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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  August 7, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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that the democratic party is chasing white male voters. we're chasing candidates who can speak to the economic realities of the people who live near them, their voters. and some of those people may not be the same race as the people who are the majority who live there. we've got to get people who can speak authentically about the fact that people are struggling to get food on the table in this economy. of course we need black women candidates. i'm all in favor of that and want to promote that. but we've got to get candidates to address the serious problems all across this country, detr t detroit, minneapolis or in western ohio. >> that is all in for this evening. the rachel maddow show starts right now. thank you. rachel has one more night off but she will be back tomorrow. it has now been five days since
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donald trump signed a russians sanctions bill into law. unlike other pieces of legislation, there was no elaborate signing ceremony. the president signed the sanctions legislation, which was passed overwhelmingly by congress in private, out of the public eye. prior to the signing russian president vladimir putin announced that russia would retaliate for the sanctions by ordering the u.s. to cut its staff in russia by 175 people. and on the day that trump signed the legislation, the prime minister went on a tweet storm including this, quote, the trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive pow tore congress in the most humiliating way. that was five days ago and we were looking at how the administration would react to this latest move from russia and until today the response had been basically today. not even a patented donald trump
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twitter. in fact there's been no response from the administration at all, that is until today. when following a weekend meeting with his counter part, sergey lavro lavrov, secretary tillerson announced the next steps. >> i told the foreign minister we have not made a decision on how to remove the u.s. diplomatic personnel. i asked several clarifying questions to ensure i understood their thinking behind that diplomatic note we received but told him we would responsibility by september 1st. >> that's rex tillerson saying the u.s. will respond to the latest moves of expelling their counterparts from the country. we know the response will come by september 1st. so sometime in the next three to four weeks. stay tuned. in addition to the question of how the administration responds to russia, there's also
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the question of how it will respond to special council robert mueller and his investigation into russia's interference in the 2016 election. on friday the "the new york times" broke the news that mueller had recently asked the white house to turn over documents related to former national security adviser michael flynn. the times reported that the request though not a normal subpoena is the first known instance of mr. mueller's team asking the white house to hand over records. now remember it was general flynn and the president's potential interference in that effort which led indirectly to the appointment of mueller as special counsel in the first place. mueller's appointment as special counsel came the day after the reported existence of a memo from fired fbi director james comey saying during a meeting in the oval office the president pressured him to drop the investigation into michael flynn. quote, i hope you can let this
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go, donald trump told comey. the decision to appoint robert mueller special counsel was made by deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, who also wrote the memo used as the pretext to fire comey. in his order rosenstein charged mueller with investigating quote any links and or coordination between the russian government and the individuals associated with the campaign of donald trump, as well as any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation. in subsequent testimony on capitol hill, rosenstein made it clear he would protect mueller from any undue interference from the administration. >> if president trump ordered you to fire the special counsel, what would you do? >> senator, i'm not going to follow any orders unless i believe those are lawful and appropriate orders. under the regulation special counsel mueller may be fired
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only for good cause and i am required to put that cause in writing. if it were not good cause, it wouldn't matter to me what anybody else. >> deposit general rod rosenstein saying in june that robert mueller could only be fired for good cause. this weekend he defended robert mueller again. appearing on sunday's show he said mueller could investigate any crimes he encovuncovered. >> we don't engage in fishing expeditions. if he finds evidence that is the appropriate scope of the investigation, he can. if it's outside of the scope, he need to come to me for permission to expand his investigation. >> that is the deputy attorney general appearing to draw a line in the sand, say if robert mueller finds evidence of a crime within the scope of his
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information he would be allowed to investigate it without interference. that was yesterday. this morning the president's outside legal team appears to be adopting a conciliatory tone toward robert mueller in order to lower to temperature regarding the investigation. the new tone coming from his lawyers, quote, what will matter is what trump says, and he has shown he's willing to change course with any whim or tweet. and if right on cue, donald trump began tweeting disparaging about richen blumenthal today call the russian story a hoax after the senate appeared on television to discuss legislation he's proposing to prevent the president from firing mueller. a few hours later, senator blumenthal discussed his fierce abo fears about the fate of the investigation. >> the special counsel and the president of the united states
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are on a collision course. they are heading toward a constitutional confrontation that could lead to a crisis. >> one sure way to determine whether the white house and special counsel are indeed on a collision course and heading towards a constitutional confrontation will be whether the white house complies with the document request. as the times reports, this marks the first time the special counsel has asked the white house to voluntarily comply with a document request. so what will be the response? joining me now is "the new york times" washington correspondent michael schmitt. michael, good to see you. thanks for being here. let's talk about the volunteer request. for you reporting were you able to determine why the request was voluntary rather than a subpoena? >> this is very early on in the information. it's kind of like the second
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inning. and early on the government will go to one side that it's trying to learn information from and ask for the documents voluntarily. a lot of times lawyers are able to work out that and hand over the documents. and when they're not, then you see things like subpoenas and then in the most extreme cases search warrants. this is the initial thing saying hey look, we're interested in looking at these issues, we're interested in this stuff, can you produce this stuff to us voluntarily. that's what we've seen here. >> were you able to determine the scope of the kinds of documents they're looking for? >> are with talking about a broader request related to certain business dealings that were going on at the time he worked with the trump team? >> we would not this would not be a specific request about the campaign because that stuff would go to the campaign. this is stuff about flynn's time at the white house. you know, personal to flynn, that would go to flynn's lawyer. so it's something about flynn's
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time at the white house and about him specifically. we don't know anything beyond that. what we know is the issues that came up with mike flynn when we was at the white house. one was an fbi interview days after trump was sworn in about flynn's call with the russian ambassador in the weeks before trump was inaugurated and we know about the questions about whether flynn was still, you know, taking money from the turkish government and doing work with him when he was national security adviser at the white house. flynn was gone within the first month of the administration, forced to resign. >> he only lasted that 27 days but within that time you had sally yates coming over in the justice department to warn others about flynn. in your reporting do you have any information that robert mueller's investigators may want to talk to all of the people that sally yates talked to and indeed talk to salary yates? >> i think that mueller is going to want to talk to everyone at the white house.
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the big question that starts all of this is the february 14th meeting in which comey and trump are -- comey says they're alone in the oval office. before that meeting the vice president, the chief of staff and several other members of the cabinet and aides were in the oval office before the president cleared it outer. mueller at the very lease will want to talk to those folks about whether they were cleared out of the oval office and whether this one on one meeting happened between mueller and comey. comey laid all of this out before congress but trump said to us we interviewed him last month and he said that meeting had not happened. so even basic questions like that that mueller will try to get at will require interviewing a lot of people in the white house. >> i'm wondering if your reporting backs up the reporting that the trump legal team is trying to adopt a conciliatory team, lower the temperature on the interactions with the
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special counsel office, donald trump's twitter habits notwithstanding. >> there's different factions. there's the lawyers who want to take a conciliatory tone and want to not attack mueller and want to see if they can work with him and move things along in that direction but then's other folks in trump's world that want to attack mueller and go after sessions. and what we've seen here is sort of a tug of war between the two of them. at times trump was has gone after mueller and sessions. at other times it seems like in recent days he's ratcheted that back. and it remains to be seen if he will erupt and criticize mueller in tweets or go as far as firing him, something the democrats essentially say is a red line for them. >> we'll keep an eye on it. "the new york times" washington correspondent, michael schmitt, thanks for you time. for more on this potential collision course between the white house and the special
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counsel, let's bring in barbara mcquade who was fired earlier this year. let's pick up where we left off there. the white house trying to change the tone but donald trump going on a tear today taking it out on richard blumenthal, on the senator trying to make it hard are for him to fire robert mueller. what does that do for the legal strategy when the client is going off when they're trying to be more conciliatory inside the house. >> i think any attorney would tell you they would like for their client to keep his mouth shut. that would be the strategy that most defense attorneys would suggest to their client. but i think donald trump is appealing not just to the legal issues here but is trying to win in the court of public opinion with his base. by undermining efforts to investigate him or anyone who might be his critic, i think he's trying to shore up his base so if there are charges, he can say i told you all along that
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this was a bunch of nonsense and these people were not to be believed. >> senator blumenthal talked about a potential constitutional crisis. so far there's the conciliatory tone from the attorneys. but what if this request for voluntarily turning over documents is denied and the white house does not do it. where do we go from there? >> it is not uncommon to start an informal request such as this to voluntarily get the documents you need without fighting it off. if thement documents are not t over, the next step is the grand jury subpoensubpoena. if the white house fails to comply, then folks could be put in jail. they're taking it through a route of professional courtesy. but if not, all of the lawyers have a heavy hammer to back it up if they don't comply. >> what do you make of donald
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trump's sensitivity about anything about michael flynn. that seems to set him off. there's the allegation by comey that he specifically asked him to lay off michael flynn. what does that tell you in your investigative mind? >> it sets off red flags for me. donald trump is not particularly local to the people who work for him. so the idea that he's trying to protect him out after a sense of friendship or loyaltity doesn't ring true. it makes me wonder if there isn't some red floag that they'e on to. >> and lastly, a similar question that i asked michael schmitt. if you're talking about that 27-day period when michael flynn was the national security adviser, the warnings about him came from sally yates. they potentially went through the white house counsel's office. for all we know they could have gone to the attorney general of the united states. you know, how wide are we talking about in terms of people who could potentially be subpoenaed and have their records subpoenaed to testify
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about michael flynn and his t k activities. >> one thing the prosecutor wants to do is gets his around around the codocuments and arou the people that know something about this. there are a whole series of people who are likely involved whose names we don't know, the aides, the staffers, the naval stew warards who served lunch o dinner to them. it will be just as important for mueller and his team to interview those people. >> all of the people who now have to find money for lawyers. they must be excited about that. thank you for your time. >> thanks, joy. a lot more to come here tonight, including what could be a way for vladimir putin to get around u.s. sanctions. up next, while a little help wanted ad reveals a whole lot about the american president and his family. we'll be right back.
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okay. you've heard the old saying, necessity is the mother of invention. well, watch this. those are protesters outside the trump national golf club in bedminster, new jersey where the president is currently on his 17-day vacation that he totally insists is not a vacation because he really totally is working at the golf club. police banned protesters from congregating outside the club. so the local chapter of we the people decided to get creative, no picketing, no problem. they can still drive. they formed a motorcade. bedminster is donald trump's summer retreat.
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tonight we have a scoop on the president's winter retreat, mar-a-lago. it's not too soon to staff up for the winter. the social season down in palm beach, florida is hot and mar-a-lago is hiring. here's the help wanted ad on c-8 of the palm beach post. get out your magnifying glass. they need 35 people to serve food and benches, clear and carry dishes, keep stations clean, supply linens. you can mail in your resume or apply by fax. that's so throwback. fax. the ad ran only two times and then it disappeared. poof. if you're thinking that's a strange way to get the best applicants if are you business, you would not be wrong. the teeny tiny ad written in fine print so small you need bionic eyesight to see it appears to have been at best a less than sincere effort to hire american as donald trump is so
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fond of saying. at worst it appears to be a ruse. the washington post suggests it might be the latter. one week before that tiny ad ran, mar-a-lago asked the labor department for permission to hire foreign workers, not american workers, 70 of them, 35 waiters, 20 cooks, 15 hou housekeepe housekeepers. they would come to the u.s. on hb 2 visas. you have to prove that you couldn't find qualified americans to fill those jobs. by law mar-a-lago needed to search for american workers for 14 days before it could mo to the next step in the process. the second step is to send documentation to a labor department office attesting to the company's inability to hire americans. attesting to its inability to hire americans. let's get this straight. the labor department says before you can hire the foreign workers you have to prove you at least
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attempted to hire americans but you couldn't find any american worker. and you can't find any american workers if they never apply and they can't apply if they don't see the ad. think about it. if your real goal is to hire foreign workers but first you have to prove there aren't any americans for the job, what would you do? maybe? maybe? you'd place a tiny sad little ad, an ad hidden away in the back of a newspaper and it's gone the blink of an eye. mar-a-lago put that request in for foreign workers smack in the middle of made in america week and the ad ran days before stephen miller took to the podium to reveal the trump administration's new immigration plan. and this scoop comes from the washington post. one took home a prize from his reporting. and tonight one of his
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colleagues at the post delivered a scoop of his own using the same bloodhound determination. this reporter spent every single day in the month of may in and around the trump hotel in d.c. and we're going to tell you what he discovered next. you do not want to miss it. ♪ sailin' away on the crest of a wave, it's like magic ♪ ♪ rollin' and ridin' and slippin' and slidin' ♪ ♪ it's magic introducing the all new volkswagen tiguan. ♪ higher and higher, baby the new king of the concrete jungle. it's just a burst pipe, i co(laugh) it. no. with claim rateguard your rates won't go up just because of a claim. i totally could've - no! switching to allstate is worth it.
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i am a first responder tor and i'emergencies 24 hours a day, everyday of the year. my children and my family are on my mind when i'm working all the time. my neighbors are here, my friends and family live here, so it's important for me to respond as quickly as possible and get the power back on. it's an amazing feeling turning those lights back on. be informed about outages in your area. sign up for outage alerts at together, we're building a better california. the day after he ousted reince priebus, donald trump dine out with his brand-new chief of staff, general john kelly at his favorite place to
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eat in d.c., the trump international hotel, less than a mile away from the white house. as the hill noted at the time, it was the 57th day he spent in a trump property as president. now that was a week and a half ago and already that number has climbed to 62. according to the "the new york times," a running count of all of the things about the donald trump presidency that are abnormal. perhaps the most abnormal of all is the way that he and his family are making money off his being president. and the washington post puts in an incredible piece of reporting today, quote, for the first time in presidential history, a profit making venture touts the name of a president. every item order feeds the family business. this hotel sits in a build leased by the government that is
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being led by donald trump. once he became president donald trump turned over the management of the hotel to his sons and promised not to take me profits from it while he's in office. however he still has an ownership interest in the hotel and is still going to profit from it. washington post reporter spent every day to get a sense of who is spending time and money there. republican big wigs, and tourists go to wheel and deal and wine and dine with the president of the united states at the place he likes to eat at in d.c. something that's unprecedented in american history. joining us now, jonathan o'connell, the washington post reporter responsible for the story. tell us what you found. who is hanging out at the trump d.c. hotel? >> it's really a mix of all sorts of different groups. but the thing i really want to get across is the hotel has become the center of republican
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politics in washington. any given night you go down there, if you go down there tonight, you could see a member of trump's inner circle, a member of his family, a republican congressman holding a fundraiser for election. you could see a protest. he saw protests a number of nights that we were down there because those folks resisting the president are using the hotel as a target. and the other thing you see down there is you see fans. it's a little bit like trump tower in new york where there are fans of the president that show up on a routine basis. it's the same thing, you see people in make america great again hats that are visiting washington. >> washington is a democratic town. during the obama years, it became culturally jazz and blues and obama like. is it because the republicans feel comfortable there or that they can influence donald trump by spending money there? >> there's a mix of folks there.
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for republicans who are supporters of trump and feel that they're a minority in this town, the hotel is a place to go and be around folks who are likely to share a viewpoint with you and you also get the rub shoulders with members of the cabinet, trump's inner circle or other republicans who are big wigs. there are so many different folks there who have a role in the government now or who had a role in trump campaign or who had a role in other republicans' campaigns who are going there on a routine basis. we've seed rudy giuliani, newt gingrich. and it's an every night kind of thing. it's the social circle of republican politics now. >> what about the foreign wheeling and dealing that's going on. you know, there's some discomfort, at least some people with the idea that foreign dig that tearidignitaries can hand
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money by swiping their card. >> that's the thing here. there's a clause in the contusion, the emoluments clause that bars the president from receiving benefits or payments from foreign governments. >> right. >> so the hotel, specifically the management of the hotel specifically is avoiding booking foreign governments there because the company agreed at the end of the year to donate profits from those eevents. they can book foreign entities that are not foreign governments and keep that money. >> jonathan o'connell, reporter for the washington post. thank you very much. spent a month in the trump hotel. joining us now the former chief white house ethics lawyer under president george w. bush and part of a lawsuit that's alleging that donald trump is illegally making money by way of
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that trump d.c. hotel. you heard jonathan's story. there's one part in his story where he's talking about a group suing saudi arabia. is that the kind of thing that has led the crew and the group you're part of to sue? >> yes, that's part of it. the president and other united states government officials are prohibited from accepting presents or emoluments. and emoluments means profits or benefits from transactions with foreign governments. and this would include any foreign government picking up the tab at a trump hotel. it also includes the financing that the trump organization is getting from governments, foreign governments and banks. the president refuse to disclose the financing of his business
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empire and gets nervous when robert mueller wants to get anywhere near his financial arrangements which makes us that much for suspicious that we're on to something, that that there's foreign government money coming in and out of the organization. that's something that the founders didn't want. they said nobody holding a position of trust in the united states government cannot accept presents or emoluments from a foreign government. that's what's going on here. and we've asked a federal judge in new york to look at this, find out what the president is getting, interpret the emoluments clause and enter an injuncti injunction. >> you were a white house ethics lawyer. you worked in the white house. how did donald trump get it approved to be both the landlord and the tenant essentially as the head of the united states government, he's the head of government and he is essentially leasing that hotel from his own government. how is that legal? >> i don't think it is.
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the lease that the trump organization signed with the gsa said that a united states government official could not share in the profits of the lease and that's exactly what he is doing. and the gsa said well, we're just paying the profits to a trust instead of to trump directly. guess who the beneficiary of the trust. what they're doing is putting form over substance. and that is the thinking that gave rise to enron. you've got to focus on the economic reality. the money is going to the president of the united states. if gsa wanted to prevent that in the lease. it's a violation of the lease terms. we cannot have a situation where there's a fed control government owned plot and people are going there, paying a lot of money to the trump organization for access to trump administration officials. we just don't do business that way. we don't have the president put it hat out in front of the white house and people put money in it
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to go into the white house and talk to people. it's not acceptable for people to pay money to the trump organization or to get in there and get access to united states government officials. and this is corruption. and it makes our country look like a corrupt country. it's really destroying our reputation around the world. and i don't understand why president trump doesn't understand the need to simply get rid of the property. he could have sold the hotel. that's a project he went in to before he became president, before he thought he would become president. why not just sell the hotel and focus on being president. he has one place on pennsylvania avenue to take care of and it's called the white house. he's there to be president. not name keeper. >> well said. richard painter, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you. still ahead tonight, the way the white house is now trying to avoid us, the press. hint, it goes well beyond
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it was not clear to most observers in the days leading up to the presidential election that donald trump would become our next president. what was clear was that the trump campaign was gearing up for a future beyond the white house, that they were looking for way to harness the energy that trump cultivated on the campaign trail to turn it into a very powerful and potentially lucrative media venture. vanity fair first pointed this out last summer with this blunt
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head line, quote, exclusive, is donald trump's end game the launch of trump news. it didn't take the trump campaign long to say hey why can't we do that right now. >> ten seconds. >> okay. >> nine, eight, seven -- >> happy new year. >> we're live. >> all right. welcome in to trump tower live. i'm cliff similars with the trump campaign, joined by boris epstein on my right, kellyanne conway on my left. we're going to come to you live right here from the trump campaign war room. >> wow. and they were off. trump tv found a home on donald trump's facebook page during the campaign. it never really broadened beyond that page. and when trump actually won the election, trump tv kind of fizzled out. but now trump tv is back in more ways than one. for one, the facebook videos are
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back. they're being paid for by trump's reelection campaign and filmed at trump tower. they're produced to look like short news updates an corchored presidential -- >> hey, everybody. laura trump here. i bet you haven't heard of all of the accomplishments the president had this week because there's so much fake news out there. we wanted to give you a glimpse into his week. >> the real news. >> this weekend, former cnn commentator announced her departure from cnn on friday. she turned up on trump's facebook page delivering the news. she's officially on the rnc payroll as their new spokesperson. so donald trump's relx campaign as reignited trump tf. but the president's media
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operations expanding beyond facebook. your faux anchor you saw in the video, that was boris epstein who you'll remember as one of the main trump surrogates during the campaign. until april he was working for the white house. now he works frs sinclair broadcast group as its chief political analyst and host of a series of reports called "bottom line with boris." they own stations in 81 markets across the country and in june sinclair told its stations that i were required to air the "bottom line with boris" segments nine times a week. they're on topics that the white house wants you to hear about framed in a way to put issues in a positive light for the administration. and now sinclair is about to expand its reach further through a new deal they're pursuing which will allow sinclair stations to reach 72% of all
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u.s. households nationwide. that's beyond the reach that the fcc allows. but luckily for sinclair, they've got a friend in the government, the man hand picked by donald trump to be the fcc chairman. he's the guy bending the rules that will ensure sinclair can reach three-quarters of the country with their pro-trump "bottom line with boris" messaging. trump's narrative may soon be creeping into your regular news diet and it's happening really quickly. joining us now is a professor of information studies at ucla and author of the book "global village." so let's talk about the sinclair deal. i think to the ordinary person you're thinking wait a minute, how can one company reach 72% of the country with essentially propaganda. >> this is nothing less than a
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massive assault on our democracy and on our media institutions. what we're talking about here is the takeover of local television stations by a conglomerate. previously sinclair was only allow allowed to access 39% of american households. if you saw the distinction between the two maps that you showed, you can see that now this media group has taken over local tv stations. this is not national tv stations that some people have skepticism around, this isn't bright bright or a fox news channel. this is the local channel. people in this country have a sense of division and they have a sense of distrust of institutions right now. but one thing people tend to trust are the mom and pop places, the local tv stations. but what happens when those are taken over by a conglomerate forcing stories on tv networks.
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>> sinclair has a history. this isn't their first foryay into the news. >> exactly. we've talked about steve bannon, i have spoken on msnbc before about robert mercer and the data wars. mr. smith, the ceo of sinclair. we see examples of how sinclair has essentially used epstein to show up on various channel to dispute and change narratives around factually forums of reporting that are critiquing what trump is doing. for example around the flynn story. >> has there been any pushback from the stations themselves and the employees there? >> it's hard to do. these stations tend to not have a lot in terms of financial stability. they're being bought out by con
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glam rat conglomerates. what does trump need to survive. in his public life he's not been a great businessman or a great golfer either. but what he's successful is for the ratings that he got as a media showman. if he's the showman on a media empire that's taking over not just facebook and so on but your local tv stations, there's a powerful boss npossibility to mn that base. we see that base eroding. this is an intelligent media strategy that people need to pay attention to. i'm glad you're reporting that. >> thanks for being here. appreciate you. russian president vladimir putin had made a significant about face and it could help him avoid international sanctions believe it or not. that story is next. so when your "side glass" gets damaged... [dog barks]
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new, more reliable equipment for your home. and a new culture built around customer service. it all adds up to our most reliable network ever. one that keeps you connected to what matters most. okay. so for this segment, to get us all on the same page, we've decided to employ a time-worn television device, the visual aid. ha ha. this is is a crisp $20 bill. it still has andrew jackson on it, so we'll overlook that. as you know it's worth $20 because the united states government says it is, right? both the secretary of the treasury and the treasurer of the united states have put their official signatures on it. you can fold this paper up. you can put it in your pocket. bye-bye, 20. it's mine now. or you can hand it to someone in exchange for goods and services
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and put it in the bank. you get these dollars, like the one i'm probably going to give back, from the bank in the first place, which gets them from the united states government. but of course you knew that. this, however, is bitcoin. there's no physical coin to put in your pocket, just a long string of numbers and leftters that represents your wallet, and another one that represents the wallet of the person you're trading with. you send your bitcoin to them using your laptop or your phone, and you get back whatever it is you agreed to trade your bitcoin for, which sometimes is just regular money. this is what a bitcoin transaction looks like. we picked one out at random that happened sometime today and blurred a few digits just to be on the safe side. we have no idea who this transaction is between or what it's about. bitcoin is a crypto currency, which is a fancy way of saying it uses encryption to keep transactions safe. i can't pretend to be you, and you can't pretend to be me when we trade with bitcoin because of the encryption, and it makes the
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transaction impossible to forge. each transaction is verified and recorded by other bitcoin users in a kind of digital ledger called a block chain. how they do it is not really important for the purposes of this story, but the fact that digital currency allows for annan nimity is super important. why, you ask? well, guess who suddenly really interested in crypto currency? guess who suddenly appears to be interested in creating a russian version of crypto currency similar to bitcoin? i'll give you one guess. his name rhymes with had a beer gluten. joining us now is mark c. johnson, a former cia officer and a contributor to "the daily beast." he wrote an eye catching story this weekend called why is the kremlin suddenly obsessed with crypto currencies. mark, thanks for being here. why is the kremlin so interested in crypto currencies? >> i think there's a lot of reasons why the russians would be interested in crip to
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currencies. there are plenty of very legitimate uses for them, and the banking industry in the united states and elsewhere is exhibiting a lot of interest in it. but the point i make in the piece is that the sanctions that have been put on the russians are getting more stiff by the day, and that causes them to, you know, look for other ways of getting money out of the country. and the sanctions that the congress just put in place, i think, are going to make it even harder for the russians to move money. so they're looking for other alternatives. >> now, there was a time when the russian government, when the kremlin was very opposed to these kind of crypto currencies, right? when did the change take place? >> yeah, about a year ago, as recently as a year ago, they were talking about imprisoning people for up to seven years for using bitcoin. and so, you know, it was really interesting to me, and this is sort of the genesis of this story when i noticed that all of a sudden they were saying, you know, not only are we not going to make it illegal, but we are
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interested in doing our own kind of crypto currency. and vladimir putin actually met with one of the founders of one of these coins on the fringes of the st. petersburg national economic forum in june. so that was a signal at least to me that they had completely changed their script and were now really interested in pursuing crypto currencies. >> do you have specific reporting that vladimir putin and his sort of oligarchic friends are specifically interested in it as a way to evade sanctions? >> yeah, and that was actually the real aha moment in the story is i discovered that there's this guy -- there's a parliament a parliamentarian who said he's interested in not bitcoin specifically but other types of crypto currencies, and he thought that they were actually away they could get around sanctions. he actually told this to a conference. but the key point was who this
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guy is. he's one of the two guys that they believe is responsible for the death of a russian spy with poisoning in london. so that really got my attention. >> your story has certainly gotten our attention. mark c johnson, thank you so much for walking us through all of that. >> thanks for having me, joy. two things to keep an eye on this week. one, rachel will be back here tomorrow night. those of you who just tweeted me, that is the answer to your question. two, well, for that, you're going to have to stick around. we'll be right back.
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with an easy open cap. members of the house and senate officially kicked off their august vacation because lucky for them, congress does not have to show up for work in august. at least 50 members of congress have town hall meetings scheduled over the august recess, and the people at home are ready. >> why on earth did you vote for the republican health care bill when the vast majority of your constituents opposed it? [ applause ] >> 500,000 people, coloradans who were promised they could keep their plans if they like their plans, had their plans canceled. we've seen higher cost increases in insurance. if you live in colorado, the insurance commissioner says that you will see double-digit insurance increases this year. the challenge is -- the
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challenge is zblsh -- >> he asked you a direct question. >> why i voted for it? because i will continue to repeal and replace the affordable care act that will increase the quality of care. >> that was colorado this past friday. republican senator cory gardner getting an earful from his constituents for voting yes to repeal obamacare. today republican congressman mark meadows held a town hall in flat rock, north carolina. he tried to explain the latest in the republican plan to replace obamacare. >> the most talked about thing in the last two weeks has actually been a proposal that lindsey graham has been working on, and that is more with granting medicaid and obamacare subsidies. we'll get into that later. [ audience booing ] well, we'll get into whatever you want to talk about. we look at actually increasing some of the funds that are there and block granting those to the state. so that way north carolina -- [ audience booing ]
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this is a republican who is saying that we're wanting to do this with a democratic governor, guys. i mean y'all talk about -- so -- >> 1.3 million people lose coverage in north carolina. >> wow, the congressman might want to start wishing they had booked their summer vacations in europe instead of heading back to their home districts. there's still 24 days left in august. it's going to be a long recess. watch this space. all right. that does it for us tonight. rachel will be back in this very chair tomorrow. right now, it is time for "the last word" with the great lawrence o'donnell. good evening, sir lawrence. good evening, joy. i'm going to use some of that mark meadows video later in the show. as i was writing a little something about it, i was trying to think of how to describe him. i found myself saying, extreme conservative republican, but i'm not sure what conservative means anymore. >> yeah. >> he's extreme something. he's freedom caucus. he's like the guysn


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