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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  January 25, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST

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i can see how the memory of the man we lost a half century ago robert kennedy lights up eyes of people. i saw it last night. to be lit up yourself, gets a copy "bobby kennedy, a raging spirit." that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. all-in with chris hayes" starts right now. >> tonight on "all in." >> are you going to talk to mueller? >> i'm looking forward to it actually. >> as the obstruction case comes together -- >> i would do it under oath, absolutely. >> new collusion questions over trump junior's senate testimony. >> for me, this was opposition research. >> and about that secret society. >> secret society. >> now we find out skeet society. >> how trump world conspiracy theories keep falling apart. >> screed secret society. >> who is in the society. >> then a reality check on the trump economy. >> that's a big thing. that's very big. >> and as stormy daniels speaks
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out -- >> did you have a sexual relationship with donald trump. >> how the president has managed to remain silent. >> thank you all very much. >> thanks everyone. >> when all-in starts right now. >> good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes with the mueller investigation getting closer and closer and closer to the president of the united states, the president's allies and defenders are getting more and more desperate as they spin conspiracy theories designed to absolve him pushing the kind of stuff that you usually see in movies, evil secret societies, missing test messages, truth telling memos it the authorities won't let you see like a spy thriller. there's just one little small problem. all their claims keep falling apart in embarrassing and indeed hilarious fashion. on monday, two gop lawmakers announced on tv that will fbi employees peter strzok and lisa page had exchanged text messages referencing, cue scary music, a secret society at the fbi.
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strzok and page exchanged anti-trump messages during the campaign and the implication was the secret society was at the nexus of a plot to take down trump. trump tv naturally went absolutely crazy. >> strzok and his fbi lawyer mistress lisa page talked about a "secret society within the fbi? is this a banana republic. >> the fbi officials talk about a secret society. >> part of a secret society. >> the secret society. >> secret society. the anti-trump secret society. >> a secret society. we have an informant talking about a group that were holding secret meetings off site. >> secret society. >> secret society. >> skeet society. >> a secret society top cops. >> trey gowdy is demanding answers. >> i want to know what society are you talking about. >> of course you would want to know that. from the start, i got to say all this seemed suspect. for one thing, anyone in an
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actual secret society probably isn't calling their secret society secret society. and we now have evidence that the text was likely what pretty much anyone with any common sense whatsoever assumed from the beginning, a sarcastic joke. last night abc news revealed the full secret society text which made clear the comment was most likely in jest. for senator ron johnson who obviously claimed he had an informant confirming secret meetings, that made things a bit awkward. >> after reading those transcripts of the text messages, do you think it was made as a joke? >> it's entirely possible. let's see what the next texas. >> what about the number of texts. >> it will be interesting. >> do you owe an apology sir for raising these concerns. >> we'll see what the next texts there. >> he said we'll see what the missing texts. are you heard of that one? johnson is talking about five months worth of text messages between strzok and page that the
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fbi had been unable to find and turn over. to trump allies this was proof they had something huge to hide. the president called the missing texts one of the biggest stories in a long time. wow. on trump tv last night, conservative activist tom fitten said the trump administration should raid the fbi to secure them. >> if i were the attorney general of the united states, i would be very concerned about what the fbi did here and i would send an independent law enforcement like the u.s. marshals to secure and recover this evidence. >> just be clear r clear, is he recommending president send in loyal security services to raid the security service viewed as disloyal now today brought bad news for the truthers. the justice department recovered the texts. the d oo j inspector say they had succeeded to get them back using forensic tools. the issue affected thousands of phones within the fbi, not just strzok and pages which doesn't
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held the text truthers case. there's always the next theory to turn to. cue, house intelligence committee devin nunes who obviously isn't up in to this sort of thing. he draft aid classified memo many republicans will say will prove finally the justice department's anti-trump corruption once and for all. >> release the memo. #release the memo. call the number on your screen, 202-224-3121, tell congress the truth and we have a right to know. >> act now. in a letter yesterday, steven boyd, a form he ever jeff sessions staffer informed nunes i quote here, it would be extraordinarily reckless to release the memo without justice department review saying to do so would be a real risk to national security. 'allowed the entire gop caucus to read the memo while denying access to those who obviously might question it. then there's this. >> at the time the republicans voteded to provide this flawed
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document to the house, i made a motion to allow the members to read the underlying materials before they voted on characterizing them in such a distorted fashion. they voted that down. >> why would you vote to not have access to read things? >> the point was they didn't care what was in the underlying documents. they wanted to make a little statement. >> in the end, that's what all this is about from the madeup secret society to the misleading memo, that is what it's all about. >> it's almost on a daily basis they create these false controversies to take off -- take the pressure off what is clearly special prosecutor mueller is getting closer and closer to the truth. >> joining me now justice and security analyst matt miller, and msnbc national security analyst clint watts, former fbi agent. clint, as someone who obviously worked in the fbi, what is it like to watch sort of portion of
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the american political system, these institutions like trump tv and conservative media and the white house and allies essentially sell the story to people that the fbi is this kind of like liberal fifth column that trying to bring down a president? >> just historically to ever perceive the fbi that way doesn't make any sense. but it is a very conservative organization. you wear only two color shirts, white or blue. everywhere pretty much is buttoned down there. i would guess we never talked about who is a republican or a democrat but i would guess it is strongly conservative and of all the organizations you would tend to think that because it's law enforcement. what's baffling is why you would do this. even in just a political battle like this transactionally, it's no gain or minimal gain. ultimately it hurts our country. if you were going after a federal law enforcement institution at the same time you're advocating for the opioid crisis and we've got to take
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these networks down trying to going after ms13, you're going after an trump country as an fbi agent and they're saying you're part of the deep state or a member of some secret society. i don't want to aid you in this investigation. so you're shooting yourself in the foot. that's why you saw the department of justice today. they're confused what's going on in this congressional setting. > matt, what did you make -- you now have had sort of standoff between the trump justice department under the direction of jeff sessions and a former sessions staffer writing to dern nunes basically saying cut this nonsense out. >> that was an extraordinary letter because it was signed by a former staffer to jeff sessions and remember the attacks they're making all relate to a fisa warrant approved during the 2016 election when loretta lynch was the attorney general and jim comey was the head of the justice department, a republican who obviously now every republican hates. in this letter, you got a republican former sessions staffer speak on behalf of trump
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appointee rod rosenstein and chris wray coming out and saying, actually we've looks at the fisa application from the 2016 application and there was nothing wrong with it. they've now gotten the republican justice department to come out and say what the democratic-led justice department did was completely 100% within the law. but the further claim that they make that for devin nunes to release there memo would be reckless and could jeopardize national security, i can't think of a time when a justice department of one party has written to a committee chairman of the same committee with that big of a claim. it's even more strange because you have on the other side, just down pennsylvania avenue at the white house, you've had sarah sanders saying they want the memo to come out in the full interest of transparent sit contradicting the people who say it could hurt security. >> the white house has taken is the side of the allied media organizations against its own
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justice department. >> take a listen, clint. >> there are serious questions about political bias at high levels at the fbi. they've existed for some time under the leadership of the previous director james comey. >> it's remarkable for the president's spokesperson to call it the integrity of his own fbi into question. >> they also selected certain text messages that fit their story and left out others that didn't fit their story. you give me your text messages, i can make you believe anything. >> absolutely true. >> and the way social media and congress and the president played all these things in public, it continues on this barrage. it's release the memo one day, release the tests the next. it's the same playbook we saw in the campaign against hillary clinton with lost e-mails. >> matt, they also do seem to be cycling through a bunch of different ones. i'm old enough to remember when they were all about uranium one
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for about a week. that didn't stick. >> unmacking. > what do you make of the ways in which they procedurally move through these? >> they have to move from one to the other. he had pick one, say trump tower being wiretapped. that doesn't pan out. they move to another one. that doesn't pan out. they move to uranium 1. they have to have something with which to attack the fbi so they can focus on something other than the fact we keep seeing embarrassing and new revelations about the president. there's a certain amount of partisanship kind of baked in in washington that you sort of understand. we are far beyond partisanship when you see the texts. these are dishonorable actions by dishonorable people launching attacks when they know the evidence contradicts their claims with no regard to career servants who obviously spent their careers trying to protect national security no, regard for the credibility of these institutions they're damaging, and all to thwart and subvert an investigation into how a foreign
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country interfered with our election. it is pauling behavior from the republican party. >> #hysteria. they're the masters of hysteria. the people who obviously read those hashtags have no idea what they mean. we saw it with president trump. 50,000 e-mails. >> for more on the dubious moorm, i'm joined by white house reporter austin and spencer ackerman. spencer, you've been reporting on this. what are they doing? what is the game plan here? >> so, this is somewhat like -- this is somewhat like when galileo ends up transforming our view of a helio centric universe and in order to sort of fight off that transformation, you have to get into ever more exotic theories. >> right. >> to kind of explain this. and you end up getting the idea of like the retro grade motion
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of gestalt. >> spencer. >> it's an interesting thing to watch as applied to this memo which to be very clear, i have not read and we only get you know, snippets from what we can report on. what we know right now from our reporting last night myself and betsy woodruff at the daily buy of the," the memo names particular sort of conservative people of the moment to include the former fbi director jim comey, the current deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, and as one of the more famous targets at this point by the president the deputy director of the fbi andrew mccabe. now, among the things all of these people have in common is that they have been involved in really substantial ways in the investigation to trump and russia. the question is sort of what's the through line there that connects them. what we sort of have seen from rather selective leaks, it's to make an argument that the fisa an process that led to the surveillance warrant on carter
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page last year was in some way tainted. that's where again from other leaks we've gotten, the idea is that they relied on christopher steele dossier. now, at the risk of stating you know with an fbi agent who obviously has been an afinite in the fisa process sitting next to me, the people i've talked to involved in the process say that there's simply no credible way that you would have a judge ever approve for a title 1 fisa warrant a statement for probable cause, an application for probable cause that relies on a dossier where the affiants involved can't say where the guy's information comes from or whose informants they are. so the question that we're facing for this memo, i personally would like to read this memo very much, is how all of this knits together in some kind of coherent way. >> it seems to me the white house is very clearly in on this. there's this is sort of back and forth between allies on the hill and the white house with the aim
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of subverting and discredititying their own justice department and federal bureau of investigation. >> absolutely. and before i get to that, i must address what you were mentioning earlier especially regarding the secret society con spiry theory imploding in on itself. the way it imploded it resembles an episode of "veep." a lot of this is ridiculous but part of the problem why this has legs and will not die is because according to people i have spoken to in the white house over the last few days, the president of the united states is absolutely obsessed with these theorys and something he seize as an abscam level scandal of the deep state or whatever out to get him. no matter how many of these things get debunked or there's no reason to take them seriously from anybody reasonable or objective, you can expect the president of the united states to talk about this and tweet
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about it for quite some time. >> partly because he's consuming this stuff. >> that's right. >> it's like the snake is eating its tail here. the president watches this on his television. he then tweets about it and the cycle repeats itself. >> talk about some of the ramifications of this. you mentioned the judicial watch guy proposing that the u.s. marshals raid the fbi. now, we hear a lot particularly during this life span of this story about the deep state, that this is some sort of conspiracy by the security agencies to go after trump to undo you the results of the 2016 election and you get coup talk thrown in from people like alex jones. what a deep state actually is a rogue security apparatus pursuing its own highly politicize the agenda and particularly is prone as we see in countries like egypt and turkey to attacking the unfavored security agents. >> exactly. >> the irony is ultimately you
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could create a real feasible prospect, a real -- a circumstance that for all of the rhetoric is a rather dangerous one where you politicize the security agencies and particularly create loyalty tests for security agencies as we heard the president apparently asked the interim director of the fbi andrew mccabe who obviously he vote ford, that could result in some sort of you know, some sort of conflict or otherwise result in this co-optation of one of these agencies against basically all-american laws and traditions. that's a really serious thing to play with. >> laying the foupgs for the kind of hinge that engenders deep state. thank you both for joining me. next, donald trump jr. and the russian conspiracy back in the headlines today. the back and forth over trump junior's senate judiciary testimony and why one democrat says the transcript may be material to the mueller
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all right. we have breaking news just in the last few moments from the "new york times." a just published a few minutes ago, i'm going to read you from the times" article headline. trump ordered mueller fired but backed off when white house counsel threatened to quit. president trump ordered the firing last you know of robert mueller iii the special counsel overseeing the russia investigation according to four people told of the matter but ultimately backed down after the white house counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive. this is last june. the west wing confrontation marks the first time mr. trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. mr. mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and forrer senior white house officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice. barbara mcquaid is a former u.s. attorney from michigan and msnbc legal contributor.
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i know you have seen this a few seconds ago as i have now. your reaction? >> well, it's really extraordinary whenever i hear talk about the president firing robert mueller, i think about the saturday night massacre which was really the tipping point for richard nixon's demise. so i always think it would be an incredibly politically dangerous thing for president trump to do, certainly there's a question of what are the legal ramifications of it. does he have the power to do it? probably. but you know, like any power of the president, if it is done for a corrupt purpose, then that could be more evidence of obstruction of justice. so i can understand why his white house carrie leed him against it even going so far according to the story as threatening to quit. extraordina extraordinary. >> one of the things interesting here it appears that the timeline that this is when it starts being made public that the white house, that, mueller is interested not just in russia
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and the possibility of collusion with an adversary who obviously commit add crime to interfere in an american election but also with oobstruction in the wake of the comey firing. they were actively attempting to obstruct justice in terms of how they handled that. and there's a kind of i don't know, again, self-referencity here which is that discover that he thought about firing mueller himself in the course of investigating the possibility of obstruction. >> yeah, i guess the analogy of the snake eating its tail comes to mind again as you head in the last segment. the irony piles upon itself. as we've discussed before, chris, when the president exercises a power like the power to fire or the power to appoint a federal judge or to grant a pardon, he has power to do all of those things. if he does it for improper pur, say, for example, in exchange for a bribe, that's an easy example when it would be a corrupt purpose, similarly, if he were to fire robert mueller
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because he's afraid he's going to get too close to learning the truth about what happened with russia, that would be obstruction of justice or some evidence of it. so i think it's an important factor that robert mueller will throw into the whole mix of all the things he's looking at to decide whether president trump had a corrupt purpose in all the things he's been doing. >> i want to bring back one of the white house reporters from "the daily beast" and get your reaction to this. >> absolutely. the interesting thing abouting this is it's not entirely surprising given that the president has floated or flirted with the prospect of ordering the sacking of robert mueller for months. and as is clear in this story, basically every senior official in his white house and close to him and in his administration has been urging him not to do so because they recognize what don mcgahn recognized that doing so
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would set off a potentially presidency-ending or presidency-defining armageddon. >> there's a few things that pop out here. one is mcgahn's ability to stop him doing what would be, i think you're right, a presidency-ending move or the beginning of the end. to barbara's point about the saturday night massacre, it was the firing of archibald cox by president nixon that sort of began the ends for him. this paragraph also pertains. barbara, i want your reaction to it. another option that mr. trump considered in cushions with his advisers was dismissing the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein and elevating the number three official rachel brand overseeing mr. mueller. what do you think about the possibility how would that work if you would to remove rosenstein? >> you want me to answer that
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question. >> please, thanks. >> i think that would have similar political ramifications. rob rosen sign is a career respected deputy attorney general. he's been a u.s. attorney in both republican and democratic administrations. to remove him in that scenario without any just cause i think would cause a lot of alarm and panic. i don't know that it would be any better than firing robert mueller because it would suggest you're trying to elevate someone who obviously might be more sympathetic to your views in overseeing the investigation. so i think that too would be a disaster for president trump. >> swen, talk about the mood in the white house with respect to this investigation because we know the president's obsessed with it. he watches a channel that talks about these sort of conspiracy theories. we know he's been railing against mueller and sessions publicly and against the fbi publicly. what is the mood there like? it seems like in what i can tell
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on the outside and the reporting there's this kind of hoping to stop him from doing something that would genuinely be absolutely catastrophic. >> that's 100% true and currently something that advisers both inside and outside of the white house have been trying to convince the president to do or at least urge him against is as the president said last night during his impromptu press gaggle that oh, sure, i definitely within the next two or three weeks, i would be willing to sit down under oath for an interview with team mueller. that's at stake something i would like to do because the president does not believe he's done anything wrong and refuses to believe there is any reason anybody should think he did anything wrong. people inside the white house and outside of it have been strongly urging him to a, listen to your lawyers and b, do not submit yourself to something like that. perhaps don't even submit yourself to an interview at all
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because they are concerned of his propensity to run his mouth and trouble he could potentially get himself into in that kind of intense situation. >> the fact that he, barbara, the fact the president had to be restrained from taking this action which would have been both cataclysmic politically abreal rule of law questions, what does that say about what he's learned over the course of his presidency about the rule of law and about what he did wrong in firing comey? >> well, i guess he didn't make the same mistake twice. i guess that shows he's a little bit coachable, that he ultimately took the advice of white house counsel. if it's true that white house counsel had to threaten to resign to get him to stop, then maybe he was just limiting his political damage at that point realizing how bad it would look and so i'm not sure he's learned any lessons. he just knows what a political disaster it would have been for his white house counsel to resign. >> let me bringing in asawin.
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one of the reporters that broke the story "the new york times," a remarkable bit of reporting, michael. >> well, if you look back at june, it's a month after mueller has been appointed and the white house has experienced the firing of comey and seen the enormous impact that that will. and mcgahn was deeply concerned about it and was willing to put his job on the line to try and stop it. >> you have four different people telling this. what was the context or the trigger for the president wanting to fire mueller? >> well, the president thought that mueller had conflict of interest issues. the president thought that mueller who obviously had been a member of his golf club in northern virginia, had had a dispute about membership fees. that was one of the reasons he will to go. the other reason being that mueller had worked at a law firm that represented jared kushner and mueller had interviewed to be the fbi director the day before he was made special
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counsel. the president thought those were things that were reasons for him not to oversee the russia investigation. >> has this kind of desire to get rid of mueller, has it pertained or has it gone away over time? >> well, the president has changed his tone towards mueller. he has since ty cobb came in in july, he has ratcheted back his criticisms and he has even as recently as december said he thought mueller would treat him fairly. i think he has been coached to the point that to realize that criticizing mueller doesn't get him anywhere. it only antagonizes and drags this process out. if he's done nothing wrong, then he shouldn't do that. >> do you have reporting that suggests what the views of other folks, obviously mcgahn was so dead set opposed to this he threatened to resign. other people in that white house, their views of it at the
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time? >> i don't think that anyone thought this was a good idea. very few people thought the firing of comey was a good idea. there was some support at doj and amongst folks like jared kushner. i don't think anyone thought getting rid of mueller would solve anything at that point. there was a full blown investigation into the president's conduct in office. and i'm not sure what anyone thought getting rid of mueller would do to that. if anything, maybe it would lead republicans to be even more critical of the president and say if you're getting rid of mueller, what do you have to hide. >> do you think that the political calculation that was made or the legal one made by don mcgahn, do you have any sense what have that did to their relationship in terms of mcgahn's ability to retrain impulses like that from the president? >> mcgahn and the president have been through so much together. they went through the comey firing together. the president tried to get -- had mcgahn lobby sessions in
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march not to recuse himself from the russia investigation. there's this incident. mcgahn is a central player in every major incident except for the plane ride that mueller is looking as the. mcgahn was the white house's top lawyer and had to try and figure out how to balance not breaking the law with what the president wanted to do. >> one more thing just to make sure i understand the detail here that your report suggests or i think it says that mueller himself and their team found out about this in the course of their investigation into the possibility of obstruction. >> correct. the -- you have to understand mueller spent the past several months interviewing many white house officials about the president's conduct to try and understand the president's motivations, why did he fire comey and so obsessed with having someone loyal that oversaw the russia investigation. he's learned a lot of different things. the white house has exerted no po executive or attorney/client privilege and allowed officials
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to speak openly with mueller. mueller has learned these things from that into michael schmidt one of the by lines along with maggie haberman in that "new york times" article, the headline breaking at this moment, trump ordered mueller fired but backed off when white house counsel threatened to quit. thank you so much for popping on the phone, michael. appreciate it. i want to go back to barbara mckad and asawin. the idea, barbara, that the white house has allows their folks to talk to mueller and the president is now saying he will talk to mueller, what do you think about the likelihood the president actually goes through with that? >> i think at some point it's going to be difficult for him to stay in office without talking to robert mulener some way. my guess is his lawyers are trying to negotiate some limits on that so that he is not fully exposed talking for hours and hours with all the dangers that brings to it. that's why i'm sure it made them a little crazy he said yesterday
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i'll talk to him under oath no problem. i'm sure they're involved in very careful negotiations to try to limit those terms. my questions is that robert mueller can't close this investigation one way or the other without at some point talking to president trump to try to probe his intent at the time he was saying those things, if he said them and making those decisions. >> asawin, how often do you think it happens in that white house that someone threaten tosses quit or throws himself across the tracks as it appears mcgahn did here? >> way more frequently than i think people in the white house find appropriate or at all comforting or that we here would find appropriate or comforting. but something i think that's important to keep in mind regarding the reported june desire express desire and almost explicit order from president
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trump in terms of ordering the sacking of robert mueller, when you take that in itself, it is vital to realize that is more extreme and the position that has been held by some of his more extreme or shall we a hard-core allies or current or former administration officials. even someone like steve bannon who obviously used to be on good terms with the president. shortly after he left the white house he advised the president to get rougher and tougher with mueller and get yourself some new lawyers. and basically start as the president would say, fighting back more when it comes to robert mueller and his team of investigators. even then someone like steve bannon never urged the president to order the sacking or the firing of robert muler. >> that's a great point. barbara and asawin sueb senga. i have at the table congressman
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jerry nadler, the ranking member of the house judiciary committee. we were -- when we booked you to come to the show, we were going to talk about what we were learn bth case for about the case for obstruction of justice and we just got this bit of news. your reaction to this news. >> well, my reaction to this news is that in retrospect, it's not surprising. the president and the people around him have been doing everything they can to discredit the special prosecutor to discredit the investigation. to discredit any agency that cooperates with it. the fbi, et cetera. with a view toward disabling the investigation and discrediting whatever report may come out. this is the behavior of people with something to fear. of people who obviously think that there's a high likelihood the special counsel will either decide the president's guilty of a crime or recommend -- or issue a report that might lead to
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impeachment or something. the fact that he tried to or that he wanted to fire him before he was warned off by his lawyers is not surprising in that regard but it is more evidence as to intent in doing everything he can to obstruct the investigation. >> you know, it's interesting to me mcgahn, i keep feeling we are going to head toward some moment where we have an institutional showdown, at some point there's going to be a question of what holds like there was in the saturday night massacre. you had people sprint together fbi and in this case, it seems mcgahn was the one who obviously said you cannot do this. my question to you is, given the way your colleagues republicans have conducted themselves, particularly in the house with respect to the fbi and the nunes memo, are you confident that if you were to sack mueller that they would be upset and hold him accountable and takes steps to do that? >> no, i'm not confident. that would be a great test for the republicans.
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assuming they were still in the majority at that point. they have so far failed to exercise their duty as members of the house and senate to hold the president accountable, to have -- to supply checks and balances that one branch is supposed to supply against the other and to exercise oversight. they instead have conducted themselves increasingly like football linebackers making way for whatever the president wants to do and participating in trying to discredit any institution that we depend on to hold the president accountable. so no, now, if the president were to -- if it did come to a crisis, would some of the -- some of my republican colleagues say to themselves, enough is enough, politics is enough. i've got to be patriotic here and uphold the institutions, maybe. >> maybe. >> maybe. >> we now know, i mean, we have a bunch of new pieces in -- there's the sort of two stories,
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the stories of what the russians did, there's a story about and sub siddry is whether they had help from americans or anyone in the president's campaign and a second question whether the president obstructed justice. did he act with corrupt intent to stop a criminal investigation. >> or is he continuing obstruction right now. >> that's the question. it seems to me there's a case to be made just on the facts we know. particularly this bolsters the case that he has done that. isn't that fairly -- isn't that a pretty makable case? >> well, i think you could make a case. there are two separate cases remember. obstruction of justice. one is could you make a criminal case. and the criminal law obstruction of justice can be quite technical, turns on inintent and maybe you could make that case and maybe you couldn't. that's up to the special counsel to decide and to make recommendations. the other is the question of impeachment. obstruction of justice not as a
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criminal case but as a factual matter was the key of one of the articles of impeachment voted against nixon. and people many people don't understand this, but high crimes and misdemeanors as aim peachable offense do not have to be crimes under the criminal code. equally crimes under the criminal code may not be impeachable. there are two separate tests and we'd have to see at the time. >> would firing mueller were he had to do it, right, which it's unclear to me that it's necessarily that this is a passing fancy he's now let go of. if he went so far as to order his white house counsel to do it, and the white house counsel says i quit, is that an impeachable offense to you, a bright red line? >> the act of -- the act of firing mueller by himself -- by itself is not an impeachable offense. the act of firing mueller as part of a pattern of acts designed to impede an
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investigation to obstruct the judicial system in investigating a crime, the crime after all was the russians hacking into the dnc and using that information that vi lays our laws and the possible collusion by americans perhaps in the trump campaign with that crime, that would be impeachable if you could show that it was part of a pattern and designed for the improper purpose of obstructing that investigation. >> you know, all throughout there period and particularly with respect to this investigation, it's felt like there's been these sort of tests against the institutions, whether they'll hold 0 or not. you've got a situation where the president's allies in congress are fighting with the justice department about possibly releasing classified information, the justice department said it would threaten the national security. you've got the president and his allies casting aspersions on the integrity and trustability of the chief law enforcement
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operation that he runs. >> whose leaders he appointed. >> and whose leaders he appointed. you've got him kind of railing against his own -- asking the fbi director acting director who obviously he voted for. how worried are you? i mean in the scale of how you stay up at night about where we are institutionally in this country at this moment, where are you at? >> i'm very concerned. i don't know how this is going to turn out. the president not only in the russian investigation but in all sorts of other ways is breaking every norm and seeking to denigrate every institution we depend on to protect our liberty and to protect our constitutional form of government. whether it's trashing the press or trashing the judiciary or trashing the law enforcement agencies, it's all of the piece. we'll find out if our institutions are viable enough still to handle this. i certainly hope so.
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it's not a guarantee. >> the glass half full wave interpreting the story we just got and if you just happened to be joining us, "the new york times" publishing a report that the president in june ordered mueller to be fired. he backed off when his white house counsel in the cross hairs of all this from the beginning threatened to quit over it. that's how bad an idea he thought it was. the glass halfful way of looking at that is that he backed off. this thing he could have done he does have the constitutional authority to fire the special prosecutor. he has to get rosenstein to do it and, et cetera. he has a constitutional authority to do it and the fact that he did not, his counsel convinced him the glass half full, it worked. >> so far it has. so far it has. we have to hope that it will or we have to do everything we can to hold the feet of all the people, all the players which means the republican and democratic members of the house and senate to the fire. >> the fear is that it holds
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till it doesn't and when it doesn't, it's too late. >> it's possible. i mean, we've seen democratic governments fall into other forms of government before. hopefully, we are resilient enough and the people of the country are sensitive enough and devoted enough to the democratic form of government they won't permit this to happen, that republican members of the house will not go beyond a certain point that the population will not go beyond a certain point. >> jerry nadler, it's great to have you here tonight. i appreciate it. >> great to be here. i want to bring in former watergate assistant prosecutor and legal analyst nick ackerman. your reaction to the story. >> yeah, i guess my first reaction, is this is astounding evidence of consciousness of guilt. why would he want to fire mueller unless he's trying to cover something up and it's clear to me that what he's trying to cover up is the conspiracy between him, his campaign, and the russian government. this whole thing that's been
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going on the last few weeks where he says he wants to cooperate, he's looking forward to testifying, i mean it's all a big charade because that's what this shows. and you put that in combination with the fact that he has all of these surrogates out there doing the dirty work with this ridiculous four-page memo that nunes has come up with based on totally crazy ideas, i mean, this is like the fifth or sixth edition of this sort of attack on the mueller prosecution team. they're just hoping that something sticks and it's obvious to me based on this new news tonight that the president is behind all of this. that he says one thing but he's got other people doing other things. and to me, the bottom line is, it just shows he's guilty. >> so. >> i'm not sure yet what it is
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he's guilty of but he's clearly guilty. >> that has been your view from the beginning. you have been quite certain i think for months now there's something there and you're someone who obviously was on that prosecution team for watergate. what you're saying is you don't think that the president wanted him fired because robert mueller had a fees dispute with a northernern virginia golf course that trump owned. that doesn't stand for you? >> that doesn't stand up, the idea that he was angry because he couldn't play golf and the fees were too high just doesn't make a lot of sense. >> i mean, none of this does other than the fact that we know a crime was committed. we know that the russians broke into the democratic national committee. they stole e-mails. we know that you know, a month later, that papadopoulos who was his foreign policy adviser was told about this. we know that june 4th, goldstone wrote to don junior saying he was going to bring the dirt,
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these documents likely the e-mails to trump tower. we know that a few days later, donald trump said he was going to talk about all the bad things the clintons did, then he didn't. then a week later, guccifer 2.0 starts publishing this dirt, these e-mails and it copies right on through the campaign with donald trump encouraging everybody to look at the wikileaks site and then you've got his hinedge man roger stone had communications with guccifer 2.0 and wikileaks. the outline of what has happened here is pretty obvious at this point. >> as someone who obviously went through the watergate process, do you think -- what is your reaction to hearing that mcgahn threatened to fire? because it sounds similar to you know, what happened over the department of justice under nixon when they were ordered to get rid of archibald cox.
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>> yes, i think it's very similar. i mean, this is exactly what nixon ordered elliott richardson to do who was the attorney general. he refused. ruckles house who was the deputy refused. and basically they had to in order to keep the white house from taking over the justice department, both ruckles house and richardson got bork to agree to fire cox so it could be done by at least the department of justice as opposed to a white house takeover. here's, trump is clearly -- has no respect for the department of justice. he has no respect for the rule of law. and he would stop at nothing to try and fire mueller if he could do it and thought he could get away with it. >> to your point, mcgahn threatening to quit apparently you know convinced him otherwise. even if they went through with it, there would probably have been resignations at the department of justice in
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incredibly analogous fashion. you would have ended up, if the white house did it and people at the department of justice resigned over it, you would have a direct history repeating itself. >> you would. there's no question about it. that's exactly -- that's exactly what we're seeing here. but in the watergate situation, i mean, at least nixon didn't take such a prominent role. he had his main -- main lieutenants in the white house doing most of his bidding. this is a situation where i think trump was involved in this from the beginning on his own. people that were involved with him were very close family members and long time con if i dans. and i think there's others around him that realize the dangers in what he's trying to do to extricate himself from all of this. >> nick ackerman, thank you for joining us tonight. stick around. we'll be right back right back with sam cedar and cristina greer.
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sam seater is an msnbc contributor and christina greer is with policy research at nyu and we're reacting to the news. so at one level, it's not surprising. the president is running around saying publicly on twitter he's being railroaded but the fact it came as close as it did and it was as serious as it was and took mcgahn, who is not necessarily stuck his neck out a ton so far, he didn't do this, for instance, over comey, right? that he went as far as he did in threatening to quit over it. what do you make of that? >> you know, i don't know that it's that surprising. to me, what is most interesting, why do we know this? how do we know this now? who interest is it for us to know this story? that's usually what i'm most wondering about when we hear
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leaking coming out of the trump administration. clearly, this does not benefit donald trump. and if i'm don mcgahn, i'm -- maybe i want it on the record as we move forward. because look, we're getting towards the end. there was a report today. >> let me be clear, i literally have no idea. >> i mean, i think it's clear this doesn't benefit president trump in any way. >> no, it does not look good for him. it looks good for don mcgahn. who does this look good for and bad for? >> you got to ask, why now and why this piece of information? we're talking about information that's seven months old. >> true. >> there has been a lot of people that left administration that could have told this story and didn't. >> that's a good point. there is a lot of people out there now, no longer inside the tent necessarily who have knowledge of what happened during that time, who may have secrets that they are willing to tell
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tell. >> the number of people that left administration are the number of people left in the administration. when you have someone like mueller who is meticulous and systematic and a president who is a known liar, right, four decades of business in new york, we know this. there are a lot of people that lied by omission or kept quiet and now when we're looking at mueller, when he's coming to your office or having you come to his office and asking you point blank questions, a lot of people realize their silence won't protect them and donald trump will throw you under the bus whether you're in his party or family. now we're going to start to see people realize it is getting hot in this kitchen, and they might want to protect themselves. >> that's a great question about the loyalty here, right? are people willing to do. >> right. but what that means for what the calculations that other people make, there is the fact that when we sit and put it together, right? he has comey over for loyalty, he asks comey to drop the flynn
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probe. he then fires comey, right? he then pressures sessions to not recuse himself. threatens to fire sessions over the fact he recused himself. he brings in the new fbi director and his wife got political donations and tries to fire mueller. that's quite a pattern of attempting to muck with, one might say obstruct the investigation into you. >> look, a very charitable view is that he just demands some type of personal loyalty, thinks that he's some type of cop out and that that's the way that you run these things. this is not someone that went into the presidency. >> the most charitable is not evidence of guilt or guilty mind set but he doesn't like the fact he doesn't control this. >> i would go further, he's used to operating in a certain way. that's also not necessarily as to what he was doing leading up.
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if he doesn't know the norms of being president, he may not know the norms of being a candidate. that's no defense. >> he doesn't realize, you are the president. we've always said he doesn't respect and understand the office. this isn't a building inspector from queens. this is the federal government and you can't just bully your way through to policy or to however he's been governing by chaos. it's worked to a certain extent but at a certain point in time, his time will be up when mueller essentially is collecting receipts from unemployed former trump people and they seen systematically how he berates people and throws them under the bus when they are no longer in the white house. you have to look and say why am i standing by this man when i know for a fact he will not stand by me if the roles were reversed. >> we should know a lot of big stories happen when the president is out of the country. the revelation that big trump tower meeting happened when he
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was in europe. the president right now is in davos. do you -- how do you think -- here is a question that i've been trying to get my head around, which is there seems like there is -- the pace is quickening. when you talk about this point about the mueller wants to talk to the president, everyone we've talked to has said that comes at the end. >> right. >> what is your feeling about the political parties in washington and how prepared they are for whatever comes next? >> i think there is a lot of people that said i'm riding this all the way out. there is no other choice. >> on the republican side. >> on the republican side because we're going to hit the wall at one point and we might as well get as much as we can before that wall comes. i mean, i don't know if the pace is quickening, but we're just at a different stage. i mean, because i feel like we said the pace is quickening for a year. >> yeah. >> but i think look, there is a
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lot of things that are coming out that are old news, right? over the past couple weeks. since steve bannon has been basically cut adrift. the stormy daniels thing -- >> you seem to have a theory. >> there is a period of interest but there are 11,000 llcs established on the day that the one that paid off stormy daniels. somebody tipped those reporters off. and why they got this tip -- >> that's a good point. you can't go exhort through the paperwork. >> you need to be looking for something. >> great point. >> someone told them. and someone told them about something that happened a month before the election where there was already plenty of evidence of this relationship from an interview from years before. >> right. >> so there is something that's still out there that is associated with that payment that someone, it was in someone's interest to have the press report on.
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that's the only thing we know for sure. these things that are cropping up now are interesting, and the reactions to them are also interesting. >> going back to your point, sam, you know, i don't necessarily think the pace is quickening. nixon was under investigation for two years minimum. we still have some likes. mueller is maybe switching it up. this is a chaotic presidency. maybe he will interview the president. maybe it isn't the last stop. maybe he's reversing the strategy. i think we also have to remember there are so many republicans who aren't running for reelection because they have passed this tax bill and everyone says they are retiring. they are cashing out. a lot of republicans are like listen, this is a smash and grab. this man, who knows what he's going to do. he's off the rails. god willing we still have a country in 2020. let's just take what we can get. the tax bill couldn't have been more clear to the american public they are in it to win it for themselves, not even the party. i think they see this blue wave
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coming, they don't really know how it's going to shake out. the democrats need to get together in a much more structured way but republicans are in it for the money. listen, we'll say anything. sure, he's with prostitutes. he's a christian. we love him. they don't really care anymore. their values are gone. >> i should say it was not a sex worker he was -- >> a porn star. >> my apologies to stormy. >> thank you both. that is "all in" for this evening. don't forget to like us on facebook. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. good evening. that's a hell of a story. >> i had a really nice show planned. >> exactly. i bet you did. i watch your show. it's always nicely planned. >> thank you very much. tonight's show, the one that was planned before 20 minutes ago is going to be performed for susan in my p.j.s at 3:00 in the morning when i get home and she'll be the only one that sees

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