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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  April 30, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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made by the prime minister of israel but he did not say that iran has a clnuclear weapons program. so a statement by the president almost sounding like we were declaring war on iran. but then a few minutes ago the white house updated that statement they made on iran. now they say iran had a nuclear weapons program, had, not has. back then, not now. oops. honestly i'm not kidding you a white house official told nbc news this was a clerical error. you didn't know they had clerks, did you? no word yet on how this happened in the first place, but boy how is that one robust clerical error, the white house sort of declaring war on iran tonight before oops taking this back. how did that happen. this is what people thought the
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john bolton reera would be like in any white house. that does it for us tonight. . we'll see you tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" good evening, lawrence. >> good evening, rachel. i know you have a good 40 minutes of television, 45, 50, that you had written for tonight's 9:00 hour, would you mind just dropping by here and slipping me, like in the second half hour, i could do all of those -- some of those segments of yours. >> no because i'm not planning on there being any news tomorrow and i'm going to run tonight's show tomorrow, so you would be scooping me. >> or you could wait and bequeath them to the museum of broadcasting that got bumped by breaking news. >> you bump stuff every day because something happens between 7:00 and 9:00 every night that changes the show and everything. then in my life at least i keep all of these things in a fire trap pile next to my desk. and if you let these things cook
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for another day or two, they end up having some horrible, terrible new two days on development. so even though these stories die a slow death on fast nights they often come back a few days later. >> it was amazing to watch you deal with it with about three minutes notice. i had a little more time but i don't feel as well prepared as you are. reading all 49 questions i'm counting on my audience having heard your reading of all 48 questions. there are so many areas here, rachel, that it is kind of hard to understand when you get through the questions, the idea that the president is not a target of this investigation. if those are the questions for someone who's not a target, i don't know what a target's questions are like. >> you know, it's clear, and chuck rosenberg said this and he was observing it as i was, he didn't have any advanced notice either, he said what's clear
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here is the president is a subject of this inquiry. this is not a person who's being interviewed for whom these questions have been designed that's a witness to somebody else's behavior. this is someone who's own behavior is under scrutiny which makes the president a subject of this investigation. and again we should say, the special counsel has not verified, has not confirmed publically that these questions are, in fact, their questions. they haven't confirmed if these are some of their questions there aren't more. we don't know who michael schmidt's source is. he tells the story of the negotiations between trump's team and mueller's team, including last month mueller's team being willing to give this road map of questions to the trump legal team, so that may be
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the origin of these questions. but by the virtue of the phrasing of some of these questions we're learning what robert mueller knows because he's asking the president to comment on stuff we didn't know were in question. >> we're going to have a "new york times" reporter working on those questions, and michael avenatti who filed a new lawsuit today on the program. and he may have an idea of what happens when you give written questions ahead of time because in civil litigation that happens all the time. there's a certain approach to it, i think when i'm reading the special counsel's version, a tremendous amount of confidence. no matter how much time you give donald trump he's not going to come up with easy answers to some of these questions. >> honestly, some of the questions themselves are -- i mean, what knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by paul manafort, to russia about potential assistance to the
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campaign? what can you say about your campaign contacting russia that's going to be good for you? that's a question there isn't a good answer to. the question itself sinks you kind of. >> how many follow-up questions does the special prosecutor have ready to go depending on what the answer is, and those are the questions donald trump can't see coming. >> this is a big turn in a big story. >> thanks, rachel. >> thanks, lawrence. >> tonight's breaking news is the "new york times" story. they came up with a list of questions that the special prosecutor wants to ask the president of the united states. the investigators read the questions to the president's lawyers and the president's lawyers made their own written list of those questions and it was that list that was, quote, provided to the times by a person outside mr. trump's legal team. these questions are the tip of the iceberg.
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it will be virtually impossible for the president's lawyers to prepare him for answering all of the additional questions that will arise from the president's answer to any one of these questions. just an example. what was the purpose of your january 27, 2017 dinner with mr. comey, and what was said? now, there are countless follow-up questions to however donald trump answers that question, the comey memo about that dinner says the president asked for james comey's personal loyalty, that the president lied to james comey about how much time he spent in moscow. and then there are a range of follow-up questions that have nothing to do with the substance of the trump/comey dinner conversation. the president will be asked how many times have you had a one-on-one dinner with anyone in the white house? and if james comey is the only person donald trump has ever had a one-on-one dinner with in the
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white house, the reason for having that one-on-one dinner becomes more suspicious. the big question for donald trump and his lawyers tonight is can donald trump possibly survive an interview like this with the special prosecutor and how will donald trump handle the follow-up questions that he and his lawyers cannot see coming? according to the "new york times" report, the president's lawyer, former lawyer, john dowd, received these questions in early march when he was still the president's lawyer, the questions made john dowd more convinced that the president should 23409 sit for an interview with the special prosecutor. the times reports the president disaagreed with john dowd and john dowd announced he was leaving donald trump's legal team. joining us is the "new york times" reporter who helped break this story tonight. matt, i want to get you on the
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point of the authorship of the questions, the ones we're reading were actually written by the trump legal team after john dowd heard all of these questions verbally presented to him by the special prosecutor's office? is that how this list came to be? >> yeah i mean, so as mike was explaining to rachel, this is the result of this back and forth between the trump legal team and the mueller team. you know, in which mueller is trying to convince trump lawyers to let him sit down for this interview. as we describe in our story here tonight, the document that was provided to us was provided by somebody outside mr. trump's legal team. so i'm not going to get too in the weeds there. but, yeah, we condensed some of the language in our list, but, yeah, it's a good -- it's a
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pretty good takeaway that the list you're reading on the times website that we annotated is the list that was provided to the lawyers. >> is it a fair interpretation of the way you're describing the sourcing and the way the times is publically describing the source are we to take it the source is not the special prosecutor's office? >> i would just say the way it was described in the story is it was provided to the times by someone outside mr. trump's legal team. >> and what is the -- what do we know to be the trump legal team's reaction to these questions? >> i think one of the things to really keep in mind here is, it's not clear that the president is going to sit down with bob mueller. and these questions kind of show why it might be perilous to do so. so even though you have the
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president of the united states coming out publically saying i totally want to sit down with mueller, i think this is going to work out fine, i have nothing to hide and i would do it under oath. in reality, his lawyers recognize there are all sorts of problems here. not the least of which is this is a president who is known for being extremely hyperbolic and then saying things that just aren't true. trump doesn't know what every witness has said. so a lot of these questions are essentially mueller testing trump on what mueller already knows. so every question has its own pitfalls. i think that's why you see some of the lawyers saying, i don't think this is a very good idea. but the president goes back and
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forth on whether he actually wants to do it. >> matt, it's hard to imagine donald trump sitting down and reading every one of these questions, but have they been read to them? what do we know about the president's own personal knowledge of the questions? they've been available to him since march. >> i would have to know he's seen this document and not learning this tonight. there have been a lot of discussions with the president about testifying. so we -- i think we should assume that his lawyers have given him this list or at least verbally told him what's on the agenda. it's obviously -- you know, this has been reported in the times and elsewhere, that part of the goal for the trump legal team is to try to narrow this to try to narrow this scope and limit the exposure and limit the problems that the president might face if he did sit down with mr. mueller. >> matt, what do we know about any continuing negotiations on that front?
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>> we just saw, was it last week, last year, last month, that rudy giuliani was introducing himself to the mueller team and getting things back on track, so they appear to be live. whether that means also it's a go or whether they won't, i'm not sure. >> i know you were joking about the how long has it been since we discovered how long has it be -- rudy giuliani was on the legal team. it was last week. but it does feel like a month ago. >> i've been sitting at my computer all day long writing background for mueller questions. so forgive my account, sometimes the last year feels like a long ten years. >> we understand. rachel and i thank you for
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rewriting the two hours of coverage on nbc, which is about your coverage here tonight. thank you matt apuzzo. we appreciate it. we're joined by ron klain, and jennifer rubin and ruth marcus. ron i want to go to you, we've had time to read all of these questions. what do you make of the design? what designs do you see here in the pattern of these questions? >> lawrence, i think it's striking these questions have foundation, they are factual, fair and answering them would be fatal for donald trump. it is a very straightforward road map through things that are known here, interesting new revelation that paul manafort actually reached out to russia
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to see how it could work with the campaign, but the heart of this is taking the contradictory and inexplicable things that donald trump himself has said over the course of the past year and laying them out in a very straightforward, very factual way in a way that clearly president trump couldn't possibly explain. >> ruth marcus, also harvard law school graduate, so we have a full team here, the firm of kline, rubin and marcus. >> we get to argue who gets to have their name go first. >> we'll work that out. we have to do it alphabetical, i guess. ruth, i want to point out the various things here, the number of questions in here that exist only because of mistakes donald trump has publically made are quite stunning. he's being asked about tweets that he gave, he's being asked about statements he made in public interviews on subjects
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that he either should not have been interviewed about or should have had a better answer about. so much of this is donald trump being asked to explain donald trump. >> that's a very good point, lawrence. and it -- you know, to some extent, obstruction of justice is a crime -- or a potential crime of self-inflicted proportions, right. so all of these -- the majority of these questions really were both predictable and they're stunning as you see them laid out, what did you know about this, what was your intention in that, what was the point of this dinner? the one that really sticks out, that you've already identified, has to do with the what did you know about any reaching out to the russians and paul manafort. but so many of the rest of them really are about the hole that the president has helped to dig himself into. i think probably all of us on
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the -- in the law firm that we're not really a part of, would love to be taking the president's deposition and interviewing him on this, and i think probably speaking for my not law partners, we would be astonished, as ron said, if he ever would submit himself to questions like this. because it would be, if not fatal, very foolish to allow yourself to go down the road of being given the way he performs, being questioned by dogged prosecutors who are able to do the kinds of follow-ups that we as reporters on the rare moments we get to question the president are not able to do. that would be an extraordinary moment. >> we all know one of the most difficult questions for donald trump that you can ask him is anything that begins with, what did you mean when you said? so i want to go to one question. this is one of the most famous
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moments now in the trump self-incriminating presidency. one of the special prosecutor's questions is, what did you mean in your interview with lester holt about mr. comey and russia? and as we all consider what donald trump's answer to that question might be, let's take another look at what he said toe lester holt. >> regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. and, in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a madeup story. >> ron klain, how do you tell your client how to answer the question, what do you mean in your interview with lester holt? >> yeah, so lawrence, there's the old saying, it's not the crime, it's the cover up. in this case it's not mueller's investigation, it's the idiot he's investigating. trump said this in an interview
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with lester holt and laid out, he had gone through elaborate rituals to try to claim he was firing comey because of his handling of the e-mail investigation and then he says on television, i fired him because of the russia matter. what's interesting is if you look at all these questions, lawrence, the heart of the comey part of this is mueller going back and saying, hey, you know, here is this time period where comey had finished the e-mail investigation and you weren't going to him, and then you weren't going to fire him, and you weren't going to fire him, and all of a sudden after the russia thing heated up you fired him. i think the case laid out in these questions is a powerful case for the president having instructed justice. >> the use of the word idiot there is in reference to john kelly calling the president an idiot, it was not pulled out of the air. we're joined by pete
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williams. this is a list of questions that the origin is the special prosecutor's office, but these questions were verbally given to john dowd, the former lawyer for the president, they turned this into a written list of questions and that is the list that somehow made its way to the "new york times." john dowd has since left the president's leem team, no doubt retaining access to these questions, so the source of them sounds like it came from the trump side of the case. >> that's a good guess. we don't know that. my sense of looking at these questions is, if you had asked any reporter who's been covering this investigation from the beginning to draft a list of questions, it would look pretty mu much like this. what did you know about flynn's
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discussion with the russian ambassador, why was he fired. what did you mean by you better hope there were no tapes with james comey. what did you think about sessions recusal? did you think he would protect you? did you consider firing the special prosecutor. and then things that happened before the campaign, the 2013 meeting in russia. the 2016 meeting at trump tower. were you aware of of any discussions during the campaign of contacts with vladimir putin. you mentioned the interview with lester. he also wants to ask, according to the list, what did you mean when you told russian diplomats in may 2017, that firing james comey had taken the pressure off. so i think this is basically, it tells us what we thought mueller was looking into is what mueller is looking into. >> pete, there is the
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extraordinary question from the special counsel asking the president about firing the special counsel. the question is reported as, what consideration and discussions did you have regarding terminating the special counsel in june of 2017? and, pete, that's the kind of question where it is very likely that the special counsel has some kind of information indicating that the president did have such discussions with someone. >> well, of course, that's been publically reported that the white house counsel had sort of talked the president off the cliff about doing that. so there is a -- there is a -- as often happens in investigations we shouldn't be surprised about this, as reporters try to pry out what investigators are doing, investigators are also reading news reports independent of that and that's folding into their investigation. so it's sort of a two-way window. >> they're also reading the president's tweets. as we said a number of the
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questions in here are basically why did you say this, what were you thinking, and -- including a tweet in which the president seemed to be threatening james comey with the possibility of the so-called tapes. the special prosecutor wants to know, what was the purpose of your may 12th tweet, this is the may 12th tweet, james comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. and pete, the key word there is purpose. what was your purpose of that tweet? >> yes, of course. of course, mr. comey has said he hopes there are tapes because he believes they would back up his investigation of what happened. >> the question of purpose seems to be going toward that intent issue that the special counsel says this is why we need to talk to the president, we have to know his intent. was his intent, for example, in
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that tweet, to try to intimidate james comey from telling the truth? that seems to be what's behind their use of the word purpose there. >> i agree. they use a similar phrasing in all of the tweets, what was your purpose in sending these tweets, the tweets about comey, the tweets about sessions and the other criticisms he's had for people in the justice department, including rod rosenstein, although there isn't a question about rod rosenstein that i've seen in the list. >> pete williams, thank you for joining us tonight. i appreciate it. >> you bet. >> we're back with jennifer rubin, ron klain and ruth marcus. the word purpose keeps coming up with these questions. what was your purpose, what was your purpose, and that as i say is the issue of intent, why the special prosecutor is saying we have to have the conversation with the president, we have to know what he was intending in firing james comey. what he was intending and what
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he meant when he told the russians in the oval office the next day that the pressure was off because he fired james comey. >> right. a key element of the crime of obstruction of justice is a corrupt intent. and that's a synonym if you will for purposes of corrupt intent. the only reason that james comey was fired, according to donald trump, was because of the russia investigation. the corrupt intent being that the president wanted to get rid of an investigation into himself. and this goes to the point we were talking about earlier. if not for donald trump continually blcontinue wally blabbing about why he was doing something or what was bothering him, we wouldn't know this and the special prosecutor wouldn't vice mayor good questions to ask him. but because donald trump essentially cons at theed for the reasons of him doing
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something or other the special prosecutor has a way of following up. i would add a couple more points. one, some of these questions are likely to fall into attorney/client privilege if the discussions were held with a lawyer with donald trump. that doesn't necessarily shield questions between him and the white house counsel. if people are thinking he had the conversation with don mcgahn, don mcgahn is a lawyer, he doesn't have to talk about it, wrong he does. secondly, if donald trump chooses not to sit down, we're back to the question will he, in fact, receive a subpoena from the grand jury, and will we spend a few months up and down the federal courts as donald trump tries to litigate and escape the obligation to testify. the only alternative if that does not fail, refusing an interview, and getting out of a subpoena does not work, is for him to take the fifth amendment,
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and if that doesn't look like an unimaginable choice for the president of the united states, the chief executive, the person in charge of implementing the laws, i'm not sure what is. so i think there is -- he's in a box canyon, there's no real way out for him. it's going to be interesting to see which way he goes and what devices he tries to use. i would also add one last thing and that is there's nothing about -- aside from the reference to -- to russia and to the trump tower, there's really not a lot about trump's prior dealings with russia. it doesn't seem that he is looking for trump to confirm information about investments, money laundering and the rest. and we don't know why that is. it may be that his documentary evidence, he has other evidence or that's not really a concern with trump specifically. but that was noteworthy simply because it wasn't there. >> ruth marcus, that's another thing about this list. this is a kind of deliberately
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trimmed down list by the special counsel. they're trying to give the tightest list they possibly can. so there might be some areas in here they ever really minimizing and they're actually ready with a lot more follow-up wes aquest and that's the thing you discover when you get in the room with them. >> there's certainly follow-up questions and there may be areas that are not ripe for them to question the president about. it's been reported that mueller's plan is to first write a report on the obstruction related area of his investigation. so most of these questions go to the possibility of obstruction. there's some questions, certainly, about potential collusion earlier in the campaign. the thing that -- and during the election. the thing that really strikes me is how predicated, and ron mentioned this earlier, all of these questions are. these are not crazy, off the
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wall, fishing expedition questions. these are questions that any reasonable person who had the opportunity to ask them of the president would ask of the president. that said, i'm a little bit less convinced than jen is that we're going to see mueller taking the step, if president trump doesn't agree to voluntarily interview with the special counsel, to see mueller subpoenaing him and going up and down the federal court system only to get the likely result and certainly embarrassing result for the president of him taking the fifth. that is going to eat up a lot of time on the clock. i think the special counsel is aware that time is of the essence in an investigation like this. and if he thinks, at the end of the day, what he's going to get is a president in the position of taking the fifth amendment, he may just decide, say, okay, i had these questions, the
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president didn't answer them, i have the evidence that i'm going to get no matter what, here's my findings. >> i think when we -- a member of the -- the partners of the firm to con ffir on this one. i think mueller has to give it a chance. he has an obligation to get trump's side of the story, even if trump rebuffs him. it's going to be very hard for him to explain to the american people why he didn't seek to compel the president's testimony. i think that's a question mark. obviously he's going to have some discretion. i'm not sure time is such an essence for him. i'm not sure he wants this wrapped up, for example, before the november election. it might be in his interest, frankly, to have this slop over to next year. >> we have to squeeze in a quick break this year. thanks for getting us started in a quick pass on these questions. coming up jill wine banks will
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react to the list of questions that mueller wants to ask the president of the united states. and michael avenatti is here, he will join us with his latest move by the president of the united states. he is using an old trump play against donald trump. you introduce the all-new ford ecosport and surprise people with how much they can get in a small suv. that means more standard features and more upgrades for a lot less than expected. the all-new ecosport. it's the big upgrade in a small package. from ford, america's best-selling brand. see what you can get for under 20 grand with the all-new ecosport. see what you can get for under 20 grand a hilton getaway means you get more because... you get another day in paradise. get a sunset on a sunday. get more stories to share. get more from your summer getaway with exclusive hilton offers. book yours, only at
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[ child offscreen ] hey! let's basement. and thanks to these xfi pods, the signal reaches down here, too. so sophie, i have an xfi password, and it's "daditude". simple. easy. awesome. xfinity. the future of awesome. we're joined now by phone by former watergate prosecutor and msnbc contributor jill win-banks. jill, i wanted to get your reaction to the list of questions. you've seen lists of questions like this by prosecutors before,
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especially ones developed internally that are not shared to others. what do you see as the president's biggest challenge in the special prosecutor's questions to him? >> the biggest challenge to him is that he doesn't stick to the truth. these are very specific, very factual questions and it will be hard to just make up answers. he's going to have to deal with facts. and he also doesn't know what mueller actually knows about these facts. he doesn't know the testimony that mueller already has. so he could be walking into a very bad situation, where he will be saying something that he may actually even believe to be true, because as i said before, i think he has deluded himself into believing some of these things and they aren't true and the facts will be clear to mueller and that's a problem for him. i think the list is a very obvious list. i think pete williams said it very, very well. if you were a lawyer on his
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side, these are the questions you would have been preparing him for because they're quite obvious it would be the things you want to know. they do focus on intent, they do focus on obstruction. this could be a very major thing. i think it lays out a very good case for anyone who's paying attention for the american public to look at and say, goodness gracious is this what the president was doing. >> jill, there are several questions in here about the president's first national security advisor, michael flynn, who, of course, the president had to fire. michael flynn has already pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi and so, presumably, the special prosecutor already has answered from michael flynn about every question that the special prosecutor has for donald trump about michael flynn. fl for example, what efforts were made to michael flynn about
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seeking possibly immunity or possible pardon. now robert mueller already has information about that from michael flynn, doesn't he. >> absolutely. there was a lot of stories of john dowd having discussed pardons. so it's going to be hard to deny these things when the evidence is clear. i can't remember how long ago it was that rudy giuliani said i'll get this taken care of in a week or two, it'll be all wrapped up. i don't think we're anywhere near that, though. i want to be part of your law firm of rubin, kline and marcus. >> you're the senior partner. jill wine-banks thank you for joining us, i appreciate it. we're now joined by phone by congressman eric swalwell. congressman you're a former prosecutor, you had a chance to look at these questions. i want to ask you as a tactician
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in a legal practice, i think a lot of people watching tonight will think this gives the president a great advantage to be able to get these questions in writing ahead of time. what's your reaction to that? >> certainly, lawrence. i never want to hear again from the president that this is a witch hunt. he's getting the questions in advance. i've never done that before with any defendant or high-level witness i questioned. also that this is nothing more than an obstruction of justice hunt or a conspiracy hunt. so for all the fears out there this was about going way back into his questionable business dealings, this is a pretty straight forward investigation and it wants to know did you have knowledge of what the russians were doing when they were doing it, were you talking to them and mixing your political campaign with business dealings and once you were elected were you seeking to obstruct the investigation into what others were doing during the campaign. it's pretty straight forward. i don't see why he can't sit in
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that witness chair and answer the questions and finally come clean with the american people. >> the likelihood that the president would be able to tell the truth in any extended conversation with anyone has never been publically demonstrated that he can do three consecutive minutes without a script where he would actually not be lying. we've never seen him do that. >> no. he has never met, i think, the truth a day in his life. this is someone who, you know, time after time, you know, is not honest, you know, about who he has met with, who he has dealt with, and, you know, that's going to be a challenge for him. that's his problem. that's not bob mueller's problem. no one in congress, no lawyer can protect him from that, but he's the president of the united states now. and presidents don't take the fifth amendment, presidents come clean with the american people or they don't do the job anymore. that's what happened with richard nixon.
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he needs to decide what his priorities are because all of this is affecting his ability to lead the people he promised their lives would be better because he was in office. >> congressman swalwell thank you for joining us and covering this breaking news. coming up, stormy daniels's lawyer, michael avenatti has a new lawsuit tonight. and we'll get michael avenatti's opinion on the appearance of michael cohen in the list of the special prosecutor's questions. liberty mutual stood with me when this guy got a flat tire in the middle of the night.
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if there is a me too movement of people suing donald trump for lying about them, donald trump is going to be in court for the rest of his life. threatening people with lawsuits for lying about donald trump used to be a donald trump and michael cohen specialty and donald trump's threats were effective about scaring people. donald trump tried it with me in the second year of the show, saying i heard that lawrence has made many false statements about me last night maybe i should sue him. i was the only person on tv calling him a liar when he spoke of president obama's birth certificate. that was shocking to him because no one attacked him on television before, no one called him a liar the way everyone does now. and it was more shocking to donald trump that i was not intimidated by his threat to sue me and i dared him to sue me so
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i could get him under oath in a deposition and, of course, he never mentioned suing me again. so tonight there is an irony in watching donald trump's tactics be used against him. and this time it's by someone who's not using the donald trump investigation of the game. a couple weeks ago michael avenatti threatened to sue donald trump for defamation. and today michael avenatti filed that lawsuit here in federal court in "new york timenew yorkg that many he defamed stormy daniels. the lawsuit files said mr. trump's statement is false and defamatory by calling the incident a con job. mr. trump's statement would be understood to state that ms. clifford was fabricating the crime and the existence of the assail quantity. both of which are prohibited under new york law as well as
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the law of numerous other states. it was apparent that mr. trump meant to convey that ms. clifford is a liar. michael avenatti will join us on this and the mueller questions to donald trump. >> vo: these neighbors are starting right. miracle-gro guarantees results with rich potting mix and essential plant food for three times the blooms. success is sweet. miracle-gro. three times the beauty. one powerful guarantee.
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joining our discussion now michael avenatti, the attorney for stormy daniels and jonathan kapart. michael, we thought about an hour before the show we were going to be talking to you about the new developments with you
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suing donald trump, and we're going to do that, but i want to talk about michael cohen's appearance in the special prosecutor's list of questions for the president. because this is relevant to all that evidence that's been gathered in the case here in new york in the southern district, which was prevogued apparently by your lawsuit. and one of the questions is what communication did you have with michael d. cohen, felix sater and others including foreign nationals about russian real estate developments during the campaign? what's your reaction to that question given what we know about all the evidence the fbi seized from michael cohen? >> my reaction is clearly they know the answer to that question. they know the predicate, namely that there were such communications. now they're trying to get at the extent of those communications, trying to test the evidence or the veracity, i should say of
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mr. trump. i've been saying this for a while, the amount of evidence obtained by those significant, a mountain of evidence. it's pervasive. it's electronic. it's hard copy. and when michael cohen flips on the president, he's going to flip on the president not only relating to the stormy daniels situation, not only relating to a host of things we've never even talked about because we don't even know about, there's no question about that. but clearly also as it relates to the ukraine and russia situation from these questions. >> here's what's so striking about this question also, jonathan capehart, is that this question was provided to john dowd in early march, long before the fbi raids of michael cohen's office, his home, his hotel room. so they knew back then, if you take this -- what michael is saying about this question, that there's some kind of communication. their question is what communications did you have with
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michael cohen, felix sater, and others, including foreign nationals, about russian real estate developments during the campaign? and so it could be that what robert mueller already knows about that is part of what he was referring when he referred the case to the southern district of new york to say, you better go and raid that place because there's stuff up there that you have to get now. >> right. it seems to me that these questions and what you just laid out in your question to me shows once again that bob mueller, special counsel mueller, knows everything. he is the closest we are going to come to a god-like figure, omniscie omniscient. tough competition, but we're talking about two different investigations here. >> right. >> so with mueller, he knows everything, and as michael said, they know the answer to that question. you know, there's that saying that a lawyer never asks a question he doesn't already have
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the answer to. it sounds as though special counsel mueller has all the answers and maybe this is exactly why john dowd doesn't want the president to talk to mueller. he knows that the president -- and we've seen it for a year and a half. he can't -- one, can't tell the truth. but, two, he cannot answer a question, any of these questions, truthfully. he'll totally get himself in trouble. this is a man who spent decades in new york bluffing and blustering his way through life. he tried to bluster you into standing down and saying i'm going to sue you. >> right. >> but you stood your ground, and you saw what happened. nothing. can't do that when you're up against mueller. can't do that when you're president of the united states. >> michael, michael cohen's name appears twice in these questions. now, when donald trump first saw those questions in march, he already, according to "the wall street journal" reporting, didn't trust michael cohen. he already -- his attitude
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toward michael cohen was he's in a bull in the china shop. he causes more trouble sometimes when he's trying to solve a problem, he causes bigger problems. so he already had that view of michael cohen. now after the michael cohen raid, when donald trump looks at michael cohen's name appearing repeatedly in robert mueller's questions, it has to scare donald trump all the more. >> well, lawrence, i mean the pucker factor that must be apparent with mr. trump at this point relating to mr. cohen is probably immeasurable. and each day it gets even worse and worse. i mean we saw that -- we saw now -- or we see an attempt by mr. trump through, you know, his friends at the "national enquirer" to start undermining the credibility of michael cohen by calling him a liar, et cetera. >> here, the "national enquirer" cover, which is controlled by donald trump, is attacking michael cohen this week. >> and you're going to see -- i'm going to predict that you're going to see in the coming days
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and weeks an even further effort by donald trump to distance himself from michael cohen because it is becoming apparent to him, something we've been talking about for a long time on this show, lawrence, michael cohen is going to roll over on the president, and he wants to try to undermine his credibility. and i'm going to predict within the next two to three weeks, mr. trump is going to be openly attacking michael cohen as being, you know, dishonest and a liar, et cetera, because he knows exactly where this is going. >> let me get you on the new case you filed today saying that donald trump called your client a liar. by the way, i want to point out the media does not understand this. donald trump has never said, i did not have sex with stormy daniels. he has never denied having that encounter with her, ever, and that's why that's not one of the elements of your defamation, because he's never lied about or tried to call her a liar about that. he's only called her a liar about the sketch and nothing else. >> and he claims that this man
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that my client has talked about repeatedly, and i think she's 100% credible about what happened in las vegas. mr. trump came out and by way of this tweet, and called him nonexistent, basically said it didn't happen. well, i've got a question. very simple one. if mr. trump never had a relationship with my client, if mr. trump never knew anything about the vegas incident, if mr. trump knew nothing about the agreement, knew nothing about the payment, michael cohen did everything on his own and basically knew nothing about stormy daniels, then how does mr. trump know if the man is nonexistent or not? it doesn't make any sense, lawrence. it makes zero sense. very simple question. another question he can't answer. and they're just making it up as they go along. >> jonathan, which questions would you rather answer if you were donald trump? michael avenatti's or robert mueller's? >> um, neither. not a chance. >> we're going to have to leave it there. thank you both for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. we're going to be right back. that make the difference. only botox® cosmetic is fda approved
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that's tonight's last word. two of the reporters who broke "the new york times" story tonight about robert mueller's questions for the president will be joining brian in "the 11th hour" with brian williams, which starts now. the breaking news we're covering tonight. blockbuster reporting from "the new york times." a list of questions robert
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mueller wants to ask president trump. two pulitzer prize winning "new york times" reporters standing by to talk with us. also an nbc news exclusive. white house chief of staff john kelly quoted as calling the president an idiot and telling colleagues, we've got to save him from himself. and more legal drama for this president as stormy daniels files another lawsuit because of what the president said about her. "the 11th hour" on a busy monday night begins now. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 466 of the trump administration, and as we've been saying, we have breaking news in the form of a remarkable piece of journalism from "the new york times," which has obtained the list of 49 questions that special counsel robert mueller has recently provided to president trump's lawyers. questions that mueller wants answered in an interview with the president. the "times"