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tv   MSNBC Live With Alex Witt  MSNBC  June 3, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PDT

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next, the secret memo to mueller. will that bombshell letter from
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the president's lawyers lead to an eventual showdown in the supreme court? from the oval office to the world stage, has president trump given kim jong-un a propaganda victory? plus, primary colors. why tuesday's elections may be crucial in hopes for a blue wave midterm. good day, everyone. i'm alex witt here at msnbc world headquarters in new york. let's get to what's happening right now. the new details from that 20-page memo sent to special the part where the trump legal team makes an apparent admission about the president's role in drafting a letdter on air force one to explain donald trump jr.'s meeting at trump tower. they say the president dictated a short but accurate response. personal lawyer rudy giuliani says previous comments from another lawyer about the president's handling of that incident were ill informed and that this inconsistency is another reason why the president should not sit down with the special counsel. here's what giuliani told my colleague chuck todd today.
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>> i obviously asked jay about this. i think he was uninformed at the time, just like i was when i came into the case. he was just in the case. this is a point that maybe wasn't clarified in terms of recollection and his understanding of it. what jay did was he immediately corrected it, and even if it had been under oath, you would call that recanting. it's jay, not the president. that's the wisdom of not having the president testify. it's one thing to do it with a lawyer. it's another thing to do it with your client. >> nbc news white house correspondent jeff bennett is joining us now. good sunday to you. let's get to what more rudy giuliani had to say. >> reporter: hello from a rainy washington. rudy giuliani, the president's outside attorney, is also making the point, alex, that president trump enjoys broad constitutional powers, as it relates to the special counsel russia investigation, including the authority to ends the inquiry or pardon himself. but giuliani is saying that the president is unlikely to do either of those things because
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both would lead to impeachment. take a look. >> he has no intention of pardoning himself, but that doesn't say he can't. it would be an open question. i think it would probably get answered by, gosh, that's what the constitution says and if you want to change it, change it. >> reporter: and we should point out giuliani was not part of the trump legal team when this memo was written and hand delivered. but he and other members of the trump legal team are saying it's unlikely, though still possible, that president trump could sit voluntarily for an interview with the special counsel team. but the takeaway we're getting from this 20-page memo is that trump's lawyers are gambling that robert mueller will be unwilling to broach new legal ground in bringing a grand jury subpoena against a sitting president into a criminal proceeding. we don't know what the view is of the special counsel. they do not comment publicly. they do not leak. but we do know that giuliani says the special counsel team has not replied to this letter in the six months since it was
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hand delivered. alex? >> all right. jeff bennett at the white house, go inside, my friend. you need not stand any longer in the rain for us. appreciate it. joining me now, erin mcpike and sean sullivan, congressional reporter for "the washington post." welcome to you both. sean, this whole debate is about the president pardoning himself. it started with the leaked confidential memo that was sent to bob mueller by the president's legal team back in january. beyond the pardon question, what do you think are the most critical aspects of this? >> well, it's interesting. when you look at what the arguments are on both sides right now, you have a president who's saying repeatedly over and over there was no collusion, there was no collusion, this is a witch hunt against me. but at the same time, you're seeing an argument from his legal team that says, look, there's no way he could have obstructed. you're hearing rudy giuliani say in theory, if he needed to pardon himself, that could be possible. so on the one hand, he's saying he's done nothing wrong, but on the other hand, you have his
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representatives basically saying, you know, hey, he doesn't need to come forward and talk to mueller. if he did need to pardon himself, you know, that could be possible. so it's sort of sending mixed signals. if you're doing nothing wrong, it begs the question of why your legal team would be out there makihe case you do and don't have to do these things. >> erin, what surprised you more, the leak of the memo or what was in the memo itself? >> i think it was what was in the memo itself, which is an extension of what the president wants. i think this very idea that they are arguing that the president should not sit down with mueller and that he has the power to pardon himself, et cetera, all these other powers, just basically guarantees that robert mueller will subpoena the president if he has to because this entire investigation is an exercise in trying to snap back what has been a power grab from the president. >> do you, sean, still think the president would sit down or at least agree to do that, sit down to an interview with bob mueller despite all the arguments in
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this memo? >> we don't know yet, and what's interesting is if push comes to shove and if mueller does end up issuing a subpoena to the president to compel him to sit down, then i think what we would likely see is the arguments in this memo would be used by the president's legal team potentially to push back against that request if they didn't want him to sit down for that interview. that's a case that could go all the way to the supreme court if it comes to that. so we're talking about a potentially explosive and high-level legal showdown if mueller decides that he wants to compel the president t sit down and if the president says, you know what, i don't want to do that. >> who do you think has more to gain from the leak, the president or mueller's team? >> i think certainly mueller's team at this point. i mean, again, i think the president and his team are going for this egregious power grab, and that is going to -- there's going to be a backlash to that, clearly. obviously what the president and his team have done is gone on this public relations battle to
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try to say the investigation has gone well beyond its reach. but at the bottom line, the president continues to believe he's above the law, and that is what they're arguing in this memo. >> let's take a listen to a bit more of what rudy giuliani said while talking about the mueller probe today. here it is. >> do you still believe that robert mueller is committed to wrapping this up by september 1st? >> i believe he is because of the midterm elections. he's as sensitive as everybody to not do another comey and interfering horribly in the election. i don't think it had as big an impact as some people think, but they have a right to think that. second, i do think that it's still an open question, but it's beginning to get resolved in favor. >> i want to first address this
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time livethis timeline, sean. september 1st. what makes him so confident? he was asked whether he believes it'll be wrapped up. wrapped up is one thing. taking a break, taking a pause for the midterm elections might be another. >> yeah, you know, it's unclear exactly what is driving him to believe in this potential timeline. we've heard from republicans for months that they are hoping that this investigation winds down in a timely manner. as it has gone on, you've heard republicans say, let's let this thing play out, let's not interfere, and hopefully this will wrap up in a timely manner. there's a lot of variables in this situation. we don't exactly know. there are no public signals right now at least about when exactly this is going to wrap up. when you hear giuliani mentioning the midterms in that context, it certainly begs the question of do republicans worry that having this investigation hang over republicans in the midterms, could it sort of be a cloud and could it make things harder for them in november. it could be something they worry about. >> i think there's a little bit of a reality check here. this investigation has only broadened and deepened. the idea that two months from
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now it's just going to be over when they're still talking about having mueller sit down with president trump is hard to believe. i do think a couple months ago there was a "wall street journal" report that said they could take a pause for the midterms and resume after the elections. that at this point has to be the likeliest scenario. >> so erin, where giuliani saying it looks more and more like the interview with mueller is not going to happen, then what? what now? >> but that's just it. that's giuliani saying that they can voluntarily refuse. but that ignores the fact that then mueller could issue a subpoena, which i think is the likeliest scenario. after the leak of this memo, mueller has an obligation to shut down the president's belief that he is against the law. above the law, rather. >> i figured that. from a public perception perspective here, this memo, does it appear to be a big power
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grab that's going to hurt the president long term? >> well, i mean, we'll find out, you know, in the coming weeks. i think one thing that a lot of people are going to have questions about, and we may see this with congress coming back to town from their recess this week, is, is the president -- are the president's legal representatives and is the president himself overstepping his bounds here by asserting such things as he could not be obstructing this investigation, he should not have to sit down, is this a president who is putting himself above the law. and we're already hearing from some constitutional scholars who believe is he, and he is at a point where he's putting himself above the legal process. that's a dangerous threshold to cross. we may see some republicans, perhaps, on capitol hill raise concerns about that because we've seen them in the past warn the president not to overstep his constitutional bounds. >> okay, sean sullivan and erb erin mcpike. good to see you. up next, why the democratic hopes of a blue november could
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be riding on tuesday's primary elections and why my next guest says bashing trump is a losing strategy for democrats. willie brown coming up. (vo) what if this didn't have to happen? i didn't see it. (vo) what if we could go back? what if our car... could stop itself? in iihs front-end crash prevention testing, nobody beats the subaru impreza. not toyota. not honda. not ford. the subaru impreza. more than a car, it's a subaru.
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this president has to remind the american people of what is at stake in the 2018 elections, and that is moving our country in the same direction, which is the lowest unemployment for african-americans and hispanics ever recorded or going back to the ways of more money in taxes and increasing your taxes under
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what would be speaker pelosi. it's a clear dichotomy, and i think the president's on the right track. >> corey lewandowski there outlining the gop message for this year's message for midterm elections. joining me now, willie brown. i want to get to the recent op-ed you wrote in "the san francisco chronicle" in this wh you say it's time for democrats to stop bashing the president. you also want to say a significant number of americans are happy these days. they're making money. they're feeling safe. and on and on. corey lewandowski's statement right there, do you agree with him and the president's message? is it powerful? >> well, let's be very clear. democrats need seriously to be focused on what do they offer as the alternative. that's exactly what i would be doing were i a candidate for
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public office. i would start, by the way, with a study of hillary clinton's book "what happened." can tell you exactly how she lost michigan, how she lost pennsylvania, how she lost ohio. she could tell you how she lost that election. we need to know that. and one of the issues in there was stop thinking that the weakness of trump can elect you. >> but how do the democrats fairly criticize the president? because at the very least, this president has, you know, can you say turned certain norms on their head. >> there is no question. any question put before you about the current situation, you answer it. but you really ought to be selling more than just your analysis of today. you've got to sell on what tomorrow would look like if nancy pelosi becomes the speaker again. i think there's a good case to be made for that purpose, period, and we ought to make that case.
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that'll motivate voters to come out. it won't touch the trump supporters at all. they love this guy. they're going to stay with this guy forever. but they are in the minority of people if we can turn out the vote. we need to up the numbers. most critical of president the trump? >> no question, coming from california, it's the whole issue of immigration. it's the whole issue of violence in the streets, generated and supported by this indifference to what happens with people who have weapons. those are items that must be addressed. the democrats need to be at the front of the line with those kids from florida who are leading the issue several months ago about changing gun control. those are issues that we can talk about tomorrow. we can say to people who go to concert and fear themselves
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people dead, as those people at the country music festival in vegas. those are all thingshat we can talk about and we can lead on, and we don't have to reference trump. although, he will be in a position where he will be defending those. we need him on the defense. >> are you in the camp, willie, that believes democrats should not be talking about impeachment at this time? >> i think impeachment is a waste of time, but believe me, let robert mueller handle the impeachment issue. let him do the confrontation with trump. let him try to force trump to be interviewed. let him continue to exhaust giuliani's presentations. let that fight go on. that's internal. let them go at it. in the meantime, we ought to be ringing the doorbells of everybody on the democratic side of the aisle who didn't go out to vote for hillary clinton. we ought to be trying to convince bernie sanders to go back and stay in his own state and leave the rest of the nation
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to us to try to cultivate. >> ben rhodes has written in his new memoir about former president obama's reaction to the election of president trump. he said that mr. obama asked the question, what if we were wrong? he adds, maybe people just want to fallack into their tribe. do you think that's what happened? >> well, i can assure you that there's a better analysis of what happened from hillary clinton's perspective. she was the person online. she knows what her campaign did not do. donna brazil's analysis is of great assistance to hillary clinton in the book on what's happened. i'm telling you, democrats need to go back to basics. they need to go back, let's say, to charm school on the vote pursuit aisle. hillary says that dramatically in what's happened. i think that's a better analysis than what comes from anybody else. >> i want to look ahead to just
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this week. a couple days from now, tuesday, primary day there in california. former hillary clinton pollster is warning that he sees a jungle primary that's threateng to undermine the democrats in november. do you have any sense of how the primary is going to shake out in your state? >> well, you understand that the operation in california is as virtually no party. everybody can vote for anybody they may choose to. the independents are now in greater numbers on the registration side than the republicans. so this is a state in which you cannot draw any conclusions nationally because we are so different. mr. newsome will probably be the nominee. he is the lieutenant governor of the state of california on the democratic side of the aisle. except you can't say on the democratic side of the aisle. he'll be one of two. in every other category, it's the same way.
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diane feinstein is seeking re-election to the u.s. senate. can't even get the endorsement of the democratic party and its state central committee operation. we are kind of a confused operation because we are so heavily democratic or so heavily independent. the republicans are an endangered species. that won't change because the quality in the bench just isn't there. so don't draw any conclusions about what may happen in california, except in the challenged seated for congress. if, in fact, the five and six seats we are trying to turn from republican to democrat takes place, nancy pelosi will be the new speaker. >> but it is an extraordinary position that the gop finds itself in. that poll that said they're behind independents in terms of registration with voters. when you think about the state of california and the gop, they gave us ronald reagan. they gave us richard nixon. how far that state gop party has
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collapsed. >> and they gave us earl warren, who literally changed the whole nature of how people of african descent who are now in america could exist. believe me, at one time republican party really had a high morality flavor as it relates to candidates. they've got to go back to basics to start that all over again. but again i say, we californians are not the measurement of what can happen to the democratic party. we have been so overwhelming in every aspect. both houses of the legislature, a super majority. every statewide office in california held by democrats. the two u.s. senate seats held by democrats, and women in this case. so we are a different ball of wax from the rest of the nation. >> willie, i want to take you down memory lane. i'm going to put up a picture here of a "newsweek" magazine cover from 1999 and ask you
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about your friendship with rudy giuliani, both of you former mayors, new york and san francisco respectively. do you think he's tarnishing his past with this fronting of the president's argues? we have this cover. it shows the both of you on it. it's kind of fun to think back on. >> well, you got to know that rudy giuliani was on the way out, frankly, in 2001. the business of what happened there in new york in 2001 resurrected him. they delayed the election by at least a couple weeks, and in delaying the election, he managed to stare the democrats out and do bloomberg in. from that point on, he went about to make millions. rudy giuliani is a talented guy, and believe me, he's the best thing that trump has got going for him. all those other people don't count. rudy does count. and believe me, in my knowledge
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and my acquaintanceship with rudy, my occasional visits with him in new york or when he comes to california, i'm telling you, this guy doesn't need meds. he knows what he's doing. >> okay, willie brown. we'll take your word for it. thank you very much. >> nice to see you. >> thank you. straight ahead, summit aling. why some diplomats think the president has handed a propaganda victory to the dictator of a brutal regime. and we're going to shine a spotlight on one honoree each day. you can all follow their stories at - i love my grandma. - anncr: as you grow older, your brain naturally
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and voted against all trump's attempts to repeal it. but we need to do more. i believe in universal health care. in a public health option to compete with private insurance companies. and expanding medicare to everyone over 55. and i believe medicare must be empowered to negotiate the price of drugs. california values senator dianne feinstein he has no intention of pardoning himself, but that doesn't say he can't. it would be an open question. i think it would probably get answered by, gosh, that's what the constitution says and if you want to change it, change it. but yeah. >> president trump's lawyer there, rudy giuliani, on the president's right to pardon himself if he wanted to do so. but is giuliani correct? joining me now, former federal prosecutor. what do you think? can the president pardon himself? >> i think the answer is he
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absolutely can pardon himself. the question becomes when that issue then makes its way to the supreme court for the first , what willhey do? will they validate it, or will they decide that, you know what, this is too much for a country to endure, a president who if he pardons himself, then that means he engaged nin illegal conduct for which he needed to pardon himself for. i would say the supreme court would say this is too much for a country to endure. this is not what the presidential pardon power in the constitution was designed to address. and i suspect the supreme court would rule against a president's ability to pardon himself. >> in this memo that was obtained by "the new york times," trump's legal team laid out multiple reasons against the special counsel interviewing the president, but by refusing an interview, would the president potentially be obstructing justice? >> i think the answer to that question is no, alex. here's the analysis.
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it was reported earlier today that mr. jougiuliani said the president is unlikely to submit to a voluntary interview. i'm going to hand it to mr. giuliani. i think that's a wise tactical decision from the defense perspective. i also think it's a decision that is very sad for the country because it signals that the president and his lawyers don't believe he can sit and make his way through an interview without sort of exposing himself to potential criminal liability for m misstatements. but i think it's a wise tactical decision by the defense. what that does is it puts in full focus the question of whether the president can be compelled to appear before the grand jury by subpoena. now, i don't know if bob mueller will want to issue a subpoena. here are the two sides of that coin. if bob mueller tries to subpoena the president, it will inevitably go up to the supreme
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court. it might be good for the country if the supreme court were given the opportunity to pass on that question because this could be a recurring problem in our country moving forward. but bob mueller may also believe that he has enough evidence based on the investigation that he's conducted that he can issue a full and fair report without having to interview the president and without having to sort of incur the delay that would obviously be involved in having to litigate the question of whether a president can be subpoenaed. >> so you worked with robert mueller in the past. do you think he would hold off on any major moves for this investigation until after a couple of things, perhaps the summit with north korea, not to interview at all with diplomacy, perhaps until after the election. you heard rudy giuliani earlier saying he thought it would be all wrapped up by september 1st, whether it's wrapped up completely or takes a pause for the midterm elections to go through unfettered, if you will. does he press on, or does he take this into consideration? >> i'm loathe to speculate about
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what bob mueller might do. i do have great respect for him. he was actually my chief of homicide back in the 1990s and was one of the finest supervisors that i've ever worked for. what i can say is he is sort of a full, fair, and unflinching prosecutor and advocate, and i'm quite sure special counsel now. i think he will be guided by the evidence. he has always struck me as somebody who is apolitical. but it's hard to ignore the potential political implications of the timing of the release of the report or of the timing of any indictments that he might see fit to return. so i have to believe that he'll be cognizant of that, but i think he will -- he'll be guided by the evidence at the end of the day. >> okay. very good to speak with you. consider yourself booked for next weekend. >> thank you, alex. as legal posturing on the russia investigation escalates
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here at home, anticipation overseas nine days remaining for the president's high-stakes summit with north korean dictator kim jong-un. joining me now for perspective, jean lee of the wilson center. jean opened the ap' bureau in pyongyang back in 2012, the only western news outlet in the korean capital. jean, a big welcome to you. i want to get to you personally because you lived in north korea for a time. are you surprised that this summit is even going to happen, and is it driven by kim jong-un and the desperate situation economically in his country? >> i'm surprised that it's happening, only because past u.s. presidents have been very careful not to hand this type of diplomatic victory or propaganda to the north koreans without getting anything in return. so i have to tell you that my first trip to north korea was in 2008, so that was ten years ago. the north koreans who met me knew that i was a journalist and grilled me. now, this was in november 2008,
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just after president obama was elected. they grilled me about whether president obama would be will be to sit down with their leader. at the time it was kim jong-il. at the time, i didn't realize they were perhaps taking notes and sending them back to pyongyang, but so this has been on their agenda for quite some time. past presidents have been very careful not to agree to something like that because they know that the return would be very difficult. with the north koreans, it's always a challenge, how to give just enough to get something from them in return. so by agreeing to a summit, you're already giving them quite a concession and something that really legitimizes the north korean leader, which is what the north korean leader wants. >> i'm curious about what you observe in terms of daily life there in north korea and that which put them on this path. is it widespread desperation? >> so going back to your earlier question, it is absolutely true
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that despite what we see in the media, not only their state media, which is very orchestrated, and also the foreign media coverage we get, which is also somewhat orchestrated, it is a very poor country. when we look at the military parades, the missiles, we may get the sense they've got so many resources to spend on this type of theater, but in fact, this is a country that's very poor, don't have a regular supply of power, very -- quite a number of people don't have enough food to eat every day. they don't have clean water. they don't have medicine. kim jong-un understands that in the long-term, given the state of his country's economy, given the pressure of sanctions, that they can't continue on this path. so i do think that he wants to find another way forward. this is part of that strategy. so trying to address those concerns, both his security concerns, his interests in developing economy, is something that needs to be part of the
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calculus when you're dealing with the north koreans. >> there are those suggesting that the president may have given up too much already to kim jong-un. in fact, the mere appearance on the world stage together, that's a big victory for north korea. what's your sense of that? >> indeed, it is a big victory. i'm always careful when it comes to the north koreans in my own negotiations with them and also the advice that i give to others who are seeking to work with them to be very careful to keep these types of propaganda victories under wraps until they happen. but you know, he's already agreed to this summit. now we have to focus on making sure it's a success. with the north koreans, it's always a careful calculation. how much do you give them in order to get something in return? there's another way to look at this. if you give kim jong-un a sense of security or a sense of legitimacy, you can also try to ask for something in return. the north koreans will say, listen, we've shown you our commitment. we blew up that nuclear test
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site, although i think it remains in question whether it was legitimately destroyed. we've released three american prisoners. so both sides are going to be coming to this ready to negotiate and saying, look, we've shown you what we've done, what do you have to offer? >> jean lee, it's going to be interesting on june 12th. i hope to speak with you again. thank you so much for your insights. >> thanks. taking on one of the president's biggest defenders on capitol hill. you'll meet the man who dares to try to send devin nunes packing. , covering virtually every part of your manufacturing business. & so this won't happen. because you've made sure this sensor and this machine are integrated. & she can talk to him, & yes... atta, boy. some people assign genders to machines. and you can be sure you won't have any problems. except for the daily theft of your danish. not cool! at&t provides edge to edge intelligence. it can do so much for your business, the list goes on and on. that's the power of &. & this shipment will be delivered...
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somehow, all the normal procedures and processes were short circuited in this investigation. why is this important? it's important because they opened up an investigation into a political campaign, maria. a political campaign. we're not talking about terrorism. we're not talking about something criminal. >> congressman devin nunes, republican chairman of the house intelligence committee, on fox this morning, reupping accusations against the fbi's reason for launching an investigation into the 2016 trump campaign. joining me now is andrew jans, democrat running for congress. andrew, welcome back to the broadcast. it's good to see you. i want to remind our viewers that you're also deputy district attorney there in fresno. i'm curious the feedback you get from constituents about nunes in his role as the house intel chair. >> alex, good morning, and thanks for having me on.
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so i've been in this race for about a year now. i've talked to a number of folks, republicans and democrats, and many people are confused about devin nunes' conduct. this is a person who didn't support trump in the 2016 primary, but he was named to the trump transition team. something happened there. he did a 180 and he's been acting very strange ever since he was on that committee. i hope that robert mueller looks into it and figures out what his involvement is with all of this. >> and do you find constituents with whom you're speaking to be perplexed? >> absolutely. recently i was endorsed by a conservative-leaning law enforcement organization. i've talked to many republicans who are a part of this organization who are very concerned about the direction that donald trump and devin nunes are taking our country and their party. they're confused about their lack of support for free trade,
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the tariffs that are going to hurt and decimate our region, and also their attacks on federal law enforcement agencies. they're very confused about their conduct and they're concerned. that's probably why they came out and supported me. >> i want to get your take, andrew, on all the legal claims that the president's lawyers made in their letter to special counsel robert mueller, the one that was issued back in january that "the new york times" got its hands on. what's your read on this? >> it is a terrible interpretation of constitutional law, u.s. law. look at the supreme court decision in u.s. v. nixon. the president of the united states can be subpoenaed. this really goes to the heart of who we are as a nation and how we were founded. we were founded on the principle that no man, no king is above the law. it seems to me like the trump administration supported by devin nunes is working every single day to undermine this principle. >> i spoke with former san
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francisco mayor willie brown just about half an hour or so ago. he says that bashing trump is a losing strategy for democrats. impeachment is also a waste of time at this point. how do you respond to that? >> look, you know, he's partly right. what i'm doing here in the district is bringing attention to the fact that devin nunes has really worked to abandon this district. he hasn't done anything for the voters that live here back at home. he's in washington. he's working for the trump administration, trying to cover up for whatever they did in 2016, instead of working for the people here that care about health care, immigration reform, jobs and the economy. he's doing the dirty work of donald trump. so i think that it's fine for us to bring attention to the fact that, you know, donald trump isn't doing his job. this is what happens when you elect a president of the united states who has no political experience, no moral compass. the good news is this year we're going to have a chance to work to fix that. we're going to have a midterm election coming up. we're going to have the opportunity to elect a congress
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that's going to finally hold the executive branch accountable. >> all right,around rue. we have the primaries on tuesday. good luck. we'll be following things. >> thank you, alex. coming up next, a question on a lot of minds. how long can the first lady remain out of the public spotlight? ♪ tired of wrestling with seemingly impossible cleaning tasks? using wipes in the kitchen, and sprays in the bathroom can be ineffective. try mr. clean magic eraser with durafoam. simply add water, and use in your kitchen for burnt on food, in your bathroom to remove soap scum, and on walls to remove scuffs and marks. it erases 4x more permanent marker per swipe. for tough kitchen and bath messes, use mr. clean magic eraser with durafoam. brand power. helping you buy better. (wienermobile horn) to put a better hot dog it's oscain every hand.ion and that's just what we do. with no artificial preservatives, no added nitrates or nitrites, and by waving bye to by-products. so you can get back to loving them. for the love of hot dogs. (wienermobile horn)
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but it's really a memo that i'll bet the trump team itself helped to leak because mueller, we know, is not a leaker. and they leaked it because they want to reinforce their base. they want to tell their base, your guy is strong, your guy will never back down, and maybe the people in the base who believe whatever he says will believe this. >> constitutional law professor for harvard university on the confidential letter the president's legal team sent to special counsel robert mueller back in january. it was obtained by "the new york times." let's bring in bill press author of the new book "from the left: a life in the crossfire." and republican strategist lauren zelt. i got to tell you guys, i love that conversation with lawrence. i should have studied harder so i could go to harvard law school. wow, he was interesting.
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anyway, lauren, how plausible is it that the president's people leaked this so they could use it to their advantage? >> i think it's certainly possible. we know that this white house is a white house that does a lot of leaking. know that this white hs a white house that does a lot of leaking. so i think it's certainly possible and moreover, i think that republicans are really starting to understand that talking about this issue in particular on the campaign trail, i think even when democrats do it, it helps republicans as we head to the mid-term elections, it helps motivate the base just like the professor said and i do think that it is possible because if republicans want to keep the house, keep the senate this fall, they are going to need turnout. i think this discussion of impeachment and the investigation overall, i think it helps with turnout in terms of politics and getting the republican base to show up at the polls. >> so bill, part of this claims that the president could if he
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wishes, exercise his power to pardon if he so desired. then you have rudy giuliani saying the president has no intention of pardoning himself. how do you interpret all of this? >> well, i didn't go to harvard law school either, alalex and im not an attorney, but as an american, the one thing that i believe, i think all americans believe that is no person is above the law. i mean, that's fundamental to what this country is all about, that's why our founding fathers put that out there to get away from a king who could do anything the hell he wanted and get away with it. this memo wreaks of divine privilegeance says in effect that the president doesn't have to answer any questions and he doesn't -- can't be subpoenaed, he cannot be accused of obstructing justice. basically it says he can do no wrong. but ihink it is just -- it is it
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ridiculous on the face of it and would never hold up in the supreme court, never. >> do you think, lorne, that this sheds any light on the president's attention to pardoning people hieves were treated unfairly? >> i think the pardoning this week, i know a lot of were trying to say something like because of the timing of these particular pardons and discussion of it, that he was laying the groundwork for something maybe possibly for himself regarding the mueller investigation, i don't really think we should read that much into it to be honest. i don't think he should pardon himself. you saw a lot of gop lawmakers out this weekend, kevin mccarthy this morning saying he shouldn't do that. i think chris christie said it would be a political problem. i think it would absolutely be a political problem and like bill said, i think as americans we can all agree that no american is pof tabove the law. i don't think he should pardon
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himself. i hope mr. giuliani was being truthful because that would be a scare situation us and our family. >> alex, on that particular point, keep coming back to what trey gowdy said. if the president really is innocent and did nothing wrong, why did they all act so guilty? why are they so afraid of having him testify and facing robert mueller or having this investigation go on? it just to me -- it doesn't really add up. just a quick word also on the pardons, i've got to say there was no need to pardon joe arpaio or no need to pardon scooter libby. there certainly was no need to pardon de souza making money as a comment ator. these parts were to send a message to his friends, paul man ma nort, michael flynn maybe,
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don't worry, i've got your back and i've got the pardon power and will use it to take care of my buddies. >> so giuliani gave an update on the legal team thinking whether the president should agree to an interview by robert mueller. let's take a listen to this. >> i don't have any doubt i wants to do it. he is telling the truth and believes that the he should -- justice should win out and i'm a lawyer, have years of prosecution and defense. it's not that simple. what i believe is the truth and you're still recommending he does not sit down for the interview? >> jay and i want to keep an open mind and i have to just be honest, leaning towards not. >> i think it's interesting a couple of weeks ago we were talking they were preparing towards mock interviews then leaning towards no. i love we're having a nice
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bipartisan conversation, they are acting a little bit as if there may be something to hide. if there's nothing to hide, do the interview and get it over with and let's move on for the sake of the american people. >> do you agree, bill? >> not to agree with lauren on too many things here but -- the idea -- let's come back to, why this rudy giuliani and jay seck cue low do not want to sit down, they don't believe he can get through interview without perjuring himself. he says so many untruths and so many lies in five minutes you couldn't get through in one hour or two hour interview and everybody, everybody on this team recommends that he not do that interview. >> can i ask you one more question quickly before we're out of time. all of this is happening while the president is at camp david with most of the family but not melania. how long can she remain out of the public spotlight? it's concerning for a lot of
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people. >> i think if you look at it from a sheer political lens, polling last month showed melania trump is quite popular, 57% approval ratings politically into the mid terms, i'd like to see more of her. many spouses of candidates are political advantage and she certainly is in this case. i would like to see more of her. how about you, bill? >> very quickly, it's -- it's just unusual. i hope she's well and think she's well. i've been told by a very good source she's at the white house and she's fine but it is unusual for a first lady not to be seen
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in 23 days now. there's a sports event for kids at the white house, that's her deal. she wasn't there. camp david, all of the rest of the family is there without her, i hope she's well. i'd like to seize more of her too. it's strange. >> it is something we can all very much agree on. we hope her health is okay and she comes back in the spotlight sometime soon. good to see you both, happy sunday to you both. >> the death toll from puerto rico from hurricane maria coming up in the next hour.
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we're approaching the top of the hour, i'm alex witt, i'll toss things over to david. >> hey, everybody, at headquarters at new york. presidential power or power trip? the confidential letter from president trump's lawyers to special counsel robert mueller revealed the shocking claim


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