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tv   The Beat With Ari Melber  MSNBC  January 14, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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that is all for tonight. we will be back tomorrow with more "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." "the beat with ari melber" starts right now. hi, ari. >> hi, katie. nice to see you, as always. >> i was told that we weren't allowed to do this today. >> we have a very heavy show. so i was being nice to you, but i don't have time for the full banter. >> no awkward handoff. ari melber, take it away. you have a great show. everyone stick around and watch. >> thank you, katy tur, as always. and good being on your show earlier today. >> it was great to have you. >> let me tell you why i don't have time with katy. it is a simple reason. tonight's top story is as clear and stark as it is disturbing. the fbi is formally probing whether donald trump is a russian asset, and there are new reports about trump tampering with potential evidence and witnesses in that very probe. any news outlet reporting those kind of bombshells is putting its neck on the line. so it's notable that these reports are coming from the two most respected newspapers in
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america, "the new york times" and "the washington post." this is not normal news, and this is not a normal night. so we have researched, reported, and booked a special show for you tonight. we're going to be joined in a few minutes by one of the most powerful new house committee chairs to learn what that coequal branch is doing about all these developments on this important night. later in the hour, president obama's former supreme court lawyer who wrote the rules governing the mueller probe joins me on this and the hearings in the senate tomorrow, which could actually determine the entire future of the mueller report. first, here are a few of the tracks shaking the trump white house right now. in those hectic days after president trump fired james comey, investigators were so concerned they began investigating whether he was working for russia that is different from the known probe into obstruction because of its criminal aspect. a confirmation that the fbi essentially viewed donald trump's behavior as suspicious from a counterintelligence point
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of view. all of that in "the new york times" report, and they also note that the agents there were as aghast over donald trump's now infamous admissions to lester holt about the probe as many of his critics were. so that's the core of "the times" story, which was so damning that donald trump had to respond to it both yesterday and again today, which i'm going to show you. but first, just consider tonight, let's do this together. let's consider how far we've come, and not in a good way. it was july 2017 when many people thought that it seemed potentially exaggerated or partisan for hillary clinton's former running mate, senator tim kaine to say that trump's campaign actions potentially raised a treason investigation level set of questions. and last year, people also were skeptical when former cia director john brennan was talking about trump's treasonous actions taken in the pocket of putin. now both of those treason quotes
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are from trump critics. so you can factor that in. and then consider again as we look at how far we've come tonight when that same line was actually crossed by a respected news outlet, not a critic, but a news outlet. on july 18th, 2018, you're looking at the front page of the "new york times" raising the issue of trump treason. right there on the debate on the front page. that had never happened before, a line crossed. but trump's most fervent supporters still argue, well, that's just more trump criticism from the press, and they would argue the u.s. is not yet at a place where asking if trump works for russia is a reasonable inquiry. and they'd say that's why you only hear the question from critics or from parts of the press, but certainly not from republicans on the record or fox news. until now. that line has now also been crossed. these reports so significant, so detailed, so unassailbly
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unignorable, they can't even be ignored on fox news. and given the chance to deny it, there you had the president not denying it. >> are you now or have you ever worked for russia, mr. president? >> i think it's the most insulting thing i've ever been asked. i think it's the most insulting article i've ever had written. >> it took two more days for trump to say formally no. >> mr. president, yes or no, have you or are you now, have you ever worked for russia? yes or no. >> i never worked for russia, and you know that answer better than anybody. i never worked for russia. >> that's the russian asset side of the story, the president addressing it today. then there is the alleged cover-up. "the washington post" reporting that after one meeting with putin last year, trump confiscated his interpreter's notes from the meeting and told the interpreter not to discuss what happened with his own employees and aides in the trump
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administration. the only thing the interpreter was able to confirm is when putin denied the u.s. meddled in the elections he denied it, which is familiar from another meeting a year later in helsinki. >> i have president putin. he just said it's not russia. i will say this. i don't see any reason why it would be. president putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. >> strong, powerful. we also know that after helsinki, trump aides could not get a reliable readout of that meeting. but the dinner there, when they spoke with only putin's interpreter doing the translating, their helsinki conversation where no one but trump and putin and the translators were in the room, and these two world leaders conversations at other events like the g20 in buenos aires
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last month or vietnam last year. this isn't normal. this is suspicious. the more we learn, the more suspicious it gets. and trump is willing to take the heat for acting this suspicious and taking the heat from open g ily discouraging witness, and more people at fox knew asking why. we begin tonight with former prosecutor in the southern district of new york and a former district attorney, joyce vance, both analysts for us. maya, what is your reaction to this set of bombshell reports? >> my reaction is that this is not just unprecedented. it's extremely dangerous. and part of why it's extremely dangerous is that we are not as a country, not as a whole, not
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as a nation of people who puts country before party asking, demanding that we get a formal accounting, that we get a commitment that there is going to be a public accounting to determine whether or not -- we don't have to all agree whether the evidence is sufficient at this point, but whether or not we have any reason to be concerned that the single most powerful person in the country may be compromised. that is -- this is uncharted territory for this country. we should take it very seriously. even for those who support donald trump, if you support donald trump, you should want transparency. you should want his name cleared. you should stop calling news outlets names rather than addressing the facts.
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you should stop, absolutely stop suggesting that mueller's probe should not be protected by legislation, and we should stop having a conversation that suggests that it is somehow inappropriate for the congress to exercise some oversight to enable the american people to understand what's happened. >> joyce? >> so i think maya is absolutely right. and what's so startling about this new reporting over the weekend is that the fbi thought that there was sufficient predication to open a counterintelligence investigation into the president. counterintelligence cases are different from times when the fbi investigates a criminal case. then they're looking to see whether or not someone has violated a specific criminal law. but in counterintelligence cases, they're looking to see whether there is a threat to our national security. and as maya says, uncharted waters when you're talking about the president, the head of the
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executive branch, because the constitution simply didn't contemplate a president who would be either a witting or unwitting agent of a foreign power. there was enormous sensitivity for the fbi to take this step, which they knew, they had to know would have been very inflammatory at some point. they had evidence, some of which we've seen now thanks to this reporting from "the times" and "the post," but i feel certain a great quantum of evidence, most of that iceberg is submerged below the water. "the new york times" story says nothing has ever publicly been disclosed that links the president despite opening the investigation. that reporting doesn't rule out the fact that that evidence exists. i think the country and the president is due for quite a reckoning when all of the facts are disclosed. >> joyce, "the new york times" article goes through part of, as you say, what the fbi was looking at to reach this conclusion. what more do you think they would have needed? i mean, it doesn't seem simply
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the removal of an fbi director would take you to this level, although as noted, that firing was rare and done in an odd way, there are past presence of removed senior officials in all sorts of ways. >> that's right. and counterintelligence investigations aren't meant to be opened and shut with a conclusion reached. what they're really doing is they're looking for information. they're identifying a threat and they're trying to neutralize that threat. so they can go on for many, many years. it's not as simple as looking at one event, but that one event might have been particularly telling, especially in light of what happened after james comey was fired. we learned about the fact that ambassador kislyak was there from the russian press. and that sort of incident when you layer them one on top of the other would give the fbi reason to continue to investigate.
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we don't know if they at some point reached a conclusion and decided that their concerns had been ill founded and there were no problems, or if they ultimately concluded there was more of a threat. but like you say, one event in and of itself doesn't make these investigations, and the fbi would have had just a serious quantum of evidence over a long timeline to get there. >> maya, i want to draw you out on sort of the way the president has handled this. it has become something of a pattern now where people see reports that are distressing, that might have had a big impact on other presidents and feel like they just grind on, and yet the very fact that this has punctured what may be a universe or a bubble of fox news, as i've argued tonight itself is interesting and telling. the president also responding to it point by point at times after a delay. i want to play for you also in that interview his attempt to say well, this is just like how he deals with other high level
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foreign meetings. take a look. >> i met with every leader just about individually. i meet with modi, i meet with -- in japan, i meet with abe. i meet with all of them. but nobody says anything. but i meet with putin, they make a big deal. anybody could have listened to that meeting. that meeting is open for grabs. >> some of what's there is obviously a lie. the whole point is it's not open for grabs. i didn't know that was an expression. i think up for grabs. >> i think it's what "access hollywood" taught it is. >> wow, i hadn't made that literary connection. but beyond word choice, what do you think of that defense and what he's doing and the fact that he feels the need to mislead or lie about saying this is basically like other meetings and it's always the reaction to russia, not the fact that it always seems to come back to russia. >> well, part of the reason donald trump has a problem now is because he has a history and a pattern of lying.
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so -- and this goes i think back to the same question that you asked joyce, which is if you look at what the fbi knew and was opiniowitnessing, it was fi all witnessing a candidate that clearly as we know had business dealings and was going after business dealings in russia, and publicly telling everyone who asked that he was having no business conversations with russia, we know that was a lie now. we know that from michael cohen that he was directed actually to pursue lines of business, at least until june and looks like even into the fall of 2016. you have him being briefed by the fbi about the activities and the potential for infiltration of his campaign by russians. he had seven people having contact with russians during his campaign. the fbi asked him to -- and the campaign to let them know about
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contact with russians. as far as we know from the record that we've seen, that did not happen. then, of course, you have the fact that not only his campaign manager -- right, the person who was chairing his campaign changed the republican platform in a way that was beneficial to the policy interests of russia. you then also had the fact that michael flynn, who was his adviser, lied about having communications about sanctions in russia with ambassador kislyak again. i mean, we don't even have enough time to go down the list both of facts that in and of themselves give us a whole public mountain of information that actually makes it clear that the fbi was right to be concerned at the point he then fires comey and says it's about the investigation. >> says it's about the investigation and holds another private meeting not with putin,
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but with russian diplomats to say this has eased the pressure off him and only allows the russian press to cover it. it's overwhelming when you put it all like that. maya, thank you, and stay with me because i want to bring you on one other item later in the show. joyce vance, thank you as well. appreciate it. what i want to do now is turn, as promised, to an interview with a house democratic chair. the dems are in the majority. eliot engel, the new chairman of the house foreign affairs committee says there will be a panel to investigate and considering whether president trump's interpreters to learn about those meetings. i'm happy to say on "the beat" is eliot engel, the chair of the house foreign affairs committee. a busy day. thanks for joining me tonight. >> my pleasure, my pleasure. >> we went through some of what you've reportedly been doing. in your view, was this story a
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surprise when you read it to you and what are you going to do to get the interpreter to provide information to congress? >> well, of course it was a surprise. it still is a surprise. i still pinch myself to think this is really happening. and i think that the president would want to cooperate to clear himself if indeed he feels he needs to be cleared. we have had difficulty with the russians since they interfered in our election for president in 2016, and we know they interfered in trying to help the president. and what happens now of course is the president is cozied up to putin all the time since he's been president, and it makes you scratch your head and think there is some kind of nefarious connection. when you add the fact that apparently the president tried to hide notes that were taken of his encounter with putin when only the two of them were in a room, it just makes you think
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again. there were too many things going on at one time to just walk away from this and say, well, they're all coincidences. we're going to look at it, and we're going to make a judgment accordingly, but i want to just say with the house is the branch of government, the legislative branch of government. and we have checks and balances and we're supposed to get involved in such things. >> the big check as you know is the subpoena power. if this does not show up voluntarily, are you prepared to subpoena the interpreter? >> no decisions have been made. we're still in the beginnings of it. congress is first putting together the committees. we don't even know all the members on. but we're going to look at all aspects. i would think a subpoena would be a last resort, not a first resort. i would hope it wouldn't have to get to that. i would hope that there is cooperation. the american people have the right to know. >> other than what we've
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learned, do you feel that this is the end of the putin meeting story or is there more information that you would expect may come out through your investigation through what appear to be congressionally related leaks as to what the fbi's general counsel had said regarding the other thing, the probe that was locking at whether the president himself, weird to say, hard to say, perhaps, the president himself was a national security threat to the united states. >> well, i would find that hard to believe. i think most people would find it hard to believe. and i think it would be in the president's best interests to come clean and release whatever papers he has. you know, there has been -- since the election of 2016, and since trump became president, there's always something about him with putin. president trump has it yet sized our allies and friends, has criticized the nato alliance,
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has criticized all kind of things that various presidents have taken for granted and the american people have taken for granted. when it comes to putin, he is cozy with him. it really makes you think. and the more we hear about this, the more we think that what else is there that we don't know about. >> right. and while i have you, given that you run this most important foreign policy committee, these reports that john bolton was soliciting potential plans to attack iran, your response. >> well, i think the united states needs to be careful before it involves itself in other wars and other attacks. i think that we've learned our lesson, we should have learned our lesson. i don't think the american people want any kind of a prolonged difficulties that would come with such an attack. i happen to think, by the way, that leaving syria was a mistake, and i have trouble in general with the foreign policy of this administration, which i
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call fly by the seat of your pants foreign policy. there is no consistency to it. leaving syria leaves our allies really in jeopardy, and it certainly leaves our friends, the kurds, who have fought side by side with us in great jeopardy. so i think that that's something that troubles me a great deal. >> well, a lot of big and troubling questions here about u.s. foreign policy in this administration right now. you're the one in the driver's seat in the house with the new chair, and you're saying the subpoena's at least on the table but not a first resort on the putin translation issues. chairman engel, thanks for joining me tonight. >> my pleasure. >> appreciate it. coming up, democrats warning trump against trying to intimidate witnesses after he goes after michael cohen's family. so say that could be a crime. and i'll break down a hidden link between trump's attempts to keep the putin talks secret and the false cover story about the trump tower meeting. also, what did the fbi really know about these links to russia? have i the doj official who
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it's the most wi am a techie dad.n. h. i believe the best technology should feel effortless. like magic. at comcast, it's my job to develop, apps and tools that simplify your experience. my name is mike, i'm in product development at comcast. we're working to make things simple, easy and awesome. the other top story coming out of congress tonight is truly concerning. the chairman of the top house committee's warning the president against committing the crime of witness tampering, telling trump federal laws prohibit efforts to intimidate or pressure witnesses against testifying.
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the unusual warning is a response to trump attacking his former lawyer, michael cohen's family in this interview. >> he should give information maybe on his father-in-law because that's the one that people want to look at. and i guess he didn't want the talk about his father-in-law. he's trying to get his sentence reduced. >> democrats say that may be a crime, because threatening a witness's family to shape testimony is witness intimidation, a familiar crime from mafia circles and mob movies, from john gotti to frank white. as once explained by christopher wallace, family threats can work. wallace recounts his court appearance, at the arraignment, note the plaintiff, your daughter is tied up in a brooklyn basement. that's how i stay filthy. that is gangster. it is illegal. while wallace was telling
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stories, this is what democrats say they're concerned trump is actually doing, especially given his public calls for other witnesses like roger stone and paul manafort to avoid giving testimony. i'm joined by "the new yorker"s jelani cobb. is the president being gangster? >> it's his rendition of what a gangster would be. this is kind of a fun exercise to think about how much of the president's public pronouncements could be interchangeable with the voiceover from "goodfellows." it's that kind of narrative like your father-in-law, maybe we can look into that guy and so on, the implicit threats that are in here. and so, i think it's part of a bigger pattern. he is a construction guy from queens. he has certainly been in contact or come into some circles in which there are people from organized crime. just by the nature of that business and the time in which
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he was involved in it, there is the lingo, the tough guy act he puts on, you would never know he is the kind of wasp upper class scion. you would think he was from a very different part of queens than the one he grew up in, jamaica estates. and then he is using this language. he is calling michael cohen a rat and saying what about your father-in-law and all these other kinds of things, as if they were just taken verbatim from a gangster movie or the tony soprano guy to american governance. >> so this raises the question, is he gangster or is he just a studio gangster? >> i'm going they is a studio gangster. presumably the studio is at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. >> and he's looking at someone in michael cohen who clearly rattles him. this is an individual now who has lost a lot, who is looking at years in prison, and is speaking to the congress under oath in february before going to prison scheduled for three years in march. so he then seems to say, as you put it, learning from his
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environment or his notions of how it might be out in the street that maybe the last thing he can do to someone who doesn't have much to lose is actually threaten their elderly father-in-law. but it's a threat coming from someone who does run the federal government and has an fbi and a doj that does still report. >> exactly. the kind of irony of this of course because of "the new york times" reporting, we've learned a great deal about mr. trump's family and their financial dealings and the way they are connected to the various questions about his taxes and his tax background. and so it's the kind of projection. and there is other kind of contextual point about this, outside of the popular culture one and the historical one. and those articles of impeachment that were drafted against richard nixon, we often talk about the obstruction of justice quite a bit. we don't talk about the contempt of congress one. and so in doing this, he's not only witness tampering, but he is directly violating the
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separation of powers and interfering with a congressional witness. >> leave it to a new yorker writer to go that deep in the history or in the crates, if you will. we have some of that i'll put up here in both the nixon and the clinton cases, which are different presidents. you have witness tampering as one of the articles. >> right. that's right. and so it's kind of like stepping over trip wires after trip wire after trip wire. it's also telling that this letter was sent not only by the chair of oversight, not only by the chair of intelligence, but by representative nadler, who is the chair of the judiciary committee. and so this is a kind of subtextual -- there are lots of other things that are going on. on just the language it's saying hey, knock it off. this person is a witness whose about to give testimony. but if we're thinking about in a kind of subtle shaded way, there
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are all sort of other implications and other messagious would pick up by that. >> right. in which the investigative committees came out together to warn about from frank white to the white house, jelani cobb, thank you for being here. appreciate it. up ahead donald trump's meeting with putin, the link to the trump tower meeting and mueller and the fbi's concerns the doj who wrote mueller's rules when we're back in just 30 seconds. s, with 100% clean ingredients. just a few good reasons to give into your cravings. now delivering. panera. food as it should be. take your razor, yup. up and down, never side to side, shaquem, you got it? come on stay focused. hard work baby, it gonna pay off.
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you've heard the news. we've been talking about it tonight. the fbi so concerned by donald trump's behavior in office that. >> began investigating whether he was literally working for russia. "the new york times" reporting all of this really got heated after donald trump's russia thing comment to lester holt and firing james comey. the actions here are of course a pattern. you had a day after the comey firing, russians in the oval office, no u.s. press allowed, and trump says comey is a nut job and great pressure was taken off by the firing. we also learned t eed the idea trump floating giving putin a penthouse had they built that tower in 2016, and he didn't hide his request to russia on the campaign trail. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. i think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. >> that was a huge deal when it happened.
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what we now know because of the mueller probe and the speaking indictments that he's released is that russians then made their first efforts to criminally hack hillary clinton's servers that day. and then you add to that over 100 contacts between trump's team and russia-linked operatives and the team trying to cover up every single one of them, according to a "washington post" account. donald trump also dropping sanctions on a russian oligarch who is close to both putin and paul manafort if you're playing conspiracy bingo. manafort offering deripaska those private briefings as part of the 2016 campaign outreach. the sanctions that were lifted were explicitly imposed and trump defied his own military advisers in removing the u.s. troops from syria which of course also benefits putin. and we also know that russia interfered in the election and goes on to interfere later midterm activity, but there has been very little action on that from trump's administration. >> they haven't paid a price at least sufficient to get them to
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change their behavior. we're taking steps but we're probably not doing enough. if we don't change the dynamic, it's going to continue, and 2016 won't be viewed as something isolated. >> trump casts himself as a street fighter. so why does an america first, self-declared america first president not fight when vladimir putin's on the other side of the street? we just put it up. the foreign adversary interfering in elections. putin accused of killing critics, and donald trump never has a tough word for him. >> if we have a good relationship with russia, believe me, that's a good thing. >> getting along with russia is a good thing. >> i think i could have a very good relationship with russia and with president putin, and if i did, that would be a great thing. >> would you say vladimir putin is a friend or a foe? >> getting along with russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. >> not a bad thing. well, let's bring in our guest as promised.
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neil cottial wrote the rules. maya wiley former u.s. assistant attorney in the southern district. you look at the case laid out there, of course. that goes to the suspicion so the facts can be relevant to the investigat investigators. when you look at the new reports, how do you think they relate to mueller's charge? >> i think they're greatly concerning and i think they're exactly the types of things mueller has been looking at for two years. i would add to what you're saying. one other important thing, which is every time russia comes up, there is a lie by trump and the trump campaign folks. it's almost you can do a microsoft word auto replace and replace russia with lie. most significantly, the trump campaign was warned and trump himself was warned in august of 2016 by the fbi. the fbi went to them and said look, we think the russians are going to infiltrate your campaign. what do they do? nothing. they told -- the fbi told trump
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back then if the russians try and do something, tell us about it. nothing. zero. and then when asked about it, the trump campaign and the trump folks lied about their contacts. and that's why you have indictment after indictment by mueller. so, you know, thank heavens for the mueller probe, because without it, we wouldn't know all of this stuff. we wouldn't know that manafort, the president's campaign chairman is, you know, in cahoots with the ukrainians and russians. we wouldn't know that michael flynn, the president's national security adviser, was in cahoots with russia. so all this is really, really important. >> when you put it that way, that goes to how the investigation has moved forward, we've talked tonight, and i think ever since these bombshells broke, a lot of people have been talking about wow, this feels like another line crossed. on the flip side, you've worked inside the justice department in main justice in washington. this isn't the type of stuff bob mueller wants out in the papers a this point in the probe. >> oh, absolutely. but i think it's not just a line has been crossed. the line has been blown to smithereens.
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the president of the united states under active investigation by the fbi for being a russian asset? i mean, this is the stuff of fiction novels that, you know, usually are rejected by publishers as being too unrealistic. and i think as we look to our tomorrow and the bar hearings in particular, we have a lot to worry about. barr promised today, he said i won't interfere with mueller. did he make that promise about the southern district of new york investigation, about michael cohen, when those prosecutors for the first time in decades have said a sitting president ordered the commission of crimes. you know, i think there is a lot to be worried about, in particularly with barr's extravagant kind of ridiculous views about presidential power. >> well, that goes to also the timing. we are learning these things when tomorrow is, as mr. katyal points out, ground zero for the actual under oath commitments that will form the baseline for the future of the mueller probe. >> absolutely.
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you know, the question is we've come to a point in this country where our politics are so broken, where the idea of actually working together across any partisan lines fundamentally just to protect the rule of law, we're really not talking about something deeply complex. where those lines and boundaries are. it is critically important that we have an attorney general that recognizes his job is to the united states of america, not to a sitting president. >> well, and you say that, and you both bring it up. and this goes to something we've been reporting on. and now that we have beth of you here, since you wrote the rules, i'm curious what you think of the corollary to the nixon case, all about the senate really taking a firm view of defending the independents there. i want to play for you some of what we saw there, which was a younger robert byrd saying they got the commitments they wanted,
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and contrast today with senator durbin says we need to see tomorrow. take a look. >> the forthright answers by mr. cox and by mr. richards to the sharp questions from committee members assure us as well as we can be assured under these circumstances that the prosecutor will have full and complete authority, and that mr. richardson will not attempt in any way to intervene. >> bill barr has better give us some iron-clad rock bottom assurances in terms of his independence and his willingness to step back and let mueller finish his job. >> how do you define that line of those assurances? >> i think this isn't even close to the assurances that were given for nixon. not even close. there actually the nominee for attorney general sat next to the special prosecutor at the hearing and said i won't interfere. here ewe got -- >> so you're talking about what was then richardson and cox sitting there in front of the cameras, which today would be the equivalent of seeing barr and mueller tomorrow.
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we have no expectations that's happening. >> also the southern district investigations. so it's more than just mueller. so that's one thing. remember, you're putting up there a nominee who about william barr who is famous for his really ridiculous constitutional views which are the president controls the prosecution power entirely. even is barr's promise worth even the paper it's printed on, because if trump orders him to say shut down mueller, shut down southern district of new york, barr has said in his own writings, hey, the attorney general has to follow the president. >> you know, maya, if you listen to the former acting solicitor general here, you almost get the impression he thinks there could be more action for donald trump and the people in his orbit in new york. >> i think we know that there's going to be more action. >> we don't know. >> we know that there's going to be action, ari. we don't know what the action circumstances but we don't know in the way we know the sun's going to rise. >> look, we know that there is ongoing investigation of the
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trump organization. we know that the -- it's also, by the way, the attorney general for new york state. so it's not only going to be at the federal level, but the point -- >> but neal is saying he doesn't want bill barr to interfere where you used to work in new york, that they may have more on trump or the trump campaign, on the money? >> right. and yesterday, remember, trump, as you were talking about earlier, trump actually threatened michael cohen's father, who after cohen's testimony. and now the trump defenders are saying, oh, well, every ordinary defendant complains about their witnesses and stuff like that. but, again, this is where trump's kind of crazy constitutional views backfire because he said i'm different than everyone else. i'm not an ordinary individual. i control the prosecution power. so the one guy who can't actually say what was said yesterday as opposed to ordinary defendants is donald trump because he can wield the prosecution against michael cohen and his family. >> it's so important. i have to fit in a break.
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i am heading down to washington tonight, as i know you'll be down there to see what transp e transpires in the senate huging. it will be huge. eternally grateful, neal katyal and maya wiley. up next, we're in the midst of now the longest shutdown in american history. do you want to hear some wisdom from bob mueller himself on camera about the repercussions? we're going to play that for you when i come back. also, the trump tower at the heart of the collusion meeting. david corn is here next. ♪ memories. what we deliver by delivering.
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these revelations about trump and his translators also shedding light on the trump tower meeting. putin's translator was the only one present at that germany event in 2017, a meeting that occurred the same day "the times" actually reached out for comment on a story that was about to break the infamous 2016 trump tower meeting. so it was on the flight home that trump then personally dictated what would turn out to be a very misleading response,
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claiming it was all about adoptions. now 11 days later, trump talked about his dinner with putin for the first time and claimed they talked about russian adoptions. let's get right to it. david corn is mother jones' washington bureau chief, and his new piece is called "why trump was always a counterintelligence nightmare." david, your response to the new reporting and the trump tower link, and explain what you're arguing in your new piece. >> well, to talk about what you first put up on the screen there, ari, it seems to me that that time frame when the trump tower meeting was coming out, there was a lot of pressure on trump to come up with a cover story. and he said that meeting was about adoption, and he dictated a statement to don jr., which may get don into a lot of trouble. he had his son lie about a matter that was under investigation, and i gather that mueller is looking into that. and a few days later there is the whole issue hey, you know that meeting with putin?
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what did you talk about? i got it. adoption. and he reaches for the adoption, you know, cover story once again. it seems -- now we don't know what he talked about in that meeting, but we do know from "the washington post" reporting that he often has prevented other people in his own inner circle from learning what he talked about with putin. very troubling. very unusual. it doesn't happen when most presidents speak with foreign leaders, including the leaders of russia. so it just seems to be that became his all purpose lie in that point in time. and the piece i put out just an hour or two ago, hot off the press, though, we don't have presses for this, i was basically saying that donald trump was a counterintelligence nightmare throughout the campaign, because while russia was attacking the united states, and even when it became public through news reports and later through the obama administration releasing its finding that russia was doing, this trump kept saying it wasn't happening.
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heavy was in essence echoing what putin was saying, that is he was reiterating -- not communist, russian propaganda disinformation. and if you're a counterintelligence person in the fbi or elsewhere, and you look at someone out there repeating disinformation, that sends up red flags right away. why are they doing this? is there anything in cahoots going on here? are they just repeating russian misinformation, disinformation coincidentally? that's why from the very beginning of his general election campaign, donald trump was a counterintelligence concern. >> do you think any of this coming out now is tied to what we've been reporting as a pivotal event in the mueller probe tomorrow with the bill barr hearing? >> i don't know. there are so many pivotal events happening, and of course there may be more pivotal events with more mueller filings and whatever he is going to do at the end of the investigation. the barr event hearing which i'm
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glad you're coming to washington for. we cleared the snow for you. >> thank you. >> is pivotal because this guy will be in charge unless he recuses himself of the mueller investigation. >> he's the boss, yeah. >> as it comes, as it seemingly comes to a close. >> all the big calls. the big calls are going to be made, particularly if it looks anything like past probes, whether that comes to what we learn, the reports or potentially any final indictments. the later indictments, if there are more, tend to be bigger than the first. david, i got to fit in a break. thank you for joining us. >> good to be with you. >> absolutely. the shutdown continues. there is new polling putting pressure on the white house. we also tonight for you have a big update on those be wine glasses for msnbc moms. you have no idea what we learned about y'all on friday. we're going explain, later.
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bob mueller stays on the job despite this government shutdown, but he has talked before about the cost of these kind of cuts. here was mueller in 2013 talking about furloughs. >> it is demoralizing when you are faced with furloughs. unable to pay your bills, working hard but the government has to furlough you because there's insufficient money to keep you on in the position you're on. we take cuts elsewhere, but the furloughs is the last -- >> supposed to be a last resort, he was saying in that testimony. and that it's a real emergency.
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not a stunt. well, that's something to keep in mind as this shutdown grinds on, impacting real people, real life, and many real families. >> a lot of the employees work double shifts. and with no paycheck. so that's a slap in the face. >> worried about the next paycheck. worried about time with my kids, what i can do with them. >> i have a soon with college tuition coming due next week. >> this shutdown couldn't happen at a worse time. >> what happens when these real stories get out over time? well, i'll show you briefly some polling that shows the white house concern, because 56% of people are blaming trump or the republicans for the shutdown, a much smaller share blaming the democrats at this time. now, before we go, i got another thing i gotta share with you. we see you, msnbc moms. what we learned about you and your love for wine and perhaps beat wine glasses next.
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so we have been hearing from you guys. on friday, we debuted something different. these new beat wine glasses. a lot of you weighed in, including, yes, some msnbc moms. we saw how many of you enjoy the beat glasses with your favorite wine. here are just a few postings and the #msnbcmoms made a strong showing on twitter. awesome. some of you got creative with your glasses and went homemade. we support that.
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also cost effective. and i can tell you our update. because of you, we have sold out of these beat wine glasses in minutes. i didn't even give the website on air, but you found it. they are out of stock. when they get back in stock, we'll update so that you know. i'll be in washington tomorrow covering the bill barr hearings. don't go anywhere now. "hardball" is up next. mission from moscow. let's play "hardball." >> good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. tonight, we're witnessing something entirely unprecedented in this country's history. for the first time a sitting american president has come under scrutiny for being an agent of a hostile foreign power. it now appears the fbi suspected that trump's firing of james comey was to protect russia and


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