tv Deadline White House MSNBC December 8, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
we're going to get to the latest developments in the russia investigation, but first, against the drum beat of revelations about donald trump's campaign and its contacts with russia and special counsel bob mueller claiming three former campaign aides and the president's first national security adviser. news today of a high level departure from the white house staff is both unsurprising and certain to not be the first. deputy national security adviser dina powell, one of the key figures deal with the north korean threat, announced today she'd leave the white house early next year. i spoke to powell earlier today who said she leaves on great terms with the president and she'll continue to advise the white house on middle east policy. during the staff shake-up over the summer, powell was rumored to have been a candidate for the chief of staff position. national security adviser h.r. mcmaster called her one of the most talented and effective leaders with whom i've ever served. also what we're learning
about the breadth and scope of bob mueller's investigation into paul manafort. and what it might tell us about mueller's team's interest in financial records. what kind of financial records? e-mails. bank and tax records and documents from vendors. why it matters, it may offer a clue about the level of scrutiny that could be paid to donald trump's businesses. also today, low-level george's fiance speaks out making clear that despite the president's designation of him as low-level george papadopoulos, he acted with the explicit approval of his campaign bosses. >> so you're saying he had communications with top levels of the campaign? >> yes. >> everything he was doing was with the knowledge of those officials? >> as far as i know, yes. never took any initiative. >> would the president, from what you know, would the president be happy with the story george tells?
>> i don't -- i mean, i think it's right to dismiss george as a coffee boy so i'm sure not to be happy to read that there are consistent evidence that he was not a coffee boy. >> he sure wasn't. let's get to all of this with our guests and reporters. from washington, nbc news intel and national security reporter ken dilanian. from "the washington post," white house bureau chief phil rucker and john heilemann and the rev al sharpton, host of politics nation here on msnbc and the president of the national action network. heilemann is already at it. evan mcmullan, former cia operative, policy director for the house of representative and most recently an independent presidential candidate. and tara setemayer. john heilemann, let me start with you because calling someone
a low-level george fulfilled donald trump's need in the news psychele to dismiss him, to denigrate him and insult him but it didn't fill a long-term desire to keep his story quiet. >> right. and, you know, look. he's the first person to have pleaded guilty in this circumstance. he's been cooperating with mueller's investigation for a period of time. he's not going to go away. i don't think actually that it's untrue that he was, relatively speaking, compared to a lot of people on the trump campaign, not one of the senior most policy or public advisers. i think that's a fact. but what we're learning now is -- >> but that's not the spirit -- the spirit of low-level george wasn't he was low on the org chart. it was, he doesn't know anything. whorge >> who knows what the spirit of donald trump is. he denigrates lots of people. trump was trying to put him down. if you think about the people who were in a position to know the most about donald trump and his connections to russia or
anything else, this man was not necessarily that person. however, my point was just to say that you can be low-level george, you can be low on the org chart and still be the guy who goes to moscow and was sending plenty of e-mails to people who were high level. high level, there's now it seems like there may be a fair number of people, including high level steve, mr. bannon, who is for the first time, this is the first moment in which high-level steve is being dragged into this investigation. first time we've heard his name in a material way and that story may be developing. >> let me jump in on this. the point is that when you want to do something sensitive like this, it's something akin to an intelligence operation which was what this was on the russian side and i would argue in ways even on the trump side. you do send a low-level guy. you don't send the senior guy. you send the low level guy because he attracts less attention. you do that with purpose.
so i'm very much validating john's point but that's the way these things work. >> phil rucker, any acknowledgment on the part of the white house that their desire for short-term gain by insulting him. i remember corey lewandowski making the rounds calling him a coffee boy. it turns out george papadopoulos may have been one of the figures who forced jeff sessions to go back and amend his testimony for a second time. we don't know what he's testified to but it's been described to me that whatever bob mueller wants to know about anything, george papadopoulos having pleaded guilty will cooperate through the duration of the mueller investigation because he gets his reward at the end of it. >> and what we know about this white house is they did not an tis putt george papadopoulos would figure in this mueller investigation at all. his plea a couple of weeks ago and the news he was going to be talking to mueller came as a big
surprise at the white house. they don't know what his story is exactly. he may have been a low-level aide and someone who did important communications and meetings at that point in the campaign. there are a lot of unknowns in the white house and one of the reasons this mueller probe and papadopoulos piece of it has so many people worried. they just don't know what's there. >> ken dilanian, let me bring you into the conversation on papadopoulos' fiance, speaking out this morning on "good morning america," talking about her fiance's book. the sort of body of information that mueller now possesses from the witnesses that have pleaded guilty. mike flynn and george papadopoulos. and tie that to me -- to revelations about just sort of the depth and the scope of what we're learning the fbi seized in, i think it was 15 different search warrants executed for paul manafort who was indicted on 12 counts.
can you just go through why the news today, what we learned today about sort of the granularity with which they scrutinized paul manafort's financial records y that may be an ominous sign for donald trump? >> sure. as phil and others were just saying, the interview that papadopoulos' fiance gave was remarkable because she is claiming that he was in touch with not only steve bannon but mike flynn and that every move he made was coordinated by the campaign. and that's a really disquieting thing if you're donald trump or the trump campaign because this guy is completely cooperating. what he did as a proactive cooperator. was he on phone calls on behalf of the fbi. did he wear a wire? we still don't know the answers to those questions. and the other point you were making, we have a new filing in the case today that shows the volume of evidence that was seized and obtained by the mueller team. it's 400,000 documents, e-mails,
bank records. banking records from overseas like in places like cyprus and grenadine. this underscores just how thorough and voluminous this investigation is, and i've been talking to lawyers who have had clients before the grand jury and they say these are the best fbi agents they've ever encountered. and they are stunned at the level of national intelligence assets that have been brought to bear in some cases, whether clients are overseas. the information that the mueller team has about every movement their client has made. so this is -- we're talking about how the trump team portrayed papadopoulos. it doesn't matter what the trump team says anymore about this investigation. this is a fearsome law enforcement force that's unfolding right now, mostly behind the scenes. we're getting glimpses of it and it poses an existential threat to the trump presidency. >> you -- i'm going to go off script which may make my control
room groan but you raise a really good point. people that look at the products that we have seen, the things that are now public face, these manafort documents came out. when i first saw you on tv today, i says this is over. he's been indicted. but your point that it speaks to the professionalism of bob mueller and his team. is, to me, at the heart of sort of the malignancy that is the far right's attacks on bob mueller. there's been a conversation going on. i know bob mueller personally. i'm sure he's impervious to anything anyone says on cable news on the right or the left. but i wonder if you could speak to how perilous it may be to so malign people who are admired not from a partisan vantage point but just for the precision, the expertise and the
results of their investigations and prosecutions. >> well, i think it's cancerous to the body politic because here you have a -- bob mueller, registered republican, decorated vietnam combat veteran. he's got people on his staff, yes, some of whom gave money to hillary clinton. others are republicans. and there's clearly a concerted effort to discredit these people. and we saw that in the house judiciary committee hearing where the director of the fbi had to go up and say the fbi was a good institution filled with patriots, and he was attacked all day long by different members of congress who were talking about perceived bias they see in this mueller investigation which many other independent thinkers do not see. but at the end of the day, mueller is impervious to that but the audience is house republicans and the base because if mueller has to come up with an obstruction of justice indictment, essentially it's not an indictment of the president because you can't indict the sitting president. it's a report that's going to go to the house of representatives
requesting or remanding impeachment. clearly if they are denigrating the mueller investigation they're laying the groundwork. >> they're also acting as though they know that donald trump has done something very wrong. they're not acting like friends and supporters of a man they believe might possibly be innocent. rev, let me read you something that gene robinson writes in "the washington post." what if mueller catches trump and it isn't enough. we need to prepare that the mueller probe catches president trump, family members and associates red-handed and republicans in congress fail to do anything about it. those of us who care whether the president worked with a foreign power to influence the election and impeded an fbi investigation do have recourse, however. if this congress refuses to stand up for justice and american ideals, we need to elect a congress that will. is that the bottom line? >> i think it is.
i think the bottom line is that even beyond the investigation, beyond what comes up as evidence, we are seeing the undermining of what we know as this government with the presidency and what the entire judicial process is supposed to represent. are we looking at, no matter what they come with, they're going to push back. they're going to castigate. they're going to name call. i think a case in point is roy moore. i mean, do you really believe we're sitting up here three days before a man accused multiple times of pedophilia, that's said some of the most biased, bigoted things we've seen in modern american politics, and the president of the united states is 20 miles from the alabama border this evening down there to support him? the presidency has come to this? i mean, it is unthinkable, but we're there. and you are seeing it in live
time with this alabama senate race. >> phil rukcker, let me bring yu back to this question. the antics of the president's legal team if you take the weekend gaffe, john dowd saying that the president -- not that the president didn't obstruct justice but the president can't obstruct justice because he saw alan dershowitz maybe see that on television. and then you take it through to some of the twists and turns of don jr. saying there was an attorney/client privilege between him and his father because the lawyer was in the room. the legal team is starting to look like the joe pesci in "my cousin vinnie" but can you go to the more serious side of what their tactics look like just for a lay person. they're not acting innocent. >> they're not. and we've seen a shift in the public statements over the last week or so where they are now trying to excuse, you know, why the president can't obstruct
justice. which, you know, a lot of people interpreted to apply some sense of potential guilt. i don't know. but there's a lot of concern among the washington legal company that the president is not being particularly well served by these lawyers. when you speak to folks in the white house, they say the president has full confidence in them. he likes the relationship with thim. he likes their strategy of trying to be cooperative and responsive to mueller's inquiries. and he's convinced, after what these lawyers are telling him, that there truly will be some form of exoneration of the president some time soon in the new year. i talked to ty cobb earlier this week and he maintains that calendar that he thinks this probe will be wrapped up some time in early january. a lot of observers say no way. that doesn't make any sense at all, but the president is convinced of it. >> he likes two big mags and two fish wiches which aren't good for him either. the never stopping faucet that
is team trump's contacts with russians trying to support the trump effort. can you bring us that breaking news today. >> are you talking about the social media? bear with us. this is very complicated. there are e-mails now that have emerged, "the washington post" is reporting on this, that show the head of russian social media site, the facebook of russia, was trying to get donald trump to open an account. sort of a russian facebook account. and this was brokered by rob goldstone. that's what i find most interesting about it because goldstone wrote the e-mail to donald trump talking about a russian government effort to help your father's campaign. and everyone wondered, how would he know about that? he's a british music promoter. they are oligarchs with ties to putin. he says he exaggerated that e-mail but here he is in another effort where russians are trying to interact with donald trump and saying you can outreach in russia. there's no role for russians in the american presidential system. russians can't contribute.
they can't vote. what would be the point of donald trump having a facebook in fact russia? it raises a host of questions and mr. goldstone, who has said he'd be willing to talk to robert mueller, i'm sure the mueller team is eager to speak to him. >> it also answers the question, can we be done debating whether or not there was collusion. it may not have been effective or pretty but there was constant contact and coordination with russians. >> i scared my wife and woke my dog this morning when this story came on television. i started laughing so hard at this particular story because i thought, exactly. like cackling. >> can we stop? >> the absurdity. like we're done. we're done. >> every day you get something new. and then the story today about wikileaks, about wikileaks wanting to give a decryption key to the campaign offering to give them a decryption key to decrypt the clinton e-mails. it's just day after day after day, another connection, another
connection. we a long time ago were already well passed the number of connections there had ever been between any foreign power and an american presidential election and yet every day we get another two or three connections. the web gets wider, and the connections get deeper. >> it's not a web. it's a main line. >> it's an extraordinary thing. >> nobody is going to care in the trump base and they know it because perception is reality and he continually plays the victim. if you watch other news stations, they are portraying this the complete opposite that mueller is compromised and it's a witch hunt against -- >> just one another station. >> and talk radio and print. and that's unfortunate. that's why they're going this way because the perception to the base is that he is the victim here and that we're all crazy and none of these dots that are very easily connected matter. >> all right. ken dilanian, thank you for starting us off. when we come back -- send in the reinforcements as a special election in alabama comes down to its final days.
donald trump heads to a rally in neighboring pensacola while doug jones gets some help from powerful friends in hopes of pumping up democratic turnout. on the eve of the opening of the mississippi civil rights museum, donald trump offends one of america's leading civil rights icons. and sneak peek. we'll preview rachel maddow's deep dive on the russian dossier. lacking ] [ click ] [ keyboard clacking ] [ clacking continues ] good questions lead to good answers. our advisors can help you find both. talk to one today and see why we're bullish on the future. yours. talk to one today and see why we're bullish on the future. (avo) but you also have a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.
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president trump is traveling just across the alabama border to florida which shares a media market with a big chunk of alabama for a campaign-style rally just a few hours from now. trump coming out of twitter hiberination. we have done so much in such a short period of time and yet we're planning to do so much more. see you there. and last thing the make america great again agenda needs is a liberal democrat in the senate where we have so little margin for victory already. the pelosi/schumer puppet jones would vote against us 100%. he's bad on crime, life, border, vets, guns and military. vote roy moore. democrats ramping up their efforts as well for doug jones. cory booker, deval patrick and congressman john lewis head to the state for campaign events this weekend. while the issue of race is taking center stage after comments roy moore made in
september have resurfaced. in response to a question from one of the only african-americans in his audience who asked when moore thought america was last great, moore acknowledged the nation's history of racial divisions but says i think it was great at the time when families were united, even though we had slavery. they cared for one another. our families were strong. our country had a direction. our panel is still here along with phil rucker. rev, i know that democrats are at a significant disadvantage and if you look at all the information on party i.d., do you think roy moore is freaking offensive enough for sort of an electoral, not a miracle, but an electoral anomaly to take place tuesday? >> i do, if the numbers come out. i think part of what i've been talking to people that work with us in alabama, our civil rights group, and they were saying some people didn't even know there was an election.
that there hasn't been a real effort in the black community. i think roy moore just did for the democrats what they had not done for themselves. to suggest the last time america was great, the last time now, was in slavery. oh, we had a little race problem but the families got along. first of all, it was against the law for blacks to have a family. you couldn't name your kid after yourself during slavery and to act like we got along in slavery and to think this person could be sitting in the u.s. senate is, in my opinion, the reason why you might see an over the top turnout among black and white voters that are saying, this is too far. let me say this, nicolle, because when you look at the fact, and i know we're going to talk about the president not being received by many tomorrow at the civil rights museum. this is unprecedented because he has, in many ways, endorsing roy
moore, the birther thing, on and on and on every fight, the nfl knee protesters and all, george bush who many of us disagreed with who i marched on about katrina, he came to the 50th anniversary of the selma march and marched across that bridge with barack obama, john lew wirks myselewis. the king's kids. donald trump has brought us something that no ever republican president has faced because the roy moores and them are being treated like this is normal. if we normalize a roy moore and the stuff donald trump is doing, our country is in for a real, real -- >> and the gop doesn't just watch its hands if roy moore loses. they're not suddenly unaligned with a child molester and -- do you think roy moore is a racist? >> absolutely. how do you interpret that statement in any other way? >> so how does the republican
party -- i mean, i don't think they are saved or spared if roy moore loses. they're in bed with a racist and a child molester. >> and the president supported him. >> the republican party is destroying itself with this. it was bad enough what happened with the support of trump last year. they didn't have the courage to denounce him during the primaries and now this is what we have. it's opened the door for a lying lunatic like roy moore to get the endorsement of the party and the president of the united states, put money behind him, even after so many came out against roy moore, rightfully so in the republican establishment in washington and elsewhere and then to have the rnc backtrack and with their tail between their legs because trump and his ilk to say, now we support him because the president said so. this is irreparable for the republican party whether it's roy moore wins or not on tuesday. you have got to be freaking kidding me that this is what the party is doing in 2017?
i remember when trent lott got into trouble for way less than this, and here we have someone that's just poo-pooing, well, america was great when -- we had slavery, that thing. that is beyond the pail. so republicans are going to have to live with and the consequences of it moving forward. i hope doug jones wins on tuesday. and very rarely -- almost never, am i rooting for a democrat to win something, but this is beyond partisan politics. it's about decency and the country deciding who we want to be and the republican party is, obviously, in an identity crisis because this is not the party that i've known over the last 25 years. >> the republican party with the exception of yourself, mark salter, mike murphy, a handful of those of us unelected officials. >> me. >> we're a party who by and large with a very few exceptions got behind donald trump because he had an 85% approval rating among republican voters, who is
now pretty quiet on the question of whether or not they'll vote to expel roy moore should he win, and to the same question i put to tara. how does the gop unring the bell? you don't in two or four years just wash your hands of racism, child molesters and sexual salters. >> nor do you get that to that point suddenly. we are at that point because these problems. problems with the way many republicans look at women. not all republicans, but enough. the way they look at minorities and minority issues, women's issues. we're not here suddenly. we've been headed to this place or in this place for quite some time. we are, however, and i say we loosely, the republican party, is now approaching a point of no return. they're looking into an abyss. if moore is elected, they are jumping right into it. i agree, even if he loses, it's not that they've washed their hands of him because they nominated him. but if he is elected, it's a point of no return and that's
why my organization stand up for public and others are fighting there. >> we have a chance, but they didn't go back and endorse him. there was a chance the party could have -- >> or put money there. they're putting money behind this candidate. >> phil rucker, let me give you the last word. it's not just the rnc got behind him because the president did. sarah huckabee sanders made clear, if even she didn't intend to, that the white house directed the rnc to get back into this race and spend money there. >> the rnc works on behalf of the president. it's his party. and the explanation that the white house and others supporting roy moore in the republican party are giving is he's going to be some loyal vote for the trump agenda. he may vote for some of these bills but there's nothing about his past and the way he's campaigned that indicates he's going to be loyal to the republican party. he's campaigning to unseat mitch mcconnell as the party leader. he's going to come to the senate with a real bombastic aim to disrupt the status quo and the party and he's going to be a
problem for the republican leadership, i think, of the senate. not only because of the outlandish things he says but he's going to try to push through his own sort of separate nationalist agenda. >> john heilemann, let me tell you what some of that is. here's what roy moore believes. moore believes that homosexual conduct should be illegal. that 9/11 was god punishing perverseness. that obama was not born here. he talks about reds and yellows. that muslims should not sit in congress. and that islam is contrary to the u.s. constitution. >> what a winner that guy is. you know, you think about even long before he became an accused -- credibly accused pedophile, long before the slavery comments, he was abhorrent on every level and never should have been embraced by anybody in the republican party. etvia cetera. we're all on the record for this for about a month now where we
see this is grotesque and it's an indicator of how low our politics have sunk. i will say, though, just as my -- one of my chosen rules which is to depress everybody all the time is just to point to the structural thing. go back and look, as i just did sitting here, at the alabama performance of barack obama in 2008 against your boss. your boss is about a million miles from roy moore but an election in 2008, a presidential on-year election when turnout is high, historic first black nominee about to become president of the united states, the president -- that barack obama won 38% of the vote. this is a tough state for a democrat, and if you are relying on african-american votes, barack obama got more black votes in 2008 than anybody has ever gotten in the state of alabama and still got only 38% of the vote. john mccain, not roy moore. a lot of different dynamics but it's hard for a democrat to win.
>> if republicans peel off, he has a chance. >> we need to get to a break but it's not a study of just bringing out democrats. you have to get republicans offended enough to stay home. can't imagine they aren't. phil ruk ethank you. still ahead, donald trump in a war of words with members of the congressional black caucus on the eve of the opening of the civil rights museum. of course he is. e. but on the inside, i feel chronic, widespread pain. fibromyalgia may be invisible to others, but my pain is real. fibromyalgia is thought to be caused by overactive nerves. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves. i'm glad my doctor prescribed lyrica. for some, lyrica delivers effective relief for moderate to even severe fibromyalgia pain. and improves function. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions, suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worse depression, unusual changes in mood or behavior, swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling,
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donald trump will visit the opening of the mississippi civil rights museum tomorrow having accepted at the last minute a months-old invitation from the state's governor. already a cloud of controversy hangs over his appearance. congressman john lewis, one of the men being honored by the museum, will not attend now that trump will be there. in a joint statement with benny thompson of mississippi, they write, president trump's attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum. the white house responded with a
statement from sarah huckabee sanders. we think it's unfortunate that these members of congress wouldn't join the president in honoring the incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made to right the -- i can't even read it without laughing. whatever. you can read the rest. pointing out the irony. it's laughable that the white house is criticizing john lewis and bennie thompson for not attending the opening of a civil rights museum that honors the sacrifice of -- wait for lewis, many others. what is wrong with them? >> you and i have talked about and john through the last several months that i think that donald trump is the most cynical than anything else. and you'd think he would use one opportunity to pivot to make all of us that are critical of him, particularly in the area of race, look silly. he is beyond the pail now. there is no going back. he has totally embraced a very
bigoted, biased and racist doctrine here because he's not -- i mean, you know southern dixiecrats and republicans in the '50s that were smart enough to at least stay away from a roy moore. he's just all in. and to think that john lewis and others would sit there, in that museum, where emmett tillman was killed and they're going to talk about where you've got the work of others while he actively withdraws from voter rights lawsuits and actively says we're pulling police back. what is he going to walk around there for? he denounces people for protesting now, and the whole museum of full of protesters. that's where the freedom summer was in mississippi. i don't even know why he's going other than he's trying to have it both ways and you can't do that. and why would they normalize it or dignify it by -- >> here's the thing. i understand a normal president
wanting to attend something like this. but if you are the man that the rev just described pretty accurately, you might do a little bit of political legwork ahead of time. make sure that the people -- make sure it doesn't become about you and the post writes about that. basically saying suddenly the focus shifted from the elderly mississippians who stood up to police and merchants and employers. the president has a knack for dominating conversation that has succeeded again in local news even in the halls of the new museum, the talk was about trump. why was he coming? what would he say? would celebration morph into protest and controversy? other people have said this on the show. everything he touches is tarnished. >> and it's always about him. he is a narcissist. this is what narcissists do. his operation in the white house isn't what we are used to. it's not a political professional operation.
there are some people there who understand how these things would normally work. we're talking about a rational actor. this isn't a rational white house. those professional people are pulling their hair out because they can't do their job effectively because trump throws the playbook out. let me say something about the irony of all of this. donald trump and the reason why -- let's remind people why civil rights leaders and congressional black caucus members are not showing up there and why we find that statement so laughable. donald trump was sued for racial discrimination in housing in the '70s. donald trump took out a full-page ad here in new york city against the central park five who were fully exonerated and have received millions of dollars in reparations -- >> that he opposed. he opposed the settlement. >> he never acknowledged he was wrong and calling for the death penalty of these young men. donald trump was sued for racial discrimination by dealers in atlantic city for removing black dealers and women because of some of the mob bosses that came to his casinos.
didn't like having them on the floor because they thought it was bad luck. donald trump has been terrible to -- on any issues of race. but don't forget his supporters will come out and say, but he opened up mar-a-lago to blacks and jews so i guess that qualifies. >> she's a republican, nicolle. she's a black republican. i'm a registered black democrat. none of us could name an executive in his casinos in 35 years. i know every black executive for one reason or another for the last three decades. i've never met a black that even accused him of putting them on an executive position in his business. so we're not surprised. we we're surprised how openly they're playing it. >> let's go back to your comment about the cynicism. this all seems simple. when you want to look -- you want to be able to say, even the
trump base, even the most deep racists don't like to admit that they're racist. >> be outed. >> you want to be like donald trump in the campaign. you remember he did that period for about a week where he went around and courted black votes. what the hell do you have to lose? that was a way of ticking the box and saying, hey, guys. i went out and appealed. i spent four days appealing for black votes. >> was it four days? >> i'm being -- >> but my point is going to the civil rights museum gives him the same thing. when he gets attacked now by african-american leaders he can say, what your attacking me for? i went to the civil rights museum. what are you talking about? and that's a -- >> what i think it is, they had the invitation for months and didn't accept it. i think it's to try and in many ways say to blacks in alabama, don't get excited. this is all about roy moore tuesday. why didn't they accept the invitation months ago? why would they do it on the day
after they are going in there for roy moore. to try and say to blacks, don't get alarmed. don't listen to the people like that. >> donald trump was rummaging through his inbox and found the invitation. everyone says the white house staff, they are outgunned. they're outmatched. he just steam rolls over them. no the whole operation is tainted by whatever people think of this. the whole operation. donald trump doesn't open his own mail. i'm not sure he even reads it. the idea this is just -- this wasn't just his idea to go. this was a whole staff that signed off of it. he surely didn't call them and say we're coming. this is a whole -- >> it's a photo op. he's doing it so that he can -- >> it's worse than that. >> inoculate himself from the real criticism about his position on race and how awful it's been. this is all so he can say to his base, look, i really have black friends. look, i really do care about black folks. i'm at the civil rights museum
opening. it's like he trotd out that ridiculous national diversity council on the cast of fools on that committee to sit there like a show and say donald trump is great for black america. and he just does that -- >> i think we all quit after charlottesville. >> not all of them, unfortunately. not all of them. >> he went to the opening of the national african-american museum -- >> he went after. did his own little private tour and -- >> i was trying to remember how he tried to manipulate that. >> i think the timing of this is to deflate black turnout in alabama. >> we found it. >> we got to the bottom of it. when we come back, some breaking news in t"the new york times" about hope hicks. we'll talk to the reporter on the story, next.
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advisers, hope hicks, earlier this year about repeated attempted by russian operatives to make contact with her during the presidential transition according to people familiar with the events. the times also reporting hicks was interviewed by bob mueller over the past two days. matt apouso join us. the headline here seems to be that the fbi was concerned enough to go above and beyond the normal security briefing that any senior white house staffer in close proximity to the president of the united states gets in the early days of this administration. >> right. and, you know this, nicolle, you know if you are in a key position in the white house, you get what is known as a security briefing. sort of a best practices manual. hey, look. don't wander -- won't walk around the white house grounds talking on your phone. don't let people buy you drinks in a bar. this one went above and beyond that. this is known as a defensive briefing when there's specific intelligence that causes the fbi
to have concerns. doesn't mean that she's done anything wrong. there's no evidence she's done anything wrong. they were concerned n wanted to let her know. those guys e-mailing you are not who they say they are. >> let me read a couple of pieces from your article. you write and you made the point there was no indication that hope hicks did anything wrong. she's been with mueller's investigators. also hicks informed don mcgahn about her meetings with the fbi. there seems to be two things going on. a growing body of information that we now know based on information that comes out largely from people representing people before bob mueller, never usually from mueller's operation. don mcgahn seems to be a person who was at least in possession of a lot of information. the other is that hope hicks was in with special counsel bob mueller's team on the same day that don jr. seemed to suggest that she was the one who had
been spearheading or interfacing with him when that phony, bogus story was given to media outlets, including media aboard air force one. any sense of what kind of ground was covered with hicks? >> so, look, if you -- if you look at hope hicks, she is around the president. she's one of his closest advisers for a long, long time. and so it would make sense that bob mueller would want to spend time talking to her. that story that we wrote back over the summer that revealed that there were these meetings at trump tower with the russian lawyers who promised dirt on hillary clinton. the statement we got from the white house was incomplete and misleading, at best. and i don't know that that's a crime to lie to "the new york times," mislead "the new york times." but if you're bob mueller, you just want to know, how did that happen and what was the intention. you want to fill in the
narrative. a lot of these things, hope is an important witness. >> i imagine you want to know why it happened and at whose direction it happened, right? >> yeah, and basically where did that statement come from and why. like i said, it's not a a crime misleading statement or incomplete statement to the "new york times," but if you're bob mueller, you kind of just want to know what that was all about and how that came to be. >> the warning that hope hicks got from the fbi. there was clearly grave concern that even after the inauguration, even after he became president, that -- this predates bob mueller's existence as a special counsel by many, many months, but there was concern inside the fbi. the fbi getting maligned on right wing media, trying to protect the president and his team from russian intelligence agents and operations. >> correct. this is -- it's a defensive briefing. trying to defend the president. from this effort.
you have to remember, this is happening just weeks earlier. the united states intelligence agency publicly accused russia of -- of coming out and -- and trying to meddle in the election, and the fact that they're still trying to make -- make in-roads with people around, in the west wing is remarkable. so i think what the fbi saw, what american intelligence agencies saw was something serious enough they needed to go in and tell hope hicks, hey, judgment fyi, these people reachening out to you are not who they say they are and you need to be careful. >> if you can bear with me. are report in early january american intelligence agencies formally accused russian intelligence agency are trying to tip the presidential election towards mr. trump. reluctant to accept that conclusion. fbi agents went to the white house and warned all senior
aides to be cautious about threats especially from russia and china. and separately ms. hicks was briefed and one other member close to the president's in a meeting in february ms. hicks generally was told about the russian intelligence efforts and pressed them for more information. a senior fbi agent met again with ms. hicks and provided her with several names of those who contacted her and with whom the fbi wa in contact with. i was the white house communications director. that is a lot of interaction with the fbi. do you have any, any sense it was something bigger? that they were inside and thought maybe she had been unwittingly sort of enlisted in some sort of russian intelligence ration? >> no. not at all. and the timeline as we understand it is -- hope actually, she says, wanted more. tell me more. i want to know more so i can be better prepared.
don't just tell me this is going on. get me the names. that's why they'd come back and give her more. listen, that's what you would do if you're in that situation and just being told, hey, fyi, people triering to contact you. who's trying to contact me? the other thing we can say i think is important, in some ways this actually -- actually argues against the idea that there was some well-established back channel line into the trump campaign for senior russian officials, because if they had one they probably wouldn't necessarily need to be e-mailing hicks. on the other hand it shows, as we went into the transition, after a campaign repeatedly suggesting they were making contacts, maybe just e-mail our way in. >> matt apuzzo, grateful for hopping on the phone with us. great reporting. thank you so much. >> thank you. and john heilemann, that
is -- that is the anatural sigs frsigs -- analysis on the reporter on the ground wit facts. i wonder if bob mueller will look at this from -- as he often does -- sort the of kaleidoscope? the other little dots. the exact same period of time when mike flynn lied to the fbi. may trying to siphon out who is being honest. >> everything that happens in this investigation, one is she in often what is a clown show. one of the most competent people work around donald trump. shae model of professionalism, and has always been underestimated by people from the outside. she also is trusted by trump in a way that very few other people in his orbit are outside of his family. so at any given moment, when you talk about the quintessential person who knows where the bodies are buried just generally
knows what's going on, has a lot of visibility, who can be in any room, like almost is in the wallpaper because the president trusts her so much, she that woman and only now as her name is coming up more often because of donald jr. and these stories people are starting to key on in, the extent to which and mueller already keyed in, clearly, head of all of this, key to the extent not necessarily done anything wrong but an understanding what has gone on in the campaign and in this white house, she is a key to getting the picture. >> do you think that -- let me, quick, i want to get at, push that one step further, john heilemann. do you think the president has any anxiety about the fact hope hicks now spent two full days with bob mueller's team and you said, she knows everything. as you just said, she was sort of on the receiving end of anyone trying to get to him. if the president has something to hide and hope hicks tells the truth to bob mueller that is the
door opening to whatever there is to hide? >> i do not know what donald trump thinks about this but knows two things about her. one, she is among all the other things i said, extraordinarily loyal to him. >> well enough to life? >> i don't know. asked me is dnl worried? who are the most loyal people? she's among the most loyal and the toughest. >> i would say, look, more great reporting from the "new york times." they've been great all year. i have to push back against the idea that's included in this piece that the fact that the russians were still reaching out to hope hicks after the election sort of undermines the idea that there were already lots of significant russian contacts with the administration. that's out in how think works. the trump team was already elected, on their way in. going to control the executive branch and have the influence and power that comes with that. the russians would not then be backing up. they would be pushing ahead. they would be broadening their
contacts. noerc not only in the white house, elsewhere in the administration and it's dangerous to have someone like hope hicks, dangling out there, not yet compromised by some shady contact with russians. >> that's not in the story. i mean -- >> no it is. it is. >> doesn't so those were initial contacts, no evidence hope hicks did anything improper but went in to say the names that had contacted her and were not the names they said. >> and in ways the russian outreach to ms. hicks undercuts the idea that -- >> matt's analysis, but never -- no reporting suggesting this was the first time hope -- this is the first time we know the fbi warned her. not that this is the first time the russians contacted her. >> this comes up a lot. every time we learn about new contact especially after the election people say, this was happening after the election, proves that the russians --
>> there was no collusion. that's nonsense. the russians would be expanding their connections with the trump team. even amp the campaign, and especially someone, as john pointed out, as close to the president as hope is, they're not going to want her dangling out there, not compromised by contact with russians. this is how this happens. gradually, slowly by slowly, benign starting contact with the russians leads to compromise, leads to a position you're stuck, and that's part of the russian game that's part of the intel game. >> quickly, puts ex cia head testimony knowingly and unknowingly cooperatingry the kremlin. this may be one of those examples they knew about. >> she's going to have to be really careful two days in front of the fbi. all you need is one lie for purgely. if i was the president i'd have a lot of anxiety. the longers she's in there the
more they can put her in a position where she has to compromise and cooperate, because that's a long time. i mean, martha stewart went to jail for saying something wrong to the fbi. so, mr. trump, if you're watching, the longer she's in there, you got a problem. >> or not. i mean, i guess back to your point, john. she knows everything. there's no reason to believe, nothing she's ever dmun her comportment or composure to suggest she would lie. but the fact that someone who knows everything who was warned by the fbi, now spent two days with bob mueller certainly suggests he's circling closer, closer to the president. >> i think there's no -- every piece of evidence we have suggests he's circling closer and closer to the president and every piece of evidence suggests donald trump is getting increasingly nervous and right to be about pretty much everything. >> all eyes on that rally speech tonight. he's been -- >> he could be bonkers tonight. >> also sedate on twitter all
week. predictions? >> bonkers. >> bonkers. >> absolutely. more divisive than ever. >> say something crazy like i like civil rights leaders were weren't assassinated. >> you guys are the best. my thanks to all of you. a quick note, right here on msnbc, rachel maddow, in dep-de look apartment the dossier. special report tonight at 9:00 eastern only on msnbc. that does it for our hour. i'm nicolle wallace. "mtp daily" starts right now. chuck is live in alabama ahead of tuesday's special election. hi, chuck. >> hi, nicolle. i can tell you this, it's cold down here but i've already had warm gumbo and already a happy man. >> ooh, that sounds good. anyway, if it's friday, it's snowing heavily in alabama. really. that's nowhere near the craziest thing happening here.