tv Deadline White House MSNBC August 16, 2022 1:00pm-3:00pm PDT
years and if i have anything to do with it, we're still going to have an assault weapons ban, but that's another story. and significant veterans health care law in decades for the first time, to a ground breaking chipping and sciences law that's going to ensure that technologies and jobs in the future are made here in america. in america. [ applause ] and all this progress is part of our vision and plan and determined effort to get the job done for the american people. so they can look their child in the eye and say, honey, it's going to be okay. everything's going to be okay. everything's going to make sure that the democracy delivers for your generation because i think that's at stake, and now i know there are those here today who hold a dark and despairing view of this country. i'm not one of them. i believe in the promise of america. i believe in the future of this
country. i believe in the very soul of this nation, and most of all, i believe in you, the american people. i believe in my core there isn't a single thing this country cannot do when we put our mind to it. we have to remember who we are. we are the united states of america. there's nothing beyond our capacity. that's why so many foreign companies decide to invest their make chips in america, billions of dollars. we're the best. we have to believe in ourselves again, and now i'm going to take action that i've been looking forward to doing for 18 months. [ applause ] i'm going to sign the inflation reduction act.
hey, everyone, it's john heilemann here, i forgot to say aloha, namaste, and gutentag. i'm here for nicolle wallace yet again, and we are here interrupting our regularly scheduled programming which you're all too familiar with, to bring you a special bulletin regarding what president joe biden would in an earlier incarnation surely have referred to as a big fricken deal. the president of the united states as you saw there has just signed into law the inflation reduction act, the administration's long stalled frequently written off for dead legislation encompassing tax policy, climate policy, health care policy, and more.
the ira, it's the latest in a stunning string of legislative victories, many of them with bipartisan support for this president, victories that to the dismay of the white house and many democrats have been overshadowed by the unprecedented and extraordinary saga of donald trump's current legal entanglement with the department of justice over his possession of sensitive and in some cases top secret documents at mar-a-lago. with the inflation induction act signing, we are here to shine a bright light on a signature achievement for the biden presidency so far. the ira is a more than $700 billion bill that rewrites the corporate tags code, achieves the long pined for democratic goal allowing medicare to negotiate over the price of prescription drugs, thereby certainly lowering their costs to consumers and also directs hundreds of billions of dollars in spending to curb carbon emissions making it the most significant climate bill in this country's history. that is a ton of big ticket big time democratic goals, all achieved with the stroke of president biden's pen, a stroke
that as the president just said he's been waiting around to enact, to get that -- john hancock there, a year and a half for that to become a reality, it arrives at a critical moment. fewer than 100 days ahead of the midterm elections, the event at the white house today is meant to be a prelude to an even bigger event touting the bill next month and part of a pran by the white house to sell the accomplishments of joe biden's first two years in office. we have maria theresa kumar, president and ceo of vote latino, as well as an msnbc contributor, on set with me, james bennett, senior editor of the economist magazine, and the man who writes the lexington column on american politics. ha is an important column written by very famous people in the past. maria theresa, i want to ask you, you know, is it worth the wait? i mean, the build back better wait going forever, the administration took on a fair amount of water over it. it finally not done. talk about the substance of this bill and its value and also the politics and its potential value
for democrats. >> let's start with the name of it. the inflation reduction act basically speaks to what everybody's concerned with right now, kitchen table checkbook items. he addresses this head on. you and i often talk about how the democrats aren't the best marketers. this is marketing branding genius. now let's move into the actual legislation. coupled with the chips act and the american recovery act, this bill affords close to $500 billion in clean energy and clean tech. it's historic on its own, but coupled together, it is telling the american people the big bets that biden believes we need to do and it's in the future. now we talk about medicare prescription drugs, and we're talking about perking up the ears of older voters who happen to be more on the moderate side, more conservative. this benefits them, and then finally, the corporate taxes. making sure that corporations are paying their fair share. bundled together, we're talking to the youth vote. we're talking to independents
and we're talking to older voters. going into a midterm where we know it's going to be very, very tight races in some of the reddest states of the country. this is a big one for him. >> so, i want to put up -- let's look at not just at this bill, but some of the things that maria theresa just talked about that joe biden's been on a roll. this is what's happened in 2021 and 2022 with the price tags attached here. we had the american recovery act. it was the first thing biden passed, $1.9 trillion with a t. the infrastructure act, 550 billion that was last fall. the chips and science act, just a couple of weeks ago at $280 billion, and the inflation reduction act at $700 billion. james, i ask you, you're a student of history, right? there was a period of time when joe biden came into office and said i'm going to be like fdr. i'm going to be like lbj, and people in our business and a lot of people in washington were like you do not have the margins to pass those kinds of -- that kind of legislation. i don't care if there's been a pandemic for two years. you're not going to get these big bills passed. that is like some version of
everything he said he wanted to pass, the recovery act, the infrastructure bill, and now this, you know, different name but build back better. is joe biden entitled to basically turn to everybody at this point and say you guys doubted me? you were wrong. >> yeah, i mean, i think he has the right to take a victory lap here, though, john. i think he's joe biden. this is much truer. these accomplishments are much truer to biden's own theory of governance, which is ten yards in a cloud of dust. even members of his own party would kind of roll their eyes when he would bang on about the need for compromise and bipartisanship. it sounded like an old fashion fashioned way to talk about governance. i think it's actually good news that can work, and he's shown real patience and doggedness, and you know, a willingness to compromise when he's needed to to get this stuff tone. >> it's amazing. it's not like, you know, people say bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake, why are
we chasing that. people fight with me about it all the time. there's one person who it matters to, who matters a lot, and that's the president. the president thinks that bipartisanship matters. like regardless of what we think and although these are not, you know, they're not a lot of republicans who signed on to a lot of these bills, some republicans signed on to almost all of them, and i know that matters to joe biden. you think it matters to the american people? >> it matters, i think, to the american people but also to the institution and the progress, and i think one of the things that we really need to recognize is that he is one of the few presidents that understood how to create bipartisanship in the modern era. we saw so much bombast coming out of the previous administration, that was almost impossible. it was very much the trump agenda. obama had a hard time because he wasn't a senior lion of the senate, so he had a hard time with those relationships. and right now in a time where we're coming out of a pandemic, when we're coming out, you know, as a country hobbled in so many ways, he has been able to
demonstrate what servant leadership is, what it means to be part of an institution. he understands what levers to pull, how to negotiate in the background, oftentimes little pieces of understanding and professionalism that people oftentimes try to diminish. and so i think that this not only speaks to yes, he needed this for his administration, but it also speaks to his legacy of the senate, that he understands how it works, and that's why he's been able to bring some republicans along in times when others could not. >> you know, here's a question for you real quick, i want to get to that. we have jennifer granholm coming in a second. maria theresa makes a point about, joe biden loves the senate and he wanted to be involved in a lot of these negotiations. and i think the most extraordinary act of political discipline that i've seen biden enact in a long time is when he basically said i'm going to back off this spring. i'm not going to try to run
these negotiations. i'm going to let chuck schumer and joe manchin get down to business, and that turned out -- i mean, for biden to basically step away from a thing he loves to do, be in the middle of the deal, i think there was a degree of political discipline and wisdom in that move that is easy to overlook, but it's genuine and helped get this thing done. >> discipline is not a word we've tended to associate with joe biden over the years, and a willingness to minimize his own role, not to be out front, and i think you're right. again, he showed a tremendous amount of patience, and i think maria theresa's point is really well taken. this is good news for our governing institutions, you know. they are actually able to get some stuff done. >> well, that was one of the things biden said he was going to try to prove with his presidency. we can talk about that now with energy secretary jennifer granholm. it's always nice to be there on a day when something gets signed. how are you doing? how's it feel down there? what's the atmosphere like at the white house? >> people are joyful, there's this huge sense of at least all
of the cabinet secretaries who were there who have a piece of this bill, the inflation reduction act, we just felt so happy. the president clearly was happy. the members of congress who were there, it was a small ceremony. obviously there will be a larger one that will include a lot of people to celebrate. oh, my goodness because it's so consequential, john, the fact that this is the biggest movement on climate of any white house by ten, times ten, bigger than any country has done on this. so it is -- and of course it's huge for real people being able to lower their costs and the president is really obsessed and focused and really has all of these bills have been focused on how we lower costs for real people, and this will be huge for people. so i don't know, it was just a great moment. we are happy as we can be. >> yeah, a lot of you i know
privately or publicly thought this thing was doomed. talk about the substance, we talk about the politics all the time. we're going to put up on the screen when some of the inflation reduction act components take effect. how soon will people feel this stuff. some of the stuff you know a lot about, secretary gran home, the clean electricity credits are coming online immediately, the aca afford care act tax credits coming on january 2023. free vaccines under medicare, january, $35 insulin cap under medicare, january. these are things like -- that's moving -- those things are coming online pretty quickly, and i'll put aside the politics for a second in the question of the midterms. do you think that there's a -- that the president was able to get this done and that those particular planks of the legislation and others will hit -- will start to make an impact on the economy within the next six months. talk about the effect that will
be on the american economy and on the american spirit. >> well, i mean, honestly, the american spirit has something to do with how the economy will move too. this was such -- the reason why this was so positive is because there was just this enormous sense of hope that government can actually function, that we are moving forward, that this white house in partnership with the house and the senate can actually do big pieces of legislation that impact real people, and yeah, people will start to feel this if they take advantage of the tax credit. so, for example, if you are -- if you're somebody who has wondered whether you should put solar panels on your roof, there is a 30% tax credit for you to be able to do that. if you are of low or moderate income, it may be more. it may be more for you to be able to install a heat pump. the heat pump may be fully covered. there's income levels, there will be guidance about this for people within a weak or so, i think even before that in some instances, but the bottom line is costs are are dropping for real people. i mean, the electric vehicle
pieces of things, when you look at the gas prices, it is just very significant, when you think about being able to drive for essentially $1 a gallon and there are lower cost models. i mean, i drive a chevy bolt, and that msrp, the manufacturer suggested retail price for that is like 28,000. you add a $7,500 tax credit, and some states have additional tax credits, might be 2,000, might be 4,000, now that's in an affordable range if you have to get a new car, and then you'd only be paying the equivalent of a dollar a gallon by charging it up. that saves you thousands of dollars every year. same thing with installing efficient appliances. if you install them and are saving hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars every year as a result of that, that brings down prices for real people, bills they pay every single month. that's one of the great pieces of this is that you will see that impact, and you talk about
prescription drugs. some of that will roll in a little bit later as they do the negotiations, but some of it will be effective within months. so i think you'll see real impact for people asap. >> i'm glad to hear you drive that chevy volt, i'd be disappointed as a former governor of the great state of michigan. i want to get to the politics just a little bit, right? i know the messaging of this bill is something there's a lot of discussion going on at the white house right now. we've seen some ron klain memo about what you guys are going to do. there's going to be this bigger event coming up in the next month. i want to just put a couple important facts. let's start with the support for the bill, just a couple quick things. people love this stuff that's in this bill. "politico" consult poll, on the medicare negotiating drugs prices, 73% support, 11% oppose. on the reducing the budget deficit by $300 billion, 73% support, 9% oppose. on the climate stuff, 54% or
support, and 32% oppose. so this bill is popular. the big provisions are popular, but, but, there's an ipsos poll that asks people how familiar they are with the inflation reduction act, 41% familiar, 59% unfamiliar. so the challenge there is clear, and i just want to hear you talk a little bit about this, secretary granholm about what the administration does with the remaining time that it has because the midterms are bearing down. democrats hope it will help them, but the clock is ticking and a lot of people don't know what's in the bill. >> yeah, for sure, and this is why we need to tell people what's in the bill, whether it's before the election or after the election. we need to let people know how they can access the provisions that will drive savings to them in the bill, and so the cabinet will be on the move to make that clear to people and it's, you know, honestly some of this stuff when you combine, for example, the bipartisan infrastructure law with this
inflation reduction act, it is going to be momentous. one of the things the president said is that there will be jobs all across this country, 9 million jobs to be created before 2030, and these are good jobs. these are good paying jobs. there's incentives for them to be union jobs, so, therefore, with security, with family, you know, family sustaining wages. so we're going to be -- i mean i always says there's all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people in all pockets of america, and we want all pockets of america to know this is coming their way or this hope and opportunity is coming their way and it does mean they should feel good about their country because we are moving forward. and the president is an inveterate optimist, i am too, and i'm excited to be able to bring some good news to people. >> secretary jennifer granholm, always a ray of sunshine. you know, on the cloudiest days but today a very sunny day there at the white house. maria theresa kumar also thanks
for starting us off, james bennett like it or not, sticking around. up next, we have brand new reporting on mar-a-lago gate that reveals that the doj has already interviewed donald trump's top white house lawyers over the sensitive documents whisked off to florida after the former guy left office. plus, liz cheney who put her congressional career on the line to defend the constitution against trump, she is set to learn her fate tonight in wyoming's republican primary. and later in the 5:00 hour, the man who served donald trump as national security adviser and now regards him as a blithering idiot and who calls trump world's claims about a standing declassification order a bunch of boldface lies. john bolton joins us. all this and more when "deadline white house" continues after this. please do not go anywhere. the ♪ ♪ and kenny on the koi ♪ ♪ and your truck's been demolished by the peterson boy ♪
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. and now back to our regularly scheduled programming, we are following new developments in the investigation into the disgraced twice impeached coup staging, pathologically duplicitous ex-president's handling of classified materials. "the new york times" reporting today that pat cipollone and patrick philbin were interviewed by the fbi in connection with the sensitive documents that were stored at mar-a-lago after trump left office and all the way up until they were seized a week ago. sources told "the new york times" that at least one of the former white house lawyers patrick philbin was interviewed back in the spring as investigators attempted to answer how 15 boxes of material, some of them containing top secret information found their way to florida from the white house. according to the times, quote, mr. philbin tried to help the national archives retrieve the
material, but the former president repeatedly resists entreaties from his advisers. quote, it's not theirs. it's mine, several advisers say mr. trump told them. that sounds wholly realistic. joinings us now kneel cat yawl, the former acting solicitor general and a law professor at georgetown university. neal, i want to start by asking you what you think the significance is in terms of the law and the way in which the investigation is unfolding that we now know that these two top white house lawyers have already been under the scrutiny of the fbi in this matter. >> yeah, i think that the interviews here is significant, but it's not unexpected, john. i mean, cipollone and philbin were the two top white house lawyers, and afterwards trump put them in charge of dealing with the archives on classified information, and they did that, and then at some point it looks like they were replaced by kash patel who's the guy who has the same relationship to the truth
as donald trump does. and so it's not surprising that the justice department went and tried to interview these two white house lawyers. they had a bird's eye view about what was going on, that snippet you just showed, which sounds exactly like trump sounding like a toddler, it's mine, it's mine. all of that is, you know, i think to be expected, and it's very hard for these two lawyers to claim any sort of attorney/client privilege or executive privilege, this just goes to the way in which documents were being handled and what trump said about ownership of these documents. >> so neal, you mentioned kash patel and his theory, his claims of the blanket order to declassify basically if trump took the document from the white house into the residence, it immediately became declassified. people laugh at that. it's the idea of i can turn water to wine by taking it from my kitchen to the living room. would that not have been a question that in a normal white house, any attempt to declassify documents would have started,
presumably with pat cipollone right? he would have been aware of any actual formal, normal effort to declassify anything. >> exactly. look, maybe if it's like a media national security crisis, and you don't have time to go and get the white house counsel's approval or something like, that i could imagine in the most emergency of circumstances, the president could do it on their own, but otherwise presidents like everyone else are bound by the procedures, the court of appeals in new york just a couple of years ago said exactly that, and i think the biggest problem for trump is, even if this is so, even if you could declassify these documents, the three statutes that those search warrants identified don't require classified information, and at the end of this, trump has flowed out every possible, you know, excuse hoping one sticks and they make no sense. but at the bottom line, it's been now eight days since the search. he's never explained what in the world he was doing with these
documents, classified or not classified, you know, the french government, the information on the french president may not be classified but it's certainly not yours, donald trump to take. you know, and that's -- the thing that gets missed in this, i was before i was in the solicitor general's office, i was national security adviser at the justice department, and i handled this kind of information, and when you have it, john, you take it so seriously. it's so sacred. it's like, you know, you know what went into producing that type of information. you know, human lives, human intelligence, spies, certain electronic capabilities and the like. and you know, the idea that you'd treat it cavalierly, leave it in your golf club or something like that, i mean, that is unfathomable. >> so i want to go to the question of the affidavit here and this is one of the things we're waiting for. we learned yesterday that the government had said that they do not want to have the affidavit that's attached to the search warrant made public after last week agreeing to have the search
warrant made public and the inventory made public. i want to read to you, neal, waiting for the judge now to rule in that case, donald trump ask and his said have said they want the affidavit to come out in the public. here's part of the fiing the government put in to explain why they didn't the affidavit to be made public. they say this, if disclosed the affidavit would serve as a road map to the ongoing investigation providing specific details about its direction and course in a matter that is highly like will to compromise future investigative steps. in addition, information act witnesses is particularly sensitive given the high profile nature of the matter and the risk that the revelation of witness identities would impact their willingness to cooperate with the investigation. so that's, you know, that's the government's position. i'm curious about what you think given what the trump side, everybody in the republican world wants this this thing to be revealed. there are a lot of journalists that would like to see it too. tell me about how you think the judge will evaluate the competing kplams over this. >> i don't think the republicans actually want it revealed.
i think they want to say that because they know the justice department is going to resist. what's going to happen procedurally, the judge is going to have oral argument thursday 1:00 p.m., i think you and i will be on set at 4:00. what the justice the president has said about keeping this affidavit secret is absolutely standard operating procedure for the justice department. we would always, at the point i was at the department resist this kind of stuff in an active investigation. so that's not surprising. what is a little bit surprising is the level of detail they gave in that paragraph that you read and other information on that page, on page 8 of the government's filing because they do talk about how witnesses would be compromised, and how investigative techniques would be compromised as well if the affidavit were made public. so that suggests there's a person on the inside that is giving information to the government, something we suspected already, and that there are certain, you know, technical law enforcement capabilities here that are at
issue. all that together if you're donald trump, you have to be incredibly worried after reading that filing because, you know, he's like a mob boss. he's always been worried about people flipping on him and defecting, and the witness stuff is going to fuel that paranoia. also, he has such a -- such a bad relationship with the truth and honesty, you know, who knows what he has said to all these different people at mar-a-lago. any of that can come out, it's fair game for federal investigators. >> i want to stick with the affidavit just because you mentioned what your assessment and interpretation and analysis of why republicans are saying what they're saying. i want to play this sound, we've had a lot of republicans who basically spent their time over the last week trashing law enforcement, calling them the gestapo and all that. lindsey graham has not done that. he's basically taken the position of being a little more circumspect, not attacking federal law enforcement again in the way of a marjorie taylor greene or a matt gates or a rand paul for that matter.
here's what he says on fox news, lindsey graham, demanding to see the affidavit. this is what his explicit public argument is. >> every republican should be suspicious of what's happened in the past happening again, so we need the affidavit. show your cards, merrick garland can't have it both ways. he can't give us the inventory, the warrant without telling us why it was necessary to raid the former president's home. and there was no less intrusive method available. the affidavit should help us a lot, understand what happened here, and without the affidavit, we're flying blind in the dark, and the american people are going through too much pain, too much heartache on this endless effort to destroy donald trump, it's time for the department of justice. they have no more benefit of the tout in my view to turn over the affidavit, so all of us can look at it, at a minimum, give it to the intel committee and judiciary committee so you have senators from both sides look at it. >> neal, you pointed out the republicans want to make this argument because they know the
justice department will resist it. at the same time, it seems like lindsey fwram is praying a dangerous game here. if the judge does decide to put it out, they have no idea what's in that affidavit. that affidavit could be really devastating to republicans who defended or supported donald trump reflexively throughout this. >> 100%. give me a break, last week he and the others were saying, oh, you got to release a copy of the warrant. you got to release a copy of the warrant. so then garland goes on tv and says i'm going to seek the release of the warrant. now it's a moving goal post. now it's you've got to have the underlying affidavit. john, there are thousands of affidavits filed every year that justify searches. they do not get revealed, and certainly there's of course a strong public interest here in getting the contents of the affidavit. there's a stronger interest in carrying out an investigation first. there's no doubt that everything in this affidavit is ultimately going to come out over time. the question is do you want as trump's lawyers are calling for right now the release of the affidavit right now so they can
see who those witnesses are and who knows what they will do to them. i mean, this is, again, not a group of people who has, you know, treated the law enforcement investigative process the way it should be. so i think the justice department's absolutely right. i think there is really very little chance that the judge is going to release the affidavit given the strong needs to carry out an investigation. but you know, we're all going to know this pretty quickly. i mean, you know, i think while garland took a long time to decide to authorize the search, now that he's done that, i think he's going to feel a lot of pressure to move and conclude this as quickly as possible. >> i think it's fair to say, neal, that if you think about the various effects that donald trump had in the republican party, one of them is he has really raised a generation of political goal post movers and lindsey graham is at the top of that list. none of them matched donald trump. his position seems to be there were no classified documents at mar-a-lago. if there were, you planted them.
if you didn't plant them, it was fine for them to be there. they belong to me. no one has any rights to these documents, they're mine, not yours. neal katyal, thank you. >> after the break, what liz cheney's all but certain loss in her wyoming primary portends at the aforementioned gop and democracy itself. moderate to severe eczema still disrupts my skin. despite treatment it disrupts my skin with itch. it disrupts my skin with rash. but now,
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congresswoman? >> well, look, i think today no matter what the outcome is is certainly the beginning of a battle that is going to continue, is going to go on, and as a country, we're facing very challenging and difficult times. we're facing a moment where our democracy really is under attack and under threat, and those of us across the board, republicans, democrats, and independents who believe deeply in freedom and who care about the constitution and the future of the country, i think have an obligation to put that above party and i think that fight is clearly going to continue, clearly going to go on. >> that was moments ago out in jackson, wyoming, congresswoman liz cheney talking about her immediate political future as we speak, voters in wyoming are deciding whether to keep her on for another term. she is a long shot to win with recent polling showing her down somewhere around 30 points in that republican primary. never mind the fact that she voted with donald trump 92.9% of
the time. all that seems to matter right now for republicans is her leadership role with the january 6th select committee. a recent poll from the university of wyoming showed of respondents expecting to cast their ballots for her opponent, harriet hagman, only 29 american said it was because they supported hagaman, the vote was simply opposition to liz cheney. while a loss has appeared likely for months after what the new yorker called a kamikaze campaign, don't count on this term to be her last act. from nbc news, quote, she now has a national fund-raising platform, cash in the bank, and a bipartisan set of admirers, including many republicans and democrats, i believe there's a method to the way she has run her campaign. some of cheney's backers hope tuesday's election a point of met mor fa sis, the moment she becomes a presidential candidate who can argue that she has prioritized the health of the republic over partisanship. joining us now, stuart stevens,
senior adviser to the lincoln project who knows liz cheney well, she worked on her father's debate prep in 2004. i'll start by giving you an open shot at the goal here, having known liz cheney for a long time, having known her father very well, having seen her campaign, what kind of conservative she is, talk a little about what appears at least right now to be at least the end of her congressional career and what you think is going on in her mind as she contemplates the future. >> well, look, you know, liz cheney is the mirror that is showing republican shame. to think we're here today in 2022 and cheney is getting potentially droned out of the republican party. it really proves everything that we've said that's happened to the republican party. it's become an autocratic movement. it has nothing to do with policy. there is no policy in the
republican party right now. technically, the platform that was passed at the last convention says explicitly to support whatever donald trump says. so what liz cheney is doing is not something super human. she's not out there charging a beach and taking a machine gun nest. she's just speaking the truth. and no other republicans can do this. it's just extraordinary, and i think we're going to look back on this and it's going to be a moment when people are going to ask themselves how did this happen to a once sane party that it became an autocratic movement, and i think the answer to that is that republicans realized that they had two choices, to change to meet a very rapidly changing america, an america that's headed to a minority majority status, or bunker down, try to change how it is that elections are held, who it is that votes.
and that's -- the latter's tragically the choice that they've made, and i think that's why the next two elections are arguably the most important in america since 1860. >> yeah, i mean, so there's a longer conversation to be had here, stuart, you wrote a book the title even among never trump tracks is one of the most dramatic. it was all a lie, someone who worked in the republican party for a long time, who basically say, no, actually, all of it was bs. i want to ask you before i go back to stuart to watch another piece of liz cheney's sound. this is her two weeks ago, and seeming really at peace with that decision for the reasons she explains in this piece of tape. let's watch. >> he's so dangerous that, you know, my view is that at the end of the day, if defending the constitution against the threat that he poses means losing a house seat, then that's a
sacrifice that i'm willing to make. i don't intend to lose, but some things are more important than any individual office or political campaign. >> so james, you were out there. you wrote about this and i believe in your inaugural column as lexington in the economist and you were at wyoming. just is that -- is that -- by the time you were there, does that sense of kind of inevitability, a certain kind of resignation, not to the fate of the -- she obviously is still fighting a fight for the soul of the party and the country, but a resignation to the notion that the writing was on the wall, and that she was going to have to be looking beyond her current job if she was going to have a role in american life. >> yeah, there's no question. i mean, there was a very narrow path for her. it's not so much about democrats switching over as it is about independents who have registered as republicans in wyoming voting for her. she wasn't very visible. she really didn't run a very active campaign. some of that was i think for
security reasons. i was out there over july 4th, for example, and she was not. i don't know if she was in the state, but she wasn't doing any public events, and harriet hagaman has been traveling, been more visible. liz cheney, all the money she's raised, it's not like she's dumped it into advertising in this campaign. i really think -- just to come back to something stuart said, he said it's not super human. it doesn't take anything away from liz cheney to say -- because she has been courageous, she has been principled, but this is what passes for courage today in our politics? it really is an index to how decadent our politics have become. all she's doing is telling the truth, insisting on the truth about the election and insisting that donald trump bears some measure, serious measure of responsibility for what happened on january 6th, which is something other leading members of her party were willing to say in the immediate aftermath of
that day. >> the cravenness and kind of small mindedness, patheticness of a lot of members of congress. the worst thing they can imagine is losing that job in congress. it's not like they're going to have to go work on a chain gang or something. they're going to go off and be a lobbyist, or do something with their law degree, whatever. we have a lot more to say about the liz cheney situation. even's sticking around, on the other side from this quick break. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪
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so we're back with stuart stevens and james bennett. stuart, i want to get back to liz cheney. i want to ask a very particular kind of question that goes to the enduring power that donald trump has had. i want to put up here a list of house republicans who voted to impeach donald trump over the january 6th attack. let's put that list up and see where they all stand. liz cheney getting primaried today. she's like ly to lose. butler lost the primary. peter meyer lost a primary. fred upton retiring. adam kinzinger retiring, congressman gonzalez retiring. so we've got two that managed to win their primaries. everybody else is either retiring knowing that they would lose their primary or have lost their primary. so stuart, when you think about liz cheney and she clearly thinks she has a political future. she wants to reform the republican party and presumably she wants to lead that reformed republican party. that amount of strength that donald trump is showing, is this a party that within liz cheney's
lifetime could be reformed? >> well, let's talk about what that lifetime would be. i think the baseline test here is will the republican nominee in '24, whoever it whoever it i they are running against a legally elected president? it's unimaginable that will happen. so, think about that. they're not going to be running to take the place of another president. they're going to be running to depose an occupier. they don't believe in democracy. if you don't believe that joe biden was elected legally, you don't believe america is a democracy, and you believe you live in an occupied country. and that's a short walk to how you end up trying to seize the capitol or all of this talk about civil war. so, that's not going to happen in '24. i can't imagine that it's going to happen in '28. to me, the best hope would be in '32, and the only way this is
going to happen is if these republicans are defeated. you can't negotiate with these people. how do you meet the guy in the camp auschwitz sweatshirt halfway? you just have to crush them. you have to fight. and liz cheney knows that and she's a fighter. >> james, i want to ask you this question, question i'm now asking everybody. donald trump gets indicted over this doj probe, can donald trump be nominated by the republican party while being -- while under indictment? do you think that's a plausible scenario? >> i think it's certainly a plausible scenario, yeah. >> the republican party -- even with, could be overwhelming evidence and indictment, you're like, that's -- that's not what matters. donald trump's power over the party is so absolute now, that will just be seen as another witch hunt. the indictment won't matter? >> i think this is the terrible political box that merrick garland and the whole country is in right now. a lot -- look, we're dealing with lot of hypotheticals here. a lot depends on what's in those
boxes they took out of mar-a-lago. if the nuclear codes are in there, that's something everybody is going to understand. then it becomes not just a legal problem but a serious political problem for the president. if he's able to continue saying, this is a witch hunt, playing his usual game, i don't see how this is an obstacle to his running, winning the nomination and potentially winning the presidency again. >> stuart stevens, that's my one-word question to you. donald trump could be the republican nominee under indictment, yes or no? >> yes. yes. it would help him. >> well, that's a very cheerful way to end this block. stewart, author of "it was all a lie," thank you for coming on. you are a man who speaks truth to power. james bennett, thank you for spending time with us. we are going to take a quick break. ng time with us. we are going to take a quick break. ks. it's so easy. and more customers today are relying on their cars advanced safety features, like automatic emergency breaking and lane departure warning. that's why our recalibration service is state of the art. we recalibrate your vehicle's camera,
busy day at the white house today where they announced the first lady, jill biden, has tested positive for covid. the first lady has been prescribed paxlovid. she'll remain in south carolina where she has been vacationing with the president. president biden returned to the white house today to sign the inflation reduction act into law as we reported earlier in the hour. he'll be wearing a mask around others since he is for sure a close contact of the first lady's. coming up, we have john bolton, who has scorned
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prop 26? nothing for disadvantaged tribes vote yes on 27. ♪♪ donald trump's been a friend of mine for 25 years, and i'm always very open about this on my show, but, you know, we'll see whether that's what the country wants. maybe it's time to turn the page if we can get someone who has all trump's policies, who's not trump, right? >> wow.
holy moly. that is incredible sight to see there. hello again, everybody, it's 5:00. aloha, namaste, we're in gotham city. i'm john heilemann, can't believe what i just heard and saw. that was a really unusual moment right there, beyond unusual, from fox news's laura ingraham yesterday. she's one of trump's staunchest, most steadfast, and often strident allies, who has railed against the fbi and the department of justice on her show in the days following the fbi search of mar-a-lago. now, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, suggesting that maybe it's time to move on from her friend, the former disgraced twice-impeached coup-staging, pathologically dishonest president. maybe, laura ingraham is saying, it's time to turn the page away from a man at the center of a federal investigation into the possible mishandling of classified documents after he left office. maybe it's time to turn the page away from this dude whose
rhetoric around the fbi has inflamed his base to such a degree that it's become an acute, urgent and potentially life-threatening risk to law enforcement officials everywhere. a pennsylvania man was charged by federal prosecutors after he posted many violent threats online against the fbi. two days after the mar-a-lago search, this man wrote, of the fbi, "you declared war on us and, now it's open season on you." and then the next day, "i sincerely believe that if you work for the fbi, then you deserve to die." threats like those remain a significant and severe concern as the justice department indicated in its investigation, it's very much ongoing, and its objection to making public the affidavit that was used to justify the search warrant of mar-a-lago. the doj warned that releasing that affidavit would reveal the road map to its investigation, and "would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses, whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses." that was this afternoon.
we learned that the fbi interviewed former top white house lawyers, patrick fill bin and pat cipollone. "new york times" notes they are the most senior people who worked for trump who are known to have been interviewed by investigators after the national archives referred the matter to doj earlier this year. in a sign that trump may be seeing the writing on the wall, yesterday, he told fox news that he had his representatives reach out to the doj officials to offer help because, "the temperature has to be brought down in the country. if it isn't, terrible things are going to happen." comment an awful lot like an arsonist, not just an arsonist, like the serial arsonist, telling the firefighters that he is now here to help douse the blaze. joining us now, politico national correspondent and msnbc contributor betsy woodruff swan. lot of names. tracy walter, former fbi special agent who spent five years as a
covert operative, and msnbc legal analyst andrew weissmann, a former doj prosecutor and senior member of robert mueller's special counsel investigation, and here with me onset, i can't believe my luck, the joyce vance, former u.s. attorney, now law professor at the university of alabama. guys, so much happening here. andrew, start with you. just tell me about the interviews of philbin and cipollone. what does it mean? what does it portend? is it significant or something that's just matter of course? >> well, it's not a matter of course the department of justice interviews former white house counsel, but it is to be expected here, and there's a reason it would be those two people who were in the white house counsel, because they were two of seven people who were selected by president trump on january 19th of 2021, just shortly before he left office, to be his representatives in terms of collecting and dealing
with presidential records. so, those would be the natural people to speak with. in fact, i would imagine if they spoke to those two people, they tried to speak to all seven, so i think that is important, and one of the things that's reported is that patrick philbin, who, by all accounts, is a law-abiding kind of guy, said, i tried to get these documents back, but the president resisted. so, he could be providing quite damaging testimony, and then the final piece is, it appears that all seven of these people were replaced just recently in june of 2022 with john solomon and, of all people, kash patel, as the former president's representatives to the national archives. >> andrew, i'm going stick with you because i want to talk about more about the affidavit and
what the justice department, you know, we know yesterday, asked the judge in florida to keep the affidavit sealed. we know that donald trump's side is asking for it to be unsealed. here's a quote from nbc news where characterizes what prosecutors' position is. they said on monday, in their filing, that the government didn't oppose unsealing other materials filed in connection with the search warrant, documents they said would not jeopardize the integrity of the investigation, but they said that revealing the affidavit would, quote, compromise the investigation. so, i guess i ask you, what does that tell us? does it tell us anything, or is that just the nature of affidavits in a very high-level investigation of this kind? >> well, the law is clearly on the side of the government, and it is typical when there is an ongoing criminal investigation, which the government represents is an active criminal and national security investigation, to seek to not give the targets and subjects of that investigation a road map so they can't obstruct justice. where i do think that the judge
may give some pushback is on the issue of addressing a footnote about whether it's possible to redact the affidavit, and is there some portion that could be released? the government says they considered that, and they didn't think that there was any portion that would really provide any information. it would be like swiss cheese once they finished protecting all of the witnesses in the case, but i could see that being an area where the judge has some questions. >> so, joyce, one of the things in this -- in the filing, it says that they're fine unsealing other materials, right? me, not a lawyer, not even playing one on tv, they don't want the affidavit to come out. they were fine, they want the warrant and the inventory. what else is there? what are the other documents that we could see if the court said "no" to the affidavit but fine to some other materials. >> the fight at this point is really about the affidavit. there's an application that the government writes, sort of a cover page on a search warrant request, but that's unlikely to be productive of any information
that's not already out. typically, it identifies the statutes that doj is investigating. we already know that here. >> right. >> so, this is about the affidavit, the material that a federal agent swore to. these affidavits are signed under penalty of perjury, and this is the government's case. it is an exhaustive version of the government's case in a situation like this where you have to make sure you have what prosecutors often call probable cause plus. it's not enough to just have probable cause. >> betsy woodruff swan, i guess i ask you, as this thing is -- this story's moved very quickly, obviously, over the course of the last week and you're monitoring it in a very close way. we talked about this in the last block. these republicans who basically have thrown in with the notion that, like, just -- release the affidavit, release the affidavit. sort of on -- believing that andrew weissmann is right, that the doj is going to resist it, and the court's going to stick with the doj on that, because the law is in their favor.
i just wonder if there's any nervousness among republicans that they've gone down a dark path with donald trump so far, not knowing what this investigation was going to lead to. is there any nervousness on people's part there, asking for something that, if it were actually revealed, could be politically devastating for their support of trump? >> this is a pretty standard tactic that republicans have used over the course of the entire trump era when it comes to drip, drip, drip revelations about the now former president's potential legal exposure and his whole host of legal challenges. this is kind of the go-to, and it's something that republican members have a lot of muscle memory, this approach of basically saying, well, we need more information. there's more documents that need to come out. once more documents come out, then we can talk about it. and in that sense, they're not wrong. this affidavit, without question, is an extremely interesting document. i think all of us would love to read this once it becomes public
or through one avenue or another. it's going to explain why the fbi, why the justice department, why the merrick garland himself believed that there was justification for this very dramatic step that the fbi took in executing a search warrant at mar-a-lago. that said, part of the reason that this particular messaging strategy is one that so many republicans clearly felt comfortable with is that the likelihood that the affidavit will become public any time soon, frankly, is almost microscopic. it would be really, really unusual for a judge to green light the release of this document. so, as far as delay tactics go, it's an effective temporary, short to midterm solution that republicans can use to not talk about the underlying fact, which is that we don't know the full story as to why doj believed they have probable cause to execute this search warrant. we do know that they persuaded a
judge that they had it and when they went to the president's residence, they found a whole host of materials that, according to the documents we've seen released, simply shouldn't have been there. >> tracy, you tweeted out your reaction when the doj resisted or opposed the unsealing of the affidavit. you tweeted, "the doj is opposing the release of the affidavit because the probable cause used to obtain it implicates highly classified materials. let that sink in for a second. i stand by what i wrote in 2017, that donald trump is a national security threat." please say more. >> that was a lot. so, you know, i think we have to look at this from a couple different perspectives. first of all, i don't believe that we will really ever see the affidavit, and partly, yes, it is because it provides that road map, but then we also have to remember that that fbi agent who swore under oath that the information in it was true and correct may have obtained it using highly classified methods,
you know, fisas, those kinds of things, and that's something that the public really can never see, so, yes, the affidavit, if it was redacted, would absolutely look like swiss cheese. part of the reason that i said that donald trump really was a national security threat was really for two different reasons. i think he has a very loose relationship or respect, i guess, to the classified community and to the intelligence community. we have to remember, in 2019, he tweeted a highly classified picture of an iranian military facility. and i also think that he is somebody who can really be bought, sold, and influenced by foreign factors, and that's why i'd really kind of honed in on that espionage act and this information potentially being to the detriment of the united states and to the advantage, really, of foreign countries. >> andrew, i want to come back to you and read a little bit from an op-ed, the former head
of homeland security under barack obama. he's talking about the declassification matter, which, at some level, i find their assertions, their arguments so laughable that i almost don't want to waste time on them but they are what they continue to say, kash patel and others, so let's read what jeh johnson says. "the defense by trump's team that trump issued standing orders were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them is nothing short of laughable. it's like saying that the speed limit on the new jersey turnpike is whatever speed the governor chooses to drive at any given moment." i think of it as the water to wine. if i carry water out of my kitchen, as soon as it goes into the family room, it becomes wine, makes me the pope or something, which is a horrible thought. how could it be that they think they get mileage out of this? because it does -- it beggars
belief that they think this would be an effective strategy, either political or legally. >> they have to be thinking about this only politically, and figuring out what they can say to their base that keeps people in line, because as joyce and i know, as former prosecutors, these evolving false defense stories are a prosecutor's dream. all of these are admissions that if there is a criminal case, they love presenting to the jury all sorts of crazy defenses that the defendant came up with, because you know what would be consistent? the truth. so, the fact that he had to keep changing stories and that each one is preposterous is something that, you know, in a court of law, won't play. and that's where i think the real issue here is that donald trump lives in a sort of fact-free environment, but that's not what happens in the justice department, and it's not
what happens in a court of law. so, all of these statements are going to be admissible, and i don't think are going to help him. >> i want to get to the threats on law enforcement, joyce, because you're here. i think it's good to start with you. is there any way in which -- you know, we've seen the things we talked about at the beginning of the block, we saw what happened in cincinnati last week. there's a lot of concern among everyone in federal law enforcement about the atmosphere that we're now in, and i will say that although there are a handful of republicans who are not going hard at law enforcement, man, if you watch right-wing television right now, it is some crazy, crazy stuff that's getting said out there. is part of the reason why, another reason why the doj -- i mean, they have a lot of good reasons to not release this affidavit, but if they were to release this affidavit, there might be further risk to fbi officials as part of that process? >> so, in the document that you have read from, where doj expresses its resistance to unsealing the affidavit, they talk more in terms of threats to witnesses, but they do drop a
very interesting footnote, where they talk about the ongoing risk to law enforcement, using some of these recent examples. they say, you know, not for nothing, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, and i think, john, this is really interesting. you played the clip at the top of the hour that shows that donald trump sent a message to merrick garland. we need to turn down the temperature. there's an easy way to do that if you're donald trump. you go out and you tell your folks, you tell your base, quit it. violence is never acceptable. we can't have this. let's make our arguments through words, not through violence. that's something he didn't do for 187 minutes on january 6th or even after that. it's something he hasn't done here, and that makes those comments that were made to merrick garland take on overtones of a threat, not of a legitimate offer to help, right? because trump needs no help here. he can simply go out and say, no violence against federal law enforcement. >> right. and let's be clear about this. betsy woodruff swan, this was one of the most kind of
jaw-dropping things over the weekend. you saw this story in "the new york times" that said that trump had essentially threw a cutout, had said to garland, supposedly, according to this story, i have no idea if any of this is remotely true, but he had said, i want to turn down the temperature. the country is out of control. and immediately, people smarter than me said, this is a threat, an implicit threat. this is trump saying, if you don't lay off me, i'm going to let the dogs of war run riot here in the country, and the more that you hear what's going on in right-wing media right now, where this thing, trump's offer to cool things down, is the main talking point happening on fox news and further right, that's all they talked about yesterday, donald trump is the savior, but, hey, if they don't back off, we can't be responsible for what might happen next. talk about, betsy, talk about the politics of this, and talk about the ways in which trump is playing not just a dangerous game here but a really insidious one by kind of cloaking a threat in an offer to help.
>> it's certainly no secret that the temperature in the country is extremely high. this isn't the first time that the president has made -- former president has made very, very incendiary remarks that were almost immediately followed by violence. this isn't just something that trump clearly is aware of. it's also something that's very much front of mind for the department of homeland security and the fbi. late last week, they shared a joint intelligence bulletin with their partners, saying that there were real concerns, not just about the current temperature, to use that helpful word, but also about the possible escalation of threats in the future. and in that joint intelligence bulletin, they specifically said that more law enforcement activity connected to the people who were associated with the execution of the search warrant at mar-a-lago, would likely result in a heightened threat
environment. obviously, that's not the fbi or dhs trying to justify backing down or pumping the brakes on their investigation. people who work in federal law enforcement know that there are risks that come with handling these types of criminal investigations. but it was a really clear and sobering statement of the fact that even as chaotic and disturbing as the activities and comments that we're seeing now are, as this investigation progresses, the dangerous and problematic activity of extremists is likely to become even worse. >> it's a -- i think it's a ransom note. that's what it is. nice fbi you got there, it would be a shame if something happened to it. or nice country you got there, be a shame if something happened to it. our panel is sticking with us. there is much more to get to on the mar-a-lago search after a quick break. . plus, former trump national security advisor john bolton said the idea that the
ex-president had some sort of standing order to declassify any document is pure, unadulterated fiction. he calls it a lie. he'll be our guest later in the hour. it's primary day somewhere, to be the in wyoming, alaska, where some big names including liz cheney, sarah palin, and lisa murkowski are all on the ballot. "deadline white house" continues after a quick break. "deadline ws after a quick break. once upon , at the magical everly estate, landscaper larry and his trusty crew... were delayed when the new kid totaled his truck. timber... fortunately, they were covered by progressive, so it was a happy ending... for almost everyone. my active psoriatic arthritis can slow me down. now, skyrizi helps me get going by treating my skin and joints. along with significantly clearer skin, skyrizi helps me move with less joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and fatigue. and skyrizi is just 4 doses a year after two starter doses. skyrizi attaches to and reduces a source of excess inflammation
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in a criminal investigation like this, they don't release it until they've figured out whether or not somebody's going to be charged or not, and if they're not charged, they don't release it so they do not unfairly tarnish the reputation of an innocent person. >> again, i rub my eyes. it's steve doocy again after a week last week where every day he went on the air and said something that a normal person would say defending the rule of law and law enforcement. again, today, comes out and does that, almost as crazy as laura ingraham saying what she said last night, and it does, i think, raise this question about, what's going on? is it really the case -- and i'll ask the question, joyce, you're right here. do you think it's the case that even at fox news, where, again, you still have tucker carlson, you still have sean hannity, a lot of people saying a lot of crazy, inflammatory stuff, but that in some quarters of fox news, that the temperature is now so hot that there are some people who are, like, i got to
get out of -- i can't be part of this anymore. is that what's happening? >> the big unanswered question here is what's in those 11 folders that the fbi took out of mar-a-lago. what kind of documents? how sensitive? we've seen indication that they're very sensitive. "the post" reported that they had some aspects of the nuclear program involved. there's a lot of indication in doj's writing that they have very serious national security concerns attached, and that might be something that ultimately, whether the president says he declassified it or not, the subject matter is so serious that his very cavalier handling of this is just a bridge too far. >> tracy, you're a former fbi agent, and i'm curious about what you -- how you react when you hear things said routinely by most of the members of one of the major american political parties, and by a whole bunch of people in the media who can -- who have millions and millions of viewers, that are on the
order of gestapo and attacking the fbi in the ways that the bureau's never been attacked before. how do you feel about that? what does it make you think? if you were still in the bureau, would you be terrified? i know you have a lot of friends who i'm sure are still in there. how are they reacting? >> it's pretty horrific. i don't think, at least in my lifetime, i've seen the fbi come under this attack. historically, it hasn't really been an attack that's been waged by a former president like this, and really the way that he's doing it is -- he has a strategy here, and the strategy he's using really is disinformation. i mean, you see him, yesterday, sort of throwing the fbi under the bus, saying they stole his passports. we know that wasn't the case. the time stamp indicated that wasn't the case. but people are basically believing what he is selling. he's intending to mislead people, and as a result, they're galvanizing online, and i truly
can't imagine what current fbi agents probably feel, and honestly, myself feels that way too. i mean, i'm out in the public. i'm a former fbi agent. i do look over my shoulder, and i think we took this job and we took these oaths, really, to defend america and to really sacrifice a lot for the american people, regardless of the party. i've served under two different administrations, and i think that's the part that's sort of, i think, difficult to grapple with. >> betsy, you've got the new piece that talks about the subpoena of eric herschmann, which goes to this kind of not just on this -- in one area but in a variety of legal fronts, the walls seem to be closing in on donald trump. the headline is, "justice department subpoenas trump white house lawyer eric herschmann," who we all became familiar with in his many appearances in videos that the 1/6 committee aired during its public hearings in june and july.
what information is herschmann likely to have that the federal grand jury wants? >> herschmann is an important person because he was in a significant number of the most crucial meetings that happened at the white house during the final weeks of the trump presidency. he was in a meeting where most of the top justice department officials threatened to resign because they were concerned about steps that then-president trump was considering as part of his effort to overturn the election. he was in what might have been the craziest meeting that's ever happened in the oval office of the white house, ever, when sidney powell, michael flynn, and the former overstock.com ceo urged then-president trump to use the military to seize voting machines. herschmann had firsthand knowledge of the way that conversation went. and, of course, as his testimony showed, he was in the white house and present at the ellipse rally on january 6th, closely seeing what played out over the course of that day.
so, he has detailed, firsthand, immediate, thorough knowledge of multiple parts of the effort that some of trump's supporters engaged in to try to reverse the election outcome. frankly, it would have been surprising if the justice department didn't try to get his testimony. he's not the first lawyer that they have called in, of course. as we mentioned earlier, pat cipollone and patrick philbin have also both been summoned by this grand jury related to the january 6th probe. but herschmann, without question, brings a layer of detail and insight that you would think the justice department, unsurprisingly, would be keenly interested in. >> andrew weissmann, all throughout this last week or so, i turned to you as one of the smartest people, raising what the questions are we should stay focused on. and you have been like a dog at a bone over the, why did donald trump have these documents? why were they there?
why these documents? why did he have them? that question is outstanding. i'm curious, as you sit here now, at the stage where we are in this investigation, what are the couple of questions that you're most -- that you think are beyond that one, that are most important and insistent? >> well, obviously, that's key for the part of the case that has to do with the search warrant, and eric herschmann, as well as pat cipollone and patrick philbin, are all people who would have relevant evidence on that. but then turning to the january 6th investigation, all of the questions and areas that betsy just talked about, in addition, there were withjohn eastman plot where he came up with this harebrained legal theory that he then admitted was not going to fly and that the supreme court would vote against him, probably 9-0. so, i think what i would want to
know from eric herschmann and, frankly, all of these lawyers, are direct conversations with donald trump, because unlike the january 6th committee, when this goes to trial, it is going to be useful to have people who can say, this is what i said. this is what this person said, and this is what donald trump said in response. so, that's sort of not a great answer to your question, other than you really do a painstaking description of each and every meeting that you were in with the former president, and you want to find out every single thing that he recalls was said, and that the president said in response. because that's how you build a case with the kind of evidence that you need in court. >> joyce, we have not much time, but i want to ask you this. all these legal fronts that trump is dealing with, the georgia case, the civil case in new york, the january 6th investigation, and now this new one related to documents at mar-a-lago, you know, george conway the other day said it's
now the case that the doj investigation on classified materials and mar-a-lago is the shortest distance between donald trump and an orange jumpsuit. is it your view that, with all the stuff that's going on, that this is now the center ring for trump, legally? that this is where his most acute and legal liability, criminal liability lies? >> so, with this caveat, that it's dangerous to prejudge an investigation, because we don't know what the evidence looks like. but i'll tell you why this case looks serious, and i think this is something andrew has talked about a lot. when this search first happened, many of us thought that this would be a search to retrieve documents. doj rarely prosecutes these sorts of cases about records. but they do when there's a plus factor. when somebody has destroyed records or tried to pass them on to a foreign country or done something else that compromises in a very real way the country's security. that's the big question. it's andrew's pressing question. it's mine as well. what did donald trump try to do
with these documents? >> well, if they were just trying to get the documents back, they got them back, they wouldn't be fighting to keep that affidavit sealed, i would think. seems like there's kind of an ongoing investigation here. we might have a lot more to learn. betsy woodruff swan, tracy walder, andrew weissmann and joyce vance, thank you. when we return, we have former national security advisor john bolton on the fallacy that donald trump had some sort of standing order to declassify any document that he took from the white house. assify any document that he took from the white hoe.us i brought in ensure max protein with 30 grams of protein. those who tried me felt more energy in just two weeks. uhh... here, i'll take that! yay!!! ensure max protein, with 30 grams of protein, 1 gram of sugar enter powered by protein challenge for a chance to win big!
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president trump as a sitting president is a unilateral authority for declassification. he can stand over a settle of documents and say, these are declassified, and that is done with definitive action, immediately. >> that was former engagement official kash patel repeating his now infamous and many would say patently ludicrous claim that donald trump had a standing order to automatically declassify any files that he moved from the oval office to the white house residence and hence his excuse that those files at mar-a-lago that the fbi seized were already declassified. but to career officials in the government and those that worked with the former president in the white house, this power and standing order seemed to be something beyond bogus. one of the people who's been saying that is john bolton, the former national security advisor to president trump, as well as a former u.s. ambassador to the united nations.
john bolton, thank you for being with us today. you've said in a bunch of places that you think it's obvious it's not just a lie but a desperate lie. i guess the first -- the place i want to start with you is on the question of, how you witnessed donald trump deal with classified materials, broadly, within the white house, and whether he was, as many now say, sort of a walking, talking national security threat at all times? >> well, i don't think he was a threat at all times, because the volume of highly sensitive information that he heard in four years is not reflected in what he divulged, i think, inappropriately. so, a lot of this was just reflective of the way things happened in the trump white house, living inside a pinball machine, depended on what he did at any given moment, but i don't think he cared about the classification system. i don't think he appreciated the sensitivity of this information,
and he didn't appreciate the sensitivity of how it was often acquired, the so-called sources and methods. so, this had been briefed to him before i arrived. it was repeated frequently. i think it simply had no impact on him whatever. >> there's a couple of different ways that people think about this, and people who are not friendly to the president, who think about what's happened here, and one of them is, you know, donald trump, master thief, criminal, running some kind of elaborate conspiracy to bring things out of the white house and keep them secret for potentially political or financial gain. there are other people whose attitude is, trump is chaotic, he's careless, he's not that smart. he just -- he took these things, almost by mistake, and now he's basically stamping his feet and saying, they're mine, i don't want to give them up. give me a sense of where you think the truth lies with respect to trump's intelligence, carelessness, and the degree to which he might have brought motive to bear on taking these documents out of the white house and keeping them for this long
at mar-a-lago. >> well, it's very hard to speculate on motive, other than that he liked cool things, he saw them and wanted to take them and he was able to take them and not just on classified information matters, on all kinds of things that crossed his desk. some days he liked to eat a lot of french fries. some days he took classified documents. he wanted them. why did he want them? because he could get them. >> right, and i just want to -- the thing you just said is kind of extraordinary. you're kind of, like, from the way you're characterizing the former president's mind is that, the difference between wanting a lot of french fries and wanting classified documents are basically the same thing in terms of the seriousness with which he takes those desires. is that what you're saying? >> well, i would go back to charles's analysis. i put it in my book deliberately. he once said to me and i think more broadly, he once saw the president as an 11-year-old, but
then he realized he was 10 years off. the president was a 1-year-old that, like 1-year-olds, everything is seen through the prism of, does this benefit me or not? so, i think that's it. if you attribute more to these complex conspiracy theories, i think you're overstating what you're dealing with. >> so, i want to remind you about an incident from 2019, which i'll read from nbc news here. an oval office incident from 2019 that illustrates trump's approach to state secrets, as an ex-intel official. this is you. "the president tweeted a picture of an iranian nuclear missile launch site that showed a failed icbm test launch everyone acknowledged was a highly classified picture taken from space. he tweeted it out, which showed what can happen when such a picture is able to be analyzed by foreign intelligence
services. he spent no time understanding what made something a secret and what we protected, a second official said." so, having had some firsthand experience with donald trump being promiscuous and careless with state secrets, what does that -- to what degree does that cast any kind of -- throw into any kind of perspective what we're seeing or might be seeing at mar-a-lago right now and in this case? >> yeah. well, to be clear, i was in poland, so i didn't witness that one firsthand, but i heard about it from a number of people, and it was reported very widely. i think what happened, in part, at the end of the administration, is since the president didn't acknowledge he had lost until, i don't know, maybe 24 hours, 48 hours, i'm sure the departure was chaotic. the way to do it in a coherent fashion, in a normal end-of-presidency transition, is that the packing and sorting of all these documents would have been done with people from the
white house counsel's office present, with people from a directorate of the national security council staff, the records, access, and information security management directorate that helps governmentwide with classification and security issues. and if that had been done, you know, mistakes could have been made, a document could have been included that shouldn't have been, some might have been withheld that could have been released. it's all a human process, but basically, that's the right way to do it. that's like asking donald trump to change 40 years of habits and do something in a kind of coherent, organized fashion. but there's a clear way to do it, and it could have been done that way. >> so, "the washington post" reported last week something that has alarmed people across the ideological spectrum, the notion that there are, some of these documents, that relate either top secret documents or other documents that were down at mar-a-lago, relate to somebody's nuclear program, either the united states nuclear program or another country's
nuclear program. i guess i want to start, because this is obviously such a high concern for a lot of people. first, let's just go to the very simplest thing, does it strike you as plausible or, rather, implausible that donald trump would have top secret documents down at mar-a-lago that pertain to nuclear weapons? >> it doesn't -- nothing would strike me as implausible that he might have grabbed at some point and put in a file somewhere. but i think it's important, whatever your view of this matter, not to hyperventilate about it. just because a piece of paper has the word "nuclear" on it, doesn't mean it's apocalyptic. these documents may be of the highest level of sensitivity, or they may not. we just don't know. so, we could speculate all night here. i'd prefer that the justice department move as rapidly as possible, as they can, through this in order that as much as can be made and would be made
public is done as quickly as we can, because otherwise, the department is left out there twisting in the wind, to use a watergate phrase, and it doesn't have adequate defenses against the political onslaught of donald trump. >> there's been reporting over the course of the time when trump was in office and afterwards that he had a special fascination with nuclear weapons. did you ever experience that in your interactions with him? >> if a president doesn't have a special fascination with nuclear weapons, then he's not competent to be there. this is the single most important issue that a president needs to be ready to decide. so, any president who wasn't interested, deeply, in nuclear weapons, i would be worried about. >> well, so, are you saying that -- again, i know it's a -- i don't want to play the word game here. i mean, there are presidents who are interested in the sense that there's a lot on the line, it's a hugely important issue and they're interested in some academic or intellectual way or policy way.
others have suggested that trump was kind of interested in them because they were big things that could go boom, and some of the reporting around it is kind of gets down to that base. how did donald trump talk about nuclear weapons in your presence? >> well, you know, i'm not a shrink, i'm not into shrink talk. i don't think he folked on them enough, frankly. i remember as we were flying to helsinki for his famous summit with putin, i know from my own conversing with putin, he loves talking about arms control. the new start treaty is still up for potential renegotiation. i wanted to try and brief trump on what putin might raise and some of the issues, and wasn't terribly successful, because we were watching the fifa world championships on the television set in his -- on air force one. fortunately, it didn't come up much in the meeting with putin, but that's -- that's a case where i wish he had had -- had
paid a little more attention to nuclear weapons. >> i mean, you've said two things here that -- maybe they're not in conflict, but they strike me as being slightly in conflict. one is, don't hyperventilate, trump is capable of anything, there's nothing he's not capable of, anything's on the table. and the other is sort of this suggestion that he's kind of not, you know, hard to get his attention on these kind of questions related to nuclear weapons. for instance, you were just describing. i guess a basic question that a lot of normal people want to ask is, is trump the kind of person, in your judgment, who would -- could concoct a relatively elaborate plan to steal documents from the white house related to particular nuclear secrets, maybe of some other countries, the israeli nuclear program, not that one specifically, but of some other country, for instance, and then try to monetize that on the global stays? this is a world that you know very well, that there are -- there is a black market for that kind of information. is that the kind of thing, knowing donald trump and seeing
him operate, that you think, yeah, that's something donald trump might do. or do you think, that's just really beyond the ken of this man. he's not that sophisticated, not that smart, he would never be able to pull that off. >> i don't think he's capable of holding an attention span that long. >> that's -- so, the notion of something even that simple, you think, is beyond him? that this -- it strikes you as more like his accumulation of these documents is more a childlike desire to have stuff as opposed to an engineered plan to try to monetize, capitalize, either politically or monetarily, on these secrets? that's what you're saying, i think. >> well, you know, look, i have to say, i'm a lawyer. i have to confess, i want to see the documents. if i could see the documents, i could give you an answer to that question. am i as capable as anybody else you have had on here of speculating what those documents may say? sure. but it's to no purpose whatever. >> what's your concern level
right now, given what we know about the -- just that the classification level of these documents? are you concerned, as some people are, just that there's an imminent threat to national security, that was what drove garland to do this? does that worry you, knowing how dangerous -- that is, knowing what some of those documents could pertain to, given their classification level? >> look, the documents that were marked top secret, sci material, could be very damaging. or they could have been leaked to "the new york times" two years ago. in other words, are those documents a current problem today? we don't know. >> john bolton, the man who is not at this moment made for cable news and its wild tendencies toward speculation. a lawyer in the true sense. a man who at least tried to keep it real for us. so, thank you for spending this time with us. when we return, we'll get a live report from wyoming where voters are going to the polls and liz cheney's political future hangs in the balance. chel future hangs in the balance.
i'm actually seen palin's past performance and i'm not impressed. i know a lot of people have problems with the way she supposedly quit and went away. there were some legal problem there is. she just wasn't really good for alaska. >> that's nbc's ali vitale talking with a voter in alaska ahead of the primary elections that are taking place today. voters deciding whether the
former governor republican vice presidential nominee and one-time contestant as a rapping bear on "the masked singer", sarah palin will replace don young. they'll also determine where lisa murkowski will make it through after voting to convict. we have been talking about it a lot over the last week and especially today, liz cheney fighting to hang on to her seat in that gop primary. let's bring in the man, the myth, the legend. he was here yesterday and he's back. vaughn hilliard in wilson, wyoming. where's wilson, wyoming? >> reporter: hey, my friend. we're about 5 miles from jackson. so better than we're saying in jackson and hanging here all weekend. it's technically the home of liz cheney. jackson's her backyard. it's a polling location where she needs a lot of democrats to come. we talked to a few that changed their party to republican to
vote for her. when you're looking at the numbers, 30,000 registered democrats entering today, and there are about 216 registered republicans. so even if all the democrats came here today and changed the registration, it's quite an uphill battle for liz cheney tonight. >> thank you for saying the words that would cause them to pull up a full screen graphic i was going to call for myself. these registration numbers are interesting. seems like what's happened here -- not on a major level, but there's been a surge of interest in the republican primary, and i think what you were telling us yesterday is that there's an awful lot of just not people who are that excited about liz cheney's opponent, harry hagman, but that are just there because they want to register a protest vote. they do not like liz cheney, and that's been the uphill struggle all along. it's not just donald trump that doesn't like here. republicans agree with donald trump. they don't like her either.
>> right. and i think that's where we're going to be looking at the margin of victory. she's going gain ground with democrats who are unaffiliated, changed their registration. but we have to look at republican voters as a voting bloc in this country. we track it over the last five months but today is the today, as crazy as it may sound, we can look back in american history, 2022, if there was one republican who did everything she could the take it to donald trump, it was liz cheney. she's on the brink of losing while at the same time, sarah palin, back in 2008, looking to take the mantel from her father, dick cheney. >> unrecognizable. vaughn, thank you for coming on. we'll see you tomorrow. bring back those elk on thelers uh-uh had yesterday.
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it's a famous thing to say that no one expects the spanish inquestion transition. there's a political primary around the country. three hours from now, the premier also, in addition to primary coverage, we have the network's newest primetime show. my incredibly good friend, dear former colleague at the circus on showtime, now back in the big chair. alec wagner. watch her show "alex wagner