tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC January 9, 2017 11:00pm-11:31pm PST
tonight, by the way, the senate is in session as democrats in the senate launch what is, in effect, a talkathon designed, candidly, to take up time all night long and to save obamacare. as you see there, repeal and ruin on the graphic. this is also the day we learned the president-elect's son-in-law of new york will be the senior adviser. more on that. a contentious hearing for one of the choices. for attorney general of the united states, jeff sessions. he's been seated before the judiciary committee before well before he was a u.s. senator.
ronald reagan nominated him as a federal judge and he was voted down back then, nomination withdrawn. that was 30 years ago, but some of the same questions may come out in addition to newer topics like civil liberties and immigration. one of his questioners will join us in just a moment, but first, at trump tower, the president-elect answered a few questions on senator sessions by reporters, including our own hallie jackson. >> they're going great. confirmation is going great. i think they'll all pass. i think every nomination will be -- they're all at the highest level. jack was even saying, they are the absolute highest level. i think they will do very well. >> there is some concern about jeff sessions in particular. >> i think he's going to do great. high quality man. >> new tonight, the "washington post" reporting that sessions did not disclose that he owns oil interests in alabama,
something that is required by federal ethics rules. with us tonight from capitol hill where candidly the democrats were working anyway as a member of the committee who will be questioning senator sessions tomorrow. connecticut democratic senator richard blumenthal, member of the judiciary committee. senator, have you determined how you'll vote in advance, and can you tell us the kind of questions you'll ask him tomorrow? >> i am going to make my decision once i hear from senator sessions himself in response to my questions and other colleagues, and the kind of questions i'm going to be asking will go to his record on civil rights and voting rights, on women's health care. he has denounced roe v. wade, which guarantees a woman's right to choose. and on other issues like religious freedoms, torture, where he's taken positions that i think are out of the mainstream, and of course his staunch and steadfast opposition
to any kind of immigration reform. those answers to those questions, and some others, will determine how i'll vote. >> is it jermaine to you that he was turned down for the federal bench by this same committee, though admittedly it has turned over several times over? >> brian, it is germane, because a public record, a man's career, his life's work, all of it is germane, but i'm going to be focusing on his most recent record. the reason, quite simply, is the role of attorney general in the united states of america is unique. it's a public trust. he has almost unrevealable discretion and power when it comes to charging, investigating, indicting and prosecuting individuals. and he must be now, in my view, at a time when our rights and liberties are threatened as never before, a staunch
champion. he must be able to stand up to his boss, the president of the united states, and say, no, you're wrong. what you're doing is illegal. you can't do it. and i want to judge and assess whether jeff sessions is going to be the champion of civil rights liberties that i think is so important. >> what's it like having a sitting member of the senate sit before you as the witness? you guys, after all, have to share hallways and elevators and little train cars on the senate subway underground. senator booker, for example, is testifying against senator sessions in. in a small club of 100, it must be getting pretty tight. >> we interact with each other daily, sometimes hourly, but also we have histories with each other. we have worked out together at the gym or attended prayer breakfasts or traveled, as i've done with senator sessions, all of those activities. but this judgment has to be on the merits of this individual.
we have a constitutional duty to advise and consent, because not only is the attorney general of the united states among the most powerful. as a matter of fact, no member of the cabinet is more powerful than the united states attorney general. but we have an obligation under the constitution to make that judgment on behalf of the american people and hold him or her accountable. >> for the folks who are going to be making the smart decision to join our coverage tomorrow morning at 9:30 when i'll see you next for the hearing, senator, can you give us a bit of a viewer's guide for the folks who don't follow the makeup of the committee? how many democrats, how many republicans on judiciary, and let's say all of you democrats do a party line vote, how many crossovers would you need to block a given nominee? >> well, that is an excellent question. i don't have the exact number, but the republicans outnumber the democrats, so they will have the say at the end of the day if they hold together.
obviously our goal is to persuade our colleagues on the other side of the aisle that our views are correct, and as yet, i've made no conclusion. but i'm hopeful that we'll all be open to listening and considering carefully the views of jeff sessions because his policies, his record, whether we have respect, liking, admiration for him, i think, are the critical determinant. our constitutional duty is to make a choice about whether this individual will be a champion of constitutional rights and liberties and will be able to stand up to donald trump soon to be president and say, you cannot do what you need to do, or we're going to have to indict someone who is a friend of yours, and sometimes there will be conflicts of interest where an independent counsel will have to be appointed.
>> that's why we say the gavel really falls on the pieces of the new administration. starting tomorrow morning, senator richard blumenthal of the senate judiciary community. thank you for joining us tonight from washington where we understand the senate remains in session. now to washington with the capitol in the background. she is the veteran of the cruz campaign. that's what brought her to our studio last, but these days she is a spokesperson for attorney general designate jeff sessions. sara, nice to see you again. there is a bit of reporting from the "washington post" that points out senator sessions, the would-be attorney general sessions, because of votes he cast in the senate had already been cast, done and dusted, finds himself on the wrong side of standing laws like same-sex marriage, hate crimes act, violence against women act, to name three. given those three, his new job would be as chief law
enforcement officer of the united states, and i presume you can speak for him on this. is he prepared to enforce the law of the land on these issues he voted against? >> he absolutely is. that is the role of the attorney general, is to enforce the laws that we have, something jeff sessions has dedicated his career to both as a prosecutor and state attorney -- state attorney general as well. his role as a senator is a policymaker, and to vote on what policies he thinks are wise. he understands the difference and he'll be discussing that at the committee hearing tomorrow. >> who would he say are his best democratic friends in the senate? we got one view of the closeness of the u.s. senate, if you will, from senator blummenthal. >> for example, senator mansion said he's already going to vote for senator sessions for attorney general. but i think you also should look at the bipartisan legislation that senator sessions has worked on with his democratic colleagues. for instance, senator blummenthal and he passed
legislation together, senator durbin, even including the late senator ted kennedy. i think when you see some of these senators from states that donald trump won this cycle who are up for election in 2018, they're going to have to look actually carefully at the law enforcement organizations, the victims rights groups, the civil rights leaders who have endorsed jeff sessions for attorney general and really wonder whether they should fall in line with their party or vote for what's best for the american people. >> we should point out that other civil rights figures have just ended a long, long sit-in at his office over this nomination. of all the questions he was asked and answered back in 1986, which we concede three decades ago, eons ago in the life of the senate, and in the life of the
senate judiciary committee which has changed hands so often, have any of the answers to the questions from back then changed the minds of the members of judiciary, any of his answers changed? should he be getting credit for his life lived, his time served in the senate and the 30 years that have passed? >> let's start with some of the facts. first of all, several of the witnesses there, one in particular, had to recant his testimony shortly after giving it. another was discredited later, and one of the senators, for instance, arlen specter, who voted against his nomination, said he deeply regrets that. another member who had worked with him for a long time, a member of his staff, came forward and said that he deeply regrets not standing up for jeff sessions in 1986 and that, in fact, his whole life regretted it and will never let it happen again. so 1986 was the first of its kind. it was the first time the democrats had used character assassination and smear tactics to take down a judicial nominee. it wasn't the last. they used it again on robert burke and they've since used it again. i think a lot has changed since 1986, but the allegations were false then, they're false now,
and i imagine it will come up tomorrow, and i imagine that senator sessions will say that they are, in fact, incredibly false still. >> you've mentioned a lot of the senator's colleagues on both sides of the aisle. here is another one. we'll listen to this together. this is cory booker, democrat of new jersey. >> i'm breaking a pretty long senate tradition by actually being a sitting senator testifying tomorrow against another sitting senator. so please understand, i think these are extraordinary times and they call for extraordinary measures. we've seen consistently jeff sessions, senator jeff sessions, voting against everything from the matthew shepard act, speaking out against ideals around the voting rights act, taking measures to try to block criminal justice reform. there is a whole spectrum of things in jeff sessions' own words represent a real threat to vulnerable populations in this country, and it's something i feel necessary to do everything
i can to speak out against. >> so sara, beyond the discomfort when those two next get into a senate elevator again, what say you, too, the litany of charges he just mentioned in previewing what he's going to say against the senator? >> there's a few things. i think we have idealogical differences about what the role of the federal government is. he mentions hate crimes. it's not the federal government's job to criminalize something that's already been criminalized. one got two life sentences at the state level. having so many federal crimes has actually turned into a huge problem, and for those who are for criminal justice reform, i'm surprised they are so eager to create so many federal crimes. but look, tomorrow at that hearing, this will be an unusual part of it, certainly. senator booker and two other african-americans will testify against senator sessions. they will not be able to take questions, and then we'll have
three african-american leaders who will testify endorsing senator sessions who have actually known him and worked with him for decades. so you'll have three people who have never really met him or worked with him for a substantial amount of time versus three people who have. i think again the american people will get to decide for themselves who actually knows jeff sessions' character and his 40 years dedicated to public service, upholding the law, ensuring public safety and fighting for the rights of americans. >> sara who was trained in a better than average law school in new england, thank you again for coming in tonight. >> thanks for having me. see you tomorrow. coming up after a break, son-in-law turned senior adviser, jared kushner's new job in the trump white house. this is "the 11th hour" on msnbc.
mr. kushner, are you going to fullly divest your family business? any concerns about the anti-nepotism laws, sir, in serving in your father-in-law's administration? will you comment at all, sir, on what you're going to do as far as the family business? >> welcome back. appropo, all of this. you might recognize these three names, karl rove, rahm emanuel, what do they have in common? they were senior advisers to the president of the united states. jared kushner, son-in-law of donald trump in new york, was seen at trump tower just after being named senior adviser to the president. he was there to speak with speaker paul ryan, and he told
kelly mcdonnell he wasn't sure yet how he would handle any conflicts of interest. he said he would divest, quote, substantial assets. ken vogel is with us. he is chief analyst for politico. she has covered three presidents. trump makes fourth. her book is called "at mama's free." mr. vogel, who is jared kushner, what world does he inhabit, and what practice has he had for the position he's about to take in the west wing. >> arguably donald trump's favorite offspring, his daughter ivanka trump. they have kids. he comes from a devout jewish family. he has converted to judism out
of deference for his faith, and he is one of trump's top advisers and has the unquestioned loyalty and confidence of donald trump. he played a role on the campaign that was sort of an uber adviser above all other advisers, and that's important for donald trump because donald trump likes to surround himself, or at least has a tendency to surround himself with kind of warring factions, advisers who end up clashing with one another. jared kushner, we've seen time and again, is one who decides who has won and who has vanished. we saw this on the campaign, the battle for the pre eminence on the campaign between cory lewandowski. kushner decided lewandowski was out. that's how much confidence he has from his father-in-law,
donald trump. >> two words uber and trump. we've lost our ability to use them in conversation because they've become used for something else. we'll work on that before their appearance. why is it a bad idea, according to some, to have jared kushner in the west wing? >> nepotism for one. two, we don't really know anything about him when it comes to philosophies, and he has no governance. you know, when you're in that kind of position, you're going to have to be able to navigate the waters of both conservatives and liberals to be able to make things happen. and we haven't seen that yet from him. he may have been on the hill today, but that's still one piece of a very large puzzle. also we are hearing that he is very much known for his philosophies in israel, but we don't know what those philosophies are. and nepotism in a conflict of interest is a huge issue, one of the main reasons why people are having a problem with the fact that donald trump's son-in-law
will be senior adviser in this administration. >> ken, you can just see this debate, can't you, between the establishment and the newcomers? there is a whole standing army in washington, especially people who have been in and out of the west wing, who believe you should know there is a desk officer for every country over at the state department with an expert who does nothing else but study that place. you should know what a detailee is in government speak. you should know your gs rankings, who works where and who were the cabinet officers and supreme court justices going back decades. not everybody does, it's not everyone's thing. there is a case to be made for fresh blood and starting new. >> yeah, and for donald trump in particular. i mean, this is so foreign to him. the dichotomy you just laid out between people who are government veterans and those who are kind of new to this, that's donald trump.
donald trump has never worked in government. but he does have people around him who he trusts, and it will be their job, not necessarily kushner's job, but reince preiber, it will be his job to decide when donald trump comes to them when a decision needs to be made, who will be speaking with who dovetails donald trump's interest. he knows donald trump and that's an important thing in any white house, his experience or lack thereof notwithstanding. >> april, i have to hold you to 30 seconds but i need a preview. is the sessions hearing going to be the most contentious we will see this hearing season? >> very contentious. when you have a senator who is actively serving right now, to
go up against him and also a civil rights icon like john lewis going to testify against sessions, you better bet it's going to be on tomorrow. >> april ryan, ken vogel, veteran journalists, and now we're happy to say veterans of this broadcast as well. thank you both very much for staying up with us on this back-to-work monday for us. coming up, what will he say about the new guy? our late live preview from chicago where tomorrow night the president gives what is being billed as his farewell address. this is "the 11th hour" on msnbc. y pause a spontaneous moment? cialis for daily use treats ed and the urinary symptoms of bph. tell your doctor about your medicines, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, or adempas® for pulmonary hypertension, as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. do not drink alcohol in excess. to avoid long-term injury, get medical help right away for an erection lasting more than four hours. if you have a sudden decrease or loss of hearing or vision, or an allergic reaction, stop taking cialis and get medical help right away. ask your doctor about cialis.
last thing before we go tonight, a preview of what is being billed as the farewell address of the 44th president of the united states. barack obama will speak from chicago tomorrow night. our own chris jansing is here with us tonight with a preview. chris, good evening to you, first of all, and happy new year, and begin with a viewer's guide. what is the venue people who tune in tomorrow night, what are they going to see and where? and more importantly, you've been talking to obama's aides. give us some idea of what we're going to hear. >> it's going to be at mccormick place, a convention center here. 14,000 people. hottest ticket in town maybe over the weekend. you saw people standing out in sub-zero temperatures. he is coming home. it is here that he got his start as a community organizer. that's going to be part of the theme, the power of the individual. he's also somebody who knows the power of a great speech.
he came to our public consciousness in 2004 with that phenomenal convention speech, and he wants this, aides tell me, to be a great speech. so for the last couple of days, he has been working on it intensively. it was kind of an idea that first germinated in the summer. his speechwriter went to hawaii with him, and i talked to him for quite a while today. he's got the tan to prove it. he did a first draft. didn't give it to the president until he got on air force i to come home, and he's only been working on it intensively, the president has, for the last couple days, and a lot of aides have told me they wouldn't be surprised if he would pull an all-nighter. a lot of people are wondering, will this be aimed at donald trump, and i think people who want him to take on the president-elect are going to be sorely disappointed. and it's not going to be just aimed at the people who are disappointed in the outcome of the election. so i think it's going to be a surprisingly optimistic speech,
in many ways having echoes, brian, of his first campaign, telling people that you need to get out there, you need to get involved. >> veteran white house correspondent chris jansing tonight from our chicago bureau. chris, thank you so much. we'll look for you tomorrow night. that's our report for tonight. my thanks to nicolle wallace for sitting with us last week so i could get away with my family. she'll be back with us later this week, but for now that's my broadcast for tonight. "hardball with chris matthews" featuring a surprise celebrity guest starts right now. streep targets trump. this is "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington where the action is. i come to you tonight in the aftermath of a stunning political event. it was last night's devastating critique on the public conct