tv MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin MSNBC November 14, 2017 10:00am-11:00am PST
standard than the young police officer whose life you ruined by prosecuting him for perjury. i yield back. >> the gentleman may respond if he chooses to. >> mr. jeffries, nobody, nobody, not you or anyone else, should be prosecuted, not me or -- accused of perjury for answering the question the way i did in this hearing. i've always tried to answer the questions fairly and accurately. but to ask, did you ever do something, you ever meet with russians and deal with the campaign. you're saying mr. carter page, who left that meeting, according to the press reports and all -- and i guess his deposition or interview has been reported as saying i'm going to russia. i made no response to him. didn't acknowledge it. and you're accusing me of lying about that?
i say that's not fair, mr. jeffries. i would say that's not fair, colleagues. that's not any indication that i in any way participated in anything wrong and the same with mr. papadopoulos. he talked about it's reported in the paper that he said something about going to russia and dealing with the russians and i pushed back and said you shouldn't do it. so i don't think i'm -- it's right to accuse me of doing something wrong. i had no participation in any wrongdoing with regard to influence in this campaign improperly. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida mr. de santos for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. attorney general, you didn't do anything wrong in this testimony. the question was garbled. that's just not giving you any benefit of the doubt at all to do what these guys are doing to you.
i hear what you're saying and you didn't do anything wrong there. i want to talk to you about your recusal from the russian case. you cited cfr 445.2 saying you were involved with the campaign that triggered recusal. however, that regulation only applies to criminal xruprosecuts or investigations. when you recused yourself, that was a counterintelligence investigation, not a criminal investigation, so why did you cite that regulation to recuse from a counterintelligence investigation when its only applicability is for an intelligence investigation? >> i'm not sure that that was expressed to me when i was given advice to it in those terms, number one. number two, could likely be interpreted as both, and, and, so i felt -- >> comey, he -- after you were recused, he testified march 20th, he said i'm authorized to say there's a
counterintelligence investigation. he was telling the president you're not under investigation. so that's what he said. so i think that may have been misapplied. i understand what you're saying -- >> i did follow the advice i was given -- >> i know you did, i know you did. you can't confirm or deny investigations. i think that's a good policy. why was comey allowed to confirm that investigation in march 20th which invited all kinds of irresponsible speculation? you were recused. somebody in the department authorized him to do that. why did they break with the policy? >> this was -- this march 20th you're talking about. >> yes. >> i'm not -- i don't recall how that exactly occurred. but i do agree with you, congressman, that mr. comey talked more than he should, and he had no power, right or investigation in announcing the conclusion. he was the investigator, not
the -- >> i agree. i don't want to -- sorry to interrupt, i got limited time. i agree with you. let me move on. uranium one case, i know you've been asked about it. can you say, forget about whether it's under investigation, in the past, has -- did the fbi or doj inform president obama, secretary clinton or any cabinet secretary it uncovered evidence that the main u.s. executive was engaged in bribery kickbacks and money laundering before the obama administration approved uranium one sale in 2010? >> is that a meciren matter, the matter that was prosecuted in maryland -- >> 2014 but there was an informant in 2009, 2010, the fbi had evidence of bribery kickbacks and money laundering. was that information conveyed to any of the relevant people on the sifis board? or was it given to the president?
>> the way i understand that matter is that the case in which mr. meciren was convicted was not connected to the sifis problem that occurred two to three years before. when the case came to the united states attorney's office, mr. rosenstein's office in maryland, sifis had already been approved by two years or mo. >> more. >> there was an fbi informant starting in 2009 -- >> well you're going to -- i haven't talked with him but department of justice, i understand, has approved him providing information to the congress and he's -- i understand he'll be set up in a few days and you'll be able to hear from him direct. >> i think you should too because from everything i've been proffered, he has evidence of illegal contact 2009 and 2010 before this deal was agreed to involving uranium one.
it was all connected. so i think that's something we need to -- we need to do. let me move on. the leaking you mentioned. you can't confirm or deny the existence of the leaks. michael flynn, some of these other leak, used politically against the administration. so let me ask you this, since the president was elected, has anybody been held accountable criminally or administratively, for leaking information against the administration in a political -- with a political motive? >> well, i think the individual in georgia had a motive that's been charged. and -- but a number -- we have 27 ongoing investigations. some of those involve leaks before president trump took office and some after. >> final question, just -- >> before that, there was only three per year, only nine. there's three times as many this year as the entire three years before being investigated -- >> final question, why can't you just tell us whether or not the
fbi expended resources to give money to christopher steele? it's not about going into the investigation. we have oversight every year department. did -- where taxpayer dollars used to give to christopher steele, yes or no? >> i'm not able to do that. i think for several reasons. it's an ongoing matter. and also it may well involve classified information. >> thank you, mr. attorney general. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from rhode island, mr. sis linney, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i apologize in advance, mr. attorney general, i'm going to try to go through questions quickly. multiple trustworthy reports reveal last week the justice department may require at&t to sell cnn among other assets as a requirement for the approval of its proposed accusation of time warner. subsequently more reports s surfasu surfaced that rupert murdoch has quite contacted att in an effort to buy cnn. this is of course very disturbing for those of us responsible for oversight of
these issues. my first question, has any white house employee or official including the president contacted the justice department regarding the att/time warner transition or any other transaction? >> i'm not able to comment or communications the department of justice top people have with top people at the white house. >> mr. chairman, i ask the director be directed to answer the question. either you're evoking fifth amendment or executive privilege. i ask the chairman that the witness be directed to answer the question. >> the witness can answer the question in the fashion he has determined. >> well, reserving my right, mr. chairman, i'll move on. mr. sessions, you're not going to answer the question, were there any white house -- or any white house officials have attempted to interfere or speak to the justice department about this transaction? >> the department of justice does not reveal privileged
conversations of conversations -- >> okay, i -- >> i'm going to -- >> the foreign legislation act, you're familiar with it? >> right. >> you think it's good policy? >> -- good law, has value -- >> -- have any other trump campaign advisers or senior administration officials lobbied for foreign governments without disclosing it under the foreign agent registration act? >> i'm not able to comment on that. >> why not? >> repeat the question. perhaps i misunderstood it. >> in addition to paul manafort and michael flynn, have any trump campaign advisers or senior administration officials lobbied for foreign governments without disclosing it under the foreign registration act? >> that would be a matter that should be directed to mr. mueller i believe. >> moving to a new question, on october 6th, the department of justice actually you on behalf of the department of justice issued a 25-page memo to all federal agencies purported to provide guidance on religious liberty protections under
federal law. in the guidance, you direct -- you indicate that exemption or accommodation for religious organizations from anti-discrimination law might be required even where congress has not expressly exempted religious organization, you remember that, right? >> yes. >> okay. would that mean under your interpretation an imemployee of fema could provide disaster assistance when an unmarried couple live together based on the employee's belief a man and woman should not live together before marriage? >> i don't believe it's interpreted that way -- >> thank you, i'd really -- >> i will try to answer -- >> yes or no, will the guidance you provided permit a hud funded shelter to refuse to house an unmarried pregnant woman based on the grant recipient's belief that sex outside of marriage is a sin, yes or no? >> every matter -- first, i don't think so. number one. under the guidance. but also the guidance does not repeal established laws that are in place and it was written that
guidancewise to clarify that established motive of religious -- >> thank you, very limited time, i appreciate -- >> well, thank you. >> now we're turning to the papadopoulos issue. in your testimony your purport to have forgotten this conversation about -- by mr. papadopoulos about russia that you put an end to. you said you weren't being dishonest, you simply forgot it, you remember that testimony? >> something like that, yes -- >> -- okay, when did you remember the remarks of mr. papadopoulos, when did that memory come back to you? >> i think it was when the press came up with it or some -- it was revealed in the press -- >> that was the first time you remembered it? >> this one -- i would recall that my october statements was a broad question -- >> no, i understand -- i have a limited time, reclaiming my time. you are a senior -- mr. sessions --
>> -- over 18 months before -- >> -- a member of the national security team. did you ever exchange any e-mail, text message or any other communication to or from mr. papadopoulos about russia or any other subject? >> repeat the category, list of things. >> exchange any e-mail, text message or any communication to or from mr. papadopoulos about any subject? >> i do not believe so. i'm confident i, i, i did not -- >> -- did anybody ever forward to you a communication from mr. papadopoulos? >> i don't recall it. >> did anybody from the campaign ever communication to you about mr. papadopoulos? >> i can't say there were no conversations about him before or after this event. >> were you told about the -- >> i did push back -- >> the gentleman's time has expired. the witness can answer the question. >> i don't have a specific recollecti recollection, mr. chairman. >> mr. chairman, i'd ask to make a unanimous consent request. i would ask unanimous consent to insert the following materials into the record.
a letter from me and ranking member congress qcon qers requesting a hearing with antitrust matters before the justice department. a letter from senators amy coan enforcement decisions particularly for political decisions. a july article in "the new york times" reporting that senior advisers have discussed using at&t merger over potential leverage over cnn and nine letters from as far back as february as this year from various members of the judiciary committee seeking information on a wide range of subjects addressed to the attorney general of the united states that have been ignored that we received no response -- >> without objection, the documents be made part of the record. the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas for five minutes. >> mr. attorney general, good to see you. if fbi director chris ray held a press conference tomorrow without your knowledge to
announce a charging decision in a major federal investigation, would you consider that an inappropriate departure from long-standing department of justice and fbi policy? >> under the letter that deputy attorney general rosenstein wrote with regard to mr. comey, i think it would be a terminatable offense. it's not discipline. we need to be disciplined in this department. we don't need to be leaking and we don't need to have people taking actions outside their realm. maybe sometimes people make an honest mistake but that would be a very dramatic thing. which he would never do. >> i take that an emphatic yes. to your knowledge, are there currently federal prosecutors in your office that are predetermining cases prior to the interviewing of key witnesses to include the subjects or targets of those investigations?
>> i don't believe so. >> it is a practice in your department of justice to allow immunized witnesses to sit within the interviews of the subject or target of federal investigations? >> that would not be a normal process for sure. >> mr. attorney general, these are just a few of the irregularities or anomalies that have taken place in how the department of justice and the fbi have handled these investigations and prosecutions prior to 2016 and now apparently departure from how you're handling them. it's also these irregularities that have shaken the faith and trust of people in our department of justice. look, i'm of the opinion that for the last eight years we have survived the worst presidency of my lifetime. my colleagues have spent time to convince you we have to survive a bad president right now.
that's okay. for 240 years, our republic has withstood that. elected officials come and go. but right now where we are and what our history won't tell us is what happens to our republic if people lose all faith and trust in the department of justice and the fbi to fairly investigate and to prosecute violations of the rule of law. at one point in time, you and i held the same position in the department of justice. i was u.s. attorney, as were you. you've obviously been promoted. if public opinion polls tol us anything. the chair i hold now signals i've been demoted. my time as u.s. attorney taught me something you said in your opening. which is the department of justice must always transcend politics to uphold the rule of law. i think more than anything else, with what the meamerican people want to hear from you today is
that is, in fact, the case. mr. gowdy said in his line of questioning lady justice is supposed to be holding a set of scales wearing a blindfold. she's not supposed to have her finger on the scales. now, i think that the american people have every reason to q whether or not that's where we are right now. more than anything else, what i'm asking from you is to hear from you that you are prepared -- no, that you are permitted to go wherever the facts and evidence lead you regardless of the political consequences for any political party or any person, to include donald trump or hillary clinton or yourself. >> yes. i am and the department of justice is. you will soon have director ray i believe coming before your committee. i hope you'll ask him these questions and i think you'll be impressed with his commitment in that regard.
as united states attorneys, it was a -- we were raised in that idea. i've never forgotten. i'm glad i did my 15 years in the department of justice before came to congress. you get your valued shapes at maybe a younger age. i think i understand the role i have, the responsibility we have to do justice and i would say this, that in the long run if i want the respect of this body, both sides of the aisle, i've got to follow the rules in the department. it may frustrate you that i can't answer questions or confirm to you or other members on this side. it may frustrate people on this side. but if i'm not prepared to do that, then i don't think i'll ever restore the department of justice. that's what our goal would be. to hopefully -- hopefully it's not as bad as you say but i
think there's danger out there and we want to fix it. >> mr. attorney general, thank you for your continued service, i yield back. >> the chair would advise members of the committee there are about 8 1/2 minutes remaining in this vote. the gentleman from california has persuaded me that we'll permit him to proceed but other members are advised we will reconve reconvene. >> please express my gratitude to the men and women who serve the department of justice. you stated in your opening statement that my story has never changed, but, mr. attorney general, it has changed three times and today we heard the third addition when you told us that you do now recall mr. papadopoulos mentioning that he had contacts in russia and so i have a slide for you i'd like to display. it's a january 10th, 2017 exchange with senator franken where he asked about campaign communications with russia and
you stated, senator franken, i'm not aware of any of these activities. mr. attorney general, if you were asked that question today, recalling that you are now aware of what mr. papadopoulos said on march 31st, would you answer that question differently? >> all i would say to you, congressman, is if you fairly treat the exchange i had with senator franken, i think you can understand where when i answered the question, i felt like i was answering it properly. >> but you would agree today it should be answered differently if asked in the same form today? considering your recollection you just gave us? >> i believe that when i was -- you're asking me today explicitly did you meet with any other russians -- >> today -- >> -- i am prepared to say i did. i met with the ambassador in my office with at least two of my staff senior respected patriots,
colonels retired in the army. >> mr. attorney general -- >> -- nothing improper occurred at all -- >> once and for all, can we answer the question -- >> i am once and for all answering the question, congressman, i don't understand why you won't take my answer. >> well, we're on the third edition, mr. attorney general. so during your time on the campaign, did any person on earth state that they were communicating with russians traveling to russia or ask the campaign to meet with russians, to your recollection? >> did you debt -- was i asked that question? >> no, i'm asking you today, to your knowledge, did any person on the campaign tell you they were going to russia -- >> i'm prepared to answer the question but i just will not answer it in a way that suggests that i in any way intentionally misled anyone when i answered the question -- >> what's the abc to the question, mr. attorney general? >> the answer is i met with the ambassador in my office for less than an hour i believe and i
met -- he came up to me after a speech at the convention when it was raised to me that this months later -- nobody said immediately it was an error. by press, i immediately revealed and acknowledged, told them meetings i'd had. >> with respect to carter page, he told you as you just acknowledged that he was going to russia. he was also on the national security team. and this is the second person within about three months now that is bringing up russian contacts and you did not tell him to not go to russia, is that correct? >> no, i didn't tell him not to go to russia. >> and you didn't tell anyone else on the campaign -- who told you that -- >> i don't recall him saying that. so am i supposed to stop him from taking a trip -- >> well, at that point did you think that now that two people have talked about either going to russia or having contact with the russia that the campaign where you were the chairman of the national security team might have a russia problem? >> well, if i read what's been
said about the papadopoulos meeting, the one that was a little -- somewhat earlier than that, i did say don't -- you don't represent -- something to that -- i pushed back at his trip and was concerned that he not go off somewhere pretending to represent the trump campaign. he had no authority for that. this young man didn't have any ability and ought not to be going off on representing the campaign. >> mr. attorney general -- >> then all the -- the next one is carter page. and he says, from what i seeness testimony, interviews, he said after the meeting was over, he goes out and he -- >> moving on, mr. attorney general -- >> he goes out and he says he's going to russia. i made no response. >> cia director pompeo -- >> what does that mean? >> mr. attorney general -- >> i don't think i've done anything dishonest and certainly
doesn't -- >> -- the cia director has judged that wikileaks is a hostile nonstate intelligence service do you agree? >> i'm not able to disagree for that. >> mr. president trump, who you were working for -- >> he's more aware than i. >> candidate trump throughout the campaign said i love wikileaks. do you love wikileaks, mr. attorney general? >> i'm not a fan of wikileaks. >> do you think it was appropriate that donald trump jr. communicated with wikileaks -- >> i'm not able to make a judgment about that -- >> thank you again for -- >> time has expired. committee will stand in recess until immediately after this vote. >> and a good tuesday afternoon to you. craig melvin here at msnbc headquarters. you have been watching what has at times been quite the testy hearing today on capitol hill. attorney general jeff sessions versus mainly democrats on a number of issues. chiefly what he remembers and what he does not remember about
the trump 2016 campaign's contacts with the russians. sessions quite clearly saying that he remembers pushing back on the idea of a meeting between the then candidate trump and vladimir putin. most everything else he did not recall. >> did anyone else at that meeting including then candidate trump react in any way to what mr. papadopoulos had presented? >> i don't recall. >> did you discuss your meetings with ambassador kislyak with mr. flynn? >> i do not recall and don't believe i communicated any of that information to mr. flynn. >> you were aware of the efforts of page and papadopoulos to meet and establish communications with the russian government. did you at any point -- >> well, that's not necessarily so about -- at least from what mr. carter page says and i don't recall that. >> did you at any point discuss with michael flynn the
possibility of then candidate trump or his surrogates meeting with the russian government? >> i do not recall such a conversation. did i have any knowledge of anyone who had talked to the russians? i indicated that i had not recalled that meeting when that occurred. but i would have been pleased to have responded and explained it if i recalled it. >> the attorney general also weighed in on roy moore saying he believes the women accusing the alabama senate candidate of making sexual advances towards them decades ago when they were teenagers. house speaker paul ryan now the latest gop leader to say that moore needs to step aside. let's start with the sessions hearing that again is in reset for votes right now. msnbc's garrett haake is on capitol hill. nbc justice correspondent pete williams. ken delanian is nbc intelligence
and national security reporter and matt miller also with us, msnbc justice and security analyst, also former doj spokesman. frank faluji, national security contributo contributor, former assistant for national intelligence at the fbi. quite a team. let's start with our pete williams. walk us through the headlines as you saw and heard them. >> well, i think number one, jeff sessions was eager to say that he's not going to be influenced in any way by the president in terms of deciding who to establish, who to prosecute. he was asked about all the president's tweets urging the justice department to look into various matters related to hillary clinton. and he said that he has not felt pressured by the administration and wouldn't think that that would be an appropriate thing to do. he did send the letter to the judiciary committee last night saying that he's aware that some republicans on the committee want the justice department to look into this. and he said he has asked career
prosecutors to look at it. raise the prospect that it could lead to a special counsel investigation. but then during this hearing today, seemed to go out of his way to say in essence don't get your hopes up, it's a tall order to get that kind of a thing. it's happened very rarely in the past to have special counsel investigations. you have to have some kind of an indication that there was a violation of laws. so perhaps he's trying to speak to several -- to audiences at once, the republicans, the democrats, the white house. but nonetheless it did seem to me he was trying to thread a very narrow line there, walk a very narrow line on that point. and then he just said over and over and over again -- he became understandably annoyed whenever he was accused of lying or misleading the committee, even though his story about recollection -- remembering discussions with russians has
evolved. most recently he said he didn't recall this meeting with george pop do papadopoulos, the famous meeting where everybody's at the table in march, until he read about the accounts papadopoulos had given to investigators. so he says yes, my story is now different than it was when i initially answered this question from senator franken during his confirmation hearing that he's remembering more these meetings but he said i have never wavered in saying i have never had any improper discussions, i never did anything to try to help the russians influence the campaign. >> you have been watching it over the last few hours. what do you make of it? >> so the fundamental question on russia and russian contacts for jeff sessions has been has he told the truth about what he understood to be the campaign's contacts with russians and his own contacts with russians? you know, he had to amend his testimony for his confirmation hearing in january and acknowledged. but then he testified in october i am not aware of any contacts
between campaign surrogates and russia. now he's saying, oh, yes, i do remember that papadopoulos proposed a meeting between putin and trump and that i shut it down. and yes, i acknowledge that carter page told me he was on his way to russia. it's very hard for democrats to square those two stories. >> does it pass the smell test to you, that you wouldn't initially -- your recounting would be you don't recall meeting then all a sudden you don't recall meeting and here's what happened at the meeting? >> i mean, who can read into people's memories. >> right. >> but does it pass the reasonable person test is a really fundamental question. i'm not sure it does, craig. >> let's go back to this idea of the special counsel investigating hillary clinton. the concern here stemming from president trump's express desire to a radio show host a few months ago. i want to play what the president said and talk about it. this was two weeks ago. take a listen.
all right, we don't have it just yet, matt, but we'll come back to that in just a moment. matt, you heard the exchange there, the attorney general insisting open his autonomy. here's the sound. let's listen. >> you know, the saddest thing is that because i'm the president of the united states i am not supposed to be involved with the justice department. i'm not supposed to be involved with the fbi. i'm not supposed to be doing the kind of things that i would love to be doing. and i'm very frustrated by it. i look at what's happening with the justice department. why aren't they going after hillary clinton with her e-mails and with her -- the dossier? >> to a lot of folks, matt, it sounded as if the president there was calling for an investigation into hillary clinton. >> yes, i think that's right. that was such a revealing quote from the president where he admits he's not supposed to be telling the department of justice what to do but then goes on in the interview to sort of
say what he wants them to do and then has repeatedly both before that interview and then the weeks or so after that has it on twitter and in interviews been going after jeff sessions very hard, saying he wants a special counsel to investigate hillary clinton. that is -- we should not let it pass without remarking that is a great abuse of power, a great, you know, kind of act to trample on the rule of law by the president. and it leaves the attorney general in this position where what you would expect him to do is stand up and say look, mr. president, we make our decision based on the facts. we make them based on the law. we don't allow any political interference by you or anyone else in our department. jeff sessions has never done that which leads you to ask a big question about the letter last night, is the appointment of special counsel really in play or did he write that letter with the, you know, the audience the letter was addressed to were members of congress but it was the real audience, his boss donald trump, is he just trying to get so many more time to stay in his job, trying to keep the
president from firing him, trying to keep him from pushing him out? we don't really know the answer to that yet. i don't think he gave us any clear evidence which way he was leaning in the hearing today. >> frank, the congressman from new york, jeffries there, pointed out the number of times the attorney general could not seem to recall something. is that something that struck you, the number of times that mr. sessions wasn't able to recall something? is that something to be expected in testimony like this? >> i think it's very common among very high officials when they're questioned under oath to say that it's a safety valve. look, the attorney general had a choice to make today in his testimony. he could either choose the route of having very poor memory about a very important event or he could choose to say i had very poor judgment about how i categorically denied that anyone in the campaign including myself had contact with russians. and so he's chosen kind of the very poor memory route.
which is the smart thing to do. if he had chosen the i really kind of got this all wrong, he would have exposed himself to contempt or perjury charges because he previously said categorically this simply didn't happen. also used the word chaos to describe those days of the campaign when that meeting occurred. that jumped out at me because bad things happen during chaos and we're learning more and more about some bad things happening during those days of the campaign. >> ken, if you were a legislator inside that room there, inside that hearing, what question would you be asking that has not been asked so far? >> you know, the ones he can't answer obviously. he can't -- we can't really pin him down on does he intend to appoint a special counsel and is there pressure from the white house to do that. that's a really important question here, craig. >> garrett, take us inside the room, sir. i know you're there in the hearing. what's the mood like inside that room? what can we expect after the votes? >> well, a couple of
observations, craig. first, on a lot of these russia question, particularly the ones about when he had what conversations with whom. the attorney general is receive reasoning his notes repeatedly and he's being very, very careful at how he answers those questions about george papadopoulos and carter page and the nature of those conversations. he's being meticulous so that he says the same thing each time he is asked these questions. so it's something to keep an eye on just how closely he's watching that. secondly, there's a sense of frustration inside the room from both sides of the aisle at how he's handling a couple of these things. several republicans have appeared visibly frustrated that the attorney general doesn't seem to want to take the bait on questions about the dossier and would funded it or about a special counsel or about these uranium one issues. sessions has sort of held the line on that to the irritation of some of the conservatives. and some of the democrats are getting upset that we're seeing an expanded use of this sort of pseudo executive privilege that jeff sessions used when he was in front of some of these senate committees saying it wasn't be
appropriate for him to talk about conversations he had had with the president. he's used that defense twice today. but both times he's expanded it to say it wouldn't be appropriate to talk about conversations he's had with the president or with senior white house staff. so he used this when talking about the james comey firing and again when he was asked by a democrat about the at&t/time warner merger so he's providing some dubious legal cover for himself and you saw one of the democratic congressman ask the chair m chairman to sort of overrule him, saying that's not an acceptable way to answer the question, but the chairman allowed it. another safety valve for sessions here to claim this kind of pseudo executive privilege on questions about his conversations with the white house. >> when are they going to reconve reconvene, any guidance on that? >> as soon as this series of votes as over. it could be the next few minutes. sometimes it can take a little while for these guys to get organized and get back. >> all right, a live look there inside the hearing room. pretty much empty now for the most part. when it reconvenes, we will head
back there. a big thanks to the panel. guys, appreciate it. any minute now we could be hearing from doug jones. the democrat who is facing off with alabama senate candidate roy moore as pressure mounts for moore to step aside. a fifth accuser has come forward accusing moore of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. what happens if roy moore refuses to step down? also, congress is tackling the tackle sexual harassment on the hill today. you might be surprised and disgusted to hear what's happening on the floor of the people's house. >> these harasser propositions such as are you going to be a good girl to perpetrators exposing their genitals to victims having their private parts grabbed on the house floor. >> i'll talk to that congresswoman jackie spear in just a few minutes. she's testifying today why she says the capitol is one of the worst places for harassment.
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there are two members of congress, republican and democrat, right now, who serve, that have engaged in sexual harassment. >> congresswoman jackie spear there testifying before the house administration committee. today's hearing was one of the first steps in a major push to reform sexual harassment policies on capitol hill.
spear is one of the lawmakers driving that force. the california democrat has even joined the viral me too social media campaign alleging she was sexually assaulted on the hill as a young congressional aide herself. congresswoman spear joins me now. thanks for your time. i know you're very busy with voting. i want to go back to that sound bite we just played there, these two lawmakers who have engaged in sexual harassment. was there an investigation? what more can you tell us about that? >> well, there's not much more i can tell you, because there's nondisclosure agreements that victims are forced to sign before they even go into mediation in congress. this process is all about protecting the harasser and not providing the kinds of resources and support for the victims and that's why i feel so strongly we have to change that. >> for folks who have not been following this story as closely, what's the protocol now on the
hill if someone claims they've been harassed and what should that protocol be instead? >> so right now it requires you to file a complaint. you then have one month in which you are counseled about the legal ramifications are. you then have another month where you are subject to mediation. and during that -- before you have that mediation, you have to sign the nondisclosure agreement. after that second month, there's a month cooling off period before you can file a complaint. so it takes another three months. you have to continue to work in that office in which you were harassed. if you are an intern or a fellow, you're not even eligible to access this process. the harasser is represented by legal counsel from the house of representatives. the victim has no counsel. >> no counsel? >> and the actual agreement that might be actually made in terms of a settlement comes out of the
u.s. treasury. so the harasser is never actually identified and the amount of money comes out of the u.s. treasury so it doesn't come out of the individual who is, in fact, responsible for the harassing. it's a bad system. >> how is that the system in 2017? >> it's more like a system in the dark ages. we have got to change it. we've got to make sure there's not forced mediation. there's not a requirement that you sign a nondisclosure agreement. that there is victim counsel. and that interns and fellows are eligible to use the system. >> those two instances that you described at the beginning of those two lawmakers, if there was a nondisclosure agreement signed, how do you know about the harassment? >> well, i just know about it. >> are those exceptions to the rule would you say or is that kind of behavior far more common place than most folks realize?
>> well, i think that the fact that this is a male-dominated institution, that there's young people working here, that are, you know, interested in careers, anxious to make, you know, a good impression, i think that there is more of it going on than we realize. i have talked to many persons on the hill. some of whom have not filed complaints but who have been subject to egregious behavior. that just has to stop. so we don't even have mandatory sexual harassment training for members and staff. that appears to be something we're going to move forward with swiftly. the question is are we going to reform the session so it's actually a victim friendly system. >> what's been the response to the proposed legislation on the hill, especially from your male counterparts? >> it's actually been surprisingly good. the house administration subcommittee that i testified in this morning seemed very reportive and responsive as well. we're really at a tipping point
in this country in which the cultural norms are changing so sexual harassment, hostile work environment is no longer going to be tolerated. >> perhaps our lawmakers shouldn't be able to hide behind nondisclosure agreements when they reach settlements with the accusers. congresswoman, thank you for your time. >> thank you, craig. >> i want to bring in lynn farley. lynn farley is an author, a journalist credited with coining the term sexual harassment. she coined that term back in the '70s. thanks for your time this afternoon, lynn. i want to play a bit more of what congresswoman spear testified today. take a listen. >> these harasser propositions such as are you going to be a good girl to perpetrators exposing their genitals to victims having their private parts grabbed on the house floor. all they ask in return as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment.
>> do those stories surprise you coming from capitol hill? >> not at all. you know, the congress has been a hot bed of sexual har hassmeni think since inception. i have a chapter in my book sexual shakedown about wayne hayes of ohio. his secretary came -- elizabeth ray came out and said that she didn't even know how to type. she was put on the payroll strictly for sexual favors. when she made the statement, she was pilloried in the press and by the congress but it was a fact and wayne hayes of ohio had to resign. i mean, we have had some famous sexual harassers within the congress on both sides of the aisle. strom thurmond, newt gingrich, teddy kennedy, chip o'neil. it just goes on and on. i don't see any change in the congress today. and i don't think making a victim friendly procedure is
going to help one bit. i think -- >> not at all? not at all, lynn? >> hello? >> not one bit, you don't think that having a system that favored victims a bit more would make any sort of measurable difference? >> well, let's stop it. why do we have to help victims? let's stop sexual harassment once and for all. i am quite sure in the u.s. congress we have a woman that if she were willing to name names and come forward could blow the lid off that place. i mean, you have such a scandalous situation in the u.s. congress supposedly setting the example for the rest of the country and not doing anything of the sort. >> lynn farley. >> hello. >> no, we're here. lynn, thank you for that. we'd like for you to come back when you have more time. roy moore's democratic opponent doug jones expected to be holding a news conference in birmingham, alabama, moments
from now. when that happens, we're going to bring it to you. i've never been in one of these before, even though geico has been- ohhh. ooh ohh here we go, here we go. you got cut off there, what were you saying? oooo. oh no no. maybe that geico has been proudly serving the military for over 75 years? is that what you wanted to say? mhmmm. i have to say, you seemed a lot chattier on tv. geico. proudly serving the military for over 75 years. you ok back there, buddy?
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the values and people he claims to care about then he should step aside. >> house speaker paul ryan adding his voice to growing list of washington lawmakers saying roy moore should drop out. moore facing allegations of sexual misconduct from five women now who were girls, one as young as 14 at the time the incidents were said to have happened. moore was in his 30s at the time. yesterday a new victim came forward saying she would be willing to tell her story under oath. >> mr. moore reached over and began groping me and putting his hands on my breasts. i tried to open my car door to leave but he reached over and he locked it so i could not get out. i was terrified. he was also trying to pull my shirt off. i thought he was going to rape
me. at some point he gave up and he looked at me and he told me, he said you're just a child and he said i am the district attorney and if you tell anyone about this no one will ever believe you. >> also right now a live look birmingham, alabama. we are expecting a news conference from the democratic nominee for the senate there, doug jones any moment now. let's bring in michael steele and former director of strategic communications for the 2016 clinton campaign. thanks to you both. michael, let me start with you. i want to play roy moore's latest defense against these allegations. >> i can tell you without hesitation this is absolutely false. i never did what she said i did.
i don't even know the woman. i don't know anything about her. this is a political maneuver and has nothing to do with reality. it's all about politics. >> why is roy moore still a candidate? >> because roy moore wants to be a candidate. the alabama republican party seemingly is hapless to force him out in any way. i think a lot of folks are waiting to see what president trump says when he gets back. i think that will be probably one of the final determinations on whether moore gets out. if the president makes the phone call and says this is untenable, it is a race that creates a lot of unnecessary noise for my administration as we are trying to get some big things done, moore may step down. short of something like that i don't see it happening. >> do you have reason to believe the president is going to make that call?
>> from what i understand there is a lot of push for the president to do that once he gets back to the white house and gets fully briefed up on where this matter is. now, that's process. that's politics. the fact still remains that every day he stays in this race is another stain on the party, another stain on the senate and i think that's why you see the leadership coming out as forcefully now as they are because they recognize how this is cutting against them especially with women in this country. >> the attorney general jeff sessions shortly before the hearing wrapped was asked about this. this was that exchange. take a listen. >> do you believe these young women? >> i have no reason to doubt these young women. >> he went on to say that the ethics folks probably should not be involved because it is his
former senate seat there in alabama. what is your reaction? >> i was glad to see attorney general sessions say that and frankly more republicans need to come out and disavow roy moore. what you were just discussing with chairman steele, we have a real issue here. if the voters vote for roy moore and vote him in and then the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell decides not to seat him that is a real divide because you have the voters in alabama who said we want this guy, this is who we elected and then you have the establishment saying we don't want to seat him. this is a huge growing problem that the republicans have to contend with. >> doug jones is still a long shot. if the voters elect him should he be seated if it is the will of the people? >> that is going to be predominant, absolutely. that is the harsh reality which is why there is so much back channeling to have an impact on
this election before the vote is actually cast, in other words, getting him to step down and figuring out another mechanism. that's what they are up against here, why the president's next move on this is going to be, i think, profoundly important. >> roy moore is expected to speak tonight in jackson, alabama at a god save america revival conference. why do you think it is that his religious backers have stood behind him so steadfastly? >> i think they want to see somebody like him in. this is their kind of candidate. they are willing to -- >> an accused pedophile? >> absolutely not. i would think not. my point i am trying to make here is this is somebody who has been a religious zealot in alabama for decades. that's the kind of person they want to see in and they are willing to let any other accusation go which is very disappointing to see.
>> there have been as you know over the last 48 hours especially there have been calls in papers, the atlantic and "new york times" this morning that this should also be seen as an opportunity for your ilk, center left folks to take a long, hard look at the bill clinton legacy and maybe there are those on that side of the political spectrum who should get a second look now, as well. what do you say to that? >> i say bill clinton is not running. he is not on the ballot and those issues have been lit rated and relitigated to perpetuate those allegations. we are talking about now. it is wonderful to see so many women who feel like they have the empowerment and support to speak about some of these horrific abuses that they faced. >> we'll leave it there. thank you. michael steele, if the president calls i'm going to give you credit for calling it.
>> thank you, sir. that's going to wrap up this hour of msnbc live. katy tur is standing by. >> 11:00 a.m. out west and 2:00 p.m. in washington. four words dominated attorney general jeff sessions' testimony on capitol hill today. quote, i do not recall. >> i don't recall. i don't recall it. i don't recall. i do not recall such a conversation. i don't recall ever biography made aware of that before. >> you stated under oath i don't recall in some form or fashion approximately 36 times, is that correct? >> i don't know. >> in your testimony today you have stated i don't recall at least 20 times, is that fair to say? >> i have no idea. >> this was the fourth time sessions has testified this year but the first since two indictments and a plea deal were