tv Kasie DC MSNBC May 7, 2018 1:00am-2:00am PDT
in washington today, the spotlight is squarely on the president's legal troubles. >> the president trying to explain away troubling statements from his new lawyer rudy giuliani. >> when did the president know about that hush money payment to stormy daniels? >> this was a very bad week for the trump team. >> he's exposed president trump to possible prosecution for two crimes. >> as far as i'm concerned, it's a nothing burger. >> giuliani tries to clean up a potential mess he made for his clients. >> the president doesn't age knowledge meeting stormy daniels, correct? >> gee, i'm not involved in the daniels thing so i don't know. in terms of what you mean by met her. >> so the president does deny any sexual relationship with stormy daniels? >> he has. as i said, i'm not involved in
that. right now i'm at the point where i'm learning. >> i want to make sure, george, did that interview just happen? >> when did the president find out michael cohen made this payment? >> that i don't know. >> president trump apparently misled the american people on air force one in april when he denied knowing anything about this payment stormy daniels. >> first of all, that is on an airplane in the middle of an important trip. >> when the president said no on air force one, he was talking about he didn't know when the payment occurred. >> it's a train wreck. >> it is possible a porn star could take down a president if the president is not cautious. >> welcome to "kasie d.c." i'm kasie hunt. we are live from washington every sunday night from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. eastern. tonight we began with the kasie dvr for a change. and the mad cap cycle of rudy junian i's own making. the "the new york times" is reporting president trump knew about that $130,000 hush money
payment to adult film actress stormy daniels months before denying any knowledge of it to reporters aboard air force one in early april. that is according to two people familiar with the arrangement. we should point out that the president's outside legal counsel would not comment on the times story. meanwhile giuliani confirmed on wednesday the president reimbursed his attorney michael cohen for that payment. that was a comment that stunned many of the president's own advisors and led to more than one clarification. that wasn't confusing or anything. and when you separate it all out, it doesn't really become any clearer. >> that money was not campaign money. sorry, i'm giving you a fact now that you don't know. it's not campaign money. >> imagine if that came out on october 15th, 2016.
>> sure. >> in the middle of the last debate with hillary clinton. cohen made it go away. he did his job. >> even if it was for campaign purposes, to save his family, to save embarrassment, it's not a campaign donation. >> as far as i know, an outstanding agreement, michael cohen makes payments like this, he gets paid for them sometimes, whether it's business or personal. >> oh, boy. i want to welcome in my panel, pulitzer winning bureau chief philip rucker. political reporter for "the new york times" ken vogel. michael schmidt. julia ainsley. joining the conversation from birmingham, alabama, former u.s. attorney joyce vance. thank you all for being here this evening to try and sort through exactly what the heck happened over the course of the last week. phil rucker, can you start with an overview of where we are at the white house right now? what does the president think of the job giuliani is doing, is
there solid footing or is there distance between them? >> this has been going on five or six days now. the president did say friday he thought rudy giuliani needed to get his facts straight. felt confident he would. my colleague bob costa talked to rudy giuliani this afternoon after the interviews this morning. he spent the day with the president at the golf course in virginia, the president feels good about it and they're in a comfortable place. it is totally separate from the white house. the white house senior staff have no idea what rude si doing. they're not booking his interviews. they're not strategizing over his talking basis points. this is very much a rogue operation the president's personal attorney is doing. >> ken vogel, the switch that i seem to sense, we had the president on friday saying rudy giuliani needs to get his facts straight. mid week he seemed certain
michael cohen had been reimbursed for this. by sunday he's on abc saying well, sometimes this happens, sometimes kind of. is that an example of him getting his facts straight or confusing the issue? >> not at all. he's doing a really bad job. you talk to all the republican finance campaign attorneys, even those sympathetic to trump. there is a lot of ambiguity. a lot of questions. the one thing everyone agrees rudy giuliani has no idea what campaign finance implications there might be here. the fact he admitted trump reimbursed the payment is significant because it speaks to truthfulness. the degree to which his subsequent explanations about what the purpose was or when trump knew, the significance of those may be a bit overstated. it really doesn't matter what rudy giuliani is saying. it matters what the intent was of these payments when they were made and who knew about them at
the time that they were made. rudy giuliani says he doesn't know about that. he's just speaking out of turn to some extent. there could be additional light shed on this because there were documents seized from michael cohen's hotel and office by the fbi that could answer these questions. but as of right now just a bunch of speculation who knew what when. >> joyce vance, could i get to you weigh in here? is this potentially overstated? what are the real rubber meets the road legal implications of julie kind of changing his story? >> the president can't be held accountable for giuliani's statement in court, so it's not like these statements become evidence that's used against the president at some point. but the problem is the constantly shifting stories and the president's response to them which could at the end of the day help mueller, other prosecutors or congress refine a case against him. >> michael schmidt, could i get you to weigh in on that? if you're bob mueller, what are you taking away from the events of the last week? >> in all the things that came
up, the one thing we didn't talk about is the new explanation he provided for why comey was fired. >> oh, gosh, you're right. >> in the midst of the fox interview, he says, by the way, the reason that comey was fired is because he wouldn't say that trump was not under investigation. that under cuts everything that the white house has said about that. but what it does do is it echos what comey says in the memos. comey laying out. and while i now the stormy daniels thing is more salacious, that may actually cut more to the question of obstruction. >> and it's -- would you say that it's a little bit close tore what trump told lester holt where he said the russia investigation, julia, was involved, this russia thing. >> right. >> so, to michael's point, is rudy giuliani coming closer to that than -- because they obviously reversed and said, no, no, it has nothing do with that. >> giuliani tried to say under
the president's powers he can fire whoever he wants. that wasn't under question. what was under question is intent. he really laid bare those intentions. the interview with lester holt trump said this russia thing had to go away, but it left a lot of ambiguity what exactly it was he had a problem with. it seems like james comey laid out t had to do with trump and russia. it wasn't that he was trying to protect how all of these other people who could be indicted who worked on his campaign. it was really him. he wanted to know that he would be saved by his owen fbi director. obviously that was something comey couldn't promise him. when the president wants giuliani to get his facts straight, i think it would be over that. it would also be over these payments to women. now we see him coming out today creating more damage saying there could be other payments, which i think is just more bread crumbs for all of us to go follow. >> right. we haven't even touched on that, the additional potential payments to other women. i mean, i feel like that opens an entire can of worms that -- how on earth does the president still -- >> absolutely. so rudy giuliani said there
could be other payments to women. he also seemed to discount this $130,000 payment to stormy daniels as, oh, it's not that much money. this is the kind of thing that happens all the time. >> if it had been millions, maybe it would be a big deal. >> to a lot of americans, it's a pretty extraordinary circumstance to payoff this adult film actress. so, giuliani is just talking about a different world that people can't relate to. >> i think we have the sound we were talking about rudy giuliani talking about additional payments. let's take a look. >> did michael cohen make payments to other women for the president? >> i have no knowledge of that, but i would think if it was necessary, yes. there were other things involved that had nothing to do with stormy daniels. >> i'm just going to skip over the part where we have to think about why it would be necessary to payoff additional women. but michael schmidt, what does this mean in the context of this investigation? do we -- we don't seem to know
that there were necessarily any other payments, but that does seem like more for mueller to dig into. >> well, one of the issues that the trump legal team has had and cohen's legal team is understanding what was actually in the documents that were taken from cohen's office. and i think that at least in the week or so after the raid in new york, the lawyers didn't feel like they were getting a fair idea from the clients about what actually is in these things. they were acknowledging that they were more concerned about the new york investigation than they were mueller's investigation because they had no idea what was actually in there. and simply the idea of the years and years of donald trump, you know, deals and such with his personal lawyer, nothing good could come out of it. now they have a better idea of it because the government has given them copies of it to examine. but obviously we don't know yet. >> right. let's talk for a second, too, ken, your colleagues at "the new york times" had a fascinating story, profile almost of michael
cohen and his potential criminal ties, ties to the russian mob, his taxi business that, you know, scaled onto -- into questionable loans for various real estate deals. i mean, this guy, i think there was somebody quoted in the story who came from a mainstream bank, i believe it was pnc who basically said, this is the kind of guy we wouldn't want to touch. and that yet this is the person who is defending donald trump. >> yeah, and it provides a real window into trump's world of
real estate and business. this is a guy who, yes, he's involved in all these sort of disparate ventures, but the one thing that you cannot do is extricate them from trump. he has been in trump's world. and one of the closest people to donald trump on the business side personally on the legal size, for decades, and that is something that poses serious problems for trump, both in terms of questions about his loyalty ongoing and whether he might provide -- he might flip and provide information, and also what they mayeda find about trump's business as they, the prosecutors and the fbi try to sort through cohen's businesses. >> something i think gets left out of the comments about payments to women. $130,000 is nothing to trump. for someone running for office
is serious on its own. the fact other women came up that giuliani knows about, that says something about the relationship between giuliani and trump. giuliani and trump, they had paid these women off and never brought it up to trump's attention, that shows this is a recurring pattern. i mean, that shouldn't be the thing that his lawyer should be putting out there, talking about giuliani, saying this was a common thing. and he might not know about it. so, i think that while the money might seem like not that big of a deal, you would want to know about those allegations, even if they're baseless, especially if you're in politics and you're putting yourself out there in the public sphere. >> yeah, and, joyce vance, rudy giuliani brought this up in the beginning because he wanted to argue this wasn't a violation of campaign finance law, regardless of how it was handled that wasn't the problem. did he get that right in your view? >> he got it wrong and he got it wrong in multiple ways. it was a lot like watching a ping-pong match where he was hitting the ball back and forth. and wildly hit ing it off the table and it would careen around the walls. the latest incarnation we heard was on fox with judge jeannine where he said it wasn't a donation because he was just trying to spare the family from disgrace. but even if it was a donation, it doesn't matter because he paid it back.
and that's just not the law. this is made so close in time to the campaign, there is now a lot of evidence that the payment was made in an effort to influence the outcome of the election. and there's a lot of additional information to come out here. but the bottom line legally is that if it was willful and knowingly made, this payment, in an effort to influence the election, it could well be into criminal territory as opposed to just an administrative campaign finance violation. >> ken vogel, do you agree with that? we've had conversations before on this show where you've sadie essentially if this has to do with the fec forget it, it's not going anywhere. >> if there is a willful and knowing violation that would be in the fec's purview. that would be a federal law enforcement matter to be handled by the d.o.j. and could carry criminal sanctions. i am skeptical where i find the case has been made, i think
exaggerated to the degree where it's slam dunk. was it within proximity of the election and just because rudy giuliani says can you imagine if this came out in the last debate, that proves this payment was made to influence the election. there are pretty strict standards to show that's something -- legal standards that are required to be proven to show something was made -- that a payment was made to influence a federal or any election. >> if i could interject on that, i would agree it's far from a slam dunk. these sort of cases never are. one thing we know is the southern district of new york had probable cause to pursue this allegation of a campaign finance violation when they got the search warrant. so that tells us there was something there that let the judge proceed forward with this. far from a slam dunk, but definitely worth following up on. >> phil, i was going to ask you, right now more broadly as concerns michael cone, the case, how they're making these decisions. are they operating under the assumption that cohen is cooperating with prosecutors? >> they are operating under the
fear he could cooperate with prosecutors. i don't think they've concluded he is cooperating. >> they are concerned that could end up happening ultimately and there is danger for the president in that circumstance. remember, the people -- the other lawyers trying to help advise the president on the russia matter, the advisors in the white house helping him manage the political fallout, don't know the full extent of what was seized in those raids on cohen's office and hotel room and place of living. and they don't know what kind of documents are there. they don't know what other women might have been paid off. they don't know what other financial arrangements there may be records for that the federal investigators now have. there is a lot of unknown and they are operating under a fear things could be very bad. >> very bad very quickly. it is sunday school tonight on "kasie d.c." we will have the parable of the house chaplain later on this hour. plus how the midterms could impact robert mueller. and did gina haas pel consider withdrawal her bid for cia director as recently as this friday?
jeremy bash just spoke with gina haspel herself. "kasie d.c." back after this. tt at all. people said it just made a mess until exxonmobil scientists put it to the test. they thought someday it could become fuel and power our cars wouldn't that be cool? and that's why exxonmobil scientists think it's not small at all. energy lives here.
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is michael cohen still the president's attorney? >> no, of course not. it would be a conflict right now for him to be the president's attorney. >> little bit of news there this morning from rudy giuliani. one of our eagle eye producers as of today twitter's linked in profiles still read personal attorney to president donald j. trump. meanwhile, the president and white house staff have sought to dismiss the special counsel's investigation as a witch hunt while also saying this about agreeing to an interview with robert mueller's team. >> i would love to speak, i would love to. nobody wants to speak more than me. in fact, against my lawyers because most lawyers say never speak with anything. i have to find that we're going to be treated fairly because everybody sees it now and it is a pure witch hunt. right now it's a pure witch hunt. why don't we have republicans
looking also? why aren't we having republican people doing what all these democrats are doing? it is a very unfair thing. if i thought it was fair, i would override my lawyers. >> the question is which lawyer is he talking about? >> are you confident the president will not take the 5th in this case? >> oh, how could i ever be confident of that? when i'm facing a situation with the president and all the other lawyers are, which every lawyer in america thinks he would be a fool to testify, i have a client who wants to testify. please, don't -- he said it yesterday. jay and i said to ourselves, my goodness, you know, i hope we get a chance to tell him the risks that he's taking. so he may testify. and we may actually work things out with bob mueller. >> also this week ty cobb announced his retirement. while the president has time and again accused the special counsel of leaking questions to "the new york times," cobb has publicly struck a more genial tone in hopes the president will do an interview with him.
>> do you think bob mueller leaked the list or his team -- >> absolutely not. i have no doubt that he did not. >> who do you think did it? where would it come from? >> you know, i don't want to speculate on that. i think it's very difficult to see who, if anybody, benefits from the leak of that other than people who have been trying to sabotage the possibility of an interview and/or generate chaos around here. >> joyce vance, it sounds to me like ty cobb is essentially accusing the other members of the legal team trying to convince the president via the
press not to do an interview. >> it sure sounds that way. he comes up with the most plausible reason the list could have been leaked. what we take away from this, it's not actually mueller's questions written down and handed over to the president. it was really more a series of notes taken by trump's own lawyers and, therefore, it couldn't have been leaked by mueller's team even if they had a penchant for leaks, which we know that they don't. what you have to think about, this list leaking and the controversy that's come afterward and rudy giuliani coming onto the president's legal team with this bold pronouncement, he would resolve everything with mueller, he would negotiate an end to the investigation in the next couple of weeks. and now here we are two weeks later and that's just not how it's playing out. this is yet again the legal team constantly shifting their stories with the president about how long it will take this to resolve. >> michael schmidt, this was your story about the questions about the mueller interview.
where does this all stand now? i mean, it does seem as though the president seems to go back and forth on exactly what he wants to do here. >> well, the president thinks he can explain anything to anyone, and he can go in there to mueller and do that. i think that there are deep concerns that the president doesn't even have the ability to concentrate enough to prepare for it. this is an interview where even the slightest mistake can result in a huge problem. if we've seen anything about mueller so far that we know about his prosecution decisions, it's that they have no time for folks that were not forthcoming in their interviews and they will bring them up and charge them with lying to federal authorities. the president puts himself in extremely difficult position, especially the president being someone who is not always great on the facts. and is someone -- >> to put it mildly perhaps. >> does not have a high rate of factualness. so, you now, these are very
complicated things. the questions are getting into very -- what was the president thinking, what were his intentions. i didn't know -- i had a chance to sit with the president twice and he will go in so many different directions so quickly, i don't know if he can be disciplined enough to stay through extensive questioning. >> the president's fear which is being fed both by some of the lawyers on the team who have a more confrontational approach than ty cobb, rudy giuliani we heard, jay sekulow, don mcgahn who have urged him to be more cautious in providing documents, testimony to mueller's team. one of the concerns they and others who are trump allies who have been interviewed by mueller's team have is they are asking questions that are -- they already know the answers to as an effort to sort of trip them up. the so-called perjury trap we hear so much. we just heard michael caputo former campaign advisor to trump, former new york director of the campaign, and then paul manafort brought him in to trump tower during the campaign. he went in to mueller's team and described it as a proctology exam by a large hand doctor and essentially was signaling on tv
they were trying to trip him up by asking questions they already knew the answer to and suggesting trump himself would find himself in similar peril being baited essentially to lie. >> julie ainsley, we were talking before the break about what happens if the president doesn't do the interview? >> right. >> and he has to get subpoenaed. >> right now we're all talking about this over the interview. we know robert mueller has threaten today subpoena him in conversations with his lawyers, subpoena him to go before a grand jury. what it sounds like from what giuliani was sailing today he doesn't know. the president could decide not to comply with the subpoena for a grand jury. that would hut him in uncharted territory. there have been three presidents who have been subpoenaed in history. this goes back to thomas jefferson. he first declined to comply, then he did ultimately give over some documents. nixon, of course, was given a subpoena. he resigned before that ever came to a head. and then bill clinton was subpoenaed and did ultimately testify. if the president decides to run
that all the way up and does not comply with the subpoena, we're looking at the supreme court having to weigh in. it could be a real constitutional crisis, something we've never seen. let's not talk about the politics of what that would look like, what he's trying to hide if he refuses to testify. >> let's talk briefly about politics because there was a "wall street journal" story. joyce vance, get to you weigh in on this. looking at facing the midterm elections that robert mueller has to start thinking about the timing of any decisions, announcements, indictments, things like that because of ramifications. clearly there would be democrats angry with that similar to what
happened with james comey and hillary clinton before the 2016 election. what does mueller have to think about in this context? >> d.o.j. has a long-standing policy of ensuring that its investigations and prosecutions don't interfere with the political process. so, everything that jim comey did really flew in the face of that. that's why it was so controversial and that was the conduct that led deputy attorney general rosenstein to weigh in and say that he had grossly violated d.o.j. policy. i would expect mueller to be much more closely to the traditional practice, not bringing any indictments any closer than 60 days to the investigation. i really appreciate it. just ahead, gina haspel was always going to face a difficult confirmation, but new reporting may make it even harder. we're back after this. but not before a little more rudy. >> the hillary clinton treatment
ci ericsson director nominee gina haspel set to face lawmakers in her confirmation hearing on wednesday. but nbc news has learned that on friday haspel broached the idea of withdrawal her nomination. her reasoning, concerns that reopening the debate over brutal interrogations could damage the spy agency. the washington post was first to report this story. sources also tell nbc news that on friday white house officials went to her office at cia headquarters to encourage her to
remain the nominee. and it sounds like, julia ainsley, that was a pretty frantic meeting, these white house officials raced out to langley and sadie essentially, hey, we actually do have your back. >> yeah, apparently that message wasn't communicated when she first met with them at the white house on friday where she wanted to withdraw. it had to be a subsequent meeting where you have marc short and sarah sanders rushing to langley to say please stay in the game. i think this is an administration where they have had so many people drop out. they've had so much turnover. this is not something they need right now. so they needed to show that she had that support. but i think she was coming from a place of not just wanting to
drag her own name through all of this, but the cia. she doesn't want to bring up the issue of water boarding again. they thought they had moved away from that and they don't want to get into a lot of the questions about their interrogation programs that will inevitably come up in any hearing on gina haspel. >> phil rucker, what was the kind of view, it seems like in some of the reporting we've been doing there was a sense the white house wasn't doing the work it needed to do in defending gina haspel around this particular issue. is that the sense you get from your sources? >> yeah, initially that's certainly the case. the white house was so focused on mike pompeo who faced iraqi confirmation process for secretary of state. he was the top priority and they were sort of ignoring haspel for a while. now once pompeo got confirmed a little over a week ago the white house got into gear to help haspel. there was a messaging effort this past week to try to promote her nomination. they did a conference call at the white house. you've seen sarah sanders and other white house aides publicly touting her, first woman in cia history potentially and making a big push out of that. initially they were not doing the spade work required to
smooth that process on the hill. >> right. look, there is a very narrow, ken vogel, window here. or narrow vote count for gina haspel for her nomination. rand paul has been opposed to these programs. he seemed opposed to pompeo until all of a sudden he wasn't any more. so that's a big question. john mccain missing from the senate. he's always been somebody who is a very prominent voice speaking out against these programs, but of course he's not in washington to vote on this. what's the path here? >> it is important to note that
this is not a partisan issue. this issue of enhanced interrogation tick 'niques which critics call torture, we've seen multiple raise concerns over the years when they happened, when they were first revealed. and subsequently they see it as a black mark, as do many democrats, on the cia, really on the united states of america as a whole. you point out they can't afford to lose many republicans and there are already some suspects who might find this to be a tricky vote or might at least give them a hard time. >> -- that was a real deeply divisive topic with the american intelligence community of enhanced interrogation. >> and that likely to be the subject of the hearing if in fact it does go forward. jeremy bash just spoke with gina haspel. with the free audible app, your stories go wherever you do.
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>> that's going to be a -- should we do a little test? >> yes, let's do it. let's do it. >> who is voting for patrick? who is voting for evan? >> this is his congressional district. >> your district. >> it was fairly close. it was fairly close. >> that's about as good as the polling gets in west virginia these days. four states that went for president trump all holding primaries on tuesday. joining me now, nbc news political reporter ali, polster and president of bellwether research, christine mathews. and msnbc's the great steve kornacki. steve, i want to start with you. i'm so excited to have the big board on "kasie d.c." what are we looking at on tuesday? >> well, we're looking at a lot.
this is the most recent poll we got out of this republican primary in west virginia. the key name here, the one getting most attention is don blankenship. very controversial. did time in prison because of that coal mining tragedy. coal mine that he owned. there is some reporting this weekend that blankenship in some private polling may be moving up, may have a chance to win. of course, the republican establishment, they are trying to stop a mitch mcconnell, those folks, they think that's political suicide for
republicans to nominate blankenship so we will see. look, on paper the winner of this primary has a golden opportunity because, of course, west virginia, this was the mother of all trump states in 2016. donald trump won west virginia by 42 points and yet it is represented by a democrat, joe manchin in the senate. mansion up for reelection. so republicans, this really at or near the top of their list when they talk about seats they think they can flip to hang onto that senate majority. a very vulnerable democrat there. we'll see if that, if blankenship does get competitive tuesday night, though, what would that do to scramble potentially the general election? that is a big question on tuesday. not the only state with that kind of dynamic, though, where you have a primary on tuesday. joe donley, democratic senator from indiana, he's up, republicans picking a nominee in a state that trump won by 19 points in 2016. so, again, on paper for republicans, a big pickup opportunity.
so, on paper, if republicans could pick off two, three of these, boy that senate majority becomes very difficult for democrats to break even if they got a good year nationally. so, these are the most vulnerable. the one thing we would add, though, is this. in a normal election year, all this has been a favorable -- that wasn't supposed to happen. this has been a favorable combination, actually, for these vulnerable incumbents going back the last generation. call them senators in hostile states. look at all those wins up there. the incumbents are 21 and 3 in this scenario. the donleys, the manchin's, the nodding along as steve has been walking through all of this. what do you think are the most important things we should be watching for on tuesday night across the map, but also specifically in indiana where you've done a lot of work? >> right. so, there's been virtually no public polling done in indiana. so, we have no idea who is likely to win the primary. i think that at this point bron, the businessman looks like he has the momentum. the chatter in the state is he is probably in the lead. >> and this, of course, just to give our viewers a little bit of context, the republican primary we thought was between two members of the house that got really nasty, and we had this third businessman come up out of nowhere. >> right. he spent the most money.
he had some creative ads. he carried around cardboard cut outs basically saying they're interchangeable. they're creatures of d.c. and i'm the guy who is not. and the ads have been actually really creative and he spent the most money. he closed positive. his last tv spot was positive and he basically said, i'm not going to owe anything to anyone, which is kind of a trumpian line, you know. i'm an independent business guy. i'm not part of the inner circle, so i feel like he feels confident. he closed positive. todd rakita close ed in kind of a fighter fashion which is kind of how he has approached the whole primary. >> i'm interested to see if maybe the lesson we're going to take from that is it's not enough just to run with the president, you have to actually be a candidate who is like the president in personality and approach. i want to, though, take a move back to west virginia because our allie batally was on the ground. >> reporter: republicans are
licking their chops. >> joe manchin has not helped us in this stuff. >> reporter: in the waning days of republican primaries gop hopefuls are talking less about manchin. >> it is the pill pushers and patrick has represented those people for years and made millions. >> reporter: and more about each other. >> did your mom ever tell you a that you should wash your mouth out with soap with those lies? >> reporter: attorney general patrick morrissy and jenkins are locked in a nasty fight over coal jobs, opioids and who supported trump first. both have been accused of stretching the truth. >> he refused to support trump over hillary. >> reporter: that ad earned jenkins criticism for doctoring a photo to look like moriy and hillary clinton. >> any man who would fake a handshake and photo shop that in and imply he was shaking hands with hillary clinton, that person is a liar. >> you know what, patrick morrissy has been mischaracterizing and photo shopping in pictures with
hillary clinton buttons on me and things that just simply never existed. that ad represents exactly what patrick morrissy was doing. >> reporter: but a third figure also looms large in this race. >> i don't know any politician supporting me so that should tell you something. >> reporter: an insurgent candidate known best as the ceo of massey energy. don blankenship spent a year in prison after a coal mine explosion left 29 of his miners dead. >> it is incredible. they sent me to prison for a misdemeanor. it was clear from the beginning to the end it was a fake prosecution. >> reporter: blankenship's 2.3 million in spending has been as much telling his side of the story as it's been about politics. does the time he spent in prison bother you at all? >> not really. no. >> doesn't bother me one bit.
don blankenship was railroaded. >> reporter: mitch mcconnell to donald trump's own son don junior. he asked voters to not vote for blankenship. you think don junior is misled? >> they're all mislead. >> reporter: blankenship blames mcconnell who's ads have blanketed him. in response. >> mitch mcconnell has created millions of jobs for china people. his china people are given him tens of millions of dollars. i will beat and dismiss mitch. >> people are offended. >> they shouldn't be. i'm a west virginia person. you're an nbc person. in order to have a racist statement, you have to mention a race or derogatory comment about a race. >> don tells it like it is. just like trump did. and that's why he's getting support in this state. >> absolutely unreal. republicans had thought that they had successfully pushed blankenship to the edges of this race and that they were going to end up with morrissy or jenkins, one of the two. i would argue it would be more generic republicans on the ballot. what did you find? do you think blankenship is having a late surge based on your reporting? >> it sounds that way. over the course of the past 48 hours, most of the folks that i've talked to on both sides of
this race have said that it's pretty much a mess at this point and they think that's really because blankenship is seeing a surge, but jenkins is also seeing his support start sliding. a lot of that has to do with the fox debate that happened on tuesday in morgan town where jenkins and morrissy basically got on the stage and they tried to ignore blankenship and he was able to run the way he wanted to run against mcconnell as the outsider, as the businessman. that worked. >> did you talk to any voters about joe manchin, the incumbent? do they seem to think as though he's still somebody that is of them, representing them, kind of celebrity in a way? or have they started to believe the president who said that manchin hasn't been helpful? >> i think you're hearing both of those things, i mean, if you talk to people who are still democrats in that state, a lot
of the coal miners i talk to especially the union gus believe manchin is somebody who can bring home the bacon and constituent services are going to win the day for them. i did find one woman at the blankenship event, undecided, registered republican, who voted for manchin several times before who said i don't like his stance anymore. he has gotten too far away against the president, against the things he used to run on and stand for here. she couldn't do it anymore. you're hearing it both ways. >> great reporting, ali. if they do manage to actually give this nomination to blankenship, i wouldn't want to be mitch mcconnell in that particular case. steve kornacki, since we're doing the whiparound on the map, let's take a look at ohio, a key place on tuesday. >> ohio, too, a gubernatorial primary, dennis kucinich. could he pull off an upset in one race i want to highlight in ohio, the setup for the next big special election. it is in the 12th district of ohio. republican, he's resigned. special election, the primary,
is this tuesday. on the republican side, house freedom caucus versus establishment dynamic. remember, this is the 12th district in ohio, not far from the 18th district in pennsylvania where democrats just pulled that big upset off. 18th in pennsylvania, trump had won that by 20 points, trump's margin in the 12th district of ohio was only 11. that one's coming in august. the special election, but the primary's tuesday. we're going to keep an eye on that, to kasie. >> steve, thanks so much. christine, last word to you, what do you think is something a dynamic you're seeing in your polling that's not being covered or you think we should be paying close attention to heading into these midterms? >> oh, that's a great question. one of the things that i think is happening with these republican primaries, we're focusing a lot on who's going to win the republican primary. what they've had to do is go so trump, trumpier, trumpiest, that they're going to have trouble in the generals. one of the things i was thinking about in indiana, for example, with joe donnolly, on paper he looks somewhat vulnerable. i don't think in reality he is. he's got several key nuggets cing out of the primary he can work with. for example, all of them favor
arming teachers. that's something that's going to be really, really difficult for whoever comes out of the primary to talk about with moms and teachers and suburban women into the general election. so i think some of these democrat incumbents who are in these deep red states like indiana and like ohio, i think they may be in better shape. >> or better shape than we think. we will be watching you on tuesday night here on msnbc. as the results roll in. "k.c. d.c." back right after this.
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rudy giuliani makes the first rounds. didn't recall out the possibility that michael cohen paid off other women on behalf of the president and much, much more. >> and has pell decided to stick with it after a weekend phone call from the president. >> and the dangerous lava shows no signs of slowing down. at least 26 homes have been destroyed as the lava flows much closer to residential neighborhoods.