tv Deadline White House MSNBC September 14, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
time now for me to hand it over to "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace. >> hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. it's a blockbuster day of news. and we're going to bring it all to you. hurricane florence is pounding north carolina with rain and devastating floods. it's a slow-moving soaker that still threatens homes and lives in that state and beyond. we'll bring you the latest. but we start with that jaw-dropping breaking news from donald trump's one-time campaign chairman paul manafort who today uttered the words, i plead guilty, and became the latest trump confidante to join team mueller as a cooperating witness in the special counsel investigation into russian meddling in the 2016 election. what this means for that investigation, robert mueller now has eyes and ears inside that trump tower meeting and any other coordination or communication between the trump campaign, the president's family members and the russians.
manafort is on the hook to provide testimony for any and all investigations under robert mueller's umbrella, and his lawyer signaled that manafort would do just that. in pleading guilty and entering into a formal cooperation agreement, manafort joins a growing list of trump associates who are now cooperating or who have offered to cooperate with federal investigators. that list includes mike flynn, donald trump's one-time national security adviser, rick gates, donald trump's deputy campaign chairman, allen weisselberg, david pecker, the longtime trump ally who owns the national enquirer and, of course, donald trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, michael cohen. here to discuss the impact of today's manafort development and the picture coming into focus of the breadth and daepth of the special counsel investigation, we're joined by some of our favorite reporters and guests. former u.s. attorney and former senior fbi official chuck
rosenberg. former fbi assistant director for counterintelligence, frank figlusi, joyce vance. from "the washington post," white house reporter ashley parker. and with us on set, john heilema heilemann, nbc news, msnbc national affairs analyst and co-host and executive producer of showtime's "the circus" which is back sunday and daniel goldman, district attorney for the southern district of new york. let me start with you, chuck, because we've had a lot of conversations about what manafort might do. you've often warned us that this kind of development could come at any time. but did anything about today's cooperation agreement go further than what we thought we were warned to expect in terms of a plea? >> you know, as cooperation agreements go, it's fairly standard. he's going to answer every question about every one and everything they've done for any federal state or local prosecutor. and that's fairly typical language.
what's not surprising is this. and you have a bunch of really smart fbi agents and prosecutors, me excluded on your show today. >> that's not true. >> you know, it's true. >> you are, too. >> but what's true is this. almost every target becomes a defendant. almost every defendant becomes a convicted felon. and almost every convicted felon becomes a cooperator. and so even though michael cohen once said i'd take a bullet for the guy, he's cooperating or trying to. and even though mr. manafort's attorney said there's no way he will ever cooperate, guess what. he's cooperating. so fairly standard plea agreement but it's a big deal he's cooperating. >> let me press you on that point, frank. pick up where chuck left off. it's a big deal he's cooperating because we had been led to believe and certainly the president was likely under the same belief. i believe as recently as august 22nd, he was tweeting about how paul manafort was strong and brave and basically getting a
raw deal from prosecutors. paul manafort now works for those prosecutors that donald trump attacks day after day after day. >> it was bound to happen eventually, but even i have to admit this was a bit of a surprise to me in terms of timing. i thought actually that he'd have to do some more time in prison, eating some bologna sandwiches and protein loaf and getting sick of it before this happened. i think he saw the writing on the wall. i'm fascinated by what's coming next which is to say this is the guy that i've been saying for months, nicolle, is the vector that brought in the russian infection into the campaign. and he has been there. he has the history with russian organized crime, intelligence service. ukrainian thugs, politicians, and all of that is now fair game. and the degree to which it involves the campaign, the russian penetration of the campaign, just fascinates me. i actually believe there were
russian intelligence officers who were promoted the day that manafort told them i got campaign chairman job. i'm in charge of the presidential campaign. and today those same russian intelligence officers, if my prediction is correct, are s scurrying for cover wondering if they can get underground before they're named in some cooperation agreement. >> the hair on my arms just stood up. let me put up the sorts of things manafort witnessed in that job you're saying on our air probably earned the russians that helped place him there a promotion. here's what manafort witnessed and now what manafort as early as today, as i understand, may be helping to illuminate. the trump tower meeting that he helped organize. and the trump family and senior campaign management. the dnc e-mail hack which seemed to preview in front of the world. an attempted clinton e-mail hack
and the rnc platform change on ukraine policy. how are you stitching those things together and what do you want to know? are you looking at jared kushner, the president's son? the president? >> yeah, they are actually going -- there's so much available to them now through manafort the mueller team is going to have to strategize and compartment the debriefing of manafort. i believe there will be specialists that come in to handle certain categories. and, of course, there will be a team that's focused on the president and his conduct and what he knew and when he knew it. and whether it involves obstruction and whether it involves prior knowledge or knowledge after the fact of hacking and release of e-mails. who knew what when and to what degree was manafort simply a self-seeking opportunist? i'm in debt over my head. i need to do this to get out of that debt and i don't care who i bring down with me. they'll have to figure that all out. >> joyce, let me bring you in on what happens operationally for
the nonlawyers among us. does paul manafort go back to jail and then set up a time to start singing, or does paul manafort get a binder and say, here, we're going to ask you about that trump tower meeting first. think long and hard about who was in that meeting, about whether someone told donald trump about it. does it get broken up like that? is it like an interrogation like what we see in "law & order"? what happens operationally to paul manafort as soon as he signs that cooperation agreement? >> manafort now works for the fbi and for bob mueller's prosecution team. so exactly like it says in his cooperation agreement, he will now be willing to present himself to be interviewed whenever it works for that team. and those interviews will most like lely consistent of a couplf fbi agents. perhaps folks from a couple other agencies. someone from irs in the mix. they'll sit down and go through, as frank correctly says, they'll have to thematically divide this
up because there's so much. they'll review his recollection, have him look at documents, talk about documentation that he might be in possession of because he has a big job to do right now. and his job is to convince the investigators that he is being completely forthcoming and fully truthful in regard to every matter that they question him about. >> or else. or else what, joyce? finish that thought. >> or else the plea agreement is off. >> okay. >> if he's not truthful, if he lies or fails to disclose, he doesn't get the benefit of this bargain. for manafort, the best guarantee that he has moving forward that he serves as limited of a sentence as possible is being very, very careful about telling the truth, about being full and incluesive and about, importantly for manafort, making no additional efforts to obstruct or to violate the law in any way. >> chuck, you started to take us into the weeds. i want to dive down there with you. i want you to talk about the
fact that we often on the outside observe the mueller probe as being on two tracks. an investigation into a conspiracy between the trump campaign and the russians to impact the 2016 election and the president's conduct which may or may not amount to an effort to obstruct that investigation, obstruction of justice. i want you to tell our viewers and explain to me how the two developments you talked about, the manafort cooperation agreement and what you alluded to, the idea that michael cohen, the president's one-time personal lawyer and fixer has made himself available. has are made abundantly clear on television and through his attorney to mueller's investigationinvest investigators. they seem to offer big pillars in the collusion investigation. >> they do. further, i think you may be seeing at least over time the strands come together. we've always talked about these separate tracks. and we would say for instance that the obstruction of justice piece seemed a little more finite and knowable and that a
lot of the president's public prouncements went to that obstruction piece. and we would often say that the conspiracy to interfere in the elections seemed more discreet and unknowable and much larger. but both cohen and i'm quite confident manafort if they are truthful -- and that's a big if, an important if -- but if they are truthful can begin to bring those strands together. because these are two guys that were around the president and the candidate for, in some cases, years, michael cohen. and in manafort's case, for crucial months leading up to the rnc platform discussions and the meeting in trump tower and the like. even if they weren't physically there nicolle, they know people who were, they've spoken to people who were. these are really important pillars in bringing those two strands of this incredible investigation, i think, together. >> chuck, i was warned in the
last week by a justice department watcher to be very careful not to assume that bob mueller doesn't have as strong of an investigation or case on the conspiracy/collusion side as on the obstruction side. just because we don't hear as much about it to not assume that isn't just as strong and moving forward and closing in on this president. do you agree with that asse assessment? >> i do. when i saw first the indictment of the russian troll farm actors and the indictment of the russian gru military intelligence officers, it's clear that mueller's team not only knows a lot but has done an extraordinary job of pulling together disparate data from all over the world and all over the intelligence community. and so you have to believe, if you've read either of those indictments. and i would urge people to do that because they're fascinating. you have to believe, nicolle, that bob mueller knows a lot
about the russia interference piece. it's fascinating. >> and, joyce, we have the kind of viewers who would find those documents fascinating instead of watching hbo or showtime. i want you to talk about what prosecutor bob mueller is. also someone pulled back the curtain and said he's the kind of prosecutor who if he has an obstruction case he'll bring it but it will be more like him to finish out the investigation on the conspiracy and collusion side and bring those cases together. do you think that is the chief concern for the president's legal team at this point? >> you know, mueller is a prosecutor's prosecutor. he doesn't believe in targeting defendants. he's only interested in the search for the truth. and where he uncovers crimes, he'll go ahead and prosecute those crimes if the evidence is there to move forward. this, i think, is one of the reasons there was so much approval when rod rosenstein initially appointed him. and that approval was
bipartisan. it came as much from the republican side of the hill as from the democratic side. it's because of this belief that he understands the goals of the justice system will be fair, will not overreach, but will also see that just is done. so many of us have always said that no matter what conclusion he reaches, we'll believe it's the right one, that it will have integrity because that's his track record during his years with the government. >> frank, you've also, all of you have taught me to listen to what bob mueller says through his documents. and one of the things we read today, manafort pleaded guilty to witness tampering. and we know there are some questions about whether donald trump engaged in something called witness tampering by peppering people who have been before mueller's investigators with questions. i wonder if you hear anything in what manafort pleaded guilty to when you hear witness tampering. >> well, we know, if you remember, that he reached out to a couple of folks to suggest what they might answer, if asked
questions about certain things. we know those people reported it to mueller. so that's probably what we're talking about. but i think there's more to this. i think that manafort likely was sent signals about a pardon. i think that he might have reached out to other witnesses and tried to influence them and talked about pardons. and i think that mueller is going to be asking that pardon question. and that goes right back to the obstruction of justice case. >> ashley parker, let me bring you in on the white house response. rudy giuliani had the probably not so fun duty of responding to the manafort cooperation agreement. and he said two statements. once again an investigation is concluded with a plea having nothing to do with president trump or the trump campaign. the reason the president did nothing wrong and paul manafort will tell the truth. he later redacted paul manafort will tell the truth remembering from his own days in the justice department that, of course you'll tell the truth once you've pleaded guilty. you'll have no incentive to not tell the truth.
if paul manafort tells the truth, incriminates the president, they're in deep doo-doo. >> that's possible. i think the reaction we're hearing from the white house so far, and i need to stress so far, someone described it to me as oddly calm. and there was a sense that rudy really does believe, as of now at least, what he put out in the statement and a sense what manafort plead guilty to does not touch the president. i will say two things. other people have told me there's a certain level of anxiety and unease with this because they don't know what they don't know. and manafort as we've discussed earlier is cooperating with everything. and so just because they don't see in the charges or the plea, we know that manafort was there at that fateful trump tower meeting where the president's son expected to receive dirt on hillary clinton. and that is problematic. and a number of people have said they're also waiting. it's sort of a slow burn but
give it 48 hours and let's see how the president reacts to this. and that's sort of what everyone is waiting for right now. >> john heilemann, that's how it goes, how the president rolls. he'll take in 24 hours of cable news and decide if he's going to fire jeff sessions. or threaten to. >> the thing with sessions, the guy -- trump despises him so much and so much wants to fire him. we discussed this before. for whatever reason, he is determined because he would have fired him a long time ago. the political cost of that would be too high. he'd have a hard time getting another attorney general confirmed who would be better for him. i don't know what's in trump's head about this but somehow logic has prevailed on this front because he trashes sessions all the time but doesn't actually ever move on him. i just think right now, all of our legal aminalysts have incredibly important things to say. i'm going to be a psychoanalyst. it's all starting to collapse in on trump.
the reporting from this week is that he is starting to finally see it. the notion that it took him a long time to get that these midterms were an existential threat for him. if he lost the house, he could get impeached. it took him a long time to believe these people would ultimately not be loyal to him because he's such a narcissist. he thinks he's been loyal to them. he hasn't been. he thinks they all love him. he's now increasingly this nixonian figure in the white house. he doesn't trust anybody in there but his family anymore. all the people on the outside have turned against him. the woodward book, the op-ed. the walls of the legal and political pressure are coming down on him, and the political jeopardy is acute enough that even he sees it. i don't know what he's going to do between now and midterm election day, but it is going to be, i think, as extreme as his behavior has been offer the last 19 months, it's going to be more extreme than that and it's going to be quite frightening. >> and i think it's clear today and i love your thoughts on
this, that the justice department, the southern district, the mueller investigation, they are truly -- i don't want to use the word obl ouo oblo oblivio oblivious, but they're immune. >> they don't engage in the political machinations. they're putting their heads down and doing their job. and that's what we saw from the southern district as to michael cohen's case. that's what we're seeing now with robert mueller. they've likely already met with paul manafort. they must know that he has something of value to give them. >> of what can he have of value? >> we need to be cautious about jumping to the president here. now it is -- >> could be jared kushner. could be donald junior. >> who is in the june 2016 meeting? so what conversations did they have. but before that meeting -- what happens before that meeting, after that meeting? donald trump himself, we know, does not use e-mail.
so paul manafort could be the witness that provides the insight into what donald trump knows, but he very likely also had a lot of conversations with other people in the campaign, particularly don junior and jared kushner. >> go back to this fact. of those key people, jared kushner and don junior family. paul manafort not family and in that room and he could be -- may be that the family is not flipable. but manafort has now flipped and could be the key to that meeting. after the break, donald trump's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day just got very worse. another close trump ally has been quietly talking to robert mueller's team. also ahead, the latest on hurricane florence as rescue efforts are under way and citizens brace for floods and extended evacuations. and president trump's nominee to the supreme court faces new questions this afternoon about an alleged encounter with a woman dating back to high school. we'll bring you all those stories, next. two in one?
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i can tell you that mr. cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows. >> looks like robert mueller may be interested in hearing what michael cohen knows. chuck rosenberg reminded us this hour. just hours after trump's campaign chairman flipped in mueller's investigation. "vanity fair" is reporting in recent weeks it's also become common knowledge among close friends of michael cohen that cohen is talking to the mueller
team, according to people familiar with the situation. the reporter who brought us that story just moments before we came on the air, emily jane fox joins us live on the phone. what are you learning, emily, about what cohen has offered, and how much time he may be willing to spend or has spent with the mueller team? >> the nature of the conversations and what they have discussed is still unclear. the people who are familiar with the situation have expressed to me that michael cohen is an open book. he is no longer going to be protecting president trump. that is not in his interest at all anymore, and he wants to be as helpful to the special counsel's office as he can possibly be. now there is some questions about how helpful he can actually be. what he knows, what he witnessed, what he saw. but this is someone who has been incredibly close to the president in physical proximity, as well as the president's family members. he worked alongside don junior,
ivanka and eric for more than a decade and alongside the president. we heard in a recording released earlier this summer the kinds of conversations he had with president trump where anything that michael cohen was doing, it seems like the president was aware of what he was doing. it seems from the nature of that conversation, which we heard, thanks to it being released, they were in lockstep. and michael cohen was in the front row of what was going on and from everyone close to him, from all of my report, it seems like he's not going to hold back. >> and i just jotted down a quick list of things that michael cohen might be helpful to help people understand. and you mentioned donald trump jr. and jared kushner. it's widely believed that both of them are under scrutiny, under investigation as well. obviously, michael cohen, we know from that raid that the hush money to women. that's under investigation. russian business ties under investigation. donald trump jr.'s willingness to take a meet with folks with
ties to russian intelligence to get dirt on hillary clinton. the trump tower meeting under investigation. efforts to cover up that meeting and lie about it. part of the obstruction of justice investigation. the list goes on and on. would it surprise you if this cooperation wasn't in some way or another already ongoing, emily? >> i don't know that it's cooperation yet. all i know is that it is conversations that have happened. i know that for months michael cohen has been signaling he's willing to cooperate. whether or not robert mueller finds him a credible witness or a useful witness, that will be the ultimate determination of whether or not he becomes a cooperating witness here. but it's not a factor of if michael cohen is willing to do this. but as you said, he is the kind of person who could have been a witness to all of those things. now it's not to say that robert mueller doesn't already know about all of those things, but to have someone be a corroborating witness is a value thing if he can, in fact, corroborate those things. >> emily, stay with us. i want to bring daniel goldman
into the conversation. it seems like this is the kind of thing that, you know, maybe those on the outside are making a distinction about achieving a cooperation agreement where you've been granted leniency in sentencing and communication which seems it's more likely than not ongoing. >> so they dovetail because the communication is an effort to cooperate. and ultimately what michael cohen wants here is some relief from his sentence. the southern district of new york didn't agree to a cooperation agreement with him. but this is where it's kind of an interesting dynamic that we're in with michael cohen. they only have a piece of it, and bob mueller has a much different piece of what -- of -- that he's looking into related to russia. and maybe other things. so it's an interesting dynamic where the southern district is not interested in his cooperation, but mueller may very well be. the trump tower. that's the southern district, not mueller.
also all those inauguration meetings that michael cohen, the peace plan he gave to -- he reportedly gave to michael flynn. is there a quid pro quo going on after the election? that's under bob mueller's investigation. that's not the southern district. >> that could have been the name of his firm. we've seen public reporting on the fact he was essentially selling access to donald trump. >> which is not necessarily illegal. >> no, but you're talking about a quid pro quo in the context of a criminal investigation. that could be of interest. >> absolutely. >> let me bring chuck back to something we talked about weeks ago. we noticed michael cohen's silence in contrast to a very public phase of this investigation for him. do you maintain your observation from a couple weeks ago that that silence was probably a sign that he was continuing to effort to cooperate with the mueller investigation? >> i do. i think what it meant and what it continues to mean is that he was trying to sell what he had. now i think dan makes an important distinction between, and you did, too, between
cooperation and communication. and it may be that the prosecutors don't need, don't want, don't like, but probably don't need or don't want what mr. cohen has to sell. and he's trying to sell it. i think there's another important distinction here. and i just want to follow up on something that dan said. mr. manafort hasn't been promised leniency. he's been promised an opportunity to cooperate. and if he cooperates fully and the prosecutors in their own discretion decide that it is what we call substantial assistance, they can go to the court and ask the court to give him a more lenient sentence. mast has already gotten the ability, to cooperate. cohen is seeking that, but we think that's what the silence meant. i thought the silence spoke loudly. i thought what the silence meant and means is that cohen is trying to cross that cooperation threshold. >> ashley parker, it's no secret that the president's flying off
the handle from a couple weeks back coincided with the day paul manafort was convicted and michael cohen pleaded guilty. any alarm bells going off with these twin developments today mirroring those from a couple weeks ago? >> i think the reason you do hear some anxiety now, which may likely grow to be more anxiety in the next day or two about what's going on with manafort right now is because michael cohen is sort of either the canary in the coal mine or the cautionary tale. he said he'd take a bullet for the president and was loyal until suddenly he wasn't and became a real problem. and that's sort of the slow slope we've seen of manafort. he wasn't going to cooperate, who was going to be incredibly loyal to the president who could be considered for a pardon. >> sorry for the ringing, ashley. we'll try to get to the bottom of that and get rid of it. go ahead, ashley. >> but -- some people i've
spoken to say manafort could -- >> i'm sorry. we lost ashley's microphone. it was doing all that beeping. frank, pull us out from that ring tone that distracted everybody and tell me who michael cohen is in this story. we tag him with this guy who would take a bullet for donald trump and it's too easy to say he's pointed a gun at his legal liabilities, but it seems if you go back to that day, and we were all together or a bunch of us were all together that day when in the same hour it happened to be the 4:00 hour, paul manafort was convicted, michael cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts. what does it mean that again on the same day you have paul manafort cooperating and michael cohen really, really, really, really trying to? >> well, a couple of thoughts. it was rudy giuliani who said if anything happened after labor day from the mueller team he'd come down like a ton of bricks. i think things are still happening and it's going to be a ton of bricks on the president and the campaign staff. michael cohen, i view as the
forrest gump in all of this. he was in the right place at the wrong time. he's got a lot to tell and a story to tell. remember this. mueller, through that raid from the southern district of new york on his offices, his hotels, they have cohen's recordings, files. they've got everything. so the question for cohen and the problem for cohen is what can i tell the mueller team that they don't already know. and for me, that's all about the money. it's all about the degree to which cohen tried to get russian governments, get their money, set up accounts, pretend he had access that he probably didn't have and now we see a flow of russian money or other money into the presidency or into the campaign, and the degree to which the president was told about that is the key for me. >> emily jane fox, ashley parker and frank, thank you all so much. after the break -- forecasters warning of catastrophic flooding as hurricane florence takes its sweet time pounding north carolina with rain and storm surge. we'll bring you the latest.
you are looking at powerful winds whipping across oak island as hurricane florence continues to batter the carolinas. after making landfall this morning, the hurricane is bringing along torrential anns, strong wind and storms. the president will travel to areas affected by the storm. so far the storm has claimed four lives. nbc's al roker is back with us and is tracking all the latest developments. where is this storm, and how are people faring? >> well, it's been difficult, especially earlier this morning. we had a lot of high water rescues in new bern, north carolina. also in myrtle beach and right now we're watching this system as a category 1 storm. this is the latest from the national hurricane center. it's 40 miles west-southwest of
wilmington, north carolina. it's moving west now at 6 miles per hour. so that's fairly slow for a land-based hurricane. you can see by tonight at 8:00, it's still a tropical -- it's still a hurricane. a category 1 storm, around myrtle beach. by saturday morning it's become a tropical storm. by saturday evening it's over columbia bringing tropical force conditions and winds are still going to be a major factor for this evening. wind gusts of up to 77 miles per hour in wilmington. 94 miles per hour as this approaches myrtle beach. and so with that, we expect up to 3 million people possibly without power. we know more than a half million people in wilmington are already without power. we're looking at 7 to 11 feet as far as the storm surge. and then you add in the high tide. storm surge goes on top of that, and that storm surge comes in around 11 -- the high tide comes in around midnight to 12:30 down to the southern part of the
coast. rainfall still, it's a potent rainmaker. even though it's not a category 2 or 3 storm, it's still doing a lot of damage anywhere from another 10 to 20 inches of rain along the coast. and that doesn't include the rainfall as this thing moves west and then heads up into the ohio river valley. we're actually going to be talking about rain and possible flash flood watches moving into the ohio river valley by monday. and into the northeast and new england by wednesday. >> al roker, thank you so much for spending so much time with us this week. we're grateful to you. >> you bet, thanks. let's turn to garrett haake in new bern where the schwawate still rising and rescues are happening. bring me the latest. >> less water today to make you and my mother less nervous. the rain has not stopped falling here in more than 24 hours. it started yesterday about 3:00 in the afternoon. for all intents and purposes,
it's continued through to this moment. the good news as regards the flood, we hit the high water mark about 11:00 last night. the water was about 100 yards further down the road in this direction. now it has retreated significantly. the river is supposed to be about 100 yards to my left. now, obviously, we still have plenty of water in the streets and rescues still ongoing. overnight, there were hundreds of calls for rescue. they've been methodically working through this combination of at first, guys from the cajun navy, unofficial rescuers out here on boats. national guard working very closely with local police and firefighters. we watched some of this today going door to door in some of these flooded neighborhoods. not just waiting to see if people orp their front porch but going on back, knocking on the back door, looking in windows trying to make sure even the folks that could not ask for help were dwegetting the help t needed. we've seen the big 5 ton trucks loading people up and getting them out of these neighborhoods. what we heard were folks who did
not want to leave for various reasons or did not necessarily believe that the storm surge here would be as bad as it ultimately turned out to be. this was not a wind event here. it's been rainy but that's not been the thing causing the flooding. it's been that surge off the river. now that i think most of that is behind us, probably, i don't want to make big bold predictions but probably the worst is behind us in new bern except another long, dark night without power. two-thirds of the city is without power. no indication that's coming back soon. >> we're watching your coverage of the rescues. generally speaking in all of your live shots, and i've seen a lot of them, there are not a lot of people. it looks to me if people there heeded the evacuation warnings and if that ended up saving lives. >> yeah, the mayor said on television today he thinks about 70% of people here probably did heed that evacuation warning. he had a couple hundred getting rescued. the houses i'm at here along the riverfront, these folks don't
mess around. they've seen these big storms. they know what they are in for. when you can see the river out your front door on a normal day you know what you're getting into. by and large the evacuation order was heeded here to a good percentage. and i absolutely am convinced that saved lives. >> garrett, please stay safe. we appreciate all your excellent reporting. i look forward to seeing you back on dry land. mariana joins us now. tell us what you're seeing there. >> this is the southern part of oak island and they warned us, we've been telling our audience all day it's going to get worse before it gets better. just because the storm has passed us, doesn't mean we're out of the woods just yet. i can feel the wind has picked up considerably since the last time i was here. it's going more than 40 miles per hour, at least. and all that we're talking about, just look at the speed by which the water is just coming
inland. i want you to look at that fire hydrant behind me. that's at least three or four feet. i'm standing on the ledge of this building now. and in the past couple of minutes how the water is coming up on my feet. this is coming in by the minute and that is what happens. speaking to the mayor of oak island. she's repeatedly said it's preferable for people to still hunker down. don't think that the storm has pass eed it's okay to be out an about. there's a lot of debris starting to fly around. trash cans. and a lot of the sides of the build having started to come off. oak island again, myrtle beach and 40 minutes south of wilmington, not out of the woods. and still feeling the wrath of the hurricane. >> i've watched you ducking and bobbing and weaving from debris all day long. i wonder if you can tell us based on your reporting and eyewitness accounts what the damage looks like at this point.
>> here in oak island, and this is 19 square miles, i haven't seen any severe damage in terms of homes. i've been speaking to the mayor on the phone. the police chief. no reports of casualties as of now which is good news for the people of oak island. but as garrett haake has been reporting with the rescues, it is now imperative for people to hunker down and to stay home. this island still has power, but a lot of the residents fear they may lose power in the next couple of hours and days. so still a very hairy situation out here, nicolle. >> i'm becoming the network mother hen. please stay safe. put a helmet or hard hat on or something. we appreciate your excellent reporting. we're grateful to have it and you. the president's nominee to the u.s. supreme court is facing new questions today about an alleged incident from his high school days. we'll bring you that story next. i'm ray and i quit smoking with chantix.
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supreme court nominee judge brett kavanaugh is denying allegations made by a woman who reportedly said he tried to force himself on her when he was in high school in the '80s. the woman described it in a letter shared with california democrats anna eshoe and dianne feinstein. it's detailed in "the new yorker." kavanaugh responded to the allegations with a statement saying, quote, i categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. i did not do this back in high school or at any time. according to the daily beast, president trump is aware of the reports and continues to fully support his nominee. joining us now from "the washington post," white house reporter song min kim. tell us what you hear about how this letter came to be released, why it wasn't raised earlier as part of the very public hearings earlier in the week and last week and the white house response. >> well, based on our own -- based on our reporting we know this letter was initially
brought to california representative anna eshu who relaid that information to dianne feinstein who played a role in vetting judge kavanaugh on the judiciary committee. but we know that privately some democrats, within the last week or so, started hearing about the existence of this letter which they did not know previously about. asked feinstein for details and she debriefed them in this last-minute emergency meeting, called a wednesday night at the capitol and you see how the news snowballed from there. senator feinstein released a statement yesterday saying, a pretty cryptic statement saying she'd referred information about brett kavanaugh to federal authorities. now that we do have a new statement from a spokesman for senator feinstein today saying she was given information about a third party. she took these allegations seriously and believed they should be made public but the
woman in these -- the woman in question wanted -- made it clear she did not want to make this public. so senator feinstein has been pointing out the woman, there were confidentiality issues and that's why -- that's kind of why we're seeing this all unfold right now. just basically, you know, two weeks or so before he was on track -- before he is on track to get confirmed. >> joyce vance, let me bring you in and ask you to speak to what we know of the alleged incident that judge kavanaugh denies. and sort of the nature of this sort of development coming out for someone -- we should say, brett kavanaugh has been confirmed by the u.s. senate. he's been investigated as a senior white house official with the highest security clearance and as a judge. so what do you -- on the other hand, any victim of any alleged incident has all sorts of -- a myriad of reasons for not coming forward. how do you weigh those if you're
on the judiciary committee or in the senate examining this candidate, this nominee? >> it's a very difficult situation. they are serious but also potentially damaging allegations about conduct by judge kavanaugh when he was back in high and senator feinstein was really in a very difficult position with a victim who did not want to be publicly identified. we, of course, exist in a system of justice that based on this principle that everyone has the right to confront someone who accuses them. so how do you weigh all of these different equities and move forward? senator feinstein chose to forward this information to the fbi, which is charged with doing judge kavanaugh's background, and that seems to be initially a good step to take here. but the real problem is this process for confirming judge kavanaugh, which has been so streamlined and done so quickly before the national archive could produce documents, really before anyone had the opportunity to fully examine the
material. and that, i think, has forced senator feinstein's hand here. this is perhaps the reason we've seen this come to light in the way that it has come to light. now it seems likely that we'll have some kind of repetition of the anita hill process. perhaps there will be testimony. but senators will have to make a difficult decision in the era of "me too" about whether conduct, which if its borne out that this individual complains of, that occurred back in high school, is something that they need to take into balance in considering judge kavanaugh's nomination here. >> john? >> i think there's no doubt the process has been rushed, does not speak to the issue which i think is most concerning to democratic senators on the committee, which is that senator feinstein received this letter back in july, late july. and she did not share it with her colleagues on the committee in any form, did not -- when committee members had asked her about it, she declined requests to discuss it. she's now briefed the members of the committee without staff present. there are obviously ways in
which you could have that conversation while still respecting the confidentiality of the accuser, and i think it's a very complicated political situation. dianne feinstein is running for re-election this year. she has a challenge from her left. the memories of anita hill and the politics around it, the accusations against joe biden at the time, having chosen not to interview additional accusers against clarence thomas at the time. obviously the sensitivities around this in the me too era are higher. i think whatever happens here with judge kavanaugh and how we proceed, there is now, at a time when democrats really needed to be fully unified if they were going to have any chance of stopping this nomination, there's no discord among democrats and a lot of concern among -- and again, senator feinstein's fellow democrats about how she decided to handle this. there was a period of time when it seemed like she was sort of saying, i've got this. you don't need to know about t. a lot of senators on the justice
recommitt -- judiciary committee, not happy with this as all. >> i think the fbi will have to look into it. the fbi will speak to this woman. the fbi will speak to the third pers person, judge kavanaugh's friend who was there, who said in the "new yorker" article, not this never happened, i didn't do it, said i have no recollection of that. as a prosecutor, when people say "i don't recall," if it's something that happens every day, okay, that makes sense. you don't recall whether this happened. if you're being accused of putting your mouth over someone -- your hand over someone's mouth and turning music up to muffle the sounds, that seems like something as a prosecutor and someone told me, i'd say, wait a minute. you would remember that if it happened. >> and be able to either deny it or -- >> absolutely. so there's still more to come from this, i think, from the fbi angle. but as john points out, this is a very expedited process we're on, and there may not be enough time to have this impact the nomination. >> chuck rosenberg, it's not as if the fbi was short on
politically charged, high-stakes endeavors, but it seems like it may be sort of a place where the professionalism and the discretion to handle this. your thoughts? >> i agree. it's critically important that it be handled professionally and properly and quickly, frankly, because i think everybody is entitled to know what happened and to know the truth behind it. you know, nicolle, this reminds me of another problem with the president's continued attacks on the justice department, on the rule of law, and on the integrity and professionalism of the fbi. we keep asking the men and women there to do really difficult, important investigations, and we want to trust their results. and i do. i know that place. i had the privilege of working there. but this is what we're undermining when we attack their credibility, and it's going to remain a continuing danger, i'm afraid. >> it's such a good point. it brings us back to where we start a lot of days.
the president's attacks on his own justice department and his own fbi. right at the moment when he needs them most. thank you so much for spending so much of the hour with us. we're going to sneak in a break. we'll be right back. come here, babe. ok. nasty nighttime heartburn? try new alka-seltzer pm gummies. the only fast, powerful heartburn relief plus melatonin so you can fall asleep quickly. ♪ oh, what a relief it is!
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but no matter what park you live on, one of 10,000 local allstate agents knows yours. now that you know the truth, are you in good hands? an update on the deadly storm battering the carolinas right now. florence has just been downgraded to a tropical storm, and authorities say another person has lost their life, bringing the number of deaths to five. stay tuned to msnbc for all the developments as we continue to follow the storm's path. john heilemann, switching gears pretty dramatically, "the circus" is back. >> back on sunday.
>> is this show going to be longer? >> the show is going to be longer. we're going to have -- it's a schmidt-oration that's going to be dedicated to that. he's not on this week, but he'll be with us shortly. i spent 2 1/2 of the weirdest hours of my life in the breitbart embassy with steve bannon this week. i will say for those people who think steve bannon is no longer relevant, put aside from his hateful views. the guy is still out there with 25 people. he's got somewhere north of 5 million, south of $10 million. he's making dark films, propaganda films that he admits are propaganda to try to incite the trump base to make them fearful, the notion that they don't win the midterms and hold the house that trump is going to get impeached. >> is he riding the racism wave or anything else? >> he's riding the fear wave is what he's doing. >> which is racism.
>> well, there's a lot of fear out there of a lot of things. >> anti-immigrant. >> he's still riding the alt-right train, but i will also say he's scrambling to get back in donald trump's good graces. knowing donald trump hearing steve bannon make the argument that this op-ed piece amounted to a coup -- >> i'm going to hate watching it. >> donald trump may like it. >> thank you. my thanks to john heilemann, daniel goldman. i'm nicolle wallace. "mtp daily" starts right now. hi, chuck. >> i'm trying to decide whether hate-watching is an endorsement. >> it is. >> we'll take it, chuck. >> a viewer is a viewer. >> a viewer is a viewer. that's right. a vote is a vote no matter how unenthusiastic they are. thank you, nicolle, happy friday. good evening. i'm chuck todd here in washington. welcome to "mtp daily." eve got two major breaking news stories tonight. after making landfall this morning, florence continues to