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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  January 16, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

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clinton. he got i'm peempeached and this has 19 or 20 women that say he attacked them. >> we'll see if there is a nexus between them and non-disclosure agreements signed for things that were not consensual. thank you both for joining us. before we go, a few other people, the few people i need to thank to joy reid not only for taking such great care of this show in my absence but for giving me the time to spend with my new daughter onya. that's her. the last two weeks have been total bliss from helping ryan with her homework and watching "star wars" with david who insists i only speak in darth vader voice to see them embrace their new sister. the time has been invaluable to them and kate who is the most valuable and amazing spouse i could ever know. thank you. t"the rachel maddow show" start now. good evening. >> chris, we missed you terribly. seeing those pictures of onya
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and knowing you've had this time, your family is like over subscribed on adorableness. >> they are great. >> and you have to pay some of that back and spread some of that around. congratulations to you. >> thanks a lot. glad to be back. >> thanks to you at home for being with us. lots going on in the news tonight. i'm very glad you're here. i'll try to get through all of it. i have a feeling this will be one of those ten-pound shows in a five-pound bag. but we will try to get through everything that we can. there is lots going on. there is breaking news two u.s. navy commanders are being charged with neg janligent homi with the two crashes of navy destroyers that happened in june and august. involving merchant ships and the u.s.s. face gerald and u.s.s. john mccain killed 17 navy sealers between them. the face geraitzgerald hit a ta.
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those were both crashes where these navy destroyers hit ships more than three times larger than themselves. those crashes have already ended the career of the chief of the navy's seventh fleet and the top surface war fair officer for the navy is expected to lose his job over those collisions. tonight, this dramatic development, the commanders will reportedly face a long list of serious charges including hazarding a vessel and homicide, negligent homicide. there is also some dramatic breaking news tonight concerning the central intelligence agency. back in may, "the new york times" had some dramatic and even a little bit scary reporting about how the chinese government somehow blew open the cia's whole spying operation inside china. the cia, of course, spies on countries all over the world including china, all countries
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with robust intelligence operations do that whether you like it or not. but somehow starting in 2010, china basically started figuring out everybody who was part of america's spy network in china. everybody secretly informing for the u.s. or working for u.s. intelligence inside china in lots of different capacities. the chinese government started wrapping up that network, arresting these people inprisoning them in at least a dozen cases. the u.s. assets or agents or informants inside china were not just unmasked but killed. they were executed. at least a dozen people. that penetration of america's spy network in china was considered to be one of the worst espionage failures in years and it started what they call a mole hunt inside the cia. was there somebody inside the cia that betrayed in china the names operating on our behalf in
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that country. tonight is the news a lot of people have been waiting for in this story, it is a very dramatic development, a former cia officer suspected of helping china identify the agency's inform pani informants in that country have been arrested. they unsealed the case against him. he worked at the cia until 2007 and since been living in hong kong. he appears to have made what is now can be seen as a bad decision to come back to the united states because he was arrested at jfk and has been charged. again, this is a case that this is believed to be connected to more than a dozen people who were working as inform panants the cia and china being killed. that's a dramatic development. we have sketchy reporting since this indictment was unsealed,
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this will be flushed out in coming days. keep an eye on that story. today in washington d.c., the president's campaign manager and deputy campaign manager was back in court for a status confere e conference. both paul manafort and gates are facing multiple felony charges brought by robert mueller who is investigating the russia intervention in the election and the question whether or not the trump campaign was in on it. at the status conference in washington d.c. mr. gates, rick gates was released from house arrest by the judge overseeing both of their cases. that said, paul manafort was not released from house arrest. awkwardly, paul manafort's lawyers asked if there was anyway he could be given special permission by the judge to leave his home, to go to a nearby gym to work out every day. the judge hearing that request from paul manafort's lawyers said no. told paul manafort's lawyers although she confined him to his
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house, she had not confined him to his couch. i kid you not. presumably this means we'll see a republican fundraiser in washington where they try to crowd, fund a nortic track. speaking of people that ran the donald trump for president campaign, the man who ran the campaign before paul manafort was corey lewandowski. he secured legal representation in advance of mr. lewandowski's house intelligence meeting. corey lewandowski's lawyer is most famous for representing ruth madoff in that famous multi billion-dollar bonzi scheme. to tell you the crazy day, consider the fact there were three people that ran the donald trump for president campaign. the first one was corey lun dieb
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d -- lewandowski and the third person who ran the trump campaign after lewandowski and manafort got fired, the third one was steve bannon and boy, has he had an unusual day today. you know, if you gcalled for juy duty, that means you're being called to potentially sit on a jury for a trial and in terms of your commitment and what you have to tell your boss, basically if you get picked for the jury, however long that trial lasts, that's how long you'll be on jury duty and away from work. when it ends, you'll get thanked by the judge and if it's hot you can sell the story to the tabloid but you're done after the trial is done. that's regular jury duty for a trial duty. the legal name for a trial jury is a petite jury and that is to legally differentiate it, i think that's how you say it.
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that's how you say it if it's on a french restaurant menu. petit? i don't know. the idea is to distinguish it from a grand jury, small jury on the trial, grand jury, big jury, not in the trial court. you can get summoned for jury duty to be part of a trial jury and you can get summoned to be part of grand jury and that really is a different thing. grand juries don't decide at a trial whether a person who has been charged with a crime is guilty or innocent of that crime. grand juries decide if a person is going to have charges brought against them in the first place. so grand juries work with the prosecutor on whether or not somebody will be charged. the prosecutor brings a grand jury evidence. they have people testify to the grand jury and then based on the grand juror's evaluation of the facts and evidence as put forward by the prosecutor, the grand jury decides if somebodyi. there are ways a federal grand jury operates.
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that's the basic truth of it. if you get called to be on a grand jury, what you're being asked to do, the commitment you're being asked to make is different if you're on a trial jury. if you end up on a grand jury, your boss may be happier or maybe even more annoyed than if you're on a trial jury, depending the job you do and how your boss likes you. on a trial jury, you have a specific but really intense commitment. if you're on a trial jury, you need to be there in the courtroom for the whole trial. minute one, hour one, day one until the trial is all the way over. you need to be there for every second. but then after the trial ends, you're sprung. on a grand jury, you don't need to be there every day. it's not as intense a commitment. but you do serve for months and months at a time. you can serve on a grand jury for up a 18 months but it's nowhere near every day. as a general matter, you have to be there, say, a few days a month. so depending on your relationship with your boss and
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the job you have, grand jury duty versus trial jury duty, it's just a different kind of commitment. trial juries have between six and 12 people on them. grand juries have between 16 and 23 people on them. i think the way it works is they are supposed to have 23 on a grand jury and 16 of them need to be there at any one time in order to have a cdecision. if you're on a grand jury, one thing they will impress upon you are all of the proceedings are secret and that is a serious, serious thing. everything that happens within the grand jury room is a secret. i've never been on a grand jury. try showing up for jury duty some day and telling them you work on cable news and see how well that goes over. as i understand it, if you are on the grand jury, prosecutors basically have the responsibility of explaining the law to you as it pertains to this potential case you're considering. but then once you've had those finer points of the law explained to you by the
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prosecutors, as a grand juror you kind of get leeway to make up your own mind about whether there should be an indictment or not. within reason but you get a lot more room to maneuver than you would if you were just a jury sitting on a trial. on the grand jury, for example, you as a grand jury get to come up with questions for the witnesses that the prosecutors bring before you. you and your fellow members of the grand jury, you're the ones who get to request specific documents that you want to see, specific evidence that you want brought before you. you get a witness in to testify before you, that witness doesn't get to have a lawyer with him or her in the room. they can have a lawyer outside the room who they can run out and consult with but when that witness is sitting there in front of you, the grand juror answering questions and have to answer your questions, that witness is sitting there alone, facing you, random member of the public who has been put on this grand jury. no judge in the room. they are talking to you.
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if you're not a lawyer, not a lawyer, i've always -- this is always been a -- this is fascinating and somewhat mysterious a part of the systems. for those of us that aren't lawyers, we seen how they operate. we have a sense how that works in the trial. if you're on a trial jury, nobody asks you to request eviden evidence. you have a lot of responsibility. it's a little daunting to be on a grand jury, right? ill m imagine if you're being asked to testify. think about that. you're being called as a
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witness. you can't have a lawyer in the room with you. this can be 16 to 23 citizens who aren't lawyers and can ask you anything you want and if you're a witness before a grand jury, you must answer all of their questions. the only way to say no is if you invoke your fifth amend the. unless you plead the fifth you have to answer everything they ask. it could be anything. it's random civilians who have been put on grand jury that are questioning you and even though this is a secret proceeding treated seriously. this whole interaction that you have with the witness to the grand jury, it is transcribed and if you lie, that is criminal perjury and did i mention your lawyer cannot be in the room with you? >> in the special counsel election, he's been using a jury in washington d.c. and virginia,
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as well. so far the special counsel and prosecutors have persuaded the grand jury to bring charges jai against four people. the president's first national security advisor and a foreign polic policy advisor from the campaign. everybody is familiar with the four who have been charged or pled guilty. here is the pop quiz, who have the witnesses been? who has been called to testify before the grand jury so far in the mueller investigation? do you have a list in mind? right? special counsel, it's been months now assembling evidence, documents, witnesses, bringing them before the panels of 16 to 23 citizens so the grand jurors can decide. who have the witnesses been? who has been called to testify and subpoenaed and directed? if you can name six of sththem,
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i'll give you a dollar. based on publish reports, people that have been called to testify thus far are a former spokesman for paul manafort and a lawyer, you can subpoena a lawyer? also sam clovis who worked on the trump campaign who would be an official at the agriculture department who isn't but has white house role but nobody knows who it is. cater page was called to testify, trump campaign foreign policy adviser and one of the guys at the trump tower meeting. russian born fixer with ties to intelligence reportedly been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury. public relations firms who were at one point involved in
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overseas work with paul manafort. a p.r. consultant that worked with the lobbying firm. ist just according to cnn, somebody that worked at spear consulting. okay. and the last person we know about who has been directed to testify to the grand jury in the robert mueller investigation is of course, sezgin baran korkmaz. he was say pa kneubpoenaed, an of the guy that put mike flynn on the payroll. i can speculate and come up with what a grand jury might have wanted to get from each of those people in terms of evidence that might help them make a decision about an indictment.
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but that's just a weird list of people, right? team is that? that's a strange grown up. today it got a lot stranger because today it got a big name. today the latest person we can add to the odd group of people known to be subpoenaed to testify in the mueller investigation now includes the chief strategist, the guy that ran the campaign. steve bannon. this was first reported by michael schmidt. but here is some questions on the legal side of this. why subpoena steve bannon? why not do a voluntary or informal interview the way they have done with white house people and trump campaign people? based on public reporting, we believe everybody from the white
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house counsel don mcgahn to hope hicks to christopher steele to g george papadopoulos, there is a ton of people questioned by the mueller inquiry but didn't get a subpoena. they didn't get told to turn up as a witness. why is steve bannon the one and only senior trump advisor being treated this way and given a subpoena? does that nez scessary mean the asked him to do an interview and he refused? he says yet the subpoena could be a negotiating tactic. mr. mueller is likely to forgo the appearance if he agrees to be questioned by investigators in the less special setting. should we therefore see the subpoena as an indication they asked bannon to come in for an interview and he says no? is there a reason prosecutors
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might want to get him in front of the grand jury besides a negotiating tactic besides trying to give him a little shove and make him understand the seriousness of the matter? michael schmidt was first to report this story but this evening fox news confirmed it and published their own version of the story that concluded this somewhat strange line quote, sources told fox news bannon subpoena was issued after the fbi was unable to contact him. is that how this works? fbi wants to have a friendly chat and expect you to say yes. now it a subpoena? that seems weird. they couldn't contact him? steve bannon was kind of unavoidable for comment when it comes to the media. the fbi couldn't find him and so then he got a subpoena? i mentioned that steve bannon is having an unusual day today. that's not just because of this news about him being subpoenaed
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to testify before the grand jury but this news comes alongside the news of his other subpoena today. starting at 8:30 this morning, steve bannon went in to speak behind closed doors with the house intelligence committee. reported at fox news that the white house told steve bannon at this testimony today that he should not answer house intelligence committee questions about his time on the transition or working in the white house. after he refused to answer questions on those matters apparently based on the instruction, the committee reportedly issued him a subpoena on the spot in the room. compelling his testimony despite his initial refusal to answer questions. that reporting has now been backed up by sources. adam schiff came out of the room tonight and said after the subpoena was issued to him, steve bannon continued to refuse to answer questions despite the subpoena. if all this is is true, i have
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more questions. can you refuse to answer questions in the face of a subpoena? is it unusual for the white house to tell a white house advisor to say in the to answer questions for condition geegres? is it unusual they have a say p -- subpoena ready to go for him in the room and why did both of these things happen in the same day? right? i mean, twice. did one of these subpoenas that make the other one happen? did they tend to arrive in pairs? is one going to interfere with the other? is this more ordinarily than it seems? i have exactly the right person here in studio next to explain this and michael schmidt who broke this story hours before anyone else got near it. stay with us. pssst. what? i switched to geico and got more.
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mr. bannon who from the white house asked you to invoke privilege? how did the meeting go, mr. bannon. >> great? >> did they ask you? >> what did they ask you in that? >> what did they ask you in there, mr. bannon? >> great day, thanks, guys. >> i have to say special kudos to nbc camera man there for not just waiting out in the cold to get the shot but also managing to get off a few questions to mr. bannon who said great, great, thanks guys, great. he departed the capitol late
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tonight after nine and a half hours of what you might call testimony. he was in there along time but it was not apparently because he was busy answering their questions, at least that's according to members of congress who were in the room. after that marathon session, the top democrat on the committee adam schiff came out and briefed reporters on what happened there. >> we had a long day with mr. bannon today. it began by being informed by mr. bannon's counsel that as he was attending on a voluntary basis, he was going to decline to answer any questions concerning questions, meetings, conversations that took place during the transition or during his time in the administration. he was served with a subpoena during the curse of the interview. his counsel then conferred again with the white house and was instructed by the white house to refuse, again, to answer any questions even though he was
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under process concerning the period of time during the transition and administration. this wasfe effectively a gag orr preventing this witness from answering almost any question concerning his time in the transition or administration. if the white house is permitted to maintain that kind of a gag rule on a witness, no congressional administration could be effective. this can't stand. we expect to have mr. bannon back in soon with a different position because his position is completely unsustainable. >> adam schiff, top democrat, former trump campaign chief and chief strategists spent nine and a half hours behind closed doors having a fight whether or not he could answer questions about his time in the white house or transition. chuck rosenburg joins us now. he's a former u.s. attorney and chief of staff to james comey and the former acting head of the dea.
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mr. rosenburg, thank you for being here. appreciate it. >> my pleasure. >> there is a few legal matters here that i'm hoping you can help us understand me as a non-lawyer and the audience trying to figure out the importan importance. it's petit jury, not petite. >> i think petit. i took spanish in high school, i think petit. >> the grand jury works with prosecutors to decide whether or not to bring an indictment. >> you got that right. >> the petit, petite jury. >> they determine whether you're guilty or not guilty at trial. >> if there is this remarkable news first reported today by michael schmidt, steve bannon, former white house chief strategists has been subpoenaed to testify by the grand jury for the mueller investigation, if he appears before the grand jury as a witness, is it true he's
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compelled to answer their questions? you're not awill youllowed to o >> that's right, you have to answer any question asked of you. the way i did it, i would take all of their questions at the end of the session, anything that a member of the grand jury wanted to ask and screen it so i made sure they weren't going to ask something that intruded on attorney, client privilege. they are certainly awill yllowe ask questions. the witness has to answer it but the prosecutor will serve a screening function to make sure questions are appropriate. >> does the grant jud jury play role who gets brugt ought in as witness? >> they can. i would ask the grand jury after a witness left, did that make sense? do you feel like you need something more? are there things we can do to make this clearer to you? sometimes we would bring in
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whoever we thought we should bring in but often if you talk to the men and women, there is a great collective knowledge between these 23 people and listen to what they think is missing or what they want to hear. it can help drive your investigation. >> even though grand jury proceedings are secret and i know that's taken seriously. >> very serious. >> witnesses' testimony is transcribed and it's illegal to lie, correct? >> correct. >> it was suggested today and other reporting about the discussion about this reported subpoena today that the fact that steve bannon has been subpoenaed to testify to the grand jury should be seen as a clear indication he himself is not a target of the investigation, is that true? >> probably true. the u.s. attorney's manuel, we have a big manuel with lots of chapters and pages says you formally don't ask a target of an investigation to testify. >> okay. >> there are exceptions and a target could request the
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opportunity to testify. but normally in the main, that's correct, targets don't go before a grand jury. >> if you were going to issue a witness a subpoena to come testify to the grand jury, how much advance notice would you give them? >> a day or two. there is a fourth with subpoena, which is very rarely issued, which i would give to you here and require you the come with me right now to testify. that's the exception. normally you try to give people time to get counsel if they don't have one so they can prepare. you try to do it in sort of a thoughtful way. >> one of the unusual things about this news and the reason i spent so much time in the a black block going through the context of this is because i'm quite sure we don't know all the people who have been subpoenaed to testify to the grand jury. we do know a fairly substantial list, though, based on public reporting. i gather thattens witnesses themselves are not precluded from confirming they have been
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called to be witnesses. >> in fact, they can come out on the courthouse steps and hold a press conference. they don't typically do that. >> their choice. >> the grand jury secrecy rules apply to the grand jurors, prosecutors, the folks that work in the courthouse but not to the witness. >> we know about some witnesses that have been called. it's a list that doesn't have a lot of people on it that look like steve bannon in terms of his role in the campaign and white house. therefore i'm trying to figure out why he got subpoenaed. lots of people that look like him were brought in for interviews. hope hicks, reince priebus. what do you make of the fact he's been subpoenaed rather than doing a voluntary interview. >> two primary possible reasons. he didn't agree to a voluntary interview. i ask if you're willing to be interviewed and you say no thank you. it's within your right. reason number one. reason number two, i think this
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is a really important prosecutors often put in front of a grand jury people they don't think will tell the truth. i'm about to become an old guy telling war stories. i had a drive by and the question was whether or not the girlfriend saw a gun in the glove box. when we interviewed her she admitted the seeing it. interviewed her again she admitted to seeing it but we had a bad feeling she wouldn't tell the truth on the stand. in the grand jury she admitted to seeing it. consistent, consistent, consistent. at trial she denied seeing it. >> just like you suspected. >> just like we thought. the fact we locked her in, obtained her testimony under oath in the grand jury meant we could use it, the grand jury testimony as substantive proof of what she actually saw. >> even though she wasn't willing to say it in trial? >> correct. >> that's very helpful. chuck rosenburg, every time you come on this she i learn a lot
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and you help me understand things better than when you were here. i appreciate it. >> former u.s. attorney. former acting head of the dea, i guy i can't believe we can get to come on the show but don't tell him. we'll be right back. cable. just like some people like pre-shaken sodas. having their seat kicked on an airplane. being rammed by a shopping cart. sitting in gum. and walking into a glass door. but for everyone else, there's directv. for #1 rated customer satisfaction over cable, switch to directv and get a $200 reward card. call 1-800-directv. you or joints. something for your heart... but do you take something for your brain. with an ingredient originally found in jellyfish, prevagen is the number one selling brain-health supplement in drug stores nationwide. prevagen. the name to remember.
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until the answered and we'll resolve those issues to get the answers to our questions and stay tuned. >> so is he going to come back to the committee? the subpoena stays in effect and we'll get the answers from mr. bannon we didn't get answered today. >> the subpoena discussed there by mike conway. that was one of two subpoenas that we learned about regarding steve bannon. the other, of course, was from special counsel robert mueller. michael schmidt reported mr. ban none was reported to just not only hand over documents but personally testify before a grand jury condition veined by the special kucounsel. this is the first time he was known to use a grand jury subpoena to compel testimony. joining us now is a man who broke the story, michael schmidt. thanks for joining us. congratulations on the big scoop. >> thanks for having me.
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>> before now, i'm observing this, it has seemed to me that we've only had a fairly random cast of characters confirmed as having been asked to testify before the grand jury by robert mueller. do we know, do you have further clr clarity why he has been taken in rather have an interview? >> we don't. that's the curious thing. in the last few months, a bunch on white house a officials met with mueller. they did so in his office. bannon was never among the people that were reported to have met with mueller. why had bannon got in and not heard about it and learn about the subpoena today and say wow, this is funny. he's treating bannon differently than everyone else. the thing that's changed since the end of last year is the book
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and the president's attacks on bannon. the president really has gone after him. he's threatened to sue him. he's criticized him and been a big fizz there. was mueller trying to protect bannon and basically give him some protection in the face of these criticisms and say look, you can come in and you're being compelled to testify, you have to tell me everything you know despite the fact everything is bearing down on you. >> the way you reported that, i was struck by the language. you reported today mr. mueller issued the subpoena after mr. b bannon was criticizing mr. trump. do you have any idea that the subpoena was sparked by the book? >> we don't know. at the end of the day, we don't know a lot about why mueller did this. sometimes grand jury say ubpoen
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that are ways to force witnesses to agrae ee to an interview. was that the case? we don't know. the book has very ex plplosive things. he thinks bannon's book will end in money laundering. if you're mueller, you want to know why steve bannon believes that. why does he think that will happen? and we don't know the depth and breath of everything mueller will ask him but stuff about the russian collusion. >> do you know if there is a relationship between the subpoena today and the subpoena issued to mr. bannon today inside the closed-door meeting room of the house intelligence committee? is there legal or strategy information? >> it seemed like a food fight. it was all going on behind closed doors.
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we know bannon tried to invoke executive privilege and they tried to subpoena him to get more. i dodn't think they were successful. i think they sited the fact he was not going to answer questions about the white house, time in the white house or time during the transition. i'm sure that was not satisfying to the committee and probably accused the white house of putting a gag order on him. i'm not sure what the game was here but i think at the end of the day, he spent a lot of time in there and everyone left unsatisfied. >> we're left with the question not only of this interesting dynamic between mr. bannon and the white house with the white house reportedly telling him not to testify, there is a subdynamic there that interesting, that advice came from the white house counsel don mccann, steve bannon's lawyer is serving as don mccann's lawyer in the investigation. that feels like an odd conflict
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and the possibility that there is a chance mr. bannon's testimony to the house intelligence committee might interfere with his testimony or with the integrity of his testimony to the mueller investigation now that we know for sure he'll be speaking to them, too. this just got very complicated and you broke a very big part of it. michael, thank you for being here to help us understand your reporting tonight. >> thanks for having me. a lot going on, i should tell you fox news reported in the last couple minutes that steve bannon will be returning to the intelligence committee the day after tomorrow. they said that they didn't finish with them today, they only recessed, apparently recess is over thursday afternoon. we'll be right back.
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assessment sparked what i think was a good question from dr. sanjay gupta. >> dr. jackson, he is taking a cholesterol lowering medication and has evidence of heart disease and borderline obese. can you characterize that as excellent health. >> based on his current cardiac study, his heart is healthy. those are all things we're looking at. >> we heard the president had a cognitive assessment as part of the physical, that's not usually included but dr. jackson explained he hadn't planned on giving a cognitive exam and didn't think one was warranted but the president requested it given speculation over his mental health. today dr. jackson reported that the president got 30 out of 30 on his cognitive assessment. dr. jackson was asked about the president's bone spurs, remember bone spurs were the basis for the president's deferments from serving in the military during
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vietnam. >> we didn't examine for bone spurs. he's not come to me complaining of that. >> behold. he's healed. dr. jackson said today that the president is in excellent health. he did not explain why the initial statement from the white house attesting to the president's attesting health misspelled his name but now we know. there you have it. >> he has incredible genes, i just assume. t to help. i was on my way out of this life. there are patients out there that don't have a lot of time. finally, it was like the sun rose again and i was going to start fighting back now. when those patients come to me and say, "you saved my life...." my life was saved by a two week old targeted therapy drug. that's what really drives me to- to save lives.
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we've got little bit of breaking news. all night this evening, we have been covering this remarkable day of breaking news about steve bannon, who is the president's former campaign chief who was also a senior strategist in the white house, which is a job title that never existed before him. steve bannon has been out of the white house since august. he's had a recently very contentious relationship with the president. and michael schmidt reported this morning at "the new york times" that bannon has now been given a subpoena by robert mueller and his special counsel investigation compelling bannon to testify to the grand jury in muellers a investigation that is very unusual. other senior white house officials have been doing voluntary interviews with mueller, getting a subpoena to testify to the grand jury, that is not something that somebody of the stature that steve bannon had in the campaign or the white house, nobody else has been subjected to that. that has been a very interesting
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and intriguing development particularly given the recent bad blood between bannon and the president. after that story broke today, steve bannon had an unusual development in his testimony at the house intelligence committee. he was due to testify today behind closed doors. he apparently was told by the white house that he should not answer the intelligence committee's questions even behind closed doors about his time in the white house transition or working in the white house itself after the inauguration. he was in that committee room for nine and a half hours, during which time the committee decided to issue him a subpoena there on the spot which would then compel him to answer their questions. at least theoretically. he apparently continued to refuse to answer them while he stayed there for nine and a half days. now betsy wood at the daily beast has broke some interesting new news on this story former
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white house chief strategist steve broke some bad news to house investigators today announcing that the white house invoked executive privilege to keep him from answering many of their questions. okay. but executive privilege will not keep steve bannon from sharing information with special counsel robert mueller's team. betsy woodruff cites a person familiar with the situation. that source who is familiar with bannon's thinking says, quote, mueller hear everything bannon has to say. huh? joining us by phone is betsy woodruff, daily beast politics reporter who just broke this story. betsy, thank you very much for joining us on zero notice. >> thanks for having me, rachel. >> so you're citing a source who is familiar with the situation and familiar with bannon's thinking as saying that what he did in the intelligence committee today, saying i'm invoking executive privilege. i'm not going to talk about my communications with the president or my time in the white house that cannot be used when he testifies in the mueller investigation? >> my understanding of this
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based on conversations that i have been having over the last few hours is as follows. executive privilege is something the white house and the president invoke themselves. so bannon is not the person who invokes that executive privilege. what i have been told is that the white house has specifically invoked executive privilege as it relates to these congressional inquiries, and we should not expect the white house to invoke that privilege as it relates to communications that bannon has with bob mueller. >> ah-ha. >> now, of course the obvious caution here is that kit be difficult to predict what this white house will do. but i'm confident enough in my sourcing that we decided to go ahead and move forward with this story tonight. the person who i spoke with is very much a credible, serious person. and we can say with total confidence that as of now, based on what we know, bannon is in a situation where he is ready to talk to mueller, and he is going to tell mueller things that today he did not tell congressional investigators. >> do we know anything about
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bannon, mr. bannon's state of mind when it comes to this president? obviously they've had a major conflict, a major falling out since he left the white house, particularly i in the last couple of weeks. is that what's motivating his strategy here? do we know anything in terms of having a source who is familiar with his thinking? do we know what he might tell mueller? >> what i've been told is that the question eof the indication of the executive privilege is not something where bannon has been able to make decisions for himself. it's up to the white house whether or not to invoke privilege. so essentially, the standoff that we with saw today, even though it was between bannon himself and members and staffers of the intelligence committee, in reality was between the white house and members of the intelligence committee. perhaps a little overdramatic to say that bannon is a pawn in this situation. but he is not a character whose acting. he see not making the decisions about what he can and can't tell people. and that's why i this executive privilege question which again
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is something the white house invokes is such an important one. one person i spoke with pointed out to me that executive privilege, an important part of how executive privilege works is based on the constitutional separation of powers theory. the idea that the executive branch should be walled off from the legislative branch. of course the house intelligence committee is part of the legislative branch while president trump is the white house and bob muler are all part of the executive branch. so one thing that a person who i have been chatting with over the evening highlighted is if the white house were to try to invoke executive privilege in a way that is related to bob mueller, the legal argument could be harder than it is for vis-a-vis congress. >> and betsy, to be clear, as far as we know, and i think i know the answer to this just based on other public reporting, the white house is not invoking executive privilege when it comes to the mueller inquiry. not just specific to steve bannon. the white house is not invoking
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executive privilege when it comes to the mueller inquiry full stop. they haven't invoked it with any of the witnesses or any of the documents they've been asked to hand over hat@this point? >> correct. that's my understanding. in fact, the president's legal team has been adamant for months now that they are fully cooperating with mueller. their public message and the message they share privately with reporters is they think mueller is somehow going to queer president trump's name. of course, that's tbd. but as of now, we are not seeing any sort of stiff-arm tactics from the white house towards mueller's team. >> betsy woodruff of daily beast, politics reporter there breaking an important development in this story just moments ago. betsy, thank you for helping us understand your reporting. i really appreciate you joining us. >> no problem. >> again, a day of dramatic developments. i will just highlight as we go here, i'm out of time. but i want to just highlight one thing i mentioned here earlier and maybe isn't getting much
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attention. it may get more in the coming days. that is steve bannon bragged for a long time he didn't need a lawyer in the russia investigation. he wasn't even bothering to get himself a lawyer. he now has a lawyer. while he was behind closed doors at the intelligence committee today, we are told that he and his lawyer were communicating with the white house about the white house aterritorying that he should not testify to that committee. his lawyer that he has retained for this russia stuff who was with him today at house intelligence, his lawyer is also the lawyer on russia matters for the white house counsel who was the person who is presumably advising steve bannon not to talk to that committee today. having somebody on those two different sides of the story both represented by the same attorney? that's weird. that does it for us tonight. we'll see you again tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." good evening, lawrence. >> good evening, rachel. so that's weird. >> yeah. >> that's the weird thing. >> i found one weird thing in the news today. >> no, but it really is. i remember commenting on that and talking about it when it was