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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  December 29, 2017 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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he is heading into 2018 with the fate of the presidency in his hands. >> and just been told that we have had cameras on us while we have had this conversation the whole time. thank you very much for joining us. >> good night. thank you for joining us this hour, and nice to have you here. we have a special report tonight on a story that we have been workingn for a long time. going for a year and half, we have been digging into the russian attempt and not just toer interfere in the last election, but to 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 the tried to influence our election. two members of the president's campaign, including the former national security adviser have plead giuilty to lying about
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their contacts with the russians fwoushg night, we are going to take a step back to an intriguing and in many ways prescient document at the heart of the trump/russia story. we will step back to look at the 35-page trump russia dossier, and depend ping upon the way that the wind is blowing, the news in this document can sound outlandish or freakishly spot-on. where can did this dossier come from and what can did we learn from it, and what does it yett have to say. this is some of what we have learned. >> are there any russians here to might? any russians? >> they have conducted watergate 2.0. [ speaking foreign language ] >> this fake dossier was made up. >> i don't use the term dossier, because these were field reports. >> is there something here that i hacould verify? >> i call it the russian hoax.
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>> it is all fake news. >> i am not involved with russia. the president of the united 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 russian connections christopher steel would seem like the perfect fit. >> he can tell you off of the top of his head the leading members of the russian mafia and the people who have influence in the kremlin and so on. >> nigel west knows christopher steel, and he is a writer and historian whose specialty is british intelligence, and west says that steel is mi-6's man in
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moscow in the early 1990s. >> and thereafter, he ended his career as the head of the tranche of training the head of to offices, and that is an important role. >> and then he started this intelligence service here in this building. they specialized in getting deep targeted intel on foreign countries they were dealing with. steel's specialty was russia. >> i have listened to his presentations, what he calls the claptocracy, and this is the putin regime and the way it has been effectively looting the former soviet union, and he is the go-to guy if there is anybody who would want to conduct due diligence investigations, because he knows every personality. >> jonathan winer is a former deputy assistant of state for law enforce mmt the clinton
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administration the. he says that he first met christopher steel in washington in 2009. >> he knew more about russian organized crime, russian financial crime, russian money lau ing, russian corruption than i do, and i know quite a bit. >> reporter: he provided reports inside of putin's colleagues to the people inside of the state department. >> the people working russia valued the the reports. they felt they were well sourced. they felt they were remarkably timely. >> in the state department was not the only u.s. agency to rely on christopher steel. >> i understood that he had a relationship with the fbi relat te ing to the fifa soccer scandal and had been a significant source for them in makes cases in that e area. >> in 2016 though, the americans called christopher steel weren't fbi agents. the call he got in 2016 was from a small washington research firm called fusion gps.
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fusion gps was founded by former "wall street journal" reporters. this is how one of fusion's founders glenn simpson described his company's mission when he spoke at a 2009 symposium on investigative reporting at the university of california at berkeley. >> we are hoping that people who have an interest in bringing things outs do something about corruption and fraud will come to us, and they don't necessarily have to have completely pure motives and frequently, there is people who are in business and they are sick of competitors who cheat, and they want to see things exposed, and that is sort of the model for our new project. >> fusion had first been hired by a conservative website called the washington free beacon, and that website and its funders were opposed to donald trump in the republican primarieses. >> i hear they are all going after me. whatever. whatever. no, i hear it. >> once trump appeared to clinch
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the nomination, the conservative funders at the free beacon lost interest in the trump project, but soon, new clients agreed to pay for fusion's research, the democratic national committee and hillary clinton. >> friends don't let friends vote for trump. >> a first, fusion concentrated on his business career and ka see enos and the multiple business bankruptcies. >> i have used the laws of the country to make deals for myself. >> but they soon realized that trump's organizations did business with russians and at times when his businesses may have been strapped for cash. >> he is experiencing extreme financial difficulties in june of 2008. >> james henry is economist, lawyer an investigative journalist who has written extensively about post soviet russia and donald trump's russian connections. >> the only way he survives is by calling on the news sources of capital and money pours out
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of places like russia or kazakhstan or azerbaijan. >> there was nothing illegal about it, but the people at fusion thought there might be more so they went looking for somebody who knew rush shar and had sources in russia like christopher steel. >> i knew that he had a project with russia implicating contacts between russians and people associated with president trump's campaign, candidate trump's campaign. >> steel has barely started his investigation 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 that russia was behind it. >> this is a clear espionage attempt by the russian
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government to steal information about the u.s. political process. >> malcolm nance is a former naval intelligence officer and msnbc contributor and he wrote "the plot to hack america" about russ russia's meddling in the 2016 electi election. >> putin puts russia as the number one super power in the world even though it is economically on par with italy, but to do it, you can use soft power or use what we call the hybrid warfare which is a melange of the political warfare and propaganda and ununiformed special operations, and 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 russian hacking, christopher steel sent his first report to fusion gps.
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it was the very first page of the very first memo that set the tone for all of the memos and all of the controversy that followed. steel wrote on the first page, quote, the russian regime has been cultivating and assist iin ap supporting trump for at least five years. the aim endorsed by putin has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance. according to steel's unnamed sources, trump's innerccepted a intelligence from the kremlin. and steel also went on the say that russia had enough embarrassing material on the now republican presidential candidate to blackmail him if they so wished. steel's memo asserted that some of russia's alleged embarrassing material on trump had been gathered in 2013 when trump brought the miss universe pageant to moscow. >> the first runner-up is spain!
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>> than you shgk you, moscow. that is the first of the slay shouse christopher steel claims. when that memo became public, that claim was public but it is steel's broader aims and relations and methods and relationship with trump that would end up slow burning through the first year of the trump presidency. ♪ one is the only number ♪ that you'll ever need ♪ staying ahead isn't about waiting for a chance. ♪ because one is... it's about the one bold choice you make that moves you forward. ♪ ...that you ever need the one and only cadillac escalade. come in for our season's best offers and drive out with the perfect 2017 cadillac escalade for you. get this low mileage lease from around $899 per month. ( ♪ )
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for 20 years, christopher steele 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, steele felt at the russians intended to meddle in the upcoming election, the fbi should know about it. >> that is the kind of thing the fbi needs to know and to assess
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professionally, impartially in order to protect our country. that's how i felt about it. i believe that's how mr. steele felt about it. >> in late june with the permission of his clients at fusion, christopher steele 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 steele was a known quantity to the bureau and they were interested in what he had to say about trump and russia. after that first meeting the bureau told steel they wanted more, and steele promised to keep them in the loop. weeks later on july 19th, 2016,
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steele sent off the second trump memo. this was the headline, russia secret kremlin meetings attended by trump advisor carter page in moscow. according to steele 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 pro-putin politicians. >> what really started to give the russia story some traction was paul manafort's role. >> michael isikoff is a veteran
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writer and investigative reporter that writes for yahoo! news. trump put manafort in charge of 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 who were fighting russian intervention in their country. >> from isa kshkoff's perspecti that was red flag number two. >> then you had michael flynn who was emerging as perhaps the
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chief foreign policy national security advisor to the trump campaign. >> lock her up. that's right. that's right. lock her up. >> 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 bureau, so ask them. >> it is like, what is going on here? everybody knows what is going on here, and the speaker's bureau is a conduit and takes a cut to set 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 presidency of the united states.
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[ cheers ] >> the final red flag came on the day after donald trump accepted 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 hadn'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 whole tranche of information the first thing i thought a is that this is an old-style kgb political warfare operation, but it has been modernized with computer technology, and that they have conducted watergate 2.0, and successful watergate. >> soon after the wikileaks dump, christopher steel filed another trump memo, quote, russian regime behind the leak
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of embarrassing messages 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 intermediaries. 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. the rumor was that russia had something compromising on trump there. were whispers in the d.c. reporting circles about a sex tape of prosecutes at the
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ritz-carlton in moscow. >> 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. fresh soaps. and of course, tripadvisor's freshest, lowest... ...prices. so if you're anything like me...
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that gives you coverage here, here and here. and it even let's you take a timeout. nooooooo! yes! amazing speed, coverage and control. all with an xfi gateway. >> we love you, donald. on october 7th, 2016 the presidential campaign entered the final stretch when three
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stories broke within minutes of each other. the first came at 3:30 eastern time that afternoon when the director of national intelligence issued a statement declaring for the first time that the russian government was behind the dnc hack and the weaponization of the stolen e-ma e-mails and the wikileaks dump of those documents was part of a russian government operation order ordered at the highest level will. >> this statement is very dramatic. it says that the u.s. intelligence community is confident that the russian government directed e-mails from americans and u.s. institutions including u.s. political organizations. >> just 30 minutes later, "the washington post" seizes the news cycle when it posted the now notorious "access hollywood"
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tape. >> this coming in the last few seconds. nbc news has just became aware of a video capturing donald trump making vulgar comments 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 podesta. >> 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
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steele. >> i was able to do some research on him and final out at 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 steele 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 steele's memos, david corn started calling his own sources. malcolm nance was one of them. >> david corn, the first one to receive the christopher steele dossier contacted me and he
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wanted to ask me some questions about how do you evaluate this information? >> after doing his own due diligence, corn arranged to do an interview via skype with christopher steele 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 steele 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 salacious ones, because even donald trump is owed a degree of fairness, but just for journalistic integrity, you don't want to reportalgations about anyone that you can't verify that aren't u true. >> still, corn believed that steele's reputation and the f
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fbi's interest in the broader outline outlines of steele's story gave it 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 the public's first glimpse of a story that a handful of reporters had been 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 clinton's use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state.
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>> 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. i am totally blind. and non-24 can make me show up too early... or too late. or make me feel like i'm not really "there." talk to your doctor, and call 844-234-2424.
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in the dwindling days 2016, president-elect donald trump went about choosing his cabinet and his white house staff. david corn's october scoop about the trump memos from the western spy, that was long forgotten, until ten days before the inauguration. that story came roaring back. when cnn reported that both president obama and president-elect trump had been briefed by the intelligence community on a two-page summary of the christopher steele dossier.
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>> the information was provided as parts of last week's intelligence briefings regard ing the russian efforts to undermine the u.s. election. >> that report set off alarm bells in the new york offices of buzzfeed news. as true in other organizations, reporters at buzzfeed had obtained a copy of christopher steele's memos. >> we looked for things that were 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 in some cases at the very highest levels of government, and you could see important decision-makers making decisions about how they are relating to the administration and thinking about russia and are explained by this piece of dark matter. >> ben smith and others thought it was time to let their
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audience in on what was fast the worst-kept secret in washington. >> the question we ask ourselves is why would we keep this from the audience? >> at 5:30 p.m., january 10th, buzzfeed 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 we haven't verified this. there are as you say some minor or real errors in it that could give you pause, and here is what we know about where it comes from. >> it was explosive stuff and not just the lewd allegation b through were other serious charges and named name d in blak and white. the public was seeing it all for the first time. according to the dossier's unnamed sources campaign manager paul manafort managed a conspiracy of cooperation with the russians.
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foreign policy advisor carter page served as an intermediary 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 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 insisted he had 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
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never even been to prague, and though it is common to travel in europe without getting a passport stamped in every country visited, the passport tweet was touted 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 cohen. >> 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 other journalists
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for having published admittedly unverified allegations. >> are you knowingly spreading false information. >> with the obama birth certificate, this is an incredibly difficult balance. everybody in our business navigates everyday. >> because buzz feed did not redact 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 reports compiled by former british spy christopher steele and published by buzz feed.
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>> 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 a matter of public record and
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of fierce political controversy, the core question remained, were the allegations in it true? the intelligence professionals like former british officer wondered if steele had been fed 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% that 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 beginning. deny everything.
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dimitri is putin's press secretary. >> but i can ensure you that the allegations in those -- in this funny paper in this 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 some of the allegations were starting to bear out under scrutiny and thus began an unprecedented national security scandal that threatened to end a presidency as it was just beginning.
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>> 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 russian ambassador in secret.
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>> 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 ambassador. in february flynn resigned. >> national security adviser michael flynn is out. >> in march, attorney general jeff sessions was forced to admit that 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
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the man who had been leading the counter intelligence investigation as to whether the trump campaign had colluded with russia. senate minority leader chuck schumer. >> the president called me and told me that he had fired fbi director combmy. i told the president, mr. with all due respect, you are making a big mistake. he said it is 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 taking the reins, former fbi director robert mueller. in march 2017, after two months of hiding, christopher steele eventually reemerged.
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>> i'm really pleased to be back here working again at the offices in london today. >> but he left it to others to 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 steele has told friend tas -- friends that he believes that his dossier is 70 to 90% accurate and that it will be vindicated by mueller's investigation. steele said quote, i have 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 controversy. some elements of the dossier have been verified.
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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 analyzing the dark art of ocounter 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 billowing up from places that christopher steele first pointed
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out in 2016.
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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 admiration. >> putin did call me a genius and said i'm the future of the republican party. >> that's what christopher steele was hired to check out. now more than a year after his last report, the dossier has been a virtual road map for anyone investigating the trump campaign and russia's role in our 2016 election, and here's why. point one.
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according to steele's sources, the kremlin had been feeding trump and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including democratic presidential candidate hillary clinton for several years. >> a new link has surfaced between the president's name sake and a russian lawyer. >> we now know at least nine trump associates had contacts with russian officials during the campaign or the transition. meetings happened in new york, in washington, in europe, in russia. former trump adviser carter page has told congressional investigators that despite his previous denials, he did meet with high-ranking russians in moscow in july 2016. christopher steele had reported as much. at the time in the dossier. >> been forced to acknowledge he had encounters with senior russian officials continuing to say it was meaningless and wasn't about collusion and the things in the dossier are not true, but nonetheless, the
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account has significantly changed from the first time we heard about this trip. >> what is now the most notorious trump campaign/russia meeting happened in june 2016 at trump tower. donald trump jr., paul manafort the president's son-in-law jared kushner met with a group of russians with kremlin connections. a now e-mail chain shows that they accepted the meeting on the understanding that they would be be given russian government provided dirt on hillary clinton. one e-mail read that this is part of russia and its government 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 jr. said about it on fox news. >> i can't help what someone sends me. i read it. i responded accordingly. if there was something interesting there, it is pretty common. >> the trump people, you know, refuse in lot of ways to recognize the significance of this. when revelations and disclosures come out like this, it's the tip of the iceberg. this was the tip of the iceberg, the iceberg is damn big.
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>> a russian lawyer who attended natalia vesless sky ya says that donald trump jr. indicated his father's administration would consider lifting economic sanctions on russia if he won the presidency. so point one, like steele had said, russia had been feeding information to trump and his team. point two, according to steele's sources, the russians hoped their election meddling should shift u.s. policy consensus on ukraine. we know now at the republican national convention in ohio, the trump campaign intervened to soften the tone of support in the republican party platform and once they won the election they did take action on russian sanctions. nbc's ken delaney. >> it's biting the russian economy. it remains a main goal of the
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russian government to get those lifted. >> we now know that as soon as the trump administration arrived in washington, they directed the state department to start working on plans to lift the russian sanctions. senior state department personnel pushed back alerting both capital hill and the press. >> what was concerning to those state department officials who talked to our colleagues is that they felt that this was not in the best interest of the u.s. and was too premature to be considered. >> steele's point one, intel from russia to the trump camp. steele'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 steele 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 weaponization of stolen democratic e-mails through
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wikileaks, that was only part of the russian campaign to influence our election. >> russia was buying ads, setting up fake accounts using twitter bots to push divisive messages. fueled fake news. they were designed to drive turnout in favor of trump in some areas, and in favor of democratic opponents of hillary clinton in some areas, and officials have said that it is the most sophisticated information operation they have ever seen. >> christopher steele reported that paul manafort was managing the trump campaign's relationship with the russians. we now know that in october 2017 a federal grand jury indicted paul manafort and another top trump campaign official on multiple counts of money laundering, perjury and conspiracy against the united states. at that same time, special counsel robert mueller also announced a third trump campaign
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adviser george papadopoulos had plead gill toy lying about contacts with russian operatives. then a month later, another person mentioned in the steele dossier pled guilty to lying. it was trump's former national security adviser 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 steele had this story before the rest of america did. and he got it from russian sources. and whether or not the compromise, the alleged american-russian conspiracy at the heart of steele's narrative is 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 the truth about what happened in our elections in 2016.
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>> it took an ex-british spy to give us a first look into what moscow might have been into. 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 "the last word's" special last word of the year. it was a year like no other. rachel will join us and ezra klein to talk about the study of the impeachment process w. the white house occupied by the least experienced pthd in history, what could possibly go wrong? >> this american carnage stops right here, right now. >> this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration period. >> this is off to a terrible start. >> he's now accusing president obama of wiretapping his phones.