tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC August 30, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
it arrives and leaves. it is still not over. then by may of this year, six months after the trump lawyers original deadline by which they said the whole thing would be done, it turned out the special counsel's investigation of the so rudy giuliani, the president's new lawyer decided it was time to lay down the law, to end this thing once and for all. he proclaimed that september 1st would be the actual end. september 1st would be the end of the robert mueller investigation of the president. as you may have noticed, september 1st is quickly approaching. day after tomorrow quickly. and while, sure, the mueller investigation could end then, the president's lawyers track record on these things is quite literally a complete failure on every front. do these blown deadlines eventually annoy the president, though? find out on saturday. see you tomorrow. now it is time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell.
>> let me try a theory about the president's lawyers and when this is going to end. that all of their communication, whether it's on television or privately to the president, but all of it is really for the audience of one, whenever they're speaking. so when they are saying these things on television when john dowd was giving the information it is going to be over at a certain time, when ty cobb was urging the president to let's comply with these requests for documents because it will be over faster that they all knew that these things do not ever end in the kinds of tame tables they were talking about. but they knew if i ever told the president a realistic estimate of how long it might go that he might just fire everybody in sight and get himself impeached on a much faster schedule. >> but like chicken little, right? >> yes. >> how many times can you do it before he starts to know that you're doing it? it may placate him momentarily. you can't persuade him to do
things he might not otherwise do. but like when you tell him it is going to be thanksgiving and then january and december. he remembers these things. eventually he will stop being susceptible to this type of deception, won't he? >> it is like a parenting exercise in a cross country drive. you have left new york city, headed for san francisco and you are somewhere in eastern pennsylvania and the three-year-old is saying, are we there yet? and you are just constantly saying, we're almost there. >> hold on a little bit. don't hit your brother. yeah. yeah. even a three-year-old eventually figures it out. >> the three-year-olds do. we're not sure about the client the president's lawyers have. the president is once again
talking about impeachment with an interview. the president says i don't think they can impeach somebody that's doing a great job, proving once again that the president has never read one word of the constitution, especially one word relative to his future. so you get elected as a republican or democrat and the opposite party gets put into the house, that would mean, oh, let's impeach him. can't do it, trump said. if you look at the definition of impeachment, that's a high bar and that's would take a long time to fight that if you are doing a good job. bill clinton was actually doing a much better job than donald trump when he was impeached. after last night's breaking news at this hour that the trump white house is full of talk of impeachment these days, we got a
look today at one of the president's most important lines of defense to a possible obstruction of justice charge because of his firing of fbi director james comey. we learned from the washington post exactly 24 hours ago, trump recently consulted his attorneys about the likelihood of impeachment proceedings. one of the things rudy giuliani and the president have actually talked about is this. >> one of the things they're concerned about did the president obstruct justice when he fired comey? he made it clear to lest ere holt he did it knowing the investigation would continue, so he couldn't have obstructed it. >> couldn't have obstructed it. made it clear to lester holt that he knew the investigation would continue. rudy giuliani said that a month ago. a month ago. today the president tweeted this lie about nbc news. when lester holt got caught fudging my tape on russia, they
were hurt badly. lester holt did not fudge the tape of his interview with president trump. nbc news has had the extended video of the lester holt interview online since it was originally broadcast last may. you can go to it right now at nbc news.com/nightlynews/videopres trump. you can google it. the interview remains the most important interview anyone has ever done with president trump, and it would obviously become exhibit a because the president said to lester holt that he was going to fire james comey no matter what recommendation he got from his attorney general and from rod rosenstein about what to do with james comey. the recommendation the president got, which was written by deputy
attorney general rod rosenstein was that he should fire james comey because of the public comments james comey made about the fbi's investigation of hillary clinton's e-mails. when lester holt asked the president about firing james comey, he never mentioned the investigation of hillary clinton's e-mails. but he did mention what he called this russia thing. the president told lester holt when he decided to fire james comey, quote, i said to myself. i said this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. that was what the president of the united states said was in his head when he decided to fire james comey. now he has discussed impeachment, the president knows that one of his most dangerous criminal impeachment exposures is a charge of obstruction of justice for firing james comey and attempting to fire jeff sessions and robert mueller in an effort to obstruct the investigation. so the president knows he needs
a defense against what he said to lester holt in that interview. and so his defense today is lester holt did something with the videotape, quote, fudging my tape. that is a lie that could only work with trump voters. it will not work with special prosecutor robert mueller. it will not work in impeachment hearing and not a trial in the united states senate where the lester holt interview about the firing of james comey will be played in its entirety for the united states senate if they sit as jurors in a trump impeachment trial. the president knows that fudging my tape lie won't work in the real world and so when it comes to his actual legal defense today's tweet is probably best read as a trumpian variation on what rudy giuliani said a month ago about the lester holt interview. the part about the president
knew the investigation would continue after he fired comey so that couldn't be obstruction of justice. now let's listen once again to a portion of the unedited video in which donald trump describes to lester holt what he was thinking after he got the written recommendation from rod rosenstein to fire fbi director james comey. it is even more extraordinary to listen to now because the president begins his explanation with praise of rod rosenstein saying he's highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. this is the part of the video that you will be hearing repeatedly if there is an impeachment hearing in the house judiciary committee and an impeachment trial in the united states senate. >> oh, i was going to fire regardless of recommendations. he made a recommendation.
he's highly respected. very good guy. very smart guy. the democrats like him. the republicans like him. he made a recommendation. but regardless of 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. it is an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election that they should have won, and the reason they should have won it is the electoral college is impossible for a republican to win. so everybody was thinking they should have won the election. this was an excuse for having lost an election. >> wait. are you angry with mr. comey because of his russia investigation? >> i just wants somebody that's competent. i am a big fan of the fbi. i love the fbi. >> are you a fan of him taking up the investigation? >> i think that -- about the hillary clinton investigation? >> no, about the russia investigation. >> let me tell you. as far as i'm concerned, i want
that thing to be absolutely done properly. when i did this now, i said, i probably maybe will confuse people. maybe i'll expand that. you know, i'll lengthen the time because it should be over w. it should have been over with a long time ago because all it is is an excuse. but i said to myself i might even lengthen out the investigation. but i have to do the right thing for the american people. he's the wrong man for that position. >> joining us now for legal analysis of what you just heard is former federal prosecutor joyce vance. and david fromm and john harwood. and joyce vance, to the legal theory that we seem to be hearing from rudy giuliani and possibly it is what we will eventually hear from the president, that moment could not be obstruction of justice and he
couldn't be describing an obstruction of justice to lester holt when he was thinking about the russia investigation because later as he goes on, he says that he knew the investigation would continue and he just thought james comey was the wrong man for the job. >> it seems like a fabricated defense. i suppose it is what you do when you know the real facts and you know that the president has given an interview where he's given a very persuasiveness he chose to fire jim comey. you realize months down the road, oops, that was the wrong thing to say. so they try to look around at what else was said during that interview and see if they can craft a new version of what was said. and the problem for them is that at the end when the president says, i know the investigation
will go on he talks about the fact that it had gone on for much too long, that it should have been over, and it's clear that the import of his full statement is he would like to see that investigation come to an end and he, in fact, takes steps to end it. >> john harwood, the president had a strange twitter morning, even for him. an outpouring of tweets about the status of the investigation and what's happening with white house personnel. a lot of tweets about john mcgahn being fired, which the president was making clear was his decision. but he tweeted, ivanka trump and jared kushner had nothing to do with the pushing out of john mcgahn. just a smooth running machine with changing parts. it is impossible to read that with a straight face. but the president seems very concerned with the perception of how this white house is working,
especially with the exit of don mcgahn. >> it is routine for the president to protest stories that turn out to have been true. the president gives every indication at this moment of feeling incredible pressure from the mueller investigation, from the southern district of new york investigation, from other legal activity going on in new york, the manhattan district attorney and the new york attorney general. and he is alone in the white house venting, trying divert attention, trying to cloud the credibility of people who were coming after him. but the dominant impression you have is somebody who knows that the hounds are approaching his room and he doesn't quite know what to do about it. and a lot of these tweets didn't really make sense. they didn't reflect a real connection with reality or rationality.
there wasn't a logic to a lot of the things he was saying and i think, you know, the country is watching this play out in real-time. it is not pretty. >> david, the president is trying a new impeachment defense, and that is you cannot impeach a president if he's doing a good job. >> what is so striking about that defense is that the president is grappling with a political reality. and i think to echo what john said, what the president is recognizing is not only is he facing tougher law enforcement challenges, but it's now almost the first of september, the election campaign is coming to an end. i think he's looking at polling that shows bad results for the president. it is striking when you watch that lester holt tape. but even compared to a year and a half ago, he seems impaired. he was calmer and more fluent even when talking to lester holt than he is today. there is a tremendous
accumulating pressure on him. it is not just legal. it is political. he is preparing for the argument he expects after november when clearly he expects to face at least a democrat house, maybe a democratic house and senate. >> joyce vance, the president is venturing into legal scholarship tonight in his interview with bloomberg he says i view it as an illegal investigation. i'm not saying anything. i'm just telling you this. you read the great scholars, the great legal. there should have never been a special counsel. your reaction to that? >> he's just wrong when he says that. the reason that we use special counsels in our federal criminal justice system or previously independent counsels is when we have a criminal investigation that the justice department needs to conduct but the people who would be in charge of the investigation have a conflict of interest and they need to recuse. so we make provision for this sort of situation where when it's something that so prevads the entire justice department, you can have someone who is not employed by government who takes that investigation over.
it is worth noting, lawrence, i know you remarked a lot on this when it happened, universally there are people in the republican party, from newt gingrich on who lauded the appointment of robert mueller to run this investigation. there wasn't even a whiff of claims that it was an illegal process at that point in time from anyone other than the self-interest of the president of the united states who never wanted to see this investigation happen. >> and john harwood, the president, again, tweeted something that is inconceivable from any other presidency. the white house counsel has not left. his successor has not been named. the president says i am very excited about the person who will be taking the place of don mcgahn as white house counsel. i liked don, but he was not responsible for me not firing bob mueller or jeff sessions. so much fake reporting and fake news.
two big things to go into there. he'sics sited about someone he has not named and we have ever reason to believe he has not found that there actually at this point there is no one to take that job is as likely as not. but then this pushing the idea that he did not stop me from firing bob mueller or jeff sessions, the president is not disputing that he thought about it or tried to and maybe he wants to claim that he stopped himself. >> that's what's so disturbing about these notes, lawrence. he is playing out some sort of dialogue within his own head. it didn't make any sense to sit there and say i'm excited about someone that i haven't selected yet. he had other tweets today where he was saying, oh, yeah, and i can't emphasize enough how fake the news is. and he talked about fake books and all -- these are all transparent attempts by the president to deny the reality that's closing in on him.
and so when he talks about the great legal minds say that we shouldn't have had a special counsel or it's illegal, that's not connected with consulting any legal minds. that is a primal impulse on his part of self-protection. now that he sees that the special counsel has put him in danger. he's not hard to read. when he talks about, oh, jeff sessions, what kind of a man is he? he shouldn't have recused himself. he is frightened because he didn't have an attorney general who would turn off the switch on this investigation. and that's what he is complaining against. >> there is a lot of speculation he had a specific target in mind on a tweet this morning attacking as he calls it the enemy of the people, the so-called fake news. he specified this includes fake books which come out about me all the time, always anonymous sources and are pure fiction.
so he's talking about you there, david. >> i know. i cannot get him to use my name in a tweet. it just makes such a difference. >> i miss it myself. he used to attack me all the time. he hasn't done it in a long time and i miss it. there is a lot of speculation he's worried about a book coming out on september 11th that is an inside the trump white house book and he seems to be possibly ramping up for some kind of defense of that. >> right. that seems so right. i like john harwood's description of this. it is like golum in lord of the rings, constantly reassuring himself and reminding himself that everything is going to be okay. but i think the new tone that is different, he is thinking about this not just as a legal problem now, but as a political problem. that may be the reason it is difficult to recruit a new white house counsel. the new white house counsel will have to testify in front of very hostile committees and that is going to be an awkward,
inconvenient and maybe career damaging event that if you are trying to recruit somebody who has things to lose, which is what reputation to lose, clients to lose, that person may be very reticent. >> have you figured out whether joyce vance is available? >> i'm going to bow out for that one. >> okay. but we're going to need you here, joyce. >> thanks for starting off our discussion tonight. when we come back, donald trump and michael cohen were reportedly trying to buy everything in the pecker safe. and lindsey graham has a new defense of donald trump that is so ridiculous that he actually had to specify that it is not a joke. i get it all the time. "have you lost weight?" of course i have-
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>> the move by mr. trump and mr. cohen indicated just how concerned they were about all the information amassed by the company, american media and its chairman, david pecker, a loyal trump all rye who cooperated with investigators. donald trump never did end up buying that trove of dirt, which according to the times includes
stories about mr. trump's marital lows and lawsuits related, story notes and lists of sensitive sources. some tips about alleged affairs and get this, allegations of unscrupulous golfing. >> i need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend david, you know, so that -- i'm going to do that right away. i have actually come up -- >> give it to me. >> and i've spoken to allen weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up. >> so what are we going to do. >> yes.
and it's all the stuff, all the stuff because, you know, you never know where that company -- you never know where he's going to be. >> david gets hit by a truck. >> correct. so i'm all over that. >> donald trump and michael cohen hint about buying the entire vault from david pecker with the support and guidance of allen weisselberg. they have been granted immunity in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors in their case against michael cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and confessed in court that he committed those crimes with donald trump, with the intention of affecting the outcome of the presidential election. joins us now, chief strategist for mitt romney's 2012 campaign and columnist at the washington post and an msnbc contributor. ruth, apparently they didn't pull off the deal to buy the entire safe load of material. so i think we can expect to be learning more of what was in that safe. >> the magnificent vault. i think this is one of those many trump moments where we need
to take a step back and just reflect on the amazingness of this moment where think what other presidential candidate or actual president could have a vault full of "national enquirer" decades of information about him. this seems like a little bit more of a potential political problem for the president than a legal one since we already have knowledge of cohen's allegations that this was a crime that he confessed to and that he did it on behalf of and at the instruction of the president for the purpose of influencing the election.
but gosh golly, to have a notion that there were not simply two kind of random related problematic events but a whole safe load of them, that's just pretty remarkable. >> stewart stevens, it is striking that the president himself is talking about impeachment more and more. he's now talking about it in every interview he does. he became the first president in history last week in an interview with fox news to say if i ever got impeached. no other president was ever led into that particular phrasing in an interview before. here he is tonight with bloomberg talking about inl peachment saying you can't impeach a president if the president is doing a good job. all of this talk from the president has erupted after he learned that michael cohen was pleading guilty, after michael cohen implicated the president in federal court himself and after the president learned that david pecker is under an immunity agreement with prosecutors and all of the contents of that safe are presumably available to prosecutors. >> yeah.
it's pretty amazing. we sort of have to stop and look at how we got here and just the extraordinariness of it which gets lost in a moment to moment. this defense that you can't impeach someone who is popular i think would work better if he was popular. the majority of american people don't approve of donald trump's job performance, don't approve of him. i mean, he's somewhere around 40%. so it just doesn't really hold up. i think he's floundering around here trying to come up with pretty much any reason that he shouldn't be in the position that he is in. but it shouldn't surprise anybody, including republicans because this is pretty much the same donald trump that has existed for a long time, and they had a good insight into the primary and the general election of what he was going to be like. and this is a bargain that was struck. >> and, ruth, it's the same donald trump who lindsey graham during the primaries, ted cruz and others said he was unfit to
be president and he's unfit to be president because of suspicions about the kinds of things that now have been proven and some confessed to donald trump saying last week that, oh, yeah, i knew about the payments to the women. but i knew about it, as he put it, later. as stewart says, this person was kind of an open book, even though the "national enquirer" did what it could to keep that book closed for so long. >> it was a sealed safe but an open book. everything that we're seeing about donald trump now is consistent with what he demonstrated to us during the campaign and what we were able
to learn about him during the campaign. i think that the more astonishing transformation is that one that you elude to, which is the old lindsey graham truth telling trump criticizing lindsey graham and new trump loving, trump excusing, trump enabling lindsey graham. what we have been talking a lot about, senator john mccain this week, what a disappointment the new lindsey graham would be to senator mccain. >> and stewart, what do you make of what we've seen lindsey graham do just in the last couple of months, especially the last couple of weeks. somebody who said holy hell to pay if you think about firing jeff session. now lindsey graham enabling the firing of jeff sessions saying of course the president deserves an attorney general who he can have confidence in. >> well, look, it's someone who has admired senator graham, it makes my heart hurt and my head
hurt. i just don't understand it. they all served with senator session. they all seemed to like senator sessions. it seems to be the sin senator sessions committed here is actually doing his job that he was appointed to do and caring more about that job than about serving a political patron, which, you know, i would have thought that the senator graham that i admire would applaud that. it is just one of these confounding things that you wonder when you look back on it a couple of years from now is this going to be a moment he feels good about and reflects the best of him. >> donald trump is not a better president now than he was when lindsey graham was defending the attorney general. if anything, there was much more reason to be supporting the attorney general and lindsey graham has done a complete reversal. thank you both for much for
joining us tonight. when we come back, are you having trouble, anyone having trouble keeping track of all of the scandals of donald trump, the trump administration, the trump cabinet, the trump family? of all people, the house republicans have helpfully compiled an almost complete list of all the trump scandals that they think should be investigated or, i should say, will be investigated if democrats win control of the house. and congressman eric swallwell will join us on that next. (burke) at farmers, we've seen almost everything so we know how to cover almost anything. even "vengeful vermin." not so cute when they're angry. and we covered it. talk to farmers.
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if you are having trouble keeping track of the very long list of trump scandals and trump administration scandals, here is something that really helps. according to axios, republicans are circulating a spreadsheet among themselves listing all of the trump scandals they have refused to investigate as they prepare for what democrats might investigate if democrats take pack the house in november. here is a republicans list of potential trump investigations according to axiox. trump tax returns, trump family businesses, trump's dealings with russia, the payment to stormy daniels, james comey's firing, treasury sex tear business dealings, white house staff personal e-mail use, cabinet secretary travel office expenses and other misused perks. discussion of classified information at mar-a-lago, jared kushner's ethics law compliance.
the travel ban family separation policy, hurricane response in puerto rico, election security and hacking attempts and white house security clearances. republicans may hope that the list will scare the trump base to the polls to protect donald trump from any of those investigations, but as democratic congressman tweeted today, house gop went so far to make a list of objectionable conduct by donald trump. so if they know, why won't they investigate this stuff? joining us now congressman eric swallwell. that was one of your angrier tweets about this, but it is kind of extraordinary to watch the republicans basically draw up the preliminary outlines of an overall indictment of the
ethics of the trump administration, the trump family and then say the danger to the country is that this will be investigated if democrats are elected. >> good evening, lawrence. you almost went into brian william's hour there going through that list. but what was so concerning for me was that they know. it is as if a lawyer asked their client, you know, tell me everything that you did and they compile this long list of their client's exposure. except, that's the problem. the republicans view donald trump as their client, as someone who they are supposed to protect. and they have put this list out there to their donors, to their base as a reason to keep the majority to protect the president from it. and so thank you for the list, i say. and i can assure the american people if democrats are given the responsibility of leading,
we will look into all of this alarming conduct because we do believe that corruption is keeping us back from addressing issues of protecting health care, making sure paychecks grow and protecting our environment. so thank you to the republicans, but we'll do the right thing with the list. >> and you may add a thing or two to that listing including wilber ross's strange business dealings since he has been in office. i want to get your reaction to something the president said about impeachment. he's obviously worried about a democratic house beginning impeachment proceedings against him. he said you cannot impeach a president who is doing a good job. what is your reaction to that? >> he shouldn't worry. we're not going to impeach a president that's doing a good job. the problem, though, is he is not a president doing a good job. what we can assure him is that we will give him the fairest
investigation that he's never given anyone, that there will not be a rush to judgment, that we will conduct thorough investigations. and if he has crossed red lines, he's not above the law, and we will make sure an impenetrable bi partisan case is made to the people. >> and the president now is talking about impeachment more than anyone else in washington, more than any other elected official in washington. he's done it in his fox news interview. he did it again in his bloomberg interview today, talked about impeachment repeatedly. he offered the theory on impeachment that not only that you cannot impeach a president who is doing a good job, but that there is a very high bar to get over and that all legal scholars agree that it is impossible to reach that and anything like that in what we've seen against the evidence against donald trump. what is your reaction to the president's notion that there is
nothing out there yet that would begin to suggest the possibility of impeachment? >> there is certainly a lot out there, lawrence, to investigate and probe. and, again, we will do that. but the reason he's talking about impeachment is because he doesn't want to talk about what every day americans want to talk about and what will go the polls on, that their health care costs go up as open enrollment starts this fall, that wages are in decline and that only the wealthiest have benefitted from his tax cuts as well as that right now, lawrence, what we're seeing in this country is that hard working people continue to work hard and it is not adding up to much. over 70% of americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account. he doesn't want us to talk about any of that or the fact that he just denied millions of federal workers a pay increase that they rightfully deserve for working so hard. we will talk about those issues. but we will also be able to walk and chew gum and investigate his conduct. >> thank you very much for joining us tonight.
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possibly because he is the only lawyer in the united states senate who has appeared before the senate as a lawyer, as a house of representatives prosecutor in the senate's impeachment trial of bill clinton. congressman lindsey graham lost that case, but he used it as the launching pad for his first campaign for united states senate which he won, which was probably the whole point of the senate trial for lindsey graham who now refuses to apply the same moral and ethical standards to donald trump that he applied to bill clinton. senate graham is now doing a very lawyerly job of trying to undernine robert mueller's investigation of the president while pretending to defend it. here is what he said this morning. >> here is what i will tell the president. there is no scenario where you can end this investigation, the mueller investigation, through some political intrigue and survive.
that's the end of you. the only person in america that can clear donald trump is mueller. >> you said you have faith in mueller. >> i do. >> if mueller finds something out and it is not collusion. >> then he'll act on it. >> all of that sounds good, but lindsey graham has now reversed his possession on protecting attorney general jeff sessions and is supporting donald trump's desire to get rid of jeff sessions after the midterm. getting rid of jeff sessions means that robert mueller would have a new boss, a new boss loyal to donald trump. a new boss either as acting attorney general or an attorney general confirmed by the republican senate who would be able to limit robert mueller's investigation without ever closing it done and who would also be able to take robert mueller's final written report of his investigation and lock it in the attorney general's safe
never to be seen by anyone. lindsey graham knows that you can't really support the mueller investigation if you are in favor of giving robert mueller a new boss in the justice department who will protect donald trump. after this break, joyce vance will analyze lindsey graham's new legal defense against donald trump against the charge of collusion. and when lindsey graham offered this defense today, he actually had to specify that he does not mean it as a joke. it's time for the 'biggest sale of the year' on the new
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donald trump and the trump campaign against the charge of collusion with russians during the presidential election. >> i say this as a joke but kind of a half of a joke, to collude you've got to sit down, come up with a plan and stick with it. trump's not good at that. >> joyce vance is back with us. and what do you make of lindsey graham's half of a joke, as he calls it? >> it's actually not a very good joke or maybe the joke ends up being on someone in the trump fam male. because when senator graham is talking about collusion we know that the federal charge would really be conspiracy. and the ens of a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit a criminal act. so it's really pretty simple. it could be as simple as the russians offering to provide election assistance and someone on the trump side saying if you
say it's what it is, i love it. >> and from the graham defense is since donald trump is bad at everything, he is so bad at trying to commit a crime he can't commit a crime. >> they've been trotting this up as too disorganized to collude. what i was struck by as i went through it minute by minute is within hours of that dump the trump people had chosen their talking points. as chaotic as they were, they had seized on which e-mails to weaponinize, which to use to tell american catholics, for example, that falsely there were insults to them in the dump. they moved very swiftly and effectively. they're not terrible at everything. >> yeah, and joyce, part of david's point there is this was a massive amount of material and they were very, very quick about picking up the best parts of it for them to use.
suggesting some kind of coordination there. >> is certainly suggests it. and of course, we don't know how the work was accomplished. and so it's possible that in this sort of conspiracy situation you can have one party that's very organized and another party that's just along for the ride. because the crime here is this conspiracy, this agreement to do something illegal. we know that when folks get together and agree to do a crime that sets up serious dangers. that's why we have that crime in the first place. it's no different than drug dealers who agree to sell drugs. here the agreement is to defraud the american people. >> and whether it's a crime or not, the whole question of criminal conspiracy is less important than the question of whether the united states is beholden to a foreign power in a way that he shouldn't be. and as we now discover, whether he may beholden to an american tabloid the way he shouldn't be.
>> joyce, to lindsey graham's point here, he's saying he's a strong defender of robert mueller. he always tries to appear that way. but he no longer defends the position of jeff segs as attorney general. so he's advocating a new boss for robert mueller knowing that that new boss can without our knowledge limit robert mueller's investigation in very severe ways. >> it's potentially a dangerous position for mueller because as you accurately point out someone new could come in and could limit without firing mueller, limit the scope of the investigation. one hopes that perhaps senator graham realizes it will be virtually impossible to confirm a new attorney general, and it's unlikely for this scenario to play out. but this president has been so unpredictable except in his focus on ending this investigation that i would not want to try to survive on that slender hope. >> joyce vance, david frum, thank you both for joining us tonight. tonight's "last word" is next. h, agent beekman was one step ahead of them. because he hid his customers' gold in a different box.
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"last word." "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight the president calls robert mueller's probe illegal and won't say in a bloomberg tonight the president calls robert mueller's probe illegal and won't say in a bloomberg interview if attorney general jeff sessions will last beyond the mid-term elections. plus an indiana rally tonight donald trump suggests he might have to get involved and get in there if the justice department and fbi. and despite all this he began the day by calling the white house a smooth running machine. but all signs suggest otherwise. "the 11th hour" on a thursday night begins now. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. i'm ali velshi in for brian williams. day 588 of the trump administration, and after a busy morning of