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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  June 24, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT

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washington post today dropped this huge story. it is more of a small book really. about the russian attack on our presidential election last year. and how the obama administration came to recognize that that was happening. what they understood about it. and importantly, how they reacted to it once they realized what it was. in just a moment, we're going to be joined live by one of the reporters who broke that story. and there is a lot to talk to her about. this story today at the washington post, it is like ten front-page worthy scoops all in one big story. and among those, among the scoops "the washington post" got
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for this report is that u.s. intelligence agencies somehow have access or had access to a source of intelligence that was very, very -- very close to vladimir putin. and that is intriguing just on the surface. right, just for the pure spy novel pure lurid thrill of it. we have somebody close to putin or something close to putin. the post, to its credit, makes clear how extraordinary that is beyond just the wow factor. how unexpected it is to learn that. ultimately, how important it is to u.s. interests. the post today notes that putin is, quote, a former kgb officer who takes extreme precautions to guard against surveillance. he rarely communicates by phone or computer. he always runs sensitive tate business from deep within the confines of the kremlin but nevertheless, the u.s. somehow
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got access to intelligence, got access to information that apparently could only have come from very close to him. according post, u.s. intelligence agency sources when it came to attributing author or blame for the russian attack, their sources came from, quote, deep inside of the russian government. deep enough inside of the russian government that what they had in -- what they had intelligence about, what they had a report about, was the direct personal individual involvement of vladimir putin in directing this campaign. i mean, putin is a guy who is so secretive, russians were not allowed to know the names of his children until recently. or in fact, that he definitely had them. when he got divorced in 2013, half of russia was like, he was married? but somehow u.s. intelligence agencies have sourcing inside of the kremlin, about his personal involvement in kremlin covert
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activities. that is a big freaking deal. i have no idea what that intelligence source is but that is a big deal. and it is remarkable, honestly, that the washington post has been able to report that. the nature of the source of the intelligence and the danger of the source of the intelligence must be in, if that source is a human source. that is just palpable, right. how do you think putin reacted to reading this in the washington post today? the sensitivity of the united states having the intelligence source so close to putin, that is apparently what drove a lot of the extreme secrecy within the u.s. government about what the intelligence agencies knew concerning the russian attack, the post had some incredible details on that today including them shutting off all of the monitors, the tv screens around the situation room in the white house when senior officials were
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meeting to discuss these matters. they hadn't shut down the video monitors in the situation room for anything since the bin laden raid. but they did it for this. because they consider it to be so sensitive and so secret. the sensitivity of the source of america's intelligence on this subject, the prospect that that source might conceivably be a human being who is in personal contact with putin, i think that drives home for us as americans just the incredible sensitivity and human dangerousness of some of what our intelligence agencies know. right. sort of makes you get viscerally why it is so important that that kind of information should never fall into the hands of anyone who, say, is beholden to russia for some reason. so, that is one of the things that the washington post unveiled today. such a sensitive thing. it is almost impossible to believe that we get to read about it in the paper. i should tell you though, the sources for the report, according to them, are quote,
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more than three dozen current and former u.s. officials in senior positions in government. so presumably, they've got this nailed down, right. three -- more than three dozen sources. it is a remarkable thing that they've been able to report out today with that many sources presumably they have nailed it. in addition to the incredible scoop about the source of this intelligence being so close to putin, there is also a bunch of other specific information that we never really knew before that tells us a lot more as citizens about what happened to us last year. they describe, for example, the fbi and the state department noticing and getting alarmed about an unusual spike in requests from russia for temporary visas for officials with technical skills, seeking permission to enter the united states for short-term assignments at russian facilities. that is astonishing, right. how -- fbi and the state department are alarmed.
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an unusual spike in request for russians for short-term project skills right before the election, and i want to know how do they notice that. do they haval e algorithms that tell them when anything spooky and spy like comes up. and weren't they like were there three other guys named sergei applying for the visa. how did they know about the tech skills of the russians trying to get into the country for short-term assignments right before the election. so that is an incredible detail. the post also reported ominously that the attack was not entirely remote controlled. and i don't know if this is about the russians with tech skills getting in on short-term visas but the obama administration believed that some of the russian attack last year, some of the people who participated, some way in that attack, were russians who were in the no russia.
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they were russians who were physically located here in the united states when they were helping in the attack. so that obviously previously unreported. i don't understand exactly what that means and how much of a handle the obama administration or the trump administration had on who the russians are or were. again, there is a top in this story from the washington post. i'm very much looking forward to talking with elena nakashima about that in just a moment. it is not just a collection of granular little scoops like what i've been talking about, there is an overarching framework of what the washington post has reported today. and basically the big question around what they frame all of this new reporting and it is a question that i think we all have to admit will loom large in history about this time in our country, which is how did russia get away with this? not just what did russia try to do, but how did they get away with it. especially now that we know that various parts of the u.s.
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government were able to conclude confidently, not only that the attack was underway while it was underway, but they know who was doing it. how did they get away with it? how have they continued to get away with it? i should tell you that nbc news has an exclusive story out just tonight about the trump administration and how they have done nothing, how they have taken little meaningful action since trump has been in office to shore up u.s. defenses against russian hacking, to protect our elections infrastructure in particular, let alone to retaliate in any way against russia for having done what they did in our election last year. now depending on how you feel about the trump campaign and their own special relationship with russia on this issue, the news they are doing nothing from trying to prevent it from happening again in the future and doing nothing to respond, that may or may not be surprising to you. but why did the obama administration not do more than they did once they realized what
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was going on? this big report from the post hints at the u.s. government having a lot of options. if they really did want to go after russia. if they did really want to retaliate and hit russia in response for what te did. specifically, there is new and very provocative news in the washington post piece where they describe what sounds like rather epic american capacity for hitting russia using cyber tactics. and i'm being a little vague about this because the post was vague about this but this is new. it is newly reporting that before he left office president obama approve aid covert measure that, quote, authorized planting cyber weapons inside of russia's infrastructure. the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the united states found itself in an escalating exchange with moscow. oh! that work was started under a covert authorization signed by
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president obama before he left office. in the five months since he left office that, work apparently has continued on the basis of president obama's authorization. now, the post does not say exactly what kind of damage this new capacity the u.s. is developing, what kind of damage it could inflict on russia. or even what the types of russian infrastructure these things might be targeting. but you know, even before this previously undisclosed covert program to develop new ways to hit russia, even before this, the u.s. has previously been clear that whatever the russians can do to us, in terms of cyber attacks or whatever the north koreans could do to us or the chinese or any other state that devotes capacity, the u.s. has been clear in the past that they believe our nsa, our cyber command has more fire power than any other country on earth and whatever any other country could do to us, we could do to them
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and much worse. there is no lack of the confidence that the us has the power to inflict devastating consequences on russia or any other country if we chose to do so by cyber means. why didn't they choose to do something like that when the obama administration recognized what russia was doing with our election? particularly when they realized it wasn't some freelance operation, it wasn't some criminal operation, it was being deployed directly by the russian government on the orders of the russian president. again, we're going to talk with ellen nakashima with the post about this in just a moment. but the way the post lays it out. they give two types of answers to that question. one of them is domestic to the u.s. and it is sort of exasperating to think about a national security matter like this having domestic political constraints about it but that is the way it is. the other one is not domestic, it is a different kind of constraint, that is the keep you up at night kind of thing. but the domestic political
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constraint that the post described was about donald trump making it a touch stone in his campaign that the elections were somehow rigged for hillary clinton when he was saying that the elections were rigged, the whole thing is rigged, he wasn't saying the russians were rigging our oelection, he was saying that the u.s. government, the obama administration or maybe even the clinton campaign, the democrats were somehow rigging the election to favor hillary clinton. and because he was campaigning on that, the political consequence of that in terms of this national security issue is that the obama administration apparently felt con trained in terms of how dramatically they could respond to this attack and how much they could even talk about exactly what they knew the russians were doing. because with at stage -- that stage being set by trump, this is all rigged, they want to interfere to help clinton, with that stage being set in terms of our domestic politics, the obama administration believes that whoever they said about the russian attack on our election would have been called proof --
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proof of what trump has been saying all along, they have made up this story. this is how they're going to rig the election and tale the election for clinton and blame it all on this russia thing. so that is the constraint driven by domestic politics. and i think it is not purely craven. the other thing you have to think about when you are the president of the united states, when you are public servants and intelligence agencies serving the good of the people of the united states, that you don't want to end up in a situation where a significant portion of the country thinks they've got great reason to believe that we didn't just have an election. that it was all rigged. that it was stolen and they should turn to some other means to install their leader. right. if you don't want to mess with that. so they tried not to. and they felt constrained in their response to the russia attack because of that worry. that was the domestic constraint. the other con trant they
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apparently felt is something that is less sort of exasperating about our politics and just more straight ahead scary. according to the post report, one of the reasons -- the other main reason the obama administration, quote, ruled out any pre-election retaliation against moscow is because they feared what putin might do in response about the election. they feared that putin, quote, was prepared to go beyond fake news and e-mail dumps. quote, the fbi had detected suspected russian attempts to penetrate election systems in 21 states. and at least one senior white house official assumed that moscow would try all 50. michael daniel, who was cyber security coordinator at the white house tells "the washington post" that, quote, we turned to other scenarios that the russians might attempt. quoting from the post, as brazen as the russian attacks on the election seemed, obama and his top advisers feared that things could get far worse.
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moscow's meddling to that point was seem at concerning but unlikely to effect the outcome of the election and far more worrisome was the prospect of cyber assault on voting systems before and on election day. worrisome to the obama team was that prospect. so part of the reason they didn't throw everything they had at the russians, which appears to be a considerable amount of stuff they could have thrown, part of the reason they didn't do anything to russia about this before the election was because of how it would play politically here in the united states. this question, an important question of whether americans would have confidence that our election was not being rigged by the outgoing administration in order to install somebody who had been secretary of state in that administration as the next president. there was that domestic concern. but the other part of their reticence to do anything about the election was driven by the fact that they believed that russia could blow up the election if they wanted to.
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that beyond the bots and the problems ganda and stealing the democrats from the documents from the democratic party and beyond all of that, apparently the obama administration believed that whatever russia did with the voter rolls and all of the probes of election systems and all of the other poking around they were told they did in counties and in dozens of states before the election, the obama administration apparently believed that maybe the russians were capable of melting the whole thing down. on election day. so americans couldn't vote or the votes couldn't be counted or the vote could be disappeared or changes in some catastrophic way. learning that that fear is part of what constrained the obama administration's reaction, honestly, that is the way we learned as a country today that the obama administration apparently believed that russia could do that. that russia had that capacity. they could have absolutely blown up our election if they had
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wanted to. and if they had that capacity last year, presumably, that means they still have it. for whatever they want to use it. so there is a lot that the washington post has just broken here. like i said, it is like they took 10 page one-scoops and put them all in one story with that fascinating framing in terms of how the obama administration responded. we'll be speaking with the reporter about that in just a moment. before we get to her, i want to share with you that is a little scoop that we just got tonight. at the start of this week, you might remember new york times ran a story about the cia director mike pompeo and former republican congressman and not every cia director is involved directly in things like the president's daily brief, not every cia director is at the white house every single day. and in this administration, mike pompeo apparently has been and what the times was able to report out at the beginning of the week, when sally yates,
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acting attorney general came to the white house during the second week -- no, the first week of the trump administration in january to give them that dire historically unprecedented warning that mike flynn the national security adviser was lying about his contacted with russian government and compromised by russia and vulnerable to blackmail or coercion by russia, the times was able to report out at the beginning of the week that that warning from sally yates, that wasn't something that the upper echelon of the department of justice concluded and worked on in isolation. what the times reported at the beginning of the week is that the cia -- cia officers were also involved in forming that assessment about mike flynn. and in reviewing the evidence that led to that warning. the cia officers had apparently reviewed the intercepted communications between mike flynn and the russians. they had seen those intercepts directly. even so, despite that direct involvement of his agency,
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despite the cia being in on what was so worrying about mike flynn, mike pompeo apparently never talked to the president about it himself. and even beyond that, mike pompeo kept discussing sensitive intelligence matters with mike flynn in the room at the white house. even after all of the concerns had been raised about mike flynn, including by mike pompeo's own agency. there are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered about why the white house as a whole was still okay with keeping mike flynn in his role as national security adviser for 18 days after they got this dire warning about him and him being compromised by a forepers-- a f power. it is one thing to ask the questions about the white house and the president and he is running and we'll get to the bottom of that at some point. it is another thing to ask the questions about the guy at the head of the cia. the cia is the older of very, very, very sensitive, very
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secret information. like, oh, boy the way, we have an intelligence source right next to vladimir putin way inside of the kremlin. right. the cia holds that information. if they're being cavalier about somebody who has been compromised by a foreign power still getting access to tons of top level intelligence, that is a different level of worry than if it is some november is group of brand-new people in the white house. so the times reported that at the start of the week. right after that report on wednesday, elijah cummings wrote to the white house and wrote to white house chief of staff reince priebus demanding to know how the white house had handled the issue of mike flynn's security clearance. after they've been formally notified by the justice department that flynn was a security risk. we have posted cummings letter tonight at nano blog.com in case you want to see it, detailed and
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gr grabular and detailed times an places and it will be an important reference document if nothing else. if mike flynn and the white house handling him as national security adviser stays at the center of the inquiries into the russian attack. in addition to cummings very pointed questions about flynn and why he was still able to listen in on the most sensitive intelligence our government has, in addition to that, in this letter, cummings an the democrats on the over sight commity, they also raise the question of the security clearance not just for flynn but the one issued to jared kushner. the president's son-in-law. because although mike flynn and jared kushner are different breeds of cat, they do both have multiple high level contacts with russian officials that are yet to be explained that they didn't publicly disclose until they were forced to by press reports and the russian contacts were apparently not included on their applications for their
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security clearances from this white house. and so congressman comings, top democrat, raise this is question of whether or not jared kushner should also be keeping his security clearance. since he is a currently serving official now. given his meetings with russians and given what was apparently an effort to keep those meetings secret and not disclosing them on a security clearance application. that is all interesting stuff, right, the congressman raises interesting points. we'll post that online and could you read it for yourself. it is granular and detailed and he makes a good case. but you know, he's just a democrat. and the over sight committee in the house, like every committee, is controlled by the republicans and honestly the republicans on the over sight committee do not want to investigate russia. and they do nopt -- not want to talk about anybody in the trump administration having secret meetings with the russians or
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the security clearance, they do not want to talk about any of that. so a democrat on the committee writing a letter is -- even if it is a good letter, raising good points, it is just a democrat on a committee writing a letter. and that brings us to our teeny, tiny, little scoop tonight which is this. i'm going to skip right to the signature page at the end. that is the important part here. this is a letter we have obtained tonight as you see, on the right side there, it is signed by a couple of democrats, right side on the bottom is sheldon whitehouse and that is dianne feinstein from california but on the left, those are republicans. lindsey graham, senator from south carolina. republican and chairman of the sub-committee on crime and terrorism and above him chuck grassley, a republican senator from iowa, chair of the judiciary committee and what all four of them, including the chair and the ranking member and the chairs ant the chair and the ranking member, they are signing a bipartisan letter written to
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the acting director of the fbi and to the white house to marsha lee kelly, deputy assistant to the president and director of white house management and office of administration. dear miss kelly, dr. acting direct your mccabe, we are writing to request information related to jared kushner's security clearance. and they lay it all out about kushner not disclosing his meetings with foreign russian officials and hi application for top security clearance not including those meeting. question one, what is the status of his security clearance and what is the nature of his clearance, what level of information has he been cleared to received and what are the dates on what major decisions concerning his security clearance were made. number two, check this one, did president trump or any other official in the white house intervene in or overrule any discussion concerning mr. kushner's background investigation and any determination that he was eligible for a clearance or at any other point in his security clearance process and it goes on
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there from there, question, three, four, five, six, seven eight and sent the letter to jared's lawyer and they want their answer by july 6th. but again, bipartisan leadership of the judiciary committee including republican chairman chuck grassley demanding that the white house hand over information on kushner's security clearance including the question of whether or not president trump or any other official intervened in the official decision to grant it to him and to conduct his back ground investigation. again, we'll post this online tonight as the news continues to unspool this friday evening. ellen nakashima from the washington post joins us next. we everything in it. liberty did what? liberty mutual paid to replace all of our property that was damaged. and we didn't have to touch our savings. yeah, our insurance won't do that. well, there goes my boat.
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it was wednesday this week when homeland security security officials testified that they knew of 21 states that got some election systems targeted by the russian attack last year. at that hearing on wednesday, there was a key moment that made me gulp, but that doesn't get much pickive up. it is real quick. check this out. it is susan collins, watch what she asks her and then watch the response from the fbi guy. >> is there any evidence that the russians haven't planned mal-ware or back doors or other computer techniques to allow them easier access next time to our election systems? >> i'm sorry, senator, i just can't comment on that because of our pending investigation. >> no comment on that. we just can't say no we don't believe so. she's asking, did the russians
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put mal-ware or back doors or anything else in our computer systems, our election systems that will allow them easier access next time? no comment. we are all delighted that whatever the russians were doing messing around in the voting systems in more than 20 tates last year, at least they didn't blow things up on election day as far as we could tell. but could they? could they have last year? were they putting mal-ware in there so they could do it in the future if they want to? that was on wednesday. now today there is some thfrom the washington post, this opus that lays out the concern that if the obama administration retaliated before the election, russia might do something to our election, that is far worse than what they've done already. they were worried about that because they believed the russians could have blown up our election if they wanted to.
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joining us now is ellen nakashima from the washington post one of the reporters who wrote this blockbuster piece today at the post. congratulations on this opus, this real achievement. thanks for being here. >> thank you. >> so one key piece of your reporting and this is a complex piece, is that the obama administration was very worried as to what the russians might do in response if there was a strong american pushback, a strong american response to the attack before the election. is it clear that the obama administration had a clear understanding of the russian's capabilities, about what the russians could do if they really wanted to. >> so, in fact, the white house did undertake a pretty in-depth review of what the vulnerabilities of the electoral system were last summer and they had -- the top voting systems election expert in the country heading up that team. and what they found was because
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there is something like 3000 voting jurisdictions in the country, almost each one with different type of election system or voting system, it would, in fact, be quite difficult for anyone to come in and hack a voting machine and change the results across the country. or even change the results in any large area. it would be because of the heterojennerality of the seems, it would be quite difficult. so with that they turned to other scenarios that they thought might be more plausible such as mucking up -- mucking with the voter registration systems. and as you heard this week, there were efforts to target at least 21 states. they were not successful in actually getting in and compromising one of the systems. one of my sources at the department of homeland security said there was hard evidence of only one state in which a voter
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registration system was co compromised and that was in illinois and the white house was concerned they could till do some -- still do damage by going in and let's say deleting voters' name or flipping two digits in his address so when he came to the polls his voter registration didn't match up and he might be turned away. that sort of thing could cause confusion and ultimately could cause doubts about the integrity of the outcome. >> and presumably, if they could do that on a large scale, again it is hard to do anything industrial scale in our election system because it is so heterogenius but if you could do it on some replicable scale on some meck niced way, that could materially affect things. that was just a hypothetical worry for them. >> and take this as a test run. the russians were probing and probing and we know they will come back and try again and so they could just keep improving their skills and their
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sophistication. >> could i ask you about the very dramatic opening to the piece at the washington post, the description about the intense secrecy around this information that the u.s. government had, the cia treating this as intensely intensely secret. the information that he had last summer about what was going on with the attack and the authorship of it, who could be blamed for it. was that secrecy driven in part or driven entirely because of the source of the intelligence, how they knew. the way that you guys wrote the story today, it makes it seem like there may be very sensitive intelligence sortss close to pute -- sources close to poutin whether it is u.s. and the u.s. was willing to go to extreme lengthths to keep those sources protected. >> this is highly classified information and i don't wan to get into -- i can't go much beyond what we say in the story
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as to the sources. because we don't want to -- we were asked to withhold some of that information to protect the sources and methods of that. but yes, it was very sensitive and very highly classified. and so was restricted. initially in fact to just the president and three senior aides. >> and one last question for you on this, because there is so much new in this reporting day that we haven't seen and so much of it is stuff that it is hard to believe we're getting reporting on, not just that initial sourcing question that i just asked you there, but also the matter of the president signing this covert authority to develop the capacity to hurt russia through cyber technology means, through cyber warfare means, i guess you say, but since you published today, has there been pushback, has there been anger, are the intelligence agencies upset with this much being known, obviously the question about what people talk to reporters about now is a hot
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issue in washington. >> we've had no pushback. heard nothing from any of the intelligence agencies about that. we -- we -- before we ran the story, we check with the agencies, we included their no comment. i think we got no comment from the fbi and nsa, cia, the white house on that. >> and ellen nakashima from the washington post part of the reporting team that did this epic piece of what happened last year and how our government dealt with it. thanks for being with us tonight. >> we have more to come, stay with us. (baby crying) ♪ fly ♪ me to the moon (elegant music) ♪ and let me play
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today republican senator dean heller of nevada became the fifth republican in the senate to come out against the republican bill to kill obamacare. that is important because dean heller is number five to say no. and if only three of them say no, the bill dies. and now after heller, on top of those five who are saying no, two more republican senators, susan collins of maine and rob portman of ohio are also now saying they have grave concerns about the bill. although neither is coming out and saying they are a no. republicans could only lose up to two senators on this thing or it will fail. we're now looking at 5-7 republican senators who are either no or gravely concerned. so as you might imagine in, that environment with the math that tight, the pressure is turning up.
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and that means people are turning up. and in maine today protesters showed up at three of senator susan collins local offices, her home state offices urging her to say no and oppose the bill. on a rainy afternoon in ohio, senator rob portman's constituents laid down on the wet sidewalks on the protests, outside of four of his district offices in ohio and protesters showed up at the airport in washington, d.c. thinking that might be an interesting bottleneck spot to try to catch senators on their way home so they could tell them to vote no on the bill. in pennsylvania, where pat toomey so far said he supports the republican bill. his constituents held 24 hour long vigils and stayed outside of his offices through the night and into the morning. this morning they show up in phoenix, arizona, in the scorching heat, chanting for the
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senator -- to phone him so he could tell them which way he plans to vote. and this is outside of tom cotton's office in arkansas. they posted, we're outside of your office, talk to us about the bill that will take away 300,000's health care. he is silent on whether he supports the bill or not. there is a lost silence. and reviewing and considering and having concerns going on among republican senators but time for that is running out. republican leadership in the senate said they want to vote next week. do they have the votes? do they not? a lot of that will depend on what happens in their home offices. or their home state offices and on their phone lines over the next five days. watch this space. the mercedes-benz summer event is back, with incredible offers on the
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of overactive nerves. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves. woman: for some, lyrica can significantly relieve fibromyalgia pain and improve function, so i feel better. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worsening depression, or unusual changes in mood or behavior. or swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling, or blurry vision. common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain and swelling of hands, legs and feet. don't drink alcohol while taking lyrica. don't drive or use machinery until you know how lyrica affects you. those who have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse lyrica. with less pain, i can be more active. ask your doctor about lyrica. if you live overseas, depending on what kurn you are from, if you want to visit the united states, you need a visa.
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you have to explain why you want to come here before you get permission to come here. and the visas are oddly specific. you could apply for example as a religious worker. you could apply as a temporary agricultural worker. you could apply as a treaty trader. what is a treaty trader. whatever the case, you pick out the type of visa and the consolat looked at your application and decides whether or not to let you in the united states. last year, before our election, the people in the u.s. government whose job it is to look over all of the visa applications, they reported noticed something new. they noticed a big uptick in a certain kind of visa request from a certain country. this is from today's blockbuster story in the washington post. officials at state department and the fbi became alarmed by an unusual spike in requests from russia for temporary visas for officials with technical skills seeking permission to enter the united states for short-term assignments at russian facilities. that surge of requests for that
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super specific visa caught the attention of the fbi who put the kibosh on it. at the fbi's behest, the state department delayed approving the visas until after the election. what is that all about? joaning us now is ned price, a senior analyst at the cia and spokesperson at the national security counsel under president obama. it is nice to see you, thank you for being here. >> good to see you, too. >> one of the things that "the washington post" reports here is that there was this uptick in visas, they also report that the u.s. government believes that some of the russians who participated in the attack were here on u.s. soil when they were doing that work. does that make sense to you in terms of what we understand about the attack, why russians would need to physically be here for what we think of as an attack that happens in the cloud, in the internet. >> well, to my mind, it does rachel. and this detail about an uptick in visas that the post reported, it is a reminder in some ways,
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perhaps in small ways, but in some ways, spies are just like us. in order to travel overseas, they have to apply for visas and do so for official cover. that is the most common usage of cover. that is to say cover ledge ends that intelligence services around the world use. now not always do intelligence officers travel under official cover. sometimes they go under what is called nonofficial cover and the russians are pretty adept at this. you may recall in 2010 the fbi rounded up ten so-called russian illegals, that is to say russians who had illegally assumed american identities and had been living here in some cases for decades, collecting intelligence and in an effort to send it back to moscow. in this case, it sounds like the videos came -- the individuals came here undercover and requesting diplomatic visas and they're not going to say i'm a
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russian intelligence officer or i'm with the minister of defense or foreign affairs but it made it much easier for the fbi to spot the uptick and deny the visas until the election is over. >> and this is reported as something that is concerning to both the fbi and the tate department and in terms of the way these things normally work. are you surprised to hear or unsurprised to hear that the fbi would have noticed this uptick, the state department might have recognized there is some strange surge in those kind of applications that the kind of national security monitoring that those of us outside of the business should expect? >> i think it is certainly in our interest and americans should expect that the appropriate authorities are closely monitoring russians erngt this country -- entering this country on diplomatic visas because they are singular in terms of sophistication and hospital ilt. so if we see an uptick before the election, when we have a growing body of intelligence indicating to vladimir putin's
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plan to meddle in our election, that should send off red flags if it didn't send off red flags, our national community would be derelict but they were on top of stopped it before it could become more of a problem. >> ned price, senior analyst with cia. ned, thank you for being here on a friday night and helping us understand this. really appreciate it. >> thank you. >> you know, i read as many spy novels as the next guy, but some of this stuff, i had no idea this is the way it worked. i feel like i got -- i feel like a got a lot smarter today just reading this one thing in "the washington post." all right. we'll be right back. y did what? yeah, liberty mutual 24-hour roadside assistance helped him to fix his flat so he could get home safely. my dad says our insurance doesn't have that. don't worry - i know what a lug wrench is, dad. is this a lug wrench? maybe?
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you are going to have a good weekend, i think. i mean to the extent i am capable of forecasting your weekend through the tv screen, i hereby insistently forecast that you are going to have a good weekend, or at least you should definitely try to because i also hereby forecast that you're going to have a nervous monday. at least a nervous start to monday. what's going to happen is going to happen fairly early on monday morning. set your alarm. my best warning about it and how to prepare is our closing story tonight, and that's next. for mom" per roll
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[ intense music playing ] ] it's here, but it's going by fast. the opportunity of the year is back: the mercedes-benz summer event. get to your dealer today for incredible once-a-season offers, and start firing up those grilles. lease the e300 for $569 a month at your local mercedes-benz dealer. mercedes-benz. the best or nothing. good evening. justice louis powell, a courtly southerner surprised almost everyone today by announcing his retirement from the u.s. supreme court. his decision touched off a flurry of speculation on who the president will appoint as a replacement and how that will affect the direction of the court and, of course, the country. nbc correspondent carl stern reports tonight what makes the
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retirement of the 79-year-old justice so significant is the special role that he played on the court. >> since louis powell put on the robe 15 years ago, it was often his vote that made the difference. whether voting conservative as president nixon hoped when he appointed him, or liberal, powell has been the so-called swing vote. the court didn't change much when ronald reagan named sandra day o'connor and antonin scalia had roughly the same person he replaced, warren berger. but powell's departure gives president reagan his first big chance to shift the court solidly to the right. >> louis powell unexpectedly announced his retirement in 1987 on the final day of the supreme court's term that year. and his retirement gave president reagan a chance to shift the supreme court solidly to the right. president reagan tried to do that. he nominated an ultra conservative named robert bourke, and famously that did not pan out. bourke didn't get the seat. the seat ultimately went to a more moderate justice named anthony kennedy. not only did anthony kennedy take over louis powell's seat,
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he also continued the tradition of that seat being the swing seat, the swing vote on the court. justice powell's announcement that he was retiring happened 30 years ago this upcoming monday, june 26th, 1987. and it just so happens that this coming monday is also the final day of this current supreme court term. and end of the term is sometimes when retiring justices like to make that announcement that they're going. so heading into monday, there's some shpilkes 30 years after justice powell's announcement, his replacement, justice kennedy, the current swing voter on the court. maybe if he's going to retire, that might conceivably be the day he'd announce it. that leave president trump of course with yet another pick for
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the supreme court and an opportunity to shift the court significantly to the right if he can confirm someone significantly more conservative than kennedy. justice kennedy is 80 years old, the top republican senator on the judiciary committee chuck grassley has been hinting he expects someone on the court to retire this summer. so monday. could be interesting. set your alarm. that does it for us tonight. have an excellent weekend. we'll see you again on monday. now it's time for "the last word" with ari melber sitting in for lawrence tonight. >> nice to see you rachel. replacing justice kennedy on the court would be the electoral college equivalent of replacing like florida and ohio. >> yeah, it would be like if the democrats really did start winning texas. >> it would be big. so we'll be watching. >> yeah. >> have a good weekend, rachel. >> i am in for lawrence o'donnell. we have a special report tonight on trump versus medicaid. why is the candidate who ran on protecting that key health program now ready to cut it? we have an exclusive with the former medicaid director. we will also hear from a family who says their lives literally depend on this program, and they have a message for congress that has nothing to do with politics.

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