tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBC November 18, 2017 9:00am-9:30am PST
russia. roy moore fallout. dueling sides with public events today. the women supporting him also speak out. some of the things they say about his accusers may shock you. >> in your writings, you say that research led you to ask whether or not moscow was blackmailing president trump. what made you suspicious of that? >> and the answer ahead. the reaction of that portion of my interview with the author of a new book about russia, alleged trump campaign collusion and spies. and the tax cut clash on capitol hill. will a bill reach the president's desk before christmas? all that is next. a heated battle going between supporters and opponents of embattled alabama senate candidate roy moore. just last hour in birmingham, reverend william barber led a contingent of clergy to stand against moore. meanwhile moore's wife and a group of women held a rally yesterday to condemn his accusers. maya rodriguez is in birmingham with more on this for us.
so the special election is going on as planned december 12th. but there are growing calls for moore to step down, right? >> reporter: there are, but there are equally a number of people who have been vocal about having him stay in the race. that was an echoed sentiment today at the madison county republican men's club prayer breakfast. they all came up to the podium and said they planned to look at moore in fact because they were looking at the bigger picture. they say things like the debt and the deficit and border control were important issues to them. they did not mention the allegations against moore specifically, but said that they were looking at these issues and that that is why they intended to vote for him on december 12th. on the other hand here in birmingham this morning, there was a gathering of a number of faith leaders. they got together basically to denounce moore, pointing specifically to those sexual misconduct allegations. allegations of course that moore is denying at this point. but these faith leaders said, look, we feel like these
allegations compounded with moore's stance on some issues like not wanting to expand medicaid in conjunction with obamacare and issues having to do with minimum wage, that that is why they said people should not vote for moore. so what you have right now is a very divided state here in alabama. you had these allegations that have come out over the last week or so that have been about the sexual misconduct, that moore might have been involved with. decades ago, again, these allegations coming from nine different women. on the other hand you have republicans saying there are bigger issues at stake at this point, that they want the senate to stay in republican control and that that is why this election is so crucial. alex. >> all right, maya rodriguez, thanks for outlining all of that for us, appreciate it. also new today, questions in the russia investigation surrounding president trump's son-in-law and senior advisor jared kushner's russian contacts. this during the campaign. nbc news reports that kushner failed to disclose a back-door
overture and dinner invite. this from a russian banker who's believed to be a putin ally. ken dilanian, who broke the story, has more. >> this man, alexander torshin, is a deputy head of the russian central bank and he's been accused by spanish prosecutors of having ties to russian organized crime. now, he denies this. but he was seeking a meeting with somebody in the trump campaign and he was saying that he had a message he wanted to carry from vladimir putin to donald trump around the national rifle association convention in may of 2016. an e-mail chain found its way to jared kushner. now, jared kushner actually instructed the campaign to pass on the meeting and his lawyer says, look, that's exculpatory. but they didn't disclose that this was made in requests to congressional investigators. >> all right, ken dilanian there. let's bring in denny heck of washington. he and his colleagues interviewed fusion gps founder glenn simpson behind closed doors this week as part of its
russia investigation. congressman, always good to see it. i want your reaction to all these developments. is jared kushner not being forthcoming with congressional investigators or might you be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that failing to disclose meetings or overtures by russians was not specific to congressional requests. >> so alex, happy thanksgiving, by the way. it's been another week of revelations and the jared kushner issue is one. significantly was the fact that donald trump jr. was engaged in direct e-mail exchanges with wikileaks. we learned also that director mueller is calling in hope hicks of the trump administration as well as requesting additional documents. oh, by the way, this in the same week in which the president has indicated that he believes vladimir putin over the intelligence community in our country. look, this thing is moving and it's moving very fast and it's not moving in a good direction for the president. >> i'm curious, donald trump jr. and the wikileaks revelation, were you surprised by that?
how significant is that? >> so, i think probably the thing that's most appropriate that i could say is at this stage nothing surprises me. >> okay. i want to play for you what luke harding, as you know he's a journal ist who interviewed christopher steele before the trump dossier became public. what he said to me about having compromise information on president trump. >> i think glenn is highly confident that the dossier is right. he's taken a lot of flak and fire for how it came about. i think in a way that's missing the point. it's not about process, it's not about who paid for the dossier. the question is did donald trump and his team collude with russia. and i think the more we know, the more certain we can be to say yes, actually they did. a lot of secret meetings is the title of my book and each week we learn of more interactions. of course this is what the kgb does. they try and penetrate, they try and target, they try and cultivate for their own
purposes. >> look, i know you can't tell us exactly what was said, but did you leave your meeting with glenn simpson believing more significantly that russia has compromising information on president trump? >> alex, i left that meeting thinking i had just spent the most unbelievable, i don't know how many hours we were in there together, it was many that i have thus far in this year. look, i'm going to take you back to something i said i think on your program in the spring that was a little controversial at the time but i'm going to reiterate it today. people are going to jail. people are going to go to jail. and in fact when i said that, i came in for some criticism for it, but now of course we've seen several indictments. i'm also going to go on record today and say additional people are going to be indicted. i've also said and will reiterate today that where there's smoke there's fire, and there's so much smoke you can't see the hand in front of your face. >> jeff sessions i know returned before your committee at the end of the month for a closed door
interview. what did you learn from the public grilling that he faced before the house judiciary committee? >> so the thing i would say about attorney general sessions, two things. first of all, he is suffering with some of the most profoundly selective amnesia of any human being i've ever met in my life. he seems just never to quite remember the things that might incriminate him. the other thing that i would say about him is that he's clearly on the watch -- the firing watch list. in washington, d.c., there's kind of like this inside game of who's going to get fired first, rex tillerson or jeff sessions. but i find it all frankly kind of ironic. on another newsworthy note of this week, alex, rich cordray announced his retirement from the consumer finance protection bureau. originally president obama wanted to appoint elizabeth warren to that but republicans wouldn't allow that so she went
on to be a united states senator. now they have hounded rich cordray out of office and can you say governor rich cord ray in the state of ohio? and at the same time, mr. sessions, who left his seat in alabama, in order to become attorney general, can you now say united states senator doug jones, the democrat, who is up by eight points in the most recent poll by brand x news network, which often doesn't reveal information favorable to democrats. so this thing is full of iron knironys as it relates to all of it. i get to get with the information about senator al franken. >> i don't think he ought to resign unless president trump resigns. >> that was it. i mean very concisely, boom. that was the question. what do you make of that response and where do you stand on senator franken's political future given these allegations? >> i think that senator franken
himself has called for a senate ethics investigation. i think that's the appropriate next step to take in that process. and i think my dear friend, john yarmuth, who's one of the most outstanding members of the united states house of representatives was being his usual pithy and to the point comment. >> before i let you go, let's talk tax reform. i want to play this exchange between orrin hatch and democratic senator sherrod brown. >> i resent anybody saying i'm doing this for the rich. give me a break. i think you guys overplay that all the time and it gets old. frankly, you ought to quit. >> i said sick and tired of the richest people getting richer and richer. >> what is the best to hope for out of this tax bill for you? and do you dread that it passes or are there some positives that you can see? >> well, it did in fact pass the house of representatives on thursday and it was a very sad
day, as a matter of fact, alex. if there was ever a robin hood in reverse piece of legislation, this is it. so memo to senator hatch, i'm sorry, sir, the facts are the facts. 50% of the tax benefits of this bill go to the top 1% of income earners in america. so that cannot be argued. those are the facts by independent evaluations of this legislation. and it is -- go ahead. >> no, but when you see those numbers and there are so many reports that refute the numbers that are put out there in support of this bill passing. is there just political pressure? you read it everywhere, that there's so much political pressure for republicans to get something passed that this has to go through, they're going to push it through no matter what? >> well, they're going to try and push it through no matter what and it in fact may pass. i think there's some little glimmers of optimism with respect to some of the other senators' reaction to this. senator johnson from wisconsin came out against it if there
weren't some changes made to benefit small businesses, which are not particularly well favored in this legislation. senator collins has her issues with the individual mandate. and of course after december 12th, if they don't get to it before then, then they'll be down one more when senator doug jones is sworn in from the state of alabama. this paul ryan deficit exploding tax plan frankly pulls back the curtain on the hypocrisy of republicans who for years have claimed to care about deficits. clearly they don't. they're adding $1.5 trillion with a t to the federal deficit -- to the federal debt. so look, they do this by closing very few tax preferences that mostly affect low and middle income families. they take away medical deductibility for expenses beyond 10% of gross income and when grandma goes into the nursing home and is spending down, she's not going to be able
to dedunct it. they take away the ability to deduct student interest loan repayme repayment. they take away the ability of a teacher, who is paying for classroom items, pencils, paper, out of their pocket. they take away the ability for them to deduct that up to $250. they have this kind of veneer of closing tax preferences, but they tend to affect just disproportionately low income and middle income people while 50% of the benefits are going to the top 1% of income earners. >> what do you think the chances are that this gets to the president's desk for him to sign by christmas? >> oh, in its current form slim and none and slim just left the room. in some form there's a better chance than that to be sure. whether or not they can get there, i think frankly just remains to be seen and is in no small part going to be dependent upon whether america will stand up and speak out, as they did against repeal of the affordable health care.
we're just beginning to see some of that. if it continues, if during this thanksgiving week they come home and they meet some voters who say, you know we don't think that 50% of the benefits ought to go to the top 1% of income earners and we don't think you ought to take away the deduction of medical expenses above 10% of gross income. if they hear enough of those voices, then i think that there's a good chance that this bill will be materially changed. at the end of the day, alex, there's a case to be made for tax reform. this bill is no longer tax reform, it is simply paul ryan's deficit exploding tax plan. it's a tax cut to benefit mostly the wealthy. i could make a good case for tax reform that simplifies the system, frankly that makes it easier for people to be able to file, that encourages economic growth and that is more transparent. i can make a case for that. that's not what this bill does. >> all right, congressman denny heck, always good to speak with you. appreciate your insights very much. the alabama women standing by roy moore give their reasons, their broad disbelief of the
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do you not believe then the accounts of these women? >> i believe none of them. i do not believe. i just believe it was something that was made up, that they were probably paid to do that. >> i question what is in it for these women who are saying these things. i don't believe it. >> every time we've been around him, he's just constantly -- he'll speak the truth, speak for biblical principles and uphold god. so i know if he did something that he was not supposed to, he would definitely let it out and tell everyone. >> some of the women defending roy moore as he faces a growing number of skpul misconduct allegatio -- sexual misconduct allegations. joining me now, jay newton small
and john nichols. the surest way to keep moore out of the senate is by electing his opponent. the latest poll seemed to favor doug jones at the moment, but conventional wisdom on the race right now reads how? >> well, the conventional wisdom in alabama, and i've covered a few races in alabama, is the polls are never exactly accurate. and especially in a situation like this, which is very fluid where you have new revelations coming. where things that people might have initially questioned now start to look more and more serious. i think there is a movement toward doug jones, but i would be cautious about suggesting that he is so far ahead that you can say for sure he's going to win. what i would kind of counsel at this point is that there is still a lot of efforts by prominent republicans in washington to come up with schemes to avoid saying vote for
the democrat, and that is to have luther strange step down and force a new process. there was talk of having the governor shift the date of the election. there's talk of write-in candidates and all these things. and i understand, partisans want to line up and try to preserve a seat. but at a certain point there has to be a recognition that this is a two-way race. once that comes, that's where you're going to get the clearest polling. and again, i'd say that jones is ahead, but i would also say that it's still a real fight. >> well, there's something else to consider, jay, because you heard those women. they don't believe the accusers. might there be a silent majority in favor of moore? >> i mean you just never know, especially with polling in a local race. it's a special election. these are always notoriously difficult to poll, but certainly you hear on the ground that there are a lot of women who just say they believe moore. they don't believe these accusers. and it's alabama. so there's a lot of people who
will vote republican for matter what and there's no reason they're going to vote democratic. the question here is, is it going to depress turnout so much that people don't turn up, they don't want to vote for him, they don't want to vote against him and they don't show up, and that's danger for moore because turnout is key in special elections. >> yeah, yeah, for sure. john, president trump invited some renewed scrutiny over past accusations of sexual assault after blasting al franken on twitter. does the white house have anything to worry about, or has trump already weathered that storm? >> i think the white house has things to worry about, because we're in a moment now where how we talk about these issues, how we focus on them is evolving. and i think both political parties are being forced to confront this reality. democrats and republicans. as a result, i think that when trump went after franken, he actually put many republicans into a tough spot, because there
was the clear partisan strategy that he brought to that. but what was missing was the self reflection on his own part. and as republicans demand that roy moore be held to account, and also makes statements as regards al franken, that does open up the avenue to the president. and also we should rest assured, i think, that there will be more people talking about incidents and problems with the president. we've even seen some things in recent days. >> all right, guys, we're going to move on to the russia investigation and start with you, jay. as politico says, special counsel bob mueller's team is preparing to interview home hicks, she being a gate keeper of sorts, part of the president's inner circle for years now. what might they learn from her, and does this mean that mueller's investigation may be nearing the end as they are getting to that inner circle? >> yeah, it's stunning, alex,
how quickly this investigation has gone. and it's been modeled after a kind of mafia investigation where usually you start with the low-hanging fruit, the small fish and work your way up to the top. the fact that they're already interviewing hope hicks, who is by definition the closest person to the president and one of the closest people, she's been at his side for years at this point and seen and heard a lot of these things, the fact that they're interviewing her would signal that they are very far along in this investigation and have progressed very, very far and it might be ending soon. i think the president certainly potentially could -- he's said he's open to being interviewed the past. but at some point there's going to be the question whether the president will be interviewed in this investigation. >> john, you may have heard congressman denny heck before the commercial break and he made some news because he was in that interview with glenn simpson and he said that people are going to jail and that more people will
be indicted. what do you make of that? >> well, i was listening, and i thought that was very interesting. it does fit with what you hear in the rumor mill. the congressman kind of takes it up above that and makes it something worth exploring. here's the bottom line. you have a network of people who it appears had both political motivations and in some cases a lot of financial motivations to be very interested in relations with the russians as well as the 2016 campaign. when you get to those intersections, i think there's a real chance that there will be more people who are indicted and potentially people who go to jail. but most significantly for our political discussion here, we have to recognize that this is, as is suggested, getting very, very close to the president. these are people who were in the room with him, and that's a big deal. >> all right, john, jay, got to wrap it there. thanks so much, both of you.
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president trump is closer to his promised tax cuts. the house passed its bill, senators are primed to vote on theirs. but when it's all over, you may actually end up paying more. an those annoying targeted ads that keep popping up on your phones. you might want to start paying attention. your next job could depend on it. good afternoon, i'm ali velshi. >> and i'm stephanie ruhle. president trump is back from his big trip to asia and defending his relationship with china and sexual