tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC June 5, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PDT
with that, that is our broadcast on a monday evening as we start off a new week. thank you so very much for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york. tonight on "all in" -- >> simply put, does the president believe he is above the law? >> the president claims absolute power. >> the claim in the letter is i am the law. i'm a king. >> tonight the fallout from the president's claims on pardoning himself. >> he has no intention of pardoning himself. but he -- it doesn't say he can't. >> and the astounding parallels to richard nixon. >> when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal. then -- >> you said that he did not dictate. but said you did. >> the white house caught in massive lie over the trump tower meeting with russians. >> i'm not going to respond to a letter from the president's
outside counsel. and this is what child separation looks like. >> american citizens are funding this operation. >> senatormey es to texas. >> i'm a u.s. senator. >> to investigate the trump policy of separating migrant children from their parents. >> can i go in with you, please? >> and he is back to tell me what he found, when "all in" starts right now. >> i've now been asked to leave the property. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. the president of the united states is asserting absolute authority to shield himself from legal liability, a power grab, at least in what is being asserted the likes of which we have not seen since richard nixon. this is exactly the kind of constitutional crisis experts have been warning about. and, well, it now look likes we are in the thick of it. it's happening right now before our very eyes, the president tweeting this morning, as has been stated by numerous legal school lab, i have the absolute right to pardon myself.
but what i would i do that when i've done nothing wrong? now, it's not clear which legal scholars the president is referring to. most seem to disagree with his conclusion. and the last time that the justice department officially weighed in on this very question in the waning days of the nixon administration as the walls were closing in on rid nixon, the doj's office of legal counsel ruled that, quote, under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself. three days later, nixon announced his resignation from office. but according to this president and his legal team, there are no constraints on the chief executive's power to intervene in a federal investigation, including an investigation of which he himself is a subject. as they would have it, the president cannot commit obstruction of justice when exercising his vast powers as head of the executive branch. in a letter delivered to special counsel robert mueller back in january and published by "the new york times" on saturday, the president's lawyers argue that his actions by virtue of his position as the chief law
enforcement officer could neither constitutionally nor legally cute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself. think ab and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry or even he sdesired. pardon to power, if it's a similar argument to the one nixon famously made after leaving office. >> when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal. >> by definition? >> exactly. >> in introduce over the weekend, rudy giuliani, who joined the president's legal team after the letter was sent to mueller acknowledged the potential political consequences if the president were to pardon himself. >> president trump is not going to do that. he's obviously not going to give up any of his pardon powers or any other future president's pardon powers, but under these circumstances he is not going to do that. the president of the united states -- pardoning himself would just be unthinkable, and it would lead to probably an immediate impeachment.
the house, senate would be under tremendous pressure. president trump has no need to do that. he didn't do anything wrong. >> nevertheless, giuliani has contued to assert increasingly lewdious hypotheticals claiming the president could have shot james comey and still not be indicted for it. even under those circumstances, according to giuliani, the only penalty would be a political one. quote, impeach him and then you can do whatever you want to do to him. asked today if the president considers himself to be above the law, the white house had a tough time answering. >> does the president believe thate is above the law? >> certainly not. the president hasn done anything wrong. >> the question isn't if he has doneing wrong. does the president believe the framers envisioned a system where the president can pardon himself or the president could be above the law? >> certainly the constitution very clearly lays out the law. and once again, the president hasn't done anything wrong, and we feel very comfortable in that front. >> you just a moment ago you said it's not that clear.
138 put, does the president believe he is above the law? >> certainly no one is above the law. >> for more on the president's claim, he can pardon himself, i'm joined by sheldon whitehouse, democrat from rhode island. we'll start with that first claim. can the t pard himself? >> nobody seems to think so, particularly not the department of justice. this has been one of a series of five different assertions that they've made to take us into i guess kind of a legal bizarro world where the president can't be subpoenaed, the president can't about a struck justice, the president can't be charged with any offense, the president can pardon himself, the president can shut down the investigation, and oh, by the way, the whole mueller investigation is unconstitutional. i think they went 0 for 6 on all of those. >> would you -- what is your reaction as someone who has the oversight authority on a committee of the united states senate that is there to hold the executive to account to these
kinds of claims being made, even if not in the commission of acts. he is not actually pardoning himself in this sort of general conceptual sense? >> it's probably the kind of thing we should look into. i'm hoping that there will be some hearings on this so we can explore it a little bit. but it just seems, again, what i said before, this is not regular law. this is sort of bizarro law. if his lawyers really believed all this stuff, why weren't they saying it a year ago? i think we have kind of squid ink lawyering happening as potentially the president approaches his interview by mueller or his subpoena from mueller, and they're stirring the pot as much as they can with whatever theory they can come up with to try to put as much squid ink into the water as they can before they have to face that what probably will be a debacle of an interview. these are constitutional doctrines and theories, criminal
law theories that if they were real, these lawyers would have raised them a long time ago. it all coming up now is just very suspicious. >> you know, it's interesting to hear you talk, senator. what i'm hearing from you is there are two ways to interpret this. one, this is a sort of dangerous power grab by an executive who is feeling its oats. it's asserting larger and larger vistas. >> i don't see it that way. >> they're operating from weakness. they're desperate. >> this feels to me more like weakness and desperation and grasping at straws and being terrified at having to answer questions under oath in a grand jury. >> senator chuck grassley had this to say. he sits on your committee. he chairs your committee, and you work with him for a while, of course. this is what he had to say when asked about whether the president can pardon himself. take a listen. >> if i were president of the united states and i had a lawyer that told me i could pardon
himself, think i'd hire a new lawyer. >> doesn't seem to be selling to senator grassley. >> no, doesn't seem to have made the sale. you know, this is -- if you're a lawyer, if you do this stuff, if dohis stuff pretty regularly, if you've watched it for years on the judiciary committee like chairman grassley has, this is a little bit -- i don't know how to say it any other way, this is bizarro law, not real law. >> do you anticipate -- can you anticipate a world in which they actually this? part of what is so strange is assertions from the white house there has been trial balloons, flags they're running up. all these questions as everyone circles about what they're actually going to do. do tnk they're getng messages from capitol hill about what they can actually get away with? >> i suspect so. as i've said before, one of the biggest unanswered questions is what is the relationship between the trump legal team at the white house and the staff,
particularly on the house intelligence committee who have been doing the work here, how much has all of nunes' stuff been scripted by the white house and isn'even legitime congressional oversight. it's just the white house legal arm acting through its legislative colleagues. >> right. >> so there is an awful lot that we still need to learn about how this all connects. but that's the biggest and baddest question out there. has the white house been driving the house intelligence committee? what have the connections between the staff? has nunes been operating under instructions from the white house. so you tch on a really important point, but i think it guess to that bigger point. >> all right. senator sheldon whitehouse who is on the senate judiciary committee, thank you for your time. >> of course. >> to help bring the significance of this moment and the parallels to nixon, i'm joined by msnbc legal analyst jill wine-banks and nick akerman, both former watergate prosecutors. it's interesting to me there are
different ways to view this. senator whitehouse, this is nonsense, this is flailing desperate nonsense. >> oh, i think it is. this would be great arguments if the year was 1750 and we were talking about king george. yeah, these arguments would hold some water. but thing really --? you look at this memo, and a rst year associate giving me this memo, i would have fired the person on the spot. these are just the weakest arguments that you would possibly raise. the idea that a president can't be subpoenaed. u.s. v nixon makes it very clear that the president, all people have to give evidence. >> yep. >> the paula jones case makes it clear just by virtue of your officend being pdent doesn't mean you have some special exception to being governed by the law. i mean, the supreme court has already ruled on almost everything that's in that memo. i don't see -- this was just designed as a promotional piece
that they could use with the public to try and hoodwink them and as part of what donald trump does in his usual sales pitch on snake oil, this is just snake oil put into a different package. that's all it is. it's legal snake oil. >> jill, do you agree? >> i agree. i would also say that the president is exerting powers that are not only not existent for the president, but are more like something that an emperor who has no clothes might claim, because it is ridiculous to have said anye things. and it's very much like what richard nixon said, as you quoted him tonight, if i do it, it's not illegal. but i would like to point out that richard nixon didn't say that until after he -- >> right. >> -- been forced to resign. so it's much more dangerous to have a president who is actually in office now saying that he has that power.
that is very scary. it is delusional thinking of a would-be dictator. it is not appropriate for the president's lawyers to be saying that. >> one big difference here that is important between nixon and trump is who is running the show in congress. and it seems to me the legal argument that they're making which isn't really legal argument, but political argument primarily, there is a single and lone constitutional remedy for the conduct of the president in office, and that is impeachment. he can do anything he wants, and the only hard he runs up against to is go ahead. >> there is no way the republicans are going to impeach him. >> so it's not that dumb an argument. it may be legal ho it may be squid ink or snake oil, but from a political standpoint it's basically saying look, we've got our base. we conol lers, and come at us. >> they certainly controthe impeachment levers. that's true. there is always a question about whether or not he could be indicted. and i truly believe that mueller -- >> you don't think it's a closed case? >> i don't think it's a closed
case. i think if you have a very strong case, if you can actually prove that this president committed treason, that he conspired with the russians to get himself elected, to me, that would be a good reason. >> over the bar. >> that would be the bar to overcome. >> there is a political question, jill. when you guys were working back on nixon, the political lay of the land was different with the democratic congress. >> it was. and we also had a special prosecutor at the time who was thpolitically correct way nt to proceed. that doesn't mean that i personally or many members of my team on the obstruction case did not believe. we did. we believed that the president could be indicted. >> interesting. >> and we thought that he should be tt dended that he face the same -- >> really? >> -- consequences, yes, absolutely. but we actually had leon jaworski appear before the grand
jury to explain why he didn't think they should indict. because the grand jury agreed with us, and they wanted to indict the president. the evidence was quite clear.we an unindicted co-conspirator, which meant the evidence of things he said would be admissible. >> right. >> it was very important for that reason. we also turned over a report which was a road map of impeachment to an existing committee that actually we felt we could trust with the information. i have to say now that no matter how strongly-worded the report is, i fear that the republicans will ignore it. at that time, the republicans at the time of watergate, the republicans in congress are the ones who went to nixon and said you must resign. we've seen the evidence. you will be convicted. it was the republicans who took that upon themselves. >> right. >> and that's what we need is some republicans with some backbone to stand up to this esident. >> well, that -- that is not on
the horizon right now. that's the big diffence. >> right. >> what leon jaworski did, he asked the entire staff to actually give them memos as to their position on whether or not richard nixon should be indicted. >> fasng. wow. ll wck akhat was ly illuminating. thank you. great to have you both. next, the white house and outright l.h caught in a major after the aftermath of the infamous trump tower meeting. what this means to the mueller investigation in just a few minutes.
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the white house is caught in major lie now concerning that infamous trump towereeng that don jr. convened to get russian government dirt on hillary clinton. you remember that meeting. it comes after the russians claim they had documents would incriminate hillary and don jr. infamously wrote "if it's what you say, i love it." the white house went into crisis
mode, and the president and his advisers huddling on air force one to craft some sort of explanation. what emergedu'll remember, was a statement purportedly from don jr. saying the meeting had been primarily about russian adoptions and making no mention the real al of tting dirt on hillary clinton. trump's lawyer insisted that don jr. on his own had written that sleading statement. the white house later said dad might have helped out, tt the ent was largely don jr.'s work. >> i do want to be clear the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. it came from donald trump jr. >> the president weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information that he had. he certainly didn't dictate, but, you knoe -- like i said, he weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do. >> like any father would do in a wildly incriminating e-mail surfaces about his son's activity. even don jr. himself tried to cover for his dad, telling congress, and that is under oath, i will note, that he did
not know if trump was involved in drafting the misleading statement and clai quote, i never spoke to my father about so for nearly a year, let's be clear here, team trump claiming the prest had little to no involvement. now in that newly released letter to robert mueller, trump's own lawyers say trump himself dictated the misleading statement on his own, which would seem to implicate the president in an effort to cover up his campaign's entanglement with russia. today sara sanders was repeatedly asked to reconcile her past claims at that very podium in front of everyone like we saw on the tape with the new disclosure from the president's own lawyers, and she did not have much of an answer. >> if you say one thing from the podium that it wasn't dictated by the podium, now you're saying something entirely different and contradictory. how are we supposed to know what to believe? >> once again, i can't comment on a letter from the president's outside counsel. i direct you to them to answer it
>> you said he did not dictate. but you said he did. what is it? >> i am not going to respond to a letter from the president's ounce counsel. i refer yoto them for comment. >> joining me natasha bertrand and jim sugerman who argued the letter from trump's lawyers amount to admission of obstruction. significance of this lie now being exposed. what do you think it is? >> i mean, it's always been fairly obvious that trump played a direct role in crafting this statement. now we have it in black and white, which is actually kind of rare that we see this kind of -- it's just this lie, just so plainly out there. but the significance of it is that it could be considered obstruction of justice as judd wrote in his piece for slate. trump was perhaps trying the throw mueller off the scent of mutual coordination between his cam ain russia when they did
meet with the russians at trump tower in the height of the election in june 2016. and of course we know that the events surrounding all were extreic. trump dined with putin the night before this bombshell story was released by "the new york timeand they talked about adoptions, which of course is code word for sanctions, for u.s. sanctions on russia. and then the very next day, he insisted on dictating this statement on behalf of his son that had to do with adoptions. and then you had hope hicks, the former communications director who was saying to mark coralla, the former legal spokesman that these letters would never get out so therefore they really had in though reason to actually get out ahead of this and say in fact the real reason that the president's son, campaign chairman met with the russians is because they had offered dirt on hillary clinton there was this whole chaotic world of things happening and the president was at the center of it. >> i want to get back to the timeline. first, jed, your argument.
the memo makes it interesting. a private matter cybill the clause they use. look, the president can lie to whatever he wants about anything. that's not a lue. the president can craft a misleading statement. that's a quote, privatmatter. why do you think that is not true? >> it turns out congress has passed a statute about witness tampering. that statute says whoever corruptly per suedes or engages in misleading conduct with the intent for influencing testimony, that's a felony obstruction of justice, witness tampering. first of alhe stament was a lie, right? it was not about russian adoptions. it turns out hope hicks thought the e-mails would never get out. i just want to be clear the reporting is that hope hicks told trump, president trump on the conference call. >> right. >> so this team is meeting not just about -- they're not issuing a media statement about "the apprentice." they're formulating both a political and a legal strategy because this is what is going to play out in not only in the statement, but in trump's upcoming -- trump jr.'s upcoming
congressional testimony. that's covered by the statute. and it's not only foreseeable, it's inevitable that there will be an official proceeding that lie is part of a legal -- it was to corruptly persuade and use misleading conduct to influence testimony that is a felony under statutes that apply to everybody, including the president. >> the timeline you mention here is so fascinating. i want to play the sound. so the night before -- here is the timeline. "the new york times" contacts the white house and says we've got something about this trump tower meeting. then the evening trump has a private chat with putin, they're sitting together at this international summit. they talk to each other just the two of only this with no american translator and only a russian translator, russian note taker. and then you get the dictated statement from the president about adoptions. and when the president is asked about that meeting with putin, this is what he says when he is talking to "the new york times"" take a listen.
>> it was not a long conversation. it would be 15 minutes, just talked about things. actually, it was very interesting. we talked about adoption. >> you did? >> russian adoption. yeah. i always found that insting, because he ended that years ago. and i actually talked about russian adoption with him, which is interesting, because that was a part of the conversation that don had with this meeting. >> so interesting, natasha. what a qingy dink. >> why would he volunteer that type of information? no one even knew that he had dined with putin on that night until a geopolitical analyst ian bremmer came out and told the world about it because he had heard it from someone at the g20 summit. the white house didn't even say this dinner had happened. and then you have trump telling the "new york times" that he spoke about the very issue that was at the center of a meeting that he then later claimed to have known absolutely nothing about. i mean, that was his whole
defense was that he didn't know the meeting had ever occurred. he didn't know anything about it. but then the night before, he was talking to putin, and all of the sudden this just came up when the white house had been briefed that very morning by "new york times" reporters. >> right. >> about the fact that they were going to move ahead and publish this story. it just seems like way too much of a coincidence that putin would bring this up, that trump and putin would talk about this, and that it was absolutely totally unrelated and unconnected to the story that was going to be published the next day. >> are they going -- are the lawyers going to regret putting this in a memo, putting in this admission? >> i think they did this on purpose. this was the question i was asked, talking about today. why would the lawyers make this kind of a mistake unless it wasn't a mistake. understand the coq context is for this letter, we aren't -- mueller can't talk to trump. >> can't get to us. >> you can't subpoena him you. can't get a direct interview. why? one, as a legal matter, the president is above the law, right? congress can't touch him. mueller can't touch him.
but on these specific questions, on these ten different obstruction of justice and russian questions you have, we've given you all of the documents, and because we've given you all the documents, executive privilege protects trump because that has to be a last resort. >> right. >> that's correct. interviewing a president should be a last resort. they're saying we've already given you documents. you don't need this interview. thing was a strategy to stipulate and cut their losses. so we're going confess. we're going to concede. >> right. >> to obstruction of justice. they already know. mueller has already interviewed. they already know. they have the documents. they've interviewed hope hicks. they've interviewed mark corallo resign? they thought he was involved with the obstruction of justice. they're not telling mueller anything new. they're conceding it. and because we're conceding the fact of obstruction of justice, we're going to say the president can't legally obstruct justice. >> here is the concession, but you can't get it for u >> because they're petrified of a live interview. >> natasha bertrand and jed, thank you future being with us.
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hello, officers. senator jeff merkley. >> how are you. >> good, good. i called the number here on this sign, and the young lady said a supervisor would be very happy to come out and talk with me. >> on sunday, junes senator jeff merkley, who you saw there, went to an immigrant detention center to an old walmart thats that been decommissioned to try to find out why parents are being
ripped from their children at the border. >> yes, hello there. this is u.s. senator jeff merkley, and i'm here at thes could is a de padres facility for the children. i called -- my team called last week for me to arrange to be able to come and visit this facility. can you please give me a tour of it? >> a tour? >> can i talk to the supervisor who is here? because maybe they can explain to me -- >> well, maybe. i can give you the number. but you cannot come in. >> i don't want the number. i want to actually talk to the supervisor. >> there is -- right there is no information. >> whatever individual is in charge would be great to come and share and talk with me. greetings. is the supervisor coming out? mr. sanchez? the supervisor, yes. >> i want to introduce you to my team.
>> i'll be with you guys in just a minute. >> hello, officer. senator jeff merkley. >> how are you doing? >> good, good, good. i called the number here on this sign and the young lady said the supervisor would be ve h to come out and talk to me. haven't been asked to leave the property, but i'm guessing that's what's out to happen. >> yes, that's what they're going for. what is your name again? >> senator jeff merkley. u.s. senator jeff merkley. >> how do you spell? >> m-e-r-k-l-e-y. >> and your date of birth, sir? >> october. >> 24th, 1956. i'm a u.s. senator. and u.s. policy is involved right now with children. are you familiar with this policy? >> no. this is not something that we specifically deal with. but just so i can id it and advise my sergeant that you're here. >> the supervisor is here.
if he wants us to leave the property, he can ask. but he hasn't asked yet. >> would you guys mind? >> have i now been asked to leave the property. so i'll comply with that. >> and senator jeff merkley, democrat of oregon, joins me now from washington, d.c. it's good to see you, senator. i want to be clear on. this you reached out to dhs through your staff through official channels to arrange some sort of visit before going down there, correct? >> well, i was seeking to get into three different places. one is a processing center run by dhs, the department of homeland security. and i was given permission to do that. the second was a respite center run by the catholic church, and i received permission for that. the third place is after dhs hands the children over to the department of health and human services, and it's run by the office of refugee relocation. and so this was technically we reached out to that office to get into this facility, and they said no. >> and that facility, that is the blacked out windows, that's an old walmart with blacked out windows. it has children, both who come
unaccompanied and children who have been taken way from their parents who are then housed in that facility? is that correct? >> that's my understanding. i wasn't able to get precise answers, but those who work with refugees there say that is the case, that there are roughly a thousand children inside behind those doors. without adults. >> now, you went to a facility in mcallen, and you got to see a kind of processing center. what did you see there? what did you witness? >> well, the first room had a series of cages that look a lot like dog kennels in which people had recently arrived and been put into them. they were very crowded. the individuals had space blankets. so you had all these silver space blankets. no mattresses, and people looking very distressed and upset. a number of women holding children in their arms. and then adjacent to that is a very, very large warehouse with much larger cages. and in those the children have already been separated away from the parents. there is one cage that had
children who -- young boys who were being lined up for food. and they started with the smallest in front you. had a little toddler, he must have been 4 or 5 years old up through youth that are 16 or 17. and they -- some of those may have been unaccompanied. others were undoubtedly take way from their families, for families that are seeking asylum. so these are families that are coming to the u.s., having gone through horrific circumstances abroad, having this vision of the statue of liberty and the fact that americans, virtually all of us have some member of our family tree at some point who came here escaping oppression, expecting that they finally made to it the shores of the u.s., and now they'll get a fair chance to present their case for asylum. and instead, they go through a new trauma with their children ripped out of their arms, sent away until they have no idea where, no idea where they are going, no idea how to contact their children. it's hugely stressful for the
parents for sure, but think of the trauma to the children who know nothing about this new land except the security of their parents and they're torn away from them. >> i want to play for you. the trump administration has been a little coy about whether this is what they're doing or and their line is we have a zero tolerance policy. well prosecute everyone who crosses the border. here is what dhs secretary nielsen had to say in arizona last week. to it.ve to get you to respond take a listen. >> it appears our critics want a two-tier legal system. they think illegal aliens should get different, perhaps better treatment than u.s. citizens because they happen to be illegal aliens. no jail if they have family. no critical consequences if they have children. i'm here today to tell you differently. if you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, we will prosecute you. if you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you. and if you make a false immigration claim, we will prosecute you. the lawlessness has to end. >> what do you think of that?
>> well, kerstin should be absolutelyshamed of herself on this. here you have families who are presenting themselves at the border. they are saying we are here. we have gohrough horrific circumstance are seeking asylum. we have always treated such families not as illegals but people legitimately under international law as seeking asylum. the children have always been kept with the parents. there is no reason not to keep them with the parents. they're going to go through adjudication. if they're judged they have enough documentation to meet the standard, they'll be granted asylum. if they don't, they'll be returned to their host country. but we never treat them by inflicting a new cruel trade. >> on the children by ripping them out of their parents' arms. that's a new unacceptable policy. the administration trying to change the topic in every possible way. but on this, they have no moral standing to tear these children away from their parents who are seeking asylum. >> all right.
senator jeff merkley, thank you. >> thank you. >> tomorrow, actually, the new episode of our podcast why is this happening is all about this topic, about the act of separating children from their parents, and what it is like for people seeking asylum in this country. lee gelern is the lead lawyer against the trump administration to stop this very process, and he gives some powerful context about what we're witnessing unfold. tune in or wherever you get your podcast. ahead the president got a nice envelope photo with north korea while tensions are escalating with canada? how the trump foreign policy is faring. but first, scott pruitt leaves the last s off for savings in tonight's thing 1, thing 2, next.
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thing 1 tonight. scott pruitt is still employed. and not only, that the epa administrator seems to be going for the all-time world record of ethical scandals by the government employee. there is of course the nearly $3 million we're paying for his round-the-clock security, and his penchant for first class travel, routinely spending thousands on arend staying in high-end hotels. he famously got a sweetheart deal on a d.c. apartment owned by an energy lobbyist who had business before his agency. and don't fret the 43,000 soundproof phone booth that he got put in his office. scott pruitt is now facing no less than one dozen investigations into his conduct. but what puts him in the top tier of corrupt trump
the latest in a long list of scandals for scott pruitt involves the epa administrator assigning government employees to do personal tasks for him, like apartment shopping for him and arranging a vacation for his family, or trying to buy him a used mattress from president trump. no, not that mattress. get your head out of the gutter. this one was from the trump international hotel in washington, d.c. scott pruitt wanted to buy one used to save money, and he tasked one of his top aides with doing the dirty work. in addition to being the president, trump of course sells mattresses. of course, why not? he has tweeted about them here and there.
and this a great deal for the presenea got paid once when the trump hotel bought the trump mattresses from trump. and now scott pruitt comes along to pay trump again for the same trump mattress. if you're wondering, it was the trump home luxury plush euro top that pruitt was after, which does actually sound like a really nice mattress, although i guess that depends on who's been using it before you. you like dinosaurs?
we just learned a few minutes ago, okay. special counsel robert mueller has ju a audge in u.s. distct court, the district of columbia to revoke former trump campaign manager paul manafort's bail. reuters reporting tonight the federal prosecutors say that manart tried to ta with potential witnesses while out on supervised release, that he called, texted, and sent encrypted messages to two people in february to influence their testimony and to otherwise conceal evidence. now paul manafort is currently facing two trials this fall and is out on bail with two ankle bracelets, though perhaps not for long. with the largest selection of audiobooks. audible lets you follow plot twists off the beaten track. or discover magic when you hit the open road. with the free audible app, your stories go wherever you do.
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trust us and our enemies don't fear us. >> our allies don't trust us. our enemies don't fear us. >> i think our friends no longer count on us, no longer trust us, and our adversaries don't fear us. >> republicans railed against president obama's foreign policy, accusing him of abandoning america's allies and placating america's enemies. but that critique seems much better suited for where we are right now with this current administration. 17 months in the trump presidency the white house has announced new tariffs on the eu, canada and mexico. it pulled out of the iran nuclear deal, enraging its allies in europe. pulled out of the paris accords. and meanwhile, president trump is getting letters from kim jong un and planning to sit down with him next month. with me here in new york is msnbc's newest political contributor ben rhodes. former deputy national security adviser for barack obama. who has a new book that goes on sale tomorrow called "the world as it is, a memoir of the obama white house." congratulations. it's a re well-written book. >> thank you. >> that was a central idea of the critique of the obama
administration, particularly like the iran deal, you guys are running around casing the iran deal and you've alienated all of our friends. what do you make of where we are right now between the red carpet being rolled out for north korea while we're giving canada the metaphorical finger? >> well, chris, it is kind of a whiplash on a day basis because they would hurl that critique at us but barack obama's standing among our closest allies in europe and asia was higher than any president in recent memory. what they've done is profoundly alienate our allies, not just on an issue but to the point where i think in europe and asia they're beginning to fundamentally question their relationship with the united states. i mean, this is the actual crisis that they used to rail about happening before our eyes, and it's not just on one issue. it really could be a drift apart between the united states and the countries we count on the most in the world. >> i used to think that a lot of this was driven by both ideology and sort of interest group politics, right? so that you've got certain --
you know, the democrats have a coalition, the republicans have a coalition, they have different interest groups. but i sat there and watched a crowd of people in indiana chant "nobel, nobel," about donald trump and north korea. and i thought to myself maybe it's just cult of personality, like whatever the opposite of obama does they're going to go for. >> well, chris, in the book go all the way back to the beginning on the campaign when i went to work for barack obama. the week i went to work for him he said in a debate that he uld sit down with the leaders of iran and north korea and cuba if it could advance our interests. and you know, i describe how there was this explosion on the right of how dare he, he's selling out america and he must be a foreigner. he must be un-american. he's probably from kenya if he's willing to sit down with leaders of these countries, that's the worst thing we could ever do. and he said, well, it's common sense, we've gotten nowhere with iran, nowhere with cuba, i'm willing to do that if i can change the dynamic. and he did. now you have a republican president doing the exact same thing and suddenly they're chanting nobel.
it goes to show that this is not rooted in any ideology or any set of ideas about how america should act in the world. it really is just the r, the d next to the person who's in the office. >> did you come to internalize that in the white house? did you come to -- i feel like there was a long trajectory but by the end of the obama white house sort of understood the world they were in in a different way than they began. >> we did. one of the things that i write about is cuba, w you know, essentially the only -- nobody could argue that our cuba policy was working. even if you think that we should apply maximum pressure on the castro regime, it's not like the embargo had worked the last 50 years. part of of what we had to do was they're going to criticize us no matter what we, do so we're going to doo what we want to do. that's how you get a cuba opening and an iran deal and a paris climate agreement because there was not an opportunity to bring themng on military intervention. they were all for intervening in libya until the day barack obama did it zme were all against it. and you just had to realize that we had an opposition party that
had no interest in doing anything with barack obama. >> what do you think about watching this administration function? we just got the news that paul manafort is -- robert mueller has filed in court to maybe revoke his braille and put him in jail because they say he's trying to influence witnesses improperly. there's the mueller investigation. there's the russia issue which hangs over everything. what has it been like to process this? >> well, number one, they don't operate in any recognizable way as someone who was there for eight years, you know, the way they conduct themselves, their fidelity to the truth, the way they treat the news media, the way they treat allies doesn't comport with any standard of behavior that i would come to expect in the white house. the second thing is the corruption. you know, in foreign policy just the blurred lines with china and saudi arabia and the united arab emirates between what might be financial interests for the trump family and decisions that
are being made about our foreign policy that is not getting any scrutiny. without congressional oversight it's not going to get scrutiny. that to me is a threat that i would like to see people pulling on. but the last thing is they think they can throw a bunch of sand up in the air and put distractions out there to belie the actual issues. and what you see on a daily basis is you have an investigation about the most profound question imaginable. did a foreign adversary collude with the candidate for a major -- the nominee of a major party to win the election. but it's got to be about some other issue every day. it's always a conspiracy theory they need to have directed at somebody else. some nights it's me. because they don't want that to be on them. >> i've asked you this before, and it was in the context of the iran deal. you have become a poster boy for a certain kind of critique of obama white house policy, arrogance. there's this real anti-ben rhodes cult that centers on you as somehow the mastermind behind what?
behind the fecklessness of the obama regime? what is it? why do you -- why do you provoke so much animus? >> well, first of all, it was interesting, in writing the book i had to go through this experience. you know, i was 29 when i went to work for obama. i was 31 when i came to the white house. i was relatively anonymous. i was a blank slate. and what they did is when they figured out that i was a close adviser to obama, personally close to him a few years in, i think they decided, well, we can turn this guy into whatever we wa. because i had no established image. and so one manufactured scandal after another. they kind of created this cartoon of me. you know, first it was benghazi and leaks and then iran. you know, and i think it was my proximity to obama and i was seen as close to him. so it was a way of getting at obama without hitting him directly. and it was the fact they could invent whatever personal they wanted for me because i wasn't john kerry or hillary clinton. >> yeah. it's sort of useful to be a blank slate in those circumstances.
ben rhodes, whose new book "the world as it is:some a memoir of the obama white house," goes on sale tomorrow, thanks for joining us. >> thanks, chris. >> that is "all in" for this evening. the breaking news we're covering tonight, the former trump campaign chairman paul manafort is in even hotter water. a new court filing from the mueller team tonight alleges witness tampering. plus donald trump's claim that he has the absolute right to pardon himself. we'll ask the top democrat on house intel whether the president is indeed above the law. and bill clinton 20 years after impeachment back in the headlines for his comments about the "me too" movement and monica lewinsky. "the 11th hour" on a busy monday night begins now. well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters in new york. this was day 501 of the trump administration, and as we come