if you don't have an under y underlying crime to investigate, the president doesn't need to answer your question. so that's a fascinating question. but it goes to show this is front and center, very much of interest to bob mueller. >> that is obviously why mark corallo's input here changes what was going on on air force one from being a story lying to
7:17 pm
the "new york times" to something 34u67 more important that goes right to the center of the investigation. please stay with us if you can because there might be questions from our other guests. john hileman, barbara mcquad an msnbc legal contributor, and frank mon toy ya, jr. he's a retired fbi executive. john, i want to get in one more word buy graphically here about mark corallo. here's a former spokesperson for the attorney general. a republican attorney general. he knows his way around this arena. and he develops concerns of the people he's dealing with and what he hears in this conference call that hope hicks could be leading the president into
7:18 pm
obstruction of justice or herself into obstruction of justice and it sounds like this is the kind of thing that made him get out of there. >> mark corallo is a familiar figure if you covered washington scandals and politics for a long time. he made his name working for dan burrton's committee back when that committee was investigating bill clinton. he did work for john ashkroft in the justice department and then left and worked for valerie rose. so this is a guy who has a lot of time at the nexus -- not a lawyer but someone who knows a lot about the law for a nonlawyer and knows about the political implications and political jeopardy and the trouble you can get yourself into if you tell lies or try to cover things up. this is a sharp guy. it's clear now the "new york times's" very detailed report tonight. sources left right and center, some contemporaneous, some now.
7:19 pm
and then you have the michael wolff report. so you take those together the suggestion that mark corallo saw the issues here, saw the trouble the president was wading into, be immediately radar went off. knows the law, knows what mueller might want to look out. knows what it means the lies that tumble out of other lies. and also knows when hope hicks said this thing that he said she said, and told people contemporaneous that she said it, was either naive, which is possible. not a stupid person but thaugtd this is a small number of people on the e-mail chain it might not get out. not realizing that these e-mails have been dragged into the investigation, they were on their way to capitol hill. but in either case, he sees that jeopardy and there is a strong suggestion that as he looked back on this quickly thereafter, he's like, i'm out of here and left the white house.
7:20 pm
>> barb mcquad, as a former prosecutor, your reaction to this? >> i think robert mueller will be interested in the comment by hope hicks about no one seeing the e-mails. her intent is going to matter, we talked about obstruction of justice, a corrupt intent matters. so asking questions about the context and trying to understand her meaning will be very important. but i think that mark corallo did a smart thing, you're right he has a lot of experience in the justice department, very savvy, by immediately reporting what he observed and heard to three people, it won't be a battle of what did she say and he say, but these three other witnesses could testify later and it would be an exception of the hearsay rule if they're called to rebut an allegation of a fabrication. so their testimony could bolster the testimony of mark corallo on this obstruction of justice
7:21 pm
allegation. >> i believe mark corallo took notes of his own. i believe there's a paper trail, he said i have to write this down. so there's more evidence that could be out there. frank, what i'm seeing in this package is a dream for investigators. one is people finding themselves in scenes like this who know when you're stepping toward obstruction of justice, that would be the mark corallo character who himself has worked at the justice department. so he becomes available as a witness to the investigat invest also these completely inexperienced people like hope hicks who find themselves in these very important scenes, she finds herself in many scenes as being ill equipped to be in many of the rooms she's in.
7:22 pm
and she's the type of person who doesn't know what she should or shouldn't say in certain situations. and that's a different kind of person for investigators to deal with. how do investigators deal with someone like hope hicks? >> i think what matt said about circular firing squad is spot on. it's a target rich environment. we're looking at subjects from a vast range of experiences. you know, someone like her, they're going to treat her like anyone else. they're not going to cut any slack. we're talking about a major league investigation here with first-rate investigators who are shoulder to shoulder and engaged in ferret out the facts of the case. but the reality of the situation is she's going to have to face it like everyone else. i think that's part of the reason her lawyer came out so forcefully today. and that was to try to defend her because this is damming information and where does it
7:23 pm
lead from here? so they're going to be looking at all of these people directly, they're not going to cut any slack for any of them and it's going to be precise and by the book because they have to defend what they're doing in the face of these other baseless attacks against their credibility. >> matt, i want to go back to you on the reporting end of this because one of the things that the lawyers for everyone involved in this case would normally say to everyone involved in the case, for example, hope hicks' lawyers in a normal world would say to her, do not have any conversations with any of the other participants in this case. in other words don't have any more conversations with donald trump, for example. >> that would be the most protective way to approach how you handle yourself in this situation. that's something that mark corallo must have thought about
7:24 pm
for a bit and decided the only way i can protect myself is to quit and get away from these people and not have any employment need to speak to them. >> if that is indeed what happened. again, his exit from this is still very much a question as far as i'm concerned. look, let me just make -- let me make this one point which i think is really important. bob mueller is not going to give -- you know, he's not going to give a care what mark corallo thinks may have been obstruction. right. he is going to take his cue very much from the facts. and the facts as we know it, right, are that these -- there was no way that hope hicks was going to actually just keep these e-mails from becoming known to the special counsel because the white house knew at that moment they were all going to be turned over to congress and to bob mueller.
7:25 pm
so to throw cold water on what mark corallo is going to say is, great, he thought this was evidence of corruption but big deal. you don't indict based on mark corallo's theory of what obstruction is. you indict if there's also evidence of obstruction. so that would be the counter argument to this. i think that's important to keep in mind. >> i want to go to barbara mcquad on that. this scene when it's fully told by hope hicks as she will be compelled to tell the story under oath or to cooperate with fbi investigator or thes, which is still in effect under oath, we'll get her version of the dialog dialogue, mark corallo's version of the dialogue. we'll attempt to get the president's version of the dialogue in that room. and it may be there are elements in there that the special prosecutor can extract in effect
7:26 pm
and use as part of the overall intent of what the president has been doing day in and day out in his reaction to being investigated. >> i agree with you, lawrence, because i think what robert mueller is going to try to do is show was there a pattern of conduct to try to cover up and obstruct justice here. every one of these episodes, the request for loyalty from james comey and asking to let it go with michael flynn, may not be enough, but the jury instruction tells you to look at the totality of the circumstances, everything the person did and said. so this episode is telling to add to the totality of the circumstances. so maybe alone it doesn't add to obstruction of justice, but looking at the pattern of behavior, it's building up to something strong. >> joining the conversation is
7:27 pm
sam strong. i wanted to get another set of eyes on this story tonight. sam, this is a reminder that the special prosecutor knows more than we do and we are at the tip of the iceberg of information here. >> it's also a reminder that people in trump's corner have been anticipating that this process will have been over at points, it was thought to be by thanksgiving, then christmas, then the end of the year. and now it seems we're getting something new every five hours every night. so it illuminated, at least to me, there are two yun verses of trump peek, the people on the campaign and the people who joined the administration after it started. it and seems like the people who joined the administration after it started were somewhat caught in the dark about the extent to which there were, in fact, ties to russia. that this meeting did happen and it wasn't about adoption policy.
7:28 pm
and i think they also struck, it seems, reading between the lines here, by how personally trump's family, don junior and the president himself, reacted to reports of these meetings. so i'm fascinating to see how many people are leaking and talking, part of it is because they have lawyers and want to get ahead of the story. so it seems you have two campthey're at odds together in terms of the knowledge they have. so that's what's feeding this frenzy and it's interesting to watch. >> maut, tt, we're going to go break, but do we know when mark corallo is going to be interviewed by the special prosecutor? >> i don't have an exact date but to add one thing, hope hicks has spoken to bob mueller's team. she spoke with him over the course of two days, and there are contemporaneous text messages between her and other
7:29 pm
participants in this that bob mueller has. so her version of this, in which this conversation is not -- you know, she takes a very different view of this conversation, has already happened. this is not something she's going to be able to come back around and add to later. >> we have to take a break here. when we come back, major breaking news on the memo that the house intelligence committee intends to release. very important statement about it by congressman adam schiff revealed just moments ago. ve. and at our factory in boston, 1,200 workers are starting their day building on over a hundred years of heritage, craftsmanship and innovation. today we're bringing you america's number one shave at lower prices every day. putting money back in the pockets of millions of americans. as one of those workers, i'm proud to bring you gillette quality for less, because nobody can beat the men and women of gillette.
7:30 pm
gillette - the best a man can get.
7:31 pm
7:32 pm
you know what's not awesome? gig-speed internet. when only certain people can get it. let's fix that. let's give this guy gig- really? and these kids, and these guys, him, ah. oh hello. that lady, these houses! yes, yes and yes. and don't forget about them. uh huh, sure. still yes! xfinity delivers gig speed to more homes than anyone. now you can get it, too. welcome to the party. we have breaking news
7:33 pm
tonight on memo-eve. the night before the release of what is the most discredited secret memo ever to be debated before being released. this a tweet from adam schiff tonight the senior democrat on the house intelligence committee. discovered late tonight that chairman nunes made material changes to the memo he sent to white house, changes not approved by the committee. white house, therefore reviewing a document the committee has not approved for release. joining the rest of us in the discussion now, eric columbus, a former senior counsel to the deputy attorney general during the obama administration. i want to get your reaction to what adam schiff is saying tonight. we first of all have seen a standoff over this memo like nothing we've seen before. the fbi issuing a statement saying it is not true in
7:34 pm
material facts. and now you have adam schiff saying that devin nunes changed the memo when he sent it to the white house and it is not, therefore, word for word the memo that the committee approved to be released after being sent to the white house. >> well, he's essentially accusing chairman nunes of playing dirty pool. he had the committee vote on something in order to release a document that is otherwise classified. and then he sent to the white house apparently a somewhat different document. now it's interesting. we don't know in what ways the document has changed. it's possible that it's making claims that are less inflammatory or the opposite more inflammatory. but if congressman schiff is correct and it does seem what he is saying is what happened because he has details in the letter, then it's a bad look for chairman nunes. >> he does say that these are
7:35 pm
material changes. so that means they are significant, it means they are important. it doesn't mean that there's some small item here or there that doesn't matter. barbara mcquad, i want to get your reaction to that. >> as a matter of process it seems inappropriate to have the committee vote on one memo and submit a different one to the white house, especially if it has material differences. the whole release of the memo zi itself is what the justice department has referred to as extraordinarily reckless. the fbi said it has material omissions that make it misleading. and what's difficult about it is the fbi's hands will be tied from responding to it because they will abide by the classification rules and not be able to rebut what's out there. so the release in whatever form seems incredibly damaging. >> when you study the transcript
7:36 pm
of the meeting yesterday you see the democrats and republicans talking about releasing this. and one asks devin nunes, did he consult with the white house at all, did he get any help from the white house at all in putting this memo together and he does not give a clear answer to that. you see nunes under tremendous pressure from the democrats in the meeting yesterday and now you have the fbi with a statement discredited this memo devin nunes apparently feeling the heat of those criticisms and according to adam schiff going to the point of making material changes in the memo. >> we do not know what those changes are. schiff suggested they were made, they were made secretly. it's not clear how the minority, that is the democratic party, found out about the changes. but schiff says they were substantive, meaningful, he said he did not approve the memo.
7:37 pm
according to schiff. he said it's still on the material factual problems, the misleading of it. all the things that schiff and democrats object to are still in there but there have been other changes. so yes, the notion that this is a procedural foot fault, of course, this is a deviation from all standard practice but this process related to this moem mow has been a deviation from all standard process, all norms, all standards. the thing has been a parade of depra designations with this the cherry on top of the sunday. and the thing with the fbi today, christopher wray, donald trump's hand picked fbi director, someone who was chosen by trump, when the trump attacked the fbi, wray sent subtle signals to people in the fbi that he's with them. today you have christopher wray and rod rosenstein, who's on the
7:38 pm
thinnest ice of anyone possible as they're all trying to find ways to justice firing him to fire mueller. christopher wray goes to the white house and says you can't do this. it's bonus. they don't say it in those words. but they say this memo is a pack of lies. yet we are on track to have it released. the president of the united states yesterday walking out of the house chamber said 100% i'm doing to release this memo. 100%. earlier in the day, sarah huckabee-sanders had said, the president hadn't read the memo. yet he's going to release it, 100% sure, having not read it. >> that's before any white house lawyers could have read it. >> to point at the things of what is the most outraid jous -- >> frank, as a former member of the fbi, i want you to discuss
7:39 pm
this, the closed door meeting in the transcript we got today, the democrats were pressing devin nunes to allow the fbi, to allow director wray to come into the meeting and actually tell them his concerns about releasing this memo, to which chairman nunes said, we are not going to be briefed by people that are under investigation by this committee. that was a stunning development for the democrats in the committee, according to adam schiff, the top democrat in the committee, he then said in response to that, we have now learned that the rather momentous fact that i guess the fbi is under investigation by this committee and so is the department of justice. frank, your reaction to that moment? >> as an fbi guy, i will say it. they are throwing down the bs flag today with that statement. i think that it reflects exactly
7:40 pm
the point that you're making right there about this allegation or this stipulation that the fbi is now under investigation for essentially doing its job. first and foremost, this is about chasing shiny objects. and beyond the outrage, the frustration is the fact that it's an investigative technique they're poking their finger at. it's an investigation that's ongoing. it's a legitimate investigation that's ongoing. it's using information from a lot of sources. and for them to cherry pick -- i do believe they're cherry picking because they've looked at hundreds of thousands of documents pertaining to these investigations and come up with a 3 1/2 page summary. but the fact they're doing it it's to do one thing, it's to
7:41 pm
discredit what is going on in a legitimate investigation as we are seeing every day, and i agree with you guys, we're days, even months, behind where the special counsel is in terms of information developed. but what we see every single day is strong indicators that the special counsel is moving to some pretty, i think, decisive conclusions. >> sam stein, devin nunes does not want to hear from the fbi director because he says the director of the fbi is under investigation by devin nunes and his committee. >> it's a remarkable thing to say. although more remarkable that apparently the democrats were caught completely by surprise by this. but it gets to something that john was talking about, which is that this is a charade, this is a show. this is done to obscure and muddy an investigation into donald trump, and it is done on
7:42 pm
behalf of the trump administration. and the most remarkable thing to me, but i guess it shouldn't be remarkable because speem get second acts in this town, but devin nunes is someone who burned his credibility tremendously in what i thought would have been irrevocably already during this administration when he tried to engineer what is known as the unmasking scandal where he basically went to the white house, got information about the white house about requests for unmasking and presented it to the white house as if the white house had not been a part of it. after that it facilitated and forced his recusal from the investigation after that we assumed that devin nunes was done for, his credibility was shot and he wouldn't be a player in any of this political drama going guard. but he's managed to claw his way back into this and suddenly we're spending every night obsessing over what kind of act he's going to do next and what kind of irresponsible revelation he'll put forward. it's remarkable to see someone
7:43 pm
who burned his credibility so badly become a key player once more. >> we have the chairman of the committee saying that the director of the fbi is under investigation for the issue ans of a fisa warrant the year before he became the director of the fbi. >> that's sort of an overstatement that christopher wray would be responsible for that. but i suppose he could be speaking about the agency as a whole. i think that frank makes a good point that he's undermining the agency. this can have such a harmful effect going forward, not only as it relates to the mueller investigation and the goal there is to cast down on any charges nie filed in this investigation, but the ripple effect this is going to have by trump supporters. the fbi is out there every day interviewing witnesses about bank robbery and kidnapping,
7:44 pm
what are people to think when they're disparaging the credibility of the fbi acts. this is serious and long term damage to our top law enforcement agency. >> we have to squeeze in a break. when we come back you will all be heard on this issue of devin nunes and rod rosenstein and why the president asked rod rosenstein if he is on the president's team and what rod rosenstein said in response to that question. why create something this extravagant? or make a back seat that feels nothing like a back seat? why give it every feature you could want, along with a few you didn't know you needed? it's simple. you can build a car, or you can build a cadillac. come in now for this exceptional offer on the cadillac ct6. get this low-mileage lease on this 2018 cadillac ct6 from around $549 per month. visit your local cadillac dealer.
7:45 pm
and i recently had fhi, ia heart attack.month. it changed my life. but i'm a survivor. after my heart attack, my doctor prescribed brilinta. it's for people who have been hospitalized for a heart attack. brilinta is taken with a low-dose aspirin. no more than 100 milligrams as it affects how well brilinta works. brilinta helps keep platelets from sticking together and forming a clot. in a clinical study, brilinta worked better than plavix. brilinta reduced the chance of having another heart attack... ...or dying from one. don't stop taking brilinta without talking to your doctor, since stopping it too soon increases your risk of clots in your stent, heart attack, stroke, and even death. brilinta may cause bruising or bleeding more easily, or serious, sometimes fatal bleeding. don't take brilinta if you have bleeding, like stomach ulcers, a history of bleeding in the brain, or severe liver problems. slow heart rhythm has been reported. tell your doctor about bleeding new or unexpected shortness of breath any planned surgery, and all medicines you take. if you recently had a heart attack, ask your doctor if brilinta is right for you. my heart is worth brilinta. if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help.
7:46 pm
he gets the best deal on the perfect hotel by using. tripadvisor! that's because tripadvisor lets you start your trip on the right foot... by comparing prices from over 200 booking sites to find the right hotel for you at the lowest price. saving you up to 30%! you'll be bathing in savings! tripadvisor. check the latest reviews and lowest prices. ltry align probiotic.n your digestive system? for a non-stop, sweet treat goodness, hold on to your tiara kind of day. get 24/7 digestive support, with align. the #1 doctor recommended probiotic brand. also in kids chewables.
7:47 pm
sfx: tsfx: feet shufflingc life can change in an instant. be covered when it does... ...with a health plan through covered california. we offer free expert help choosing the best plan for you. and all of our plans include free preventive care. financial help is available, so check for yourself to see what savings you qualify for. open enrollment ends january 31st, so don't miss out. because you never know when life... ...will change. get covered today.
7:48 pm
for president trump it all comes down to rod rosenstein. today we learned that the president recently asked rod rosenstein, are you on my team? and that is, of course, just a slight variation on the question he asked acting fbi director andrew mccabe, who did you vote for? and each of those questions are a slight refinement on the loyalty pledge that the president tried to get from fbi director james comey before firing him. it was obvious to donald trump that james comey was not on his team and that andrew mccabe was not on his team and they are both gone. is rod rosenstein next? eric columbus, you've been considering rod rosenstein's position in this, you wrote a piece about it in "the washington post" yesterday. why is the president obsessed with rod rosenstein? >> rod rosenstein is robert mueller's boss. and any decision that robert
7:49 pm
mueller makes can be overturned by rosenstein in his capacity as the acting attorney general, given that jeff sessions is recused from everything. so anything that mueller does can be overturned by rosenstein. and if rosenstein were gone and someone more compliant were shifted into his position we could see a different path for the mueller investigation. >> barbara mcquad, how do you get someone more compliant? let's suppose rod rosenstein is forced out, goes the andrew mccabe route, can't take it anymore and quits, who then becomes the deputy attorney general, and, in effect, acting attorney general in this matter. >> i think next is line is the associate attorney general, rachel brand. i don't know her but what i know about her is she's a career professional. so i don't know that president trump would fair better with rachel brand in charge. i suppose he could get going --
7:50 pm
>> excuse me. by keep going do you mean keep firing people? >> reporter: yes, saturday night massacre style if he doesn't like the way rachel brand handles it, he someone whose handling of the case suits him. >> the reason we look at it that way is of course if he just fires rod rosenstein then waits until he gets another confirmed by the senate deputy attorney general, well, you know, who knows how much ground robert mueller could cover, then how long would it take to confirm someone to that position and what would that confirmation process be like? >> it would be messy, obviously. because obviously sensitive matter. you know, the appetite on the hill is bizarrely deferential to trump on these things. considering all the amazing warning signs that we've had about his dissatisfaction with the people who are overseeing the case. and of course his reported
7:51 pm
decision to try to fire bob mueller, then backing away when don mcgann told him not to do so. you talk to senators on the hill and they seem utterly convinced trump will never make a saturday night massacre-like move that he wouldn't dare to attempt to fire mueller because he knows it would backfire on his presidency. i don't understand why they feel so confident about that, given all the evidence. there are two pieces of legislation, there is about rosen stein, not mueller. there's two pieces of legislation to protect boone mueller. there's no evidence they're going to make their way through the judiciary committee but democrats are trying to think of aggressive ways to push them forward even if they don't get a hearing in committee, one of which is to tie them into this government funding fight set to happen in early february. >> can you explain the politics of this to me? can you explain to me why republicans in the house and in
7:52 pm
the senate are watching the president do this? and doing, as far as we can tell, everything they can to help him? >> they're not just watching it. this week again, when the history of this is written, one of the great revelations of this week is the total supineness of paul ryan. >> because everything that devin nunes is doing is paul ryan sanctioned. >> not just sanctioned. he came out openly yesterday and basically said, we should be investigating the fbi, effectively. he basically said, to the extent the house intelligence committee has now shifted its focus under devin nunes' leadership from investigating russian interference in the 2016 election to investigating the fbi and doj, that's just fine with me, paul ryan said yesterday, to the cameras. so he's on team nunes. and that means -- >> why? >> he's team trump. i have asked. i've known paul ryan for a long time. a guy who in 2012 stood up on a ticket with mitt romney and said that russia was america's greatest geopolitical foe. the left laughed at him in 2012
7:53 pm
but he said that. four years later doesn't seem to care about russia. 2016 when the obama administration went to cap hol hill and sat with ryan and mcconnell and said the russians are invading our elections, ryan and mcconnell said, we're not going to do anything about that. it started then. i don't understand what's happened to paul ryan. i've asked a lot of people who know him really well. many people who know him well and used to respect him are profoundly troubled by his behavior through the campaign, now through the administration. but whatever the source of it is, the implications of it are profound. because i had thought naively, and i've rarely considered myself naive about politics, i would have said six months ago that firing rod rosenstein, firing bob mueller, were red lines over which donald trump could not go. watching the behavior of paul ryan and the totality of the house republicans, and looking increasingly at the sort of softness, the jell-o-like shaking of some of the republicans who said this is a red line before on the senate side, i'm not convinced now that
7:54 pm
if donald trump moved on mueller on rosen sign or mueller directly, i'm not convinced it would be a red line for republicans on capitol hill, and that would really bring to a head what i think already we're in the middle of a rolling constitutional crisis. but bringing to the head of it would be that moment, if he did that and the republican leadership on capitol hill said, fine by us. >> a rolling constitutional crisis. frank montoya, talk about what this feels like inside the fbi. what does it do to the rank and file when they hear the chairman of the house committee says the fbi is under investigation, he will not accept any testimony from the director of the fbi because he is investigating him personally, that's who is barred from the meeting, the director of the fbi. devin nunes said he is under investigation. what does it do to the investigators, the fbi investigators who are working on the trump case, on the russia case? how do they maintain their objectivity? >> it's a great question. i mean, depends on the day,
7:55 pm
maybe even the hour, it vacillates between frustration and outrage. the good news is that these are really outstanding men and women who are focused on the mission, who are every single day coming to work did do the jobs that -- to uphold the oaths that they swore, to uphold the rule of law, to defend the constitution. i think the farther you get away from washington, d.c., it's a little bit easier for these folks. but it's also becoming something that's harder and harder to ignore. because it's not just what they're hearing on tv, it's also their neighbors coming up to them. people at church. the challenge is getting more difficult to avoid. and yeah, there is frustration, there is outrage in how you deal with it. but at the same time, you take solace in your professionalism and keep doing the job. >> quick break. stay with us. tonight's "last word" is next. the military family, and it really shows. we've got auto insurance, homeowners insurance.
7:56 pm
had an accident with a vehicle, i actually called usaa before we called the police. usaa was there hands-on very quick very prompt. i feel like we're being handled as people that actually have a genuine need. we're the webber family and we are usaa members for life. usaa, get your insurance quote today. you might be missing something.y healthy. your eyes. that's why there's ocuvite. ocuvite helps replenish nutrients your eyes can lose as you age. it has lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3. ocuvite. be good to your eyes.
7:57 pm
afi sure had a lot on my mind. my 30-year marriage... 3-month old business... plus...what if this happened again? i was given warfarin in the hospital, but wondered, was this the best treatment for me? so i made a point to talk to my doctor. he told me about eliquis. eliquis treats dvt and pe blood clots and reduces the risk of them happening again. not only does eliquis treat dvt and pe blood clots.
7:58 pm
eliquis also had significantly less major bleeding than the standard treatment. eliquis had both... ...and that turned around my thinking. don't stop eliquis unless your doctor tells you to. eliquis can cause serious and in rare cases fatal bleeding. don't take eliquis if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. if you had a spinal injection while on eliquis call your doctor right away if you have tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness. while taking eliquis, you may bruise more easily... and it may take longer than usual for bleeding to stop. seek immediate medical care for sudden signs of bleeding, like unusual bruising. eliquis may increase your bleeding risk if you take certain medicines. tell your doctor about all planned medical or dental procedures. eliquis treats dvt and pe blood clots. plus had less major bleeding. both made eliquis right for me. ask your doctor if switching to eliquis is right for you.
7:59 pm
tonight's "last word" is thank you to our guests tonight, breaking news from "the new york times," barbara mcquaid, frank montoya, sam stein, eric columbus, thanes to all of you, really appreciate it. that is tonight's "last word." please stay with our breaking news coverage of tonight's developments. i had to throw out everything that was scripted for this show as the news was breaking on us. i know that's exactly what brian williams has had to do too.
8:00 pm
and that's why we have another hour of coverage of all of this and more. "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. a breaking story from "the new york times" tonight. robert mueller now digging into the cover story about that trump tower meeting and the role white house aide hope hicks might have played. also washington counting down to the release of that controversial memo even after the fbi warns of grave concerns about its content. plus donald trump believes the memo will show the fbi and doj are conspiring against him. the reporter on the story here tonight with details. and reports the president asked rod rosenstein, the man overseeing the mueller investigati investigation, if he was on the trump team. "the 11th hour" begins now. good evening from our nbc news headquarters in new york. this was day 377 of the trump administration, and we have breaking news on the russia case
8:01 pm