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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  February 12, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

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they may run out of new people to bring in at a certain point. time will tell. seems like it will get more difficult. >> thanks. that is "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. >> thank you. much appreciated. thank you for joining us this hour. happy monday. imagine you are national security advisor to the president of the united states. the idea is stressful. you run the whole gigantic security counsel and meet with the president every day, sometimes pumultiple times a da. your job is to make sure the president has everything he or she needs to make the best decisions possible on all sorts of national security matters includingsensitive ones there are. you're in charge of a lot of different streams of information. you're in a really powerful, really stressful job already and
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then the 2016 presidential election happens. our best alibis we have a trusting, collaborative relati n relationsh relationship, our intelligence allies start reporting to us over a period of months a whole bunch of different instances of people associated with one of the presidential campaigning having contacts with russians, with russian officials, with people linked to russian president vladimir putin. at the same time, you have access to american intelligence intercepts of russian officials talking with each other about their contacts with that presidential campaign. at the same time, the u.s. intelligence community starts to come to the conclusion that beyond our usual spy versus spy stuff with russia, russia does appear to be interfering in our election in ade deliberate organized way and trying to hurt the opposing campaign.
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so imagine you're the national security advisor while this is happening. you know all of this is happening. you have access to this intel. the election ends. the side russia was trying to help, how do you responsibly prepare to help that campaign transition itself from a presidential campaign to the next presidential administration? how do you as national security advisor think responsibly about how you're going to help them take custody of the nation's most sensitive intelligence including intelligence on this matter about how they maybe got to the white house in the first place. i mean, the president decided, the out going president, president obama decided after the 2016 election that the u.s. government had to take action against russia, had to punish russia for the way they interfered in our election
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including hacking into state voting databases and the rest of it. the obama administration decide they would kick out several dozen russians working here for the russian government and seize russian diplomatic compounds that the u.s. government believed were being used by intelligence purposes and as they were contemplating these actions against russia for what they had done with this interference into the election, it seems clear that the obama administration thought they know what to expect from russia when they punished russia in this matter but also seems clear they really didn't know what to expect from the incoming administration that had just won this election. so totally unprecedented situation. they have to decide what's best for national security and what's best for the country and how to handle this responsibly. on this issue of sanction, the punishment for what russia did on the election, they would go
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ahead with the sanctions with that shove back against russia but do so without giving a heads up to the trump folks, without giving the incoming trump administration folks a heads up they would do it. president elect trump and his team learned about that, those actions toward russia, those new sanctions against russia, the same time everyone else did when announced in public. the way russia learned about those sanctions is that their ambassador at the u.s. got summoned to the u.s. state department and at the state department they told him, this is what the obama administration is doing. he was enraged by that summons and what they told him. the white house had to expect that, decades and decades of spy versus spy conflict with russia during the cold war and after. we know how this works. when we shove them or sanction them or do something to punish them, we can expect response.
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including if they do that, they can respeexpect response from u. it's been that way since before i was born. they took that shove in russia in december. they are expecting they know he is mad. the obama administration announced on december 29th, on december 30th putin said there is no response from russia. we're disappointed but not going to do anything in response. that is out of keeping what happened with the united states and russia, not just recently but forever. that is not what the obama administration was hoping to happen. they have to figure out why did that go down that way? what explains that unusual unprecedented response from putin to what we did? if you're the national security advisor to the president of the
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united states, the out going president of the united states in this case, you don't have to just wonder. you can actually find out what happened there because you have access to all of these streams of intelligence and it turns out, yeah, the fbi had been listening in when ambassador kislyak was told russia is losing their compounds including the super cute one that he really liked in maryland and having to shut down the mansion they like in san francisco, three dozen russians and their families are being sent home with no warning, get out immediately. the fbi was listening in when he made a call after he came out of the state department meeting. what he did after he got that news on december 29th. he walked out and boop, boop, boop, called mike flynn on vacation with his wife in the dominican republic on a beach. fbi was listening to his
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conversation. mike flynn, the incoming national securitiedy advisor to kislyak what happened. we'll talk care of the problems. that was his message to kislyak so we're told. if you're the national security advisor to president obama, how do you deal with this information? this is the transition, which means you're supposed to be transitioning the new guys in. you're counter part for the incoming administration is actively working to undermine the intent and effect of u.s. government sanctions against russia through secret communications with the russian government that he is not coordinating with the u.s. government or state department and he's not disclosing them to anybody. flynn and the white house would go on to deny that these conversations ever happened or that these were the topics flynn and kislyak ever discussed. at this point, you are supposed
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to be briefing the guy who gets your job. the new guy whose coming in for your job. you're supposed to be making sure there is a seamless transition and the new guy is totally up to speed. well, given what susan rice knew about michael flynn during the transition, what is she supposed to do? how is she supposed to make a decision? hypothetical hypothetically. let's say u.s. intelligence got spies working for us inside the embassies in washington, would you give mike flynn the names of those spies? they are working at the embassy who is working for the one he engages in secret conversations about undermining the u.s. government. give him the name of our spies? if there is a spy in his office? will you tell flynn? this all happened christmastime
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over the new year, into early january, right? after the election. so late 2016, early 2017. on january 2nd, right after the new year, that's when they reportedly got the transcripts of flynn's calls with kislyak. that call happened on the 29th. we know as of january 2nd, they had the transcripts of the call and knew what flynn was talking about with the russians. they get the transcripts january 22nd. on january 3rd, it was reported there would be an intelligence briefing for the incoming president about russia having attacked the election. this got a lot of attention and was anticipated as a big stand off between trump and the intelligence community because he was routinely dismissing the idea russia had done anything to effect the election. he was going after the intelligence community and attacking them for them saying that russia had done anything to influence our election. he said those claims were not true. well, in the white house, in the
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ocho bobama white house in the p to the briefing, they are figuring out what they will say to trump and his team, what they will say to trump himself and national security team and advisor, we have since learned that was a very intense time in the obama white house trying to handle this unprecedented situation. quote, on january 5th, fbi director james comey, john bennen and james clapper briefed president obama in a small group of his top white house advisors on the contents of a classified intelligence report showing that russia intervened in the 2016 election to help trump. quote, that's what whien white officials learned the fbi was investing the flynn kislyak calls. the relationship was highlighted. the burro, meaning the fbi made clear that there was an actual investigation underway. an actual investigation of flynn. that was reported last year in the washington post.
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now today we found out what happened right after that briefing. brennan were investigating and say the incoming national security advisor was the subject of an fbi investigation. what happened next? happened immediately thereafter? as of right now we can tell you classification top secret and then you see top secret is struck through because this has gone through a formal declass a declassification process. what this is an e-mail sent by susan rice, president obama's nationed s national security advisor. on january 5th following a briefing on russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election, president obama had a brief follow on conversation
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with comedy and sally yates. vice president and i -- excuse me, vice president biden and i were also present. so obama, comey, sally yates, biden and susan rice in the oval office. they just had their briefing. quote, president obama began the conversation by stressing his continued comment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the intelligence and law enforcement communities by the book. the president stressed he's not asking about initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective and reit hated our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book. from a national security perspective, however, president obama said he wants to be sure that as we engage with the incoming team we're mindful to ascertain if there is any reason we cannot share information fully as it relates to russia and then the whole next paragraph is classified, totally redacted and picks up at the bottom of the page. the president asked comey to inform him if anything changes
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in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. comey said he would. so this was initially cloassifid as top secret and has been declassified and released to the public tonight. chuck grassly and lindsey graham have written a letter to the national security advisor susan rice about this declassified e-mail they obtained in the senate. in their letter to susan rice, they quote this e-mail back to her in full and then they say this, quote, it strikes us as odd that among your activities in the final moments and the final day of the obama administration you would feel the need to send yourself such an unusual e-mail. they then send a list of a dozen questions they want to ask her about this newly declassified e-mail. by releasing this today, the senators have given us an
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extraordinary window into what the obama administration was grappling with. knowing russia intervened to help trump win the election and the incoming trump national security team were lying about their contacts with russia and knowing there was an active fbi investigation because of the contacts with russia, president obama in that moment according to this new e-mail, president obama in that moment went to his national security team:went to the top law enforcement officers and said i'm not going to interfere with anything in terms of law enforcement. do that however you need to do that but from a national security perspective, can you tell us if there is stuff we shouldn't be briefing the incoming trump folks about because we plan to brief them on everything. is there something we should hold back? would you tell us if there was? i think from their letter to susan rice about this tonight
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that senator lindsey graham and senator chuck grassly think this say real got ya. it strikes us as odd. this is unusual. yeah, why wouldn't it be odd? wouldn't be unusual. if you're the national security advisor and your replacement is mike flynn who is the subject of an fbi investigation, obama fired mike flynn. when trump came to the white house, president obama report reportedly warned president elect trump about pre scisely t things, north korea, mike flynn and trump decided to keep mike flynn anyway. if you're in charge of the transition, the part of the transition, the national security advisor part of the transition from yourself to mike flynn, do you hand him all the intel you've got? do you read him in on everything? we got a spy in putin's office, would you tell flynn the name of the person?
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might you memorialize some of the decision-making progrecesse around this time in american history? in december right after the election president obama you'll remember ordered the intelligence community to conduct a full assessment that included and turned upt tons of intelligence reports. "the new york times" last year previously reported on a scramble inside the obama administration in the closing days to preserve the intelligence that had been collected about the trump campaign and russia so it couldn't be covered up or destroyed by the incoming administration. "the washington post" reported last year quote, senior obama administration officials said they felt so uncertain about the nature of the flynn kislyak relationship they scaled back what they told flynn and others. we did decide not to share with them certain things about russia. as late as january 19th.
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obama's last full day in offic,; washington post says there was a debate in the law enforcement and intelligence how much the incoming trump administration could be told about the on going investigations of the russia attack including investigations that touched on them and included one senior member of trump's team. debating that as of january 19th, the day before the inauguration but tonight we know literally as of the next day, as of inauguration day, as trump was being sworn in 12 minutes into his american carnage inaugural address, susan rice hit send on this e-mail to herself and assistant, subject line, note to file. top secret. record. memorializing for the record, memorializing for the future, for us now. that we would know about president obama meeting with the
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top law enforcement in his administration in the closing weeks they were there to try to deal responsibly with this totally unprecedented remarkable situation as president obama tried to separate the law enforcement function from the law enforcement he told them do this by the book. you proceed independently. the president stressed he's not asking about initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it would by the book. from an intelligence and national security perspective, he wanted an organized, well-informed approach as to what these guys could be told as to how much if anything should be held back from these incoming trump folks including the ones under investigation. absolutely fascinating. if you haven't seen this thing that was just declassified tonight, we posted it. you can see it. it is amazing, too, this is
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coming to light while the white house tonight cannot disentangle itself from the questions around the white house staff secretary rob porter. the white house official in charge of every piece of paper including close fassified information. he was fired or resigned last week depending who is asking and when and there are serious questions how the white house gamed the security clearance process from the start to allow this guy access to classified information even after the fbi let the white house know there were serious flags in the background check and told the white house he would never be given a permanent security clearance because of serious domestic violence allegations against him from his ex wives. that continues even tonight with the disastrous white house press briefing today and continued questions about whether this president is about to lose his second white house chief of staff in the form of john kelly with multiple white house officials telling reporters that john kelly has asked them to lie
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publicly about this incident. the john kelly and rob porter scandal is getting more difficult for the white house by the day but we can now say with confidence that absolutely unprecedented controversies about access to classified information are turning out to be the alpha and omega scandals, the day one to 365 scandals of just their first year in office. k at red lobster... with the most lobster dishes of the year. new dueling lobster tails has two tails that'll fight to be your favorite. one topped with creamy shrimp and scallops, the other... steamed with lemon and herbs. and no, you're not dreaming, classics like lobster lover's dream are back too, along with decadent new lobster truffle mac & cheese. but enough talking about lobster- let's get to eating! - because lobsterfest won't last. so dive in today at red lobster! these are the specialists we're proud to call our own. experts from all over the world, working closely
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tuesday night when the initial story came out, white house praises rob porter and wednesday night photos came out. wednesday afternoon, continue to praise rob porter. he said he acted within 40 minutes of knowing the allegations. can you explain that? >> as i've said and i'm going to repeat what i said earlier that we learned of this situation involving rob porter last tuesday evening and within 24 hours his resignation had been acre acre cemented -- accepted and announced. in terms of timeline, i don't
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have anything else toe add. >> more than a year into this presidency, the white house is struggling to answer not just when they took action over allegations against a top white house staffer, but why because for a year after hearing that he would have trouble getting a security clearance because of domestic violence allegations, they left that staffer in place managing the flow of information across the president's desk. this scandal continues to unfold tonight as a newly declassified obama administration document shows how the out going obama administration struggled up to the last minute with the question how to handle classified information with the new incoming administration while they were the subject of both a criminal and counter intelligence investigation at the fbi. tonight's on going controversy about white house chief of staff john kelly and rob porter shows basically that this is a part of
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the national responsibility of running the federal government, that they can't quite get their hands around at the trump administration and well into year two now it doesn't seem to be getting better. joining us is chris lou, he ran the obama transition in 2008 and became cabinet secretary and now a senior fellow at the miller center. thanks for being with us. nice to see you. >> thank you. >> so one of the things that i have struggled with, not necessarily because i have a cable news show but as an american, over the past years i try to keep my eyes on what counts as normal. i don't want to recalibrate myself as to what is normal for now. i want to stay focused on what counts as normal for our country. what's the normal security clearance process for somebody in a job like white house staff secretary? somebody in a senior job, how is that handled during the transition? >> let me tell you how we did
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it. we planned six months before election day and we submitted about 200 names to be cleared by the fbi. these are 200 people we thought would be in the obama administration. on day one after inauguration day, we had people ready to go and handle classified materials. there is obviously a backlog and there are delays in getting people cleared but remember this, rob porter had one of the most important jobs in the white house and there is a way you front load those security clearances. so, you know, really within a couple months, the senior people had clearances. so what is happening here is not normal. not only the delay getting him cleared but what you seem to have now is people like john kelly, don mcgahn, perhaps joe hagan, the deputy chief of staff who may have gained the system to keep rob porter in place. >> when you say gamed the system, who enforces the system? >> well, the system is ultimately informed by at least in the obama white house, the
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deputy chief of staff that would be joe hagan in congestijunctioh don mcgahn and we know from press accounts that as early as june both of those gentlemen had a sense from the fbi investigation that there were these allegations, which were then substantiated by november. at that point kelly was on board. they almost certainly told kelly about that and i think the real question is whether it's june or november, whether they kept that secret from the president. i find that not credible at this point but even if they did, they still sat on this information for now two to three months without taking action. >> once there was that determination from the fbi, again, what we're told is the fbi flagged these concerns in the background check to the white house early on and then they substantiated them and informed the white house this meant he was unlikely to get cleared for a permanent security clearance. they kept him on in that role for months thereafter. the only thing that spurred them to take action in the case is
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when there were press reports. is there any legal concern about him having access to highly classified information for which he was not cleared with just his interim clearance during that interim before he was finally pushed out? >> well, look, i think those are questions that need to be answered and if this were a normal time with a congress performing oversight, we would take a look whether classified information was mishandled. recall the republican outrage about the mishandling of classified information about secretary clinton but leaving that aside, his interim security clearance should have lapsed at a certain period of time. the fact he kept it meant that somebody proactively kept him in the job and there need to be real questions asked about who made that determination. >> chris lou, thank you for helping us understand this. appreciate you being here. >> thank you. >> lots to come tonight, stay with us. belly fat. the roasted core wrap. 3, 2, 1...
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he can fire an fbi director who won't pledge his loyalty. he can order the deportation of a million immigrant children. he can threaten an unstable dictator armed with nuclear weapons. he can go into a rage and enter the nuclear launch codes. how bad does it have to get before congress does something?
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if it happens eight times in a row, do we get to say it's a pattern? is this still a coincidence after eight straight times? first time it happened was just a few days after president trump was first sworn in. reports started to circulate, source to the kremlin that the new president would be having a phone call with russian president vladimir putin. the kremlin spokesperson told reporters they were working with washington to nail down a date
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but the call would happen soon. the call happened on january 28th, the first time we heard that was going to happen was from the kremlin. that was the first time. the first week. then it happened again. this time it wasn't a phone call, it was in person. it was in the spring right after president trump fired fbi director james comey, russia's state news agency tweeted out this picture of donald trump and russia's foreign minister shaking hands in the oval office. foreign minister brought along the russian am basketball tobas. u.s. journalists were kept out. the meeting was not on the president's official schedule. when it happened. the press was taken by surprise when russian state media rt stast -- started uploading photos. he took the meeting because putin asked him to. he said yes. we had to learn about it from russia. that was the second time. third time was in november.
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there was a flurry of reporting again all sourced to the kremlin about how trump was going to meet putin at the asia pacific summit. the white house initially denied those reports, said they wouldn't meet but then they met just like the kremlin said they would. met a bunch of times, actually online on that summit. that was mid november. by the end of november, happened again. russian news agency reported that president trump and vladimir putin was set to a hold a call. nothing from the white house but then in fact the call happened. that was the fourth time we learned about the actions of the american president from the kremlin. fifth time was on december 14th, another russian news agency tweeted out a photo announcing that putin had taken yet another call with donald trump. thanks for the heads up kremlin. we wouldn't have known about it otherwise. the sixth time was literally three days later, december 17th. russian state run news agency first to report that putin and trump had another heart to heart
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because call a week is not enough. we learned about the calls and meetings from russia. the notification what the president has done when the u.s. president has not been told. seventh time came at the end of last month, end of january. reuters siting that russia's foreign spy chief who i should note is under u.s. sanctions and therefore cannot legally travel to the united states in fact he came to the united states the week before to meet with trump administration officials. we later learned that he did not come alione but we first got th news from russian state media and today it happened again. for an eighth straight time. russian news agency puts out vladimir putin spoke to trump today on the phone. oh, really? glad you guys can let us in on that. the russian report was followed up by a statement from the cl
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kremlin and tweet and blasted it on social media. before the u.s. was notified this was happening let alone before we got a readout from our own government on this. eight times by our count, eight times at least, maybe there is more that i've forgotten. age eight times i can come up with off the top of my head there was a meeting or call between this president and the russian government but we here in the united states had to learn about it from russia. this does not happen with any other country. this does not happen with leaders from any other government anywhere on earth. it's never happened before for an american president having to do with any other country ever but it happens every single time with this one. for the eighth time today. why is that? and if some other country wanted to get in on that sweet, sweet deal, how would you do it? would you need to do?
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of course, it started with news not released by our government that we had to get from russia. it was the kremlin bragging that all three of russia's intelligence chiefs had all come to washington. they did? we have to learn this from you guys? we learned drop the russian government that the head of the torn intforeign intellig office and fsb that used to be the kgb came to the u.s. and reportedly met with the director of national intelligence. we also learned that the head of russia's military intelligence service that is famous in our country for having been the lead russian government agency responsible for attacking the agency in 2016 also came to washington. quote, current and former u.s.
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intelligence officials could not recall so many heads coming to washington at once. what were they doing here? we know that the svr and fsb, we know while they were here, they met with dan coats, guy on the left there and the head of the cia, mike pompey owmo mom -- po >> the military intelligence guy, still a total mystery as to what he was doing in washington. we have no idea who he met with or even where he traveled once he was in the united states. remember, it was his agency that led the attack on our election. no u.s. official admitted to meeting with him while here. who met with him? who brought him over? was he doing here? how long did he stay?
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did he enjoy himself? the head of the rcia, it's a legal mystery as to how he got in at all. he's sanctioned by the u.s. government, he is banned from entering the united states under u.s. law. who let him in? democratic senators first pulled the alarm about this a week and a half ago. chuck schumer wrote to dan coats asking for an explanation two weeks ago. we've been checking in every day to see if there is a response to his questions but still, noth g nothing. that said, tomorrow morning senators will get to ask dan coats, the director of national intelligence and cia director in person about this and other matters. there is going to be an open hearing tomorrow with mike and chris ray and dan coats. the worldwide threats hearing
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before senate intelligence going to happen tomorrow in open session. can i ask a question from the peanut gallery, please? why did you guys all meet with the russian spy chiefs and why did we have to learn about it from russia? in the meantime, in the interest of reestablishing our sense of what is normal, i asked someone to be here tonight to shed light on how unpredprenl unprecedente. mike, nice to see you. >> thanks for having me. hope your question gets asked tomorrow. >> because i said it on tv, i'm sure it won't. i have read based on unnamed former officials it's weird for all three russian intelligence chiefs to be in washington at once, let alone for it to happen under this cloud of secrecy. does it seem strange? >> yes, now intelligence chiefs meet and travel from moscow to
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washington all the time. when i was in moscow, i had visitors like general flynn and bob mueller come in their previous jobs to meet with their counter parts. that's normal. what is abnormal for all three to come to washington when one of them is on the sanctions list. somebody went to a lot of trouble to organize that meeting. we don't know the agenda and substance and like you, i hope somebody will ask hard questions tomorrow about what that was. >> on the specifics, there is this interesting reporting, there is three chiefs that came over and two had meetings with coats and pompaio, one of the agencies that led this attack was reportedly also here and right now, i find it erie that we got bragging from the kremlin, bragging from russia's government he was here but there is no indication from our own government that he met with any u.s. officials, nobody had miado
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the meetings and no description where he traveled when here. the espionage is a concern and the visit is more misserious. >> i couldn't agree more. it's mysterious we don't know the agenda. the gru was part of the russian government that violated our sovereignty in 2016. these are the guys that stole the data from the dnc and had a massive effect on our presidential election. so for them to come and not have any agenda and any readout of what happened with them is very strange and to me, deserves an explanation what is going on with the gru being in the united states of america. >> last question for you, mr. am
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basketba -- ambassador. i might be the on person obsessed with this. >> i am, too. >> i can count eight instances where president trump and president putin had contact and in every instance we first learned about those contacts from the russian government. i don't know if any other government that's treated this way, any other foreign leader that is treated that way, i wonder if you have any understanding why that pattern might be now so solid in terms of the interactions between our president and theirs and why the kremlin and russian government seems to have such glee spreading this information when america media and government isn't allowed to know it. >> it just makes no sense to me. before i was in moscow, i worked three years at the white house at the national security counsel. my job was to set up phone calls and write readouts. everybody knows it's going to be read out from the kremlin so i don't understand the basic mechanics of why the white house
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somehow thinks they can do these calls and not talk about it. i don't know whose at fault there but it makes us look silty. we use the readouts to advocate for policies. we want to defame the way rachel maddow may be talking. for instance, president trump expressed concern for what russia is doing inside ukraine. you can say that inside a statement. putin may not say that part. the fact they don't take advantage and play defense is surprising to me and i just don't think it serves our own interest. >> the matter of the timing where they tell us first, is that something where there is a strategy around that or are we being nice to them by letting them announce it first? >> i can tell you when i was at the white house, we wanted to frame the public discussion of these phone calls first. we always wanted to be out front and we reached out to journalists to talk about them.
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i do not understand what the tactical advantage is to waiting until the kremlin speaks first and we're in the reactivie mode. doesn't make sense. >> thank you for being here. nice to see you. >> thanks for having me. >> it's kind of nice, sometimes i feel alone and somebody says i'm obsessed with it, too. we'll be right back. ok, i'm ready... it...? clearblue digital pregnancy test... ...with smart countdown,
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america. so he's out but he's not the most interesting trump official in the day.
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he's probably not even second place. the best one is next. stay with us. es who never stop wondering what we'll do or where we'll go next. we the people who are better together than we are alone... are unstoppable. welcome to the entirely new expedition.
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everyone has a thing. that binge watch over the weekend thing. that back from the dead or robot-cowboy thing. or maybe it's watching satisfyingly-satisfying things. organic avocado on everything thing. doing it yourself or tagging a friend thing. more checking-in or checking out things. like faaaaaaaaaar out of this world things. far out. more revolutions in the making thing. that play like a girl thing. is it a '4 your eyez only,' thing. more of a 'no role modelz' thing. that triple-double thing. "is he the g.o.a.t.? thing." no, not that goat thing. no no no no no no no more saving the world from the darkness thing. that selfie game strong thing. that four-legged friends thing. oo la la! at&t gives you more for your thing. more entertainment, internet, and unlimited plans. more for your thing. yeah, that's our thing.
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in july in canton, mississippi, there was a traffic arrest that ended up being an embarrassment. the guy got pulled over for a seat belt violation. they pulled him over, no seat belt, police officers said they detected a strong odor of marijuana, it started off as a seat belt ticket and ended up as a dui and drug arrest. the guy who got pulled over wasn't your alleged commuter, he was a police dispatch officer and that is close to home for local law enforcement who made this arrest. so they called in some professional public relations help. took them about a week and a half after the arrest to release information about it. by the time they did, they made sure the guy quit his police job.
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they made a public statement about the charges, released the booking photo to the press and otherwise professionally handled it. well, that arrest ends up not just being embarrassing for those in mississippi, it ends up being a national embarrassment because the pr person they called on to manage that arrest, that guy was also running a $1.7 billi $1.7 billion federal agency in charge of rail safety 23r our country. heath hall was hired to be the number 2 job. he's the same heath hall who during his time in washington has been fielding press inquiries for mississippi about embarrassing dui arrests and stuff. federal rail safety obviously an issue right now, there have been four fatal amtrak crashes since
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september, including one carrying all republican members of congress when it crashed into a dump truck. there hasn't been a confirmed director for the agency for more than a year. that left the deputy running the agency instead, the deputy is this guy heath hall. he once worked as an intern at the rail agency, when he was a kid, other than that he had no expertise in rail safety whatsoever. he's a political consultant and pr guy. that's why he was the public relations guy for canton, mississippi. there's a question how he got the number two job in safety, especially because it meant him being the director of that agency all yearlong when he has no experience in the field whatsoever. even if it did make sense to hire him, once he was in place at the agency he was not suppose today keep his job back home.
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senior government officials are not allowed to have second jobs. lauren gardner has been on this story atpolitico, she reports he's been on this job the whole time, staffers at the railroad agency said they have to field public relations calls for him from mississippi because he's still keeping that going on the side, which is your tax dollars paying federal employees to help his public relations job. when they contacted the transportation department, their response was he's been doing what now? s what is this? this is the quote from the transportation department. quote, we were unaware of the information reported, if those allegations, if they're true, they're troubling. here's the next sentence.
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heath hall has resigned his position at the department effective immediately. happy infrastructure week from the trump administration where the multibillion dollar agency for federal rail safety is being run by a former intern with no experience or expertise in the field whatsoever, who was also running a whole separate business in mississippi which the transportation department said they many had no idea about even though their employees were helping him run that second business on your tax dollars. happy infrastructure week from the trump administration. where the phrase only the best people has become a stomach churning insult. that does it for us tonight now it's time for the "last word with lawrence o'donnell." >> good evening, rachel. that sounds optimistic for infrastructure when you refer to it as infrastructure week. because i have a funny feeling it's infrastructure day


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