tv Deadline White House MSNBC January 15, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
>> i know, doesn't seem fair. good to see you as always. our chief white house correspondent hallie jackson. that wraps up this hour for me. see you back here tomorrow morning at 1:00 p.m. eastern with stephanie then again at 3:00 p.m. eastern. thank you for watching. you will be in the good hands of nicolle wallace. "deadline white house with nicolle wallace" starts right now. hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. the headline out of today's confirmation hearing for william barr, donald trump's nominee for a.g., isn't about barr, but about special counsel robert mueller. barr responding to a question from democratic senator chris coons about whether he'd resigned if asked to fire mueller without cause. >> if the president directed you to change those regulations and then fire mueller, or simply directly fired mueller, would you follow richardson's example and resign instead? >> aseemi inin ining no good ca >> assuming no good cause. >> i would not carry out that instruction. >> barr also seemed to lean in
to the idea that a president could be impeached if he interfered with the investigation. >> the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. >> if he attempts -- if the president attempts to intervene in a matter that he has a stake in to protect himself, that should, first, be looked at as a breach of his constitutional duties. >> but on the other side among the issues that the remain of great concern to democrats, barr refused to say that he'd follow the advice of the doj ethics office on the matter of recusal. >> i will seek the advice of the career ethics personnel, but under the regulations, i make the decision as the head of the agency, as to my own recusal. so i certainly would consult with them and at the end of the day, i would make a decision in good faith based on the laws and
the facts that are evident at that time. >> barr, of course, seeking to avoid the decision that doomed his predecessor, jeff sessions, who recused himself from overseeing the russia probe. still lingering, though, questions surrounding just how the general public will come to see robert mueller's findings and will barr repeatedly committed to making as much information public as he can, he also suggested that what the public sees may not be the report, itself, or even a redacted version of it. today's hearing comes as new evidence emerges that the mueller investigation is still very active at this hour. in a new filing, mueller asked for a delay in sentencing for donald trump's former deputy campaign chairman rick gates. from that filing, "gates continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations and accordingly, the parties do not believe it is appropriate to commence the sentencing process at this time." joining us today from "the new york times," mike schmidt, from the "washington post," bureau chief phil rucker. harry litman is here, former u.s. attorney and former deputy
assistant attorney general. and at the table, matt miller on his 14th hour of television today. he's the former chief spokesman for the justice department. and elise jordan, fresh as always, former aide in the george w. bush white house and state department. co-host of the fabulous podcast, "words matter." phil rucker, let me start you, your paper has a piece up with the headline, ominous one, under bill barr's stewardship as attorney general, public may not ever see the mueller report. >> yeah, it's an interesting question, it's really the question of today, nicolle, how much transparency will bill barr facilitate in terms of that report? will it be released in full to congress and, therefore, potentially to the public? or will there be some sort of a summary that's provided? and barr's answers were, seemed to be inconclusive in the hearing today. certainly, there's a desire by the president, by his legal team, and also his white house advisers to try to have as much
of that report protected and withheld from public view. but that seems to be a debate that's still to be hashed out and determined. >> mike schmidt, what do you think that those people who work for robert mueller heard and saw today in watching mr. barr's testimony? >> i think they heard and saw someone who's committed to allowing the process to play out. at least that's what he said. he was trying to sort of assuage the democrats' concerns, but basically saying, look, i will say low this allow this to go forward, i'll allow this to play out. i'll basically follow this by the book and sort of making an argument, look, i'm at the end of my career. i can take a tough decision and walk away from this thing and resign if i need to because i don't have another job. this will be the end of the line for me, i've accomplished what i need. whether that turns tout be tr s true, obviously went doe know. that's a message to put the
democrats at ease about who he is. the thing on the report, there's been this longstanding notion in the public there will be some type of report. and people really expect that, but what barr is basically saying is if you look at the regulations, there's nothing that really calls for such a robust report which a lot of people in the public want. >> harry litman, a sign that it's 2019 and not 2004 or 2006 is that today, the nominee had to rapidly respond to something rudy giuliani said. let's listen. >> so in other words, you could take this investigative report, put his own spin on it and correct it before it's released. you commit that would not happen if you're attorney general? >> that will not happen. >> so, harry, that was senator leahy sort of playing out what we've read is rudy giuliani's vision of the release of the mueller findings, which is that they'll get a chacnce to look a it, do a little editing, do a
little spinning then release it. the attorney general nominee there saying that will not happen on my watch. you buy that? >> i do buy it, and it was quite the definitive rebuke, and it was of a piece with his testimony overall. he seemed in many ways to be very sort of unguarded and confident and i think the words are by the book. that is, it's true this point about possibly not releasing the mueller report. but that was part and parcel of his commitment to really follow the regs down the line which all in all i think is more reassuring for trump opponents than for trump partisans. . but i think he was quite persuasive in a number of assurances like that. you know, the nomination, once he's confirmed, there's no way to guarantee it except his own integrity, but i think that part did shine through and just as with elliot richardson, i think he was persuasive in making it
seem like if he makes a promise, he's not going to break it. on the other hand, he wouldn't make a promise to surrender his a.g. powers. that was also a common theme. >> something i heard you say over and o'ver and over again today, he's asking us to trust him. >> exactly right. he came in here and put his reputation on the line. the fact he's been attorney general before, the fact he's very well respected, the rule of law and someone who respects the department's independence and its traditions. the last same, the last democratic questioner in the last round, kamala harris, illustrated this really well. on the question of whether he would recuse himself, there's really to reason for democrats to trust him because he wrote this memo and it wasn't -- he tried to describe this as a usual thing for past attorneys general to do. it's not usual. i remember when it first came out, i asked my former boss and a bunch of senior official if they recalled getting a memo like this. it's highly unusual. more unusual is the fact he shared it with the president's attorneys inside the white house, outside the white house. he shared it with mike pence's
outside attorney, with jared kushner's attorney. he basically shared it with everyone on the president's legal team and those close to the president. i don't know if that was because he was advocating for a job or he was acting as a sort of unofficial member of the trump legal team. but it raised serious questions. the fact he can't give a good answer for why he's breaking with the precedent that was set by eric holder and sally yates and rod rosenstein and jeff sessions to follow the advice of career ethics firms, so we don't have to trust them, we can trust people that have -- that bring impartiality to the table. he'll probably get confirmed, anyway because i don't think republicans care but it's a glaring, gaping hole in his, you know, pledge to honor the department's traditions. >> elise, i have this feeling we're looking at everything on this sort of sliding scale. we're grading everybody on a curve. and he's so benefited by the fact that matt whitaker is thought of by most conservative legal scholars as a boob so the
doj is led by a boob so everyone looks at barr and it's like the scene in "american president" when you're so hungry for leadership, you're going to crawl through the sand and you realize it's a mirage, you're going to drink the sand. is there drinking of sand going on with barr? >> i spoke with a senior administration official in george h.w. bush's administration who served alongside barr in that administration and the source said immediately when this happened, wow, i got to give donald trump points for this nomination. in the aftermath of the glow of george h.w. bush's funeral and the positive connotations that that association had. so, yes, i do think that he's definitely being graded on a curve just because look at some of donald trump's disastrous appointees and we're going from, you know, a toilet salesman, all of the, you know, very supplements, that whitaker is accused of, to someone who seems like a steady establishment pick. >> mike schmidt, let's not
sugarcoat what day one's going to be like for incoming attorney general barr should he be confirmed as everyone seems to predict. there's not going to be much of a honeymoon. this president said what he expects out of a sitting attorney that works for him is his own roy cohn. you've said on this show and others you expect a subpoena fight could be in the cards for the mueller probe. what does barr inherit on day one? >> that's the thing that sort of doesn't totally add up here is the biggest preoccupation or one of the biggest preoccupations donald trump had in the first years of his presidency was the fact that jeff sessions recused himself because he wanted someone to control the investigation. the barr who was out there today is not the person that trump would want in that sense. he's basically putting as much distance -- he actually even said that he agreed, you know, he said that sessions had done the right thing by recusing himself or agreed with the decision. so if you're trump and you didn't like what sessions did, then i don't know how you look at what barr did today and totally say, oh, that's really what i want.
i mean, barr is basically, you know, saying the things that democrats wanted to hear about the investigation, which are things that donald trump has repeatedly said publicly that he doesn't believe in. >> phil rucker, these are the things that donald trump tweeted about jeff sessions the last a.g. i'm constantly amazed by this phenomenon. it's like dating where you think you're going to be different. so bill barr, mick mull vaughny mulvaney thought he was going to be different, lampooned in front of chuck schumer and nancy pelosi and barr things he's going to be different. these are things donald trump said about the last a.g. "very weak position on hillary clinton crimes. disgra disgraceful. the recruiseusal was an unforce betrayal. good job, jeff." trashed him constantly from the airwaves of fox news, from the white house rose garden. who walks in there thinking they're going to be digit affer? is bill barr going to be treated differently? >> i don't think the. th is going to behave differently than he has the last
two years or majority of his adult life. he's going to have certain expectations for what bill barr is like as attorney general. assuming he eventually gets confirmed. and the question is going to be, does bill barr make some sort of decision or take some action or even just make a public utterance that forever changes the way president trump views him? with jeff sessions as attorney general, it was that recusal that was sort of a black and white moment that forever sullied sessions' reputation in the eyes of this president. bar has not, to my knowledge, done anything yet in this hearing even though the president may not be thrilled with all of the answers he's seen on television today from that hearing room. but there going to be a number of really consequential decisions barr's going to make starting on day one as mike was alluding to that are really going to test what the president's comfortable with and once the president forms an opinion on someone, he forms these opinions really fast, historically, that will determine what kind of attorney
general this is in his mind. >> harry litman, let me ask you to make this turn for us to today's news in the mueller probe. big because it reveals that despite some reporting, it does not appear that the investigative or prosecutorial phase of the mueller probe is close to ending. a filing today reveals that gates, donald trump's former deputy campaign manager, is still cooperating in ongoing investigations. plural. what do you make of the fact that that was sort of revealed to the public and what do you think gates is still cooperating and helping on? the investigations into whom? >> right. so it's the 150th reminder that, you know, never second guess what mueller knows. and even if you posit that most of the steps in the probe are finished, the remaining steps might be time consuming. so, for example, it's clear that mueller really has jerome corsi
and roger stone in his sights. it's likely that those are among the prosecutions or investigations that gates is cooperating on. if they continue to keep their intransigent pose, that means a trial, it means several months. and i actually think if barr's appointed, that's probably good news here because it takes some of the heat off. you know, barr says he's committed to letting the investigation play out, and i think it will give mueller some operating room. but several, i think, was the big word there. and there may even be things we don't know, for example, the whole middle eastern side people have speculated mueller has already undertaken investigations. seychelles and that whole united arab emirates aspect. at minimum, i think corsi and stone are part of the equation. >> on the russian collusion
side. let me put up -- >> yeah. >> -- for you, mike schmidt, what gates witnessed about your reporting, the questions mueller has for donald trump. robert mueller wanting to know at least last year what knowledge did the president have of any outreach by your campaign including by paul manafort to russia about potential assistance to the campaign? also, wanting to know what involvement did you have concerning platform changes regarding arming ukraine? that was at the rnc convention. first time in political history that the rnc platform as elise knows was made fmore pro-russia. in light of your reporting last week, do you think gates is able to help with what may have started as a counterintelligence investigation to try to understand just what donald trump and his campaign were doing on behalf of russia? . >> my guess, it's only a guess here, mueller has gotten out of gates what he's gotten some time ago. i mean, probably even before they cut, you know, the deal for
his plea agreement. now now, what we've seen with the mueller investigation, it's created other investigations that have looked at other aspects of whether it was the campaign or, you know, business dealings and such that's being run by u.s. attorneys across the country. and, you know, is gates much more part of those things in helping there than he is with mueller? my guess is that mueller has mined gates for everything that he had. >> i think that might be right. one of the things about donald trump right now, every organization he's touched in the last few years is under investigation. one of those investigations is the trump inaugural committee. it's under investigation not by bob mueller but the southern district of new york. rick gates worked on the inaugural economy after his time on the campaign. whether mueller is done with rick gates or not for his part of the vaginvestigation we have idea. the investigation into the inaugural committee started in the last month. >> the sentencing could be about some sort of collaboration or -- >> it could be about the sdny investigation, the piece harry mentioned, whether middle eastern countries were buying
influence in the trump white house or the trump inaugural committee. i think is a very live question. that seems like the type of thing that could be referred to another u.s. attorney. we haven't seen that that's the case, but it would seem to be a natural fit. so there are any number -- look, when every aspect of your life is under investigation, there are any number of things people that were close to you can be cooperating about. >> so much collusion, so little time. mike schmidt, harry litman, thank you, both. when we come back, more news that donald trump's actions behind closed doors lined up exactly with vladimir putin's wish list for the new american president. we'll bring it to you. also ahead, republicans woke up from a 16-year slumber to the news that iowa congressman steve king is a racist. and they're mad at hell. we'll show you who elise sings off the steve king -- what? elise's name was here. who sings off the steve king songbook and if the same republicans say the same things about him. i think you can guess who that is. big spending in matt's inauguration, as we were just
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move over, anonymous. more senior administration officials speaking out about donald trump's near constant adherence to pro-russia and anti-american foreign policy. new reporting in "the new york times" reveals that he pushed against aides who urged him not to withdraw from nato. nato, of course, the alliance of vladimir putin hates most. turns out he found a unwitting ally in undermining it. from the "times" report, "there are few things that president vladimir putin of russia desires more than the weakening of nato.
last year, president trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying nato, the withdrawal of the u.s. senior administration officials told the "times" that several times over the course of 2018, mr. trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the north atlantic treaty organization. current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared mr. trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set. this new report on the heels of friday's revelation that donald trump was suspected by his own fbi to be working on behalf of russia when he fired fbi director jim comey leaves this white house in a very precarious position. joining our conversation, rick stengel, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. phil, matt and elise are all still here. phil rucker, i remember at the time of the foreign trip when h.r. mcmaster was national security advise oh dina powell was his deputy. i remember them backgrounding reporters every time drup wonal
trump was supposed to confirm the united states'commitment to article 5 and didn't. three readouts. going to do it at the next -- why would he do it at nato? he's too busy pushing aside our nato allies. at the final stop, i think, they went ahead and did that. i think there was sort of a telling he'd been resistant at the time and here this new reporting that he still harbored a deep desire to pull out and withdraw from nato all together. >> yeah. i was on that trip, nicolle and the pool reporter that day that trump visited the nato headquarters in brussels. the brand-new gleaming sort of glass modern headquarters that he had such disdain for and he stood there in front of the other heads of state from all the other nato partners and declined in his remarks to stand by article 5 which was considered a major sort of diplomatic faux pas, but in reality, it spoke to what this president believes and has believed for many years including when he was a candidate, which is he's
skeptical of nato as an alliance, he's skeptical of the united states' commitment to it and the financial burden of the u.s. historically and today and when he visited brussels for that visit, the physical headquarters building, itself, was sort of a testament to him of what was so wrong with nato because he saw it as a waste of money and resources. it's a spectacular building, but these huge ceilings and the glass everywhere and steel structu structure, he just saw it as a waste of american dollars. >> i want to push you on that, phil, because i'm sure if it was about him, i mean, if it were a steel structure named the donald trump contribution -- >> the trump tower brussels. >> -- to nato, he would love it. so can you also talk about his fundamental misunderstanding about how nato is -- he seems to think that he collects contributions to nato like he collects and god knows what this says about his golf courses but like he collects money for one
of his properties. it doesn't go into his possibility. this is about what countries contribute for the alliance and for the record, we're the only country that's ever drawn on article 5. >> exactly. >> to ask other countries to fight alongside our soldiers. >> yeah, and that was after the september 11th terrorist attacks. he doesn't seem to think about that. he thinks about nato and the western alliance more generally as other countries leaning on the united states. and the united states having to go out of its way to help prop up the smaller countries with smaller militaries and smaller economies. what he doesn't quite seem to either fully understand or appreciate from a sense of history is the importance of nato in solidifying the alliance against what was then the soviet union and the threat of now russia. and, you know, certainly in his private conversations with putin, we don't know the full record of what has been discussed in those meetings, obviously, but i would imagine nato has come up. it's been, you know, a top agenda item for the russians and for putin to try to destabilize
nato, to try to dismantle it in some way. and trump in that regard is an instrument of that russian agenda insofar as he's egging his advisers on to consider withdrawing from nato. >> rick? >> you know, to your point, nicolle, maybe the european leaders should rename it the north atlantic trump organization and then he would be really happy with it. you know, what's so radical about this is once upon a time, a russian leader thought maybe i'll get a little bit of animus between france and the united states, between england, the united states, between england and france, and that will help to unravel the nato alliance. not in his wildest vodka-induced dreams did vladimir putin ever think an american president would undermine the basis of the greatest treaty that we have ever created in 70 years. and it's so strange given all that we've been finding out about the connections between russia, between the fbi
investigation, and to phil's point, i don't quite understand the genesis of where trump's animosity to nato has come from. >> well, why is it a mystery? it's because putin hates nato. >> well -- >> i mean, what -- >> so you connected the dots completely? >> the fbi did. the fbi opened a counterintelligence investigation into this president at the beginning of his presidency. we're just seeing two years down the road all the proof points they had. anyone who thought they were crazy should go get their head examined. >> well, so you're saying is that vladimir putin is saying, hey, don, whatever you can do to undermine nato -- >> are you saying that he just woke up and thought, let's relitigate the soviet intervention in afghanistan? what are you saying? >> okay. so what i'm saying, i don't have an answer to this, so -- >> i think we should stop guessing. we have our answer. trump's not smart. >> we don't have an answer. i mean -- >> he just read a book and was like, hey, i think what the soviets tried in aftghanistan ws killer. >> where does that come from, then? >> where does it come from? >> you're answering the question
with a question. >> comes from vladimir putin's russia, it doesn't even come from the russian streets. >> he has mirrored -- what putin has said, what dugan has said, what all of these guys have said for a long time. nobody knows the genesis of that. where is that coming from? are day sending him memos he's reading and memorizing it then saying it? i don't know. >> if the "times" story reporting about donald trump, speculating that, oh, it would be great to get out of nato, he ascribed it to a core belief. >> he doesn't have any core beliefs. >> another core belief was we should take iraq's oil. >> correct. >> just an idea that -- absolutely nonsense -- >> stormy daniels. >> he was repeatedly told by his advisers the factual basis for rejecting his claim, but it just won't sink in. and i really found the most insightful part of the article was a poll that i hadn't seen from the ronald reagan institute saying that republicans are now less supportive of nato than democrats and i think that is donald trump's lasting impact on
the republican party. he literally has shifted away the traditional hawkishness. >> yeah. it's donald trump's, you know, scourge of the republican party. >> think of the day that vladimir putin had today. in the uk, brexit is falling apart, it may bring down the government. in any event, it's pulling the country apart and separating the uk from the continent. this article surfaces the president repeatedly privately called for the u.s. to withdraw from nato. whether we withdraw from nato or not, that revelation has impacts. it weakens nato. it fans the flames of nationalism that have been sweeping across europe that vladimir putin also very much supports. and so why does donald trump keep coming back to these policies that time and time again, not just on nato, but on this crazy afghanistan thing, and on standing up and taking the side of vladimir putin over his own u.s. intelligence agencies, you can go on and on down the list. the simplest explanation is usually the correct one would tell you he's in some way been compromised. maybe there is a more
complicated answer that we have yet to find. if so, i'm waiting to hear it. >> because i'm stubborn and i want to convince rick stengel, let me put up this graphic. this is vladimir putin's goal, relieve pressure from u.s. sanctions on russia. this is trump's payout. he rolls back and blocks sanctions and delays them and slows them. that's ongoing. trump's goal, sow discord in western democracies. trump repeatedly dismisses election interference, rolls back the sanctions obama installed right after the election. in fact, mike flynn is awaiting sentencing for doing just that and lying about it. so why did they lie? putin's goal -- i'll let you answer in a second. oust u.s. from conflict in syria. donald trump announces troop withdrawals, at least two of his aides go on a where's waldo trip of the world to reassure people we're not going to do what the president said we're going to do. putin's goal, gain recognition for the illegal seizure of crimea. trump says russsia is part of crimea. >> i forgot about that. >> because they speak russian, thank you, mr. president. trump's payout, repeatedly undermine european allies and
nato. >> lord, when you put it that way -- >> he has mirrored it at every point. what i can't do is connect the dot and say there's some secret putin e-mail or text or memo that goes to donald trump. i remember during the annexation of cry mimea and trump basicall said crimea was part of russia and ukraine is basically part of russia. i don't know where he gets that. the whole thing is very strange. again, just as a patriotic american, i would say i dearly hope he is an unwitting agent of russia and putin, rather than a witting agent. that somehow he is mirroring this without quite understanding why. because if he's actually affiliated, a russian agent, you know, american history has to begin all over again. >> phil rucker, you want to top that? >> i don't think i can top that. >> phil, you always can top that. you always can top that. what are you guys chasing today?
this story has to have another beat. you dropped the shoe on saturday with incredible reporting about donald trump taking and making disappear the notes from the interpreters and others about his meetings with russians. "the new york times" today, a great report about nato. you know, what else -- i mean, i guess to rick's discomfort, how much more evidence do we need? >> well, i mean, i think we're sort of all here waiting to see this mueller report, and the extent to which that will lay out in sort of gripping meticulous narrative detail what happened, what the motivations were and who did what, when and where. right now, we don't have that full puzzle picture. so we're chasing that, obviously, and then, of course, the shutdown which there seems to be no end in sight. >> no end in sight. and we don't even lead with it. phil rucker, thank you. >> thank you, nicolle. after the break, republicans finally decide a racist in their ranks is not to be tolerated. that story's next.
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when mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. they're bringing drugs. they're bringing crime. they're rapists. i didn't even know he endorsed me. david duke endorsed me? okay. i disavow. okay? certainly i would disavow if i thought there was something wrong. you have groups in there that are totally fine and would be very unfair. give me a list of the groups and i'll let you know. >> i'm just talking about david duke and the ku klux klan here. >> honestly, i don't know david duke. i don't believe i've ever met him. look at my african-american over here. look at him. are you the greatest? i think there's blame on both sides. you look at -- you look at both sides, i think there's blame on both sides. you know what i am? i'm a nationalist. okay? i'm a nationalist. >> more than two years, the gop has given safe harbor to racist comments like those. but now, they're changing their tune. >> that is not the party of
lincoln. it's definitely not america. all people are created equal in america and we want to take a very strong stance about that. >> we do not support it or agree with it, and as i said, i think he should find another line of work. >> he ought to resign and move on and let someone else who represents american values take his seat. >> those republicans weren't condemning the president there. they're denouncing this guy. iowa congressman steve king who just won a ninth term this november. and who's made his fair share of controversial comments over the years. but it was this quote of his to "the new york times" last week that set people off. king said, "white nationalists, white supremacists, western civilization, how did that language become offensive?" king's comments don't seem to bother the president whose affinity for king goes back years. 2014, speaking to reporters before a private fund-raiser trump touted king as a special guy, a smart person with really the right views on almost everything. their ideologies are so insync trump said, we don't have to compare notes.
wow. joining us now, former democratic congresswoman donna edwards. donna,? >> wow. it's hard to know what to say. i think you're right. it's very tough to find a distinction between steve king and donald trump. and why republicans are coming out now, and frankly, i think that the disapproval that they've just passed against steve king is not enough. if the republican party wants to remove this cold sore, this cancer from the republican party, then it needs to be even stronger and that means not only, i think, the removal of steve king from the congress of the united states because he's reflected against the credibility of the congress, but also rebuking the president of the united states who has aligned himself with steve king. >> where, donna, do you see a distinction between donald trump's comments about race,
which are clearly ray s lly rac steve king's, which are clearly raci racist? >> i tell you, i don't. you can especially tell that across the breadth of the last couple years of the immigration debate. remember, it was steve king who characterized giving support for dreamers to migrants potentially coming across the border with cantaloupes as their thighs because they were carrying drugs and then donald trump coming down the escalator saying the hateful things that he did. there's almost no distinction without a single difference between what the president of the united states has said over and over again, and those he's aligned himself with, and steve king who despite what he is saying, said on friday and is saying today on the floor of the house of representatives has not backed away at all from his past statements and continues to espouse this idea, this hateful
ideology of white supremacy and white nationalism. so it's not enough to condemn him, slap him on the wrist, if you will. i do agree it's a heavy sanction on the floor but it's not heavy enough. he does not deserve to be in the united states house of representatives. >> elise, in the same way that the "access hollywood" tape, grab them by the bleep, set republicans back a generation with women. i think republicans are back twice that. i mean, you look at the images of the incoming, you know, i don't know that there are many, but the incoming members of congress on the republican side, all white, all men. you look at just the incoming members on the democratic side, they look like america. what is the republican party? >> and you can also make the argument this should have just happened years ago with steve king. >> like -- >> you know, i'm not going to give any badges of honor to any of the republicans speaking out now against steve king because it's such an obvious thing that
it must be done and it should have been done a long time ago. consider under paul ryan's watch in august, steve king was on a holocaust memorial junket and manages to meet with austrian neo nazis. this is the kind of stuff he pulls, frankly, all the time, and picking a high target, someone that's powerful, that's a lot harder than going after low-hanging fruit, someone like steve king and really shows their kocowardice. i'm going to salute them, pat on the back, for doing something obvious, but go after the bigger target when he's being a racist and that guy's in the oval office. >> yeah, i mean, i have a tape of liz cheney and kevin mccarthy and mitt romney saying that this is, you know, steve king doesn't represent the party of lincoln. all three of them defenders of donald trump on just about every issue. >> and i think what's so upsetting about the steve king thing is not even so much what he has said as odious as it is, but it gives a window into the voters of the republican party
and the people who have supported him and condoned this all this time. look -- let's parse that line. like, what's wrong? when did saying white nationalism or white supremacy become a bad word? i mean, the problem is there are voters who are thinking that, too, like, what is wrong with that? and that's the problem with the republican party. that those people have nowhere else to go and they have a president who seems to endorse those views which are un-american. >> and it has been particularly empowered under donald trump. you were working for president bush when trent lott made his statement that strom thurmond, how much better off would we have been if he had become president, and george w. bush said this is unacceptable, no, and he resigned. >> part of the problem is we think -- this does not have a parallel on the left. there just -- it doesn't. there isn't. there isn't a strain of racism on the left. i don't -- so i think that this gets brushed under the rug. people sort of tolerate -- it's been normalized. like you just said, they don't have anywhere else to go, so
they attach to the republican party. the republican party doesn't have to let them. how -- how do -- how do republicans sort of get back to doing something decent? >> they would have to completely reinvent the party. look, i don't think they had a road to damascus conversion over the last couple days and decided they were going to finally try to hold steve king accountable. what happened -- >> he says that stuff in the iowa papers. his mistake was doing it in the "times." >> control of the house changed and democrats were going to sanction him on the floor of the house. if kevin mccarthy was the speaker or paul ryan was still the speaker, his comments would have passed the same way his previous comments happened with no action at all. i think the problem for the republican party is this is now -- this is now the message of the party. not usually as explicit as steve king. they don't come out and endorse white supremacy. if you look at their closing argument to voters in the last election, it wasn't just the argument donald trump was making but republican house and senate candidates all across the country were talking about this caravan of brown people who were charging the southern border and
were coming across to take your jobs and to threaten your children. that is the message of the republican party now. until they come up with a different message, you're going to see racist things all throughout the party. >> that's what the wall symbolizes. the wall is not a literal wall. the wall is keeping out those people that get in the way of white nationalists. >> all donald trump's talk about the wall, steve king has been talking about a concrete wall on the southern border long before donald trump ever entered politics. he's the intellectual creator of the idea that donald trump picked up and ran with. >> don, i see you nodding. let me give you the last word. >> i wouldn't describe steve king as an intellectual creator of anything, but he was. let me just say steve king and the president reechoed white supremacy and nationalism. if republicans want to do something, get rid of king but condemn your president. >> donna, does this moment scare you? it scares me. >> well, the only thing i will
say, nicolle, is it doesn't scare me but it's a reminder of how deeply we have to fight for the soul of the nation and if we can't depend on republicans do join us in this fight, cancel out the republican party. it is no longer the party of lincoln if it continues to tolerate this. >> liz, kevin, mitt, let's hear you say the same thing about the president tomorrow when they catch you in the halls. up next, donald trump's inauguration didn't break any crowd size records. even he knows that. but it did break records on spending. where'd all that money go? new reporting has some of the answers, coming up.
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committee's extravagant spending which we know as of last month is now under investigation by federal prosecutors in manhattan. the "times" points out the investigation was prompted at least partly by a recording that mr. trump's former lawyer and fixer michael cohen made of a conversation he had with a central figure in the inaugural planning. shortly after mrs. trump ended ms. winston wolkoff's role asla dismissed after initial reports taken in by the entity she formed to help produce the inaugural. this story seems to be another pull on the ball of thread that's going to unravel badly. >> yeah. i mean, and one sense, what a surprise that the guy whose house looked like saddam hussein's palace wasted a lot of money on the inaugural. i don't think that's very surprising at all. and, you know, waefltwasting mo isn't a crime. nothing illegal about waving
money. i suspect if investigators start combing through how the money is spent, you'll see all the people in that committee because, remember, the people that came into his committee like the people he brought into the government, so many are not the traditional people you >> the ukrainians. >> they are probably stealing money and have personal legal liability. the bigger question is going to wind up being where did the money come from? it is a crime for money to make its way into the committees as a way for foreign money to make its way into campaigns. we have seen one lobbyists and loyalives plead guilty. i suspect that's what they are very much looking at. i think the connected crime will be and what were they getting in return? >> it seems for the committee not to be a pay to play scheme and not to be corrupt, it would be the one of 12 organizations. it wasn't.
the "wall street journal" said last month that the criminal investigation that we alluded to wrote this. according to the tax filings, the top paid venter was the product led by miss wal kof. the company which california record shows 45 days before the inauguration was paid $25.8 million, the largest paid to a vendor. >> the times seems to advance the understanding and today according to people with direct knowledge, she was known to have senior officials fired, brandishing a cell phone and saying she would text mrs. trump or ivanka and conveying a sense of authority. she seems like another person who may not be a household name, but like michael cohen may be a
window. >> they wouldn't know the rules and regulations. my favorite statistic is not that they spent twice as much as barack obama or george bush, but of that $107 million, they had to write off $6.4 million for hotel reservations that people didn't occupy. didn't we just elect a president? isn't he an inn keeper or hotel keeper? doesn't he know about this business? the ineptitude or confidence goes into the areas he's supposed to be an expert in. >> it seems to cement even if you can't follow the particulars. they seem to cement and confirm the narrative that everything trump touches is corrupt. >> they're do and while people are having a hard time figuring the russia investigation and all of the entry, they don't have a hard time figuring out that and people took that money and andent it in bad ways. i think from the campaign to the
inaugural to the executive branch is an entire operation of people who are takers and people who are essentially taking money that doesn't belong to them and spending it in ways they want. i think the american people do understand that. >> i do, too. we will sneak in the very last break. don't go anywhere. we'll be right back. break. don't go anywhere. we'll be right back. or your digestion... so why wouldn't you take something for the most important part of you... your brain. with an ingredient originally discovered in jellyfish, prevagen has been shown in clinical trials to improve short-term memory. prevagen. healthier brain. better life.
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a brand-new story out in the last few minutes when the "wall street journal" previews michael cohen's testimony from the next month. he will tell the story of what it's like to work for a ma mad man and why he did it for so long. he is going to say things that will give you chills. elise, we know that donald trump is more triggered by michael cohen, he called that raid of his office on his home an attack on the nation. advisers who could tell them what a real attack on the nation looks like. michael cohen going public. which we know for donald trump is the arena that really hurts him. >> michael cohen has nothing to lose. he's going to prison and he knows it. >> he can only gain. >> my favorite michael cohen move to trigger trump was getting into page six that he was meeting with a producer about telling his story on the big screen. you have to give michael cohen points at this stage.
he is really trying to hit him where it hurts. >> i think it's called trolling. >> the other thing that's powerful, the mueller probe doesn't want him to talk about all of this. michael cohen can talk about the stuff that the american people understand. giving hush money to pornographic movie stars and all of that really sordid stuff. . >> in danger not only with the media, but adversaries in congress, this is where he seems to be in danger with his base. russia is a far away foreign adversary. even nato is maybe -- not that it's hard to understand, but hard to understand how you hurt this country making shifts in foreign policy. super easy to understand how you have a seedy guy do seedy things on your behalf.
>> the michael cohen story is like a soap opera. it's not a spy novel where it's tough to follow. the american people will latch on to this. there will be a moment where for some people, this is not the president that i voted for where his private self will come to bear with his public self. people are not going to like that. it's not going to be easily dismissed. michael cohen was so close to him for so long and he doesn't have anything to lose right now. >> the president's closest allies think these cases represent the gravest legal threat to the president. >> one of the most interesting things is that he is apparently being told not to talk about the details of his cooperation with the mueller probe. we haven't heard of him getting instructions from the southern district of new york. that may help answer this question for a while. the southern district thinks the president committed a crime. michael cohen can provide
evidence. they can't indict the president. what do they do? they have to find a way to get that evidence to congress. maybe michael cohen testifying and talking about everything he knows doesn't hurt the investigation and maybe it's their way to get the evidence to the body that can hold him accountable. >> that's on february 7th. i know where i will be. that does it our hour. chuck is just across the studio from me. >> the magic of television. they think we are in separate studios, which i'm waving. >> if it's tuesday, which bill barr should we believe? good evening. i'm chuck todd in new york. richard nixon said the supreme