tv Deadline White House MSNBC March 7, 2019 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
result of cynthia mcfadden's powerful report on the humanitarian crisis in the central africa republic, unicef raised close to $1 million. the united nations says it has been overwhelmed by the pledges. "deadline: white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi, everyone, it's 4:00 in new york. we are awaiting the sentencing of a man described by prosecutors from robert mueller's office to have operated at the heart of what the special counsel is investigating. that man, paul manafort, president trump's former campaign chairman. we're waiting for a sentence that may very well result of him spending the rest of his life in prison. the last time we heard from special counsel robert mueller's team on manafort, they described him as a bold and hardened criminal likely to commit more crimes. but there's at least one man who doesn't see it that way. >> like manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. but i feel so -- i will tell you, i feel a little badly about
it. they raid his home at like 5:00 in the morning i think on a weekend and his wife is in bed and they go in with guns? >> yeah. >> this isn't al capone. >> i feel badly for both. i must tell you paul manafort was a good man. he was with ronald reagan. he was with a lot of different people over the years. i feel very sad about that. >> he worked for railroad. he worked for bob dole and john mccain or his firm did, he worked for many other republicans. he worked for me what, 49 days, or something. i feel very sad about that. it doesn't involve me but i still feel it's a very sad thing that happened >> are you considering pardoning paul manafort? >> i have great respect for what he's done in terms of what he's gone through. >> hmm. today our friends at axios described this moment right now in the russia probe this way -- even without seeing robert mueller's report we have already witnessed the biggest political scandal in american history, and
that is where we start today with some of our favorite reporters and friends. at the table meme yee roquio, former assistant u.s. attorney, bloomberg executive editor from bloomberg opinion, tim o'brien's back. heather mcgee, senior distinguished fellow at the public advocacy group, and former senator claire mccaskill joins us for the very first time at the table. so excited you're here. >> great to be here, nicolle. let's have some fun. >> i think fun will be had. and in washington if he's here, it's always fun, michael steele is back, all lucky for us, msnbc contributors. mimi, let me start with you and what we should expect. what do we not know? we know that they view manafort's contacts with a russian-aligned associate as being at the center of the special counsel's probe into russian collusion. we know they view him as someone likely to commit crimes if he were not in prison, and we know he is so far the one individual
to have entered into a cooperation agreement and blown it up himself by lying while signed up as a cooperating witness. >> look, i think there's a lot we don't know about manafort, and hopefully we will find out, although i don't think we'll find it out today in this sentencing proceeding because i think most of what we don't know pertains to the other case, to the d.c. case. so i think what we don't know though -- and the reason we know there are all of these known unknowns is because of all of the redactions that are still out there. every sentencing memo the prosecutors have filed, every response to a motion that was made, that they were ordered to give responses to, every one of them still had redacted material in it. does that mean it's classified and we may never see it? possibly. or it means that it goes to what is still this continuing investigation, and we may yet see the fruits of that. remember, we haven't really seen the fruits yet of flynn's cooperation. i don't think we've fully seen
the fruit of gates' cooperation. flynn met with him 19 times and we barely know the tip of what he knew. there's a lot about manafort, what was he doing with kilimnik exactly? we really don't have all of the pieces yet. >> so i just heard they wheeled paul manafort into the courtroom in a green jumpsuit in a wheelchair. it's been reported in the past that he suffers from gout. i'm not sure if that's the explanation for today's use of a wheelchair, but that trial now under way. >> it's sort of like hannibal lecter in that gurney in "silence of the lambs." i have very little sympathy for paul manafort at this point. unlike everyone in the drama, he's been, probably apart from the president, one of the people who seems to have this stone-cold lack of conscience. every time prosecutors given the opportunity -- >> that's your parallel, right, not the conduct.
remorseless. >> yes, remorseless. >> making sure. and he's never stepped up. and he's been doing this for a very long time. so i have to believe the court is going to take that into consideration and the prosecutors are going to ask for as much as they can get on him, which will be 24, 25 years. >> michael steele, if you can jump in, there's so much that lifelong career republicans knew about just how dirty manafort's book of business was, before he ever walked through the doors of trump tower and took the reins as campaign chairman. but i think the new wrinkle or the new layer of information for those of us who already knew that is he functioned during the trump campaign, it would appear, as the consigliere for russians. the prosecutor said sounded to have divided loyalty between the russians and the americans. it seems to me no punishment would be too severe for someone with divided loyalities. >> yes, i think that's very right and i think that's
something the judge has weighed and taken into consideration in regard to manafort, particularly given the way he's behaved and the lack of remorse or lack of regard he has for the process and what it means and why he's even in this position. maybe that was the hubris of believing at some point the president will pardon him. maybe that's just the way he is. but it certainly has not served him well in trying to, you know, stave off what will be inevitable heavy hammer coming down on his head. for republicans, going back and looking at this trail of tears, if you will, of manafort's resurgence in the republican mainstream, that is an aberration. paul manafort was not a central player in any presidential campaign after the '76 election. he was not a central player in any -- what reagan was doing. they didn't need him on the convention floor.
they didn't need him in the campaign. this was one of those moments -- and there's talk well, cohahe c have gone with the folks to help stop trump or go with trump to help him win, but there was no battle over paul manafort among republicans, certainly whether it's the consulting class or political class that they felt so desperate that he had to come in. they recognized his expertise in the last contested republican convention but this wasn't there. i think there were other operatives who were well positioned and better capable of doing what needed to be done. so there were other reasons why manafort was brought to the table and i think that's a lot of what's been redacted and what we hopefully will find out about. >> it's such a good point but it's a little nuanced. let me draw you out on this, michael steele, no republican -- and there were 17 -- not one of them thought to google paul manafort and see if he was free. none of them needed him, not ben carson, not marco rubio, no one
had a question for whom the answer was, is paul manafort available this cycle? i worked on three presidential campaigns. his name came up only in the context that i mentioned, that if you wanted to make an example just how bad is dirty lobbying, it's so bad, paul manafort is the only whoun doone who does i. how did he not just inside but running the trump campaign? >> trump, that's how. you don't come in that orbit unless trump want you there. i'm sure the children can extend an invite but it's ultimately the president himself who has to see the benefit of having him there. i think in many respects given those associations and those ties outside of the campaign structure, yeah, the president put one and two together and said hey, this guy is working with the russians. he's got these relationships. i'm trying to do business with the russians. this is a perfect fit.
there's a reason why you're handing off campaign information to the russians. because the symbiosis between the two have become complete. in many respects by paul manafort stepping into that space. the question some have had, nicolle, is that's sort of an effort by russians to kind of manipulate and maneuver and all of that. way too scientific for me. the bottom line is donald trump was looking out for donald trump as he always does, and at that moment in that hour, paul manafort served more than one purpose. and that was not necessarily just getting elected president of the united states. >> we have traveled so much distance from when those of us who covered the trump campaign and i remember watching paul manafort on the floor of the convention on cleveland lie to george stephanopoulos or norah o'donnell and say i have never done business with russia, meanwhile over his shoulder they're changing the republican platform for the first time in history, heather.
where are we now that the goal posts have so moved from collusion has been established. it took place between paul manafort, who handed -- we don't know exactly what kind of polling data, but clearly more than like the quinnipiac top line, to a russian-associated operative? we're not talking anymore about whether or not the trump campaign chairman was in contact and coordination with the russians. we're not talking about whether or not the platform changes clearly benefited putin. they did. we're not talking anymore about whether a massive scam was played on the american people, the lie about negotiations between donald trump's organization and vladimir putin's government to build trump tower moscow. we're just talking about how far up that went. we don't know what the redactions say. but all we're waiting to find out is if we will learn more about what's still being kept from the general public. >> that's right. and i think we're waiting to find out whether or not the checks and balances that were created in this country are going to withstand what has absolutely, without a doubt, been the largest political
scandal, has been the campaign with the most indictments. do we even need to say that? the campaign with the most indictments, guilty pleas and convictions. this is going to be a test as to whether or not republicans and democrats are able to say, you know what, we need to look -- we need to have people look back in history and say this was illegal activity and it was activity that couldn't stand in the white house. i think that's the only remaining question, sort of who's going to have the backbone, are any republicans going to choose country over party? and where will we be able to be in a year from now when the mueller report is out, when all of the things that we know, the redactions are out. it's all very clear, is there going to be any accountability? 70 million americans have been arrested, right? we've a very criminalized american people. to see people in the most powerful positions, people with so much money and influence and contacts escape accountability, i think it's going to break something in this country. fwl saved the best for last but i'm going to put you on the spot.
what value is there in having this investigation have gone on for two years if democrats don't decide this is a hill to die on? i hate all of the debate around impeachment. you don't impeach as a political calculation. you impeach if it's the only option for protecting the country whose campaign chairman is not working in the best interest of the country. why is their hammering around this question of impeachment? >> because the last thing we want to do is give this guy anything close to martyrdom. >> he's all right got it. he stands up and says it's a win. he's already got it. >> i'm not sure about that. why are the democrats being careful about his kids? i think there's a lot there. and there's no question that there is like kind of the concept of a bed of nails, there's so many nails, it doesn't feel painful to the republican party anymore.
but you have got to really think about this, if we want judgment in our president, the judgment of this president and who he picked at moments of crisis to be the guy, and you know what they had in common, manafort and donald trump? money. his dirty book of business, nicolle, for paul manafort was all about making money. he could make more money if he was serving the underbelly. and trump wanted to make more money. he saw the campaign as a way to make more money. the moscow tower was all about making more money. so the american people i think need to really think about that, that his judgment of -- he can say all he wants that oh, he wasn't that big of a deal. he picked him. he pick ted all of these guys. >> he knows exactly how many days he worked there, 49 1/2 days. whatev. >> somebody told him to say 49 days over and over again. but if you look at watergate and
look at this scandal and want to say there were more indictments in watergate, that's true. but the difference is this is a foreign adversary that had over 100 meetings. are they going to move towards impeachment? i don't know if they will. but as this continues to evolve, i think the pressure will build. but i do think we have to take into consideration the most important thing, and that is donald trump doesn't remain president after 2020. >> nicolle -- >> yes, go ahead. >> can i say something quick on the impeachment piece, i think it's an important distinction to make at this juncture. i think the senator is exactly right in the way she's looking at this. my calculation, looking at nancy pelosi and how she's playing this thing out right now, she's got the tools to impeach the president but not the way we traditionally think. just not -- there doesn't need to be an impeachment show trial that's going to lead to a nonconviction in the united states senate. she's already laying the predicate down with all of these investigations that are going on. that's where the "impeachment"
will come, when the facts are laid bare, people are finally forced in front of the cameras to testify in front of the american people for how they covered up, how they lied, how they stoked the flames of this administration. that's where this impeachment process i think has its greatest strength, not in hauling the president before some committee and reaming him out and having a vote for impeachment and sending it to the senate, but seeing a meticulous takedown by subject matter with appropriate investigation by the appropriate authorities in the government and exposing it to the american people. >> i respect the you know what out of both of you but let me just push on this for one more minute, do you think if republicans like, i don't know, jim jordan and mark meadows and those beauties to borrow a trumpian word, had learned president barack obama had run from the white house a hush scheme and written at least six checks for $135,000 a month to run an illegal hush money
operation to keep some sort of personal thing quiet, do you think they would, you know, have acted with restraint and let him to go about his business as a fear of political repercussions? >> absolutely, they would jump all over that dog. they would be there so fast, it would make your head spin. no doubt about it. but it does not mine that would be the smart and politically correct thing to, do when you go down that road of impeachment, there are ramifications. >> why would they have proceeded? would they have decided -- actually, i guess my point is they would have decided -- i know what they would have decided because i watch them and i study them and i subject myself to fox news to try to understand them, they would have decided there were enough questions about barack obama -- it's where birthism came from. they would have stoked these questions about his character and where he was born and who he was working for and they would have runned that like bulldogs. my only point is not to say democrats should pursue impeachment, we talk about what
will it take, what will it take for democrats, he's an unindicted cospiriter in a campaign finance case in the southern district of new york, who named him as felon. he wrote checks when he met with angela merkel and other people. the point is what are they waiting for? what are the triggers with democrats? >> they're waiting to see what mueller does. you can't make that leap without mueller put something on the table to leap into and mueller may not put everything on the table to make that leap. that's why what the speaker is looking at is other means to triangulate on this question of impeachment on a way you still get the relevant information of facts out there. >> i think we need to talk about this for a minute. to your point, if this was a democratic president, frankly, they would have impeached on the idea kanye west was in the oval office on live tv. the top would have blown off their heads, right? >> let's play this point out, if
president obama had met with an american adversary -- >> no question. >> if he mitt with the egyptians or iranians five times, in john kerry had done the nuclear point and there were no notes. >> i take your point and i would accept it. they would have pushed in the house. but the democratic senate would have said that's not right. that's not happening. and that's what would happen here. you would have the linz lindsey grahams of the world who has clearly gone to a place i don't recognize and my other republican colleagues that are saying in private what we all wish they would say in public -- >> only bob corker said in public. >> frankly, the ones that said it are gone. >> right. >> so there's a lesson to be learned from that for the others that are there. so i think you would have this push and pull between the senate and the house and the american people would stay polarized. i'm not sure we would convince anyone. we need to convince people this is someone that doesn't belong
on the world stage. >> so poll public opinion. and take care of it in 2020. >> there hasn't been a story yet that lays this out clearly for average americans in a way they can relate to about what's wrong. and they don't care about most of the minutia of the russian scandal. i do -- >> i don't think they don't care. i think it hasn't been laid out. >> there hasn't been a clear narrative. >> i can see the thought levels. >> a the plurality of the american thinking should we impeach now. the mueller investigation what people are waiting for because there's been a storm of information, all of it more damning than the last. but what they're waiting for is for someone in washington to say, this was the line. and mueller has become that character because no one else in washington is willing to do it. and so they're just waiting for a sense of, okay, like something. there's some adult there, right, that's going to actually say this is illegal and, therefore, the president should not be in office. that's what i think the
democrats need to do. they need to be that grown-up in the room that says, i don't care if politically this is not going anywhere. we want to have said to our children, we impeach this man. >> what happens if mueller doesn't say that? then what? >> or turns over the evidence. i think there's a third path we don't look at where he doesn't tell them what to do. >> just gives them everything. i want your thoughts and i want to read you extraordinary reporting in axios that frames all of this up this morning. >> i was going to say to your point, yes, ineveryone is waiti for mueller and we talked about how dangerous that can be because the hush money scheme in which he's been implicated as an unindicted co-conspirator and which he did from the oval office and still lying about now, that has nothing to do with mueller. >> correct. >> that's all there. i don't know if the southern district will do more. i imagine that other people may be implicated and charged. but probably not trump. so that's all ready for them. and that's just sort of getting
for gotten. >> what other people? don jr. signed one of those checks. >> yes, and meanwhile you have rudy giuliani and trump out there every day the longer this drags out giving information about what the law is and what the facts are and confusing the record so people throw up their hands and say, oh, we can't figure it out. >> it's all politics. >> let me put up axios' frame on this because it's what we're talking about. biggest political scandal in american history, scandal, trump covered up business dealings with russia, historical parallel? none. scandal, flynn served as national secured adviser while compromised by russia, while being a threat of blackmail. any parallels, guys? none. scandal, russian officials had more than 100 contacts with trump associates during the campaign in transition. the russians offered election assistance. the fbi and government authorities weren't alerted in and many instances were lied to about those contacts. historical parallel, none. michael steele? >> right.
yeah, historical parallel, we have never been here before. and this is beyond the pale for what we would expect from any administration. there's no doubt about that. but i still think at the end of the day, you just had the discussion about how this is being fed and read by the american people. there's more confusion then there is understanding. and one of the things a hearing process can do aside from impeachment, which becomes a highly contested political drama. you think jim jordan's going to show his behind, show his behind -- >> showing biceps! can't find a coat. >> he will perform with his wrestling tunic and whatever. >> i like a guy without a coat on. of all of my complaints, that isn't one of them. >> so the idea of trying to bring the american people into this conversation in which donald trump, they can be inoculated to some except from the noise that will come from
this white house. but here's the other piece, remember, they've already started laying down the tracks. so this idea of impeaching the president, and you do that, doesn't guarantee that donald trump will leave. it doesn't guarantee he's going to go. he's going to have something to say about that. so i think the evidence is going to be important coming out of the special counsel no doubt. we know what sdny is doing right now will be -- that's the sort of damocles if nothing else over the president's head. and then this other piece, this impeachment piece, is a card you don't need to play, i don't think right now. >> we're going to go to break but we are waiting for news out of this sentencing of paul manafort. if that happens, we'll bust out of our break. if you're watching, that is that courtroom on the screen. if you're in the car, don't worry about it, we will tell you what you need to know. also ahead, pardons of obstruction of justice, what pardons might mean to the multiple offices and mult agency
investigations into whether the president ob strunstructed just. ns and unbelievable reporting about what one agent did to journalists created by trump's crisis at the border. don't go anywhere. good, cuz i'm a little worried about my information getting out. why's that? [bird speaking] my social is 8- 7- 5 dash okay, i see. [bird laughing] somebody thinks it's hilarious. free social security alerts from discover. 4 out of 5 people who have aous. stroke, their first symptom... is a stroke. 80 percent of all strokes and heart disease? preventable. and 149 dollars is all it takes to get screened and help take control of your health. we're life line screening... and if you're over 50... call this number, to schedule an appointment... for five painless screenings that go beyond regular check-ups. we use ultrasound technology to literally look inside your arteries... for plaque which builds up as you age- and increases your risk for stroke
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i can't wait to go home and tell everyone about it. i just wanna get it right now. guess what i'm gonna do. (laughing) call today. comcast business. beyond fast. when was the last communication with president trump or someone acting on his behalf? >> i don't have the specific date but it was a while ago. >> okay. do you have a general timeframe? >> i would suspect it was within
two months post of raid of my home. >> so what did he or his agent communicate to you? >> unfortunately, this topic is actually something that's being investigated right now by the southern district of new york, and i have been asked by them not to discuss it, not to talk about these issues. >> while we don't know specifically what those conversations were about that michael cohen references there, we do know that there are three separate investigations looking into pardons. one headed by special counsel robert mueller. another out of the southern district of new york. and now the house intel committee also skricrutinizing conversations about pardons, conversations between trump and his legal team and target the investigation of getting pardons. when it comes to trump's former fixer, specifically "the new york times" reports, quote, mr. cohen told the prosecutors in manhattan the pardon discussions happened after searches the
authorities conducted on his residence and office in april 2018. he described to the prosecutors how a lawyer who was considering representing him, robert costello, had spoken with rudy giuliani. "the washington post" writing, if trump's representatives sought a bargain with cohen to gain assurances not to cooperate with prosecutors, it would raise questions about whether the intent was to obstruct justice. today cohen officially launched a court bat well his former employer. he is now suing the trump administration saying he's owed nearly $2 million in unpaid legal bills that the company said they would pay and never did. joining our conversation now, nag political reporter for "the washington post" robert costa. robert, take me through the pardon reporting. it's evolved as the week has gone on and the goal posts seem to be now we're trying to deduce whether cohen or his lawyers reached out and sought that pardon so we're trying to figure out if cohen lied in congressional testimony or if
it's part of a bigger puzzle and pardons were dangled as part of one of three obstruction of justice inquiries? is that right? can you flush that out? >> here's what we know. over the past 24 hours i spoke to lanny davis, the attorney for mr. cohen and rudy giuliani, the attorney for president trump. both men acknowledged conversations right around the time of cohen's raid, before even cohen's raid between cohen and trump lawyers about possible pardons. what prompted those conversations, and the context of those conversations, remains somewhat unclear. lanny and mr. cohen said they felt pardons were being dangled through the public and private comments of the trump illegal team but what specifically was said matters because that goes to the intent of the trump legal team and whether they were trying to obstruct justice or whether they were in some ways vaguely referencing an idea. >> if you go back in time,
robert costa, it's not beyond our capacity to imagine hume nae nature as the guy who said he would take a bullet for mr. trump. my point is they're both plausible. what does your reporting suggest in terms of whether cohen was under skrut r scrutiny for lying? is congress looking at it from that standpoint or is congress looking at it from the framework of trying to understand if pardons were dangled? >> let's say for the period of time, may, june, july, the summer, keen was intense legal scrutiny. it was expected he could see his home and office raided. that was a time of pressure for him personally and legally so that's when these conversations happened. but lawyers are very careful often in how they talk about pardons. it would be clear mr. sekulow or mr. giuliani, the trump lawyers, would know any kind of explicit talk of pardons would put them in legal jeopardy even if they were talking in the confines of what's called the joint defense
agreement, jda, where they could all talk as people on the same side legally. anything that would seem like they're trying to obstruct the investigation, they would want to avoid. but cohen is alleges through his comments with mr. davis that in some way knelt they were tempting him, they were baiting him on the idea of a pardon and that's why he engaged in those conversations. >> the shades of gray seem really important here, that one is apples, one is pardons dangled as part of the president's endeavor to obstruct justice and "the new york times" has reported in the past pardons were dangled by john dowd lawyer 1.or to manafort and flynn. the question seems to be is this part of that vain of conduct that's under investigation? or is this more of what robert costa is talking about, cohen was feeling squeezed and wanted know if the president would be there for him? >> i want to push back a little bit on this idea of apples and oranges actually. i actually think in this context, yes, the words are going to matter, the intent.
but i think they can all be the same thing. in other words, even if it was lightly mentioned, subtly suggested, that is not a huge difference here because of what bob costa just said. in other words, that the lawyers are going to be careful. they're not going to explicitly say it. frankly, that's not how trump does business. we know that from cohen. we know that from watching trump and we know that from cohen with obstruction with respect to the trump tower conversation. none of this will be spelled out, hey, cooperate and we'll give you a pardon. it will all be a wink and nod and subtle. here's where the public aspect comes in. what he says publicly influences then private conversations. every big-time criminal, mob boss, drug dealer, fraud scheme runner, has tools to keep people from cooperating. money, power, fear, lawyers. i think trump uses the pardon power to keep people. he tries to anyway.
and he does a lot of it publicly. and then every conversation that's had after that between lawyers is informed by this. we know that trump is doing it with manafort right now, right? >> we had this on yesterday of his comments about flippers. he called cohen a rat. we know what conduct he's calling for. >> berates and punishes flippers and nonflippers. >> i know, mimi, you prosecuted in the federal system. i spent a lot of time prosecuting in the state system. joint agreements typically don't have one of the defendants get out of jail free card for the rest of them. this is very unusual you would be in a situation where lawyers would be working together on a joint effort to defend them all when one guy in the room has lawyers that can actually intermate, well, you know what our guy can do. they won't say it, they're too smart of lawyers, but this is a chat everything for a prosecutor, how do you make an obstruction case in this
context? but i do think if you went to a jury, a jury would understand this isn't a mob boss. this isn't a drug dealer. this isn't, you know, this is the president of the united states who can pardon everybody that's being investigated in this case. that takes it to a whole different level, and i think the jury would acknowledge that. >> robert costa, you've talked to all of the players. where does this story go next? who is still pressing on them? is it congress, is it the conversations in the southern district of new york? we played the sound of michael cohen talking about some of these conversations being part of an ongoing probe. what is your sense of where the most intense interest is in this pardon question in. >> at the moment the most intent interest lies on capitol hill. you had mr. cohen go before the house intelligence committee this week behind closed doors, unlike his appearance before the oversight committee, and he was asked based on "the washington post" report about pardons and about conversations with the trump legal team.
this comes to the core issue of how is the trump legal team actually operating behind the scenes? because publicly, president trump has made the case that he's cooperating with robert mueller and other investigators. he's not cited executive privilege again and again. he's encouraged people to be witnessing and sit before the mueller team. yet behind the scenes pardon power is a use of executive authority, and should the extent the president was involved, that's under scrutiny as well. >> robert costa, thank you for spending time with us. we're grateful. after the break, the stuff of dystopian novels, enemies list compiled by republicans targeting americans at the southern border. rn border.
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we are keeping our eyes on everything happening down in virginia right now. paul manafort is face to face with a judge as we speak, and we can learn about his sentence at any moment. we'll go right to it if that happens. but in the meantime, the federal government can barely keep track of the families it's ripped
apart at the southern border and yet custom boards protection somehow has the time and bandwidth to compile a veritable enemy's list. 59 people, american reporters, attorneys and activists being stopped for questions by border agents while crossing the u.s./mexican border at san diego aek checkpoints. interviews and documents obtained by a san diego station revealed 21 people on the list have been either questioned or arrested. the list includes 10 journalists, seven of them u.s. citizens, a u.s.-based attorney and others labeled organizers and stain gators, 31 of whom are american. joining us now, nbc national superior reporter julian ainsley. this was a stop me in my track story when i read it. i said please come to our 4:00. please add to our understanding on this reporting of a
remarkable, terrifying story. >> nicolle, i had the same reaction when our affiliate in san diego came to me they had obtained this document with 59 names including attorneys, journalists and aide workers who simply are doing their jobs on the other side of the border in mexico with immigrants, they had this list at the board perder p in san diego put together and compiled not just people to stop but information on these people, information they gleaned through interviews. i was able to run that down here with our sources at dhs to figure out what does this mean? the first thing i was told by a spokesperson was that this is normal. this is them trying to figure out what happened in november during the caravan violence. you can remember the tear gas, rocks thrown, they were simply looking into that, that these people had been there in that instance. but the more we dug, nicolle, the more that didn't seem to be the case. a lot of these people were nowhere near that incident and these people were not questioned
about that incident. they were stopped in january and asked about their work with asylum seekers, how they were coaching asylum seekers before they came across the border. it's really had a chilling effect on them. i spoken to people not just stopped in san diego but elsewhere saying now they're afraid to do their jobs. they're afraid to do across the border because what if coming back in means another five-hour pull-aside and interrogation by border patrol? >> julia, let me press you on a few of the most troubling aspects of this story. everything we know about the human -- i don't know what else to call it, human tragedy at the border we learn from journalists who went there. i remember the propublica reporter who brought us the audiotape of the wailing child, that told the story in a we we never would have understood it. jacob soberov, or colleagues have been there, this station made a big investment in sending and protecting our reporters at the border. what is it that operationalized the production of this enemy's list? i worked in the federal
government for six years. the cabinet agencies communications job reported into the white house and it seems to me this is a mega scandal in the making f anyone in the white house was getting reports from the communication offices at cpb, this is going to be under investigation in a new york minute. >> that's right, nicolle. one of the things i can tell you when you look through this list of names, the overwhelming number of journalists are photographers, people who are simply just shining a light and taking a picture of what they see down there. when they're able to see people in tent camps. when they're able to see people in cages. children who have been separated from their parents, simply pointing their camera and shooting, those are the people pulled aside. a lot of times they don't know their rights. they don't know whether or not they're supposed to turn over the materials, turn over their cell phone. as you know, a journalist cell phone is very important and private if they want to protect not just themselves but their sources. at this point cbp is saying they needed to know this simply to understand what was going on but that's just not shaking out.
because we're seeing that people who weren't anywhere near violent are being stopped. i also know from my reporting, not just on this story but others, cbp and dhs in general really worries about its image. during the family separation crisis last summer, they seemed to be more worried about the messaging on that than what was going on. there was a lot of push and pull internally on maybe we're just not getting the message bought why this is happening. >> julia, stay with us for this conversation. claire this -- go. >> i think what's happened here is there's bias within that agency that the asylum workers, the aide workers, some of the journalists, that they were going into mexico and coaching people on what to say in order to successfully navigate the asylum process. >> the photographers? >> yeah, but that's their bias, is that everybody is down there trying to help people get across the border.
well, with all due respect, these people have made this their lives' work to help asylum seekers. many of these, and i'm discountsing journalists who are just doing their jobs and telling us the story of what's going on. but these aide workers are down there, they're not coaching them to lie or to say -- they're just explaining what the process is. frankly, cbd ought to be glad of that. that way you have people understanding what could happen when they get to the border, that in fact they could be put into some kind of detention with or without their children. so i think it's misplaced paranoia that somehow the aide workers are in mexico facilitating criminals. as general kelly, this is a really important point to make. listen, general kelly worked for president trump a lot longer than 49 days. he was chief of staff for months and months and months.
and he was former head of dhs. he said in the last few days, these aren't criminals coming across the border. these are families coming from economic reasons. they're trying to provide for their families. so this way the president has set this up -- >> let me put that up. i have a followup question for you. the comments were made yesterday. our carol lee was there. john kelly differs with trump on immigration and security clearances. contrary to trump's comments many u.s. immigrants coming to the u.s. border are criminals and kelly added by the way, they're overwhelmingly not criminals, they're people coming up here for economic purposes. i don't blame them for that. he didn't defend trump's decision for a national emergency for funding for a border wall and said we don't need a wall from sea to shining sea. kelly also expressed disagreement with deploying u.s. troops, even national guard troops to the border, as trump did last fall. >> it's driving him crazy because he's a military guy. he sees the role of military
that you should be defending national security, not defending a border against really poor people that are scared and think america is wonderful. >> well said. i do think though the question of what's happening to journalists, particularly photographers, even how much photographs and the audio last year, you know, started to spark a movement. on june 30th, you had tens of thousands of people, mostly women, mothers, going down to the border saying families belong together. so this is -- this question of how the united states government treats the most desperate people in the world who are coming exactly here because they think america is a land of opportunity and safe haven for immigrants, as it has been since its beginning, is really i think the biggest moral stain on this administration. i think the kind of activism you saw in the midterms particularly driven by women saying all right, fine, i will run is because of that like moral
breaking point that happened when we heard children crying because they were separated from their parents. when their parents had risked everything in their lives to bring them to this country. and so my look at that report, which i did yesterday and hi the exact same reaction, i don't think it's just the basic sort of oh, we're skeptical of aide workers talking about asylum. i think it's much more nefarious than that. this is the question of one of the things there will be a nuremberg-type trials about what happened on our watch. so there are photographers who are going down there and they're trying to question next and take away their cameras, that's what this is about. it's not about asylum rules. >> michael steele, we talk about trump's autocratic tendencies in theoretical ways but this is the conduct of an autocrat. >> yeah, this is the example of the exercising of that authority downward, putting downward pressure on administrationive arms and operations to carry out
sort of that autocratic, you know, command. and so when you look at what the president's rhetoric has been on the border, you look at the president's rhetoric on how he sees our allies versus our adversaries, you're going to see the organs of government begin to reflect that and how they execute and how they operationalize what the president wants done. so, yeah, you're going to put immigrant children in cages because operationalizing that is -- that's what it looks like. that's what that policy looks like. so i think for a lot of us, we just need to be clear-eyed as well as clear-headed about how this administration, particularly this president, is going to move over the next 18 months. this is just the beginning, nicolle. there is more of this to come. and if you want to get a taste of what the next four years from 2020 to 2024 will look like,
this is a warmup. it becomes more bold. it becomes more aggressive because once you cross that threshold and the president knows they've thrown everything at me, they've thrown investigations. they've had never investigation, trump eers have come after me, m still standing and it doesn't get better from there. >> terrifying worlds, julia ainsley, thank you for spending time with us. when we come back awaiting a sentence for former campaign chairman paul manafort. that hearing under way, we could know any moment. way, we could know any moment. smile dad.
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well let owe now how it works itself out. this story and reporting on an enmys list of activists and photo journalists on the border. >> if you look back at some of these signal moments, when did trump invoke the caravan, right? he sensationalized it around the midterms and the middle of the state of the union speech. and the things that are the most somethi damages are the photographs of gassing of families and trump focuses on very few things like the media. to him he knows ahead to are images. apprehensions were down. it was not a conduit for drug
deals. they were not trading the criminality rate in the united states. trump created this as a sensationalist event. it got out of his control. and he forced everyone in his administration to play ball and trying to control how they think about it. this is the logical extreme for me. if they can't control what is going in at the other end they will control it at the border by arresting and surveilling journalists and particularly photo journalists. >> my question is around the president's conduct. is it in government the same way that he makes comments about the caravan, he uses the roosevelt room and makes up lies about a caravan in which middle ea middle easterners. >> that is a great question.
i think probably with respect to the border he will be more explicit. he doesn't think there issing in wrong with it. i think he knows on some level that cohen, pardons, changing testimony, but you know to me this is like all of these stories tied together for one reason facts are really bad for trump and every time facts really come out whether or not it be in court filings, judges, prosecutors, journalists, forecasts, they hurt trump. that's when you see resistance to him, they see people stand up and push back. and so i think it is all -- when he demeans the fbi. when he demeans the department of justice. when he talks about fake news, when they try to essentially stop journalists, it is all to stop facts from coming out. >> we're going to sneak in our last break, don't go anywhere,
we have an unpredictable news hour, my thank you to our guests, we're grateful for having you and grateful to you for watching, "mtp daily" picking up our breaking news. good evening i'm chuck todd here in washington. buckle up, it will be a very wild hour. we'll be all over the map here in the area. you're looking at the house floor where in the next 20 minutes or so they're expected to vote on what they're calling anti-hate resolution which is a giant headache for the dcs. we're going to start with breaking news on the other side of the river. paul manafort is going to price. we're also going to find out for