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people i love to know whenever i die, that i was happy. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline", i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. >> a very good morning to you, i'm richard liu here in new york city. here's what's happening. zero tolerance blowback. president trump falsely repeating claims that democrats are behind the separation of migrant families at the border. >> shame on america. shame on donald trump and shame on jeff sessions and any of these republicans who are kplis it in this behavior. >> new questions whether the outcry of the policy will backfire on republicans. prepared for war. a new report says while robert mueller prepares to wrap up his probe, trump's attorneys are getting ready for a fight. the steps they may take to
discredit the russia investigation. the pruitt problem, dispute multiple probes into his conduct, scott pruitt still has a job. how he remains in the president's good graces. we'll start with a live picture of capitol hill, a beautiful sunday morning where republican leaders are scrambling to get support from the white house on a compromised immigration bill and clear up some confusion after president trump initially said he would oppose the bill just a couple of days ago. a republican leadership source telling nbc news last night heeders are hoping to get some clarity when president trump meets with them on capitol hill tuesday. new details on how white house officials like stephen miller has been one of main drivers, pushing the president to enforcing the separation policy after it was first floated by then dhs secretary john kelly in march of 2017. with escalating krilt sixes on both sides of the aisle, a new
prediction for how bad it could get. a border patrol chief telling the "washington post" last night, family separations could double in number. department of homeland security saying nearly 2,000 children already have been separated from their parents between april and may. "washington post" also giving us a sense here of how dire the situation is for children housed in at least one of the shelters. the president of the american academy of pediatrics visited a shelter in texas and told the post workers there are not al w allowed to touch the children even if it means consoling crying toddlers. president trump -- a strategy that carries risk for republicans long term. kelly o'donnell has more. >> reporter: far from the real world consequences, is the red meat of immigration politics. president trump tweeted, democrats can fix their forced family break-up at the border by working with republicans on new
legislation for a change. this white house video links an alleged gang murder to rules affecting child immigrants. >> the gang member reportedly entered our country through glaring loopholes for unaccompanied alien minors. >> after he distanced himself from his own administration's zero tolerance policy that triggered the situations. >> i hate it. hate to see separation of parents and children. >> the president's strategy is to blame democrats for blocking passage of immigration reforms and border security. but outcry over the treatment of immigrant children could blow back on republicans. oklahoma senator james langford posted video where he tells a constituent, he has a message for the white house. >> keep families together as much as we can possibly keep families together. >> for republican candidates, immigration is an issue that gets conservative voters to turn out. >> build that wall. build that damn wall.
>> dan donovan has president trump's endorsement in this month's stateland newk ary. he also had his lawyers campaign help. >> you know i represent president trump. >> issues like immigration could determine control of congress. the president's allies like giuliani plainly argue the president's fate is on the line. >> let's stop the responsibility of a ridiculous impeachment and make sure i don't have to see nancy pelosi on television anymore. thank you. >> president trump plans to visit house republicans on tuesday to talk strategy about two immigration bills. the more conservative hard line bill is not likely to pass. leaving the door open to a compromise that would address family separations, would grant legal status to young immigrants known as dreamers and beef up border security. the votes could happen late next
week. will the president get behind one of these measures and will his support help or hurt? >> let's bring in kevin -- thank you kelly o'donnell. jonathan allen, national political reporter for nbc news digital. jonathan, we'll start with you on this. the reporting coming out of the quts new york tiles times, believed to be largely led or influenced by stephen miller and also with influence from his chief of staff, former head of dhs general kelly as well. how firm is the president in his stance right now from what you're hearing? >> what we heard from -- from officials on capitol hill and from white house officials on friday was that there was a lot of back channelling between the institutions going on, base he canally white house aides telling people on the hill that the president didn't understand the question he was asked on fox and friends on friday aidn't meano say he would veto the legislation that his on aide
stephen miller had been working with with people on capitol hill. you know, for many, many hours on friday there was a.mbiguity about that and tweet by trump. he's going to go up to capitol hill on tuesday and here's what he's going to do. he's going to -- look, the president is unpredictable but the mission is clear, to go back to the hill and tell people he ally wants to see the bill done, not that he doesn't want to see it done, we're having enough trouble trying to pass it when they thought he was behind -- thought he was supportive and of course when he flipped that blew everything up. now he has to go back down to the hill and talk to republican lawmakers an say he's going to give support. otherwise they'll be afraid the constituents will abandon them. >> when that does happen and the president does go down to the hill and speak to leaders of the republican pty there on the hill, kevin, two bills in sun dri, little bits. what's going to stick based on what you think the white house might be trying to leverage out
of this? >> i don't think anyone knows what the white house is trying to leverage out of this at this point. the fact of the matter is you have the centrists being led by a retiring speaker of the house. then you've got the ultraconservatives and freedom caucus which feel em boldened as a result of that retirement speech from paul ryan. there's a remarkable tension in terms of politics shaping the dynamic of this immigration debate. but let's take out the politics for a second. because you know,ardless of whether you're a republican or a democrat, this debate on immigration has been going on for so long and when you have children that are being separated from their parents and their families on father's day, this is without question not a good -- this is not a winning political issue for democrats or republicans and most people outside of washington cannot understand the inaction of congress and government to move
this over the finish line. at the end of the day republicans are in power but should there be a divided government come post november, practiy speaking it's only going to be more difficult for so type of policy item to get done. this is an embarrassment on the behalf of b parties. >> jonathan, as kef vib is noting here in. in the past both democrats and republicans not pushed for these sorts of separations consistently. that i have seen the fact it could be quite damaging to either one of the parties should they like to do this here. i was reading through the weekend and the headline read here jonathan that the president believes that he sticks to the current policy, which is coming from his administration of these separations and that he has a better stance and better bargaining position when he does meet with whomever. in this case his own party when he's on the hill. do you agree? >> i mean the problem is he's negotiating against himself at this point. i mean, as kevin was saying a
minute ago, taking out the politics for a second, what we're seeing on the border is inhumane. talking about tent cities in the middle of summer to take car of children, there is -- i don't think there's anybody in the country that looks at that -- i shouldn't say there's anybody, very many that look at that and say that's an optimal solution. our colleague, lee ann caldwell was talking to republicans on capitol hill on friday and has a story on nbc news.com right now how concerned republicans are about the potential blowback from this. the truth is president trump is the one that attempted to end daca, essentially unilaterally and also the person who is enforcing this border policy of separating children from their parents. you know, that's the truth of the matter regardless ever the political spin that goes on and republicans are very concerned about that blowing back on them. >> kevin, any discussions with republican members that resonates right now? when we do see pictures that have been shown and will
continue to be shown, the number doubles -- >> and should be shown. >> the numbers do double as we're hearing from the "washington post." this is not going to be good narratively for a lon time to come. >> no, it's not going to be good narratively and also just beyond the politics of this, i mean, you look at the polls and it's tough to talk about these issues. such a political lens. evangelicals don't like this and independent voters in states like pennsylvania michigan and wisconsin, states that the president carried don't like this. there are 70,000 voters that voted for president obama. >> evangelicals. >> they absolutely don't like this because it gets to the crux of caring for those in need. and look, i'm not -- i think as john just correctly pointed out, i mean, there is a small faction of the republican wing that don't -- that would approve of this but there's a much larger contingency of folks who would be quite frankly surprised, people socially much more
conservative than the rest of the country looking at these images of children on father's day being ripped from their families and saying, wait a minute. that is not the type of immigration policy i voted for. and so that's where i think to jonathan's point, this really does significantly put republicans in mid-term elections - in a tough spot. this isn't about building a wall. this is about tearing families apart. that is a much different campaign slogan than i think even conservative republicans campaigned on back in the 2016 cycle. >> i want to finish with this, jonath jonathan. rudy giuliani will be making the rounds on talk shows. i'll play you what he said for a congressional candidate yesterday. >> what they've been doing to him is heartless and cruel -- >> horrific. >> an investigation made up of a bunch of distorted human beings and instead of investigating president trump, they should go
to bellview. whack a doodles. >> the bell view psychiatric hospital here, and jonathan, what are we hearing from the rhetoric from rudy giuliani here? >> first of all, i'm surprised to hear a former mayor of new york talk aboutbelview in the cloakial terms of the psychiatric ward, in terms of health care and does a lot of things, you think the former mayor of new york would be more sensitive to that. as far as what he's doing there, trying to discredit the mueller investigation. you know who we haven't heard from other than court documents is robert mueller. i think it's going to be very difficult to depict robert mueller as insane or needing to be committed to a psychiatric hospital when we haven't even heard the guy speak. >> kevin, that's -- amen to what jonathan just said. bob mueller has proven time and time again through every twitter news cycle that he does not care
what anyone is saying about him. also proven time and time again he's not operating on anyone else's timetable but his own. he kept this investigation completely in its own lane beyond all of the political noise coming from yes the left as well as the right. that this is intensified politicized this. he's saying no, he's doing this on his terms, completely separate and independent of all of the outside noise. >> kevin and jonathan, thanks for kicking this off. we'll be back with you in a little bit to talk about scott pruitt and more. next i'll talk to a former prosecutor about how much longer the mueller investigation might last.
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giuliani has been on the attack in an attempt to discredit the probe. >> the ig report tells you that both prongs of the mueller investigation are either corrupt or answered. comey, those fbi agents fired today and imprisoned next week. not mueller but the reason for the investigation, comey should go to jail for that. >> investigate the investigators. the president didn't do anything wrong and he's being investigated corruptly. let's turn to the corrupt investigators. >> this comes as -- tells the "washington post" allies are prepared for war as mueller moves towards a finalized obstruction report. let's go to former federal prosecutor doug burns. thanks for being with us. >> my pleasure. >> what do you make of this talk about his legal team and moving forward to go -- we've seen long
memo from before. you remember it, that really seemed to be much of a legal strategy. are they -- this time around, if they indeed are getting ready to go to war against a new group. >> it's interesting, richard, they are doing -- don't need me to say, sort of a squished earth pit bull dog approach hitting the different tv shows and saying it's completely illegitimate and witch hunt and so on. second point is more nuanced and interesting and important. after we dejeigested the ig rep we saw emerging an argument that as little more difficult to make honestly. that is okay that the report shows jim comey is director of the fbi and engaged in i am provide prits in the way they handled the clinton investigation and then say therefore it follows that the mueller investigation is totally invalid. you know, i understand that argument, unless they can show a more concrete link, it's ar moi
difficult argument to make. >> what sort of legal argument might me make to turn up the heat? few details but i go back to the original document that we were able to obtain weeks ago that showed very little legal argument that would say you need to stop this. >> again, not to be a broken record, such a good question. the point is, base he cically ye the text messages that showed a sensible political bias, we're going to prevent the president from being there. there are counter arguments all over the place which is agents are entitled to have opinions and other agents who had different political views but going to work that. from a straight legal point of view, it's not necessarily that easy to achieve what they are trying to sell. >> so put this together for me, doug. because clearly one of the pathways we've been discussing is you have to go after jeff sessions and you have to go after rod rosenstein, those are the two folks that could affect bob mueller and what he's doing. do they have enough ammo to do that that we haven't been considering on the flip side,
bob mueller we're reading is just steam rolling -- those are the words i'm reading in the headlines, moving ahead saying you can come after me but i'm going to work even harder. >> that's the core of it. there was a lot of speculation, you know, rod rosenstein oversees the entire mueller investigation and that's because as deputy attorney general, the ag had recused himself, causing lots of pressure from the president and never should have done that. if i knew you were going to recuse yourself, i wouldn't have named you, that whole line of thought. but the point is, you know,ener trying to discredit the deputy ag on other fronts that aren't necessarily related. there was a dust-up where he threatened members of a congressional committee. again, it's like a big mish moshe of everything. but generally, just trying to discredit and discredit scorched earth pit bull dog. >> discrediting here, doug, does that endanger the very arguments
that they may fall to? does that endanger them because bob mueller could say, see you are getting in the way of our investigation by coming after me? >> it's a very tricky calculus, you make an argument that something isn't there and guess what, it is. you get my point. you don't know the outcome it's hard to tell. >> yeah, so many different ways to go about this legally. thank you so much, sir, doug burns, former federal prosecutor. have a good sunday and father's day sir. >> thank you. >> scott fpruitt's secret, how the embattled eps managed to keep his job. he has been able to keep his job with critics of his conduct on both sides of the aisle. that's next. your insurance company is gonna raise your rate after the other car got a scratch so small you coulda fixed it with a pen.
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loyalty to president trump managed to keep his job. his allegiance to the president includes ingrashiating himself personally and strongly backing him on policy in meetings and regularly on one on one in those nversations. let's bring back kevin surly and jonathan allen. there's also reporting coming out that there's newly alleged conduct that the investigations into scott pruitt through the inspector general, it's been requested to expand even further. there's over a dozen investigations so far right now. what do you know about this newly alleged conduct? >> well, first and foremost, the president in that marathon white house press conference in the north lawn telling us reporters that he doesn't like all of the noise but does like the policies that his epa director scott pruitt are fighting for. to answer your question directly, i'm not sure these new reports will put him in any significant risk. ever seen yor source that i've talked to regarding scott pruitt
maintains that scott pruitt's relationship with some very influential people in the energy sector are still very much behind him and that those folks have the president's ear. until he's not in lock step with some of these dominant forces in the energy industry, i don't see this hurting him. where this becomes problematic and where this becomes more of a poght, when you have folks in the ethanol industry led of course by two republican senators from iowa, chuck grassley and joni earnst, that becomes an inner republican fight and that's problematic from a political standpoint. i'm not sure they want to have a nomination fight ahead of the midterms. >> i meant the administrator to you. jonathan, 15 seconds. >> i don't think scott pruitt is going anywhere. seems cemented in there. up to the president personally
and execute the policies he wants. >> headline that keeps on giving unfortunately i'm sure for money. that will do it for me. i'm richard lui. thanks for watcng. all of your fathers have a good father's day. yup. (butch barks at man) butch is like an old soul that just hates my guts. (laughs) (vo) you can never have too many faithful companions. that's why i got a subaru crosstrek. love is out there. find it in a subaru crosstrek.
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