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tv   After Words David Corn Michael Isikoff Russian Roulette  CSPAN  August 7, 2018 11:07pm-12:09am EDT

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shooting. it's the feeling of anxiety and uselessness love being able to do absolutely anything. there's only one other place that i felt that, the united states congress. it might sound like a funny remark but it's no joke. i've spoken with legislators across the board, representatives, mayors and not one single person is confident the one thing can be done about the 17 people who died in my school and many others who have died since. up next on booktv "after words" reporting on how russian hackers attack the presidential election interviewed by castro
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of texas. a program of guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors of the latest works. >> authors of the new book russian roulette. thank you for being here. let me ask you first how did you come up with this title? >> you are asking the right person on this one. we struggled through a lot of choices we are not going to reveal, but in the middle of the process, my 17-year-old daughter i think who was 16 at the time said dad, russian roulette. today she actually negotiated with me and wanted a subscription to "the new york times" crossword puzzle. we are getting off cheap here if
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that is what we have to pay. >> everybody that reads this book will have their own answer to the question but it's important to ask the authors, russian roulette is a book about -- >> guest: what happened in the election and how russia intervened in a much more concerted and sophisticated way than anybody realized at the time. also there is a lot of back story. we trace what is the lea led upt point to the rise of the cold war, tension between the united states and the development on the small side of a strategy of plan to basically wage information warfare not just on the united states but the
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liberal democracies to undermine the democracies of the west. >> you came up with a very digestible book and something that i and others spent hours receiving testimony. when i finished i said they wouli wouldshy would have just e book. i noticed in the beginning and in the end of the introduction had been the actor word. how did you pick the starting point but >> guest: you have donald trump in moscow and he's there to preside over the ms. universe pageant. but what is his real agenda to build a tower and secondarily
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part of that is to meet vladimir putin. >> host: >> guest: he was obsessed with getting a meeting and hoped he would come to the ms. universe pageant. he was told putin would be calling. he's only there for two days and one night. the afternoon of the pageant himself he's asking everybody around him have we heard from putin yet? he's obsessed with meeting with him. >> host: this is one of the big mystery is throughout the book. there'there is an element of au, psychologically he likes to wave that he runs his country and would aspire to run our country
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like this but to get that business deal -- >> host: and you know he'd been there before. >> guest: getting the greenlight from the top is a way to ensure that the project would go forward. >> host: it's not going to help get a project passed. for 30 years he'd been trying to get a project of one kind or another developed in moscow and it didn't happen. then he hooked up with a russian oligarchs. >> they are basically guiding him through russia and the bureaucracy so how does that
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unfold? a bit of a character and a pop singer whose last name is aguilera are trying to figure out as a pop star singer. being the son of a russian oligarchy wants to be a singer so they are trying to figure out how to do this and they say you should bring the pageant to moscow.
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they manage to negotiate this deal and the point is we talked a moment ago about how to build a tower but to do anything in moscow he had to cook up within oligarch said he's always in bed with a corrupt regime and he starts will putin be my new bsf when i bring this into moscow and at this time there isn't a question about what kind of guy he is. after being in power a couple of years and pulling things he's back in power, the chechnya
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human rights abuses, journalist dissidence routinely murdered in this regime, he's passed the law basically making it illegal and this is a few months before the annexation. it's whether he could be his friend or get a business deal. there is a sort of after story. it's an entertaining introduction to the world of donald trump, the world of vladimir putin and how they acted. one thing people don't appreciate when they are looking for a motive behind the story from the perspective trump signed a deal or the letters of intent betweeletter ofintent ben and the group. >> that is the closest that he got to seeing the development
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pass. >> it was a formalized arrangement. they are put in charge of the project. in february 2014 to scout the sites bu that what is happeningn february of 2014. he intervenes in ukraine. the united states and the european union and respond with sanctions including against a russian majority-owned they that was going to finance the trump tower project and it collapses. we quoted ron goldstone in the book saying that is what killed the deal, the imposition of sanctions. so if you are looking for at least an explanation why he was
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sent pathetic or hostile to the idea of sanctions, it killed the deal. that's an important insight to understand and appreciate everything that comes after. >> host: you talk about some of the characters in the book and one of them was rob goldstone who worked on michael jackson's bad. she was in npr and give us a hint to in the early part of the book. we talked about how i know he was in moscow he was obsessed with meeting putin and he was there for a limited amount of time. one reason he wasn't there is because the night before he flew in, he attended a celebration of
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billy graham 95th birthday. one of the leaders of the religious right in the states who also had been a birth but then he went and a day or so later while he was there he explained to rob goldstone they attended the billy graham franklin graham event. are you saying basically at that point that donald trump was running for president next
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>> guest: we knew he had talked about it a lot. there is a sort of after story epilogue even after the deal collapses, they see him in the first trump tower meeting, they need -- they need -- keenest telegraphing his plan to run for president tied in with the son of the connected oligarch and also another point on this
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advocate of this, you guys in the imposition committee and us on this meeting we will get to that. but who are the people that set that up? the e-mails are pretty clear the cast of characters that run through the story. the first meeting in january, 2015 he's sharing his ideas or the notion that he might run for president. what do you think he possibly did? >> guest: key told the whole power structure of moscow so it is like he' he is considering running and then 15 months or so later when the second meeting
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happens and the dirt on hillary clinton that is presented to the top of the campaign becomes initially from the father who says basically the attorney atty general has information he wants to pass on to the campaign. so you have higher levels of the government first being informed of this and while he is securing the nomination now signaling to the campaign we want to help you and do it secretly and it's coming through a channel that he trusts. his former business partner with whom he made millions of dollars with ms. universe. so, it's not just like coming out of the blue.
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these are his people in moscow. that's one reason why they took it so seriously. it is an incredibly high level this is coming from. >> host: to give you a sense of the mind going back to that meeting in 2015 when they walk into his office, donald trump is listening to this on and he says who cares, it has 50 million hits on youtube. it's the marketing -- that is how he measures his success. >> the idea that any press is good press. >> that is some of the development he was contemplating
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running for president and you start to have these oligarchs and others around him. but at the same time you also traced how russia and vladimir putin are becoming more aggressive and active measures. what are the active measures? >> guest: the soviets described what they did it of course we did similar things but basically, it was information warfare. planting disinformation for the purpose of exploiting political positions within the country. planting stories about how the cia was behind the aids virus or using the developing biological weapons in vietnam. there was a long history of this kind of died down after the fall of the soviet union but was revived by putin and his top
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people. one of the most important parts of the book is to reveal how the government had a source inside the kremlin during this period when all of this was developing in who is providinand who was pe insight into what's going on in the court including contempt for which the top people viewed obama and at the white house and often very crude racist terms, but the most significant insight the source provided was about the plans for information warfare in the west. cyber attacks, the misinformation, the undermining developing relationships with
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other entities and the right-wing xenophobic party. this is all laid out in the top-secret. one of the sad part of the story is that it depends get the attention that it should have. >> host: the intelligence committee did notice by a general to quote from the book on page 43 of this february the chief of staff of the russian armed forces published an article in a journal that they adapt the military strategies for the modern world. its received little attention but after they published a translation that u.s. officials
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took notice. here was a military leader proposing a new doctrine to shape how they could engage and do battle in the united states. what was he proposing? >> guest: it would be between fighter jets. you could wage the war from a distance. so he's talking about information warfare campaign, propaganda and cyber attacks which could be on infrastructure and so forth. to me what is the most chilling that became known as the doctrine he talks about the battle of the future to be waged by exploiting the population which means the divisions and the political conflicts and troubles of your target, of your
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enemy. and if you look at what happened with facebook, the social media campaign, the john podesta e-mails, all of those moves were designed to fuel and increase the intensity of the divisions already in our society. race from immigration, gun safety. trying to turn the party against valerie and make that more difficult for the democratic party overall. so they kind of nailed it. the data point is the secret service you have the doctrine you write about how in the story
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written by "time" magazine but in the spring of 2016 was a military intelligence officer whose intercepted and said we have a plan of revenge against hillary clinton and a reporter for "the new york times" writing in june of 2014 about the internet research agency and in december of 2015. he says you know all of those i wrote about a year ago they are now all out there supporting donald trump so we put all these points together and i know it's easy to look back in hindsight but there were strong indications that they were aiming for this. we cover meetings in the white house and has staff people they have no clue the intelligence committee happened a had put als
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together and told president obama, the national security staff something big is afoot. >> host: the initial reaction was this has been done before and there was something different about this approach, different from the past similar to what north korea did. what was the difference? >> cyber attacks have become a hallmark of the era including political attacks. remember in the 2008 the chinese get into the computer systems of both obama and the mccain campaign. but that was political cyber espionage. they were going in looking to get inside of who is going to be the next national security
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adviser. what will they likely do. this is what the agencies are supposed to do. and that's what they do routinely trying to understand the adversarial understanding of the foreign power and how the government works. what was different here is this wasn't just espionage, this was information warfare because what they did after getting in to the e-mails that gave them access to the entire campaign, they were using it for a fact. ..
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>> and this is all because of what washington is which is an astonishing moment in politics. >> with all of your research and interviews you get a why now? is it the advent of social media? >> that is a good question. so those measures are generated by the increasing
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adversarial position that we trace it back in the book in the middle of the arabs bring what united states have launched from libya and he begins to think with the regime change i may be susceptible. he thinks he could be next then there are legislative elections in russia and his party when. gnosis cries but there are accounts of massive fraud. and there are demonstrations. tens of thousands of russian hillary clinton criticizes the election and putin immediately
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blames her for instigating. this is like u.s. covertly trying to overthrow but one of the interesting things is we talked to people from the obama white house and form policy would get libya and their criticisms of 2013 when the obama administration tries to get to the ukraine putin says this is a plot against me and russia via marge this is for domestic political consumption and that we believe obama tried to overthrow but they decided yes
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he did he had a paranoid view of the world the expansionist view and he didn't believe he had to fight back to undermine the liberal order that he felt was attacking him. >> so this was a defensive action? >> and russia is not a great country and what social media does create asymmetries so they are pretty wired so he saw the development that this is a battlefront go toe to toe
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in iq mentioned early on a woman that work at the internet research agency. >> a russian whistleblower from the internet research but the first story is there is a brave woman who saw what was going on with the sony personas to be created and then put out on social media but one of the key point for her was murder of the most charismatic russian opposition leader that was ordered in the shadows of the kremlin and 20 for one -- 2015 was widespread
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suspicion about what happens the case was never resolved that she is ordered to put out this was a ukrainian hit job. she knows it's nonsense. but to say i have to go public she reaches out to a russian reporter and says i cannot take it anymore. i have to expose this and the story comes out. but back to those signals it was in the russian press and the american press and then they are honest and say what a day doing in our elections it was all they are. >> one the things we try to do and feel was to find somebody in the intelligence the. i just figure there has to be somebody knocking on doors to say here is something being
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here we are not paying enough attention that there are some analysts who saw this more clearly than the bush cheney white house. and then say give me a call but we never found. but they were outside the i at that point so i think we used the phrase in the book from the 911 commission with failure of imagination and an assistant so what we failed to
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tell the policymakers what we need to know obama and everybody else in that is important because we don't appreciate the brave journalism going on in other countries we think that is a monolith especially when the consequences are high in it could be fatal. >> i thought it was fascinating you describe how this woman comes forward in the russian press. but let me ask is the hero in this story? >> there are no heroes. people that saw that more clearly than others at the
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time in 2015 and 26 but the clinton campaign tried to call attention as much as they could fumigate were challenged on that narrative. >> of course because the e-mails were down to which was not flattering. the clinton foundation and pay to play and that internal machination and the failure to release her wall street speeches that bernie sanders challenges her and she refuses within the russians do that. so to credibly make the point that they were the victims because it looked like with
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that hitchcock even in that exaggerated sense that they are attacking them. so you say they wait anxiously. >> after the dump of the convention they know with the john podesta e-mail so every day of the campaign they are waiting to dump and they try to get other people but that is an act of deflection. so giving credit it is a big story that that environment is tough but a default the year
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and the reporters because the story without their from the beginning and i understand why political journalists focus on the content of the e-mail that they were very slow to pick up on this especially after the white house belatedly and then say yes it is a russian doing that statement comes out when a certain video was release and also the podesta e-mail. >> also the birthday of vladimir putin and happy before.
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>> that you all seem to give that assessment this is a fact-based account based on your research of public information that really isn't much of you on the soapbox i have heard you speak about this subject passionately so how hard is it not to editorialize that first and foremost you want to tell the story and the fact we have our own perspective but the power is it lays it out and we don't carry water for anybody in this book give a cold analysis of the obama weight white house that they try to figure
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out what to do. >> and where they disappointed ssl here to respond more forcefully even when people said we have to push back. >> he was worried it would look like he tried to tip the election. >> obama did not want to be perceived as political. and there is that element of his own self-image i don't want to be out there and be accused to try to tilt the election. >> and now we tell that story as they come up with a bipartisan on i don't like
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meddling intervention but and trying to get paul ryan in richmond, altogether to say this is happening in this is the stuff they had to take and we describe in the book called right was trying to work together but mitch mcconnell said this is bs. because the candidate were the nominee of his party of donald trump said this is not happening or it is a hope. >> as part of the election even after he has been briefed as the republican nominee and james further director of
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national intelligence said that that briefing all of this hacking and dumping going on chris christie is in the room. has no impact at all and they continue for weeks after that it is not happening in one thing we do say in the book, if you look at what is saying that he is aiding and abetting. i put this in the book but the way i like to think of it if you are told there is a robbery and you keep saying
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there is no robbery here. i can only hope the bank robbers i doubt very much those ages would figure out what documents but this is a cooperative arrangement to help them by making the picture confusing. if you are in moscow while the campaign is to out to you if i am putin i'm getting a signal. >> that i want to ask you about that because the country has been torn up for a while over the question of collusion and whether donald trump or
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his associates colluded or conspired with the russian and the 2016 election. if if somebody made the case for collusion what is that? >> to some degree the debate has been clouded. because you can't define it the way that you want to. we found no smoking gun evidence of a said agreement to work together. the aiding and abetting metaphor is a better one as it clearly was a conspiracy to attack our election and his people aided and abetted that and they did that in many different ways and they were not acting necessarily but it
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is kind of strange if you take a step back and look at those various connection that the campaign had with the russian cutouts. we talked about trump and his interest of doing a business deal. but paul manafort the campaign chairman he assistant secretary and the first victim and information warfare warfare campaign when she finds out manafort is the chairman he has been a russian student for 15 years. she knew this because manafort had been a major presence in the as a consultant to the
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pro- russian political party the pro- russia president collecting millions of dollars for that and with that chief assistant that we write about in the book that was unknown russian intelligence agent. and in the recent filing the fbi assess he has ties to russian military intelligence agency gr you. so manafort sticks the russian oligarch that we even and learn more about as the days go on. oligarch that was as close as anybody and also was had by
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the fbi because of the suspected ties to organized crime they were pursuing manafort for millions of dollars this is all while he is about to take over the campaign and how does putin respond? with his trusted deputy and then manafort respond with those private briefings on the campaign. >> think about what he's offering is offering information to putin you have to assume it will go elsewhere
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and starting june 14 in the day that the washington post reveals that the russians are behind it so any point place from that point on if you are reaching out to the russian you are working with or agreeing to help people there is strong evidence those that are attacking our campaign or election. it isn't just the business associate but giving information to go right to russian intelligence mac all of those people and mentioning in a fort like michael flynn
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and with the celebratory anniversary and pocketing $45000 a member of the policy advisory team gets invited to speak in moscow -- moscow and criticizes policy with various russian figures that they have strong insights to russian thinking. another form policy advisor meeting with the kremlin cutouts. and for what those russians supposedly have. actually there is quite a bit to make with that string when finances.
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but most people will wonder how you get all of these quotes with strong russian connections coming into the trump campaign? and then to learn his way. and then once they become members of and they try to entice them into better relations. not just better relations with russia but what george papadopoulos cause that communication channel.
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and then eventually manafort says that continuing with that context to create the back door shin. that this 29-year-old guy. so when they begin the investigation in july and up 2016 with that counterintelligence investigation. they have seen all this. so what are they up to?
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and then they seem to be cultivating those relationships. and what a foreign government is insinuating. and with those political campaigns and then after the democratic convention and with that realization that basically put together a swat team trying to figure out what's going on. and then the counterintelligence investigation.
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>> that this is after there is a lot of inactivity. the top leadership of the dmc that they are the victims of the hacking and according to your reporting the fbi when they contacted dmc they did something very peculiar. >> they go to a low level guy. [laughter] and they are referred to the outside contractor who is not cybersecurity but the guy that you call you try to get your e-mail restored. >> why did they do that? was that on their perspective? they've got lots of people have to notify.
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they got a long list. this did not necessarily about on the biggest to do. >> there were a lot of cyberattacks and from that perspective of 2008, the political cyberespionage, okay. >> they didn't tell us that with the intelligent gathering. >> that was not the top of the to do list and the fbi should have explained that better but also communication. nobody informs the top brass and this goes on from iniquity and see hires third-party but even then they are advised not to alert the hackers that they know this is a tough dilemma of cybersecurity.
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in the december 2015 not until april of 26 with nine excruciating months later that the dmp i see people figure out what it is the fbi was alerting them to although there were multiple calls during that time. and perhaps that comes in so legally they say you cannot tell anyone. it will take us a while to figure out how to get the groups out it turns out there were two. if you start changing your behavior then it will make a harder for us to get them out and it takes them 60 figure out how to shut down the system and get it going to
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make sure they are gone. this is part of the tragic story that they are still coming and going and is without, much of the material that caused the problem in the democratic engine which according to dnc officials, not that campaign that bernie sanders and his campaign because he clearly lost the race that was pretty typical conflict. he is not ready to move to the majority there is a lot of complaining and moaning and not really sure that it even happened that all that material is grabbed in the 60 and then later don't . . . .
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i think we discussed the meeting earlier, and this is the stuff that's public, with the offer was to the campaign. but i did send a signal. the dossier i will be waiting for your report and judgment is a mixed bag.
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it had a role there is no question of dismissing it because they did have a track record with the fbi. >> is a reputable officer. >> it was also paid for by the clinton campaign. i don't think that was fully understood by the fbi you can't fault them for not asking more aggressive questions how it is that he came to do what he did. the most sensational allegation that christopher steele doesn't even stand by that at that point says it is 50/50.
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in broad strokes he was onto something real which is there was a concerted rush an effort to influence and forge ties and work with the campaign. some of the details are yet to be corroborated. >> host: he came to that conclusion that predates the fbi investigation. so he had caught wind of something. one thing we haven't talked about yet is the first report that was admitted in june of 2016 he talked about one way they tried to cultivate him over the years is to dangle the business opportunities for him and we didn't know this at the time during the campaign in time for us to get it in the book the first few months while he was campaigning for president in
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leading the pack they were trying to negotiate another business deal in moscow. you just step back and think about that for a second. saying that he only cares about america first and he is refusing again and again to criticize putin in a bizarre series of statements with all of these media interviews, at that time he's trying to negotiate a deal that can only go forward. he never told the public about. it's been reported in our book. i still think the implication of that is pollution and a whole different way and then he said he had nothing to do with
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russia. >> host: october 7, i read that as the emblematic of the whole campaign. >> guest: the intelligence committee is talking about this for weeks and is going to put out a public statement and this could only happen with approval from the highest levels of the kremlin. they think in the white house this is going to be a bombshell, i'm precedented statement that will dominate the news and the rest of the campaign. what happens within an hour, the access hollywood tapes. and then within an hour or so the e-mails are dumped by vicki
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-- wikileaks. donald trump ends up winning in november. the investigation still continul continue in the house and sena senate. let me ask you this important question for the country. is this the last time we will see russia involved in a presidential election? election? >> guest: before we have the next presidential election we have something you care very much about the midterm elections and one thing we read about in the book that didn't get a lot of attention at the time is the russian operations, not just focused on the presidential campaign they attacked the committee that supports the candidates and dumped
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information that was for the democratic candidates the very key races for the d. triple c.. they influenced the outcome of certain races in florida and elsewhere and didn't get a lot of attention because we were focused on the presidential. so certainly that is a strong sign that if they care to, they know how to do this again. you don't have the security systems and it is easy with dark money based on information that was had. there's a lot of ways and that's where the money is in this political season. until we see the concerted
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effort and the next priority to stop this i think everybody should worry about some sort of a repeat before you can get to 2020. >> we will remain vigilant. congratulations on a great book.
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