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