tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC May 25, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
was fired? >> well, we know there's a lot of questions. people certainly want answers. gentlemen, thanks so much. i want to reiterate one more time the headline that crossed this hour. jared kushner, senior adviser to the president and son-in-law, now under fbi scrutiny in the russia probe according to officials. extraordinary. thank you for watching. you can catch me tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. eastern here on msnbc. "hardball" with chris matthews starts right now. jared kushner under scrutiny. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. nbc news has learned that jared kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of the senior white house advisers has come under scrutiny by the fbi. that's according to multiple high-level sources. meanwhile in montana, a candidate for u.s. congres
slams a reporter who asked him a question about health care. in brussels, the president of the united states shoves a european leader out of the way to get to the front of a group for pictures. two politicians, two abrupt acts of blij rans. but we start with the major development on the russia front. white house correspondent peter alexander joins us with details and reaction from kushner's attorney. peter? >> reporter: chris, here's the bottom line as you just reported right there, nbc news has now confirmed from multiple u.s. officials that jared kushner, as you said, the president's son-in-law, one of his closest advisers is now under fbi scrutiny in this russia investigation. the officials tell us that federal investigators believe he has significant information related to their inquiry, but they say it does not mean that they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him. what's notable here, though, the fbi scrutiny of kushner also means it's counterintelligence and criminal investigation goes not just to the white house but to the trump family circle. the officials said that kushner is in a different category.
this is significant. a different category than former trump aides paul manafort and michael flynn, who would ultimately come the national security adviser before he was fired. they are formally considered subjects of the investigation. the records of both of those men, manafort and flynn, have been demanded by grand jury subpoenas. tonight within the last hour, we heard from jared kushner's lawyer. she
tells nbc news this kushner has already volunteered to share with congress what he knows and will do the same if he is contacted in krkz with any other inquiry. >> my question would be right to the heart of the question which we've already been sort of sniffing around and trying to figure this there's something there. did anybody in the trump campaign or trump himself have anything to do with signaling russia, vladimir putin, that we were going to, under his administration, were going to relieve the sanctions against russia? what was jared kushner doing meeting with the bank president in russia? why would he be meeting with the top economic person except at his behest? i mean why would an american
want to meet with that top guy. if know damn well why a russian would want to do, to find out if we're going to get rid of the sanctions or not. it is, according to "the washington post," one of the reasons he's being looked at. >> reporter: i think you're exactly right. let's be clear about those meetings. there was a meeting that took place in december where kushner met with kislyak, the russian ambassador of the united states. there was a separate meeting with that russian banker you're speaking about. that would certainly be among the reasons why jared kushner would have information that the fbi wants to get from him. we haven't heard any official comment from the white house right now. it's notable that kushner and his wife, ivanka trump, were there for the first legs of this foreign trip. they were there for the stops in the middle east and saudi arabia and israel and the vatican before heading home. they were supposed to be leaving there earlier today, which means they either have arrived or some be arriving here shortly. but the bottom line for the moment is at least at this moment, we know that he is under fbi scrutiny but is not viewed
as a subject in this. obviously the investigation continues, and the information he shares with them may help redirect this investigation in one of many ways. >> let's recap over the last week. last week we heard there was someone in the white house which narrowed it down i thought to him, someone close to the president narrowed it even tighter around him. for whatever reason, reporters couldn't put out his name. now his name is out. let's recap in another direction. we know from the cia conversations of last summer that they were looking at russian officials and intel people, politicians and intel people who were all trying to figure out how they could use people like, as you mentioned early in the report there, paul manafort and michael flynn to get to trump. now, explain how that relates now to this investigation surrounding jared kushner, the president's son-in-law. >> reporter: well, what's striking about this, this is a day after we saw that testimony from the former cia director john brennan, who was speaking i guess a couple days after we heard from the former cia director john brennan talking about during his term --e lt in january. during his term, he saw
intelligence that demonstrated contacts and interactions between trump campaign associates and russian operatives. he would not identify at least in a public setting who those individuals were. the next day "the new york times" was able to report, based on its former and current u.s. officials, that the folks that the russians had conversations about trying to compromise or trying to use to their benefit in the trump campaign were michael flynn and paul manafort. and so now we're learning that jared kushner is also under the fbi scrutiny in relationship to this, but at least from the reporting that we have at this point, it doesn't appear kushner was one of the ones identified as someone that the russians were hoping to, as john brennan himself had said earlier this week, sort of pinpoint as a way they thought they could potentially manipulate not just the campaign but the u.s. election. >> let's go from the other direction, the trump direction. what is a non-elected son-in-law doing representing the united states government to be, the incoming administration, to the
russians, our adversary out there in the world? why is kushner sitting there talking for us, i guess, speaking for us? i don't know how he got that job. to the herussians and the head the russian bank. what was his role there if it wasn't some attempt to connect with them on the issue of sanctions? i don't see how else it could be. >> so the white house pushed back on this that we've heard during the campaign and now more recently during this administration is that jared kushner participated in a lot of different phone calls. the president has designated his son-in-law to be communicating with a lot of foreign leaders. the timing of these conversations is something that's going to get a lot of scrutiny obviously right now during the transition period when there was, remember, president obama's administration was still running things. so the question of those meetings taking place, that meeting with the russian ambassador taking place in december is one that there's going to be a lot of focus on right now. but you hit it. i mean you hit the nail on the head right there, chris. that's the question that is getting so much of the attention right now. why was not just kushner but these other individuals having these convertion and what
made those conversations apopriate whenhey weren't yet in office? >> well, i just think as an editorial right now, i think it was pay bad idea to let him become an assistant to the president. i think it's nepotism run wild. i think it's why we have nepotism principles in common laup because what happens is relatives of presidents and kings and prime ministers get to throw their influence around without the preparation, professional preparation they need for such a job and know where the hazards are, and we're hearing about the hazards. thank you very much, nbc's peter alexander at the white house. let's bring in nbc news intelligence and national security reporter ken dilanian along with jay newton-small. >> put it together, i'm looking at the russians coming at us, trying to use the russian contacts with certainly manafort, who is a russian guy, paid by the russians. flynn paid by the russians. all coming at trump to try to influence him. at the same time trump's got his
son-in-law going to relate to the top russian bank guy to talk about sanctions. it looks like ape ki kissing bo. both sides seem to want to get together. what is this? it's not like one side is coming after them and he doesn't want to meet them. he said, why don't you meet my beloved son-in-law? he's going to come and talk to you about this. >> let's take a step back and remind you -- >> i don't want to take a step back. why are they talking to each other? why are there so many russian type as round trump? why does he have them all over the place? >> so you had this campaign. the russians are trying to interfere in the election. they're hacking. they're leaking information to hurt democrats and to help donald trump. then the intelligence community sees these unexplained contacts between trump associates and the russians. that's not normal. the russians are an intelligence adversary of the united states. they throw people at usll the time, and they may have been
trying to influence the trump campaign through their contacts with all these intermediaries. and that's the question about these kushner meetings that are under scrutiny now is what were they about? what was said during those meet sngz we know that paul manafort and flynn are subjects. we're not reporting that kushner is there. he's under scrutiny. he's of interest to the fbi, but they're certainly interested in these meetings and they want to know the very questions that you're raising. >> okay. well he's under my scrutiny. i want to know what he's doing as son-in-law of the incoming president meeting with the head of the russian bank if it's not about economic issues? and who set up the meeting and why? was it the russians trying to get to trump through his son-in-law, which makes sense, or was it trump sending his son-in-law out as an emissary so he can put this deal about we're going to relieve the sanctions once he gets into office. why are they meet something are. >> there's only one topic they've got in common, money.
now it's going to change hands once the election is over. >> that's why this is raising such deep suspicions. this is a bank that had connections to russian intelligence and was under u.s. sanctions. so you're absolutely raising the right questions. i think that's what the fbi is trying to get to the bottom of. >> let me go to adam entous. apparently this story rivals our story at nbc, but they're very similar about this new scrutiny going from the fbi to the president's son-in-law. >> yeah. you know, the word scrutiny, it doesn't sit well with me. we all know what the fbi does, and it investigates. and that's what it is. it's investigating basically kushner's role and these contacts that he had with the russians, particularly in december but dating back to the spring as well. and that's -- it's understandable. i mean they're looking at -- they're trying to understand what was said in these meetings. were there any deals that were cut in these meetings? and so that's why they're investigating jared kushner. anso, you know, i thi is pretty clear here that this
investigation has become much more active in recent weeks, and this is the new information that we got last week. we didn't have enough sourcing to identify jared last week, but when we published the story earlier today, we were basically able to say that jared is being investigated. >> what's he doing with the bank president from russia? why is he going to see that guy if it isn't about economics? >> it seems like kislyak was pushing for that meeting rather than it necessarily being something that jared was seeking. so we don't really know. i mean obviously, you know, jared at that point in time, you know, was still much more active in his company. and so, you know, i don't know what the play was there on the russian side or on jared's side. that's something obviously investigators are going to be trying to understand. >> yeah. just the other day, dianne feinstein, who's really a good senator, she always has been. she said they don't have enough staff on economics, on bookkeeping and accounting to try to cut through this story and follow the money.
they're being shorthanded on the senate and the house side. they don't have the people they need to follow the story from their end. this scares me that the federal government and the u.s. congress doesn't have the little bit of money it takes to hire an accountant when they're spending trillions of dollars. margaret, this is follow the money time. i'm watching this guy, the son-in-law. he's a business guy, you know. we know what he's doing. he's making a lot of money. he married into a lot of money. he's in bed with that family, and the president troops him around with him. what's he got to see the pope for? what's he standing behind trump for at the pope? it's a statement to the world, if you want to deal with me, deal with him, isn't it? >> listen, jared kushner has been put in charge of just about everything in the white house, and anything jared's not in charge of, ivanka is in charge of. >> what does that say about the seriousness of this information? >> it's not serious. he's relying entirely on his family, and he thinks you can keep things serious. just because kislyak wants jared to meet with the banker of
russia doesn't mean kushner has to agree to the meeting. either he's being manipulated or it's somehow in their interest that the meeting take place. >> i look at this as i do most stories when they begin to develop. it's the old polaroid film. remember you get the polaroid and you look at the picture and it would look very vague. and you begin finally to see the person you took the picture of, right? this one, it keeps growing a little faster than normal. you find out that the russians according to the cia were trying to infiltrate manafort, trying to infiltrate flynn. now we've got this scrutiny, nice word, of kushner. we want to know why were they meeting with all the russians? my standard question is why so many russians? why so many people dealing with russians? i've known lots of administrations. i don't think obama had that many love affairs and terrorists and gigs with the russians. why trump? >> so there's so much smoke now. our eyes are burning. our throats are burning. there's a lot of fire.
i mean this is beyond even smoke. >> the son-in-law, why does he even have the job? they push the past the whole nepotism law. they found a way to get the guy in there so he could have these meetings with kislyak and the russian bank. it's trump wanted the love affair. trump is dieing to get to the russians. >> it's so inside now. paul manafort and the other subjects of the investigation, they're now out of office. this is not only in office, this is in the family, and this is really serious. >> chris, the other thing is that trump can say, oh, manafort, i hardly knew him. he worked here for five minutes. but you cannot say that about jared kushner, and that's one of the problems. you have your family for purposes of secrecy. >> it reminds me the end of the world wards 2 in europe where the russians met our guys and they're all dancing because the american side is meeting the red army. they both wanted to meet each other. tell me if i'm wrong, but trump wants something from the russians. why would he have all these meetings from the russian
connecon the russians clearly wanted to get somhing from m. they had purse here. go ahead. >> you know, why is trump from the very beginning so interested in improving cooperation with russia? you know, why does he think that, you know, working together, particularly on a counterterrorism operation, why does he think that is such a high priority for him? that's, again, a mystery. where does he get that belief? and obviously for the russians, what they wanted is pretty clear. they want relief from the sanctions. they would hope to basically improve that relationship, come in from the cold, and that's something with a new administration, obviously not hillary clinton, would potentially be able to give them, and that's what the russians want. >> here's a question, though. is bob mueller going to -- is he going to subpoena trump's taxes? the big question i've always had is how much does trump owe the russians? his sons have said we've got all these billions of dollars of
deals with the russians. do they own his mortgage? >> they said two weeks ago, with some exceptions. there's some stuff in there about russia. >> when asked, he said it's the miss universe contest. there's a lot more than that. one answer we have is that flynn -- and we know from intelligence reports that he did talk about sanctions, relieving sanctions. >> sometimes i feel like i'm recapping the americans, the tv show with the russian connection. >> kushner sat in on one of the meetings with flynn. >> let's bring in robert costa from "the washington post." robert, you've been on this show enough to know where we're at. we're trying to track this attempt to building a relationship from the new trump team coming to russia. they've been trying to reach trump through manafort, who has had long-standing relations financially with the russians and of course more recently with flynn, who they gave 34,000 bucks to, to work out a little dealith rt, the propaganda arm there. and now apparently we're seeing
now something under scrutiny with regard to kushner, who had his own orders, marching orders from trump, to go meet with the russian ambassador, to meet with the russian bank president. what is this from both ends? explain how it meets in the middle if it does. >> it meets in the middle in this sense. the russians, especially russian diplomats, who are under high scrutiny from the tension community, the u.s. intelligence community, we're always monitoring their activities. that's why different news organizations are able to report out transcripts. then you had the russian interference, which included building relationships with the trump campaign, pushing for disruption in the u.s. election, and those two things collided. the relationship building on the russian side and the intelligence community monitoring of the russians on the other, and it's led to this kushner -- these kushner meetings coming under the spotlight. the trump campaign and now the trump white house insists they were fine, but these meetings
are highly charged regardless of the context of how they were put together. >> what do you think is the trump ambition? why does his son-in-law get detailed by the father-in-law to meet with the russian ambassador? he had no official position. he's meeting with the bank president. it had to do with -- i just can't understand any other conversation except something to do with relieving sanctions which the russians want done under this new president. >> the president's never been in elected office. it's the same question of why was ivanka trump part of a meeting with the japanese prime minister at trump tower during the transition. the president has long run a family organization. he thinks in terms of a family organization. every time i've been with him for an interview, it's usually ivanka is there or jared's there. those are his confidants. those are his advisers, also part of the family. >> well, what about the propriety of this question because the fact that the fbi is looking at this is they're looking at meetings. obviously looking at conversations, probably not acts. discussions held perhaps since the election, perhaps before the election. but the fact that this story got out in your paper, our lead item
tonight on the night news was this story, tells me it's big. your assessment of what it means to have the president's son-in-law -- and he has by the way, the office -- i just saw the floor plan. he's basically sitting next to the president all day on the west wing first floor. this is a powerful guy in a very, very critical position, and now he's under the fbi's spotlight. >> it's very significant because for a long time, we've had this kind of messy picture in front of us with the congressional investigations ongoing, the federal probe ongoing, directed by the justice department. now with bob mueller as special counsel, you have the probe picking up speed and the key part of this "washington post" article -- and i'm sure nbc news reporting it as well -- is that congressional leaders have been briefed about a change in the pace and the scope of this investigation. and that tonight, everyone was able to report includes expanding the person of interest to jared kushner. that means mueller, who is now running the investigation, based
on our sources, yours and ours, is looking at kushner as a key part of this investigation, maybe even his financial relationships with russian figures. >> go through that list. i'm familiar with kislyak. how many other times has he met with russians recently in his capacity as son-in-law of the president? >> in that capacity, he is supposed to disclose those meetings, including those that happened during the transition in the campaign. as you remember, multiple news organizations reported that kushner had to revise his form with the federal government about who he met with and how he met with them. that included meetings with russian officials. so his meetings as a senior adviser are somewhat unclear, though he was deeply involved in foreign policy. what matters is what did he do during the campaign? what did he do during the transition? what were the extent of his conversation on financial dealings internationally, and what kind of promises or comments did he make to russian officials that perhaps were picked up in these intelligence reports? >> what's the white house saying tonight? have you gotten any kind of press release from spicer? what are they saying to explain
that the crown prince, the son-in-law who sits next to the president every day, the fact he's under scrutiny now? how are they explaining that or denying that or what? >> i'm here at the white house as you can see, and it's a sensitive matter for this administration. as you say, chris, he is so close to president trump. we've seen from tonight, a flurry of no comments. the justice department won't have much to say. the white house is not going to be commenting on an ongoing investigation. but you do sigh inside of this west wing tonight a push to have some kind of new operation inside or outside of the white house to deal with these persistent questions about russia and interference. the white house feels under siege, that they're getting too many questions every day that they can't handle. so i expect based on my reporting some kind of move to be made in the coming weeks to highly organize the response. >> i want you to go into this question and put it together. you're good at this. let's talk about what's happening now, the pressure, the front page of your newspaper and
right acrs the country. jared kushner, the crown prince, the son-in-law under fbi scrutiny. this is huge, and the president's overseas coming back to that news. then we also have this story floating out there, they're putting together a war room. only this isn't a war room like in the days of clinton in '92. this is a war room to play defense on the law, to keep these people from losing power. and my question is corey lewandowski coming back, steve bannon coming back, these are the bad boys. these are the guys that trump even had to push aside. the fact that he's bringing them back, these tough guys, what's it going to look like in terms of press relations, in terms of getting the truth out or keeping that truth from the public? >> dogged, confrontational, tough, it's going to be a difficult moment perhaps for the press. when you look at the penople th president is surrounding himself right now -- bannon is already in the white house, but pay attention not only to corey lewandowski, but also to david bossie, the former congressional investigator who was highly involved in different
investigations on the hill for republicans, on bill clinton during his presidency. he's now talking regularly with the president about how to respond to this crisis, how to build some kind of operation, and these as they say in the political word are knife fighters. they come in to fight, not just to settle the score and calm things down. >> robert, hold off. i want to bring in jay on this because this is a story people have to be updated on. david bossie is a villainous figure from the democratic side. he's the guy that did the documentary on hillary clinton, which became the whole story of how they got to spend any dollar they wanted to spend. >> exactly. i just think this is -- >> citizens united. the whole thing is from him, his attack on hillary. >> exactly, the whole digging out of the campaign finance laws. but i just think that this is, you know, trump has had such a great week in europe, such a great week in israel and the wailing wall and in saudi arabia. like for once he's on message. and this is going to be a real test when he wakes up tomorrow morning, is he going to reach for his twitter and immediately explode over all of this
breaking news? is he going to go off message and complety derail -- >> if you go after h son-in-law, you're going after his daughter. you're going after somebody he may just explode after. >> imagine how one of us would feel if one of our family members were under scrutiny, which means under investigation by the fbi. it's monumental. remember, the white house said they're hiring street fighters to fight this. they already admitted it's not lawyers. it's street fighters. and, you know, jared kushner is as close as you can get, and now trump must feel -- >> put it together. so what are they going to do so mueller? they're going to say mueller is low brow. he's some kind of democrat. they're going to call him lyin' this, crooked that. >> it's a witch hunt already and robert mueller is leading the witch hunt, and it will go down from there. >> it's not a witch hunt. it's a search for truth. we're watching by the way -- let me ask you, robert, about the context of kushner. the president took a little heat. i don't think enough when he
brought him in as his special adviser, the son-in-law. it was a nepotism situation. whatever the law is, that was nepotism pure and simple. he had no background in government, elected life, appointed life, and yet he's given the portfolio of the planet, not just the middle east, the planet. and he sits next to him, and now the guy is under the spotlight of the fbi. how is trump going to react tomorrow morning when he wakes up, god knows where, somewhere in the wrong time zone? >> well, chris, you're a student of history. i can't find in recent years anyone like jared kushner in the federal government except perhaps for bobby kennedy when you had him serving as attorney general for president kennedy. you have jared kushner. i wouldn't say he's running the world, but he's a confidant. he's there as a senior adviser. he's involved in domestic and foreign policy. he's not the linchpin for the administration when it comes to ideology, but he's someone who is an operator for the president, relationship building abroad. you see him working closely with
netanyahu, with different leaders in western europe. he is someone if he goes or if he has to have a lesser role, that will have consequences that sweep across this white house. >> i look at the white house staff, and i see the people on the outs. i look at reince priebus there, who doesn't look like he's on the ins anymore. >> he's still chief of staff. >> i know he's got the title. i'm not sure that was ever a reality. you also have spicer, who wasn't even allowed to meet the pope the other day. he's being treated like dog whatever. clearly the guy who never seems to go down a notch in importance is kushner. he's blood. the rest is water. is that right? >> that's true. i don't try to overread situations like spicer not meeting the pope. i think you're right. kushner is someone who is first among equals when it comes to the senior advisers. he is someone who everyone in this white house that i've spoken to treads lightly around. they know he can walk up into the residence at night to talk with president trump in a way that others cannot.
he's the one who is with trump, next to the president on the plane, was next to the president onhe plane during the campaign. he's the whisperer. he's the one who trump turns to to make things happen. >> well, every time trump turns to him now, he'll be turning to a guy who is under fbi scrutiny, and we all know it. we continue to follow the big breaking news story tonight that president trump's son-in-law, jared kushner is under fbi scrutiny in the russia investigation. we've been waiting for this one. this is "hardball," where the action is. you hear these stories
all the time. am i going to pass away like my mom did? and so you know this is something that's important. losing my mom to heart disease and then being diagnosed myself. it's like a war we're trying to fight against these diseases. resilience is in my dna. i won't die like my mom. it's a big challenge, but the challenge in itself is what keeps me going. i could really make a difference in these people's lives. that would be my dream.
we continue to cover the breaking news tonight. mult u.s. officials tell nbc news that jared kushner, the president's son-in-law and top adviser -- there he is -- is now under fbi scrutiny in the russia probe. we're here with nbc news intelligence and national security reporter ken dilanian, jay newton-small and bloomberg's margaret carlson and robert costa. i want to start with ken. last week there was a report in "the washington post" that i believe that was the big story that there was someone in the white house, someone who was a white house official and someone who was close to the president was under scrutiny. is this the fruition of that story? is this where we came from? >> yes, it is, chris. the term "person of interest" was used for that story, and we've been spending the last several days trying to figure out who that was. and we didn't use that term in our reporting tonight because it has really no legal meaning. but what we know is that mr. kushner is under fbi
scrutiny. they want no know some details about his meetings with russians. they believe he has information pertinent to this investigation. we were reporting he's in a different category than paul manafort and mike flynn, who are formally subjects of the grand jury investigation. but i think robert costa made a really important point earlier which is the bottom line is this investigation is picking up speed. there are grand jury subpoenas flying. there are fbi agents running around, and it's very unpredictable. and if you look at the history of special counsels, chris, you know, they often find crimes that were only tangentially related to the original thing they're investigating. so when you look at trump and russia, i've said on your show many times that donald trump is the most pro-russian presidential candidate that's run in modern history, right? but when you look at the people he's appointed, his secretary of defense, his ambassador to the u.n., they've been pretty tough on russia. we actually haven't seen, other than the president's behavior, we haven't seen the administration hewing a pro-russian line. we haven't seen the lifting of
sanctions. but we are seeing an fbi that is skrut nizing all these meetings with russians and they're scrutinizing the financial dealings of people around trump, and who knows what they might find, chris? >> what did you me of that very clubby picture we saw last night of him meeting with lavrov, the foreign minister of russia, and also with kislyak? i mean that picture looked like a reunion of old buddies from the war. what did you make of that? >> that was remarkable. that speak to donald trump personally, who has yet to say a bad word about vladimir putin as opposed to the policies of his u.n. ambassador, who has been very tough on russia, for example, nikki haley, or his secretary of defense, james mattis. so donald trump personally has been hewing this pro-russian line. intelligence officials i've talks to were repulsed by that scene. it was a mess, chris. but, you know, i'm sort of looking at that but i'm also looking at the trump policies and trying to make sense of where he's going on this thing.
>> it seems to me, ken, and follow me on this. check me. it seems there are three people that can get this president if there is guilt there in some sort of playing footsie with the russians during the campaign and after the campaign. if one of the three people talks, now, it seems that michael flynn talks and the think the president is very wary of this. if he talks, he can say here's the following sort of marching orders i got from the president. he wanted us to set some deal, convince them things are going to look a lot bottetter after it in office, but that guy clearly doesn't want to talk right now. he's trying to get immunity. he's using everything including the fifth amendment to not have to talk. then there's paul manafort, who is talking. now, manafort may be talking about his own financial business, which may not be nice to look at, but it's totally legal. then you have the son-in-law. what does jared kushner know about the father-in-law? i would assume everything. i would assume that jared kushner knows exactly, precisely, either through his wife or directly from his
father-in-law exactly what his methods were, what his relationships were, what words were passed with the russians. and my guess is we would like to hear on the record, under oath, all three of these gentlemen. will we ever get to hear from all three of them on this matter? >> right. and chris, when you look at what's happening with the fbi investigation, well, it depends on whether the fbi can charge them abowith crimes, i would sa. because that's the classic playbook. this thing has become public, so it's very difficult for them to sur rep tissue usually -- their only hope it seems to me, if there is a conspiracy, is to flip a conspirator. >> kwesqueeze him. >> that looks like their intention with a mike flynn, with a paul manafort. they're investigating conduct that seems to have very little to do with rush nlz. like in flynn's case, lobbying for turkey and failing to disclose it. in manafort's case, some questionable real estate transactions. you know, but the fbi is not going to turn a blind eye to
crimes that it sees as part of its investigation and will use that as leverage to get people to talk, chri >> i have to say, ken, you know this and robert knows this and jay and maaret, that we're looking at a story that's developing like watergate did with enough headlines each week to keep the public's interest in the question and to keep the prosecutors energized. let's go to capitol hill for some other people that need to stay energized. on the phone is u.s. congressman eric swalwell. congressman, i want to give you some time here. tell me about what this new information -- we now know the name of that white house insider. we now know the name of the person close to the president as described last week. and we now know he's under scrutiny by the fbi, and we know he's had these meetings with russian officials, including the russian bank president. where does it take your committee, this new information, or did you have it already? >> good evening, chris. and, you know, for us, our investigation is a little bit different. it's not a criminal probe. it's one that is hopefully going to give the american people an answer as to what russia did, whether any u.s. persons were
involved, and what we can do to make sure it doesn't happen again. and in that pursuit for the truth, we hope to interview all relevant witnesses and review all relevant documents. now, you know, what the fbi is doing, what we're asking is that they just do it and ass a membe of the judiciary committee as well, we want to see them do it without being impeded by the politics of the white house. we hope if this is inadidas tde true -- >> could you imagine subpoenaing jared kushner before your committee? >> so can't go into -- you know, we have an agreed upon witness list, and i think that is encouraging with the new chairman who has come on board. i can't go into the names, but i can assure people that they are witnesses who are relevant and have information for us as to, you know, what was going on when russia interfered and whether that included people on the trump campaign. >> we all know enough about the trade craft of getting information. ken knows it better than the
rest of us, but the trade craft is you go down. you get somebody close to the top guy and you squeeze him with the threat of incarceration for a long period of time, imprisonment. you nail him on something you've got him on in order to squeeze him. there's three people that have had conversations with this president. that's manafort, roger stone because he's always up to something like this, and then you've got of course michael flynn who the russians themselves have shown an interest in trying to get a hold of. then you've got this guy, jared kushner, who has probably shared the whole thing, the whole enchill ada with this president. >> again, chris, as a former prosecutor, when you would try and get information from a witness that you couldn't otherwise get -- >> or jeff sessions, the attorney general. can you get to him? he's also been involved with this footsie playing with the russians. >> well, he's not only been involved, you know, with his prior contacts with the russians. he failed to disclose those in his hearing and now is involved in the decision to hire the next
fbi director, who will, you know, theoretically oversee the investigation into the russians. that's the bigger problem here. but, chris, as a former prosecutor, you know, you have to be very careful because jurors are suspicious of any witness who is getting a deal in exchange for their testimony. so you need to make sure you have that ring of truth that's coming from them because it can backfire. and so, you know, you want to make sure they're not just saving their own neck if they're giving you information. >> you mean if you went before a d.c. jury, you couldn't bring a conviction if michael flynn came out and talked about what trump told him? >> what you would also need is other corroborating evidence to support what that witness would be saying. otherwise, you know, jurors would look at that very skeptically in any case if they feel they were just trying to save their own neck. >> you've been a great guest so many times on our program. you're looking at what we're looking at. i think you might be a couple steps ahead of it in covering it from the outside.
you've got jared kushner. we're showing all these incredible pictures of how close he was to this president. what value would he be to your investigation if he were to talk to y honestly? >> well, again, chris, i don't want to go into who our witnesses are. >> no. if he were to be a witness, what would he tell you? >> yeah. we just want to know if any witness was communicating with russia, was involved in the interference campaign that they were running, you know, had information about what the campaign's role was, and also, chris, if these are all just coincidences, the president is owed a clearing. so we would want to see that happen too. but if they're not coincidences, we want to make sure that anyone who worked with russia is held accountable. >> that's the only excuse he hasn't used yet. congressman, hold on. jay, let me ask you about -- explain the meetings so far because the congressman said he would like to know, under oath of course, what happened with mr. kushner when he met with the russians. tell me about the meetings they had. >> right now they're looking at
two particular meetings with jared kushner. one was with the president-elect, donald trump, at the mayflower hotel with ambassador kislyak. really they just talked very officially about during the transition, about u.s./russia relations. the other was much more shadowy, so with this, the head of this russian bank, this is a guy who was trained by the fsb. so he's like overtly -- we know he was sort of trained by the russia cia. his bank has been under sanctions since 2014. why is kushner meeting with this guy and in what capacity? that's absolutely the right question to ask. there are two meetings the fbi is focusing on that they want information about. >> congressman, your reaction to that? >> again, anytime a u.s. person is dealing with a russian, we should be very skeptical when it comes to business practices. and the cia director laid that -- former cia director brennan laid that out in his testimony, which is they used
tactics like business entanglements and financial distress to draw people in and then have them do their bids. and oftentimes the person doesn't even understand that they are de facto working for the russians. so we want to understand whether any u.s. persons associated with the trump campaign had relationships like that. >> do you have the capacity -- dianne feinstein, the senator was on the other night, last night in fact. she said her concern is the committees, including the house committee, don't have the staff they need to investigate. they don't have enough. you guys don't have enough. you don't have cpas, accountants, bookkeepers, the people who can brilliantly look at paper, look at a spreadsheet and know what's going on. do you have that capacity? she says you don't and she's requesting whether the republican leadership of your committee is doing its best to staff up to catch the bad guys here. what do you think? >> we have a great staff. i think their work was on display in the march 20 hearing with director comey. but certainly we did not hire the staff anticipating that we would be undergoing this type of investigation.
so i know our ranking member and all of our committee members, you know, ranking member schiff and i would love to see additional investigators to go through the forensics here, to go through the financial transactions. but we're going to get this job done with, you know, whatever resources we have and whatever barriers are put up as we, you know, continue to plow ahead. >> are you confident that president trump will pick the right aggressive fbi director? >> i hope he's learned lessons, chris, from, you know, what he's done and the mess he's made over the past few months. but, you know, at this point we expect anything. we're ready for anything. and, again, there is a branch of government that has to approve that fbi director. so, you know, we're counting on leaders in the senate to put our country's national security ahead of any partisan concerns. >> do you think it was right for the democrats to bow down and let him make his son-in-law his top staffer, sitting right next to him in the west wing? do you think it was right? i noticed there was very little anger about that. everybody sort of bowed to that.
i raised hell about it. i know he can legally, techically do it, but it doesn't look right. why does he bring an amateur guy into the highest level o government because they're related by marriage? why don'tou guys raise hell about the very fact of this? it looks regal? it doesn't look american. >> autocracies are where you see family members serving at the highest level of government. you know, it's not a senate-approved position, but, you know, i think -- i don't like it. i know people i talk to at home don't like how many family members are so close to the president and, you know, maybe he's going to pay a price for it now. >> thank you so much for coming on as always. please come back in, air swalwell, the democrat from california. mark halperin, senior political analyst for msnbc and nbc news. let me get to this, mark. your view about this thing. i said it's like an old film developing in front of your face now, polaroid type. you get a sense that there's a
lot of action from the russian end, and of course trump seemed to have wanted to build a relationship from russia from his end. >> good evening, chris. the way i've been thinking about it lately, this whole thing fits very nicely with what's happened with nbc's reporting on jared kushner. there's three strands here. you've got the congressional investigations. you've got the fbi and justice department. there's one bucket of things that relate to wrongdoing that's not illegal, right? things that may have happened during the campaign where the fbi is going to say, we don't see a crime here, but it would be politically ruinous for the administration, potentially dealings with russia. the second bucket is thing that may have been done illegal related to russia. a lot of speculation. we don't know where that goes. the third bucket i think is the most dangerous right now for the white house, which is the fbi can go after things. once they start turning over rocks, they can go after things. we've seen in watergate, with
bill clinton. leaving perjury aside, other activities that may be illegal. i think that's where i hear a lot of concern now. people around the president, maybe with kushner, maybe with other people, that the fbi has started to turn over rocks, and it may not relate to russia's interference in a conspiracy with the trump campaign about interfering with telection, but other stuff. maybe russia-related, maybe not, and that's the danger. >> remember, we all watched that can kenneth starr, who was extremely aggressive and very much a right way, wrong way kind of guy who went from paula jones. he went from whitewater, which was nothing, but he did find some pay dirt when he found monica lewinsky and he got the president to take an oath during discovery so he could catch him with perjury. what would be the tangent you could spot? is it a financial relationship between trump's empire and the russians that's been ongoing? what would it be? >> well, i've heard lots of speculation. i'll just say again this is not just pertaining to jared kushner
but to others and maybe the president himself. new york real estate business is not the cleanest business in the world, right? we don't know of any wrongdoing right now. we've heard lots of speculation. there was during the campaign. but you tell me that they start turning over every real estate transaction the president and his son-in-law and people related to him has ever engaged in, looking for stuff, telling me they can't find things that look intriguing? maybe no ill legality. we've got to be cautious and careful here. you turn over rocks on every real estate transaction starting with things you think might be related to russia, who knows where that could go? at a minimum to create a interest on the part of the fbi. the other thing, the white house talks about all the time with some legitimacy, the amount of leaking on your program, on morning joe and other programs, even in the transition, a lot of people said, you pick a fight with the fbi, you pick a fight with the press, you pick a fight
with capitol hill, you're asking for trouble. >> boy, you're so right. you go to war with the press, they have a barrel of ink. but the cia and the fbi have everything. thank you so much. great reporting and analysis. >> their capacity to leak -- the leaks we've seen just in the last 14 days against the president, conversations he's had, you know, members of his administration concerned about things he allegedly said, the white house complained about it. these seem to be whistle-blowers. the motivation may be pure. but all i'm saying is the danger of tonight's news is what are they looking at? but the under burning danger again, i can say that without talking to a senior white house official about it, is someone in the law enforcement community told -- that the son-in-law of the president is being looked
at. >> i guess one stimulus for that way back when was when he called the intel community nazis. we continue to follow the late breaking news tonight. nbc news is reporting as i said, this should big stuff. president trump's son-in-law, jared kushner, who has been in the spotlight for a long time politically is now in the fbi spotlight, under scrutiny in the russia investigation. this is big, and this is "hardball," where the action is. you too, unnecessary er visits. and hey, unmanaged depression, don't get too comfortable. we're talking to you, cost inefficiencies and data without insights. and fragmented care- stop getting in the way of patient recovery and pay attention. every single one of you is on our list. for those who won't rest until the world is healthier, neither will we. optum. how well gets done. and sometimes i struggle to sleep at night,blind. and stay awake during the day. this is called non-24.
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costa. everybody hold up because i want to hear right now -- oh, let's go to katy tur of nbc news. she's covered the trump being since he became a politician. katy, your thoughts about this development, what it means to this story? >> reporter: well, certainly it's going to come under a lot of scrutiny, this idea that jared kushner is someone the fbi is looking at. but the sources that i've spoken to within the trump white house and those close to the trump white house have said that this does not come as a surprise. they specifically point out that jared kushner met with the russian ambassador, sergey kislyak, alongside michael flynn, and it would be natural that the fbi or any other u.s. officials would want to know more information about that meeting. so it would be natural that he would be somebody that they would want to talk to. obviously he told the senate that he'd be willing to testify, willing to be interviewed. we'll see if he follows through with that. i do know that the house is very interested in interviewing him as well according to a source
that i spoke to on the intelligence committee. but beyond that, chris, and i think this is important to reiterate. i was talking to a top former prosecutor about this just the other day before we were ae t this nailed down, and he warned me that just because somebody is a person of interest, it does not necessarily mean that they did anything wrong. if just means that investigators want to talk to them about what they may or may not know. it's also not saying that he definitely did not do anything wrong. it can go either way. so they warned that although this sounds -- it sounds like something that could be very detrimental to the trump campaign, it is not something that is necessarily detrimental. it doesn't prove anything wrongdoing. so there's that caution to point out. but obviously this administration has had issues with its connections to russia and issues with what they've reported and what they have not reported. remember, a number of officials,
jared kushner included along with jeff sessions and michael flynn most obviously, did not reveal that they had met with the russian ambassador. they didn't reveal a number of meetings. >> that's a good point. why didn't they do that? >> reporter: that's a good question. >> why did jared kushner -- excuse me. jay newton-small, you pointed it out to me off camera. that jared kushner was a little slow in admitting he was meeting with these russians. >> i just want to say, i want to correct myself and say the meetings they were focusing on with the meetings with gor kov and one jared specifically had with kiss llyak, and "the new y times" called him out and said he did not report those two meetings on his forms when he was doing his disclose urz. and the twhous was like, oh, our bad. we'll add them. no worries. >> that's calling rolling disclosure in my business. you disclose when you're caught. >> there are so many incomplete disclose u disclosures at the white house that a lot of them are filling
them in as they go along. and jeff sessions who has had a number meetings today, his spokesperson said he didn't list them all because the fbi said, oh, you had so many, you don't have to list them all. >> let me go to ari melber, our legal correspondent. let's talk about weapons in this fight because it's a fight for, i would argue, from the prosecution's side to get the truth, from the other side i to probably avoid getting to too much of the truth. the weapons are, of course, incarceration, prosecution. you take a guy like michael flynn. if he failed to honorably answer questions on forms, even if kushner was late in getting his straight answers in about meetings, you try to pressure people and scare what you could do to them if you throw the book at them. and of course you have the subpoena and the possibility of contempt of congress, contempt of the government for not participating in our legal process. look at all that and see where is the president playing defense? why does he have to lawyer up, bring in cass kasowitz right no? where is he vulnerable?
>> well, the president is first most vulnerable in that he has aides, current and former, who are, as nbc is reporting, under scrutiny. that's not good for them even if ultimately, as many people have emphasized, it doesn't mean they'll be accused of a crime. to the many options you reference, chris, this is not just issues of paperwork. the failure, for example, to register under federal law for the foreign agents registration act is a felony that can bring several years in jail, which may be why michael flynn has publicly requested immunity, not just for his testimony but broader immunity. so the notion that jared kushner is also in this mix is not good for the white house even if he ultimately didn't commit a crime, and the bigger question is how will president trump tell people, including his family members, to cooperate in an investigation that he's already publicly impugned and suggested has nothing to it, chris. >> you know, i question this nepotism situation, and i look at the white house, as i said a
few moments ago. when you look at the floor plan of the white house, the person sitting next to the president is that guy we're looking at, jared kushner. he may not be getting a salary, but his influence is awesome. his wife, the president's daughter, also -- they accompany the president oll state occasions. i have never seen anything like this. bobby kennedy did not travel with jack kennedy. everybody keeps bringing them up. he had been head of the rackets council for three years before this. that wasn't so much blood. it was achievement. this guy is being brought along because he's the one person, ari, the president trusts not to rat him out. what -- >> i think you raise all the core questions, chris, and i think that is why many people said that what is lawful is not always prudent. and it may be lawful that they found -- at least the justice department said they found a loophole because, remember, if jared kushner was an apena nietoee -- appointee to the cabinet, it would be a loophole.
but was it a good idea and does it really protect the interest of the white house and the united states at large to have someone so close to the president now under scrutiny according to nbc news in the fbi inquiry who effectively probably cannot be fired? i mean think back now to the january post-election press conference where donald trump said some of his family members would handle the business, and that would be separate from government. i don't know that they've held that line very well. and then he jokes, oh, and if they don't do a good job, they'll be fires. the punchline is they won't because you don't fire your children in a family business. >> i know somebody who did. >> obviously the authorities are looking into these people, their power, their honesty, and their role, whether it may ultimately be confirmed or not confirmed. we have to be open minded about that. their role in these meetings with russia and whether that relates to the crimes the fbi may be investigating. >> ari, you're great. katy tur, ken dilanian, jay newton-small. the one guy that did do
something to his son-in-law was mussolini. he executed his son-in-law for double dealing. the breaking news tonight, jared kushner is under fbi scrutiny in the russian matter. our coverage continues now with "all in" with chris hayes. tonight on "all in." jared married to my daughter, ivanka. >> nbc news reports jared kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of his senior advisers has come under fbi scrutiny in the russia investigation. >> i actually think he likes politics more than he likes real estate. >> tonight, what we know about the fbi probe now reaching inside the white house. then -- >> get to the polls and vote for greg. >> election night in trump's america. >> i'm sick and tired of you guys. >> assault charges filed as voting starts