tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC December 14, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PST
this presidency. the mueller team took the step of correcting the story being told about michael flynn as if the three starr general and former national security adviser was somehow duped into lying to the fbi. former national security adviser was somehow duped into lying to the fbi. donald trump's former personal attorney michael cohen lets it fly in a tv interview, trashing his former boss saying trump ordered him to break the law and trump was well aware of what he was doing. and tonight, nick mull veiny is your new acting white house chief of staff with one former white house official telling bloomberg nothing shows how hard it is to get people in this administration than this, and we're only getting started on a friday night. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york on a friday night. day 694 of the trump administration, and again tonight we're following important very manies on
multiple fronts. we learned omb director mick mulvaney is taking over as chief of staff. the president's former perm lawyer michael cohen is speak speaking out on national television saying donald trump knew the hush money payments made just before the 2016 election were wrong. also today, robert mueller's team rejected former national security adviser michael flynn's suggestion that he should have been warned about the consequences of lying to the feds, lying to the fbi. in response to flynn's sentencing memo filed tuesday, prosecutors said there was nothing about the way the interview was conducted in early 2017 that will caused flynn to lie about his meetings with the russian ambassador. in this court filing, they say flynn's decision to make false statements was voluntary and intentional. mueller's team goes on to say, quote, a sitting national security adviser former head of an intelligence agency, retired lieutenant general, and 33-year
veteran of the armed forces knows he should not lie to federal agents. he does not need to be warned it is a crime to lie to federal agents to know the importance of telling them the truth. the defendant undoubtedly was aware in light of his many years working with the fbi that lying to the fbi carries serious consequences. well, nonetheless, those same prosecutors also stood by their recommendation that flynn's sentence be at the low end of the guidelines range because of how much he has agreed to cooperate. flynn entered a guilty plea back in december, 2017. the charge was lying to the fbi about his conversations with the russian ambassador, this guy, sergey kislyak in the weeks before trump took office. >> his interview took place january 24 of 2017. then on the 26th of january, the act attorney general, sally yates tells the white house about flynn lying and being
vulnerable to blackmail. february 9th, "the washington post" breaks the news that flynn had talked to kislyak about sanctions. february 13th, flynn resigns. today's filing from mueller came hours after michael cohen's abc news interview aired where he pushed back hard against his former boss. >> he's saying very clearly that he never directed you to do anything wrong. is that true? >> i don't think there's anybody that believes that. nothing at the trump organization was ever done unless it was run through mr. trump. he directed me, as i said in my allocution and i said, as well in the plea, he directed me to make the payments. he directed me to become involved if these matters. >> he was trying to hide what you were doing, correct? >> correct. >> and he knew it was wrong? >> of course. >> and he was doing that to help his election? >> you have to remember at what point in time that this matter
came about, two weeks or so before the election, post the billy bush comments. so yes, he was very concerned about how this would affect the election. >> to help his campaign? >> to help him and the campaign. >> in a string of tweets on a fox news interview on thursday, trump repeatedly insisted he broke no campaign finance laws, calling it a civil matter, not criminal. of course that's not true. in a "washington post" op-ed today, our guest last night, the former acting solicitor general neal katyal along with former fec commission chairman trevor potter and lawyer george conway, husband of kellyanne all say trump's denials are weak and dangerous in their words. they write, quote, trump has offered up three defenses, first was to repeatedly lie for quite some time he flatly denied knowledge of those $130,000 payment to stormy daniels, but now he seems to be acknowledging that he knew.
now trump and his acolytes have pointed to an earlier case involving former senator john edwardsed to arguing that what trump did wasn't a crime and they say even if it was a crime, it wasn't a biggie. there are lots of crimes, so what, who cares? the former is a weak legal argument, and the latter a dangerous one. with that, let's bring in our front four, or lead-off panel for a busy friday night. donna edwards representing the great state of maryland. brian bennett, senior white house correspondent for "time" magazine. harry litman, former deputy assistant attorney general under president clinton and nelson cunningham, alumni of the clinton administration where he served as general counsel at the white house office of administration. good evening, and welcome to you all. harry, i'm just a layperson here, but i was surprised by the mueller filing today. it's as if they wanted to course
correct some bad reporting that was being told kind of sympathetically toward flynn that this poor man had been duped and set up to lie to the fbi. >> yeah. it was a very odd kind of episode. flynn, who's been an exemplary cooperator all the way through and had owned up to his crimes all of a sudden had this last minute hiccup and a suggestion which was seconded by many on the right that it hadn't been a crime at all and he should have had warnings. it's really a weak argument as mueller lays out. it would have been neither required nor customary to give warnings to a guy like this, and of course, as mueller says, you know you're not supposed to lie to the fbi. many people when i was in the department of justice had occasion to have some interviews with the fbi. they don't start it out with this sort of starchy miranda warnings. they talk and you know you have to tell the truth. here the problem for flynn was
he was already committed probably to a false story and he felt he couldn't go back. but the notion that he was entrapped in some way doesn't fly at all. >> hey, nelson, when you were here in new york running around and arresting people, your former boss was one rudy giuliani. i'm going to read you what he wrote today on twitter. the fbi 302s, basically transcripts of interviews with general flynn show comey and strzok were not searching for the truth but setting a perjury trap for flynn. it included misleading him about not getting a lawyer, not refreshing hisrection and filing a false statement charge when the fbi thought it wasn't. again, nelson, i would never ask you to take a swing at your former boss, but what is he talking about there? >> it's really hard to see. remember, flynn did not lie about this for the first time in his statement to the fbi. they were there because he had stated two weeks before in public that he had not spoken to
kislyak about the sanctions. they knew that, in fact, he had. so they went to go ask him, are you sure you didn't talk about sanctions with kislyak? because they knew that he had. and he reaped the lie that he had voluntarily made two weeks before. they gave him every chance to walk away from his earlier statement, and did he exactly the opposite. he doubled down. i don't see how that counts as a perjury trap under any definition of the term. >> so donna edwards, again this mueller filing today was as if they heard this fiction developing and wanted to correct it. of course, that means there's an audience of one and it's a federal judge. i want to show you two things. number one is a freeze frame from fox coverage this week and look at their banner headline. fbi didn't explain that lying would put flynn in legal jeopardy. that's not in jest. that was put on the screen seriously.
retired general mark hurtling was on twitter today saying this. as a former lieutenant general, i can attest that one learns not to lie to the fbi much earlier in one's career and at a much lower rank. so congresswoman, you get my drift. do you think this was all for this federal judge, and is this federal judge, was he ever going to have a any of this argument that he was somehow set up? >> i think it actually could undermine his case for, you know, real leniency in the case. look, anybody who watches television, you don't have to be lieutenant general, you don't have to have been in the intelligence field. you know you're not supposed to lie to the fbi. and so it's such a ridiculous statement, especially given that he had cooperated thus far, he pled guilty in the same court. and it just strains credibility. i'm amazed at a white house where you've got a president
who's been documented to have lied more than 6,000 times calling somebody else a liar and saying that that undermines the case. i mean, the fact is there are a lot of liars in this because this was about criminality. >> to our late night viewers, there's a "law and order" rerun on the air at this second everywhere in the world and all night long. pick one, she's right. you'll pick up on the fact that lying to the feds is a bad idea. brian, you profiled mueller for the time person of the year edition. tell us the color you picked up in looking at this inscrutable pan whose forte may not be home entertaining i understand. >> we talked to a lot of people who had worked with mueller over the years. we learned a lot about what he was like as a person. he's not particularly a warm person 0 work for. he holds the people under him to an incredibly high bar and will
eviscerate an underling who's unprepared to brief him. even when he goes out of his way to host a holiday party at his townhouse in washington, d.c., around 9:00 or 9:30 when the party -- when he wants the party to come to an end, he'll flick the lights on and off and tell everyone to go home. >> haven't tried that myself, but i just picked up a new tip. chuck rosenberg says mueller says to people in the office without irony what have you done for your country today, and i'm sure that gets your attention if you are one of the white-shirted colleagues of robert mueller. harry, i want to play something. this is donald trump on fox news 2012 talking about the john edwards case, and i need you to talk about it on the other side. >> i never liked him. i never trusted him. i always thought he was a sleaze bag, frankly. but you know what? with all that's going on in this country, they're going out -- and this is a very tough trial to start off with. and a lot of people are saying it's not a trial the government
is going to win. but with all of that, with everything going on with the money that is just being just billions and trillions of dollars being thrown out the window, i really think we have better things to do. a lot of very good lawyers have told me the government doesn't >> have a good case. >> so harry, remind our viewers what he's talking about there and how that may reflect on the current troubles the president is facing. >> right. he wants now to portray himself as john edwards who in 2012 was accused of a similar hush money scheme paying off a mistress, but the timing and circumstances were very different. it actually -- the government didn't lose it, but it was a mistrial and there was egg on the government's face. and generally speaking people believed edwards had a pretty good defense, that it wasn't about trying to hide anything from the american public. it was about to try to cushion
the blow to his wife of the affair he had undertaken. very different with trump, who first finds out about the allegations in 2011 and it's not until two weeks before the election that he pays the hush money and to the accounts of both giuliani and cohen and common sense, there's a direct link between the payments and trying to keep the truth from coming out in order to affect the election. so they will try to invoke the edwards case to show it's not a crime but it's only -- the factual differences are pronounced, and they cut very strongly against the president's efforts here. >> nelson, i have to ask you, i guess this takes into account your opinion as a tv viewer and as a lawyer. how did you think cohen came off in this interview? >> you listen to him and he sounds credible. he looked right at the
questioner, he was direct. i thought he sounded clear, he made sense to me. and then i thought to myself this is a guy who at the same time pleaded guilty to sheltering $4 million of income through a complex scheme of hiding taxi medallions. and false statements to a variety of institutions. this is a guy who at the same time pleaded guilty to filing multiple false statements with banks so that he could get million dollar loans. this is a guy who just lied over and over and over again. of course, what you do in a trial is you listen, you make sure the jury not only sees the person in front of them and hears his testimony, but you go into the background and go into his character, and that's when you tell the true story of whether this person can be trusted on the key facts of the case. >> fair points, all. donna edwards, i'm coming to you next. all of our guests have agreed to stick around. we have to fit in a break. and coming up, how this
and this is moving day with reliable service appointments in a two-hour window so you're up and running in no time. show me decorating shows. this is staying connected with xfinity to make moving... simple. easy. awesome. stay connected while you move with the best wifi experience and two-hour appointment windows. click, call or visit a store today. you pleaded guilty to lying to congress. >> yes. >> so why should we we believe you now? >> because the special counsel stated emphatically that the information that i gave to them
was credible and helpful. there's a substantial amount of information that they possess that corroborates the fact that i am telling the truth. >> so you're done with the lying? >> i'm done with the lying. >> that got everybody's attention there today, the substantial information that corroborates what he's saying. more of michael cohen's interview with george over at abc news. cohen said he's angry at himself because he knew what he was doing was wrong. he was also asked about the ongoing investigation. >> are you still cooperating? >> the if they want me, i'm here. i'm willing to answer whatever additional questions they may have for me. >> so you're saying there are certain areas that you can't get into because you're still cooperating with them? >> correct and out of respect for process. >> in response to all that, a white house spokesperson said the media is giving credence to someone who is a self-admitted liar. still with us, donna edwards,
brian bennett, nelson cunningham. so congresswoman, i promised to start with you. first of all, do you think cohen is capable of migrating in the public mind to become a credible and sympathetic character? we certainly have seen a migration of the president's answers on this top kick from i didn't know about the payments to i learned about it later to where we are now. >> if anybody has lied, frankly, all along, it's really been the president. so much so that he's had to abandon one defense after the next defense. i think with respect to michael cohen, we don't have to like him, we don't have to make him sympathetic. but i do believe him, and what makes me believe him is the fact that there is corroborating evidence. we already know that there are tapes out there. we've heard a little bit of that. but there's other documentation. the fbi sees an awful lot of stuff from him and his office. and so i don't think that
mueller is just relying on what michael cohen says, but he's got all the backup material to make sure that cohen is telling the truth. i think the president is increasingly in a box and it's a smaller and smaller box. bob mueller is going to get to the truth. >> harry, as a matter of law, and we're dealing with kind of a known/unknown here. we know he's got stuff and he's handed over recordings. how helpful can he continue to be to the feds? i imagine first cold night in a federal slammer, the thought's going to occur to him i should go back again over everything i know. >> yeah. look, i seems to me really to have a dual motivation. you get the sense of him as truly kind of overwrought and baring his soul to tell all and really trying to repent. that's one.
but of course there are selfish concerns there. there is another mechanism for him to reduce his sentence yet further by more cooperation. how much does he have? i think he's had the biggest treasure-trove of any witness to date. remember, the whole search warrant in march that dredged up not just documents but tapes and then all his testimony, and the things he's testified about on the campaign finance front also have corroboration. this notion by trump, oh, he lied so you can't trust him, that's the standard play in any case of this sort, the question is, is he now incentivized to tell the truth and by the way, to the congresswoman's point, what's on the other side, because you do have a he said,
he said a pretty strong advantage given the president's continual changes of versions and implausibility on his own end. >> nelson, we decided you're bearing the appearance of robert mueller closest. you're bob mueller. you look up at "good morning america." you see this guy sitting with george stephanopoulos. how do you take the fact that he might have fallen short cooperating with team usa and he's out telling his story publicly, perhaps going further than he did behind closed doors, we don't know. >> you're never happy when your witness is out there making statements in the public. you're never happy when they're doing it in a setting where you're not in control, where you can't control the presentation, where you can't go over carefully the lines of questioning and attack. every time that cohen opens his mouth from now on, he is creating possible inconsistencies in any story,
anytime human beings retell stories, there can be things that differ from time to time. a prosecutor always wants to be able to limit the occasions on which one of his critical witnesses is putting information out on the record. cohen has shown he's not very controllable in that way. >> brian, you get to be our closer. i have a dual question for you. first of all, is it us or did this week pick up speed and become one of the more consequential weeks of this presidency? the second part of my question has to do with color. tell us about the moment flynn and trump and the fbi guys pass in the hallway of the west wing. >> this we did pick up speed. we know about what mueller knows, particularly it's interesting with cohen. we know more about corroborating evidence from ami, the owner of the national enquirer that mueller believes corroborates cohen's claims about how the payments came about and that it
was to influence the election. and then another thing that came out of the mueller firings this week which was so fascinating was the detail. this has been the case in a lot of his filings. he's given almost novelistic detail to the way he paints these scenes. we learned that that day when federal agents, when the fbi agents came to the white house to interview flynn, it was just the fifth day trump had been in office, and flynn seemed relaxed and cordial, gave them a tour of that area around the west wing around the national security council adviser's office. they happened to pass donald trump in the hallway giving directions to some movers on where to hang some paintings. it was an incredible moment. incredible detail. flynn didn't introduce the fbi agents to donald trump. they apparently just stood there
awkwardly. the president didn't ask for an introduction. and then they went in and continued their conversation. but just to get a window into moving in day was really fascinating. >> you can't make this stuff up. our thanks to our front four tonight. donna, brian, nelson, greatly appreciate your help telling this story on a friday night. coming up, budget director nick mulvaney replacing chief of staff john kelly. how does he really feel about the boss? well, a piece of video on that topic has been unearthed. we'll play it for you after the break.
you got a best friend? >> yes, sir. >> is he smarter than you? >> yes, sir. >> would you trust him with your life? >> yes, sir. >> that's your chief of staff. >> remember when people were romantic about politics from that scene in the bartlett west wing we transition now however ungracefully to the trump west wing. the president wants everyone to know that while many people wanted the job and some big names were turned away, he ended up going across the white house driveway to the office of management and budget to find his new chief of staff. the president made the big announcement on twitter. nick mull veiny is his new
acting chief of staff. it's believed the acting part of his title is an option he wanted for when it comes time perhaps to exit the west wing. mu veinny is a former congressman everyone south carolina, grew up in the d.c. area, went 0 georgetown. this is his third administration role in less than two years. bloomberg's jennifer jacobs says she heard from one former trump administration official who told her, quote, nothing shows how hard it is to get people in this administration than this. just yesterday the president said the search to replace john kelly was down to five mostly well-known people. chris christie took himself out of the running earlier today. according to one source the president was desperate to kill story line that nobody wanted the job to be his chief of staff, so he settled on mulvaney. not long ago trump jumped to defend his pick, writing quote, for the record, this is tonight, there were many people who wanted to be the chief of staff. nick m. will do a great job.
with with us on the, catherine lucy and jonathan allen, veteran political journalist and our nbc news national political reporter. gang, welcome to you both. catherine, i can't wait. i have to show you this. this is a clip. what was the date on this? did
we decide? november 2nd, 2016. this is your new acting white house chief of staff talking about donald trump. >> yes, i'm supporting donald trump. i'm doing so as enthusiastically as i can. in fact, i think he's a terrible human being, but the choice on the other side is just as bad. >> so catherine, how many people wanted this job that is now in the hands of a guy who called the boss a terrible human being? >> i think the thing that's been notable with this process all along is how many people have been trying to distance themselves from the job rather than run toward what is typically a big, highly sought after washington gig. we had a lot of people back channelling that they weren't interested and some people publicly withdrawing their
names. most notably today the day started looking like former new jersey governor chris christie was a leading contender. he declared on twitter that it was not the right time for him to take the job. we know that nick mull veiny was in the white house that afternoon for a meeting on spending legislation, on the wall and the budget. that then led to this appointment. he had been someone the president had been looking at. we understand the president does like him, does like his legislative experience, that he has relationships on the hill. but certainly an element of this was an effort to get someone into the role and sort of end this speculation about who actually wants the job. >> john, the chris christie thing never made sense to some people because of that annoying fact that chris christie put jared's dad in federal prison so
let's set that aside. is it true that mulvaney's going to try not to ryan from omb? can you do both jobs at once? >> you can't really do both jobs at once, but yes, he can be acting chief of staff at the white house and remain the omb director in title. this is an indication of just how bad the white house chief of staff job is that nick mull veiny is keeping his original title basically a senate-confirmed job so he has something to go back to if this doesn't work out. you know, if he left the omb job, he would have to be reconfirmed by the senate to go back to omb, or the white house would have to get somebody else nominated and try to go through that process to replace him at omb at a time when you have a trillion plus dollar deficits in the middle of a bunch of budget wars. this is a really embarrassing episode for the white house.
normally a white house chief of staff would be exiting and there would be somebody pretty much lined up. normally you would not have a public rejection of the president by three candidates in a row. we had obviously chris christie today. you had nick ayers earlier. and mark meadows also took himself out of the running. so as catherine pointed out, the president wanted to end this spectacle as quickly as possible. she also pointed out mick mulvaney having relationships on the hill is one of the reasons he's attracted to the president. what the president may not know is that mick mull veiny's relationships on the hill are bad, by and large. he does not have relationships with democrats on the hill. most of the moderate mainstream republicans on hill do not like him. and he was basically relegated to a ideological fringe in the house of the so-called freedom caucus members, most of whom haven't listened to him when he has implored them to vote for budget bills as the omb director
often asked them to vote for things he wouldn't have voted for when he was in congress. it's not clear he's going to arrive on capitol hill and suddenly start delivering votes for the president's agenda. >> catherine, he's got that going for him, as they say. i have seen it speculated that the old saw that donald trump is his own chief of staff. if you agree with that, then you have to view this as a shiny object of distraction on a friday at the end of a terrible week for this west wing. >> i think there is always an element of that, and that maybe is part of the reason there has been a difficulty in attracting people to the job is that at the end of the day, the president really does set the terms. he's making the decisions and he's only going to take so much advice. so the model where a chief of staff has a tremendous amount of power to influence decision making or guide it is not going to be the case here. he's going to set the tone. >> john, in 30 seconds or less, how consequential was this week in your time watching this
administration? >> it's amazing how they get increasingly consequential, brian, but this was a pretty consequential week for the white house in terms of what's going on with the various investigations, the sdny, and the mueller investigation and, of course, this public spectacle of the chief of staff situation. tough to find a week that's been much worse for the white house. >> two of our returning veterans, catherine lucy and john allen. thank you both so much for coming on. coming up for us after yet another eventful week, what more we've learned about russia's hopes to interfere in american democracy, nothing less when "the 11th hour" continues.
members to high-ranking campaign officials. there they all are, and future high-level administration staff. here with us tonight to talk about all of it, malcolm nance, a veteran of naval ] special ops, homeland security, 35 years working in counter-terrorism who wrote the book on this topic. it is called "the plot to destroy democracy, how putin and his spies where disabling the west." also we're happy to welcome jack barski back to the broadcast, a former kgb spy. he cooperated with the fbi. he is now an american citizen. he quote the book "deep undercover,". jack of the three of us you're the only former kgb spy in this conversation. does a number like 14, does that leave coincidence behind and become actual coordination in
your mind? who thought we were such an easy mark? >> it's clearly a pattern, but, you know, you can't go to the next step and say they had to have coordination. the trump organization was a very inviting target because of the types of individuals you found in there. as we know now, there's a lot of shady characters that are part of it. donald trump himself has been skirting around the edges of the law throughout his entire career. there's a phenomenal hubris, arrogance and ignorance in this organization, so they made it for a really, really inviting target. clearly the same effort was not visible around clinton because i think the clinton organization was a whole lot more professional about how they
behaved themselves. so it was real easy and inviting. >> so malcop, back then it was the trump campaign. now it's the leadership structure in the country you wore the uniform of and fought for overseas. how do you view those 14 individuals? >> well, i take a holistic view of this. first off, they are 14 individual contacts in various times, various locations, with various people. but there's one consistency with all 14 of these people, and jack has a really good point about how they were an inviting target because based on their characteristics which one of jack's old friends uri would say, these are people ho are narcissistic, self-centered and greedy and that's what made them targets. and that consistent point is
every one of them lied to cover up their tracks related to their contacts with russia. that may not necessarily mean that they have a coordinated campaign, although i believe they do. i think that whatever the ultimate goal out there was, which is always money, it superseded their belief and loyalty to this country to the point that at some point when they were officially asked about their contacts with russia, their prospects of gaining something from russia certainly allowed them to feel that they should lie about it as opposed to come clean and tell the truth. >> fascinating stuff, troubling stuff, but fascinating. both gentlemen are going to stay with us as we fit in a break. when we come back, we're going to talk about this red-haired handgun enthusiast who has been running around this country making friends with republicans.
take care of the hands that take care of you. that's me in back in 1987, when i gave isotoner gloves to all my teammates. now i have a different set of teammates. my family. and they all want isotoner gloves for christmas because they keep getting better. there's smartouch. for selfies whenever, wherever. then there's four way stretch for flexibility. they even have smartdri.
federal prosecutors started their day today with the cooperation of someone new, a russian operative at their disposal. maria butina plead the guilty add midding she sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with americans having power and influence over u.s. politics for the benefit of the russian federation. we should note, she was successful at that. vladimir putin distanced himself from her this week, said he asked around, nobody knew her. but today foreign minister sergey lavrov told russian media, quote, we will do everything to provide the rights of our citizen and enable her return home as soon as possible. still with us, malcolm nance and jack barski. jack, as a former kgb spy, i
have to ask you, julia yaffe corrected me on this. i called her a spy. she said she's mot a spy. she's an agent. how do you define her? >> i agree with julia. she's not a spy. let me tell you something. a spy does not cooperate. this is the one thing -- this is a hard and fast rule of training when you go into espionage, particularly coming out of the the soviet union or russia. i was instructed that way. others that i know and trust were instructed that way. when you are caught, you provide nothing because we will get you out. and the russians and the soviets had a phenomenal track record of doing that. this lady cooperates. i believe she'll have a hard time even when she gets back to russia because she eventually gets kicked out of the country. i think she overreached.
she's a volunteer. she's an amateur. she had no operational training in espionage whatsoever. she communicated via social media, not a spy, an agent, possibly with loose connections to espionage svr or fsb. but not a trained spy. >> jack, look at it this way look at the return on investment. she's just an entry level bargain basement agent, comes over here, climbs the ladder to the senior rank of the republican party, has the nra convinced that the right to bear arms is actually a thing where she's from in russia. she was cavorting with the top leadership of the party and the campaign apparently. >> she was phenomenally successful.
i was one of the best agents. i didn't get anywhere near these high level people. she did a great job but, you know, unfortunately she didn't have the training and the wherewithal to see this through and not get caught. >> malcolm nance, i've got to read you this and this is fantastic. this is from government papers. in a series in november 8 and 9, 2016 twitter direct messages. gun she's using twitter to talk to the home office. the russian official and butina discussed the presidential results as they were announced. as part of that the same twitter conversation, butina told the russian official, i'm going to sleep. it's 3:00 a.m. here and i am ready for further orders. in other words, malcolm, we were still in this city in new york city and she's in touch saying when i wake up, you know, if there's a briefcase with cash on the couch i'll know we have a deal. >> yeah, and that's fascinating. it also goes to the role. as jack was saying, i want to
clarify what i think the title of maria butina should be. since the fall of the soviet union there's a new category of intelligence collector and they've existed for a long time in the west but i don't think so in the soviet union. this is a government run intelligence contractor. she's sort of the same thing the way the internet research agency was a sub organization contractor to the gru for information warfare. she i believe was a subcontractor intelligence collector who may have been handled by one or two different levels away from an actual svr or fsb officer. but she was tasked by someone to come out and do this within a circle of operations that appear to surround the entirety of the trump team. she's just one mission between her and alexander torshin to influence the nra, the -- to influence the republican party and to get to donald
trump. like you said, real trained officers, case officers of the svr would not have been able to get it donald trump and ask him a question. but civilian subcontractors can because they are not actually assets that could be quickly and easily identified as members of russian intelligence. and that's where i think it's successful. >> jack, i have less than a minute. if she'd been the pro that you were, if she'd been a full immersion pro spy, can you imagine what she could have accomplished in this country? >> oh, yeah. very, very dangerous. i just want to say i agree wholeheartedly with the assessment that there's a whole lot more sort of contributors, unofficial folks that are not employees of espionage agencies that russia sends out these days. this did not happen in my time. >> malcolm nance, jack barsky, let's have this conversation again.
something tells me we'll have no shortage of subject matter. thank you, gentlemen. this was absolutely fascinating on a friday night. now we move to this, the aircraft spotted in the skies and on the ground to our south that got the attention of the federal government. we'll explain when we come back. today is the day you're going to get motivated...
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the last thing before we go here tonight, and let's be direct, one of the fears people have about anyone in senior management in this country who might have been compromised by russia about this whole way we apparently view russia now is this question. what does the u.s. do if russia decides to make a move somewhere, anywhere on this planet? we've already seen a lot of imagery just lately. satellite photos showing rows of armor and active cargo flights near crimea suggesting a major move is coming against ukraine. but as they say on tv, what if we told you the russians were active in the air a lot closer to the u.s.? how about as close at the caribbean? websites that track military aviation around the world positively lit up this week when
a couple of russian tu 160 long-range aircraft, we're talking about strategic supersonic nuclear capable bombers arrived in venezuela. the large aircraft are known as white swans to their russian pilots. nato called them blackjack bombers. venezuela as you may know is flat lining a rolling human rights disaster. its economy and social services are in free fall. while likely unarmed the russian bombers flew around on missions over the caribbean. they were supported by other aircraft during their stay at an airfield outside of caracas. they are now said to be on route back home. russia and venezuela have had a military relationship for years. the u.s. doesn't really fear the establishment of a russian air base in venezuela. but the u.s. did push back hard against this show of russian
military reach across the planet. it's believed this may all be pay back for a recent u.s. military air mission over ukraine. and with that, that is our broadcast for this friday night have a good weekend. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york. tonight on "all in." >> nothing that the trump organization was ever done that was not run through mr. trump. >> walls are closing in. at least three federal criminal inquiries enveloping trump's business, his inaugural committee, and his campaign. >> i was doing a lot of different things when i was running. >> tonight, michael cohen on the president's lies. >> the man doesn't tell the