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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  December 10, 2018 8:00pm-9:00pm PST

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her with this scholarship that got her through high school. >> i just want to say, again, that i'm grateful for this scholarship that you give me. i am here because of you people, and thank you very much. >> tiffany gets tonight's "last word." "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. tonight, is donald trump's presidency in real peril? the white house appears to have no clear strategy, as questions mount over whether trump would be indicted if he were not president, whether he'll be indicted the day he leaves office. also tonight, she certainly stood out, a red-haired russian who loved guns and the nra and republican politics. she is now an accused russian spy, apparently cooperating with team usa. and after dumping john kelly, trump's first choice for chief of staff says no to the job. in an episode "the new york
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times" says left the president feeling humiliated. as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a monday night. well, good evening, once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 690 of the trump administration. tonight, there is news of yet another plea deal with this russian connection. "the new york times" says maria butina, an accused russian spy who cultivated relationships with the nra and powerful gop conservatives, has agreed to plead guilty to conspireing to act as a foreign agent. the plea deal includes cooperating with federal prosecutors. we will have more on this story just ahead in our broadcast. but we begin with the president and the white house trying to deal with this new reality after the revelations made in friday's court filings from robert mueller and from the southern district of new york. part of doj. federal prosecutors in the michael cohen case have
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implicated trump in a scheme to buy the silence of two women, stormy daniels and karen mcdougal, during the 2016 campaign. that's a violation of campaign finance laws because it would be illegal spending to potentially affect the outcome of an election. this morning, trump posted his defense in messages that included a huge misspelling that's been talked about all day. it began by quoting fox news. "democrats can't find a smocking gun. tieing the trump campaign to russia after james comey's testimony. no smocking gun. no collusion, fox news, that's because there's no collusion so now the dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution, which it was not, but even if it was, it is only a civil case like obama's, but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. lawyer's liability if he made a
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mistake, not me. cohen's just trying to get his sentence reduced. witch hunt." but veteran investigators know where there's smock, there's fire. and earlier today, former fbi assistant director for counterintelligence, frank figluzzi, offered this assessment to our colleague, nicolle wallace. >> with regard to the southern district of new york filing, let's understand something. if donald trump was not currently the president of the united states, he'd be looking at an indictment in a matter of weeks, not months. in fact, he might already have been indicted if he were not president. >> and then came this. tonight, 44 former u.s. senators from both parties have written an op-ped for the "washington post." they've all signed onto it. it's addressed to the current u.s. senate. they write in part, "it is our shared view that we are entering
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a dangerous period and feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the constitution, our governing institutions and our national security. we are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel robert mueller's investigation, and the house's commencement of investigations of the president and his administration. the likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy, and geopolitical stability." they go on to say, "we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interests not replace national interests." these 44 senators, by the way, include names like bradley cohen, danforth, dodd, lieberman, lugar, two kerrys, simpson, and weicher and so on. the "washington post" reports the toll the multiple investigations are taking on the administration and the growing concerns among republicans,
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"anxiety is spiking among republican allies who complain that trump and the white house have no real plan for dealing with the russia crisis, while confronting a host of other troubles at home and abroad." this goes on to say, "the white house is adopting what one official termed a shrugged-shoulders strategy for the mueller findings, calculating that most gop base voters will believe whatever the president tells them to believe, but some allies fret that the president's coalition could crack apart under the growing pressure. stephen bannon, the former trump strategist, predicted 2019 would be a year of siege warfare and cast the president's inner circle as naively optimistic and unsophisticated." one of the costa, described the current dilemma inside the administration. >> there's a paralysis within this white house that's per investigative about how to handle the investigation. they feel if they start to medal
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rhetorically even in the mueller investigation, a white house starer could have to have a personal lawyer, maybe vul chushlt when vulnerability when it comes to obstruction of justice. letting the president tweet, do whatever he does. >> as we mentioned while all of this was unfolding this weekend the president announced john kelly is leaving at the end of the year. nick ayers who served as mike pence's chief of staff and poised to replace kelly announced he would not. as the "washington post" reports, that's left the president scrambling without a plan "b." more on that coming up as well. "the new york times" reports federal prosecutors are beginning to shift their scrutiny to the trump family business. tomorrow, michael flynn's attorneys are expected to file their own documents related to his sentencing. also tomorrow, paul manafort's lawyers will be back in court to respond to mueller's allegation that he lied during his cooperation agreement, and
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wednesday, michael cohen will be sentenced by a federal judge. it's a heck of a backdrop against which we bring in our leadoff panel for a monday night. from ann arbor, barbara mcquade, former u.s. attorney for the eastern district of michigan. in washington, ken vogel, political reporter for "the new york times." and chris majarian, reporter for "the los angeles times." requesting your indulgence, everybody, if my voice lasts the hour. i have this thing every other person has these days. barbara, let's start with you. something we heard neil catial say two hours ago on this network, the former acting solicitor general has argued 37 cases before the u.s. supreme court. not given normally to hyperbole, but this got our attention about a possible course for this president. >> the card he has left to play is resign and avoid a criminal trial. and i think that that's going to become an increasingly likely
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possibility as the facts come out and the american public realizes they got a guy in office who has lied to the american people, who has committed felonies, and is in deep violation of his oath to take care that the laws be faithfully executed and uphold the constitution of the united states. >> so, barbara, you see, perhaps, why that got our attention and so many of these stories that we cover have a slow rolling kind of aftereffect. these are friday's documents we're still talking about, after all. so as it has sunk in to you, what is the legal peril, in your view, for this president, near term and far? >> well, near term, i think that the statement that was made in the filing by the southern district of new york is a very serious one that says that individual 1, which we know to be president trump, directed michael cohen to violate the campaign finance laws by making those payments to silence women.
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that is the kind of offense that is, number one, potentially criminal arizos a conspiracy or solicitation, and also potentially impeachable. the framers of the constitution made it pretty clear that one of the grounds for which impeachment was appropriate is if a president was to procure the presidency by fraud. he should be stripped of the presidency if he was obtained fraudulently, and if president trump deceived voters by violating campaign finance laws, which are designed to promote transparency in elections, by hiding the fact that he was making a payment in order to influence the election, that could be of an impeachable offense, then i think the other nugget in the mueller filing that day that is so significant is that michael cohen is cooperating on matters core to the investigation and provided relevant and useful information. of course, the core of the investigation is russian influence and interference in the election, coordination with the trump campaign, and so long term, that might be an even more
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significant problem for president trump. >> chris, i was reminded tonight, you came to washington to cover this investigation, and i'm curious where you put the balance of power right about now because to a lot of us, it seems right now, advantage feds like this is something less than a fair fight. >> i would say absolutely. i mean, right now, president trump faces more legal exposure than any other time in these investigations. federal prosecutors in manhattan have directly implicated him in a felony. i mean, there are questions on, you know, whether or not there could be, you know, even more trouble for trump because of that it's difficult to prosecute these campaign finance crimes as we saw in the john edwards case in 2012. i point to the sentencing memo for michael cohen in the mueller probe. you see more evidence of more russian contacts and also in the mo memo it says trump directed michael cohen to reach out to
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the russian government in 2015. you can see more and more things adding up of reaching out between trump and the russians. >> and ken vogel, a couple things for you, first of all, this letter by 44 former members of the u.s. senate, as we say, that gets your attention. so did this. another reaction by frank figliuzzi during our 4:00 p.m. eastern time hour. this was about the president's ability to carry out the tasks of office right now. >> i no longer have any confidence -- i didn't have any to begin with, but now with the filings on friday, that this president can act in the national interests and not in his own self-interests. i don't think he's capable anymore of making unilateral decisions that are truly solely in the national interest when it come s to russia. >> connectiken, for example, tha whole lot of folks who believe that russia is preparing a move on ukraine right now.
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they're loading up missile systems and armor. visible on satellite photos. are we a player on that -- on good footing? >> well, the trump administration isn't. it's sort this anachronistic scenario we have where we talk about the president separate from the administration, but it is true that for the duration of the trump presidency and even during the campaign, we did have questions about whether trump was willing to stand up to russia even before we knew a lot of these allegation s by muelle and the congressional investigators over the last several months, but the administration has, in fact, been tough on russia and has been in ukraine's corner, steadfastly, providing it with lethal arms, you know, issuing additional sanctions against russian oligarchs including some who are very close to vladimir putin, like oleg daraposka,
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really unprecedented sanctions, in fact. so, you know, whether the administration is prepared to deal with this, it appears as if that there are -- continue to be russia hawks in the administration who are setting policy even as trump has this sort of less aggressive rhetorical stance. and, you know, even apologetic rhetorical stance toward russia. on the letter from the 44 former senators, it's notable there that they are talking about this fraught geopolitical moment and the president's ability as frank figliuzzi sort of raised the skepticism of the president's ability to navigate this geopolitical situation where the issues we're talking about where the president faces the most legal exposure, thus far, are not related to russia. they are these campaign finance violations. and so while that is compromising and potentially poses a problem legally as well as in the congress with
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potential impeachment, it is not necessarily raising any more doubts than we already had about the president's ability to stand firm against russia in the face of its aggression toward its neighbors. >> so, barb, we have three court matters this week by my count. we've got manafort, cohen, flynn. what's your pleasure in terms of which one you think may be the most revealing? >> i'm not sure. i think that manafort situation is kind of interesting because in that one he's going to have to actually tell the judge why h he believes he was truthful in his statements. so that might be the one where we get the most substance and find out more information. but the allegations that robert mueller has made about his lack of truthfulness go to some very interesting things including his relationship and his dealings with constantin kalimnik, someone mueller said is affiliated with russian intelligence and talks about the fact that during this cooperation, paul manafort continued to lie about their relationship. remember, constantin kalimnik
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was involved in communications with paul manafort, he talked about how can we use my new position on the campaign to make ourselves whole? let's talk to the russian oligarch, see if he wants a private briefing about the campaign. those are some of the kinds of things that go to the core of this russian influence and interference in the election including the change in the gop platform to be more favorable to russia. and so i'd be very curious to hear his take on why he believes he was truthful. we might find some little tidbits of information that come out of that. >> yeah, the presence of russians at the gop convention in cleveland is an oddity that continues to stand out in our recent history. hey, chris, i know that federal judges have never reached out to you and said, which questions can we answer for you this week in open court, but if you had the chance, what are the questions you have that you would like answers for this week? we have three federal court opportunities. >>and ask me.
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>> i'm sure. >> i'm interested in the mike flynn moem emo from his defense attorneys. one of the open questions from me is why did flynn lie to the fbi, why did he mislead other members of the administration about his communications with the russian ambassador? this is a chance for his lawyers to kind of explain, are they going to say that somebody told mike flynn to lie? are they going to say that he had another reason to do this? you know, how much narrative are they going to put on what we already know about what flynn has done? >> and, mr. vogel, this search for a chief of staff in the west wing, this was not a good look for donald trump over the weekend, and he knew it. general kelly is taking his leave after what four decades of service to the united states, but the new guy said no, literally said he wants to spend more time with his family. what do you think is going on and is this the new person who
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takes this job, is this a potential subpoena magnet? >> absolutely. and we've seen exposure to both of trump's chiefs of staff. nick ayers, the gentleman you mentioned who turned it down who's mike pence's chief of staff currently, very smart dude, has had a meteoric rise through politics. has accumulated a fortune of tens of millions of dollars as a political consultant with some other investments. he knows this is something that will attract intense scrutiny and potential lly hinder his earning potential and his career trajectory in many the future so he bowed out. i think that is evidence that it's going to be tough to get a top-tier political operative who understands washington and understands the way that all these forces from the congress and the potential impeachment, to the mueller investigation, could weigh on both the president, the presidency, and the chief of staff. that's not exactly a super appealing job prospect for a lot
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of folks in washington. >> great thanks to our big three back to work monday night broadcast. barbara mcquade, ken vogel, chris megerian, thank you all very much. and coming up, if putin had nothing to do with donald trump's election, why were more than a dozen trump insiders talking to the russians during and after the presidential campaign? and late e the search for the president's next chief of staff, as we said, gets complicated. "the 11th hour" just getting under way on a monday night.
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welcome back. the "washington post" is out with a new report highlighting
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just how many trump associates had contact with russians during the 2016 campaign and transition. the number is up to at least 14. look at those faces. according to the "post" which reviewed public records and interviews. the list includes three trump family members, two business associates and nine members of the campaign. "again and again and again over the course of donald trump's 18-month campaign for the presidency, russian citizens made contact with his closest family members and friends, as well as figures on the periphery of his orbit. some offered to help his campaign and his real estate business. some offered dirt on his democratic opponent. p repeatedly russian nationals suggested trump should hold a peace-making sit down with vladimir putin and offereded to broker such a summit." this report comes days after robert mueller revealed in a court filing that trump's former attorney michael cohen was in contact with a russian national who could offer the campaign,
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quote, synergy on a government level. with us to talk about all of it, ambassador michael mcfaul, former u.s. ambassador to russia. and julia ioffe, has covered putin for years and these days is a correspondent with "gq." ambassador, over the course of an average american life, maybe you'd hear one or two russian references. most of them having to do with james bond movies. in an average american life. one or two contacts with russians in a campaign is maybe coincidence, what do you make of 14 people? >> well, i'm rather unusual, i've had lots of contacts with russians for a long time after i left montana. not in montana. but there are two things that are very striking about this li list. on both sides. the russian side and the american side. there's lots of americans and lots of russians involved in this, right? number one is just the quantity of the contacts and the number
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of different places. that suggests a lot of probing, to me, on the russian side, but, two, is the quality and the substance of the contacts. what are they talking about? they're not talking about a u.s./russian bilateral relations. they're not talking about u.s. policy in the middle east and russia policy in the middle east. at least to the best of our knowledge so far. those are the kinds of contacts you might see from time to time, you know, during a campaign cycle with foreign policy elites from both moscow and washington. this list is not that. they were talking about other things for hour. >> julia, what strikes you about the 14 who we are showing on the air? >> so, i think what's interesting is that for the most part, we knew about all of these contacts. we've just read about them in, you know, dribs and drabs over the last couple years. when you see them all put together, it does, you know, it makes an impression, and i think what we know from a lot of these
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contacts is there was some freelancing going on on the russian side. there was some government-directed outreach going on. but as one obama administration official told me shortly after leaving the white house, the russians were basically throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what would stick. i think what's brilliant about this piece is we're seeing all the spaghetti on the wall, some which ended up not sticking, but when you see all of it up against the wall, it does, like i said, make an impression. >> so, ambassador, let's say the russians were freelancing and let's say this was not their best effort, but what about the american side, what about rigor and diligence and what's supposed to be kind of muscle memory? you pick up the phone and you call the fbi. are you forever staggered by the shortage of that? >> yes, and i want to pick up the spaghetti metaphor for just a minute to remind our viewers
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that that's what the russians do all the time to gather intelligence. you know, remember when we -- i was in the government when we arrested the illegals back in 2010. there was about a dozen of them, russians, living as americans. and everybody kind of laughed about it. they're like, oh, they didn't do anything, they didn't report. well, that was a giant investment by vladimir putin and the russian government to play and wait to see what might pay off in the future. and when i look at this constellation of actors, that's exactly the game plan i see. on the american side, i see naivety, i see incompetence. even on the trump tower, like, you know, i know a little bit about how business deals are done in moscow from my time working there. if i were advising somebody about how to do a big business deal in moscow, my first instinct would not be to call blindly mr. peskov who works for vladimir putin. his spokesperson. so i see a lot of people kind of experimenting and trying to cash
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in on the notoriety of mr. trump, and remember, almost all of them never expected trump to win. so they were trying to use a moment when they could to advance their own personal interests. at least that's, to me, the theory that is most plausible to try to explain this pretty deep, complex web of contacts. >> yeah, that's an important point that we need to keep repeating. julia, i know you traveled recently to russia. is this the talk of the town? the mueller matter? >> you know, it's actually hard to be up right now. i'm about eight hours ahead. >> oh, boy. so you just came back. >> yes. but it actually -- you know, i agree with mike, i think that on both sides, there is a very good nose for opportunity, and both sides are very short on scruples. so it was sort of a match made in heaven. as for whether moscow is talking about this, they're not. you know, if you see mueller's name floated in the news, in the state news, it is about how
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crazy he is. you see it kind of mirroring the witch hunt narrative you see on fox news or you see recently news items that donald trump might be impeached not because of his contacts with russia, but because of his contacts with, you know, his preferred woman of choice, which seems to be porn stars and playboy models. >> is oh, look at the time, as they say. our thanks to ambassador michael mcfaul, to julia ioffe. thank you both for joining us as you so often do, when the subject is russia. and coming up, a potentially big development in yet another case involving, wait for it, a russian national. this one with flaming red hair and a gun trying to influence american politics. when we continue. (chime)
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visit kp.org to learn more. kaiser permanente. thrive. ♪ and accessoriesphones for your mobile phone. like this device to increase volume on your cell phone. - ( phone ringing ) - get details on this state program visit right now or call during business hours. as we mentioned, "the new york times" is reporting accused russian agent, maria butina, has agreed to plead guilty to conspireing to act as a foreign agent. butina was arrested in july for allegedly conspireing to infiltrate political u.s. organizations, including the nra, in an effort to push moscow's agenda. matthew rosenberg of the "the new york times" reports it this way, "the deal which now must be approved by a judge stipulates
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that ms. butina must cooperate with federal, state and local authorities in exchange for what could be a short prison term or possibly a release after having already spent five months in jail. as a felon, she will most likely be deported after her release, as was made clear in court filings laying out the deal that were obtained by "the new york times." back in july 2015, back before we knew any of what we know today about russian involvement, president trump called on her first when she raised her hand at a political event in las vegas. >> i'm visiting from russia. >> ah. >> so my question -- >> putin. good friend of obama, right? >> if you are elected as president, who will be your foreign politics especially in relationships with my country? and do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that are damaging of both economy, are you have any other ideas?
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>> i believe i would get along very nicely with putin. okay? and, i mean, where we have the strength. i don't think you need the sanctions. >> and earlier today, because he was hot today, former fbi assistant director for counterintelligence, frank figliuzzi, offered this analysis of what butina's cooperation might mean. >> this opens a can of worms that could shed a whole lot of light on russian money flowing to more than just a campaign or the presidential candidate, but rather, perhaps, others in congress, house, senate members, the whole connection to the nra, if she's cooperating on a high level, there's a whole other aspect to this. >> as he said. with us to talk about it, glenn kirchner, a former federal prosecutor who's worked in the past with robert mueller and back with us because it's really important to hear this woman out on this subject is julia ioffe who as we've established is running eight hours ahead of us having just returned from
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moscow. so, julia, i've heard, and listened to you speak about this before. you profiled this woman. for people anxious to compare this to atreaming series, this is not "the americans." this is not an effort to run silent, run deep, and fully assimila assimilate. she was living here as a russian woman representing some right to bear arms organization where that is not a right in russia. i'm tempted to say this is more neaflix than netflix, but please, tell us about the woman you've come to know. >> she -- i met her when she was part of a fringe advocacy group, one of the many groups that grew out of the pro-democracy protests of 2011/2012, a lot of civic opportunity from russia for the first time in years after putin had kind of scorched the field of potential political opponents or even any kind of
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civic activity, and she wanted russians to have the right to bear arms the way americans do, which given the way russians drink is frankly a horrible idea. i thought this would make an interesting profile subject and i even went shooting with her. i was a terrible shot. she was not. i should have known better. turns out my nose for spies is wanting. >> and she just -- she was just worming her way into american society. she found a receptive audience, julia, correct, at the nra? and that got her an introduction to donny junior, to several republican prominent senators and at least one wisconsin governor. >> yeah, i think what's interesting about her, you know, as we discussed in the previous segment, the russians who are doing this either at the explicit direction of the kremlin, or freelancing trying to get the kremlin's attention and trying to get favors from the kremlin by saying, hey, look at me, i'm doing a great job,
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don't you want to hire me or give me some juicy state contract because i'm doing such a great job over here? it's interesting that her lack of scruples lined up perfectly with the lack of scruples on, frankly, one side of the political spectrum. i don't think it's a coincidence that she was able to worm her way into one of the most ostensibly loudly chest-beating american organizations that there is. >> glenn, this is unbelievable. her attorney contends that she's been kept most of the time in solitary, which has a way of working at the mind, but this would be highly unusual. correct me if i'm wrong, spies don't flip. we usually send them home as part of an exchange, correct? >> well, i don't -- i think the jury is still out on whether or not she was a spy. i think even people kind of that i've spoken to in the kind of very hawkish on russia democratic camp feel that she was more akin to a lobbyist, perhaps, than to a spy.
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and that the charges on her might be a little bit more shaky. >> okay. that was noted. so glenn, i'll amend my question. people in this role, do they tend to flip or are they given a one-way ticket on aeroflat or delta? >> ebrian, i was keenly interested to see today's reporting when we learned that butina was going to plead guilty. i have to admit, my first thought was she probably won't be cooperating with the prosecutors who are handling this case. that is that the u.s. attorney's office for the district of columb columbia, though they're undoubtedly working closely with the special counsel's office. then when i saw the reporting that she would be fully cooperating, i thought, boy, that has a couple of important implications. certainly for the investigation, it looks like she was operating a pretty successful influence
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campaign using the nra to, perhaps, make her way to high-level politicians. so the first thing i thought is that, you know, depending on just how wide a net bob mueller or the u.s. attorney's office in d.c. casts, it certainly could be that money passed from russia through the nra into the coffers of politicians. so that could pose a rob fproblr any number of people. the second thing i thought is, you know, i wonder if we're going to see in her plea agreement any indication that the government will be offering her what's called an "s" visa. i will say often that's referred to as a snitch visa. that's not exactly what it means, but it is for witnesses who cooperate with the government in criminal prosecutions, and it allows them to stay in the country for at least a period of time after
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they complete their sentence because you have to believe that if somebody flips against russia, it would not be all that good for their health if they made their way back to russia and ordinarily after serving a sentence like this, someone like maria butina would be deported. so i'll be interested to see the exact details of the plea agreement when it's dropped tomorrow. >> we could easily do the entire hour-long broadcast on this one topic. for a while there, we threatened to. but glenn kirchner, julia ioffe, thank you, both, for taking part in this conversation. absolutely vital to have you both on. coming up, after months of speculation, john kelly leaving the white house. the problem is, so is the young man slated to replace him. a look at the short list of contenders to be the next chief of staff when "the 11th hour" continues.
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using unusual language, cnn tonight is reporting the president is, and we quote, "super pissed" that his candidate for chief of staff went sideways, at least for the minute. trump announced this weekend, john kelly is out. he will leave at the end of the month and the new guy was going to be nick ayers, the 36-year-old chief of staff to mike pence and, perhaps, the only person in the west wing to reminds people of a young mike pence and a young donald trump both at the same time. the press release announcing ayers was written. he was the rumored heavy favorite of jared and ivanka. then ayers turned it down. here's how "the new york times" put it. "one former senior administration official called it a humiliation for mr. trump and his adult children, an emotion the president tries to avoid at all costs." nancy cook of politico standing by to talk to us had this to
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report. "with ayers out of the picture, trump now faces the challenging task of finding a chief of staff who is both capable of doing the job and, perhaps, more important, willing to step into the west wing's hornet's nest." one person being considered for the job, republican congressman mark meadows is pushing back against this idea that no one wants the job. >> he's got a number of people who'd gladly serve in, you know, in his administration, and so any narrative that would suggest otherwise is just not accurate. >> with us to talk about it tonight, the aforementioned nancy cook. white house reporter for politico. so, nancy, is the president looking for a quality hang or a sycophant, a best friend, or a superb manager of paper flow and personnel? >> i would say all of the first qualifications that you mentioned and less of a manager.
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you know, the president really wants someone who will let him do what he wants to do, call whomever he wants, sort of not have a ton of process in the white house, and that's really how the president likes to run things. he likes to run things where he is a spoke and everyone else is sort of part of a wheel that's coming into that hub. and that's how he likes to structure power in the white house. so he doesn't want someone, you know, despite what he may say publicly who's going to come in and try to monitor his phone calls, monitor his access to people. that's just not what has succeeded in this white house so far. >> i hope you are prepared to break a huge development on this broadcast tonight when i ask you the big question in washington for the past 24 hours. a 36-year-old guy actually unironically uses the phrase, "i want to spend more time with my family." what happened with nick ayers? what's the real story? >> well, it's fascinating because my reporting shows that trump actually offered nick
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ayers the job of chief of staff on election night and so that was almost a month ago, and they informally talked about it at a party in the white house residence. melania trump, the first lady, was standing there. it seemed like a done deal and, you know, basically they were just waiting for a way to have general john kelly leave in a graceful manner. that's what a lot of white house advisers were really cautioning the president not to fire by tweet a four-star general. what happened in the interim is that trump and nick ayers had a number of conversations including one this weekend about what the terms of the job would look like. ayers told the president and kelly and pence that he really wanted carte blanche to fire people. he really wanted to be able to hundr run the west wing exactly how he saw fit but only wanted to do it for a fixed amount of time. the president wasn't willing to agree with that. the president wanted someone who could stay through 2020 and really help with his re-election campaign and it's remarkable that a 36-year-old political
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operative would be given this opportunity and still not want it. i think that says a lot about sort of the mood in the white house right now. >> and, nancy, i'm sure some people just look at this job and consider it, as we said earlier, a subpoena magnet. >> it absolutely is. you know, reince priebus has had to hire a lawyer and has been interviewed by the mueller investigation. general john kelly has sat down with them. so many white house aides have had to hire lawyers, you know, on government salaries. they don't make that much money. they've had to hire these high-priced lawyers because they're sort of swept up in this. and that's going to continue to be even more so a possibility as the west wing empties out and as you're trying to sort of control the president, urge him not to talk about the special investigation whenever he wants. this is a really hard job in any circumstance, but just facing the mueller investigation, democrats taking over the house, and the re-election, it just seems like an insurmountable task to a lot of people and contrary to what representative
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meadows says, there really aren't a lot of people who want to take the job at this point. >> nancy cook, we've learned from your reporting yet again. thank you so much for sharing what you know on our broadcast. nancy cook from politico. coming up, former fbi director james comey's most outspoken comments yet on the coming 2020 election. we'll have those when we come back. will it feel like the wheend of a journey?p working, or the beginning of something even better? when you prepare for retirement with pacific life, you can create a lifelong income... so you have the freedom to keep doing whatever is most meaningful to you. a reliable income that lets you retire, without retiring from life. that's the power of pacific. ask your financial professional about pacific life today. - [narrator] meet shark's newest robot vacuum.
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i can't see what the end of the mueller effort looks like. i don't know what form it will take. i don't know what they'll conclude. so, i can't say in that respect, i can tell you that all of us should use every breath we have to make sure that the lying stops on january 20th, 2021. >> that was last night at one of the great venues for
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conversation in new york, the 92nd street "y" in manhattan. nico nicole wallace sat down for a lengthy conversation with james comey. he spoke candidly about the russia matter, and the mueller investigation, among other things. and he raised a lot of red flags about his former boss, the current occupant of the white house. >> i hope donald trump is not removed from office by impeachment. it would let the country off the hook, and it would drive a third of the people of our nation into believing there was a coup. and if we, in a way, short-circuited that with an important, legitimate process with the constitution, i worry
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we would be letting ourselves off the hook, and we wouldn't have the moment of clarity we need in this country. that said, if the facts are there, and the two houses of congress think it's appropriate, that's fine. >> james comey in new york, just last night. coming up for us after another break, trouble on the thames, where today, things got rough. when we come back.
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last thing before we go tonight, is everything you need to know about brexit. as of tonight, it appears dead in the water, along with perhaps the political career of the prime minister, teresa may. the voters indeed spoke. it's the talks in the years since about how to break away from the eu that have broken the brexit process. and indeed, the voters may vote again. teresa may announced today the vote scheduled for tomorrow is off because she admitted her side would have lost badly. she's now off to brussels for more meetings with the eu. they've said they have no interest in rearguing the deal. this remains such a big deal for great britain, especially at a dicey time for other urinatioeu
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nations. today, a liberal member of the house of commons did this, he took matters into his own hands by attempting to remove the mace from the chamber. the mace is basically a gold crown on a five-foot gold stick. but, tip of the hat to "love actually," it's so much more than that. it represents the authority of the queen and without that, they can't meet and pass laws. cooler heads prevailed, the mace was put back, and the member was suspe suspended. and bbc never saw that, because they were broadcasting protests. that's our broadcast on a monday night. thank you so very much for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters in new york.
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thanks for joining us this hour. happy to have you with us. so, things are happening kind of fast right now. tonight, as you may have heard, we have a new plea deal, what appears to be a new guilty plea and what is reported to be a new cooperation agreement to go along with that guilty plea. now, in this case, the plea deal itself is not totally unexpected. we had seen this coming for maybe the last couple of days, but the reported cooperation deal tonight, that is a for real surprise. i don't know exactly what you're supposed to expect from somebody who's charged with being a secret foreign agent, operating inside this country on behalf of russia, but i know that you don't expect them to agree to cooperate with u.s. prosecutors in this country. for one thing, what's goin

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