tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC July 20, 2017 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
headquarters here in new york. >> ready, once upon a time a rico lawsuit was filed in new york city. we think of rico lawsuits as relating to the mob usually. but it's actually a broad definition basically rico laws get used against people who are participating in an organization that is engaging in criminal acts. typically that's the mob but it could be other stuff, too. in 2011, a rico lawsuit was filed in the southern district of new york about an alleged financial scheme that involved a whole bunch of ukrainians and russians and one guy who ended up running the donald trump for
president campaign in 2016 and he denied having anything to do with it. and the suit ultimately did not succeed, but it has -- the terms of that lawsuit, the scheme that was alleged in that lawsuit has continued to resonate in the news for a few years now. and right now, with tonight's news it is ringing like a loud bell on a cold night. the scheme sketched out by this lawsuit, this rico lawsuit said that vladimir putin's russian state run gas company made a ridiculous deal with a ukrainian oligarch, and technically the deal involved that guy buying and selling gas between russia and ukraine. but what the deal really was was a way to dump billions of dollars in the pocket of that ukrainian oligarch for a specific purpose. the way it worked instead of gas selling gas from russia to ukraine, they put this other guy
in the middle. they sold that guy the middle in the gas for almost nothing and then that guy turned around and he sold the gas to ukraine at a massively marked up price. so the difference between what he bought the gas for and what he sold it for, that difference between those two prices it all went in his pocket. and it was billions of dollars. and that deal ripped off the people of russia, right, because it was their national gas company that was selling their gas for nothing, and it ripped off the people of ukraine because their government had to buy gas at this marked up price from this dude in the middle who was making billions of dollars off the arrangement. this arrangement that had been set up by the putin government. so that was the corrupt deal. it was basically just a huge -- it was sort of disguised as a
business deal but what it really was was a huge transfer of money to this guy in the middle screwing the people of both countries arranged by the putin government. well, the guy in the middle, the guy who made all the money was a putin connected oligarch. he also had a minority partner in the deal a member of parliament. and according to to this rico lawsuit that was filed in new york in 2011, a chunk of the guy began tick amount of money they made in this scheme, a chunk of that money ultimately got shipped to the united states for cleaning. that gas money from russia, at least a multimillion dollar chunk of it got sent to the united states to be invested in new york real estate. as a money laundering thing. so gas money goes to the oligarch guy he invests it with an american partner who sets up real estate deals in new york city. those deals make money or they don't, but then the point of the
lawsuit, the point -- the reason a ukrainian politician filed this rico lawsuit is that she alleges that the whole point of this arrangement, the whole point of cleaning those gains through new york real estate deals was to disguise the fact that this was money from russia, money from putin and the reason they had to disguise the or gins of that money is because the point of that money, the destination ultimately of that money, the whole point of this arrangement was to shovel that laundered money back into ukraine, in politics. into the campaign coffers and into the pockets of proputin, prorussian and political parties in the ukraine. so if there's one thing we as citizens have all had to learn as part of following politics now, the whole point of money
laundering is to make things seem complicated, right? whenever you're following a money laundering story the money went here and th there and there was another person? that's the point. that's money laundering. the whole idea is the trail of the money is supposed to seem complicated. you're supposed to lose track of where the money is going and where it came from. that is money laundering. as a money laundering scheme, though, what was alleged in this rico lawsuit this was simple. money from putin, the russian got government that gets spent on buying proputin, prorussian government officials to run the nation of ukraine, right next door to russia, of great concern to vladamir putin. and yet they washed that money and tumbled it dry through this gas company and the gas deal, but that was just intention al -
the point was for putin to buy a pro-putin government in neighboring ukraine. that was basically how russia managed its relations with ukraine for years. that's how russia and ukraine had good relations, that's -- that's why putin was so comfortable with the ukraine government for so long because he bought it himself. that plan worked for a while until it didn't. because ultimately ukrainians rose up and overthrew their corrupt, pro-putin government in a revolution that freaked vladamir putin out like you cannot believe. and ukraine's proputin dictator had to flee the country and hide in moscow where he remains. for a while there before the people rose up, the russian plan did seem to be working. and while it was working a lot of people made a lot of money
out of that scheme and not just the oligarchs and dictators. "the new york times" had this report over the weekend about donald trump for president campaign chair paul manafort and him finally retroactively registering as a foreign agent this year for the work he did years ago for pro-putin political parties and politicians in ukraine. when he finally retroactively registered as a foreign agent he reported over two years, 2012, 2013, the pro putin political party that he worked for paid him nearly $17 million. the reason that's weird is because over that same two-year period that party reported they didn't spend $17 million on anything. they didn't spend $17 million on everything combined. they say their budget didn't total up for everything to what manafort said they paid him. but there is that rico lawsuit from back in the day that
alleged the pro putin political parties, they actually had tons of money because they were secretly funded by money from putin, and partially laundered through new york real estate deals that were re arranged between the oligarch and his american partner before his american partner started running the trump campaign. we don't know exactly why paul manafort is the guy who donald trump picked out of a hat when it came time for him to put somebody new in charge of his presidential campaign. and the circumstances of paul manafort leaving that campaign last summer still drive me nuts. those circumstances of him leaving and what happened after he left, the agreement he may or may not have made in the campaign that remains totally unreported. it doesn't make sense on its
face. there remains a story to be told there. but you can see, even with all of those question marks and the stories untold. you can see why the intrigue around paul manafort has grown over time since he left the campaign and since congressional investigators and bob mueller have started an investigation into the trump campaign and ties to russia. the "the wall street journal" reported earlier this week that a new round of subpoenas has just gone out about some unexpectedly huge loans that went to paul manafort from a small bank in chicago run by a prominent trump supporter those were made in november around the time of the election and in january around the time of the inauguration. it would appear those loans were for way more money than it looks like that little bank could afford. that follows previous reporting that paul manafort's real estate transactions were being investigated by the fbi.
that follows previous reporting that manafort's domestic banking records had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in the eastern district of virginia. that follows previous reporting from the nation of cyprus, which has been a conduit for money laundering, reporting that paul manafort's offshore banking had been requested by investigators and handed over to them. maybe the business practices and the personal finances of the trump presidential campaign chairman, maybe his money isn't any of our business. and when this all bears out we will come to realize this has all been his personal stuff and his business stuff that has nothing to do with him running the trump campaign and nothing to do with the trump campaign's relationship with russia and russia's attack on our election. that may be the case but last night, just before "the new york times" published their interview with the president, they
published this report which says in the months right before paul manafort joined the trump campaign and became chairman, he was, apparently, very seriously in debt to the tune of about $17 million. the people he owed, according to to the times and these banking records they reviewed from cyprus and their reporter disentangling all this stuff. according to them the folks that paul manafort owed money to before joining the trump campaign, the people he owed were the minority guy from the das deal back in the day that funneled money into russian politics. that guy who's a pro-putin, pro russian member of parliament that manafort used to work for. so he owed him, apparently millions of dollars, like $10 million and the other guy he appeared to owe money to is
another oligarch. another ukrainian oligarch. he's close to putin. he's one putin allowed to control the aluminum market. he is also the person who reportedly, according to the ap signed paul manafort to a $10 million a year contract for manafort to promote the interest of vladimir putin and the government in countries around the world, including the united states. they're also known to have gone in together on several big investments, including a ukrainian tv concern that they called black sea cable. it's funny even when you're talking about big corrupt deals and people who are trying to fix the system and rig the system. even when you're talking worst case scenario in international corruption, things do still sometimes fall apart.
i mean paul manafort did get paid millions of dollars from somewhere for his work on behalf of the pro putin political party in ukraine, that is definitely money he took home. we know that because he declared it formally to the u.s. government now, while investigators are breathing down his neck his glasses are fogged up and he can't see forward. so he did make dollars doing that. and the a.p. reports he did sign that contract to promote putin's interest around the world, including here. and paul manafort confirmed that he worked for him, although he contested the characterization of the work that he did for them. so paul manafort clearly a rich guy who has made lots of money in recent years. but he didn't make money on everything he tried. and the investment deals that he did didn't always work out. that gas money out of ukraine, that was allegedly supposed to end up in a huge real estate deal manafort arranged that was
going to tear down a big hotel in new york city and create a tower. that deal, according to this rico lawsuit that was a money laundering effort. that tower deal in new york city never happened. and the times reports that he also ended up owing money to one of the gas guys, like $10 million. that black sea cable tv deal he was going to do, that never happened either. that black sea cable thing when it fell apart, it fell apart hard. he was sued over that deal. they said he took millions of dollars from him that were intended for the cable deal and manafort never said what he did with the money. that was filed against paul manafort in 2014. the "new york times" reports as
late as december 2015, as the presidential campaign was starting banking records in cyprus continue on show paul manafort millions of dollars in debt. and then this really interesting thing happens, depending on who you ask the times says late 2015, the a.p. says early 2016. sometime in there, deripaska stops going after manafort for all the money he owes him. he's been in business with manafort he's been doing this highly paid pro-putin work for him for years. manafort appears to have huge multimillion dollars debts to derpasska. he's suing him over those debts and then all of a sudden it just stops, late 2015, 2016, he's no longer trying to get his money back.
and as of 2015, manafort still owes that dude millions of dollars. but the legal action to try to collect from manafort just stops. and then manafort takes the job running trump's campaign while he appears to be millions of dollars in debt and he takes the job of running the trump campaign without a salary. he'll do it for free. seems like the kind of thing a rich guy will do for another super rich guy. he that's a nice thing to do for anyone, but it's weird if at the time you are millions of dollars in debt to two different russian connected pro-putin guys at the time he took on the job. so that's news that just broke in the "new york times." paul manafort $17 million in debt to pro-russian interests immediately before he took the job of running the trump campaign where he said he didn't
need to be paid to take on that job. that job also apparently considing with one of the russians manafort owed that money to stopping the collections to try to collect that debt. again it's not our business if it is paul manafort's personal business. but if this is related to him running the trump campaign, it's important to find out if he owes those pro putin interests all that money and if he paid it back. and if he paid it back, did he pay it back in money or some other way? why did that one russian connected oligarch stop trying to collect the money from manafort right before he took over the trump campaign. the "the wall street journal" reports tonight in addition to the other investigations into the trump campaign chairman's finances the "the wall street
journal" reports that special prosecutor robert mueller is looking at paul manafort for potential money laundering. it's been reported previously that paul manafort was the subject of a federal money laundering probe that was out of the southern district of new york. we're told it was folded into the investigation by robert mueller. he has taken that over. we'll speak with that reporter who broke that news today. that comes amid multiple reports that the president himself is now having his finances reviewed by investigators. bloomberg reporting that investigators are looking into trump transactions as diverse as the russian money connections to his trump soho project and trump buying properties, and his miss universe pageant. and him making millions of dollars in 2008 when he told to a russian oligarch a house in florida that he bought only a
couple years earlier. and neither of them ever lived in. on top of that, deutsche bank is now reportedly in contact with federal investigators and they say they are expecting to have to provide information on their dealings with trump to the special counsel, to bob mueller. banking regular tfors are alway going through president trump's deutsche bank dealings. trump was asked if it would be a red line for him if the special prosecutor robert mueller started looking at your finances and your family finances unrelated to russia, the president responded by saying, yeah, yeah, i would say yes, i think that's a violation. if the president does want to fire robert mueller because of the russia investigation or because the russia investigation
now feels differently -- feels different to him because it has now led to the finances and business dealings of his campaign chair and the president himself. if he either with renewed urgency or newly wants to stop the russia investigation, the president cannot directly fire robert mueller, the special prosecutor. there's been a lot of wonder and exasperation today over the president starting to talk smack about his attorney general, jeff sessions, the trump loyalists of all trump loyalists. the president accused jeff sessions of lying to the senate? sworn testimony. he said he wishes he never picked jeff sessions as attorney general. he's basically asking for jeff sessions's resignation. there's been a lot of wonder over the president's turn against this guy he was so previously close to. you know what, none of us are inside the president's head. i don't know how the president feels about jeff sessions, and
neither do you. but i do know that if the president is freaked out at all by the russia investigation turning to money and business dealings and the president is concerned enough about that that he really, newly wants to try to stop this investigation, the only way he can do that is by getting rid of jeff sessions, whether or not he loves him or hates him, because jeff sessions is recused from overseeing the russia investigation now. that means jeff sessions as attorney general, can't do anything related to robert mueller. if jeff sessions left as attorney general either because he quit or trump fired him, if he's out as attorney general, trump would get to name a new attorney general. presumably someone who would not recuse himself or herself from overseeing the investigation and then that new person would become the person at the justice department overseeing bob mueller and the russia investigation he's leading. and then that new attorney
general absolutely could fire robert mueller, cooking up some cause for doing so. if you want to fire bob mueller, you have to get rid of jeff sessions, even if you love him. money laundering, foreign business and political deals, foreign real estate investment, offshore banking. that is apparently where this investigation is going now. and jared kushner is doing his first interview with congressional investigators on monday. and if he has potential criminal liability, so does his wife, ivanka, because those questions on a security clearance asks if you or a member of your family, bla, bla, bla. if he has problems about leaving stuff out on his form, so does she. and the president's eldest son, donald trump jr. is due to testify, on tv, in open session on wednesday. and the one and only paul manafort is scheduled to testify on tv and in open session next
week, wednesday. if there is a panic button for the president with regard to this investigation, this is the time you might think he'd consider hitting it. which i think probably more than anything explains what we just heard about him -- heard from him last night about jeff sessions. if he is hitting the panic button, that's what he's considering doing here, that means things may start to move very, very fast now. hold on. whoooo. finding the best hotel price is now a safe bet.
you know, it's weird, i swear i didn't plan this you know how i said before the commercial break things are going to start going fast now. so in the commercial we got new news from "the washington post." i can't say we didn't see this coming. even as i was warning you, i didn't think things would go this fast. i was telling people in my personal life that i thought we would see news like this by the end of the summer, but we see it now. with we put up the store. trump's lawyers seek to undercut mueller's russia investigation. this has just been posted by "the washington post" some of president trump's lawyers are exploring the ways to limit or undercut bob mueller's russia investigation building a case against what they believe are mueller's conflicts of interest.
and here's the part i thought we wouldn't get to until the end of the summer, and, discussing the president's authority to grant pardons. quoting again from "the washington post." trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members, and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people he asked. a second person said trump's lawyers have been discussing the president's pardoning powers among themselves. this is from the "the washington post" tonight reporting this out. they said, without a quote, but citing advisors, that quote the president is irritated by the notion that bob mueller's probe could reach into his and his family's finances. trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions he and his family could face.
he has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning that bob mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns. again this just moments ago from "the washington post." joining us now is one of the reporters who has just broken this story, ashley parker -- oh, excuse me, we're getting ashley parker on the phone right now. a little tease ahead there. in terms of the post reporting here, obviously the headline is about trying to attack mueller's investigation going after his conflict of interests, the thing that jumps off the page is the president is looking at what his pardon power is. we've been reporting in recent days on some of the difficulties, some of the apparent shakiness on the president's legal team both on
his lawyers seeming shaky and the way they've been handling information about this probe and the way they put stuff out to the public. the post is reporting tonight that the spokesman for the legal representing the president tonight has resigned that post. now, joining us by phone is one of the reporters who just broke this story in "the washington post," ashley parker. thank you for being with us. i know you're just break thing story. appreciate your time. >> thank you for having me. >> let me ask you first about the pardon discussions you guys are reporting now. you say president trump has asked his advisers about power to pardon aides, family members, even himself. you said a second person is discussing the president's pardoning powers among themselves. are you reporting that the president has made decisions about these things? is this being floated as a trial balloon? do you have any idea where they are in the decision making process? >> sure.
the way it was explained to us is certainly the president has made no decisions. it's more that the president is an avid consumer of news, he reads all these articles, he watches television and he's reading about both the expanding russia probe and also about a president's pardoning authority and as part of that he's become curious in understanding well, you know, what is actually the reach of my authority as president? what could i do? how would it work? how would this go? it was him doing his diligence and expressing curiosity, not that he's floated specific names. >> on the specific question of whether the president can pardon himself, obviously that's like a classic law school debate topic. >> yes. >> do we know what kind of advice the president has
received from his lawyers or which way his lawyers are leaning on that question as to whether they believe the president can issue himself a pardon? >> you're right. it's a very sort of confusing question and one that it feels like from us just talking to outside legal experts may end up, if he were to ever do that, getting kicked to the supreme court. as of now we know it is something that the president's team is discussing. i don't know that they have necessarily reached a conclusion. >> let me ask you about one other element of your reporting tonight. which is just stunning. i'm going to quote to you what you guys have in your piece tonight. some republicans in frequent touch with the white house say they viewed the president's decision to publically air his disappointment with attorney general jeff sessions as a warning sign jeff sessions's days were numbered. some of the aides were stunned when jeff sessions announced he would stay on at the justice department. it sown sounds like what you are reporting there is the president intended to ask for jeff sessions's resignation.
>> i don't know that the president intended to ask for his resignation. i think if he intended to ask for it, he would have done it. but also talking to people the president is savvy, he knows what he's doing when he talks to the "new york times" says what he said about the attorney general and other members of the justice department and says, you can put this all on the record. he absolutely knows what that means, what sort of message that is sending. and that is why a lot of his senior aides, to be clear some of them didn't know the president was going to do the interview. it's not like it was a well planned out strategy. but after seeing this, many were stunned when they saw sessions today say he was going to continue on as attorney general. >> is it your sense, this is something that's not touched on in your piece as far as i know. i was talking moments ago before your news came out about the
importance of the president having this political divorce with the attorney general. it would seem to me getting rid of attorney general sessions, replacing him with a new attorney general, would be an important step toward firing robert mueller if that was the president's intention. with attorney general sessions recused from the russia investigation he can have nothing to do with what robert mueller is doing if there were a new attorney general in place, that would be an attorney general that didn't have a reason to recuse, that attorney general could then fire robert mueller. that's me doing the math in terms of what i understand about how these things are put together. is that potential chain of events part of this consideration as far as you know or as far as you're able to report in terms of why the president and sessions are at lagger heads? >> well, the president and sessions have been at lagger heads basically since sessions recused himself with giving no heads up to the president. and the president thinks it's
always to fight, fight, fight. so i think the president was upset with his attorney general starting for that moment and things went downhill from there. the president and a lot of his team see sessions recusing himself set the stage for rod rosenstein to appoint mueller and on and on and on. i do have to say, this is in our story, the president's legal team there is an effort to basically try to limit and undercut mueller's probe. and they are building the case quite deliberately, publically and privately of basically, you know, among other things trying to cite conflict of interests of trying to make the case that mueller is potentially exceeding the reasonable scope of what he was tasked to do, and if i understand correctly, although i'm not a lawyer, could be reasons the president could give for starting the process to fire the special counsel. >> because there's no reason for
you to make a -- just speaking theoretically here, there's no reason to make a case against what the special prosecutor is doing because the special counsel operates independently and can't have his probe shaped by people complaining about it from the white house. the reason you come up with those undercutting arguments is to justify having set a in to fire him. >> right. and a conflict of interest is one of the reasons an attorney general can cite to remove a special counsel under doj regulations. >> ashley parker, fascinating reporting. thank you for joining us on zero notice. >> thank you for having me. >> thank you very much. this is a big deal. this has just been reported by "the washington post" the last few minutes. as ashley parker was just explaining there. the headlines says trump's lawyers are looking for ways to undercut the mueller probe. there's no way to undercut it in terms of the way these things work procedurally.
if you're coming up with reasons to discredit it, those are reasons you're coming up with to explain after the fact why you have fired him, why you have put somebody in place who can fire him. and the president asking about his power to pardon himself, his family and others. sometimes you get so far away from historical precedent of these things is that the opposite of that one has happened. i'll explain when we come back what that means. whoa! you're not taking these. hey, hey, hey! you're not taking those. whoa, whoa! you're not taking that. come with me. you're not taking that. you're not taking that. you're not taking that. mom, i'm taking the subaru. don't be late. even when we're not there to keep them safe, our subaru outback will be. (vo) love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru.
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so as we followed the breaking news tonight, consider briefly that we are now in territory so weird, the only american historical precedent for what we're going through right now is actually the opposite of what's happening now. the opposite happened once, jay howard mcgrath is a former u.s. attorney general he was fired as attorney general. he was a big deal guy, he'd be been a governor, senator, he was an ag from 1949 when harry truman fired him in 1952. there had been an investigation into corruption, that got bogged down. the attorney general refused to cooperate with some of the corruption investigation, and that's why truman fired him, because he didn't cooperate well
enough in the investigation enough into truman's investigation, and he was disgusted. i have to tell you, there is one lingering piece of advice from that 1952 experience. the current incumbent attorney general might do well to heed right now. right after the president truman fired mcgrath, jay mcgrath sent a telegram. to the guy that was picked to take his job. this was the text of the telegram. my hardiest congratulations. i suggest you bring a pair of asbestos trousers with you. "the washington post" reported moments ago that the spokesman for the president's legal team has just resigned. the president is querying his legal team on the extent of his pardon powers, including whether he can pardon himself. and "the washington post" reporting that the white house is exploring ways to cast aspersions on the special
counsel investigation that is looking into the president's campaign and connections with russia. >> joining us now is a historian and he's the guy we went to to find out if there's any precedent like this today. thank you for being here. >> thank you very much, rachel. >> this is, i know already, not like anything that's ever happened before. >> right. >> let me just ask you about the pardons issue that has just been reported on by "the washington post." they're saying the president has reportedly been asking whether he can pardon his staffers, family and himself and the attorneys are considering those matters. what should be our historical reference point for thinking about that? >> in keeping with your theme of doing the opposite of what happened before, richard nixon who was immeshed in watergate, is thought to this day to be the definition of dishonorable behavior.
he was advised by his people why don't you pardon yourself. save yourself the danger of being indicted after you leave office and maybe going to prison. and nixon said, a, the ability of a president to pardon himself that's not been established but b, it would be dishonorable and i will not do that. some of nixon's aides called him up just the day before he resigned in august of 1974, begged him to pardon him before he left office and nixon wouldn't do it because he thought that was dishonorable. obviously different than what we're seeing tonight. if donald trump thinks he can easily pardon himself and his aides and children and limit the mueller investigation, and fire jeff sessions and rod rosenstein, we are on our way if that happens to seeing a constitutional crisis that will make watergate look like a minor event in comparison.
>> michael, one of the things the president said last night, which i felt like was kind of a spotlight for where he might go for what his thinking is about, for what he hasn't done but is considering doing, is he talked about the fbi and the fact that it's sort of an historical anomaly or inappropriate that the fbi director reports up the chain to the department of justice, to the deputy attorney general and to the attorney general. he said that the fbi director should report directly to him as president, then immediately thereafter he said we're going to have a very good new fbi director. that nominee was, in fact, approved unanimously by the senate judiciary committee today. and he was explaining why the fbi director should report directly to him. was he correct in that?
>> no, he was not. i found his suggestion of an fbi director working directly for the president, reporting to him. that is absolutely blood chilling. the history of the fbi, j. edgar hoover from 1924 to 1972 when he died. it's the example of an fbi director who behaved badly and did bad things for presidents, presidents from roosevelt to nixon asked hoover to investigate their enemies and harass them, in politics to harass senators who gave them trouble, harass journalists who wrote or said bad things from them. that's what we've been trying to get away from since 1972 and that was the purpose of a ten-year term. he's suggesting turning back the clock so that presumably he would have the ability to order the fbi to investigate someone who might give him trouble on health care.
you saw what he said to dean heller yesterday at the white house. or journalists who are unhappy with various things that donald trump is doing. this is the period that we thought we were getting away from. >> michael, thank you, i have talked to you about a lot of things over the years. i have never before heard you say the words blood chilling. it's sobering and this is serious stuff. it's nice to have you here. >> thank you, my friend, and i don't say that easily. >> i know that's what freaks me out. we have the breaking news from "the washington post" tonight that the president's spokesman for his legal team has resigned, that add visors to the president say they were shocked that jeff sessions did not resign when he spoke this morning at the department of justice after what the president said about him last night. and the president is speaking to his legal team about his pardon
powers. "the new york times" posted a new piece just moments ago that suggests that at least part of the investigation into the president and his campaign may be taking a criminal turn that we did not know about before. we have that breaking news for you next. each year sarah climbs 58,007 steps. that's the height of mount everest. because each day she chooses to take the stairs. at work, at home... even on the escalator. that can be hard on her lower body, so now she does it with dr. scholl's orthotics. clinically proven to relieve and prevent foot, knee or lower back pain, by reducing the shock and stress
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his staffers but also himself. the post also reporting that the spokesman for the president's legal team has resigned. the post also reporting that the president and the white house are talking about ways to try to discredit bob mueller and his special counsel investigation. that presumably would be used either to retroactively explain actions that they set in motion to fire bob mueller or to try to make the case to deputy attorney general rod rosenstein if he stays in his post that he should fire bob mueller. that reported by "the washington post." moments ago we also just got new reporting from "the new york times." i'll read you the lead here. president trump's lawyers and aides are scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel, bob mueller, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation. so this is a variety of the same information that "the washington post" is also reporting this evening. according to the times, some of the investigators hired by
mueller have vast experience prosecuting financial malfeasance and the prospect that mueller's inquiry has stoked fears among the president's aides. mueller's team -- and this is new -- has begun examining financial records and has requested documents from the irs related to mr. trump's former campaign chair, paul manafort. the records are from a criminal tax investigation that had been opened long before trump's campaign began. paul manafort was never charged in that case. "the new york times" also just reporting moments ago that marc kasowitz, who previously had been the president's lead lawyer in his russia representation will be taking a significantly reduced role in that team. also bloomberg has reported today -- this is the news that really drove the day -- greg farrell at bloomberg reported that the investigation into the trump campaign's relationship with russia not only has folded
in a pre-existing investigation of paul manafort that was in place before this mueller investigation started, but the mueller investigation and other investigators are also now looking at the president's finances and his business transactions directly. greg farrell is the laed reporter on that for bloomberg. he joins us now. thank you very much for being here. it's a lot to summarize, a lot to absorb. the new information that you're putting to the fore, which seems to be freaking the white house out is that the president's business dealings and personal finances are in the bull's-eye now for these investigators. >> yes. what we now know, what we weren't sure before, is how expansive a view of his mandate bob mueller would take. it's clear in this initial two months that he's looking back beyond a decade to apartment sales to russian nationals here, to a beauty pageant in moscow in 2013, to a 2008 sale of a florida property that you've
spoken about before for twice the price to a russian oligarch in 2008. anything that -- any financial transactions involving russians, particularly those like the florida one that seemed not to make sense at first glance. >> i'm glad you mentioned that one. the palm beach house sale. one of the president's lawyers, jay sekulow tonight singled that out to "the washington post" as something that they're complaining about with regard to the mueller investigation, saying this years ago house sale couldn't conceivably related to the campaign or to any investigation into whether there was a connection between the trump campaign and russia. they're singling that out as something that's ridiculous to be focusing on. what do you think the rebuttal will be? why would investigators be looking at that? >> well, any influence that the russians might have had in the election last year through the trump campaign didn't just begin on january 1st, 2016. relationships get built up over time, and the reason, i think, that mueller's team needs to
look back a decade or more is to see if there's a consistent flow of either money, influence, some kind of pattern that would indicate someone feels indebted to someone else. so that's why it can't be built, you could say for the past two years everything is fine and if you stop in 2015, there's absolutely no interactions with russia. yes, but previous interactions might have led to a certain place where a neutral observer would think otherwise. >> when we spoke before, one of the things we talked about before was access to information, whether investigators can get their hands on everything they need. do you know if there's any problems with that regard? >> so far, not that i know of. it's early enough that i think the white house is also finding out what's going on and what's happening. we're not at a place now that i'm aware of any wrangling over we're not going to give this. one area that will be difficult, and it's going to take some time, and these are seasoned
investigators who i'm sure they started right on this in late may and early june, is requesting bank records from foreign banks. here in the u.s., you issue a subpoena, and that compels the bank to comply and turn over records. but as we've seen in other doj investigations involving european banks, you have to go through a certain treaty. >> that can take some time. >> that can take months and depending on how cooperative certain nations are going to be, it could take many months. >> greg farrell, investigative reporter at bloomberg news. really important work. thanks for helping us understand it. we'll be right back. stay with us. whoooo.
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so this has been a night of some sort of disturbing breaking news out of washington in terms of how radical it looks like the president's defense is going to get on this trump/russia investigation. i do have some good news, though. frankly there's nobody i'd rather hear from in the world right now than lawrence o'donnell. >> at this hour, that may be the best we can do for good news. you just did an amazing job of keeping up with this as it was happening during your hour. none of the information that you've spent the last 40 minutes on existed when you started at 9:00 p.m. tonight, and it has been a stunning thing to watch develop. we keep coming back to that unprecedented. we keep looking back at the nixon model, and what you see right away is this is far, far beyond the nixon model already. there was legal opinion given in the nixon white house at the time to the president that there