Skip to main content

tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  December 8, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

6:00 pm
it, they will get down to the bottom of this and muller is is not going to be detoured. >> thank you both. that is "all in" for this evening. up next, rachel maddow with a special report on the dossier, who wrote it, released it and what we know to be true. "the dossier" starts now. thanks for joining us this hour. nice to have you here. we have a special report for you tonight on a story we've been working on for a very long time now. for going on a year and a half, we've been digging into the russian attempt not just to interfere in this election but interfere for the benefit of russia's chosen candidate. that candidate of course, is now the president. and his administration has been dogged since before day one by questions of whether his campaign was involved in the russian intelligence operation that tried to influence our election. two members of the president's campaign including the former national security advisor plead guilty to lying to the contacts
6:01 pm
about the russians but tonight we'll take a step back to intriguing and in many ways president document at the heart of trump russia story. we'll step back and look at the 35-page trump russia dossier. and depending on which way the news is blowing, the allegations contained can sound out landish or they can sound freakishly spot on. where did this dossier come from? have we learned from it? does it yet have to say? this is some of what we learned. >> are there any russians here tonight? any russians? ♪ ♪ >> they've conducted watergate 2.0. >> fake dossier was made up. >> i don't use the term dossier. these were field reports. is there something here that i could verify? >> i call it the russian hoax.
6:02 pm
>> it's all fake news. >> i am not involved in russia. ♪ ♪ >> president of the united state states. >> it started in the spring of 2016 with a former british spy whose name was almost too james bond to be true. steel. christopher steel. >> and we will make america great again. >> thank you, everybody. >> if you were looking to investigate donald trump's alleged russia connections, christopher steel would seem like the perfect fit. >> he can tell you off the top of his head, the leading members of russian mafia, people who have influence in the kremlin and so on. >> nigel west knows christopher steel. he's a writer and historian whose specialty is british intelligence. west says that steel was mi 6s
6:03 pm
man in moscow in the early 1990s. >> thereafter he ended his career as the head of the train of new entry and intelligence officers and that's considered to be an important role. >> after retiring, steel started a new company called orbis business intelligence located in this building. they specialized in getting corporate executives deep intel on foreign countries they were dealing with. steel's specialty was russia. >> i have listened to his presentations, what he calls the putin regime and the way that it has effectively looted the former soviet union and he's the go-to guy. if there is anybody that wants to conduct due diligence investigations, he knows every personality. >> jonathan winer is a former deputy assistant secretary of state for law enforcement in the clinton administration.
6:04 pm
he says he first met christopher steel in washington in 2009. >> he knew more about russian organized crime, russian financial crime, russian money laundering, russian corruption than i did and i knew quite a bit. >> according to winer, steel occasionally provided reports on developments inside putin's russia to his colleagues at the state department. >> the people working russia all the time valued the reports. they thought they were well-sourced. they thought they were remarkably timely. >> the state department wasn't the only u.s. agency to rely on christopher steel. >> i understood he had a relationship with the fbi relating to the fifa soccer scandal and had been a significant source for them in making cases in that area. >> in 2016, though, the americans calling christopher steel weren't fbi agents. the call he got in 2016 was from a small washington research firm
6:05 pm
called fusion gps. fusion gps was founded by former wall street journal reporters. this is how one of fusion's founders glen simpson described his company's mission when he spoke at a 2009 investigation of reporting. >> we're hoping that people who have an interest in bringing things out do something about corruption and fraud and will come to us. they don't necessarily have to have completely pure motives. frequently there is people who are in business and sick of competitors who cheat and want to see things exposed. that's, you know, that's a sort of model for our new project. >> fusion had first been hired by a conservative website called "the washington free beacon" that website and fund es were opposed to donald trump during the primaries. >> i hear they are all going after me. whatever, whatever. i hear it. >> once trump appeared to clinch the nomination, those initial
6:06 pm
conservative funders lost interest in the trump project. soon, though, new clients agreed to pay for fusion's research. the democratic national committee and hillary clinton campaign. >> friends don't let friends vote for trump. >> at first, fusion concentrated on trump's business career. his casinos. his multiple business bankruptcies. >> i used the laws of the country to make good deals for myself. >> they noticed trump's organization seems to do a lot of business with russians, particularly at times when trump's businesses might have been strapped for cash. >> trump is experiencing extreme financial difficulties. june 2008. >> james henry is is an economist, lawyer and investigative journalist who has written extensively about pose soviet russia and donald trump's russian connections. >> the on way that he survives is by calling on new sources capital or money pouring out of
6:07 pm
places like russia and former soviet union states like kazakhstan. >> there was nothing to suggest anything illegal about that, but the investigatiors working for fusion gps thought there might be more to know so they went looking for someone that knew russia, someone that had sources in russia. someone like christopher steel. >> at some point in the summer of 2016, i heard from mr. steel he had this project relating to russia, which implicated contacts between russians and people associated with president trump's campaign. >> steel had barely begun his investigation of trump's russia ties when a very big russia story broke in the united states. it was june 14th, 2016 and "the washington post" reported that the democratic national committee had been hacked. security analysts suspected russia was behind it. >> this was a clear espionage
6:08 pm
attempt by the russian government to steal information about the u.s. political process. >> malcolm nance is a naval intelligence officer and wrote a book called "the plot to hack america" about russia's meddling. >> putin views russia as missing its place as the number one super power in the world even though it's economically on pa a with italy. to do it, you can use soft power. you can use hybrid war fair, propaganda, ununiformed special operations. everything short of war to disable your enemy and in the case of the united states, the easiest thing to disable is democracy because russia does not believe in democracy. >> six days after "the washington post's" first story on russia hacking, christopher steel sent his first report to
6:09 pm
"fu "fusion gps." it was the first page that set the tone for the memos and controversy that follow heed. steel wrote, russia regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting trump for at least five years. aim endorsed by putin has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance. according to steel's unnamed sources, trump's inner circle have acre cementedse accepted a from the kremlin. steel went on to say rush had enough embarrassing material on the now republican candidate to be able to blackmail him if they so wished. steel's memo asserted that some of russia's alleged embarrassing material on trump had been gathered back in 2013 when trump brought his miss universe pageant to moscow.
6:10 pm
that claim about trump's time in moscow was a small part of the first christopher steel memo when the full steel dossier was public, that claim would be the headline but it was steel's broader assertions about russia's aims, russia's methods and russia's relationship with trump that would end up slow burning through the whole first year of the trump presidency. >> they came out of in where, sir. >> good luck out there, captain. >> thanks, i don't need luck, i have skill. (on intercom) all hands. we are looking for the captain's keys again. they are on a silver carabin. oh, this is bad. as long as people misplace their keys, you can count on geico saving folks money. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance.
6:11 pm
6:12 pm
whstuff happens. old shut down cold symptoms fast with maximum strength alka seltzer plus liquid gels.
6:13 pm
for 20 years, christopher steel kept his head down but the things he was hearing from his deep cover sources inside russia during the summer of 2016 changed all that. according to jonathan winer, steel felt at the russians intended to meddle in the upcoming election, the fbi should know about it. >> that is the kind of thing the
6:14 pm
fbi needs to know and to assess professionally impartially in order to protect our country. that's how i felt about it. i believe that's how mr. steel felt about it. >> in late june with the permission of his clients at fusion, christopher steel met with an old fbi contact in the u.k. his intel was raw and unverified but his concern was real. >> you don't gather information like this and not pass it onto the fbi. that would be wrong. passing onto the fbi would be the right thing to do. >> the fbi had interacted with steel before on the fifa soccer bribery scandal and other matters. christopher steel was a known quantity and they were interested in what he had to say about trump and russia. after the first meeting, the burro told steel they wanted more. steel promised to keep them in the loop. weeks later on july 19th, 2016, steel sent off the second trump
6:15 pm
memo. this was the headline, russia secret kremlin meetings attended by trump advisor carter page in moscow. according to steel sources, the meetings involved a move to lift ukraine related western sanctions against russia. >> usa! >> on the day that report was filed, the republican national convention was getting underway in cleveland, ohio. at the time a few american journalists were starting to see the vague outlines of a trump russia story. trump's appointment of paul manafort as the campaign chair raised eyebrows because manafort spent years working for politicians. >> what started to give the russia story some traction was paul manafort's role. >> michael is an investigative reporter that writes for yahoo news. trump put manafort in charge of
6:16 pm
managing the convention. >> it seemed odd that the trump campaign had this senior official who was so closely associated with a government that had become a foreign adversary. >> that was the first red flag. >> then the republican convention's platform is changed to remove language that had been proposed that would offer lethal assistance to the ukrainians fighting russian intervention in their country. >> from his perspective, that was red flag number two. >> then you had michael flynn who was emerging as perhaps the chief foreign policy national security advisor to the trump campaign. >> lock her up. that's right. that's right. lock her up.
6:17 pm
>> i interviewed flynn that day, the afternoon of his speech. you flew over to moscow -- and one thing i pressed him on was the trip he made to moscow in december 2015 and i asked an obvious question, which was why did you take the trip and who paid for it. >> i didn't take any money from russia, if that's what you're asking me. >> who paid you? >> my speaker's burro. ask them. >> what's going on here? everybody knows the way these things work. the speaker's burro takes a cut, sets up the speech but the money comes from the client, the client here was r.t., the russian propaganda station. >> i humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the
6:18 pm
presidency of the united states. [ cheers ] >> the final red flag came on the day after donald trump acre cemented the republican nomination. on july 22nd, 2016, days before the democrats were to open their convention, wikileaks published thousands of stolen democratic party e-mails. >> that was something new. that was something we had isn't seen before and it clearly shook up the democrats. >> malcolm nance says it was the moment he knew america was under attack. >> when wikileaks released the information, i thought this is an old style kgb political war fair operation but modernized with computer technology and conducted watergate 2.0. successful watergate. >> soon after the wikileaks dump, christopher steel filed another trump memo, quote,
6:19 pm
russian regime behind the leak of embarrassing mess sages from the national democratic committee to the wikileaks platform. one of steel's sources described as an ethic russian close to donald trump told steel this. quote, there was a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between them and the russian leadership. this was managed on the trump side by the republican candidate's campaign manager paul manafort using policy advisor carter page and others as entintermediarieintermediari. at this point, american journalists knew nothing of christopher steel or his reports but there was a rumor making the rounds that had its origins in steel's first memo to fusion gps. russia had something compromising on trump. there were whispers and reporting about a sex tape of prostitutes at the ritz carlton in moscow.
6:20 pm
>> those associated with the democrats were pedaling that story. >> we did hear things like look, if you did anything at the ritz charlton moscow, that whole place is wired by russian intelligence for video and sound. it's perfectly plausible that anybody who engaged in embarrassing activities there would be on tape and russian spies would have that tape, but there was really no way to prove it. >> alongside those swirling rumors were other new questions about trump and russia, questions sparked by trump's own public remarks and his own behavior on the campaign trail. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. i think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
6:21 pm
if yor crohn's symptoms are holding you back, and your current treatment hasn't worked well enough, it may be time for a change. ask your doctor about entyvio, the only biologic developed and approved just for uc and crohn's. entyvio works at the site of inflammation in the gi tract
6:22 pm
and is clinically proven to help many patients achieve both symptom relief and remission. infusion and serious allergic reactions can happen during or after treatment. entyvio may increase risk of infection, which can be serious. pml, a rare, serious, potentially fatal brain infection caused by a virus may be possible. this condition has not been reported with entyvio. tell your doctor if you have an infection, experience frequent infections or have flu-like symptoms or sores. liver problems can occur with entyvio. if your uc or crohn's treatment isn't working for you, ask your gastroenterologist about entyvio. entyvio. relief and remission within reach. if sleep is essential to happiness. what's essential to sleep? introducing the leesa mattress. a better place to sleep. expertly designed for support, pressure relief, cooling and bounce. read our reviews then try the leesa mattress in your own home. sleep on it for 100 nights and love it or get a full refund. order now
6:23 pm
and get $100 off. go to today. each day justin chooses to walk. at work... and after work. he does it all with dr. scholl's. only dr. scholl's has massaging gel insoles that provide all-day comfort. to keep him feeling more energized. dr. scholl's. born to move. on october 2016 the
6:24 pm
presidential campaign entered the final stretch when three stories broke within minutes of each other. the first at 3:30, the director of national intelligence declaring for the first time that the russian government was behind the dnc hack and the weaponization of the stolen e-mails and the wikileaks was part of a russian government operation ordered at the highest level. >> this statement is very dramatic. it says that the u.s. intelligence community is confident that the russian government day recollectirectedm americans and u.s. institutions including u.s. political organizations. >> just 30 minutes later, "the washington post" sees the news cycle when it posted the now notorious ""access hollywood" tape. >> this coming in in the last few seconds. nbc news has just became aware of a video capturing donald trump making vulgar comments
6:25 pm
about women back in 2005. >> when you're a star they let you do it. you can do anything. >> then 30 minutes after that, wikileaks appeared to counter punch with the release of e-mails hacked from the personal account of clinton campaign chairman john padesta. >> this is another hack, a hacking organization that has alleged ties to the russians. >> in the middle of that wild news cycle in october, investigative reporter david corn of the left leaning "mother jones" magazine got wind of something big, something unprecedented, if it was true. his sources told him that russia had something on trump, and the details were written down in a series of secret documents. >> i was told about the memos in great detail. >> david corn discovered who wrote the memos. a former british intelligence officer named christopher steel. >> i was able to do some research on him and final out at
6:26 pm
the very least he was who he said he was and that he had the intelligence pedigree that he -- that i'd been told that he had. >> by mid october, christopher steel had filed 15 of the 16 memos that would later be called the dossier. david corn saw several of the memos. >> i don't use the term dossier because it's not really a dossier. that gives the impression of a finished product compiled into one single entity, one document. these were field reports. it was very much the way a reporter in the field would send notes to an editor. >> to try to verify the credibility of steel's memos, david corn started calling his own sources. malcolm nance was one of them. >> david corn, the first one to receive the christopher steel dossier contacted me and he wanted to ask me some questions about how do you evaluate this
6:27 pm
information? >> after doing his own due diligence, corn arranged to do an interview via skype with christopher steel himself. >> our agreement at the time was that i could, you know, quote him but i would not identify him by name. >> the former spy didn't want publicity. he wanted action. in the interview steel told corn this is something of huge significance, way above party politics. he said i think trump's own party should be aware of this stuff, as well. corn had his scoop, but he knew he had to be careful. >> i wasn't going to take specific allegations, particularly the ones that president trump is owed a degree of fairness but journalistic integrity, you don't want to report allegations about anyone that you can't verify aren't true. >> still, corn believed steel's reputation and the fbi's interest in the broader outlines of steel's story gave it
6:28 pm
credibility. >> the fbi, you know, having said get lost, they will give us more information here. >> a few minutes before midnight on halloween, 2016, "mother jones "said a veteran spy gave the fbi information involving a russian operation to cultivate donald trump. it was a headline reporters were chasing for months. a candidate with a mirky relationship. a russian plot to tamper with the election. possible trump campaign collusion with the kremlin. the story was potentially huge and intriguing. but it was vague. who was this veteran spy? and what was the russian operation? how serious were these allegations? ultimately, david corn's article was swamped by the news cycle. days earlier, the fbi reopened an investigation of hillary
6:29 pm
clinton's use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state. >> the fbi dropped a bomb in the race for president this afternoon. >> that story and reaction to it would dominate the headlines right up to election day. >> very proud that the fbi was willing to do this, actually. really. >> when the calendar finally flipped november 8th and election day arrived, donald trump won enough electoral votes to become president of the united states. >> usa! usa! usa! >> the election may have been over, but the hard work of finding out what role the russians played in the 2016 election, that work is just beginning. for the holidays, we get a gift for mom and dad. and every year, we split it equally. except for one of us. i write them a poem instead! and one for each of you too! that's actually yours. that, that one. yeah. regardless, we're stuck with the bill. to many, words are the most valuable currency.
6:30 pm
last i checked, stores don't take "words." some do. not everyone can be the poetic voice of a generation. i know, right? such a burden. the bank of america mobile banking app. the fast, secure and simple way to send money.
6:31 pm
coaching means making tough choices. jim! you're in!
6:32 pm
but when you have high blood pressure and need cold medicine that works fast, the choice is simple. coricidin hbp is the #1 brand that gives powerful cold symptom relief without raising your blood pressure. coricidin hbp. and i am a senior public safety my namspecialist for pg&e. my job is to help educate our first responders on how to deal with natural gas and electric emergencies. everyday when we go to work we want everyone to work safely and come home safely. i live right here in auburn, i absolutely love this community. once i moved here i didn't want to live anywhere else. i love that people in this community are willing to come together to make a difference for other people's lives. together, we're building a better california.
6:33 pm
in the windling da dwindlin 2016, trump picked his staff and the memos about a western spy was long forgotten until, ten days before the inauguration that story came roaring back when cnn reported president obama and president elect trump had been briefed by the intelligence community on a two-page summery of the christopher steele dossier. >> the information was provided as part of last week's classified intelligence
6:34 pm
briefings regarding russian efforts to undermine the u.s. election. >> that report set off alarm bells in the new york offices of buzz feed news. as was true at several organizations, it was true. >> we looked at things that seemed confirmable. >> ben smith says buzz feed was not able to verify claims in the dossier but smith felt that the fact that such a dossier was being taken seriously by u.s. intelligence, that itself was news. >> we knew that this document was being circulated and acted upon at the levels of government and you see important decision makers making decisions about how they are relating to the administration and thinking about russia that are explained by this piece of dark matter. >> ben smith and others thought it was time to let their audience in on what was fast the
6:35 pm
worst-kept secret in washington. >> the question we ask ourselves is why would we keep this from the audience? >> at 5:30 p.m., buzz feed hit publish. all 30 pages of the dossier went online with a warning that the allegations are unverified and the report contains errors. >> that was really our main goal in our summery of it was to say very, very clearly behaven't we verified this but there are real errors and here is what we know. >> it was explosive stuff and not just the looewd allegations. there were other serious charges, names named in black and white. the public was seeing it all for the first time. according to the unnamed sources, campaign chairman paul manafort managed a conspiracy of cooperation with the russians. foreign policy advisor carter page served as an intermediary
6:36 pm
with the russians and trump's personal lawyer traveled to meet with russians trying to cover up the scandal. >> damaging allegations about trump and his dealings with russians. >> the reaction from the trump camp was immediate and furious. >> the buzz feed memo is total complete garbage is what it is. >> the trump associates named in the dossier denied any wrongdoi wrongdoing. paul manafort said it was a democrat party dirty trick and completely false. >> it's so crazy that it's laughable. >> carter paige admitted he had been to russia but gone on personal business, not as trump's russian go between. >> i had no dealings in russia that would directly lead -- that had anything to do with the trump campaign. >> as for michael cohen, trump's lawyer, he tweeted a picture of his passport and said he had never been to progress and even
6:37 pm
though it is common to travel in europe without a passport stamped in every country visited, the passport tweet was toted by the president elect as a repudiation of the dossier. >> it's a disgrace what took place. it's a disgrace and i think they ought to apologize and start with michael cohecohen. >> he accused the u.s. intelligence community of leaking it. >> i think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. i think it's a disgrace and i say that and i say that and that's something that nazi germany would have done and did do. >> trump also lashed out at buzz feed. >> buzz feed, which is a failing pile of garbage. >> on top of the criticism from the president elect, buzz feed took heat from journalists for having published admittedly
6:38 pm
unver piu unverified allegations. >> are you knowingly spreading false information. >> with the obama birth certificate, this is an incredibly difficult balance. >> because buzz feed did not refact ar refact all personal information, many said they were liable by the publications. those russians are suing buzz feed, christopher steele and fusion gps. david corn feared buzz feed put at risk the lives of christopher steele's sources. >> one concern i had was, you know, that this could put some sources into trouble and, you know, maybe even put steele into some trouble, as well. >> days after buzz feed published the dossier, the wall street journal publicly identified christopher steele as the dossier's author. >> the documents by christopher
6:39 pm
steele and published by buzz feed. >> within hours of being outed, steele went into hiding with his wife and children. >> the media were all over him. >> christopher steele's friend nigel west. >> the expedient he adopted was absolutely the correct advice anybody in reputation management would give, which is say nothing and disappear. >> in the days immediately after the dossier's publication, anyone interested in russia's role in the 2016 election had read it including christopher steele's old friend jonathan winer. >> i looked at it like i look at all reports which is you look at the professionalism of the person gathering it. their background. the care with which they operate. and you say this is serious stuff. but intelligence is not evidence. these are two very different things. >> now that the dossier was
6:40 pm
public record and controversy, the question remained, were the allegations in it true? intelligence professionals like harvey wondered if perhaps the russians might have deliberately fed steele some bogus information. >> the thing depends on who indeed christopher steele sources were. they might indeed have genuine access and 70, 80% of what they are telling him was true. however, there might be that 20% actually comes prom putin's administration and it's information they want to put over. it's not necessarily correct. >> the truth, deliberate lies, weaponized half truths, it would be up to investigators to sort those out. on the russian side, it was clear and consistent from the
6:41 pm
beginning. deny everything. dimitri is putin's press secretary. >> but i can ensure you that the allegations in those -- in this paper and so-called report, they are untrue and they are all fake. >> fake may have been the word for it in moscow but in washington, the dossier and allegations were starting to bare out under scrutiny and began an unprecedented national security scandal that threatened to end a presidency as it was beginning.
6:42 pm
6:43 pm
6:44 pm
i donald john trump do
6:45 pm
solemnly swear that -- >> after donald trump took the oath of office in january 2017, a steady barrage of news reports started to reveal the character of the russian campaign to influence the american presidential election. the circulation and hyping of internal democratic party documents that had been stolen by russian hackers. fake social media profiles pushing divisive story lines and attempting to drive support for trump. thousands of russian bought online ads targeting and trying to sway millions of american voters. and alongside those revelations, time and again, previously unreported meetings between trump associates and russians linked to the putin government. both during the campaign and during the presidential transition. >> a storm of controversy swirling around national security advisor michael flynn. >> we're staying with breaking news that donald trump's attorney general met with the russian ambassador. >> jared kushner met with the
6:46 pm
russian ambassador in secret. >> in response, the president would invert the revelations about russia flooding propaganda and disinformation into the campaign. he flipped that. he denounced main stream american journalism as fake news. >> the leaks are absolutely real. the news is fake. because so much of the news is fake. >> by late january, the white house had been warned that the president's national security advisor michael flynn had been compromised by his undisclosed contacts with the russian app ba -- app bass tore. in february flynn resigned. in march attorney general jeff session was forced to admit he also had unreported meetings with the russian ambassador. >> i decided to recuse myself of further investigations. >> in may, the president fired fbi director james comey into
6:47 pm
whether the trump campaign colluded with russia. senate minorityminority leader schumer. >> i told the president, mr. president with all due respect you're making a bignbc's lester holt, he said it was one reason for the firing. >> i decided to myself, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story. >> under oath, comey would later testify on four separate occasions the president had pressured him over the russia investigation. it led to a special counsel former fbi director robert mueller. in march 2017, after two months of hiding, christopher steele
6:48 pm
eventually reemerged. >> i'm really pleased to be back here working again at the offices in london today. >> but he left it to others to vl solve the puzzle his dossier created. >> just to add i won't be making any further statements or comments at this time. thank you so much. >> true to his word, steel stayed out of the public eye but has reportedly been interviewed by the investigators working for special counsel robert mueller and in a november 2017 book by luke harding, a reporter for the guardian newspaper, harding says steel has told friends that he believes his dossier is 70 to 90% accurate and will be vindicated by muller's investigation. steel sa steele said quote, i've been dealing with this country for 30 years. why would i invent stuff. more than a year after the presidential election, steele's memos are an object of fierce
6:49 pm
controversy. some have been verified. a number remain neither verified or proven false but none so far have been publicly disproven. the ranking democrat on the intelligence committee in the house is california congressman adam schiff. >> when you look at just what has become public, some of the public information is very much in line with what is reported in that dossier. >> msnbc john mclaughlin spent 40 years studying the counter espionage. he said while the broad themes of the dossier seem to be bearing out, collusion is a hard thing to prove. >> if you're looking at the fact pattern we have here involving a number of figures in the trump administration having had one interaction or another with the russians whether financial or otherwise. you know, if you're in the intelligence business, that still amounts to smoke. >> it may be only smoke, but there seems to be a lot of it
6:50 pm
billowing up from places that christopher steele first pointed out in 2016. (amanda vo) i adopted scrappy on a fluke. and he totally has a super-power. didn't know i was allergic to ibuprofen. and i had fallen asleep... (scrappy barks) (amanda) he was totally freaked out, digging and pawing at me. and when i woke up i realized that i was in anaphylaxis and went to the emergency room. i don't know what i would do if he wasn't there. he's the best boy. (vo) through the subaru share the love event, we've helped the ascpa save nearly forty thousand animals so far. get a new subaru and we'll donate two hundred fifty dollars more to help those in need. (amanda) ♪ put a little love in your heart. ♪ i've always had that issue with the seeds getting under my denture. super poligrip free. it creates a seal of the dentures in my mouth. just a few dabs is clinically proven to seal out more food particles. try super poligrip free. ♪
6:51 pm
anyone ever have occasional y! constipation,diarrhea, gas or bloating? she does. she does. help defend against those digestive issues. take phillips' colon health probiotic caps daily
6:52 pm
with three types of good bacteria. 400 likes? wow! try phillips' colon health.
6:53 pm
it began as a hunch, a feeling among donald trump's political opponents that his frequent praise of vladimir putin -- >> i respect putin. he's a strong leader, i can tell you that. >> -- might be based on something more than mutual addoration. >> putin did call me a genius and he said i'm the future of the republican party. >> that was was christopher steel was hired to check out. now nearly a year after he fired hez last report, his dossier has become virtually a road map for anyone investigating the trump campaign and the russia role.
6:54 pm
according to sources the kremlin had been feeding trump and his team valuable information on his opponents including on hillary clinton for several years. we now know at least nine trump associates had contacts with russian officials during the campaign or the transition. meetings haebed in new york, in washington, in europe, in russia. former trump advisor carter page has now told congressional investigators that despite his previous denials, he did meet with high ranking russians in moskow in july 2016. christopher feel had reported this much at the time in the dossier. >> he's been forced to acknowledge that he had incounters with senior russian officials. now, he continues to this was meaningless and it wasn't about collusion and the thingsserted in the dossier are not true. but nonetheless the account has significantly changed from when we first heard about this trip.
6:55 pm
>> what is now the notorious trump campaign russia meeting happened in june 2016 at trump tower. donald trump, jr., paul manafort, and the president's son-in-law, jared kushner, pet with a group of russians with kremlin connections. a now public e-mail exchange shows that. one e-mail read, this is part of russia and its government's support for mr. trump. the president's son, son-in-law, and former campaign chairman have all denied that anything of significance happened at that meeting. here's what donald trump, jr. said about it on fox news. >> i can't help what somebody sends me. i read it, i responded accordingly. >> the trump people refused in a lot of ways to recognize the significance of this. when revelations and disclosures
6:56 pm
come out like this it's just the tip of the iceberg. and this was the tip of the iceberg, that iceberg must be damn big. >> point one, like steel had said, russia had been feeding information to russia and his team. point two, according to steel sources the russians hoped their election meddling would shift u.s. policy consensus on ukraine. we know now at the republican national convention in ohio the trump campaign intervened to soften the language of support for ukraine in the republican party platform. and we know once they won the election, they did take action on russia's sanctions. >> the sanctions are really biting the russian economy. it remains an angle of the
6:57 pm
russian government to get those lifted. >> we know now as soon as they arrived in washington, they directed the state department to start working on plans to lift the russian sanctions. senior department personnel pushed back alerting both capitol hill and the press. >> what was concerning to those state department officials who talked to our colleagues, they felt this was not in the best interest of the u.s. and was too premature to be concerned. >> steel's point two, the trump camp acting to help russia on both ukraine and on sanctions. point three, before u.s. intelligence agencies made public their conclusion that american democracy was under an orchestrated attack from russia, christopher steel had reported in the dossier, quote, kremlin behind recent appearance of dnc e-mails on wikileaks. the intelligence community now says that is true. we also now know that the russian hack of the dnc and the
6:58 pm
weaponization of stolen democratic e-mails through wikileaks, that was only part of the russian campaign to influence our election. >> russia was buying ads, setting up fake accounts using twitt twitter bots to push divisive messages. in favor of democratic opponents to hillary clinton in other areas. and what u.s. intelligence officials have said is this is the most sophisticated operation they've ever seen. >> point four, christopher steel reported that trump's campaign chair, paul manafort, was managing the trump campaign relations with the russians. we now know in october 2017 a federal grand jury indicted paul manafort and another top trump campaign officials on multiple accounts of money laundering, perjury and conspiracy against the united states. at the same time special counsel robert mueller also announced
6:59 pm
that a third trump campaign advisor, george papadopoulos, had pled guilty to lying about his own contacts with russian operatives. then a month later another person mentioned in the steel dossier pled guilty to lying. it was trump's former national security advisor michael flynn. flynn has agreed to become a cooperating witness in the mueller investigation. above all else we know this about the now famous dossier. christopher steel had this story before the rest of america did. and he got it from russian sources. and. whether or not the compromised, the alleged american/russia conspiracy and ever proven out, our understanding of what russia did and why and how well they did it and whether they had help, it's all still in its early stages. >> what is important is that the american public gets the truth, the full truth and nothing but
7:00 pm
the truth about what happened in our elections in 2016. >> it took an ex'british spy to give us our first look into what moskow might have been up to. american investigators and journalists and prosecutors will now have to fill in the rest of the picture. good evening. i'm lawrence o'donnell, and this is tonight's "last word." there is breaking news on the special prosecutor's investigation involving the white house staffer who has spent the most time with president trump. white house communications director hope hicks. she's a 29-year-old former model who worked for the trump family in public relations before donald trump ran for president. like most trump campaign staffers, she would not have been hired by any other presidential campaign. here's how donald trump introduced her last december to a rally audience