December 10, 2019

Lawrence O'Donnell opened this segment last night on the inspector general Russia probe report with this gossipy little tidbit.

"And the one thing nobody could have seen coming in the inspector general's report is Christopher Steele's relationship with Ivanka Trump. Christopher Steele, who cooperated with the inspector general's investigation, quote, stated that, 'If anything, he was favorably disposed toward the Trump family before he began his research because he had visited a Trump family member at trump Tower and been friendly with the family member for some years. He described their relationship as personal and said that he once gifted a family tartan from Scotland to the family member and that family member is Ivanka Trump," he said.

"Joining our discussion now is James B. Stewart, New York Times columnist and CNBC contributor, the author of "Deep State: Trump And The FBI Rule Of Law." You covered so much of this ground in your book. Here it is, the report everyone was waiting for, and anyone who read your book will not be surprised."

"I'm very glad that the inspector essentially confirmed everything that I found. We all interviewed the same people," Stewart said.

"And I think what's really important here is that an independent Justice Department watchdog who reports to Barr and who can be fired by the president has now debunked every sensational claim that President Trump has made about a deep state out to get him. The Russia investigation was legitimate. There was adequate predicate, there was no spying on the Trump campaign. None of these preposterous assertions have been borne out."

"This was an interesting sequence because the inspector general's report comes out, and then the attorney general makes a statement, as opposed to the Mueller report where the attorney general got the report, put out his statement about the Mueller report long before the Mueller report itself came out. And the attorney general today seems to be chasing this inspector general's report saying, first of all, thank you, great work, we fully respect you, that's the first sentence.

"And then he says that he believes that there was, in fact, insufficient evidence to begin this investigation. he contradicts this report."

"We're seeing that President Trump and his allies, including the attorney general, are essentially weaponizing what is supposed to be the nonpartisan job of the inspector general, as they did with the Mueller report. Mueller, they did it before, now they're doing it after, but Barr is essentially spinning these facts. He says it was only the thinnest of evidence on which the Russia investigation was begun. That is not what this report says. It lays out all of the facts, the compelling facts that the evidence was there. the United States faced a very grave threat to its national security, and that crimes were possibly being committed. The job of the FBI, its essential mission is to investigate claims like that.

"It wasn't thin evidence. It was really serious evidence that any American citizen would be worried about if they had been confronted with it."

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