tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC April 20, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT
right now, it's time to hand over to "andrea mitchell reports." and right now on "andrea mitchell reports," the comey memos are promptly leaked with his conversations with the president and top white house aids. moments later, answering rachel maddow's questions in realtime. >> he told you that he had a personal conversation with president putin about hookers? >> yes. >> did you believe him or thinking he was speaking hyperbolically? >> didn't seem to be speaking hyp hyperbolically. and rudy giuliani joining the trump team proving his loyalty another the convention. >> what i did for new york, donald trump will do for america!
and walkout. students in hundreds of schools across the nation continuing their call for tougher gun laws, commemorating the 19th anniversary of the columbine high school massacre that changed an entire generation. >> we're making history. we are the future. but we're also this present. good day, everyone. i'm andrea mitchell in washington. with the fallout released by the justice department, after weeks of relentless pressure and under a threat of subpoena, also new today, breaking news in the democratic national committee filing a lawsuit in federal court in manhattan against a list of defendants, including the russian government, the trump 2016 campaign and wikileaks. joining me now, nbc white house correspondent kristen welker, justice security analyst matt miller, and attorney general eric holder, and nbc justice correspondent pete williams, and harry litman, former deputy
assistant attorney general during the clinton administration. welcome, all. our first -- pete and harry, let's talk about the dnc lawsuit just filed. pete, what connections are they making about collusion with russia alleged to make the case that the republican campaign and the kremlin should pay damages? >> any kind of coordination between the trump campaign and the russians and basically assuming them to be true for the purpose of the lawsuit, claiming that they are true, and asking for damages. it's against the trump campaign, wikileaks, julian assange, manafort, gates, jared kushner, and other people -- roger stone. so, you know, i think it's a placeholder, it's a start. it's basically giving them a chance now to engage in
discovery. now, obviously, some they will never get. i doubt they will ever get discovery from the russian federation or members of the general staff of the russian armed forces. i think it's going to be hard for them to get to julian asang or anyone with wikileaks. and the other problem, i suppose they could return into is, andrea, a number of the allegations they would make are exactly what robert mueller's team is looking at. so whenever you have a conflict like this when there's a lawsuit and someone wants access to information, but there's a criminal case, generally speaking, the courts let the criminal case go first. but it is a start. it is a foothold. and they say they want damages. they say that it costs them well over a million dollars to fix their computers that donors dropped, donations dropped off after the leaks started because people were worried about their personal information. there were threats to employees. so they are asking for punitive damages, damages to compensate them, and they want an order telling all these people to knock it off. >> harry litman, did they have
standing, just according to the law, will they get into federal court even if they are told to wait until the mueller probe and the mueller report, whatever the report is, public or private, before you can get access to these witnesses? >> that's the key question, andrea. pete says they will be searching for discovery, but they won't get it until they don't show standing or the right to be there. almost certainly they don't have standing against most of the people there. would they have it against the rnc? larry o'brien had it in watergate, it's true, but that was a long time ago and a different court. my best guess is they don't have standing and know it, but this is more in an attempt to package the entire story as pete says, be a kind of counterpart just as the nunez committee is out there taking the story and trying to spin the republican version of it. this gives them an opportunity, at least in the press, to take the whole package and continue
to press their account of things. it probably won't get to first base again. >> let's talk about the impact of comey. i want to get to kristen and matt miller. matt, first to you, the first one that comes to mind is, this is the first tomb we haime we h comey's memo. after his meeting with the president, the president expressed reservation, serious reservations about mike flynn. let's talk about that. let me read it to you. the memo says, he then went on to explain he has serious reservations about mike flynn's judgment and illustrated with a story from the day in which the president apparently discovered during a toast to theresa may that called four days ago that someone redacted and called four years ago, if the implication from the rest and the context seem it may have been vladimir putin. it was clearly the head of state. the return call was scheduled for saturday prompting a heated approval.
six days was not the appropriate time to return a call from the name redacted. she was explaining she was the first to call after the inauguration. and flynn interrupted to say, blank had called first. the implication of that is that that's the question he was asking comey about mike flynn, but this was after sally yates was gone, it was the day after sally yates was gone. >> that's right. >> why wasn't he asking about flynn and his connection to the russians? what about the allegations from the russian intelligence agency has talked about this democracy. >> on the day before in january 27, sally yates came to the white house to say mike flynn, one, had a conversation with sergey kislyak that might have been inappropriate. two, the story he told to the white house, that the white house repeated reportedly was not true about the conversation, that he had not discussed sanctions. you would have expected that the white house would take action
and the president would be concerned, as they later said, after reports surfaced all this, was concerned that mike flynn had lied to them. know what we find out is that he was concerned mike flynn had called back to vladimir putin. it shows where again the president's priority with the respect to the russian government has been from the beginning. >> and chris tekristen, the pre reaction, let's go over the tweet. michael flynn's life can be totebtot totally destroyed. is that really the way life in america is supposed to work? i don't think so. >> he's been lashing out essentially saying this proves there was no collusion as well. and i think it is striking because the question becomes, where is there proof there's no clugs in the memos by james
comey. we do see 15 pages of detailed accounts of james comey's implications or remembrances of these encounters with the president. and i think that is what is notable, but in terms of bolstering the president's argument, it's not clear what he's talking about. and to this point you're discussing with matt, why wasn't the president asking about collusion? why wasn't he asking about, how can we prevent the russians from ever doing this again? we don't see that in any of these conversations. >> there's never a question, is there an interagency working on cyber attacks. nothing like that. and there's a memo written by reince priebus, and the chief of staff up appropriately asked him
if this was a private conversation. i replied it was. then i paused and said i would answer here, but then this illustrated the kind of question that had to be asked and answered through the established channels. harry, the implication here is that he's asking about whether they were wearing a wire, that's not the right technical term, but whether they were listening in to conversations as part of a counter active situation. it is ten minutes after sally' yats yates and what a sharp departure. we can see this happening during comey's dinner. but now we have priebus as well. perhaps no aspect of the hole
back and forth communications. it is well established. and if priebus wants to know this, there could be rare circumstances when it could be okay, but you have to go through the channels. this is a harvenger of the surrender of the comey memos. great pressure from the white house, which really should be completely hands off to have details of the most sensitive topics, including the possible criminal culpability of the president of the united states. >> pete williams, let's talk about how comey answered these questions. let me play a little bit of comey. just as the memos were being released sitting down with rachel maddow to talk about his
book. and she was obviously talking about this. >> you're having this interaction with reince priebus at that time, the white house had been warned that mike flynn was perceived to potentially be compromised by a foreign power. the fbi interview happened, the warning from the acting attorney general happened. and at that time, mike flynn was still in the white house. was he asking if mike flynn skurndly under surveillance or under a serious form of investigation? do you know what he's getting at by asking that? >> not for sure. i think he was asking, is there current electronic surveillance under the foreign electronic surveillance act of the national security adviser. >> and you did give him an answer? >> correct. >> pete, that makes the point how inappropriate that was. >> well, of course, tantalizingly, he doesn't say what the answer was. and where he told the answer is blacked out in the memo. so he basically says in the interview with rachel that he wanted to use it as, in her
terms, a teachable moment to say, you shouldn't be sklg me these things. in the future, here's the way to do it. >> then we have a salacious conversation about hookers. >> and you're going to me on this? >> congratulations, kristen. >> you win. >> this is the president you cover. >> essentially, what we learn in these memos is that according to james comey's recollection, president trump said in a conversation where putin, that putin said to him that we have good hookers in russia. and this is part of t theconversation in the oval office. it was part of his defense to say he has the salacious elements in the dossier that just aren't true. but what is remarkable about this is that james comey was asked by rachel if he was
perhaps being hyperbolically, it didn't appear to be the case. >> in fact, let's play part of that. >> do we otherwise know that president trump had conversations with president putin at that point. >> i can't recall. i think there was a recording that he had spoken to putin, a congratulations to taking the office. i'm not saying they talked about how beautiful the hookers were in russia, but i do know there was one publicly recorded conversation. >> that would be an unusual first call between new heads of state. >> matt, it is really hard to know what they talked about. but putin was on russian television with the moldavian visitor bragging about the russian working women. we can play a little bit of
that it was unlikely to be in the conversation with putin, head to state to head of state. it is internalized as part of the conversation. >> it is always possible. we have seen him do that, for example, when he watches tv in the morning. and james comey doesn't specify when the president told him that conversation took place. i think what is remarkable taking a step back is that it does raise questions on how many conversations there may or may not have been between the president and putin. and that was murky on the campaign trail as well. you'll recall in some instances he said, i don't know him. and there was reaction to him becoming a candidate. >> rudy giuliani joining the legal team. the fact, a big boost during the campaign. the big name, big tv presence, but harry litman, still the kind of person that can be helpful.
he says he knows mueller and promises to get this wrapped up in a number of weeks. >> yeah, it's kind of puzzling. certainly there's nothing about his personal charisma or relationship with mueller that will mean anything here to mueller. and it's clear while the obstruction investigation may be near the end, and mueller indicated memos could be forthcoming, no other aspect of the probe is near. so it seems like a mission doomed forever failure. and a bit puzzling. it's also interesting that the same time he brings in giuliani, who, by the way, is no longer a sort of practicing criminal lawyer. it's been many years. he also brings in a couple bona fide criminal defense lawyers who would be there for the war in the trenches in the long-run. so it's a little bit in conflict. but i think it's quite unlikely
that giuliani can parachute in and just make, accelerate matters, because he used to work with bob mueller. >> and there was another nugget of news, a number of them n the rachel comey interview, and one of them is that comey opened an interview into a conversation of comments made in 2016 because of leaks from the fbi in new york, the unit he was closely connected to. let's play part of giuliani on fox promising that october surprise. >> mr. mayor, we have 14 days, this bill, does donald trump plan anything except for a series of inspiring -- >> what? we have a couple surprises left. >> early surprises? >> prizes in the way to get our campaign out there. maybe in a different way. we'll see.
and i think it will be effective. he later confirmed after the fact that kate coomey was going to reopen the investigation into hillary clinton on october 28th just days before the ex-wilecti. >> there were a number of leaks about secretary clinton and whether they were going to investigate the clinton foundation. there was a report and confirmed he knew something about it. whether he had a leak from the fbi or from the retired agents he seems to be close to. or whether he was bragging based on nothing. it is important that he launched
the internal investigation, not just because of the reporting but because of what rudy giuliani said on tv. when the inspector general comes out with this report in may, the fbi and the department of justice is handling the investigation during that campaign. >> comey said that that is why he reopened it in part because he had that in mind, and he doesn't know what the outcome is because he was fired before it was finished. thanks to all. harry litman, pete williams, matt miller, kristen welker, on all things. coming up, the republican house members are campaigning to get rid of rod rosenstein. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports." stay with us on msnbc.
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house republicans finally getting the justice department to release the comey memos, but only after weeks of controversy. now are comey's notes more damaging to the president than anyone else? that's the question being asked. joining me is jim hines who serves on the intelligence committee. first of all, your reaction to rod rosenstein turning over the e-mails part of the ongoing criminal investigation. it is breaking precedent. was he wrong to do it? >> that's the big picture question. the whole thing and the attacks the republican committee chairman, you showed them earlier, have made on the fbi and the justice system. and on this particular investigation, forcing the doj
to break with precedent about actually giving information that may be involved with the ongoing investigation. that's a very big deal. but what is remarkable about this, what is stunning is that here are three leaders who are -- it's like keystone cops. i'm trying to imagine whether nunez and goodlot and gowdy thought we needed to demand the release of a memo that shows not just the president but reince priebus was being highly inappropriate with the fbi director. and oh, by the way, a cherry on top, we'll spend a day or so talking about putin and the new president talking about attractive hookers. what did they really think they were going to achieve by this? >> and the republicans put out this news release saying that, in fact, we'll see if i have the quote here, they say the memo lays bare the notion that former
director comey is not motivated by animus, the lawmakers said. he was willing to work for someone he deemed morally unsuited for office, capable of lying, requiring of special loyalty, worthy of impeachment and sharing the traits of a mob boss. what he said about his book in advance of his testimony and what he wrote at the time. >> all the language they used in the statement, all of it, he doesn't know if it is true or not. maybe he doesn't like the president at that moment in time, but jim comey, whatever you think about him with respect to the clinton investigation,
he's an fbi director in a fraught moment. and like an fbi director, any time in our history, he assumes that the president is not going to do what he ultimately did and interfere with his job, interfere with his investigation. and look, is it possible that at some point the president might have pushed jim comey so far that he would resign? i mean, maybe that's a question that needs to be asked that dozens of people who have already left the white house. what you just read me is total spin. the reality is, what the committee chair has achieved is a news cycle in which all we do is talk about reince priebus putting pressure on the fbi director, asking if it's appropriate to do so, and again, a complete sideshow around, when did putin talk to donald trump about prostitutes? again, i work with these people. and it just -- rudy giuliani takes us there, too. rudy giuliani says the administration, we're going to get this wrapped up in a couple weeks, he's going to call up mueller and say, hey, bobby, we have to wrap this up. you don't need to live in the same time zone as a law school
to know that's insane. and making that statement guarantees that if bob mueller had any intention of wrapping this up in the next couple of weeks, it sure isn't happening now. >> tell me, do you think this is all part of the effort to get rid of rod rosenstein? >> well, there are two things going on here. well, there's one thing that has a couple of different arms to it. the investigations usually come out with some report that could be terribly serious or maybe not. but what is happening here is a month-long effort to attack the integrity and standing of the department of justice here, of the fbi and of all people associated with it, almost all of whom are republicans, many of whom appointed by this president. the point is that when the report, from wherever it comes, and it includes indictments or stories of inappropriate activity, they are going to say
these people were never on the up. we have been telling you that for months. that is what is dangerous about this, because the american people should be able to assume, as they should, that the fbi and dodge doj do non-impartial work. >> thank you for coming to talk to us on a friday. really appreciate it. >> thank you, andrea. coming up, taking a stand. students across the country are walking out of school. this is the 19th anniversary of the columbine shooting. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" on msnbc. your body was made for better things than rheumatiod arthritis. before you and your rheumatologist move to another treatment, ask if xeljanz xr is right for you. xeljanz xr is a once-daily pill
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i think oyou spoke to one perso there in washington, d.c. >> reporter: yes, it has been run by students. it doesn't have the hollywood feel that the larger events have had. it is also reflected in the crowd size here, only a few hundred here in washington, d.c., but it does have a very organic feel to it. second, there's been a huge focus on voter registration. these students are eager to show their displeasure with congress and with this president by getting registered as soon as they're legally able to do so. and to vote out the people who they blame for this problem. and the third is the columbine part of this, which has been fascinating here on the anniversary. the idea that these students, all of them, were not yet born when the columbine shooting really made all the rest of us aware of even the concept of the school shooting. and one of the folks who was here that spoke was a columbine high school survivor of that shooting who expressed almost a certain amount of guilt that we
are even still discussing this. here's part of our conversation. >> i always say, i'm sorry. it really should have ended with us. we were told it was an anomaly. and it would never happen again. and then it has. it should not be like that. it should be like, when we went to school. and we didn't know that we had to worry about our safety in the classroom. >> reporter: that woman is hoping that these students can succeed where her generation wasn't able to. >> thank you for bringing that to us, garrett. it is remarkable. i still think of the columbine kids as kids running from the school. and all these years later, they are all grown up. a whole generation has now had to survive and deal and sometimes not survive these massacres. it's a daily occurrence among many people in chicago, ron mott, there's certainly a feeling that people seem to care
about school violence and urban violence, only when it happens in certain parts of the country, not when it happens in washington, d.c., some neighborhoods in chicago and l.a. and other places. >> reporter: yeah, hi, andrea. as you mentioned, chicago has a known gun violence problem. so these kids, you see behind me, they are dealing with this on a daily basis. a lot of people unfortunately lost to gun violence in the city every year. this group just exploded. we walked with one school from the chicago downtown area. and we were the first group to get here, 30, 35 students or so. and now, you can see the students are still coming. and when you ask why they are coming back out, thaw don't want the march from last month to mark the 30-days after the marnlry stoneman douglas to be a one-off event. they want to keep the momentum building and growing. i don't know how well you can read some of the signs, but there was one in particular that struck me that says, am i next?
these students do not want to continue to live with this culture and this fear of gun violence visiting their schools. and when we talked to kids on the south side of chicago last month where were some of the dangerous streets in chicago are. we see a lot of gun violence there. many kids say they know people who have died and classmates who have died. they are marching out here from grant park down to the federal plaza area where they are going to try to implore the folks in the federal government to actually do something. they don't want the rhetoric, they don't want the talk. they appreciate the thoughts and prayers but want a lot more than that. and a lot of these young people will be 18 by november 6th and do plan on exercising their rights to vote. andrea? >> and that's the key to it all, isn't it? a right to vote. thanks so much to ron mott. thank you, of course, garrett haake here in d.c. and from russia with love, the kremlin trying to nail down the white house invitation from the president to vladimir putin. stay with us. you're watching "andrea mitchell
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mear, anne geron, and the ambassador to qatar. welcome, anne. and first to you, ignoring the advice from his own national security advisers on march 20th in this call, and apparently lavrov says he repeatedly invited putin to the white house. >> yes. >> rewarding him for what, for attacking syria, for enabling the syrian regime to use chemical wes? >> and the white house is trying very hard to frame any invitation, which they don't deny happened, as part of what trump says is his overall view that a good u.s. relationship with russia is better than a bad one. and that you can do two things at once. you can have a better relationship with russia and
still be tough on them on the very long list of issues you mentioned and more. clearly, president trump is very sensitive on this topic. we heard him get quite hot under the collar at the press conference the other day where he kept saying words to the effect that no one has been tougher on russia than he has. many people would dispute that, but he doesn't like the criticism. >> the fact that the next day or the same day john bolton invited the russian ambassador to the meeting. the meeting could have been held elsewhere, but it was at the white house the next day. dana smith, 25 years in the state department, you resigned. >> i did. >> and you resigned largely because of the way the tillerson state department was putting on the job, not filling vacancies, not taking diplomacy seriously. >> well, there were a number of
reasons, but i was vocal on my twitter feed about those reasons. >> now with pompeo, a vote in committee, the senate foreign relations committee right now is 10-9 against him. and we still haven't heard from a couple other senators, but the fact is right now that this vote monday around 5:00, he's going to be the first secretary of state in history to be reported out unfavorably to the floor for a vote where it's also going to be very tight. should he be confirmed? >> well, i think what is really interesting to me is that everybody is suddenly screaming and yelling how this is going to be so unprecedented. and i think the real point is that we are seeing unprecedented things happening every day in this administration. and i think it's very convenient for people now after violating every norm in the book to invoke the norms to try to allow the president to choose his own secretary of state, but there are some serious problems with this nominee. and i think it's good that the democrats on the committee and
others in congress are really looking at him. >> jonathan la mere, he has the president's ear, he's reportedly calling back some of the people who either were fired or quit, that the state department would become reinvigorated. >> that's right. i think you just hit the nail right on the head, that he is suggesting that he will undo some of the damage that some people perceive that rex tillerson did to the state department. that he will fill some of the empty desks that you are so familiar aware of. he's someone who has the president's ear. he is someone who has, withed, has enjoyed a good relationship with the u.n. ambassador nikki haley, who is also a part of this. the idea that pompeo may come out of the senate, if he's not referred favorably by the committee, but still manages to be confirmed, that he may be seen as sort of diminished or weakened. that comes at the same moment
when people ask the same questions about nikki haley in flight of the flak of the russian sanctions. she's very much out of the loop on whether or not they were imposed and drew the president's ire in response. >> dana, what are your big concerns about pompeo substantively? >> well, what i really wanted to see in his hearing or over the course of the last few weeks when it's been in the spotlight, is some evidence that he believes in diplomacy. and that is what i'm finding. there are lots of reasons that i dislike him or disagree with him and concerns that a number of us have, but does he believe in dplo diplomacy? he was one of two or three members of congress that came through doha when i was ambassador and refused a briefing from me. most people whether transitting for an hour or two accepted it because they were interested. >> why? he was a tea party congressman
elected in 2010 from kansas. very active on the benghazi committee, fiercely opposed to hillary clinton, why would he not want to get a briefing in a place which is a fulcrum of terror and where we have the largest base that we have in the whole region? >> well, if i'm remembering correctly, he was transiting for days. he didn't have tons of time to waste, but usually i offer to go to the airport to see people as they transited. he was on the intelligence committee, so he was interested in seeing that team in country. but i had seen many people from the senate intelligence committee, from the house intelligence committee, and it was a surprise to me that he wasn't interested to hear what the u.s. ambassador had to say about relations with the host country. >> pretty striking. we'll have to leave it there. anne gearon, dana shell smith, thank you for coming. jonathan lamere, thank you for being with us from new york. and coming up, thousands of
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houston for former first lady barbara bush. former staffers, friends, members of the public today will be able to pay their respects to the beloved matriarch lying in repose at st. martin's church, the bush family church for five decades. their pastor was with the family and mrs. bush's bedside during the final moments and talked with kelly o'donnell. >> all of us in the room knelt at her bed, placed our hands on her body, offered these beautiful prayers, and as we finished, we all in tears. we all stood up still saying i love you, and moments later she died peacefully, gently, with tranquility. the kind of death we would all want. >> her granddaughter "today" show correspondent jenna bush hager is herring her own tribute. a heartwarming letter to her
beloved gamy. >> dearest gamy, when we lost you we lost one of the greats. you are our family's rock, the glue that held us together. i hope you know in your final days how many people prayed for you. how many people told me they loved you. it was like that my whole life. people stopped me everywhere, in airports, on the street, and declared their love for you. it always felt good. we didn't mind sharing you with the world. we called you the enforcer. it was because you were a force, and you wrote the rules. your rules were simple. treat everyone equally, don't look down on anyone. use your voices for good. read all the great books. oh, how i'll miss sharing books with you. i will never forget when barbara and i, 7-year-olds, snuck into the boley alley of the white house and ordered president's
peanut butter sandwiches and couldn't wait to be delivered the fanciest sandwich of our lives. you opened the door. scolding us, telling us under no circumstances could we order food in the white house again. this was not a hotel. you taught us humility and grace. you and gampy embodied unki unconditional love. henry and i asked you to read at our wedding to emulate your love story. your love letters will are passed down to our daughters to know what true love looks like. our nights spent around the dinner table at maine laughing at family stories made all the better because of your life and humor was necessary because of summers you spent surrounded by 17 raucous gandkids kennebunkport, created giant bubble baths, loved doing
cannonballs under your head while you peacefully slammed laughs. from you i learned uniqueness from wearing mixed matched keds and your snow white hair you taught us humor and grace are important and caring too much up a your looks is minor. who you are matters. the others simply fade. in the body of the e-mail you wrote, i am watching you. i love you, gamy. we have spent our lives watching you. your words an example to follow. watched as you held babies living with hiv, championed literacy and held gampy's hand. you always said you were one of
the luckiest women to ever lived. i am filled with gratitude because you are ours. we are the lucky ones. you did things on your own terms up until the very end, and now you're reunited with your little girl robin. she died so young. you called her your sweet angel in heaven and though i never met her, her words are still today and forever will be a treasured part of our family, and so, gani, we love you more than tone can tell. love jenna.
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and before we go we want to take a moment to recognize two women who made history this week. senator tammy duckworth welcome becoming the first u.s. senator to bring her child on to the floor of the u.s. senate and her 10-day-old baby girl who became the first infant allowed into the house. usually mostly male chamber. how did miley do? >> it meant so much to cast my vote and do my job and be a mother at the same time. >> picked ought a aqua green jacket so she didn't violate the senate floor dress code.
a dust-up in the day before what children would be allowed to wear in chambers. maybe things are changing. took them a long time to get a rest room for women anywhere near the senate floor. that does it for us this week. this edition of "andrea mitchell reports" report will be on tomorrow. chris jansing is up next right here on msnbc. >> hi, andrea. safe travels. >> thank you. i am chris jansing in for craig melvin here in msnbc headquarters in new york. a busy friday. the dnc versus russia and the trump campaign. filing a multimillion dollar lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to make donald trump president. why this is coming now. the comey memos. the former fbi director takes on -- take on his conversations with trump and the stories the president just wouldn't stop talking about. the new revelations and the impact on the russia probe. and never again.