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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  June 12, 2017 11:00pm-12:01am PDT

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that he thinks he may fire 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 special guest, former
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governor, senator, 9/11 commission bob kerrey here with us in the studio this evening. "the 11th hour" begins now. good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york as we start a new week. day 144 of the trump presidency. and late in the day, it was dominated by an idea, the idea floated by a friend of the president that donald trump has considered or is considering firing the special counsel, terminating robert mueller. the president has the power to do so. the question is, what would happen to the president and his presidency if he did so, especially having already fired one prominent investigator, the head of the fbi. the notion of a mueller firing started to get floated out this past weekend. most recently, it was trump friend and news max publisher chris ruddy in an interview with judy woodruff over on "the pbs
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news hour." >> is president trump prepared to let the special counsel pursue his investigation? >> well, i think he is considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. i think he's weighing that option. >> he was not the first trump surrogate to hint at this same idea. >> i think that what republicans ought to focus on is closing down the independent counsel because he's not independent. he apparently is very close to comey. >> will the president promise not to interfere, not attempt at any time to order the deputy attorney general to fire robert mueller? >> look, the president -- the president of the united states, as we all know -- it is a unitary executive. the president is going the seek the advice of his counsel inside and government as well as outside. i am not going to speculate on what he will or will not do. >> this comes as we gear up for the next round in the russia investigation that once again has the potential to dominate the day's news tomorrow. and for that matter, the upcoming week. attorney general jeff sessions will be sworn in tomorrow
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afternoon in public session by the senate intelligence committee. it is as of yet unclear in this if sessions will answer every question thrown list way or perhaps, perhaps employ executive privilege to avoid talking about some of his conversations with the president. sean spicer was asked about that in the press briefing today. >> sean, to that end, do you think when jeff sessions testifies tomorrow, do you believe he should invoke executive privilege on conversations between himself and the president as it relates to jim comey? >> it depends on the scope of the questions. and to get into a hypothetical at this point would be premature. >> in any way did jeff sessions, folks at the doj ask for the white house's permission in essence for him to testify publicly tomorrow? >> i don't know the answer to that question. i know congress generally speaking sets the -- whether a hearing is open or closed based on the sensitivity of the subject. >> is the president then okay
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with him testifying in this open setting tomorrow? >> i think he's going to testify. we're aware of it. go from there. >> they are aware of it. among other things, sessions who took himself out of the russia investigation, you will recall, will be asked tomorrow about a potential third meeting he had with the russian ambassador to the u.s., the now rather well-known sergei kislyak. as for the president, we know from comey's testimony he regards the entire subject of russia as a cloud over his administration. and it was a staged event today at the white house that is still getting a lot of talk and attention tonight. it was the president's first cabinet meeting. here is part of what he said about his own accomplishments in office thus far. >> when i ran, it was make america great again. and that's what we're doing. believe me, we're doing it and we're doing it at a much faster pace than anyone thought, i will say, never has there been a president, with few exceptions,
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the case of fdr who had a major depression to whanl who has passed legislations and done more things than we have done. between the executive orders and the job killing regulations that were terminated, 34 bills, and congress signed a supreme court justice who is going to be a great supreme court justice and many other things we have achieved tremendous success. we have been about as active as you can possibly be at just about record-setting pace. >> well, our colleague john harwood of cnbc was not having any of that and he he quickly wrote this in response, quote, never has there been a president with few exceptions who has passed more legislation, done more things, trump declared, even though congress, which is controlled by his party hasn't passed any major legislation. he hailed his plan for the single biggest tax cut in american history even though he hasn't proposed a plan and
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congress hasn't acted on one. he said no one would have believed his election could have created so many new jobs over the past seven months, 1.1 million. even though 1.3 million were created in the previous seven months, but the part of that cabinet meeting that was instantly compared to the adoration that surrounds the man they call dear leader in north korea was this. we will show this more later, but here's a taste. the president went around the room as members of the cabinet took their turn praising him. >> greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to the president who is keeping his word to the american people and assembling a team that's bringing real change, real strength. >> i can't thank you enough for the leadership you have shown and the privilege you have given me. >> thanks for the opportunity to fix the trade deficit and other things. >> mr. president we thank you for the opportunity and blessing you have given us to serve your agenda.
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>> on that let's bring in our starting panel, michael schmidt is here with us. reporter for the "new york times." he covers white house security. aneeda kumar, white house correspondent for mcclatchy newspaper, and we welcome to the broadcast, kimberly atkins, chief washington from "the boston herald," a lawyer by training, we assume she is in recovery from that. welcome to all of you, michael, home field advantage. we'll start with you. back up to the top of our broadcast a little bit of a nondenial/denial from trump even considering firing robert mueller. how would it work? i know he has the ability, the power to do so, but it would normally go to the attorney general but for the fact he recused himself on all things russia. >> it would go to rod rosenstein, the guy who played the central role in the firing of comey would now have to make the decision about whether to get rid of mueller. now, some folks say
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rosenstein would stand up and would resign and would leave himself. but this is the guy who didn't do that for comey. he was willing to go along with the firing of comey, so he's already down this path. it would obviously create a huge crisis at the justice department. but we thought that firing comey would create a huge crisis, and largely the president has survived it. obviously, there has been some political impact, but on capitol hill the republicans are staying with him. >> i know this might call for a mini judgment on your part and perhaps you are not comfortable. do you fundamentally, knowing what you do about this president, his processes or lack of them, believe this is plausible, this is true, that he is considering or has considered the firing of this special counsel? >> well, the white house hasn't knocked it down. they -- you know, there was this weird back and forth tonight where trump's lawyer and the white house were sort of saying hot potato, i don't want to answer this, you have to answer this. and then eventually you get something from spicer that's a
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nondenial/denial. so i don't know. the firing of comey was such a thing -- how could he ever do that, you know, with the russia investigation going on? but in a way he has kind of moved forward. yes, it's been incredibly damaging to him. but at the same time, you know, the show goes on. >> anita, we have attorney general sessions tomorrow. we have a white house that has ducked a couple of opportunities to express the president's full confidence in the attorney general. for a brief time tomorrow he is going to be the most powerful member of the administration except maybe for his boss. give us a preview. >> sure. i mean, i think that the white house clearly doesn't like that this is happening tomorrow, they don't like that it's out in public. but, hey, it's better than it was last week. it's better than james comey. they did not know what comey was going to say. they have a much better idea of what sessions is going to say. sessions should do pretty well.
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he's a former senator. he has been there before. these are his former colleagues. the white house is going to know what he's going to say, and they know what questions are going to be asked. so they are feeling much better about it than they were last week. now i will say, they were very nervous at the beginning of the comey testimony and by the end of the day they felt much better. and so i think they wish all of it would go away. they are trying their best to change the subject, but i don't think they feel as bad as they did last week. >> kimberly, we are so happy to have you join us this week. what are the critical questions to fire at the attorney general tomorrow? >> i think what we will see, particularly from the democrats on that committee, are asking the attorney general to fill in a lot of the blanks that may have been left by former fbi director james comey. a lot of critical points like that day where the president asked everyone to clear the room and leave him alone with comey. i'm sure they will ask the attorney general did he linger on?
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did he give a signal to the president that that was perhaps inappropriate? after he left the room, did he stay by the door and try to listen in? they will also ask him what he did after james comey went to him and expressed concern about being left alone with the president. the former fbi director said he sort of shrugged and said what can you do. we'll see what the attorney general says himself and, of course, they'll be asking him about this particular problematic connection that the former fbi director thought he had that would ensure his recusal. we'll see how much of that he answers in the open session. >> michael, on this subject of tapes, which will not go away, someone today reported the u.s. secret service has no tapes, has no knowledge of any recording. but that doesn't clear it up at all if the president has his own means. what do you expect is going on here? >> i don't know if it's trump
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trying to bully comey -- is he trying to bully comey into this? but this is what i find to be the most interesting part of it. it was trump's tweets about the tapes that led comey to leak the information that he did. >> yeah. >> to try to get this special counsel. >> there's a straight line from that one tweet to a special counsel. >> directly to that. and it's just another example of the president's tweets really undermining and hurting him. and i just -- i keep on making the point over and over again. but we wouldn't have bob mueller -- you wouldn't be talking about firing bob mueller if it hadn't been for that tweet and james comey woke up that monday at 2:00 in the morning and said, hold on, there may be a way to corroborate my conversations with the president. >> what about the expectations they have built up in the meantime? it was like a reality show tease when he said in a very short period of time you will learn. i'm sorry to keep hitting you with these. you are a professional. >> it continues to shock me. but it doesn't at the same time.
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>> anita, what's the chance we are going to hear the phrase executive privilege tomorrow? >> we might hear it. we might. depends what the questions are. it definitely depends. but you know, i think there are some thing they want to get out there and have him talk about. it's just a question of what the questions are. the biggest things of course are going to be, you know, as you mentioned, did he have that third meeting? and then, you know, he could easily say with james comey he didn't know a lot of these things. he was outside the room. he didn't know what happened. so he can easily get away with saying that. >> kimberly, about the west wing, our friends at the "new york times" wrote a story over the weekend about the president's personal attorney kind of walking around the west wing and making contacts with staffers. there is a white house attorney named don mcgahn, our friends at the "new york times" i believe it was "the times," it's tough to keep track of them these days -- reported that the president may not see mcgahn as
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a peer of his a few weeks back. then politico over the weekend says the president has threatened reince priebus yet again with dismissal. july 4th, unless things are running swimmingly by then. that's a lot of tension in the west wing, especially when there is a big target testifying on the hill tomorrow. >> yeah, there's a lot of palace intrigue. i think one thing we've seen from this president is he expresses loyalty, he takes loyalty very seriously, but he is loyal to the people close to him until it seems not to be working out that well for him and then that loyalty disappears. there were a lot of campaign staffers who were left in the dust based on that, so it is a tense time, and it is a time where you need to be listening to your attorneys, both your internal white house counsel and external counsel. i hope members of the white house all have their own counsel the way that the president is assembling his team. you need to be listening to what they are saying.
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and it seems clear that's probably not happening with the president. he's still continuing to tweet, for example, which i'm sure is giving his lawyers angina. >> michael, do you think sessions has the capacity to surprise us, all of us watching tomorrow? and what happens when this comes down to he said/he said? who do you believe more, comey or donald trump? >> as we unravel all of this, comey's credibility and other people that back him up will be very important. so, if sessions says, yes, indeed, i did have this conversation with comey or, indeed, i was kicked out of the oval office, that goes towards building up what comey has said. if he says, no, that didn't happen or, no, comey never said that, then that hurts comey. so at each new witness that we have will provide another piece of the puzzle to figuring out whether trump or comey is telling the truth. >> this could be a harrowing day. yet another harrowing day
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tomorrow on the hill. our great thanks to our starting off panek, michael, anita, and kimberly. appreciate you all coming on. coming up after our first break, is the president worried about the threat say russia poses every day to our democracy? a former fbi agent is with us next. and later, if you think you had a case of the mondays, again, try being one of the cabinet members around that table in that room. "the 11th hour" back with more after this. you never just get one offer. go to lendingtree.com and shop multiple loan offers for free! free? yeah. could save thousands. you should probably buy me dinner. no. go to lendingtree.com for a new home loan or refinance. receive up to five free offers and choose the loan that's right for you. our average customer could lower their monthly bills by over three hundred dollars.
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did the president in any of those interactions that you have shared with us today ask you what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect america against russian interference in our election system? >> i don't recall a conversation like that. >> never? >> no. >> do you find it odd -- >> not with president trump. >> right. >> i attended a fair number of meetings on that with president obama. >> james comey there before the senate intel committee last week. it's an exchange that one former fbi agent describes as the most shocking of his appearance that day. quoting from her piece in the "washington post," quote, in the nine times trump met with or called comey, it was always to discuss how the investigation into russia's election interference was affecting him personally, rather than the security of the country. this contrast alone between trump and obama underscores
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trump's disregard for his fundamental duty which is to ensure the security of the nation, its government and its citizens from foreign entities. the author is here with us tonight, a former special agent with the fbi and is now associate dean of yale law school. also with us from the west coast, jeremy bash, former chief of staff at cia and pentagon. former counsel to house intelligence. welcome to you both, asha, i'll begin with you. for people whose thinking hasn't been affected by all of this, the coverage has almost had a corrosive effect of normalizing russia, which is what a whole bunch of people are being accused of doing. what is your view of the damage assessment so far to our country and the stakes starting tomorrow? >> i think that when you have every senior intelligence official saying that this is an unprecedented attack on our democracy, this is when
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everybody -- and especially the president -- needs to stand up and listen and figure out what we're going to do to stop this. we've already been attacked. this is not something we are preventing from happening. if this were happening in a terrorism context we would be responding immediately. i'm just astounded that we are just continuing as though life is normal. >> so you view this as an ongoing attack. comey said during the hearing they will be back. someone kind of gently corrected him the next day and say they're not leaving. they are going to stay here. >> no. >> do you think it's fair to say that most of the 35,000, 36,000 people employees at the fbi and most of them working in the intelligence service hold your unreconstructed, unnormalized view of russia and putin. >> i think definitely in intelligence community and the parts of the bureau that work on counterintelligence matters would understand the magnitude of this threat because you see
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what -- we have spies here all the time, not to scare you, but -- and the fbi is very good at what it does. and for -- this has gone beyond that in terms of using technology, using social media platforms to do what intelligence agencies have always done, propaganda, disinformation. but to do it on such a scale that it has actually infected the way that we have proceeded in our political process. >> so, jeremy, what asha is saying is, if you are going to report about all your meetings with the president, so many that it made you uncomfortable, ultimately, it would make sense, if you are the president of the united states to pepper your fbi director with questions, what are we doing to shut this down? update me on the damage thus far. >> yeah, i couldn't agree more with asha. and that's why this presidential bear hug, pun intended, is so disturbing.
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because the russian threat is ongoing. it's an effort to influence our politics. but it's also an effort to influence u.s. policy overseas. when you see a president stand in brussels and not invoke article 5 to showcase our all for one and one for all policy vis-a-vis our nato allies, that's the outcome of russian influence. when the foreign minister of russia and the russian ambassador to the united states are invited into the oval office, that is an outcome of russian influence campaign. the operation is underway at this hour, and it continues. >> asha, i hate to ask a kind of unlimited question. how bad could it get? if this is the damage thus far, and it depends on who you ask, who feels it most urgently. how bad could it get? what else could happen? >> what can happen is that we basically delegitimatize our institutions. and we see that happening
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already. we have our courts being called, so-called courts. we have our intelligence agencies being accused of nazis. this is sowing a lack of faith among the american people. and i think that that's -- that's when the fabric of our democracy starts to break down. when people don't believe in it. we have seen protests today in russia, you know. >> yeah. >> when we contrast, russia doesn't want there to be a shining beacon on a hill. and that's what we've always been because we've always believed in what we have and i think that's starting to break down and it is working. >> a lot of arrests today, a lot of different locations, a lot of police on the police, more vociferously anti-putin than anything we've seen in our national discourse in a long time. jeremy, looking forward to tomorrow, more than a preview of what you think you will hear, what do you want to hear from the attorney general? >> i would like to hear him talk
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about two things. one is on the campaign, since he was a major foreign policy adviser what was his discussion with the russians, what was his discussion internal to the campaign about the policy about russia? i think that's critically important. and, second, he is one of the prime witnesses to the comey firing. now, i worry, brian, that on that second area, he will invoke executive privilege. we talked about this on this program before. if he tries to assert the executive privilege or have the president, in effect, assert it regarding his testimony, we the american people will be shut done in learn being the comey firing. i think that's troubling. >> jeremy, what role, if any, does mueller play tomorrow in effecting anything said or asked? anything at all? >> i think he is watching carefully. any of the statements made under oath, if they are turn out to later be false or exaggerated or contradict any evidence, that's part of his investigation. so i think he is there in effect watching over the whole process. >> asha, i can give you 15 seconds for the last word. do you think this russia normalization business is
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existential to the trump presidency? is it he will mental? was it part of the birth of the trump presidency? >> that's a difficult question. i don't think so. i mean this, is something that would have been an ongoing effort by the russians. they probably wanted this to happen. i do think that it flowered in the last -- in last year's election because it was such a polarizing election. and i think that what they've done is take advantage of the partisan polarization that was there and that is still there. and i'm sure they're reveling in it right now. >> two terrific lawyers, one of them who happens to have served in the fbi, asha ranappa and jeremy bash, thank you so much for coming on with us. coming up, former u.s. senator and governor bob kerrey weighs in on all of this. he is coming to our table when "the 11th hour" continues.
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and we'll have to deal with that as we see it. >> considered one of the straight shooters around the president, welcome back to our broadcast, that, of course, was defense secretary james mattis taking questions earlier tonight from members of house armed services. here to talk about this white house and russia and all of it as former nebraska democratic senator for 12 years, former nebraska governor for four, bob kerry, also happens to be a recipient of the medal of honor for his role in vietnam as a navy s.e.a.l. and the longtime president of the news school in new york and importantly was a member of the 9/11 commission. sir, thank you for coming to our table and joining us. >> my pleasure. >> your preview of sessions tomorrow, and what did you make of that cabinet meeting today? >> oh, my god, it was like watching stalin with his cabinet. it was really without precedent. that's for sure. >> sessions tomorrow. what do you expect? and how much does senatorial
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courtesy? >> it mattered in confirmation. won't matter tomorrow. >> doesn't matter that he sat among them? >> no, i mean, certainly if you're republican you have got the unpleasant task of trying to defend the president. and they will go over anything that is going to make the president look better. but it is -- no, there won't be senatorial courtesy extended. this is a very serious investigation. i think the previous conversation you were having was dead on the big issue. the russians interfered with the elections. leaving that aside, the president keeps saying well the democrats lost -- that's not what we are talking about. there is no question that their attempt to interfere was to get their united states to change its policy and top the list are the sanctions. had they been working that case and, by the way, i don't know if it's been commented on but when you have a meeting with the russian ambassador to the united states, you are meeting with their number one spy. it's not just like any other
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ambassador. >> he is a trained intelligence vacuum. >> he is going straight to putin with whatever you are saying to him. so, all those meetings that were being conducted, that was an intelligence operation. as i said, their number one goal -- i think the paradox is they haven't achieved that objective. they actually made it more difficult as a consequence of now the full disclose that they had an explicit attempt to try to change the outcome of the election. clearly, they wanted to defeat hillary clinton. whether they did or not is secondary. maybe mueller gets to the bottom -- i doubt it when you have 70,000 votes in michigan and pennsylvania and wisconsin you can blame that on a sun spot. i don't think they are going to be able to have a blood trail leading to the russians on that. but there is no question that interference was substantial and there is no question that it is a threat to the united states of america. >> what do you make of the hint that the president would consider, is considering, firing bob mueller? >> he brought his own private attorney in. that guy can't get security
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clearance. you are dealing with the russian investigation of it's clear what he is trying to do is protect himself. if he thinks that mueller puts him at risk, personal risk he is going to say can you get me a copy of article 2 of the constitution and determine whether or not this is something a president should do. i think if he thinks he is a risk him to personally, he will throw him overboard. >> does he have old hands around him saying, this will unleash a wrath, you can't do it. or does it matter to him? >> to send our bodyguard down to the fbi telling comey he is fired while he is giving a speech to fbi employees out in los angeles, i mean, where are the old hands telling him he can not do that i keep hearing ivanka is going to moderate him and blah, blah, blah, it doesn't seem to happen. every time you think he has got this thing under control it's 12:00 in the morning there is a tweet coming out or 5:00 in the morning and another tweet coming out that basically puts us right
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back where -- imagine what would happen if the president said i don't think it impacted the election, maybe it did, i don't know, i think i won this fair and square but this is serious, this is serious, we have got to get to the bottom of this. i'm going say to the american people, i am going to get comey, give you the authority to do a good investigation, get the intel chiefs in here, we have got to get to the bottom and find out what happened. what do we do instead, mike pence and the secretary of kansas are in charge of the effort to determine if there was voter fraud. that's not a threat to the country. there's no evidence. fine, do your investigation over there. but imagine if the president said this was a serious threat to america and we are going to get to the bottom of it. he doesn't have to believe it affected the outcome of the election to acknowledge it's a serious threat to the conversation. >> we will stop right now. we'll fit a break in. when we come back we'll continue our conferring with bob kerrey. . tell your doctor about your medicines, and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain,
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and get medical help right away. with tempur-pedic.t our proprietary material automatically adjusts to your weight, shape and temperature. so you sleep deeply, and wake up feeling powerful. find your exclusive retailer at tempurpedic.com welcome back to our broadcast. and specifically, our discussion with former nebraska governor
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and senator bob kerrey. what do you make of donald trump? you have been a new yorker for a long time. you probably had interactions with him. and i learned recently you have been writing him letters sporadically. >> well, i did, i have actually wrote seven right after he won the election. and it was in response -- i have a 15-year-old son, and he was asking me what it's all about and what was going on. it was as much to answer the questions my son was asking me as it was an attempt to try to influence the president or change the direction he was going. >> topics like? >> health care, for example. we talked about it earlier. if you really want to have a health care compromise legislation, you know, i can sit down and write a bill that would get 60 votes. 20 democrats would vote no, 20 republicans would vote no and you would get a bill. my suggestion in the letter was get a republican that people trust, get mitch daniels to come
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in. they've expanded medicaid. they have an interesting way they've done it. get someone who knows the numbers and put them in charge of creating a bipartisan coalition that will end this bitter debate that's going on that is leading nowhere. there are many other examples besides that. so i just think it's the primary problem i have with what the president is doing is he chooses to start off way on the right and hopes to move back to the center. it doesn't work that way. >> do you think his presidency is sustainable at this pace, given when we've seen, we have already got a special counsel? >> yeah, i think -- i mean, who knows? anybody who tells you they know what is going to happen in 2020 is not likely to know what is going to happen in 2020. i don't think it is sustainable. i don't think you can get anything done by starting everything all the way on the right. you are not going to get people
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to agree with you if at 5:00 in the morning you tweet out an insult. the politics gets personal after a while. if you insult somebody, you can't turn around the next day and say you are going work with them. he is saying the democrats aren't -- they're being obstructionist. they're not being obstructionist. they are not a part of the conversation about what the tax bill is going to be, what the trade bill is going to be, what the health care is going to be. as a consequence, you have got a set of republican proposals that tends to be extremely conservative. >> final question, may be difficult to answer. if you were still abtive duty navy, forward deployed, combat zone, how would you feel about donald trump as your commander in chief. >> i would salute and do whatever he told me to do. he is the commander in chief. >> thank you, bob kerrey with us here in the studio. when we come back, the business ties of the trump presidency, trump family. what several lawyers have said
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this case is about the right of hundreds of millions of americans to honest government. elected leaders who serve the people and not their own financial interests are the indispensable foundation of our democracy. and the president, above all other elected officials, must have only the interests of americans at the heart of every decision. >> the attorney general of the state of maryland discussing a new legal challenge to president trump, a first of its kind lawsuit filed by maryland, and his equivalent in the district
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of columbia arguing the president has violated and is still violating anti-corruption clauses in the constitution. the lawsuit ago alleges that despite his many promises to keep his public duties and private interests separate trump has yet to, quote, disentangle his private finances from those of domestic and foreign powers. joining us tonight, new york magazine contributing editor andrew rice who has just written a comprehensive examination of trump incorporated and its possible conflicts of interest. note the artwork there. also with us tonight, richard painter, chief ethics lawyer for the george w. bush administration and vice chairman for citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington. they have already come to be known as c.r.e.w. for short. gentlemen, welcome to you both. andrew, these two lawsuits today, perhaps people heard something in the wind about them. do they stand a chance?
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vrp what happens to them now? >> the first hurdle they have the clear is that the department of justice has already filed a motion to dismiss the first emoluments case. i should say these are cases brought under the emoluments clause of the constitution. basically, so on friday the d.o.j. filed their motion to dismiss. so now a judge is going to have to decide on a couple of issues, whether the people who are suing have basically have the right to sue the president over this issue. >> there is a devastating quote early on in your piece about the president, and i think i have this exactly right, having written it on my legal pad. his inveterate hucksterism may be the fatal weakness of his presidency. and what you also i believe mean by that , all these other investigatio going on, what may be the chief offense as seen
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by his critics and investigators is the business side of things. >> insofar as people speculate that there is a relationship between him and russia and other foreign powers, it all generally seems to come back to at least theoretically to money. he was in business all over the world. he had global interests. many different countries as he was proud of boasting until it became politically inconvenient. and this creates a sort of thicket of problems when the same individual becomes the president of the united states. >> richard painter, counsellor, before we come to you, i want to listen to sean spicer on the subject of these lawsuits. >> the president;s interests do not violate the emodelment cause. it's not hard to conclude that politics may be one of the motivations behind the suit. the suit was filed by two democratic attorney generals.
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the lawyers driving the suit are an advocate kasay group with partisan ties. i think we will move these cases in the normal course of business. >> hear that? partisan ties. oh, wait. you have been a republican for 30 years. what do you think of that? >> i have been and i very much enjoyed serving president bush as the chief ethics officer i would like to elect more republicans to the house. i would like more to stand up against foreign infiltration of our government. this was a concern of the founders when they drafted the emoluments clause of the constitution. it is a concern underlying the lawsuit we brought on behalf of c.r.e.w. in the southern district of new york against the president in his official capacity asking the judge to tell him which of these foreign government payments he can have and which he cannot. this is critically important to
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make sure that foreign governments are not able to influence our government through payoffs for american office holders. and the founders understood this problem because it was going on at the time over 200 years ago. and now we see that russia has been engaged in this type of conduct trying to undermine western democracies or 100 years since the russian revolution. the czars were each doing it before that. this case is about the right of hundreds of millions of americans to honest government. elected leaders who be the people and not their own financial interests are the indispensable foundation of our democracy. and the president above all
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other elected officials, must have only the interests of americans at the heart of every decision. >> the attorney general of the state of maryland discussing a new legal challenge to president trump, a first of its kind lawsuit filed by maryland and his equivalent in the district of columbia arguing the president has violated and is still violating anti-corruption clauses in the constitution. the lawsuit alleges despite his many promises to keep his public duties and private interests separate, trump has yet to "disentangle his private finances from those of domestic and we need to get to the bottom of it with the kushner family and anyone else in the government bound by the emoluments clause and that's what we asked a federal judges to look at and the house and senate josh mankiewicz committees ought to be looking at this as well. if they don't want to do it as well, i'm going to want to throw everyone out. democrat or republican if they're not going to make sure that our president adheres to the constitution. >> richard painter who never lacks for passion and andrew, i'll give you 15 seconds for the
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last word. most surprising thing you came across in your reporting? >> i think the most surprising thing i came across is how few laws actually do bind the president when it comes to ethics. when he says that he is above conflict of interest laws he is which is why this case is important because it is one of the few checks that there is on the president when it comes to balancing his public and private business. >> we'd like to have you both back. this is not going away. gentlemen, thank you both. andrew and richard tonight. coming up, it was described by a "new york times" reporters as one of the most exquisitely awkward public events he had ever seen. it happened today in the cabinet room. that's next on "the 11th hour."
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last thing before we go here tonight, about that cabinet meeting today where each cabinet member praised the president in turn around the table, before we play more of the highlights, this headline and lead paragraph from the "associated press." who loves him more, trump's cabinet members gush at meeting. who loves him more, trump's date line washington, great president or greatest? that appeared to be the question at president donald trump's first full meeting of his cabinet on monday as top aides took turns piling praises on the boss. here now more from those members of the cabinet. >> greatest privilege of my life is to serve as vice president to a president who is keeping his word to the american people.
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>> my privilege to be here. deeply honored and i want to thank you for keeping your commitment to the american workers. >> my hat's off to you for taking that stand and for sending a clear message around the world that america is going to continue to lead in the area of energy. >> what an incredible honor it is to lead the department of health and human services at this pivotal time under your leadership. i can't thank you enough for the privilege you've given me and the leadership you've shown. >> it's an honor to be steward of our public lands. >> last week was a great week, it was infrastructure week. thank you so much for coming over to the department of transportation. hundreds and hundreds of people were just so thrilled to hang out, watching the whole ceremony. >> on behalf of the entire senior staff around you, mr. president, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda and the american people. >> i want to congratulate you on the men and women you placed around this table. the holistic theme of working for america is making results in
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each and every area. >> so that happened and then to prove chuck schumer has a sense of humor, the top democrat in the senate responded to the meeting writing in a tweet, "great meeting today with the best staff in the history of the world alongside a video of his own he put out." >> i want to thank everybody for coming. i just thought we would go around the room. lucy, how did we do on the sunday show yesterday? >> your tone was perfect. you were right on message. >> michelle, how did my hair look coming out of the gym this morning? >> you have great hair. nobody has better hair. >> before we go any further, i just want to say thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda. >> that's great. [ laughter ] >> and on that note, that is our broadcast for a monday night. thank you for being here with us as we start yet another new week. we're back on the air tomorrow, 2:00 eastern time for our live coverage of attorney general jeff sessions testifying in front of the senate intelligence committee.
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we'll look for you then. for now, good night for all of us here in new york. tonight -- >> we need to make america great again. >> my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving which was why he was linger. >> the massive question facing the attorney general as sessions prepares to testify before a surprise hearing less than this hours from now. as the special counsel hires more fire power. >> i think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. >> the growing group of republicans trying to get robert mueller fired, comey was not allowed, what we learned when he broke his silence. >> when i've been reading the stories about how he's been contacting jim comey over time, like deja vu. >> mitch mcconnell and republicans are planning to spring on american sight unseen, alin

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