tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC September 8, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
onth, tops. oh boy. wi-fi fast enough for the whole family is simple, easy, awesome. in many cultures, young men would stay with their families until their 40's. hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. president trump orders the attorney general to hunt down the op-ed author attacking him. he gave the midterm message to try to save america from trumpism. the 44th president launching his most direct attack yet against the 45th, calling trump, quote, a threat to democracy and accusing his republican enablers of practicing a, quote, politics of fear and resentment.
>> it should not be democratic or republican. it should not be a partisan issue to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the fbi to use the criminal justice system as a cajole to punish our political opponents. [ applause ] or to explicitly call on the attorney general to protect members of our own party from prosecution because an election happens to be coming up. i'm not making that up. that's not hypothetical. it shouldn't be democratic or republican to say that we don't threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don't like. [ applause ] i complained plenty about fox news. [ laughter ] but you never heard me threaten to shut them down.
or call them enemies of the people. it shouldn't be democratic or republican to say we don't target certain groups of people based on what they look like or how they pray. we are americans. we're supposed to stand up to bullies. [ applause ] not follow them. we're supposed to stand up to discrimination. and we're sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to nazi sympathizers. [ applause ] how hard can that be? saying that nazis are bad? >> good god, trump makes you miss everyone that came before him. obama's return to the campaign trail is sure to fan the flames of donald trump's inferiority
complex. trump trying to brush off obama's return with an insult. >> i'm sorry i watched it, but i fell asleep. [ laughter ] i found he's very good, very good for sleeping. >> actually it's more likely that obama's presence on the campaign trail will wake up his coalition of democratic and independent voters but there is ample time to test that theory. joining us to discuss the latest high-level rebuke of the conduct of the current president some of the our favorite reporters and friends. jeremy bash, former staff at the ci ericsson and pentagon now msnbc analyst. jonathan lemire, white house reporter for the associated press. the rev al sharpton, president of the national action network and host of politics nation here on msnbc. brett stevens, op-ed columnist for "the new york times" and mar a gay, journalist and member of the "the new york times" editorial board. jeremy bash, let me start with you, one because i missed you.
and two, the juxtaposition today, it was a split screen moment we finally achieved the two americas john edwards first talked about in my political career where, on one side of the screen, donald trump was urging the sitting attorney general to investigate the identity of the author of that op-ed in "the new york times," really rebuking his stability, calling into question his capacity to carry out the duties of his job. on the other side, the former president talking about how easy it should be to distance yourself from people who embrace good people on both sides of the kkk rally. >> what president obama has brought here to the fore, for the first time in his campaign season, but i don't think it's going to be the last, is this deep concern that we see that president trump wants to use the apparatus of the national security state to go after his political critics. he wants the attorney general to
criminalize free speech, to criminalize free expression, to criminalize criticism. to actually use criminal authorities and national security authorities to conduct surveillance to find, locate potentially eaves drop, potentially arrest someone who is criticizing the president. and it is in line as president obama pointed out with other efforts by president trump to use the apparatus of the state to go after critics, to threaten to strip broadcast licenses from the media that he doesn't support, and, of course, to use other mechanisms that are totally inappropriate to go after political criticism. >> and don't believe jeremy and me. listen for your own ears. here's donald trump while president obama was speaking talking about doing just what jeremy describes. let's listen. >> do you think jeff sessions should be investigating who the author of the op-ed piece was or who said -- >> i think so because i think it's national security. i would say jeff should be
investigating who the author of that piece was because i really believe it's national security. >> is there an action that should be taken against "the new york times"? we're going to see, i'm looking into that right now. it only happened yesterday, but i'm looking -- i am looking. >> you said last night that it's treason what happened. in this country we punish treason with the death penalty. are you serious about that? >> we're going to take a look at what he had, what he gave, what he's talking about. also where he is right now. >> jeremy bash, you worked in national security agencies your whole career. what is the national security implication? i understand the implication of having an unstable man as our commander in chief. but what is the national security implication of penning an anonymous op-ed in "the new york times"? >> nothing. there's no national security angle. it's basically a made-up rationale to try to, again, use the apparatus of the state to go after political critics. i mean, there is nothing that threatens national security in legitimate criticism of our political leaders.
in fact, i think i could argue and i think others would agree that it would be a national security crisis, a crisis of our democracy of epic proportions if we used the government to crackdown on political critics. so i actually think it's an abuse of power to invoke national security. and i don't know of anybody at the fbi, in the intelligence community, the defense department, or the rest of the people who are sworn to uphold the constitution and defend national security who would lift a finger nail to actually carry out this unlawful and unconstitutional order. >> jonathan, what is your reporting reveal about the white house after one of the most brutal weeks of the presidency? had the woodward book came out three weeks ago, the beginning of a short week, you had the president reportedly furious that there wasn't a more robust push back against the woodward narrative and the reporting, again, from people within his own white house and the cabinet. and then you have this anonymous
op-ed, the white house caught flat-footed. >> our reporting hits all of those points. this is a book you obviously knew was coming, there was no baltimore l plan, no talking points. they hadn't acquired a copy of the book until after the first story in the washington post ran and they read through it and started flipping through it. when the op-ed arrived a short time later, they were as obsessed as we were figuring out who it was. >> most of them with themselves. was it me? >> people outside the building i talked to, sources described these text chains. what do you think that means, who could that be, who could that be? and asking us our opinions, who do you think it could be? they are definitely under siege now. there is an element of some defiance. we saw nikki haley's op-ed that dropped a short time ago. someone should put their name to it, they should resign. some people feel whoever did this, their colleague was cowardly in the way this transpired in "the new york times." but the president is obviously very upset, taking this very
seriously. the white house has tried to push back a little bit today on his comments there, suggesting he was just opining about using -- >> he's not opining. he's the commander in chief. it's a ludacris defense. >> it's a flimsy arguments. his words carry weight. that is how they're trying to slow walk a little bit. i spoke to rudy giuliani about this who suggested the argument may be flimsy. he said why there could be a national security concern is not necessarily anything in the op-ed was a national security secret, but his reasoning was someone was willing to do that, place a covert op-ed in "the new york times," that person could also reveal national security secrets to "the new york times" or anyone else. >> they're worried about the president doing that. i want to ask you about president obama's return to the stage. i think we say everyone looks even better than they did in the moment in the time of donald trump. but certainly i heard jim messina say president obama went farther than anyone thought he would do. i think that was really a welcome message from democrats
and republicans, and it reups the question, where are -- where is congress? why are we so thirsty for this message, this very simple but very strong rebuke of people who can't plainly and easily and quickly knock down anyone that stands with nazis? >> i agree. i think that president obama who i had a lot of access to and still stay in touch with, went further than i thought he would. >> yeah. >> but i think that he almost had to for the good of the country. you know, president trump says he fell asleep watching him. he should wake up and watch what a president's supposed to deal with. and not just style and carriage, but what the republic stood for. he very meticulously went through republicans did this and democrats did this and we're at a place now where it shouldn't be about party. and he defined what the state is supposed to be about and how it's supposed to operate.
and trump needs that lesson. and i think americans were hungry to hear that and we don't see that leadership in the congress now. we certainly are not seeing it from either side. he gave the gravitas of what the american dream is supposed to be even for those of us that don't feel we equally share in it. somebody needed to bring us back, though. >> let me play something for you, obama on the republicans. the strongest in the speech. >> alliances, cozying up to russia, what happened to the republican party? its central organizing principle in foreign policy was the fight against communism, and now they're cozying up to the former head of the kgb. actively blocking legislation that would defend our elections from russian attack. what happened?
>> what happened? >> you see, this is the thing. ordinarily i would be very leary of a former president for both tactical as well as moral reasons attacking his successor as politically and as aggressively as obama would. i know obama appreciated the fact that george w. bush maintained pretty much total radio silence, took to painting, whatever, during his presidency. >> among other things. >> that's what happens during normal successions, transfers of power. what i think obama is doing is filling a vacuum that has been left by the republican party itself. where was paul ryan saying pretty much what obama just said? where was mitch mcconnell? where were any of the leaders of congress? the only one who stood up, of course, late and lamented was john mccain. he provided that leadership that is now absent. and that's why i think it is important for obama to step up because this is not an ordinary transition.
this is not an ordinary period because what obama is defending isn't this or that partisan democratic policy. he's representing the tradition of republican government that should transcend all politics that he's speaking as a president, not as a leader of the democrats. >> i heard from half a dozen republicans today who said, my god, what i wouldn't give for a four more years of this guy to get rid of donald trump tomorrow. >> here's the thing. president obama is speaking not just as a great american, which i think he is and i think there's a role for as you said the gravitas of those who have those platforms and those reputations to come forward. but i think he's also -- it's also very important to hear his voice because he's right and he said that this is one of the most important elections in the lifetime of those who are voting. and i think he really does have the ability still to turnout the democratic base. and if you believe that it's important to elect democrats because the republican party has
no longer held its part of the bargain in american democracy, you know, which i do believe at this point, then barack obama needs to turnout those democrats. it's really important. >> he does, but i want to come back to you. it wasn't office policies have now looked better to republicans. i think the agenda was controversial in some spaces, but it was the conduct. i talked about people being so thirsty for that message. what people seem so desperate for is what you're describing, leadership -- >> tone, statesmanship, you're not only head of a party, even head of government. >> an american. >> you're head of state, you're an american and you represent on a character logical level the best that this country has to offer. and i think most of us during the obama presidency, even those of us who opposed his policies, felt that obama played that role beautifully. >> the whole family. >> his whole family did. and that's what's missing. what we need is someone who
represents us in the absence of a president who stands for the opposite of what most of our values are. >> you're right. it's tone, but it's also more than that. what it is, i kept thinking about that phrase about, you know, our better angels. president obama was somebody who really appealed to the good in people and helped americans see each other in a positive and frankly loving human light. trump does the opposite. >> this is off topic, but i keep thinking and i've had this conversation. what happens when something goes wrong? i think about president obama after newtown and i think of him channeling the grief of the nation. i think about george w. bush after 9/11, i think about him standing on the crushed fire engine and talking about how we hear you. i think about -- >> reagan after the challenger. >> reagan after the challenger touching -- the peggy nunes speech.
i think about president clinton after oklahoma city. what do they do when something goes wrong? do they have a break glass in case of an emergency plan? >> donald trump hasn't been test ed in that way yet. >> correct. >> most of the crises he's faced are self-made. there hasn't been that terrible disaster. you could argue the hurricane in puerto rico -- >> failed that. >> charlottesville was -- >> he failed every test. >> compare charlottesville to president obama dealing with trayvon martin or ferguson where he took flack from his base. i can't tell you how many times many of us were saying, go further, go further. and he would stand up and ska, -- say, no, we're going to do it this way. trump has never said that. >> he has shown no interest in being a unifier. he hit a couple notes after the baseball shooting. after the las vegas shooting. take the big picture, we're all americans in this together. he's divisive by design president.
he caters to his supporters not the entire nation. >> when we come back from hope and change to it's on you if they impeach me, donald trump debuted his midterm campaign message. we'll let you decide which one is better. also ahead, low-level george is sentenced in the mueller investigation. is the special counsel sending a message to other targets in that probe? and donald trump's culture war bites him in the behind as colin kaepernick fronts a new massive nike campaign. stay with us. take this left. if you listen real hard you can hear the whales. oop. you hear that? (vo) our subaru outback lets us see the world. sometimes in ways we never imagined. where are we taking him? i have no clue. we're just tv doctors.
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i see papadopoulos today. i don't know papadopoulos, i don't know him. i saw him sitting in one picture at a table with me. that's the only thing i know about him. i don't know him. but they got him on, i guess, a couple of lies is what they're saying. >> a couple of lies. that may put low-level george behind bars. his sentencing hearing is underway as we speak. we should know his fate any minute. we do know he's looking at up to six months in prison. it comes as president trump's team faces its own grim legal reality. the president's attorney rudy giuliani taking his hardest line yet when it comes to allowing trump to interview with mueller telling the a.p. flat out trump will not answer fellow investigators questions in writing or in person about whether the president tried to block the probe into russian interference in the 2016 election. giuliani later tried to walk that back in comments to nbc news as he so often does, but the message was clear. trump's attorneys are hardening their stance against mueller and one explanation forge's reluctance to let his client sit
for an interview maybe he thinks it's possible trump could be a target. joining us now is former u.s. attorney and former deputy attorney general harry litman. harry, i've had this theory posited to me that one of the reasons that special counsel mueller may accept written answers is that but for the fact that they may be operating under the belief that you can't indict a sitting president, trump is essentially a target at least in the obstruction investigation. >> yeah, i mean, i think that's fair. a target is someone whom the prosecutor thinks he or she has enough to indict, and that's sort of seemed the case for several months. the last piece of the puzzle is trump's corrupt intent. but it's pedestrian, it happens all the time that a defendant doesn't testify and you prove that through other ways. he has said, giuliani has now laid down the line. we will not talk about post-presidential conduct which is amazing, right? it's like nixon saying we'll talk about the burglary but not
the cover up and they seem especially afraid to talk about any factual statement that there could be others who know, like flynn or papadopoulos or manafort or gates, et cetera. so mueller, i think, stands ready to condemn trump based on circumstantial evidence if trump doesn't decide to do an interview. happens all the time. >> and prosecutors, harry, have said to me that prosecutors like mueller and his team would want to nail down both the conspiracy case and the obstruction case. that obviously either one could stand alone. scooter libby was charged with obstruction of justice and perjury, but on something this high-profile, you would want to complete both probes. do you agree with that analysis? and how would you evaluate the collusion investigation and the obstruction investigation and the president's exposure in each? >> yeah, i do, but it's tricky because we could imagine that in the president cooperates partially on, say, the
collusion, that he then draws a line in the sand and says, i won't do any more. certainly the best advantage for mueller is bringing everything at once. i think it's clear that collusion investigation is less well advanced, but that's changing now. that's been the focus of the last couple months. today in the grand jury, an associate of roger stone is testifying. if stone is indicted, he has a lot of knowledge and he says he talked with trump through the campaign. that's what i think mueller is hope to stitch up before he has to come out with something. the notion of a partial report i think serves trump's interests more than mueller's. >> jonathan lemire, the question that i hear increasingly from allies of this president, outside advisors, is what are you hearing about don junior? there seems to be, you know, a 30 on the scale of 1 to 10 level of concern about the legal fate of don junior, the president's son.
>> no question. when the manafort trial was dominating the headlines we reported the president sort of interpreted that as a warning shot e. was telling people around him don junior could be some day in a similar fate even though he didn't believe don junior did anything knowingly wrong. i spoke to mayor giuliani yesterday for that piece and it was -- we know that he is, if one thing, he is consistently inconsistent. and that, you know, he couldn't have been clear -- >> he changes his mind. it's not that the reporting is wrong. >> he couldn't be clearer, he's not going to answer questions on obstruction. they seema menable to the written responses on the collusion part of it, although the newest sticking point, goal post is about follow-up questions, not thinking the president should face follow-up questions or if he were they'd have to be agreed to in advance. their parameters or so on. it's a slow way of walking through this interview process. within an hour of speaking, our story hitting the wire, he wouldn't do an obstruction interview, he tried to clean it up. i think the marker was placed deliberately.
the idea of sending the message to the mummer team they're going to play hardball, they'll have to subpoena the of president to sit down. giuliani and the team said repeatedly that's a fight they welcome, if it goes to the supreme court. kavanagh talked about this yesterday. >> let me ask you something. is having giuliani as the president's lauryn competence by design or is it just incompetence? you've got in mr. giuliani a guy who is constantly changing the story, and is that because he just doesn't know what he's talking about, or does that serve the interests deliberately serve the interests of the president to have this kind of fog machine out there, kind of throwing out smoke? >> i think there are moments where giuliani is more concerned about the public debate rather than perhaps being inside the private negotiations with mueller's team. but i think largely it is about the smoke machine, that the president trump has said to him that they want him to be out there to be this advocate, to be this pitbull, this attack dog, and that, you know, the fog of war is good for their case.
the more they can muddy things up, the better for them. >> isn't it true also that rudy giuliani is just one piece, he's the public piece. jay sekulow is on the president's legal team. there's a couple from florida on the legal team. emmet flood is involved. other people do the lawyering. >> rudy the clown. >> rudy is the fog machine, and that is the strategy. >> rudy is the public relations person. he's the person out there in front. >> but i think that we must -- >> can i make a quick point about -- >> hang on, harry, let me get to the rev and we'll finish with you. >> when you make the point about coverage, you have to deal with who is the judge of the competence, and that's the president. he's saying and doing as inconsistent as it is what the president wants. >> that's right. >> he is not looking for a legitimate, consistent, well versed lawyer. he's looking for a mouth piece that will go out there and say whatever i want said, exactly the way i want it said. and that's what giuliani does. and i think that if we're looking for somebody that would
follow the letter of what a lawyer supposed to do, you don't have a client that is looking for that at all. he gives directions and runs and turns on the television and sees if you did it the way i told you. >> harry? >> yeah, pardon me, rev, for interrupting. don junior, we haven't heard from him in months and he's so oven dwrusly implicated. i think most likely what happened is he is a target. mueller said he was a target and his lawyer said he was going to take the 5th. and mueller is ready to indict him, but he understands when that happens, it's armageddon with the president and he'll do it as one of his last moves, prompting the sort of final conflagration. >> thank you for that. after the break, president obama weighs in on op-ed gate as donald trump considers polygraphs for aides.
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and by the way, the claim that everything will turnout okay because there are people inside the white house who secretly aren't following the president's orders, that is not a check. i'm being serious here. that's not how our democracy is supposed to work. [ applause ] these people aren't elected. they're not accountable. they're not doing us a service by actively promoting 90% of the crazy stuff that's coming out of this white house, and then saying, don't worry, we're preventing the other 10%. >> he's talking to you, mr. and mrs. anonymous. that was the former president railing against those so-called guardrails in the white house as the west wing witch-hunt for the author of that anonymous "the new york times" op-ed moves full steam ahead. the times reporting senator rand paul of kentucky, an ally of
mr. trump's, recommended that the president force members of his administration to take polygraph exams. and there was at least briefly some discussion of that among advisors to the president. another option mentioned by people close to mr. trump was asking people to sign sworn affidavits that could be used in court if necessary. one outside advisor said the white house had a list of about 12 suspects. joining the conversation, evan mcmullen, former cia operative who ran as an independent for president. they should ask everyone if donald trump is fit for the presidency. >> i think we know the answer to that already. >> why don't we? that's what we should do. >> sure, we need -- >> john kelly. kellyanne conway. steve bannon. jared kushner. let's hook them up to a ol polygraph. you know what? it's a serious offer. if you're willing, any one of you, hook up to a polygraph, you can have my hour.
is donald trump fit for the presidency? he is he capable of carrying out the responsibilities of america's commander in chief? you're all welcome. >> i think we already know, everybody knows, the whole country knows this president is unfit. yes, he has his base which is weakening now which is good to see, but this whole discussion about the op-ed and who wrote it, i sort of -- i think it's a bit of a waste of time frankly. i think really what we need to be talking about -- >> i agree. tell me why you think so. >> everybody knows. woodward wrote a book. tweets. it's patently obvious. what are we the american people going to do to hold the president accountable. we need, as president obama said very eloquently today, to vote. it's about voting in the midterms. and this situation where you have, you have the president's staff checking him is i think a reflection of the fact that
there's a lag in our system when we're trying to hold someone like president trump, who we've never seen before, accountable. what is the lag? well, we're not yet willing to impeach him. we're not moving forward with the 25th amendment. so we've got the midterms and those come two years later after a president is elected. in lieu of quicker response to the president, a quicker checking of the president, you have his staff trying to do that work. it's not the way to check a president, as president obama said today, but we've got to look now towards the midterms and vote to hold the president accountable. >> jeremy bash, this idea of hooking up staff to polygraph to determine whether they were disloyal to the president is so alarm l. what they should really have to get on the record for is whether or not they believe to a person that the president is fit for the office he holds. >> yeah, and one of the things that you do in a leak investigation, if you think of that as potentially analogous, although it's not, is you might
give out documents to people who you think had access to the sensitive information that was disclosed and you would ask them -- and the fbi does this all the time -- in a questionnaire, did you disclose this information. if you lie on that form, then that's a violation of 18 usc 1001. you're lying to a federal investigator. i think the point here is any document by the white house press ochs would not be a valid federal investigation. it would be absolutely meaningless. it's power porting to use the notion, the color of law to enforce a crackdown on political dissent. that is what is so offensive to our democracy. that is the guardrail that has been jumped time and time again. >> jeremy makes the right point. this is the white house on the first day of the trump presidency said don't believe your eyes. this crowd is bigger than this crowd. this is a white house that lies as a pathological obsession to lie for the president and they want to find out who told the truth in "the new york times"?
>> rudy giuliani said truth isn't truth. >> kellyanne conway said we have alternative facts. >> the president said reason entitlely don't believe what you're reading and seeing. this is who he was before he became a politician. he would assert his own version of the truth. the reverend certainly remembers this here in new york where he would as a celebrity businessman, would make up stuff and tell the tabloids that his businesses were succeeding when they weren't. he is someone who -- trump tower, let's remember, is listed as 68 stories tall. it's actually 58. he lied. >> he used that as bait. >> it's wrong on the elevator. if it was taller it would be more impressive. >> anyone obsessed with size. >> this is who he is, and he has brought that with him into his campaign and he's brought that now with far more serious consequences into the white house where he has this relationship, very shaky relationship with the truth. and he has people working for him who are willing to act on those lies. >> he also has people, though, who are as uncomfortable as we are with his shaky relationship with the truth.
>> i think the danger, jonathan alludes to it, is also he knows how to be the master of distraction. don't under estimate while you have his nominee for the supreme court sitting there refusing to affirm what he would do in a case before him to uphold the constitution, whether he considers upholding the constitution, whether a president can be prosecuted or even subpoenaed. at the same time, giuliani is talking about what we're not going to do. so everybody is talking about rudy and not talking about well, wait a minute, kavanagh never really answered the question. so they know how to play the game of distraction, which is what he did as a businessman in new york. but i think the problem is, as he said, the ramifications are so much more serious now. we're not talking about somebody getting a condo for more -- paying more than they should have. we're talking about a country and we're talking about global kinds of situations here.
>> mara, rachel maddow said on wednesday this feels like the end of the beginning or the beginning of something new. do you feel this week he's at a turning point in how we cover him? we now have someone who sees him up close, amongst ourselves, we talked about the 25th amendment. >> well, one of the happy coincidences or silver linings, rather, of the piece being anonymous is that the problem is if the piece had been openly written by a specific trump official who came forward, we would all right now be picking apart that official and we would be talking about whether that person is credible anyway. and the president would be destroying the credibility. >> we just got breaking news. we are learning george papadopoulos who donald trump has called low-level george has been sentenced in the mueller probe. he's been sentenced to 14 days in jail and one year of supervised -- tell me what you
read, did george turnout to be helpful to mr. mueller? >> it's not clear that's what drove the sentence. it's a light sentence, of course, but the judge is a fairly light sentencer. we do know because of how long the -- it it took until papadopoulos was sentenced that he gave up everything to mueller, including his assertion that both trump and sessions green lighted the meeting with the russians. i think the sentence does not reflect that, though. it's just a light sentence for what the court sees as a fairly light offense. >> jeremy bash, george papadopoulos is, i think lots of us cover this remember, maybe not all our viewers, counter investigation into whether or not russia influenced and put their finger on the scale for donald trump. it was his conversation with the
diplomat that first sparked some interest in whether there was coordination and/or a conspiracy. you help me purge the word collusion from my vocabulary. but talk about george papadopoulos and who he is in this story of russian meddling in the 2016 election. >> you know, when he was overseas advertising his affiliation with the trump campaign as a foreign policy advisor, he was approached, not surprisingly, but russian intelligence and asked basically if he was interested, if the campaign was interested in some, quote, dirt on hillary clinton, some opposition research that had been collected through cyberattacks by the russian federation. and he was the first person who brought that to the attention of the trump campaign. so it validated the later effort at trump tower by the russian government delegation to say, we have told you that we have this information. we're going to utilize in this campaign. now we want relief on sanctions and we want to talk about the policy benefit that we're going to get from helping donald trump in this campaign. >> and, jeremy bash, papadopoulos may have been the
first person to lie to the mueller investigators about his contacts with russians, but he sure as heck was not the last. flynn lied about his contacts with russians about the topic of russian sanctions. jeff sessions lied to congress about his contacts with russians. gates pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi, we don't know exactly if that was about his conversations or contacts with russians, but why do you think everyone was lying about their contacts with russians? >> well, i think it became a abundantly clear what papadopoulos was part of was an illegal conspir city between the trump campaign and russian delegation to affect the election and violate election law. back to whether the president will answer questions or sit for an interview, the conspiracy matter is a question of fact. which is did the president know, was he told by don junior about the russian delegation that had visited trump tower. i think absolutely he did know about it. and i think it's a pretty open and shut case.
whereas the issue of obstruction is more nuanced and really requires an inquiry into the president's state of mind, which is why mueller wants to talk to the president about that and which is why the president is so adamant that he will never open his mouth in front of the special counsel. >> jeremy, let me get you on the record on this observation among folks in d.o.j. circles and former d.o.j. officials that it's possible that one of the reasons mueller permitted written answers on the topic of collusion, there were 19 questions shared with the president's lawyers around the collusion investigation, is that they may be looking at the president or treating the president as a target of at least part of that investigation. >> well, i think on obstruction he is potentially seen as a target. less clear on the issue of conspiracy, but again, i think on the issue of conspiracy, it really is a question of fact. did the president know his organization was violating the law with the russian government. if so, he's part of that conspiracy and he has also violated federal law. >> we are joined now by nbc's
ken dilanian who is outside the courthouse where george papadopoulos was just except tensed to 14 days in jail and one year of supervised release. any insight into what went into that sentence and whether or not that was because papadopoulos ended up being useful or helpful to the mueller investigators? >> it wasn't because he was useful or remorseful. he said he was deeply ashamed and embarrassed and apologized to his family. the judge said he took that into account when passing sentence. the judge also noticed -- noted that most people charged with this crime of lying to investigators and who are in george papadopoulos's position with no prior criminal record, most of those people are never sentenced to jail at all. but the judge found this was a different case because this was about national security. and the judge found that george papadopoulos put his own personal interests over the interests of the nation because, don't forget, let's back up. george papadopoulos was worked
essentially by an agent of russian intelligence who approached him, who saw him as low-hanging fruit, an advisor to the trump campaign, a junior person, 29 years old. and this professor, joseph nipsud told papadopoulos the russian hz obtained dirt in the form of thousands of e-mails on hillary clinton. papadopoulos possessed this information. we still don't know who inside the trump campaign he told about that information. but papadopoulos's lawyer thomas breen said that after meeting with him, papadopoulos made efforts to broker a meeting between senior russian officials and the trump campaign. and papadopoulos' lawyer told the judge that donald trump and jeff sessions appeared to look favorably on the idea that that meeting should occur. i'll tell you one other really interesting thing papadopoulos's lawyer said in trying to explain why his client misled the fbi in january 2017 when they went to talk to him about this. he noted that just a few days before, donald trump had called the russia investigation fake
news and a witch-hunt. and george papadopoulos's lawyer said the president of the united states hindered this investigation more than george papadopoulos ever could. he said the guy he worked for was telling everybody that this investigation was fake news and a witch-hunt. the idea being that that -- those statements by donald trump may have influenced george papadopoulos when confronted by the fbi about this russia investigation to mislead the fbi, nicolle. >> that is such an interesting legal argument. harry litman, i wonder if you could just into this conversation with ken and me and weigh in as to whether or not -- we talk a lot about the president's attacks on the be rule of law. this seems to be the first manifestation where someone who once worked for donald trump is using it as part of his legal defense to say, hey, the guy at the top of the executive branch said this investigation from the fbi, hey, it's a witch-hunt, i don't need to tell them the truth. >> it's really interesting and troubling, right, very corrosive. i think it could be.
i mean, we see these sorts of effects in his whole kind of circle. i think, by the way, everything that ken said is dead-on. i'll just add that bob mueller knows everybody what papadopoulos said inside the trump campaign what he told about the meetings and the sort of follow on, and it may be revealed in time. but the notion that they would -- i think a good lawyer would not endorse this strategy, but that papadopoulos, it could have appealed to him. this is what the commander in chief says, you know, i should be influenced by it seems possible. >> jeremy bash, let me get you in on this as well. this idea that someone who worked for donald trump on the campaign is marching out as his legal defense strategy that the president of the united states called the mueller probe into russian interference in american democracy a witch-hunt as his legal defense, as the explanation for lying to the fbi, the highest law enforcement agency in this country. what do you make of that? >> well, it's insane obviously,
nicolle. but i think the sentencing today is significant because i believe it is the first person, the first american sentenced who specifically worked for the trump campaign, who specifically had contact with russian intelligence, and who specifically was knowing and witting of a plot by russian intelligence to use dirt on hillary clinton to influence the 2016 election. that's a first. that's significant because if he informed people like don junior when don junior then responded to rob goldstone and said, if this is what i think it is, meaning i've been told about it, i love it. >> evan, that is a chilling analysis from jeremy bash that this is the first american sentenced for possibly being part of a conspiracy to influence our election. this is something you've been concerned about since the beginning. >> yeah, look, and i would say now there's a long list of felons who served this president during the campaign and after, and so it clearly fits at pattern. i think we should be more alarmed by it than actually we are. to a degree, we're desensitized by it.
but papadopoulos is an interesting case. i mean, he was talking about the russians' possession of compromising information openly at a bar. he was telling strangers at a bar. so it's hard to imagine that he wasn't -- we know he was talking to the trump campaign, to his colleagues there, trying to convince him there should be a meeting between trump and vladimir putin. it's hard to imagine that as a part of that he's telling people at a bar that the russians have compromising information on trump's opponent. it's hard to imagine that he's not also telling that specific thing to the highest level people he can in the campaign. >> all right. after the break, donald trump goes there on impeachment. wait till you hear who he's ready to blame. make a smart choice.
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>> impeach him! he hasn't done anything wrong? snchlths impeach him. >> he is doing a great job. we will impeach him. how do you impeach somebody that is doing a great job? that hasn't done anything wrong. >> what a job he has done, by the way, we are impeaching him. >> you want to impeach him. it is ridiculous. we will worry about that if it ever happens. if it does happen, it is your fault, you didn't go out to
vote. >> this is probably what he hears while he is sleeping, nightmares of impeachment. . when you say, you don't impeach somebody -- >> impeach someone because they have done something impeachable. as i said earlier in the show. doesn't understand what the count radio stands for. your job that you do as president has nothing to do oop- if you have done impeachable acts. if you are in collusion with another country. all kinds of obstruck of justice. it has nothing to do with if you handled the economy or not. are you supposed to keep him in because i have given you a tax
cut. >> pull back for a second and marvel at the fact this is a man who is more concerned with hunting down, who wrote a negative op-ed about him. more concerned with that than he is with a criminal conspiracy by russia. a foreign adversary, to influence our elections, that has infiltrated his campaign. some people would call that t s tres -- treason. in his mind, he is the state. and attack on him is anti-american. if he understood what the country stood for, he would know it is the exact op. >> impeachment was on his mind or the word of the day- his calendar. where did that come from?
>> whether the white house decided this is the right strategy or not, surely there, are people around him, outside network, who he talks to a bit. >> rudy. >> and others. dollar that think that is impeachment is not a bad argument for them. this is a duly elected president. if he is not convicted of a crime. that would be too far. >> he can't be, he would be impeach. >> proof of wrong doing, i should say. the thing that worries people more, the democrats get the house, it is investigation after investigation after investigation. they haul up anyone who had contact with the trump administration before a committee. not just on russia, but stone dllt wall what the trump agenda would be in the next two years, make that the image of the day. the next person, sworn in, talk
about the wrongdoings of the administration. that terrifies the people around the president. which they think recommend is impeachment is far off. >> don't go anywhere. we will be right back. ...and brake too hard. with feedback to help you drive safer. giving you the power to actually lower your cost.
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the kayak price forecast tool tells you whether to wait or book your flight now. so you can be confident you're getting the best price. giddyup! kayak. search one and done. >> the last word, we need a better pitch from any president, any leader, it can't be vote for my party so i won't get impeached. we deserve better. i will see you back here for deadline white house. >>. >> round up the usual suspects, let's play had dltd ball. "hardball." >> good evening.