tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC January 27, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
the three term congressman from massachusetts. his raet uncles for president john f. kennedy an senator ted kennedy. his grandfather was robert f. den i can. at the time he was one of the great hopes of the democratic party and the nation. bobby kennedy was killed two months and two days after martin luther king junior. sending his grandson to deliver the response on tuesday could harken back to 1968. can this kennedy whose very name evoked so much history of hope harness that nostalgia. watch this space. rachel will be back on monday. i'll see you in a few hours. my guest tomorrow include chelsea handler. it's time for the last word with l lawrence o'donnell.
>> i got that. >> his name rhymes with lawrence o'donnell. >> still available in bookstores but you have to climb through piles of michael's book to find one copy of mine. it has the word fire in the title. it should be selling. >> it's a fantastic book. you should all read it. 1968 most momentous year in history. >> we have his first republic reaction to what we learn yesterday that the president ordered the firing of the special prosecutor. >> amazing. cannot wait for that. we'll be watching. >> thank you, joy. last night, the obstruction of justice investigation of the president by the special contractor robert mueller took on a new and dramatic mention when the new york times reported the president ordered the firing of the special prosecutor in
june and don mcgann refused to carry out that order and threatened to resign in the special prosecutor was fired. here is every word the president said about that important story today. >>. >> why did you fire robert mueller? why did you want to fire robert mueller? >> fake news. typical new york times fake story. >> that's what they called a non-denial denial. joining us tonight for an exclusive interview with his first public reaction is the author of the best selling book in the world right now, michael wolff. the author of fire and furry. inside the trump white house. michael, first of all, thank you very much for coming back. >> thank you for having me. >> your book is filled, filled with versions of the president complaining about the special prosecutor making references to wanting to fire the special
prosecutor. the special prosecutor has talked to reince priebus. he's going to talk to steve bannon who you spent a lot of time talking to. he's been talking to many of your sources in this book. has the special prosecutor reached out to you to talk to you about either the firing of the special prosecutor or any other elements of this story? >> he has not. >> if the special prosecutor does want to interview you, will you cooperate with that? >> good question. i don't know the answer but i think the answer is, yes. i have nothing to hide. everything that i know is in the book. >> what about the sources that are -- many sources revealed in the book. there's many quotes attributed to people but there's an awful lot of unattributed quotes. the special prosecutor would open this book and point to -- >> say who's the source here? if it's a source i can't reveal, no. i clearly would not. >> you know there's no privilege there. the special prosecutor could you
you in contempt and you could end up in jail by refusing to answer that. >> i've had a lot of threats over the last few weeks. we take them as they come. >> okay. >> i want to go to passage about don mcgann in this book. the details that the president ordered the firing is one more little piece that fits into this story completely and the characters behave in the way we understand them from your book. he tried to explain that comey was not running the russia investigation. without comey the investigation could proceed any way. mcgann was a frequent target of trump rages. typically these would begin as a kind of exaggeration or acting and then devolve into the real thing. uncontrollable, vein popping,
ugly face, tantrum stuff. it got primal. now the president's denunciations focused in a vicious fury on mcgain. we can presume something went on with mueller. >> let me give a slightly different context than the new york times gives. the new york times make it sound like trump thought about this, sat down, determined that this was, that he should fire comey -- that he should fire mueller and he should act on this and then told mcgain to carry this out. that's not untrue but the difference is he does this constant constantly. every day he is saying he is going to fire him. anybody he feels has annoyed him, irritated him, gotten in
his way, disagreed with him is going to be fired. the firing of mueller was talked about by trump especially in this june, july period before his legal team really got in and took over. this became an obsession with the president. he had to get rid of mueller. an obsession with this president becomes instead of in order, it becomes like wall paper. it just goes on and on. he repeats and repeats. is it serious? is it just him spouting off? ultimately that's what the special prosecutor will have to decide.
the special prosecutor has to prove intent. if he's just a crazy part, in part he is, it's going to be very hard to prove intent. was there a moment in which he directed this to happen? yes, but there were hundreds of moments in which he does that. and in which everybody sort of deflects. equally, the times has mcgain threatening to quit. he's probably threatened to quit a hundred times. they have to beg him to stay. >> you have bannon in here saying quoting him now and attributing it to him. if he fires mueller, it just brings the impeachment quicker. was that the widespread view in
the white house? >> completely. everybody believed firing mueller would be suicidal. everybody has to deal with this every day because it was always fire mueller. we got to fire mueller. how can we fire mueller? get rid of this guy. it was just the stuff that comes out of president's mouth. >> in that sense you're describing a workplace in which they don't take the guy saying this stuff seriously to the point where they have to execute it but if he pushes it up to an order then they have to issue threats to resign? >> yes. nobody wants to be there.
the new york times curiously makes this sound normal. even if it makes it sound like there's a man that's thought through something and made a decision. there are no decisions here. it's just blather. when does blather -- of course blather can become a decision. the comey firing, nobody expected the comey firing to happen and then it happened because he did it on his own. he just went rogue and suddenly it happened. i believe expects a and continues to expect mueller fired. how that happens is a kind of a three dimensional thing. every day he's firing mueller.
>> it's making that case for his lawyers to try to make that presentation of the character. the prosecutors and people looking into this aren't going to believe that a president is just that nutty and flaky and constantly saying things that aren't real? >> i don't know if that's true. they ultimately, that will be the ultimate question. was there intent here or was this just daily stupidity really?
>> the president seemed to confirm that by having that be the thing that made him keep saying i can fire mueller. i can fire mueller. >> completely. then at one point, of course, he says he gives an interview to the new york times and he draws the line. he says mueller can't go here. can't go into his family finances. bannon makes this noise. let's just tell the prosecutor what he can't look at. >> imagine, for us, as you know this character. you know this trump character and have conveyed him better than anyone has conveyed him because you get all these dimensions that are difficult to capture. imagine him in an interview with the special prosecutor when the special prosecutor says why did
you order don mcgain to have me fired. what does trump say to that. you're going to get things that are immediately and stunningly incriminating but you're also going to have to step back and say this is so stunningly incriminating that maybe it's not. maybe he's just -- that's where we are. >> the insanity defense. >> stupid. >> i've been asking lawyers all week what happens if the president's lawyers convince him you cannot be interviewed by the fbi. you'll commit perjury. it will be a disaster. the special prosecutor subpoenas him and the president refuses to accept subpoena service, refuses to respond to a subpoena. is that imaginable that a
president would refuse to respond and if he's held in contempt, he still refuses. >> it's never happened before. what happens then? i have no idea. i would say just because i'm a reasonable person, it can't happen and eventually he has to respond. be bannon would say, no, you don't. we've gone through this before. president s have to testify whe they are subpoenaed. >> i put out on twitter invitations for people to suggest questions. one of biggest questions they were suggesting was about nick ke -- nikki haley. this part of the interview was provoked by something you said last week. >> he told the comedian on television that he's pretty sure
not sure enough to write in his book that the president is having an affair and that close readers of his book would be able to figure out who the president is having an affair with. wolff writes the president had been spending a notable amount of private time with haley. that's nikki haley on air force one and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future. i don't think you exactly have to be sure to figure out what he's insinuating. i'd like to get your response to that insinuation. >> it's absolutely not true. it is highly offensive. it's disgusting. if you look at what and i've said this before, it amazes me what people will do and the lies they will say for money and power. here you have man who is saying i've been spending a lot of time on air force one. i've literally been on air force
one, once. there were several people in the room when i was there. he says that i'm talking a lot with the president in the oval about my political future. i've never talked once to the president about my future and i'm never alone with him. >> do you believe that the u.s. ambassador to the united nations is having an affair with the president. >> what i know is in the book. >> what's your reaction to what you just heard? >> i don't know who the reporter is who was making the insinuation. >> you invited people to read between the lines. >> read between the lines. if i knew it, i would have said it. >> is she reading between the right lines, that reporter who brought this question to nikki haley? >> is she reading -- i'm not going to go further than what's in the book. >> do you think it's reasonable that this reporter brought this question to nikki haley based on
what she read in the book? >> i think all questions are reasonable. >> you did say you believe the president is currently having an affair. not in the book but you said that publicly. >> i believe the president. >> what is an affair? remember that question. >> sex with someone who is not his wife. >> i believe there a number of reliable and authoritative people have suggested that. >> she seems to agree that the implication is it's her. >> she seems to be. yes.
what's in the book. if you want to infer. >> i want to clarify for the public record. you never said nikki haley. you never said any name. >> i did not. >> anyone who has brought nikki haley in this have done it through their own reading. >> exactly. >> going back to the obstruction case with the president, as you hear these various scenarios being played out and you hear john dowd saying it's not the president who's going to decide, i am going to decide whether the president agrees to do this interview. do you think that's how this will happen. >> he will do what he wants to do. it's likely he can decide i can go in there and charm these guys and sell them. >> thank you for joining us again tonight.
appreciate it. coming up, our panel is here joining us. they will consider everything that's developed in this. some of them taking notes during michael wolff's conversation right here. we'll see what they think the special prosecutor will react to there. also with us congressman adam schiff. that's coming up. ♪ are you reluctant to eat in public because of your denture? try super poligrip® not only does it hold for 12 hours to reduce denture movement, it also helps provide better bite, seals out 74% more food particles, and enhances your denture fit. in fact, 95% of super poligrip® users surveyed believe it makes them feel more confident eating in public. eat, speak, and smile with confidence. try super poligrip® today. we are the tv doctors of america, and we may not know much about medicine, but we know a lot about drama. we also know that you can avoid drama by getting an annual check-up. so go, know, and take control of your health.
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the firing was talked about by trump in this june period before his legal team really got in and took over. he had to get rid of mueller. an obsession with this president becomes instead of in order, it becomes kind of like wall paper. it just goes on and on and on. he repeats and repeats and repeats. >> he was the chief of staff to attorney general janet reno.
i wish we had lawyer at the table. there were moments there when he talked about what the special prosecutor will find from this witness donald trump and possibly from others that there was just this kind of vague blanket of noise that he described as wall paper that was the fire mueller wall paper and that was that really a specific demand to fire mueller and michael was speculating the prosecutor will have to get inside the president's head to figure out what his actual intent was in those statements. what was your reaction to that? >> i think intent was one of the more interesting parts of that interview. it's always tricky for lawyer to
prove intent. the other problem is if he didn't intend to corrupt firing of mueller and let's face it, of comey. then wolff is correct. he sounds like the alternative is the man is crazy. if he's crazy and incompetent and stupid which are the words that michael wolff used then we have to look at the 25th amendment. the cabinet and congress have too stand up and do their duty and say the man is incompetent. those seem to be the two choices he was saying. either way it's a lose for trump, it seems to me.
>> steve bannon gives it a 33% calculation for it being used for this president. the jury can infer intent. the issues that michael wolff was talk about does he really mean it. that would be left to a jury. >> donald trump may be crazy but he's not legally insane. the standard on that is very high. that's not going get him off the hook on this. i think his legal analysis of this is kind of backwards. there's some very specific acts of obstruction.
there's a lot of specific acts. the fact that trump is constantly saying we ought to get rid of mueller just shows a focus on stopping this investigation. it's not about conflicts of interest or zup vis supervising justice department. that will be powerful evidence of his intent. this is not someone who acts like an innocent person. >> i was struck by that term wall paper that michael wolff used. it tells us a lot. if you've ever listened to the wiretaps of mafia headquarters in new york or in boston or different places where they
wiretap them, the wall paper wads we need to get rid of that guy. we need to get rid of that guy. you're talk taking notes. your reaction to what you heard. >> i think i was struck by what he called the wall paper and what we see. they want to just pursue the rule of law. you see him complaining about it but you also see him taking official tact acts. it was when he crossed the line not just from complaining about bob mueller but issuing an order to fire him. that order wasn't obeyed.
you don't have to be successful. you just have to take an action. you mention the wiretaps that in mafia cases you're able to look at. we don't have wiretaps in this case. what bob mueller has is conversation after conversation that aids to donald trump can reproduce. i'm going to fire him. bob mueller likely has talked to an aids about that conversation and that is damming evidence as to his intent. >> stay with us. we're going to squeeze in a break here. we'll be right back. why make something this intelligent... (engine starting up) ...when it can get by on looks alone? why create something that stands out,
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about the president trying to fire the special prosecutor. >> what's your reaction to reports that president trump ordered special counsel mueller fired? >> i'm here for hearing. i don't have anything to comment on any other issues like that. >> can we get you afterwards? >> no, sir. >> copyright law is in the view of judiciary committee one of their lowest priority issues. today, for republicans, it was more important than the most important story in washington. the president ordering the firing of the special prosecutor. republican congressman charlie dent who has given up on continuing his congressional
career is free to say things like this today. i believe now that this revelation has been made public there will be increasing pressure to protect mueller. joining us now congressman adam schiff, the ranking member of the house intelligence committee. thank you very much for joining us tonight. i really appreciate it. i want to get to -- i got to say as a house watcher, i think you and i probably have never heard someone say i can't talk about the most important issue of the day. i have to two to a copyright hearing. i think that's a new one. >> it's hard to top in terms of interest. >> i want to get your reaction to something that michael wolff just said on this show. it's an issue that in a criminal case would be left to a jury and in an impeachment case would be brought to you. that is if there's an obstruction of justice case, that is presented to the house of representatives and one of the elements of the obstruction of justice case is the president ordered the firing of robert
mueller. what michael wolff just said is he was saying that all the time. he was saying fire mueller all the time. i want to fire mueller, all the time. michael wolff said it was like wall paper. people around him did not take it seriously. he may not believe he never issued an order no matter what people quote him as saying. >> apparently doug mcgahn took it seriously and was willing to resign rather than carry it out. i wouldn't describe this as wall paper based on what the new york times or washington post have reported.
what the president had at his disposal were memos that provided a pretext. another explanation to give to the public for why comey was being fired. he treated hillary clinton unfairly. that's not plausible. the one that made it's clear that's not the real motivation was the president himself. it was over some the fact that the mueller firm worked for jared kushner even though mueller didn't. this is another effort to produce pretext to conceal the real reason for getting rid of mueller. that does go to intent that key issue in an obstruction case. one final point is the fact that
president wanted so badly to get rid of jeff sessions and why because jeff sessions recused himself and why did that bother the president? because it led to the appointment of bob mueller. that wasn't about dues at the golf club. that was about the president perceiving the russia investigation as a threat and wanting to act on that. >> in the sessions case, you also have michael wolf and other sources quoting the president as saying things like where's my roy and usining the word protec. it strikes me the use of that word protect would be of special interest in an obstruction case. >> i think that's exactly right. the president made clear that what he believes he's entitled to in an attorney general is not someone who is loyal to the department, not someone loyal to the american people but someone who is loyal to him. not just on garden variety issue
but the russia investigation that's paramount to him. all of this does go to intent. he's been interviewing all these people in the white house and around the president. i think ron is exactly right. there's probably a lot that we toents know that the special counsel does. >> how secure is bob mueller's job in the view of congress at this point. i know when he was first appointed you got universal acclaim for him especially on the senate side. it wasn't a single republican senator who had a negative word to say. most of them were gushing praise. that's quieted down. you don't hear that. today, no screams of outrage from any republicans in the congress. no one rushing to a microphone saying this absolutely must not happen. he must not be tired. has robert mueller support among republicans in congress
collapsed. kwould he be fired? >> i wouldn't say it's collapsed but you see a weakening of the spine of many of the folks in the gop and congress. you had a ground swell that would secure mueller's job. no one has acted on that in the majority. that legislation is still languishing. there's been an escalation of attacks on mueller in the right wing blogsphere as well as on fox.
they need to speak out now and it's more important for republicans in congress to speak out and say this is a red line that must not be crossed. lawrence, i think depending on where the special counsel investigation goes to, if the special counsel, for example is look at money laundering as i believe he should, you can see another outburst by the president that results in another order to fire bob mueller and the whole kas kads of events that would bring about. does the president still want to fire robert mueller? michael wolff believes the president has not stopped thinking about firing robert mueller. more on that next.
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bob mueller should be allowed to finish his job and this president shoultd not be allowed to fire him just on a whim. i agree in this case with the president o president's lawyer. if the president carried through on that threat, it would have created chaos. the action of this president seemed to not help his case that there's no there there. these are not the actions of a individual whosz got nothing to
hide. >> the court ruled that prosecutors hoping to overcome arguments of executive and presidential privilege must show that such information contains important evidence that isn't available elsewhere. foreign policy is reporting on how the white house war on the fbi was born. president trump pressed senior aids last june to di vise and carry out a campaign to discredit senior fbi officials after learning they were likely to be witnesses against him as part of special counsel robert mueller's investigation. back with us ron clan, jill and matt.
in june when the new york times reported the president ordered the firing of robert mueller, this very stormy june in the white house, the president is telling people we now have to attack the fbi to higher ranking people in the fbi because the special prosecutor will use them to corroborate james comey story. >> this reminds me of law school. find the bets of evidence of obstruction of evidence that you can. the person gets the a. we can get the a because there's the attempt of get rid of the new attorney general. there was the attempt now to smear the fbi. it goes on and on.
he's in tiptop shape. he has a great brain. the president is not going to allow himself to be gotten off the hook by the crazy defense. i think this is an embarrassment of riches for the special prosecutor. there's so many bits of evidence of intent. he wants to cripple this investigation because he's afraid of what they will find. that's something that's supplying to records as opposed to actual testimony.
>> this would be a very different case if the person under investigation was a senior white house aide. oops, here we are. it would be easy for the prosecutor to prove a need for the subpoenaed information. i do not think the president an his lawyer will get any real protection from this case. >> this sprieks me as the kind of thing you tell a client who is desperate to hear there's something you can hang your hat on and maybe they will get a hearing day out of court over it. >> they might be able to delay it enough to get a hearing. the case is not that different than u.s. v nixon that made it
clear the president cannot avoid producing evidence if it is about a crime. that's what mueller is looking at. it's not looking at something for political advice or policy advice. any kind of advice he might have gotten from staff. it's about how do i commit a crime? how do i stop the investigation? that's clearly within the purview of what the supreme court said the president must comply with. >> special prosecutor knows much more than we do about all of this. since the two stories we're talking about happened in june. i'm wondering if the special prosecutor is looking at evidence and has testimony from white house staff saying the president ordered the firing of this special prosecutor in june and in june the president told
us we had to start attacking the higher ranking people in the fbi because they will be used in the investigation against the president. those two stories could be coming together in this overall investigation. >> i assume that's right. he obviously knows much more than we do. we know all that evidence the white house has opinion clear about making their public defense. the evidence is damaging to them. we found a new significant piece of evidence and raises the question how much more is out there this we don't know. if you read between the lines of that story, when we talk about obstruction of justice, it's not just the president that has potential legal liability. you look at that story last
night and you see steve bannon, reince priebus and don mcgahn, all of whom share the same lawyer and portrayed in this story as, at least in this instance the president wanted to fire bob mueller is standing up and saying no. here is one instance where they were saying no and can't be held liable. >> the president has not given up. the president has not given up the dream of firing robert mueller. when we come back let geese through the scenario that the president does fire robert mueller. we'll be right back.
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plus savings for everyone in your stateroom, when you book now. during the celebrity cruises sail beyond event. everybody says no collusion. there's no collusion. now they're saying fight back. >> what does no collusion mean? >> you fight back. oh, it's obstruction. >> jennifer if the president does continue to move against mueller and eventually pulls it off, meaning he fires rod rosenstein and does whatever he has to do to get someone there to fire the special prosecutor, will republicans and congress take a stand against that? >> i have come to the conclusion they will not. the fbi goes on. whoever replaces him can go on.
they are not complicit. you have someone like devin nunes trying to smear the fbi. you know who is colluding, it's the white house and devin against the fbi and the special prosecutor. that group of people who tolerate that behavior, someone like mr. speaker of the house paul ryan who allows nunes to retain his post is not going to take up impeachment. these people are not going to do anything. we may stumble along until we get to the midterms. i think we keep hoping it will be the straw that makes the camels back.
nothing is. they live in earth two. they are not going to come around and do their constitutional duty. >> if the president reached out far enough and found someone after firing rod rosenstein and said to that person you're going to be the acting deputy attorney general. you'll be um poempowered to fir special prosecutor and i want you to disband the investigation, could he do that? >> he could try. we know the president did a version of this when he fired sally yates. reached down far enough and found someone who will do it. i think jennifer is right. you can't make this all go away. the fbi will be after him. he cannot escape accountability sooner or later. >> jill, did you have to consider this that the possibility of nixon getting someone to completely not just fire the special prosecutor but disband it? >> well, we actually were
abolished. we were able to two on for two reasons. they didn't bar us from the office. we showed up on sunday and monday. by tuesday, we were reappointed. allow us to continue. it is true that it could end up badly though. >> thank you for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. >> tonight's last word is next. your joints... or your digestion... so why wouldn't you take something for the most important part of you... your brain.
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tonight's last word is joy. i'll be joining joy reid at 11:00 a.m. and her show. this sunday night ari melber will talk with the ceos of google and youtube at a special town hall event. coming up next on the 11th hour with brian williams. a look at one of the biggest challenges inside the white house, protecting president trump from president trump. the 11th hour starts now. tonight president trump flies home. he's back at the white us