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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  May 12, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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>> good evening chris. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. happy friday. since the president fired the director of the fbi, james comey, three days ago now, we've now got multiple reports that the fbi's investigation of the russia issue, the russian attack on the presidential election last year and the question of whether or not the trump campaign was involved in it somehow, we now have multiple reports that at the time that the fbi director was fired by the president, that fbi investigation into the trump/russia issue was expanding and accelerating. and the director himself was involved in the expansion and acceleration of it. "the new york times" was first to report in the days before he was fired, director james comey reportedly requested additional resources for the trump russia investigation. basically we don't know exactly what kind of resources he was asking for, if it was money or man power or other fbi resources. but basically he wanted to put
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more fire power into that investigation. thereafter "the wall street journal" reported james comey accelerated his own personal pace of work on the investigation. he previously been briefed weekly on the progress of the trump russia investigations in the couple weeks before he was fired though, according to "the wall street journal," james comey started taking daily briefings on that investigation. but then he was fired. with the president now admitting what he was thinking about when he fired james comey was that darn russia investigation, that fake russia investigation and how much he wants it to go away. now that the fbi director has been fired, now that we have crossed this rube con as country where the president is under active fbi investigation on incredibly serious counterintelligence charges, and he has fired the head of the fbi in the middle of that fbi investigation, specifically because he said he was unhappy
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with that investigation, now that we have crossed that previously unthinkable rube con as a country, you know the world didn't end. we still got to do stuff. we still have to figure out how to make the most of what we've got in terms of our democracy and the rule of law. so now in the wake of the fbi director's firing, we don't know, but there's obviously widespread national concern about what's going to happen to those fbi vesksz. locktime observers of the fbi, former fbi agents f new act director. fbi who was the former deputy to james comey, they all say that the trump russia investigations at the fbi will continue. they can't be stopped, nothing can stop or slow down those investigators, nothing can intimate them out of doing their work. and that sounds awesome as a pep talk because, of course, we don't know that for sure.
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we've never been in this position before. we don't know what's going to happen to those investigations. late tonight, the news crossed that there are four candidates the administration is now considering to be the new director of the fbi replacing james comey. one of them is the andrew mccabe, one is alice fisher. she's very accomplished lawyer, there is some controversy from her time in the george bush administration from her connections to the prison at guantanamo and interallegations at guantanamo. another candidate is judge michael garcia. he's an appeals judge in new york state and a former federal prosecutors and ins commissioner from the george w. bush era. that's three. and then the fourth candidate who was reportedly being considered to run the fbi is
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senator john corneyn of texas. i say it's hilarious because the white house now admits and the president now admits that the president fired james comey because of the russia investigation. this so far has been john correspond anyone's public stance on why he believes james comey was fired by the president. quote, i've heard what i think is a phony narrative that he did this somehow to squelch the investigation into russia, which i don't believe there's any evidence of. it would be funny. it would be a laugh out loud moment if they tried to install sn him.
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>> he made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. in fact when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. >> what did he say about that? i don't believe there's any evidence of that other than the president saying that's why he did it. so we will see who the white house puts forward to be the new director of the fbi. reportedly those interviews for the position will start on saturday. those candidates will be interviewing with attorney general jeff sessions and with rod rosenstein who is jeff sessions deputy at the department of justice. those were the two people who provided the prearchitectual explanation for why james comey had to be fired, an explanation
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concerning hillary clinton's maelgz that later was essentially completely undermined, trashed, and denied by the president who insists it was his decision to fire james comey because he was thinking about that fake trump russia investigation. a pressing question here now that director comey has been fired is what is going to happen to the active trump russia investigations at the fbi in the wake of that firing, right? those questions are made all the more pressing by the revelations over the course of this week that the investigations into the scandal were expanding and accelerating at the time james comey was fired. well, now because it's friday night, now there's new news tonight out of washington about the expansion and acceleration of another part of the investigation, not the part happening in the fbi, which we already know was expanding and accelerating, the news we have tonight is the part of the the
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investigation that's happening in the united states senate. one of the other things we learned about the investigation is that it appears to be focusing more and more on following the money including the president's own finances and own business history. on monday, former director of national security, director clapper responded he couldn't answer that question in an open session because it touched on ongoing investigations. on tuesday we learned that grand jury subpoenas were sent by u.s. attorneys's office in virginia to business associates to people financially tied to former national security are adviser mike flynn. in that same "wall street journal" report this week that included the revelation that director comey was getting briefed daily on the investigation instead of weekly leading up to the day he was fired, the journal also noted in
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that article that investigators were getting increasingly focused on trump's business dealings. investigators are interested in competencies that have done business with mr. trump or have connections with him. that could include businesses associated with members of mr. trump's family. so we knew that heading into tonight there was this increasing turn towards business interests and following the money. but now tonight, a new scoop, again, out of the "wall street journal," reporters shane skmars carol lee, and it is about the financial crimes enforcement network, part of the u.s. department of the treasury. this unit was created in 1990 basically as an anti-money laundering law enforcement agency. after 9/11 i say power was boosted in part by the patriot act. this was the unit of the
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treasury that went hard and fast after the financing of al qaeda. they tracked and disrupted formal and unformal funding streams funding al qaeda not only in afghanistan and pakistan, but everywhere al qaeda was operating. this is a investigatory agency that tracks money. they have a pretty fearsome reputation. and the story that just broke in "the wall street journal" tonight is that this unit at the treasury, these money laundering cops basically have decided to hand over what they know to the trump russia investigation. quote, a treasury department unit that specializes the combatting money laundering will share financial records with an expanding senate probe into possible ties between russia and president donald trump and his associates. "wall street journal" tonight citing people familiar with the matter as their sources. these people familiar with the matter did not tell "the wall street journal" specifically the
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nature of these records that treasury's going to hand over to the senate intelligence committee. but here's the quote from this article that jumps out of the page and starts pointing at itself. this is written very carefully. i don't know exactly what this means, but this is thousand "wall street journal" is characterizing what's happening from the money laundering cops to the senate intelligence investigation of trump russia. quote, one person said that without these records the committee would not be able the reach a conclusion on whether there was collusion between trump skpoeshts russia during last year's campaign. without these records, you can't reach a conclusion on whether there was collusion? what does that mean? that sounds like a big deal. i don't know what that means.
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so when the fbi director got fired, we now know the fbi investigation was getting faster and getting bigger. we do not know what happens to the fbi investigations now that they've fired that director, we've never had that happen before as a country. we'll see. but it's not the only investigations. it's not just the fbi. the senate intelligence investigation also appears to be expanding as well. if tonight's "wall street journal" reporting is correct, the senate intelligence committee investigation are about to get their hands on whatever records may have been obtainedty obtained by the treasury department. what's the quote again without them the committee wouldn't able to reach a conclusion on whether there was collusion between trump and russia. "wall street journal" tonight gives us two more pieces that sort of help us to understand where this thing is at overall and what this information could mean. quote, senate intelligence panels requests for these
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records was made because investigators reviewing u.s. intelligence reports about russian interference in the election came across information that led them to inquire about mr. trump's business ties. oh, really? quote, the former u.s. senior official indicated investigators are examining whether russian sflefrmts any of mr. trump's properties or business vicenza could be traced back to government sources including russian officials who might own banks that were lending noun mr. trump. so this is new. and this finally starts to explain, puts a little meat on the bones in terms of what we have been hearing over the last few days. two things have happened, one absolute melt down in washington including firing the fbi director with no reasonable explanation for why they did it. so freak out in the white house. that's happened in the last few
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days. and simultaneously we have been hearing more and more increasingly clear indications that they're following the money. that they're specifically following trump's money. "the wall street journal" notes tonight in this scoop, quote, this marks an escalation from its original focus from intelligence reports that were used to conclude russia memgdsed in the elections. doing reporting on this and trying to pull together pieces of the story for the last couple days and weeks and months, we have heard this repeatedly from people who have knowledge of the senate intelligence committee's investigation. basically the big knock on that investigation is that it's not adequately staffed, it might be impeded for partisan reasons because richard burr was part of the trump campaign and maybe the republicans don't really want to get to the bottom of this thing. the main technically concern we've heard especially from people who know what's happening
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is that they've basically been focusing on reviewing what led to that intelligence assessment back in january that they released publicly which said russia had in fact attacked our elections. that had been the real beef for people who had been watching that investigation closely that there were only just reviewing the documents that led to that assessment. while that's neat, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence about how hard they were looking into the next question, the question of whether or not the russians had help, american con fed rats who knew about this or were working with them on that attack. that has been the worry about the senate intelligence kmeechlt now it seems like they're working on that second question, and they've got these money laundering cops at the treasury department helping them with their efforts. so that's a big advance. if there are obstruction of justice worries about this administration in the wake of these deep and series concerns that the president appears to
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have plainly fired the fbi director as a way to effect or shut down the fbi investigation into these matters, as we do to start thinking about whether the other agencies, the other law enforcement personnel, the other investigators involved in trying to get to the bottom of this, we have to start thinking about whether they're protected or could they get fired like jim comey did too. we're now going to be seeking real information and real assurances of the integrity of that part of the treasury department. how independent are they? how independent are they able to operate from, say, the president's hand-picked treasury secretary, mnuchin? could they be affected by a strategic firing? who knew we would ever need to do this, but if there's going to
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be a patriotic civic effort to protect against the investigations in various corners of american law enforcement, that means obviously eyes on what happens next at the fbi because the fbi director just got fired apparently because of the russia investigation. it also means new concerns and new focus on these crucial law enforcement offices inside the department of the treasury that have been looking at money laundering. it also means looking at the u.s. attorneys. vanity fair today had a report titled inside trump's coming war with the fbi. it's mostly about the fbi's reaction, the reaction within the fbi to the firing of their director, james comey. but the piece ends with this note before it a, quote, fbi insider. chris smith rise according to this insider, quote, there are actually multiple inquiries in progress. he says, quote, there's the business side, was there money
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laundering going on? money from these russian pollutecrats that's been washed through the businesses. that's gotten overlooked but preet bharara in the southern district of new york were supposedly looking into that. preet bharara was one of 46 u.s. attorneys fired by the president in march. what was notable about him getting fired in particular was his jurisdiction in the southern district of new york not only includes the headquarters of the trump organization, it's also the defac to prosecuting attorney for international money laundering cases because so many banks with global reach are head quartered in manhattan. donald trump had personally aassured preet bharara after the election that he'd be allowed to keep his job and there has yet been no explanation from the white house as to why he changed his mind and fired him without notice. vanity fair reporting at the
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time he was fired he may have been looking for money from these russian pollutecrats that's been washed through trump's real estate and businesses. there's investigations being carried out in congress, fbi investigations, there's the money laundering investigations happening at the treasury. there also may have been happening in federal prosecutors's offices. we're looking around at the ongoing investigations wondering how they can be protected, whether they are susceptible to pressure or firings a la james comey and preet bharara. other means the mexico might try to undermine them because they can't imagine. i'll tell you and this is my last point, there is one other place we need to look at if
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we're trying to protect the investigations. people who know this stuff are starting to focus on this in particular in terms of how these parts of the investigation can be protected. and that's two specific inspector generals offices. last night on this particular show we reported exclusively that the justice department is refusing to say whether jeff sessions has recused himself from any department of justice investigations that knight might include paul manafort. we don't know if jeff sessions is recused from matters involving manafort because the justice department will not say, which is weird. the justice department has said that jeff sessions is recused from matters involving former national security adviser mike flynn. won't say it about manafort but he did say it about flynn. it was announced that the inspector general at the defense department was investigating flynn over him being paid by foreign governments. there are inspector general offices in all the agencies and
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they are all independent and they are real investigative skpofsz usually staffed by very serious people. and these offices are not always perfect and there are good ones and bad ones. in in general, the inspector general offices in the agencies they have a tough record of figuring stuff out, being blunt about what they've figured out and it may just have been a coincidence. that's when jeff sessions took himself out of having anything to do with flynn. there is also another inspector general looking at an aspect of the investigation and that's someone in his own department. there's one at the justice department already looking into the handling of the clinton e-mail matter during the presidential campaign. chaffetz asked that zwroen expand that inquiry to also look at james comey being fired as fbi director: now four
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democratic senators asked that same inspector general to look not just at the firing of comey but whether or not jeff sessions is actually recused from matters involving the trump campaign. which he said he was. they also ask him to look into whether the fbi investigation into trump russia is adequately resourced. that has all been asked of the inspector general's office at the department of justice. these offices are notoriously tight-lipped. we don't know exactly how pointed these investigations are that are underway, but we know they are underway. from the point of view of president donald trump, independent investigations? really? if he doesn't like that idea, these investigations happening in the inspector journey's office at defense and justice, he has to know or he's learning quickly it's actually within his
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power as for the fire those inspectors general. he could just fire them. if he does so, of course that would be more bombshells. of course at this point we're shell shocked, but if president trump zoiz kibosh these independent inspector general investigations, block those investigations by firing those inspectors general, this is fascinating. that gives each of those inspectors general to make a sprint so make their findings known. he's already fired the fbi drenkt he's already fired preet bharara and other u.s. attorneys. he fired the deputy attorney general. who do you think he's going to fire next? what's the best way to get
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joo j. edgar hoover served added fbi director from 1924 until 1972. he never actually retired, never stepped down. he served up until the day he died, may, 1972. after his death, president next to named l. patrick gray to be the new acting fbi director, the first new person to head that agency as i mentioned it was fwointd hoover 48 years earlier. he worked on nixon's staff when he was vice president. he later works at the civil division at the department of justice. he had a ton of nixon administration jobs but he was a close personal friend of president nixon.
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he was the pro-toe typical nixon loyalist. make him fbi director? it's no wonder democrats at the time were a little uneasy about his appointment as acting fbi director, may 1972 since the president made the announcement he didn't need to be confirmed. quote, mr. gray will serve until after november 7th according to the white house because the president doesn't want the appointment to become involved in partisan politics in an election year. wouldn't want it to be at all political so we're going to appoint my close personal friend to serve as fbi director indefinitely without kwishlgs for as long as is feasible. that was in may 1972. in june 1972, hey, look, it's the watergate break-in.
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they were attempt to go wiretap phones and steal documents. what a time to have a friend as fbi director, nixon was re-elected that november and just as the investigation were starting to ramp up, he nominated l. patrick gray to stay on as his full-time full-fledged fbi director. and democrats were having none of it. hours of questioning, it came out mr. gray had been passing on confidential fbi files on the investigation, the watergate investigation to nixon's white house council, to john dean. there was no way he was getting confirmed. and democrats at the time were very blunt about that. >> a lot of people in the senate were saying today it's all over for l. patrick gray that the senate judiciary committee will not recommend that he be confirmed as permanent head of the fbi. it's being said that the white
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house knows this and is looking for a grateful way for mr. gray to withdraw. paul duke has learned more of the details. >> there are not enough votes to confirm gray. >> in my opinion the snoimgs dead and it's just a question of how gentle the execution is going to be. >> just a question of how gentle the execution is going to be. senate got up on its hind legs and said no to president's nixon's fbi director in the middle of the watergate investigation. trump announced their four candidates to replace the fbi director after they just fired the one who was leading the trump russia investigation. what's the senate going to do now? that story's next. look closely. hidden in every swing, every chip, and every putt, is data that can make the difference between winning and losing. the microsoft cloud helps
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attorney general jeff sessions at least nominally recused himself from the trump russia investigation. that means at least nominally this is guy who's in charge at justice. that means definitely he's the man who has the power to appoint a special counsel to oversee this case. his name is ron rosenstein. they are leaning hard on him to appoint a special skpounl take it out of his own purview. dick durbin released this statement. president trump admitted to firing the fbi director because of his investigation of the trump campaign's russia connections. that's dangerously close to obstruction of justice.
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this morning the president tweeted a thinly veiled threat to mr. comey which could be construed as threatening a witness in this investigation which is another violation of federal law. to preserve his reputation as a prosecutor, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein moussaoui appoint a special independent prosecutor to pursue possible criminal charges or he must resign. tonight we got this from senator dianne feinstein. she says, quote, i also support senator durbin's call for deputy attorney general for rosenstein to resign. these investigations far too important risk disruption, delay, or sbeerns. when rosenstein was confirmed by the senate last month for this attorney general job, it was an overwhelming job, 94-6. then came his role in the firing of the fbi director in the
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middle of the fbi investigating the president's campaign. now senator mark warren who's the top democrat on senate intel, now he told lawrence o'donnell he wishes he could take back his "yes" vote on rod rosenstein's kwirjs. it's, of course, too late to take back that vote, but rosenstein could still appoint a special counsel. no sign whatsoever that he will, but he could. joining us is senator amy cloeb similar. nice to see you. thank you for being here. >> thank you, rachel. >> i think it will never happen that the trump administration will allow a special prosecutor, counsel or independent congressional ton form to do this. it feels impossible to me. do you disagree? >> i do because i think there's so much pressure. you're starting to have some republican house members at least call far special prosecute a handful of them. we are going to be meeting in a closed door meeting with rod rosenstein in the next few days,
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and a number of us are going to demand he appoint a special prosecute which is the same as a special counsel. the law allows him to do that if it's in the public interest. if the attorney general has recused himself from this investigation, which he has, it falls in the hands of rod rosenstein. like every single, that memo he wrote, it did not make legal amnestier to me. i don't keep i don't like how comey handled the hillary e-mail investigation. i was his law school classmate and he was quite respected in our class. i've known him over the years, and i think he should have been fired over this, especially not smack dab in the middle of a major investigation. and so that is why given it has turned out that memo while maybe he believed what he put in that
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memo, he used old quotes from the campaign instead of a thorough legal memo. we know that the president made his decision based on his own views because of the russia investigation. all of this leads to the fact that rose rosenstein must appoint a special prosecute prosecutor. you've been doing this on your show for months. many of us in the senate have been pushing for an independent commission to get the facts out so that our democracy is not in peril because we simply cannot have a foreign government influencing our democracy. one more thing i would add as a former prosecute this is about upholding the law. and those people who work in the fbi go to work every day for our country. and they deserve to have someone in charge that's looking out for them. many of them truly like james
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comey. and so when i heard the first part of your show, who else is the president going to fire next, there are a lot of people working on these investigations that cannot be fired that will not be fired, and that are going to get to the bottom of this. >> senator, you were just describing the president's explanation for why he fired james comey. he is admitting it was his decision that the rosenstein memo was a pretext and he made it in part because of the russia investigation. there's also these claims by the president that he had conversations with director comey which much the director assured him he was not the target of an investigation. this is contested information. associates say they're quite sure a conversation like this couldn't happen. the president has suggested there might be tapes of that kpfrgs that would somehow vindicate him on this matter. if obstruction of justice is a possibility here, either in terms of the firing or in terms
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of any prefiring conversations that the president initiated about this investigation, would the senate judiciary committee pursue that? would you subpoena the tapes if the tapes exist? would that be something the judiciary committee would try to nail down? >> of course, we could do that. i think that's going to be something that can be looked at in the future. right now the intelligence committee is looking at all of this. as you pointed out, those very important documents related to following the money, the intelligence committee and the u.s. senate with senator burr who has made clear they are looking at the connections with senator warren and actually was issued a pretty strong statement after comey has been fired. this is burr saying that he was troubled, that this was bad timing and went into quite some detail. so i do think the senate intelligence committee is doing
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their job. when the act fbi director went before congress under oath in a public hearing said that one, james comey in fact did have the faith of the fbi agents in direct contradiction to what the president said, and that this is a major investigation and there are supervisors of that investigation, there are people that i don't think are going to stop doing their work simply because their boss was fired. if anything, i think it's going to make them want to get to the bottom of this more. >> senator of minnesota, thank you for being with us. good to see you. >> thank you. it was great to been, rachel, thanks. >> we have more this busy friday night including an important guest talking about that obstruction of justice claim i was just discussing with the senator. we have an important interview coming up. stay with us.
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hey, the future, what's her problem? apparently, i kept her up all night. she said the future freaks her out. how come no one likes me, jim? intel does! just think of everything intel's doing right now with artificial intelligence. and pretty soon ai is going to help executives like her see trends to stay ahead of her competition. no more sleepless nights. - we're going to be friends! - i'm sorry about this. don't be embarrassed of me, jim. i'm getting excited about this! we know the future. we're going to be friends! because we're building it. i use what's already inside me to reach my goals. so i liked when my doctor told me i may reach my blood sugar and a1c goals by activating what's within me
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when president obama was elected in 2008, the eyes of the whole world were on this new president, such a huge change from george w. bush. america's first african-american president. eyes all over the world on what barack obama would mean for the country, what he would do when he got the d.c. eyes all over the world with the notable exception of the eyes of illinois governor rod ble goyvich. his eyes were on what the
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presidency would mean for him. he's now serving time in federal prison on a 14-year corruption sentence because he did have the power as gofrp to appoint replacement for barack obama's newly vacate senate seat and he decided to solicit bribes as sale price of that seat. last month the govern tried to get his prison time reduced. prosecutors opposed the request on the grounds that he still hasn't admitted the crimes he committed. and it's true. to this day the governor and his lawyers insist he never did anything wrong of that they say what he did was political deal making that it wasn't a crime that any policing faced with the prospect of being able to fill a senate seat would naturally start looking around for political stuff to trade it for. before he went on trial, that was not necessarily an unreasonable argument. you could disagree with it, but there was a serious argument to be made that the governor was seriously and soberly carrying
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out the normal uncraven, uncriminal duties of a serving governor when he was considering how to fill that senate seat. in theory, he had that case to make until umpyou heard the tap >> i told my nephew, i said it's too bad you're not four years earlier because i could have given you a u.s. senate seat for your birthday, you know what i mean? >> yeah. >> i've got this thing and it's [ bleep ] golden. >> right. >> and i'm just not giving it up for [ bleep ] nothing. i'm not going to do it. i can always use it and [ bleep ]. >> rod bleep blagojevich. he was caught on an fbi wiretap talking about how that seat was bleeping golden and he's not giving it up for bleeping
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nothing. when that recording was played in court, it quickly became clear he was going to go to jail ask he's in jail. that was 2008. today early this morning the serving president said this on twitter. he said, quote, james comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. the president said he had three different conversations with the director before he fired him, conversations from which the fbi director told him he's not under investigation by the fbi. people close to the fbi director say those conversations never happened. they say what happened at white house dinner between president trump and fbi director james comey is that president trump demanded a loyalty oath from the fbi director, which the fbi director declined to give. now, the president this morning suggested via that tweet there might be a tape of that conversation implying comey better be careful.
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you know, the prospect that a tape exists of the president's dinner conversations with former fbi director james comey is interesting not because a president taping conversations is inheritly nefarious. presidents haven't done it since nixon, but lots did before nixon. the reason that's really interesting is because if there is a tape and the conversation went anything like the president says it did, where they're talking about whether he's under investigation, that tape is fair game for being subpoenaed. it could be used as potential evidence and james comey could be called as a potential witness. there are already serious questions about whether the president may have obstructed justice specifically by firing the fbi director because he admits that he did that because of the russia investigation. the president has admitted he's openly claimed at a dinner at the white house he and james comey talked about whether james
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comey would get to stay on as fbi director, and at the same time at the same dinner he pressed james comey as to whether or not he was under investigation by the fbi. and that very much sounds like potential obstruction of justice. and if there is a tape of that that may open up a bunch of legal liabilities. congress wrote letters to the counsel demanding to know if such a tape exists. they referred to the tweet. quote, it is a crime to intimate or threaten any potential witness with the intent to influence, delay or prevent their official testimony. we are in new legal territory here, but we have just the person to help explain what's important about it. and that's next. . even a coupe soup. [woman] so beautiful. [man] beautiful just like you. [woman] oh, why thank you.
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all of my purchasing. and that unlimited 2% cash back from spark means thousands of dollars each year going back into my business... which adds fuel to my bottom line. what's in your wallet? but we've got the get tdigital tools to help. now with xfinity's my account, you can figure things out easily, so you won't even have to call us.
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change your wifi password to something you can actually remember, instantly. add that premium channel, and watch the show everyone's talking about, tonight. and the bill you need to pay? do it in seconds. because we should fit into your life, not the other way around. go to xfinity.com/myaccount very pleased to say that joining us now is bob bauer. he is the former white house council to president barack obama. mr. bauer, thank you very much for being with us on a friday night. really appreciate your time tonight. >> certainly. >> so president trump on tuesday released a letter in which he fired the fbi director. he also claimed in that letter that the director had told him three times that he was not under fbi investigation. you said today that that letter and that claim in that letter raised red flags for you. why is that? >> well, it's a norm, a well established norm that the president of the united states does not communicate with investigators responsible for an
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ongoing and active krg investigaticriminal investigation. that's number one. that's meant to be an area of activity, criminal enforcement and kept clear of any suggestion of political interference. so that conversation alone, just regardless of content is troubling. but then he goes further to say that he asked for reassurance that he personally was not at legal risk. and he did so apparently on three separate occasions. once at a dinner and twice on a phone. it's really exceedingly unwise to have those conversations. it violates the norm. and in violating the norm, it raises the sort of legal questions that the president now unfortunately faces. >> in terms of those legal questions, this is a president who delights in violating norms. but doesn't have the option of delighting and violating law, provided that they're investigated and prosecuted if those criminal investigations happen. if this were investigated or prosecuted as obstruction of justice or some other potential criminal matter, is there any
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reason why james comey couldn't testify as to the content of his conversations with the president? >> no, i don't believe the conversations that the president reports and has publicly said he had with mr. comey about this are privileged. he is not asking as a matter of policy, a question that a president might appropriately raise with the criminal investigative process. he is asking a question that concerns him personally, his own liability in an active investigation. i don't believe it's privilege. i don't think a claim of privilege would stand. and the further complication here is the president went about this in a way that's really quite self-defeating. on top of all of that, he acknowledges in the interview with leather holt that when he had one of those conversations with mr. trump, with mr. comey, he and mr. comey discussed whether mr. comey would hold on the his job. and the president made it clear according to the president that he wasn't really willing to commit on that. so he is having a conversation with mr. comey about his own personal liability at the same time as he is keeping open the
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possibility that mr. comey might lose his job or might not lose his job. these facts taken together create at least a set of questions that i'm confident the lawyers around the president wish he had not raised. >> who would hold him accountable for that? >> well, the very criminal justice process that we're talking about would hold him account form that. the department of justice, prosecutors certainly with the support of the investigative core at the fbi would look into a question of whether or not in these conversations taken together with other facts there was an attempt to obstruct justice. now we don't know whether that's true. well don't know whether that's true. but the president has put himself in a position where the question would not be unreasonably raised. >> would the -- in terms of the -- if there is an fbi investigation of the obstruction of justice, would you expect appointees of the president to recues themselves from overseeing such an inquiry? >> absolutely. political appointees in absolutely. they would have to.
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>> bob bauer, former presidential council to president obama. thank you for helping us to understand that. you are a remarkably clear speaker on comp indicated matters. thank you, sir. >> thank you. >> we'll be right back. we, the device loving people want more than just unlimited data. we want unlimited entertainment. so we can stream unlimited action. watch unlimited robots. watch unlimited romance. if you are into that. but we also want more like... unlimited hbo. can i stop dying now mark? no can't do mi amigo. it's unlimited. besides you are really good at it james. don't settle for any unlimited data plan.
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the united mileageplus explorer card. imagine where it will take you. all umm...ed. you wouldn't want your painter to quit part way, i think you missed a spot. so when it comes to pain relievers, why put up with just part of a day? aleve, live whole not part. you want this color over the whole house? a little bit of breaking news as we finish up our show tonight. the acting u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york is named june kim. we were talking earlier this hour about preet bharara being fired in the southern district of new york. the acting u.s. attorney in his
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place is june kim. we will not allow the u.s. system to be used for crimes anywhere, here or in russia. this comes after the southern district of new york has announced a $6 million settlement of civil moneylaundering and forfeiture claims connected to russian tax fraud. but, again, a late night announcement from the southern district of new york as "vanity fair" reports today that at least according to one fbi insider source, preet bharara was investigating trump moneylaundering concerns with regard to russia at the time he was fired by the trump administration. it's friday night. so that means the news is going to happen all night long. that does it for us tonight, though. we will see you again on monday. now it's time for "the last word." ari melber is in for lawrence this evening. >> i think the saying every action has a reaction, or this week ten reactions. >> that's exactly right. no

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