The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/31/17 Comey's confirmation

Guests: Jonathan Landay, Adam Entous

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: May 31, 2017 Guest: Jonathan Landay, Adam Entous

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST : That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now with Ari Melber, in for Rachel.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Good evening. Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: You bet.

MELBER: Thanks to you at home for joining this hour. Rachel is still under the weather but she will be back soon.

And we have breaking news right now for you -- the latest development on the president and Russia. This has to do with something you may remember those two Russian diplomatic compounds in the U.S., one on the eastern shore of Maryland, the other on Long Island in New York. Now, late last year, it was late December, the Obama administration shut those two properties down. It was part of their formal punishment of the Russian government for interfering in our election.

Along with sanctions on certain Russian intel agencies and companies and individuals, President Obama shut down those compounds saying they believe the Russians were also using them for intelligence purposes. That all happened on December 29th. The compounds have been closed ever since, but tonight we can tell you, it appears the Trump administration may give those compounds here in the United States back to the Russians. "The Washington Post" reporting at this hour, the White House is, quote, moving towards handing back to Russia those two diplomatic compounds, quote, any concessions to Moscow could prove controversial while the administration and former Trump campaign officials are under congressional and special counsel investigation for alleged ties to Russia.

Now, this explosive story breaking late this evening and what we`re going to do here is a little later in the show, we`re going to talk to one of the reporters who literally just broke this story that should be interesting to say the least. But we begin tonight with a different corner of this Trump Russia inquiry. We now know that the FBI inquiry into Russian interference in the U.S. election was, of course, launched all the way back in last July. It was only formally confirmed this march that is when FBI Director Jim Comey determined that the public interest justified disclosing this investigation. That`s a process that basically required him to clear that announcement with the DOJ.

Now, Comey said Trump`s campaign was part of the inquiry and in that dramatic testimony to Congress, he intoned, and now, we`re going to close our mouths and do our work. Well, he only opened his mouth before Congress one more time after that. It was that hearing which contradicted President Trump`s baseless claims about Obama wiretapping him. Comey fired a week later.

Now, no one really knew when Comey would open his mouth again. He did telegraph, of course, that he was willing to testify after that firing and we do know Congress wanted it. But with this new special counsel working the Russia case, no one could really say whether that testimony would be authorized. Well no one could say that until today, because we can report special counsel Robert Mueller has now cleared call me to testify publicly before the Senate, and it could come as early as next week.

Now, let`s be clear, a lot of people talk about the Russia issue. You can divide the talkers into three groups I think. The people who are doing the investigation, they know a ton, but rarely open their mouths. Then there are the people following the investigation, which range from reporters who are holding different pieces of the puzzle to regular citizens across this whole country sifting through what they`ve heard, tracking this unfolding mystery and sometimes developing their own theories like a real-life national version of law and order or serial.

And then there`s another group, there is a tiny group of people implicated in the Russia case, people who had contact with Russian officials, were they users or did they get used? Or the people running websites, which found their story spread around by those -- those bots, those Russian web bots. So, were those website owners colluding online or did they just get ensnared?

And then, of course, when you talk about people implicated, there is the Clinton campaign itself, which was the target of so much hacking and disinformation that if the FBI ultimately determines those things were crimes, well, then the Clinton campaign was the legal victim.

So, it is kind of a remarkable stroke of news timing that we can tell you on this same day the news came out that Jim Comey really, really will testify under oath and what might be the most watched, debated and parsed events since election night that on this same day, we heard new and quite blunt reaction from that potential legal victim of any crimes that could have occurred in election we heard from Hillary Clinton.

And while Clinton has spoken a few times since the election, she`s always been very measured in her depiction of the Russia case. Now, that may be from her legal training. She knows better than many that an investigation often has many more chapters to come. Could be her political training given the lectures that losing candidates often get about focusing on accepting their own responsibility.

But today, she went further than she has before in sharing her own theory of the case. When you`ll notice, she does not accuse Donald Trump of collusion. She hasn`t played prosecutor, but she does dabble in the analysis of an investigator and what she did here, what we`re going to play for you, she makes the circumstantial case that the nature, the targeting, and the timing of the election hacks suggests some American assistance, that these were not exclusively foreign efforts and she combines that assessment with a question that investigators always ask as they say in Latin, cui bono, who benefits?

And here is Hillary Clinton`s in-depth depiction. We`re going to play it for you in just about its entirety.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it`s fair to ask, how did that actually influence the campaign and how did they know what messages to deliver? Who told -- who told them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CLINTON: Who were they coordinating with or colluding with? They were conveying this weaponized information and the content of it and they were running, you know, there`s all these stories about you know guys over in Macedonia who are running these fake news sites and, you know, I`ve seen them now and you sit there and it looks like a you know sort of low-level CNN operation.

UNIDENIFIED MALE: Or fake news paper, like a Denver Guardian.

CLINTON: Like a fake newspaper.

And so, the Russians, in my opinion and based on the intel and counter- intel people I`ve talked to, could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided and here`s --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guided by Americans?

CLINTON: Guided by American and guided by people who had, you know, polling and data information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is that?

CLINTON: Now, let me just finish because this is the second and third step. So, we know that they did that. We understand it. Best example -- so within one hour, one hour of the "Access Hollywood" tapes being leaked, within one hour, the Russians, say WikiLeaks, same thing, dumped the John Podesta emails.

Now, if you`ve ever read the John Podesta emails, they are anodyne to boredom. Within one hour, they dumped them, and then they began to weaponize them, and they began to have some of their allies within the Internet world like Info Wars, take out pieces and begin to say the most outrageous, outlandish, absurd lies you can imagine.

And so, they had to be ready for that and they had to have a plan for that and they had to be given the go-ahead, OK, this could be the end of the Trump campaign, dump it now, and then let`s do everything we can to weaponize it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who do you think directed it?

CLINTON: We`re getting more information about all of the contacts between Trump campaign officials and Trump associates with Russians before during and after the election. So, I hope that we`ll get enough information to be able to answer that question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you`re leaning Trump?

CLINTON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

CLINTON: Yes, I`m leaning Trump. I think -- I think it`s pretty hard not to. I think that that the marriage of the domestic fake news operations, the domestic RNC, Republican allied data, you know, combined with the very effective capabilities that the Russians brought.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Leaning Trump, meaning team Trump, which is what makes the other news tonight so interesting. Subpoenas of Donald Trump`s innermost circle, including one pre-campaign official. The House Intelligence Committee has issued a total of seven subpoenas tonight and two are to Donald Trump`s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen and his law firm.

Now, Cohen`s played many roles for Trump over the years a spokesman, a vice president of Trump`s company, even a kind of a fixer.

And back in February, before the FBI inquiry into Trump`s campaign was even confirmed, Cohen was in the news for being in the center of an apparently bizarre attempt to deliver a potential peace plan for Russia and the Ukraine to White House, to the White House -- a peace plan that involved lifting all sanctions on Russia, a hot topic.

Now, just last night, Michael Cohen refused to comply with the request for information from the House and Senate Intel Committees, but he said if he were subpoenaed, he`d be happy to testify. Whether his willingness to comply with the subpoena would extend to document production, which is you may recall as a whole big issue with Mike Flynn -- well, that remains unclear, as is the question about his communications with Trump and whether they might all be protected by a broad reading of attorney-client privilege.

I also want to tell you that among those knew seven subpoenas tonight, two go to the national security adviser, the former national security adviser Mike Flynn, as well as his consulting firm.

And joining me now is Jonathan Landay, national security correspondent for "Reuters".

Great to see you during these busy times.

From your reporting, what are these subpoenas looking for?

JONATHAN LANDAY, REUTERS, DC NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: We`re not quite sure it`s for documents for anything, for appearances apparently they want to hear from these gentlemen one of the curious things that happened is that the committee put out a bipartisan statement announcing the subpoenas to both General Flynn and Mr. Cohen and their respected firms. What it didn`t mention was the fact that the Committee Chairman Devin Nunes who in April recused himself from leading the investigation apparently on his own, without telling the Democrats, Democrat members of the committee, issued three other subpoenas. These were subpoenas to the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA.

And what they were asking for according to sources we talked to are any regarding requests from of President Obama`s former national security adviser Susan Rice, his former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, and former CIA Director John Brennan to unmask the names of Trump associates, campaign associates that were inadvertently picked up in foreign intelligence monitoring operations. So, he goes it apparently -- Devin Nunes goes and does this, although he publicly recused himself from the investigation, and nowhere in the committee`s official announcement of these subpoenas do these three subpoenas are mentioned.

MELBER: Would they normally need to subpoena something like that? Or couldn`t they get that through the normal oversight function?

LANDAY: Well, my understanding is that they would normally contact these three agencies and request this or have discussions with them before ever issuing any kind of subpoena, any kind of legal document requiring them to turn over this information. I`m not sure that those discussions ever actually took place and committee aides are saying that they there were no consultations with the Democrats about this before Chairman Nunes issued these subpoenas.

MELBER: Right, and this goes all the way back to the very different lines of focus from the different political parties here. People remember that from watching the hearings where Republicans seemed obsessed with what you`re calling the unmasking, the question about leaks and all those assorted things, and the Democrats were focused much more on what you might call the original or underlying issue, which is what did Russia do, did they have help and are we going to get to the bottom of that?

On that point with Michael Cohen, I wonder if you could speak to the his role here in the Trump Corporation, because he obviously as a lawyer said hey I`m not going to jump to do this but I will do it under subpoena. But he`s going to have presumably a pretty legitimate way to protect most of his consultations with Trump, pre and during the presidency, right?

LANDAY: Well, we`ll have to wait and see because I think during -- pre- presidency, I`m not sure that you could make the legal argument that any of those communications are protected by executive privilege. President Trump was not the president during that period.

MELBER: Right, I only mean attorney-client privilege.

LANDAY: That`s possible. We`ll have to wait and see. But certainly, I`m not sure that the discussions that he reportedly had with Ukrainian oligarch and others about setting up this back-channel and to orchestrate a Ukraine -- a settlement of the Ukrainian war in return for the lifting of U.S. sanctions, I`m not sure that that would be considered attorney-client privilege.

MELBER: Right, and certainly not his dealings that happened outside of private conversations with his client, Donald Trump.

When you look at what you`re hearing from the committee, is there more attention on the Trump Organization and following the money and those type of issues or should that not yet be inferred from Cohen`s subpoena because again as we`ve as we`ve reported he played so many roles, it`s hard to know exactly what he`s being fingered for?

LANDAY: Exactly, and it`s not apparent to me and my reporting exactly what it is that the committee is looking for beyond this issue of whether or not he was involved in this potential deal to have the sanctions against Russia lifted in return for something.

MELBER: While I have you, on Jim Comey`s testimony, do you have any view of what it means that Mueller has cleared him a lot of folks reacting to that it means I think we do get a Jim Comey hearing for sure? Do you have a view of it?

LANDAY: Well, I think that it`s obvious that Mr. Comey has something to say. We`ve seen reports that he kept, you know, he made memos -- he kept memos about his own conversations with President Trump in which the president -- he writes that reportedly the President Trump pushed him to try and shut down -- pushed him to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn and that would be not Michael Flynn`s apparent failure to report receiving money from both -- from Russian and Turkish entities.

And I think we`re going to probably hear more about that when he testifies.

MELBER: Jonathan Landay, national security correspondent for "Reuters" -- thank you for your time tonight.

LANDAY: My pleasure.

MELBER: We have much more to come tonight, including how significant it is as I mentioned that Robert Mueller is clearing the way for FBI Director James Comey to testify, as well as some other very interesting things Hillary Clinton said about the future of the Democratic Party.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Criminal investigators have three clear categories for people who were touched in some way by an open inquiry -- witness, subject and target.

FBI Director Jim Comey was the top investigator in the federal government until three weeks ago when he was addressing FBI employees in L.A. and noticed on the TV screens in the very back of the room that there was news he`d been fired. Now, he reportedly laughed, thinking it was some kind of prank. It was not.

The president had sent his longtime bodyguard now the director of Oval Office operations to hand-deliver a letter to Jim Comey`s Washington office announcing the termination. Now, initial report said this was a shock to the FBI from Comey on down, as well as some members of Congress when the president called a few of them about the decision.

But if Jim Comey was shocked, he was not unprepared, because we soon learned that he had been keeping meticulous notes about his interactions with the president, some of which reportedly disturbed him, including alleged efforts by president Trump to impede on aspects of the Russia probe. Now, if you think about those three categories again, the memos actually raised a pretty fundamental question. Was Jim Comey not only an investigator overseeing the FBI`s approach to those potential subjects and targets? Was Jim Comey also a witness? Did he see or hear things in the White House or around President Trump that might in his view form the basis of potential crimes like tampering with evidence or tampering with witnesses or, yes, even obstruction of justice?

And if he did see those things, can he even talk about it? That is a dynamic that makes today`s Comey news so intriguing. NBC reporting a special counsel Mueller has cleared Jim Comey to testify before the Senate next week. Several sources expect that testimony could include Comey dealings with Trump. After all, with or without a special counsel, Jim Comey would not be able to testify about what`s happening inside the Russia inquiry or about FBI methods or potential targets. The things you can testify about are outside that investigative box, things like FBI policy or its funding or nonclassified dealings with the executive branch or yes the head of the executive branch.

So, does Jim Comey see himself as a witness? Only time will tell, but he is certainly qualified to answer the questions about his dealings with the executive branch.

Joining me now is a reporter who`s been on this story for some time, NBC national security reporter Ken Dilanian.

Thank you.

And I begin with the question, maybe the hard question if you can`t fully answer it. But is it possible to Jim Comey sees himself here as a witness?

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: I think it`s pretty clear that he does, Ari, which it probably explains why he wrote all those memos. Recall that sources close to Comey have told NBC News that he memorialized nearly every interaction he had with President Trump, both phone calls and meetings, and they have described, you know, his growing sense of discomfort as Trump made a series of inappropriate requests.

And some of these stories have leaked. We first heard about the dinner where Trump asked Comey to pledge his loyalty, this is according to Comey`s account, of course. People close to Comey. And Comey replied that he could not pledge the loyalty, but he could only pledge honesty.

And then we learned about this Oval Office meeting a few weeks later, where Trump allegedly asked Comey to end the Flynn investigation. Flynn had resigned at that point, and it seems to be a message of, you know, can`t you move along with this thing? Comey view that as inappropriate.

So, you know, and what was interesting about how this testimony came to pass as you said is that Mueller, Robert Mueller, special counsel, has cleared Comey to talk about some of the stuff. But what we don`t know is whether there are anything whether there`s anything that`s off-limits. Is there anything the Comey knows that Mueller has said I`d rather you not talk about that, Ari?

MELBER: Well, and to that point, is there anything that Jim Comey knows that is really more of an issue for Congress than the DOJ when under a bipartisan precedent the DOJ doesn`t tend to focus on a criminal activity by a president? So, to some degree, is that a weird kind of very important loophole where Jim Comey is potentially more likely to talk about Trump stuff than lower level targets, potential targets of any inquiry?

DILANIAN: That`s right. It`s a really interesting question whether Mueller, Robert Mueller, is investigating Donald Trump for obstruction of justice. We don`t know the answer to that. If he is, it would seem like Jim Comey is an important fact witness and there may be some things that Mueller would rather he not say, because, you know, as a prosecutor, you don`t want the other witnesses in the potential defense to know what the -- what the -- you know, prosecuting witness the story is, right?

So, that -- so that certainly is a factor, Ari.

MELBER: I want to get really lawyerly with you, so I apologize to you and the viewers. But the other thing I want to get into is, what matters a lot is the state of mind and anything relating to tampering or obstruction that involves the president is going to go to his state of mind.

And as you know, ignorance can be a defense. Confusion can be a defense. In other words, a lot of things that might be bad, you might rather the president wasn`t completely confused about how the FBI works, can be a defense that goes against what you would really need as you know an obstruction, which is something corrupt an evil state of mind and an attempt to actually consciously intercede.

Given your knowledge of Jim Comey and these issues, do you expect him to give any ground because he is going to be asked by people not only what happened you know what was the food on the table to dinner, how long was the dinner, not just what happened, he`s going to be asked what do you think the president was trying to do? What was his mental goal?

DILANIAN: Right, and I think that`s a really interesting question. And here`s another question that Comey will be asked that goes to that issue -- he will be asked, why, sir, didn`t you resign immediately? If you thought this was inappropriate --

MELBER: Right.

DILANIAN: If you thought this was obstruction of justice, why didn`t you resign and then report it to the attorney general? And what I`m being told by sources close to Comey is the answer is, he thought it was inappropriate some of the things President Trump was asking of him and saying to him, he was disturbed by it, but he also thought it was manageable. He believed that he could continue as an independent FBI director and shield the FBI from some of these inappropriate requests, but he also of course memorialized it in these written records, you know, for in case this day would come to pass, and now it has.

MELBER: You used that word manageable. Anyone who followed the 2016 election will remember Jim Comey seemed to think other issues were manageable if he could just talk about them and he could just articulate them, and I think history proved it wasn`t as manageable as his initial thought.

DILANIAN: That`s right. It`s a really interesting question. It speaks to what some people see as hubris in Jim Comey, but it also -- it also speaks his record as an honorable public servant who thought he could do the right thing and, you know, was trying to protect the FBI from what he thought was improper interference, at least according to his allies.

MELBER: Very interesting and appreciate your reporting and insights as always, NBC national security reporter Ken Dilanian.

DILANIAN: Great to be with you, Ari. Thanks.

MELBER: Thank you.

Still ahead, the breaking news that the U.S. may be considering rescinding one of the key U.S. -based sanctions that President Obama put in place to punish Russia for the story we`ve been talking about -- the meddling in U.S. elections. We have that report for you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBE: So, this is a beautiful home in Centerville, Maryland. It has thick flavors, oriental carpets, crystal chandeliers, a pool, and, of course, a tennis court. But there`s also a huge staircase, and really nice view of the river. And it was bought back in 1972 by the Soviet Union. It was a kind of a vacation home for their diplomats who are working in the United States.

They also bought a similar property on Long Island, too, 14 acres in Oyster Bay, for those Russian diplomats to stay on holiday. And those properties have been in Russia`s hands ever since.

But late last year, about a month after the presidential election, the Obama administration took them back and they kicked out those Russians staying in those fancy homes and sent them back to Russia all as a very public punishment for Russia`s meddling in the presidential election. The Obama administration saying those properties we`re not only being used as vacation homes, which is a fun part of this, but ultimately, according to the United States, a side part of it, because the Obama administration went to the lengths to publicly state that they were, quote, for Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, which is obviously a big deal.

The Obama administration gave them only 24 hours to pack their things and get out. In fact, they physically blocked anyone from Russia from entering those houses. That`s how serious this was at the time.

But now, tonight, we can report as I mentioned at the top of the show, the Russians may actually be getting another chance at getting those houses in the United States back. "The Washington Post" reporting tonight the Trump administration, quote, moving towards handing back to Russia those two compounds and for that, the U.S. wants something in return.

Quote: Early last month, the Trump administration told the Russians it would consider turning the properties back over to them if Moscow would lift its freeze and construction of a new U.S. consulate on a certain parcel of land in St. Petersburg. Now, these compounds that the Obama administration seized from Russia late last year, they took them off the table. They said at the time there was no intention as a matter of U.S. policy of giving them back to Russia. That`s what made it a real punishment for messing with the election.

And now, not that long after all that went down, the Trump administration appears as a negotiating tactic at the very least to be putting them back on the table, a sort of diplomatic poker match between the Trump administration and Russia.

Joining us now, "The Washington Post" national security correspondent Adam Entous, who along with his colleague Karen DeYoung, broke this story tonight.

What else can you tell us at this hour?

ADAM ENTOUS, WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER (via telephone): Well, I think what`s really important here is to kind of understand the context, right, which is that you know these sanctions were imposed at the end of December by the Obama administration to punish the Russians for their intervention in the -- in the presidential election, and here we are six months later, and the Trump White House is negotiating the return of those facilities allowing the Russian diplomats and intelligence officers who had access to them until December, until the end of December, to get back in there and have them back, and they`re no longer insisting that any change in the status of those facilities be linked to the U.S. demand request to get access to it land in St. Petersburg for a new consulate.

So, you know, obviously, this is would be seen in Moscow as a as a positive gesture if the Trump White House decides to go through with it.

MELBER: Any effort by the Trump administration according to your reporting to gain assurances or concessions regarding the underlying intel issue, the meddling which was the whole reason there was this punishment?

ENTOUS: Well, there is -- there is one thing that they`re looking at the Trump White House and that is basically allowing law enforcement officials, i.e., the FBI, to gain access to these facilities in future. In other words not treating them as though they`re off-limits to the FBI like the embassy would be, for example.

MELBER: So, they might not have -- they might not have the same strength of sort of a diplomatic bubble.

ENTOUS: Exactly. So, in other words, you know, if the U.S. were to get intelligence suggesting that these facilities are once again being equipped with sensitive eavesdropping, signals intelligence collection, you know, equipment, to turn it into a listening post, that they could potentially move in. But that`s something frankly that the Russians might object to and frankly I`d be surprised if they didn`t object to that, in which case in the balls back in the Trump White House`s court to decide how to proceed.

MELBER: Adam, do you have any sense of why this information is coming out? We have definitely charted some other stories including with you where it was clear there were signs that some of the people releasing information we`re doing so because they objected to aspects of the Trump administration`s approach to foreign policy and other decisions. Can you shed any light on that on this story?

ENTOUS: Yes, I mean, I think the timing in this case is more timed with Lavrov`s visit to the White House a couple weeks back. So, you know, the discussions kind of picked up last month and span up again, you know, this month into this question, because the Russians were making this a priority. And so, I mean, like you said, I mean, certainly people that talk about these things to us and to other news organizations sometimes they`re doing so because they`re not happy with what they`re seeing being done, and I certainly cannot rule that out in this case.

And in fact, you know, I think you know a lot of folks who were certainly in the Obama administration and people who you know are involved in dealing with Russia and see Russia as an adversary might see a move to let the Russians regain entry to these facilities as a -- as a decision that would seem to reduce, you know, pressure on Russia --

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Any sense, Adam, any sense --

ENTOUS: -- that pressure should be flat or maybe increasing.

MELBER: Any sense of whether this is just the beginning and they might also move to weaken the sanctions on, for example, 35 Russian operatives who were kicked out?

ENTOUS: So far, we haven`t we haven`t received any information on that to suggest that that`s happening. You know, keep in mind that you know you know that there was it, for example, in former national security adviser Flynn`s discussions with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, back in the end of December, around the same time these sanctions were imposed, you know, Flynn you know who later was fired for basically mischaracterizing in those communications, according to the officials we spoke to, Flynn old Kislyak that if the Russians did not retaliate to the Obama administration sanctions, that the incoming Trump White House would revisit the issue once they took office.

So, you know, I think that`s a something to keep in mind when we consider that the Trump administration now is revisiting at least the sanctions with regard to the closing of these two facilities.

MELBER: You put it so calmly. Yes, we should keep in mind that the problematic thing may be the very thing that`s happening now here under our noses.

Adam Entous, national security reporter for "The Washington Post" -- thank you as always for sharing some of your reporting.

ENTOUS: Pleasure. Thank you very much.

MELBER: Late word tonight out of the White House on one of the biggest points of contention for the Trump administration since the election. That`s straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: A programming note, we typically do not spend our days just waiting around for President Trump to hit send on his next tweet. Rachel prefers to follow what they do not, what they tweet. But this one is a little different.

Just moments ago, there is a new tweet about an actual thing. I will be announcing my decision on Paris accord Thursday at 3:00 p.m., writes the president. The White House Rose Garden. Make America great again.

President Trump posting this just moments ago so that tomorrow afternoon there in an official Rose Garden ceremony, he will tell us what he`s going to do whether or not the U.S. will pull out of the international climate change agreement that is known around the world as the Paris accord. So, it`s widely considered one of the crowning diplomatic and environmental achievements of President Obama, basically the entire world was able to get on board with a plan to collectively lower greenhouse gas emissions.

As the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump railed against the Paris accord. He said he would cancel it, but then since he`s taken office there has been some pushback to that promise, including from people within the White House. Senior aides and Rick Perry reportedly being against it and hundreds of outside companies, including even Exxon, which urged the president to at least try staying in the Paris accord so that the U.S. would have a seat at the table when it comes to those all-important long- range climate change talks.

Now, we have been getting some diverging reports throughout the day about what exactly President Trump will decide to do. Some White House sources of steady he actually plans to leave this accord and that the language around it is all that`s left to be worked out.

It should also be noted that a president Trump did agree to pull out of the Paris accord, the United States would have very little company. Every other country in the world has signed this agreement to lower greenhouse gases every country except two, Nicaragua and Syria. It might be easy to put America first on that list, but it is a short list indeed.

The president will make this announcement tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. and we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: It`s what a classic authoritarian does. It`s not just about influencing your institutions, your values. They want to influence your reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was how Hillary Clinton concluded her remarks at that California tech conference today, where she certainly made some news in her views of the Russia inquiry. We played some of that at the top of the show.

But Clinton also went well beyond Russia and the FBI. Here, for example, is the full context of her warning about authoritarianism. She was pushing back on a question about Twitter`s impact on civil discourse and basically urging her audience to keep their eye on the ball.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: You can`t let Trump and his allies be a diversion. They are a threat and they have been effective up until now.

So, Twitter is a perfect example. You`re going to drive up the numbers. You got more people chasing rabbits down rabbit holes. You`ve got all kinds of stuff happening. Why? To divert attention.

It`s like covfefe, trending worldwide, maybe for a minute you`ll forget the latest accusations about them conspiring with Russia or their trillion- dollar mathematical mistake in their budget, or depriving 23 million people of health care.

You know, it`s the circus, right? It`s what a classic authoritarian does. It`s not just about influencing your institutions, your values. They want to influence your reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Your reality. That was a big theme for Clinton today that in a world of political propaganda and viral lies where the beneficiaries of fake news go around accusing the real news of being fake news, she argued that reality itself is under siege.

Hillary Clinton did not win the Electoral College, but today she reiterated that she won more votes and that she wants to work with her supporters not only to press disagreements with the Trump White House, but to expose how disagreements about reality and the truth itself, she argues, are corroding democracy.

Joining me now, I`m very happy to say, is Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign correspondent the host of MSNBC`s "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS" and a longtime reporter and chronicler of the Clintons.

Your impression of what we heard today and how it differed if at all from past Hillary Clinton statements?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, she first of all really drilled down on the fake news, the role of Info Wars, and said that it was very clear to her that there were Americans directing and colluding, conspiring really with the Russian hackers with Guccifer, with the others who were involved in the hacking in the dropping of WikiLeaks only an hour after the "Access Hollywood" tape was disclosed and saying that they were doing so with such political sophistication. She was basically pointing to the Trump campaign, saying that the dots are now being connected in the investigation.

She mentioned -- she mentioned Jared Kushner. She mentioned Bannon and Kellyanne Conway in the context of the fact that the Mercers, the big fundraisers who contribute to the campaign and had an owned Cambridge Analytics, had said, you know, to Trump, bring on Bannon from "Breitbart", bring on Kellyanne Conway who were already on their payroll as part of the deal, and that they connected with the data bank in the RNC.

So, she is -- she`s drawing a conspiracy theory. She doesn`t have the evidence but she is obviously hoping that this is what the Robert Mueller and what the congressional committees could do.

She`s also not blaming herself and this is this is something that she had said before, that she believes despite the mistakes that a lot of people pointed out in judgment and in campaign strategy that they were trending upward and she keeps pointing, you know, to the data that showed that when James Comey 11 days out dropped his letter and reopened the email issue, that that`s what stalled her momentum, especially cutting in half she said her polling -- her polling advantage with suburban women in Pennsylvania where she -- one of the three states that led to accumulative loss of 77,000 votes that just delivered the Electoral College to Donald Trump.

MELBER: And she spoke about his appeal and the way that he approaches politics. Listen to her on that point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: He does have a visceral grasp of America`s political underbelly. He really understands how to inflame people, how to motivate them, how to bond with them, over whatever their grievance is. You know, whatever resentment or point of anger that you may have if, he can get into it, whether it`s race or sex or xenophobia or anti-Islamophobia, whatever it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: What did you make of that analysis of hers?

MITCHELL: Well, she -- you know, she is trying to come to grips with the kind of rhetoric and the kind of anger that he was able to exploit. Interestingly, she also says that there is from her view misogyny in this, that voters are willing to accept anger and passions from a Bernie Sanders, from a Donald Trump at a campaign rally, in a way that they were not accepted from her.

Now, others have criticized her delivery and her voice and other aspects of her. She says that that is a double standard that there is a sexism still involved in the way voters view candidates --

MELBER: Right.

MITCHELL: -- who are female.

MELBER: And she --

MITCHELL: And by the way --

MELBER: Go ahead.

MITCHELL: I was just going to say, if you thought the campaign was over and that he has been president for, you know, 204 days or something, tonight, this Trump tweet and her response, he tweeted: Crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate, hits Facebook and even Dems and DNC.

So, he`s calling her crooked Hillary, last I knew there was no FBI investigation into her, but there is an FBI investigation into his campaign.

And she tweeted back: People in covfefe houses shouldn`t throw for covfefe. That made tonight.

MELBER: I see that, I see it`s 9:30 p.m. that she posted that, it already has 26,000 retweets and counting. Interesting to see these two obviously still going at it, using Twitter, part of the information architecture that she`s alleging was -- she believes part of a potential type of collusion as you report and also the question but how it affects all this.

You know, on the sexism, I wonder what you think of that is having followed her for so long and she`s had these different chapters, because one thing I`ve heard her really stressed today was that, yes, she acknowledges that people didn`t like some of what she did, but she put it in a larger context of the double standard that women candidates are held to and she was quite explicit. She cited to research the Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook has cited in "Lean In", that there is an documented data that shows an inverse relationship to the success of an individual in their gender, more successful men lauded, more successful women run into a lot more antipathy.

So, she -- it struck my ear that she was getting way more into it today than she did on the campaign trail, though of course she may feel that there was no reward for that obviously on the campaign trail.

MITCHELL: Well, she tried to take advantage of gender initially when she was announcing on Roosevelt Island and speaking about her mother, speaking of herself as a grandmother. She was using it in a way that she never did in the campaign when she was trying to prove she`s tough and commander-in- chief, and I think that they realized she wanted she needed to soften the edges, but then she reverted to a campaign that really didn`t deal with gender, and I think it`s because they had polling data that there was still resistance to accepting a woman candidate for president, even after accepting that she could be tough enough to be secretary of state and you know deal with foreign policy.

They really is -- she feels and I think the data probably supports her on this, that there was a double standard in the way they accepted Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump being passionate. Now, it`s also affect. It`s also the way we react to a voice, and to seeing a woman getting more high- pitched and being angry. I think -- I think there`s something to that.

That said, people will argue that she should have been a lot farther ahead so that the Comey hit 11 days out didn`t hurt as badly as it did. But she really believes it was determinative and she`s got polling data from -- you know, from plenty of people, Nate Silver and others, to show that if she was going up and then she flat-lined and started heading downward.

MELBER: Right, and you could see it in the emphasis that she is on the news and on the information as ever. I mean, she had all her examples ready and if anything struck me at least as more candid than usual.

Andrea Mitchell, host of "ANDREW MITCHELL REPORTS" from NBC, thank you for joining me.

MITCHELL: You bet.

MELBER: And we have more. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: That is our show for tonight. I am Ari Melber in for Rachel. You can find me online at Facebook.com/arimelber, or you can email me at ari@msnbc.com.

Now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL", who has a very special guest tonight, Senator Al Franken who I`m told will be with Lawrence shortly.

Good evening.

END

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END