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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  February 22, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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information that was obtained over the course of the elections board investigation into this matter. she says that she expects to be convening a grand jury to bring potential charges on this matter within the next month. no rush. that does it for us tonight. we'll see you again on monday. joy reid there in for lawrence o'donnell there. investigation into donald trump may be a whole lot bigger than just hush money payments to a porn star. a new report in "the new york times" says the president's former attorney michael cohen has met with prosecutors in the southern district to offer them information about possible irregularities within the president's family business, including information about insurance claims the company had filed over the years. last week we learned that prosecutors in that office have already begun conducting interviews with members of the trump organization but this is
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the if first time we're learning about what "the times" is calling irregularities in any alleged issues involving insurance claims. "the times" also reports that cohen has offered prosecutors information about trump's inaugural committee, something we know prosecutors in that office have been looking into, specifically prosecutors questioned cohen about a donor to the committee, a venture capitalist from california who donated $900,000 to the committee and attempted to hire michael cohen as a political consultant. now, "the times" report does not say why cohen is giving this information to prosecutors or what it all means, but lucky for us, we might not have to wait very long to find out all about that. that's because michael cohen is set to testify publicly before the house oversight committee next wednesday, and we now have a list of the topics that cohen has agreed to talk about in that hearing. in that list, it includes the president's debts and payments relating to efforts to influence the 2016 election. things like hush money payments
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to stormy daniels, for example. and any potential violations of campaign finance law or financial disclosure law the president may have committed in making those payments. it also included a range of other topics from the president's compliance with tax laws, his conflicts of interest, his business practices, his d.c. hotel, the accuracy or inaccuracy of his statements to the public, potentially fraud and inappropriate practices by the trump foundation and public efforts by the president and his attorney to try to use intimidation to keep witnesses like michael cohen from testifying. now, those are the issues that house oversight committee chairman elijah cummings will be questioning michael cohen about, along with some of that committee's newest members like massachusetts congresswoman ayanna presley. michigan congresswoman rashida talib and a new york congresswoman you may have heard of by the name of alexandria ocasio-cortez. in other words, clear your dvr if you've got some space and get the popcorn ready. joining us now are three people who can help us what to make of
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this new reporting. ken dilanian, the intelligence and national security reporter for nbc news. he is closely following the mueller investigation. nelson cunningham is a former assistant u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york. he was also general counsel of the senate judiciary committee under then senator biden. david k. johnson is a veteran investigative journalist who has covered trump's businesses for decades. he also founded dcreport.org and is author of" it's even worse than you think: what the trump administration is doing to america." ken, kick it off for us.
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sdny is incredibly aggressive prosecutors, they'res incredib aggressive prosecutors that that's actually where the greatest jeopardy for donald trump lies legally? >> actually, it turns out that it truly is. even though the southern district of new york is fully a part of the justice department, they're not protected by special
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counsel regulations that give them nominal independence the way that mueller is. they don't have some of the protections that mueller has to be able to proceed unimpeded by interference. what we're seeing now is the southern district at its very best, which is looking at the crimes that are right before them and running straight at them to investigate them as hard as they can. it doesn't matter to them that jeffreyhe burman, the head of t office, washe appointed by dona trump. in fact, burman has recused himself formally and put the -- put these decisions in the hands of his deputy. trump is not really able to criticize the southern district in the same way he can go after mueller because the southern district brings that reputation of running it straight down the middle. ith agree completely with ken. there is much more danger to trump from an investigation of his decades of finances and taxes and borrowings and
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mistakes and lies in manhattan by the prosecutors who base just at the lower end of the island. >> and david k. johnson, do you think donald trump understands that? >> oh, sure. donald knows that he's in trouble and he's trying to figure out every way he can to discredit other people, to attack them, but donald knows perfectly wellal that he's in trouble. one's of the things he's always used in the past to get out of things is either ratting out other people or having records destroyed. one of the interesting things we may see very soon is what records he thought were destroyed as opposed to those that actually exist and can come back to bite him. >> ando he also relied on peop like michael cohen to run interference for him and now michael cohen is on the other side trying to get a deal. thank you all very much. coming up, every
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presidential campaign was asked whether they would commit to not using hacked materials in the 2020er election. every single campaign agreed. exceptam one. guess who refused. and next, since the day that donald trump declared a national emergency to extract the money from taxpayers for his border wall that he promised mexico would pay for, democrats have vowed to stop him. now they're making good on that promise. promise. (vo) only verizon was ranked number one by rootmetrics, number one in three opensignal mobile experience awards, number one in video streaming according to nielsen, and number one in network quality according to j.d. power. we're proud to be the only network to win in all four major awards-- not because of what it says about us, but what it means for every one of our customers. choose america's most reliable network, and get apple music, on us, when you do. let's see, aleve is than tylenol extra strength. and last longer with fewer pills.
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donald trump finally broke his silence on the coast guard lieutenant and self-identified white nationalist who was arrested for allegedly plotting the mass murder of democratic politicians and members of the media.
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>> on the coast guard member who was arrested for threatening democrats and other members of the media. >> i'm actually getting a very final briefing and a very complete briefing in about two hours. after this -- >> do you have any thoughts on this -- >> i think it's a shame. yeah, i think it's a very sad thing when a thing like that happens. i've expressed that. i'm actually getting a very complete briefing in about two hours. >> do you think you bear any responsibility for moderating your language when it comes to that? >> no, i don't. i think my language is very nice. >> those answers to nbc's hallie jackson and not a proactive presidential statement were trump's first comments on the plot by a domestic terrorist, which was revealed on wednesday. if donald trump had not been asked those questions, we don't know if he ever would have spoken publicly about the plot to kill some of the frequent targets of his public vitreal. trump's comments came after the white house press secretary was asked if the president has any plans to tone down his rhetoric. and she said this.
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>> i certainly don't think that the president at any point has done anything but condemn violence. against journalists or anyone else. >> of course that's not true. donald trump praised a republican congressman greg gianforte after he body slammed a reporter. who tried to ask him a question. >> i'll talk to you about that later. >> i'm just curious about that right now. >> speak with shane, please. >> i'm sick and tired of you guys. the last guy that came in here you did the same thing. get the hell out of here. get the hell out of here. the last guy did the same thing. are you with the guardian? >> yes. you just broke my glasses. >> the last guy did the same damn thing. >> you just body slammed me and broke my glasses. >> get the hell out of here. >> greg gianforte pleaded guilty to assault for his actions that were recorded on that tape.
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and then donald trump literally applauded gianforte for his assault. >> greg is smart. by the way, never wrestle him. you understand that? never. any guy that can do a body slam, he's my kind of -- he's my guy. >> meanwhile on capitol hill today, house democrats are moving forward with plans to block donald trump's last-ditch strategy to please the far-right and get money for a border wall, a resolution to terminate trump's emergency declaration at the southern border was introduced by congressman joaquin castro. with more than 220 co-sponsors, including one republican. the house will vote on the measure next week and republican leader mitch mcconnell, well, he cannot block the senate from voting on it soon after that. which is the scenario that mcconnell warned the president about earlier this month when he privately cautioned trump,
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according to "the washington post," that a vote on the national emergency could divide gop senators and force the president to contemplate issuing his first veto ever in the face of opposition from his own party. but donald trump is brushing off the coming vote on his unprecedented use of a national emergency declaration to solve a political standoff with congress. >> do you think that congressional republicans will stick with you on the -- on your emergency declaration and vote against -- >> i think they'll stick with it. everybody knows we need border security. we need a wall. i think it's a very bad subject for the democrats. >> will you definitively veto that resolution introduced today that would block your national emergency if it passes. >> on the wall? will i veto it? 100%. 100%. i don't think it survives a veto. we have too many smart people that want border security. so i can't imagine it could survive a veto, but i will veto it, yes. >> all right. we're joined now by two conservative critics of the president, jennifer rubin is an
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opinion writer at "the washington post" and an meeks contributor. and charlie sykes, msnbc political analyst. thank you both for being here. charlie, i'm going to starting with you. i'm going to play nancy pelosi responding to what you just heard a minute ago, and that's donald trump's threat to veto any bill that comes to his desk overturning his emergency declaration. >> the president's attitude is not going to color whether i honor my oath of office to uphold the constitution of the united states. i wish he would have the same dedication to that oath of office himself, but we will be fighting him on this usurping of power, of violating the constitutions of the united states in the congress, in the courts and with the american people. so this is a path i would not recommend he go down. >> you know, charlie, i think there has to be some irony for you as somebody who was in conservative talk radio. you know a thing conservatives have long done is talk about the
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constitution, adherence to it, the perception that a president -- you know, president obama or president clinton is violating the constitution. doesn't understand it. doesn't understand originalism. how odd is it to hear nancy pelosi now be the person who is literally championing and explaining to the president of the united states what these powers are? >> well, it's extremely odd and it's something we've gotten used to in the trump era, but, look, you know, every republican that's going to vote over the next couple of weeks in this, you know, was outraged at the use of executive power by barack obama. you know, and his campaign on, you know, smaller government, on constitutionalism. look, this is really not a republican versus democratic issue. this is not a vote whether you're for or against donald trump or even donald trump's policies. this really is a matter of upholding your oath of office. this is about protecting the article i powers, the concept of checks and balances. the constitution's explicit
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granting of the power of the purse to the house of representatives, which is fundamental to congressional power. so i'm hoping that there is more than a handful of republicans who are going to stand up and say, look, this is about the constitution. this is about the prerogatives of this institution, the people's house, now just simply blue and red. so i do think this is going to be a define vote, maybe one of the defining votes of this congress for republicans, and this is a red line and we're going to see whether or not, you know, they're willing to stand up for their oath of office and against donald trump. >> you know, jennifer rubin, i saw you smiling. i'm not going to interpret your smile for you, but, you know, there's a lot of doubt out there that republicans are going to do that. adam schiff wrote a letter sort of pleading with his republican colleagues. today in "the washington post." to our republican colleagues, when the president attacked the independence of the justice department by intervening in a case in which he's implicated, you did not speak pout. when he attack the press as an
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enemy of the people, you again were silent. when he targeted the judiciary labelling judges and decisions he didn't like as illegitimate, we heard not a word. now he comes for congress, the first branch of government, seeking to strip it of its greatest power, that of the purse. the time for silent disagreement is over. you must speak out. if we cannot rise to the defense of our democracy now in the face of a plainly unconstitutional aggrandizement of presidential power, what hope can we have that we will do so with the far greater decisions that could be yet to come? now i want to play you a little bit of lindsey graham. lindsey graham used to sound like charlie sykes when he would talk about the constitution and the powers of the various branches of government and here is lindsey graham today. >> border security, democrats are pushing this resolution. will you vote with them? >> absolutely not. i'm 100% with the president. >> how many republicans do you believe will vote with them? >> a handful, but here's the point. i think he's got all the authority he needs.
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there will be enough to sustain a veto. >> okay. he said a handful, jennifer, not enough to -- >> right. >> give us a guess. how many? how many will vote with the democrats? >> oh, i think the over-under in the senate is probably about five. this is the same lindsey graham a week or so ago was saying to the president, don't do it. then changed and said go ahead and do it. the reason i was smiling earlier on is that in the earlier press conference that nancy pelosi gave on friday morning with joaquin castro, who is shepherding this thing through, she sounded almost exactly like charlie sykes or charlie sounded exactly like her. it was almost word for word. she took us through the constitution. right after that wonderful preamble she told us is article i with enumerated powers, she used that phrase. this, of course, is why people like charlie and i are so disgusted with the current republican party because they've
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become damn hypocrites and they really have completely set aside their oaths of office. any sense of principle. and when lindsey graham says he has all the power he needs, he can beat a veto, that's not a statement of constitutional authority, that's a statement of sheer power. that's what conservatives were supposed to be against. >> right. >> against an executive who operates by power of his whim. so we're in a sorry state in this country i think right now. >> yeah. i follow both of you on twitter, of course. charlie sykes, i've been following you. i've seen you've been trying to name check individual republicans like mitt romney. is there somebody who can emerge as the new john mccain, exert some leadership in that body to get at least, you know, to get a veto-proof majority for this resolution? >> look, i would like a unicorn for my birthday. i'm hopeful, but i'm not that naive. look, but interesting you put it that way. who wants to be the next john mccain? i remember during the funeral,
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wondering whether or not senators sitting there thinking, how do i want to be remembered? do i want to be a rubber stamp, a potted plant in the senate or do i want to stand for something bigger, for principle? again, this is a moment. i'm not that naive to think that mitt romney is going to turn the tide on this. you know what? he's got to move past writing op-eds. this is your moment and i'm hoping somebody will stand up and seize this historic moment. >> yeah. jennifer rubin and charlie sykes saying sad tweets are not enough. you need to stand up for your own branch of government. we'll see who does. thank you both very much. and ahead, new questions about the role that one of donald trump's cabinet secretaries played in securing a lenient plea deal for a convicted sex offender who targeted children. and up next, every major campaign has pledged not to use tax materials in the 2020 election except one. let's see if you can guess which campaign is refusing and why. the answer after the break.
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donald trump's campaign refused to answer a question or to pledge to avoid using stolen data during the 2020 presidential campaign. that's according to a new exclusive report in the daily beast, which asked each presidential campaign whether they would commit to not knowingly using or referencing hacked material that appears online on grounds that it may have been obtained illegally. all of the democratic candidates agreed. every single one. only donald trump's campaign
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refused. trump's campaign's national secretary kaley mcenany sent the following note to the daily beast. we are not in the business of taking pledges invented by the liberal online media. the pledge reflects real concerns about weaponizing stolen data after russians stole thousands of e-mails from the democratic national committee and hillary clinton's campaign chair during the 2016 election. this week we learned that a sustained and ongoing disinformation campaign on social media targeting democratic 2020 presidential candidates, some of it driven by foreign state actors, is already under way. politico reports there are clear signs of a coordinated effort of undetermined size that share similar characteristics with the computational propaganda attacks launched by online trolls at russia's internet research agency in the 2016 presidential campaign.
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which special counsel robert mueller accused of aiming to undermine the political process and elevate donald trump. the analysis by politico found that the same suspicious accounts engaged in this attack on 2020 democratic hopefuls were also linked to the wide scale influence campaign during the 2018 midterm elections. and after a break we'll discuss what all of this means for the 2020 presidential election with neera tanden, who had some of her correspondence revealed in the 2016 hacking of the dnc and malcolm nance, who literally wrote the book on attacks on our election. wow! it's a hidden dragon world. ♪ show them what you got.
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the a-class... ♪ we assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 u.s. elections as an opportunity to advance their interests. we expect them to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other's experiences and efforts in previous elections. we expect russia will continue to wage its information war against democracies and to use social media to attempt to divide our societies. >> that was director of national intelligence dan coats at a congressional hearing last month warning about the dangers the united states faces from foreign meddling in the upcoming presidential election. joining us now is neera tanden, president of the center for american progress, who had some of her e-mails exposed during the 2016 hacking of the dnc. we're also joined by malcolm nance, who is an mean
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counterterrorism analyst and author of "how to destroy democracy." thank you both for being here with us. neera, i'm going to start by reading some of this daily beast article. this is the talks between the parties of not using the kind of data that was used against the clinton campaign in 2016. it says efforts were made between the two political parties to strike a pact that would effectively bind them from weaponizing stolen or hacked content, again, but those conversations never culminated in an actual agreement. the democratic congressional campaign committee and the republican national committee came close in the 2016, but the nrcc balk at the idea they or their candidates could highlight or reference press reports based on materials that had been hacked. it would be simply impossible not to already acknowledge information already in the public domain. that was part of the
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justification for people using the information that was stolen from people like you, was this is now news. it's now fodder. we're allowed to use it. what do you make of the fact that that is the nrcc's argument for why they should not pledge to avoid using the same kind of material again? >> i mean, the reality is that what republicans did in 2016 and were willing to do in 2018 was to use the, you know, basically winnings or spoilage of a -- of a foreign adversary. and, you know, i'm not surprised that donald trump will not make a commitment to do this, to not use this information in the future because i think in part he was, you know, his election was deeply helped by this before. you know, he's an unpopular president. he might have to count on it again. i think republicans -- i really think the public has to discipline both republicans and democrats around these issues and really demand that when you use this information you are
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basically achieving the political ends of russia, of a foreign adversary, in their efforts to disrupt our democracy. it is the base of really, you know, a lack of patriotism. >> and, you know, malcolm, you know, you wrote extensively obviously about what happened in 2016, but i think this was the moment for a lot of people that indicated that donald trump was willing and in fact perhaps even eager to benefit from what these foreign intelligence services had done to the dnc. here he is saying, russia, if you're listening. take a listen. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> is there -- is there any reason to believe that the trump campaign wouldn't simply want to just benefit a second time? >> no. they absolutely want to benefit a second time because the system is rigged in their favor. it's rigged in their favor because they have a state intelligence agencies of the
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russian federation who have still been working in -- to their benefit over the last two years. the russian hacking and the russian disinformation campaign and spreading information has not abated. it has not stopped at all. we saw that in the run-up to the 2018 election. now we're seeing the bots and trolls come out and start attacking the democratic candidates of the 2020 election. i think donald trump and his campaign, his social media team, they are looking forward to this information because they still believe that it's a catnip to the u.s. news media is that russia will be greatly rewarded and donald trump will be greatly rewarded if in fact they get this information and can spread it to hurt their enemies. theory are win at all cost players. they don't care. >> and malcolm, to stay with you for just a moment. the candidates we've seen in the political article, kamala harris, elizabeth warren, bernie sanders, beto o'rourke, who is
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not even running yet. the daily beast said it was described as the intelligence community sees 2020 as potentially the perfect storm according to a dhs familiar official with the teams. we know that russia is going to be engaged. other state actors have seen the success of russia and realize the value of disinformation operations. it's very curious why the task forces were demoted and the bureaucracy and the leadership has not committed resources to prepare for the 2020 election. these budgets are being cut. the staffs are being cut rather than being increased in size by the trump administration. what does that say to you? >> well, it tells me that the trump administration laying the groundwork for this to happen again. they see -- they see benefit to dividing the democratic party and dicing it up into little groups. and if you have these subgroups who are each going and supporting one candidate and are willing to do the attacks on the other candidates that you will not see the candidate themselves -- their candidate do, then what
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you have is the perfect sort of, you know, dicing machine for the democratic party opinion. if you amplify that and crowbar that and wedge it open, using disinformation, using social media as the, you know, the weapons platform of choice, then what you're going to see is if we have ten candidates, you're going to see ten massive pushes to make sure that the democrats tear each other apart. we saw it with bernie sanders and hillary clinton on the first day of the democratic national committee convention in philadelphia and now it's going to happen on a macro scale. >> neera tanden and malcolm nance, thank you guys very much. wish we had more time. thank you all. and up next, a clear abuse of power. that's how democrats are describing labor secretary alex acosta's role in securing a lenient plea deal for jeffrey epstein when he was a federal prosecutor. now they're calling on acosta to resign. more on that next.
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check in from afar with remote access, ♪ and have professional monitoring backing you up with xfinity home. demo in an xfinity store. call, or go online today. tonight we are following three major stories involving allegations of sex crimes against celebs and billionaires. two of them have ties to donald trump. first, embattled r & b superstar r. kelly has surrounded to police tonight after being charged with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. chicago prosecutors allege the abuse involved four victims.
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r. kelly will appear in court saturday afternoon. also happening today, a close billionaire friend of donald trump's, the owner of the new england patriots robert kraft was charged with soliciting prostitution. police said kraft was caught on video paying for and engaging in sex acts at a massage parlor in florida. not just once but twice. this is all part of a six-month-long investigation into a human trafficking ring in palm beach county, florida. according to police, nearly 200 people have been charged. only a fraction have been arrested so far. to be clear, robert kraft is not charged with human trafficking but he is facing misdemeanor charges on two counts of solicitation. a spokesman for robert kraft issued a statement saying, we categorically deny that mr. kraft engaged in any illegal activity. because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further. here's how robert kraft's friend donald trump responded to the charges. >> what about the charges
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against bob kraft? he's a friend of yours. >> well, it's very sad. i was very surprised to see it. he's proclaimed his innocence totally, and -- but i'm very surprised to see it. >> and our third sex crime story of just this single 12-hour news cycle. today house democrats called on the president of the united states to demand the resignation of his labor secretary alexander acosta. the push comes after a federal judge ruled at acosta when he was the u.s. attorney in miami broke the law in cutting a deal for jeffrey epstein, an accused child sex abuser and billionaire friend of donald trump's. the letter from trump to house democrats stated despite abundant evidence and witnesses waiting to come forward, they failed to charge him under federal trafficking laws that could have put epstein away for life, we believe acosta was
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here is how president trump answered questioned about the handling of jeffrey epstein's case. >> do you have any concerns about the epstein case. >> i don't know too much about it, it seems like a long time ago, but i know he has been a fantastic labor secretary, that's all i really know about it. >> when we come back, what is next for donald trump's labor secretary and jeffrey epstein. only verizon was ranked number one by rootmetrics, number one in three opensignal mobile experience awards, number one in video streaming according to nielsen, and number one in network quality according to j.d. power. we're proud to be the only network to win in all four major awards--
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alex acosta for his handling in a case for alleged sexual crimes against then young girls what is the white house's response? why should he be trusted to have a job at this level. >> my understanding is that it is a verically cased case. something that we're certain ri looking into, but they made the best decision and deal they could at that time. >> and it doesn't seem all
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thatically cased. just from the court opinion, in addition to his own sexual ause cases, he used paid employees to find and bring minor girls to him. epstein works in concert with others. it is repugnant but not complicated. what does it mean that donald trump was so eager to force out his own justice department officials, but those guys are still there? >> yeah, it is not like he is loyal to people. the fact that the labor secretary is still in his job 24 hours after this judge's opinion is outrageous. and i know we're sort of immune
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to is, but he was lenient on a man who is accused of abusing 30 underage minors. they should not be working in government or enforcing our labor laws. i know the president is basically like we're just immune to the masogny. but this is what republicans are up holding when they port donald trump. >> not only did the court opinion point out that the deal was concealed from the victims, but i think a lot of people had a sense there is just rich man's justice in this country. he had both ken star and allen dursheritz represent him.
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it is pretty shocking for most people to get a look at that part of our legal system. >> yeah, and there is really two offenses here, cutting a deal of this minor magnitude, these girls lives were gofer ruined and changed, and the second was literally breaking the law. they were only cased, they gave a piece of paper to these girls saying you will be exacted in the case it is resolved. he lied to them, and why? there would be a public outrage over it. so he conspired with a child sex molester to deep bottled up, they were victimized two times,
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he is irresponsible and unprincipaled. they should take away his license and he should be out of government for good. >> and why did he do it. there is several questions still like why did he decide to do this plea deal with such a rich powerful person in florida who obviously is really well connected with the republican establishment and the p.o.w. brokers of florida. he should have to answer but he should answer it after he is out, you know after he is out of government. >> by the way -- >> he should not be in government any longer. >> someone should ask donald trump about his relationship with jeffrey epstein. he was around him, he was his buddy, did he never see the under age girls? what is his association. any other president would be in
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a firestorm over an association with someone who is a friend of his for being a child sex offender. no someone asking what did you know about epstein. he just waltzes through life. >> now a second friend, robert kraft, that is pretty remarkable, two of the three stories today friends of donald trump. that is tonight's "last word." you can check me out on "a.m. joy." i will have a one on one interview with kamala harris on this friday evening, wait for the mueller report continues and paul manafort has some new legal worries and michael
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cohen's new revelations. what we learned about his testimony next week. what he might be prepared to say, what he was asked about what he knows about the trump family business, tax laws, or and the relationship our president will not stop talking about as he alone views it warmly, apparently. tonight a preview of next week's summit with the north korean dictator as "the 11th hour" gets underway on a friday night. ♪ well, good evening once with again from our msnbc head quarters in new york. day 64 of the trumped administration and at the end of another consequential week, we're closing in on what is likely the last major move in mueller's

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