tv MSNBC Live With David Gura MSNBC June 3, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
californians are leading against donald trump. our senator should, too. kevin de león is the only candidate for senate who passed laws protecting immigrants from trump... and helped dreamers stay in school. he led bold action against climate change. and only de león fought for universal, medicare for all. democrat kevin de león the only true progressive for senate. change california now is responsible for the content of this advertising. hey, everybody, i'm david gura at msnbc headquarters in new york. the 20 page secret memo from president trump's lawyers to robert mueller, revelations therein about their strategy,
and the president's perspective on his own powe here's his new lawyer weighing in on it today. >> i look at the obstruction part of the argument this way. he didn't on strobstruobstruct. we can win it on the facts, can't be indicted, can't be questioned because it interfears with the presidency. >> diplomacy or propaganda, some u.s. officials say president trump is giving north korea exactly what the country wants, a grand display this week with kim jong-un's right-hand man. sessions and the terrible, horrible, no good very bad week. attorney general jeff sessions enduring attack after attack from the president. for recusing himself from the russia investigation. let's begin with the president's lawyer, rudy giuliani, speaking out on that 20-page letter, two of president trump's lawyers sent to robert mueller earlarler this year. here is rudy giuliani talking about presidential pardons. >> he has no intention of pardoning himself. doesn't say he can't. it would be an open question.
i think it would probably get answered by, gosh, that's what the constitution says, if you want to change it, change it, but, yeah. >> the president's lawyers also wrote that the president could end any justice investigation if he wanted to. the president is not capable of obstructing the investigation. they warn of fighting back, if presidt trump were t subpoenaed, and they maintain there is no need for an interview between president trump and robert mueller. president trump's legal team even acknowledge that president trump, himself, dictated a statement about that meeting in trump tower involving his son and a russian lawyer? that contradicts what one of the president ee president's lawyers and the author of the memo jay sekulow said last year and what white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders has said. >> the statement that was released on sy was released by donald trump jr., and i'm sure in consultation with his lawyers. the presidents wasn't involved in it. i do want to be cleared the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. it came from donald trump jr. that's what i can tell you.
>> he certainly didn't dictate, you know, like i said, he weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do. >> joining me, jeff bennett, nbc white house correspondent. betsy woodruff, msnbc contributor. and frank vaglusi with ets risk managementief officer the and msnbc contributor as with el. betsy, let me start with you. i mentioned the trump tower meeting. what we learned from the memo, versus what we heard from representatives of the president over the last many minuonths. how important is that when you look at the memo, all that's in there, that particular piece of information? >> it's important because it speaks to the credibility of jay sekulow, the longest serving member of the president's personal legal team, he's outlasted ty cobb, outlasted tom dowd. the fact that he was willing to go on tv and say one thing, to claim publicly that the president had nothing to do with the drafting of that misleading
statement that went to "the new york times," but at the same time prior to having made those public tv statements, he specifically signed a litter saying that, no, actually the president was involved in drafting the statement. thatspokeperson to the presiden. what other things has jay sekulow said on tv that don't line up with his own version of reality? >> k you listened to rudy giuliani speaking this morning, what he said on those two morning shows, not dissimilar from what we heard him say over the last few weeks, not kiss similar to what his predecessor said, other members of the president's legal team has said. what's different now that we've seen this report, what's the importance to you of having this fleshed out in 20 pages? >> yeah, so if we distill this down into just a couple thoughts, the memo reveals the thought process here that the president is going to have absolute powers. that he can't obstruct justice because he is justice. he can't break the law because he is the law.
and if this was the best they can do, david, i think we're headed to the supreme court and i think the supreme court will rule in the favor of justice and the special counsel. rudy giuliani is not serving the president well today or in past days. there is chaos being reflected here as betsy pointed out, with dichotomy and disparity between what the memo asserts and what has been said previously by counsel. now giuliani basically saying our recollection, he actually said today, our recollections change. that's why the president can't go and get interviewed because we have a sliding scale of memory here. it's chaotic, and it would almost be humorous if it weren't so gravely serious about the potential for the president trying to usurp the powers of the other two branchs of government. and that's essentially what he's saying. the head of the executive branch is somehow far more powerful than the other two branches. that's a constitutional crisis. jeff is describing going to the
supreme court would be extraordinary, outline in this document from now one of the president's former attorneys and a current attorney, is that there might be some reluctance on the special counsel's part to wade into ose waters, break through the terrain that hasn't been charted before. kma what's your sense of bob mueller's willingness to do that if it were to come to that? >> it's hard to know what mueller would do. the takeaway have from having read the memo, the trump legal team is certainly gambling he won't try to forge new legal ground here and bring bragrand y subpoena against a sitting president into a criminal proceeding, so rudy giuliani today said that the president is unlikely to sit voluntarily for an interview, which is a separate thing, but he did say, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility. he said, you know, if the interview could be kept relatively short, if the questions are narrow in scape, if mueller meets a high bar, what he's seeking, they might be
open to it. look, the special counsel as we know has been trying to get the president to sit for a face-to-face since september and the negotiations have been ongoing for the last six months, david. >> betsy, i want you to react to played at the top of rudy giuliani talking about the prospects for a presidential pardon of the president. you had rudy giuliani laughing that off at once. and then saying if he wanted to do it, he could. help me with this particular line of thinking that we see from the president's legal team. >> is this fits with sort of the expansive view of executive power that people in some corners of the conservative legal world take and view very seriously. this is especially kind of from the dick cheney line of thinking that president has extraordinary almost unchecked powers that if he want to do something that the constitution suggests he has the power to do, that he can do it and there's little to no recourse from the other branches of government to push back or constrain the president. so rudy giuliani seems to be kind of channeling dick cheney here. sort of speaking the wa i that we would have expected some of
president george w. bush's legal advisers to speak and that's something, of course, many people with the civil libber e community and congressional democrats will find very perplexing and very troubling but also potentially tees off a major conflict for down the road. the broader questions of executive power are also touched on in this memo. the question of whether or not the president is the law, whether or not the president is justice. that's all of a piece with this expansive view of executive power that giuliani seems to be pushing in the comments he made about pardons. >> frank, we have heard this president and members of his team raising the specter of corruption within government agencies for many months now. and buried in this report are allegations of that as well. regarding james comey, what he might have misremembered or misrepresented. some aspersions being cast here at the fbi and the j ustice department. what does that say to you that that is codified in this? >> have it's sad part of their
legal defense might actually be to attack the investigators an the agencies, again, it's all about eroding the public's perception of these agencies and, therefore, claiming that the investigation, itself, is somehow tainted. it's interesting because if you ask most americans, should the president of the united states operate above the law? they'll say no. should the president of the united states be somehow able to be held accountable for his actions? they'll say yes. yet, what the president is trying to say is i'm not acco t accountable to anyone and anyone who looks at me and investigates me and tries to check my powers is corrupt. if that's the best they can do, then they're in trouble, but the battle for the public perception was laid out by rudy giuliani. he said, that's what they're doing, they're trying to lay the groundwork for a potential impeachment and have the american public buy into this notion that the president is above the law. >> jeff, last question to you, how has the white house reacted to this? obviously, rudy giuliani who we expected to be at camp david this weekend didn't go.
he was on the sunday shows. what have we heard from the white house beginning with that rather extraordinary tweet that hit twitter just a few moments before "the new york times" broke this story? >> well, what we've been hearing has really come from the president, himself, he did send one tweet today about the special counsel investigation to say, you know, if paul manafort, my former campaign chairman, was a problem, why didn't the fbi tell me earlier? look, we've seen the president do this previously, he tries to rationalize and minimize his connection to people who've been ensnared by robert mueller. remember, he called george papadopoulos, the former trump campaign foreign policy adviser, called him a coffee boy. but we know that paul manafort was part of the campaign from mid-march to at least mid-august of 202016. he was there for a crucial time. he was with the campaign during the gop convention at a time when the only change made to the republican party platform was about ukraine. we know, what, paul manafort had done pro-russia work in ukraine.
the other thing we should say is that it's no secret that paul manafort made his fortune as a political consultant to dictators overseas, and had been missing from the republican, you know, party political consultancy for about two decades before president trump tapped him to join his campaign. the oather thing, as nbc news hs reported, the fbi did warn the trump campaign and the clinton campaign after those two became the respective nominees of their parties that foreign adversaries including russia would try to spy and infiltrate the campaign. the president's tweet, his complaints about, hey, in mind sight, i could have used some help, off the mark, david. >> geoff, thank you for the perspective. geoff bennett, frank figliuzzi, betsy woodroof. president posiing for to e toes after meeting with one of kim jong-un's confidants. why some say moments like this
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welcome back. i'm david gura. new today, u.s. secretary of defense james mattis said sanctions relief is off the table for north korea for now. he was in singapore ahead of the summit between president trump and kim jong-un outlining the u.s. position to his japanese and south korean counterparts. >> we can anticipate at best a bumpy road to the negotiations. north korea will receive relief, only when it demonstrates a verifiable and irreversible steps to denuclearization. >> we're now nine dayeds away from the june 12th summit in singapore. john hudson was one of the reporters who was there in singapore watching the summit planning take place. he landed back in d.c. hours ago. he covers national security for the "washington post" and joins me now. thank you for coming in on such little sleep, i imagine, john. you were there -- >> good to be here. >> what do the preparations look like on the ground? we heard the kdeputy chief for
the white house has been in singapore beginning to hammer out what the talks are going to look like, where they're going do be. all of that. what's your sense of what's going to happen based on the reporting you've done in singapore? >> we basically got an american delegation and we've got a north korean delegation at two different hotels in singapore swarmed by a phalanx of asian press who are trying to collect little tidbits on the preparations for this summit. one of the things i was reporting on, while i was there, is this issue over who's going to pay for the hotel of kim jong-un. there's a little bit of back and forth going on right now. it looks like we might have an arrangement by which the singaporean government covers the expenses, the north koreans have expressed a preference to stay at the fullert hotel, this magnificent neoclassical hotel, in singapore, that has presidential suites that cost, you know, as much as $6,000 a night. so we'll see if the entourage gets treated in that regard. north korea, of course, has this
long history of demanding that foreign countries pay up for its travel costs. so it's been an interesting thing to cover. >> i'm not going to put you on the spot and ask if you are staying fullerton hotel, john, but we did see photos you'd taken from inside where these meetings might take place. this is a great story. what did you learn just about sort solve the logistical preparations involved in getting this thing under way? >> well, it has been extremely secretive. the entire process. and u.s. officials and, of course, the north korean officials, have been extremely tight lipped about not revealing any details. that's really because security gets to one of the core concerns of the north korean government. kim jong-un has been nervous about leafiving the country in general for fear of a military coup so every type of movement, every type of event, every type of transportation detail, is something that is scrutinized to an extreme degree. so they're going over everything and they're trying to reveal as little as possible to the press.
and so there were no briefings after these meetings. it really took having to sit around in lobbies waiting to catch someone and hopefully having a quick interaction. i did with the american delegation team lead joe hagan but only for a few brief moments then he was whisked away. so very little transparency when it came to these logistical talks going on. >> john, while you were away, we had the number two man from north korea in washington having the extraordinary 90 90-minutin meeting in the white house with the president of the united states. he coming to new york, then to washington. you had the head of the syrian government, bashar al assad saying he plans to make a trip, reportedly, to north korea to meet with kim jong-un. had sergey lavrov, russian foreign minister, making a trip to pyongyang to meet with kim you jong- jong-un. let me take those two things in focus here for a moment. you the white house indicating
this summit is going to full speed ahead. these are two characters the white house has had a difficult relationship with here to say the least over these last few years. what does it say to you that there could be this meeting between the syrian leader and north korea's leader that we could see kim jong-un meet with president putting as well? >> i think this marks a coming out period for kim jong-un, really any north korean leader in general. it's called the hermit kingdom for a reason. there's not a lot of engagement that happens between the north korean leader and the world in general. so these flurry of meetings is really a fascinating thing. and for this meeting, specifically, the kcna, the north korean broadcaster, is the one that revealed that assad might visit north korea. so clearly we had an interest from pyongyang to make this publ public. i think what we're seeing as well as in the photograph in the white house visit that you
mentioned earlier, is a real desire if for north korea to be seen as a member of the community of nations, no longer a pariah state. someone who can meet with the president of the united states, take photographs and no longer being seen as a human rights atrocity, a dictator, who has a tight grip on the most isolated regime in the world. it's really turning into sort solve a pr victory for the north koreans in their view, but of course, this is just the beginning of the road. >> john, last question here. on days when you're not traveling the world, not in singapore, you're at the state department covering mike pompeo, the secretary of state. he has played on outsized role here in getting us to this point. to this summit. again, scheduled to take place in nine days' time. what are you going to be watching for over those next nine days as you report on his -- what he's doing, what's going on in the state key apartmen department, ahead of these talks? >> yeah. what's fascinating is secretary pompeo has been the most
involved in these talks. starting from his time as cia director, helping birth this summit and get the groundwork going, to now having several sort of historic engagements with the north koreans. so what we're going to be watching for is pompeo's interest in making this summit happen. making it productive. meanwhile, while national security adviser john bolton remains really a skeptic inside this administration. and i think there's really a lot of potential for clashing when it comes to how much should the united states be engaging, how much of a hard line, how many preconditions should the u.s. set up for any sort of a deal that involved the denuclearization? is it an immediate full-scale denuclearization, is it a phased approa approach? these are huge debates going on inside the trump administration. and we've got some big loud voices weighing in on different sides. that's what i'm going to be watching for. >> all right. just back from singapore, john hudson of the "washington post," thank you very much for the time. >> great to be here.
next, attorney general jeff sessions' bad week, he weathers another round of criticism from president trump for recusing hif om the russia investigation. (vo) what if this didn't have to happen? i didn't see it. (vo) what if we could go back? what if our car... could stop itself? in iihs front-end crash prevention testing, nobody beats the subaru impreza. not toyota. not honda. not ford. the subaru impreza. more than a car, it's a subaru. ♪now i'm gonna tell my momma ♪that i'm a traveller ♪i'm gonna follow the sun♪ ♪now i'm gonna tell my momma ♪that i'm a traveller ♪i'm gonna follow the sun
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change california now is responsible for the content of this advertising. all right. welcome back. i'm david gura. a lot of reaction today to the publication of the previously secret 20-page letter from two of the president's lawyers to special counsel robert mueller. that letter arguing the president has power to stop the mueller investigation whenever he wants. and even pardon himself if needed. earlier today, on "meet the
press," president trump's attorney rudy giuliani admitted such a decision may not end well for the president. >> the president of the united states pardoning himself would just be unthinkable, and it would -- it would lead to probably an immediate ill pea impeachment. >> joining me, barbara mcquaide. she's a law professor at the university of michigan and msnbc contributor. barbara, let me take advantage of the fact the semester's over, you've probably been grading a lot of students' attempts at legal memos. . characterize what we've seen here. this doesn't look like a lot of legal memo i've seen in the past. what's your sense of who the audience is for this memo, these two attorneys, jay sekulow, and john dowd, were writing this memo for? >> seems to me this memo was written with at least not the soul purpose, at least the understanding at some point this would be released to the public. there are a lot of passages in here robert mule and his team would have known and wouldn't be
necessary to share with them such as the list of matters of inquiry from robert mueller, for example. it strikes me that this is an effort at public relations to put at least a little bit of law out there that people can hang their hat on to argue that the isinvestigation, and that he op should not have is to sit for an interview. >> just want to read a little bit from here, a couple excerpts from the memo. "this encumbrance has been compounded by the astoubdastoub public relations. we see that salvo from the two attorneys. another excerpt, "counsel for both sides developed an informal confidential and cooperative relationship to ex-petite the conclusion of the inquiry. it was agreed that all the conversations were confidential and off the record. so as to encourage candor and engagement as opposed to adversarial hostility." let's take those two in kind. starting with the last one there. there is an emphasis, barbara throughout this memo of how
closely the two sides have worked together. the president's attorney is very keen to say they have been cooperative. why is that? >> well, first, i think this demonstrates that idea that if this is the relationship, there's no need to state that in a letter. to say, as you know, we've been cooperative, been x, y, z. i think this is an effort to tell the public these things. i point here is to make the public case that they have been cooperative, that they're transparent, that they want to be able to let the fbi get to the bottom of all of this information, and that it is unnecessary for the president to sit for an interview because of all that has been shared. however, i think that you can't decide an obstruction of justice case without looking to decide whether the president had a corrupt intent. i think you can only have that by having him sit for an interview. >> put the first quote, talking about alleged corruption within the fbi and department of justice. barbara, for so long we've seen this waged in the court of public opinion. does it represent to you a turn
to see all of this codified in a legal document, you have the president's lawyers indicating that they would make that legal argument about corruption? >> yeah, i think this, you know, i don't know who leaked this couple, but certainly someone with a motive to leak this document would be someone aligned with the trump team. and trying to put out there in black and white that it's the lawyers who are now saying this, everyone saying this, these critical things of the investigators and the investigation, itself, again, trying to put that out into the court of public opinion. would have been no need to share the information with robert mueller and his team, and would have been counterproductive to share is solely with them. i have to think this document was written and shared with the purpose of putting thit out in t public arena. >> as we mine this vein further, see the president focusing on bob mueller in particular, tweeted a quote from mark penn, former clinton add vviser in wh he talked about there being members or former members of the
clinton foundation on bob mueller's team. tweets from the president indicating therere 13 angry and heavily conflicted democrats, something we heard time and time again. how do you react to that when you look at the composition of bob mueller's team as the investigation progresses? >> it worries me this will really undermine the ability of prosecutors and law enforcement to do their jobs in the future. when robert mueller selected members of this team, i'm sure he did so based on experience and reputation as prosecutors, outstanding prosecutors. i don't think he asked them or knew what their political affiliation was, in fact, it would be illegal for him to do so. he probably didn't know their political affiliation because it's not something people talk about when they're doing their work in prosecuting cases. they talk about the facts and the law. and you check your politics at the door. and to suggest that it is a factor in this case, i think, not only is self-serving to president trump, in this instance, but i think that it will cause concern and suspicious in all cases going forward and i think it can cause some really long-term damage to the objectivity and public trust
of law enforcement. >> pull back the curtain here. last question just about how one forms a team like this. you look at who comprises bob mueller's team and the expertise that they bring to bear. you've got experts on financial crimes, on national security, on cyber crime, on appellate law. how does somebody in his position go about configuring a team, building a team like the one he has? >> well, you know, he has, himself, a long history as both a u.s. attorney and as head of the fbi and he likely knows people in those positions so my guess is, these were people he knew. i knew andrew wiseman, for example, is someone he worked in the past, he probably worked with some of these people or talked with others who have good reputations. up all have stellar reputation, great experience in handling the matters. you also want to shore up the needed expertise in a case like. this. as you mentioned, some of those subject areas where you need expertise. i think that's how he assembled it. this is a group of people who are current or former justice depared apartment lawy
department lawyers. most certainly politics did not enter into the equation whatsoever. >> barbara, always great to speak with you. thanks so much. >> thanks, david. u.s. attorney jeff sessions is no stranger of public shaming from his boss. >> i am disa pointed in the attorney general. 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. >> that was president trump last july after jeff sessions stepped down from the russia investigation. the president needled sessions last week first with this tweet quoting republican congressman trey gowdy who said, "there are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked someone else." the president adding, "and i wish i did." hours later the president tweeting again, quoting former u.s. attorney joe divanova. joining me, npr justice correspondent, carrie johnson and katie bennett from "the new york times." another week for jeff sessions facing the kind of attacks he
faced for many weeks now. how is he weathering this, what effect is this having on the attorney general? >> well, jeff sessions told some of the beat reporters on the doj beat including myself that attacks from the president hurt his feelings bought he's keeping his head down and doing his job. just this week, david, jeff sessions was giving speeches about the department's commitment to religious freedom, talking about the number of federal judges the trump administration has appointed to lifetime appointments and once again, emphasizing his new zero tolerance policy toward immigrants. illegal immigrants at the border. jeff sessions has an agenda. he wants to accomplish, and despite these attacks, persistent attacks from the president, he's getting things done at doj. >> katie, weigh in on this as well. i think you've written about it for the "times." you have kind of liberated jeff sessions in a way. carrie there enumerating things he cares about, policy positions he's taken for a long time. things he's wanted to change. the argument can be made by not having to deal with the russia investigation, for lack of
better words, he has more things to deal with times he wants to deal with. >> absolutely. one of the ironies of trump's attacks, in many ways jeff sessions is trump's best foot soldier. he's a person who has very impactfully and forced some of donald trump's policies he loves the most, his base loves the most. he's cracked down on immigration, cracked down on gangs like ms-13. he talks about them all the time. he should be trump's favorite cabinet member, only because trump is obsessed with the mueller investigation is he not. he have this really strange iron in i playing out where sessions despite it all is trump's best advocate right now. >> carrie, i mentioned comments we heard over the last week-plus about jeff sessions and his decision to rekus himself from this case. you had steve bannon on cnn talking to fareed zakaria, he thinks it was fine, essentially, that he did this. let's take a listen to what steve bannon had to say. >> the president is wrong. i think the president's wrong, been wrong from the beginning about if i can respectfully kiss
agree disagree with the president of the united states. i think the whole concept of recusal is not even an issue. i think rudy giuliani, chris christie, jeff sessions, anybody associated with the campaign would have had to recuse themselves before grassley's committee voted them out to go to the floor for a vote. >> just listen to that, carrie, i wonder how loud this is, how many people are talking an the recruusal issue. we see it in the president's twitter feed. hear people talking about it, trey gowdy, outgoing congressman from south carolina. is it something a lot of people are seizing on? >> republicans close to the president, aside from steve bannon, are still beating up the attorney general for this recusal, but david, steve bannon is right, this is an investigation of russian interfeerns inte interference in the election. whether anyone on trump's
campaign -- it's quite clear, though sessions waited a couple of months after his confirmation to recuse formally, anyone inside the justice department, anyone who served in the justice department, would understand that that was a necessary and clear step. jeff sessions is simply following the rules here. >> katie, last question to you. we're waiting for an inspector general report on 2016, the role of hillary clinton's e-mail investigation, supposed to be money hundreds of pages long. michael horowitz who authored many of the reports is the man behind this one as well. set the stage for us about thet. what we could expect in that lengthy report from the i.g. >> absolutely. i think most people thinkin inspector general is going to criticize comey for his decision to talk about the clinton investigation despite the fact many of his colleagues did not think he should do that, despite
the fact it seems like there are clear laws in the u.s. attorneys' manual saying he shouldn't have. that's on the table. it there might be criticisms of former attorney general loretta li lynch for her meeting on the tarmac with president bill clinton. tried to erode confidence in the justice department overall, he may use this report as a way to say that there is a conspiracy against him. he's going to grab on to any piece of information that makes it look like justice department officials behaved poorly. as a way to continue to undermine the doj. >> carrie, i mentioned michael horowitz, lastly to you, how he is regarded? he's been at the center of so many of these controversies over the last few months. >> president trump tweeted at one point this year horowitz was an obama guy. michael horowitz worked for the bush justice department after 9/11, helped set up the enron task force, prosecuted public corruption cases in new york city. he is a justice department institutionalist. a guy who generally plays it down the middle. and he has been unafraid as
inspector general to criticize both democrats and republicans who cross the lines. that's what i expect to see in this next report from him as well. >> all right. we await that report, my thanks to carrie johnson fronpr, katie benner of "the new york times." coming up, who is california's most endangered republic republican, what a win or loss in that could tell us about the midterm elections. advanced connectivity... and one more thing... the world comes with it. the new, reimagined 2019 jeep cherokee. you might or joints.hing for your heart... but do you take something for your brain. with an ingredient originally found in jellyfish, prevagen is the number one selling brain-health supplement
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its multi-cloud complexity creating friction... and slowing innovation. with software-defined solutions, like hpe oneview, you can tame the it monster. hewlett packard enterprise. less complexity. more visibility. welcome back. i'm david gura. california's most endangered republican facing a re-election bid. in this week's "watch for this." golden state primary set for tuesday, dane a rohrabacher confronting changing demographics and fresh questions about pro-russian views and affiliation with russian president vladimir putin. win or lose, the election for rohrabacher is a barometer on how well the parties will do in the midterms. beth is msnbc senior politics editor. joins me with her insider take. he's an outsider character, dana rohrabacher. over the last few years we've
seen him demonstrating coziness and skepticism about russia's intervention in the u.s. presidential election. what does he face here? i mentioned the changing demographics. >> orange county, california, it used to b a hardcore reagan conservatism, richard nixon's library is based there. it was sort of the solid republican largely very heavily populated region -- >> not a purple district. >> no. until 2016, when hillary clinton did beat donald trump very f narrowly in the presidential election. therefore, democrats really believe they've got a chance there and because it is such a densely populated area, there are four congressional districts that touch orange county. so democrats are focusing on all of them. seeing if they can make some inroad and maybe knock off a few republican districts. now, rohrabacher is the only one of these republicans who represent orange county who is still in the running. two other republicans have decided to retire. rather than face these changing demographics. so rohrabacher is down there in a district that is, joyou know,
definitely no longer the majority white district it long was. starting to become majority/minority. he's an odd character as you said, very much out on his own especially in terms f s of his coziness with russia. very, very pro-russia. believes the united states should have closer ties to the russian government. he's gotten himself caught up to some degree in the special counsel probe. the special counsel is looking into meetings that he had with paul manafort, meetings he had with mike flynn. he has gone over to visit jewuln assange, of course, the chairman of wikileaks which distributed all those e-mails that were allegedly hacked by russia. he's got his fingers in a lot of these pots and testing whether the 30 years he spent in congress, the voters want to send him back, whether they want somebody who demographically matches the district now that's it's changing and whether russia will van impact on lts electith.
>> there are peculiarities, with the system, with referenda. given that, what this might tell you about other elections more generally, how does what happens in california different? >> california has this top two primary, also referred to as the jungle primary. every regardless of party runs on one ballot. whomever is in the top two positions at the end will face each other in november. that could mean a democrat and a republican. it could mean two republicans. it could mean two democrats. you just never know. the idea was when, at its inception, this plan was to get more moderates to win. some of these elections. california's political leaders felt the democratic primaries were pulling in all these super left-leaning candidates, republican primaries, nominate the most right-wing candidates. nobody was really being represented by either choice. so this might be a better way to do it. to get those moderates, perhaps, to consolidate behind one or two candidates. the problem is as you know, david, right now, we are so
polarized, this country is so nobody is in mood to reward folks or anybody in the middle with anything. the republicans on these ballots in california, places like orange county, are running as hard to the right as they ever have been, embracing trump. democrats are embracing single payer, free college, medicaid, medicare for all. they're going -- very much to the left. what we're seeing is the polarization of america is manifesting itself in the place where it really wasn't supposed to happen, where it was deliberately set up for moderates to win. it's not working. >> you're watching for the midterms, what they're going to indicate. joe biden, former vice president, watching those midterms as well. what do we know at this point about what that's going to mean for him as he calculates what his political future is going to be? >> biden is traveling the country extensively, came paining on behalf of other candidates. he went down for doug jones, democrat in the alabama senate race. he's out on the book tour, promoting t book he wrote about his son's death.
that death is still very, very -- weighs very heavily, on him on his family. it does affect his decision about whether or not to run in 2020. i know from being out in iowa, he is in touch with a lot of the newer faces that are coming into iowa to explore their options. including eric garcetti, mayor of los angeles. a lot of those folks calling joe biden saying, joe, you knows are you going to do it or aren't you? right now joe biden is certainly the best-known democrat maybe along with bernie sanders thinking about getting back in in 2020. joe biden is telling people, go for it, if you're interested in running for president -- >> interesting. >> -- take a look, take a gander, see if it fits. he's telling people he will decide probably right after the midterm. he's see what happens in the midterm elections, whether or not democrats reclaim the house, whether democrats have a little bit of juice going into the presidential re-election of donald trump and whether he's the right guy to carry that flag. >> all right. that primary in california on tuesday. be be beth, thank you very much, appreciate you joining me. president trump and kim kardashian-west drew a lot of
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prison without parole for the first time non-violent drug offense. johnson is one of the more than 279,000 people incarcerated in the u.s. on drug charges, many of them nonviolent and almost half of those drug offenders who are serving mandatory sentences had little or no criminal history. like candace smith who was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison before she was pardoned by president bill clinton in 2000. >> how much time do you think you should have gotten, kemba? >> at maximum, i would say two years because i do accept responsibility for my choices, but also the unfairness in it. i was grateful enough to get a second chance, but there are so many other individuals who are still there. >> kemba smith joins me now and i want to ask you first of all, how the process unfolded for you and dinesh d'souza was pardoned
and he didn't file an application and he wasn't eligible to apply for five years. what was the process for you that led to that pardon? >> oh, wow, that's a loaded question because there were several people involved and organizations and individuals who wrote letters and signed petitions and the naacp legal defense fund had been fighting on my behalf, but there was actually a person that became involved. he was a strong supporter of tough, mandatory minimum sentencing and drug sentencing and his wife read an article in "the washington post" newspaper and ultimately his wife threw the newspaper at him and said you created this. you do something about it, and he was a strong advocate for my clemency campaign, but there was a huge movement in an era where there was no social media in order for me to get my sentence commuted by president clinton. >> i would love for you to reflect on the last 20 years and i heard you talking to phil don hugh how you wanted to speak out
and you wanted this to change in the country and you saw the president with kim kardashian. the story is fundamentally still the same. people who committed first-time offenses are very long periods time in prison. >> it's so true and it's unfortunate that there were so many people on social media criticizing the fact that kim kardashian was the one that brought it to president trump's attention. me being in that position in the past and alice johnson, being sunday, god can use anyone and so i know alice's family, my parents wouldn't have mattered who it was, and i thank god that she had the courage to speak up for alice and would want other influential individuals to continue to speak up on this effort and it has been a long time coming, discussion, was there some movement on it during the obama administration. there was a bipartisan effort and you know, recently there has been this prison reform legislation that, you know, does a little bit, but not enough and
it seems like in this day and age we have to be grateful for what we get, but i just feel like as far as this issue of commutation. i've been very passionate about changing policy and changing t laws and i feel like i'm the lone person who got commutation and i have a sense of survivor's guilt because there are so many people that need that act of mercy of commutation, and i need jeff sessions, and president trump for them to actually hear people's stories and see them as individuals because people do deserve a second chance. >> i understand that you had a chance to talk to the president on these issues. you were able to talk about what happened to you and what you think could happen. how receptive was he and how confident are you that president trump will tackle these issues and you look back at what president obama did with his pardons. he pardoned a lot of drug offenders in each of the rounds of pardons he did. what is your sense on what president trump is going to do? >> i didn't actually have an
opportunity to speak to president trump. i was in the setting where they were talking about the prison reform legislation, and in president obama's erae invited former prisoners, and i was the one who was in that meeting with president obama and i would invite president trump to do the same thing because i think once you hear people's stories, people come out of prison and want to do better and want to have learned from their mistakes. i've had the opportunity to get out 16 years before i was supposed to. i was able to see my son graduate. alice johnson has been in for over 20 years. there are other first-time non-violent drug offenders who have been in prison that deserve the same opportunity and some people that aren't first-time non-violent offenders that have been in prison too long. families are being ruined and we need to re-evaluate this issue
of incarceration in our country and how we're locking so many people up and how it's destroying families and look at alternatives to that. so i just want to encourage president trump to hear some of these stories and not just think everybody falls in the same category. >> i appreciate the time. that's kemba smith. >> coming up next hour, more reaction pouring in from the memo from the president's lawyers that seem to be pushing the limits of presidential powers. re better off throwing your money right into the harbor. i'm gonna regret that. with new car replacement, if your brand new car gets totaled, liberty mutual will pay the entire value plus depreciation. liberty stands with you. liberty mutual insurance.
>> that does it for me program i'm david gura. i'll be back next saturday and southbound, @davidg rushgs a between now and then. i hand it over to may colleague yasmin vossoughian. >> have a good time. i'm yasmin vossoughian. how far does the president's power go? rudy giuliani making the case for the leaked memo. president trump cannot be forced to answer questions, cannot obstruct justice and can even pardon himself. the question we've been asking himself, because he's in charge of the justice department and the fbi. plus, if he is subpoenaed his lawyers are ready to fight and are even threatening to take special counsel to court. we may reveal something about donald trump jr. that was