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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  August 3, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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and he knows it and he made that decision to do so. >> thank you both. that is all in for this evening. the rachel maddow show starts right now. >> thank you so much. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. rachel has the night off. "the wall street journal" reporting that special counsel robert mueller has in the past few weeks convened a grand jury in washington, d.c. to nervous gait russian interference in the 2016 election and whether there was coordination between the trump campaign and russia. the journal's reporting has been followed up by the washington post. tonight's news does not mean that indictments are eminent or that they would necessarily happen. but it does mark the next formal step in special counsel mueller's nflinvestigation. a grand jury with also subpoena
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documents and force witnesses to testify. in the and federal prosecutor needs a grand jury to sign off on any indictment if criminal charges are going to be brought. in that sense today's news is the latest step in a long process that started over a year ago when the fbi launched an investigation into the trump's campaign's contacts with russia. whielt was widely suspected that the fbi was investigating those ties, the existence of the investigation only became official in march when fbi director james comey sent shock waves across the country by confirming during a live hearing on capitol hill what everyone until then had only supported. the trump campaign was a subject of an open active counter intelligence investigation by the fbi and had been since the summer before the election. >> i have been authorized by the department of justice to confirm that the fbi, as part f our
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counter intelligence mission, is investigating the russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the trump campaign and the russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and russia's efforts. as with any counter intelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed. >> that was james comey testifying in march revealing that the information had begun months before, in july of 2016. comey was due to testify again on may 11th in open session but two days before that hearing the bombshell news landed late on the night of may 9th that donald trump had fired james comey from his job as fbi director. two days later in his first public comments the president sapt down with leather holt that
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turned out to be consequential since during that interview he spoke candidly about why he fired comey, because he was thinking about russia. >> there was no good time to do it. and in fact when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russian thing with trump and russia is a madeup story. >> that was the reason that donald trump gave voluntarily on tv. later that night and in the follow days, at first a private dinner at the white house back in january at a private dinner at the white house back in january the president had asked comey to pledge his loyalty to him. and then during a meeting in the oval office, after dismissing everyone else from the room, including the attorney general, trump pressured comey to drop the investigation into fire national security adviser michael flynn, reportedly saying i hope you can let this go.
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we have these two stories, the president firing comey and the former nib director saying that the president pushed him to back off the investigation into michael flynn. those competing stories prompted a crucial development in this story. the day after the report about the oval office meeting, things began moving at the justice department. attorney general jeff sessions had recused himself from the investigation months before because he had been part of the trump campaign. that left deputy attorney general rod rosenstein in charge. after the president said he was thinking of russia when he fired comey, deputy ag rosenstein made the decision to appoint a special counsel, not just any special counsel but comey's predecessor at the fbi. robert mueller was taking over the investigation. since then special counsel mueller has been methodically going about business, hiring a team of experienced lawyers, 16
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and counting with extensive knowledge of corruption and criminal fraud cases. occasionally details have spilled out into the open. in june we learned that the special counsel has essentially swallowed up ongoing federal investigations into the activities of trump campaign chair paul manafort and of michael flynn. nbc news and other outlets reported that subpoenas were issued to business associates of both manafort and flynn by a federal grand jury in the eastern district of virginia. which made sense. the eastern district of virginia sits right outside washington, d.c. it handles lots of national security cases and prosecutions with an intelligence component to them. bhiel the grand jury details have been scarce, it seems that the federal investigation was being run out of the eastern district of virginia that is until today, when it was reported that the special counsel has been using a
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separate grand jury in washington, d.c. here's an interesting idea. the washington post reporting quote experts say that washington would be the appropriate place to convene a grand jury to examine actions taken by trump since he became president and took up residence at the white house. many of the potential crimes mueller's teams are investigating would have occurred in the district, such as allegations that trump aides or advisers made false statements in disclosure records or lied to federal agents. tonight lawyers if are the president have been united in their response. three members have responded to the news with versions of the same statement saying quote, we have no reason to believe that president trump is under investigation. joining us now is one of the reporters that broke this story, dell weber and he covers the white house for "the wall street journal." congratulations on your scoop and thanks for being here. let's go through a few of the things that you brought out in this piece. the first one is the idea that the fact of this separate grand
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jury in d.c. means that mueller's team has dug in for the long haul, if you could explain. >> yeah, they had already been, as you said, using a grand jury out of the eastern district of virginia that was investigating -- at least we're able too determine is michael flynn. by switching to one in d.c. what you're saying is if we were going to keep investigating flynn and only flynn aspects in this case, we would keep using the grand jury. we wouldn't juan to reinvent the wheel. by switching and starting his own grand jury in washington, d.c., just a stone's throw from his own office, he's saying this is going to be a broader probe, this is very sirius and i'm expected to keep doing this for a while. >> and you've talked about some of the people that we've brought in as evidence that this is a very serious probe that could be long term. one of them is a top partner at a big law firm. explain why he's important. >> if you're a top partner in in a major new york law firm and
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you're making good money, you're not going to leave your good solid job at a major law firm to join an investigation that's not going to last very long or very serious. you're going to leave it for something that will end somewhere or come place that's going to be -- a big challenge that's going to take a long time and a lot of time. you wouldn't leave a big law firm willy-nilly as one of the former federal prosecutors i interviewed said. >> this is sensitive information. do you get a sense of why information like this is coming out at this time? >> i think people, in general, if you keep digging you're eventually going to get information. there's been a lot of reporting on sensitive subjects lately about stuff in washington. grand juries are secret for the prosecutors and the agents who work there. but they're not secret if you're a witness and you go before a grand jury, you can tell the world what you said in there, or
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if you g a subpoena you can tell the world what you said in there. when you know they're moving to a grand jury probe, it's no longer a counter intelligence investigation which is highly classified, very secretive. grand jury stuff is secretive but it's open to the public. you have a bunch of grand jurors in there but you vetted them but not super extensively. and you have to report back to them on what you've found if you want to seek charges at some time. this is very early in the p proce process. he's only been doing this for two months. >> we also know that there are now some attempts to teprotect this investigation from donald trump who are no pleased with the developments. >> there are some measures put forth in congress to isolate robert mueller so he can't be fired. some members of each party is concerned that president trump wasn't happy with sessions last week and he's indicated that he
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doesn't like the russian investigation. there are talks that he could take steps to end it. people have to keep in mind when these things are being investigated like this, no one knows how they're going to turn out and people who prognosticate a potential endings to these things are often wrong. >> yeah. >> and a lot of stuff never turns into indictments and charges and we need to be measured and thoughtful. it's a significant move. it shows that having your own grand jury in washington highlights that hey, this is broader than what i thought it was before >> sure. >> and they're going to be issuing subpoenas and perhaps taking testimony. >> thank you for your time tonight. great scoop. >> thanks for having me. if you ever had grand jury duty, and i have, you know that a grand jury is no garden variety jury. consider it a legal heat seeking missile, a blunt instrument to
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track down documents and witnesses. but it's not so simple to break a date with the grand jury. and joining us now is john butler a law professor at georgetown, university. thanks for coming back. great to have you. let's start with the first piece. what is the significance of having this jury in d.c. as opposed to just using the grand jury that was already impanelled in the eastern district of virginia? >> so this is an important development but not unexpected one. grand juries have the power to make reluctant witnesses testify under oath and penalty of perjury and they can subpoena records like e-mails and banks records. but a grand jury in virginia can do that just as well a grand jury in the district of columbia. prosecutors often think ahead to what if. what if there's going to be a trial. what if we bring charges. where would the most prosecution
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jurors be. and in the district of columbia and northern virginia, special counsel mueller might well have made the decision that the district of columbia would have jurors that were more likely to convict if -- thebetter jurors d.c. >> does it indicate what kinds of potential crimes they might be investigating? does it now point you toward the scope of things that might have been done in washington filling out the forms to get your security clearance in washington, foreign agents in washington. is that indicated using a d.c. jury versus a virginia jury. >> the white house is in the district of columbia. the fbi is in the district of columbia. potentially there could be fbi witnesses. one of the concerns about conversations between former fbi director comey and president trump, it's always head said he said. if they could bring in other fbi
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agents to corroborate some of the damning information that we've heard from james comey, that would bolster the prosecutor's case. >> i'm going to bring this up again. you have a grand jury that's in d.c. could this grand jury -- and grand juries can ask just from serving on one, they can ask to see witnesses that they would like to talk to. could this grand jury wind up calling donald trump? >> they certainly could. the president, if he's a target of the grand jury, would have the opportunity to exercise his fifth amendment right not to counsel. you know, grand jurors have to be secret in terms of what the grand jurors and the prosecutors say. but i bet this leak is not something that special counsel mueller especially minds because this racketing up of the investigation i think makes it more difficult for president trump to get rid of special counsel mueller because that would be more evidence that he's trying to impede the
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investigation. >> take us through what a grand jury is like. when people go in to testify, do they get to have a lawyer? >> as a prosecutor, i love grngs. you're a legal adviser. imagine the clam with 23 seats, that's how many grand juries there are in the federal system. as the legal adviser you instruct them about the law and you help them decide which witnesses. you have a lot of control. the defense attorney is not allowed in the room. she can wait outside and ask her client what happened. but inside the grand jury it's the prosecutor who runs the show. >> that's why they had the saying about indictments and ham sandwiches, right? paul butler, thank you for being here. >> always a pleasure. >> while we were sorting through the 36 gigantic headlines tonight we had important news on a key figure in the trump-russia investigation and that story is next. nick was born to move.
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some new information tonight about one of the main characters in the trump-russia story. michael flynn, the former national security adviser forced out of the white house after just 24 days in office, the associated press reports tonight that flynn is amending a public filing to include income that he never mentioned during his brief time in the trump administration. back in march flynn listed more than $1 million in earnings. the a.p. reported his new filing adds $28,000 in income from the trump transition team. $5,000 for work he did on nuclear power plants in the middle east, and $140,000 for consulting work for an i rannian
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american multimillionaire. it shows that he had planned to do some work for the parent company of cam bridge an lit ka. that provided data analysis and targeted communication frs the trump campaign and for the brexit campaign. the a.p. reports that trump terminated that deal after donald trump won the presidency. flynn has been out of his government job for six months but still dotting his i's and crossing his t's. he's part of four congressional investigations, investigations. members of the committee met with special counselor robert mueller earlier this summer to make sure that their investigations did not get in each other oes w's way. joining me now is eric swalwell. thanks for coming by tonight.
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>> of course. >> let's talk about the noninterference sort of situation. now that you know that there is a grand jury, a grand jury that bob mueller has impanelled or has convened in washington, d.c., how does that impact the house intelligence committee investigation? >> sure. we both have important roles to play. ours is not a criminal probe. we want to tell the american people how the interference campaign happened, what vulnerabilities happened, what u.s. persons were involved and how we could ever find ourselves in a mess like this again. we're not indicting people, not bringing criminal charges. we're going to tell the american people essentially what happened. now bob mueller's probe is one that is looking at whether crimes were carried out. we don't want to get in the way. we want to show progress as well. but you always want to limit how many times a witness has to recount a story unnecessarily. you could create inadvertent inconsistencies and you want to make sure that you're not committing those redundancies.
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but we have a responsibility on our committee to tell the american people what happened and i'm confident that mike conway and adam schiff have been doing that. >> noninterference includes -- let's just say one of the witnesses that you wanted to call were to say to your committee, if i went and told that story, i'm worried about what would happen to this grand jury. i would like immunity please, or the kind of immunity that your committee could grant. does this mean that the committee would be more reluctant to grant that immunity. >> there's always a reluctance to grant the immunity. i think, you know, that reluctance exists just generally. but at this point, that's not something that we have considered. i also just, you know add to what you said earlier about michael flynn and also jared kushner and paul manafort. the number of amendments that we have seen from these guys is
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remarkable. more amendments a than the bill of rights that they keep putting forward which shows us that only once light has been shined on what's been going do they acknowledge the relationships that they had and that's very telling. >> i'm going to have you put your prosecutor hat on for a moment. if somebody were to continually revise information that could come before you as a prosecutor, would that make you suspicious of their underlying behavior? >> absolutely. jurors were told, if this were to make its way to trial, a juror is told if a witness deliberately makes a false statement you can use that as evidence as a consciousness of guilt. if people with aare saying one and then going back and revising their story to cover up the original story or investigation, you can use that against them as a fact that they knew they were guilty of something. it's too early to tell if that is what is going on here. but i am very very concerned about the number of times that we see individuals in this
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investigation change their story. >> as a member of congress, are you concerned about bob mueller being able to complete his job without the president trying to fire him? >> the president certainly seems to be trying to intimidate him by setting red lines and trying to undermine his credibility by going after other lawyers who are on his team. that is a concern. we're putting guardrails in place. you're seeing that members of the senate are essentially saying to the president you can go ahead and fire bob mueller but we'll make sure that he is still in some fashion on this case and i think that's because there's a fear that the president, if he could, would clear the field. >> do you see paul ryan bringing a similar bill to the floor in the house? >> i hope so. i really like paul ryan. i think he's a good man. i am concerned that he and others have just looked the other way when it's come to the president's conduct, particularly are russia. that's not good for our democracy. i hope that he understands that this is bigger than his party,
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one person that it's really our democracy and the future of our elections that are at stake. >> congressman eric swalwell, thanks so much for you time. >> my pleasure. so what would happen to the grand jury convened for the russia investigation if robert mueller was fired and what could could be done to keep mueller's job secure. a surprising bipartisan answer to that question is just ahead. we'll be right back. ♪ ♪ use the chase mobile app to send money in just a tap, to friends at more banks then ever before. you got next? chase. helping you master what's now and what's next.
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ageless. there are 16 of them, you
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could put them all on a football field and still have five to spare. special counsel robert mueller has hired 16 lawyer to help him slog through the trump-russia investigation. he hired lawyer number 16 just this week, a guy named greg andras. he used to be the deputy assistant attorney general at the justice department's criminal division. he specialized in fraud and foreign bribery. and now he's putting that expertise back to use flexing his fraud and foreign bribery muscles for the special counsel working on the trump-russia investigation. the lineup of attorneys working for mueller is like a faintly league of surt draft of all star attorneys. experts in white collar crime want organized crime, money laundering, cybersecurity kb he's got a skilled witness flipper, a fluent russian speaker, even a freaking watergate prosecutor working on this thing.
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the dream team of criminal investigations. we've long known that the president of the united states is not happy about this investigation into his campaign and his administration. he told the "the new york times" that if robert mueller started looking into his personal finances that that would be a red line, calling it a violation of what the special koub sell is allowed to poke his nose into. we know that robert mueller has crashed through that red line. his probe expanded to start following the complicated trail of trump's business transactions and finances. and then there's today's bombshell news from "the wall street journal" that the trump-russia investigation now has its very other grand jury. a sign that the investigation is not slowing down anytime soon. if the president want today fire robert mueller, throw some cold water on the witness flipper and the water gaet prosecutor and the grand jury and all of the rest of it, he does have a few options to push mueller out of the way. this which is why there's a bipartisan push in congress right now to take the options off of the table. there's a quartet of senators
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cooking up two bills that would block trump from firing the special counsel. to safeguard him from the president so he can see this thing through to the end. the question is will it work. joining us now, democrat senator chris koontz and tom tillis who introduced the bipartisan special counsel integrity act. one of the interesting things when i read one of the stories about this today is tom tillis approached you with this idea. can you tell us a little more about that? >> that's right. senator tillis and i serve on the judiciary committee together. and he came up to me on the floor and asked if i would be interested in moving on a bill quickly to provide back end protections for the special counsel. if the president tries to fire special counsel robert mule are of the senators that graham and
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booker have introduced would provide some speed bump, a three-judge panel that would have to review that to see if it's appropriate. the bill that i've introduced with senator tom tillis would allow the special counsel to go to court and sue to be reinstated and a similar three-judge panel would review whether or not he had been inappropriately removed. each approach takes a different side. pre-firing or post-firing so so that if any one of the bills moves forward we've got greater protections for bob mueller and for this important special counsel investigation. >> however good these bills are and how many protections they provide, they still have to get to the floor and so far mitch mcconnell who's run the senate has done it in a particular way. only wanting to do things for republican and shown no interest of wanting to do anything on a bipartisan line and he's a staunch supporter of donald trump. do you expect either of these two bills to get to the floor? >> well, joy, we just had an
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interesting moment in the senate where despite opposition from the white house, from the president, a strong bipartisan vote on a russia sanctions bill, on a bill that came to the floor under mitch mcconnell's leadership produced a bill that the president ultimately was compelled to sign by the veto proof majorities by which it passed the house and the senate. while there may not be great enthusiasm about the bill, my hunch is that as conversations happen over the break with republican and democratic senators that support for it will quickly build and we may see this bill on the floor in the fall. >> do you think this bill could pass with a veto prof majority in one would assume that trump would veto it. >> i'm optimistic that would happen. we've seen a number of calls today to my office and senator tillis's office for folks interested in cosponsorship and i had a good conversation on the foord with nart booker and
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senator graham. this is the first time i can remember senator tillis in particular stepping forward and taking on a tough stance against the president and i think this is just one more sign that we're seeing an increasing number of republicans eager to find ways that we can strengthen the separation of powers and strengthen the senate's hand in this difficult situation where there's a special investigation that we need to protect. >> let's say that neither of these two bipartisan bills was to wind up becoming lawyer for one reason or another. if donald trump found a way, let's say he fired rod rosenstein and got down to somebody in the department of justice who would mire bob mueller for him, is there an opportunity to see the rern of the independent counsel? >> we might. we come back into session every three days while we're out on so-called recess for the month of august. and we might see bipartisan action to reintroduce and repass
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the independent counsel statute. i frankly think the most likely action is that we would insist on the reinstatement of bob mueller. he enjoys broad support in the senate among republicans and democrats because of his long service as the fbi director, because of his record of respectable leadership as a senior federal prosecutor. and i do think the news of today that he's impanelled a grand jury in washington will make the president really take some pause here. as you've reported earlier, a federal grand jury in the hands of a skilled senior prosecutor like robert mueller is a very dangerous tool indeed against the president. >> and if you could send the president a message tonight, because i'm sure he's not amused by the news he's hearing, what would be the message that you would send him from the united states senate or at least in the democrats in the senate? >> it's in the president's interest, in the country's interest to let this investigation go guard. the president should have nothing to worry from a thorough federal investigation if he's
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got nothing to hide. if he takes an abrupt action now and either fires the attorney general or directs the firing of bob mueller, there will be a strong bipartisan reaction from the senate. and i think the consequences for him will be even more gave if he does that. >> senator, really appreciate your time. thank you. >> thank you. well today we got to see something that the white house did not mean to be public. that story is next. when this bell rings... starts a chain reaction... ...that's heard throughout the connected business world.
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before the news broke today
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that fbi special counsel robert mueller is now using a grand jury in washington, d.c. as part of his russia investigation, the other big story of the day had to do with another leak, a really big one. the washington post today published white house transcripts of two phone calls that took place back in january. one between president donald trump and president enrique pena and the other with mall calm turn bull of australia. the white house has note takers who monitor these phone calls. so the fact that these transcripts exist is not surprisi surprising. but this is the behind the curtain thing that we never get to see, we're never allowed to see. these are classified documents typically only seen by white house staff and senior administrators. but someone leaked them to the washington post who published them in their entirety this morning. we knew that trump and discussed
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the wall. what we did not know is that donald trump explained he was getting a lot of political pressure to ensure that mexico would pay for the wall just like he promised on the campaign trail with the rallies. so he tried to get the president of mexico to avoid talking publicly about who would pay for the wall and just to say the countries are working it out. quote i'm willing to say we're working it out and it will come out in a wash. in the course of this conversation trump removed to new hampshire as a drug infested den. then there's the call with turn bu bull. senior officials told the washington post that trump complained that this was the worst call so far and that he
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abruptly ended the call over a disagreement. the u.s. would take in over 1,000 refugees from an australian refugee center. but now with a transcript we got to hear how angry president trump was. this is going to kill me. i'm the world's greatest person that does not want to let people into the country and now i'm going to take 2,000 people. and i agree i can vet them but it puts me in a bad position. prime minister turnbull with great respect, that is not right. it is not 2002. president trump well it is close. i've heard 5,000 as well. prime minister turnbull, the given number is 1250 and it's entirely a matter of your vetting. no kidding. this is the phone call with our ally, our ally. that this is how it went. trump told the prime minister of australia, quote, as far as i'm concerned that is not enough. malcolm, i've had it. i've been making these calls
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aday and this is the most pleasant call all day. putin was a pleasant call. this is ridiculous. on the one hand this is big news about a side of government that you don't get to see. as journalists this is the leaked information that better explains how our president operates. on the other hand this is another huge leak coming from the white house and it comes right after john kelly was brought in to help. white house get its act together. and so the question now, what happens? how is this administration handling these leaks, which many argue are destabilizing the executive branch. can they get the leaks to stop and how will the leaks reaction to huge developments like tonight that robert mueller convened a d.c. grand jury. joining us now, politics editor for the daily beast. let's talk about the white house reaction to the first set of leaks, this being one earlier today about the phone calls that
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the president placed to mexico and australia. how are they reacting to that? >> senior officials in the white house right now and certainly the president himself are, as you can probably guess, not pleased. along with russia and -- along with trump-russia related news, there is nothing that the president hates seeing more on fox news, reading in newspapers, seeing online than news that highly sensitive material has leaked out of his white house or his administration. >> right. >> it is an animating force in his and his senior staff's vendetta against the quote unquote deep state, the leakers in his administration. the traitors, the democrats, the fake news media, what have you. >> but i mean, initially when anthony scaramucci was brought in for what, ten days, this idea that he was going to clean out the leakers and clean out and
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push out reince priebus. and then you had the idea that general kelly was going to come in and clamp down and impose order and discipline. we haven't seen the leaks subside at all. what is the sense inside the administration if none of those ideas are working? >> well, as disciplined and masterful a leader as john kelly may or may not be as trump's new chief of staff, the more chaotic and messy an administration is, the more accelerated the leaking is. that's just truth ever republican and democrat in the administration. and that starts from the top on down. and when you have a president such as donald trump who is impulsive, if we're to put it lightly, top administration officials and people in the know are not going to stop talking to reporters were the angrier and they are or the more chaotic things get. >> i'm wondering where the president's -- at least the way he's communicating about where
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his head is at at the moment regarding bob mueller. it does seem to me that this is the thorn in his side. the russia investigation is what sets him off. is there still chatter inside the administration, inside the white house that donald trump could try to get rid of him? >> well, people work in the west wing who i and my colleague spoke to today are mostly concerned right now with what the president might do, whether that's later tonight, tomorrow morning, over the weekend, sometime in the near future with regards to mueller, not just that oh, could he have another tantrum in which he fantasizes about ordering the sacking of robert mueller, but also could he make an outlandish public statement in an interview with a major newspaper, could he set off like a rapid angry geet storm that not only could be a public relations headache for the people work in donald
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trump's inner circle but could also be legally complicated in court. >> and i'm sure there are two other aspects, one, the need to lawyer up inside of the administration and also the two new generals who seem to be getting a lot of attention very quickly. is donald trump happy with the ink that his new generals in charge, both mcmaster and kelly are getting, particularly the rest of it seeming so unstable. >> something the president is incredibly displeased with right now that has to do with his generals and national security adviser mcmaster is the options for combatting extremists elements particularly in afghanistan that he has been presented so far. as the daily beast, nbc news several other outlets reported over the last few weeks, the president has become increasi increasingly incensed, furious by the afghan war plans that have been put in front of him to the point of, again, using the fired word again, donald trump has floated firing the top
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commander in afghanistan to his national security brass. donald trump is heading to a place where he thinks that not just the united states but he as commander in chief of the united states armed forces is losing in afghanistan. >> right. >> he has privately vented to con ffidants that he thinks the plans that's being presented to him and the current policy being excuse cut exexecuted is making him look weak. and one thing we know about donald trump is he does not like to appear leak. >> politics editor for the daily beast, thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me. from constant leaking to dealing with a special prosecutor the white house has been a chaosic place. the next guest says the chaos is histor historic, next. this is joanne.
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before there was robert mueller or ken starr, there was archibald cox. in may of 1973, cox was named the special prosecutor for watergate. he lasted in that job until october 20th, 1973, when the president, archibald cox was investigating had him fired. they called it the saturday night massacre because in order to get rid of archibald cox, president nixon pushed out first his attorney general and then his deputy attorney general before he got to someone willing to do the deed and fire the special prosecutor. the public reaction to that decision all but buried the
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congressional mail room. >> more than 50,000 tell grams poured in on capitol hill today. most of them demanded impeaching mr. nixon. few congressmen were in town because of the holiday. among those here and impressed by his telegram was democrat morris udall. >> they come from republicans and businessmen and people most of whom begin their statement by saying, i've supported the president. i've never believed in impeachment, but he's now gone too far, and we're going to have to -- we want the congress to take strong action. there's a real wave out there in the country today, ray, on impeachment, and it's got support it never had before. >> telegrams. a year and a half into the watergate scandal, richard nixon discovered the limits of what the public was willing to put up with. americans would not sit still for the president of the united states trying to kill off the investigation into his administration. for voters, that was a bridge too far. well, we're now a year into the investigation of a different president with a special counsel
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and a grand jury in d.c. plus lots of white house staffers lawyering up. there's no way to know yet how all this ends, but we can try to measure this presidential crisis against the ones that came before it. joining us now for some much needed perspective is msnbc political presidential historian, michael beschloss. always great to talk to you, michael. >> same here, joy. thank you. >> i'm giddy about the telegrams. such a great way to communicate. >> we'll explain type writers next time. >> and rotary phones. we'll explain to the kids. so it was interesting to see that the public, which didn't initially catch on to watergate, right? it wasn't that they were always angry at richard nixon but that action sort of spurred public anger. can you see that same thing happening now as polarized as we are now? >> yeah, and i think actually the moment that we're in is worse than october of '73 because nixon, as you've said, was about to fire the special prosecutor who was asking for his secret tapes.
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about half a dozen of his inner circle were a couple months away of getting indicted. plus there was war in the middle east. plus people around nixon were worried that he was drinking too much and not showing up often enough for work although people didn't know that on the outside. compare that to now where we've got, you know, worryingly, an impending crisis in north korea and elsewhere, a white house that has not exactly been known for disciplined staff the last six months, and a president who seems to be very much on the road that nixon was doing almost anything to stop an investigation of his ties to russia and other things. even nixon was not under a counterintelligence investigation for being too close to a foreign power. >> what's interesting is that with nixon and with lbj, we get all this information about them after the fact. >> right. >> but with trump, it's all sort of in the present and in the
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moment. with nixon as blatant and obvious as wanting to get rid of archibald cox as donald trump is about wanting to get rid of bob mueller. >> he let it be known through his lawyers that he was not pleased that the tapes were being asked for and threatened, but not in the open way that donald trump did. and nixon was a constitutional lawyer. he was a very smart man. he was actually too wise to have made an admission of the kind that donald trump made to our lester holt, saying, i fired comey, and the reason was to stop the investigation. >> yeah, it was a bit scooby doo, that admission. always great to talk to you. thanks for your time. >> thank you. be well. >> thank you. you too. we'll be right back.
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point decisively with the arm of your glasses. abracadabra. the stage is yours. step two: choose la quinta. the only hotel where you can redeem loyalty points for a free night-instantly and win at business. every reporter in washington right now is chasing the story tonight about special counsel robert mueller convening a grand jury in washington, d.c. as part of the trump/russia probe. the story was broken by "the wall street journal" and then followed up by "the washington post." now "the new york times" has weighed in citing several lawyers involved in the case, "the new york times" reports that the special counsel has, quote, issued subpoenas from a washington-based grand jury in recent weeks. at least some of subpoenas were for documents related to the business dealings of michael t. flynn, the retired general who briefly served as president trump's national security adviser. the times reporting differs a little bit regarding the grand jury itself. the times says mr. mueller has
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not impaneled a special grand jury. the lawyers involved in the case said and has decided instead to use one of several grand juries that regularly sit in washington. so the reporting about flynn is new, and description of the grand juries is different. who's right? is it possible to even know for sure? rejoining us is former federal prosecutor paul butler. what does it matter if this is a special grand jury or an existing one that robert mueller is use something. >> it does not matter at all. federal grand juries sit for 18 months. typically they hear many cases. so mueller has a choice of starting from scratch with a new grand jury or going with one that was already hearing cases. it may be that he had witnesses whose testimony he wanted to lock in immediately or documents that he wanted immediate access to. this is still a significant escalation of the investigation. >> and would that grand jury be able to hear other cases not related to this? >> of course. that's typically what they do.
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grand jurors in 18 months, they literally hear hundreds of cases. >> paul butler, thank you very much. we appreciate you coming back. >> great to be back, joy. >> thank you. that does it for us tonight. it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. >> good evening, rachel -- rachel? wow. there's the slip. >> that is actually an honor. >> you can see what a robot we're dealing with here at 10:00 p.m. joy reid, ladies and gentlemen, as you well know, been here all week. joy, grand jury night, this is one of the really big landmarks here. >> yes. >> when we're looking back over this and we're looking over the timeline, the day the grand jury story breaks is going to be one of those big, big moments in the history of this. >> i concur, and i know it's right up your alley. so i can't wait to see what you have to say about it tonight. >> thank you, joy. >> have a good one. special prosecutor robert mueller apparently believes that a crime or crimes may have been committed by donald trump or