tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC January 29, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
rosenstein then i think we'll know what we're watching even though it seems clear what we're watching. it's happening in slow motion. thank you both for joining me. that is "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. >> good evening, chris. much appreciated. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. there are two things that are very important about obstruction of justice. one is that obstruction of justice is a crime and even very, very high-ranking government officials can be held accountable for obstruction of justice as a criminal matter. right? famously the first article of impeachment was about obstruction of justice and the first article of impeachment against clinton was obstruction of justice. one thing that's important about obstruction. it's illegal. you can get caught for it and impeached for it and you can get indicted for it while you're serving as president of the united states.
that's one thing that's important about obstruction but there is something else important about obstruction of justice, as well. which is that it might work. high-ranking government officials don't obstruct justice because they misunderstand the law and nobody has ever told them it's a crime. high-ranking government officials risk that criminal liability because isnsometimes s worth it to try. sometimes you want to obstruct justice depending on what you might otherwise be on the hook for if justice proceeds. given how many famous people have been busted so badly for obstruction of justice, nobody would try it unless it sometimes still worked. during the presidential campaign in 2016, the u.s. intelligence community saw something going on with regard to russia and that election of ours and part of what they were noticing was that russia seemed to be taking more than an acute interest in our
election that year. they seemed to be making moves to interfere with, to try to influence that election. but simultaneously they saw something that concerned them that was going on between russia and the trump campaign. >> did evidence exist of collusion, coordination, conspiracy between the trump campaign and russian state actors at the time you learned of 2016 efforts? >> i encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between russian officials and u.s. persons involved in the trump campaign. there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the burro to determine whether or not u.s. persons were actively conspireing, colluding with
russian officials. i was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between russian officials and u.s. persons that raise concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the russians in a witting or inever unwitting f and served the basis to term which collusion, cooperation. >> that served as the basis for the fbi investigation. that's how the fbi investigation came into being. the fbi investigation not just into russian interference but the possibility of the trump campaign being involved in it, cooperating in that effort somehow. that is is how that fbi investigation started, right? u.s. intelligence obtained information, obtained intel about suspicious contacts between the trump campaign and russia. while russia was trying to influence the election to trump's benefit.
fbi john bennen testiro brenhamt that. that's how and why that investigate started. basically why we are going through this as a country. that's the best information and most direct information we got about what the intelligence community saw that freaked them out about the trump campaign. >> i encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between russian officials and u.s. persons involved in the trump campaign that i was concerned about because of known russian efforts to support such individuals and it raised questions in my mind again, whether or not the russians were able to gain the cooperation of those
individuals. >> that's what it boils down to. right? that was the seed, right? that was what grew this tree. all right. given the contacts and interactions between russian officials and u.s. persons involved in the trump campaign, u.s. intelligence was concerned about whether or not the russians were able to gain the cooperation of those people while they were attacking our election. that's it. all right? and that question while russia was attacking our election, did they have help from the campaign they were assisting? that remains the biggest foreign influence national security scandal to ever afflict any american presidency and that central question is still an open question and it remains under investigation. now, though, increasingly and particularly on insane news days like today, that central question is being almost eclipsed by the matter of what happened when the trump campaign became the trump presidency.
did president trump and other trump administration officials move to obstruct justice? what, if anything, have the president and his administration done to try to block that investigation that started with intelligence agencies being worried about what they were seeing between the trump campaign and russia. what have they done to block that investigation, if anything, if they have moved to block that investigation, did they do so by means that are illegal? if they did act illegally to block that investigation, what is the remedy to that? let's looked at everybody, everybody that had a role in that investigation since trump was sworn in, when the president took office the acting attorney general was sally yates.
they went to the white house and warned about the national sec e security advisor, both of those officials that warned the white house are gone. the acting head of the national security division was marry mccord and salary yates is gone. the president fired her. jeff session was confirmed as attorney general. there were intelligence intercepts it turns out that revealed that jeff sessions had conversations with russia that he hadn't disclosed. the president nevertheless forced him to not recuse himself. the president told his white house chief of staff to tell jeff sessions -- told his white house cancel to tell jeff sessions he shouldn't recuse. when sessions recused anyway, "the washington post" reports
the president then sent the chief of staff to go secure jeff sessions' resignation. within the justice department, at the fbi, the fbi's director was fired after he says the president told him to lay off the investigation. he conveyed the content to a number of fbi senior officials at the time so they could corroborate what comey said about how the president pressured him to lay off the russia investigation before he refused and he was fired. comey says he reported the president's behavior, the directors about the russia investigation at the time to the p fbi chief of staff. last week that official was let go. he says he conveyed that information to the fbi general counsel who was vently misst re reassigned to a no-show job around christmas with no
explanation. james comey reported the president's directors to the fbu deputy director who today was forced out of his job, as well. less than a week ago there was dramatic reporting at axios.com crihristopher wray threatened t resign to protect mccabe. today andrew mccabe was pushed out of his job. christopher wray does not seem to have resigned. whatever is going on where christopher wray was inspiring people with him standing up against white house pressure, he was going to resign than see officials pushed out of their job after being publicly -- if you were thinking christopher wray would resign rather than let that happen, andrew mccabe is gone after today. the fbi director christopher wray was seen at the white house
with rod rosenstein. he oversees robert mueller's special investigation since jeff sessions recused himself. the reason i go through that list is just to be -- i mean, to be blunt about it, the president has fired or tried to fire everybody in an oversight role in the russia investigation up to and including the special counsel himself. rod rosenstein is the only one left who he hasn't fired or tried to fire yet. but rod rosenstein we're told today is increasingly a focus of the president's attentions and not in a good way. he really has fired or tried to fire everybody except rosenstein and they have a plan for rosenstein, too. three years ago this week in 2015 justice department, the u.s. attorney's office and southern district of new york made a dramatic announcement. they had arrested a guy who
appeared to be a random bank employee, he was picked up by fbi agents at a shopping center in riverdale new york. nobody knew what he was getting arrested for at the time but it turned out according to the indictment and trial and conviction the random bank employee they arrested in 2015 turned out to be a key figure in an active russian spy ring. this was the headline from the press release. attorney general, manhattan u.s. attorney and fbi announced charges against russian spy ring in new york city. attempted to collect economic intelligence and recruit residents as intelligence sources. attorney general eric holder said these charges demonstrate the firm commitment to combatting attempts by agents to illegally gather intel and recruit spies in the united states. we'll use every tool to identify and hold accountable agentis no
matter how deep their cover. three people were charged in this indictment. the cover for two is they worked for the russian government. one of them worked in the russian mission to the u.n. in new york. one of them worked as a trade representative for the russian government but the third guy in the spy ring, he worked at a russian bank at the branch office in new york city. the two guys running their spy ring here in new york while purportedly having normal russian government jobs escaped back to moscow. the third guy, he's the one that got arrested and put on trial and convicted and served a good chunk of time in federal prison in ohio. they only sent him back to moscow this past spring and one of the spy movie inspector gadget details from that court case is that the fbi fed these russian guys and this russian
spy ring, they fed them documents with bugs in them, listening devices. they are trying to cultivate assets that will give them sensitive or secret or stolen information. this is purr spying stuff. the fbi found what they were doing and trapped them. they arranged to give them documents that seemed awesome like super juicy stuff they would want to feed home but the fbi gave them these documents in binders and the fbi had put little microphones inside the binders. these russian guys from the spy ring, they bought this info they thought they extracted from their american assets. they didn't know it had come from the fbi. they didn't know it had listening devices. they brought the binders into the russian government's facilities in new york so they could convey it home through
secure channels to moscow but even though they were in a secure facility inside the russian government building, the fbi was listening the whole time to everything they were saying because they had bugs in the binders. they were unaware they were being bugged and no idea they were found out. they thought they were in a secure facility so they spoke totally freely about how they were running the spy ring about their strategy. about the american assets they were recruiting. including the fbi described as a male working in new york city. male one met the russian spy defendant in january 2013 in new york city. during this meeting defendant gave him his business card and two e-mail addresses. over the following months, male one and the defendant exchanged e-mails about the energy business and met on occasion in person with male one providing
the defendant with male one's outlook on the current and future of the energy industry. male one provided documents to the defendant about the energy business. so these russian guys, right, two of them working as russian government employees and one of them as a russian bank employee, it's a spy ring. and they got an american asset, they got male one. they got this american energy consultant guy who was happily shoveling them information, giving them documents, communicating with them and meeting with them in person. in the course of the investigation into this russian spy ring operating in new york, the fbi paid a visit to male one, to this american guy who was successfully being recruited by russian spies. and we later found his name. carter page. the same carter page that turned up as one of the five named foreign policy advisors to the donald trump for president
campaign. "the washington post" reported in april that the justice department had obtained a fisa warrant to conduct surveillance on carter paige as early as the summer of 2016 and that was a remarkable thing to learn about a presidential campaign. presidential candidate has announced foreign policy advisor, somebody the justice department has under surveillance on the fact the justice department was able to convince a judge there was reason to believe he was a foreign agent. right? from that initial washington post reporting on them getting a fisa warrant, the application for the order targeting carter paige included a decoloration, for believing he was an agent of the russian government and knowingly engaged in intelligence activities on behalf of moscow. so the justice department laid out that case about carter paige in the summer of 2016 to get a warrant to surveil him.
they were granted initially and apparently renewed every 90 days thereafter. you have to keep bringing it back before a judge. 90 days and 90 days and t90 day and even though this warrant is removed multiple times since applied for and granted by a judge, eventually the person that had to sign off on the next application to renew that warrant was a trump appointee. it was deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. and that is reportedly the basis on which republicans in congress and the trump white house are going to go after deputy attorney general rod rosenstein who oversees the mueller investigation and the one remaining figure overseeing the russia investigation who the president hasn't fired or tried to fire. led by trump transition team member devin nunes voted to release a memo nun yes, ses and
staff wrote. it names rosenstein as a villain for him signing off on one of the many renewals of the warrant against carter paige. the surveillance warrant against carter page that says he was recruited by an actual russian spy ring in new york city. one which ended up with two of the spies fleeing to moscow and one of the spies going to prison and the fbi broke that spy ring apart. the fsbi knew about it for year and had carter paige in their sights for years because he was recruited by russian i intelligen intelligence. this whole thing, our lives, this whole scandal, the biggest national security scandal to afflict anpresidency, it remains a scandal about a russian government to target the u.s. presidential election to
tip it their way. and all of the signs that many people asoesociated appeared to have something to hide about contacts with the russian government and intelligence during the time of that attack. all right. that is what this is all about. that the the reason for the initial investigation. that's why robert mueller ended up getting appointed special counsel. carter paige and his russia ties, they were not a figment of christopher steele's imagination. all right? it is remarkable to think that the republican party and trump white house are going to try to make it a scandal, that carter paige of all people was being surveilled as a potential agent given his background of being rekrur recruited as a russian former age
agent. you should google carter paige or the spy rings where he surfaces but republicans in congress voted to release this memo that they wrote tonight and cnn is reporting that president trump said act rod rosenstein, quote, let's fire him. let get rid of him. "the washington post" is reporting the president thinks this nunes memo, obstruction of justice is a crime. it is a crime for which even presidents can get in a whole lot of trouble and it is fascinating to game out which of the president's actions might be legally actionable if he gets i'm pee impeached or indicted. i get it. but i also get that people try to obstruct justice for a reason. it is to stop an investigation, to stop prodeceedings of justic that could reveal something they don't want revealed and tonight
that initial investigation, the big investigation, the russia investigation is hanging by a thread. the fbi under pressure rolled over and given up all of its senior leadership including most of the sen yo ocior officials t could corroborate testimony about the president's behavior. you would expect, right, in the fbi that once their individual officials were getting called out by name and attacked and impugned by the president, you would think they would say hey, anybody, next person that gets personally attacked by the president gets promoted. are we all in agreement by that? you would expect the fbi to stand up for its independence. inste instead, we seen republican supporters single out individual fbi officials, those with decades of experience. with no blemishes on their record whatsoever. you seen them single out the fbi
officials by name and the fbi has now rolled over and gotten rid of them. one after the other. so the fbi is expelling its top officials as they get attacked by republicans and by the trump white house. that's what is happening at the fbi. mueller investigation still exists but if this stunt but house republican the tonight is designed to give the president an excuse to fire rod rosenstein, well, rod rosenstein oversees the mueller investigation. he has to clear ever step. if the president fires rosenstein, the president will then have his choice who he would like to put in the job instead, anybody he puts there would have the power to curtail or stymie or just stop the mueller investigation on his or her own say so. obstruction of justice is a serious crime but there is a
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>> tonight president nixon is going to deliver the state of the union address and part of it will be on the state of richard nixon, as well. >> mr. nixon's goal is to convince people despite watergate he's in command of his office and can govern this nationfecteffectively. >> mr. speaker, i would like to add a personal note. i repfer to the investigations f the watergate affair. as you know, i have provided to the special prosecutor voluntarily a great deal of material. i believe that i have provided all the material that he feeds to conclude his investigations
and proceed to prosecute the guilty and to clear the innocent. i believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. one year of watergate is enough. [ applause ] >> one year of watergate is enough. proclaimed richard nixon to sustained applause. that was 1974. by august of that year, seven months later, he resigned from office. turns out one year of watergate wasn't nearly enough. tomorrow will be 44 years exactly from that speech and president trump will be giving his first state of the union. tonight on the eve of that speech. democrats in the house fired off a signal flair that the investigation into this president has just crossed.
>> that is the classified information. if it's good for the president fine regardless of the impact on the burro, department or interest of justice. >> we should mention it was disclosed to the minority today for the first time that the majority as evidently opened an investigation of the fbi and investigation of the department of justice. under our committee rules that has to be the product of consultation with the minority but we learned about that for the first time here today. sadly, we can fully expect the president of the united states will not put the national interest over his own personal interest but it is a sad day indeed when that is also true of our own committee because today this committee voted to put the president's personal interest, perhaps their political interest above the national interest in denying themselves the ability to hear from the department and fbi.
and that is a deeply regrettable state of affairs but does show how in my view when you have a deeply flawed person in the oval office thanks flaw can infect the whole government and today tragically it infected our committee. >> joining us now is congressman adam schiff who you saw speaking there. the top democrat on the house intelligence committee. that committee just voted to make public a classified republican memo authored by committee chairman devin nunes and the committee also decided to not release a democratic counter memo on the same subject. thank you for joining us tonight. appreciate it. >> thank you. >> let me ask you to clarify some of what happened tonight. the committee voted a long party lines to not release a memo prepared by you and your democratic colleagues. they agreed on party lines that they would release their own memo, which is based on classified information.
what are we going to see? is there going to be a public release of this? who gets to make decisions in terms of the timing and reda redactions. >> we said okay in the full interest of transparency, let's release that if it has to be released alongside the democratic memo. it doesn't extend that far. they voted that down the party line basis and what's important to realize is the chairman hasn't read underlying mater eloquent -- materials. he can't voucher for the product. we're making this public and moved to let the d.o.j. and fbi review the memo, brief all of us in the classified session so that we can understand the flaws in it and concerns about the
revolution of sources and mets and they voted that down, as well. now what this means is that the spin memo will go out to the public within five days unless the president says otherwise. the president that thinks this is beneficial won't say. it won't necessarily take five days if before that time he says go ahead and public the memo. this is an act which the department of justice proper recalled extraordinary reckless and for people who criticized hillary clinton's handling of her e-mails, this is done quite by design, there is no circumstance or error or mistake here. this is very deliberate and as the department says, extraordinary reckless. >> when the department describes this as extraordinary reckless, they are talking about the process by which the house republicans decided to go ahead and move this forward. as far as i understand, the fbi
hasn't been allowed to review the intelligence. i know you have seen the underlying intelligence here, do you think it will be damming to international security if released? >> i don't know. i would like to find out from the department of justice and fbi if they have that concern that will reveal sources and meme methods. if they voted to release our memo, we intend to have that vetted so they can refada redac. that will be our process if the republicans allow us to see the light of day. they tried to portray this after the hearing as seeing the input by saying we let the director view it briefly yesterday along with an intelligence analyst but that's not the same thing as letting the agency or the fbi
vet it and point out the flaws in it and the director told me he had deep concerns about the memo that he wished the burro could express to the committee before it was made public. i conveyed that to the committee and they voted down any opportunity to hear from the burro and department. >> given the seriousness of what they are doing against the expressed wishes of the fbi and justice department, given the historically nature the fact they are proceeding with the release of the document, to you feel like you understand why they are doing this? is this born of desperation because they are very worried what is going on and need a big desperate decembistraction. is this to start the process of ending the investigation? we're speculating what they may be trying to do here.
what do you think? >> i think it is an effort. a disgraceful effort to district attention from the russia probe and provide some cover to the president if he takes the step of firing people associated with the investigation. it is i think a deeply disgraceful act to poll liticizn such a chance pararent way we crossed the line today. i've been on the committee about a decade. i've never seen anything like it. the chairman went to the white house and presented what he claimed was evidence of wrongdoing by the obama administrati administration. the very information. it was the same charade but involves the publication of
classified information with accuracy or sources, no consideration of what it heigmi mean to other sources that see the congress behave this way and what they share might be confidential. an act by the chairman and the transcript of this is going to be released publicly. it should be leareleased tomorr and you'll see this sheepness of the members who i think are ashamed at what they were required to do by this chairman. >> adam schiff, top democrat, thank you very much for your time tonight, sir. this is a dramatic and busy time. appreciate you. >> thank you. >> the house intelligence committee did just vote to release this republican memo to
publish this class tiefiified information even though they haven't been able to review it assessing the classified information. we don't know when they will put it out but the vote and the hearing today that they held behind closed doors where they decided to do, this we'll get a transcript of what happened at that hearing as soon as tomorrow. we'll know how they decided to do this. all right. much more to come here tonight. it been a very, very busy news day and night. stay with us. i was wondering if an electric toothbrush really cleans better
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. paul manafort was probroke. he spent decades working for some of the least savory auto c cats of the world and allegedly took millions of dollars in off the books payments for the work and business partners with a russian close to putin. later pursued paul manafort in court for 20 million dollars and claimed manafort disappeared with. manafort was kind of in a pinch moving millions of dollars through offshore accounts buying tons of u.s. property and taking up millions of dollars of loans but then ukrainian ruler that manafort was working for was swept from power in a popular
revolt and found himself out of a job. thanks to reporting, we learned paul manafort's situation when he joined the trump campaign as the chairman was way more than we previously understood. money that flowed freely to manafort and which he had spent more freely still soon became a problem. he complained about unpaid bills and at age 66 started scouring the world, hungary, uganda, for fresh clients hustling without luck. his during noted that her father quote, she noted quote cash flow state texting her sister quote he is suddenly extremely cheap. while all this was going on, an fbi investigation was going on and manafort seemed unwilling or unable to access his offshore
accounts to finance his expen expensive life he took out loans, some 15 million dollars. all of the loans would need to be paid back and would still need to settle his giant bill. so in 2016 when paul ma thnafor went to a long-time friend he told that friend quote i really need to get to trump. at that time whatever was motivating him we know that paul manafort was pretty much broke desperate for cash and already under fbi investigation and had a powerful russian after him for millions and millions of dollars. when paul manafort called up the old associates to say he was getting back into politics, they warned him not to do it because they knew his reputation, what he had been involved with, they
knew his past would never survive the spotlight of the presidential campaign but for whatever reason, he really wanted that job so much he offered to do it for free when he was broke and desperate for cash. why is that? franklin fort joins us next. successful people have one thing in common. they read more. how do they find the time? ... with audible. audible has the world's largest selection of audiobooks. for just $14.95 a month... you get a credit good for any audiobook ...
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nobody raised his hand. quote, there wasn't a lot to work with one person contacted by this group told the reporter and nobody could be sure that paul didn't actually do it. in fact, everything about the man and the life he chose suggests that he did do it. joining us now is staff writer at the atlantic. congratulations on this remarkable piece. nice to have you here. >> thank you so much. great to be here. >> when you say everything about paul manafort's track record, history, career suggests that he did do it, that he did do the worst thing of which he's suspected, what in his track record suggests to you that he did? >> so paul manafort was a political consultant and lobbyist in washington. we think of the capital as being the swamp and it's true, it's a corrupt place and over the
course of his career, he kept pushing the limits of what was acceptable behaviobehavior. we started working in the 1980s and 1990s for gothose who wante to improve reputations back h e home. he was a full service manager for them. he would help them work on elections back in their country and lobby to get them amprms in d.c. and over the course of the last ten years in 2005, he ended up migrating to ukraine where he spent all of his time before the revolution swept victory the ukrainian strong man from power in 2014 and when he was in ukraine, he kind of wanted to become on olagark himself. there was a lot in his career
that suggested that he would do whatever it takes. he didn't really have a very -- any sort of moral baseline. there was no threshold he wouldn't cross. >> so you read pretty convinceingly about his career hitting the skids at ukraine. and i didn't understand before reading your reporting how much that hurt paul manafort's financial day-to-day life. given those financial straights that he was in after things went badly for this guy in ukraine, why did he offer to work for the trump campaign for free? how could he offer to do fig for free at that point? >> it's out of character when you look at the rest of his career where he was slapping these massive price tag on his services. so when the trump campaign rolls around i think he had a couple insights, one was he understood that trump is cheap because he lived in trump tower, his firm
lobbied on behalf of trump, he observed this guy upclose over the years so volunteering his services by presenting himself as a guy that wouldn't be a pair site he thought was his best way to get treated as an equal in the campaign. more than that he was making a camable. he understood if he made the short term sacrifice to join up with the trump campaign there were other opportunities down the road for him, other opportunities during the campaign and if trump happened to win, he would be the big shot in donald trump's washington. it was a chance to revive his career. >> and being a big shot in washington trance lating into immediate cash flow solutions is the part that -- well, he's now under indictment. frank lin foer, thank you. stay with us. we'll be right back. stay with us.
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the hallway outside rodney freeling's office. then the next week was 400 people standing outside asking him to hold a town hall meeting. he would not hold a town hall meeting. so this group that showed up every friday, they called themselves new jersey 11th for change. they decided not to give up. they would show up at rodney freeling's office ever friday until whenever. they did it for a year to try to get their congressman to talk to them. they gathered thousands of signatures, they baked him cakes, sent him valentines, they had town halls without him where they brought a cardboard cutout. they kept it up every friday for a whole year. those folks are about to get
their fridayings back. today rodney free ling huysen announced he is not seeking reelection. he just took over chairmanship of the appropriations committee. which is a good gig he could have kept for six years in his previously thought to be safe republican district. but after a full year outside his window he became the 33rd republican member of congress to announce he's not running again this year. democrats need to flip 34 seats, already 33 are not running, including rodney. coming at you with my brand-new vlog. just making some ice in my freezer here. so check back for that follow-up vid. this is my cashew guy bruno. holler at 'em, brun. kicking it live and direct here at the fountain.
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state of the uniom. i thought it was amazing when they couldn't spell norway. union? even the norwegians will be tuning in to our state of the union tomorrow night. our coverage starts at 8:00, i'll be hosting here tomorrow night alongside brian williams and chris matthews. coverage starts at 8:00 we'll be live through midnight. then there's a special midnight live edition of "hardball." there's continued coverage after that starting at 1:00 a.m. that does it for us tonight. we'll see you tomorrow. now it's time for the "last word with lawrence o'donnell." >> good evening, rachel. the trump administration has more spelling mistakes in its first year than i think any other administration's total run of spelling mistakes. >> my favorite one w