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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  March 29, 2017 11:00pm-11:31pm PDT

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servient, official title, assistant to the president. the last president to hire one of his kids was ike. and we all know there's no crying in baseball but what about not showing up for the game? the 11th hour begins now. good evening once again from our headquarters in new york and 69 of the trump administration, the biggest story where the white house is concerned came from across town. a lot of people on this broadcast and elsewhere has said what the russia investigation is missing is a president saying he wants to get to the bottom of it all. this was a hugely consequential day and not in ways that they would like. today we heard from the top two members of the senate intelligence committee. on the right, richard burr of north carolina. on the left, mark warner of virginia. in plain english, they sounded like senators ought to sound.
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saying in effect we've got this. promising a sweeping investigation. already the biggest in decades and a bipartisan report when it's all over if you can believe that. taking questions under the hot lights in the capitol, they revealed they've already reached out to 20 witnesses. the only thing they didn't allow, questions on the house intelligence committee. today they made it clear the senate will be different. >> we can't say enough what the mission of the senate committee is. which is to look at all activities that russia might have taken to alter or influence the 2016 elections in the united states. we have promoted seven professional staff to this position. they already have the clearance and already had the knowledge of the materials they were going to look at that started on day one.
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they've been provided thousands of pages and had reviewed to date a majority of those documents. we're within weeks of completing the review of those documents. we will say to you this investigation scope will go wherever the intelligence leads it. so it is absolutely crucial that every day we spend trying to separate fact from fiction and to find some intelligent thread that sends us to the factual side of all the names, and all the places that you in this room have written about. mark and i work hand in hand on this and contrary to maybe popular belief, we're partners to see that this is completed and that we've got a product at the end of the day that we can have bipartisanship in supporting. >> there's a lot of drama about the stories that all of you are running down.
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it's important for us and all of us here to remember not to lose sight about what this investigation is all about. vladimir putin's goal is a weaker united states. weaker economically, weaker globally, and that should be of concern to all americans regardless of party affiliation. we're here to assure you and the american people watching and listening that we will get to the bottom of this. some of the techniques that russia used in this electionads we find more and more, i think would send a chill down anyone who believes in a democratic process in this country or around the world and the committee will follow the intelligence wherever it leads. >> that starts us off and with us. also importantly former counsel to the house intelligence
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committee, jeremy bash and the newest white house reporter on the staff of the wall street journal rejoins us tonight. welcome and jeremy for people who are interested in the process, in rooting this all out, getting at whatever there is to get at, is this a terrific development today? >> this is a very important step forward for the congressional oversight issue. we have the fbi investigation, which will be credible but quiet. we have the house investigation which will not be too credible but very noisy and this committee appears to be moving towards an investigation that will be credible but also will have the ability to bring public hearings and public awareness to the issue. >> it's almost hard to believe they're going to submit a written report at the end of this. republicans working with democrats. >> it was stunning and even though they didn't want any questions, the whole press
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conference felt like a troll of their co horts because that has devolved so much. this was like a buddy comedy saying we will follow this intelligence wherever it leads. i think it's a scary thing for this administration who tried to dismiss it and say there's nothing to sooi see here. there's senior staffers that white house late and they said they wanted to put points on the board this week. they wanted to sign a couple of executive orders and turn the page. but they know this is the biggest thing going right now. and there are lot of people staying up late worrying about it. >> this is not just any business and by that i mean is this the best equipped place to have this investigation? if you believe in the theory we can't have a standing committee or an independent counsel because it will take six to eight months to get that up and running, think about what they're investigating and if you look at life, people in the
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intelligent business are a little more intelligent than the rest of us. this is going to be a hard story for them to get at. >> it's about a foreign adversary interfering in our election. we have to have people willing to do that. and we have two statesman willing to step forward and said we're going to go after this and follow the facts. this investigation looks like it will have two phases. phase one will be what did the intelligence community learn about russian interference. that's very safe territory for the republican majority for the chairman burr. there's a phase two though. which is connections between the trump campaign and russia. that's less safe territory. but if they know after 20 witnesses, they're going after phase two and thats rar reassuring. >> i want to run a portion of what senator burr said and we'll talk about it after this.
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>> having served as an advisor on the trump campaign, can you say hand over heart that you can over see an impartial and serious investigation? >> absolutely. i'll do something i've never done. i'll admit i voted for him. we always hide who we vote for. that's part of the democratic process. but i've got a job in the united states senate and i take that job extremely serious. it overrides any personal belief or loyalties i might have. >> i have confidence in richard burr that we together, with the members of our committee, are going to get to the bottom of this. if you get nothing else from today, take that statement to the bank. >> the golden ticket is fresh reelection to a six-year term. he just won narrow reelection. so he has that kind of cushion. to his credit you don't hear that kind of candor often. >> he spent most of 2016 trying calibrate had you closely to ign himself with donald trump. he's asked a lot about do you
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agree with this thing that donald trump said? he has experience doing that. for the past month he has watched devin nunes-j looking like a partisan hack is not a good look and that's the conclusion a lot of people have come to about chairman nunes. and i think senator burr knew that, realized that and mated a point of being very transparent and making sure people above all else see him as an independent running this committee and not as a republican running with donald trump's party. there are not a lot of republicans that feel pressure on investigations, anything to tie their wagon too closely to this white house. >> i did hear something that may be too inside the beltway. but chairman burr said they have seven staff members with the clooerance to hear the same intelligence as the tom eight members of congress.
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>> it's not a lot relative to what a large investigative agency like the fbi can bring to bear on an investigations but in capitol hill terms -- there's something else i heard from the two members of the senate i thought was relevant. they're not going to interview witnesses like jared kushner until there's a factual predicate. to some that might sound like stalling but that's good news for people who want an investigation based on documents, that's based on evidence so that when you cross examine a witness or interview someone or bring them before public testimony, you have documents to ask them about. >> and let's not forget part of what they said was about security. they need hire up and get cranked up. some of what they deal with has to be inside a skif, a secure room. and fire wall upon fire wall.
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let's not forget the ongoing attack this nation is under from elements in russia. >> right. i mean, this is an ongoing national security thing has to be looked at by the public and certainly the people leading the investigation as not just a political witch hunt, democrats going after this administration. i think senator warner was wise to calibrate his tone and even though there's anger from democrats in the street, they want democrats to not help this administration. he didn't sound like he was a raving lunetic. he sounded like a measured ranking member on this committee that's going to follow intelligence wherever it leads. i think there's an understanding of the gravity that maybe we haven't seen the same way on the house. >> you're an institutionalest, i think i think it's fair to say. did today further diminish what you're witnessing?
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>> it was a study of contrast. i don't want to say it diminished the house but it celt a high bar the house should try to reach as well. they're co equal houses of congress and they should strive to meet that high bar. >> whauv if we've seen the best days of the house intelligence committee investigation? >> that would be a shame and undermine an important oversight function. the permanent select committee, the senate select committee were started in the 1970s, after the watergate abuses from the church and pike hearings and these are major institutions that really step into the shoes of the american people to watch the secret operations of our government. these oversight functions are actually the envy of the world and we go around the world squr explain to other intelligence agencies and services this is how you do oversight in a democracy.
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>> how will the white house view today and how do you think they'll play today? >> i think what we've seen so far is they will say this is natural, this is normal, nothing to see here but i think they're still trying to figure out on a broader level if they need to adjust that approach. if they are having discussions late at night in the west wing about attacking the reporters, the credibility of reporters that ask the questions, if they think it's still wise to continue to traud out nunes to help them reengineer their alibis, they need to have those conversations. there's no good way to do that. this is kind of a historic thing we're watching and sean spicer every day has a difficult job. it's difficult to stand up and say it's not happening when it's dominating the news and frankly over shadowing everything they're try doing do on capitol hill. good luck on tax reform when you
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can't get the media off of this bigger story and it is about the legit maesz of this administration and whether or not that election was legit. >> and tomorrow they're going to have a hearing on what russia is doing. i predict it will be a very workman like hearing, a lot about foreign policy issues and russia's world view, what putin's agenda is. it won't have a lot of splash and it may not have a ton of news but it will set the predicate for this very important phase two which is okay, we know they interfered. what we don't know is was there coordination to use fbi director comey's phrase, coordination between trump and his innercircle and the russians? >> and a guy to watch closely, senator marco rubio of florida for a lot of reasons. we'll take our first break. coming up the view of an insider who can tell us where this
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investigation may be headed on the hill next when the. ways win.
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comcast business. built for speed. built for business. we want to interrupt things for just a moment because of a breaking news story out of hawaii that has national implications and falls on political and judicial lines. a federal judge in hawaii has just decided a temporary order blocking the enforcement of president trump's travel ban should be extended. this in short gives the challengers to trump's executive order what they wanted. in effect it continues to ban
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the travel ban. air go things will stay as they are. the administration will not be able to enforce this most recent executive order. now we return to the topic at hand, the russia investigation. 48 hours ago monday night, our friend, jeremy bash broke a story on the air we did not know was coming. >> i think the real story, the real issue is not so much about the midnight run by the chairman on to the white house grounds, it's really that they wanted to cancel the hearing this week. the hearing this week was going to hear from sally yates, the former acting attorney general. and i'm told she had interesting things to tell the committee too, tell the public about when she told white house counsel that mike flynn had in fact been lying to the vice president and she was only going to be able to speak those things in the concept of the congressional hearing.
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this was an elaborately coriaographed gag order on sally yates. >> this headline from the washington post says the trump administration sought to block sally yates from testifying on behalf of russia. in addition to his work, remembered his former kouns thool house intelligence committee. so i guess the way to get at this again is how, by the treatment of yates, can you discern perhaps what yates has to say or had to say in past tense. >> well, let's break it down. my understanding is that yates' testimony would have differed from the official white house accounts. now we don't know exactly in what way her testimony would have differed from the official white house accounts but we can think about two potentialities. what she told to white house
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counsel and said hey, you've got a problem on your hand with your national security advisor. that's point one. the second thing she could have talked about is what she heard in response from the white house. what did he say back to her or other people in the white house. did he say we don't care or we're not interested at all? or did they say oh, my goodness this is a surprise to us? in either case, 17 days pass and these are the 17 days that i think require emphasis. so from january 26th, which is when she went to talk to the white house about mike flynn to february 13th, the day flynn resigns, he was fired. 17 days elapsed. what was happening during that time? if the president knew flynn had misled senior officials in the white house, why did they continue to allow him to have access to very sensitive
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information? >> and on his way out, the world was told that it was because he had lied to the vice president, mike pence, who then got involved kind of in a back door way that he had officially been asked to leave. >> and the big question regarding those 17 days is did the president approve and okay mike flynn's conversations with the russians? why did he fire mike flynn? from an outsider looking in, it appears they only fired him because the washington post later broke a story that said flynn had been lying. but for the press looking into this, it's unclear whether they would have reacted at all to sally yates' warning. >> let me ask you another question about your line of work. meaning offense to no one.
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if i'm fbi director comey and i have watched the republican chairman of house intelligence go up to the executive branch and see intelligence and go up the next day and share some piece of intelligence with the president, am i really anxious to share with that chairman to brief him up fully, to let him know everything i'm supposed to tell him, everything i know? >> it's a great point because we've had counterintelligence investigations. we've had criminal investigations of the white house. never a counterintelligence investigation of the white house and the innecircle. th is unmapped terrain. to tell the commander and chief about the threats to the country, he might have to expose sources and methods to that commander and chief. you have to wonder are these people going to compromise those sources? >> i heard a democrat today on
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television make the point rather cavalierly that nunes is the best friend the democrats could have and the clear implication was that he's not competent at the job of being chairman of house intel. i know you're not from the political side of life. >> there has to be credible investigation from the fbi, from the republican led house committee and from the republican led senate committee. these investigations must be completely nonpartisan. so i don't think nunes is the best friend of the democrats. he's got to take this on and every bit of a professional and nonpartisan way. >> i called you an institutionalest earlier and i guess i'm old enough nautd to think of that as a prujort. and it was meant that way. you've worked with great men and women in the intelligence
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business, on the congressional side of things. for our viewers at home who have come to trust your opinion, how serious is ts comped to everything else your professional life? >> it'a huge crisis because it's from an adversary trying to undermine the most precious thing we have, our own election process and our system of checks and balances is at stake here. what could be bigger than that? >> on that note we will end that segment. coming up donald and ivanka trump. a new kind of family business at the white house. that is up next.
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the president has a new aid, hisdater, ivanka trump who just took on the ielt assistant to the president. she released a statement saying in part i have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules and i will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the white house office subject to all of the same rules as federal employees. this despite her comments after the election that she would not work at the white house.
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>> people think that you're going to be part of the administration, ivanka. >> i'm -- no. i'm going to be a daughter. but i've said throughout the campaign that i am very passionate about certain issues and that i want to fight for them. wage equality, child care. these are things very important for me. i'm very passionate about education. really promoting more opportunities for women. so there are a lot of things i feel deeply strongly about but not in a formal administrative capacity. >> eli remains here with us and joining the conversation, rachel abrams who covers ivanka's brand and conflicts of interest with her brand. we are calling it a federal employ. you can choose not to collect a salary but you're going to get a federally issued phone and phone number and clearances.
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>> and subject to certain ethics rules, conflict of interest rules. she will have to make the same kind of disclosures as her husband. before she was saying she was going to voluntarily do all of that. obviously that means there are no enforcement mechanisms in case she chooses not to voluntarily do it. i think ethics experts are happier she's going to officially be part of the administration. >> what should we know that you've found out along the way? >> she obviously has her business, she has separated herself and created her own business interest. like her father, she's created an empire out of licensing their name. she's tried to expand overseas. so a lot of conflicts do apply to ivanka and she's had to take similar steps to mitigate those conflicts.

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