tv Deadline White House MSNBC February 20, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
>> if your lips to their ears, thank you, sir, david wells, author of "the uninhabitable earth." it's out now and good read. and tomorrow, weaponization of culture, 5:45 p.m. on the asia society. that you for watching. "deadline: white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi, everyone, it's 4:00 in new york. nine days in may. there are nine days at the center of every question about the future of donald trump's presidency. nine days when the fog of the war donald trump was waging against his own fbi and justice department, tested some of the decision making and civility of the people in his line of fire. nine days at the center of questions about whether fbi director jim comey was fired to obstruct the investigation into donald trump's ties to russia. nine days when questions about
whether donald trump was actually a russian agent became tangible enough for a counterintelligence investigation to be opened into the sitting president. nine days known to be of interest to robert s. mueller. nine days that forever changed the life and career of our guests this hour, former deputy director and former acting director of the fbi, andrew mccabe. day one, may 9, james comey is fired. two days later trump sits down with lester holt and said russia was on his mind when he fired comey. that same day we learned "the new york times" trump asked comey for a royalty pledge in a dinner. comey wouldn't give the president what he wanted. day four trump tweets, james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. day seven, we learned from "the washington post" trump revealed highly classified information to russian officials in the oval office. we would later learn in that
same meeting trump admitted to the russians that firing comey relieved the pressure of the russia investigation. day eight, "the new york times" report revealed trump pushed comey to end the investigation into mike flynn, shortly after flynn was fired. all of that in the nine days between james comey's firing and robert mueller's appointment as special counsel on day nine. we're joined by andrew mccabe now. thank you for being here. i know you have done a lot. we're excited to have you. your book is called "the clet: how the fbi protects america in the age of terror and trump." i want to describe day one that we just read off, right after you learned jim comey had been fired. quote, time stopped for a moment. i should have not been shocked but i was. one moment you're in an environment you know how to understand and navigate and then lights turn offer and turn back on and in a half a second you're standing in a completely different place. what do you do now? what did you do? >> i immediately started thinking about how do i get this
brilliant, majestic organization of almost 37,000 people to stay the course? that was my primary concern in that moment. through a career of investigations, a career of sitting through hundreds of who knows how many interviews and across the table from people who are witnesses or participants of crimes and horrible accidents, disasters, you learn through that experience how to hold your emotions back, to compartmentalize your reactions to those sort of things. so i relied on those skills in that meeting with the attorney general. so he looked at me and said, i don't know if you heard, but we had to fire the direct ert of the fbi. i tried not to react or pass judgment. i just said, i had not heard that sir. but, of course, now i know. >> and then you went back to your office, what did you do? >> i went back to the office where the leadership team i had been meeting with before i had been called across the street to meet with the attorney general was still assembled.
oddly, they told me as i left the meeting with the attorney general not to say anything about this to anyone which seemed like a pretty important and major event would i have a hard time concealing. of course, by the time i got across the street, it was already on the news, it was on tv and my entire team knew about it. we brought the leaders together and deputy director's conference room and started to flesh out a plan. that's what we do in times of crisis. i had the opportunity to learn these processes and these skills, managing numerrous crises in the bureau. being involved in cases from the boston marathon bombing to many other terrorist events and responses, to horrible mass shootings and things of that nature. it's those skills you rely on. >> i described you, and i hope you think it's fair, as a process guy. you were expert in sort of running things the way they were supposed to be run. so you opened two investigations that day, is that right? you opened a counterintelligence investigation that day? >> not exactly that day.
>> what happened? >> so that crazy afternoon and evening, i met with the attorney general and later, of course, went down the street to meet with the president at his request. the next day i brought the investigative team together. so i knew from those interactions with the president and the attorney general that i was likely to be removed from the role of angticting director quickly. >> why? >> because they both said i would probably be removed. they said they were thinking about bringing in an interim director to run the organization, until a permanent director could be confirmed. realizing i had very limited time to work with, my first concern was making sure that the russia investigation was on absolutely solid ground. if someone else was going to come in behind me, someone who might want to end that investigation or somehow diminish or hide the results of that investigation, they wouldn't be able to do it without creating a record of the decisions behind that act.
so i sat down with my investigative team and i said, you know, go back and look at every aspect of the work that we're currently doing and come to me with a proposal for any additional work you think we need to do. are there cases we're currently investigating that we should close? are there other cases we haven't initiated you think we should start? >> and it's from your meeting with that investigative team that a counterintelligence investigation into the president was opened? >> that's right. the recommendation came back to me, our felts like we had an irtick lit basis to believe the president might have engaged in the obstruction of justice in the firing of jim comey and if so, there might be a national security risk associated with that obstruction. but that is, of course, the standard for opening an fbi full investigation. >> so it was a full investigation, not a preliminary investigation. >> that's right, full investigation. >> and then a full counterintelligence investigation gave you certain investigative powers, right? >> that's correct. >> so you could go to the fisa
court, right? if the investigative team needed that, they had tools when it became a full counterintelligence investigation? >> sure. you wouldn't do that right away. it's the beginning of the investigation. would you start with basic investigative steps of trying to understand the person you're investigating, in this case the president of the united states, the network of people around him, their communications, their relationships, all of those sorts of things, things that investigators do every day when they're building towards -- when they're building their way through a case. >> i want to ask you when that investigation that you opened the day after director comey was fired intercepted or if it did a former senior intelligence official reminded me that all of your actions should be sort of evaluated in the context of the broader intelligence work that was under way. that in the summer of 2016, a counterintelligence investigation was opened based on the conduct, suspicious conduct of carter page and
george popolopodus, right? >> that's correct. that's a good point. i think you have to go back even a little bit further. at the end of 2015, of course, at the request of president obama we together with our colleagues at the nsa and cia put together what we refer to as the ica, intelligence community assessment. and that was all of the intelligence that we had at that time that would indicate any level of russia involvement or mettling in the election. it was the ica, in the ica we concluded as an intelligence community that absolutely the russians had interfered in the election and they he done so for a variety of purposes. so with that knowledge that the russians have meddled in our election, we then come across the information about people like carter page, about people like george popolopodus, that leads us to open the very beginnings of what i will refer to as the russia case. that's the investigation into whether or not people in or connected with the trump
campaign may have colluded with the russians. >> did that have a co-name? the clinton e-mail investigation was called mid-year? did the trump administration have a code name? >> it did but the fbi has asked me not to share that, so i won't. >> is the existence of the counterintelligence investigation also classified? >> the existence of the investigation under most circumstances is sensitive. and the way the fbi kind of adjudicates these things is once these issues have been publicly acknowledged, they're not -- >> trump tweets about them. >> in this case, that's exactly what happened. so i'm very careful in the book not to step over that line. and that's after an arduous, several-month period of going through prepublication review at the fbi. and then, of course, after that period the existence of the case was discussed in the media and then president very quickly responded to those media articles and in his own communications essentially confirmed the existence of the case. so that's why we are.
>> by tweeting it, all of the people involved -- and i guess ultimately, december mating the senior leadership of the fbi that opened these cases, the first cases in the summer of '16 and really all of the intelligence officials from 2015 are gone as well. did you ever talk amongst yourselves that you felt -- if this were in a tom clancy novel, it would be such an obvious plot line that it would probably get thrown away and the writers told to try again. >> are you saying i lived a poor spot line? >> i'm saying everyone in the intelligence community that was investigating russian meddling in 2016 from director brennan to former director hayden to everyone that either had their clearances stripped or had been targeted with mean tweets from the president for lack of a more elegant description of them, to anyone at the fbi who either opened the cases in the summer of 2016 or was around you when the counterintelligence case into the president was opened
after jim comey's firing had all been fired or smeared by the president on his twitter feed, what does that look like to all of you when you're sitting around and in communication to one another? >> it looks terrible. i hope it looks the same way to the rest of the country as it does to us. there's no question, look, people leave government all the time, especially senior leadership levels that are further in our service, it's kind of expected. but i have never seen a situation where government professionals, career professionals in government and particularly in law enforcement and the intelligence agencies, have been so systematically attacked and undermined by the president of the united states himself. it's remarkable. >> what hand to the case that you opened the day after jim comey was fired? did you get briefed on it every morning after you opened it? >> no. so those cases, the already-existing russia investigations and the case we opened, were also immediately turned over to director mueller, and became kind of the meat of the special counsel's work at that time.
>> and did anyone that worked for you when it was under your purview go work for robert mueller? >> we sent quite a few people over to support director mueller's team. i should also mention, nicolle, that we structured our relationship with those folks who are working on that team in a very careful way. so those folks are still fbi employees and still responsible to our organization. we're responsible for their salaries and all of that sort of stuff. but we very much did not want those team members in a position where they would be constantly having to come back to fbi headquarters or back to their field offices for approvals and things like that. we wanted them to take direction only from director mueller and his staff. so he made it very clear with special counsel at that time. >> someone described it as a big mega u.s. attorney's office within main doj and that's not
actually in the same building, is that right? >> that's correct. >> can you explain for me -- someone said this to me when it was first reported in "the new york times" that this question arose for you that was serious enough for the counterintelligence investigation to be opened, this question that what we covered in the media as obstruction, the firing of the fbi director, and we learned in that nine-day period he had been asked to pledge his loyalty to donald trump. he had been asked to drop the flynn investigation. we had always covered that as conduct of the president's part that could constitute obstruction of justice. it was described as the obstruction became the collusion. is that because of it would be in vladimir putin's benefit for that investigation to end? >> sure. i think it's important to understand it wasn't just one event, it wasn't just the firing of jim comey, it was a series of curious and odd things we had been watching and kind of considering as we progressed through the pre-existing russia case.
those four or so cases that we had been investigating since the end of the summer of 2016. >> can you describe -- what -- were they public statements? private statements, what were they? >> generally the president was very clear about the fact that he wasn't happy about what we were doing. he consistently referred to the russia investigation as a hoax, he demeaned the investigative efforts and purpose of the investigation in the media. so this is talk from the president that people are very familiar with and kind of immune to these days to investigators conducting an investigation, we start to ask ourselves why is the president so clearly indicating his displeasure with what we're doing? the next really tough thing for us to figure out was the president's request to jim comey to drop the flynn investigation, which was part of our ongoing russia effort. so for me that was really a watershed moment. i remember driving home, i think
it was valentine's day, jim called me. i took the call in the car, and he related very generally to me the content of the conversation that he had had that day with the president. and i remember thinking like this is not something that we can explain away as an ignorance or lack of sophistication about how the justice department works and sensitivity of fbi works and what that relationship should be like between a president and an fbi director. this was an overt effort to put a finger on the scales of justice, to eliminate some of the work that we were doing for their own purposes of self-preservation or whatever they were pursuing. so that was a watershed moment. and then, of course, when we didn't stop. the flynn investigation, the president fired director comey. so once that hand, and the president followed that firing with his own inexplicable comments about thinking about
russia when he fired the director, we then had in our hands undeniable facts that clearly formed an air tickable basis to believe a federal crime may have been committed and a threat to national security might exist. and that is the standard that the fbi must reach before you open a full investigation. >> i watch enough fox to have this question on my brain, and it's probably not a healthy exercise for me mentally, but do you -- i worked 2349 white house and we would sometimes red team orselves. can you red team the opposite? what would the case be for naught asking these questions, why does donald trump meet alone in the oval office with kislyak and labbov and not have american press in there? why does donald trump not defend the soviet invasion of afghanistan, something modern russians don't even do anymore? why does donald trump meet with putin five times and have no
notes, no documents, no evidence? why on the sidelines of nato does he meet with putin with only putin's investigator? what possible defense would there be for not taking the steps he did? >> we have exactly those sorts of conversations. we don't take these steps lightly. these were matters that we discuss ready broadly across the folk that's were working in this investigative team. we had my closest advisers, the general counsel from the fbi all participated in these discussions. and we kept coming back again and again to those why questions that we just could not answer. ultimately, hi these same conversations with rod rosenstein, and he saw them the same way that i did. there's no rational, tactical, diplomatic explanation to the things that we were seeing. i think many of the things you just related are additional
concerning circumstances. inexplicable actions on the part of the president specifically with respect to russia. >> i want to ask you about rosenstein, not the 25th amendment and wire, because that's been troddened but i pulled his memo. this is the moment that he wrote. i remember kellyanne conway standing on the north lawn of the white house the day jim comey was fired and flipping threw this and reading it. and i remember thinking i don't think this is going to end well for anybody. but rosenstein wrote in his memo, the fbi has long been regarded as our nation's premiere federal investigative agency. over the past year, however, the fbi's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage and affected the entire department of justice. that is deeply troubling to many department employees and veterans, lecters and legislators and citizens. is that true? the entire department of justice had its reputation and credibility and suffered substantial damage?
>> that's really hard for me. i had some of the same questions when i read the memo the night jim was fired. i certainly don't know that to be true. i don't know what rod is referring to there. i don't have any evidence of that. >> you describe hill -- >> and to be fair, nicolle, i know there were a lot of people in the department of justice and around the country who had a lot of questions -- >> sure. giant bureaucracy. >> the clinton e-mail case, there were many controversial things about that case. i know people saw it differently and many people disagreed with some of the decisions we made. >> you were asked about some of the substance of this memo when you testified before congress. you were asked about morale at the fbi, not about the broader department of justice, and your testimony is not consistent with the description. >> no, it's not. no, it's not. >> i want to know how you describe rod rosenstein. what you write about him is that you went back to see him after the meeting you described, rosenstein wondered aloud if
there was some way to collect specific evidence about the parent's motivations and put it unequivocally on the record. no option seemed feasible. in any case trump made the connection tw comey's firing and this russia thing with his comments to lester holt. did rod get used by the president to fire comey? >> i don't know. and i can't sit here with you today and say what was in rod's mind, what was rod thinking? i can tell you what i observed. i never saw rod indicate any regret with writing the memo or with the reasons he stated in the memo. i think rod was surprised by the white house's kind of rollout of the firing and rod's memo. and their effort to kind of put rod, to make it appear as if rod had initiated the effort on his own and was really the driving force behind it. that i understood was not the
case. certainly not from the event that's rod related to me. >> i want to ask you about some of what we learned about the people that were he snared in the russia investigation before you left. mike flynn was interviewed. you were involved in dispatching agents to interview him. you called him, right. >> i did. i did. >> and what happened when agents went there? he lied? >> he sent agents over, he sat down with them. he was gracious. he answered their questions. he did so in a way that appeared credible. he was able to relate a chronological version of events. these are all things we look for as investigators. the problem was the answers he gave were in direct contradiction to the information we had about those matters. >> the information you had was him in his own base on an intercepted conversation with a russian? >> i don't want to confirm the exact sort of information we had but i will say we're very confident we understood the details of his interactions with
sir lee ak. >> he's pleaded guilty to lying to agents about conversations with russians. jeff sessions ultimately recused from overseeing the russia investigation through lying about conversations with russians. everyone else we've talked about being under investigation, when they came in contact with u.s. law enforcement officials and associates lied about their conversations with russians. it's weird enough -- i worked on three presidential campaigns, it's weird nuch to have conversations with russians at all. but this campaign that's been described to shoot straight, they all told you or your representatives the same lie about the same thing. as someone who prosecuted russian organized crime, what does that conduct look like? >> it looks terrible. it looks terrible. it's the kind of thing i think all americans, from wherever you stand or sit on the political spectrum, whether you supported this president or you don't, voted for him or didn't, put all
of that aside and just ask yourself have we ever had an administration with this volume of connections with our most considerable, most formidable add ver ver sari and gone through such excepts to cover these up? this prompts questions in investigators' minds. you get back to why, why is this? why would the president try to potentially obstruct justice and negatively impact our investigation into russia? why are his associates and people around him and people in his key positions lying about their contacts with russians? these are very concerning questions and things that need to be investigated. >> and my last question of topic, did you ever investigate a mob organization where uncle sal and everybody told the same lie but the person at the top didn't know about it? >> no. no. this is classic kind of criminal enterprise behavior. you have a strong leader who rules by force of will and personality, who demands
unquestioned loyalty from those people around him. that is an act of self-preservation. that leader knows he's got to have that loyalty. he's got to be sure people are on his side. if you're not on his side, you're against him. if you don't have that, it's a threat to his very existence. his or her very existence. those are some of the same traits that i saw interacting with the president and folks in his administration, some of them. >> donald trump attacked you today so we're going to sneak in a break and ask you about it on the other side. k you about it o the other side ize everything. like my bike and my calves. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ if your moderate to severeor crohn's symptoms are holding you back, and your current treatment hasn't worked well enough it may be time for a change. ask your doctor about entyvio®,
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last couple of days and he really looks to me like sort of a poor man's j. edgar hoover. i think he's a disaster. what he was trying to do was terrible and he was caught. i'm very proud to say we caught him. so we will see what happens. >> a fool. your response? >> wow, you know, you think someday you'll get used to this and on some level you never do. i have been listening to the president lie about me since october 2016 and he somehow finds new ways to do it. two days ago he tweeted he had never said anything bad about my wife, which is remarkable. he's been calling her a criminal and corrupt for two years now. it's horrendous. but this one was really interesting to me. the president, he goes to his tried and true, you're a disgrace, you're a disaster, those things he likes to say. but in this one he actually starts talking about the ig, he seems to make some effort to
distance himself in a way from my firing, in a way i find to be just patently ridiculous. >> you think there's a direct line between his statements and the tone he set about you and around the ig report into you that affected the outcome? >> here's what i'll say, nicolle, it was curious and certainly concerning to me when the president brought me up to jim comey on three separate occasions in those private meetings, and say things to jim like what's the story with that deputy director of yours? does he have a problem with me? from the very beginning i got the sense that the president wanted me out of there. and so for him to say today that oh, it was somebody else fired him as a result of this ig investigation, it directly contradicts my own experience and i would add, something i have not discussed before and i have to be careful in the way i talk about this, but i have seen
the letter that the president wrote purportedly himself justifying the firing of jim comey. >> what does it say? >> in a rambling four-plus pages, it goes through all of the different reasons why he's firing the director of the fbi. i am not going to go through all of those with you but i will tell you one of them is he claims to want to fire the director of the fbi because of his failure to fire me. that was a letter written long before the ig had concluded their investigation and drawn their, i believe, false conclusions in that report that i'm still -- still having to deal with. so for the president to say today oh, we caught him and it's the result of the ig investigation, is just simply contradictory. >> let me make sure i'm catching all of this. you have seen the letter that instead of this three-page memo from rosenstein, the president wanted to accompany with news of jim comey's firing? >> that's right. the president wrote his own letter that he i guess was
thinking of delivering to the director firing him, and it was that letter that the group gathered to discuss on may 8th, the day before jim was fired. >> and in it it includes his desire to fire him in part because he employed awe as his deputy? >> that's correct. jim's failure to fire me is cited as a reason why the president was firing jim. >> and that letter was written by the president before you were ever interviewed by the inspector general, correct? >> that is correct. >> that's pretty remarkable. can you say anything about what you're accused of doing in the inspector general report or is that an ongoing matter? >> it's an ongoing matter. i would love to sit here and break out the report with you go through it point by point. i have deep and substantive disagreements with they're conclusions in that report. i will say this, it was the result of a process that was unlike anything i have ever witnessed in my fbi career. we know it to be a result that they rushed to get to before i
was fired. essentially delivering the result that the president himself called for in his own twitter messages about me and my planned retirement, so there are so many questions about not just the conclusions in the report, which i disagree with, but process of which they were derived. >> and the section about you came out well before the rest of the report, right? >> that's right. that's right. and one of the unexplainable steps that they took was at some point their investigation of me over these disclosures, authorized disclosures to "the wall street journal" was cleved off from the larger investigation and i believe rushed forward to try to reach some sort of conclusion before i could retire. >> i want to ask you to do something, i hope it doesn't make you uncomfortable, but i have not seen you read any of what you wrote. the book is so well written. everyone should read it. maybe on your paper back tour you can come back and talk about
your years fighting russia -- >> i would love to. >> your description of your day on 9/11. someday we have to sit what everybody in working government did on that day. >> sure. >> but you write about -- you write about donald trump and what you think he might know about the fbi. i wonder if you can read starting right there. >> but i will say this, donald trump would not know the men and women of the fbi if he ran over them with the presidential limo. he's shown the citizens of this country he does not know what democracy means. he demonstrates no understanding or appreciation of our form of government. he takes no action to protect it. has any president done more to undermine democracy than this one? his i hereby demand tweet in may 2018 ordering the department of justice investigations of the investigators who are investigating him -- i can barely believe i just wrote that phrase -- is a clear example.
his demand for documents identifying confidential info informants does harm to the men and women of the fbi on a fundamental level. it undermines their ain't to build the trust that allows law enforcement investigations to take place in ways that i want to believe he does not comprehend. to think that he could recognize what constitutes a good thing for the men and women of the fbi does not deserve comment. >> so i found that to be among the most haunting things that you wrote, that he attacks day after day an institution that he does not fundamentally understand and, therefore, doesn't appreciate the damage he's doing to it. what are you scared about? >> you know, nicole, i refer to the age of terror and trump in the title of the book, and the meaning of that is to describe how functioning and serving in this government under this president becomes harder every day, particularly for the men and women in law enforcement and intelligence, to have to do the
dangerous, challenging stressful work they do with the knowledge that their own president doesn't protect, support and believe in the work that they're doing has got to be soul crushing. >> does that analysis there that he doesn't appreciate and support our democratic institutions further your suspicion that he could be a russian agent? >> it doesn't help it. i think that the president's behavior and his actions and his words are corrosive to the capable functioning of our law enforcement, of our system of justice, and our system of intelligence collection. and that makes america less safe. does he do that because he's unknowing and doesn't appreciate the work that our folks do? doesn't understand how this democracy works? or does he do it because he's following the direction or information of a foreign power? i can't answer that question but i think either -- either result is equally concerning.
>> so the counterintelligence investigation you opened, which was a full investigation, not a preliminary investigation, was absorbed by the mueller probe? >> it was. >> do you believe robert mueller has used all of those investigative powers to look at his income tax returns, to look at all of his contacts, to rely on the intelligence from all of our u.s. allies and understand whether or not your suspicions have been realized, whether he's a threat? >> i don't know what director mueller has done but i know director mueller and i know his approach to investigations is aggressive, it's all-encompassing and there's no stone director mueller and his team will leave uncovered. >> yesterday "the new york times" published -- i called it an obstruction opus, very comprehensive -- >> it's impressive. >> do you think the obstruction case is that damning that it will be presented or revealed if they don't charge -- that they're not going to charge the president because they understand him to be adhering to
doj policy you cannot indict a sitting president, but do you see the obstruction case being presented absent of any conclusion that the president participated in a conspiracy with the russians? >> i would like to see the results of those investigation in the most folsom and robust form shared with congress and to the greatest extent possible shared with american people. i think that's what this country deserves to hear what the results of what director mueller's found. >> i interviewed jim comey at the end of last year, and he was as forthcoming as you are. but there was one question he wouldn't answer. i asked him -- we talked about flynn. i have a flynn obsession. because he seemed like to me, he seems like the criminal that's most confounding. he had the authority to talk to the russians about policy. he could have as a new national security adviser just change u.s./russia sanctions. that was in his purview. instead he lied about it when asked about it.
that made him according to sally yates and others a poem blackmail threat. that was among the reasons and that and lying to the vice president about those contexts. we know from the sdny sentencing documents in the cohen case that some of cohen's testimony has been corroborated. it is found to be credible by federal prosecutors, and one of the things he's testified to is that the conversations about trump tower moscow went on a lot longer than donald trump told the american public than was represented. why wouldn't donald trump represent the same sort of threat as somebody who could potentially be blackmailed, with the russians knowing more than we did? >> that's a great question. the basic theory is, of course, if the russians know that you're lying to your boss, which is the case of mike flynn, that's something that the russians could potentially hold over your head to influence you to influence you to do their bidding essentially. is there that same possibility
of compromise with donald trump? i think you have to answer that question in the affirmative. it's a possibility. can i tell you for sure that's hand? no. can i tell you for sure that's what director mueller has found or will conclude? absolutely not. but like all americans, i anxiously await the results of that work. >> is there anything that you have seen in terms of how some of the cases were farmed out to other offices that leads you to believe that these questions will be pursued for years and years to come? >> i think the way the cases have kind of been distributed to the relevant u.s. attorney's offices is actually a very healthy sign. i think there's essentially no way to turn out the lights on this effort and walk away. those cases will continue in the hands of capable prosecutors and agents. there will likely be matters that need to be continuously investigated, individually predicated investigations, kind of spin-off cases that will need
to be pursued after director mueller decides his team's work is done and i have every faith and confidence that the u.s. attorney's office is involved and will do that work. >> last question, how are you and your family doing? >> you know, we're okay. we're okay. it's been an incredibly tough two years, and particularly this last year, but, nicolle, all families go through tough times. and this is ours. and i think like all families that are challenged and have to step up -- have to endure situations that they never asked for and didn't deserve, this experience has made us stronger. i have two children who i am so proud of. they've had to kind of live with the president taunting and bullying their father on twitter, which is just a strange thing. >> and mother. >> and mother, and mother, absolutely right. and they have emerged as independent and strong and i
will say very politically aware teenagers. so i'm just thankful to have their support and their love and we'll get through it. >> what's next for you? >> you know, i don't know. i'm really looking forward to kind of getting out for the first time and talking to people about these issues. this has been a pretty hectic week but it's also been kind of exciting. i'm looking forward to maybe doing some speaking and kind of -- kind of doing something other than driving, carpooling and walking a dog. >> not the walk-on for "ironman." >> that's right. >> the book is great. i read every page. i'm glad you wrote it. i'm glad you spent some time with us. and thank you for talking about this. there are so many unanswered questions about all of the people in the president's orbit. it gets harder and harder to argue the opposite of what you suspect and what you fear. so thank you. >> it does. >> thank you for being here. >> thank you. >> we're grateful. >> thank you. >> we're grateful. your joints...
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here to talk about what we just heard from former acting director fbi andrew mccabe, the former assistant director of counterintelligence at the fbi, so the of relevant, former u.s. attorney joy vance and the u.s. attorney who worked for both robert mueller and james comey at the fbi, all msnbc contributors, all my mentors and advisers in this pursuit. your thoughts? >> we had new news today and it's somewhat nuanced but it's really important and that is between your conversation with andy and ours in the greenroom with andy, we've learned something. we've learned -- >> i love it when that happens. >> he didn't open separate case on the president. he added the president to the already-predicated, already-long existing case on russian meddling with the campaign. why is that important? that case was a full counterintelligence
investigation. what does that mean? you have specific and air tickable facts that someone is or may be an agent to a foreign power. he felt he had enough information to add trump's name to that existing case. that's big news. >> explain that that let him doing adding trump to that full investigation. >> if you want to talk the full concept, you have the full panel of techniques available to you in a full investigation and that could have included going to a fisa court and asking him to wiretap a president. >> suddenly rod rosenstein doesn't sound like he crossed into the wire. >> indeed not. indeed matt and i were talking about in the greenroom, and matt can elaborate, this is a masterful chess move by mccabe. he's playing check at the highest level. when you add trump to that case and someone were to try to close it and maybe even that someone is rod rosenstein, he would have to say i'm closing a case involving the president and you've added obstruction to this existing case because we've
confirmed with andy in the greenroom that the obstruction case was not separate either. he added that to the existing cia case. so anyone trying to close that is closing an obstruction case on the president. >> you're down like an fbi rabbit hole. pull back out for me and explain like the significance in terms of what was handed over to mueller. two big open cases, one a counterintelligence case, one an obstruction case? >> negative. one, big fat counterintelligence case. >> there were never two -- >> exactly. that includes an element now of obstruction on the president, includes all known facts involving russia meddling with the campaign, and has the name donald h. trump added to the subject line. knock yourself out, director mueller. and matt can explain why that almost had to happen, almost had to be a special counsel case at the point you added the president to it. >> this has been a week of all of these revelations changing everything we thought we knew
about the russia question, the russia investigation and the mueller probe. this adds to that. >> that's right. i listen to him and think about the weight he must have been carrying during that eight days after jim comey was fired when he's left kind of standing in the breach. when the president has assaulted the justice department and the fbi by firing its director, when the director is investigating his campaign, when the attorney general has signed off on it and the deputy attorney general, who now is nominally in charge of the case, has also signed off on it. i'm sure signed off on it from he thought, he didn't say that here but i don't think he believes -- believed in the president's reasons for doing that. especially when rod had seen this letter where he mentioned andrew mccabe's wife is one of the reasons he wanted comey fired. so i think of the decision, he adds him to this full investigation. he did it in some consultation with rod. it's not clear how much consultation. its clear from some other interviews whether he did consult with rod somewhat but he made that decision on his own,
and i think they must have decided that technically they got across the legal threshold but the real reason they did it was the first thing he said to you, we had to figure out how we could make this case unkillable? what could we do to make this case bulletproof? either rod rosenstein because we don't trust him or the next attorney general jeff sessions gets fired or next fbi director can't kill this thing without explaining why they killed an investigation into the president himself. and i think once he did that, once he took that step, it left rod rosenstein with no choice but to appoint special counsel. now you have the fbi in rod's view probably running amok. so for all of the weight he was carrying at that moment when the department of justice was under assault and people were worried it may never operate the way it was supposed to again, andrew mccabe stood in the appreciate and said i'm going to be the person that stands up and makes sure not just this investigation is protected but independent justice department and independent fbi are protected. >> chuck rosenberg. >> yes, what you saw today -- by the way, i thought that was just
a stunningly good interview, nicolle. what you saw today was someone who is thoughtful, careful, deliberate. i don't get the sense at all andy think he got any joy from this. he informs the breach. he had extraordinarily difficult things to do during a period of time when the fbi was in sir turmoil and the things we learned is they opened a full field investigation and they added it to an existing case. the other thing they found very interesting, nicolle, is this notion that we surmised that the spin off cases were done with a good reason attached and they would last young muller's work.
and the spinoffs have their open grounding and standing and capable federal prosecutors and fbi agents have a lot of work to do oeceven if that report drops soon. >> all of the new revelations that this was an investigation into the president, it was all of the powers and the full weight of the full investigation, that really to hear him talk about the fbi in the 2016 election. this is a counter investigation kept secret for the course of the election, but we come to find out that all of the president's conduct, all of the things we talk about day after day confounded them as well. >> there is no doubt they faced an unprecedented situation and i find former acting director mccabe's book to be incredibly compelling and straightforward,
and when history looks back he will be a hero in this era. in the days firing jim comey's firing, there was an indication the president did not want to see that process come into place, and i agree it was a masterful move of combining and rolling the president into existing matters, a full investigation going forward that put rod rosenstein in a position that whether or not he was inclined to do it or not, the only issues would have been to go with a social council. we're fortunate that he landed on someone like bob mueller, it was his decision to select him as council, but along the way we see here the institution held, the institution was stretched,
and there was problems and challenges, but the people and the stungs held. >> i think she is right. that decision by him, that is a big thing for the fbi to do on his own. rod it was clear was consulted. they open investigations all of the time on their own volition. that would usually be a decision made in consultation with the justice department. i think there was a confluence of circumstances that week where you had three things that happened that got us bob mueller, andy mccabe's work on the outside, pushing and pushing rod for a special council when according to his book he resisted it.
to jim comey working on the outside to make clear out the president tried to obstruct justice. >> we did a timeline in the beginning, in this nine day period, jim comby is fired, and i think this is a few days later that he was asked to make a loilt pledge. so two days later the president admits that russia was a factor in comey's firing, i think it is the same day that we learn that trump demanded comey's loyalty. it was an extraordinary development. and then he tweets this about tapes. and weeks and months later i was saying i hope there are tapes, and then we learn that trump in that meeting that only russian
media would have access to it. and that he would have highly classified information, and then you're right, the comey memos, we start learning about the memos that comby kept, and he would see to it to let philip go. >> that's right in those eight days you're learning more and more about why he fired him, and you're learning more and more about his conversation with flynn and the conversation with the russian ambassador and foreign minister when he is tacting like a foreign agent in the white house. this is probably the thing that tips rod over. he says my reputation is being
destroyed, i should have known these things before the memo, and the fbi is makes decisions to bring the president into the investigation, i'm very concerned and i need to do something to get this back under control. >> mccabe seems like knows what we know from his book and his interview today, you know, in some ways more instrumental to how this will turn out than even jim comey. >> it's not clear to me if he caused the special council to be expedited, but in some ways i don't think it matters that much, what andy did is exactly what we would expect a senior leader of the fbi to do, nicole. i think he is instrumental in what happened, and i'm proud he is my friend. >> we will sneak in our last
these are my favorite friends and i could talk to them for hours. >> what i'm hearing today and what we're hearing from his book is he took the right steps at the right time and that took tremendous courage to add the president of the united states to an existing investigation of russian collusion knowing it would lead to a special council inquiry. fantastic, masterful move, done for a general interest in national security. >> and he lost his job and the back impact on his family is horrific. thank you all for watching, thank you for your contributions on air and off, that does it for my hour "mtp daietaiailydaily" right now. >> how confident are you that he is telling