tv Dateline Extra MSNBC April 1, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
freaked out and terrified because you've been the victim of violence. i think that aspect of it seems so crucial to a solution. tremaine lee, your reporting is phenomenal. thanks so much. i really appreciate it. that is "all in" for this evening. the rachel maddow show starts right now. >> thanks, my friend. have a great weekend. happy friday. god decided to give me an ice storm for my birthday this year so we're broadcasting from western massachusetts tonight. super happy to be here with a very nice group of people. sort of my home studio but it's been a long time since i've been here. i'm grateful to everybody for all the hard work that made this possible. there's a lot going on tonight. elizabeth warren and bernie sanders are in the other half of the state. they are co-headlining a big rally in boston. this is an event that has attracted thousands of people
sold-out event here in deep blue massachusetts. bernie sanders and elizabeth warren probably still are the highest profile democratic or in bernie sanders' case democratic-ish politicians in the party. at least not named hillary clinton or barack obama. when times change, especially when times change radically, you never quite know who's going to become the new center of the political universe. in the few short scandal-ridden weeks the trump administration has existed, we have grown some new household name democrats as a country. they haven't eclipsed the famous ones but they're starting to get pretty famous on their own. like this previously obscure california congressman, adam schiff. he's the top democrat on the house intelligence committee. most folks could not have picked him out of a lineup this past year.
but he's fast become one of the highest profile people in his party. not because people think of him as president schiff, although maybe some people do think that. i think more the reason he's become so prominent in the past few weeks and couple of months is because of the sense that when the white house turns on the tv and sees adam schiff there talking, important people in the white house with secrets to hide start grinding their teeth. and maybe throwing stuff and conceivably they start calling his republican counterpart to plot a new smoke screen to throw adam schiff off the case. newly prominent adam schiff met with donald trump. apparently it was not a big showdown. it's possible it wasn't even a planned event. but he went to the white house today to review intelligence documents, and apparently while he was there he had put his
office is describing as a cordial meeting with the president. i bet. this trip to the white house today was to review documents, documents that were apparently thrown up as a smoke screen for the trump/russia investigation. these are the documents that republican chairman devin nunes apparently obtained from white house officials and then gave a big press conference to make a big show of him carrying the documents back into the white house which is where they came from in the first place. the white house has still not admitted that the white house itself was the source of those documents for devin nunes. at least they haven't admitted it overtly. there's a whole bunch of problems here in terms of the way this has rolled out. devin nunes explicitly told a reporter he did not obtain those documents from white house officials, but apparently he did. apparently now the white house is at least implicitly admitting they were the source of the documents because today they
made those documents available to adam schiff. how else could they be showing them to adam schiff tonight if they never had them in the first place? the white house has still not explained why they previously covered up where they came from even if they are implicitly admitting now it was them. in print, this is sort of the cover-up part of this scandal, i guess. experiencing it though in day-to-day life, it feels less like a scandal and more like a fiasco. it feels like a mess. after reviewing those documents, schiff did release this statement about what he saw. quote, today my staff director and i reviewed materials at the white house. it was represented to me these are precisely the same materials presented to the chairman nunes over a week ago. while i could not discuss the content of the documents, if the white house had any concern over these documents they should have been shared with the full
committees in the first place as part of our oversight responsibilities. nothing i could see today warranted a departure from the normal review procedures, and these materials should be provided to the full membership of both committees. and then he closes with this. the white house has yet to explain why senior white house staff apparently shared these materials with but one member of either committee only for their contents to be briefed back to the white house. white house has yet to explain that. and he's right. it remains weird and unexplained that the white house is now implicitly admitting it's the source of these documents. that it has these documents and can show them to adam schiff. they're still not saying why they wouldn't admit to that before. the white house will still not say who let congressman devin nunes into the white house grounds to obtain these documents in the first place last week or why white house staffers gave the information specifically to him. all that remains unexplained. now we're left with more than
just the fiasco, more than just the mess. now we're left with some serious questions, the question of why white house staffers were looking at this information and leaking it in the way they did and whether that kaintds the white house was tracking the progress of the fbi's investigations or either trying to pervert the course of those investigations in congress. today nbc news reported that before the obama administration left and the trump administration came on board, obama administration officials made a list of documents related to the russia investigation basically in order to keep them safe. quoting from the nbc news report today, quote, obama administration officials were so concerned about what would happen to key classified documents related to the russia probe once president trump took office that they created a list of document serial numbers to give to senior members of the intelligence committee. a former obama administration
official tells nbc news that after the list of documents related to the probe and the russian interference was created in early january, after that list of numbers was created, he, the former obama administration official, hand carried that list of serial numbers to members of the senate intelligence committee. the purpose was to make it, quote, harder to bury the information. so the investigation into the russian attack on our election last year started during the obama administration. the obama administration was worried that the trump folks would erase it, would get rid of what had been found already. nbc news reports tonight that obama administration officials made a list off all the documents that existed at the time trump took over. and now the senate intelligence committee can look at that list and they can find out if any of those documents related to the investigation have in fact been
mysteriously disappeared. they have basically the table of contents just in case someone has been burning the chapters. and maybe making that list was not such a bad idea. remember what a weird thing it was when we found out steve bannon was getting a seat on the national security council. this is the freaking national security counsel. steve bannon is the publisher of a right wing website. who lives on seinfeld royalties. what is he doing on the national security council? after an initial freakout that steve bannon was on the principals committee and the cia director and the chairman of the joint chiefs were not on that principals committee, after a furor over that development, those other high ranking officials were reinstated at the national security council. but bannon didn't go. they kept bannon there as well. even after they got rid of general michael flynn as national security adviser and
replaced him with h.r. mcmaster, they still kept bannon on at the national security council. mcmaster was reportedly told he could hire and fire at will on the national security council. that didn't turn out to be true. he did try to fire a man named ezra cohen watnick, and the white house, including steve bannon, intervened to keep ezra cohen watnick in his job. and now watnick has been named as two of the people who took intelligence intercepts that may or may not be related in the potential collusion with russia. they took those intercepts and fed them out of the white house for political effect. it's weird steve bannon's on the national security council, right? still, especially if the national security council is
turning out to be the vehicle by which the white house is trying to kibosh the investigation. joining us is ned price. until mid-february, mr. price worked at the cia as a spokesman and senior analyst. before he quit that job. he's also in the past served as senior director at the national security council. thank you for taking the time to be here tonight. appreciate you being here. >> good to be here. >> so i highlighted the role of adam schiff here because he has been very aggressive in not just pursuing this investigation, but also raising questions about what the white house has done, how the national security council has behaved. he's basically described national security councils as being implicated in laundering intelligence as hiding the origins of intelligence that was fed out and made public for political purposes. as somebody who worked on the national security council, how does that strike you as an allegation? >> well, it's absolutely incredible and it certainly
appears to be what happened here. look, rachel, president trump made a name for himself as a showman, and i think what we've seen over the past week has been little more than amateur political theater, except the stakes in this case are certainly much higher than who gets the apprenticeship with the trump organization. this is really about our national security. the true nature of this incident began to reveal itself earlier this week when chairman nunes finally confirmed that, yes, he met his sources on the white house grounds. that was the clearest indication to date that this was a scheme that was cooked up by the white house including by apparently these two senior national security council officials. and i say scheme cooked up because they didn't need chairman nunes to go down to the white house to have this furtive surreptitious meeting. they didn't need this middle man. these two senior nsc officials could have made the five-minute walk from the fourth floor of the eisenhower building where
mr. cohen watnick's office is located to the oval office if they felt they had something important the president needed to see. instead as vice chair schiff said, they laundered this information through devin nunes who has proven himself a willing pawn of the white house for a couple reasons. one he wanted to add credibility to the documents, and they wanted to obscure the source and, three, they wanted to distract from the unmitigated disaster that was the house permanent select committee on intelligence hearing last monday in which director comey admitted for the first time there is an active, ongoing counterintelligence investigation that could well reach into the white house. frankly, they've succeed. they may have gotten away with it, but eventually this caper caught up with them. >> ned, one of the things people are starting to get increasingly concerned about, and this nbc report today about
obama administration officials making a list of serial numbers relating to documents related to the russia investigation and taking it down the road to the senate intelligence community so it exists somewhere outside the administration after the trump folks got on board. people are worried about the prospects within the white house and within the security council there's the possibility not just for tracking the investigations into the trump/russia situation but potentially for sabotaging them or disappearing key aspects of those investigations and the intelligence work on which they're based. can you tell us if those fears are based in reality? is that far-fetched? is that something people should worry about? >> up until january 20th, i would have said no, that's outlandish. we wouldn't have an administration in power that would work and subvert the system in that way. but, unfortunately, now i'm not so sure. if that report is accurate, it may well have been prudent to preserve that intelligence and
to ensure there's a documentary record. it's also important to note that the nbc news report doesn't allege the previous administration gave this solely to senator warner. that the obama administration gave it to the entire senate intelligence committee. look, there's another challenge here that i think we'll need to be cognizant of and vigilant against. this administration, reaching directly into the department of justice. of course, attorney general sessions has purportedly recused himself from this investigation. but this administration, the trump administration, has shown no compunction against breaking that previously inviable wall between the white house and the department of justice. even the federal bureau of investigation. and i think we need to be concerned and watch to ensure this is not the case and that this investigation can go wherever it needs to go. >> ned prirks former spokesman and analyst at the cia.
senior director at the national security council. ned, thank you for joining us. >> happy early birthday. >> thank you very much. tonight we have a guest who is very smart who has been saying something very, very scary. we are not going to have a cocktail moment tonight, but nobody will blame you if you have a little tipple in the commercial break. see you in a moment. we'll be right back. more compl. flonase helps block 6 key inflammatory substances that cause all your symptoms, including nasal congestion and itchy, watery eyes. flonase is an allergy nasal spray that works even beyond the nose. so you can enjoy every beautiful moment to the fullest. flonase. 6>1 changes everything. you need one of these. you wouldn't put up with an umbrella that covers you part way, so when it comes to pain relievers,
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one week from tonight republicans say they intend to have confirmed the president's pick for the united states supreme court. they intend to put the nomination of neil gorsuch before the full senate for a vote on friday. it is not at all clear whether they are going to get there on this vote. the top democrat in the senate, chuck schumer, has been saying democrats will filibuster this nomination. he says republicans should not get to confirm a supreme court pick while the cloud of this russia investigation is hanging
over the president. chuck schumer is one crucial vote closer to bringing that filibuster fight to the end the democrats want. progressives by and large have been on board with chuck schumer and pushing him in this direction. the big question is whether their more conservative members would go along with it too. well, tonight, centrist democrat claire mccaskill who has struggled openly with whether to block this nomination. she announced which way she is going, and she is going for the filibuster. senator mccaskill saying, i cannot support judge gorsuch because his opinions reveal a rigid ideology that puts the little guy under the boot of corporations. he's shown a stunning lack of humanity. the president who promised working people he'd lift them up has nominated a judge who can't even see them. this decision by the senator
mccaskill takes away a vote that republicans have been counting on for gorsuch. they need eight democrats on their side in order to get around the filibuster. so far they only have two. heidi heitkamp and joe manchin of west virginia. and that's it. republicans are running out of democrats who could be one over on this. will democrats stick together and successfully filibuster the gorsuch nomination? if they do that, will republicans respond by using the nuclear option and taking away the power to filibuster altogether? the stakes are super high, the outcome quite unclear. and that, of course, makes for left, right and center. happy friday. we'll be right back. s the bees ♪ ♪ and the flowers and the trees♪ ♪ and the moon up above ♪ ♪ and a thing called love. ♪ ♪ let me tell you 'bout the stars in the sk♪, ♪ a girl and a guy♪
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this is a check for $7.2 million. as you can tell, it's an old check. hard to read. obviously a ton of money. but back when this was signed in 1867, it was tons and tons of money. $7.2 million in 1867 was about $125 million in today's money. that's what we paid as a country to get alaska. that's what we paid for alaska. the country that cashed that check from the united states of america was russia. that's who we got alaska from.
russia was sort of strapped for cash at the time. the crimean war didn't turn out awesome. they weren't getting enough out of alaska. so they cut a deal. the u.s. secretary of state william seward gave them that check for $7.2 million and they gave us territory that was one-fifth the size of the continental united states. that deal was made 150 years ago yesterday. william seward took a ton of heat for it. people thought it was an expensive bad deal for america. they called it seward's folly. now of course, we're quite psyched to have alaska. you know who's not psyched we have alaska now? russia. they have seller's remorse. they haven't been grinding their teeth about it for all 150 years, but they are sort of grounding their teeth about it now. this is a russian magazine
called "military industrial courier" which i promise you i do not read on the regular. this got picked up in the "new york times" yesterday. this article is called "the alaska we lost." darn you, william seward for snickering us on that deal. yesterday vladimir putin was at an international forum in the arctic where he was not only complaining about alaska, he was complaining that the united states is unfairly using alaska as part of our plot for world domination. he said, quote, what we do is contained locally, while what the u.s. does in alaska, it does on the global level. the united states is using our unfair toehold in alaska for purposes of global oppression. obviously. you wouldn't expect this sort of thing if you weren't looking for it. but there is a bit of russian nationalistic fervor around the
issue of alaska. in 2011, the white house under president obama started their "we the people" petitioning system. on the white house website, if you get enough people to sign up on any petition, the white house has to answer. the death star to gay rights to the war in syria to 9 million different petitions about legal pot. but in 2014 one of these petitions popped up and it was about alaska. it didn't break any records in terms to the response to it, but something about the petition itself seemed a little off. and then the response to the petition was definitely off. we have a snap of it. it's not posted online anymore. we have the diligent national heroes at the wayback machine
for capturing this screen shot. you can read it for yourself. what's wrong with this picture? quote, we've petitioned the obama administration to alaska back to russia. group siberian russians crossing the isthmus 6-10,000 years ago, russia began to settle on the arctic coast. first visited alaska during the expedition. 1729 to 1735 years. vote for secession of alaska from the united states and joining russia. let me guess, google translate russian to english wasn't that awesome in 2014, right? it seemed like an odd thing at the time. this oddly translated give us back alaska thing. who wants this? got a little bit of news pickup at the time. ended up on the white house website. but almost instantly it get
39,000. where did those come from? they can't all be from people who think it's hilarious. former executive officer of the counterterrorism at west point, clinton watts, he'll pick up the part of the story from there. >> in april 2014, andrew weisberg and i noticed a petition on the white house website. alaska back to russia appeared a public campaign to give alaska back to russia. satirical or nonsense appearing on the white house website are not out of the norm but this petition was different. it gained more than 30,000 signatures. it revealed an odd pattern. it appeared to be the work of bots. a closer look of the bots tied in with other social media campaigns we had objected pushing propaganda months before. >> that's clinton watts testifying at the senate
intelligence committee about some of the more ham-handed russian influence operations he's noticed in his counterterrorism work -- counterintelligence work in the united states. noticing how even stupid stuff like that around a poorly spelled white house petition, even when it's dumb, it gives you a place to start in terms of seeing what tools they have, in terms of seeing how they operate. so basically getting 39,000 signatures instantly on this groovy, mistranslated petition, it gave away a little bit how they worked because they operate in lots of ways, serious and not, some of those signatures were clear by counterintelligence people. by the time those same forces were operating inside something very high profile, they were operating inside the u.s. presidential election. >> the final piece of russia's modern act in the summer of 2016
hacked materials were strategically leaked. the disclosures of wikileaks, guccifer 2.0 and d.c. leaks demonstrated how hacks would influence the power in the two years. on the evening of 30 july 2016, my colleagues and i watched as rt and sputnik news simultaneously launched false stories of the u.s. air base in insir lick turkey being overrun. within minutes, automated bots amplified this false news story. more than 7500 tweets going back to the active measures accounts we tracked in the previous two years. these identified accounts almost simultaneously appeared from different geographic communities amplified the fake news story in unison. >> clinton watts on how the russian attack worked in a nuts and bolts way. what it looked like to see it
unfolding and how they did their work. he's talking about what intel people call active measures. there's a term of art civilians like us don't normally use. but in this case what it means is not just grabbing information. not just stealing secrets, and thenution that information back home for their own purposes. active measures means you are instead deploying whatever weapons you've got back here, back at us. in pure terms, sort of in the plutonic ideal of spy agencies, what they do is they spy. they just steal information. but in real life, there are active measures. in real life, they do stuff. they don't just listen in. in real life they wage war. >> today russia hopes to win the second cold war through the force of politics as opposed to the politics of force. while russia certainly seeks to promote western candidates sympathetic to their world view, winning a single election is not their end goal.
they hope to topple democracies through five complementary objectives. one, undermine citizen confidence, two, exacerbate divisive fixtures and four, popularize russian policy agend as and five, create general distrust or confusion over information sources by blurring the lines between fact and fiction. a very pertinent issue today in our country. from these objectives the kremlin can crumble from the inside out. >> that's how clinton watts put it front of the senate intelligence committee. and that's generally what u.s. intelligence agencies say we are up again, why russia launched this attack and how. but there's one last piece of it i think we've been missing that tells us about russia and potentially tells us a lot about ourselves at least about our current political situation. the investigation into whether
or not russia had help, had american collaborators in its attack is probably the most salient part of it now that we're sure russians mounted the attack. and we're more and more comfortable understanding exactly how they did it. thomas ridd is a british cybersecurity expert who also testified this week. he gave new details about how intense the attack was on the clinton campaign. in one month-long period from march 10th to april 7th, he testified yesterday that hackers working for the russian service made personalized specific attacks on 109 different staffers from the clinton campaign. 109 different staffers targeted in that one month. jake sullivan, one top clinton adviser, got hit 14 times alone last march. 14 separate attacks by russian military intelligence, all
personally tailored specifically to him to compromise his data just in one month. we've now got this good understanding of how the hard democratic party and the clinton campaign got hit by russia. the russians really targeted them. they really, really tried hard to hurt hillary clinton and help donald trump during the presidential general election. but what we did not necessarily get before is that the russians reportedly didn't help trump just win the election, they helped him win the republican nomination as well. >> through the end of 2015 and start of 2016, the russian influence system began pushing themes and messages seeking to influence the outcome of the u.s. presidential election. they were in full swing during both the republican and democratic primary season and may have helped sink the hopes of candidates more hostile to russia.
senator rubio, in my opinion, you anecdotally suffered from these efforts. >> senator marco rubio took that moment in stride in the hearing. he later confirmed in the hearing that his office was aware of him being targeted by russian cyberattackers. part of that is trivia about how the republican primary went down. just as it's interesting trivia about the general election as to how the russians helped trump there as well. honestly none of us can say the way a particular election would have gone in the absence of any one factor, including the russian attack. but the investigations now in our country are twofold. one is how did the russians pull it off? we're getting more and more information on that every day. boy, they've come a long way from their give alaska back petitions, but the other thing that's being investigated, the more salient thing for us as a country, the forward looking thing in terms of what we're doing now with who's in power now and what the accountability is now, the more important part of the investigation is, did the trump campaign coordinate with
them? were they in on it? were they not just incidental beneficiaries of something putin did? if it is true that the republican primary was also a battlefield for the russians, that's an important piece of this, because if they did help in the primaries as well as helping in the general, that means they weren't just wanting hillary clinton to lose. they weren't just trying to affect the general election. if they were working in the primary as well to elect a specific candidate in the primary, that means they were not agnostic as to who got to the general election. they specifically wanted donald trump. they wanted him more than anybody else. why is that? what did russia find more attractive about him than anybody else on offer? stay with us.
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whfight back fastts, with tums smoothies. it starts dissolving the instant it touches your tongue. and neutralizes stomach acid at the source. ♪ tum -tum -tum -tum smoothies! only from tums my question is first, why did he think he could get away with it this time? this is not new for the russians. they've done this for a long time across europe, but it was much more engaging this time in our election. why now? mr. watts? >> i think this answer is very simple and is what no one is really saying in this room, which is part of the reason active measures have worked in this u.s. election is because the commander in chief has used russian active measures at time
against his opponents. on 14 august 2016, his campaign chairman after a debunked -- >> when you say "his" -- >> paul manafort cited the fake incirlik story as a terrorist attack on cnn and used it as a talking point. on 11 october president trump stood on a stage and cited what appears to be a fake story from sputnik news that disappeared from the internet. he denies the intel from the united states about russia. he claimed that the election could be rigged. that was the number one theme pushed by rt sputnik news all the way up until the election. he's made claims of voter fraud, that obama's not a citizen, that congressman cruz is not a citizen. part of the reason active measures works and it does today in terms of trump tower being wiretapped is because they parrot the same lines. >> clinton watts testifying at the senate intelligence committee about the russian
attack on are our elections and how the trump campaign acted to amplify what the russians were doing, whether they knew that's what we were doing or not. former fbi special agent clinton watts joins us now. thanks for spending time with us this evening. >> thanks for having me, rachel. >> i'd like to start by asking about that question that i just raised about willingness. you described repeatedly moments where you saw donald trump the candidate and other people in his campaign including his campaign manager amplifying what had been done by the russians, reiterating it, giving it more substance by repeating it. is there any way to tell if that they knew that's what they were doing or was it unwitting? >> i can't prove that but sometimes the synchronization and rapidity of taking russian
messages put out by propaganda outlets and spinning them into campaign stumps or using them as talking points was quick. you see stone who says i've heard that wikileaks has something coming out. he's communicated openly with guccifer, which is a russian hacker, why go to a russian intel operation, why go to russian propaganda sites and take their talking points to use against another american. it's curious. there's two parts. is it, one, he's complicit and coordinating? i think that's unlikely. maybe his aides were at some point. that needs to be investigated. but the other part is opportunistic. and why be opportunistic when your motto is america first but you're clearly not putting americans first if you're using russian propaganda. >> let me ask you about one specific incident which was about this fake story that there had been an attack on the u.s.
base in turkey. it's called incirlik. can you explain, walk us through how that was -- what was fake about that? how it was used and how it then surfaced in realtime in this campaign. >> there were two real things that were going on that night. there was a small protest outside the gate, and there wasn't increased security around the base. the joint chiefs of staff were flying in the next day. this is after the coup if you remember in turkey. that story was then changed and manipulated into there is a terrorist attack, a benghazi-style terrorist attack and is hitting the base and there's loose nukes out there. that comes out from overt outlets, rt sputnik news, simultaneously.
within a few minutes you see many amplifying accounts, which we call gray accounts, very pro-russian accounts, website that take those pictures, spin them even further and amplify those stories with bots. the goal is to get it into the top trending stories on twitter so that mainstream media needs to react to it. the way they do that is using hashtags. the ones they wanted to create panic with were nuclear, the media to try to get a reaction from mainstream media outlets like msnbc, the second was trump and the third was benghazi. you're essentially communicating the story is another benghazi-style attack trying to bring real trump supporters into this story to further promote the conspiracy. >> that started in terms of the way they created it, and then the trump campaign cited it as if it was a true story without reference to the origin of the news or without checking it with u.s. sources?
>> right. it wasn't even just that. the story was debunked. it happened at the end of july. we published on the 8th of august. on the 14th of august is when paul manafort went back and cited that story whenever he was doing an interview. why would you take a russian propaganda line to begin with and a story that had been clearly debunked in the days before and regurgitate that as your own talking point against the clinton campaign. >> clinton watts, would you mind sticking with us for one more quick question? i'd like to ask you about how you feel about the state of the investigation. to you find staying with us? >> yes. >> clinton watts who testified before the senate intelligence committee this week's former executive officer at counterterrorism center at west point. he'll be right bac with us. stay with us. you have access to in-depth analysis, level 2 data, and a team of experienced traders ready to help you if you need it. ♪ ♪
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we're back now with former fbi special agent clinton watts who testified at the senate intelligence committee about the russian attack on our election last year. mr. watts, thank you again for sticking with us. >> thank you. >> you have seen a little bit of this investigation close up now. you testified in this open hearing in the senate committee this week. i just have to ask you, given what you have seen in your own work on this, what you testified about, and what you know of how the united states is responding, what do you make of the state of the investigations thus far? >> i think what's interesting is i saw a really great bipartisan can yesterday when i was at the senate. great questions from both
republicans and democrats, very responsible. there wasn't a lot of politics thrown into it. and that's not necessarily what i expected, having watched the house investigation a week before. to be honest, i was a little bit nervous about going in there. but every senator that was there yesterday i truly believe had america's best interests at heart. i felt the chairman and the co-chairman did a great job on moderating that session. it did restore my hope a good bit that we can get so some regulation on what's really going on with the russian meddling and get a full picture of that. i'm only speaking of it in terms of the influence approach. yet a full understanding of everything that is going on. >> as a former fbi special agent, do you believe the fbi has the capacity to get to the bottom of this, get to the bottom even of the possibility of collusion? some people have suggested that some issues would be better handled by the cia than the fbi for example. do you think the fbi is up to it? >> i think the fbi is not only up to it, but the right place to do it.
they the investigations, especially retroactively like this one better than anyone in the world. i think what would help them a lot is the political meddling to not short circuit the investigations. every time we have alternative processes running through the white house, when we have legislators moving between the executive branch for special briefings, that's going to shut down sources of information. authenticity that's going to extend and cloud the investigation. we need to give the fbi time to do the good investigation and clear things up. they can only do that if they're given the resources and space to do it, and not pushed politically in one direction or another. >> clinton watts, former fbi special agent, counterterrorism agent. i think we understand more about this than we did before your testimony this week. thank you, sir. i appreciate you being here tonight. >> thanks for having me. >> all right. we've got more ahead tonight. do stay with us. (vo) when i brought jake home,
i wanted him to eat healthy. so i feed jake purina cat chow naturals indoor, a nutritious formula with no artificial flavors. made specifically for indoor cats. purina cat chow. nutrition to build better lives. sunday this weekend will mark one week since the big protests in russia last weekend. they were the largest anti-government protests since 2011 and 2012. tens of thousands of people took to the streets in dozens of cities all over russia to protest against corruption. in moscow alone, tens of thousands of people showed up. there may be a repeat of the russia protests this weekend. and we know this because it seems like the russian government is trying to take preemptive measures to shut those protests down.
the prosecutor's general's office has asked a state media regulatory block access in russia to youtube videos and social media posts that call for people to take to the streets on sunday. i don't speak russian, but these are reportedly scans of a letter the prosecutor's office sent to the media regulator to block access to the videos and posts so people won't know that they are being called on to go out and protest. it's unclear exactly who is behind what would be this weekend's new round of protests. the guy who was behind the last one's anti-corruption opposition later leader alexei navalny. he was given a 15-day prison sentence. he is still in jail now. no word whether they're going to try to stretch out his sentence longer. in addition to him being in jail, basically everybody who works for him also got put in jail. more than a dozen of his staffers and anti-corruption group got arrest and put in jail. they all too tonight are still in jail. their offices were apparently ransacked. all their paperwork and computers were taken by the russian police.
this is the sort of thing that would have lit up the u.s. state department as recently as a few months ago. but so far in this case, the united states has released exactly one statement about russia's treatment of its citizens in this regard. it was from the state department. it came out in the middle of the night russia time, and there has been nothing other than that. russian president vladimir putin threatening a further crackdown on protest, threatening to make penalties for protesting even stronger. even with that brand-new threat, there is no response from our white house. crickets. at that same public appearance, vladimir putin tried hard to downplay his connection was the trump white house, saying this guy rex tillerson everybody says i know him. i've only met him a couple of times. he said, quote, if mr. tillerson corp., i've met with him several times before. two or three times. well will be sure to discuss this issue if i meet him again. two or three times? really. here are five times when vladimir putin met with our now secretary of state rex tillerson. these are all from when tillerson was the head of exxon.
and that's rile rally from just the first page of a google image search. the oldest picture in our cursory search was 2005. that's him all the way on the left, rex there. then there is this lovely one from 2011 when he went to putin's summer home in sochi to sign a giant oil deal. the most memorable is from the summer of 2013 when putin awarded tillerson the highest noncitizen honor anyone can get in russia. he shook his hand, toasted him with champagne. see? they're buddies. they go way back. but as russians plan to take too the streets if they dare this weekend with the leading presidential candidate opposition figure still in jail and his organization having all its staffers jailed and having its papers torn apart and having its computers confiscated by the russian government, that is the sort of thing that the u.s. used to rail against. in this case, i think that vladimir putin knows that there is no threat he is going to hear from his old buddy rex giving him any heat this time.
that's it for tonight. now for time for a special edition of "the last word." march madness, a look at this chaotic month in the very young trump presidency. good night. >> the now attorney general spoke twice with russian ambassador in encounters he later did not disclose. >> do you feel confident -- >> have i now decided to recuse myself. >> donald trump was up early this morning rage tweeting. he is now accusing president barack obama of wiretapping his phones during the campaign. >> there was no such wiretap activity. >> will the president apologize to president obama? >> let's not get ahead of ourselves. >> i have no information that supports those tweets. >> a historic moment on capitol hill today. >> the fbi is investigating whether there was any coordination between the campaign and russia's efforts. >> the answer is continues to be no. >> today i briefed the president on the concerns that i had about incidental colct