tv MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson MSNBC October 31, 2017 7:00am-8:00am PDT
now they are waking up under house arrest facing decades in prison. so will they flip to get themselves a deal? and second, what about george papadopoulos? this guy, the one-time adviser cooperating with the investigation for months. so what has he been telling the special counsel and about whom? we know what team trump is saying about him, he's just a coffee boy, right? no, that's not right and we'll tell you why you should know papadopoulos' name. and we have more news on what is happening on the hill, as the biggest names on sites you use every day, google, facebook, twitter, talk to lawmakers about how russia used their platforms to meddle in the election. and why are we showing this to you? this is where the head of fema is walking in to get tough questions about what the government is doing to help puerto rico get the lights back on. we have a lot to cover over the next 60 minutes. i want to start over at the white house with kristen welker. because this is where the story is getting driven from today, kristen. the reaction this morning from
not just president trump online but some of his top advisers seems to be, hey, wasn't us, look at them. >> reporter: nothing to see here is the message from the white house. the i shall iofficials continue distance the president from the first criminal charges that special counsel robert mueller unleashed yesterday. this is the president's response, hallie. he tweeted earlier, this morning the fake news is working overtime as paul manafort's lawyer said there was no collusion. and events mentioned took place long before he came to the campaign. few people knew the young low level volunteer named george, a reference to george papadopoulos, already proven to be a liar. check the dems. george papadopoulos getting a lot of focus, of course, he did plead guilty to lying to the fbi. well, the trump campaign actually put out this picture of george papadopoulos meeting with then candidate trump. this was during the spring. and, of course, court documents have revealed that george papadopoulos sent out a number of e-mails to top officials over
a series of months telling them about potential meetings with russians that never took place. but we do know according to some of the e-mails, he was promised dirt on hillary clinton, including thousands of hacked e-mails. the chief of staff john kelly was on damage control last night. and in an interview on fox news, take a listen to what he had to say. >> all of the activities as i understand it that they were indicted for was long before they ever met donald trump or had any association with the campaign. i think the reaction of the administration is, let the legal justice system work. everyone's innocent until or presumed innocent until we see where it goes. >> reporter: the big question at the white house is, is president trump thinking about firing bob mueller? the white house saying he's not, but we do know that steve bannon, his former chief strategist, is pushing the president to get tougher on would be mueller. despite the fact that his legal team is telling him to do just the opposite.
so he's getting a lot of mixed signals today. he'll have a series of meetings with house speaker paul ryan. they will put the focus on tax reform and we'll hear from sarah huckabee sanders about this when she holds her daily briefing today. >> kristen welker at the white house, thank you very much. let's head down pennsylvania avenue because that's the other place where the story is coming from today. or maybe not. because you have a lot of republicans dodging questions about all this. and i do mean that quite literally. you need to watch this, look at this here. senator chuck grassley dipping out the back door, there he goes, practically knocking out two american flags to get out of the news conference when the reporters started to ask questions about the indictments. there it is, see ya. let's go to capitol hill with kasie hunt. what senator grassley did is what we are seeing from a lot of senators. you were in the room. at one point you stood up and said, is anybody going to answer any questions about this? and the answer was, no. >> reporter: yeah, right. that's exactly what happened, haley. there were a half dozen
republicans in this press conference, including mitch mcconnell. i use the word press conference loosely because a press conference involves reporters asking questions about whatever topic you may want to ask a question about. in this particular case, they all insisted they would only take chemical weapons about the topic of the day. they were talking about the catholic faith during her hearing and they refused to answer any questions. you're right, at the conclusion of the press conference, mitch mcconnell slipped out, mike lee, you saw chuck grassley slip out in the middle of the questioning that became rather awkward. at the end, i said to the half dozen or so left standing, would any of them take a question about the paul manafort indictments, they all declined. there are some republicans willing to talk about this in a more straight-forward way. you'll be surprised to learn two include lindsey graham and john mccain, people that we hear from pretty regularly on this. i just had a short conversation with john mccain.
they are saying to me that the sound on that is not ready, but the short version is, i asked him, are these indictments as well as the arrest of george papadopoulos a problem for the president? he pulled a classic mccain, but he was nice about that and said, that's a dumb question. sir, please explain, the president seems to think this is not a problem or at least that is what we are hearing from sarah huckabee sanders and his lawyer. he said it is a pretty classic mccain-ism. there's a centipede and always another shoe available to drop. so we have this classic motive going on. we have lindsey graham who was also willing to say, hey, this is something that clearly has more to unfold and could potentially pose more problems. take a look. >> i have zero concern that mr. mueller is in jeopardy of losing his job. i see no reason for him to be dismissed. the only reason he would is for cause, and if there was some
effort to do it without a good reason, there would be holy hell to pay. >> reporter: so holy hell to pay from lindsey graham. that was designed to be a warning to the president. one of the concerns that popped up on capitol hill is if the president interferes with the election, what would happen to him. people in both parties are warning against that. >> garrett haake is being told that they are confident that the president won't fire mueller. we'll check in with you throughout the day. thank you very much. you saw senator grassley heading for the exit there and many of the republicans don't want to talk about it. but joining me is the congressman from charlotte, north carolina. i have to pick up on the news of the day here. would it be appropriate in your view of the president pardoning people involved? >> i don't think there's any consideration whatsoever on the president's part of the white house to fire bob mueller.
i think it is all speculation on the part of the newest folks. >> would that be part of the plea agreements? >> i don't have to look at the merits of that and the facts. it's a lot of speculation on the basis for the pardon. >> the trump campaign was clearly open to working with russians to dig up dirt on hillary clinton. we know that from the unsealed documents and the reporting on the don jr. meeting, etc. in your mind, is this a judgment question? do you feel you can still work with the white house right now? >> i will work well with the white house. the thing i admire about this president is that he's focused on his job. and the only time he's really dealing with these issues is when it comes up in the media. the president is focused on tax reform right now. he's still focused on health care reform. he's focused on good trade agreements. he's focused on securing our country. he's focused on north korea. he's focused on iran. >> respectfully, congressman, based on what the president is
tweeting this morning, that's not what he's focused on. he's focusing on calling george papadopoulos a liar when there's a picture of the president sitting across the table from george papadopoulos. i respect what you're saying but why is the president so distracted? >> i think the president will always respond when he feels it's the appropriate thing to do to a statement made in the media. the other statements made by the media, the president is focused on getting a job done for the american people. >> but isn't it a statement made by the plea agreement? that's why the media is talking about this, it's a direct link. it seems between the trump campaign and the special counsel inquiry? >> we'll take a look at the investigations. the investigations start out looking at one area of concern and interest. and then they go on the fishing expedition. >> do you think he's on a fishing expedition, bob mueller?
>> i think the intent of the investigation is structured to look at russian collusion. and from that, subset, you come up with other issues that are unveiled. and so these are things that have come out of the original investigation. >> i want to ask you about tax reform, but i want to make sure i am clear here because i think this is an important point, do you believe that the special counsel is overstepping the boundaries of his investigation? >> i think the special counsel is just following whatever comes up. certainly, it's appropriate what he's doing right now in reference to mr. manafort. he appears to have an evident basis for the indictment in this particular area, but this area is not related to collusion with the russians. >> but you said it is still appropriate, right? so if e the continues to investigate, for example, the financial crimes, it is not related to the donald trump campaign and you would be okay with that? >> yes, ma'am. let's be clear what the special counsel is doing right now, they are following what evidence
comes up in terms of the concerns related to mr. manafort. however, they are unremitted to the russian or the possibility of the russian collusion. >> i know you want to talk about tax reform. the rollout is tomorrow. is this not another example of what is happening right now this week of the russia investigation yet again overshadowing the president's legislative agenda? >> well, i'm on this program as a courtesy to respond to your questions, but i will say that for the speaker's mind, the majority leader's mind, the senate, the president and all of us in congress, we are focused on this tax reform to reduce our taxes, to grow our economy and create jobs for the american people. >> you are one of the few republicans who has come out and talked publicly in defense of the president. why do you think that is? >> well, i think there are many who feel the same way. we are just doing our job. we know what needs to be done to get this economy moving, it's been very stagnant. we have grown less than 2% economically in growth.
the bismol amount of new jobs. what the tax reform will do is lower the taxes. given what we did in the 1980s is create 300,000, 500,000 jobs a month. we need jobs. the people need growth. they need opportunity. we need to expand the economy. and that is what this tax bill is all about. >> well, we're going to be looking into that and getting into those claims later in the show. congressman, thank you for joining us on a busy news day. i appreciate it. i want to bring in our panel, senior political report for "the washington post" eric blake and senior washington correspondent for politico anna palmer. are there a lot of republicans as the congressman says who are defending the president, down to defend the president in public? i haven't seen too many. >> if they are out there, they don't seem to be, they seem to be shy right now. you know, i understand why they want to talk about legislation. that is their job. they don't have much to do with the investigations unless they are on the intelligence committees. and they see this as a giant distraction from what they are trying to get done. they have not been able to pass
the agenda, which is a big sore spot for republicans who supported trump during the campaign because they thought it would be an opportunity to get things done. >> whose fault is that? >> well, a lot of it is self-inflicted wounds. i mean, the fact that this is still an issue, the fact that we have a special counsel owes to decisions made by president trump. he's the one who fired fbi director james comey, which led to rod rosenstein making the appointment of the special couns counsel. this became a much bigger deal because of the decisions trump made. >> anna, you were writing today on things that we still do not know after the indictment and plea agreement. a lot of it centers around george papadopoulos and what is he doing right now? he's cooperating with the special counsel or at least he was. was president trump president when he set up the trump/putin meeting? the white house said he didn't remember. they pointed out donald trump who said he has a great memory, how does he not remember? who is the policy adviser in the e-mails? who is the woman they were meeting with?
there are a lot of unanswered questions here. and that seems to be where the story is headed now. >> there are a lot of unanswered questions. but one of the things happening here is this was a signal by robert mueller to say to some of the four or five other people they are trying to get to potentially flip on trump and to cooperate, to do the same thing to say, listen, this is how it is going to work. either you play nice with us or you don't and will be in paul manafort's position. >> of those questions, it is significant. the question of papadopoulos and his cooperation is the critical point to find out here. >> certainly. we do know, what we don't know is how much he knew about what was going on in the campaign. certainly, he was at that meeting and based overseas in london. so maybe he wasn't coordinating with the campaign frequently. he's the one who is cooperating who might know less. manafort is the one who will know a lot more who they are trying to get to oop rate via this indictment. >> you know who else is involved in this is corey lawandowski.
here's what savannah guthrie asking him. >> as the campaign manager to the trump campaign, i was receiving thousands of e-mails a day. i don't know if that was specifically referring to me or was that paul manafort or rick gates or somebody else. >> this high-ranking official unnamed was being told that papadopoulos had desires to meet with russia. "the washington post" seems to have put two and two together and said, lewandowski is one of the people named here. >> this is a conversation based on a different story. they connected the dots about who the e-mails could be to. corey lewandowski was aware of the possibility for a meeting. they said, we can't have donald trump involve in this process. >> rebuffed the meeting. >> then sam clovis was involved and told papadopoulos to take the meeting by himself. he said great work. when asked about the comments,
he said, i was just being polite. >> tip of the iceberg, not just for this but for our discussion here. we'll ask you to stick around because we come back to this later in the show. before we do, here's what is happening in the next few hours for washington. reps from facebook, google and twitter are testifying how moscow used social media to create chaos in 2016. up next, we'll put the stunning new numbers into perspective about how many people russia may have reached. the morning walk was so peaceful.
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it really is time for them to step up and recognize that we have a problem. and the companies are going to have to adjust what they do to meet the national security concerns of this nation. >> in just the last eight minutes or so, later today lawyers for facebook and twitter are testifying in front of members of the senate judiciary committee. this kicks off hearings related to the russian meddling in the 2016 election. this is really important because according to information obtained by nbc news, facebook is going to share with congress how many americans they think were reached. and two sources are sharing similar information about twitter. here's the bottom line, here's the deal, right now if you're sitting in a room with two other people like i am right now, by the way, at least one of you saw facebook posts from russian-backed actors in all likelihood in the run-up to election day. nbc news business correspondent
jolene kent is here. jo, tell us about the new reaction from the companies' investors. what's up? >> reporter: these companies are gerding for lots of questions this morning. and we're learning more, 126 million people on facebook were exposed to russian-backed content in the two years leading up to the presidential campaign. and there is much more. this morning new bombshells from facebook and twitter on russia ice attempt to influence american voters in the leadup to the 2016 election. facebook revealing to nbc news that 80,000 posts from russian-backed facebook accounts potentially reached a third of all americans between 2015 and 2017. according to prepared testimony obtained by nbc news, the world's largest social network will tell congress today that approximately 126 million people may have been served one of the their stories at some point during the two-year period. those posts came from 120 fake
russia-backed pages. at first they only reached 29 million users, but then through likes, shares and follows they reached 126 million americans. that's half of all eligible voters. facebook says we shut these accounts down and began trying to understand how they misused our platform. the content was separate from 3,000 targeted ads on facebook and instagram, paid more by russian entities. the admission comes nearly a year after facebook's ceo mark zuckerberg initially brushed off facebook's role in the election. a position he recently walked back. >> i don't want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy. that's not what we stand for. >> reporter: also new today, twitter says it found nearly 37,000 accounts that were linked to russian entities between september 1st and november 15th, 2016. the automated accounts or bots tweeted 1.4 million times and were seen 288 million times. twitter says the impact was
limited adding russian-linked automated accounts constituted less than three quarters of a percent of the overall election-related tweets on twitter at the time. congressional investigators are expecting more answers from twitter, facebook and google in a series of hearings starting today on capitol hill. >> i want to know what we're going to do to make sure that our 2018 and 2020 elections are secure. because frankly, this threat is going to continue. and they have a responsibility to help us stop foreign interference in our elections. >> reporter: now hallie, we have new numbers from google that owns youtube. google says almost $5,000 worth of ads were purchased between 2015 and 2016 from the russian internet agency. we also have numbers from youtube as well, 18 channels were associated with the campaign in english with the political content. and that is about 1100 videos on youtube. so we're getting all the new numbers in as we head into the hearings starting today at 2:30. >> you'll be here in washington
covering it all. thank you very much. aaron and anna are back with me, this many dollars, this many ads, this many people could have been affected, i think it is important to put this in perspective here, you have the facebook exec saying in this prepared testimony, this i is .0004 of all content. still, the numbers are pretty stunning here. they are pretty staggering. >> this is going to fall on deaf ears when they go to congress and say, look, guys, it was not me, not that big of a deal. what you have heard on all the sound bites and what members of congress are investigating say, this is a big deal. we want you to do stuff. some of the companies are taking proactive measures because they don't want regulation. >> that's where this course has run into, the horse is out of the barn on that one, i think. >> the numbers are a little bit confusing because you don't know exactly -- the question is whether this mattered or changed
the result. we talk about comey, whether he changed the result. we talk about russian meddling, possible collusion, whether that could have changed the result, the numbers keep growing as we move forward. they keep -- they didn't disclose it all at first and it keeps growing. i think that's a liability for them. so i think you're seeing a lot of bipartisan anger on this, whether that leads to actual action is another question. >> frankly, these are facts now that potentially illustrate the wide disinformation of the platforms that everybody uses all the time. one of the things you heard in the piece from jolene kent is what happens next year in 2018? what happens in 2020? what is the government doing? so we can talk about congress, but there is another angle of what the white house and federal agencies are working on given they have a president who has been, to put it kindly, skeptical that this was an issue at all. >> right. i think that is going to be the question, where is the divide? where the white house and the administration is and congress is. one of the big things to watch today is how do the companies who really, for the most part,
everybody loves and uses facebook. but they are going to face tough questions. and this is going to be a big problem for them in washington. and how do the washington lobbyists respond. >> after the break, president trump's personal lawyer says he has no intention of firing robert mueller. and that pardons are not on the table. so, we want to look at what you will all this means for donald trump. what shoe could drop next. patrick woke up with a sore back. but he's got work to do. so he took aleve this morning. if he'd taken tylenol, he'd be stopping for more pills right now. only aleve has the strength to stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill. tylenol can't do that. aleve. all day strong. all day long. also try aleve direct therapy with tens technology for lower back pain relief.
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we are back now with a look at this morning's headlines. happening right now over on capitol hill, you're taking a look at a hearing where officials are answering the questions, including the government's response to hurricane maria. we have an eye on this as they discuss the situation in puerto rico. we'll bring you the headlines that come out later in the show. we are also following a setback for president trump in court. a federal judge temporarily blocking the white house policy barring transgender troops from serving in the military, ruling that the policy was based on disapproval of transgender people generally and not constitutional. and we are talking about what happened with army sergeant
bowe bergdahl. you see him walking into the courthouse not too long ago in the military desertion trial. bergdahl apologized to federal soldiers yesterday, several hurt who tried to rescue him from the taliban. he was captured after abandoning his post in 2009. in his apology he said, i think about what i did every day. and this morning the president's legal team is denying reports he's upset after all that special counsel news. they are also denying the president is considering firing robert mueller or issuing any pardons. as the invest continues, what is next for donald trump? and who may the special counsel will looking to talk to here? tom dupree is here, partnered with gibson dunn and anna and aaron are back. jay was out this morning saying the president is denying firing bob mueller. here's what he said. >> the president has not indicated to me or anyone else that i work with that he has any
intent on terminating robert mueller. and the way it would work is, you can only terminate a special counsel for cause. and we just don't see any basis for cause. >> what does that mean? >> well, what it means is that the president in the white house acknowledged that the president can't fire mueller, but he needs a legitimate reason to do it. >> what would that be? >> well, one possibility could be if he legitimately felt that mueller was exceeding his authority. that the justice department granted that. of course, we all know that the authority he has is fairly broad. >> pretty wide, right? >> pretty wide. that will be a challenge for the white house, but that certainly would be a basis. if he also felt that mueller had engaged in some conduct, that would provide a reason. i don't think we have seen anything like that yet, but those are the types of reasons to support the termination. >> if i'm sitting in the briefing room and down the road i start to hear that from the press secretary or trump aides, that could be a hint they are moving in that direction. does that put this to bed for you? >> it puts it to bed, but i do
think it is respected as they will let bob mueller do his job. >> the pardons are not being talked about currently. same thing from sarah sanders yesterday, they have not had those discussions at this point. the president claimed before he has the full power to pardon. is that true? >> well, i think it is true in a legal sense. the constitution gives the president exceedingly broad range to pardon. so the president's pardoning power is broad and robust. that said, the president pays a political price if he exercises the pardon in a way the american public rejects. >> is this for federal crimes or state crimes, too? >> the new york attorney general can be recused from prosecuting. >> the president could, in theory, and this is speculation here, hypotheticals, pardon somebody for lying to the irs, but the person would still face
criminal consequences for lying to the state of new york. >> yes. we don't know exactly what happened, but it is possible that a state prosecutor could say, there were state law violences here, too. they will let the federal prosecution take the course, be new a world where he would pardon manafort, it wouldn't shock me if state attorney generals say, let me pick up where he left off. >> carter page was on last night talking about this. i want to play you what carter page had to say. >> yes or no. were you in chains with papadopoulos? >> probably a few, yeah. >> were you in e-mail chains with him about russia? >> it may have come up from time to time. again, you know, there's nothing -- nothing major. >> so that is the former trump campaign adviser talking about another former trump campaign adviser george papadopoulos. we played corey lewandowski earlier, if you are the president's legal team, would you say, please stop talking? >> i think the right thing for
them to do is to be forthcoming and honest and transparent. what we saw happen with papadopoulos, he had to plead, not due to treason or anything, but a false statement to investigators. the thing here is, when you have a campaign adviser haul in to testify or be interviewed by federal agents, they have to be scrupulously honest. if they misstep, they will get prosecuted for perjury, obstruction of justice, and that is where a huge element of the legal danger for the white house rests. >> and don't delete your facebook page days after you're talked to by the special counsel. >> they said in water gate, it is not the crime of cover-up. we'll see what happens. >> i want to bring you in, but i want to go to senator burr speaking now in the hallways. we'll listen in for one second here. >> there would be a lot of americans that would have been indicted yesterday. >> chairman burr -- >> we know from the investigation there's been an active, active campaign by the russians to be involved in the 2016 election.
both sides. and we're going to try to answer some of the questions. >> senator burr, does the move by mueller make your investigation more difficult? pieces off the board? and you said you have been trying to talk to papadopoulos, does it make it harder for you to find out what you need to find out? >> we have been in contact with the legal counsel of everybody indicted yesterday. so i can't speak for the vice chairman. i don't think the indictments were a surprise to any of us involve in the investigation for nine months. does it make our job tougher? only in the fact that there may be some information that we could get from manafort or gates that we're not going to be able to get now because of the indictment. but we had assumed for quite a while that at some point they would be taken off the deck for us. >> was the guilty plea a surprise? >> you know, when you lie to the fbi, sometimes you got to stand up and take your medicine. >> were you aware that he was arrested and been cooperating?
>> you've got an election in virginia next week, are you confident that -- >> we are going this way. >> reporter: senator, are you confident that virginia is ready for the election next week? >> well, i think that i was very pleased that virginia proactively, before the department of homeland security had even bothered to tell the 20 2 1 states that the russians attempted to tamper with, that virginia changed out some of its vote magazines. i think they were in good shape, but i think this is going to be an ongoing challenge and ongoing threat. and i would hope that, and i think you have seen some progress between the state electoral systems working more closely with dhs and others to make sure that we're safe from tampering. >> reporter: you have been very critical of twitter when they came before you guys earlier. you're going to have another chance with their executives and the other social media executives tomorrow, what do you need to hear from them about the steps they're taking to fight
back against this kind of interference? >> i think we saw yesterday that the number of accounts that twitter has identified has gone up dramatically. i still have questions, a series of questions for facebook because while the number of americans that were touched has gone up, the actual number of accounts and ads doesn't seem to have changed. i still question whether all the activity really simply came from one internet troll farm in st. petersburg. but again, i think what we're seeing is incremental progress from all these firms in terms of recognition, the extent of this problem, and how -- i want to know tomorrow three things, one, a full explanation of what happened in 2016. two, how they can work with us in a cooperative manner to make sure this doesn't happen on a going forward basis. i have some very light-touch
legislation that doesn't get at all the problems or false accounts, but at least it tries to guarantee that on political ads, that americans will know the content and the source of those ads. and then three, i think the idea of how much effect can be had by a relatively small amount of money with 40 to 50 trained hackers and 50 or 100,000 computerized bots, you can drive a story that almost any of you would end up covering, even though it may have no relationship to truth. >> reporter: we demand to release the ads that papadopoulos -- >> so you have been watching mark warner there. and before that you saw richard burr, the chair of the intelligence committee, speaking with garrett haake, among others about a couple different threads here. the google execs having a
hearing on capitol hill this week. and number two, election protections in place for the virginia elections next week. and number three, bringing you back to the conversation with tom, aaron and anna, the plea agreement by george papadopoulos and what that means for the congressional investigations. because remember, those are happening also. you have all these things happening at the same time. and i thought it was interesting, tom, we had a conversation here at the table as garrett interviewed senator burr there, he said, yeah, we're not really impeded in our investigation, but dot, dot, dot. >> well, look, the answer is they are impeded in the investigation. the fact is, at least if you look at manafort and gates, if you are under federal criminal indictment, that is going to make you renosant to go into congress and tell what you know. the first thing you don't want to do is clam up and we'll present this in a court of law, not with congressional investigators. >> the special counsel investigation was always going to be the big one. i mean, there are tons of resources behind this.
congress is in the news because they do press conferences like this and talk about what they're doing to some degree. >> bob mueller certainly doesn't do that. i always think that we'll be seeing these pieces play out, what members of congress have to say, watching the coverage here, there are reports he's angry and upset. there are reports he's fuming about it. his legal team is denying that, they are saying, he's filled in on what was going on and that was it. what is your sense of what is happening behind closed doors? >> i think they are putting on a brave face here. clearly, donald trump does not like it when he's attack in the media. you saw today where he's kind of trying to place blame on other things. where he feels under attack, he feels under attack with papadopoulos coming and having a cooperative agreement. you just saw him tweeting about was a story i wrote yesterday, tony podesta is resigning from his firm amid scrutiny by
mueller, he says that is the top story, we shouldn't be talking about paul manafort and rick gates. >> pull up the tweets there. anna is report, tony podesta was being looked at here and he stepped down from his firm. the president is going, hey, why aren't people talking about that? that's what we have seen from the president before, tom. let's not forget, there's also the other piece of this, it is not russian meddling solely, it is also bob mueller looking into whether the president obstructed justice when ordering the fbi to fire. >> that's absolutely right. this is a broad-ranging investigation. i think what happened yesterday is chapter one in what may be a look book. and you are absolutely right. you have to be concerned if you are in the white house of the obstruction investigation, pr perjury, false statements, once you are talking to people in the white house, any misstep could expose them to criminal jeopardy. >> tom, always have to have you and your perspective on the show. aaron and anna, hang out. the republicans are sprinting ahead on tax reform or trying to. we could see some version of a bill tomorrow and a vote before
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president's thinking. >> reporter: but you obviously do, it sounds like. >> we'll have to see what happens. as i have said before, these things are a centipede. there is always another shoe that drops. >> it is a mccain-ism from senator john mccain a few minutes ago. the republicans would be rather talking about tax reform than donald trump's mood. so today, that's what a lot of folks in the gop are doing. house leaders are making last-minute changes to their tax bill before tomorrow's expected rollout. one possible update according to "the washington post," allowing deductions for property taxes. well, all of that is still up in the air. one thing is for sure, house speaker paul ryan is not letting russia get in the way of what congress has to do. >> nothing is going to derail what we are doing in congress because we are working on solving people's problems. >> so msnbc's garrett haake who has been jockigging through the hallways all morning is here. tell me what you are hearing
from reasons, tax cuts and what to expect tomorrow? >> reporter: sure. well, on a certain point there, speaker ryan's probably right, because until the tax bill gets released tomorrow, everything being done behind the scenes with the spotlight somewhere else is actually kind of helpful. you mentioned this change in property tax, that is something they hope might placate some of the republicans from high tax states who voted against the budget in the house because they were worried about the change to state and local tax deductions. every time something becomes public about this, it becomes a little harder to get it done. over the weekend, you had the national association of home builders say this is something they can't support because of a change in a home mortgage tax credit. so the more this comes to light, the more harder it is to keep sort of all the, all the puppies in the basket here to come up with the cutest possible metaphor for tax reform. on the senate side, we have a lag of about a week.
on the senate side where things lag for a week, a lot of the focus is here on the intel committee hearing room today, it was on mueller's activity today, and what if anything needs to be done to protect him to continue doing his job. and sort of the summarizing of what i heard, republicans and democrats agree mueller's work is getting more serious and needs to be left alone to do his job. there's disagreement on whether that should be done legislatively or whether the white house knows how to leave him alone. but here's one bite of me talking to richard burr how this could complicate things going on in the intel committee as mueller takes pieces off the chez boar chess board. is george papadopoulos on your radar? >> i think it is safe to say he is. >> reporter: someone you were interviewing? >> we were in constant conversation with the legal team. >> reporter: i assume the conversation is over now? >> i think it is.
>> reporter: so burr was quick there, but this is the most public view and will change now as mueller starts to tighten things up here. it gets more difficult for them to do their job. and i think everybody will start to move a little quicker here on the hill. >> garrett haake joining us from capitol hill with a puppy in the basket metaphor. thank you. i have aaron blake and anna palmer here with me. guys, you have the republicans trying to get past the indictment, the plea agreement, looking to get back on the agenda. one of your colleagues points out in "the washington post," by day's end, republicans had mostly settled on a strategy in line with the way they dealt with the president in as many controversies for much of the year. don't criticize or defend him too much. and establish distance from him when at all possible. how effective is that strategy? how does that affect their agenda? >> that keeps themselves out of the news but does nothing to slow down the news cycle.
they obviously want to legislate, but it becomes so much more difficult when stuff is going on around them. this tax reform bill that will come out is going to have something for everybody to hate. i mean, we are -- >> calling it a tax reform bill seems to give it, does it give it too much? >> the it too much credit? >> the more it's towards tax reform, it's a hit. when you talk about taking away the home mortgage credit, the homeowner builders association is now against this whole thing. that is when you're getting to the tax reform side of things. that's when you start alienating people. >> it seems like a big part of the debate. anna, i know your deep tax cuts and how do you pay for it part. so how much -- where do you see that going? >> i think right now you see house republicans huddling on this. they haven't released a lot of these cuts that are going to be potentially painful. that's what turns members of congress against them. i was talking to sources last night saying they were others
going in the direction they're expected to. i'm not seeing a lot of democrats jumping on board to help out. >> this rollout is supposed to be tomorrow, right? >> correct. today you have president donald trump meeting with paul ryan. they're going to be speaking about this. they're going to have this massive rollout. kevin brady has been working on this for the chairman of the tax writing committee for months. this is going stob tto be the b thing. they need to pass this or republicans think they will not keep their majorities. >> let's talk about what else is happening on capitol hill which is fema administrator brock long testifying publicly about his agency's response to the terrible hurricane season as other officials are speaking with members of congress as well. after the break, we'll bring you up to speed about what he's saying about rebuilding puerto rico even with 70% of the island still without power. er that accn with the pole, and i 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...
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events, but they happened in rapid succession of a 25-day period which is unprecedented. >> fema administrator brock long a couple of minutes ago. he is right now taking questions just down the street from us on capitol hill. the senate looking for answers about the federal government's response to this year's hurricane season including hurricane maria which devastated puerto rico. it's been nearly six weeks since then. and right now seven in ten people still do not have power. a lot of folks are still, frankly, desperate for something to get done. food, drinkable water, of course electricity. as there are some real questions about "the wall street journal" reporting ta the fbi is investigating how whitefish energy, the small montana company, got a very large contract. $300 million to rebuild the power grid there. nbc's gabe gutierrez in s in san juan for us. we know the head of puerto rico's power authority has tried to make moves to cancel this
contract with whitefish. bring us up to speed on where this stands. >> reporter: hi, hallie. good morning. yes, as you mentioned fema administrator on capitol hill right now. fema administrator brock long is saying that to say this hurricane season is historic is an understatement. he also says that more than 4 million survivors have registered for fema assistance. and that is more than hurricanes katrina, wilma, and other -- some other hurricanes combined. also including superstorm sandy in there as well. so there is a lot of questions being raised about this white fish energy contract that had gotten so much attention over the past couple of days. the power authority here is moving to skrab that contract. now officials are scrambling to try to find a replacement. the governor here saying much yal aid from states like new york and florida will be critical in order to help rebuild this power grid. over the weekend i did speak with the whitefish ceo.
he took his critics head on. this is before the governor announced he wanted to cancel the contract. let's take a listen. >> i think there's people out there on a whiitch hunt looking for something that does not exist. people might have a hard time contemplating how a small company in the u.s. could get such a large contract. it's worth noting this is not to exceed contract. whether we get to that nominal value or not is another story. but i would ask people to think about what our country was founded on. you know, it was founded on people that have an entrepreneurial spirit. >> reporter: so now that contract will be canceled. the governor here saying that now the biggest frustration is actually with the army corps of engineers. it says -- the governor says the
army corps only has seven brigades here. he says there's no sense of urgency from the army corps. so we expect more questions throughout the morning and afternoon of the fema administrator about the federal response. fema some local officials say include san juan's mayor who has been a critic of the response. she said that aid is getting her but there are questions how the army corps is proceeding. >> gabe staying on top of that story for us. thank you. i also want to thank aaron and anna here. now we want to hit you with today's big picture. for today we think it's fitting if we go beyond the grave, if you will. musicians in mexico city celebrating day of the dead. now, remember this is not mexican halloween. right? instead, what you're seeing is a celebration of life essentially. the 3,000-year-old holiday focusing on death but not in a spooky or scaring way. it's about laughing in the face of death. celebrations like you see here,
lost loved ones through costumes and music and food. the photographer here for the ap. would love to hear your thoughts on facebook, twitter, snapchat. send me your costumes for the day. interesting if you're going to dress up as a basket of puppies. >> why aren't you dressed up? >> you know, later. that comes later. >> i dressed up as ali. he looks a lot like me, right? in a body suit. >> ridiculous. >> don't you have news to do? >> i love halloween, but i love the news. guess what. we've got a lot of it. good morning, everyone. i'm stephanie rhule. >> i am ali velshi. we're dressed as ourselves. it is tuesday, october 31st. it's halloween. let's get started. >> i never heard of papadopoulos. he was the coffee boy. he had nothing to do with the campaign. and all of this