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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  March 21, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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trump's plans tells nbc news she's consulting with the office of government ethics and white house attorneys. her husband, jared, is already a senior adviser to the president. that is our broadcast on this busy night. thank you for being here with us. good night from new york.
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campaign and russian interests. and a new level of spin from team trump. >> paul manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time. >> plus, the fbi debunks the president's three-week-old wiretap claims. >> i have no information that supports those tweets. >> then debunks his live tweeting of the hearing. >> i have no information that supports those tweets. >> and his health care bill in doubt and approval ratings going south, where does this president go from here? >> we're going to win so much, you're going to get so sick and tired of winning. >> when "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. an unprecedented and historic moment on capitol hill today. the director of the fbi james comey confirming a story that the president and his allies have desperately tried to dismiss. comey telling the house intelligence committee and, by
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extension, the american people, that the fbi is currently investigating whether president trump's campaign, as the russians were engaged in a criminal campaign to influence the u.s. presidential election on trump's behalf. >> i have been authorized by the department of justice to confirm that the fbi, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the trump campaign and the russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and russia's efforts. as with any counterintelligence assessment will include whether any crimes were committed. i can promise you, we will follow the facts wherever they lead. >> comey said the investigation has been under way since last
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july, though he made no mention of it during the presidential campaign. comey remained silent on the russian investigation and then despite repeatedly discussing the investigation into the hillary clinton e-mails, which many believe cost her the election. coordination between the trump campaign and russians, he dismissed president trump's utterly unsupported claim made in a series of early-morning tweets that mr. trump was wiretapped by president obama. >> with respect to the president's tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, i have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the fbi. the department of justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the department of justice and all its components. >> much more on that part of the story shortly. first, to the investigation. at today's intelligence committee hearing, the ranking democrat, adam schiff spoke about christopher steele six
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times, alleging ties between the trump campaign eight russians. schiff referencing specific campaign officials, including former policy adviser carter page and former campaign manager paul manafort. >> according to steele, it was manafort who chose page to serve as a go-between for the trump campaign and russian interests. >> manafort, who served as the campaign chairman and who unlike the other campaign officials categorically denies wrongdoing was at one point trump's campaign manager. at the white house briefing today, sean spicer sought to play down manafort's role in connection with the russian probe, dismissing carter page as, quote, hanger-on and describing michael flynn as a mere campaign volunteer. >> even general flynn was a volunteer of the campaign and then obviously there's been a
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discussion of paul manafort who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time. to start to look at some individual that was there for a short period of time or separately, individuals who really didn't play any role in the campaign and to suggest that those are the basis for anything is a bit ridiculous. >> trump was trying to undercut comey's comments before the hearing began tweeting the stories as fake news. "the real story that congress, the fbi and all others should be looking into is the leaking of information. must find leaker now." trying to steer the hearing towards the issue of leaks with trey gowdy, a benghazi committee fame, reporting that former obama officials are to blame. potus tweeted an early clip from the hearing with the caption, "the nsa and fbi tell congress that russia did not influence electoral process."
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but that's not what comey and michael rogers had in fact said. the tweet led to a remarkable live fact check by the fbi director of the sitting president during today's hearing. >> this tweet has gone out to millions of americans, 16.1 million, to be exact. is the tweet, as i read it to you, "the nsa and fbi tell congress that russia did not influence the electoral process," is that accurate? >> we have no opinion or information on potential impact because it's never something that we looked at. >> joining me now, national security reporter at "the new york times," jane mayer, staff writer at "the new yorker" and michael isikoff, chief correspondent for yahoo news. michael, let me start with you. it was remarkable to have this thing reported, anonymous leaks being confirmed on the record by the director of the fbi, both
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that it's happening and that it started in july. >> exactly. look, it is extraordinary to have the fbi director confirm that there is an active investigation of the campaign of the sitting president over questions of collusion with a foreign power. that in itself is stunning. we knew the fbi was up to something. they were investigating aspects of this. to have comey directly say it's about possible coordination was something i don't think anybody was expecting. also, the fact that this began late july -- >> oh, my goodness, yeah. >> -- more than three months before the election was something i don't think any of us realized in their full dimensions. a couple things worth pointing out, as we reported tonight on yahoo news, this was just a few weeks after christopher steele, the ex-british spy, the author of the dossier, first briefed
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fbi agents about the contents of his reports. so it appears more and more that he said the ball in motion, set the chain of events in motion that led to this investigation. there were other aspects, the republican convention that month, carter page's trip to moscow. but it appears to have begun with this much maligned dossier. >> i want to ask you about that and adam schiff reading parts of it into the record. but jane, the thing that i kept thinking about today was, james comey broke protocol to give these updates about the hillary clinton e-mail investigation. and i think in some sense, possibly defensible judgment, it's a bizarre situation to find one self in. i kept thinking, a, the door has been cracked open and to find out a possible collusion with a foreign adversary for three months during the campaign puts that in a strikingly different
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context. >> i mean, i think you really have to wonder what voters would have made of it and what impact it would have had on this campaign if they had known that the fbi was investigating the trump campaign for a possible collusion with russians during this period. and i think it raises a lot of sticky questions for comey. why did he feel it necessary to update the public right before the election on the status with hillary clinton's investigation, his investigation into her and not even mention that there was simultaneously an investigation into trump's people and possibly trump himself. it just seems like there was kind of an imbalance in the need to let the public know. >> not only that, you have the story from "the new york times" in which the fbi clearly tried to wave off the russia story and
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then today you have -- when you think about how serious to take this, which has always been the question right from the very beginning. adam, you had adam schiff citing the steele dossier, which is a bizarre mystery to all of us, how much of it is true, is it just allegations, i want you to listen to what schiff did with the dossier and what it meanings when he would essentially enter into the record. >> the campaign is offered documents damaging to hillary clinton which the russians would publish through an outlet that gives them deniability like wikileaks and an exchange for a trump administration policy that de-emphasizes russian's with ukraine and policies which even as the president's meeting last week with angela merkel have now preciously come to past. >> matthew, it strikes me as
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notable that the ranking member of that committee would cite that document. >> it does. and i think that's the other -- a day of many amazing things. you have this dossier until now has been rumor and innuendo and parts of it being read out and cited by the democrat house intelligence committee. one thing that mr. schiff did not say is that a lot of it does remove unproven, that both journalists and other who is have had copies of it have not been able to report much of it out. we've heard that the fbi believes 30% may be accurate but most of the 30% or if not all is the nontrump stuff. the material about machinations inside the russian government and it's the trump material that people find most interesting and schiff was referring to. >> michael, the big thing for me, again, the behavior of sean spicer trying to minimize manafort and flynn --
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>> yeah. >> -- we all saw the campaign. i was there in cleveland when general flynn was there chanting "lock her up." i saw paul manafort run the campaign. it struck me as a bizarre attempt to, you know, make us forget what had happened and bizarrely sort of guilty acting if there's actually nothing there. >> look, first of all, manafort was the campaign manager for some period of time and flynn was the principle national security adviser to candidate trump who was sitting in on his intelligence briefings being provided by the intelligence committee. that is a bit more than a volunteer. but a couple of other striking things worth mentioning, you know, comey said right at the get-go that he was authorized by the department of justice to make this statement. well, jeff sessions had no role in that. he is recused from this
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investigation and so it was dana boente, an obama administration holdover who gave the green light for comey to give this extraordinary statement. that is something that you can is it going to enrage officials at the white house. that will confirm their paranoia about the u.s. government working against them. >> that is a great point. devin nunes said you've cast a cloud over this administration which, again, i don't know the truth of what they will or will not find and in some ways is unnerving enough in the absence of collusion but i was just reminded of this kellyanne conway tweet. "most honest people i know are not under fbi investigation, let alone two." every day we wake up, the president of the united states and his campaign are currently being investigated by the fbi
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about possible collusion to a foreign adversary. >> this is part of the corner that they've painted themselves into. by calling for a criminal investigation and screaming "lock her up" all through a campaign when they were dealing with hillary, they can't really say now that such things don't matter. you know, really, i have to say, it was an extraordinary day. i can hardly remember a day for a president where so many things went wrong. just to even have the director of the fbi saying outright, ins and -- in essence, that the president lied about his tweets about the wiretap. it's hard to convey how really strange this is. >> yeah. jane, by the way, i want to commend to everyone watching your piece on the mercers, a fascinating billionaire family. it's a shocking and eye-opening read. really, really well-reported. folks should check that out. matthew, michael, jane, thank you all for being with me on this night.
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still ahead, much more on today's hearing including james comey's statement saying that they have no information regarding the wiretapping claims and yet that didn't stop sean spicer from referring to it in the white house briefing room. more on that after this two-minute break.
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i hope the president will have the strength of character to apologize not only to president obama who he defamed but to the american people for leading us on this unfortunate wild goose chase. >> utterly unfounded assertion by the president of the united states that his predecessor had him under surveillance and caused a major diplomatic incident with britain and an embarrassing incident with germany has engulfed the fbi. the heads of both agents having to publicly set the public straight. >> with respect to the president's tweets about alleged
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wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, i have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully in the fbi. >> i see nothing on the nsa side that we engaged in any activity nor that anyone asked us to engage in such activity. >> so no individual in the united states can direct electronic surveillance of anyone. it has to go through an application process, ask the judge and then the judge can make the order. >> so president obama could not order a wiretap? >> no president could. >> as for the insinuation, they did the wiretapping at president obama's behest, that was also summarily shot down. >> did you ever request that your counterparts in gchq should wiretap mr. trump on behalf of mr. obama? >> no, sir. nor would i. that would be expressly against the agreement that's been in place for decades. >> and the five i's are the
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closest intelligence partners and britain is one of them. >> yes. and if you want to ask the britain to spy on an american, that would be in violation of a u.s. law, wouldn't it? >> yes, sir. >> he says that they wiretapped him for obama nonsense is utterly ridiculous? >> yes, sir. >> the white house is still, still refusing to back down. >> listen, i understand that. what i'm getting at, there's a lot of information that we have come to learn about what happened in terms of surveillance. >> are you saying that the president has evidence -- >> i'm saying there are a lot more questions that need to get asked about what was being done in terms of surveillance. the president understands that you don't literally wiretap people the same way that you did in the '70s and '80s?
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>> no, but again, i think we're still at the beginning phase of a look as to what kind of surveillance occurred and why? >> joining me is a reporter regarding the white house response to this. it strikes me that it's somewhat similar to the president's pursuit of barack obama's birth certificate. there was no counterveiling evidence that would stop him from pursing it. he's not president of the united states and this seems like a sequel. >> it sort of does. this is something where there is just no evidence and the administration is looking for something that might pop up one day and trump has suggested that it will appear in a few weeks and we just don't have any yet and the most damaging thing is that the fbi director came out to the public. this is somebody who trump was running around the campaign trail praising and celebrating as a truth teller for what he said about hillary clinton. he came out and said that the president was not true and the
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reason you see sean spicer trying to kind of work his way around it and defend it is because there's no greater sin in trump's mind than somebody who admits defeat or is willing to concede that they were wrong. >> i want to stress how remarkable that moment was. here are two individuals, comey and rogers, they both serve for the president. the fbi has fixed terms but he can be fired as can the director of the nsa. having to say in an open hearing that the president has no evidence to support this claim and, in fact, it's sort of insulting or a profound misunderstanding to even make the claim. >> i think that's right. it's just remarkable. we haven't seen something like this. i interviewed today doug brinkley, a presidential historian, and i asked him for a historical parallel. he said he couldn't come up with one.
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he said, imagine in j. edgar hoover testified before congress that any of the presidents he served under was saying something that wasn't true. it's just a truly remarkable day and speaks to the credibility problems that president trump has right now 60 days into his presidency. >> after reading the first part of that quote, it's been ringing in my ears, the smell of treason in the air. and it was given new life by a commentator on fox news, a find legal mind in the words of andrew napolitano. he's been taken off the air. it's possible that napolitano claim came from a man who spread a hoax about michelle obama who said he was one of the sources for mr. napolitano's claims. so here you have the president reading breitbart, watching fox news and the u.s. intelligence apparatus, in front of a whole
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country and sean spicer unable to bend to the obvious reality. >> i think that's right. and you brought up judge napolitano. he's really the only person that made that claim about the uk intelligence surveillance which, of course, was not true. he's not a news source. he's not a journalist. he doesn't have sources. as brilliant as he may be, he's a commentator on fox news with an opinion and a point of view to press forward and the fact that the president would hear that on fox and then repeat it or sean spicer, rather, would hear that on fox and repeat it as evidence in the briefing room is really striking and one of the reasons that you saw our allies, the british, respond so forcefully to this. >> and i should note, the president has just concluded his rally in kentucky which he made no mention of any of this. phillip rucker, thank you. >> thank you. bonus tape of him testifying and why it's time for a grand jury to investigate the trump campaign's ties to russia.
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and republicans come up with a $75 billion hail mary to try to get fellow republicans to vote for a bill that no one seems to like. jess mcintosh and michael steele ahead.
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there is much more to come on today's incredible hearing. john dean will give us his take on the fbi announcement of an investigation into the trump campaign. there was another congressional hearing today and in a way it's unprecedented. the senate confirmation of judge gorsuch, to replace antonin scalia who, of course, died 13 full months ago. the gorsuch nomination arises
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after the unprecedented refusal of senate republicans to even hold hearings on president obama's nominee judge merrick garland. today, democrats on the senate judiciary committee noted that as well as the perils faced during a trump presidency. >> judge garland was denied a hearing and this vacancy has been in place for well over a year. i just want to say i am deeply disappointed that it's under these circumstances that we begin these hearings. >> this was an extraordinary blockade. it was totally unprecedented in our country's whole history. >> your nomination is part of a republican strategy to capture our judicial branch of government. >> a large part of the threat comes from the man who nominated you, who has launched campaign of dishes and relentless attacks
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on the credibility and capacity of our judiciary to serve as a check on lawless executive action. >> senators began questioning judge gorsuch tomorrow next, the president's approval ranking is tanking as his unpopular health care plan gets revamped in a last-ditch effort to save it in time for a thursday vote. that's just after this break.
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there's a new plan to pass or perhaps more accurately ram
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through the gop health care plan. changes are being made to establish a reserve fund of at least $75 billion for tax credits to help one of the core constituencies that propelled trump to the white house. americans between 50 and 64 as well as repeal obamacare taxes a year earlier than planned. all of it is designed to sweeten the deal to get the deal passed. some changes reportedly would not happen until the bill reaches the senate, meaning they would just vote for the $75 million with no plan of what to do with it. some are attacking it from the right and the left. >> i believe that the real negotiation begins when we stop them, you have to stop them, conservatives will only have a seat at the table if we have 21 votes in the house or three or four in the senate. let's make sure that we increase our leverage by holding the line. i think there's enough conservatives that don't want obamacare-lite. >> if their so-called three-bucket solution and all of
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the goods are in bucket three, i've called bucket three the sucker's bucket. >> we have to do something about the fact that the house bill disproportionately affects older, rural americans. >> that epitomizes the problem which is that there is no core constituency for this bill. only 34% approve. it seems to affect president trump's job approval rating which hovers at all-time historic lows. getting even worse after the march 6th rollout of the gop health care plan. in "the huffington post" polling aggregate, the same trend is notable. after march 6th, you can see a change for the worst. the inflection point there is trumpcare. joining me is michael steele and jess mcintosh.
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by the way, sucker's bucket is a great coinage. it's very good and also true. believe me, buddy, bucket three is when your ship comes in. like, okay. >> that's right. that's right. >> i just thought it illustrated the core -- who is this bill for? there's no core constituency for the bill. it's not -- it's like it's reverse engineered around a set of compromises or whatever it is and i don't know among voters or among politicians that there is anyone there that the center is demanding this. >> well, the interesting thing is that no lessons were learned from the 2009 of the obama administration to do obamacare. it's the same argument that could have been made there, that the core constituency at best was loose and it was largely made up and played to by, you know, members of congress and that's the focus here. it's not on the street. this isn't a bill that's on the street as evidenced by polling that you showed. 34% of americans say that will
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do. the others say, hell no, we don't want this. the whole play is to get it through the house and sweeten it enough for the senate to pass it. but here's the question. when all of that happens, what are you left with? >> right. >> if you cannot go to the american people and say, you will be better off because of these things that we have done here, specifically a, b, c and d, then it's not something that the american people are going to buy. >> right. because in some ways, jess, the victory of passing a bad bill that's bad for people is not an actual victory. >> right. >> if it's bad for people. >> they are not trying to do a thing here, which is why the strategy to do a thing is so complicated and failing. they're trying to repeal obamacare. that's what they want to do. they don't -- obamacare was a really hard thing to pass but the point was, to cover more americans. we all knew what that was.
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>> there was a project in play. >> and that made it worth the political headache to get it done because we believed in the principle that we're all fighting for. >> right. >> their only principle is repeal obama's signature legislation. >> and michael, go ahead. >> to jess' point, and that is the fact that what happened was that the president said, oh, no, we're going to repeal and replace because, remember, they say we'll repeal now and replace in a couple of years. >> right. >> talk about the sucker's bucket, that's the ultimate sucker's bucket, that some day there's going to be a new health care system that we'll get to. jess, to your point, nothing to me illustrates this better than the bill is in trouble. >> right. >> the flag waving members of the house freedom caucus, many of whom i believe have an ideological commitment, principled in that respect, they're peeling away. they are going to get brought
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back on board with a fund thrown at the bill that will say, we will just throw money at whoever may need it without any details of how it will be dispersed to get the conservatives to vote for it. >> when they are your loudest opposition throwing a pile of money with unspecified targets, the problem is not going to solve it. >> $75 billion. >> that is underpinning this entire effort and that's why it's not going to -- >> and that's why rand paul and other conservatives are going, no, we're not buying this. in that third bucket, even with $75 billion in it, is a sucker's bucket because the reality is with those conservatives who came in 2010, all about the fiscal responsibility that they promised their constituencies cannot go back and justify spending that kind of money and not having any clue of what is going to happen to it or where it's coming from. >> not to mention, one of my favorite details is $100 billion of insurance fund, $10 billion a
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year. that's basically if the insurance company made whole, if that was right now, the premium problem -- >> not going to go away. >> snuck inside of this is an insurance company bailout which no one has gotten -- rand paul talked about it and they haven't even gotten to that part to it yet. >> the part that they got to first was that it was going to disproportionately hurt the rural americans and the optics around it were so poorly crafted that that was the first takeaway. it's an insurance company slush fund. there is no constituency that voted to -- >> to make this happen. >> make that happen. >> here's the question, michael. ryan basically -- he's committed at this point. he's got to pass this thing. >> yeah. >> they are now at a point where they've opened up negotiating.
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the senate will figure it out. do they actually push this thing through? >> i think they do. i was listening to a number of folks capitulate. that's the only way i could put it. this past week and weekend on that very point. so i do think they get it in the house and that's why you see guys like rand paul holding that conservative line fiscally and going, no, there is no economics that supports what the house will send us. there is no health care strategy that supports what the house will send us relevant to obamacare. so i think it passes the house and i think it gets eaten alive in the senate. >> for what it's worth, having interviewed a lot of members of the house on this program, you start getting in on that and they are not really hard-nosed. i tend to think you're right. we'll find out this week. thank you both. >> thanks. still ahead, former nixon
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white house counsel joins me and why he says it's past time to have a grand jury investigation into possible collusion between the trump campaign and russia. and sesame street versus trump in tonight's thing 1 and thing 2.
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thing 1 tonight, since president trump released his budget axing funding for public broadcasting, there's been no shortage about big bird's future. pbs airs for those households and if airing reruns, this episode could pop into rotation. >> now, will sesame street just become a footnote in america's history? >> if we don't do something about mr. trump, we will be history. >> long before mr. trump called to eliminate pbs, he was
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featured on pbs and that's thing 2 in 60 seconds.le you l e, does psoriasis ever get in the way of a touching moment? if you have moderate to severe psoriasis, you can embrace the chance of completely clear skin with taltz. taltz is proven to give you a chance at completely clear skin. with taltz, up to 90% of patients had a significant improvement of their psoriasis plaques. in fact, 4 out of 10 even achieved completely clear skin. do not use if you are allergic to taltz. before starting you should be checked for tuberculosis. taltz may increase your risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them. tell your doctor if you are being treated for an infection or have symptoms. or if you have received a vaccine or plan to. inflammatory bowel disease can happen with taltz. including worsening of symptoms. serious allergic reactions can occur. now's your chance at completely clear skin. just ask your doctor about taltz.
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>> you're the puppet. >> it's pretty clear you won't admit that the russians -- >> there are several times in which president trump has been portrayed as a puppet. ronald grump first showed up on "sesame street" three decades ago. >> ronald grump is the name and i make places for crotches to live. >> crump made another appearance and perhaps the most precious episode was in 1994 when joe pesci played donald trump. >> real estate tycoon ronald crump has plans to demolish "sesame street." >> trust me. you won't miss all this.
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>> miss this? it's our home. >> okay. okay. that's it. i tried to be nice to you people but you don't want to listen, pack up and get out. >> what? >> get out of my way. >> ultimately ronald grump is forced to scrap his plans as public pressure mounts in the streets. imagine that. >> one, two, three, four, sesame street forever more. one, two, three, four, sesame street forever more. one, two, three, four, sesame street forever more. so tell us your big idea for getting the whole country booking on choice four words, badda book. badda boom...
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let it sink in. shouldn't we say we have the lowest price? nope, badda book. badda boom. have you ever stayed with choice hotels? like at a comfort inn? yep. free waffles, can't go wrong. i like it. promote that guy. get the lowest price on our rooms, guaranteed. when you book direct at book now.
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donald trump talks about himself as a candidate. this feels a lot more -- you draw the distinction between what law and order is. >> when we hear that phrase, it runs together in our head but the law is a complicated thing and when people say, well, this unauthorized immigrant broke the
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law, my response to them always is, have you broken the law? have you broken the law? and the answer to that is yes to everyone sitting in this room and everyone watching. you've driven over the speed limit. you've gotten behind the wheel with one too many drinks. you've maybe stolen a candy bar as a kid. the way we enforce the law is dependent on how we think about the social order and who threatens it. what law and order does is maintain a social order and we've seen that and we saw that in the 40, 50 years, we've built the largest prison system in the world and we're seeing that now under the trump administration. >> talking about my new book that comes out tomorrow, law & order, policing democracy, i'm also kicking off my book tour tomorrow, a politics and pros in d.c. we're doing an event and then in boston on wednesday and philadelphia on thursday. all of the information is on our facebook page. and bonus, stay tuned to msnbc
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tonight, just a little while, i'll be a guest on the rachel maddow somehow. i'll talk to her about the book and the most overlooked line in the declaration of independence in which thomas jefferson blames british cops for the revolution. you don't want to miss it.
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to one who was in the white house and became somewhat familiar with its inner workings, the watergate matter was an outgrowth of a climate of excessive concern over the political impact of
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demonstrators, excessive concern over leaks and insatiable appetite for political intelligence all coupled with a do-it-yourself white house staff regardless of the law. >> in june of 1973, john dean, richard nixon's white house counsel, talked about the president's subversion of the constitution. 44 years later, the man who testified against nixon watched another high-profile hearing focused on an official investigation that could potentially have similar consequences to watergate. >> now here i think you've said there's no evidence of an illegal wiretap by president obama. is that right? >> i've said the fbi and the department of justice have no information to support those tweets. >> but there is evidence, is there not, of a break-in of the democratic headquarters by a foreign power using cyber means?
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>> yes, there was. >> and there was an effort to cover up the break-in of the democratic party headquarters by using cutouts like wikileaks to publish the stolen material. isn't that right? >> certainly to cover-up that they were the ones releasing it. >> joining me now is john dean, former white house counsel to richard nixon. i was thinking about what you made of today's hearings because i was incapable of finding any kind of precedent or any point of comparison even historically for what we saw. what was your reaction to it? >> well, my reaction to the hearing itself was that it's very early, they're just starting to unravel what has happened. we're just learning the basic and getting affirmations of things rumbled in the press. so it is not a pinnacle moment at all. it's just a really preliminary moment, if you will, is what i saw. and i was more stunned by the reaction of the white house and their handling of it, which seemed to me to be over the top.
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>> that's what i want to talk to you about. there are two issues here. i think we're headed towards a crash course, sort of headed into each other. one is what may or may not have happened in the campaign and any russian elements. there's also the question of whether this white house will obstruct essentially an investigation. you now have the head of the fbi with a target painted on his back, the front line investigators with targets painted on their backs and the u.s. attorney who the president said he was going to retain who has been summarily fired and preet bharara and it strikes me that there's an obstruction tight line that the white house has to tip toe through and if they don't have a culture of compliance in the white house, they are going to blow themselves up. >> that's absolutely correct. in fact, they are in a cover-up mode. there's been no question in my mind about that. i've been inside a cover-up. i know how they look and feel.
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every signal they are sending is, we're covering this up. experienced investigators know this. they know how people react when they're being pursued. the white house is not showing their innocence. they are showing how damn guilty they are is what we're seeing. this is par for the course and they seem to have learned nothing from history because there have been too many cover-ups and they are just typical is they're trying to distance themselves from people that are involved. their characterization of what's going on. >> i want to stop you there because that to me was sort of a striking moment. the paul manafort and general flynn moment where sean spicer tries to say they barely had anything to do with the campaign and when we watched it unfold as manafort was the campaign manager. did that strike you as odd as well? >> it did. this is exactly what happened during watergate.
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for example, when it came clear -- when i had broken rank and became public person out there, suddenly nixon had never had any meetings with me at all. then he had one or two meetings with me. well, we had 37 meetings about watergate. and so -- and he knew damn well we had been deep in the thick of it. suddenly, they distance themselves. that's what we're seeing here when the break-in occurred, for example, at watergate and hunt and libby were uncovered and worked at the white house, suddenly they had done nothing at the white house. they had no real assignments. this is classic coverup, chris, is what we're seeing. >> let me ask you, the idea that the president of the united states -- one thing that stuck with me, the day after the inauguration, to find pictures of the immigration to show pictures of bigger crowds. if he does that for that, the question is does he call someone from the fbi, does he call comey or someone at a desk at the fbi?
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all of those things are things that you would imagine a president would want to do but is restrained from doing with proper advice from counsel. >> well, he certainly has no problem calling out judges on his twitter account and that's getting closer to the area of obstruction. the obstruction statute is actually somewhat narrow. there is no grand jury at this point. so it's very hard to obstruct justice unless you actually have a court proceeding. >> interesting. >> because that's where justice is dispensed. there can be obstruction of congress and other things like that by lying to them and so on. but the obstruction of justice statute hasn't come into play because it's too early into the investigation. they're going into this with a very bad mentality that's going to get them in a lot of trouble. >> it was the impaneling of a grand jury that ultimately was so crucial in watergate. what did that develop then? >> because of the break-in and
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the arrests of the break-in, there was a natural and probable cause to create a grand jury to unravel what had happened at the arrest at the watergate. but that grand jury then after the successful trial of those involved who had been arrested went on and started looking at the coverup and that's where a lot of people got into a lot of trouble. they lied, they disassembled on things they didn't have to. some people got before the grand jury who weren't even involved in watergate and just lied about their activities at the white house and ended up with perjury charges. these things can spread. >> if you're watching and have an interview with anyone from the fbi, retain counsel and do not lie. john dean, thanks for joining us. that is "all in" for this evening. >> that's a public service announcement hopefully you never have to give. >> dispence some tips for free but listen to that advice.
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>> well done. i'll see you in a minute, my friend, you're on your way over. thank you to you at home for joining us. happy to have you with us on a really historic day in american politics and american governance and maybe even in international relations today. today was a big day. in 1945, in the summer of 1945, they called it the gadget. they tested the gadget on july 16th, 1945, and it worked. that was trinity. that was the world's first successful test of an atomic weapon. and then right away, right after trinity, three weeks later, they used it in war. they dropped it an atomic bomb on hiroshima and then after on nagasaki. it happened incredibly fast from july 16th, the trinity test,


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