Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: June 9, 2017 Guest: Dan Rather, Barbara McQuade
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: And that is part of reason that the AHCA has been unpopular when it`s polled. Of course, we don`t have polling for this bill because it doesn`t exist.
Ben Howe and Eddie Glaude, thank you for joining us.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Was it our control room sound was being broadcast over the P.A.?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MADDOW: That was really impressive. It was like, I`ll tell you what would just happen here right before the cameras came on, it`s kind of the equivalent of like the fire alarm going off, except it was the voice of somebody working in another room not on this show. That was kind of amazing.
I`m going to assume that wasn`t god and it was just a technical difficulty.
Anyway, all right, thanks for being with us tonight. We`ve got a big show tonight. Dan Rather is here, which I`m very excited about, and we`ve got a few new pieces of information to break on what is going on in Washington with the -- what appears to be now the mushrooming scandal around the president. We`ve got a few new exclusive pieces of information on that tonight.
Last night, a Columbia law school professor received what I`m sure was an unsettling letter from Congress. This is the letter, dear professor. The letter was addressed to Professor Daniel Richman at Columbia. He`s a former federal prosecutor and now teaches at Columbia Law School.
And yesterday in the Senate, the fired director of the FBI, James Comey, put the spotlight on Professor Daniel Richman when Comey told the world about his decision to make public his notes that he wrote up after this meeting that he had with the president in which he says the president told him that the FBI should let go its ongoing criminal investigation into the Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn.
Director Comey explained yesterday under oath that the way he decided to publicize those notes, the way he decided to publicize that memo that he wrote about his interaction with the president was that he gave it to his good friend who worked at Columbia Law School and he gave his Columbia Law School professor friend the instruction that he should then pass on that memo to a reporter. And so, after that testimony, under oath yesterday from James Comey, last night, James Comey`s professor friend at Columbia Law School, Professor Dan Richman, he got this letter from Congress from the Senate, explaining that Director Comey had all but said that Professor Richman had in his possession this potentially incriminating memo about the president, and could Professor Richman please hand the memo over to Congress right now, and I mean it when I say right now.
Quote, Mr. Comey`s memoranda are relevant to the Judiciary Committee`s ongoing investigative efforts. We ask that you provide the committee copies of all the memoranda you have received from Mr. Comey by no later than June 9th 2017. Check your watch, check your wall calendar, it`s June 9th, 2017, today.
So, quick turn around, right? The Senate heard yesterday from James Comey that this professor at Columbia had Comey`s memo about Trump supposedly trying to kibosh the FBI`s Flynn investigation. They heard that yesterday that the professor had that memo. They wrote to the professor last night, telling him to hand it over and they gave him a deadline. The deadline is today.
Well, we can report tonight that as of 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, as to just a couple minutes ago, the professor at Columbia University, Dan Richman, has not turned over Comey`s memo about his conversation with the president, which is interesting.
CNN`s Manu Raju, he`s a great reporter at CNN, he further reports tonight that Professor Richman has actually been in touch with that committee as of tonight, but we can report that whether or not he`s been in touch with them, he has not handed over the memo. Imagine this is kind of a stressful position for your average law professor to find himself in, right? But, hey, turning out that these are stressful times.
Now, there`s obviously a lot going on in the news writ large right now, kind of first and foremost, there`s the U.K. election, which is fascinating at a total shocker and has implications that are huge for the U.K. and for Europe, also has some interesting implications for us. There`s the president`s offer today that he would love to testify under oath, he`d love to be deposed by the special counsel investigating the Trump Russia matter. It seems unlikely that he really wants to do that, but he said today he`d love to.
There`s also the matter of this ticking time bomb that is now potentially set to go off in the U.S. Senate when it comes to health care. The Senate may be moving toward a vote that would kick over 20 million Americans off of health insurance. So, there is a lot going on. We`re going to get to all of those things over the course of this hour.
As I said, we`ve got Dan Rather here tonight. We`ve also got some expert legal advice coming up on the show tonight, advice that may surprise you.
But there are as I said a few new things that we have been able to report out tonight that I want to let you know right off the bat, and the first is this news about this law professor who was thought to have a copy of James Comey`s memo describing the president supposedly trying to shut down an ongoing FBI investigation that law professor not turning over that memo to the Senate despite the Senate telling him he had until today to hand it over.
That obviously relates to the possibility of obstruction of justice, which is now this the central question in terms of the fate of this presidency did the president try to stop ongoing FBI investigations. Now, the special councilor special counsel Robert Mueller, he was appointed to look into the Russia issue, right? It was appointed to look into this specific question of whether the Trump campaign or any Trump associates helped or cooperated with the Russians in this Russian attack on our election last year.
The order appointing Bob Mueller to be special counsel also said beyond that investigation, he could also investigate and prosecute any other matters that, quote, arise from that Russia investigation. Well, it now seems clear that one of the matters that has arisen from the Russia investigation is this possibility that there`s been an attempt to obstruct justice in this matter potentially by the president of the United States himself.
And although the Mueller investigation, the spokesperson for Bob Mueller is not confirming that overtly, is not confirming that Bob Mueller is now investigating whether the president obstructed justice, they`re not saying so one way or the other, we`re still pretty darn sure that that`s part of what he`s working on, and we`re pretty darn sure of it tonight for two reasons. First reason is because James Comey said so under oath yesterday, twice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: He says that the president was trying to obstruct justice or just seek for a way from Mike Flynn to save face given he had already been fired.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: General Flynn at that point in time was in legal jeopardy. There was an open FBI criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the Russian contacts and the contacts themselves. And so, that was my assessment at the time. I don`t think it`s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that`s the conclusion I`m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there. and whether that`s an offense.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Do you believe this arise to the obstruction justice?
COMEY: I don`t know. That`s Bob Mueller`s job to sort that out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s Bob Mueller`s job to sort that out, the special counsel will work to try to understand whether the obstruction intent was there, whether that`s an offense. So, that`s the first obvious reason we believe that the special counsel Bob Mueller is now investigating whether anyone, potentially including the president, might have tried to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation. First reason we think that is just bluntly because James Comey said so yesterday under oath twice.
The other reason that we believe that the special counsel Bob Mueller is investigating whether there was an obstruction of justice, it`s because of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: So, you didn`t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document. You considered to be somehow your own personal document that you could share with the media as you wanted to through a friend?
COMEY: Correct. I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I felt free to share that. I thought very important to get it out.
BLUNT: So, were all of your memos that you recorded on classified or other documents memos that might be yours as a private citizen?
COMEY: I`m sorry, I`m not following the question.
BLUNT: Well, I think you said you`d use classified -- classified --
COMEY: Oh, yes, not the classified documents. Unclassified. I don`t have any of them anymore, but I gave them to the special counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I don`t have any of them anymore. I gave them to the special counsel.
So, that means any notes, any memoranda that James Comey wrote about his interactions with President Trump, he has handed them over to the special counsel Robert Mueller, and that`s a simple thing but it has a couple of really important implications.
The first of which is that may be what`s complicating the issue of this poor law professor. This difficult night he`s having tonight. The fact that Bob Mueller has these documents and may be using them in this investigation, that may be the complicating factor as to whether or not Jim Comey`s friend, this law professor can just simply hand over his copy of this memo to the Senate now that the Senate is demanding it.
So, that`s -- that may be what`s making this a hard night for that law professor. But the fact that James Comey gave all of his memos about his conversations with the president to the special counsel, that also implies pretty strongly that the special counsel is investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president, because we know from James Comey`s own testimony that he never talked to the president about Russia. He never talked to the president about the Russian attack on our election. James Comey said under oath that the president never brought that attack up, never expressed any concern about that Russian attack to him ever, even once.
So, Bob Mueller is only investigating the Russia attack and possible Trump campaign involvement in the Russia attack. Well, these memos aren`t about the Russian attack. If that`s all he`s investigating, there would be no reason for him to be reviewing Jim Comey`s memos about his interactions with President Trump.
The only reason the special counsel would need to have those memos is if he`s investigating the possibility of something else besides the Russian attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANCHIN: Do you believe this arise to the obstruction justice?
COMEY: I don`t know. That`s Bob Mueller`s job to sort that out Bob Mueller, special counsel, as of tonight appears very strongly to be investigating whether the president of the United States, Donald Trump, committed obstruction of justice.
Now, the race is on to confirm that for a fact, but in the absence of direct confirmation, it really seems clear by every indication that that`s what he`s doing. So, we`ve got James Comey saying under oath that President Trump was not the subject personally of a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI into the Russian attack on our election and possible collusion, president not personally the subject of that, but it appears that he very much may be the subject of the special counsel`s investigation into the potential obstruction of justice.
So, here`s the other thing going on about that tonight that is turning into a really interesting question -- Bob Mueller appears to be investigating obstruction of justice. Is Congress investigating that, too?
We know the intelligence committees are investigating the Russia side of this, right? They`re investigating the Russia attack whether the Trump campaign colluded in the Russia attack just this week. Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn we now hand it over hundreds of pages to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in response to their subpoenas. After initially saying he would take the Fifth, now he`s handed over hundreds of pages of documents.
So, the intelligence committees we know are looking at Russia. But is anybody in Congress looking into whether or not the White House tried to obstruct justice, or otherwise illegally meddled with or tried to block any of the Russia investigations? Is that Bob Mueller alone or is Congress working on that, too? Well, as of tonight, we have a lot more information about that. As of tonight, it looks like the answer to that is possibly.
The committees in Congress that would have jurisdiction over obstruction of justice by the president or obstruction of justice by other officials in the executive branch the committees that would have jurisdiction over that would be the judiciary committees. Now, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the House is Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte. He appears to have no interest whatsoever in investigating this matter. He has certainly taken no steps to exercise his committees oversight role on this at all.
I should tell you just as an aside, since President Trump has been in office, the only reason Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has made any new at all is because he brewed up a little local controversy at home in Virginia when he got his speeding ticket amended so they dinged him for a faulty speedometer instead of foregoing 69 in a school zone. Like that`s it, that`s the only way he`s made news.
And he`s got the committee in the House that would oversee something like an investigation into obstruction of justice.
Now, a Democrat on his committee, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, wrote to Bob Goodlatte tonight and said basically, hey, we`re the judiciary committee, this is our turf, we should be investigating potential obstruction of justice now that these serious allegations have been levied against the president that he potentially obstructed justice, let`s have the president come in and testify under oath before our committee.
But that`s just a request to the chairman from one Democrat on his committee. So far, Chairman Goodlatte does not seem like he`s going to do anything on this. On the Senate side, though, ding-ding-ding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN REPORTER: Comey said that this would be his only testify tomorrow. Are you prepared to issue subpoena or try to get him before the Senate Judiciary Committee?
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: If under our laws, no, I shouldn`t say our laws, under our rules of our committee, if Senator Feinstein would agree to subpoena, I would.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s that good CNN reporter I mentioned before, Manu Raju from CNN. That`s him today basically door stopping Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. He`s the head of judiciary in the Senate, and being questioned by Manu Raju, he says, yes, if the top Democrat on my committee, if Dianne Feinstein wants to issue subpoenas on this part of the investigation, let`s say she wants to issue a subpoena to James Comey to get him to testify to us, too, yes, we will do that. I will agree to that.
Well, you know what? I think Senator Dianne Feinstein may in fact want to do something very much like that. And the reason I think that is because tonight she has just issued this, quote, Mr. Chairman in my capacity as ranking member, it is my strong recommendation that the Judiciary Committee investigate all issues that raise a question of obstruction of justice. These issues should be developed by our legal staff presented to us and be subject to full committee hearings.
This is a letter from Dianne Feinstein to the chair of the Judiciary Committee tonight to Chuck Grassley. In her letter, she summarizes James Comey sworn testimony, these absolutely explosive allegations against the president that the president pressured the FBI director to kibosh this active FBI criminal investigation into Mike Flynn.
And, of course, James Comey says the president pressured him on that, the president says, no, I didn`t. The question is whether or not James Comey has anything to back up his story. We know he says he has a memo that he wrote right after he came out of that meeting, of course, everybody in their mother is now trying to get a hold of that memo that Comey says he wrote right after that communication with the president memorializing that discussion.
But beyond that memo which you know they`re trying to pry out of this poor professor and they`re trying to pry out a Comey and they`re trying to pry away from Mueller, and they`re trying to pry out of the FBI. Beyond that memo tonight, Senator Dianne Feinstein takes it one step further, because James Comey says there`s another way that his side of the story can be corroborated. Number one, he`s swearing under oath. Number two, he says he`s got a memo that he wrote that night explaining what happened. And number three, he says he told other people right then when it happened who can back him up.
And we saw this coming last night but now here it is. Quote, Director Comey testified that he spoke to a number of individuals about his conversation with the president shortly after it happened. According to his oral testimony, this included the following individuals: one, deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, two, chief of staff to the FBI director, Jim Rybicki, three, general counsel of the FBI, James Baker, four, associate deputy director of the FBI, which is a third number three person in the agency, David Bowdich, and number five, chief of the national security branch of the FBI, Carl Ghattas.
Dianne Feinstein lists them all by name and tells Chuck Grassley, head of the Judiciary Committee, that the Judiciary Committee should hear from those witnesses, basically to see if they corroborate James Comey`s testimony. So, regardless of the Russia attack and this huge, existential question of whether the Russians had American confederates helping them in that attack, separate issue, regardless of that, if the president of the United States is potentially in legal jeopardy for having tried to shut down an active FBI criminal investigation, we believe the Republican- controlled House at least so far is basically just going to let that go. It`s not interested, at least not so far.
The Republican-controlled Senate however may be showing signs of life, at least if the Democrats and the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee there, if Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Grassley continue to work together. And we know that aside from Congress, we know that the special counsel is on that as well. He has the power to investigate. He has the power to prosecute.
And on that, I think there`s just there`s three things to take away on that tonight which we have just learned, OK? On the matter of what appears to be now an ongoing investigation by the special counsel into the president of the United States and whether he obstructed justice, three things to take away.
First, if the White House ultimately doesn`t like what Robert Mueller, the special counsel, concludes about the president, we now know they`re going to have a hard time smearing Robert Mueller the way there for example right now smearing James Comey. They will have a hard time smearing Bob Mueller the same way, not just because of Bob Mueller`s hard-earned reputation as a public servant they will have a hard time smearing Bob Mueller if they ever try to in the future, because NPR reports tonight that the Trump White House actually went through the motions of maybe hiring Bob Mueller themselves. They considered hiring Bob Mueller when they were looking for a replacement FBI director after the president fired James Comey.
So, in the end, they may end up trying to smear Bob Mueller somewhere down the road but you know what, it`s a matter of record that they liked him well enough to interview him and consider him themselves for running the FBI.
Second, new thing to know about Bob Mueller and the possibility that he`s now investigating the president for potential obstruction of justice, second thing to know about that tonight that we can report, it concerns grand juries. So far, we`ve known of at least one grand jury that is already involved in this case and that is issuing subpoenas. But the first one we learned about is in Virginia, that`s the grand jury that has been issuing subpoenas related to Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn and his ties to foreign countries.
So, that investigation into Flynn operated through the U.S. attorney`s office in eastern just covering the eastern district of Virginia. They have convened a grand jury. They have been issuing subpoenas and following an investigatory trail there, that investigation has already reportedly been folded into what Robert Mueller is doing at the FBI.
In addition to that Flynn investigation though, NBC news has reported that there is a separate federal investigation underway into Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, and I can tell you tonight that it is believed but not confirmed that that investigation, the Manafort investigation involves a second grand jury separate and apart from the one convened in the Mike Flynn matter.
So, that Manafort investigation has also now reportedly been folded in to what Robert Mueller is doing as special counsel. So, if you think about that for a second, right, if you think about what he`s doing in Washington, what his remit is, and these other ongoing investigations involving U.S. attorneys offices, involving grand juries, involving subpoenas already issued an investigation is already underway, those being put under his managerial purview as he proceeds here, if you think about that, if the special counsel ends up wanting to issue subpoenas or bring criminal charges, it is possible that he could do that work he could continue to work with either or both of those grand juries which are already convened and working on some aspect of this issue.
There is also a possibility that he could impanel a whole new grand jury, and that`s not the kind of thing that is done in public. Grand juries operate in secret. But as the slim and metaphor cases show, as the history of lots of other high-profile cases show, the impending of a new grand jury and the grand jury getting to work in terms of reviewing evidence and issuing subpoenas, that is the sort of thing that is impossible to keep secret forever.
And that brings us to the last thing to know about this tonight. It`s this guy.
In "The Washington Post" tonight, he`s described by a former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger as, quote, the most brilliant and most knowledgeable federal criminal lawyer in America period.
Wow, his name is Michael Dreeben. And today, "National Law Journal" confirms that Michael Dreeben is now part of the Robert Mueller investigation into the Trump-Russia affair and what now increasingly seems like the presidential obstruction of justice investigation that has arisen along with it.
Top federal criminal lawyer in America period. Buckle up.
MADDOW: Here`s a recent scoop from the British newspaper. It`s called "The Guardian". You see their headline here: Nigel Farage is person of interest in FBI investigation into Trump and Russia.
Nigel Farage is a far-right, very anti-immigrant politician in the U.K. In this country, he`s best known for his unexpected appearances with Donald Trump. Nigel Farage popping up at a Trump campaign rally in Mississippi of all places, Mississippi audiences like who`s this foreign guy?
Nigel Farage showing up regularly at Trump Tower. He was one of the first foreign politicians to be there to congratulate Donald Trump immediately after the election. There`s Nigel Farage again same look on his face, sharing an intimate delighted dinner with Donald Trump just after the inauguration.
And then there was the time Nigel Farage was spotted at the embassy of Ecuador in London. It`s a famous embassy because that`s where the WikiLeaks guy Julian Assange has lived for almost five years. Nigel Farage was seen leaving that embassy, that`s him the guy in the background, the purple tie. That was March 9th, that was the same day Julian Assange and WikiLeaks gave a press conference about them dumping a big trove of CIA cyber war stuff.
And a "BuzzFeed News" reporter caught up with Nigel Farage as he was leaving the embassy that day and asked him what he was -- what he was doing there that day. And Nigel Farage responded that he could not remember -- I love this quote so much I want to kiss it. Look at this.
Quote, I love this, I can read -- I can actually do it from memory. But approached by "BuzzFeed News" as he left to get into a car waiting around the corner, Farage said he could not remember what he had been doing in the building. I don`t know, was I just in a building? Really?
That may be the sort of thing that got FBI investigators working on the Trump-Russia probe in interested in Nigel Farage, according to "The Guardian" named a person of interest. "The Guardian" reported last week that they are looking at him, quote, because of his relationships with individuals connected to both the Trump campaign and Julian Assange, quote, one of the things the intelligence investigators have been looking at is points of contact in persons involved.
If you triangulate Russia, WikiLeaks, Assange and Trump associates, the person who comes up with the most hits is Nigel Farage, quote, he`s right in the middle of these relationships. He turns up over and over again. There`s a lot of attention being paid to him.
Now, for his part, Nigel Farage calls this, quote, hysterical nonsense. I described Nigel Farage as a British far-right, anti-immigrant politician, but I should tell you, he`s not technically a politician anymore. He actually resigned from the party that he once led in Britain, the U.K. Independence Party, UKIP. That`s the party that stood for Brexit, for getting Britain out of the European Union, that was its whole reason for being.
It was a little strange when Nigel Farage resigned as the head of UKIP less than two weeks after the Brexit vote, after the successful Brexit vote that he had pushed for his entire political life, he responded to that great success by quitting. And that was unusual -- I should tell you though that in last night`s bizarre and interesting national election in the United Kingdom, UKIP lost every single one of its seats.
As of now, Nigel Farage`s party, UKIP`s representation in parliament is zero. This follows the vote for Brexit, which is what their reason for being was.
More substantively, Brexit itself is now in question as is a lot else in British politics and European politics because of just what ended up being a political fiasco for the ruling Conservative Party. Prime Minister Theresa May is holding on as prime minister now but by a thumbnail. The whole point of this election was ostensibly to get clarity and to give her a mandate for Britain moving forward and Brexit, leaving the European Union. Instead, her government is weaker and more divided than it was before by a large margin.
She had said if her party lost six seats, that she wouldn`t be prime minister anymore. Her party lost 12 seats and she`s still trying to hold on. Nobody seems to know what that country wants to ask for at the Brexit negotiations that were supposed to start in less than two weeks. It`s chaos, we know a little something about that.
The second chaotic, unexpected, turn the world on its ear national vote in a very short amount of time.
Is this the new normal for big country big power politics now? Should we expect more wild unexpected swings that we have come to not expect in big powerful countries? Is this the new world?
Joining us now for the interview is somebody I am lucky to be able to turn to to help understand big political moments, Dan Rather, legendary anchor, now president of News and Guts Media.
Dan, it is wonderful to see you. Thank you for being here, my friend.
DAN RATHER, NEWS AND GUTS MEDIA: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Let me just -- I want to talk to about a few different things tonight, but let me just ask you about these election results in the U.K. Small-bore, obviously, it was a surprise result. But should we see this as a big global signal, something important about the kind of world we`re in now?
RATHER: Well, yes, I certainly think we can read much into it, that what you have is a pattern of angry voters doing surprising things at the poll, surprising leads to pollsters.
RATHER: We had it with Donald Trump in this country. They had it in France with their election. Germany had a very strong challenge to their leader. So, what`s happened in Great Britain is obvious that voters are angry, and now, whether you can extrapolate, Trump was elected by angry voters in this country. The prime minister is almost run out of office. By the way, I noticed some of the British pressure calling of quote, a zombie prime minister -- a terrible phrase.
MADDOW: Because she won`t be able to hold on.
RATHER: Because you won`t be able to hold on.
MADDOW: Not because she eats brain.
RATHER: So, it`s clearly in Great Britain, it`s a volatile and fluid situation. But if you were a leader the Democratic Party in this country, I think you`ll be thinking serious about what happened in Great Britain, because what the country voted to do was go -- they elected more leftist, if you will, politicians, left-of-center politicians. And if you were looking to the 2018 congressional elections in this country, (INAUDIBLE) can we tap into some anger about Donald Trump now. It might be a bridge too far but I think not and I think politicians in this country will be studying it but for that reason.
Now, but the Democratic Party has a real problem if they go very far with this analysis, if they take from Great Britain and saying, listen, an angry public was willing to go more to left-of-center, more Bernie Sanders, if you will. So, for we Democrats in 2020, should we pick a Elizabeth Warren or should we go to somebody root more toward the middle? I think it`ll mix in maybe too deep in finish but I think not.
The second thing is this is not good news for our own beloved United States of America, and here`s -- why it weakens the Western Alliance. A fluid volatile situation in Great Britain, with the prime minister just barely hanging on, some doubt ones you can hang on for very long, we`ll have Germany and France trying to get together to hold a center in Great Britain, France on the rise, Germany in the most powerful country in the most important country in Europe, now Britain at least for the moment on the plate. None of this is good news the United States. It`s very good news for the Russians.
MADDOW: Dan Rather, will you stay here for a moment. There`s a follow-on question I want to ask you about that in terms of the volatility and the hazy future for our own president.
MADDOW: What that means for our role in the world. Will you stay?
RATHER: Absolutely, you bet.
MADDOW: Dan Rather stays with us. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Back with us now is the great Dan Rather, who`s the president of News and Guts Media.
Dan, thank you for sticking with us.
RATHER: Appreciate it.
MADDOW: We were just talking about the instability in Britain after their big election, the possibility that Prime Minister Theresa May may not be prime minister for longer that they prolong that they may have to hold another election very soon. They had this referendum on Brexit that was going to get them out of the European Union. That`s now in question. We have no idea how that`s going to proceed. Europe has all this uncertainty. Our closest ally has all this uncertainty, and is going to be in a very volatile position for a long time.
Are we also in a volatile and weak position as a country because of the scandal that hangs over this president? Is it a big enough scandal that there`s uncertainty about the future of this presidency and our political volatility as a country?
RATHER: Well, first of all, I certainly think it`s serious enough to be concerned about the future of this particular presidency. I think it`s too far stretch to say right now at the very vitals of the country, because after all, the institutions are performing pretty well in the country. The courts perform pretty well. Parts of the Congress seem to come alive on pretty well.
So, our system of checks and balances, by the way including the press --
MADDOW: The press, yes.
RATHER: -- part of that, have finally taken some traction. Several months ago, I among others are saying, listen, are our institution is going to hold? Will their system of checks and balances hold? So, I think that`s on an encouraging side.
In terms of President Trump, look, if I use this phrase in regards to British election, it`s a volatile and fluid situation to say the least. We have now a real showdown -- if you will kind of a showdown in credibility gap between the president and who wasn`t in effect the top policeman in the country, the top cop in the country. Now, that`s joined -- now in President Trump particular complaint today, he went into White House survivor mode, but to have a president in a survival mode is extremely hurtful and because of how people overseas, particularly the leaders of foreign countries read that.
Now, your question was, are we in a situation in real peril? I would say the Trump presidency is in peril, and because it`s in peril, we are in some danger ourselves because there`s a lot needs to be done in the country. But, you know, there`s so much talk about Trump and Comey, and who`s telling the truth and isn`t telling truth? I think it`s really important for Americans to understand the big question and how this all started and how it really the direction we should go, is what did the Russians do?
RATHER: Because here you have a situation, the Russians pulled off what I call a psychological Pearl Harbor, a surprise attack that was devastating to the confidence of our whole system of elections and therefore a host government. It`s one of the great psychological warfare victories in the history of --
MADDOW: And it`s interesting because you can -- you can look in history in recent history and see them do very similar things to small countries in other countries in their geographic and ideological orbit. You know, former Soviet states and small countries on their borders. So, we could see it doing to them.
It was a shock and a surprise to us because we thought, hey, we think of ourselves in the country that`s protected by our oceans, but also we think of ourselves as, you know, the great power in the world, is the sole surviving superpower in the world, somebody who would never be susceptible to the kind of tactics that would work against these smaller countries that Russia has been influencing the --
RATHER: And believes if they tried it, it would work against us.
RATHER: In our hubris, if you want to use that word, we were too confident. We were overconfident.
Listen, the Russians never tried that here, it never would work in America. Well, it worked as a say too devastating if not catastrophic effect, and I call it a psychological Pearl Harbor.
But again, I want to keep focus on we need to get to the truth happens to the Russians. This is how all this business with the FBI director, the investigations and President Trump turned out. Now, President Trump today, he was desperate to change the narrative.
Comey yesterday for the one of the few days in the Trump presidency, another person control the narrative and he was masterful in weaving his own narrative as he would in presentation to a jury, and President Trump in effect said himself I`ve got gawker tomorrow no matter what it takes, and I`ve got to we have re-seize the narrative, which he did today. Most people tonight are not talking about Comey, except the senators side, to focus on what President Trump did and didn`t do.
MADDOW: Right. The new bombs that he`s thrown out --
RATHER: Well, the biggest thing he said was, I`m prepared to testify under oath. Mark well, he didn`t say when he was going to testify under oath.
RATHER: But, you know, that`s a headline.
And this be business being so coy about the tapes, listen, this is not normal. Let`s see it for what it is. If he has tapes, we need to have those tapes. We need to have the tapes played. This business of saying, well, I want to dole out a little news today, and I -
MADDOW: In a short period of time -- small period of time, a short period of time, you`ll find out the answer. He could give the answer now and just won`t.
RATHER: Absolutely. And question is, why won`t he give the answer now?
MADDOW: Yes, yes.
Dan Rather is president of News and Guts Media and a person I feel privileged to talk to every time you`re here, thank you, sir. Thank you.
RATHER: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Really appreciate it, my friend. Thank you.
All right, much more ahead tonight. Busy night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Big deal, a very, very big deal.
Not a big deal. That was a random still picture of Nigel Farage squeezing Donald Trump.
Do we have the big deal? I`ll give you a dollar.
Yes, are we on it? OK, go for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: It`s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. I was fired in some way to change or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. That is a -- that is a very big deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is a very big deal. Told you it was coming.
Former FBI Director James Comey saying under oath that he -- that he believes he was fired by the president because of his oversight of the Russia investigation. Under oath, he said president fired him over the Russia investigation and that is a big deal.
But the White House has now met that big deal testimony from James Comey with their own big deal, potentially problematic reaction. The president`s personal lawyer yesterday came out before reporters and told them that James Comey sworn testimony was not truthful. He said James Comey leaked information he should not have, although there were no allegations that there was any classified information involved here, and the only thing that James Comey said he leaked was his own recollections, his own written recollections of a conversation. The president himself today called James Comey a leaker, and said the account Mr. Comey swore to under oath was not true.
Now, the president`s personal attorney has followed that up by saying that he plans on filing complaints against former FBI Director James Comey, plans on filing complaints about him with the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Justice Department.
Now, I didn`t go to law school and I`m not a lawyer and I don`t know exactly how that works, but I know that James Comey isn`t a senator on the Judiciary Committee and I know he doesn`t work with the Justice Department anymore. So, why would you issue complaints about him to those entities to which James Comey has no affiliation? What are they going to do if they find the complaints to be substantiated, chase him down and give him a whack?
The White House response to James Comey testimony makes me wonder what exactly the White House, the president and his personal lawyer are getting out here, and whether they actually might be making it worse for themselves. And I don`t know whether that`s true because I`m not a lawyer but I do know the person to ask and that`s next.
MADDOW: When the president decided to line up some legal representation for himself on the Russia issue, he was not able to persuade any big-name D.C. lawyers or big-name D.C. law firms to represent him. He did bring on a lawyer who had previously represented him in some business disputes and, in fact, the lawyer who he brought on this lawyer who`s known for threatening to sue people who crossed Donald Trump in various ways.
Those threats from this particular lawyer and the past have included him threatening to sue "The New York Times" for reporting sexual harassment sexual abuse allegations against then presidential candidate Donald Trump. President Trump, then-candidate Trump also threatened to sue the women making those allegations themselves although those threats were made, the suits were never filed.
Now, now that he is representing the president in this Trump-Russia matter and other things that may arise from it, now the president`s lawyer says he will not file a lawsuit but he will file a complaint against the former director of the FBI, James Comey, with the Senate Judiciary Committee for something related to Director Comey`s testimony to the Senate yesterday. The president`s lawyer came out and said he was going to file that complaint with the Senate Judiciary Committee. NBC News can report tonight that as of tonight, he may have made that threat but they haven`t actually filed the complaint.
If they do, is it possible that that could be the president`s lawyer, president`s legal team, his defense strategy stepping in it and making things worse for themselves?
Joining us now is Barbara McQuade. She`s former us attorney for the eastern district of Michigan.
Ms. McQuade, thank you very much for being here. Really appreciate your time.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Thanks very much, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, this is sort of a narrow question but it`s an interesting one. James Comey has made these very serious allegations that the president tried to impede an ongoing FBI criminal investigation the president is refuting that testimony, and now his lawyer is threatening to file various complaints against James Comey, right from the venue of those complaints which I think is itself an interesting question, is there a possibility that this could be seen somewhere down the road as the president and his legal team essentially harassing or trying to intimidate somebody who is likely to be a witness against the president in some future legal proceeding?
MCQUADE: Well, it does seem like a bullying tactic. It seems like a very hollow threat to me. I don`t know that the Senate Judiciary Committee or the Justice Department has any recourse against Jim Comey in the situation. And I suppose you could suggest that this is some effort at witness intimidation, which is one of the classic ways that the obstruction of justice statute is charged.
Now, it`s been done so publicly and so clumsily that I doubt it would actually be charged by a lawyer in that way. But it`s certainly sort of that pattern in the court of public opinion at least I think of demonstrating further bullying tactics.
MADDOW: Listening to James Comey`s testimony yesterday, a lot of us non- lawyers and just citizen observers, journalists, looking at this sort of thing see what James Comey testified to yesterday and it sounds to us like he`s alleging obstruction of justice on the part of the president -- the president trying to impede or stop that that investigation. Is -- as a former us attorney -- is that what you heard in terms of James Comey allegations yesterday?
MCQUADE: Well, there`s certainly some pieces that could lead to that conclusion. He mentioned at least twice that whether this was obstruction of justice is a matter for Bob Mueller, the special counsel to look at, which suggest that he thinks that Bob Mueller is looking at that.
And it also seemed to me that Jim Comey is helping and do his work. He`s putting out the breadcrumbs he created for Mueller in his written statement a chronology of all the things that happened. You know, one of the first things a prosecutor does when investigating a case is put together a timeline so that you can see the sequence of events, you can see coinciding events, you can see that on the very same day that Sally Yates was over at the White House in the morning is the same day that Trump invites Comey over for dinner that night and asks him to pledge his loyalty.
So, it seems that Jim Comey at least has that in his mind.
MADDOW: Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney -- thank you very much your time tonight. I appreciate you being here.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, that`s about wrapping it up for us tonight. And it wraps up this week which I think will forever be known in the history of this scandal as Comey week.
I do want to say, though, I want to put something on your radar for the beginning of next week. One of the big bombshells, the big revelations, one of the big surprises that came out of Comey`s testimony were some sort of damning and ominous things that James Comey said under oath about the current attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions.
As of right now, Jeff Sessions is due to testify Tuesday morning, once in the House and once in the Senate. Jeff Sessions has a history of backing out of public open testimony right before he has to do it. But right now, as of tonight, he is still on the calendar for Tuesday morning.
So, plan you`re sick days accordingly.
I`ll see you again on Monday morning.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END