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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  May 19, 2017 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT

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week. thank you for being here with us. have a good weekend and good night for all of us from new york. two major news stories dropped to do as soon as air force one was wheels up for the president's first trip abroad. as soon as we saw what broke in today's news it suddenly became newly interesting to note just how many of the people you have ever heard of who work in this white house were all together on that plane leaving washington today or who are leaving in the next couple days to join the traveling white house on this giant tour. look at all of the people who are going. look at all the people who left. honestly, who's left at 1600 pennsylvania avenue? if someone comes to the door and knocks tonight, let's just say
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the fbi rings the doorbell tonight, who's there to answer? elaine chau? who else is around? as soon as wheels were up to start this foreign trip, the "new york times" reported this story. according to the "times" reporting, the white house does not dispute it, the official white house record of the president hosting the russian foreign minister and the russian ambassador in the oval office, the official white house record not disputed by the white house includes direct quotes from the president telling these russian officials that thank god the pressure on him about russia is lifted now because he fired the fbi director. quote, i just fired the head of the fbi. i faced great pressure because of the russia. that's taken off. lots of consent headlines about this story and discussion about this story today have been
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focusing on the fact that the president is also quoted in this official white house account of that meeting calling fired fbi director james comey, quote, crazy, a real nut job. you know what though? when one of your work colleagues is somebody the president calls sleepy eyes, when he says senator mccain is no war hero, best not to get too caught up in what names this particular president flings at people. that's how he behaves even though he's president of the united states. he calls people all sorts of stuff. so i realize everybody was very excited about him calling the fbi director a nut job. if i'm the fbi director, i am probably very unhappy about that. i'm sure it rt feelings.
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it's exercising, it's weird it's a display of his temperament. there is big news in this story, and the news here is, one, he confirmed again on the record that he fired the fbi director to try to alleviate the pressure of the russia investigation. that admission alone would have been an unthinkable admission for any american president even before the past two weeks. but he's now confirmed that's why he if i read the fbi director, number the works this shows why the white house is abandoning its previous effort to cook up a dirt rationale for why he fired comey. i stress the white house is not disputing to the "new york times" what they're quoting is the official white house account of that meeting. they're not disputing that, that it's accurate quotes of the they're not confirming the president says he fired the fbi director because the fbi director was leaving the russia investigation into the president. and not incidentally, the third big piece of news here is that he was bragging about that fact to high-ranking russian
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government officials, telling them don't worry about it. i think the pressure's off now. i fired the guy. i mean, that was the quote, right? i just fired the head of the fbi. i faced great pressure because of russia. that's now taken off. accurate quotes. so that broke. and then moments after that story broke in the "new york times," "the washington post" updated its front page to this. white house adviser close to trump is a person of interest in russia probe. with this story, "the washington post" gets one of those landmark stories that makes people buy the print edition of the newspaper and save it because they might be able to sell it for a lot of money someday or impress their grandkids. quote, the law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between russia and the trump campaign has identified a current white house -- people familiar with the matter report the fact that
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the a senior current white house official is a person of interest now. that means the probe is reaching into the highest levels of the u.s. government. and not just into the highest levels, reaching into the center of the government as well. quote, the senior white house adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president. again, in "the washington post" they cite sources at people familiar with the matter. but after the "washington post" published their scoop on this today, nbc news was able to confirm it from reporters pete williams. two u.s. officials say the activities of a current white house officials are now under investigation. in neither "the washington post" reporting on this nor nbc's reporting do we actually have the name of who the person of interest is.
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we are told the person is a senior white house adviser who is close to the president, but put that list up again. this is at least a partial list of who's going on the big foreign trip today. that's a very large chunk of all the people who are known to be senior advisers in this white house. we don't have a name. we don't know if it's one of these white house officials who is also the person of interest in the trump russia collusion law enforcement investigation, but somebody apparently is. earlier this week, nbc news was first to report that mike flynn and paul manafort, the former national security adviser, former campaign chairman, were official subjects of criminal investigations in which federal grand jury subpoenas have been issued. and the "washington post" tonight reaffirmed they were keenly interested in them. both of them subjects of
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criminal investigations, both in the cross hairs but weapon now -- we now know it's not only them because neither of them can be this new person of interest because neither is a current white house official. so the president flies off on his first foreign trip tonight in the face of confirmed reporting now that his former campaign chairman and national security adviser and somebody working for him now as a senior adviser on the white house are the subject of active law enforcement investigations specifically into whether his campaign colluded with russia on the election last year. these are not normal times. "the washington post" also reports tonight that the fbi is investigating whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president. and they report the fbi's inquiries may be more visible in
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public. the fbi is getting to a point where we're going to see more subpoenas and more fbi interviews. we don't always find out about those things immediately when they happen, but oftentimes people who are subject to interviews are stoudge subpoenas, oftentimes those people peep about the fact that has happened. and so prepare for more news days like this. now, in terms of what we know substantively about the russian side, we've also had two new developments on that front that have been lower profile but are going to end up being really important. the first is victor medvedchuk. he's known to be one of vladimir putin's closest friends. he's one of putin's trusted active political fixers. it's a. >> i will onnary oligarch, and frequently used by vladimir putin as an emissary, even as a courier in sensitive political matters.
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yesterday reuters named him. yesterday reuters reported that ctor medvedchuk is one of the russians who turns up in these undisclosed calls between trump associates and kremlin associates. these 18 previously undisclosed contacts that are now in the hands of federal investigators. victor medvedchuk denies such contacts, but reuters names him as one of the two russian names that have been seen in those intercepts between the russians and the campaign. the two russian names that have been seen according to reuters that apparently are not disclosed or being kept from investigators, at least the ones who are able to get this information to reuters. the two names, kislyak and medvedchuk. as the collusion problem is
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reported to reach into the white house, that's one new, one very high-ranking, one very close to putin russian connection to the trump campaign that we just learned about yesterday. the other one we just learned about this week relates to this bank, v.e.b. v.e.b. is a russian state-controlled bank, meaning vladimir putin personally sits on the supervisory board for this bank. he personally directs its activities. v.e.b. is a big part of how he financed the sochi olympics construction. the construction was fantastically, phenomenally corruptly overbudget. it was the most spent on any olympics ever, but it was all spent through v.e.b. bank at putin's discretion. v.e.b. is under sanctions by the u.s. government. the top execute chb recently got
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out of prison in ohio. the charging documents against that just released russian spy showed that one of the americans, his spy ring try to recruit in new york to be a russian agent was trump campaign foreign policy adviser carter page. in addition to all that that we have known about v.e.b., one of the meetings with the russian official that jared kushner didn't disclose on his application for a security clearance was a meeting he had with the head of v.e.b. who was personally installed in that position by vladimir putin. so v.e.b., this russian bank, this putin-controlled bank, it was already on our radar in terms of unaccounted for meetings between the russian government and the trump government. this week as we learn more about the trump russia inclusion investigation landing on a person of interest who's currently inside the white house at a senior level, this week we also got a new piece of
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information about that bank and the trump organization. this week "the wall street journal" reported just a few days ago that v.e.b. pumped tons of money, many millions of dollars into trump's business partner in a big trump branded toronto building that had loss of financial difficulties. so whether it's the money inquiries the involvement of u.s. attorneys offices around the country, whether it is the known subjects of criminal investigation, whether it's the naming of a person of interest in the white house, the trump russia collusion inquiry is getting very hot very fast. we got two named subjects from the campaign, one unnamed person of interest who's not named, but someone high up in the white house. we are getting more and more information on who's who on the
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russian side of the investigation. and our new president flew away today in the middle of all this. after he was in the air today as all this news was breaking they announced he's firing mcfarland from fox news. he's demoting her to ambassador of singapore. the presidency doesn't stop just because there's apparently someone working as a senior adviser in a serious fbi investigation into foreign influence and u.s. politics. it keeps going. but there are two things i think we have to be rigorously attentive to now in this news. number one, as this fbi investigation starts rattling changes this loudly, as they get this close to the president as
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this investigation gets into the white house, what's within the president's power to try to do to shut it down? what could he do to shut this investigation down or to try to blow it off course? we have some very striking new news on that for you tonight coming up in educational background with somebody who's very much in a position to know how that would work. that's one. nail that down. how could anybody derail this investigation now that it's getting this close to the president? the other thing we have to nail down tight is whether we're sure we really get this, whether we really understand what's being because ordered what we know to be true. this is historic stuff. there is ample reason to make sure we're absolutely getting this freaking right. to that end, joining us is devlin barrett. he's national security writer for the "washington post." he broke this very big news. mr. barrett, thank you for
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joining us on a big day, congratulations on the scoop. >> thank you. thanks for having me. >> let me just ask you. in terms of my describing your story, did i get that right? did i mess anything up there? >> no, i think you got it exactly right. i think the importance of it is that there's no denying at this point that this is a very complex and fraught situation in which you have doj and fbi personnel actively investigating someone at the center of american power which is the white house. >> what is a person of interest? >> person of interest is kind of a term of art. it's not -- it doesn't have any legal significance. it's used more by reporters than by law enforcement. i think persf interest is another way of saying someone who is under investigation, someone who's being looked at very seriously. this is both a counterintelligence
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investigation and a criminal investigation. there's a lot of overlap here of those two topics. my view is that calling them a person of interest is the fairest way to describe the fact someone is being looked at very seriously in this investigation. >> okay. both you guys at the "post" and nbc news confirmed with multiple sources there is this person of interest with everything we need to understand about that term. nobody so far is reporting who that person is. feel free to tell me to buzz off on this. is this one of those things where you know who it is, you've confirmed who it is, you would consider it to be reportable information, but you're being asked for security reasons not to say? that comes up sometimes. >> it does. if that were an issue -- that's not the issue here.
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we have more reporting to do and we're working on that reporting. i'll be working on it after i leave here. there's more work to do. frankly, i think me and my colleagues felt that this much that we knew was important and worth sharing with the public and made a difference. and i tell you, mattered partly because of the complications of it but also because of what it said about the investigation. a lot of the argument over this investigation is oh, it's really nothing and it's the biggest thing in the world. anything we can do to help define what is and isn't in play is probably valuable hopefully to readers. >> you also report this investigation is moving in perhaps to a more public phase, not a deliberately public phase. do we know anything about fbi interviews with white house officials yet other than the
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mike flynn fbi interview we know about that took place right after the investigation: we have not gained any information about interviews of white house officials. we've been told that interviews of people, not necessarily white house officials. there have been interviews done with americans and various people related to this broad category of the russian influence investigation. but that's not really a thing that has been observable to the outside wod. the people who are describing this to us are saying we need to start talking to people who may talk themselves to the public or may be seen talking to us. there's a whole issue involved in this process where you can only learn so much through intelligence gathering and record gathering before you have to start talking to people face
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to face. >> yeah, and seeing stuff happen before your own eyes. >> that's right. >> devlin barrett, national security reporter for the "washington post." very impressive historic reporting. lots of kids in this country who are looking at you realizing they want to be you when they grow up. i hope you can enjoy it even though you're working very hard. >> thank you, rachel. >> there is more new in this story today. stay with us. ♪ whether you're after supreme performance... advanced intelligence... or breathtaking style... there's a c-class just for you. decisions, decisions, decisions. lease the c300 sedan for $399 a month at your local mercedes-benz dealer. mercedes-benz. the best or nothing. if you have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, isn't it time
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so there's these two big pieces of of reporting, the news from "the washington post" we discussed with devlin barrett about the trump russia collusion investigation now having a person of interest in the white
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house a person working there in a senior adviser role described as close to the president. also simultaneously we got a report that, quote, i just fired the head of the fbi, i faced great pressure because of russia. that's taken off. both of these stories breaking late today. "the new york times" report, that now fully confirms without a doubt that the president has been trying to stymie the russia investigation. he admits it. he's been trying to relieve the pressure of the russia investigation by messing with it in various ways. the president is now on the record twice admitting his firing of the fbi director was about his unhappiness and worry about the trump investigation. but that is not the only thing he's done to stop the russia investigation. when you tack stack up all
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things this white house has done to stop that investigation or distract that investigation or pervert it in some way, it's a substantial stack of stuff. there was the strange interaction between white house staff and the chairman of the house intelligence committee who is supposed to be leading one of the key congressional russia investigations a mike flynn hire at the national security council reportedly was involved in feeding classified information to the house intelligence chairman to help him try to knock that investigation off course. e intelligence chairman is now under ethics investigation. but it did delay for weeks what was ultimately that explosive testimony from former act attorney general sally yates. the white house devin nunes stunt did delay the yates testimony for a while, but remember, the white house also just tried to block her from testifying. they tried to tell her she one day allowed to testify. it was only when her lawyers brushed the white house back on that white house effort to stop her from testifying that then
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they appear to have tried plan b. devin nunes pulled this stunt and canceled the hearing. we've learned the president also told the fbi director directly to shut down the trump-russia investigation into mike flynn. the white house is denying it but the ousted fbi director says he documented it when it happened at the time. the white house also told them them to talk to reports about contacts between the trump campaign and russian intelligence sources reporting that turned out to be corroborating over and over and over again by multiple other sources even though the white house enlisted these guys running the russia investigations to please try to shut it down. we also now know the president himself and the white house chief of staff pressured the fbi director to make public statements about the trump-russia investigation to
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make sure the administration look better than they do on this subject. he refused to do that and then, of course, he did get fired. the president fired him. and then the next day he admitted first to the russian officials and then the next day to lester holt that he did it, that he did fire james comey because of russia. this president, this white house has tried very hard to head off the trump-russia investigation, even before it got as dire as it got today with this. howl they stop it now? fbi investigations are now being led by the special counsel robert mueller. "special" means his role is outside the normal hierarchy, outside the normal chain of command of government employees. that said, there are ways that the president could try to kibosh robert mueller's special
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council investigation. for example, reuters reports tonight that the trump administration is exploring whether they might use ethics rules to undermine mueller's investigation by claiming there's some conflict of interest involving his former law firm that he quit in order to take this job. that would be an incorrect way to go after his investigation. or they could go right at him directly. turned special counsel regulations, robert mueller technically answers to the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein. if rod rosenstein is going to try to stymie the investigation, there are ways he can do that. let's assume rod rosenstein is a good actor. he's going to let mueller his thing. let's assume he doesn't want to mess up the investigation. even if rosenstein is a good actor here, could the president still mess it up? yes, he could.
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the president could order the deputy attorney general, rode rosenstein, to fire robert mueller if the attorney general refused the president, he could fire him. the president could order the deputy attorney general to restrict the scope of the mueller investigation. if the deputy attorney general refused to do that, the president could fire him for that. the president could order the deputy attorney general to impede the resources that mueller needs for his investigation. if the deputy ag refused to do that, the president could fire him. in any of those instances there would be interesting questions about what would happen thereafter, and if those orders didn't work and he fired the deputy ag -- a lot of interesting questions. even if none of these things happened, there's also at least one nuclear option which could be way more direct if the president really wanted to kill this thing. the regulations that make it
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possible to have a special counsel are justice department regulations. it's not a law passed by congress, justice department regulations. trump could just order the justice department to rescind those regulations so there's no longer any such thing as a special counsel within the department of justice. he could direct them to get rid of the regulations and mueller would just go poof. what do you mean you're special counsel? there's no such thing as a special counsel. couldn't he do that? if you don't think he would do something that radical, now that this is friend of "the washington post," don't you think he might do something that radical? again, answerable question with an answer. hold on, that's coming up. anything, text me. do you play? ♪ ♪
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former acting solicitor general of the united states neal katyal convened a working group that wrote the regulations for the special counsel. special counsel regulations are the rules that govern the process, the oversight and ultimately the prospects for what is now robert muller's special counsel investigation into the trump russia affair. when they was appointed special counsel to lead the investigation, neal katyal praised the pick of robert muller for that job. he also sounded a little bit of an alarm as guy who wrote the
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regulations, that he knows there are ways for a president to interfere with the special counsel investigation, even for a president to try to shut it down. i would like to hear more about that. neal katyal, former acting solicitor general of the united states. thank you for coming back to talk with us. >> thank you. >> we now have this new round of reporting about the seriousness of the fbi investigation, the closeness to the president in terms of this person of interest. if the president is freaked out by this new reporting, if he was reviewing his options to kibosh or screw up this investigation, what would be his best bet? >> just following your first guest, we think of checks and balances as being courts, but the real story this week is the press and people like devlin and the "new york times" doing that
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kind of reporting which is what our founders envisioned in the first amendment. that's actually the answer to this question which is sure, there are all sorts of ways a president can stymie a special counsel but the regulations were drafted with a lot of input from erica holder, janet reno, to try and say sunlight is the best way to avoid a president who's going to try to endear. all those options you mentioned like firing muller or ordering the deputy attorney general to fire muller, all those those are things this would have to be forced into the sunlight and the president would have to justify what he's doing. that's the idea behind the special counsel regulations. >> just trying to be able to to imagine things before they happen but i've failed at all year long. if the president directed the
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deputy attorney general to do something related to this investigation and he said no, the president responded by firing him, would those responsibilities of the deputy attorney general fall to somebody else below him in the hierarchy or would the senate need to confirm a new deputy attorney general for robert muller to report to essentially as special counsel? >> they uldn't need to confirm. it would go to the associate attoey general and then to the solicitor general. there's rules for special counsels and the first paragraph buys into that rule of succession. president could be doing things like using the ethics rules that are being reported on this week and the white house is looking at the ethics rules to say you came from the same law firm as jared kushner as a client and other people in the investigation, and so you're going to be barred from it.
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apart from the irony of this white house suddenly discovering the ethics code and following the niceties of law for the first time, be careful what you wish for. if that does happen and they evoke that ethics rule instead of seeking waiver i think the result would be two special counsels, not one. i can't imagine that's a good thing for the white house. >> both of them in power to investigate as they saw fit. one other issue you raised today in "the washington post." you suggested that one way the investigation could be impeded is if congress screwed it up on purpose, if a committee decided to start granting immunity to witnesses, telling witnesses you'll be immune from prosecution come tell us what you know, thus interfering with the ability to prosecute that witness or make use of them for
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the inquiry that mueller would be leading with the fbi. first of all, did i get that right? it would take a 2/3 vote of any committee to grant that immunity. it would have to be a pretty big effort. >> you could have a congress that's trying to search for truth and say we have to give immunity to them because they're taking the fifth. we have precedent for this. this happened with oliver north when he gave his testimony. the independent counsel later prosecuted him and his convictions were thrown out because they found those convictions tainted because he testified, gave evidence before the committee and maybe the prosecutors used it, maybe they didn't.
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what this underscores, if i'm the president right now, the first thing i'm doing is lawyering up. he's got to get his own set of lawyers and i suspect that's more true of the president and the white house staff. we're going to be seeing all sorts of complicated moves between the white house and private lawyers. >> neal katyal, former acting solicitor general, now professor of law at georgetown university. >> thank you. >> much more ahead. stay with us. can a toothpaste do everything well?
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2011 there was somebody snooping in the united states in a bad way. he was snooping specifically on people who had moved here or who were visiting from syria, people who were actively protesting heren the united states against the syrian regime. this person filmed and reported protesters and activists and then sent those tapes back to the syrian government. ugly stuff. but the good news is they caught the guy and he was sentenced to federal prison for acting as an unregistered agent of the syrian government. they had this spy in america spying on people protesting against the assad machine. they sent him a has not and paid for his travel so he could sent
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this intimately intel. they put him in a private meeting with the president, bashar al assad. eventually he got caught here and he got put in prison for it here. the u.s. department of justice has a special office that deals with cases like that, that specifically authorizes prosecutions that relate to espionage and things like that. the special prosecutor in virginia is a prosecutor named brandon van grack. he's basically an espionage specialist. now he's reportedly the guy in charge of the grand jury for mike flynn specifically on the matter of his foreign business contacts, ties to a turkish businessman who paid for his foreign interests while he was working for the trump campaign. here's my question.
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what is an espionage prosecutor really? as of tonight we have solid reporting that three top trump advisers are subjects or persons of interest in criminal inquiries. there's the unnamed senior white house adviser close to the president described by "the washington post" tonight as person of interest in the collusion inquiry. there's the former campaign chair paul manafort, and there's the former national security adviser michael flynn. what does it mean there's an espionage prosecutor working his part of this? does that mean it's way more serious? does this mean it's qualitatively different? i'm going to ask somebody who knows next. y mutual stood with e when this guy got a flat tire in the middle of the night. hold on dad... liberty did what? yeah, liberty mutual 24-hour roadside assistance helped him to fix his flat so he could get home safely. my dad says our insurance doesn't have that. don't worry - i know what a lug wrench is, dad.
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in march, president trump took it upon himself to fire en masse without warning 46 sitting u.s. attorneys across the country. almost all of them. they had previously decided they were not going to fire them all at once, but for some reason they did. one of the u.s. attorneys who got fired she was there for eight years, her ten newer was high-profile including the prosecution of the underwear bomber who was ultimately sentence today life in prison. ms. mcquade has extensive prosecuting cases involving terrorism financing and also foreign agents. just the person we need to talk to. former u.s. attorney barbara mcquade joins us tonight on a friday night.
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i appreciate you making time to be here. >> my pleasure. >> there is told an espionage prosecutor who is taking a lead on this probe of michael flynn's business dealings. this has all been reported in the press in terms of how that investigation is going on. i wondered if you could tell us what it means for somebody to be called an espionage prosecutor, and what that tells us than case? >> at the justice department, there is a division called the national security division. and within that division, there is a section called the counterintelligence and export control section. that is the group who are the experts in counterintelligence investigations. and counterintelligence just means plain defense against foreign spice. >> and in terms of there being somebody at main justice who does that, we're told that this -- this effort around michael flynn is not being run out of main justice. it's being run out of a u.s. attorney's office, in his case in the eastern district of virginia.
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a espionage prosecution or somebody with expertise in those matters, that the thing where the justice department might second a prosecutor from main justice to come out and work with the u.s. attorney's office, sort of a specialist on a case like that? >> yes. it makes sense to me that they would pair like that. the case needs to be brought in a district where there is venue, where some of the aspects of the crime occurred. so eastern virginia may be a place if the flynn intel group is located there, for example. that could be why venue is there. and it is very common for an assistant u.s. attorney who is out of that office to pair with an expert from the national security division. in fact, the u.s. attorneys manual requires approval and consultation depending on the statutes that you're using from the national security division. >> as we have been trying to keep up both with the news about mike flynn and also paul manafort, one of the things that keeps coming up is the question of reg centering as a foreign agent. and the way that gets described often in the press in a
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discussion about these things is that that's not that big a deal. violating that requirement to register as a foreign agent isn't really a serious legal matter. one of the reasons i want to talk to you, though, is in michigan it really looks like you did prosecute unregistered foreign agents. they don't seem like minor matters. i wonder if you could just address that, the way that's described in the process versu how it seems to you from a prosecutor's perspective. >> there is a federal offense at makes it a crime to act as a foreign agent without first notifying the attorney general. so if you tell the attorney general, you can act as a lobbyist or do business on behalf of a foreign government. but when you fail to disclose and when you're acting under the direction or control of a foreign government, then it becomes a crime. so if you are being tasked or asked to do things or take action on behalf of a government, and the united states government doesn't know about it, then it becomes a ten-year felony. >> barbara mcquade, former u.s. attorney for the eastern district of michigan. one of these people who was inexplicably fired with no
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notice after having been told to stay put. i'm sure it's been a real roller coaster over the last few months. thank you for being with us tonight, ma'am. i really appreciate i. >> thanks. we have a bit of a mystery tonight. it concerns the former fbi director, and somebody is really getting it wrong, and that story is next. yeah, at first i thought it was just the stress of moving. [ sighs ] hey, i was using that. what, you think we own stock in the electric company? i will turn this car around right now! there's nobody back there. i was becoming my father. [ clears throat ] it's...been an adjustment, but we're making it work.
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that doesn't make sense. in the immediate aftermath of his firing last tuesday, "the new york times" reported that just days before the president canned him, james comey had been trying to expand and add resources to the russia investigation. quote, days before he was fired as fbi director, comey asked the justice department for more prosecutors and other personnel to accelerate the bureau's investigation into russia's interference in the presidential election. comey's, quote, appeal described by four congressional officials was made to rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. that "new york times" story was first. it was subsequently corroborated by multiple news organizations. "the wall street journal" th same night. quote, mr. comey last week sought more resources to support the bureau's investigation. he requested additional personnel from rod rosenstein. sources, people familiar with the matter. the ap also got that story citing u.s. officials. "the washington post" also backed up the story citing several people familiar with the discussion. nbc got it, getting this quote from a congressional aide.
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quote, what he wanted was basically more prosecutors, more support from the doj for writing subpoenas and warrants. so that quickly became a really important controversial part of the narrative as to why the president might have fired james comey. fired him right after he asked to expand and accelerate that investigation. but right from the beginning, the justice department insisted that it was not true. justice department said instantly that the claim he asked for more resources was totally false, totally false, 100% false there was absolutely no request. then the acting fbi director andrew mccabe said the same thing the next day under oath. he said he was, quote, not aware of that request. and now today another very high level, very blunt, broad denial from somebody who it's kind of hard to question on a matter like this, honestly. the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein briefed all members of the house today in a classified setting. we later got a written version of his remarks. they ended with this, quote, i
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want to address the media claims that the fbi asked for additional resources for the investigation of russian interference in the election. i'm not aware of any such requests. more over, i consulted my staff and acting fbi director andrew mccabe, and none of them recalls such a request. it's really emphatic. so you've got the department of justice spokesperson, the acting head of the fbi, the deputy attorney general, all forcibly and consistently and some of them under oath saying no, that did not happen. comey didn't have for more resources for investigation right before he was fired. that's on the one side. meanwhile, "the new york times," nbc news, "the wall street journal," the associated press, cnn, and politico are on the other side, all seemingly very comfortable with their reporting that, yeah, comey did make that request. these two things cannot co-exist. i mean, when these news reports first surfaced, democratic senators pat leahy and jeanne shaheen wrote to rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general seeking details of any request for increased resources made by
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the fbi to the department of justice north to complete its investigation into russian interference. they sent that letter eight days ago on may 11th. senators' offices tell us tonight they have yet to receive any response to that letter. >> shaheen's office tells us that the multiple apparently well sourced press reports and the justice department's blunt denial, those two things, those two things being in conflict make it all the more necessary for mr. rosenstein to respond to our letter. tonight we also spoke with the department of justice. we sort of put it to them hey, maybe you guys have been splitting hairs. maybe you have been kind of cute about this. maybe director comey had requested more prosecutors and that doesn't fall under the umbrella of resources. you sure you don't want -- but we were again given an emphatic no. we specifically asked them is the department of justice saying no requests were made for anything, period. this is the response that we got. quote, none, period. no gray area.
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one person who would be really great to hear from on this is james comey. tonight we learn that we might get that opportunity. senate intel announced that the former director james comey has agreed to testify at an open hearing. this is a thing that goes to motive, right. if firing the fbi director was to try to stop the russia investigation, his accelerating and expanding that investigation right before he got fired, maybe that was the trigger for firing him. that's part of the narrative now. but what if it isn't true? just about every major news organization in the country is going to be making a correction if that story is wrong. or theustice department is going to have to eat its hat, including the acting director of the fbi and the acting attorney general on this issue. one of these two sides has to be wrong. we'll figure it out. that does it for us tonight. see you again monday. now it's time for "the last word