Skip to main content

tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  June 6, 2017 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT

9:00 pm
i am back. i want to say a big thank you to ari melber and to joy reid for filling in for me while i was out sick this last week and a half, almost two weeks. thank you to everybody here on the rachel maddow show who worked so hard to keep everything running in my absence. i want to thank my bosses for their understanding while i was out sick at a quite inopportune time, i guess. i want to say thanks to all of you who said nice things and wished me well and told me you were praying for me while i was out. i'm not totally well as you can probably tell, but i am like, i don't know, 90% of the way back. would you say i'm 90%? close to 90. we'll see. i am certainly well enough to be here tonight covering the news. and as grateful as i have ever been to have a job like that.
9:01 pm
because we have to begin tonight naturally, the universe has welcomed me back with late-breaking trump/russia news. according to tonight's "washington post," yet another senior serving national security official in the u.s. government has reportedly now told associates that the president directed him, the president told him to intervene with the fbi to try to stop the trump/russia investigation. when james comey, the fbi director, was fired by the white house, we first got a song and dance from the white house about all sorts of other reason yes he might have been fired. the president then soon admitted that he had the trump/russia investigation on his mind when he fired fbi director james
9:02 pm
comey. we soon thereafter earned that james comey had told associates he had committed to writing. he had written in a memo and told other senior people at the fbi that the president had told him to stop the trump/russia investigation. to l off the mike flynn part of the trump/russia investigation. again, notnly ying that the president had told him that, but saying crucially that contemporaneously at the time he had made a written note of it and told other people that the president made this wildly inappropriate request to him. we knew that about james comey. now yet another senior official in the trump administration apparently went through the same thing and told people contemporaneously that the president had directed him to try to stop the fbi investigation.
9:03 pm
just a remarkable advance in the news. we started this week waiting for the comey testimony. waiting for james comey to testify on thursday before the senate intelligence committee. everybody parked at the edge of their seats waiting to hear what the former fbi director will say these reported claims that president trump asked comey to call off the investigation into flynn. friends and colleagues of comey say he described contemporaneously to them requests to stop the trump/russia investigation. on thursday morning, james comey will testify before the senate about those alleged conversations. it's hard to wait, right, but to help with that tonight, we have this bombshell new report from "the washington post." it's very similar in terms of its structure to these
9:04 pm
allegations from james comey that the president asked him to stop the trump/russia investigation and he recorded it contemporaneously with those written memos. but the new reporting tonight from "the washington post," just out in the last hour, concerns not james comey but the nation's pop intelligence official. the director of national intelligence appointed by president trump, former senator dan coats. "the washington post" reporting that the president asked dan coats, director of national intelligence, and the head of the nsa, admiral mike rogers for their help in trying to get the fbi to back off the investigation. the post saying the president made appeals to dan coats and mike rogers urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion
9:05 pm
between the trump campaign and russia during the election. in the case of the nsa director mike rogers, that request from the president was reportedly documented contemporaneously in an internal memo, meaning the president asked nsa director mike rogers to make a public statement saying that the trump campaign and russia, there had been no collusion. when that request was made to admiral mike rogers, he recorded that in an internal memo. a source later told nbc news that dan coats and mike rogers actually talked to each other about these requests they had from the president. they exchanged notes, the two of them, about their conversations with the president and his requests to kibosh the trump/russia investigaon. the idea that the president had asked the head of the nsa, the director of national intelligence, had asked them to help quash the investigation, had asked them to pour public cold water on the investigation, these reports that the intelligence chiefs then potentially, you know, not only spoke to each other about them but that made them potentially
9:06 pm
corroborating witnesses, those were red-hot reports on their own. not incidentally, those reports made for the best nine seconds of video in this trump/russia story. this was dan coats getting asked -- director of national intelligence -- getting asked whether he and the nsa director discussed amongst themselves these requests from the president. watch. nine seconds. watch. >> have you talked about this issue with admiral rogers? >> that is something that i -- i would like to withhold that question at this particular point in time. >> not a term of art.
9:07 pm
i would like to withhold that question. that's not a thing. dan coats said he would like to withhold on that. pause. we all got pregnant watching that pause that was so long. that happened back on may 23rd. no answer. extremely long, pregnant pause. did you guys discuss this matter together? don't want to talk about it. but now, we're passed that point in time, and tonight this late-breaking news from "the washington post" is that the director of national intelligence, dan coats, told his associates not only that the president asked he and admiral mike rogers to pour public cold water on the investigation. not only that he asked them to put -- not only that he asked them to put public cold water on the investigation, but that he, quote, asked director of national intelligence dan coats if he personally, if coats, would intervene with the fbi
9:08 pm
director to get the fbi to back off its focus on michael flynn in the russia investigation. so citing officials, "the post" says the request came on march 22nd. that was two days after comey publicly confirmed the fbi had opened a counterintelligence investigation into trump and russia. "the washington post" says the request to dan coats that he intervene with the fbi director happened after a briefing in the white house. quote, as the briefing was wrapping up, trump asked everyone to leave the room except for dan coats and the cia director mike pompeo. the president then started complaining about the fbi investigation and comey's handling of it. that's according to officials familiar with the account that coats gave to associates. coats discussed the conversation with other officials. that's crucial. and then he decided that intervene with the fbi director as the president had suggested,
9:09 pm
would be inappropriate. post tonight's cite, folks who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters. it showed the president went further than just asking intelligence officials to publicly deny the existence of any evidence showing collusion during the election, which is what "the washington post" reported in may. this interaction with coats indicates that trump aimed to enlist top officials to try to get the fbi to curtail their probe. and because, of course, the trump/russia story allows for no rest, this story breaks tonight, the night before dan coats is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the senate intelligence committee in open session. it's good to be back. i was kind of expecting a slower roll back into the news, but i can take it.
9:10 pm
i should tell you also that moments ago, there was a statement put out from the spokesperson for the office of the director of national intelligence pushing back on this story. do we actually have the -- do we have the written statement? we have the -- oh, we have the written statement in my teleprompter. i do not have it written down. this is the statement from the director of national intelligence spokesperson. quote, director coats does not discuss his private conversations with the president, however, he has never felt pressured by the president or anyone else in the administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations. he has never felt pressured. again, that statement just coming out moments ago from the office of dan coats, the director of national intelligence. joining us now by phone is adam entous, "the washington post" national security reporter who broke this story tonight. thank you for joining us on short notice. i really appreciate it. >> no problem. glad to be here. >> let me ask if i summarized sort of the state of the
9:11 pm
reporting on this point. as you might have heard, i've been out of it, not only off the show, but i've been literally out of it for a little while. as far as i understand it, you with "the washington post" had previously reported that the president had made requests to the director of national intelligence and the nsa director that they should make some sort of public pronouncement, throwing cold water on the trump/russia investigation saying there was no collusion. you're advancing that tonight saying the director of national intelligence was asked by the president to personally intervene with the fbi director to try to stop the probe. is that correct? >> yeah, so you know, the basically, the requests we previously reported, i think, was much more direct. it was a phone calls that were made to mike rogers and to dan coats in which basically the president said he'd like both of them to issue public statements.
9:12 pm
so in other words, attempt to address the narrative bothering the president about what comey had said publicly when he testified on march 20th that they were investigating coordination if you will, between the russians and members of the trump campaign. so that was an effort to try to address a narrative issue. what happened on the 22nd of march was basically, you know, the president -- i don't think it's as direct as you had presented it in your intro where i think the president was basically frustrated with comey who, you know, refused the president's request to drop the flynn matter in a conversation that he had with him in february. and that was basically sounding out coats in the presence of pompeo. he's frustrated. what can be done. what can you do? can you do something to help me
9:13 pm
in going and basically reaching out to comey to get him to pull back. and coats emerges from that meeting and according to the associates that he spoke to, he was angry. he was frustrated that the president had made this what he perceived as putting him in a difficult position because, you know, coats wants to keep, you know, the intelligence agencies separate from the politics. and for the president to seemingly appeal to him to encourage him to reach out to comey was something that coats was not -- obviously had problems with and clearly did not feel comfortable with. >> to be precise. what you're able to report is that the president basically inquired with dan coats as to whether he could do this? and dan coats -- is that fair? >> that would be an accurate way of describing it. he asked him if he would be willing. if he could do this. and coats felt like that was --
9:14 pm
he told his associates he was uncomfortable with that suggestion. so in your statement that you read from the spokesperson for the dni, where they explain that he did not -- he did not feel pressured, that's really not addressing the question. the question was, did the president ask? they are answering by saying he didn't feel pressure. they're not addressing the question of what actually was discussed in that meeting. >> and adam, in terms of the other sort of -- the other person in that meeting, what you describe is that there was a larger group that was meeting for a briefing at the white house. again, this was march 22nd, according to your reporting, and the president asked as that briefing was breaking up, he asked not only for dan coats to stay in the room but for mike pompeo, the director of the cia, to stay in the room as well. do you have any understanding as
9:15 pm
to whether or not similar requests like this or similar inquiries were made like this to mike pompeo, or is he there essentially as an observer, as a bystander to what really was an interaction between the president and the dni? >> i don't have an answer to that. as far as i know, pompeo, when he leaves that room, he doesn't go and tell associates and other officials that he's bothered by what just happened. the only reason we know why coats, you know, that coats had expressed concern about what had transpired is because he goes and basically seeks advice and shares the experience with other officials. and i have no information to suggest that pompeo does the same. and so i think there are
9:16 pm
questions about whether or not the president, you know, i think the takeaway here, as what happened before, in previous stories, is this president does not have a lot of washington experience, as we all know. and, you know, he maybe either doesn't understand these dividing lines that are supposed to separate the intelligence agencies from the political leadership. either he's unaware of that or he doesn't really care about those dividing lines that are supposed to separate the investigators, the intelligence community from the politics. and so he is frequently crossing that line in ways that make people feel uncomfortable. and that's, i think, what this is -- potentially an example of and potentially something more, if coats were to offer a full recollection of the conversation that he had with the president. >> which he may be asked to do tomorrow, as soon as tomorrow morning when he testifies in open session before the senate intelligence committee. adam entous, "washington post"
9:17 pm
national security reporter with tonight's scoop at "the washington post." adam, i appreciate you joining us on very short notice. congratulations on this scoop. thanks for joining us. the headline tonight, top intelligence official, director of national intelligence, dan coats, told associates, contemporaneously at the time, in late march, that the president asked him if he could please intervene with fbi director james comey to try to stop the fbi russia investigation, particularly as it pertained to national security adviser mike flynn. again, there's no allegation here in terms of "the washington post" reporting that dan coats committed his concerns about this to writing, as has been reported about similar concerns regarding james comey himself and the nsa director, admiral mike rogers, but you can expect dan coats to be asked about this tomorrow in open session. we've got more on that coming up. stay with us. over our neighbor's fence.
9:18 pm
and once we do, we see wonder waiting. every step you take, narrows the influence of narrow minds. bridges continents and brings this world one step closer. so, the question you asked me. what is the key? it's you. everything in one place, so you can travel the world better. rumor confirmed. they're playing.
9:19 pm
-what? -we gotta go. -where? -san francisco. -when? -friday. we gotta go. [ tires screech ] any airline. any hotel. any time. go where you want, when you want with no blackout dates. [ muffled music coming from club. "blue monday" by new order. cheers. ] [ music and cheers get louder ] the travel rewards credit card from bank of america. it's travel, better connected.
9:20 pm
9:21 pm
in june last year, shortly after the republican nomination was clinched, "usa today" published this long, sort of embarrassing report on the new republican nominee. it was titled this. ""usa today" exclusive. hundreds allege donald trump doesn't pay his bills. and the subheading was, among those who say billionaire didn't pay? dishwashers, painters, waiters. "usa today" reported in june, they basically had their reporters comb through legal documents and catalog all the people who the republican presidential nominee had been accused of not paying over the course of his business life. and it wasn't just other big name real estate people.
9:22 pm
it was contractors and subcontractors, plumbers, painters, dishwashers, waitresses, bartenders, employees at every level. also, lawyers. his own lawyers. and that ends up being important. over the course of his business career, according to what "usa today" reporters were able to dig up through all these legal filings, in several instances, he retained law firms to represent him in these cases where he got sued because he had allegedly stiffed his workers. his plumbers or dishwashers or somebody, sue him because they say trump hasn't paid them what they owe him. those same law firms ended up suing donald trump as well because they said he then didn't pay his legal bills after they represented him in cases where other people said he didn't pay them either. i can't say they weren't warned, right?
9:23 pm
in 2008, that was a new york law firm who trump hired to help fight contractors over alleged mispayments. so trump didn't pay his contractors, allegedly. he hired a law firm to represent him in that case. the law firm then in turn alleged trump didn't pay them either. they said trump didn't pay them nearly $500,000 in legal fees. him and that new york law firm, they ended up settling. four years later, it was a virginia law firm. they sued the trump organization for over $90,000 worth of allegedly unpaid legal fees. that resulted in another settlement. then it was an atlantic city law firm, also accused trump of skipping out on over a million dollars in legal fees that he owed to that law firm in atlantic city. and they said that he didn't pay them. that history of donaldrump having to settle out of court or being sued by law firms says that trump engaged them to
9:24 pm
represent him and then didn't pay them when the bills came due. that ends up being a really interesting relevant back story to a fascinating new scoop from yahoo!'s michael isikoff. isikoff scoops that top lawyers at the least four major private law firms have been contacted by the white house about potentially representing the president in his legal woes. at least four major law firms turned down the opportunity to represent the president in this trump/russia investigation. the president has selected a private attorney named mark kosowitz to represent him as his private lawyer but according to isikoff's reporting, there were attempts to entice other kind of brand name lawyers. high-profile d.c. legal eagles trying to get people to come join the president's legal team.
9:25 pm
those efforts have proved fruitless. quoting from isikoff's report, the concerns were the guy won't pay, and he won't listen. that's one lawyer close to the white house. quote, other factors the lawyer said, were that it would kill recruitment for the firms to be publicly associated with representing the polarizing president, and it would jeopardize the firm's relationship with other clients. i think it's important, in this story, and in every story related to this story strange presidency, to separate out what is truly new and unprecedented and what is actually sort of par for the course presidential behavior. and it's unavoidable. it's definitely true in modern times almost every president has hired outside legal counsel. almost every modern president has relied on private lawyers to help him respond to whatever scandal that administration is facing. president obama is an exception to that. president obama had a private lawyer but there was never a major scandal during his administration that required him to use that private counsel.
9:26 pm
but for most other modern presidents, there is somebody. president nixon went through not one, but two outside private lawyers. his first was a man names charles alan wright, the preeminent constitutional lawyer of his time. wright, however, was unsuccessful in his efforts to prevent nixon from having to hand over the white house tapes. and so nixon canned him. replaced him with another prominent lawyer names james st. clair. st. clair defended the decision to withhold the tapes all the way up to the supreme court before they lost that case. during iran/contra, president reagan retained republican super lawyer ted olson as his private counsel. ronald reagan's successor, president george h.w. bush hired jimmy carter's attorney general, griffin bell, to be his private outside lawyer when the iran/contra issues followed him into his term as president.
9:27 pm
president bill clinton retained big name lawyers david kendall, bob bennett to represent him during the monica lewinsky affair. so presidents hire outside counsel. presents use outside lawyers when they've got scandals to deal with. usually high-profile lawyers at high-profile law firms. and those kinds of lawyers, those kinds of law firms usually line up to represent the president. no matters the scandal, it's representing the president of the united states. except when it comes to this president. president trump being rebuffed by big law firms is not only an anomaly when it comes to recent presidential history. it also raises this very practical, immediate question of whether or not he's going to have the best possible defense. i mean, following tonight's reporting, front page of the "washington post," looks like he might need it more than ever. is he going to get as good a defense as other presidents would get? hold that thought. there's an answer.
9:28 pm
dental professionals recommend using an electric toothbrush. for an exceptionally fresh feeling choose philips sonicare diamondclean. hear the difference versus oral b. in a recently published clinical study, philips sonicare diamondclean outperforms oral-b 7000, removing up to 82% more plaque and improving gum health up to 70% more. its sonic technology cleaning deep between teeth. from the most recommended sonic toothbrush brand by dental professionals. switch to philips sonicare today. philips sonicare. save when you buy now. philips sonicare. ♪ it's not just a car, it's your daily treat. philips sonicare. ♪ go ahead, spoil yourself. the es and es hybrid. experience amazing.
9:29 pm
for my constipation, i switch laxatives.ed stimulant laxatives make your body go by forcefully stimulating the nerves in your colon. miralax is different. it works with the water in your body to hydrate and soften. unblocking your system naturally. miralax. but you've never had 'em quite like this. at red lobster's lobster & shrimp summerfest, the lobster and shrimp you love are teaming up in so many new ways. like new coastal lobster and shrimp, with a lobster tail with butter and herbs, sweet, smoky bbq red shrimp, and shrimp crusted with...get this...cape cod kettle chips. or try lobster and shrimp overboard. a dish this good... makes you this hungry. it's the highlight of the season, and can't last. so hurry in. i know you worry i can't keep up with our weekly tee times. dear son, but i've been taking osteo bi-flex ease. it's 80% smaller but just as effective. which means you're in big trouble, son. improved joint comfort in seven days. osteo bi-flex ease. made to move.
9:30 pm
abreak through your allergies.? try new flonase sensimist allergy relief instead of allergy pills. it's more complete allergy relief in a gentle mist experience you'll barely feel. using unique mistpro technology, new flonase sensimist delivers a gentle mist to help block six key inflammatory substances that cause your symptoms. most allergy pills only block one. and six is greater than one. new flonase sensimist changes everything.
9:31 pm
one of the great investigative reporters of our time is a man named michael isikoff. he's worked at "newsweek" magazine, nbc news. he has worked frankly all over the news industry. wherever he has been, though, he has always done ground-breaking, original, no-fear, no favor,
9:32 pm
hard-won, shoe leather reporting. he's an old-fashioned investigative reporter and it's worth following everything he publishes because he's always on to something that nobody else is working on. right now michael isikoff works at yahoo! news. they are lucky to have him. his latest report today is that this president, this current president, has an unusual problem that other modern presidents have not had. isikoff reports today that the top lawyers and the top law firms in washington, d.c., are all turning the president down as he seeks outside private counsel to represent him in his big scandal. as the russia investigation circles him and expands and gets more serious by the day. joining us now is michael isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for yahoo! news. nice to see you tonight. thanks for being here. >> thanks for the kind words from one of the great cable hosts of our time.
9:33 pm
>> that's a much smaller thing to win, but i appreciate it. let me ask you first of all about -- i think the kind of scope of the impact of what you're reporting, when you look at this historically, lots of presidents have had a need for outside counsel for scandals large and small. presidents have engaged outside lawyers. it seems to me looking at this historically of whether the scandals are a big deal from administration to administration, law firms and big-name lawyers usually see it as quite an honor, a prestige thing to represent a president regardless of what it is he's asking about. isn't that true? >> it is. and i should point out that there were multiple reasons given to the white house for why these top lawyers at these top firms turn down the overtures they got. in some cases, they cited existing commitments, upcoming trials that would make it difficult for them to devote the necessary time and resources.
9:34 pm
in other cases they cited conflicts of interest that some of their clients had already gotten subpoenas as part of this investigation. the financial institutions that have been subpoenaed for records. but the ones that really leap out are, number one, the person that, i mean, you cited before, the president's history in not paying his legal bills. that was cited. but more important was the fact, the question of, would he listen to their advice. any of these top people, brendan sullivan, ted olson. you go down the list. if they are going to take the case, they expect the client to listen to them, take their advice, to do what they say, stay off twitter, and i think they had real questions about whether this particular client would do that. beyond that, you know, it was extraordinary that there was
9:35 pm
concern about reputational risk to their firms. would the -- would taking on the representation of donald trump, such a polarizing figure, kill recruitment of top notch lawyers coming out of law school. or how would it play with their existi existing clients and that is extraordinary when talking about representing the president of the united states. >> he does have an outside lawyer. he has brought on a lawyer who represented him in some of his atlantic city casino business. it's a lawyer who, i know, has threatened "the new york times" when they've reported things about president trump that president trump didn't like. he represented him in part of the trump university fraud case in which the president paid $25 million. attorney mark kasowitz is a new york lawyer. how does he fit in in terms of this very basic practical question as to whether or not the president is going to have a
9:36 pm
top-notch defense here? >> look, he is a new york pit bull civil litigator. he's got a long history of representing donald trump, making menacing public statements about his adversaries. threatening countersuits like he did to some of the women who came forward after the "access hollywood" video came out. he threatened them with lawsuits if they continued to allege that donald trump had done something untoward toward them. it's worked for marc kasowitz. what we're talking about in washington with complex congressional justice department investigations that are heavily influenced by news media coverage, by politics, by public perceptions, it is a very different field.
9:37 pm
it calls for different skills, nuance, at times releasing information, making public disclosures, something this president and marc kasowitz is loathed to do. there are real questions as to whether he's the right guy for this particular job. >> michael isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for yahoo! news. congratulations on this scoop. thanks for being here. >> thank you, rachel. i will say this story that isikoff published today, part of the reason i wanted to have him on today to talk about it, this is not just a washington gossip story about who doesn't want to be associated with trump or what big names have been approached and what they've said. if this presidency is going to be challenged by this investigation, if there's an existential question as to whether donald trump stays president because of the seriousness of this investigation, one of the things we have to hope for as americans, whether you like trump or you don't, is that it is a very well-fought,
9:38 pm
hard-fought thing when it comes to both accusing him and defending him. if the stakes are as high as i believe they are in terms of this investigation, there can be no question as to whether or not he's well represented, that he gets the best defense possible and that all of the truth comes out. you have to have faith in the adversarial nature of our justice system in order to hope for an outcome everybody can abide by and believe in. if you're against this president, don't root for him to have a bad lawyer. root for us all to be on the same page when this is all over, come hell or high water. we'll be right back.
9:39 pm
it's ok that everybody ignores me when i drive. it's fine. because i get a safe driving bonus check every six months i'm accident free. because i don't use my cellphone when i'm driving. even though my family does, and leaves me all alone. here's something else... i don't share it with mom. i don't. right, mom? i have a brand new putter you don't even know about! it's awesome. safe driving bonus checks, only from allstate. sometimes i leave the seat up on purpose. switching to allstate is worth it. a mihappy birthday, sweetie! oh, millies. trick or treat! we're so glad to have you here. ♪ what if we treated great female scientists like they were stars? ♪
9:40 pm
yasss queen! what if millie dresselhaus, the first woman to win the national medal of science in engineering, were as famous as any celebrity? [millie dresselhaus was seen having lunch today...] ♪ [...rumors of the new discovery...] what if we lived in world like that? (crowd applauding) ♪ we know a place that's already working on it. ♪ there's nothing more than my vacation.me so when i need to book a hotel room, i want someone that makes it easy to find what i want.
9:41 pm
booking.com gets it. and with their price match, i know i'm getting the best price every time. now i can start relaxing even before the vacation begins. your vacation is very important. that's why booking.com makes finding the right hotel for the right price easy. visit booking.com now to find out why we're booking.yeah! when it comes to heartburn... trust the brand doctors trust. nexium 24hr is the #1 choice of doctors and pharmacists for their own frequent heartburn. for all day and all night protection... banish the burn... with nexium 24hr. ♪ ♪ award winning interface. award winning design. award winning engine. the volvo xc90. the most awarded luxury suv of the century.
9:42 pm
visit your volvo dealer to take advantage of our midsommar sales event offer. in march 1992, over a period of nine days, what "the new york times" called nine exhaustive days, a man named sammy gravano who everybody called sammy the bull, testified in federal court in brooklyn, new york, and testified against the most famous and arguably the most powerful mafia crime boss in the entire country. march 1992, sammy the bull, the underboss of the gambino crime family, took the stand in ooklyn and gave nine days of epic, exhaustive, damning testimony against the ad of the gambino crime family. the guy he worked for. john gotti. now, of course, they called john gotti the teflon don because he was slick in his personal appearance. also a great talker.
9:43 pm
witty, smooth. a real way with words. they also called him the teflon don because charges never stuck to him. that was before sammy "the bull." though. when he testified in march 92 he was one of the highest ranking mauve why figures to ever have turned state's evidence. he testified in march that year. the following year, john gotti got convicted. teflon don, teflon no longer, right? john gotti got sentenced in april 1992 to life in prison. ultimately in 2002, a decade later, he died behind bars. meanwhile, though, sammy "the bull" went into witness protection. in his case, that meant arizona. at the time of john gotti's conviction, i said john gotti was definitely the most famous and arguably the most powerful mob boss in the entire united states. i said he's only arguably the most powerful at the time because if you've ever seen a mob movie, you know there isn't
9:44 pm
just one crime family. there are rival families in the italian mafia in new york city. although john gotti was the undisputed head of the gambino crime family, at the time he was running that, he had a considerable rival who was the head of the genovese crime family. gotti was running the gambino side, the guy running the genovese side of things was vinnie the chin. vincent gigante. he was a good looking guy in his youth. they didn't ca him "the chin" because he had some outsized deformed weird looking chin. was from the italian pronunciation of vincent. usually a guy's looks are not that important when talking about his alleged criminal status. in vinnie "the chin's" status in his later years, the way he looked became very important to his efforts to stay out of business. >> it is dusk in new york city. and the man coming out of the shadows on the left is walking
9:45 pm
down the street in bedroom slippers wearing his pajamas beneath a bathrobe. this man is vincent gigante and the fbi says he is the boss of the richest mafia family in the country. his brother -- >> you don't understand. >> his doctors say the man in pajamas is mentally ill, not a godfather but a man with the mind of a child afraid of the dark. >> he's crazy as a fox. he -- he has played this game for many years. >> gigante first came to police attention 30 years ago for taking a shot at a mob boss. >> vinnie, did you give yourself up because you were afraid? >> no, you're crazy. >> the last time gigante was arrested, the charges were dropped when his lawyers produced letters from psychiatrists calling him a schizophrenic with little chance of recovery. gigante has even been hospitalized from time to time. they insist he's a mastermind.
9:46 pm
>> a smart man would be smart enough to act a little crazy. >> just before midnight most nights, his bodyguards take him to this million-dollar townhouse he shares with his longtime girlfriend just off park avenue. unaware that we're watch with hidden cameras as he lives, gigante is no longer walking around in pajamas but it dressed like a normal person at this time of night. >> he's been extremely, extremely smt. he has outwitted us for a long period of time. but i can tell you right now that the commitment is going to be made where it's going to become extremely difficult for him to outwit us from here on out. >> i love that nbc reporting from 1988. they catch him outside his girlfriend's house not wearing a bathrobe now. the reporting on the alleged head of the genovese crime family, archrival john gotti, vinnie "the chin" gigante. that report was 1988. the fbi saying it's going to be
9:47 pm
difficult to outwit us from now on. it was not until almost a decade after that they got the conviction against vinnie "the chin." and the way they got it is just incredible, right? they tried everything under the sun. doggedly pursued him year after year. the fbi and the feds are making all these confident public pronouncements they're just about to get him for years and years. and years and years go by and they're not able to get him. what happened in the end is this. eastern district of new york, federal prosecutors office in brooklyn. finally 1997, so almost a decade after that nbc report, 1997, prosecutors in that brooklyn office finally came up with this audacious gambit to try to get vinnie "the chin." and it took them out of brooklyn, out of new york, off the east coast altogether. they flew a prosecutor, a specific prosecutor. they flew him from new york to arizona. they flew him to arizona and
9:48 pm
they got sammy "the bull" out of witness protection. right? he had testified against john gotti. he was in the witness protection program. living in obscurity in arizona for years after his blockbuster testimony put john gotti away. one of the highest ranking mob guys to ever flip on the stand, right? but the prosecutor who had overse sammy "e bu's" case, who product him, who had overseen him flipping to testify against john gotti, who helped do the deal to send him off to live this new anonymous life for the rest of his days in arizona, that individual prosecutor personally flew out to arizona to do the impossible. to persuade sammy "the bull" to do it again. to come back out of hiding, come out of the witness protection program and testify once again against another crime boss. this time against vinnie "the chin." the head of yet another new york crime family. flew out to arizona. persuaded him. the guy did it. and that's part of how they finally put vinnie "the chin"
9:49 pm
away despite the whole bathrobe and slippers act. >> in new york city, they call him the oddfather. and now vincent gigante has been convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. his lawyers have said he's mentally ill. he's a familiar figure on the streets of his neighborhood where he shuffles along wearing a bathrobe. prosecutors said it was an act, and the jury agreed, convicting gigante in effect of running a mob crime family. >> "today" show footage from 1997. and the way those prosecutors built those cases, the way they flipped these top guys in the mob including in the case of vinnie the chin they flipped a guy in witness protection to testify against the head of another crime family, it has always been almost unbelievably dramatic story of the way the
9:50 pm
feds dismantled the italian mafia. that feels like a story from another era. these things don't ever end. and now we know the prosecutor, the guy on the plane and flipped him against john gotti and put him in witness protection and went and got him out of witness protection, that prosecutor now works for robert mueller in the special counsel investigation into the trump russia affair. his name is andrew weissmann. after a long career in brooklyn in his role at the fraud division at the justice department he did a ton of work specifically on the foreign corrupt practices act. that might come in handy. stick a pin in that.
9:51 pm
andrew weissmann has joined special council into the trump/russia matter. we don't know the full extent as to who robert mueller has working with him. andrew weissmann including highest profile mob prosecutions we have had in this country, veteran of multiple high profile fraud cases, the guy who led the enron task force at the beginning of the 2000s that everybody thought would be the biggest scandal of the george bush administration until 9/11 happened. andrew weissmann who basically overhaulered treatment we know he is the highest paid government toead the investigation. andrew weissmann's appointment was first reported by bloomberg news. we might learn more what it tells us about the investigation
9:52 pm
we may learn more. we can report tonight that although robert mueller and his spokes men are not confirming or denying anything about the exact scope and focus of their investigation, if recent reports are true that the investigation have spread out to encompass prior existing investigations into paul manafort and into mike flynn we can report tonight that if those reports are true about the scope of mueller's investigation that would mean that the resources afforded to those prior existing investigations will now be brought under robert mueller's control. what i mean by that specifically is in the case of paul manafort what has been reported about that investigation is that manafort is part of a long standing years long fbi investigation into the clep talkeracy in ukraine, hundreds of millions of dollars stolen
9:53 pm
out of that country's government by the pro-putin dictator who manafort worked for for years. that investigation is years long and involves fbi agents working including on site in kiev. in the case of mike flynn the ongoing investigation that involves him reportedly to his contacts. that is a grand jury investigation produced multiple subpoenas through the u.s. attorney's office in the eastern district of virginia. the prosecutor overseeing that investigation is reportedly a veteran espionage prosecutor. if these recent news reports are true that the flynn investigation and that manafort investigation are now part of mueller's special counsel investigation into possible collusion between trp campaign and the russians we have confirmed tonight that that means that mueller would now have management control of all of the doj and fbi resources
9:54 pm
that were preevviously devoted other inquirinquiries. we can confirm that tonight in terms of resources under mueller's control. i know everybody has been talking about the comey testimony on thursday. tomorrow the senate intelligence committee is due to hear testimony from four people who are likely to get a bunch of questions about the ongoing investigation, one of them dan coats, director of national intelligence. says the president asked if he could intervene with the fbi director to try to stop the trump/russia investigation at least the part of it that related to mike flynn. that is on the front page as of tonight. expect questions about that tomorrow. it has been previously reported that the national security agency director was also approached by donald trump also approached by the president
9:55 pm
about the trump/russia investigation, the president reportedly asking to make public statements pouring cold water on the investigation. in terms of the other people getting testimony tomorrow, there is no new director of the fbi since the president fired james comey a month ago. it has been weeks since the president said he named somebody new for the job. apparently the process is t gogery well. we still have just acting director of the fbi. andrew mccabe will testify tomorrow. the other person who will testify tomorrow is rod rosenstein. he is number two official at the justice department under jeff sessions. here are a couple of things to be ready for tomorrow in terms of his testimony. first of all, as you know the attorney general jeff sessions is purportedly recused to
9:56 pm
matters pertaining to trump campaign. that recusal is a matter of some controversy. if you set that aside for now, rod rosenstein is overseeing the robert mueller special counsel investigation because jeff sessions recused himself. it is reported that bob mueller's investigation extends not just to russian attack on our election and mike flynn's business dealings around the world. it has been reported but never confirmed by mueller that his investigation also includes the matter of jim comey's firing. and the question of whether or not the fbi director james comey was fired in an effort to obstruct justice, to obstruct the russia investigation. because both jeff sessions and rod rosenstein were involved in what the white house says was the decision making process to fire james comey it is possible that rosenstein may end up being a subject that robert mueller is looking into in terms of
9:57 pm
obstruction of justice. rosenstein can't oversee an investigation into himself. he cannot oversee that part of the investigation. tomorrow in this testimony we expect that will mean that rod rosenstein will try to avoid answering questions from the senate about the firing of jim comey or these broader questions about whether comey was fired to obstruct justice. we also expect that we are also going to get a new name that will be famous as of tomorrow. if rod rosenstein makes cle tomorrow that he is recusing himself from all of or part of e investigation of the mueller investigation that will mean that another person is about to get famous. and that person is rachel brand. have you ever seen her on television before? probably not. her confirmation hearings were not widely telecast and to the extent that anybody was paying attention you might not have
9:58 pm
noticed her because it was held along side the confirmation hearing for rod rosenstein and got very few questions during the process. she is a relatively well-known, relatively non-controversial justice department figure. she is about to become very well known as of tomorrow because she is the third in line at the justice department. jeff sessions is obviously first. he at least reportedly is recused from trump/russia investigation matters and anything else related to the trump campaign. that would put rod rosenstein in charge of those matters to the extent that obstruction of justice part touches on rosenstein's behavior meaning rosenstein would recuse himself eerlth from that part of the investigation or conceivably from the entire investigation. once you take out sessions and number two person in the justice department rod rosenstein that would throw this matter to the
9:59 pm
number three person in the justice department, the here to foreunsung unknown person of rachel brand. rachel brand would be in charge ultimately of potentially overseeing this whole investigation including its budget and the report to congress at the end and everything. so rachel brand is going to get famous as of tomorrow. the whole country is sort of on tinder hooks waiting for the james comey testimony thursday. tomorrow's testimony is a big deal, as well. thank you again for your forebearance while i was out this last week and a half. i am delighted to be back. now i will go sleep for 16 hours. it is now time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> how was spring break? >> all about cosmetic surgery and tanning. you know me. >> i heard you say at the beginning of the show you warned your audience that you're only playing at 90% of your abilities
10:00 pm
tonight. i want you to know, rachel, every night your followed by someone who maxes out at around 80%. max. by 10:30 it has in -- you've always colleague, while i was out, you were extra kind and i really ae appreciate it and you've been doing bang up work and i'm glad you and i are going to be the last planes off the island and i look forward to being colleagues with you forever, my friend. >> i can't thank you enough for coming back and keeping this running what we've been doing for the last couple of months here. it is a joy every night to say hello to you when we begin this show and i wish we could keep it going, but get home, get some rest. the only thing i'm worried about, rachel. the only thing i worried about when you're out sick is that you would not take enough days off. that was the only thing i worried about. and i, of course, always take at

101 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on