tv Deadline White House MSNBC April 10, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
only about the imminent release of the redacted version of the mueller report but on a topic that was until today fodder for the conspiracy theorists and the president's fringeiest allies in the house. today the nation's attorney general saying he thought spying on a political campaign occurred in the investigations into russia interference in the 2016 election. we've been asking on this show if ag barr is donald trump's roy kohn, today it became clear he's more like his devin nunes. >> i think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. >> so you're not suggesting, though, that spying occurred? >> i don't -- well, i guess you could -- i think there was -- spying did occur. yes, i think spying did occur. >> well, let me --
>> the question is whether it was predicated -- adequately predicated and i'm not suggesting it wasn't adequately predicated but i need to explore that. it's my obligation. >> have you any evidence there's anything improper in the investigations? >> i have no specific evidence that i would cite right now, i have questions about it. >> given an opportunity to back down, barr stuck to his guns. >> do you want to rephrase what you're doing? because i think the word "spying" could cause everybody in the cable news ecosystem to freak out, and i think it's necessary for you to be precise with your language here. you normally are and i want to give you a chance to be precise here. >> i'm not sure of all the connotations of that word that you're referring to. but unauthorized surveillance. i want to make sure there was no unauthorized surveillance.
>> stop on this for a minute. the nation's attorney general is not sure about the connotations of the word spying. let that sink in. the "new york times" on barr's comments, quote, it was not immediately clear what mr. barr was referring to and he did not present evidence to back up his statement. the fbi obtained a secret surveillance water on carter page after he left the campaign, and reports suggested it used at least one confidential informer to collect information on campaign associates. "the washington post," quote barr's surprising comments echo attacks president trump has made against the fbi and words provide fresh ammunition to those who have branded the russia investigation an illegitimate attempt to derail trump's presidency. but mark warner had a different reaction. >> i'm flabbergasted by the
attorney general's comments. when you start linking spying with law enforcement or the intelligence community, that sets off red flags everywhere. that's why i think he does a disservice to the men and women who work for the department of justice and the fbi, who if they had not started a counterintelligence investigation into russia's intervention in the 2016 election, they would be skewered, and rightfully so. >> that's where we start today with some of our favorite reporters and friends, joyce vance, natasha bertrand and our table, donna edwards, phil rucker, ron klain, and michael steele. i have to start with you ron klain. the word spying means something. if you're a tourist on the street you can mix up spying
with authorized surveillance. authorized by a fisa warrant signed by the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. but if you're the sitting attorney general and you've actually sat as the country's attorney general before, you don't mix up the word spying with the word authorized surveillance, authorized by a fisa application signed by the sitting deputy attorney general, do you? >> no, you don't, nicole. it was a shame to see bill barr, one of our nation's most respected lawyers, a two-time attorney general. turn in his glasses for a tinfoil hat. what he was talking about was the craziest trump conspiracy theories out there. that only the president's most fringe allies dare to advance. what we know is that this has been investigated five times previously by republican-led committees and nothing came of it. the justice department has been defending its practices here, they've been investigated internally and externally, and
when senator reed in that clip you showed, pressed the attorney general, do you have evidence for this claim, he said, well, no. so it was irresponsible, flaky and way out of right field. >> i hope it's flaky, michael steele, but i saw republicans like jeff sessions under oath before congress push back against jim jordan, mark meadows and people like that when they were calling for a second special counsel, calling for these things. i think we may come to a point where clearing trump on obstruction may be the least damage that william barr did as attorney general. >> that's right. i don't think that anything we heard from the attorney general is surprising, at least not to me. look, he has the job. he has the job for a reason. and he's doing the job that he was hired to do. and at the end of the day, that is to make sure that the president's narrative is not somehow derailed or, you know, stopped in some fashion.
so he sits there in front of the committee and he throws out a highly volatile explosive word. he knew tag gone well when he dropped the spy word on the table what it would do. yes, donald trump appreciated the moment because it's consistent with the other moments that donald trump wants to create around the narrative. now he has the help in the most important office right now in the land with respect to these investigations and finding out the truth to carry that narrative forward. >> joyce vance, people like you have called william barr an institutionalist you said give him the benefit of the doubt. in the last two days in public testimony, are there any new questions that you have, either on the process, where in he took a nonconclusion on the obstruction question from mueller and read through what anyone who read his memo could have predicted he would have done. and then tonight inserting the
word spying about the conduct of the american law enforcement and intelligence community, the most highly regulated and sort of walled off process, this fisa court and fisa applications. in carter page's case, i believe there was one and then three reauthorizations and i think rod rosenstein signed at least a few of those. >> there have been questions about barr stemming from that now notorious memo he wrote on pining on the outcome of this investigation before he was the attorney general. so he's always had that problem. but i think everyone who loves the institution of the department of justice, myself included, i feel like a kid when you're just old enough to realize that there really isn't a santa claus but you want so bad for there to be a santa because you love christmas so much and you hold onto it as much as you can, and it gets increasingly more difficult.
today with barr, that's become an impossibilities. attorney generals don't go in unprepared, they don't go in without preparation and murder boards, so the use of this term spying has to be a deliberate term. a term meant to set people on fire. and barr knows full well there are checks and balances in place both at the fbi and the intelligence community before this form of intelligence collection is used. it's arguable that he doesn't even have any sort of authority to review the way collection was done in the intelligence community. certainly he might have some oversight at doj, but that process has been done in congress repeatedly. there's more review under way by his own inspector general. so this notion he personally will look into spying really does the last little bit to shred his credibility. >> natasha one of the most stunning things about suggesting that spying had taken place is one of the men who authorized
the fisa application sits a few steps from him, rod rosenstein. here's rod rosenstein defending his role in reauthorizing those applications. >> the renewals you signed, list for me the people that briefed you. >> here's one thing that's important for you to understand. people can make all kind of allegations publicly. i'm confident about my conduct throughout this investigation. that matter is under review by the inspector general. >> did you read the application before you signed it? >> i'm not going to comment about any fisa application. >> you won't say to this committee whether you read the document that authorized spying on the trump campaign. >> i refute your classification of what tapping about. >> there's rod rosenstein who's still in the job as dag, there
he is disputing this was spying at all. his new boss, the attorney general, today saying spying did occur. awkward at best, no? >> yeah, and, of course, we saw barr kind of change his story minutes later saying what he meant by spying was actually unauthorized surveillance. so that indicates he wasn't necessarily talking about fisa warrants because they are by definition court authorized surveillance. it's a tool that the intelligence community uses in order to monitor people who are potentially spies on u.s. soil. so i think the rod rosenstein/barr relationship is very -- it's very odd because barr also invoked rosenstein's name today to support the conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice. even though barr is compromised as well because he was a witness in the obstruction of justice investigation. therefore, by clearing the president of obstruction, he clears himself. he's kind of out of the woods on that one. i think going back to how
conflicted barr himself is, this is someone who not only wrote that 19-page memo outlining the reasons why the president could not possibly be investigated for obstruction the way mueller was investigating him. he also wrote to the "new york times" saying there was more of a foundation to investigate the clinton foundation and uranium one scandal than there was to investigate the russia case. and he said for the justice department not to look into those would abdicate their responsibilities. so you get a sense right off the bat how he's going into the job and what he thinks the proper investigation should have been, which was the clinton foundation, which was never proven and he's coming into the role now saying he's going to review investigations being done by the doj, by john huber who was appointed by jeff sessions to look into the clinton matter originally. it seems that all the conflicts
are coming to a head ahead of the mueller report being released. he's trying to change the narrative in a way it seems the spying comment was deliberate. >> donna edwards, democrats were largely hapless as devin nunes really shoved any integrity that the house intelligence committee had over decades and decades of trying to function above and sort of -- above and beyond the political debates. he shoved that committee through the woodchiper and turned it into an arm -- really nunknenun functioned as a trump stooj. there was damage by declassi declassifying material that chris wray objected to. what can the democrats do now that they're badge ck in contro that committee? >> i know that chairman adam schiff has been trying to bring the committee back to some sort
of regular functioning, but i think it's really difficult. i think once that damage has been done, it's not going to be repaired in a year or 100 days or even over a session of congress to restore it to the way that it used to work. and here i think the damage with the attorney general is that his memo now we know wasn't just a theory. it was a road map for how he would conduct himself from day one. and given that, i think democrats are not going to have a choice but to really press forward, demand the mueller report and all of the data that went into preparing it. and they also are going to have to say, you've got to come back, and there may be other witnesses who have to come back in order to bring that integrity to the process. i think, you know, at this stage, barr has made really clear, i'm going to be an engine for the president of the united states. i am not the attorney general
for the country. i'm not the attorney general who's leading the men and women of the department of justice. i am the president's lawyer. he's already staked that claim, and we should assume he's going to continue that. >> phil rucker we've been asking the last few days, there's been reporting around whether barr has shared the report with the white house. the white house saying no, barr in the last two days of testimony refusing to answer that question. why aren't the questions about what the white house has shared with the department of justice. i worked in a white house where it was the bow, there was a year's long investigation, emmet flood came in and helped defend the bush white house around the attorney general scandal and he's known for exerting a vigorous executive privilege defense. and trying to keep opaque what congress wanted to know about, in this case it was the selection of folks for attorneys general. why not ask about what the white
house is telling barr? this testimony over the last two days seems to be the contamination of the justice department, of politics, that they haven't seen in two years under -- i never thought that a democrat would miss the jeff sessions running the doj. but i think they might. i don't know. >> the testimony over the last two days has been music to the president's ears and you have to wonder to what extent is barr sort of reading and executing what the president and his lawyers at the white house want. we know one of the reasons barr is attorney general is because emmet flood, the white house lawyer, recommended him, advocated for him with president trump. barr didn't know president trump before this process began. and all of a sudden he's in there as the attorney general. and so you want to know whether there have been any communication between trump and barr about doing an investigation into the origins of -- >> oranges -- >> or oranges of the probe. and it's interesting, just about
an hour or two before barr testified today, president trump told reporters on the south lawn as he was departing the white house for a trip this morning, we got to get to the bottom of this, you need to investigate the origins of the russia investigation and was determined to push that point. and a few hours later the attorney general pushes it for him. >> where is this coming from, though? is there some sense -- do you think barr has some visibility into the ig report? to go out, to drop a nuclear bomb, to basically say, i don't have any evidence, but accuse the intelligence agencies of spying on a presidential campaign, i mean, both scenarios are pretty troubling. either he's as daffy as president i'm going to get to the oranges of this, or he's playing on some insider information. >> i doubt there's insider information. the other clip you showed was mark warner, one of the most mild-man erred members of the
senate, and who's also one of the gang of eight. if there was evidence of illegal spying, the justice department had a legal obligation to brief senator warner, as one of the members of the gang of eight. and he said he's flabbergasted by this. if that information was in the department and somehow attorney general barr has inside information about it, then the department failed in its obligation to notify the members. i think attorney general barr was playing a game with words today. trying to curry favor with the president, stay on his good side, i guess. we've seen what happens to high level officials that get on his bad side. but for whatever he did this. i think as donna alluded to, as others have, he crossed a big line that's going to do permanent institutional damage to the department of justice. >> do you agree? >> i do. the idea that this process,
going back to the selection of the special counsel to where we are right now with somehow, some nefarious gamed-out strategy that goes back into the dark recesses of the 2016 campaign, i don't know -- look, i do politics, i don't know anybody in politics that's that good for three, four years. what we're seeing is the narrative unfolding the way the president wants the narrative to unfold. he has his minions in place to put that out there and keep using the key words he's been using so that whenever whatever drops, drops, we can get onto the delegitimate train and ride that sucker has hard and as long as we can. at the end of the day that's the only thing a that mattered, no matter what the report said, donald trump is the best thing next to sliced bread, it has to
be delegitimized to the american people before 2020. >> i went back wondering what he could talk about and i pulled up the "new york times" on cross fire hurricane, which was the first report on that, it would be the sort of thing you would think they would hold out as the example of restraint. and criticism went to law enforcement for not making it public. the facts had they surfaced might have devastated the trump campaign. mr. trump's future national security advisor under investigation as was his campaign chairman. one adviser appeared to have russian intelligence contacts another suspected of being an agent himself. in the clinton case, james comey said he erred on the side of transparency. when the "new york times" tried to assess the state of the
investigation, law enforcement officials cautioned against drawing any conclusions resulting in a story that significantly played down the case. you can make the case there was collusion with the fbi trying to cover up what was an active counterintelligence investigation. >> if the fbi wanted to sink donald trump's campaign, if this was a coupe, they would have leaked it, but they did the opposite. they discouraged the "new york times" from publishing anything that would indicate the trump campaign was investigated for its association with the russians during the election. but at the same time they publicized the fact that hillary clinton's e-mails were being reinvestigated. so they reopened that case days before the election while statemeat the same time keeping the russia probe secret. i asked andrew mccabe last month whether he regrets that, how he
would respond to the criticism that they effectively sank hillary clinton's campaign while keeping the trump campaign's ties to russia from the american voters, he said this was a sensitive counterintelligence investigation we couldn't say anything about it because we risked derailing the whole thing. the clinton investigation was set, it was determined, comey closed it. he said this is the way we had to do it. i have been chatting with people familiar with the decisions in 2016 and they said look, we have nothing to hide. >> natasha thank you for joining us. just to rehash, trump campaign investigation secret. hillary clinton's investigation a big splash. keep that in mind. we'll show you attorney general william barr's
testimony. also ahead the southern district of new york gets its man and woman, in this case the man and woman in question, hope hicks and keith schiller, in that hush money investigation that named donald trump as individual one. inside trump's border breakdown with an enabling chief of staff, some stunning new reporter from our friends at "the washington post" and the "new york times" pulls back the curtain on all the dysfunction. all those stories coming up. stay with us. coming up. stay with us hey allergy muddlers... achoo! do your sneezes turn heads? ♪ try zyrtec. zyrtec starts working hard at hour one and works twice as hard when you take it again the next day. zyrtec. muddle no more. and try zyrtec-d for proven relief of your allergies, sinus pressure, and congestion.
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for a second day in a row, attorney general william barr was given the opportunity to set the record straight over concerns that he crossed the line when he decided to reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice where robert mueller would not. in response to question after question, he failed to put those concerns to rest. and in a fire exchange with democratic senator chris van holla holland, he agree dodged repeated questions over what led him to make such a controversial decision one that trump and the white house claimed as a victory. >> you looked at the report, right, and you looked at the evidence of the report and you made a decision and you said that the president's not guilty of criminal obstruction of justice? >> i'm going to give my actions and comments about the report after the report -- >> well, it would have -- but you put your view of the report out there on this issue of obstruction of justice, right? nobody asked you to do that? >> i didn't put my view of the report -- >> the thing is you put this out
there. the president went out and tweeted the next day that he was exonerated. that wasn't based on anything in the mueller report with respect to obstruction of justice. that was based on your assessment. that was on march 24th and now you won't elaborate at all as to how you reached that conclusion? you said in your -- >> it was the conclusion of a number of people, including me, and i obviously am the attorney general. it was also the conclusion of the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein. >> i understand. i read your letter. >> and i will discuss that decision after the report is -- >> did bob mueller support your conclusion? >> i don't know whether bob mueller supported my conclusion. >> joyce and the panel are still here. joyce, what senator van holland is getting at seems to be the central looming question of how the 22-month special counsel investigation ended. so up until whatever point, robert mueller was investigating whether or not a criminal conspiracy could be proven around the russian meddling and
whether or not the obstruction of justice, many of the incidents have been reported, much of which occurred in plain sight was done with criminal intent. that investigation into obstruction ended with robert mueller saying, we do not exonerate the president. days later, barr, exonerates the president. what van holland is asking seems like a legitimate bucket of questions for the attorney general, not robert mueller. why did he reach that conclusion when mueller did not. >> you know, it's such a legitimate question, and i think it was elise jordan who made the point it was a political master stroke, it let trump own the news cycle and now the attorney general by refusing to answer these questions let's that impression linger for apparently a couple weeks that there was no obstruction. and maybe when we see his final version of the redacted report we'll all shake our heads in agreement and say, sure, it's
clear that the president didn't obstruct justice. but the problem is that's very unlikely. we've seen a tip of the hand from barr that even he thinks there will be some derogatory information related to the president in that report and we know that that first impression that many people are left with will continue forward. so his whole decision-making process here and the way he's acted looks, at best, irresponsible. >> you talked about tinfoil hats you don't have to wear one to think the 18-page memo on obstruction was the dot that got connected to what joyce said. the report was likely going to look terrible. donald trump's conduct whether it crossed the line to criminality or not is certainly unbecoming of a commander in chief. >> let's give bill barr credit, if he wrote an 18-page job application to donald trump it's the longest one that donald trump has read in his life.
>> we know he didn't read it. >> i know. but it was the worst kind of justice. alice in wonder land. he got the job, wrote the report, and now he can't defend it because it's based on a memo he wrote before he got the report. he's done a great disservice to the justice and the idea there could be some kind of special counsel that would have some independence inside the department if the ag can come in and predecide it and put his gloss in such a forceful way on what the special counsel wrote. >> the piece that doesn't make sense to me is, why did robert mueller let his team's work land in barr's lap? why did he hand over that thing that was viewed as precious and impeachable, why did he give it to barr? >> that's what the regulations
require. the special counsel regs say the special counsel is supposed to deliver his report in a confidential fashion to the attorney general and then the attorney general is the one that makes the hand off to congress and public. i think the question is how long does mueller's silence hold up? we've seen some fraying with members of the team coming forward to say you know what barr is saying is not exactly what our report concluded. and at some point we'll hear from mueller himself testifying on the hill and we'll find out whether or not he agrees with what the attorney general has done or whether he has some disagreement. >> so i remember when chris christie was on tv trying to defend matt whitakers uncelebrated tenure, which at this point doesn't look as bad as it did at the time. he said maybe he's there to land the plane, the mueller report. >> who if anyone outside the justice department has seen portions or all of the special counsel's report? has anyone in the white house seen any of the report?
>> i'm not going to -- as i say, i'm landing the plane right now and i've been willing to discuss my -- my letters and the process going forward, but the report's going to be out next week and i'm not going to get into the details of the process until the plane's on the ground. >> he's landing the plane according to the book he got before it took off, you know. >> you can't make it up. what? what? >> this was a classic case of total obview skags, and i'm going to sit here like a potted plant that just -- say what i barely need to say. >> i talked to three former national security advisers who said this is a yes or no question. did you talk to the white house, yes, i talked to the white house. i told them everything. next question. why don't they own their conduct? >> because the next round of
this is going to be more not owning that conduct. he said i'm not going to say anything until the report is out. what do you think he's going to say when he's hauled back before the committee to answer the questions he won't answer today? it's going to be another excuse. this is not about addressing the mueller report, it's about making sure people don't latch onto it and run with it in a way that's not in the president's interest. so landing that plane means i'm not necessarily going to land on your runway, i'm going to land on trump's runway. that's what he's doing. >> we haven't seen the report, maybe attorney general barr will include all the information, maybe exceed our expectations. but he had a perception problem going into his two days of testimony, and i didn't see anything he did to fix his perception problem. did you? >> no. he really didn't do it. you keep hoping he will, and then he gets these easy questions.
did you share this with the white house? and he can't give you a yes or no sort of answer. it continues to damage him. i think we'll all hold out hope for as long as it takes for us to get the report, that when we see it, we'll read it and get a clear picture of what the mueller investigation put together. but if that report is deficient, if they hide behind grand jury, and third party reputation, then i think everything is done for this attorney general and he'll have nothing left. after the break, is the southern district of new york still connecting the dots in a conspiracy to commit campaign finance violations. new reporting on the role hope hicks had in the cover up of donald trump's alleged affairs. that story is next. ed affairs that story is next attract new customers. that's when fastsigns recommended fleet graphics.
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william barr's testimony and the questions it raises about damaging information possibly contained in the actual mueller report represents just one of the legal and political threats confronting the president this week. new reporting in "the washington journal" reminds us that the southern district of new york has its tentacles deep in donald trump's inner circle. look who they're interviewing, two of trump's closest allies and aids, hope hicks and keith schiller. from their piece, quote, investigators asked ms. hicks about her contacts with mr. pecker -- i can't say that without giggling, sorry -- the ceo of american media. prosecutors also asked one other witness whether ms. hicks coordinated with anyone at american media concerning a journal article in 2016 days before the election that revealed american media paid $150,000 for the rights to
former playboy model karen mcdougal's story of an alleged affair with mr. trump. ms. hicks called mr. pecker in 2016 as she was crafting a response to an inquiry from the journal. mr. pecker told her american media was issuing a statement saying it paid ms. mcdougal to contribute articles. joining the conversation, mimi rocah. why would the southern district of new york's prosecutors want to know if hope hicks colluded with american media in responding to "the washington journal"? >> well, nicole, i think a couple of reasons. first of all, hope hicks, remember, was also the person involved in the plane with trump in crafting the response to the trump tower meeting. she's the one who said no one is going to ever see the e-mails
that don junior had about that meeting. so we have to sort of look at her i think in that context. was she someone who was coordinating this response here now with respect to the hush money payments without knowing the full context and what the whole scheme was, or was she sort of fully read in on the whole scheme and was coordinating it with all of that knowledge. we don't know the answer to that right now, and my guess is that is what southern district was trying to determine in talking to her. they knew she had these contacts, knew she was involved and the question was what was her degree of knowledge of this scheme as a whole. either way, whether she had full knowledge or not, she could have been a valuable witness to the southern district in explaining some of trump's involvement, as well as others, obviously michael cohen who we know was involved and possibly other
people whose involvement we heard about, like don junior. >> we talk about the mueller probe -- or we have for 22 months as this iceberg and we only see the tippy top. is it possible that the hush money scheme is the same thing, and all we know about it is the part that came above the surf e surface, which was the sentencing memo for michael cohen. everything else about the investigation whether individual one engaged in illegal hush money campaign conspiracy is still under the surface, and the fact that they interviewed hope hicks about her coordination with "national enquirer," the fact they interviewed schiller, maybe that investigation is wider and deeper than we understand? >> and the depth beneath the service is the reason why the president's advisers and lawyers at the white house have been concerned about this version from the -- investigation from the beginning even more so than the russia investigation. and one thing about hope hicks
the way she worked with donald trump, not a day went by she wasn't at his side. she travelled everywhere with him, talked to him, ten times, 15 times a day. if the prosecutors are asking her questions about her involvement in crafting that story in november with ami, they may be trying to get information about trump, what she was doing at trump's behest. she did not issue statements that the campaign that were not first cleared with the candidate himself. >> that's such a good point. you think about mr. schiller who in politics is known as the body guy. the person who carries the bag, in this case i guess it had doe row toes and oreos in it. could they be looking at, you know, he carried the phone, handed the phone -- those two people essentially functioned as body people. >> they did and keith schiller was always at the president's side. it was his job -- well, we call him the president.
the candidate then. they were on the trail, they were in that bubble, hearing trump talk about developments in the news. but trump had control over the operations of the campaign, all the statements that went out, the sensitive stories like this one, so there was no way he was not involved with hope hicks in managing that story with pecker. >> there's been ways that donald trump sought to get his politically appointed attorney in new york to unrecuse in the cohen cases. we know in barr what we appear to have, someone very willing to put his finger on the scale literally and render a judgment for the president that benefits the president. what do you think democrats need to do to preserve and protect the work being done out of the southern district of new york? >> first of all i think the southern district of new york has actually operated in a manner that protects itself.
i think when those cases were handed off to them, they were done in a way that separated them from what was going on in washington. when i look at hicks and schiller, outside of the president's family, in a very small campaign operation, those were the two people who were the closest, who heard every single thing, who were in on every conversation. and so i think, you know, we at first months ago talked about the campaign fitnenance scheme it's just this campaign financing. it turns out it goes a lot deeper than that, and schiller and hicks i think are going to be the lynch pins to figuring out what was going on out there. >> we talked about don junior and jared in the mueller investigation. hope hicks and keith shiller have no family protection. they're called by prosecutors.
how helpful are witnesses like that? how instrumental are they if they were the eyes and ears around a candidate in a campaign? >> incredibly helpful. we talked about, in the mueller investigation, cooperating witnesses. the only difference between a cooperating witness and a witness like hicks or shrichill is the cooperating witness pled guilty to crimes. we don't know if hicks and shriller had protection for a day, called queen for a day when they speak to prosecutors or if it was something broader but there could be incentives for them to be truthful because as you can see, and what the article did to me, what people should take away from it, reading the wall street journal,
we've been saying since cohen made that statement, since it was in the charging documents, that there was no way the southern district would rely just on michael cohen. now we see it's true. they have evidence from the search warrants, a recorded call between cohen and stormy daniels' lawyer that sounds like an incriminating call. they have cell site information about where cohen was when the payments was made. so they have mounting evidence, and whether or not that evidence leads to additional charges we'll have to see. it's hard to imagine if they go beyond cohen they have a strong case about others, including trump's criminality, that they would just let that sit. >> mimi rocah, this sounds like a conversation we'll have at least a few more times. after the break, peak dysfunction. what "the washington post" today is calling 12 days of chaos. that's next. 12 days of chaos. that's next.
today a remarkable peek behind the curtain at what's been going on at the white house after a particularly wild even standards. he's apparently consumed of what to do at the boarder from "the washington post" reporting, quote, trump's increasingly erratic behavior over the past 12 days, since he threatened seal the border alarmed business leaders who fear his emotional response might exacerbate problems at the border, harm the u.s. economy and degrade national security. and that volatile attitude enabled by his acting chief of staff nick mulvaney from the "new york times" profile on him today, quote. for the first time since taking officer, mr. trump has a chief of staff who has made it his job to encourage rather than restrain the president's conservative instinct, to let trump be trump, the only problem letting trump be trump isn't the
same thing as emboldens his conservatives and crazy. >> i take exception with the use of the word conservative. let us be clear, there is nothing conservative about any of this. you know from the russia stuff to trade wars and all of that. so. yeah, look, mulvaney has figured out that sweet spot for however long he is in that sweet spot to be able to keep trump at on pace and away from other things and so let trump be trump and do his thing. but let us be clear. this is not conservatism in any, way, shape or form. it is trump's own brand of whatever trumpism is. mulvaney has figured out how to keep that elixir going. because he knows he can't control the hot spots. it's like trying to keep hot water from boiling up. it just is what it is, so appreciate what it is. and navigate all the other
spaces and that's why you are seeing the president cherry picking his secretaries and mulvaney is where to be found in that process? nowhere. >> he's acting. it was your great reporting. tell us your story. >> not my personal story. my people at the post, they documented when the president first directed to close off the border until now he has this upheaval, not just removing kirstjen neilsen, forcing her to quit because he was frustrated with her leadership and moving out other people too. other officials because he is so bothered by the rising number of border crossings. he has been emotional about this issue for two weeks now. there is a genuine fear inside the government, that he will do something really rash and there aren't those guardrails there to try to stop him. who does he replace these
officials at dhs? will they be yes men or more moderating fillers? kirstjen neilsen was tough. she helped execute the family separation policy, you don't get a whole lot tougher than that. >> we are bleeped. here's the president trying to answer some of the questions you raised about who's in charge. >> steven miller -- charge >> steven miller - . >> now, steven is an excellent guy. he's a wonderful person. people don't know him. he has been with me from the beginning. he's a brilliant man and, frankly, there is only one person that's running it. you know who that is? it's me. >> as if that were unclear. >> but that's. >> it meenls a man of action. right? but his action has no plan whatsoever, so announce you are closing down the borders, take
away the money from three central american countries and then you have a crisis at the border and have you no one in charge. so, yeah. it's on him. >> he made a great point yesterday. his biggest problem is that the policies weren't brutal enough or harsh enough. it's that he has failed at the one thing he was going to do better than anybody else. that was secure the country from illegal immigration. >> you know, nicole, you and i both worked in the white house, what's really stood out to white house veterans the first year of the trump administration, as crazy as it has been, there haven't been external crises that forced the president under stress. we wondered what happened if that came. what's happening now at the boarder is that crisis. as bad as that's been, he's been running in clean air and messing it up. he's in choppy air and fired any responsibility and listening to steven miller, telling people he
is in charge. i think we may be seeing a new page of trump's performance under pressure. here's my prediction. it won't be very good. >> yeah. i think, i think, i take the president at his last word there and it is always the case. it is how he has narrowed the circle around him. you start out with a lot of folks that have important jobs around town they get picked off one by one. you have an acting, acting, acting, at the end of the day, he says, it doesn't matter, there is one person i call the shots any time anywhere. so he doesn't need someone at dhs. because he'll tell steven miller, this is what i want done. stephen miller will get it to the appropriate deputy down stream. it will get down. he cuts out the middleman, the person that can say, mr. mr. president, not a good idea. >> do you go so far as by design or he gretz frustrated?
>> yes, it's by design. because it's the design donald trump has had for himself since he's been donald trump. so this is nothing new. all we're seeing is a transplantation of what he's done as a businessman, run trump world. he is now doing that on a national stage with himself as the ceo of the united states. >> i guess the difference is, no one's lives are in danger, of his reality show. this is not a victimless crime. they're the most vulnerable human beings on the planet. >> that's what you think to the point made earlier about empathy. you would think that trigger would kick in. i really can't carry this weight as this crises begins to emerge on the border by myself. but the mind that he has won't allow him to do that. >> we will sneak in our last break. don't go anywhere. we'll be right back. last break. don't go anywhere. we'll be right back. clear skin with taltz, the first and only treatment of its kind offering people with moderate to severe psoriasis
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my thanks to bill rutger, donna edwards, michael steele and to you for watching. thank you so much. >> that does it for our hour, i'm nicole wallace. mtp daily starts right now with my friend chuck todd. >> i know what you say. >> these uva people can't give it up. one time. if it's hump day, i spy on attorney general, giving credence to conspiracy theories. well, good evening, i'm chuck todd here in washington. welcome