tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBC November 5, 2017 10:00am-11:00am PST
good afternoon. i'm ari melber at msnbc world headquarters in new york. we're live with an nbc special report from richard engel. two major stories breaking right now. first, nbc news reporting exclusively that robert mueller now has enough evidence to bring some kind of charges in the investigation into michael flynn and his son. and a bombshell breaking at this very moment. we're reporting on new evidence revealing that the secretary of commerce, wilbur ross, is in business right now with a company that has very close ties to vladimir putin. this is a breaking story. and its suggests he could be the latest in the trump administration under scrutiny for ongoing ties to russia. going to have a lot of the details in moments. >> first, it's very important for us here at nbc to explain
how and from where we got all this brand-new information, because there is a lot more where this story came from. for that, joining me now is chief foreign correspondent richard engel who helped break the story. richard. >> good to join you. it's a busy news day. let me try to lay out the reporting we have, how we got it, and its implications. we have been given access to what some people call the paradise papers. they are an enormous pile, 7 million pages in all, of files and e-mails that somehow leaked out of a law firm in bermuda called appleby. the papers were originally obtained by a german newspaper, and then passed on to the international consortium of investigative journalists who has done a great deal of work on this. they have been organizing and cross referencing the documents, looking at the people and companies who are the clients of this law firm. generally, the kind of people who hire a high-end offshore law
firm like appleby have two things in common. they have lots of money, and they don't want anyone to know where the money is. you can imagine, there are a lot of worried people out there right now and a lot of urgent meetings going on in board rooms to discuss how to deal with the fact that a bunch of dirty secrets are about to be revealed. we can also tell you today that most of the companies and individuals whose information was leaked are american. and they include some names and brands like apple, nike, and uber, that we're all very familiar with. there are also governments that had offshore businesses that they didn't want anyone to hear about, including the queen of england. so stay tuned. this leak is going to be making news for a while. >> but now, back to the story we have been reporting on extensively. we were given access to the leaked papers of one of applebee's biggest clients, wilbur ross. before he became our commerce secretary, ross specialized in buying companies that were about to go out of business and either turning them around or stripping
them for parts on wall street. they used to call him the king of bankruptcy. he made a lot of money over the years. at some point, he was said to be worth about $3 billion. when he took the cabinet position, he promised to give up almost all of his businesses. but what the secret files show is that he still owns a major stake in at least one company. and that company is in business with some of vladimir putin's closest confidantes. wilbur ross has been doing business with president trump for years. he was one of the biggest and wealthiest supporters during the campaign. so after the election, it was no surprise that he was offered a cabinet job. >> gave me a proper hat. >> what was surprising was that the president chose to nominate a billionaire corporate raider to be the secretary of commerce. the face of american trade around the world. the president, of course, had a different take. >> one of the networks said,
why, he put on a billionaire at commerce. well, that's because this guy knows how to make money, folks. i mean, i would put on a killer. i have been honest. i said i'm going to be putting on the greatest killers you have seen. >> in his confirmation hearings, this 79-year-old killer impressed senators by pledging to get rid of nearly all of his assets, holding on to just nine of more than 80 companies he owned. >> i don't want to embarrass you or presume, but obviously, of all of the billions of dollars in holdings that you own now, you have divested more than 90%. you have resigned from 50 positions. you did it to avoid any conflicts of interest, correct? >> that is correct, sir. >> i'm astonished and appalled, because i think our committee was misled and the american people were misled.
those shell companies -- >> we interviewed senator richard blumenthal, a democrat, on friday. >> we will be formulating a strategy going forward because of this jaw-dropping new information. this kind of report is really a bombshell. >> the bombshell is that the leaked documents show that ross continued to control a major stake in a shipping company called navigator. navigator has a close business relationship with a russian oil giant called sibur, owned by members of vladimir putin's most inner circle. they include this man. husband of this woman, putin's daughter. >> she became one of the biggest co-owners of the petro chemical company sibur. also out of nowhere, he didn't have his own capital to invest, but he was given loaned by the state controlled banked.
>> vladimir melof is now a member of the russian opposition, but he was once putin's deputy energy administrator. he believes sibur is part of putin's own secret business empire. >> you can speak of the petro chemical company as one of the assets that allegedly is owned and controlled by putin himself. >> of course, putin's name does not appear on any paperwork, but two other major shareholders are this man and this man. both billionaires, both close enough to putin to be targets of u.s. sanctions. >> it strikes me as somewhere between odd and inconceivable why anybody would have a connection such as you describe. >> daniel freed was the sanctioned coordinator at the state department. he told me while ross' business links to these men might not be a direct sanctions violation, they're still problematic. >> i would like to think that any official of the united
states government, much less a senior person, would automatically regard a crony or a sanctioned individual as radioactive. and stay away. >> what does it tell you that we're not just talking about one person? three people. >> what are they thinking? it doesn't pass the smell test. the ethical standards ought to be higher than just, well, my legal department said it was okay. >> what all of this means, of course, is that there are only a few degrees of separation between the person in charge of u.s. trade policy and the russian president. >> the fact that he's commerce secretary is icing on the cake. if i were up for a job like that and i had some business ties that were narrowly legal but ethically questionable, dump them. just dump them. is there no such thing as, like, i'm rich enough? i don't need anymore. i don't get it. >> ross did disclose his assets fully, more or less. his financial disclosure form ran 57 pages.
and in a separate letter to an ethics official at the department of commerce, ross promised to get rid of almost every financial stake he owned. so the committee didn't really investigate the handful of companies he kept. >> it's a disclosure, but it's a disclosure in code. in effect. you look at all of these names, hundreds of different names of companies. and they actually look like a code. >> kathleen clark is an expert in government ethics. she reviewed the papers ross submitted. >> just a list of names, of companies. >> names of companies, and in some cases, valuations of the companies. how much the company is worth. but not the nitty-gritty of what does this company actually do? >> is that useful or meaningful at all to someone who is trying to assess the ethical practices of that person? >> it's a start. but you need more information. i would say this gives the appearance of transparency, but you really need more information.
it's sort of fake transparency in a sense. >> what she means is that ross' stake in navigator is held through an impenetrable shell structure. shell companies hold about a third of navigator's stock, currently worth more than $176 million. how much of that stock belongs to ross himself is impossible to establish because the shares are held by two funds which unturn are held by four other companies. >> they are hidden like mutrush caw dolls are hidden one within the other. what that can do is limit liability. it can obscure the ownership. it can make it more difficult to trace who is responsible. >> it didn't happen by accident. >> no, these things do not happen by accident. they have to be created. >> creating and maintaining such secret complex ownership structures is what appleby, the bermuda law firm, specializes in. ross was one of it top clients.
now, ironically, it's the leak of appleby files that is exposing the secretary's business dealings. why did secretary ross' stake in navigator never come up in his confirmation hearings? >> there were a lot of issues that seemed to be resolved because he said he had sold and divested so many companies. and navigator seemed to be among the companies that he divested. >> a lot of these holding companies are effectively impenetrable shells. did that raise alarm bells? >> i asked questions. i voted against him because he didn't answer those questions. >> do you think that you and your colleagues during the confirmation process did enough vetting? >> we could have done more vetting. if we had more time, if the committee had probed more deeply. with more resources. and if we had not been in effect misled. >> what this ross story tells us
is that our disclosures are not adequate. he complied with the law. that tells us something about the law. the law is inadequate. >> we asked secretary ross to discuss these issues with us, but he did not return our calls. his office released a statement which read in part, no funds managed by his company ever owned a majority of navigator shares. going on to say, ross never met the three individuals mentioned. and that he has been generally supportive of the administration's sanctions of russian entities. and that's the key question here. sanctions. putin was hoping that the trump administration would lift the sanctions that have severely hurt the businesses of those closest to him. the secretary of commerce is expected to be deeply involved in any decision on those sanctions. >> how much influence does the commerce secretary have over sanctions? >> the commerce department was a major player. and the commerce department professionals were key players. sure. >> based on this information. >> yeah. >> does wilbur ross have an
inventive to lift sanctions on russia? >> wilbur ross has a business relationship with putin's son-in-law and other russian oligarchs. he may see his long-term financial interest as tied to their wellbeing. >> is that a problem? >> what i want to know is whether he has touched u.s. sanctions policy toward russia. >> appleby, the law firm in bermuda, has warned all of its clients that their information may now become public. it is also issued a statement in which it said that it is an offshore law firm who advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business. we do not tolerate illegal behavior. it goes on to say that those documents were obtained illegally and that their release may result in exposing innocent parties to data protection breaches. appleby said it would cooperate with any legitimate investigation into what the leak reveals and it's hard to imagine that this won't trigger a whole bunch of investigations because
there are more stories to come from this enormous pile of documents. >> richard, this is quite a bit of reporting here. as you mentioned, it's got layers. on the what's next, this is not an allegation of a crime. this is reporting that suggests the potential hiding from the senate of business links to russia by a trump cabinet official. so in your view, what does the senate do next? >> the senate has a difficult position right now. the senate can apply pressure, and by the way, we did speak to some legal experts and a former ethics adviser to president bush who said there may be criminal activity because dealing with sanctioned entities is problematic and potentially a crime, but more information needs to be done. the cabinet serves as the pleasure of the president. so we will see how this plays out. but i do expect that we're going to see more pressure coming from the senate on the administration
because of this and because of the context in which it has been coming out, with so many of these ties now to russians. >> on the legal and ethics questions facing wilbur ross, what we're going to do in a moment is bring in former prosecutors and ethics experts on this very issue. before we get to that analysis, you actually have more reporting on another piece that touches russia involving social media. tell us what you found. >> so this document leak as we said involved seven million pages of files and data, and it talks about firms. it talks about clients of this law firm. and we have been talking for a long time about russia's influence, which it projects through social media platforms like facebook and twitter. well, the documents reveal evidence of a russian stake in the ownership of those companies going back to their very early days. at the heart of this story is a russian-born american educated tech investor named yuri milner.
he's a venture capitalist and billionaire. youry through his company was an early and major investor in both facebook and twitter. it turns out that millions of dollars of the money that he was investing came from two sources. a subsidiary of russia's largest state-run corporation and the country's second largest bank. both are controlled by the kremlin. now, milner has sold his holdings after facebook and twitter went public. and by the way, he made quite a bit of money from those deals. >> interesting. so again, that relates to money that does, in your view, whatever the paper tail tied back to kremlin controlled entities. >> this is a separate story. obviously, we have the issue of wilber rur ross, who was holdin these holding companies and inside these holding companies were the connections through business to sanctioned individuals. and putin's son-in-law. and this is another thing revealed in the documents, which talk about early investments
from -- into facebook and twitter and where that money came from. and it came from these state-run corporations. >> fascinating. as you mentioned at the top of your report, these are just some of the leads coming from a treasure-trove of supposedly, supposed to be secret financial documents. >> they're called the paradise papers. you remember the panama papers in. >> sure. >> same group of people. and we're talking about this german newspaper, the international consortium of investigative journalists. we had an early look at the papers in regards to the wilbur ross and we'll have a full hour on this coming up tonight here on msnbc, 6:00 p.m. >> 6:00 p.m., the full report on this, and i suspect having this story broke this hour, it's going to continue to cause shock waves not only in washington but capitals and financial cities around the world. >> and we have more. >> a lot more at 6:00. richard engel, thank you. i want to turn directly to msnbc legal analyst nick ackerman who is a former watergate prosecutor.
steven giller is a professor at new york university's law school and one of the nation's leadest experts on legal ethics, and paul buttoner, msnbc analyst and former prosecutor with an expertise in corruption. professor gillers, i go to you first. anyone in law school knows your work as an ethicse expert. ethics is different than crime. walk us through for wilbur ross what you see as the ethical issues in disclosure and what lawyers often focus on, any potential conflict of interest given what are exposed ongoing ties that lead back to russia. >> ethics is different from crime. so it may be that wilbur ross committed no crime. we should assume he committed no crime. but for government officials, ethics means behaving in a way that encourages public confidence in the neutrality of your decisions. so that decisions are not perceived to be made for your own benefit.
now, ross' economic holdings could challenge that obligation. we'll need to know a lot more about decisions he made that could or could not have enriched his holdings. his promise to the senate to disinvest himself and then failure to do so in this one instance is certainly problematic. it reflects on his probity. which doesn't mean that it's illegal for failure to carry out a promise. and it is true that the senate can't do anything about it now because he's been confirmed. but what a president should do is to insist that his appointees, those who serve at his pleasure, in the executive branch, behave in a way that will not compromise the confidence of the public in their decisions. it's not a question about whether or not they will
actually make a wrong decision to benefit themselves. it's a question of public confidence that they won't. >> paul butler, speak to professor giller's point there, which is even if this doesn't involve any swapping, say, of sanctions issues, which was something that another expert referenced in the discussion with richard engel in that report, or any other quote/unquote potentially favorable treatment, that this also goes to the confidence of the american public that decisions made within the trump cabinet are being made strictly on the basis of the u.s. interests and not potentially ongoing ties to russian business interests. >> that's right, ari. it's about the appearance of fairness that our qualified cabinet officers are making decisions in a way that's not about their own personal financial interests, which actually is a crime. so 18 u.s. code 208 says if a
federal government officer makes a government action that is related in any way to their personal financial interests, that's a felony. so most of the -- >> which i just have to say, which he is not accused of based on this paper trail. >> so we have to know what his dealings were with regard to sanctions and russia, because if he's involved in any consideration of the sanctions like how they work, how long they'll apply, then i think there's a case to be made. again, we're a long way away from that. this is more of an ethical issue and a political issue for president trump. but i think it's way too soon to say that it's not also a criminal issue. >> nick? >> i clearly see a criminal issue here, just in his presentation to the senate during the confirmation hearings. he made various representations about his holdings. he submitted certain documents showing what companies he had
ownership interest in. now, i haven't seen all those documents, and i don't think anyone else here has. but my guess is that company that he had the holding in with respect to the russian oil deal is not on that list. and that omission could wind up being a federal felony. we just need to know more of the details, but clearly, there is a basis for an investigation as to whether or not wilbur ross committed perjury before the senate committee. >> let me go to professor gillers on this because the defense from mr. ross involves the history of this, which goes in his favor. he argues, because he says a lot of these things go back to 2012. so there's not some ongoing effort to hide it. that's argument number one. then argument number two, professor gillers, is that he did, he says, disclose the parent companies, the ownership structure. so you might call this, again, for folks who don't want to get too lost in the legal details, you might call it a snickers bar
defense. he's saying i told you there was a snickers bar, and now the details are coming out that there was, you know, some sort of glucose sugar in there, and people are saying you didn't list that. he's saying, maybe i didn't, but i told you it was snickers. you want to flip it over and look at the list, you can. speak to that. i say it, not in sarcasm, but in reality, that is what he's submitted. he submitted a lot of over arching companies which then have all of these extra details on the back of their label. >> well, i think we're far away from any conclusion about the possibility of criminal conduct. that's a very serious charge. he would have had to intend to lie to the senate, and then indeed lie to the senate to warrant a criminal charge. what this does do, however, and i think this is the most important part, is that it gives mr. mueller a whole new area of inquiry. it may be that he turns up
evidence of crime. it may be that he doesn't. but it certainly gives him the opportunity now to dig -- if he isn't doing it already, to dig into ross' background, his senate testimony, and his conduct after testifying. the fact that he may have promised the senate that he would do something later and did not do it in fact, if that turns out to be so, that is not criminal. he may have broken his promise, and that might have compromised his credibility with the american people, but it's not a crime. >> so we have talked about ethics, the appearance of c conflict and some of the potential criminal investigative hooks. now we're 23 minutes in, and professor gillers is the first person to say bob mueller. i want to go to the other two prosecutors. based on your knowledge, and our viewers know you as people who cover and provide expertise on
this, on your knowledge of mueller's portfolio, is this something he can investigate? >> i think that's a really important question. so we know that there's this pattern now of trump cronies failing to disclose their dealings with russia. paul manafort, michael flynn, trump jr. ryan, kushner, the list goes on. so when special counsel mueller has then interest in failure to disclose, it's been mainly as a means to an end. so when kushner or actually when manafort didn't disclose some of his dealings with the ukraine, at the end of the day, that's not what special counsel mueller is interested in. he's interested in using that as a way to get leverage over manafort to make him cooperate. so if this turns out to be only about the commerce secretary's failure to disclose some of his dealings with the russians but there's no other significance with regard to the collusion investigation, i don't think that mueller will see this as
part of his portfolio, but he's got to investigate. again, given this very troubling pattern of trump officials and trump campaign workers lying or conveniently forgetting about their relationship with the russians. >> fascinating. a lot here, and i want to reiterate in our reporting, as richard engel found, there is a paper trail here that raises new questions about wilbur ross, his financial ties back to russia, and whether or not that involves any other illicit allegations of conduct is not on the paper trail disclosed. the question being, will the senate look into it? senator richard blumenthal telling nbc news he feels misled and the larger legal question of whether any other investigations could also dig into this remains because this is breaking news, unknown. i promise to get everyone's view. nick ackerman, i don't have yours yet. what i want to do is fit in a break and get your analysis on that question when we come back. steven and paul, thank you for joining us on this breaking story. up next, we have other
breaking news. it is a busy sunday here at msnbc world headquarters. nbc news reporting the former national security adviser mike flynn and his son are in an investigative stance that could lead to potential charges in the investigation. we'll explain right after the break. copd makes it hard to breathe. so to breathe better, i go with anoro. ♪go your own way copd tries to say, "go this way." i say, "i'll go my own way" with anoro. ♪go your own way
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folks understand what you are and are not reporting. this relates to potential charges but of whom and how? >> well, there's a number of things, the reason why it's worded that way, sort of very carefully is there are a number of things we don't know. what we know is that the special counsel has compiled enough evidence to bring charges in the investigation into michael flynn and his son, michael g. flynn. we don't know how that is going to play out because of a number of things. one is, you know, would one of them or both choose to cooperate with the investigation? or is either already cooperating with the investigation? where a number of avenues that the special counsel could go down in terms of different types of charges they could bring. there are a number of things they're looking at in terms of michael flynn. did he lie to the fbi, was there any money laundering in terms of his business dealings. >> let's pause on the point you're making.
the fact that your reporting from multiple sources suggested another development in this case, here we are just a few days out, really, from the first public charges and guilty plea is that there is evidence to bring these charges, not necessarily that the charges ultimately will be brought. indeed, your reporting seems to suggest it depends on the conducts of the players. >> and a number of factors we don't have a full sense of. the other thing that is in our story that is new and really interesting is this michael flynn's ties to turkey. and specifically what the special counsel is looking at, whether michael flynn once inside the white house, took steps to try to facilitate the return of this cleric that's been living in pennsylvania to the government of turkey. and whether he was making that push in order to potentially receive millions of dollars, if
it were to be successful. that's a very significant thing. >> you're using a lot of words to raise the question of whether he was bribed to change u.s. foreign policy. >> that's essentially the question. >> and then i want to bring in the prosecutors, but to get your reporting out. you bring in the context we already know, the former acting attorney general testified under oath that he did something beyond words, sally yates said it was conduct that made her rush to the white house to warn the white house counsel. do you have any linkage there or we don't know? >> i don't think we know. we know that the special counsel has been looking at michael flynn's conversations with the former russian ambassador to the u.s. and his business dealings. >> but we can't draw that link. >> right. >> let me bring in for analysis in a row, ronoddo and then nick. >> so what i expect has happened, ari, is typically a prosecutor will, before they bring an indictment, they'll talk to the defense counsel and tell them, we have the evidence. we intend to bring an
indictment. and this is your opportunity now to do one of two things. first of all, you can come to us and try to convince us not to bring charges. i will tell you that is very rarely successful. usually what i would tell clients is, you know, it's worth a chance. it's worth an hour of our time, but it's -- in a situation like this, very difficult to see him convincing mueller not to bring charges. and then, separately, the defense is now then going to have to make a decision, do we want to flip, do we want to cooperate? and the question there, and i think the calculus there is different than typical defendants. mr. flynn has to decide, do i think the president of the united states is going to pardon me? do i think he's going to pardon my son. because typically, what mueller is doing by looking at mr. flynn's son is doing something that prosecutors do pretty often. here in illinois when my former office investigated governor ryan, his key aide that flipped, he flipped because his fiancee
was being investigated by the united states attorney's office, and an exchange for giving her leniency, he cooperated against the governor. so the same playbook could be used here where the president may like michael flynn, but will he pardon michael flynn's son? how much is mr. flynn willing to gamble that the son is going to get a pardon? here what could happen is mr. flynn could do what's called vicarious cooperation, where he would cooperate on the son's behalf for leniency for his son. and that's really what i suspect is going on. i suspect this leak is from the defense team. and they have to decide now, do they want to get lesser charges that are brought or do they want to have to basically try to fight this as long as they can in the hope of getting a pardon down the road. >> nick. >> yeah, i think this is all consistent with mueller's overall strategy. as shown by the the manafort indictment was the campaign manager, right up at
the top. flynn is another person right at the top. and what they're really trying to do is go for the jugular here. get the two top people that are closest to the president, try to get them to turn. try to get them to cooperate. those people have information on not only the president but all of the people around the president, including don jr., jared kushner, ivanka trump, et cetera. so it's all very consistent. very early on in the investigation. really lining up the two people that really are key individuals, who have the most to say, and the most to cooperate on. >> and it really is a fascinating amount of developments and really speed that we're seeing from bob mueller if, as carol says, they're really this close to new people involved in this investigation, this breaking story from nbc news today, which is on top of the story that led our hour, richard engel's
reporting with a consortium of journalists about wilbur ross' ties to putin's son-in-law through financial ties that were opaque, if not completely disclosed. nick, i promised to get your shoe on whether bob mueller will be looking at that. >> i think there are two big themes that come out of that that are very disturbing. one of the major themes coming outf that is sanctions. the sanctions we have on the russians. i mean, again, this is another avenue that the russians are going after to try to lift those sanctions. we saw that with respect to the meeting on june 9th at trump tower where they were trying to lift the sanctions with respect to the magnitsky act. it's a very concerted effort here by this organized crime group called the russian government, trying to lift those sanctions. and on top of it, we also see a very concerted effort by that same organized crime group to infiltrate this administration. donald trump himself had
emissaries talking to the russian government about building a trump tower in moscow during the campaign. and now you've got wilbur ross, who has ongoing deals with putin's top people. >> right, and we don't know whether there are at all related, but your analysis there is they will be further investigated. i want to thank nick ackerman, carol lee with the big scoop today, renato, stick around. i want to ask you one more thing in the next block. >> in a moment, how today's breaking news plays out as donald trump travels abroad, and a lot of pressure building in washington.
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normal sunday here in msnbc world headquarters in new york. the breaking news. north kork nbc learning they have enough evidence to bring charges in the investigation of former national security adviser mike flynn as well as his son, all part of the mueller probe. multiple sources are telling nbc that. for more on the wider
implications, i want to bring in betsy woodruff who has been all over the russia story, as well as jeff mason, correspondent for reuters. and back with me, renato mariotti. betsy, your view of the news story? >> it really cuts to the core of the final campaign promise that president donald trump made, which was to drain the swamp. what we have seen, both with the indictments that came down last week and then in addition, this new information about the potential legal liabilities that general flynn could have and the way that secretary ross is mixed up in some financial dealings that can be described as questionable at best, it's clear that folks who are very close to the president, who are part of his inner circle, who have had extremely influential roles both in his campaign and now in his presidency, are also deeply enmeshed in some of the systems that trump spent his campaign railing against. in particular, global financial systems. remember, trump's closing
campaign ad went after goldman sachs. in addition to that, the way that foreign government lobbying in d.c. tries to essentially monetize american foreign policy. that's the narrative that's emerging from all of this, and it's a really important one. >> you talk about monetizing foreign policy, betsy, is it often the case, you put it perfectly into one sentence. jeff, speak to that. some of the allegations here about mike flynn take things we already knew were deeply bizarre, unusual, and bad ideas, like his election day op-ed in the middle of the heat of a presidential campaign, that was explicitly lobbying on behalf of foreign interests in turkey. he wasn't in the white house yet. maybe he didn't think he was going to get into the white house. a lot of people untrump's inner circle didn't expect to win that day. we knew about that. what is new here over the weekend from carol lee's reporting, ken delainian and other reporters who have been dogging the story, as you know, is that may have ultimately continued into the white house, jeff. >> i think that's the key, ari,
is that the initial pieces of the russia investigation that robert mueller has addressed were for people who were part of a campaign but did not come with president trump into the house. that's not the case for michael flynn. he did come into the white house. his tenure was short, but he was there. it shows again how robert mueller is concentrating and bringing his investigation into pieces and people who are getting closer and closer to the president. that doesn't mean that michael flynn is going to flip, as one of your previous guests was saying. we don't know what he's going to say. we don't know what they have about him and what they might be charging him with, if nbc's reporting is right. >> we know that he offered to, quote, tell a story if he got fifth amendment protection. >> right. >> we do know that. >> fair enough, and with that knowledge and with just the background of the other things that mueller has been doing, it just brings it closer and closer to the white house and not just the campaign. >> renato, that's all of the
investigative background. walk us through the process right now when the president is abroad, some of his aides are with him, some are back home. some are trying to sell the tax plan. they're being rocked by these disclosures today. how hard is that in the middle of an investigation with a client like donald trump? >> wow, well, you know, one thing that defense attorneys always have to do, we call it client management. and essentially, what it is is making sure that your client doesn't make anything worse by talking to other people, by disclosing things that shouldn't be disclosed to people who don't have privilege, who aren't attorneys. so the client doesn't do anything or take any actions that could be seen to be furthering the criminal activity or obstructing justice. i think that we saw this last week, there was some, you know, anger from the president. it will be interesting to see what his reaction is now. we know, if james comey is telling the truth, that the president thought flynn was such a good guy that he was willing
to talk to the fbi director about dropping the investigation against him. so, you know, i imagine that this is news that is going to concern and worry the president. and who knows what he could do next. i think that, you know, i think what a lot of us are concerned about is will he take steps against bob mueller? hopefully, he will not. what i think the defense team is concerned about is will he take steps that will ultimately harm his case. >> betsy, i would never act you to predict indictments, but do you think the coming week is going to be busy on russia or not? >> i'm getting a good night's sleep tonight because i expect this week to be pretty nutty. >> you heard it here. i want to thank everyone for bearing with us and our timing has been off with all the breaking news. betsy woodruff, jeff mason, renato mariotti. >> up next, a special turn. the author of this book that is making waves about president bush 41 and 43, and who they even voted for, hint, it wasn't trump. that's next.
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president trump is actually declining to return fire, at least for now, on criticism from two former republican presidents, bush 41 and 43. he told reporters onboard air force one last night, quote, i'll comment after we come back. i don't need headlines. i don't want to make their move successful. this is all an outgrowth of a brand-new blockbuster book that george h.w. bush reveals for the first time officially he voted against trump and for hillary clinton, while his son george w. bush said he voted for none of the above and voted for republicans down ballot. the elder bush also calling trump, quote, a blow hard. joining me now, a very serious man in the middle of a serious story, mark updegrove. it's titled the last republicans. i was reading my sunday "new york times," as i am want to do, and it says this is the first time these two titanser these
presidents, had opened up in this was about their relationship. i want to find out how you got them to talk. first, on the voting thing, what does it tell you that bush, sr. was moved by bush to do what he vote for clinton. >> it tells you donald trump is a different kind of republican politician, so much so that he's not a republican. he's a republican nominally only. but husband policies, his stance on domestic and foreign policy is very different than the stances of those of george h.w. and george w. bush. >> why did these two men talk to you? >> they've been circumspect. i talked to them about the important historical aspect of this situation. this is the only father/son relationship that we've had -- father/son presidents with the exception of john adams and john quincy adams. there was 24 years between those presidency, the the presidency of john adams and john quincy adams and only eight between
george h.w. bush and george w. bush. it was a communications age where they could talk to each other on an immediate term basis to the nature of that was more important than the adams' relationship and history has to know what that relationship was ultimately about. >> george bush sr.'s view of his son's decision to start the iraq war? >> he was supportive. the one time that george w. bush solicited his father's advice relating to iraq was camp david before the war began where his father said "if the man won't comply with u.n. resolutions, you have to do something, you have to fight" which is what he did. he held back in terms of offering his views on the war in iraq, trusting his son would make his own way. >> do you think that pained the elder bush? everything we know about his deals with the very same man, saddam hussein, and the very same thicket of shenanigans and u.n. inspectors is that he didn't believe you should try to own iraq, you should topple it. >> what we know is this, that he
was quietly supportive. he didn't want to complicate his son's life by proffering unsolicited advice or going to the media certainly. he did listen to those close to him who were in his administration who had serious doubts, in particular james baker and brent scrowcroft who barbara bush said are like brothers to george h.w. bush. so he was concerned upon hearing their views. >> you write about the interest and effort to knock cheney off the ticket. >> which is consistent with george w. bush telling his father he might want to consider replacing quail yle in 1992. >> is that the thing? they meet up and give each other advice about the running mate and they don't take it. >> that may well be. george hw. bush didn't take that advice out of pure loyalty, george w. bush because he
couldn't think of anyone else to replace cheney. >> it's hard to replace the guy who headed the search for the guy. >> i don't know if you'll be allowed to answer this question -- how many decisions did george w. bush make because he didn't want to look weak? does that ever echo in the current president? >> i can't tell you about -- i don't know how many decisions he made out of the perception he might be weak. i think you can say about donald trump that there is this preoccupation with looking strong and often it comes off through belligerence and pugnacity and that often works against him. >> mr. updegrove, a fascinating book that everyone is talking about, including the president of the united states, actually using the trumpian trick of saying on the plane he won't talk about your book while he talks about it. you must be doing something right with your history. appreciate you joining us.
in the next hour, the furor over this dnc fight and donna brazil's book is coming up. we'll be right back. yup. getting kinda' close to my ride. wow... now, that's how you make a first impression. they're going to love you... that's ford, america's best-selling brand. hurry in today for 0% financing for 72 months across the full line of ford cars, trucks and suvs! and just announced...get 0% apr for 72 months plus $1000 cash back! take advantage of these exclusive holiday offers during the ford year end sales event.
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that concludes an hour of "breaking news." keir simmons is up next with the latest on the mueller investigation and that nbc report we had today. if you're looking for me, tomorrow you can find me 6:00 p.m. eastern on "the beat" here on msnbc. thanks for watching and we will be bright back. business has been great. they're affordable and fast... maybe "too affordable and fast." what if... "people" aren't buying these books online, but "they" are buying them to protect their secrets?!?! hi bill. if that is your real name. it's william actually. hmph! affordable, fast fedex ground. by listening to an thiaudiobook on audible.ame and this guy is just trying to get through the day.
♪ spread a little love today ♪ spread a little love my-y way ♪ ♪ spread a little something to remember ♪ philadelphia cream cheese. made with fresh milk and real cream makes your recipes their holiday favourites. the holidays are made with philly. we have breaking news about a church shooting in sutherland springs, texas. officials reported someone walking into the first baptist church and opening fire. multiple people are reported to be done but there's no clear picture on casualties. police were reportedly pursuing the suspect, we will keep you on top of this breaking story, information as we get it. i'm keir simmons in london and we are following two more breaking stories this hour in connection with the russia