tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC March 16, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
military career, include a key role in shaping -- >> michael flynn tonight, awaiting sentencing on his felony guilty plea but being ready to crowd surf there at that republican fund-raiser in california. apparently you can do that while you're waiting sentencing. this does it for us tonight we'll see you monday, now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." >> if you get a standing ovation for pleading guilty, what do you get for pleading not guilty? >> if paul manafort, despite the ankle bracelets, imagine they would have declared him a saint, i don't know. >> we got this extraordinary news tonight about the president trying to move the stormy daniels case into federal court. stormy daniels's lawyer is on an airplane at this moment we hope to hear from him as soon as he
lands, but i want to bring you something else. which is what general barry mcka friday said tonight he's going to be our first guest, sbipt at to get your reaction to what he said, he tweeted reluctantly i have concluded that president trump is a serious threat to u.s. national security. he is refusing to protect vital u.s. interests from active russian attacks, it is apparent he is for some unknown reason under the sway of mr. putin. >> wow. that's remarkable because of who is saying it. to have general mccaffrey, he's a four-star general, right? >> that's correct. >> there aren't that many four-star generals in american history, let alone in maamerica and to have him saying something so serious, being a national security threat, that's grave.
i'm glad you're having him on i would love to hear why he came to a conclusion that serious. >> we remember the press conference, you must never doubt the generals. and now joining us by phone is general barry mccaffrey, a retired four star general and an msnbc military analyst. thank you for joining us tonight. and i'm wondering why tonight what was it that brought you to the point of seeing this president as a threat to u.s. national security? i know you didn't choose those words lightly. >> no, not at all. i've been critical of the president far kra or a variety reasons, but the turning point in my mind was the reluctance to stand with the brits over what
has been a documented series of essentially russian intelligence murders in london. and the latest one being really a signature attempted assassination of the former russian intelligence officer and his daughter using a chemical agent that was clearly only available to former soviet operatives. >> general, i'm going to have to interrupt you with some breaking news from the justice department. attorney general jeff sessions has just fired andrew mccabe, who was briefly the acting director of the fbi. mccabe who stepped down from his post earlier this year but remained an fbi employee had been accused by the inspector general of authorizing the disclosure of sensitive information to a reporter and misleading investigators when
asked about it. he had been a lightning rod in the political battles around hillary clinton's use of a private e-mail server and robert mueller's probe into whether any trump associates coordinated with russian agents to interfere with the 2016 presidential race. we are now joined by phone by pete williams, nbc news justice department correspondent. what can you tell us about this? >> what the attorney general said in a statement that came out a few seconds ago is that he accepted the recommendation from the justice department's inspector general and the fbi's office of personal -- professional responsibility. both recommended that andrew mccabe be fired for two reasons according to jeff sessions' statement. first they say he authorized the unauthorized disclosure of the clinton investigation while the
investigation was going on and what the inspector general said is that violates fbi policy not to discuss investigations while they're going on. but secondly, and perhaps more importantly what the statement from the attorney general says is that when mccabe was asked about this on more than one occasion, including while he was under oath, his answers, they believe, were not truthful. and for that reason the attorney general says he concluded that it was right to accept the recommendation, so andy mccabe has been fired. now what this means for his pension, which, of course, is an important question. his actual retirement date, lawrence, was two days from now, sunday, his birthday. he actually stepped down as deputy fbi director in late january, presumably at the urging of the fbi director chris wray, who was aware of these recommendations, but mccabe had said his retirement date would
be this coming sunday. so this puts his pension in jeopardy, but it doesn't necessarily mean he'll lose it, according to government personnel experts that i talked to earlier today. he has some options. he can pursue -- that he can pursue that will perhaps preserve part of his pension. but the bottom line here is the attorney general has accepted the recommendation and emphasizes in his statement this is what the justice department's inspector general and the fbi recomme recommended. obviously attempting to say this was not politically motivated. >> let me get those distinctions clear. it's a recommendation not just from the inspector general but also a recommendation from the fbi? >> right. so here's the sequence. as you were saying, the inspector general right after the inauguration said he was launching an investigation as to how the fbi handled the entire
clinton e-mail investigation. as part of that he became aware that in october of 2016, "the wall street journal" was working on a story about the status of the clinton investigation and had picked up suggestions that the fbi was dragging its feet on part of that, which is an investigation of the clinton foundation. and what apparently happened here is that andrew mccabe authorized someone in the fbi to talk to "the wall street journal" reporter and basically say that's not the case, we believe there's still reasons to keep that going. that is what got the inspector general's attention. and then, when, according to the ig when he was questioned about it, he wasn't fully forthcoming, andrew mccabe, so they made a recommendation to the the fbi's office of professional responsibility and opr con
occurred. that would have been the end of it except mccabe appealed it to the justice department, which is his right and now the attorney general reviewed it and says he think it is recommendations are correct. >> the inspector general is not a trump appointee. this inspector general is a long-time justice department employee, isn't he? >> right. he served under the obama administration as well. >> the wall street journal article actually cites sources at certain points that are labeled as sources close to mccabe. so it was pretty obvious where the journal was getting that help. but the information that was coming from the mccabe sources actually read as not -- as somewhat anti-clinton information. it was information that pushed the investigation further in the direction of looking at what hillary clinton was doing.
>> well, that's right. i mean, two points about that, lawrence. one is, the article itself says that the fbi officials that talked to the journal reporter, who is def lvlin barrett, who'sw at the "the washington post." the fbi pushed back at that suggestion that they were dragging their feet, they thought there was something to the clinton foundation investigation. so mccabe has come under a lot of criticism, from the president, to republicans in congress who thought he was too favorable to hillary clinton in the e-mail investigation, but the statement that was given to "the wall street journal" is not favorable to clinton. >> why 10:00 p.m. on a friday night? what happened between say 4:00 this afternoon and 10:00 p.m. tonight, what prevented the attorney general from doing in
in normal business hours? >> only yesterday did andrew mccabe meet with the staff of the deputy attorney general. so the deputy attorney general had to take his time with this and then pass it along to the attorney general, who was out of town yesterday. he was meeting with the international association of chiefs of police in nashville and then had another meeting in lieuville and didn't get back until late today. so jeff sessions didn't have a chance to look at this, we were told yeearlier today this proce was moving slowly. i think jeff sessions was in, politically for himself, a no-win situation. andrew mccabe had been criticized repeatedly by name by the president. so no matter what happened -- and also, people were well aware of the sessions' own desire to please the president. so no matter what he did, if he
said mccabe should be fired, as he done, people will criticize him for that. if he said mccabe shouldn't be fired, that will upset people at the white house. >> pete, thank you for joining us with this breaking news, jeff sessions firing the former acting director of the fbi, andrew mccabe just two days before his retirement date was to become official. we're now joined by harry litman and ted price, ruth marcus, and david j. johnston. we have a panel who has seen everything. harry litman, i want to go to you first. you've worked in the justice department, what's your reading of this? >> my reading is it's a grave
injustice, lawrence. pete's reporting is accurate, and there is a serious mark on mccabe's record. the record overall, though, is 21 years of exemplary service and respect by everyone within the department. what really sticks about this one is the rush to get this done by friday, which was only motivated to , in a petty way, take his pension away from him. compare this with john you, opr recommended a certain discipline, it then went to the attorney general. ewe was given six months to state his case to the attorney general, who did, in fact, reduce the sentence. the fact that mccabe was rushed into this presentation yesterday and sessions turned it around
today i think is completely abnormal and was done only in order to be sure they could take away his pension before sunday. >> harry, let me stay with you on this distinction because the case you just mentioned was not a member of the fbi. is there, within the justice department, a higher standard for members of the fbi in situations like this, which in the reports indicates did not tell the truth when he was questioned? >> the short answer is no. mccabe was of a certain level that the attorney general himself needed to decide the issue, but the overall procedural path from the ig, the same ig, to opr, to the attorney general is the same. it just happens the opr in one instance is the fbi the other the justice department. no reason to do it except to
maliciously take away this guy's pension. something fbi agents really know about, think about and are going to be shaken up about. >> ned price? >> i agree with harry. it's more than the timing. it's more than the fact this comes 48 hours or so before his retirement would kick in. it's more than the fact that this takes place on a friday night at 10:00 p.m. eastern time. it's also more than this takes place separate and apart from the inspector general report. the ooinspector general report s been completed for a while now, it's been undergoing review. so why rush it? pull out the andy mccabe information, fire him well before, it seems, the ig report is going to be released. we have to remember the point you raised before. the information andy mccabe was accused of giving to the wall
street journal was very damming for the clinton campaign, it did not look good. there was previous officials of trump officials giving information to the news outlets that looks good for them. they have never taken fire from that. mike pompeo, it has been documented on at least one occasion, have reached out early on in the administration to news outlets to tamp down these rumors at the time that there may have been rampant connections between the trump campaign and the russians. we now know that to be true. mike pompeo was not disciplined. in fact, he was just nominated to be the secretary of state. so i suspect what andy mccabe had done was expult toir toward the trump campaign the outcome might be different. as it stands it looks like a purge.
>> andy mccabe has given comments to the "new york times." he said his firing was intended to affect the special prosecutor's investigation and particularly andrew mccabe's credibility in
that investigation. he said, the idea that i was dishonest is just wrong. this is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness. and, of course, he means as a witness in the mueller investigation. he went on to say, andrew mccabe did, it's incredible unfair to my reputation, after a 21 year career, the real damage is being done to the fbi, law enforcement, and the special counsel. >> i agree with both the lawyers. there's a long history of people in the fbi doing things they shouldn't do and getting reports that sort of take care of them. but donald trump has the history of going on the attack. if he's accused of anything, he
learned you go on the attack. so he needs to try to discredit and suppress the mueller investigation. and one of the things to help him do that is to try and make andrew mccabe appear less credible. that's what this is about exactly. and it sends a secondary signal from the white house, you do your job as a law enforcement agent and it's going to cause me trouble as president, we'll get you. >> there's another striking coincidence in this breaking news tonight. there's what would have been the massive breaking news of the night which is the president of the united states actively engaging in trying to move a lawsuit by stormy daniels out of a state court in california into a federal court, the court where the president appoints the judges. that story now is competing with this new breaking news story. the president has not tweeted about his legal move tonight that he is a part of to try to move the stormy daniels case
into federal court but he has just tweeted about andrew mccabe. i think we know which story he wants us to concentrate on. he tweeted andrew mccabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. this is a tweet he did previously about this because the president was eager to get this done before this retirement date. but it's so striking that with the stormy daniels story breaking in less than an hour after it broke that the president was trying to move that into federal court -- within the hour of that news breaking, jeff sessions executes this firing. >> yeah we've gotten pretty used to nasty business coming on friday afternoon or evening. and here you're right. we have a double dose of it. i think he is going to want to tout the mccabe point. which again serves only as a kind of petty gesture in favor
of opponents of mccabe just stripping him of his pension for no good reason. and he is going to want to dampen the fact that this motion requires him to acknowledge his role in the stormy daniels controversy. he is -- he has moved to take this case from state court to federal court. in brief, he has the right to do it. and the whole idea here, 100%, is to try to use the arbitration clause in the hush money contract to keep her from talking, and his prospects are going to be a little bit better in federal court because federal judges he not only appoints them but they're known to be more disposed to the arbitration clause that he wants to use as a sword here. >> ruth marcus is joining us here, "the washington post" columnist. the stormy daniels lawsuit we just got the filing on it before
we were going on the air tonight and then minutes later we get the firing by jeff sessions. the stormy daniels lawsuit that the president is now actively engaged in threatens stormy daniels with $20 million in damages. that's specified by the president and the president's new lawyer in the filing that they issued tonight and then jeff sessions comes along right after that with this firing. >> if i were stormy daniels' lawyer i would tell her to sit tight and don't worry about the numbers the president and her lawyers are coming up with, if she wants to talk, they're not going to stop her from talking. we don't have prior restraint from porn actresses talking about their relationship with the president. if he wants to sue her and she can go and depose him and have a lawsuit and have discovery, let them do that.
i don't understand the president's legal strategy, which seems to be bringing maximum attention to stormy daniels. which he insists she has no credible story to tell. he is just guaranteed that everybody is going to be tuning into another network to see her talk. so on that, i want to decent slightly a little bit on the andrew mccabe story, just for this reason. it's totally clear and really upsetting and very disturbing that the president has been gunning for andrew mccabe since the campaign. he's been gunning to get his pension taken away from him, this kind of friday night massacre is a little concerning. on the other hand, i do know the inspector general at the justice department, if it is true that he concluded that andrew mccabe's conduct was serious enough to warrant firing, you can't fire the guy after he retires, i just want to know a
little bit more about the underlying conduct before i go sort of whole hog with the rest of the crew. i am concerned by it. i don't like to see somebody who's worked for the government his entire life stripped of his pension. and there's this magnificent shakespeare quality to all of this, as he is fired and loses his pension as a result it will be because he leaked something harmful to hillary clinton. the guy who the president kept describing as a pro-clinton schill. so there's an ironic mag nif sent sen sense. >> the inspector general is not a political appointee. he's served both republican and
democratic administrations. this is not someone who had any apparent trump bias. >> i agree. micha michael horwitz has a reputation for thoroughness. mccabe disputes whether mccabe was candid but horwitz judged otherwise. my push back to ruth, i take her point, has to do with the timing of this, notwithstanding when his retirement was. it's 100% clear this was driven by the white house for the petty reason of stripping him of his pension. that's wrong. that's not the way it's supposed to work. >> i want to repeat what andrew mccabe said to the "new york times" tonight. the idea i was dishonest is just wrong. he said this is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness. and david k. johnston he means as a witness in the special prosecutor's investigation. he's a witness to, among other
things we know he's a witness to, the comey firing. in that we know that james comey spoke to him about what the president said to him. and so, when james comey is presented as a witness describing what the president said and did to him, andrew mccabe is part of that. >> yes. and comey did exactly what you should do in that situation. he immediately went and wrote a note memorializing the conversation and courts tend to get give a lot of credence to memorialized substantiaticonver. then he brought in mccabe partly to make a record with them, but also to make sure he correctly interpreted and thought about his options in dealing with this. so it's important to trump, in his effort to discredit mueller, to try and knock off witnesses wherever he legitimacy.
>> by the way, lauren by the if i can say, it's what he did with respect to the clinton investigation when he said it was extremely careless of her. it may be that horwitz will also impugn comey in his broader report. >> joining the discussion is ben wettes, he knows t some of the players involved in this, including james comey. your reaction to attorney general jeff sessions firing former acting director of the fbi, andrew mccabe two days before his official retirement date? >> i'm very saddened by it and i wish very much that the resolution of this had been otherwise for the sake of everybody involved. particularly for andy mccabe, who i still don't understand and have not seen a factual record
that would justify this. i understand that there is an inspector general report that is -- you know, suggested that he engaged in, you know, conduct that justifies this action. but the nature of precisely what he was supposed to have done and what the evidence of that is remains entirely opaque to the public. and as far as i can tell, andy mccabe is somebody who served with a lot of honor and dignity under exceptionally difficult circumstances. so until i see -- until i see a record that would justify this action taken two days before he was due to retire by -- you know, in the face of presidential tweets demanding his scalp, i will, you know, regard it as an action that may
be very difficult to justify. and that said, i will reserve judgment until i see what the inspector general has said and what i see -- whenever i see andy has responded to that so i understand what the parameters of the dispute really are. >> the only response we have from andrew mccabe at this point is a comment he made to the "new york times" tonight, he said the idea i was dishonest is just wrong, this is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness. ben, wittes he means as a witness in the mueller investigation. >> it is a witness at least on the question of corroborating jim comey's claims about his interactions with donald trump. so to the extent that the fbi has concluded or the inspector general has concluded that he
was not honest with their investigation, that would have a discredited affect in the context of a different investigation. whether it's justifiable or not, of course, depends on the evidence that the public doesn't have access to right now. >> andrew mccabe has apparently just released a statement tonight. it's a rather lengthy one. i will try to read some of it -- actually, i'm going to start reading it. ned price, as you start -- give us your reaction again to the possibility that this is actually the timing of this is related to the mueller investigation because andrew mccabe is obviously a witness in that investigation as ben wittes just said, a corroborating witness to james comey and if you can get him fired from his job for being untruthful that would have an affect on his credibility. >> that's right.
we know from what director comey has said, written, he shared his encounters. the encounters where president trump may have attempt today obstruct justice. he shared those encounters with a small group of people, all of whom have been sidelined or fired. in the case of andy mccabe, he, of course, was sidelined weeks ago, and now his firing, i suspect as andy mccabe himself is saying was to undermine his credibility as a fact witness, as ben was alluding to. the other thing we have tomorrow is we have not heard from the inspector general. we have heard from jeff sessions, the attorney general. someone who, of course, is not unbiassed. and we don't have to go that far back in history, in fact, only to this week to recall what happened to rex tillerson and the differing accounts we heard from the white house and what we heard from the state department. the white house put out a statement leading all of us to
believe that rex tillerson knew this was coming, that he knew his time was up, but the state department, it seems in a bit of candor that led to an individual's firing, said this took him completely by surprise. so i'm not sure we can give this full credence and credibility, knowing that jeff sessions has squandered a lot of his credibility and i want to hear from michael horwitz. >> we're not talking about andrew mccabe having paid somebody off not to tell a story. we're not talking about him having screwed up cases of the fbi's. we're talking about how he handled a journalist with a story they thought was wrong. so the punishment is totally out of proportion to the action even if he was not candid -- >> let's hear from andrew mccabe. this is his statement that was just released. >> for the last year and a half, my family and i have been a
target. articles too numerous to count have levelled every false defamatory allegations against us. the president's tweets have exacerbated it all. he called for my firing, to be stripped of my pension after 20 years of service. we never said nothing, not wanting to detract from the fbi, no more. it has to be understood in the context of the attacks on my credibility, the verks flows from my attention to explain the fbi's involvement and my sup vision of investigations involving hillary clinton. i was portrayed over and over as a political partisan accused of closing down investigations. the fbi was portrayed as kafing under the pressure. nothing was further from the
truth. this entire investigation stems from my efforts, under fbi rules, to set the record straight on behalf of the bureau. they have focussed on information i chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and legal affairs counselor. as deputy director i was one of a few people who had the authority to do that. it was not a secret. it took place over several days and others, including the director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter. it was the type of exchange with the media that the deputy director oversees several times per week. it was the same time of work i continue to do under director wray at his request. the investigation subsequently focussed on who i talked to, when i talked to them and so forth. during those inquiries i answered questions as truthfully
and accurately as i could. when i thought my answers were misunderstood i contacted investigators to correct them. but looking at that in isolation completely misses the big picture. the pig picture is a tail of what can happen when law enforcement is politicized, public servants are attacked. and people become instruments for damaging institutions and people. i want to get your reaction to that much of andrew mccabe's statement, harry litman. >> it's true and tragic. first on mccabe, the broader story as ben and ned say is one of exemplary public service, respected across from everybody and an unfair tarring. but this broader theme that he sounds at the end of his statement the politicalization of law enforcement is just nauseating and it's continued
and continued. what they're trying to do to him now -- trump had his press secretary go out and call mccabe, to america, a bad actor today. it's reminiscent of the defamation they visited on comey when he was fired, and they said falsely the whole fbi had turned against him. this kind of assault on independent law enforcement by the white house for the small ends of trying to affect the investigation against the president is really dangerous and toxic. >> i want to read one more passage of andrew mccabe's written statement tonight. he says, here is the reality, i am being singled out and treated this way because of the role i played, the actions i took and the events i witnessed in the aftermath 069 firing of jim comey, the release of this report was accelerated only after my testimony to the house intelligence committee revealed that i would corroborate former
director comey's accounts of his discussions with the president. the oig's focus on me and this report became a part of an unprecedented effort by the administration driven by the president himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and strip me of a pension i worked 21 years to earn. the accelerated release of the report and the punitive actions taken make sense only when viewed through this lens, thursday's comments from the white house are just the latest example of this. this attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally but to taint the fbi, law enforcement and intelligence professionals more generally. it is part of this administration's ongoing war with the fbi and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day. their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel's work. ben, your reaction to andrew
mccabe saying that the reality here is that he is -- he said, i'm being singled out and treated this way because of the role i played, the actions i took, and the events i witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of john kel of james comey. >> we don't know the underlying evidence that the inspector general reported about andrew mccabe is. we do know that the singling out of the deputy fbi director by the president of the united states on a repeated basis is a unique event in the history of the united states. we do know that firing a long-serving fbi official two days before he is due to retire anyway, is a highly unusual matter, and we do know that the political pressure on the
justice department to do that was extreme. so i can't say that, you know, andy mccabe's protests of innocence, of whatever it is the inspector general has found about him are accurate. i can say that the situation stinks. and as i said before, i will evaluate the event that supposedly justifies this action at the point in which it becomes public. and until then, look, a lot of what andy mccabe is saying in that statement is just plainly true. >> ruth marcus, as ben just said we don't have the inspector general's report but we have andrew mccabe's written response to it at this first stage of this knew and i'm going to zero in on the sentences in which
andrew mccabe is directly dealing with what must be in that inspector general's report. he says, during these inquiries i answered questions truthfully and as accurately as i could amidst the kay yosz that surrounded me, and when i thought my answers were misunderstood, i contacted investigators to correct them. when we get to read the report, i suggest there will be several pages that describe what andrew mccabe is describing there and we'll have to hold one against the other. >> two things can be true, and ben put this well when he was describing it. it is absolutely clear, name another deputy director of the fbi who became a household name. he became a household name because he was attacked by first presidential candidate donald trump and then president donald trump. and he is -- he was attacked and
i would submit probably fired, for largely political reasons. and i would throw in there the absolutely shameful singling out that sarah huckabee-sanders did of him from the podium yesterday. but the episode he eludes to, it's part of the behind the scenes dance, it's a necessary part of washington that goes on where on background officials guide reporters to help reporters get their stories more accurate to make sure things are not written that are unfair to subjects or targets of an investigation. this is a dance that has to go on, that needs to go on behind the scenes. but something happened there that -- at least it sounds like the inspector general found wasn't exactly right. and then something then seemed to have happened with mccabe's testimony that the inspector general i suspect had a problem
with. so the fury that mccabe has about the politicization about the fbi and his being fired i totally get. i don't want to say that it's clear that his conduct has been completely above reproach because it feels like it's a much more complicated story than that. >> david k. johnston, it seems like andrew mccabe has a lot more than we're going to hear about this. i think we're lucky we have experts with justice department experience here as well as reporters, because this is a journalism story, too. mccabe is in trouble because of communication with "the wall street journal" mccabe describes that in his written statement as his job. he says, this is one of the things that the deputy fbi director is charged with doing, clarifying for the press, when possible, what the fbi is doing or what it's not doing. so he says here that he
has done this -- he said, it was the type
of exchange with the media that the deputy director oversees several times a week, in fact, it was the same type of work i continued to do under director wray
at his request. so she's saying the trump-appointed fbi director had him doing the same thing. >> you get to see the knife with that one. >> yes. >> this is exactly how this stuff works. and, of course, the fbi and other agencies are concerned. they don't want a reporter who has a story to mess up their investigation, witnesses can be affected by these things, and no, we don't know exactly what mccabe did. but i think there's a very pregnant line there about how when he evidently felt that the people who questioned him didn't get his answers the way he intended, he set out to correct them. now unless there's something showing that he was mendacious, and obviously so, it would seem
to suggest that he may have been to some degree set up. and he clearly indicates he believes he was trying to make the record as accurate as possible. >> and describes in his first round of trying to remember truthful answers about this, he said he was doing the best he could amidst the chaos that sur roupd surrounded me. we're joined by phone by jill wi wine-banks. jill, i wish we could be on camera because we could see your st. patrick's green which i saw earlier tonight that you were wearing. but i want to get your reaction with this story. at first we began simply with the fact that jeff sessions at 10:00 p.m. tonight on a friday night, fired andrew mccabe, the former acting director of the fbi with only two days before
his official retirement. we now have a full written statement by andrew mccabe that i've been reading here. your reaction to what we know about this so far. >> we take st. patrick's day very seriously in chicago, let me say. >> i know you do. >> on a serious note, at 10:00 p.m. on a friday night before his sunday retirement becomes effective does throw some doubt into the credibility and reasons for the action. i do agree, of course, with ben that we need to have all the evidence before we pass judgment on what the recommendation was. we need to see the ig report. i also think his statement, the mccabe statement, is a very persuasive and compelling one that i'd like to know more about the background of. and i wonder whether the president realizes that all of these people that he fires now have no reason not to cooperate fully with mueller and to speak
out and whether people are realizing how much distraction is happening in the cast at the white house from the mueller investigation from the stormy daniels investigation, and from the overall affect of trying to taint the fbi and mueller and the department of justice. and whether mccabe has been denied due process. i cannot believe he's already had a hearing that would be entitled to any senior service person, such as himself, before he gets fired. he hasn't had a chance to defend himself and tell his side of the story. so i don't think we should jump to conclusion that is he's innocent or that he's guilty. we need to see the full evidence and in the context of this president and how they have attacked not just mccabe but the entire fbi and the department of justice and mueller, it makes me suspicious. it makes me wonder about the truth of it. >> harry litman, i want to go to
one of the points that mccabe raises. he believes this is a design to damage his credibility as a witness in the mueller investigation. what's your reaction to that? >> well, it's true. and that's probably what -- i mean, trump has that in mind as a practical goal. it seems to me he just has the more petty goal in mind of just taking away the pension of someone who has crossed him -- >> can i ask you to focus, as a legal practitioner, on the actual practical effect -- >> yes. >> -- of this, on the perceived credibility of andrew mccabe of a witness going forward, if you were in the special prosecutor's office, and you had the mccabe file, you were in charge of him going forward, how would you feel? >> i would feel only a little worse. there are all kinds of people
with impeachment material. but yes, he will testify if it comes to a proceeding that comey told him exactly what he said he said and the defense attorney will say, isn't it true, mr. mccabe, that you were found to have committed misconduct? isn't it true that you were fired, et cetera, et cetera? and that impeachment will have whatever value it has in front of a jury. it's true, as ben and ruth says, that part of what's going on, we obviously don't know exactly what he did and it's odd that horwitz found these things. i think it's secondary next to two points. whatever he did, the timing of his being railroaded out is indefensible and political. and most important of all, the political themes of demonization of law enforcement that he founds at the end of his statement, those should be the headlines for us as a country.
>> i have already brought up the timing coincidence that as we went into this hour of television, i believed that our hotter breaking news tonight was going to be the president's attempt to move stormy daniels' lawsuit into federal court. i want to switch to that because it's hard to believe the president was not paying attention to what was happening in this news cycle and how this announcement could change that. the president of the united states is actually asking a federal court in california to take jurisdiction of stormy daniels' lawsuit against donald trump. the president of the united states is asking the federal court to take the lawsuit away from a california state court, and tonight's legal filing in federal court in california by a california lawyer representing the president of the united states claims that stormy daniels' lawsuit against donald trump should be moved from state court to federal court because
stormy daniels is a resident of texas, donald trump is a resident of washington d.c. and new york city and because of the multistate locations of the parties, the case should not be heard in a california state court since none of the parties live in california. the legal filing says that president trump and his lawyers are, quote, aware of at least 20 violations by clifford of the confidentiality provisions of the agreement. clifford agreed in these agreements to liquidated damages in the amount of $1 million for each breach of the confidentiality provisions which is approximated to already be in excess of $20 million. we are joined by phone now by stormy daniels' attorney, michael avenatti. i know you learned about this when you were on a plane tonight, what is your reaction to the president trying to move this case into federal court?
>> well, thanks for having me. i'm not at all surprised. we anticipated that the president and mr. cohen might attempt to do this. it's a prelude, it's an interim step, if you will, to where they want to go, which is arbitration. they want this matter decided by a private arbitrator in a conference room in a private office building as opposed to a public courthouse that's open to the people, where people can actually judge for themselves the facts and the evidence. this is just more of the same. i mean, it is consistent with the way they've treated my client for some time now. they have attempted to bully her and intimidate her, and ultimately they do not want this matter public. it's just that simple. this is more of the same. their attempts to gag and muzzle my client and we're not going to stand for it. >> it's a really striking legal filing to see because there you see the name of the president of
the united states on the title page of this pleading in federal court and the name of the president of the united states typed in there by his lawyer ans beside it typed in there by his lawyer. the president of the united states has a lawyer who refers to him as donald j. trump, also known as david dennison. that is how the president's lawyer represents donald trump in this case. a client with an alias trying to -- to keep everything that stormy daniels knows about him secret. >> well, i think what is truly remarkable about this, if we just take a step back and really think about this for a moment. i actually think this is a remarkable moment in our nation's history. i don't think that there has ever been an sentence, and i know that there is a big
statement and i stand behind it. i don't think there's ever been an incident in the history of the united states where you have a president who undertook a personal vendetta against a private u.s. citizen -- >> okay -- >> -- who merely was looking for an opportunity to tell her version of events and seeking $20 million worth of damages. i don't think that's ever happened before in the history of the united states. it's frightening quite honestly. >> your client has already spoken to "60 minutes." they've announced they intend to broadcast that on march 25th. that by the president's definition will constitute what he considers another breach or another several breaches of this agreement. so according to the president's reading of the situation, do you expect at the end of the broadcast of the "60 minutes"
interview for stormy daniels and the president's view to be liable for another $20 million? >> no we don't. the president all thinks he's won the popular vote so i don't know what to say. this $20 million demand or claim of damages is laughable. and, next i guess we're here 50, or 100, or $200 million. it's an absolute joke. we don't believe the agreement will be upheld. even if it is that damage cause will never 'upheld buzz it's what's called legally conscious. which means even if the parties agreed to it, read it and understood it in the pass -- no court wants to force a million dollars lick liquidated
especially sense it was $100,000. it's designed to intimidate my client and i and clearly they haven't been paying attention over the last who weeks. we're not going to pack up and go home, we're not going to dismiss the case, she's not going to prevent the "60-minute" piece from hairing. we're going to let the chips fall where they lay. we're going to let the americans hear what happened here. it's that simple. >> mr. avenatti one more point before you go, and you foe you got a lot of attention on this show. you said that stormy daniels has been threatened in that she has been physically threatened. has she been threatened by anyone representing or connected to the president? >> again, i'm not at liberty to discuss that. i'm confident that when people tune in to "60 minutes" on the
25th of march they're learn that and judge for themselves as to whether she's telling the truth and whether she's credible. at some point mr. cohen and the president will have to account for their actions attempting to silence my client and i'm counting the days. >> did michael cohen threaten stormy daniels? >> i'll stand by my same answer. >> and when were the most recent threats? >> i'm not at liberty to discuss the threats again when people tune in to the interview they're learn about it. >> thank you for calling in i really appreciate it. >> no problem. have a good weekend. >> our legal panel is still here. i want to go to ruth marcus first, because this before we even get to the legalisms of it, i just want us to pause over the fact that we live in a country
where the president of the united states has a lawyer type his name in a legal pleading and then type his alias in right beside it and file that legal pleading in a federal court, in a courthouse where the president appoints the judges. >> well, yes. you know, it has been quite a day of stormy daniels news as you pointed out, trying to get a little more information on what this threat and physical threat was and who it came from. and just thinking about where we are and where we've been and my reporting career spans the clarns thomas, and hill hearings where we thought we heard things we could never get into our newspapers back in those days
when certain words weren't allowed. then we went to impeachment of bill clinton and blue dresses and all sorts of tings that didn't seem fit for a family audience. and now here we are with a president and a porn star and it's a dreary trajectory of modern politics and the craziness of this moment and just the sorted nature of what we're all being dragged into writing about when there are actually serious problems facing the country, there are serious policy issues to be decided. and we're talking about porn stars and threats and presidential aliases. so, just throwing up my hands here. >> understandable. david, no one on this panel knows more about donald trump as a litigant than you do. you've watched him both be a
phony bluffer as he was when he threatened to see me and i begged him because i few he was bluffing. you've seen him sue people, you've soon him cave, you've seen him settle, $25 million on trump urinatety. what do you make of this filing and is this the first one and you have seen where he includes an alias beside his name? >> this is the first one i've seen as an alias. in making this filing they acknowledge that this relationship went on and it was a hush money payment. but this again is donald's bullying and going on the attack. i've done as you have, i've talked about donald and the drug trafficker. and i said donald if you think what i said isn't true, sue me over it. one of the interesting things about this case is the removal to federal court. the 1925 arbitration act was passed to allow corporations in different state to settle disputes. never intended to disputes between individuals, individuals and companies. if it were put up today in
congress, it would never pass if it was going to ply to you and me if we were in the dispute. and the lawyers on the panel are quite right. the federal courts have a different inclination about this than the state court. this is not a dispute that should be allowed under the arbitration act. we're not talking about two corporations. we have one created to helping i thought hide the money. >> jill banks your reaction to what stormy daniels and avenatti had to say? >> first of all, he's doing a wonderful job in representing her and making her look better than the president. david is quite correct, we have absolute proof that dd is president trump, which i country is an unforced error opponent of his lawyers who didn't think two steps ahead one they filed this
suit. i think david was quite correct about the kt talbot of this. for 1 -- that is not unconscionable just under the norm frames of contract law. you can't enforce a contract that is so enequitable. we have a principle just in general that that isn't enforceable. at your earlier question about whether the credibility of who cave is so severely hurt, it's no -- now will be the witnesses against the president and all of them are now free to tell the truth about the president. so, again it's bad leaking on the part of the president's lawyer to have gotten in the situation where they're allowing this to happen. i'm astounded at the bad lawyering at this point. but they have been bad in
distracting us from this ridiculous bragging about lying to the prime minister of carbon dioxide canada /* -- canada. the american people can hardly keep track of day-to-day of the reporting. just thank you on that price. harry litman. m marcus, david, thank you all for joining us. the 11th hour with pbrian williams starts now. the breaking news on this friday night, the attorney general has fired trump nemesis andrew mccabe, the former fbi director. also breaking, in a new court filing trump's lawyer is going after $20 million from the porn star stormy daniels. that news coming hours after her attorn