Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: June 8, 2018 Guest: Ned Price, Yamiche Alcindor, Jennifer Rubin, Neera Tanden, Barbara McQuade, Matthew Miller
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with the great Katy Tur in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening, Katy.
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: I feel bad for those trout. They don`t know what`s coming for them.
MADDOW: They -- you know, they`re probably safe.
TUR: I know --
MADDOW: I`m going to try to bother them, but I`m not very good.
TUR: Good to know.
MADDOW: Thank you, Katy.
TUR: FYI, trout. We have that Manafort filing that you talked about a moment ago on your show. We`re going to get into it a little more.
Rachel, thank you, have a wonderful weekend.
MADDOW: Thanks, Katy. Appreciate it.
TUR: And I`m Katy Tur, in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Tonight, Donald Trump is once again forcing us to ask -- what is behind the President`s public affection for Russia?
It`s a question we`ve been asking since at least the summer of 2016 when Donald Trump and I had this exchange right after he asked Russia to hack the e-mails of the Democratic presidential candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: You said the Russians, I welcome you to find those --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He has no respect.
TUR: You said, I welcome them to find those 30,000 e-mails of Hillary Clinton.
TRUMP: Well, they probably have them. I`d like to have them released.
TUR: Does that not give you pause?
TRUMP: No. It gives me no pause if they have it. If they have them, we might as well find --
TUR: To have a foreign government able to hack into --
TRUMP: Hey, you know what gives me more pause? That a person in our government, crooked Hillary Clinton --
TUR: What if it was someone else and not Hillary Clinton?
TRUMP: Here is what gives me more -- be quiet. I know you want to, you know, save her. If Russia or China or any other country has those e-mails, I mean, to be honest with you, I`d love to see them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Donald Trump`s strange affection for Russia has now opened a new rift between America and its closest allies. Before setting off for the Group of Seven Summit, the President said that Russia, the country that launched a cyber attack on America`s presidential election, should be allowed back into the G7.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? And I would recommend, and it`s up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting. It should be a part of it.
You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. And in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: The President`s comments caught the White House off guard and sparked an immediately -- immediate backlash from leaders at the summit.
A British government official had to remind the President why the G7 kicked out Russia four years ago, saying, quote, we should remind ourselves why the G8 became the G7. It was after Russia illegally annexed Crimea. Since then, we have seen malign activity from Russia in a whole variety of ways. Before any conversations can take place about Russia rejoining, it needs to change its approach.
The response from Capitol Hill was not any better. Republican Senator Ben Sasse called the President`s comments weak, adding Putin is not our friend and he is not the President`s buddy. He is a thug using Soviet-style aggression to wage a shadow war against America, and our leaders should act like it.
Donald Trump`s friendly comments on Russia came as he is taking more actions likely to please Vladimir Putin. "New York Magazine`s" Jonathan Chait observes today, one of Russia`s principal foreign policy goals for decades has been to split the U.S. from its allies. Whether by accident or by design, President Trump appears intent on bringing that dream to fruition.
Case in point, Donald Trump`s attacks on Europe and Canada over trade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: And, you know, they`re trying to act like, well, we fought with you in the wars. They don`t mention the fact that they have trade barriers against our farmers. They don`t mention the fact they`re charging almost 300 percent tariffs. When it all straightens out, we`ll all be in love again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Hours later, the tensions were on full display when President Trump met with Canada`s Justin Trudeau and France`s Emmanuel Macron at the G7 today, both of whom have exchanged angry tweets with the President over trade this week.
The President was late to the summit and he is leaving early. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy told me that it`s almost like the U.S. itself isn`t even part of the G7 and that nobody is happier than Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Now, it seems like it`s going to be a G6. It looks like we are on the verge of getting kicked out of the G7. They`re going to do some of these agreements without us.
I mean, listen, you can now see why the President -- why the Russian government cared so much about getting Donald Trump elected. I think that Putin is getting exactly what he wanted. He has paid no substantial price for interfering in our election. He has not moved one inch inside Crimea or Ukraine, and he now is being let back into the club.
And so the message coming from last week and this week seems to be that if you`re a friend of the United States, you get treated really shabbily. If you`re an enemy of the United States, you get top class treatment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Meanwhile, Russian state T.V. is praising Donald Trump. The dean of the Moscow State University reportedly said this week that Trump is, quote, smashing the E.U. with a sledgehammer. Adding, that`s why Putin says he is not trying to weaken the E.U. Why would he bother? Trump is doing all the work for him.
Let`s bring in our panel. Yamiche Alcindor is the White House correspondent for PBS "NEWSHOUR." She`s joining us from the site of the G7 Summit.
Ned Price is the former senior director and spokesperson for the National Security Council and a former CIA analyst. Jennifer Rubin is a conservative opinion writer at "The Washington Post." All three are MSNBC contributors.
Also joining us is Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress. She was also Hillary Clinton`s policy director during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Ned, let`s start with you. Donald Trump talking about Russia being let back into the G7, making it a G8 again. After all of the trade talk and of the tensions between him and our allies, how was that comment likely going down in the inner circles of our allies?
NED PRICE, DIRECTOR OF POLICY AND COMMUNICATIONS, NATIONAL SECURITY ACTION: Well, we saw how it went down, Katy. It was widely rejected. It was widely rejected by virtually all of our European partners and the Canadians. Only the Italians who have some business interests with Putin`s government wanted to go along with it.
But, look, there is a broader principle at play here. Donald Trump has not only alienated the United States from our allies -- from our European allies, from our Canadian allies.
He is actually trying to do something much more dangerous. He is trying to subvert, he is trying to erode, he is actually trying to destroy the rules- based international order that the United States built after World War II and we have led ever since.
And, frankly, this is what Vladimir Putin has long wanted. More than to tarnish America`s image, more than to be seen as on par with the American president, Vladimir Putin has wanted to tear down this order. This order that has, in some ways, ensured American hegemony over the past seven decades, and to replace it with something in his own imagine.
And just as Donald Trump is saying all of these outrageous things, Vladimir Putin is in China. He is in China meeting with President Xi where, together, they hope to build their own version of the G8.
And, you know, if that is the outcome, if our G8 is subverted to an international order that Vladimir Putin builds, that will not in our interest certainly, Katy.
TUR: Yamiche, does Donald Trump know what he is doing? Is he doing all of this on purpose?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think that it`s pretty clear that President Trump has a very clear set of reasons why he`s doing this, and he knows exactly what he`s doing.
Today, he tweeted that Canada and that -- the European Union countries that are part of the G7, that they were are all taking advantage of the United States. So this has been a thing that he has talked about on the campaign trail.
Both you and I covered him. He talked about the idea that America was going to be first. Part of the America First campaign was the fact that he thought that everyone else around us, including our allies, were people that would somehow have to pay more money to do business with the U.S.
And I think it`s really important that when Donald Trump was asked today whether or not the G6 would turn into the -- that the G7 would turn into the G6, he said I don`t really care what you call it. It doesn`t matter to me. So this is like -- there`s this idea that it`s not just as if he`s quietly doing this. He`s actually doing this very out in the open.
And the fact that you saw the French President today trading tweets with Donald Trump, saying, you know what, we can come to an agreement with just the six countries that we have and we can be isolated from the United States, that tells you that this is really an open argument. And that`s really, I think, very striking.
TUR: But, Jennifer, does he know that what he is doing is exactly what Vladimir Putin wants him to do? I`ve asked this question of a couple people today. Is he trying to create a new world order? Is that too outrageous to even ask?
Does he want to cast aside our allies and create a new alliance with more strong-arm, strongmen dictators like Vladimir Putin, like Xi Jinping, like the king of Saudi Arabia, like Kim Jong-un in North Korea who he is praising right now, who he is going to see in Singapore to try and make a deal on the nuclear program? Is he trying to create new relationships and cast off the old on purpose?
JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, let me first observe that if President Obama did half of this stuff, the Republicans in Congress and in think tanks around Washington would be up in arms. So it`s nice that Ben Sasse has returned to his Twitter feed, but I think he could probably do a little bit more than that.
As far as Donald Trump is concerned, I think it is very clear that he doesn`t like our allies. That he finds them annoying. He finds them -- that they do take advantage of us in some fashion.
He doesn`t understand trade, so he thinks that we are losing money to them in some fashion or another. He looks upon Mexico as a threat because they send us their rapists and their murderers. Remember that one?
And by contrast, the dictators have learned to play the game. They know he`s vain, they know he`s narcissistic, so they roll out the red carpet, they flatter him to death. He has an admiration for strong men so, of course, he gets along better with them.
They figured out the game, and they are, in some sense, his model. They are authoritarian. They hate their press. They don`t like dissent either. So in some sense, it is a bizarre affinity that he does find for dictators around the world.
And as far as human rights, as far as democracy --
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I would --
RUBIN: -- he doesn`t really care.
TUR: Hold on. I don`t know what you`re talking about. Donald Trump, today, said he`s a really big fan of the First Amendment, and I personally, totally believe him.
RUBIN: Right. You felt that, Katy, I know.
TUR: I did, I felt it really deep inside. From everything I experienced on the campaign trail, it really -- it came through.
Neera, here is what Susan Glasser wrote in "The New Yorker" today -- senior government officials in London, Berlin and other European capitals, and in Washington have told me now -- they now worry that Trump may be a greater immediate threat to the alliance than even authoritarian great power rivals such as Russia and China.
So, Neera, our allies are looking at us and saying, hold on, it doesn`t look like you`re our friend. You might be more of a problem to us than anything else.
TANDEN: Well, I mean, having your greatest ally -- the United States has been the greatest ally of every country in Europe for decades. And having your ally break apart from you is a deep, deep threat.
But I guess I would just differentiate a little bit. There is a discussion. A lot of people think, oh, Trump just likes strong men. He just like authoritarians because he`s kind of a bully and he likes them, but what we should really understand here is that Trump has a different relationship with Vladimir Putin.
He treats Vladimir Putin better than anyone else. China, anyone else. Just let`s remember, it`s not just that Putin has not receded in Crimea -- or Russia hasn`t receded in Crimea. It`s that Russia recently attacked an ally by basically trying to murder British citizens and, of course, did what he did to our elections and helped install Donald Trump or took actions to help Donald Trump`s election.
So, essentially, think of the message it`s sending to our national security apparatus who`s trying to protect us from Russian interference in the next election, that Donald Trump is saying, in possibly the cheapest date imaginable, Russia has to do nothing and they will reenter the G8. It`s, frankly, ludicrous. And different than he treats any other country.
TUR: Ned --
RUBIN: And Neera`s point is --
TUR: Go ahead, Jennifer.
RUBIN: -- also applicable to the --
RUBIN: -- to the Middle East. Everything that he is doing there delights Russia. Dumping the JC --
RUBIN: -- POA and allowing our allies to kind of go it alone? That`s great with Putin. He is propping up Iran. You want to give Putin Syria? Oh, he`ll do that too. He`ll sign that away.
So everything that he is doing really does inure to Russia`s benefit in the Middle East. It`s extraordinary.
TUR: Ned, take us a step back or give us the larger picture. What does it mean if we don`t have these strong relationships any longer? What does it mean if our allies suddenly don`t look to us as a great friend or somebody that they can rely on? What does that mean for our future?
PRICE: Well, I think what Donald Trump doesn`t appear to understand in any of this is not just that this is the rules-based international order that we built, but this is the rule-based international order that we actually wrote, that works in our favor, that works in the favor of liberal democracies around the globe.
It allows for free trade. It allows for partnership across the board. This is what the American -- this is what our American system of international relations has been predicated upon since the end of World War II.
What Vladimir Putin wants to replace it with is something that does not at all resemble what has allowed us to thrive, what has allowed us with our soft power to spread our values around the world, and what has allowed us to flourish as an economy. Donald Trump is really, whether he knows it or not, trying to tear all of that down.
TUR: Yamiche, you`re there, we`re not. What`s the reaction like in Canada on the ground?
ALCINDOR: Well, the reaction is really that people are taken aback by the idea that the United States, which has played a really big role in the G7 and has really played a big role in promoting free trade and has really been a country that people have looked to for leadership, that they are stepping away from that.
And I think a lot of the U.S. officials that I talked to, people that are familiar with the summits here, say that they don`t know what comes next. If the U.S. backs out and said that they don`t want to be a leader here, does that mean that Germany then becomes a leader here? Does that mean that Vladimir Putin somehow, even with -- even outside of the G7, does he now have a bigger voice on the world stage?
And then, of course, people bring up the fact that the President is leaving early tomorrow morning. He`s skipping a meeting about climate change, which is a big deal for a lot of our allies that are still trying to work with us after he pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.
That he`s now going to meet in Singapore with the leader of North Korean, and a lot of people are worried that, even as he goes to that, that that`s giving another person who is problematic to a lot of our allies even more of a voice and even more of a platform. So I think people here are very worried about the future of world order.
TANDEN: Can I just --
TUR: Yes, go ahead.
TANDEN: Just one quick point, which is, as all of this is happening, China is trying to be and is more ascendant in the world. So it`s not just that the United States is weakening our allies. Instead by weakening the western alliance, it is strengthening the hand of both Russia and China at a time where they are trying and are being more assertive and powerful in the world stage.
So it is a little bit of a zero-sum game. The weakening of American leadership is strengthening, essentially, people and countries that have been identified as more of our adversaries by this National Security Council.
TUR: Ned Price and Yamiche Alcindor, thank you very much for joining us.
Coming up, what Donald Trump said when asked if he would pardon Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort on the day Robert Mueller indicted the 20th person since his investigation began. There is breaking news on that story.
And will Robert Mueller consider perjury charges against Donald Trump Jr. for his congressional testimony? That, too, is coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that you are above the law --
TRUMP: No, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- that you can pardon yourself?
TRUMP: No, I`m not above the law. I do have an absolute right to pardon myself, but I`ll never have to do it because I didn`t do anything wrong. And everybody knows it.
There`s been no collusion. There`s been no obstruction. It`s all a made- up fantasy. It`s a witch-hunt. No collusion, no obstruction, no nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: And everybody knows that. That was Donald Trump this morning, once again, claiming that he could pardon himself and that there is nothing to investigate regarding his presidential campaign and Russia.
Donald Trump was also asked if he would pardon his former campaign chairman and his long-time personal lawyer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you pardon Paul Manafort?
TRUMP: I haven`t even -- I haven`t even thought about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about Michael Cohen?
TRUMP: I haven`t even thought -- I haven`t thought about any of it. It certainly is far too early to be thinking about that.
TRUMP: They haven`t been convicted of anything. There`s nothing to pardon. It`s far too early to be -- it is far too early to be thinking about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Today, Trump`s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was indicted for obstruction of justice for alleged witness tampering. Special Counsel Robert Mueller also indicted Konstantin Kilimnik, a long-time business associate of Paul Manafort who was alleged to have ties to Russian intelligence.
These charges are related to the charges Manafort is already facing regarding his foreign lobbying work before he joined the Trump campaign.
And breaking tonight, the Manafort legal team has just responded to these charges in a filing which reads, in part, from a scant record, the Special Counsel conjures a sinister plot to corruptly persuade two of Mr. Manafort`s former business associates to perjure themselves at the upcoming trial in September.
The new charges of witness tampering made by the Special Counsel should be seen for what it is, an attempt to derail the modified conditions of release at the 11th hour. There is no reason to believe that the latest charge has somehow increased the risk of flight in this case.
Joining us now are Barbara McQuade, a former federal prosecutor, now a professor of law at the University of Michigan. She`s an MSNBC legal contributor. And Matt Miller, former spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder and an MSNBC contributor.
Barbara, first to you. In this argument that Manafort`s lawyers are trying to make, they`re trying to say that not only is there very little evidence that Mueller`s team has produced, just a couple text messages that were very short text messages. But also in talking about or in filing this, it created a lot of news coverage that will negatively impact Paul Manafort`s ability to get a fair trial.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN: Well, of course, today, we had the superseding indictment where a grand jury found that there is probable cause to issue these charges. So they were satisfied based on the evidence of text messages and statements made by the witnesses who were approached.
You know, I know it may appear to some people that Robert Mueller is piling on, Paul Manafort has been indicted twice in two separate forms, but this is a really special crime. It`s a crime on the court. It`s a crime that goes to the very integrity of the criminal justice system.
And so in many ways, you know, prosecutors have a lot of discretion to decide what to charge and what to let go. When it comes to something like this, witness tampering, prosecutors feel very strongly about exercising their discretion to charge because they need to defend the honor of the system.
In addition, I would think that they want to make sure that this conduct becomes part of the trial because it shows evidence of what`s known as consciousness of guilt. Someone who tries to get witnesses to lie for them shows evidence that they believe that they`re guilty and will be found guilty if the witness testifies truthfully.
TUR: Matt, I read the filing from Manafort`s team. They don`t mention -- they do mention the text messages, but they don`t mention what Mueller`s team mentioned which is what Barbara just alluded to, that the people that he was contacting told the Special Counsel that they believed that Paul Manafort was trying to get them to perjure themselves.
MATTHEW MILLER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Yes, it`s an important thing he left out. Look, I think Manafort`s attorneys are making the best arguments they can, which is basically that, you know, Mueller has a different interpretation of the facts than they do.
You know, he`s going to argue at trial, because of the underlying charges, that he was not -- you know, he`s going to argue that he was not acting as an unregistered foreign agent. That the Hapsburg group, this group of former European politicians, was operating only in Europe and was not operating in the United States.
And that`s what he was trying to tell these witnesses. He wanted to talk to them to say, don`t you remember that`s only what they were doing? The problem with it is it doesn`t -- that version of the truth doesn`t match with the underlying reality.
We know that the former European politicians that he hired came to the U.S., met with members of Congress. One of them took out an -- wrote an op-ed for "The New York Times," so it`s not exactly, you know, a private piece of information. There is public, documented evidence that the work he hired them to do was in the United States.
So when he goes to them and says, don`t you really remember that the work we did is in Europe, that is contradicted by the facts. He should know it. And those people, obviously, know it, and that`s why they were so concerned when they got those phone calls and got those text messages.
TUR: And here what`s "The New York Times" is reporting tonight.
Even after Mr. Manafort was first indicted by the Special Counsel in October 2017, he continued communicating with Mr. Kilimnik. Several of Mr. Manafort`s allies said they had urged him to stop communicating with Mr. Kilimnik, who is known to associates as K.K., because they fear that his communications are being monitored and that he is neither discreet nor tactful.
And, Barbara, Kilimnik is a Russian citizen. It`s believed that he is in Russia right now. By indicting him, what is the Special Counsel hoping to achieve? It seems pretty clear that he wouldn`t be extradited for this.
MCQUADE: Yes, it`s probably unlikely that he could actually bring him to stand trial in the United States, but it brings him into the narrative. It is the Department of Justice`s policy not to name by name anyone that you`re not going to charge. And so, by charging him, they can now bring him into the conversation and talk about him.
It`s possible they have evidence that names him by name. There`s a phrase in the Justice Department called name and shame. And so if you know that someone has done something wrong, even if you aren`t able to get your hands on him, that`s one way of dealing with it.
The other thing is they can put out a red notice with Interpol all across the country. And so if Mr. Kilimnik were to try to travel to any third country, some European country with whom we do have an extradition treaty, then he could be extradited to the United States to stand trial. So there is some value in publicly naming him in this situation.
TUR: Robert Mueller is trying to get the terms of Paul Manafort`s bail revoked. There was supposed to be a hearing next week. I guess that hearing could end up moving because he has got to appear in court to respond officially to this new indictment. What are the chances that the judge is going to decide to put him in jail as he awaits trial, Barbara?
MCQUADE: I think the chances are really quite high. I think witness tampering, as we said, is a very serious thing. And we now have the additional step that has been taken of a grand jury finding probable cause that this crime has been committed.
Under the Bail Reform Act, that means that there is now a rebuttable presumption of detention. And so the burden is now on Paul Manafort and his lawyers to convince the judge that there are conditions that can satisfy her that he will not continue to contact other people and try to influence witnesses.
And so the ball`s in his court. It puts him in a tough spot because, you know, he doesn`t want to testify at this stage. He probably wants to preserve that opportunity for trial. He doesn`t want to incriminate himself. And so I think he`s facing a very high burden now that will favor detention unless he can say something to satisfy the judge.
TUR: Matt, there`s also some news out about Michael Cohen. Today, a federal judge said U.S. President Donald Trump should publicly file his objections to findings of a court-appointed Special Master reviewing documents seized in a probe of the business dealings of his long-time personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
The Special Master has reported that 162 files out of more than 292,000 reviewed so far were privileged or partially privileged and seven were highly personal. Allowing President Trump to publicly file his objections, is that a win? Is it a loss? How does that play for SDNY, the Southern District of New York?
MILLER: You know, I think what they`re saying is, to the President`s lawyers, if you want to come in and argue that some of the materials that the Special Master has found are not privileged, if you want to come and argue that they`re actually properly protected privileged communications between Michael Cohen and his client, your now client, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, you`re not going to be able to do that in secret.
You`re not going to be able to do that under seal. You`re going to have to make those arguments publicly and let not just the parties in the case see it but all -- you know, all of the public.
You know, I would assume that the President`s lawyers would like to do as much of this in private as possible. It`s not comfortable for him to have this continue to drag out publically. And to that extent, I think it`s not a win for him.
TUR: Well, will he have to say what`s -- or will his legal team have to say what`s in the e-mails that they`re objecting to, or can they be more vague about it, allude to it?
MILLER: I would suspect that they will make some of the arguments public. And if there is something that they really want to argue is specially privileged, you might see them do that. They might try to take another run in making that in a redacted filing or in a private argument to the judge.
Because if it is a properly protected, if that`s their argument, attorney- client communication, obviously, the point of that being privileged --
MILLER: -- is you don`t want to make it public.
TUR: Good point. Matt, Barbara, please stay with us because I want to ask you if Robert Mueller will consider perjury charges against Donald Trump Jr. and Erik Prince for allegedly lying to the Congress. That`s coming up right after this.
TUR: The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee believes some witnesses in the Committee`s Russia investigation committed perjury, and he wants Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate.
Yesterday, Congressman Adam Schiff released a letter he sent to the Committee`s Chairman Devin Nunes, two weeks ago, asking him to give Mueller the transcripts of all the interviews the Committee conducted during its investigation.
In the letter, Schiff wrote, these materials may be important to Mr. Mueller`s investigation and shed additional light on the issues of collusion and obstruction of justice. I also have concerns that certain witnesses may have testified untruthfully before our Committee and believe that Mr. Mueller should consider whether perjury charges are warranted in light of the additional evidence in his possession.
Congressman Schiff told MSNBC news he thinks Donald Trump Jr., Roger Stone, and Erik Prince are among those who should be investigated for potential perjury.
All of the House Intelligence Committee`s interviews were closed-door. According to Schiff, the Committee was supposed to publically release the transcripts after Chairman Nunes ended the investigation in March, but Republicans on that Committee went back on that promise.
Here is the explanation Congressman Schiff gave about that on this program last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: And I think they did so for a couple reasons. For one thing, the transcripts showed just how often the Republican majority acted as defense lawyers for the President rather than true investigators, how often the witnesses were evasive with us, as well as some of the evidence we found on the issues of collusion and obstruction of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Barbara McQuade and Matt Miller are back with us.
So, Matt, is this something that could potentially happen?
MILLER: It ought to happen. I know that Schiff has said he`s exploring ways that the Committee doesn`t vote to release those transcripts to Mueller, whether he can just do it unilaterally on his own, which would be a dramatic step, but this is a Committee where, you know, kind of decorum and the usual rules have broken down.
You know, there -- we know that Erik Prince, if you look at the -- his transcript has been released publicly. It does appear that he did not tell the truth about this meeting he had in the Seychelles and the circumstances of that meeting.
We don`t know what, particularly, it was that has gotten Adam Schiff concerned about Donald Trump Jr.`s testimony, but we know he went and told the Senate Judiciary Committee that other than this, you know, famous Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, he did not accept other meetings with foreign officials offering help from foreign governments.
We later found out that wasn`t true. He`d met with emissaries of the United Arab Emirates. So if he said that same thing to the House Intelligence Committee, that would appear to be a false statement.
So, you know, I understand why maybe the Committee wouldn`t want to release them publicly, although they did pledge to do it. It`s hard to see what the harm is in turning those over to, you know, Robert Mueller who is, you know, after all, you know, conducting a perfectly legitimate legally authorized investigation.
There`s no harm in them to doing it. If the Republicans don`t want to do it, I think it`s a clear sign they just don`t want to do anything that will let this investigation move forward.
TUR: Wouldn`t Robert Mueller, though, be interviewing Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince, Roger Stone? Aren`t we under the assumption that, at some point, Robert Mueller is going to get to those interviews on his own, if the team hasn`t already done them, and wouldn`t necessarily need the testimony that was done in a -- in Congress, Barbara?
MILLER: Well --
TUR: Or Matt, go ahead.
MILLER: Well, so that gets you to a very -- to one of the differences between the House committees and the Department of Justice. Look, it depends on the status of those witnesses.
We know that Roger Stone has never been called before the grand jury. He has never done an interview. He said he`s never been contacted.
TUR: Well, that`s what he said. That`s what he said.
MILLER: Yes, that`s what he said. And that would typically lead you to believe he`s probably a target of the investigation because the Department typically won`t subpoena targets of the investigation to the grand jury.
So there may be an instance here where the -- you know, because of the Department of Justice`s kind of rules and the way they typically operate, he may not have subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to the grand jury, may not have subpoenaed Roger Stone, whereas they have come and testified before Congress.
TUR: Barbara, what`s your take?
MCQUADE: Yes. I think that Robert Mueller would like to see those transcripts because they would shed light on things. And also to the extent that they said statements that may be false. There was some suggestion that they may have -- Representative Schiff wants to have an inquiry into whether they committed perjury there.
So I would think that Robert Mueller would be interested in looking at the transcripts, one, to gain information about his own investigation and, two, to determine whether there is perjury. Now, I will tell you that charging someone with perjury is more difficult than it sounds. You have to prove that the person then and there knew that they were making a false statement.
And it`s often easy to wiggle out of that, to say I didn`t understand the question, we were talking past each other. And frankly, members of Congress aren`t always the best questioners because sometimes they`re engaged more in political posturing than they are following up with their questions. They have time limits.
And so I don`t know that even if he wanted to, Robert Mueller would be able to look at that transcript and he will prove that there was false testimony.
TUR: Or if he did want to. If Robert Mueller did want to see those transcripts, does he have any recourse to get them from Congress? Could he go to Rod Rosenstein? Is there a process?
TUR: Barbara or Matt? Jump ball.
MCQUADE: Yes. I don`t know that the Department of Justice likes to send subpoenas to Congress. You know, there is a respect for separate branches of government. Usually, these things are worked out informally.
And so, as Matt said, if Adam Schiff wanted to turn them over on his own, I suppose he could in the same way Senator Feinstein released transcripts earlier. But I think he -- even if had the power to, I think he`d be very reluctant to serve a grand jury subpoena on a congressional committee.
TUR: Matt, is that true?
MILLER: Yes, absolutely. Look, it`s very difficult for the Department of Justice even to -- you know, there have been repeated court fights over the Department of Justice trying to get congressional records at times.
You know, Congress has protections under the speech and debate clause. I think it would be very difficult. It would be a long court fight with an uncertain ending if they were to send that kind of subpoena.
TUR: Barbara McQuade, Matt Miller, happy Friday. Thanks for joining us.
MILLER: Thank you.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Katy.
TUR: And coming up, most House Republicans including Paul Ryan have tried not to oppose the President in public, but some new polls say maybe they should.
TUR: With fewer than five months before the midterm elections, Speaker Paul Ryan has a tough job trying to hold on to the House of Representatives for Republicans while conservatives in the House are making that all the more difficult.
On Wednesday, Ryan showed some distance from President Trump when he said he agrees with Representative Trey Gowdy on Spygate. Here`s what Trey Gowdy said and Paul Ryan`s reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you agree with Trey Gowdy?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Yes. Normally, I don`t like to comment on classified briefings. Let me say it this way.
I think Chairman Gowdy`s initial assessment is accurate. I have seen no evidence to the contrary of the initial assessment that Chairman Gowdy has made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: And that night on Fox News, one of Trump`s most loyal supporters issued this threat to Paul Ryan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: I run in the more conservative circles of the House, and I have never, up into this point, heard a single person talk about removing Speaker Paul Ryan from the speakership.
Today, for the first time, I was hearing colleagues say, well, you know, if Speaker Ryan won`t stand with us in this fight over the essentials of our democracy, do we need to look at other choices?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Well, yesterday morning, Paul Ryan tacked back towards Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: Let me say one more point in all of this, in any of this. There has been no evidence that there`s any collusion between the Trump campaign and President Trump and Russia.
Let`s just make that really clear. There`s no evidence of collusion. This is about Russia and what they did and making sure they don`t do it again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Making matters more complicated for Republicans, in the NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 48 percent of registered voters say they`re more likely to support a candidate who promises to be a check on Trump versus 23 percent who are less likely. That is a 25-point difference.
Democrats are also favored to control Congress by 10 points, 50 percent favor Democrats while 40 percent back Republicans.
Now, do you want to know what President Trump said about Paul Ryan today? That`s next.
TUR: This week, Paul Ryan displayed a little bit of independence from President Trump when he said he agreed with Trey Gowdy who said he is convinced that the FBI did what Americans would want them to do during its investigation of the Trump campaign.
Now, here is what Donald Trump had to say today about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s your response to Paul Ryan saying the FBI did the right thing regarding the intelligence --
TRUMP: I think if you look at what Paul Ryan is saying, it didn`t come out that way. The fact is they had people in our campaign. They had people doing things that have never been done in the history of this country, and it really is a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Back with us are Neera Tanden and Jennifer Rubin.
Jennifer, Paul Ryan didn`t say what he meant to say. That`s not what he meant to say at all. That`s what the President says.
RUBIN: You know, it`s really remarkable. No matter how many times this is disproven by how many people, the President will repeat the same lie after lie after lie.
There is no evidence. There was no spy planted on the campaign. Maybe he should talk to Trey Gowdy who apparently saw the documents and got the briefing.
I would also say his continual claim of no collusion, no collusion, is also false. We know, for example, about George Papadopoulos reaching out to a Russian source to get dirt on Hillary. We know about the Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016 in which they`re promised dirt on Hillary and they meet.
If you think that collusion is seeking from a foreign power information, something of value, to help you win an election, yes, we have evidence of that already. The question is how extensive it was and who all was involved in it.
TUR: Jennifer just laid out all the points, Neera. Why is Paul Ryan, somebody who is retiring in January, why would he stake his reputation going out and saying something like there`s been no evidence whatsoever of any collusion, nothing to see here? What is going on with Paul Ryan?
TANDEN: Well, I think what the polling shows and the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows is that Paul Ryan is between a rock and a hard place.
So, obviously, that rock is Donald Trump and the stranglehold he has on Republican base voters, who Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republican Party are desperate to ensure that they turn out for a Republican Congress that is not that popular.
And the hard place is independent voters, obviously Democrats, but really a strong majority of independent voters who would like the -- who are basically tired of the insanity that we`re dealing with every day from Donald Trump and want a check on it and want a check on it by a very strong margin.
And I think that`s really the basic problem for Paul Ryan, who has demonstrated no conviction, obviously did basically a 180 within the course of a day. Because I`m sure someone at the White House explained that the President had some disfavor about what he said, and so he came up with this statement which is absolutely patently false.
We -- it is -- Jennifer`s a hundred percent correct. We know there`s been collusion. The question is whether it`s criminal collusion. But there has actually been determined facts that the Trump campaign itself was colluding with Russia to ensure Hillary lost and Donald Trump won.
TUR: Does that explain, though -- the rock and the hard place, does that explain -- and the desire to maintain control in Congress, does that explain what Mitt Romney said about Donald Trump? I believe this was today.
I think President Trump will be re-nominated by my party easily, and I think he`ll be re-elected solidly. I think that not just because of the strong economy and because people are increasingly seeing rising wages, but I think it`s also true because I think our Democrat friends are likely to nominate someone who is really out of the mainstream of American thought.
This is Mitt Romney who went to a stage during the campaign in 2016 in Utah and said Donald Trump was a con, he was a fraud, he was a fake, he was very, very not smart, and who mocked him for all of his failed businesses. What is going on with Mitt Romney, Jennifer Rubin?
RUBIN: I think he had a spasm of conscience during the campaign and that quickly passed, and he is now back to the finger in the wind routine.
This is, of course, what many of us who were formerly in the Republican Party predicted, that Donald Trump has had an utterly corrosive, corrupting influence on just about everyone in the Republican Party. Whether it`s Paul Ryan. Whether it`s Mitt Romney.
Apparently, the only Republicans who see fit to challenge him in any fashion are those who not only want to retire but they want to run for president in 2020, or if you`re a governor of Ohio. Other than that, the Republicans are essentially rolling over and playing dead time and time again. And it`s pathetic. It really is.
TANDEN: It`s --
TUR: The profiles in courage are also the profiles in retreat.
Neera, what do you make of this, though? If you look at what voters want, would you vote for a candidate who promises to be a check on Trump? Forty- eight percent says they`re -- say they are more likely to do that, 23 percent say they are less likely. These are just registered voters in general. It`s not down to party.
TANDEN: Well, so I think this is -- first, what I`d say about Mitt Romney is that Mitt Romney is running for Senate in Utah. And he actually -- in the state party nominating process, he had a real threat from a hardline conservative. And I think he is trying to prove -- just like a lot of Republicans but particularly because he was critical of Donald Trump in the past, he is trying to prove that he is conservative bona fide.
We can`t forget that a House member this week was almost -- almost lost her seat because she was critical -- a Republican House member was critical of Donald Trump a year and a half ago, and she is facing -- she faced a threat and was forced into a runoff.
So Donald Trump is obviously a deep threat to any Republican who is willing to step up and say he`s done -- you know, criticize him in any way. They face deep political consequences. But I think what your poll shows -- deep political consequences with Republicans.
But what the poll shows is that a strong majority of Americans need -- and just for sanity`s sake, I`d say, at this point, need a check on the kind of constant barrage, the culture of corruption, the day in and day out news. We have five instances of Pruitt`s corruption a day these days. You know, people want some accountability and Republicans enforce that they can`t do that.
TUR: And a president who says that he can pardon himself if he wants, there`s also that.
Neera Tanden, Jennifer Rubin, happy Friday. Thank you so much for joining us.
And tonight`s last word is next.
TUR: Time for tonight`s last word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Some sources are saying that President Trump has been complaining that he can`t watch porn at the White House.
O`BRIEN: Yes. Yes, complaining about it. Yes. When he heard this, Bill Clinton said, wow, thank God Hillary lost, man.
O`BRIEN: Dodged a bullet, man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: That`s tonight`s last word. President Trump is going to Singapore this weekend where he`ll meet -- where he will meet the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, early next week.
You can learn everything you`ve ever wanted to know about the North Korean dictator Sunday night on MSNBC. "HEADLINERS: KIM JONG-UN" airs Sunday night at 9:00 right here on MSNBC.
Up next, THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS.
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