tv Deadline White House MSNBC November 15, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
them for you right away. you'll only pay $4.95. until then, look for me to (nicki palmer) being a verizon engineer twitter. is about doing things right. thanks for watching this hour. and there's no shortcut to the right way. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. so when we roll out the hi, everyone. to install the fiber-optics and small cells, it's 4:00 in new york. the expression used to go, when and upgrade the towers that will change the way we learn, work and live. america sneezes, the world catches a cold. well, what exactly does a world and i'll always be proud that we're not just building catch when the leader of the free world has a meltdown. america's first 5g network. the source close to the we're doing it right. president tells me today that the president's state of mind is the worst it's been since the campaign. and that among the west wing staff, there is a near universal sense of forboeding. new reporting from "the new york times" offers a likely explanation. three straight days of meetings my thanks to you all. that does it for our hour. with his lawyers in the russia investigation. the reason to draft answers to mtp daily starts now. hi, chuck. >> i guarantee you did not have questions suppose posed by the the conversation we had around this table, which was our special counsel robert mueller. memories of growing up watching those long days of meetings on mueller may
have been behind "hee haw." i'm just saying. this outburst. >> we were talking about wine. the inner workings of the
mueller investigation are a >> that's very new york of you. total mess. >> my love for wine. they've fountd no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. >> that's you new york elitists they are screaming and shouting at people horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. talk wine, we here talk "hee they are a disgrace to our nation. haw." thank you, nicole. and don't care how many lives well if it's thursday, i am they ruin. these are angry people, picking and he's grinning. including the highly conflicted bob mueller who worked for obama for eight years. ♪ they won't even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other
side. a total witch hunt like no other in american history. well, someone is going nuts. good evening. i am chuck todd in washington. welcome to "mtp daily." that against the special counsel coincides with what could be a if it is thursday, the president is lashing out at the mueller dangerous phase of mueller's investigation for the president. trump's answers to mueller's probe. well, that could be any day. it is as if he took the last 18 questions will be up against the testimony of five close allies months of attacks on mueller and who have flipped and are now cond t cooperating witnesses for robert mueller. and there are signs their cooperation continues to pose an ongoing threat to trump and his inner circle. michael cohen was spotted in d.c. on his way to meet with mueller's team.
and a new court filing shows that rick gates, trump's one-time deputy campaign chairman, is continuing to offer mueller valuable information as his sentencing has been delayed. roger stone and his allies predict that they could be indicted any minute now. and questions remain about donald trump jr. he is the only member of that now infamous trump tower meeting whose communications and interactions with mueller are unknown. this raises suspicions that he is a target of mueller's probe. all of those threats converging on the president as he and his attorneys draft their very first responses to robert mueller. here to help us sort through the day's developments, some of our favorite reporters and friends from "the new york times," mike schmidt, from "the washington post," phil rucker, frank figliuzzi, former fbi assistant director for counterintelligence, and matt miller, former chief spokesman for the justice department. mike schmidt, let's start with you. take us through what you and your colleagues are reporting about the president working on his answers to questions from
robert mueller. >> yeah, so what was the president's outburst really about? and we're still trying to figure that out here. but what's going on is they are trying to finish the answers to the questions. we're nearly a year into the negotiations between mueller's office and the president's lawyers. and we still haven't come to some determination on information going from trump to the investigators. and we thought we would have that this week. we thought that the president would send his stuff in writing. remember, the president's lawyers very concerned that if he actually sat down with mueller that he would say something that was not accurate and he would increase his criminal exposure. so the answers were supposed to go this week. it doesn't look like they're going to go. why is it that the president is so upset? is he simply upset because there are questions in there that he doesn't want to answer? or is there a larger thing going on in the investigation? is there something else that
they've learned about that is really bothering him? at the end of the day, we're now entering almost the 11th month of negotiations about this interview that still hasn't happened. >> and we also know that the president has had the questions for almost that long. what -- i mean, answers not being suitable to the president's legal fate or the answers that he wants to offer potentially contradicting something one of his other former aides have testified to, what's the hold up? >> i find it hard to believe that it's -- they are like sitting around trying to come up with the answers. they have known them since earlier this year when mueller's team in the winter sat down with the president's lawyers and told them the 49 questions they wanted to ask the president. perhaps there have been questions that are added to that list over time. but the president's lawyers have spent the past few months reinvestigating everything that's gone on to understand where the facts are and what the president can say.
so i find it hard to believe they're sitting around with typewriters in the oval office trying to finish this off. what i think is really going on is there is some part of this that they don't like. otherwise, why would they not have sent them. they want to put this part of the investigation behind them. they want this to be done with. they believe this is one of the final things that needs to happen before mueller can finish. and they, obviously, want mueller to finish sooner rather than later. >> frank figliuzzi, one of the things that may also be bearing down on them is the risk of a subpoena from robert mueller. how much patient do you think robert mueller has for this process which,a mike schmidt says, has gone on at least 11 months. they have had the questions to answer for many months and it's a smaller universe of questions they're even tackling. >> i think mueller has been very patient up to now. but i think we're meeting -- we're coming up to a crossroads. we're coming to the point where mueller is going to say to his team, we've got what we need.
we're pretty much done, and then you're going to see an ultimatum delivered to the president. and i think what's going on inside the white house right now, nicolle, is what i've seen with other public corruption investigations. with longtime corrupt officials who become indignant when they are held to account for their actions. so it's the mere act of seeing these questions, having to answer them on demand could -- can create in someone like trump an indignant feeling that he has to answer anybody's questions, regard fless of what they purpo add to that the nature of the questions, the specificity of what's being revealed in those questions. this has really gotten under his skin. and i think what's going on is he's arguing likely with his attorneys saying, i don't understand why i even have to answer these questions. they are explaining to him the alternative is a subpoena, sir. and he's becoming livid at this. and you are seeing the use of all caps in his tweets. you are seeing -- >> one of our favorite tells. >> well, there is variables that
a mathematical formula could include here. the use of all caps, the frequency of tweets, the time of day of a tweet all indicates the regrettable action. >> how does he know or where has he heard that they, the mueller investigators, are screaming and shouting at people horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. one, i doubt that's true. you and i both worked with robert mueller and i've never heard him scream or shout at anybody. but we talked yesterday at this hour about witness tampering. do you think trump is requesting read outs from people's sessions with mueller and his investigators? >> yeah. so you've keyed in on the same thing i keyed in on which is where is this coming from, if it's true. who is providing trump this information that i'm getting yelled at in my interviews with the special counsel teenl and what does that mean?
again, people say they're being hollered at, yelled at because they've been in positions of power. they aren't used to people being firm, getting in their face. if you are in an fbi interview and aren't cooperating and have facts counter to reality, then you're going to face a firm, in your face response from agents and prosecutors. and maybe that's going on. but, nicolle, is it whitaker that's reporting that to the white house? are people coming out of these interviews and reporting back? is -- does that equal tampering? does that equal intimidation? if he's demanding briefings after the interviews? this is all more fodder for the special counsel team to ask even further questions. >> matt miller, you have a theory on the case about donald trump jr. share it with us. >> look, i -- we know that the president or that everyone that attended that june 9th, 2016 meeting in trump tower has been before the grand jury. everyone exception. you know, donald trump jr. we have not heard any reports of
the president's son either being subpoenaed to the grand jury, having a request for an interview from bob mueller or going into an interview with bob mueller. it's entirely possible he has, of course, been in, talked to mueller. may have been to the grand jury and it's just never leaked out. but there are so few things like this that take place without the world finding out. i find that hard to believe. and so if that's true, if he hasn't been contacted by team mueller, he hasn't been asked for an interview, what does that tell you? that tells you he's in the same category as roger stone who has attorney said yet again yesterday the mueller prosecutors have never contacted him. when you are in that position, the only person in the room who hasn't been contacted by prosecutors, if indeed that's the case, i think it means you are the target of the investigation. and when you look at why the president's melting down, it could be the questions, although i'm skeptical of that. i think he's rigged the process now so if he doesn't answer the questions, a subpoena won't follow because matt whitaker won't approve a subpoena. if you look at the things causing him to melt down, it's the possible indictments of his
associates, roger stone and maybe others, but i think the one thing that probably worries him most is the fate of his son donald trump jr. >> let's just depart from what we know we don't know and let's assume he's been in to see robert mueller and it didn't go well. he perjered himself like half a dozen other people ensnared in the investigation have done so. what would the scenario be, matt miller, for the justice department? might they be holding on to the knowledge that don junior may have some legal exposure? leave this investigation and rod rosenstein's hands until it's come to its natural conclusion, or would that cross some sort of ethical boundary? >> i don't know that they'd do that. i don't think they'd use -- they wouldn't use that to try to preserve the investigation. however, if they were able to build a legal case against donald trump jr. and thought they could also build a legal case against donald trump you'll see prosecutors make those deals where they'll talk to one
subject or targest the investigation and subject to a plea agreement decline to bring charges. they talked about charging his son, ultimately didn't do it when he plead guilty. i don't think that's really what's on the table because under doj guidelines, the president can't be indicted which would lead you to believe the president can't plead guilty to a crime while in office. to the larger point, if they are going to move against donald trump jr., it will be the very last thing they do because of the threat that that will bring to the investigation. they'll do it at the very end or indict him under seal, maybe it's possible they might have already done that and not released -- done it as a protection in case someone like a matt whitaker wouldn't approve it but they'll hold it behind closed doors until the last possibility because they know how it would lead the president to react. >> phil rucker, if something like that, somebody en to have this sort of read-out with this specificity about mueller's investigators asking questions, wanting the
person being interviewed to answer them in a certain way, it would be the kind of information flow that could come from his son, right? >> potentially. but again, we just don't know. what we do know is that the president's focused on those answers and that he has a lot of other pressures that are coming to bear this week as well. the republican victory that he thought he had in the midterm elections a week ago, it's not looking like much of a victory now. and he's dealing with the pressures from the democrats who are going to be taking over the majority in the house. and launching any number of investigations, including into his tax returns to try to subpoena his tax returns into his business dealings, into the emoluments close and other issues as well. and it's just creating this storm of pressure around him. and at the same time, he's trying to decide which of his staff and cabinet members to fire. on any given day there's a shake-up under way in the administration, too. >> phil rucker, you and your colleagues have had some of the
best reporting about the president's state of mind. it's important and relevant because the american president not only holds the nuclear codes but he's also the leader of our country when he goes to europe and passes on a tribute to -- or visit to a cemetery to honor world war i veterans. he embarrasses every american. i heard today from a source close to this president in touch with several white house aides that this is the worst they've seen the president since his loss in wisconsin during the campaign. are you picking up anything today that it's taken a turn for the worse or the better? >> i'm hearing similar things that people around the president either on the white house staff, but also people who are just talking to him who are associates of his, are very concerned about the state of things right now. they've been concerned for a few days here. the president has had a pretty low-key profile. he's only been seen in public a few times this week, on monday, which was veterans day. he skipped any sort of public appearance to honor the veterans but he's been quite frustrated
in his conversations with friends and associates and in a pretty sour mood which defined the trip to paris. he began that trip to paris in a very testy phone call aboard air force one with british prime minister theresa may that, by all accounts, did not go well. >> mike schmidt, one of the things that a lot of people that watch the mueller probe think might happen next is the possible indictment of roger stone, including roger stone who has talked about how that might happen next. you and your colleagues have reported on how he might be this missing link in trying to prove some sort of conspiracy between the russians and the trump campaign. we have some of the text between roger stone and randy credico where they seem to be talking about a coordinated effort to hurt hillary clinton's campaign. do you have -- i'll read these if folks are in their car. randy credico, big news wednesday. now pretend you don't know me. roger stone writes, assumingly jokingly, you died five years ago. then writes hillary clinton's
campaign will die this week. you spent a lot of time on both prongs of the mueller investigation. where do you see the significance of a potential stone indictment, if it should come this week on the collusion side. >> who are these people that were around him and who was he talking to? i've struggled to get my head around it. but what it really comes down to is one simple thing. was roger stone someone that boasted and bragged about connections to assange that he did not have, and he was simply doing that to increase his profile and give him more currency in trump's world or was he truly talking to assange and working with him. that is where the question of assange -- of stone will rest. where was it that he was. and was this simply him just lying about his contacts, trying to be more important or was there something more significant there. and i do not think we'll have any real clarity on that until there is an indictment or until he's not charged. and i'm sure that's what mueller is looking at is that how
much -- what contact was there and was it significant? what does it really mean? did stone simply just know some things were going to be coming from wikileaks or was he working or coordinating with them? >> matt millmiller, we could al write the response. oh, i hardly knew him. i had no contact with him. he left the campaign oral. there's undeniable, mike and his colleagues have reported on contacts between roger stone an bannon. the president has known roger stone for many, many years. and it's no obstruction, that donald trump tweets alms exactly right. we will hear from the president, oh, i fired roger stone from the campaign and he worked for me years and years ago. the truth is they go back decades and worked together for a long time. and the question will be, if roger stone is indicted for something on the collusion side of the investigation, the conspiracy side of the investigation, the question will
be, is it just him conspire, with julian assange and potentially others to release stolen and hacked e-mails? or was he working with someone on the trump campaign? was he in contact with the president or the president's son? he was in contact with steve bannon. were there contacts other than those reported by "the new york times"? we'll have to wait for the mueller investigation to tell us. >> because we can bet that robert mueller does. mike schmidt, frank figliuzzi, matt miller, thank you for starting us off. playing hard ball to protect the robert mueller investigation. one republican with nothing to lose says he won't vote to confirm any new judges until legislation is brought to the floor to protect the probe. and a brand-new admission from donald trump that may look like obstruction justice to a careful investigator. also coming after the break, the big blue wave keeps growing. more house seats added to the democratic column bringing their tally to 35 seats picked up in the midterm. sounds like a wave to me. stay with us. billions of mouths.
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what would happen if matthew whitaker did something to impede the mueller investigation? >> i think that does provoke a constitutional crisis. the president elevate someone who would then stop the probe, that has to provoke a constitutional crisis. >> it would be a constitutional crisis according to jeff flake if trump elevated someone to the top of the mueller probe with the purpose of shutting it down. funny in a new interview with the daily caller, trump comes awfully close to admitting that's exactly what he did. asked about his acting attorney
general, mueller critic matt whitaker, here's trump. matthew whitaker is a very respected man. very importantly, he's respected within doj. i knew him only as he pertand, as he was with jeff sessions. and you know, look, as far as i'm concerned, this is an investigation that should have never been brought. it should have never been had. it's something that should have never been brought. it's an illegal investigation. joining me at the table, tim o'brien, mara gay, eugene robinson and nick confisore. author of a huge new scoop about facebook we'll get to. all msnbc contributors. you have a great new piece out. i want to read from yours. there was no collusion. no obstruction. i mean, unless you call obstruction the fact that i fight back, i do fight back. i really fight back. i mean if you call that obstruction, that's fine.
donald trump press conference, september 727th, 2018. he reveals himself in press conferences and interviews and, of course, on twitter. that seems like what he's doing in the daily caller and this morning on twitter. and that's your point right here. >> i don't think the challenge necessarily is finding his intent in here. it's pulling it out of all the word salad. he does interviews and press conferences and on twitter. but one of the through lines in all of this going back to when he was inaugurated has been bob mueller. it's been a constant. like one of the polar stars of his paranoia. and his lashing out. there's very few subjects that define his presidency and targets for him as much as bob mueller. any time you want to look at a pressure cooker, a vice closing in around him, causing him to act irrationally, lash out at other people, it's often the mueller investigation.
>> i have a theory on why this is. if you had to go to a lab and create two opposite human pee beings. if you had donald trump in one test tube, you'd create robert mueller in the other. unlike every republican elected official in the country, unlike all of the people that have gone to work in this white house, unlike all of the cabinet, say for perhaps matt, i he cannot corrupt robert mueller or control robert mueller. robert mueller does not care about how he's depicted in the press and robert mueller is going to get to the truth about donald trump. >> one of them talks all the time. one of them talks never. one of them served in vietnam. one of them had bone spurs. one of them is on twitter. >> one of them still weighed what he weighed when he was 18. >> one is under investigation. the other is investigating that guy. this is a position the president has never really been in. >> ever. >> he's never been in a place, tim knows this, where if he lied he'd get in trouble. where he couldn't push something
off or countersue or -- his entire toolbox of how he gets out of problems in his life. how he's gone through his business. it's unavailable to him. this twitter account is valuable to the country. it's like an early warning system. we can see him popping off. something is going on. >> i defended this today. i was asked why we cover his tweets. i said, listen, he fires cabinet secretaries whose agencies work affects the lives of every american. he, if we go to war, i imagine there will be an early signal on twitter. he is still the president, and what he tweets is usually the most sort of direct window into his actual thinking. >> it's just a window on the -- you see the real trump there. massive tells, those tweets. and you, obviously, can tell when he's freaking out about something. and you don't have to, you know, really parse the sentences to see he's telling you what he's, at least wants to do, if not is
about to do. and what's really on his mind. so this is driving him nuts, and it's driving him more nuts now, i think, after the midterms. after, you know, what he's come to see as the humiliation of the miss term midterms. >> he was lulled into some kind of comfort by the fact mueller had expressed to his lawyers there wouldn't be any action before the midterms. it's not just the midterm losses it's that mueller may be entering a more active phase. what can you make that the congress can't pass legislation to protect the mueller probe. >> it's a little scary, for sure. i think that between now and january we're in this danger period. it's nice to see senator flake say what he has said and attempt to do what he's trying to do. ultimately, actions matter, and the scary part for me is we've been norm busting for years now. and so i hear a lot of people say, well, surely whitaker won't
go that far. surely people will hold off. and i don't believe that necessarily we can trust that. i wish people would show real political courage, and i think it's a validation, frankly, of the american people's choice in the midterm elections. >> that they wanted some checks? >> they want checks and balances, and they are extremely concerned, if not about the direction in general of the country under donald trump and all republican congress, certainly about the violation of democratic norms. >> one thing i thought interesting. yesterday the federalist society, and you might have to live in washington to know or care about anything the federalist society does. it's the meeting of the most conservative minds in the country. they two years in sounded the alarm about donald trump's assault on the rule of law. while i will take anything from the right, anything, with any whiff of sort of disdain for donald trump's assault on our institution, what took them two years? >> did they just notice?
>> he talked about tapping obama's wires two months in. >> these are supposed to be the people who care most about the constitution, most about our democratic norms, and their pres evacuation and to just only now, two years in, realize that, gee, you know -- >> it's hard to bite the hand that feeds you, and the president has put this group into the driver's seat on stocking the federal bench. so it's easy -- it's very easy for me to see why they'd hold off. >> let me push back. it's more powerful to bite the hand that feeds you. they actually gave up their power. they gave up their voice and look just as pathetic as every republican elect inside congress. and who else was trump going to nominate? democrats? i mean -- right? >> they've gotten two justices on the supreme court. that's a win. and they waited to say anything until that happened. i think nick is spot on. >> a massive win that will last long past the trump presidency for generations. >> the changes to the court?
>> yeah. i think that's a good deal. >> so compared to that, what's a soul? what's a -- giving up a soul. >> conservatives can never again run as the party of law and order. that will forever be a chant at a trump rally. >> i think there's something about that indicative of a larger point of view which is also dangerous which is this sense that trump, i wish he wouldn't tweet so much. but the economy is so good. so it's okay. and i think that, unfortunately, in this country, we've seen that we don't have a good sense of our own history. we don't have a good sense of other people's history and where we fit in. and i think it means that we're left unequipped to really understand what's happening and the degradation of -- >> really quick. >> one thing that mara said earlier. this period between now and january, it seems to me that it may have dawned on the president what it's going to be like in january to have a house of congress --
>> he watches enough tv. >> -- with subpoena power who can haul in whitaker, for example, and ask him what sort of advice he was given by the ethics people at the justice department, about recusing or not recusing. >> and scarier for the president -- >> he can ask about a lot of things. >> they can haul in all the career professionals who have been muzzled or reluctant to pop their heads up, but they under oath will tell the truth about what they've seen. and on the tweets, i always say, the tweets of the simptsymptom, the cause. when we come back, we'll check in on that big, slow, blue wave and its effects on the president's stability or lack of it.
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part of his signature brand, all part of the new normal in washington, these past few days have been markedly different. the lion's share of the president likely belongs to the big blue wave which is still growing by the day. just this afternoon, the democrats' pick-ups in the house grew to 35 after a key pick-up in maine. the cause of trump's new attitude is harder to determine than the effects. those are easy to see happening right in front of us. remember mira ricardel, john bolton's deputy targeted with a rare public statement by the first lady? she seemed to be on her way out but then still had a job? the white house now says she's leaving for a new role outside the building. in the middle of his anti-mueller ram blings this morning and amid reports ricardel may be the first of many staffers set to leave, trump defended the decision by lashing out at the media. the white house is running very smoothly and the results for our nation are obviously very good. we are the envy of the world but any time i even think about making changes, the fake news
media goes crazy. always seeking to make us look as bad as possible. no, you do that all by yourself. >> remember he said it was a finely tuned machine once, many, many months ago. he said the same thing. this is trump. if i say it, it must be so. and he usually, it's a little bit like the lady doth protest too much because usually at the moments when he's saying we're a finely tuned machine and this is a great white house, the wheels are flying off the white house. >> two kinds of staffers. the ones that actually tell you like, it's not that bad. and ones that are like, will you look at my resume? >> exactly. >> you think about what just happened, right? the first lady's office puts out a statement attacking, demanding that the deputy national security adviser be fired. >> and she was freelansing when she did it. >> and it happened. now, i mean, would laura bush have put out -- no, of course
not. >> but for the first year of the administration, i thought, okay, it's like "the apprentice." someone loses a round and gets marched off. now it's like "bachelor in paradise." everyone gets wasted and fraud marched off the set. it's like way, way, way outside the building. it's crazy. >> i don't know why anyone would want to get rid of the president's tweets because half of america, over half of america looks at them and says, it's literally the opposite of whatever he says is what's happening. >> lynisten, it's not funny butf you weren't laughing, you'd be crying. >> of course. >> it goes to the beginning. the results of the midterms, because he's so conditioned to lie, he went out and told a lie on election night. great results. when the lie gets chipped away at every single day, it wears on him. >> that's the other thing is not just what -- that it's wearing on him but every time the president goes and talks about
election fraud, which is not happening, in florida or anywhere, he's chip away at democracy. and at americans' faith in democracy. and that's extremely dangerous and it continues. i don't find it funny. and i really don't want to sound alarmist when i say this, but i don't believe it to be alarmist. it's fascist politics. and that's really dangerous. >> someone asked me today about what role fox news has in that -- your comments make me think of this -- every aughtocracy around the world is held up by propaganda. every autocracy. what's comical about the tweets is their growing distance from the truth. what do you think? do you think there are any conversations inside fox news about their role as supporting the president's propaganda? >> from at least what you read about it that the fox, to a certain extent, is a house divided. there are people on the news side who would like to play this
straighter than the opinion side of fox news does. but the reality is that the audience is driven by the news side and the opinion side, i think, are pretty in lock step with the murdoch family's own goals. if they wanted to stop this, they could. i don't think there's any meaningful conversation inside fox saying we're on a bad path. fox is essentially assisting in the more propagandic efforts in the trump administration. >> it is interesting that fox, as a corporate ents iity, weigh in on the side of cnn and jim acosta. it may be more of an actual rift, at least amongst some forces inside fox. >> what do you make of the fact that the democrats haven't been -- they haven't done any sort of victory lap. i've seen no body language from the democrats, even sort of reflects the scope of their victories last week. >> who needs one? >> that's what i'm asking.
is it strategy? is it ptsd from 2016? >> why not do a little dance? kind of end zone celebration. >> or just pat yourself on the back that you ran on health care, policy at a time when a lot of people are debating whether or not policy gets through with all the tumult and all the sort of junk in the system that trump -- they ran on a policy message. was complicated, about preserving obamacare, and they won. >> they don't know who is in charge, which is part of the problem. as we see the battle for house speaker kind of coalesce and it looks like nancy pelosi will win out, but she's also going to have to, i believe, give some concessions and kind of spread the wealth to encourage younger leadership to come. >> bring into leadership. >> and as usual, even when they win, democrats can't talk about it. >> look, they won one house of congress. the president and the senate, the republicans. there was a tloilimit to what t
can do in a positive way. they can help set an agenda. it's smart not to overpromise or do a victory dance. it's hard to do a victory dance when you have the senate and -- down a few seats. they are looking to see, how do we get from this election to the next. the senate back and the white house and they are focussed. for all the criticism of pelosi, they ran a very good campaign and are still very focused. >> i think they need to offer an alternative vision of the country or we're hearing plenty from the white house. what is it the democrats are going to stand for in 2020? they need to start getting that narrative together. >> elections are choices. >> delay, deny and deflect. we're not talking about the trump white house's reaction to russian meddling in our reaction. we're talking about facebook. we'll explain after the break.
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a stunning new report in "the new york times" exposes the complete failure on facebook's part to deal with revelations about russian infiltration of its technology in a proactive or transparent way. they turned to denials and cover-ups. the times details how by the spring of 2016, facebook was finding signs its platform was being used by russians but didn't disclockwise what it was uncovering. inside the company, employees were tracing more ads, pages and groups back to russia. by august 2017, facebook executives concluded that the situation had become what one called a five-alarm fire said a person familiar with the discussions. criticism of the company's handling of russian influence grew and facebook went on the offensive. the times adds, facebook's chief operating officer sheryl sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat facebook's critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. may be employed a republican
opposition research firm to discredit activist protesters in part by linking them to the liberal financier george soros. after this times report was published, facebook announced it was cutting ties with that opposition research firm. nick is one of the reporters on that extraordinary piece. i want to hear all about it, but, first, tell me what's happened since the piece was published. >> they've done a conference call today with mark zuckerberg and other executives who say mark didn't know about it or didn't know about the soros allegations being made. but, look, this is a company, the big picture here is this is a company right now that's facing a real crisis. and right now the focus is on the leadership. the focus is on governance. where was the board and where was zuckerberg and where was sheryl sandberg? this is their company. they built it into a behemoth and it was not always led very well. >> what came through for me in your reporting is how sheryl sandberg's instincts when it
came to news of russian interference are similar to donald trump's instincts when he hears about russian interference. the first reflex is to deny. the second is to obscure and the third almost, most egregious is the attempt to lobby and spin their way out of it. >> that date in the run-up, august 2017. what's happening then. in the facebook, five-alarm fire. this is a big problem. outside facebook, the ceo is already on the record saying that wasn't a problem. but even in washington, they are telling congressional investigators, nothing to see here. it's not a big deal. there's no significant activity by russia on facebook. hugely embarrassingly, in september of 2017, they have to come clean. and they still don't come clean. they say there were a couple paid ads. they had to revise that statement twice. it's a case study of bad corporate pr and not getting ahead of a problem. that was just the beginning. >> as a former pr person, they have a substance problem. their substance problem is that
their technology was hijacked and exploited and used to damage american democracy by the russians. >> yeah, right. and that happened. and then they figured that out. they figured out what was happening and they didn't come to terms with it. they didn't come to grips with it in the way they had to. they had to relearn the lesson that nobody ever learns which is you have this huge problem. it's going to get out eventually. so you need to get out in front of it and they didn't do it. >> at the end of the day, this is proof positive, if we didn't know before. he's companies are like every other company and they should be regulated. >> of course they should be. and this isn't a matter of if. this is when. they are staring down the barrel of regulation, no? >> but not every company would have hired that firm that, you know, op research firm to link the dem -- >> it's a symptom, though, that their reaction was to make themselves look better, not to do better. >> their reaction was to go on the attack. i don't know if they even
thought about the consequences of doing that. you know, when you mention the comparrsons between trump and facebook they also share george soros -- >> as an enemy. >> a straw man they put out there as the force behind their critics. and everything that goes with that, including anti-semitism. >> it's disgusting. let me ask you. this seems like they have made the company look terrible. the idea that sheryl sandberg or mark zuckerberg have any future in politics seems laughable now. she was leaning in and he was on a tractor a couple years ago. the idea that tech is some benevolent source for good also seems to be blown up in nick's reporting. >> silicon valley has long held this view of itself that it was one of the american industries where everyone won. the customers won. shareholders won and the company itself won and they didn't do any harm. famously google's motto about itself was, do no harm. and facebook's been laboring mightily not to get regulated as
a media company. they keep defining themselves as a technology company because they don't want to have to deal with the regulatory universe that comes with being regulated as a media company, like making are sure people that advertise on your site are -- have good bona fides. >> there is no basic consumer privacy law in america. none. there is none. you have no protection. you have the protection these companies give you. use google, facebook, they say, here's the deal. this is a privacy we give you. take it or leave it. this is why that's important. the same thing that makes these companies powerful and rich, their ability to collect data on you and know what you want and what you like and anticipate it and feed it to you. that's exactly the problem with bots and trolls and disinformation. that same technology that ability to find what lights you up and drives you by knowing everything about the user is what the russians used against us.
and the problem for facebook is that the thing that they're under assault for is the same thing that makes them so much money. >> i have to ask you -- i'm sorry. >> it's their lifeblood. >> this is a piece you obviously were working on for a long time. what you were working on a long time. what's it like when you hit send? >> it is a good feeling to do good work and talk about it. >> a lot of people responding to your reporting. congratulations. the white house says the president will travel to the state to see the damage for himself. e to see the damage for himself. ♪
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the president announced this afternoon he will be going to california saturday to meet with survivors from california's deadly wildfires that continue to burn. officials have the death toll at 59. in butte county, it is 297 the president saying the only reason california experiences wildfires is, quote, mismanagement of the forest. he demanded that the state remedy now or no more fed payments. this is such a sad story. most of the people missing are seniors. there's an amazing story about a couple adopting a world war ii veteran and great stories of humankindness, but mostly a human tragedy similar to puerto rico. the president's first reaction, you see a window into his soul with initial reaktsz, it was to blame the victims.
>> he sees california as a blue state that rejects him. therefore his first reaction is to rub it in rather than for any -- you know, the deadliest fire in california history, which is saying a lot. what happened to that town of paradise, it sounds as if it was simply there one moment and wiped out by the fire practically the next. we have no idea how many more bodies they're going to find. >> it reveals zero capacity to ever view himself as the head of a nation. >> and to be authentically empathetic. he is not empathetic, he is calculating. he never said once during the multiple hurricanes that all of you are built on the coast and therefore you deserve to suffer the ravages of nature and lose your homes and businesses. he said i will be there. he gave updates on the weather, he went and visited.
he played a different tune with california. and i don't think he's ever going to change. his first calculation in any event is what can he get out of it personally, not what do the people around him need. >> i think it is just sad and it makes me embarrassed for all of us and i don't think it is that hard actually to be a commander in chief in those moments because what should be difficult for him is to look someone in the face who has lost somebody and comfort them. it is not that hard to not be a jerk in this situation. >> apparently it is really hard. >> exactly. we have to sneak in the last break. don't go anywhere. we'll be right back. don't go anywhere. we'll be right back.
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