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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  February 7, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PST

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stronger that people can't even believe it. >> you're absolutely right, mr. president, people can't even believe it. that's tonight's last word, "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. tonight, new details on what paul manafort tried to conceal from mueller and the feds, including a russian who manafort was allegedly trying to protect. after threats back and forth, we learn tonight that the acting attorney general will appear before the house judiciary committee tomorrow. just hours from now, one of his last days on the job. a new inside look tonight at the trump inauguration and why it is of interest to the feds of the southern district of new york. and jeff besos says he's getting blackmailed and extorted by a long time friend of the president. the 11th hour begins now. good evening once again from
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our nbc headquarters here in new york. there is brand new information coming out of the mueller investigation about one of the big names, the big targets. former trump campaign chairman paul manafort. the revelations are coming from the transcript of a closed door court hearing that took place early they are week. kind of thing that's published all the time but not quite like this. during that hearing, mueller's prosecutors explained in detail why they're accusing manafort of lying to investigators while he was under a cooperation agreement with the feds. the document has more than its share of redactions, those lines blacked out to protect secrecy. even so, there are clues throughout. mueller's team appears to be focused on repeated contact between manafort and konstantin kilimnik. he's a long time business associate with ties to russian intelligence. according to this 143 page transcript, prosecutors accuse manafort of lying about several
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of their meetings and contacts. that includes one meeting, august 2nd, 2016, which would have been weeks after the gop convention in cleveland. prosecutors say the meeting goes to the larger view of what we think is going on. and what we think the motive here is. this goes very much to the heart of what the special counsel's office is investigating. that meeting, and what happened at that meeting is of significance to the special counsel. we get it. any indication of the topic of that meeting has been blacked out. the document does indicate that ex-manafort business partner rick gates who served on the trump campaign, who was also cooperating with the feds was at that meeting as well. and he and manafort left separately. the document says it was gates who told prosecutors about manafort sharing that 2016 polling data, with of all people, kilimnik. it says that kilimnik met with manafort in january 2017 in
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person in washington, d.c., when kilimnik was here for the inauguration. we've also learned from these new documents that even after trump had won the white house, manafort went back to working for politicians in the ukraine in 2017. as a consultant for a potential candidate. that work continued even after he was indicted in that same year. within these transcripts, there's also a reference to sanctions against russia, as the issue of sanctions appears to impart some of the meetings between trump campaign associates and the russians, there continue to be questions about the president's willingness to enforce sanctions while in office. it's a lot to get to. we have a terrific big three to start us off on a thursday night. barrett berger a federormer fed prosecutor. michael schmidt correspondent for the new york times and jeremy bash, former chief of staff at the cia and pentagon,
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former counsel to house intel committee. michael, i'd like to begin with you, after reading this quote from this transcript about the lies. this is the feds talking. the defendant, paul manafort, coming into this, had lied to the department of justice, had lied to banks, had lied to his own defense counsel, had violated court orders, had lied to his tax preparers, had lied to his bookkeepers, in other words, there were so many lies. michael, you among others always talk about the rolling slow motion story that mueller is telling in court documents, in each court appearance. what's the takeaway for you tonight, stuff that you didn't know as of this morning? >> well, the lying is the central question of the entire story. are the folks around the president, people that just lie because that's what they've done their entire lives? were they lying to cover up and conceal something? we continue to get clues, like
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the clue we got today about the meeting and rick gates' cooperation. and it's taken a long time for this to sus itself out and get a bigger and larger picture of it. we still don't know the full extent of it, though. there's still a lot here, even from the things that we learned tonight about why was it that manafort who was running the campaign, was taking this polling data to these folks to share it with them? what would actually motivate that? what was truly behind that. and that is the frustrating thing about this story or the intriguing thing, is that we get these little clues, but we don't get the full picture. the central question is unanswered, why is it that they're lying. >> jeremy bash, these ubiquitous russians, all over the place, starting with the russians in cleveland, ohio. this is not something we have seen before in american politics. it's not normal, quoting from one of the prosecutors, i think mr. manafort went out of his way to not provide any evidence that
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could be used with respect to mr. kilimnik. jeremy, why would manafort want to be protecting a guy like kilimnik? >> well, previous to this, brian, manafort had been accused of, and, of course, stood trial and was convicted of financial impropriety, tax evasion, money laundering and failure to register as a foreign agent for the russian federation for his work on behalf of the ukrainian proputin elements. this hearing today, really unveiled that manafort could have also played a central role during the 2016 campaign as a go between between the trump inner circle and the russian federation. that's the way that in some ways the russian federation exerted influence. someone they controlled, someone they paid was a potential agent of influence inside the trump inner circle. also it's the way that they were able to coordinate their efforts
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during the election season. now, this is a very long hearing. it was an evidentiary presentation. the judge actually invited the attorneys to sit down, the hearing was so long. so this in effect was a second trial for manafort on these factual charges. >> barrett, you mentioned to one of our producers today, let's not lose track of the fact that to manafort, this will make the difference between a death sentence in jail, potentially and not. the judge has to decide, was this guy truly trying to cooperate and just having memory issues? or is it as the feds paint it, that he was a serial liar? >> for manafort, the stakes really couldn't be any higher. we know he is now a convicted felon. he was convicted after trial, and then he pled guilty to additional charges. there's no question that he's going to jail. the question right now for the judge is how long. the key issue for this, the -- this judge was trying to wrestle
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with today, is exactly as you framed it. all of these lies that the government is pointing to. were they well crafted intentional lies that were meant to deceive the special counsel's office investigation, and derail it to some extent. or were these instances where somebody was misremembering something that had happened a long time ago. the government presented a pretty compelling case in this hearing as to why these were not just memory lapses. >> you also bored in on the word intelligence in this document. that that was perhaps the initial attractiveness toward doing a deal for manafort with the feds. talk about that. >> something that the prosecutors mentioned in the beginning of the hearing, they were trying to put a little context into why they had entertained these proffer sessions or these precooperation meetings with manafort. and why they decided to sign him up to a cooperation agreement. one of the things the prosecutor said, even though they may not be able to use him as a
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traditional cooperating witness, they were intrigued by the intelligence value manafort could offer. as i read that, it's -- the government, we may not have other people we would be bringing to trial or because of manafort's shady history with lying, we may not be able to put him on the stand, this is something that has valuable information about russia, about the ukraine, and i think they saw him as a potential source of real intel. >> based on your reading, your experience as a fid. do you think it's really possible that manafort had reason or has reason to fear for his safety or the members of his family? >> he may. at this point, manafort is in jail right now, so the prisons do a pretty good job of protecting his safety. but certainly there is the safety of his family out there. this is something the government deals with all the time. he's not unique in the sense that he would have a security threat. we're very used to having to protect people that are cooperating witnesses.
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and they have ways of doing that if it's a real threat. >> michael schmidt, one of the larger stories you've broken in recent memory, had to do with the questions the feds wanted to ask president trump. there was one in there about paul manafort, can you refresh our memory and how today may have filled many some of those blanks? >> there were questions about what the president knew about manafort's efforts to communicate with these russians during the campaign. and what that was all about. but i think another part of this that we're all sort of missing, is that when manafort was telling these lies to mueller's team. there was a back channel between manafort's lawyers and the president's lawyers. and it was giving the president's lawyers a peak into what mueller's team was interested in. and now we see that the consequence of that, manafort's lying of it, is so important. it's this issue that's going to determine whether manafort
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spends the rest of his life in prison. they could see everything that was going on. and that really really bothered and helped deteriorate the relationship between mueller and manafort, and gets us to where we are today. >> jeremy bash, we also saw mention of the p word, pardon. first time in my memory from any kind of mueller court appearance or filing, i'll put it on the screen, prosecutors put forward why manafort may have lied, telling the truth about an unnamed sensitive issue would have negative consequences in terms of the other motive that mr. manafort could have. which is to at least augment his chances for a pardon. and jeremy, when a pard season a part of this, that can confuse everything. >> yeah, because, of course, manafort is probably playing for a pardon given the exposure he has. and he wants to show the president directly in the same way that roger stone has been
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posturing, that i'm tough, i'm not bending or yielding to the prosecutorial pressure here. but that's a dangerous game, if the president engages in a pardon, that could be more fodder for the mueller team to think about the pardon as a tool of obstruction. of course, hands on a silver platter to the house of representatives, an issue to explore the oversight mechanism. in the same way that congress has overseen other presidential pardons. also, if we get to the point down the road, and obviously, we're not there yet, where impeachment is discussed. impeachment is the one thing that can trump unintended -- trump a pardon. >> when you're a fed, bumping up against a possible pardon must be very frustrating? >> yeah, it throws the whole incentive system on its head. so in a cooperation agreement, the cooperating witness has a real incentive to tell the truth, because there are these huge penalties associated with them.
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this is the carrot, they have to tell everything, the good, the bad, if they do that dirty work, they could try to get a reduced sentence. here, where you have this competing element of maybe you'll get a reduced sentence from the court. maybe you'll get a pardon from the president, everything's kind of turned on its head, and the prosecutors mentioned that in this hearing, they said this is one of the reasons they felt that manafort had been holding back, had not been telling the whole truth, he was trying to play his odds and trying to keep the possibility of a pardon open, which is dangerous for a cooperating witness, and absolutely infuriating for the government. >> michael schmidt, do we -- please engage in rampant speculation if you wish. when do you think we will next hear from the mueller effort, did the grand jury sit today for example in washington, when do you think the next utterance will be? >> you sound like my editor. look, we don't know, and speculating about it is hard, it's been very hard to get inside of mueller's head and
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what they're going to do. this clearly looks like something that's still very active, there clearly are still trying to get to the bottom and answer the central questions of this entire thing. as observers that can be frustrating as we sit here and wait on indictments, and wait on developments, and is it going to be friday's coming, does that mean there's an indictment and such. whatever it is, they are moving traditional hardcore white collar investigating, flipping people, gaining their cooperation and moving along, there's a momentum to this that is clear. and look, if you are the president or the people around him, this is still something that you really really really don't like. >> couldn't ask for three better guests on this night of this news coverage. jeremy bash, barrett berger, michael some mit, our thanks to all three of you. coming up, the acting attorney general hours away from taking on tough questions from lawmakers on the hill. as democrats storm across the
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red line for investigations. revealing new details about the trump inauguration from an insider, said to be disgusted with how chaotic and costly it all was. the 11th hour just getting started on this thursday night. to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best to make you everybody else... ♪ ♪ 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. ♪ ♪
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after a stand-off, the chairman of the house judiciary committee confirmed tonight matt whitaker will testify before his committee tomorrow. earlier today, whitaker said he
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would not show up, unless the democrats assured him he wouldn't be subpoenaed. this all started after the democrats agreed to authorize if not issue a subpoena. it looked like the democrats may have overplayed their hand by issuing that threat. whitaker slammed the move as unprecedented. white house said they were playing political games. if he answered questions there would be no need for a sateen in a. and added his concerns over questions could be addressed on a case by case basis. earlier today the president was asked if he should testify. >> he's an outstanding person. if he did testify, he would do very well. >> whitaker has been preparing extensively for this testimony, she writes, a person familiar with whitaker's preparation told the daily beast, he's been gearing up for an intense few hours. they hate this guy so much, the
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source said, referring to the aggressive democrats on the committee, whitaker has gone through multiple practice committee hearings where justice department officials pepper him with questions, the committee democrats may lob. also important here, the committee better hurry, because whitaker has days left on the job. bill bar has passed through the senate judiciary committee vote. once mcconnell calls the vote, he'll likely breeze through full senate confirmation, then he'll get sworn in and become the permanent and actual attorney general for the second time in his career. while whitaker gets to spend more time with his family. with us to talk about it, peter baker, maya wylie, and we welcome to the broadcast ta tal kopan. washington correspondent for the san francisco chronicle. good evening, and welcome to you all. counselor here at the table you
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get to go first, what will you be watching for tomorrow? >> i'll be watching how mr. whittaker dodges the questions he doesn't want to answer. >> will he invoke privilege? >> i think they've already invoked it in the letter they sent in response to congressman ed that letter, where they said, they talked about confidential interests and the fact that the standing principle of executive privilege meant he couldn't be required to answer questions about his communications with donald trump. now, of course, that's up for deba debate. >> how do you ask to get around that? >> if i'm whitaker, what i do is answer the questions i'm willing to answer. say you ask me, did you have conversations with donald trump about the russian investigation? >> yes. >> i say, i had many conversations with donald trump, about many of the operating aspects of the department of
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justice, and i am unwilling to answer specific questions about any one of those investigations with anyone. who knows how he'll ultimately do it, but there are many ways he can give some answer, but not a full answer. i think the reality here is, any fight about his answers is going to take time. because presumably he'll just refuse, and then they have to go to a vote about whether to institute a contempt order. that would then have 20 go to the full floor of the congress. and then to be referred to the u.s. attorney for the district of clom bee yarks who then would decide whether or not it merited a grand jury. >> is it retroactive, because he's likely not to be attorney general past next tuesday or so. >> congress has is a mean in a power. they can subpoena witnesses on anything that is legitimately within their jurisdiction. if i were them, i would argue, and i think they have a
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legitimate argument to say, if in fact the president was doing something to obstruct the lawful investigation that's happening under the reges as an oversight authority, we have the right to question and determine whether we think that's happened. i wouldn't say it would leave him off the hook, it's just very clear he doesn't want to answer these questions, probably because there were some discussions about it with donald trump. the nature of them is different. even the fact of the conversations is going to look very bad. it's definitely in the public interest to know whether they happened. >> peter baker, it is quite likely that during his testimony tomorrow, acting a.g. whitaker will be thinking of viewer number one. since you cover viewer number one. tomorrow may not be his favorite day. he's got live whitaker hearings in the morning. followed by his physical in the afternoon. >> yeah, which will be more pleasant, right? >> look, you know, i think this is going to be a really important moment.
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they will explore these questions that whitaker probably won't want to answer, and will try to get out of answering them. we know already without any more testimony, the number one most important thing for president trump in an attorney general is the willingness to oversee the russia investigation. why do we know that? he's told us that. he got rid of jeff sessions, not because he he disagreed with the way jeff sessions handled marijuana, law enforcement or anything like that, he told us again and again out loud, in public. that he was mad at jeff sessions because he recused himself from overseeing the russia investigation. he was not in a position to help protect the president from what he sees and what he calls a witch hunt. in picking a new attorney general, he would either be an acting one or a permanent one. you can infer that the number one motivation for him is picking someone that would not recuse himself and would oversee
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that investigation. >> how do you frame tomorrow? what will you be looking for? >> i think there are going to be things happening on two levels here. some of this is going to be for the cameras, this is democrats first opportunity to try to draw some blood on the administration with their new oversight powers. keep in mind one of the things that changes, they have far more members on the committee's now than republicans, so they're going to be rounds and rounds and rounds of democratic questions. and fewer republicans to offer a break in proceedings for the testimony. so that's one level is just sort of the show. the other level of this is, this is also an opportunity to set some precedent. if there are going to be these fights over whether you can claim privilege over what -- what you can take to court. let's think back to when republicans had the benghazi committee, they established a lot of precedent about what congress can go after from the executive branch. this is also the first
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opportunity for democrats to plant some of those markers as well. >> all three of our guests have agreed to stay with us right quick as we get in a break. coming up, the president once warned investigating his finances was off limits. house democrats may be preparing to go there right away. they would like the president's tax returns. fidelity is redefining value for investors. introducing zero account fees for brokerage accounts. and zero minimums to open an account. we have fidelity mutual funds with zero minimum investment. and now only fidelity offers four zero expense ratio index funds directly to investors. because when you invest with fidelity, all those zeros really add up. ♪ so maybe i'll win ♪ saved by zero
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president trump once again lashing out at democrats as they ramp up their oversight role to congress. now, adam schiff announces after having found zero russian collusion, he's going to be looking at every aspect of my life both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so. never happened before. unlimited presidential harassment. axios reports democrats are promising an mri of trump's finances. house democrats led by adam schiff's house intelligence committee are beginning to investigate trump's family business. they're hiring staff with deep expertise with cash flowing through property transactions. a house weighs and means subcommittee -- president trump, of course, in his -- the first modern president since nixon not to release his tax returns. tonight a committee democrat said the law is on their side as
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he sees it. meanwhile, here is a reminder of what the president told the new york times about robert mueller possibly looking into his finances. this was in july 2017. >> mueller was looking into your finances, your family's finances unrelated to russia. is that a red line? >> would that be a breach of what his actual -- >> i would say yes. >> our guests remain with us, peter baker, maya wylie and tal kopan. you were in the room for the very recording. fast forward to now, a lot of talk on this broadcast and others, that the president's chief worry should be southern district of new york. he should worry more about the cumulative effect of 17 or so other investigations. but today, these manafort documents may have an effect of kind of refocusing the mind on one robert mueller. >> well, that's right, of course, mueller is the one big,
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big piece of this investigation. obviously, the president has tried to discredit him, saying he's running a partisan investigation, unlike house democrats, he's not an elected official, he is a lifelong republican. he represents a lifetime of law enforcement experience. so in many ways, he represents the biggest threat to the president in that regard, when he said that, we asked him about the red line in that interview, some people said, well, you goaded him into it because we asked him the question. he was specifically referring to robert mueller, of course, and the difference between robert mueller and congress, robert mueller is a function airy of the justice department. he had a specific mandate when he was given this job. that was to investigate things related to russia. he's done a very aggressive job of pushing off things -- so as not to expand his own mandate? when the president says looking at his finances outside of russia, would be across that red line. that only applies to mueller. congress can look at whatever it
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wants, it's a separate body of government, they don't answer to the president, they can choose to what they think is relevant. and that could be his finances that go beyond the russia investigation. >> a lot of people believe that those tax returns have been in a locked drawer in mueller's desk for the better part of two years. we have restrictions on who can go rooting around in who's tax returns. could this fight that this subcommittee is about to wage -- could we talk about months or years of fighting over this? >> certainly could be. any time you may end unin court to have a fight about what congress can have under subpoena, it could be tied up for a very long time. we're also talking about something, if it happened to go all the way to the supreme court. we don't know what the supreme court would decide. because remember, that in most cases, when there's a contempt issue with congress, congress either resolves it, negotiates with the person before it goes to court or if it goes to court, you know, they get rid of it and
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resolve it long before it goes all the way up to the supreme court. but i just want to go back to something that peter said, it's actually important, the charge that rod rosenstein gave to robert mueller was actually broader than just saying russia, because the way it was worded said, russia essentially -- russia collusion or anything else that comes up that you find. and what congress is really doing here, is tracking the same trail that mueller's own indictments have laid for congress that have called into question whether or not donald trump is making decisions in the best interest of the country. or whether donald trump is making decisions in the best interest of his own personal financial position. and that's actually part of the aren't tax returns matter, because if you're investigating money laundering or bribes, what you want to see is, where are your bank accounts. who do you have bank accounts
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with. who do you owe money to? it gives you the picture that helps you find additional trails of evidence. it's not so much that the tax returns itself will be a smoking gun. but it is the case that the tax returns can be very helpful in additional steps of investigation in terms of his financial interests. >> it's only been a minute, but i want to play something for you, and remind all of us what the president said at one point during the state of the union. >> if there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. it just doesn't work that way. >> so tal, let's talk about the enforceability of that attempt at a rhyme, if it won't be at the president's expense. something like, we keep talking about infrastructure week. something that both parties could get behind, and we're not careful, could actually improve life for all of us in this country. >> yeah, i mean, that was a
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doozy of a sentence that, i think made a lot of lawmakers stand up, where you equate war and investigations in the same breath. let's be honest, first of all about what any house typically does. the house always does a ton of legislating, sends a ton of stuff over to the senate, which is much, much slower paced and sits on legislation. to a certain extent hyperactivity on the house side of the capitol is not entirely unusual. and, you know, committees can do these sort of investigative hearings. and knowing nancy pelosi, who is extremely strategic and extremely calculating at all the moves she makes. she's not going to allow her members to appear as if they're only investigating and not actually moving things. the question is, whether any of those things being moved actually have a chance in advancing in washington. and in any administration and certain when i in this divided washington we have right now. the safe bet is usually on
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things not becoming law. so we're going to see how it all plays out, there's no reason that there isn't going to be some juggling of both messaging and investigations and messaging through legislation. >> peter baker, a bit of a curveball. this time tomorrow night, we're probably going to be talking about in part the results of the president's physical exam. we talked about it earlier, and not to put you on the spot, i know a lot is not known. do we know which physician will be performing it? do we know if there will be a briefing or a readout afterwards? i know he's going to be gone roughly for five hours in the middle afternoon toward early evening? >> a lot of anticipation about this, of course, the president is the oldest president to be sworn into office for the first time, now 72 years old, you know, seems to go strong, he seems to be in good health, despite obviously poor diet by his own admission, no exercise by his own admission.
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and a lot of -- somewhat skeptical of the report we got last year about things like his weight and so forth. remember, that was dr. ronnie jackson, dr. jackson is no longer his official white house physician, he got a new job title, the chief medical officer at the white house. that's supposed to make him until charge of opiod abuse. will that be his responsibility. there will be a team of doctors at walter reid that do this kind of thing, a specialist that will look at each and every aspect of the president's health. you can be sure that we'll be looking for it and asking for it, and there's going to be a lot of pressure on the white house to release at least some information, whether we'll get the same kind of lengthy briefing that we got from dr. jackson last year, that was quite exuberant about the president's help, that i'm not sure about. >> thanks to all three of you.
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the last bit of information. thank you very much for being on the broadcast with us. and coming up, earlier this week, federal investigators subpoenaed the president's inaugural committee for information on its finances. and its donors. tonight we have new reporting from vanity fair on what was going on behind the scenes of a lavish inauguration celebration. [birds chirping] [birds chirping] [brakes squealing] accidents can happen anytime that's why geico is here 24 hours a day everyday. geico, fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.
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new information tonight about how donald trump's inauguration became the subject of an ongoing investigation which is now is. federal prosecutors in new york, have subpoenaed inauguration records to determine how the committee spent a record $107 million. that's close to twice what was ever raised for an inauguration
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in our history. emily jane fox of vanity fair details concerns raised at the time, which manhattan prosecutors are now investigating. the information comes from phone calls from stephanie walcoff and former donald trump attorney michael cohen. they're both former trump loyalists who endured very public splits from the first family. according to the report, the fbi seized hours of phone calls between the two during that raid on cohen's home, and office. in those recordings, and we quote, stephanie detailed her own contemporaneous concerns with the inauguration, about how money was being spent. the general chaos of the process, and the involvement of trump's adult children. walcott focused on financial issues around the first family elect and their businesses.
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>> born trump, inside america's first family. as i understand, in the event planning business, falls into the sway and friendship of melania trump, becomes a close enough friend to say, your be best anti-bullying movement sounds illiterate. and that jacket you wore to the southern border, maybe not a good fashion choice for that day and that event. she gets handed the task of this inauguration, and she wants it known that in realtime, contemporaneo contemporaneously, she was saying to people this doesn't look good. >> your summary of the story was excellent. you almost did my job for me. >> thank you. that's all the time we have. thank you very much. >> thanks for having me. we knew there were a number of tapes, phone calls recorded,
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seized when fbi agents executed search warrants in cohen's home last august in april. it had been reported that there were some phone calls between stephanie and michael cohen. i know at least some of what is on those phone calls and those phone calls were hours long. in it, walcoff details some serious concerns she had. there were budget items. >> we have graphic of spending we'll put up while you talk. so people can read the amounts. >> there were budget that is did not add up. there were people in charge of the inauguration, who when she went to them saying these budgets don't add up, would kick her out of meetings because she was asking those questions. the involvement of trump's children also came up time and time again. there is a big issue about the trump organization, and whether the trump organization would be paid by the inaugural fund. there was a trump hotel that was
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conveniently five blocks down pennsylvania avenue, opened just before the inauguration, and they wanted to host events at this trump hotel. i reviewed an e-mail from a trump organization member who had quoted for the use of the ballroom in the trump hotel, $3.6 million. >> that seems cheap -- i'm kidding. >> for a ballroom. >> the rental of a ballroom in the hotel. >> and food and beverage, i want to add that. >> this is money that's going from the presidential inaugural committee directly to the trump organization. now, the cost ultimately was scaled down to $1.5 million, but this was the initial quote. this is something that walcoff raised with ivanka trump. these things are going to become public because they're going to be audited. we have to think, is this the most seemly thing we could do paying this amount of money. she responded, make sure that we're paying fair market rate.
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they still paid the family business $1.5 million for the use of a ballroom for i believe one event. >> also i see in your article, the name tom barrick, he has potentially a lot to lose here. he's a hedge fund type guy from los angeles, for a while, during trump's rise and after the election, he was kind of the dennis hopper role in apocalypse, explaining to cable audiences, here's what the president's like, when he says this, he really means that. tom has a pre-existing business life. a successful one. he was chairman of the inauguration effort. and a lot of people have wondered why we weren't seeing his name heretofore. >> he was the chairman of the inauguration. he ran everything. every budget that was submitted ultimately was okayed by him. there was nothing he did not have a hand in. there was nothing that he was doing that the president was not aware of. and it is interesting to me that his name has been left out of
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this for now. this is someone who in all the documents that i've reviewed reporting this story, walcoff was raising concerns about his role in this, the budget's he was okaying, and the way that he was relating with the president or the president-elect and the first lady to be throughout the process. this was something she was raising red flags throughout the process, whether or not those flags were rightfully raised or not, i don't know. this is something she was calling attention to throughout the planning. >> your article paints a picture of the family whose preparation for the presidency was a background in reality television. emily, we commend your writing to everyone watching, thank you very much for being with us again. appreciate it. coming up for us, the billionaire owner of amazon says if he can't stand up to the national enquirer, than who can. the intimately revealing way he is accusing the tab loit of extortion when we come back.
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to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best to make you everybody else... ♪ ♪ 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. ♪ ♪
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now, you're probably aware of this breaking news tonight about and from the founder of amazon, jeff bezos, the billionaire many times over is accusing the parent company of "the national enquirer" of trying to blackmail him with compromising photos and then some. we have a late report on this tonight from nbc news correspondent joe fryer. >> reporter: tonight a stunning message from amazon's ceo and owner of "the washington post" jeff bezos. he says a.m.i., which owns "the national enquirer" threatened to release embarrassing photos of him unless bezos agreed to stop investigating company. he announced he and his wife mckenzie were getting divorced. then "the national enquirer" published an investigation about bezos that included intimate
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text messages he was reportedly dating. in response, bezos says a.m.i. threatened to publish more text messages and photos if bezos did not stop his investigation. today on the website medium bezos posted e-mails that he says he received from a.m.i. we have not independently reviewed the e-mails. we've reached out to amazon and a.m.i. a.m.i. declined to comment. coming up, a president and his words when we continue. mingd his words when we continue
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last thing before we go here tonight. it's enough to make you think the white house might just put an end to off the record lunches because their contents always leak on the record, but at an off the record lunch for journalists this week, we know because it leaked, the president unleash unleashed on chuck schumer, also on the late john mccain. he also took a swiet at joe biden, calling him dumb. any time he, the president, makes a gaffe, it's intentional, as opposed to the dumb former vice president. that, of course, has only served to call more attention to the president's gaffes and his unique style of often pretending right there in the moment that that's what he meant to say. a few examples here starting
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with this morning's national prayer breakfast. >> since the founding of our nation, many of our greatest strides from gating our independence to abolition of civil rights. >> we just left pleasure -- >> paradise. >> well, paradise. >> ethiopia, ghana, guinea, nambia. >> human struggling and human smuggling. >> they sacrifice every day for the furniture -- future of their children. >> two corinthians. >> you want to go out and buy groceries, you need a picture on a card. >> through their lives and although their lives were cut short. >> i watch our police and our fire men down on 7-eleven at the world trade center right after it came down. >> we will arrive at a peace and a place. >> he goes by d.j. and c.j.
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he said call me either one. >> hey, i'm president. can you believe it, right? >> our look tonight at the president and his words. also before we go tonight, the loss of a giant of the house. and consider the following. consider it this way. it was possible to grow up in michigan and reach the age of 60 having only had one member of congress for your entire life, the same member of congress. that man, john dingell, died tonight. he was in congress longer than anyone else in united states history, 30 terms, starting when eisenhower was president. he was among the last world war ii vets to serve in congress, and as a social democrat he somehow managed to preserve, protect and defend the detroit car industry and the environment at the same time in the same career. john dingell was 92 years old. his wife debbie now hold that
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congressional seat. and that is our broadcast for this thursday night. thank you so very much for being here with us. good night from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. this is one of those days. sometimes, some nights everything just happens all at once and when that happens, it's easy to get overwhelmed. it's impossible to absorb everything all at once, and in circumstances like these, the only way to understand the importance of what has just happened in today's news is to not get overwhelmed by it, to not try to get it all at once. instead, you just do it piece by piece. you do it one step at a time. so that's what we're going to do tonight because a whole bunch of interrelated stories have just had really important developments this afternoon and tonight. we're going to go through it piece by piece. we're going to start in federal court in the southern district of new york

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