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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  November 21, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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and that does it for me this hour. i'll see you right back here tonight, 10:00 p.m. eastern for "the last word." thank you for watching. deadline white house with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in washington, d.c. we come on the air with breaking news. another norm busted. the president of the united states in a war of words with the chief justice of the united states supreme court. chew on that. they share a political party but not much else. it started with robert's rebuke about a federal judge who blocked his asylum ban. >> when people file every case gets filed in the 9th circuit because they know that's not law. that's not what this country stands for. this was an obama judge. and i'll tell you what. it's not going to happen like this anymore.
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>> chief justice roberts writing in a statement, we do not have obama judges or trump judges. bush judges or clinton judges. what we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. that independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for. and noting just how rare the rebuke was, the ap reports, it's the first time the republican-appointed leader of the federal judiciary has offered even a hint of criticism of trump who has previously blasted federal judges who ruled against him. the president responding on twitter, part one. eagerly awaiting part two from those three dots at the bottom. sorry, chief justice john roberts but you, do indeed have obama judges and they have a much different point view of than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. it would be great if the 9th circuit was an independent judiciary. but if it is, why --
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the president of the united states still thinking about that. two former u.s. attorneys, joyce vance and chuck rosenberg, both msnbc contributors. "the new york times" reporter mike schmidt whose byline got a big new development in the mueller probe we'll be getting to soon. and aaron blake for "the washington post." not on the mueller probe, on the president's conduct vis-a-vis the justice department. let me start with you joyce and chuck. the chief justice of the supreme court issuing what was a rare criticism of the president of the united states on his unprecedented attacks on the federal judiciary and the president responding on twitter moments ago. joyce? >> is that for me first? >> yes. >> so this is an extraordinary moment to have the chief justice who has shown impeccable restraint in the face of criticism of the judiciary, who has refused to enter the fray. who finally feels the need to make sure that the american
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people understand what all of us as lawyers know, which is that the judiciary is independent. it's strong. federal judges don't think of themselves in terms of the president who appointed them. but they buildielieve they ther to uphold the rule layoff and leave their politics at the door when they enter the courthouse every morning. it just so happens that i know the judge who issued this ruling, judge tiger, in san francisco. he is an obama appointee to the federal judge. before that a trial judge in california. he's an extraordinarily thought of judge. clerked in the 11th circuit for my father-in-law but he's straight up the middle on this. i'm glad to see the chief justice go to bat to show that we can rely on our judges to be a check and balance, even in this day and age. >> i know a little bit from your appearances on our network and our conversations off tv how difficult it is for people steeped in the justice department, people steeped in the federal judiciary to speak
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out at all on any question of politics. the bar is higher than it is for people like me and people who have spent their careers in politics. talk about what must have been going on inside chief justice roberts' mind to take this step of rebuking the president. >> it is extraordinary, nicolle. but i'm glad he did it. nobody wants to enter the political fray if you don't want to, and the last group of people who don't want to enter the political fray are federal judges. chief justice roberts is in a slightly different position. he's the chief justice of the supreme court. his words matter a lot. he speaks for the federal judiciary. by the way, i couldn't agree with joyce more, but i have a point to add. and i suspect she might agree with it as well. this is pet peeve territory for me because you read all the time in very good newspapers that this judge or that judge ruled on a particular issue in a particular case, comma and, by the way, they were appointed by
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president bush or clinton or what have you. i've spent years in federal court in front of dozens of judges on hundreds of arguments. scores of trials. and i never, ever thought of them as an obama appointee or clinton appointee. that's not what they are. there's a reason they have lifetime tenure. they are independent. i think chief justice roberts is spot on. i'm glad he did this. >> joyce vance, it's not the first fight or debate that the president has had with a high-profile judge. during the campaign, judge curiel who he attack eed viciouy and made even his own supporters uncomfortable. he never sees anyone in any job as separate from his own kwee equities. can you talk about what it must be like to be a federal judge under this president? >> my suspicion is the federal judges do about the same thing that bob mueller and his prosecutors do. they hear, they listen, they're
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human, and then they set it aside and go back about their work. one thing that you do if you are a member of the judiciary or a federal prosecutor is that you learn to keep yourself insulated from political goings on in the country. they don't have a role to play in your work. they are not anything more than a passing curiosity. i think it's hard for people to believe this sometimes but my own personal experience leads me to believe that there are judges all over the country who are saying, okay, you know, this, too, will pass. now we've got cases to decide and parties to send on their way with the decisions that we make so that they can get on with their lives. >> chuck rosenberg, this, too, shall pass is what we all say around our table every day. but do you see this as an escalation? we say this, too, shall pass about the president's attacks on the intelligence community. and this week he disregarded the assessment about the crown prince of saudi arabia's role in the killing of an american u.s. permanent resident.
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we say this, too, shall pass and the attacks on the justice department just keep going. is this too shall pass the right posture or was what roberts was responding to was a sense of alarm? >> i think we will now see a de-escalation, at least with respect to this dispute between these two men. justice -- chief justice roberts said his piece. i'm glad he did. federal judges around the country, regardless of who appointed them will shake their heads, sigh and go back to work. and so i don't expect that this debate will be joined any further by the chief justice. he said that he had to say. i'm glad he did it. and this, too, shall pass, nicolle. >> it will pass -- i agree with the idea that, i think chuck and joyce are speaking with the mind-set and perspective of people like chief justice roberts but it won't pass for donald trump. when we came on the air, there
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were three dots. we're awaiting part two of his tweet storm. so how there is an asymmetry with trump because he resides in the gutter. chief justice roeshberts doesn' reside in the gutter. you did incredible reporting yesterday about all the hypocrisy of the president's attacks on hillary clinton and on others. and this isn't that, but this is another norm-busting day. >> and it's a continuation of a whole lot of different things. we mentioned the example of judge curiel during the 2016 campaign. also the instance early in his presidency when he made comments similar to the obama judge comments and justice who was then the nominee gorsuch also rebuked him in a similar way to how justice roberts is right now. this also connects to the story we'll talk about later that michael wrote for "the new york times" where the president is basically overstepping and trying to use the justice department as his own political arm. he is trying to break down kind of these traditional barriers.
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and the fact that he is now feuding with his own chief justice, a guy who could rule in his favor on significant pieces of judiciary business in the coming weeks and months is rather remarkable. and i think speaks to the continued erosion of our institutions. >> it's hard to not see this as donald trump having an influence and an impact on yet again another institution, as you just said, the supreme court this time. >> it's also this larger theme where donald trump came to washington and all of the nuances and things that people in washington take so seriously, keeping the fbi at arm's distance. not talking about the judiciary, not talking about the stock market. he continues to just run into the face of that. he never was going to change, and he hasn't changed. and he has not changed even though he's been under investigation. even though some of this behavior has brought him under investigation for obstructing justice. and this just goes right into
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that story. >> it is a direct line. as you mentioned, you are here to talk about a story about the president wanting to use doj and the fbi essentially the way other presidents of both parties have used the rnc and dnc to prosecute basically public relations cases against these political opponents and enemies. but it does seem that the bar is so high for some of these people to engage. do you think at the end of the day more harm is done to donald trump or to the supreme court? >> politically speaking, i don't see any really harm in -- for donald trump in this. i think that, you know, while it's a well-taken point this is an ideal of the judicial system that these judges not be judged according to who they were appointed by, this is something that all of us are aware of. and so when we see some of president trump's executive orders being struck down by a judge out in san francisco, we all kind of immediately look at that and say, well, this was
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probably, you know, a more liberal judge or obama appointee. this is not something that is outside of the political discussion but once it is very delicate and once you take it beyond just mentioning who these judges were appointed by and you say these are basically doing the bidding of barack obama, you are stepping over a line and taking a delicate situation that the american people generally don't understand and can be very easily influenced on. and that can have a significant impact. >> do we have -- the president has finished his thought. let's see if we have that. sorry chief justice john roberts, but you do have obama judges. and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. it would be great if the ninth circuit was an independent judiciary but if it is, why, dot, dot, dot, are so many opposing view on border and safety cases filed there. and why are a vast number of those cases overturned. please study the numbers.
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they are shocking. we need protection and security. these rulings are making our country unsafe. very dangerous and unwise. so i guess the caravan ran out of its political usefulness to him. he's now beating up on the 9th circuit, chuck. that does seem like a trumpian tactic and a very, very political argument from the president. >> it say political argument from the president. we shouldn't be surprised by that. but if i may humbly offer a brief history lesson, in u.s. v. nixon, the supreme court case in which the supreme court ruled unanimously, one justice recused, against the president, four of those judges were appointed by president nixon. in clinton v. jones in which the supreme court ruled unanimously, 9-0, against president clinton, two of those judges were appointed by president clinton. this is what we mean when we talk about the independence of our article 3 judges. and so the president is a political actor and the head of
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the executive branch. but the judges are not political actors. regardless of what the president calls them. they are simply not that. >> mike, you are reporting on the flash points and the obstruction of justice investigation reveal, at best, grave ignorance about what chuck is, i think, describing. the independence of the judiciary. grave ignorance or malfeasance about the fbi and doj. how goes the education of donald trump from his lawyers, from his white house counsel's office from figures at doj who interact with them? >> there's a thing we're missing here which is the president could find himself in a fight with the supreme court. so if mueller wants to subpoena him and wants him to answer questions, then all of a sudden, trump will see himself in adversarial position with the supreme court and john roberts is going to be in charge of making that decision. if there's a subpoena fight it will probably end up in the supreme court. this is an interesting foreshadow here where, you know,
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the president didn't go out to pick a fight but he's pushing back and maybe in six months, the fate of a subpoena is sitting in front of the chief judge. i can't imagine this fight would impact that but it adds to the drama of what could come. >> it does show us how donald trump will approach any fight with the supreme court or any decision-making process that ends up there about a subpoena for him. >> right. any fight that he loses in court will be the fault of his political enemies. just like he wanted doj to prosecute his political enemies, he'll go after judges. and when he does this, i don't think that we can say this enough, nicolle. he continues to erode these foundational elements of our constitutional republic that are critical to our system of functioning the way it's supposed to. trump doesn't believe in checks and balances. he doesn't believe in an independent judiciary. he doesn't believe in an independent justice department. instead he wants to bring them in as political arms of his
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administration. and that's as dangerous for people in the future who don't know who the president might be down the road but might need an independent judiciary to support them and ensure they are treated fairly as it is for us today as we approach trump trying to erode all of these norms that are so critically important. >> the politics of this seem like a giant loser for republicans. and i haven't seen -- i -- we've been on the air about 15 minutes. i report is seen if any republicans have come to john roberts' defense. for a while, pre-trump, he was one of the -- his appointment as chief justice was one of the republican party's greatest accomplishment. now trump the republican president attacking him. do you think there's any suspense in trying to figure out what side the republicans have come down on or is this trump's party even if the chief justice is the target? >> as with most issues with trump and the republican party, it's not a matter of whether they come up out and line up behind him or against him.
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it's a matter of whether they say anything. to the extent a say something that will be critical of this, these are people who believe in the institution of the senate, the institutions of the american government, including the judiciary. so if they say something it is going to be critical of what the president is doing right now. but what we're seeing more and more is that they are just not saying anything. they don't see the fight as being worth it. they see the president hitting back against critics, and they recognize that whatever they say it's just going to blow back on them with the base. >> this seems to be one of the things that even the president's appointees in the justice department have been surprised by. when devin nunes goes after them and wants to classify fisa applications and bust norms in terms of how the justice department runs investigations, there's been some surprise that no republicans came out in their defense and, in fact, with democrats taking over the house, there are some looking forward to having a backstop there. do you pick up any sense of surprise from folks in law
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enforcement that there are no voices in the republican party that go against trump on these? >> if this behavior continues, at what point will they say something? what will be the breaking point? trump constantly -- >> you'd think we've seen it by now. >> he goes up to this line. several republicans criticize him but it doesn't go any further. what would trump have to do to push snthem? what would change that? if he fired mueller? if he tried to make the acting attorney general the attorney general permanently? i don't know. that's what we have to watch going forward. if trump goes any further, he walks up to this line, you know, a little bit gray enough for the republicans. and, you know, just gets criticized and continues on. >> all right. after the break, a new report raises more questions about trump's acting attorney general and concerns that trump is trying to abuse his power with the justice department. and bob mueller finally got what he wanted. or did he as donald trump hands
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him some responses to written questions from the mueller rftigation. the question turns to will mueller be satisfied or is the opinion fight ne subpoena fight next? and the saudi arabia first policy. we'll bring you new reporting on the fallout. [ horn honks ] only one movie is winning audience awards across the country. and now it's hitting a high note on rotten tomatoes. thank you for your warm hospitality. viggo and mahershala are so good, you end up wishing the movie would never end. it's amazing you said that. [ laughing ] tailored recommendations, tax-efficient investing strategies, and a dedicated advisor to help you grow and protect your wealth. fidelity wealth management.
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but he has plans today.ain. and protect your wealth. hey dad. so he took aleve. if he'd taken tylenol, he'd be stopping for more pills right now. only aleve has the strength to stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill. aleve. all day strong. [ready forngs ] christmas? no, it's way too early to be annoyed by christmas. you just need some holiday spirit! that's it! this feud just went mobile. with xfinity xfi you get the best wifi experience at home.
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and with xfinity mobile, you get the best wireless coverage for your phone.'re about to find out! you don't even know where i live... hello! see the grinch in theaters by saying "get grinch tickets" into your xfinity x1 voice remote. a guy just dropped this off. he-he-he-he. donald trump's appointment of matt whitaker as acting attorney general seemed to have everything to do with whitaker's disdain for the mueller investigation. but it turns out, whitaker is more than just an ideological soulmate with the president on
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the wrong-headedness of the special counsel probe. he also sounds like an enthusiast of donald trump's designs on investigating and prosecuting the president's political enemies. they new report reveals that trump has, for months, badgered officials to prosecute hillary clinton and jim comey. and that he discussed the prospect of a clinton prosecution with whitaker before naming him acting ag. the times reporting, mr. trump repeatedly pressed justice department officials about ste the status of clinton-related investigations. including mr. whitaker when he was chief of staff to ag jeff sessions. mr. whitaker laid out a blueprint for how a new attorney general could reopen the e-mail case against hillary clinton in an interview on fox business in 2016. >> unless you have a trump administration that appoints a new attorney general and reopens this case because there is a statute of limitation that is ticking but it's not passed. and i could imagine in this world that we live in that a trump administration could open this case and relook at these
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charges. however petty that might seem to some. >> he can imagine it. prosecuting the president's political enemies was something don mcgahn warned could get the president impeached. don mcgahn rebuffed the president saying he had no authority to order an investigation. mr. mcgahn said while he could request an investigation, that could prompt accusations of abuse of power. mr. mcgahn had white house lawyers write a memo for mr. trump warning if he asked law enforcement to invest gaigate h rivals he could face impeachment. joining mike and aaron here in the studio, yamiche alcindor. joyce and chuck are still here as well. take us through whitaker's role not just as a whitaker skeptic,
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but also as an enthussist for what you report donald trump is keen to do. >> this is the justice department who obviously is open to these ideas that the president would like. the president would like a second special counsel to look into hillary, to look into comey. he had talked with whitaker. i don't know if it was specifically about that but about this matter before he came on to do this. and you know, the president feels that a second special counsel would sort of even things out. if i have to have a special counsel, why can't you have a special counsel? and he thinks in the public sphere that would be beneficial to him. >> so i watched jeff sessions and rod rosenstein field questions about his second special counsel under oath in front of the house intel committee and the house judiciary committee. they have said it wasn't warranted. what facts is matt whitaker in possession of that changed that assessment? >> i don't know but i don't even know as the attorney general, it's not a law decision to
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appoint a second special counsel. it's sort of more of a judgment call. if he wanted to do it, he could. i don't know what the blowback could be. i'm not sure how much it would agitate as we were saying before, people on capitol hill to do anything differently. but this is something the president -- >> don mcgahn thinks if you get the president impeached for abuse of power. >> what they warned the president about was if you try and ask for political investigations, there could be enormous consequences, including congress investigating you and impeaching you. >> this seems like another brick in the wall of the president's war against the justice department, his -- i guess ignorance at best but, again, ill will or corrupted tent at worst to use the justice department as his own political arm to prosecute political enemies. >> yes, in fact, that was exactly the metaphor i was going to use. another brick in the wall.
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if you have one ambiguous statement or act, it's just one ambiguous statement. when it happens over and over again you begin to infer from that intent. and as joyce well knows, the hardest thing, the most important thing for a prosecutor to prove in a criminal case is intent. every time the president suggests the political investigation or political reason for firing an official or stripping an official of their security clearance, those add up. and you can be sure that mueller is keeping tally. >> joyce, mueller doesn't have to look any further than donald trump's sort of highlight reel from the campaign trail. here he is on his intent to prosecute and investigate hillary clinton. >> if i win, i am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. >> it's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of donald trump is not in charge of the law in our country. >> because you'd be in jail.
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>> comey is a leaker and he's a liar. and not only on this stuff. he's been leaking for years. he is guilty of crimes. >> and if i win, i am going to ask my attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to look into her crimes. >> special prosecutor, here we go, right? >> so, joyce, even though he said it out loud, that doesn't necessarily make it something that could, as mike and his colleagues report, get him in a whole lot of trouble and possibly impeached. >> i thought the most astonishing line in mike's story, and i know mike to be a careful wordsmith and deliberate about his choice of words, and he says that the president of the united states wanted to order the justice department to prosecute hillary clinton and jim comey. and that is such a spectacular departure from the way that prosecutions work. this idea that the president
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could cross over and order prosecutors, direct them to put people in jail is certainly something mcgahn should have advised the president was likely to get him into trouble. but lawyers don't tell their clients what to do. and even in this imperfect attorney/client relationship, all that mcgahn could do was advise the president about the pitfalls of the course of action he wanted to undertake. that's why we have this memo that's in writing because mcgahn thought it needed to be memorialized down the road in case the president did order justice department prosecutors to do this. i don't think career prosecutors at the justice department would have agreed to engage in any kind of a political prosecution. but what chuck has done for us is he's given us a really outstanding lesson in what proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt sounds like. he talks about another brick in the wall or these incremental pieces of evidence of trump's intent. it'sule video. the video you played.
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other video. and when you just look at one or two instancesre trump has said he wants to jail his political enemies, maybe it's campaign rhetoric. when he says it over and over and talks about ordering doj prosecutors to take action, that sounds to me like proof of intent beyond a reasonable doubt. if i'm bob mueller, i'm cataloging it all. >> one of the, i think, as we've been talking about, the alarm with the appointment of matt whitaker is around the fate of the mueller probe. jeff flake is the one republican involved and interested in protecting the mueller probe. the equal danger, the other looming questions is whether whitaker could greenlight a second special counsel and prosecution of hillary clinton and jim comey. >> the president says he was not aware of whitaker's views on this. >> no chance of that. he was on tv. the president watches tv. >> he didn't see those appearances on cnn apparently.
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>> i don't buy it. >> it seems to be a strange coincidence he was introduced at the justice drnths became jeff sessions' chief of staff after being a cable tv pundit during 2017, during when many of these issues were being discussed and espoused many of those views. there are a lot of coincidences here, one is the trump team has now responded to these questions. they appear to not have given much information. rudy giuliani said they're basically saying things that were already in the public record. why is the trump team suddenly so confident about these things that they're moving forward? they are letting mueller decide whether to subpoena. do they suddenly have reason to believe that they are safer, on safer ground when it comes to some of these decisions? it seems to be conspicuous. >> you reported it a year ag that he's always wanted at the justice department something he finally has. a loyalist. >> the president sees the attorney general as someone who should be loyal to him first. he believes that, you know,
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obama and holder and jfk had rfk and he said where is my roy cohn, referring to his long-time fixer who took care of him in new york city many decades ago. that's what he thinks the attorney general should be more loyal to him than the laws and the evidence. >> yamiche, it seems like a great idea until you're in a lot of trouble and you expect your attorney general to get you out of trouble. where do you think this goes in terms of the democrats who now control the overnigsight commit and intel. do you think there's some sort of collision on the horizon? >> before the midterms, democrats department want to talk about impeachment. the minute they took back the house and those over 40 seats all you can hear is we're going to investigate that, we're going to investigate those ivanka e-mails and look at your tax returns and go and figure out this thing going on with whether or not you want to prosecute a james comey and hillary clinton. i think democrats, now that they have the hour, they understand
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they have to strike this balance where they'll have to do infrastructure or health care or something to give them something in 2020 to say we accomplished something. but the number one reason a lot of these democrats got elected is that people that voted for them wanted a check on president trump and they're going to get it in some ways. you'll see a lot of investigations and because of that, you'll see a more isolated and more paranoid president trump because he does not want to feel like he's backed into a corner. even though he has matt whitaker, he understands that bob -- that bob mueller has been doing this work and has been collecting things for months and months and months. so one ag may not be able to stop all the work that's been put in place. we're going to see president trump start going after people more and more. >> check our twitter feeds. it may have already happened. chuck rosenberg, thanks for spending time with us today. happy thanksgiving. up next, is this a fight on the horizon between donald trump and robert mueller? new details ahead. w car and tot. and as if that wasn't bad enough, now your insurance won't replace it outright
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robert mueller finally got what he's wanted for months. answers from donald trump to some of his questions on collusion. but in what could signal coming standoff between the white house and the special counsel, axios reports, quote, the high-stakes exchange with mueller included no questions or answers about obstruction of justice. but rudy giuliani said, i can't tell you mueller's given up on obstruction. and if mueller wants answers, that may mean a subpoena is next which would likely kick off an historic legal battle and trump, according to axios is ready for a fight. the president's view on a subpoena is clear. he will refuse to cooperate. mike, aaron and yamiche and joyce vance are here. where do you think this is heading? do you think mueller could live with getting partial answers on collusion and zero responses to the obstruction of justice inquiry that he spent so much time bringing witnesses in and asking about? >> i find it hard to believe
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this investigation on obstruction, which focuses on the president, did he have criminal intent, that mueller will close up shop without doing everything he can to find out from the president why he took the measures that he did. and to do that, it seems like he'd need a subpoena to compel the president to answer those questions. i can't imagine mueller would just close down the investigation without pursuing that. >> and the mueller probe is still under the purview of the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein and his staff. is it a known/unknown what matt whitaker would do if he were asked to approve a subpoena from mueller? >> look, the president now has another person above rosenstein who can stop rosenstein from issuing a subpoena. the buck used to stop on rosenstein's desk. now it will -- could go up to whitaker. >> if he chooses. >> if he chooses. or -- and if he can -- i guess he's not going to recuse himself. he'll have the ability to do that. that will be this momentous
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decision the justice department will have to make. it will continue to drag the investigation on as the president wants this to be over, but it took him a very long time to submit the written answers which continue to delay the investigation. a subpoena fight will continue to delay it and then do you get closer to 2020? >> that seems like the worst case scenario for the president to still have this cloud of the russia investigation hanging over him while he stands oftenceibly, we can assume he's going to stand for re-election in 2020. how do you make of robert mueller and how his investigators will of course that scenario? >> i don't think they'll have a political calculus in mind but it's really interesting and important to remember that we're hearing a very one-sided version of what's going on with these questions. because we know that mueller and his prosecutors only speak when they are in court and presumably what we're hearing about limitations on them, answers, that all comes from trump and from his lawyers.
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mueller may frank lly take a ve different view. one thing prosecutors don't usually do is they don't usually sit down and interview or ask questions of targets of investigations because people who are going to be indicted have a fifth amendment right. maybe it's a possibility that mueller chose deliberately not to ask the president questions about his obstruction of justice or the allegation he's engaged in obstruction. we don't know. that's certainly a possibility. i just don't know a prosecutor who is satisfied with written answers and since mueller is far less interested in the 2020 election than he is in ensuring that he indicts criminal conduct, i think he'll keep going until he gets whatever answers he needs to wrap his investigation up. >> joyce has made a nuanced point about one of the reasons there may not be questions about obstruction. could be for the purposes of the investigation he is a target of the obstruction of justice investigation, even though he can't be indicted while he's president.
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that seems like the worst case scenario for the president. >> and another issue here is it's not just the timeline as far as the 2020 election goes. it's also the timeline as far as matthew whitaker. whitaker can serve 210 days as acting attorney general. at which point a new attorney general needs to be appointed. needs to be confirmed by the senate at that point. if this process draws out with negotiations, possibly with the subpoena, and the trump team is actually banking on matthew whitaker to be their saving grace here and to protect them, we may actually go beyond that period that he can actually do that. and at that point we'd have a republican-controlled senate, confirming a new attorney general. they may actually press the new attorney general more on some of these questions in ways that whitaker has not been held accountable. so i think -- >> and it may play into mueller's hands if you believe that he'll protect trump.
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>> giuliani wouldn't tell us what questions mueller asked but he concedesed mueller asked about two subjects. mueller asked whether trump knew at the time about his son don junior meet with russians in trump tower and mueller asked about the russian hacks during the campaign that immediately followed trump's july 27th, 2016, press conference in florida when trump said, russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 hillary clinton e-mails that are missing. >> well, those are obviously very key and important moments in this investigation. and, really in the timeline of russia's interaction with the trump campaign. i think what's important there is two things. one, that means the president is answering questions about one of his children who could also be indicted. donald trump jr. is not president. so if you are the president, are you making the calculation that you don't want to cooperate too much because one of your children could be at risk? the other thing is i've talked to giuliani and texted with him. if you are, as mike says, if you
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are robert mueller, it may be hard to go about getting information about obstruction justice. but if you're donald trump lawyers, how do you let donald trump who is free-wheeling, makes up things as he goes along, how do you let him sit down with robert mueller when you know you have a problematic client? i'm not a lawyer but if i was donald trump's lawyer i'd say this guy is not sitting down with anybody and giuliani has told me personally, yeah, that doesn't seem like something we want to do either. >> interview is off the table, right? >> the latest thing the president says is that he doesn't want to sit down. the president has said for the past year that he does want to sit down. that's why john dowd quit. john dowd quit because the president -- he didn't think the president could do it. the president believes he's his best spokesperson and believes he can explain anything or sell anything to anyone and he can sit down and explain to mueller why he did anything. >> let me give you a last word
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on the flash points. whether the president knew about his sons meeting with the russians or whether it was sheer coincidence the president said, russia, if you're listening, days before that hack. >> it's hard to believe that he wasn't in the know at least part way on either one of those. coincidences in my experience just don't really happen when you're investigating crimes. and it would be awfully coincidental for him to be completely unaware that russia had access to e-mails that had come through wikileaks, the subject of conversation by his old buddy roger stone and he makes that comment on the campaign trail on the precise timeline when they are ready to go and be released. same thing with the trump tower meeting. he's one floor above the meeting as it occurs by all accounts from that day. very hard to believe his kids didn't talk to him and a safe bet that bob mueller knows the answer to that since he's talking not just to michael cohen but also to paul manafort in the room.
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mr. mueller will have a lot to say about this at the end of his investigation. >> from your lips, i hope you're right. my thanks to joyce vance, aaron schmidt and blake. how bad is it? lindsey graham, rand paul and the trumpian safe space known as "the wall street journal" editorial page all attack the president's warm embrace of the leader of saudi arabia. that story next. fact is, every insurance company hopes you drive safely. but allstate helps you. with drivewise. feedback that helps you drive safer. and that can lower your cost now that you know the truth... are you in good hands? but he has plans today.ain. hey dad. so he took aleve. if he'd taken tylenol, he'd be stopping for more pills right now. only aleve has the strength to stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill.
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here's what i believe. saudi arabia needs us more than we need them. it's not too much to ask an ally not to butcher a guy in our consulate. this is not world war ii. so i'm not going to look away at what mbs did. >> we have a crown prince that i believe directed the killing of a journalist. and i just -- the language that
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was used. it was as if they were writing a press release for the saudi arabia not for the united states. and it was unnecessarily provocative in the way that he did it. >> donald trump's lurch to saudi arabia's defense, despite an assessment from the u.s. intelligence community that the crown prince of saudi arabia ordered the killing of a u.s. permanent resident is generating harsh condemnation for the president from his own party and around the world. "the new york times" reports, the cia concluded that crown prince mbs had ordered mr. khashoggi's killing, american officials said last week. but on tuesday, the president dismissed not only that assessment but also the very process of seeking the truth. implying that it did not really matter anyway. maybe he did and maybe he didn't, mr. trump wrote of prince muhammad. instead the decisions of a president should be guided guy what is west for the economy and the united states security. and "the wall street journal" editorial page, often a safe
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space for this president, rendered a harsh verdict of the exclamation filled statement as well. we are aware of no president, not even such ruthless pragmatists as richard nixon or lyndon johnson who would have written a public statement like this without a grace note about america's abiding values and principle principles. ronald reagan pursued a hard-line against soviet communism, but he did so with a balance of unblinkered realism and american idealism. mr. trump seems incapable of such balance. part of the problem with the president's decision to stand with saudi arabia goes beyond the moral and ethical problems with standing by a world leader who ordered the dismemberment of a disdent. the statement contradicted president trump. >> i don't like it. i don't like it with respect to reporters. it's a terrible, terrible precedent. we can't let it happen. and saudi arabia has been a great ally. but what happened is unacceptable.
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it's being looked at very, very strongly. and we would be very upset and angry if that were the case. we're going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment. because whoever thought of that trouble, and they should be in big trouble. >> joining us here in d.c., washington post columnist eugene robinson and editor at large of the weekly standard bill crystal. >> well, it was, you know, breath taking not in a good way. it was the most explicit sort of abandonment of our traditional foreign policy stats. you mentioned values and principles. he has none, and he, you know, under him, american foreign policy apparently has none. and the worst thing about that statement, the worst thing about it was that he just sort of backhandedly libels and slurs and dee fames jamal khashoggi. a contributing columnist for the
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washington post, by saying that, well, you know, some in the saudi government say he was, unknow, an islamist and he was in the muslim brother thood. i'm not saying that. that's not affecting my decision. it's actually a rhetorical device called para lips is. it was just vile on every level. >> it seems to me -- he's your colleague. it seems like pain on top of pain on top of pain. >> it is. i was in the office today and it's been bad. i mean, nothing is worse than what happened to jamal khashoggi, but this is pouring salt into an open wound. >> bill? >> we were talking about this before the show. also, the process is totally broken down. and since for those of us who never had great expectations of donald trump, we had some hope, and sometimes that hope has been vindicated i think that the institutions will keep him in check. the system will work -- >> the system failed. >> that has happened in certain cases in this administration in
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foreign policy with secretary mattis, h.r. mcmaster. as a national security advisor, how can you let this statement go out? you wouldn't. at least clean it up, put in a grace note about we deplore what happened -- >> exactly. >> clean up the grammer, exclamation points. does the president dictate a statement to his personal assistant and it just goes out to the world, the chief of staff, national security advisor, leave out the secretary of state. that's dangerous. of course, it's just a statement, but statements have real consequence. >> and, by the way, his enunciation of u.s. foreign policy as he sees it is totally amoral. it's just money. the saudis, he claims, are going to spend $450 billion. that's a lie, it's not true. or $110 billion in arms sales. >> also a lie. >> not true. but that's the basis on which he justifies this. oh, well, maybe he did it, maybe he didn't, but they're going to i have go us a bunch much money.
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>> this seems like taking the naughty toddler painting the wall and handing him a knife. >> president putin -- there are times when he's -- >> scarier. >> scarier. and times you think it's better. in this way it wasn't abroad. this is in the white house. this is where you think the system would check them some, and i think has on the whole. it wasn't a tweet. this isn't him in his little device. this is him -- it's on white house -- >> white, right there. >> it makes me feel sick in that respect. a president is out of control, miyazaki you can say to your friends abroad -- the system is working -- >> the president is out of control. the presidency is out of control. >> one striking thing is even if everything that he said was true, we would still be faced with a president who saw the blatant murder of a journalist and said, i'm going to put the
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paragraph about what we're getting from saudi arabia above the paragraph of that we think this is not -- that this is -- that we condone -- we don't condone this murder. and i'll add to that the fact people from third world countries or developing countries seeing mirrors of dictators and authoritarian behavior in president trump as a straight news reporter, i've interviewed people who see that. there is this idea when president trump said when this first happened, jamal khashoggi, he wasn't even a u.s. citizen. you have to think that america used to be the place where the president would say, no the mat what citizenship you stand for we stand for freedom of the press. whether it's french or german, they shouldn't be murdering journalists. you should look at national interests. america first. even if our val oouz are being murdered in a consulate in a country, we shouldn't think about that, we think about what america is going to get out of it. it's remarkable. >> i heard from intel officials who said there could be an
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intelligence scandal heading this way. there are questions about what the president knew and when he knew it what the crown prips's mbs's role was in the murder l. has he been briefed on that when he went out and said, might be rogue killers. was there a quid pro quo? why did he say that? why was he spewing, again, the presidency, not just the president, but the american presidency was held hostage to the saudi spin on the killing and dismemberment of jamal khashoggi. former intel officials said the intelligence community may be very eager to participate in an investigation into what they knew and what they briefed the president. >> interesting to see if we can find out more about that. the degree to which -- this america first justification, you can run a much more nationalist realist foreign policy than i would like. but still, it doesn't have to be this, right? >> this is weak, this is just weakness. >> this is not america first. this is saudi arabia first. >> right. even on those terms, even on, you know, realist pragmatic
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terms, he's totally misreading the u.s./saudi relationship. we hold all the cards of that relationship. you know, their arms purchases are a drop in the bucket. we don't need their oil. they need our military assistance and our military spare parts. they can't just go buy the weapon from china and -- you know, that's like having an apple set up and deciding -- and buying a pc and expecting it to plug in and work. >> don't you think every other -- this is your point, too. every other dictator in the world sees this. >> oh, yeah. >> should i crackdown on dissidents? should i abduct people, should i torture people? >> we don't know what the personal finances of the trump family how that connects to saudi arabia. we can talk about u.s. gets more out of saudi arabia than saudi arabia gets out of us. we don't know if that's true for the trump personal finances. >> it passes prologue. right, right. well, i think someone will get to the bottom of all of that god willing. we have to sneak in our very last break.
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we are grateful, most grateful for our amazing guests. without them there is no 4:00 show. eugene, bill, yamiche, thank you for being on the show. happy thanksgiving. "mtp daily" begins with the fabulous katy tur. i'm going to watch this hour. >> you should run home and get some turkey and eat some pie. you deserve it. nicolle wallace, thank you very much. good evening. i'm katy tur in for chuck todd. welcome to "mtp daily." we begin with breaking news, a president whose authoritarian impulses are on full display. this afternoon he whipped into the jeef justice of the supreme court, john roberts, which came in response to roberts delivering a rare and stinging re


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