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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  April 28, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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washingtons in the united states tonight. washington, d.c., the white house correspondents association dinner is taking place. washington township, michigan, president trump addressing supporters at an indoor soccer stadium, competing narratives, competing events here on this saturday evening. my colleague savannah sellers is in washington, d.c. at the washington hilton on the red carpet as guests come through. i'm going to turn to you. you were talking with the governor of ohio, john kasich, just a moment ago. celebrities, journalists, politicians as well. what did governor kasich have to say about the event tonight and politics more generally? >> so about the event tonight i asked, what do you think about president trump not being here? and he said, all i can really say about it is it was way quicker to get here without a sitting president. the traffic's not as bad as it has been in past years so he liked that part. he did say about politics in general, he believes that we are currently now living in a post-truth environment. for him that's why tonight is so important, given that that's what the press is trying to do is bring the truth, as you know.
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yes, we've seen quite a few other celebrities, politicians here, as we were showing you earlier, we talked to sarah huckabee sanders, talked with former press secretary sean spicer. that was really interesting, talking with sean spicer. he slipped to me, we know he has a book coming out, he slip that the a talk show might be in the works. sean spicer might be working on a talk show. he says, maybe, maybe, we'll see what happens. we might have that sound for you later. that was one of the more interesting things that's happened tonight. kellyanne conway said she does believe that the president is doing the right thing by being in michigan right now and they're sort of spreading out their messageage by being in two places at once. michael avenotti, lawyer for stormy daniels, i asked how many invitations stormy daniels had got, he told me 10 or 11 invitations but she's not here this evening. we talked about what he's going to expect tonight. >> i know that -- sorry. >> your client stormy daniels was invited to be here?
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>> she was, i think received 10 or 11 invitations. >> why isn't she here? >> dropping her into this environment, with this many members of the press, probably wasn't a very good idea. she also had a previous commitment that she wanted to fulfill. >> what's tonight going to be like for you what are you expecting? >> i think it's an exciting night. we're here to celebrate the press, first amendment. i think that that's a very important concept, especially right now with everything that's going on. you know, unfortunately i guess the president's not going to be here. you know, from my perspective, the only good excuse he might have is maybe he's getting ready for his next "fox and friends" appearance. i certainly hope so. >> what is your opinion on the president not being in the room to sort of take the joke, interface with the press? >> i think it's disrespectful. i think, you know, this is a president that claims he's such a tough guy. why isn't he here? you've got to be able to laugh at yourself, right? where's he hiding, what's he hiding from? i don't get it. the first amendment, freedom of the press, is a foundation principle that our nation was
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founded on and it's important to show up, show your respect for the constitution, and for the job that the press does. you know, lewis brandeis, justice brandeis said sunlight is the very best disinfectant. i consider the press the keepers of the sunlight. it's important to be here. >> do you feel -- the comedian of the night often takes from current events as fodder for the night. do you expect what you're going with your client, stormy daniels, one of the largest scandals surrounding the president currently, do you expect to see or hear anything about that tonight? >> i don't know one way or the other but i'm sure it's going to be funny either way. if we're the butt of jokes, we're here to laugh at ourselves and have a good time. >> that's the spirit. >> we're not hiding anywhere. >> as you see there, he's calling the president not here being hiding. we're running the gamut on responses about president trump being here or not being here. from current administration and people who have left the administration. gary cohn, sean spicer, both
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told me they didn't think it was wrong he wasn't here, that he's off doing what he's decided to do. sean spicer said he feels this event has never been fair to republicans. michael avenotti and many others, some hollywood people, telling me they believe president trump should be here and that, like he said, it's disrespectful that he's not. so we did talk a little bit about if we're going to hear a stormy daniels joke in there with michelle wolf as the comedian. as you know, david, that's sort of anything that's sort of the current events becomes fodder for the night for jokes. we are in a very different place than a year ago right now with the russia investigation and the stormy daniels scandal. so we'll be sort of looking to see if we're going to hear any of that come from michelle wolf, the comedian tonight. >> savannah sellers in washington, d.c. at the washington hilton along the red carpet as guests make their way into the ballroom. we'll check in throughout the night. my panel in washington, d.c., jay newton small from "time" magazine, alex see its wall, nbc news plit tall reporter. former deputy chief of staff.
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jane, let me have react to something we heard from sean spicer. we've got ex-administration people there tonight. i love that he said the party's not the be-all, end-all. what do you make from what we've seen, official or previous members of the administration we've seen show up at the dinner tonight? >> i have to admit i've been to about 13 of these dinners. >> that's a record for tonight, i think. you hold the record. we bow to you. >> oh, gosh. i started going to these dinners in 2003. that's a really long time ago. i remember when c-span first started running the red carpet arrivals on c-span live. it was considered such a baffling thing in washington. a lot of correspondents sort of said -- there was a cartoon that was sort of joking about how it's nerd prom, because you're going to ask women what they're wearing and it's going to be like, ann taylor loft. so that tells you how much this party has changed in the last 15
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years. it's now this -- become this huge celebrity sighting thing. that began really the end of the bush administration and really accelerated under the obama administration. so the party is very different. i don't know if i agree with sean to say it's tougher on republicans than on democrats. i went to almost all of the white house correspondents dinners under george w. bush and certainly a lot of the administration used to gripe about how it was very -- particularly stephen colbert's speech was particularly not cool, things like that. he never stopped coming. and they still really always emphasize the importance of freedom of the press and all really enjoyed themselves in those dinners. it is striking, i think, to see how the dinner's shrunken back, it feels a lot like it did -- the way in it did in 2003. it's a lot more nerd, a lot less prom. and you have sort of officials going, you have some cabinet
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members, former retired members, politicians, retired members of the media. but not the sort of glam celebrities that you have seen the last decade. >> nina totenberg, the npr supreme court correspondent, being asked, what are you wearing? she said, something that can take a lot of wear and tear. alex sites walled, we heard from the president there talking about the press. talking about sources. sources that don't exist. so it's one thing to have counter programming. to have the speech going on while there is focus on the first amendment and the press in washington, d.c. he's really in part taking up the mantle of criticizing in stark terms the press, particularly the white house press corps. >> right. well, as they say in talk radio, you've got to play the hits. for donald trump, hitting the press is absolutely the hits. think back to the 2016 campaign, he would point to the back of the room and get everybody to turn around and boo at supporters in the back. he would accuse the cameras of not showing how beautiful and wonderful at large his crowd sizes were.
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so this is him speaking to his base. especially at an important time where he's trying to essentially tell them to not believe the factual information that they are getting from the mainstream media, to believe only him and what's coming out of his mouth and his administration on the russia investigation, on a whole host of issues. but, you know, the fact that these white house officials are going to this dinner gives a little bit of lie to the idea that it's this thing that he wants nothing to be associated with and that the press is totally out to get them why are they showing up and wearing a tux and coming? it's also a little rich from a guy who used to call up reporters pretend is he was john barron, an invented pr flack, pitch them stories, to say that they're making up sources. >> jane newton small, alex see itswald, let's go back to washington township, michigan, the soccer stadium where president trump is speaking. my colleague blake mccoy is there. are as i mentioned just a moment
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ago we did hear from the president on the russia investigation. he called it junk. what more did he have to say about that? the investigation that's ongoing into russia's involvement in the 2016 election? >> in his mind, the fact that the house closed their report on friday, in his words, found no collusion, he feels like it's over. this whole thing is overblown and he's ready to move past it. speaking about james comey specifically, he said he's a liar and a leaker. that got the crowd revved up here. >> they love the john lovetts allows from the late '90s. senator john tester, the democrat of montana, early early before this event, the president was in washington, d.c., he played some golf at trump national golf course, tweeted a bit about senator john tester who released that two-page document about the president's former nominee to head the veterans administration. admiral ronnie jackson. the president did bring up the admiral tonight. what did he have to say? >> yeah, he feels like john
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tester sabotaged his v.a. secretary nominee. and he is not pulling punches. it's interesting because he made a threat to senator tester here. he said, i know things about tester too, and if i said them, he'd never get elected again. he failed to elaborate what those things that he knows are, though. >> in washington township, michigan, we'll come back to you as we continue to do monitor the speech the president of the united states is giving. the admiral, the way this unfolded, the way the president continues to defend his pick to head the veterans administration even after it crashed and burned pretty considerably. >> david, this is a story that should be over by now. for some reason it's odd to me the president continues to hang on to these types of things. i think in part he relates to it, right? from his perspective, he sees these individuals as being attacked from the media. in his mind, he rationalizes it as, well, this is what i go through every single day, so i
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must come to their aid, to their defense. but look, david, i think what we're seeing here truly is the embodiment of mendacity with this president, right? where facts don't matter. where telling the truth doesn't matter. so despite the allegations against this individual, the president continues to defend him. david, whose fault is it that they did not vet this guy properly? the individuals the president chose to work within his white house. so again, that points to his inability to lead effectively. a good leader would have made sure that any individual that he nominates can pass the test, if you will, can go through senate confirmation hearing without doing or saying anything that would be embarrassing to the administration. we haven't seen that with this president. i think that's an expectation that we have had and maintain with previous administrations. for some reason under this president, republicans by and large have said nothing. why continue to go through this as a party when it's hurting the brand of the gop?
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david, at some point republicans are going to have to say, enough is enough of this. come november, we'll likely lose the house. maybe they'll have enough surge there. >> alex see itswald, this vetting process, i referred to the document john tester prepared, these allegations against rear admiral ronnie jackson, personal foibles and professional foibles. as said, lost in all that was the fact that this gentleman on paper, when you look at his resume, his cv, was not qualified to run an organization as large as the v.a. these scandals obfuscated that, didn't they? >> right, david. great point. this was before we even knew about all these salacious scandals. a man who had governed i think as a seven to 15-member of as a matter of fact white house medical unit. the v.a. is the second-largest bureaucracy in the government after department of defense. orders of magnitude different from his levels of experience. but trump had a close, personal relationship with him. he liked the cut of his jib.
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so he appointed him to this position, apparently without any kind of real vetting. it's blown up in his face and he's blaming other people for that problem. >> what we're seeing there on the bottom right-hand side of your screen, inside the ballroom there at the washington hilton, is the dais, president of the white house correspondents association, long-time white house reporter for bloomberg news waving to the audience, sarah huckabee sanders waving to the audience, john nickelthat wait on the 98 was as well as we await the beginning of the white house correspondents association dinner. michelle wolf, the comedian, she'll be speaking. she'll be telling some jokes here as the night goes on. jane, i saw a line in a piece on "the daily beast" by senator john cornyn of texas that stood out. there was some reporting that the president might be considering naming john kelly, his current chief of staff, former secretary of the department of homeland security, to be the next secretary of the veterans administration. gabe sherman of "vanity fair" reporting that among others, i
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believe. john cornyn said, "let's hope that doesn't happen, then you're going to have two vacancies to fill." what do we know about who might be nominated for this position next as we watch the president of the white house correspondents association addressing those gathered in the ballroom in washington, d.c.? >> david, we know that members of the senate, republicans in the senate, basically have said to the president, you should really pick from people who have already been confirmed. that's why john kelly is probably looking pretty appealing right now because he's already been confirmed as secretary of hhs, or sorry, homeland security. so that makes it easier for the confirmation process, ars reserve easier for the senate, because as we get closer and closer to the election, it becomes harder to confirm nominees, particularly cabinet-level nominees, and it sucks up an enormous time out of the legislative calendar. it also kills two birds with one stone. john kelly, by all accounts, is not the most popular person with the president right now.
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he's really losing a lot of the power that he once had to rein the president in. and so he's chafing a little bit at the restraints john kelly has been putting on him as chief of staff. moving hip to v.a. sort of solves that problem of he's qualified to run the v.a. and it gets him out of his hair. >> jane newton small, shoe michael singleton, alex see itswald, as we watch the beginning of the white house correspondents association dinner. there's pomp and circumstance as the appetizers and salads are served. we get to the entree and the comedy bit by michelle wolf. the point of this evening as we've heard time and time again from my colleague savannah sellers, from hallie jackson, chief white house correspondent, is scholarships. this is an organization of reporters in the white house press corps who have come together, throw this din tore raise money to offer scholarships to young journalists who are going to college and grad school. those journalists came to washington, they're there for the event tonight, they met with president trump and vice president pence yesterday in washington, d.c. again, the beginnings here of
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tonight's white house correspondents association dinner. alex sites walled, let me return to you and ask you about the president's messaging in light what was we heard from kellyanne conway, about his tendency or desire to talk to folks directly, how much damage does he do by having -- i said elliptical, wide-ranging speeches, touching on everybody from the fbi to immigration to james comey's firing, to trade policy, to north korea, to that recent summit between north and south korea? >> i would hate to be the teleprompter operator for the president of the united states. it has to be a very difficult job, assuming he is even following the teleprompters set up on stage there. you know, it's hard to tell. because when he gives these speeches, they put out some purpose of this. this is supposed to be about the economy and trade. almost immediately that goes out the window. because he majors a thousand headlines on 200 or a thousand different topics, steps over endorsements he's supposed to be giving to people, he buries his
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own message, he sometimes creates problems for himself down the line. this is how he's always operated, this is how he's campaigned, this is how he's governed. he seems to like to live in this chaos and create more of it. on stage, feeding from the audience, they're cheering, he can't seem to help himself and only goes further into it. >> alex see itswald, alongside jane newton small, contributor to "time" magazine, shoe michael singleton, the president of the white house correspondents association offering a toast to the first amendment. as that dinner, the white house correspondents association dinner, gets under way in washington, d.c. 500 miles away in michigan, washington township, michigan, president trump speaking to his supporters. we're continuing to monitor what he's had to say about any number of issues as our coverage continues here on msnbc. mine's way better.
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continuing our coverage of two big events, a speech president trump is delivering in washington township, michigan, and this, the white house correspondents association dinner taking place in washington, d.c. the other washington. inside the ballroom at the washington hilton. members of the press, celebrities, journalists, partaking -- politicians, rather, partaking in dinner at this point. the meal is under way after a toast from the president of that association to the first amendment. president trump talking about taking back the house, taking back the senate, talking about keeping the house, keeping the senate, talking about electoral politics in washington township, michigan. he talked about the russia investigation moments ago. let's take a listen to what he had to say. >> i want to thank, by the way, the house intelligence committee. okay?
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they do it with us too. russian collusion. you know, i guarantee you, i'm tougher on russia, nobody ever thought -- in fact, have you heard about the lawyer? for a year a woman lawyer, she was like, oh, i know nothing, know nothing. now all of a sudden she supposedly is involved with government. you know why? if she did that, because putin and the group said, you know, this trump is killing us. why don't you say that you're involved with government so that we can go and make their life in the united states even more chaotic. look at what's happened. look at how these politicians have fallen for this junk. russian collusion, give me a break. i'll tell you, the only collusion is the democrats colluded with the russians, and
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the democrats colluded with lots of other people. take a look at the intelligence agencies. >> a lot to unpack there. let's do that now with attorney katie fe in. g, criminal defense attorney, danny savalo. president trump referencing natalia veselnitskaya, this lawyer present for an infamous meeting at trump tower during the presidential campaign, she sat down for an exclusive interview with my colleague, nbc's richard engel, she revealed she had ties to the kremlin, something she denied in a statement to the senate intelligence committeeing, senate judiciary committee. tell me about import about this, that about-face. we'll talk about what the president had to say, first talk about this point of the president's speech. >> if there is a connection between the russian lawyer and the russian government, then that gets closer to a direct link between the trump campaign
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and the russian government. not just a happenstance possible meeting to discuss some russian law that has to do with child adoptions. no, that would tend to show that there's a direct nexus between the trump campaign, that meeting, and the russian government. that could implicate several different laws. and that could be the connection that the mueller team is looking for. trump's position, as he just stated, is that there's -- the more evidence of collusion that there is, is more evidence that russia is conjuring up evidence of collusion. at least that's basically what he just said at the rally in michigan. so trump has an answer for this new evidence. but you can guarantee the mueller team is going to take that apart to demonstrate whether there was, in fact, some kind of collusion, or since that has no legal effect, really, conspiracy or any of a number of other laws that could have been violated between the campaign,
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that meeting, and russia. >> katie feng, i want you to respond to that narrative we heard from the president about what might have happened there, suggesting as i heard it, at least that this woman might have been a russian plant. that's worth investigating. he talked about the only collusion there being between the democrats and the russians. what do you make of what the president's had to say about the russia investigation here in the first part of the speech he's delivering in washington township, michigan? >> well, david, how convenient that he's made up this fiction that only implicates the democrats. natalia veselnitskaya clearly stated "i am a lawyer and i am an informant." since 2013 direct ties to one of the highest people in the kremlin in terms of intelligence. it's basically their primary justice minister over in the kremlin. and the fact of the matter is, she's now claiming that her personal e-mails were hack the. she confirmed to richard engel that those were her personal e-mails. and those e-mails directly link that 2016 trump tower meeting where donald trump jr., paul
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manafort, and jared kushner, were present. and the fact that donald trump wants to now say that this fits very cleanly into some gift wrapped box that is him being tough on russia? it strains credulity, it doesn't -- it's not credible, it's definitely not a credible point to be making. i think whoever gave him his talking points for his speech tonight was very off base. >> danny savalas, let me turn to the president giving his thanks to the house intelligence committee, during the coursing those thanks to the republicans, the republican majority on that committee. those republicans released a report yesterday absolving the president, saying that there was no collusion. let's pour a little cold water on this. what does this really mean? other investigations continue. and you look at the house intelligence committee, it was bifurcated, republicans on one side, democrats on another. never the twain shall meet, they weren't even talking to each other at the end. >> you can't say that's going to be an investigation that has the same degree of trustworthiness that the mueller team's
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investigation is going to have. simply because this is an independent entity conducting an investigation with the vast resources of the department of justice. compare that to a congressional investigation in which appearance and giving testimony is a little more negotiable. it just doesn't carry with it the same validity as the mueller investigation. that will tell us ultimately if there is some there there. a political, politicized process between congressional bodies just isn't going to be the same. >> katie feng, you had the president railing against the system, talking about the justice department, what the justice department should be doing or isn't doing, clearly in my ears sending a message to attorney general jeff sessions about his dissatisfaction about what's happening in the justice department. he talked about james comey, the now-former head of the fbi, out with the book, doing interviews. talked about andrew mccabe as
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well. you've represented clients. i imagine this is perilous territory, to have somebody out there criticizing facets of this institution, parts of an ongoing investigation. >> so you're really flirting with this concept of obstruction of justice all the time if you're donald trump. it's the idea that you now have james comey, his memos have corroborated with his contemporaneous note-taking he was doing that there was this urgency for an oath of loyalty coming from comey to trump, and there was some urgency from trump to lay off michael flynn, who's a good guy. you also have the fact that even though he says it's a quote stupid question when trump was asked whether or not he was going to fire mueller, fire rod rosenstein, the reality is the more pressure you're putting on the doj, the more pressure you're putting on jeff sessions, the more obvious it is that you're trying to hide something. so it's the methink thou doth protest too much. every time trump opens his mouth
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he doesn't say anything encouraging. indictments keep getting churned out by the mueller team and it's inching closer and closer, especially with meek ankle cohen, having been under investigation by the southern district of new york and the fact that he's already indicated he's going to invoke his fifth amendment self-indiscrimination right or privilege in another lawsuit. remember, michael cohen is under investigation in the mueller investigation as well. in terms of his relationship with the trump organization. so all things are honing in on donald trump. so of course he's going to scream bloody murder about the fact that this is some huge witch hunt that's being conducted by his own department of justice. it doesn't -- again, it strains believability for him to take that position. >> i want to talk about that lucky to have with me katie fang and danny savalas, savannah sellers in washington, d.c. tonight at the white house correspond ants association dinner caught up with michael avenotti, another figure in this legal universe, listen to what he had to say. >> was your client, stormy daniels, invited to be here
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tonight? >> she was. she received i think 10 or 11 invitations. >> why isn't she here? >> because, i mean, dropping her into this environment with this many members of the press probably wasn't a very good idea. she also had a previous commitment that she wanted to full file. >> danny, we're talking about the president, speaking out, talking about any number of issues. what do you make of the attorney's decision to keep his client, to keep stormy daniels away from this celebrity-filled event in washington, d.c. tonight? >> smart move by the attorney for stormy daniels. i was at one of these events last night. and when avenotti alone came in, it's a scrum. everybody wants to talk to him. so you can imagine the same thing would happen to stormy daniels. and she would just be besieged with questions. and the smart, prudent thing for a client to do in litigation of this level of importance is to not make a lot of public appearances, not answer a lot of questions. because, as we're seeing on the
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other side, everything that you say in front of a camera or on a recording can ultimately be used against you by the other side. so smart move telling stormy daniels to have another engagement to attend to. >> katie fang, let me turn to y you. in that conversation with michael avenotti, he deliberately expressed hope the president might do another interview with "fox and friends." he phoned in this week for about 30 minutes and said something rather pivotal, at least in the estimation of michael avenotti, about michael cohen's relationship to stephanie clifford, to stormy daniels, about his knowledge of the deal taking place. how pivotal a moment is that? you have that district court judge in california issuing this 90-day stay in the case pending what happens with michael cohen in new york. how pivotal was that moment as you see it when president trump talked in some detail, backtracked about what he'd said on air force one about michael coh cohen's relationship to the deal, about his relationship to michael cohen? >> i watched it in realtime, i
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had to pick up my jaw off the floor, i couldn't believe he was in an unfettered fashion -- i take it back, i do believe it, that's how trump rolls. i couldn't believe he kept on going. they had to shut him off, the anchors at "fox and friends," had to shut him off. april 5th, air force one, he denied any knowledge about $130 payment to stormy daniels. "ask my lawyer, michael cohen." thursday he says, not only did michael cohen represent him in that crazy stormy daniels deal, he knew about the payout. and more specifically, he says during a call-in to "fox and friends," hey, it wasn't campaign finance payments. i mean, the guy actually knows where the money came from. the problem with that 90-day stay in california is we don't get trump in a deposition. michael avenotti does not get trump in a deposition setting. but it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. just because michael cohen is invoking his fifth amendment right and it's staying the litigation doesn't mean that after that 90-day stay, if it's ceased at that point in time, that trump may not have to sit for a deposition.
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if so, i'm bringing the popcorn. if it's going to be between michael avenotti and donald trump. >> katie fang, great to speak with you, danny savalas, msnbc analysts. covering two events taking place in tandem, president trump speaking in washington township, michigan, before an audience of his supporters, in washington, d.c. the white house correspondents association dinner taking place. after the break, an adviser to president trump. just one free hearing test at
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the event itself. washington township, michigan, president trump fulminating, 30 minutes behind schedule, he was supposed to have left this venue, this indoor soccer stadium in washington township 30 minutes ago. he continues to speak on any number of issues. he's been talking for 75 minutes in length so far. we've been monitoring that. he's talked about the russia investigati investigation, talked about james comey, talked about immigration, trade policy, foreign policy. the next congressional elections. just a moment ago talking about the 2016 elections. and exit polls. we are going to continue to monitor what the president has to say as we go back to washington, d.c. my colleague, savannah sellers, has been along the red carpet in the washington hilton talking to folks coming in, going into that ballroom, she caught up with kellyanne conway, councilor to the president. let's hear a bit of their exchange. >> i'm here with kellyanne conway, how are you? >> i'm great, thank you. >> hi, how are you? >> good, thank you so much. do you feel the president should have been in the room to sort of take the joke?
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>> oh, the president's got a great sense of humor but he's in michigan to tout the economic success that he has helped fost foster. the unemployment rate is down and you have over 5 million americans now received bonuses or raises or both due to the tax cuts and jobs act. and this president also with the regulatory reform, the historic talks between north korea, south korea, even as recently as today's news. we have been talking about putting an end to decades long of war between the two countries. coming together. he wanted to go to michigan to talk about trade, to talk about reciprocal and fair trade. to talk about what he's done for the workers. michigan was the very last place that candidate trump visited, grand rapids, michigan, after midnight. so technically election day, 2016. it will always be sentimental and special to him and his team. >> it is great he's able to do that, just like last year, pennsylvania. what about being able to sort of have this interface with the press and be able to have the american public be able to see
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that? >> the american public sees the president constantly. and the american press had him -- many had him to themselves many times this the week. we had two bilaterals. president macron in france, angela merkel, chancellor of germany, yesterday. the president allows the press to talk to him on the south lane. he was on a competitive network for almost a half hour on thursday morning. your network was framing together, clipping together those statements and putting them out as well. i think this is one of the most transparent, accessible presidents in definitely modern history. >> i love you referencing our network. what are you expecting to see tonight? >> we're expecting to have fun, first of all. be with a lot of good friends. >> because we are fun. >> we are fun. kellyanne's fun, that's why we're here with kellyanne, have fun, see old friends. it's great to be back in washington. >> so what is great about this is it is a little bit more fun. often when you're on certain shows you're going head to head with the press a lot of the time. >> but i am having fun. they may not know it.
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>> in this room does the vibe really loosen up? does it feel much different for you in there? >> yes, but i wake up every day and choose to be happy, so i'm probably not a good person to ask. i really don't read 99% of the negative because it's so unthoughtful. we just have -- i'm so blessed to walk into that white house every day and have a job to do on behalf of the country i love. i was raised by a single mom. taught to believe in yourself, taught you can do anything you want, and i'm grateful for that. i'm grateful to this president and vice president for showing such great leadership domestically and around the globe. i'm probably not a good person to ask because i don't like to walk around being negative. i'm part of that happy out of the 15% of america. as are the cohens. >> all right, cohens -- >> all right, we're good. >> do you have a different attitude now that you've left the administration? >> different attitude about what? >> about the fact that the president's -- about this event, the fact that the president's not here tonight? >> look, i think the president has made a choice every year
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where he should be. he's out with his voters tonight, out with the constituencies. talking about his agenda, talking about his platform. it's great for the president. he's where he wants to be tonight. >> i have a feeling that he's going to be the most popular person talked about, and i feel his presence already. >> do you feel that currently -- i was just speaking with michael avenotti, the lawyer for stormy daniels, who says that he feels as though the president is hiding, and yet he is here and willing to talk about what is happening with his client. how do you feel those types of things are going to seep into the comedy tonight? >> we'll see. >> what do you think about him saying he's hiding? >> i'll answer your main question about the president hiding this way. every single person here, if they hear click click, they're going to look at the twitter feed and say, oh, the president said x. he's hardly hiding, he communicates directly with the press and the american people every single day in several different ways. it's called the democratization of information where i think sadly for some, he utah cuts out
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the middleman, but it allows him to express himself directly and instantly with all of america, without the filter. >> without the filter part ever make you nervous? >> me, no. >> nothing makes kellyanne nervous. >> have a great night. >> savannah sellers, my colleague, with gary cohn, the former economic adviser to the president of the united states, his wife lisa to his right, then we had kellyanne conway, councilor to the president, as well, fielding a number of questions. the president's speech in washington township, michigan, has wrapped up. he's still on stage. my producers tell me it went for one hour and 19 minutes. a wide-ranging speech. i've got a couple -- three great panelists in washington, d.c. i want to talk to. jane newton small, contributory "time" magazine. alex seitz walled, reporter at nbc news. shumichael, start with what kellyanne conway said at the top, this was going to be a speech in which the president touted the economic gains that americans have seen since he became president.
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you were lending an ear to the speech as i was. there were a few moments in which he did talk about that. as he often does, he veered from that script. what did you hear from him about the economy in particular, how much did he talk about that tonight? >> i mean, he didn't talk about it enough, david. because again, the president isn't disciplined. even when he's speaking extemporaneously, you should go point by point, make your case, drive it home. the president doesn't do that, he makes a point briefly, then he's all over the place, talking about something that's completely irrelevant to what he initially mentioned prior to. look, is the economy doing well? of course it is. but keep in mind republicans, my party, the party of fiscal responsibility, passed a trillion -- over a trillion-dollar tax bill that the cbo said is going to hurt americans in the long run. it's going to add to the deficit. you would have hoped that we would have learned our lesson under george w. bush, right? but we have not, we continue to spend. there's nothing fiscally responsible for that. guess who's going to have to pick up that bill? the taxpayers, the very same
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people the president argues he's helping. no, you're not helping regular people. you're not helping everyday people. you're not helping that blue collar individual who may have lost their job because of a change in economy. in the long run, you're hurting those individuals. if you're going to pass taxes that benefit the american people, allow them to take more money home instead of giving tax breaks to extremely rich people. i'm saying this as a republican. again, the idea is that we're look out for the common man. the everyday person. that quote-unquote forgotten man. no you're not looking out for the forgotten man when you're placating extremely rich people. >> president trump in the advertisement for the event tonight saying he wanted to spend time with his fellow deplorables. alex seitz-wald, kellyanne conway talking about the historic talks that took place this week between north and south korea, the president maintaining, talking about in this in his speech, he plans to meet with the leader of north korea, kim jong-un, in the coming weeks as he put it. we got a readout from the white house he had a phone conversation, president trump
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had a phone conversation with shinzo abe, prime minister of japan. fold that into this as well. the achievement that we saw this week, the president's optimism that this meeting between him and the north korean leader is going to take place. your sense of the preparation that's gone into that, what we can expect from that summit here in the next few weeks, if indeed it happens. >> david, it definitely is historic. and i think credit where due, this is something that a lot of presidents have attempted to do. we don't know where it's going, but dams have been broken that have not been broken in the past in this 50, 60-year-old conflict. republicans are already talking about nominating donald trump for the nobel peace prize. but it's incredible, in any other administration, this would be their single, sole focus, they would be trying to milk this for as much positive attention as they could. days, weeks of coverage out of this. instead, it's almost a footnote in this hour and 19-minute speech that he gave. he's on russia, he's on comey, he's on stormy daniels. and it's another example of trump kind of shooting himself
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in the foot without really meaning too sometimes. >> we can talk about trade a little bit as well, jane newton small small. you watched that press conference that president trump gave with prime minister shinzo abe, the press conference that took place at mar-a-lago, trade was something those leaders left unresolved. sbs abe, proponent of the transpacific partnership, the president maintaining the bilateral approach is the way to go, nothing settled yet in trade, something the president talked about, desire for reciprocal trade as he's fond of saying. >> absolutely. this has been something that has been a huge, huge issue for him. this is the reason why he won districts like the one he's in in michigan right now. it's the rust belt where they've seen lots and lots of jobs leave american shores that aren't being replaced. and this is the sort of factory workers who are feeling the pinch of salaries that still haven't increased in almost 15
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years. a lot of people have been moving away. michigan in some cases is used as a zombie movie set. that's because these are jobs that are not going to come back. so these are folks that donald trump really appeals to. and this is a crowd that they love to hear him talk about how he was going to pull out of the tpp, transpacific partnership, and he isn't going to -- he's going to deconstruct nafta. and that's to them, that is music to their ears. and so for him to talk about trade tonight, it's a natural thing for him to talk about. it's one of the most popular things he can say. when i was out on the campaign trail in 2016 with him, that was almost always the biggest applause line of the night. >> jane newton small, alex sooilts walled, shurmichael singlet singleton, he has to run some some after party, great to have you here with us as well, coverage continues in a moment. as we watch the ballroom of the washington hilton, the white house correspondents association dinner under way. our coverage continues through the evening as we await the
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welcome back. the white house correspondents dinner is under way. the washington guests are enjoying their dinner. the lights are going to come on soon and the evening's program will begin in earnest. for the second year in a row, president trump is not in attendance at tonight's dinner.
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here's white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders who is, here's what she had to say about tonight's expectations. >> hopefully everybody tonight will be willing to let their hair down a little bit. relax and have a good time in a little bit more of a social evening and less of a kind of tough back and forth. so i think that we'll see that tonight and we're looking forward to it. >> letting their hair down with us tonight, jacob soberoff, my colleague in ward. alex seitz-wald with nbc news. jane newton small with us as well. jacob soberoff, let me turn to you. a remarkable moment during the counter programming at this rally president trump had in washington township, the audience chanting "nobel, nobel, nobel" for president trump in light of what he's trying to do with north korea. maggie haberman of "the new york times" set to get a big award, maybe they'll be chanting "pulitzer, pulitzer" for her, she the target of the president's ire over these recent weeks. what have you observed as you've been watching the folks crossing the red carpet, making their way into this bat room as we wait for this event to begin in
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earnest? >> my own split-screen viewing, i have to tell you i think the president of the united states actually quoted john lovetts this evening. >> yes. >> amidst talking about 25 other things. it's exactly what you said, counter programming. the president going out, trying to distract as much as he can from an event that is at its core about protecting the first amendment of the united states and about raising money for journalism scholarships. we're going to get a lot into it the next hour about why he's not there and what it means that the president has decided not to show up and what the president -- precedent for that is, quite frankly. it's really an extraordinary thing. and it's going to be a very entertaining evening this evening with michelle wolf up there from "the daily show." >> no doubt. alex seitz-wald, at the beginning of the night, at the beginning of our coverage, we turned to blake mccoy at that rally in michigan. he said in talking to folks who were in attendance, they wanted to hear something positive. something optimistic from the president. that is what drew them to that
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rally. i was struck by how few minutes passed before that speech took a turn. help me understand the psychology of a trump speech in that light. do you have people making that pilgrimage to go there, wanting as folks told blake mccoy to hear something positive, optimistic, something they say the rest of the media isn't talking about. then you see such a sudden and early shift. >> yeah, i don't doubt that those people were looking for something positive. but i've been to a lot of trump rallies and most of the people i've talked to there are looking for something a little more visceral, some bread and circus entertainment. a lot of people turn out to these things not for politics but for entertainment value, like going to a wwe wrestling match or a concert on a saturday night. even the timing of this, on a saturday night, is not typically timing for a big political event. there used to be on the campaign trail there would befyings, literal fistfights that would broke out. if you're looking for something positive, i'm sure there was some uplifting message in there but that was the minority of what he talked about. >> jane newton small in the time we have left, i want to draw on
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your experience as somebody who's been to 13 of these, you said, right now we see them clearing the plates there in the ballroom. there are many facets of this event that are the same year after year after year. i'd imagine the food is even the same. the cheap wine, all of that. but there were a lot of people who criticized this event when president obama was leading the country, that it had become too star studded, glitzy. i'm not going to put jacob soberoff on the spot, coming from los angeles to defend the celebrities with whom he rubs elbows. >> you better back off, yeah. >> give me a sense of the evolution over the many years that we've seen of this event. certainly reached an apex when president obama was in the white house. >> absolutely, david. i remember when i first started attending in 2003. it was really unusual to see a celebrity come to the white house correspondents dinner. we used to remark, there's jennifer love hewitt, what's she doing here, why does she want to be here? it was really not at all a dinner that was about celebrities.
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it wasn't a dinner that was about fame at all. it was about a dinner that was quite serious. very serious in tone. it was about scholarships. it was about the first amendment. it was also a time of war. so we would always talk about the journalists and the soldiers serving abroad who were risking their lives every day to bring us this information. and so it was very much a celebration of that sort of spirit of the fourth estate. and it did -- hasn't changed enormously over the years. there are 3,000 people in that room. for that dinner. it's an enormous dinner. and it feels cavernous when you're in the room. the people who have gone to that dipper over the years has really, really changed. used to be we would bring sources to those dinners, we would bring cabinet members, members of congress. and then that slowly started to shift to being, you know, george clooney, ben affleck, sort of the cast of various different television shows that were politically based, as hollywood got more and more interested in
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washington. and it became known as oscars for ugly people. and so -- i think now you see the room shifting back more towards the roots of it. and it's become a little bit more of a simpler dinner but one that perhaps speaks to the profoundness of the freedom of the press. >> jane newton small of "time" magazine, alex seitz-wald, nbc news. i wish i asked more time, i'd ask jacob soberoff who you're wearing. taking over our coverage here on msnbc in washington, d.c. michelle wolf, the comedian headlining that event in a little bit. one wonders if john live vets who the president referenced in his speech might make an appearance next. .. [ drum roll ] ...emily lapier from ames, iowa. this is emily's third nomination and first win.,! um, first of all, to my fellow nominees, it is an honor sharing the road with you.
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