tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC June 13, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
one who got the u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york fired, despite the fact that the president and attorney general had told preet that he can stay in his job. they're sourcing this to four people. they're familiar with these conversations. they say that kasowitz that he told him, that this guy is going to get you with the implication of being that trump should then fire him so he cannot come get him. if that is why he was fired, that raises it's whole whole new set of questions about behavior, improper or otherwise of this administration for people who might be in a position to investigate this president and that's the president's lawyer stepping in that without even being asked. his lawyer is going to need a lawyer soon. but that does it for us tonight. we'll see you again tonight. good evening, lawrence hey.
can we fire the prosecutor. >> what happens if we do file the prf. that's the thing they've got to be worried about. >> now after 24 hours the question of firing the special prosecutor maybe has been settled by sarah. she said on air force one while the president has the right to, he has no intention to do so, problem is, the president doesn't have the right to, so i'm not sure where we are on this. >> you were right about this, on twitter within the last 24 hours people need to stop saying they can't imagine that trump would. at this point, if you can not imagine something this president would do, you have in a coma since he was sworn in.
>> most of that is a left over verbal tick when we had presidents where you could imagine what they would not do. and we get people saying if that happens, we're in way worse shape than i thought. if that happens, yeah, all those things keep happening. we need to have more descriptive terms for what happened when we get beyond what is previously imaginable. that's the world that we're in now. >> here is one, before you go. here is one the kmen tatecommen. they seem to have grown out of
that particular observation. >> it will come back, don't worry. don't worry. >> thank you, rachel. >> as rachel said, the senator will join us tonight. we'll get reaction exclusively here on the last word to what jeff sessions said about the senator in that senate intelligence committee hearing today. and in the matter of jeff sessions versus james comey, only one of them can be telling the truth. >> did you ever discuss director comey's fbi handling of the russia investigation with the president or anyone else. >> i'm not able to comment on that. >> he dodged everything about the interaction. >> has the president invoked executive privilege. >> he has not. >> there is no legal basis for this stonewall. >> i am not stonewalled. >> you're not answering questions. you're impeding this investigation. >> it suggests that i participated in nichol lugs is
appa -- any collusion is deniable. >> i just don't remember it. >> he has a serious amnesia problem. >> if i met with the ambassador. >> do you like james bond movies. >> the fact that he continues to not be able to testify in these conversations, but the president suggest that there's something that he could be hiding. >> i'm not able to be rushed this fast. it makes me nervous. today general jeff sessions refuse to answer senator questions about his conversation about the president's decision to fire fbi director james comey. america's chief law enforcement official could site no legal basis whatsoever for his refusal
to answer those questions. and that was best demonstrated by the best prosecutor on the intelligence committee, former san francisco district attorney and former california attorney general and the most junior member of the senate intelligence committee, senator harris. >> you referred to a long-standing doj policy. can you tell us what policy it is you're talking about. >> well, i think most cabinet people as the witnesses you had before you earlier, those individua individuals. >> a policy that goes beyond just the attorney general. >> did you ask that it be shown to you. >> the policy is based on the
principle -- >> i'm not asking about the principle. >> i'm not able to answer the question. you will rely on that policy. did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for your refusing to answer the majority of the questions that have been answ answered. >> and so with last week's senate intelligence committee hearing in which administrative refuse to answer questions, once again, established, there was absolutely no legal basis for those refusals and she established beyond a reasonable doubt that senator mccain just can't stand listening to her ask questions. he's not a regular member, by tradition, the chairman of the senate armed services committee is offered basically an honorary membership on the senate
intelligence committee. so he can sit in on hearings they regard the chairman of the armed services committee as their guest in effect. john mccain tries to intimidate into banging his gavel when he's pursuing a point with witnesses. it could be john mccain is 80 years old. but there were plenty of fast talking senators at that hearing today who are trying to squeeze as much as they possibly could in to their time limited questions and john mccain had no problem at all with any of those men who were doing that. what is it about pamela harris that bothers john mccain so much. what could get possibly be, there they are, there's the two of them, what could it be.
why is she the only member of that committee of john mccain thinks he has to teach lessons about how to ask questions. she is infinitely better at asking questions than john mccain ever has been. is he jealous of her skill at cross-examining witnesses. is it something personal. what? what could it possibly be. maybe she just makes john mccain nervous. she made plenty of criminal defendants nervous when she was district attorney in san francisco and when she was attorney general in california. and in the senate she seems to make older men from southern states very nervous. >> did you have any communications with russian officials for any reason during the campaign that have not been disclosed in public or to this committee. >> i don't recall it. but i have to tell you, i cannot
testify to what was said, as we were standing at the rep convention before the podium where i spoke. >> my question is -- >> i don't have a memory of that -- >> as it relates to your knowledge. did you have any communication with any russian businessmen or any russian nationals. >> i don't believe i had any conversation with the russian businessmen or russian nationals. >> are you aware of the communications. >> a lot of people were at the convention. it's conceivable -- >> no, sir -- >> you let me qualify it. if i don't qualify it, you'll accuse me of lying. i need to be correct as best i can. >> one on one communication with the director of the fbi. >> he did not mention to me that
he he just said he was uncomfortable, i believe, with it. >> jeff sessions also confirmed, as you just heard, james comey's testimony, that james comey did not tell the attorney general what the president said to him when the president kicked everyone out of the oval office so he could tell james comey that he hoped the fbi director would let michael flynn's investigation go, just let him go. jeff sessions also corroborated james comey's testimony that the next day, after the president said that to james comey, he complained to the attorney general that the president's one on one communications with the fbi director were inappropriate and jeff sessions agreed that those communications were inappropriate. but jeff sessions appeared to disagree with james comey on one major point and that is -- that was the reason that jeff sessions recused himself from the fbi investigation. today jeff sessions testified
that it was a simple decision made just by following the rules of the justice department. >> this is the reason i recused myself, i felt i was required to under the rules of the department of justice and as a leader of the department justice, i should comply with the rules, obviously. >> as simple as that. here is what james comey said under oath about jeff sessions recusal. >> our judgment, as i recall, that he was close to and inevitably 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. >> according to james comey, it wasn't a by the book recusal. we were also aware of facts that i can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a russia-related investigation problematic. james comey just said that he had classified information about jeff sessions' recusal. and almost immediately after giving that public testimony last week, james comey did give testimony in a closed setting to those same senators who probably did ask him about that classified information that he had, but it was part of what forced jeff sessions to recuse himself. someone didn't tell the truth and senate intelligence committee about jeff sessions recusal. james comey or jeff sessions. it is now the special prosecutor's job to find out which one of them was telling the truth and if one of them was committing purgy.
joining us now, nick acreman prosecutor, he's partner in the law firm. he's also with us. he's former chief of staff. and former senior aid to president obama. he is also a former chief counsel of the senate judiciary committee and was chief of staff to attorney general. >> two weeks in a row, twice now that these men on the committee have tried to silence senator harris. it's troubling. it's disturbing to watch. she's one of the only women on
this committee and, you know what lawrence, at the end of the day it tells you exactly what you need to know about today's gop. >> let's go to the issue of the day with the senators, do democrat senate, any way that's the refusal to answer these question that senator harris. others were getting a legal basis for it. the attorney general said that he was -- he was not using executive privilege, but he was trying to preserve any future use of executive privilege that he might want to use on questions that were being asked
today. i will like him to take out the constituti constitution show me i just don't want to answer that it will not hold up. >> that's why senator harris was saying, where is this policy written and as soon as she did that as any good lawyer, you could see the witness, suddenly, basically didn't know what he was talking about. >> if you take one example of one conversation he refused to answer, which is when the president asked everybody to leave, except for james comey, he refused to answer as to what
it was that the president said. i mean, there are only two ways that he right to refuse to answer. one is executive privilege. the other is attorney-client privilege, both of those are designed to encourage the free flow of conversation back and forth. the idea that president trump said everybody get out of here, i want to speak to this guy, so i can tell him to drop the investigation, the idea that that has anything to do with a legitimate privilege is absolutely absurd. i mean, that was absolutely nothing more than old fashion stonewalling. i mean, that is what he was doing. i don't recall. i'm not going to answer. and then the questions he does answer, he gives contradictory, i thought senator reed did a great job in bringing out the contradiction in the firing of comey. i mean, not the firing. you know, the firing of comey and the basis of that pretext with the hillary clinton e-mail
situation. i mean, he brought up very clearly that back during the campaign, jeff sessions was gunho, yeah, that's right, say everything you need to say to the public and sessions excuse for all of that's though, he was confused. he couldn't understand the question. well if you read that question, it is a very simple straightforward question. >> we're going to get to that in the next segment with senator. a lot of this stuff turns on executive privilege and a lot of that can be things that voters out there don't, you know, want to figure out one way or the other. but that scene that jeff
sessions was a part of where the president says to everyone get out of the room, including the fbi director's boss, jeff sessions, wants him out of the room because he wants to say something to the fbi director that the attorney general shouldn't even here, that is a moment that anyone out there can understand and jeff sessions did not say anything helpful to the president about that moment today. >> no, that's exactly right, lawrence, first of all, jeff sessions today was not even a credible witness. he lied to congress under oath about his meetings with russia and so that's number one. number two, as you're mentioning in this panel, is that he didn't even really recuse himself when it came to firing of comey. he was incredibly involved in the whole process. and answering the basic questions today, he could not even do, so what we saw today was really sessions was performing for an audience of one. he was behaving more like a
personal lawyer. >> let me go to -- by the way, it's interesting where they agree, where sessions supports and corroborates comey, but on this recusal issue, comey made much more of it than jeff sessions did. comey indicated, apparently, that there was classified information that he was possession of that informed the need for jeff sessions recusal and jeff sessions explained it had nothing more, according to the book, it says if you're involved in somebody's campaign and they're being investigated, you've got to recuse it was just as simple as that. >> to point it out. director comey last week testified under oath that there were very specific things, some that had been reported, some he could not talk about in public that he thought made it inevitable that the attorney general would recuse himself and can't believe one of those specific classified things was
he worked on the trump campaign that was not -- it was not that specific and not that classified. clearly there's a big difference between what sessions said today of the intelligence committee and what comey said last week and, you know, it's a number of outrageous things today. sessions also said he had not yet been briefed. i want the russians to under mine our electoral system that he hasn't really followed that, he has not paid attention to that. he's the person who is suppose to oversee our chief domestic counter intelligence system. he's a person that would bring a case that will stop the russians. the fact that he's blasae about the russians, that was very troubling today, lawrence. >> nick acre man and karim here, thank you all for joining us. we have breaking news, report indicating that president trump did, indeed, think about firing the special prosecutor. we reported here last night that
it was mass hystericahysterical. the white house staff pushed back on the desire and that is why the special prosecutor has not been fired, at least, not yet. we'll have more on that coming up. also our exclusive interview with senator al franklin who will respond to what jeff sessions said about today in jeff sessions' senate testimony. . come close, come close. [ moans ] when your pain reliever stops working, your whole day stops. awww. try this. for minor arthritis pain, only aleve can stop pain for up to 12 straight hours with just one pill. thank you. [ upbeat music playing ] you can't quit, neither should your pain reliever. stay all day strong with 12 hour aleve. check this sunday's paper for extra savings on products from aleve. we've done well in life, with help from our advisor, we made it through many market swings.
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answer to senator al franken's question during his confirmation hearing. >> if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i had been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and i didn't -- have not communications with the russians. >> i did not have communication
with the russians. that part of jeff sessions' answer turned out to be untrue. he was later reveal today have had multiple communications with the russians. >> you played a key role in where jeff sessions stands now and why he's of such interest to the senate. let's listen to what attorney general sessions said about you in the hearing today. >> senator franken asked me a rambling question after some six hours of testimony that included dramatic new allegations that the united states intelligence community, the u.s. intelligence community had advised president elect trump "that there was a continuing exchange of
information during the campaign between trump's surrogates and s intermediary for the trump surrogate". >> i don't think it was rambling. it was a pretty direct question as if those allegations are true, what would you do, meaning, would you recuse yourself and then he didn't answer that question. he answered his own question. did i meet with any russians, he said, no, he had not. and that was not true and then he didn't correct it until the washington post, seven weeks later came out saying he had met with the russian ambassador twi twice. then he had a press conference and at the press conference where he recused himself, finally, he did say that, you
know, if -- i should have probably slowed down and said that i had met with ambassador twice. so that means that at that time, he has spoken with them twice. now why this story has changed. he said he didn't. he is the head of the justice department. he had justice over the judiciary committee and i would like to be able to question him as part of my oversight responsibility. >> senator elizabeth warren has tweeted today that because attorney general sessions refused to answer key questions about his discussions related to the comey firing that she --
conclusion in her series of tweets was, as our top law enforcement officer, the ag must be truthful and uphold the law. sessions cannot continue to serve. he should resign. do you agree with senator warren on that? >> well, i'll certainly i think he should testify before the judiciary committee, first. i'm not sure. i guess he didn't claim executive privilege when he refused to respond to questions about his conversations. >> so i would like to get him before the judiciary committee
so we can ask him questions. >> let's listen to what he said today about his participation in the comey firing even though he had recused himself from the russia investigation. >> i do not believe that it is a sound position to say that if you're recused for a single case involving anyone of the great agencies like dea or u.s. marshals or atf that are part of the department of justice, you can't make a decision about the leadership in that agency. >> senator franken, your reaction to that, explanation. >> the president said that the reason that comey was fired was because of the russian investigation and he participated in that firing. so that was in violation of his recusal and that wasn't about some other investigation and it
you had it. today his explanation for his answer, which was, obviously, incomplete at the time was that he was responding to this breaking news story that you were presenting to him and within the context of all of that new information that he was hearing that he had never heard before, he felt like his response was to the elements of the breaking news story you were talking about and he was not concentrating in that response on his own record of interaction with russian officials. i don't expect you to know about it. but if it is true that members of the campaign met with the
russians and communicated with the russians during the campaign, what would you do, meaning, would you recuse yourself. and he answered, i, myself, did not meet with the russians and, of course, he did. and then he could have any time, during the seven weeks, he could have said, oh, i forgot to say that, but he didn't until washington post printed it and he said in his press conference, oh, i probably, you know, if i had just slowed down, i should have mentioned that i met with ambassador twice. and since then his story has changed, that he had not remembered the that he met with him until he was informed by the
post. >> to go back to senator warren's judgment, based on his totality of testimony over this year and particularly this ye today, that he should resign. is the reason why you don't share that judgment at this point. >> i would not come to that judgment until he had a chance to explain himself in front of the judiciary committee and i would think that he would be happy, since he should be happy to do that. >> if he refuses to do that, senator, to your committee. >> i think that becomes a problem and i would ask chairman and ranking member to compel him to. >> senator -- >> he is the attorney general. >> thank you very much for joining us tonight, really apleesh yat it. >> thank you, lawrence, it is lawrence, right? >> senator franken is the arthur
of the new book giant of the senate. i wonder who that book is talking about, giant of the senate. thank you, senator, very much. >> that's what we thought. thank you senator. (burke) at farmers, we've seen almost everything, so we know how to cover almost anything. even a coupe soup. [woman] so beautiful. [man] beautiful just like you. [woman] oh, why thank you. [burke] and we covered it, november sixth, two-thousand-nine. talk to farmers. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
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didn't state anything from that meeting that caused him to have such mistrust. >> i'm not able to speculate on that. >> yeah, it's such a mystery. >> here is why every reasonable person in the world would know by january 2017 that when meeting donald trump you are meeting a liar. >> i have people that actually had been studying and they did not believe what they're finding. >> you have people now down there searching in hawaii. >> they cannot believe what they're finding. >> i watched when the world trade center came tumbling down and i watched in jersey city new jersey where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. >> how to keep it safe when the
world trade center -- the world trade -- excuse me. i lost hundreds of friends. >> all i did is point out the fact that on the cover of the national inquirer there's a picture of him and crazy lee harvey ozwald having breakfast. ted never denied that it was his father. >> joining us now, john, national affairs and analyst and msnbc, republican strategist and political analyst. here is a guy who lied about having lost hundreds of friends on 9/11. he lost none. he went to zero 9/11 funerals, james comey knew that before he met him. he knew he was meeting someone who would lie about anything. >> james comey was a very savvy washington political operator and good judge of character as prosecutors tend to be. i think it's clear from the moment that donald trump won election in november, that comey
recognized that he knew he had been investigating collusion between the russians and the trump campaign since july. and i think he recognized from a very early phase that there was going to be -- serious jeopardy for his job and he recognized the person that he was dealing with and some of the character issues that you have so demonstrated and talked about just now and last several years and i think he came loaded for bear. >> and steve, today in the senate intelligence committee hearing. it wasn't so much -- the partisan divide is interesting to watch. i'm not sure what they really disagree on. they just talk about different things. when a republican was talking, they're talking about something different than what the democrats are talking about. >> you know, i do -- look, i think lawrence, as we watch this investigation online over time, we will find out exactly what happened. and i think that republicans
that try to plo politicalize this. that come out of this white house on a daily basis, the vice president. from the white house spokes people. i think there will be a high price to pay and remember, though much of the base is intact, there's significant downward pressure on donald trump's numbers which are now in the mid 30s. we have a georgia six special election coming up. that seat flips to the democrat, you'll see widespread political panic in washington, d.c. >> talk about that for a moment and how there are always these road markers that are outside of the hearing environment and they're outside of the white house press conference environment. and john's campaign in georgia is one of those things. how much does it mean if --
look, if the republicans win the seat, it means nothing, nothing changes. it it was what was suppose to happen. if the democrat wins that georgia seat, what does that do to people's posture in these investigative committees. >> i think it certainly, as steve just suggested. there's a very fine grain calculation going on in every republican congressional district, among every sitting republican in the house of representative and every rep senator. looking at numbers and saying, trump was at 37 let's say right now. we think the real trump base is probably 25, 26, 27. that's a ten point -- there's ten points more for him to fall. if you see osoff win, which is the first real straight up genuine, not a kind of rushed race, not a race where democrats have no chance, this race has got fully funded. it's going to be the most expensive house race in anybody's memory. if he wins this race and donald
trump's trajectory continues in the direction. they're not going to see widespread panic. but cal cue liagss that's being done. what's the tipping point. is it 32. is it 31 where it becomes suddenly it goes from too expensive to leave him and when you hit that tipping point. it's going to flip really quick and the whole context for everything we're seeing is going to change. >> steve i want to get your reaction to the breaking news tonight documenting that the president has, indeed, been thinking about firing special prosecutor robert mueller. and for now, at least, for now, at least. the white house staff has talked him out of it. >> well, it would precipitate enormous governing crisis in the country, return to 2018 elections into a referendum around the issue of covering up the russia investigation that the american people, i believe, want to get to the bottom of in
terms of understanding what happened during the elections. it would put every republican on the spot. it would rupture the republican party. you would have republicans to think that it is a grotesque abuse of power, that it's an over reach, to be compelled to finally speak out and come forward. versus those that would act as the highest calling that would be donald trump apologyist and support their oats to that calling. it will be enormous political event. it will kill the entirety of his domestic agenda. it's what we would talk about every hour of every day going forward, absent in international crisis that his recklessness could precipitate, of course, on any given day also. >> steve schmidt. we'll take a break here. thank you very much for joining us tonight. coming up, we'll have more on this possible firing of the special prosecutor. and what the man who has authority over that decision said today about the firing of
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statement just like you are. >> that's the man who created it. christopher, a confidant of president trump who dominated the news cycle with this comment on pbs. >> i think he's considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel. i think he's weighing that option. >> and as of 10:49:06 tonight robert mueller has not yet been fired. the white house was reportedly shocked at the president's firing of james comey. so this time the public reaction to it and this time the president decided to run the idea up the flag pole, the idea of firing the special prosecutor and so christopher did that for them last night. robert mueller apparently still has the full support, the one person who could actually fire him and that is not the president of the united states, that is deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. >> if president trump ordered
you to fire the special counsel, what would you do? >> senator, i'm not going to follow any orders unless i believe those are awful and appropriate special counsel mueller may be fired only for good cause. and i am required to put that cause in writing. and so that's what i would do. if there were a good cause, i would consider it. if there were not good cause it wouldn't matter to mae what anybody says. >> tonight on air force one white house spokesperson sarah huckabee sanders said this when asked about the president firing the special prosecutor robert mueller. while the president has the right to, he has no intention to do so. as i said earlier, the president does not have the legal right to fire the special prosecutor. the law allows only the attorney general to do that. when the attorney general has recused him then it would be the deputy attorney general. it is the deputy attorney general who chose robert mueller. that's the only person who can fire him. the president cannot.
moments ago the "new york times" reported that president trump has been thinking about firing robert mueller. quote, behind the scenes, the president soon began entertaining the idea of firing mr. muellerings even as his staff tried to discourage him from something they believed would turn a bad situation into a catastrophe according to several people with direct knowledge of mr. trump's interactions. for now, the staff has prevailed. so is robert mueller's job safe? that's the question. next. oh, like what? ♪ you're gonna have dizziness, nausea, and sweaty eyelids. ♪ ♪ and in certain cases chronic flatulence. ♪ no ♪ sooooo gassy girl. so gassy. if you're boyz ii men, you make anything sound good. it's what you do. if you want to save 15% percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do. next! ♪ next!
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i have a lot of confidence in bob mueller. i think it was a good choice. >> john hilemon, mitch mcconnell today, right in the middle of the will mueller be fired by the president today saying in effect don't do night every is going to say that to him. the most important piece of the middle east news today was the piece you focus on, rod
rosenstein saying i'm not going to fire this guy. this is the guy rosenstein chose. in order to do this, trump is going to have to fire rosenstein, and then he will have to install someone who will fire mueller. it's not going toss just a saturday night mass car. it is going to be a long weekend massacre that has to take place. steve schmidt is right, if this happens it's chaos and bloodshed of the political variety all offer washington. i think there is a chance it will happen. >> one of the most amazing details from the leakiest white house in history is that the president actually thinks as the times puts it the possibility of being fired will focus the veteran prosecutor on delivering what the president dlirs most, a blanket public exoneration. >> yes. this is again another sign of -- we have made a lot of comments about the fact that people talked this -- made an astute observation, when trump met someone unlike he ever dealt
with before. bob mueller is comey times ten in terms of recollect attitude, in terms of respect for institutions, in terms of the absence of partisan polarity and all the kind of lunacy that pervades everything in the trump era. trump has no idea what he is dealing with here when he looks at bob mueller. if he thinks by being ambiguous and issuing threats through cutouts is going to make mueller focus and vindicate him fully, man. >> that's a fantastic misread of the situation. >> fantastical. >> john, thank you for joining us tonight. appreciate it sir. tonight's last word is next. for 70 years. earn the trust of 32 nfl teams. be there for america's toughest and help, when help is needed america's #1 isn't a status earned overnight. it's earned in every wash, and re-earned every day.
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>> do you know if the president records conversations in the oval office or anywhere in the white house? >> i do not. >> let me ask you this, if in fact any president was to record conversations in their official duties in the white house or the like would there be an obligation to preserve those records? >> i don't know senator rubio, probably so. >> the attorney general doesn't know. the attorney general apparently slept through watergate. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight, a defiant jeff sessions denies clueding with russia while democrats accuse him of impeding the investigation. plus, can the attorney general claim privilege on conversations with donald trump? if the president hasn't an voekted it? a former watergate prosecutor is with us to take that on. and remember this rose garden victory lap over health care a few weeks back, t