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tv   MSNBC Live  MSNBC  July 11, 2017 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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we'll bring it to you once it is done. why do you want to stick around for that? one story is sure to dominate that briefing. that is this bombshell. this afternoon, donald trump jr. released an e-mail chain between himself and others about hillary clinton that the campaign would find interesting. they seem to show trump jr. knew one year ago that the russian government wanted to support mr. trump and his campaigns. his reaction, if that's what you say, i love it. >> 2016 and potentially 2017 all come down to this. our word of the day, and that is e-mail. >> we've just sign donald trump jr. tweeting out the e-mail in question that everyone's been talking about.
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>> these e-mails are explosive. this should have set off alarms. instead, it activated their sal vary glands. >> there's an e-mail from the russian government suggesting they want to help, that would be problematic. >> i said a long time ago it's serious, and this is a serious situation. one that is a long way from over. >> the russian attorney in that meeting, sat down for an exclusive interview with my colleague keir simmons. the story she told is different than the narrative offered up by the president's son and his attorney. >> they have the impression that they were going to be told some information that you had about the dnc. how did they get that impression. >> it's possible maybe they were looking for such information,
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they wanted it so badly. >> we'll debrief it with our panel of reporters and analysts. >> the last few months of donald trump's campaign hinged on the comment that hillary clinton was corrupt. e-mails that were deleted, that were hacked. she views public office as nothing more than a means to personal enrichment. now we have another e-mail, from donald trump's son. it could prove a willingness to included with the foreign government. at worst, the solicitation for that help. peter alexander is at the white house. and michael schmidt a reporter for the new york times and msnbc national security contributor run through these e-mails for us. >> let's walk you through that. we have graphics to help you better understand where things
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stand at this time. the e-mails date back to june 3rd of 2016 on june 9th goldstone writes to donald trump jr. he is the 34ger for a pop singer. the crown prosecutor of russia met with the singer's father that morning, in their meeting, offered to provide the trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate hillary clinton and her dealings with russia, and would be useful to your father. this is very high level. about 17 minutes later, this is the response on that day from donald trump jr. if it's what you say, i love it, especially later in the summer. three days later the conversation picks back up let
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me know when you're free to talk with the singer about this hillary info. more back and forth between the two occurs, a day later goldstone writes, the singer asked that i schedule a meeting with you, the russian government attorney who is flying over from moscow for this thursday. i believe you're aware of the meeting, wondered if 3:00 p.m. on thursday works for you. i assume it would be at your office. about an hour later trump junior responds, how about 3:00 at our offices. goldstone responds, i will send the names of the two people meeting with you for security later today. >> great, it will likely be paul manafort, campaign boss, my brother-in-law and me. the next morning, in a series of e-mails, goldstone writes, would it be possible to move the meeting to 4:00 p.m., as the russian attorney is in court
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until 3:00. >> yes, i could do that, unless they wanted to do 3:00 today. >> they can't do today, she hasn't landed yet from moscow, 4:00 p.m. is great. the final e-mail in this thread comes the next day, trump jr. writing to jared kushner and paul manafort, meeting got moved to 4:00 tomorrow at my offices. best, don. so in the simplest of terms, beginning on june 3rd and concluding with that meeting on june 9th, that's how this is all mapping out today. >> not just that, he said i could send this e-mail to your father through rona, but it is highly sensitive, so i wanted to send it to you first. >> the meeting happened on the 25th floor. the future president's office one floor above, on the 26th floor.
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i noticed this, donald trump is a prolific tweeter, he has not come to the defense of his own son. >> it's striking, it's been a powerful method of communication. even as he arrived here at the white house and in the west wing. and since the story first broke as first reported by the new york times, roughly 72 hours ago, he tweeted about his predecessor, syria, putin, the olympics, isis, about an awful plane crash in mississippi, but not a single tweet in any form in defense or even revelations about this situation with his daughter. >> the white house has been pretty inconsistent with their statements on this -- at one
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point jared kushner's lawyer said they didn't know who was in that meeting. but there was an e-mail saying this is the meeting, and in that meeting they were saying who was going to it, why so much inconsistency with the statements not just from don jr. but just in general about russia? >> why is the big question, and difficult to answer. they're trying to get on the same page, and it's difficult. this often happens when there's something that's being hidden. or happen ed. as you know, describing what it was like during the campaign, there were a lot of people coming in and out of trump tour, there were a lot of meetings, this was a campaign that did not do things to the book. they adhered to the style donald trump used in business for years and years. there were people coming up and
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down those escalators that some people may not have known about as they were in the building. there are a lot of things to figure out here. the concern with kushner given that of the three people, he's the one currently working in this white house, if he was in that meeting, and we don't know if he was, if he was in that meeting, a lot of questions to be answered, he has the security clearance right now. and i think that is obviously going to be a pretty big concern especially if it's learned he was in this meeting with representatives of the russian government as they were offering information to the campaign. >> speaking of kushner, how did we find out about these e-mails? >> that's the interesting thing, as the story has evolved. what happened was, in recent days, paul manafort's lawyers informed congress about this, they're the ones that brought this to their attention, and they told congress about that. and that sort of sent in motion this series of event, where we learned about what we did today.
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the interesting thing here is, the changing stories from don jr. buck in march, we asked him if he had ever met with any russians as part of the campaign. he said he had not. and the thing that doesn't make sense is that in march, the trump folks had to have known the russia story wasn't going to be going away, why is it they weren't more candid at the time, and pushed out and laid out what all these meetings were? >> talk to me about what you make of what could be coming next? you've done a lot of reporting on this campaign, what may or may not be coming. does this say to you more could be coming out of this one meeting or potentially in the future? >> what i think this shows is that some people have said bob mueller, it's only going to take him a year to get to the bottom of this, this is something mueller's folks didn't know about until reebtly. as they move forward, different
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things will come up. this meeting will become a mini-investigation in and of itself. his folks will want to talk to everyone that was there, look at any type of intelligence that the intelligence community has on the woman they met with, are there any other communications, any other e-mails, and these things take time. as this story continues, there will be more stuff that has to be looked into. >> keir simmons met with the lawyer. >> well, i knew that mr. donald trump jr. was willing to meet with me. i could recognize the young gentleman who was only present in the meeting for the first 7 to 10 minutes. then he stood up and left the room. it was not mr. jared kushner, and he never came back, by the way.
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the other gentleman that was at the meeting was always looking at his phone. he didn't take an active part in the conversation. that was mr. manafort. >> they had the impression they were going to be told some information you had about the dnc. how did they get the impression? >> maybe they were looking for such information. they wanted it so badly. >> she said, maybe they were looking for that information they wanted it so badly. what's your reaction to that. maybe if they didn't get it here, they would continue looking for it? >> yeah, based on don jr.'s own words. if it's what you say it is, i love it. that's what they were looking for and hoping to get out of the meeting. perhaps mr. goldstone misrepresented what the attorney wanted to talk about in terms of getting donald trump jr. to take that meeting, it seems clear
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based on what's in the e-mails that we're seeing for the first time today that goldstone says this is information that is highly sensitive. don trump jr. says, great, that's what we're looking for. it's crystal clear on the page, it's pretty hard to say fake news about a story, when you're putting out e-mails corroborating that story yourself. >> that's right. peter alexander at the white house waiting for that offcamera briefing, and michael schmidt of the new york times, thank you very much. >> here with me now, the man who discovered deep throat. >> i want to wipe away this hot rhetoric we're hearing from capitol hill and social media. on june 3rd, goldstone writes
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that they have incriminating information about hillary and her dealings with russia information that he says comes directly from the russian government. don jr. responds, i love it. and six days later, a russian lawyer was in the room with them. >> who is this guy, goldstone, anybody can write an e-mail from russia, everybody's always trying to get influence with and knowledge of what's going on in the white house whether it's president obama or w or donald trump or hillary clinton had she been elected that's very common. who is this guy, who is kind of a circus act, why would he have great insights and information and connection with the russian government? or is he just talking? by the way, he's a promoter and a successful one. who is he and why do we believe
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him? >> say he is just a promoter, say he doesn't have the connections he might claim he does. he is claiming he has it he's claiming he has information from the russian government and they want to help donald trump's campaign. wants to help his father, he said. that alone, does that raise any red flags for you? >> what is the information? >> what about donald trump jr. saying, i love it, give me that information. >> one of two things, you say that when you want to promote the meeting, take the meeting and find out what's going on. it's common e-mail language. or he really means, i think i'm on to something here. i want to believe i'm on to something here you'd have to ask him. >> tim kaine says this could be treason. >> i mean, this is we're getting unhinged now. treason is overthrowing the american government through
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illegal means you're trying to overthrow it legally through an election. if someone's going to be charged with treason, it's the lawyer in russia, for trying to say something about -- what has donald trump jr. done? he has no access to secrets in america. he's trying to overthrow the government through an election, not through something illegal. where does tim kaine come up with the word treason? >> what about solicitation? >> that's a different issue. that's something i would be a little more concerned about, if donald trump jr. is soliciting information and that can be considered to be a thing of value. usually we think of money, right? by the way, if all this information had been dumped into your lap, i would hope you would
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have immediately put it out as news. >> if they were offering information from the russian government about bat dealings between hillary clinton and russia, wouldn't the first instinct be for gone jr. to raise a flag with the fbi? >> maybe. >> maybe? >> if you're sophisticated and not running a very strange kind of campaign. >> shun the you be sophisticated if you're in this kind of game? >> i think what happens is -- on the other side, we know from michael isikoff and the washington examiner, a woman working for the dnc solicited information from ukraine against paul man for the and president trump. she actually got it, and she sank manafort's position. would you start prosecuting people from the dnc for having
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done that in january? >> that's a false equivalent. that's not quite the same as russia, who is about to be med 88ing or has been meddling into the election. and who the intelligence community would later show they wanted to sway the election in trump's favor. >> that's certainly our assumption. and let's face it, from an optics viewpoint that is different. from the viewpoint of law and what bob mueller has to prove -- i feel sorry for him. he has to prove this is different from solicitation. i'm not sure that's going to be easy to do. >> the law and politics, sometimes not always on the same
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page. thank you very much. appreciate your time, sir. thanks for coming in. >> most relations on capitol hill refuse to break ranks with trump on the russia investigation until now. this time, it's different. we'll head to the capital for a live report. and more breaking news moments ago, the senate staying in washington longer than expected. we'll explain. and we are keeping our eye on the white house where the daily press briefing is getting underway. this is audio only. we'll bring you the questions and answers, as soon as that briefing wraps up right here. noo introducing the easiest way to get gillette blades text "blades" to gillette on demand
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i would fall in the nothing burger category on this one. i'm someone who believes russia meddled in our elections last year. as far as this one particular meeting, it's not evidence that the russian government was including with the trump campaign and providing damaging information. >> new york republican congressman dismissed donald trump jr.'s meeting with russia last year. calling it a nothing burger. today he changed his tune. he tweeted just a moment ago. new e-mails from donald trump jr. contradict a lot of prior story from yesterday and day before. this is not the same thing.
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i voted for president trump last november, and want him and the u.s. to succeed, that meeting given the e-mail chain just released is a big no no. here's how lindsey graham reacted to the news. >> i don't know what mr. trump jr.'s version of the facts are, i definitely -- he has to testify, that e-mail is disturbing. the person he met with knew nothing. i don't know why they would pick somebody for him to meet with that didn't have any information about the clinton campaign. on its face, this is interesting. >> what have we been hearing from republican lawmakers? >> lawmakers on the senate side, have tried not to touch this.
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i was at a senate hearing with eight republicans, they were asked about this twice, republican from north carolina said, this is out of our lane, the relevant committees are going to look at this and that needs to be their focus, we're not worried about this. even before this e-mail was made public all said donald trump jr. needs to appear before that committee and answer questions about that. senate democrats are going further than that. mark warner said, this is the collusion people have been talking about. another senate democrat said jared kushner should lose his security clearance until this has been broken out. democrats see this as what they've been looking for all along. republicans thus far are trying not to grapple with this if they don't have to. >> what we're looking at right
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now, on your screen, was the senate stakeout camera, where senate republicans are talking to reporters. we'll bring you any relevant sound that comes out of there. earlier i played something from an interview i did earlier today. >> i think a lot of lawmakers are saying there has to be something more to this at this point lee zeldin voted for donald trump, the political considerations are actually not on his side when making this statement. the house is coming into session this week, they do not have a ton of controversial work to do over the next couple weeks, the senate is where most of the action is at this point. there's going to be a lot of questions about this and they're going to have to find answers
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and quick. the answers i'm getting is that this is really bad to put it mildly. it's e-mail evidence that the son of the president to be, met with someone who identified themselves as an agent of the russian government. there's really no wiggle room here, what they're going to say, and what some defenders of donald trump have said already is that this was an investigation into what hillary clinton had done with the russians. unfortunately, the trump campaign wasn't really in an investigation role at this point. it's going to be a long three weeks, and even longer since they're talking about cancelling a portion of the august recess. >> you say it's very bad. legally, there seems to be debate over what this could mean.
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talk to me about why it is something that could put someone in jail. >> republicans have been defending him the whole time. >> jake, i'm going to interrupt you because mitch mcconnell is talking about it now. senator burr and senator warner have control and we'll hear from them later. >> met with a russian lawyer -- [ inaudible ] >> well, i'm sure that senator burr and senator warner's committee will take a look at all aspects of the investigation. >> setting the investigation aside, does it make it harder for you -- a major adversary.
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>> the investigation is being handled by the senate intelligence committee, i'm sure they will get to the bottom of whatever happened. >> does trust -- >> they'll get to the bottom of whatever may have happened. >> on the issue of. >> you mentioned control -- >> are you talking about the death? >> yeah, ideally we would deal with the debt ceiling before the august recess. >> spending cuts in your mind? >> mitch mcconnell addressing the issue. saying the investigations are ongoing, we'll get to the bottom of whatever happened. jake, i interrupted you, you were playing political analyst. >> i want to come in quickly, that is as far as mitch mcconnell's going to go on this, that's a traditional classic
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mitch mcconnell not saying anything about a hot topic, and deflecting to the committees in charge. republicans have been defending donald trump for months, now they have this e-mail which appears to undermine some of what they've been saying to the extent voters are interested in these topics, they'll take a look at these issues. it's something that in some districts it's not a political issue, pair this with the fact that health care is not done, tax care is not done. this is a mix of bad political dynamics for republicans. >> they haven't got any of their major legislation done what does this do for the bills they want to create for that. can they get things going if all of the conversation is on russia, and the daily developments we seem to be
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getting coming out of the trump campaign, the transition and this white house? >> sure, this is one of the things mitch mcconnell has done for himself, he's not been one of those people out here saying there is no collusion. it's a make belief story. it's stayed far away from that. so he can come out and say, there's a process for this, we will handle this. the house has been living in an alternate reality. they've been working on bills throughout this process, and not getting a lot of attention. now i think you're going to see the senate try really hard to catch up. depending on who you ask. democrats will say republicans stumbled out of the gate, they don't have a plan, that's why they're behind. either way, it's clear the senate is not where they need to be on accomplishing any of the agenda items they ran on.
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they're going to use this time to catch up to the house and to mitch mcconnell's benefit, he's going to try to keep pushing that issue aside. they know that's maybe not the thing they're constituents are asking them about. it's not necessarily the biggest story in kentucky or north carolina or some of these other places. they know they need to focus on the agenda items they ran on. >> and the russia investigation. as we start seeing republicans break ranks and criticize the president more about this, are we going to start seeing that open the door to more bipartisan negotiation on things going-forward? >> on stuff like russia sanctions, perhaps. i think we're a long way from seeing a bipartisan negotiation on health care or anything of that nature. i do assume the senate's russia sanctions bill is going to have to come flew the house at some point, and pass with a veto
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proof margin. donald trump's work on the hill to pump the brakes on sanctions is not working. i think there's a bipartisan agreement that russia is not an actor the united states should be dealing with. i think that's something we'll see in the next couple weeks, i don't anticipate a big breakthrough on something like health care. it's not in the political reality right now. >> jake sherman and garrett hague on the hill. thank you very much. he's the man behind the meeting, who is rob goldstone. that's the man behind the meeting, excuse me. could the russia investigation all hinge on what happened at the miss universe contest. we expect today's e-mail dump to dominate questions at today's briefing. sarah huckabee sanders is in in the room now. we'll bring it to you as soon as
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it's over.
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this is a pattern we've seen that's gone back months where they deny these contacts or meetings with rukss until the proof comes out. >> it's a pattern, senator mark warner says, he's the ranking member of the senate intel committee. and it's a pattern that he says they only show when they get
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caught doing something. moving on. all that glitters is gold at least in the pageant world. a world that is reaching in and threatening to challenge his presidency. aguillera made a good impression on trump, so did his son evan, a pop star that performed at the pageant. trump seemed to like him so much in fact, he made a cameo in one of evan's music videos. >> i'm really tired of you, you're fired. and that is where rob goldstone comes in, a brit and former tab loit reporter turned publicist represents evan. it was goldstone who reached out to him in june 2016.
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he had something very interesting for the trump campaign. this is high level and sensitive information. but it's part of russia and it's government support for mr. trump. he ends the e-mail saying, i can also send this information to your father via rona, but it's sensitive, so i wanted to send it to you first. >> a lawyer who goldstone described as a russian government attorney who just flew in from moscow was in don jr.'s office, one floor below the future president of the united states. for the record, on journal 9th, donald trump was in trump tower for the entire day, except for a brief appearance a few blocks away at a gop fund-raiser. he left at 12:34 p.m., he left the fund-raiser for trump tower
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at 1:07 p.m. the meeting between don jr., paul manafort jared kushner happened at 4:00 p.m. trump's lawyer says the president did not attend. david, i want to dig a little deeper into this, what more do we know about rob goldstone? >> well, he's sort of a happening guy. i think he's happy to be connected to this story. he's a pop star in addition to everything else he's involved in. that's probably goldstone's biggest claim to fame. other than having a way to get through to donald trump jr. the connection to amin is really the issue here. >> how close are the connections between amin and putin?
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>> okay, so amin and his father do business. they build things they are building amazing entertainment complexes. amin studied in the united states, he lived there for a long time. they're massive projects, just outside moscow, nobody does that without everybody knowing about it, then, also because arasas is a big time businessman, you're never that big a businessman in russia without being close to power. there's the deals that get done with various people who end up being close to putin. shipping deals, all these trace back to people who are friends of putin. the one time i saw him, he was outside putin's press office. >> is it logical to think that
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vladimir putin would have passed on a message through amin, given to a promote r, to contact don jr. to contact this lawyer to get influence in the trump campaign. >> if you ask me, the part you've described here is what you've already described, is a trump representative reaching out to a foreign cun the to get dirt on hillary clinton what did putin have that he wanted sent this way. it's true that russia uses ologa olog ologargs. if you ask me, she probably or somebody said use that as an excuse to get in. >> who thought they were
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interested in that from a foreign government. >> they would be interested on any kind of dirt someone would have on hillary clinton. they don't care about the magnitsky act, i'm sure they don't even know what it is. if this person wants to lobby that, that is the lawyer's cause, it's a big deal i don't think the trump campaign is thinking about that in 2016, that's some way to get through to them and say, we have something about the other candidate. >> thank you very much. i want to highlight something for our viewers. we haven't heard anything from the president directly, certainly not on twitter. sarah huckabee sanders relayed a statement from the president. my son is a high quality person and i applaud his transparency. that from donald trump through sarah huckabee sanders.
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next, we're back on the hill with how these e-mails could be a pivotal moment for members of congress. james mcgovern gives me his take after the break. we continue to keep an eye on today's audio only press briefing at the white house. we'll bring it to you as soon as it wraps up. no, please, please, oh! ♪ (shrieks in terror) (heavy breathing and snorting) no, no. the running of the bulldogs? surprising. what's not surprising? how much money aleia saved by switching to geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. only tylenol® rapid release gels have laser drilled holes. they release medicine fast, for fast pain relief.
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president trump's son released an e-mail chain showing him making plans to meet with a russian attorney. that lawyer tells nbc news she did not have any compromising information. >> we primarily discussed a program to resume the adoption of russian children. russia stopped adoptions by americans after the magnitsky act of 2012. joining us now to talk about this is one of the sponsors of the magnitsky act, jim mcgovern. thank you very much. don jr. in this meeting.
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what do you make of it, the fact that he was willing to get information that was damaging to hillary clinton from a foreign government? >> i think it's bizarre, troubling and creepy. the fact that they would have a meeting with an attorney who allegedly had information that was sanctioned by the russian government that was damaging to hillary clinton is inappropriate and i wish the white house would just say it. whether this is criminal or not, we can argue. they called the fbi. but this is even worse this is with a foreign government. it wasn't just jared kushner and donald trump jr., it was with paul manafort.
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the only person higher is donald trump, the candidate. >> i want to get back to something you just said. we talked about al gore and how they wouldn't allow a debate notebook to be handed to them. how did politics get to this point? where this is something that happens and people are trying to defend it? >> i don't know, but this whole russian connection between the trump campaign and russia is again, deeply troubling to me. i mean, you know, this is more than just about getting dirt on your political opponent, this is about cooperating and including with a country that is trying to influence the presidential election. this is what dealing with russia that attacked our democracy, you know, whatever the rational that donald trump jr. may have thought he had, it was wrong and it should never have happened to begin with.
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>> jim mcgovern thank you very much. we're going to go right now to that offcamera briefing, sarah huckabee sanders has just finished up, here it is from the beginning.jr., that meeting, have you had a chance to get a sense of what he feels about this entire story as it continues to unfold? what's your sense on that? >> i have a quick statement that i will read from the president. my son is a high quality person and i applaud his transparency. beyond that, i'm going to have to refer everything on this matter to don jr.'s counsel and outside counsel and won't have anything else to add beyond that today. the end, i'm sorry. >> if i can follow up quickly about the accident, how soon afterward did the president learn about what happened? what was the tick-tock in terms of that? did he get immediate word or did it go through a certain chain of command?
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>> i'm not sure on the exact process. i will have to check. i know he was aware of the situation, briefed on the situation, and continued to get updates on it. but i don't know the exact tick-tock so i have to circle back with you on that. >> [ inaudible ] to meet with him being told that in those e-mails, the russian government was trying to help the president win the election. you stand by a statement you made yesterday when you said that our position is that no one within the trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election? >> i do. again, i don't have, beyond the statements yesterday and what i read today, i don't have anything else to add. >> when is the last time the two of them spoke, don jr. and the president? >> i'm sorry? >> do you know when the last time the president spoke with don jr.? >> no, i don't. >> so the white house hasn't disputed any of the following which is that the president's son, campaign chairman, son-in-law had this meeting with the express purpose of receiving
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damaging information about hillary clinton, and with knowledge of the russian government supporting trump's campaign. how is that not collusion? >> once again, i know you guys are going to get tired of it today and not to sound like a broken record, but on all questions related to this matter, i would refer you to don jr.'s counsel and outside counsel. >> you are not disputing any of the facts? >> i'm simply referring you to people that can answer that question, matthew. alex? >> in january, the president said that nobody in his campaign had been in touch with the russians and the white house stood by that statement. was the president misled or was he not truthful? >> once again, to repeat myself, i'm going to refer you to the outside counsel and i don't have anything else to add. >> sarah, why were you interested in answering questions yesterday and why the
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president is not answering the questions himself either through you or directly today? what changed between yesterday and today? >> look, the president gave a statement on the matter which i read to you, and like i have said, i don't have anything else to add beyond that. >> is the president still [ inaudible ] tan command the cs on capitol hill to work as expeditiously as possible and he wants to cooperate and wants his family members and his top aides at the white house to cooperate? >> absolutely. that's never changed since day one. we would love to get this matter closed and focus on the big priorities of the american people. >> so by not answering questions directly himself or through you, is that in his mind expediting the investigation, or is it blocking the investigation? >> i'm not going to get into the back and forth on that.
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>> the white house says there was no collusion, what does the white house mean? what is the definition of collusion? >> again, i have said all we are going to say on that matter. anything further, you guys are going to have to reach out to outside counsel. april? >> sarah, the word collusion has been used, other words are obstruction of justice. now that's not even half of it. could be treason or perjury. what does the white house have to say, the new terms brought into this, new more serious terms? >> i don't know how many times we'll have to address this -- >> i'm not asking about don jr. i'm asking about these words being brought into this equation that this white house wants this whole investigation to be gone. the new words now brought out. >> i think those new words are ridiculous. >> i have two questions for you. first, asking specifically about actions taken by white house staff in the last 72 hours. >> i'm sorry, white house what?
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>> white house staff. something that should not require you to refer to special counsel. can you talk about who inside the white house has been involved in your response on this, has the president been kept in the loop, chief of staff, others in the administration, are you looking into potential communication by others on the white house staff in regards to this matter or similar matters? >> all of the appropriate parties have been part of that conversation and part of that discussion. >> same question, jared kushner has apparently forwarded this same e-mail. is he still -- is his security clearance still valid right now? >> as always, we have never discussed the security clearance. >> one more. yesterday you said you checked back on the status of how the president views the u.s./russia relationship. can you update us, is russia a friend or foe? >> again, i haven't had a chance to have that direct conversation. been a little preoccupied with other things. i will certainly check on that. >> a policy question on that.
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something about the statement you just read. has the president through h.r. mcmaster notified the pentagon that he's reasserting the cap of 3900 additional troops in afghanistan? initially it was reported -- >> and the phrase of that briefing was i refer you to outside counsel. sarah huckabee sanders repeatedly saying that when asked about this latest meeting, this latest revelation of a meeting between don jr., jared kushner, paul manafort and a russian lawyer. she also read at the very top a statement from president trump about don jr., saying my son is a high quality person and i applaud his transparency. that, the entire statement. so far, again, though, we have not heard from the president himself on his twitter which is usually the form of communication that he uses when he wants to make statements about things. he's a prolific tweeter. let's bring in ambassador michael mcfaul, former
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ambassador to the russian federation and msnbc russian affairs contributor. thank you very much for joining us. i want to get down on how a meeting like this can happen or what the motivation was. how high do you think the process or how high do you think it went, the idea to try and get into the trump campaign by dangling potentially negative information about hillary clinton? >> well, i would just be speculating. i want to be clear that i don't know the answer to that. but i know that system pretty well. the prosecutor general's office i know well. that is very close to vladimir putin. that's one of the top four power ministries, they call them, and so for somebody to say they have dirt on clinton, led us send an envoy to talk to you about it, suggests the russian government was involved in this. >> would they go through a russian pop star, the publicist of a russian pop star to get a meeting with trump jr.? >> sure.
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you know, you have got to remember the system is one system, it's an authoritarian system. everybody is connected to everybody. if the objective has been stated by vladimir putin which was, as we now know, to help trump get elected and to hurt hillary clinton, then they are going to use every instrument, every modality that they can. we have been focused rightly on the hacking and the publication of those e-mails but now we are talking about another strategy, which is to provide the trump campaign with dirt. that was the word used, on hillary clinton and some connections she might have with russians. that's very consistent, in my view, with how the russian government operates. >> donald trump jr. said he -- it quickly became apparent there was no meaningful information there. do you believe that's where it stopped? >> i would love for somebody, maybe the fbi, to interview all the three americans that were in that meeting. interview them right now and
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individually before they check their stories with each other so we know for a fact there was nothing there. again, i don't want to get ahead of my skis, i don't want to get ahead of the information. maybe there wasn't anything. but most certainly, the intent to receive dirt on hillary clinton is very apparent just reading those e-mails. you know, again, we should sit down right away and interview, the americans investigating this, the committees and the fbi, and figure out exactly what they learned in that meeting. >> russia wasn't successful in that meeting, the magnitsky act wasn't of interest to don jr., you believe they would have stopped there? or would they have continued to try to gain influence somehow? >> well, i don't want to jump to the conclusion that they weren't interested in that. candidate trump said many times he would look into lifting sanctions. the magnitsky law is sanctions on russian human rights abusers. so you know, maybe they don't know the details of that law
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versus other sanctions, but he most certainly signaled and he has continued to signal his interest in exploring lifting sanctions and already in the debate, he's most certainly slowing down new sanctions the u.s. congress has proposed. >> michael mcfaul, thank you very much. >> thanks. that does it for me today. ali velshi picks things up right now. >> you have had a busy one. >> it's not over. i got 5:00 today, too. >> i will see you at 6:00. >> are we? did that happen on my phone? i just don't realize it? >> exactly. see you later on. i'm ali velshi. when the book comes out about president trump's time in office and the ongoing russia probe, today might very well get its own chapter. the president's son, donald trump jr., tweeted out a series of his own e-mails. they detail the leadup to that now infamous campaign season meeting with a kremlin-linked attorney. the person trump jr. was e-mailing was this fellow here.


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