tv MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin MSNBC August 24, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PDT
that's it for "andrea mitchell reports." please keep john mccain in your heart and prayers. craig melvin is next. >> indeed. >> good afternoon to you. craig melvin is here. we continue to follow the breaking news, immunity, a second trump confidante was given immunity, we are following the money on this friday. be a tabloid pub isslisher, all cooperating with prosecutors, what does it mean on president trump? attack on justice with the president backed in a corner and
he's ratcheting those attacks on sessions. it could damage the country and the rule of law. we'll start with the breaking news. a new and dramatic turn of events of the michael cohen's investigation. a second grant of immunity to a trump's loyalist by federal prosecutors in as many days this time, allen weisselberg, he's the long-term financial head of trump organization, multiple sources. weisselberg was in involved in that payment to stormy daniels. the news comes the day after reports that david pecker was also granted immunity in the cohen's investigation. of course, all of this after michael himself on tuesday implicated that he paid hush money on behalf of the candidate during the campaign and trump told him to do it.
with this to break it all down, our tom winter and ken dilanian and our nbc's kristen welker with us at the white house. kristen, i will start with you. what is the mood right there on this friday afternoon and when may we expect to hear from president trump on camera about any of this. >> first to the move, there is no doubt that the president troubles are mounting and that's weighing on the white house and officials here. they are pounded with questions about all of this from us and also trying to figure out what their strategies are going to be. strategies seem to be keeping their heads down and focusing on the policy. they say look, the president is fine, so farthest been watching these sort of extraordinary headlines mount. we are seeing him lash out on twitter. look, that does not reflect what's going on behind the scenes. but, craig he's lashing out on twitter and so it is notable.
taking aim at everyone from michael cohen to of course the special counsel investigation broadly ramping up his attacks against both. then taking fresh aim at attorney general jeff sessions during a fox news interview and again today on twitter underscoring the fact that this is increasingly getting to him and he may be concerned. his legal team has of course pushed back. sarah sanders from the podium has pushed back forcefully and their strategy, their talking point is the president has done nothing wrong. you will hear and see a lot more of that in ter. president trump departs for ohio later today, he'll attend a state party dinner there. we'll try to get some questions to him before he leaves about all of this because there is been so many developments over the past several days. will he addresses and will he
speak tonight? this is viewed like a boxing match. you get knocked down and you have to get backup and keep fighting and get ready for the next round. there are no strangers to be under sieged and in battle here at the white house. they're looking at this of one more instance. >> kristen welker from the briefing room there, thank you. >> weisselberg, he's got a low public profile. what do we know about him and what do we know of his ties to the president and what would prosecutors want from him? >> we know his relationship with the trump organization and the fols trump family and it goes back a long time. it goes back to when his father was around. allen weisselberg, he's somebody that -- he's the guy that according to information that michael cohen pled to, hey, you pay this and you can approve this invoice and cut this check and etcetera, he's the guy that got his hands-on the
pursestring. for somebody like donald trump who he knows focused on the bottom line. this is somebody that's going to have a lot of sway and a lot of responsibility within the trump organization. i gotten questions this afternoon cooperations verses immunity. what are we talking about here? immunity, we are saying that person is going to provide testimony or provide information without fear of that information coming back on them fch, if the have dpoing going to tell prose hey, i know about this. if they have legal exposure, they'll be immunized from that going forward. it does not necessarily mean that allen weisselberg is walking in and out of the prosecu prosecutor's office hey, i thought of something else and i can help you out with this. i want to kind of limit a little bit based on the terminology that's being used and the people that we are talking to. the other thing we are trying to
get our hands-on is there something that's backward or forward looking. the u.s. attorney's office is not commenting on this at all. what we are trying to figure out is, is his immunity, what he told him is it all tied to the michael cohen's case investigation, and now the case is over, does it end here? >> is it going to continue forward depending on whatever other information that was found in that search warrant back in april. anything else that may come up. that's something we still try to get our hands-on. >> we got reports of david pecker immunity deal. this is all part of the cohen's investigation. it is not apart of mueller's probe. >> i would say he's a direct interest, craig. as tom winter has been telling us all along, this michael cohen's investigation has been conducted in conjunction with mueller probe.
>> the justice department farmed this aspect of it out to the southern district of new york. the long time fixer and lawyer for donald trump is believed to have some information pertinent. this line of inquiry also raises other questions. michael cohen has gone into court and in criminated the president and said he participated in a scheme that violate campaign violence laws. what becomes of that allegation? if the sitting president can't be indicted, what will the southern district new york do to investigate. >> does there need to be another special counsel? these are all questions that's raised in new york city. >> thank you, tom and ken.
>> i want to bring in john meacham. >> let me start with you seth, cohen's plea and david pecker. >> it is a big week for prosecution. professional advisers like these people, attorneys and cfos and business associates can provide incredibly important information so when you put those all three together, it is a big week for the prosecution and would they give immunity to more than one person? sure. the question is to what kind of immunity has been given and what the scope of that immunity is. these are not good legal development for trump and his team. >> would they grant immunity to both of them, to pecker and weisselberg. >> if cohen got this treasure-trove of evidence
reportedly e-mails and text messages and recordings. would a prosecutors need to run immunity deals to these two gentlemen to get michael cohen? >> no, mr. cohen already pled guilty. to me this is all about moving up the chain and going to higher levels of trump organization and no higher level than the president of the united states and that seems to be a clear goal immunizing important members of the trump administration with regards to mr. weisselberg and cohen. this is a huge play up and towards the president. >> jon meacham, it is quite a week and hard to fathom that cohen was indicted earlier this week. you got cohen and pecker and weisselberg. what, jon meacham, do you make
of all the president's closest advisers. >> for more than two years and almost three years now, we have talked about the political sign post that we are all accustom to that donald trump blew passed or ran over or ignored. he got away with it and saying things tho mainstream politicians can get away with. he got away with defining political gravity again and again. what we are seeing now is no one can define legal gravity. politics is more fluid and it is about the disposition of heart and mind and temperament of a given number of people at a given moment. the law is the law. i think that as frustrating as it is for those of us who are engaged in the arena to think that all this moves so slowly, the legal wheels have always moved more slowly than the political ones. i think when we write about this
period, we'll look back on august of 2018 as an inflection point where the legal sign posts actually have resisted trump's attempts to blow pass them or run them down. >> one of major is watergate. follow the money. it seems that that is what investigators are doing here with president trump. they're following the money. is it strange to think that donald trump could have been autoware of all of this as it was happening. the trump candidacy have stretched irony beyond any human rec nerecognition. i don't think so when people were talking to the trump campaign and getting involved in
summer of '18. i had people telling me, i suspect you hear the same thing. one of the things that's interesting and unnerving of the trump operation was that you can fit the significant people in one town card. the candidate and the president runs his own operation. the solidism of the trump organization and branding his name is everything is so m extent coming home to roots. >> i want to read part of this story from "the wall street journal." >> executives, mr. cohen requested reimbursement, bubbling it to $360,000 and added a $60,000 bonus to the document. the next month, one executive at the company asked another executive to pay mr. cohen's monthly retainer from the trust
and post legal expenses. >> if that's true, what does that say to you of the way of trump organization handles money, does that sound and medical like money laundering. >> the way they disguise these transactions and booking them in an odd way. prosecutors will look at that and an effort to conceal the nature and transactions. all of that put together is materials that prosecution will be using as it moves forward you will to the knowledge he had signed off. one of the questions i had, discussing august 2018, maybe it is a reflection point. >> i know mr. trump is not up for election here in innovanove. >> maybe we have seen this flood of activity before september 5
otherwise. they don't want to mess with it and we may be in the critical two weeks and why we are seeing so much activities right now. >> seth waxman. >> and jon. >> pickup turning to twitter, of course, hammering jeff sessions, call him to investigate democrats and other political poe pee opponents. >> out pouring support from both sides of the isle. and voice of the people, do american voters in the hartland. >> do they really care about the president's legal trouble. >> we'll head to nebraska, the state fair is happening in hush hush -- russia. we'll ask voters about that question. to look at me now,
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verdict. >> kelly o'donell covered the campaign of mccain. let me start with you kelly, what more do we know right now in. >> he's been battling this form of brain cancer for 14 months. he has been away from washington for several months, going through treatments which included all the things that are associated with cancer treatment but also additional treatments for the cause of that cancer treatment to his body. those who have been around him say he has been in very good spirit up until this period of time when they had to make this decision, the toll of the disease is very severe. his 82nd birthday is next week. family are around him and closed friends who are traveling to arizona.
this is the kind of situation where they have prepared for this and he's been involved in making decisions about his care along the way and also planning for this kind of statement today where there is a resilience that has been apart of his political identity and something they wanted to convey as well. during this process, he has been supported by people like joe biden, who's a long time friend and a senate colleague with so many years of john mccain and the vice president had the experience of his own son bo going through the same form of cancer and also ted kennedy, he would tell me stories when i was covering him there how he and ted kennedy enjoyed in political debates. at times for the camera and the gallery, the members of the public who could be inside the chamber at the u.s. capitol. john mccain as i have covered
him and known him is a feisty spirit, he enjoys being funny and poking fun, he enjoys a good fight. he really savor the opportunity toe engage politically with his politics. at times including throwing some elbow a elbows and barbs at them. >> of course, from a navy family and the other thing that always strike me is we think of him as a presidential national figure because he was the nominee for the republican party long known for his p.o.w. and the five and a half years of captivity in vietnam and the brutal suffering he endured there and the senator but he often would say to me, the people of arizona knows me and i know them. a national figure who always
talks about the people of arizona. he did not have a home base of his own. when he met hensley mccain and they became a family and arizona has became his home and he represented arizona for decades >> kelly o'donell. thank you for that positive. >> i want to bring in jon meacham. what's not lost on me, jon, here we are day by day and week by week, lurching from one scandal to the next. here we are talking about john mccain. >> what to you does he represent in american politics? >> well, he was born into a tradition of sacrificial service. >> he spent the five years or so in captivity.
he learned the senate as the navy up there when he came back and went off after his father died and he ran for the house and the senate. what he represents in the broadest possible self-defense is he was a realistic romantic. he loved american history and he loved america's literature. his favorite line is robert jordan's the observation, at the end of hemmingway. >> the world is a fine place and it is worth leaving it. >> senator mccain always hate leaving a fight. >> one of the things that is so poignant here that president trump has gone out of his way for over two or three years now to take mccain on and it is one of the dumber fights could ever
pick is trying to pick a fight with a man who has given so much of his life to the life of the country and the senate. what we see and i suspect in coming days and weeks is a appreciation of signatuervice. john mccain is not perfect, but he believes he'll put the country first. we have a president who only believes in himself. the contrast could not be darker. >> sacrificial. >> thank you, jon meacham. >> the latest member of trump inner circle to be offered a deal. what it all means for the
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news, trump's former campaign found guilty on bank fraud. his one time publisher pal takes an immunity deal. we learn the bookkeeper has always taken immunity deal. >> donald trump's response batter the attorney general in into looking into the corruption. jon meacham is back to me with the story. is jeff sessions under - let me start with you mr. meacham, i want to read more of that tweet that i mentioned, one of the three tweets directed at jeff sessions. it is sessions that we brought you yesterday on this broadcast. the department of justice will not be properly influenced by political consideration. >> yjeff, this is great.
this is what everyone wants. john meacham, what are the -- if president obama delivered all the corruptions. >> is there a term for somezom e zombie -- it would have been a political armaegadon. >> one of the things that's so fascinated about this. richard nixon had his lie feeds in tapes in 1953. remember those old, the old
x-ray glasses they used to sign in the back of comic books, you can see things. >> i heard of them. >> oh yeah, i know. i am older than you. the president's twitter account gives us this x-ray vision into his anxiety. they're growing more and more tr frantic. >> president trump is now talking to his phone and it is do either of them talk back. >> i want to play from attorney gonzalez. hear this. >> in what i hear the con tant of the criticism of the ordinary reason general. he criticized and does nothing about it. >> thomas, must he have a point there, does gonzalez make trump looked weak or a former isobars testifying, is that what makes
him look weak. >> yorng it makes the president looking strong when he's criticizing his attorney general continually on multiple fronts. it is the end of the day, it is the president's authority to remove sessions. i don't think this is a healthy situation for anyone, for the president or attorney general or frankly for the country. the president has to think straight and get on the same page. if they can't then he probably go look for a new attorney general. >> tom, i want to remind everyone of what the president said about jeff sessions of the interview that was interviewed. >> i put in jeff sessions, he never took control of the problems. even with my enemy, he should have told you that he's going to recuse himself then you would not but him in. >> after the president's interview faired and sessions issued that statement saying it
is a deal that you won't be satisfied. >> the two of them met at the white house. not a word of any of that was mentioned. why would president trump not say that jeff sessions' face. >> that's more of the extraordinary aspect that we see it unfolding. >> behind closed doors and bringing him into the office, you have to get your act together and do the following n few things. >> he's not having the attorney with the ordinary reason general, he has had -- now, he's putting general general of this and contradicts the president with tweets of his own. >> i want to read something that the washington post is reporting here, john meacham. >> trump told advisers that he
sees probes and investigation are for him. he needs republicans to stick close no matter what mueller find. >> it is going to require accomplice city. >> the whole trump doctrine and so far as there is one paula ebben thomas and furture, it is total welfare, right? >> he learned it from roy coin and help constituter in the 950s. if you get a bad headline, what do you do? >> you tweet that out and you bring up serious of things of the other side. you always fight. you and i have talked about this before. we are living in this world where it is the world against all. >> just one thing about jeff sessions, you know the attorney
general is in an unusual about net position. >> he also represents the rule of law. i think that to some extent the way sessions have conducted himself as far as we know the fact that test prus straighting the president this much says more good than a lot of us thought would be possible. >> john meacham thank you so much. >> tom, a ig be dharcbig thanks well. >> coming up, standby your man. republicans facing a make or break moment of truth. i have the midterms. defendant, call them out or k p quiet. >> is hundred dan hunter taking a place out of president trump's book. >> he says he's not doing anything wrong and we'll tell
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the first survivor of alzis out there.ase and the alzheimer's association is going to make it happen. but we won't get there without you. join the fight with the alzheimer's association. more breaking news right now on this friday afternoon, it would seem as if our attempt of a talk at north korea is now put on hold. this tweet from president trump a few moments ago, i have asked secretary of state, mike pompeo,
not to go to north korea at this time. i feel that we are not making sufficient progress with respect
to the denuclearization of the korean peninsula. after that, the president adding, oh, we are going to scroll down in realtime here additionally because of our much tougher stance in chin china -- secretary pompeo will go forward most likely after our trading relationship with china is
resolved. >> this would of course come on the heels of why spread reporting that the north koreans were essentially not keeping up their end of the bargain from the beginning. david french senior writer at the national review joins me now. >> joand our msnbc contributor. david, let me start with you,
how does the president in one breath and i believe it was just a week or so ago guarantee this new relationship with north korea and now tweet, you know, we are not going to see them after all. it appears that the north koreans lied to me. >> the only thing that's surprising of that tweet is it is partly prudent. it is prudent to withdraw your secretary of state from fruitless negotiations. the problem is if anyone has paid attention to the enduring challenge of north korea and the generations long of north korea is they have been losing the football on a nuclear deal for years and years and trump fell for it, hopefully, now he's beginning to wake up and although the little valentine's towards the end of kim jong-un
caused for concerns, he can't help himself in thinking he can charm them out or either bully them out of a generation long course of conduct. that's not how it works on the korean peninsula. >> hans nichols is joining me now. as we start this conversation, we are working to get some of the video and pictures of that summit. president trump is standing there with kim jong-un, smiling ear to ear. hans, what happened here? >> we know back in may the president cancelled that summit because he didn't think the north koreans were acting serious enough. this happens tsa state department is apparently going forward with their diplomacy. yesterday they announced that steve beacon a long time national security expert was going to take over and be the special envoy.
diplomacy was proceeding. secretary mattis is traveling today and figure out some sort of a question to him when he gets back. what we heard from the pentagon of the entire process is a great deal of caution. north korea is not giving up near nuclear weapons. you heard from the president that a lot more optimism. officials here at the poentagon who are very suspicious. what they say here at the pentagon that they are prepared for any orders the president gives but the maximum pressure cal pa campaign and maintains and heats up the pressure of north korea. >> quickly we saw that earlier this week when the treasure department sanctions russian
vesse vessels. one thing that's clear across the entire government is that they want the sanctions to bite to force kim jong-un to the negotiating table. i am across the hall here and seeing what the pentagon's next move is. >> before you take off, one of the things that came out of the summit as i recall that the president boosted several times after that that the north koreans have stopped their missing testings. what do we know about that and the north koreans and their missiles right now. >> there is a great deal dispute on where they are in terms of what they are doing in terms of what they're doing with their nuclear program. you saw reports just a few days ago saying there is no evidence that north korea is scaling back its nuclear ambition, yes, they took that testing site down. officials were clear that they blew up some openings and it was a big powerful blast and you saw the percussion shots taking out
some trees. in reality they can reopen that up and take care and make that operational again. there is always been skepticism both from officials in the korean peninsula and here at the pentagon about how serious kim jong-un is. after that singapore summit, you had the president, president trump so willing to believe kim jong-un. remember there is that exchange of letters and the last time pompeo was in north korea, he did not get to meet with kim jong-un and even though the white house says he's going to meet with kim jong-un. there is been all these signs and up to this point, president trump was willing to give north koreans the benefit of the doubt. that looks like it is changed right here and right now. that's why it is a significant development. >> i want to bring in jonathan, hans used the word here, jonathan that i am going to start with with you here, the word being skepticism. >> could it be here the last two or three hours reporting extensively on the latest member
of the president's inner circle to take immunity deal to start cooperating with prosecutors and all of a sudden, at about 1:30 on a friday afternoon of the midst of all of the coverage, the president decides to announce that the north koreans are not who we thought they were, distractions? >> if that's what he was going for, it does not work because this the one distraction where everyone will look at tweet and say, anyone who has been paying attention and say what took you so long? this is not going to stop us from talking about the finance guy and talking about the publishing guy or talking about the former fixer guy. look, the knnorth koreans got fm president trump of everything they wanted. they wanted to stand on par. donald trump did something no
other president has done before. that was meet the leader of north korea. in the press conference as you remember or at least in the document that they released, the united states postponed -- and david french correct me if i am wrong, they postponed events with north korea and those are things that really upset north korea. you had a situation where the president leaving singapore where everything is great and we are doing to denuclearize north korea and this is the third thing, craig, denuclearization of the korean peninsula means something completely different to the north koreans. and he used to send shivers down the spine of south korea because that means north and south korea would have to disavowal weapons.
for president trump to make this announcement and think that he'll distract from the serious legal and political problems that he has been in for the last 48 hours, i don't know why he thought that. >> david french. i will pose you that same question, is the president trying to once again distract us? >> i don't know if there is that much method to it. i think he's an impulsive tweeter and occasionally calculated tweeter. who knows what's going through his mind here. i think that one thing that jonathan said and that is important to emphasize is circle back here and reemphasize how much north korea got out of that summit and how little we got out of that summit. one of this things that's really important for people to understand that when you hear things that north korea has not tested more missiles or more
bombs. when you tested the missiles and it works and when you tested the bomb technology and it works, there is not a need nor continual monthly testing. right now there is an existing bomb making capacity, an existing missile making capacity that north korea has that we have zero indication is willing to give up and an awful a lot of indication that it is not willing to give it up. it is so central to their identity as a nation and so central to what put them on the world's stage in the first place. why would they give up the capacity that put them up on the world's stage in the first place? no one has been able to explain. >> hans nichols, you are still standing by for me there at the pentagon. >> i am standing by here and i am doing like what other people are doing and that's reading the
president's tweets. very frequently orders are given via that channel and not through the traditional means. just last week traditional means. last week when it was canceled and postponed, the following morning on that military parade he wanted to do over the veterans day holiday, you saw the president order that done down by tweet. now the savings on that will be in dispute and they will have a back and forth how much has been saved. we saw it with the transgender decision coming down from the president. there are so many times when something that normally would come through official channels, go through a vetting process, get sent out from the president's twitter handle and they have to react at the pentagon. >> hans, thank you. big thanks to you as well, david. coming up, president trump's no good, very bad week. what do voters, what do they make of all of it? we will hear from some of them next.
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>> president trump pausing talks with north korea. nebraska, of course, trump country. the president won that state with nearly 59% of the vote in 2016. so what do voters there think of the trump presidency 582 days into this administration? what do they think of all that's happened this week alone? nbc's vaughn hilliard is at the
fair in grand island, nebraska. another state fair, vaughn. what are they saying there, buddy? >> another state fair. a different type of carnival in the middle of nebraska, craig. when you talk to the voters out here there is a wide array. democrats from the city, rural republican voters. here is what a view of them told us here this morning. has the president let you down? >> honestly, i didn't expect anything different from the beginning. i mean, that's what concerned me from the beginning was there was a lot of dishonesty there. >> i think we need the wall or something to stop that. >> reporter: has he done enough yet? >> he is trying. but his hands are tied, too. >> reporter: by who? >> the democrats. >> they're guilty. i mean, is trump guilty just because he used these guys, you know? who knows if he told them to do that or if they just did it on their own, you know? what are we going to do? impeach him? >> reporter: craig, you heard
that woman in the middle. she mentioned immigration, the wall. i bring that up because the trump supporters that we talked to after i asked them about draining the swamp and the conviction of paul manafort and the plea, the guilty plea by mr. cohen, they said that, look it, past administrations have been corrupt, too, and they said that we're focused on the issues like illegal immigration. >> it is so helpful to hear and see from voters and citizens there. thank you so much. and we will be right back.
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>> going to wrap up this hour of "msnbc live." katy tur is here. >> so soon? >> i have given you an hour. ready? . i'm ready. >> take it away. >> thank you very much. it's 11:00 a.m. out west and 2:00 p.m. in washington where we expect the president and first lady to depart for columbus, ohio, for a fundraising dinner tonight. it's a likely welcome distraction given the tumultuous week of news. a third person has done when what the presidented suggested should be illegal. allen weisselberger, identified as executive one in michael cohen's plea agreement, is providing information to federal