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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  June 23, 2017 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT

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thank you for being with me in new york. the "washington post" today dropped this huge story. it's more of a small book, really, about the russian attack on our presidential election last year and how the obama administration came to recognize that that was happening, what they understood about it, and, importantly, how they reacted to it once they realized what it was. in just a moment, we are going to be joined live by one of the reporters who broke that story, and there's a lot to talk to her about. this story today at the "washington post," it's like 10 front pageworthy scoops all in one big story. among the scoops the "washington post" got for this report is that u.s. intelligence agencies somehow have access or had access to a source of intelligence that was very,
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very, very close to vladimir putin. and that is intriguing just on surt fas the surface, just for the pure spy novel, lurid thrill of it. we have something close to putin? the post, to its credit, makes clear how extraordinary that is beyond just the wow factor, how unexpected it is to learn that. ultimately, how important it is to u.s. interests. the post today notes that putin is, quote, a former kgb officer who takes extreme cautions to guard against surveillance. he rarely communicates by phone or computer. he always runs sensitive state business from deep within the confines of the kremlin. but nevertheless the u.s. somehow got access to intelligence, got access to information that apparently could only have come from very close to him. according to the post, u.s.
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intelligence agencies sourcing when it came to attributing an author, when it came to attributing blame from a russian attack, their sourcing came from, quote, deep inside the russian government, deep enough inside the russian government that what they had intelligence about, what they had a report about was the direct, personal, individual involvement of vladimir putin in directing this campaign. putin is so secretive, russians were not even allowed to know the name of his children until recently, or, in fact, that he definitely had them. when he got divorced in 2013, half of russia was like, he was married? somehow u.s. intelligence agencies have sourcing inside the kremlin about his personal involvement in kremlin covert activities. that's a big freaking deal. i have no idea what that intelligence source is, but that is a big deal. and it is remarkable, honestly, that the "washington post" has
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been able to report that. the nature of the source of that intelligence, the danger the source of that intelligence must be in if that source is a human source. that's just palpable, right? how do you think putin reacted to reading this in the "washington post" today? the sensitivity of the united states having an intelligence source so close to putin, that is apparently what drove a lot of the extreme secrecy within the u.s. government about what the intelligence agencies knew concerning the russian attack. the post has some incredible details on that today, including shutting off all of the monitors that -- like the tv screens -- shutting off all the monitors in the situation room in the white house when senior officials were meeting to discuss these matters. they hadn't shut down all the monitors in the situation room for anything since the bin laden raid.
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but they did it for this because they considered it to be so sensitive and so secret. the sensitivity of the source of america's intelligence on this subject, the prospect that that source might conceivably be a human being who is in personal contact with putin, i think that drives home for us as americans just the incredible sensitivity and human dangerousness of some of what our intelligence agencies know, right? it sort of makes you get viscerally why it's so important that that kind of information should never fall into the hands of anyone who, say, is beholden to russia for some reason. so that is one of the things the "washington post" unveiled today. such a sensitive thing, it's almost impossible to believe we get to read about it in the paper. i should tell you, though, there are sources for this report. among them more than three dozen current officials in government. so presumably they've got this nailed down, right?
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more than three dozen sources? it's a remarkable thing they've been able to report that today, but with that many sources, presumably they have nailed it. in addition to the source of this intelligence being so close to putin, there is a bunch of other specific information that we never really knew before that tells us a lot more as citizens about what happened to us last year. they describe, for example, the fbi and the state department noticing and getting alarmed about an unusual spike in requests from russia for temporary visas for officials with technical skills seeking permission to enter the united states for short-term assignments at russian facilities. that's astonishing, right? fbi and the state department are alarmed. an unusual spike in requests for russians with technical skills for short-term projects here right before the election. i want to know, how do they notice that? do they have algorithms that
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answer requests when something spooky pops up? or are they like, hey, aren't there like three guys names sergey applying for a visa? how do they know about all these techskil skills of russians try to get into the country? the post also reports somewhat anonymously that the russian attack on our election was not entirely remote controlled. i don't know if this relates to the part about all the russians with tech skills trying to get in on short-term visas, but the post reports today that the obama administration believed that some of the russian attack last year, at least some of the people who participated some way in that attack were russians who were not in russia. they were russians who were physically located here in the united states when they were helping in the attack. so that obviously previously
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unreported. i don't understand exactly what that means and how much of a handle the obama administration and now presumably the trump administration had on who those russians are or were. again, there is a ton on this story in the "washington post." i'm anxious to talk to nagashima about that in a moment. there is an overarching framework to what the "washington post" has reported today. basically the big question around which they frame all this new reporting, and it's a question i think we all have to admit will loom large in our history about this time in our country, which is how did russia get away with this? not just what did russia try to do, but how did they get away with it? especially now that we know various parts of the u.s. government were able to conclude confidently not only that the attack was under way while it was under way, but they knew who was doing it. how did they get away with it?
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how have they continued to get away with it? i should tell you that nbc news has an exclusive story out just tonight about the trump administration and how they have done nothing, how they have taken little, meaningful action since trump has been in office to shore up u.s. defenses against russian hacking, to protect our election's infrastructure in particular, let alone to retaliate in any way against russia depending on how they did in the election last year. how you feel about the trump campaign and its special relationship with russia on this issue, the fact they're doing nothing to prevent it in the future, and they're doing nothing to respond to it from last year, that mayor may n or be surprising to you. but why didn't the obama administration do more than they did once they realized what was going on? this big report hints at the u.s. government having a lot of options if they really did want
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to go after russia, if they really did want to retaliate and hit russia in response for what they did. spe specifically there is some new and very provocative news in this "washington post" piece where they describe what sounds like rather epic american capacity for hitting russia using cyber tactics. i'm being a little vague about this because the post is vague about this, but this is new. the post is newly reporting that before he left office, president obama proved a covert measure that authorized putting cyber weapons inside russia's infrastructure. the equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the united states found itself in an escalating exchange with moscow. oh. that work was started under a covert operation signed by president obama before he left office. in the five months since he left office, though, that work apparently has continued on the basis of president obama's authorization.
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now, the post does not say exactly what kind of damage this new capacity the u.s. is developing, what kind of damage it could inflict on russia, or even what types of russian infrastructure these things might be targeting. but, you know, even before this previous covert plan to go to russia, what russia can do with cyber attacks, or china or anyone else to develop this capacity, the russians have been clear in the past that they believe our nsa, our cyber command, has more fire power in that regard than any other country on earth. and whatever any other country can do to us, we can do to them and much worse. there is no lack of confidence within the u.s. government that the united states has the power to inflict devastating consequences on russia or any other country if we chose to do so by cyber means.
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why didn't they choose to do something like that when the obama administration recognized what russia was doing with our election? particularly when they realized it wasn't some freelance operation, it wasn't some criminal operation, it was being deployed directly by the russian government on the orders of the russian president. again, we're going to talk with ellen nagashima from the post about this, but the way they lay it out, they basically give it two answers to that type of question. one is domestic to the u.s., and it's hard to think about it having domestic issues, but there it is. the domestic constraint that the post describes is apparently about donald trump making it a touchstone in his campaign that the elections were somehow rigged for hillary clinton. when he was saying that the
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elections are rigged, the whole thing is rigged, he wasn't saying the russians were rigging our election. what he was saying was the u.s. government, right, the obama administration, or even the clinton campaign, the democrats were somehow rigging the election to favor hillary clinton. because he was campaigning on that, the political consequence of that in terms of this national security issue is that the obama administration apparently felt constrained in terms of how dramatically they could respond to this attack and how much they could even talk about, exactly what they knew the russians were doing. because with that stage having been set by trump, this is all rigged, they want to interfere in this election to help clinton. with that stage having been set according to our domestic politics, the obama administration believes that no matter what they said or did on the russian attack on our election would have been called, you know, proof, proof of what trump has been saying all along. they made up this story. this is how they're going to rig the election and steal the election for clinton, and
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they're going to blame it all on this russia thing. that was the constraint driven by domestic popolitics. and i think it's not purely craven, right? the other thing you have to think about when you're the president of the united states, when your public servants and intelligence agencies are serving good the president of the united states, you don't want to end up in a situation where a significant portion of the country thinks they've got great room to believe that we didn't just have an election, that it was all rigged. that it was stolen and they should, you know, turn to some other means to install their leader, right? you don't want to mess with that. so they tried not to. and they felt constrained in their response to the russia attack because of that worry. that was the domestic constraint. the other constraint, they apparently felt, is something that is sort of ex asper ating about our politics and just
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scary. the other main reason the obama administration, quote, ruled out any other action against moscow is because they feared what putin might do in response about the election. they feared that putin, quote, was prepared to go beyond fake news and e-mail dumps. quote, the fbi had detected suspected russian attempts to penetrate election systems in 21 states, and a the least one senior white house official assumed that moscow would try all 50, officials said. according to the post, as brazen as the russian attacks on the election seemed, obama and his top advisers feared that things could get far worse. moscow's meddling to that point was seen as deeply concerning but unlikely to materially
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affect the outcome of the election. far more worrisome to the obama team was the prospect of a cyber assault on voting systems before and on election day. clearly they didn't have a lot on the russians, which appears to be a considerable amount of stuff they could have thrown. part of the reason they didn't do anything to russia about this before the election was because of how it would politically play here in the united states. this question, an important question, whether americans would have confidence that our election was not being rigged by the administration in order to tag the next secretary of state as our next president. there was that domestic concern. but part of the reticence is that the russians could blow up the election if they wanted to. between the propaganda and stealing the documents from the democratic party, beyond all
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that stuff which we all know about now, apparently the obama administration believed that whatever russia did with the voter roles and all the probes of election systems and all the poking around we're told they did in counties and dozens of states before the election, the obama administration apparently believed that maybe the russians were capable of melting the whole thing down on election day. so americans couldn't vote, or the votes couldn't be counted, or the vote could be disappeared or changed in some catastrophic way. learning that that fear is part of what constrained the obama administration's reaction, honestly, that's the way we learned as a country today that the obama administration apparently believed that russia could do that, that russia had that capacity. they could have absolutely blown up our election if they had wanted to. and if they had that capacity last year, presumably that means they still have it? for whenever they want to use it? so there's a lot that the
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"washington post" has just broken here. it's like they took ten page 1 scoops and put it all in one big story in terms of how the administration responded. we'll be speaking with ellen nagashima from the post in just a moment. before we get to her, though, i want to do something else. i want to share with you something that is a little bit of a scoop that we just got tonight. at the start of this week, you might remember the "new york times" ran a story about the cia director mike pompeo. not every cia director is involved directly in things like the president's daily brief, not every cia director is at the white house every single day. in this administration, though, mike pompeo apparently has been. what the times were able to point out at the beginning of this week was when sally yates, acting attorney general, came to the white house during the second week -- no, the first week, actually, to give them that dire historically present
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warning that mike flynn, the security adviser, was lying to his contacts about the russia governor, he was vulnerable to blackmail or coercion by russia. the times was able to report at the beginning of this week that that warning from sally yates, that wasn't something that the upper echelons of the department of justice concluded and worked on in isolation. what the times reported at the beginning of this week was the cia, cia officers were also involved in forming that assessment about mike flynn and reviewing the evidence that led to that warning. cia officers had apparently reviewed the intercepted communications between mike flynn and the russians. they've seen those intercepts directly. even so, despite that direct involvement of his agency, despite the cia being in on what was so worrying about mike flynn, mike pompeo apparently never talked to the president about it himself.
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and even beyond that, mike pompeo, director of the cia, kept talking about sensitive matters with mike flynn in the room in the white house. even though all these concerns had been raised, including by mike pompeo's own agency. there are a lot of questions to be answered about why the white house as a whole was still okay with keeping mike flynn in his role as national security adviser for 18 days after they got this dire warning about him and him being compromised by a foreign power. it's one thing, though, to ask those questions about the president and the white house that he is running. we'll get to the bottom of that at some point. it's another thing to ask those questions about the guy who is head of the cia. right? the cia, after all, is the holder of very, very, very sensitive, very secret information. like, oh, by the way, we've got an intelligence source right next to vladimir putin way inside the kremlin. the cia holds that information.
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if they're being cavalier about somebody who has been compromised by a foreign power still getting access to tons of top level intelligence, that's a different level of worry than if it's some, you know, novice group of brand new people in the white house. so "the times" reported that at the start of this week. right after that report on wednesday, congressman elijah cummings wrote to the white house chief of staff, writes priebus, demanding to know how the white house handled the issue of mike flynn's security clearance after they had been formally notified by the justice department that flynn was a security risk. we have post the cummings' letter tonight at maddow.com. i think it will become a sort of reference document, if nothing else. if mike flynn and the white
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house handling him as national security adviser stay informed about the russian attack. it raises questions about flynn and why he was able to listen in on the most sensitive intelligence our government has. in addition to that, in this letter, elijah cummings and democrats on the oversight committee, they also raised the question of the security clearance not just for flynn but also the one that had been issued to jared kushner, the president's son-in-law. because although mike flynn and jared kushner are different breeds of cat, they do both have multiple high-level contacts with russian officials that have yet to be explained that they didn't publicly disclose until they were forced to by press reports. and importantly, the russian contacts both of them had were apparently not included on their applications for their security clearances from this white house. and so congressman cummings, top democrat on the oversight committee, raises this question
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of whether or not jared kushner should also be keeping his security clearance, especially since he's a currently serving official now. given his meetings with russians, given what was apparently an effort to keep those meetings secret and not disclosing them on a security application. that's all interesting stuff, congressman cummings, interesting points. we're going to post that letter on line tonight so you can read it yourself. it's in granular detail so he makes a good case. but, you know, he's just a democrat. and the oversight committee in the house, like every committee, is controlled by the republicans, and honestly, the republicans on the oversight committee do not want to investigate russia. and they do not want to talk about anybody in the trump administration having secret meetings with the russians or maybe not sdefrk their security clearances, they do not want to talk about any of that. so a democrat on a committee writing a letter, even if it's a good letter raising good points, it's just a democrat on a
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committee writing a letter. and that brings us to our teen i, tiny little scoop tonight, which is this. i'm going to skip right to the signature page at the end. this is a letter we have obtained tonight. as you see on the right side there, it's signed for a couple democrats. sheldon whitehouse, senator from long island. on top, senator feinstein from california. republican, chairman of the subcommittee on crime and terrorism. above him, chuck grassley, republican, senator from iowa, chair of the judiciary committee. and what all four of them, including the chair and the ranking member and the chairs and the chair and the ranking member from the relevant subcommittees, what they all are signing there is a bipartisan letter written to the acting director of the white house.
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dear ms. kelly, dear acting director mccabe, quote, we are writing to request information regarding jared kushner's security clearance. and they lay it all out about kushner not disclosing his meetings with foreign officials, including russian officials. not including his security clearance. question. what is the status of mr. kushner's clearance? what level has he been cleared to receive? >> did president trump or any other official in the white house intervene in or overrule any decision concerning, and he indicated that he was ready for a clearance or anything that goes with the security process. they have submitted their lawyer
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to george lawyer. they say they want their answer by july 6. demanding that the white house hand over information on kushner's security clearance, including whether or not trump or a white house official intervened with the decision to grant it to him. again, we will post this on line tonight. as the news continues to unspool this friday evening, ellen nagashima from the "washington post" joins us next. whoooo. looking for a hotel that fits... ...your budget?
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it was wednesday this week when the homeland national security said it was 21 is states that got targeted by the russian attack last year. after hearing that on wednesday, there was a key moment that made me gulp but didn't get much pickup. it was susan collins. watch what she asks here and then watch the response from the fbi guy. >> is there any evidence that the russians have implanted malware or back doors or other computer techniques to allow them easier access next time to our election systems? >> i'm sorry, senator. i just can't comment on that because of our pending investigations. >> no comment on that? we can't just say, no, we don't believe so? she's asking, did the russians
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put malware or back doors or anything else in our computer systems, our election systems, that allow them easier access next time? no comment. we are all delighted that whatever the russians were doing messing around in the voting systems of more than 20 states last year, at least they didn't blow things up on election day, as far as we can tell. but could they? could they have last year? i mean, were they putting malware in there so they could do it in the future if they want to? that was on wednesday. today there is this from the "washington post," this opus, which, among other things, lays out the concern from the obama administration that if they had retaliated against russia for the russian attack before our election, russia might do something to our election that's far worse than what they've done already. they were worried about that because apparently they believe that the russians could have blown up our election if they wanted to. joining us now is ellen
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nagashima. she's national security reporter for the post, one of them who wrote this blockbuster piece for the post. ellen, congratulations on this opus today. it's a real achievement. thank you for being here. >> thank you. >> one key piece of your reporting, and this is a complex piece, is that the obama administration was very worried as to what the russians might do in response if there was a strong american mupushback, a strong american response to the attack before the election. is it clear that the obama administration had a clear understanding of the russians' capabilities about what the russians could do if they really wanted to? >> so, in fact, the white house did undertake a pretty in-depth review of what the vulnerabilities of the electoral system were last summer. and they had the top voting system elections expert in the country heading up that team. and what they found was because
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there is something like 3,000 voting jurisdictions in the country, almost each one with its different type of election system or voting system, it would, in fact, actually be quite difficult for anyone to come in and hack a voting machine and change the results across the country. or even change the results in any large area. it would be -- because of the n ingenuity of the systems, it would be quite difficult. so they turned to other scenarios that they thought might be more plausible, such as mucking up the voter registration systems. as you heard this week, there were efforts to target at least 21 states. they were not successful in actually getting in and compromising many of these systems. in fact, one of my sources at the department of homeland security said there was hard evidence of only one state in which a voter registration system was compromised, and that
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was in illinois. but be that as it may, the white house was very concerned that they could still do damage by going in and, let's say, dleegt a voter's name, flipping two digits in his address so that when he came to the polls, his voter administration didn't match up and ebbed be turned away. and give doubts about the integrity. >> presumably, if they could do it on a large scale -- it hard to do anything industrial scale in our industry because it is so hett -- heterogenius. that was just a hypothetical worry for them. >> the russians were probing and probing, and we know they're going to come back and try again. they can just keep improving
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their skills and their sophistication. >> can i ask you about the very dramatic opening at the washingt"washington post," the about the intense scrutiny, and the fbi being so intensely secret. was that secrecy driven in part or driven entirely because of the source of the intelligence, how they knew? the way that you guys wrote the story today, it makes it seem like there may be very sensitive intelligence sources close to putin. whether or not they're u.s. intelligence sources and that the cia was willing to go to very extreme lengths to keep those sources protected. >> look, this was very highly classified information, and for that matter, i also don't want to get into. i can't go much beyond what we say in the story as to the
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sources, because we don't want to -- we were asked to withhold some of that information to protect the sources and methods of that. but yes, it was very sensitive and very highly classified. and so was restricted. initially, in fact, too, just the president and three senior aides. >> i have to ask you this question. since there is so much in this repo report. not only for that question i just asked you there, but for the president signing this covert authority to. since you published today upset with this much being known. obviously, what people talk to
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reporters about now is a hot issue in washington. >> -- before we ran the story, we checked with the agencies, we included no comments. i think we got paid from the fbi, national security adviser in the, how they are and how the government is dealing with it. thank you for being here. >> thank you. all of my purchasing. and that unlimited 2% cash back from spark means thousands of dollars each year going back into my business... which adds fuel to my bottom line.
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today republican senator dean heller of nevada became the fifth republican senator to come out against the bill to replace obamacare. this is significant because heller is number five to say no, and if only three of them say no, the bill dies. two more republican senators, susan collins of maine and rob portman of ohio, they're all saying they have grave concerns about the bill but neither of them are coming out and saying no. republicans can lose up to only two senators on this thing or it will fail. we're now looking at five to seven republican senators who are either no or gravely concerned. as you might imagine, in that environment with the math that tight, the pressure is turning up, and that means people are
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turning up. in maine today, protesters showed up at three of senator susan collins' local offices, her home state offices, urging her to say no, to oppose the bill. on a rainy afternoon today, republicans laid down on the sidewalks in protest for the bill. that was at four district offices in ohio. protesters also showed up at the airport in washington, d.c. yesterday thinking that might be an interesting bottleneck spot to catch senators on their way home so they could vote no on the bill. toomey's constituents held a series of 24-hour-long vigils throughout the state. they stayed outside his offices through the night and into the morning. this afternoon constituents showed up at senator jeff flake's office in phoenix, arizona in the scorching heat. they were chanting for the senator's staff to please get
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them on the phone so they could phone him, phone him, so they could tell him which way he plans to vote. in arkansas yesterday, they posted, tom cotton, we're outside your office. talk to us about the bill that will take away 300,000 kansas health care. republican leadership in the senate says they want to vote next week. do they have the votes? do they not? a lot of that will depend what happens, i think, in their home state offices and their phone lines in the next five days. watch this space. this is what it's all about, jamie --
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now the only thing you don't know, is why it took you so long to come here. expedia. everything in one place, so you can travel the world better. if you live overseas, depending on what country you're from, if you want to visit the united states you might need a visa to do so. you have to explain to the u.s. government why you want to come here before you get permission to come here. and the visas are really ugly specific. you can apply, for example, as a religious worker. you can apply as a temporary agriculture worker. you can apply as a treaty trader. also, what is a treaty trader? whatever the case, you pick out the visa you need, the american consulate looks at your application and they decide whether to let you in the united states. last year, before the election, the people in the u.s.
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government whose job it is to look over all those visa applications, they reportedly noticed something new. they noticed a big uptick in a certain kind of visa request from a certain country. this is from today's blockbuster story in the "washington post." quote, officials at the state department and the fbi became alarmed at an unusual spike in requests in russia for temporary visas for officials with technical skills seeking permission to enter the u.s. for short-term assignments at russian facilities. that surge of request for that super specific visa caught the attention of the fbi who apparently put the kibosh on it. quote, at the fbi's behest, the state put off accepting those visas until after the election. n ned, it's nice to see you. >> good to see you, too. >> one of the things the
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"washington post" reports here is that there was this uptick in visas. they also report that they believe that some of the russian whoz participat russians who participated in the attack were here on american soil. does that make sense, that the russians need to physically be here when we think about an attack that appears on the cloud, on the internet? >> to me it does, rachel, and the uptick in visas, it's a reminder, perhaps in some ways, spies are just like us. in order to apply for work overseas, they have to apply for visas. in this case they probably applied for a usage of cover that intelligence services around the world use. not always do intelligence officers travel under official cover. sometimes they go under what's
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called non-official cover and the russians are pretty adept at this. you may recall in 2010, the fbi rounded up 10 so-called russian illegals, that is to say, russians who had illegally assumed american identities and had been living here, in some cases, for decades, collecting intelligence in an effort to send it back to moscow. in this case, though, it sounds like the individuals came here under official cover requesting diplomatic visas. of course they would say i'm a russian intelligence officer. they may say i'm with the minister of defense or the minister of affairs. in doing so, it made it much easier for the fbi to detain the visas at least until the election was over. >> and this was something that was concerning to both the fbi and the state department. in terms of the way these things normally work, are you surprised to hear or unsurprised to hear that the fbi may have noticed this uptick. is that the kind of national
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security monitoring that those of us outside the business should expect? >> i think it's certainly in our interests and americans should expect that the appropriate authorities are closely monitoring russia's entering this country, especially on diplomatic visas. because the thing is, the russian intelligence services are singular in terms of their sophistication and hostility. if we see an uptick like that especially before the election, and if we have vladimir putin interfering in our election, that should send off red flags. if it didn't send off red flas,s our national security would be derelict. but they were on top it have and stopped this trend before it could become more of a problem. >> former spokesman and senior director at the security council, ned, thank you for being here on a friday night. really appreciate it.
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>> thank you. >> i read as many spy novels as the next guy but i had no idea this is how it worked. i feel like i got smarter reading this one thing in the "washington post." real be right back. -when? -friday. we gotta go. [ tires screech ] any airline. any hotel. any time. go where you want, when you want with no blackout dates. [ muffled music coming from club. "blue monday" by new order. cheers. ] ♪ how does it feel the travel rewards credit card from bank of america. it's travel, better connected.
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you are going to have a good weekend. i think. i mean, to the extent i am capable of forecasting your weekend through the tv screen, i hereby insistently forecast you are going to have a good weekend. at least, you should definitely
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try to, because i also hereby forecast that you're going to have a nervous monday. at least a nervous start to monday. i'm not quite sure why this isn't on the news radar yet. i know there is a lot going on, but what is going to happen monday morning ought to be on your news radar. it's going to happen fairly early monday morning. it's a reason to set your alarm. my best warning about it and how to prepare is our closing story tonight, and that's next. (vo) pro plan bright mind
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good evening. justice louis powell, a courtly southerner, surprised almost everyone today by announcing his retirement from the u.s. supreme court. his decision touched off a flurry of speculation on who the president will appoint as a replacement and how that will affect the direction of the court, and of course the country. as carl stern reports tonight, what makes the return of the justice so significant is the special role he played on the court. since louis powell put on the robe 15 years ago, it was often his vote that made the difference. whether voting conservative as president nixon hoped when he appointed him, or liberal, powell has been the so-called swing vote. the court didn't change much when ronald reagan named sandra day oe conn'connor to replace s. but powell's departure gives president reagan his first big
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chance to shift the course solidly to the right if the senate approves. >> louis powell unexpectedly announced his retirement in 1987. he did so on the final day of the supreme court's term that year. his retirement gave president reagan a chance to shift the supreme court solidly to the right, and president reagan tried to do that. he nominated an ultra conservative named robert bjork, and famously, that didn't pan out. it went to a more moderate justice named anthony kennedy. not only did anthony kennedy take over louis powell's seat, he also continued the tradition of that seat being the swing seat, the swing vote on the court. justice powell's announcement that he was retiring happened 30 years ago this upcoming monday, june 26, 1987. and it just so happens that this coming monday is also the final day of this current supreme court term.
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end of the term is sometimes when retiring justices like to make that announcement that they're going. so heading into monday, there is some schpiel. 30 years after that might conceivably be the day he'd announce it. that leave president trump of course with yet another pick for the supreme court and an opportunity to shift the court significantly to the right if he can confirm someone significantly more conservative than kennedy. justice kennedy is 80 years old, the top republican senator on the judiciary committee chuck grassley has been hinting he expects someone on the court to retire this summer. so monday. could be interesting. set your alarm. that does it for us tonight. have an excellent weekend. we'll see you again on monday. now it's time for "the last word" with ari melber sitting in for lawrence tonight. nice to see you rachel. replacing justice kennedy on the court would be the electoral college equivalent of replacing like florida and ohio. >> yeah, it would be like if the democrats really did start winning texas.

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