tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC February 20, 2019 12:00am-1:00am PST
>> bernie sanders, who announced today he is in the running to beat donald trump. and that is our broadcast on a tuesday night. thank you so very much for being here with us and good night from nbc news headquarters here in new york. >> the "new york times" reports donald trump attempted to interfere with the it mueller investigation. and new reports on the president's attempt to place an ally into his company and his inauguration. >> that is an effort to use the powerser of the government for a corrupt purpose. >> you think the president is a threat? >> i think that's entirely possible. >> plus -- >> i'm bernie sanders.
i'm running for president. >> what's different this time around as bernie sanders enters the ring the latest here in north carolina. stacey abrams on today's bully rights hearing. >> let's be clear voter suppression is real. >> "all in" starts right now. of all the many ways the president has tried to discredit, undermine the investigation into the conduct of him and his associate. reveals yet another previously undisclosed attempt by the president to interfere with investigators. this one aimed not at the special counsel but at the federal prosecutors in the southern district, the ones who indicted the president's former
lawyer, cohen. according to the "times" the president made a call to his newly installed acting attorney general, matt whitaker. he asked whether a trump ally could be put in charge according to several officials with direct knowledge of the call. berman, an appointee or his favorite candidate is recused from the cohen probe which has been over seen by the deputy who is a career prosecutor. that office has come close to identifying him in effect as a unindicted co conspirator. there's no evidence that he tried to follow through. whitaker privately told associates that part of his role
was to quote jump oon a grenade to the president. also said prosecutors in new york requires adult supervision. and it appears to contradict what whitaker just told congress under penalty of perjury. >> i can assure this committee that before appointing me to this position, the president did not ask for and i did not provide any commitments referring to the special counsel's investigation. >> did the president lash out about the guilty plea? >> no, he did not. >> did the president lash out 2016 where he was identified individual one? >> no, congressman. >> the times reports that house democrat examining whether whitaker may have lied under oath.
asked about the "times" allegation, he denied it unequivocally. i don't know who gave you that. there's a lot of fake news out there. no, i didn't. >> those comments brought to mind another unequivocal denial when news of the hush money payments got out. >> flat unequivocal denial and we know the president was lying through his teeth.
senator, also the attorney general of that state, he's been calling out the obstruction in plain sight. >> this times report is an absolutely stunning, petrifying tab oo of unrelenting effort, a brazen attempt to interfere with the rule of law, with his own law enforcement agency on a scale that is unprecedented. in fact the effort to obstruct justice that is part of a pattern and practice indicated by corrupt intent is unpres dernted and. and this new information about the attempt to persuade matthew whitaker to put jeffrey berman is putting acting united states attorney in charge of the southern district investigation is as deeply troubling as any news that we have seen.
remember jeff berman recused himself because he was a trump campaign contributor. he engaged in a one on one interzu donald trump. he was a form partner of rudy giuliani. and there are solid reasons why berman should not be in charge of this investigation and why trump wanted him to be. >> if i'm not mistaken, i believe the times reporting is slightly erroneous. it didn't come from berman but a senior department of justice official, which is why he was taken off that case. do you think whitaker was truthful to your colleagues in the house? >> whitaker was, at best, misleading and deceptive. whether he committed purnlry is something we still don't know
for sure at this point and the house is considering whether or not that should be referred. but there is cleary an effect of trump's attacks on the southern district, on the fbi, on the department of justice, on the rule of law because it undermines the morale of the fbi, it has an impact when they testify in court andh they interview witnesses. so this kind of pattern and practice of attacking law enforcement is really the kind of reporting that is so powerful from the "times." >> i want to present a glass half full, glass half empty. half empty is that the president has undertaken this very public and private assault in every possible way. he tried to get sessions to resign. he tried to get berman placed back in that position so he can control the investigation.
and this is all bad news for the rule of law. the half full is he hasn't succeeded. they proceed with the investigation. whitaker didn't act on this. the orders were rejected by the whiesz counsel. do you take some system is working solace from the facts are working? >> that's a good point and all too rarely made, that these dedicated law forcesment officials come work every day d spite the demoralizing effect. think for a moment of any other president who is engaged in this constant attack but they are continuing to do their job. southern district of new york represents an even greater threat to this president, maybe
than the mueller investigation. but that special counsel inquiry is going forward as well. there is more revelation about roger stone and his connections to wikileaks and through gru indictment. this mosaic is beginning to fill out despite emphasize despite his efforts to obstruction. >> thank you so much for making time tonight. we're learning more from acting fbi director, andrew mccabe. and this that the fbi had a back up plan in place to save evidence in the russia probe in case the president intervened. for more on what's happening in the hoover building in the top brass, we turn to for an.
the fact that there was a secret plan in places should the president go ahead and try to get rid of everyone on that investigation? >> so it's trunl troubling to hear that they had to think like that and have a contingency plan. you hear about continuity of government, and where you'd store material and what saves and how oyou can preserve dataworn a network if necessary. not surprising to me. dist rrbing that kind of discussion had to take place. >> when you look at "new york times" and new reporting in one place. there's been complicated and fraught relationship with the fbi and white house for years. j. edger hoover collecting
blackmail on political folks. what you're lurping now, how does that rate in the scale of press dented and precedented? >> j. edger hoover times were times we would not want to ripeetd. we had allegations that hoover was getting the dirt on officials, eevren wire tapping cert. members of the public and silver rights activists and using it politically. now the tables have turned and we are have a wlies saying the fbi is pliticized or forcing the fbi into a posture does not want to take. bias, politics. when certain officials screw up
and cause the public to think twice whethers there rrb an obstructive investigation, it erodes our institutions. >> do you have a situation where you were so worried about the white house essentially cutting you off that you would have taken the kinds of actions that we're learning about in greater detail? >> i think ticket what is so shocking about all of this is what we're hearing, what happened here, what year hearing from mccabe and many others is unprecedented. the short answer is absolutely not did i go home and say the white house might close my case. completely ignored the intelligence we presented today. the white house may fire me because they don't like what i'm saying in terms of the threat identifying them. >> thank you.
>> sharing your knowledge and expertise. for more on the legal and political implication, i'm joined onset host of the "boxer cast" i'll start with you, mrs. boxer. we watched the president bierate jeff sessions in public. that itself was bizarre and unlike anything i've ever seen. the >> no. by the way the first i think senor to support him. so he turned on him because he's not used to having anybody say anything that he doesn't agree with. and so he has no idea of what democracy looks like. he has a lust for power. and anyone who stands in his way, even in the smallest of ways is going to get in trouble. >> if you lead to "times" article and lobby what the justification is.
one, is he was doing all of this in public and the other is that's trump being trump. he doesn't understand pruprity. which is a weird. >> not only weird but you would think it as a nonstarter because one of the interesting aspects of the times report is it's longitudinal sweep. back when mccabe first documenting, unprecedented have bekmp that's just good old president trump with this bizarre feature of it being domesticated. >> he has normalized the behavior. >> people seriously eare calling plea. people who are very political and not so political.
ordinary people who kind of trusted me when i wads in office. they're horrified in all of this. i think there's an angest in the current ray. if you look ament history and tyrants through history, the two things they set out to do is, in plain sight, in plain sight, is go after the press. they want to control the media or turn the public against the media and take it over and go after the system of justice because then they have an enemy's list and there it is. this president -- and i mean. this is my last point. the fact is this president sends a signal to the supreme court as to what he wants his appointees to do. that's a quid pro quo. >> it's similar to -- he could -- it's almost as if he's incapable of understanding
independent sources of power. one new and one old. so the new one is that he bieszically calls cory lewandowski and tries to get him to lobby sessions to resign. which apparently is a bridge too frar cory lewandowski's sense of pruprity. >> hur a. >> system working, i guess. and the idea that pardons were be toing dangled or discussed or they're in the air in conversations. the president's lawyers are with two people. >> that had not been reporting with the kind of clarity. and as you say dangling is really the right word. it looks suspect, arguably criminal if you have a trade. but there's something worse staying on the qt.
there will be a pardon for you at the end of the day because then it's hidden from view. >> and part of the issue here and this is going to be ultimately what the congress is going to have to deal with is pardons are within the powers of the president. all these things are within the powers of the president and the argument they're making is if the president can do this, he cedo this. >> the president has certain powers but he over step as lot oof his powers and we have restraints on partedens at some point. but we're witnessing something that a legal issue. i printed it out 13 pages and it documents this is not -- this is how many times he's gone after the press. how many times he has done all these things to attack the fbi
and all the rest. >> knocking on the door, knocking on the door. >> if you had stepped out there studio and somebody was beating somebody up in plain sight, they're beating somebody up and a let's not say because he's doing this in plain sight it's okay. and it shows he has no sense of what democracy looks like. it's horrible. >> i don't know if he knows what the law is in many events. but these got ammo in the new york days that he applies. and he has drawn blood. i take your point that all in all the system has not kim completely broken. >> barbara boxer and thank you having here. democrats open an investigation after whistleblowers tell them about transfer to the saudis.
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comcast business. beyond fast. it is legitimately ditch klt to remember all the many scandals involving michael flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi and who is now cooperating with the mueller investigation. one of the scandals that's faded from memory involves what flynn was doing on his phone on the very first day. according to a whistleblower in 2017, flynn had been texting a former colleague about their plan to work with russia to build nuclear reactors in the middle east, including saudi arabia. there's a law preventing transfer without a careful process. that never happened. according to a new report from the democrats who site unnamed whistleblower, it never died. and discussed as early as last week.
there's been an ongoing effort to transfer nuclear technology to saudi arabia. in close and repeated contact with president and his administration to the pres ntd day. top officials have repeatedly objected siting concerns and conflicts of interest in national security. national security risks inherent in handing saudi arabia the technology it needs to build a nuclear weapon. tamp has been reporting the story all day. i have guess let's start with what are the concerns raised by al blowers and house democrats? >> there's a series that show up in this report, starting with concerns about the prosesz.
the members of the national security counsel, according to this report objected that some of his allies on the national security counsel were pushing this plan and general flynn they thought might have a financial interest in the pursuit of nuclear power plants in the middle east. they were also concerned about whether the procedures were following thetomic energy laws which require a strict review of transferring nuclear technology overseas and they were concerned they were being ignored. >> flynn was consulting for or associating with an organization trying to make this happen that did stand to final angs benefit from? >> everything about this story is complicated.
complicated and interesting. general flynn disclosed, belatedly that he was in fact advising one of the firms that sought to promote the sale of nuclear power in the middle east. they've denied they ever hired general flynn. general flynn talked to them about a job. thought it significant enough he diz closed himself as an advisor. the firm says we never paid them. >> the thing that always stuck out to me, it's inauguration day. you're about to become the national security advisor to the united states. and there's a guy bopping around saying he's got a text from flynn saying the nuclear deal's going to go through? >> chairman, elijah cummings did
distribute that report from a whistleblower that general flynn was boasting about the opportunities to make money with the inauguration and selling nuclear power plants to the saudis. i wanted to add the person identified denied it at the time. i think the important thing to remember about this sr not just the historic parts of this report with arguments in the white house, conflict of rules procedures not being follow oed. we're looking at big question. should we sell nuclear power plants to saudi arabia? >> and that's an issue in the white house. thanks for being with me. coming up, bernie sanders is back on the trail officially announcing his campaign. the very different field he's up against.
hi, i'm bernie sanders. i'm running for president. i am running for president because now more than ever we need leadership that brings us together, not divides us up. women and men, black, white, latino o, asian american, gay and straight, young and old, native born and immigrant. now is the time for us to stand together. >> it's official. vermont senator, bernie sanders is running for president. sanders confirmed they raised over a million dollar in one hour.
sanders is facing a completely different primary than last time. his core campaign issues been taken up by lots of other people and some of the same challenges including whether he can build a wide enough coalition all of the differ ntd parts of the democratic party. and to explore his position in this year's democratic primary field. co host of pbs -- and contributing editor at "bustle." i think this was largely expected that sanders would get in the race again. what do you think has changed this time around? >> i think what you said before about this being a binary choice. he has a hugely passionate following and played a huge role in this left wing strain.
buts there was quite a bit of data, exit polling that showed he was getting support not just from people who were to the left of hillary clinton but also people who identified themselves as being to the right of hillary clinton. he did much, much better among white men than women, even though it's not as if white men are known as being a democratic particularly committed to social democracy. so it's not dleer me whether the second time around in a diverse field wlrksz he can consolidate all the support, which was not enough to get him the nomination. >> that cashes out in money. and that is not a small thing because it means he has this constant source of funding that
can him in a race for long time. >> right. he has money and he has infrastructure that carries over for him from 2016. i think the question is whether or not he and his campaign staff are ready to address some of the challenges they had in 2016, mainly with african-american voters and whether they've put a plan in place to address those voters. and the question of the field more broadly. a very different field than the one he was in before. and the question is in entering the race, do the hard core bernie supporters skr a chance to support him if he wins the nomination, that's one thing. does that give them an opportunity to have a sense of closure and to turn to some of the other candidates expressing a lot of the same policies, debt
free tuition in public universities and give them a chance that the process has worked this time around. >> that's the victim of his success. you have some like elizabeth warren who has this wealth tax, the comprehensive child care provision that makes the differ engsiation a bigger challenge. >> and they'reilate and coming to positions that burn has been supporting for his entire career. i don't think you can say that about elizabeth warren who's entire career has been about taking on the ax us of fash -- >> i think it's an interesting
hire because one of the real problems last time around was sort of generationally speaking in a certain kind of mode. k sort of reaching out past the coalition. it's an interesting hire in that respect. >> and i think it shows some acknowledgment of where there were shortfalls. i think one of the interesting contours of this is going to be what it means to be a progressive and how democratic primary voters are evaluating the candidate's progressesism. ia it stood out to me that you had the majority voting against the recent spending bill and sanders saying i'm going to vote for it. that is the type of issue we could see bequote on quote
thing one tonight. mike pence is the greatest vice president ever at sucking up donald trump. luckily pence never givers nothing less than 100% devotion. but when the vp takes the act on the road, let's say he doesn't quite get the same reaction. >> from a great champion of freedom and strong national defense who has work would with
these members of congress to strengthen america's military might and the leadership of the free world, i bring greetings from the 45th president of the united states of america, president donald trump. >> oh. on the official transcript they misspelled silence as applause. true story. it's in there. that happens all over the world. >> greetings from a friends to every nation gathered here and a champion of peace and security in the middle east, i bring greetings from the 45th president of the united states of america, president donald trump. >> hello. i'm sorry. is this on? he got a better reaction introducing space force. >> president trump will also sign a new space policy directedive that will lay out
new polling shows most of the country is against president trump's manufactured national emergency and now 16 states have sued to stop it. trump sounded quite confident he and his wall would prevail. >> i think in the end we're going to be very successful with the lawsuit. so it was filed. it was filed in the ninth circuit and i actually think we might do very well, even in the ninth circuit because it's an open and closed case. i was put here for security, whether it's space force, which we're doing today or whether it's borders.
>> space force and borders. wouldn't it by nice if he would just focus on space force. no one knows what it is but it does keep moving ahead. drafting legislation that would establish the space force as a sixth branch of the government. he signed it with a black marker. but that is the future. >> it's the future. it's where we're going. i suspect whether we like it or not, that's where we're going. it's space. that's the next step and we have to bree prepared. our adversaries and whether we get along or not, they're up in space and we're doing it and that's going to be a very big part of where the defense of our nation and you could say offense but let's say the defense of our nation.
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north carolina state board of elections just wrapped up the second day of hearings, one that benefits the republican candidate in the ninth congressional district. the absentee ballot discrepancies were so small but they said this was false, that at least 1,000 ballots were effected in a race decided by 905 votes. and republicans insinuated that the man at the sender of it all attempted to rigging the election without the knowledge of harris or his campaign. today the head of a consulting firm which paid dallas $130,000 for his services said he never knew of any legality but said the candidate himself was responsible for hiring mccray
dallas and was in frequent contact with him. >> how often would you communicate with mccray dallas? >> it was very frequently. he wanted validation to know that dr. harris was happy. my understanding is he talked to dr. hair freak wnltly as well. >> as evidence by the poke award he received for the his work on "today" show. joe, what have we learned in day two of this hearing down there? >> chris, thank you so much for that compliment. it's a big deal that andy yates testified. this is somebody we've been trying to get in contact for months. so it's great have him answer some of these questions on the stand today. two questions that stood out is one, he said there were no red flags. lin the conversations with
mccray dallas, nothing stood out that he would by doing anything illegal. and says he had no idea about mccray dallas's extensive criminal history, particularly perjury and fraud. said had he known about that, he would have demanded mccray dallas be removed from the campaign and that if mr. harris refused to do that, he would have left because it's not worth it to be part of something like this. >> my understanding is that harris hired the consulting firm, he hired mccray dallas. mccray dallas preceded him on the campaign? >> yeah, that was new to me as well. frurps until this point the impression was they hired mccray dallas behalf of mark morris. he made it clear he made the decision to bring mccray dallas on board before yates was involved.
two big people i think we could see take the stand tomorrow. mark harris and cynthia shaw. cynthia shaw is the former director of the william county board of elections. there have been allegations about early vote totals, early vote results leaking. she could potentially talk to that. >> thank you so much for making some time for us.back, stacy adrams testifies about the real threat of voter suppression and joins me to talk about that and more, next. migraine with botox®.
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man who ran the entire election process. instead, abrams formed a political action committee and filed a lawsuit against officials alleging they grossly mismanaged the 2018 election. today she told the house subcommittee what happened nothing short of an effort to suppress the vote. >> in competence and operate in tandem and the sheer complexity smooths voter suppression into a seamless system that targets voter registration, ballot access and counting. >> joining me now is stacy abrams. i thought that point you made blurring the lines between sort of intent and incompetence was elaborate. >> so first of all, thank you for having me tonight. the incompetence lies in the fact there was poor management of the machines, poor
distribution of resources, poor training of electoral workers and the purging of voters. the refusal to follow federal rulings that said that exact match the system of kicking out voters largely people of color because of type graphic errors that could be made by burro cats by the secretary of state that he used systems in place to intentionally harm voters and coupled that with an incompetence that left voter information free for hacking that failed to adequately maintain voter roles and these pieces merged together into a system that led to thousands of people being denied the right to vote or facing unconscionable obstacles to casting ballots. >> what do you see as federal solutions? you're testifying before a congressional subcommittee. there is legislation being considered by the democrats and still a big part of the voting rights act gutted that is yet to be restored. what are the solutions you see?
>> part of the intent behind the hearings is to lay the foundation for pushing for restoration of section five of the voting rights act. chief justice roberts and his decision basically stated there was no proof of racial reason to continue to oversee elections in states like georgia. so i think part of the intent behind the sealed hearings is gather the information and also the testimony to support movement on the voting rights restoration that representative terry seoul will be leaving. the larger issue is making sure there is a national conversation about voter suppression. h.r. one is legislation introduced on the first day of the congress and that bill should move forward particularly those pieces that provide uniformity how elections are administered. it makes no sense we have a different democracy not only in 50 states but the state of georgia and 159 different counties that depending on the state line or the county line that you cross, your right to
vote can be hindered by the act of one person or by an incompetent administration of an entire system. >> how much of it inherit conflict when you have a secretary of state tasked with administering the state's elections running himself in a statewide election like the case in your race? >> i think without question it was not only problematic, it was inherently unfair. chris would be accused by no one of being a champion of voting rights or ethical behavior stepped down as secretary of state and yet the secretary of state in georgia falsely accused the democratic party of hacking to cover up his incompetence the weekend before the election and he systematically harmed voters over the course of a decade. he was not only the contestant, the scorekeeper and the referee
and there is no system that allows that to be so. it was not fair. that's part of the argument. what i want to make certain people understand is that my push for fair elections will not solve my immediate issue. i will not become the governor of georgia simply by pushing this issue. the only thing i can accomplish is making certain that going forward, we have fair and just democracy in the state of georgia and around the country. there is no outcome that makes me the governor on november 6th. and therefore, my only rational is to make sure no one has to face what i faced. >> what is it like in your state in the wake of what happened tonight in that election? >> tonight we saw a continuation. there is a bill introduced by republicans that includes a concession on a number of the issues that we raised in this election. >> interesting. >> it was not only standing room only. they had an overflow room for state legislative hearing. so you know this is an important
issue. the challenge here is that there are voting machines being sought by the governor, which would reward a company for whom his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff used to work approximately six months ago, and that his executive counsel advised. and so we believe that this is not only bad for georgia because it's a hackable machine that does not protect the vote, but it's also procurement nightmare where we see self-enrichment on the state level similar to what we saw happen on the federal level. >> the voting machine contracts to acquire voting machines to a company represented by the sitting governor six months ago? >> i believe he was -- i want to be fair about how soon i'll give him a buffer of six months. it may have been six weeks but yes, the deputy chief of staff for the sitting governor used to work for the very company that would be awarded $150 million contract if this procurement process is allowed to move
forward. >> all right. well, that raises some questions. i have some questions hearing about that news. stacy abrams, thank you for joining me tonight and we only had a few minutes in this conversation but this sunday night, you and i will have a full hour of stacy abrams will be my guest for a special live recording of our podcast, tickets sold out ridiculously fast. i think because of stacy abrams not yours truly but we'll release the conversation as a regular tuesday episode for all of our listeners, which means the entire conversation, if you cannot be there live, which most of you cannot be will be available on tuesday wherever you happen to get your pod cast so make sure you subscribe now to why is this happening and i'll be able to sit down in new york city for a full hour with stacy abrams. we can get into all of the things that have been happening and what your future holds. that is "all in" for this evening. the breaking news we're
covering tonight in the "new york times," bombshell piece of reporting detailing possible attempts to obstruct justice. among them president trump asking his hand-picked attorney general whether he could put an ally in charge of the cohen investigation being run by the feds out of new york. one of "the times" reporters standing by to talk with us tonight. plus another stunner from andrew mccabe who says this evening it's possible donald trump could be a russian asset. the president, of course, seeing all of this, hearing all of this and lashing out on social media as "the 11th hour" gets underway on a tuesday night. and good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 761 of the trump administration and the "new york times," as we mentioned, is out with an incredibly detailed account of the president's two-year effort to derail and discredit the investigations now