tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC May 31, 2017 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT
administration of firsts just last nht we could not have known we were moments away from the creation of covfefe as a new word. that is our broadcast and good night from new york. rachel is still under the weather but will be back soon. we have the latest development with the president and russia. you may remember those two russian diplomatic compounds in the u.s., one on the eastern shore of maryland and the other, long island, new york. late last year the obama administration shut those two properties down part of the formal punishment to the russian government for interfering in our election and along with individuals, president obama
shut down those compounds saying they believed the russians were also using them for intelligence purposes. that all happened on december 29th. the compounds have been closed ever since. tonight, it appears the trump administration may give those compounds here in the united states back to the russians. the "washington post" reporting at this hour the white house is quote moving towards handing back to russia those two diplomatic compounds. quote, any concessions to moscow could prove controversial while the administration and former campaign officials are under congressional and special council investigation for alleged ties to russia. this explosive story breaking late this evening, what we will do here, a little later in the show, we will talk to one of the reporters who literally just broke this story. that should be interting to say the least. we begin tonight with a different corn over this trump-russia inquiry. we now know the fbi inquiry into
the interference in the election was launched all the way back in last july, only formally confirmed this march when fbi director, jim comey determined the public interest justified disclosing this investigation. that's a process that required him to clear it with the doj. and he said trump's testimony was part of that and in that dramatic testimony he intoned now we will close our mouths and do our work. he only opened his mouth before congress one more time after it was that hearing that contradicted president trump's baseless claims about obama wiretapping him. >> we do know congress wanted the testimony. with this new special council working the russia case, no one could say whether that testimony would be authorized.
no one could say that until today. special council robert mueller has now cleared comey to testify publicly before the senate. it could come as early as next week. let's be clear. a lot of people talk about the russia issue. you can divide them into three groups, people doing the investigation and know a ton and rarely open their mouths and those following, reporters holding different pieces of the puzzle to regular citizens across this country tracking this unfolding mystery and sometimes developing their own theories like a real life national version of "law & order." there's a tiny group of people implicated in the russia case, people who had contact with russian officials. were they users or get used? people with websites that found those stories spread around with the russian web bots.
were those website owners colluding online or just get ensnared. you talk about people implicated, there is the clinton campaign itself the target of hacking and so much disinformation, if the fbi ultimately determines those things were crimes the clinton campaign was the legal victim. it is a remarkable stroke of news timing that jim comey really really will testify under oath on what may be the most watched debated and parsed testimony since election night and we heard more from the potential legal victim of any crimes that could have occurred in 2016's election. we heard from hillary clinton. while clinton has spoken a few times since the election, she's always been very measured in your depiction of the russian case. that may be from her legal training knowing it has many more chapters to come.
could be her political training, the lectures losers get about accepting their own responsibility. today, she went further than she has before in sharing her own theory of the case. you'll notice she does not accuse donald trump of collusion. she hasn't played prosecutor. she does dabble in the analysis of an investigator. what she did here, what we will play for you, she makes the circumstantial case the nature and targeting and timing of the election hacks suggests some american assistance. these were not exclusively foreign efforts and combines that assessment with questions investigators always ask, as they say in latin, who benefits? here is hillary clinton's
in-depth depiction. we will play it for you in just about its entirety. >> i think it's fair to ask how did that actually influence the campaign and how did they know what messages to deliver? who told them? who were they coordinating with or colluding with? they were conveying this weaponized information and the content of it and they were running -- there's all these stories about guys over in macedonia running these fake news sites. i've seen them now. you sit there and it looks like a low level cnn operation. >> or fake newspaper. like the guardian. >> or a fake newspaper. the russians, in my opinion, and based on the intel and counter-intel, people i've talked to, could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been
guided? >> guided by americans? >> guided by americans and guided by people whoad polling and data information. >> who is that? >> let me just finish. this is the second and third step. we know that they did that. we understand it. best example, so within one hour, one hour of the "access hollywood" tapes being leaked, within one hour the russians, let's say wikileaks, same thing, dumped the john podesta e-mail. if you've ever read the john podesta e-mails, they are anatine to boredom. they dumped them and began to weaponize them and began to have some of their allies within the internet world like info wars, take out pieces and say the most outrageous outlandish absurd lies you can imagine.
so they had to be ready for that and they had to have a plan for that and they had to be given the go ahead, okay, this could be the end of the trump campaign, dump it now. then, let's do everything we can to weaponize it. who do you think directed it? we're getting more information about all of the contacts between trump campaign officials and trump associates with russians before, during and after the election. so i hope that we'll get enough information to be able to answer that question. >> meaning trump? >> yes. meaning trump. i think it's pretty hard not to. leaning trump. >> i think the marriage of the domestic fake news operations, the domestic rnc republican
allied data combined with the very effective capabilities that the russians brought -- >>eaning trump. leaning team trump, which is what makes the other news tonight so interesting. subpoenas of donald trump's inner most circle including one pre-campaign official. the house intelligence committee issued a total of seven subpoenas tonight, two are to donald trump's long-time personal lawyer, michael cohen and his law firm. he has played many roles for trump over the year, a spokesman and even a fixer. back in february before the fbi inquiry into trump's campaign was confirmed, cohen was in the news for being in the center of an apparently bizarre attempt to deliver a peace plan for rush that to the white house that involved lifting all sanctions on russia, a hot topic. just last night, michael cohen
refused to comply with the request for information from the house and senate intel committees but said if he were subpoenaed he'd be happy to testify. whether that complies with document production, a whole big issue with mike flynn that is unclear and whether they may all be protected by a broad reading of attorney-client privilege. of the seven subpoenas, two go to the former national security advisor, mike flynn as well as this is consulting firm. joining me is the national correspond for reuters. great to see you during the busy times. what are these subpoenas looking for? >> we're not quite sure. from appearances and they want to hear from these gentleman. one of the curious things that happened was the committee put out a bipartisan statement
announcing mr. flynn and cohen and their respective firms. what it didn't mention was the committee chairman, devin nunes, in april recused himself from leading the investigation, apparently on his own, without telling the democratic members of the committee, issued three other subpoenas, to the national security agency, the fbi and the cia. what they were asking for, according to sources we talked to, any information of requests for president obama's former national security advisor, susan rice and ambassador, samantha power and former cia director, john brennan, to unmask the names of trump campaign associates inadvertently picked up in foreign intelligence monitoring operations.
he goes apparently -- devin nunes does this also he publicly recused himself from the investigation, nowhere in the committees official announcement of these three subpoenas are these three subpoenas mentioned. >> would they normally need to subpoena something like that? couldn't they get that through the normal oversight function? >> my understanding is they would normally contact these three agencies and request this or have discussions with them before ever issuing any kind of subpoena, any kind of legal document requiring them to turn over this information. i'm not sure those discussions ever actually took place. committee aides are saying there were no consultations with the democrats about this before chairman nunes issued these -- >> right. -- subpoenas. correction.
>> this goes back to the focus of the different political parties watching the hearings the success of unmasking leaks and democrats were focused much more on what you might call the original underlying issue, what did russia do, did they have help? will we get to the bottom of that. >> can you speak to mr. trump's role in the trump corporation. and mr. cohen said, i will not do this as a lawyer but under subpoena. he has a pretty legitimate way to protect his consultations with trump during and pre-presidency? >> we'll have to see. pre-presidency, i'm not sure you can make a legal argument any of the conversations were executive privilege. >> right. i only meant attorney-client privilege. >> that's possible. i'm not sure the discussions he
purportedly had with ukrainian oligarch and others about setting up this back channel to orchestrate a ukraine -- a settlement to the ukraine war in return for the lifting of u.s. sanctions, i'm not sure that's considered attorney-client privilege. >> and certainly not communications with his client, donald trump. when you look at what you're hearing from the committee, is there more attention from the trump organization following the money and those issues or should that not be inferred in the subpoena because he played so many roles, it's hard to know exactly what he's being fingered for. >> exactly. it's not apparent to me in my reporting exactly what the committee is looking for other than he was involved in this
potential deal to have the sanctions against russia lifted in return for something. >> while i have you on jim comey's testimony, do you have any view of what mueller cleared him? do you have a view of it? >> i think it's obvious mr. comey has something to say. we've seen reports he kept -- he made memos. he kept memos about his own conversations with president trump, in which president he writes, reportedly president trump pushed him to try and shut down, pushed him to shut down the investigation into michael flynn and michael flynn's apparent failure to report receiving money from russian and turkish entities. i think we will probably hear
more about that when he testifies. >> jonathan landay, national reporter. thank you for coming here. and coming up if the fbi is clearing the way for james comey to testify and the future of the democratic party. stay with us. insights from the data in real time? wait, our data center and our clouds can't connect? michael, can we get this data to...? look at me...look at me... look at me... you used to be the "yes" guy. what happened to that guy? legacy technology can handcuff any company. but "yes" is here. so, you're saying we can cut delivery time? yeah. with help from hpe, we can finally work the way we want to. with the right mix of hybrid it, everything computes.
top investigator in the federal government until three weeks ago when he was addressing fbi employees in l.a. and noticed on the tv screens in the very back of the room there was news he had been fired. he reportedly laughed thinking it was some kind of prank. it was not. the president sent his long time bodyguard, the director of oval office operations to hand deliver the letter to comey's office of the termination. this was a shock from comey on down as well as members of congress when the president called a few of them about the decision. if jim comey was shocked, he was not unprepared. we soon learned he had been keeping meticulous notes about his interaction with the president some of which purportedly disturbed him including efforts to impede on the russia probe. you think about the categories again the memos raise a fundamental question.
was jim comey not only an investigator overseeing the fbi's approach to potential subjects and targets, was jim comey also a witness? did he see or hear things in the white house or president trump that might in his mind form the basis of potential crimes, like tampering with evidence or witnesses and, yes, even obstruction of justice. if he did see those things, can he even talk about it. that this is the dynamic news that makes this news so intriguing. special counsel mueller has cleared him to testify and could include comey's dealings with trump. with or without a special counsel, jim comey would not be able to testify about what's happening inside the russia inquiry or methods or potential targets. the things he can testify about are things outside the
investigative box, fbi policy or funding or non-classified dealings with the executive branch or, yes, the head of the executive branch. does jim comey see himself as a witness? only time will tell. he is certainly qualified to answer the questions about his dealings with the executive branch. joining me now is a reporter on this story somtime. nbc national security reporter, ken. thank you. i begin with the question, the hard question if you can't fully answer it. is it possible jim comey sees himself here as a witness? >> i think it's pretty clear that he does, which probably explains why he wrote all those memos. sources close to comey told me he memorialized nearly every interaction he had with the president with phone calls and meetings and that he made a
series of inappropriate requests, and some have linked. we first heard about the dinner where trump asked comey to pledge his loyalty and people close to comey saying he could not pledge loyalty but only pledge honesty. we learned about this oval office meeting a few weeks later, trump allegedly asked comey to end the flynn investigation, asked can't you move along with this thing? comey viewed that as inappropriate. what was interesting how this testimony came to pass, as you said, robert mueller, the special counsel cleared comey to talk about some of this stuff. we don't know if there is anything off-limits. is there anything comey knows mueller said, i'd rather you not talk about that. >> to that point, is there anything jim comey knows really an issue for congress than doj in bipartisan precedent the doj
doesn't tend to focus on criminal activity by a president. to some degree is that a weird important loophole where jim comey is more likely to talk about trump stuff than lower level potential targets of any inquiry. >> that's right. it's a very interesting question whether robert mueller is investigating donald trump trump. we don't know that and if he is, james comey is an important fact witness. as a prosecutor you don't want the other potential defendants to know what the prosecutor's story is, right? that certainly is a factor. >> i want to get really lawyerly to you so i apologize to you and the viewers.
the other thing i want to get into is what matters a lot is state of mind. anything related to tampering or obstruction that involves the president is his state of mind. ignorance can be a defense, confusion can be a defense, a lot of things that might be rather bad you wouldn't rather the president doesn't know how the fbi works but obstruction, something corrupt, evil state of mind and act to consciously intercede. given your knowledge of jim comey on these issues, do you expect him to give any ground, because he will be asked what happened, how long was the food on the table for dinner, what do you think the president was trying to do? what was his mental goal? >> right. i think that's a really interesting question. another question comey will be asked that goes to that issue. he will be asked, why, sir, didn't you resign immediately, if you thought this was appropriate and obstruction of justice, why didn't you resign and report to it the attorney general. the answer is he thought it was
inappropriate some of the things president trump was asking and saying to him and was disturbed by it but thought it was manageable. he could continue to serve as fbi director and shield the fbi in these requests but also memorialized it in written records in case this day came to pass and now it has. >> you used that word "manageable" anyone who followed the 2016 election, jim comey felt other things were manageable if he could talk about them, i think history proved it wasn't as manageable as his original thought. >> it's an interesting question what some people think is hubris as to jim comey and others that he thought he could do the right thing and trying to protect the fbi what he thought was improper interference according to his allies.
>> thank you, national reporter, ken dilinian. the breaking news the u.s. may be considering rescinding one of the key sanctions president obama put in place to punish the meddling in the elections. that report next. a millie dresselhaus doll! happy birthday, sweetie! oh, millies. trick or treat! we're so glad to have you here. ♪ what if we treat great female scists li they were stars? ♪ yasss queen! what if millie dresselhaus, the first woman to win the national medal of science in engineering, were as famous as any celebrity? [millie dresselhaus was seen having lunch today...] ♪ [...rumors of the new discovery...]
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staircase and nice view of the river. it was bought back in 1972 by the soviet union. it was a kind of vacation home for their diplomats working in the united states. they also bought a similar property on long island, too, 14 acres on oyster bay for those russian diplomats to stay on holiday. and they have been in their hands 11 years. but at the end of the obama administration they took them back and sent those staying in those fancy homes and sent them back to russia for meddling. saying those properties were not only being used as vacation homes a fun part of this but ultimately according to the united states a side part of it. the obama administration publicly stated they were quote for russian personnel for
intelligence related purposes. which is obviously a big deal. the obama administration gave them only 24 hours to pack their things and get out. they physically blocked anyone from russia from entering those houses, how serious this was at the time. tonight, i can report at the top of the show, the russians may be getting another chance getting those houses in the united states back. the trump administration quote moving towards handing back to russia those two compounds. for that, the u.s. wants something in return. quote, early last month the trump administration told the russians it would consider turning the properties back over to them if moscow would lift its freeze on construction of a new u.s. consulate on a certain parcel of land in st. petersburg. these compounds the obama administration seized from russia last year, they took them off the table and said at the time there was no intention as a
matter of u.s. policy of giving them back to russia, that's what made it a real punishment for messing with the election. now, not long after all that went down the trump administration appears as a negotiating tactic at the very least to be putting them back on the table, a diplomatic poker match between the trump administration and russia. joining us now, adam and his colleague, karen deyoung, broke this story tonight. what else can you tell us at this hour? >> i think what's really important here is to understand the context, right? these sanctions were imposed the end of december by the obama administration to publish the russians for their intervention in the presidential election and here we are six month later and the trump white house is negotiating the return of those
facilities allowing thssn diplomats and intelligence officers who had access them until december, until the end of december, to get back in there and have them back. they're no longer insisting any change in the status of those facilities be linked to the u.s. demand request to get access to land in st. petersburg for a new consulate. obviously, this would be seen in moscow as a positive gesture if the trump white house decides to go through with it. >> any effort by the trump administration according to your reporting to gain assurances or concessions regarding the underlying intel issue, the meddling, the whole reason there was this punishment? >> there is one thing they're looking at, the trump white house. that is basically allowing law enforcement officials, ie the fbi to gain access to these facilities in the future, in
other words, not treating them as if they're off limits to the fbi like the embassy might be. >> they might not have the same strength of a diplomatic bubble? >> exactly. if the u.s. were to get intelligence suggesting these facilities were once again equipped with sensitive eavesdropping signals and intelligence collection equipment, to turn into a listening post, they could potentially move in. that's something frankly the russians might object to and frankly i'd be surprised if they didn't object to that. in which case the ball is back in the trump white house's court to decide how to proceed. >> do you have any sense why this information is coming out. we have charted some other stories including with you, there were signs people releasing information because they objected to the trump's
approach to foreign policy and other decision. can you shed light on this story? >> i think the timing in this case is more timed with lavrof's visit haas month and they sped this up because the russians were making this a priority. like you said, people that talk about these things to us and other news organizations, sometimes they're doing so because they're not happy with what they're seeing being done. i certainly cannot rule that out in this case. in fact, i think a lot of folks certainly in the obama administration and involved dealing with russia and see russia as an adversary might see a move to let the russians
regain entry to these facilities as a decision that would seem to reduce pressure on russia at a time a lot of people think pressure should be increasing. >> any idea whether this is just the beginning and they might also move to weaken the sanctions on the 35 russian operatives kicked out? >> so far, we haven't receive any information on that to suggest that's happening. keep in mind that, you know, there was, for example in former national security advisor's discussions, around the same time these sanctions were imposed, in december, flynn fired for characterizing this information, flynn told them if
the russians did not retaliate to the obama administration sanctions the incoming trump white house would revisit the issue once they took office. i think that's something to keep in mind when we consider the trump administration is revisiting at least the sanctions as regards the closing of these two facilities. >> you put it so calmly, yes, we should keep in mind the problematic thing may be the very thing happening now under our noses. thank you as always for sharing some of your reporting. >> thank you. late word out of the white house and one of the biggest points of contention for the trump administration for the election.
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most diplomatic achievements of president obama. basically, the entire world was able to get on board with a plan to collectively lower greenhouse gas emissions. as the republican nominee for president, president trump railed against the paris accord and said he would cancel it. since he has taken office there has been pushback to that promise including in the white house. senior aides, like rick perry against it and outside companies including exxon that would urge the president to at least try staying at the paris accord so the u.s. would have a seat at the table when it comes to all important long range climate change talks. we have been getting diverging reports what exactly president trump will decide to do. some white house sources say he plans to leave this accord and the language around it is all that's left out.
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it's what a classic authoritarian does. not just about influencing your institutions and values, they want to influence your realty. >> that was how hillary clinton concluded her remarks at that california tech conference today where she made news on her views of the russian inquiry we played at the top of the show. but she went far from the fbi. she was pushing back on a question of twitter's impact on civil discourse and urging her audience to keep their eye on the ball. >> you can't let trump and his allies be a diversion, they are a threat. and they have been effective up until now. so twitter is a perfect example, you're going to drive up the numbers, you have more people chasing rabbits down rabbit holes and all kinds of stuff happening. why?
to divert attention. it's like covfefe, trending world wide. maybe for a minute you'll forget, the latest accusations about them conspiring with russia or their trillion mathematical mistake in their budget or depriving 21 million people of healthcare. it's the circus, right. it's what a classic authoritarian does. it's not just about influencing your institutions, your values, they want to influence your reality. >> your reality. that was a big theme for clinton today. in the world of political propaganda and viral lies where the beneficiaries of fake news go around accusing the real news of being fake news, she argued reality itself is under siege. hillary clinton did not win the electoral college but today she reiterated she won more votes and wants to work with
supporters not only to expose disagreements but to expose how disagreements about how reality and the truth itself she argues are corroding democracy. joining me now, i'm very happy to say is andrea mitchell, nbc news chief foreign correspondent, the host of nbc's "andrea mitchell reports" and a long-time reporter and chronicler of the clintons. your impression of what we heard today and how it differed, if at all, from past hillary clinton statements. >> well, she first of all really drilled down on the fake news, the role of info wars, and said that it was very clear to her that there were americans directing and colluding, conspiring really with the russian hackers with the others who were involved in the hacking in the dropping of wikileaks only an hour after the "access hollywood" tape was disclosed. and saying that they were doing
so with such political sophistication. she is basically pointing to the trump campaign saying that the dots are now being connected in the investigation. she mentioned -- she mentioned jared kushner. she mentioned bannon and kellyanne conway in the context of the fact that the mercers, the big fundraisers who contribute to the campaign and owned cambridge analytics had said to trump bring on bannon from breitbart. bring on kellyanne conway who are already on their payroll as part of a deal, and that they connected with the data bank and the rnc. so she is drawing a conspiracy theory. she doesn't have the evidence, but she is obviously hoping that this is what robert mueller and the congressional committee is going to do. she is also not blaming herself. and this is something that she has said before. that she believes despite the mistakes that a lot of people
have pointed out in judgment and in campaign strategy that they were trending upward, and she keeps pointing to the data that show that when james comey 11 days out dropped his letter and reopened the e-mail issue, that that's what stalled her momentum, especially cutting in half she said her polling advantage with suburban women in pennsylvania, where she -- one of the three states that led to a cumulative loss of 77,000 votes. that delivered the electoral college to donald trump. >> and she spoke aboutis appeal and the way that he approaches politics. list to her on that point. >> he does have a visceral grasp of america's political underbelly. he really understands how to inflame people, how to motive them, how to bond with them over whatever their grievance is, you
know. whatever resentment or point of anger that you may have, if he can get into it, whether it's race or sex or xenophobia or anti-islam phobia, whatever it is. >> what did you make of that analysis of hers? >> she -- she is trying to come to grips with the kind of rhetoric and the kind of anger that he was able to exploit. interestingly, she also says that there is from her view misogyny in this. that voters are willing to accept anger and passion from a bernie sanders, from a donald trump at a campaign rally in a way that they will not accept it from her. now others have criticized her delivery and her voice and other aspects of her. she says that that is a double standard. that there is a sexism still involved in the way voters view candidates. >> right. >> who are female. by the way -- >> yeah, go the way.
>> no, i was just going to say. if you thought the campaign was over and that he has been president for 204 days or something, tonight this trump tweet and her response, he tweeted "crooked hillary clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was terrible candidate, hits facebook and even dems and dnc." so he is calling her crooked hillary. last i knew there was no fbi investigation into her. but there is an fbi into his campaign. and she tweeted back "people in covfefe houses shouldn't throw covfefe." that late tonight. >> i see that. and i see it's 9:30 p.m. that she posted that. it already has 26,000 retweets and counting. interesting to see these two obviously still going at it, using twitter, part of the information architecture that she is alleging she believes part of a potential type of collusion as you report. and also the question about how it affects all this.
on the sexism, i wonder what you think of all that, having followed her for so long and she's had these different chapters. one thing i heard her really stress today is yes, she acknowledges people didn't like some of what she did, but she put it in the larger context of the larger standard that women candidates are held. to she was quite explicit. she cited research that sheryl sandberg from facebook has cited in "lean in." documented data that shows inverse relationship to the success of their gender. more successful men lauded. more successful women run into a lot more antipathy. it struck my ear she was getting into it more than on the campaign trail. >> she tried to take advantage of gender initially when she announced on roosevelt island, speaking about her mother, speaking of herself as a grandmother. she was using it in a way she never did in the 2008 campaign when s was trying to prove she is tough and commander in chief. and i think they realized she needed to soften the edges but then she reverted to a campaign
that didn't really deal with gender. and i think it's because they had polling data that there was still resistance to accepting a woman candidate for president. even after accepting that she could be tough enough to be secretary of state. and deal with foreign policy. they really is -- she feels, and i think the data probably supports her on this that there was a double standard in the way they accepted a bernie sanders or a donald trump being passionate. now it's also affect. it's the way we react to a voice and seeing a woman getting more high pitch and being angry. i think there is something to that. that said, people will argue that she should have been a lot farther ahead so that the comey hit 11 days out didn't hurt so badly as it did. but she really believes it was determinative. she has polling data from plenty of people, nate silver and
others to she was going up and then she flat line and started heading down. >> right. and you can see it in the that was she is on the news and on the information as ever. she had all her examples ready. if anything struck me at least as more candid than usual. andrea mitchell, host of "andrea mitchell reports" from nbc, thanks for joining me. >> you bet. >> and we have more. stay with us. ♪ ♪
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you can find me online at facebook.com/arimelber. or e-mail me. now it good evening. thank you for helping rachel get this relaxing time off that she needs. >> you got it. >> thanks, ari. we have three breaking news stories tonight in the trump russia investigation. the president may be rewarding the russians by removing an element of the sanctions. and therare new subpoenas th have been issued, including as predicted here last night, subpoenas to michael cohen. donald trump's long-time personal lawyer. and as ari just mentioned, senator al franken will join us tonight with his reaction to the breaking news that attorney general jeff sessions might have had yet another secret meeting with the russian ambassador during the presidential campaign that he did not disclose in his