tv Deadline White House MSNBC December 6, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. we're one hour away from a deadline for the president to decide whether he plans to mount a defense in the house impeachment inquiry. all signs point to a white house more focused on what it believes to be friendlier territory in the u.s. senate with the house impeachment inquiry has rattled this white house and revealed an irrefutable trail of evidence that donald j. trump conditioned military aid for a nation at war on a commitment to investigate the bidens in a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. and house speaker nancy pelosi suggesting this afternoon that a decision from trump to stay out of the proceedings in the house will speak volumes from "the washington post," quote, anything they have that is exculpatory, this is their moment pelosi told reporters at the capitol. but they have a consciousness of guilt, and that's why they may not show up. we'll see. maybe they will. they have until 5:00 today.
the house impeachment inquiry will likely once again garner wall-to-wall coverage all day monday when the judiciary committee hears testimony on that blockbuster house intel committee report that revealed, among other things, for the first time a tantalizing list of phone records. it's the kind of evidence that has the white house unnerved and house intel committee chairman adam schiff in a new interview in the new yorker published today warns of more to come saying, quote, there may very well be a great body of evidence at the trial that's not available to us today. evidence that might result in cracks in that gop firewall. democratic senator chris murphy this morning hinting at the possibility of a crack or two emerging among senate republicans. >> have you spoken to a single republican colleague in the senate who's even considering voting for impeachment? >> yes. >> you have? >> yes. >> okay. would you like to name him or her? >> how many? >> it's a small list on one
hand. >> that may explain some of the new reporting in "the washington post" in the white house's urgent campaign to defend the president in the senate. quote, a white house spokesman said friday that trump welcomes a trial in the republican-led senate and plans to bring forward serious witnesses including the anonymous whistle-blower who sparked the impeachment inquiry, house intel committee chairman adam schiff, and joe and hunter biden. that's where we start today with some of our favorite reporters and friends. neal katyal, former acting u.s. solicitor general joins us. with us on set former managing editor for "time magazine" rick stengel is back. eli stokols. former u.s. attorney joyce vance at the table. and nbc and nbc john heilemann. john heilemann, you were there. this seems more like a symbolic prospect than a vote-counting one. you've got to get to 20 republican senators to convict him. nobody thinks that's a
possibility based on the politics as they are right now as we sit. but even one or two would symbolically sort of swipe at this white house on substance and on politics. >> i think, look, the reality is that that the white house is very focused on the number of republicans who vote for impeachment in the house and they're really focused on the number of republicans who would vote for convict trump in the senate. and anything that makes it not a party-line vote makes it harder for president trump to say it's a partisan witch hunt, it's all the democrats. and you remember republicans that break and the bigger the number on both sides, the worse it is for trump. they are going to spend a lot of time, effort, and energy over the next two months trying to keep those numbers as small as possible. it's possible now with the will hurd news from a couple weeks ago now i guess. i can't remember how long ago as time flies. it's possible you could have no republicans who vote for impeachment on the house side. on the senate side i think that the conventional wisdom now is
there is the mitt romney question on principle is there some chance romney would vote for conviction. and are the republicans currently up for re-election where the politics in their state could be that it makes sense for them vote to conviction to save -- preserve their re-election procespects. and i think for most vote counters those are the three most likely. none guaranteed to vote for conviction. but open potentially to having the politics sway them in that direction. >> this is obviously based on the politics at the moment. and politics, if we know anything, are carried out, you know, on quicksand. adam schiff seems to be hinting at the fact that there could be new evidence in a trial. the democrats essential certainly trying to brand the stonewalling as more evidence of guilt on the list of officials who have refused to testify may possibly make up another article
of obstruction. that sort of seems to be colliding with the geopolitical reality that russia, this is all as russia would've orchestrated it. i mean, what the republicans are co-signing is a russian disinformation campaign that put out there that ukraine meddled in the election. and a russian effort, it would appear, to keep donald trump in the oval office. >> maybe the democrats should subpoena putin to testify. >> well, maybe they should. i mean, no joke, maybe they should. >> and of course as the speaker says all roads lead back to moscow. but one of the things i look at the senate trial as it's meant to be educational. it's also the court of public opinion. if they peel off one or two republicans, i think that does tremendous damage to trump. people understand that this impeachment has always been a partisan thing. even though it shouldn't be and even though the framers didn't see it as that way. but if you do get a few people who out of their conscious say, look, this guy is being impeached because he has violated the very premise of
office. he's abused the public trust. that's why i think the indictment actually should be brought. i think it should be much broader than just the phone call with zelensky. it should be about obstruction of justice, which we've seen from the beginning. >> and they're drafting those articles right now. you know, i am constantly haunted by a conversation i had with an outside member of trump's legal team around the mueller investigation who said all that matters are the senate republicans. doesn't matter what mueller finds. as long as there aren't enough senate republicans to vote for his conviction should that -- i mean, they had seemed to have been gaming this out and counting votes on impeachment literally since year one of the trump presidency. >> and they just don't really worry about the facts of the case that were presented over two weeks in the democratic hearings in the house. because they think that, you know, one, we've inoculated ourselves. trump's inoculated himself because he's got 40% of the country that's going to dismiss anything negative about him as being motivated by partisan
politics and a hatred for him and thus the trump voter. and that's why the republicans stay put. but, you know, in terms of this deadline that's coming up and whether they are going to cooperate, trump is about as likely to cooperate with the house investigation as he was to testify with mueller. but when it gets to the senate all the conversations at the white house have been gaming out that senate trial. they are not talking about, well, how do we defend ourselves against all of this evidence, the testimony of fiona hill or sondland. they're not worried about that. they're talking about -- they want to stage a tv trial, and they want to, despite no evidence of the ukraine conspiracy, they want to bring in people to talk about that. they want to bring hunter biden and drag him through the mud. that's what they want to do. they want to expose the whistle-blower and basically say, you know, regardless of any possible security implications to the whistle-blower themself, they want to put that person there because they want to be able to say this started from a partisan person who was out to
get me. that's the strategy. it's been the strategy the entire presidency. and it has prevented him and i think will prevent him ultimately from being removed from office. >> neal katyal, just reality check this for us. would mitch mcconnell have to decide that he wants it on him and on his legacy to out a whistle-blower? and what happens if the next president is not in his party? what sorts of precedence do you worry about when you hear a white house fantasy for a senate trial? >> yeah. i worry about the whistle-blower, one, in particular, nicole, because since 1777 our nations relied on whistle-blowers to come forward and give information. and if a whistle-blower, by giving information exposes herself or himself to a congressional testimony and public discussion and the like, the next whistle-blower's not going to come forward. these are really important people, you know, for our national security. so that's one thing. then more generally i really do worry about the precedent set,
you know, if this president can get away with trying to cheat on a foreign election with some help from foreign -- with attempted help from a foreign government, you know, it's not just this president. it's president -- what president elizabeth warren could do or bernie sanders or the like. and while the news is reporting today, oh, it's a remarkable that there is a handful of republican senators that might vote to convict president trump, to me the news is it's remarkable that it's only a handful. i mean, this is the most grave offense you could imagine from the standpoint of our constitution imaginable trying to cheat on your next election and not just with anyone but with a foreign government. and not just with any sort of harm but with harm, as you were pointing out at the outset, in terms of military aid that was necessary in the midst of fighting a war. and if there is only a handful of republicans who stand for that, i'm not sure that they stand for anything. >> well, i mean, can we just pull that thread out?
because it would seem that someone like bob corker who had the sort of fortitude to stand up to this president to call the west wing an adult daycare to talk about the grave danger that the country would face if rex tillerson would leave or who secretary mattis, hadn't yet thrown up his hands and walked away. corker talked about donald trump's lack of fitness. and corker i think was one of the tips of the fears that the sanctions fought about. letting the argument that letting donald trump get away with foreign meddling is exactly what vladimir putin and other authoritarian leaders around the world would want for this country? why isn't anyone making a foreign policy argument that if republicans still stand for america being an independent democracy, they should vote against foreign interference? neal? >> oh, that was me?
yeah. so it's remarkable to me that nobody is making that argument. i think pelosi has started on the democrat side, fortunately i think that's really between the lines of what she was saying yesterday, saying that this is about russia, and so she's trying to tie and tell the story more from a national security angle. but from the republican side all i hear is crickets. >> i guess, joyce, having done campaigns, if i wanted to do a campaign to expose the weakness of the republicans' argument, it would be why are you for what putin wants? why are you for what putin wants to happen in this country that foreign governments can reach deep into our politics, deep into our social media platforms, deep into the oval office, have meetings that aren't recorded or put into the system with the american president? why would you continue to green-light this? >> this clearly is not the republican party when you worked in the white house, the republican party that i grew up with that was so incredibly
against any sort of russian encroachment on american power. and from a local perspective, where we end up looking at this is that the republicans are getting away with all sorts of shenanigans that the democrats should be forcing them to tow the line on. democrats should, at every opportunity, be talking about cheating in elections, should be talking about doing putin's bidding. and we do talk about that in sum. but the difficulty in this whole process has been sustaining a narrative that the american people can wrap their minds around as easily as they can trump sloegans, make america great again. that's where the democrats need to go. >> i'm thinking about your trip to moscow and the minister of information. i forget her official title. it just seems that there are no new stories in the trump era. so this is a story again about accepting and inviting foreign interference. then on the other half he's likely to be impeached for obstruction of justice. >> yes.
and, look, to joyce's point and to your point i feel like i'm in a mobia strip in this administration because we have these discussions over and over again. it's the same topics and the same questions about the republican party. i am beyond the ability to address why mitt romney, the mitt romney in 2012 standing up in front of barack obama and saying russia is our main geopolitical adversary and being mocked on the debate stage by barack obama and democrats in campaign advertising. has now proven right about the importance of russia, about the se centrality of it, being beyond trump, being afraid of trump. his seat in utah is safe. he has nothing to fear other than some trump tweets. and, yet, the people i talk to on capitol hill still think it's a coin flip on whether mitt romney will vote to convict
donald trump. it is amazing that we are in this place and having this conversation, but it is the conversation we are having. and neal says he finds it remarkable. i find it remarkable too. but republican behavior on this front has been remarkable every day that donald trump's been in office. we are now in a situation where what is going to happen? >> i guess -- but before it was about him being a miss ongist. >> yes. but it's been about trump and russia and the republicans have been willing to look the other way as it was demonstrated in the obstruction of justice and the not criminal collusion but the collusion that was demonstrated in the mueller report. we are now in a situation donald trump last summer after bob mueller testified got up the next day, picked up the phone and invited foreign interference from zelensky. what is going to happen at the end of january when by all reasonable reckonings he is acquitted in the senate?
what is going to happen? what's going to happen is donald trump is going to go and look for foreign interference again. i guarantee it. he is going to try to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 elections and it will be from someone that is aligned with vladimir putin. those are as clear as the notions as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. yet, republicans right now, there is not a single one who will stand up and do anything about it or say anything about it. why? i don't know because the republican party's utterly bankrupt. >> it's a national security argument. i mean that's why we should all be making it as a national security argument. and the speaker should be making it as a national security argument. we should never use the word meddling. this was an invasion of our sovereignty. >> general hayden called it a political style 9/11. >> it's an act of war basically. they continue to do that every day. the second intelligence report said there's been more activity on the disinformation front since 2016 than there was before. so this is continuing day in and
day out. and he is bidding it. so even this story about him using unsecured cell phones. well, that's giving information to the enemy. and maybe that's even deliberate. that's happening every day. >> go ahead. >> but just doesn't see putin as the enemy the same way. if you want to understand why republicans are looking the other way, doesn't change public opinion, it's because this base of voters is enthralled in this cult of personality. they look at putin and they say what's so bad about him because he supports trump. supporting trump, in this case, is more important to these voters than whether or not he advances or threatens democratic values. >> i understand the politics of it. i have lived the ugly politics of the republican party. i regret some of those campaigns i was a part of. but i don't understand why republicans who know better, republicans with security clearances, who know how brutal putin is, who knows that he murders disdents and poisons. i don't know why richard burr
and rob portman and people with brains and knowledge go along with it. i get the republican base. i don't get why republicans who know better go along with it. and neal katyal, i want to ask you two questions on this. one, there is this sort of gop line that's out there that they're obstructing congress because it works so great for them. is it really working that great for them? donald trump doesn't really want to be impeached. and it's going to be added articles of impeachment as a price for the obstruction that's ongoing. >> yeah. it's unprecedented obstruction. and it is going to i think very negatively to them. the president has said no executive branch employee can testify, turn over a document. we've never had a president in our history do that. not even richard nixon. and now they have this 5:00 deadline, nicole, that you were pointing to as to whether or not they're going to cooperate in the final remaining sessions of the house investigation.
and, look, if they really had a principled objection to, b, if they really thought the impeachment process was so unfair, why city going up until the deadline for them to decide? fairness is you know it when you see it. it's a little weird that they've taken so long. but at the end of the day i think what this means is that there will be an article of impeachment as there should be for obstruction of justice. because, again, if you allow a president like trump or any president to say i unilaterally on my own am going to say no one has to cooperate with this investigation, and i get to label it illegitimate, you're undoing those clauses in the constitution which is so crucial to our separation of powers. that's why every president has not invoked executive privilege in impeachment investigations. and many presidents like president polk have said it has no basis whatsoever when you're talking about impeachment because that's about giving the truth to the american people. and donald trump is just afraid
of that truth coming out. and that's why he's gagging all these people. >> neal katyal, thank you for spending some time with us. we're grateful. when we come back, donald trump eliminating the step of even asking russia if they are listening with his frequent cell phone communications with his personal lawyer, rudy giuliani. new reporting from "washington post" on donald trump's insecure communications. also ahead, speaking of rudy, he's today wrapping up his latest ukrainian adventure as west wing officials a tracking system to keep closer tabs on the president's personal attorney. and looking ahead to monday's release of the justice department's independent review of the origins of the russia investigation. all those stories coming up. ♪
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there's a new degree of alarm today around the extensive communications between rudy giuliani and those white house phone numbers that were first revealed in this house's intel committee report. in a story today out in "the washington post" says national security experts now fear russia may have been listening in. imagine that. the extensive communications raised the possibility that moscow was able to learn about aspects of trump's attempt to get ukraine to investigate a political rival months before the effort was exposed by a whistle-blower report and the impeachment inquiry officials said trump and giuliani have effectively given the russians ammunition they can use in an overt fashion, a covert fashion,
or in the twisting of information, said john, a former deputy chief of russia operations at the cia. he and others have said that it is likely that russia tracked the calls of others that the kremlin probably knows more now about those conversations than impeachment investigators. joining our conversation former assistant director for counter intelligence at the fbi frank figliuzzi. frank, this just brings me back to that scene that was so vividly described in the mueller report and in other press accounts of saily yates heading down to the white house asking to speak to don mcgahn just getting settled in his office, probably didn't know where all the bathrooms were. and he was told that the president's national security adviser could be a blackmail risk because he had lied to the fbi about his conversations with the russians. why are we always in this position where russians have compromise on the american leaders? >> well, i think we are getting additional insight into this
because early in this administration, nicole, many of us thought, well, it's sloppy. and anybody who's been in sensitive government positions has encountered officials who say it's inconvenient, it's annoying operating in secure environments, encrypted communications, i don't like the quality, i don't like the hassle. well, we are well beyond that. the reporting now is not so much about that the president is blowing off secure communications devices but rather why he is doing it. he is doing it because he doesn't like the fact that it creates a permanent record that phone lines can be created, that you've got to tell somebody the substance and content of your conversation, that there's a record of what you're doing. he doesn't like it. so personal cell phones, personal other devices that he might be using, that's all about going under the radar. and so here's what that means from an operational standpoint. we keep focusing on russia. but let's please understand that's not our only adversary in the world. some of our allies will also
listen in. i could sit here and rattle off 10, 12 countries that i know are eavesdropping on the white house communications. >> who are they? >> no. we're not going to talk about that. [ laughter ] >> but is it a list of american adversaries? is that how one would guess who's on that list? >> i think when i get to the bottom of the list a lot of people would go holy cow, i didn't know that they were doing that too. it's that many countries that do this. and here's the problem with that. imagine -- we've all talked about, boy, i wish we could get trump's head. they are getting inside trump's head. they are listening to his personal confidential conversations. that's how you understand what somebody is thinking. and now if you can catch them at something that's blackmalleable, compromising, he is talking to rudy giuliani. he's got a plot about ukraine. he's got a new conspiracy theory. well, now you've got him. and you own him and it's not just russia that's listening. others are doing it too.
>> if i could just, you know, push beyond the what to why. i mean, is this tied back to all of this pro-putin conduct? is this tied back to his deep suspicion of his own intelligence community, his own fbi, his own, it would appear, pentagon and other national security agencies? >> well, look. there's reporting that when general kelly, when trump learned that general kelly was creating records of the phone calls used on the white house devices, that's when he went back to what he was doing. and he's doing it despite the intel briefings that allegedly demonstrated to him how easy it was to intercept his own personal cell phone calls. so you've got to come to the conclusions there is reasons why he's choosing to do this. and one might think that, number one, he doesn't care that russia or others are listening because he feels aligned with them and doesn't buy into the theory of adversaries. secondly, he does not trust the intelligence community. i think we have learned that over and over again.
we've learned from recent news reporting that he's told the people at dni when he gets briefings i don't think we should think like that, i don't believe that, so there's all of that. but at the crux of it is when someone is a dirty operator, they don't want to get caught doing it. and this method of communicating helps them evade capture. >> frank is absolutely right. this is the president who asked don mcgahn why do you take notes, right? he doesn't want any record of his activities. he flew by the seat of his pants as a businessman, engaged in all sorts of questionable kinds of conducts. he believes that he has supreme power under article ii. we now know that there are professionals like colonel vindman, like ambassador yovanovitch who will stand up who won't toll late that behavior. that must've been a shock to trump who was used to getting his way. and so as he engaged in this
course of conduct he tried to take steps that would make it unavailable to the people around him. ultimately if we tried to hold him to the same standard that he wanted to hold hillary clinton to, we would have to lock him up. [ laughter ] because between the two of them he is the much greater risk of national security. >> i want to ask you what the russians are doing. i wonder if they are bummed at all the money they spent in the '80s and '90s trying to come up with better spying tools when now they have trump. >> disinformation is an asymmetric warfare technique. >> but espionage. >> it's a lot easier because of the internet. i went to moscow. i was the last person in the state department to go to moscow before the election in 2016. russia is a hostile information space. they said you have to assume every single conversation you have is being monitored in some way. sometimes they even let you know that it's being monitored. they give you a loaner blackberry because they never want you to use an iphone which
umz sure these guys are using. and, again, it's not just sloppy. it's irresponsible. and, again, not to start a conspiracy theory like the russians do, but, i mean, is there -- is it possibly that it's deliberate? is it possible that it's like this is a way of trump communicating with the russians without actually having a phone call with vladimir putin and he's talking to him and he knows he's talking to him on these monitor calls? i don't know. >> it does, joyce, just kind of get me back to whether we are too easily lulled into the conviction of coincidences. gordon sondland testified and other state department witnesses testified to donald trump yacking away that it sounded like speakerphone in a cafe. i would bet my life been advised not to do that. >> look, there is no doubt it's drilled into you as a federal employee. if you're going to have that conversation, go into a skiff where nobody can listen to you.
so, like you i try to avoid conspiracy theories. but i think trump has done this so persistently and so pervasively that if it was a criminal investigation and you were looking at this evidence as a prosecutor, you would tell your agents. i'd be asking frank figliuzzi go back out and look at this because this doesn't look right. is it intentional? at some point you have to worry about that. >> god, i wish you two were on the case. joyce vance, thanks for spending some time. >> we sort of are on the case. >> in a weird way. >> thank you for spending some time with us. after the break undeterred by the federal investigation into his foreign business ties and the fact that his campaign to get the ukrainians investigate hunter biden is likely to get donald trump impeached by christmas. rudy's at it again on a trip to ukraine and working on that investigation into the bidens inside the unsuccessful white house efforts to reign in rudy. y i'm a verizon engineer, and i'm part of the team building the most powerful 5g experience for america.
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rudy giuliani is remarkably still at it. even as lawmakers drop articles of impeachment against his client, donald trump, his personal lawyer's es cappade in ukraine. giuliani met with one of the key ukrainian figures working to build a corruption case against hunter biden. that lawmaker posted a photo with giuliani, and the two of them reportedly set up a need to set up a joint investigation into corruption in ukraine, something giuliani tweeted about this afternoon. now the sure absurdity of the whole situation not lost on anyone, including, would appear, the people at the white house. "the daily beast" reporting, senior administration officials and national security brass began tracking giuliani's movements in an effort to get a read on his objectives abroad. better late than never, i guess. other officials in the west wing and numerous trump associates learned about his latest foreign adventure which included a stop
in ukraine by reading the news. many expressed exasperation at the threat of giuliani in the crosshairs of federal investigators continuing to cause headaches for the white house. joining our conversation chief public affairs officer from moveon.org and author of moving forward karine jean-pierre. here's the rudy question. i don't really care what he's doing there. but why does anyone think he's doing anything other than what the president wants him to do? we now have the phone records that show him talking to the white house. we've had gordon sondland testify. everything i did was at the direction of the president and what the president told zelensky to do and what the president told all of the white house officials to do was to work with rudy. this isn't a rudy story. this is a trump story. >> this is not about his lawyer, his personal lawyer. this is about donald trump himself. >> who is still running a dirt campaign in ukraine fthrough rudy. >> you have to think that rudy must be walking around with pardon papers in his jacket
pocket. >> clearly. >> he is so neck-deep in illegal behavior. and as you were saying this is on the verge, on the cusp, of the president getting impeached by the house. you have rudy giuliani in ukraine getting fresh information on how to interfere in our elections at the direction of the president. and i think, like you were saying, at some point it's not about rudy giuliani anymore. at some point it is about donald trump and how do you hold him accountable? you have to go through this impeachment inquiry. republicans need to step up here. we know it's not going to happen in the house. but as you guys started earlier in the show, the senate. where are those republicans for that senate trial? they have to step up and hold this president accountable. >> and there will be even more pressure on the senate. breaking news coming in just in the last couple minutes that the white house has answered the 5:00 deadline with 23 minutes to spare. the white house and the president will not mount any
defense in the house impeachment inquiry. eli, you've got the letter? >> this surprises absolutely nobody. [ laughter ] and it's a very tart two-paragraph. >> tart, really? >> it's basically that your inquirely has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness. house democrats have wasted enough america's time with this charade. you should end this inquiry now. no response to any of the evidence that was put forth in the house. basically this is the same political argument and drum beat we have been hearing from the white house. they say that adopting articles of impeachment, that would be a reckless abuse of power by house democrats and would constitute the most unjust highly partisan and untunl attempted impeachment in our nation's history. so, that's cipollone's way of saying we'll wait and play ball when it gets to the senate when we can, you know, show the rudy documentary that's being filmed in ukraine right now. [ laughter ] and just conduct a completely different sort of trump. >> reality.
so pat cipollone, the white house counsel, his predecessor don mcgahn spent 30 hours with robert mueller, had a different philosophy, it would seem about investigations, especially around serious things like foreign interference. what is cipollone's -- what is his mindset when the president has confessed to the crime and actually solicited an investigation into the bidens from another country, china, and the white house acting chief of staff, who i understand he's not a big fan of -- has also confessed to all the conduct under investigation by the house impeachment investigators. >> he's obviously not pleased with those comments. >> the confessions? >> but nobody can stop the president from going out before the cameras. mulvaney said what he said in the briefing room, had to walk it back. and all of the evidence is obviously problematic. if the trial was going to be about rebutting all the evidence. that's not what the senate trial is going to be about. cipollone's met with republican senators, jared kushner when the
brain at the white house sits down. they are not talking about we've got a lot of evidence against this, this is going to be tough. they are talking about we are just going to dismiss all this as partisan. we are going to say the president did nothing wrong. the aid got to ukraine, no harm no foul. and they're going to talk about the president was right to pursue this investigation because, and then they're going to put up whatever they can put up to show all the sort of questions and murkiness around burisma. and obviously investigators have looked at this, they haven't found anything. giuliani's with a prosecutor, a former prosecutor in ukraine right now who, you know, was removed because he wasn't investigating corruption. so this is really through that political kaleidoscope right now, and they are going to be presenting a case through the very pro-trump point of view. and i get that from steve bannon who's like a fighting this with a little podcast.
and i get that from mulvaney who confessed already and has to do some things, i guess, to make up for that. and trump who confessed and called for more foreign interference. this poor lawyer who works for cipollone who thought it was so bad. he put the transcript of this bad call that the cia had called about and that the doj had to look at in a safe that you hide like operational intel, like attacks in. but why is the white house -- because the legal arguments fall apart in a second. the argument against the investigations is that trump didn't actually want anyone investigated. he just wanted a press conference announcing the investigations. and the other legal argument is that trump admitted to all the conduct. >> so what's the question? >> what is this lawyer doing? >> he's not making a legal argument. >> the lawyer's another trump -- is not a lawyer. the lawyer is effectively the rudy giuliani of the white house. he's somebody who has taken this job and has what donald trump
wants. in the same way that bill barr is not a traditional attorney general. he is behaving as donald trump's attorney general, not the united states attorney general. and the white house counsel who is the kind of white house counsel he wants who will engage mostly in political lawyering rather than lawyer lawyering. i don't know pat cipollone, but everything we've seen, from all the official documentation, everything he is signing his name to in the course of this ukraine vision, that is clearly how he has behaved in terms of trying to execute the stonewall and trying to stop people from testifying. he regards this as a political matter. and that is entirely consistent. if you have someone like bill barr as your attorney general, it is not surprising that donald trump now has the equivalent, the mini me version of it as white house counsel. >> frank, i guess i just imagine in the smithsonian in 20 years in the impeachment exhibit all pat cipollone's ludicrous arguments, it will be an ipad. but, i mean, these legal arguments are so hollow.
and i guess heilemann makes the right argument fictional kinds of utterances coming from the attorney general. >> well, the other thing that i think will play out perhaps in the national archives someday decades from now that might be declassified is the role of russia in all of this argument. we keep using the phrase, oh, the legal argument, what's the legal argument they are going to use to defend themselves? there is nothing legal happening here. there is nothing that requires a jd degree to put forth in the senate in the upcoming defense of the president. what actually is happening here is the russian narrative. they are parroting putin's narrative on how to defend the president and this ukrainian nonsense conspiracy that even today rudy giuliani is still in pursuit of. and this ties right back to your last block, nicole, where we talked about the security of communications. if the russians know rudy's coming and what the plan is, they can parrot it back to him
and take him down a primrose path and give him all the conspiracy theories he needs through their cut-outs in ukraine. and when our members of congress travel to russia, what do you think's happening over there? they're getting briefed on the ukraine theory that putin wants put out. and when we see it happen in the senate, you better imagine them speaking with a russian accent because they're essentially parroting putin's theories. >> yeah. i've been talking about this since i've been on the show about what the russians do in ukraine and to piggy back on what frank was saying. you remember from the very beginning the russians argued that the protests in ukraine were sponsored by the cia and the protesters were fashits. they introduced all of these false conspiracy theories. i remember when the russians shot down the malaysian airline, and every day there was a new theory of the case. that was the ukrainian air force. it eventually ended up with the russian foreign ministry saying it was an american plane that
americans put 180 dead bodies in so it looked like it was shot down. they will put any conspiracy theory in the bloodstream because they know that some people will believe it and some people will cite it. >> did they know that donald trump would repeat all their conspiracy theories about 2016? >> well, they can dream, can't they? >> so sad. the watchdog for the department of justice will deliver his report on the origins of the russia investigation and is expected based on early reports to put a nail in the coffin of one of donald trump's favorite conspiracy theories. that story next. that story next. what'd we decide on the flyers again?
i think we're gonna swap over to "over seventy-five years of savings and service." what, we're just gonna swap over? yep. pump the breaks on this, swap it over to that. pump the breaks, and, uh, swap over? that's right. instead of all this that i've already-? yeah. what are we gonna do with these? keep it at your desk, and save it for next time. geico. over 75 years of savings and service. how did this start? how did it start? you had dirty cops, you had people that are bad fbi folks. i hope they now go and take a look at the oranges of the investigation, the beginnings of that investigation. >> it was an illegal
investigation. it was started illegally. and they got caught. what they did was treason. and if you look at what's happened with the scum that's leaving the very top of government, people that others used to say, oh, that's one -- these were dirty cops. >> a hallmark of the president's first two years in office was an all-out hot war against the leadership of the justice department and fbi. he called them dirty cops, crooked, accused them of treason, called them human scum. an unbelievable tirade that lasted two years and has flashes every now and then, all of it seen through his prism of a conspiracy theory. the agency spied on his 2016 campaign, a farce that trump called perhaps the biggest scandal in american history, an accusation that was echoed by his friends in conservative media. so watch this space. on monday we'll get the results
of inspector general horowitz's investigation into not the oranges but the origins of the mueller probe. we know from the "new york times" that the results are expected to undercut donald trump's claims and accusations of spying. "the washington post" says attorney general barr plans to dispute that finding. but "the post" also reports that his hand-picked prosecutor john durham told horowitz that he can't back up that conspiracy theory. he has no evidence to support it. the notion that the president was set up. so the question now is if what's been reported is accurate and the inspector general found no evidence of spying, will donald trump apologize to the people he called scum and dirty cops and accused of treason? frank and the table are back. frank? >> yeah, look, we have come to expect this behavior from the president. but what perhaps is the saddest part of all of this is now we've come we've come to expect this behavior from the attorney general. if the reporting is true and
what's ever been leaked is true that the attorney general intends to dispute the findings of his own inspector general. a neutral, objective fact finder who exists to do nothing but fa ferret out misconduct. he ignores that, he's ignoring the truth. it's okay to question the findings of an investigator. it's not okay to deliberately and repeatedly choose to ignore the facts. and now, with the reporting jon durham. ha handpicked to run the attorney general's personal inquiry into the origins of all this. if he is now telling the ig i couldn't find anything, then we've got a travesty of justice occurring and the attorney general has disgraced his office. so stay tuned monday. we'll see what the reaction is. we'll so if -- if, again, the attorney general's going to issue his own summary ahead of time. alongside. after. rebuking his own -- his own guy. and we'll see putin laughing at
all this as the department of justice points fingers at each other. >> you know, john, there's muscle memory here. william barr's first act as attorney general was to urcndert his own guy, robert mueller. and to pre-spin and withhold that report until his spin on it had seeped into public consciousness. >> that is a mild description of what took place in that instance. and the phrase that frank just used i like better which is disgraced his office. the history will record the way bill barr treated the mueller report as one of the great acts of raw political men dasty. and an exercise of enormous political power to undercut bob mueller and to shape the way in which the mueller report, with its devastating findings, was received by the public. it's one of the more extraordinary things i've ever seen in the time i covered washington. barr understood exactly what the limits of his political and communications power were. and changed the arc of history with the way which he handled the mueller report.
and thereby, totally doing as frank just said did not act as attorney general. this is a -- your word muscle memory is right. it's a replay of that. and all you need to know is that donald trump has spent months. months talking about how the durham investigation and the ig report would reveal that what it was -- the -- the crimes perpetrated against him. started with barack obama. tapping his phone lines. and the lisa page and peter strzok and andy mcable ae. he said it over and over again. bigger than watergate. that is what's going to happen. when we get this ig report and when the -- when the -- when the outside report comes back, this will all be revealed. now, it's going to be a giant -- not just a nothing burger but a repudiation of all those things that will lay bear in this report just how much all those things trump claimed were fantasies and lies and fictions.
and so of course what else is bill barr, given the way he's behaved in office, starting with the mueller report. it's the most predictable thing in the world. it's appalling and grotesque. and disgusting. but the fact that he's going to now take on his own ig and probably end up taking on durham in the service to the president, he has no choice. because he has behaved entirely as if he resides in a tiny little space in donald trump's pocket from the moment he got this job. again, it's disgusting but totally predictable because he has no other choice because it's tight in that pocket. not much room to move around. >> sure it. careen, i want to ask you about the human toll of donald trump's hate campaign against the former leaders of the fbi. and really all that tied pete strzok, lisa page, jim comey together. they were all investigating the russian attack on our democracy. >> you ask a question as well is the president going to apologize, right? for all his conspiracy theories. clearly, it's going to be a
wrecking ball to those conspiracy theories. he's not. i mean, that's just who he is as highland just laid out. the one thing that i would say is find a silver lining to this is you -- you do still have people who care about the independence of the doj. who cares that it is not a political arm of the president. and i think that is probably the silver lining. >> but are they winning? >> no because it's not going to change republicans' minds. this ig report. it's not going to change anything. but at least for us, we know that there's someone there who did the investigation. and who is clearly not in the pocket of donald trump. and said no. this is not true. this is not right. and what the president said is wrong. and essentially, is a liar. >> and it's worth mentioning to our viewers. and you know this and frank knows this. and we all know this. inspectors general are the like
dudley do rights of the government, right? they're incorruptible. they're looking for people who steal paper clips. i mean, you can't say anything to them that's going to influence what they're doing. so i actually think an ig report that comes out, republicans will understand. like, yeah, that's right. nothing did happen. this -- this ig -- >> to be fair, the early report suggests -- i mean, when you shine lights on an institution for three years, it's not a perfect bill of health. but on the question of the conspiracy theory that animates and ties together donald trump's view of 2016 with william barr's. is this idea he was spied upon. >> maybe that will come up -- they'll come up with small bits of malfeasance by individual fbi agents but this idea that there was a conspiracy, this theory of the case will be completely shot through. >> all right. we are going to sneak in our very last break. don't go anywhere. we'll be right back. k. don't go anywhere. we'll be right back. from james. that's just what i wanted. is this a new buick? i secret santa-ed myself. oh i shouldn't have but i have been very good this year.
figliuzzi. jon. that does it for our hour. "mtp daily" with chuck todd starts now. "mtp daily" with chuck todd starts now welcome to friday. it is "meet the press daily." good evening. i am chuck todd here in washington where moments ago the white house sent a letter. actually, met a deadline. sort of. they sent a letter to house judiciary committee chairman nadler telling him -- this letter was in response to this deadline on whether the president would participate in the inquiry. well, guess what? 5:00 came and what and the white house did send a letter saying,
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