tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC May 13, 2017 3:00am-4:01am PDT
that will be the loss. i like tim ryan, ohio. and i like my mayor out of palm beach, out of miami in florida. >> thank you. nick, karen, harold, that will do it for "hardball." chris matthews is back here on monday. >> since the president fired the director of the fbi james comey three days from now, we now got multiple reports the fbi's investigation of the russia issue, the russian attack on the presidential election and the question whether or not the trump campaign was involved in it somehow, they will have multiple reports at the time the fbi director was fired by the president, that fbi investigation into the trump-russia issue was expanding and accelerating and the director. was involved in the expansion and acceleration of it. the "new york times" is first to report that in the days before he was fired, director jim comey
reportedly requested additional resources for the trump-russia investigation. basically, we don't know what kind of resources he was asking for, whether it was money or man power or other fbi resources, bake amy, he wanted to put more fire power into that investigation. laugh the "wall street journal" reported james comey accelerates his own personal peace of work on the investigation. he previously had been briefed weekly on the progress of the trump-russia investigations. in the couple of weeks before he was fired, though, james comey had started taking daily briefings on that investigations, according to "wall street journal." but then he was fired, with the president now admitting what he was thinking about when he fired james comey is that darn russia investigation. that fake russia investigation, how much he wants it to go away. no you the fbi director has been fired, now we have crossed this
rubicon where the president is under active investigation under 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 with that investigation. now we have crossed that previously unthinkable rubicon as a country, you know the world didn't ends. we still got to do stuff. we have to figure out how to make the most of what we got in terms of our democracy and the rule of law and the institutions that make us the country that we are. 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 investigations. now, long time observers of the fbi, former fbi agents, the new acting director of the fbi, who was a 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 slow down those investigators. nothing can intimidate them out of doing their work and that sounds awesome as a pep talk. of course, we don't know that for sure. right. we have never been in this position before. we don't know what's going to happen to those investigations. late tonight, the news cost that there are four candidates the administration is now considering to be the new director of the fbi replacing james comey. one is the acting director, andrew mccame kab. with him is alice fisher. she was under george w. bush. an acol plished lawyer. there will is controversy from her time in the george w. bush administration because of her connections to the prison at guantonomo and to interrogations at the prison at guantonomo. another candidate is reportedly judge michael garcia, an appeals judge in new york state. he is also a former federal prosecutor and former imf
dressinger. that's one, two, three, mccabe, alice fiber an judge garcia and the fourth candidate is senator john cornyn or texas, which is hilarious. not hilarious, because he is funnysh obviously, he's a serious man. i say it's hilarious the white house now admits, the president now admits that the president fired jim comey because of the russia investigation. this so far has been john corn then's public o -- coowe cornyn stance, quote, i've we 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 the white house tried to install
senator john cornyn as the head of the fbi to replace jim comey being that the president freely admits now, yeah the reason he fired jim comey is, in fact, the russia investigation. >> we made the recommendation. regardless of recommendation, i was being to fire comey knowing there was no good time to do it and, 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 core fin say about that? i've we heard what i think is a phony narrative he did this to squelch the investigation into russia. io elbe there is any everyday of. that is the president saying that's why he did it. ha ha. ahem. so we will see who the white house puts forward to be the new director of the fbi. reportedly those positions will start tomorrow. they will start on saturday. those four interviewers will be
with jeff sessions and rot rosenstein, those were the two people who at least on paper provided the pre textual explanations for why james comey had to be fired the pre textual information about hillary clinton's e-mails, that was undermined and trashed and denied by the president who insists it was his decision because he was thinking of that fake trump russia investigation. so, a pressing question here now. now that director comey has been fired is what is going to happen to the active trump-russia investigations at the fbi in the weak of that firing, right? those questions are made all the more pressing by the revelations over the course of this week, that the fbi investigations into the trump-russia scandal were expanding and accelerating at the time that jim comey was fired. now because of friday night, now there is new news tonight out of washington about the expansion and apparent 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 about a part of the investigation happening in the united states senate. one of the other things we learned this week about the trump-russia investigation is it appears to be focusing more or less on following the money. including the president's own finances and the president's own business history. on monday, former director of national intelligence james clapper was asked whether he seen any evidence that concerned him about trump business ties in russia. director clapper responded he couldn't answer that in an open session because it touched on ongoing investigations. hmm. on tuesday, we learn that grand jury subpoenas had been sent out by u.s. attorney's office in virginia to business associates, to people financially tied to former national security adviser mike flynn. in that same "wall street journal" report this week, that
included the revelation that director comey started to get briefed daily on the trump-russia investigation instead of weekly, leading up to the day when he was hired. the journal also noted in that article by shane harris that investigators were getting increasingly focused on quote trump business dealings. quote, investigators are interested in kansas 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, so we knew heading into tonight there was an increasing turn towards business and following the money. now tonight, a new scoop, again, out of the wall street journal, again, reporters shane harris and carole lee and it is about something called the financial crimes enforcement network, which is an awkward acronym but it is a 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 its power was boosted, controversially, in part by the patriot act. after 9/11 this was the unit of treasury that went hard and fast after the financing of al qaeda. all over the world. they tracked and disrupted formal and inform am funding streams that were supporting al qaeda, not just in afghanistan and pakistan but everywhere al qaeda operated. so this is a power. capably, tex nickally mined investigatory agency that tracks money laundering. they have a fearsome reputation. they got a world wide agreement. and a story that just broke in the "wall street journal" is this unit, this enforcement 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 in combating money-lapdering will share financial records with an expanding senate probe into possible ties between russia and
president donald trump and his associates. the "wall street journal" tonight citing people familiar with the matter as their sources. these people familiar with the matter do not tell the "wall street journal" specifically the nature of these records. >> that treasury is going to hand over to the senate intelligence committee. but here's the quote in this article that like jumps out of the page and starts pointing at itself to make you pay attention. this is obviously written very carefully. i don't know exactly what this means. this is how the "wall street journal" tonight is characterizing what is being handed over. what these records are handed over from the money-lapderiunde cops of trump-russia. this is how they describe the records they are handing overwhelm. quote, one person said that without these records the committee would not be able to reach a conclusion on whether there was collusion between trump associates and russia during last year's campaign. without these records, you can't
reach a conclusion on whether there was collusion? that sounds like a big deal. i don't know what that means. so when the february fib director got fired, we now know the fbi investigation into trump and russia 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 investigation. right. it's not just the fbi t. senate intelligence investigation into trump and russia also appears to be expanding as well. if tonight's "wall street journal" reporting is effect c. the senate investigation is about to get their hands on whatever records may have been obtained by the treasury department financial enforcement efforts. we don't know what those records are. what's the quote, without them, the committee wouldn't be able reach a conclusion on whether there was collusion between trump and russia.
now, "wall street journal" tonight givers us two more pieces that sort of help us understand where this thing is at overall and what this new information could mean. quote, senate intelligence panels' request for these 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 t. former senior u.s. official indicated that federal investigators are examining whether russian investments in any of mr. trump's properties or business ventures could be traced back to russian government sources, including russian officials who might own banks that were lending money to mr. trump. so this is new. and it finally starts to explain, put a little meat on the ponies in terms of what we have been hearing over the last few day, right? three things have happened, one, absolute nothing 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 days an in the last few days 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 the committee's probe from its original focus on intelligence reports that were used to say they were meddling in the 2016 election. telling you, in doing reporting and pulling together pieces of the story for the last couple days, weeks an month, we have we heard this repeatedly from people who have only in of the senate committee investigation, basically the big knock on that investigation is it's not adequately staffed, that it might be impeded for partisan reasons because senator richard bur was a part of the trump
campaign and maybe the republicans don't really want to get to the bottom of this thing t. main like technical concern that we've we heard, smr i from people who know what's happening inside that investigation has been that they've basically just been focusing on reviewing what led to that intelligence assessment back in january that they released publicly, which said that russia had, in fact, attacked our election. >> that has been the real beef for people watching that investigation closely, they were only just reviewing the documents that led to that intelligence assessment. while that's neat, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence about how hard they were looking into the next question t. question of whether or not the russians had help, whether the russians had american confederates who knew about there or were working with them on that attack. >> that has been the worry about the senate intelligence committee. now it seems like they are 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 serious concerns that the president appears to have plainly fired the fbi director as a way to effect or shut down the fbi investigation into these matters, well, now, we really do have to start thinking about whether the other agencies, whether the other law enforcement personnel, the other investigators involved in trying to get to the bottom of this. we have to start thinking whether they're protected or could they get fired like jim comey did, too. in the case of the treasury department financial crimes enforcement record, we will now be seeking real information and assurances about the independence and the integrity of that part of the treasury department. if they're doing important investigatory work here, how independent are they? how independent are they able to operate from say the president's hand picked treasury secretary,
steve mnuchin. is there a concern that their investigative capacity could be affected by a strategic firing, for example? who knew we would ever need to do this? but if there is going to be a national patriotic civic effort to protect and shield from influence the trump-russia investigations, in various corners of marine law enforcement, i mean, that means, obviously, eyes on what happens next at the fbi t. fit.. the fbi director got fired because of the fbi investigation. it means new concerns on these crucial law enforcement offices inside the department of treasury looking at money-laundering. it means looking at u.s. attorneys. vanity fair had a provocative report inside trump's coming war with the fbi. it's mostly the fbi's reaction, reaction within the fbi to the firing of tear directtheir dire
james comey. an fbi insider quote, there are actually multiple inquiries in progress. as an example, he says, quote, there is the business side. was there money-laundering going on? money from these russian plutokrats that's been washed through trump's real estate and businesses? that's gotten overlooked, but wall street preet barara was fired in march. what was notable in particular is his jurisdiction in the southern district of new york not only includes the headquarters of the trump organization, it's also the de facto prosecuting attorney for international money laundering because so many banks are head quartered in manhattan, it was interesting, and specifically notable because donald trump thad personally assured pre
preet bharara after the election he would be allowed to keep his job. there were no explanations as to why he fired him with no notice. but again today, vice president vanity fair" reporting at the time he was fired, he may have been looking for money-laundering, quote, money from these russian plutokrats that's been washed through trump's real estate and businesses. so where are the investigation surface right. there are these investigations carried out in congress. there is the fbi investigations. there's the money laundering investigation, apparently that has been happening at the treasury. they also may have been happening in specific prosecutor's offices. all right. and we're looking around at the ongoing investigations, we're wondering how they can be protected. whether they are susceptible to firings, like james comey and preet bharara, that we can't
imagine because we don't read that much democratic fiction. but i'll tell you, this is my last point. there is one other place that we need to look at if we are thinking about trying to protect the russia-trump investigation. 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 office. last night on this show, we reported exclusively that the justice department is refusing to say whether or not attorney general jeff sexes has recuse himself from any department of justice investigations that might include former campaign chairman paul man a for the. we don't know if jeff sexes is recuse involving man a for the because the justice department will not say, which is weird, the justice department has said that jeff sessions is recuse from matters involving former national security adviser mike flynn. they won't say it about man a for the, he said it about flynn.
in which he recused himself happening with flinch when it was announced 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 they're all independent and they are real investigative officers and they're usually staffed by serious people. inspector general officers are not always perfect, there are good ones and bad ones, but, in general, these offices, the inspector general offices in the agencyings, they have a pretty top record of figuring stuff out, being blunt about what they have fixed out within they do figure it out. it may have been a coincidence. when we learned that the department of defense inspector general, that independent inspector general was looking at flynn, that's when jeff sessions took himself out of anything having to do with flynn. there the also another inspector general looking at an aspect of the trump investigation, that is jeff session's own department. there is an independent inspect tore general at the russia
department look nook the clinton e-mail matter during the presidential campaign a. few days ago, congressman jason chaffetz asked them to expands that inquiry about james comey being fired. now for democratic inspectors asked the tomorrow to look at the firing of james comey and the question of whether or not jeff sessions is actually recuse from matters involving the trump campaign and, which he said he was, it seems like he's not anymore. they've asked the inspector general to look into the fbi investigation into trump-russia is adequately resourced. >> that has all been asked of the inspector general's office of the department of justice. inspector general officers are notoriously tight lipped. we don't know exactly what they're dock, work, on, we den know how pointed these investigations are that are under way. but we know they are under way. and from a point of view of president donald trump, hmm,
independent investigations? really? he didn't leak that idea. he didn't like these investigations happening in the inspector general's office of defense and justice. he has to know or he's learning quickly that it's actually within his power as president to fire those inspectors general. he can just fire them. if he does so, of course, that would be more bomb shells at this point after firing the fbi director, we're a little shell shocked. if president trump appears to kybosh, or block those investigations by firing those inspectors general, this is fascinating. legally, he's got to give 30 days notice of his intention to do so. if he fires those inspectors general, that givers each of those inspectors general 30 days of a sprint to wrap up their investigation and make their findings known. he's already fired the fbi director. he's already fired preet bhara,
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j. edgar hoover served as fbi director for half a century, he never actually retired as fbi director. never stepped down. he served up until the day he died, may 1972. after hoover's death, president nixon named this man l. pat trek grey to be the new acting fbi director t. first newbern to head that agency since it was founded by hoover 48 years earlier. l. patrick gray worked on the staff when he was vice president and worked for the secretary health education and welfare the civil deborah, he does a ton of
nixon administration jobs, most importantly, he was a close personal friend of president nixon. he was the pro to typical nexen loyalist. which is always the way he's described when people write about him to this day. so make him fbi director? no wonder democrats at the time were a little uneasy about his appointment as acting fbi director, especially since president nixon made the announcement the acting part of his title meant he wouldn't need to be confirmed, nixon didn't want it to be a short-term gig. quote, mr. grey will serve until after november 7th 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 just going to appointpy close personal friend here to serve as fbi director indefinitely without confirmation for as long as is feasible. that was in may 1972. in june, 1972, hey, look, it's
the watergate break-in. five men arrested inside the offices of the dnc, caught attempting to wiretap phones and steal documents. one at a time, they have a friend in the fbi director. nixon, of course, is reelected that november. just as the watergate investigations start to ramp up, he nominated l. patrick gray to stay on as his full-time, no longer acting, full time, full pledged fbi director. democrats were having none of it. hours of contentious questioning at his confirmation hearing, it came out mr. grey had been passing along confidential fbi files on the watergate investigation to nixon's white house counsel to john deep. there was no way he was getting confirm, 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 confirm as permanent head of the fbi. it's being said is white house knows this and is looking for a graceful way for mr. grey to withdraw. >> there are not enough votes to confirm grey. >> in my opinion the nomination is dead. it's just a question of how you gentle the execution is going to be. >> just a question of how gentle the execution is going to be? the senate got up on its hind legs and said no to president nixon's fbi director in the middle of the investigation. president nixon tonight their four candidates to replace the fbi director after they fired the one leading the trump-russia investigation. what's the senate going to do now? that story is next. what's that?
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attorney general jeff sessions at least nominally has recused himself from the trump-russia investigation. that means at least nominally, this is the guy who is in charm at justice. >> that means definitely he's the man who has the power to appoint a special counsel to oversee this case if there is going to be one the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, democrats are leaning hard on him to appoint a special counsel and take it out of his per view. senator dig durbin said, in an interview with nbc news, president trump admitted to
firing the tibb fbi director james comey because of his investigation of the investigation, which is another violation of federal law. he unveiled a thin threat to mr. comey, which can be construed as threatening a witness, which is another preservation of law. to pre tev his reputation as a credible prosecutor, deputy attorney general rod rows subpoena stein must appoint an independent special prosecutor to pursue possible criminal charges or he must resign. that was earlier today. now tonight, a short time ago, we got this from senator dianne feinstein, the top democrat on the judiciary ". she says, i also support senator durbin's call for deputy attorney general general rod rosenstein to resign if he's unwilling to appoint a special counsel. now, when rod rosenstein was confirmed for this deputy attorney general job last month, it was an overwhelming vote, 94-6. then came his role in the firing
of the fbi director in the middle of the fbi investigating the president's campaign. now, senator mark warner, who is the top democrat on senate intel, now he told people he wishes he could take back his yes vote on rod rosenstein's resignation. it's, of course, too late to take paing that vote. rosenstein still could appoint a special counsel, which of course there is no sign whatsoever that he will, but he could. joining us now is a member of the senate judiciary committee. it's nice to see you, thank you for being here. >> thank you, raven el. >> i i it will never happen the trump administration will allow a special prosecutor or independent congressional committee formed to do this. it feels impossible to me. do you disadproo e? >> i do. because i think there is so much pressure, they call for a handful of special prosecutors.
we are going to be meeting in a closed-door meeting with rod rosenstein in the next few days, and a number of us are going to demand that he appoint a special prosecutor, which is the same as you know as a special count sell, the law allows him to do that. if it's in the public interest. and if the attorney general has recused himself from this investigation, which he has, it falls in the hands of rod rosenstein, like everyone else, that memo he wrote, it did not maclegal muster to me. i didn't like how jim comey handled the hillary clinton e-mail investigation, but jim comey is someone, his law school classmate, i don't know if i revealed that on your show in the past, and was, he was quite respected in our class. i have known him over the years and i didn't think he should have been fired over this. and especially not smack dab in the middle of a major investigation. and so, that is why given that
it turned out that maybe rod rows subpoena stein believed what he could, he used old quotes from people during the campaign instead of to me a thorough legal memo, we know now that the president made his decision based on his own views, in part, which he has now admitted is because of the russia investigation. so all of this leads to the fact that rod rosenstein must appoint a special prosecutor, someone that can put all of this together and get to the bottom of this because you have been doing there 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 and one more thing i'd add as a former prosecutor. this is rally about upholding the law. and those people who work in the fbi, go to work every day, fought for political reasons, but for our country. and they deserve to have someone
in charge that's looking out for them. many of them truly like jim comey. and so, when i we heard the first part of your show, you know, 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, as you said, essentially, admitting that it was his decision that the rosenstein memo was a pre text and that he made it in part because of the at least in part because of the russia investigation. there is also these claims by the president that he had conversations with director comey in which director comey assured him he was not the target of an fbi investigation. now, this is contested information, associates of jim comey said they are quite sure an investigation couldn't happen t. president has to suggest there might be tapes of that conversation and that was somehow vindicate him on this
matter. if obstruction of justice is a possibility here, either in terms of the firing or in terms of any pre firing 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, early in this show, those very important documents related to following the money. the intelligence committee and the u.s. senate with senator bur who has made clear that they are looking at the connections with senator warner and was actually issued a pretty strong statement after comey was fired. this is bur saying he was trouble, and this was bad timing and went into some details. i do think the senate
intelligence committee is doing tear job, which is going on with what they've learned. to me, one of the biggest things we learned was when the acting fbi director went before congress under oath, went before the intelligence committee at a public hearing, said that, one, jim comey, in fact, did have the faith of the fbi acts in direct contradiction to what the president had said and that, secondly, this was not a minor investigation that this had been a major investigation and there are supervisors of that investigation, there are people that i don't think are going to stop theing their work simply because the boss was fired, in anything, i think it will make them want to get to the bottom of this more. >> amy klobuchar. thank you for being on. >> thank you, raven em. . >> we have much more coming on this busy friday night, including a guest with that obstruction of justice claim i was discussing with the senator. we have a very important interview coming up. stay with us.
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governor rod blagojevich. governor blagojevich is now serving time if federal prison. he is serving a 14-year corruption sentence. he did have the power to provide a replacement for the newly vacant senate seat. he solicited bribes. he tried to get his prince time reduced. the governor quote still hasn't admitted the crimes that he committed and it's true. to this day. governor blagojevich and his lawyers insisting he did nothing wrong, they say he did political deal making. it wasn't a crime, any politician faced with the prospect of filling a senate seat would naturally start looking around for political stuff to trade it for that was not necessarily an unreasonably argument. he could disagree with it. there was a real serious
argument to be made the government was seriously and soberly carrying out the normal uncraven duties of a serving dpofr when he was considering how to fill that senate seat. in theory, he had that case to maim i make. until you we heard the tape . >> illinois governor rod blagojevich. the day after president obama won the election in 2008. that was what he was thinking ability. he was caught on an fbi wiretap
how that seat was bleeping golden and he's not giving it up for bleeping nothing! and when that recording was played in court, it quickly became clear that he was going to go to jail and he's in jail. that was 2008. today, early this morning the serving approximate 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 fbi director before he fired him, conversations in which the fbi director told him, she not under investigation by the fbi. people close to the fbi director say those conversations never happened. they say what happened at a white house dinner between president trump and fbi james comey is the president demanded a loyalty oath, which the fbi director declined to give. now the president this morning suggested via that tweet there might be a tape of that conversation, essentially,
implying that comey better be careful. >> that has driven people into a frenzy of nixon comparisons all day long for obvious reasons. the prospect exists, james comey, it's interesting not because a president taping conversation is inherently nefarious. the presidents haven't done it since nixon. many haven't done it since nixon. it's really interesting, if there is a tape and the conversation went anything like the president says it did or they're talking about whether he's under investigation. that tape, now he's talked about it is fair game for being subpoenaed. it can be used for potential evidence. james comey can 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, especially because he admits he did that, in part, because of the fbi's russia investigations. the president has admitted he
has openly claimed at a dinner at the white house, he and james comey talked about whether he will 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 be i the fbi. and that very much sound like potential obstruction of justice and if there is a tape of that, then they may open up a whole set of legal liables, obstruction of justice is a real thing. today dianne feinstein and elijah couplings wrote letters demanding to know if such a tape exists. they refer to the president's tweets. that i wrote, quote, it is a crime to intimidate or threaten any witness to delay or prevent their testimony. we are in new legal territory here. but you know what, we have just the person to help explain what's important about it. that's next.
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the president has admitted he i'm very pleased to see joining us now is bob bower. mr. bower with thank you for being with us on a friday night. appreciate you're time today. >> certainly. >> so president trump on tuesday relet'sed a letter in which he fired the fbi director. he claimed in that letter that the director 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 ongoing and active criminal 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 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 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 recuse themselves from overseeing such an inquiry? >> absolutely. political appointees in absolutely. they would have to. >> 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. yeah. are those the pyrotechnics that are gonna startle me from a distance? yep. and my impractical wardrobe changes, those all set? not even close. oh, this is probably going to shine in your eyes at the worst possible time. perfect. we're looking at a real train wreck here, am i right? wouldn't it be great if everyone said what they meant? the citi® double cash card does. it lets you earn double cash back with 1% when you buy, and 1% as you pay. the citi double cash card. double means double. p3 planters nuts, jerky and whaseeds.at? i like a variety in my protein. totally, that's why i have this uh trail mix. wow minty. p3 snacks. the more interesting way to get your protein.
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 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. msnbc live is next. good morning, everybody. i'm dara brown. it's 7:00 in the east and 4:00 a.m. out west. president trump is heading out soon to deliver a commencement address as he and his aides negotiate through a hectic week, including -- >> what about the idea that in a tweet you said there might be tape recording? >> that i can't talk about. all i want is for comey to be honest and i hope he will be. i'm sure he will be, i hope. >> new questions this morning over whether president trump records conversations in the oval office. is it legal? plus, did the president ask former fbi director james