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tv   MSNBC Live With Ali Velshi  MSNBC  December 14, 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm PST

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website you can sign up. >> i don't know if twitter likes my glasses. >> i like them. it's the first thing i noticed. don't listen to twitter. you said something yesterday when you posted an announcement. >> i was in the evening. >> enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy the weekend. >> now we can eat together. >> a i am looking forward to it. >> katie was telling me how she was going to have a big meal early this morning. i am always welcome to that. >> i got out of bed and five minutes later i was in a diner. >> have a good afternoon. thank you. >> i am ali velshi. the man doesn't tell the truth. those are the resolute words of president trump's former lawyer,
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and now convicted attorney, michael cohen. in his first interview since being sentenced to three years in prison, michael cohen told abc news the president's claims are just not true. >> nothing in the trump organization was ever done unless it was run through mr. trump. he directed me, as i said in the plea, he directed me to make the payments. >> but that's not all. nbc news has confirmed a "wall street journal" report that trump was in the room with "national enquirer" publisher, david pecker, and michael cohen in august of 2015 during the actual hush money discussions. this is a direct contradiction to what trump said back in april. remember this? >> reporter: did you know about the 130,000 payment to stormy daniels?
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why did michael cohen make those? >> didn't know where the money came from. let's start with white house correspondent, kelly o'donnell. regarding the hush money payments, cohen said trump knew it was wrong and trump's intent was to, quote, help the campaign. has there been a reaction from the white house? >> not specifically. we know the president has tried to downgrade michael cohen's believability and we have seen cohen coming forward trying to bring the president right into his own activities and in effect into his guilty play by putting the president in the room, in the transition, really at the center of this. cohen has been very clear saying
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that he told incorrect false statements to congress, to investigators, he had been lying publicly in the past but now says he is to be believed in part because of cuorroborating evidence, and you laid out a bit of that. we get a sense how these two men for more than a decade were allies in a lot of activities in the trump organization and how now cohen is saying the president was in on it and knew about it and understood it was wrong, and then here is how the president describes it, and we will put the two pieces of interview exerts back-to-back. >> he was trying to hide what you were doing, correct? >> correct. >> he knew it was wrong? >> of course. >> and he was doing that to help his election? >> you have to remember at what point in time that this matter came about, two weeks or so before the election, most the billy bush comments, so yes, he was very concerned about how
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this would affect the election. >> to help his campaign? >> to help him and the campaign. >> i never directed him to do anything wrong. whatever he did he did on his own. he's a lawyer. a lawyer who represents a client is supposed to do the right thing. that's why you pay them a lot of money, et cetera, et cetera. he is a lawyer, he represents a client. i never directed him to do anything incorrect or wrong and he understands that. look, he did some bad things unrelated to me. >> i had a chance to ask the president on this on the south lawn the other day and if he directed cohen to take these actions, and so his defense at this point it appears he will say don't believe cohen and what he did he should have known better as attorney, the president not being an attorney.
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interesting cohen would choose to frame this as the timeline as post billy bush weekend, as it's known in sort of the trump world during that campaign time where those comments were recorded about the president's wecomment said he would approach women in a vulgar matter, and again, the president denies he had sexual relationships stormy daniels or mcdoi mcdougal, both women with the payments. >> nbc news confirmed trump was in the room during the discussions over those hush money payments. back in august of 2015, michael cohen was there, and "national
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enquirer," david pecker on the right side of the room was there. in their agreement, pecker offered to deal with negative stories about that candidate's relationship with women by assisting the campaign and identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. with me now, ken delan. to me this is a huge deal because donald trump has been so consistently inconsistent in his comments about what he knew or didn't know about the payments to the women. the idea that he was in the room in august of 2015 i think is monumental. >> i agree. this is kudos to our friend, tom winter, who got this story confirming "the wall street journal" story. this is catch and kill, paying women to make stories go away,
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and the scheme was hatched in 2015, well before the presidential election, but it was in anticipation of the presidential election. this is not illegal in and of itself. the i it was not accounted for and disclosed and it became an illegal corporate contributions. if it was disclosed it would have been legal, but then it would have clued the voter into the fact that donald trump and the owner of "the national enquirer" was paying women to make these stories go away. and trevor potter, who was the former head of the federal election commission said this is a campaign financial crime. had voters been warmed with this information, we might have had a different result and that's why
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people care so much about this. >> i think it's important for people to hear the recording that we do have about this, and this is the recording investigators got from michael cohen after a raid in his offices where there was a recording. let's play this. >> i need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend david, you know, so that -- i'm going to do that right away. >> give it to me. >> i've spoken to allen about it. when that it comes up -- >> i am all over that. i spoke to allen about it. when it comes time for the financing which will be -- >> we won't pay cash?
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>> no, no, no. >> that recording took place in september of 2016. the information that tom winter got that we have been able to confirm goes back to august of 2015, more than a year earlier. so it creates a different context around the recording we just listened to. >> yeah, absolutely, he have been in discussions about this for a long time. people must understand "the national enquirer" and david pecker was an ally of trump for years. they were in trump's camp, and it's clear that in that conversation cohen and trump were concerned about information that was still in the possession of david pecker that could be potentially damaging. there was talk about a financial arrangement for the trump team to take possession of that information in case he gets by a bus, to use colorful language. donald trump said he did not know anything about the payments
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is simply refuted by the tame and other evidence that the southern district of new york has. >> you say obviously, and i say obviously, and the president will find a creative excuse for it. we will have to see how it all ends. we have been concentrating a lot of our attention to trump's involvement with hush money payments, one of the several issues that put his former personal lawyer in jail. let's remember there are quite a few ongoing investigations involving this current president as outlined by nbc's daily news letter, first read, which if you don't get you should get. prosecutors are looking into the hush money payments to women who allegedly had affairs with trump, and robert mueller is looking at russia interference in the 2016 election, and he is investigating if there was cooperation, coordination or assistance between the campaign and russia.
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new york's attorney general is also examining the trump foundation and trump's business dealings, including those that include his family. there are also lawsuits from the attorneys general of maryland and d.c., and these are about potential violations of the constitutions constitutions aphult yaoment clauses. let's not for get the defamation lawsuit from this woman, remember her, trump defamed her after she said she was sexually assaulted by the president in 2007. as first read notes, at some point does the weight of these different investigations and scandals become too much? to answer that i am joined by glenn kushner, as well as a
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congresswoman who was for impeaching nixon. welcome. i think the first question is, legal legally there's mounting evidence the president is engaged in wrong doing, some doing with russia and other with bad stuff. on the other side he carries on if there is no weight to any of the findings? >> that's no different from watergate. most people will remember when nixon stood up and said i am not a crook even though the evidence was building up him. the fact of the matter is all of these investigations create a huge problem for him. one of the areas that was not mentioned, the problem of the family. who is executive 2 in the trump
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organization that authorized the cover-up payments to -- >> we don't know but we do know the name allen weisselberg has showed up. >> it could be a family member as well. we don't know. that is that a problem. also, what is going to happen with regard to donald trump and his testimony before congress? was that lawful, legal, honest. if not, he's in the same situation as others. >> glenn, what is your sense of this? we spend a lot of time thinking about whether or not a sitting president can be indicted for offenses. where is your thinking now perhaps in the last week? it was a week ago, almost exactly a week ago when we saw the sentencing memos from michael cohen and paul manafort that gave us more information than you had? >> yeah, the question is when is
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enough enough? one is indictment and the other is the impeachment route. i maintained all along as long as other legal scholars, and i am not a legal scholar, but they have maintained you really can indict a sitting president not withstanding the office of legal counsel memo, as a policy matter the justice department will not indict a sitting president. there's a couple under pinnings that though why that memo should not carry the end of the day. that presupposes there is a congress in place that will take its responsibility seriously regarding checks and balances and consider impeachment hearings, and that's one reason prosecuting a sitting president is not appropriate in the memo's opinion. it seems like we don't have a congress that is willing to
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undertake that. one of the other premises is that the -- excuse me, the fact that it's a memo, it's not binding case law. let's face it. we have supreme court cases that are handed down and then revisited with social norms change. >> hold that thought for a second because i have exactly the two right people to help me with the new piece of breaking news. tom winter is with me, special counsel's mueller's team has responded to flynn's court filing, saying flynn chose to make false kphaocommunications, reads nothing about the way the interview was arranged or conducted caused the defendant to make false statements to the fbi on january 24th. to understand what all this means in the middle of this
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conversation i want to bring in our investigations reporter, tom winter, who i have not seen for seven minutes. what does this mean, tom? >> simply put, flynn's team said we still agree that he lied and we are not trying to get out of this, they say, but we have issues with the way the fbi conducted the interview and how this all came about when flynn conducted the calls with the russian ambassador, kislyak. they had a federal form is that a memorandum of the investigation, basically the notes you -- >> anybody who is interviewed formerly by the fbi there's a 302. >> right. we have mueller's team saying the circumstances of michael flynn's interview, and i am pair paraphrasing, they say nothing
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about the way the interview was arranged or conducted caused the defendant to make false statements to the fbi on january 24th. this is something reporters have been pointing out this week. it was not just that michael flynn lied to the investigators and the fbi, but also lied to the media outlets leading up to this and lied to members of the presidential transition team and the vice president. the president who is michael flynn chose to make false statements before the interview, and he lied to members of the presidential transition team, when faced with the fbi's questions on january 24th during an interview that was volunteer and cordial the defendant repeated the same false statements. the court should reject the attempt. >> it details a number of media
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interviews that occurred, and with mike pence and chief of staff, then chief of staff, reince priebus, and it sights a "meet the press" interview where priebus talks about the subject and several other interviews that occurred as well where they have the false information from flynn, and that was part of this that flynn not only lied to the fbi but the trump white house about the conversations. mueller's team is being careful to go through the circumstances of this interview, how it came about. of course it garnered a lot of attention because andrew mccabe, no longer with the fbi, and strzok no longer with the fbi, we know why, and he and lisa page were biassed in some of the messages, not that their investigation was biassed but the things that were said were not things flattering of the
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president or his team at all, and that's one of the reasons why peter strzok was no longer part of it, but those individuals have become a lightning rod for criticism, and people inside the bureau agree with that. >> i want to bring pete williams into this as well. this is a lot of documentation you have got and both of you are going through. the part that is confusing to me is we heard the sentencing recommendations for flynn were going to be relatively light. the words written here is suggesting that michael flynn, that his dishonesty should not be minimized, or the court should not minimize his deception when considering sentencing, what do you make that of?
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>> i make of that it's not good to insult the fbi or the special counsel, and having said all that he still deserves a sentence at the low end of the scale and his years of military service should be taken into account. >> those were his words. >> right. they are basically agreeing with his lawyer that he shouldn't get a tough sentence because of his cooperation, but what they are saying is, you know, we didn't do anything wrong, we didn't trick him into saying this, your honor, so just so you know, he really did lie to us and we really mean it when we said that, but nonetheless he has been very cooperative and we don't think he should be punished because of the lie because he has been so cooperative. earlier in their memo they made it clear he was cooperative in a
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number of ways that as soon as he pleaded guilty he changed his tune entirely and was extremely cooperative. i read this partly as sort of defensive on the part of the fbi and the special counsel's office of saying don't buy his line, don't diminish what he did, we did not trick him into this, he knew, and somebody who has as much experience in the military and intelligence circles and the federal government as he did should have known that you don't lie to the fbi. >> tom, i know you are going through this, there are attachments to this, and i am looking at them with you and there are a lot of redactions? >> there are a lot of redactions, but there are interesting areas. these are notes from the people involved in the case, notes that these are restricted to the people in the case file, and it's my understanding for anything tied to this, and it says flynn was talking about various subjects, including hotels where they stayed during
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the campaign and the defendant's like for interior design, and flynn always seemed to work his way back to the subject of terrorism. flynn was so talkative and had so much time for them, the agents, that strzok wondered if the national security adviser did not have more important things to do than having a relaxed discussion with them. it's important to note that the fbi, at least the agents that were involved in this were clearly seeming to say here that it was not some sort of adversarial relationship or interview where they have got the movie character, a spotlight on them and they are pushing him around, this seemed to be sort of a cordial environment -- >> here's my question. the guy lied repeatedly to the media and apparently to the fbi, and he is still being
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recommended for a sentence at the low end of the guidelines, and i don't know what the guidelines look like? >> it's zero to six months and they are arguing for no jail time. >> do we know how he helped or with what he has helped that has caused the special counsel's office to say despite the fact that he lied to the fbi he's been helpful to us and we think he should get the low end of the sentencing? >> they said they appreciated how substantial his offering has been, and remember there's a -- if i am remembering correctly, there's another investigation that is totally redacted involving michael flynn, and it's special from the special counsel's office. we don't seem to know much about it, and there's an investigation that involves the discussion about the kidnapping that a cleric from turkey, and there's an investigation going into that, so there's a number of
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topics that michael flynn has been helpful with, but to your point, a lot of it has been redacted and significant portions of the 302, that's also redacted but it's clear that flynn was helpful to him. as pete says, you know, we go through the seven pdf pages here that i will spread out across the desk of attachments, and in the end they are saying we agree with the thing we said before. >> liz, tom and peter, great at getting into the document and trying to make sense of what it means. let's pull back in the context of the conversations we have been having for the last two years. what do you make of the new information about michael flynn and where he fits into this? >> we don't know how michael flynn is going to help with regard to the russia investigation. i think your question was really appropriate. how is the public to judge whether this plea agreement is
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fair and in the public interests? we know what the quid is, but we don't know what the pro. what is the public getting? that remains to be seen. clearly he could know about russia contacts and collusion -- >> he was part of some russia contacts with keuzly aislyak, a puzzled where the fbi would think you could lie about that, and why lie about that? >> there's no explanation for that. i guess we will have to wait and trust mueller to have done the right thing here because it's very puzzling and we don't know yet. what he knows and what he said and did. >> glenn, what do you make of this? >> aoeufi was just trying to ab this, but flynn not only lied to the fbi, but he lied to the
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media and the vice president and he lied to other members of the administration so i think we are all scratching our head with respect to what is it that he provided that got him such a sweetheart deal? all i can tell is time will tell. i have a feeling bob mueller has made the right decisions all along and for him to extend this kind of a benefit for a crime as dramatic at the national security adviser talking dirty on the phone with russians getting caught and then lying to the fbi about it, that's a dramatic crime so i can only surmise that mueller and his team have gotten some really blockbuster evidence from flynn that warrants this sort of lenient treatment. >> pete, you are still with us. do we have any clues as to what that is? this all seems to make sense, right? he has been recommended for a very short term, if at all, a low end of the sentencing guidelines, and he has been
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chastised for lying to the fbi and yet he is not getting much of a sentence. do we have any sense of what light he has helped provide to the investigation? >> no, only that whatever it was it was a bright light. we don't know where it was shining. you know, let's step back here just a little bit. he admitted lying to the fbi, so that's a done deal. there's a lot of bluster in this memo here saying he really lied to us, and i mean, he really lied to us, and he just really made us mad, and that's what this comes down to, and he already admitted to that. the most important part for the sentencing is the two lines at the end, but he has been helpful and we think he should get credit. i think we should step back and say what it was the government says he lied about. twice during the transition he called russia's ambassador to the u.s. and said please go easy in your response to the late obama sanctions for the spies who were russian spies who were
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kicked out of the u.s., don't retaliate because we are going to make nice to the incoming administration, the incoming administration will have a whole different attitude about russia, and then asking the russians to vote a certain way on the u.n. security resolution in the settlements in the israeli territory. that's not illegal. what is illegal is denying to the fbi he did it. >> tom? >> to the exact point pete just made, we see in one of the synopsises here, general flynn explained they had been trying to build relationships with the russians and had calls in which he exchanged condolences, so back to pete's point, it seems the context and quotes included in the actual reports here do not match up with what it was that flynn had discussions with with kislyak about, which were the discussions, just to put a finer point on what pete said. >> i will ask you as a former prosecutor, it could be argued
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that all of what we know that michael flynn did or spoke to the russians about could have been in the course of his business as a national security adviser to the president, so why lie? >> yeah, it's a great question. what we did learn is that during the campaign and into the transition period, every time a candidate and then president-elect trump would get himself worked up and agitated and needed to be calmed down, they would bring flynn in to the meetings, and he emerges as the trump whisperer during this time, and each man had his own interests in russia and the relationship with russia. there very likely was a lot of discussion going on, maybe one-on-one between flynn and trump which obviously could be hugely consequential to the mueller investigation. >> i want to just show you a
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couple of paragraphs from this document having to do with whether or not -- the demeanor and the tenure of the conversation between the fbi agents and general flynn. it says the agents disturbance provide general flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement prior to the fbi's interview of general flynn, mr. mccabe and other fbi officials decided the agents would not warn flynn that it was a crime to lie during an fbi interview because they wanted flynn to be relaxed and they were concerned giving the warnings might adversely affect the report one of the agents reported. >> i find that a very interesting statement. who of you has a view on that? >> well, i will say that is sort of standard technique when you interview somebody so you don't scare them off. >> you don't tell them, any of my viewers, please don't lie to the fbi if they come to you, you
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will get in trouble for that. i assume you will get in trouble for that. >> we set it up, when i say we i mean fbi agents and prosecutors, we want them to lie if they are inclined to lie rather than coming down on them in advance and saying, listen, you better not lie, it's a federal offense. of course it was not a custodial interrogation, he was not under arrest so there's no duty to read him his miranda rights nor is there a responsibility to tell him, by the way, national security adviser flynn, if you lie to the fbi you could get in trouble. of course flynn knew that. i also see this reply as really just an effort to rebut the way this meeting was characterized by the defense, because in the defense submission they said, you know, it was a comfortable atmosphere and casual and this
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lie really wasn't as bad as the other lies told by other individuals who went to jail, papadopoulos, which they also reference in the defense memo. i think this got the hackles up of the mueller team and they wanted to more accurately characterize what went on in this interview. >> i would just say the key line in this to me is this line that mccabe, who was then the deputy director, called flynn to arrange the interview and explained the fbi needed to talk to him in light of all the coverage in light of his contacts with russians, and he said are you going to ask me about that and mccabe said yes. the defense memo said he did not know where it was headed and it blind-sided him. >> to the point that glenn was making before we actually got
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this news about why federal prosecutors won't indict a sitting president and the assumption that congress should actually do things when they think the president has been involved in wrong doing, we have liz here, and she was not only a member of congress but she was a member of congress that voted to impeach president nixon. liz, last night the president spoke about michael flynn. he is talking about flynn a lot, he did it last night with fox and with the governors. let's listen to him. >> do you believe the fbi acted improperly with flynn. >> they said he didn't lie, and mueller said, well, maybe he did. now they are all having a big dispute. i think it's a great thing that the judge is looking into that situation. mueller said he did lie, so they took a man who is a general and a respected person and a nice man and i don't even know what
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he said about me, because maybe they scared him enough where he would make up a story, but i have a feeling that he is a tougher kind of a guy than cohen, and they took a general that they said didn't lie and they convinced him he did lie and he made some kind of a deal. now they are recommending no time. you know why? because they are embarrassed they caught got. >> i think it's safe to say that's not the accurate interpretation of what is going on. i want to get liz's take, but tom what is in the documents? >> the 302s, there's discussion, throughout the interview flynn had a sure demeanor and did not give any indicators of deception and did not hesitate in any of the answers, he only hedged once when they documented in the 302, and both agents had the impression flynn was not lying,
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flynn struck strzok as bright but not profoundly sophisticated. at that time flynn did not give them an indication or anything that he was discussing with them did not come off overtly as a lie. obviously at some point they go back -- >> the way they know he is lying is because they have other information. >> it relates to that. flynn stated i probably knew what was said and then there's a big long redacted section there. i think if the russian ambassador is on the phone calling the united states and talking to somebody, there's a tape running on the other end. >> if there is anybody in america that would know the fact that tom just mentioned, it would be michael flynn that knows who gets taped. >> plus, he is national security adviser so he better know who is being taped. >> to the point that you think now we have a congress starting in january that will be
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dominated by democrats, do you think all of the stuff will become less nebulous and the congress decides to do something that starts to put pressure on this president who at every turn and every piece of new information does seem to come closer to having known things he completely denies knowing? >> i think the house of representatives is going to conduct serious investigations, which it didn't do the last time, it didn't -- >> direct interviews -- >> no, they didn't ask the right questions, and they did not subpoena people and let them get away with not answering questions, and i wouldn't say it was a charade, but pretty close. i think we can see serious investigations by the house, which could uncover a lot more information, for example, about contacts with the russians and about whether donald trump told the truth or not about what happened with the mueller investigation -- with the investigation into hush money. i think the house of representatives are going to go
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forward. we still have the question about if you got the smoking gun, if you had mounds and mounds and mounds of evidence implicating the president, and we have mounds and mounds, we may not have mounds and mounds and mounds and mounds right now, but what is the senate going to do? i think the point that is raised about whether the president is above indictment is very, very much one that needs to be carefully analyzed and studied. personally i don't think there's such a bar. obviously the office of legal counsel, which is the department of justice office -- >> which crafted this memo. >> crafted the policy. >> right. >> their job is to protect the president. >> right. it's an executive branch of the government. >> yes. an executive branch of the country, the government. i think to have somebody totally above the law is not anything the framers anticipated. they did not anticipate a president would be beyond prosecution. in fact, it's specifically mentioned in the impeachment
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clause a president can be prosecuted. what happens if you have the -- if you can indict a president while he's in office, the statute of limitations can expire and the whole issue of holding a president accountable under the criminal law vanishes, so i don't think the policy decisions really reflect the kind of the thoughtful thinking. >> that policy decision has something to do with the idea that if you indict a sitting president it interferes with the ability to get his work done. >> yeah, it may be interfering with his ability to get his job done, but from time to time he squeezes in his presidential duties in between his rounds of golf and trips to his resorts. when we look at the clinton v
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jones decision by the supreme court, if a civil proceeding can move forward and if a president can sit for a deposition and defend, so to speak, in the context of a civil case, a criminal case seems more important. it seems like we have an enhanced need to deal with a criminal president, not just a president who has done wrong in some civil way, committed a wrong against another person. i was never persuaded the thought that it would take so much time to defend was all that persuasive in the memo. and the premise, the olc memo contemplates a lawfully elected president, and i think now with the conspiracy surrounding the campaign violations, i think it's another reason to revisit the wisdom of the policy. >> and george conway had a op-ed
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about that saying there's growing evidence that what the president was involved in may have an impact on the election, which brings the election of the campaign finance and why the laws were invetted. stay with us. i want to continue my breaking coverage of the mueller investigations response to the michael flynn sentencing and other news connected to this when we return. you are watching msnbc. le bit o, it really- it rocked our world. i had no idea the amount of damage that water could do. we called usaa. and they greeted me as they always do. sergeant baker, how are you? they were on it. it was unbelievable. having insurance is something everyone needs, but having usaa- now that's a privilege. we're the baker's and we're usaa members for life. usaa. get your insurance quote today. is time you make for yourself.
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we are back with breaking news. let's go to kelly o'donnell at the white house. weigh spoke 40 minutes ago and this news had not developed and it has developed now. do you think there's any response forthcoming from the white house on this? >> what we heard from the president, he is still in the camp of saying nice things about flynns, he has been a defender of flynn all along and not getting a cohen treatment as a dividing line in all of this and it helps us understand how the president might be hanging on to something with flynn. he says they gave general flynn a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated, and the fbi said he didn't lie and they over road the fbi's decision, the mueller
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investigation, and they want to make up stories by catching the smallest misstatements. it's part of why the president said he would not sit with the personal interview with the mueller team, fear of a perjury trap, where they say it was sunny that day, and no, it was not sunny therefore you are committing perjury. that's a reference the president used if talking to reporters while talking about the concerns of the perils in being interviewed by the mueller team. the president is trying to keep whatever cooperation is happening behind the scenes more favorable to him. we don't know. we can only guess at that. definitely different treatment than what we are seeing towards michael cohen who has become a certain critic. >> we know an affinity between flynn and the president goes
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back to the campaign, and flynn was the opening act for the rallies and led the lock her up chant. what is the scuttlebutt about why flynn is not getting the cohen treatment from trump? >> cohen was a participant in business dealings with trump and the relationship with general flynn was quite different. he came along when trump was emerging as a potential candidate and was part of what had been a very small foreign policy team in the trump campaign world and he showed some loyalty to the president throughout the process. the vulnerabilities with flynn go with his own business work with countries like turkey, which he had not fully disclosed, and his contacts with russian figures including the
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ambassador at the time, and the president said it was part of his job as national security adviser to have outreach to places like russia. i think the president sees some plausible ways of packaging what flynn is accused of having done that don't reflect directly on the president, and cohen is quickly willing to implicate the president and accuse the president and say he was involved in behavior that prosecutors team illegal if he is ever charged in any way. that may be the difference, just the different experiences and what each man knows, and what more importantly is willing to say publicly. >> michael flynn -- michael cohen had a lot to do with donald trump's business dealings, including the hush money, and his treatment of flynn is very different, and his
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public comments, he has tweeted and spoke last night on tv and spoke to fox about it yesterday, and he talks flynn up every opportunity he gets. is that signaling to flynn i will take care of you in terms of a pardon? is that signaling to flynn don't say anything about the stuff we don't know? it remains confusing to me he would have had legitimate reasons to have conversations with the russians, so why did he lie about that? >> the last question is the main issue, why he would have lied about the conversations. the answer to the president's behavior is a little more direct. the president continues to run a public relations campaign against the mueller investigation. he tries to do anything that he can do to minimize law enforcement in the eyes of the public. now he is trying to say general flynn was mistreated and the fbi
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misled him. the way we know that's not true is if there was really a problem here. flynn's more than competent defense counsel, they would have said the fbi improperly led flynn into this conduct. that didn't happen. his lawyers let him plead guilty. a why accepted that plea after hearing all of the evidence and finding that flynn was pleading guilty because he was in fact guilty and for no other reason. although the president may continue to influence his base and prejudice them into believing that law enforcement is somehow at fault here, the reality is that flynn has been properly adjudicated guilty, and it's a little bit too late in the process for anything to come along to resurrect that. why flynn was lying, though, i think is really the $80 million question here, and what we will be looking for an answer to in the next few weeks.
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>> why is everybody lying about their contact with russians? if one can't put any of the pieces to the puzzle, but the one we can put together is each one of these trump contacts have lied, different people have lied about contacts with russians for no apparent reason. >> we do know, though, for example, the state, the full statement that donald trump, president donald trump crafted -- >> understood about the meeting in trump tower. >> was to cover up an offer, an illegal offer of help, which they may have accepted. no indication that they actually didn't accept because we know, not too long after that meet -- >> e-mails were released. >> correct. >> what were they hiding? maybe they were hiding the fact that trump was talking about this stuff to them. for example, flynn, about what he was dwioing with the russian. maybe there was the conspiracy that would amount to a criminal act. but we don't know yet. it's one of the reasons there's
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so much suspicious. >> the answer to why president trump keeps talking about flynn or tweeting about flynn is that trump is on his own pr campaign. and it's important to go back to watergate on this one to remember the difference between what was going on, on the legal and investigate ive front and wt the president of the united states was doing. he was deny, deny, deny until the day he could no longer deny. >> well, he never admitted. >> good point. >> he never admitted. >> deny, deny, deny until he had to leave office. >> well, that could happen here, too. the really interesting question, as was just pointed out before, as you pointed out, too, why are they all lying about it? and that just raises suspicion because we know that the russians were interfering in our election and the real question was, was trump and his campaign egging them on, accepting the benefits, doing something that profoundly undermined our democracy? the evidence suggests that, but
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we don't have it all. >> i want to bring daniel goldman in. daniel is somebody i lean on when i want to understand the strategic stuff that goes on in these investigations. daniel, the president has tweeted about the fact that the fbi said that michael flynn didn't lie, but the mueller investigation said he did, and they overrode the fbi. it's hard to keep track of who the theys are but they gave general flynn a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated. the fbi said he didn't lie, and they overrode the fbi. they want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements. sad. i'm going to assume the "they" is the special counsel's investigation. and the fbi is the fbi. can you shed some light on what on earth the president of the united states is talking about? >> january 24th, 2017, after the interview with michael flynn,
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the fbi agents who interviewed him indicated in their report that they did not sense from flynn's demeanor or his responses that he was deceptive or trying to lie to them. ultimately, they determined the special counsel's office determined that flynn was lying. and the critical difference, or the critical distinction between those two assessments is that the special counsel's office obtained a transcript of the conversation that michael flynn had with the russian ambassador sergey kislyak. and they knew the substance of what flynn had told kislyak, and they were then able to compare that with what flynn told the agents. and they were -- the substance of those two conversations and reports were very different. so the president is conflating what the fbi's perception of his
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demeanor was, as opposed to what the actual substance of what he said, which was an out and out lie. actually any number of different lies where he minimized the degree to which he was talking to kislyak about releasing sanctions. >> so i want to -- i'm going to ask my control room to take a shot of this wall next to me. these are all the trump associates who have lied about their contact with russians, okay? just take a look at that while i go to glen kershner. these are people who interacted with russians during the campaign. they didn't all lie about it. there were people -- a lot of them did. cohen did. manafort did. papadopoulos did. rick gates did. j.d. gordon did, carter page did, jeff sessions did. most of them lied about their interactions. a few of them on there donald trump jr. lied about what actually happened in the interactions he did have. so here's the thing, glen.
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both tom winter and dan goldman have explained -- tried to explain what donald trump's tweet was. donald trump's tweet is going out to an audience, and it can be interpreted if you don't have the benefit of a bunch of lawyers sitting around me or experts to suggest that michael flynn didn't lie to the fbi. mike flynn lied to the fbi and donald trump is lying in that tweet. >> yes, and donald trump lies over and over again which is a sign of his consciousness of guilt. as a career prosecutor, any time i have a confident who tells a series of lies trying to cover up his own misconduct, that is evidentiary gold. you present that to the jury, and they are often quite persuaded that it shows that the defendant knows he did wrong and he's desperate to cover it up. so all of these lies from all of these people about their contacts with russia cannot possibly be a coincidence. and just going back to the point of, you know, is the president still signaling that maybe a
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pardon could come flynn's way? that won't help the president at all because flynn is almost certainly in the grand jury testifying about all these matters. so even if flynn did decide to turn against the special counsel at that point, the special counsel could still use his grand jury transcript to prove up its case. really, this is just a sign of desperation, i think, by the president. >> you bring up a really good point. liz holtzman, what could be happen with the grand jury. a lot of americans are watching this saying if there was a jury, i'd have enough evidence of a lot of stuff but i don't have the evidence that's being provided. there's a grand jury that's been hearing from people, we believe. what could be going on there? >> well, they'll know why. they should know why flynn lied to the fbi. that kind of evidence is going to be before the grand jury. also michael cohen and maybe in new york talking to the grand
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jury about some other things in connection with trump's financial dealings here. so i think that people who pleaded guilty probably going before the grand jury and explaining what's happening. so we are still in the dark about a lot of things. but mueller is not. and that investigation is just like peeling an onion. but he's keeping us in suspense. we're waiting for the next chapter in this mystery story. >> they're dropping out as little information as they can drop on a regular basis. however, something is happening, tom wint ebecause we've got the numbers on what they are spending. >> 4.5 -- excuse me, $4.568 million is what they spent from april 1st of this year to separate -- >> this is the mueller investigation. >> that's exactly correct. that includes compensation, travel, equipment they may need to purchase for this investigation. so all of that is included in here. obviously, we know there's been some travel because we've had mueller's team appearing in
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court here in new york and other cases as well. trials are expenses to put on because you sometimes have to travel people in to be able to testify. so in the manafort trial, that occurred during this time period. $4.568 million. >> the acting attorney general of the united states has written op-eds on how to starve the mueller investigation. how to end it by starving it of funds. that's the thing people like to talk about. >> as to whether that's applicable or something that could occur, i mean, i seem to think, you know, you look back at some of the major investigations that have occurred in this country. whether the 9/11 commission, whether the watergate investigation, whatever it is, any time you have something that involves the executive branch and something that involves our elections or the safety and sanctity of the country going forward, it's probably worthwhile to spend the money on that. but we'll see in the end when everything comes together what exactly it is they're spending their money on.
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april 1st through september 30th, $4.568 million. >> what we have got in the last hour is that the mueller investigation has responded to michael flynn's attorneys in making a sentencing recommendation. they have said that flynn did lie to the fbi but they end this by saying the seriousness of the defendant's offense cannot be called into question, and the court should reject his attempt to minimize it while the circumstances of the interviews do not present mitigating circumstances, assuming the defendant continues to accept responsibility for his actions. his cooperation and military service continue to justify a sentence at the low end of the guideline range. i want to thank my colleagues and friends for supporting our coverage of this, this hour. tom winter, glen kershner and former federal prosecutor elizabeth holtzman, attorney and former u.s. congresswoman who voted to impeach richard nixon, joyce vance. daniel goldman, msnbc's legal
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analyst and former u.s. assistant attorney for the southern district of new york and to kelly o'donnell at the white house for helping us cover this and get the white house's reaction. this wraps up a very busy breaking news hour. thank you for watching. have a great weekend. "deadline white house" with john heilemann in for nicolle wallace is up now. >> aloha, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york city. i'm john heilemann sitting in for the one and only but absent today nicolle wallace. michael cohen once famously said to someone actually sitting at this table that he would take a bullet, in quotes, for donald trump. that was then. and now, the president's former lawyer and fixer is sending a message to his old boss. i know the truth. the feds know the truth and everyone else is about to know it, too. in his first interview since being sentenced to three years in prison, cohen undercut trump's legal argument in the case that appears increasingly likely to be brought against him in the southern district of new york.


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