tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC February 28, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
went out to have dinner tonight in public and let reporters take their picture enjoying each other's company. that happened tonight in washington just as the president released more criticism against his attorney general. that does it for us tonight. i feel like we haven't even started. see you again tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell."
>> that's right. several more. >> and the reason that photograph was taken is one of the things we're going to be examining in this hour. photographs like that are not innocent coincidences in washington. >> no. and i've never seen noel francisco and rod rosenstein in the same place before so to be with jeff sessions and corner table someone take our picture, i doubt it's a coincidence. >> right in the middle of one of the moments where donald trump is once again attacking his own attorney general. >> a little show of force on the part of the justice department. who knows maybe they do it every wednesday. >> that's what it looks like. thank you, rachel. well, the white liar is out. hope hicks, who told the house intelligence committee that she has told white lies for the president of the united states is leaving her job at the white boyfriend after those
accusations of domestic violence became public. she fought to save her boyfriend's job inside the white house. and because the trump white house is filled with bad judgment, john kelly joined her in that fight to save rob porter's job. a fight they lost. and hope hicks whose job it is to make the white house look good, made the white house look completely out of control and unsympathetic to the two abused wives of rob porter. and that was an accurate description of the white house, they did not care about the ex-wives of rob porter, donald trump, john kelly did not care about the ex-wives of rob porter, and hope hicks helped direct that to the country. no white house director has had a worse episode in the job than that. that came after the lack of
judgment after she got caught publically engaged with n a romantic affair with a married man who had the title campaign manager, corey lewandowski. she got caught by reporters on the streets of manhattan having a quarrel with the married man she was having an affair with. donald trump had the good sense to fire corey lewandowski but never had the good sense to fire hope hicks. part of why hope hicks survived as long as he did as the most incompetent white house director in history, is that most of the white house press corp. fell for her and fell for her in a way they have not fallen for members of the white house press team. here's a moment from the first week of the trump administration. you will not see this kind of moment with sarah huckabee-sanders. in my years of working in government and washington, i
never saw members of the press corp., socially kissing members of the white house press team or other press secretaries across town. she cast a spell on reporters and controlled their access to the president and other players in the white house and controlled access to herself. just yesterday, joshua feld announced he planned to resign. in his book fire and furry michael wolff reports they were working together with president trump when they drafted donald trump jr.'s response to the "new york times" reporting that he had a meeting at trump tower with a group of russians. the special prosecutor has been investigating how that response to the "new york times" was drafted. exactly what the president's input was, exactly what hope hicks's input was. the "new york times" is reporting tonight her resignation came today a day
after she testified for eight hours before the house intelligence committee telling the panel that in her job she had occasionally told white lies but never lied about anything in the investigation into russia's interference in the 2016 election. hope hicks said that she told white lies during her testimony to the committee, according to congressman king, democratic congressman eric swalwell asked her if she was ever told to lie. hope hicks asked to speak with her lawyers. hope hicks went to speak with her lawyers and came back in and said, roughly, i have told white lies and gave the example of saying that the president is out of the office when he's really not or that the president is delayed in traffic or that he can't make a meeting when he doesn't want to go to that meeting. white house officials speaking
on background offered the usual spin in situations like this saying that hope hicks's decision to leave the administration has been in the works for several weeks and had absolutely nothing to do with the russia investigation or her appearance in front of the committee yesterday. there is, of course, no way of knowing right now if that's true. one problem that hope hicks might have with the special prosecutor involves mark corallo who resigned last year, the "new york times" reported he is planning to tell mr. mueller about a previously undisclosed conference call with mr. trump and hope hicks, the white house communications director, according to three people 37 mr. corralo planned to say before the call, the e-mails about the meeting in which the younger trump said he was eager to receive political dirt about hillary clinton by the russias will never get out. that left concerns that ms.
hicks could be obstructing justice. joining us josh miller and barbara mcquad and eugene robertson. and josh, i want to go to you on managing stories like this. i have known of situations in government where someone was actually planning to leave and then some kind of cloudy situation developed involving a hint of scandal of some sort and those people decided to stay a decent interval extending their stay a matter of months if necessary in order to make it clear their leaving had nothing to do with that controversy that had suddenly erupted. when you see this departure today after her testimony
yesterday and -- with the special prosecutor investigating, is it easy for you to believe that this is something that had been long planned and there's nothing sudden about it? >> lawrence, i think it's probably -- it's at least possible, maybe even likely that both things are true. she had been contemplating and thinking about for several months t leaving the white house but after her experience before the committee yesterday and the way her testimony was reported publically that was essentially the straw that broke if camel's back. she reached her breaking point. one of the things about hope that i think is interesting is of all of the characters in -- on planet trump, in many ways i think she's probably -- with the exception of melania and barren, probably the most sympathetic. i give her a little bit of credit. she's the only one that i remember, i can recall,
admitting she lies to cover up the president's faults, even though we know they all do it. she is somebody who has not displayed the unseeming habit of promoting herself publically that so many others in the trump white house seem to do. my own personal experience with her dates back to president-elect trump's visit to the white house two days after the election in november of 2016. she was one of the few staffers to travel with mr. trump to the white house at that time. she met with our staff in the white house to begin planning the transition process and she engaged in that process seriously. so she is somebody who i think did understand -- she's one of the few in the trump administration who i do think understands how important and how special of an opportunity it is to serve in the white house, but i do think it's fair to describe her as somebody who is loyal to a fault.
>> barbara mcquad, she was testifying under oath when she said she told lies for the president. so she was faced with committing a crime in that answer or telling her version of that truth. i want to get your lawyer view of what you're seeing here. if you're representing hope hicks, if you're her lawyer, is this the point or might it even be sooner where you're advising her to quit that job? that it is actually legally dangerous for her to remain in that job? >> there's a lot we don't know. i think his advice to her to answer to that question by admitting to white lives was shrewd, it was truthful and she took the break to consult with him, and he gave her that advice. but she has already met with robert mueller, was she forthcoming to him in answering his questions or as we heard from mark corallo, someone who
tried to conceal one truth by concealing e-mails. so i think it depends how forthcoming she is there. it does strike me she resigns the very day after. josh rafael resigns, it seems a coincidence they're leaving on the very day after her testimony. but without knowing the facts, it's very difficult to know what's going on whether she's been truthful and forthcoming to robert mueller or whether she has conduct of her own she's trying to conceal. >> as a defense lawyer if your client is working in a place where other suspects in an investigation are working, isn't an ideal outcome being that the client gets out of there, assuming the client can quit the job? >> sure. surrounding yourself with others who might have a motive to get their stories straight to conspire to obstruct justice is ideal. if that is happening then getting her out of that situation she can expose herself
to additional critical misconduct is probably a wise strategy. >> eugene robinson, make sense of it all for us. what does it mean in the trump white house? >> i do believe in coincidences, lawrence, but not when informed free will is involved. she knew if she announced her resignation the day after this testimony in which she had acknowledged telling lies for donald trump, that people would put two and two together and by the way, they would also think of the whole rob porter scandal. so -- and there hasn't been a decent interval from that either. so i can't think this is totally coincidence. she could have chosen to stick around for a while longer if she wanted. in fact, she's not planning to leave for several weeks yet she
announced it today for whatever reason. i think this could have a significant impact on the administration. simply because she was, i'm going to use a sort of sexist term from an earlier era but she was donald trump's gal friday, sort of. she was his assistant, believed in him, she understood and tolerated his moods and had license to speak to him at times in a way that others don't. and so that's a kind of key piece of this administration. to the extent that it functions, one has to worry that, you know, she was a cog that allowed it to function even this well. we'll see. you know, it might turn out not to be a huge deal. but i think that would be a concern. >> josh ernst, she is a trump
translator, she seems to get him and understand what she wanted, now there are few of them left. it seems the only trump translators left are relate today him. >> that's true. and it's true that they want to bring campaign loyalists into the white house with them to make sure that the administration continues to fulfill the vision the candidate laid out in the course of the campaign. >> i -- i think that candidate-trump didn't spend a whole lot of time laying out a clear vision as what he wanted to do as president of the united states but nonetheless there don't seem to be those people around donald trump anymore, other than those related to him either by blood or marriage. and i think that's something president trump will find frustrating moving forward. and it's a pretty unique
situation to have your communications director sitting in an office outside the oval office. i think that's an indication of the kind of relationship he had with them. president obama had personal staffers who sat in the office, travel aides and others responsible for his logistics. he was close with them personally. i think hope had the same kind of relationship with him and for him -- for president trump lose both keith schiller his long time body guard and friend and hope hicks in the first year of his presidency means that he has a pretty long and isolated three to seven years ahead of him. >> gene quickly before we go, this is the kind of thing you might expeck a trump twitter explosion over? is this something to watch over tomorrow morning? >> of course. there's been a lot of news today, lawrence. so you can sort of pick your story. but yeah we'll probably get some
tweets. he'll probably have something to say about that little dinner party that we saw earlier in the intro and the show of force by the justice department. i'll be up early and checking the feed. >> we all will. josh ernst, barbara mcquad, gene robinson, thank you for joining us. coming up, the special prosecutor asking exactly what donald trump knew about the stolen e-mails. and jared kushner receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in loans. a meeting in the white house this time about guns. we'll explain what the democrats were trying to accomplish with that meeting with the president today. i've gotta say, i love the new place. oh thanks. yeah, i took your advice and had geico help with renters insurance- it was really easy.
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a new nbc news exclusive report gives details about the kinds of questions that robert mueller's team is asking some of the witnesses. according to multiple people familiar with the investigation mueller's team wants the know what donald trump knew when he said this. >> i will tell you this, russia if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> why did candidate-trump say that? people familiar with the matter tell nbc news, witnesses have been asked whether trump himself knew then that clinton's campaign chairman, john podesta had already been targeted. witnesses were also asked if trump was advised to make the statement about clinton's e-mails from someone outside his campaign, and if the witnesses had reason to believe that trump tried to coordinate the release of the democratic national
committee e-mails to do the most damage to clinton. according to multiple people familiar with the investigation, the special counsel is looking into possible coordination between wikileaks and trump associates in dissemiing the e-mails. the counsel wants to know the role roger stone played and his relationship to wikileaks founder julian assange. they wanted to see was there a scheme. was stone working on the side for trump one person interviewed by the special counsel's said. adding, was this a big plot? for his plot, donald trump mentioned wikileaks 145 times in the last month of the campaign. >> wikileaks, i love wikileaks. >> this wikileaks stuff is it unbelievable. it tells you the inner heart.
you have to read it. amazing what's coming out on wikileaks. >> another one came in today, this wikileaks is like a treasurer trove. >> getting off the plane they were announcing new wikileaks and i wanted to stay there, but i didn't want to keep you waiting. >> i love reading those wikileaks. >> also tonight "the washington post" is reporting that mueller's team is investigating donald trump's efforts to oust his attorney general jeff sessions last summer and whether those efforts were part of a mons long pattern of trying to obstruct justice. joining us now eric miller and betsy wodruff. i want to go to the last item first about the president trying to fire jeff sessions and we saw the president attacking jeff sessions today in a tweet once again seeming to resume that. >> if you look at the tweet today and look at the story
about mueller looking at his interactions with sessions dating back to the last year you have to think about it in this pattern of activity of the president's inappropriate interactions with the justice department. his inappropriate interactions with jim comey, andrew mccabe, rod rosenstein, and i think they're looking at all of those and trying to figure out what was the president's motive. we know sometimes he was trying to shut down the investigation, that was clear if his conversations with jim comey and that's why he tried to fire jim comey, if you believe his own words. so he'll be trying to connect last summer when he was trying to push jeff sessions out the door as well as a few weeks ago it was reported he was investigating the question of whether the president tried to fire mueller himself as a way to obstruct justice. it looks like a pattern of the president repeatedly interfering with justice.
>> you look at some of the things the president said on the campaign, if they were obtained on wiretaps would look suspicious about russia, wikileaks. >> without a doubt his fascination with wikileaks came at the time of the release of the "access hollywood" tape that showed himself making appalling statements about the way he felt appropriate to treat women. the wikileaks story was useful to the campaign because it let him try to equate some e moral equivalency. one piece of this that's really important when we look at the connections and conversations between trump world and julian assange world is the fact that alexander nicks, the head of a data analytics firm actually reached out during the campaign and offered that firm's services
if julian assange wanted to disburse stolen e-mails that wikileaks got from hillary clinton. this wasn't something that trump was doing publicly to rile his base. behind the scenes allies were working at how they could accelerate efforts that julian assange appeared to be engaged in that were helpful to their campaign. >> i want to go back and double under line the timing of the release of wikileaks which occurred on the same day that the "access hollywood" video emerged showing donald trump bragging about his favorite methods of sexual assault. talk about that timing. you were on the campaign when that happened. >> i remember that day. it was wild and it was impossible to view the timing of the release of those e-mails as anything even remotely coincidental.
the "access hollywood" tape was probably -- or at least could have been the most dam acknowledging video clip ever for a presidential candidate but instead of it turning the tide in the campaign, wikileaks started this not so much drip drip drip as gush, gush, gush of e-mails that were stolen from clinton allies. and those e-mails first started being released the day that astounding tape came out and kept being released every day to election day since then. the funny thing is those e-mails were released on election day and kept being released afterwards. it felt something as a chaos project essentially. not just an elaborately, sophisticated orchestrated way to seriously tip the scales. remember at this point in time, all the polls showed hillary clinton was winning by a significant amount.
everyone assumed clinton was going to win at that point. basically everyone. but then within hours, within a short period of time after the "access hollywood" tape came out, wikileaks materialized and trump recognized immediately what they were doing was incredibly politically useful to his campaign. >> matt miller a picture is worth a thousand words. i'm going to show you the picture and see if you can tell us what the words are. it's jeff sessions, rod rosenstein, and the solicitor general, noel francisco having dinner in a spot they knew they would be photographed and by now we would be talking about what it means. >> that's a restaurant, i know it well, people refer to it as a doj cafeteria. it's a day if you show up, it's
filled with lawyers, with former doj officials and a place you go to be scene. it's obvious they were trying to send a message of solidarity there. he's taken shots at sessions and rosenstein, he probably doesn't know who the solicitor general is, but may if rod rosenstein leaves his position. the thing i was thinking when i saw it is boy that picture is going to make trump angry. he's going to know exactly the purpose of that picture after sessions put out that statement kind of pushing back and standing up to the president a little bit today. it wouldn't surprise me if we see a tweet about it tomorrow morning. >> thank you both for joining us. if you're wondering why jared kushner has failed to get a security clearance how about this, jared kushner had white house meetings with executives and then got more than $100 million in loans from those executives.
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administration officials on infrastructure policies he met on many occasions with jared kushner. among other things the two discussed a white house job for mr. harris which never materialized but in november, apollo lent $184 million to mr. kushner's family company. the loan was triple the size of the average real estate loan made by apollo. shortly after kushner's companies received the loan from apollo, the private equity firm emerged as a beneficiary of the tax cut package that the white house championed. they got a loan from citi loan, that was made shortly after mr. kushner met with citi group's chief executive.
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well, jared's done an outstanding job. i think he's been treated very unfairly. he's a high quality person. he works for nothing. nobody ever reports that but he gets zero. he doesn't get a salary. >> we'll now put that working for nothing in perspective. joining us is kate kelly, wall street reporter for the "new york times." the headline of her story tonight kushner's business got
loans from companies after white house meetings. kate i can't tell you how stunning that headline is. that is just precisely what no one in government is supposed to do. how easy was it to track this down? >> not easy. and i have to give a great deal of credit to my colleagues, especially jessie drucker, who was the driving force behind it and brought ben and i along. it was just piecing together what the nature of the meetings were, finding about the job was a surprise, so it took some leg work and, of course, you want to be bullet proof on a story like this, so you want to have multiple sources. we got to that point but it took some leg work. >> this is exactly what donald trump promised that when he goes into the presidency he will have nothing to do with his businesses. jared kushner made the same promise. clearly jared kushner is violating that promise. >> right.
it's the family real estate company, kushner companies and he still owns a portion of the entity that's involved in this apollo loan. he is -- has not divested himself of that as you know and nor has the president divested himself of certain interests. he obviously is trying to distance himself from this situation, but there's no question that the kushner companies is benefitting from these loans and they've been in need of them. >> if the special prosecutor was not already investigating this part of jared kushner's life, they are tonight. they will stay at the office late tonight reading your article, and they will begin investigating this tomorrow if they haven't already. did you pick up any indications that the special prosecutor is already investigating jared kushner getting loans for his companies while working in the white house? >> i have not heard that. obviously at the times we've done some reporting on the eastern district of new york and inquiries they made into deutsche bank.
as to whether the special counsel has i don't know. it would not be surprising for a division like edny to share information with the special counsel that might happen on a regular basis in cases like this. in answer to your question, no, i have not heard that. it's interesting how you see a mix of business backgrounds here. there were meetings on infrastructure policy much of last year until the charlottesville situation where these panels disbanded. reasonable to have discussion oshow to rebuilt infrastructure because the budget set aside for this is not large. that said it seems there were relationships that grew out of those discussions that led to the situations we're reporting on. >> in a typical white house, the people having those meetings are not in need of hundreds of
millions of dollars of loans. >> right. precisely. then it becomes interesting the layers here, the brainstorming on infrastructure, makes sense, but during the same year that you have tax cuts that could benefit that person, those people, that industry, infrastructure programs they could take part in, a possible job that somebody who's interested in government might be able to get as some sort of outgrowth of that relationship. so there are many two-way potential benefits involved. >> special prosecutor reading kate kelly's reporting tonight in their office or home. thank you very much we appreciate it. coming up, the students are moving the mountain wal-mart announced the company will no longer sell guns or ammunition to anyone under 21, they're removing anything that resembles assault rifles. they stopped selling the ar-15
in 2015. there was a meeting in the white house the president never suspected to have, they were talking about gun legislation. the democrats had had to make a choice, attack president trump on the gun issue or deal with him as the man with the signature they need in order to pass legislation. we'll show you what happened next. turn up your swagger game with one a day men's. ♪ get ready for the wild life a complete multivitamin with key nutrients, plus b vitamins for heart health. your one a day is showing.
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president trump rewriting his position on guns. >> believe me, you put me in there, we're going to save that second amendment, we're going to save your guns. they're not going to take away your bullets. they're not going to shorten up your magazines. they're not going to do anything. >> they're not going to do anything. the presidential candidate who said he would do absolutely nothing about gun laws had a meeting at the white house today about changing gun laws. it was a televised trump meeting with a bipartisan group of senators invited to the white house. and because it was a trump meeting it was filled with liridiculous trump moments like when he said he wanted to seize guns from people before there was any proof those people should have one. >> number one you can take the guns away from people who you can judge easily were mentally ill. the police saw a problem, they didn't take any guns away. that could have been policing. i think they should have taken them away anyway, whether they
had the right or not. >> take away the guns. everyone in the room, republicans and democrats know the president does not comprehend a single sentence of the constitution but none of them tried to correct the president on that point, including the democrats. the democrats acknowledged leaders, senator diane feinstein and chris murphey. they made a calculation before the meeting started to approach the meeting professionally in the hopes of getting something done. any one of the democrats could have become a big media star tonight by repeatedly explaining to the president how wrong he is, how ignorant he is and how much of a problem he and his party have been for gun legislation. so every democrat in the room resisted the urge to attack the president for his own position on gun policy after all previous mass murders because it was a meeting in which there was cause
for some hope of strengthening background checks, which everyone in the meeting, including the president, seemed to be in favor of. and maybe there's hope for something more than that. >> i would like to ask joe and pat in your bill what are you doing about the 18 to 21? >> we didn't address that. >> we didn't change that. >> are you going to leave that? >> to everyone's surprise it was the president who brought up banning the sale of assault weapons to people under the age of 21. he said it didn't make sense to selling assault weapons to people under the age of 21. he didn't say he was going to support it. he mentioned the nra is opposed to that kind of legislation. but he said, quote, it's something you have to think about. most trump watchers are betting the nra will keep donald trump in line and not allow him or the republicans do much more than a minor strengthening of background checks.
but the republicans today had a responsibility to spend their time in that room working as legislatures and not critics because if they can help push through legislation no matter how minor it is, it will be something where previously there has been absolutely nothing. and when they finish with that, those democrats can go back to attacking the president for not doing more and go back to trying to do more. but today was the day for democrats to the try to soften the ground for compromise and to teach the president things he does not know. >> the assault weapons legislation, this is the number of incidents before and -- of -- of incidents and of deaths. >> right. >> this is when the 10-year assault weapon ban was in, how incidents and deaths dropped.
support that bill. she was just letting him know that if they do legislate something on background checks, if they do legislate something to prohibit the sale of bump stocks for converting assault rifles into the equivalent of automatic weapons, that she will be back. that this is the cause of her life as a senator and a politician since the day she had to announce in san francisco as a city councilmember that mayor george moscone and harvey milk had been assassinated. people cannot keep track what was he is saying, what he is in favor of, what he is opposed to. there was this moment where he actually appeared to endorse senator feinstein's bill and suggested combining it with the background checks bills that he is in favor of. >> diane, if you could add what you have also, and i think you can, into the bill -- >> are you ready? >> joe, can you do that? pat, can you add some of the things -- you're not going to agree with -- >> if you help. >> no i'll help. can you add what amy and what dianne have?
i know you can add what john has -- >> senator feinstein's asking for the president's help because she knows that all successful legislation needs the president's help. dianne feinstein has been through this before. in a similar televised-style meeting in the white house, she got the president to agree to a standalone daca bill before republicans and john kelly pulled donald trump away from that democratic position. senator feinstein is not naive, she knows what is likely to happen. but she also knows it is a senator's job to never give up, to never give up hope that there can be some progress, even minor progress. even in the age of trump. the job of senator done well is never easy. but in the age of trump, the job of being a democratic senator has never been more difficult. never. the easiest thing for democratic
senators to do in the room with the president today would be to attack him, to show how much smarter they are than he is. but the democrats didn't do that, they chose professionalism over grandstanding. in the very slim hope that they might actually get donald trump to sign something, the slim hope that donald trump might force the republicans in the house and the senate to take a baby step in the right direction. and so democratic congressman ted deutsch, who represents parkland, florida, where our most recent mass murder took place, gave the president a wrist band that memorializes the 17 dead. and he asked the president for his help getting a bill passed. congressman deutsch surely has as much doubt about donald trump's ability to empathize as the rest of us do. but today was the day for ted deutsch to try to think of ways to pull donald trump in his direction, to get the president's signature on legislation. for people who hate donald trump and wanted to see him attacked
by those democrats today, it was probably a difficult meeting to watch. but if you know what professionalism looks like in the senate and in the house, you know that what you saw today was democrats whose oath of office obliges them to never give up hope. and so representatives ted deutsch, elizabeth esty, stephanie murphy, senators man shin, murphy, feinstein, went into that being meeting with the political momentum created by the high school kids in parkland, florida, to try to get something done for them. to try to get something done for the country. the kids of marjory stoneman douglas high school haven't given up hope. and those house members and those senators haven't given up hope either. jimmy's gotten used to his whole room smelling like sweaty odors.
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time for tonight's "last word." dick's sporting good stores announced the company will stop selling assault-style firearms and high-capacity magazines and will not sell any guns to those under age 21 at any of its stores. also today, students at marjory stoneman douglas high school are returning to class for the first time since the shooting that killed 17 people. students walked to school wednesday morning with heavy police presence. many of them were not sure what to expect when they got back. just hoped to see their friends. >> i feel better that we're all going back to school, because like there's no right time to go back to school, but like if wear all with our friends, community, it feels better to be back in the community. it's definitely going to take a little while, but if we're all here for each other, it will be much easier. >> the students get tonight's "last word." there's a lot of breaking news tonight about the president, especially prosecutor's investigation, jared kushner's businesses, and the loans that he obtained.
and of course the departure of hope hicks. all of that is now going to be covered in "the 11th hour with brian williams" which starts flour. for starters, hope hicks, perhaps the closest aide to the president, is leaving the white house. her dramatic departure comes the day after admitting she's told white lies for the boss. plus new tonight from "the new york times," jared kushner's company received a half billion dollars' worth of loans from bankers after they met with him ought the white house. also, robert mueller looking into whether trump knew about e-mails getting hacked going back to the 2016 campaign. in the category of "you can't make this stuff up," after getting attacked on twitter by his boss, the president, and after standing up for himself today, tonight attorney general jeff sessions shows up to dinner in washington with his deputy, mr. rosenstein, who happens to be in charge of the mueller investigation.