O`DONNELL (host): The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes is in the middle of the most publicly inept cover-up we have ever seen, and he is not in it alone.
Paul Ryan is doing everything he can to help him. Everything about this
cover-up is inept beginning with the simple fact that it is public.
Cover-ups are not supposed to be public and you`re not suppose to help
publicly identify exactly what you want to cover up the most.
When you are trying to cover up who presented you some classified information
that you then presented to the president.
You just give general blabber about never revealing sources when you`re
asked about that. When it has been discovered that the place you examine
this classified information was somewhere on the White House grounds when
you`re asked how you entered the White House grounds.
You don`t jump up and down and say that`s the most important secret in this
whole thing if you find out that you`ll find out everything, which is
basically what Devin Nunes meant when he answered that question.
As I have been saying since the first day of this scandal,
Devin Nunes is in way over his head. When you`re covering something up,
you never say we`re not going to ever talk about any of that.
You give general diversionary answers. And when you`re the speaker of the
house and you decide who gets to be chairman of the Intelligence Committee
and the person who you have chosen to continue to be the chairman of that
Intelligence Committee after you inherited him from former Speaker John
When that chairman gets in trouble, you publicly rush to his defense. You
say this is outrageous. You say he is doing the best possible job any
chairman of the Intelligence Committee has ever done.
Not Paul Ryan. He is afraid to talk about Devin Nunes. Afraid. He would
rather talk about the most colossal legislative failure any speaker of the
House has ever had, his first big bill as speaker.
The Trump-Ryan health care bill. That health care bill is the single,
biggest, public professional embarrassment in Paul Ryan`s life.
And he would rather talk about that now and has said more publicly about
that than he has said about Devin Nunes and that scandal.
And the reason Paul Ryan is afraid of talking about Devin Nunes is because
the way-over-his-head chairman put Paul Ryan dead center in this scandal on
the first day when he told reporters something none of them have noticed
that first stop that he made before going to see the president at the White
House, was Paul Ryan`s office.
This is the third time that I have showed that video of Devin Nunes putting Speaker Ryan in the dead-center of this scandal on day one. And I don`t know what I have to do to get any reporters to notice this, including the ones who were standing there in the White House driveway and heard him saying that.
Since he said that, Devin Nunes has done full length interviews on “CNN”
and “Fox News” and with print reporters and not one of them, not one of
them has asked him about what he said to Paul Ryan and what Paul Ryan said to him before he went to the White House.
Today, Kasie Hunt got close. She was a breath away from that question,
when she got this much out of Paul Ryan on the questions of the day.
Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina said Devin Nunes should recuse
himself today. The Devin Nunes scandal is the Paul Ryan scandal.
That`s why Paul Ryan is not ordering Devin Nunes to recuse himself because
Paul Ryan is in this thing as deep as Devin Nunes is. And if Devin Nunes
can lose his chairmanship over it, then Paul Ryan can lose his speakership
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, John McLaughlin; former acting director of the
CIA and Jeremy Bash; Msnbc national security analyst and a former chief of
staff to Leon Panetta when he was director of the CIA and the Defense
John McLaughlin, your reading of where this story turns tonight – just
stands tonight, what makes sense to you in this story if anything and what
doesn`t make sense to you?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there are more things that don`t make sense than things
that do make sense. What makes sense to me at this point is if we were to
add up the things we actually know, we know Russia did interfere in our
And when you look at all of the things that are going on now that are quite
mysterious, you`re driven to think, it feels like a cover-up if you`re a
novelist trying to write a novel about what a cover-up would look like.
It would look pretty much like this. And so, I think we`re at the point
where it`s really important to get to the bottom of this and increasingly I
doubt that, that can be done through the intelligence committees.
I mean, I think Chairman Nunes` actions here have pretty much neutralized
his committee as an effective overseer on this issue, and perhaps on other
issues as well.
O`DONNELL: Do you believe that the chairman should recuse himself or be
MCLAUGHLIN: I certainly believe that he should recuse himself, but I don`t
think that that is going to in and of itself make this committee a worthy
committee to carry out this investigation.
And I`ve been the subject of congressional oversight for 30 years during my
time in government and I`ve certainly watched it carefully for 10 years
since leaving government.
I don`t remember anything quite as bizarre as what we`re seeing now. I
think it`s not much of an exaggeration to say that in this case, our
oversight system has essentially broken down.
Which is a serious thing when you consider that what they`re doing here is
overseeing the secret activity of the United States in an open pluralistic
society like ours.
It`s one of the most important things Congress does.
O`DONNELL: Jeremy Bash, the forgotten link in the chain for Devin Nunes
that day is Paul Ryan, and he said very clearly in the White House driveway
that he first went to Paul Ryan before going down to the White House.
Anyone who has worked in the Congress knows that when a chairman or member
of Congress goes to the speaker, everything that person does after that is
sanctioned by and/or ordered by the speaker that everything you see after
that is the intent of the speaker. Which is why they go there.
They want the cover of the speaker`s agreement about what to do next. What
do you see in the sequence that Nunes has revealed so far? What else do you
see in that.
JEREMY BASH, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, John McLaughlin said
correctly that the effect of Chairman Nunes` actions was to neutralize the
committee`s ability to conduct oversight.
But I will go even a step further. It wasn`t just the effect, it was the
purpose. The purpose of his actions was to neutralize the committee`s
Because what was clear to Chairman Nunes and the White House after last
Monday`s hearing when Jim Comey testified was that there was a full
repudiation of Donald Trump`s claims about Obama wiretapping.
And there was a public announcement that the FBI now has Donald Trump`s
inner circle under an active FBI counterintelligence and criminal
investigation for coordinating with Russians during the campaign and
And that was an unmitigated disaster for the president and his allies on
the Hill for everything else they`re trying to accomplish.
So, it would make sense that Devin Nunes would try to slam the brakes.
It`s just he did it and swerved the entire oversight process out of its
lane and really into a ditch.
O`DONNELL: John McLaughlin, is that the consensus among people who have
been around for a while like John McCain and in yourself that you`ve never
heard of any such thing in terms of the particulars of the chairman`s
That he gets some communication, but then brings him to the White House in
order to examine it. Does that – is that something you`ve ever heard of
MCLAUGHLIN: No, that makes no sense, and as I think back over Chairman and
I worked with both parties. I can`t imagine any one of them doing
something like this.
And you know, let`s go to 30,000 feet here. I think – there`s more than
just a game being played here. This is in a way a threat to our checks and
balances system in our democracy.
I mean, there`s too much co-mingling here between the White House –
between the White House and the oversight function of the Congress.
The Congress is there for a reason. It`s to oversee the work of the
executive branch, hopefully in a constructive way, but not in a way that
amounts or at least appears to be collusion to effect the outcome of that
And that, essentially, is going to the heart of our checks and balances
system in our democracy and in turn, therefore, I think posing a threat to
democratic practice in this country.
O`DONNELL: And Jeremy, when you see the included in Devin Nunes` schedule
for that day that he worked out in the speaker`s office, presumably, was
first of all talk to the press on Capitol Hill saying that you`re going
down to the White House.
Then go down to the White House, present this to the president, then talk
to the press again in the driveway, all of that taking place before there`s
a word or a hint to the Ranking Democratic Member on the committee or to
any other members of the committee or apparently even staff of the
BASH: And that violates the protocols, the traditions, and the approach
that the intelligence committee has taken since its history.
Sure, there have been times of partisan scrambling, but nothing where the
chairman has purposefully thwarted the ability of other members of the
committee including the ranking minority member of the Democrat from seeing
the same information, understanding the basis for an accusation and
engaging in effective and constructive oversight.
I think really what needs to be focused on are the 17 days. The 17 days between the time that Sally Yates as the acting Attorney General went to Don McGhan, the White House counsel who then told the president that Mike Flynn was lying to the vice president, between that time January 26th and February 13th, the day that Mike Flynn was forced out and fired.
What happened during those 17 days? And the reason why I raised that window
of time is because that`s what Sally Yates was to testify about today at
the hearing that was supposed to happen today.
She was going to tell the story of exactly what she told the White House
and by all accounts, what she was going to say about those 17 days did not
at all comport with the White House`s official version.
And so we need to hear from Sally Yates, we need to have the gag order on
Sally Yates lifted, so that she can tell the Congress, the overseers of the
American public what happened.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump`s son-in-law Jared Kushner who holds the title of
senior adviser to the president is the first White House official to agree
to testify before the Senate Committee investigating the Russian
interference in 2016 election.
In the “Wall Street Journal” today, Paul Sonne reports “Jared Kushner met
during the White House transition with the head of a state-run Russian bank
that is on a U.S. sanctions list.
Administration officials said Mr. Kushner has been asked to discuss his
contact with the bank executive.”
That bank executive was appointed to his position by Vladimir Putin and has
close ties to Russian intelligence. Here is how Sean Spicer described
Jared Kushner`s role.
O`DONNELL: The Russian bank has confirmed the meeting with Jared Kushner,
but says it was in his role as head of his family`s real estate company.
Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort who has also agreed to
testify about his ties to Russia is now under scrutiny for his financial
dealings as we just heard Richard Engel tell U.S. Treasury officials are
looking into Paul Manafort`s banking transactions in Cyprus.
Also today, New York public radio station, “WNYC” reports Paul Manafort has
engaged in a series of puzzling real estate deals in New York City over the
past 11 years. Real estate and law enforcement experts say some of these transactions fit
a pattern used in money laundering. Together they raise questions about Manafort`s activities in the New York City property market while he also was consulting for business and
political leaders in the former Soviet Union.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, SENIOR EDITOR FOR POLITICS & POLICY, WNCY: Well, the
real estate in New York, as you know, is extremely expensive. And for this
reason, it has attracted a lot of foreign investment.
And the Treasury Department has had to look at these kinds of transactions
where Shell companies that you don`t know much about, purchase apartments
for all cash, meaning the data mortgage.
And then maybe sometimes down the line, sell off or transfer into someone`s
name and then mortgage them out for a lot of money.
That`s what Paul Manafort did three times. Once in Trump Tower and twice
elsewhere in New York City.
So, there`s nothing per se illegal about that and a lot of people do that.
But given the high level of questions –
O`DONNELL: So, when you say he did it, did he do it and then was the
mortgage money then going to Paul Manafort?
BERNSTEIN: Correct –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
BERNSTEIN: So the apartments were bought by Shell companies, transferred
into his name later, for example, in 2006 when Manafort began doing
business with the oligarch Gareth(ph) Pasca(ph), that`s when the LLC tied
to him bought his Trump Tower apartment in 2015, just a little bit before
the Trump campaign got going.
Manafort transferred the apartment into his name and then borrowed $3
million against that. So he did that all over the city.
And the experts that we said to – we spoke to said, well, that looks
strange and it looks strange because of the type of practice and it also
looks strange because of the other pieces of the puzzle that we have about
Doesn`t mean it`s illegal, but they said it deserves scrutiny –
O`DONNELL: And this pattern is something without any reference to
Manafort, people have been looking for this kind of pattern in the New York
real estate market as a way of laundering giant piles of cash –
BERNSTEIN: That`s right –
O`DONNELL: Including from drug barons and all sorts of people –
BERNSTEIN: Right –
O`DONNELL: With massive amounts of cash around the globe.
BERNSTEIN: That`s right because it`s such an easy way to park money –
O`DONNELL: Right –
BERNSTEIN: And as the U.S. has been stable and other countries haven`t
been, a lot of foreigners have looked to New York to pack money, some of
them with nefarious purposes.
In fact, the Treasury Department said in February that 30 percent of these
kinds of transactions are suspicious and warrant more investigation.
O`DONNELL: Paul Sonne, Jared Kushner, what do you expect him to testify to
when he does testify?
PAUL SONNE, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I think he`s going to be asked
about the content of this meeting. So what we know is the White House has
characterized it as a routine meeting with the head of this Russian state
They`ve said that sanctions were not discussed at the meeting, and they
said that it was specifically not a business meeting.
On the other hand, the Russian bank has said that it was its CEO visiting
the U.S. and promoting the bank`s new strategy.
And they said that they met with Jared Kushner in his capacity as CEO of
Kushner companies at the time. So, there does seem to be some room between
those two explanations.
And I think he`ll be asked to explain why he decided to meet with the CEO
of this bank. What exactly was discussed at that meeting and particularly,
whether or not sanctions were discussed.
O`DONNELL: And this is someone who in the middle of transition has endless
stream of meetings especially when you consider how vast his portfolio was
and all the other meetings he was sitting in on with the president-elect –
SONNE: Yes –
O`DONNELL: To make time for any particular meeting, it would have to
somehow be worth his time.
SONNE: Right, so what we know is that Sergey Kislyak; the Russian
ambassador held a meeting with Kushner as well as Michael Flynn, who would
later become national security adviser.
And subsequently, Sergey Kislyak asked to set up this meeting between the
head of Vnesheconombank; which is this Russian State Development Bank and
So the question is, why did – why did they say yes to that meeting? Was it
a favor to the Russian ambassador? If so, why did they feel like they
should be doing favor to the Russian ambassador?
Or was it seen as this could be a good contact. You know, why was that
meeting agreed to? And then specifically, what was discussed during the
The reason that it`s a big question, what was discussed during the meeting
is because as you mentioned, this bank was under U.S. sanctions at the
It`s owned by the Russian government and the Kremlin essentially uses this
bank to carry out various political projects it wants to do off the federal
So for example, the Sochi Olympics complex was funded in large part by this
bank. The Sochi Airport was built with Gareth(ph) Pasca(ph); the oligarch
who was just mentioned with credit from this bank.
And this bank was effected very seriously by the sanctions that the U.S.
placed on it over the conflict in Ukraine, because that essentially dried
up its foreign funding.
The foreign funding it was able to raise on public markets through bond
issues. And then when the Russian economy went south, the bank needed a
government bailout which happened, you know, for billions of dollars last
O`DONNELL: Andrea, is the Russian money a New York story? Is this just a
New York phenomenon and they`re here and they`re buying everything.
Prior to the Trump campaign, all you heard about was the occasional Russian
billionaire who would buy the occasionally very expensive apartment. It
seems like everybody in Trump Tower had some business with somebody in
BERNSTEIN: Right, we have been looking specifically at Trump Tower because
it`s the president`s house. And what we find is this pattern of shell
companies all up and down through the towers, maybe 60 storeys, maybe less,
depending on how you count.
But it`s something that – there`s currently a lawsuit saying that you
can`t have foreign interest owning these properties because they`re paying
monthly maintenance condo fees to the Trump organization which the
So, it`s certainly something that – That`s in the foreign emoluments heading –
BERNSTEIN: Exactly, that you can`t accept a payment from a foreign
government, at least two companies, and maybe more in Trump Tower are,
perhaps owned by foreign government. And that`s one of the thing that is
we`re examining and that`s actually how we found out about the Paul
Manafort series of transactions by starting to look at Trump Tower.
O`DONNELL: Just going to for that one thing, you stumble off Paul Manafort
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Austan Goolsbee, Former Chair, he`s currently a
Professor at the University Of Chicago. Also joining us Rick Wilson,
Republican Strategist and contributor to the Daily Beast. Austan, is there
anything you can imagine the Democrats coming together with this President
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, ECONOMIST: Not right now. I mean, this is the same day
he – they`re going to strike down all of the climate change and carbon
pollution regulations that Obama put in place. Trump`s budget would
abolish after school programs, massively cut medical research so that they
can have giant tax cuts for billionaires.
This is – I mean, he`s like the worst guy in your fantasy football league.
The guy who is constantly proposing, you give me Tom Brady and I`ll give
you two backups that are no one. He`s on a different planet. I don`t
understand what he`s thinking.
O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson, there he is with more republicans there than
Democrats. He`s clearly saying for all Republicans in Washington to hear,
that he is eager to work with Chuck Schumer knowing that anything they
tried to do in Health Care would have to be pulled miles and miles to the
left from where it was in the House Of Representatives. You would lose Paul
Ryan`s vote ton the way to Chuck Schumer, I don`t see the legislative
strike zone is that Donald Trump is dreaming about.
RICK WILSON, DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTOR: It`s almost impossible to figure out
what his sudden logic on this. It use to be complicated. Now it`s easy.
You know If you think the freedom caucus was problematic before this
bill. Wait until they got to Chuck Shummer`s version. And it`s got a lot
more medicated expansion and all these other things in it. It is going to
send those guys around the bin.
This doesn`t solve the problem in the house in the slightest and it`s,
frankly, I think it`s wish casting on Trump`s part that Once again his
powers of moral suassion is, his mojo as a deal maker, which we saw last
week, went over like a fart in a hurricane.
This was not something that was successful for him in the House. And I see
even less prospect of that happening in the Senate unless he wants to
completely deviate from any sort of conservative dogma about how we view
the reforming health care. He`s going to stuck with Chuck Schumer`s
version. It`s going to DOA in the House by 200 to nothing.
O`DONNELL: Austin, that sounds to me like Donald Trump and Paul Ryan both
realized, oh, wait a minute, we promised our voters we were going to do
this, we can`t quit on this in just a couple of weeks of trying, so let`s
just say, publicly that we`re going to try to do something.
GOOLSBEE: You`re 100 percent right and, look, that would have been a cop
out joke that we all would have known that we were getting, if they had
said that on the day it was defeated. oh, we`ll think a few days more and
you never heard from it again.
But to announce that you`re killing it to blame the Democrats on that day,
as Donald Trump did, he said if we didn`t get a single vote, yes you tried
to devote their domestic achievement and coincidentally none of them are
going to vote for it. to say that and several days later come back and say,
oh, yeah, we`re about to do a deal, it`s goofy. I mean it doesn`t make any
O`DONNELL: So 30 of Chuck Shummer`s Democrats in the Senate refused to go
after the light of day. They have better things to do tonight than go to
the Trump White House. And Donald Trump tweeted in January, January 5th.
He`s president elect. He approaching inauguration. This is what he
tweeted about the Senate Minority Leader. He said the democrats led by head
clown Chuck Schumer know how bad Obamacare is. And Rick Wilson Tweeting
about the minority leader as head clown and then think oh, now let`s go to
work with him, i don`t think we`ve seen that before.
WILSON: You know Chuck Schumer has got thick skin. I`ve done a lot New
York politics. And Chuck`s not laying awake at night worrying that Donald
Trump called him a bad name or said something about him. But it does give
him an excuse and a reason to approach Trump with an ask rather than an
And Donald Trump has made himself now just as – just as this premature
declaration that it was over hurt their negotiating position. Now saying
oh we`re going to work with Democrats. It`s going to be easy. You know
now the Democrats have an opportunity to embarrass him by making it long
and painful and difficult and they`re going to worse, oh, yeah.
They`re going to make it worse because now the government is about to shut
down. The Republicans have the biggest majority in the house they`ve had
in 90 years. They control both houses of Congress and they`re not going
able to agree with themselves to keep the government open. They`re going
to need Democratic votes and Chuck Schumer is going to say here are the ten
things I want.
TRUMP: Ford, a great company announced massive new spending on three big
plans in the state of Michigan. The state which I love very much. Do you
remember what happened in Michigan? Remember November 8th. That was an
exciting Michigan evening.
O`DONNELL: That`s Donald Trump taking credit for an announcement that Ford
made today about an investment in three Michigan facilities, but CNBC`s
David Faber has a longer memory from Donald Trump about Ford`s publicly
DAVID FABER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: Mr. Hinrichs this morning the president
tweeted big announcement by Ford today, major investment to be made in
three Michigan plants. Car companies coming back to the U.S., jobs, jobs,
jobs but when it comes to jobs here I`m only seeing 150 being added. And
again that`s previous to the announcement that you had already made in `15
about the Romeo engine, correct?
JOSEPH HINRICHS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAS FOR
FORD: That`s correct.
O`DONNELL: 150 jobs. This is the second time in less than a week that President Trump has taken credit for investments and job creation that were in the works before he took office. Friday, the president took credit for Charter Communications decision to invest $25 billion and 20,000 jobs in the U.S. Charter`s plans were in the works for almost two years at that
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, Bill, thank you very
much for joining us tonight, could you start with what is coal, and what is
BILL NYE, AMERICAN SCIENCE EDUCATOR: Coal is ancient swamp that`s been
dried out and compressed. So when you burn it, you are burning ancient
plant material and putting carbon dioxide that`s been sequestered under the
earth`s crust, soil, for hundreds of millions of years. You are putting it
back in the atmosphere about a million times faster than it was created.
Clean coal is – so we argue about this so it`s just a misnomer. You are
making carbon dioxide, which is causing the world to warm faster than it
ever has warmed in history. Is this will have tremendous consequences for
everyone in the world. Clean coal is a myth. I know the previous
president referred to it as well.
But he was doing his best. Right now, the unintended consequences, I
think, will be remarkable. First of all, if they, through Russiagate or
whatever they choose to shut down the government, this will empower states
even more. And so the – the states with a little more sophisticated
energy policies like California will impose harder restrictions for
example, on cars manufactured in Michigan.
And so this will influence the U.S. Economy in a way that was probably not
intended by this executive order. Furthermore, it`s another executive
order. So they are going to – I imagine, there will be lawsuits to undo
it because it`s against the actual regulations and laws, which are already
in place by the Environmental Protection Agency. The guys who are going to
make out here, Mr. O`Donnell, Lawrence, are the coal magnates, those – the
rich – those certain rich people stand to get richer.
O`DONNELL: You mean like Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, who is
himself a coal magnate?
NYE: Yes, and so everybody – just from a scientific standpoint there is
nothing worse than burning coal. This is the worst thing – maybe the tar
sands in Alberta. But there`s very few things worse than coal and we need
to stop right away. And I give this example all the time. My grandfather
went into World War I on a horse. Nobody who conducts a war nowadays does
that on a horse.
There were stables, there were mews, there livery, there was whole business
supporting horseback riding in the city of New York for example,
Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia. Those people aren`t in that
business anymore. They went to do something else. In the same way if you
are a coal miner. You are in the heartland.
You are with J.D. Vance calls a HillBilly and you are proud. You don`t
want to be in the coal business because it`s not going to be around much
longer. And if you work in the mines you know how it`s getting automated.
You`re jobs not going to be preserved. We want you – we in the
engineering community want you to get involved in new renewable energy. A
striking thing, a remarkable thing, nuclear power is affected by this,
because it gets some benefits, legally, by being clean.
So by rolling back these traditional regulations you are even affecting the
nuclear industry, it`s remarkable.