Moore: allegations are “untrue.” Transcript 11/16/17 The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O’DONNELL
Date: November 16, 2017
Guest: Julia Ainsley, Joyce White Vance, Luke Harding
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: That’s crazy.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: I know, it was almost rude. But it’s true.
VELSHI: Almost. But, listen, you said something earlier when describing
all the malfeasance and misbehavior and bad things that are happening in
close proximity to the Senate and senators with Menendez, with Al Franken,
with Roy Moore and said something at the end of it and you said, this is my
MADDOW: This is my life.
VELSHI: I mean, there’s no point in our training for this that we were
expecting to talk about the things that we now – that come out of our
mouths on a daily basis, but thank you for doing it the way you do, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you very much. I’m just going to take my blushing home with
me now, Ali. Thank you very much.
VELSHI: All right, Rachel.
We’ve got breaking news in the Russia investigation. Subpoenas have gone
out to a dozen members of the Trump campaign, plus, the very different way
that Republicans and Democrats are handling accusations against Roy Moore
and Al Franken.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn’t do anything and that’s why I regret. I just
got out of there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four more women have now come forward accusing
embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct.
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: This is an effort by Mitch
McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything has been completely rocked on the Senate
side by these allegations against Senator Al Franken.
LEEANN TWEEDEN, AL FRANKEN ACCUSER: He mashed his lips against my face and
he stuck his tongue in my mouth so fast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Respect for women should not be a partisan issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot do this to the tax code in like a month and
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We’ve got a long road ahead
of us and we have a time line to get this done by the end of the year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is unbelievable in many ways. It’s being rushed
through and it is so consequential.
VELSHI: Good evening. I’m Ali Velshi, in for Lawrence tonight.
The United States Senate is grappling with two separate cases involving
allegations of sexual misconduct. One is against a candidate to be
senator. The other is against a sitting senator. One a Republican, the
other a Democrat. One is denying all accusations while the other has
issued an apology.
It’s been one week since “The Washington Post’s” first report on the
allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican Roy Moore,
including one case involving a woman who says she was 14 years old and Roy
Moore was in his 30s at the time of the encounter. Since then, a total of
nine women have come forward, seen here. But Roy Moore denies all of the
allegations and claims that Mitch McConnell is behind the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: As you know, “The Washington post” brought some scurrilous, false
charges, not charges, allegations which I have emphatically denied time and
time again. They’re not only untrue, but they have no evidence to support
Many of you have recognized that this is an effort by Mitch McConnell and
his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama and they will
not stand for it.
I want to tell you who needs to step down. That’s Mitch McConnell.
There’s been comments about me taking a stand. Yes, I have taken a stand
in the past. I’ll take a stand in the future. And I’ll quit standing when
they lay me in that box and put me in the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: OK. So in other words, he will never back down and the Alabama
Republican Party doesn’t think he needs to. Its steering committee met
last night and decided to continue supporting Roy Moore as its nominee and
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, also a Republican, reaffirmed today that the
special election will remain on December 12th.
Now, despite all of this, Roy Moore’s accusers aren’t backing down either.
Tina Johnson first told her story to a major Alabama publication, AL.com,
explaining that she was 28 years old when she went to Roy Moore’s law
office to sign over custody over her 12-year-old son to her mother. This
was in 1991, when Roy Moore had already been married six years.
Today, in an exclusive interview with NBC news, Tina Johnson explained
first time on camera what she says happened once she got up to leave Roy
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TINA JOHNSON, ACCUSES ROY MOORE OF GROPING HER: And then, we eventually
got up to leave and as we did when I – my mother went first and then when
I got up and went out, he grabbed my behind, just hard. I was in shock.
And I was so humiliated and sickened.
I didn’t do anything. And that’s what I regret. I just got out of there,
speeded up a little bit and got out the door as quick as I could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: OK. Story number one.
Story number two, radio host Leeann Tweeden also told her story today, but
hers involved Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken. Tweeden says both
she and Franken went on a USO tour of the Middle East in 2006. This was
after Franken was on “Saturday Night Live” and before he was in the Senate.
She alleges that Franken forcibly kissed her and took a picture in which
she groped her seen here while she was sleeping. Tweeden says the kiss
happened as they were practicing a skit that they performed for the service
members in the tour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TWEEDEN: We did the line and he came at me and before you know it, you
kind of get close and he put his hand on the back of my hand and he mashed
his face against – I mean, it happened so fast and he just mashed his lips
against my face and he stuck his tongue in my mouth so fast and all I can
remember is that his lips were really wet and slimy and I remember I pushed
him off with my hands and I just remember I almost punched him because
every time I see him now my hands clench into fists and I’m sure that’s
And I said, if you ever do that to me again, I’m not going to be so nice
about it the second time. And I just walked out away from him and I walked
out and I just wanted to find a bathroom and I just wanted to rinse my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Senator Al Franken issued a lengthy statement that began, quote:
The first thing I want to do is apologize to Leeann, to everyone else who
was part of that tour, to everyone who I worked for, to everyone I
represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and a supporter
and a champion of women.
There’s more I want to say but the first and most important thing and if
the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine, is I’m sorry.
He goes on to say: Coming from the world of comedy, I have told and written
a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize
were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the
point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matter and
I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.
Senators on both sides of the aisle are calling for an ethics
investigation, including Al Franken who writes: I’m asking that an ethics
investigation be undertaken and I will gladly cooperate.
Leeann Tweeden says she accepts Al Franken’s apology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TWEEDEN: The apology, sure, I accept it, yes. I mean, people make
mistakes and, of course, he knew he made a mistake. So, yes, I do accept
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Tweeden also explained how she was inspired to come forward after
hearing Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s story about being assaulted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TWEEDEN: I think that was my catalyst to sort of go, you know, if I’m
going to tell my story, now is the time, 2017 is not 2006, you know? It’s
just a different time and maybe, maybe I can be somebody’s Jackie Speier
and they can tell their story in real time and not wait.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: All right. Joining us now, Donna Edwards, a former Democratic
congresswoman from Maryland and currently, senior fellow at the Brennan
Center for Justice, Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the northern
district of Alabama and a professor at University of Alabama Law School,
and Charlie Sykes, author of the book, “How the Right Lost Its Mind”, and
Thank you all for being with us tonight.
We’re getting a lot of reaction to all of this but, Donna, there’s almost a
bigger thing going on now. Rachel was talking about it and certainly in
the halls of power, in the halls of commerce and government, we are hearing
more and more of these things in the case of Tweeden, she was inspired by
Jackie Speier coming forward. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said
tonight about Bill Clinton that she feels that Mr. Clinton should have
stepped down at the time of the accusation, asked directly if believes Mr.
Clinton should have stepped down, Ms. Gillibrand took a long pause and
said, yes, I think that that is the appropriate response.
Donna, tell me about this because you spent time in Congress where it is
now – now looks like sexual harassment or things of this nature are
FORMER REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, let me just say – I mean,
both as a member of Congress, as a, you know, a worker in the private
sector, I think that there are few women myself included who haven’t
experienced some form of harassing behavior, assault as we have seen
described by these stories and these last several weeks or just
inappropriate and offensive behavior. And I think that we are at a time in
2017, it was always unacceptable but now it is really unacceptable and I
think that women are stepping forward and telling their stories because
And, you know, my view is that we actually need more women in positions of
power so that we can set the rules and we can change the culture and that
includes in the United States Congress.
VELSHI: That’s the good news. The bad news, of course, we keep on hearing
about these new allegations, day after day. Charlie, in the few minutes
that we have been on air the president has finally tweeted about sexual
harassment and not about Roy Moore who – on whom he won’t comment. This
is about Al Franken. He says, the Al Frankenstein picture is really bad.
Speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 and
6 while she sleeps?
Charlie, the president did not address this when he spoke to the nation
yesterday, when he spoke to pool reporters. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was
asked about it several times today and she said – let me just play a
little bit about – one of the interchanges today from the press
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: As we all know, the president faced a number of similar
allegations or somewhat similar allegations during the course of the
campaign and he vigorously denied them, but I wonder what you would assert
to be the difference between the two situations such that on the face of
things, we should find one set of allegations very troubling and on the
other we shouldn’t pay attention to them at all or totally disbelieve them.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think the
president has certainly a lot more insight into what he personally did or
didn’t do and he spoke out about that directly during the campaign. I
don’t have anything further to add beyond that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: So, Charlie, at least two Republicans who are out of step with
even mainstream Republican views on this, and that is Roy Moore and
President Donald Trump.
CHARLIE SYKES, AUTHOR, “HOW THE RIGHT LOST ITS MIND”: Yes. Just when you
think that he’s plumbed the depths of hypocrisy, he goes even further. You
know, does Donald Trump have no shame but I think we know the answer to
Look, you know, one of the reasons why I think he stayed silent is
understood two things. Number one, the rules have changed. We are in the
midst of a cultural sea change when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse.
2017 is not 2016. He will have more than a dozen women who have come
forward credibly making allegations about him.
He is apparently not willing to cut his ties from the serial abuser down in
Alabama. And at some point obviously, look, people are going to say if we
believe all of these other women which we ought to do, why did we not
believe the women that came forward and made the allegations against the
man who was the president of the United States?
So, at the end of this you can see very, very clearly that issue is going
to become very live once again. But somehow we need to break away from
this tribalist double standard hypocrisy, this cycle where we defend the
guys on our side, and we attack the guys on the other side, because that’s
how we get Donald Trump in the White House and that’s how you get Roy Moore
in the Senate.
VELSHI: So, it’s interesting, with respect to Al Franken, we expect that
the Senate Ethics Committee will take this up, Joyce. That’s what Al
Franken asked for. That’s what it seems every senator has asked for. We
don’t know. The Senate Ethics Committee doesn’t have the best history of
taking up matters of irresponsibility or bad behavior that senators, you
know, undertake, but we’ll see if that happens.
But he did issue an apology in which he apologized to Leeann Tweeden. That
stands in some contrast, Joyce, to the press conference that Roy Moore
joined this afternoon with a number of religious leaders who are still
supporting him, in which to Charlie’s point, he did not name the accusers.
He did not say their names. He is not issued an apology even for a
He has attacked the media. He’s attacked the Republican establishment.
He’s attacked Democrats for doing this. His approach is very different.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Roy Moore seems to have taken a page
from President Trump’s book. This looks very much like the way the
president responded to accusations both before and during the campaign. It
worked well for President Trump. He got elected despite those allegations
from a number of women, including underage women involved in pageants.
He somehow or another got past the “Access Hollywood” tape in which he
acknowledged engaging in conduct that is a few degrees further along than
even what Al Franken has acknowledged today he engaged in. So, perhaps Roy
Moore believes that he like President Trump can survive these allegations,
be elected and go on to serve.
VELSHI: Donna, a lot of women who have come forward in various countless
stories that they have recounted for us in the last two months or so had to
offer excuses or reasons as to why they didn’t come forward in earlier days
and there is a sameness about them. Leeann Tweeden explains why she didn’t
come out sooner. Let’s listen together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TWEEDEN: I mean, look. I was afraid to speak out 11 years ago. I wanted
to say something and there are people around me who said, oh my God, you
will get annihilated and never work in this town again. And I was afraid
of that. I really was afraid of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Donna, that’s some version of the story everybody has. I was
afraid of it in my company. I was afraid it wouldn’t be taken seriously.
The other day I looked at the rules of Congress has for reporting a
complaint. They’re byzantine and generally speaking, these things tend to
be stacked against a woman who comes forward with a complaint about a more
EDWARDS: Well, their fear is, you know, is appropriate as evidenced by the
attack that has taken place against Roy Moore’s accusers, against Donald
Trump’s accusers. You know, this is what women experience and I think that
we are in a different kind of environment but not so different.
I mean, I worry, frankly, about the ethics process. I served on the House
Ethics Committee. I know that it can be a long, drawn out process. It’s
in secret. The deck is, you know, in some ways stacked against the victims
and the accusers.
And so, I think that we really have to deal with this and how offensive for
the president of the United States to send out a tweet about Al Franken
given that he is the man who was on tape grabbing at women. I mean, it is
so deeply offensive. He’s the one who needs to resign.
VELSHI: Let me ask you about this, Charlie. Al Franken, he released an
initial short – not that satisfactory statement and then released a longer
one in which this stood out to me. He said over the last few months, all
of us including and especially men who respect women have been forced to
take a good, hard look at our own actions and think perhaps shamefully for
the first time about how those actions have affected women.
Charlie, I wonder if there are a lot of men tonight who are reading those
words, not wishing to come out and say that they have done anything that
would have offended, troubled, affected women but for whom those words ring
SYKES: Yes. I think there are. And I mean, including men who haven’t
done it who are now realizing that, you know many of the things you heard
women were complaining about or talking to one another about, the things
were much worse than any of us had any idea, that, in fact, many of us, you
know, ignored or missed a lot of things that were happening.
But I do have to say this about the moment we’re in right now and it’s very
hard to predict where we are going. I would just say that the stronger the
Democrats are in policing their own bad actors and making it very clear,
drawing the lines about Bill Clinton and going back, the stronger their
case will be if Roy Moore comes to the Senate. The stronger their moral
status will be.
This is not what-aboutism and coming up with some sort of non-tribal
consistent standard and it starts with Al Franken who, by the way, I’m not
saying moral equivalence of him and Roy Moore but somehow – look. The dam
is about to break in Washington. There’s about to be a tsunami of these
allegations in Capitol Hill and people better decide to look at it in a
partisan term, in a tribal term, or whether or not we’re going to believe
VELSHI: Joyce, let me show you with a new poll out with the Alabama
special election. These are tough because turnout in the special
elections, one never knows what they will be.
But Doug Jones, the Democrat, has pulled eight points ahead of Roy Moore.
Roy Moore is sticking to the idea that not only are these women and the
media lying about him, but you heard him say in our opening – the sound
that we played earlier, he said there’s no evidence to support them.
That’s legally key for him. These are – these are accounts that are
coming out 30-plus years later likely not to face any court cases.
What does he have when he says that?
VANCE: I think that what he’s trying to do is position his situation in a
way that forces voters to reject the claims that these women have made
against him. He’s saying that you have to find evidence I’m guilty beyond
a reasonable doubt if you’re going to reject me as a Senate candidate.
And, you know, that’s just not true. That’s not what’s happening here.
We’re not in a court of law. He’s not being judged by the reasonable doubt
Instead, the question here is whether Alabama voters are comfortable with
this man, comfortable with his character in light of these allegations that
have come out, in light of his prior two-time removal as the chief justice
of the Supreme Court, in light of allegations that he and his wife were
taking money from the personal charity and not disclosing those funds and
to all of these character flaws start to add up and lead Alabama voters to
believe that this isn’t somebody that they want to hire as their senator.
So, it’s clever of Moore to try to position this as proof beyond a
reasonable doubt but, you know, Ali, there’s not going to be a trial
between now and this election.
VELSHI: Right, absolutely not, 27 days.
VANCE: And that I think, you know, that’s just a nonstarter.
VELSHI: Yes, absolutely.
All right. Thank you for that, Joyce, Donna Edwards, and Charlie Sykes.
Thank you for joining us.
Joyce, I’m going to talk to you in a minute about another matter.
Coming up, breaking news on the Russia investigation tonight. Robert
Mueller issues a new subpoena for the Trump campaign and the Senate
Judiciary Committee has some questions for Jared Kushner about Donald Trump
Jr.’s secret communication with WikiLeaks during the campaign.
And Donald Trump and House Republicans – well, they skipped the beer party
this time but the tax bill passed in the House and could be destined for
the same fate in the Senate as repeal and replace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: This is a very, very big milestone on that road.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: All right. Today, House Republicans passed the bill for cutting
taxes for corporations and the wealthy and adding $1.5 trillion to the
President Trump has just tweeted about the vote. Big win today in the
House for GOP tax cuts and reform 227-205. Zero Dems. They want to raise
taxes much higher but not for our military.
President Trump is correct that zero Democrats voted for the bill. But
there are also 13 Republicans from high tax states, these ones here, who
voted no because they say the bill raises taxes on their constituents. But
actually, it probably raises taxes on a lot more than their constituents.
If the bill becomes law, President Trump and his family could get a big tax
cut, a billion dollars, according to an analysis commissioned by NBC News.
That’s not what Donald Trump promised his supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My plan for the working
people and my plan is for jobs.
REPORTER: So, you wouldn’t benefit under your tax plan?
TRUMP: No, I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
The focus of tax cuts now moves to the Senate. Today, the Joint Committee
on Taxation, Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper on taxes, projected that
while the wealthy see a tax cut under the Senate GOP bill, quote, Americans
earning $30,000 or less would see their taxes increase beginning in 2021,
if the Senate bill becomes law and Americans earning $75,000 or less would
face large tax increases in 2027.
Joining us now, Ezra Klein, editor at large at “Vox” and host of “The Ezra
Klein Show”, and Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy
Center and former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee.
Steve, let me just start with you. There is something called a sunset on
the personal tax cuts here. Not on the corporate tax cuts. So, corporate
tax cuts that get passed if the Senate bill goes through and reconcile it
and it all happens are forever. The personal tax cuts are for 10 years.
There’s some budgetary reasons why that works, but in the end, Americans
who think they’re getting something of a tax cut now may see that turn
around quite violently for them in 10 years.
STEVE BELL, SENIOR ADVISOR, THE BIPARTISAN POLICY CENTER: Oh, that’s
absolutely right. The decision to cut off the tax cuts to end them after
eight years for individuals I think is a serious mistake and I don’t think
it’s going to stand. They did it, of course, because they wanted to reduce
the size of the deficit and keep it under 1.5 trillion over 10 years and
they have done this with other things.
The way to look at this is in a kind of really cynical way, and that is
they figure they can pass a bill and have individual tax cuts expire but
the next Congress would never let that happen and they would go ahead and
extend them and we would get back in the situation we had after the Bush
tax cuts where every year, literally hundreds of billions of dollars in tax
extenders happen at the end of every year.
BELL: So, it’s a cynical ploy.
VELSHI: So, and, Ezra, when you do the math on this stuff, it adds to
bigger deficits unless you believe the president and Gary Cohn and Steve
Mnuchin and all sort of others who say, no, no, this going to unleash such
violently explosive growth that is going to take care of all of this.
People’s wages are going to go up. Unemployment is going to go down, lower
than it is. The economy’s going to grow at numbers that India and China
see because this is going to be so stimulative to the economy.
I can’t get those numbers to add up.
EZRA KLEIN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, VOX: Nobody believes that math. And even if
you look at reasonably optimistic estimates of this plan, nobody believes
that math. Look, we have been in a scenario for quite a while now as a
country where we have had extremely high corporate profits, so the primary
thing this tax bill is trying to do in the world, which is make sure
corporations have more money we have been seeing it and we’ve not seen that
translate into job growth in the way we thought it would.
KLEIN: We have not seen it translating particularly into wage growth in
the way we thought it would. And now, we get this plan, and the Trump
White House says that for all the tax cuts we’re showering on corporations,
they will turn not only all of those cuts but more than 200 percent worth
of those cuts into wages is ridiculous.
VELSHI: No mystery – nothing shows that happens. In the Reagan time when
that happened, Steve, that didn’t take place. More recent experiment in
the United Kingdom and there’s nothing wrong with that. Companies do what
they want to do with the money they save on taxes. It usually goes to
shareholders. Sometimes it goes into capital expenditure and it almost
never goes to workers.
BELL: Well, that’s right. And remember this. The Reagan tax cuts
occurred when the top rate on individuals was 70 percent. And we were
coming out of a very difficult time as we tried to battle inflation.
We’re not in that situation at all. The top rate now is around 39.6
percent. And I don’t know anyone who seriously practices economics on
either side of the aisle who believes we will get much more than 3 percent
growth ever because of the fact that we have an aging population. We have
structural problems that a small tax cut of 1.5 trillion or – are not
going to solve.
Ezra, what happened to good old-fashioned conservative deficit hawks who –
why’s everybody falling for this idea of growth to take –
KLEIN: There isn’t such a thing as good old-fashioned conservative deficit
hawks when it comes to taxation. This is a myth that Republicans managed
to perpetrate whenever Democrats come in office. When the Bush tax cuts
went out, those were deficit financed. They were not paid for. The
original Reagan tax cuts, those were deficit financed, not paid for.
The Republican concern for deficits and this is a sad fact about American
politics, is not a real concern. It is a concern used to constrain at the
Democrats from spending. It is a concern that is leveraged by people like
Paul Ryan, an author of this tax bill, when Barack Obama wants more
stimulus money and to say increasing unemployment insurance, but it
evaporates the second corporate tax cuts are on the table.
VELSHI: All right. Important point that you guys have made and that is
that corporate profitability is remarkably high. Interest rates are
remarkably low. If companies needed to expand and employ all sorts of
people in America, they wouldn’t need this corporate tax cut to do it.
Thanks to both of you. Ezra Klein and Steve Bell, thank you for joining
Coming up, all the breaking news on Robert Mueller’s investigation.
And later, “Collusion: How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win”. That’s the
name of investigative reporter Luke Harding’s new book. He was a
correspondent in Russia for years. You’re going to want to hear what he
has to say, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL FLYNN, FMR. DIRECTOR OF THE DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: We do not
need a reckless President who believes she is above the law. Lock her up.
That’s right. Yes, that’s right. Lock her up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Potentially a little irony in that. Breaking news in the Mueller
Investigation that likely has some very important people worried. NBC News
reporting that a Turkish businessman who was in Federal custody under
suspicion of international money laundering is now cooperating with federal
prosecutors. Now, why is this important?
Well, according to NBC News reporting legal experts say prosecutors may be
seeking information about any ties between the Turkish government and
former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Remember, it was last week
that NBC News reported Robert Mueller has enough evidence already to bring
charges against Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael
Flynn or Flynn’s son or potentially both of them. And among the allegations
we heard about last week was an alleged bribery scheme of the Government of
Turkey and Michael Flynn to the tune of $15 million.
Could this cooperating witness be in a position to have information about
that deal? Joining us now, Julia Ainsley, National Security and Justice
reporter for NBC News who’s reporting this news story and back with us is
former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance. Julia, let’s start with you. What could
Robert Mueller and we don’t know whether the guy who is not in the jail he
was in before, the incarceration of before, we don’t know whether Mueller
has access to him right now but what do we think Mueller could do to this
guy if he’s talking to him?
JULIA AINSLEY, REPORTER, NBC NEWS: So Ali If you had not heard of Reza
Zarrab before today, I would not blame you. This is a much lesser known
case, lesser known investigation in the big one we’ve been following.
Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling. But why he is important to
that case is he is a Turkish-Iranian businessman in incarceration in the
U.S. for skirting Iranian sanctions and someone that the Turkish government
has worried about and pressured for his release because they’re afraid he
And of course some of the information the Turkish Government doesn’t want
is influenced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. We have
reported last week, of course, senior Turkish officials who may have met
with Michael Flynn and Robert Mueller is looking into that to see if they
tried to bribe him to drop the case and force the removal of one of Turkish
President Erdogan rivals. So this person the fact that he is cooperating
and speaking to federal investigators could lead to Robert Mueller’s case
and give him more information. Prosecutors in the southern district of New
York are talking to him now. But we can be sure that those prosecutors
would pass that information along to special council Robert Mueller.
VELSHI: Joyce, this guy whose picture we were showing on TV, you know,
Julia’s correct. I really didn’t know much about this fellow. He is a man
of somewhat – some international intrigue. And the bottom line is Turkish
President Erdogan has worked very hard to make sure – to try to get this
He met with Rudy Giuliani who was representing this guy. He met with Joe
Biden to try to get Biden to put pressure Preet Bharara in New York to get
him freed. This guy is very important to the Turkish Government for some
reason and we learned that Robert Mueller think there’s some connection
between the Turkish Government and Mike Flynn. What do you think’s
happening right now with this guy?
JOYCE WHITE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So it really looks like this is
President Erdogan’s version of Mike Flynn, someone from his country who he
values so highly that he tried to get Joe Biden to intervene with Preet
Bharara in an effort to have him released and terminate the case which was
really a powerful prosecution, not just into the violation of Iranian
sanctions imposed by the U.S. but also perhaps into corruption in Turkey.
So we’re speculating here.
VANCE: I think it’s important to say that because if, in fact, he is
cooperating that cooperation could be limited to the charges he already
faces in southern district of New York. He has been in custody since last
spring. He was not out in liberty at the time that this bribe was
allegedly offered to Mike Flynn from Turkish authorities but there is
And I think properly so that he is cooperating. That he’s telling what he
knows to folks in the Special Council’s Investigation and that they will
use that to pressure Mike Flynn and perhaps others into pleading guilty and
cooperating. We really don’t know, frankly, how high his knowledge could
VANCE: Could it go beyond Flynn and to other people. It’s a very
VELSHI: So that point Julia that we know is that Erdogan’s very interested
in this guy. We know he talked to Joe Biden. We know he was trying to
influence Preet Bharara. He actually wanted Preet Bharara fired for not
doing the right thing. But here’s the question. Rudy Giuliani’s name
shown up in this whole thing. Rudy Giuliani has apparently spoken to
Erdogan about this guy. What’s that got to do with this?
VANCE: Exactly. So we know that Rudy Giuliani was involved this case and
he could potentially be implicated for his help with Reza Zarrab. We
reached out the Giuliani, have not gotten a response. But of course he
remains another intriguing piece of this because he was involved in the
Trump campaign, as well. So really what this is all coming back to, Ali,
the fact that Robert Mueller has a strategy that seems to be working well
where he tries go from the outside in.
From the outer most circles to get people to cooperate and turn on those on
the inside. So that he can figure out what’s happening inside this
campaign. And potentially inside this Whitehouse.
VELSHI: Everybody, mark your calendars. It’s November 16th, 2017. The day
most people learned about Reza Zarrab and, you know, met with your friends
about whether you’ll be heAling more about him or you’ll never hear about
this obscure character again. It’s an interesting story. Julia, thanks
for reporting it for us. Joyce, for sticking around for me to make some
sense of it for us.
All right, coming up, the Senate Judiciary Committee has some questions for
Jared Kushner about Donald Trump Jr.’s secret communications with Wikileaks
during the campaign. I’ll have that next.
VELSHI: There are new developments tonight in the Russia investigation.
The Wall Street Journal reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller
issued a subpoena for Russia-related documents from more than a dozen Trump
campaign officials according to a person familiar with the matter. The
journal report it is subpoena marked Mr. Mueller’s first official order for
information from the campaign according to the person. The subpoena didn’t
compel any officials to testify before Mr. Mueller’s Grand Jury. The
person said the subpoena caught the campaign by surprise.
Also, new tonight, Jared Kushner reportedly received e-mails last year
about Wikileaks and failed to turn those e-mails over to the investigating
Senate Judiciary Committee. That’s according to a letter sent to his
attorney today by the top Republican and Democrat on the Committee.
Kushner apparently received the e-mails in September of 2016 and forwarded
them to another campaign official.
Senate Judiciary Committee Leaders said that one other witness had turned
over e-mails from Kushner that he himself had not produced. The Committee
also wants “documents concerning a Russian back door overture and dinner
invite which Kushner also forwarded to at least one other campaign
official.” And in a third request the committee says it wants any
communications from Kushner involving U.S./Russian Businessman Sergei
Now what’s interesting about this particular request is that Sergei Millian
is the man identified as source “D” in the Trump Dossier. Millian
apparently supplied the details of some of the most salacious claims in
that report. And there are more developments concerning that explosive
Trump dossier coming out of a new book from Guardian Journalist Luke
Harding. Harding learned that the author of the dossier Christopher Steele
assessed the work to be 70 percent to 90 percent accurate as we reported to
you last night.
But we now know that in December of last year Christopher Steele
highlighted what he felt were some especially important lines of inquiry to
Harding. Steele informed Harding that “the contracts for the hotel deals
and land deals between Trump and individuals with Kremlin ties warrant
investigation.” “Check their values against the money Trump secured via
loans. The former spy said according to a conversation detailed in
Harding’s book, “the difference is what’s important.” According to the
book, Steele did not elaborate on the point and Harding felt the
implication was clear.
It’s possible that Trump was indebted to Russian interests when he declared
the candidacy in 2015. I’ll speak with Luke Harding, the author of
collusion, secret meetings, dirty money and how Russia helped Donald Trump
win, about those revelations and more right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I saw the information. I read the
information outside of that meeting. It’s all fake news. It’s phony stuff.
It didn’t happen. And it was gotten by opponents of ours, as you know
because you reported it and so did many of the other people. That’s
something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do. Does anyone really
believe that story? I’m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way, believe
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That was then-President-elect trump in January of this year just
days after the news broke about the infamous Trump Dossier. Joining us is
Luke Harding, Foreign Correspondent with The Guardian. Previously he was
the Guardian’s Moscow Bureau Chief and is the author of the book Collusion,
Secret Meeting, Dirty Money and how Russia helped Donald Trump Win.
Luke thanks very much. You habe been studying this issue for a long time,
more than most journalists. You were sort of on to it earlier. The issue
around the dossier is about veracity. That’s what everybody’s opinion of it
Do we believe this guy Christopher Steele? The critics of it want to sully
it by discussing who paid for it, and even that’s a bit confusing. You know
him. You have met Christopher Steele. You have researched this. What is
your evaluation of his claim of the truthfulness and veracity of this
LUKE HARDING, AUTHOR: Yeah. I think he’s broadly credible. He says this
is not a perfect document but he thinks, as he said in the introduction
it’s between 70 percent to 90 percent accurate. The sources he used for
this, the sources he had used before.
They didn’t come from the moon. They’re people who are reliable, have a
good track history, and who informed the dossier he did previously on the
war in Ukraine. We don’t know who they were but I find him professional and
he’s been studying Russia for 30 years.
VELSHI: And the idea is that he has been a spy. He has been an
intelligence gatherer. And these intelligence people do it a lot like we
do as journalists, perhaps using more sophisticated tools. He’s been doing
this for a while and his work has proven to be accurate in the past.
HARDING: Yeah I mean some of my book is what Steele was doing in the
Soviet Union back in the early 1990s, when he was a young undercover spy
roaming around and talking to people. And he’s (INAUDIBLE) a network of
sources over the years. And I think he’s kind horrified by the publicity
and attacks on him. But he’s quietly confident that over time he’ll be
vindicated. And of course the more we discover, the more we realize that
his key allegation of interactions between Trump people and Russians turns
out to be true. We learn more every night practically.
VELSHI: Is the issue that the term salacious comes up in relation to this
dossier. And some have said that if the salacious bits around the edges
weren’t there, it would be easier for some people to take seriously. How do
you feel about that?
HARDING: Well the thing is, they don’t know the KGB, or the FSB as it’s
now called, as the KGB’S successor. When I was correspondent in Moscow
living with my wife the FSB, Putin’s spies broke into our apartment when
they didn’t like the kind of thing I was writing. We were told by the
British diplomats there that we had bugs in our room, in our bedroom, and
HARDING: So the thing is, you know, if these guys will bug me, a kind of
troublesome western journalist, of course they would bug Mr. Trump in 2013.
HARDING: And so the question then is not did they tape. They did tape. The
question is how Trump behaved. And then, you know, that we can’t know. But
obviously Putin will know and Trump will know. And I think this gives Putin
leverage over Trump.
VELSHI: I teased that one of the things that Christopher Steele had said
to you is follow the money as it relates to hotel and land deals. And
while he didn’t point you somewhere specific, you believe that there was an
implication. Tell me about that.
HARDING: Well I mean the thing is, Trump and Russia goes back a long way,
30 years. There were kind of Russian mobsters living in Trump Tower in the
1980s. We have a gambling den that was broken up a couple of years ago.
And when Trump says you know no deals, no money, nothing, that’s kind of
formally true. But the problem is there’s a lot of money going in the
opposite direction, from Russia into Trump. And meanwhile this kind long
attempt to build a hotel there which never comes off. But we now know was
being attempted by as late as 2016. So there’s a long history of
engagement. And Steele sent out his queritory sources and he got answers
which he told to me or our friends were hair raising. But actually there’s
a huge history of engagement and I think there’s more to find there.
VELSHI: So people must ask you this all the time. Are you satisfied that
there was collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russian Government?
We certainly know that there was contact. That’s a fact at this point and
not only do we know there was contact, we know there were a lot of people
lying about the contact.
And then just this week when the President said that he’s asked Vladimir
Putin several times if he’s interfered in the election. And how many times
can you ask the guy. He keeps saying he didn’t. All of this stuff strikes
regular people who are not conspiracy theorists as weird.
HARDING: That’s the question, how do you explain this strange loyalty from
Trump to Putin when he’s so rude about everyone else, including presumably
you, Ali, and your channel.
HARDING: And so and so.
VELSHI: Well he’s not that nice to anybody.
HARDING: Apart from Mr. Putin. And it’s not Mr. Putin’s chAlisma or
personal chemistry. I think it’s something else. And so does Christopher
And actually you have to go you have to actually go back, you asked about
collusion, to Trump’s first trip, 1987, the summer, to Soviet Moscow. Of
course he’s invited by the Soviet Government. Now the sort Russians don’t
invite anybody. They invite people for a purpose.
And certainly it looks to me and other intelligence sources I’ve spoken to
like a classic cultivation operation.
VELSHI: And this is that is just a little bit, a taste of what is in the
book. Luke, thank you for coming and spending time with me. I think the
book is an important read for anybody who wants to get a little smarter
about this whole issue. Luke Harding is Foreign Correspondent with The
Guardian and the author of Collusion, secret meetings, dirty money and how
Russia helped Trump.
All right, we’ve got an update on a story that we covered earlier right
VELSHI: Breaking news now, the Senate Finance Committee has just voted
along party lines to send its revised version of the tax bill to the full
Senate for a vote. This version includes repealing the individual mandate
in the Affordable Care Act. Majority leader Mitch McConnell said tonight
when the Senate returns after thanksgiving I will bring this must-pass
legislation to the floor for further debate and open consideration. I will
have much more on the tax bill tomorrow on MSNBC starting at 1:00 a.m. with
Velshi & Ruhle. I’m Ali Velshi. Thank you for watching. The 11th Hour
with Brian Williams begins now.
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