tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC May 18, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
community, hispanic groups, trying to build relationships. because as the chief federal law enforcement officer in new jersey, it was my responsibility to makes sure that all of those people understood what the federal government did, that we had great working relationships with our law enforcement partner, and that all of those other groups i was talking about understood that our job was to protect them and to make sure that they understood what their relationships with law enforcement could and should be. those relationships did not transition the way i would have liked. >> paul fishman, former u.s. attorney from new jersey, now law professor at seton hall. can i put you on the spot and ask you to please come back and talk to me more about the process. i know you're not going to talk about any of the investigation you were involved in. >> no. >> but this process to me is a real question mark. and i'd love to talk to you more than. >> i'm happy to do that or to talk about special counsel or some other topic of the day. >> thanks a lot. former u.s. attorney in new jersey. that does it for us tonight. we'll see you tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." good evening, lawrence. >> i think we basically have open invitations to federal prosecutors and anybody who knows anything about special
prosecutors, how they operate in the justice department. with a special prosecutor announcement, you to figure we're on the special prosecutor story, rachel, for at least two years. that would be in the recent records of special prosecutors. quick that would be fast work. >> yeah. >> from that, if it goes two years, we're right into a presidential campaign, during which the special prosecutor's work might still be going on. we're going need u.s. attorneys every night, rachel. >> and u.s. attorneys and the special counsel, it's an interesting thing. the u.s. attorneys are prosecutors. the fbi are investigators. they don't prosecute cases. special counsel is both prosecutor and overseeing the investigators, has this incredible power. but as you say, the historical record for people who have had jobs like this, they tend to go on for a very, very long time without the public hearing anything for a long time. so, yeah. >> the biggest one, the special prosecutors office that had the
most important work to do and completed it was the fastest one. the watergate special prosecutor was 18 months. >> ah. >> and they had people in jail within 18 months. >> in 18 -- if this goes on at this pace for another 18 months, i'm going to need to drop some doppelgangers from a parallel dimension, because i can't work this hard every day. >> you know what you might need? you might need more commercials. instead of this less commercials thing where we kind of get 30 seconds break in a whole hour? maybe you might even want commercials for a change. >> we will sell more pills. >> the audience loves that suggestion. more commercials. sorry about that. thank you, rachel. thank you. well we have new report news in the "washington post," reports that would be the story of the month. reports that would be instantaneous pulitzer candidates, unless there was another report the next day or the next hour in "the new york times" or "the washington post" that is even bigger. and so tonight one of these
reports shows that james comey had concerns about president trump long before the president fired him. was very suspicious of the president and the president's behavior with him. and another report. president trump is reportedly still talking to michael flynn, a man he fired who is at the center of all of these investigations. and one of these reports says that president trump hopes, believes, looks forward to the possible day when michael flynn can come back to work in the white house, when all of this is over. >> the entire thing has been a witch-hunt. >> this is not a witch-hunt. this is a search for fax. >> believe me, there is no collusion. >> it seems to me now to be considered criminal investigation. >> i think it's totally ridiculous. everybody thinks. so. >> i think everybody's relieved that robert mueller has been appointed. >> i'm fine with whatever people want to do. >> he is not fine. we know he is not fine because
he reveals himself in his early morning tweets. >> the president is his own worst enemy. >> he can take care of himself. >> we look forward to getting this whole situation behind us. >> did you at any time urge former fbi director james comey to back down the investigation into michael flynn? and also, as you -- >> no, no. next question. >> the administration knew he was under criminal investigation when they hired him. >> and he is up for the most sensitive job in the white house? that should have stopped it right there. >> i mean, come on, now, this is not rocket scientist stuff. >> does anybody have any questions? i'm shocked. >> it is human nature to crave familiarity. we are constantly seeking recognizable patterns around us. in everything that we do. so that we can understand what's
going on. and the more confusing something is, the more we crave a model for it. an explanation. and so in washington today, the word "watergate" is on the tips of everyone's tongues. and there is nowhere to go in the white house or the congress to escape the shadow of watergate today. every time a special prosecutor has been appointedo investigate a presidential administration since the watergate investigation of the nixon administration, everyone in washington, virtually everyone in the news media has wondered aloud is this the next watergate? because if it is the next watergate, then we know where we are. we understand the model. we know what's going to happen next, roughly. we know what we're working with. but if it's not the next watergate, and it might not be the next watergate, then we don't know what it is. we don't know. that could mean that it's
something we've never seen before. and it also means that it adds up to nothing. in the end. just a confusing bunch of nothing. nothing criminal. and everyone in washington always wants to know exactly what they're dealing with. exactly what it is, or at least to be able to pretend to know exactly what they're dealing with. and until they do, they will mostly default to the model of watergate on this one, to understand where we are in america tonight. and now we're hearing the language of watergate. not just in comments from senator john mccain comparing the current situation to watergate, to the size and scale of watergate. but this the language of the president himself. on july 22nd, 1973, bob woodward and carl bernstein reported in "the washington post" that president nixon and his top aides in the white house, quote, believe that the senate watergate hearings are unfair and cute a political witch-hunt according to white house
sources. no white house source would dare put his name on that quote for woodward and bernstein. it was a very hot quote, controversial quote. the white house isn't supposed to sound like that at all. the white house is supposed to speak with a calm, reassuring voice. witch-hunt. that's not white house language. the white house is not supposed to accuse the senate of conducting a political witch hunt. the white house has to do business with the senate every day. you can't talk like that. so no one in the nixon white house would allow themselves to actually be caught by name using that phrase then, witch hunt. at 7:52 a.m. today, the president of the united states was awake and tweeting. this is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in american history. last night, the white house
issued a statement written for the president in language that he would clearly never personally use saying, "as i have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. i look forward to this matter concluding quickly." it was a perfectly reasonable presidential-sounding white house statement about a situation like this. but everyone knew that would not be the president's last word about the investigation. everyone knew we would have to wait for the early morning tweet to find out what he was really thinking. and of course the early morning tweet completely contradicted last night's written statement. in the early morning it was suddenly a witch hunt. so that contradiction inevitably led to this question today. >> was this the right move or is this part of a witch hunt? >> well, i respect the move.
but the entire thing has been a witch hunt. and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign. but i can only speak for myselves and the russians, zero. i think it divides the country. i think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things. so i can tell you that we want to bring this great country of ours together. >> the president, if he becomes a witness under oath for a special prosecutor will not be the first president who became a witness for a special prosecutor under oath. today he got a bit of a rehearsal for what that might be like. he was asked a question today that he may some day be asked by the special prosecutor. >> did you at any time urge former fbi director james comey in any way, shape, or form to close or to back down the investigation into michael flynn? and also, as you look back -- >> no, no. next question. >> next question.
as you look back over the past six months or year, have you had any recollection where you've wondered if anything you have done has been something that might be worthy of criminal charges in these investigations or in impeachment as some on the left are implying? >> i think it's totally ridiculous. everybody thinks. so and again, we have to get back to working our country properly so that we can take care of the problems that we have. >> as in the watergate days with woodward and bernstein's reporting, "the washington post" is once again producing blockbuster revolutions day after day. today "the washington post" reported fbi director james b. comey prepared extensively for his conversations with trump out of concern that the president was unlikely to respect the legal and ethical boundaries surrounding their respective roles, according to the associates of the now fired fbi chief. comey was very apprehensive heading into a dinner with the president in late january because of his previous encounters with trump during the transition and immediately after
the inauguration, according to one associate. comey felt as if trump did not understand or did not like the fbi director's independence and was trying to get comey to bend the rules for him, the associates said. "the new york times" is also delivering reports that at any other time might be the story of the week or the story of the month or even the story of the year, but are now simply the story of the day or even sometis just the story of the ho. because those stories keep coming. the "new york times" is reporting tonight president trump called the fbi director james b. comey weeks after he took office and asked him when federal authorities were going to put out word that mr. trump was not personally under investigation, according to two people briefed on the call. mr. comey told the president that if he wanted to know details about the bureau's investigation, he should not contact him directly, but instead follow the proper procedures and have the white
house counsel send any inquiries to the justice department according to those people. today all hundred senators gathered together, which in and of itself is an extremely rare moment in the senate. they very rarely all gather together at once. it requires something very serious for that. and this was a closed door briefing by deputy attorney general rod rosenstein on the firing of james comey. some senators suggested that the new prosecutor robert mueller would now be investigating criminal conduct. >> i think the shock to the body is it's now considered a criminal investigation. and congress's ability to conduct investigations of all things russia has been severely limited, probably in an appropriate fashion. >> has the attorney general confirmed that it is now a criminal investigation? >> i never got to ask my question specifically about that. but the takeaway i have is that
everything he said was tha you need to treat this investigation as if it may be a criminal investigation. >> senator claire mccaskill said that the deputy attorney general knew that director comey would be fired before the deputy attorney general wrote that memo to the president. . >> he did acknowledge that he learned comey would be removed prior to him writing his memo. >> joining us now, indira lakshman lakshmanan. eugene robinson, pulitzer prize opinion writer for "the washington post" and msnbc political analyst. and ken vogel, chief investigative reporter for politico. gene, i want to go to you first at "the washington post." i just picture people running through the hallways with the latest. here we go. it is, to put it mildly, an exciting time. but let's start. let's start with the best case scenario for the president on one issue, which is this new
report indicating that the president is calling up the fbi director and saying to him when are you going to tell people that i'm not under investigation? and the best case scenario for that conversation, which professionals recognize shouldn't have taken place, but it relates to a transition report that indicated during the transition there was a leaked report indicating that when comey went to trump tower along with others to brief the president on matters that there was a leaked report then that indicated that the president was told that he was not at least at that time personally under investigation. if that report is true, it seems understandable that someone who doesn't know the rules would be asking the fbi director why aren't you going to say that publicly, if that initial leaked report was true. >> i think you're right. i think that is the best spin you could put on it, coming from president trump's point of view.
now it's never like the best day when the best spin you can put on is utter and total ignorance of how anything works and what the limits of appropriate are in the relationship between the white house and the fbi director. and it is also, you know, not a good look that you wouldn't assume an amount of independence by the fbi director, and you wouldn't just assume, even if you didn't know that it might be improper for you as the boss of the fbi director to sort of lean on him about putting out the word of -- about your purported innocence. so, again, that's not a great look. but you're right. that's the best spin you can put on it from the white house point of view. >> indira, there was real strong evidence in that press conference today that the president is finally listening to someone, probably someone who has a law degree, who is telling him how to answer some of these questions. because for the first time that i've seen in his public life, he
actually had a one-word answer when he was asked -- no. >> yeah. the answer was no. when he was asked did you try to get james comey to back down in this investigation, it was a one-word answer that he wanted to say more than once, no, no. >> no, no, no. next question. well, you're right, lawrence. he -- that's the only restraint he has shown in the last day. he was quiet for, let's say, 12 hours after the announcement of the special counsel. and as you said that very presidential professional statement was put out clearly written by his staff. but he couldn't help himself. in the morning, he came out with this tweet in the morning calling this is the greatest witch hunt of a politician in american history, which is a stunning thing to say. not only because of course nixon was famous, as you said, for considering himself the victim of a witch hunt. but i would say because all of this is self-inflicted. these are all things that donald trump brought on himself,
including the special counsel. there would not be a special counsel had he not fired james comey, had these reports not come out saying that he was pressuring comey to stop the flynn investigation, these new reports saying actually he or the transition team at least knew that comey had taken $530,000 from the turkish government and hadn't register and even so trump insisted on making him the national security adviser. he hasn't listened to a lot of advice so far it's safe to say. but shutting up a reporter is one piece of advice he is willing to listen. to. >> ken vogel, as you survey the developments of the day, how do you rank them in terms of risk to the white house, i would say. the riskiest sounding stories that are emerging now to the white house? >> well, clearly, the reports suggesting that trump either suggest order pressured comey to drop the investigation or to come out and say that trump wasn't under investigation, those are problematic because they get to this idea of a cover-up.
and they are things that trump is doing that as indira said are self-inflicted, and give the special prosecutor more fodder, more things to look at. he may be right. the initial fbi investigation into the sort of core animating question, which is whether there was collusion between his campaign and russia may ultimately absolve him. it may not absolve people in his campaign. and that raises questions about what he knew about the people who he welcomed in to his campaign and his transition, including mike flynn, including paul manafort. but nonetheless, he is adding fodder and adding potential angles for the special prosecutor to look at when he comes out and says these things and when he tells james comey in private that he would like james comey to either drop the investigation into flynn or come out and publicly say that donald trump himself is not the subject in the investigation. >> gene robinson, i can't remember a time where we're learning more about a person day
in, day out without that person opening his mouth saying a word. that person of course is james comey. we're learning more and more and more about his methods, about his work methods, taking notes in the car immediately after and speaking to friends of his, including benjamin wittis, who edits a legal blog, was a former justice department editorial writer for your newspaper, specializing with those issues, people like that coming out, being now quoted by name saying james comey told me about his feelings about dealing with the president and the president clearly didn't respect the boundaries. the comey -- the sourcing of the comey material is becoming more and more overt. and it's just one step away from hearing directly from comey. >> it is. now, when ben wittis went on the record with "the new york times" in describing his conversations,
lunches and so forth with jim comey and what he was saying about his relationship with the new trump administration, when ben decided to go on the record, he actually has made it clear since that he did not speak with comey. he was not acting on comey's instructions. so he wanted at least in his case i think we can take his word for that that this is a spontaneous gesture in support of a friend and someone he really admires and who he knows from these conversations was put in a tough position. by the president. over this investigation. you know, the rest of the sourcing, they railroad anonymous sources. it's associates, communication, perhaps colleagues. it's unclear where all this information is coming from. but it all kind of rings true. it's all of a piece. >> yeah, it is. it's as if we are getting some of these comey notes revealed
before we actually get our hands on them. eugene robinson, thank you very much for joining us tonight. i really appreciate it. >> thank you. coming up, trump campaign was working to create a path of communication between president trump and russian president vladimir putin, according to a new report, as these new reports just keep coming. and what is vice president mike pence up to? some startling developments that could be nothing or could be everything. that's coming up. liberty mutual stood with us
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last week. just 1 pill each morning, 24 hours and zero heartburn. it's been the number 1 doctor recommended brand for 10... ...straight years, and it's still recommended today. use as directed. president trump likes to brag about and exaggerate the number of times he has been on the cover of "time" magazine. if he wants to include the next cover of "time" magazine in that count, i for one am okay with that, even though donald trump himself does not actually appear on the cover. it shows the white house being taken over by russian influence. reuters reports today that trump campaign advisers had at least 18 previously undisclosed calls and e-mails with russian officials and others with kremlin ties during the last seven months of the presidential campaign. the contacts included six phone calls between russian ambassador sergey kislyak and trump advisers, including michael
flynn. reuters also reports, quote, conversations between flynn and kislyak accelerated after the november 8th vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between trump and russian president vladimir putin that could bypass the u.s. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations. reuters reports that the white house did not respond to requests for comment on that story. joining us now, ned price, rmer senio director and spokesperson for the national security council. he resigned from the cia when president trump took over. also joining us is steve clemens, an editor at large at the atlantic and msnbc contributor. ned, when you look at a story like this, i'm wondering about the sourcing. who could know this? who could know about these 18 contacts? >> well, lawrence, i have the utmost response for john lande, the reuters report were his
by-line attached to this. and he has sources, as i know all throughout the federal bureaucracy. i certainly wouldn't put it past him to have this quite well sourced. but lawrence, i think what struck me about this report more so than the sheer quantity of previously undisclosed contacts was the objective. and what jonathan lande reports is they were trying to establish a back channel. and the thing about a back channel is you only establish a back channel when you're trying to do something that you shouldn't do through standard operating procedures. you shouldn't do through more open channels. and we've seen this tactic before, lawrence, the trump team when jared kushner met in a previously undisclosed meeting with sergey kislyak in trump tower, they said it was through a back channel. when jared kushner met with the head of a russian bank, again at trump tower per kislyak's suggestion it was to establish a back channel. and we can't forget "the washington post" report from last month that erik prince, the
blackwater founder travelled to the say chehali at theequest of a trump team to meet with a russian oligarch to set up back channel with president putin. so this begs a question why are they not going through the front channels? why are they not going through the state department, and what is it they're trying to hide with all of this? >> and steve clemens, why does the president in general just favor russia so much? and the back channel issue is so fascinating. jfk would have loved to have a back channel to nikita khrushchev during the cuban missile crisis. they tried to figure out how to get in cleaner communication and be understood. and so that's where credibility, personal, presidential credibility is so enormously important. it is conceivable that there would be a president who wanted to have a back channel to russia or some other power not particularly friendly to us, especially in times of crisis. but this administration can't be trusted it seems with anything like that kind of back channel. >> we're stuck with an enormous contradiction, lawrence, where
we're trying to ascribe to president trump rationality, strategy, logic, perhaps seeing an opportunity and a strategic rapprocheme rapprochement. and the bottom line is this is not what this guy is. increasingly, those inside the white house and those critics outside. but even his allies see him as a 70-year-old impulsive, needy adolescent who does not know his job and has no sense of strategy. i interviewed interview michael hayden yesterday about many of these issues. and he said there is nothing strategic at all about donald trump. but when it comes to russia, he has a deep obsession. he feels comfortable with russia. perhaps he had business associates or contacts down the road. we've heard this from his children. but he himself not having that strategic sense nonetheless had this russia obsession. and we've seen this in lots of layers. those of news the media, those of us who are sort of speculating and looking what is going on are trying to ask ourselves did michael flynn
somehow seduce donald trump into this russia obsession? did paul manafort? did others around him? i think we need to begin asking ourselves who is driving this game right now? and increasingly, i think the question with robert mueller and others is donald trump may very well be the russia obsessed person who actually had people he was running on the russia side because he wanted to play kissinger or nixon in this case. but the difference is this isn't going to mao. this is going to putin, who wanted this kind of thing to happen. so it's bizarre, and it's unusual because we don't see the other elements as ned would know of a strategic design behind this that make his russia obsession make any sense. >> ned, there is enough information out there about michael flynn that you could even imagine roughly some of the lines and some of the things that michael flynn might be talking about on the phone to the russian ambassador. but when you are talking about 18 different contact points with the campaign, that's way too
many people to be able to sit here and say we have any sense of the scope, the reach, the possibilities that were being discussed through that many contacts. >> right. we really don't. and look, that 18 number, reuters is very clear it was at least 18 during a 17-month period. when you total it all up, it could be certainly much more than that. what we know from the trump transition team at the time is they had evolving stories for why some of the contacts that were disclosed actually took place. we heard at one point that it was a condolence call on the part of flynn when a russian military aircraft crashed in syria. in another occasion it was just holiday greetings. all of those stories have -- have unravelled over time, and we now know that flynn's contacts with kislyak were much more nefarious, potentially even illegal. but we really don't have a better sense of why the quantity and why the scope of these
contacts that as you say spanned people across the transition team and now the administration. >> and i would also say, lawrence. >> go ahead, quickly. >> and why he lied about them. >> yes. >> so they were happening. they were occurring. and what set sally yates off was the lying about them. >> right. that's the huge thing right at the center of all of the mike flynn contact is why if they were honorable points of contact, why would that end up in a lie that the president of the united states had to fire him for and a president who seems to still love the guy fired him. ned price, steve clemons, thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. >> thank you, lawrence. coming up, reports say that after this whole russia thing blows over in the white house, president trump would love, just love to have michael flynn back on board air force one, back in the white house. one report says the president actually thinks that's possible. in these turbulent times, do you focus on today's headwinds? or plan for tomorrow?
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it may have taken a long time to do it at the pace of this week's news, but today the white house denied a "new york times" article that was published yesterday that reported michael flynn told the trump transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under fbi investigation. a white house spokesperson told nbc news "the new york times" story is flat wrong. neither michael flynn nor his attorneys told transition counsel that he was under federal investigation for
secretly working as a paid lobbyist for turkey during the campaign. according to the daily beast, a reluctant michael flynn accepted the position as national security adviser at the president's urging. michael leaden, one of general flynn's friends told the daily beast he did not want to be national security adviser. he didn't want to be in the government. he wanted to go back to private life, but trump insisted on it. the daily beast reports that the president is hoping michael flynn can some day return to working in the white house after being exonerated in this investigation. a former fbi official and government official told the bail daly beast trump thought he owed flynn for how things ended up, and was determined to clear flynn's name and bring him back to the white house. the daily beast and yahoo news both report that president trump and michael flynn are still in communication. according to yoo-hoo news, flynn
told friends at lunch last month, i just got a msage from the president to stay strong. ken vogel and indira lakshmanan are back with us. and ken, if there is a single rule to live by in life when you know someone is under investigation by the fbi, you just wait. you wait. you do not communicate with that person. you don't e-mail, you don't call, don't meet them for coffee. just wait until that's over. the notion that the president of the united states might be reaching out to and communicating directly or indirectly with michael flynn under an fbi investigation could -- there is just no way to finish the question i have here. this is where we are. this is what he may be doing. >> i would add some additional reporting that very much fits in that same vein, lawrence, which is we understand that trump continued to talk to paul manafort, his former campaign chairman who is very much a
subject of this investigation. now we learn a target of this investigation after it was revealed that the fbi was poking around on paul manafort's dealings with these pro-russian oligarchs and political parties in ukraine. and it fits sort of a broader pattern as much as trump -- as many times as he said "you're fired" on "the apprentice," he actually sort of remains loyal to these people and he just can't quit them. he has other people fire them and he remains in touch with them. he saw corey lewandowski, his fired campaign maner in the white house this week telling people that trump wanted him to come back, to come to work for him in the white house. and we see him continuing to talk to paul manafort well after he should have cut off connections, and then, again with michael flynn. it shows a real like a loyalty, but kind of a misguided loyalty where he is not -- he is not basing this on political calculations, but rather with whom he feels comfortable.
>> but indira, this same man in his business career and in his personal life has many, many, many moments where he completely cuts off relations with people. he has done it publicly since he became a presidential candidate, cut off relations with people who he seemed to be very, very chummy with. and yet with michael flynn under fbi investigation, manafort now as ken's reporting to us, and the reason to keep those people close, if you're looking for a rational reason is that they might be able to hurt you. >> well, that's one rationale. i also agree with ken that trump does have his own brand of loyalty. and he clearly goes by the gut and who he feels comfortable with, who he trusts. and these are men who he trusts and who he still feels a loyalty to. the problem is this kind of business, keeping in touch with people who are under federal investigation and might at some point possibly be indicted is something that got nixon in
trouble, let's not forget. communicating with witnesses is something very basic that any lawyer, if trump had a good lawyer advising him, would tell him stop talking to these people. they're under investigation. and as we know from senator lindsey graham, after his talk with rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, this appears to be a criminal investigation. and so you would think that if he had his wits about him and were listening to the advice, that donald trump would cut off all contact, but he sn't. i think the larger issue is this troubling question of whether in fact michael flynn had informed the transition theme he had taken over half a million dollars from a dutch company to lobby basically for interests on behalf of the turkish government. and there was some very interesting reporting out of mcclatchy yesterday showing that he might have in fact stopped an operation backing the syrian kurds because it was something that was against the wishes of the turkish government. so it raises all sorts of questions that an incoming
national security adviser would already be under investigation. of course it would be in flynn's interest to now put out to the press that he had informed the transition team -- we don't know. but "the new york times" is reporting that he had. so let's not forget circle back to mike pence, the vice president, who has avoided a lot of attention. but he in fact was the head of donald trump's transition team. so if he truly didn't know about this at the time, that also raises big question marks i think for everyone. so let's not forget that. >> ken, i want to get your interpretation of this white house denial about michael flynn telling the then future white house counsel that he was under investigation. he said they deny that he said he that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for turkey during the campaign. does that leave it open to you, the possibility that flynn said something about a federal investigation but didn't specify that it was about being a lobbyist for turkey? >> sure.
i mean, that is the issue. i want to add somethi owhat indira just said which is a great summation of his wk on behalf of this dutch company owned by a turkish guy. we actually reported -- it didn't get a ton of attention at the time -- but this turkish guy that owns this company that paid michael flynn more than $500,000 to lobby for him actually has deep ties to vladimir putin. that was revealed in a 2009 lawsuit. so there is a lot more there than just the very fine way the white house issued that denial. i would agree with you it certainly leaves a lot of wiggle room, and it's consistent with some of their denials that they have put forth on some of these other thing, only to be undercut in many cases by donald trump himself coming out and saying something contrary to it, or in other cases by other people in the administration or subsequent media reporting revealing that their denial, while it may have seemed very ardent and categorical in fact was not quite. so that there was some wiggle
room there and that there was some there there in the initial report. >> ken vogel, chief investigative reporter for politico. thank you for joining us tonight. indira lakshmanan, columnist for the washington globe, thanks for joining us. >> thanks, lawrence. coming up, this one is something really fascinating. what is mike pence up to. it could be nothing. but, but, you have to understand that he is possibly the most threatening person to president trump in the white house. we're going to be right back with that.
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vice president, isn't he? or is he going to be running for president in the next presidential campaign? remember, i told donald trump here, where he probably learned it for the first time, that mike pence alone in the government has the power to initiate a process that removes donald trump from the presidency using the 25th amendment. the vice president can initiate a process and obtain a majority agreement from the cabinet that says the president of the united states is simply unfit to serve. the president can appeal that if he wants to to the congress. and then the vote of congress would decide whether the president is unfit to serve. that all begins with a vice president. and there are reports tonight that the vice president is being kept in the dark about things happening in the white house. is that what you do with a vice president that you don't trust?
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with watergate thick in the air in washington that's days, everyone is wondering if mike pence is the next jerry ford. everyone is wondering if mike pence is going to be the next vice president who takes over from a republican president driven from the white house by scandal. listen to this. >> you have been very close over the years with vice president pence, and you talked about you are trying
to continue to move this agenda and he is here often working on the issues. considering the maelstrom we dealt with with frump and russia these past few days there have been some members who have said we might be better with vice president pence. what's your take on that? but they are saying this. >> i'm not going to give
credence to that, i am not going to comment on. >> they are members who
are take it, your members. >> there is not aoint making comment on that. >> joining us now, rick wilson, republican strategist and contributor to the daily beast. i assume you agree with speaker, there is no point in making a comment about that. >> look. it is purely speculative right now. but as donald trump's problems mount there are a lot of people in washington who lack at mike pence who say this guy smells like our tribe, like our people. he's not a scaring transgreszive raging lunatic. so we -- what's the worst case scenario, if trump gets hit by a meteor or eaten by wolves mike partnerships suspect the worst possible option in a lot of their mine minds. want to say in fairness to this reporter, this wasn't coming from him. he was hearing 24 off the record from some members of paul ryan's party, members of congress. that was his point.
what do you say to them? >> a lot of those guys are still supporting trump publicly because they feel like they have to. they are afraid of the mean tweet, going crazy rip shit bonkers on them. they are afraid of the legal consequences coming. they are afraid of the structural problems that trump is going to bring them in 2018. mike pence feels like a safety blanket. he feels like a soft landing for a lot of these guys. i don't think it would be that easy politically if pence gets caught up in the stipulate stream. i don't know all the information yet. we don't know how involved pence was hiring flynn as the head of the transition team. these things are really complicated right now for mike pence going forward. but the pack has certainly set off a lot of alarm bells. >> the other point being made in that question was, look, you are not getting anything done, there is nothing happening in this congress, there is no legislative activity whatsoever. there is nothing for us to cover
because this thing has taken over. and so if you are going to get any kind of legislative record to take to voters, how can you do that with a president trump? >> laurance, right now what they have to take toet voers is one thing, the one thing they have is a health care bill that america hates like poison. that's the only accomplishment they have got right now. it is a tough spot to be in. >> that's good because now with everything shut down they are not taking everyone's health care away. >> they are not breaking everything else in the pottery barn right now. we'll see how it shakes out over the summer. >> rick wilson thank you for joining us. >> thanks. >> coming up, tonight's last word. our senses awake, our hearts racing as one. i know this is sudden, but they say: if you love something...
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>> we should throw their ambassador the hell out of the united states of america. these are not just average people that did this beating. this is erdogan's security detail. somebody told them to go out there and beat up on these peaceful demonstrators, and i think it should have repercussions including identifying these people and bringing charges against them. >> two members of the turkish security detail were briefly detained but they were let go because of international diplomatic immunity. that is tonight's last word "the 11th hour" with brian williams is next. tonight, a defiant donald trump calling the newly named special counsel a witch-hunt. did he just change his story again about why and when he fired the fbi director. new reports of how unsettled comey was