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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  October 12, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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that live in bangladesh and philippines and wherever else. and they're not like the u.s. government where we can say, yes, we have a right to free speech on this. >> xeni and max, thank you both. that is "all in" this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. >> it's been a busy news day. kist jen nielsen was nominated to lead dhs. if her nomination is approved, she'll go back to the homeland security department to be the new person running that agency. she's known for her ex ppertisen cybersecurity. she's not seen as totally
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unsuited to this position and conflicts of interest that would preclude her from this position and she's been known as a mainstream republican, i believe a jeb bush republican during the primaries. that might preclude her from getting a job in this administration but they rolled out that nomination today and so far for whatever reason the pro trump media machine doesn't seem to be going nuts about her. homeland security department has had nobody running it since july but kirsjen nielsen has now been nominated. and the acting director of pipeline safety in the trump administration, the newly appointed top federal regulator charged with overseeing the safety of gas and oil pipelines has not given up her outside
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business interests in order to take that job and one of her outside business interests is selling equipment for oil spill response. that's like if there's one guy in your town who has a business selling tires and fixing broken axles. and you decide to put him in charge of filling the potholes in town. like, maybe he'll be great at that but if he isn't great at that, he's definitely got a plan b. "the washington post" also broke the news today that the president has chosen a new administrator to lead noaa, the trump pick for that job is a businessman who has long sought to privatize the national weather service. specifically, to limit the amount of information the weather service provides to the public for free, so his family business instead can do that for profit. a for-profit national hurricane center, right? what could possibly go wrong? we have a story coming up at this hour about one of the
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disaster medical assistance teams that has been dispatched to puerto rico as part of the response to hurricane. this story that we've got coming up on that tonight is not a good news story but it is, as far as we know, the latest trump administration i'm quitting in protest stories. so we've got that story coming up a little later on. i want to start tonight, though, with some stuff that's been a little swamped in the news over the last couple of days but it's now starting to feel like you ought to be aware this is going on. adam schiff, the top democrat on the intelligence committee, is going to help us sort through this in a second. but check this out. today you may have seen this report at politico.com, a very well written and well reported piece, that says that the president may offer to sit down for an interview with special counsel robert mueller. if the white house decided to do this, it would make trump the first president since bill clinton to face questions under oath from a federal prosecutor and you remember what happened
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then, right? bill clinton's four hours of sworn testimony, that testimony later became, in large part, the basis of house republicans' impeachment effort against president clinton. it's not like other presidents haven't testified or talk to prosecutors in other criminal matters, but that impeachment history with clinton and this particular president's tendency to say stuff that just pops into his head, particularly when he is under pressure, those factors i think made it a lot of surprise to people when this story came out today saying that the president's legal team on russia going to want it under oath with mueller's team prosecutors. let alone any time soon. here's the thing, though. the president's lead lawyer on russia stuff, i think it's his lead lawyer on russia stuff now. it's not always easy to tell.
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the guy who i think is the president's lead russia lawyer, he apparently does not consent to this strategy. he may have not been aware that this strategy was being discussed, let alone pursued with the white house, with regard to the russia investigation. politico had posted this article saying trump's going to sit down with mueller. posted at 5:00 a.m. this morning. they updated it a few hours later just before 11:00 a.m. to add a comment from john dowd. i'm going to quote directly what he told politico. "the president's personal lawyer john dowd, initially declined to comment for this story. however, after this article was initially published, dowd said, quote, totally false! and he went on with 16 exclamation points. 16. so the white house tells
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politico, yeah, we want president trump to talk with robert mueller's prosecutors. trump's lawyer on russia then swallows his tongue and starts gargling, no, no, no, that's a terrible idea, with 16 exclamation points. and then another one of the president's russia lawyers, ty cobb, he calls up a conservative website to drop some further legal e's on this esensitive subject. he said, nobody in the white house would be this stupid. well, this is a president facing the most similar counterintelligence investigation ever levied against a u.s. president ever. actually, it's probably the most serious investigation ever levied against a government official and it's not who you would expect to represent a u.s. president in a fight like this.
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just a little touch of the carnival act to these guys. >> cnbc caught up with mr. dowd a short time ago. >> get the [ bleep ] out of here. okay? that's what i've got for cnbc. >> so that's john dowd. that's the president's lead counsel on russia. he's the one with the 16 exclamation points in his comment to politico.com and forwarded those secessionist e-mails to reporters a few weeks ago back without meaning to and sat down with the president's other lead russia lawyer whose salary we're paying as a white house official now, he and ty cobb sat down apparently unwittingly next to a "new york times" reporter who was taking pictures of them and writing down what they were saying about how much they didn't like the white house counsel and the reason that conversation and the picture of them having it ended up in "the new york times" is because they chose to have that
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conversation at an outdoor table at a restaurant that is literally immediately next door to the washington bureau of "the new york times." it never occurred to them, maybe guys take it inside. these guys took over as the president's top russia lawyers after this other one had to disappear. once his first written statement on the russia matter misspelled the word president, i kid you not, and then his first verbal statement on the russia matter was an announcement that he was filing a complaint against james comey and then he never did and his first known e-mail communication was this, sent to a random stranger in the middle of the night, "i know where you live. watch your back, you," the thing that rhymes with witch. marc kasowitz who represented trump in the trump university case where he had to pay $5
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million in a fraud settlement, he was going to lead the president's defense on russia matters. apparently he's become invisible or something's happened to him because he's just disappeared. so now it's the 16 exclamation points guy and the mustache guy at the restaurant. step right up, anybody can play. they are a funky bunch. but they are -- no offense to the actual funky bunch. but this is the legal team representing the president of the united states on this incredibly serious investigation. if they were a more normal legal team, we might expect a nor normal stream of information from them about how the investigation is proceeding and how the president was mounting his defense. i mean, instead what these guys -- it really is. the swearing and exclamation points and calling people stupid, it's just sort of basically up to us to figure it out, this very serious thing about the future of our country. so let me just give you a couple of things. one, i think it's potentially
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very serious. one is not so serious. they are both things we'd otherwise expect to have real information about in a presidential crisis. that in itself is this serious. we're sort of left to figure these things out ourselves. first one is this. friday night, department of justice made a court filing, federal court in washington, d.c., in conjunction with a lawsuit brought against the trump administration by a watchdog group. now, there have been news reports that members of the white house staff had started using encrypted messaging apps at work. they are doing official business on encrypted apps that can be programmed to delete messages right after they are sent or received. based on those reports, the watch dog group crew sued the trump administration under the presidential records act. the presidential records act was passed in 1978, a very simple law. richard nixon tried to declare that the oval office tapes and other forms of white house communications and diaries and notes were all his personal
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property. nobody had a right to see them. there were big legal fights over there. the presidential records act made clear that presidential records are public records and, as a consequence, you can't destroy them. so with every administration post watergate, the act has made it crystal clear, in advance, unee kwifly that we the people and historians and journalists and investigators will eventually get access to presidential papers. we don't get everything right away and there's always some exceptions in terms of privacy and national security in terms of what exactly we get. but in general, presidential records are public records. they are not private. that's clear in the law. and we the people have a right to access to them. and therefore, white house staff can't, you know, keep white house papers for themselves. they can't trash them. they can't steal them or do anything designed to keep those records from being accessed by the public. so crew files this suit and in response to this lawsuit on friday night, quietly, the trump
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justice department makes its argument in response to their lawsuit and their argument is that that whole presidential records thing, that's over. on the messaging app issue but also on the potential tape recordings of conversations in the white house, they discuss the prospect of the president deleting his tweets. they discuss the prospect of white house staff potentially purging information off of their phones or their computers. presidential records act does not apply. that's their argument. and this finally friday night, the trump justice department quietly made this very seemingly radical argument that they have the right to delete anything they want whenever they want to and nobody can review it. this is just the first line of the brief they filed. "courts cannot review the president's compliance with the presidential records act." they continue later in the brief, "the law does not permit judicial review of whether the president is properly managing
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and preserving records subject to the presidential records act." again, this filing was made on friday night. it was posted online by the heroic online archive and written up by the hollywood reporter, god bless them, but it hasn't had a lot of attention outside of that. here's the question. is this a random shot in the dark legal argument from the administration or is this their declaration that this is how they're handling presidential records? i mean, now that the trump justice department is declaring in this legal filing that it is the view of this administration, when it comes to white house records, tapes, all white house records, electronic or otherwise, the brief says that this attitude applies to all records created or received by this president and his closest advisers. if their argument about that is that no court can tell them that those things have to be reviewed, preserved, right, is this a sign that say
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investigators might not be able to get their hands on records from the trump white house? if this is the trump administration's legal opinion about whether they even have to keep those records, does that mean that we should expect no records to end up in the hands of investigators, let alone historians, let alone the public? so adam schiff, one of the members of congress leading those investigations in congress, he'll be joining us in a few minutes. we can ask him about that. but here's one more. it's the last thing i'm going to raise here. this may not be the most serious thing in the world but if a president facing this serious a criminal investigation had a less slapstick legal team, whoop, whoop, whoop, more normal lawyers advising him, this would have been already explained by now. but because we have these guys, because we have 16 explanation points, right, this thing i'm about to explain is just hanging out there with no explanation
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about why this happened or how this happened or what could possibly be the innocent explanation for it. and i will preface this by saying, i recognize this one may not end up being all that serious. part of the reason i want to give you that caveat is where this all started was with a dirty joke. >> what is going on with you and trump? it seems like you two should be good friends. >> he's been tweeting mean things about me and, look, i'm not looking for a feud with donald trump and i certainly only wish the best for the monkey who does his twitter feed. >> sif fa lit particular monkey, which is even worse. >> that's what got him so mad. we did a new rule one week that supposed perhaps donald trump had been the spawn of his mother having sex with an ocrangatang.
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i didn't just make this up. the color of his hair and the color of an orange arang tank is the only two things in nature that are the same color. >> i wondered what that was for today. >> i'm not saying it's true. i hope it's not true. >> right. >> but unless he comes up with proof, i'm willing to -- i'm willing to offer $5 million to donald trump -- >> $5 million? >> that he can donate to a charity of his choice. >> a charity of his choice. >> hair club for men. >> right. >> i'm not endorsing the joke, but this happened in public life. this was around the time that donald trump had offered president obama $5 million to the charity of his choice if he released his college records, this is around the whole birther thing. so this was bill maher's response to that public behavior by donald trump well before he
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ran for president. i'll give you $5 million if you can prove that you're not the son of an orangatang. it's not the joke itself but the fact that trump actually hired a lawyer to sue bill maher over that joke, in part by submitting proof that he, donald trump, was not the son of an arangatang. >> he made an offer on the show and that involved my birth certificate and other things and it was a $5 million offer to charity and i immediately accepted his offer, sent a legal letter to him by a very good lawyer who told me you have an absolute case as soon as you accept his offer and so we essentially sent him a bill, a legal representation for $5 million. i don't know if he has $5 million. maybe he doesn't. but he made an offer of $5 million. i accepted the offer. >> his lawyer sent me a letter, i [ bleep ] you not, this is real.
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his lawyer sent me a letter that says, and i quote, attached hereto is a copy of mr. trump's birth certificate demonstrating that he is the son of fred trump and not an orangutan. do these morons even know it's impossible for them to produce offspring? and look at the lawyer's signature. it just kind of trails off as if to say, i'm too embarrassed to even finish this. scott s-o -- i'm trump's lawyer. >> okay. the name that trails off there, the man who donald trump describes as his very good lawyer who filed this official representation, that is a real lawyer and his name is scott
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balber and that should be another forgettable chapter in donald trump picks lawyers, right? but you know where that guy popped up this week? on monday, "the washington post" reported about the trump tower meeting that happened last summer involving paul manafort, donald trump jr. and a whole bunch of russians linked to putin and the russian military intelligence. there was an e-mail about the trump tower meeting from natalia who set up that meeting and her e-mail asks the british intermediary asking if it would be okay if she brought with her a lobbyist and trusted associate. i don't think that additional e-mail from the russian lawyer shed all that much more light about why the trump campaign was taking that meeting with russian officials promising dirt on
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hillary clinton in the middle of the election. what stands out about what was obtained this week by "the washington post," that e-mail from the russian lawyer, what stands out about that is that the person they got that e-mail from is a lawyer working for the putin-linked russian billionaire whose son spoke to donald trump jr. three times on the phone about that meeting in the course of setting that meeting up and the lawyer for the putin-linked russian billionaire in this case, the guy who handed over that meeting about the russian lawyer about that meeting this week, that lawyer is scott balber. the same lawyer who represented donald trump in his stupid fight with bill maher in 2013 over whether or not donald trump was secretly half an orangutan. maybe there was just the one but he was trump's lawyer on something like that.
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he is now representing the russian side of the trump tower meeting, where the top echelon of the trump campaign took a meeting with russian officials to get assistance in the election including dirt on hillary clinton. same guy? we contacted scott balber to ask if there was a connection between his previous representation of mr. trump and the fact that he's now representing the russians behind the russian government offering dirt on hillary clinton during the election. mr. balber responded to us tonight promptly, which was very nice of him. his response was this, "nice try, but absolutely no connection whatsoever." there is no such thing of a tie to a hostile foreign government that interfered with the russian government. but when somebody who used to turn up in the investigation representing the russian side,
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that seems like something that requires more than nice try as an explanation. if the president had less hilarious legal representation in the first place, we could probably expect an explanation like that but in this world that we live in, we have to figure it out ourselves. we do our best. top democratic on the intelligence committee joins us, coming up. stay with us. patrick woke up with back pain.
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a disaster of national proportions has hit this city. i'm just trying to get my head around this problem: we're s week now since hurricane maria hit puerto rico and we continue to get dramatic footage of how bad conditions are. but now that it is more than three weeks out from when that storm hit, the fact that
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conditions are still so difficult is no longer just a manifestation of how big and powerful the storm was, it's how insufficient the response has been. we got a very acute, specific piece of news about the relief effort in puerto rico today. specifically about what are called disaster medical assistance teams, the teams of doctors and nurses and paramedics who deploy during natural disasters. this is a great resource that the federal government has in terms of disaster response. today we learned that the senior medical officer on one of the federal dmat teams in puerto rico, a doctor who has been on humanitarian missions in ten countries, in haiti, in japan after fukushima, she has just quit her disaster response team in puerto rico because she says what's happening in puerto rico is a response that's being run in a way she has never seen in her 20 years of federal disaster
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response experience. today that doctor sent us these images, which she says show a spa day that was organized by federal medical staff, health and human services medical staff, a spa day they organized for themselves in the middle of the disaster. this doctor tells us that they used the triage tents that are supposed to be for medical care and instead brought in local puerto rican residents to give the medical workers cut rate manicures and pedicures while these medical professionals were being paid for their work as part of the disaster relief but instead they were getting spa treatments. the senior medical officer report to her reporting officers at the health and human services and told them, "i find this gross misuse of taxpayer funds and abuse of our privileged positions personally abhorrent." she pointed to the quote "optics
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of ndms medical personnel responsible for seeing injured and ill puerto ricans who have no homes, food or supplies having a spa day on taxpayer money." she said, "i can no longer serve with honor on this team" and then she quit after more than 20 years of experience doing this work. and her objections were not just the way that this is the federal response is spending taxpayer money in puerto rico. the doctor said that these were sterile environments. as you can see, the medical professionals there were wearing flip-flops because they were drying their pedicures. we reached out to the department of health and human services about this today and they told us, "the national disaster medical center has been made aware of the situation this doctor has raised. we have initiated an internal inquiry regarding this matter and will take appropriate action
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as necessary." last night we reported on this maddening situation in which people are starting to die, americans starting to die because of treatable bacterial infections, infections they are getting because they still three weeks on have no access to drinking water so they've been drinking for weeks out of creeks and streams. people are starting to die from water-borne bacterial infections, treatable infections while apparently spa day but also while the "comfort" hospital ship is docked in puerto rico. it has hundreds of beds. 800 highly trained medical personnel, state-of-the-art hospital facilities. as of this week, the "comfort" was treating seven patients and on tuesday up to eight. they have hundreds of bed, 800 medical staff. they were treating eight people on tuesday while people were dying from treatable bacterial infections at the hospitals on the island where the "comfort"
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is docked, bacterial infections that they should not be getting in the first place. one thing that the "comfort" can do is manufacture drinking water. but americans are dying while this floating miracle of a hospital ship is right there, docked in puerto rico. what good is a fluting miracle of a ship if they are not getting anybody on board to treat them. this is an organizational failure, not the storm was too big and the resources are there, the trained staff are there and this is just organizing it. this is leading the effort. this is just trying to connect what is available with what is needed. this storm is no longer killing americans. the federal government's response to this storm is now killing americans. and we've got a live report coming up. stay with us. your brain is an amazing thing.
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imagine what we can do for the conditions ♪hat affect us all. ♪ ♪ ♪ we were expecting right now to be talking live with the mayor of san juan, the capital city of puerto rico. she is, i'm told, quite near to our camera but not near enough yet. so we will be going to her in just a moment. we also, though, have congressman adam schiff, the ranking member of the house intelligence committee standing by. we'll talk to him in just a moment as well. and in order to do that, i want to show you some impassioned comments from senator john mccain, which he spoke on the
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senate floor in late july. watch. >> my friends, the united states of america needs to send a strong message to vladimir putin and any other aggressor that we will not tolerate attacks on our democracy. that's what this bill is all about. >> john mccain speaking in the senate in late july. it is rare for a bill of much significance to get anything approaching blanket support in congress. but this summer, a bill to punish russia for attacking our election got approved in the senate 98-2. in the house, the vote was 419-3. if you combine both houses, which you're not supposed to, that makes the vote 517-5. just overwhelming support in congress for new sanctions on russia in response to them interfering with our election and included new protections for sanctions already in place against russia. so president trump couldn't come
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in there and mess with the existing sanctions. he couldn't end those sanctions on his own. that last part of the bill was not because of just hypothetical worries that trump might try something like that to help russia out. he did try something like that. on june 1st, michael isikoff at yahoo news reported that the trump administration tried to get rid of existing russian sanctions the moment they first showed up in washington, d.c. "in the early weeks of the trump administration, former obama administration officials and state department staffers fought an intense battle to head off efforts by incoming by russia. almost as soon as they took office, tasked state department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions on russia and the return of russia's diplomatic compounds. these efforts to relax or remove punitive measures imposed by
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russia began lobbying congressional leaders to quickly pass legislation to block what the trump administration was trying to do." that's why that bill that nd laed landed on the president's desk with overwhelming support, it was also designed to stop trump from trying to remove existing sanctions on russia, because he had already tried to do that from day one. president trump objected to that bill that he was up against the veto-proof majorities and signed it privately with no pageantry. none of these. he didn't do any of that. signed it quietly, nobody there. and then left it to the secretary of state rex tillerson to explain. >> the action by the congress to put these sanctions in place and the way they did, neither the president nor i were very happy about that. we were clear that we didn't think it was going to be helpful to our efforts but that's the decision they made. they made it in a very
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overwhelming way and the president accepts that. >> we all have to accept things we don't like sometimes. the president signed the russians sanctions bill on august 2nd. that gave him a deadline of october 1st to implement these new sanctions against russia, to punish them for attacking our election. october 1st was the deadline. so he signed it august 2nd. we waited all through august. then we waited all through september. it's now october 12th. and those sanctions are not in place. he hasn't done anything. and now the bipartisan sponsors of that sanctions bill are mad. "the delay calls into question the trump administration's commitment to the sanctions bill which was signed into law more than two months ago. they've had plenty of time to get their act together." a and maybe the white house will get around to do something maybe sometime or maybe they really
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did come into power with a burning desire to help russia out by easing up on the sanctions against them. joining me now is adam schiff. congressman shift, it congressman schiff, thanks for being here. >> you bet. >> let me ask you about the sanctions matter. the white house was supposed to have acted on this by october 1st. they appear to have done nothing. >> i certainly do share the concerns. i strongly supported the legislation put in place so he couldn't weaken the already existing sanctions and to strengthen the deterrent on russia from meddling in our affairs. frankly, i'm not sure whether this is completely disconnected from your earlier story that he is you were pointing out how the same lawyer, the former trump lawyer is now a lawyer representing an oligarch close to putin who helped set up that meeting in trump tower and, of course, one of the things that is alleged in the dossier, which
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we have tried to corroborate, is the claim that there was an agreement to ease sanctions on ukraine in exchange for getting derogatory information about hillary clinton. if that is what is motivating this, obviously it would be consistent with the dossier. now, we don't know that that's the case but there are obviously a lot of things that concern us about the president's policy to russia. when you look at that overwhelming vote that you pointed out, both democrats and republicans recognize the flnee to sanctions russia in this way and we have profound questions for why the president differs from that very strong bipartisan sentiment. >> you referenced the dossier and what the dossier says about how if there was a quid pro quo here, it appears to have been or it was supposed to have been, described in the dossier as having been about russia wanting sanctions relief. we had mark hosenball on the show last night, legendary
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reporter at reuters. senator sheldon said when it comes to the dossier, a good bit of it remains unproven but none of it has been disapprove enand some of it has been proven true. when he said none of it has been disapprove en, that caught my eye. can i ask what you make of senator whitehouse's sentiment, if you share that? >> the dossier has been corroborated and seem credible and other parts we are trying to determine are they try, are they not true. still other parts of the dossier we're not even close to being able to confirm or reject. so i think in a litteral sense that's true but there's a lot of work that needs to be done and, frankly, that's where we ought to have at least part of our focus.
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it shouldn't be on trying to discredit the messenger but rather find out how much of this dossier is accurate. and that's really what we're trying to accomplish. >> the chairman of your committee, the intelligence committee who said he was stepping aside from the russia investigation, devin nunes, signed off on subpoenas sometime recently. we found out this week. subpoenas targeting the firm that was behind the dossier, fusion gps. there's been confusion as to whether or not that was his subpoena that he decided to issue even though he hasn't been participating in the investigation thus far. there's been some conflicting reports as to whether you were consulted on that subpoena or whether other members on the republican committee were consulted on that. what can you tell us about that? >> we are supposed to be consulted as a matter of the committee rules but we were not consulted on it. look, i think the subpoenas are part of an effort to create an alternative narrative and the
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alternate narrative is that essentially the fbi and the department of justice were hoodwinked into becoming an arm of the opposition research to donald trump. it's a variation of what you see in criminal trials, as i remember from being a prosecutor, where if the defense has very poor facts to deal with, they try to put the government on trial. this is i think part of an effort not to get to the truth of what the russians did but rather to shift the focus on to the fbi and department of justice. it's really a disservice. you know, these issues are incredibly serious. if u.s. policy is being distorted, either because of promises made or because there's leverage over the administration, that's serious business. those sanctions we were talking about a moment ago, the reason why those are so significant, the reason why the russians top priority is to get rid of those sanctions is that putin doesn't fear losing a democratic election. he's not going to lose a democratic election. a viable opponent in russia now
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winds up in jail or dead but he does fear mass protest and the ability for people to gather and demand better or demand the removal of an autocrat. and if this economy continues to suffer, then that is a threat to the regime. so this is why it was such a high priority for putin to remove those sanctions, why certainly if there was going to be a deal struck, it would be about removing those sanctions and why so many members of congress in both parties question this administration, where is it coming from, why is it behaving this way with respect to the adversary that intervened in our affairs and we took that step to protect ourselves but the investigation also has to get to the bottom of this. >> top democrat on the house intelligence committee, adam schiff, thank you for your time tonight. >> thanks, rachel. >> a key point from the congressman in terms of how important those sanctions are to russia. we may just see it as one element towards our policy towards russia.
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that's the prime mover for them. so when you're looking for people acting in their interests, those are their interests when you ask them. the mayor of san juan puerto rico joins us live next. i didn't know where i was from ethnically. so we sent that sample off to ancestry. my ancestry dna results are that i am 26% nigerian. i am just trying to learn as much as i can about my culture. i put the gele on my head and i looked into the mirror and i was trying not to cry. because it's a hat, but it's like the most important hat i've ever owned.
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...has grown into an enterprise. that's why i switched to the spark cash card from capital one. now, i'm earning unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase i make. everything. what's in your wallet? take a look at how day 22 began today in toa baja, west of san juan. these folks lost their homes in hurricane maria 22 days ago. they are living inside a local
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school. toa baja is right outside the capital city. and in toa baja today, people were gathering water from rain gutters because that's their access to water 22 days since the storm. today the president started threatening to pull out federal relief effort from puerto rico. the federal relief effort such as it is. joining us now is the mayor of san juan, carmen yulin cruz. thank you for joining us. this is still an incredibly busy time. >> thank you very much for having me. >> i do want to know your response to the president's threat to withdraw federal aid today but more than that and before that, i want to know how you are and how is san juan and what's your overall assessment of your people and your city right now? >> well, number one, we're entering the second phase of san
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juan gets back on its feet. the first phase was opening the roads and making sure we got to the elderly population in retirement homes, making sure that we got to as many many people that were sick as possible and ensuring they got their medication. and ensuring that we established a robust distribution system of food and drinkable water. enough to sustain people for initially it was one week. this week we started giving them provisions for two weeks so we have about 55,000 people in our system right now with 18 community kitchens providing food for thousands of citizens of san juan. and we are really, really happy that the ngos and the churches and leadership at the communities are taking on the task of distributing. they come into a central location and they take what they need and they distribute it to
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everybody. so we have now the capability of providing people with enough food. not just enough water. but enough food for two weeks and enough water for at least one week. so we are in the process of with operation blessing, comes from virginia, and ngo, putting water purification plans in different areas of san juan. and next week we'll start delivering a -- just a small purification device for people to use in their homes. we're starting to see that we can get our two schools, three schools, municipal schools already working in the next week or so. about one third of the head starts and early head starts will begin working in about a week. and our community college has already started working. all of our seven health clinics
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are working in terms of the emergency units that they have. and we expect our hospital to be up and running fully operational next week. so because of private donations, because i have to say in the last week since we have had a direct route to homeland security, fema has stepped up. are we getting everything we need? no. are we getting much more than we had last week? certainly yes. and the channels of communication are opening up. so i can imagine the light at the end of the tunnel now. of course, that is not the case in many of the rest of the 77 municipalities today. we got s.o.s. calls from three municipalities in different parts of puerto rico needing water. especially drinking water. needing medication. and needing food because what i've been talking about, miss maddow, is a robust supply chain of aid. i cannot feed ten families this
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week and forget them next week. we have to have enough food to provide for them and we have been able to do that in san juan in two week cycles now to help us a lot in our distribution. we are -- we need to step up our game in terms of the debris. we haven't been able to get that under control in san juan. every since maria, we picked up more than 66 million pound of debris and general trash. but there's still a lot more. so we have hired additional contractors today. four different companies. additional to the one that we have already at the mu nis tallty to increase the power base we have in order to get that under control. >> madame mayor, we have been following with some concern these new reports about people dying from water borne illnesses and bacterial infections. not necessarily people in san juan but people in other parts of puerto rico not as well
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served. you have been one of the first people signaling the alarm that people in remote villages and cities were having to drink from creeks and streams. that appears to be paying off now in the form of treatable bacterial infections killing people. we're concerned about the basic medical care getting to people who are being forced to live in the conditions. and people who are starting to die from those conditions. do you know anything about the overall plan for the island in terms of that kind of medical care? >> yes. the secretary of health for puerto rico has advised in the next coming days an educational program will begin to make sure that people know how to -- that they need to boil their water if they're getting it. that they need -- if they're getting it unfiltered water, they need to use the chlorine pills to make it drinkable. not only drink it but wash everything that they use and not walk around with bare feet. essentially, don't drink from
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any creeks. we are having 50 community leaders tomorrow in san juan to teach them and say, because it's not only a drinking water. we are having a very big problem because we are in a caribbean island with mold. so, mold does not get taken out of the homes and those homes that need a tarp, this kind of bluish fema tarp gets put on it, you're creating a toxic environment from everybody in there. so the lack of drinking water, even in san juan. you may think, well, we are not drinking out of creeks but the creeks and rivers we get the water from, you know, can turn out some sort of this bacteria. we have already had reports in our own staff of two members that are suspected, still not confirmed, of having diseases that are related to non-drinkable water. ska byes is a problem.
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conjunctivitis is a problem. because people are not eating enough. or are not eating their regular diet that they're used to. so we are running into a situation where we may be in the verge of a health crisis. without enough medication and without enough hospitals to deal with. there is a hospital that's on board of a ship from the united states navy, i believe. and people are being transported there. but i have no information of how many parents, no confirmed information of how many patients are already in there and for what conditions they have been taken to the ship. >> san juan mayor cruz, appreciate you keeping us updated. please keep us apprised. thank you for being with us tonight. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. all right. we'll be right back. stay with us. amazing honky-tonk!
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one last story for you tonight. amid the taxpayer funded ethics trouble of cabinet members, if you had to pick one really milking it, was really pulling out the stops to have the best possible time at taxpayer expense, no question, it's interior secretary ryan zinke and horseback rides and the private jet trip to go see the hockey team and the other private jet trip to go on the snorkeling tour and then to the ski resort and then to the
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alaskan steakhouse and now we learned he has a personal flag and staff to raise it. every time he goes to work. quoting from "the washington post" tonight, an interior department staffer, quote, takes the elevator to the seventh floor, climbs the stairs to the roof and hoists a special secretarial flag when he enters the building. when the secretary goes home for the day or travels, the flag comes down. spokeswoman for him calls the flag hoisting, quote, a major sign of transparency. because now if you want to know someone's repelling down the side of the interior department sometime soon look for the flag to see if he's there. it is a form of transparency. other things, too. but -- that does it for us tonight. now it's time for "the last word with

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