tv The Beat With Ari Melber MSNBC January 21, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
. that is all for tonight. we will be back tomorrow with more "mtp daily." "the beat with ari melber" starts right now. hi, ari. >> hi, katy. thank you very much. we are covering a lot of stories this hour. donald trump getting panned by the left and the right for his offer to try to end the shutdown on his terms. we also have a special report that we've been working on for a while on "the beat" tonight. i'm going get into new evidence about what trump actually does throughout the day, why it's so problematic for america, and why his calls for executive time need more scrutiny. we're also going to drive into the controversy of bob mueller doing something he rarely does. i'm sure you heard about it by friday night, rebutting a specific article that buzzfeed report on michael cohen. i'm very happy to be back with you. we begin with this new reporting
about how explicitly the trump administration's actions are helping billionaires tied to vladimir putin. "new york times" reporting late today on a deal to weaken sanctions on a putin-linked oligarch is actually far worse than everyone thought. a lot of people in the congress thought it was terrible. a secret document shows that the deal would free this putin oligarch from hundreds of millions of dollars of debt and give him and apparently his allies more control to important parts of his company. instead of punishing this oligarch, the trump administration is essentially helping him. meanwhile, the russian at the center of the mueller probe, pop star agalarov who worked with trump on the trump tower meeting said he is cancelling a trip to the u.s. because of bob mueller. >> due to circumstances beyond my control, i'm forced to postpone my scheduled u.s. and canadian tour. basically, i have been put in this position against my will.
>> agalarov's lawyer telling nbc this is most definitely linked to the russia probe. while they're happy to speak to mueller's team, what they don't want is to be subpoenaed or held under a material witness warrant. so a lot of moving parts there. and then you have rudy giuliani doing something we've reported on before, the giuliani dance. he is now apparently trying to backpedal from comments he made this weekend that appear to suggest as a factual matter that rudy wanted the world to know trump was involved in talks for trump tower moscow right through the election. >> well, it's our understanding that they went on throughout 2016, not a lot of them, but there were conversations. can't be sure of the exact dates, but the president can remember having conversations with him about it. >> throughout 2016? >> yeah, probably up to could be up to as far as october, november. until the election. >> talks of trump tower moscow
went as late as october or november of 2016, even in some form. >> could be, right. could be. >> yeah. could be. so that's either a huge deal. a lot of papers treated it as such. he is the president's lawyer. a big article in "the new york times." giuliani appearing to admit that, saying trump told the moscow folks that these discussions would go from the day he announced the run for president to the day he won. there is "the times" story. so then you get the 180. trump of course had repeatedly claimed throughout 2016 nothing to do with russia, no deals in the works. so if you stop there, that's already problematic for them. then you have, as i mentioned, what we call the giuliani, because late today, right in our newsroom, here we go again, let me read to you. rudolph giuliani saying the discussions on trump were hypothetical, not based on conversations we had with the president, did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions.
we have a lot in the program, as i mentioned. we begin appropriately with attorney maya wiley, a civil prosecutor in the southern district which prosecuted michael cohen, and former former federal prosecutor john flannery. i often start with maya because i like her a little bit more than you, even though i like you both. but the reason i want to start with you, john is you have given a very strong view of rudy giuliani's lawyering, and this isn't the only thing we're going to discuss in this block. >> sure. >> but we start here with the dance and the walk back. what do you think is actually going down? >> well, it's the rudy stare and two-step. we have a precedent for how this is going down currently. you remember when we had the september 2016 meeting with cohen and trump, discussing the payoff for the ladies, if you will. first of all, both trump and rudy were on the same page and they said oh, yeah, we just structured the deal. people do it all the time.
rudy lost his job at his firm. then they did the 180 and no, no, no none of that happened and because of tapes and other things, they had in fact done it. take the admissions forewhat they are and rely on those. >> that's the whole problem. you don't have to be a lawyer. you're sitting at home on sunday. you're watching "meet the press." chuck todd doing a great interview, and you have the admission, the admission of conversations up to election day, and then tonight you have a lawyer being a lawyer and saying well, i was reserving the prospect that that could have happened, but i wasn't making a factual assertion. i ask you, which is it? >> this is the way i think you look at it. you look at what cohen said back at the time of the plea, and you see the groundwork to say that we have the trump project, the tower if you will in moscow, and his testimony before the senate, and that he was regularizing it to fit what trump wanted. now you have these admissions that take it further. so what is the story? well, on february th, if koby
goes up to the hill, if he's asked questions and ahe's allowd to talk about anything offshore. is rudy waiving privilege as he did with the tape recording by disclosing what his client's position circumstances that's also odd. let me bring in maya. now we're five minutes in to the show. i'm a little confused. i like to keep it real and honest. i'm confused. this is the last rudy bite i'm going to show. here is a sound bite of rudy on cnn, also this weekend. take a look. >> as far as i know, president trump did not have discussions with him. certainly had no discussions with him in which he told him or counseled him to lie. obviously you have a hatred for the president. >> you just acknowledged that michael trump -- >> which is perfectly normal. >> president trump might have talked about his testimony.
>> and so what? >> dealer's choice, i mean, all of this. >> well, first of all, i really expected a rap lyric for this one, ari. so i just want to say, i'm a little disappointed. >> you're disappointed? well, it's not over yet. if you're using music or poetry to understand the world around you, that presupposes you come to an understanding, and i am being real with the audience and everyone here. i am not sure whether we're witnessing rudy giuliani messing up or what i think john was getting at, which is it was like what he did on hannity, that he is parcelling it out. it matters what the criminal defense attorney for the president under criminal investigation who has a new attorney general coming in to deal with the bob mueller probe and a lot of other stuff that went down on friday, it matters which thing rudy is doing. >> he could be doing both. >> yes. >> because he could be doing the latter badly. if you listen to what rudy
giuliani said to "the new york times," he essentially made himself a fact witness because he said the president told me that he was having discussions from beginning to end. those are also inconsistent with some of the statements that he was making sunday. so he's made inconsistent statements. he suggested that he's had conversations that you could argue make it difficult for him to preserve attorney/client privilege, at least on those conversations. now i'm not saying we know that for a fact or that the mueller team would do that, because that would obviously be a big eruption. i'm just saying it's so sloppy, it's so poorly done doesn't mean it won't be effective from the spin management. >> because donald trump has already given written answers to mueller, wouldn't any competent lawyer know what the time frame was if it was election day or october or earlier? why not stick to the story that was given to mueller. >> well, exactly. because remember, he also makes clear he knows that those answers, he talks about those answers to the mueller questions
in terms of the time frame. so the fact that he's all over the map suggests i do believe he was trying to do spin control and that some of that spin control was trying inoculate what was going to happen on february 7th. he spent most of his time trying to say cohen is a liar. well, cohen has lied. the difference between rudy giuliani and a michael cohen is michael cohen has admitted it. >> right. and being a lawyer for donald trump carries with it those risks. beth you have stay with me. we're about to bring in another guest and look to some of the politics. the comments here about trump tower moscow. what trump said throughout the campaign, no deals with russia. >> i have nothing to do with russia. nothing to do with russia. >> i promise you i never made, i don't have any deals with russia. >> giuliani, though, this weekend saying quite clearly trump was working on this deal
with the russians and democrats got interested. >> that is news to me, and that is big news. knowing that the republican nominee was actively trying to do business in moscow, that the republican nominee at least at one point had offered if he built this building, vladimir putin a free penthouse apartment? and if those negotiations were ongoing while up until the election, i think that's a relevant fact for voters to know. >> jason johnson joins the discussion. good day to you, sir. >> good day to you as well. >> let's start where congress fits in. i want to read to you the other reporting here. if you put aside all of the lawyers and just go to american interests, reading from this "times" report, the way they've negotiated the trump administration, this deal for to millionaire they let a kremlin oligarch off easily "the times" reports tonight or they were
outmanufactured by sophisticated legal and lobbying campaigns. certainly has happened in washington before when you're dealing with rich people. >> right. >> what does it tell you here that we're learning more about the way the trump administration is letting off this putin oligarch and congress, to be clear, has a majority in both houses that wants to stop this. it's only that there are enough republicans to filibuster it that it wasn't stopped yet. >> right. well, the larger question that we have here now, ari, we can no longer say there is no connection between the president of the united states and russia there are too many people involved. you have his son meeting in trump tower with russian representatives. you have this sort of deal with an oligarch. you have manafort handling polling information. you have rudy giuliani saying he was still conducting deals at this point. so the question for congress certainly on the democratic side in the house is not whether or not trump is connected to russia anymore, it's what direction these connections are going and whether or not they rides to the level of impeachment. and i have to mention this. this is the legal part and the political part.
every single time rudy giuliani goes into the air, every time he says something wrong, every time he walks back, the guy's got more steps back than james harden. it's ridiculous. every time he says something, he gives more fuel to democrats to go to their constituents and say see? this is an issue we should be focused on. the thing that the trump administration wants, they want democrats to not want to go near impeachment. they want it to be politically poisonous, or dangerous. whenever rudy giuliani speaks or when they make these kinds of deals it makes a winner for democrats running in 2020 or even just the congress now. >> do you think again on the legislative side of it, which involves politics, do you think the democrats are hitting the sanctions stuff enough? we all get why the more complex it becomes, the harder it becomes. but when you have several republican senators i believe, a count of 11. >> right. >> joining the democrats to say don't let this putin guy off the hook, that seems pretty clear. >> yeah, it seems pretty clear. but also, it speaks to what is going to happen down the road. if you got 11 republicans who
had already broken, what happens when the mueller report comes out, if the entire report comes out? you're going to have more people added to that group of 11. you're going to have more people say not only should we not let this guy off on sanctions, maybe we should increase the number of sanctions. and that cage when it gets rattled is going to make things more and more difficult for the president. i think at this point you have republicans not just republicans are hey, i'm going to state that hillary clinton won or i had a rough race last night. you're going to have republicans saying i don't want this drag me down in 2020 and that's what the president has to worry about. >> john? >> i think we give too much patience to whether or not we should be calling foul. trump has shown himself to be putin's tool, his lackey. we see it when he appears with him. we see all the things that squeeze him, all the different lies he's told, 100 contacts and so forth. and i got a little concerned when rosenstein had a conversation with the special counsel's office about how to
handle the buzzfeed article when there are elements in the public domain that show us that that direction does make sense. >> i'm almost out of time, but why would that concern you? the deputy attorney general is overseeing the probe. it appears according to mueller's spokesperson that something was stated about what mueller has that they want the world to know was mischaracterized or inaccurate. what's wrong with that? >> well, where do you draw the line? inside there is an investigation and it's quiet secret, and that was the error in my opinion of comey with hillary clinton. he shouldn't have been talking about some of those things. >> it's not like it had any other negative impacts. >> some say -- >> actually, it did. >> you're setting me up, right? >> i don't know if you can see it or not. i've never done that before. >> this camera is just a little black round thing in front of me. >> the comey thing, it worked out fine. >> yes, i would direct everyone to all the polling to show the
impact of comey's decision. >> yes. >> just one thing i want to make sure we don't lose here, because the emin agalarov thing is a big deal. the reason it's a big deal is because in a "forbes" magazine interview in 2017, what emin agalarov said i still talk to donald trump. we still have family relationships, and he takes care of his friends. and when you think about him refusing to come and not wanting to submit himself to these conversations. >> right. >> you have to wonder what the following of the money is going to look like. and remember, vt bank, that's the bank that if we want to get into deripaska, by the way, who was owe money by paul manafort, deripaska, part of the reason this is a sweetheart deal for him is because he gets to get rid of debt by giving stocks to vt bank. that is one of the banks that michael cohen was going to look to for financing. >> right. >> for the tower. >> and that's the point.
the trump administration has turned this into a deal that potentially seems, according to "the new york times," to benefit that person. maya, you wanted a reference. how about please don't throw me in the sanctions briar patch. >> that's not rap. >> it doesn't have to be rap. >> kanye, come on. >> please don't throw me in the briar patch, these sanctions. oh, these sanctions netted me from a business perspective 200 ms. not bad. i got to fit in a break. maya, john and jason. a lively panel, thank you. a trump scandal hiding in plain sight. a shutdown of his own schedule and presidency. i'll explain. and then, yes, we're going get into bob mueller doing what he rarely does, sending out a spokesman to rebut an article on the record. and some prescient comments from mueller all the way back in 2008. >> today we are part of a never-ending news cycle, with unthat spans the globe. when a story is filed, that one
story posted on the internet may be picked up around the world. >> ain't that the truth. and later, aoc gets cardi b's back to clap back at a fox news debater. also, trump showing signs of pressure as he tries to make some kind of deal on immigration, and later on this mlk holiday, i'm going to show you part of a very powerful and rarely seen interview with dr. martin luther king. >> so emancipation for the negro was really freedom to hung. it's a cruel justice to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. and many negroes by the thousands and millions have been left bootless. >> all that tonight. i'm ari melber. you're watching "the beat" on msnbc. 44, 45, 46... how many of these did they order? ooh, that's hot. ♪ you know, we could sell these.
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we'll give you a automatic twenty dollar credit. my name is antonio and i'm a technician at comcast. we're working to make things simple, easy and awesome. let's reset. there is a new congress. we're about two years into the trump presidency. the government is shut down for the longest period ever, and donald trump's attempt to be a deal maker on the border wall has run into a wall of its own. speaker pelosi rejecting this new offer he made that would grant some undocumented immigrants temporary relief from deportations to get money for the permanent wall. i'm about to be joined by a political icon from california who knows these issues and is friends with speaker pelosi, worked with her for years, former u.s. senator barber boxer. trump's offer was getting panned not only by pelosi, but also some media supporters on the right. ann coulter saying we voted for
trump and got jeb. congressman steve king not exactly leading much of anything these days. tweeting out in all caps amnesty. and in breitbart who used to linked to steve kornacki this was, quote, three-year amnesty. trump's apparent deal making is not working that well. take a look at how it play in "snl" roasting trump. >> nancy, how are you feeling tonight? >> oh, just normal. not like drunk on my own power or anything. >> let's see what's in your briefcase, nancy. >> okay. $1 billion and you say nancy's my mommy. >> it's not a 5 billion. i need 5 billion because that's the first random number i said. no deal. >> i'm joined by former senator barbara boxer. thanks for being here tonight. >> logistics for having me, ari.
>> let's start with the joke that may be true. "snl" positing that donald trump came to this random round number with no real plan or logic and is pushing for it at the very time that he has less control of the congress. he could have done it in the last two years. what is your view of where we go from here, and explicitly, as i mentioned, your knowledge of your colleague speaker pelosi and how she is going to approach this. >> sure. well, "saturday night live" uses a sense of humor to make a really important point, but we'll leave the humor to them. i think they always hit the nail on the head. and i was parodied by them a long time ago. >> wasn't that they parodied you in the condi rice confirmation? >> they did, they did. >> was it good? >> oh, it's hysterical. i mean, it's hysterical. it still hold up. and it cracks me up. and of course at that time it was rare for one woman to go after another woman. anyway, you can do a whole
throwback on that some day. but let me just say where i see we're at, to try and just give people who are watching a sense of this. you know, when you're a legislator, and you're in a circumstance like this, and we've been in it before, what's important for sure some way to bridge the gap between the sides. but also, you have to think if the precedent-setting nature of what you were doing. and if we say to donald trump, you know, keep the government closed. boy, he's got the art of the government shutdown down, if we let him keep that government shutdown only to win when he says he wants the same thing he asked for before the shutdown started, it's a precedent setter, and it's a bad one. it means that any president can take one budget item or one policy like declaring war, who knows, and shut the whole government down. but i have to say this, getting back to why president trump says
he's doing it. i think it's about, you know, a broken campaign promise. but put that aside. he says he wants to make us safer. so how does he make us safer? by shutting down so much of the government, and we now have people who are involved with flight safety, and they're not getting paid. food safety, border safety, financial protection, consumer protection, even cleaning up toxic waste. superfund sites have stopped. he is putting us in danger. so we have to end the shutdown, take his plan, fine, put it op the table, take nancy's plan, speaker pelosi's plan, take leader schumer's plan, take leader mcconnell's plan, let's take a look at all the plans, mccarthy's plan, and then let's do what we know how to do, which is legislate. >> i guess part of what i'm curious, how do you deal with having an end game for someone across the table who may have no end game. and let me play for you donald
trump again talking about the speaker, and they've been going back and forth. i've noted there has been some pettiness on both side. it doesn't feel like it's getting close to a deal. >> it's not personal for me. she's being controlled by the radical left, which is a problem, and, you know, she is under total control of the radical left. >> where does she go from here with this? >> well, you know you're lose when you have to start saying things like that. he is clearly losing. let me tell you what the end to me looks like. when he is totally down to 34% approval, 35% approval, he's going to come to his senses. or i will tell you the republican party is done for. and i don't say that with glee. you know, when i started out, the two parties were about equal in size. now they are going down the hill, and it's very, very sad. and i will tell you, people are suffering, and there could be a terrible thing that happens
because let me say this. if you're going through the airport, as many of us do, and you have a tsa agent who is just so worried because they're worried about their children, they're worried about their rent, something could slip through. what about the air traffic controllers? they're balancing everything at once. you need people feeling good about their work, taking pride in their work. this shutdown is endangering us. >> right. >> it is the real emergency. it's turned into the emergency. not the border wall, not the border wall. >> and you're putting faces and stories on why it affects people's real lives which is different than some of the rhetoric. i also want to show you with unmore thing when we think of how the debate plays out and how things are going. there has been all sorts of fighting online. people talking about this on social media. we noted last week the rapper card by b blasted president trump over the way he shut down the government. then tommy lawrence slamming cardi b and saying the latest
genius political mind to endorse the democrats. cardi b went right back at her and said leave me alone. i will dog walk you. and alexandria ocasio-cortez defending cardi b, noting they're both from the bronx and saying, quote, why do people think they cansx women without getting roasted? i wonder what you make is a shift in the discourse and also we're seeing women in power, women in culture standing up and having these debates. >> sure. well, this isn't about bronx women or brooklyn women. i was born there. it's really about the state of the nation at the moment. and certainly a rapper has a right to say what she thinks. and so does fox news. but guess what? i don't care. what i care about is the fact that we're in deep trouble. people are having horrible times. about a third of the federal
workforce, they're veterans, and many of them decided they wanted to continue to work for their country once they stopped doing their duty in the armed services. and so they wanted jobs that were not stressful, that they could make their contribution. they're getting ptsd, some of them. this is a national disgrace what is happening. it's pain, and it isn't just 800,000. and that's a lot of people. it's their families. so let's say the average family has three people. so you've got to say three times. >> right. >> and what about the little businesses all over next to the national park service? i didn't mention the parks that are being overrun with unsanitary conditions, some of them are closed. here in california, it means a lot to us to have our beautiful parks. i'll tell you something, you know, this is a question of being smart, doing the basic job and all of this stuff and the jokes, the songs, it's all fine
and everyone has a right to do it in their way. my way is to talk to people. and what i'm saying is we have a national emergency now, and it is the shutdown. just a couple of days ago, we had a lot of illegal immigrants burrow underneath a barrier, okay. and that's what they did. we know that the drugs are coming in at the legal ports of entry. that's where we have problems. and the other thing i'd say, as some supporter of mine wrote me and said, you can go to a local home depot and get those magnetic handles that you can climb over this supposed steel slatted fence. that's ridiculous. open up the government. >> he wants a rope, which are ropes are something people can get ahold of. senator boxer, always appreciate you joining us on "the rachel maddow show." >> thanks. >> thank you. up ahead, we're going to get
into the fallout of how trump lawyers reached out to mueller. first, we turned from the federal workers going without pay to the head of the federal government barely working. my special report on trump's light schedule and what it means. we're back in 30 seconds. are creating the future. ( ♪ ) so, every day, we put our latest technology and vast expertise to work. ( ♪ ) the united states postal service makes more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country, affordably and on-time. (ringing) ( ♪ ) the future only happens with people who really know how to deliver it. now we turn to a "beat" special report on a trump potential scandal hiding in plain sight. the government has been shut down for 31 days.
there is mounting evidence that trump's work day has been shut down far longer. stretches of time when he avoids doing most of the work of the presidency. what you're about to see is actually central to this era and how trump approaches this job. we're seeing a new low in presidential work ethic in contrast to recent presidents who kept far busier schedules. >> it's a hard job. it's difficult. >> you know, nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the oval office. until you've sat at that desk, you don't know what it's like to manage a global crisis. >> it's now clear trump was not prepared for the demands. as a candidate, he pledged hard work, stamina, and no more golf. >> i love golf. but if i were in the white house, i don't think i'd ever seen turnberry again. i'd just want to stay in the white house and work my ass off. to be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina. you have so many different things you have to be able to
do, and i don't believe that hillary has the stamina. >> if you don't have the stamina, if you don't have the whatever that is that you have to have, the country's in trouble. >> tonight we can report trump is failing his own stamina standard in at least three ways. first, he comes in late and golfs a ton. second, when he does arrive, he spends a lot of time watching tv instead of working. and third, he's failed to choose many key appointees. take a look at trump's official schedule here. he hasn't shown up for a single meeting before 10:45 a.m. all month. and several other days the very first item on trump's schedule was a 2:30 p.m. or even 4:00 in the afternoon. this is normal for trump. it's not normal for any other president. we compared other periods when trump's schedule was available like last october to obama's schedule on october 16. trump didn't even start his day in the oval office until after 11:30 a.m. on average. that's over an hour after
obama's average start time, around 10:15. not a lot of stamina. but another way to put this data simply is trump only made into it the oval office by 11:00 a.m. less than once a week, 18% of the time while obama was in by 11:00 a.m. most of the time, 72%. or you can forget other presidents and compare trump's work day to, like everybody else, because while the federal government and congress and wall street and most employed people have been at work for about 2.5 hours coming in at 9:00, trump is just getting started. most americans work longer hours than this low energy president. so if you're watching this, and you have a day job, the odds are you work longer hours than the president. and we checked, and trump kept up this summer friday schedule, not only during the shutdown, but also during october as america was rocked by those assassination bombing attempts.
>> explosive devices sent to a number of democratic leaders and public servants who had been critical of president trump. >> there are people that are very angry at these people because of what president trump has said. >> this has been a rough day for the democracy, rough day for american politics. >> we need to track down this bomber, because it's more than just the envelopes. >> while that was going down, trump never had anything on his schedule before 11:00 a.m. all week. one day he didn't start until 1:00 p.m. so that's all about how trump shows up late. then there is what he does once he's in the office. the answer is often absolutely nothing. trump will block out time to watch tv and hang. this is known as executive time, like one of those days during the october bohm scare trump had, quote, nine hours of executive time. this involves unstructured time trump spends tweeting, phoning friends, watching tv. this is basically trump's version of netflix and chill, expect he does it alone and prefers cable news to "stranger
things" or reruns of "the office." trump aides say even though he may be at home or in the office during executive time, it involves work because he calls staff or colleagues, and there may be calls, but we also checked, and there is plenty of tv watching. what trump sees on tv he will then post on twitter. so if trump staff are trying to hide his tv watching with executive time, he ends up telling on himself by tweeting fox news items in nearly realtime like a border patrol shout out that got a trump tweet within the same hour. >> from a border security perspective, 2018 is shaping up to be a great year. >> or when trump walked back his administration's support for republican house vote on surveillance because he saw it criticized on fox news, part of an executive time session where he clearly was not on the phone with his colleagues in congress. >> i don't understand why donald trump is in favor of this. his woes began with unlawful
foreign surveillance and unconstitutional domestic surveillance. >> there are more examples like that, and that's when trump claims to be on the job. then there is his record-breaking, self-enriching promotion of his golf courses. after two years, trump's played about 138% more golf than obama, and you know too much golf is bad for a president because trump said so. >> obama ought to get off the golf course and get down there. i mean, he's played more golf than most people in the pga tour. >> everything's executive order, because he doesn't have enough time because he is playing so much golf. >> i love golf, but if i wither in the white house, i don't think i'd ever see turnberry again. i'd just want to stay in the white house and work my ass off. >> that's false. trump's back ban to turnberry three times, as part of the 166 days golfing at trump properties. he has also averaged 80 days more golfing than obama when you compare their first two years in office. fox news has not come down on
trump for this hypocrisy. that would require addressing their own. >> the leisurely life of our 4th president, the man who will no doubt set records for the number of rounds of golf played while in office. >> president obama, you have a problem. you have a problem with golf, and it's getting weird. >> then there is the third way that trump is a president mi missing in action. his failure to fill these posts that only the president can fill. a third of pentagon jobs, vacant. 43% of jobs vacant at the state department. that includes 25 ambassadorships. forget hiring the best people. he is not hiring any people. >> i know the best people. i know the best managers. i know the best deal makers. >> i have the smartest people in this country lined up. >> i'm going to get the best people for the job. >> i have great people working at the white house. they don't get enough credit. have i some tremendously talented people. >> we're two years in now. we can count it up. donald trump won't do the work
of vetting and picking people for these key posts. and some things can't be hidden by executive time or blaming washington. these vacancies are key. they expose how when a task is left up to the president, it doesn't get done. trump's low energy governance means the chief of staff and four cabinet level agencies have no confirmed leader, plus this 37% of post vacant, plus key posts handling nuclear defense, nuclear energy, homeland security, health care for military officials, food safety, and north carolina. you look on your screen. those are all each one of those important posts vacant, because only the president can do it. and more broadly, this means less accountable staff make bigger decisions because the president refuses to do the work. so you see those headlines about momentous decisions, sometimes falling to anonymous staff from when to drop bunker-busting bombs to how to order killings via drones. that all falls into the
bureaucracy. the point here is it's not ideological. if you oppose trump, you might be happy that he is not making these decisions or picking more people in his image. if you support trump, you might be upset that he is so uninvolved that he is not putting his stamp on so many powerful posts. this is deeper than that. this is about the risk posed by a president who is essentially mia overseeing a partially mia cabinet, managing what are now hundreds of mia posts in our federal government which is of course currently completely shut down. this is important amidst all the other stories. this is the risk of mixing inexperience, apathy and arrogance in the white house. the inexperience was obviously known. trump never did public service before he ran for president. the apathy was part of trump's con. he claimed he quit golf and worked hard, and maybe some believed him. he hasn't done either. and the privileged arrogance is wearing thin. trump likes to act like it will
all work out when the pain is borne by other people. but those other people now number in the millions from this shutdown, as i was just discussing with senator boxer. many people want to divide us by ideology or identity or location. this boils down to whether you care about the u.s. government or not. if you do, then left to right, you might be wary of giving the keys to someone with no experience or demonstrated service. just like if you cared about the super bowl, you don't take the ball from tom brady and give it to a disrupter who has never thrown a game before. or if you care about your heart surgery, you don't roll the dice on someone holding a scalpel who is not actually a doctor. you take it all together, being president is harder than football or surgery. if you had any doubt, just look at what happens when you put someone in charge with no experience. things happen. and sometimes you can find yourself heading in a new direction.
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new fallout tonight over bob mueller issuing a rare response to that buzzfeed article that reported michael cohen had told bob mueller's team he was ordered to lie to congress by trump and that mueller would have evidence of that. let's be clear, while that buzzfeed report dominated the news on friday, including i should mention right here on "the beat," it was being covered everywhere. but then mueller in a very rare move issued a statement saying that the core of the buzzfeed report was, quote, not accurate. let get into what went wrong. i'm joined by margaret sullavan and former new york editor of "the new york times" dealing with the media and when the press makes mistakes. what did the press do wrong here? >> well, you know, there is a lot we don't know here there are some things we do know. we know what the buzzfeed story says. we know that the editor of buzzfeed, ben smith is standing by it, as are the reporter, so i think we have to keep that in mind. but we know that the special counsel's office has issued a
statement that some people think is very carefully parsed and some people interpret as a complete knock-down of the story. >> well, wouldn't a better article have managed to include some response or discouragement from the special counsel's office had they had a more full discussion of what the claim was going to be? >> so we've now because of "washington post" reporting actually seen the e-mail that was sent to the special counsel's office from jason leopold, one of the buzzfeed reporters. and, you know, i'm not the first to observe, but i would agree that it was very general. it was short. it was not a sort of no surprises note, because it didn't fully explain what the story was going to be. so i agree with you, and i think it's important to say that if it had done that, this would not have probably -- probably not have played out the way it has. >> that alone being a costly error. >> yes, yes. >> bob mueller himself has discussed something that many
people who report on the law investigations know which is this is different than other areas because so much secrecy is required. it can be difficult to even get a background or off the record rebuttal of no, that's wrong. take a look at an earlier mueller talking about that. >> with freedom of the press comes an inherent tension between government and the media. those of us in government appreciate that tension as one of the positive aspects of an open and a free society. though i sometimes have to remind myself of that when i do pick up the newspaper in the morning and read some of the stories that have been written about the bureau. >> well, you know, there is a tension between government and the press, and that is a good thing. that doesn't mean that when there is a story that's disputed that it is fake news, as the president is trying to say. >> sure. >> and that's -- there may well be things in the story that
aren't right, although ben smith would say that's not the case. but what it isn't is trying to falsify something. i do not feel confident of that. >> what you and i call the secondary press which is all the second websites that respond to the article and all the television reporting that responds, did we overdo it in response? >> yeah, i think so. you know, everybody said if true, if true. but nevertheless, it dominated, it dominated the news all day. and that's, you know, it was too much. but, you know, we don't ever seem to really learn that lesson. >> well, isn't that a lesson we learned originally from the gritful dead on shakedown street? maybe we had too much, too fast. >> very true. the grateful dead are wise. >> and it applies to whiskey as well as salacious stories that haven't necessarily been fully vetted, although that's part of the process. the other part is ben smith and others were interviewed on air which then becomes part of the
story as well. >> right. it's interesting to see one of the reporters has said we're getting more information that this is true. so, you know, i haven't fully made my mind up how this is going to come down, but we're going to know soon because michael cohen is going to testify publicly before the congress on february 7th, and then we're going to know a lot of the answers here. >> margaret sullavan, i appreciate you being here as a bit of an ombudsman and leading by example. thank you for being here. >> thank you, ari. >> fitting in a break, because then i want to show you all on this mlk day an important video of mlk. (avo) life doesn't give you many second chances. but a subaru can. you guys ok? you alright? wow. (avo) eyesight with pre-collision braking. standard on the subaru ascent. presenting the all-new three-row subaru ascent.
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casinos back in the '80s with insights on the image, the manufacturing, the talk of deals and how it all really went down. i'm excited about that. i hope you'll join us at 6:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow. but don't go anywhere because "hardball" is up next. towering ambition. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. and while he was pitching the american people to make him president, was he also pitching putin for a trump tower in moscow. that is the astounding suggestion from the president's own personal lawyer. an interview on the "meet the press" yesterday rudy giuliani admitted the president had continuing conversations about building a trump tower in moscow as far as october or november of 2016. right up to his election. he
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