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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  May 9, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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the criticism about the handling of the clinton investigation is one they have been articulating for months and may have been the difference in the election. to me it >> andrea mitchell, thank you for joining us tonight. >> thank you very much. >> what a day to be alive. that does it for us tonight. we'll see you again tomorrow. our coverage continues with lawrence o'donnel, on the last word.
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>> we're going to continue our breaking news live coverage of this. i wanted to amplify for you what andrea was just telling you about the wadirector comey former director comey found out about this, the "new york times" account of this is just stunning. he was addressing a group of fbi employees in los angeles when the television in the background flashed the news that he had been fired. in response, mr. comey laughed. he said he thought it was a fairly funny prank. and then his staff started securing around in the background, told mr. comey that he should step into a nearby office. mr. comey stopped addressing the group. he proceeded to shake hands with the employees he had been speaking to and he stepped into a side office where he confirmed that he had been fired. at that point, he had not heard from the white house. shortly after that, rachel,
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after all of that, it's been on television, a letter from the president was delivered to the fbi's headquarters just 7 blocks from the white house, the letter arrives after it's been on television, after comey find out that way. >> yeah. so the idea that this is something they've been cooking since last july and they rolled out in an orderly way today because they taken their time to get this right, it defies -- it really does defy belief. this is something they apparently had to get to right away, very suddenly with that kind of a roll out and we're seeing it unfold tonight. we saw it unfold with that private plane on the tarmac at lax tonight. >> rachel, just before andrea you had matthew miller, spokesperson, and he knows how it works there. i was really struck about how he said that these pieces of paper that we got today are so thin and so unlike the way the
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justice department normally works, everything in it dated today and apparently no prior thought given to it. when you look at the underlying firing document, which is the rod rosenstein document. based on what he find, i think he should be fired. the president's letter said you should be fired, there's some stuff attached to this if you want to know this. it's all in this letter, which is very ry thin. and comes -- it's titled -- the title of his memo is, restore -- restoring public confidence in the fbi. that's the mission of this memo. and that's what we're going to do today. we're going to have the president under investigation of fbi, fire the director of the fbi to achieve the goals of this memo, restoring public comments in the fbi. >> and to have that firing by the president who is under investigation by the fbi, to
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have it be carried out as if he is doing it to defend the honor and the legal dignity of hillary clinton from last year, his opponent in the presidential election of lock her up fame. the idea that he would be acting as president because he was so concerned she might have been unfairly me lined by the fbi and that's why he needs to be fired in the middle of his counter intelligence investigation and trump ties with russia. it's astonishing and part of the way that we'll know whether or not it's wise, that they're trying to get away with this, is whether or not people credit what they say as being the reason for what they do. i have always believed that this administration is much easier if you cover them as a silent movie and you ignore what they say and watch what they do. so often what they say is -- it's a smoke screen. >> and rachel, this home me is going to be really dissected, i think tomorrow.
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it tries to cite bipartisan support for firing comey. there's no such thing -- they're citing pieces by eric holder who disagreed with the way he handled the e-mail investigation, but he never said fire him. in fact, he said in his -- that he thought comey was an honorable guy. they're going to be fair in their proceedings going forward. but the people that are being cited in here, some of these democrats that are being cited in this memo, never said that president trump should fire comey. >> and, even if they had said he should fire comey in november or in january or, you know, all of these other dates on the things are cited, they're from months ago. there's no explanation as to why those firings might be happening now. lawrence, the thing that i am -- the thing i am really hung up on and none of our guest have been
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able to answer, there's no basis in american jurs prudence and american politics to base an answer on, is what happens if this is about the trump russia investigation. this is about shutting it down and it works. they installed deputy director and make them the acting director of the fbi and maybe they ultimately make them the director of the fbi. the fbi and the department of justice under jeff sessions' leadership, they decide to ignore all the recusals, they kwaush the investigation if there are grand jurys or if there's -- or if there's on going questioning from the fbi, that stuff gets set aside by dick from this white house and from this administration. what's the remedy for that. if you've got a republican controlled congress that doesn't have any interest in overseeing the administration and the justice department and a way to stop that, is there any other remedy and we've never had to face that before. >> we've never had to face that
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before. one of the differences you've been talking about water gate tonight and the nixon administration, they had a democratic congress -- but it was really a bipartisan effort in the congress to get at the truth of what was happening there and there was a point that no republican found defensible. there was a line to cross where they said, that's it. this is indefensible. and what is in defensible to the republican congress. what is indefensible to the republican senate. we don't knoat tonight. but we had been looking at the fbi. i certainly had, rachel. we look at this menu of investigations going on up there, the house committee, senate committee, judiciary and intelligence in the senate, i was always saying, well, the criminal investigation by the fbi is the most important one, they're the best equipped. they have all the right ammunition to do this. they will be the silent one, we won't know what's going on, but that's the -- that's the one that really matters and the senate and house investigations matter less. well the senate investigation
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just became possibly the most important investigation going, that looks like possibly the most bipartisan one, mark warner is going to join us later, he is the democrat who is the koe chair of the senate intelligence committee. the pressure is on him now. the pressure is on that committee now in a way that it wasn't before. >> yeah, and they're right in the middle of it. right now today was their deadline for documents they had requested for four trump associates from mike flynn, manafort, paige and roger stone. >> yes. >> that today was the four -- the deadline for them handing over documents. as far as we understand it, at least three of those people did not hand over their documents to the senate intelligence committee by that deadline today. i think it's also crucial. you can talk to senator warner about this, they made a request today to the financial crimes
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unit which investigates things like international money laundering asking them for documentation that they got about president trump himself or people associated with him. that request went into treasury today. mark warner made public disclose sure of that request today. it was hours after that that we got word that the fbi director had been fired. this is -- it's a fast moving story, he's right in the middle of it. but it's very hard to know where the investigate -- sort of -- the accountability, authority, and accountability comes from here on out if they keep canning people to get close toyota. >> please stay with us for a few more minutes, we'll bring in experts who know a little bit more than we do, you can present some of these questions to them. justice correspondent is joining us now. clint wauts, he's a fellow at the foreign policy research institute and former fbi agent. he's also an msnbc contributor. pete, where do we go from here, what does this do to an on going fbi investigation. we know that the director has to
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oversee a lot in the course of the day and there's someone at the fbi who is overseeing that russia investigation nonstop. does this in any way inhibit how that investigation proceeds? >> well, in a very practical way, no, but it can't help but delay the investigation. it's going to stretch it out some for a couple of reasons, one, is that the conclusions have to be reported to the head of the fbi who right now is andrew mccabe, who was, until a few hours ago, the deputy fbi director and now the acting director. but it's going to have somewhat of a ripple effect. for right now the fbi is stunned. there was a conference call tonight with all these special agents in charge. the executives have been meeting. i can guarantee you that at the last several hours, nothing has been happening on the russia investigation because everybody is just stunned by what has happened here. it's going to take a while for the engine to get back up to
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speed. i mean, the investigation will still go on. the agents that have their tasking will still do it. the extent to which court processes use to gather evidence, that will all go on. and it's not going to stop. but i think in the short term it will delay it a little bit and then, of course, the political questions about whether whatever it concludes now will have a cloud over it. >> pete, if there is a grand jury that has been impanelled in this investigation, is that something that is now given -- with the grand jury underway, is that beyond the reach of interference from above. >> grand jurys are used at early stage in an investigation, mainly to gather evidence to subpoena, to issue a subpoenas, that's what you use grand jurys for. that's just basic day in and day out work of the federal prosecution. but somebody takes things to the grand jury.
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prosecutors take things to the grand jury. that's all going to go on. so the russia information is not going to stop and there's a certain amount of momentum here, even if somebody tried to stop it, it would go on for a while and there would be a huge push back if anybody actually tried to stop it. i can't imagine that that's going to happen. so it will go on but it will, i think, the inevitable conclusion of what's happened here is that it's going to delay it some. >> clint watts, tell us what we need to do, pete was talking about him. he met with the president tonight before the president decided to make him the acting director. he was the deputy director until this afternoon when the director was fired. >> yeah, mccabe is a veteran of the counter terrorism. has an excellent reputation. he's very well-known and inside the fbi. and he's one of those people that's been running things like
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what's called i toss and the counter terrorism division. he's got a wealth of experience and he's moved up progressively through the ranks. he's a no nonsense guy and i think he'll be an excellent choice for the job. and, you know, you were talking before about will the investigations continue. the investigations will absolutely continue, but the piece that i think most people are missing in terms of the connection here. anything that's going to put in terms of charges, if it's something that comes from the russia investigation, ultimately will be given to a prosecutor, u.s. attorney to the department of justice. and so when you look at this letter, this firing tonight, it comes from the doj. so the gap isn't so much about will the investigation continue, it's what aggressive action can be taken or what charges can be levied when you have a doj that's going around removing people selectively in this case, comey. >> rachel, what do you make of the political response from the democrats tonight, which is not
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completely organized yet. but chuck schumer stepping out their early, putting all the pressure on rod rosenstein, but he has the power to name a special prosecutor and that was where chuck schumer was tonight, that we now must move to special prosecutor, that will be the only way to restore confidence as this move to fire comey today is allegedly to restore confidence, according to this memo. >> you know, that has been the democrats line and handful of republicans line from the very beginning that an independent investigation separate and apart from this department of justice, special prosecutor ought to be the one looking into this because this idea that jeff sessions can recuse his way into independence on this and the way he'll make people feel confident about prosecuting decisions as clint was just saying, is farfetched. it's hard to get there. this ought to be pursued
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independently. when you pull the public on this, people will say you would prefer that there was a nonpartisan investigation on this, not something from one of the agencies and frankly not something from the partisan committees in congress. so there's an impotence for that. right now, though, with -- it's sort of all different as of tonight because now we've -- we've got the department of justice, including the attorney general who said he would recuse from this matter, removing the fbi director in the middle of this investigation. and no, we do not know what the practical impact of that is going to be. we'll have to watch it happen. now that they've done that. for only the second time in american history, we've got an fbi director being removed in the middle of his term for an explanation that frankly makes no sense in terms of its timing. now, i think, there's no way that this justice department can be seen to be independent of the partisan wins that have buffeted the thing from the very beginning. having a special prosecutor
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appointed will become almost unbearable. i will expect that republicans who are taking a patriotic view on this will start joining those democratic calls, at least, by the morning. >> thank you very much for going into over time with us, i really appreciate it. >> pete williams, on the rod rosenstein memo about restoring public confidence in the fbi as it says. it refers exclusively to the hillary clinton e-mail investigation and how that was handled and there's not a single reference in there to the russia investigation. and it seems a relevant point even if you are considering firing the fbi director for the way he handled the hillary clinton e-mail investigation. wouldn't it be reasonable in the current climate to include a factor of -- that he is running an investigation that is about the current presidential administration and that might be
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perceived as being part of this issue of restoring confidence in the fbi, that this might hurt confidence in the fbi if we then fire him over this thing that we're thinking about firing him over. >> i know what you mean. that seemed to be the sub text of the rosenstein memo. i want to pick up a point that you made earlier, lawrence. which is the first part of the memo is a bill of particulars going through all the things thathe thought was wrong. the way in which he criticized hillary clinton and said he shouldn't be charged. he thought that was too much. he thought it was completely wrong that the fbi director in his words, put himself above the justice department by taking away from loretta lynch the authority to make the decision on prosecutions or effectively under cutting the decision, of course, to make the letter in late october, send that to congress about reopening the e-mail investigations, all of
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those things he thought were wrong that didn't follow justice department guidelines. and after that, though, he said i'm not alone in my assessment here and then he refers to a letter that 100 or so fbi and former justice department, former fbi people signed around the time of the comey letter saying they thought it was wrong. as you point out, those are -- that is not a contemporary endorsement of rosenstein's decision to fire comey. that was criticism at the time. there's a little bit -- a little bit of a break there in terms of the logic of the letter, but rosenstein cites them for support of his position that the fbi director was way off on the wrong track. >> pete, just before you go, give us a little bit more of a sense of the shock level at the justice department and the fbi with this news as it came into today and how that shock is being processed as the evening
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wears on. >> well, you cited what the "new york times" account of how comey found out about that which is consistent of what we've been told. recall that the fbi director himself, the man in charge of the place did not know he was being fired. no one at fbi headquarters knew. that letter was delivered to the fbi headquarters for director comey about the time he was in la. but no one at the fbi saw this coming. certainly james comey didn't, none of his people did. they were all absolutely shocked and incredulous when they came out this afternoon. and they're trying to get their footing now. >> pete, do we know -- how much time went by when it was on tv, which is presumably how everyone at the fbi learned about it. and when andrew went to the white house to meet with the president. at that point, you have presumably andrew mccabe at the fbi headquarters knowing he's now the highest ranking guy in the fbi, but no one has talked
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to him and he doesn't know who is running the fbi as of that moment. >> i don't know the timing. i don't know when he went to the white house. i know that when we first heard about this, which was -- i'm trying to think back now, it's been a while, 5:30 or so eastern time tonight. >> approaching about 5:45. >> that was before it was on any of the cable networks. when i reached out to senior people at the fbi, they said -- we don't know what you're talking about. what are you telling me. so i don't know, but i don't know when mccabe went to the white house for his meeting. i do know that justice department officials tell us that sessions and rod rosenstein called him to tell him about this, so i'm -- i gather that he found out about it before jim comey did. >> pete williams, thank you very much for joining us on this long and important day. really appreciate your time. >> you bet. >> she's the president of the center of american progress. she supported hillary clinton. also joining us -- for msnbc and
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david from a senior editor for the atlantic. and so the president of the united states has decided that it is absolutely outrageous -- outrageous what james comey did in the investigation of hillary clinton's e-mail, the candidate you're working for and now he fires james comey. so apparently, he was doing it for you. >> yeah. i think that that kind consideration that donald trump has for hillary clinton is one of the reasons why i can't -- i don't think anyone in america believes this excuse. obviously, we've all seen the tape of president trump at the time donald trump, not -- just as a candidate, applauding fbi director comey more his behavior. just as he became president, he blew air kisses at the fbi director at the white house.
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and so the idea that he was so mortally wounded bthe i's director's bavior is absurd and laughable. i think the true fact is over the last 24 hours we've had abundant evidence of, you know, essentially what seems like conclusions, sally yates talks about and intimated that there was evidence of collusion. you have the senate investigations, basically, sending subpoenas about business ties with russia. and we now hear of grand jurys getting closer and closer to mike flynn, issuing subpoenas. and so all of that behavior in the last 24 hours, i think, explains a lot more about president trump's behavior today in firing the fbi director than anything that happened on this campaign and i don't think anyone will believe it. >> we have some video that's going to be ready in a minute, i think about exactly what donald trump had to say about jim comey's handling of the e-mail
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-- first, david from actually -- it's ready now, let's watch this. because you just referred to this, the way the president talked about this during the campaign and how much he approved of what james comey did especially at the end of the campaign with that final sequence of letters just in the final days of the campaign. let's listen to this. >> it took guts for director comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had when 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'll tell you what, what he did, he brought back his reputation. he brought it back. he's got to hang tough because it's a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing, what he did was the right thing.
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>> and so that same person today wrote a letter to james comey saying, i have accepted the recommendation and you are here by terminated and removed from office effective immediately. david from, it was for, acrding to the letr, exactly the conduct that donald trump, in that video we just saw, praised. >> no one can believe that. just this morning, kellyanne conway and the head of the social white house media operation were on twitter how they were going to release the video of donald trump's telephone call with hillary clinton on the night of the election, to wound and humiliate. these are not -- it's not possible they had any kind of consideration. so that is just -- the very fact of that lie, that obvious lie makes it -- raises the question -- there must be some other reason. and none of the other alternatives are good ones and more and more, by the way, republican senators are speaking out. senator flake spoke out in the last ten minutes as the show was getting going.
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he find this unacceptable. this was the first time we've seen a crack in the republican ranks. and with senator sass, senator mccain, you're seeing senators -- senator burr from north carolina, you're seeing people stand up. >> and the important thing about hearing from flake and senator sass is they are on the judiciary committee. they'll be the first voters in the confirmation of the next fbi director. alexander managed to get minutes interviewing him about this situation, let's go to that. >> scholars are comparing this to nixon saturday massacre, what do you make of those comparisons? >> i think this is ridiculous. the deputy was confirmed by the senate 94 to 6 just two weeks ago, bipartisan praise who served as u.s. attorney for maryland under president obama who has been watching and understanding the fbi for years. and as someone who oversees the fbi decided the director lost his confidence.
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this is ironically a decision that should have been shared by most democrats, leader of nancy pelosi, all talked about how he lost the confidence to lead the fbi. >> that is not the reaction that sean spicer wants from chuck schumer. they're saying that the mission of this memo, rosenstein's memo which was to restore confidence -- restore public confidence in the fbi, but the op way to do that now is a special prosecutor. >> and i think that is, legally, one of the only ways that american public will ever know whether this was fully investigated. we do live in an era, you've reported and been in involved in washington for a long time. my view, this is the most significant and potentially damaging thing that donald trump has done since he assumed the office of the presidency, not because we know exactly why he did it, although several of your
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analysts here have just explained why the official explanation doesn't add up. but because of the entire process, it is clearly suspect. to make a couple of points on that, number one, there's an open doj issue how comey handled the e-mail investigation. that was not finished, that was not taken into account. number two, the official story is we are led to believe that deputy attorney general who has a lot of power but is not the boss, comes into office. comes to meet and greet. set up his office, put his books on the shelf. within 13 days is looking for a midterm firing of the fbi director, something that's happened once in american history only after full review as i mentioned that was done then by the office of professional responsibility. that he sends this over, not through the typical way the doj speaks, which is through research memoranda with precedence and law and citations. with a series of quotes, something that campaigns tend to put together.
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>> from pieces and public remarks, which does not suggest any inquiry, that goes to the white house and as you have documented and reported tonight is immediately and swiftly turned into a giant decision. this does not add up. that does not mean that i've -- as i've been reporting that we know where it ends or we assume rather than guilt or innocence. it does mean based on what we know the history and it does not run this way. that, i think, brings more questions. i don't so much care, quite nestly, whether the white house was or was not expecting a political reaction. i do whether there's a nonpartisan power of concern here. that goes way beyond politics. >> looking at this as a legal opinion, as it were, restoring public confidence in the fbi. it's an extra legal concept to begin with, so this is basically, it's a public relations exercise. we want to restore public confidence in the fbi.
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we want to do that by firing the fbi director. and then you put in the reasons, here is why we want to do, the hillary clinton investigation. if you're talking about restoring public confidence in the fbi today, you have to mention that there is an fbi investigation of the trump administration and its friends and the transition and the campaign and, therefore, in my final conclusion of this having considered that also i, therefore, recommend what. it might be something completely different. >> and you are putting your finger on it, lawrence, and it bears repeating, as you know from being in the senate, the moment that this material cites russia is the moment that jeff sessions has to formerly recuse himself. >> you could have a sessions letter on top of that. >> exactly. >> so the theory of this case is, we can do this and talk about the reasons, if we don't mention russia, we have the deputy ag. the moment we mention russia, we now have to abide by the legal
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recusal that -- or what i should call, partial recusal that jeff sessions committed to, which is regard to russia campaign issues -- plus another person, jim comey who is overseeing that investigation. so that, again, i think raises why very few observers, whatever your politics are going to believe this reasoning, but part of the reason it's so awkward, because rod is a good lawyer and he knows if he even addresses or mentions it. then jeff sessions can't be involved. >> david, big difference in the speed of the firing of james comey ver us the speed of the firing of general michael flynn. >> the president by the way continues to defend. with this one, it does look -- we'll learn, what, 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, the depth of the president's emotional
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reaction to all of this. he has to be ready to explode. >> talk about what happens in the fbi tomorrow with this new acting director mccabe taking over, does he address the troops, does he make a public statement because after all, this change was to restore public confidence in the fbi. does he make a public statement about how -- what the public should expect now from the fbi. >> i think hfocuses inside the fbi tomorrow. he's not going to be one to go out, i think, and try to speak to the public. that's part of the problems that director comey got himself into over the past year. i think what he's going to focus on is reassuring the ranks that things will continue on and businesses as normal. i think investigations will proceed. you're not going to see fbi agents not work for example. they'll continue on with their daily task and routines. but if you wanted to restore confidence in the fbi, this is the worst way to do it. i mean, the fbi -- has faced
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significance political pressure from both sides over the last year. the last thing you want to do is fire the director, not even notifying him, you know, trump likes to say that he's a classy guy. this is the most low class way to go about firing your fbi director. and this is a -- you know, inside job, rush move, like we've seen with executive orders. this isn't going to bring about confidence in the fbi. what it's going to do, it's going to set them back a little bit to where they say, do i have to bow to his rule of law, the presidents or the rule of law for this country. this wasn't america, first tonight. this was president trump, first tonight. >> i was struck by the memo that was based -- he very famously in the hearing last week said that his choice on the e-mails came down to speak or conceal, that's the way he put it. i found fault with that here on this program and so did, apparently, this memo. but the notion that -- one thing
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you can say about comey. he certainly has been very public about describing the way he went about making his decisions in this and we don't know anything like that kind of detail about the way the decision to fire michael flynn finally was made. >> yeah, i mean, obviously, it's ridiculous. we learned yesterday days and days, weekwent by ere th white house knew that michael flynn was blackmailble by the russians and did nothing, which was a -- another reason why you would be worried and another part of the foder for the investigation. but let me just step back here and say at the end of the day, the department of justice is under a cloud after this. and i think that the reality here is that rod's opinion or this memo, which i agree, is
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poorly argued. it does not look like normal. justice department legal memoranda arguing a case. it's argue mentation written more like a campaign. the reality of this is americans are not going to have faith in this process unless there is a special prosecutor or an independent commission, something that takes this outside the chain of command of donald trump, because we saw today that donald trump will fire people who are in his way. who are in the way of this investigation. and that is why, i think, republicans have goodwill who have asked questions about this firing need to take the next step and say, they support a special prosecutor or an independent commission, in this case, i think, really a special prosecutor is required. let's say this fbi investigation goes for it and it's never prosecuted. no one will believe if that happened because they really didn't find any facts. they will also believe that rod
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covered up for president trump or sessions covered up for president trump and that is a tragedy. >> hold on a second. i just want to make the point that white house is just released information, the president's schedule now will include spending some time with the russian foreign minister at the white house tomorrow the day after all of this. david, go ahead. >> republicans have a very practical reason also agree to independent commission or special prosecutor. they need to get this out of congress. the deal that republicans made with president trump was, you know, understanding who he is and what he is, that they hope he would at least sign the major legislion that he wanted to pass in this rare moment of unified corol. the health care bill is now in the senate. it has to be really rewritten there from scratch. there isn't a tax plan yet. if this matter is still in congress, republicans are going to get nothing done before the summer recess and the clock is ticking before what may be a
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very bad 2018 election for them. get this on your own terms. get this where it can be investigated by other people. take it off your docket and rewrite the health care bill and get to work on taxes. >> let's get more senate reaction on this and this happened moments after the news of the comey firing first broke today about 15 minutes after that i spoke with senator mark warner, he's a top democrat on the senate intelligence committee. joining us now, virginia senator mark warner, vice chair of the senate intelligence committee. thank you for joining us, your reaction to the firing of the fbi director? >> it's pretty outrageous. and here is what we know, lawrence, we know that this president has now fired the deputy attorney general in terms of ms. yates. he's fired nearly ever u.s. attorney. he's now fired the fbi director. he had his national security adviser have to resign because
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of communications with russians. we've had his attorney general have to recuse himself. we've had the new deputy attorney general, the first action he takes is to basically fire the guy that's in charge of the investigation he's suppose to be overseeing. so this is not a very confidence building day for our country and for that matter, the rule of law. my hope is that members of both political parties will realize this is more significant that just the one particular president but it is really about how we're doing to view the rule of law, how we're going to make sure that we continue this investigation that i'm on the cochair or vice chair of this conclusion. we'll want to see former director comey now itestimony to say what he knew. and to say it's troubling will be a vast under statement. >> senator, how does this change what now former director comey will be able to testify to to your committee.
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>> well, that's -- that's still a question in terms of classifications, my hope is former director comey will be more forthcoming. i know this, our investigation has been more important, we have to get to the bottom of it. they'll follow the intel wherever it leads the information. the facts wherever they leave. i have to tell you, i've lost a lot of faith in this justice department to be able to carry out the law. i believe we need a special counsel or special prosecutor, i'm going to be looking at who this president nominates to be the next fbi director. i'm going to be as vigilant as i can be, it's more important if they try now to squash, somehow, which is the most significant independent investigation of ties between trump and trump officials and the russians. >> senator, as many of us have surveyed all of the investigations going on, the congressional investigations,
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your own investigation, many of us, myself included, have said, well, the fbi investigation is the most powerful of these investigations. it has the most powerful tools. it will also be the one about which we will know the least as it proceeds. how would you expect the fbi to be able to restore confidence in its own going investigation with a change of leadership. >> lawrence, you've hit the nail on the head, first of all it is true. it would not only power subpoena, which we have, but extra powers, the powers to bring criminal charges you can't make this stuff up. i think it's -- i have concerns about the fbi sh so that's why i believe we need a special
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prosecutor. prosecutor. but boy oh, boy, lawrence, more than ever, this senate investigation, which i've been frustrated sometimes at our pace. but it becomes more absolutely essential than ever. and we've got to keep it as much as possible bipartisan and we've got to follow the facts because this is now been elevated to a -- you picked the defcon level than it was. earlier in the day, as we heard, an update on this investigation and we had not actually director comey appearing before our committee on thursday. the questions and the tension level just builds. >> senator, do you have any suggestions to the white house about how to choose the next fbi director.
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would that be possibly something that should be a consensus pick, suggested by both parties in the judiciary committee. >> lawrence, i think if there was ever a time for a consensus pick to get somebody who was a career prosecutor, to get somebody that was, in effect, above pressure, but that was suppose to be the deputy attorney general who now we've seen written frankly laughable letter explaining the firing for comey was because he didn't treat then secretary clinton nice enough, whoever believes that, maybe there is a piece of real estate i can sell you in russia or in south florida. but, you know, i think more than ever now we need that kind of consensus pick, but what we've not seen from this administration at any turn is this move to the center, or this move to rising above the story of the day. you know, there's a whole lot of dots, lawrence, that we've got to connect. boy oh boy if you look at the
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timeline of people being fired. if you look at the timeline of ms. yates' testimony yesterday, you look at the actions today, you look at the fact that we were moving forward with our investigation now in terms of getting information and scheduling the more interesting witnesses, this is more than a little bit curious that they chose today to fire jim comey. >> final question, about rod rosenstein, we've heard sally yates, you're saying tonight, the reason he gave to the president for firing jim comey are laughable. >> they're not believable on any order. you know, i voted for this gentleman based upon his reputation in maryland. but i am deeply disappointed and i if i could have that vote back, but i will be voting in a difference way. because the explanation is so patently laughable that i'm just very disappointed in the deputy
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attorney general based upon his reputation that he would put his name to that kind of letter. >> senator mark warner, vice chair of the intelligence committee, thank you very much for joining us on this important night. really appreciate. >> thank you, lawrence. >> and you reacted when you heard senator warner say if he could have the vote back on confirming rosenstein, they never say that. that is something you never hear senators say if i could have that back. >> he only needs 14 days back in time to get it. that's striking, notable. they like to defend themselves, usually. >> it's a straking development we've been reported that senator schumer has asked all democratic members of the united states senate to be in their seats on the senate floor at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. this is an extremely rare request by a leader that all members of one side or the other be in their seats on the senate floor.
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that rarely happens. he is, obviously, going to make some extremely important announcement at that time and it may well be an extension of his comments tonight in which he said that he is in, effect, demanding a special prosecutor, there is no way to have any confidence in this investigation going forward without a special prosecutor. and it's all up to rod rosenstein to appoint that special prosecutor and what minority leader schumer said earlier this season, he kept invoking that name, time and time again. he has to do it. i would suspect that the announcement he might make on the senate floor tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. is the democrats will participate in no senate business whatsoever until that appointment of a special prosecutor occurs. >> i hope they do that. i mean, i hope they take every stand they k. i mean, really what's happened tonight is an
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affront to our democracy. let me just say, i think we'll know whether this is a legitimate, whether a legitimate investigation is possible or not, by whether rod roseen stein names the prosecutor or not. no one is going to have faith in this justice department. when mark warner has already regretted his support for rod, you know that there's no democrat that is going to have any faith and no democrat in the senate and the congress is going to have any faith in the process and americans aren't going to have faith in this process, already, there is strong bipartisan support before tonight for an independent commission and a special prosecutor to look into this. you know, 65, 70%, you know, a lot of republicans, most independents, the vast majority of democrats. that was before tonight. so the reality is that unless special prosecutor is named. we're going to have the sense that this is become a sham investigation.
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that, i think, is why rod really, for his reputation, has to name a special prosecutor. >> the very, very strange man living in the white house tonight has just tweeted his response to what chuck schumer has had to say about this already and possibly his he's going to say something at 9:30. he said crying chuck schumer stated recently, i do not have confidence in him, james comey any longer and acts so indignant and then he adds, drain the swamp. that's the presidential reaction to the minority leader of the united states senate. >> well, there will be more, you know, he never does just one of those. he gets into these rage storms and we'll be hearing it. there should be three, five republican votes, if that's what chuck schumer does. meanwhile the trump administration is doubling down on another cable network, white
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house spokesman or deputy spokesman -- spokesperson was insisting it's time to close the whole russia matter down. that's very obviously what the administration wants to do. they want to silence it and want it to go away and can't be allowed to go away. you know, it is really worth remembering that in water gate, as bad as the offense that richard nixon committed, they were not out of line with what presidents had been doing since franken eleanor roosevelt's time. he was not the -- other presidents have done that before. the underlying suggestions here, if true, and we don't know they're all true. if true. this really is a unique and sinister turn in american democracy. exactly the thing the founders of the country were most worried about in the office of the presidency, which was foreign interference. >> i want to listen to what -- you just made reference to this, david, that's sarah huckabee sanders deputy press secretary of the white house on fox news
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tonight, she is scheduled tomorrow to give the briefing, according to the white house schedule tomorrow, which is the thinnest white house schedule i have ever seen. it has exactly one meeting for the president of the united states and the 1:30 briefing is now scheduled to be delivered by senator sanders and this is a preview on fox news tonight about what we're going to hear from her tomorrow. let's listen to this. >> i think the bigger point on that is, my gosh, tucker, when are they going to let that go. it's been going on for nearly a year. frankly, it's kind of getting absurd. there's nothing there. we've heard that time and time again. we've heard it in the testimony earlier this week. we've heard it for the last 11 months. there is no there, there, it's time to move and and time to focus on the things that the american people care about. they're not worried about the
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false narrative that the media continues to want to drive. >> we're joined now by kim at nbc news intelligence and national security reporter. do you have an answer for sarah sanders about when are they going to let this go. >> well, lawrence, i don't think senator richard, the chairman of the senator chairman committee shares that view. as a matter of fact you've probably seen a statement tonight that he said this firing is troubling. we've been talking a lot about democrats tonight. i'm struck by the reaction. i'm looking at a tweet from senator jeff flake, not too long ago. i've been the last several hou for the timing of the firing, he said. i just can't do it. so, you know, to the extent that democrats maintain united front demanding a special prosecutor and they pick off a handful of republicans, you know, i had a democratic senator tell me tonight they may just refuse to vote to confirm the next fbi director until the special prosecutor is appointed.
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i mean, there are certainly a number of republicans that believe this russia investigation is very important for the country and they want to know whether members of the trump team colluded with russia. that's a valid nonpartisan question lawrence. >> you know, i think earlier tonight senator schumer indicate he would demand there be no vote on he would already demand there be no vote on confirming an fbi director. but it sounds like tomorrow morning he's going to ask for something more than that. to make this question to have all democratic senators number their seats at 9:30 in the morning he may be making a very serious demand on the senate going forward. i want to listen to what rod rosen stein himself said about appointing a special prosecutor in his confirmation hearing when asked by senator leahy. let's listen to this. i guess we don't have it. they told me we have it. we don't. i tell you what he said. he said i'm willing to appoint a special council, senator
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whenever i determine it's appropriate based upon the policies and procedures of the justice department. ari, the policies and procedures are that it's all up to him. >> it's certainly all up to him. there was -- once upon a time, a statute that allowed for congressional involvement in that appointment. it was criticized for a number of reasons. long story short, the only remaining independent inquiry that you can get with that bpoena power out othe federal investigative powers of the d.o.j. and the fbi is by that appointment which in case falls squarely on the shoulders of this deputy attorney general. i will say this, nothing in the letter he has written which according to the white house originated in the d.o.j., came to the white house and rlt resulted in an instant giant decision nothing here would suggest he is close to doing that. let's not forget, although so much has happened, that on the
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day when attorney general jeff session announce his recusal from the campaign related inquiries, donald trump publicly said while touring an aircraft carrier he didn't think it was appropriate, he didn't want sessions to recuse himself which isr itself is grounds for recusal. we have a president who is only pushing forward and using brut force the words on twitter, the words of his office which might be inappropriate or unlawful. we don't know yet. that is the message being sent loud and clear across the federal government. if you are hoping that rod rosen steen is going to suddenly make a conversion it would be in counter-veiling force from the pressure he is getting from the president. >> nothing in anything he wrote today that he is leaning that way. ken, delany we talked about how this bomb landed at the fbi. but it's also a big shocker to the investigative staff on the house intelligence committee,
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the senate intelligence committee, the subcommittee on the senate judiciary committee that's looking at some of this, they all thought, well, the fbi is working on this in this same territory. they have all the equipment. they have all the tools. they are going to do the best investigation. we're just trying to get as much as we can out there to the public as soon as we can. but there a muc powerful investigation going on kind of behind our backs. they don't necessarily feel that anymore. what are you hearing from those staffers, from those committee members who now have possibly a heavier responsibility as senator warner indicated to me, they kneel a much heavier responsibility with the possibility the fbi investigation weakening. >> you are shutly right, laurpsz. i mean these committees are relying on fbi to be the main fact gatherer. sure they are trying to gather some facts on their own but they have limited staff and a regular day job, overseeing the intelligence community in the
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case of intel committees. er going the hear increasing calls for an independent commission or select committee with extra staff, some paid staff to do more investigative work. but i want to go back, i have been speaking to former fbi officials tonight about their concern that the intention here is to quash this investigation. there are two views of that. look, you can't do that, it's political suicide. it would leak. the fbi is independent and it's going to go where the evidence leads. here's the thing, they can't investigate -- if the investigation is quashed, they can't leak what they haven't investigated. the investigation -- we don't have complete visibility into what's going on. it reached a certain point. you have some people like michael flynn and paul manafort who are in the cross hairs who may have legal jeopardy. a logical step would be in these investigations to charge people and solicit their cooperation. if it gets cut off we may never know what facts are not gathered urps la. that's the key point here.
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>> neara tan den, i wanted to get your response the sarah sanders asking tonight, come an, when are you going to just quit these investigations. >> i think the reality of this is that this is really what the game is for them. the game is for them -- i think she actually told us their plan here is to end the investigation. they want to end -- this is why they took the action today. it is laughable that this memo happened today and the president acted. any normal processes would take wes, maybe -- at least days. so the reality here is that of course donald trump with his myriad tweets yesterday and his behavior over the last several months has been acting and the white house has been acting and today's action is another piece of evidence of how it look like they are guilty of colluding with the russians. i mean why any normal person who was innocent of this would ask for an incommission by now or
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ask for an investigation right now that's open to the process. everything he has done is to impede the investigation. and today he took the ultimate act to impede the investigation, which is to fire the fbi director. >> i want to go to a moment where director comey was asked how you make the transition to a special prosecutor investigation. this is senator heroino in the recent hearing where she asked him what happens when you are in the middle of an investigation and then you bring in a special prosecute prosecutor. let's listen to that. >> so in the investigations that >> so in the investigations that you are currently doing on the russians interference and the trump team's relationship, are you coordinating with any u.s. attorney's office on those investigations. >> two sets of prosecutors. main justice, the national security division, and the eastern district of virginia u.s. attorney's office.
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>> has this happened before, where you are doing an investigation and the attorney general appoints a special prosecutor to conduct the same investigation? >> it happened to me when i was in what i thought was my last job infer the government as deputy attorney general. and i appointed patrick fitzgerald then the u.s. attorney in chicago to oversee a very sensitive investigation involving allegations that bush administration officials outed a cia operatedive. what happened is the team of agents that had been working for -- up a chain that came to me was just moved over and worked up under patrick fitzgerald. >> ari melber, a seamless ansition but these things are not fast. special prosecutors have some of the slowest track records that prosecutors have. >> right and they have more power. normally this would seem like an obscure matter. i think anyone watching tonight understands why it matters so much, because the prosecutor in charge is ultimately making the calls.
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so what director comey there was describing in his previous iteration as a senior justice department official was how they brought in pat fitzgerald gerald to do it. do you trust rosen steen or has he been compromised to where you want someone who is considered more wholly independent. >> i want to thank you all for joining us tonight. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> thank you, thank you lawrence. >> very important night for breaking news coverage. brian williams started our live coverage as soon as this news broke about 6:00 p.m. today. brian back with us now. and brian, i was watching you deliver this as it was first landing on us during chuck todd's broadcast is when the first minutes of it came in. and then you had to take over. and kind of read these documents as they were coming out on the fly. not a lot actually has developed between now and then. we now know who the acting director is going to be.
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but this story has been fast moving and yet not developing a lot more facts than we knew six hours ago. >> not more facts. but as you know, any washington story, there is no problem in getting reaction. so we are swimming in reaction and predictions about tomorrow. but, lawrence, what you witnessed, if thirst came in over somebody's device. we are in a meeting planning tonight's broadcast like you have aet mooing every day planning your broadcast. you can see what happens when you plan a broadcast. we thought it was a misprint. we thought it was an error. we just start scrambling got to the studio and what you saw in real time was reading these documents, including i'll admit that three-page letter that was -- i as jose could not take the time to read but i had counsellor melber and i had micolle wallace with me so we were fine. i have been thinking of you today as a hill veteran and wondering -- and this is a question i plan to ask our guests tonight, what republican
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will you be, knowing the hill as you do, be looking to be, and i don't mean in in a snarky waya to be a profile in coverage wa profile in courage starting tomorrow perhaps? >> well, i'm looking at arizonament i'm looking at jeff flake. i'm looking at john mccain. lindsey graham has stepped up in certain ways in this situation. i wish it was -- i wish that we could confidencetly predict tha. i wish we'd already seen enough where we could say, ah, this is how it will happen. but we don't know that yet. there is a statue waiting to be sculpted to the republican senator who does that in this situation. it calls for that in a way that is so obvious and so clear. and, believe me, there are plenty of peopl on the democratic side right now who


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