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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  January 16, 2019 8:00pm-9:01pm PST

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not to incriminate him. and then rudy giuliani went on cnn to say "crime isn't even illegal." >> seth meyers' impression of rudy giuliani gets tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight, what did rudy giuliani just say about the trump campaign and collusion with the russians? it's a jaw dropper. it may take a bit to react to this one. also tonight, with the state of our union shut down, now there's a fight over shutting down the state of the union address until the government is back up and running again. four americans are killed in an isis-related suicide attack in syria. and after that attack the vice president says publicly isis has been defeated. and the president who insists he's been tough on russia and the ambassador who says that's just not true and someone has to account for what trump and putin talked about. all of it as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a wednesday
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night. well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 727 of the trump administration. day 26 of our other tally, this government shutdown which will roll into day 27 at the end of this hour. there was a lot of news but no movement on the shutdown today, and we'll get to all of that in a moment. but first, that sound you may have heard about two hours ago, especially here on the east coast, that was the sign of goalposts being moved. rudy giuliani appeared on cnn tonight and talked about the russians, about collusion, and the trump campaign. >> you just misstated my position. i never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign -- >> yes, you have. >> i have not. i said the president of the united states. there is not a single bit of evidence the president of the united states committed the only crime he could commit here, conspired with the russians to hack the dnc. >> only thing we can say here is
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that happened. and we'll talk about that in a moment. not counting this now existential threat the russia investigation poses to this presidency, this government shutdown has become the most intractable political crisis for this white house, which has pitted them of course against the formidable new house speaker nancy pelosi. this morning the president reupped his usual strategy of calling out the democrats. "it is becoming more and more obvious that the stand by for capital letter radical democrats are a party of open borders and crime. they want nothing to do with the major humanitarian crisis on our southern border." house speaker nancy pelosi then made a power play taking aim at something very valuable to the president and that is a public platform. pelosi sent a letter over to the white house asking trump to delay his state of the union address, citing concerns about security during this ongoing shutdown. and we quote. "unless government reopens this week, i suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your state of the union address
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in writing to the congress on january 29th." the speaker was asked about her decision while on the hill today. >> on the strength of the statement of the secretary of homeland security about all of the resources that are needed to prepare for a state of the union address, which is called an event of special security. >> does the -- >> no, this is a housekeeping matter in the congress of the united states so that we can honor the responsibility of the invitation we extended to the president. he can read it from the oval office if he wants. >> the white house has not responded to the speaker of the house, but homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen countered that dhs and the secret service "are fully prepared to support and secure the state of the union."
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in have be there have been some efforts to stop all this. a bipartisan group from the house met with trump and white house aides at the white house today. politico was first to report today that a bipartisan group in the senate is planning to send trump a letter offering to work on a border security package. interesting wording. if the government reopens. senator lindsey graham has been talking to his friend the president about this effort. >> i told the president based on doing this for a while that the best play is to sit down with a bipartisan group in the senate, see if we can meet your priorities and do things that democrats want and we all can agree to, get a big vote in the senate, and i think the house follows. the only way forward is some kind of bipartisan proposal coming out of the senate. >> however, there's now this. tonight the "washington post" is reporting the white house has been "urging republican senators to hold off on signing the bipartisan letter." associated press reporter jill colvin, who joins us in just a moment, has been covering all the political maneuvering. she and her colleagues report
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that in a conference call yesterday trump told supporters, and we quote, "we're going to stay out for a long time if we have to. we'll be out for a long time. people are very impressed with how well government is working with the circumstances that we're under." that does underscore his past comments on government shutdowns and how much he has become associated with this particular one. >> when the government is -- they talk about the government shutdown, they're going to be talking about the president of the united states. who is the president at that time? they're not going to be talking who the head of the house was, the head of the senate. >> we have to close down our government, we're building that wall. >> so i would have no problem doing a shutdown. it's time we had proper border security. >> this would be a very good time to do a shutdown. >> i am proud to shut down the government for border security. so i will take the mantle. i will be the one to shut it down. >> does the buck stop with you over this shutdown? >> the buck stops with everybody. >> so you get the drift there.
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today "the new york times" reports that a typical federal worker has already missed $5,000 in pay from the shutdown. air traffic controllers are among the hundreds of thousands of employees who are not being paid but are still on the job. just yesterday a judge denied a request from unions to force the government to pay them. earlier on this network one air traffic controller in atlanta described what it's been like to have to work during this shutdown. >> it's a new kind of stress we're not used to dealing with. and it's leading to people not sleeping. it's leading to people being upset at work. everybody at work -- i was at work this morning and yesterday. everybody looks like they lost their best friend. it is not a pleasant place to be. >> with that let's bring in our lead-off panel on a wednesday night. john heilemann, msnbc national affairs analyst. he's also co-author of "game change" and co-host of "the circus" on showtime, soon to return to the air. a.b. stoddard, columnist and associate editor at real clear politics. and jill colvin, we mentioned earlier, white house reporter for the associated press.
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john, i'd like to start with you, but of course if you look away for five minutes around here there's breaking news. so let's go to "the new york times" quote first. maggie haberman and annie karni on the board. "we are getting crushed, mr. trump told his acting chief of staff mick mulvaney after watching some recent cocoverage shutdown according to one person familiar with the conversation. why can't we get a deal?" and the "washington post" is board about trump versus pelosi. privately one adviser has said trump has complained about the quotes he reads from pelosi about him in newspapers but has said he's impressed by her political savvy." are things getting a little ragged tonight? >> seems like it. the president is often deluded and sometimes confused and often not really a great judge of the dynamics of things. we are getting crushed is what they call a moment of clarity i believe in the language of recovery. maybe it will lead to something. maybe it was just a momentary outburst. but we are getting crushed is exactly what's happening. and the way that nancy pelosi
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right now is -- she's like torturing the president today. she is using her power. she is not just flexing muscles for the sake of it but -- i mean, this is a move of exceptional cleverness and sadism in a way. there's a little bit of playing peekaboo with a baby kind of thing or a cat with a string except like more brutal given trump's ego and what she's doing. fully justified in doing what she's doing. totally understanding the power the speaker of the house has to rescind an invitation to the president of the united states. something i'm sure the president did not even know could happen and yet here it is today. and it gives you a sense who is right now in a situation like this where you're in a stalemate. in politics and every other kind of competition, who is behaving with confidence? who thinks they're winning? she understands that she is crushing him. and he apparently, at least in certain moments according to this "new york times" story, recognizes that it is in fact exactly that is happening to him. >> hey, jill colvin, john has just invoked cats and babies. let me give you a baseball metaphor. was this a brushback pitch?
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are they still back on their heels? have they yet to react on the state of the union politics? >> no, incredibly we're more than 15 hours now since nancy pelosi issued that letter, really unexpectedly, surprising the white house, and we have yet to hear any reaction from anyone in that building. not a single tweet from the president. the only response we've heard is from the homeland security secretary pushing back against the idea that the secret service and dhs are not prepared to host the speech and saying that in fact they would have able to provide security for that to happen. the president of course can still choose to deliver a speech somewhere else, not in front of a joint session of congress. this has been the tradition now for decades. you know, can decide to hold it somewhere on the white house property. he could decide to hold a rally somewhere, which is something he did back during the campaign when he chose not to participate in one of the iowa debates and instead he held this big fund-raiser for veterans trying to kind of create another moment
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about him. but the idea of taking this moment away from the president, you know, this is a very special kind of sacred moment in american public life every year where the president kurnlgsz appears before that joint session of congress, you have members from both sides of the aisle, you have guests, you have the supreme court justices all standing there. it's a very rare opportunity that the president has that pelosi has so deftly tried to deny him here. >> a.b., as i always say, this is not a president who arrived in the residence and said tell me about when churchill was living here and planning out world war ii with fdr and that time he came out of the tub and was walking down the hall. that is to say, it is not his thing. he is not a reader of american history or the institutional history of the job. that said, was this a miscalculation starting at the top of the effect of a shutdown this big? >> oh, yes. it's become so clear that the
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trump team believed, at least the people that get listened to -- maybe others with more experience tried to weigh in and were rebuffed. believed that all federal workers are democrats who live in washington, d.c. and had no understanding of the fact that federal installations around this country sometimes are in small places with trump voters, where the entire community depends on the salary dollars of federal workers to keep the car mechanic's shifts going, the coffee shop, everything, the grocery stores. people are in the millions suffering. it is not these 800,000 workers we keep talking about. it's a ripple effect everywhere. and the economic numbers that came in today double or much worse. they didn't even factor this in. and so he's -- it is a moment of clarity that he actually is admitting this is so bananas and out of control. and what's so ironic about him saying why can't we get a deal is there is literally nothing on the table for democrats.
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this is not a deal. it's a demand. this is complete ken ipgs fit. if they don't give in with some kind of amnesty? kind of pain, something for the dreamers, there's no negotiation. he's saying oh, i have this number, why don't you come closer to it. that's not a negotiation. >> and watch me -- >> every dollar in your pocket. every dollar in your pocket that donald trump -- >> a little light right now. >> whatever it is. every coin in your pocket. i bet you every dollar in your pocket that donald trump does not know that air traffic controllers are federal employees and that there would be this possibility that there would be chaos at the airports eventually. and he really doesn't know that for a lot of reasons. he probably hasn't been in an actual airport apart from a private aviation airport in a long time. also he has not read the history as you point out because you would know a lot of things if you read the history, you'd know about ronald reagan and the air traffic controllers. but i'm sure he had no idea what
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the ripple effects of this would be, to go to a.b.'s point, what the politics of this would look like. it's not about washington, d.c. it's about a whole bunch of ripple effects that are going to spread out along the country for many reasons he's going to lods this battle that's one of them. >> thank you for the deep grab on the patco strike which some of us remember. i'm going to quote jill colvin again. you and your colleagues write about exactly what a.b. was talking p. kevin hassett, chairman of the white house council of economic advisers, said tuesday, this is the important part, "the shutdown is slowing growth more than predicted. hassett told reporters the white house is doubling its estimate of the strain on the economy of the shutdown, now calculates that it is slowing growth by about a tenth of a percentage point a week." that adds up. and when you have jamie dimon at jpmorgan saying yesterday this could zero out economic growth at net zero, that gets your attention. >> absolutely. and this is the kind of thing that really gets to the president. he is somebody who at every occasion, at every turn points
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to the economy as one of the reasons why his presidency is successful, constantly pointing to the stock market when it's doing well. of course ignoring it when it's not doing well. but when this begins to chip away at the economic growth as trump's own economic forecasters are saying it's doing, that begins to hit home with the president. and what you've seen, and you guys alluded to this a little bit, but what you've seen is this white house taking steps right now to try doing everything they can to try to minimize the impact of this shutdown, doing things that no administration had thought was legal in the past, doing things like bringing back irs employees to begin to process tax refunds, taking other steps that they can to try to minutize the impact, sort of pretending, doing everything they can to basically pretend that the shutdown isn't happening as they begin to feel the sting and as you begin to see poll after poll after poll showing that the american public is blaming the president, is blaming the republican party for the shutdown. >> lightning round.
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60 seconds each. both a.b. and then john. rudy giuliani. is this the start of the heisman for manafort? are they about to say he was with us for a short period of time but boy, it looks like he was lining his own pockets and working his own interests while we were sneer who mentioned collusion on the campaign? i don't think we objected to that. >> i couldn't wait till we got to the collusion is cool chapter of this saga. but here we are. yeah. they've long ago thrown paul manafort under the bus. and then trump tried to get him out from under the bus and said he was a great man, he felt so badly for him because he was so brave. i don't know what is about to drop but rudy giuliani has a way of prefacing these big bombshells of news with a giant word salad. and it could mean something big. >> i'm looking forward to the moment when rudy giuliani is saying i never said that the trump children didn't collude with russia. that's the next thing. soon he'll be trying to wall off just the president and only on certain wednesdays or odd-numbered -- during the odd months of the year. that's what we're going to get to. >> have you become deadened? were you not affected by what
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you heard from him tonight? >> i was -- >> no jury would convict you. it happens to all of us. >> i was affected but affected in a way that -- you know, affected not necessarily in the way he intended to affect me. >> our thanks to our friends, john heilemann, a.b. stoddard, jill colvin. really appreciate you helping us start off our conversation tonight. coming um, isis claims responsibility for the terrorist suicide bomb that killed four americans today. hours later, mike pence goes in a public setting and declares isis has been defeated. and later, you've heard the white house line donald trump says no president has been tougher on russia? our former ambassador to russia would like to disagree. he's standing by as "the 11th hour" is just getting under way tonight. will it feel like the wheend of a journey?p working, or the beginning of something even better? when you prepare for retirement with pacific life, you can create a lifelong income... so you have the freedom to keep doing
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this was the truly bad news today. isis claiming responsibility for the deadliest attack ever on our u.s. forces in syria. and fair warning, the video's hard to watch. it was at a restaurant frequented by americans. obviously thought to be safe. two u.s. service members were killed along with two civilian pentagon contractors. this was a bomb vest they believe. it was powerful. dozens of locals were also killed and wounded. somewhat unbelievably. this is what mike pence said hours afterward of the attack. >> thanks to the leadership of this commander in chief and the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces, we're now actually able to begin to hand off the
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fight against isis in syria to our coalition partners, and we are bringing our troops home. the caliphate has crumbled, and isis has been defeated. >> this is what the president said when he announced the withdrawal of u.s. forces to the surprise of many in the pentagon. >> we've really stepped it up and we have won against isis. we've beaten them and we've beaten them badly. we've taken back the land. and now it's time for our troops to come back home. >> but the view on the ground we must tell you is much different. here is a portion of what our chief foreign correspondent richard engel reported for us tonight inside northern syria. >> reporter: these areas here on the front line are completely devastated, and u.s. and kurdish-led forces are still fighting against isis. there are as many as 4,000 isis fighters still in this area. hardly mission accomplished. >> isis has not been defeated. the president has yet to directly address this american
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loss of life. he did meet with republican members of the senate this afternoon who said the president remains committed to withdrawing american forces. well, with us to talk about it tonight, malcolm nance, a veteran of naval intelligence, special ops, homeland security with 35 years working in counterterrorism overseas and in this country. malcolm, i want to make two things clear. number one, we're going to watch four caskets with american flags come home. number two, it's germane and important to say that mike pence has a kid in the military. i also want to play for you what senator lindsey graham said. we'll start our conversation on the other side. >> anytime a president does something that people on the ground are rattled by, it usually comes back to bite us. this is the beginning of what happened in iraq. when it got to be seen that we're going to start withdrawing all of our forces, people went back to their corners and they started hedging their bets. so my advice to the administration is i understand
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why you want to reevaluate our footprint everywhere, it makes sense, but take this as a warning sign of what could be coming. >> malcolm nance, you are the expert. what's the truth on the ground? what should the u.s. be doing? >> well, what the u.s. should be doing right now, certainly the forces who were in the northern syrian city of manbij and our operational support areas up there, should be raising their profile to be prepared for a significant number of attacks. the attack that occurred in manbij today was an isis demonstration attack. they needed to demonstrate the viability of their now clandestine organization. they have lost terrain in syria. they do not occupy any more terrain except for a couple of small pockets out in the east. they went underground and they have become what we used to know as al qaeda. and so they are a clandestine organization which are going to carry out suicide bombing, terrorist attacks, step up
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assassination attacks, mortar and rocket attacks, wherever the americans are. with president trump making the announcement that we were withdrawing from syria and isis was defeated, he has unleashed a new way -- a new branch to a certain extent of isis that is isis's clandestine service and terrorist arm, which will harry us all the way out the door. >> as a deployed veteran of reecht wars no one needs to remind you that it's tougher to bomb an idea, it's tougher to root out a movement, and isn't that a factor here? >> it absolutely is a factor. i've written three books on al qaeda and isis ideology and how to kill it. it is an idea that you cannot kill using conventional methods. you can shoot a man, you can drop a bomb. but if you cannot root out the belief system, this cultist belief that they are the executors of god's will on earth and that no matter what you do to them right down to the
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individual last soldier, they will fight to meet whatever goals that their leadership has imposed on them. right now that is viability of their ideology in a covert setting with maximum american and syrian and kurdish pressure on top of them they are acting like balls of mercury. you squish, it it just breaks up, goes into a million separate small places. but the moment we lift that pressure tlou our withdrawal, they will consolidate again and they will take on our -- the force that's were supporting us, the syrians -- syrian kurds, that is. >> you're being modest. you've also written books about russia. so i'm going to pivot a little bit but you can handle it. as the author of books on that subject, what in the recent news has knocked you over? was it the president's reported efforts to remove witness accounts of his conversations with putin? >> well, that was very
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significant news, but it was just one small bit of evidence along the arc of belief that donald trump is beholden to moscow that we've been discussing on this channel for almost 2 1/2 years. the thing that really bowled me over was the adamancy he had amongst his staff, with his staff, to remove the united states from nato. that is just madness. you know, we talked about this when he was in helsinki last year. we had heard indications of this when he met with the prime minister of sweden and had told them that he wanted the united states on the same footing as sweden, which is not in nato but cooperating with nato. he is fulfilling the strategic objectives not of the russian federation and the ex-kgb officer that leads russia, vladimir putin, but of the soviet union. what world war ii couldn't do and the entire post-war cold war couldn't do donald trump is determined to do on his own. and the question we need to find
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out is what is making this man tick to the point where he will support soviet communist and now modern russian oligarchic or -- i'm sorry. a dictator of the russian federation above the american constitution and the entire atlantic order since world war ii. >> malcolm nance, always such a pleasure to have you on. thank you, sir, for joining us on this wednesday night. coming up for us, more on the president's personal lawyer's surprising take just tonight on whether members of the trump campaign ever colluded with russia. two former federal prosecutors standing by when we continue. coe factory-trained technicians. or it isn't. it's backed by an unlimited mileage warranty, or it isn't. for those who never settle, it's either mercedes-benz certified pre-owned,
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so welcome back. as we mentioned earlier, president trump's personal attorney rudy giuliani told cnn tonight that he never said there was no collusion between the trump campaign and russia. he also took time as he usually does to attack robert mueller. when he was asked about recent news on the russia investigation, there was this. >> he just put out that your campaign chairman was playing with the russians. >> but we don't -- that isn't what he's -- we don't need a special counsel to investigate a campaign chairman. we have him because the president of the united states is involved. >> you do when the president of the united states seems to be -- >> so let him -- >> -- a little hyperactive about the probe and it may not be fair and the guy who's at the head of the a.g. at the time is his
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campaign guy. >> i think it's the most inappropriate investigation i've ever seen conducted on an ethical level that's disgusting. >> i just wish you all could have seen mimi rocah's face while giuliani was talking. with us to talk about all of it mimi rocah here in new york, former assistant u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york, now a distinguished fellow in criminal justice at the pace university school of law. and we're also joined by another friend of ours, former u.s. attorney joyce vance, who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor. joyce, it's no fair that you're remote and mimi has home field advantage. so i'll start with you. your reaction to what you just heard. >> it seems like giuliani's intent on both moving the goalposts and narrowing them because he also said that the only crime trump could possibly commit would be crimes related to hacking. and of course we know that that's just not true. but every time giuliani comes out with this kind of a word salad it seems like he always
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does this right before a big story drops. so you have to wonder what's coming next. clearly it seems like he's implying there will be proof of some kind of collusion between folks in the campaign, maybe not yet the president, and russia. >> mimi rocah, same question with an additional caveat. what's it like to watch that from inside the special counsel's office? provided they have televisions on. >> i mean, their face probably looked a lot like mine, which is you can't believe what you're hearing. first of all, he's factually wrong. as joyce pointed out, it is factually and legally wrong. that is not the only crime that is in play here, so to speak. there are at least five i can think of including, you know, a sort of bribery type of conspiracy, you know, quid pro quo, and there's been already lots of evidence about that. there is accepting money or something of value from a foreign country to a campaign. he's also wrong that the special counsel investigation isn't
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about investigating the campaign manager. >> of course. >> yes. it would be enormous if it turns out that the president colluded with russia, and there's already some indications of that. but this is about whether a presidential campaign was not just colluding but conspiring in a criminal way with russia. and what he does he doesn't just pre-empt what's about to come out, he also is -- he's playing defense, he's reacting to the fact that what came out in the past week, seems like a year ago, was this evidence about manafort giving polling data to russian oligarchs at a time when they were impacting our election or trying to interfere in our election. that is collusion under any definition. is it criminal conspiracy? you know, we will see. so i think the special counsel's office is probably shaking their head somewhat in disgust at how much he is willing to distort the facts and how little he seems to understand how broad conspiracy law is, frankly. >> hey, joyce, let's go way back in history to yesterday.
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the confirmation hearing for william barr. what was going to be our sole focus tonight before we saw mr. giuliani on cnn. and i want to read to you a tweet from the noted harvard law school professor lawrence tribe. he says, "barr seems to believe that the special counsel regs mean that a mueller decision not to indict trump by virtue of the year 2000 office of legal counsel memo, would justify barr's bottling up any report about trump's criminal or impeachable offenses. that's legally dubious and constitutionally horrible." joyce, as you know, people came away with a generally favorable view of mr. barr and having said the right things in their view yesterday about his willingness to protect the work of his friend of 30 years, bob mueller. but it was whether or not he was going to protect the work product, the report, assuming there will be one. do you share professor tribe's
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concern? >> well, i think it's an interesting system, brian. what we all hoped we would hear would be an unequivocable commitment from barr, he would release the report with proper redactions relating to information about ongoing investigations. and that's not what he said. in fact, it's not entirely clear what his views are because he acknowledged that he wasn't fully studied up and that he would consult with rosenstein and mueller and see what their understanding of the regs is. hopefully, his views will come more into line with professor tribe's, which i think are clearly warranted by the regulations and the commentary that was written at the time they were brought on board, which makes it fully permissible if it's in the public interest for the attorney general to share the special counsel's report. i can't imagine anything that's more in the public interest than this report. >> and mimi, this is a conversation that's been at least a day since you and i had last. we're all assuming there's going
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to be a report because those of us old enough to remember the starr report and the 9/11 commission, we're used to that government bound document. but i also know that mr. mueller has been careful to release an ongoing narrative of his work product at the same time. do you share these same concerns? >> i do. i do share these concerns. we've all talked for so many nights and days about the concern about mueller being fired or the investigation being impeded. it sounds here that the main concern that i have and others are having is not that barr would do that but that as you say the work product, the information that we've all been so hungry for understandably won't get out to the american public. and yes, mueller has been diligent about releasing information in documents that they file with the court. and i think there's good reason to think there will be some more of that. but i do think at the end of the day we need this packaged up in a way that is understandable and digestible, not just in sort of
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chapters here and there. and i think that unlike a usual prosecution that is part of the goal and objective of the special counsel investigation. it is to inform the public and congress because one of the issues here is whether the presidential, as professor tribe says, has committed impeachable offenses. and that makes this a very different situation from where you're just looking at whether someone can and should be prosecuted criminally. >> two terrific lawyers who we're always happy are of counsel to us. and that's mimi rocah and joyce vance. thank you both so much for joining us tonight as always. and coming um, putin's mysterious meetings with the president who insists nobody's been tougher on russia. but a democratic effort to keep him tough fails in the u.s. senate. the entire story when we come back. metal vibration therapy. [heavy guitar lick]
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probably nobody's been tougher to russia than donald trump. >> nobody's been tougher on russia than i have. and you can -- and i know you're nodding yes because everyone agrees. >> russia will tell you there has been nobody tougher than donald trump. >> whoever it is in russia, they're saying oh, gee, do we wish that trump was not the victor in that election. we have been far tougher on russia than anybody. >> well, our next guest begs to differ with the president. indeed, he's written a piece in the "washington post" called "sorry, but trump is not tough on russia." in it ambassador michael mcfaul exposes the divide between what the trump administration has done about russia and what trump does. and as questions about trump's relationship with russia continue, the senate is wrestling with its own stance. tonight the senate failed to advance a bill that would stop the trump administration from loosening sanctions on a russian
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oligarch and proven ally oleg deripaska whose name has popped up in the mueller investigation vis-a-vis manafort. just yesterday when asked about the possibility of this bill succeeding the senate minority leader chuck schumer told rachel maddow he's optimistic. >> i know that there are a whole bunch of republicans who wanted to vote yes and mcconnell and some of his leadership put a lot of pressure on them to vote no. but now that i think they've seen that 11 others have voted this way, yeah, i think we have a real shot. >> ultimately, only those 11 republicans broke ranks and sided with the democrats on this bill. not enough to reach the 60-vote threshold to advance the bill. with us to talk about it, the aforementioned michael mcfaul, former u.s. ambassador to russia. his latest book is called "from cold war to hot peace: an american ambassador in putin's russia." and it's a terrific read. ambassador, i know you're not a political analyst but let's start right there with chuck schumer. how do members of the senate go
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home and defend a vote not to strengthen sanctions or not to loosen them on a russian oligarch whose name is in the news just about every night? >> brian, i was really surprised, i have to say. i saw the vote yesterday, you know, and i think we should applaud those 11 republicans, that in the name of the american national interest moved in a bipartisan way to stop the lifting of these sanctions. and let me just be clear. it's on the companies that deripaska owns, not deripaska himself. the trump administration has never in my mind given a clear explanation for why they're lifting these sanctions. usually, a country is sanctioned, a government is sanctioned, and then they change their behavior and the sanctions are lifted. right? that's the normal standard operating procedure. putin hasn't changed his behavior in any way, shape, or form. so i really do not understand what's the national security
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rationale for this. and for the party of reagan, i just want to remind you that it wasn't that long ago, we're not talking about ancient history, just even a few years ago it used to be that the republican party was the one we thought was tough on national security interest and yet two more of them couldn't join, you know, the resolution today with a vote for cloture. in particular i was struck by senator romney. you may remember back in 2012 he said russia is a great enemy of ours. and he has since talked about that. and i thought he's right about that. and yet today he failed to vote in favor of keeping these sanctions in place. >> in fact, the old phrase "evil empire" comes to mind, although it was about the ussr. it's been theorized, ambassador, this is a good week to be the kremlin because you have brexit collapsing, you have american on american, our own government is
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in paralysis, and a report the president has discussed pulling us from nato. on that i want to show you this. should he decide or try to do that, it is very clear he's already getting air support to give him optionality from fox news. >> vladimir putin runs russia now. he does not plan to invade western europe. he can't. so why do we still have nato? well, nobody really knows. remaining in nato comes with significant obligations. in the 1990s our leaders decided it would be a wise idea to promise countries like latvia and estonia that we would use nuclear weapons to protect them if they ever had a problem with russia. why did we do that? well, who knows? the details are lost to history. >> ambassador, start wherever you wish there. >> first i'm going to send tucker a copy of my book. second, i'm going to remind him that it was george w. bush, republican president george w. bush that expanded nato to those countries, and that argument was very simple. we want to see peace and
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security and prosperity in europe free and whole. and we have benefited tremendously from that peace. people are forgetting that peace is the absence of war. we know what europe looks like without nato. and secondly, i just have to say, very concretely, some of those countries, estonia, for instance, lives have been lost. estonians have died fighting next to american soldiers. and they died not because they were attacked. they died because we were attacked on september 11th. and so for him to flippantly say, well, why do we have it? you know, just remember our history and remember who our allies are. we are better off. this is not a partisan statement. we as america are better off with allies than going it alone. history has proven that. let's keep to that strategy. >> because we haven't heard from you, this is a tall order. but give me the 45-second version of what our viewers should worry about when they
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read reports that the president was after the notes of his conversations with putin. >> it makes no sense to me. i worked for president obama. i was oftentimes a note taker in those meetings. and you need those notes to tell everybody in the government what the policy is. and the fact that the president continues to hide what he says to putin suggests that that disconnect between trump and the trump administration on russia is real. and i'm worried about what has been promised in those one-on-one meetings. >> the pride of montana who's now in california by way of moscow, ambassador michael mcfaul. always a pleasure, ambassador. thank you for coming on. and coming up for us, the fake news that was meant to be exactly that. when we come back.
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let's say here at the outset, no one really thought it was real, but it was enough to get your attention until you looked a little closer. fake copies of "the washington post" were passed around outside the white house and other parts of washington. the papers were dated may 1st, 2019. among the headlines, "un-presidented." trump hastily departs white house ending crisis. and celebrations break out worldwide as trump era ends and president pence begins clipped duck term. one must say that carefully. the real "washington post" put out a statement that said, "there are fake print editions, no kidding, of "the washington post" being distributed around downtown washington, d.c. and we are aware of a website trying to mimic "the post's". they are not post-products and we are looking into this. then the real "washington post" got down to business, did some great reporting on what was behind the fake papers. a group that describes itself as a trickster activist collective called the yes men said it
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produced the bogus newspapers and website which went offline wednesday afternoon. uses the pseudonym andy bichlbaum said he was one of the founders of the yes men and the paper was intended to provide grassroots tips for how to -- went on to say the group printed 25,000 copies. he estimated about 10,000 of the papers were distributed. all at a cost believed to be in the neighborhood of 40 grand, give or take. coming up for us, americans coming to the aid of federal workers. our federal workers with zero income while washington fights and our government remains shut down. vernment remains shut down
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♪ ♪ means to fight the hardest battle, which any human being can fight and never stop. does this sound dismal? it isn't. ♪ ♪ it's the most wonderful life on earth. ♪ ♪ let us go back to work. let us do our jobs. last thing before we go tonight is a quick update on the human toll of this now longest ever government shutdown. there are, of course, and we need to say this, federal workers who support the president's effort to build a wall or a barrier or a fence and who are now struggling financially. and there are federal workers who want no part of any of it, and they are struggling financially while feeling
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victimized. this can't go on forever. wait until air traffic controllers and tsa agents decide they must get other jobs to pay their bills, as some of them already have. for now, there are federal workers relying on the kindness of strangers, donations, free meals, food banks, people who never saw themselves as recipients of any kind of charity, and people who need to feed their families. here now some federal workers out of work, some of whom are volunteering to feed others. >> it's pretty demoralizing. you know, and i feel like kind of a pawn in a political game and totally powerless. this is something so much greater than me that, you know, i really feel like we have just absolutely no ability to do anything about it. >> mr. trump, could you please get us back to work? i know you say it's a democrat thing, but it's a people thing. i'm from southeast d.c.
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and all us mothers and fathers work hard, and all we need for you to do is open the government back up so we can get back to work and take care of our families. >> my kids are pretty worried. i have a 16-year-old who is trying to work extra hours and give me his paychecks even though i reassure him we're going to be okay. i've been lucky so far. i'm good through another pay period. i got a loan from my credit union. >> you know when i'm angry? when i have to pay a bill and i don't have the money to pay it because i am doing the right thing, i'm getting up every day, i'm going to work, i'm doing my job knowing that i'm not getting a check, you know? that's unfair. that hurts. >> as you may have heard, one air trafficker controller said on this network today he's used to stress on the job, but this is a different kind, this is a deep uncertainty. and that is our broadcast on a wednesday night. thank you so very much for being
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here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york. happy to have you with us here tonight. we're going to be joined tonight by kirsten gillibrand, senator kirsten gillibrand. we have a lot to talk with her about. she is going to be live in studio with me. tonight is going to be her first tv interview since she announced last night that she is in fact running for president. everybody's supposed to use that slightly euphemistic legal ease language of forming an exploratory committee to explore the possibility of running for president, and legally, technically, that is what everybody is doing at this stage of the

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