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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  May 31, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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aluminum for beer cans, they're going to have to raise prices on beer in order to offset that. so higher prices could be coming here. >> hipster craft beer drinkers look out. >> that's right. >> aman, thank you. i will see you 7:00 p.m. on "kasie d.c." you can follow me on twitter or instagram. "deadline white house" with my friend nicolle wallace starts right now. >> hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york as another shoe drops in the obstruction of justice investigation into the president, donald trump flexes his pardon power to send a message. "the new york times" out with a stunning new report about a secret memo written by then acting fbi director andy mccabe with what the times describes as, quote, behind the scenes details on the firing of james comey. an event known to be under scrutiny by special counsel robert mueller. two days, two big developments in what we know about the obstruction of justice investigation. and the latest moves raising
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eyebrows at the white house? well, donald trump unexpectedly announcing a full pardon this morning for dinesh d'souza, a conservative commentator who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations similar to the charges trump's former fixer michael cohen could be facing. he also hinted at more pardons to come for former stars of the apprentice, martha stewart and former illinois governor rob blagojevich blagojevich. it's not hard to connect the dots between them and the russia investigation. martha stewart was prosecuted by none other than james comey. one of mueller's star witnesses and blagojevich was prosecuted by comey's friend and current lawyer pat fitzgerald and is probably not a coincidence it all comes on the heels of that damning report from the times detailing andy mccabe's account of the comey firing. the times writes, quote, mr. mccabe described a conversation at the justice department with the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein in the chaotic days last may after mr. comey's abrupt firing.
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mr. rosenstein played a key role in the dismissal, writing a memo that rebuked mr. comey over his handling of an investigation into hillary clinton, but in the meeting at the justice department, mr. rosenstein added a new detail. he said the president had originally asked him to reference russia in his memo. to mr. mccabe that seemed like possible evidence that mr. comey's firing was actually related to the fbi's investigation into the trump campaign's ties to russia. and that mr. rosenstein helped provide a cover story by writing about the clinton investigation. trump lashed out on twitter this morning writing, quote, not that it matters, but i never fired james comey because of russia. the corrupt mainstream media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it isn't true. but it's not just the media pushing the narrative, mr. president, it's you. >> regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey knowing there was no good time
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to do it. and in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. >> with us from "the new york times," justice reporter matt apuzzo who broke that story last night and from the washington post phil rucker also former u.s. attorney law professor at the university of alabama, joyce vance and former fbi assistant director for counter intelligence frank figliuzzi, all msnbc analysts, four of my favorite people on the planet. matt apuzzo, take me inside this story. so, we know jim comey kept memos. you have the first account i've seen a memo that andy mccabe took because he was concerned that there was a russia connection, and the president revealed it in his own interviews days later. >> yeah, memos for everyone. it was a crazy time last may, right? the president had just fired jim
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comey and for 24 hours we get a steady diet of, here, everybody look at this rod rosenstein memo. that's why we fired him. it was because he was unfair to hillary clinton and because he didn't follow d.o.j. rules about talking publicly about ongoing investigations. that's why we fired him. and then, of course, he does the lester holt interview, the president does the lester holt interview and says, russia was on my mind. he goes into the oval office and tells the russians comey is a nutjob, i face great pressure because of russia and that's been taken off. then rod rosenstein says in a roomful of justice department officials and andy mccabe, weirdly at the beginning the president wanted me to mention russia. so you can see why to mccabe, as he's trying to figure out what the heck is going on, he's thinking, well, gees, it sounds a lot like the president might not have actually fired jim comey because of the clinton investigation. and you take that memo because you're trying to get to the
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bottom of why and that is still a question they are trying to figure out, why did the president actually fire jim comey. >> and that is at the center, matt apuzzo, of the investigation to whether or not the president obstructed justice. i want to read a couple more pulls from your piece. i'd love to read the whole thing but, you know, we've only got an hour. so, you write -- >> don't do it to your readers. >> subscribe to the times, and everyone should read it themselves. so, mccabe's memo, one of several that he wrote, highlights a conflicting roles that rosenstein plays in the case. he supervises the special counsel investigation and is told colleagues that protecting it is among his highest priorities. many current and former law enforcement officials are suspicious of some of his other actions, including allowing some of mr. trump's congressional allies to view crucial documents from the investigation. i don't think we talk enougher -- because everything has become so relative about how rosenstein is almost a bad/good guy or good bad guy, depending how you look at it.
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he's protected i think from democrats and republicans in terms of all the skirmishes that are around this investigation, because he's viewed as protecting mueller. but he's actually ceded a lot of ground to the nutty est guys in the house freedom caucus doing the president's bidding on the russia probe. >> yeah, matt miller, former justice department official who i believe he was on your show, has said he's got concerns and he wrote an op-ed in the post about this. he's got concerns, rod is a principled guy, he's trying to protect mueller. but if you compromise the justice department's core values and you compromise the investigation by giving out information about mueller's investigation to the president's allies in the middle of an investigation, how much are you -- how much are you really helping protect mueller? and if you come premipromise on core values, what do you have left? rosenstein is trying to walk this line. protecting mueller is key, but obviously you can only do that
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if you keep your job and you can only keep your job with this president if you walk that line. >> joyce vance, is he walking that line in a way that is compromising this investigation? if we're to believe andy mccabe's memos and i've never seen any evidence andy mccabe took memos that have been called into question. they were usually contemporaneous notes of justice department meetings. has rosenstein crossed any lines, in your mind? >> i think it's very hard to assess rod rosenstein on the basis of the publicly available information. some things that people who have worked with him as i did know about him is that he's a straight arrow. he believes in d.o.j. as an institution, and he's an institution protector and a rule follower. so, it seems very likely to me, at least, that rosenstein is trying in a very difficult situation to walk a very narrow
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tightrope without falling off because he believes if he falls off it would damage the mueller investigation. as far as andy mccabe's memo goes, it's disturbing. one detail that i'm not clear on is precisely what trump asked rosenstein to insert into the memo about russia. we're looking at it now with hindsight, of course. this all happened back in march, april, may of 2017 when these issues were less clear. so, i'd like to understand a little bit more about what's going on so we can put all of this into perspective. >> and, frank figliuzzi, let's isolate that, what joyce is talking about. here's what matt apuzzo and his colleagues have reported. mr. rosenstein added a new detail in this meeting that matt covers. he said the president had originally asked him to reference russia in his memo, the people familiar with the conversation said. mr. rosenstein did not elaborate on what mr. trump had wanted him to say, but we do know, frank
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figliuzzi, that the president had asked his chief of staff, then chief of staff reince priebus, to have a whole bunch of officials say the president wasn't under investigation. they were actually asked about that request in congressional testimony. he wanted pompeo to say that the president was not under investigation. he wanted comey to say he wasn't under investigation. he wanted i believe coates to say he wasn't upped investigation. he wanted rogers to say he wasn't under investigation. we know all these people are witnesses in the mueller probe. how does this story fit into that fact pattern? >> well, there are a couple interesting observations here. first you need to establish intent to have an obstruction case. intent isn't some magical thing where you pry someone's head open and say, there it is, there is intent. you need a litany of evidence, preponderance of the evidence. if you're going criminal, you need evidence beyond all reasonable doubt. you start stacking up the witnesses as you said and literally all these people become fact witnesses as to what
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was said to them, what their impression was and what the president's intent was. the interesting twist here is rod roysenstein becomes a potential fact witness while he's overseeing the investigation of obstruction. so, this becomes very, very complicated. my gut tells me that rosenstein's trying to do the right thing. he is literally between the proverbial rock and hard place. i think he's trying to eke out the end of the special counsel investigation, keep it alive, and trying to keep lots of people happy at the same time. but this is an interesting twist today, nicolle, and wloehether not rosenstein took russia out of the firing reasons for comey because he thought trump would get in trouble or whether he truly believed there was other valid reason to fire comey, we don't know yet. >> fil phil rucker, i want your
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thoughts -- i watch you on the briefings. we don't know if there is a cause and effect, interestingly after two giant pieces of the obstruction of justice coming to focus, the president today, i don't know if he spins a dial on who is looking for a pardon, he picked dinesh d'souza and pardoned him. i don't know if they're setting up a hot line 1-800-pardon me, he's getting comfortable with his pardon power. >> that's right, nicolle. the announcement came out of nowhere. there is actually sort of an ordinary process for pardons that begins at the justice department. there is an office of the pardon attorney and thousands of people will apply for a pardon there and that process makes its way to the white house and a presidential decision. but this president has made his pardon decisions personally and on his own and on his own timetable. not through those normal channels. that's why he pardoned sheriff joe arpaio in arizona. that's why he pardoned scooter
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libby and dinesh d'souza. it sent a message to the personal attorney and people ensnard, like national security advisor mike flynn that this president trump is willing to exercise his power of clemency to help out his friends and allies to prevent them from serving jail time or to pardon them after the fact. i talked to some people who are in trump's outer orbit who may become ensnared or are already witnesses in the mueller probe who said that that signal was received loudly and clearly today. >> but, joyce, does the very act -- there's been reporting from matt and his colleagues about john dowd, the president's former attorney, dangling pardons in front of mike flynn and other -- i believe at the time they were witnesses, they were charged and some pleaded guilty. is the very act of dangling pardons, could that be construed as obstruction of justice by bob
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mueller's investigators? >> you know, the president has this near absolute power to grant pardons. so he can do that. but we've seen in other aspects of this investigation that you can do something that's legal, you can for instance be rod blagojevich and select a new senator. but if you do it in exchange for a bribe, it becomes a crime. we're seeing a little bit of that here, too. you can go ahead and grant pardons, but if you're doing it to obstruct an investigation, then it can become evidence in that case and it's a little bit like playing poker where you don't know what's in the other guy's hand, but he draws a card and maybe it gives him a full house or maybe it gives him a royal flush. here trump is tweeting and it's like he's playing with mueller and doesn't realize it, and any one of these tweets could be completing mueller's hand and giving him the evidence he needs for obstruction or perhaps he's already there. >> matt, i want to come back to your piece in this question of rosenstein because we don't
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spend enough time, i don't think, asking questions about the possibilities. is it possible that he has -- i don't know if the word witness -- but could he be a witness, could he have to share with mueller sort of all of his version of these events? andy mccabe is also a witness. could andy mccabe -- is bob mueller sitting on everything that was in your story today, and is this already of interest, do you think, to the special counsel that rosenstein has a role in all this in terms of creating the cover story that only held up until the president blew his own cover story with lester holt? >> yeah, i have no doubt that bob mueller has a pretty clear picture of the comey firing through the lenses of all of the players, save for the president himself, and that's why the interview with the president is potentially so significant because you can draw inferences from all these people about what might have been in the president's head.
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but when you're getting to the quell of inat the point, that's why you want to hear from the person himself. we do know that the president gave rod rosenstein his draft firing letter of jim comey, and that mccabe actually got a copy of that draft from rosenstein and gave that draft to bob mueller along with copies of his memos. should mention we have a sense of what's in one of these memos. i'm told maybe there's a half dozen more. obviously given the investigation and given the firing, you know, andy mccabe isn't on the interview circuit, but would obviously very much love to talk to him about what's in the other memos, right? because -- >> we all would. he has a standing invitation. >> half a dozen memos. >> let me stay on this with you, frank figliuzzi. one more from matt's great piece. he over sees an investigation to the president who points to mr. rosenstein's own actions as
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evidence that he's innocent. and mr. rosenstein could have the final say whether that argument has merit. could you speak to that? is there any precedent for the person in charge of the investigation being one of the people who wrote the story that the president's lawyers, a person being investigated, is pointing to to prove their innocence? >> so, this is an -- i'm sure joyce will tell you. this is kind of a worst nightmare for a prosecutor. you do not want to become a fact witness and become the center of attention in these things. it is also bad for an fbi agent to do that. and often -- here's where i get really worried -- it leads to recusal and i'm not suggesting that rosenstein is going to recuse himself. what i'm concerned about is that the white house is going to say he's now super conflicted. he needs to go. i'm concerned about that. i think that rosenstein is going to do the right thing. he is clearly going to have to be interviewed if he hasn't already by mueller's team and now the fact that as matt said, he's given up a memo for use by
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andy mccabe is just complicating things even further. you can't make this stuff up. >> let me get you in on the president's tweets on the topic. these stories you and your colleagues write always strike a nerve. he has his lead lawyer setting the tone, we're going to collude obstruction. what is the view on obstruction of justice? >> i think the mood is allegation what it has been, which is there is some fear about it. they don't really know where mueller is headed. they certainly know a lot of the questions that mueller and his team have been asking white house officials and others around the president. but it's sort of a dark hole at the moment and we know rudy giuliani has spent some time with the president this week here in washington trying to prepare him for a possible interview. the president wants to do that interview. it's really a matter of whether they can narrow the scope of those questions and see if the lawyers end upcoming on board. they're the ones who have been
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the most resistant to it. but in terms of obstruction of justice, i mean, people have seen this play out in the white house, but it also plays out in public view on twitter for all of us to see and so that's very clear. >> we hear a little bird tells me, phil rucker, you break into something, rash back and share it. matt apuzzo, we're grateful to have you and your writing. as much as he enjoyed his own reality tv show, could the power to pardon and the president willing to use it also be of interest to special counsel robert mueller? also ahead, it is complicated. rosenstein is viewed as mueller's protection. could it cast comey in a brand-new light? and donald trump's war on jeff sessions. the hits keep coming. storms by an insurance company
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martha stewart and rod blagojevich both had stents on the apprentice. m martha stewart hosted a spin-off and now both are being considered for pardons. author of the new book messing with the enemy, surviving in a social media world of hackers, terrorists, russians and fake news. must read. and rick steng l, former secretary of state former diplomacy and former editing manager for time magazine. frank and joyce are still here. we never let them leave. michael steele, let me start
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with you on the question of pardons. it's not like he's pardoning, you know, people who don't have problems that are identical to the ones that he might have. >> very similar. there is a nexus that he finds with certain folks and he latches onto it. and i think for him, certainly dinesh d'souza pardon was really sort of a give me to the base. hey, i'm still taking care of our peeps. >> arpaio, scooter libby. >> the obama administration, the justice department, the fbi went after these people and harangued them and forced them into, you know, these situations. i'll take care of that. then on the others, that's the nexus to, you know, the relationship he had with them on the apprentice. that sort of camaraderie, that friendship, whatever you want to call it and that's enough for him. that's enough for him. that's taking care of his peeps.
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the rest of us, can you focus on running the country? what president is pardoning everyone and their brother, at the same time trying to do something with north korea, trying to do something on the economy. >> and to be honest, it's so thoughtless. i was inside the white house with the debate whether to pardon scooter libby. bush did not pardon scooter libby. he was charged with obstruction and perjury. but it's so careless -- and i want to read something from the post that sort of makes some of your points. not as eloquently as you just did, but same thread. trump's totally self-serving pardons. the common thread running through four of trump's five hoe priel pardons isn't so much these -- isn't that they are top allies. they were allegedly politically oppressed. trump would have you believe he's righting wrongs. that is certainly in the eye of the beholder. he's writing wrongs near his own legal predicament. the president who complained
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about the witch hunt that is special counsel robert mueller's investigation of russian meddling in the 2016 campaign is using his pardon power to assert that myriad other witch hunts are going on in politics. it's all self-serving on some level regardless of how you feel about any individual pardon. he's also undoing the prosecutions of people who are witnesses in the mueller probe. comey, comey's lawyer fitzgerald. and i believe preet bharara. >> at the end of the day i have this tool here, this pardon tool and i will use it. so, far all of those other folks who could get caught up by mueller, caught up by comey, don't worry. it is a very concerning space for us to be in right now to see the president use the pardon power the way he's using it, to take care of wrongs that he perceives to be wrongs. >> can i talk about the pardon power for a second from a constitutional perspective? >> please. >> the pardon power, article 2 section 2 is one of the least limited presidential powers. the constitution says the
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president has the right to do this. nobody has to confirm it. there are no checks and balances. this is how donald trump regards the presidency. why aren't all my powers like pardon power? >> good point. >> why does anybody have to say anything? so, suddenly he's realized this is something -- >> he found a button he can press. >> he can go like that. >> do what i want. >> i can do what i want. >> good point. >> that is what he's doing now and that is why it is also so scary. >> there is a process for this. i lived through this. most normal people seeking a pardon go through the justice department process and of course the white house can always big foot that process. but do you think there is concern in sort of law enforcement circles, justice department circles that this is just another finger in the eye of the rule of law? >> we're one step closer to being a third world power as of today. tariffs and pardons, these are things we see from banana republics. these are when authoritarians take charge in elections and go after their political opponents
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and help out their political allies. this is destroying the whole idea of independent justice whether it's pushing on sessions or the rod rosenstein issue that we're talking about or in this case throwing around pardons based on personal connections and celebrities which the president seems to think of the most pressing issues in our country right now is going back after reality tv stars. >> joyce, you had a tweet about the similarities between -- i know we covered a little bit of this already -- but the s similarity between the kinds of charges michael cohen could be considered with shortly and dinesh d'souza was convicted of and pardoned. these aren't just messages. these are strategies, legal strategies being laid bare and the other person that strikes me who is seeing all of this is bob mueller. i mean, would he want to interview the president about why he pardoned all these people? >> that would have to be a question on mueller's wish list if he ever gets his moment in the room with the president.
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all of these proposed pardons, dinesh d'souza, which i guess has been granted as of today, is a preet bharara southern district of prosecution someone for campaign finance violations. and d'souza pleaded guilty. he acknowledged guilt. he expressed profound regret. the judge who looked at that case found that there had been no prosecutorial impropriety in that case, in other words, the men and women in the southern district of new york did their jobs and they did them well. and now this president has slapped them in the face while sending a message to cohen, stewart is very similar, right? she's prosecuted, she goes to trial for obstruction and for lying. she's convicted. she serves her sentence. now suddenly there is a pardon on the table for conduct that very clearly mirrors other players in this investigation. so, it does look like the president is setting up a sort of taudry legal strategy that justifies on behalf of his family members and friends down
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the road. >> frank figliuzzi, we have a tweet from dinesh d'souza. i'm not sure it is totally family friendly so ear muffs if you have little ones. he tweeted karma is a bitch. preet bharara wanted to destroy a fellow indian american to advance his career. he got fired, i got pardoned. i mean, not exactly. he broke the law and was convicted of having done so. i mean, let me give you the same question i gave clint watts. what is the president saying with all these pardons about the rule of law? >> so on a micro level, we have an almost masterful strategy being executed by the president. he is picking out the crimes and the people and the prosecutors and saying, you have no power over me. as you said earlier in the show, nicolle, we're talking about pat fitzgerald who was the special counsel in the scooter libby/valerie plame case. he prosecuted blagojevich when he was u.s. attorney chicago. he's saying people who are
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appointed by comey, who were special counsel, no power over me at all. d'souza pled guilty. it's like walking into the police department and saying, i did this and the police patting you on the head saying, never mind, you're good, have a nice day. on a macro level i am gravely concerned about not being able to recover from this period of time in our history. from the erosion of the rule of law, the constitution, our institutions and democracy. how do we recover from this? it doesn't happen easily. >> can i press you on that? how do we recover from this? are you calling -- do you think the voices like yours in law enforcement, like clint will rise up and call on democrats and republicans to focus -- we're all over the place. do we need to focus in on pardons as so deliberate and so blatant and such a flagrant sort of up yours to the rule of law, do we need to spend more time talking about this? >> yeah, i do. the power of pardon should not be as broad as it is. but, look, we've got a problem
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here because we typically turn to congress for solutions in this and that's not going to happen. the legal community needs to come out very strongly for the rule of law, put aside partisan differences. we're not hearing enough from the legal community, from bar associations, from noted legal professors. and the media needs to keep doing that job and bring it to the forefront. >> frank figliuzzi, thank you so much. we're always grateful when we get to steal half an hour of your day. coming up uh any report details how far the president went trying to get jeff sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from the russia investigation. that's next. - i love my grandma. - anncr: as you grow older, your brain naturally begins to change which may cause trouble with recall. - learning from him is great... when i can keep up! - anncr: thankfully, prevagen helps your brain and improves memory. - dad's got all the answers. - anncr: prevagen is now the number-one-selling brain health supplement in drug stores nationwide. - she outsmarts me every single time. - checkmate! you wanna play again?
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california values senator dianne feinstein say no to the nra and yes to common-sense gun laws. californians are leading against donald trump. our senator should, too. kevin de león is the only candidate for senate who passed laws protecting immigrants from trump... and helped dreamers stay in school. he led bold action against climate change. and only de león fought for universal, medicare for all. democrat kevin de león the only true progressive for senate. change california now is responsible for the content of this advertising. we're back with some breaking news now from axios. jonathan swan is reporting throughout last year on four separate occasions the president pressured attorney general jeff sessions to reclaim control of the russia investigation. "the new york times" reported earlier this week of one of those conversations, but sources
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tell axios it was more than that. it actually happened three times in person, and another time over the phone. jonathan swan goes on to quote, two sources familiar with the conversations told me the president never to their knowledge ordered sessions to cancel his recusal from the russia investigation. trump, give me a break. trump told sessions he'd be a hero to conservatives if he did the right thing and took back control over the russia investigation. according to two sources with knowledge of their conversations. last night the president once again attacks session on twitter just before midnight. here's what he tweeted. the recusal of jeff sessions was an unforced betrayal of the president of the united states quoting judge joe digenova. what are they smoking down there? >> clearly some of the best stuff you can get in town because it's keeping them real high. you know, this is part of an
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ongoing strategy that this president has put in place and has already been discussed, is very effective at. i think we cannot lose sight at how effective he is in laying down the kinds of tracks that he wants people to get on and follow him. it's working for his base. it clearly has worked for the republican leadership -- >> four -- he went to sessions four times -- >> but it doesn't matter. it doesn't matter outside because as you already said, he already believes that he should have that power to do that, right? he should have that power -- >> why doesn't it matter to paul ryan? why doesn't it matter to mitch mcconnell? >> they're afraid of his base. they're afraid of his base. they sit back and look across the country -- >> they're not worried about destroying the justice department? >> worry about that later. the combination of the number of members retiring, the combination of the poll numbers in their respective congressional districts where the president is sitting at 70 and 80%. they look at that and they're
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frozen in place. this stopped being about leadership over a year ago. this is about preservation. >> i think they're complicit in the destruction of the justice department. >> absolutely they are. there is no doubt about that. these are the same numb nuts who after this is all over are going to come on the back end and be all about law and order, all about our justice department and our fbi and how these good men and women who served this country need to be protected when they've done everything in their power to undermine it. >> let me get joyce on the breaking news that we've got from axios and read you a little bit more. after he told sessions he'd be a hero, he privately mused about whether it would be possible to limit the scope of the mueller investigation to avoid his business affairs. a whole bunch of tells how worried he is about the mueller investigation and where it's going. i'm also told by a source that the silence, the leak-free nature of the mueller probe drives trump bananas.
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joyce? >> clearly trump is driven pretty nutty by what' standard operating procedure inside the justice department. quiet integrity and professionalism. and the reason that that's typical d.o.j. policy is because it avoids dragging people's name through the mud unfairly and it also avoids tampering and influencing investigations that aren't quite ready. trump doesn't like this. he wants to control the investigation and know what's going on. so, i hope the first time he approached jeff sessions, jeff sessions immediately called mueller and told him about it. certainly on times two, three and four because the picture that emerges is a president who believes that he is entitled to use the attorney general and the justice department to prosecute his enemies and protect himself. i don't know how much more clear it could be than this axios story, nicolle. >> you know, i think it really is starting to show a weakness in our country, which is we don't have an independent attorney general.
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i heard alan dershowitz talk about it. he's right. before the election we were worried about loretta lynch, is she going to do the right thing. after the election, will sessions recuse himself, when he does, how does he keep in power and not get fired. man, it is really showing the weakness of us having an appointee going into that attorney general position over time. they're supposed to be there ten years so they can be under one party and endure. paul ryan has nothing to lose at this point. i really respected tray gowdy this week. he came out and said, look, the fbi did exactly what we would expect them to do. back off. that is a huge factor. that really helps. why doesn't paul ryan do the same thing? >> and what weak executive leadership, right? from the business world, the weak way to fire somebody is to make their job so excruciating and awful that they quit on their own. that was his style always in business. he never actually fired people directly. how did he fire comey?
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he gave his fact odem a letter and said deliver it to him in los angeles. he can't bring himself face to face, get out, i'm firing you. weak executive leadership. >> it's even more pathetic than that. he wants to desperately. they malign him, he's the butt of all jokes. he's so impotent. he couldn't get anyone confirmed. that's why sessions has a job. >> i hope that was true. that would be a good ending. there is no leadership among the republican leadership. paul ryan, there's no reason he can't -- he knows in his heart everything trump does is inem cal to everything he stood for in politics and yet he says nothing. >> que the bots. i said the "i" word. trump's changing story in the comey firing, can the president get his facts straight in time for an interview with bob mueller?
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recommendation, i was going to fire comey. knowing there was no good time to do it. and, in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. >> he fired comey because comey would not, among other things, say that he wasn't a target of the investigation. he's entitled to that. hillary clinton got that and he couldn't get that. >> but he was a target of an investigation and they kept it secret so as not to squish up his campaign. joyce, what am i missing? >> so, look, i'm not going to defend jim comey here, but there is a difference. comey talked about clinton at the very end of that investigation. they knew she wasn't going to be charged. they had played out all of the evidence. people like to quibble about it, but that's the facts. here we're talking about a point in time during and in the middle of an investigation and the president wants a clean bill of health. rudy thinks he's entitled to one, and he just isn't.
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this isn't how american justice works. >> we talked about this before. we started with more news about how all this went down in real time from the great "the new york times" reporting in real time. donald trump wanted the heads of every national security agency, the people who are supposed to protect us from terrorist attacks and north korean nuclear mission l missiles to say he wasn't under investigation. his campaign was under investigation. was he asking them to do something -- how does that land on career professionals at this agency? >> it doesn't. that's why everybody was writing memos. these are weird conversations. hey, i'm thinking you should do this. you say, no. and maybe i'll write this down because maybe this will come up again later. that's why everybody was documenting this. i would love to know from the pompeo, coates and rogers -- >> right. >> what were they thinking when they heard this? i'm sure the mueller investigation will take care of that. >> they're all witnesses in the mueller probe so bob mueller already knows. >> the most essential is sessions. sessions really is for the obstruction case. from trump's perspective, he's
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much more vulnerable on the obstruction case and other crimes discovered during the course of the investigation than he is with collusion. he may not be aware that he was influenced by the russians. not only is he in denial, the carrier situation is he doesn't realize it happened. >> that to me, the sessions piece is a very intriguing piece because you go back -- i think now is a good time for everybody to go back and replay his public hearings and just watch. don't listen so much to what he's saying. listen to two things. how he's saying and how his body is reacting to the questions he's being asked and there are several points you could tell where he stops and he's looking and he said, i can't tell them what i know. >> also the situation i've been trying to reckon with, we're used to obstruction of justice in smoke filled rooms. woodward and bernstein, here's what the nixon campaign was doing, here's what the reelect campaign was doing. we're not used to obstruction of justice in plain daylight in
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interviews in front of people. the trump from the very beginning has telegraphed and been transparent about his obstruction of justice. if we had learned all of this was going on behind the scenes, yeah, i was worried about the russia investigation, we would be putting the indictment out there right now. but because he's doing it in public, we're all like, maybe it isn't obstruction. it is obstruction. >> joyce, can you speak to that? and can you also answer -- i mean, that is the public relations effect of it. we've seen it now for so long. the conduct is so abnormal. the language about the justice department so outside the range of normal conduct that it's been out there so long probably to desensitize people to it. but i'm guessing that inside the mueller investigation, they don't care about the effect on our feelings. >> they really don't. they'll just go ahead and keep their heads down and do their jobs. but trump has desensitized people to protocol in the justice department and he's really tried to reduce the stature of the justice department in a series of tweets
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earlier this week he referred to the sessions recusal and said, how could he recuse and walk away from the most important case in, quote, the office? you know, the justice department isn't just an office. it is the place in our country where we ensure that the rule of law is upheld. trump is making sure that the public sees it in a very different diminished light and that's perhaps the most dangerous thing that's going on here. >> the other dangerous thing that we seem -- we chase these shiny balls, the pardon today of dinesh, and our shiny box -- what we seem to have lost sight of bob mueller is investigating whether there was collusion between the russians and the trump campaign. while we've been talking about pardons and the other i had i don't si coming out of 1600 pennsylvania avenue, we know that nothing has been done to protect the upcoming midterm elections from russia meddling. we know that from donald trump's appointees who have gone to testify in congress. chris wray testified to the fact he's not been asked to do
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anything differently. admiral rogers, body language was draped over the table saying, what have we got to deter putin? he said nothing. you know, you've got an entire national security apparatus ham strung by the lack of interest from this president in doing anything to protect the country from russia. >> because donald trump is not interested in those things. he's not interested in the outcome of the november elections. he doesn't quite honestly care if republicans hold the house or lose the house because it's -- that has nothing to do with him. he'll work with whoever is there. he'll work with chuck schumer, nancy pelosi, whomever is -- >> does he worry about impeachment? >> he knows the stopgap is the senate. >> right. that's right. >> there won't be a conviction in the senate. he watched bill clinton deal with it and live with it. >> the 67% approval. >> right. for him those things are not of his interest because it don't affect him. >> just get to mar-a-lago faster, more golf, right? >> what a thought. joyce, do you want to get the last word here?
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>> so, i'll just say we once had a law in this country called the help america vote act, haba. funding for voting infrastructure to the states. we the. all right. thank you so much for spending so money time with us. we are grateful. when we come back, is the republican party effectively dead? one of its most recent leaders seems to suggest it is. at least for now.
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i want to talk to you about what's happened in the republican party. >> there is no republican party. there is a trump party. the republican party is kind of taking a nap somewhere. >> jeremy steele. i love that guy, john boehner, former speaker of the house. >> he nailed it. the party of trump. the trump party. the republican party is in a coma. a self induced coma. and they will be there as long as the president wants them there, because there is not a man or woman that's in leadership -- by leadership i am not talking about the ryans of the world. i'm talking anyone with representative or senator in front of their name that's prepared to stan up while this office while serving and say you sir have gone too far, this is
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not what this country is about. and we are going do something differently. >> how is there not one person. i'm going to give up my seat. i'm going to lose to save the country. >> what's thigher principle. what's the higher goal. >> why isn't there one? >> that's the question we ask ourselves every day. there is a lot of them there. any one of them can step up. you have got the ones who are retiring. that's great. and now they are jibber jabbering and running their mouths that's fine but it's not the same as being this the job and taking the risk. >> the rule of law party. and trump is single handily upending the apparatus of rule of law in our country. that will take generations to recover. >> paul ryan has green lit the mob family approach to the justice department. >> fiscal conservatives. that's what i used to hear. not so conservative with the national debt. >> no. >> we shut down the country how many times over national debt. >> anti-russia. pro allies. we are not pro allies anymore. >> where do we go from here?
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>> that's a good question. it is going to be a desert experience. falling back on my religious training. we are going to go through that desert experience where we have to do a lot of soul-searching and a lot of think about who we are in order to convince the american people -- >> aren't we a party that tolerates racism and nativism and isolationism right now. but that's not who we are. that's not the kind of republican party i joined, that's not the kind of republican party i'm willing to fight for. the question is, how many of you are prepared to stand in that crucible and say, this is who we are? we are a party that believe this is individuals. >> will you vote democrat against trump? >> depends what that democrat is saying. that's a hard leap. because the democrats aren't putting anything on the table. who is is going the beat trump right now? you can't beat something with nothing. >> but at some point republicans have to decide it's about stopping trump. i did, and i would do it again. we will sneak in one more break. we'll be right back.
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book. we will do that next time. we will go deep. est messing with the enemy. must buy. must read. you will love it. the book is called messing with the enemy. we just showed you the cover. that does it for our hour imi'm nicolle wallace. hay hi chuck are you ready for game one. >> i will. >> are we going to stay friends no matter what? >> i promise i will pardon you. no matter what. >> it is like an 800 number. i'm going to leave my name and number on the hot line. do me next. >> actually you are never going to get the pardon. i have a better shot than you do. i am a talking about from him. not us. thank you nicole. >> if it's thursday, pardon me. tonight, a special message for special counsel witnesses. how today's presidential pardon parade marches to the beat of the trump allies in mueller's probe. >> it was probe to pardonen dinesh


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