Bombshell: Trump Pushed For Ally To Take Over Federal Probe | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC

the New York Times breaking another clear bombshell revelations about what the paper calls Donald Trump’s two-year war on multiple investigations into his activities and presidency this report details Donald Trump’s extreme and potentially illegal efforts to thwart federal investigators and they say they note it started just weeks after he took office now before I go any further let’s be clear if the themes here in this big report which has the White House nervous tonight if these themes are familiar given Trump’s public tirades against the FBI and rats and people who cooperate with law enforcement that familiarity does not make this news tonight this story normal or okay tonight legal experts are already weighing in saying The Times account is chilling will speak to several in a moment but let me give you the facts Donald Trump reportedly inappropriately pushed his acting Attorney General the override Justice Department policy to install an ally to take over a federal probe in New York which was looking into Trump’s own payments to women as well as any liability for his 2016 campaign New York Times revealing for the first time Trump’s own White House lawyers were also separately so worried about what they viewed as false statements made about his firing of Mike Flynn they put together an entire confidential memo detailing the White House’s own falsehoods and yes lies the report also looks into how Trump’s efforts go beyond Twitter tirades and a more secret set of strategy sessions trying to get congressional Republicans to use their power on the hill to attack or undermine mullet and the New York investigation is especially crucial as we’ve reported on this very show federal prosecutors there are famously independent their work can outlast Mulder on the timeline and they were the prosecutors who threw the book at michael cohen and have of course this open probe that involves that National Enquirer drama that everyone’s heard about well The Times is reporting that Trump tried specifically to get DOJ to get a loyalist to take over the probe this was as the feds were bearing down on that hush money trail that dates back to 2016 the account specifically is Trump called his own new acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker who place sessions and push for a Trump ally a lawyer named Jeff Berman to take over that pro now Berman was seen as so close to Trump he’d already recused himself from the New York probe a kind of a New York echo of Jeff Sessions decisions that so angered Trump in the original Moeller case now that was the request that’s big on its on itself this New York Times report though is that Whittaker refused and you may know from following these kind of stories that’s the kind of leak that would obviously benefit Whittaker who just left his post as Acting AG it benefits him more than it would benefit Donald Trump and then the report notes again against Trump’s interest that he quotes soured on Whittaker but what does not help Whittaker is that he just denied that Trump ever pressured him like this under oath earlier this month at no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsels investigation or any other investigation now the key language there is any other investigation tonight Democrats saying this report is quote very concerning and it’s a reason they want Whittaker to at least clarify his testimony The Times raises the concept of quote perjury we can’t report yet whether the house views it that way that’s yet to be determined now only Donald Trump knows where he may have legal vulnerability and where he may not it’s possible that he has no owner ability anywhere in the country totally possible but this story links was something that we’ve reported earlier on this show when documenting the legal pressure points of those prosecutors in New York they have jurisdiction over Trump’s business and some of his campaign which is why it was so striking that Trump took that unusual step of personally interviewing the very lawyer The Times now reports he wanted in charge of this probe just like Donald Trump took the unusual step of personally interviewing the now famous lawyer Preet Bharara who originally held that post when Trump took office that was in that Trump Tower meeting which had no precedent from any presidential transition in history it brings me no joy to tell you that these are the cases we’ve been following but this is the office we’ve been following it just happens to be what The Times is zeroing tonight none of this is normal and the times makes that explicit writing Donald Trump’s attempts to defang the investigations has been voluminous Lee covered in the news media to such a degree that many Americans have lost track of how unusual his behavior is and in this piece tonight they go on to say fusing the strands reveals an extraordinary story of a president who’s attacked the law enforcement apparatus of his own government like no president in history like no president in history this is real stuff it comes right now as a new Attorney General is overseeing Bob Muller like no other president in history we should note that Donald Trump’s own allies who know about the law say the key investigation he would need to control the dangerous one was in New York I think that the Muller investigation is not the president’s biggest problem and that the Southern District of New York investigation has always been much more dangerous I’ve got some very special guests to break this all down Maya Wiley former counsel of mayor of New York who also served as a civil prosecutor in that very division the Southern District Bill Kristol director of the group defending democracy together as well as former RNC Chairman Michael Steele I’m gonna move in a row starting with Maya when you see the office we used to work back in the headlines from this New York Times report and the effort to get Whittaker to do it what comes to mind and is this itself potential elements of intent or obstruction well first of all what comes to mind is exactly what you said Ari which is that this is not normal and we have a sitting president of the United States who is behaving as if he has committed a crime whether he has or not we don’t know but his behavior is the behavior of someone who has something to hide and what’s important here and one of the things that I think all of us who worked in a US Attorney’s Office are proud of are the independence of those offices in other words career public servants who just work very hard to get at the facts and in this case we expect nothing less what does it say to you that mr. Berman who may not be a household name but was the person that was personally interviewed as I emphasized both recused meaning followed the rules but also that Donald Trump thought it would help him to get Berman back in charge so the important thing here is that Berman is recused and has recused himself and if he cares at all about his his reputation he would not fall subject to any pressure from Donald Trump to endanger his own career because he has made clear that he cannot serve in that role it is outlandish that a president asked although with this president as you pointed out we have a lot of history of this looking for people who will protect him not protect us not protect the country but protect him personally and that’s what we’re hearing out of this news story bill kristol this is very real mr. Whitaker was pressed on an under oath as I mentioned let’s look at that exchange this was February 8th very recently talking about this very New York probe take a look did you ever have any conversations with the president about firing or reassigning any personnel US Attorney’s or others who work with the Southern District of New York Congress with the President or anybody anybody at all I want to know whether you talked to President Trump at all about the Southern District of New York’s case involving Michael Cohen I am NOT going to discuss my private conversations with the president United States bill how do you read that answer well you could say that’s just you know you have some right to not discuss conversations with the president that’s a version I guess if executive privilege you can also say he was being careful there not to lie but also not to offend the president it was he was still attorney Jack the Attorney General then his other answers you could argue as carefully wordsmiths so it’s perhaps not to be a flat out misstatement or false statement so but look at the Congress obviously needs to call mr. Whittaker back and see what the truth about all this is and it does fit it and the biggest point to make is the obvious wonder if it’s into such a path this president not wanting to choose to come out about a host of matters but maybe most centrally the 26 camp 2016 campaign in Russia but also what he did as president with respect to everything from Michael Flynn to the firing of James Comey two conversations he had with Whitaker to conversations he had with Michael Cohen I think we will know because of Malwa and because of the Southern District of New York but I mean the degree to which he if you just step back from the trees to the forest and this we’ve discussed before that’s so hard to do with this president there’s so much stuff and it’s every day is something new and you sort of forget can you remember what was the things you were through Excel the absolute consistent red thread running through everything is he does not want the truth to come out about a whole range of his own dealings and he’s gone pretty far not as far as he some of us feared he might go yet and tried to prevent the truth to come out which final point maybe Congress should do a couple of little things like you know make sure they get access to the Mullen report and so forth that they can they can do more here to help preserve the institutions which so far have managed to resist most of the efforts it seems by the president to corrupt them Michael yeah I think bill largely hits that right on the head and and just to sort of encapsulate the president’s mindset here I think it’s it’s all that insular time that he has with himself imagining all these enemies coming at him from these various angles and then believing that he can use the institutions of government as a cudgel to block and break and and sort of push back those those folks who are coming at him whether it’s Muller whether it’s congressional investigations and certainly trying to find friends who will go out and be his mouthpiece who will protect his interest to Bill’s point his self-interest here not not the overall governmental interest not the overall national interest but his own personal interest and I think that’s what has animated and pushed this president to the point to Maya’s first point that he looks guilty he acts guilty he sounds guilty and whether or not all of that is true remains to be seen on what and the southern district come to the table right and when you mentioned all that I mean Michael as a head of the Republican Party you dealt with people at the White House right yeah you would deal with presidents sometime yeah because you’re you’re important guy is played well that’s not my main point just a guy in the room my main point is in that role you have a visibility that’s different than the legal side which is just the what the heck is going down when Corey Lewandowski I’m gonna read from this article he’s one of the most loyal Trump people you could find even after he got fired and mistreated and then you have Trump even called his former campaign manager manager Lewandowski over the fourth of July weekend patriotic asking him to pressure sessions to resign Lewandowski was non-committal and never acted on the request number one Michael the times takes it sourcing seriously right the report is there’s two people on that call number two have you ever had a president or a high-level person ask you as a political guy on the side to get involved in the removal of the Attorney General no it is so outside of the box and certainly for someone like Corey who is a campaign guy he’s a political guy he’s not an administration guy he’s not a government official he’s not someone connected to the legal counsel’s office so what what Trump ultimately was looking for Ari was a political solution to what he saw as a legal problem and what he saw as an administration problem so he’s figures all right fine this is just going to put it all in the same box I’ll have Cory make the call on sessions to get sessions out of the game and and the fact of the matter is as Corey rightly understood I can’t do that because number one that’s not my role and number two that then puts me in an incriminating position yeah and I don’t mean in subsequent I think you nailed it I don’t mean any disrespect to coil and outski who I’ve had on the show and who all be willing to interview again but look what are you doing if what you’re doing is to Trumpy for corey lewandowski yeah I mean you were struck by the same thing I was I think which is well what’s the sourcing for these stories we have two phone calls at least in The Times story a trump Whittaker phone call which presumably no one else was on at a Trump Lewandowski phone we now know about both of those phone calls to the disadvantage of Chopin to the advantage of Whitaker and Lewandowski it makes me wonder and Whitaker’s just left his acting Attorney General maybe he told other people who told the times that’s quite possible but he did choose to tell other people that so it does has a slight feeling of the rats leaving the sinking ship here honestly I mean when you get these kinds of stories where an awful lot of people who were close to drop this isn’t your calling you sound like the president that’s terrible that was terrible okay so the smallest furry animals leaving the sinking ship we like answers that’s and so you know I mean that just strikes me as maybe things are changing in the sense that people are worried now about where this is all going and they’re distancing them so much is so important it brings me back to my Wylie and maybe we’ll call them cowardly bunnies which are a lovable furry animal but bunnies also have an obligation to cooperate with law enforcement if they could talk look I’m stretching the point is I’m gonna read one more thing before we go for your analysis which fits with bill’s point Sean Spicer in this leak here according to falsehoods about Flint quote mr. Trump who orders him say that something that wasn’t sure about the Flint fire but was that true mr. Spicer presses according to the New York Times account say that I asked resignation mr. Trump repeated and in the same account again we’re 15 minutes into this show and we’re not done with all the bad things in this story from The Times there another to Bill’s point another furry leak if you want to call it that that suggests someone’s trying to say hey whatever happened there about falsehoods about Flynn I wasn’t really trying to do it I was caught on the wrong side of it what are investigators do with all this investigate and with this I mean what’s what’s interesting about this Bill’s point about Matthew Whitaker’s he had briefings from Muller steam right I mean he says he knew and what was going on in that case and and he goes before Congress and says something that later if he is leaking it to Bill’s point he’s leaking something that makes him sound inconsistent with testimony he made before Congress so eat there’s all I can say is there are a whole lot of folks who have a lot to worry about in terms of their behavior and some of that will be reputational some of that could be criminal and if people are in the process of trying to now protect at minimum their reputations who have some sense of what’s coming down the pike that tells us something right that doubled what you’re there are furry creatures involved they’re creatures involved but it tells us that people have a reason here as bar takes over to further get out ahead of things on these calls look we don’t you don’t have to know as much about Washington and Michael and Bill no to decode the leaks of two people on a phone line for a story that’s terrible about Donald Trump hey I’m already melbourne from MSNBC you can see more of our videos right here or better yet subscribe to our youtube channel below you could have been anywhere in the world that you’re here with us and we appreciate that

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