Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: July 19, 2018 Guest: Richard Blumenthal
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: 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.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Breaking news, the White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Say that again?
VELSHI: The president invites Vladimir Putin to Washington.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Getting along with Russia is positive.
VELSHI: As he leaves his own officials in the dark.
COATS: I don`t know what happened in that meeting.
VELSHI: Tonight, the new reporting on what the President promised to Putin and what to expect in their second meeting. Plus, the Republican response to Democratic measures to reign in the President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump derangement syndrome has officially come to the Senate.
VELSHI: My interview with the Putin critic the President considered turning over to Russia.
TRUMP: I think that`s an incredible offer.
VELSHI: And breaking news on the numbers of children separated from their families by the Trump administration 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`s summit with Vladimir Putin earlier this week went so well. He wants to do it again only this time he wants to do it in Washington and he wants to do it this fall right before midterm elections. All of that was news to the President`s own Director of National Intelligence who happened to be in the middle of a live interview with NBC`s Andrea Mitchell when the White House announced the President`s invitation.
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MITCHELL: We have some breaking news, the White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.
COATS: Say that again.
MITCHELL: Vladimir Putin come --
COATS: Did I hear -- did I hear you --
MITCHELL: Yes, yes.
COATS: That`s going to be special.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Coats has been sounding the alarm about Russia`s potential to disrupt the midterms. He put out a statement contradicting his boss earlier this week after the President publicly took Putin`s side against the U.S. Intelligence Community over whether Russia interfered in the 2016 elections. Now, despite the widespread outrage and alarm over the President`s performance on Monday which sparked protests in Times Square and outside the White House last night, the President tweeted this morning "the summit with Russia was a great success except with the real enemy of the people, the fake news media. I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed."
You hear that? The press is the real enemy of the people. The President wants to use his second meeting with Putin to start implementing what they discussed this week but we don`t know what they discussed this week because the two of them along with their interpreters were the only ones in the room. And his interview with Andrea Mitchell today DNI Coates acknowledged that no one -- no one including him, the Director of National Intelligence knows exactly what happened behind closed doors.
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MITCHELL: The President was alone with Vladimir Putin for two hours -- more than two hours with only translators. Basically, how do you know what happened? You are in the dark side of the moon, how do you have any idea what happened in that meeting?
COATS: Well, you`re right. I don`t know what happened in that meeting. I think as time goes by and the President has already mentioned some things that happened in that meeting. I think we will learn more but that is the President`s prerogative. If he had asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way but that`s not my role, that`s not my job so it is what it is.
MITCHELL: Is there are a risk that Vladimir Putin could have recorded it?
COATS: That risk is always there.
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VELSHI: Now, already the Kremlin is claiming the President made commitments that have not been announced by the White House. Bloomberg reports that in a private speech today Putin told Russian diplomats that he made a proposal to the President. Listen to this to hold a referendum to help resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine but agreed not to disclose the plan publicly so the president could consider it. That`s according to two anonymous sources who attended the speech and it comes right after the Russian Ambassador to the United States told reporters yesterday that quote important verbal agreements were reached between the two leaders. We have yet to hear from the White House about any such agreements or any proposal for Ukraine but we did just learn an incredibly important bit of context about the President`s relationship to Putin.
According to the New York Times confirmed in part by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper the President was informed in January of 2017 that the man he just invited to the White House personally directed Russia`s election interference. The Times reports that when the president- elect was briefed by four senior intelligence officials these four here a couple of weeks before his inauguration, he was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that Putin had personally ordered complex cyber- attacks to sway the election including texts and e-mails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Putin himself now this is according to almost a dozen people who either attended that meeting or who were briefed on it later though it hasn`t been confirmed by NBC News. Clapper who was one of the four briefers appeared to confirm the gist of the story in interviews with CNN and today his successor Dan Coats told Andrea Mitchell that all roads lead back to Putin.
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COATS: I think anybody who thinks that rally, where Putin doesn`t have his stamp on everything that happens in Russia, is misinformed. It is very clear that virtually nothing happens there of any kind of consequence that Vladimir Putin doesn`t know about or hasn`t ordered I think we`re pretty sure about that.
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VELSHI: I`m joined right here in the studio by Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut who was outside the White House, by the way, protesting last night if you`re watching this show you would have seen him. Senator, Vladimir Putin has been invited to Washington, perhaps Donald Trump will give him the keys to the city or perhaps, more importantly, the keys to some ballot boxes. The Fox as it were has been officially invited into the chicken coop.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (R), CONNECTICUT: He already has many of those cyber keys to the ballot boxes which is the reason that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats alerted us that the red lights are blinking again like they did before 9/11. We are at a moment of national emergency and that moment with Andrea Mitchell will be historic. The Director of National Intelligence knows nothing about a meeting between the Commander- in-Chief and the leader of an adversary more than an adversary an enemy who right now is attacking our country that attack is ongoing and pervasive according to Coats and it is proved by objective and verifiable information, again, his words. So inviting Putin to come here when you look at that indictment but against 12 Russian spies directed by Putin himself to attack this country makes him an alleged criminal and the president is inviting him to the White House even before we have finished the damage control from that first meeting.
VELSHI: I want you to hold that thought on one side and then I want to play for you. You`ve heard this I`m sure but it`s what Senator Rand Paul has said about the response to Donald Trump`s visit to Russia, visit to Helsinki and what he said because I want to try and see how we reconcile this. Let`s listen to Rand Paul.
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SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Trump derangement syndrome has officially come to the Senate. The hatred for the President is so intense that partisans would rather risk war than give diplomacy a chance. This is crazy partisanship that is driving this. For goodness sakes, we don`t excuse Russia`s behavior in our election but we don`t have to have war. We can still have engagement.
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VELSHI: I`m puzzled by the line that says if you believe that Russia interfered and attacked our democratic processes then it must mean that you`re for war. I think none of us want war and some of us of a certain age have experienced with the horrors of war. I don`t think that`s what anybody`s calling for.
BLUMENTHAL: And one of the roads to war as history shows us is in fact appeasement, giving dictatorial and totalitarian leaders who care nothing about human rights the path to simply devour countries as happened before world war two as has happened in other wars and so stopping this aggressor who is attacking not only ourselves, Ali, but all Western democracy. Part of his M.O. part of Putin`s playbook is, in fact, to undermine and divide and sow discord in Western democracies and expand his own spheres of influence so we need to ally with each other, come together and far from Trump derangement.
Let me just emphasize to you. Today in the United States Senate, there was a vote 98 to zero to say to Donald Trump we will not permit you to turn over American diplomats or public servants so they can be interrogated by the Russian GRU or by Vladimir Putin, a KGB thug. And earlier today, unfortunately, a resolution to impose greater sanctions or expedite the enforcement of present sanctions was defeated because a single Republican objected but there`s a lot of bipartisan support here. It is not about partisan divisions.
VELSHI: And later on I`m going to have Bill Browder on who was the person named by Vladimir Putin as somebody they`d like to investigate. Senator, good to see you. Thank you for being here with us tonight, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. For more on the President`s invitation to Vladimir Putin I`m joined by MSNBC National Security Analyst Evelyn Farkas former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Jeremy Bash former Chief of Staff to the CIA Director and the Secretary of Defense, also an MSNBC National Security Analyst. Evelyn, let me start with you. For our allies, this has been a tough few weeks an unnecessary trade war followed by being called foes by the president and now the man who represents the greatest threat to some of them is being given an honor that is limited to very few people an invitation to Washington what`s your hot take?
EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Oh my God. My hot take is, first of all, I feel like I`m in the middle of a Hollywood thriller right smack dab in the middle of the worst part and I imagine that the European allies feel the same way they are actually kind of moving on, Ali. I mean, you saw just the day before yesterday they signed -- the E.U. signed a free trade agreement with Japan. I`m guessing that on the defense side well maybe their defense spending will go up now because they feel like they can`t rely on us but certainly those frontline states the ones that are most worried about Russia attacking either through conventional war or other cyber or other means are going to be nervous so I you know right now we look like the most unreliable ally but we also look weak and scattered and disorganized and I -- you know, I just don`t understand why Congress doesn`t stand up and really a pass some legislation that has teeth in it.
VELSHI: Well, let me let me tell you about that for a second because Representative Jeff Jim Jordan when talking about a democratic resolution to increase spending on more election security tweeted this. He said well actually somebody tweeted this about what he said he said I know what we need for safe and secure elections and that`s voter I.D. so this is part of the problem. Until we`re all on board accepting the fact that interference are in our elections is serious this is why this happens. Jeremy, I want you but your Intelligence Community hat on, your CIA hat on because James Clapper talking to CNN this morning was worried about something that has happened before and that is that the President has shared classified information with the Russians, information that he wasn`t supposed to share which really affects us when that happens. When people don`t trust that the President can control classified information, that becomes a problem. Listen to what Clapper said.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any fear that President Trump might have even inadvertently shared some of that with Vladimir Putin?
JAMES CLAPPER, Well, yes, there`s no telling what may have been exposed either at that meeting in Helsinki or in their earlier encounters. Yes, that makes -- it makes me really nervous.
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VELSHI: Jeremy, (INAUDIBLE) May 15, 2017 when the President revealed classified information at the White House, this is a big problem.
JEREMY BASH, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I don`t know yet whether this was malpractice or malfeasance when the president did that with the Russians in the Oval Office. But fundamentally, Ali, we don`t know what he talked to Vladimir Putin for two hours one on one with only the translators about. And I was in the room today with DNI Coats when Andrea had interviewed him and then told him live on camera that in fact, another Putin summit was in the offing and that the President United States had invited Vladimir Putin to Washington this fall. And when Andrea`s producer handed her that note and she told that to DNI Coats, you could hear an audible gasp in the room and of course, you saw Coat`s reaction. And it had come after about 20 minutes of questioning in which DNI coats was crystal clear that the Russians were responsible, no other party was responsible and it had been authorized by Putin and designed to help Donald Trump.
VELSHI: So Evelyn, after meetings of this nature, you know, some of them have actual ambassadors in the more note-takers and some have interpreters but usually there`s a readout right? Both sides sort of tell the media and the public what was broadly discussed and they should both sort of match up both sides and they`re generally off just by a little bit, maybe sometimes it`s about tone but we didn`t that. What we got today was a tweet from the President saying really excited to follow up on and then he listed a bunch of things which seemed a little reverse engineered after all the negative press of the last three days that they said oh well let`s say we talked about this and this, and this, and this, and this because it didn`t come up in the meeting, it didn`t come up in the press briefing afterwards that they had addressed a number of these issues that the President claims they`ve talked about.
FARKAS: Well the most problematic thing, Ali, is that I think the first thing we heard about what they might have discussed or agreed to was coming from the Russian Ambassador here in Washington D.C. and so I think that`s most problematic and that`s to be expected a lot of us who looked at this upcoming meeting with no senior aides in the room, no senior officials besides the president -- the two presidents said you know, how are we going to know on the U.S. side what`s going to come out of it, the Russians are going to tell the world first which is what they did in that other Oval Office meeting that you just referenced with Jeremy. So it`s troubling that the Russians are telling the world because they`re not trustworthy.
And normally, what happens is you have a meeting like this and then there`s a quick kind of summary that you circulate inside the U.S. government very close hold sensitive that goes kind of -- you know, I work for the Secretary of Defense as did Jeremy and you know there`ll be a quick summary that would go to the cabinet officials who weren`t there. But then there`s an agreed statement if it`s a -- if it`s a country that you`re an ally with then you kind of work it out together what are we going to say. If it`s not an ally then you do your own press you know summary and you don`t worry about it too much. But this is unusual. I mean, we have a democracy. You don`t have two leaders meeting in secret you know, I mean I this is unprecedented. So I think that`s where Congress also needs to you know exhibit some of its iron if you will.
VELSHI: Evelyn, Jeremy, good to see you both. Thank you for helping us out tonight. Next, much more from a truly revealing interview that we just made reference to with DNI Dan Coats and what he said about the meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. We`ll break down more of the news that came out today with Andrea Mitchell herself right after this.
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MITCHELL: Did you know beforehand that Kislyak and Lavrov, the Ambassador and the Foreign Minister we`re going into the Oval Office that day?
COATS: I did not.
MITCHELL: What was your reaction afterwards? We all learned about it from (INAUDIBLE)
COATS: Probably that`s the best thing to do but no I was not aware of that.
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VELSHI: That was one of the big takeaways from today`s exclusive interview between Dan Coats and NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell is that the Director of National Intelligence seems to be out there on an island. Aside from admitting to not having any advanced knowledge of Trump`s Oval Office meeting with Russian officials last May in which according to the Washington Post Trump revealed highly classified information, Coats also admitted to not being briefed on what Putin and Trump talked about behind closed doors for two hours in Helsinki.
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MITCHELL: Basically how do you know what happened. You were in the dark side of the moon, how do you have any idea what happened in that meeting?
COATS: Well, you`re right I don`t know what happened in that meeting. If you had asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way but that`s not my role, that`s not my job so it is what it is.
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VELSHI: At one point, Coats said he was just doing his job when he felt the need to correct the President on Monday after the President suggested there had been no reason for Russia to interfere in the 2016 elections. We`ll discuss that in a bit but at other times he sounded like his job was to give the President the benefit of the doubt.
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COATS: Obviously I wished he had made a different statement but I think that now that has been clarified based on his late reactions to this and so I don`t think I want to go any further than that.
MITCHELL: Well, in the Cabinet Room, one of the statements that you refer to his clarifications, he said I accept our Intelligence Community`s conclusion that Russia`s meddling in the 2016 election took place could be other people also. Could be other people also? What does he know that you don`t know?
COATS: Well, "could" is not a definitive word here that -- could someone else be looking at how to do this relative to our elections, possibly rogue states whatever. We know others have potential capability but it`s undeniable that the Russians are taking the lead on this.
VELSHI: I guess it all depends on the meeting of "could." To more -- talk more about that conversation I`m joined by the person who conducted that remarkable interview, the remarkable news, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell. Andrea, there were so many interesting parts about that but as Senator Blumenthal was just saying the piece that will go down in history is when you gave us the breaking news that the President of Russia has been invited to Washington and the DNI didn`t know that information.
MITCHELL: Well, I was stunned too, but then again I`m not in charge of National Intelligence. There has been some reporting out of the White House that perhaps the President was watching and did that deliberately to Dan Coats. I have no way of knowing that of course. I can`t be a mind reader but it`s clear that this is a man who has been twice elected to the Senate. He was an Ambassador to Germany. He`s very committed to public service. He is determined to defend the agencies that he leads from any political interference and he remarkably did speak out after the President`s news conference in Helsinki. And I think frankly he deserves a lot of credit for that.
VELSHI: Andrea, Dan Coats is well liked. He`s experienced, he is capable. I guess the question is why the President puts these people around him and doesn`t listen to them. In the beginning, there was all this talk about the deep state and we know he didn`t love the State Department of what it did and he didn`t believe in that sort of soft power. But then all these people are his. He hand-picked him. He as the President has expressed no beef about Dan Coats. What does the President get for not listening to the people around him?
MITCHELL: He gets into a lot of trouble because these are the professionals. These are the intelligence agencies and the FBI and you heard the same kind of pushback from Christopher Wray in his interview with Lester Holt last night. These are two leaders of law enforcement agency and intelligence agencies, the 16 intelligence agencies and they believe that their job is to defend and protect the United States. That`s, of course, the oath that the President took but they feel they have to correct him as best they can when he disagrees with the intelligence assessment.
And you heard Chris Wray defending you know Bob Mueller and you`ve now heard Dan Coats saying that there is no doubt that Vladimir Putin the former KGB operative which he pointed out is responsible for everything that happens in terms of policy and covert action from Russia and that anything that is done against the election and he said Russia is the worst perpetrator is done by Putin himself that that was the assessment back in January of 2017. They have reassessed it constantly and it is still true today. Whatever the President`s wavering opinions in switching back and forth he`s at least landed in a better place in these latest interviews and I think that`s why you heard sort of ambivalent statements from Dan Coats hoping that the President stays in that place. Yes, I`m only laughing because you said he`s been in the right place in the last couple interviews who knows what`s happened since our conversation began a few minutes ago. Andrea, thanks so much. Andrea Mitchell in Aspen at these --
MITCHELL: Thanks for having me.
VELSHI: All right, coming up, my interview with the Putin critic that President Trump considered handing over to Russia. I`ll ask him why Putin mentioned him by name in the Helsinki press conference next.
VELSHI: If you`re keeping track from home, one of the many low point from Donald Trump`s disastrous news conference on Monday with Vladimir Putin came when Putin said U.S. officials could interview the 12 Russian intelligence agents indicted by Robert Mueller for hacking the 2016 election, but only if Russia got access to high profile Americans that Russia accuses of criminal activity. Trump seemed to love that idea.
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TRUMP: What he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that is an incredible offer.
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VELSHI: Not everybody thinks that is an incredible offer, but Putin specifically mentioned that he wanted access to Bill Browder, who successfully pushed for passage of a law known as the Magnitsky Act. It allows the U.S. government to freeze the assets of human rights violators, including the Russians tied to the 2009 torture and murder of Browder`s former lawyer, this man, Sergei Magnitsky, after Magnitsky uncovered a massive Russian government corruption scheme targeting Browder`s company.
Trump`s expression of enthusiasm for giving Russia access to Browder, potentially, along with former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and others, prompted a massive outcry. But that didn`t stop the White House from maintaining, as recently as yesterday, that it was seriously considering Putin`s offer.
Finally, today, Sarah Sanders released a statement reading, quote, "it is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it."
Joining me now is the man who voluntarily answers our questions, but to whom Vladmir Putin is desparately trying to gain access, Bill Browder, the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, and the author of "Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man`s Fight for Justice."
Bill, good to see you again.
When people ask what Russia`s motivation would be for attacking our elections and affecting the outcome, and you look back to taht now infamous meeting in Trump Tower, the Russian lawyer who attended, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had been actively campaigning about to discredit you. I think she went as far as to make a movie about you, because discrediting you and by extension the Magnitsky Act, is very close to the top of Vladimir Putin`s to-do list.
BILL BROWDER, CEO, HERMITAGE CAPITAL: Yeah, indeed.
Basically, her job was to go in and try to get the Magnitsky Act repealed because Vladimir Putin doesn`t like the Magnitsky Act. He doesn`t like the Magnitsky Act because it sanctions the assets, freezes the assets, of corrupt Russian officials. And since he has a lot of assets in the west, his assets could potentially be frozen and he feels very exposed by that.
VELSHI: Bill, the fact is, though, overturning the Magnitsky Act would be very hard to do. IT passed congress overwhelmingly. But there is at least one member of the U.S. congress who has been willing to work on behalf of the Russians to defeat you and your movement.
BROWDER: Indeed, the one member of congress is Dana Rohrabacher, Republican from Orange County, California. And just amazingly, Rahrabacher was working directly with Natalia Veselnitskaya, and with other members of the Putin regime, to try to overturn the Magnitsky Act, and he tried to organize hearings in congress to run an anti-Magnitsky film, he tried to take Sergey Magnitsky`s name off the piece of legislation. He tried to block the global Magnitsky Act from going through gcongress, this guy was very, very active, very, very enthusiastic, and working hand-in-glove with the Russians.
VELSHI: Bill, oligarchs and the people who are targeted by the Magnitsky Act make Putin rich. Targeting you is actually about Putin`s personal enrichment, and maybe Trump`s affinity and connection to Putin is exactly that, that Trump helps Putin get Magnitsky repealed, Putin gets richer, and somehow enriches Trump?
BROWDER: Well, you know, the logic of connecting all the dots is still just speculation. What we do know is that Putin hates the Magnitsky Act. Putin has been trying everything possible to get it repealed. He sent Natalia Veselnitskaya in to Trump Tower Jr. -- to Trump Tower to meet Donald Trump Jr. with a list of talking points. And then two years later, Vladimir Putin meets directly with Donald Trump with the same talking points.
They`re absolutely determined to get this Magnitsky Act repealed. We don`t know what Trump`s -- what Putin`s hold over Trump is. In a certain way, the administration, Trump`s administration, has been quite tough using the Magnitsky Act on Russians, but it doesn`t line up with Donald Trump`s statements about Vladimir P, tin which don`t make any sense to me.
VELSHI: Let me ask you, Bill, maybe it was a month ago, or a month and a half ago, I was traveling abroad and learned that you had been arrested in Spain on the thing that`s the very title of your book, a "Red Notice", right, INTERPOL warrant had gone out for your arrest. That actually happens with some frequency.
BROWDER: So, the Russians -- so, if you look at what happened in Helsinki, Vladimir Putin was asking Donald Trump to basically hand me over to the Russians. It`s not the only attempt they have made. They have gone seven times to INTERPOL to issue warrants for my arrest. They`ve gone 12 times with the same request to the British government. Thankfully, both INTERPOL and the British government have rejected them, rejected these requests out of hand.
The strange thing is that it took three days for Donald Trump to reject it.
VELSHI: So, how do you feel about that? I mean, your name gets mentioned. It`s got to send a bit of a chill down your spine. I know you are used to this, and this has been going on for years with you, but still the idea that your name was mentioned at a press conference by the president of Russia with the president of the United States.
The only thing I would want happen if my name were Bill Browder is for Donald Trump to turn to Vladimir Putin and say absolutely no way, but it took three days to say kind of not really interested. It wasn`t even an absolutely no way.
BROWDER: It is inexplicable. I mean, so when Pompeo was -- Secretary of State Pompeo, was given this question, he said no way. When his State Department spokesman was given the question, no way. When congress was given the question, 98-0 no way. And so it makes no sense to me why there was a three-day gap.
VELSHI: All right, Bill, good to see you safe and free. Bill Browder, thanks for joining me.
Ahead, one of my next guests says the actions by the president demand a debate on whether treason is being committed within the White House.
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TRUMP: I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
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VELSHI: It was bizarre statements like that which caused former CIA director John Brennan., who is an MSNBC national security analyst, to call the president`s performance in Helsinki, quote, nothing short of treasonous.
And the former CIA chief of Russian operations tweeted, "from an intelligence -- a counterintelligence perspective, something is going behind the scenes. Before Helsinki, I was less sure. Post-Helsinki, I feel sick."
And so today in an opinion piece in The Washington Post, the issue is put front and center, quote, "based on the actions of the Trump administration this week, reasonable people can disagree over whether treason is being committed." Article III of the U.S. constitution says that treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
The writer of that Washington Post piece joins me now. Daniel Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, along with MSNBC contributor Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama. Welcome to both of you tonight.
Daniel, let me start with you, because you seemed shocked that we have reached the point that you would even be writing those words about treason and the president of the United States. A year and a half ago, someone would have called that, as Rand Paul said Trump derangement syndrome and thinking that that was a far out view, but now it is narrowing and narrowing down in terms of what the possibilities are.
DANIEL DREZNER, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: The question has been when we deal with Trump or we deal with any president we disagree with when they do something that we find genuinely shocking, do you explain this through incompetence, or do you explain this through malevolence?
And, you know, I teach political science, and I know how people generally work. And, you know, nine times out of 10 I`ll take the incompetance story. But the way that the Trump White House`s behavior over the past two weeks in this European trip, either we are talking about radical incompetence -- and I`m not ruling that out, to be clear -- or we are talking about malevolence. Why does Trump want to have a meeting, one-on- one with Putin with absolutely no note takers? You know, why does he tweet out things that indicates that he actually prefers Vladimir Putin to the U.S. mainstream media, which he considers, frankly, you know, an enemy of his.
It is almost a question of his revealed preferences, which is Trump prefers foreigners who like him to Americans who are loyal Americans but nonetheless disagree with him. And I find that incredibly disturbing.
And, as I said, you know, we talk about this -- a common saying in Washington is the notion that reasonable people can disagree on something. And the very fact that reasonable people can disagree on whether or not we are talking about treason or high crimes and misdemeanors, or what have you, I find genuinely shocking and seriously nauseating.
VELSHI: Joyce, you know, I read what the constitution says about treason, and I don`t know how one proves it, and particularly since we don`t have a lot of information, we are all just puzzled as to why the president would be acting this way.
But there is a broader concept that you talk about when it comes to treason. Maybe there isn`t a legal bar that can be met, but in terms, as we have discussed, as Daniel has said, in terms of the reasons for this behavior, if we decided it is not utter incompetence, because we know the president is supported by smart people, we know guys like Dan Coates are competent experienced individuals, then we start looking for other explanations.
JOYCE VANCE, FRM. U.S. ATTORNEY: You know, we think about treason as being a betrayal of trust. I think that is what is at the core of this concept. But for federal prosecutors, you actually have to prove every specific element that is established in a statute to have a conviction. So, that is difficult for treason, among other reasons because you have to prove that we were at war with a country, in a formal state of war, with the country that the defendant allegedly provided aid to.
That can`t happen here. We are not at war with Russia.
But the same set of facts that Daniel references could be used in the political context up on the Hill to form a basis for impeachment. And congress could characterize it however they wanted to. So there is a real difference here between a legal criminal proceeding and what might happen in the political process.
VELSHI: Betrayal is a concept that can exist in congress and can be bandied around.
Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona alluded to that on the Senate floor today. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: What isn`t a mystery is that by choosing to reject object reality in Helsinki, the president let down a free world by giving aid and comfort to an enemy of democracy. In so doing, he dimmed the light of freedom ever so slightly at our own country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: So Daniel, that is interesting, because Jeff Flake used the words that the constitution uses with respect to treason. And he called Russia an enemy of democracy. But really he said the thing that may be more important over the last two weeks in the president`s behavior both in Canada and in Great Britain and in Brussels and then in Helsinki and that he has let down the free world.
Brett Stevens of The New York Times was talking to me the other day, and he said I don`t know that Donald Trump believes in a free world. That`s a different thing than proving treason, but it is definitely something we do not expect from the president of the United States
DREZNER: The way I would put it is the following: you know, in international relations if you are trying to figure out what are our core national interests, if we are trying to assess, you know, national security threats, we are in a situation now where frankly I think the biggest national security threat to the United States resides in the Oval Office in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Now, it may be -- and I certainly take -- you know, I will defer to the legal question about the fact that it is really high statutory bar to proving treason. But in some ways it almost doesn`t matter whether the president is radically incompetent or just malevolent. The point is, is that he is managing to wreck the edifice of American foreign policy that has generally served our country`s interests for the last 70 to 80 years. And he`s not suggesting anything in its place, except apparently him paling around with Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping or Kim Jong-un.
Now, to be fair, again, you would want, you know, the president to have, you would want the United States to have reasonably productive relationships with other great powers and you prefer negotiating with North Korea to many of the alternatives. But there is doing this well and there is doing this incompetently, and he is doing it incompetently.
VELSHI: Or something else. We will have to see.
Guys, thanks very much for joining me tonight, Daniel Drezner and Joyce Vance.
Tonight, there is breaking news from the federal court in the charge of making sure the Trump administration is reuniting the families they separated. Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley on the new numbers that have just come out ahead.
VELSHI: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stuck to the Trump line at the Aspen Securiyt Forum today, even on one of the lowest moments of his presidency the false equivalency the president made about, quote, violence on many sides in Charlottesville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he placed blame, in his words, on both sides. Does that make your job harder when the president says things that, at least in those communities, are viewed as, he has our back?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We have to work with everyone, to help communities understand what are the warning signs, what are ways in which we can prepare. And that`s -- no matter who it is. I think what`s important about that conversation is it`s not that one side is right, one side is wrong, anybody that is advocating violence we need to work to mitigate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, just to be clear, when asked about Donald Trump`s infamous both sides line about Charlottesville, Kirstjen Nielsen`s response there was to echo the president`s abhorrent comments. And remember, this is the woman in charge of cleaning up the Trump administration`s family separation mess.
We have new new numbers to bring you tonight about those separated children. They`re coming up right after this break.
VELSHI: Breaking news tonight, new data on how many immigrant children remain separated from their parents just one week from a court ordered deadline to reunite those families. The government blew a July 10 deadline to reunite the youngest children with their parents. And the Trump administration still refuses to admit the damage it`s done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of child psychologists have said publicly, they say this amounts to child abuse. Is this child abuse being imposed, enforced by the American government?
NIELSEN: I think that we have 2,000 children who need our care in terms of being reunited with their parents and we`re working very hard on doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Well, they didn`t need reuniting with their parents until the U.S. government separated them.
Here the help me understand today`s data, two reporters who have broken the story after story on family separation.
NBC`s Julia Ainsley from Aspen, Colorado, and MSNBC`s Jacob Soboroff who is here with me in New York. And they have the bylines on this breaking news story on NBCNews.com.
Let me start with you, Jacob. We have new numbers on the parents and children.
JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC: 364 kids so far out of this class,2,551 of the total kids that have been separated have been reunited, that`s only 14 percent, Ali, and the deadline to reunify all of these children is coming up a week from tonight. They should all be back together with their parents, if it was up to the federal government, a week from tonight. Only 14 percent of them have been reunited so far.
And let me just remind everybody, it`s been over a month since myself and other journalists were inside those facilities in Brownsville, Texas and down in McAllen seeing the kids in the cages, and far longer than that since the administration announced this policy and was doing a pilot program to separate kids long before that. So, these kids have been detained for months.
We also know, huge news tonight, 719 of those parents have what are called final orders of removal and that means that those parents could be deported immediately after the reunification has happened.
VELSHI: Wow, this is a remarkable story.
Julia, I thought the responses by Secretary Nielsen to Peter were a little puzzling, because the government seems to be describing the difficulty in fulfilling the completion of something that they created.
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS: That`s right, Ali.
She did not commit to meeting that deadline that Jacob just pointed out is only a week from tonight. She instead insisted that they were not going to cut any corners. But as the lawyers who are representing these separated parents have pointed out, this is not the same vetting process that you would need to reunionine a child, say, with someone who is going to take care of them in foster care, these were their biological parents that they were taken from.
So, a lot of the reasons they`re being separated, things like a DUI, things like maybe a criminal charge in their past, but not a conviction, these are reasons why they are keeping families apart from these parents now.
And I think what lawyers will tell you who are trying to make these reunifactions happen faster, is that the government is essentially trying to whittle down the class that they will have to reunify, because when they`re looking at over 2,500 children, and they want to meet that deadline, they`re trying shrink that pool, but Judge Sabraw of the Southern District of California has been very insistent, and frankly very transparent. We`ve been able to hear how this process has played out. And he`s really trying to keep that class wide. And he says that parents who have been deported all part of that class and they should be reunified as well.
That was something the secretary did not commit to doing today in her remarks to Peter Alexander
VELSHI: Peter, somewhere -- Jacob, somewhere in this whole thing we have missed the point that there are people who come across our borders, or who enter at a point of entry seeking asylum. Seeking asylum is an international protected concept, it`s not actually a crime.
Now if you didn`t cross at a border crossing seeking asylum, there is a misdemeanor crime involved, but it`s a misdemeanor crime.
SOBOROFF: I was just thinking about this, Ali, before you said that. Earlier, today I was upstate -- in upstate New York where one of the families that already has been reunified, was brought back together and resettled by Catholic Charities, one of the organizations that has put them.
This family, this woman told me that her family was threatened. They threatened kill her family, take her house away and kill her two little boys, 7 years old, and 11 years old, that are now living with her in upstate New York.
She`s one of the lucky ones that has already been reunified. But, again, we have got to talk about what`s in this filing, 719 people with that exact same scenario, or some sort of that scenario. That`s what the worry is here, by the way. The ACLU continues to say we don`t know those 719 parents are with final orders...
VELSHI: Or whether they have legitimate aslyum claims.
SOBOROFF: It`s in the filing right here. We don`t know a list of parents wtih final order removals who need to be counseled on their options and their children`s options immediately.
VELSHI: Their option might be a full asylum hearing if they can prove a credible fear.
SOBOROFF: That`s right...
VELSHI: ...they can get a hearing.
SOBOROFF: They can stay in the United States. And that has always been the scenario.
But we know that the attorney general wants to tighten those rules for asylum, what people can and cannot claim when they come in, like domestic violence, like gang violence in their home country, one of the main drivers.
So, you could have a huge portion of that class -- horrifying was the word an immigration attorney told me tonight when she heard that number, 719.
VELSHI: Julia Ainsley, will the government meet its second deadline?
AINSLEY: I mean, it`s hard to say. Obviously, they do have a process in place, that`s a process that Jacob just discussed I think a few days ago on our air for at least reunifying kind of the low hanging fruit. These are children in HHS custody with parents in ICE custody.
But there are a lot of people who fall outside of that. And it didn`t seem like we really had any reassurances from Secretary Nielsen that they would od that.
And another thing I wanted to point out, Ali, on that 719 number. As Jacob and I also reported, there was a form given to a lot of parents who had to decide whether or not to deport with or without their children. And a lot of immigration lawyers are worried that those parents were having to force -- having to be forced to make a very difficult decision before their asylum case played out. And that could be the case here.
So, these are now lawyers rushing to get to these parents before they`re forced to make that decision without all the information.
VELSHI: Julia Ainsley, Jacob Soboroff, thanks for your great reporting.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
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