tv The Beat With Ari Melber MSNBC July 24, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
nominee in relatively close senate races, indiana and missouri. so, yes, while the trump base is powerful, there is no proof that republicans on the hill owe their jobs to the president's coattails. that's all for tonight. the premiere of the beat with ari starts right now. ari, we're totally psyched. good evening. >> thank you, chris, i appreciate that. good evening to you as well. jared kushner did not receive the spotlight but he faced investigators. why did he meet with so many russians? why the talk of back trails and hillary clinton today? curb ner revealed his answer. when things went wrong, he wasn't paying attention. jared kushner came out swinging not with a tweet like his father-in-law, the method so many white house aides deploy to reach the box. no, kushner made his case in a carefully crafted statement for congressional investigators. he lays out a simple story.
he was overworked, out of the loop and unaware of any suspicious activities around him. this is an ignorance defense. kushner describing the challenges of a political novice navigating a campaign jumping between thousands of meetings and making it all up as he went along. he also cast himself as a foreign policy expert huddling with henry kissinger, in polling and digital. an adviser so essential he was everywhere. one story, two jareds. which is it? is jared kushner a political mastermind or overwhelmed rookie? it was apparently the rookie who showed up to the infamous meeting with russians promising dirt on hillary clinton. kushner said he didn't read through the e-mail he got about the meeting, the subject line was russia-clinton private and confidential. when he decided he wanted to leave the meeting he e-mailed his assistant, quote, can you please call me on my cell. need excuse to get out of the meeting. it was also apparently a rookie who had to ask an associate what is the name of the russian
ambassador? kushner offers the quotes to show he couldn't possibly collude through meetings he wanted to bail on with people he couldn't even name. at the white house today, kushner reiterated his denial. >> let me be very clear. i did not collude with russia, nor do i know if anyone else in the campai didgn whoo. i had no improper contacts. i have not relied on russian funds for my businesses. and i have been fully transparent in providing all requested information. >> there are four claims there, collusion, contacts, financing and transparency. collusion, the big question mark for the special counsel. contacts are debatable here. while kushner's ignorance defense might hold up for earlier in the campaign, it seems to fall apart for any russian meetings after october 7th, when the u.s. publicly announced russians were
criminally meddling in the election and kushner went on to meet with a russian diplomat and banker in december. financing is another question. the kushners have debts around the world. and transparency is a fail. kushner submitted incomplete or misleading information to the ethics office, and the fbi about his money and his russia meetings. which is part of why he had to meet with investigators today. now, kushner says those filings were an innocent mistake. call it a rookie mistake if you want. and maybe that's what they were. it is a long ways from paperwork errors and suspicious behavior to an international election conspiracy. but if jared kushner is so innocent and so out of the loop and so forgetful, why is he in charge of so much at the white house? i'm joined by nick ackerman, a former watergate special prosecutor, and michael kaputo, a former trump campaign adviser who testified about russia before the same committee
kushner will face tomorrow and his company website describes him as the only executive in history who worked for both the white house and the kremlin. nick, do you see anything wrong with kushner's defense that he was innocent and just out of the loop? >> if you read through it, it is very carefully drafted, such that he basically lies about everything. he's got himself out of every single situation. for example, the june 9th meeting. he claims he didn't read the e-mails. he claims he didn't know what it was about. even though he shows up at 4:00 when he's told in a subsequent e-mail that the meeting was starting later. he says that he didn't know what was discussed at the meeting. no idea it was russians. even though he says they were talking about adoption. and of course, they had to be talking in russian, because at least two of the people there only spoke russian, with a russian interpreter. he basically took himself out of any knowledge of anything to do with anything. i mean, that's basically if a guy is going to come into a grand jury and purposely lie,
and knows what the contours are of what he can get away with, this was exhibit a in that routine. >> elizabeth, he casts himself as overworked, and not necessarily detail oriented. does that match with the person you worked for, that you knew? >> no. he has a -- you know, he has a good work ethic. it's possible he was working harder than he's accustomed to. in terms of the detail orientation, i find it implausible he would show up to a meeting without knowing what it was about. he's a busy guy. in my experience, every meeting we had was planned and scheduled, and he always had an agenda for it. >> when he showed up at a meeting with you, he knew what they were about? >> yeah. i don't find it credible that he had no idea these meetings were about. >> you acted with mr. kushner and other aides during the campaign. do you find it credible? >> absolutely. there's a steady flow of unannounced meetings that were going on around the fifth floor,
26th floor. there's always especially in the late summer -- i'm sorry, the late spring, early summer when everybody started realizing that donald trump was on the way to locking this up, we were getting inquiries all across the spectrum, including, you know, people from other countries as well. this isn't unusual at all. and i think when you realize that, you know, i worked with many developers, who ran for office, and people in their family who tried to be helpful. and instead, made a couple of mistakes. i don't see this as anything more than someone from the family who wants to be helpful, falling into a trap, that he shouldn't -- you know, that he wasn't aware of. >> nick ackerman, another interesting part in the way he makes the defense here is with regard to how he wanted to approach russia. i mean, reading it now from the statement. he said i asked kislyak if he would identify the best person to have direct discussions to have contacts with his president. he said the fact that i was
asking for ways to start a dialogue after election day should be viewed as strong evidence i was not aware of one that existed before election day. as a prosecutor, what do you make of what he's doing there in that argument? >> he's just trying to turn things around. that makes absolutely no sense. he knew he was walking into a meeting with the russians. if he read that e-mail, which i'm sure he did, this is the oldest trick in the book. oh, i never read the e-mail, i just happened to show up at the meeting. >> you think he's lying? >> i think he's lying. look at the significance of that meeting. what he also says is he knows nothing about the russian documents that were promised in the june 4th e-mail. the fact remains, those russian documents i will guarantee you were hacked out of the hillary clinton campaign, they were provided to the trump campaign. trump called up roger stone and asked him, how do we put these out without having us tainted by them. >> you say guaranteed, but you don't have direct evidence. >> i don't have direct evidence, but my common sense and connecting the dots here, why
would roger stone be talking to julian as sauj and the russian hacker. he wasn't just making calls to enhance his christmas card list. there was a reason he did that. if you look at the time line, 14 days, actually a week later, gusofe has the documents on his private website. what happens on july 22nd or 23rd, wikileaks publishes the first cache of documents that they came up with. >> right. >> and the only person from the trump campaign who had contact with both sides was roger stone. >> michael, there is a time line there, and there is public circumstantial evidence which doesn't end the story. had you read this e-mail that jared kushner said he didn't read, would you have attended that meeting with opponents posing dirt on your opponent? >> neither existed inside the trump campaign, so i can see how this would happen. but also, the narrative --
>> i'm asking you, would you attend a meeting like that knowing what you know? obviously jared kushner -- >> no, i would kick that upstairs. i would kick that upstairs right away. because of the fact that it tempts fate. and gets a little dicey when you're talking about foreign governments. i understand if you look at those e-mails, i don't read every bit of every e-mail i get. i think it's dubious for mr. ackerman to expect everybody does. i think everybody out there watching understands that when you get a long drawn-out e-mail and you're under fire and under the gun going from meeting to meeting, you might look at the first couple of sentences. of course. the idea that somehow or another this is an indication that there's widespread collusion in the trump campaign, i just -- i don't know where you get that tin foil hat. to me, it seems jared kushner is being honest, and forthright. i'm satisfied with it. i know we've got to get to the bottom of all of this stuff, especially that june 9 meeting, but to sit here and think this is some kind of smoking gun is
really delusional. >> nobody on set is wearing a hat at this moment as a factual matter. elizabeth? >> i think at the very least, you have to consider that his best defense here is that i was completely ignorant of process and i'm incompetent. >> that's not true. >> hold on, nick, and then michael. and then we've got to go because senator booker is joining me next. >> this is the typical white collar defense, i'm overwhelmed. i used to have this all the time. i'm so busy. i have so many things to do. i just didn't know i was committing a crime. >> of course, you hear that a lot because it happens a lot. that's a defense that works a lot and it's going to work in this case, too, because it's just the truth. >> elizabeth, he also said he was not representing his business when he went to these other meetings. >> yeah. you know, he says very specifically, i didn't rely on the russians for financing, but that strikes me as a very lawyered articulation. he said he didn't rely on it,
doesn't mean he doesn't have any russian financing. it just means the business wouldn't necessarily fall apart if the russian financing went away. >> that's an interesting point, the word rely, as an editor in chief. michael, i'll have you back if you'll join us. nick and elizabeth and michael, appreciate it. thank you for joining me. >> great to be on your very first show. >> awesome. i appreciate it. now, senator, you heard this. today kushner saying he hopes the information he's provided on the russia meetings will put these matters, quote, to rest. in your view did he put these matters to rest today? >> i wasn't in the hearing, but there is certainly not to rest. i'm one of those people that finds this astonishing that the folks who were the recipients of that e-mail and who attended that meeting wouldn't have understood that this is a serious violation of united states laws. they were seeking to collude, the russians, foreign agents
were seeking to collude with the trump campaign. they should have turned that information over when those e-mails came through. in that meeting they should have realized what was attempting to take place is way out of the pale, and frankly, an assault on our country. and to me, patriotism would have mandated even, just to make sure the authorities knew this was going on. >> at that white house presentation today, jared kushner said, they won because they ran a better campaign. is that in your view even relevant at this point to the inquiry? >> it's not relevant at all. i really think that americans should understand that any political strike whatsoever, the gravity of what's going on. i've met with leaders from lafayette, estonia, lithuania, i've been to ukraine and poland. the russians are in a hybrid war on western democracy, whether it's the actual conflict going on in eastern ukraine or undermining free elections. they have most recently assaulted the united states.
our nation, our sovereign status, our elections themselves, the foundation of our democracy has been attacked by a foreign power. and now that they've not been checked, do they even seem to be minimized by the president of the united states. we can all be confident no matter what party you're in that the next elections, to 18, 2020, 2024, that the russians are going to continue to get more sophisticated to try to undermine our elections. we need to get to the bottom of this, we need a president and his top advisers to be seeing the gravity and seriousness of this and taking it seriously, to be prepared to do some of this. even the fact that we're looking to push sanctions this week in the house and the senate, bipartisan agreement, and the white house has been trying to throw water on this effort, is just to me unacceptable, if not outrageous. and frankly, there's a lot of behavior going on in the white house that makes me think this is how people wld behave if they wer guiy of collude. >> walk us through the sanctions.
97-2 in the senate, and going to the house, i don't know what you hear from your constituents, i hear from some people, it feels like nothing matters. it feels like negative, or concerning things about the government are exposed, and then there's no consequence or accountability. put that in contrast with what appears to be happening this week, which is a bipartisan effort, the congress now united to stop trump from having more personal sway over russia policy. >> look, there's a lot of my colleagues down here in private conversations who find much of what's coming out of the white house, not only beneath the dignity of the white house, and i'm happy to hear republican colleagues just as offended by the shattering of the norms that the trump white house is doing. but when it comes to the defense of this nation, you can be sure there are patriots on both sides of the aisle here in congress. and everybody understands the sophistication. we've all sat in enough classified hearings, briefings to know the sophistication with which the russians are working, as i'm speaking with their efforts on social media, to
undermine our democracy, especially the electoral process, especially with their propaganda. and so folks here want that checked. and they know putin is the kind of player that if he's not checked, if his force isn't met with force, he's going to continue to push the envelope, see how far he can go, how much mischief, chaos, how much he can do at undermining our democracy. i'm so happy that the senate almost in a unanimous vote, voted to put sanctions on the russians. and i'm so happy that the house resisted white house attempts to undermine this becoming law. now we're going to hopefully send it over to the president for him to sign. >> and to sign something interesting, which is sort of him tying his own hands on that. senator booker, i want to ask you about the challenge that president trump issued to democrats today on health care policy. please stay with me for a moment. republicans heading for another health care vote tomorrow. we're going to talk with senator booker about what that means. are dems winning or just
watching republicans lose? was donald trump better at pretending to fire people on the "apprentice" than actually doing it as president? we're going to look at this slow-motion shakeup leaving his staff in apparent limbo. our special report on trump's tax returns. how can special counsel robert mueller get them, and will the public even know when he does? you're watching the beat, and we will be right back. when you have something you love, you want to protect it. at legalzoom, our network of attorneys can help you every step of the way. with an estate plan
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>> they run out, they say, death, death, death. obamacare is death. that's the one that's death. besides that, it's failing. so you won't have it anyway. they're obstructionists. that's all they're good at is obstruction. >> we can also report for you this hour, top republicans saying they're trying to get a special doctor approval for senator mccain to come back tomorrow during his recovery so he can participate in this health care vote. back with me as promised is senator cory booker. you heard the president there. do you see these people as victims of bowl krair? >> first of all, i want to say my prayers are with john mccain. i had a conversation with him. i'm actually one of the folks that hopes he comes back. he's a fighter and i'm looking forward to wrestling with him on this issue. >> absolutely. >> but there's just outrage in that statement. for two really particular reasons. one is, you know, the american medical association doesn't say that. they actually say his trump care
is going to cause death rates to go up and savagely hurt american people. the american cancer association, nurses association, the aarp, all of the health care organizations, nonpartisan os, are screaming right now. in fact, last week we had insurance companies themselves weigh in to talk about what donald trump is trying to do, as dangerous to tens of millions of americans and health care. for him to say that is objectionable for that obvious reason. the second reason, this is what should be concerning everyone, is what he is doing to so-called obamacare to the affordable care act, he himself, right before he got elected, standard and poor's said the mark place was strong. and what he has done in the short time that he has been there to weaken the marketplaces by putting in all this uncertainty, by all of these threats. insurance companies in my own state talk about not necessarily his unwillingness to put in cost sharing, his failure to advertise, to get more folks,
healthy young folks to enroll. >> senator, you're making such an important point here about not the overall policy, which the congress will continue to debate, but what are the obligations of the federal government under the current policy? i see you had a new letter with several other folks we can put up on the screen where you are basically arguing this administration might be violating the anti-lobbying act because they're using government resources and social media to advocate lobbying and repeal. can you tell us about that effort, and do you think they're violating the law? >> i have a lot of concerns and questions. thanks to the leadership of brian schots, that you have the federal agencies like the commerce department working to try to undermine and kill congressional intent, congressional legislation. a lot of the tactics they're using right now are, to me, seem on the face, abjectly political and frankly dangerous for people benefiting from the affordable care act.
we wanted to check that behavior, expose it and try to stop it. but again, this is an administration that in so many different ways is trying to tell people that obamacare is failing out front publicly, but behind its back it's stabbing it in the back multiple times trying to kill the affordable care act. opposed to what americans want, and i've been out on the road hearing this from people all over the state saying, why can't you all sit down and say, let's keep all the americans that the people love about the affordable care act and fix some of the things that need to be fixed. that's what people want. they want him to fulfill his promises. i think we've gotten to the point in america, it's amazing when i talk to large audiences, americans fundamentally believe life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and the right to have quality health care and affordable health care. that's what the president promised. now he's delivering the exact opposite of that. >> senator, before i let you go, all the talk about jeff sessions standing, are you concerned that
the president may remove the attorney general and that it would be related to trying to remove the special counsel, or are we just not there yet? >> nobody more than me tried to stop jeff sessions from being put in that office. metaphorically i drew myself on the railroad tracks trying to stop that train. i'm appalled at what he's doing, rolling back civil rights efforts, what he's doing on the reigniting the drug war 2.0. but clearly, this is a president that is undermining his own attorney general. and again, this is just norm smashing left and right. and i'm not sure what is going to happen. frankly, i have concerns about not just firing jeff sessions, but concerns about the special prosecutor. that's why tomorrow i'm introducing, in a matter of hours i'm introducing legislation to try to make sure that the president can't just fire a special prosecutor, that it has to be for cause and that the judicial branch should have a say in whether there is legitimate cause or not. >> very interesting.
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. donald trump got really famous for pretending to fire people. >> you're fired. >> stacy, you're fired. >> you're fired. >> ian, you're fired. >> terrell, you're fired. >> i've been firing people all my life. that's not like a big deal. >> it's also not like a big deal when the people being fired aren't really being fired because they are contestants on an entertainment show. even after his election, trump invoked his catch phrase in explaining what would happen to his kids if they didn't do a good job running the family business while he ran the country. >> i hope at the end of eight years i'll come back and say,
oh, you did a good job. otherwise if they do a bad job, i'll say, you're fired. >> will he, though? as president, it turns out donald trump struggles to fire people working for him. that's the unifying thread in several dilemmas that are consuming the white house. consider donald trump's dissatisfaction with sean spicer. he sidelined him further last week until spicer quit. similarly passive/aggressive approach to diminishing reince priebus. trump wants him to get the hint that he should leave. the same for jeff sessions. with the president criticizing him in an interview last week. and tweeting sessions is, quote, our beleaguered ag and investigating hillary clinton. people remember trump's nicknames from the primary, is beleaguered a.g. the new lying ted? >> should jeff sessions resign? [ laughter ]
>> meanwhile, some trump allies are leaking that sessions should go ahead and resign if he has indeed lost the president's confidence. translation -- he should fire himself if trump won't. joining me now a former adviser to president obama and hillary clinton, president of the center for community change action. nera, why is this hard for him? >> i think firing people is an element of being a ceo. and it just points out that the entire -- you know, he was good at firing people on a tv show, which wasn't really real. that's very different from real life, which he obviously has problems with. but firing problem is part of being a ceo. it's not just firing people, he's run a white house that if a company ran a white house that had so many divisions that leaked against each other, that
was ineffective in producing results, a board would stage an intervention and fire that ceo. unfortunately we can't do that with president trump. >> it's really bizarre in a certain managerial level, listening to donald trump saying in "the new york times" issue literally saying he wish he hadn't hired jeff session sgls how do you take a job and recuse yourself. if he had recused himself before the job, i would have said, thanks, jeff, but i'm not going to hire you. it's extremely unfair, and that's the mild word, to the president. >> it may be a mild word in his lexicon, dorian, but obviously what's left unsaid is if he's concluded this, he could make a staffing change. he seemed unable to take the next step. >> he could. here's the problem. nobody wants to work for him now because they understand that they'll be thrown under the bus like he did with jeff sessions and some previous folks. let's remember, how well is that
firing comey working out, right? if everybody in here that you actually have hired are not doing a good job, who do you choose to fire next? if everybody essentially sucks. the issue here is really the lack of good hiring in the first place. so actually i partly agree with him on that. he hasn't made good choices. in fact, his administration is much slower than the previous administrations in filling senior level positions. so he's making bad choices. when he does, he throws them under the bus. the people that could be nominated for important positions are talking to head hunters who are saying don't do it, it will ruin your reputation. >> you mentioned the comey firing. neera, there's a former giuliani prosecutor with a new piece out that got a lot of attention in conservative legal circles because he points out that had only donald trump directly fired comey, this might have all gone differently. but instead he claimed to rely on the doj recommendation which
we all recommend, right? it's because you were fired because i think sessions and rosenstein told me to fire you. but two days later, that wasn't the case. he says, this firing was basically feeding the democrats' narrative comey was removed to stop the russia probe. that's in the "national review." >> yeah, i would like to step back and just point out that he fired comey, he said he fired him because of the russia investigation, or thinking about the russia investigation when he fired him. we've had a whole series of actions. it's not like it fed a democratic narrative. this has been a trump created message, which is, he's obsessed with russia. he tweets about it every day. he harangues his own doj. his own attorney general. i mean, from a management perspective, he could have this conversation with jeff sessions. he chooses to have it with "the new york times." who wants to work for somebody
who's going to publicly humiliate them on a daily basis? now we're reaching 10, 11, 12 people who worked for him, who h he has publicly humiliated. and i say this is -- i mean, the most dysfunctional white house i have ever seen. and i think more and more republicans, independents and democrats see that it's also unable to deliver results for the people. >> i want to thank you for your time. and insights. as for the dysfunction of the white house, we'll get another view from within the white house from the assistant to the president. and the report that we've been promising on president trump's tax returns. how special counsel robert mueller could legally get his hands on them, and potentially soon. this is crabfest at red lobster. and right now, we're serving up more delicious crab than ever.
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we are back with a special report on robert mueller's investigation into the trump campaign's links to russia, which may include probing trump's finances. news of that is trump's claim that it would be a violation for mueller to look at his dealings. >> is that a red line? >> that would be a breach of what his actual -- >> i would say yes. i would say yes. i think that's a violation. look, this is about russia.
>> trump told his aides he was, quote, especially disturbed after learning mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns. the "washington post" reporting trump has resisted enormous pressure to keep his tax returns private. that's his choice. what we look at is whether mueller had the authority to get trump's taxes and how soon he could get them. there is good and bad news here for trump. the good news is in general the law does support his secretive approach to his taxes. taxes are private under federal law. leaking them is a felony that could land you in prison for five years. the bad news for trump is that all changed once this criminal investigation began. if the irs suspects crimes relating to tax fraud, the irs can send the tax returns to the chief tax prosecutor, the justice department, for investigation. now, that post is currently held by david hubert, seen here testifying before congress just last month. if there's no tax crime suspected but the tax returns
are relevant evidence in a criminal investigation, then a prosecutor can pursue them like any other evidence. you go to a judge, and you ask for a subpoena for the taxes. and the bad news for trump, the standard here is pretty lax. the prosecutor just has to show that a crime probably occurred, and the tax returns are relevant to investigating it. for mueller, one crime on the table is the russian hacking felony. and trump's taxes can be relevant to checking whether there are links to russians who may be involved. if mueller west to court for trump's taxes, would we know? the answer is, almost certainly not. because this is a secret order under the law, which means mueller can lawfully get the taxes without the white house or the public knowing. in fact, the highlights of these taxes would only become public if they were used for later indictnts potentiallyr repos to congress. so is mueller pursuing them? we have a very special guest for this. carolyn is the former assistant
attorney general for the doj's tax division. the office that is relevant. does special counsel mueller have a strong legal argument for getting trump's tax returns? >> first of all, let me say thank you for inviting you on the show. congratulations on your new show. >> thank you. >> i think we have to step back and not assume that special counsel mueller doesn't already have the tax returns. tax returns are an important tool in criminal tax investigations, and federal criminal investigations, nontax investigations. they provide a treasure trove of information. and it's more likely than not that he's already considered, if not already obtained the tax returns. >> you think based on your experience being in that tax prosecutor's office in the doj, you think it's likely mueller already has trump's taxes? >> the tax returns are frequently obtained if in criminal investigations, so therefore, based on the nature of this investigation, it is
more likely than not that he has already sought the tax returns. >> wow. because a lot of people, i mean, you're more on the legal side, but on a political side, during the campaign, this was the thing everyone was talking about, will we receive them. absent a criminal inquiry they would be under lock and key. but you're saying mueller can get them? >> it's important to remember that with respect to the tax returns, special counsel has the authority to seek an order from the federal judge. it's not public. to obtain the tax returns. once he has those tax returns, he can use that information in preparing for and conducting a grand jury investigation. it doesn't mean that he can make the returns public. the returns only become public in a court proceeding if they're probative to the matter related to the investigation, or the case. >> could they show links to other countries? >> certainly. one of the reasons the tax returns may be of interest in this investigation is that taxpayers are required to report
their foreign financial assets, they're required to report their interest in foreign trusts or real estate transactions, interest received from third parties. certainly they're relevant in this investigation. >> lastly before i let you go, you mentioned something i never heard of before, a super special pinnacle request to get someone's taxes? >> yes. if the irs has not referred the matter over to the department of justice, along with the tax returns, the department can seek the tax returns through what we have referred to inside the department as a pinnacle request. it means that you go to the highest level of the department, either the attorney general, deputy attorney general, or assistant attorney general, and they make a request. but this is an extremely extraordinary step to take. >> did you ever see it happen? >> no, not during my tenure and i'm not aware of one being issued. >> a tax prosecutor that knows this area, thank you very much. >> thank you. we're going to turn back to the white house. we've been talking about jared
kushner's very public moment in the first six months of the trump administration when he spoke outside the white house, after leaving an interview that he said was voluntary to clear the air about any questions about russia before the senate intelligence committee. how did his performance go over in the building behind him? was the president watching and what does he think? i'm very happy to say deputy assistant to the president joins us. sebastian, i want to get your response to the former tax prosecutor on the air who said it would be lawful and appropriate for the special counsel to review the president's taxes. do you share that view? >> i'm not going to comment on the special counsel, but i was there. i spoke to jared just before he came out of the doors of the west wing. i spoke to him afterwards and i congratulated him, a wonderful testment to the transparency of this administration. again, another example of how we have nothing to hide, there is no russian connection and just the obsess session of the media,
punctured like a balloon. >> do you know what the president thought of mr. kushner's remarks today? >> i haven't spoken to the president since jared gave his statement outside the west wing. but i'll see him tomorrow on the way to ohio. so maybe after i speak to him tomorrow. >> what do you see as a key to the obamacare votes tomorrow, and this week, given that the white house hasn't yet moved enough republicans to do repeal? will straight repeal be any different than the replace and repeal votes? >> i think really it's a matter of personal conscience. we've asked our colleagues on the hill to really do the right thing. in the last eight years, we've seen obamacare implode. it's a disaster. before i came into government, my deductibles, my premiums were skyrocketing, and i'm just one of millions of people out there. if they want to do right by the american people that elected donald j. trump to become their
president, one of our platforms was obamacare. now it's up to the hill to follow through on the eight years they have been promising the american people to repeal and replace, and hopefully they will look in the mirror and do the right thing. >> what is the white house's legislative strategy at this point? is it that the president will sign anything, but not get involved in the details? as you know, there was a debate about the cruz proposal, there are debates about different ways to do this. now a debate over straight appeal which is a hard vote, because many republicans said that would be irresponsible. the thing that now is getting voted on is something many are on record is saying not the way to do this. is the president an all-in strategy, we'll sign anything, or are you guys going to pick specific legislative goals here? >> look, the president is the ultimate pragmatist. you look at what he succeeded in doing as a billionaire developer in the private sector before he came into government. you look at what he's done already in just 26 weeks, whether it's with illegal
migration, plummeting by 70%, revitalizing nato, helping iraqis in mosul. he said last week and before, he's sitting in this building over my shoulder pen in hand, ready to sign what they will pass. and hopefully it will be what we're expecting. which is a fix for the american people. >> is there a cutoff? if you don't get the vote you want here this week, do you move on to other issues? or is it just continuing no matter what, more and more obamacare votes until this thing is repealed? >> look, i don't want to steal the president's thunder, and another thing that we do a little bit differently from the other administration is that we don't give our game play away. that's not good, whether it's a strategic issue or whether you're playing poker at a table. you don't show your hand. right now the pressure is on the hill. to get it done. because the president is ready.
if that doesn't happen, then we'll be very sad for that result. and we'll see what we have to do next. but right now, it is incumbent upon the legislature to do the right thing by the american people. >> you mentioned other folks being more obsessed with russia than the white house. but it's the president who continues to raise the topic in tweets and interviews. with regard to attorney general jeff sessions who by the president's own words has lost some of his confidence, is there any issue other than russia that accounts for that? >> no. look, let's look at the fact, let's not look at the fake news industrial complex. look at the policies we've put in place in the first six months of this add m. tell me one policy that hasn't been hardlined with regards to russia. look at what we've done with defense spending. look at -- >> but i understand -- the question, though, is there an issue besides russia, because the president went to "the new york times," unhappy with jeff sessions and the reason he cited was his approach to russia.
is there any other reason? >> no, no, look, again, the issue is the recusal, okay? that was a disappointment, and the president made clear to "the new york times" that that was a disappointment. and that should surprise nobody. the idea that you remove yourself from that process, and you don't inform the person who is your superior, why would anybody be surprised at the president's statement. i wasn't. nor should jeff sessions. >> i want to make sure we're not talking past each other. the recusal from the russia investigation. so the president isn't saying he's unhappy with the attorney general's approach to immigration or drug running or -- >> no, no, no, he made that clear. >> he said in regard to the russia investigation. >> he's made clear that the attorney general has his vote of confidence. he's one of the most loyal, toughest individuals in the cabinet, in the meetings of the principals. he's perhaps one of the people that most represents the kind of mentality that got the president elected. so absolutely it is simply that
matter. >> sebastien gorka, i appreciate getting the trump white house's view. i hope you'll join us again. >> i'd be delighted. straight ahead, donald trump writing his own script. rob reiner is here, that's straight ahead. this is a story about mail and packages. and it's also a story about people and while we make more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country, we never forget... that your business is our business the united states postal service. priority: you
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you don't. you partner with a firm that advises governments and the fortune 500, and, can deliver insight person to person, on what matters to you. morgan stanley. you ever feel like we're in a movie? that's what a lot of people have been saying about the first six months of this very active and at times chaotic presidency.
if you follow that analogy, president trump would be a character who managed to write and direct. new york times column nest said something interesting about this. she explained that trump has been able to defy political gravity by recasting himself. it's very reminisce ept of who framed roger rabbit where you have the toons interacting. trump is a toon and acting as a toon and reporters keep trying to treat him as a human. doud is of course citing the classic 1998 film who framed roger rabbit where humans interacted with the toons. and that's how they related because cartoons are not like people. >> drink the drink. >> i don't want the drink. >> he doesn't want the drink. >> he does. >> i don't. >> you do. >> i don't. >> you do. >> i don't. >> you don't. >> i do. >> you don't. >> i do. >> listen, when i say i do, that means i do.
>> so under this lens president trump would be a cartoon in a human world. cartoons don't have to follow the rules. they are the exceptions to the rules and can make their own rules, at least until humans catch up with them. i have famed director rob reiner as well as michael steele. two dramatic and insightful men. rob, what do you think about understanding donald trump as a toon? >> i think, you know, that's -- that's demeaning toons. this guy is below toons. he is in some kind of other level. if you went into an office in hollywood and you pitched the idea of this idiot becoming president of the united states from a reality show, they would throw you out of the office. but i have to say one thing
that, i've been watching all of, you know, unfolding saga of this trump russia thing. and the one thing that nobody seems to talk about is, let's say for the sake of argue. . first of all, i don't believe that jared kushner and don junior didn't know what was happening in that meeting. but let's assume for the sake of argument, that they didn't know it, they are idiots, they didn't know what was going on, there was a man and michael steele knows better than anybody, there is man sitting in the office, paul manafort. this guy has been around campaigns for the last 40 years. he is a professional. he is trained. he knows it. if he got that e-mail, he would then immediately say, this is against the law. we are breaking the law by taking this meeting. he would make sure that don junior wasn't there and -- >> i will point one thing out, rob. this is a classic situation where i want to talk to you
about movies and you want to talk to me about politics and law. which i totally respect. >> that's important. >> nobody talks about that. >> rob, rob, you are making an important point, right? even if you buy the ignorance defense and you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, that both jared kushner and don junior didn't know that paul manafort ran a firm called manafort, black and stone and spent 25 years doing consulting for governments and there is no way the e-mail shows up ignorantly. >> he would know full well by goi going to that meeting he was breaking a campaign law. he was breaking an election law. no question about it. michael knows that very well. >> michael, dealer's choice. can you talk about roger rabbit o are jared kushner. >> all right. let's do a little bit of both. first off, the roger rabbit analysis here. i think what we are kind of forgetting and what the piece
that you cited forgets is that our cartoon is drawn. it is not real. it does what you ultimately want it to do and that is not the situation here. we can't control what we find the president in. the reality is instead of trying to look at him through a cartoonish lens deal with the man as you see him and then bring the game directly to him. that's what i think ultimately donald trump respects more than anything else. he graph tats towards vladimir putin. he like the sense of power thrust in his direction and being in that orbit. so bring the game to him. republicans, bring the game to him. push back in that regard and see what happens. >> rob, take michael's point but recognize that courtesy of donald trump, the game done changed. >> yes. yes. it has changed. but here eat thing. you know, and david buoy, a
great lawyer, said one time, you can say of what you wanton television. we know, we talk about it all the time, he lies and doesn't tell the truth and all. can you say what you want on television. but when you get into a court of law or you get into a situation where you're under oath you cannot make stuff up. you have to tell the truth. he is now under investigation along with his whole administration. so the rules will change. he can manipulate the rules now and be a cartoon all he wants, but in a court of law, it's not going to play. >> michael, briefly? >> yeah. i think that's right. i think that's the achilles heel here is that you've got robert mueller, senate house investigations. you have people going in and testifying under oath. we haven't heard a peep out of flynn and that side of the equation at all. we don't know what robert muler is gathering. what he does know, doesn't know. there is a lot more to be explored here that president,
despite maybe a level of cockiness and trying to gain the system by threatening the attorney general, that he is going to have to confront. >> michael steele, rob reiner, thank you so much. that does it for me. thanks for watching our debut, we're back tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. eastern. you can find on on facebook and water, @thebeatwithari. chris matthews starts now. >> whatever it takes, let's play hard ball. ♪ ♪ ♪ hall good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. we begin an explosive week if trump land. anything is possible. president trump displaced no limits to what he will do to protect himself. he accept node limits of what he will do now. the presidency is his and he will use every weapon at hand. the greatest of which is his