tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBCW November 4, 2017 9:00am-9:30am PDT
at planters we know how to throw a remarkable holiday party. just serve classy snacks and be a gracious host, no matter who shows up. do you like nuts? good day, everyone. i'm alex witt here at msnbc world headquarters in new york. it's high noon in the east, 9:00 a.m. out west and here's what's happening. new twists today in the russia investigation may cast a long shadow as the president heads overseas. the trump camp downplaying the role of a former advisor, but new information and this video uncovered in the last 24 hours suggests otherwise. we're going to bring that to
you. and two former presidents with fresh and direct criticism of donald trump today. plus they reveal for the first time whom they voted for in the election. but first, new reaction from former trump campaign advisor carter page on whether he knew about george papadopoulos' contacts with russians during the campaign. >> he's someone i met and had a few brief conversations with. >> did he ever mention about this meeting with mifsud? >> i don't remember anything about that now. >> in your time at the trump campaign did you ever hear of anyone saying the russians have dirt on hillary, the russians have hillary's e-mails? >> not a word, not a word. >> never? >> no. >> now, his comments come amid new details from his closed door testimony before the house intel committee when he revealed for the first time that he had in fact met with russian government officials. this during a july 2016 trip to moscow. but just a few minutes ago telling my colleagues at nbc that it was more of a quick
hello and greeting. now all of this coming on the heels of president trump's high-stakes trip to asia. today the president is getting ready to head to japan, his first stop on the five-nation journey. yesterday he arrived in hawaii and he visited the memorial in pearl harbor. nbc's kelly o'donnell joins us once again from honolulu. with a good morning to you, what's it now, 6:00 a.m., a little better than the last time i spoke to you when it was pitch dark there. kelly, with a good day -- >> it's still dark, alex. >> i can tell it still is but not maybe as dark. it's a tour of high consequences, kelly. the issues related to the russia, 2016, campaign, all that interwoven activity potentially, this all remains as a backdrop, right? >> reporter: it certainly does. the president sort of carries with him whatever the issues are. in this case there are persistent questions that come up with the russia investigation, in part because of some of things the president is willing to talk about, like his criticism of the justice
department saying he is frustrated by a department which he supervisors but has to take some distance. wishing they would take a look at hillary clinton and the democratic party. we've heard that criticism from the president before. right now it's 6:00 a.m. in honolulu. he visited pearl harbor along with first lady melania trump. they paid respects at the uss arizona. they also had time to visit with military leaders and the families of the pacific command. and in a closed door briefing, the president was able to talk directly with those military leaders who would play a key role in any of the strategic moves that would take place regarding north korea. and the concerns that will be so much a part of this nearly two-week-long trip. so the president will leave about an hour from now. they have moved up the departure time from honolulu to tokyo. the president will begin in japan where he has maybe his closest relationship on the world stage when it comes to
asia with prime minister shinzo abe, who will be an important part of everything happening with north korea. later in the trip of course china will be an important partner as well because of their close relationship to north korea. alex. >> kelly, real quickly, what are you hearing about the possibility of the president meeting with president putin in the philippines at the end of the trip? >> reporter: there are two economic summits that will be part of president trump's itinerary. russia's president vladimir putin will be attending. we are told that the president himself is keeping the door open to a possible meeting with vladimir putin. he has described it as being important because of some of the areas where there is common sort of itinerary of issues. and that is certainly something that is a possibility. the white house isn't saying it's for sure. we saw that the president met with putin in person in germany at the g20 so another summit
could set the stage for that. >> thank you for that. for the very latest on the russia investigation, let's bring in barbara mcquade, also a law professor at the university of michigan and an msnbc contributor. with a welcome to you, barbara, i want to start with the new reporting from nbc news on george papadopoulos. now, although the president has been calling him a low-level employee and a liar, public records are revealing that papadopoulos repeatedly represented the trump campaign, including on the panel you're about to see for the american jewish committee. it happened during last year's republican national convention in cleveland. could the president's attempts to diminish papadopoulos' role, could that amount to obstruction of justice? >> well, the things he says in the public domain are statements that could be used against him later. i don't know that any of these statements in isolation could be used to build an obstruction of justice case, but i think at some point the collective
totality of all of his statements do begin to look like a pattern of obstruction of justice, especially when you couple it with some of the more overt things that he's alleged to have said to jim comey. >> okay. what about papadopoulos, for his part, because we have learned that he has pled guilty to lie to the fbi about his contacts with russia. he is now cooperating with mueller's probe. it's part of his plea deal. is it likely at this point that mueller has gathered a lot more information from papadopoulos than we are aware of at this point? >> yes, i think that's highly likely. i know that president trump and others want to minimize his role in the campaign. and no doubt he is a small fish. that's how the strategy typically works. but what we can safely conclude is that mueller's team gave him a plea deal, and they would only do that because they believe they were receiving something of value that could be information about others. if you look at that statement of the offense that was filed in connection with the plea agreement, he identifies four other officials with whom he communicated about this. not by name but by title.
he i'm sure told the team who those people were, and those people are now either subjects of interview or subjects of the investigation. in addition, i think it's quite possible and robert mueller said this in his motion to seal the documents, they wanted to explore proactive cooperation. that typically means that the person will wear a wire in conversations with other people in hopes of collecting information or recording phone calls. so it may be that any of those things have panned out and robert mueller has already gained that information. >> and if that has happened and if robert mueller has gained that kind of information, how is that useable? can that be admitted in court ultimately because it was done without the knowledge or consent of people who would have been on the other end of those conversations, or is it just part of research? >> no, those -- if those recordings were made, they can be used in court, played in court as substantive evidence. the classic case is perhaps with a mobster or drug dealer where you talk to someone either in realtime as they're conspiring
to commit a crime or to cover up evidence or you say remember when we communicated with those russians. wasn't that great. and you get the person to admit something that they have done in the past. so those statements could come in as substantive evidence for a jury to hear in court. >> as you know, attorney general jeff sessions under fire for his failures to recall the conversations between the trump campaign and russian officials after all of these new revelations that have come surrounding papadopoulos and carter page. how far can sessions take the forgetfulness defense here, legally speaking? it's forgetfulness or outright lying, but how do you go about proving either? >> yeah, that can be very tricky. of course to be charged with perjury or false statements, the first thing you have to show is that the statement was false. and i think we do have at least a direct contradiction now between what he said before congressional hearings and what we know now the truth to be. but of course you have to show that the person then in there knew that the statement was false. you can say either that we were
talking past each other in some way or that i simply forgot. so what a jury would be instructed there is because you can't read another person's mind, you have to look at the totality of the circumstances. what the person said, what the person did and other things going on around them. i would submit that in light of the intense scrutiny that we've seen with respect to the russia investigation and links to the campaign, maybe he's caught off guard the first time he testifies before congress. maybe even the second time. but by the third time that he appears before congress, you expect that someone would have done a little self reflection and thought long and hard about, gee, what were all of the contacts we might have had with russia so that the next time i testify under oath i can make sure i get it right. i think at some point people become very skeptical of the idea i simple low forgot. >> i don't have time to ask this but i'm going to anyway. you have said you think it might be better for the country if jeff sessions stays where he is despite potentially being fired despite the hot water he's in. why is that? >> if he were to resign, he is
currently recused from overseeing the russia investigation and instead those duties are falling on deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, who's a career prosecutor and made the choice to appoint special counsel robert mueller so he has demonstrated his respect for the rule of law. if sessions is out, that means president trump gets to appoint a new attorney general and that person would then assume the leadership of the department, including the russia investigation. now instead of rod rosenstein, we get a person of trump's choosing. >> okay, barbara mcquade, thank you very much. appreciate it. the tax plan, president trump calls it a beautiful christmas present. what's the real possibility of it getting passed by then? so i went onto ancestry, soon learned that one of our ancestors was eastern european. this is my ancestor who i didn't know about.
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campaign that knew about the trip? >> i mentioned it to a few people. >> who else? >> you know, it will come out. things keep leaking. >> and that was carter page, former trump campaign advisor, downplaying what he told then senator jeff sessions before heading to moscow. this in july 2016. the revelation a day after testifying before the house intel committee and admitting to meeting with a russian government official during that trip and then sending an e-mail to at least one campaign aide to share details about the meetings. joining me now, democratic congressman mike quickly gley o illinois who interviewed carter page behind closed doors on thursday. congressman, just a few minutes ago-carter page e-mailed my colleague, ken dilanian, that this meeting was not an actual meeting but just a quick hello and greeting. it was just in passing. look, i know you cannot share what happens during your hearings, but your reaction to carter page's latest explanation? >> the text of that interview
with the house intelligence committee will be available very, very soon. it's probably six hours worth of discussions. if that snippet gave anybody a headache, wait until you read six hours of it. this is the most evasive, bizarre witness i have ever had i guess the displeasure of coming across. he is evasive. he doesn't want to answer questions, and he does so in dribs and drabs. as he said in that snippet, you know, more is coming out, more is leaking. the fact is, it is a common trend of trump associates. there's now seven that we're aware of that have had communications with the russians. most of them prior to the election. it begins with the denial and then sort of a faced with reality acknowledging to the very minimal extent they possibly can. yes, there was communication. it's part of the problem with the investigation. this is going to take time. we're going to have to have
others come forward, probably dozens of more witnesses, to get the full truth of what actually took place. >> and i'm curious, congressman, in your experience as a member of this committee as you listen to people, what is the rationale for behaving so evasively? is it that someone is trying to protect themself, someone is trying to protect the bigger picture? someone has been told to behave this way? can you categorize that at all, why someone would be this evasive? >> i guess if i had to guess at this point in time, it would be the fact that they're just protecting themselves. you know, i was a criminal defense attorney for ten years. there's a reason people take the fifth. they don't want to self-incriminate. i get that and they have that absolute right. but you get this in the public and you get this in terms of the testimony that we have been witness to, there are very few people who want to acknowledge any involvement with this. >> well, the fact that jeff sessions never mentioned george papadopoulos trying to arrange a
meeting between trump and putin when asked in testimony whether any trump campaign folks had contacts with russia, how big a problem is this and how soon before he heads back to capitol hill potentially to testify again? >> oh, i think that mr. sessions should have a seat before the house select committee on intelligence. i think he'd feel insulted if we said that he was becoming forgetful at this point in his life. hey, i don't want to do that. i don't think he's forgetful. i think that he quite frankly wasn't honest when he testified before the senate in his confirmation hearing about times he met with the russians. he knew very well he met with the russians at the mayflower hotel and he knew that carter page told him he was going to travel to russia. so they all downplay this. first it's a denial. then it's making small fish out of people who were involved and minimizing these issues. this is so pain staking. this is why the watergate investigation took over a year. this will take much longer
because it's so much more complicated. it involves a foreign power. the democrats were in charge of the house and senate in the watergate time. we have none of those at this point in time and we have a white house that has a long history through this investigation of saying it is a hoax. of doing everything they can to discredit the fbi, to delay, to distract and i think elements of obstruction. >> carter page has said that he went to moscow on an unofficial trip, which could mean that it wasn't paid by the trump campaign, it wasn't set up by the trump campaign and all of that. but can you separate the fact that carter page was a member of the trump campaign while in those meetings? i mean can you figure out a reason why the russians would want to have a meeting for him but for the fact that he was working with donald trump during the campaign? >> it's easy to assume that the
russians wanted to have contact with someone who had potential influence with a presidential candidate or the future president of the united states. carter page has a long history of involvement and contact with russians and the russian government. and for him to say what he said so far is just evidence of the fact that he's willing to admit certain things, but certainly not the whole truth. >> congressman mike quigley of illinois, thanks for your time and insights. new reaction from president trump on the mueller inquiry, plus the changing stories coming from trump campaign advisers and how damaging they might be for the white house. that's next. liberty mutual stood with me
discover card. i justis this for real?match, yep. we match all the cash back new cardmembers earn at the end of their first year, automatically. whoo! i got my money! hard to contain yourself, isn't it? uh huh! let it go! whoo! get a dollar-for-dollar match at the end of your first year. only from discover. have you been told to expect to be questioned by the special counsel? are you prepared for that? >> no, nobody has told me. as far as i'm concerned, i haven't been told that we're under investigation. i'm not under investigation. >> president trump in a new
interview airing tomorrow, he once again claims he's not under investigation. joining me now, jeremy peters, reporter for "the new york times" and an msnbc contributor and jay newton small, contributor for "time" magazine. always good to see you both. i'll start with you, jeremy. i want to follow up on what the president said there. given what's come out of mueller's investigation so far, the indictments and the guilty plea, is there anything that suggests otherwise to what he said? >> well, i think you can't rule out the possibility, alex, that he will eventually be asked to answer some questions. i don't think that he himself knows whether or not that is something he can rule out, so to say that is kind of unknowable. i think what you can expect, though, is a tightening circle around the president of interest. you've seen that, i think a lot of these characters were kind of far flung and the indictments were issued for activities that by an large took place a while
ago before the trump campaign came into existence. but this is how investigations begin. this is how nets widen and eventually become tighter. so -- >> why do you think it's so important for the president to keep saying, jersquarjeremy, th not under investigation there. who is he trying to convince? >> himself. i think he really is so convinced, alex, that this is a witch hunt, that this is political persecution, that this is a political hate crime perpetrated against him by his enemies, and he needs to keep telling himself that he did nothing wrong and this is all just purely partisan. >> so, jay, congressman ted lieu of california is accusing jeff sessions of perjury after saidly say he recalls shooting down george papadopoulos' pitch for trump to meet with putin in that meeting. congressional investigators want to question sessions about these disclosures. sessions never mentioned this during his congressional testimony which asked whether any of the trump campaign folks had contacts with russians.
how big a problem is this? why not just say at the outset, yeah, he suggested it and i said no way and drop it? >> it is actually a big problem for both the president and for jeff sessions. the irony being that the president has said repeatedly that he regrets naming jeff sessions his attorney general for different reasons. in this case he probably will end up naming jeff sessions attorney general because jeff sessions is right now very close to being held in contempt of congress -- or not in contempt of congress, but a lot of members of congress are saying that he lied to them. he's going to be investigated for lying to them. most likely. and so we'll see what happens. but you don't want your own attorney general being investigated by his former colleagues in the senate and in the house for basically lying to them repeatedly on these contacts with russia. that just keeps the story alive and also really enfeebles not only jeff sessions but the entire justice department. >> is there a sense, jeremy,
that jeff sessions' job is in jeopardy? >> always. i think jeff sessions is just like any other cabinet member, at the whim of somebody who is entirely unpredictable and sometimes erratic. so jeff sessions absolutely could lose his job without a moment's notice. i don't think that's likely at this point, though. i think you're hearing, though, some consternation on the right that jeff sessions has not done enough to protect the president. and that's dangerous. that could be something we know because of the way that trump so carefully pays attention to conservative media, something that damages sessions and really helps sway trump's decision-making here. i don't think it's imminent, but it's always got to be a concern for sessions that he could be let go at any moment. >> sorry about the brevity of this discussion but you know i'll have you back again both very soon. thank you, jay. thank you, jeremy. that's going to do it for me this hour.
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