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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  June 12, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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the firing of a handful of u.s. attorneys for improper reasons. this time it was dozens of them fired a week after sessions was exposed in "the washington post" for his undisclosed meetings with russian officials and a couple of days after the trump agent. what happened? what happened? tomorrow jeff sessions under oath, the first time we will have any chance of learning the answer to that question, if they ask it of him. watch this space that does it for us tonight. i'll see you again tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" to whom i owe 1:07. i'm sorry. but you were just being so help to feel the senate staff that are preparing questions for tomorrow, that i'm sure they're all scribbling furiously. we thought we knew, had a pretty good idea what the questions would be to jeff sessions. but now we know that one of the very first questions tomorrow is going to be what will you do if the president orders you to fire special prosecutor robert mueller? >> what was your role in the firing of the fbi director? what was your role in the firing of the u.s. attorneys? what will you do, what will your role be if he tries to fire the
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special counsel? eventually can he fire everyone? i mean, it's going to be fascinating tomorrow. >> we're going to hear every one of those questions. what we don't know is how many answers we're going to hear. >> yeah. >> that we're not sure of. >> yeah. this question of executive privilege and what they're going the call executive privilege and such a -- i mean that's a difficult legal theory anyway. that's not a cut and dried thing even in the best of circumstances, i think we're going to get into appeals court territory pretty quickly tomorrow. >> and i have a feeling that jeff sessions isn't going to rely on the feelings pleading that we heard last week from dan coats and the director of nsa. it is my feeling that i shouldn't talk about this. >> i have discomfort. yeah. >> yes. >> i have a gavel. >> we will seattle. thank you, rachel. >> thanks. >> when president nixon fired the special prosecutor investigating him, he did it on a friday night and shocked
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headline writers who immediately called it the saturday night massacre. no one saw that coming, no one. everyone in the country was shocked. but because the trump white house is the leakiest white house in history, we know tonight that the president is thinking about firing special prosecutor robert mueller. and the first wave of commentary that you may have heard about this included many people repeating the phrase "can't imagine." as in can't imagine that the president would actually fire the special prosecutor. if you can't imagine that, you have not been paying attention. to president donald trump. >> trump and the people around him are not acting like people who have nothing to hide. >> it's jeff sessions' turn to answer questions from the senate intelligence committee about russia. >> the last time he was here, he testified and gave false testimony. >> i did not have communications with the russians.
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>> we got a lot of questions we want to ask him. >> he violated his own recusal. >> if the president okay testifying in this setting tomorrow? >> i think he is going to testify. we're aware of it and go from there. >> i think what republicans ought to focus on is closing down the independent counsel. >> could the president fire bob mueller? >> firing special prosecutors tends not to work, as we all learned from watergate. >> you may be the first president in history to go down because you can't stop inappropriately talking about an investigation. >> what we're calling stupid watergate, something with all the potential national shame of watergate brought to you by people too stupid to grasp the concept of shame. >> mr. president, it's been an honor to serve. >> i can't thank you enough. >> it looked to me something out of north korea or the soviet politburo. >> we thank you for the blessing you have given us. >> april ryan, the white house
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correspondent for american urban radio networks is reporting there is, quote, mass hysteria, that's her term, mass hysteria in the white house tonight because the president is considering firing special prosecutor robert mueller. tonight on the pbs news hour, chris ruddy, a confidante of the president said this to judy woodruff. >> i think he is considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. i think he is weighing that option. i think it's pretty clear what one of his lawyers said on television recently. i personally think it would be a very significant mistake, even though i don't think there is a justification, and even though -- i mean, here you have a situation -- >> chris ruddy had just come from the white house before doing that interview with judy woodruff. the report of mass hysteria in the white house tonight is based on the point that chris ruddy just made, even though he is a trump supporter who believe there's shouldn't be a special prosecutor, he believes it would be politically disastrous for
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the president to fire the special prosecutor. when president nixon fired the special prosecutor that was closing in on him, the president then felt the resulting political pressure was so strong that it forced president nixon to then allow the appointment of a replacement special prosecutor. leon jaworski who carried the watergate investigation to its conclusion which force president nixon to resign. tomorrow afternoon when attorney general jeff sessions appears to testify to the senate intelligence committee, he will be asked about firing the special prosecutor, if the special prosecutor has already been fired by tomorrow afternoon, such is the suspense we live with, then jeff sessions will be asked about any conversations he had about firing the special prosecutor. he'll be asked why the special prosecutor was fired. but if special prosecutor robert mueller has not yet been fired
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as of tomorrow afternoon, then jeff sessions will be asked if he will resign if the special prosecutor is fired. that is what attorney general elliot richardson did when president nixon ordered him to fire special prosecutor archibald cox. elliot richardson refused the president's order and resigned. and then the deputy attorney general williams ruckelhaus refused that same order, and then he refused. and then robert bourque obeyed the president's order. and that was remembered when robert bourque 14 years later was nominated by president reagan to fill a supreme court vacancy and his nomination was defeated by a vote of 58-42. what happens in the firing of robert mueller be remembered for the rest of the lives of anyone who participates in that firing. technically, the president does not have the direct power to fire the special prosecutor. only the attorney general has that power. but since attorney general jeff sessions has recused himself from matters involving the
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special prosecutor's investigation of the trump administration's russian connections, the prosecutor to fire the special prosecutor now rests with deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, the man who appointed the special prosecutor. this evening we have been hearing many, many commentators say they just cannot imagine that president trump would have the special prosecutor fired. everyone who has said that is a very slow learner about the capacities of the trump administration. one senator has already imagined it. senator kamala harris of california last week asked rod rosenstein to guarantee in writing that the special prosecutor would not be fired. that exchange became memorable not so much for the assistance for the style of rod rosenstein's response in which he seemed to try to avoid giving senator harris an answer, and more importantly, it was remembered for senator harris' persistence in getting an answer.
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>> would you agree, mr. rosenstein, to provide a letter to director mueller similarly providing that director mueller has the authority as special counsel, quote, independent of the supervision or control of any officer of the department and ensure that director mueller has the authority that is plenary and not, quote, defined or limited by the special counsel regulations? >> senator, i'm very sensitive about time, and i'd like to have a very lengthy conversation and explain that all to you. >> can you give me a yes or no? >> it's not a short answer, senator. >> it is. either you are willing to do that or not, as we have precedent in that regard. >> chairman, they should be allowed to answer the question. >> i realize that theoretically anybody can be fired. and so there is a potential for undermining an investigation. i am confident, senator, that director mueller, mr. mccabe and i and anybody else who may film those positions in the future will protect the integrity of
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that investigation. that's my commitment to you, and that's the guarantee that you and the american people have. >> so is that a no? >> she took that as a no. kind of the best line of that exchange was just cut off in our video. that now turns out to be possibly the most important question that was asked at that hearing. there were many other important questions asked of the other witnesses that got all the air time that day. but now, now that question. looms as the most important. that is the only time that rod rosenstein has been questioned about firing the special prosecutor. and his answer was theoretically anyone could be fired. he did give a guarantee, sounded like his personal guarantee that he would protect the integrity of the investigation. we will find out what that guarantee is worth. we'll find out what that means, if the president tries to fire a special prosecutor robert mueller. we will find out if rod rosenstein simply refuses to carry out that order.
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and if he does refuse, then we will find out if he then immediately resigns following the elliot richardson model, or perhaps more interestingly, rod rosenstein refuses to carry out the order and he doesn't resign. and he tries to appoint another special prosecutor. then we'll see if the president then fires rod rosenstein. or might attorney general jeff sessions decide that he will carry out the president's order and fire robert mueller himself? even though he has recused himself from the russia investigation. then does rod rosenstein resign? with a president who is motived by the norms of political cost benefit analysis, we might be able to predict for you what might happen here. with any other attorney general, we might be able to predict what the attorney general would do. if the president wanted the special prosecutor fired. what we do know is that from the start, president trump has behaved not like a politician who is concerned with how things
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look and how they will look in the next election, he has behaved as senator franken said like he has something to hide, something big. and we know a lot about jeff sessions, but not enough to predict what he will do if the president orders the firing of the special prosecutor. and so tonight the investigation of the president and his associates has hit another stunning suspense point. will the special prosecutor be fired? it was a question that rod rosenstein thought he could ignore last week. and most of the media thought it could be ignored last week when kamala harris asked about that. but tonight here we are. it's the question of the night. and we don't know what attorney general jeff sessions will do. we don't know if he will do the right thing and stand up to the president. this might be the night when jeff sessions looks into his soul and decides that the place he wants to occupy in history is
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as an attorney general who did the right thing when the president tried to fire the special prosecutor. if this happens, if the president does try to fire the special prosecutor, jeff sessions should know that what he then does will define his place in history. it will overwhelm everything he has ever done in his past, good or bad. it will be the thing he is remembered for. no one remembers ellio richardson for being the attorney general of massachusetts. no one remembers anything else elliot richardson did as the attorney general of the united states. they remember only that elliot richardson did the right thing on one night of his life when president nixon wanted to fire the special prosecutor. and unfortunately, everything that we do know about jeff sessions tells us that jeff sessions is no elliot richardson. joining us now walter dallinger who served as head of the office
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of legal counsel. he was acting solicitor general from 1996 to '97. john heilemann, national affairs analyst for msnbc news and msnbc. and david frum, senior editor at the atlantic. take us through the possibilities here. and one of the things i want to consider as we approach this, jeff sessions may already be a subject of the special prosecutor's investigation, possibly for perjury in testifying to the senate, or possibly involving his possible russian connections. it is -- is it possible that jeff sessions tonight has to worry that if he participates in the firing of the special prosecutor, that could add a obstruction of justice risk to him in what could become any investigation that follows that? investigation that follows that? >> well, as you know, attorney general sessions recused himself from anything having to do with
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the investigation into russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. for him to unrecuse himself and to participate in any decision to dismiss the special counsel i think would place him at extraordinary personal legal jeopardy. so i cannot imagine, no matter how loyal he may be to donald trump that he would be the one to step into that at his own personal legal peril. it's much more likely that in the unthinkable world in which we were to dismiss the special counsel that the president would direct the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein to do that, i knew rosenstein a bit. most people who have been in washington justice department law enforcement know him. i find it unthinkable that he would accept and carry out such an order. i believe that he would resign and that the president would have to go down the list. one of the problems is there are not many confirmed officials in
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the department of justice who are in the hierarchy to become acting deputy attorney general and to take on that authority. i don't know how many people would have to resign before president trump would find someone who would carry out the order to discharge mr. mueller. you have to remember the extraordinary confidence that robert mueller has among federal judges all across the country, among fbi agents all across the country, among republicans and democrats who have been in law enforcement or justice or law firms who is a republican who served for two terms under president bush as director of the fbi. i mean, this is -- this would be such an extraordinarily shocking event that it would not simply call into question the integrity of this investigation, it would call into question whether we really were operating under the rule of law at all. >> let's listen to newt gingrich
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making the case for firing the special prosecutor. >> i think that what republicans ought to focus on is closing down the independent counsel, because he is not independent. he apparently is very close to comey. we know comey hates trump. you have to assume that that has to leak over to mueller. and you have to assume that the people mueller is going to bring in are essentially justice department people who were 33-1 in favor of clinton over trump. >> david frum, your reaction to newt gingrich. >> first, he is calling him an independent counsel. that's an important mistake. the independent counsel law was allowed to lapse attend of the last century because there were doubts of constitution. that the special counsel is
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under the president because people have argued the president can be trusted to investigate himself. if that turns out not to be true, you are into political recommend dolphins most dire kind. maybe newt gingrich would welcome that because it's kind of an apocalyptic scenario and he enjoys those. i don't want to sound like i have the limited imagination you condemn. but if president trump really does fire robert mueller, he might as well hire a sky writer to trace over the white house i am super guilty. >> john heilemann, newt gingrich seems to be laying out the kind of talking points if this goes forward, i would expect to hear from more republicans. >> right. i mean, look, there is one version of kind of conventional political analysis, lawrence, that says look, this is never going to happen. that newt gingrich and the other assorted trump allies throughout are effectively, i say this on the night of another game in the nba finals, working the refs,
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are trying to muddy up robert mueller, are trying to launch a campaign against him to damage his credibility going forward. and importantly, to gin up some of the flagging enthusiasm of the trump base that we've been reading about in polling analysis over the course of the last few days that the white house is very concerned about the notion that they understand that he is never going to be a 50.1% president, that they need to keep his base whipped up. they need to keep it solid. and these kind of talking points are part of the way to do that. i think that that conventional political analysis is probably right as far as it goes, but like you, i don't think it's at all unthinkable, i don't think the supposedly unthinkable is at all unthinkable given what we have seen so far over the course this administration. it does feel to me tonight -- i'm not predicting this is going to happen. it could end up being that the conventional analysis is right. it could be possible that we're standing right now at the brink of a constitutional crisis.
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>> let's go back to the nixon model. let's remember the most important thing about the nixon case. the president was guilty, and he knew that when he fired the special prosecutor. and so a lot of the analysis of president trump is of a politician who is trying to preserve his political future. what if what we have here is someone who is guilty, who knows he is guilty? firing the special prosecutor has a logic to it. >> it is like a confession. here is a difference. with president nixon in 1973, he faced a special -- he faced a congress that was politically and idealogically sympathetic to him because conservative democrats had the upper hand. but it was in the hands of the upper party in both houses. he couldn't count on their total come place sense. donald trump may be gambling that he can, or to follow what john says, at least if he revs up the core republican base enough in these safe republican
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districts. the great calculation the republicans are all making is as they look with increasing dismay at donald trump, are they safer if they run away from him or are they safer if they cling to him. >> and walter dellinger, play out this drama a bit. if this does happen and let's say we see something like what we saw in the saturday night massacre with the attorney general not either quitting or not being involved in it at all through his recusal, rod rosenstein possibly resigning as you predict he might do, the next person in line, isn't that the old job you had, solicitor general? >> it is, lawrence. but the question is the solicitor general is not confirmed at this moment. and so is not eligible to become acting attorney general. neither is the next ranking person in the department, the head of olc is not yet confirmed. we're sort of entering into a black hole to try to find someone who would carry out this truly unthinkable deed.
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>> and so john heilemann, that would leave the administration, leave the white house basically calling over there, having to wire this whole thing ahead of time. they can't stand to go through the surprise of nixon got of discovering what elliot richardson was going to do only when the moment came. >> this again, lawrence, this is the scenario where i do think we get quickly, for the reasons that walter just laid out, you can very quickly find yourself in a constitutional crisis. and i do think to tie up one of the things david said, did this calculation for republicans, who have always held the fate of trump in their hands, not democrats, but republicans, at what point it is more expensive to carry trump as opposed to then stick with him as opposed to run away from him? there is going to be a point where it's more expensive to stick with him. in the black hole constitutional crisis, the notion that the white house is effectively taking over the justice department, and the old standard walls that divided the two and gave some independence, measure of independence to the justice
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department have come crumbling down entirely. that is where it becomes unthinkable for me to imagine, or becomes unthinkable that republicans eventually don't look at that and say enough, this is going to destroy us in 2018. we must put a stop to this. i don't know exactly where that point. but that point begins to become maybe, just maybe foreseeable. >> david frum, a quick last word before we go to a break. >> look, but you are hearing, and this is the most ominous thing saying the president has the right to fire him and fire him for any reason that is the new vision of the fbi director. maybe we're going to hear a new vision of the special counsel too. >> david frum, thank you very much for joining us tonight. coming up, the president's cabinet pledged their personal loyalty and devotion to the president today, and they did it publicly, except for a couple of them who held on to their dignity. and later, we'll be joined by a man who was threatened by donald trump with the possibility that he had tape recorded their conversations for use in court.
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the day before it leaked from the house that the president is considering firing the special prosecutor, the president held his first cabinet meeting with his first order of business to have each member of the cabinet humiliate himself or herself by praising the dear leader. reince priebus won the competition hands down for the most fawning public worship of the president. >> on behalf of the entire senior staff around you, mr. president, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you have given us to serve your agenda and the american people. and we're continuing to work very hard every day to accomplish those goals. >> one member of the cabinet refused to disgrace himself in a public display of the kind of personal loyalty that james comey has said the president demands. here is what defense secretary james mattis said. >> mr. president, it's an honor to represent the men and women of the department of defense,
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and we're grateful for the sacrifices our people are making in order to strengthen our militaries for our diplomats always negotiate from a position of strength. thank you. >> not one word of praise for trump. there is no word tonight whether president trump is now considering firing secretary mattis for refusing to publicly display his personal loyalty to the president. joining us now, eli stokols, for "the wall street journal" and john heilemann is back with us. eli, the report earlier tonight of mass hysteria in the white house at the thought that the president is actually considering and may very well be very close to deciding to fire the special prosecutor. we think we've seen something close to hysteria inside the white house before. i guess this would be the peak. >> well, it's really hard to know for sure because hysteria, it's sort of chronic. it's almost become the norm inside the west wing. and it's difficult, really, and it's a challenge for journalists to ascertain just to what degree people -- this is sort of a
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grade higher than normal when you have conversations, when you a president who is willing to engage pretty much anyone who comes in and out on any topic and who will discuss things that sound crazy when they get leaked to the press. it's difficult for us to know is he serious, is chris ruddy telling the truth? is he actually considering that? i think it was a pr problem this afternoon when it came out you. saw the white house eventually put out a statement. but this is a president that the bottom line is his own staff, his closest aides, they don't know what he is going to do at any given time. and i think that's why every day sort of feels like a four or five-alarm fire over there. >> let's listen to what congressman adam schiff said about this tonight on "hardball." >> what this would prompt if he were to fire bob mueller, congress would immediately take up legislation to reestablish the independent counsel and we would reappoint bob mueller.
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>> john heilemann, your reaction to that? >> i'm not sure congressman schiff has the votes for that. that's my immediate reaction to that. it's a snappy line, and as i said before, i do think it's hard to -- i do think there is a chance that if trump were to take this unprecedented and shocking step, i do think that there would be some republicans, some that would say, okay, i'm done with this now. i wash my hands of this. let's take this matter into our own hands. that might not be enough republicans to have the votes to accomplish what adam schiff suggested there. >> but eli, we heard the talking points laid out by newt gingrich about how to describe the legitimacy of firing the special prosecutor. as it happens, the causes for firing the special prosecutor are specified in law, and they are misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or, and that is the vague wide open one, other good cause. and so eli, that's what they'd be working with in trying to justify it.
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>> right. that last thing might give them a little leeway. but, you know, i don't think following the law is the most important thing for these folks. this is all about the politics. and we started to see it about 24 hours ago. a lot of republicans who support this white house starting to come out with tweets, with public statements in interviews on television, starting to sort of back the idea, to float the idea of maybe the president should fire the special counsel here. and it's just an indication that as john mentioned, we're sitting here with republicans supporting this president and congress for the most part. the president's base still not abandoning him. and i think what you see if this comes to fruition, we may still be a long way from that. it may not. but if it does, it is a double down on this shoot a person on fifth avenue idea that this president believes that his base will not abandon him, and if the base doesn't abandon him, then the rank and file republicans in congress are not going to abandon him.
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so there may be more of a sense in this white house that no matter the optics and how bad it might look to some, how much it might look like he has something to hide, they might believe also that they can get away with this. >> john heilemann and eli stokols, thank you both for joining us. i appreciate it. coming up, when donald trump sued someone who wrote a book about him, he of course lost the case, just humiliated in the litigation. and he used the same lawyer that president trump is using now. and in that same case, donald trump lied about tape recording his own conversations. that's next. my business was built with passion... but i keep it growing by making every dollar count. that's why i have the spark cash card from capital one. with it, i earn unlimited 2% cash back on all of my purchasing. and that unlimited 2% cash back from spark means
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here is sean spicer following the directions of president trump's personal lawyer by refusing to answer any questions about the investigation of the white house. >> does president trump have audio recordings of his conversations and meetings with the former fbi director james comey? >> the president made clear in the rose garden last week that he would have an announcement shortly. >> so what is he waiting for? what is the delay? >> he is not waiting for anything. when he is ready to discuss it, he will. i think he laid out his position very clearly, very concisely on friday. >> and here is the president today following the advice of his defense lawyer. >> are there tapes of you and james comey. >> thank you very much.
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>> thanks to a freedom of information request by "the wall street journal", the united states secret service said today it has no records of any audio recorded in the trump white house. but as "the wall street journal" points out, this doesn't exclude the possibility that recordings could have been created by another entity other than the secret service. joining us now, tim o'brien, the executive editor of bloomberg view, and the author of "trump nation: the art of being the donald." and tim, you were of course sued for writing that book, and marc kasowitz was the lawyer, the lawyer he has defending him in that lawsuit. the issue of audiotapes came up. tell us how that happened. that at some point donald trump said something like i tape recorded our conversation? >> routinely, i was at "the new york times" at the time. and we spoke frequently, multiple times during the week. >> by phone? >> by phone. he doesn't e-mail. he would send letters or i'd see him at the office. but occasionally the end of phone calls he would say i've been taping this. you don't mind if i tape this, do you? that's fine, that's fine.
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he would drop it in at the end. and i would be in his office and he would say i might have to start the tape recording system. >> let's go to the under oath deposition in your case. and i'm so glad that he sued you. >> i know you're jealous. >> i'm very jealous. i wanted him to sue me so i would have one of these depositions. here is donald trump under oath. i figured the only way i could make him write what i was saying was to have him at least think that he was being tape recorded. so you believe you may have told him? donald trump, i may have told him. i don't remember, but i may have told him. question, that you were tape recording him? >> donald trump -- that's right, i remember something very vaguely in my mind hoping he would write honestly what i said. question, and that was not true? you were not tape recording him? donald trump, i was not. i'm not equipped to tape record. so we have been here before. what was your reaction when you saw the first tweet from trump about hey, comey better hope
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there are no tapes. >> i thought there were absolutely no tapes. and comey said during his testimony, lordy, he hopes there are tapes, famously. and i hate to disappoint him, but i don't think they exist. trump says this all the time to intimidate people. whether it's people prosecuting him or investigating him or reporting on him. it's sort of typical trump. >> now your reaction tonight, knowing donald trump as you do, your reaction tonight to the possibility that he may order the special prosecutor to be fired. >> oh, i think he would do that in a heart beat if it came to his survival. thing is two lenses for understanding everything donald trump does. self-aggrandizement, or self-preservation. he is firmfully the self-preservation mode here. i don't think he would hesitate for a second to fire mueller. >> the idea that well, he's got to make the political calculation, for you just how at risk does he feel. >> yes.
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>> by the special prosecutor. and if he feels seriously at risk he'll fire them shirks not a strategically disciplined intellectually, emotionally disciplined person. he is a carnival barker. and he wants attention, and he wants to make sure that he survives. that's what motives everything he does. >> now kasowitz has absolutely no experience defending a president. he has virtually no experience with criminal law. he has always been in these lawsuits, defending the trump university lawsuit which he lost to the tune of $25 million. >> right. >> what is your reaction to the president having a lawyer with no experience in the arena that he finds himself now? >> well, when he sued me for libel, kasowitz had no experience in libel law either. >> and now he does. >> now he does. and i had great attorneys. i had mary jo white, andrew levine. >> former u.s. attorney mary jo white. >> correct. and former s.e.c. chair. and they were prepared. they were disciplined. they were wise. and they cleaned his clock.
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>> and so kasowitz to you is a sign that actually trump could have more problems than he realizes? >> he doesn't understand what he is up against. >> doesn't know what he is doing. that was my impression. tim o'brien, thank you for joining us. and thank you for getting sued. >> you're welcome. >> coming up, president trump's personal lawyer marc kasowitz now wants to have his own office space in the white house, and big surprise, but possibly not to people who have seen him work before, he is now risking disbarment with the legal advice he is giving white house staff.
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just managing your symptoms? ask your gastroenterologist about humira. with humira, remission is possible. here is what "the new york times" reported today about president trump's personal defense lawyer marc kasowitz. quote, in recent day, mr. kasowitz has advised white house aides to discuss the inquiry into russia's interference in last year's election to as little as possible. he told aides gathered in one meeting who asked whether it was time to hire private lawyers
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that it was not yet necessary. according to another person with direct knowledge. now that part about telling the white house staff that it's not necessary to hire lawyers could get him in serious trouble you. might recall that it's been some weeks since i first advised everyone in the white house to get their own lawyers. marc kasowitz is a member of the new york bar. the new york bar's rules of conduct say, quote, a lawyer shall not give legal advice to an unrepresented person other than the advice to secure counsel if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the interests of such person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interests of the client. everyone working in the white house has the reasonable possibility of being in legal conflict with this president. the president's lawyer never should have said that to those staffers. up next, i'll ask former assistant attorney general walter dellinger how much trouble marc kasowitz can get in for giving that kind of advice
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around the white house. and david cay johnston who knows donald trump well will also join us. ♪ lights. camera. ♪ strike a pose. your eyes work as hard as you do. but do they need help making more of their own tears?
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house staff. as i just reported according to the "new york times," he told aides gathered in one meeting who asked whether it was time to hire private lawyers it was not yet necessary. we're joined by the founder of d.c. report.org a non-profit that covers the trump administration. and walter dahlinger. walter, you have a lawyer, completely inexperienced in any case involving the white house, inexperienced in criminal law being asked by white house staffers do they need lawyers. and of course they do. and here he is telling them no, no, no, you don't need lawyers. that's clearly in violation of the new york bar's rule about his ability to advise people who might be involved in the case that his client is involved in. >> laurance, i -- i'm not going to opine on the new york bar rules but think how generally inappropriate this is. if this is an employment related question, their advice ought to come from the white house counsel. mr. kasowitz's only professional obligation is to donald trump. so he cap be giving advice to
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anyone else. note h this is a piece of the standard process of failing to follow the standard legal procedures that keeps getting this white house into more and more trouble. brief examples that link all today's news. they didn't get an opinion from the department of justice about whether his dealings with foreign businesses violated the emolument's clause. he hired a private lawyer for that. that's not appropriate. when the travel ban got a death blow from the ninth circuit today what they focused on was how they didn't follow the proper procedures, they didn't consult with the right departments, didn't have a finding. again and again they don't follow the right procedures and again and again it gets this white house into trouble. >> david, marc kasowitz is
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practicing law without a license in washington which the d.c. bar does not like. they have got rules against that. he is not admitted to the bar in d.c. because the major firms in washington refuse to represent the president because they consider him so unreliable as you will know both in paying and in listening to legal advice. once again, as walter says, the one thing that is happening here is that the addition of the president's defense lawyer has not helped anything. as far as i can see from where we are sitting now has only made things worse. >> that's right. in addition to the prospect that he might have problems with the board of professional responsibility in washington which is under the circuit court of appeals there, i think there is another elephant in the room, lawrence. we are talking about an investigation that deals with
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counter-intelligence. does marc kasowitz have a security clearance? did the white house get a security clearance for him? what discussions is he having with staff people, and what facts has he been told by the president that deal with matters of national security? >> david, that's one of the things that you get in a washington law firm is that there are people there who have experience with either having had security clearances or have the ability and background to obtain one or what's necessary to get them through representations of clients like this. >> that's right. they are lawyers who are sophisticated in the ways of how government does this. they are not bullies. donald is a bully. his top lawyers bully people and threaten people. it's their style of operating that works in the private sector in some cases in tough throat businesses like new york real estate but that's not going to
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work in washington. and that trump doesn't understand this goes to a very fundamental principle. unfortunately, nobody during the campaign simple will he asked donald trump this question, what exactly is the job description of the president of the united states. i assure you donald doesn't have a clue what it says in oral two. >> if you were white house counsel and staff came into your office in circumstances like this or any kind of investigation and said should i get a lawyer, what would you say? >> i think the answer depends on whether they had any rough connection to these issues. if they did, i think the answer undoubtedly should be -- should be yes, that they should. you know, there was mention of creating a war room to deal with the russian investigation within the white house. but there war room the people suggested for it were going to be people who ought not be talking to each other about some of these matters at some point. i don't each understand how that
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works. he needs distinguished counsel. and he needs to segregate 24 from the work of the white house and not continue to mix public interests and private interests in a way that doesn't respect the appropriate boundaries. >> well, we go into tonight with the suspense of not knowing whether we will have a special prosecutor tomorrow. walter dellinger thank you for your unique experience and guidance. david k. johnston thank you. always appreciate it. >> thank you. we'll be right back with tonight's last word. [boy] cannonball!
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they were no doubt asking him about those conversations with the president that he refused to ♪ sorry about the holdup, folks. we have some congestion on the runway and i'm being told it'll be another 15, maybe 20 minutes, and we will have you on your way. ♪ runway models on the runway? surprising. what's not surprising? how much money evan saved by switching to geico. i would not wear that lace. hmm, i don't know?
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mueller. >> i don't know that really happened. >> would that be -- mueller? >> i don't know if that really happened. >> would it -- >> it would be a bad idea but i don't know if that's true. i don't have any reason to believe that it is. i wasn't -- i didn't hear that. >> it would be a bad idea. senator marco rubio gets tonight's last word. "11th hour" with brian williams starts right now. the breaking news tonight -- is donald trump debating whether or not to fire the special counsel. a friend of his says the president is considering terminating robert mueller. plus, the next man up in front of the senate intelligence committee. tomorrow the attorney general jeff sessions will be sworn in questioned about russia and then some. an assessment of this presidency by our speci

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