The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/31/17 Comey’s confirmation
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: May 31, 2017
Guest: Jonathan Landay, Adam Entous
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST : That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now with Ari Melber, in for Rachel.
Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Good evening. Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: You bet.
MELBER: Thanks to you at home for joining this hour. Rachel is still
under the weather but she will be back soon.
And we have breaking news right now for you – the latest development on
the president and Russia. This has to do with something you may remember
those two Russian diplomatic compounds in the U.S., one on the eastern
shore of Maryland, the other on Long Island in New York. Now, late last
year, it was late December, the Obama administration shut those two
properties down. It was part of their formal punishment of the Russian
government for interfering in our election.
Along with sanctions on certain Russian intel agencies and companies and
individuals, President Obama shut down those compounds saying they believe
the Russians were also using them for intelligence purposes. That all
happened on December 29th. The compounds have been closed ever since, but
tonight we can tell you, it appears the Trump administration may give those
compounds here in the United States back to the Russians. “The Washington
Post” reporting at this hour, the White House is, quote, moving towards
handing back to Russia those two diplomatic compounds, quote, any
concessions to Moscow could prove controversial while the administration
and former Trump campaign officials are under congressional and special
counsel investigation for alleged ties to Russia.
Now, this explosive story breaking late this evening and what we`re going
to do here is a little later in the show, we`re going to talk to one of the
reporters who literally just broke this story that should be interesting to
say the least. But we begin tonight with a different corner of this Trump
Russia inquiry. We now know that the FBI inquiry into Russian interference
in the U.S. election was, of course, launched all the way back in last
July. It was only formally confirmed this march that is when FBI Director
Jim Comey determined that the public interest justified disclosing this
investigation. That`s a process that basically required him to clear that
announcement with the DOJ.
Now, Comey said Trump`s campaign was part of the inquiry and in that
dramatic testimony to Congress, he intoned, and now, we`re going to close
our mouths and do our work. Well, he only opened his mouth before Congress
one more time after that. It was that hearing which contradicted President
Trump`s baseless claims about Obama wiretapping him. Comey fired a week
Now, no one really knew when Comey would open his mouth again. He did
telegraph, of course, that he was willing to testify after that firing and
we do know Congress wanted it. But with this new special counsel working
the Russia case, no one could really say whether that testimony would be
authorized. Well no one could say that until today, because we can report
special counsel Robert Mueller has now cleared call me to testify publicly
before the Senate, and it could come as early as next week.
Now, let`s be clear, a lot of people talk about the Russia issue. You can
divide the talkers into three groups I think. The people who are doing the
investigation, they know a ton, but rarely open their mouths. Then there
are the people following the investigation, which range from reporters who
are holding different pieces of the puzzle to regular citizens across this
whole country sifting through what they`ve heard, tracking this unfolding
mystery and sometimes developing their own theories like a real-life
national version of law and order or serial.
And then there`s another group, there is a tiny group of people implicated
in the Russia case, people who had contact with Russian officials, were
they users or did they get used? Or the people running websites, which
found their story spread around by those – those bots, those Russian web
bots. So, were those website owners colluding online or did they just get
And then, of course, when you talk about people implicated, there is the
Clinton campaign itself, which was the target of so much hacking and
disinformation that if the FBI ultimately determines those things were
crimes, well, then the Clinton campaign was the legal victim.
So, it is kind of a remarkable stroke of news timing that we can tell you
on this same day the news came out that Jim Comey really, really will
testify under oath and what might be the most watched, debated and parsed
events since election night that on this same day, we heard new and quite
blunt reaction from that potential legal victim of any crimes that could
have occurred in election we heard from Hillary Clinton.
And while Clinton has spoken a few times since the election, she`s always
been very measured in her depiction of the Russia case. Now, that may be
from her legal training. She knows better than many that an investigation
often has many more chapters to come. Could be her political training
given the lectures that losing candidates often get about focusing on
accepting their own responsibility.
But today, she went further than she has before in sharing her own theory
of the case. When you`ll notice, she does not accuse Donald Trump of
collusion. She hasn`t played prosecutor, but she does dabble in the
analysis of an investigator and what she did here, what we`re going to play
for you, she makes the circumstantial case that the nature, the targeting,
and the timing of the election hacks suggests some American assistance,
that these were not exclusively foreign efforts and she combines that
assessment with a question that investigators always ask as they say in
Latin, cui bono, who benefits?
And here is Hillary Clinton`s in-depth depiction. We`re going to play it
for you in just about its entirety.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it`s fair to
ask, how did that actually influence the campaign and how did they know
what messages to deliver? Who told – who told them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CLINTON: Who were they coordinating with or colluding with? They were
conveying this weaponized information and the content of it and they were
running, you know, there`s all these stories about you know guys over in
Macedonia who are running these fake news sites and, you know, I`ve seen
them now and you sit there and it looks like a you know sort of low-level
UNIDENIFIED MALE: Or fake news paper, like a Denver Guardian.
CLINTON: Like a fake newspaper.
And so, the Russians, in my opinion and based on the intel and counter-
intel people I`ve talked to, could not have known how best to weaponize
that information unless they had been guided and here`s –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guided by Americans?
CLINTON: Guided by American and guided by people who had, you know,
polling and data information.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is that?
CLINTON: Now, let me just finish because this is the second and third
step. So, we know that they did that. We understand it. Best example –
so within one hour, one hour of the “Access Hollywood” tapes being leaked,
within one hour, the Russians, say WikiLeaks, same thing, dumped the John
Now, if you`ve ever read the John Podesta emails, they are anodyne to
boredom. Within one hour, they dumped them, and then they began to
weaponize them, and they began to have some of their allies within the
Internet world like Info Wars, take out pieces and begin to say the most
outrageous, outlandish, absurd lies you can imagine.
And so, they had to be ready for that and they had to have a plan for that
and they had to be given the go-ahead, OK, this could be the end of the
Trump campaign, dump it now, and then let`s do everything we can to
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who do you think directed it?
CLINTON: We`re getting more information about all of the contacts between
Trump campaign officials and Trump associates with Russians before during
and after the election. So, I hope that we`ll get enough information to be
able to answer that question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you`re leaning Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
CLINTON: Yes, I`m leaning Trump. I think – I think it`s pretty hard not
to. I think that that the marriage of the domestic fake news operations,
the domestic RNC, Republican allied data, you know, combined with the very
effective capabilities that the Russians brought.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Leaning Trump, meaning team Trump, which is what makes the other
news tonight so interesting. Subpoenas of Donald Trump`s innermost circle,
including one pre-campaign official. The House Intelligence Committee has
issued a total of seven subpoenas tonight and two are to Donald Trump`s
longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen and his law firm.
Now, Cohen`s played many roles for Trump over the years a spokesman, a vice
president of Trump`s company, even a kind of a fixer.
And back in February, before the FBI inquiry into Trump`s campaign was even
confirmed, Cohen was in the news for being in the center of an apparently
bizarre attempt to deliver a potential peace plan for Russia and the
Ukraine to White House, to the White House – a peace plan that involved
lifting all sanctions on Russia, a hot topic.
Now, just last night, Michael Cohen refused to comply with the request for
information from the House and Senate Intel Committees, but he said if he
were subpoenaed, he`d be happy to testify. Whether his willingness to
comply with the subpoena would extend to document production, which is you
may recall as a whole big issue with Mike Flynn – well, that remains
unclear, as is the question about his communications with Trump and whether
they might all be protected by a broad reading of attorney-client
I also want to tell you that among those knew seven subpoenas tonight, two
go to the national security adviser, the former national security adviser
Mike Flynn, as well as his consulting firm.
And joining me now is Jonathan Landay, national security correspondent for
Great to see you during these busy times.
From your reporting, what are these subpoenas looking for?
JONATHAN LANDAY, REUTERS, DC NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: We`re not
quite sure it`s for documents for anything, for appearances apparently they
want to hear from these gentlemen one of the curious things that happened
is that the committee put out a bipartisan statement announcing the
subpoenas to both General Flynn and Mr. Cohen and their respected firms.
What it didn`t mention was the fact that the Committee Chairman Devin Nunes
who in April recused himself from leading the investigation apparently on
his own, without telling the Democrats, Democrat members of the committee,
issued three other subpoenas. These were subpoenas to the National
Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA.
And what they were asking for according to sources we talked to are any
regarding requests from of President Obama`s former national security
adviser Susan Rice, his former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, and former
CIA Director John Brennan to unmask the names of Trump associates, campaign
associates that were inadvertently picked up in foreign intelligence
monitoring operations. So, he goes it apparently – Devin Nunes goes and
does this, although he publicly recused himself from the investigation, and
nowhere in the committee`s official announcement of these subpoenas do
these three subpoenas are mentioned.
MELBER: Would they normally need to subpoena something like that? Or
couldn`t they get that through the normal oversight function?
LANDAY: Well, my understanding is that they would normally contact these
three agencies and request this or have discussions with them before ever
issuing any kind of subpoena, any kind of legal document requiring them to
turn over this information. I`m not sure that those discussions ever
actually took place and committee aides are saying that they there were no
consultations with the Democrats about this before Chairman Nunes issued
MELBER: Right, and this goes all the way back to the very different lines
of focus from the different political parties here. People remember that
from watching the hearings where Republicans seemed obsessed with what
you`re calling the unmasking, the question about leaks and all those
assorted things, and the Democrats were focused much more on what you might
call the original or underlying issue, which is what did Russia do, did
they have help and are we going to get to the bottom of that?
On that point with Michael Cohen, I wonder if you could speak to the his
role here in the Trump Corporation, because he obviously as a lawyer said
hey I`m not going to jump to do this but I will do it under subpoena. But
he`s going to have presumably a pretty legitimate way to protect most of
his consultations with Trump, pre and during the presidency, right?
LANDAY: Well, we`ll have to wait and see because I think during – pre-
presidency, I`m not sure that you could make the legal argument that any of
those communications are protected by executive privilege. President Trump
was not the president during that period.
MELBER: Right, I only mean attorney-client privilege.
LANDAY: That`s possible. We`ll have to wait and see. But certainly, I`m
not sure that the discussions that he reportedly had with Ukrainian
oligarch and others about setting up this back-channel and to orchestrate a
Ukraine – a settlement of the Ukrainian war in return for the lifting of
U.S. sanctions, I`m not sure that that would be considered attorney-client
MELBER: Right, and certainly not his dealings that happened outside of
private conversations with his client, Donald Trump.
When you look at what you`re hearing from the committee, is there more
attention on the Trump Organization and following the money and those type
of issues or should that not yet be inferred from Cohen`s subpoena because
again as we`ve as we`ve reported he played so many roles, it`s hard to know
exactly what he`s being fingered for?
LANDAY: Exactly, and it`s not apparent to me and my reporting exactly what
it is that the committee is looking for beyond this issue of whether or not
he was involved in this potential deal to have the sanctions against Russia
lifted in return for something.
MELBER: While I have you, on Jim Comey`s testimony, do you have any view
of what it means that Mueller has cleared him a lot of folks reacting to
that it means I think we do get a Jim Comey hearing for sure? Do you have
a view of it?
LANDAY: Well, I think that it`s obvious that Mr. Comey has something to
say. We`ve seen reports that he kept, you know, he made memos – he kept
memos about his own conversations with President Trump in which the
president – he writes that reportedly the President Trump pushed him to
try and shut down – pushed him to shut down the investigation into Michael
Flynn and that would be not Michael Flynn`s apparent failure to report
receiving money from both – from Russian and Turkish entities.
And I think we`re going to probably hear more about that when he testifies.
MELBER: Jonathan Landay, national security correspondent for “Reuters” –
thank you for your time tonight.
LANDAY: My pleasure.
MELBER: We have much more to come tonight, including how significant it is
as I mentioned that Robert Mueller is clearing the way for FBI Director
James Comey to testify, as well as some other very interesting things
Hillary Clinton said about the future of the Democratic Party.
Stay with us.
MELBER: Criminal investigators have three clear categories for people who
were touched in some way by an open inquiry – witness, subject and target.
FBI Director Jim Comey was the top investigator in the federal government
until three weeks ago when he was addressing FBI employees in L.A. and
noticed on the TV screens in the very back of the room that there was news
he`d been fired. Now, he reportedly laughed, thinking it was some kind of
prank. It was not.
The president had sent his longtime bodyguard now the director of Oval
Office operations to hand-deliver a letter to Jim Comey`s Washington office
announcing the termination. Now, initial report said this was a shock to
the FBI from Comey on down, as well as some members of Congress when the
president called a few of them about the decision.
But if Jim Comey was shocked, he was not unprepared, because we soon
learned that he had been keeping meticulous notes about his interactions
with the president, some of which reportedly disturbed him, including
alleged efforts by president Trump to impede on aspects of the Russia
probe. Now, if you think about those three categories again, the memos
actually raised a pretty fundamental question. Was Jim Comey not only an
investigator overseeing the FBI`s approach to those potential subjects and
targets? Was Jim Comey also a witness? Did he see or hear things in the
White House or around President Trump that might in his view form the basis
of potential crimes like tampering with evidence or tampering with
witnesses or, yes, even obstruction of justice?
And if he did see those things, can he even talk about it? That is a
dynamic that makes today`s Comey news so intriguing. NBC reporting a
special counsel Mueller has cleared Jim Comey to testify before the Senate
next week. Several sources expect that testimony could include Comey
dealings with Trump. After all, with or without a special counsel, Jim
Comey would not be able to testify about what`s happening inside the Russia
inquiry or about FBI methods or potential targets. The things you can
testify about are outside that investigative box, things like FBI policy or
its funding or nonclassified dealings with the executive branch or yes the
head of the executive branch.
So, does Jim Comey see himself as a witness? Only time will tell, but he
is certainly qualified to answer the questions about his dealings with the
Joining me now is a reporter who`s been on this story for some time, NBC
national security reporter Ken Dilanian.
And I begin with the question, maybe the hard question if you can`t fully
answer it. But is it possible to Jim Comey sees himself here as a witness?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: I think it`s pretty
clear that he does, Ari, which it probably explains why he wrote all those
memos. Recall that sources close to Comey have told NBC News that he
memorialized nearly every interaction he had with President Trump, both
phone calls and meetings, and they have described, you know, his growing
sense of discomfort as Trump made a series of inappropriate requests.
And some of these stories have leaked. We first heard about the dinner
where Trump asked Comey to pledge his loyalty, this is according to Comey`s
account, of course. People close to Comey. And Comey replied that he
could not pledge the loyalty, but he could only pledge honesty.
And then we learned about this Oval Office meeting a few weeks later, where
Trump allegedly asked Comey to end the Flynn investigation. Flynn had
resigned at that point, and it seems to be a message of, you know, can`t
you move along with this thing? Comey view that as inappropriate.
So, you know, and what was interesting about how this testimony came to
pass as you said is that Mueller, Robert Mueller, special counsel, has
cleared Comey to talk about some of the stuff. But what we don`t know is
whether there are anything whether there`s anything that`s off-limits. Is
there anything the Comey knows that Mueller has said I`d rather you not
talk about that, Ari?
MELBER: Well, and to that point, is there anything that Jim Comey knows
that is really more of an issue for Congress than the DOJ when under a
bipartisan precedent the DOJ doesn`t tend to focus on a criminal activity
by a president? So, to some degree, is that a weird kind of very important
loophole where Jim Comey is potentially more likely to talk about Trump
stuff than lower level targets, potential targets of any inquiry?
DILANIAN: That`s right. It`s a really interesting question whether
Mueller, Robert Mueller, is investigating Donald Trump for obstruction of
justice. We don`t know the answer to that. If he is, it would seem like
Jim Comey is an important fact witness and there may be some things that
Mueller would rather he not say, because, you know, as a prosecutor, you
don`t want the other witnesses in the potential defense to know what the –
what the – you know, prosecuting witness the story is, right?
So, that – so that certainly is a factor, Ari.
MELBER: I want to get really lawyerly with you, so I apologize to you and
the viewers. But the other thing I want to get into is, what matters a lot
is the state of mind and anything relating to tampering or obstruction that
involves the president is going to go to his state of mind.
And as you know, ignorance can be a defense. Confusion can be a defense.
In other words, a lot of things that might be bad, you might rather the
president wasn`t completely confused about how the FBI works, can be a
defense that goes against what you would really need as you know an
obstruction, which is something corrupt an evil state of mind and an
attempt to actually consciously intercede.
Given your knowledge of Jim Comey and these issues, do you expect him to
give any ground because he is going to be asked by people not only what
happened you know what was the food on the table to dinner, how long was
the dinner, not just what happened, he`s going to be asked what do you
think the president was trying to do? What was his mental goal?
DILANIAN: Right, and I think that`s a really interesting question. And
here`s another question that Comey will be asked that goes to that issue –
he will be asked, why, sir, didn`t you resign immediately? If you thought
this was inappropriate –
DILANIAN: If you thought this was obstruction of justice, why didn`t you
resign and then report it to the attorney general? And what I`m being told
by sources close to Comey is the answer is, he thought it was inappropriate
some of the things President Trump was asking of him and saying to him, he
was disturbed by it, but he also thought it was manageable. He believed
that he could continue as an independent FBI director and shield the FBI
from some of these inappropriate requests, but he also of course
memorialized it in these written records, you know, for in case this day
would come to pass, and now it has.
MELBER: You used that word manageable. Anyone who followed the 2016
election will remember Jim Comey seemed to think other issues were
manageable if he could just talk about them and he could just articulate
them, and I think history proved it wasn`t as manageable as his initial
DILANIAN: That`s right. It`s a really interesting question. It speaks to
what some people see as hubris in Jim Comey, but it also – it also speaks
his record as an honorable public servant who thought he could do the right
thing and, you know, was trying to protect the FBI from what he thought was
improper interference, at least according to his allies.
MELBER: Very interesting and appreciate your reporting and insights as
always, NBC national security reporter Ken Dilanian.
DILANIAN: Great to be with you, Ari. Thanks.
MELBER: Thank you.
Still ahead, the breaking news that the U.S. may be considering rescinding
one of the key U.S. -based sanctions that President Obama put in place to
punish Russia for the story we`ve been talking about – the meddling in
U.S. elections. We have that report for you, next.
MELBE: So, this is a beautiful home in Centerville, Maryland. It has
thick flavors, oriental carpets, crystal chandeliers, a pool, and, of
course, a tennis court. But there`s also a huge staircase, and really nice
view of the river. And it was bought back in 1972 by the Soviet Union. It
was a kind of a vacation home for their diplomats who are working in the
They also bought a similar property on Long Island, too, 14 acres in Oyster
Bay, for those Russian diplomats to stay on holiday. And those properties
have been in Russia`s hands ever since.
But late last year, about a month after the presidential election, the
Obama administration took them back and they kicked out those Russians
staying in those fancy homes and sent them back to Russia all as a very
public punishment for Russia`s meddling in the presidential election. The
Obama administration saying those properties we`re not only being used as
vacation homes, which is a fun part of this, but ultimately, according to
the United States, a side part of it, because the Obama administration went
to the lengths to publicly state that they were, quote, for Russian
personnel for intelligence-related purposes, which is obviously a big deal.
The Obama administration gave them only 24 hours to pack their things and
get out. In fact, they physically blocked anyone from Russia from entering
those houses. That`s how serious this was at the time.
But now, tonight, we can report as I mentioned at the top of the show, the
Russians may actually be getting another chance at getting those houses in
the United States back. “The Washington Post” reporting tonight the Trump
administration, quote, moving towards handing back to Russia those two
compounds and for that, the U.S. wants something in return.
Quote: Early last month, the Trump administration told the Russians it
would consider turning the properties back over to them if Moscow would
lift its freeze and construction of a new U.S. consulate on a certain
parcel of land in St. Petersburg. Now, these compounds that the Obama
administration seized from Russia late last year, they took them off the
table. They said at the time there was no intention as a matter of U.S.
policy of giving them back to Russia. That`s what made it a real
punishment for messing with the election.
And now, not that long after all that went down, the Trump administration
appears as a negotiating tactic at the very least to be putting them back
on the table, a sort of diplomatic poker match between the Trump
administration and Russia.
Joining us now, “The Washington Post” national security correspondent Adam
Entous, who along with his colleague Karen DeYoung, broke this story
What else can you tell us at this hour?
ADAM ENTOUS, WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER (via telephone):
Well, I think what`s really important here is to kind of understand the
context, right, which is that you know these sanctions were imposed at the
end of December by the Obama administration to punish the Russians for
their intervention in the – in the presidential election, and here we are
six months later, and the Trump White House is negotiating the return of
those facilities allowing the Russian diplomats and intelligence officers
who had access to them until December, until the end of December, to get
back in there and have them back, and they`re no longer insisting that any
change in the status of those facilities be linked to the U.S. demand
request to get access to it land in St. Petersburg for a new consulate.
So, you know, obviously, this is would be seen in Moscow as a as a positive
gesture if the Trump White House decides to go through with it.
MELBER: Any effort by the Trump administration according to your reporting
to gain assurances or concessions regarding the underlying intel issue, the
meddling which was the whole reason there was this punishment?
ENTOUS: Well, there is – there is one thing that they`re looking at the
Trump White House and that is basically allowing law enforcement officials,
i.e., the FBI, to gain access to these facilities in future. In other
words not treating them as though they`re off-limits to the FBI like the
embassy would be, for example.
MELBER: So, they might not have – they might not have the same strength
of sort of a diplomatic bubble.
ENTOUS: Exactly. So, in other words, you know, if the U.S. were to get
intelligence suggesting that these facilities are once again being equipped
with sensitive eavesdropping, signals intelligence collection, you know,
equipment, to turn it into a listening post, that they could potentially
move in. But that`s something frankly that the Russians might object to
and frankly I`d be surprised if they didn`t object to that, in which case
in the balls back in the Trump White House`s court to decide how to
MELBER: Adam, do you have any sense of why this information is coming out?
We have definitely charted some other stories including with you where it
was clear there were signs that some of the people releasing information
we`re doing so because they objected to aspects of the Trump
administration`s approach to foreign policy and other decisions. Can you
shed any light on that on this story?
ENTOUS: Yes, I mean, I think the timing in this case is more timed with
Lavrov`s visit to the White House a couple weeks back. So, you know, the
discussions kind of picked up last month and span up again, you know, this
month into this question, because the Russians were making this a priority.
And so, I mean, like you said, I mean, certainly people that talk about
these things to us and to other news organizations sometimes they`re doing
so because they`re not happy with what they`re seeing being done, and I
certainly cannot rule that out in this case.
And in fact, you know, I think you know a lot of folks who were certainly
in the Obama administration and people who you know are involved in dealing
with Russia and see Russia as an adversary might see a move to let the
Russians regain entry to these facilities as a – as a decision that would
seem to reduce, you know, pressure on Russia –
MELBER: Any sense, Adam, any sense –
ENTOUS: – that pressure should be flat or maybe increasing.
MELBER: Any sense of whether this is just the beginning and they might
also move to weaken the sanctions on, for example, 35 Russian operatives
who were kicked out?
ENTOUS: So far, we haven`t we haven`t received any information on that to
suggest that that`s happening. You know, keep in mind that you know you
know that there was it, for example, in former national security adviser
Flynn`s discussions with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, back in the end
of December, around the same time these sanctions were imposed, you know,
Flynn you know who later was fired for basically mischaracterizing in those
communications, according to the officials we spoke to, Flynn old Kislyak
that if the Russians did not retaliate to the Obama administration
sanctions, that the incoming Trump White House would revisit the issue once
they took office.
So, you know, I think that`s a something to keep in mind when we consider
that the Trump administration now is revisiting at least the sanctions with
regard to the closing of these two facilities.
MELBER: You put it so calmly. Yes, we should keep in mind that the
problematic thing may be the very thing that`s happening now here under our
Adam Entous, national security reporter for “The Washington Post” – thank
you as always for sharing some of your reporting.
ENTOUS: Pleasure. Thank you very much.
MELBER: Late word tonight out of the White House on one of the biggest
points of contention for the Trump administration since the election.
That`s straight ahead.
MELBER: A programming note, we typically do not spend our days just
waiting around for President Trump to hit send on his next tweet. Rachel
prefers to follow what they do not, what they tweet. But this one is a
Just moments ago, there is a new tweet about an actual thing. I will be
announcing my decision on Paris accord Thursday at 3:00 p.m., writes the
president. The White House Rose Garden. Make America great again.
President Trump posting this just moments ago so that tomorrow afternoon
there in an official Rose Garden ceremony, he will tell us what he`s going
to do whether or not the U.S. will pull out of the international climate
change agreement that is known around the world as the Paris accord. So,
it`s widely considered one of the crowning diplomatic and environmental
achievements of President Obama, basically the entire world was able to get
on board with a plan to collectively lower greenhouse gas emissions.
As the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump railed against the
Paris accord. He said he would cancel it, but then since he`s taken office
there has been some pushback to that promise, including from people within
the White House. Senior aides and Rick Perry reportedly being against it
and hundreds of outside companies, including even Exxon, which urged the
president to at least try staying in the Paris accord so that the U.S.
would have a seat at the table when it comes to those all-important long-
range climate change talks.
Now, we have been getting some diverging reports throughout the day about
what exactly President Trump will decide to do. Some White House sources
of steady he actually plans to leave this accord and that the language
around it is all that`s left to be worked out.
It should also be noted that a president Trump did agree to pull out of the
Paris accord, the United States would have very little company. Every
other country in the world has signed this agreement to lower greenhouse
gases every country except two, Nicaragua and Syria. It might be easy to
put America first on that list, but it is a short list indeed.
The president will make this announcement tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. and we will
be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: It`s what a classic authoritarian does. It`s not just about
influencing your institutions, your values. They want to influence your
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was how Hillary Clinton concluded her remarks at that
California tech conference today, where she certainly made some news in her
views of the Russia inquiry. We played some of that at the top of the
But Clinton also went well beyond Russia and the FBI. Here, for example,
is the full context of her warning about authoritarianism. She was pushing
back on a question about Twitter`s impact on civil discourse and basically
urging her audience to keep their eye on the ball.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: You can`t let Trump and his allies be a diversion. They are a
threat and they have been effective up until now.
So, Twitter is a perfect example. You`re going to drive up the numbers.
You got more people chasing rabbits down rabbit holes. You`ve got all
kinds of stuff happening. Why? To divert attention.
It`s like covfefe, trending worldwide, maybe for a minute you`ll forget the
latest accusations about them conspiring with Russia or their trillion-
dollar mathematical mistake in their budget, or depriving 23 million people
of health care.
You know, it`s the circus, right? It`s what a classic authoritarian does.
It`s not just about influencing your institutions, your values. They want
to influence your reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Your reality. That was a big theme for Clinton today that in a
world of political propaganda and viral lies where the beneficiaries of
fake news go around accusing the real news of being fake news, she argued
that reality itself is under siege.
Hillary Clinton did not win the Electoral College, but today she reiterated
that she won more votes and that she wants to work with her supporters not
only to press disagreements with the Trump White House, but to expose how
disagreements about reality and the truth itself, she argues, are corroding
Joining me now, I`m very happy to say, is Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief
foreign correspondent the host of MSNBC`s “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS” and a
longtime reporter and chronicler of the Clintons.
Your impression of what we heard today and how it differed if at all from
past Hillary Clinton statements?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, she
first of all really drilled down on the fake news, the role of Info Wars,
and said that it was very clear to her that there were Americans directing
and colluding, conspiring really with the Russian hackers with Guccifer,
with the others who were involved in the hacking in the dropping of
WikiLeaks only an hour after the “Access Hollywood” tape was disclosed and
saying that they were doing so with such political sophistication. She was
basically pointing to the Trump campaign, saying that the dots are now
being connected in the investigation.
She mentioned – she mentioned Jared Kushner. She mentioned Bannon and
Kellyanne Conway in the context of the fact that the Mercers, the big
fundraisers who contribute to the campaign and had an owned Cambridge
Analytics, had said, you know, to Trump, bring on Bannon from “Breitbart”,
bring on Kellyanne Conway who were already on their payroll as part of the
deal, and that they connected with the data bank in the RNC.
So, she is – she`s drawing a conspiracy theory. She doesn`t have the
evidence but she is obviously hoping that this is what the Robert Mueller
and what the congressional committees could do.
She`s also not blaming herself and this is this is something that she had
said before, that she believes despite the mistakes that a lot of people
pointed out in judgment and in campaign strategy that they were trending
upward and she keeps pointing, you know, to the data that showed that when
James Comey 11 days out dropped his letter and reopened the email issue,
that that`s what stalled her momentum, especially cutting in half she said
her polling – her polling advantage with suburban women in Pennsylvania
where she – one of the three states that led to accumulative loss of
77,000 votes that just delivered the Electoral College to Donald Trump.
MELBER: And she spoke about his appeal and the way that he approaches
politics. Listen to her on that point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: He does have a visceral grasp of America`s political underbelly.
He really understands how to inflame people, how to motivate them, how to
bond with them, over whatever their grievance is. You know, whatever
resentment or point of anger that you may have if, he can get into it,
whether it`s race or sex or xenophobia or anti-Islamophobia, whatever it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What did you make of that analysis of hers?
MITCHELL: Well, she – you know, she is trying to come to grips with the
kind of rhetoric and the kind of anger that he was able to exploit.
Interestingly, she also says that there is from her view misogyny in this,
that voters are willing to accept anger and passions from a Bernie Sanders,
from a Donald Trump at a campaign rally, in a way that they were not
accepted from her.
Now, others have criticized her delivery and her voice and other aspects of
her. She says that that is a double standard that there is a sexism still
involved in the way voters view candidates –
MITCHELL: – who are female.
MELBER: And she –
MITCHELL: And by the way –
MELBER: Go ahead.
MITCHELL: I was just going to say, if you thought the campaign was over
and that he has been president for, you know, 204 days or something,
tonight, this Trump tweet and her response, he tweeted: Crooked Hillary
Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible
candidate, hits Facebook and even Dems and DNC.
So, he`s calling her crooked Hillary, last I knew there was no FBI
investigation into her, but there is an FBI investigation into his
And she tweeted back: People in covfefe houses shouldn`t throw for covfefe.
That made tonight.
MELBER: I see that, I see it`s 9:30 p.m. that she posted that, it already
has 26,000 retweets and counting. Interesting to see these two obviously
still going at it, using Twitter, part of the information architecture that
she`s alleging was – she believes part of a potential type of collusion as
you report and also the question but how it affects all this.
You know, on the sexism, I wonder what you think of that is having followed
her for so long and she`s had these different chapters, because one thing
I`ve heard her really stressed today was that, yes, she acknowledges that
people didn`t like some of what she did, but she put it in a larger context
of the double standard that women candidates are held to and she was quite
explicit. She cited to research the Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook has
cited in “Lean In”, that there is an documented data that shows an inverse
relationship to the success of an individual in their gender, more
successful men lauded, more successful women run into a lot more antipathy.
So, she – it struck my ear that she was getting way more into it today
than she did on the campaign trail, though of course she may feel that
there was no reward for that obviously on the campaign trail.
MITCHELL: Well, she tried to take advantage of gender initially when she
was announcing on Roosevelt Island and speaking about her mother, speaking
of herself as a grandmother. She was using it in a way that she never did
in the campaign when she was trying to prove she`s tough and commander-in-
chief, and I think that they realized she wanted she needed to soften the
edges, but then she reverted to a campaign that really didn`t deal with
gender, and I think it`s because they had polling data that there was still
resistance to accepting a woman candidate for president, even after
accepting that she could be tough enough to be secretary of state and you
know deal with foreign policy.
They really is – she feels and I think the data probably supports her on
this, that there was a double standard in the way they accepted Bernie
Sanders or Donald Trump being passionate. Now, it`s also affect. It`s
also the way we react to a voice, and to seeing a woman getting more high-
pitched and being angry. I think – I think there`s something to that.
That said, people will argue that she should have been a lot farther ahead
so that the Comey hit 11 days out didn`t hurt as badly as it did. But she
really believes it was determinative and she`s got polling data from – you
know, from plenty of people, Nate Silver and others, to show that if she
was going up and then she flat-lined and started heading downward.
MELBER: Right, and you could see it in the emphasis that she is on the
news and on the information as ever. I mean, she had all her examples
ready and if anything struck me at least as more candid than usual.
Andrea Mitchell, host of “ANDREW MITCHELL REPORTS” from NBC, thank you for
MITCHELL: You bet.
MELBER: And we have more. Stay with us.
MELBER: That is our show for tonight. I am Ari Melber in for Rachel. You
can find me online at Facebook.com/arimelber, or you can email me at
Now, it is time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”, who has a very
special guest tonight, Senator Al Franken who I`m told will be with
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