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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  May 29, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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in the eye and take him down, face-to-face, matching him point for point, hopefully with the added weapon of the truth. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. join me again tomorrow night at 7:00 eastern. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. pretty much every day this year has brought new and dramatic stories about the presidency of donald j. trump, the investigation into the president and his allies, and the white house's ongoing attacks on the rule of law. tonight in a trio of interviews with some of the central figures in the story line, beginning with my latest conversation with former trump foreign policy adviser carter page, a man who famously admitted for the very first time on this program last year that he did indeed meet with russian ambassador sergey kislyak during the 2016 republican national convention. >> i'm just trying to get a straight answer. did you meet sergey kislyak in cleveland? did you talk to him?
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>> i'm not going to deny that i talked with him. although i did -- i will say i never met him anywhere outside of cleveland. let's just say that much. >> the only time that you met him was in cleveland. >> i may have met him possibly, it might have been in cleveland. >> let me ask -- let me start with this. as mueller -- i know you talked to the fbi, right? >> absolutely, yes. >> which has been disclosed leaked to "the washington post"" that's been out there. >> so have they ever asked you about that meeting in the rnc? >> i told them a lot of everything i had essentially been doing for quite a long time, including obviously, you know, everything in cleveland. >> so you did talk than? yes? >> yes. >> the person you say brought you on to the campaign, right, new york state republican party official named cox, is that correct? >> chairman of the republican party, yeah. >> chairman of the republican party. sam nunberg recently -- you know
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know sam nunberg. >> i've heard of him. i never crossed paths with him. >> he said lewandowski brought you on to the campaign. >> i have no comments about that. the problem with that -- >> wait a minute. you told me it was cox. >> he introduced me to people. and i stated that too to house intel committee as well, yep. >> point being it's not mutually exclusive. cox could have introduce you'd to lewandowski who then makes the ultimate decision? is that a safe assumption? >> i don't assume anything. >> did it happen? i'm just asking you. >> here is the problem, chris. we've talked about this previously, right, where people sort of make stories out of nothing, right? >> yeah. i'm not saying it's like incriminatory. i'm just asking a factual question. like who brought you on to the campaign. it was lewandowski? >> ed introduced me to a few people and i had conversations with various people, yeah. in terms of campaign, remember, i'm a volunteer.
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>> totally, yes. >> i was never paid one cent. >> right. >> i never gave anything to anyone in the campaign in terms of money or contributions or anything. so it was a pretty loose, you know -- it's like someone volunteering in any campaign. >> i want to talk about two memos that you're writing back to the campaign. i know how these circles work. there have these volunteer things. you'll hop on calls. campaigns will have their telecommunications advisers and then have a big call about what is our policy on net neutrality, that sort of thing. this is sort of what you were doing. >> styles. >> campaign adviser carter page presented for gatherings at the school in moscow we know, this including the 2016 commencement ceremony, russian prime minister and board member arkady sdvorkovich. he expressed strong support for mr. trump and a desire to work together for devising better solutions in response to the vast range of international problems. you wrote that? >> i think that's a little
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segment. >> right. >> a long, you know, relatively longer document. >> but that's accurate. he did express strong support for trump to you? >> he -- we had a very brief hello, you know. it's similar to, you know, you mentioned attorney general sessions. >> right. >> and ambassador kislyak in cleveland. those two, they walked by each other on the way out. >> right. >> then senator sessions was walking out of that meeting that cited in the reuters report, and that was it. it was a brief -- from what i saw. it's a massive -- >> i'm talking about you. >> it's the same thing, right? i had a brief hello to him as i was walking out. but i listened to him. he spoke at the same event where i spoke, right? and he gave a lot of interesting insights in terms of -- >> the russian perspective.
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totally. no, no, no. i mean this. about a relationship that's deeply broken in many ways. >> it was more about ways forward for the russian economy, and, you know, the world economy if you will. >> but i guess my question to you, here is the thing. here is the thing we're having a hard time on the outside of this. >> sure. >> and you feel like things get manipulated. but it really does seem like you've got a deputy foreign minister telling you he supports trump. >> he did not directly use those words. i am interpreting a lot of things that i'm hearing. >> but then it sort of feels like are you sort of inflating your importance back to the campaign? >> i was not -- i think you're not reading the full context of that. i was talking about discussion. you know, it was input i had from a lot of people. you're cherry picking. >> no, i'm quoting you. he expressed strong support for mr. trump. >> he expressed strong support for policies that i think
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aligned well, you know, some of the things -- some of the important steps, some of the important possibilities that were things that then candidate trump was talking about. but, you know, it was in the macro -- >> the macro? >> the macro, you know, view of the world economy and the russian economy. again, this is a speech. >> right. >> to graduate students. >> at economic. >> at economists. this is my interpretation. i will also note, chris, i wrote that memo. >> yes. >> sitting at jfk airport after taking a ten-hour flight and then flying back. >> right. >> to london. i wasn't able to get a direct flight. so this is, you know, just sitting in the waiting area, you know, right near the gate at jfk airport, putting together some thoughts. you know, the fact that i would
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be talking with you on national television, you know, almost two years later, after having on day where i'm traveling 8,000 miles and just putting out some basic ideas of my interpretation. >> right. right. it seems from your perspective -- from my interpretation of your perspective, there is a very profound sense of how did i end up here, right? is that a fair? >> chris, there is a great quote from your book. >> you brought my book to the interview. >> you say for subjects of authoritarian rule, humiliation is the permanent state of existence. page 71. it's been a complete -- >> you think we live in authoritarian rule? >> it's interesting. on your privatization discussion with dr. shulkin, there is debates as to what should be privatize and what should not be. that's a policy discussion. what's interesting in 2016 is the cia and the fbi, nsa, some of their key functions, not to mention doj were for all intents
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and purposes privatized by the dnc with this fake dodgy dossier which is then leading to abuse of process in federal courts. which is a really big deal. >> let's talk about -- your big complaint is the nunes memo is the foreign surveillance warrant issued against you was wrong. it was improper. it should never have been issued against you and that it shouldn't have been subsequently renewed multiple times, right? that's your contention. >> from -- i can't imagine anything which could possibly warrant such a warrant. >> do you -- are you on the same page? my feeling about it is i just want to know -- i want to read the warrant. >> absolutely. >> just to declassify the warrant. let carter page and chris hayes and everyone else read it and come to a determination about whether it was proper or whether it was improper. >> which is -- we're completely on the same page. you know, many people have been working on this. there is a number of nonprofit organizations, yale law school,
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"new york times" have a big case. >> to try to that warrant. >> a lot of people. unfortunately, what we've had so far is some of the most disclosure has happened in other courts where, you know, a billionaire russians or multimillionaire russians who are suing buzzfeed are getting a lot more disclosure than even the house intelligence committee was able to get for a long time. so i'm pretty excited that as more of these details come out, some of the court battles will start being handled more fairly. >> final question. have you talked to anyone in the white house in the last year? >> not in the last year, nope. >> in the first year? >> no, not that i can think of. >> you sure? >> not that i can think of, no. again, i mentioned -- because it was forced out of me in the house intelligence committee with the -- in this eight-hour day. >> right.
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>> where i'm just being grilled nonstop that, you know, i had a brief conversation with steve bannon and things like that. >> he told you not to come on my show. >> it wasn't your show. >> oh, okay. i don't feel as insulted by steve bannon then. all right, carter, it's good to see you. >> great to see you too, chris. >> and i hope things go well for you. i hope we end up getting to read your warrant. i think we're both on the same page than. >> i hope so. well, there is some talk about late july that there is even doj is kind of talking than. there has been some reports so we'll see. >> you can come back and we'll go through together. carter page, good to see you, great to see you, chris. up next, my conversation with another key figure in the trump russia orbit, convicted former spy and trump business partner felix sater. stay with us.
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is perhaps no more mysterious and compelling figure in the trump russia orbit than felix sater, the man who tried to build trump tower moscow. a soviet-born businessman has
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quite a resume. he spent a year in prison for slashing a man's face in a bar fight and was convicted for his role in a mafia-linked stock fraud scheme. he was also remarkably an intelligence operative for the u.s. government, who among other things obtained osama bin laden's phone numbers before september 11th. sater partnered with trump on a string of real estate projects. in 2015, he wrote an e-mail to michael cohen vowing to build trump tower moscow with vladimir putin's help. sater writing, he will get putin on this program and we will get donald elected. >> what kind of man are you, felix sater? >> i guess complex, to say the least. you know, i'm an immigrant that came to this country at the age of 7, grew up here, went to school. >> right. >> went on to work on wall street. i had a very successful career on wall street as a young man. unfortunately, one night in a drunken bar brawl, one guy went
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for a beer bottle. i went for a margarita glass. and that changed the trajectory of my life. >> you did a year for that? >> i went to jail and i did a year for that bar fight. when i came out, i had no money, a young child, had no money. and in a moment of weakness, nothing that i am proud of then or now or have i ever been got involved in the stock scam, which is the shady side of wall street, which is something that was devastating to me because i had planned to have a very successful wall street creek, and i did that for less than two years. left voluntarily on my own, got out of it, and because i just hated it. i despised every day and every minute of it. and when i used to go to sleep, i used to hate it. >> let me ask you this. how did you meet donald trump? >> i -- we formed the company in 2000 to do real estate.
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>> that was in his office? >> no. we were in the building. we were in trump tower. we were on the 24th floor. the trump organization is on the 26th floor. i basically knocked on his door, said i think we should become partners. i have great real estate deals. i'm going to be a very successful developer and you want to work with me. >> it's a trr jumpian move. >> i don't know. i think it was a very felixian move. >> did you guys get along? >> yes. >> how would you characterize your relationship? >> friendly. >> talked lot? >> sometimes a lot. >> when you were working on a deal, talked a lot, talked on the phone? talked in person? >> mostly in person. i was two doors down. i would just go upstairs and speak to him. >> one of the things you do where the threats come together, you're working on trump moscow? >> no. we're now speaking about 1997-'98. >> as a person who has contacts in russia you speak fluent russian. >> yes. >> later in your life you sort of become a business partner with donald trump. you guys work on ft. lauderdale. >> ft. lauderdale, phoenix,
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trump soho, a whole host of other places. >> you end up working on trump moscow. that is an important project that produced the e-mails that everyone now knows about. it's the project that a lot of people are curious about. and i want to ask you about your involvement in that project and what happened with it if you stick around, after this break. >> all right. felix sater.
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>> all right. felix sater. you're trying to do business in trump. at one point you're over there with the trump kids, right? >> yes. >> with ivanka and don jr. >> yes. >> how connect ready you in russia at this point?
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>> i know some business people there. i know enough business people to try to put together a deal, plus i speak russian, plus i have no problem knocking on somebody's door and saying hi, i'm here and we're going to build something beautiful and let's do business. >> the trump moscow deal you're pursuing, that e-mail -- here is the way people read that e-mail. >> right. >> basically, there is some back story here in which the deal is part of the election interference there some quid pro quo or there is some idea. and here is the one -- we talked than we can get our buddy elected. but here is the one i think is interesting in "the new york times" characterizing e-mails. eager to show video clips of mr. trump speaking glowingly about russia and arrange for mr. putin to praise putin's business act men. if he says it, we own this election. >> yes. i did write that, yes. >> why in these e-mails? there is two of them here. >> right. >> why are you guys making this connection between building this building in russia and his electoral success?
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>> me personally, i was trying to build the tallest building in the world or in europe. >> but why is donald trump going to be elected president if he builds a building in europe, in moscow? >> because doing a gigantic deal, it would have looked good. it was good for business. it could have potentially ushered in an era of detente or goodwill between the nations because a businessman came in and it's better than politicians. >> at no point -- at any point did any russian communicate to you interest in cultivating donald trump on behalf of the russians, russian governments, kremlin-friendly forces? >> i have risked my life to try to protect our country for over 20 years in situations and places that would make your hair stand on ends. the insinuation that i would get together with anyone, especially russia, of all places, or any other country in the world for the detriment of our country is not only insulting, but laughable.
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>> that may be the case. but not an answer to the question. >> i'll be more than happy to answer your question. >> did anyone ask -- suggest to you an interest in cultivating donald trump on behalf of either the kremlin, kremlin-allayed forces, russian intelligence, when you were working on this moscow deal. >> absolutely. no. >> was it ever communicated to you that they were interested in donald trump for reasons other than business? >> absolutely not. >> why does the deal fall through in moscow? >> because the trump organization announced that they were not going to do any more international deals. >> did you seek to acquire funding through russian banks for the deal? >> to build a building like that in moscow, the only bankious go to our russian banks. >> was one of them vtb? >> yes, it was. >> so you did seek to acquire funding through vtb? >> there was a developer -- it wasn't my deal. i put the deal together. i came to michael cohen who is an old and dear friend. part of the e-mails is i've known him since i was a teenager. so it's basically two old
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friends saying hey, our guy can become president. we were excited. it wasn't something surreptitious. it was two guys who knew each other over 30 years excited that somebody they work with was running for president. >> i've heard you say that before. >> that's true. >> and i understand that. >> but you're a very -- you're not a kid and you're not a naive dude. >> no, of course, of course. >> you've just told me you've been in situations your hair stands on end. the idea that this would just -- do you understand why people might be skeptical this is just giddy enthusiasm? >> yes, i'm sure they are. and the e-mails may sound damning. but at the end of the day, it was e-mails between two friends about a real estate transaction. and me from my perspective, from my side, i'm trying to build a billion dollar deal. so the reality is putin, trump, and if i knew people in china, i would have tried to get the premier of china involved and get a trifecta going. >> let me make sure i nail this down.
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you said you put the deal together. it wasn't your deal. a developer in russia was looking to vtb for financing. >> i had a local developer there and i had the trump organization here, and i was in the middle. and the local developer there would have gotten financing from vtb and/or another russian bank, but vtb at that point was the go-to bank for real estate development. that's why vtb. >> your business has been sued before, bayrock. >> yes. >> and i want to read you part of that lawsuit. >> sure. >> and i know you deny. this but i want to get you on record. >> no problem. no problem. >> in a lawsuit that was filed by someone, bayrock was the group that helped trump develop soho here in new york city. someone said tax evasion and money laundering are the core of bayrock's business model. the lawsuit allegations. it said trump soho specifically which you also developed with the president was spectacularly corrupt money laundering and tax evasion. >> yes. it was an employee who first
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reemped out the me who said let's get money from your partner and from the law firms, and he sued me and 12 other law firms, and over 100 individuals for $1 billion. subsequently in that lawsuit, a federal judge referred the lawyers who were handling that for criminal prosecution to the u.s. attorney's office. >> you think this -- that's not a denial, though. >> it's an absolute denial. 100% denial. >> did bayrock ever launder money? >> absolutely not. >> did the trump soho deal depend on money that was being used, purchases that were being used to mask transactions for the purpose of laundering? >> no, absolutely not. >> you can know that definitively? >> well, us building the building and the money that it came from came from tom sapire. who was a very large land owner in new york. the buyers of those units some of them are llcs, you don't know
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who the owners are. you don't know who is behind it. but whether we were involved in selling to someone for the purpose of masking anything, absolutely not. >> how interested is donald trump on the people on the other side of the deal? >> like any developer, very little. if they bring a check to buy an apartment and the check clears, they're a good customer. >> that's his m.o.? >> no. that's every developer in new york's mvrmt o. >> not every developer in new york has run for president. >> true. >> all of the sudden you take that m.o. and put it in a situation, would you take a meeting to get dirt on your opponent, right? >> i don't know. i'm not a politician. i'm assuming every politician would, but i don't know. >> my question, having worked with the guy, is he the kind of person who would be open to that kind of thing? >> i don't believe that donald trump would. open to what type of thing, moneylaundering? >> accepting dirt from a foreign adversary on his opponent. i'm asking about the president, someone whose character you know, someone whose business m.o. you know and just described
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as a person in a development situation who if the other person on the side of the deal check clears, he doesn't want to ask any questions. my question to you, in a political context, if the person on the other side of the deal offering dirt on his opponent, is he the kind of person who says i don't want to know where this came from, but i'll take it. >> i guess from the reports that happened, obviously the answer is yes. >> for don jr. i'm talking about the president. >> i don't know if i can answer that. i don't know if i could answer that question. i don't believe that donald trump would ever meet or collude with a foreign power against our country. i certainly would never even speak to him if i ever thought that was the case. i don't believe that other than getting dirt on an opponent, that it was thought through a lot. i don't believe the idea was thought through of where it was coming from, who it was coming from. it was political. oh we got dirt on our opponent. great. let's take it. >> do you believe the russians meddled with the election? >> 100%. >> what's your thoughts on that? >> i think they attacked us. it's ab an act of war, and i'm
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absolutely disgusted that our politicians are have a one and a half year postmortem about how they meddled and what they meddled. i grew up in brooklyn. somebody attacks you, you punch them back, not once, but twice. at this point, doing something about it is very important for america to show everyone don't mess with us. >> so why is the man you worked with that you know, why is he not? >> you're going to have to ask him that question. >> but i'm asking you, because you worked with him. i didn't. >> i worked with a lot of people. i can't speak for all of them. >> but you knew something about the way the guy omps, right? >> i believe so. >> let me put hit the way. there is a is up siran of some that the reason he has not acted more forcefully against russia is they either have something on him or he was engaged in a quid pro quo. is that a possibility? >> i don't believe so. i wasn't part of the campaign. i wasn't part of the election. and i was out the trump organization in 2010 that was years before. and i only showed up just to do
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the trump moscow deal. i don't believe so, but i wasn't there, and i don't know. and if i don't believe so, but if you showed me proof that it happened, i would certainly take a look at it, of course. >> one of the things the president says i got no deals in russia. and that's true. he doesn't have deals in russia. no building bearing his name. the question everyone wants to know, is there russian money in his properties, right? the question is was russian money directed into his properties? was it money that passed through different llcs? do you know the answer to that? >> to his properties? >> yeah. >> i have an assumption about that. for anyone in russian government to pass money through to the trump organization through his properties which had to have happened way before the election, i doubt anyone has a crystal ball and truly believed that one day this developer is going to be the president of the united states, so let's start funneling money to him. >> but they did take an interest in him. >> who? >> the russians. they bring him over for the
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pageant. >> yes, of course. but that was business. >> well, wait a second, wait a second. this story begins with you telling me you're in a business meeting in russia and an american intelligence guy pulls you into the bathroom and tells you these are all hiring operatives. you can't just turn around and say that was business. it seems like business and other things are pretty intertwined in russia. >> yes, they are, 100%, 100%. >> donald trump is going and doing the pageant in moscow with the agalarovs, they got people in the room. >> 100%. >> did you know the agalarovs? >> i met one of them, but i don't know them personally well at all. >> you know them? >> one of them a dinner party in moscow. >> this is my final question for you. >> sure. >> it's established that you worked with the government as an intelligence asset, right? >> yes. >> there is no parenthesis, no
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bookend, no close on that relationship, correct? >> no, there is no bookend and close in. and i would work with my government in any capacity that they would ask me today, tomorrow, until the day i die. >> you worked for the fbi? >> yes, i did. >> you worked with andrew weissmann. >> yes, i did. >> who is a lawyer at the doj. >> yes. he sign mid cooperation agreement. >> andrew weissmann now works for robert mueller? >> yes, he does. >> people look at this and maybe start to think two and two equals four. you're a guy who knows how to talk to people and mass information along. you a relationship with the fbi and a relationship with andrew weissmann. andrew weissmann is currently working for robert mueller. are you working for robert mueller? >> i'm not working for robert mueller, nor have i ever worked for robert mueller? >> have you cooperated with the fbi in its investigation? >> i'm sorry, i can't answer any questions about any investigations they're happening. that's not for me to say. >> do you understand why people might come to that conclusion? >> of course. that doesn't mean that it's true, just because they come to conclusion? >> felix sater. you can read more about his
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pretty incredible life on buzzfeed. and you're welcome to come back on the show. >> i would like to say is all i can say after so much terrible things written about me, i'd like to thank anthony cormier and jason leopold -- >> you're trying to clear your name? that's what you're doing. >> i'm not trying to clear my name. i'm just trying to give everyone a full picture of what i've done, a full picture so there can be a balance instead of just reporting what i did in any 20s and i'm 52 years old and reporting them as it happened last tuesday, which it did. >> there is a lot. >> yes, there is a lot. >> thank you for coming by. i really appreciate it. come back. >> thank you. coming up, eric holder on donald trump's attacks on the justice department and the rule of law. that's next.
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a man who used to lead the department of justice, former attorney general eric holder has watched as president trump has repeatedly attacked the doj, and in the process, undermined the rule of law in an effort to save his own skin. >> they have this witch-hunt going on with people in the justice department that shouldn't be there. they have a witch-hunt against the president of the united states going on. >> you're here at this table at a time that many people feel the republic is in peril, and that we're nearing a crisis point. do you feel that way? >> i think i've said this, and i don't think it's hyperbolic that i think our democracy is under attack. if you look at the question of gerrymandering, the question of voter suppression, if you look at the way in which the norms that have normally kind of cabined the way in which
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government interacts with the people, the way in which people in government interact with each other. a lot of these things are fall big the wayside. >> what do you say to the people who say well, it's all held so far. the country hums along, and unemployment is low, and robert mueller is continuing. look, you talk about independence at the justice department. sdny raided the president's lawyer the other day. it looks like everything is actually functioning. >> our systems are holding, but they're certainly being pressure tested. and that's not necessarily a good thing. i mean, the fact that we have the ability to say that a lot of this pressure is being placed on these systems, and that they are standing in place, it's not necessary in a normal situation. that pressure should not be applied to the situations, the institutions in the way that they have been. >> does the president have the authority to fire rod rosenstein? >> yes. yeah, he could do that. >> would that be -- would that constitute in your mind more obstruction to do that?
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>> not by itself to obstruction. the question would be what was his intent in doing. so but it would play into a narrative that i think leads one to conclude that the president probably has engaged in some obstructive behavior. >> you know, james comey obviously making the rounds this week and someone that you worked with had interactions with in government. what is your assessment of his character and his truthfulness? >> i think he is a truthful person. i think he is a man of honor, a person of integrity. i think he is also a person who made some really serious mistakes. i wrote an article after he held that -- after he released that material in which i said that good men can make mistakes. and i think that's what happened to jim in 2016. but in terms of his credibility, i think that that is a touchstone for him. he tells the truth.
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>> one of the things about watching mueller go to work right now, it sometimes feels to me is it true that there is just a bunch of really egregious white collar crime that is just hanging out there that is not prosecuted? paul manafort's pattern of doing what he was doing with his various bank accounts and business dealings, it was out there in the public. nyc reported on it. and here comes mueller. he puts down the tracks that they're reporting on it. should i think that there is a lot of stuff like this that isn't being prosecuted or is there something special happening around the president and his people? >> i'm not sure about that. i think there is a s a lot of crime that happens generally that doesn't get reported. people are stealing things at grocery stores there are people doing things in banks that they shouldn't be doing. >> a lot of drugs moving around that never get busted. >> yeah. but when it comes to the things that are truly consequential, truly important, i think that law enforcement generally, generally, not all the time, but generally focuses its attention
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on those kinds of matters and a generally holds people to account. >> what is mueller's strategy here, as you watch it develop? >> i think this is a classic case. he is building from the bottom up, you know. and people have to understand that this is going to take some time. we're only about a year or so into this. from my view of this, i always thought this was about a two-year case. >> really? >> yeah. but i think they've been moving almost at light speed what they have done in that first year. but this is building from the bottom up. you build the cases that you can and try to flip people until you work your way up to the top. it's a classic corruption case. >> i want to play you something that mitch mcconnell said about protecting mueller, and i thought it was interesting about whether there would be legislation introduced there has been some movement in the judiciary committee. there has been some interest from tom till it will son. this is what mitch mcconnell had to say.
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let's take a listen. >> there is a move afoot among some of your colleagues just to make sure the president doesn't get rid of mueller to institutionally shield mueller from being fired. how do you feel than? >> well, that's not necessary. there is no indication that mueller is going to be fired. i don't think the president is going to do that. and just as a practical matter, even if we passed it, why would he sign it? i'm the one who decides what we take to the floor. that's my responsibility as majority leader, and we'll not be having this on the floor of the senate. >> what do you think of that? >> you don't build a hurricane wall when you see katrina five miles out from the shore, you know. i think there is a basis for us to conclude that bob mueller potentially could be fired by this president. so let's put in place mechanisms that would prevent that from happening. you think about the chaos that would be unleashed in this country, the constitutional crisis that this nation would have to face and undoubtedly we'd have to try to endure. you can take this preventative
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measure that would stop all of that in its tracks. >> why do you think they won't do it? >> i think that they are afraid of angering the trump base, which is the republican base. and we can't make that distinction anymore. this notion that there is a trump base, which is different from the republican base is inconsistent with all the polling i think that we've seen. they are concerned about making sure that their base comes out, that their base votes in november, that their base is behind them, that people who still have to deal with primaries, and i think at some basic level, at some basic level, they're afraid of them. >> do you understand that base is motivated primarily or in large part by racial animus? >> no, i'm not sure about that. i think there is a lot of fear that this president has certainly stoked, and he has certainly used race as a mechanism to engender that fear. but i don't think that is a primary motivator of the trump base. >> what about jeff sessions? >> you know, he is -- he is an
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interesting case. he's a person i think who is kind of stuck in the 1980s, you know, in the failed policies of that era. the notion that we want to get as many people as we can, put them in jail for as long as we can and think that that in and of itself is the way to keep the american people safe, without looking at all of the things that have happened since then. >> does it strike you there is a contradiction about the way the president talks of the rule of law when it's people like rob porter who was accused of domestic violence by two different women and he talked there is no due process for him and he talks about how there is no attorney-client privilege. he is a liberal bleeding hart public defender minded person talking about due process and protections for people in his inner circle. and when he talks about drug dealers, he says we should execute drug dealers and deport all these immigrants. how do you make sense of the two different ways the president talks about law and order? >> he believes in situational law and order.
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there is no way you can resolve the tension you just described. he is not a believer in the rule of law. he wants to make sure that those people who he likes, the people who support him are treated in one way, and those other people, whoever those other people are treated in a different way. >> we're going to now do something slightly strange, which is going to play a game of eric holder, this is your life. >> okay. >> with an individual you worked with who is going to come join the table who is a friend of the show. matt miller is going to join us. we're going to talk what is going on in that department of justice right now and the attacks that are happening on it. >> good. >> stay with us if you would, and you as home as well. we'll be right back. but one blows them all out of the water. hydro boost from neutrogena®. with hyaluronic acid to plump skin cells so it bounces back. neutrogena®
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we are back with my guest, former attorney general eric holder. also joining me msnbc justice analyst matt miller, who is chief spokesperson at the department of justice when holder was the attorney general. we talk a lot in this news cycle about the independence of the
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justice department, and it's a word that has a lot of force and meaning. but i think for people that are outside it, what does that actually mean? day to day, live reality, how you think about it in the culture of the place when you were there in the obama administration. >> given the power that the attorney general has, the ability to deprive people of their liberty, the ability to actually execute people, that power has to be used in a way that is independent of any political influence. and so on a day-to-day basis, we were -- we made sure that we made our decisions on the basis of the law and the facts without any consideration of what the white house wanted us to do. sometimes to the detriment of the relationship that we had with the white house. white hous now, anything that was necessarily expressed directly to me, but things that i heard, you know, maybe some time thereafter. because i think in the obama administration, the president realized that an independent justice department was something that was important. >> what did it mean to you when you were there, matt?
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>> you know, i came to the justice department from politics and learned pretty early that you had to look at this job differently than any job you'd ever had. because there was this culture inside the department. and you learn it on day one. everyone understands it, you don't talk to the white house about criminal cases. you can talk to them about some things, policy matters, communication matters, but don't talk to them about criminal cases, and you never in a million years would talk to them about a criminal case that involved someone at the white house or close to the white house. which is what has made watching this white house so hard. is that the white house intervenes all the time about the things that affect the president, things that affect the president's friends. and the other side, too, trying to affect the president's political opponents. trying to get them to prosecute hillary clinton. >> here's the president -- these are just some tweets from the president. "everybody's asking why the justice department isn't looking into all the dishonesty going on with crooked hillary and the dems. attorney general jeff sessions has taken a very weak position on hillary clinton crimes. why is ag jeff sessions asking the ig to investigate
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potentially massive fisa abuse. will take forever. has no prosecutorial power. disgraceful." this announced the president ordering his ag publicly to prosecute his political enemies. >> right. and that's a very frightening thing. and you know, our institutions have held and i think our institutions will probably hold, but these are tests of our institutions and we have seen these kinds of things in other countries, in earlier times. and i think we have to be cognizant of that. there are things that are at risk here by that kind of conduct of the president. >> but here's a thing -- go ahead. >> i was going to say, so the institutions have held. you haven't seen, you know, hillary clinton be indicted and them trying to prosecute. but you see the justice department scurrying around all the time trying to do little things to make the president happy. coming over and meeting with the president to, you know, turn over documents about the clinton investigation. you see them, you know, freeing a so-called whistle-blower on the uranium one thing because
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the president was angry and had his white house call over. you see all these little lines being crossed. they can't give the president the big thing he wants, fire mueller or prosecute hillary, so they do these little things to make him happy. >> but that erosion on the margins has an impact and it's not something that we should discount. there's not a huge line between having a system that works correctly and one that works incorrectly. and the more of this little stuff that you do, that line disappears. >> that, to me, the most profound takeaway from this moment. as i sit here every day and try to process this into the news. you know, we think about the constitution, everyone talks about the constitution. like, all of this stuff we're talking about, the department of justice, white house. noun of it's in the constitution. the department of justice doesn't get created until the grand administration during reconstruction, if i'm not mistaken. all of this stuff, the president shouldn't just direct people to prosecute his enemies, that's not in the constitution. you can do that, right? i guess the question is, at the end of the day, what is stopping it? what holds it back?
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>> there are norms that have always -- we've always had. >> god, does that sound insufficient to the task. >> insufficient to the task, and yet it is a part of, i think, the american dna. the american governmental dna. but we're being tested now. and the question is whether or not we have sufficient amounts of that dna in our system. >> but there's got to be -- what does that dna look like? there's got to be something -- that means people -- when you say "dna," that means like, people make decisions. people in the fdny make the decision that we are going to serve a search warrant on the president's lawyer, because that is what our job and the law demands. >> yeah, right now it's in the dna, kind of embedded in people of all levels at the department. but if you had a attorney general who decided he wanted tyke a different approach and said, i'm going to do it, you could see that change. the attorney general could probably do some of it. i think the question that -- trump is going to go away some day. i hope. and one of the questions we'll have to look back and say, you know, kind of like after
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watergate, are norms enough, or do we need to codify some of these structures that prevent this kind of interference. >> do you have faith in -- fundamentally, in the judgment and integrity of jeff sessions to uphold the norms that we're discussing? >> i worry a great deal. >> that's not a "yes." >> it's not a "yes." and this is a very difficult thing for me to say. this is a very, very difficult thing for me to say. i'm not a person who likes to criticize my successors, predecessors, because i know how tough that job can be. and yet, the actions that he has taken in response to criticisms that he's received from the president, his desire, it appears to me, to curry favor with a president who views him disfavorably, worries me a great deal. i'm not at all certain that he has got the steel that an attorney general has to have. in my conference room, as matt will know, you get to pick four attorney generals, i had eliot richardson left, two down, to remind me that at some point an
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attorney general has got to say "no" to a president. and maybe you're going to lose your job as a result of that. and i don't have faith in jeff sessions that he would look at eliot richardson in the same way that i did. >> i'm not sure i'll get the most honest answer from you for this question. is he running for president? is eric holder running for president? >> i keep asking, because i need to know if i need to quit my job and move to iowa. >> if he promises to be my press secretary, i'll think about it. >> you are thinking about it? >> i am thinking about it. i'm focusing on the work i'm doing, trying to deal with gerrymandering. >> which successfully got scott walker to call a special election he was trying to get out of. >> yeah. and we elected a wisconsin supreme court justice there, campaigned there, and got into a bit of a twitter war with governor walker. >> stay out of twitter wars. i'm telling you, first person. if there's one piece of life advice i can offer you, eric holder, if there's one thing i know about really deeply, stay out of twitter wars.
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>> native new yorker, born in the bronx. >> here as well. >> former attorney general eric holder, you are invited to come by this table anytime you're in new york city. i love having you. and doj former chief spokesman, matt miller, who recently had a child in your family. congratulations on that. i haven't had a chance to congratulate you. >> thank you. dray, when he was younger, he loved to smile; and we knew he would need braces because his teeth were coming in funny. that's when he had the bunny rabbits. we called him the bunny rabbit. now, those are the same two front teeth, there, that they are now. then dray ended up having to wear braces for 5 years because he never made it to appointments, because he was busy playing basketball. if he missed practice, he don't get to play in the game. this is the picture that was on the front page of the newspaper. all you can notice is the braces! then, once he got to michigan state, he broke the retainer! my bottom teeth, they were really crooked, and i just wasn't getting braces again. smile direct club fits into my lifestyle so well. the liner is so great. it's easy to just grab it and go and then i can change on the road. i did
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photoshoots with my aligners in and you can't see them. i wish smile direct club would have been around when i was paying for them. i wouldn't have to take him out of school. i wouldn't have had missed work. it's like a great feeling to have good teeth. a smile is a first impression, that's why i think having a great smile is so important.
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just over 16 months into the trump presidency and every night brings a plethora of news about this white house and the mueller investigation. if you miss any of it here on
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"all in," you can now listen to our show wherever you get your podcasts. and while you're there, you can subscribe to our brand-new podcast. "why is this happening?" that's "all in" for this evening. rachel maddow joins us right now. helioplex™ powered, uva uvb strong. beach strength protection for the whole family. for the best day in the sun. neutrogena®. i'm alex trebek, here to tell you about the colonial penn program. if you're age 50 to 85, and looking to buy life insurance on a fixed budget, remember the three p's. what are the three p's? the three p's of life insurance on a fixed budget are price, price, and price. a price you can afford, a price that can't increase, and a price that fits your budget. i'm 54. alex, what's my price? you can get coverage for $9.95 a month. i'm 65 and take medications.
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thank you for joining us tonight. happy to have you with us. towards the end of barack obama's protest, "the new york times" published an article full of colorful details about how the president spent his alone time at the white house. during that report, president obama gave barely five hours of sleep each night, but that was partly because of this sort of elaborate evening routine he had when he was in the white house. after dinner with his wife and daughters at 6:30 p.m., "the times" said the president would withdraw to the treaty room, his private office down the hall from his bedroom on the second floor of the white house residence, and there, according to staffers, president obama would spend four or five hours by himself.

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