tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC November 30, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
the question is which of these faces can go toe to toe with donald trump and knock him to the floor. each one of them has to ask themselves how much they want it. trump will be in trouble. he will use every weapon ever imagined to save himself. that's "hardball" for now. "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. tonight on "all in". >> do you think president trump has been compromised by the russians? >> i don't know. >> the cohen plea ends the conjecture. >> he's acting like someone who's compromised. >> an american president who has been compromised by the russians faces the world. >> well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as a president of the united states. it's pretty clear -- >> you're the puppet. >> then -- >> a great young man. >> new reporting on the mueller probe's interest in donald trump jr. >> it was such a nothing. there was nothing to tell. >> what's going on with the republican insurrection in the
senate? >> this is a solution in search of a problem. >> when "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. and here is what we know. the president was compromised by a hostile foreign government full stop. there is no other conclusion that could be drawn from michael cohen's admission that he lied to congress to cover up the fact that donald trump was actively pursuing a business deal with the kremlin while he was running for president, and saying things like this. >> do you like vladimir putin's comments about you? >> sure. when people call you brilliant, it's always good. especially when the person heads up russia. >> yeah. >> well, i mean, he also is a person that kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries, obviously that would be a concern, would it not? >> he's running his country. at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country. >> but, again, he kills journalists that don't agree
with him. >> well, i think our country does plenty of killing also, joe. so, you know. >> you know. when trump made those comments he was secretly, secretly trying to convince the kremlin to let him build a trump tower in moscow. a trump organization even planned to give putin the penthouse, worth an estimated $50 million, possibly illegally, by the way. and yet trump pretended he was not pursuing the deal, pretended his opinions were not influenced by the financial interests. he lied over and over insisting he had no business relationships in russia and that the lying, that lying, gave the russians another piece of kompromat. they knew trump was lying, which meant at any time they could expose him. after describing his secret effort to build a trump tower in moscow, trump participated in the g20 gathering of world leaders in argentina where vladimir putin was all smiles in
greeting mohammad bin salman, the crown prince of saudi arabia who the cia says ordered the murder of "washington post" journalist jamal khashoggi. trump has cast doubt on bin salman's role in that murder. we don't know why. we don't know if anything the saudi crown prince might have on president trump. what we do know is this, trump has made clear he is willing to lie to cover up his business interests. last week he insisted he doesn't make any deals with saudi arabia. back in 2015 he was telling a very different story. >> i like the saudis. they're very nice. i make a lot of money with them. they buy all sorts of my stuff, all kinds of toys from trump. they pay me millions and hundreds of millions. >> democratic senator richard blumenthal, is the president compromised? >> he is extremely compromised. the russians have the same leverage over him they had over michael flynn. that's the reason the former attorney general wanted flynn fired, it's the reason that flynn was prosecuted.
the russians could blackmail flynn, and now trump with the truth. >> yeah, just a reminder to folks that sally yates went and warned folks at the white house about flynn because they knew that flynn was telling a public lie about private communications he had with the russians, and that that was the -- that provided a possibility for blackmail and compromise. what you're saying is that's precisely the same situation with the president of the united states, the commander in chief. >> in this case trump lied to the american people that there were no business dealings during early 2016 when, in fact, michael cohen was out there doing a deal, or at least trying to do them, and they didn't succeed, but not for lack of trying. and not only donald trump, but his family also potentially are at risk here of legal prosecution. >> it's also striking that the -- that the russians were covering up for trump. they were holding his secret and keeping his lie. here's peskov, a sort of
lieutenant of putin, he's the individual whose office michael cohen contacted. essentially lying about this very matter about whether there were any business interests. take a listen. >> if i'm not mistaken he never had any business here. >> he certainly says he did no deals here. >> i've never heard about any, any businesses of him here in moscow, here in the russian federation. >> that is the same individual who, according to felix sater invited michael cohen to come to pursue the deal. >> with donald trump it's all about the money. think of it for a moment. the nominee of one of the two major parties for the most powerful position in the united states, the leader of the free world is trying to do a deal with the kremlin, with america's enemy, a business deal to enrich himself. this kind of self-dealing is exactly what the founders sought to prevent through a clause in
the constitution known as the emoluments clause. never invoked before because we never had a president like this one. that's the reason that we have a lawsuit called blumenthal v trump, the reason the congress must have hearings and take action. >> it raises a specter right now of what deals are happening in the background. i mean, the president made this big show that he was panning it off to the kids, but we know that he could know whatever he wants about it. while he's president it's possible that something's happening while i speak to you. >> some of it is happening right now because the saudis have bought rooms in his hotels, condos in his buildings, they are renting places, he's doing deals in indonesia, all of it through the trump organization. keep in mind, chris, every other president has divested his assets, or hers, hopefully in the future, but with donald trump none of these assets has been divested, no private
interests have been surrendered. >> let me hammer home this idea that here's this individual who is going through the process of the nomination, about to become the republican nominee in six months, january to june of 2016, while his people are pursuing a deal, and not just pursuing a deal with russians, with the kremlin, and not just pursuing a deal with the kremlin, asking for their permission. here he is giving a big foreign policy speech in the heart of this period. take a listen. >> i believe an easing of tensions, an improved relation with russia from a position of strength only is possible, absolutely possible. common sense says this cycle, this horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon. >> again, on its own terms a perfectly reasonable thing to say about american/russian diplomatic relations. but what do you say looking at that knowing what you know now? >> i say the story here is really the sellout of the
american people, or national security for private ends. and the key point that you have just raised is what is going on right now that we don't know? that's the reason that we need oversight and courage and backbone from congress, which hopefully we'll have in the next congress. and why we need, also, the special counsel to be protected because the closer he comes to donald trump, the more the walls close in on him, the more he will lash out directly by firing robert mueller or indirectly through matt whitaker, the acting attorney general through a slow motion saturday night massacre, suffocating the special counsel by depriving him of funds or authority or subpoena power. and that's why we need protection. >> all right, senator richard blumenthal, thanks for being with me tonight. i want to bring in a
staffer, natasha bertrand. we already know there's compromising material the russians had on donald trump. the compromising material is that he was lying to the american people, a lie they could reveal that they chose not to. what are the implications of that? >> a lie that they continued to conceal until they had to admit it when "the new york times" reported on it last year. when "the new york times" reported on these e-mails between michael cohen and felix sater. we did not know about this until over a year after trump was naug rated. he was not being as transparent with the american people as he is saying now. now he's saying everyone knew about it, it wasn't that big of a deal. well, the lie itself, as you and the senator were laying out earlier, is extremely damaging. just going back to the sally yates example, sally yates went to the white house and said that the lie to the people were blackmailable. the russians look for any point of entry. this is what intelligence experts i've been speaking to for days have been saying, they
look for any point where they can leverage, especially a very powerful person, who is a nominee to become the president and then exploit that. that is exactly what the president gave them. the fact that michael cohen continued to lie about it, lied about it to congress in order to support the president's story and continue this conspiracy just shows how important it was to them to conceal it and the question is why. >> when you say exploit, i mean, i've read a bunch of stuff on this. not my personal area of expertise. a bunch of people talked about -- not as an explicit, we will expose you unless you do "x," but rather you know at all times they have something over you when you're enmeshed in this relationship. >> right. and could that explain the president's desire to not step on vladimir putin's toes constantly? just remember the fiasco in helsinki, how it seemed so bizarre that the president would stand next to this authoritarian leader and side with his intelligence agencies over the intelligence agencies of the united states.
i mean, this admiration for putin dates back a long time. and remember that infamous tweet in 2013 when he asked, i wonder if putin will be my best friend. and of course his desire to pursue a huge deal in moscow also goes back a very long time and the russian's investment in him goes back decades. they've been using his properties to funnel money into american real estate into the '80s. that creates conflict because the oligarchs in russia are controlled by the kremlin. there's a connection there. but i think that in terms of whether or not the president was fundamentally compromised by this deal alone, i don't think that that's the case. i think that what happened was it may have started out as a financial relationship and then it developed into this kind of political relationship. for example, michael cohen was all set to go to russia in june of 2016. all of a sudden the dnc started -- the dnc was hacked and wikileaks started releasing these e-mails. it became clear and the
"washington post" attributed it to russia and two days later michael cohen got cold feet and he decided not to do it. it may have been the situation where they decided, look, what russia is giving us in terms of political help here and undermining hillary clinton's candidacy may be way bigger than any deal we could ever get in russia. >> interesting. natasha bertrand, thank you for your time tonight. and now nick akerman, assistant special prosecutor in watergate, and michelle goldberg, columnist in the "new york times." there's such an irony here, when you talk about america first, the whole shtick is like finally someone's going to come and put american interests first. what we are learning, what we now know is he literally was putting russia's interests and his own first. >> i've been thinking about this. is trump capable of treason because that requires a sort of preexisting loyalty? right?
i mean, trump he obviously has no loyalty to america, whether he's kind of working on russia's behalf. he's working on his own behalf at all times. and, you know, i think that one of the things that the michael cohen indictment shows that he had a financial interest in buttering up putin throughout the presidential campaign. he might have done it anyway. we know that he has an affection for strong men and murderers. but he had every single reason -- he was basically trying to convince putin to invest in him. >> yes, that was the -- >> and then after the campaign, once he sort of becomes the nominee, and that's -- as natasha said, that's when things shift a little bit, that's when michael cohen calls off his planned trip to russia, then the nature of the investment, i think, becomes a little bit different and murkier. the one thing that we know definitively is that at any
point in donald trump's presidential campaign and his presidency, putin had the power to create a massive scandal for him. >> yes, that's right. >> and donald trump has always known that. >> that's exactly right. and this is -- this is something that is, i think, pretty unpress -- this part of it, right? >> completely unprecedented, absolutely. >> scandals, when you go back to watergate, there's a little bit of this iran-contra. >> yeah. >> foreign interests manipulating it. but it's the foreign interests in the driver's seat that's so striking. >> completely in the driver's seat. but it's interesting, if you look at it from the russian perspective, you get from the christopher steele reports because you see that the russians, when he's interviewing the russian government people they're looking at it as though trump is trying to play them by putting away these real estate deals so that he can get them to help out on the campaign. and basically help with these e-mails, with the whole deal that the russians were setting up. >> right. >> so you kind of had a
symbiotic relationship here. because at the end of the day what the russians wanted was the lifting of the sanctions. and that was the quid pro quo, thing is going to come out fairly soon. >> you know, it's also striking to me that, you know, we have -- we were talking about this yesterday in the office about the drip, drip, drip of it is if it all came out at once, their minds would be on the floor. >> instead we become habituated to it. >> the president was name as individual one in a criminal filing, the president of the united states and that's not the first time that's happened. this is now happens all the time. i remember when i was in chicago, and rob blagojevich was running for reelection, people would show up at events with individual c, he was named in indictments. >> or the president was kind of consistently lying to the american people about his business dealings during the campaign. i mean, that alone -- i keep thinking of the passover song, that alone should have been enough. and there's so many things like
that. but instead it seems like what we're waiting for is one of these moments that can break through this -- thing that we've been trapped in since it started. >> the cohen indictment foretells this. it's strategic in the sense that he was already exposed to six years in prison. you have to ask yourself why did they have a -- >> why come back for this? that's a good question. >> there's two good reasons why. when you put a witness on the stand as a prosecutor, you want somebody who has pled guilty to the very types of allegations and is right in the middle of the conspiracy that you are going to be charging other people with. >> i see. >> so what you've got -- >> you want a pleading to the thing that he's saying other people were -- >> they were part of. so with this whole real estate deal and the clause that the russians had into him and what he was doing with that in terms of dealing with the russians, was all part and parcel of this
conspiracy that resulted in their assistance in the campaign. so the other thing is you also take the sting off the lie that he made before the senate committee. so in other words you're using -- on one hand you're using his lie to give him some credibility when he comes in and says, yes, i admit to my crimes, i was involved in this entire russian conspiracy. i mean, you don't want him walking in there and saying, yeah, i pled guilty because i was paying off two women that were, you know, having an affair with donald trump. >> right. >> that would not give them the right -- >> you think this is the setup for further use in the mueller stuff? >> oh, i think it's right in the sweet spot of everything that happens, beginning with the june 4th call from -- with the e-mail from goldstone to don jr. >> we'll talk about that in a second. i hesitate to play this game, michelle, but sometimes i do. can you imagine, take for a second to imagine the reaction, if it just happened to have turned out that while barack obama was running for president on a platform of negotiating
directly with the iranians, he was trying to build obama plaza in tehran secretly, they would have dragged him away in handcuffs. they would have called for him -- >> i personally believe that if barack obama had been implicated in the way that donald trump is, even what we knew about before he was nainaugurated, he would have never been sworn in, never allowed to become president. >> anyone else would utterly be facing impeachment right now. one of the things they impeached nixon for was allowing somebody else to lie for him. thank you both for being with me. what did the trump family know about trump tower moscow. new reporting that robert mueller is asking questions about don jr. and ivanka's involvement in trump tower moscow. that in two minutes.
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mueller's attention the turning to president trump's family there's something that stands out from that infamous e-mail exchange between donald trump jr. and rob goldstone prior to the trump tower meeting in june of 2016. i've always thought about this and i've been thinking about it a lot recently. goldstone was the publicist for the russian oligarch -- he writes to don jr., just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting. the crown prosecutor of russia met with his father this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate hillary and her dealings with russia and would be very useful to your father. this is obviously very high level and sensitive information but it is part of russia and it's government support for mr. trump. notice what he does there. as just an aside. part of russia, and its government support for mr.
trump. that's a very casual reference to a very big piece of news. that a foreign government supports your dad, wants to get him elected. and it seems like the only way to read that clause then and particularly now, that is already an established fact between rob goldstone and don jr. that is a thing that the russian government wants donald trump to win, that the two people in that conversation already know. he's not breaking news to him. russia and its government supporting trump. as for damaging information on clinton, don jr. infamously replied, if it's what you say, i love it. joining me now, his piece about trump tower moscow. hunter, good to have you, what have you learned? >> well, you know, yesterday, i found out, basically, that donald trump jr. and ivanka trump were on their own pursuing deals for a trump tower in
moscow. and this is separate from michael cohen and felix sater's effort to have a moscow skyscraper with the president's name on it. but they were also linked to, at the very least, cohen's efforts. in ivanka's case she recommended an architect. and in don jr.'s case he was, at least as a source close to the trump organization admitted to me, peripherally aware. >> there's evidence they were copied on e-mails from michael cohen and there's a question of how involved were these two, how red into the deals they were, right? >> that's a very good question. but there's no question that they were very, very involved in the deals they pursued on their own, separately from michael cohen. both of them were working on this at least as early ooze 2006. sources close to the trump organization told me they stopped after 2013. and in 2013 that's actually when, chris you were bringing up the -- they were actually intimately involved in ivanka
and don jr.'s pursuit of the tower, which included trips to russia. >> there's now this question about don jr. just specifically on the narrow grounds of his testimony because, of course, michael cohen pleading guilty to lying to congress, that's not something that's very often charged, we should note. but this is -- it should be noted that in the transcript of the judiciary senate testimony he says we've discussed the aguile aguilera family. do you know if they were also discussing a trump tower in moscow? certainly not '16. >> there's never a definitive end to it. it just died of deal fatigue. trump jr.'s testimony according to his lawyer was for it to do different proposals, and that was a different deal than at a michael cohen deal. does that stand? >> that actually might be true. i mean, the one thing we know for sure is that donald trump really, really wanted to see his name on the moscow skyline. he was pursuing various different plans to build a
skyscraper there as early as 1987. so it is possible that the aguilera deal was totally separate from the cohen deal. there are little bits of indication of that in the fact that cohep and sater were running main point on the 2015-2016 deal whereas don jr. and ivanka were running the show on the other situation. >> when you step back and you're looking at this from the russian side, you've got a guy who he and his family are desperate to break into your market and you're the one who holds the keys or the green light to let him do it. >> yeah. i mean, i don't like to get over my skis. i like to work with the facts i have and the information i'm receiving. the one thing we know for sure is that for the better part of three decades, donald trump, members of his family, had multiple lines in the water to pursue this building. it was very, very important to them. another thing that i think is quite key, these communications between cohen and sater revealed
that, you know, there were contacts from russian officials encouraging both cohen and also donald trump to come to russia and that's actually not the only line of communication where we see russia inviting and calling donald trump over there for a meeting. we also saw this in the pop doppler list situation. someone on the official level in russia really wanted to meet with donald trump. >> hunter walker, thank you very much. >> thanks for having me. next, the unfolding insurrection in the senate over the protect mueller bill, who is standing in the way of mitch mcconnell? after this. the only fda-approved 3-in-1 copd treatment. ♪ trelegy. the power of 1-2-3 ♪ trelegy 1-2-3 trelegy with trelegy and the power of 1-2-3, i'm breathing better. trelegy works 3 ways to... ...open airways,... ...keep them open...
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poor mitch mcconnell, he's being forced to choose between his two favorite things, protecting a possible criminal presidency and jamming threw as many right wing judges as possible. until mcconnell brings a bill to protect robert mueller to the floor, flake says he won't be voting for any judicial nominees. >> it ought to be brought to the senate floor for a vote. until we do, the 21 nominations that are in the judiciary committee waiting for a vote there will not receive a vote. nor will i give my vote to the 32 nominations that are sitting here on the senate floor. >> with a narrow 51-49 majority, that means mcconnell can't afford to lose any other votes on nominees. so when republican tim scott of south carolina announced yesterday he was a no vote on thomas farr, the controversial,
far's bid for the federal bench effectively died. flake's colleagues are less than enthused about his sudden and rather late discovery of a backbone. senator orrin hatch said it's starting to irritate people. he's a good buy guy, but he's carrying it a bit far. i'm joined by jim manley, chief spokesperson for harry reid, and betsy woodruff. jim, why are you shaking your head? >> you said it best, poor mitch mcconnell. i feel really sorry for the guy right now that he can't jam through his right wing judges because senator flake out of nowhere has decided to take a stand and stop this until he gets what he wants. >> well, let me follow up on that. my understanding is, if they brought it to the floor, it wouldn't do anything. the house isn't going to pass it. it would be cleared out of the cache will ever the next congress. it's only symbolic, correct? >> correct.
but for right now mcconnell has made a cold, hard political calculation that if this president is opposed to it he's going to be opposed to it as well. he thinks, for better or for worse, that his political interests and the interests of his party are best aligned with the president. until that changes he's going to continue to bottle stuff like this up. >> well, betsy, he also -- it shows you how much mcconnell doesn't want to vote on this, that he's willing to sacrifice judicial nominees over it. what he cares about the most, the bill itself would be symbolic, that's how much he hate it is politics on the vote on this bill. >> that's right. mcconnell knows who he needs to keep happy in order to move his agenda forward. that is, his relationship with the white house is the definitive relationship for him in terms of his agenda. remember, mcconnell has said explicitly that his work confirming republican judges is the definitive part of his legacy. >> yes. >> as senator majority leader. that's not a secret. it's something he's been open
about. the fact that these judges are defining his decades in washington. so for him to jeopardize moving these judges forward in order to preserve his relationship with the white house, and in order to shield the white house from the kind of -- this type of vote would bring shows you how sensitive the mueller issue is in the highest levels of republican leadership on capitol hill. >> you know, there's another thing where he's not doing the white house bidding, the sentencing reform act, called the first step act, it was a product of bipartisan judiciary committee, probably got 65, 70 votes in the senate if you brought it up. jared kushner has worked on it. he's been pushing for it. mcconnell won't bring that up to a vote even though the president said he wants it. >> jared kushner doesn't have a vote in the senate, pretty simple. until the members of his caucus push him hard to pass the thing it's not going. i mean, there's obviously some hard core opposition from the
right to this thing, you know the old soft on crime, which is usually hurled against democrats, but this time it's being hurled against supporters of this -- what i believe is a common sense piece of legislation. >> betsy, what do you think about the politics of this one? >> the politics are complicated. one thing that's important for people to keep an eye on is the extent to which tom cotton has become the new jeff sessions in the senate. he's very much carrying the torch on two issues where sessions pushed the senate republican conference furthest to the right. those issues, of course, are criminal justice reform, both sessions and cotton have been adamant, committed, consistent opponents of efforts to take steps to reduce the -- >> we should have more people in prison, i think, he's on the record as believing. >> that's my understanding, yes, and then second cotton also is extremely hawkish about immigration in the same way sessions was. even as sessions has left the senate, that voice and that vote is still there. and, of course, he's incredibly politically effective. he's built relationships
throughout washington, particularly at the pentagon and the military community. he's a veteran and someone who's seen in many corners of washington as someone who will carry the torch for trump who very much represents that side of the party. another concern, i think, on capitol hill, among republicans when it comes to this sentencing reform effort is even though trump supports it in word, he doesn't actually seem to really be throwing his shoulder behind it. >> exactly. >> he said publicly in the past, multiple times, that he admires, for instance, what duterte is doing when it comes to fighting drugs and the way that singapore, actually executes drug dealers, is handling drug problems. trump's public attitude on the criminal justice question seems different from tweets crafted by staffers. >> what do you think, jim, about what flake is doing here? he could have done it earlier. he's doing it now in the lame duck session. he's only going to be in the senate for a few more weeks. it does show one senator can
have a real impact if they want to. >> that's, in fact, correct and that's been the case as you suggested the last year or so in the senate. it's going to be different next year when they beef up their vote total a bit. it's going to be trickier there. but yeah, it -- under the rules of the senate, any one senator can do enormous damage, can pretty much bottle the thing up if they want. and betsy's absolutely right, tom cotton could be a real problem in the senate next year if he continues down the path he's traking. >> well, betsy, i think that tom cotton has his eyes on the prize, by that, i mean the white house and -- at the post donald trump republican party. >> there's no subtlety when it comes to cotton's political ambition. he ran for the house at a young age. he's been relentless in his efforts to expand his political influence in this country and he's worked assiduously to
cultivate relationships with the white house and with trump's orbit. there's no question that he and that others, other powerful republican political figures view him as someone who could be a contenders for the white house. frankly in the decades to come. he's a comparatively young guy, by senate standards. >> chuck grassley had to cancel a committee meeting because he does not have the flake vote. that is the status quo. we will see if this holds the rest of the year. it is going to bum mitch mcconnell out if it does. jim manley, and betsy woodruff, thanks for joining us. ahead, michael cohen might not the only person that lied. the president pulls his signature move in tonight's thing one, thing two starting next. prevagen has been shown in clinical trials to improve short-term memory. prevagen. healthier brain. better life.
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thing one tonight, there is one thing president trump does way better than president obama, it's signing stuff with pens. not coloring stuff with pens, mind you, that he does poorly, pretty sure obama never colored a blue stripe on the american flag, or a brown one. but for years every time president obama signed a big piece of legislation we watched this tortured routine where he used a dozen pins, a little tiny part of his signature with the pen all so that the people who worked on the bill could have them as souvenirs.
president trump as done away with that nonsense, one pen, sign the thing, we're done here. if you people want a souvenir, you can have a picture. strangely it takes him almost the same amount of time to sign his name as it did for obama with 17. that's thing two in 60 seconds. tailored recommendations, tax-efficient investing strategies, and a dedicated advisor to help you grow and protect your wealth. fidelity wealth management. to help you grow and protect your wealth. at booking.com, we can't guarantee you'll good at that water jet thingy... but we can guarantee the best price on this hotel. or any accommodation, from homes to yurts. booking.com booking.yeah
why is everything with this president so weird and so awkward? today he's signing the new way better than nafta but really just basically nafta bill with the mexican president and the canadian prime minister. both of them pick up the provided pens, the ones that are there and sign the bills. not trump. he brought his own magic marker in his suit jacket and he uses that instead and then takes three times as long as the other guys to write his name. but they get through it and there in all its glory, trump's big fat signature twice the size of everybody else's, just the way he likes it. >> so i was signing documents
with a very expensive pen. and it didn't write well. it was terrible, actually. it was a horrible pen. it was extremely expensive to put it mildly, a government-ordered pen. so i'm signing and then i started using just a sharpie. and i may have one like sort of like this, let's say. so that's a sharpie. now i said to myself, wait a minute, this writes much better. this costs almost nothing. the pen is extremely expensive. i called up the folks at sharpie, and said do me a favor, can you make the pen in black, make it look rich? >> this cost practically nothing and the other one was immensely expensive. you give the amount. more important than anything it writes well so it works out good. i don't want to make this as a money for shopping sharpie, but it's a commercial for saving money.
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it has been 23 days since matthew whitaker was appointed acting attorney general of the united states. there are tons of reasons why he should not be the attorney general of the united states. but one of the most pressing is that he was on the board of a company called world patent marketing and in may a federal court ordered the company to pay more than $25 million for cheating customers and then shut it down. now, the ftc does not just shut down businesses. if you get to the point where
the ftc is shutting you down, you are a scam. and we're learning more about that new internal documents from the ftc show whitaker had waved of angry customers who had been ripped off complaining and he didn't do anything. in fact, we know of at least one occasion that whitaker, chief law enforcement officer of america, wrote a threatening e-mail to someone who complained in response. we now know the reaction of the people inside the ftc who are investigating the scam when they found out about whitaker's big new d.c. job last fall. you're not going to believe this, matt whitaker is now chief of staff to the attorney general. period, of the united states. the person who sent the e-mail had the appropriate reaction to the news. we should all have that reaction. while the acting attorney general may not have the best of intentions for robert mueller's russia probe, the special counsel still got an assist on yesterday's guilty plea. one of the senators on the committee that helped bring about the latest block buster, joins me next. hink about it.
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i won't tell you the number of times, but we have made referrals to the special prosecutor. it's a loud message to everybody that is interviewed by our committee, regardless of whether where that prosecution comes from. if you lie to us, we're going to go after you. >> that was republican chairman of the senate intelligence committee, senator richard burr issuing a clear warning about the risks of crossing his russia investigation. this comes just a day after former trump attorney michael cohen plead guilty to lying to congress about his plans to build a trump tower in moscow. democratic senator ron wyden of oregon is a member of that committee and joins me now. senator, your reaction to michael cohen pleading guilty to lying to you. >> that was a very significant development yesterday, chris. and let me see if i can be very specific about it. so you have these discussions going on about the moscow hotel deal with the russian government. at that very time, at that particular moment, what you had
was a situation where donald trump was speaking out all across the united states. he was saying putin is a strong leader. we need to have good relations. it's important for our country. he said that was putting america first. now we saw evidence yesterday what this was all about was donald trump putting his bank account first. >> so you were on that committee. michael cohen is one of many people that come before you. i thought the richard burr comments were interesting, and i know you can't elaborate, but i guess i'll ask you this. do you think everyone before your committee has been entirely truthful, or are there other people who might be in cohen's situation? >> let's put it this way. it has been since june of 2017 where we've had any public hearings to deal with russia. this is a transparency issue, chris. what our job is to tell the story to the american people, and i've said on your show the
key is to follow the money. it's way you compromise people, it's counterintelligence 101 is you follow the money. have i been pushing for michael cohen and others to come back before our committee and be transparent so we can ask questions and get to the truth. >> obviously, you're in the minority in the senate, and that will remain the case next year. richard burr will retain the gavel, because the republicans are the majority. but do you imagine a world in which cohen is called back? >> i can tell you there is something called deconfliction where we work with bob mueller to make sure that witnesses don't trip over each other. you bet he ought to be called back. and by the way, the leadership of the committee had said that michael cohen was going to come back. after that first appearance, he really played the committee. he testified behind closed doors, made a public statement. i said we got to get him back. the leadership said they were going to. they didn't do it. you bet he ought to come back. i tell you the other people that
need to be brought in a public hearing. we need to hear from the trump treasury officials because they have also key information about follow the money. >> wait. elaborate, please. >> well, the treasury department keeps special reports about suspicious activity. they're called sars reports. and i think there are a variety of. >> and we can protect america's national security, but we have to get these officials back in front of us because if you look at this, the very first hearing we had a fellow named watts, a former fbi man. i asked him about follow the money issues, the relationships in russia between the oligarch and the mob and the government. i said do you think i'm right, mr. watts, to follow the money? and he said you bet you ought to follow the money, and by the way, you can also follow the trail of the dead bodies. we've got other issues to look at. >> when you talk about the suspicious activity reports, those of course were part of what tipped off investigators about michael cohen's payments
to the various women, the two women that he has said he paid off on behalf of the president. have you had treasury officials, and does your committee have access to the kind of documentation that treasury or irs would have about the relevant financial materials here? >> i have been trying to get these documents for over a year, chris. and in addition to serving on the intelligence committee, i'm the senior democrat on the finance committee. we have authority over the treasury department. they have stonewalled and stonewalled some more. we have not been able to get access to these kinds of documents, and i think this relates to both committees. our job is to tell the story on the intelligence committee of what happened with respect to russia to the american people. bob mueller works on the criminal side. we tell the story. we cannot do our job on the intelligence committee unless we have access to these financial materials. >> let me follow up about a quote you just invoked from clint watts i believe is who you
talked about, who talked following the money and following the trail of dead bodies. referencing in russia? vladimir putin's enemies? people associated with the intelligence agency there who have died in the last year or so, of which there have been many? what does that mean? >> i can't get into the classified issues, chris, but what i can tell you, there have been public reports on this. and i asked mr. watts that question for a reason. that was supposed to be a very dry academic hearing, and i worked really hard to make sure that we could explore the relationship between the oligarchs and the mob and the government. and for mr. watts to kind of light up this debate in january of 2017, there should have been much more oversight already with respect to the follow the money issues, but yesterday, as i said, was a very important day because this showed that all of donald trump's denials about having no interest in business
whatsoever in russia, you remember that tweet he put out, no interest in deals, none whatsoever, now we have hard evidence that that simply wasn't truthful. >> final question, and it's a question i asked your colleague, senator blumenthal at the top of telephone show and i want to ask you because of the two committees you sit on. are you concerned that something similar is happening right now? the president has active interests in foreign entities around the world that are compromising american foreign policy? >> well, as you know, there is a whole body of law called the emoluments clause and trademark issues with the family and the like. you bet there are a variety of questions, and i'm glad you asked senator blumenthal. i'm part of the lawsuit that he's initiated. >> senator ron wyden, many, many thanks. thanks a lot. >> thanks for having me, chris. one last note before we go, this sunday night joe reid will meet al sharpton at the global citizen festival celebration of nelson mandela on the 100th
anniversary of his birth there will be appearances by trevor noah and oprah, performances by beyonce, jay-z, tune in this sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern only on msnbc that is "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. good evening, rachel. >> good evening, chris. happy weekend, my friend. >> you too. >> and thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. happy friday. today in washington, d.c., the president's campaign chairman was back in federal court while his legal team was back in court on his behalf. paul manafort himself elected not to come to court personally today. he instead stayed home. his new home the last several months now has been the federal jail in alexandria, virginia. after what has just been a remarkable week in the courts this week, which started with prosecutors in the special counsel's office declaring that paul manafort had been lying to them, saying he was in breach of his cooperation agreement, the president's lawyers then bragging publicly that they'd been using paul manafort as a way to gather intelligence