tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC May 24, 2022 9:00am-10:00am PDT
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good day, everyone. this is "andrea mitchell reports" in washington. in georgia, president trump's grudge match against brian kemp, who refused to go along with trump's georgia 2020 conspiracy theory, could produce a big setback for the former president. trump's hand-picked candidate to challenge the sitting governor, former senator david purdue is trailing far behind. in another twist, trump vice president mike pence, a possible 2024 competitor himself, campaigned with kemp last night. >> when you say yes to governor brian kemp tomorrow, you will send a deafening message all across america that the republican party is the party of the future. >> if kemp should win, it's a rematch with stacey abrams who lost narrowly to kemp in 2018. the former president's other big push in georgia is for
congressman hice to unseat brad raffensperger, who in a phone call famously repeatedly refused to, quote, find the 11,780 votes that trump needed to win georgia. the call has prompted a grand jury investigation into mr. trump's alleged attempts to steal the election. one race that trump can feel confident about is georgia's senate race. on the republican side, former heisman trophy winner herschel walker comfortably leads. another big race for republicans is in alabama today, where conservative congressman brooks, a speaker at the january 6 rally, recently lost mr. trump's endorsement but is surging in state polls. there's a big runoff for democrats in texas.
he is trying to hold off a 29-year-old progressive. joining me now, steve kornacki and kristin welker. steve, first to you. last tuesday we had a wild night in pennsylvania. still to be decided. what should we expect in georgia when the polls close this evening? >> in georgia, the polls are pointing in one clear direction, in the governor's race, the average of all the polls shows brian kemp the incumbent more than 20 points ahead of david purdue, the trump-backed challenger. one of the keys is this is a runoff state. kemp's challenge is not just to get more votes, he wants to finish this off tonight, get more than 50%, win this thing outright. the polls suggest that kemp has a very good opportunity to do that tonight. obviously, that's the marquis
race in georgia. i went past it. you mentioned walker, widely expected as well to win the republican nomination officially for the united states senate tonight, would put him in a general election race against warnock. this is the race that will keep us awake the longest. this could be the most suspenseful. these are candidates who are not as well-known statewide. there are more variables, more wild cards here. you mention the dynamic, brad raffensperger, the incumbent, the drama that surrounded him in the wake of the 2020 election, donald trump's phone call to him, hice, a member of congress giving up a congressional seat to run for secretary of state, you don't see that too often. that's at the urging of donald trump. two other candidates as well.
isle ran for this before. could hice knock off raffensperger? is this a situation where nobody gets 50% and a runoff is triggered? do we have a raffensperger/hice race that takes a few weeks and takes center stage? the stakes would be very high based on what we saw after the 2020 election. you saw the importance of this office. the outcome of this election could be key to the 2024 election. certainly not implausible. that's the drama in georgia. you take a look, you mentioned it in texas as well, we have that runoff down by the border, the 28th district. this is the result from the preliminary election. nobody got to 50%. there was a third candidate that kept them from hitting 50%. we will get this settled tonight. the new dynamic in south texas though, in this district and along the border, used to be democratic strongholds. general elections were a forgone
conclusion. this is heavily hispanic that swung dramatically in the republican direction in 2020, dramatically away from democrats and towards donald trump. there are republicans who believe especially if cisneros emerges with the victory here tonight, that this could be a republican pick-up opportunity, one of several opportunities deep in south texas. that's a new dynamic in texas and american politics. an interesting one to watch in the next few months. the other piece of big unfinished piece in texas, the bush dynasty. george p. bush did make the runoff. look at that gap in the preliminary. paxton almost two to one ahead of bush. bush a gigantic underdog. there was a time when george p. bush was supposed to be the future.
unless he can pull a rabbit out of the hat tonight, he could suffer a big defeat statewide in texas. >> he went against his own family last time and endorsed president trump. let's talk about alabama, steve. what's going on with brooks there? >> you mentioned that. what an interesting dynamic. he began this race as you mentioned with the endorsement of donald trump. fell behind in the polling. fell behind mike durant, brent, was running in third. that's when donald trump withdrew his endorsement. since that moment, as you see, this is the average of the polling, he moved back up ahead of durant, into second place. alabama, a runoff state. if nobody gets to 50% tonight, then the top two would go to a runoff. vaughan hillyard has been reporting that last night, mike durant said, if brooks makes the
runoff against britt, he will back brooks. it's a very interesting story here. brooks goes from third in the polls, being renounced by donald trump, to now having a chance to make a runoff against britt. if he makes that, now potentially having the endorsement of the third candidate in this race and a chance to win the republican nomination. extraordinary turn of events. >> indeed. steve kornacki, thank you. that's a perfect setup for our own vaughan hillyard in alabama. he is covering that big republican senate primary. he has mo brooks with him. vaughan? >> reporter: i think steve set up this race well. that's why we wanted to make sure we came here to alabama. i want to bring in mo brooks. what is interesting is that two months ago, when donald trump unendorsed you, we have seen your poll numbers rise. why is that and what would your message be to president trump?
>> before i touch on that, let me welcome you to the number one best place to live in the united states, according to u.s. news and world report. i had to put that plug in. with respect to donald trump, he is his own man. he will do whatever he wants to do. we can't have a strategy based on what he may or may not do. >> reporter: why did you go up in the polls? >> we were able to start campaigning more aggressively. britt has tons and tons of special interest group money, mitch mcconnell money, coming out of kazoo. she was able to launch her attacks early on. we had no ability to respond. now that we have gotten out i'm the only conservative in the case, she's not a conservative, mike durant, he is more of a john mccain republican, that messaging is what caused voters to take notice. mo brooks is our guy. >> reporter: has donald trump's
influence waned? >> i don't think so. there are varying degrees of influence. in the state of alabama, by way of example, in senate races, he endorsed two out of three times, they have not done well. one out of three, they have done well. we tend to be a pretty independent group in alabama. >> reporter: mike durant told us last night if it's you and britt, he will throw his support behind you. will you throw your support behind durant? >> it's going to be durant and i in the runoff. i don't want to endorse my opponent in the runoff. i hope you can understand that. we will see how things play out. both of us have reached certainty. britt has shown a remarkable degree of dishonesty in this campaign. her team has. we don't want that in the united states senate. >> reporter: i want to hit on a second. out of the three, you have served in congress. folks know you because you are one of the five republican congressmen who has been subpoenaed by the january 6
committee here. there's a doj investigation into the january 6 attack here. what did you know? are you willing to sit down for a deposition with the january 6 committee? >> you have asked a bunch of questions. let me emphasize and underscore the first thing. the people running for the senate on the republican side, i'm the only one that has held any public office, elected office. okay? i'm the only one with a track record. >> reporter: will you sit with the january 6 committee? >> under terms and conditions i believe are more appropriate, i'm willing to consider that more so than them trying to subpoena me in the midst of a campaign. they wanted me to be in washington, d.c. taking up a full week last week. that wasn't going to cut it. they have to do this in public. this is the public's business. no more of this secret, clandestine stuff where they leak information. if congressmen want to question me, it need to be congressmen. >> reporter: tell me then -- i think the public has a lot of questions. they heard what you said when
you took to the stage with body armor on and said it's time to take names and kick ass. why did you have body armor on that day? what did you know? >> because of the threats that we had discerned related to what may transpire caused by black lives matter or antifa. it had nothing to do with pro trump supporters. not in any of the rallies i have heard about with donald trump has there been violence that later on ensued. to emphasize this point, when i got back to the capitol where the actual violence occurred, i wasn't wearing my bulletproof vest. never occurred to me that what happened at the capitol would happen. >> reporter: do you regret stoking, by using those words, by stoking the crowd there that ultimately led to that attack? >> you are distorting my remarks when you said that. let's be clear. we have had a barack obama federal judge who has entered a court order saying there's no plausible argument that can be advanced that my conduct had anything to do with the attack
on the united states capitol. that ends it. okay? >> reporter: that is -- >> let me finish my remarks. you are taking out a snippet out of one sentence in a two-sentence paragraph. look at the preceding sentence that shows i'm talking about the 2022 and 2024 elections and beating republicans in those elections. >> reporter: you had said that people in the past had given their lives for this country. people need to be prepared to do the same. i was standing outside of the capitol that day. we were ill-equipped for what happened. there was an attack on the u.s. capitol, clearly you had information that led you to put body armor on that day. why did the rest of the public not know? >> the information i'm talking about related to left wing elements engaging in the kinds of attacks -- >> reporter: why not sit down with the january 6 committee? >> let me finish. >> reporter: why not sit down with the committee and say that? >> are you going to interrupt me? if so, you tell the camera what
you think i ought to say. >> reporter: i'm interested why you will not sit down with the january 6 committee. they have done hundreds of interviews. >> i have tried to go through the steps required. most importantly, it be done in public, not be secret. >> reporter: you would do a public hearing? >> there you go. you interrupted me again. there are four parts to all this. i get past one, sometimes two, and you interrupt me before i can conclude. there's another bigger picture with respect to this january 6 committee. my judgment, along with the other republican colleagues, it's a propaganda effort. it's not an effort to discern the truth. if they wanted to discern the truth, then they would have done what we have done throughout the history of the house of representatives. we would have had a bipartisan committee where the democrats select their people, republicans select their people, and they combine so that you get all viewpoints from all the witnesses instead of a one-sided sham that's designed to impact the election in 2022. that's all it's about. >> reporter: you didn't vote for the independent january 6
commission? >> it wasn't independent. it was a sham because the different procedures and processes that were involved in there. >> reporter: you told me, just back two months ago, donald trump was urging you to, quote, rescind the election in the fall of 2021, that he believed he was going to have a way back into the white house here. did he acknowledge to you -- >> that's aren't my words. >> reporter: you did tell me that he wanted to rescind the election after labor day. >> donald trump did use in our conversations the word rescind. he did talk about being reinstated. if you had an election stolen from you, you would also want to be reinstated so that justice is done. what donald trump talked about with me is not illegal in any way, shape or form. the you are news media wants t it. he has the right to have his view. his view is he ought to reinstated because it was stolen from him in november of 2020.
this is overwhelming to me. he has never said that -- to me that joe biden, if all the lawful votes cast by eligible american citizens were counted, donald trump has never said that joe biden won. in my judgment, if only lawful votes cast by eligible american citizens were counted, then donald trump won the electoral college. if you want to spend an hour or two going through that, i'm more than happy to do so. be ready for what you hear. >> reporter: i would be happy to sit off of camera. >> let's do it on camera. >> reporter: we will go on camera and have a sit-down. were you in the war room on january 6? >> no. we will talk about the 2005 bipartisan commission on federal election reform that warned us 17 years ago that elections were going to be stolen if we did not address the systemic flaws the bipartisan commission and federal reelection reform identified headed up by jimmy carter, president of the united states, and bybaker.
read that report and see how the democrats exploited that to steal an election. the number one issue was, don't send out ballots where we don't have a good chain of custody so we can't track who is casting them. watch the documentary. that will go into that. that will explain why the ballot is so bad. >> reporter: there is no proof that the election was rigged or that it was stolen. >> i didn't even rely on that. the big problem that i saw was the 800,000 to 1.7 non-citizens that voted in 2020. that's a big issue. >> reporter: there's no proof that that existed. >> you have not done your homework. look at the national voter registration act that makes it illegal for our voters -- >> reporter: why don't -- my last question. why not sit down with the january 6 committee and provide
such evidence? >> i have talked about terms and conditions. the main thing is to make it public. we don't want to do any more in secret, clandestinely where the public cannot see what's going on and where the commission, which to me is a witch hunt, getting out there and leaks bits and pieces in order to further a political agenda that may not have anything to do with the truth. if you want to do something with this witch hunt committee, make it public where the public can see what's going on and seeing firsthand what the witnesses are testifying to. don't do the public's business in secret. >> reporter: congressman, thank you. >> he is as fiery as i have been with. >> reporter: one of five republicans subpoenaed by the january 6 commission. none have cooperated. >> i haven't been subpoenaed. i haven't been served anything. >> reporter: they said they subpoenaed you. >> they haven't served me anything. the subpoenaing -- >> reporter: the congressman said he has not received the subpoena here.
potentially, if it's public, would sit down here. at the same time, he is potentially going to be in a runoff to be the next senator and serve a six-year term. we were talking about the objection of the 2020 election, you were the first to object to the 2020 election results. richard shelby, the retiring senator did not object. this is a changing landscape in 2022. >> i hope this conversation confirms that we in alabama, we dare defend our rights. >> reporter: congressman, thank you. andrea? >> i think it confirmed a lot of things. thank you very much. vaughan hillyard in alabama with congressman mo brooks. i think there was an invitation if not a subpoena. let's pick it up from that extraordinary interview. kristin welker is at the white house. she will be co-anchors with chuck todd tonight all of the coverage on nbc news now. looking at all of the races, but
let's start where vaughan left it off. >> reporter: it was an extraordinary interview. i think you heard a couple of things. obviously, mo brooks is leaning into the now false proven theory that the election was stolen by former president trump. no surprise there because he was, of course, at the january 6 rally. vaughan pressed him on that. on his words, does he regret them? stunning to hear that exchange. no regret based on what we heard from mo brooks. big picture here, it's striking that former president donald trump endorsed him, withdrew his endorsement and now we see him surge in the race. he is, of course, running against katie britt, a former staffer to senator shelby, as well as mike durant, someone who has name recognition. he is a veteran. he was portrayed in the movie "black hawk down." this is certainly a race to
watch for all of those reasons, but also because it is a test of the trump endorsement. without trump's endorsement, he is surging. that's notable. that's significant. you have to go to the race for governor in georgia. that's really the biggest test of the potency of the trump endorsement. the fact that he endorsed david purdue, who is trailing by 20 or 30 points, depending which poll. brian kemp, who has the support of establishment republicans, who has the support of former vice president mike pence, that race has to some extent become a proxy war between former vice president mike pence and president trump. i think it was notable that pence, who was campaigning with kemp, said a vote for kemp is a vote for the future of the republican party. really trying to turn the page on the so-called big lie that has fuelled the candidacy of mo
brooks, fuelled the candidacy of david perdue. you have voters in georgia signaling they are set to reject that and to not give any credence to the trump endorsement. of course, the rga has poured money into this race to support david kemp as well. there's no race that former president trump has poured more money, more than $2 million, or personal capital into than this gubernatorial race in georgia. he distanced himself in recent weeks, overnight only calling into an event for david perdue, andrea. >> thanks so much for picking that up. you can join her along with chuck todd for the election night special tonight at 8:00 eastern on nbc news now. joining us now is shannon mccaffrey, sara riggs amico and charlie sykes.
shannon, let's talk about georgia and what you see there at the state level with david perdue. is there any way he would get into this runoff? is brian kemp so far out in front, at least according to the polling, against donald trump -- >> all the polls show brian kemp really comfortably ahead. it would be quite shocking to see david perdue pull off a runoff at this point. it's been interesting, because brian kemp has really -- has been trying to turn the page. that does seem to be resonating with voters here in georgia. the hard core base of the republican party still loves donald trump. but they are terrified of stacey abrams as gore november. they are looking to brian kemp for electability, too. he defeated stacey abrams once. they are hoping he can do it again. >> sara, i want to play some
comments that david perdue made about stacey abrams after she said in an interview that georgia was the worst place to live in the country, it was all in the context, of course, of citing the georgia is number one, she said, in maternal mortality rate, in incarceration rate, very high, as well as some of the other key indicators. without that context, he grabbed on the sound bite. let's see what he had to say yesterday. >> did you see what she said this weekend? she said georgia is the worst place in the country to live. she ain't from here. let her go back where she came from if she doesn't like it here. the only thing she wants is to be president of the united states. she doesn't care about the people of georgia. that's clear. when we saw in '18 what she did and said, a blue wave, we will do it with document and
undocumented, i don't think a lot of people understood, when she told black farmers, you don't need to be on the form, black workers in hospitality and all this, you don't need -- she's demeaning her own race when it comes to that. >> how would georgia voters respond? how are people there responding to the comments? >> first and foremost, as a white, wealthy man, i don't think david perdue has any business invalidating the experience of black women in the state. particularly with respect to some of the statistics stacey mentioned. in georgia, we have the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation. three times the national average. it's 50% greater for black women. that puts black women in georgia with a higher maternal mortality rate than women in iraq as an example. the sad thing is the statistics that she pointed out, maternal mortality, gun violence, lack of access to mental health care,
lack of access to health care, closure of our rural hospitals, those are all the same statistics that we campaigned on in 2018. the reality is, republican rule here, brian kemp, they have done nothing to improve the state. i'm sure if you are brian kemp or if you are david perdue, sitting from a point of privilege, the world looks different. if you are in a rural community, poorer communities, communities of color throughout the state, there's a lot of room for improvement. stacey will protect rural hospitals from closure, expand medicaid to provide affordable health care to more than half a million georgians who have been caught in the medicaid gap. there's a lot we can do to move forward. the fact remains, republicans, with 20 years of rule in georgia, haven't gotten it done. >> charlie, let me circle back to vaughan hillyard's extraordinary interview.
you were listening. talk to me about that. >> first of all, what a great job vaughan did. trying to get -- >> exactly. >> trying to get answers out of mo brooks. what an extraordinary story. he had gone all in on the big lie. only to be thrown under the bus by donald trump when he wouldn't support the immediate reinstatement. a couple of things. number one, a reminder that even without donald trump's endorsement, what you were hearing was a very trump-ified candidate. there's a lot of analysis of the results tonight in georgia. donald trump is going to have a very bad night. this is still a political party that has to swim in the world that he has created. mo brooks is deeply invested in this lie, whether or not he has
donald trump's endorsement or not. a fantastic job by vaughan hillyard under very difficult circumstances. it was amazing to watch it live. >> to say the least. fact checking in real time, never easy and on the spot. thank you very much. thanks so shannon, sara and to charlie. joining us now is cianti reed. thanks for being with us. this is the first statewide election under georgia's new voting law, which reduced drop box hours, increased voter i.d. requirements, barring volunteers from providing refreshment, giving the state to overrule county decisions. tell me what you think might be
the biggest change and how it might affect today's race. >> andrea, there are so many changes that we have seen as a result of the anti-voter sb-202. that starts with intentional efforts to make it harder to vote by mail. we have seen applications rejected at 11 times the rate of rejections from june 2020. we are already seeing extraordinary numbers of absentee ballot rejections. we know only 39% of voters who have their application rejected end up voting later in that election. so we are already seeing in real time the results of sb-202. also, other things like folks
who vote in the wrong precinct won't have their ballot counts if they voted before 5:00 p.m. today. a host of other issues both predictable and totally avoidable that will prevent or delay georgia voters from becoming registered or casting their ballots today. >> what about the automatic registration system in georgia? it was broken for 15 months after an update on the department of driver services website in january 2021. no longer registering drivers by default. has that had an impact? >> yes. we saw a decrease of nearly 40% in registrations that would have come in through the automatic voter registration system. it's really egregious the secretary of state hasn't done the due diligence to make sure
that those errors didn't happen in the first place, if they were paying attention to the system. it's their job to make sure the state voter registration list is accurate. it's their job to make sure they reach out to the potentially hundreds of thousands of georgians who weren't able to register to vote through that system or who weren't able to update their address to be able to vote. as i said, it's so important your address is correct, because if you vote in the wrong precinct before 5:00 p.m. today, your ballot won't be counted. these issues are tied one to another. it's really the responsibility of the secretary of state to make sure that the list is accurate and that they do the due diligence to make sure that the people who weren't registered or who may have had registration issues through no fault of their own had those corrected.
>> i wanted to play stacey abrams' reaction to the comments we referred to. joy reed asked her about her saying, with full context, that georgia was the worst state in the country to live in. let's watch. >> i think it was inartfully delivered. my point was a point i made many times. my passion in making this point is important. we are listening to brian kemp give a narrative about a record that does not reflect reality. >> do you think that's going to trail her through the fall and this could be a campaign ad against her? >> i don't know. i will say this about what former senator perdue said, georgia republicans need to answer for what he said yesterday. he is the former senator from
the state. if kemp or anyone in their party believes what they said about stacey abrams is wrong, they need to say so immediately. they need to do it today. we have heard kemp folks say, this makes it easy for them. they are celebrating the rhetoric that david perdue said yesterday. they are making political points without condemning this behavior. if you don't condemn this, how can you ever represent the people of georgia? >> thank you very much. thanks for being with us. we'll be right back. on a trip. book with priceline. you save more, so you can “woooo” more. - wooo. - wooo. wooooo!!!!! woohooooo!!!! w-o-o-o-o-o... yeah, feel the savings. priceline. every trip is a big deal.
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and start trading today. we have breaking news on an alleged plot by an isis operative in the u.s. to assassinate former president george w. bush. it's part of a long-running investigation. there's no threat, i understand. joining me now pete williams and frank figluci and national security analyst. what do we know? >> it's clear now from reading the court documents that there never really was any threat to the president. this is certainly a person who wanted to try to do harm to the president but never had the capability to do anything. it's quite clear that the fbi initially got interested in him because he was trying to smuggle people into the u.s. for money.
there's no suggestion, when the fbi began to pay attention to him, that he was trying to smuggle terrorists in here. he just wanted to smuggle in people who were not otherwise legally able to enter the country from iraq to make money. according to court documents, he is from iraq. he entered the u.s. in september '20. there's in indication that he himself committed visa fraud. that's when the fbi began to have two undercover operatives talk to him, constantly record conversations with him, when he discussed his idea about bringing people in here to make money. then as the conversations went along, at one point he begins to talk about his connections to isis. he says he drove trucks and vehicles around iraq that had explosives in them that were used to attack americans. whether that's true or not, there's no suggestion in the court documents.
that's his claim. as months went by, he said he wanted to bring in four or five or six iraqis who would be willing to join him in a plot to assassinate the former president. at one point in february of last year, one of the undercover operatives picked him up and they went and drove past the bush compound. according to court documents, he made a video with his cell phone. the court documents say he never sent it anywhere because he was afraid that it would be intercepted by law enforcement. that's pretty much it. there's no suggestion that any of the people he wanted to get here to do this were ever smuggled into the u.s. no suggestion that he had any firearms or capability to do this on his own. it's just an idea that he had in his head. he never did much with it. nonetheless, he has been arrested. he is in custody. he will be appearing in court this afternoon where he lives in
columbus, ohio. he will face these charges, andrea. >> thanks to you, pete. frank, of course, the former president has full secret service protection at all times. the fbi was all over this, right? >> there were. some some notable takeaways. we have not seen the last of isis or isis-related bad actors out there. in fact, some of the names this guy was throwing around, if he indeed had affiliation with them, are known players or former associates of hussein. they are out there. secondly, there's a connection to the border here in the sense that he was planning at least to get people through the border with mexico to do bad things here. there's even some reporting here that he may have or at least bragged about possibly having smuggled somebody in through the border. lastly, there's clearly use of
encrypted messages, social media messaging. it shows the challenges and the successes of federal law enforcement in overcoming the threat. they are using an encrypted app. but the fbi gets around it, thankfully, by inserting into this once they get word of the plot. what if they aren't gotten around the encryption? what if this was continuing and surveillance turned into planning, plotting, acquisition of material and the fbi could not get around the encryption? it's a constant battle against technology. >> indeed. pete, in the hearing today, is it likely they will try to hold this man? >> absolutely right. he will have an initial appearance. this is -- i think it will be a criminal complaint, not an indictment. he won't be making any plea today. you can bet the government will seek to have him held as a danger.
>> thanks so much to pete and, of course, to frank. a closely watched texas primary race pitting congressman henry cuerre, whose home was raided by the fbi, against rising progressive jessica cisneros. the only anti-abortion member of congress in the democratic caucus. cisneros, an immigration lawyer, has the backing of warren and oac and sanders. >> finally being held accountable for his votes. having to explain why he has been voting the way he has been voting. it's not just his voting against the women's health protection act, but he has a track record of almost 20 years of being anti-choice. >> nbc news senior capitol hill correspondent garrett haake
joins us from texas. this is a runoff. it's the third time they have run against each other. what are you hearing the party establishment is backing him because they think he would be a stronger candidate in a general election in texas. >> reporter: that's part of the reason why he has been won so many times down here in this district. it's interesting, because the abortion issue is the one that popped over the last couple of weeks that put this back on a lot of people's radar. it was helpful in terms of organizing for cisneros. this is part of the district that's cuellar's base. they look at his service in the community and his role on the appropriations committee, sending back money to the district as the kind of thing that kept him in good graces of voters here for so long. the issue of title 42 and border security has come up time and
again from voters here. the issue of abortion has come up. it's more on the back burner. in a district that's heavily latino, heavily catholic, there's nuance to the discussion. that's the way that cuellar framed it to me when i interviewed him a few weeks ago. listen to what he said in the context of this debate. >> i got two girls. i voted for planned parenthood funding, even though they say i haven't. i supported women's health. we might have differences on religion. i go to washington and represent my district and not my party. >> reporter: making this about the district's preferences and not about that specific issue is probably the pathway to victory for him. the other factor is the fbi investigation going on for some time. he said, his attorney said he is not a subject of the investigation. the fbi hasn't said it.
the fact that the investigation took place, this raid on his house and office several months ago, and we have heard almost nothing else about it has been on the minds of some of the voters who i have spoken to. some think it's politics. some say it's dirty politics. nevertheless, there's this active fbi investigation in which he plays some role. we don't know exactly what. that looms over a runoff race here. it could be a factor tonight. >> it's an interesting race. thanks for being here. coming up, follow the money. jared kushner and former treasury secretary mnuchin's travels coming under new scrutiny. what we know now thanks to "the new york times" reporting coming up ahead. this is "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc. od. with the farmer's dog you can see the pieces of turkey. it smells like actual food. as he's aged, he's still quite energetic and youthful.
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welcome back. in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, donald trump's son-in-law and white house advisor jared kushner made three trips to the middle east. that same day, treasury secretary steve mnuchin began his tour through the region where he was planning on holding private meetings with the heads of sovereign wealth funds, government-run funds of saudi arabia, emirates, qatar and kuwait, all future investors. he cut it short after the riot and did return to washington. his unusual trip at this time in the administration cost taxpayers nearly $288,000. according to those documents that you see there. nbc news has studies them after they were obtained by the non-profit citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington. the two men were trying to raise $3 billion for a trump program called the abraham fund for
projects in the middle east. that fund never materialized. it vanished when trump left office. as "the new york times" reports, kushner and mnuchin crisscrossed the middle east in the final months of the administration and launched competing competing private funds that used the same contacts while in office. while the three predecessors made a total combined of eight trips to the reover ten years in office. the apparent results when he went back to the private sector after the trump administration ended, according to "the new york times," within three months, his new firm circulated detailed investment plans and received $500 million in commitments according to previously unreported documents
prepared by the main sompb wealth fund, which committed $1 billion to him. kushner's new firm reached an agreement for a $2 billion investment from the saudis six months after he left government. joining me now is kate kelly who broke the story along with her colleague. let's start with the number of trips. 18 visits over four years to the prgs gulf compared to eight by his three predecessors over the previous decade. while jared kushner made ten trips. it seems highly unusual. talk to me about that. >> it's very interesting. thank you for having me on to discuss this in further detail. we counted 18 country visits. so if he flout to visit saudi and flew back, that was one
visit. in the context of the trump administration, the relationships in the middle east, and particularly in perhaps unushlly with saudi arabia were a huge priority. i'm sure you remember the first state visit in 2017 made by president trump was to riyadh. and that sort of diplomacy continued. so for kushner, being a big priority. those visits make more sense. for the secretary, you can imagine more trips to the region than his pred sets sorts made based on administrative priorities. however, 18 is a lot. especially a lot when you consider the fact, as you point out, shortly after leaving office, he puts together this private equity fund that comes in front of some of those very same countries sovereign wealth funds and asks for essentially private investments in his own entity. the other interesting thing we found is he put together a staff pretty shortly after leaving
office. including a number of folk who is had worked for him in treasury. others worked in the state department. and those documents showing his organizational roster were under scrutiny by the saudis as potential investors no later than april and perhaps before. fpz this was a separate story in april. it was made despite a panel's objections about his lack of relevant experience. he had never been an investment banker. that were obtained by "the new york times." talk to us about that. the treasury secretary had been in goldman sachs. jared kushner was in real estate and he gets $2 billion from the saudis. it looks like a lot. >> that's remarkable.
sure. it was to us too. so steven mahmoud nunes shin had a track record. he made quite a bit of money in that business. so the idea that the saudis would invest with him, putting aside the things we discussed about doing business so quickly after leaving office and whatever optical questions that may raise. from an investment standpoint, that makes a certain amount of sense. for jared kushner, he had been in the family real estate business with mixed results. some of the investments did well. then there was 5th avenue, which was the headquarters for kushner companies, which jared kushner top ticked by paying record price for the building right before the financial crisis. that building became an albatross for the company. jred had less varied
experience. it was mostly real estate and then some media with the new york observer. but also he didn't have direct private equity experience. the idea he gets $2 billion opposed to the $1 billion and there are other benefits that he gets including an investment in the private equity fund itself, but the saudi investment fund owns a portion of that actual fund. so they have say in what investments they make. that's quite a large stake that the saudis then take in an unproven private equity investment. >> talking about ethical questions. elizabeth warrens the doj to investigate. it just smells. >> as far as we can tell, all of this to our current knowledge, is legal. there's no admission on doing
business or seeking investments from the former government counterparts once you leave the executive branch. there's not a cooling off period on that. a lot of times we think about members of congress who have a cooling off period before they can lobby their former colleagues. but that doesn't exist in this particular case. >> thank you so much, kate kelly. extraordinary reporting. we'll follow up. someone could ask why is it ethical and legal. if it is. thank you very much. that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." a lot of election results. follow us online on facebook and twitter. chuck todd with "mtp daily" starts right after this. and the primary coverage tonight on msnbc starts at 7:00.
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