tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC May 26, 2017 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
proposal was made to the russian ambassador in trump tower back in december. apparently it didn't actually get created, but it was proposed back then. we are now learning about it through "the washington post" tonight. a very busy hour. our cast of thousands for this hour, thanks everybody for joining us. happy memorial day weekend. obviously we will follow all of this throughout the evening on msnbc. "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes, and we once again have breaking news tonight about the trump campaign and russia, and it is a doozy. "the washington post" citing u.s. officials briefed on intelligence reports reporting that jared kushner and russia's ambassador to washington, sergey kislyak, discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between trump's transition team and the kremlin using russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move
to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring. according to the post, ambassador kislyak said kushner suggested using russian diplomatic facilities in the united states for the communications and reportedly kislyak was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an american to use russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate. a proposal that would have carried security risks for moscow as well as the trump team. so it appears that jared kushner met with the russian ambassador in secret, reportedly to set up a back channel possibly in russian diplomatic facilities. kushner then omitted this meeting on his sf-86 security clearance form. and when he was called on it months later in april of this year, his lawyers called it an error. but if kislyak's account is accurate, how likely is it that jared kushner just forgot about a cloak and dagger meeting with a foreign agent to set up a secret back channel? how likely is it that his omission of that meeting to u.s. officials was simply an
oversight? jared kushner could have read on the clearance form he filled out that knowingly falsifying or concealing information is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. joining me now by phone is one of the authors of that report, "washington post" reporter greg miller. greg, put some context for this. how unusual is this? >> it's hard to even assess how unusual it is. i mean i just can't think of any scenario in which an incoming administration, a senior adviser and, in fact, a relative of an incoming president would want to -- would suggest this sort of secret back channel communication with moscow, let alone doing so using russian communications facilities. >> what is the context of this meeting? >> well, so it comes in early december, so about a month after the election. so this is before, you know, the
flynn meetings that -- the flynn conversations got the national security adviser ultimately pushed out of office. and it's at a time when both sides, russia and the trump transition team, are sort of still, you know, preparing for a warming of relationships. >> and does this meeting happen in trump tower in new york? >> yes. the meeting happened in trump tower on december 1st or 2nd. the white house hasn't been clear on the specific date. and we've known about that meeting for quite a while. we've known that kushner and flynn met with kislyak there and then. we didn't know until tonight that they had discussed in that meeting setting up a secure, secret, separate channel for communications coming out of that session. >> and we know that your reporting suggests based on intelligence intercepts of a report on the conversation that
kislyak sent to other russian officials, is that correct? >> that's right. that's an important point here. so this is kislyak reporting back to moscow. this is not the u.s. monitoring this meeting at trump tower, eavesdropping on u.s. officials in the u.s. this is kislyak calling moscow or communicating with moscow about what happens during this meeting. of course we know pretty well now that kislyak and his communications are under heavy surveillance by the united states. >> we also know -- i mean just a detail that strikes me as important about this meeting, that was a period of time in which lots of people were coming to trump tower and generally coming in the front, and there was a kind of almost like c-span camera in that front lobby where you could basically see the comings and goings. this clearly happened in a way in which kislyak entered the building without being caught on camera, correct? >> yeah. we've spent a lot of reporting energy trying to locate evidence of this visit, and you're right.
so it appears in this case, kislyak didn't go through the same front door that so many other people did to meet with this trump team. >> so what is the response from the white house or from the kushner attorneys? >> so a very limited response from the white house on this one. you see in our story there is no comment from the white house. i can only tell you that there was significant back and forth from the white house. we gave them every opportunity to provide an explanation for what happened here, and they declined to do so on the record. >> one really interesting detail in your story is that the story says that this information was first brought to your reporter's attention by an anonymous letter, is that correct? >> yes, that's right. so quite some time ago, we got this letter in the mail. my colleague ellen nakashima got it. it came in her mailbox. it was typed. it had no signature.
it gave no means of tracing this back to the source, but it had a lot of information in it about things that had been happening in trump tower. and it appeared to be from somebody inside the transition or inside trump tower who was concerned about what this person was seeing. and a lot of what's written or conveyed in this letter has sort of come -- become true over time. it's taken a while for a lot of this stuff to surface, including this detail about this discussion over a back channel or a private channel of communications with moscow. >> again i just want to -- i'm trying to sort of bend over to read this as charitably as possible. so i mean is it possible that they were setting up lots of different back channels with lots of different foreign leaders? >> well, we don't -- i mean i suppose it's possible. clearly they were in communication and meeting with a lot of leaders, a lot of foreign leaders. most of them, as you point out,
were coming through the front door, not the back door. the behavior here is part of what's interesting and newsworthy, i think, right? the way this was all handled. the context here, of course, is that these are meetings with russian officials just weeks after an election that russia had spent months in an unprecedented sort of campaign, attempting to upend or interfere with. so i mean it's really -- i mean on the one hand, you can argue sometimes that it's appropriate for incoming administrations to have contact with foreign governments and so forth. >> certainly. >> but this was extraordinary. >> yeah. greg miller, remarkable reporting. thank you for your time tonight. i really appreciate you hopping on the phone. >> absolutely. thank you. >> joining me now, sabrina siddiqui, political reporter for the guardian, and nicholas johnson, axious editor. i'm almost out of words, sabrina. i don't know what to make of
this. this seems bizarre and certainly incriminating. >> yes. i think that so far, a lot of the leaks have pretty much provided more specificity to what we already knew, that there were communications between members of the trump transition team and russian officials. but this is the first time that we're seeing one of the president's senior most advisers actively seeking a back channel with moscow and also deliberately -- you know, they're saying it was an oversight, but we do know leaving this meeting off of his request for a security clearance. and the question is, was this just another sign of the complete inexperience that this particular administration had coming in, or was there something more nefarious going on? i think the investigators are really going to hone in on the fact that kushner did not disclose these meetings previously and also the fact that he has held other meetings
such as with a russian bank that was subject to u.s. sanctions at a time when this administration, on its way in, was advocating for a shift in u.s. policy toward russia. >> nicholas, there's also to me, what's so important about this story is the centrality of kushner. y yesterday there's reporting saying he's not the subject of investigation but being looked at. we've had other names in the trump orbit that have been circulated. flynn constitutionall flynn crucially. manafort, carter page. this is the most central figure in the administration calling the shots here according to this reporting. >> right. >> it doesn't get closer to the president. >> that's exactly right. as my good friend wrote, there is no one like jared kushner who is as close to the president, who has his hand involved in so many issues with the president.
the news that he was a person of interest in this case means a huge time suck for the white house having to deal with these kinds of issues. remember what the fbi was looking at was what was happening in that meeting. now we know it was in the me meeting which only made it more interesting. i think the line the post quoted with the russian ambassador, that he was taken aback by this request is absolutely incredible. >> yeah, using russian facilities. i mean you don't have the words for how anomalous that would be. ni nicholas, let me ask you this because you do a lot of reporting about what happens in that white house. the story from the white house about general flynn's calls to kislyak on sanctions day, calls that the white house and flynn did not tell the truth about, the nature of which they did not tell the truth about. the story from donald trump is that he didn't tell flynn to talk to kislyak about sanctions, but it was fine, and he would have if he hadn't. right? that's the donald trump line. given the relationship between
the president of the united states and his son-in-law, jared kushner, how plausible is it that jared kushner sets up a meeting with the ambassador to russia to set up a secret back channel without the knowledge of the president-elect? >> i don't know how plausible it is, but what we do know is that it wasn't on that form. they said it was an oversight. i think what we're learning, that the white house is coming to deal with, they're building this war room to fight against, as this investigative apparatus spins up to look at these kinds of things, they're going to find all of these kind of discrepancies, every little oversight like this will be found by investigators and some of it might be leaked in the press. that's going to become a steady drum beat every day at 5:00. friday, holiday weekend, it's still coming out, and the white house needs to be able to respond to it. >> i want to play what sean spicer said about kushner's omission. this is really crucial. the clearance process is a serious process. people have to fill out those forms. at the top of the form it says very clearly if you omit knowingly or withhold the truth,
you're committing a felony. jared kushner has very good, very adept, expensive lawyers. so he knows what he's doing. he omitted this meeting from that form. when they were caught omitting it, this is what sean spicer had to say about it. >> throughout the campaign and the transition, jared served as the official primary point of contact with foreign governments and officials. you're acting as though there's something nefarious about doing what he was actually tasks to do. >> what's nefarious is that here you now have flynn and kushner in really intense contact with the russian ambassador. >> right. >> not telling -- lying about it. lying about it. >> right. you have both flynn and both kushner, while seeking security clearance, failing to disclose the extent of their contacts or communications with russian officials. as you note, that is a felony offense that is punishable by up to five years in prison. and i think that to sean
spicer's point, on the question of whether or not there's something nefarious going on, this latest report that kushner was seeking this back channel in order to communicate with moscow directly undermines actually the rationale that the white house has put forward for a lot of these meetings. if you recall throughout the last couple of months as these revelations have come forward, they have said that, well, look, this is just a routine part of the job, that any incoming administration sits down with foreign dignitaries, and there's nothing nefarious or inherently wrong with doing that. well, there is some things certainly nefarious or wrong with seeking to keep out of the -- to shield, i should say, your communications with officials in russia, and i think this truly is, compared to a lot of incremental updates we've seen in recent weeks, a significant development. >> i completely agree as someone following this full time, 16 hours a day at this point, and mapping little -- this is a very major development, an extremely
salient and important bit of information we learned tonight. really, really remarkable. sabrina siddiqui, nicholas johnson, thanks to you both. i want to give the context for "the washington post" report tonight. because the meeting described between kushner, flynn, and the russian ambassador is one of several contacts between members of the trump team and russian officials both during the transition and the campaign, interactions they seemingly did not want anyone to find out about. >> was there any contact in any way between trump or his associates and the kremlin or cutout they had? >> i joined this campaign in the summer, and i can tell you that all the contact by the trump campaign and associates was with the american people. >> i'm just trying to get an answer. >> yeah. of course not. why would there be any contacts between the campaign? >> of course not. why would there be any contacts? that claim made on the record, on air, by the vice president of the united states, mike pence from january, is simply not true. it is false. last week, reuters reported the
trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with russian officials. jeff sessions met twice with the sim russian ambassador, sergey kislyak, who keeps popping up, last year. sessions didn't disclose those meetings and had to recuse himself from the russia investigation after they became public. michael flynn had repeated and largely undisclosed contacts with the same russian ambassador last year. he was eventually fired for lying about the content of their conversations. and jared kushner met with both the russian ambassador and a russian banker named sergei gorkov, a graduate of russia's spy school, whose bank is controlled by members of vladimir putin's government. kushner also did not initially disclose those meetings. even put ago side the disclosure issue, it's just really weird for a campaign to have so many contacts with officials of the russian government. last week, paul begala, who worked on bill clinton's 1992 campaign at a very different time of u.s.-russia relations,
just asked how many campaign veterans had in their campaign. romney 2012 stuart stephens responded simply, nyet. joining me now, a former ambassador to nato, and malcolm nance, msnbc trim analyst. as someone who is familiar with diplomacy, familiar with international relations, and the protocols by which governments talk to each other, perhaps incoming governments may talk to each other, what do you make of this story? >> well, it's a remarkable story, and as the press and the investigators figure out what was happening, we will get to the bottom of it. it is true that during transitions, i was a member of the obama/biden transition in '08-'09, that during transitions
it is not unheard of for incoming officials to have contact with foreign governments. certainly that happened in our case. we did it with allies. we talked to the french and the brits and the germans, and it might be appropriate to have one or so conversations with other countries, including an important country like russia. the idea of establishing a separate, outside the mainstream communication channel, which is what is reported in "the washington post," really is something different. it takes a president-elect who has no formal authority, none whatsoever, and starts the process of having relations and in this case secret relations with another country, presumably not only not because they want to hide it from the russians, but they want to hide it from the u.s. government. and that is different to say the least, if not strange.
>> yeah. malcolm, you've been covering this, and to me part of what's so incriminating really for lack of a better word -- and i don't want to say there's necessarily something underneath it all necessarily obviously. this is circumstantial, is the deception. you can say relationships with russia are important. they've become dysfunctional. our administration ran openly and publicly on setting a new course of russia relations. that was clear. that was not hidden. and we want to talk to the russians, and we want to talk to the russian ambassador because we want to get off on a good foot. they could have done that in the open. >> of course. they have the right to do that in the open because they are the incoming government of the united states. there is nothing wrong with that. i'd like to put this into a better perspective for the audience because i understand that, you know, everyone wants to be a little cautious about this. and we should be cautious about it. it needs to have the amount of respect that's due, due to this breaking news.
but had any individual other than these individuals who worked immediately for president trump, performed these actions at any time in the sf-86 security clearance process, they would have immediately had their clearances pulled. they would have had their jobs terminated. some of these contacts are so suspicious that they would have warranted their own counterintelligence investigation. this nation is in a counterintelligence investigation. they are in a spy hunt over at the fbi, and now we have this story. should it prove true, of an american citizen who is the senior adviser to the president of the united states, attempting to establish what we call in the intelligence community covert communications with a hostile nation's potential intelligence agency or senior leadership. that brings you -- that crosses the line to the espionage act of 1917. this cannot be explained. put aside the other 18 contacts with moscow.
this one incident requires jared kushner and all of his immediate staff to have their clearances pulled right now and to have the fbi descend on there and to determine whether this is hostile intelligence in the white house one step from the president. >> have you experienced in your time when there have been revelations of someone omitting something as salient as this on their clearance form? >> yeah. i've had that happen, and not myself, but i've seen people who have inadvertently left off contacts with germans, who left off contacts, you know, with people in the course of their duties. their clearances were temporarily suspended as a matter of course. the counterintelligence agencies and the counterintelligence divisions of all of the intelligence agencies take these omissions very seriously. they're almost as bad as leaving off very bad financial data, which is blackmailable, which is
why they take this seriously. just because this is the office of the president does not give them a pass. and right now i am way beyond believing this is suspicious. i am pretty far beyond this to the point that this is now sinister. there is no way that this can be explained. i mean from the intelligence perspective. >> yeah. >> you know. from the diplomatic perspective, perhaps. but there just is no way that if this is true that he wanted covert communications with the russian using russian cryptographic systems in the hopes that we didn't have those things broken, then this is now espionage. >> to go back to your point, having first hand experience of this, being in a transition, which, again, transitions are strange, right? at one level, it's the incoming government, so there's some degree to which you have the capacity to talk to foreign governments, but also you have no formal vested constitutional powers. you would never, ever, ever have a meeting in which you would suggest to a foreign ambassador to use their diplomatic facilities to evade american
intelligence detection, right? >> no, because our transitions don't tend to be hostile takeovers from one government to the next. they're transitions and we move from a process of having one person elected and taking the time for the government to get in place and the idea of hiding from the -- from your own government what you're trying to do is definitely something new. and it may reflect a suspicion that clearly the president-elect and his team had for the intelligence services. remember during the campaign and during the transition, he had some choice words for them. and it may be that out of naivete, they decided to do this. i'm not prepared to come to any conclusion here. we have an investigation ongoing. the fbi for sure will look into this as well as everything else. but from a larger diplomatic standpoint, there is this very restraining time, the 72 days
between election and inauguration when one government is fully and 100% in control, but it's leaving, and another team is -- has no control whatsoever, but it will on january 20 at noon take full responsibility for everything that happens. >> let me ask one more question. malcolm, i want to come back to you on that. but let me just follow up one thing because you wrote, you know, part of the subtext here is that, you know, this candidate, candidate trump, was quite clearly more disposed to be pro-putin and pro-russia and that we should get along with russia and that was a public policy stance he took while the russian government was engaged in fairly significant measures to engage in criminal espionage and sabotage. but you wrote about the nato meeting in which here he is, you know, six months after having become the president of the united states, still essentially doing some of the things that vladimir putin would hope for him to do in terms of his relationship to nato and what he said at that meeting.
>> yeah, clearly he's pursued a very consistent policy when it comes to russia. he has -- did during the campaign made very clear that he thinks vladimir putin is someone you can deal with, that he can deal with, at least trying to have a positive relationship with russia was worth having. and he's continued to have that position as president, even to the point that coming to nato headquarters where many of the allies he was greeting there now see russia as their greatest security threat, frankly ignoring the russian threat and even omitting any sign that the united states under donald trump is committed to the collected defense provisions of the nato treaty. it's consistent with his campaign and what has happened since. it is inconsistent with the narrative that somehow he is turning around and becoming more mainstream or moderate on these kinds of issues. >> malcolm, i want you to stay with us. i want to bring in paul butler,
a form federal prosecutor, a professor at georgetown law. to malcolm's point about security clearance revocation. there's a very strong case that jared kushner may have committed a felony on his clearance form. what do you see as the sort of legal exposure here, paul? >> i think you're right, chris. this afternoon, jared kushner was a long way away from being prosecuted. now, this evening, i think he's about two accesteps away. he's probably a subject of the fbi special counsel investigation. why? because what was he trying to keep secret? that's the kind of thing that raises prosecutor suspicions. he wanted to have these top-secret, private conversations with the russians. who didn't he want to know? now, he has plausible deniability. he could say that he was suspicious of the obama administration. but if that's true, why didn't he disclose that on his security
clearance forms? every public corruption prosecutor, including me, has prosecuted cases like this. when people intentionally withhold information, that's a felony. >> and, malcolm, you're murmuring in agreement. you also said that you thought under the espionage act. what did you mean by that, malcolm? >> right now, let's just take it from the perspective of every intelligence watch officer in the world who is watching this program right now. >> and we have millions of them. >> that's millions. there's thousands of people who are out there, who are on duty right now watching this, who have top secret sci clearance, knowing that in one instance, even a fraction of this would lose their clearances. they'll have to ask themselves the question they would ask in any counterintelligence environment, and that is this. why? what is the motivational device that jared kushner, should this story be true because we don't know if it's entirely true. we don't even know what the
source of this was. the russians themselves could have leaked this story in order to create chaos. but why would he want to hide, covert his communications from the u.s. government, believing that he would want to be able to use a facility obviously that would have more secure communications to create a back channel that u.s. crip tow logic collection couldn't get? that right there alone is covert communications. that is indicative of espionage activity of an american citizen that is working in league with a hostile government. and right now there is no fbi counterintelligence officer in the world right now that does not believe that if this story is true. >> and, paul, it strikes me true in terms of the legal exposure for jared kushner. there's now a question about the president, and the president obviously doesn't have legal exposure in the way that non-presidents do because our remedy for presidents that break the law is impeachment. but, you know, jared kushner works for the president of the
united states and worked for the president-elect at the time, and has been reported about 100 times a day as his closest advisers. you got to wonder that investigators have to be looking at the president at this point, right? >> before mike flynn was the key to the big fish, and the big fish was either the president, the vice president, or someone high up in the white house, like the president's son-in-law and senior adviser. so we know that mike flynn has a story to tell. at least that's what his lawyer claims. he wants to snitch, but he's not going to talk unless he gets immunity. immunity is a long way away. but with kushner's involvement, that's a lot more incentive for the special counsel to try to turn flynn to see if he's got the goods on both kushner and the president of the united states. >> this is maybe a silly technical question, but is that -- is immunity the kind of thing that special counsel robert mueller is invested with
the authority to offer? >> absolutely. the problem is so is the senate intelligence committee. so there's got to be negotiations between the house committee, the senate committee, and the special counsel. the special counsel should get priority, but, you know, in the oliver north case, the case got messed up. his conviction got overturned because of this confusion about immunity. >> that's a good lesson for all those folks to learn. there's no talk about sanctions, right? so this is the sort of shoe that seems like perpetually about to drop. we had an interesting situation, which of course there's a policy agenda here. in some ways, the words from donald trump have been quite sort of russia-friendly, but there hasn't been significant or substantive alteration of policy in terms of sanctions particularly. gary cohn, adviser to the president, seems to indicate that was possibly up for
renewal. he walked that back. how significant would a meeting with putin be under these circumstances? >> well, i think a meeting between the u.s. president and the russian president, which is already on the agenda for july when both of them are at the g20 meeting in hamburg, is perfectly appropriate. the united states and president trump has met with many leaders, and it's appropriate to have a meeting with vladimir putin even given what is going on here at home. as long as the investigation is going on and we don't have anything more than an investigation, it's up to the president of the united states to continue to govern and to run the foreign policy of our country, which includes the potential for meeting and having dialogue with the russians. that said, the issue of sanctions is a little different. sanctions were imposed, and there are a whole set of them. there's one set of sanctions that was imposed after the annexation of crimea.
there was a second set impoesed after it became clear russian forces were directly engaged in eastern ukraine in military activities. and of course a third set of sanctions that was imposed by the obama administration in late december of last year in retaliation for russian interference in our elections. and these are u.s. sanctions. they're not nato or anybody else's sanctions though europeans have similar sanctions as well. and lifting any of those without a fundamental change in russian policy strikes me as sending absolutely the wrong signal at this point. the russians are still in ukraine. they still have annexed crimea. they are still in violation of every norm of international behavior by interfering not only in our but many other elections. and the least we can do is to keep the kind of sanctions and keep the kind of pressure that we've had for the past few years. >> all right.
ambassador, malcolm nance, and paul butler, thank you all for joining us. ahead, more on the breaking news tonight where for the second night in a row, all eyes turn to jared kushner. that after this two-minute break. three-quarters of what it takes to replace it. what are you supposed to do? drive three-quarters of a car? now if you had liberty mutual new car replacement™, you'd get your whole car back. i guess they don't want you driving around on three wheels. smart. with liberty mutual new car replacement™, we'll replace the full value of your car. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance. mmmm. mmmm. mmmm... ugh. nothing spoils a moment like heartburn. try new alka-seltzer ultra strength heartburn relief chews. it's fast, powerful relief with no chalky taste.
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where you do business. ♪ ♪ all right. we continue to follow the breaking news of this hour. "the washington post" reporting that president trump's top adviser and son-in-law, jared kushner, proposed setting up a secret and secure communications channel between trump's transition team and the kremlin during a meeting with the russian ambassador, sergey kislyak, at trump tower last december. prior to the last two days, all eyes were on trump associates michael flynn, paul manafort and carter page and their ties to russian officials. but now the focus is squarely on jared kushner. joining me now, contributing writer and talk of the town editor, author of ivanka and jared's power play. and david cay johnston. lizzy, it is a fantastic profile that you wrote. >> thanks. >> i guess the question is like how -- who is this person at the center of this? it seems to me this is a person
who has now been charged with a set of responsibilities that he is, from all outside perspective, entirely unprepared for. >> i think that's true. i think he's had definitely a unique life up to this point. i mean something that strikes me as like almost as sort of greek tragedy aspect of this is that the defining event in his life, which happened i guess when he was 24, was his dad being under federal investigation and being sent to jail, which forced him -- he was a law school student, and he then became the head of this family real estate business, ran that business for a couple years. >> while his father was in prison? >> yeah. he became the head of the family, the head of the business while his dad was in prison, and flew down to alabama every weekend to be with him. >> his father was prosecuted for
a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances in which his father essentially attempted to trap a sibling with sex workers. is this correct? >> yeah, it's something like that. it is a -- i don't know. like it's a very baroque -- >> we don't have to get the details but -- >> it's definitely one of the more new jersey stories i've ever read in my entire life. but his dad was -- is a very successful real estate mogul in new jersey, and he ran a business started by his father, jared's grandfather. and there was a family feud essentially between charles kushner, jared's dad, and his brother. and it escalated into a bizarre sort of revenge plot that involved jared's dad paying a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, which was then
taped and sent to his sister. >> and this is blown up. it's investigated by the fbi, prosecute the by chris christie of all people. >> yeah, so chris christie was the federal -- >> u.s. attorney. and david cay, the idea that this -- there's something just remarkable about the fact that jared kushner, you know, is engaging all this, having seen firsthand the force of law of the federal government, right? i mean to omit something from your security clearance form, having the experience that he has had. >> right. well, hubris is absolutely a central element in this. but jared kushner is not naive here. as lizzie pointed out, and it is an excellent profile she wrote. he ran the family business. he's negotiated a number of deals including the most expensive building exchange ever in new york city, a nearly $2 billion deal. this is a cutthroat business
that requires a great deal of attention to detail. and to suggest that, you know, jared kushner didn't understand the consequences of proposing this back channel meeting, i mean i'll tell you what. i'm willing to excuse a drunk in a bar or a 13-year-old boy. jared kushner, no way. their excuse, however, is going to be for sure, well, he didn't really understand. yeah, well, then why isn't it on your disclosure form, and why in the world did you want a back channel to begin with? >> one thing i will say that's a characteristic of his dad and of donald trump and a lot of real estate people is a huge appetite for risk, which he took by getting behind this campaign and running it, and which his father took by spending $1.8 billion on an office building in manhattan. >> which is now leveraged to the hilt. >> yes, which is in trouble financially. >> yeah. >> chris -- >> i want you to follow up.
>> if i can just make one other point. >> please. >> that there is not a hundredth of an inch of separation between donald trump, jared kushner, and mike flynn even after he was fired. so i think it's perfectly reasonable to then figure that donald trump was not the unwitting victim of this meeting that kushner and flynn had with ambassador kislyak. >> lizzie and david, many, many thanks. appreciate it. joining me now, one of his soon to be colleagues, one of the colleagues of the newly elected montana congressman, a story we were going to get to tonight that we have blown out because of this news. maxine waters of california, congresswoman, your reaction to the news from "the washington post" tonight? >> well, my reaction is perhaps one of sadness rather than of kind of i told you so. i just -- i've always known that with the proper investigation, connecting the dots, you know,
illuminating the facts, that we were going to find out that there certainly was collusion. i named a number of the allies of this president early on. i did not name jared kushner. i didn't quite understand what his role was. but now it's very, very clear. and his attempts to establish this back channel and to use russian facilities to do it certainly speaks to criminality. and his inability to understand that he absolutely had to disclose his meetings and his involvement with russians, and now trying to claim that he just overlooked is not acceptable and not believable. and so i'm a little bit sad because i see us moving steadily to the point where we're going to unveil all of this collusion,
all of those persons that were involved, and it leads right to the president of the united states, which i've always believed. and so let the investigations go on. let the information unfold. the fact of the matter is right in the midst of this campaign, the transition team, all of that, we have had these allies, including manafort and flynn and carter page and jared kushner. all of them have been involved for quite some time with the kremlin, with putin, and with the russian government. so i'm -- i'm a little bit sad about it, but it's going to unfold. it's going to be revealed. >> congresswoman, the dnc, i believe, has called for kushner's security clearance to be revoked, and i've seen similar calls from some of your colleagues. i talked to someone last night, he said, look, this is a professional decision.
it shouldn't be the subject of political interference. this is for professionals to review. what do you think about it? >> well, first of all, we shouldn't have to call for it. it should darn near be automatic that his clearance is revoked. there's no way that we could know at this point -- and i believe "the washington post" would not have revealed this unless they absolutely had done everything that they needed to do to vet all of this information. and so his security clearance should be automatically revoked. we shouldn't have to fight for it. we shouldn't have to demand it. it should be just done. >> you talked about the president. we have not heard from the president directly in quite some time. he was on a trip. he did not have any press conferences. it's been quite a while since he has sort of faced questions, particularly in the wake of all these revelations. do you think it's important the president himself speak to this? >> yeah, of course i do. of course we can't believe anything that he has to say. you know, he has consistently lied just about everything. but, yes, i would want the
president to come forward and say something because he has to know by now that this is close to him, that you cannot be his son-in-law and be his top adviser and not know what he was doing. and so i'd like to know what he would say about this and see if he would at least attempt to tell the truth. i don't think so because if he does, that would cause him to be leading right into impeachment, i believe. >> congresswoman, thank you for your time as wls. >> you're certainly welcome. >> much more to come after this quick break.
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response until his victory speech, at which point he apologized. he did not apologize before his victory, which is honestly what integrity would have demanded, but after it was safe to. >> 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. [ cheers and applause ] i should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that, i'm sorry, mr. ben jacobs. >> note what was missing there. there's no indication whatsoever he reached out personally to ben jacobs to actually apologize. no apology for defaming him with a statement from his campaign that read, in part, and i quote here, jacobs grabbed greg's
wrist and spun away from greg, pushing them both to the ground. both ben jacobs and another reporter who witnessed the assault, of course, categorically denied that happened and said the only aggressor was soon to be congressman gianforte, an assertion backed up by the aud yoeaudio of the assault. quote, it's unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer barbecue. that statement which we now know was a complete and total lie, a fabrication, that was issued by a person by the name of shane scanlon, gianforte's spokesperson. that's shane right there. we asked shane to come on the show tonight, and we've reached out to the gianforte campaign for comment with no reply. right now shane scanlon, as far as we know, has not apologized for his defamation. he has not apologized to ben
jacobs for maligning him in public and lying about him, and he has not apologized to everyone who published or broadcast the fish tissuous statement that he put his name to. one hopes for his own sake that he did not give that version to the police because if he did, that's a crime. greg gianforte is going to be a member of congress, and if he takes shane scanlon to washington with him, anyone who has business with the office of montana's only congressman should know that if you're dealing with shane scanlon, you're talking to a liar. if he's willing to lie about a violent assault committed in front of witnesses, he will be willing to lie about anything, which means that anything shane scanlon says to reporters, to voters, to anyone else, is completely worthless. mmmm.
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congratulates greg gianforte unprompted for his win. vice president mike pence, who endorse asked campaigned for gianforte, curiously fell silent after gianforte was cited for body slamming a reporter. pence's press secretary, "we aren't going to comment." pence however tweeted today, congrats on great win and gracious speech, looking forward to having you help donald trump make america great again. liam donovan, cornell belcher, michael, let me start with you. you're a veteran reporter, covered politicians. you ever seen anything like that? >> no. but things soar crazy now. my first thought was it probably helped him. i mean, that's the thing. you hear kelly -- trump gets a sword, kelly says you could use it on the media. you hear lindsey graham in congress talk about to the photographers back in your
cages. i mean -- >> you had greg abbott today, governor texas, joke about using a gun on reporters as well. >> enemies of the people. we're supposed to be enemies of the american people. that's what they're saying. ben jacobs, i don't know if you've met him, he's the nicest guy. nobody stopped to think about, what is he asking this guy about? health care. >> about a budget projection. >> yes. think about it. that's what got him nuts. i think that maybe the problem with the health care thing is that a fact arose. that millions of people are going to get thrown off health care. that makes a guy really uncomfortable. >> liam, it felt to me we crossed the rubicon with gianforte. a lot of people made a lot of excuses for donald trump. donald trump always seemed to sui generis figure, that he was unique, that people would forget
anything for donald trump. >> that's right. >> here's gianforte, who cares about this guy except for the fact he's running for congress, and people were able to marshal the same muscles that they've exercised in excusing donald trump to excuse this guy. >> it is pretty remarkable. i think part of it was the fact that this is less than 24 hours out from the polls closing. and i think that partisan motivated reasoning is a pretty strong thing. it's a little bit spooky. as gianforte apologizes, if you talk to the people on my twitter mentions, i think they would say he's got nothing to apologize for. >> that was the other weird thing. because the line had been, everyone saw that the statement was transparently fabricated. that wasn't what people said. what they said instead was that he -- you know, he had it coming. you know, there was some excuse for the violence. cornell, to michael's point, my sense is that actually the performance in the early vote, which is about 75% of votes, and
the same-day voting election day, wasn't actually that different. >> one of the things i think we've got to be careful about is reading too much into special elections. that said, i'm going to read a lot into the special election. what i think you see consistently is happening across the board here, this is a really red place, and but what you see consistently happening in these elections that have happened since trump is that the republican margins are shrinking. you're taking these 20-point districts and making them into a 7-point district. which i think ultimately means more districts are in play. because democrats can spread resources and put more into play. the fact that republicans had to spent so much money in montana, a place where trump won by 20 points, to get a 6-point video, i think bodes well for democrats. but to this point i think we're seeing little by little the romanticism about the american voter being eroded away.
because they are accepting this kind of behavior. and they're rewarding this kind of behavior. >> yeah, michael? >> it's just decency. it's the thing you teach your kids. if you go to the playground where donald trump used to run around in queens, keep your hands to yourself, don't insult people -- there's a whole list of rules. >> in the playground? >> yeah, for 4-year-olds. and here we got people running for office, but it's really -- i do think he's right about -- to look at this election, the republicans didn't do quite as well as you might think. but the democrats didn't have much of a candidate. a folk singer. i guess they were figuring, trumpians will like a folk singer in a cowboy hat. >> here's what i would say, he was authentic to the state. he's not a carpet bagger, he's a real montanian. but he has no political experience. >> he hadn't paid hi bills, he's like me. fy ran for office --
>> i'd vote for you for mayor. >> but not in montana and not against the guy who made millions in his basement. >> let me ask you this. i want to pivot to this. it seems weird not to bring this into the conversation about the news tonight. for you, liam and cornell, both acute observers of political trends. i mean, my sense, liam, there's two things happening here. one is republicans are not going to distance themselves from the president regardless of whatever the latest russia revelation is. because they've made a political calculation that, as ben franklin said, we must hang together. surely we'll hang separately. do you think that's accurate, that's right? >> something like that. i think the presence of this special counsel now sort of gave them a little bit of breathing room, a little bit of out, something of a catch-all answer when asked about this sort of thing. we'll see if that prevails through this newest revelation. but i think that will be their catch-all answer. the way i look at this is, if you see republicans start to back away from the president, and i wrote a piece about this in "politico." >> it was very good. >> i think it's a function of
them cutting bait on the legislative agenda. while the legislative dream is still alive, they feel they're in the red zone, they're not going to pass up that opportunity. >> that point about the red zone is clear. is key. because basically i think the thinking is as you spell out in that, you get unified government once every 25 years, maybe. that's
your shot to pass your stuff. and so whatever donald trump does and whatever is revealed about him -- >> yeah, i think, also when the next time they're going to get a shot at medicaid? there's not many times you get a chance to leave disabled people on the street, so let's get at it, let's not worry about donald here. >> cornell, there's been a really interesting -- some interesting data about how much people are paying attention to russia as opposed to the domestic legislative agenda liam mentioned and michael mention the. my sense is that the russia stuff is really hurting the president's approval ratings, but in special election districts when the president himself is not on the ballot, things like the ahca are more
sale i don't want. what do you think of that? >> i do think domestic stuff is more salient. however, you don't want to go into a midterm with a president who has really horrendous approval ratings. you can see the midterm elections and what happens when the president's numbers are down. the problem for democrats is, his numbers aren't going to get any -- his numbers are already at historic lows. this idea that just a bad sort of unpopular disapproval number of trump can help us win? i think that is a blind spot of democrats. >> huh, interesting. >> we have to also be about something, right? i think some of our economic populism that we're hanging so much our hat on, i think, you know, it had some traction in montana but i don't think we're going to win these red districts that we need simply about sort of railing about the elites and economic populism. we've got to be more as operational, we've got to have something to say about our value to red district voters. >> that's a really smart guy.
>> i say it every time cornell belcher is on. >> a really smart guy. >> michael daly, who has my vote if he runs formy yore, liam donovan, cornell belcher, thank you for joining us. that is "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts with ari with rachel. >> as you know from last night rachel is a bit under the weather so we're giving her the night off. we begin with brand-new blockbuster breaking news from the washington post. first a report on the bipartisan expansion of the scope of one of the inquiries into possible trump campaign collusion with the russian attack on our presidential election. the senate intel committee has asked trump's political campaign to gather and produce all documents, e-mails and phone records going all the way back to when the campaign began in june 2015. we want to note for you, this is a bipartisan request from the republican chair and the democrat ranking member of the commite.