tv The Beat With Ari Melber MSNBC August 24, 2018 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
>> adam west was in everything, as you know, he does cameos everywhere. anyway, why should n't democrat have a block buster midterm movie? the republicans already have theirs. "the beat" starts right now. ayman mohyeldin is in for our friend ari melber. >> good sound track. >> groove it out, man, we'll all be doing it. >> great way to finish a week. what a week it's been, right? >> yeah, good luck, don't get knocked off this surf board. >> thanks, chuck. i'm ayman mohyeldin, in tonight for ari melber. donald trump's finance chief has been given immunity by the feds, trump is trying to get jeff sessions to investigate bob mueller. a key figure from the watergate era says trump should resign.
i'm going to talk to the man who was the lawyer for nixon's vice president, but we start with extraordinary new legal pressure on trump. trump's chief financial officer allen weisselberg is talking to the feds with immunity. he's the guy who prepared trump's tax returns, oversaw all of the trump organization financial transactions and infrastructure, including, apparently, the hush money. the feds referred to weisselberg has executive one in the michael cohen court documents, the one who arranged for, quote, payment for services rendered, the hush money to cover up trump's alleged affairs. weisselberg is in the center of it, the guy put in charge after the election. >> he has relinquished leadership and management of the trump organization to his sons don and eric, and a longtime trump executive allen weisselberg. don, eric and allen are committed to ensuring that the
activities of the trump organization are beyond reproach. >> all right, so those activities of the trump organization may soon lead to criminal charges brought by the district attorney here in manhattan. weisselberg becomes the latest trump associate to get immunity or to cooperate with the feds. that includes david pecker, the publisher of the narc enquirer who allegedly worked with cohen to silence trump's women, the ap reports that there was a secret safe at the "enquirer" headquarters where they locked up stories that were damaging to president trump. and another executive was known to have a recording device, believe it or not, in his office. so as a result of these immunity deals there could be even more evidence, including new tapes, in the hands of the feds tonight. and there are more people that trump once trusted who are now spilling secrets. right now, trump is speaking at a gop fundraiser in ohio, you see live pictures there. if he says anything about his legal problems we will certainly
bring that news to you right away. joining me now is former federal prosecutor seth waxman. shelby holiday from the wall street journal, and glenda blare, author of "the trumps," glenda is an expert on the trumps, writing one of the definitive books on the family. shelby, let me begin with you, and let's talk about weisselberg. who is this man in the center of trump world, if you will? >> he's an incredibly important figure and hats off to my colleagues at the journal for breaking this story that he has immunity. there are some questions about the extent of his immunity, what questions he has to answer, sharing information just about the hush money or information beyond those. he's an incredibly important figure who's been with the trump organization for decades before trump even took over from his father. he's been with trump through bankruptcies, through the reality tv saga, through all of his booms and busts. he knows where the proverbial bodies are buried.
weave hea we've heard that a lot today. he's very in control of trump's finances now that trump is president. he could know important things for the grand jury and mueller's investigation, for example, if he is actually cooperating with them and sharing information with them as well. >> i don't know if you've ever had a chance to interview weisselberg. >> i did. >> what did you glean from him as a personality, the way he functioned within that world? was he meticulous, did he come across as the person who would be extremely loyal to president trump? why would you think he would seek immunity? >> i don't want to suggest we were bffs, but what i did -- my impressions and my recollections when i did interview him when i was doing my book, he came -- he worked for fred first, for donald's father, so he was a continuity from the earlier version of the trump organization under his father. and donald trump, we have to remember, the big influences on him, school of fred, that was one of them. so this was a guy who already,
allen weisselberg, was somebody who had already been part of that world where, you know, the incredibly sharp business dealing, squeeze everything you can out of your -- >> he's a holdover from the fed era. >> yeah. >> how much do you think he actually knew about the trump world? >> a lot. >> if you had to quantify it. >> pretty much everything. and when i interviewed them the trump organization, one of the things i think people learned through the campaign. it had a remarkably small number of people working there. so whoever did work there knew a lot. >> how worried do you think trump is since you know the trumps and the trump world, donald trump jr., eric trump, since they were the ones along with weisselberg after the election who were in charge of the trump organization, how worried are they all this evening? >> i would say pretty much 100%. this guy was right at the center, super loyal, eyes down, he was -- when i interviewed him, very -- a low profile but,
you know, meticulous guy, totally focused on getting -- you know, doing the best for the trump organization in terms of taxes and everything else. but he knew it all, he knew it all. >> seth, let me ask you a little bit about weisselberg and the fact that he has sought immunity, don't know if it was necessarily something they offered initially, or something he sought and the feds ultimately offered it to him. what does that tell you the fact that they were willing to grant him immunity, that he has immunity, what kind of he may have and what it is investigators can be looking for that he would know. >> he may have the keys to the castle. i mean, in white collar criminal prosecutions and investigations, it's the books and records, it's the documents, it's the business transactions. and to land someone like the cfo, the chief financial officer, someone by all accounts, as your guests are saying, has been tight with the trump organization for decades who can walk prosecutors through
those transactions, like one of your guests said, where the bodies are buried and breathe life into those documents, that is a huge get for the government, along with mr. pecker and of course mr. cohen potentially into the fold. those kind of professional advisers that lend their expertise can really build a white collar criminal prosecution. >> seth, do you know in a situation like this, and it's hard to speculate about this case, but do you know, is it something that feds or investigators offer up early on, immunity because they know somebody legally is liable, or to try to win him over easily, or do you think that it's something that you negotiate, you trade information back and forth to get to this point? >> yeah, the latter. i mean, prosecutors hate to give out immunity. they want to get the testimony straight up. at worst, get someone to plead to something because they clearly have exposure if they're pleading or seeking immunity. if you can't get any of that done and kind of as a last resort you immunize someone to
get the information. you only do that in circumstances typically where the person has something really good and you really want it. from what we're seeing that may be the case here. >> what a week it has been for some of these associates. shelby, i wanted to ask you that, when it comes to associates that are guilty, and those that have been given immunity, the trump associates granted immunity on one side, the trump associates that are guilty and cooperating on the other. a lot of people in trump's inner circle working with the government now. what does that tell you? >> well, i think there are three sort of pillars here, you have the foundation, you have the business, and you have the campaign. and the people cooperating come from all of those worlds, which is probably a very scary thing for the president because we know all three of those things are being investigated. i think the people who are cooperating in terms of what they know on the campaign, some of them know a great deal. i think rick gates was there throughout home stretch, he was close not just to manafort but also on the campaign and stayed to help through the inauguration.
and then you have people like weisselberg and cohen, cohen's been in trump's world and i know trump is trying to distance himself right now and say he just did small deals for me, he wasn't really a fixer, downplaying cohen's role, but cohen was in a lot of meetings, he was setting up a lot of arrangements. i think that tape where cohen is talking about weisselberg is fascinating. because you could probably argue that weisselberg didn't really know all the dirty details. when you hear that tape it suggests he actually, in fact, did. >> let me pick up on that point, a really interesting question, weisselberg knowing about what the payments were necessarily for. the wall street journal reports that mr. trump was known for being meticulous on payments made. weisselberg would bring checks to sign for the company on a daily basis. is it at all plausible that any of the cohen reimbursements that were made were, "a," maybe not necessarily aware to weisselberg what they were for, in fact, if they were just told these are reimbursements, he would just
process them as such, or could it be possible the other way around, trump did not necessarily know, and weisselberg knew. >> trump was a real micromanager, he signed every check, they all went in front of him. sometimes he wouldn't pay them as the journal reported. sometimes he'd put off payment, squeeze this guy a little bit more, don't pay the full amount. he was a guy who knew what he was doing. so the idea that he ever signed a check and didn't know what it was for, i think that's a non-starter. >> for trump. >> for trump. >> and weisselberg? >> and weisselberg, that guy was on top of it. he was central. the staff, there was hardly anybody there. that was one of the startling things to me when i interviewed donald at his office. there were not very many people working there, and there never were very many people working there. >> we'll put this back up on the screen when we show these five people, two granted immunity,
david pecker as well as weisselberg, and on the other side, those cooperating with the government that have pleaded guilty, michael flynn, papadopoulos and rick gates. from trump world, are you at all surprised that loyalty has not turned out to be as strong a force in the trump orbit, that these men are all cooperating or to some extent are willing to offer information on their bus who has always put a premium on loyalty? >> well, end of day. they've staved it off as long as they can. one of the telling things, i think, is that weisselberg, so far, trump has not tried to diss him. he's tried to say didn't matter, manafort was just there for a few days, we have not heard that allen weisselberg wasn't the main guy in charge of finances for decades. he has not said that. and he's also not -- he hasn't come out with some kind of -- kind of dissing nickname for him. >> he's distanced himself. he's distanced himself from michael cohen, saying he did small deals.
distanced himself from paul manafort saying he only worked on the campaign a little bit. why hasn't he done that with allen weisselberg, and why do you think he has immunity? >> i -- there's a lot of talk, a lot of comparison of donald trump to some kind of a mob boss, that kind of a model. but is allen weisselberg, is he a made man? maybe that's the question. >> we're going to talk a little bit. we are definitely going to talk about that kind of culture that exists in the trump world later on in the show. seth, really quickly, would state charges take away a michael cohen pardon as a potential tool for trump? we know he's trying to kind of perhaps signal that to paul manafort with some of the comments and language and the tweets, saying he's a brave man and all that, if there are state charges, would that neutralize a
presidential pardon? >> yeah, it sure would. mr. trump, the president, has the power to pardon in the federal system, but not in the state system. the governor of new york could pardon someone, there's no indication that could happen. the da bringing charges against michael cohen or anybody else, the president will not be able to pardon those. >> what do you think right now, seth, in terms of the investigators, what is the big picture here they're trying to put together when it comes to president trump through the people like michael cohen, david pecker, and weisselberg, allen weisselberg, what's the big picture they're trying to assemble? >> two stages, the first is don jr. and kushner, and the second is the president himself, getting these close associates, criminal context, and when i was a prosecutor, used to call top lieutenants, either in the financial area or people like michael cohen getting them into the fold brings you that much closer to the president. if it's not the president right away, maybe it's jared kushner or don jr. if you get to one of those two,
then maybe you're right on the doorstep to the presidency. mr. mueller is working this up as a classic federal investigation. you know, he's checking all the boxes, dotting all the i's and t's, looks like he's moving closer and closer. >> to shelby's point, the tray angle of the trump organization, trump foundation and the campaign. seth, stay with me longer. shelby holliday, gwenda blare, thank you for your time. also, new reporting on the obama conspiracy theory, promoted at the highest levels of the trump administration. i'm going to talk to the reporter who broke that story. plus, new focus on trump's use of mob language to talk about the russia probe. and my interview with a key figure from the watergate era, the lawyer for nixon's vice president, calling on president trump to resign. i'm ayman mohyeldin for ari
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for the country. >> the president can fire him. i sincerely hope he doesn't. >> i don't think jeff sessions should be fired. >> he understands, he'd be in great trepidation if he were to fire sessions. >> it would be a very, very, very bad idea to fire the attorney general. >> people worry about the dominos if jeff sessions goes, who's next, is it rod rosenstein? >> one key republican senator is back pedaling, compare where lindsey graham stood on jeff sessions a year ago, watch this. >> the effort to margin allize, if jeff sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay. i think there will come a time sooner rather than later where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the department of justice. clearly, attorney general sessions doesn't have the
confidence of the president. after the election i think there will be some serious discussions about a new attorney general. >> the bigger story here is trump's attack on the rule of law in this country, "the washington post" reporting that national security and law enforcement officials say that trump is doing lasting damage by using his office to target those he sees as his political enemies. >> the entire thing has been a witch hunt. the rigged witch hunt. >> it's a total witch hunt. >> it's a totally rigged deal, they should be looking at the other side. they should be looking at all these fbi guys who got fired and demoted. >> this is the most conflicted group of people i've ever seen. >> all these investigators, they're democrats. >> everybody sees what's going on in the justice department. i always put justice now with quotes. >> joining me now is elliott williams, a doj official under president obama, and former congresswoman donna edwards. elliott, let me begin with you, and talk about the president today, leaning on jeff sessions
to investigate obama, to investigate mueller, a lot of people are watching this and saying the president is politicizing the justice department, going after political enemies. as we were just saying it is going to have a lasting damage -- lasting impact, negative impact on the rule of law in this country. >> no question about that. and frankly, you know, you said a lot of people are watching. you know who's watching? the 113,000 career employees of the justice department who need to go to work every day feeling that the entire executive branch has their back. look, the idea of disputes within the federal government or the executive branch are not new, you know, within the justice department historically the southern district of new york always fights with the justice department over territory issues and the fbi and the white house. that's how governments work. but when the feud between the president of the united states and the attorney general becomes personal, simply for the attorney general, frankly, doing his job, what you're doing is undermining faith and simply the execution of legal duties or
lawyers doing their jobs. it has to have an impact on the way the people feel doing their work. it has to have an impact on the way the public trusts the justice department and so on. so absolutely this will have a long standing impact on the rule of law. now, the rule of law indoors, it's bigger than any one of us, bigger than any one president, thank god and we will survive this. however, certainly everything "the washington post" said in that piece is accurate. >> donna, do you believe that trump is, in fact, getting closer to firing jeff sessions, or do you think he's been politically persuaded to at least wait till after the midterms? is this a matter of life and death for the president depending on what happens come the midterms? >> well, it really doesn't matter whether the president, whether the president waits. and the reason is because he is preparing to fire jeff sessions and has launched these attacks against jeff sessions, not about the job that he's doing, but for the fact that jeff sessions did not recuse himself and the president expected jeff sessions
as attorney general to act as his lawyer. and so i think it's really important for us not to overlook that because all of these, even more recent attacks against the attorney general, mean to me that the president is actually setting himself up, whether he does it now or he does it later, to be further looked at for getting in the way of justice because he's attacking jeff sessions, not because of the job that jeff sessions is doing, but because jeff sessions failed to recuse himself in the mueller investigation. and this is where i think senate republicans need to get it right. and you could hear some of that because they were basically sending a warning in some ways to the president, careful what you wish for. because the way that you do it it will inevitably have a political impact. >> you know, along those lines,
though, the -- when the senator -- the senate -- pardon me. the senate republicans certainly have not demonstrated any sort of willingness to step in. you know, the congressman's right that they need to step up and really take a stand here. but, you know, lindsey graham who for years had been a supporter and a friend and an ally and a loyal colleague of jeff sessions turning around today, you know, we're seeing a lot of this from the senate republicans. it's quite disappointing, frankly, seeing as how the senate is supposed to be the check on the executive branch. >> congresswoman, if, in fact, the president goes ahead and fires jeff sessions, the message he's sending for the incoming, the next potential attorney general is going to be what, according to you, if, in fact, jeff sessions is being fired, not for what he's doing, which is according to jeff sessions implementing the president's agenda, but for what he's not doing, which is he's not taking control of the russia investigation, he's not trying to block bob mueller in any
capacity, the fact that he recused himself and took himself out of that equation from defending or shielding the president. this is an alarming and dangerous territory if, in fact, we're going into a new place where the next attorney general is expected to do that for the president. >> well, i mean, i think therein lies the problem because any incoming attorney general actually in the confirmation process will first have to answer dozens if not hundreds of questions about the conversations that they've had with the president, whether the president asked him to take a different posture with respect to the mueller investigation. and i don't think that senate republicans are going to be able to have a leg to stand on answering those questions. it remains for me to be seen whether, in fact, a new attorney general can even get through a confirmation process. >> elliott, you referenced the department of justice and morale there. i wanted to get your thought, do you speak to colleagues, former
colleagues, get a sense of how they're feeling day in, day out being the target of this president and the justice department in quotes as he likes to say? >> it's horrible and it's withering. again, it is a bigger and stronger institution than donald trump will ever dream to be. it will last, you know, frankly, outlive his presidency. but it certainly has an effect on their morale. the amazing thing, look when your sole criterion for picking a member of your cabinet is his loyalty to your campaign you're going to be disappointed when he does his job. jeff sessions has actually been doing that, and carrying out the functions of an attorney general as a responsible and reasonable one should. and it's quite disappointing and disheartening to attorneys, to people who believe the rule of law, to people who believe in the justice department. loretta lynch, my former boss, it's the only government entity named after an ideal, justice. and so the idea that, you know, it's now being asked to go after the enemies of the president or
political opponents is certainly bad for the rule of law and morale of every individual there. >> let's be really clear because we don't want to -- we don't want to ensure that we are justifying the job that jeff sessions has been doing. >> no question. >> because, you know, from separation of children and all of the, you know, range of things, that's not true. but he did the first good thing, which was to recuse himself from the mueller investigation. >> no question there. i'm with you on that. >> guys, we're going to have to leave it at that. see how all this plays out. elliott williams, donna edwards, thank you both very much. telling president trump to resign, but first, rats loyalty flipping, it's kind of mob boss language coming from the white house we've never heard before. back in 30 seconds. golden opportunity sales event. get up to $2,500 customer cash on select 2018 nx 300 models.
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flippers. it almost ought to be outlawed. it's not fair. i've had many friends involved in this stuff. it's called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal. >> in recent days trump has been saying that the white house counsel isn't a rat. he's been praising paul manafort because he, quote, refused to break. and blasting jeff sessions for failing to match trump's, quote, loyalty. it's a mind-set not often found in the white house. but in films like this. >> don't ever take sides with anyone, against the family, again. >> two greatest things in life, never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut. >> all our people are businessmen. loyalty is based on that. one thing i learned from pop was to try to think as people around you think. >> all right, joining me now is
nbc news analyst howard fineman, and seth waxman who spent eight years prosecuting organized crime figures like some of those we saw portrayed on tv. seth, let me begin with you, you've been in this position before. is the way trump acting a sign that he feels backed into a corner, the language, the posturing, is it defensive in nature? >> of course it is. it is exactly that. you know, when i was a federal prosecutor, i used to sit on wiretaps for weeks or months. this is the kind of language that hardened criminals would use. kingpins and drug dealers. who's flipping? who do we want to go after? who's on our side? i mean, listening to this is like listening to tony soprano. this is shocking to me, this kind of language. i don't want to go too far, washington, lincoln, jefferson might be rolling over in their grave to think a president of the united states is criticizing people who own responsibility, plead guilty and decide to change their life, but yet, you know, standing by the person who isn't going to be a rat. it's really, really upsetting.
>> howard, it's one thing for the president to use this language among his own inner circle and private, but he's using this language open in public to demean, distance himself from in interviews and in an official capacity. what are your thoughts about the way donald trump is talking like a mob boss? >> well, he wants to do it publicly. this is the image he wants to project. he wants to be known as the mob boss in the white house. that's his whole -- the whole manner of his upbringing, everything he was steeped in, new york, and the construction business, and in dealing with people there, the way he's raised money, including from people who were reputed to be in the russian mob, et cetera. he was coming into his own in new york and beginning in the business right around the time "the godfather" movies were in theaters in '72 and '74. it's how he grew up in new york. it's what he thinks power is supposed to look like.
he's not going to hide it at all. he's going to advertise it. he also thinks that public threats are the way to go. in a way he's like a bad mob boss because the mob bosses didn't do it in public. he's playing that role on television and playing it in the white house and playing it the way he thinks power is spoetupp to look. that's donald trump. >> do you think it undermines any chance he's got in the long one? >> well, one would think so. he's played -- it's interesting, because the longer he goes and the more he gets backed into a corner legally the more he's behaving that way. he has some kind of faith that that sells to the people who care about him most. it may. but in the process he's going to lose the perimeter of whatever support he has, those suburban voters, the people who believe in the idea of decency in the rule of law ultimately are going to recoil. maybe not now, but as soon as the report comes out, and as soon as other facts are known.
and i think somewhere in his mind he has that sense. and he's staring -- he's preparing himself for that day. >> seth, you brought up the issue that you've sat in on many wiretaps over your career. listen to the type of people that trump sounds himself with, play you this michael cohen talking to a reporter in 2015. >> i know exactly who you are and i know exactly what you do and i know exactly the story you plan on writing. i'm warning you, tread very [ bleep [ bleep ] lightly. what i'm going to do to you is disgusting. do you understand? >> what do you make of that, the threatening tone, one of the president's lawyers, a fixer, so to speak? >> that's the true michael cohen, i understand lanny davis now is coming out and saying mr. cohen has found religion, or is back to his family, putting country first. look, i learned one thing as a federal prosecutor. people that are in the cross
hairs of federal law enforcement care about one thing and one thing only. it is themselves. so i don't believe for a minute that he has now found his country. he's found himself in a corner and he's doing everything that he can to help himself. that is the true michael cohen when he was still a member of the conspiracy, assuming it existed. >> howard fineman, seth waxman, gentlemen, great to have both of you with us. ahead, a conspiracy theory in the trump white house, accusing the obama administration of an attack, speak to the reporter who broke that story. but first, the attorney for nixon's vice president now calling on president trump to resign, live on "the beat" next. at at&t innovations, we give you more for your thing. here we're adding tv and movies from our unlimited plan to the powerful new samsung galaxy note9. the perfect device for entertainment & productivity. so, it's essentially the ed helms of devices? how so? well he's both very entertaining and very productive. you think?
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martin london, an attorney who represented the vice president, resigned in disgrace. he's telling donald trump to do exactly that, resign. a agnew's resignation coming on the same day he pled to tax evasion. >> the matter of agnew hung over washington like air pollution. no one knows who will be chosen as his predecessor. mr. nixon
isn't saying. >> martin london, also -- the author of the book "the client decides" and harvard professor leah rigger. martin, let me come to you first, get your take on why should president trump resign? >> look, this -- he's going downhill. this is just the beginning.
he's lost several of his close friends and associates, flynn, gates, cohen, papadopoulos. now he's just lost pecker. seth waxman got it right, when that doorbell rings and the guy says i'm from the fbi, let me tell you, it's every man for himself. so that suggests to me that the longer he waits, the worse it's going to get. i think they're going to go after the
trump corporation now. i think weisselberg has got immunity. you know, there's an interesting story there. the complaint says -- the information says that they gave the phony invoice to weisselberg who gave it to executive number two. we don't know who executive number two is, but i'm willing to bet a nickel the last name of
that executive was trump. those are all state crimes, by the way. >> let me ask you this, martin, since you brought up this interesting point when the doorbell rings and it's the fbi at the door, it's every man for himself, what do you think the trump kids, trump children, donald trump, eric trump, ivanka trump, what will happen with them? >> look, that june meeting in trump tower is dynamite, despite rudy giuliani who i referred to this morning as rudy clown saying well, they didn't know they were russians. of course they knew they were russians. they had the e-mail that said the russian government wants to help find evidence to help your father win the election. he goes -- and he says i love it, it's great, i think there was a crime there already. so i think then he covers up the crime. he cooks up with his father a false statement that it was about adoption.
it wasn't about adoption at all. i think he's in the soup. and i think i know 1% or 10% of what's going on. so i think that the longer this goes on, the greater the exposure is going to be. the federal government is very good at this. >> leah, speaking of exposure, do you envision president trump, can you see president trump from his personality and psychology of person who would resign the office of president if he is, in fact, facing the fbi? >> absolutely not. i think that, you know, martin makes a wonderful point that, particularly drawing on this history, this really important history, you know, first things first, game recognizes game. so he clearly is drawing on this really important historical moment, almost 40 years to the day where, you know, spiro agnew recognized this was the necessary thing to do. but what we've seen from donald trump historically, what we're
seeing now is that as the walls are coming in, as the legs are coming out from under the organization, that his tendency is to double down and to fight back even when he is in the wrong, even when faced with overwhelming odds, even faced with evidence that a crime has occurred, that corruption has occurred. and i think that's especially true when, if we see that his children may be involved, and may be, you know, next on the chopping block. >> martin, did you want to add something? >> look, when we represented spiro agnew, we represented spiro agnew, the guy exposed but the vice president, we didn't have to worry about children, sons, a pair of sons, a son-in-law who also had exposure. the longer this thing goes on, the greater that exposure is going to be. and if he's going to cut a deal, the farther down the line he
goes, the greater is the pile of evidence the government gets, the tougher that deal is going to be. i happen to agree that i don't think he would do it because i don't think he's got -- this takes a lot of contemplation. it takes a lot of balancing. it takes a lot of consideration. i don't think he's capable of that. >> so to that point -- >> yeah. >> sorry, to cut you off, martin, i wanted to ask quickly, it's great to have two brilliant legal minds here, the issue of a president being indicted and whether or not he can face the trial being president. what do you think, what does the legal matter tell us in terms of a sitting president being indicted or at least facing trial? >> i think there are a couple of different ways to speak it. martin is far more equipped to speak to the specifics. but one thing that i'll say is that his children can face charges in a number of different ways.
we also don't know what happens. i mean, again, we give the context, we'd actually have to see, and there are a couple different ways of interpreting it, once he steps out of office and he's no longer a sitting president, that also incorporates -- that also means there's definitely different ways of looking at it and that he could still be brought up on charges, to martin's point, as this laundry list keeps coming and coming and more and more and more comes out. >> martin, what's your legal take on that? >> well, you know, an interesting story. there had never been even any legal writing on the subject until the agnew case when the justice department was investigating the vice president, we wrote a brief and we said you have to stop the investigation because the vice president is immune from prosecution while he's sitting in office. and we cited, you know, the articles in article i and article ii, the impeachment
articles. and the elliott richardson, the attorney general, turned us over to mr. bjork, the solicitor general, who wrote a brief. and he came back in his brief and said, well, you know, you're right, there is a strong argument that article i officers should not be indicted while in office. but i make a distinction. my client, president nixon, he can't be indicted. the president can't be indicted. but your client, the vice president, can be indicted. and bjork's memo was the first of two doj memos that concluded that a sitting president cannot be indicted. >> well, it certainly may be something that is going to be revisited in the coming months or possibly even in the coming years. martin london, certainly appreciate your time. thanks very much.
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going on, but we're going to straighten it out. we're going to straighten it out. >> you just heard president trump at a fund-raiser in iowa -- we get new reporting about a conspiracy theory that circulated in president trump's white house accusing obama officials of attempting to undermine trump's foreign policy. the new yorker obtained a 2008 memo. the memo claims that the obama officials had built an elaborate network called the echo chamber, by organized attacks in the press by eight of trump's top advisors. the memo goes on to say the group was led by former deputy national security advisor ben rhodes, and call lcollin call.
>> this conspiracy theory type of mindset, that sees normal opposition discourse as something much more nefarious, i think it connects directly to what we saw with john brennan, that people leaving government speaking their mind are not welcome in this country, they're defined as an enemy of the governme government. >> adam, great to have you with us this evening, thank you for joining us. tell me a little bit -- as much as you can, how did you come about to learn about this memo and it's existence? >> well, you know, as often happens here in this town, it was a leak, a person that had a copy of the memo sent it to me and ronan and i spent several weeks trying to determine whether it was in any way connected to a very similar
operation that we were reporting on connected to an israeli private intelligence firm called black cube that was also singling out both ben rhodes and collin call, as being kind of the organizers of opposition to trump. >> how many staffers did you get a sense from your reporting were able to see the memo? i mean how widely circulated would you say it was within the trump white house? >> yeah. i don't know if the president ever saw it. you know, i know that it was circulated, you know, with -- particularly within the nsc and within steve bannon's former unit that was part of the white house. so it was passed in that group. what's important to keep in mind here, is that as, you know, the transition was taking place, and as, you know, steve bannon and others were getting into position in the white house, there were a series of very, you
know, certainly from their perspecti perspective, damaging leaks that were coming, at an incredibly fast pace, in that period of 2017. at the time, both ben rhodes and collin were very aggressive on twitter and in other places, in criticizing trump. and his policies. so, you know, i think one can understand if one puts ourselves in their shoes, why they might be interested in trying to figure out what's happening to them. and trying to determine whose organized against us. obviously they took it to a degree that went beyond, i think, what actually existed. and especially their use of -- go ahead. >> to that point, adam, it a intere really interesting point you brought up. we know that president trump claims that obama wiretapped trump tower, and he says that obama was spying on his campaign. why do you think he has this obsession of obama and obama
holdovers work against him or spy against him? >> when you look at what was happening as he was preparing to take the oath of office. you had information that emerged about how the intelligence community believed that russia had intervened in the election to help him win, which from his perspective, seemed to dent what he saw as this accomplishment, this historic accomplishment that he saw. and then when you go a little bit further in time, you realize suddenly these leaks start. so you can imagine that they felt encircled during that period. >> it's an absolutely fascinating and riveting piece of journalism. i appreciate your time and reporting, thank you very much. >> thank you.
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all right, that does it for me. have a great weekend, everybody. ari will be back here on monday and of course you can always reach out to me any time on social media. "hardball" with chris matthews starts right now. >> turning on trump. let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews up in new york. if the president himself is what's saving donald trump now, who else can he save? his children? tonight the walls continue to close in on the president of the united states. former national security advisor michael flynn and the next trump lawyer michael cohen are both already cooperating with federal authorities so is trump ally david pecker. and today nbc reports that paul