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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  July 19, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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thank you so much for being here with us. good night from nbc news headquarters here at 30 rockefeller plaza in new york. you should know we have a really big guest here for the interview. even if you don't like me, you might be interested in hearing from the person we're hosting tonight for the interview. i'm just saying, just stress out. bear with it through me. somebody better is coming up. trust me. before today, i will admit that the director of national intelligence dan coates had already delivered what i considered to be a hall of fame sound bite for this era in america. he was already at the top of the list before today. i will say, it wasn't exactly something he said. it was for the gargantuan nine-second long pregnant pause that he made us all wait through, having no idea what was
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coming next before he finally gave his answer. >> have you talked about this issue with admiral rogers? >> that is something that i would like to withhold, that question at this particular point in time. >> one of the greatest trump era sound bites thus far. the director of national intelligence dan coats being asked in the senate about president trump putting pressure on him and pressure on the head of the national security agency about the russia investigation. so that was senator richard blumenthal of connecticut asking dan coates in an open hearing. >> so when you both got pressure from the president on the russia issue, did you guys ever talk to each other about that?
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have you ever talked about this issue with admiral rogers? at which point the pause at the end of the question becomes pregnant, waits nine months, and then gives birth to, oh, my god, i can't talk about that here. one of my favorite sound bites of the trump era before today. now, national intelligence director dan coates, same guy, has norris hall of fame nominee for the best sound bites of our insane era in american politics. it came in the context of a fairly edgy conversation that he had with our own andrea mitchell at a security conference today. i'm going to play a little of the back and forth. the first part you're going to hear is them talking about the nerve agent assassination and attempted assassinations that were carried out in britain that britain believes were carried out by russian military intelligence. >> today brits reporting that cctv cameras picked up possible suspects in that case. what is the risk that such
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action could be taken, such targeted killings could be taken against defectors or other assets in the u.s.? >> it is a risk. the russians do bold things, extraordinary things. it should have told the world, if you think the russians are trying to be good neighbors, this is the kind of thing they still do. by the way, the former director of the kgb is the one leading their nation. >> so again, we should be very wary around the former kgb leader who is leading their nation. >> a lot of things point to him. >> in helsinki, the president was alone with putin for two hours, more than two hours with only translators. basically, how do you know what happened? you were on the dark side of the moon. how do you have any idea what happened in that meeting? >> you're right.
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i don't know what happened in that meeting. if you had asked me how that ought to be conducted, i would have suggested a different way. that's not my role. that's not my job. so it is what it is. >> is there a risk that vladimir putin could have recorded it? >> that risk is always there. >> they're having that kind of a conversation. having this back and forth, talking about some tough things, right? and then there is this moment where andrea mitchell has to interrupt her own interview with the national intelligence director to present some actual breaking news that is of relevance to her conversation with him in that moment. >> i do want to say we have some breaking news. the white house has announced on twitter that vladimir putin is coming to the white house in the fall. >> say that again?
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>> vladimir putin -- >> did i hear you? >> yeah, yeah. >> okay. that's going to be special. >> the white house announcement andrea referenced earlier said putin was invited to washington this fall. were you aware of that, i want to clarify. >> based on my reaction, i wasn't aware of that. >> given that, what do you think the agenda should be for that meeting? >> oh, goodness. first of all, they're not going to ask me what the agenda is. >> would you recommend there not be a one-on-one without note takers? >> if i were asked that question, i would look for a different way of doing it. >> that is how they learned and that is how the director of national intelligence learned, surprise, russian president vladimir putin is coming to washington. soon. and that's how we learned that
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the dni does not believe the next conversation between trump and putin should take place without a note taker in the room. which is what happened between trump and putin earlier this week. today in the congress in the intelligence committee there was an effort by the democrats in that committee to actually subpoena testimony from the woman you see spot shadows here. she was the translator. the only other american in the room during that trump/putin meeting this week. of course, she was busy translating. she had a job to do. a hard job. she was translating. she wasn't keeping an official record. of what was going on in that conversation. you can see why it might be practically problematic to call on her to be america's official record of what happened at that summit. but it's an open question whether that's more problematic than us and everybody, including the national intelligence director, not having any idea what actually happened in that room and what the president promised on behalf of all of us.
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so far we have no record of that. and it is not, it is not an esoteric concern. for a second straight day today, the mushian military continued to insist there's a big new military plan about syria that was agreed to verbally between putin and trump that the summit. we have no idea what that might be. russia insists that it happened. the white house has given no indication of what that might be. the top u.s. military leadership at centcom explained on the record that centcom has no idea what that might be. so if the u.s. military is supposed to be doing something different now around syria, or if military conditions in syria are about to change materially when we have lots of americans there in the middle of it, so far, the u.s. military doesn't know what it is trump might have signed them up for. in terms of any such changes. russia says there's plenty coming.
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republicans on the intelligence committee rejected democrats' efforts today to get testimony from the translator. so we will continue to have no record at all of what happened in that meeting. that said, as dan coats admitted, maybe there's a tape. maybe the russians taped trump in that meeting which the russians can use for their own purposes. however they want. they can even presumably doctor such a tape if they wanted to if they wanted to make it appear that trump said something in that meeting that he didn't say but they wanted to make it look like he said that. why not? there's no other american who can corroborate what happened. why wouldn't the russians make up something absolutely to their advantage. and say that's what trump agreed to. then maybe even put out the tape that problems it. we're at their mercy. we'll find out when we find out. anything could happen. as proof of that, you should also know from a different angle that this happened today in washington. this is the sort of thing we
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tend to think of as impossible now. your eyes do not deceive you. that is a 98-0 vote. that is the senate voting unanimously that the president may be shouldn't send former american diplomats and other u.s. officials and u.s. citizens over to russia to be interrogated by the russian government just because vladimir putin told trump that's what he wanted. it is still almost impossible to believe that the white house did really spend a few days thinking over that request from vladimir putin at the summit earlier this week. the white house acknowledged that yes, that's what putin asked. yes, there was some conversation about that. the white house acknowledged that the president was meeting with his team and talking over that request from russia. incredibly, they do appear toe have mulled over the possibility of doing this, handing the americans over to the russians. they mulled over for several days. but after a robust outcry and this 98-0 vote in the senate, the president apparently finally thought better about it. the white house put out a short
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complimentary statement about vladimir putin's sincerity in making this request to get his fangs into former ambassador michael mcfaul and other u.s. officials who he wanted trump to hand over on a platter. despite the sincerity of putin's request to have those americans handed over, the white house announced they have finally concluded at least this time, that we won't be sending anybody to them. i do want to point out one thing about that demand from the russian government. for a lot of good reason, the focus has mostly been on former u.s. ambassador michael mcfaul whom vladimir putin has seen as an enemy for years. for all the same reasons that putin hated hillary clinton with a passion, he hated mcfaul every day and twice on sundays. but putin's government actually delivered to the united states a pretty substantial list, a whole
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bunch of americans who they wanted trump to produce and hand over to putin alongside michael mcfaul. a whole bunch of american citizens who are associated with other things russia doesn't like like sanctions against russia. but also these two guys. these two guys were both on the list. and both of these guys, so you know, are associated with the russia scandal. and specifically, they are associated with the christopher steele dossier of intelligence memos about the trump campaign's alleged links to russia in its campaign to influence the election. david kramer is on the left. he was sent by john mccain right after the election to go collect a copy of the steele dossier. kramer went and got it. brought it to mccain. mccain promptly took a one-on-one meeting with nba director james comey and handed it over to him. and the guy on the right, jonathan winer, september of 2016, so before the election,
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winer prepared a two-page summary of the content of christopher steele's intel. and he gave that little summary of what steele had found to senior leadership at the state department who have since said that they too like mccain then handed that information over to the fbi. so these two guys are certainly not central figures in the russia scandal and in the expose of the russia scan da that was related to the christopher steele memos. but they do have a role to play in that part of the russia scandal. they both had small key roles to play and they were on russia's list this week, too. we learned today, finally, thursday afternoon that the white house will not be handing over any americans to russia, at least not right now. the fact they even considered it, which they did for days, really is -- just don't let that get downplayed. the fact they considered it for days is mind-boggling.
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even to the point where it momentarily eclipsed partisanship in washington which is in itself quite something. will vladimir putin be mad at our president for rejecting that request? that trump hand over all these americans so putin can interrogate them all? it seems like the white house was bending over backward to not make putin mad about that. president trump praised this demand from putin as an incredible offer when they first discusseds it at the summit on monday in helsinki. then the president did sit on it and openly consider the request for four straight days. when they did have to announce today that, oh, sorry, it will be a no, they made sure to praise putin for the nature in which his demand was made, even though they had to say no to it. in case that wasn't enough sugar to coat this particular decision, the white house then meed immediately follow up with that surprise announcement that vladimir putin is coming to the
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white house. so maybe that made it go down easier. now we all await this visit to the white house which will be timed to the midterms i presume? the white house is saying this fall. but you know, early november is lovely in washington. while this terrible new series -- terrible new series of the man in the high castle plays out in our real lives now and we await this next putin visit, we are also still waiting for some other shoes to drop with some of the legal cases around the russia attack and the question of american cooperation and coconspiring with that attack. and some of what we're waiting for is fairly straightforward. obviously, the felony criminal trial of paul manafort is due to start in less than a week. potential jurors are expected to show up for the paul manafort case, starting on tuesday. also in the gru case, that bombshell indictment of 12
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russian military intelligence agents we don't expect those intelligence agents to turn up anytime soon but we are awaiting some knock on revelations we expect to derive from that indictment. for example, that indictment of all those russian military intelligence officers also says bluntly, on or about august 15, 2016, the conspirators, posing as guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the u.s. congress. the conspirators responded and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate's opponent. based on the timing, this means it was a general election, congressional candidate in 2016 who solicited and received stolen information on his or her opponent from russian military intelligence ahead of the 2016 election. that american congressional candidate who may or may not be a serving member of congress hasn't yet been named. based on this part of the indictment, clearly that is somebody who is known to the justice department.
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and so we're waiting for that shoe to drop whenever the justice department chooses to drop it. and then there's the unnamed american who plays a starring, if somewhat romantically tragic role in the maria butina case. she's the only russian who has been indicted and arrested and held in u.s. custody. we expect to see her back in court in a few days. since her indictment, the "washington post" has added some reporting about u.s. person one who was described as a co-conspirator with her in that indictment. she's charged in that indictment with operating as a secret agent of the russian federation in this country. u.s. person one has been identified in multiple news reports. but not by law enforcement. multiple news reports say he is paul erickson who is a conservative political activist with a long history in republican politics. he was described in court by the
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defense lawyer as maria buina's boyfriend. that said, prosecutors have alleged in their court filings that it might not actually be true love. that they have documentation that indicates that at least from butina's perspective, their personal relationship, their living together was not a sincere love affair. it was something she was doing somewhat resentfully as part of her covert influence operation for the russian government. according to the "washington post" reporting, on u.s. person one, check this out. ericson lobbied for a role in trump's transition team and complained after the election when he ran into a problem with his security clearance. since we know he was sleeping with a russian spy, i'm kind of happy about the security clearance process in that case. just as an aside. even without official credentials though, erickson pressed trump donors and former
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campaign officials pushing for top positions for other people. one person recalled his lobbying to get conversation t. mcfarland named as an adviser to michael flynn, trump's first national security adviser michael flynn. this is u.s. person one within who is named in this latest indictment in the scandal as cohabiting with and essentially being a co-conspirator with an accused russian secret agent who is now being held in jail awaiting washington. according to the "washington post's" reporting, this guy who was very personally involved in her and potentially in on her scheme, he recommended that the new deputy national security adviser should be k.t. mcfarland? that was an unusual choice. k.t. mcfarland had been involved in republican politics. she had worked in earlier republican white houses. when i say earlier, i mean way, way, way earlier. she's been an occasional contributor to fox news but
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barely on the periphery of even weird trumpian national security politics. not a high profile figure. not a heavyweight figure by any stretch of the imagination. nevertheless, after recommendations in part from maria butina's fake boyfriend, k.t. mcfarland was will bed to a very high level job in the trump white house. deputy security adviser, essentially runs the national security process in the white house. it is the operations office who runs the whole national security council and runs intelligence through the national security process. it is hundreds of people. it is the kind of job where you work 30 hours a day. k.t. mcfarland always seemed like an odd fit for that job. nevertheless, they gave her that job. we now know in part on recommendation of maria bu tin that's boyfriend.
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>> she did not last long in that job. she left in the back wash after mike flynn was fired and then criminally charged in conjunction with the mueller investigation related to his contacts with the russian government. so this opened a whole new thing now. remember how the flynn disaster unfolded, right? just a few days after the trump inauguration. not even a week into the new administration, flynn was interviewed by the fbi at the white house about contacts had he had with the russian government. two days after that fbi interview, the acting attorney general of the united states, sally yates, called the white house counsel's office and expressed with some urgency that there was a matter of serious national security concern that she needed to discuss in person with the white house counsel. she went in person to the white house. she met with the white house counsel in a secure office space and she delivered serious concerns about mike flynn related to his contacts with the russian government and most urgently the justice
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department's belief that he, while serving in that incredibly sensitive job with access to the highest parts of the government, the justice department believed he was at that moment compromised by the russian government. the russian government had leverage over him they could potentially use to comphim to d take your pick. take action against the national security interests of the united states. whatever the russians might want him to do. they had leverage. he was compromised. sale yates goes to the white house counsel's office with that urgent warning and even to this day, we still do not have very much clarity about why they kept hill on as national security adviser for another 18 days. it's been 18 months since then. we still don't know why they did. and sally yates explained both in testimony to the senate and in public interviews that she was somewhat flummoxed by that white house decision to keep him on. >> we were very concerned that the underlying conduct and went through and explained the compromise situation with the
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russians and told him specifically that we were giving him this information so that they could act. >> it was a national security threat. >> absolutely. >> you have no doubt about that? >> i don't think anybody in the intel community has a doubt about that. >> you wanted the white house to act. >> absolutely, yes. >> did you expect them to act quickly? >> yes. >> there was urgency to the situation. >> do you think he should have been fired? >> whether he is fired is a decision for the president of the united states to make but it doesn't seem like that's a person who should be sitting in the national security adviser position. >> if you hadn't been fired, if you were still in your position and you hadn't seen any action over the course of that 18 days, was there more your role as the acting attorney general would have permitted you to do? >> i would have gone back to the white house. >> you were still the acting attorney general, you would have gone back to the white house. >> knocking on the door again. >> why. >> i would have been concerned
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that we had a national security adviser who was compromised. i couldn't have controlled it but i would have gone back to him. >> what sort of questions have you asked? >> what have you done? >> it's been a mystery all along. clearly a frustrating mystery to sally yates, why the white house didn't act for would weeks after this national security threat was brought to their attention. but now, 18 months later, another part of this is unfolding. >> in december, we learned that despite assurances from the white house that mike flynn acted alone, his contacts with the russian government, they said he was a rogue official. nobody knew what he was doing. we learned in december that he hadn't acted alone. >> k.t. mcfarland had known about flynn's secret contacts with the russian
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government before, during and after those contacts happened. those were the same contacts that he pled guilty to lying to the fbi about. k.t. mcfarland would also later lie about her knowledge of flynn's contact with the russian government when she was questioned about it by the u.s. senate. one of the weird long tales of this story is that after she got ousted as the national security adviser, following the flynn debacle, the administration for a while tried to name her an ambassador as part of the con fipmation for her would be ambassadorship she appears to have lied to the u.s. senate and denied any knowledge of flynn's contact with the u.s. senate. her e-mails show in fact she was in on it. flynn was not acting alone. he was not even alone in lying about those contacts with the russian government. k.t. mcfarland did it, too. and as of now, based on this reporting, we know that u.s. person one, reportedly paul erickson, maria butina's fake boyfriend that prosecutors say she was romantically involved with, at as part of her covert
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operation are, spying boyfriend, according to the "washington post," he's the one who recommended k.t. mcfarland for the job in the first place which is a job you might not have ever expected her to get. sally yates was acting attorney general when she tried to warn the white house with urgency about a senior official in the white house being compromised by the russian government. she was driven by the urgency of needing to get that official out of there because of the danger that represented to our country. the white house we know at the time didn't see that it same way. how does it change the story? how does it affect our understanding of the lack of urgency on the part of the trump white house to now know that flynn wasn't alone, that flynn's deception around this issue was not on something on which he was acting alone. at least obliquely there appears to be a connection which the justice department apparently just broke up with this new indictment.
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sally yates is the first person from whom we americans got the news about the people in the highest levels of the administration being compromised by the russian government while they served as u.s. officials. today that warning has a whole new resonance. sally yates joins us for the interview. next. ♪ [ coughs ] ♪ ♪ [ screams ] ♪ [ laughs ] ♪ whoa, whoa, whoa. your one item would be the name your price tool? it helps people save on car insurance. why wouldn't it save me? why? what would you bring? a boat. huh. whoooo. tripadvisor makes finding your perfect hotel... relaxing. just enter your destination and dates. tripadvisor searches over 200 booking sites to find the hotel you want for the lowest price. dates. deals. done! tripadvisor.
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i am very happy to say that joining us for the interview is sally yates, the former deputy attorney general of the united states, she's a career prosecutor and justice department fwishl near 34r0i years service at justice before she was fired by the president in january, 2017. miss yates, i have really been looking forward to talking to you. >> thanks for having me. >> i know you don't do a ton of interviews so i realize it is an act of trust and i appreciate it. let me start by talking a little about mike flynn. he's waiting sentencing now. he has pled guilty to lying to the fbi. you've testified to the senate and you've done several public interviews and you've talked about the circumstances in which you brought the warning to the white house. right at the start of the trump administration. is there anything you can tell us now, or even just remind us
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now, about the urgency with which you warned the white house about him? for me, i'm asking because of this persistent mystery about why the white house waited so long, waited 18 days before they took any action in response to your warning. is there anything you can tell us that might shed light on why that happened? >> no, i certainly can't figure it out myself as to why they took all of that time. i came knocking on the door telling them they had a serious problem with their national security adviser. that their national security adviser could be compromised with the russians. and i came back the next day to give them even more information about that and made it really clear to them that we were telling them this so they could act. this was not a casual heads up. not an fyi. we're giving you this information so that you can act. and then nothing happened. >> when you say compromised by the russians, i have read enough spy novels and watched enough bad television about these sorts
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of things, to imagine a real sort of underworld mafia connotation to that. like we've got something on you. we will expose that thing in some way that you're so averse to that we can make you do things that you would otherwise never do. is that, that's like the raw movie style version of compromise. how does it work in the real world? what are the potentially practical consequences of the kind of compromise you were worried about with flynn? >> well, the russians are pretty crafty with this. they can do the overt threats like you just described there but also the more subtle forms. they can just let you know that they have evidence that would be embarrassing and troubling to you. and here, were this to become a big public thing about whether or not general flynn had been talking with the russians about sanctions, it had become such a big public thing and there were denials out there about various members of the white house, all the way to the vice president, saying this had not happened.
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then when the russians had what we expected were recordings that would prove that it did, that's the kind of thing you can hang over someone's head. and no administration should want their national security adviser to be in a position where he or she is compromised with the russians. >> because what they can do with that lever and is get him theoretically to hand over intelligence they shouldn't have, the names of spies we have in moscow working for u.s. intelligence. they could then take out and kill. >> any number of things. or even more subtly, not necessarily a specific quid pro quo but they could put the national security adviser in a position where he never wants to get crosswise with the russians. >> so he inclines himself toward the russian point of view as a matter of course rather than an individual transactional thing. >> right. >> the reason this has resonance now is because of the nature of the michael flynn case. he's awaiting sentencing.
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i would be remiss if i didn't mention the political environment we're in this week in which i think a lot of people in the country have been shaken by the president's interactions with president putin in helsinki. and people are now quite openly discussing the prospect and what it might mean for us as a country and the imperative as a country if president trump is compromised by the russian government. i've been trying to talk about what that might mean for a national security adviser and you opened our eyes to that prospect. if the president were compromised, that's an open concern right now, how much worse is the risk? >> well, to state the obvious, exponentially worse. you don't want any of your high level officials compromised with the russians but certainly not the president. i think all of us were really shaken by the events that took place in helsinki. it wasn't really just a rhetorical semantic faux pas that we were talking about here. it was what his words reflected.
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they revealed what our president is thinking, how he feels and where his loyalties lie. so i think the startling reality for all of us is that we are faced with a situation where our president, the person quhom we have entrusted to lead this country, isn't all in for our nation. >> do you believe we will ever know whether the president is not just russiaphyllic, she's not just in love, but he's compromised? do you believe that that will ever come out, that that truth will ever be known? >> i don't know what the status of the investigation is that special counsel mueller is conducting now so it is hard to know. >> as a citizen? as an observer of these processes? not asking about any special information you might have come across in your previous role. now you're a private citizen and watching this unfold the way we all are. you had those feelings watching helsinki.
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do you feel optimistic that this will come to light? if there is something to come to light? >> sure, if there is something to come to light, i think all of us, all americans, republicans, democrats everything in between ought to want it to come to light. because you know, this is about the russians stealing or attempting to steal our democracy. this is not a partisan thing. this is core american stuff. and all of us should want to get to the bottom of that. >> wanting and expecting are two different things and i understand how you just maneuvered around that. >> i'm a lawyer. >> a very good one, too. stay with us. we'll be right back sally yates, former acting attorney general of the united states.
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that puts ourselves in harm's way, and to have a partner that is so skilled at what they do is indispensable, and i couldn't ask for a better partner. back with us is sally yates. the former acting attorney general for the united states. thank you for being here. last month we got to see a letter that was sent from the president's lawyers and ended up getting published in the "new york times" and that letter included references to you, references to memos that the white house counsel don mcafghan had written about his interactions with you about mike flynn. in those memos, according to the president's lawyers, he says, when you came to the white house to warn about the possible compromise of flynn as national security adviser, you never indicated to him that flynn was actually under investigation. the lawyer letter cites the
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quote white house understanding that there was nos fbi investigation of flynn. and that seems like maybe a fine point. the reason it ends up being important and the reason the president's lawyers are writing about it to the special counsel's office, there is an idea that it may look more like obstruction of justice on the part of the president if when he went to the fbi director and said lay off flynn, he knew there was an open fbi investigation into michael flynn. so the white house counsel is saying, you never indicated that flynn was the subject of an investigation. can you shed any light on that? >> well, yeah. when i testified before the senate judiciary committee, i talked about the two different meeting i had with mr. mcgahn. in the first meeting, mr. mcgahn asked me whether or not the investigation was criminal or whether or not it was a counter intelligence investigation. >> so he referenced the fact that -- >> i declined to answer that. i also testified that in the follow-up meeting the next day, he wanted to know whether if
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they took any action, whether that would negatively impact the investigation because they didn't want to negatively impact anything that was going on in the investigation. so he and i talked back and forth in both meetings about impact on investigation. >> and if the president in that context, having been advised presumably by his white house counsel that there was an investigation concerning the national security adviser, if the president then went to the director of the fbi and said ease up on mike flynn who he knows is the subject of an investigation, how much legal wiggle room is there as to whether or not that was an effort to obstruct that investigation? >> i'm not going to get into a legal definition of obstruction. that's up to bob mueller in his -- and his folks to make that determination. certainly from what we know, it sounds like there was an effort to influence the investigation. >> i mentioned at the top of the show that there's been some new reporting related to a new indictment handed down, not by
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the special counsel's office but within the national security division of the justice department about this alleged secret russian agent maria butina and her involvement with a u.s. person who has been identified sort of circumstantially in press reports. what's been reported by "the washington post" is that that person who was involved with this alleged russian agent recommended the deputy national security adviser for her post, k.t. mcfarland. since the flynn investigation, since the flynn affair and your role in it, we have learned that mr. flynn doesn't appear to have been acting alone when he contacted the russian government. when he made the contacts that at the later pled guilty to lying to the fbi about, in setting those up, she appears to have not been truthful with the senate when she was asked about those. if flynn wasn't acting alone, does that change anything materially? does that make the case about flynn resonate in any more or
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less worrying way? if there was somebody involved with him and he wasn't on his own? >> i don't know if it is more or less worrying. if there are other people involved in this, then our justice department ought to want to find that out to get to the bottom of it. it sounds like that's what's going on with special counsel mueller's investigation on this and with general flynn's cooperation on this be, as well. >> he is awaiting sentencing. his sentencing has been pushed back a few times. as observers what should we read into that? >> that's common when someone is continuing to provide evidence or cooperate. that you put off their sentencing until all the cooperation is complete so the judge when he or she is sentencing the defendant, has the benefit of knowing everything that they did in an effort to try to assist the government in the investigation. >> so the longer it goes on, the more cooperation we can infer. >> yes. >> okay. we'll be right back with sally yates, former acting attorney general of the united states. stay with us. what about him?
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we are back with sally yates, former acting attorney general of the united states and before she was the deputy acing attorney general of the united states which all of us in america now have a much greater appreciation of as a position. do you feel that rod rosenstein who is deputy attorney general because of jeff sessions being recused from the russia matter, he is overseeing is the mueller investigation and other things in the russia matter, do you feel like he is insulated enough in his position in terms of undue influence? from the administration? if you were still in his shoes, what kind of protections would you want people pushing for? >> that's one of the things has worried me. that so many people are focused on insuring bob mueller isn't fired. we need to be equally sure that rod rosenstein isn't fired either. he really has the ability to control the special counsel's investigation in terms of
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significant steps that are taken. he has to approve those. in terms of information that might go to congress, in terms of information that could be publicly released. so if you want a back doorway to try to choke the life out of the special counsel's investigation, you would replace rod rosenstein with someone whom you can control. and i think he has done a very good job so far of ensuring that this investigation is going where it needs to go. that they're going to follow the facts and the evidence and that bob mueller has the running room that he needs to be able to get to the bottom of these really important questions. >> people need to focus on making sure that he isn't fired. thinking hard about it won't help. what can be done to protect him? >> well, folks in congress seem to be making movement and trying to do this work as well. >> trying to make a public enemy out of him. >> absolutely. and even some talking about impeachment articles. on and what basis i have
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absolutely no idea you would be impeaching him. i think that the white house and members of congress respond to public pressure. and response to a focus. i think that most people have come to realize that it's absolutely essential that mueller stay in place. there needs to be the same public focus on rod rosenstein, as well. >> were you ever pressured by anybody to hand over law enforcement sensitive documents in the middle of an ongoing investigation? that's been a hallmark of trying to demonize him with congress? >> that has long been a firm tradition. that you don't turn over tiers about ongoing investigations to congress. >> i understand that the justice department always felt that was a long-standing norm. were members of congress pushing for this kind of stuff before or is this new and expecting to this investigation. >> i can't say they never asked.
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but they didn't make a big fuss about it when we said no. >> wow. can i ask you about paul manafort for a moment. paul manafort is due to go on trial next week. the fbi as far as wendy's it began investigating him years ago in 2014. you game deputy attorney general 2015. >> was the justice department cognizant of focused on the fact that there was an ongoing investigation of paul manafort at the time when he was chosen to be a major party candidate's presidential campaign chairman? does that put the justice department in an awkward position in what's the right way to respond given that? >> you know, i'm going to frustrate you with my answer because i can't talk about what i knew when i was there ha hasn't become public. >> you may not be able to answer this either. his defense team has repeatedly raised the claim that because a lot of investigation of manafort
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long, is, with about matters that long precede the campaign, that indicates that the prosecution is somehow improper because if those things were so egregious when they happened, if the justice department was investigating for years, whydon bring charges against him them. that suggests they're only going after him because of his association with the trump campaign. how should we understand the validity or the gravity of that charge into there are lots of different reasons why prosecutors bring charges when they do. mr. manafort has filed a whole lot of motions. so far i don't think he's prevailed on any of them. >> shooting the moon sofa are. >> this is the kind of issue he would be raising pretrial. if he had a good argument, i would expect he's made it and that the court has rejected it. >> sally yates former acting attorney general of the united states. 27 years at the justice department before relieved of her job there by president trump not two weeks into the trump administration. i imagine that i'm not going to
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get to talk to you all that often in the future. anytime you want to talk about things going on in the law and pos and mat's of the day, i'd love to talk to you more than you'd want to. >> thank you. i've enjoyed being with you. >> thank you so much for being here. >> we'll be right back. stay with us. e. this is not a screensaver. this is the destruction of a cancer cell by the body's own immune system, thanks to medicine that didn't exist until now. and today can save your life. ♪ ♪ whoooo. tripadvisor makes finding your perfect hotel... relaxing. just enter your destination and dates. tripadvisor searches over 200 booking sites to find the hotel you want for the lowest price. dates. deals. done! tripadvisor.
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♪ last night, across the street from the white house, an 18-person mariachi band and more than a thousand people making
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lots of joyful noise to protest and to try i think to irk the guy who lives across the street in the white house. that was in lafayette park. this was last night in new york city. hundreds of people in times square chanting you're fired! you're fired! this is what it's been like. there's been protests across the street from the white house every night. they wanted to do two things to, disrupt the jet lagged president's sleep patterns and wanted to give people a place to express their opinions about that meeting with putin. just that first night, more than 500 people were there in front of the white house gates. the second night there was about 1,000 people. the musical performance started last night and well over a thousand people. tonight they apparently tried opera singers belting out the high notes. good evening, mr. president. we heard they are thinking about bag pipers for the next one. stay tuned. always have been. when i found out i had
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lucky you. it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. good evening, lawrence. >> don't surprise me like that. >> i'm sorry! >> i'm used to one of those kinds of things. so, rachel, last night i had this news to break for you. >> yeah. >> about the president's briefing that he got on january 6th, and it has changed everything about what we have been hearing the president say for the last year and a half since then. i am going to show some of the video later in this hour about how after he knew what he knew he continued to just relentlessly lie about it could have been someone else. it might not be the russians. >> well, if he knew and he expressed at the time that he was persuaded byvi