tv Deadline White House MSNBC February 9, 2019 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
climate in parkland. that does it for me, thanks for watching, i'll see you back here tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. eastern for a new live edition of politics naugs. up next, deadline white house with my friend nicolle wallace. hi, everyone, it is 4:00 in washington dc. we're covering all of it for you. we start with the man in charge of the mueller investigation, matt whittaker and a hearing that was combative and contentious, she drew a line in the sand today about his conversations with the president and the mueller probe, and he did so after saying he would not answer any questions about his conversations with the president. >> at any point since that
briefing have you communicated any information you learned in that briefing to president trumtrum trump? mr. chairman i know there is a unique special interest in this -- >> it's a yes or no question, have you communicated anything you learned in that briefing about the investigation to president trump, yes or no? >> mr. chairman, as i said earlier in my owning remarks i do not intend to talk about my private conversations with the president of the united states. >> he also separated himself from other top officials including rod rosenstein by refusing to defend the russia
probe. congressman, it would be inappropriate to talk about it. >> is it a witch hunt? >> but it may have been his bold statement about the investigation that undergoies te scrutiny. to think that if landing the probe was his mission he never spoke about it with the president who is day in and day out obsessed with the russia proe probe. he also failed to discuss whether or not he discussed firing anyone from the southern district of new york. >> i want to know if you talked
to him about the southern district's case. >> i will not discuss my private conversations with the president of the united states. >> so yes or no did you? yes or no did you discuss with president trump anything about michael cohen? >> congresswoman, as i have expressed several times today, i'm not -- >> did you ever have any conversations with the president about firing or reassigning any personn personnel, u.s. attorneys, or others? with the president or anybody. anybody at all? did you ever have any conversations with anybody about reassigning or firing any personnel including u.s. attorneys with the southern district of new york? >> congresswoman, i sit on top of the -- with anybody, not just the president, anybody at all?
>> congresswoman, i'm not going to talk about -- >> sounds like a hell yeah i did to me. chuck rosenberg is back. paul butler is onset, carol lee, and sam stein, at "the daily beast," it is a big, big news day. what was that? >> i have interviewed terrorists that were more cooperative and respective than matt whittaker was today. i say that with sadness because the attorney general role is america's lawyer. we're his clooint and we're represented by the congress members sitting in that room and he treated us with utter
disdain, sarcasm, barely barely trying to get through this seriously. this is basically thumbing your nose at oversight by the people. and the way he conducted himself today is an indication that he is not america's attorney, he is seeing himself as trump's attorn attorney. >> and i understand some of whittaker's goals today, there was a lot of preparation, but not for the reasons we may believe. whittaker was auditioning for another job in this administration, he had an audience of one, and he had as one of his goals to be the sarah huckabee sanders of the justice department, does that explain some of what we saw?
>> it jives with what we saw today. i think possibly we will see him run for office at some point, and let's put out a cautionary statement to everybody. if you have skeletons in your closet. if you have criminal fraud investigations, probably not the best idea to raise your hand and say i want in on a trump administration job. we have not seen the last of whittaker. the fbi, the organization that he oversees, ironically the guys and the women that protect him every day on a security detail. walking him to work and dc, those people and those agencies are looking at him generally and
he has not seen the last of the fbi and anyone with those, they need to rethink their past before they sign up for what trump is asking them to do. >> i want to press on some substance of his answers. i wonder if the statement that he offered today, and i know he wasn't -- i don't believe him to have been under oath, but lying to congress is, in itself, a felony, what about saying he never talked to donald trump. it seems to defy reason if they have en said publicly and privately that it was their job to land the mueller probe. he was put in that job, by former white house counsel don
mcgann. and the president, what are the chances in your mind, frank, that he never talked to the president about the mueller probe? >> it is hard to believe that that never took place. some of the longest pauses, point where you see the wheels turning, is where he is asked about conversations with the president. i think what we're headed to, nicole, nicolle, and others, is calling the officials that helped prepare him. what was discussed in that? was there nuances as well? you talked to the president but you talked to an aide to the president. those nuances need to be brought out, there needs to be transparency about the process,
and i don't think questions are over today. >> i want to get your thoughts and press on whittaker and his decision to ignore the advice that he got. i think that is important. i think we will talk about robert mueller long after. he was asked if robert mueller was honest by the congressman. let's watch it and talk about it on the other side? >> is mr. mueller honest? >> i have been on the record about my respect for dobb mueller. >> i have no reason to believe he is not honest. >> you believe he is honest and not conflicted, can you say mr. president, he is honest and not conflicted? >> congressman, i'm not a puppet to repeat what you're saying. >> i'm not a puppet, could have
fooled me. talk about this posture that she in, the mueller probe, over the acting attorney general, and just the contortions today over these answers, refused to say it, former attorney general jeff sessions. they know the man, they know things about the investigation, but matthew whittaker could have as well. >> and nicolle, it is so easy to say he is honest, he is straightforward, but this is not a witch hunt, why can't you say those things, much of the nation is watching you today. i don't know how somebody could
be that cowardly. i don't know how someone could desemib disassemble that much. it is not a witch hunt, never has been, never will be. if he purports to know him, the way that we do, he would be able to say that in front of congress, under oath, and he could not do it and it deeply concerns me. >> i want to get to why that might be, but i want to go to where the legal threats about the president lie. he refused to say that he had not taken the step of trying to reassign individuals who work at the southern district of new york and he would not say that he didn't try to do that. why would that be? >> yeah, so flirs is a predicate
that we ought to discuss. they are not confirmed by the senate in the senate. you can't fire any of them, but reassigning them would be extraordinary. but discussed on your show that the fact of what is going on in the southern district of new york, the inaugural committee, the trumps themselves, it is as important as the work that bob mueller is doing and you would also hope that fault thealthougs no reason to have hope now in matt whittaker, you would hope that he would be able to say that. you would think they would do their jobs, follow the facts to their logical conclusions, and
why can't he do that? that also to me is deeply concerning. >> how at this point would you do this out there, chuck? >> because they are severe civil servants there, we will hear about that. i have always believed passionately in the mission of the department of justice, and i also know that you do not mess with their career civil servants, right? i'm assuming because i heard nothing to the contrary welcome we are assuming they're being permitted to do their work. it could also be nice if the person running the justice departme department. i am really truly confident they will pursue this investigation
where it leads. >> do you think we will find out if a conversation took place between donald trump and matthew whittaker about getting sdny to back off. >> it is know able in a few ways here. i agree frank. the pauses, the awkward stairre they tell you something, but matt whittaker would have talked to other people, the people repa repreparing him for his testimony, we may never get the truth, and we will certainly not get the truth from president trump, i think people know that nothing remains secret for very long and at some point we're going to find out i believe. >> what struck me today is that you sleep better at night thinking the justice department, all of the abuse, the waves that
crash on their shores, the attacks on comey, the attacks on the truth. it gets in through whit ter, it gets in through his office, he had trying to reassign u.s. attorneys from the u.s. sourp district or other offices. i imagine he didn't have the capacity to lie. i imagine that if he had he would have done it when he pressed about robert mueller, so what are you left with? what impression are you left with after watching whittaker today? >> his long violences and pauses were suspicioususpicious. he would not answer whether or not he talked to the president about michael cohen or talked about the southern district. why not answer of course i did not talk to the president about an investigation that imply
kates him that would be unethical. that would probably be a crime. but he could not say that. he did establish himself as the attorney general of president trump's fantasies. every time he had a chance to express fidelity to the rule of law, the appearance of justice, or fidelity to donald trump, he picked president trump. he doesn't understand that he is not the lawyer from president trump, he is the lawyer from the united states of america and today and that role . >> and the recusal, if you refuse to rescues, i'm not sure that is not more damaging evidence for the president who said on the record in media interviews that he want as fixer there. >> i think that you saw whatever the president wants, you saw it
today in whittaker. you started it off the show, this is exactly what this was, there was an audience of one and he went out there to perform. some of the things he said just defy lodge ek. the idea that a president that thinks all day and all night long about his investigations, cl it is robert mueller or not, they would not bring those things up and we know he brought those things up with everyone around him and doesn't respect traditional boundaries of law enforcement. the idea that he wouldn't do that is kind of -- you know, it is hard to imagine that that is the case. >> and quickly this is not just a postmortem of whittaker because she going next week. so the incoming attorney general, if confirmed by the senate said that he won't obey
the advice of the ethics officers. he said they listen if he tell him to rescues himself about the statements that barr made about the investigation. he will listen but he hat not committed to following that. >> i guess that is one good thing, if you look at the moral in the department, that she a short-timer and he will not be there for -- >> we take chuck's position on this, it was disconcerning and od that he could not give straightforward questions, we have not had overt signals that they feel like they're being interfered with and there are ways they could send those signals. if you're a champion of integrity and transparency up with of the bing things that was a fear is that the mueller report may come out while matt
whittaker was the acting attorney general if is clear at this juncture that he will not be there when the report is finalized and they will release portions of it or bottle it up. he was auditioning for another job today. we know that's how he does it. there was reports he would go on cnn to get the job he has. i was just struck, i have not talked about it, but it was galling that when they asked a question his response was, mr. chairman, your time is up as if he was the one conducting the hearing himself. >> as if he was a reality tv guy. i want to talk about something that is a little uncomfortable, but -- he is not respected at the justice department in which he serves. he is not respected in conservative legal circles. his incompetence, someone said
to me it will be apparent he doesn't have anything it takes to hold the job that he has. >> if we twor be honest about et situation in no other administration, at least recently, would this person even guess clothe to this gig. he is way too close to the president politically. he is compromised. >> bobby kennedy was too close to jfk but it was brilliant. >> but if you look at his private sector too -- >> you would not vet out a background check. >> aets let's be frank about the intelligence, too. it could be a bomb shell legacy. this was not the same as bobby kennedy, so he is clearly not qualified. >> i thought that was one of the
things that struck me so much. he was clearly not prepared. he was out of his depth, the way he was answering things. >> this was the first of his spotlight. it is terrifying and it shows after the break, a tell off from andy mcquaid describing donald trump's efforts to obstruct the russia investigation in exkru excruciating detail. the question now does the companies conduct with besos threaten his agreement with prosecutors. those stories coming up. prosecu. those stories coming up. at&t provides edge-to-edge intelligence, covering virtually every part of your manufacturing business.
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a toon to be released book penned by andy mccabe sheds new light on jim comey's flash point, also one of the events that precipitated a counter intelligence investigation into donald trump. and in a memo written by deputy attorney general rod rosenstein helped him write that book. rosenstein was reportedly distraught about the use of the memo. mccabe recalls rosenstein be glassy eyed. being visibly upset and
emotional. he said he was ordered to write the memo justifying the firing. he said he was having trouble sleeping. mccabe writes says there is no one here i can trust, all of which fits into the reporting that we read and talked about on this show around that event and time period. the washington post said trump had a meeting with the top two justice officials and gave sessions and rosenstein a directive to describe in writing the case against comey saying mr. rosenstein was caught off guard when he used the memo in the firing. chuck, remind people who andy mccabe is in this story. he will join us when he book comes out and i imagine that he finally tells his side of the story and it will be a real trigger for this president who is still around investigation
for possible conspiracy with the russians. >> mccabe was a agent working on the streets of new york on organized trim cases. he worked up the fbi and was in charge of the washington field office. and when jim comey was fired he became the acting director of the fbi. he would tell you he made some mistakes, but he is fine, decent, and honorable man. i think andy is telling the truth when he describes the way that rod rosenstein reacted and the events for comey. we're seeing this now, but mueller had this for a year and three quarters.
so you could be darn sure that mueller followed up on all of the leads related to this firing as any good prosecutor would. >> frank, let me read you some more of what he writes. it is similar to the picture that you paint in your role, that you few the trump opposition. trump and the council acted like mobsters offered mccabe protection in return for loyalty. the president and his men were trying to work me recalling an oval office meeting after his elevation to acting fbi director. i think some of the other history that ensued, comey had high moral and support, and the president called and harassed
him about his wife's political career. so it was short will have after this offer for protection in exchange for loyalty. >> you have a career fbi agent that worked organized crime referring to the white house administration as a bunch of organized criminals we need to pay attention to that. we need to understand where mccabe is coming from. if trump thinks people of integrity, career people, lawyers, fbi agents, dedicated to our constitution will go quietly into that good night without getting on the record about what they experienced, how they were treated and what they observed, they are very, very wrong. they have the last say. my second thought on mccabe and the book is that we're seeing some of the strongest evidence, we're now privy to some of the strongest evidence that we have seen yet of actual attempts at
obstruction by the president. so we see him as an important fwhns this, but we have to consider jeff sessions, rod rosenstein, if it is accurate that he was directed and ordered to write this memo on trump's behalf. >> in his defense he was asked is there a reason to fire james comey, and the answer was yes. when he companied on the ongoing investigation of hillary clinton, in the heat of the election he broke every rule in the play book. >> isn't that what donald trump asks everyone to do every day. >> and it was wrong for trump to ask and it was wrong when comby did it, but he also knew he was
being played by the president of the united states, so mueller has that information, there was always a question about whether or not he he needed to rescues himself because he would be a witness and that time has come. >> i think it is so significant because so much of what we have seen throughout the mule every investigation is the president on his horn criticizing, talking, saying things on twitter and elsewhere, and other kpark ters not saiding anything because they're abiding by their jobs. we heard from james comby and now we're going to hear from mccabe. robert mueller will eventually have something to say, and we learn something new every time, and every time one of them says something it turns out to be damaging to the president.
>> let me be a pessimist here, i suppose. there is two types of damage that trump has inflicted. the crime, if there is one, of what he has done, second is the distrust of the institutions and people in this country. what he did prior to this. >> criminal carnage. >> yeah, he went out and ran a multimonth campaign to diminish his credibility. and so what it ends up happening is it is not just mccabe, but it is mueller, and you get opinions on traditional fault lines. people who don't like donald trump will believe everything. so that is where we're going with a lot of this and there are few institutions and people that can transcend that, maybe
mueller is one of them, but -- >> that is sort of a long way of going to say that the president sets the tone. how dare i say that. the president said that -- the president sets the maretive already, by the time they speak, right? >> and i'm not trying to judge rod rosenstein in that moment. he could have said no, he could have gone along with it. i don't think he probably understood the magnitude of what he was doing in that moment, but in retroretrospec i think even . thank you for spending time with us, we're grateful. coming back, america's richest man beats back a blackmail
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> . in the era of "access poll ly hollywood" tapes and other scandals, it is hard to be surprised. the richer man in the world was featured on a tabloid. fast forward to last night, besos revealed what he called extortion and blackmail of ami. they privately demanded that he make a statement that he had no knowledgeover basis for suggesting that ami's coverage of his affair was politically
influenced or they would release ten new embarrassing photos including ones where he is said to be make the naked. and besos published the e-mails. ami said they were investigate seaing they acted lawfully and at the time of the recent allegations, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve matters with him. complicated more with mr. becker. >> he thinks it is possible that his phone was not hacked, but a government entity got ahold of the text messages.
former cia director john brennan said i have no doubt that given "the washington post's" relentless condemnation of mbs of journalist khashoggi, they would target him. jason johnson, have at it. >> this is some house of cards stuff you have going on here. people have too much time. i'm fromgenerally skeptical, bu anyone knew the technology behind how his phone could be hacked, it would be him, he has access to people with these resources, i don't think that is a flimsy claim, but it also
speaked s to this, and he hired investigators, and we have talked about it with this administration as a hole. whether or not it is president trump, saudi arabia, the president, his relationships with these dictators, they're dangerous. going after jeff besos because he owns a newspaper doing real investigation is the scary part about this. not whether or not pictures ended up on tmz or the enquirer. >> one of the problems they face is it is all just so plausible. it is so plausible to anyone with a television or, you know, that is even a casual observer of the news that the president's closest media ally tried to blackmail and extort the president's biggest media nemesis. >> yeah, it is very easy to
believe and that is unfortunately the state of affairs today. a lot of unknown that's are very intriguing. the fbi files a complaint, is the fbi going to look at ami now as a subject. do we need to look at the cooperation agreement that david pecker signed off on. was it transitional. is it blanket immunity. it is a new crime being exposed. this will like i will be prosecuted and i think ami is in deep trouble. later on this, the international intrigue, it is very plausible. i can tell you that someone like besos is a target and where ever
his devices go they are being hacked into. so is it possible that some foreign power got aahold of his extramarital affair, e-mails and calls, and gave them to ami, and let's layer in did the white house know anything about ami extorting besos? did any of this come up in conversation? this is another criminal element added and it continues our organized crime theme of the day which is that we're dealing with a racketeering enterprise. let me put up the president's tweet on these topics. i think the president just last month tweeted so sorry to hear the news about jeff bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting -- the idea that the enquirer is a competitor to "the washington post" is far more
accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper. hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better and more responsible hands. they're obsessed with what they view as unfair, even more so than the "new york times," he calls it the failing "new york times." he is always sucking up to them. they're obsessed with the washington post and the idea that he directed a hush money scheme, the idea that he would direct a smear campaign with the same characters is beyond plausible. >> does he even need to direct it. he puts out that tweet and the people that support the president and want to act on his behalf can pick up the signals, it's not that hard to decipher. i find the layers of this story so crazy. that they would put in writing the things they put in writing. criminals are not necessarily
smart, and so they put things like this in writing, but the things they wrote. and then you have z besos who is shining the light on this behavior. who else could they have done this to, and besos is in a position where he can stand up to this behavior, and there is that cultural aspect of it. and the ami agreement that says they can't commit crimes for three years. >> that is tough. three years is long time. >> explain that, so ami is in a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors to help them unearth and prosecute the hush money conspiracy and they're not supposed to commit any more crimes. >> right, they're given a pass in this first instance and the
terms say they cannot commit criminal wrong doing for a certain amount of time. if they were in violation, that would put that agreement at risk. >> never have i seen so many people not committing crimes for ten minutes, ten minutes. >> they have done a lot of reporting on this well before besos came out with a post. i would pump the breaks a tiny bit. there is a weird and unsavy group of characters that is worth noting. besos's girlfriend, michael sanch sanchez, she being looked at in the internal investigation. he has connections to a variety of weird trump old figures among them is roger stone. we reached out to roger stone and he denied hacking besos' phone, but we never asked him.
he just came out and said i didn't hack the phone, that was particularly bizarre. >> this is a story we're running today snd. >> no, we already ran it, today we're looking into what is a well known history of ami of using things liex extortion and blackmail to get these types of stories. it is crazy that we're getting a clear view of it thanks to jeff besos posting about it. >> what is intriguing to me a the president not hiring the best team. st team.
besos wrote about it. it is unavoidable that certain powerful people that experience "washington post" news coverage will wrongly conclude i'm their enemy. president trump is one of by hi tweets. also the post coverage of the murder of its columnist, jamal khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles. several days ago an ami leader advised us messrs. peculiarer and apoplectic. the saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve. knit together for me, frank, that observation. tragically one of the intersections "the national enquirer" is between donald trump and saudi arabia if you can believe that. there's also some reporting out today, some signal intel that "the new york times" reported on about mbs in a recorded call
that he wanted to put a bullet in khashoggi. the story gets worse for the stories and donald trump's best friend in the media gets more and more desperate to take down the news organization report, one of the reporting on it. >> the enemy of my enemy is my friend. that may be applicable when we talk about ami, bezos, and saudi arabia. now, understand that saudi arabia has an outstanding external and internal intelligence service. they are very capable of engaging in all kinds of dirty tricks as we witnessed in the murder of khashoggi. and certainly capable of operating inside the united states and acting in their own interests and acting in concert with a media organization like ami. there have been reports publicly that ami was seeking saudi
funding for their media enterprise, so there's already a nexus, there's already a relationship of some kind. one hand, washington, could easily have happened here. we could be looking at yet another foreign entanglement involving our media, this administration, and the attempts to stifle free and open reporting against this administration. >> prosecutors will have ami in a vice grip. they used to have some protection where he were allegedly a media organization. now they're starting to look more like a criminal enterprise. in fact, in the michael cohen case in open court they admitted that they funneled hush money payments as a campaign contribution to donald trump. there was a nonprosecution agreement which required them to obey the law just for three years. that was too much to ask.
now we're looking at extortion, blackmail, and revenge porn. it's not ami as a corporation that's doing this bad stuff. it's individual people who when push comes to shove will turn against each other. we will find out what happened. >> it's easy to prove because they literally wrote it out. you know what i mean? they said we have this and we will release it. >> i just love we can say revenge porn in the 4:00 p.m. hour. >> they're operating as an oppo research place. they're basically digging up information on trump's enemies and handing it to other people. >> or publishing it. >> isn't this what we saw with wikileaks in the russian? that russia goes and hacks into the dnc, and then we sort of fed on the information. that's essentially when you have happening here.
i can't imagine the levels of sophistication it would take to break into jeff bezos' phone. he's probably got -- >> flip phone, definitely flip phone. >> and he does have the $63 billion to find out what happened. >> exactly. so the likelihood that information is being used by foreign entities. again, i don't think any government agency could be operating in our country without getting tacit consent from ours and that's the concern. >> the thing with saudis and mbs, we saw it with khashoggi, but you can't emphasize enough how much they would go to great length to protect mbs, his image. there was the glossy saudi magazine that appeared about the time of mbs's visit last year across the country portraying him as a reformer and change agent and all these things. and so, you know, they not only have the capabilities, they have the desire to do something like this.
all in the interest of protecting what they see as the future of their entire country and lived. >> i read today this relationship between the trump white house and the saudi is alive and well. jared kushner is on his way to the region. what do you make of the intimacy of the trump orbit and mbs? >> i think it's part and parcel of a much larger issue, which is the desire to turn power into personal profit for this administration. we keep learning of new and newer entanglements with foreign nations and jared kushner and paying off of debt and solicitation. there's been reports for a while now that even foreign heads of state have been complaining about getting hit up by kushner and/or others in the administration. eventually this is going to come crashing down. you don't do in in a vacuum. there's too many eyes on this, too many intelligence services
intercepting communications. this is the real deal in joo politics today and they're going to get caught at it. >> frank with the scare of the day for me. thank you for that. we're going to sneak in our last break. we'll be right back. break. we'll be right back. that's why i switched to liberty mutual. they customized my insurance, so i only pay for what i need. i insured my car, and my bike. my calves are custom too, but i can't insure those... which is a crying shame. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ i never count trthe wrinkles.s. and i don't add up the years. but what i do count on, is staying happy and healthy. so, i add protein, vitamins and minerals to my diet with boost®. boost® high protein nutritional drink has 20 grams of protein, along with 26 essential vitamins and minerals
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good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington where president trump and his allies under siege have launched new counterattacks. on capitol hill acting attorney general matt whitaker battled with democrats on the house judiciary committee refusing to say anything good about special counsel robert mueller's investigation. at the white house the president refused to punish saudi arabia for its murder of journalist jamal khashoggi. but first, a bombshell story pitting pro-trump ally david peck with the "national enquirer" against jeff bezos of "the washington post." on thursday, bezos, who also owns amazon, accuses the parent company of "the national enquirer" of extortion and blackmail. this comes after the "the national enquirer" last month published a front-page expose including personal text messages and