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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  April 5, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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sanctions. we never found out what happened to that list, the real list. reuters is first to report and now confirmed, the trump administration is planning tomorrow to list its first sanctions on russian if the oligarchs list comes from the table of contents of forbes magazine or we'll see the real list we believe was created. if it turns out to be the list mandated by congress, hoping to hurt putin by making it difficult for his friends, that could cause some real action from russia. it's going to be worth watching to see what that list looks like. that does it for us tonight we'll see you tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." >> as you reported michael cohen's life got more interesting today with the special prosecutor apparently talking to associates of his trying to dig into what he's been into. and as luck would have it, guess who's sitting next to me. you can't see because i'm in
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this box. but there is a big room. i'm going to make you guess, i'm not going to let you see, hint, his name is michael avenatti. he's hear to talk about what the president had to say, finally for the first time, spoke about stormy daniels. and now we'll hear what he has to say about the intersection with michael cohen and the special prosecutor. >> please tell michael avenatti that i would pay very good money -- i'm super cheap -- to see them talking about anything, rather than the legal fights they're in together. >> i think he would do that. i think he's itching to do that. >> thank you, lawrence. >> thank you, rachel. well, donald trump did something today that we have never seen him do before. not during his political career, his campaign, and his presidency. we have never seen donald trump do this before, he actually
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answered a yes or no question. he gets yes or no questions thrown at him all the time from reporters and he often says words in response from those questions but it's often a barrage of words that does not include a yes or no and has nothing to do with the question. it's never one word. never. it's never yes or no. until today. donald trump answered a yes or no question today with one word, that was it. just one word. and no big rush of words following that one word. donald trump for once answered a yes or no question with one word and stormy daniels's lawyer, michael avenatti, who's going to be with us, called that one word, quote, a gift from the
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heavens. that's what he told the ari melber it was. a gift from the heavens. and that one word was no. here is the question. >> mr. president did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy daniels? >> no. >> and that, as future historians will record, is the very first word that president trump has publically spoken about stormy daniels. until that moment, donald trump has done a shockingly good job for donald trump doing exactly what his lawyer in the stormy daniels case wants him to do, which is the same thing the lawyers in the robert mueller investigation want him to do, which is to absolutely say nothing. say nothing all the time. nothing. that is the hardest thing in the world to get donald trump to do. but donald trump didn't check with his lawyers before following a common tradition set by previous presidents before stepping back into the press section of air force one today and taking a few questions from the traveling reporters.
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what could possibly go wrong? reports indicate that president trump has been feeling very, very confident lately. the more white house advisers he loses, the more confident he feels. he felt confident in west virginia where he went to speak about the tax cuts but then forgot to speak about the tax cuts because he literally threw away his remarks. >> this was going to be my remarks. it would have been taken about two minutes. but that would have been a little boring. a little boring. now i'm reading off the first paragraph, i said, this is boring. >> wow, that's confidence. real presidential confidence. that was the same confidence that led him back to the press section of air force one today. there was no one on that plane who might have been able to successfully advise him against
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talking to reporters today. standing behind him is deputy press secretary hogan giddily who is so many steps down from the press secretary he is not allowed to appear at the podium in the briefing room even when the press secretary has decided to hand it off that day to a deputy. donald trump made the decision that nobody wanted to listen to hadley giddily, that includes donald trump. so you can see all the homework that the president was doing before he stepped back to the reporters. there on the tv screen you can see how confident the president was on air force one. he wasn't even bothering to watch fox news to see what he should say to the reporters. it was a golf day on air force one today. the only questions he was confident to answer was how is tiger woods doing at the masters. instead he got the first few questions that stormy daniels's lawyer, michael avenatti, who
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will join me in a moment, wants to ask the president under oath in a deposition. >> did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy daniels? >> no. >> why did michael cohen make it? >> you'll have to ask michael cohen. michael's my attorney and you have to ask michael. >> do you know where he got the money to make that payment? >> i don't know. >> did you have ever set up -- >> i'm sorry i couldn't hear your response earlier about scott pruitt. >> about who? >> the president answers three quick questions about stormy daniels before he finds his way back to the safer grounds of refusing to answer any more questions about stormy daniels. to question one he says no, i didn't know michael cohen made a deal with stormy daniels, question two, why did he make the payment, i don't know the president says you have to ask michael question. to question three, do you know where he got the money to make
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the payment? the president says, i don't know. imagine, imagine how stunned donald trump was by that first stormy daniels question. so stunned that he gave a one word answered. so flattened by it that he didn't overwhelm the question with a barrage of words and immediately change the subject. he was so stunned that it took him three whole questions to crawl back into position to take control of the interview and the question he refuses to answer is, did you ever set up a fund of money that he could draw from? did donald trump ever set up a fund of money for silencing women like stormy daniels. the president of the united states refused to answer that question today. and unlike every other time the president has been asked about a woman who has made an allegation against him, the president was
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still very, very careful to not say a word about stormy daniels herself. now just think about how terrified donald trump has to be of stormy daniels to not dare contradict her publically. to not dare say one negative word about her publically. to not dare say anything, anything about her publically. reporters on the next trip on air force one can keep doing whatever they were doing before the president came back to talk to them today because he won't be coming back to talk to them again as long as stormy daniels is still in his life. leading off our discussion is michael avenatti. the attorney for stormy daniels. and joining the discussion is joy reed, an msnbc national correspondent and ron klain is with us, the former chief of staff to al gore and joe biden. i want to go to the breaking news tonight about the special
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prosecutor who's very interesting in michael cohen's dealings for donald trump involving all sorts of activity, including possibly foreign businesses. how does your litigation interact, if it does at all, in terms of pressure on michael cohen with the special prosecutor's investigation? >> well, i think what we're seeing, lawrence, over the last two weeks is a concentrated effort by the president and his surrogates and michael cohen is playing along, to really put the focus as it relates to our case on michael cohen. he is being placed in the cross hairs. he is being placed in a position where he's going to be expected to take the fall. he's going to be the one that is going to be expected to say that president trump knew nothing about this. he was off on his own. he was negotiating the agreement on his own. he paid it on his own. and if that's a violation of the new york bar rules and that means that he has to lose his license to practice law, he's
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willing to take that hit on behalf of the president. i think due to the report that you mentioned related to the special prosecutor, the noose is tightening on that front as well. and let me just say this, there seems to be a lot of confidence by the president in michael cohen's ability to take this much heat and this much weight, and we're talking about a lot of heat potentially and weight. >> you mean both weights, the weight of the stormy daniels' case and the simultaneous weight of the special prosecutor? >> that's exactly what i mean. let me say this, that's a lot of weight and a lot of heat for any one person to take. and the level of confidence that they appear to have in michael cohen, in my view, is likely misplaced. because in the event that he folds under that pressure, whether it's next week, next month or next year, whether it's the pressure we bring to bear by way of depositions in our case or the weight the special
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prosecutor brings to bare, in the event he folds and rolls over on mr. trump, president trump, that's going to be a very, very bad day for the president. because there's no question that michael cohen knows where a lot of bodies are buried. he's been with this man for a long, long time. he's been entrusted with a lot of information, and the special prosecutor, for instance, will be able to get to communications potentially between president trump and michael cohen, even though there was an attorney-client privilege relationship there by way of what's called the crime fraud exception. and in the event that that happens, that's going to be a very, very bad day. but michael cohen today was not a stellar day for him by any stretch of the imagination. first the president threw him under the bus on air force one by claiming that michael cohen did this on his own relating to stormy daniels, which by the way i don't believe for one minute that's accurate.
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but taking the president at face value, that's the first thing. then we have the special prosecutor report relating to them starting to knock on doors of associates and asking questions about michael cohen. no question michael cohen is in the cross hairs. >> did the confidentiality agreement in effect evaporate on air force one. one of the parties of the agreement said on air force one today, i knew nothing about it. >> we think it did. we think this is basically game over as it relates to our claim. we've heard, lawrence, for the better part of a month this was a rock solid agreement, you have david schwartz talking about how great a lawyer michael cohen is. this was a model nda. it's a lot of things but no way in hell it's a model nda. it's a piece of trash, and any legal analyst who looks at it will tell you the same thing, who's not bias. that's what we've been hearing. now we have a principal party to
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the agreement, who admits on camera, that supposedly he didn't know anything about a principle term of the agreement. that means he didn't know about the agreement, which means there is no agreement. so all of this chest pounding and threats how they were going to bury my client and seek $20 million and go on an extended vacation with the money and all this over buffoonry we've heard, that goes out the window. you can't enforce an agreement where one party admits that they didn't know anything about it. it's a joke. and it's calls in veracity the statements all along the way. it's going to provide a further hook for us to be able to depose this president and michael cohen. we'll make that motion again. we'll renew it on monday and see what the court has to say. northwest we get a two-hour deposition of michael cohen and this president, i am highly confident their statements are not going to hold up under
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cross-examination by me, period. >> joy, the president of the united states tonight has to be able to fall asleep with the thought in his head that his presidency might turn on the strength of michael cohen. >> yeah, it's pretty amazing. i'm not a lawyer, obviously. certainly don't have the level of insight into this that michael avenatti has, although if i have a problem legally, i think i know who i will call. let's apply the common sense test here to what the president and michael cohen want you to believe. they would have you believe that his attorney, by himself, took $130,000 of his own money, to pay off someone after the "access hollywood" tape that did not impact in any way donald trump's ability to be elected. and right before the election give her money, although they believe her to be not credible. someone they described as having
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zero credibility, someone you don't believe can implicate your client, that your client says he never had a relationship with. so you give this person, who had no relationship with, other than taking photos, $130,000 of your own money as the lawyer, you create an llc to create a secret cooperation. you on your own as the lawyer create an alias for your client, you put that alias' name on the agreement. never telling your client you've done all of that, and you do it simply because you're afraid a woman will make a claim that you believe to be completely false and not provable so she can't even prove she had a relationship with him. what would stop any woman off the street then to walk up to donald trump and say i too had a relationship with donald trump. why weren't there hundreds of women lining up to get $130,000 in free money from michael cohen. the whole thing makes no sense.
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you don't have to have gone to law school to understand that is crazy. we as civilians pay lawyers, we hire someone like michael avenatti. they don't pay for our issues, we pay them. so donald trump didn't pay his lawyer. his lawyer paid a random woman, who all he did was take a picture with in california? this is crazy. so i think donald trump's problem is, to your point -- i think to both of your point, he never should have answered the question. because the only logical answer to this, right, is, of course, i paid -- had my lawyer do this, and, of course, i meant to pay him back. which means they attempted to influence the election. there's no way out for donald trump here. the mueller case on its own with the russia stuff is tough. the stormy daniels case feels like an absolute vice for this president. >> ron klain, i want to go to the intersection of the two
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cases, there's $130,000 that moves here. and robert mueller has the ability to investigate any crimes committed during the campaign in any way. if there's a campaign finance violation here, he can investigate that. it seems to me the he would be interested in how that $130,000 moved, whose $130,000 was it, was it borne in russia somewhere? when we see money in trump world, you never know where it came from. so it seems very likely there will come a moment when the special prosecutor is trying to find out, either directly from michael cohen or people around him, exactly where did that $130,000 come from? >> that's a great point, lawrence. you said donald trump did something he's never done before which is answer the question with a single word, no. but in doing something he's done something he's done every day he was president, which is lie.
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because there's absolutely no way that's true. so it does come down to this question of where did the money come from? and as joy just expressed, it's inconceivable that without confirming with his client what happened here that michael cohen mortgaged his home to pay stormy daniels. i mean, if he mortgaged his home to pay every time someone came to his office and said they had an affair with donald trump with no proof at all, it's amazing this guy has a home at this point in time. where did that money come from? did it come from overseas? how was michael cohen involved not just russia but georgia and other foreign countries mentioned tonight. it's a key intersection with two scandals that have seemed unrelated to this point but are really coming together. as they used to say in
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watergate, follow the money. where did the $130,000 come from? it did not come from michael cohen's pocket. we can be sure of that. >> if i can jump in for a minute. one of the things that make it so absurd, as joy put it, these are two guys, president trump and michael cohen that pride themselves on being tough guys. these are two guys that pride themselves on being tough negotiators, whether it being china, we heard on the campaign trail various real estate deals, et cetera. these are not guys that are supposed to roll over when an adult film star shows up and claims she had a relationship, they're not going to get their checkbooks out and write a check for $130,000. they wrote the check because they knew my client was telling the whole truth. that's the only reason they wrote the check. otherwise they would have sent her packing.
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>> we're going to be joined by kevin hall, the senior reporter, who broke the story about the mueller investigation looking into michael cohen and his role in the trump organization. thank you for joining us. we've been trying to digest your extensive reporting tonight as it's been coming in. what are the high points you think we should be concentrating on? >> i think the biggest take away is now it's broadened to include very specific companies that were involved in the foreign and expansion of his business. if you look at the -- kind of the evolution of his business once he couldn't get loans in the united states, how he expanded to leasing his name abroad and michael cohen at a later point became a point
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person who went out to sell brand trump around the world. it wasn't places like paris or berlin, companies like the marriott go, it was places like cutter, dubai, places that aren't more conventional places that you might go invest. i think that's what you're looking at. >> sit likely, as we've been speculating here that the special prosecutor could also be interested in for example where the $130,000 came from that michael cohen says he used in the stormy daniels payoff. >> it's conceivable somewhere in this investigation that's what he's going to be looking at. mr. cohen's finances in and of themselves are interesting. he's a self-made millionaire. he has investments, i think a lot of taxi companies, owned taxicabs in the new york area. he was part of a joint venture to do ethanol in the ukraine. so he has an interest of his own and in real estate, my colleague
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greg gordon had an interesting piece about his ability to make a big return on his real estate that may be attracting the investigators as well. >> the stormy daniels case comes out, michael avenatti makes it public and the focus is michael cohen from the start. it's michael cohen's agreement that he has down up and he has signed and he -- he executed in whatever way it was done. so the focus has been on him kind of relentlessly. and the idea that the special prosecutor is now turning to michael cohen, i'm wondering how much michael avenatti's public work on this may have focussed the special prosecutor's attention, especially when this story provoked michael cohen to say publically, i came up with $130,000 and i, you know, handed
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it over in this situation two weeks before the election. and that kind of quickly raises questions about campaign finance. >> right. and it certainly raises questions about kind of the flexibility of how money might flow between related and unrelated entities. i think the fact that they were using pseudonyms and llcs that by their very nature are fairly not transparent although interestingly enough he had his name on it, which is more than most llcs have. but i think it all speaks to why he is a key person that -- irrespective of what michael avenatti is doing, he would have been a person of focus but i think the focus is much more highlighted on him than before. >> to get into the specific reporting for a moment. you report that armed with subpoenas compelling electronic
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records, mueller's team showed up at the home of a part who was part of efforts by trump to expand his brand abroad and this is someone that michael cohen has been close to. that presumably michael cohen knew about this before you did. which is to say it is very, very likely that person, hit with these subpoenas, would have let michael cohen know that? >> hard to know. cohen is a pretty combative person, he has a lot of friends but he has a lot of people he's rubbed the wrong way. his abrasiveness is documented. it's hard to know how much advance warning there was. our sense is there wasn't any advance warning. that's what was so striking about it, the speed and fluidity in which they were ready to move in and seek what they were after. >> kevin hall with the big news of the night. thank you for joining us.
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really appreciate it. >> thanks for having us. >> we're joined by jennifer reuben an msnbc contributor and one of the law school graduates at the table. as you've been digesting all of this breaking news here within the hour, i want to get your reaction to the way it seems the mueller investigation is now crossing into stormy daniels payoff territory. >> right. there are one of two possibilities, both are campaign violations. if trump did know about it, he should have revealed that. he should have disclosed that. if he didn't know about it, then mr. cohen overshot the campaign limits by about, i don't know, $128,000, something like that. i think $2,700 is the limit now. so one of them is in a lot of trouble. by the way, there are separate
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complaints filed both with doj and the fec on exactly that point. so you now have some other venues that may be seeking information. granted those are in the executive branch. i want to raise one possibility. i'm curious if michael has thought about this. that is, what if as joy put it, there are hundreds of women? what if trump set up a slush fund for the hush money? he gives a pool of money or authorizes michael cohen to get rid of any of these women who show up who have a fairly credible story and he says here's $5 million or $10 million just pay them off. in that fashion he wouldn't have to know about an individual settlement, he could claim deniableability. yet he could be the fictioner. michael cohen would be the fixer. so i think that is the next level that we go to, to see was this really a one-time only kind of thing? that seems hard to believe. >> michael, i want to get your
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opinion on that, let's remember as a frame here, michael wolff's book quotes steve bannon as saying there are hundreds of these. that was the number, hundreds. secondly, that's the question the president refused to answer today. the question was, did you establish a fund for this kind of thing? and that was the moment the president stopped talking. >> lawrence, here's one thing we do know. you don't have a 24 hour, 7 day a week fixer which is what david schwartz has recently described michael cohen as for the president. a 24/7 fixer. unless you're breaking a lot of things. so the only reason you have a fixer available 24/7 is if you're breaking things on a regular basis every day. so there's no question in my mind that michael cohen knows where a lot of bodies are buried, was fixing a lot of things for mr. trump over many, many years. so i think it's possible that a
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slush fund, if you will, was set up to compensate women. michael cohen may have been put in charge of it. but what is key about the payment to my client, as opposed to other payments that took place in the years or months prior to that payment, is the timing of it. and david schwartz and michael cohen are trying to sell the american people on the fact that this $130,000 had nothing to do with the election, was not in any way to influence the election. despite the fact they knew my client for five years, did nothing to give the money to her, sign an nda, et cetera. they want the american people to believe it's a coincidence that ten days before the election, they decided to button this up. no one will believe that. if it becomes an issues relating to a campaign finance violation, no one will ever believe the timing of that was just a coincidence.
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>> joy, schwartz issued a statement tonight after the news came out about what the president said, and he said, okay, so this confirms exactly what michael cohen said. michael cohen said the president didn't know about it and michael cohen took care of it. so in the schwartz statement, and it's hard to talk about these guys without making fun of them. because they are the worst public speakers with the word lawyer beside their name in history. schwartz's statement said that michael cohen did it to protect president trump's reputation. in the next line he said it had nothing to do with the campaign. campaigns are about reputation. voters go and vote on your reputation, among other things on election day. >> to protect his reputation. donald trump when he was a real estate developer in new york,
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when he wanted to be famous, used to pretend to be his own publicist to tell the tabloids who he was sleeping with. he wanted people to know he was sleeping with beautiful women. this has never been someone who was shy about that. let's recall in mid october he was revealed to have bragged to billy bush on that bus and "access hollywood" that he feels free to kiss women without their permission. he would appear on the howard stern show and brag about walking in on half naked teenagers because he could. this is why it makes no sense. there's two reasons why the stormy daniels situation is odd. one is the amount. if you pay somebody off, an $130,000 is an odd number, why not 150 or $125,000.
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$130,000 makes you wonder is this a piece of a larger fund. the other piece of the question is after "access hollywood" and it did nothing to his pole numbers, the support he has, particularly among white evangelical voters, who said they don't care if he's sleeping with women, why sit this woman, this case, freaks him out. this is a question i guess i would have for michael, if there are other women, were these all consensual relationships? remember, donald trump also by the election had, what, 14 or 15 women who alleged nonconsensual sexual behavior on the part of donald trump. my curiosity wonders is that why he's worried? are there women who would not characterize their relationship that stormy daniels did, does she know about that? this one woman freaking him out this much raises so many questions.
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>> i have my own personal theory, it's complete speculation, i'm happy to provide it. i think the reason why this freaks him out so much and why he is so concerned and scared to come out against my client is because of the timing of when this occurred. because it happened to occur within months of the birth of his son. >> the actual time spent with stormy daniels was four months after his last child one born. >> that is correct. and a lot of people have a lot of speculation relating to what that relationship with melania look like. a lot of people speculate to a host of things but the fact of the matter is no one knows because we're not in that relationship. we don't know what that relationship is, how it's evolved or changed over the months or years they've been together. is it possible in any view, i think it is -- is it possible that this was the one time period in that relationship, around the birth of their son where melania said if you want
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to carry on at other times, fine, but around the birth of our son, no mas. this is going to be a sacred time period. it wouldn't be unusual for a woman to take that position, a spouse -- >> a woman dealing with donald trump. >> exactly. i think the timing of this is really what drives it. and i've always believed that. the timing of when they got together in relation to the birth of his son. >> nicole wallace, our colleague here at nbc said according to her sources, his first question was when did i get married to milania? i need to do the math. so i don't know if there's some prenuptial agreement -- >> that's the cliff-hanger. we have to squeeze in at least one commercial break. michael thank you for joining us. the rest of the crew is going to stick with us.
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coming up scott pruitt, the epa director is sinking in scandal. so the president is thinking of making him attorney general. of course. ♪ if you have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, little things can be a big deal. that's why there's otezla. otezla is not an injection or a cream. it's a pill that treats psoriasis differently. with otezla, 75% clearer skin is achievable after just 4 months, ...
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if he's a subject and not yet a target and want him to become a target, they're going to ask him questions, the answers to which will move him into that target category. >> he's not yet the president's lead criminal defense lawyer but the president doesn't have a lead criminal defense lawyer anymore. so andrew is probably as close as we'll get. let's bring in josh ernest and the rest of the panel is back with us. i'm joking, of course, about andrew, he's happy at fox news he doesn't need to represent the president. he's on fox and friends this morning. he knows he's talking to the president and actually does direct his comments to the president from time to time in his advise. and he like john dowd, who was handling the defense in the prosecution, is firmly against this president going under oath
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talking to anyone, avoid it at all possible costs and it seems the deposition case we saw on the stormy daniels case on air force one today is a good example why don't you want him going under oath. >> i think it's established after seeing president trump in the oval office for a little over a year. his first instinct is always to not tell the truth. i think it's likely if he were to walk into a deposition with bob mueller, he's likely to spend a lot of time following his instincts. lawrence, the thing i keep going back to a couple weeks ago, trey gowdy, the republican congressman who built his reputation as a investigator, someone i didn't particularly have a high opinion of but he also had advice for the president on fox news. and his advise was president trump if you're innocent, it's time to start acting like it. that's the thing i'm struck by, the more we talk about these
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incidents. whether it's stormy daniels or the mueller investigation and the interference by russia in the election. president trump never acts like he's innocent. >> jennifer rubin, he still tries to go out there and say, as he did the other day, that no one has been tougher on russia than he has been. >> except for all the other presidents that preceded him. but let's go back to judge napolitano for a minute. has he heard of the subpoena power? trump doesn't get to decide if he goes before mueller. the only question is does he go voluntarily or wait for the subpoena from the grand jury. one way or another mueller is going to get him under oath. and the information to he can decide i won't talk to him because i'll be bad under oath is nuts. what's he going to do? refuse to show up? not open the door to the process server? and then go to court and refuse if the court enforces the subpoena. i don't know what he's thinking.
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perhaps these people have told him falsely, a lot of things, he can get out of this, it's a choice. it's not a choice. he's going to be compelled. and then the question is, this is the favorite of the presidency, is the president of the united states going to take the fifth? as an individual he can, as a president that's untenable. he's blocking the investigation into himself because he thinks he might be indicted. so i think this is a huge mess and every one of these people who go out there and say, don't do it, mr. president, i don't know where they're getting their advise or what they're thinking because he's not going to have a choice. >> ron klain, defending the president in this investigation is clearly a one day at a time exercise for everyone involved. so today is the question do you sit down for a voluntary interview, and the answer to that is no. we'll cross the bridge of the subpoena when we get there. and andrew will be on fox news when the subpoena arrives
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advising the property as to how and why he can deny the subpoena, and not accept service of the subpoena, do not let the marshal with the subpoena through the white house gate. >> i agree there's a possibility we're headed towards a real constitutional crisis where the president refuses to answer the questions voluntarily and then somehow believes he is literally above the law and will not honor a subpoena. what i do know as a lawyer is, it is no defense to questions, no defense to a subpoena, to say i simply am incapable of telling the truth, and therefore, i will not answer your questions. that's kind of the question that napolitano and john dowd. you heard the clip. he'll go in there and get himself in trouble answering the questions. the only way he gets in trouble is if he lies. basically this is an admission that the man cannot answer
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honestly. that means he's a congenital liar, we know that's true -- >> it's almost the insanity defense. >> let me take josh -- >> he can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy. that may come in handy later on. >> josh, i want to take you back to your experience with the presidency. and that is the president brings his whole life into the presidency. whether he likes it or not, there are going to be some uncomfortable associations that may come up. and to sit here tonight with the special prosecutor zeroing in on
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michael cohen, for you in a general shape of things way, may not be that surprising. someone the president has been associated with for years and years and years coming into the focus of the special prosecutor who is studying everything about donald trump. >> lawrence, this is i think, another one of the perils of especially president trump running a nonprofessional presidential campaign and trying to run his white house the same way. people that have relevant skills and experiences in managing these large complicated enterprises are people whose advise president trump just simply ignores. and he relies on people whose only qualification is their loyalty and willingness to lie for him. and that certainly is -- is a big part of michael cohen's job description from long before president trump entered the white house. and it's certainly true that we would expect president's to have life-long relationships and people that they trust, these are people who gave them good advice before they became famous, and you would expect they would have their priorities
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in a situation or organized in such a way that they would care personally about this person and not the power they have amassed in the white house. but those are not the kind of people that president trump has associated himself with. and that's not, frankly, the kind of people that president trump has been relying upon. i think that's in part why he's gotten such terrible advice. >> we're going to try to squeeze in another break in this almost commercial free edition of the last word. when we come back, the president is thinking about naming the scandal plagued epa administrator as the attorney general. the president denied that, of course, which means it could happen tomorrow. you wouldn't accept an incomplete job
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we know that the president has tried to fire attorney general jeff sessions so that he could get a new attorney general who will then fire the special prosecutor. and that doesn't seem any less likely today just because the president denied today that he is thinking about firing attorney general jeff sessions and replacing him with the head of the epa scott pruitt, who is currently a front runner for the most corrupt member of the trump cabinet. today before the cameras were turned on, the president was asked are you thinking of switching him out for attorney general? and the president said, no, no, no, scott is doing a great job where he is.
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because that is a trump answer it has no meaning. the president could decide to fire jeff sessions tomorrow -- and replace him immediately with scott pruitt, who would be allowed to serve temporarily as attorney general, because he has already been confirmed by the senate for another job. with the scandal surrounding scott pruitt now, he could never be confirmed by the senate for another job, but he would be able to do what the president would want him to do as attorney general in one day. and that, of course, would be, firing special prosecutor robert mueller. there can be little doubt about scott pruitt's willingness to do that, since he seems to have no ethical standards for how he conducts himself in his current job. he's under fire tonight for moving into a lobbyist's house when he arrived in washington and paying only $50 a night for his accommodation in the lobbyist's house, although there is no public proof that he actually even paid that. there's no proof that he actually paid anything. no copies of any canceled checks, for example. and the lobbyist's first represents companies with interests involving the epa, including the oil giant exxonmobil.
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even fox news correspondent ed henry wasn't buying scott pruitt's story about living in the lobbyist's house. >> this was like an airbnb situation, ed. >> it's not. it's a block from the capital. >> it's like an airbnb situation. >> so you only paid for the nights you were there? >> that's exactly right. >> but that's kind of a sweetheart deal -- >> no, it's not. >> your house in oklahoma, you pay a mortgage on that, and when you don't sleep there -- >> unfortunately, yeah. >> when you don't sleep there, you still pay the mortgage, right? >> not when i'm not -- but this is a tremendous difference. i wasn't using the facility when i wasn't there. >> try getting that deal with your landlord. you only pay rent on the nights you actually sleep at home. reports indicate that chief of staff john kelly told scott pruitt to not do any interviews, for exactly what we just saw, and obviously now we know why. scott pruitt couldn't even survive a fox news interview. our panel will be back after one more break to consider the possibility of scott pruitt getting promoted to attorney general.
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president trump said he would drain the swamp. >> i don't -- >> is draining the swamp renting an apartment from the wife of a washington lobbyist? >> i don't think that that's even remotely fair to ask that question. >> our panel is back with us. and ron klain, this is the tip of the iceberg of scott pruitt's ethical issues and giant expense issues that he's been doing, including wanting to spend $100,000 a month on private air
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travel. but, as a former chief of staff to an attorney general, what do you make of this -- these reports indicating the president has been thinking about dumping jeff sessions and putting scott pruitt in the temporary appointment? >> yeah, look, let's be clear. donald trump doesn't care that scott pruitt has broken every ethics rule in the book. he doesn't care that scott pruitt has the most improbable housing arrangement since those people had those apartments on the show "friends." he doesn't care about any of that. the reason scott pruitt stays at the epa and doesn't go to doj is that scott pruitt is so busy delivering for trump donors on pollution, on deregulation, on mining, on basically just the complete destruction of our environment that the donors want him to stay at epa and they don't want him moved over to doj. so this idea that, like, he's -- that he may not move pruitt over there, that's, that's behind the trump organization wants him to
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stay there. >> and joy, ron's point is really powerful, because that's what you keep hearing. and that's what the president keeps hearing. >> absolutely. and i think what we have to realize is that donald trump admires vladimir putin in every way, including encouraging the proliferation of american oligarchs. what scott pruitt is busy doing is hawking liquefied natural gas for his landlord's client in morocco, taking luxury trips, treating his office as if it's a personal fiefdom for his own enrichment and luxury. his whole cabinet is acting that way. the happiest person in the cabinet has got to be ben carson whose $130,000 desk now looks like a pittance compared to the way scott pruitt is living. this is an american oligarch. we're being robbed by a regime that's no different than the kleptocratic regimes around the world. >> josh, you saw a cabinet settle into their jobs and manage to travel around the country without spending
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$130,000 a month on private airline travel and spend tens of thousands of dollars on new desks. that's an awful lot of desks that the federal government already owns. why can't they even pretend for public appearances to be behaving well? >> yeah, lawrence, i think a lot of this just goes to, their priorities are all off. and they are much less focused on their jobs, and much more interested in trying to figure out how their jobs can make them look good. but, you know, lawrence, there is one piece of this story that really does kind of stick in my craw, which is, there's been a lot of discussion about how scott pruitt's international travel actually is pretty similar to the international travel bills that were racked up by gena mccarthy, his predecessor at the epa. what those stories and pruitt tease defenders fail to tell you is that while scott pruitt was traveling around the world playing some lobbyist version of carmen san diego, gena mccarthy was actually traveling all
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around the planet, because she was at the forefront of trying to secure an international claimant agreement that will literally save our planet. and she did it all while she was flying coach. so i -- so i think there's a pretty stark difference. and too often the comparison of those numbers actually fails to leave out the context of what actually gena mccarthy was doing when she was traveling around the world? >> jennifer ruben, apparently no one explained to donald trump what "drain the swamp" means. >> well, donald trump has no interest in any of the ethical rules. this is how he's lived his entire life. on debt, on scamming people, taking money from trump u. students. so nothing has changed. and he's found people equally corrupt and equally bad at their job. and nothing is going to change until the midterm elections. because the republicans don't care. >> jennifer ruben, josh earnest, ron klain, joy reid, thank you all for joining us on this extraordinary hour tonight. really appreciate it. >> thanks, lawrence.
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>> that's tonight's last word. up next, catherine lucey, the associated press reporter on air force one today who you heard ask president trump for the very first time about stormy daniels and get an answer. she is the first guest in "the 11th hour with brian williams" and that starts now she is the first guest in "the 11th hour with brian williams" and that starts now. new tonight, president trump breaks his silence on stormy daniels and that payment to keep the porn star quiet. the reporter who finally got him to answer the question joins us. and breaking tonight, late developments in the mueller probe. new scrutiny of the president's lawyer, michael cohen, and the trump organization. plus, the hits keep coming for embattled epa chief, scott pruitt. so you might be surprised to hear what the president had in mind for him. a promotion. "the 11th hour" begins now. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york.