tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC June 13, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PDT
committee. 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, all in starts right now.
>> and what now may be an investigation to criminal obstruction of justice, attorney general, jeff sessions, the nations top law enforcement officer will testify less than 24 hours from now before an open session, senate intelligence committee. sessions appearance tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. comes just five days after fired fbi director james comey sat before the same committee and accuse the president of the united states of lying and of attempting to possibly the interfere in the russia investigation. according to the president and his legal team, comey was lying under oath.
initially, it appeared sessions was trying to maneuver his way out of testifying in public. over the weekend, he cancelled planned appearances before the house and senate appropriation committees which of course allocate the justice department budget citing expected sessions, democratic senator, appropriations vice chair responded on twitter. my message to attorney general sessions, appropriations and jew dash area have oversight of doj. you need to testify before both and public, you can't run forever. sessions offered to testify instead before the senate intelligence committee, but there were reports it would be in a closed session, finally, after calls from both sides of the aisle, the justice department said today that sessions had requested to testify in public, now the attorney general no direct oversight of the russian probe he recused himself in early march. it was after it was revealed he met twice during the campaign with the russian envoy to u.s.
and encounters he failed to disclose while under oath at his own confirmation hearing. >> senator, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and i didn't not have to communications with the russians. >> in retrospect i should have slowed down and said i did meet one russian official a couple of times. >> he raised new questions about sessions' role when he explained why he had declined to discuss his own concerns about the president where the attorney general. >> our judgment, as i recall, he was close and going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. we also were aware of facts that i can't discuss in an open setting, that would make his continued engagement in a russia related investigation problematic. >> later, in a closed-door session, comey reportedly told the senate intelligence committee about a possible third meeting last year between sessions and the russian ambassador, which may have taken place at washington's may flower hotel on the sidelines of foreign policy speech by then candidate trump.
that was spokesperson for sessions denies that meeting took place, but you can bet senators will ask the attorney general himself about it tomorrow. justice -- just as they're sure to ask him about his role in comey's dismissal last month which may have violated the terms of his own recusal. they want to know what the administration intentions are regarding robert mueller, that's the special counsel appointed to take over the russian investigation, some of the president's allies on the right have already begun to try and discredit mueller while three trump surrogates are on the record floating responsibility that trump fire the special counsel. newt gingrich made the case for doing so in a video post to facebook, one of the president's attorneys just refused to rule it out in an interview
yesterday, and tonight, trump confident told pdf the president is actively considering getting rid of mueller. >> i think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. >> sessions volunteered. it's not sure how much he'll be willing to say. according to reporter for abc news sessions is not expected to answer senate questions about talks he had before comey's firing, citing executive privilege. plan to invoke executive privilege, the white house press secretary left the door open.
>> it depends on the scope of the questis and it had been heightened to get into iat this point. >> joined now, democrat from california, member of the house intelligence committee, let me start with you, congressman, on the news just in the last hour, the president's friend, confident christopher saying that the president is considering firing special counsel robert mueller, what do you make of that. >> these legitimate questions, chris, are not going away. if he were to fire mueller, which he can't do, he would have to order the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein to do that. if he were to do that, congress has the ability and i would really move for congress to appoint, again, an independent prosecutor. these questions are not going
away, no matter how much the president wants him to do it. if the president is sincere and claiming that he did nothing wrong, he should not further obstruct our efforts and the fbi and the department of justice's efforts to get to the bottom of what happened. >> just to follow up on that, your colleague, the ranking member on that committee, adam shift, tweeted this, if president fired bob mueller, congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint bob mueller, don't waste our time. of course, that's true from a sort of constitutional separation of powers perspective. the question i think everyone says is, would republicans go along with that. are you confident that enough republicans in the house and the senate who would be so agast by something like firing mueller they would join you. >> courageous congress that cares about our congress would do that and i think that's what the ranking member was alluding to. >> is that descriptive or aspirational. >> it's aspirational. too few people have come forward to support the bill that elijah cumming and i wrote. we're wondering what are the
inflexion points. he fired james comey if he were to move to get rid of bob mueller, wouldn't that be enough, i would certainly hope so. >> let me ask about the attorney general jeff sessions and before i get to what you would like to hear from him tomorrow, i just want to ask you how unusual or anomalous it was this strange back and forth the heads of the federal department to talk about why they had the budget needs they have. is it strange, unusual or not that strange and unusual for the attorney general to counsel. >> don't know what to make of that, but i do agree that the most important questions that he should face right now are, what was his role in the campaign with russia. also, what was his role in the firing of james comey and what has his role been in the hiring of the new fbi director. i think that -- those predominant any other questions that are out there right now. he seems to be -- to use nba finals tonight. a player that's been thrown out of the game still calling the plays from the sideline. >> the final question that's an interesting one. it's one that we do well to pay careful attention to, fbi director. we don't have one, i should know, which seems important. but that aside, jeff sessions, is it your sense he's been consulting with the president on
that hiring and what do you think about him invoking the executive privilege not to discuss any conversations he has with the president. >> we don't know whether he's insulting the president. that would be an important question tomorrow. what we do know about the executive privilege, it's a privilege. it's not a right. i believe that the president and the conduct he's demonstrated in the oval office by james comey's testimony has lost the right to assert that privilege. he's abused his power by seeking to have -- >> let me be clear here. you're making a legal argument that as found by the supreme court during water gate that an exceptional executive privilege
is to cover up evidence of wrong doing. you think that pertains in this case. >> the public's right to know and the ability to -- thank you for your time. >> joining me now and former u.s. attorney and assistant special watergate -- nick, let me start with you. >> sure. >> the mueller thing, let's start with that. the president, i guess, you know, the president can fire the peshl counsel. it is a unitary executive in some sense. >> he can't fire him directly. he has to first fire rosenstein who would then fire him. >> if he refused, then it's going to be watergate all over again with having to reach down to the solicitor general to do it. presumably the attorney general who recused wouldn't be able to do it.
>> who knows with this attorney general, he's apt to do anything. >> just to be clear, when you say watergate, was the president of the united states and going to a series of justice department officials instructing them to do so then resigning until he found someone who would do it. >> exactly. exactly. that's likely what would happen here. it's hard to believe that rod rosenstein who is the same thing that la richardson did who was the attorney general at the time of nixon made a pledge to the congress that he would appoint somebody and richardson felt under the same obligation he could not stay on and fire arch bold cox and felt compelled to leave, as did the house, who was the deputy attorney general. >> is that -- does that track with your thinking? >> it does. i really cannot imagine a scenario where rod rosenstein voluntarily follows a direction to fire the special counsel. he made the decision to appoint the special counsel.
he selected former director mueller to fill it. he knows that director mueller is one of the most respected individuals who can lead this complex investigation under these sensitive circumstances. i can't imagine that he would, in any way, go ahead and take that action. >> you serve in the justice department in the national security division, is it under the bush administration; is that right? >> and at the end during the beginning of the obama administration. >> it's been interesting to watch folks allies, i will say political allies to begin circulate the idea that he's compromised. somewhat i guess at the justice department during the bush administration, mueller was the fbi director and earliest parts of the war on terror. what do you make of that characterization? >> i think it's despicable. bob mueller has been a -- he has been a republican bush administration transition official as either the acting attorney general or the deputy attorney general and then he was
confirmed as fbi director, he has a stellar reputation. he's unquestioned in his integrity. he led the fbi during an incredible transition after the september 11th attacks. i saw mueller on the floor on the days after september 11th. i really just can't believe that there are republican politicians who are out there trying to, in some way, insinuate that he's a partisan actor. >> what, ultimately, gives -- i mean, let's talk about sessions, right? all of this -- i guess what's confusing here is that everyone is sort of obeying what internal department justice guidelines about essential council, right, there's regulations, he was appointed pursuant to regulations. >> those regulations are internal regulations internal department of justice. couldn't the president just over ride them. >> he can't over ride them, he has to have somebody in the department actually do his bidding. all he has to do is keep going down the chain of command until he finds it. >> this is a guy who has lied in his own confirmation hearing in
the context of all of these other people coming down with amnesia. you've got jared kushner. you've got mike flynn. every time they get near the russian ambassador, he's like one of those characters in harry potter, just sucks up all of his memory and leaves him totally non -- it's unbelievable. >> do you think -- do you think that sessions ultimately can get away with hiding -- or not hiding, refusing to answer questions about any conversation, deliberations, policy discussions with the president of the united states. >> you know, what will be interesting to watch is how he handles himself in comparison to how the director of national intelligence coats and the nsa director rogers' handled
themselves last week. they did an interesting thing that was sort of unusual. they did not claim executive privilege for not answering certain questions. but what they did do is said that there were certain interactions between themselves and the president that they were uncomfortable describing an open session. and what that did, is it blurred the lines between when a senior government official asserts executive privilege versus when they say they need to talk about something in closed session because it's classified. >> and king said, wait a second, what there is -- he said there's essentially no legal recourse for you here. you can assert privilege or not, but you can't just say, i don't feel like talking about it, right? >> yeah. i know exactly what they did. what he tried to do is pin them down as to what the basis was for refusing to testify.
ultimately, if they're put into a grand jury by the special counsel the only thing they can do is take the fifth amendment. they can't take executive privilege. a conversation in further answer -- furtherance act is not privilege. >> that -- all of that then would fall broadly under that, is your case? >> absolutely. he would have the right to question both of those individuals, i think he will put them into the grand jury. there's no doubt in my mind that he will. >> remarkable. thank you very much. >> thank you for having me. >> ahead, senate republicans have a secret health care bill they plan to vote on this month. they're refusing to show anyone or any democrats or the public what is in it.
another officer cable of describes uncomfortable before being fired and that's after this two-minute break. which you are you? be the you who doesn't cover your moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. be the you who shows up in that dress. who hugs a friend. who is done with treatments that don't give you clearer skin. be the you who controls your psoriasis with stelara® just 4 doses a year after 2 starter doses. stelara® may lower your ability to fight infections and may increase your risk of infections and cancer. some serious infections require hospitalization. before treatment, get tested for tuberculosis. before starting stelara® tell your doctor if you think you have an infection or have symptoms such as: fever, sweats, chills, muscle aches or cough. always tell your doctor if you have any signs of infection, have had cancer, if you develop any new skin growths or if anyone in your house needs or has recently received a vaccine. alert your doctor of new or worsening problems, including headaches, seizures, confusion and vision problems these may be signs of a rare, potentially fatal brain condition. some serious allergic reactions can occur. do not take stelara® if you are allergic to stelara® or any of its ingredients.
most people using stelara® saw 75% clearer skin and the majority were rated as cleared or minimal at 12 weeks. be the you who talks to your dermatologist about stelara®. the future isn't silver suits ait's right now.rs, think about it. we can push buttons and make cars appear out of thin air. find love anywhere. he's cute. and buy things from, well, everywhere. how? because our phones have evolved. so isn't it time our networks did too?
introducing america's largest, most reliable 4g lte combined with the most wifi hotspots. it's a new kind of network. xfinity mobile. former fbi director james comey is not the only federal law enforcement officer with possible powers over the president in his campaign who wound up being fired by the president. one other, of course, is pete, he's the former united states attorney in manhattan who sat right behind comey during his senate testimony last week. yesterday for the first time we got his side of the story in regards to his abrupt dismissal in march. like comey, he said that donald trump tried to cultivate a relationship before firing him. during the transition, then president elect invited him to trump tower to ask him to stay on as u.s. attorney from new york southern district. that was followed up by a pair of phone calls. >> when i've been reading the stories about how president had
contacted jim comey over time, it felt like deja vu. he called me to shoot the breeze and wanted to make sure i was okay. similar to what comey testified to with respect to the call when he was getting on the hel helicopter. he was only the president elect. he called me again two days before the inauguration, it's a very weird and peculiar thing for a one on one conversation without the attorney general, without warning, between the president and me. >> he received a third phone call from donald trump in march after the man became president, he reported the call to jeff sessions chief of staff who agreed it was best that he not speak directly with trump. the very next day on an order from the president, sessions, the attorney general, asked for him and other 45 others to resign. he was fired by the trump administration after refusing to do so. >> when he was actually president you refused to take the call, i guess the next day, you're fired. >> the call came in, i got a message, we thought it was
inappropriate and 22 hours i was asked to resign along with 45 other people. till this day i have no idea why i was fired. >> joining me now democrat from rhode island. you served, if i'm not mistaken, you have some familiarity with that role. . and of course, take a listen. >> number of times president obama called me in seven and a half years was zero. the number of times i would have expected to be call by the president of the united states would be zero because there has to be some kind of arm's length relationship. >> did you talk on the phone a lot with president clinton when you were u.s. attorney. >> not once. one of the reasons that that
didn't happen is because a firewall existed between the department of justice and the white house and there were very, very limited possible connections across that firewall. i want to say there are two or three people on the white house side or maybe two or three people on the doj side and everybody else with respect to anything that could bear on criminal prosecution you weren't suppose to have a conversation with. so presidents usually don't waste their time just exchanging pleasant ris with folks. so there's not a whole lot of room to maneuver there. >> there's a theory that's been forth by some of the defenders, essentially this is a man who is stumbling into trance gregss of norms because he doesn't realize any better. i guess, considering that he had this same behavior with two men, both of powers over the possibility of looking into this
campaign james comey and fired both of them. how do you think that -- what does that do for that argument, that he doesn't know what he's doing. >> well, it looks like he's trying to work the rest either by trying to charm them, i guess if you think he's charming, or in the case recently of the leaks that he might be interested in filing mueller trying to, you know, frighten him and suggest that he might be fired, but all of that is exactly the kind of thing that any prosecutor takes a look at and recoils from. this is not a new york real estate deal where you can take somebody out to a fancy dinner and smooth them up or try to bully their lawyer and have that effect the out come. these are professionals and they're going to play by the rule and they certainly no better and allow themselves with to work them. >> given the fact that it was the timing here is fascinating to me. the president had asked him to stay on. he then. >> it's hard to tell, about the other piece, that very same week, just a few days earlier,
attorney general sessions had had a phone call with all of the sitting united states attorneys to that's not something that you do to people that you know you're going to fire in two days. so something happened between that original sessions phone call to the troops and the mass firing and that's something that i think jeff sessions should come before the judiciary committee and answer some questions about. >> are you confident his behavior will change? >> i don't think he's unaware, either. i think he's unaware of other people having a moral compass that tells them they have to do their job that's not part of his life experience. so he knows perfectly well when he's working the refs. he finds it hard to believe
anybody could have a moral come pass. >> what would you do if you were u.s. attorney in that position and you had gotten a third call like he did from the president, would you have taken a similar course of action? >> i would have made very careful contemporaneous notes and i would have referred it upstream to the department of justice to, probably, the deputy attorney general who usually is the gate keeper for the attorney general to say i don't know what's going on, guys, i'm getting weird calls from the president of the united states and from the case, i'll be able to add, oh, by the way, i'm the u.s. attorney who has jurisdiction over meetings and other things that might have happened at trump tower in new york because i'm the southern district of new york, u.s. attorney. >> coming up. why senate republicans are
have zero backing from the democrats, even though they should get in and do something, but we expect to get zero. if we had the greatest bill in the history of the world on health care, we wouldn't get one vote from the democrats. >> there's one thing they were absolutely right, posed to vote on the health care bill, there is not one single democrat who backs the legislation. and the reason for that is because they know literally nothing about it. senator brian shots tweeting friday, 13 republican men are meeting in secret to make health care plan, they're doing it so fast we can't stop them. last week, senator appealed to her republican colleagues directly. >> you couldn't have a more partisan exercise than what you're engaged in right now. we're not even going to have a hearing on a bill that impacts 1/6 of our economy. we're not going to have an
opportunity to offer a single amendment. it is all being done with an eye to try to get it back with 50 votes and the vice president. >> the republicans can send the bill to the congressional budget office for a score, get this, before anyone else even sees it. xios reporting they have no plans to publicly releasing. this is going to be a law, presumably. one gop explaining why they won't release it to the public "we aren't stupid." nor is the man who is one of the transformational figures of our time. i'll explain the mcconnell doctrine after the break. >> a pole just like week found cialis for daily use treats ed and the urinary symptoms of bph. 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, or adempas® for pulmonary hypertension, as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. do not drink alcohol in excess. to avoid long-term injury, get medical help right away
>> a pole just like week found that, get this, that 17% of americans approve of the health care bill that's been passed by the house while a whopping 62% disapprove. republicans and the nate are crafting their version of the bill now, entirely behind closed doors without a single hearing or any input put at all from republicans or democrats. bernie sanders tweeted the words breaking. they just released a schedule hearings mark up and public testimony for the health care bill followed by a blank piece of paper. they're so weery might think of the bill. which raises the question, why do they want to pass such a toxic bill at all, why not just
let it die. and understand that, you have to understand one of the most influential figures of our time. senate majority leader reshaped and political institutions into his supremely vision. he's the architect of the gop strategy of stonewalling the supreme court nominee before he was even nominated for more than nine months. it was an absolutely violation, the sort of thing that you just don't do, but he did it. and crucially, it worked proving what i called the mcconnell doctrine which was this in an error of extreme polarization and weakening institutions you can get away with whatever you're shameless enough to pursue. joining me now, debby of michigan. senator, how long have you been in the senate? >> chris, i was first elected in 2000 and i have to tell you that i have been a member of the finance committee, we held 53 hearings on health reform, i was at every one of them. >> you're saying you have 53 hearings.
>> not counting what the health committee did. the health committee, also in the senate, did hearings all together. >> even though they decided not to support the bill. >> i want to be clear, the legislative process can feel obscure or opaque, just to be clear and i covered those hearings, i was in reporter in washington. i sat through hours of testimony. have you seen anyone try to pass a bill this significance. >> they have a right to know and see this bill. the reality is we know that they're rushing it through the budget office this week. i think mitch mcconnell is trying to get it on the floor as early as next week. he's hoping everybody is going to be talking about russia. i'm so grateful that you're talking about this tonight because we're talking about one fifth of the economy, tens of millions of people losing their health care coverage and everybody is going to see their health care cost go up and the insult is, all of that is going to go to pay for a tax cut for
multimillionaires and billionaires and they're doing this whole thing in secret. >> so the question becomes, and i should note, i want to quickly read a tweet from hally bird who is an excellent young capitol hill reporter asked if their office had seen any text of the mostly drafted health care bill. we're assuming, i should note, i
don't think it went over there, and then to politico and then we'll see it, you know, the way government is suppose to work. i heard from other folks that it had been involved, lobbyist know it. here is my question for you, if mitch mcconnell is willing to, essentially, disregard these norms of procedure, if he's willing to use reconciliation process in fairly unprecedented way, what are senate democrats going to do? will you withdraw consent, will you escalate as well to make sure that this is not rammed through? >> we will do everything in our power, chris, to be able to stop this. >> do you really mean that? >> tom corbyn showed everything in one's power back in the day. he would not allow unanimous consent for anything to happen until he got his way. that means, not grinding the senate to a halt fundamental tally, would you do that? >> well, we are right now
putting in place a strategy and also -- yes, we're going to be moving forward to do everything we can to stop this. we're also engaging the public. i want to remind everybody, they originally said they were going to do this through the house and senate by january 27th. it didn't happen, why, because they were women's marches and health care marches and e-mails and indy visible groups and so on. this is the moment to do that, so we will be doing our part, knowing that we don't have 51 votes. it's going to be up to the republicans to decide whether or not there are three people that will step away and vote on the side of the american people and having health care but we also know what has happened when the public has gotten engaged in the past. i really encourage people to do that. what people want me to be doin figure out how to lower the cost of prescription drugs and make health care better, not see see a secret health care.
>> still ahead, is president trump considering a modern day version of richard nixon saturday night massacre, what we know about what they're considering and what it would mean. next, the extraordinary scene, really extraordinary at president trump's first cabinet meeting today in tonight's thing one, thing two.
take a moment to publicly shower the president with praise. >> mike. >> thank you, mr. president. and just greatest privilege of my life to serve vice president and president who is keeping his word to the american people. >> alex, mr. president, i've had the privilege, i want to thank you for being here your commitment to the american workers. >> i can't thank you enough for the privilege that you've given me and the leadership that you've shown. >> i want to thank you for getting this country moving again and also working again. >> on behalf of the entire senior staff surrounding mr. president. we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing you've given us to serve your agenda and the american people and we're continuing to work very hard every day to accomplish those goals. >> white house reporter glen tweeted this spray where everybody pays tribute to trump is one of the most public events i've ever seen. jonathan noted the approval rating is sky high.
but the best response came from a senate office on capitol hill and that's thing two in 60 seconds. when you're close to the people you love, does psoriasis ever get in the way of a touching moment? if you have moderate to severe psoriasis, you can embrace the chance of completely clear skin with taltz. taltz is proven to give you a chance at completely clear skin. with taltz, up to 90% of patients had a significant improvement of their psoriasis plaques. in fact, 4 out of 10 even achieved completely clear skin. do not use if you are allergic to taltz. before starting you should be checked for tuberculosis. taltz may increase your risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them. tell your doctor if you are being treated for an infection or have symptoms. or if you have received a vaccine or plan to. inflammatory bowel disease can happen with taltz. including worsening of symptoms. serious allergic reactions can occur.
now's your chance at completely clear skin. just ask your doctor about taltz. the heaping of praise on president trump by his cabinet members in front of the cameras and kiss during fashion did not go unnoticed by reporters lawmakers. senate minority meeting, great meeting today along with this video. >> 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 jim this morning? >> before we go any further, i just want to say thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda. [ laughter ]
president trump might fire special counsel robert mueller. >> i think he's considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel. i think he's weighing that option. i think it's pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently. >> now, the white house says the president's meeting with chris was postponed. he doesn't know if he has firsthand knowledge he's considering firing the special counsel. the trial balloon has been released. he side stepped the legal prohibition of the president doing himself by saying that republicans and congress -- gingrich said since he leaked
the contents in order to trigger the appointment of special counsel that somehow the special counsel himself is now tarnished. >> and i think what that brings into question, whether or not the congress should shutdown the independent counsel because it is poisoned fruit. the independent counsel by comey's own testimony yesterday was created because of his manipulation, because of his leak, because of his deliberate intent to force it to happen. 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. >> this is now part of the this maernlds strategy to combat the russian investation and go after mueller. but we know how beginning rich felt about mueller when it was announced. it was very different. that's n
i got a mortgage offer from the bank today. whuuuuuat? 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. pappa's eatin' steak tonight. no. at lendingtree, shop and compare loan offers from top lenders and in just 5 minutes, you could save thousands. lendingtree, when banks compete, you win. i love date night. somebody's ruining it. yeah. well you could leave if you wanted to?
prone jar shatterst livthe competition.pe? olay regenerist hydrates skin better than creams costing over $100, $200, and even $400. fact check this ad in good housekeeping. olay. ageless. former house speaker gingrich says robert mueller who was president bush's fbi director during the earliest days on the war on terror is too much of a clinton loving liberal to the independent, even though this is what he had-to-to say about mueller. quote, robert mueller is superb choice to be special counsel. his reputation is impeccable. media should calm down. joining me is washington bureau chief of the chicago sun tooilz and political analyst heidi perez boll la. at some level, this is sort of the nature of these kind of nights washington but still head snapping to watch the beginnings of the process about which republicans are going to go after robert mueller.
>> absolutely. i do kind of defend newt gingrich a little bit. he did that first tweet without knowing that comey was going to say that he tried to rig the system to make sure a special counsel was appointed by getting a go between to get his memo to self out there. we're on the ground floor of a political and legal territory that we have never been on because no president has proceeded in the way that president trump has. i know i'm saying the obvious, but one quick observation. the unfolding chaos we're seeing is because president trump i think still hasn't absorbed that even the president of the united states has limit to his or maybe one day her power, and that, i think, is a basis for this too. that's why you could float the idea that he could or would fire mueller and not suffer for it.
>> right. let me just say that i don't use the word rigged to describe comey. it's clear he wanted a special counsel. he was essentially trying to facilitate, help along, inspire. he didn't ultimately make the decision, but to lynn's point about the presidential power, which we're kind of grappling with an lltal question about that. the president has constitutional authority to do a lot of things, launch nuclear weapons, preempt i havely pardon everyone. >> i'm not sure comey's intent is relevant here at all. he was being a whistle blower in this case. in this case he's now -- they're moving on to defame mueller when the same people like carl rove were out there saying he had done a superb job.
so it's just not a credible argument when a week later the only thing that's changed in this case is that mueller is starting to staff up. you have to have cause in that case like this, and the only cause that we have is that mueller's showing he's going to conduct a credible investigation by hiring, who? one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the country. that seems to be the thing that's changed, not that comey gave his testimony. the evidence and the memos are what they are, and i'm not sure his intent matters in this case. >> lynn, this is interesting to me. i'm watching conservatives circulating the donation records of people mueller's hiring, career folks who have given money to obama back in 2008 and 2012. and you could see the building of the case that this is
fundamentally a partisan undertaking. >> right. that's why ivanka trump hired a democrat to defend her. i think what you're seeing is a playing to the base where trump can do no wrong and this just helps establish to the base why this probe isn't fair, that the umpire somehow is -- i don't want to use rigging, chris, because i don't want to upset anyone. that mueller isn't a fair umpire. but none of that really matters whether or not there's a blitz to try to muddy up the people that most people have never heard of who are working for mueller. he could hire endless numbers of people. basically endless resources at this time, enlist people he could hire. that's not the point.
the point here is that tomorrow, attorney general sessions is going to testify in an open hearing before the senate intelligence committee. the point is that trump sees this is a massive distraction to try and have the conversation be about mueller rather than about the fundamental question and about what may unfold tomorrow. >> lynn's at some point right about the -- this is aimed at consolidating 35% of people who are bedrock and die hard supporters of the president. in terms of the calculation on capitol hill, as someone who covers the political dynamics in washington, what do you think of this idea if he fires mueller, republicans in congress would move to vote for or initiate a special counsel. that struck me as not likely. >> yeah, i think you may be right about that. just because with so many things, throughout the course of this probing of russia, we've moved on from one to the next
and kind of swept things under the rug. it seems like, for example, in the house when lawmakers had a chance to vote for a special counsel right after comey was fired, they didn't. and so that's just one example of how even though in the face of something that to all of us would seem, oh, my goodness, this is a four alarm fire that congress would act. at the same time though, i don't know how serious to take this because he didn't necessarily get that firsthand from the white house. i do think there would be a big uproar and demonstrations in the street. maybe that would push congress to do something, but it's not a given. >> thank you both. before we go, a quick note, i'll be signing copies of my new book in new york at the shop on nbc studies wednesday at 4:00 p.m.
you can find more information on our facebook page. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. good evening once again from our headquarters here in new york as we start a new week. day 144 of the trump presidency. late in the day it was dominated by an idea, the idea floated by a friend the president that donald trump has considered or is considering firing the