tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC September 19, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
port arthur and beaumont where the suffering is great, and the water will remain high for sometime. that's our broadcast on this thursday night. thank you for being here with us. good night from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. s headquarters here in new york. boy, has this been an incredible day of breaking news. i just want to jump right in because we have a lot to get to. first, i'm somewhat amazed to get to report to you right now that the trump administration has completely reversed themselves on a story that we have been covering pretty intensively for the last couple of weeks. it's this astonishing policy decision by the trump administration to specifically target dying kids or kids who are receiving medical care that was keeping them alive in this country and that they can't get in other places. the trump administration
specifically targeted those families last month and sent them these letters. boilerplate letters advising them they had 33 days to stop their life-saving medical treatment and get out of this country. with no way to appeal, no second chances, nothing. initial contact, final declaration. trump administration never announced this policy decision. they just sent out these letters and i guess maybe hoped that they would get to do this without too many people noticing because, hey, it's just immigrants, so who cares. well, those brave families went public with the fact that they had received these letters. in some cases, these kids went public with the fact that their families had received these letters. resulting publicity and nationwide revulsion, i think it's fair to say, over this action by the trump administration, which would quite literally single out these kids and young people and end their lives, deliberately,
right, you're getting life-saving medical care that you can't get anywhere else, and that's the grounds on which you have been legally in this country, they're ending that telling you to end that life-saving medical care and leave, that's singling out individual known human beings for death. so trump administration does this quietly. i think they think they're not going to get any bad press for it. they get some bad press for it. they initially tried to claim they weren't actually getting rid of this program, they were just transferring it to a new agency. well, that other agency inside the trump administration denied knowing anything about that. then they tried a new tact. they announced while they were ending the program overall, the kids and young people who had gotten this round of negative press attention from the trump administration because of what the administration was trying to do, those kids would have their individual cases reviewed but nobody else would be allowed to stay. well now, as of tonight, they have finally reversed the whole
thing. a homeland security official quietly notifying individual members of congress the u.s. citizenship and immigration services is reinstating the old policy. and so this time it appears to be well and truly over. now, what may have gone on here is that democrats on the oversight committee in the house had announced that they were going to hold another hearing on this policy. the previous hearing they heard from some of the kids and young people who would be killed by this policy change. democrats had announced that at the next hearing next week, they expected the head of this trump administration agency that had gotten rid of this program, they expected him there in person to testify on this policy next week. well, as soon as the policy was rescinded today, that acting head of that agency sent this letter to those house democrats notifying them with sort of palpable relief that now that the policy has been reversed as
of today he has no intention of showing up for that hearing. isabel bueso is one of the young people who spoke at the first hearing. we had her here on this program last week talking about the threat to her own life. the near certainty that she would be killed by this action from the trump administration. she said today in response to the administration finally caving on this, "i am so grateful to all the leaders who spoke with me last week in d.c. and played a role in helping reinstate the deferred action program. while we have not received any official confirmation that my deferred action case will be approved, we are cautiously optimistic about this news." congresswoman ayanna pressley from massachusetts who played a leading role in fighting against what the trump administration was trying to do here, she put out, as did several members of congress today, she put out a long statement in response to the policy's reversal today, what was notable i think about congresswoman pressley's response was it landed on this concluding line. says, "when we fight, we win."
so that happened today. knock me over with a feather. in addition, it looks like the nickname, moscow mitch, being attached to republican senate leader mitch mcconnell might have aggravated and upset him just exactly the right amount if today's about-face by mitch mcconnell is any indication. after resisting for months any effort to do anything to protect u.s. elections from foreign interference, despite what happened in 2016, senator mitch mcconnell, who has recently been dubbed moscow mitch for his willingness to apparently sort of aid russian interests whenever they cross his desk, senator mitch mcconnell today finally reversed course. and announced that actually now he will support and, indeed, co-sponsor what has otherwise been a lonely mostly democratic effort to spend $250 million on election security against foreign interference for 2020. knock me over with a feather.
also in the realm of news you didn't think was possible that nevertheless broke today, the gun manufacturer, colt, which i think holds the original patent for the ar-15 assault rifle to be marketed to civilian populations, colt announced today that they will no longer manufacture ar-15s for the civilian market. okay. so there's this whole succession of breaking news tonight that's all stuff that could be filed under, right, they said it couldn't be done. oh, yes, it is, yes, it is, and yes, it is. i think all those stories today fit that category. you would need a very different category, however, to characterize the big sort of shocking legal news of the day. and this happened in one of the many cases where the president's financial records and his tax returns are being sought by one prosecutor or one investigator or another. there was some actual down to the wire drama in this one today. this was a subpoena for eight years of the president's personal and business tax returns that was served last week by prosecutors in new york. that subpoena required the president's accounting firm,
mazars, to hand over those eight years of tax returns under the terms of the subpoena by 2:00 p.m. today. well, i said down to the wire. just hours ahead of that deadline, today, the president's legal team asked a judge in the southern district of new york for a restraining order to block mazars from having to respond to that subpoena that 2:00 p.m. which would have resulted in them handing over all the president's tax documents. so i say this came right down to the very end. in the end, the judge did decide to grant a restraining order which blocks mazars from having to hand over those tax documents at least yet. we got sort of close to the deadline then ultimately the president got some respite there and his tax returns weren't handed over. aside from little bit of temporal drama, last-minute legal action, last-minute restraining order, aside from
that, though, what really ended up being the big news in that story today is the filing that the president's lawyers made on his behalf defending him against the threat of his tax returns being released by this subpoena. in this case, the legal case made by the president's lawyers was so radical, and, indeed, so potentially historic, it is literally on the front page of "the new york times" right now. "trump lawyers argue he cannot be criminally investigated." and that is actually what the president claimed today in federal court in new york. "the president cannot be subject to the criminal process while in office." that is from page 3 of their filing today. here it is on page 4. even more emphatically. "the president cannot be liable to arrest, prison, or detention while he is in the discharge of his office nor can he be investigated, indicted or otherwise subjected to criminal
process." "nor can he be investigated"? wait a second. now, again, the case, they're making this claim specifically in the context of this subpoena to the mazars accounting official to get president trump's tax returns and tie this argument specifically to that one subpoena. "because the mazars subpoena attempts to criminally investigate a sitting president, it is unconstitutional, but, again, the basic and broader point they're making here, you can't investigate a president. no doubt about it, there's a reason this is on the front page of "the new york times" right now. the president is now claiming you can't investigate a sitting president. you might be remember that the president was quite recently the subject of a very high-profile criminal investigation. one conducted by special counsel robert mueller. right? mueller's report, public defense of his report, said despite the fact justice department policy says you can't indict a president, that same justice department policy, "explicitly permits a president to be investigated." that's why the mueller investigation happened. well, apparently that may have
been true within the u.s. justice department as of may of this year, but now it's september. and now it's the contention of the trump administration that not only can a president not be indicted, he can't be investigated at all for anything. no matter what he does. and so, and the good thing here is at least they're putting all their cards on the table and they're doing so in court in a way that that contention -- in a way that means that contention will presumably now be tested in court? but it is a remarkable thing to see it in black and white. and that is just what they are claiming that the president really could stand in the middle of 5th avenue and shoot someone in cold blood. not only are they now claiming that he could not be indicted for doing that, they are now
claiming he could not be investigated as to whether or not he did it no matter how many people saw him do it in broad daylight. and that brings us to by far the biggest news of the day, which is this whistle-blower story which is now going officially nuts. now, this story's been percolating since late on friday night. it really blew up in the 9:00 hour last night in the middle of our show when the "washington post" published this sort of headline for the ages. "president's communications with foreign leader are part of whistle-blower complaint that spurs standoff between spy chief and congress." president's communications with foreign leader, what's that about? the "post" reporting last night that this whistle-blower complaint that has been brewing in washington has a sort of spooky and unplaceable story, "post" reporting last night it was sparked by president trump's communications with a foreign leader. "trump's interaction with the foreign leader included a promise that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the u.s.
intelligence community to file a formal whistle-blower complaint with the intelligence community's inspector general. so that lands with a gigantic thud last night in the 9:00 hour. since that initial "washington post" reporting 24 hours ago, the main substance of that report has been matched by nbc news, "the wall street journal," cnn, "the new york times," a whole bunch of other outlets. we still don't know who this whistle-blower is or how exactly he or she came to know the alleged contents of president trump's communication with a foreign leader including his alleged startling promise. but we do now know that whoever this whistle-blower is, he or she has just hired a lawyer and a real heavyweight lawyer who is, himself, ex-department of defense and an ex-cia officer. according to his law firm, he is considered to be one of the nation's leading experts on whistle-blower reprisals, meaning people who get attacked, fired or otherwise punished for
legally whistle-blowing on alleged misbehavior in government. this lawyer apparently created the program inside the cia to investigate and prevent reprisals against whistle-blowers inside that agency. so we don't know if this unknown whistle-blower retained this heavyweight lawyer before or after the whistle-blower filed his or her complaint on august 12th but it seems like picking up this lawyer might have been a prudent thing to do because what has emerged over the course of the past 24 hours, astonishingly, is that the trump administration at multiple levels appears to be handling this whistle-blower complaint in such a way that they may be basically threatening prosecution of this whistle-blower for coming forward with whatever this disturbing information is about president trump's alleged behavior.
now, the complaint at least appears to be getting treated here as if it is outside the bounds of the law that protects whistle-blowers. the law that protects whistle-blowers from among other things being prosecuted for bringing forward sensitive information like this through the appropriate channels. now, why would that be? it has emerged over the past 24 hours that the justice department led by william barr for some reason they have been brought into this process. they're not supposed to be within the whistle-blower process, but the justice department has now been brought into this and it appears that they have provided some sort of legal argument, which nobody has seen, but the legal argument is reportedly that this complaint, this whistle-blower complaint, isn't a real whistle-blower complaint and shouldn't be treated this way. this whistle-blower should not be treated as a real whistle-blower who was protected by the law. and, therefore, this whistle-blower complaint doesn't need to be handed over to congress. that appears to be the legal analysis provided here by the justice department under william barr, nobody knows why they were even consulted but this is apparently how they have inserted themselves into the process. cnn is reporting today in addition to the justice department getting involved here the trump white house has been directly involved in the
handling of the complaint which if you think about it is bizarre, right? here's cnn's reporting "the white house and justice department advised the director of national intelligence that the complaint regarding president trump is not covered by laws covering intelligence whistle-blowers." it seems clear from multiple sources including congress that this is the advice william barr and the justice department have provided on this issue. cnn is reporting it's also advice the white house is providing as well. think about that for a second. the fact that the white house was consulted on this at all, this is a whistle-blower complaint about allegedly very troubling behavior by the highest ranking occupant of the white house. so you bring that complaint to the white house to ask how you should handle it? i mean, that, itself, is a complete deviation from how whistle-blower complaints are supposed to be handled. you're not supposed to go to the subject of the complaint, the
person about whom the complaint has been registered and ask them how they think this matter should be taken up. if this matter was, in fact, brought to the white house, has this whistle-blower's identity been protected even to the white house? but that's apparently how the trump administration is handling this matter. after the intelligence community's inspector general michael atkinson met behind closed doors with the house intelligence committee for hours today, the chairman of that committee, adam schiff, raised the prospect publicly that not only is this unknown whistle-blower potentially at risk of being retaliated against now and potentially even prosecuted by william barr, but the inspector general who received the complaint might also be at risk here from the trump administration and their reprisals. >> and the inspector general is doing his very best to be very careful that he follow the law. and in some respects, the inspector general is in the same position of the whistle-blower which is if the inspector general steps one foot outside
of what he's authorized to do, then he is not protected. and so this shows how someone is trying to manipulate the system to keep information about an urgent matter from the congress. >> whether or not the inspector general, himself, is at risk of being prosecuted by william barr for the crime of receiving this whistle-blower complaint about the president's behavior, the inspector general appears to be doing everything he can under the law to try to make sure that this complaint is actually investigated. and that it is actually handled over to the intelligence committees in congress which are supposed to have oversight over things like this and which are specifically supposed to receive whistle-blower complaints without any interference from the subject of the complaint. the intelligence committee today released a letter today from the inspector general in which the inspector general says that he considers himself to be bound by the administration's decisions but he respectfully disagrees with their determination that this complaint doesn't have to
be handed over. he said, "the complainant's disclosure not only falls within the dni's jurisdiction but relates to one of the most significant and important of the dni's responsibilities to the american people." he also complained that while the backstop here is supposed to be the whistle-blower him or herself should be allowed to convey their complaint directly to congress, through secure and legal channels made available to them for this purpose, the trump administration appears to be blocking the whistle-blower from doing that as well. the inspector general also says he asked for permission to at least convey the general subject of the complaint to the intelligence committees today and he was denied permission to do so. so, the inspector general got this complaint, has tried to do the right thing with it. this inspector general who looked into it, find it credible, found it to be urgent, found it something that needed to be investigated, that needed to be handed over to congress, he is now in this anguished position saying what the trump
administration is doing here is blocking him from protecting this whistle-blower which he's legally obligated to do, trump administration is also blocking him from making sure this serious and properly conveyed complaint is delivered to congress. it's his statutory responsibility to ensure that and they're blocking him from doing it so he's absolutely stuck and congressman schiff is signaling that that inspector general might, himself, find himself prosecuted or retaliated against just for receiving this complaint and trying to do the right thing under law with this matter. congressman adam schiff is going to be joining us live in just a moment. we still, of course, do not know what the complaint, itself, is, but i have to tell you, the "washington post" just moments ago posted the next big development in this story. this is a story from "washington post" which has just posted, it cites two sources in saying that the whistle-blower's complaint about president trump involves the nation of ukraine.
there's been a bunch of speculation about this over the course of the last 24 hours. in part just because of the timeline here. i don't mean to be weird, this is going to sound weird, but don't take it that way. if you have been watching this show over the past few weeks, you are probably better equipped to understand what's going on here, this latest version of this story. you are probably better equipped to understand what's going on here than your friends who have better things to do at 9:00 p.m. eastern on a weeknight. so, this story, this part of the story in this new development that this complaint about president trump may involve the nation of ukraine, this is -- this ought to ring a bunch of bells for you because we've been covering this pretty intensively. two weeks ago on september 5th, the "washington post" ran this on the editorial page and even though it was on the editorial page, it contained this remarkable claim.
see the headline there. "trump tries to force ukraine to meddle in the 2020 election." meaning the 2020 u.s. election. explaining that the newly elected president of ukraine appears to be a real reformer and a real small "d" democrat and that, therefore, ought to be a cause for celebration in washington. "post" argues that nevertheless the new ukrainian president has received the cold shoulder from the trump administration. he, "has so far failed to winning the backing of president trump. not only has he refused a white house visit, he suspended the delivery of $250 million in u.s. military aid to this country that is still fighting russian aggression in its eastern provinces. some suspect mr. trump is once again catering to russian president vladimir putin who, of course, is dedicated to undermining ukrainian democracy and independence," but the "post" says "we're reliably told the president has a second and more venal agenda. trying to force the ukrainian president to intervene in the u.s. 2020 election by launching an investigation in ukraine of the leading democratic candidate joe biden. mr. trump is not just soliciting ukraine's help with his presidential re-election campaign, he's using u.s.
military aid that that country desperately needs in an attempt to extort it. so, again, we still do not know if that's exactly what this whistle-blower complaint is about that's currently blowing up proverbial washington. shane harris from the "washington post" tonight is reporting the whistle-blower complaint has something to do with ukraine, but the timeline here may be instructive. this is what we know of the timeline. president trump has a phone call with the new president of ukraine july 25th. three days later, the director of national intelligence, dan coats, is out. he submits his resignation. less than two weeks later there's a strange incident in the white house first reported by cnn in which that outgoing director of intelligence dan coats for some reason steps into a meeting being led by his deputy sue gordon and tells her in the middle of the meeting in front of --
four days later the whistle-blower complaint is filed with the intelligence community's inspector general. three days after that dan coats and sue gordon leave the white house. before that week is out, president trump says publicly, that should be forgiven. russia and vladimir putin should be let back into the g8. politico is first to report trump put on hold $250 million in military aid to ukraine, money that was appropriated by the congress to help ukraine stands up to russia. before the next week is out, the white house announces that it is cutting almost the entire military construction budget in eastern europe that is specifically designated to help other nations on russia's border stand up themselves against russian aggression of the type faced by ukraine. two days after that, the "washington post" publishes its op-ped about trump allegedly
demanding help from ukraine for his re-election effort and threatening to deny ukraine u.s. military assistance unless and until he gets it and now there's a new acting director of national intelligence that isn't letting the whistle-blower complaint that's reportedly about ukraine be forwarded to the intelligence committees which they're legally required to do. somewhere out there right now in america is a whistle-blower from the intelligence community who has gone through channels and done things by the book and sought whistle-blower protection under law to alert congress in good faith about a serious and urgent matter that reportedly involves the president, his communications with foreign leaders, some sort of promise that he has made to foreign leaders, and potentially some shenanigans involving the nation of ukraine. bit by bit, the substance of the complaint seems to be coming to the surface while hour by hour, the trump administration appears to be fixing its cross-hairs on the whistle-blower.
and on anybody who helps him or her make this story known. at a fundamental level, this is repulsive. in terms of how whistle-blowers are supposed to be treated in our country or in any. but this is also ongoing. this is live. it's happening right now. shane harris joins us next. congressman adam schiff will be with us in just a moment. stay with us. nt stay with us this is jamie. you're going to be seeing a lot more of him now. -i'm not calling him "dad." -oh, n-no. -look, [sighs] i get it. some new guy comes in helping your mom bundle and save with progressive, but hey, we're all in this together. right, champ? -i'm getting more nuggets. -how about some carrots? you don't want to ruin your dinner. -you're not my dad! -that's fair. overstepped.
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a team of "washington post" reporters have been leading the way on this remarkable and still expanding story. about an unknown intelligence community whistle-blower who's come forward with a reportedly credible and urgent complaint concerning behavior by president trump. a complaint that the intelligence community inspector general is apparently trying to share with congress although the trump administration is blocking him. well, the "post" just in the last hour has reported that that whistle-blower complaint about president trump has something to do with the nation of ukraine. very shortly after the "washington post" published that story tonight, "the new york
times" matched that detail of their reporting. joining us now is "washington post" national security reporter shane harris. shane, thanks for getting to a studio for us on short notice. i really appreciate it. >> no problem, rachel. >> so you heard me explain sort of my understanding about how the story has developed and the context here. i just want to ask you if anything that i said struck a sour note or seemed wrong or if there's anything that i should correct there. >> no, i think that narrative is right. it's important to piece these things together. we sometimes forget how they do line up in retrospect, don't they. >> for me, it's not so much connecting the dots, it's remembering what all the dots are. >> right. >> because they seem to connect in different ways with each new news story. you and your colleagues are reporting that the complaint centers on ukraine, but you don't in tonight's story offer any further detail on what about ukraine or whether, in fact, it was a conversation with the president of ukraine that was the nature of this. can you expand at all in terms
of what you know about the ukraine part of the story? >> yeah, what we know is what's in the story. it's frustrating to people. we're trying to be careful in making sure we understand each of these details here as we go. a key piece of this is understanding that that whistle-blower complaint does follow by a very short period, only 2 1/2 week, that conversation, that phone call, that president trump had with the president of ukraine. and as you laid out these other dots, it's clearly happening sort of in the same timeframe. so i think we build on the reporting that we had yesterday where we knew that this was some allegation involving a promise, clearly some sense of wrongdoing by the whistle-blower against the president, now we know that that centers on ukraine. i think we're kind of getting closer to the nexus of these facts but right now, all we know is what we put in the paper and that's all we were prepared to report tonight. >> and shane, there has been some reporting from various news organizations over the course of the day that maybe the whistle-blower's complaint isn't
about one thing that was done by the president, maybe it was about a series of events and this phone call with the foreign leader may have just been one thing. do you have any clarity in terms of whether or not this is about a specific single incident or whether this might be a broader complaint about a broader pattern or sequence of behavior? >> yeah, i think we got some more of that today. there's reporting that we have on our story as well, i believe it's in "the new york times" reporting tonight, too, when the inspector general for the intelligence community testified today, and we understand that in that closed-door session with lawmakers, he said that this allegation by the whistle-blower, it doesn't center on just one single event. so it's important that we're not simply focused on the phone call or the communication, it seems like there's more to it than that. it could be a series of events, could be a pattern of behavior. we don't know. but we shouldn't be thinking about this as just a single incident, it sounds like, that
this whistle-blower saw, it sounds like there is more kind of a tapestry here, too, to try and examine. >> to the extent that a presidential phone call is at least part of the basis of this complaint, does it seem clear to you, either from direct reporting or just from the way what you know about how these things work in the white house, that we can narrow down how this whistle-blower might have come into knowledge of what was said on a presidential phone call with a foreign leader? does the white house still produce transcripts of these calls or notes on these calls? do we know who sees them? >> there is still documentation, it's my understanding, on some of these although the distribution of that is much more tightly controlled. in part because of reporting that colleagues of mine did in 2017 on president trump's discussions in the oval office with two senior russian officials where he actually ended up divulging the source of an important counterintelligence source of information for the united states that was being managed by israel. after that, we understand sort of the paper that gets produced after a lot of these meetings, kind of seeing what was going on, is less distributed. that doesn't mean it's not distributed. so, of course, there's still channels that these things can get out. but, you know, there are a lot of people working in the white
house on a lot of these issues. i don't know that it necessarily narrows it down very much. but this person would have conceivably could have been in a position to either have direct knowledge of this information based on those kinds of readouts or to be in a kind of universe of people who understand what's going on when the president does things like has a phone call with the president of ukraine. >> "washington post" national security reporter shane harris, thank you for your time. first of all, thank you and your colleagues for your reporting on this. you've done more than anyone else to help clarify it. >> thank you, rachel. the chair of the national house intelligence committee, adam schiff, joins us live next. stay with us.
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we will be releasing the inspector general's letters but i want to read one sentence from them. mr. atkinson wrote, "i set forth the reasons for my concluding that the subject matter involved in the complainant's disclosure not only falls within the dni's jurisdiction but relates to one of the most significant and important of the dni's responsibilities to the american people." this is what's being withheld from congress right now. >> house intelligence committee chairman adam schiff today quoting the intelligence community's inspector general about this whistle-blower complaint, which is now consuming washington. right? it's a complaint that reportedly concerns president trump, the trump administration is
basically refusing to treat the complaint as if it is a whistle-blower complaint under law which means they are not protecting the whistle-blower from potential retaliation or even prosecution here. they're also refusing to hand the complaint over to congress which whistle-blower law requires. congressman schiff joins us now live. mr. chairman, it's really good to have you with us tonight. i know it's a very busy time. >> thanks for having me. >> we just spoke with shane harris of the "washington post" about their new reporting that this whistle-blower complaint may center on the nation of ukraine combined with earlier reporting from the "post" and others that might suggest this complaint has something to do with presidential communication with a foreign leader, potentially with the president of ukraine. something else having to do with that country. just have to ask you, as the chairman of the intelligence committee, does that jibe at all with what you know, do you have any further information about the nature of the complaint? >> you know, i can't comment completely in answer to the question. we haven't received the complaint. some of what we've been able to
determine has been based on what the inspector general and the director of national intelligence have told us. and dividing sort of between the lines. i can tell you this with certainty, that is the inspector general found this complaint to be credible after doing an investigation. found it to be urgent and found something else which has not really been focused on and that is that this does not involve a policy disagreement. so a lot of people have been speculating, does this involve a presidential communication, does it not, and if it does, doesn't the president have a right to be confidential? this doesn't involve some policy disagreement. this involves an allegation of serious wrongdoing. something that the inspector general felt needed to be presented to congress, was squarely within the jurisdiction of the director of national intelligence, and it is unprecedented for a director to withhold that information from congress and i just want to say what's at stake here, and why this is so serious for us. the intelligence committee in both house and senate do their work in closed session because we're dealing with classified information, but the result of
that is outside stakeholders don't get to weigh in, don't get to correct the record, don't get to say that the intelligence agency representation on this isn't accurate. we rely on the agencies to self-report when they have problems. and much of the time, they do. but when they don't, we are totally reliant on whistle-blowers which means if you can nullify that process, which the department of justice is effectively doing, it means the ability to do oversight is just crippled. and it means that serious problems, urgent problems that affect our national security, go unaddressed like this one and it means that other whistle-blowers who are watching, i want to say to the whistle-blower is watching, you, tonight, we're grateful for their courage in coming forward. we're going to do everything we can to make sure this urgent issue is addressed and you're protected. >> if this whistle-blower whether or not he or she is watching tonight, if you are, hi, if this whistle-blower does want to come directly to your committee, because president trump is trying to throttle this
at the level of the dni, when i look at the comments of the inspector general, reading transcripts of your own remarks on this today closely trying to figure these out, it seems to me that the whistle-blower should be able to legally and securely come to you directly with his or her complaint provided the channel for them to legally do so is open. is that channel available to them, is there a way you can directly tell the whistle-blower on tv tonight, here's how you reach me, here's how you connect legally with our committee? >> look, we would love to talk with the whistle-blower directly.
and it was certainly our expectation when we wrote this statute that there would be an opportunity for anyone in the i.c. to come to the committee and expose wrongdoing, and that's always been the case because whistle-blower complaints, even when they were found not credible, even when they were found not urgent, were referred to our committee and the whistle-blower was told you can talk to the committee. here the director is refusing to tell the whistle-blower that. in fact, the department of justice is effectively telling the whistle-blower you're not covered. >> yeah. >> which means there is a real risk even in coming to congress and that is obviously a supreme problem. i would love to be able to say that the president won't be vindictive, that the justice department won't be vindictive but i can't make that assurance if the department of justice is taking the position you're not covered. and, you know, the people who do come forward, they're assured that if they do, their complaint will get to congress. and so a lot is riding on this if those promises are hollow, then it means these important sources of information about wrongdoing are going to dry up. >> congressman adam schiff, chairman of the house intelligence committee, sir, thank you so much for your time tonight. i know this is an ongoing
about two years ago pair of excellent reporters at "the new york times" started breaking a story about allegations of rampant basically institutionalized sexual abuse carried out by a very powerful movie executive named harvey weinstein. that story set off a movement that touched not only movie executives but actors, comedians, musicians chef, doctors, senators, casino owners, attorneys general and, and, and. now those two reporters, jodi kantor and megan twohey have written one of the world's great books about journalism which is also the story of how they broke that story. i'm going to read a little bit because i want you to have a little idea of what i mean. this is jodi kantor tracking down an internal memo from inside the weinstein organization that details basically weinstein's sexual abuse.
"jodi reached into her bag, drew out a printout sheet prepared a few hours before and passed it to the weinstein executive. jodi explained this was an account she heard from a well-known actress. a woman arrived to a meeting in a hotel room with harvey weinstein. when she got there, weinstein was waiting if a bathrobe and asked for a massage. he tried to pressure her into sex by saying he could help her career. she fled. the executive appeared aghast at hearing this. she told him she and the actress -- jodi and megan didn't know how many women had these kinds of stories about weinstein, based on what they were hearing they believed the number might be very high. jodi asked the executive again for the memo. he read her a few quotes which she jotted down. she wanted to understand the document better. could he pull it up again on his phone? he started to read the memo aloud then paused, he said, i'm going to pay a visit to the little boy's room. he threw jodi his phone.
open to the email with the memo. he rose from the table and left her alone. later that night when they read the memo in full, the moral stakes of the investigation suddenly transformed and expanded. what had once been a historical corrective suddenly seemed a far more urgent pursuit. no one has ever stopped this man. if the reporters failed to publish their findings, he might go on to hurt someone else." the reporters who broke that story and wrote this new journalistic thriller which is going to spawn a million young people to go to journalism school, they join us next. stay with us. stay with us dramatic orchestra)♪ performance comes in lots of flavors. there's the amped-up, over-tuned, feeding-frenzy-of sheet-metal-kind. and then there's performance that just leaves you feeling better as a result. that's the kind lincoln's about. ♪
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joining us here in studio are two "new york times" reporters who broke the harvey wi winestein story. it's called "she said". congratulatio congratulations. >> it's really good to have you both here. >> i want to ask you an inappropriate first question. you came back from maternity leave in 2017 and given the option of reporting on trump tower moscow or harvey weinstein. >> i took a day to contemplate that question and consulted with colleagues. i had colleagues reporting on trump as i had who said he is
the story of a lifetime. you would be crazy to look into this supposedly sleazy producer. i did have questions about the investigation in terms of famous actresses. it was hard for me to conceive famous actresses as being victims. as investigative reporters we want to help give voice to the voiceless. in consulting with jodi, she had made the case if people had been victimized, and victims of sexual harassment, nobody is immune. if we can help get to the bottom of this and bring this to light after so many years of silence we may be able to make a difference. >> there is the story about finding the victims. once you are hearing the story and recognizing the similarities, getting the people to put their names on them. that's not it. that doesn't get you to where you need to be. i feel like the decision to write this as a journalistic thriller is to put at the center this idea of provable fact.
it's not just accusation. it's about telling the story in a provable way. >> in part because the events mean so much. we realize people did not know the true surprising story of how this unfolded behind the scenes. we wanted to take you into all of these situations, the first very tentative phone calls with these actresses, the final confrontations with harvey weinstein in the offices of the "new york times" which were in part about trying to be fair to him and giving him a chance to respond tooft to the allegations. we were trying to build a solid body of evidence about 25 years of allegations. >> i mean, one of the things that i think has been f prop propelling the movement is it does reach the elite in every
way. i think it is a product of the reporting process. if the money you are able to follow is financial settlements and nondisclosure agreements, those are tools to protect elite men. this reporting process is almost destined to bring down men at the highest echelons of society. >> this story goes way beyond harvey weinstein. this is an x-ray into abuse of power. we had been able to connect the dots and how he had covered it up over the years. since then, we were able to bring together so many other pieces of the puzzle to really pull the curtain back to silence accusers and cover up his tracks. and these legal settlements that ht been paid to silence women. harvey weinstein had paid at least eight settlements from
1990 through 2017. we call into question those legal settlements that are used not just in the case of harvey weinstein but sexual harassment and sexual abuse cases. >> the elite lawyers who come out worst than almost anybody in your story in part tells the story of how the elite legal profession has not only greased its wheels but created a vehicle by which money allows you to do this sort of thing. do you feel like that is punctured? >> there is a shocking memo in the book. people can just see and examine them for themselves, kind of join our partnership. there is a document that megan got that lisa bloom, the famous loirp wrote. it's essentially her job audition memo where she's saying i'm going to use my experience and i'm going to cross over to your side and put all of that
experience and credibility to work for you. and it's actually a numbered memo on how she will sort of fight back. she is saying i will manipulate for you. >> for $895 an hour, you can use my reputation to get rid of the victims that are haunting you. what about the use of security firms and the other sort of hit men of the industry that are used not only to go after and silence sources, but to try to intimidate journalists. >> harvey weinstein used a variety of private investigative firms to try to silence accusers and go after journalists, as well, which in some ways was not that surprising to us. the fact that he had used black cube, a firm made up of former israeli a intelligence officials and agents who adopted fake identities to try to extract information from women who he
thought might go public as well as reporters was just jaw dropping to us. one of the contracts was basically a promise to those israeli intelligence officials that they would be paid a $300,000 bonus if they can bring a stop to our investigation. >> it was like a hit on our investigation. >> the investigation obviously was brought to fruition not only through your intelligence and your diligence, but through the support of the institution of the "new york times" to have the resources to get this done. people coming out is necessarily. you do need the kind 06 work you guys did in order to make this happen and you did. congratulations. >> thank you so much. it is called "she said." you should read it. a lot of people are comparing
this to "all the president's men" which does not come out on the long end of the comparison. that does it for us. it's rr time for the last word. and we saw of course congressmau adam schiff, the intelligence committee chairman, on your program and speaking directly to the whistleblower, as you did too. and i am sure that the whistleblower was watching the chairman tonight. >> well, that makes me very unsettled to think about that. >> i understand. >> but there is this weird situation where the whistleblower theoretically can convey that information directly to the committee. but it's almost impossible to do so legally without the channel being opened for that person. and the trump administration won't open the channel. so schiff has to be totally responsible in terms of what he can promise that person in terms of retaliation, protection from prosecution, all of those things.ti i mean, this is incredibly high stakes for everybody involved at this point. >> yeah. and as we saw in the inspector general'