tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC October 28, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
report that the first charges in the mueller investigation have been filed. >> we don't know who yet. but on monday, there's going to be people walking out with some handcuffs. [ cheering ] >> i'm joy reid. i'll see you tomorrow morning with the new developments on the mueller probe, at 10:00 a.m. eastern right here on msnbc. "the 11th hour" with brian williams is next. the breaking news we're reporting on the russia front, the first charges filed in special counsel robert mueller's investigation. plus news of who funded the salacious dossier on trump. and new reporting on mike flynn, michael cohen and carter page. tonight, what this means for president, the trump white house, and all those around him. all of it as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a friday night. on this friday evening, good evening once again from our nbc
news headquarters here in new york. we have what is being called a landmark development tonight, as day 281 of the trump administration comes to a close. cnn is reporting tonight that the first charges have been filed in the mueller investigation. this means that a federal grand jury sitting in washington to review the evidence has returned a charge or charges. they are further reporting tonight that the charges are still sealed by order of a federal judge, perhaps to be unsealed over the weekend, and the lawyers of those named will presumably be asked to turn their clients in to law enforcement. cnn's further reporting that could come as early as monday. this is obviously notable because this is an investigation into russia collusion, and charges being filed would indicate that robert mueller believes someone has broken the law here. without any delay, let's put this before our lead-off panel tonight.
nbc news intelligence national security reporter ken dilanian. matthew miller, former chief spokesman at the department of justice, now an nbc news justice and security analyst. tamara keith is with us, white house correspondent for national public radio. and jeremy bash, former chief of staff at cia, at the pentagon, and notably, former counsel to the house intelligence committee. jeremy, i'll begin with you as the house counsel on this panel, at least. how unusual is this, we should note, the reuters news agency is confirming this cnn story, though, with a single source. how unusual is it that these charges or this charge, this indictment, under seal by order of a federal judge, the word of it has broken, though we don't know who, we don't know what possible charge or charges. >> well, if word came from the grand jury or from the government, that would violate the law. there are grand jury secrecy requirements. if it came, on the other hand, from a defendant or the defendant's counsel, that would not be unusual.
so we don't know exactly the source of these stories. it's important to note, brian, tonight, we don't know who is charged. and we don't know what they are charged for. the fact that the indictments are sealed does not give us any indication into the substance of what bob mueller has convinced a grand jury to find probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. we don't know if he's charging multiple individuals, multiple defendants, or just a single person. we don't know if it's for something directly kind of at the hot molten core of this investigation, collusion, financial impropriety, or something more tangential, for example mike flynn's failure to register as a lobbyist for the turkish government. we just don't know at this hour. >> jeremy, how about a little informed speculation, are you curious at how early in the mueller effort this is? he's been at it, what, five months, and does the timing tell you anything?
>> this is fast. he's moving with all deliberate speed. we know that. he has a large team of investigators, of prosecutors. he's got a lot of resources. but even for a large team, this kind of complex investigation, i would think would have taken a lot longer. so this seems to me like something that was sort of easily provable fast, like lying to a federal investigator, when there is clear evidence that the individual was lying, or something involving a bank transaction where something was forged and it was easily approvable that that was a violation of federal law. something more complicated about the conspiracy to affect the 2016 election, i would think that this is pretty fast to find criminal charges on that matter. >> ken dilanian, same question. >> well, i would just point out that although mueller has been in place for six months, the fbi investigation in some of these matters goes back a lot further than that, almost as long as a year in some cases. and so although i agree with jeremy in terms of the complex conspiracy of collusion or alleged collusion that mueller is investigating, it's hard to imagine he's got any charges to
bring on that score. but the idea of a lie to a federal investigator, that's a pretty straightforward crime. there's also issues about disclosure forms and, you know, lobbying forms filled out incorrectly that we've long known that mueller is looking in terms of michael flynn and michael flynn's son. it wouldn't be terribly surprising if those charges were brought. a note of caution, other than reuters, no other major news organization has confirmed this story. >> yes, we're trying to be cautious about that, unless and until nbc news can confirm it ourselves. matthew miller, there is the theory, of course, that an early charge in this case is someone you are looking to affect or flip. and that would indicate, i guess common sense would dictate, that wouldn't be a minor charge, would it? >> yeah, i think that's right. look, it's clear that mueller has decided that he's not going to wait until the very end of
this investigation and bring all the charges at once. that's often what you'll do in complex investigations like this, you'll collect all the evidence, you'll take all the testimony and grand jury, do all of your fbi interviews, then move at one time against everyone against whom you can bring charges. he decided not to do that. i don't think anyone should expect these indictments are the end of this investigation. and so that means that either he has decided that -- i think what that means is he's either decided that the indictments he has brought now under seal, if this cnn report is right, are either tangential or somewhat unrelated to the core underlying claims he's investigating, whether there was collusion to affect the 2016 election, or it's someone that he's been putting pressure on already, and he just needs to do a little bit more. it's someone who -- like a paul manafort who was central to the campaign and see if he can get him to start talking in exchange for a plea deal. >> tamara, it would be highly unlikely if this leak, this source came from the feds' end
of this, given mueller's penchant for secrecy and discretion, given the fact that this was sealed by order of a federal judge. >> yes, and mueller's team had been pretty leak-free. they have been taking this very seriously, and keeping things very much under control. they provided a no comment to npr tonight when we sought comment on this. and i just want to say again that npr has not confirmed this, nbc has not confirmed this. this is a couple of news organizations that are out there with it. and with blind sourcing, sources briefed on the proceedings, is the sourcing that we have, which could be anyone. >> all right. jeremy bash, let's talk about the process.
remind the good folks watching tonight what happens in a grand jury. a prosecutor like mueller or one of his chief deputies sits down with this group of citizens in a federal courthouse in washington or wherever they're impanelled. they develop, two, three days a week sometimes, a relationship. they bring evidence and witnesses before the grand jury. take it from there. >> and then it's time for the grand jury to return a true bill, to return an indictment, and essentially the prosecutor lays out the proposed charges, puts them down on paper, and the grand jury has to vote. and if the majority of the grand jury finds that there is probable cause to believe that an offense against the united states, a criminal act, has occurred, they can return the indictment. however, according to doj practice, a prosecutor will not propose an indictment unless the prosecutor believes that he or she can prove beyond a reasonable doubt at jury trial of the defendant's peers that in fact a crime has been committed.
once the indictment is returned, then it's really up to a discussion between the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense counsel as to how the defendant will turn himself in or herself in. sometimes an arrest is made. sometimes there's a negotiation to appear at the courthouse. sometimes there's an early morning raid. there are a number of different permutations that we've seen. in this case the fact that it's under seal doesn't tell us a lot. other than that, they're not totally ready to have the defendant appear today. that might mean there are more than one defendants, maybe one is not in town, they want them both to appear at the same time. it might just mean they're giving them the weekend. it might mean they want to have the element of surprise and the defendant is not aware that he or she is about to be facing criminal charges. >> jeremy, let's point out that there is some discretion that enters into the argument here, the decision to give a heads up to that subject's lawyer. as you mentioned, the possibility to give them the weekend to get things in order, the determination about whether the subject, the target of the
indictment is a risk of flight, are they likely to fly the country. and some of it is stylistic. to arrest and do what we've come to know as a perp walk, a handcuffed, potentially high value target, or to have them in a civilized manner get driven and surrender to law enforcement. >> sealing an indictment is usually a tactic by the prosecution to retain the element of surprise, to not telegraph to the defendant or others that the prosecution is about to move against them. it can also sometimes, as you know, brian, be an accommodation to the defense counsel, to say, hey, look, we want you to have your matters in order and we don't want to tell the public before we tell you so you're prepared to meet the obligations of a defendant in this matter and not be caught off guard. >> ken dilanian, can you remind
our viewers of the role of rod rosenstein in this process? the relationship between him and mueller and why it's crucial here and why mueller would have had to have given him a heads up. >> well, because attorney general jeff sessions has recused himself from this investigation, brian, rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, is the person at the justice department who is overseeing this special counsel investigation. he approves the budget and he gets regular reporting on the scope. in fact he negotiates the scope. but if mueller wants to expand the scope of his investigation, he needs rosenstein's permission. so he plays a crucial role here. and in fact, you know, he played a role in getting mueller appointed. he is the reason mueller is there. >> matthew miller, there's another name in the news, dana boente, a prominent u.s. attorney who of all the nights
of the calendar, has retired effective tonight. can you bring everyone up to speed on who dana boente is, why dana boente has been in the news, and why this would raise eyebrows and interest. >> yeah, dana boente is a long time career prosecutor who was appointed in the obama administration as the u.s. attorney for the eastern district of virginia. he came the acting attorney general for a little while and sally yates was fired, and for the last several months has been serving as the acting head of the national security division. it was presumed that when his successor at the national security division was confirmed, and that person has been nominated, has a hearing this coming week in the senate, when that person was confirmed, dana would go back to his job in the eastern district of virginia and in fact i've been told by people who talked to him earlier this week he's been talking about how eager he was to go back to that job. suddenly today he announced he would not return to that job but would be resigning. i should say he will continue to hold the job until his successor is appointed but that he is
going to resign and not return to that position. there's no clear sign that that has anything to do with these indictments or anything related with this investigation. but i think there are a lot of people who are raising questions about it, given the way that this white house has handled the firing of u.s. attorneys in the past, given the way they've handled the exit of acting attorney general sally yates, of the fbi director, and given the way the president has personally taken an interest in interviewing u.s. attorney candidates, the way in which his departure was suddenly announced is raising eyebrows. >> tamara, this news of an initial charge by mueller has a way of focusing the mind. >> the president tweeted tonight about hillary clinton. >> saw that. >> so this is -- the white house would like this to not be the story, obviously. if you just look at the briefing today with sarah sanders saying
that she felt that the investigation had gone on long enough, she was basically dismissing the investigation, trying to turn the focus, as all week the white house has tried, trying to turn the focus to uranium one and the dossier and possible democratic involvement in paying for the dossier, which is -- makes the water very muddy, which is exactly what the white house would like to have happen. >> jeremy bash, i'm going to read the president's morning tweet, what people woke up to who follow his account. "it is now commonly agreed after many months of costly looking that there was no collusion between russia and trump. was collusion with hillary clinton." based on what you know of the individual and the process, if you're robert mueller or any of his sub-chief-investigators, how
do you look at that? >> well, i think it's an attempt to distract from what the bob mueller investigation is pursuing. and it's possible, brian, that some of the defendants and some of the defense counsel who are known to the president, maybe paul manafort, mike flynn and his counsel, got news of indictments against them, maybe way too early to speculate about this. it's possible the president and his team said, we have to figure out how to muddy the waters this week, let's start talking about past scandals, uranium, throw anything against the wall, any uranium against the wall to see what sticks, in an effort to distract, because if mueller returns an indictment, it will be bad news for us, a very bad week. and that's exactly what happened. >> matthew miller, it's not beyond the realm of the impossible. this was the week we heard the first rumblingings that the congressional investigations had about run their course from the republican side.
>> yeah, that's right. i'll take one step further than what jeremy said. i think it's without a doubt by the president and his allies on the hill and in some of the conservative media to distract from what bob mueller is doing. it's also an effort to undermine what bob mueller is doing, to undermine the credibility of the special prosecutor, especially with the base of the republican party, to undermine any charges he eventually brings, and looking down the road to undermine if and when he ever writes a report that goes to congress that finds criminality on behalf of the president himself. look, i don't think it's been any secret to anyone that this case was going to produce charges. it's been reported for some time that the special counsel informed paul manafort that he would be indicted. this has set a number of people on edge and this has seen the attacks on mueller to escalate in recent weeks. >> we're just getting started here, we're going to ask our guests to remain where they are. there are other headlines and other stories tonight as well. we'll start to cover some of
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welcome back. our conversation continues with ken dilanian, matt miller, tamara keith, and jeremy bash. first question, ken, is about the dossier. we mentioned before the break, there has been a sizable white house and gop effort this week to get some attention on this, what has been labeled an obscene at times dossier on donald trump traveling to moscow, among other things. i'm going to play a little bit
of sarah huckabee sanders trying to deflect attention that way at today's white house briefing. >> i think we are seeing now that if there was any collusion with russia, it was between the dnc and the clintons and certainly not our campaign. if any collusion took place, it would be between the dnc and the clintons. >> how about evidence of collusion -- sarah, no, the president made a charge that hillary clinton -- >> i think i've addressed that pretty thoroughly. >> you're saying that -- >> i'm saying that i'm calling on your colleague. >> so a notable thing to do from the white house podium, speaking of mrs. clinton, secretary clinton and the last election. ken, tonight we learned that someone indeed paid to commission that dossier, and it wasn't the democrats. >> well, it's complicated, brian. what we learned is the free beacon hired -- the free beacon is a right wing newspaper funded
by paul singer, a new york hedge fund billionaire, according to the new york times. >> this is "the washington free beacon." >> exactly. they commissioned a firm called fusion gps to conduct opposition research on donald trump during the republican primaries. "the free beacon" said in a statement this research as far as they knew had nothing to do with the dossier that you were just talking about that was written by this former british intelligence operative, christopher steele. i confirmed in my reporting that steele was not hired by fusion gps until the hillary clinton campaign and the dnc began picking up the tab for the opposition research. it happens in every presidential campaign, it happens in campaigns for county commissioner. the only thing unusual about this is we've never had a presidential candidate with such international entanglements, particularly with a foreign adversary, so this was an effort
to hire someone with expertise in russia. to go gather information about what donald trump had been doing in russia. >> is that attempt at distraction affected by tonight's breaking news story at all? >> absolutely. what you played there from sarah huckabee sanders, it wasn't clear whether she was talking about the dossier or the uranium one story which our other guests have alluded to, this attempt by the republicans, there's three congressional committees now investigating this transaction that happened when hillary clinton was secretary of state, a sale of uranium interests from a canadian company to a russian company, and the republicans are alleging that hillary clinton sold u.s. uranium, which is not true. that's what the republicans and the trump administration are trying to cite as a way to suggest that the democrats have a russian problem as well, brian. >> tamara, is there a plan at play on the part of the white house?
>> it seems as though there's a plan to continue to talk about anything they can possibly talk about that is not mueller's investigation. >> that may get tougher as of monday. >> it could well, if this reporting proves out. but this white house has had a remarkable ability to continue to focus on hillary clinton, who lost almost a year ago, and is not trying to be president of the united states. >> jeremy bash, i think a word is deserved here about robert mueller. he grew up and went to a very fine prep school in this country, and then did something at the time unusual for kids who grew up like him, he went to vietnam. he joined the marine corps. he was in the infantry. he was wounded. he came home, attended princeton and uva law school. and after that, embarked on a
career, mostly public service, some private practice law, u.s. attorney more than once. served as director of the fbi. second longest term only to j. edgar hoover. so that's who robert mueller is. and a lot of people feel that tonight has a moment about it, that this, we're witnessing a change. >> nobody is better suited to investigate this very serious matter, this national security, this criminal matter than bob mueller. as you noted, he served at the fbi for more than a decade. he led that organization. he has been involved in every major national security investigation dating back to 9/11. he's nonpartisan. he's got respect from both sides of the aisle. the entirety of the law enforcement and intelligence communities. when he stepped forward in front of a grand jury, in front of a judge, in front of an article iii court and said crimes have
been committed, you can take that to the bank. i would not, i would not want to be a defendant in robert mueller's courtroom. >> that gets our attention. matthew, i want to ask you about what we're witnessing tonight. before i do, let's remember what president trump said this week. >> the whole russian thing is what it's turned out to be. this was the democrats coming up with an excuse for losing an election. it's an election that's very hard for a democrat to lose because the electoral college is set in such a way that it's very hard for a democrat to lose it. they lost it very badly. if you look at the votes, 306 to 223 or something, they lost it by a lot. they didn't know what to say so they made up the whole russia hoax. >> matthew, a frequent guest on our broadcast, former republican
congress from florida david jolly is on the scoreboard tonight on twitter. he said, "a political agent has been charged. however it sorts out, those who say there was nothing there should shut up." matthew, your reaction. >> i think david jolly, the former congressman is exactly right. calling into question bob mueller's fairness, his patriotism, saying a number you of things about him, saying that he should be fired, he should recuse himself from this investigation, these trumped-up charges related to uranium one, sham allegations being made by the president and people on the hill. i think if this report proves true, and these indictments have been returned and are unsealed in the coming weeks, and we see the first of what i expect will ultimately be many charges, it is not just a watershed moment in terms of this investigation. it's also a watershed moment in terms of the attacks against this investigation. this is now a probe that has borne fruit. you can't say it's a fishing
expedition. you can't say it's unfair. this is a grand jury of regular citizens that has returned this indictment. this is, you know, not something that's been drummed up by the president's political opponents. this is an investigation that's been overseen by one of the most respected prosecutors in the country, a republican, i might add, who has returned indictments and is moving forward. >> so ken dilanian, and we add for viewers just joining us, reports citing multiple sources of their own, was cnn. ken, this does change the tone and tenor of what we've been covering. >> i think it really does, brian. and even if monday is the not the day when we see indictments in this case, almost every legal observer we talk to believes that day will come eventually. there are people -- i mean, when the federal government got a warrant to search paul manafort's house, his apartment in alexandria, that was a strong indication that there is
evidence there. that credibility will also come in handy if he has to deliver a report to the american people that says, yes, there was wrongdoing here, yes, some people committed crimes, but ultimately i didn't find that donald trump colluded with russia knowingly. that will be important too. that's the message that a lot of democrats are not going to hear if in fact that's where this turns out. that's one of the things bob mueller brings to the table, a bipartisan credibility to call this as he sees it. >> we have to fit in another break. when we come back, again, some of the other stories along these lines tonight including how a former cia director's name is in the news tonight in relation to this investigation. and the trump tower meeting. we'll take on those topics as well, when we continue. -ahh. -the new guy. -whoa, he looks -- -he looks exactly like me. -no. -separated at birth much?
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accused of obstructing justice to theat the fbinuclear war, and of violating the constitution by taking money from foreign governments and threatening to shut down news organizations that report the truth. if that isn't a case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, then what has our government become? i'm tom steyer, and like you, i'm a citizen who knows it's up to us to do something. it's why i'm funding this effort to raise our voices together and demand that elected officials take a stand on impeachment. a republican congress once impeached a president for far less. yet today people in congress and his own administration know
that this president is a clear and present danger who's mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons. and they do nothing. join us and tell your member of congress that they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what's political and start doing what's right. our country depends on it. back with our ongoing conversation. ken dilanian, matthew miller, tamara keith, jeremy bash remain with us. ken, another one for you. there is a scenario by which the appearance of former cia director woolsey in this case and in this investigation argues poorly for the fortunes of former general flynn. can you walk people, how those two are connected?
>> it's a twisted tale, brian. >> that's why i called on you to tell it. >> james woolsey told nbc news today in a statement that he has been in contact with the fbi and with special counsel robert mueller's office about this story that he first told to "the wall street journal," which is that he walked into a meeting between mike flynn, former national security adviser mike flynn, last fall, september 2016, that seemed to be about the removal of this turkish cleric that the turkish government does not like and believes was responsible for the coup in turkey, the extrajudicial removal of this person back to turkey. now, woolsey didn't use the term "kidnapping," but he described it in a way that he thought maybe what was being discussed was illegal. and through an intermediary, he reported this to the vice president of the united states at the time, joe biden. what we now know through woolsey is the fbi took this very seriously, has been investigating it, and that
mueller took it over as part of the overall flynn probe. and the important thing to know about this is that mike flynn at the time was on the payroll of a lobbying firm that we now believe or he's filed paperwork to suggest was on behalf of the turkish government. he was paid more than half a million dollars. so mike flynn got paid. mike flynn was talking to turkey about doing something that they badly wanted that james woolsey thought might have been illegal. >> tamara, we can't stop our brothers and sisters in the news media from speculating. i've heard david gergen say, quote, it looks like the dam is starting to break. i've heard speculation that this indictment may be targeted at flynn, maybe at manafort. we've already heard the president distancing himself from manafort, he was only with the campaign a short time. flynn was a stalwart, stayed with him. those two men have different exposures. >> that's correct. flynn was very much a part of president trump's campaign.
he was a trusted adviser. he spoke at rallies, and was very involved with the campaign and with the president, which is why he was the original national security adviser. and his tenure was short because he was dishonest about contacts that he had had with people involved with the russian government, including the russian ambassador to the u.s. and the white house says that he was ultimately fired because he didn't tell the vice president the truth and then the vice president went out on television and said things that were not accurate. but flynn was part of the trump white house. that said, flynn was also, based on all of this reporting, freelancing a lot while he was working for trump, including
this fairly large contract that was related to turkey. >> brian, it's jeremy. can i just note that manafort is no small fish, though. he was the chairman of the campaign. he was a longstanding business associate of roger stone, one of the trump whisperers for many, many years. manafort had an apartment in trump tower. he is the one with longstanding business ties between russians and russian-backed ukrainians and other entities. and he would know a lot about business connections between the trump organization and the russian federation or oligarchs in russia. so manafort as the campaign chairman is no small fish. if we find out on monday or the coming days that he is the person against whom indictments are returned, that is a huge story. >> our panel stays in place. we are losing tamara keith to a previous engagement, we do so with thanks for your reporting tonight. if you follow the story, you know the names, carter page and michael cohen.
two names in the news again tonight. more prongs of this overarching story of the russia investigation. a lot still to cover. please stay with us. had to make a claim and all that? is that whole thing still dragging on? no, i took some pics with the app and... filed a claim, but... you know how they send you money to cover repairs and... they took forever to pay you, right? no, i got paid right away, but... at the very end of it all, my agent... wouldn't even call you back, right? no, she called to see if i was happy. but if i wasn't happy with my claim experience for any reason, they'd give me my money back, no questions asked. can you believe that? no. the claim satisfaction guarantee, only from allstate. switching to allstate is worth it.
what muscle strain? advil makes pain a distant memory nothing works faster stronger or longer what pain? advil. welcome back. our discussion continues. no shortage of topics as we cover this breaking news. our panel still with us. ken dilanian, matt miller, jeremy bash. hey, ken, what did we learn today about that trump tower meeting with natalia veselnitskaya, the russian operative, and donald trump jr.? >> brian, "the new york times" came out with additional reporting that confirmed what nbc had reported in september when we interviewed natalia veselnitskaya, which is that she was in contact with a russian prosecutor in moscow who has close ties to vladimir putin, about her talking points she
brought to the trump tower meeting, about information she thought was derogatory to hillary clinton, it had to do with political contributions to democrats by a hedge fund. it actually wasn't particularly derogatory, we've all looked at it at nbc news. the trump's team took that meeting with a promise of dirt from the russian government and she was in contact with a representative of the russian government, and she brought those talking points to that meeting, brian. >> matthew miller, our cameras discovered and ran after carter page in washington today. he was sporting a bucket hat and had just made an appearance apparently before investigators. talk about why his name was in the news today along with michael cohen, the long time trump lawyer. >> carter page met with investigators on the hill today, and apparently is going to come back next week and testify before the house intelligence committee in a somewhat unusual manner.
he's going to testify in a closed hearing, but they're going to release a transcript of the hearing five days later rather than just hold an open hearing where cameras can see. carter page obviously has been an interesting character throughout. he was a somewhat peripheral figure throughout the campaign but someone who the fbi was interested enough in that they had a fisa warrant at one point to monitor his communications. michael cohen, the other person you mentioned, in the news for a couple of things. he also was before the hill testifying or meeting with hill investigators. but also there was an interesting mcclatchie report today about money laundering. it's something that's come up over and over in this investigation. we know the core of what bob mueller is looking at, but every time you open an investigation, you start turning up rocks and you see what scurries when you turn over those rocks. a lot of people connected to donald trump, paul manafort, mike flynn, maybe michael cohen, have their own potential liability completely unconnected to the broader russia question. >> again, due diligence forces us to say over and over, the story first reported tonight by cnn citing multiple sources.
so jeremy bash, let's agree to one baseline fact, and that is, if we assume this story to be true when it's all checked out, that robert mueller has enough evidence, he has convinced a grand jury, there is enough evidence to charge a person or persons in this overarching area of disloyalty to the united states, and has enough surety to be able to get a conviction in his mind, does this change what the president says, his pronouncements, his tone, tenor, the content of his social media feed? >> yeah, i think it does change, because i think he will double down and triple down. he'll go after bob mueller much harder. i think he may even try to fire bob mueller, provoking a constitutional crisis. i don't think the president being chagrinned in any way. even though as you noted, bob mueller has proven his investigation has borne the fruit of a criminal indictment and that could also put the squeeze on others to testify against people higher in the
chain of command. >> so matt miller, for the last word here, there's nothing actionable that can come from -- by dint of the president's words now that this has entered perhaps a different phase? >> there's nothing actually different in the president's words, but he can remove bob mueller if he wants it, it's complicated in the way that he can do it but he can do it. the important bills to look at are the ones introduced in the senate by senators like chris coons of delaware to try to protect bob mueller, codify his independence. if the president starts lashing out, whether you see any republicans get behind those bills and try to move them forward. >> we may also be talking about the president's ability to pardon before this is over. ken dilanian, matthew miller, jeremy bash, many thanks as we try to navigate this breaking story.
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at this point we urge you to think back. donald trump talked tough throughout his 2016 campaign for president. before big crowds he promised to drain the swamp, tear up all treaties, make new deals, all of it starting, you'll recall, on day one. >> on my first day in office, i am going to ask congress to send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace, i just said it, obamacare. just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of a trump administration.
we are going to have the biggest tax cut since ronald reagan. we're going to cancel the paris climate agreement. i'm going to tell our nafta >> i'm going to tell our nafta partners that i intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement. >> we're going to finally have a coherent foreign policy based upon american interests and the shared interests of our allies. >> get them out, get them out, get them out. >> that's kind of the way it went. he was elected president. now here we are, 281 days into his presidency. he is facing a big reality. being the president, not the same as campaigning for president, as any one of his predecessors could have told him. joining us tonight, long-time washington journalist, prolific author elizabeth drew, who was out with a piece this week in the "new republic" titled "who
knew trump would be a weak president?" first of all, elizabeth, a thrill to have you on. it is great to see you after many, many years of knowing each other and doing this on television. before we get to your article, i have to ask you about tonight's lead story. what do you make of it? what do you think it's about? and do you think this is a moment we've arrived at in the russia investigation? >> oh, i think so, brian. by the way, i've been waiting for you to call all this time. but anyway. >> sorry. i lost my address book. but i'm glad you're here with us. >> it is a very big thing. the president has taken to saying, they haven't found anything so there's nothing there. which is absurd, of course. but there is something there. so a, it says that. b, i don't know if we're supposed to speculate but i think the strong speculation would be manafort. because he had been warned and he was -- you know, if he was searched at his apartment in virginia. and he's a big fish. and what we don't know, the president was muttering around
about, well, he would pardon anybody, so don't worry about it. we don't know whether this is called subornation of perjury that's gone on. but this is a big thing. >> to your article, do you think it was just a rookie mistake? was it campaign exuberance? was it a guy talking who had never had his name on a ballot before? >> was what, brian? i'm sorry. >> the question you asked in your article, who knew donald trump would be a weak president, to what do you attribute it? >> well, you know, the paradigm of the bully coward. >> yeah. >> trump didn't invent it but this is what he's played on television. the "you're fired" of his long-running reality show. he strutted about and showed how tough he was. but when it came to governing, he had to make big decisions. and it turns out he vacillated a lot. there were big decisions to be made. he turned them over to the
congress. he is timorous about firing people. he has other people do it. so there's this other side of him. >> elizabeth, we were trying to figure out whether you've written 14 or 15 books. we do know you're reissuing your kind of contemporaneous diary of the watergate period. i want to remind people, elizabeth wrote this during one of her daily entries during a typical day covering watergate. "the news is coming too fast. faster and harder than anyone expected. it is almost impossible to absorb." elizabeth, can you believe the pace that it is falling down upon us now? >> during the watergate impeachment period, there was no cable. there was no internet. there weren't all these other sources of information. and people said to me, don't you wish it had been? no. because as you can see it can drive you crazy. and trying to keep people's attention on one side or the other.
and it's very difficult. and then rumors start. so it was almost, you know, placid then by comparison to now. >> i'm old enough to remember picking up washington's afternoon paper, "the star." there was that, and then the newscast came on and then you had to wait till morning when the "washington post" hit the sidewalk. elizabeth, a thrill. thank you very much for coming on. we'll have you back. congratulations. >> thank you, brian. >> elizabeth drew joining us tonight. a final break for us and then up next, a halloween celebration in the oval office, and some awkwardness broke out.
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ask your doctor if chantix is right for you. many insurance plans cover chantix for a low or $0 copay. the last thing before we go, trick or treating at the white house that included some sour jokes. donald trump hosted the children of the white house press corps in the oval office this afternoon. they could not have been cuter or wearing cuter costumes. personal favorites, batman, or batchild, and princess leia. but along with candy, they got a taste of the president's dislike of the job their parents do. >> i cannot believe the media produced such beautiful children. how the media did this, i don't know. come on over here. come on, kids. come on over here. come on right here. do you know who they are?
huh? do you know who they are? they are the friendly media. that's the press. are you crying? come here, sweetheart. she's japanese. beautiful. she's -- i'm going to be in japan in two weeks i'll be in japan. you're going to grow up to be like your parents? don't answer. that can only get me in trouble, that question. who likes this? you have no weight problems. that's the good news. right? so how does the press treat you? i'll bet you get treated better by the press than anybody in the world, huh? i think so. hi, sweetheart. well, congratulations, folks, you did a good job. >> thank you. >> here you did a good job. i wouldn't say you did very well here. >> submitted without comment on a friday night at the end of a long week.
that is our broadcast for tonight and for this week. thank you so very much for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york. due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. ♪ an inmate defends himself against a violent attack. >> everybody step to your rooms. >> now authorities want to know if he took it too far. >> there's no longer an assault on you. now you're beating the hell out of him. >> while another inmate takes creative steps to send his love to the girlfriend he allegedly, accidentally shot. ♪ i understand you're feeling