tv MSNBC Live MSNBC January 12, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PST
that will do it for this hour of "msnbc live." i'm craig melvin. my colleague katy tur picking up coverage right now. >> another busy day in washington. breaking news. a washington, d.c. watch dog launching into fbi's action. mr. trump's cabinet. the president-elect picks his picks for cia, housing and cia are on the hill. >> can you assure me he that not a single taxpayer dollar that you give out will financially benefit the president-elect or his family? >> i will absolutely not play favorites for anyone. >> what plan will you have to go
in and reassure the people who work at the cia? >> i am confident that the central intelligence agency will play a role for this administration. it has for every previous administration, as providing powerful intelligence. >> we have the president-elect disparaging the intelligence community, questioning its conclusions and questioning its motivations. >> i have very, very high degree of confidence in our intelligence community. i would not have taken this job if i didn't believe the president-elect would also be open to my input on this or any other matter. >> we begin with breaking news in washington. the justice department inspector general launching an investigation into potential misconduct by the fbi in regards to how it handled hillary clinton's e-mail investigation ahead of the election. a ground-breaking move that will likely send shock waves beyond next week's inauguration. to be clear, though, this will not affect the fbi's decision not to prosecute hillary clinton. her former national spokesman
says the investigation could set some wrongs right. >> the inspector generals are independent. their job is to follow the facts wherever they lead to oversight and due diligence. so, this is the one person that is capable of holding the likes of jim comey, who has a ten-year term, and is otherwise fail fairly independent, he's the one person who has ability to hold him to account and get him to answer questions. this will give people have the opportunity to have questions answered and at the end of the day restore confidence and right now the tarnished reputation of the fbi. >> the white house, meanwhile, is refusing to take a position on the probe. >> i can tell you that the white house was not involved in that decision. and anything the inspector general chooses to investigate is something that he will do -- he or she will do, based on their own view of the situation, based on their own knowledge of the facts. hopefully they will follow
whatever -- follow the evidence where it leads. if they find any evidence. >> just two days ago fbi director james comey was subject to a testy back and forth on capitol hill when testifying about russian hacking during the election. >> you didn't say one way or another whether even there's an investigation under way. >> correct. i don't -- especially in a public forum, we never confirm or deny a pending investigation. >> the irony -- >> i'm not saying -- >> the irony of you making that statement here, i cannot avoid. >> nbc news justice correspondent pete williams is following the latest from our washington news room. and kasie hunt is on capitol hill. pete, let's start with you on this. senator lee was just talking to our colleague craig melvin, and he called this relatively routine. would you call this routine? >> no, i don't think so. i mean, it's routine that the inspector general can look into the performance of justice and fbi officials, but this is a very wide-ranging list of things that michael horowitz has set
for himself to do. he says he's doing this because of calls from members of congress, from the -- from the public, from various organizations to look into how this was handled. not the investigation and the prosecution, per se, but the way certain statements and announcements about it were made. so, these are the five things he says he'll look at. the allegations that policies and procedures weren't followed in how the fbi director made his announcement july 5th that said, we're not going to prosecute her, but being critical about hillary clinton's handling of e-mails. allegations that an fbi deputy director should not have been involved in certain investigative matters. allegations that the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs of justice improperly disclosed some nonpublic information. frankly, i think those two points are among the least important of these. allegations that department and fbi employees improperly discussed nonpublic information,
ditto for that. and then the other big one. allegations about the timing of the letters that the fbi director sent to congress. the one in november -- or october 30th saying, we foundational e-mails on anthony weiner's laptop. we need to look at them. the subsequent letter november 1st saying, we looked, we don't find anything pertinent to the investigation. michael horowitz, the inspector general, says the use of twitter to publize the same. the questions he set for himself, were these decisions influenced by improper considerations, were they based on improper considerations? it's going to take him, obviously, some time to issue his report on that. now, inspectors general can only make recommendations. they're independent of the department. they can merely say what they think -- the policies, the way things were handled were inconsistent with justice department practices and traditions and make recommendations, including whether people should be
disciplined. the decisions about that would then be up to the new incoming attorney general, who it seems to be is going to be jeff sessions. >> the question is, if he does find allegations or substantiated allegations of misconduct f he finds there was improper announcements made before the election, and this goes to the trump administration, to would-be attorney general jeff sessions, does this in any way change the outcome of the election? i think that would be the question on many people who voted for hillary clinton's mind? >> that's decidedly what the inspector general says he's not going to look at. he's simply going to look at the motivations and the decisions and the practices and how these things were carried out. he says nothing about the affect on the election. nothing, as you noted earlier at the beginning of your program, about the merits of any investigative or prosecution decisions to bring or not bring
charges. he's interested in how these announcements were made, whether things were improperly passed along to anybody, whether justice department officials leaked anything to anybody or not. that's his focus. >> kasie, you're on the hill today, obviously, covering the confirmation hearings, but you spent quite a bit of time on the campaign trail covering the clinton campaign. do you have any word on how they're reacting so far? we heard from brian fallon a moment ago. but do they feel this is vindication in some respect? >> reporter: well, brian fallon saying this is not surprising but absolutely necessary going forward. and he, like many clinton officials have in the wake of this, blamed jim comey for hillary clinton's loss here. that's really the context in which everyone who worked for secretary clinton. it seems from what we've learned in the wake of the election, the clintons themselves view this. hillary clinton herself blamed her loss on jim comey at a party with donors in mid-december she held for people who supported
her. bill clinton, her husband, was quoted in a bookstore as saying that jim comey cost his wife this election. so, that's the lens that they are looking at this through. we still have not yet heard word -- we have inquire ris out to her current spokesperson, nick merrill, who is still working for secretary clinton. brian fallon now off the payroll. he was working for the campaign. nick merrill has been a close, personal aide for quite some time. but i think that this is something that they, frankly, are going to focus quite a bit on but the reality at this point, they think, too little, too late. >> kasie, pete williams, thank you for joining me. i should note that the house oversight and government reform chairman jason chaffetz has tweeted. he says, i support the inspector general's review of what happened at the doj and fbi during the clinton investigation. greta joins us from washington.
first of all, welcome. i hope you find a good home here at nbc news. it's exciting to talk to you for the first time on our air, for me at least. >> i'm thrilled to be here, katy. >> fantastic. now, with that out of the way, let's talk about what's going on in washington today. as if there wasn't already enough news with the confirmation hearings. we have this dropped on our laps. tell me, in your opinion, how significant is this to have the ig now saying they're going to go after potential misconduct within the fbi? >> i think it's very significant for the fbi director because he doesn't want his legacy to be that the ig at the department of justice investigated him and he did something improper. let's take a little look at this. first of all, james comey, well-respected lawyer, prosecutor here in washington, d.c., but the american people are about to see how the sausage is made. it's not particularly pretty. the clintons blame director comey for her loss, but they don't mention the fact that she had the server in the basement that started this and the e-mails were deleted. so, we've got that. a lot of finger pointing here.
but then you look at james comey is that he had no sort of record, like this has never happened before, so you can't go to a statue book to figure out how to do it but you do use a little common sense. he had that bizarre july press conference when he came out and said he wasn't going to recommend charges against secretary clinton or go to a grand jury. he used language saying she was extremely careless but didn't meet the standard and everyone scratched their head. but then what happened is about october 28th he sends a letter to congress, right before the election, and says that they may reopen or something to that effect 37 then a couple days later says, no. what in the world did he do that for? now, that was really bizarre. and i think, if you look at it, it was after much voting had already begun. we have early voting. i don't have quite the -- i don't suspect that it really flipped the election one way or another because people had already been voting. but here's the issue. here's where the sausage is made. why did it take the fbi so long
to do their job on something so important as an election? why did it take them until last july and then up until the election to do their job? that's where the sausage is made. maybe they don't have the resources. if you want to fault anything, take a look at this because this -- there's nothing wrong with investigating clinton. nothing wrong with investigating comey, but when you drag things like like that unnecessarily, i think that's the real problem here. >> i want to ask you about that. we're in a particularly divisive moment in our history, voters who didn't vote for donald trump and those who did vote for him, and a real political divide where you see the democrats digging their heels in saying they're going to refuse to work with republicans and also donald trump driving that wedge. you have jason chaffetz just being pretty apolitical about this, but to have this drag on and have more questions raised, what does this do to the environment in washington? and is there hope going forward that there's going to be some
way for these two sides to work together, to actually get something done? >> unfortunately, this city people take sides. don't necessarily look at problems and facts and try to come up with conclusions. i had jason chef fets on the other day and said, why bother do the investigation with hillary clinton? we not move on? we have government waste. he said he thought it was an important issue. so be it. that's his prerogative. as for this -- in some ways i actually support this investigation. you know, if we're going to investigate politicians, we better do it fairly and we better do it quickly. while i don't think the letter he sent on the 28th of october to capitol hill, that he was going to reopen it in any way swung the election against secretary clinton, having this hang over her all that time was very punitive to the process. we ought to have investigations that are fast and thorough. that does not absolve her of the fact she had the server in the basement. one problem in this city, everybody's got a piece of the blame. >> no doubt.
what happens to james comey going forward? >> nothing. it's horrible to always be investigated. this is terrible. this is not a good day for him. he's not going to go to jail for him but -- >> could he lose his job? >> probably not. i mean, if it turns out -- if there's some smoking gun and you find out that he writes a memo to his deputy, make sure we get clinton, let's do it this way, leak stuff, then he's finished, he's done. but that's not his reputation. he may not have handled this well. he had -- think of it this way, too. what if he hadn't made that statement in july and we find out later that he with held it? we would be jumping him for that. there's a lot of damned if you do and damfed if you don't. one thing is clear if the investigation had gone quickly and thoroughly, we would have a lot less problems. it got dragged out and then the drama on the eve of the election. so, it has all -- it's got all the ingredients for an incredible fight.
and washington loves to fight. loves to pick sides. you know, so the american people are going to see how the sausage is made and they're not going to like it. >> it was a roller coast are of an election. i don't have to tell you that. it's shaping up to be a roller coaster of a tradition, roller coaster of inauguration and a roller coaster of the next four years. greta, thank you so. you can catch greta every night at 6:00 p.m. on msnbc. her show "for the record with greta." joining us now, matt miller, former spokesman for attorney general eric holder. matt, you're pretty good to talk to about this. what do you think this investigation means? does this say that the doj does not have confidence in the fbi? >> i think that's the question the inspector general wants to get to the bottom of. we'll see when the investigation
finishes what conclusions he finds, but i think it's going to be very hard for him to find anything but comey blatantly violated the rules that governed his conduct on repeated occasions. going all the way back to the july 5th press conference. you know, he walked -- not just up to the line. he walked over the line in talking about the conduct of someone who the department was no longer going to be investigated, a clear violation of department rules. he talked about an investigation he had not yet received a formal closure from from prosecutors who he was supposed to be working for. that really set the tone for his conduct going to congress and talking about it and then finally that letter, 11 days out from the election, that i think really had a decisive impact. you can look at the way clinton's poll numbers, you know, dropped in the days after that. and i think had he not sent that letter, we'd be looking at hillary clinton getting ready to take the oath of office next week. >> to be fair, the clinton campaign said a lot of this or
that or the other didn't happen and she would have been president. obviously, both sides using this investigation to their advantage at different points during the campaign. no doubt the momentum shifted after that last announcement. in light of that, i want to play a little more of what donald trump said about comey's announcement back during the campaign. let's take a listen. >> i have to give the fbi credit. that was so bad what happened originally, and it took guts for director comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they're trying to protect her from criminal prosecution. you know that. it took a lot of guts. i really disagreed with him. i was not his fan. i tell you what, what he did, he brought back his reputation. >> matt, that was a huge moment during the campaign. trump had been suffering from the allegations of sexual
misconduct on his own part, women were coming out, suffering from the tape that leaked from "access hollywood" and then this came out, changed the narrative. he clearly had a new pep in his step. he had a reason for republicans to rally behind him. that being said, going forward, if it -- they even do find or are they going to be able to get to a point that they do find there were -- there was actual misconduct, if donald trump gets inaugurated and decides to put the kybosh on this whole thing? >> he he can't put the kybosh on this short of firing the inspector general, which would be a gross, gross violation of traditional norms. we'll have to watch for that because he continues to walk through democratic norms all the time. but i think two things we can look for. one, you know, this really -- if the inspector general finds comey acted inappropriately it will hopefully prevent fbi
directors, comey or others, from doing this in the future. i wish they had opened this investigation after the july 5th press conference. maybe it would have stopped comey from sending that letter later in october. i think there's another potential ram fiction, too. you now have comey under investigation for his conduct during the election. at the same time, he is leading the investigation into whether the trump campaign improperly coordinated with russian officials. we've seen a report they are looking at that. i think it does -- have you to question, how can comey effectively lead that investigation when his conduct itself is under question? i think it will lend a lot of contradict to those like myself who says there should be a special counsel and bipartisan commission to look at what happened during the election with russian interference. it's hard to see how comey continues to be the person leading that investigation in light of this new development. >> matt miller, thank you so much for joining us. next, back to the hearings
on the hill today. three of trump's cabinet picks being grilled by senate committees. we'll take you there. also, the clinton campaign chief strategist, joel beninton will be here to talk about this new investigation. americans - 83% try to eat healthy. yet up 90% fall short in getting key nutrients from food alone. let's do more. add one a day 50+ a complete multi-vitamin with 100% daily value of more than 15 key nutrients. one a day 50+.
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turning to capitol hill, national security and the role of intelligence agencies dominated today's conversations. retired general james mattis and mike. general mattis overcame a major hurdle to become secretary of defense, getting a much needed waiver on the armed services committee. after a snafu delayed his hearing, pompeo got down to brass tacks answering questions on torture. >> the cia will play a role for
this administration. i'm confident the president-elect trump will not only accept that but demand that. it's pretty clear about what took place here. about russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have an impact on american democracy. but this was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership inside of russia. i have no doubt that the discourse that's been taking place is something that vladimir putin would look at and say, wow, that was among the objectives that i had. >> the president-elect's national security adviser general flynn has been quoted as saying the cia has become a very political organization. do you believe that? >> i have -- my experience is i have not seen that. >> if you were ordered by the president to restart the cia's use of enhanced interrogation techniques that fall outside of the army field manual, would you comply? >> senator, absolutely not. >> following today's developments on capitol hill, as nbc's kelly o'donnell.
we just heard a bit of a sound bite mash-up from congressman pompeo. he broke with donald trump on a lot of key issues. am i wrong? >> reporter: i think you're spot on. and i think part of that is that he is coming from a more traditional republican lane. and he and donald trump did not have a past relationship. he was sort of in the running for this position to be the cia director based on his experience on capitol hill and based on the recommendations of people like the vice president-elect mike pence, paul ryan and so forth because he has worked in the area as a ledge lor interfacing with the intelligence community. to give you a intense of where we are, we are in a sort of basement subway area where we expect senators to soon be filing past me to head to a secure briefing with the top members of the intelligence community, including director comey of the fbi, who's in the news this hour, for their versions of what president obama
received in terms of an intelligence briefing on the russian hacking. this will be an intersection of all things intelligence this afternoon. for mike pompeo, we also peppered him with questions in the hallway. he declined to take those questions which is not to be unexpected at this point. he knows the way of washington and that confining his responses to the hearing itself, questions about torture, questions about the morale inside the intelligence community, questions about can he confront the president he will be serving? where there are disagreements, where his experience and perspective from the intelligence community tells him something that may counter donald trump. so, it's an interesting time to be up for a job with that kind of broad portfolio in the intelligence community. and for mike pompeo having experience in washington may be an asset at a time when donald trump has in so many ways tried to bring outsiders into his future cabinet. >> and, kelly, do you see any potential reasons for this
nomination to get derailed or does this seem like a smoother process than, say, rex tillerson was yesterday? >> reporter: i think pompeo answered in the ways that those senators were looking for. would he separate himself from president-elect trump? yes, he would. would he adhere to what has been a long, contentious battle on capitol hill to end what is commonly referred to as torture by limiting some of the actions -- again, we're talking cia. they had a responsibility in interrogations, to follow the letter of the law and not suggestions from the commander in chief if those are outside the law. those were important questions for pompeo to respond to. based on on my hearing of it, he answered in a way that supports his nomination. rex tillerson did not always give sufficient answers in the eyes of those on the committee,
including some republicans who wanted him to be more forcefully critical of vladimir putin. a difference there. i think that difference really comes down to mike pompeo understood what was coming in this confirmation process. maybe the washington experience in that venue was helpful for him today. >> kelly o'donnell, thank you so much from capitol hill. joining me now from capitol hill as well, nebraska senator deb fischer, a member of the armed services committee. senator, first off, since you are here, i want to get your initial reaction to the justice department now investigating the fbi. what is your take? >> as you know, i have been at confirmation hearings this morning so i haven't seen the whole story but i have been listening to some comments on your program. i guess i would agree with what greta said. if this investigation is going to move forward, it needs to be a thorough investigation and it needs to be completed quickly. >> you'll hear from jim comey in the next hour at a briefing on russian hacking. are you going to be asking him
about this probe? >> i'm sure those questions will come up, yes. >> will you be asking specifically? >> i have some other questions for the fbi director and, as you know, every senator will have a chance to ask questions. i'm sure we'll have a variety of questions for the director. >> do you think this is something that could further divide this country? it's already, as you know, a divide electorate, a divided congress right now. both sides digging in their heels on issues. do you think the ongoing drama surrounding hillary clinton's e-mail is going to add to those divisions or are you hopeful that they'll be a way to reach across the aisle and get things done? >> since i've been here, i could always reach across the aisle. i think that's very important, that we maintain the relationships that i've developed here in the united states snaid senaenate.
i look forward to working with my colleagues, republican and democrat. i look forward to working with my colleague on the commerce committee, where i chair the service subcommittee so we can address the infrastructure of this country. there's so much we agree upon. i think that's what we need to focus on. are we divided? of course we are. this country is very polarized. but i'm going to maintain a positive attitude, continue to look for ways that i can work with republicans and democrats, so we can really meet the needs the people of this country. they want us to work together. they do not want us to continue to be divided. >> talk to me about the hearing that you are just in. you're talking about general james mattis for defense secretary. do you feel like you can have confidence in his ability to go to the president-elect and make recommendations that the president-elect will listen to? >> most definitely. general mattis -- >> why is that?
>> i think you saw it at the hearing. he's so well respected. he exhibits such candor, he's so forthright, so knowledgeable. that's all that we are looking for as senators when we're asking someone to step up, serve this country and also to fulfill the obligation they have to come before congress so we can perform our responsibility of oversight. general mattis understands that. and with his vast area of knowledge, with his experience he's going to work well with congress. >> as you probably know, donald trump himself said he knows more than our generals and ultimately said he'll be listening to himself above everybody else. not only that, he has someone who will be in his ear, who will be the air traffic controlman, if you will, of all the intelligence out there, mike flynn. he does not have to be confirmed. he's a controversial choice to
head the nsa, to say the least. do you think that general james mattis will have any issues with him going forward? will they clash? if they do clash, who do you think the president-elect will ultimately take advice from? >> you know, general mattis addressed that point somewhat today. and i think it would do us all well to listen to what he said. it's his duty as a cabinet secretary, as the -- hopefully as the secretary of defense, to bring his opinion and his views, backed up by facts, to the president of the united states. conversation's good, dialogue's good. it's good to be able to forcefully present those views. and i believe that's what james mattis is going to do. you know, if you heard the hearing today, you heard former secretary cohen say jim mattis brings a strong heart to this job. you know, he quoted oliver wendell holmes and he brings
this to his job, a strong heart. that -- that is so important to understand here, because of the service that this man has already given to this country and the service that he now is being asked to give again. and i know that the military members, tsoldiers, our men and women who fight for us every day, they have confidence in him. the senate has confidence in him. i know the president does as well. >> in my conversations with those in the intelligence community, pretty much everyone says they have great confidence in general mattis. the question they do all have, though, is mike flynn and what sort of variable he will be and whether or not he will have the ear over some of the more experienced folks that will make up donald trump's cabinet. senator deb fischer -- >> you know, i think it's important to have a variety of views. that's what a president needs. that's what i need as a senator. so, that variety of views so that our commander in chief can
make wise decisions, that's important. >> senator deb fischer, thank you so much for joining me from capitol hill. now back to our breaking news. the doj inspector general investigating the fbi. we've got a big name here to talk to us about it. joel benenson of the clinton campaign. hillary clinton herself said james comey derailed her candidacy. she didn't win because of this announcement 11 days before the election. what do you make of the i.g. coming out and investigating potential misconduct now, a couple days before the inauguration? >> look, you can't go back in time and turn the clock back. i think everybody agreed there was an impact on the election. tony and i did a podcast up at harvard at post-election review and we saw the same things in the polling data. he saw momentum stop and their people get activated in a way they hadn't been. what's notable is this is not surprising. if you go back and look at what
professionals said at the time, mr. comey made his announcement 11 days before an election, republican and democratic prosecutors, former fbi people, said this was inappropriate, violated every principle in the fbi. turned out later he absolutely no evidence, no reason, no motivation to actually say anything at the moment he did it. he he had no information. >> so, you are a fan of this investigation. are you -- or you believe in it? >> well, i believe it should be investigated. when a prosecutor -- look, there's enormous power prosecutors have in this country. anybody that studies the constitution and knows civics knows it's very strong. i think when prosecutors abuse their power and people inside that agency advised him not to take that action, it is appropriate they look into this to make sure that if he did violate rules, procedures, he's held accountability like anybody else would be. >> one of the issues in this investigation -- actually, three of them involve passing on information from the fbi to the
clinton campaign, specifically nonpublic information. i imagine that's stuff like, heads up on filings, on what's going to be next with the e-mail investigation. can you tell me definitively that the clinton campaign did not receive nonpublic information? >> i have no knowledge of what information the clinton campaign received from -- if you're talking -- i don't even know who you're talking about. from mr. comey? i have no knowledge of this at all. >> this is the fbi deputy director. allegations the assistant attorney general improperly disclosed nonpublic information to the clinton campaign and/or should have been recused from those matters. also more allegations that the department and fbi employees improperly disclosed nonpublic information to the clinton campaign. >> again -- >> did you get any sort of heads up from the fbi? did they ever tell anybody in the campaign -- >> absolutely not. >> -- here's where we're going on so you can be prepared? >> absolutely not. people ask you, where were you
when you watched comey's first announcement. we were in headquarters and we heard he was going to make an announcement. we went out. as he was making his statement, we had no idea what he was going to say. >> 11 days out. >> oh, 11 days out. this was the initial announcement in late june, early july. 11 days out it was totally out of lft. >> both campaigns used this to their advantage when they could. the clinton campaign used his recommendation not to prosecute to say that this matter is closed, the trump campaign used the revival of it to say this matter is something that is very much not closed and it will be a cloud over hillary clinton's head. there is a great divide in this country. i've asked a number of our guests about this already. do you think that another investigation into clinton's e-mails or the investigation of the investigation into the e-mails only helps drive that wedge farther and separate the
democrats from the republicans, the trump voters from the non-trump voters, either side of the aisle to the point where not only are we not getting things done, we're not even talking to each other? >> here's where we are. you can't go back. this isn't like an nfl game where you can ask for video play replay and play the play over. the votes are in. the electoral college has voted. i think you're con plating two things that shouldn't be conflated. the real question is it appropriate for the fbi and fbi watch dog to investigate behavior they think violated practice in the course of public investigation and conversations about that. i think that's appropriate. no one is trying to get a do-over in the election. no one says it's going to happen. when public officials abuse or potentially abuse their authority and their office, that investigation -- there's not a statistic tut of limitations that says we're not going to
look at the behavior of a prosecutor who was advised not to do this 11 days out, criticized by former fbi officials from both parties not to do so, to look into that. >> if they do find there was misconduct, what do you think should happen to fbi director james comey? >> i leave that to the fbi. if i were running the fbi, which obviously i'm not, i think anybody involved in the fbi would want to know the facts in this case and what precipitated what mr. comey did and let them make the appropriate judgment. they know what's proper and appropriate for their agency. i don't. i do know it's proper when you believe you have an official, whether it's a congress person, a district attorney, a federal attorney or the director of the fbi who potentially has abused his or her authority, it ought to be looked into. even if the events that were effected by it have transpired and are over with. >> let's talk about a broader issue at play here. russian hacking. that is still ongoing. more news coming out about it every day. there's these allegations out there that have been unverified
that donald trump could have been potentially compromised by the russians. there's a lot of back and forth on how seriously any of that should be taken. in your mind, what it the fbi reopening the e-mail investigation, was it the russian hacking? what was it ultimately that made donald trump win over hillary clinton? >> when you lose a close election, the hardest elections to lose are the ones where everybody expects you to win and you lose a very close election. the most gratifying is when no one expects you to win and it's a surprising result. the reality is there are many things that happen in a campaign that are right. hillary clinton got 2-plus million more votes than donald trump, won the popular vote significantly. in three states we came up short. now, we can turn this over forever and say, what was it? i think searching for one thing, this is like searching for the
alchemist stone. you won't find it. you can analyze them and say any one of these things contributed in some way. i don't think there's one stone you can look at and say, this was it. what we know about mr. comey's precipitous and unprecedented statement is it definitely had an impact in the polls results, that both mitt romney -- donald trump's pollster and i agreed during a podcast. it affected momentum and by him. >> death by a thousand cuts. question on the russian hacking. donald trump has criticized the intelligence community. he's -- he's going after them for the leaks he's sort of come around to the idea that russia was probably behind the hacking but at the same time he's still criticizing the dnc more so than he's certainly criticizing vladimir putin. what do you make of that? do you think he has any merit to say that or is your opinion
maybe that he should be -- >> i think in eight days donald trump is going to be sworn in as president of the united states. on january 20th. that's a reality. what he ought to be thinking about is what should a president of the united states concern himself with right now. the fact that he acknowledged that our intelligence agencies have all acknowledged that russia was meddling in our elections, to take that lightly is giving a permission slip to vladimir putin to do it again, to do it somewhere else and we should never be doing that. no president-elect and no president of the united states should be doing that. the one thing and the only thing that donald trump should be concerned with is working with every one of our intelligence agencies to make sure that we put a stop to russia doing this. that should be his primary concern. not leaks from the press. not anything else. that should be his number one focus because that's in the interest of america and democracy throughout the world. >> one last time, and i just want to get this on the record. could there have been somebody else within the campaign that potentially received nonpublic information?
and if it was not you, could it have been someone else? >> i have no idea. i find it hard to believe that somebody did and i wouldn't have known about it, but is anything possible? i don't know who has contacts with whom. i have not ever heard a scintilla of a notion that that occurred. >> chief strategist for the clinton campaign, joel benenson. thank you for rushing in to talk to us about this. we do very much appreciate it. obviously, this is a story is that will continue to live on well past inauguration day. thank you so much. >> thank you. coming up next, we'll go to trump tower for the reaction to this. stay with us.
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>> reporter: hey there. so far no reaction from trump tower on this breaking news of the office of inspector general review of doj and fbi activities prior to the election. no tweets from donald trump, at least not yet. though, perhaps, unsurprising if you were to put something out later in the day. we also asked the transition team for comment or reaction. we will advise as soon as we hear from them. as you know well, on the campaign trail repeatedly the president-elect prior to the end of october had called for an investigation into the investigation. and then when the news came out on october 28th, the president-elect released a statement saying, in effect, he praised this move by james comey. later in a campaign rally saying it took guts for comey to do what he did. there's an interesting backstory in history with donald trump's relationship to this investigation, what it meant for the election, obviously, which is why i think a lot of folks are curious in anticipating what the trump transition team has to say next. >> hallie jackson at trump tower. joining me now from "the new york times" political reporter
and msnbc contributor, nick, who helped piece together a great piece, i should say, on espionage and that russian dossier. we'll talk to him about that. but first, nick, i want to get your reaction to the doj launching this investigation into the fbi. what does this say about confidence in how the fbi can do their jobs and how they handled this election? >> you know, it's finally a chance for democrats to have these questions settled about if comey was operating according to his duty, according to the rules, or if he was operating probably too protect his own flank against hill republicans, against after the fact charges had hillary clinton won, which is one of the worries, i think, that people had, that he was acting in this report -- or at least acting before in the release of the letter to protect himself from accusations from republicans. of course, it was trump who won. i think it's a huge deal. these internal reports by igs can really spiral. you'll recall in 2011-2012 the
ig of the irs did a big internal report on the interference of tea party groups and ended with a huge scandal for the agency, a huge black eye and resignation of top officials at that agency. >> what can democrats do with this going forward if they find there was misconduct? >> not much, right? they can -- if there was, in fact, misconduct, they can call for the resignation of people who were involved. but i think it may just provide them a little bit of ammunition to push back on this question, again, to raise it again, at a time when they're really feeling wounded and feeling in some quarters comey handed the election to donald trump. >> we got a great -- your story today is the makings for a great spy novel. christopher steele, former mi-6 agent is the one believed to be behind this dossier. talk to me about what you were able to uncover and how this dossier, which had some pretty salacious allegations and info
that the russians might have on donald trump, how did this come to be? >> it's important for people to understand that there is an entire industry of investigators, private investigators, es srllin washino work pretty much in secret. their websites haven't got any personnel on them. they do this kind of research, professional, high-end research, opposition research, but this is more than that. sometimes these firms do political intelligence. they'll hire former officials, former spies in this case, to, in turn, collect more intelligence from contacts those ex-spies have. what we saw here was a republican donor, we're not sure who it is, had somehow hired one of these firms in washington to dig around in these business interests that trump had in russia. that firm n turn, hired christopher steele to do some digging around in russia. what we're seeing in this report is essentially a version of the raw intel that steele came up
with for a private client that then had made its way back through a secure -- a long route to the hill and to the fbi and to the desk of president obama. >> just so our viewers know, we showed video of a second there of intelligence officers leaving trump tower after a meeting with donald trump. not necessarily anything to do with what specifically nick was talking about. i've got to say, this idea that an -- a former mi6 agent could have been employed for a republican, who is anti-trump, and then democrats, who are anti-trump, to come up with a highly salacious and potentially explosive dossier is a fascinating behind the scenes look at what politics is like. tell me, is there any feeling that what he compiled could potentially be true? i know it's very hard to verify. i know that these are the sort of things we're not going to
know about unless the russians decide to release any of this information. but is there a sense in the intelligence community that you know of that there -- this is stuff that should be taken seriously? >> here's how i would put it. i think professionals in the community will say that any piece of raw intel, any report like this, contains a mix of fact and fiction. it's a starting point. it's not an end point. it's like a lot of reporting, frankly. you hear things, you hear rumors, you try to investigate them. one reason this report had been floating around in news rooms for a bit after the election but hadn't kind of broken out until this week was that reporters could not back up these claims, could not verify them, so could not publish them. so, some could be true and some could be false. it's impossible to speculate in advance about which piece is which. >> nick confessore of "the new york times," thank you for joining me. >> of course. let's go down to the white
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on your screen right now, a live look at the white house. at the top of the hour, president obama and the first lady will honor the vice president. it's a surprise ceremony. when that kicks off, we'll bring it to you live. also today, andrea mitchell sat down with vice president joe bideen and he emphasized the crucial role of america's intelligence community. andrea asked him about donald trump's continued doubts over u.s. intelligence and his ability to restore trust with those agencies once he is sworn in as president. >> in one sense it's understandable mr. trump doesn't understand the intelligence community. the hope is he has people around him to understand it's the crown july of everything we do.
whether in terms of our foreign intelligence decisions, foreign policy decisions. and i hope that -- that he has people around him. i know he has people around him who know a lot about the community. some i don't agree with, like general flynn. others like mattis i do. but i hope they get to him and make him understand that denigrating the intelligence community just denigrates u.s. interests. it makes us more vulnerable. so, i hope the rhetoric changes. >> reporter: he tweeted yesterday morning comparing the spy agencies to nazis. what is the impact of that? >> it's really, really unfortunate. >> forceful words from vice president joe biden there. nbc's andrea mitchell's exclusive interview with the outgoing vice president, that is right there. also a reminder that tomorrow night lester holt will have more of his exclusive interview with
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and help stop joint damage. enbrel, the number one rheumatologist-prescribed biologic. that does it for this hour of "msnbc live." i'm katy tur live in new york. my colleague, kate snow, live in new york as well. >> how are you? let's make a tradition out of this, okay? more and more news going on this hour. just a ton perform some of it we knew about ahead of time. some we didn't. we'll start with breaking news out of the justice department. the inspector general saying he will review how the fbi and justice department handled certain aspects of the hillary clinton e-mail investigation. a full analysis of that move and the reaction pouring in this hour. that's coming up. also this hour, any moment now, we're expecting president obama in this room, paying tribute to vice president joe biden. that's the state dining room at the white