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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  February 19, 2019 4:00pm-5:00pm PST

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that does it for "the beat." we'll be back tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. eastern. "hardball" with chris matthews is up next. trump's war. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening, in for chris matthews. we have a lot to get to tonight, including a big 2020 announcement. bernie sanders is running for the democratic nomination again. and the "new york times" is out with a major report that the trump has taken to otherwise control the investigations of him and of his campaign. the president has long waged a very public war on those inquiries. "times" says it has revealed the quote extent of the more
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sustained, more secretive assault by the machinery of federal law enforcement, that the president has turned into an session. they inform on misinformation about the firing of michael flynn. they report on conversations between the republican law makers about an attempt to attack robert mueller, the spelg special counsel, and that he eattempted to place a loyalist. that last episode occur late last year when they were closing in on the president who they were calling individual one in that case. called matthew whitaker with a question. he asked whether berman, and trump ally could be put in charge of the widing vention. whitaker could not fulfill the
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president's request because he was recused. according to the report, he soured on mr. whitaker and complained about his inability to pull levers that could make the president's many legal problems go away. and the president is contesting that story, flatly denying that he ever asked his acting attorney general to change his prosecutor in the cohen case. >> change the leadership to your former investigation -- >> no, not at all. that's more fake news. there's a lot of fake news out there. no, i didn't. >> however, trump's reported outreej to whitaker may contradict the sworn testimony last month. among other things whitaker told the house judiciary committee that no one from the white house
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reached out to express dissatisfaction about the cohen investigation. >> did they reach out in some way to express dissatisfaction? >> no. >> joseph marine eois a former federal prosecutor and a msnbc political analyst. and michael schmidt, he joins me now by phone. let me start with you. you and your colleague's reporting that we're talking about here. on that exchange that we played from the hearings a couple weeks ago with whitaker. whitaker asked if anybody at the white house reached out to express dissatisfaction with the way the cohen case was being handled. is your reporting that dissatisfaction was expressed to him? >> correct. it shows that there was discussion that went on between
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whitaker and the president. the president concerned about the direction of the investigation and looking at the possibilities and what could be done in terms of that and turning to someone in the u.s. attorney berman, in the hopes that they'll -- whatever relationship they had or whatever loyalty he thought berman may have may be important. in the entire story in which we've looked at obstruction going back to 2017, there's different teams and one of them is loyalty. the president wants loyalty for those over seeing the investigations into him. whether it was jeff sessions, jim comey. whether it was andy mccabe, who was going to be the interim fbi director or this investigation in new york. this is something that's incredibly important to the president. he believes and has said it's view that the investigators
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should be more loyal to him than following the facts in the rule of law. >> so just get the sequence of events straight, the cohen case is going on o, the president goes to his acting attorney general whitaker and he says he make as request to put in a new prosecutor to put berman and trump's ally in charge of the prosecution of cohen. what is the response that whiches back to trump and what's the exchange there? >> well, berman -- nothing changed. nothing came of it. this is a theme that happens a lot of times with trump and obstruction. where he tries to do something. he tries to get comey to end the investigation. he tries to talk to whitaker about unrecusing himself and he ultimately failed. whitaker falls outof favor with the president.
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the president sees whitaker as someone who can't do the things he hoped he'd be able to at the justice department. the lim tases of even being an acting attorney general. and this is another thing. the president tries different times to get different folks to go along with whether instilling loyalists here or there and has not always been successful and struggled to damage the investigation. >> is your reporting that when trump was told noabout getting berman in charge of the investigation, that when that didn't happen, you say he soured on whitaker. did he express that explicitly to him that there's a connection there? gee, i expect you to have berman in there? >> we don't know that. we don't know that the president made that point directly to whitaker. and i guess what will happen
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with whitaker, is still at the justice department in an advisory role under in the new attorn eageneral and whitaker is someone who has spent a lot of time appealing to the president. he started on television many months ago, advocating against the mueller investigation and put in as the acting attorney general. the president had high hopes on that and by the time he left, at least what we know publicly, everything remaind in tact. >> joe, so you've got the situation where the president has this investigation going on of cohen. we see what that ultimately led to. so it is ominous for the president, clearly as it is going on. somebody he thinks is a loyalist. he installed there. that guy has been recused from the case. so it the suggestion is this is
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potential. the fact that he didn't get his way though. does that take obstruction off the table? >> short answer is no. and this is the parallel to the james comey situation. the president may have thought that by firing james comey, it would have stopped the investigations. it doesn't change the fact that he stopped a corrupt emotion. and there is a pattern here as you can see. so obstruction is not at the table because you can have attempted obstruction. what would it take if what could come back at you is hey, he's the president. he's asked about get this guy out and it didn't happen. >> i think you had a career as a defense lawyer. you made great argument. so you have to show the actions. you infer someone pch's intent
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their actions. you can say why else would they have done these things but for a corrupt purpose? why would you keep working the internal doj power. and you say why else would someone take these actions if they weren't trying to do something that was corrupt? >> let me bring the congressman in from rhode island. we played that exchange when he was the acting attorney general a couple weeks ago. how do you look at that response you got right now? >> well, i think it's pretty clear that matthew whitaker's testimony and the reporting that explosive reporting cannot both be true. mr. whitaker, he clearly tried to create the impression that he was not influenced by the president. we asked him repeatedly did the president or anyone on the
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president's behalf express any dissatisfaction? and we said no. clearly it was not to reward. so it's hard to believe that was done for any other reasoning than because the president was frustrated about the -- but this is a pattern. he thinks they have a loyalty or a responsibility to protect him. they an oloyalty and an oath to t the constitution of the united states. to this recent reporting about trueing to change out the u.s. attorney. this is a president who continues to think that these individuals o individuals owe a loyalty to him and they're doing their job the president should understand it is inappropriate and may constitute obstruction of justice to interfere with their work. >> do you now have plans in your
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committee to follow up at all with whitaker? >> yes, i mean we attempted to get information about exactly what he heard from the president, what direction he was given. he refused to disclose conversations to the president butted created the impression of dissatisfaction and the identification of individual number one. the chairman of the committee sent a letter to him already seeking clarification based on what we've learned subsequent to his testimony indicated he's going to provide that clarificaticlaire he should expect to come back so we can get the truth. >> another episode in this reporting. it occurred when sean spicer briefed the press about the former national security advisor, michael flynn, according the "times" white house lawyers. quote when mr. spicer's briefing
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began, lawyers started hearing numerous misstatements and ended up compiling them all in a menu. the main concern was he over stated how exhaustibly they had mr. flynn and that they concluded there were no legal issues surrounding mr. flynn's conduct. you know some of the innerworkings with the kwhies. the scene that this is my story. what did you make of that? >> any careful press operative wouldn't want to be on the record putting themselves in personal legal jeopardy. sean spicer had a flagrant disregard for the truth during his tenure as press secretary but during this instance he was taking pains, which is clearly a
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huge problem for the white house and mr. spicer. >> i think we still have michael schmidt on the phone with us. in terms of this piece with it. the fact high went so much further, per your reporting, what is it that prompted that? >> with well, you have to sort of look at it through the frame of what was going on. this was february 14th. mike flynn had just been fired. this is the first time the administration was confronting the russia investigation publicly. they were concerned that spicer would go out and not give an accurate portrait and questions about why did it take the white house so long to deal with the flynn issue after they were told by the justice department he ehad contacts and could be subject to blackmail.
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so it's how they handled it that the white house said that's a far too favorable account of how this was dealt with. we were not as on top of it as we made it out to be. we haven't made these determinations about flynn's legal standing and because of that, they documented it j told him afterwards. the white house never corrected the krekered on this but it's one thing to go out and say stuff about crowd size and one thing to say on the campaign trail. that he be out not telling the whole truth. >> i encourage everybody watching to read the entire thing. but the totalality of it suggest as possible set of avenues that could be used to make a case of obstruction of justice against the president.
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another defense suggested in the story is basisically the president has been public about his dissatisfaction with all of this. he's a victim of a witch hunt, an out of control prosecutors. the fact he's been doing all of this public while doing this in private have any bearing? >> had they been in a text message or an email or private conversation, they would sound horrible. what you would do with information like that and the fact that it's tweeted to millions of people seems to negate it. but if those statements have an intended effect, which have too sometimy orpede or tamp down
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political enemies, it has the desired effect. so it definitely adds a different kind of spin because you don't think of obstruction as done in plain sight. if it as the intended intent and intendedfect, that could be the basis of your case. >> joining us on the phone again with that reporting. and later tonight former deputy fbi director is going to join lawrence o'donnell live on "the last word." and coming up the guy who crashed the party last time is back. >> bottom line is i think it's imperative that donald trump be defeated. >> he's talking aim at president trump. he's got a lot of democrats to worry about too.
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plus the growing resistance to president trump's national emergency declaration. how states are using the president's oown words against him in court. and new polling on just how much support the president has for that emergency declaration. there is much more ahead. there is much more ahead i can't tell you who i am or what i witnessed, but i can tell you liberty mutual customized my car insurance so i only pay for what i need. oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no... only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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welcome back to "hardball." is back and launching a sequel to his 2016 presidential campaign. he announced in an email to supporters support along with this video message. >> hi, i'm bernie sanders. i'm running for president. we're running against a president whose rar pathological liar a racesest, a sexist, a zen foeb and someone undermining
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american democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction. i am running for president because now more than ever we need leadership that brings us together, not divides us up. >> shortly after the news broke the 77-year-old senator appeared on cbs news and asked why this would be different from the last one. >> whats rr going to be different this time? >> we're going to win. we're going to also launch what i think is unprecedented and that is a grass roots movement, john, to lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country. that's what's different. >> sanders joins an already crowded and diverse field of ten democratic candidates. that number will probably grow some more. that's something he didn't face in 2016. a number have fanned out across
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the country on tongs such as combatting climate change. bernie sanders remain as force of to be reckoned with. within hours he raised $3 million from donors. for more i'm joined by susan parjs former new york congressman, joe crowley and ceo of the naacp he wass a supporte of bernie sanders. you were one of the surrogates. are we going to be a sanders supporter in 2020? >> i signed up in new hampshire in 2016. this year, you know i ran for governor of our state and i've got to look and see to endorse when we get closer to the maryland primary.
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with that being said i'm a big fan, a good friend of bernie. he's exactly where the voters are on education, on a health care on jobs and he's showing that he can raise real money in probably the smallest denominations of anybody. people should take it varseriously this time. >> seems like you got some help from rivals in your own campaign. so no endorsement right now. >> we go back a long way. kamala i've known for 15 years. liz warren and i fought to protect together. great friends but we have to right now when you look at bernie rolling out, he is absolutely formidable and it starts with his message. what makes bernie unique is he's been curages for a very long
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ti time and quite frankly he is where voters are. >> one of the questions i've got is being debated right now. anybody who didn't want hillary clinton got to vote for bernie sanders. so a lot of folks just didn't like hillary clinton. so the wisdom is crowded field, a lot of other choices in 2020. that works against him. crowded field, 2016. donald trump could win with 35% of the vote. can sanders turn around and do that in the democratic race? >> it's possible and he starts off with a base of support. phenomenal fund raising ability. republicans often choose the person who came in second in the previous election. i was trying to think of
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democrats who came in second who got it the next time around the only one i could think of was hillary clinton because i think democrats like the fall in love with somebody new and that is not going to be bernie sanders this time. it's going to be one of the ten other people who are a generation younger than bernie sanders and who aspoused pretty similar political views. >> i think it's kind of creative to make bernie the -- in this race. that's a stretch. >> let me take joe crowley's temperature. there was a lot of reluctance on what you would call the democratic establishment to support the sanders campaign. how much resistance is there going to be from those same quarters towards him in 2020? >> i have news for you tonight. bernie sanders is running for president of the united states. bernie's been running ever since he lost.
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i do think there was a great deal of resistance. i think the relationship that clinton built in new york as the senator from new york, those relationships were there. but as the first lady and again as the former secretary of state, there's been a lot of clintons that benefitted her. bernie -- you saw the numbers he raised just in a few hours. millions of dollars on grass roots he has out there. i think with all thiez democrats running, it's going to stand out that bernie is still an independent engaged in a democratic primary. i think there's new faces that when they get more exposure, i think that may drowned out a bit of the bernie effect. >> is he somebody you could support? >> i could support. i disagree with bernie on a number of issues.
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the core values are similar to the my core values. and i think itnteresting that been said he's not quite there. >> to be clear steve asked me, but bernie hasn't asked me. >> i appreciate that. i guess what i'm saying is there a lot of folks that we all have relationships with. i'm not prepared to say who i would support either. i think this field, this very crowded field is something to watch. >> when you look at sanders in any potential path, obviously. won new hampshire in 2016. hillary clinton got 16 million votes across all the primaries. sanders 3 million fewer than that. she won california, florida, new york, a lot of the big states.
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both clinton and sanders received both the same share of the vote when it came to white voters. it was african-american voters where it it hillary clinton clobbered sanders. across the south. states with heavy black pop ylzs. that's where she was able to run up the score. we talked so much about this in 2016. >> doint forget that bernie won michigan -- >> okay. he marrowly won michigan. but you can't deny the pattern there among all black voters. why will that by different? >> you look at black voters under 30, bernie won them. black men under 50, bernie won them. the black community was getting to know bernie sanders. he's from vermont. he's not where we are. that was four years ago and now
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folks have gotten to know him and what they see is he's absolutely consistent on education, on health care, on the environment, on jobs. you got teachers on strike in west virginia, in oakland, california. there's not a teacher throughout that when its come nooz issues, bernie sanders stands with him. he's terribly consistent. his brand has become much more familiar across the country and people know when it comes to the kitchen table issues, he's in their corner every time. >> donald trump, he clearly was trying to reopen those wounds in the democratic party from 2016 talking about bernie sanders. he says getting a raw deal. the president there, i madimagi republicans more broadly speaking have some hope that you'll see the repeat where bernie and his supporters verses the rest oof the party. >> although you've got to say he
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won the democratic party. they've been to the left since 2016 and the question is how far to the left and that's where you see the divisions. >> day one of the bernie 2020 campaign. a lot to talk about going forward. i appreciate all of you being with us tonight. and up next president trump's emergency declaration. how is it fairing in the court of public opinion. we have fascinating numbers to share.
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♪ we will have a national emergency and we will then be sued and they will sue us in the ninth circuit, even though it shouldn't be there. and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we'll get another bad ruling and then we'll end up in the supreme court and hopefully we'll get a fair shake and we'll win in the supreme court. >> that was president trump just a couple days ago declaring a state of a emergeancy and then saying hey, this thing is headed to a court of law or you heard him there several courts of law and it looks like that is proving to be the case. it is also being judged in the court of public opinion. and that front, we have some brand new polling information we can share with you tonight on
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the emergency declaration. look overall. you see that decision to get the wall built. 36% approved. 61%, a very solid majority approve. very stark break down. republicans heavily, overwhelmingly. republicans breaking against it. you can see on other questions related to this, just the idea is he misusing his power as president? is trump misusing it again? with a very dramatic, very clear and frankly very predictable party divide. and the question of what's this going to mean for you in 2020? you're seeing the president declare an emergency. is it going to make you more or less likely to vote for him? 50% sless likely. they're not going to vote for
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him at all. here's the one thing to keep in mind. i got to say this. you think back to the 2016 campaign. that question of the wall. trump's signature issue and he's running for president. 36, 61. pretty much exactly the same as the number with the emergency declaration. even in the face of numbers like that, narrowly, narrowly trump was able to get himself elected in 2016. if he's going to get reelected, it's going to be just as narrow and just as precise. it happened once. keep in mind he did win 2016 with numbers like that. up next. new hampshi new mexico shares miles of border with mexico. one of 16 attorneys general
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i want to do it faster. i could do the wall over a longer period of time. i didn't need do do this but i wanted to do it much faster. >> that was president trump saying he knew he didn't have to declare a national emergency. and now those comments are part of lawsuit part of the national emergency. a flagrant disregard of fundamental abusef opowers. he candidly admitted that the emergency declaration reflected his personal preference rather than a need for it to be built immediately. here's how the president reacted today.
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>> we have absolute right to do that. we need strong borders. in the end we're going to be very successful with the lawsuit. so it was filed. it was filed in the ninth circuit and i actually think we might do very well, even thin ninth circuit, because it's an open and closed case. i was put here for security, whether it's space force which we're doing today or bordards. >> and from the state of new mexico, hector, one of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. general, thank you for joining us. with the president saying own and closed case and i think it's because if you look at the national emergency act, which is this law from 1976 where he's claiming this power, it doesn't define an emergency. it gives the power to declare one. congress could take vote and
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override it if he vetoes it. >> well, first, thanks for having me. and no, actually he has to follow the rule of law. we don't having cans in this country and this is not about the king's funding. article one in the constitution clearly has the purses with congress and he's not allows to cry over a funding fight and misappropriate money going to missile bases and special national security projects just because he doesn't get his way. >> how do you get around that law, looking at it, saying the secretary of defense may undertake construction projects, if the president deems there to be an emergency? and you say in the court of public opinion, he's contradicting himself like crazy, but if the law doesn't
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specify what an emergency is, how can he over step it? >> however an article two, he's required to be a truthful commander and chief. he cannot have fake emergencies. this is not like 9/11 or national disaster like katrina. these are funding going to strategic projects. if he wants to use immigration funding to build a wall, that's a different question. but i believe it will turn on the source of funding and it's required he has to comply and not violate the separation of powers. >> california's taking the lead, which means this is being filed by the ninth circuit. he has been bashing the ninth circuit. he was saying last week they'll send it over to ninth circuit
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and they'll invalidate it. how that might bolster your position or maybe in the court of public opinion, given the president's always bashing the ninth circuit? >> we don't necessarily play games with with his words. california and new mexico are lead plaintiffs because we understand that there needs to be sound constitutional law followed and more importantly we're on the border. we have new mexico, americans being harmed. he doesn't want to fall thoi constitution. but there will be a test in court making sure his fake emergency is at least reviewed. i think he's going to be held accountable. >> do you think this will make its way to the supreme court? >> i do believe the president is right. we will experience victory in the court but ultimately article
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two requires him to be a truthful commander and chief. they're going to be involved in the case. he's probably violating the separation of powers. >> the travel ban took a few months. how long do you think this is going to go to the supreme court eventually. how long until you get a final decision that settles this? >> i'm hoping the court will act in an expedited way. clearly we have him talking out of both sides of his mouth and i believe there is a big difference. he has the right to declare executive emergency. he's stealing money that's been lawfully appropriated. he should go back and get lawfully appropriated dollars for his immigration wall. we have the constitution the rule of law and we're governed
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by those standards. >> the attorney general of the state of new mexico. thank you for joining us. and up next. day two of hearings in the ninth congressional district of new mexico. the only election in 2018 we never got around to calling. how much did the republican candidate know about this and how will it effect the outcome? is there going to be a new election down there? oing to be w election down there? when did soup become this? at panera, we treat soup differently. with vine ripened tomatoes, signature cheddar, simmered to perfection. with big flavors, not artificial ones. enjoy 100% clean soup today. panera. food as it should be.
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♪ welcome back to "hardball." the second day of testimony is now over in the tampering case involving the ninth congressional district. that seat remains vacant. nuthree month after the midterm elections, work done by mccray dallas a political operative who worked for republican candidate, and said he soupded like someone who kpu the law very well. >> he told me at no time we were every to touch, put your hands on, or mail an s&p ballot. and he made sure all of his folks knew that would be legal. >> but yesterday dallas's own step daughter testified that she and other work withers filled
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out battles at dallas's direction. political reporter for nbc news. she is in the room for all of the action. given the testimony from yesterday, talking about this. what has been put on the record here right now in terms of irregularities. ? mark harris leads officially. he's trying to get this thing certified. what is the response from his legal team? are they contesting there were irregulate airs? or are they making a different argument? >> they're making a different argument. they're not contesting there was sketchy, unlawful activity regarding the absentee ballots and they're acknowledging mccray dallas was the sentser. what they're arguing is that their client, mark harris, knew nothing about it, eve though he
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hired dallas through a consult firm. and he didn't know what steps to take regarding the absentee ballots and so what they're trying to do is set that record straight and separate hairess from mccain dallas in the operation and what they're also trying to say is that yes, part of this election might have been tanlted but it was just regardingson tee ballots in two rural counties. they're saying it was not enough to change the outcome of the race and they're saying that's reason there should not be a new election and that mark harris should be seated. >> 905 votes for harris over mccreedy. is there going to be an attempt to quantify an exact number of
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votes? is the democrat trying to put that together? >> not necessary and the reason is they're arguing there doesn't need to be evidence to prove that the outcome of the vote would change as there is actually 905 votes were that were tampered with or went missing or whatever the case might be. they're saying that the only thing they have to prove is that the race was tainted enough that voters have lost confidence in the election. and that is actually in the statute that north carolina state law says and that's one of the things that board just has to look at in their decision. >> all right. keeping tabs on all of the drama now. thank you for keeping us posted. and up next bernie sanders is hope oing he can turn his déjà vu candidacy into a winning strategy. jà vu candidacy into a winning strategy liberty mutual customizes your car insurance
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for all body types, guys do whatever it takes to deal with shave irritation. so, we re-imagined the razor with the new gillette skinguard. it has a unique guard between the blades. that's designed to reduce irritation during the shave. because we believe all men deserve a razor just for them. the best a man can get. gillette. with the most lobster dishes lobsterfest of yeart red lobster like lobster lover's dream with butter-poached, creamy and roasted lobster. or new crispy, coconutty lobster in paradise. new ultimate lobsterfest surf & turf is here too. it's time to lobsterfest, so hurry in. [indistinct conversation] [friend] i've never seen that before.
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♪ ♪ i have... ♪
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♪ welcome back. and as we were talking about a couple of min lts ago bernie sanders is back for more. he's trying to pull off something we've seen a few times in the recent past. a candidate running for president and coming in second place in the primaries turning around and running again the next time around. this was a winning formula for two of our presidents. ronald regan just lost out and then won it in 1980 and became president of the kwluns. united states.
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and the guy who came in second in the 198 aprimaries, george h.w. bush. he won the whole thing in 1988 and others came close. bob dole lost out to bush. then the next time around it came open in 1996 and ended up losing to bill clinton in the fall. john mccain came in second and then he won the nomination in 2008 and beat out mitt romney who turn around and won the republican nomination in 2012. all republicans. there used to be a saying in politics that when it comes to taking a presidential nominee, democrats fall in love, while republicans fall in love but then 2016 republicans fell in line. hillary clinton came in second,
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become secretary of state, repairs broken relationships in the party and won the nomination and of course it was bernie sanders who she beat out. so can sanders get democrats to fall in line the way the other candidates all did? he does have a real base of support. he runs second in democratic pols, usually in the high teens, behind only joe biden. that's not as high as say regan or romney was but not as bad as rick santorum who came in second, ran again in 2016 and didn't evenst register in the polls. and 77 sprer a favorable view of him now. there is a baggage. there are hillary alums who blame sanders for trump's win. party leaders who have no interest in backing him. the only person who over came
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that was mccain who was deeply distrusted. he's got a solid floor of support. whether the contractors will suk succeed. thanks for being with us. "all in" with cris starts right now. >> tonight on "all in." tonight. >> no, not at all. >> the "new york times" reports donald trump attempted to interfere with the it mueller investigation. and new reports on the president's attempt to place an ally into his company and his inauguration. >> that is an effort to use the powerser of the government for a corrupt purpose.

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