tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC May 25, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
big part of the story here was when there was coming down to the final hours. we were looking to see that split between the vote that was st today, the same day same-day vote, absentee vote. it looks like the clear majority of the votes were cast before that event last night, before that altercation with the reporter. that is something you might hear from democrats. they might say, hey, maybe things would have been different if everybody was voting on the same day. again, we're looking at the evidence from the counties. we're seeing the same day in the early vote, not a huge division right there. so, again, democrats, some of these places you look around billings right here, you still have the republicans winning this thing by double digits. this county yellow stone, that's the one democrats wanted to win. they wanted to at least be even, within five points. did not get what they needed out of a county like that. so, again, the numbers just weren't there for democrats tonight. bigger picture, what does this mean nationally, though? think about this right now. we're in the middle of special
election season. what have we seen so far? we've seen a special election in kansas for a house seat. it was a district that donald trump won by 27 points. what was the margin in the special election? republicans won but it came down to 7 points. that was 20 points in the democrats' direction. think about that. the democrats in kansas, they made up 20 points in the special election. again, we don't know what the final number is going to be here, but donald trump won montana by 21 points. let's say it landed at 6 points which is where it is right now in montana. that would be a gain for the democrats of 15 points off the donald trump margin. we also have, don't forget coming up in georgia in the suburbs of atlanta, you have a district down there that donald trump won by just one point. you have a runoff there coming in a few weeks. democrats, they'll be sorely disappointed if they don't win that one. they want to be able to see in all these special elections at a very minimum, they want to see progress in their direction. make no mistake about it, they also want to see a win. they thought they had an outside shot of pulling that off in
monlt mont tonight, especially when you had that altercation with the reporter last night. they thought maybe they could get this. they'll have so settle for a moral victory. they will try to call this a moral victory. they tried to call it a moral victory in kansas. what they really want, they wan a real victory. for that they're going to have to wait till georgia. that really is an important race for them. that's going to wrap it up from new york. the last word starts right now. >> we will be getting the first voting results to replace congressman turned interior secretary ryan zinke. a republican candidate has been charged with a miss demeanor for allegedly body slamming a reporter for merely asking him a question about the cbo score. but first, more breaking news tonight. nbc news has now confirmed from multiple u.s. officials that
jards kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of his senior advisors is now under scrutiny in the fbi-russia investigation. the officials tell nbc news they believe kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry. we should note that that does not mean that they suspect kushner of a crime or they intend to charge him with one. the fbi scrutiny of jared kushner now means the bureau's counter intelligence and criminal investigation goes not just to the white house, but all the way to the innermost trump family circle. the official say jared kushner is in a different category from former trump aides paul manafort and michael flynn who are formally considered subjects of the investigation. and it's not known whether kushner has received any records requests from federal investigators, but according to the washington post who had some additional reporting on the matter investigators are focusing on a series of meetings kushner held with someone from
moscow and a banker. kushner is being 0 investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the russians. tonight jared kushner's lawyer provided us with the statement. mr. kushner previously volunteered to share with congress what he knows about these meetings. he will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry. joining now is david, msnbc political analyst, david senior editor for the atlantic, michael issa cough, chief investigator for yahoo! news, and malcolm nance, nbc counter terrorism inintelligence analyst. thank you for being here. let's start off with the obvious question here. i'll go to you first on this, malcolm. jared kushner now being somebody that the justice department would like to talk to, and the fact that it is connected with his conversations with a sanctioned russian bank, what does that say to you? >> well, it tells me that there
are multiple tracks in this investigation into this particular campaign, and quite possibly into the top -- the top levels of the white house. there is a track that's going after -- that's going after the actual hacking and collusion related to the hacking. there is a track that's going after the campaign's ties to russia and russian intelligence themselves. now there is this financial component of it as well. and the last missing track is the ring leader. who is the person that has brought all three of these silos together? these things all spell critical trouble for this white house. there is no dodging this now. they may not have said jared kushner is being a target of a criminal investigation. he probably isn't. but they are going to have to flesh out just skpaexactly what was doing and why. >> david cornell, it feels like if you want to get to the answers, you have to get to somebody who wants to talk to
you. jared kushner may be motivated by trouble he has himself. they issued a statement they can't confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence. he did something that was problematic. he omitted contacts on security clearance including two with russians. he did not mention dozens of these contacts when he filled out to get the forms with kislyak as well as the head of russian state owned bank. could it be in your reporting and looking at this what the fbi is doing -- the investigators are doing is saying, okay, you're not necessarily a target now, but we want to talk to you because you have some other problems you might want to help us out. >> well, in most administrations if you had lied or omitted that crucial information on your security clearance form, you would be booted out. you would no longer be able to work in the white house. jared obviously has special dispensation for reasons that are pretty obvious. in any investigation you want to
talk to as many people as you can. once you have a special counsel involved as we've seen in cases involving white water turning into the monica lewinsky scandal or even benghazi leading to the e-mail controversy for hillary clinton, that it can go in all sorts of different directions. to me it's highly interesting that during the transition period when kushner was still a private citizen, not working for the white house, he's meeting with the head of the russian bank that's one of the biggest russian banks, owned by the state of russia. at the same time that bank is unr sanctions, is being punished by the u.s. and other countries for russia's invasion of parts of the ukraine. so, one big question that we have is why was he meeting with that bank to begin with? of course he had his own private business interests. did anything overlap there? that in itself seems to have been something that deserves investigation whether it's criminal or not. >> and we know, michael issa cough, one of the commonalities of jared kushner and his
father-in-law is they are highly leveraged. they have challenges getting financetion, 666 fifth avenue, boondoggle he purchased for the kushner companies. they had been scouting around looking for financing. if in fact he met with a bank that might have been sanctioned and it was trying to get financing for his own projects, would that necessarily be problematic in and of itself? >> i would agree that that would be the most problematic thing that we know about. was there this overlap between his official role during the transition, which by the way, was to meet with foreign ambassadors, foreign officials. so, just on its face, that's not necessarily a reason that he should be under any particular criminal scrutiny here. that was his role. but if he was meeting with the bank, the russian banco official for private business during the time that he was playing this
official role, you could see why the justice department would be interested. but, look, there's a lot here we don't know. the reporting is all over the map. this began with him being a significant person of interest, which is not really a legal term, and now being somebody who is under scrutiny, or just may have information that might be of interest to investigators. i think we ought to be a little cautious at this point. the only thing we can say for certainty is the mere fact that he is within the orbit of this investigation is something that is likely to drive his father-in-law crazy. >> here's the thing, david. we know donald trump is incredibly reliant on jared kushner. he wants him in all the meetings. he wants him to go on all the trips, meet with foreign leaders. he was meeting with officials from mexico. he's supposed to be negotiating middle east peace. the fact he's in all the meetings as a proxy a lot of the times for his father, means you would be the person you'd talk to by investigators because he
was in the room when something went on that shouldn't have. >> at the risk of saying something elementary i think it is important to recapitulate something. when we talk about criminal and noncriminal, in it's bad it's bad, but if it's noncriminal it is okay. it is not a crime for the president or his family to owe hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign interests. it's not a crime for a private citizen or somebody in a transition to meet with representatives of an adversary state and tell them what he knows. it's not criminal even -- the hacking is criminal, but if you're away from the hacking, if you're not part of that, but if u simply ap information back and forth with a foreign spy service to help you in your campaign against your opponent that is not a crime. what these things do raise is issues of loyalty, issues of espionage, issues of whether or not these people are fit people to exercise governmental power. counter intelligence operations
are not criminal -- they don't operate by the usual rules of criminal evidence and they are not always intended to bring about a prosecution because a mole or a disloyal person is not necessarily a criminal. they just someone who should be separated from political power because they are disloyal to the united states and compromised by foreign assets. so, i want people to think, remember, this is a very legalistic country. we are not in a world of two categories, crime, good. we're in a world of three categories. criminal, proper, and improper. the improper capital, no one may go to jail for it, but you'll have real questions about whether people in that category should be in your government. >> and, malcolm, when we talk about the s word, the spy word, and we keep seeing mr. kislyak, sergey kislyak who is obviously the russian ambassador, everyone seems eager to meet with. is there a benign explanation for the fact that so many members of the trump campaign are having meetings, clandestine meetings that they don't then
report with mr. kislyak? >> it would be completely proper for some of them to have meetings so long as they weren't, as you said, clandestine. and there appears to have been a concerted organized effort amongst all of them to cover their tracks in meetings with kislyak. now, people say, well, kislyak is an ambassador. what could he possibly do? well, within many countries, and not the united states, but other countries, foreign intelligence officers report to diplomats and diplomats themselves are used for recruiting officers. they are also used as case officers, in some instances where your contacts, your potential recruit is very high value, and you don't want to connect them with a known intelligence officer. kislyak may have filled that role. and what's surprising is the people that have met him and have hidden it, sessions, kushner, flynn -- i mean, you know, manafo, karlter pacarter l
the rest of them. this man is a focal point for financial or nefarious espionage activity, i don't know, which is why we have a special counsel. but it needs to be sessed out. all of them hid it from their special security forms because they don't want the united states to know about their activities. >> that is the point, michael isakof. it would be rudimentary and mundane you're going to meet with foreign officials even if it's the russians. have you ever heard of a situation where so many people would neglect to mention or seemingly deliberately not mention meeting with an ambassador on their security clearance forms? >> it's certainly unusual. it certainly is something that is going to be of scrutiny. i mean, the one -- the meeting or conversation that's of most interest right now or i think problematic is the conversation that michael flynn had on
december 29th with kislyak, which was the day president obama imposed sanctions for the election hack. kislyak was quite upset about it, complained to the state department. then he has the conversation with flynn, and flynn apparently tells him, we'll revisit this, reassures him, and putin the next day decides not to retaliate, which surprised everybody. that was -- that's what ultimately -- flynn's act got him fired. but the critical question, we don't know, is was he authorized to have that conversation by president trump? did he report to president trump after the fact about that conversation? >> you know, joy -- >> go on, david. >> we've had all this talk about contacts with kislyak and other russians and of course kislyak has said that flynn was talking to him before the election, and we know almost nothing about those conversations. but the question is in any of those conversations, d any of the trump people say to the
russians, you're going to pay for what you did, you better cut it out, we're not going to let you get away with this? we have no indication, even up to the last meeting that trump had that this message was ever sent to the russians by anyone connected to trump or trump himself. >> yeah, and meanwhile, david, we do know that at least from reporting, jared kushner did say to his father-in-law, the president, that, yeah, he ought to fire jim comey, which doesn't put him in a very good light. >> well, that's also strange because kushner had this reputation based onion what a t, a voice of restraint. other people in the administration have other kinds of legal problems. the secretary of health and human services has got some questions about his stock trading, for example. there are a lot of -- this is the administration that generally includes a lot of people that have been close to the law and they might be mad at comey for a host of other
reasons in addition to the espionage inquiry. >> last word to you on this, malcolm, does it ring true to you that all of these people, including jared kushner, would simply be freelancing and never have a conversation with the incoming and then president of the united states about what they were doing? >> no, that's completely improbable. you know, this leads back to that initial question of why did donald trump make that statement on july 27th when he asked russia, if you're listening, would you please go ahead and release hillary clinton's hacked e-mails? this is indicative, as when we're in the collections business, we can tell when you've had a conversation. sometimes two or three conversations deep based on what you say. there had to have been a time where these people sat together in a room and had this discussion. why else would kislyak be a central node on each one of these individuals? because these individuals either met him or forwarded to him or were told to have these conversations with this gentleman. i'm sure the russians themselves
love the idea of having multiple contacts with these people, but he is a central node where each and every one of their pathways cros >> yeah. >> which tells you that within that, there is a constellation of communications which, like i said before, every one of them tried to hide. >> indeed. and didn't hide them very well because they've all come out. malcolm nance and mike issa cough thanks. coming up, can jared kushner remain in the white house as an aide while he is in an investigation engulfing trump's president sni tonight's other big story, we are expecting the first results out of the montana election later this hour. will voters send someone after assaulting a reporter to congress? stay with us. whether you're after supreme performance... advanced intelligence...
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our hearts racing as one. i know this is sudden, but they say: if you love something... set it free. see you around, giulia ♪ report that the white house is getting together a team of so-called street fighters to deal with the fbi russia investigation raises this question. does jared kushner have a role on that team? jared kushner is of course the president's key senior advisor on just about everything and he reportedly was one of the people who suggested that james comey be fired. so, there's a good chance that kushner is heavily involved in whatever efforts are underway inside the trump administration to push back on the russia probe. and now it appears that special counsel robert mueller is consolidating his role as leader of that investigation which could have an impact on just how
the fbi scrutiny of jared kushner will play out. david from is still with me, and joining now is former assistant watergate special prosecutor jill wine banks. jill, i want to start with you on this question of whether or not jared kushner is a targeted person or merely a witness that the fbi would like to talk to in a benign manner. should jared kushner be involvement now in this probe? >> jared kushner should be concerned depending on what he knows and what he's done. and the terminology of whether he's a target, a suspect, a person of interest is really not the key here. it's what did he do, when did he do it, what did the president know and when did he know it. >> there seems to be, you know, in any of these sorts of cases -- and i'm not an attorney, i will defer to you on this -- you have varying degrees of potential culpability, right? it would seem to be helpful to the prosecutor if you could get one culpable person to turn on
the others. would it be possible that maybe one of these actors, one of these people who are being talked to in this probe winds being of up being the witness against the others and it is likely it is somebody like a jared kushner who is being told you're not a target, at least not now? >> it's very helpful to have an insider who is cooperating with the prosecution. it seems quite unlikely that the son-in-law of the president would be that person who would turn first, but he may have some exposure in areas beyond the russia investigation. he may have some financial problems. he may have some -- all the dealings he had with russian banks maybe unrelated or related, i'm not sure. so, he may have enough that he needs to protect himself. i think it's hard for the president and for him to be in the white house at the same time together and to have this going on. >> and, david from, i think that is the key point. how could, in theory because donald trump is so reliant on jared kushner, if there is a war room to try to push back on the russia probe, he would be right in the middle of it.
he'd be leading it like he's leading pretty much everything else in the administration. how could it be possible, though, that jared kushner could be involved now that he is named as at least a person the mueller team is interested in talking to? >> well, let's just examine two ways in which all of this is kind of bizarre. the first way in which it is bizarre normally in an administration, if there is some suspicion, if there is some problem, some ethics accusation and the people in the administration feel they are innocent of it, they don't set up war rooms. they actually say, let's get this story out. they don't fight the inquiry, they flood the zone with news. let's take out the books and the stacks, bury america with facts. and even if there's kind of a bad fact in here, let's wrap it with so many benign facts that america will be bored with the bad fact. that's what you do when you are confident in your case. the other thing that is kind of weird about this, and again, this goes back to the point i made in the previous -- i just am going to keep banging on, it's really important for viewers to get this.
that the constant iteration of prosecution and crime sets people up to look for what may be the very wrong thing. the things that may have happened here may be extremely serious and not criminal. it's not a crime to be financially beholden to the russians. it's not a crime to tell them things. it's not a crime to coordinate with them in your election effort if you aren't involved in the hack. those things aren't crime. they are loyalty issues. they are reliability issues. they are security issues. and, again, this goes back to the thing that is bizarre. normally in an administration if the fbi knocks on your door and says we think one of your colleagues got a little too close to an unfriendly foreign government, what do you know about it? my god, sit down, officer, i'll tell you everything i know, because i am as interested than you even more so making sure our administration does not contain security risks. >> jill, that's when we get back to the water game frame. if you look at the way the public perceives the trump
administration, quinnipiac has a poll out, do you think donald trump is other using the powers of his office, 54% of americans say yes. you go to a fox news poll, a poll favorable to donald trump, what do you think is the real reason president trump fired fbi director comey, 60% now say because comey's investigations were harming the presidency. only 29% say because these investigations were harming the fbi. one more fox news poll, do you think the fbi director should have been fired at all, 53 to 34 people say no. when the confidence is being lost in the presidency itself, we are sort of wandering into that nixon territory, no? >> we absolutely are. and i think that david was right on many of the things he said. but it doesn't matter whether there is an underlying crime if there is an obstruction of justice. you can interfere with an investigation, which is into an attempt or into a possibility that there is a crime, and even though you may find out there is no crime there, if you interfered with it, that is a
crime in and of itself. and some of the allegations that are possibly being investigated may be a threat to national security, not just a violation of title 18 federal criminal law. they could be endangering our national security. >> would firing the fbi director or encouraging your boss, the president, to fire the fbi director potentially be that kind of obstruction? >> it certainly is. >> david from, you had a comment. >> i dread spending the next 12 months with various law professors whether this meets the standard for obstruction of justice. it may or may not in the prosecutable sense, but it clearly in lower case o, lower case j, obviously it was an attempts to obstruct justice. it was an attempt to shut down an investigation. whether or not it is a criminal obstruction of justice -- your bookers have long lists of law professors all over america eager to argue it's not. maybe they're right. it doesn't matter because what
happened was the course of justice was obstructed. it doesn't matter whether people are going to go to prison. we need to find out whether russia has penetrated the american government. >> which is why so many people are saying in addition to what's happening on the mueller side, we also need to have a commission to look at the overall, the main issue once again is that we're supposed to be protecting our national security and our elections from foreign interference. david from, jill wine banks, thank you both for joining us. >> thank you. >> thank you. tonight's breaking news about jared kushner comes after it was reported that donald trump was still talking to paul manafort after manafort was under fbi scrutiny for his ties to russia. and later tonight's special election in montana. we are expecting the first vote results later in the hour. stay with us. d. the classes, the friends, the independence. and since we planned for it, that student debt is the one experience, i'm glad she'll miss
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former trump campaign manager paul manafort continues to be in contact with the trump team months after the fbi launched its russia investigation. according to a new politico report. manafort resigned from the trump campaign last august, but according to politico, he called donald trump's chief of staff reince priebus about a week before inauguration day to discuss the russia scandal according to four people familiar with the call. manafort wanted to brief trump's team on alleged inaccuracies in a recently released dossier of memos written by a former british spy for trump's opponents that alleged compromising ties among russia, trump and trump's associates including manafort. and joining us now, ken vogel, chief investigative reporter for
politico who broke the story and david corn washington bureau chief political analyst. ken, this is a pretty block buster story. among the many interesting details is this one. that manafort, according to your story, discussed with other trump allies the possibility of launching a counter veiling investigation bayy ukrainian officials to damage hillary clinton's campaign. a way to distract attention from the parallel fbi congressional russia probe. the idea that manafort was advising this incoming administration to launch essentially a phony investigation, i mean, what? >> yeah, i mean, we actually did some reporting on this and there was some evidence to suggest that certain officials in the ukrainian government in the embassy here as well as kiev were trying to push out this damaging information about manafort, and manafort and his
allies believe it was an an effort to damage donald trump. obviously it was nowhere near the concerted effort we saw from the russian government including the hacking and the pushing out of fake news and the like. so, it is interesting that manafort is trying to conflate these two things to suggest that he is somehow the victim and that by casting attention at the trump administration or cast attention on this much less significant ukrainian meddling, then it would somehow clear him and clear the trump folks of any kind of wrongdoing or suspicion in this -- at that point heating up investigations into their coordination or potential coordination with russia. >> at the same time, david corn, if paul manafort wants to go fishing around in the origins of that dossier, he wouldn't find it ended with hillary clinton, reportedly the clinton team wound up with that information, but that it was originally sourced to one of the republican rivals of donald trump and wound up in john mccain's hands at one
point. i mean, there really is no way to isolate that dossier in the hillary clinton camp. what do you make of this idea that paul manafort was, a, advising the trump campaign or at least trying to, and still talking to them after he himself was under scrutiny? >> well, i think you see from everyone in trump's circles over the last circumstances months, effort to deflect and obstruct. this falls probably more in the category of deflect as ken reporting, kudos for the story, coming up with this alternative narrative. it's all about alternative narratives. i think as you get into the obstruction side, conversations that manafort has with reince priebus or anything else, i mean ken and politico reported what they know about these conversations, but the question i have just as a reader of the story, as another reporter, what other conversations were there? what else happened in these conversations? these are all things now that the special counsel is going to have to look at.
and whether paul manafort who is a very creative guy who has made millions of dollars helping politicians avoid responsibility around the globe, what else he was suggesting, what other conversations reince priebus was having with outside republicans with people who worked on the campaign? we see indications again and again and again that there were multiple conversations about what do we do to push back the fight or to block this investigation? that's all fodder for the special counselor. >> zero conversations about how do we prevent russia from interfering in our election. >> not one. >> david corn just mentioned how many conversations, additional conversations with reince priebus. ken, your story reports paul manafort tnds to talk with not only trump's team but had two conversations with donald trump himself according to people close to manafort and trump. the reason that is important, of course, "the new york times" reporting yesterday specifically about paul manafort that senior russian intelligence and political officials were
discussing how to exert influence over donald j. trump through his advisors and those conversations focused on paul manafort, the trump campaign chairman at the time and michael flynn, the retired general who was advising trump. both men had indirect ties to russian officials appeared confident each of them could be used to help shape trump's opinions on russia. you have somebody, manafort, who is not just talking to reince priebus, he's talking to trump himself despite the fact the russians saw him as an agent of influence. >> that's right. we understand that manafort continued to talk with people very close to trump including jared kushner throughout the campaign after he was forced to resign from the campaign, not coincidentally because of news reporting about his ties to the pro-russian, ukrainian, former ukrainian victor. he did talk to trump at least twice. we do have some dispute about how many times and when he talked to trump. manafort certainly led folks to believe that he was talking to trump often, right up until the russia investigation heated up. we don't know precisely when
that was. we have some push back from folks close to trump saying no, it was much less frequent. but clearly there is an open channel of communication here. as david suggested, it's not just between manafort or folks involved in this who are being looked at and trump, in fact we know trump texted mike flynn saying, stay strong. but it's also trump's team and the fbi with the report from cnn that right after trump asked comey to stand down on some of this stuff that priebus called the fbi, called both comey and his deputy director and asked them if they could come out and say something to refute reports about communication between trump's team and the russians during the campaign. so, all this is going to feed into the sort of handling of the investigation as opposed to the actual meat of the interactions between trump's team and russia. >> and, david, do we have any reporting, ken, you would know
either, does manafort still live in trump tower? >> i understand he does have the apartment there still. >> the apartment doesn't seem to have been sold. that's the other thing. he's been under investigation, too, for the way he's done his banking and payments in ukraine, putting money through the cypress bank. there is a lot here he or anybody whether we talked jared kushner earlier in the show, once the fbi starts looking at you, it's never a good thing. but it also gives the fbi leverage if they find anything else and getting you to tell the story that main lead to others. >> interesting to find out if there are conversations that happened at their mutual address on fifth avenue. david and ken, thanks for joining us. thank you both. coming up -- >> thank you. >> thank you guys. the other big breaking news stories, the vote results are in. steve korn ake has it all for us right after this. ok, let's call his agent. i'm coming over right now.
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the special election out in mont mo montana, we have a winner, greg gianforte. controversy exploded around him, the altercation he had with the reporter for the guardian newspaper. he said he was body slammed by gianforte. could it affect the result at the last minute? again, gianforte winning the thing. they are still tabulating the votes, but gianforte is going to be the winner. just a short while ago in bows man, his hometown out there, he declared victory and for the first time since that incident last night, he publicly addressed his altercation with that reporter. take a listen to what he had to say. >> last night i made a mistake. and i took an action that i can't take back. and i'm not proud of what
happened. i should not have responded in the way that i did. and for that i'm sorry. >> and you're forgiven. [cheering and applauding] >> i should not have treated that reporter that way. and for that, i'm sorry, mr. ben jacobs. [ applause ] >> i also want to apologize for the fox news team that was there, and i'm sorry to each one of you that we had to go through this. that's not the person that i am and it's not the way i'll lead in this state. >> all right, again, that's greg gianforte a short while ago in montana. he is the congressman elect for
montana. republican candidate, again, he apologized. those are his first president bush public comments since it came to light. he apologized to the reporter. that is something that paul ryan speaker of the house called on him to do today. gianforte issued that apology as he declared victory. also notable in that victory speech from greg gianforte, he latched himself onto the president, he used donald trump's slogan about making america great again, about draining the swamp. something donald trump had talked about in the campaign. he said, hey, this victory means montana wants donald trump to have a partner in me, and that of course is the other backdrop to this race besides that controversy in the last 24 hours. what does this say about the state of the trump presidency, about what the public thinks of it, about maybe what we can expect in those midterms in 2018? so, what we know again, still counting the votes, but right now a 7-point lead here for greg gianforte, the republican. donald trump won this state. this district is the entire
state. donald trump won it by 21 points back in november. so, democrats definitely succeeded at chipping into that 21 points. they took about two-thirds of the margin off it looks like, from 21, they knocked it down to 7 points. still, democrats were hoping especially with that last-minute controversy last night, they were hoping to do better than 7 points. so, what happened? how did it come to this tonight? let's take a quick look at the map and some of the things we can tell you. some of the clues we can read into what it means for 2018. a couple things jump out. why did gianforte survive? two things here. first of all, this is trump country in montana. eastern part of the state, it is very rural. you are looking at counties here, almost all of these where donald trump got 80%, even north of 90% in one case against hillary clinton last november. well, gianforte held serve. he got basically the same numbers donald trump did. so, if you were looking at donald trump's core base and saying, are they turned off, are they maybe thinking of
abandoning donald trump? certainly no evidence of that here. he racked up massive margins. small counties, but massive margins does make a difference. meanwhile, what about the western part of the state here? a couple things. first of all, look at missoula, the university of montana, the home of the grizzlies. this is the heart of the democratic base in montana rob quist was looking to get two-thirds of the vote, 67, 68 on a good day. 70% of the vote. they're still counting them here. it looks like he's going to be in the lower 60s. so, again, a strong performance for the democrats, not as strong as they needed. the real story, though, the real disappointment on this map for democrats tonight is right here at the heart of montana. yellow stone county, billings, that's the largest city in the state. this is the largest county in the state. this is one where democrats succeed -- they can succeed. john tester, democrat, he's a u.s. senator now. they have a governor steve bullock, a democrat. when democrats succeed in
montana they can basically pull even in yellow stone county. not even close tonight for rob quist. he's going to lose this thing by 19 points. so, again, rob quist not getting what he needed there. that's the biggest single disappointment on the board. overall, one of the questions we asked coming into today was how much could that event last night, could that controversy with that reporter actually affect the result, given how much early vote there was? we're getting a sense here. probably about three out of every four ballots that were cast in this thing ended up being cast early, before that -- before news broke of the fight with the reporter last night. three out of four early vote being, certainly a big part of this story. nationally what does it mean? it is special election season. quickly in kansas, a few weeks ago, you had our first special election. democrats said, moral victory, it was a big trump victory. they knocked the margin down to 7. republicans said a win is a win. you have to put a victory on the board. montana tonight again, democrats
will try to say moral victory, a 21 point trump victory, they got it down to 7. that is progress. 7 is still a solid margin. win is a win. when are you democrats going to put one on the board? of course that brings us to the next drama on this map. it's coming up in a few weeks. it's georgia 6, it's the suburbs of atlanta, it's exactly democrats will be the kind of district democrats think could propel them to a house victory in 2018. circle this one because if democrats don't win this one, they got some questions to answer. this isn't about moral victories any more for them. they have to win georgia 6 in a few weeks. that is the story for montana tonight. again, the republicans hold that seat in montana, a victory for gianforte, and we're back after this. that's why i have the spark cash card from capital one. with it, i earn unlimited 2% cash back on all of my purchasing. and that unlimited 2% cash back from spark means thousands of dollars each year going back into my business...
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who they will send to congress. >> to see this person who wants to be the one representative into the house of representatives from montana be sort of a wanna be trump, use language like that, treat people harshly like that, that's his model. donald trump is his model. >> those were the top republican and democratic house leaders, paul ryan and nancy pelosi reacting to the alleged body slamming incident from last night involving a man who could soon become one of their colleagues in congress. now, we're still monitoring the results of that special election in montana and that -- that comes just one day after the gop candidate greg gianforte was charged with assault of altercation of a reporter. here's what ben jacobs told msnbc earlier today. >> i tried to ask an important issue for voters. this is a major piece of legislation, making sure voters have the information they need.
i don't know what i could have done differently. it just sort of -- i just tried to do my job and do my job the way i'm supposed to do my job. >> and joining us now david jolly, former republican congressman from florida and senior editor for business insider and msnbc contributor, thank you guys both for being here. david, i'll start with you. >> thank you. >> you have the disadvantage of not being at the table with us. it strikes me the republican party has a lose/lose situation in a lot of ways. either they lose a special election that wasn't on the target list of democrats' 23 congressional seats hillary clinton won the congressional district. >> right. >> or they have to serve with greg gianforte and somehow excuse his presence for the next couple of years. which is the worst -- >> joy, it is a remarkably low bar to be a republican candidate in trump america right now. he should lose. and republicans want him to
lose. he needs to go away. it is better for the long term prospects of the party. but, joy, get to a bigger political issue going into 2018 frankly on this. understand when ben jacobs approached him with a question, the question was about the ahca and you had a republican, an nrcc picked candidate in a deeply red state that trump won by 20, who had refused to take a position on the ahca, refused to, and his excuse was he had to wait for the cbo report. well, guess what? that came out last night. and all of a sudden he had to answer to it and he couldn't. what happened when ben jacobs said, tell us where you stand on the republican health care bill, he choked the reporter. that is the state of republican politics right now on health care and frankly on the 2018 mid terms. >> and i think that is sort of the strange thing about it. this was an argument about not wanting to talk about the cbo score for the health care bill that this man gianforte would
not say whether he supports. this is the republican thelt carol bill. evgenia he h >> he had gotten to the election without taking a position on it. i'm sure he found it frustrating to have that interfered with. he has a bit of a reputation for being a hot head. this guy ran for governor six months ago and lost to the incumbent democrat. he'd run up fairly substantial negatives to that point. so, i think republicans were not thrilled about this candidate to begin with. the "the new york times" is quoting a guy who runs republican super pack who spent almost $3 million on this race who tried to ee lelkt gianforte who called him a c-minus candidate. the way the returns are coming in somewhere in the single digits, he will win. he will be vulnerable again in 2018 and he'll have this baggage. republicans might be better off trying to defend the seat with generic republican rather than gianforte who they're going to be stuck with if he wins. >> aside from the fact if he wins in single digits, in a state donald trump won in a blowout, that in and of itself
is insane. what about the culture of the republican party at this point? there is a photo, i had a photo of a guy who was at a trump rally last year who essentially was -- there it is -- rope. tree. journalist. there were interviews done on the gianforte who said my kind of guy, i'm glad that he did it, i'm glad he beat that reporter up. the culture of the republican party seems to be going in a certain direction under donald trump. >> it's embarrassing and it's shapeful. this is trump america. he created this culture. the 46% of the country that voted him into the oval office affirmed this culture. and now we see the results of it. and we saw that in montana, but listen, you know what we really need to be looking for? look at the true toss-up seat which is ossoff in ga. he wins this in june. i was the product of a special election. at the time it was 2013, the obamacare roll out was a disaster. democrats, whether they liked it or not, the fact is it was highly unpopular. the roll out was a disaster.
my opponent, a democrat, hand picked by the dccc, they could not figure out the messaging on obamacare. well, now we're seeing in 2017 republicans cannot figure out a message on their plan because it's not working and what you're going to see in georgia in a true toss up, frankly shouldn't be a toss up but it will be. ossoff is going to win, the democrats are going to win and the democrats will take the house in 2018 as a result of, joy, what you said is the culture of the republic kun party right now, it's embarrassing, it's shapeful. >> it goes all the way to the house of representatives. this is the reaction of republican from pennsylvania asked whether or not gianforte would be welcomed with open arms by the caucus. take a look. >> would he be welcome in the republican conference if he wins tonight? >> yes, of course. >> he's been charged with assault. >> i don't think he was charged on all the facts, but let -- there will be proceedings to do deal with that.
those are the only things i know. we should always be civil. >> we didn't have a course on body slamming when i went to school. i missed that course. i'm sorry, i missed it. >> the left has precipitated this tense confrontational approach throughout the country in recent months, and it's unfortunate that this happened today. i reject any kind of thing where we use physical violence in a situation like that. it should not happen. >> josh, you know the gianforte campaign saying they raised $100,000 off the assault. >> it's gross. there is a significant part of the country that celebrates this. i would note i think there is some irresponsible talk about this being specific to montana which i don't think is true. i think you see people with these proclivities all over the country. i think it is a republican problem across the country. the other thing is those republican members asked if he
would be welcome, if he wins he'll be duly elected. he's charged with misdemeanor assault, not a crime you'd be sent to jail for for a first offense. he'll continue without a finding. it is really up to the breaking tonight, jared kushner under fbi scrutiny putting the russia investigation not just inside the west wing, but inside the trump family. and alongside the president. tonight what the feds want to know. plus donald trump's america first bravado on display at nato as the president rales against u.s. allies. and could the congressional candidate charged with assault be headed for a win tonightn
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