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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, politicizing the Russia probe. President Trump revokes the security clearance of former C.I.A. Chief John Brennan.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS:

Mr. Brennan has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility.

CHUCK TODD:

And threatens to do the same to other former officials who've criticized him.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS:

Security clearances for those who still have them may be revoked.

CHUCK TODD:

And even for a current Justice Department official.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I'll be taking it away very quickly.

CHUCK TODD:

Brennan reacts.

JOHN BRENNAN:

I think this is an egregious act that it flies in the face of traditional practice as well as common sense as well as national security.

CHUCK TODD:

Says Mr. Trump is abusing the power of his office.

JOHN BRENNAN:

He's drunk on power. He really is.

CHUCK TODD:

And calls the president's move an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him. My guests this morning, the man at the center of the controversy, John Brennan, plus late word that President Trump's White House Counsel Don McGahn has been cooperating extensively with Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. One prosecutor calls this like having keys to the kingdom. I'll talk to President Trump's current lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Joining me for insight and analysis are Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, NBC News political reporter Carol Lee, Hugh Hewitt, host on the Salem Radio Network and Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the PBS Newshour. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest running show in television history, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. No ordinary August. We've got a big show for you today, John Brennan and Rudy Giuliani. And we're going to get to both of them in a moment. It was almost a half century ago that we first learned of President Richard Nixon's enemies list. The list included people like journalist Daniel Schorr, liberal activist Allard Lowenstein, Democratic Congressman John Conyers, even actor Paul Newman. And it grew over time. Then White House counsel John Dean White House in a White House memo that the administration sought to use incumbency to deal with its opponents “Stated a bit more bluntly,” Dean wrote in this White House memo before he turned, "How we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political opponents." Dean of course eventually testified against his president. The Nixon Watergate era enemies list gained renewed relevance this week when President Trump revoked the security clearance of former C.I.A. Director John Brennan. And then threatened to do the same to many more of the president's highest profile critics. Adding to the Watergate parallels yesterday we learned that President Trump's White House counsel Don McGahn has been cooperating fully with Robert Mueller's investigation. That was, of course, the president's legal strategy at one time. Not anymore. And to complete the Watergate circle, yesterday John Dean, yes, that John Dean tweeted, "McGahn is doing right." On Friday night the Washington Post reported, The White House has already drafted documents to punish Mr. Trump's opponents that we listed above. And that White House official said, "Discuss timing the release of the documents," quote, "As a distraction during unfavorable news cycles." That certainly seemed to be the goal this week as the White House broke the Brennan news at the height of one of those, quote, "Unfavorable news cycles."

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

They should be looking at all these F.B.I. guys who got fired and demoted. It’s a really weir-- It's not us.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump reportedly furious about the nonstop coverage of former senior staffer Omarosa Manigault-Newman.

OMAROSA:

What Mr. Nixon, I mean, Mr. Trump does will be brought to light.

CHUCK TODD:

Tried to change the subject, testing the waters on how far he can go to personally intervene in the Russia investigation and to punish his critics.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

I like taking on voices like that. I've never respected him.

CHUCK TODD:

On Wednesday Mr. Trump told the Wall Street Journal he stripped former C.I.A. Director Brennan's clearance because of the investigation. Quote, "I call it the rigged witch hunt. It is a sham. And these people let it. So I think it's something that had to be done."

JOHN BRENNAN:

This is an egregious act that it flies in the face of traditional practice as well as common sense as well as national security.

CHUCK TODD:

Now with his former campaign chairman on trial for bank and tax fraud the president is threatening to do the same to nine other critics including a current member of his Justice Department.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace. I suspect I'll be taking it away very quickly.

CHUCK TODD:

By targeting Ohr the president is attacking a mid-level civil servant who needs a clearance to do his job. And is prohibited from fighting back. The intelligence community is firing back. After Brennan's clearance was revoked the commander of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden retired Admiral William McRaven criticized the president's McCarthy era tactics. And merely 75 former intelligence officials have shown support for Brennan calling Mr. Trump's action an attempt to stifle free speech. But so far just a handful of Republicans in Capitol Hill have criticized the president's tactics.

SEN. BOB CORKER:

I thought it was kind of a banana rub-republic kind of thing.

CHUCK TODD:

Most have even defended the tactics.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

Mr. Brennan has gone way over the line in my view. And I think restricting his clearance, pulling his clearance makes sense to me.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH:

It was about time that he did take away that.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY:

I think I called him a butthead and I meant it.

CHUCK TODD:

And Mr. Trump's attacks on the Justice Department and intelligence community are only escalating. Now some officials worry that special counsel Robert Mueller and his team could be next.

DAVID COHEN:

What the president is doing in part is sending a menacing signal to the prosecutors and the investigators on the Mueller team that if they continue their investigation that their security clearance which they need in order to do their job is being put in jeopardy.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is the former director of the C.I.A., John Brennan. He's also an NBC News national security and intelligence analyst. Former Director Brennan, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with something, get you to react to something the President himself said about how this punishment of you is not about silencing you, it’s actually about something else. Take a listen, and I want to get your reaction.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

There’s no silence, if anything I’m giving him a bigger voice. Many people don’t even know who he is, and now he has a bigger voice, and that’s okay with me, because I like taking on voices like that.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

That’s the President essentially confirming that he actually wanted to elevate you, and make you, is that what you believe he was doing? That’s what he said there-- wanted to elevate you, make you more famous, and essentially make this a one-on-one with you. Is that how you read this?

JOHN BRENNAN:

It’s hard for me to read Mr. Trump in terms of the actions he’s taken. But I think it was a clear signal to others who still have their security clearances, both in the government as well as outside, that if you cross him, if you speak out against him, he is going to use whatever tools he might have at his disposal to punish you. And so I think this is yet another example of his egregious abuse of power and authority. Just because he has the ability to revoke one’s clearance doesn’t mean that he is doing it for the appropriate reasons. Indeed, he violated the process that he himself, his administration put out --

CHUCK TODD:

Right

JOHN BRENNAN:

-- last year, in terms of the basis for revoking security clearances. So I think it was just designed to distract the press from some of the other things that were going on last week.

CHUCK TODD:

There were nine other people, I want to put the list up, of nine other people that Sarah Sanders indicated could be in danger of losing their clearance. I know you don’t have a video monitor in front of you, but it’s James Clapper, James Comey, who doesn’t have one supposedly, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr. And yourself. What do all of them have in common? Why are those the ten people they’re singling out in your opinion?

JOHN BRENNAN:

Well either because they’ve been critical of him, or because he wants to use them as examples of the deep state or those that are trying to hurt him. In the case of Bruce Ohr, a current Department of Justice official. I think that is one of the most outrageous steps that he could take, to revoke the clearances of a current government official, simply because he doesn’t like either them or their spouse, in terms of what they might have done. That is so antithetical to what has been the practice and what has been the tradition, and what needs to continue to be the basis for the granting and revoking of security clearances so that you trust people with those secrets.

CHUCK TODD:

I’m curious, on Friday night with Rachel Maddow, you indicated that you have had lawyers contact you about possible legal action, it’s 48 hours later, what would that look like, is that something you’re serious about?

JOHN BRENNAN:

Well, I have been contacted by a number of lawyers and they have already given me their thoughts about the basis for a complaint, an injunction to try and prevent him from doing this in the future. If my clearances and my reputation, as I’m being pulled through the mud now, if that’s the price we’re going to pay to prevent Donald Trump from doing this against other people, to me it’s a small price to pay, so I am going to do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future, and if it means going to court, I will, I will do that.

CHUCK TODD:

You have been more outspoken than really any former official. And in fact, that may be why many Republican legislators feel comfortable taking the president’s side. They believe your comments have been over the top. Do you regret essentially, accusing the president of treason? Do you regret some of the things you have said?

JOHN BRENNAN:

Well I called his behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust and to aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim of his actions.

CHUCK TODD:

You are the former CIA Director accusing the sitting President of the United States. It’s not a private citizen. A lot of people hear the former CIA Director accusing the sitting President of the United States of treason, that’s monumen-- that’s a monumental accusation.

JOHN BRENNAN:

Well I think these are abnormal times, and I think a lot of people have, have spoken out against what Mr. Trump has done, and maybe it's my, my warning training as an intelligence professional. I have seen the lights blinking red in terms of what Mr. Trump has done and is doing, and is bringing this country down on the global stage, and he's fueling and feeding divisiveness within our country. He continually lies to the American people, and the types of things that he’s doing, I think I need to speak out, and so I’ve been speaking out rather forcefully, because I believe it’s important to do so. I don’t believe I’m being political at all, I’m not a Republican, I’m not a Democrat, and many members of the Congress over the years who have security clearances have spoken out rather forcefully --

CHUCK TODD:

Right

JOHN BRENNAN:

--against whoever was in the Oval Office if they weren’t from the same political party. So now as a private citizen, they’re telling me that I shouldn’t do that? I’m sorry, I just fundamentally disagree with them.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to give you a chance to respond to something Senator Richard Burr, the Senate Republican Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, here’s what he said about you. He said “If Director Brennan’s statement is based on intelligence he received while still leading the CIA, why didn’t he include it in the Intelligence Community Assessment released in 2017? If his statement is based on intelligence he has seen since leaving office, it constitutes an intelligence breach. … If, however, Director Brennan’s statement is purely political and based on conjecture, the president has full authority to revoke his security clearance…” It seems as if Senator Burr is saying, have you said anything in the public sphere that has gone beyond the facts that you know?

JOHN BRENNAN:

I like and respect Senator Burr, I was disappointed by his statement. I wonder whether or not he actually read my op-ed. I have told the committees, including his committee, everything that I know from my time as CIA Director, and the CIA has shared with the Senate and the House intelligence committees, everything that we knew. What I said in my op-ed is that I have come to understand because of a free and open press here in the United States, what actually was transpiring during that Presidential election campaign season, in terms of meetings at Trump Tower. And also the fact that Donald Trump when he was the presidential candidate of the Republican Party, when he called publicly on the Russians to find Hillary's emails, I didn't realize when I was C.I.A. Director that it was that very night that Russia Intelligence went after her emails. So, and I made a point in the op-ed that collusion means cooperating in some form. Conspiracy is something else. And I think all Americans need to wait for Robert Mueller to be able to finalize his investigation and to determine whether or not there was any criminal activity that was taking place there. But I've spoken out against Mr. Trump's lack of decency, civility, honesty and character. And I'll continue to do that because I have always revered the office of the presidency. And I think Mr. Trump is letting millions upon millions of Americans down.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you, you were a sitting C.I.A. Director at one point. If you worked for a president that did this, what would you do in the situation?

JOHN BRENNAN:

If I worked for a president--

CHUCK TODD:

If you were currently--

JOHN BRENNAN:

--who was this dishonest?

CHUCK TODD:

--if you were currently the head of the C.I.A. and the president revoked the security clearance of a former C.I.A. head, what would you do as sitting C.I.A. Director under that circumstance? And what advice would you give to Gina Haspel, the current head of the C.I.A.?

JOHN BRENNAN:

Well, I admire and respect, Gina Haspel-- and I want her to stay as C.I.A. Director because I think it's important that the institution of the C.I.A. and the professionals be protected from this very, very abusive White House and Mr. Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

So you would sign on, if you were her in this position that she is in, and you just outlined you have your own concerns about this president and you trust Gina Haspel. If you were in her position would you go along with basically saying, "Fine, revoke it. I'll keep my mouth shut because it's more important for me to stay in the job?" Is that what you would do as C.I.A. Director?

JOHN BRENNAN:

We all have to do what our consciences tell us to do. And Dan Coats as the director of National Intelligence is somebody who I also respect, if I were in those positions now I would express my deep, deep objection privately to Mr. Trump. And have a conversation with him about just how bad this is for the community and for the national security and intelligence professions. And as a result of that conversation, I would have to decide then, whether or not I could stay in my position.

CHUCK TODD:

So you’re saying though you would understand if someone objected to what happened to you, but stayed in the position, because maybe they made the decision, it’s better for me to stay here, and be a guardrail, than to stand up and be a public whistleblower of sorts.

JOHN BRENNAN:

I think that's what a lot of these very senior officials are trying to reconcile in their own minds how much they can stay and be governors on Mr. Trump's behavior and how much they cannot countenance at all. People like John Kelly, his chief of staff, who I know and respect and like so much, John and I worked very close together. I'm sure he's trying to keep Mr. Trump from doing awful, terrible things. But at some point a lot-- these senior officials have to ask themselves, are they enabling this continued abusive and reckless behavior or not? And if they feel as though they’re enabling it, and they're not having that type of governing influence on it, I think they have to show their displeasure and their unhappiness and leave.

CHUCK TODD:

Have you heard from Gina Haspel since this happened, or Director Coats?

JOHN BRENNAN:

I have not heard from anybody in the government since this happened. I’ve heard from a number of former colleagues and friends expressing their support, but I was not notified before this happened by anyone in the government, I have not heard from anybody since then. To me, that’s not surprising at all, the way this White House, this administration works.

CHUCK TODD:

Realistically, what does this mean? You’ve lost your security clearance, so what does that mean? Gina Haspel can’t call you and talk to you about the job? You know what I mean? Is that really the extent of what your security clearance was for? Was--you know, that’s what other CIA Directors have hinted at, that in some ways it’s for current directors to be able to ask former directors their opinions on certain things.

JOHN BRENNAN:

Well for me, it probably does mean that, that I just can’t go into the agency and have conversations with people who may call me up and ask me for my thoughts and views, and that has happened in the last couple of months. But for others, former officials who are on that list, some of them serve on boards of directors that require security clearances because the companies involved deal with classified information, and this can have a very punitive, very financial hit against them, and so now if I was asked to be on a board that requires a security clearance, I couldn’t. But, again, giving up my security clearances in order to bring this issue to a head, to me, I’m willing to do that. I have, first time in 38 years I’ve not had a security clearance. I love and respect and admire my former colleagues at the CIA and other places, and I will fight to keep their profession pure, objective and not being politicized and members of Congress need to step up. This is the time that your country is going to rely on you, not to do what is best for your party, but what is best for the country.

CHUCK TODD:

When you speak as a former CIA Director, I’ll be honest, my ears always perk up more, I think people’s perk up more, and so when you have made drawn conclusions about the Russia probe, you have gone further than most on collusion, you have gone farther than most on conspiracy, is this based on--

JOHN BRENNAN:

I’ve not gone further than most on conspiracy, Chuck, I said collusion is certainly--

CHUCK TODD:

I understand.

JOHN BRENNAN:

In plain sight.

CHUCK TODD:

But you’ve connected dots that for instance, Michael Hayden even himself said, I agree with the facts that he’s stating, I’m not ready to connect those dots, why are you ready to connect those dots?

JOHN BRENNAN:

Again, I’m just pointing out what is in plain sight, what all of us have read and seen over the last 18, 19 months, since President Trump has been in office, the things that have come out, the individuals who already have admitted to wrongdoing, these are things, with the Russians, and this is what speaks to collusion. As I said in my op-ed, it is going to be up to Robert Mueller in the course to decide if any of this rises to the level of conspiracy, whether or not Donald Trump had intimate knowledge of any of this, but what I’m saying is that there was collusion that took place between individuals, Americans, and Russians, whether or not this is going to trigger some type of criminal activity indictment is something else entirely. And I’ve never put forth any thoughts on conspiracy. But collusion, I don’t think Mr. Trump has made any secret of it himself.

CHUCK TODD:

And final question, you talked about this lawsuit, when would you make that decision, it sounds like you think -- if you thought a lawsuit could help prevent the revoking of other security clearances, you would do it. When do you make that decision?

JOHN BRENNAN:

Well I think there are a lot of people who are looking at this issue right now, I think I’m just one voice, one person, and so I’m going to be seriously looking at what those options are, and if my voice, if my name can help in this effort, I’m willing to do that. I recognize I have a bullseye on my chest now, by all of those who are trying to defend Mr. Trump’s abhorrent behavior, but again I believe very strongly and I love this country, and I don’t want to see it go down because of someone like Mr. Trump who has failed to fulfill his responsibilities.

CHUCK TODD:

John Brennan, I’m going to leave it there. Former Director of the CIA, thank you for coming on and sharing your views sir, I appreciate it.

JOHN BRENNAN:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. As we’ve mentioned earlier we learned this week that White House counsel Don McGahn has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. New York Times reports that McGahn likely gave investigators information about possible efforts to obstruct justice that they could not have learned from anyone else. He reportedly offered insight into President Trump's mindset and actions involving the firing of FBI Director James Comey and his attempts to potentially fire Mueller. Now TheTimes says McGahn cooperated, in part, because he feared Mr. Trump was setting him up to take the blame for an obstruction charge. The president has reiterated this morning that Mr. McGahn cooperated because he asked him to cooperate. Joining me now is President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Mayor, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Hi Chuck, how are you?

CHUCK TODD:

I’m good. I think our audience is going to be a little confused. A White House counsel, a personal lawyer, former lawyer, it’s all of that so that’s why I’m trying to be careful here with titles. Let me start with The New York Times story and Don McGahn. And let me ask it this way: the previous legal team was Ty Cobb and John Dowd, they wanted to fully cooperate. You and Emmett Flood have wanted to put more parameters around what special counsel Robert Mueller would have done. Would you have ever recommended the amount of cooperation that Don McGahn has given to Robert Mueller had you been the attorney at the beginning?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Well, you know, they represented him at a different stage in this investigation and actually, they did something very, very helpful. They allowed 32 witnesses to testify, they turned over 1.4 million documents, they didn’t raise executive privilege or in this case with Mr. McGahn, attorney-client privilege, so that the independent counsel, special counsel could get as much evidence as possible. And in fact, I think John Dowd would tell you, with an agreement by, with, with Bob Mueller that it would be concluded quickly. I guess if I had known the outcome, that Mueller would not conclude it quickly, that this really wasn’t an attempt in good faith to try to work out some resolution to this, I might’ve chosen a different strategy, I’m pretty sure they would have. But, be that as it may, it puts us in a very strong position to say we don’t, they don’t need to question it, they have all the information, they --

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

Why, why is that, how is that, actually, doesn’t this put you in a position of now it looks like you’re afraid of being questioned? I ask it this way: the special counsel has an eyewitness on whether or not the president obstructed justice, right? We don’t know whether he did or not, but he has a potential eyewitness that is either exculpatory or is problematic for you, but doesn’t that actually underscore the reason why --

RUDY GIULIANI:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

-- the special counsel has to talk to the president?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Absolutely not. First of all, we have a good sense, obviously, of what Mr. McGahn testified to, I can figure it out from --

CHUCK TODD:

How – wait – how do you say that “good sense,” have you debriefed him?

RUDY GIULIANI:

No, no, but Mr. Dowd has a good sense of it, he talked to them at the time.

CHUCK TODD:

So you don’t know what Mr. McGahn, you don’t know 100% of what he testified to Mr. Mueller?

RUDY GIULIANI:

I think that through, through John Dowd, we have a pretty good sense of it and John Dowd yesterday said, I’ll use his words rather than mine, that McGahn was a strong witness for the president, so I don’t need to know much more about that. Also, they don’t need to know what the president’s going to say because the president has said it and we’ve told them that we would stipulate that what the president has said is the president’s true belief that he did nothing wrong, that he wasn’t involved in collusion, that he wasn’t involved in obstruction and they have yet to propound a question to us, give us a question, where there is not an answer to it already by the President of the United States. So the only reason they could possibly want the President of the United States is because they’re desperate for some kind of charge they can hang their hat on. They don’t have collusion or conspiracy, as Brennan pointed out, and they don’t have --

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

How, how do you know that? You say this always so definitively, how do you know they don’t?

RUDY GIULIANI:

I know they don’t because (laughs) look, this whole McGahn thing leaked from them. If they had, if they had some kind of evidence that there was collusion or there was obstruction, don’t you think it’d have been leaked? I mean, they leak everything else.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

What, what, I mean, I mean let’s talk with collusion, I mean the Trump tower meeting itself is at least evidence of you better investigate --

RUDY GIULIANI:

(laughs)

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

It’s, it’s, it’s --

RUDY GIULIANI:

It’s not.

CHUCK TODD:

-- how is it not?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Well, because the meeting was originally for the purpose of getting information about, about Clinton. The meeting turned into a meeting --

CHUCK TODD:

Which in itself it’s attempted collusion. I understand --

RUDY GIULIANI:

No it’s not.

CHUCK TODD:

You just said it. The meeting was intended to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from a criminal lawyer.

(OVERTALK)

RUDY GIULIANI:

No, it wasn’t. No, no.

CHUCK TODD:

That was the intention of the meeting, you just said it.

RUDY GIULIANI:

That was the original intention of the meeting. It turned out to be a meeting about another subject and it was not pursued at all. And, of course, any meeting with regard to getting information on your opponent is something any candidate’s staff would take. If someone said, I have information about your opponent, you would take that meeting. If it happens to be a person with a Russian --

CHUCK TODD:

From the Russian government?

RUDY GIULIANI:

She didn’t represent the Russian government, she’s a private citizen. I don’t even know if they knew she was Russian at the time. All they had was her name.

CHUCK TODD:

They didn’t know she was Russian, I think they knew she was Russian, but ok.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Well, they knew it when they met with her, not when they set up the meeting. You, you told me, you, you asked me, you know, did they show an intention to do anything with Russians? Well, all they knew is that a woman with a Russian name wanted to meet with them. They didn’t know she was a representative of the Russian government and indeed, she’s not a representative of the Russian government. So, this is much ado about nothing. Plus, the President of the United States wasn’t at that meeting. He didn’t know about that meeting. He found out about it after and by the time he found out about it, it was nothing. So, I mean --

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this, let me just go back to the core --

RUDY GIULIANI:

So, I mean, if this is their case for collusion --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. Yeah.

RUDY GIULIANI:

-- good luck, Mueller.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me go back to the core part of the investigation, which is do you believe that somebody stole emails from John Podesta and the DNC and leaked them to Wikileaks? That factually happened, right? Do you believe that that happened, that crime happened?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Well, I believe that somebody got them and they didn’t know that those emails were gotten and I’m almost certain from the reports that I’ve read that it’s hacking and it looks like it’s pretty clear that it was Russians.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

So it’s important to you -

RUDY GIULIANI:

Beyond that, beyond that --

CHUCK TODD:

But it’s important to Mr. Mueller get to the bottom of that, no?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Of course, but he’s had months to get to the bottom of it. He’s got 1.4 million documents, he’s got at least 32 witnesses in which we didn’t raise executive privilege and in the case of Mr. McGahn, we had even a better case, you could’ve had attorney-client privilege. So the president encouraged him to testify, is happy that he did --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

RUDY GIULIANI:

-- is quite secure that there is nothing in the testimony that will hurt the president and John Dowd told you that when he said he was a strong witness for the president, so I believe this is the, this is a desperate special counsel who leaked this to The New York Times, illegally, I might add and in fact --

CHUCK TODD:

Do you have any evidence of this? Do you have any evidence that he leaked this to The New York Times?

RUDY GIULIANI:

The only other one that could’ve done it was McGahn. I mean, I didn’t leak it to The Times and Jay Sekulow didn’t leak it to The Times, the president sure as heck didn’t, so who could it be? It could be McGahn, and McGahn’s not doing it. He would’ve done it a long time ago if he was going to do it. They’re down to desperation time. They have to write a report and they don’t have a single bit of evidence. Even Brennan said an extraordinary --

CHUCK TODD:

But aren’t you, let me ask you this, Mr. Mayor, I want to play, play, aren’t you and the president to blame for the delay in the Mueller report? Take a listen, this is how you have answered the question about a Mueller interview. Take a listen, you’ll enjoy it, I promise.

RUDY GIULIANI: (laughs)

[BEGIN TAPE]

GIULIANI: Never beyond two or three hours.

//

GIULIANI: If there were written answers and they might -- most probably would be under oath.

//

GIULIANI: The main focus that we want, I can tell you, simply is Russia.

//

GIULIANI: They would probably limit it to collusion and obstruction.

//

GIULIANI: He doesn't need to ask a single question on obstruction.

//

GIULIANI: If we do that under oath, we end up in a sort of Martha Stewart situation.

//

GIULIANI: Mueller has all the answers. We've given them.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Can’t you speed up Mueller’s report and can’t you have more credibility about beating up Mueller to get his report out if you get the president to sit down with him?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Chuck, first off, get the word credibility out of it, I think we have plenty of credibility. The last two letters that came, they took about 11 or 12 days to respond to our letter, sent us a response that sets forth a negotiating position about an interview. We didn’t reject it, we didn’t say out of hand that we’re not going to do it. And they put some pressure on us to come back quickly. Well, we did. We came back in 4 days. It is now a week and a half later and they have not responded to our letter. Now, don’t tell me that we’re delaying this if they’re spending a week and a half getting back to us. I don’t know why they’re doing that but they’re sure as heck not showing any desire to expedite it. I can’t get them to write a letter faster than they have and if you want to start counting up the time that we have taken to draft a letter --

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

So you believe this is on them? You believe this is on them, that you would’ve, that you guys have not delayed the interviewing --

RUDY GIULIANI:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

--delayed the negotiations with Mr. Mueller?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Yes, each time, by 3 or 4 days, so we could write a letter in response. They have taken 2-3 weeks to get back to us, so what I have to tell you is, look, I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth. He didn’t have a, a conversation --

CHUCK TODD:

Truth is truth. I don’t mean to go like --

RUDY GIULIANI:

No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth. The President of the United States says, “I didn’t -- ”

CHUCK TODD:

Truth isn’t truth? Mr. Mayor, do you realize, what, I, I, I--

RUDY GIULIANI:

No, no, no--

CHUCK TODD:

This is going to become a bad meme.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Don’t do, don’t do this to me.

CHUCK TODD:

Don’t do truth isn’t truth to me.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Donald Trump says I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey. Comey says you did talk about it, so tell me what the truth is.

CHUCK TODD:

Don McGahn might know.

RUDY GIULIANI:

If you’re such a genius, John McGahn -- Don McGahn doesn’t know. If that’s the situation --

CHUCK TODD:

Ok.

RUDY GIULIANI:

-- they have two pieces of evidence, Trump says I didn’t tell them and the other guy says that he did say it, which is the truth? Maybe you know because you’re a genius.

CHUCK TODD:

At that point, you’re right. Under two people, I, no, you’re right. I don’t read minds on that front. Let me ask you this final question.

RUDY GIULIANI:

No, we have, we have, no, no, no, let me finish. We have a credibility gap between the two of them. You’ve got to select one or the other. Now, who do you think Mueller’s going to select? One of his best friends, Comey, or the president who he has been carrying on a completely wild, crazy--

CHUCK TODD:

It it possible--

RUDY GIULIANI:

--unorthodox investigation.

CHUCK TODD:

-- is it possible he makes a conclusion based on who’s been more truthful over the years?

RUDY GIULIANI:

It’s possible that he’ll make the conclusion on which of the two statements is more logical, which of the two statements has more common sense. Yeah, it’s possible he can do that. But, no, you can’t bring into, you can’t bring into, into question prior conduct. You’re not even allowed to do that at a trial.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

Alright. One final question for you. You said if Mueller “doesn’t get this done in two or three weeks” -- basically referring to September 1st -- “we will just unload on him like a ton of bricks.” What does that mean?

RUDY GIULIANI:

For interfering with the election when he had no reason to do that, because he could’ve gotten this done earlier. The person who is delayed here is Mueller. Not us.

CHUCK TODD:

But what are you going to do? What is “a ton of bricks?” Is the president going to fire him?

RUDY GIULIANI:

No. We’re not going to fire him.

CHUCK TODD:

Is the president going to revoke security clearances?

RUDY GIULIANI:

We’re going to point out to the public how he has acted improperly and he’s now violating a Justice Department rule--

CHUCK TODD:

So you’re going to--

RUDY GIULIANI:

--about not carrying on an investigation--

CHUCK TODD:

That’s not the rule--

RUDY GIULIANI:

--within 60 days of--

CHUCK TODD:

--it’s about issuing indictments and things like that. He can go dark--

RUDY GIULIANI:

--no, it’s about carrying on--

CHUCK TODD:

--he can go dark.

RUDY GIULIANI:

It is not. It’s about carrying on a public investigation. If he has to issue a subpoena during that period of time, it would be a gross interference in the election. When he could've issued the subpoena six months, six months before, three months before.

CHUCK TODD:

Now that, I think that is what we were both agreeing on that. I think we’re both agreeing on that.

RUDY GIULIANI:

I’d like to comment about, about, about Brennan. Brennan made the extraordinary charge that the president was treasonous and then just said to you and I commend you for your questioning, that he has no information --

CHUCK TODD:

Ok.

RUDY GIULIANI:

-- that the president is guilty of conspiracy. Well, I mean that is just conjecture that this man accuses people of a, of a, of a crime that could carry death as the, as the result. Totally --

CHUCK TODD:

It’s a highly charged word.

RUDY GIULIANI:

-- unhinged character who shouldn’t have a security clearance.

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Mayor, I will leave it there. As always, sir, thanks for coming on, sharing your views, always interesting to talk with you. I thank you.

RUDY GIULIANI:

Thank you. Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, the panel will be here and, let’s just say there’s a lot to discuss. Truth vs. truth. Stay with us.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, panel is here. Hugh Hewitt, host of the Hugh Hewitt Show on the Salem Radio Network, Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the PBS News hour, NBC News political reporter Carol Lee and Washington Post columnist and NBC News political analyst Eugene Robinson. Wow. I was going to start with Admiral McRaven signing on with John Brennan. But I think we've got some interviews to react to. Eugene?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well, you've got to start with truth isn't truth which um which um Mayor Giuliani just said. An extraordinary thing. Just throws more logs onto, onto the fire of this administration's truthfulness and candor. Or lack thereof. It's just an amazing thing. It's the new alternative facts. That was extraordinary.The other thing is John, John Brennan, I'll say one thing, and I know this will get into other aspects of the Brennan interview, it’s not -- the president has the right to cancel these security clearances. But he doesn't necessarily have the right to do it for the wrong reasons. I mean he’s doing -- There are thousands of people in Washington who have security clearances. It cannot be the case that the only ones who deserve to have theirs scrutinized and taken away are vocal public opponents of Donald J. Trump. That cannot be the case. And so if you do something that you have a legal right to do but if you do it for vindictive reasons, political reasons, you know that-that may not fly.

HUGH HEWITT:

I think John Brennan conceded that conspiracy's off the table. And Rudy seized on that and when he does this he just wants to talk to Chuck Todd about the fact that John Brennan just took conspiracy off the table. Yesterday Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee about whom there has been widespread agreement, he's worked well with Warner, said there is no factual basis for conspiracy or collusion that has yet been introduced to his committee. And the news in that interview with Rudy is we're not going to fire Mueller. We're just going to keep pointing out that he's got nothing and we're giving him nothing more. Because 30 hours with Don McGahn is an unprecedented level of cooperation. My former boss, Fred Fielding--

CHUCK TODD:

Wait a minute.

HUGH HEWITT:

--still needs smelling salts.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, but Carol and Yamiche, you guys cover this very closely. But Carol, I was stunned that Rudy Giuliani isn't-- He's taking John Dowd's word for Don McGahn's testimony. I found that stunning.

CAROL LEE:

Right and then he was very clear to you that he had -- he didn't really know what was said. And that is stunning. It's also interesting to watch them try to flip the script on the Don McGahn story and say, "No, no we love this. This was great. We wanted him to do this. The president's happy that he did this." And say -- And he specifically said that he's in a strong position to say they don't have to question the president because he not only interviewed Don McGahn and spent 30 hours with him. But all of these other individuals. And so, you know, and then he said, "We're not the ones that are causing this delay," which has clearly been the case over the last few months.

CHUCK TODD:

McGahn's cooperation seems like it makes the president's interview more important, not less. It's an eyewitness account to something.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

One of the biggest things that I took out of Don McGahn talking for so long with the special counsel is that he had his own lawyer and his own legal strategy going in because he was worried that the president was going to blame this on him. That's pretty remarkable. And not to go to the Omarosa thing just yet. But there's this idea that Omarosa in my reporting used to tell people in meetings when they were trying to talk about other subjects, "Have you guys hired your lawyers yet because you know we all should be understanding of the fact that we could have legal consequences for just working in this building." Going back to Rudy Giuliani's interview, you said the headline, I think the headline is truth isn't truth. As soon as he said I thought, "Man, Chuck Todd really does these things really well," because the last time it was Kellyanne Conway saying, "Alternative facts." I think the idea that truth isn't truth is going to go down as this White House's legal strategy. And I should say this president's legal strategy.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me go to this campaign. Because it is a, whatever you want to think of the president, the investigation, it's a campaign that he’s, Hugh, that he's made against Mueller. And the question is he's going after the intel community. Admiral McRaven, and I'm curious if you guys think he's the general, the Joseph Welch to this. He put up a tough statement. He goes, "I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency through your actions. You've embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and worst of all, divided us as a nation. If you think for a moment your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism you are sadly mistaken." Hugh Hewitt, if Admiral McRaven is the president's opponent that's not good.

HUGH HEWITT:

Admiral McRaven's been on my show. I admire him immensely. He gave the best commencement speech in the history of commencement speeches. And everyone knows he's a hero. Bill Webster's another man that I greatly admire. Judge Webster let out that letter. I still question the letter because it ignores a lot of the 2014 problems with John Brennan. You know Mark Yudof called for his resignation for spying on Democratic staffers. Dianne Feinstein does not hold John Brennan in high regard. This is a controversial character, and the letter went much further than it ought to have gone. I would have held my bullets if I were McRaven. I would have waited for a different hill than John Brennan's security clearance on which to die. And as a result I think especially when Brennan comes on this morning, and he's a colleague of ours, right, at NBC News. But when he walked back treason, you don't get to walk back treason.

CHUCK TODD:

No I think that is what makes Brennan probably a rough spokesperson for the intel community.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

It is. It's the one word. And the reason is, of course, that he was a former director of the C.I.A. You just naturally hold him to a somewhat higher standard.

CHUCK TODD:

No offense to a member of Congress when they say it.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Exactly.

CHUCK TODD:

When a member of Congress says it I assume it's political claptrap.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

So I get that. I also get the distinction he's making between collusion and conspiracy. And I agree with him. Collusion is there in plain sight. We've seen that. Does it amount to conspiracy, a legal term? And so we'll see. That's for Mueller to decide. The McRaven letter made me think of how this is perceived, all this is perceived by the Intelligence Community. By a 30-year veteran of the C.I.A., John Brennan who knows everybody, who's been there, who's been in the trenches with everybody. This is a huge deal for the thousands of intelligence professionals around here.

CAROL LEE:

Well, there are intelligences officials who aren't comfortable with how far Brennan has gone. I thought he said three really interesting things in your interview with him. First he laid out kind of where he might go in a legal argument. Basically the president has the power to do this. But is he abusing that power? He used the word--

CHUCK TODD:

Essentially character assassination.

CAROL LEE:

--he used the word injunction.

(OVERTALK)

CAROL LEE:

And he said that he'd be willing to go to court. And then he says when you asked him about what he would do as C.I.A. Director which was a great question, he didn't really have an answer in the sense that he said, "Well, I'd have a private conversation with the president. And then, you know, based on whatever he said maybe I would go publicly." And then he talks about individuals who work in the government needing to possibly resign if they reach that point of where they've crossed over from governing to enabling. But what is that distinction? And he didn't make any of that clear.

CHUCK TODD:

He didn't. I think it was his way of saying, "Gina Haspel, don't resign over me--"

CAROL LEE:

And they’ve been silent.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright. When we come back. Many are already referring to 2018 as the year of the woman. But let me tell you, it's a whole lot more than that. Stay with us.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data Download time. 2018 is shaping up to be one of the most diverse years for candidates for public office that the country has ever seen. So far, 13 women have won primaries for governors races, 19 for the U.S. Senate and 198 for the House. Plus nearly 100 more still vying in remaining primaries across those levels of government. But the remarkable diversity extends beyond gender. Let's look at LGBTQ candidates this cycle. Thanks to data from the LGBTQ victory fund we know that more than 430 candidates have run for office this election cycle across all levels of government. And up to this point in the primary season an expected 219 will be on the ballot this November. There are four LGBTQ nominee-- candidates, nominees for governor, one nominee for the Senate so far and 21 who have won primaries for House seats. But guess what? It's not just there. We've also seen the highest number of Muslim candidates since 9/11. Now there are a lot of factors driving these diversity numbers overall. But in part, they certainly look like a response to the 2016 election that was driven largely by a focus by candidate Donald Trump on white, working class men. When we come back, End Game and the story that just won't go away.

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Coming up, End Game brought to you by Boeing. Continuing our mission to connect, protect, explore and inspire.

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CHUCK TODD: Back now with End Game, you can't talk about American politics without talking about the role of religions in general and what's happening in the Catholic Church this week out of Pennsylvania is something that is going to have reverberations here. A Pennsylvania grand jury report released this week identified more than 1,000 child victims of more than 300 abusive Catholic priests across the state. That's just one state of Pennsylvania. This is in 2018. Never mind what we thought they made movies about in 2002 and things like that. I want to get everybody's reaction to this. Hugh, I want to start with you, but let me, this is, this is from the grand jury report on how the church had a playbook for concealing the truth. “Make sure to use euphemisms, never say ‘rape’; say ‘inappropriate contact’ or ‘boundary issues.’” Also in this playbook, “even if a priest is raping children, keep providing him housing and living expenses,” referring to the priests. “When a priest does have to be removed don't say why.” And “above all,” Hugh Hewitt, “don't tell the police.”

HUGH HEWITT: I'm an ashamed and grieving Catholic. And Donald Wuerl, who is the archbishop of Washington, should have resigned last week, should be fired today because he was part of a conspiracy to cover up a child porn ring run by priests in Pittsburgh. He is part of the problem--

CHUCK TODD: Think about what you just said there.

HUGH HEWITT: --that only--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD: Think about what you just said there.

HUGH HEWITT: I know, a child porn ring.

CHUCK TODD: Run by priests.

HUGH HEWITT: And child peddling and child trafficking and you can't read this without vomiting if you're a Catholic who believes in the church. I think Attorney General Shapiro, Democrat of Pennsylvania, has set a standard for 49 other attorneys generals because we cannot trust the Catholic-- we can trust some people: Chaput in Philadelphia, Gomez in Los Angeles. But you can't trust the church to do this.

CHUCK TODD: Wow.

HUGH HEWITT: You have to have, I think, 49 more Shapiro reports.

CHUCK TODD: Holy cow.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: I would imagine that, and as someone who also is Catholic, when I think about this, I think of developing countries. And I think about the fact that Pennsylvania and maybe the 49 other states might get to this. But the Catholic Church has so many other roots in so many other places where priests are seen as not just the people that are at church but they're the people who run the schools, they're the people who run aid, they’re where families go to if you need your child to just have a role model if your father's not around. And when I was reading about the priest putting on crosses on children's necks to try to tell other priests this is a child who's vulnerable and has already been violated, I almost vomited. It was--

CHUCK TODD: Me too.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: --it's terrifying.

CHUCK TODD: It's terrifying. Shivers.

EUGENE ROBINSON: Look, Pope Francis is going to have to do something and just--

CHUCK TODD:

What is the something?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

--something big and something serious.

CHUCK TODD:

What is it though?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

I don't know.

HUGH HEWITT:

I'll tell you what--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

But it better be big.

HUGH HEWITT:

--you fire Wuerl.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

But how does that begin?

HUGH HEWITT:

You send Gomez here.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

He's the pope. He can send a much clearer message I think than has been sent thus far to save the Catholic Church in this country. I mean, because there will be, I think, if not 49, there certainly will be--

CHUCK TODD:

Carol--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

--more Shapiro reports.

CHUCK TODD:

--here's what I think makes this so damning. Let me put up a thing, the first time an abuse scandal went public was 1985 in Louisiana. We've got the look the editor in chief that everybody loves here in Washington D.C., Marty Baron of TheWashington Post essentially made his name by uncovering the abuse that was taking place up in New England. And it's as if the Catholic Church each time just dealt with the problem and then tried to move on.

CAROL LEE:

It's a culture of secrecy. It's an institution that does not, that sees itself as its own kind of moral and governing and legal authority.And so, and it's massive. It's across the world. And what we've seen is that this kind of abuse is so widespread that were the church to try to tackle the issue, how would you even know? You don't know who is -- who is trying to solve the problem is actually part of the problem because it goes from the individuals who have committed abuses to those who have covered it up to people who are complicit in it. And it's all very widespread. And I think Pope Francis, you know, he doesn't have a great track record of dealing with these issues, particularly the one that came up in Chile. And he was silent. And it took them 48 hours to issue a statement. He still hasn't said anything. He didn't say anything this morning.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious of the larger societal impact. And this is an evangelical movement that has turned the other way on this president and what he's done morally, a Catholic Church that you can't trust morally with your kids even if you believe in them in your own beliefs. And what does that do to organized religion in this country?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

I think it makes people more and more wary of going into churches or going -- and looking at pastors for some sort of moral direction. For a long time--

CHUCK TODD:

But if not them, who?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

--I don't think there is. I think what the lesson here is that you really can't trust anyone. I should say this, I'll say it, I grew up with a grandmother who was very devoutly Catholic who also said priests are men and who also said be very careful of who you put your child with regardless of who that is. So if it's coaches, if it's teachers I think you need to understand and I think we all understand now that we need to be very, very more vigilant in--

HUGH HEWITT:

If I had more time though I could run down a list of good, great leaders in the church, Chaput, Gomez, but I can also tell you that this pope has failed. And if he sends someone like McElroy out of San Diego or one of these other old, white guys who've been part of the complicity of conspiracy and cover up for 40 years he will have failed in his most important challenge because those institutions are necessary.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm sorry to be talking about this on a Sunday morning of all mornings. Anyway, thank you all. And thank you for watching. As we say goodbye we're going to leave you with an uplifting moment. It's a moment from the great Aretha Franklin. And it's a performance at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015 where she honored Carole King with her rendition of You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman. Enjoy and remember. We'll be back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.