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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  September 6, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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experience amazing. quickly though, can i show you where we talked to her tonight when we got her on the phone? look. this is where senator harris called from. a closet in the senate. you can see next to the mail cart and the box of pretzels. i'm sorry the cell phone reception was not awesome. but now we know why. all right. that does it for us tonight. we'll see you again tomorrow. now it is time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> when i worked there, they actually had phone booths. but not in the age of the cell phone. >> bring back the land lines. >> that closet is surrounded by marble. that was just the toughest cell phone reception i've heard in a
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while. >> i could make out almost all of what she said. the bit she didn't say, i bet were amazing. >> but i think we're basically filling it all in in context. so it worked is what i can tell you as a viewer out here who was consuming it. rachel, we will begin with some breaking news from the new york times about "the new york times." they are reporting tonight on what their op-ed piece has done inside the white house. and now apparently they have a suspect list that has been narrowed to 12 in the inquisition is underway. we all knew that new york times reporters would not let this lie just because it was "the new york times" editorial page that broke this story. we knew it was coming. >> "the new york times" reporters are on the case. peter baker is going to join us in a minute as soon as we get to it. >> well done, my friend. thank you. >> we have breaking news tonight
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from the new york times about "the new york times" and the panic "the new york times" has created within the white house. the times is reporting that the white house has discussed senator rand paul's idea to use polygraph tests on senior officials of the trump administration. here is the times report tonight. senator rand paul of kentucky recommended that the president force members of his administration to take polygraph examinations, and there was at least briefly some discussion of that among advisers to the president. another option mentioned by people close to mr. trump was asking senior officials to sign sworn affidavits that could be used in court if necessary. one outside adviser said the white house had a list of about 12 suspects. and joining us now by phone is new york times chief white house correspondent peter baker, who is one of the reporters on this article.
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and, peter, this is an extensive look at what "the new york times" has created, the crisis atmosphere it has created inside the trump white house. what more have you learned about the possibility of using lie detector tests and the suspect list of 12? >> well, what i was saying it is not "the new york times" created this crisis. i would say it was the official that wrote the anonymous piece that raised this question of can the president and his staff, are they on the same page and is there, you know, a list of unsung heroes, that's the way the anonymous writer put it, or gutless anonmoss people as the white house put it trying to fool the president from outside. this quiet resistance. that's what's really shaking up the white house here. the idea these affidavits have been broached. they have a list that they're
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sort of working on about who they think it might not be. you saw the extraordinary spectacle today having an officer coming out saying it wasn't me, it wasn't me, it wasn't me. as we all know, that may not be the end of that story. >> peter, it seems judging by your reporting tonight, which is extensive, that you and "the new york times" have not lost any access to information inside the trump white house as a result of "the new york times" publishing that op-ed piece. >> well, there are obviously people in the white house that were very mad at "the new york times" this morning for publishing that. we had nothing to do with it, of course. the reporters who are covering the white house have nothing to do with the editorial page. we learned about it by seeing it on the web, just like everybody else. so, you know, i think a lot of people in the white house understand that, that we're not the same side of the house. we are separate. a lot of people inside the white
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house want to get information out there. we're grateful for that. >> peter, is there any indication that donald trump comprehends the irony of the moment? specifically, the irony of the conversation that you and i are having at this very moment? which is that today with his white house in crisis over people within the white house expressing their dissatisfaction with the trump administration that when they have a meeting about that and when they have a discussion about that and when they reduce their suspect list to 12, that it is immediately leaked to "the new york times" that their suspect list has been reduced to 12. >> yeah. you know, of course it's also in their interest, perhaps, to make clear that anybody that might think about doing the same thing as this author that they are doing to respond, right? a white house wants to have discipline. they don't have any discipline,
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as we see in this white house at the moment. so they're trying to basically send a signal this will not be tolerated. there will be repercussions for anybody that might think about it. you can play it out a couple different ways. it is not clear whether this list or the idea of it will go any where. it is an indication of just how, you know, anxious in exercise this white house is, particularly because you have a president raging in volcanic terms about what he sees as the betrayal of one person, maybe more. >> reporters are working hard at getting the white house reaction to this new york times article and what's happening inside the white house because of this new york times article includes a suspect list of 12 people at this point within the white house that the chief of staff, john kelly, apparently has assembled. does that mean that you, new york times reporters, are also trying to go after the answer to
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the question of who wrote the op-ed piece for the new york times? >> that's a great question. if i were you, i'd ask the same question. we don't talk about our reporting until we publish. we don't talk about what we're i working on until we're ready to say something and print. i'm not going to get into that. we don't have anything to do with this op-ed. they are separate departments. we don't know who the person is from that. >> peter, has the times put any restrictions on you, on what you can investigate about this story? >> well, again, i'm not going to get into what we're doing or what we're not doing. that's really the kind of thing we don't do in general. i don't think i'm going to go there tonight. >> peter baker, thank you for much for joining us tonight. we really appreciate it. well, they're all denying it. we have, as of this minute, 27 denials from senior officials in the trump administration. they are all denying they are
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the author of the op-ed piece that appeared in print today. here is the print edition under the headline "the quiet resistance inside the trump administration" the accompanying art shows four anonymous members of the trump administration trying to hold the country, trying to hold america back from falling off a cliff into a black hole. for some of the names on the list of 27 trump officials denying authorship, it was a chance to remind the media they have jobs inside the trump administration like linda mcmahn. denials from most of these people are completely believable because most of them are obviously incapable of the thinking and concern for the country expressed in the op-ed piece. so we didn't need steve ma knew chin's denial, but it is
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laughable to think this could come from the secretary. that is not the only thing that is laughable about the worst secretary of the treasury in history. unfortunately for the administration in denial now, they are working in the place that constantly issues the least believable denials in america. and i don't just mean the trump administration. the history of the denial in washington tells us that washington denials have no meaning. at the top of the mountain of meaningless denials in washington, is the multidecade denial by mark felt that he was deep throat, the source of the extraordinary reporting on the watergate scandal in the nixon administration. mark felt finally publically admitted he was deep throat because nothing is distrusted in washington more than the denial washington reporters actually invented a description for the kind of denial that they must
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transcribe and report in their newspapers, but they do not believe. they call it the nondenial denial. now that term could only be invented in a town where denials mean absolutely nothing. think of all of the washington players who had repeatedly denied that they were planning to run for president while they were planning to run for president. and there is a constant stream of policy denials that everyone quickly forgets, like democrats denying they were going to drop the public option from the affordable care act right up until the day before they dropped the option from the affordable care act or the endless recurring denials from republicans that tax cut wills increase the deficit and then tax cuts always increase the deficit and the denials are forgotten. what do we do with today's denials. most condemned the anonymous author of the article and they condemned "the new york times." in other words, they said everything donald trump wanted them to say.
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so let's drop all of them from the suspect list. most of them are obviously incapable of writing such an article anyway, so we're not losing any big suspects. on a day when donald trump desperately wanted every official to not just deny, but attack the anonymous author, attack the contents of the article and attack "the new york times," the senior members of the trump administration who refused to do that have become all the more interesting tonight. and that is a group of 12. but that group of 12 does not include some people who couldn't possibility be the author of the piece like linda mcmahon or betry carson. this is not john kelly's group of 12. it includes people who would be very unlikely to take a risk like that, like budget director nick vulvaney. or all section aczar who is new to the job.
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and even though white house counsel don mcgahn has been in big fights with the president, he is very busy these days trying to get brett kavanaugh confirmed to the supreme court. don mcgahn probably wouldn't want to be anywhere near the possible legal can of worms the op-ed piece opens up. so of the 12 officials who did not do what donald trump wanted them to do today, we are left with three. dan coats, jim mattis and kellyanne conway, who denied authorship of the article, but they did not condemn the article. they did not condemn the author of the article, and they did not condemn "the new york times." now, viewers who were with us last night know that i worked through an elaborate process of elimination and analysis of the text of the article to end up with dan coats as my educated
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guess. and it was only a guess as the most likely author of the piece. dan coats denial today reduces my confident in that guess only slightly. dan coats is the only person who issued a denial that was actually a two-person denial. it was person saying speculation that "the new york times" op-ed was written by me or my principal deputy is also. we have insisted that the entire intelligence community remain focussed on our mission to provide the president and policymakers with the best intelligence possible. well okay. but i, for one, never mentioned your principal deputy. i don't know if someone else did. but okay. tonight with all these denials pouring in, the most interesting silence in the trump administration is coming from the man who occupies the cabinet level position of john kelly. john kelly is alone in his choice to not deny authorship of
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the op-ed piece. the washington post is reporting in oval office huddles, john f. kelly, john bolton, sara huk key sanders and jared kushner, among other aids, tried to convince the president he could trust him and others in his inner circle. they argued it was likely a lower-level official. there is donald trump surrounded by people who he does not trust telling him that his betrayier is not only one of them but is not in their category. and one of the people in that oval office huddle telling the president that he could trust them, then told the washington post about the oval office huddle, proving that donald trump can't trust anyone in that room. tonight's washington post report from inside the trump white house says, quote, trump's aids challenged little of the column's substance, indeed. seen yr officials have i don't think long acted to slow walk the president.
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there is now no way for donald trump to forget that there is, as "the new york times" op-ed headline put it, quote, quiet resistance inside the trump administration. joining us now, david corn, washington bureau chief for mother jones, an opinion writer for the washington post and co-author of the book "one nation under trump" and the author of "trump-nation." tim, i want to go to you first because you know donald trump well. you got sued by him. you beat him in that lawsuit. here he is surrounded by people tonight who are saying trust us. it certainly wasn't any one of us. and then immediately one of those people leaks the dialogue
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of that huddle in the oval office to the washington post. "the new york times," the newspaper that created this situation for the president by publishing the op-ed piece tonight has hot breaking news reporting about what people inside the trump white house are telling "the new york times" about the trump white house's own suspect list. does donald trump get it? does he understand that they're all leaking and he can't trust any of them? >> of course he did. of course he does. and he never trusts anyone to begin with. one of the people in that group is his son-in-law, the guy married to his daughter and he apparently doesn't trust his son-in-law. when he sued me at one point, you know, he sued me because i had anonymous sources. he wanted to know who my anonymous sources were. they deposed me for two days. at one point his lawyers began reading a list to me of trump insiders and people outside the organization that he was to to find out if i had spoken to them. after he got to about the fifth person i realized they were on a fishing expedition and i said i'm not going to answer this question.
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my lawyers intervened and we moved on. and what's ironic about that is he's employing the same principal right now in the white house. he is trying to fair it out, anonymous sources. and it's -- the man that's doing this is someone that spent the last five decades anonymous offering gossip and malignant rumors to every reporter in new york and washington about his family, about business competitors, about celebrities and politicians in order to damage them and enhance himself. he's adopted fake personas. he's used the name john miller and john baron to promote those stories. his father used to go around in work under the persona mr. dream to anonymously look at properties. this is an old trump tool of the trade. they have been doing it forever. and he's now going after people who have used the same devices
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he has because he's profoundly paranoid. >> and david corn, the advice he's getting is just laughable at every level. the idea that there is an affidavit that you could get someone to sign that would in any way create a legal jeopardy is an utter fantasy. there is no legal case in which to issue this affidavit. affidavits are part of civil lawsuits. they can be part of other judicial proceedings. they can be part of criminal cases. there is no case here. anyone there can sign an affidavit there saying anything, and they won't incur the slightest legal jeopardy. >> it is like his dependance on ndas, he thinks it can work. he's entering into a wilderness of mirrors at the moment because he doesn't know who he can trust and he wants to have a leak investigation. that reminds me of two things about the nixon days. i broke a story based on records that became available that during watergait nixon ordered
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the fbi to find out who the leakers were to the washington post to woodward and bernstein. guess who was put in charge of that investigation in the fbi? you know where i'm going. you don't remember the story, but you know the answer. it was mark felt. he was given the task of finding himself to be deep throat. so whoever is working for trump now, he has to be a suspect for being part of that quiet cabal, the resistance. can you trust anyone in the white house to ferret out somebody that might be part of this inner conspiracy. this is tailor made for trump and his paranoia to hit 11, 12, 13 on a scale because he's not going to be able to trust anyone, which he can't to begin with. watergate began because nixon started to find out who the leakers were. so this is very historical. but also i mean, it will not end well. that's all i can say.
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this will not end well if you have trump by himself being fed his own paranoia fantasies. >> apparently is john kelly. that doesn't mean we know that john kelly is some day going to be revealed as the source of this. but john kelly, who has not publically issued a denial of being the author, is according to tonight's new york times reporting kind of leading the investigation within the white house. he's the man walking around with the list of 12 on paper, the suspect list, the active suspect list in this case. and he is also the man who you're calling at the washington post bob woodward revealed once again in bob woodward's book to have referred to the president as an idiot and that is apparently a common reference by john kelly. it's one that we have heard reported before. so donald trump is sitting there tonight with bob woodward's reporting about john kelly's
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attitude toward him and he's in a huddle in the oval office with john kelly with the suspect list of 12, and that very huddle is then reported in your newspaper, the washington post. >> you have a feeling here. i'm up here in boston, so i'm thinking of bob rert b. parker thriller. it would be a perfect thriller theme to have a guy investigate the leak being the leaker. i was sitting here thinking watching this whole story that at least 50% of the news generated by the trump administration has nothing to do with anything the trump administration is doing. it's all about trump. and what that suggests is that the chaos that bob woodward has reported on, the chaos that piece talks about really is chaos because there is this constant machine of paranoia, of crazy charges that lead to more
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paranoia and then utter mistrust inside the white house. people stabbing each other in the side, in the back, in the front. and i don't know how this can operate, and clearly it's not operating very well. one other point i'd make about your theory about dan coats, it is very clear that the author of this thing is some kind of strong economic conservative. that suggests it might be coats or is just somebody mouthing standard republican boilerplate on economics, but they really go out of their way to defend that aspect of the trump administration, which proves that the reason they are still hanging around is they think it is worth having a dangerous president if you can get tax cuts. >> and e.j., you worked for "the new york times." you saw work for the washington post. i want you to take us inside these institutions. tell us what you think it means for "the new york times" to describe this author as a senior
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official. how low could that go from the very top, the cabinet level in the trump administration? >> you know, in journalism, these particular terms, as you know, can be rather loose. but i cannot imagine that the times was going to be loose with the term "senior official" when they published a piece like this. it would be hard for me to believe that they would create -- they knew they would create enormous stir with this piece, that it would have an enormous impact, particularly with the fact that they -- people inside the administration were talking about at least or at least in some way discussing the 25th amendment. that's an enormous bombshell in that piece. so i presume it's got to be somebody pretty high because in something where the stakes are this high, they're not going to mess around with the word senior official.
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>> donald trump is in montana tonight in a campaign trying to help out a senate campaign where, of course, he's talking about "the new york times," which i doubt is a big issue in montana tonight, but let's listen to what he said about that. >> the latest active resistance is the op-ed published in the failing new york times by an anonymous -- really an anonymous gutless coward. he was -- nobody knows who the hell he is or she. although they put he. for the sake of our national security, "the new york times" should publish his name at once. i think their reporters should go and investigate who it is. that would actually be a good scoop. [ applause ] >> that would be a good scoop.
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unelected deep state operatives who deny the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself. >> so tim o'brian, there is a peek inside the mind of donald trump tonight. it is too bad he did not rehearse the pronunciation anonymous which will come up a lot for a while. there is the inspector clue sew at work. he says -- the times referred to it as a he. he said nobody knows who the hell he is or she. although they put he. that's probably a little disguise. that means it's she. okay. so he's got it blocked down to she. and then in the next sentence he says, "the new york times" should publish his name at once. and so there is detective trump at work, tim. take us inside the mind of donald trump in this situation. >> let's unbundle it a little bit, too.
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he's either tired or he's stressed out. there is no doubt that he's focussing on this much more than he's focussing on trade agreements with canada, with national security with north korea, what's happening with migrant children and their families at the border. he is focussing on the detail of his persona and his reputation far more than he is on the wheels of the federal government because this kind of a thing cuts to the core of his own paranoia. he wants to be the center of attention. when he is the center of attention, he only wants praise. and when the people around him start to say damaging things, it becomes the cane mutiny. he wants to know who stole the strawberries. >> thank you for starting us off tonight. and coming up, donald trump, as you just saw, is campaigning in montana. but you'd never know he was
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and here is breaking news from montana. here is the president of the united states tonight doing something you have never seen a president of the united states do, defending his mental health. >> one after another, donald trump, he's lost it up here. you know, it's pretty tough. i stand up here giving speeches for an hour and a half, many times without notes.
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and then they say he's lost it. yet, we have 25,000 people showing up to speeches. >> the president, who denies he's lost it, is also reportedly volcanic in his anger tonight. he is becoming increasingly paranoid also, if that is possible. and this is not just because of the anonymously sourced new york times op-ed or the release of quotes from bob woodward's new book that portray the president as unfit to serve. for some times donald trump carried a list with him. he would basically be like, we've got to get rid of them. the snakes are everywhere, but we're getting rid of them. mental health professionals have sounded the alarm. brandy lee, the yale university psychiatrist who edited a book about donald trump's mental state last year told us, two white house officials actually contacted me in late october stating that trump was scaring
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them, that he was unraveling. while the president conducts his own hunt for the author of the new york times op-ed, one white house official told "politico," if the goal was to moderate trump's behavior, it will do the opposite. here is former cia director john brennan on donald trump's state of mind. >> i think you see just a continual sort of increase in the concern, the extraordinary measures that people are taking. i do think things will get worse before they get better. i don't know how donald trump is going to react to this. a wounded lion is a very dangerous animal. and i think donald trump is wounded. >> joining our discussion now, the senior editor from the atlantic and tim o'brian is back with us. and, so, david from, there is the president of the united states. he goes up to help a montana senate candidate, spends his time talking about "the new york times" and his own mental health. >> it is a weird rally, weirder
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even than the usual rallies. in the rally he had kind words for the congressman who body slammed ben jacobs then with the guardian. and trump seemed to praise the use of violence against the journalist. he also raised the spector of his own impeachment, something presidents do not walk about and warned that if the democrats do well that his impeachment will be something that might become a reality. and that's again something presidents don't like to concede because it leads to the thought, well, they must have something if they're thinking of impeaching you. you know, when the president praised himself for speaking endlessly without notes, presidents -- other presidents, bill clinton had notes. barack obama, you value your words so much. the fact that donald trump is speaking without notes is a sign of trouble.
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>> we have seen bill clinton and barack obama speak without notes as president and as candidates and they could do it perfectly coherently. let's go to the point that david just mentioned, and that is the president of the united states talking about impeachment. he actually says impeach trump. that's a little clip of this that will live forever. but the reason most presidents have never discussed impeachment is because no one has ever discussed impeachment about most presidents. so it wasn't just the president not talking about it. no one in the country talked about it for most presidents. here is donald trump, flew out to montana tonight to try to help a senate candidate. talks about "the new york times," talks about his mental health and talks about his impeachment. >> i don't even bring it up because i view it as something that, you know, they like to use the impeach word. impeach trump. but he didn't do anything wrong. it doesn't matter.
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we will impeach him. then what you will have is a country that's going to turn in to a third world country because if the opposite party becomes president, every time before it even starts, before you have found out whether or not he or she is going to do a great job, they'll say we want to impeach him and you'll impeach him. it is so ridiculous. >> tim o'brian, so he begins with, i don't even bring it up. >> right. >> he brings up impeachment by beginning with the phrase, i don't even bring it up. >> right. and the president who's governing the country said if the opposite party gets into power we will devolve into a thrld world country. he will get in front of a crowd and talk about things that he's deeply insecure about but say he's not insecure. you could do a mash up of him getting on a stage and saying i'm a really smart guy.
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i went to warden, okay? i'm really rich. okay? women love me, okay? because he's insecure about his appeal, his wealth and his intellect. now we can add to that list a president that said i'm really not going to talk about impeachment, but guess what? everyone else is talking about impeachment. he realizes these things are in the air and they're being taken seriously. and he's ingested that. it is now part of what he's worried about. and the real danger of a cornered donald trump is either cornered reputationally or legally is he will begin lashing out. >> and david what the president doesn't seem to understand is that the issue of leaking and the issue of loyalty and the issue of fidelity to the purpose of the presidency is something that is decided at the hiring stage, and this is the person who always talked about the best people. i get the best people. i will get the best people. these are the people who he got.
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these are the people who he wanted. these are the people who when they have a huddle with him tonight in the oval office about their suspect list of 12, at least one of them immediately leaks the discussion in that huddle to the washington post. >> well, normally when leaks happen, they happen in administrations where there are very intense conflicts. the leakers are fighting a battle in front of the president. epically the reagan administration was like this. there are strong differences of opinions and the combatants and the president was very much a hands off manager. and so the newspapers would fill up with the tax by one senior staffer on another. not on the president. what most presidents are good at, you get to be president by being a team builder. it is a gigantic organization to build a presidential campaign. you have to win votes from millions of people and you are usually pretty good at winning the loyalties of millions of people. george bush had the ability to
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make people care about him and make his success their success. i think barack obama did the same thing. the clinton administration was bumpier than that. the reagan administration was more bumpier. but the president gains loyalty, not just by the way he hires and not by punishing people, but by inspiring people. that is clearly the thing that donald trump is unable to do, even among his closest intimates even within the people nearest to him in his room. >> and as anyone who has worked for an elected official can tell you, there is nothing that binds the loyalty more strongly than admiration for the elected official that those people are working for. and that apparently is what does not exist in the trump administration. david, tim, thank you both for joining us tonight. and when we come back, robert mueller's investigation has intersected now with the brett kavanaugh confirmation hearing.
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i'm saying right now that i'm releasing committee confidential documents. this is about the closest i'll probably ever have in my life to an i am spart kus moment. >> any senator who releases confidential proceeding of the senate, including the business and proceedings of committees, subcommittees and offices shall be liable if a senator to suffer expulsion from the body. >> bring it. bring it. >> so i would correct the senator's statement. there is no rule. there is clearly a rule that applies. >> then apply the rule and bring the charges. bring it. >> mr. chairman -- >> the i am spart kus moment came when his democratic colleagues publically joined in his defiance of the committee rules, which completely eliminated senator's already totally empty threat of a possibly disciplinary act. he got the kind of questions we
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should expect a candidate to get when he has been nominated by a president who is an unindicted coconspirator in a current federal criminal case. >> the president trump claims he has an absolute right to pardon himself. does he? >> has there ever been a statute that protected the president against due process of law. >> when president nix ton fired cox, did he violate the law or constitution? >> can a sitting president be required to respond to a subpoena? >> brett kavanaugh didn't answer any of those questions, but if he is confirmed to the supreme court, he will probably have to answer the question, must the president comply with a subpoena to give testimony? joyce vance and nera will join us next.
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she was also hillary clinton's policy director during the 2008 presidential campaign. it seems as if the probably most immediate question that could easily come up this year in the supreme court if judge brett kavanaugh is on the bench is that question about a subpoena to the president of the united states. i'm not sure we learned anything about that today. >> there are a lot of questions coming out of the mueller investigation that could end up before the supreme court. so the response you really want to hear judge brett kavanaugh give is i've had no conversations with anyone about the mueller investigation. that wasn't his initial response when he spoke with senator harris. he cleaned it up a little bit today. but still that initial response where he stumbled so badly i think opened him up to a will the -- a lot of questions. >> he did admit to discussing it
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with judges in his courthouse, which i find more peculiar, since that's the courthouse of jurisdiction over these cases involving the special prosecutor. they could easily be sitting there hearing an appeal on one of these cases and he would have already been discussing the investigation with possibly some of those appeals court judges. >> i suppose he could say that they were innocuous conversations that weren't in any way improper, but, of course -- and i think what you're suggesting here is what you really need in a case like this is absolute integrity and no possibility of questioning the integrity of justices who will hear this case. so it's critically important that the senate before it issues its advice and consent in regard to this nominee fully explore all of these issues. >> all right. let's listen to what might be the single most important thing that we know about brett kavanaugh. >> do you want to see the court overturn roe v. wade? >> well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that's will happen, and that
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will happen automatically, in my opinion, because i am putting pro-life justices on the court. i will say this, it will go back to the states and the states will then make a determination. >> neera tanden, that sounds like what brett kavanaugh's honest answer might actually be to questions about roe versus wade. >> i think this is really a critical issue and why democrats find it so important to get the record out because in "the new york times" today from the leaked e-mails of judge kavanaugh or his e-mails during the bush years, it makes clear that he considers roe v. wade not an established precedent but that is something that is open, again, to be interpreted by a future supreme court. really belying everything he said to susan collins, if we can take her word for truth of their conversation. i think this kabuki theater that he's going to respect the
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precedent of roe is really that, kabuki theatre, and the truth is that this is the one area where donald trump has been telling the truth for years, and that is that it is his intent to move the supreme court to overturn roe. we are just -- we just -- we are just in a political situation where republicans don't want to admit that ahead of the midterm elections, to ensure that democrats become engaged in this, but now we have kavanaugh's own words. his words are that he considers roe something that can be overturned by a future court, one that he would sit on. >> and joyce vance, this is something that presidents when they're campaigning have been very careful to try to protect their supreme court nominees from. they have always tended to say i won't have any litmus test for supreme court justices. that has been the standard line from presidential candidates so that when they've got a supreme court justice, a nominee
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appearing in front of the judiciary committee, we won't be able to run video of them saying exactly what they want their supreme court justice to do. which, of course, we are able to do with donald trump. >> donald trump in so many ways just shows a total failure to understand the importance of independence among the institutions that support the criminal justice system and the courts. it's a failure here with the integrity and the importance of that integrity for the supreme court. so it does cause judge kavanaugh to come under this heightened level of scrutiny, and as neera points out, it's a difficult inquiry here, because he says one thing in public but he said something else in internal deliberations in the white house in a more private setting, and common sense tells you it's those more private conversations where one typically discloses one's truthful feelings. now the senate has to decide whether judge kavanaugh has been truthful as he has spoken with
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them or whether he has tried to mislead them in any way, and that problem is further compounded by the president's statement where he's very clear he won't nominate anyone unless they're committed to reversing roe v. wade. >> and, neera, as with witnesses in court, when they start to sound shaky and unreliable or possibly even deliberately deceptive or untruthful on any particular point, it tends to the rattle the rest of their testimony. we saw this extraordinary moment last night where senator kamala harris tried to get an answer to him have you discussed the mueller investigation with anyone from a particular law firm, a firm associate with the president's defense. couldn't get an answer. there was no answer. he kept banging it back and forth. did not answer it. took 24 hours for him to decide to eventually answer that question, which in the -- with what in the end sounded like a
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no but it was such a tortured process that i'm not sure what that was all about and what brett kavanaugh was worried about in that exchange. >> i mean, obviously brett kavanaugh has been discussing the mueller investigation with a lot of people and he's just obviously confused or can't remember exactly who because that exchange looked like a person who was exceedingly guilty, and maybe it turns out he's not, like he didn't actually have this conversation, but he looked so clearly like he was trying to find the air cover of some answer that -- she turns to him directly and says, you're acting like you did talk to somebody and you just don't want to say. that's how i think everyone in america saw it. but we have to really step back because there is also breaking news tonight that rudy giuliani is confirming that he -- that
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donald trump will not speak and will be required to be subpoenaed if the -- if robert mueller wants to talk to him -- really wants to talk to him, he will have to subpoena. and i think this is what's so obviously crazy about the world we're in. any normal judge would recuse himself at this point, but the fact that brett kavanaugh won't recuse himself is a sign that we should all be deeply troubled by this -- by this -- by this entire nomination process. >> and neera, the breaking news you mentioned on rudy giuliani is, of course, breaking giuliani news, which is to say it ultimately makes no sense. >> it's fair. >> he then gave a conflicting comment to nbc news, which is why i haven't bothered to say anything about it because it sounded like there was a little bit of very, very peculiar giuliani confusion going on. so we'll wait. we'll see what he says tomorrow. >> it's totally fair.
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>> see what he says tomorrow. thank you very much, joyce vance, neera tanden. we'll be right back with tonight's "last word." if this was a real emergency, i'd be freaking out. we are the tv doctors of america. together with cigna reminding you to go, know, and take control of your health. schedule your annual check-up today. like concert tickets or a new snowboard. matt: whoo! whoo! jen: but that all changed when we bought a house. matt: voilà! jen: matt started turning into his dad. matt: mm. that's some good mulch. ♪ i'm awake. but it was pretty nifty when jen showed me how easy it was to protect our home and auto with progressive. [ wrapper crinkling ] get this butterscotch out of here. progressive can't protect you from becoming your parents. there's quite a bit of work, 'cause this was all -- this was all stapled. but we can protect your home and auto when you bundle with us. but we can protect your home and auto that's why capital one iss feel the building something completely different. capital one cafés.
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that's tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 595 of the trump administration and the president's lawyer, rudy giuliani, told the associated

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