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tv   MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle  MSNBC  December 1, 2017 6:00am-7:00am PST

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coverage right now. >> thanks, joe. watch msnbc or i don't know maybe look at that gorgeous christmas tree in rockefeller center. good morning, i'm stephanie ruhle with a lot to hit today, starting with stalled in the senate. republicans race to shore up support on the tax bill. delaying a very crucial vote. >> failure's not an option. we need a tax cut. >> now, a new analysis shows the cuts could add 1 trillion, listen to me, that is trillion with a "t," to the deficit. and a controversial verdict. the case that sparked a national debate on immigration reform, sanctuary cities and president trump's law. >> kate steinle was murdered by an illegal immigrant, deported at least five times. >> now a jury finds the undocumented immigrant at the center of it all not guilty of murder. this morning the president responding furiously on twitter. and a very undiplomatic good-bye. reports swirl that president
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trump plans to dumb rex tillerson. the white house denying the drama. >> when the president loses confidence in somebody, they'll no longer be here. the secretary of state is here. >> well then, we begin today with the u.s. senate back in session in one hour to talk taxes. and what looked like a done deal last night no longer a sure thing but it is certainly close. the senate hit a slight snag last night after a number of republican senators expressed reservations about the bill. but within the last few minutes alone, one of those nos has turned into a yes. i've got a great team here to break it all down starting with msnbc's garrett haake on the hill. garrett, ron johnson now a yes. that leaves three republicans on the fence. they need at least two of them. how are they going to do it? >> hey, stephanie. a lot of moving parts here this morning. you mentioned ron johnson. he and steve danes were the first two no votes on this bill. they are now in the yes column after getting changes they
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wanted in the house small business as tax. they're on the fence for different reasons. but they're very interesting. on the one side, we have bob corker and jeff flake who are deficit hawks. they do not want to see this tax cut blow up the budget. that report coming out yesterday from the joint committee on taxation saying this will cost $1 trillion even after growth is going to be a problem. they want to see that issue being addressed. on the other side, susan collins, who wants to see a change in the state and local tax deduction to protect folks in maine. we already know susan collins is ready to vote no on big republican priorities because we have seen it before. last night, jeff flake and bob corker were on the floor holding up another procedural vote because they want to see changes get done. they're going to be the key to this. look, stephanie, they can pass this with two nos. but you can't have all three. so you've got to get some of these people back on board.
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what an ugly optic. what an ugly picture that is for republicans if they pass this with two respected republicans screaming hey, this costs too much. that's what republican leadership has to deal with today. and it's going to be a lot of back and forth on this process. >> i'm sorry, garrett -- >> -- who knows when we might see a final vote on this thing. >> i'm going to disagree. if republicans get this thing over the finish line and they have two no nos, they're not going to care and they'll be thrilled they got this done. >> stephanie, this is not the finish line. this is not the finish line. this is the baton handoff in the relay. because they still have to get whatever comes back through a conference committee passed. a finish line without these two -- the handoff without these two guys does not mean they're done. >> that is an excellent point. it would be progress. just look at the markets. i want to bring my panel in. msnbc political analyst elise jordan is "time" columnist and former adviser to senator rand paul. matt boot, a member on the council of foreign relations. his book coming out soon, "the
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road not taken." what do we think's going to happen here elise? once you pull one string, how do you not keep the rest of this thing from falling apart? >> republicans are just adamant this has to be done, that it's so important for the midterms 2018 to show some ball moving forward and that they have at least one legislative agenda item. i, however, am so skeptical about the massive amount of debt we're adding. i cannot believe -- i'm just having ptsd from the republican primary process. where so many of these senators who were candidates for the republican nomination were railing about the debt and deficit and worried about how that impacts our national security. it's just, it's very -- once we're in power i guess we don't mind spending the money. >> well, it's the ultimate for me in short termism. having a win today and not worrying about what will happen tomorrow. but tax reform only comes along once every 30 years. it is going to impact every american. you just mentioned, i mentioned
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it earlier, joint committee on taxation. their report using dynamic scoring shows this republican plan does not come anywhere near paying for itself even if you take into account economic growth. now, steve mnuchin, he told bob corker in june when we roll out this plan, you're going to see how this thing is paid for. gary cohen said it two months ago, this thing will pay for itself. it doesn't. so for the average person out there who's afraid of inflation, who's afraid of what the debt is going to do to them, how does that factor in? >> it should, stephanie, i'm a former policy guy, not a tax guy, but just looking at the arguments for this bill, they're incoherent. on the one hand, every single day donald trump is on twitter saying the economy is going great. and the next minute, he's saying we desperately need this tax bill to increase economic growth. wait a second that doesn't add up. what we're seeing is the cost of that tax bill is gigantic. this ought to be of concern especially to republicans who
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claim to be in favor of the defense budget. this will squeeze out defense spending. donald trump made this big promise about how he was going to increase the size of his force and i think we need it because our navy is way too small for all the missions it has to do around the world. there's no way you're going to have defense spending if you're piling up $1 trillion of debt and republicans need to be honest about the fact they're betraying a lot of their promises to fiscal discipline, to greater defense. they're just trying to get something in the "w" column for political purposes here. >> i'm just not sure it's a "w" for everyone. i want to say what republican pat toomey said yesterday, explaining why this bill is yesterday. and please pay attention because on the other side i'm going to tell you why it's simply not true. >> the whole idea behind our bill is to create the incentives that will encourage the investment that hasn't been happening. last ten years, there has been a collapse, a collapse in the investment growth of capital stock. a collapse in productivity
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growth and, therefore, stagnant wages. >> this makes absolutely no sense. there are stagnant wages because companies don't need to pay people more. we are living in a globalized environment. president trump can talk about america first all he wants. we don't have a huge manufacturing presence in the united states. and it is not coming back. one of the ways you can look at that is what's the most successful powerful company out there, amazon. americans made the decision that we want cheap goods and we want them quickly and they're made overseas. so to make this argument that companies need this to grow and pay people more, i turn you to the stock market. the dow has hit 24,000. and yes, it's gotten an extra boost because people are excited about tax reform. but the market is doing very well because companies are flush with cash. when they're flush with cash, they're not paying their employees more. they're doing dividends. they're doing stock buy backs. this is so dangerous. why would republicans want to sell this to the american people? when you think about who this helps, it absolutely does not
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help president trump's base. >> it does help republican donors who i feel have been overly influential in this process just says they were with the health reform bill. you look at how the third stab at that bill and, you know, one of the aides on the hill was quoted as saying well, you know, we had to do this for the donors. the donors were really pushing. they were saying they aren't going to donate any more money. if we don't really put our effort into appealing obamacare. i feel like that is yet again where we are with republican policy. we aren't seeing innovation that will absolutely help the base, the forgotten man that put donald trump into office. we're still catering to our donor elites. >> innovation is about automation and automation is not putting those people back to work. education would. retraining would. if you cut these budgets, there won't be money to train people for different jobs. i wonder though why don't individuals stand up and rail against this like they did with
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health care? i mean, when you look at this plan, the argument is, we're going to have permanent tax cuts for corporations but not individuals. they make this argument because they said corporations in order for them to do long-term planning, they need to know what their tax basis is. i'm no different. i need to make long-term planning because i have three kids i need to put through college. so how is it that everyday americans aren't standing up and calling their congressmen saying why does a corporation get something i don't? why aren't people fighting against it? >> i think instinctively it doesn't arouse the same kind of opposition as taking away health care from ordinary americans but, you know, the polls show this is not popular and the reason republicans are pursuing it, it's not really on policy ground, it's on political grounds because they know they're coming to the end of trump's first year and they're desperate to pass one single piece of legislation, no matter what's in it. i have to say, this is not the way we should be going about reforming the tax code. this is a monstrosity. this is an outrage. remember the way we reform the
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tax code in 1986 under ronald reagan, it was years in the making, it was bipartisan, it passed the senate. it wasn't something that was cobbled together, where nobody knows what's in it and gets pushed through on the party bill. that is not the way we should reform something that affects every single american. >> ronald reagan in 1986 started the process. a 262-page plan. this year, 2017, a one-page outline. hearings, 33 days. in 1986. in 2017, zero. time in congress, ten months. time in congress in 2017, one single month. no hearings, no witnesses, nothing. i want to share just yesterday, such good sound, pat roberts, what he had to say about bob corker's request just for a meeting. just for a meeting. he complained that corker was putting on a show. a show. all bob corker is asking for is a meeting to discuss this in
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more detail. i mean, for him to say -- here we go, he'll probably call another meeting along with other people who won't be here very long to determine the fate of the rest of us. are you kidding me? bob corker is just saying can we have a meeting here. >> they're more concerned about the political fate than the fate of the american people and the long-term success and strength of the american economy. >> but isn't the fate of the american people tied to their political fate? if you fail the american people in the next 1, 2, 5, 10 years, they aren't going to vote for you. >> their perspective is a year from now. because they're desperate to go to the voters in november of 2018 and be able to say hey, we passed something. and i think that's going to backfire on them because what they're going to pass is not going to be successful, it's not going to be popular, it's not going to achieve results they want. >> we have to leave there. quick, yes, no, it passes? i think it will. >> yes. >> there you go. up next, the undocumented immigrant at the center of a
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case that sparked national outrage cleared of murder charges. president trump, who seized on the case to push his border wall, furious this morning, but first, president trump was not furious last night when he and first lady melania lit up the national christmas tree, ending the ceremony by wishing everyone a merry christmas. seth meyers following the president's lead celebrated a return of christmas. >> christmas is back, you guys. they lit the tree right outside this building last night. i worked heard during the obama years and i can tell you this, during the obama years, there was no merry christmas, there was no tree lighting. we all just wished each other a nice december while al roker sadly pointed a flashlight at a fern.
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welcome back, you're watching msnbc. i'm stephanie ruhle. i'm quoting the one and only flo rida, it's going down for real. ex-national security adviser michael flynn, guess what he's doing today, pleading in the
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mueller case. the court has scheduled add plea hearing for lieutenant general michael t. flynn age 58 of alexandria virginia at 10:30 a.m. today. that is going to be serious. we have to break this down. this news is just coming out. i have midwin charles, so glad you are in the building to join us. max, what's your take? >> this is huge. it's hard to exaggerate quite how big this is because bob mueller would not be giving flynn a plea deal unless he was offering valuable information. who is further up the food chain than the former national security adviser. you're looking at people like donald trump jr. you're looking at people like jared kushner. you can imagine what the president's reaction to this is going to be. there have been reports in recent days he is -- part of his delusion in general is he's under this illusion that this mueller investigation is going to end by christmas --
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>> maybe he's right, maybe it's going to end by christmas. hello, here we are, december 1st, and general flynn's got a hearing today. >> i think it's going to take a little longer than christmas. this shows that muler is going up the food chain and trump is, you know, going to have an explosion. because remember he fired comey, telling him you got to take it easy on flynn. now flynn has copped a plea. what is he going to tell the prosecutors? donald trump has reason to be very afraid. i'm very afraid that the reaction to this is he's going to renew his efforts to try to get rid of bob mueller. >> i mean, the volatility earlier this week with president trump's twitter handle certainly seemed to foreshadow that this was in the works and coming down the pipeline. he can't be happy at all. so i'm going to just hope that we aren't going to see more outbursts. i think that for mike flynn at the end of the day, it's more important to keep his son out of prison probably. that at the end of the day is
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probably what's leading him to be more cooperative than originally intended perhaps. >> imagine, keep his son out of prison and by cooperating, he can be putting donald trump's son in a whole lot of hot water. our own ari muller is on fortunate with us. what's your take here? >> my take is this is a very significant plea. this is a russia-related plea, as we all know, there are parts of this investigation with paul manafort and others that do not relate to russia or those underlying claims, this does. this is mike flynn admitting he lied to the fbi about his direct contact with the russian ambassador regarding sanctions. this is a big deal. >> midwin, to you, a plea deal means what? >> it means sally yates was right. right? it means it's time we start listening to women. i think this is interesting that, you know, we are now at a
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moment where a lot of people are right now sort of being proven to be correct. and i agree with ari, this is incredibly significant. and it also indicates that mueller is, as he said, going up the food chain. you have at this point been debunked, this claim by trump and his sort of team that the people around him had nothing to do with russia and here you have michael flynn who lied under oath in front of the -- you know, in front of the fbi. this is significant. this really is significant. >> give me the mechanics of it. he shows up at 10:30. what does a plea deal mean? >> well what this means in broad strokes is that they had enough information or evidence to get mike flynn to this place. so this means the fbi either could prove or have a lot of evidence to prove that mike
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flynn did talk to the russian ambassador about lifting sanctions, that mike flynn did talk about u.n. and other diplomacy on behalf of russia, and that mike flynn did lie to the fbi about it. so that's what we know they've gotten to because of the plea. what we don't know but what is implied is that there is more than this. as your other guests were alluding to. that there is other stuff that mike flynn is not clinging to today, but that he would presumably be getting off on or have a good reason to avoid. you don't plea to everything typically. you plea to something and then were given leniency on something else. so the legalities of the rest of today won't answer all those questions. as everyone knows who watches the news, the bob mueller investigation has rarely ever leaked anything. we only find out things when people plea or there are court proceedings. so we won't learn affirmatively
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through those proceedings what mike flynn isn't clinging to. but we can infer there is more and there is, i would say, implied cooperation. >> all right, i want to stay on this. the voice i can hear in my head is mike flynn leading those lock her up chants. the irony, mike flynn himself, he was the one up there, lock her up. standing for a judge today. >> nbc news investigative team has been on this story from the beginning. tom, you've been following this for months. what's your take? >> first off, he's charged with a single count of, in justice department-speak, they say 1,001. 18 usc 1,001. just means he lied in the course of a federal investigation. when you speak with the fbi or any other federal agent, you do not have to be under oath.
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if you say something that you know to be wrong or they say that you know to be wrong, at that point, you can be -- you can be charged with a crime. and so in this case there were several occasions in december of 2016 and conversations with the russia ambassador that according to the court paperwork, they say that michael flynn will plead guilty to today. that's one single count of lying on several occasions to federal investigat investigators. so right now, you know, this is something that is looking at this from a bigger picture i would say and from a longer view, this is something that is typically done when they have somebody who can -- when they have somebody who can perhaps offer a lot of information to investigation. you plead them to a lesser account, the penalties particularly since this is not a
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violent crime case. the potential penalties for michael flynn are pretty limited in this case, so it appears that his level of cooperation, and this is just based on all the other cases that i've covered and this is just based on other investigations, so i want to be clear on this. it would seem to indicate to me that his level of cooperation is fairly significant. but there's only to be a single count of lying in the course of a federal investigation. so we know from the criminal information that michael flynn will say that he made false statements as it related to conversations he had with the russian ambassador, as it relates to russian sanctions. that's a pretty significant development. can confirm some of the reporting we have done and others have done as far as michael flynn's contacts with the russian ambassador. it goes back to his original
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firing. what we don't see in here is some of the work myself and my colleagues have been doing which is other actions that have likely got the attention of the justice department and office of special counsel robert mueller in that, you know, efforts to work with turkey, to get somebody out of the country that they've been kes pradesperatelyg for. and some of the other actions that he may have taken in the course of the campaign leading up to coming into the white house and as the national security adviser. so we don't have a lot of clarity to that. the main thing we know is this is a pretty significant development this morning. it was not -- we suggested and we reported that the office of special counsel have enough information to move forward with charges against michael flynn. this is kind of a bit of a surprise development this morning and something that hit
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our e-mail boxes. >> i'm so glad robert costa is here, political reporter for "the washington post." i'm going to guess right now you are tearing up the script for tonight's washington week. because things just got very different. i remember the night it was announced mike flynn was leaving. that afternoon, kellyanne conway went on tv. then suddenly he wasn't. president trump has never really said anything bad against mike flynn. he blamed mike flynn leaving on a whole thing from the media. >> one tell when something's really big news is when your phone lights up with text messages that are unsolicited. in the last ten minutes, that's exactly what happened as i waited to chat with you. >> why don't you read those texts for us, bob? >> some of them are off the
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record. however, to summarize the feeling around the republican party and around this white house, they are troubled, to say least, about this development, because they know general flynn was so close to president trump as a confident during the campaign and inside the white house. >> who do we think is troubled? don jr. is troubled? don jr., up until a few days ago, is saying come at me, i got nothing. mike flynn's son has continued to be aggressive. i mean, just last week, i think it was thanksgiving day, on twitter, mike flynn jr. put out a tweet, calm down, everyone, nothing to see here. i'm guessing his dad isn't that calm today. >> there's a network of people around president trump who were involved in different capacities working with general flynn when it came to having contact with foreign officials or foreign business figures. anyone who was part of that process with general flynn, who
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may have had his own agenda, his allies say at times with his own projects. if you were part of the discussion, the meeting, the infrastructure of the trump operation, meeting with people from foreign countries, they do feel trouble today. because now he has a plea deal to talk it seems. that's the assumption many people are making inside the white house and the republican party. that now he's cooperating. >> all right, bob, don't go anywhere. i want to bring in someone else who i'm guessing their phone is lighting up as well this morning. he's on his way to the courthouse. ken delaney. ken, what's your take here? >> even though we knew this was coming and we've been reporting that it was coming, it's still a remarkable and dramatic development. to see that in black and white. the former national security adviser. longtime general, senior military official, revered intelligence officer, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with an
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investigation into whether the trump campaign colluded with a foreign power to subvert our democracy. and bob's absolutely right, the white house must be incredibly rattled by this. this is not paul manafort who as important as he was, was jettisoned from the campaign will before trump took the white house. this is a man who is in every important meeting during the campaign and then every important meeting for the first three weeks of the administration and one of the biggest questions bob mueller is going to demand from an answer from mike flynn is did donald trump know he was reaching out to the russian ambassador and discussing sanctions, the thing he's accused of lying about? that's going to be a huge question that i'm certain robert mueller would not reach a deal unless he was assured of a truthful answer to. >> so we need to make this clear. retired lieutenant general michael flynn today will be pleading guilty to making false statements to the fbi.
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you don't make a plea deal like that for nothing. there's a big difference between paul manafort and mike flynn. as influential as paul manafort can be, we remember what sean spicer did just a few months ago. well, he called paul manafort a volunteer on the campaign for a short time. which obviously was a lie. you cannot minimize what general flynn's role was. he was the chosen national security adviser. he chose k.t. mcfarlen to be beside him. we also need to remember it was jared and ivanka that helped mike flynn secure getting this nas title. >> right, and remember when president trump was leaning on fbi director comey, he wasn't saying go easy on paul manafort, he was saying go easy on mike flynn because he knows how much flynn knows. this is, to me, every single thing that trump does reveals
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guilty knowledge. he understands that he is in deep, deep trouble. just last night, before this story broke, we had "the new york times" breaking the story about how trump has been trying to lean on the house and senate intelligence committees in order to get them to end their probe of the russia connection. we know he's also leaned on attorney general sessions. we know he's defamed robert mueller. he has leaned on other chiefs of other intelligence agencies. this is not how an innocent man act, stephanie. i think he feels that the lawmen are closing in on him. mueller and his untouchables are closing in on him. he has good reason to think that. based on developments like this. >> but we don't know. we still don't have -- we have to make it very clear, a direct line to president trump. we know -- >> we're getting closing. we're getting very close. >> but we know vladimir putin and the trump campaign could have had the same goals but we do not yet know. there is not a direct line we can truly point to. but the likelihood -- >> the collusion has been there. the only question is what was
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the involvement of the president. we know the collusion was there with donald trump jr. we know the collusion was there with flynn. it's just the question of what did the president know and when did he know it. >> to you, midwin, i don't know the law, it's a single count of making a false statement to the fib. >> a single count. i think that the callers that called in and talkeded to you about this i think did a very good job of explaining exactly what that means. you are talking about general flynn who was a revered person who is already going to today stand in court and go through a process called allocution where the judge will ask him and say are you sure this is -- you're pleading guilty to this. has anybody coerced you to pleading the goplead ing guilty to this. he's going to answer yes, i lied to the fbi. and this is incredibly significant. i can't even begin to tell you because what it means is -- and i think we saw this coming down the pike. remember a few days ago there
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was a talk that his legal team was no longer speaking -- >> last thursday we learned that. >> exactly. so that's indicative of someone as you know is out for self. no longer a joint defense agreement which is what attorneys usually have together from one team and another, is no longer the case. you're no longer going to share confidential information so this is huge. >> hans nichols join us. no statement yet from the white house. what can you tell us? >> i was outside. i'm now inside. coming in, i checked to see if the president was in the oval office yet. he does not appear to be in the west wing. this is the first time that we have someone pleading guilty that worked in the white house. and the significance of that cannot be underestimated. remember, this stems from that december 29th meeting that he had, michael flynn had with ambassador kislyak. as reported about two weeks later by "the washington post." the issue is was michael flynn
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honest with the fbi. today we have the answer and that is no, he's pleading guilty to making misstatements to the fbi that brings the mueller investigation squarely inside the white house during the presiden presidency, during president donald trump's presidency and this marks a new chapter. here's what we don't know. we don't know to what extent and how much there was cooperation between flynn's legal team and the president's legal team prior to the cessation breaking off those conversations about a week ago. we also know according to nbc news that robert mueller's team for some time now and we reported this about a month ago, for some time has had enough information to indict flynn. they appear to have quite a bit of information. they were also we know according to people familiar with the matter looking into flynn's relationship with his turkish business partners and what role he played in trying to have some sort of deal lobbying for the turks, potentially trying to expedite the extradition of
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gulin. there's a lot of moving parts here. this is just one piece. just one count he's pleading guilty to. we know the fbi was looking into another. the things we need to look out today is what sort of statement, what sort of distance if any at all the president puts out about the 24 days that michael flynn worked here as national security adviser. and then any indication -- i suspect our team at the justice department will work on this. any indication there is, indeed, full-on cooperation between mike flynn and robert mueller's investigation, stephanie. >> robert costa, we haven't heard from the president yet. you know him better than any of the rest of us here. how is president trump going to take this? will he try to double down on his efforts to get bob mueller out of the picture? when we do see the president overreach a situation like james comey, it sort of backfires on him. >> this is going to be a major test for president trump because remember for the last few months he has been advised by his attorney such as ty cobb that
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this investigation will likely be wrapping up, that white house officials will maybe finish their interviews in the next few weeks, if not months, and they had a confident aura inside the white house when lawyers were talking to the president. now someone he was so close to is under the national and legal spotlight. and this is going to test his response. can he continue to have this step back when it comes to the special counsel and let ty cobb and others handle dealing with that investigation. or will he try to be a disrupter and polite size it as he's been vi advised not to do. >> how do you politicize this? flynn is going to plead guilty to a single count of making a false statements. given your involvement, you knew something was coming. is this plea something you were expecting? >> here's the thing, as hans
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nichols just alluded to, there's a lot more we believe robert mueller has on flynn. in terms of his relationship with the government of turkey, his failure to disclose lobbying on behalf of turkey. a potential arrangement where he was allegedly going to be paid a large sum of money, maybe as much as $50 million, to facilitate the extradition of a turkish dissident in the united states. so when you see this single charge, that's generally -- what that means is that's the one they decided that he would admit to. and whatever else -- whatever other criminal conduct they believe he's committed, they're holding in abeyance right now, in leverage over -- >> it doesn't mean they don't have other information, it means this is the only thing he's prepared to at this point to cop to. i want to bring in the one and only chris matthews, host of "hard ball." chris matthews, you woke up to some big news. what do you think?
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>> i think this is the progression we all saw coming, which has come, a day of judgment for the president, because the fact that the general has taken this decision, that he's willing to take one count for not giving a factual statement to the fbi is probably the minimal charge they could have made against him which would suggest a deal and that he's going to get off lightly. his son will probably get off lightly in exchange for testimony which is helpful to the prosecution of mueller, by mueller. i think this is what we're watching take place, we're working our way up the flag pole to the top. >> so i want you to dig into that a little bit more. because that's what's interesting. you think it sounds like pleading to just one single count means he's giving the government a whole heck of a lot? >> you said it better than i did. i think the whole operation here, the turkish accounts, the foreign agents registration account, all these failures to
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comply with the law normally would be perhaps treated as misdemeanors in some cases but in this case, every time something happen, it's either throw the book at the guy or let him off as he plays ball. this certainly has the earmarks of -- let them off lightly if he plays ball. one count of not giving an accurate statement to an fbi agent, that's probably the minimal charge they could have given to general flynn. everyone's watching him because he's watching his son and thinking i'm not bringing my son down with me, and mueller's got one goal. that is to prosecute the collusion if it occurred between the trump administration and the campaign and the russians. that's his goal. or to that, any kind of obstruction to prevent the prosecution of that case, the investigation of that case. so we know the direction he's going. mueller didn't take this incredible challenge without a clear direction in mind. his clear direction is prosecution. by the way, i've never met a
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special counsel that did not intend to prosecute. that's what they do. they're assigned to a particular target and they target it. in this case, i believe it's the president. >> i just want to bring pete williams in. he joins us now. our justice correspondent in d.c. when we think about mike flynn and politics, he stood by president trump from the beginning. he was a trump for life. but seeing that he's taken a deal here, it almost seems like we've gone from politics. we know how much he's in the corner of the president, and he's moved to survival. >> well, nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of prison time. this is a serious charge. lying to the federal investigators as a -- it's a felony. has a maximum five-year penalty. i can't imagine -- i mean, there's a real question here about whether he's actually do any prison time. this is clear lay deal. this is basically the least that
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the prosecutors could have brought against michael flynn. he faced legal exposure on a number of other things you've been talking about with hans and others this morning. so this is the sort of -- the minimum, the very least, if he was going to be prosecuted, that he could be prosecuted for anything at all. so it's basically saying that he twice -- or that he lies to the fbi about two separate conversations before the inauguration. after the election. in late december, when the obama administration imposed sanctions on russia, he denied twice the fbi says falsely, that he talked to the russian ambassador about this, about russia muting its response to this. obviously to try to have a rosier relationships or not have more bitter relationships between the united states and russia at the very moment that donald trump was preparing to take office. it's a plea agreement. it's called an information. that indicates there's a deal here. so the question is, what did he
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get in return for agreeing to plead guilty? you can be sure that he had good lawyering and that he had something in return and that something presumably is the mueller prosecutors deciding not to bring more serious charges and it also signals potentially he's agreed to cooperate and answer any questions they may have. >> i want to bring lawrence o'donnell in, the host of "hala word" on msnbc. you were with us yesterday, talking about politics in 1968, the year everything went off script. here we are, december 1st, 2017, there's no script for this. how many times have we said this is the worst day of the trump presidency, the worst day in the trump white house. and here we are again with yet a worse day. and this -- what's so striking about this is this is the
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charge. we always knew there were going to be charges against michael flynn. his crossing of the legal lines was so obvious, right from the start. but this one is absolutely stunning. because this was not -- this was not in what we knew about, which was the failing to disclose certain things on forms that we could all then see that he should have disclosed and things that he did. this is lying to the fbi. this is the most elementary possible mistake you can make as a citizen or certainly as someone in government. and this shows you just what president obama was talking about when he was warning donald trump during the transition. there's one person who you absolutely must not hire. you must not hire michael flynn. look at how dangerous this man is. he lied to the fbi. there is not an intern in washington who does not know that lying to the fbi is a
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crime. michael flynn thought he could lie to the fbi and get away with it. it is a stunning look into just how unprofessional michael flynn is and was when he was in service to candidate trump and then oh so briefly president trump. this is a charge you just can't believe someone could still get tripped up in. >> it's important to detail that a bit more. president obama warning the trump administration about mike flynn. i can remember just a few months ago the trump white house trying to lay blame on not doing proper vetting on mike flynn, saying it wasn't our job to vet him, obama did that. so walk us through again, because i don't want that to get passed over, what obama did and what he told president trump. because the white house tries to turn and say don't blame us, we got him from obama. that's certainly not the truth.
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>> so everyone remembers an image that i think we're probably going to see a lot of today in the coverage. and that is that historic moment where president-elect trump comes into the oval office and he's sitting there with president obama. and all we knew about it that day was the photograph, that's all we knew. much later it emerged that president obama, in what turned out to be a much longer conversation than anyone expected them to have, which donald trump at the time said was the most important conversation he had yet had about the presidency. one of -- the only personnel matter that was discussed. because you have to remember it's extremely unusual for them to discuss personnel. you're not going to make recommendations to the incoming president of the opposing party about who they should have in their administration. they're going to have their own people, all of your people are going out. that's the way it works. but here was this rare moment,
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where the sitting president had one word of advise about one person, which was do not hire michael flynn, do not allow him to be your national security adviser. and he surely presented something in the factual way to donald trump. we don't know the details of the actual facts that he presented to them. but president obama surely would have not just made it as an argument to his point and just used some adjectives about michael flynn, he would have used facts known to the president about michael flynn. and to -- to remember that moment today is really, really important. because donald trump heard all of that. he heard all of that. he decided to go forward with michael flynn. and has to this day never dared to breathe a negative word about michael flynn. >> that is true. michael flynn -- >> -- speculated that's because
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he's known this day was coming. that michael flynn will be in a position to make a deal with the prosecutor to tell a story that donald trump does not want him to tell. >> the three people president trump has never said a word against. ivanka, mike flynn and vladimir putin. chris matthews, i want to go to scranton, pennsylvania with you. you went to scranton. you sat down with voters. i want to talk about what they care about today. because as lawrence just said this is the darkest day in the trump administration. yesterday, axios said it was the darkest day in the trump administration because president trump retweeted those anti-islamic videos, some of which were fake. but there's a lot of people out there that would say yesterday was a winning day. we got one step closer to getting the tax cuts through. today is an even bigger winning day if the fact they got ron johnson's vote this morning and they're getting closer to tax reform. so do the american people look at today as big of a deal as you
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and i do? >> well, clearly, let me -- that's a big question, stephanie. i think there's always going to be a division, the hard-liners, somewhat around 30% of the country. he almost could walk down fifth avenue, as he said, shoot somebody and they'd be sticking with him. of course the people that decide election, between 30% and 45%, i don't think would. i just want to hit on something. you're starting to question, how are people going to buy this, because even though there's a very small portion of it that goes to regular people, they'll get something. that's how people survive, they get paycheck to paycheck. if they get some kind of break, they'll be okay. that's the republican scheme really. if you cut everybody something, they don't really aggrieve over how much more money, the richer, are getting. about flynn, lawrence is very good at this of course in what he just said. that is, in all politic, you
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establish longtime relations and you trust each other and you're loyal. when i went to work for tip o'neill, you had -- i was one of the few people in the office who didn't go back two generations with him. he likes to know your parents. they liked to have this real loyalty thing. maybe it's irish but maybe it's political. and you never rat out the boss. you go to jail. would not give any evidence against barry, he was threatened with federal big-time prison, long-term maximum security stuff, he never talked. that kind of political loyalty is unknown to donald trump or the word around him. he's into speed dating. he comes up with people like flynn a couple months he knows them. hey, a couple months is not enough to build a bond. it comes down to a choice between michael flynn and his son and himself against donald trump, a guy who's picked him up like a day laborer. he's not going to be loyal to the president. so we're seeing now the sort of
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trump world where nobody has real bonds, real loyalties, real legacies. and therefore this stuff is probably going to continue, the success of this prosecutor, to find people who will find their own interest being much more powerful to them than donald trump's. this is sort of the new politics. it's not working for trump. >> i want to bring in former assistant special watergate prosecutor. msnbc contributor. we're expecting mike flynn today is going to plea to lying to the fbi. help me understand, does that mean lying under oath? when you're talking to the fbi, what is that considered? is it assumed you're telling the truth? do you have to -- how does it work? >> simply lying in response to the questions you're asked is a federal felony. doesn't even make a difference if the fbi tells you it's a federal felony. but lying to the fbi is a five-year federal felony. >> you can be charged, whether
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or not you -- i compare to when we're watching jeff sessions, when we talk about don jr. meeting senate staffers versus sitting before special counsels. if you're talk to the you are i. and people go away for five years for doing precisely that. so what mueller has done is taken a violation against many, as i'm sure he's done with flynn, and gotten flynn to cooperate and plead guilty. >> pleading to one thing though? >> yeah. but exposure to five years. up to the sentencing judge how much time he's going to get. but the incentive on flynn's part is to sing as loud and as clear and as long as he can. because the better his song, the better his testimony, the more likely it is that judge will give him less time. >> where does a pardon fall into
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all this? >> well, it's possible that donald trump could try to pardon him. but i think that there would be a legal challenge to any pardon in this situation where there is a direct conflict of interest between the president of the united states. under article iii, i think it's section iii, he has to carry out the laws of the united states in good faith. i would interpret that to mean you can't do it with a conflict of interest. mr. flynn is going to be signaling out donald trump or any members of his family, i would argue this mr. trump is not in a position to pardon those people, since he couldn't be possibly executing the laws of the united states in good faith. >> okay. but nick ackerman is being rational. and we are not living in rational times. right now on the left on everyone's scream yen you are
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looking at the courthouse, reporters lining up outside. couldn't pardon michael flynn but welcome to 2017 the white house smiles and laughs when you bring up conflict of interest. >> well, this president would absolutely, and i think what nick has identified is a fascinating legal theory of limitation on the presidential pardon power. it's untested so we have no case law on that particular thing. and it might not be legally possible to get case law for the following reason. this president would have no inhibition of pardoning. you have to remember the thing that inhibits presidents and politicians the most is the need to be re-elected and positively pure su perceived by voters. donald trump does not care about that. he is negatively perceived by 60% of the country and doesn't
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care. and wouldn't care. >> i don't know. >> he would pardon flynn in a second if he thought that's what he wanted to do. then the legal challenge becomes how do you challenge that legally. and it may be that the only way to challenge it legally would be to bring an impeachment action against the president for having issued that pardon. president would argue it's within my constitutional power to issue a pardon. and so the case would be on. >> okay. we have gone inside the white house. we are looking at it from the view of a former assistant prosecutor. max boot, how about the view from the republican party, how the gop leadership absorb this news? who he doesn't actually like? >> well, as we have seen, stephanie for more than a world, the republican party is a profile in cowardness. so i'm sure every single
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republican will be running away as quickly as possible from microphones to comment about this or how it's up to bob mueller. but they are really shirking their responsibilities under the laws. because they have an obligation to ensure that the laws of the united states are being upheld. and it is clear there is growing evidence of a criminal conspiracy involving the president senior aids and quite possibly involving the president himself. and as we are talking about raises the prospect of pardon for michael flynn and donald trump will try to fire bob mueller. and no way in good conscious that any republican legislature can possibly avoid these issues. they have to make clear right now that they will go to the mat. that if trump attempts to impede this investigation, more than he's already done, i think the evidence is overwhelming he's committed obstruction of justice, but if he continues, republicans have to pmake clear
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they will do their duty under the constitution to impeach the president if he tam percent with the course of justice. but that's not what they are doing. they are trying to stay out of the line of fire and talk about tax cuts or claim this doesn't matter. but i this i this does matter. and this actually matters a lot more than tax cuts or anything else. because this goes to who we are as country, who we are as republic. we are a nation of laws. and we cannot allow the president to undermine the rule of law. and that is the very real danger that we face here. >> all right. chris matthews, we know lots of members of the republican party can distance themselves from president trump. they weren't with him on the campaign trail. they don't know michael flynn. i haven't seen yet, maybe my twitter is slow to update, i haven't seen any head line out of breitbart news, and clearly the mega phone, mouth speas for steve bannon. how is the right going to take this, true trumpers, steve bannon universe? >> i think they'll go after the
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special prosecutor and suggest that this is over prosecution. that he is out to get the president. and that they are using superior efforts to get him. they are just targeting him t and i think they'll basically circle the wagons. but the nationalist cause basically doesn'tal lowell for interference in terms of facts or issues. or behavior. it all comes down to one simple question. are you for this country, the old republic, if you will, use bannon's term, or against it. if you are on the side of immigration or any side of diversity or multinational, any kind of multi lateral foreign policy, anything that suggests that negotiate with other countries to work with them, to work with europe, to wrk with the chinese, anything that takes us away from that basic us against the world mentality. so something like this, this whole discussion of the
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prosecution of the president is almost trivial to them. oh, this isn't that important. what's important is trump is right. his enemies are wrong. and his enemies now include certainly the special prosecutor. so they are going to circle the wagons, steve knephanie, this i for him. our president, trump, right or wrong, they put him in the office, right or wrong, they put them in the office and they are going to keep him there. >> do you agree with that? you can put bob mueller on the side, the michael flynn will plead to lying to the fbi. wouldn't that old guard nationalist i love america, red, white and blue, wouldn't they say you lied to the fbi you are out? >> i absolutely agree with chris tease assessment there. i was conducting focus groups in wisconsin and nevada the week of paul manafort and rick gates in
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indictments. and the strong trump supporters adamantly claim it's a witch hunt. they didn't care about the actual charges presented. they didn't know very much because information is coming through silos of news that aren't coming to, about the russian investigation, the news sources of the trump base are not really covering this the way that msnbc, cnn, nbc, other news outlets, so seen as a witch hunt and that is the prevalent view and they will dig in anymore. >> then lawrence o'donnell, you can take it out of the equation and go to the court documents. after 10:30 a.m. today when the country can read the court documents where michael flynn will plea to lying to the fbi, doesn't that pose any challenge for president trump's base, even
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evangelical base, who shay's this has been a winning year, how do they look at a court document with the person appointed to be the national security adviser and still say everything is hunky-dory no big deal? >> what re this going to learn today is the tip of the ice berg about what michael flynn is going to testify to. and let's just remember, michael flynn is going to be under tote and he is going to be under oath publicly at some point. certainly when the special prosecutor is finished with him, michael flynn will be under oath to the congressional committees, whenever that is. and even if donald trump pardons michael flynn today, michael flynn will be under oath. and so let's just recall, if the president wants to pardon michael flynn today, the special prosecutor already knows everything he needs to know about flynn, when he puts michael flynn the pardoned michael flynn under oath,
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michael flynn then risks committing a crime again if he does not tell the truth under oath. and so the pardon here, if the president were to try to issue it, cannot protect the president against the most damaging mom moments going to come from flynn that's when he testifies under oath. >> lawrence, thank you. this has been a powerful hour. if you are still there, and thank you for watching, i'd advise you don't turn the tv off. there is a lot to hear. that wraps us up for this hour. my colleague hallie jackson is in d.c. nation's capital where it is all happening today. welcome home. >> i know. >> yesterday they were waiting for you to get back. >> don't go anywhere because there is going to be a lot developing today. so let's reset and remember where we are right now. for the first time former member of the donald trump administration, former top


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