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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  September 26, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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department that essentially says the president is above the director, therefore the president is not subject to the jurisdiction of the director, therefore it doesn't meet the definition of urgent concern, therefore the inspector general is done. the inspector general can't investigate anymore. that's the inspector general's reading of the department opinion, that he is no longer allowed to investigate this. is that your reading as well? >> chairman, not necessarily the president, but the allegation has to relate to the funding, administration, operation of an intelligence activity within the responsibility and the authority of the director of national intelligence. >> okay. i'm just trying to get to whether the president is somehow beyond the reach of the law. >> no, sir. no person in this country is beyond the reach of the law. >> well, that's the way it should be but i'm trying to figure out whether that's the way it is as a practical fact.
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the inspector general believes that based on the opinion that you requested of the department of justice, he is no longer allowed to look into this because it doesn't meet the definition of an urgent concern because it involves the president. is that your understanding of the department opinion as well, that the inspector general no longer has jurisdiction to look into this? >> it is my understanding that both the inspector general and i and my team are waiting for -- we were waiting for the resolution of executive privilege to be determined. it is now no longer executive privilege. i'm not sure exactly what the statute has as far as what michael can do. but we also are looking for a way -- now, if i did not send it forward, as you know, under urgent concern within the seven days, then the statute would allow the whistle-blower to come to you and still be protected. >> director, my point is this.
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the department of justice has said because this doesn't meet the statutory definition, because this involves the president, the inspector general has no jurisdiction to investigate. now, if this inspector general has no jurisdiction to investigate because the president is above the agency, no inspector general has jurisdiction to investigate. that is the effect of that opinion, which -- do you disagree? >> i believe the opinion was based on the reading of the statute and whether or not the situation here is compliant and comes underneath the statute, the office of legal counsel opinion was that based on the criteria that you're required to have in order to support this legal statute, it does not. it also said that because of that it is not a matter of the
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intelligence community. but once again -- >> that's -- >> however, you may go forward. >> that's the key issue, director. because it involves the president, it does not involve the intelligence community. that is the sum and substance. and the effect of that is the inspector general has told us that he no longer has jurisdiction to investigate. and by the logic of that opinion, nor does any other inspector general. now, as you point out, this was referred to the justice department, it was referred to the fbi and justice department. that department under bill barr and with breathtaking speed decided there is nothing to see here, decided that we don't believe that this constitutes a violation of the campaign finance laws and therefore we're not authorizing an investigation. the fbi is not authorized to investigate any of this, any of
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this. so the igs can't do it, according to the department of justice, the fbi can't do it because it doesn't meet their threshold that makes it worthy of investigation. so at this point only this committee and this congress is in the position to investigate. and i want to ask you, going to the whistle-blower complaint, whether you believe these allegations are worthy of investigation. the whistle-blower says i have received information from multiple u.s. government officials that the president of the united states is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 u.s. election. you would agree that should be investigated, would you not? >> chairman, the horse has left the barn. you have all of the information. you have the whistle-blower complaint. you have the letter from the icig. you have the office of legal counsel opinion. >> yes, we do, but would you agree that if there is a serious
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and credible -- you agree there should be an investigation? >> i believe it is a matter to be determined by the chair and this committee. >> well, i'm asking you as a career military officer, someone who i greatly respect and i admire your service to the country. do you believe if there is a credible allegation by a whistle-blower, corroborated by apparently multiple u.s. government officials, that the president of the united states is using the power of his office to solicit interference in the 2020 election, do you believe that should be investigated? >> the whistle-blower says he or she spoke to a dozen other people. i'm not criticizing the whistle-blower -- >> yes, but the inspector general took those two weeks, as you well told us, to corroborate that information.
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we don't know which if any of these the inspector general told to. and found it credible. you told us you have to reason to believe otherwise, am i right? >> i had no reason to doubt a career inspector general lawyer in his determination on whether or not it was credible. that is something for michael to determine. >> and let me ask you this. the whistle-blower also says over the past four months more than half a dozen u.s. officials informed me of various facts related to this effort to seek foreign interference. you would agree we should speak to those half a dozen u.s. officials, would you not? >> i think that you have all the material that the committee needs and i think it's up to the committee how they think they need to proceed. >> i'm asking your opinion, is the head of our intelligence agencies, do you think we should talk to those other people and find out whether the whistle-blower is right? >> my responsibility was to get you the whistle-blower letter, the complaint, and the other information released. i have done my responsibility. that is on the shoulders of the
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legislative branch and this committee. >> let me ask you, director, the whistle-blower also says i am also concerned these actions pose risks to u.s. national security and undermine the u.s. government's efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in u.s. elections. you would agree if there is a credible allegation along those lines that we should investigate it? >> i agree if there was election interference, the complaint is not about election interference. it was about a classified confidential diplomatic conversation -- >> involves election interference by the president, sought by the president. that doesn't take it out of the realm of seeking foreign assistance. it makes it all the more pernicious. wouldn't you agree? >> as i said, i don't disagree with the igic's assessment that it was a credible matter. >> the whistle-blower further says, namely, he, the president, sought to pressure ukrainian leader to take actions to help
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the president's 2020 reelection bid. you would agree that that should be investigated? >> not necessarily, sir. i mean, it was investigated by the federal bureau of investigation. >> no, it wasn't. >> yes, it went to -- >> the department of justice concluded that this wouldn't violate the election laws. i don't understand how they could reach that conclusion after the two years they've been through, but nonetheless, they didn't authorize the fbi to investigate it. you would agree someone should investigate this, wouldn't you? >> i referred it -- if i didn't, i would not have referred it to the justice department and to the fbi. >> then i'm glad we're in agreement. the whistle-blower says they told me that there was already a discussion ongoing with white house lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, officials telling they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain. you would agree that should be investigated, wouldn't you? >> all i know is that's the
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allegation. >> right, and it's credible and therefore should be investigated, right? >> well, again, it is hearsay, secondhand information. it should come to this committee for further investigation. >> thank you. >> you have it. you have the documents. >> i just wanted to confirm we're in agreement that you think the committee should investigate it. the whistle-blower also says donald trump expressed his conviction that the new ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve ukraine's image and complete the investigation of corruption cases that have held back cooperation between the ukraine and the united states. of this whistle-blower citing the ukrainian readout. you would agree if the ukrainian readout if they're talking about corruption cases is talking about mr. biden and his son, that should be investigated, right? >> i don't agree with any of that. i did not agree it should be investigated. what i said was that i complied with my requirement to send you
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the documents. and that it is up to the chair, the ranking member, and the committee members to decide what to do with that information. i'm in no position to tell the chair or the committee to do an investigation or not do an investigation. >> okay. i find it remarkable that the director of national intelligence doesn't think credible allegations of someone seeking foreign assistance in a u.s. election should be investigated. let me ask you this. the whistle-blower further says in the days following the phone call, i learned from multiple u.s. officials that senior white house officials had intervened to lock down all the records of the phone call. do you have any reason to believe that the whistle-blower's allegation there is incorrect? >> i have no idea whether it is correct or incorrect, sir. >> someone should find out, though, right? >> i don't know if that is an incorrect allegation. i just do not know. again, that is the work -- that is the business of the executive
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branch of the white house and the office of the white house. >> corruption is not the business or it shouldn't be of the white house or anyone in it. >> the white house decides to do what their privileged communications and information is i believe the business of the white house. >> do you believe that's true even if that communication involves crime or fraud? i'm sure you're aware there's an exception to any claim of privilege. privilege can't be used to conceal crime or fraud. >> any crime or fraud or instances of wrongdoing should be referred to the justice department for investigation, as i did. >> the whistle-blower further alleges that white house officials told the whistle-blower they were directed by white house lawyers to remove the electronic transcript of the call from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored and instead it was loaded into a separate electronic system that is used, otherwise used to store and handle classified
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information of an especially sensitive nature. one white house official described this act as an abuse of the electronic system. i do not know whether similar measures were taken to restrict other records of the call such as contemporaneous handwritten notes taken by those who listened in. we should find out, shouldn't we? >> umm, chairman schiff, when i received the letter from michael atkinson on the 26th of august he concurrently sent a letter to the office of white house counsel, asking the white house counsel to control and keep any information that pertained to that phone call on the 25th. it was a lengthy letter. michael would be able to address it better. i know the icig has sent a letter to the white house counsel requesting that they keep all of that information. >> but you would agree that if there is a credible allegation from this credible whistle-blower, that white house officials were moving these
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records into a system that was not designed for that purpose in an effort to cover up, essentially, potential misconduct, that ought to be looked into, you would agree with that, wouldn't you? >> to the best of my knowledge, when this allegation came forward, this whistle-blower complaint on the 12th of august, i have no idea what the timeline was as far as whether or not the white house, the national security council, or anybody involved in that conversation, what they did with the transcripts, where they put them. i just have absolutely no knowledge nor the timeline of that, chairman. it is not something that would be under my authority or responsibility. >> the whistle-blower makes a series of allegations involving mr. giuliani, cites a report in "the new york times" about his planned trip to ukraine to press the ukrainian government to pursue investigations that would help the president in his 2020 reelection bid. you would agree if the president
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was instructing his personal lawyer to seek, again, foreign help in a u.s. presidential election, that that would be improper? i believe mueller described such efforts to seek foreign assistance as unethical, unpatriotic and very possibly criminal. would you agree with director mueller that to seek foreign assistance that way would be unethical, unpatriotic, and very possibly a violation of law? >> i believe that mr. giuliani is the president's personal lawyer and whatever conversation that the president has with his personal lawyer i would imagine would be by client/attorney privilege. i am in no position to criticize the president of the united states on how he wants to conduct that and i have no knowing of what mr.a giuliani does or does not do. >> let me ask you about a last couple of allegations of the
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whistle-blower. i learned from u.s. officials that on or around 14 may the president instructed vice president pence to cancel his travel to attend president zelensky's inauguration on 20 may. secretary of energy rick perry le led the delegation instead. it was made clear with them that the president didn't want them to meet with president zelensky until he saw how zelensky, quote, chose to act, close quote, in office. i also do not know whether this action was connected with the broader understanding described in the unclassified letter that a meeting or phone call with the president and president zelensky would depend on whether zelensky showed the willingness to play ball. do you know whether mr. pence, vice president pence's trip was
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pulled because of an effort to find out first whether ukraine was willing to play ball? >> chairman schiff, no, i do not. i have no knowledge of any of that until this information came to me from the icig. i have absolutely no situational awareness, no knowledge of any of those facts. >> would you agree that if the vice president's trip was canceled in order to put further pressure on ukraine to manufacture dirt on mr. biden, that that would be unethical, n unpatriotic, and potentially a crime? >> i do not know why the vice president of the united states did not do that. i do know what the allegation was within the whistle-blower complaint and i don't know whether that allegation is accurate or not, mr. chairman. >> finally, the whistle-blower says on july 18 an office of management and budget official informed departments and
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agencies that the president earlier that month had issued instructions to suspend all u.s. security assistance to ukraine. neither omb nor the nsc staff knew why this instruction had been issued. senator mcconnell said the other day he spoke with the secretary of defense and the secretary of state and he didn't know why an instruction had been given. doesn't that strike you as suspicious, director, that no one on the national security staff, no one in the senior leadership apparently of the party here in congress that approved the aid, understood why the president was spending aid? doesn't that strike you as just a little suspicious? >> chairman schiff, i'm just unaware, to be honest with you, how those decisions are made. i have no situational awareness of -- >> as a military man, if this military aid was withheld from an ally that is fighting off putin's russia and it was done so to be used as leverage to get
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dirt in a u.s. political campaign, don't you think that should be investigated? >> i have no reason to believe -- i do not understand -- i have no situational awareness if that was withheld or why it was withheld, mr. chairman. >> i can tell you, we are going to find out. director, i want to thank you for your attendance today, i want to thank you again for your service. as my colleague underscored, mr. welch, and i completely share his sentiment, no one has any question about your devotion to the country, no one has any question about your acting in good faith. i want to make that very clear. i think you're a good and honorable man. like my colleagues, i don't agree with the decisions you made. i agree with the inspector general's view of the law. and i'm deeply concerned about
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the message this has sent to other whistle-blowers about whether this system really works. if the subject of a complaint can stop that complaint from getting to congress, then the most of the serious complaints may never get here. and i want to thank the whistle-blower for their courage. they didn't have to step forward, indeed we know there were several others that had knowledge of many of the same events. i would say to those several others that have knowledge of those events, i hope that they too would show the same kind of courage and patriotism that this whistle-blower has shown. we are dependent on people of good faith to step forward when they see evidence of wrongdoing. the system won't work otherwise. and i have to say to our friends in ukraine who may be watching, just how distressing it is that as their country fights to liberate itself from russian oppression, as it fights to root
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out corruption in their own country, that what they would be treated to by the president of the united states would be the highest form of corruption in this country, that the president of the united states would be, instead of a champion of democracy and human rights and the rule of law, would instead be reinforcing a message with the new ukrainian president who was elected to root out corruption, that instead the message to that president would be, you can use your justice department, just call bill barr, you can use our justice department, to manufacture dirt on an opponent, that that's what democracy is. you can use foreign assistance, military assistance, vital assistance, as a lever to get another country to do something unethical. the idea that a fellow democracy, a struggling democracy, would hear those messages from the president of
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the united states, i just want to say to the people of ukraine, we support you in your fight with russia. we support you in your struggle for democracy. we support you in your efforts to root out corruption. and what you are witnessing, and what you are seeing in the actions of this president is not democracy. it is the very negation of democracy. this is democracy, what you saw in this committee, is democracy, as ugly as it can be, as personal as it can be, as infuriating as it can be, this is democracy. this is democracy. i thank you, director. we are adjourned. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> we've been watching live testimony before the house intelligence committee of acting director of national intelligence joseph maguire who has been on the job for 42 days. the committee is one of the
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intended recipients of the whistle-blower complaint that we got our first glimpse of this morning. it's an extraordinary document, one that details allegations of flagrant, stunning misconduct by the president and an elaborate effort on the part of the white house staff to, quote, lock down evidence of trump's alleged misconduct. watching all of this with us, msnbc political analyst and former u.s. senator from missouri, claire mccaskill. msnbc national security analyst matt miller. clint watts. msnbc national security contributor mike schmidt. ben rhodes, security adviser for president obama. claire, let me start with you. we sat here together at the end of "morning joe," poring through the whistle-blower complaint.
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we've now sat through three hours and 22 minutes of testimony from the country's acting dni, on the job for 42 days. a senior intelligence official telling me moments ago that congress has the roadmap, they have what they need in that complaint. >> yeah, i thought that there was way too much focus on process in this hearing and not enough on substance. i understand that there are constraints about what this witness was going to testify to. but i do think they got bogged down in, you know, why didn't he give it to congress. congress has it now. and it is an unbelievable inspector general report. unbelievable. and i don't think the public watching this got the full impact of what's in that report. >> the whistle-blower complaint, dwlof the we don't have the full ig report yet.
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>> we have the ig's letter and conclusions. we know he's an experienced prosecutor and the letter he provided is really the ig report in this instance. i think the most of the important thing this witness said, and i wish they had asked him to repeat it because repetition is a good friend of informing the public, when the witness said i think the whistle-blower did the right thing, that was a really important quote by the acting director of dni and i thought -- and that the whistle-blower and the ig acted in good faith and followed the law. >> i wrote down the same thing, i believe that the whistle-blower followed the law, the whistle-blower is doing what he believes to be the right thing. verifying that this whistle-blower is somebody that he as the acting dni, a trump
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employee, is credible, and standing by his ig as well, his i felt g also a trump appointee who has been before this committee in a closed session. >> that was a very important statement for mr. maguire to make. especially in the face of attacks from republicans on the hill which are only going to escalate. let's remember why adam schiff scheduled this hearing in the first place, is because the dni would not transmit this report. that pressure worked, we saw the whistle-blower report today. most of the news from today, the bombshell allegations in that whistle-blower complaint. however, there was a little bit of news in this hearing that the dni made at the beginning, and that is the first entity he went to outside of his own office to decide what to do with this complaint was the white house. why is that significant? because what we saw in this whistle-blower complaint is an allegation not just about underlying misconduct by the white house, by the president himself, but that the white
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house was trying to cover this up from the beginning. we now know when the dni -- and i think the dni was acting in good faith, he didn't know what to do. he went to the white house. he went to people who were acting in bad fought, people who were already trying to cover up the president's misconduct and extended that misconduct by blocking the complaint from being sent to congress until adam schiff started this escalating series of pressure tactics that led to it being made public this morning. >> you have written about how this logjam broke, how this whistle-blower complaint made its way, first yesterday, the intel committees, then this morning to the public. let me read a little bit from that report. this was was the whistle-blower alleges, allegations deemed urgent and credible by the intelligence community inspector general. the whistle-blower writes in his complaint, in the days following the phone call, that's the phone call between donald trump and the ukrainian president, i learned from multiple u.s.
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officials that senior white house officials had intervened to lock down all records of the phone call especially the word for word official transcript of the call that is produced as is customer by the sit room. one white house official described this act as an abuse of the electronic system because the call didn't contain anything remotely sensitive from the national security perspective. >> this reminded me of the nutjob meeting that the president had with the russians in the oval office, that is an example of where trump, right after firing comey, basically said that doing so had relieved great pressure on him, and that leaked out, and that was very damaging to the president. what we see in this complaint is that there are apparently other conversations like that that the president has had that are so potentially embarrassing or problematic that they have been sort of stored away elsewhere.
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it only raises the question, what is in those transcripts and in those documents? what is it that the president said? what leaders are they with? is it just regular calls with allies? is it calls with vladimir putin? it just heightens the issue of what is tucked away in this highly classified channel in the white house. >> it object lit ratliterates t the white house introduced yesterday. they hid that call away with human intelligence protocols. >> that's right. the dni indicated it had to be intelligence activity. this is intelligence activity. when you start moving things into the intelligence system, any way you look at it, those people fall under the dni, those
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are detailies who operate those systems. that's where representative quigley started to come in and a ask good questions. what is mr. giuliani's role? i would have followed up and said, was he meeting with the head of a security service with a foreign nation, was that business on behalf of the united states government? i thought it was interesting how the dn i felt said, i don't really know what his role is, what his position is, i don't know what he's doing, which supports a lot of the allegation. what's really going on, who is in charge of this government, what is the intelligence activity, what is the role of these people? it has to be highly confusing for people inside the government. >> this is a fast moving story, ben rhodes. matt miller made a great point, this story started moving before we knew we would be in possession of this extraordinary document, an unclassified version of the whistle-blower complaint that makes allegations
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that certainly suggests that more than just the president was involved in misconduct, that there was an elaborate effort under way, at least in this whistle-blower's view, to cover up what was perceived to be donald trump's effort to meddle in an upcoming presidential election. >> yeah, nicolle, it really is an extraordinary amount of information we've learned take. we've learned that donald trump withheld badly needed assistance, u.s. taxpayer dollars to ukraine, to leverage them to investigate his political opponents. we've learned he leveraged potential meetings with him or vice president pence attending an inauguration, again, to pressure them to investigate his political opponent. we've seen a window open into a really alarming, disturbing, unprecedented level of corruption of a very important national security relationship. ukraine is currently under invasion from russia. russia has annexed part of their territory.
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russia has military they've provided in eastern ukraine that is killing ukrainians and donald trump doesn't care about that, he cares about getting reelected. we have rudy giuliani flying around, we learned, potentially having meetings to pressure the ukrainian government to, again, investigate the president's political opponents. rudy giuliani is not an official of the united states government. and, you know, i think the acting dni is in a difficult position. when he says he doesn't know what rudy giuliani is up to. it's not like rudy giuliani is out there defending the president. rudy giuliani is out there trying to pressure the leader of a foreign government in a scheme. all of this makes you wonder what we're not seeing that this government is up to. >> let me add to our conversation jeremy bash, former chief of staff at the cia and the defense story, now, lucky for us, a national security correspondent for nbc news. jeremy, the rope that seems to tie around this entire
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administration, we are to believe that coincidentally putin is the punch line in another trumpian scandal, or once again, the president appears to be doing putin's bidding behind closed doors, another effort to damage potentially another opponent, and involving the entire white house -- not the entire, but a large number of white house and perhaps nsc staffers in covering it up. >> the near verbatim transcript released yesterday is actually a lot worse for the president than even the whistle-blower's complaint released this morning because in the near verbatim transcript released yesterday, we hear and see the president in his own words connecting defense support for ukraine with this effort to get manufactured dirt on joe biden. that actually, the fact that the united states was withholding defense support, that actually wasn't really key to the whistle-blower's allegations released this morning. what the whistle-blower did advance was there was a purposeful, months-long, very
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deliberate effort and campaign by donald trump and by rudy giuliani to give ukraine the cold shoulder, to make it clear to them that ukraine had to, quote, play ball, that was the phrase that was used in the whistle-blower complaint, and that once the transcript of the call was seen by about a dozen administration officials, not just at the white house but throughout the administration, white house lawyers quickly scrambled to, quote, lock down the documents. that's a clear effort to cover up what they knew was definitive wrongdoing by the president. >> what would be involved in locking down information like this? it wouldn't be classified for security purposes or human intelligence purposes prosecutor b , who would have been involved in that, people in what kinds of roles? >> according to the allegation,
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it was the white house lawyers, lawyers from the white house counsel's office that directed it. the direction would have probably gone to staffers on the security council as well as those who maintain the computer systems there as part of the nsc. ben rhodes and others who worked at the nsc can explain that in further depth. i think they realized, oh, my goodness, the president has just committed significant wrongdoing, maybe felonious acts in a phone call with a foreign leader. a lot of people heard this, we better make sure this transcript never sees the light of day. >> mike schmidt, you covered don mcgahn's role, we've all read about some of his investigations with the mueller investigators. if his legacy is that he kept donald trump just on the other side of criminality, this is what may get him impeached. >> the mcgahns are gone now, the
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guardrails. trump worked to get rid of them, he slowly weeded them out. >> why? >> i think he thought they got in his way and he was -- >> from colluding with foreign governments? >> from doing what he wanted to do. and he certainly has found that in rudy giuliani, a willing partner to do that, in a case where mcgahn said no. what we're seeing here is just the incredible way that donald trump has tested our government. whatever political party you come from or however you see this, we're seeing an incredibly unusual situation. a whistle-blower complaint about the president of the united states, probably something that was never contemplated when the whistle-blower statute was created. and how does the government deal with it? we're seeing that play out just in a way that if we sat here and made it up, people wouldn't take seriously. >> that's a good point. let me bring in democratic congressman eric swalwell of
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california, a member of the intelligence and judiciary committees. take that on, it seems like your committee grappled a little bit with the pace of this story. some of the questions didn't seem to reflect that we're all staring at the whistle-blower complaint. you, for your part, seemed to try to really focus the acting dni on this allegation that we've been talking about. this is what your question seemed to be about. the whistle-blower writes that according to multiple white house officials i spoke with, the transcript of the president's call with president zelensky was placed into a computer system managed directly by the nsc. this is a standalone computer system reserved for code word level intelligence information such as covert action. clearly not what this call or the notes from this call would have been needing, congressman. >> good afternoon, nicolle. yes, we wanted to show and i wanted to show in that exchange just what we're up against here. in essence, the whistle-blower
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calls a hotline. and he is providing an important tip and expecting that the police who are receiving the tip are going to do the right thing. and instead you see that the acting director of national intelligence, he receives this information, and the first person that he goes to are the white house lawyers who are trying to cover up for the president these transcripts. and so you just see what we're up against here. what was so concerning was the fact that there are other transcripts in this system which suggest to me, when you look at putin and the president's exchanges or mbs from saudi arabia or erdogan of turkey or kim jong-un, just imagine what is under lock and key right now and disguised from other white house employees because of shady dealings of this president. >> congressman, i was wondering those same kind of things. is your committee prepared to expand the inquiry to try to find out what else has been placed under -- it's a remarkable thing to read, having
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worked in the white house. they have placed notes from the president's calls into a stand john alone comput standalone computer system reserved for code word. how due unlock that trove of what may be more misconduct along the lines of what the whistle-blower complains about? >> we're focused on this ukraine for gain scheme, where the president shook down the ukrainian president. that's our focus right now and that is the tip of the spear of this impeachment investigation. we're going to stay focused on that. but as we learn information, of course, we're going to do all we can to protect america's secrets and make sure that the constitution is followed. >> congressman, what explanation have you heard for why this referral made from the intelligence community's watchdog, their inspector general, to the justice department, for criminal investigation or a national security investigation, was rejected if when the same office made that referral about hillary clinton's emails, it was
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aggressively pursued? >> there's no reason the attorney general should have been a part of this. he should have been recused. again, we're going to focus really right now on the president's conduct. we're not powerless. we are powerless to hold him accountable criminally under this attorney general. we're not powerless in congress. and we are moving full speed ahead to hold him accountable for this shakedown and the ensuing coverup. >> congressman eric swalwell, thank you for spending some time with us. ben rhodes, the same line of questioning. if we are learning from this whistle-blower about the extraordinary steps taken by the white house counsel's office, and i actually have to ask you, the acting dni maguire wasn't very forthcoming about his communications with the white house but the one thing he did reveal was that he called the white house counsel's office and basically made a document preservation request, asking them to preserve all documents
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related to the president's call. where does this thread lead us if the dni in trying to protect this whistle-blower and the complaint that's now before congress really does land at the feet of the president and his white house counsel? >> well, nicolle, i think we have to step back and return to what the whistle-blower complaint says about the way in which this call transcript was treated. so i was in the white house for eight years and i had access to all of the transcripts of president's conversations with foreign leaders. normally those are broadly disseminated with the government. a call to the president of ukraine would go to everybody who works on europe, everybody who works on russia, everybody who has a responsibility that intersects with that relationship. what is so striking to me here, nicolle, somebody intervened to make an essentially unclassified transcript and modify it into a much more limited dissimulation.
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in my experience, the only time you would do that is if two leaders were discussing something that was derived from very sensitive information that they needed to prevent that from being shared with other people. in this case, the only reason they would have to secure the dissemination of that information is that this was problematic, that this was embarrassing, this showed the president potentially committing a crime, engaged in acts of corruption. what does that mean? that means they are using the classification system of the united states government to protect them from people uncovering their corruption. i mean, just think about the scale of it, this is what got the whistle-blower's tension. essentially protocols put in place to protect the secrets of the united states are now being used to cover up the president's corrupt behavior. that is a massive corruption of the security apparatus of the united states, a massive corruption of the intelligence community's responsibility to classify. again, just imagine, the u.s. intelligence community being
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directed to use classification protocols to protect the president's corruption. that's what we're talking about. >> matt miller, it would be unbelievable if we hadn't seen it over and over again. as president, donald trump has written checks to michael cohen to pay for keeping quiet women with whom he had alleged sexual relationships. he sat in the oval office and finished out his payment plan for the hush money scheme for which he's now an unindicted co-conspirator in the southern district of new york. the other point that ben may be making too elegantly, we look to this president for high class crimes and they're often pretty low rent crimes. >> that's the thing about the transcript or the partial transcript or the rough transcript that we saw yesterday and the activities described in the whistle-blower's complaint today. they sound like the president we've seen operate for the last three years. >> we've seen a lot of congressman schiff. let's listen to him. >> -- and others potentially
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within the administration, in that it lays out a scheme to use the leverage of the presidency, use the leverage of the vital military assistance to a foreign nation to provide or obtain dirt on a political opponent. it's hard to imagine a more serious set of allegations than those contained in the complaint. the complaint goes further, obviously, than the record of the call in that it also alleges there were efforts made to conceal this scheme by moving communications on to servers that were designed for an entirely different purpose, that were designed to contain communications of covert action and other highly sensitive and compartmented information. it's an irony that the department of justice would say
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this is outside the jurisdiction of the director of national intelligence yet someone felt this should be put in the place used for protection of the most classified information. but what we do know at this point is this. when the inspector general found this whistle-blower was credible, he was right, because what this whistle-blower said about the nature that have call has been borne out in great detail by the call record that has now been released. in a very substantial part, this whistle-blower has already been found to be credible. whether the other allegations that go beyond this specific call will be borne out has yet to be determined and that will be the subject of our investigation. this whistle-blower has given ace roadmap for our investigation. it's important to underscore that what we are able to corroborate already about the whistle-blower has been corroborated in detail by this
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record of the president's conversation with the president of ukraine. that gives added weight and urgency to get to the bottom of the other allegations made by the whistle-blower. once again i want to express my profound gratitude to the whistle-blower for coming forward. and i respect the dni who came before our committee. yes, we provided a subpoena, but nonetheless he came before the committee voluntarily. and while i believe that he has made the wrong decision in withholding the complaint, like my colleagues, i respect his service to the country. but we are profoundly concerned with the breakdown of this whistle-blower system that has been manifest over the last month, that a whistle-blower that was deemed credible, that a complaint that was deemed
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urgent, would be withheld from congress and would be withheld on the basis of advice given by the subject or subjects of that complaint. the conflict of interest is all too apparent, all too palpable. it is indeed a minor miracle that we got the complaint at all and that we got the transcript at all. at the end of the day, what is alleged in this whistle-blower complaint goes to the very heart of the president's oath of office, that he faithfully execute the laws of the country, that he defend the constitution. and if as alleged, if as this record of call already indicates, the president was instead faithfully executing his office, was using that office as leverage to obtain dirt, to have another country manufacture dirt on his opponent, it is hard to imagine a more fundamental abuse of that office.
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and so we are determined to get to the bottom of this. i'm happy to respond to a couple of questions. >> reporter: what are your next investigative steps, what targets emerge from reading this complaint and the hearing today? what's the timeline on which you're hoping to work? obviously your recess begins on friday. >> we'll be working through the recess. i think the complaint gives us a pretty good roadmap of allegations to investigate. there is a whole host of people, apparently, who have knowledge of these events that the whistle-blower makes reference to. we don't know how many or any of them that have already been interviewed by the inspector general. we will be having a subsequent hearing with the inspector general which we have requested so that we can determine what he was able to find in his preliminary investigation. he had only 14 days to do it but it looks like he did a far more substantial investigation than anyone in the justice department was apparently willing to do.
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and so we will see which ones have been interviewed, which haven't. we'll do our best to identify those. we'll obviously bring the whistle-blower in. i was pleased that the director committed to having the whistle-blower come in as soon as issues are resolved with the whistle-blower's counsel, and that we have the commitment from the director of national intelligence that there will not be some minder from the white house or department of justice or anyone else that is instructing him or her what he or she can or cannot answer. that further testimony will i hope identify individuals who can corroborate these deeply troubling allegations. we want to determine what the documentary evidence is. we need to look into the allegation that this may not be the only communication of a potentially corrupt character that was shielded by this classified information computer system abused for that purpose.
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we want to know what role rudy giuliani had in all of this. we want to know what role bill barr had in any of this. we want to know what ukraine understood was expected of them before they even had this july phone call with the president of the united states. so we know what we have to do. of course we'll be guided by the evidence we find along the way. >> reporter: what potential crimes do you see in the complaint? >> look, i think there are any number of potential crimes, when a president is soliciting foreign assistance, again, in another presidential election. there can be no claim of ignorance this time. when a president is withholding authorized funding of congress to use as leverage. if the president were involved somehow in extorting a foreign
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nation to dig up or manufacture dirt on his opponent. if there's an effort to cover up any of this conduct. i have no confidence this attorney general will investigate anything except the president's adversaries. or claims that give fodder to the conspiracy theories which the president wishes to peddle which indeed he was peddling with president zelensky. sos as the department is unwilling to look into this, this will fall within our responsibility. >> interviews with rudy giuliani, with bill barr, and will you subpoena for those transcripts that were allegedly stored separate from the individual -- >> i won't get into specific investigation gate differen
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investigative steps at this point. but as i made clear in the questions that i had for the director today, each and every one of these allegations given their seriousness, given no one is looking into this for the last month that these urgent matters need to be thoroughly investigated. we'll moves a expeditiously as possible. of course it has been the history of this administration prior to this very graphic exception of the publishing of this call record and the provision of the complaint, declassify indication de cl declass if i indication of the complaint, that they have attempted to obstruct in every way. but we will work to conduct thisthis as swiftly as possible. >> and president trump just tweeted about you saying that you have zero credibility and another fantasy to hurt the republican party. how do you respond? >> i'm always flattered when i'm
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attacked by someone of the president's character. thank you. >> adam schiff taking a few more questions after chairing the hearing. andrea mitchell is joining us, host of andrea mitchell reports. also the person who knows more about the story than just about anyone. but as we came on, we were talking about some of the other individuals with some exposure on the story. take us through that. >> i would start with william barr. he is mentioned by the president by their own release of those notes or reconstruction if you will of the phone call with zelensky. and he mentions, you know, talk to giuliani, talk to the attorney general to investigate the bidens. and also as we know william barr was front and center in this whole reconstruction of an alleged dnc ukraine conspiracy that was at the heart of the
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president was saying of how is the mueller probe began in the first place. when he talks about crowd strike to zelensky, he is talking about the origins of the mueller investigation as far as he is concerned having already told the attorney general to investigate that. remember when the attorney general was given the power to declassify key top's krets from tfrom -- top secrets in that regard. so that is all part of the reconstructed notes. so why because barr and the officeof legal down selcounsel determines whether it shall go forward. he has a lot to answer for. the vice president mike pence did not question to the inaugural because as part of this time line, if you will, in the complaint he was substituted for the energy secretary rick perry who no one would say was
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part of any major conspiracy. the fact thmike pence was pulle back taking back u.s. support and credibility for this leader until he played ball, but that is the theater of the case. mike pence had to know why he was not going to the inaugural as previously announced. michael pompeo was just asked at a closing news conference of his involvement in the general assembly meetings, what does he know. he had not read the complaint. really? and said that he couldn't comment but that the state department's involvement in all of this was beyond reproach, i'm paraphrasing. somebody was involved in getting rid of the very highly regarded u.s. ambassador to ukraine right in the middle of this time line. the president of the united states has his first call with zelensky and then goes on fox news days later and talks about this prosecutor and it involves the bidens and it is a big
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dealing, it is incredible he says. days later, this ambassador is recalled from kiev where she has been opposing giuliani's meetings. volcker is empowering giuliani, setting up these meetings, making this all take place. and then only days later, a week later, she loses her job. and she has all along been objecting to the ex parte efforts by the state department and giuliani's behalf and according to the president william barr as well. >> andrea lays out all these data points that are not in dispute. the transcript -- or the notes from the call that the white house put out yesterday was put out by the white house. it is not in dispute that donald trump tied military aid to president zelensky investigating the bidens.
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it is not in dispute -- i suppose you could look at the whistleblower allegations about locking down the notes as being uninvestigated, but that is only because doj refused to investigate it. i mean, the fact pattern, the danger for democrats to me right now would steam to be muddying this up with too much granularity. donald trump south oght to run foreign policy the way tony soprano did but less eloquently. >> and there is a big circle here and clearly a lot of people are involved. at the least we know on the periphery. we don't know to what extent. if you start to pull all those in and get all that, do we get bogged down, do we get into another month's long mueller situation where this complaint that we see this morning in and of itself is enough to go forward. and the one -- there are so many places that you can light to
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really look at how bad this is. but probably the most important thing they have to ask, what else was inappropriately put on the secret server. if you start taking official documents and you start putting them on the secret server to avoid oversight, that is a problem. this is no different than richard nixon's tapes. this is trying to hide information from the american public that the people who are trying to cover up for the president want to in fact keep out of the public eye. so that is why --ky just say right now, i love whistleblowers. i spent a lot of time in the senate working on behalf of whistleblowers and inspectors general. i'm a former auditor. protecting them, making sure that they were never compromised, making sure inspectors general have the authority they needed to go where they needed to go and shine a bright lilt. if it were not for the
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whistleblower, we would not know about this conversation being placed on a secret server in order to keep it from the american public. and so really whoever this guy is, and we don't know who it is at this point, he will have an important place in history and i hope he becomes a role model for other people in the trump administration. you can come forward as a whistleblower and be protected. and it takes bravery, but he did the right thing. >> and we're joined on the phone now by john brennan, a national security analyst. director brennan, i want to ask you to pick up the thread that claire laid out on this whistleblower and tie it back to a conversation you and i have had countless days. this was another call about the house being on fire from the third floor bedroom of the white house. >> well, yes.
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and i think just thinking back the last 48 hours, we have so much more information. what i find very important is that based on the white house readout of the call, the whistleblower's complaint as well as the testimony, they are all reinforcing the theme that there has been rampant corruption that has been underway related to what mr. trump has been doing. i felt for maguire because those of us who know and respect joe, he is in a very difficults. 20/20 hindsight is always clear, but there is questionable decisions and judgments that i think joe made. going to the white house in the first instance regardless when clearly the whistleblower's complaint implicated trump and as well as white house officials. and then going to doj office of legal counsel despite the fact william barr is implicated as well. and then the orc opinion, even though he says he wasn't required to send the complaint forward, he could have done it with no obstacle to it.
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so, you know, as claire was saying, there are so many more substantive allegations now including this misuse and abuse of a highly classified intelligence community computer network system. and for people to say that this didn't fall under the dni's purview is wrong. the dni is responsible for maintaining the integrity of those systems. and if it is being used to cover up political corruption, that requires an investigation. and whether or not the senior official was asked to hide that material inside that computer system. so i do think that donald trump and his associates are in a heck of a lot more political trouble right now than they were 48 hours ago because of the substantive flow of these allegations coming through


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