Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: July 18, 2018 Guest: Eric Swalwell, Jonathan Chait, Roger Marshall
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Why doesn't the man they voted for ready to the same. That's HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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ALI VELSHI, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Tonight on "ALL IN."
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I'm here to say the warning lights are breaking -- blinking red.
VELSHI: The President disagrees with his own intelligence again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Russia still targeting the U.S. Mr. President?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, no.
VELSHI: And the White House plays clean up again.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Actually, what -- I'm interpreting what the President said I'm not reversing it.
VELSHI: Tonight, the new Trump firestorm and new calls to subpoena the translator in the room with Putin and Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you say to him?
TRUMP: A very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling --
VELSHI: Plus, why prosecutors allege an accused Russian agent offered sex for political access? And my interview with the White House stenographer who quit her job because of Donald Trump's lies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like President Trump was lying to the American people --
VELSHI: When ALL IN starts now.
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VELSHI: Good evening from New York, I'm Ali Velshi in for Chris Hayes. The President today publicly rejected the conclusion of his national security advisors that Russia is gearing up for another attack on American democracy, this time aimed at the midterm elections and yet again the White House is trying to tell the American people that the President did not say what we all saw and heard him say. At a cabinet meeting, the President told reporters that Russia is not trying to disrupt this year's elections.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The states have various occupation --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is still targeting the U.S., Mr. President?
TRUMP: Thank you very much, no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you don't believe that to be the case?
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VELSHI: That directly contradicts the President's hand-picked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats who was in that cabinet meeting today. Just a few days ago Coats compared this moment right now to the summer before 9/11.
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COATS: He was in the months prior to September 2001 when according to then CIA Director George Tenet the system was blinking red. And here we are two-decade -- nearly two decades later and I'm here to say the warning lights are break -- blinking red.
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VELSHI: The warning lights are blinking red. The President's dismissal of that threat comes two days after he stood on a stage next to Vladimir Putin and in front of the world took Putin's side against the U.S. government on 2016 election interference. He tried to undo the damage yesterday claiming to have accidentally said the word "would" instead of "wouldn't." But with these new comments today, the President appears to have walked back his walk back and so at her first briefing in more than two weeks, the White House Press Secretary informed reporters that the President in fact, meant something different than what he actually said.
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SANDERS: The President was -- said thank you very much and was saying no to answering questions. The President and his administration are working very hard to make sure that right Russia is unable to meddle in our election.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So despite the video that shows the President looking at Cecile and answering no to this question about whether Russia is still targeting the U.S. and despite multiple people in the room understanding that the President was responding to that question and despite the President having never before said the word no-no repeatedly to usher reporters out of the room, you're saying -- you're saying it's a reverse.
SANDERS: I talked to the President, he wasn't answering that question. He was saying no, he's not taking questions and I've stated what our position is.
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VELSHI: I guess that settles it. As with the President's clean up attempt yesterday, that account doesn't pass the smell test, it doesn't actually pass any tests in part because after he supposedly said no to more questions, according to Sarah Sanders, the President kept taking more questions. The White House continues to insist that "no one is tougher on Russia" and they're doing all they can to protect the nation's elections. But it's not clear that the President or his allies actually care to stop Russia from putting a finger on the scale. Just today House Republicans blocked a push by Democrats to pass new funding for cybersecurity and other measures.
Meanwhile, members of the President's Twitter Army and the pro-Trump media are starting to drop all pretenses of actually objecting to Russian interference. One prominent supporter tweeting if Russia assists MAGA candidates on the Internet in this year's midterms, that's not the end of the world. Joining me now Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democrat from California and a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, good to see you.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Ali.
VELSHI: Can I just repeat that tweet to you. If Russia assists MAGA candidates on the Internet in this year's midterms, that's not the end of the world. What's your response to that sentiment that maybe Russia did put a finger on the scale in favor of Donald Trump but hey that's OK.
SWALWELL: Ali, it certainly would be the end of our democracy. Look, we're going to weather what Russia did this last election but it's going to take unity to make sure that this democracy continues to thrive. We recently offered as Democrats a no use truce to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee essentially saying that if there's a hacking that occurs against you we will not use any of the proceeds of that hacking against you and we would expect the same for us because we don't want to embolden further hackings. And they have not yet signed that, I wish they would. I think that type of unity would show the Russians and any other country that would seek to do this that we will not tolerate it, we will not use it. We will give no oxygen to anything that you try and put out there.
VELSHI: But the fact is you could see how some people including people running in congressional races could say maybe if they help Donald Trump, maybe if they help some members of Congress, why not take the help?
SWALWELL: And you know the cynic in me wonders you know when you look at about 44 members who are just recently out-fundraise and Republicans were saying over this week that you know these Republican incumbents who have been out-fundraised in the last quarter need to get their act together. I hope that it's not because they hope that there's some sort of air support that would be coming in from a foreign adversary. That's the cynic in me, Ali, but the more that they don't step up, the more they don't unite with us, I just wonder when are we going to stand up for our country? When are we going to say that our country is above any other country trying to influence what happens at the polls?
VELSHI: Well, we standing up kind of depends on everybody including the President of the United States being on the same page. The President has now given another interview to CBS News. Let's listen to what he told them about Russian interference in the election.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would agree with U.S. intelligence that Russia meddled in the election in 2016?
TRUMP: Yes, but and I've said that before, Jeff. I have said that numerous times before and I would say that that is true, yes. But you haven't condemned Putin specifically. Do you hold him personally responsible?
TRUMP: Well, I would because he's in charge of the country just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you say to him?
TRUMP: A very strong on the fact that we can't have meddling, we can't have any of that now. Look, we're also living in a grown-up world. Will a strong statement -- you know, President Obama supposedly made a strong statement, nobody heard it. What they did here is the statement he made to Putin's very close friend and that statement was not acceptable. It didn't get very much play relatively speaking but that said it was not acceptable. But I let him know we can't have this. We're not going to have it and that's the way it's going to be.
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VELSHI: Congressman, a reluctant warrior at best. There are more qualifications to a simple question from the President as it relates to Russia and Vladimir Putin's involvement in the 2016 elections and quite possibly in the 2018 midterms. What do you make of this?
SWALWELL: Yes, well, Ali, at first he didn't say that to Vladimir Putin when he was face to face and had the chance. Two, I cannot believe that he with a straight face -- well actually I can't believe that with a straight face, he said in that interview that Barack Obama we shouldn't trust what he said in private because he didn't say it publicly. Well that's exactly what he did for two hours with Vladimir Putin. He kicked everyone else out, he had this private conversation and he wants us to accept what he said.
But Ali, when I say that we need a unite, I want to make sure I'm clear. This is not just some symbolism of standing on the House stairs, you know, singing God Bless America. There's a to-do list. We could fund the election security that just got zeroed out. We could have an independent commission to take this out of Congress and deep politicize this. We could protect the Mueller investigation and pass the bipartisan legislation that's in the Senate. There's a lot we could do and show the American people and our enemies that we're not going to tolerate this.
VELSHI: Congressman, good to talk to you again. Thank you very much. Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. For more on the continued fallout from the President's summit and its potential impact on the midterm elections I'm joined by former Watergate Prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks and MSNBC Legal Analyst and New York Magazine Columnist Jonathan Chait. Jonathan, let me start with you. In the face of simplistic and unbelievable explanations from the President and from Sarah Sanders and others, I reached back to a column you wrote last week in which you wrote what is missing from our imaginations, the unlikely but possible outcome on the other end, that this is all much worse than we suspect. Now you look back, Jonathan, at the events of the last week, Brussels, and NATO, London, and Helsinki, this -- does this make the horrible prospect that Donald Trump really is in the pocket of Vladimir Putin more not less likely?
JONATHAN CHAIT, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I think it does. I think I was expecting some dark things to transpire at the summit in Finland but in many ways it's worse than any of us expected. Nobody thought he was going to stand up and just dismiss the findings of American intelligence about Russian hacking and certainly nobody thought that he was going to endorse this crazy offer by Vladimir Putin that we would somehow trade our diplomats to him for questioning by his intelligence goons and sort of combine our intelligence efforts with his. That was really beyond our worst fear so I do think that we don't know how far this scandal goes, how far the collusion in the -- in the hidden ties go but the worst scenario does seem more likely now than it did a week ago.
VELSHI: Jill, more has come out. We heard President Putin speaking to the world about wanting Bill Browder. He took Bill Browder's name and said you know, we'll maybe let Mueller's people investigate our agents that have been named in the indictment if the U.S. maybe lets us talk to Bill Browder. He's also talked about Michael McFaul who's a frequent guest and an analyst here, former ambassador to Russia. This is pretty serious. The Russian president is naming Americans and targeting them. We've got indictments that have a legal basis for charging Russians and Vladimir Putin is just putting names out there.
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Exactly. And it's a big difference between having probable cause that leads to an indictment and just grabbing names of people that you know they're after this all goes back to the meeting in Trump Tower when we were talking about the Magnitsky Act because that's Bill Browder and this something that has been obviously a sore point for the Russians ever since it passed and they're after Browder, they obviously were after Magnitsky and we know how well that ended for him.
So I think that we need to have a president who's willing to stand up and say to the face of the President of Russia we know that you hacked our election we know you interfered. We know you tried to disrupt our democracy -- our democracy but we will not allow that. It will not happen. We are taking actions to stop it. But he did not say that. He said I can't see why it would be Russia and trying to say that he meant wouldn't be Russia is just absurd. People don't speak in double negatives. It didn't happen. He clearly said it. It took more than 24 hours for them to correct it and that was the best they could come up with just like they're trying to say he said no I'm not taking any more questions before he answered more questions. That is equally a ridiculous spin.
VELSHI: But at some point, Jonathan, the world has turned upside down, right? The President says these things we all hear him together and see him, then he says he didn't, then he did it again today and Sarah Sanders says he didn't. There are clearly some people in America who continue to believe this or as I pointed out before I talked to Congressman Swalwell don't care.
CHAIT: That's right. And Trump interestingly is completely apart from his administration and the entire elite of the Republican Party in his affection for Vladimir Putin and for and for Russia. And this has played itself out in some really interesting ways. Trump himself wants to form an alliance with Russia and he's been stymied and blocked by his national security apparatus since his presidency began and he had every opportunity. He tries to break loose from these advisors and they keep reeling him in and it's been this push and pull back and forth. And when he got in a room by himself with Putin, that was really an opportunity for him to do who knows what but was really to the horror of his entire administration.
VELSHI: But Jill, you know, maybe it's hard for the President to stand next to Vladimir Putin and tell him, I don't think it's that hard but he could have said look, a lot of people telling me you best in the election we don't go for that sort of thing. But this concept of being able to say to Vladimir Putin, you can't come to America and start picking people up and deciding that you're going after them. That would have been an easier one for the President, right, to just stand up to him on that basis. The President can't do that. What more does anyone need to see to understand that something is rotten?
BANKS: I think we can say that this is collusion in plain sight. It is right in front of our eyes. That's exactly what's happening. It would have been very easy to say no, an ambassador cannot be questioned, no you can't pick names out of a hat to start asking questions, but why won't you turn over the people that we have probable cause. We have obvious evidence why wouldn't he even support the Department of Justice in its effort? Why wouldn't he admit that the allegations in that indictment which are laid out so clearly are true? When I read Jonathan's piece on June -- July 9th, so it was a week before this terrible, terrible episode of the Helsinki summit, I thought well he's pushing it a little far.
Now, I would have to say no, he's exactly correct and since then we also have Maria Butina who is clearly involved in spying in America. It probably doesn't constitute espionage under our very narrow espionage statute but it is clearly illegal. She is clearly an agent of the government and is doing things to influence the outcome of elections. And we need to protect ourselves and we're not doing it.
VELSHI: All right, we will pursue that story as well. We're following that very well. Jill Wine-Bank -- Wine-Banks and Jonathan Chait, thanks to both of you. I want to just play something to you. This has just happened. Lester Holt sat down with Chris Wray, the Director of the FBI at the Aspen Security Forum. This is what he told Lester.
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LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST: I wonder did you watch and what your reaction was to Vladimir Putin's denials of Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: Well, I didn't watch it live. I was in a meeting actually with some of my foreign counterparts, some of our closest foreign partners in the Intelligence Community but I certainly saw it afterwards. He's got his view, he's expressed his view. I can tell you what my view is. The Intelligence Community's assessment has not changed. My view has not changed which is that Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and that it continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day.
HOLT: Aimed at our political system?
WRAY: Aimed at sowing discord and divisiveness in this country. We haven't yet seen an effort to target specific election infrastructure this time but certainly other efforts what I would call malign influence operations are very active and we could be just a moment away from it going to the next level. So to me it's a threat that we need to take extremely seriously and respond to with you know, fierce determination and focus.
HOLT: This suggestion has been that it's Russia but there may be others. Are there others?
WRAY: Well, there's certainly other countries that are designed to in -- on a going-forward basis have their own ways of influencing our public opinion, our politicians, our business community but there's no question that Russia has been by far the most aggressive actor in the space that we're talking about right now?
HOLT: And you're seeing it in real time now that they continue?
WRAY: Absolutely, there's you know, efforts to what they I do is they will identify a divisive issue and through a variety of means some overt some covert, some through fake news, some through propaganda, will essentially sow divisiveness, spin people up on both sides of the issue, and then kind of watch us go at each other.
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VELSHI: All right, as one would expect, Christopher Wray on the same side as America's law enforcement and Intelligence Community about the evaluation that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections and more importantly continues to interfere in the 2018 midterms. Lester then asked him how much more of this he can take.
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HOLT: There have also been stories that you threatened to resign. Have you had -- have you ever hit a point on that issue of sources and methods or anywhere else where you said this is a line?
WRAY: You know, I'm a -- as I said I'm a low-key understated guy but that should not be mistaken for what my spine is made out of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We will bring more to you as we get that. Next, as the Trump White House continues to do damage control after the President's continued statements undercutting the Intelligence Committee, are his supporters buying the stories? I'm going to ask a Republican Congressman just that after the break.
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WRAY: The Intelligence Community's assessment has not changed. My view has not changed which is that Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and that it continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day.
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VELSHI: Pretty unequivocal. That's FBI Director Chris Wray at the Aspen Security Forum talking to Lester Holt. That interview has just taken place and we will bring you more of that. On Monday, Donald Trump took the side of an adversary over his own -- our own really Intelligence Community and act so damaging. He later walked it back with the absurd and entirely unbelievable explanation that a double negative was apparently too much for him to handle.
Today, he again undercut the nation's Intelligence Community by saying that Russia is still not targeting U.S. elections requiring yet another tortured explanation this time from Sarah Sanders that the President meant no more questions, not know to whether he believes that Russia is interfering. But some Trump supporters are saying these explanations unbelievable as they are somehow suffice. Joining me now is Kansas Republican congressman Roger Marshall. Congressman good to see you. Thank you for being with us. You -- maybe I'm wrong but I think you won the last election with about 66 percent of the vote?
REP. ROGER MARSHALL (R), KANSAS: That's that sounds right.
VELSHI: You're popular guy in a safely Republican state. Why do you -- why do you think that was a sufficient explanation. I mean, it's not going to hurt you to say what you really thought right? You heard the President say it, most people didn't believe it.
MARSHALL: Well, certainly I'm going to take the President at his word. I think that he made a mistake when he was speaking the first time and he corrected that and I'm happy with his explanation.
VELSHI: But you don't really believe that he made a mistake, right, Congressman. I mean, do you really? I just -- I got to know because it's not really plausible the way he said it. There was a whole press conference in which he reiterated the same sentiment over and over again but this was apparently the one sentence taken out of context.
MARSHALL: Boy, where I come from, a man's word is his bond. Consistently he said three or four different times over the past year that he understood that Russia was trying to interfere with our election. He's made that very, very clear so I'm going to take the man at his word. And I think I also have to look at his actions. Look at what he's done. This President has been tougher on Russia than any administration in recent history. So I think his actions match up with this words and I accept his explanation.
VELSHI: Well, your Congress has been tough on Russia with sanctions opposed. The administration hasn't actually lived up to the requirements that Congress actually voted on and imposed. So I'm not -- I'm not sure this President has been tougher. He also did say that he has faith in Vladimir Putin. I've got to ask you in a good Republican place like Kansas, is that going to go over well with your constituents?
MARSHALL: I think that we're all pretty suspicious on Mr. Putin in Kansas. I think you're right about that. But I certainly understand where President Trump is trying to go with this. You know, this old adage keep your friends close and your enemies closer. So the President's goals and my goals, they line up together. I want world peace. I want the nuclear weapons out of North Korea and if the President can use some triangular diplomacy with Russia to accomplish that then I'm OK with it.
VELSHI: Would you do that, Congressman? I mean, I hear you. I'm all for dialogue. You and I are on the show together, we can argue about it. But did that feel like good dialogue to you? Would your constituents support you going out there in the face of the evidence? I assume you believe the U.S. Intelligence Committee -- Community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and continues to do so in 2018?
MARSHALL: Certainly I have faith in our investigative forces, our law enforcement people that -- and I believe in that Russia has and is continuing to try to hack into lots of our systems but I also believe that the President is -- I'm going to give him some room and some rope. I'm not sure what was said behind closed doors but I think this President has a strategy and I think again his actions have been great. He's -- you know, sitting this was over there in the face of Russia. He's ticked out over fifty diplomats not just in the United States but also from United Nations. He's closed a consulate office in the state of Washington so I do think that this President's actions are lining up with his words that he has an ultimate goal for national security and peace. The apology tour is over with. This President means business when it comes to national security.
VELSHI: But you know, we're also -- we're not sure what happened behind closed doors. We'd be interested in that. Eric Swalwell was on a little while ago saying look, you could discount what you think about whether the President does or doesn't like Vladimir Putin or does or doesn't believe this but Congress has a role to play and can do lots of things to you know, close these loopholes and make sure that America actually does punish and prevent Russia from interfering in the 2018 elections. What are you prepared to do to assure your constituents that you're taking a hard line on this?
MARSHALL: Well, first of all, we've already done a lot. We recently allocated about $380 million to shore up all of our electoral processes back home. The Department of Homeland Security has visited with a thousand different electoral entities. They've been in 50 states so they're doing everything they can to shore up the process. There's very few days go by that and we don't talk about cybersecurity issues up here and holding the administration accountable so --
VELSHI: But actually your Congress actually defeated a bill that was going to increase funding for cybersecurity today.
MARSHALL: Well, I think we had a lot of cybersecurity money already out there. I think that the $380 million is enough to were to work on the election process. And certainly you know, engaging with our friends at the military and doing more cybersecurity acts as well so I think that we're putting some money -- we're putting a lot of money in the right direction.
VELSHI: We're going to be talking to somebody who says that Congress should call upon the interpreter who was in that meeting to testify. Would you support that?
MARSHALL: I don't think that's necessary. I think that President Trump has a job to do and some things do need to be said behind closed doors so I support the President. I think he has a plan in mind. I mean, just think about a year ago and we thought that the rule was coming to an end with North Korea that NATO was going to blow up but instead NATO was stronger today than it was and were closer to peace with North Korea. So let's give this president a little bit of rope in and have some faith in him.
VELSHI: Congressman, I can't -- I mean, you really think NATO was stronger than it was a week ago when President went to Brussels and called our European allies foes?
MARSHALL: I think the NATO was stronger today than she was a year ago or two years ago. I think the amount of money the investment by our allies there has been more than ever so -- and it's talking to our military folks here in D.C. at the Pentagon, I hear them say that NATO is indeed stronger.
VELSHI: Congressman, thanks for joining me tonight. I appreciate it. Congressman Roger Marshall of Kansas. Just ahead, there are only four people on the planet who actually know what happened in the meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. And now, members of Congress as I just mentioned are calling to depose one of them. We'll talk about whether that's even possible right after this.
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SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, (D) CALIFORNIA: I believe the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should hold a hearing with the American translator who was present during President Trump and President Putin's private meeting to determine what was specifically discussed and agreed to on the United States' behalf.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Only two Americans know what Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talked about behind closed doors on Monday for about two hours. One is president himself, the other is State Department translator Marina Gross.
Considering all the damning statements that came out about Donald Trump when Trump and Putin talked to a room full of reporters, one can only imagine what Trump said privately to Putin who, along with the Russian government, developed a clear preference for president-elect Trump during the 2016 campaign.
By the way, that is according to a U.S. intelligence report released last year, unless you don't actually believe those things.
One way to find out what was said during that meeting is to have the American translator answer some questions before congress.
Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts is one of the Democrats demanding that Trump's translator tell congress what happened in that meeting with Vladimir Putin. He joins me now.
REP. JOE KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Ali, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
VELSHI: What is the grounds -- I mean, I know what you want to get out of it. We are very curious about what was promised and whether there was a compromise to national security made in that meeting between Trump and Putin, but I guess in congress has to have grounds for asking for this sort of things. What is the grounds for asking for this translator to testify?
KENNEDY: One is basic common sense. So, let's start with that. There was a two-hour meeting between the president of the United States and Vladimir Putin -- and, look, heads of state will meet privately from time time to time. I have to problem with that.
One, we have got a series of issues that set this one apart. One, there was no set agenda by verbatim from the president of the United States himself going into that meeting. We have learned that there, in fact, was an agenda coming out of that meeting. We've learned that from Russia government officials as they've set forth, saying that they are willing to deal with the United States governments on the issues that came before the two presidents in that meeting, of which again, we still know nothing.
Three, you have -- I don't even really know where to begin on this one, there are now reports coming out that in exchange for additional information, or potential cooperation from Vladimir Putin with the 12 people that have been indicted by the special counsel before meddling and interfering directly in our elections, the 12 Russian officials, that the White House, the president of the United States, is considering allowing a former U.S. ambassador to be interrogated by Russian officials. This is stunning on a level that I can't even quite comprehend.
What he is essentially doing is equating the Russian interference in that investigation, the indictments that have returned, along with a conspiracy theory put forth by Putin and compromising the basis of foreign diplomacy and foreign policy, the likes of which I have never heard of before.
VELSHI: To your point about that unusual request by Vladimir Putin, FBI Director Chris Wray is at the Aspen Security Forum right now. He was just talking to Lester Holt, and Lester and him discussed this. Let's listen.
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LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: Well, the offer was made by Mr. Putin himself to allow U.S. agents to travel to Russia and to observe the questioning of suspects. Is that something -- do you think that's -- first of all, do you think it was a false promise? And is this something that you or the U.S. Justice Department would ever consider?
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Well, I think I will leave that one to Special Counsel Mueller, so...
HOLT: Moving beyond this case, in general, would you ever envision a world in which you would allow suspects to be interviewed by Russia and observed?
WRAY: Well, I never want to say never about anything, but it's certainly not high on our list of investigative techniques.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Congressman, the Russian president named Bill Browder and has asked for Mike McFaul, a former esteemed ambassador to Russia. This is unheard of.
KENNEDY: Unheard of, unprecedented. And, look, a number of questions as to whether this was discussed inside that meeting, questions about -- that President Trump referenced in another interview on Fox News about the strength of -- the backbone of NATO and Article Five and a mutual defense that does forms the foundation of that treaty.
Look, the bottom line, the American public needs to know, and has a right to know, what the president of the United States discussed in a two-hour long meeting with one of the great adversaries that we have today when it comes to geopolitics.
VELSHI: Would you be satisfied with a readout, congressman?
KENNEDY: I'd be satisfied with -- as long as there is sufficient detail for us to understand what actually transpired. What topics were brought up, and what promises were made by the president of the United States.
We deserve access to this information. The American public deserves access to this information. And let's be clear, I take no joy in pushing on this. I wish I didn't have to do this. I wish none of this happened. I wish that every -- this president in engaging with Russia, which all of us would like a better relationship there, but a better relationship that does not mean that you cede all of our national security interets to Vladimir Putin, and that seems to be what President Trump did in the -- instead of standing strong and standing up to him, and standing strong for America, he kowtowed to an authoritarian.
And as a member of congress, I can't believe I have to say this, but he shouldn't have done that. And so we need to understand what he did, and why he did it, and what the details are so that we can assert our constitutional role in oversight of the executive branch and our role in foreign policy.
VELSHI: And congressman, on the right of the screen that I am showing right now, we have got a live protest in Times Square, a protest against President Trump. We are also showing you pictures of a protest that is underway in D.C. We just saw Senator Richard Blumenthal -- there he is -- addressing a crowd outside of the White House.
These protests are going on around the country right now.
Congressman, do you -- have you had a chance to research what the legality is about this? Translators aren't policy makers. They are not official note takers. They're not like McFaul when he would go into these meetings with President Obama.
Can they be compelled to testify? What are the legal hurdles around this?
KENNEDY: So, look, there is unquestionably legal challenges with this. It is largely unprecedented. But let's be clear on this, I would hope that we wouldn't have to get there, because I would hope that the White House would recognize that the United States and our people have a compelling interest in this information.
And so one is just that they could give us that readout and absolve the need for any of this. And if they are not going to do that, then I do think that congress should subpoena the interpreter. And if they refuse and exert executive privilege, then force them to make that.
I have been in -- as a role of the member of congress, I've met with a number of heads of state, Ive traveled all over the world. Ive been in meetings with translators, and they take notes, very detailed notes, to have essentially word for word translation so that they can go back and forth between parties.
VELSHI: Right. You can be sure that the Russians recorded that conversation.
KENNEDY: Well, and I have no doubt that our ambassador -- or our translators was just as good. So, I expect that she actually has a pretty darned good readout as to what transpired.
We shouldn't have to subpoena her. We shouldn't -- none of this should have been necessary in the first place. But if the White House is going to act this way and hide behind closed doors and refuse to divulge what actaully transpired, then I'm sorry I think we have a right to understand it and a right to fight for the American public to make sure that they understand what happened too.
This should not be a fight. This should not be a debate. We should be moving on from these meetings about ways that we can engage with our allies around the world, stand strong on Russian aggression, find ways to cooperate where we can. And we do cooperate with Russia. And we should find those -- continue to find those.
This is not the way to do it. And it's stunning to me that this request was not outrightly rejected by the president of the United States. It's telling me that the press secretary even entertained it. I -- I'm at a bit of a loss for words.
VELSHI: I hear you. That is not a common place for you to be.
Congressman, good to see you. Thank you so much. Congressman Joe Kennedy. Thanks for making the time.
All right, here you see those pictures on the side of your screen a moment ago of New York and D.C., but still to come new details about this woman, the woman U.S. intelligence accuses of being an unregistered Russian agent. What we are learning about her ties to the Kremlin after this.
VELSHI: A federal judge today denied bail to the woman prosecutors say was a secret Russian agent who was directed by the Kremlin to infiltrate the NRA and ingratiate herself with top conservative politicians.
The judge ruling that Maria Butina must remain in jail until her trial after the government said she had been in constant contact with Russia's FSB intelligence agency and was a flight risk.
Butina pled not guilty today to charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent. Court documents in the case are full of the sort of details you would find in a spy novel, including that Butina allegedly offered sex in exchange for a position with a special interest organization, and that on the night Donald Trump was elected she messaged her then boss, Putin associate Alexander Torshin: "I am going to sleep. It's 3:00 a.m. I'm ready for further orders."
Joining me now are two people who are deeply knowledgable about this world, MSNBC political analyst and Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn, co-author of the book "Russian Roulette." Also with me is MSNBC intelligence analyst Malcolm Nance, author of the book the "Plot to Hack America."
Both of you have studied and written extensively on this. Welcome tonight.
David, let's start with you. This indictment, this action against this woman is not actually part of the Mueller investigation, but it sure is spicy. What do you make of it?
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, it shows this was another way that the Kremlin, that Russian intelligence, might have been trying to penetrate American politics.
They are very savvy. They basically got this woman, Maria Butina, and her boss, Alexander Torshin, to get - burrow their way into the world of the NRA, the Conservative Political Action Conference and other conservative groups where they would meet Republican officials and politicians and even during the campaign, the 2016 campaign, try to use those connections to broker a meeting between Trump and Putin.
And so this has been going on for years. It predates the cyber attack on the 2016 election. But there's a strong indication of how the Russians have a pretty good idea of how to gain influence in American politics and all to further their own advancement and to make Putin look good.
VELSHI: The NRA, Malcolm, is an interesting choice, because no one would question the fact that the NRA would be an organization that would have contact with Republican politicians, and in the case of the last election, went to great lengths and spent a lot of money in support of those candidates.
What do you make of this?
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: If you view Russia's objective as part of a strategic campaign, not just to get to the Trump campaign, that would come later on, but in order to actually start the cooption of the conservative movement in the United States just like they did with virtually every other conservative movement in Europe.
You can understand why they used this methodology to get into the Republican Party and establish an American beachhead for their influence campaign.
You know, I've seen these NRA propaganda pieces, and I have seen Maria Butina's activities in the posters and things that she was doing. They targeted the NRA specifically, because they saw the AK-47, Kalashnikov had stopped being imported by Barack Obama and there was a lot of anger about that. And they just saw it as a way to also bring along every other gun toting conservative to Moscow's point of view. So, they created this meta narrative around them.
VELSHI: Let's talk about this, David, what is this connection between the NRA -- it's been surfacing a little bit here and there over the course of this investigation -- what is the connection between the NRA and Russia?
CORN: Well, to begin with, the NRA spent tens of millions of dollars electing Donald Trump, right. It is a very big player in Republican and conservative politics.
So, if you want to have influence in this country, you are going to go where the money is. You're going to go where the -- no pun intended, the big guns are. And so they are getting into this. And they're bringing leaders of the NRA who also leaders throughout the conservative movement, people like David Keen (ph) who was president of the NRA, op-ed editor of The Washington Times, and head of the Conservative Political Action Conference, the big CPAC gathering each year that we show on MSNBC, right, you know bringing him to Moscow, you know, courting him, wining and dining him. You know, all over this shared affection for guns, which, you know, there really isn't a gun rights movement in Moscow, in Russia...
VELSHI: That's what I'm curious about, how these people are lifetime members of the NRA?
CORN: But they created a phony one in Russia to make friends, to make alliances with the U.S. NRA. So that's -- it's very sophisticated, very well thought out. It has been going on for years and it goes through this guy Alexander Torshin who is a senior official in Putin's own party, and a deputy chairman of the central bank.
And today we learned that Maria Butina, according to federal prosecutors, has been funded by a Russain oligarch who is really close to Putin. They didn't name the person, but they noted that -- she called him...
VELSHI: Believed to be Alexander Torshin.
CORN: No, no ,no, this is someone separate. This is beyond Torshin. This just came out this afternoon. They said a Russian oligarch, and one of Putin's closest advisers, a very close adviser to Putin, was funding her. So that putins Maria Butina, this 29-year-old, in the middle of Putin's inner circle.
VANCE: ...an American fifth column so to speak.
VELSHI: There's much more to learn about this story, what kind of money we're talking about, where it went, where it ultimately ended up. Thanks to you guys.
David Corn is the author of "Russian Roulette," Malcolm Nance is the author of "The Plot to Destroy Democracy." Thanks for your time, guys.
All right, don't go anywhere, my interview with the former White House stenographer who says she left because of the president's lies. She joins me ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have to say, I came back and I said, what is going on? What's the big deal? So, I got a transcript. I reviewed it. I actually went out and reviewed a clip and answer that I gave. And a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word would instead of wouldn't. The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That is never going to get old. President Trump keeps contradicting himself on what he thinks Russia would or wouldn't do. And you saw him there yesterday referring to the transcript to try and lessen the damage he did in Helsinki.
Well, the woman whose job it would normally be to produce the actual transcript of what the president said, the White House stenographer, quit because she believed the president lies to the American people.
In a New York Times op-ed she wrote, quote, "it is clear that White House stenographers do not serve his administration, but rather his adversary, the truth."
Former White House stenographer Beck Dorey-Stein is the author of "From the Corner of the Oval," her memoir. And she joins me now.
Let's start with -- first of all, we never see the White House stenographer, right?
BECK DOREY-STEIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE STENOGRAPHER: No.
VELSHI: This is an army of people who do these things that we don't really know about. What does the White House stenographer do?
DOREY-STEIN: So, there are actually only five of us. And we are these discrete people. We find a corner. And our role is really just to blend in to our surroundings and record everything the president says to the press.
So, in an Oval Office interview, we would go in. We'd put a recorder down on the coffee table and go across the room and just get to listen to make sure a reporter didn't accidentally misquote the president in the interview.
VELSHI: Are you taking notes as wel as the recording that's going on?
DOREY-STEIN: We're not even taking notes. We have two recorders. We are there. And, yeah, we would take notes sometimes, but really those recorders are recording the truth.
VELSHI: So, you refer to the stenographer being the first line of defense. The president said, I went back and looked over the transcript, right. That's what somebody would do. If somebody accuses you of saying something he believe you didn't say, you either look at the recording or you look at the transcript.
DOREY-STEIN: Indeed. And so, yeah, so it would be very easy. But of why I left is actually because I felt like President Trump wasn't utilizing the stenographer, but I felt like there was no respect for our role. And so it was like why am I here if they're not using us.
VELSHI: Meaning he didn't want the conversations recorded?
DOREY-STEIN: It didn't seem like it. We weren't invited to a lot of the interviews in the beginning. And then even on Air Force One when I flew down to Mar-a-Lago, he had a press gaggle with the entire press pool and didn't tell the stenographer, so I wasn't there for that.
So, they really weren't using us the way that every previous administration since Reagan was using the White House stenographers.
VELSHI: Let's talk about -- because I just had a converastion with representative Joe Kennedy, one of the people who are saying that the person who was in the meeting -- there were two other peopl eother than Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump in that meeting. They were translators, not the same as stenographers, not the official notetakers, not the ambassadors who sometimes go into these things, but two other humans who know what went on.
And this has become a hot discussion, because some people are saying we would like to subpoena these people, or at least the American and bring her to congress. That is interesting.
DOREY-STEIN: That is interesting.
I would be interested to see that happen. Why not? Let's talk to the translator.
VELSHI: Is that good or bad?
DOREY-STEIN: I mean, any help we can get, it's sad that it has come to this point where we're now asking a translator to do what we have stenographers there to do. But, sure...
VELSHI: But we didn't have a stenographer in there. Clearly...
DOREY-STEIN: And we were there. I'm sure there was a stenographer there at the ready. There might even have been a stenographer and they're say, oh, who knows, because sometimes he doesn't even use the recordings that we have.
VELSHI: So, what about the argument that sometimes the president of the United States has business that is so important that it's not for the public to see or hear or for there to be a record of?
DOREY-STEIN: What do you mean?
VELSHI: Well, what if we're not supposed to find out what was going on in that meeting between Donald Trump and Vladamir Putin, because it was really important stuff because the president was saying to Vladamir Putin, I'm on to you, man, don't try this stuff.
DOREY-STEIN: Oh, I don't think so. I think if that were the case we would certainly have a transcript because that would make all the Republicans in congress happier and it would make their jobs much easier.
You know, it's a bad day when I'm acxtually cheering for Mitch McConnell, because Mitch McConnell is even saying, no, Russia is not our ally and we need to be tougher on Russia.
VELSHI: The readouts that often come out of these meetings, is that based on the recording that the stenographer would have, or is it because somebody else is around there to say, you know, sometimes we don't get transcripts but we get some a sense of this was discussed.
DOREY-STEIN: Right. Usually there are senior advisors, there are other people in the room, because there is nothing more dangerous -- also, Russia is not our ally, so especially with someone like Vladamir Putin who, you know, has created all sorts of problems for us right now, of course there would be other people.
VELSHI: So, hence, your first line of defense, that if you had a stenographer there, you can say, here's our notes, show us yours?
DOREY-STEIN: Yeah, exactly.
Here's our transcripts. Here are our recordings. We have all of these things. The whole idea is we need to protect ourselves first.
VELSHI: What is the difference between the work you did while Barack Obama was in office versus Donald Trump?
DOREY-STEIN: It could not have been more different. It was everyday we knew exactly what we were covering. If there was a sudden change in his schedule, we were the first to know about it. We would go to the Oval if there was breaking news, if he had to make a press briefing. We were on the same team as the administration, because they valued, hey, we need to stay transparent with the American people. We need to have a transcript of this. We need to have it for the presidential archive, which is beyond any single administration.
We were hired to be impartial. So, the same with George W. Bush. They loved the stenographers. George W. Bush used to say, I love the stenos when he was walking out of a room, because it was like we're there to really protect them. To make sure they're not misquoted.
VELSHI: Thanks Dorey-Stein, thanks joining us.
DOREY-STEIN: That's it for All In this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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