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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  December 26, 2017 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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all that on "the beat" week nights. get in touch with me at ari@msnbc.com. that's our show. the 11th hour with brian get i touch with me by e-mailing me. that is our show. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight the president versus his fbi. donald trump takes on andrew mccabe and slams that infamous dossier as a republican member of congress calls for a purge at the fbi. plus a new look inside the threat waged by russia against america in the age of vladimir putin. and how much of trump's presidency has been spent at trump properties, and how much time has he devoted to his twitter habit? a look at trump by the numbers as "the 11th hour" gets started on a tuesday night.
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good evening once again from our nbc news het yarders here in new york. i'm ali velshi in for brian williams. the president is escalating his attacks on the fbi as it becomes increasingly clear he's about to enter the new year with the russia investigation still casting a shadow over the white house. this morning the president sent out a tweet, spreading the latest theory discrediting the federal probe, saying alleged ties between his campaign and russia and linking it all back to hillary clinton. wow, fox and friends, dossier is bogus. clinton campaign, dnc funded dossier, fbi cannot after all this time verify claims in dossier of russia-trump collusion. fbi tainted and they use this crooked pile of hillary garbage as the basis for going after the trump campaign. and the president also sent out
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a tweet specifically aimed at deputy director andrew mccabe including this one, how can fbi deputy director andrew mccabe, the man in charge along with leaking james comey of the phony hillary clinton investigation, including her 33,000 illegally deleted e-mails be given $700,000 for wife's campaign by clinton puppets during investigation? mccabe has come under intense scrutiny from the president and his republican allies because of his role in the clinton e-mail investigation and because of campaign contributions mccabe's wife received from democrats while running for office in virginia. mccabe was also james comey's number two at the fbi. last week they spent over 22 hours over two days questionings him behind closed doors. sources say mccabe confirmed james comey's testimony that trump had asked comey for a pledge of loyalty. the pressure on mccabe may be
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having an effect. this weekend "the washington post" reported he was planning to leave his post around march when he was eligible for retirement. here's what one republican congressman said earlier today. >> and sat in on questioning last week of andrew mccabe. he can't go fast enough. anybody that has that much disrespect for the republican party, for the president of the united states, this goes way beyond just having a political opinion like everybody does. >> now, that sentiment may be what's behind a move also reported in the "the washington post." at the house intelligence committee representative devin nunes and a small group of house intelligence members are discussing writing a report next year that would discuss alleged corruption at the fbi. it would focus on the conduct of fbi officials in the course of the russia investigations, those
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people said. now, a number of house republicans are calling for an end to the russia investigation. today congressmen gomer, who you just heard from also said this about the special counsel. >> mueller i have said since day one, since he was appointed he's bad news. he's out for a scalp. he would love to get trump's scalp. he would love to be the hero of the left to take out donald trump. he will do everything he can to do that, and mueller is not going to be deterred by these people falling around him. >> tonight there's new reporting about the mueller investigation that could create new challenges for the president's legal team. the daily beast writing the special counsel may indict paul manafort again. the beast reports, quote, in washington legal circles there's a broad expectation that mueller will file what's called a siper seeding indictment of manafort and rickgates. his alleged business partner and alleged paerp in crime. i would expect a superseding
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indictment to come down relatively soon said tirly. he added washington universe will offer a superseding indictment. there's a tactic for this. white house correspondent for npr, we welcome to the broadcast a white house reporter for the associated press, and a former fbi assistant director for counter intelligence who in the past has worked for robert mueller. he's also an nbc news national security analyst. frank, let me start with you. you heard representative gomer talking about how robert mueller would love to be a hero for the left. robert mueller has been a republican for most if not all his adult life. what is this conflating that the president is doing with the fbi and the mueller investigation all about?
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>> yeah, the president would apparently have us believe that if he attacks to fbi, attacks the deputy director of the fbi, then somehow he's undermining the special counsel investigation. but we all need to remind ourselves that the special counsel is an independent entity. he's got some fbi agents on loan to him to support his investigation. but americans need to understand these are two different components. the other thing we need to understand, that the more we hear cries from congress or from trump to end this investigation, the farther we get from really learning the truth and taking action as a nation against russia and other foreign governments who are trying to undermine our election process. that's what we need to get to. and that's what we move away from when we distract ourselves with discussion of when this all ends. >> tamara, the tweets this morning came after the president tweeted yesterday he was going to get back to work today.
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seems he spent most of his day golfing. but what do we read into these tweets? is he sort of giving off a sense of strategy, or he just watching fox news again? >> well, he was literally quoting fox and friends in the tweet this morning. so i think we can safely say he probably was watching some fox news. it's not clear there is a big strategy here or whether the president's tweets are in line with the strategy. at least the stated strategy of his attorneys is that they are cooperating with the investigation and they hope it will wrap up soon. now, at least one of his attorneys has also been pretty critical of the fbi. so the president is doing what he's been doing, you know, going after andy mccabe is not a new thing for president trump. he did it during the campaign in campaign speeches in late october of 2016. >> tom, one of things that's
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different is that the president seems to be getting more support or louder support from people on the right, particularly congressional republicans. you saw representative gomer earlier, but there are others who are going on tv talking about the fact the fbi's crooked, that they're against the president, that there should be an investigation into robert mueller. they're bringing up the -- the uranium one conversation again. are folks on the right feeling a little more emboldened now? >> yeah, i don't know if you want to say they have the wind at their backs per se on this issue, but there's a clear feeling that they have at least a foothold, a toe hold, some sort of footing now that they really lacked at the beginning of the year. so going into 2018 and something they have to work with here -- and remember these texts that came out just a couple of -- a week or two ago now, of that
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former fbi official who was taken off the mueller probe, that gave them a lot of ammunition to work with. there's a sense now that beyond just trashing the mueller probe based on campaign donations, they have a little bit more substances to work with. now the counter point to all that and the counter point to trump's lawyers is that this probe is not over. people might say that it appears to be wrapping up, but all evidence is that this could go much longer, possibly past 2018. >> frank, let me ask you this. there was some talk that donald trump might fire bob mueller over the holidays. that obviously didn't happen. and if not, is this a plan b, the attacks on the mueller investigation? what does that actually do, if anything, to the mueller investigation? does bob mueller actually care whether the president tweets about him or gets members of congress to talk about him?
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>> well, bob mueller is highly decorated combat veteran from vietnam. he was a marine. he's worked homicide cases for years as an assistant u.s. attorney. he's been director of the fbi match he's not going to be deterred from tweets from the president. that's what he's done all his life. so what we're really look at here is a strategy where trump realizes he can't attack mueller the person, so he's attacking the dossier, the deputy director of the fbi. but mueller still has solid support reputationally across the hill, and i think that's going to carry the day. >> tamara, what do you know about when mood in and around donald trump? there's been a series of reports over the last few weeks from different sources that while the outward face is aggressive towards the mueller investigation, they are actually quite worried about where things stand. >> yeah, and, you know, his attorneys say one thing, and then the tweets sort of imply something else. and there is a lot of this, you
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know, reporting from other news organizations that quote, unnamed officials who say that there is alarm. i mean certainly this is -- uncertainty is alarming for anyone. the president of the united states or anyone else. and the only one who is even row motley certain about what's going on is mueller and his team of investigators. >> but tom, part of the problem here is that the president continues to see the mueller investigation as something that attacks his credibility and the legitimacy of his election. would it not be simpler for this white house to let this investigation conclude as donald trump's lawyers continue to say that they are prepared to do than to constantly drudge this up with these tweets? >> yeah. i mean, how many advisers have you heard now over the last year or so say they would love to take his phone away from him, take his tweeting powers away
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from him? that's not happening. i thought one of the funniest things to happen over the last year, that twitter bought they put out there which started taking the tweets and putting them in the format of an official statement from the white house. and kind of we see them as tweets, but they are official statements. and in many ways they undercut the official strategy that's out there. you know, it's hard to say that you're not thinking about it when the chief, the principal, the leader of the operation is tweeting it from his working location in mar-a-lago. so it's never away. it's always there. so there's tax cuts and then there's russia and whatever comes after that. but russia is still there. >> he can't get away from it. even the congressional investigators were month to be about determining whether there was any collusion and of course what russia did in the 2016
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election. now, to hear republicans in congress talk about it, there's no discussion of possible collusion with the trump campaign. it's only about russia. and now you are increasingly hearing congressional republicans discussing an investigation into robert mueller, ostensibly about this uranium one thing. but the idea is to try and try. the investigation was tainted and biased against the president? >> there's a real danger here, because we do need to get to the threat it poses to our democracy at large. the irony here is if trump were to run again as president and vladimir putin would have another preferred candidate, you'll see putin release the same hacking social media propaganda that say used in this past election, and trump could
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be curtailing that right now if he were to take action against such conduct. but we're not getting there if we keep continuing to undermine the mueller investigation. >> yeah, it continues to be a serious issue. we've more elections coming out, and we still haven't gotten to the bottom of this. thanks very much. coming up, reaction to this from the chiefs ethics lawyer under the last republican president. richard painter is coming up next. and they're throwing up roadblocks to trump at every turn when "the 11th hour" continues.
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i'm very concerned that the
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doj and the fbi, what do you want to call it, deep state or what are kind of off the rails. i would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it and say, look, we've got a lot of great agents, great people here and those are the people i want to american people to see. >> on this network earlier today. joining me now someone who will certainly have some thoughts on that statement, richard painter, former white house chief ethics lawyer for president george w. bush. deep state, but the idea of purging the fbi. in the days since president trump has started insulting the fbi and its legitimacy and credibility, we've just learned today the fbi agents association has received more than 2,000 donations totaling more than $140,000. it doesn't seem the public is turning against the fbi, but what do you make of those
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comments from congressmen rooney? >> well, there are a handful of republicans who are doing this. and like congressman rooney, they're either in very right-wing districts where they have safe seats so they can mouth off this way or they're nuts. because the majority of the american people don't buy any of this. these attacks on the fbi, on robert mueller, make absolutely no sense. what robert mueller is doing is investigating infiltration of the united states election, computer hacking, espionage by russia, a country that has been an adversary for the united states since the 1918 communist revolution in russia and the establishment of the soviet union. and a lot of the cold war mentality hasn't stopped. so this is really a reaction from the far right-wing of the
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republican party. most republican congressmen are keeping their head low and trying to duck this thing hoping they can make it through 2018 without getting creamed in the elections. but i think we need some people standing up for the fbi, standing up for the rule of law. and that includes christopher ray, the director for the fbi. he needs to take a stand or he needs to stand down or resign. he's got to choose because he cannot continue to allow president trump and fox news and a couple of extremists in congress like congressman rooney mouth off and attack the fbi. and this deep state, that's just a bunch of rubbish steve bannon thought up. >> some call it the deep state. the discussion steve bannon has had is an entrenched body of people who exist solely to self-per pe
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self-perptuate. but when you start insulting institutions like that, it does fit the narrative. insulting the fbi, calling it a deep state, insulting the democracy, delegitimizing the media. at some point this starts to feel like so many dudictatorial regimes. >> these are not the kind of people that have been welcome in our party in the past. they're the type of people that used to belong to the john burke society or other far-right organizations that dream up their different conspiracy theories, the ku klux klan and the rest, and now they call themselves alt-right and hang around breitbart news. this is not the way we ought to be running this country, has
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nothing to do with the traditional views of the republican party. and it plays right into the hands of our adversaries such as vladimir putin. our cia, our fbi are not deep state. they're there to protect the united states of america against foreign aggression. and if we undermine our own institutions, our own security services, our intelligence services, we're going to be very vulnerable to another attack from a foreign adversary, whether it be russia or some other adversary. so this is absolutely nothing to do with being a patriotic american and defending our country. this is complete rubbish. and every republican who wants to keep their seat in the house and the senate is going to have to stand up against this or they're going to be gone. >> you know, it's interesting to me because there aren't a whole lot of people around who remember 1918. there are a lot of republicans
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around a certain age who remember the cold war very clearly. it strikes me as odd that given a choice of trying to point the finger at russia where there's evidence of intrusion into our elections and involvement in it and picking a fight with the fbi, why republicans like francis rooney would go after the fbi. that can't go over all that well with their constituents. >> it's amazing. it shows no understanding of the history of what has happened with our relationship with russia over a century. and you started with the 1917 revolution and they made it very clear they were going to try to infiltrate other countries and undermine democracies all over the world. and they did that successfully in europe and many places, but not in the united states. and it never got very far. we had a lot of hysteria about
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in the mccarthy period. but they never got very far in the united states. and then they started to appeal to the right-wing, the ku klux klan and the breitbart weirdos. that's why we have the fbi. that's why we have people like robert mueller, the cia. and they're going to be doing their job, and members of congress better understand they've got to back off and let our fbi, our cia find out what's been going on so this never happens again. >> richard painter, good to see you again. a former ethics lawyer for president george bush. coming up president trump has denied or down-played russian hacking at every opportunity. but the problem didn't begin with with president trump. one of our next guests says we should expect more and right now the russians are winning when "the 11th hour" continues.
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if putin likes donald trump, i consider that an asset not a liability because we have a horrible relationship with russia. if putin likes donald trump, guess what, folks? that's called an asset not a liability. now, i don't know that i'm going to get along with vladimir putin. i hope i do. yesterday i received a call from president putin of russia
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thanking our country for the intelligence that our cia was able to provide them concerning a major terrorist attack planned in st. petersburg. >> what about the call with vladimir putin? >> it was great. he said very nice things about what i've done for this country in terms of the economy. >> president trump has long been reluctant to criticize russian president vladimir putin about absolutely anything. and there's concern that his administration isn't taking kremlin efforts to infiltrate american politics seriously enough. "the washington post" came out with an in-depth report today detailing the government's struggle to get a handle on and stop russians from infiltrating american politics. according to the report, quote, u.s. intelligence and law enforcement agencies saw the warning signs of russian meddling in europe and later in the united states, but never fully grasped the breadth of the kremlin's ambitions. now, that was back during the
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obama administration which warned the incoming president. but as the article continues, coat, with the 2018 elections fast approach wrg the debate with how to deal with russia continues. many in the trump white house including the president play down the effects of russian interference and complain the u.s. intelligence report on the 2016 election has been weaponized by democrats seeking to undermine trump. the article goes onto say policy debates were further complicated by the difficulty of even raising russian meddling with a president who viewed the subject as an attack on his legitimacy. here to talk about this a chair of journalism ethics at the pointer institute. this was definitely a failure of administrations past. this article which i really recommend people read, goes back many years, until the end of the cold war, the collapse of soviet union in 1990 and 1991 and sort
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of stipulates how we didn't understand. we didn't understand the type of threat and the thingsthali that russians might do to infiltrate. but given that failure the election of donald trump was an opportunity to change the narrative and do something about it. but as the article states donald trump takes any conversation as an attack on the legitimacy of his election. >> you're exactly right. and this is true that european allies have been telling us for years now that we should be fearing the russians, this is not a new problem. this goes back several years to when the russians disrupted asan antonio, essentially took down their entire essentially internet, did a terrible cyber hack on estonia when it was joining nato and they were upset about the baltic states. it had been formerly part of the
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ussr. the problem is one side, that's the united states, is not fighting back. the second question is what are putin's motivations here? putin is in some ways much like an old czar than he is like stalin-type leader. he really wants to bring together the old soviet union as you say fell in 1991. and he's done a lot to interfere in his neighboring countries hat are no longer soviet states and a lot to interfere with european countries. and european ambassadors and foreign leaders have been warning us for years, and the obama administration did not take those warnings seriously. as you say the trump administration has a chance to turn it around and they have not done it. >> it offers a lot of history and depth into what the government knew about russian meddling and when they knew it. fair to say that the united states fell behind on this.
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we should have been doing a lot more some time ago. >> we've been our own worst enemy in many regards here, ali. and it's in part because we have so many rules and regulations that limit the cia's and the fbi's ability to for example, create a whole cloth fake media organizations, push out propaganda, launch cyber campaigns. and so we sit back, and i think the administrations and the agencies debate, you know, whether or not with lots of wringing your hands, whether or not we can really push back and go full force at this. how to do it, how to handle social media assaults on facebook and twitter and google. we weren't equipped to do this. the idea i have is we're still not doing what's needed, we still don't have an administration that's saying we've got to do something. and remember it's not just russia. china and other nations and
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their intelligence services are sitting back looking at russia having successfully picked at the weak seems of our former government, and rest assured with mid-term elections coming up, we may well see this again and it may not just be russia. it may be other services as well. >> one of the other things that is of concern is this really isn't about donald trump and whether he wins the election. this is about sewing discontent and discord in the united states. so when donald trump insults the institutions, when francis rooney of florida talks about purging the fbi, when donald trump talks about the fbi in the way he does, that's actually success. >> the president and these congress members are actually playing right into the hands of the russian intelligence services because this isn't a binary equation. as you said, it wasn't the russian intelligence services goal simply to try to help trump get into the office. their agenda is much larger, and there is no end game.
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the agenda is to sew discord and have us question our own form of government and own agencies. and isn't that what we're doing right now, and who's leading that charge? the president. >> and we know now through this article that the obama administration struggled with this. they had lots of ideas but nobody actually did enough about it. do we have any sense now given the resistance of donald trump to even discuss this, at least at levels below the president, there are active things underway to counter the russia government in politics? >> trying to take active counter measures, even a cyber campaign would somehow match russia's. president obama's was very cautious, didn't want to do it. there are people in the trump
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administration who take it seriously, who want to do something, who want to fight back. but if you have a president who feels his entire legitimacy is undercut by even mentioning the russians interfered in the 2016 campaign, he feels it undermines his legitimacy. i think they were more against hillary clinton than they were necessarily pro-donald trump. if only he could wipe the slate clean and say, okay, he won, but now we have to do something about russia. but he's incapable of doing that because of his ego. and it goes wack to things like insisting he had the biggest inaugural crowd ever, that hillary clinton's popular vote win was fraudulent. going into the 2018 mid-term elections expect russian bots and trolls continuing to do things and expect the same in other elections with our allies.
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i expect they will continue these cyber measures throughout 2018. so it's a very dangerous situation, and i hope someone can get through to the president and let him know action needs to be taken and he needs to set his ego aside. >> thanks very much to both of you. coming up candidate trump famously bragged he would be so busy as president he wouldn't have time to golf. but even he might be surprised to learn how much of his presidency he's spent at trump golf properties when "the 11th hour" continues.
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i doubt i'd be here if it weren't for social media to be honest with you. because there is a fake media, that i get treated unfairly be the media. and i have a tremendous platform. so when somebody says something about me, i'm able to go bing, bing, bing and i take care of it. >> the boston globe took a deep
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dive into the his 2,400 plus tweets since his inauguration. they write, quote, if he spent only one minute on each post that would be nearly 40 hours. a solid workweek by most americans spent just on tweets. he tweeted this evening. his travels, too, are unprecedented. according to an nbc news count today marked his 111th day at a trump property as president. with me here in the studio tonight a former senior advisor on the bush, cheney campaign. and an assisting managing editor of politics. christina, let me start with you. one has to give the president credit. he has managed to use social media, twitter in particular, to work around the established media he thinks is against him. many presidents go through this, where they think the media is against him.
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but none of them have had an effective way of getting their message out otherwise to his credit. >> sure, he's certainly not the first politician to try to go around the media. and twitter has allowed him to have this platform far more than any other president in history, right? the thing that's interesting about this is politicians, hillary clinton, you know, government offices to some extent, like you can sort of expect some of the criticism that comes from the president's twitter feed. but other world leaders, particularly unstable dictators, that might not be the best way to direct your criticism. and that's where it's -- that boston globe analysis was so fascinating. because he's actually tweeted more during the final six months of this year than the first six months of this year where we thought the chief of staff john kelly was going to curb some of that in. you can sort them by the type of
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thing whether it's information or watching television or insults. and it's really remarkable how frequently the president is looking backward. he's looking back at the campaign. he's looking back on things people have said to thim, people that supported him or didn't support him rather than looking forward. and of course at the end of the year that's sort of where we all should be looking forward to 2018. >> look, like him or not he is relatively effective on twitter. now, at some point like the tweets today, they can seem a little incoherent. the doubling of the number of characters on twitter has not been necessarily beneficial when it comes to the president. but the boston globe reports a third of the president's activity occurs between 5:00 and 8:00 in the morning. how much of that do you think is him trying to set the agenda for the day versus him watching cable television in the morning? >> one, we know this president is news junky. we know this president loves to
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play offense. so doing so in the morning he obviously is driving the news cycle. he knows what he's doing there. but secondly, it's a stream of consciousness for him. he reads his presidential daily brief, watches fox and friends and then goes and watches morning joe, although he claims he doesn't. but i understand he does and then he watches cnn. that's when he starts to, for lack of a better term, goes off on rants. and he's able to get his frustrations off his chest before he goes into the oval office. >> so you're saying it might not be a bad thing? >> look, i don't know about that. anytime the president speaks it's supposed to be news, right? but the reality is when this president does it, he does it in a way that's petty. >> there are some journalists, there's a lot of people who criticize us for publicizing all
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of these tweets, and there's some journalists who say they choose to stay away from it unless it's something of consequence. in other words, stay away from the insults and quips like that. how do you think we should approach this? the globe writes that 48 tweets have mentioned hillary clinton since the president has taken office. in the news media unless you're doing a story on hillary clinton, she's not a particularly relevant part of the conversation. >> sure. when you have tens of thousands of followers your twitter feed is relevant. i'm sorry, it's kind of frustrating. you know, i had in my day reporters say we shouldn't cover the presidential address that comes out on the weekends. it used to be text and radio and now it's on youtube because it's just messaging from the white house. but it's a communication platform. and in the end in addition to the fact it can influence the stock market, global affairs, potential nuclear war, a lot of
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different big, big things can be influenced by his twitter feed. remember when his account was deleted briefly? who has access, who can get in there and send something out that can have dramatic effects? there should be very secure preces on that from the twitter company perspective and also who has access to it at the white house. we will all remember the moment he tweeted cofefee late at night. and that tweet remained up for many hours. so that says a lot about the way people work for the president and the command he powers by holding that device in his hand. coming up as 2017 may be known for the tweets and the travel, it'll also be remembered for the resistance movement that donald trump's election has spawned. we're back after this. we ha
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historic nature of the trump presidency. just as remarkable is the vocal active resistance to that presidency. on the president's first full day in office "the washington post" estimates more than 4 million people took part in women's marches across the united states. a week later thousands crowded into airports around the world to protest president trump's travel ban. a trump critic wrote "the new york times" today, quote, donald trump has been very bit as horrible as one might have expected, yet i'm ending this year with a feeling of hope because tens of millions of americans have risen to the occasion. and today "the new york times" profiled eric niderman, not exactly an american household name as an example of state opposition to the white house. writing, quote, his office took its 100th legal action against the trump administration and congressional republicans.
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back with us, christina, the new york attorney general is not the only state official pushing back against the white house. "the new york times" reports in california stextra money was se aside for the attorney general to challenge administration actions. >> sure, our attorney general here as filed less than 20 of those actions. still a big number but nowhere near as many as mr. snyderman. but the legislator sort of took it upon itself to be an action to president trump. the most resistant would be the sanctuary state law, which effectively allows the law enforcement to the say, no, we're not going to deport people who are in the country illegally and follow all of the crime -- or all of the immigration laws that the federal government wants to put in place. because the legislator is
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dramatically democratic. and there's a super majority of democrats. and they said we're going to stand up to trump, a congressional delegation overwhelmingly democratic. governor jerry brown, he's not only a huge democrat and critic of the president but he's been out there acting as sort of the world's climate ambassador saying president trump's policy on climate do not speak for all of us. join california, acting as if it's its own nation to challenge the president on issues of climate change. so california has really med an effort there. the women's march as you mentioned, millions of those people came from here. and that effort is looking to continue into 2018. >> robert, it's not just the obvious suspects from california or new york, or governors or senators. it's mayors, it's attorneys general as kristina was saying. there are a lot of people possibly positioning themselves against a running for donald trump. but during the commercial break you were thinking if he were to
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run again he could win again. >> two reasons. one, donald trump has done a good job of electrifying the conservative base. secondly, i don't know who could beat donald trump today. when you take a look at eelizabeth warren, cory booker, kamala harris, yes they're darlings of the left, but i'm not sure they can carry a nation wide-campaign. you've got to remember donald trump flipped four states. ask i'm not sure those four states could actually go toe to toe with trump. they're very good at activating their left base, but i'm not sure they'll be able to squelch the tsunami. >> thank you for spending your time with us this evening. coming up russian president vladimir putin expected to easily cruise to election
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victory in march, but he's not taking any chances when "the 11th hour" continues. the federal government that once waged a today 40 years after "the new york times" began to unvail them. >> a secret pentagon report on how the united states got into the vietnam war.
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the last thing before we go tonight, there's drama already in the 2018 elections, but we're not talking about the ones that could determine the balance of power on capitol hill. this man with his head buried in
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his hands just found out he will not be able to challenge vladimir putin in his russia's presidential election scheduled for march. he was barred yesterday on christmas day from running the central election committee in moskow. the 41-year-old is known as an anti-corruption candidate and could have been the most serious challenger that putin has faced after years of leading russia. the ap reports, quote, he's explicithy barred because of conviction in a fraud case which has been viewed as political retribution. he could have run if he was given a special dispensation or if his conviction was canceled. he's calling for an election boycott, but putin is now very likely to get another term. not that you could really believe russian opinion polls, but they put his approval rating at over 80%. russia also making news tonight after a spokesman for
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putin offered to be the middle man. here's how cia john mclaughlin responded to that offer. >> russia does not carry a lot of weight in this realm, but it would be to his advantage to be seen as an international statesman. >> viewers will know as the two sergeis underscored the need to resolve the north korean nuclear crisis through diplomatic means. in addition today washington slapped two sanctions on north korean officials both believed to be involved in pyongyang's nuclear missile program. thank you for being with us. i'll see you back here tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. good night from nbc news headquarters in new york.
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good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. the president of the united states proclaimed he was getting back to work today, then he did, attacking the fbi and robert mueller's probe as one of his congressional allies came on this network and called for a, quote, purge of the fbi and the department of justice. the latest on the president's undermining of the mueller investigation in just a moment. also tonight, in the wake of the trump tax cuts, david cay johnston on the president's alleged declaration to his golf club patrons that you all just got a lot richer. plus, the latest grim details from the american disaster in puerto rico, where much of the island spent the holiday without power. and "the new yorker's" mosha guessen is here to share her thoughts on america's relations with russia and the state of the country one year into the trump presidency.

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