tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC January 23, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PST
really appreciate you being here. >> thank you. >> thank you. anjelica and destiny vialobos get tonight's last word. "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. anjelica and destiny villaobos get tonight's last word. "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. breaking tonight on the russia front, the news that jeff sessions and james comey have both spoken to mueller's team. the "new york times" reporter who broke this story here live with us tonight. plus new indications that mueller is looking to talk to trump himself about the firings of flynn and comey. and the new report out just tonight that trump asked his fbi director who he voted for back in 2016, a conversation the career civil servant and lifelong veteran found disturbing. as "the 11th hour" gets underway on a tuesday night. good evening to you once again from our nbc headquarters in new york. this was day 369 of the trump administration and tonight we
have a ton of new reporting on the mueller investigation into the russia case. first off tonight, "the washington post" is reporting donald trump grilled his former acting fbi director about who he voted for in the 2016 election. according to the paper tonight, quote, shortly after president trump fired his fbi director james comey in may, he summoned the oval office bureau's acting director for a get to know you meeting. trump asked andrew mccabe a pointed question, who did he vote for in the 2016 election? mccabe said he didn't vote, according to the officials. one person said the trump-mccabe conversation is of interest to special counsel robert mueller. more on that later. a reporter on the story for "the washington post" added this detail on this network earlier tonight. >> this comes in may of 2016 just after comey has been fired. by that point, the president has criticized mccabe pretty regularly on the campaign trail and once in office, but it's
interesting, one of the things we're told is that the president complains whether mccabe is in the room or not. the president complains, we're told, on a near daily basis about andy mccabe. he seems to have a bit of a fixation on the point, and it seems to -- again, we're told by people who speak to him -- intensely dislike andrew mccabe. >> now to what more we have learned about the special counsel's investigation. the "washington post" also reports mueller is looking to question the president about his decisions to get rid of national security adviser michael flynn and the aforementioned fbi director james b. comey. the story goes on to say, quote, trump's attorneys have crafted some negotiating terms for the president's interview with mueller's team, one that could be presented to the special counsel as soon as next week, according to the new people. the president's legal team hopes to provide trump's testimony in a hybrid form, answering some questions in a face to face interview and others in a written statement. we'll talk about this later, as
well. earlier this month, nbc news also reported the talks for a potential trump-mueller interview were under way. there are other new revelations about who mueller's team has already spoken to. one michael schmidt of "the new york times" who happens to be standing by to talk to us broke the news the mueller team has spoken to jeff sessions and james comey. the interview with sessions is the first time they are known to have questioned a sitting member of the president's cabinet. he spent hours answering questions last week while comey met with mueller's team last year. both the "times" and nbc news are reporting the comey interview focused on the memos he wrote about his interactions with president trump while he was still fbi director, some of which he detailed in his congressional testimony this past june. >> i don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation i had with the president was an effort to obstruct. i took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that's a conclusion i'm sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand
what the intention was there and whether that's an offense. >> quote, i hope -- this is the president speaking -- i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go. now, those are his exact words, is that correct? >> correct. >> and you wrote them here and you put them in quotes? >> correct. the reason i keep saying his words is i took it as a direction. this is the president of the united states with me alone saying, i hope this. i took it as this is what he wants me to do. it's my judgment that i was fired because of the russia investigation. i was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change the way the russia investigation was being conducted. that is a very big deal. >> the president was asked whether he had urged you to shut down the investigation into michael flynn. the president responded, quote, no, no. next question. is that an accurate statement? >> i don't believe it is. >> here to talk about it, all three reporters have been covering this news all day long,
the aforementioned michael schmidt, "new york times" washington correspondent and an nbc contributor, julia ansley, nbc national security and justice reporter, and josh ger steerngs white house reporter for politico. welcome to you all. mr. schmidt, since it's your conclusion that we start with, fill in the blanks on this story. why were they both talked to when they were talked to? why were they staggered? why one in 2017, one in 2018, and what have you learned about perhaps questions and content? there's >> there are two buckets mueller is looking at, one is the collusion russia bucket, the other one is the obstruction one. for an interview with sessions, he falls into both of them. he was part of the campaign. he can speak about the contacts with the russians, he can also speak about the firing of comey, what the president's true intentions are, why did he do that? now, he's speaking to sessions because sessions is closer to the top of the totem pole in the trump administration.
he's closer to the president. he's checking off the final people he's speaking with before he gets to the president. he spoke with comey last year several months ago about comey's interactions with the president, sort of the basis for what caused mueller's investigation. did trump try and obstruct the russia investigation? did he try and influence comey with bad intentions to do things that were to protect himself? >> remind us as a layperson how much home field advantage a guy like mueller has. you go in there -- i don't care if you're a sitting member of the cabinet or a former fbi director or a sitting president. you don't know. you don't have the benefit of what others have said, of other timelines. it's just you and an investigator. >> there is an enormous amount of work that the lawyers put in on the front end here to protect the client from that kind of situation, from having the unexpected "here's a letter, here's a document, here's a transcript" that really throws them off.
and that has gone on for a long period of time. that's what's going on right now between the president's lawyers and mueller. they're trying to work out, okay, mueller, what do you want to talk about? how do you want to do this? they're trying to understand as much as possible so they can prepare their client for that interview. >> julia, underscore by filling in some of the blanks what michael was just saying about sessions' importance to mueller specifically. >> yes, that's right. and as michael was saying, he's part of both buckets, both the collusion piece and obstruction. when you think about the role jeff sessions played in this campaign, he was one of the most senior politicians to come out and endorse trump, especially early on. and he also was one of the forward faces of the campaign to deal with foreign officials. he met with russian ambassador to the u.s. sergei kislyak. that was undisclosed and that disclosure that came out later from the media calls for him to recuse himself from the probe.
he also was in that famous march 2016 meeting we've all seen the picture of with george papadopoulos who later pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi about meetings he tried to set up between then-candidate donald trump and russian president vladimir putin. so jeff sessions had a front-row seat to anything that might have smelled like collusion or may have even been collusion in this campaign, and then he had the added advantage of being on the administration side as attorney general. another really interesting thing about all of this is jeff sessions' relationship to the president as it now stands. he's come under a lot of fire. this entire time, especially this summer, as he's served as trump's attorney general, trump has come out in public and just completely shamed his attorney general, including in an interview with you, michael, in december, where he said he expected more protection. i'm really curious to know what jeff sessions said and whether
or not he remained very loyal, or whether or not he took that independent stance that you would see from an attorney general. >> and josh, i want to get you on this. having covered yourself, justice and the white house, start with what's curious to you about when they brought sessions in. >> well, it's interesting to me that they waited this long. it does seem to reinforce one potential talking point from the white house, which is that this investigation is working up to some sort of conclusion or finish, at least with respect to the issues facing the white house and potentially doing an interview of the president. the investigation is not going to end in the next four to six weeks. you have the criminal trials that are coming down the road for manafort and gates which are going to be months down the road, but it does seem they are in a very final process of fact finding. you were mentioning brian earlier the issue of a hop field advantage for mueller's prosecutors.
i think it's interesting to note, i'm told that this interview that took place with sessions last week was done at mueller's offices which are in southwest washington, which means it was much like the other interviews done with most of the senior administration officials. they were given the courtesy of not being called in front of a grand jury, but they were not given the courtesy of, say, going to their offices or doing this in the most friendly way possible, maybe even at the offices of their lawyers. >> michael, before we talk about the business of comey's extemporaneous notes, which have always been so interesting and are going to remain so germane, i want to hear out comey on this topic before congress. >> i knew that there might come a day when i would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself but to defend the fbi and our integrity as an institution and the independence of our investigative function. >> so these memos to file, he would dictate into a recorder while memories were fresh. remind us why they're so
important to a robert mueller. >> well, fbi reports, things written by fbi agents or fbi officials are the basis of what they do. this is the bedrock of the fbi, and that's what he was creating, realtime notes. he's coming out of his first meeting with trump at trump tower. he was unnerved by trump's reaction to the dossier and the briefing he gave him on russia. he's got a classified computer and he starts typing away a memo. he knew that early on that this was a relationship that was going to cause a lot of stress on him and on the bureau and that he needed to have some type of way to back this up, to back up how he was deciding to deal with this. >> and if you're going to question his extemporaneous, contemporaneous notes, isn't it true that if something were wrong or added to, he would have to have had motive in the moment to misquote the president, to
gild the lily a little bit? >> this would be a massive conspiracy at the highest and most sophisticated levels, where he was really going to the extremes. we've seen no evidence of that at all. the president has repeatedly called him a liar, but there's been other things that have backed him up. for instance, reince priebus handed over handwritten notes to mueller that showed that he had a conversation on april 11th with the president that backed up what comey said in his memos about a phone call he had with the president. so that corroborated comey. we found these little things, and i'm sure mueller has more of them along the way, but the president has insisted he's a liar. >> it might seem like bread crumbs but they're the makings of a case if played differently. julia, if you've gone a while since you last heard donald trump on why he fired comey, suffice it to say it's worth hearing again. we'll talk about it on the other side. >> i was going to fire comey. i was going to fire regardless of recommendation.
he made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey. knowing there was no good time to do it. and, in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election that they should have won. >> so, julia, that laid waste to all the memo traffic and all the attempted underpinnings of that firing. the question i have for you is, what leverage does the president, do the president's lawyers have to argue this kind of hybrid way of answering mueller's questions, partially written, perhaps partially oral? >> so i think when -- from the reporting we've seen today, the fact that mueller will want to focus on trump's decisions leading up to firing comey and leading up to firing michael flynn, we know that the lawyers are preparing for that. that's probably where a lot of
this information is coming from as they prepare their defense. and so they're going to want to get as much information as they can, like michael said, so they're not surprised when they go in. the only problem is they have that tape that you just played. they have those three words, "this russia thing." that's going to be really hard for them to defend that there was any other reason for firing james comey other than trying to fire the head of a probe that he didn't like. and that's going to really counter everything that the justice department and the white house put out on that day in may when comey was initially fired that said that it had something to do with him losing the trust of the fbi. that was the white house line for a while. we had lines from sean spicer repeating that in may that we've played today, brian, but it just seemed that they couldn't hold it up, and as evidenced from that interview with lester holt when that whole argument fell apart, that's going to be really difficult for anyone to try to play it both ways, as you said,
in a hybrid kind of way if they go before federal investigators, especially those like robert mueller. >> josh, this is somewhat unfair but you can handle it. i'm going to read a quote from twitter. the president just put this out 10:54 eastern time, six minutes before we came on the air. where are the 50,000 important text messages? this has to do with the two fbi employees involved in this case. and then he says at the end, blaming samsung. josh, can you explain for our audience who hasn't been following this, members of our audience who haven't been following this what this is about and where the president has latched onto this? >> it sounds like there is a bit of a factual confusion in the president's tweet which is not something completely unusual. but he's referring to fbi peter strock and fbi attorney lisa page and text messages they were exchanging, a large volume which were turned over, i think 50,000 or so were turned over to
congress already. there is an issue about five months of those messages being missing. i don't think anybody knows how many messages were exchanged during that period because they are, in fact, missing. the justice department says that it's had to do with a misconfiguration of software, but in certain circles, there are all kinds of theories spinning about whether these messages might have contained more evidence of some kind of improper conspiracy to bring down the president, and we've had republicans on capitol hill in the last day or two releasing some subset of these messages to argue that was there was further impropriety on the part of the fbi, but without seeing these, it's hard to interpret the message. >> watching fox news, the story is very important. how important will it be judged in the history of the public, do you think? >> i don't know, but it's given
the president pretty decent ammunition to really raise questions about the integrity of the fbi, and it has cut to the core of the top agent, the guy who was overseeing both the hillary investigation and the russia one. it's given him a fair amount of area to run and the far right republicans, especially in the house, have really beat that drum over and over again, and done some real damage to the fbi. will it have a lasting impact? probably it has a lot to do with where mueller ends up on the president. >> our thanks to our starting panel tonight. >> thank you to my panel. coming up for us, top legal minds on the russian developments. a man who worked for both mueller and comey coming here next along with former counsel of the house intel. also robert costa, ashley parker, jonathan lemiere all
as we now know, some of the people closest to the heart of robert mueller's russia investigation matter have spoken with the special counsel's office. among those still to answer his questions, as far as we know, they include donald trump jr., steve bannon, jared kushner, vice president mike pence and, of course, the president himself. the "washington post" reporting today, quote, the president's legal team hopes to provide
trump's testimony, as we mentioned earlier, in a hybrid form, answering some questions in a face to face interview, others in a written statement. late last week during the recording of a podcast in a noisy restaurant, white house attorney ty cobb had this to say about the president's approach to such an interview. >> the president is very eager to sit down and explain whatever is responsive to the questions -- >> very eager. >> -- to explain to the special counsel whatever responses are required in connection with wrapping up this investigation. >> when do you believe this investigation will reach its conclusion? >> there is no reason for it not to conclude soon. >> what is soon? >> soon to me would be within the next, you know, four to six weeks. >> here with us for more tonight, chuck rosenberg who worked under both robert miller and james comey when they were running the fbi, also happens to
be a former u.s. attorney himself and a current msnbc contributor. dana bash is with us, a former attorney at intel. he also happens to be a security analyst. sessions, comey, these two interviews, why was it such a big story today, why such a big development? >> there were new things we learned today that shed new light on the investigation. first, the fact that bob mueller investigated comey and sessions, that's not surprising. but i think some of the reporting out tonight, for example, that sessions has been meddling in the fbi investigation about those text messages between russia investigators, that's clearly inappropriate. the fact that the president asked andy mccabe who he voted for, that's clearly inappropriate. and more importantly, the fact that the president has been pressuring wray to have a political purge of the fbi, that's clearly inappropriate.
there is a lot of activity here that i think should be of concern to investigators and congressional overseers. >> chuck, i know you've been thinking back to your former colleagues at the fbi. what do you think it's like to be mr. mccabe in the oval office and be asked who you voted for in 2016? what do you think it's like to be chris wray right now and be under this microscope when all the utterances we've seen of his have been kirp head down and keep working? >> that's the message to the rank and file, keep working. that's what the american people expect of the fbi. andy is a friend, and so i'm biased. i imagine that was a strange time for him in the oval office when the president asked about his political preferences. it's not a proper question, jeremy is absolutely right. andy is a pro and he's going to handle it like a pro. i'm proud of what he's done so
far. >> jeremy, talk about the potential power -- we started this conversation with michael schmidt -- of these comey contemporaneous memos, in some cases typed and some cases dictated into the file in the moment immediately following meetings with principals. >> yeah, they corroborate the account of the conversations that jim comey will bring forward to bob mueller's investigation. and i think bob mueller will give them a lot of credit. first of all, bob mueller and his team know that jim comey is a career professional, a straight shooter, a person with honesty and integrity that's informed everything he's ever done in his life. secondly, if they don't have those views of him, he actually wrote down what happened and i think that's going to carry a lot of weight with the special counsel. >> chuck, i saw you today with nicolle wallace at 4:00 eastern time, and you were talking about perhaps one or both of the major
print stories today that revealed both sessions and copy had been interviewed. and you referred to it in a curious manner. you said this is a revelation more than it is a development. can you explain that and have i quoted you correctly? >> you did, and i hope i can. what i meant, brian, was there was nothing surprising about it. it's not a development that we shouldn't have anticipated. i meant by revelation that now we've learned it, too. jim comey, as i understand it, was interviewed at least several months ago, and there's nothing surprising about jeff sessions being interviewed. one of the reasons he recused himself is because he's a witness, and so today it's revealed that he's been treated like witnesses are treated. they're interviewed. that's really what i was getting at. >> and jeremy, the line in the "washington post" story tonight about the president asking interim director mccabe who he
voted for in 2013, the line that got our attention was mueller's interest in that mccabe-trump meeting. can you openly speculate, please, as to why? >> it's hard to know, but it probably goes to the president's state of mind in trying to ensure that whoever would oversee an investigation of him or of his associates would do so in a manner that would be politically aligned with him. and that, i think, kind of goes to motive or goes to a state of mind that you are trying to obstruct proper investigations to ensure you get the outcome you want notwithstanding whether or not you are innocent or guilty. >> and jeremy, what are you looking for next? >> i think it will be interesting to see when bannon talks to mueller. we think if jared kushner did talk to him, it was potentially narrowly tailored to the flynn matter. we'll see what he says. then, of course, i'm very interested to see if bob mueller lets the president answer questions in writing. i don't think he should. i think this should have to be a straight-on interview, a straight-on questioning of the
president without the opportunity for lawyers to fashion the response. >> two gentlemen with unbeatable expertise in this area. pleasure to have you both, as it always is. chuck rosenberg, jeremy bash, thank you both so much. coming up, the winding road of the president's relationship with his own attorney general, a story seemingly without end. "the 11th hour" back after this. there are 7 continents, 7 seas.
today said he's not worried about what attorney general jeff sessions said while being questioned by the special counsel, but today's news is hardly destined to bring the two men closer. sessions now officially becomes the first sitting member of trump's cabinet to be brought in. jeff sessions jumped on the trump train early on when few others weren't willing. he became -- when few others were willing, i should say. he became the first sitting senator to support the candidate in a still crowded field. trump returned the favor on the campaign trail in the form of high praise. well, fast forward one year, that praise has gone away. >> senator sessions, who is the king of the voters. he's the king. one of the great men. one of the most highly respected men of the united states senate. >> will you fire jeff sessions if the justice department doesn't take action? >> i don't know. >> jeff sessions understands the job of the attorney general is to serve and protect the people of the united states, and that is exactly what he will do and
do better than anybody else can. >> i am disappointed in the attorney general. he should not have recused himself. if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and i would have quite simply picked somebody else. >> things change. here to talk about it, three journalists who had front seats to the donald trump campaign trail covering him for the 2016 election and who continue to cover him in the white house. robert costa, national political reporter for the "washington post," moderator of "washington week" on pbs, ashley parker, white house reporter for the "washington post," and jonathan lemire, white house reporter for the "associated press." we're happy to say all three are msnbc political analysts. robert, rewind and tell us something we touched on. as a wing man, as a campaign traveler, the importance of jeff sessions early on to donald trump.
>> oh, brian, i saw it up close. then-senator sessions in his hometown of mobile, alabama put on that cap, make america great again, it was a scene that elevated president trump into the mainstream republican party to have him bring a celebrity into the fold, adopt some of his hard line positions. that's why sessions is mattered then and that's why he was brought into the cabinet. it gave a credibility that helped the president win availability and then the presidency. >> quickly realizing the white hat was way too large for his head. >> ashley, do you think there is a chance that trump sees jeff sessions as kind of the embodiment of all of his current troubles? >> i think there is a very good chance that that's exactly the case. we understand that president trump is incredibly furious with his attorney general, and it basically comes down to this one original sin, which is that he
recused himself. president trump believes that that recusal sort of set the ball in motion for ultimately mueller's investigation. and so until that investigation ends and then depending on what the outcome is, there is sort of likely no way that senator sessions will ever be able to get back -- attorney general sessions can never get back the in president trump's good graces. there are other aides and high-level staffers who have angered the president, but because of this russian issue to president trump, he believes it undermines the legitimacy of his presidency. to be sure, no one else says it, yes, russia meddled, president trump won the presidency fair and square. but for him it cuts to this deep sensitivity that he shouldn't be where he was and that's why it's sensitive to him.
>> i guess the plural is falls from grace. of the trump circle falls from grace, and we saw bannon recently, how is sessions' fall from grace unique?' recently, how is sessions' fall from grace uniqus recently, how is sessions' fall from grace unique? >> this is a president who has advisers falling in and out of favor frequently. certainly steve bannon has taken a rather dramatic plunge in recent weeks. >> spectacular. >> we see other aides kinds of fall but then find themselves back on their footing and they manage to stick around. jeff sessions still has his job. but jeff sessions has lost the faith of the president in most ways. as pointed out just there, he was a key early endorser, a wing man on the campaign, was given attorney general. but after the decision to recuse himself from the russia probe, the president has gone after him both publicly and privately. publicly in these tweets, you might recall from over the summer, sort of unprecedented broadsides calling his own attorney general weak and beleaguered and privately musing about firing him.
even to the point they were talking about succession plans. there are those in the white house who talk the president out of that including steve bannon when he was still there. sessions remains very popular among the conservative base, he remains very popular among his former colleagues in the senate, and that there was a fear that -- and a lot of republicans feel like he's doing good things in doj. trump has backed off a little bit on the idea of firing him, but he's still mad, to the point where even he blames sessions in part for the roy moore debacle in alabama. thinking, well, if i had known jeff sessions was going to recuse himself, i never would have appointed him attorney general. that senate seat never would have opened up and i never would have gotten into the mess with roy moore and republicans wouldn't have lost a seat. >> and the nickname big luther would not be as important as it is today. robert, no matter how much he as a reality television star kind of marketed an expression
about firing people, someone has to have told hip as he has learned whatever ropes of government he's learned that firing too many people is not a good look because it speaks to instability. the whole chris wray dust-up, someone had to say, mr. president, you know, fbi directors are traditionally in those roles for years and so are attorneys general. >> throughout his career, president trump has at times put his employees or his associates in almost painful positions professionally, but not gone to the lengths of actually firing them. that is what has led to this situation in part with the attorney general where the attorney general, jonathan, he made a smart point, thinks he's doing a lot of conservative things at the department of justice. yet the president keeps egging the attorney general to step down and in almost any other administration in history, if he had a presidential break like we're watching with our own eyes with the attorney general, you would see a resignation.
but not in this administration. instead the attorney general plows forward, tries to continue to win the president's favor because he likes the power he has as attorney general, keeps trying to work with the president and some of the president's own concerns about the fbi and personnel at the fbi. it is an unusual situation, to say the least, and you have an attorney general squirming politically but also very powerful in terms of policy. >> our guests are going to stay with us. when we come back, i'm going to ask ashley parker what is it about this president's foreign travel that leads to so much news back here in the states. we'll be right back with that. ♪ ♪ i can do more to lower my a1c. and i can do it with what's already within me. because my body can still make its own insulin. and once-weekly trulicity activates my body to release it. trulicity is not insulin. it comes in a once-weekly, truly easy-to-use pen. it works 24/7, and you don't have to see or handle a needle. trulicity is a once-weekly injectable medicine to improve blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes when used with diet and exercise.
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to the world economic forum in davos, switzerland. in his first year, trump made four of such trips all which made breaking news while he was gone, not about the trip, mind you, but about events back here. during trump's first trip abroad to saudi arabia, we got news about the russia investigation reach agmembers of the white house. next trip, g-20 summit, bastille celebrations, that's the one that brought news of don jr.'s involvement with the russians. during his trip to asia, breaking news headlines emphasize how many members of the trump circle were involved in the investigation. all of that having been said, what could go wrong with the president heading to switzerland? back with us robert costa, ashley parker and jonathan lemire. ashley we previewed had before the break. it is an odd feature of this administration that i guess speaks to the compression of the time/space continuum we're all living. >> that's exactly right, and i have to say covering this president it almost never feels
like there's never not news whether the president is abroad or back home. but what's striking about all of these foreign trips is that while the news may continue, and a torrent of it at that, the president in an interesting way gets to sort of leave these problems at the water's edge. when he goes overseas, this stuff is happening, but in many of these countries he is treated like a king. in saudi arabia, his face was broadcast on billboards and the side of buildings. i was on his asia trip. there were red carpets and parades with cannon and so for the president in a way, it's almost a nice respite. he sort of gets to leave it behind. >> and you were ahead of him in advance of the president. air force one was at the asia trip and the "new york times" dropped the story. >> no, it was saudi arabia. i was in the press plan ahead of
air force one. we landed in riyadh, and i remember it was the middle of the night there, and there were billboards featuring president trump and the king. every quarter mile, the city was done up for his arrival and the story dropped, the comey story. that has been a feature of these trips, is that while certainly, yes, the president has had a brief break while over there. he has very rarely fielded reporters' questions overseas. there have not been that. -- until the asia trip, he broke with that. he took some. but a lot of these trips he's kept far away from the press. the first trip he fielded not one question from a reporter which is a great break from press department from other presidents' overseas travel. so yeah, it remains to be seen what fresh headlines we'll get in the next couple days. one thing we can be pretty confident, though, the president has received these lavish welcomes at all of these stops. i'm not quite sure the greeting will be as warm in this meeting of globalists in davos for the america first president.
>> robert, first of all, on davos, this trip could be fraught. let's call his visit aspirational, and in plain english, a lot of these folks are guys who wouldn't let him in the club as a businessman. >> that's exactly right, but this is a perfect foil, in a sense, for the white house. they can go to davos and wag a finger at some people they perceive as enemies on trade or enemies of the president's political agenda and you can almost predict exactly how this is going to play out. he'll mingle to an extent but make sure he reassures his hard line conservative base back home that he's not totally with them. >> and robert, while i have you, the president tweeted seven minutes into our broadcast, back to an oldie goldie nickname, cryin' chuck schumer who we add with pride was a guest on rachel maddow's broadcast tonight, fully understands especially after his humiliating defeat,
that if there is no wall with a capital w, there is noda ca. we must have safety and security together with a strong military, always a capital m, for our great people. robert, reading this, does this not void the deal between schumer and mcconnell to bring up daca in the clear? >> don't overread these tweets. the president has a habit, brian, at times of using this kind of language, cryin', chuck, but remember it was less than a week ago on friday when the minority member for a cheeseburger with the senate. both sides right now with schumer walking away today from the wall promise and the president's tweet, they're both taking their positions but they're new yorkers who like to cut deals and that hasn't changed. >> ashley, is this a new york thing versus washington? >> um -- it's a good question.
i think, you know, between schumer and the president, i do think -- and the president's aides will say this -- that personally the president would rather be in a room having a cheeseburger with chuck schumer over any of those republican congressional leaders any day. i think it's partially a new york thing. i think he likes a deal maker. i think he likes schumer's energy, frankly. the president has been known to do sort of a dour impression of leader mcconnell. it's a lot of things. it's a certain chemistry and energy. that's why you often have the president's staff kind of having to pull him back and say wait a minute, you're a republican president and these are republican priorities you need to be supporting. >> as we said, the president is leaving for davos tomorrow night. what could go wrong? to the three of you, thank you so much for two segments of conversation on our broadcast tonight. coming up, former vice president joe biden speaking out on what he describes as an ongoing threat to our national security when we continue.
the president and i would sit there literally after the pdb and everybody would walk out of the room and say what the hell are we going to do? now, mr. president, you go out and unilaterally say this is what's happening, you're going to be accused of in this environment of trying to tip the election. >> former vice president joe biden today offering new insight
into the obama administration's approach to russian interference in the presidential election. speaking at a council on foreign relations event in washington with richard haas, biden revisited the conversations leading up to election day, provide aginsider account on the thought process in the obama oval office. >> it's easy now to say maybe we should have said more. can you imagine if the president of the united states called a press conference in october with this fella and bannon and company and said, tell you what, the russians are trying to interfere in our elections and we have to do something about it. what do you think would have happened? i mean, i have a view but i genuinely mean it, ask yourselves, what do you think would have happened? would things have gotten better
or would it further look like we were attempting to delegitimize the electoral process because of our opponent. that was the constant battle. had we known what we knew three weeks later we might have done a little more. >> joining us, michael mcfaushlgs former u.s. ambassador to russia during the obama administration, these days a professor and senior fellow at stanford. mr. ambassador, what could have been done better with the clarity and beauty of 20/20 mr. been done better with the clarity and beauty of 20/20 hindsight or was there anything to be done once we learned the russians were monkeying around? >> well, i think it's a tough call. i sympathize with the way that the vice president talked about it very candidly today. you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't. that being said, i would have leaned in. with 208/20 hindsight.
actually, i was saying this in realtime in 2016. but i would have said more. even the way you say it, brian, could have changed. remember on october 7th, that's when this he released their big report. they didn't do it at the white house. they didn't have the president give a press conference. they didn't even have it come out of the white house. those are the kind of things you can do to shape the news, to talk to reporters. i think it was just a little too timid. i would have liked to have seen more. >> fast forward to now and the question, some variation of which i ask you each time you've been kind you to come on our broadcast, and that is how real is the threat right now tonight from an ongoing electronic attack from russia? >> it's very real, it's very serious and we're not doing enough to be more resilient. and that's why i admire the vice president for writing the article he did and others that are now weighing in. and this is not a partisan issue. it is a national security issue.
and the fact is very simple. we have done next to nothing to increase the resilience, to increase the cyber security of our electoral machinery. we talk a lot about cement wars down on the border with mexico. we should be talking about walls and cyber security to protect our infrastructure. now, to be sure, the president actually put out a great executive order. you should go and read it, your viewers should read it, released in may of last year. i think it's very good in terms of an outline, but we've done almost nothing to implement that strategy. >> do you see it as a kind of cruel irony that we're in this spot, kind of going into a mid-term election and then another presidential, not unprotected but certainly not as protected as had someone declared this a national emergency. is that because of either trump administration alleged associations with russia or the known trump administration
preoccupation with the russian investigation? >> of course, of course. firewall was the word i was looking for, brian. i just remembered. we need more fire walls, less cement walls. but of course that's the problem. because he won't admit or observe or talk about the diagnostics, it's very difficult to do the proper prescriptions. and that's a dilemma within his own administration. his senior people will tell you that off camera. they all understand it, they all say it on the record but because the president personally is so uneasy about it, he won't allow his administration to do the things that they need to do. i want to be clear, it's difficult to do the things we need to do in my opinion. it's not just you click your fingers and months later you have the proper cyber security. it depends a real strategy of defense. so far, we're not doing it. >> one of the people out there
with unique credentials to talk about this ongoing threat and this important issue, ambassador mike mcfaul. our thanks as as you for coming on with us. >> thanks for having me. >> appreciate it. >> and the last thing before we go tonight. the "new york times" ran a correction today and because we sourced them on a story we did in this time slot last night, we're obligated to do the same. and in doing so, we have learned a lesson all over again and it's this -- nothing is easy in the u.s. senate. if you were with us here last night, you may remember the story about the common sense caucus members who met in the office of maine republican senator susan collins to try to find common ground at the height of this past weekend's government shutdown. we told you that senator collins wanted order in the room among the boisterous bipartisan group and so she employed a native american talking stick, a gift
from north dakota senator heidi heitkamp. all of what we said was correct except for the stick. it is not a product of this continent and is in fact from the maasai tribe in kenya. the talking stick tradition exists in both cultures and it simply means the holder of the stick gets to talk and everyone else gets to listen. we liked the story last night because it contained the words "common sense." today the "times" in effect asked for the talking stick back for just long enough to correct the record and adjust its provenance. we now do the same tonight. and it remains a great native and african tradition. and a reminder, as we said, that nothing is easy in the u.s. senate. that is our broadcast for this tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york.
tonight on "all in." >> if mr. mueller asked the president to submit to an interview, is that something that the president would be open to. >> new signs that mueller time is coming for the president. >> the witch hunt continues. >> as his sitting attorney general goes before the special counsel. >> i would have gladly had reported the meeting. >> tonight, why jeff sessions is is the key to so much for robert mueller. and what lies ahead for the president. >> i'm not at all concerned. thank you all very much. >> then, as chuck schumer pulls the wall, why democrats have the political high ground on immigration. >> i would deport the dreamers before deporting ms-13 members. >> how evangelical membe