Agents of Chaos (2020) s01e02 Episode Script

Part Two

1 ("RHAPSODY IN BLUE" BY GEORGE GERSHWIN PLAYING) ♪ DONALD TRUMP: We've all been through a lot together.
It was corrupt, it was dirty cops it was leakers and liars.
I don't know that other presidents would have been able to take it.
Some people said no, they wouldn't have.
Dirty cops.
Bad people.
For over three years, we went through hell.
We first went through, "Russia, Russia, Russia.
" We had the witch hunt.
We then went through the Mueller report.
Did nothing wrong.
Did nothing wrong.
It was all bullshit.
-REPORTER 2: We now count at least nine figures in the Trump campaign who have met with the Russians.
-Collusion, the word does not exist in the legal books.
-Uh, it-- it may exist There's no evidence of collusion.
There is circumstantial evidence of collusion.
REPORTER 3: The case for collusion.
-There was no collusion! -How is it not collusion? RACHEL MADDOW: Overt, knowing collusion.
-That's what the dossier says.
-TRUMP: Thank you.
ALEX GIBNEY: It's hard to say when the word "collusion" took over our minds.
But it was probably around the time we first heard about this dossier, a secret document compiled by an ex-British spy, painting a lurid picture worthy of a James Bond movie.
REPORTER 4: The allegations in this dossier that the Russians have got kompromat, compromising material, on Donald Trump.
ALEX: To some, the dossier promised hard evidence that Trump was in bed, literally, with the Russians.
The pee pee tape, uh, supposedly took place on that bed.
-(SINGING) Pee pee tape, pee pee tape! ♪ -(LAUGHTER) -Hallelujah! It's comedy Christmas! -(LAUGHTER) ALEX: To others, it was a dangerous hoax created by Trump's opponents to destroy his presidency.
-Infamous, discredited -Infamous, salacious -Trump dossier.
-and debunked Trump dossier.
-Piece of garbage.
-Fusion GPS, that was the firm behind the infamous Steele dossier.
Everyone knows Fusion GPS was the political strategy firm paid for by the Clinton campaign to dig up Russian dirt on Donald Trump.
REPORTER 5: Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson pleading the Fifth in a ALEX: A few weeks after Trump's inauguration, my phone rang.
It was someone who knew about the mysterious dossier.
But this person wasn't just a source.
His company had commissioned the document itself.
He wanted me to meet him at a secret location in California.
ALEX: All right, we're rolling.
I was becoming concerned that, uh, if I didn't tell some people this story, and if something did happen to me um, it would never get out.
ALEX: Glenn Simpson is a former reporter who now does investigations for private clients, including politicians.
Early in 2016, Simpson was looking into Donald Trump on behalf of Trump's opponents.
Simpson hired Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, to help investigate Trump's ties to Russia.
GLENN SIMPSON: What we were seeing, from both Chris's reports and also from all the other work we were doing was what appeared to be a full-blown conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
And if he's really conspiring with the Russians, you know, does that mean I'm in danger from the Russians? And, you know, sort of scary conversations with the wife and kids about, you know, moving to Canada.
ALEX: He didn't move to Canada.
Instead, Fusion GPS continued to investigate Trump.
And Trump aimed his Twitter fire straight back at Fusion.
Simpson and his partners had the tweets framed like badges of honor from their wars against the president.
Simpson, why are you taking the Fifth? Mr.
Simpson, are you facing legal or criminal exposure? SIMPSON: There's been a lot of extreme and laughable versions of this.
Most extreme is that, knowing in June of 2016 that Donald Trump would score a 100 to one upset victory over Hillary Clinton, we began to frame him so that we could ensnare him in a Vladimir Putin scandal and ruin his presidency.
Which definitely gives us more credit than we deserve.
It doesn't do us any good to mislead or make anything up.
We weren't trying to prove anything about Donald Trump's connections to Russia.
We wanted to know what they were.
(STATIC BUZZING) LOWELL BERGMAN: So, you're not a journalist.
-I am not a journalist.
-BERGMAN: You're a gun for hire.
Call me what you want.
I'm a consultant.
You know? I work for clients.
And sometimes they're you know, from this country.
Sometimes they're from other countries.
Sometimes they're Republicans.
Sometimes they're Democrats.
In 2012, we had been hired to look into Mitt Romney.
We were asked to do that because I had been a business reporter at the Wall Street Journal.
Romney is a self-made tycoon with a very opaque financial history.
It wasn't clear how much taxes he paid.
When 2016 rolled around, we had another tycoon, and I'd figured no one would know how to do the work on him.
You're fired.
A Republican friend of mine, who's involved with a lot of um, I guess, dark money is the best, you know, for-- term for it.
He reached into one of the pockets that he knew about and found some funding for us.
MODERATOR: Four candidates on this stage SIMPSON: It was the centrist establishment wing of the Republican Party.
They definitely didn't want someone who had a lot of nontraditional views for a conservative.
-MODERATOR: Senator Marco Rubio! -ALEX: Simpson wouldn't say it, but they were working on behalf of Marco Rubio.
SIMPSON: In the beginning of any new project, you want to go out and read everything that's already been written about that subject.
So I ordered a used copy of every Donald Trump book.
Sliced them up, pull apart the spines, and put them into a two-sided scanner.
And then you run it through an optical character recognition program.
And that allows you to index the books and, therefore, when you're looking for everything about Melania, you just type in "Melania.
" After books comes lawsuits.
I've been investigating wealthy people and big companies for most of my adult life.
In the case of Donald Trump, the number of lawsuits was off the charts.
I've never seen anything like it.
I'm a Washington person.
Trump is a New York person.
Washington is about government and policy.
(CHANTING) Donald! Donald! Donald! Donald Trump is about real estate and girls and things like that.
I never really paid much attention to Donald Trump.
He was just a kind of buffoonish character from, you know, another city.
And I was surprised, when I did start reading up on him, to have all these gangsters coming up.
We gathered a lot of string on his connections to the Italian Mafia.
But the gangster that most interested me was Felix Sater.
Because he was Russian.
What is, uh-- What is the old quote by, uh, Winston Churchill? "Russia is a riddle trapped in a--" "It's a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
" ALEX: Felix is a bit of an enigma himself.
He was a tough kid born in the Soviet Union, who grew up in Brooklyn with a father who was muscle for the Russian mob.
Felix worked briefly on Wall Street before serving time for attacking a broker with a broken margarita glass.
But children are not their fathers.
Sater's ties to Russian intelligence made him a valuable FBI informant, who even played a role in tracking down Osama Bin Laden.
When he emerged from prison, Sater went to work in the only industry less regulated than Wall Street: real estate.
And that's where he met Donald Trump.
Did you have any insight or understanding in what Trump's motivation was? "I could win, I could be president, but if I lose, I'll make a lot of money.
" Do you think he saw it that way? Maybe.
I don't know.
There'd be nothing wrong with him thinking that, you know, running for president could enhance his business.
The other people that ran, it was good for business for them.
Their business happens to be politics.
Is there a different standard for a businessman than there is for a politician? This is not a cage match.
FELIX SATER: Aren't they all running to see what happens? And there's no downside, 'cause they get a better name recognition.
There's always another election later.
There's always a new post to be filled.
And the higher your name recognition, the better the post.
In business, the better the name recognition, the more possibility to build more towers or sell more things.
Everyone wants to um create a huge conspiracy and how inappropriate and improper everything is.
Give me a break.
I walked into his office and told him that I'm going to be the biggest developer in New York and he needs to get on board now before it's too late.
And he started laughing, and that's how I started doing business with him.
I thought it would benefit me.
And, obviously, he thought it would benefit him.
Which is why people do business in the first place.
INTERVIEWER: How many times have you-- have you conversed with Mr.
Sater? -Over the years? -INTERVIEWER: Over the years, -if you could estimate.
-Not many.
INTERVIEWER: Not many? If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn't know what he looked like.
SIMPSON: There was plenty of pictures of him and Felix.
There was plenty of firsthand accounts of them being together.
Anytime someone doesn't want to answer a question, you know, you have to ask why.
And, when they lie, you have to ask why.
I'm pretty sure he'd recognize me.
Our first project was Trump Phoenix.
And then we did Trump Fort Lauderdale, we did the Trump Soho, we looked at doing Trump London, Trump Paris, Trump Istanbul.
We were developing real estate.
We were developing Trump Towers.
And if Russian buyers had bought some units Well, you know what they say, "Any customer whose check clears is a good customer.
" But I wasn't bringing Russian money into the Trump Organization.
Never have.
Not one dollar.
Or not one ruble.
(LAUGHS) If that's the question.
REPORTER 1: The Republican field is narrowing.
I will suspend my campaign.
-Suspending your -We are suspending our campaign as of this moment.
Without an ounce of regret.
deeper faith that the Lord will show me the way forward.
You know, there's a lot of people who love me, they just won't vote for me.
But it's okay.
-(CROWD LAUGHING) -It's not a problem.
REPORTER 2: But let's be honest, too, about all this.
The media has given these personal attacks that Donald Trump has made an incredible amount of coverage.
SATER: The press wouldn't stop writing about him.
You know, he was getting a lot of ink worldwide.
I was sitting in my backyard, reading the news on my iPad, and it just dawned on me.
I said, "Wow.
This would be the perfect time.
I think we could get a Trump Tower Moscow deal done.
" I called Michael Cohen, said, "I wanna come by and talk.
" My vision was building the tallest building in Europe.
I actually used to dream about making it the tallest building in the world.
It's a billion-dollar deal.
INTERVIEWER: Vladimir Putin.
I think, in terms of leadership, he's getting an A, and our president -is not doing so well.
They did-- -INTERVIEWER: Okay JOHN PODESTA: Trump was essentially adopting, rather than the bipartisan US foreign policy vis-à-vis Russia, he was adopting Putin's foreign policy.
-NATO is -PODESTA: Questioning NATO.
-As far as the Ukraine -PODESTA: And sanctions that had been imposed upon Russia because of their activities in Ukraine.
Essentially, taking Putin's side of the fight.
And that was, um, odd, to say the least.
(SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN) We're gonna have a great relationship with Putin and Russia.
(SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN) Of course Russians preferred Trump, because Trump said that he preferred Russians.
If Clinton would have-- If Clinton had said that, Russians would have preferred Clinton, you know? And if they both had said it, that they liked Russia and wanted to be friends with Russia, Russia said, "Oh my God! Win whoever!" You know, "We'd be happy with whatever!" (IN RUSSIAN) (CROWD APPLAUDS, CHEERS) SATER: Positive press was happening in Russia about him.
He was saying good things about Russia.
I certainly was happy that he was saying those things 'cause I was trying to get a Trump Tower Moscow deal done.
Are you from Russia? All right.
I think our relationship with Russia will be very good.
Vladimir Putin was on 60 Minutes with me three nights-- three weeks ago, right? Putin.
And they have one of the highest ratings they've had in a long time.
So I'm gonna give him total credit.
(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ SATER: Clearly a project of that size, the highest levels of power would have had to allow it to happen.
(SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN) SATER: In Russia, especially in Moscow, everything ends at the very, very top.
And the bigger the deal, the more likely it would get to the very, very top It would, certainly, would've been very helpful if it was blessed at the top.
The entire system is so messed up that if you try to work legitimately, you will fail.
You cannot operate there without what they call "a roof," which is, uh protection from somebody.
Because somebody else is gonna want to take you out, and somebody else is going to use the tax department or the police department to attack you and destroy you.
So you need the protection of a politician, or an intelligence guy, or a policeman, or somebody of that nature.
And it starts at the very, very top, and it goes all the way through the entire society.
All the way down to the guy who owns a fruit stand, pays somebody off to stand there.
I was trying to do a deal.
I believe we will have a very good relationship with Russia, I believe that I will have a very good relationship with Putin.
Go ahead.
Trump is perfect for Russian oligarchy, because he shares a basic philosophical tenet that the rules are a joke.
There are no laws.
Law is for losers.
Anyone who cares about anyone else is a moron.
So it's a perfectly transactional gangster world out there.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool.
That is in perfect harmony with Mr.
Putin and his group.
There are no ethics.
There's no morality.
It's all a joke.
Americans, from that point of view, are worse than Russians.
We talk about the rule of law, we talk about justice, as though we believed in it.
But we must not.
For them, someone like Hillary Clinton is a hypocrite.
But Mr.
Trump is normal.
Trump is just a normal man.
That's the way men are supposed to behave because, you know, we all know that all this other stuff is just nonsense.
Yeah, just stand over here.
Don't shoot low, shoot high.
Trump is not a real oligarch, he's a fake oligarch.
He has an ambition to be a real oligarch.
And this is why he looks up to Putin.
He looks up to these people as the guys who have actually made it.
These are the made men.
And he knows that he's not.
Trump makes it obvious that he has no values whatsoever aside from the enrichment of Mr.
ALEX: So, here's the question.
Was Trump running to win? Or was he just running to make more money? After all, his role as a presidential candidate would massively inflate the value of his name.
SATER: You have to understand that Donald doesn't really develop.
Donald licenses his name.
He's got a brand.
And his brand is Trump.
I went a few times to Russia to try to build a Trump Tower, way before the election.
In the past, his profile wasn't as big in Russia and the developers in Russia at the time couldn't understand why they would pay him a premium to use his name if they couldn't resell it for a higher number.
-(UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYING) ♪ -(CROWD CHEERING) MALE ANNOUNCER: This 19-year-old hopes to either host her own TV show or become a professional piano player in the future.
Russia! ALEX: Trump made himself more attractive to potential partners in Russia when he brought his Miss Universe contest to Moscow in 2013.
The pageant was co-produced with a Russian businessman, Aras Agalarov, whose son, Emin, wanted a singing career.
EMIN AGALAROV: (SINGING) We can keep tonight going ♪ But we'll still be Falling apart ♪ In another life ♪ We would be together This would last forever ♪ IKE KAVELADZE: This whole relationship was initiated by Emin Agalarov, to host Miss Universe contest in Moscow, which supposedly would give us exposure, international exposure.
Would give Emin international exposure, because he would sing two songs at Miss Universe final.
We were promised some Western sponsors.
Sponsorships did not materialize to the extent we hoped.
We lost a lot of money.
But Emin did sing his songs.
(SINGING) Maybe not this time But I'll find you again ♪ Again, again ♪ We can keep the lights on We can keep tonight going ♪ But we'll still be Falling apart ♪ KAVELADZE: Mr.
Trump announced that he wants to do a Trump Tower in Moscow with us.
But by September of 2014 um, we realized that Trump Organization has lost interest.
Turns out they walked away because they jumped on Felix Sater's deal.
SATER: Me and Michael Cohen were having lunch one day, talking about marketing of the building.
And I said, "Wow, we give a top floor unit to Putin.
The whole floor, we could probably charge an extra 250 million dollars from all the Russians that would want to live in the building.
" ALEX: Everyone did their part.
Sater and Cohen inked a letter of intent on the Moscow tower deal, as Trump praised Putin on the campaign trail.
I'll get along with Putin, I was on 60 Minutes with Putin, he was my stablemate three weeks ago.
ALEX: The messy mashup of business and politics was echoed in Russia.
Through his father, Emin Agalarov got a message from the Russian government to give to Trump.
The Russians had documents that would incriminate Hillary Clinton.
Emin used his music agent to convey the message to Donald Trump Jr.
As part of its support for Trump, the Russian government would hand over the dirt on Hillary.
Donald Trump Jr.
was enthusiastic.
On June 9th, he invited his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, to rendezvous with a group of Russians at Trump Tower.
We spoke to someone who was there, representing the Agalarovs.
I walked towards the tower, and we took the elevator then just walked into this big conference room.
I sat there pretty much silent for the whole meeting except I think I pro-- produced like one sentence.
And that was it, the meeting ended.
For security purposes, they were supposed to report the meetings with foreigners.
Why wouldn't someone report that meeting? I mean, the only reason someone would not report it is if they forgot about it 'cause it was so boring.
ALEX: You've got all these people in that room.
It would certainly seem like this is it, you know, this is the ultimate conspiracy.
But on the other hand, particularly having talked to some people, it seems like it was a nothing burger.
So, wh-- what is your-- I've heard that phrase used to describe it.
So, what is your view? So, you have Russia on one side saying, "We want to help you.
" And you have the campaign on the other side, through Don Jr.
, saying, "Love it!" You have a willingness on both sides that's expressed.
Now, it is true at the meeting, it is kind of a fizzle in the sense that one side's, "Where's the dirt?" and the other side's, "We don't really have a lot.
Like, we didn't put it in a box with a bow.
" But you don't have a situation where you're sitting there, going, "Gee, I wonder if the Russians might do it.
" Oh yeah, they're doing it.
But you don't give something for nothing.
And we know what Russia wanted from the meeting.
Russia wanted to get rid of the Magnitsky Act.
ALEX: The Russian government hated the Magnitsky Act, a law passed by the US Congress that imposed economic sanctions following the killing of a Russian anti-fraud whistleblower.
The law became a powerful tool for targeting international corruption.
Getting rid of the Magnitsky Act was a prize worth paying for.
Just to make sure there's no doubt, it is illegal, illegal, for a foreigner to give anything of value to a presidential campaign.
Full stop.
It is also illegal to accept it.
You had Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Don Jr.
all there to see what Russia could give them.
But they didn't have anything to offer in exchange that would lead to the negotiation working.
ALEX: It seemed like everyone wanted to make a deal, but they were trapped in different movies.
The Russians were playing roles from a John le Carré spy thriller, and the Trump team was deep in Godfather territory.
Stranger still was the fact that Russia really did have dirt to dish.
The next day, the Agalarovs promised Trump "a sizable birthday gift.
" On June 14th, his actual birthday, a painting arrived at Trump Tower and Russian military intelligence published the first large dump of thousands of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.
It was on that same day that the business side of the Trump operation decided to change direction on another Russian project.
SATER: I wanted to take Michael Cohen, and Donald if possible, to the St.
Petersburg Economic Conference.
All of the wealthiest people in Russia, everyone is there.
And in a two, three-day time frame, we could get a Trump Tower Moscow deal done.
The reason that we couldn't go was because of politics.
ALEX: Trump had never run for office before.
Did someone have to tell him that it was a bad look to be doing a Moscow Tower deal while running for president? We had numerous developers that wanted to develop property in Moscow and other places, but we decided not to do it.
SATER: Michael Cohen said, "We're gonna have to postpone, and let's see how things happen after the RNC.
" At that point, it dawned on me that there's just no way we could continue doing this deal.
ALEX: But why couldn't he do both if it's just business? Because I don't think we're geared to accept a businessman being a businessman at the same time as being, uh, the president of the United States.
I could have made maybe as much as 100 million dollars on this deal, or Donald Trump getting elected president.
Which one are you guessing I'm sort of leaning towards? ALEX: Despite what Sater says, the Trump Tower deal wasn't dead yet.
It was just put on the back burner, so Trump could keep playing the role of a legitimate candidate.
To make the act convincing, he had rushed to announce the members of his foreign policy advisory team.
Trump, welcome to the Washington Post.
-TRUMP: Thank you.
-REPORTER: Thank you for making time.
Uh, yeah, we can close those doors.
We heard you might be announcing your foreign policy advisory team soon.
TRUMP: If you want, I could give you some of the names.
-I wouldn't-- I wouldn't mind.
-REPORTER: I'd be delighted.
TRUMP: Um, Carter Page, PhD.
George Papadopoulos he's an oil and energy consultant, excellent guy.
I'd never heard of Carter Page.
I'd never heard of George Papadopoulos.
They've been reported as Russia experts.
They were not viewed by Russia experts as Russia experts.
ANDREW MCCABE: There was not a lot of depth on the George Papadopoulos resume.
He had, like, "Model UN" still on his resume.
He was still living at home in Chicago.
Traveling around, trying to kind of generate some foreign consulting and things of that nature.
But really had very, very little background to bring to the role of campaign foreign policy advisor.
ALEX: Basking in his newfound notoriety, Papadopoulos began dining out on his access to the Trump campaign.
Over drinks, he bragged to an Australian diplomat about cards he probably should have played closer to his vest.
MCCABE: In May, unknown to us, George Papadopoulos makes a comment to a diplomat from a friendly foreign nation, in which he indicates that the Russians have offered to assist the campaign by dumping negative material on Hillary Clinton.
Right about the same time, all of the cyber activity we've been watching so closely comes to a peak as the Russians target the DNC and Hillary Clinton.
REPORTER 1: The thousands of hacked emails leaked to WikiLeaks rock the Democratic National Committee.
REPORTER 2: A trove of emails hacked from the DNC is creating fresh scrutiny.
MCCABE: After that happens, and we are standing with the smoking hole watching the wake of that aggressive intelligence activity, it is only then that the friendly foreign diplomat brings the comments of George Papadopoulos to our attention.
So it's the combination of those two things that makes us realize that we now need to investigate whether or not a campaign for the presidency of the United States has actively coordinated with what we know are hostile acts by a foreign intelligence service.
It doesn't get any more serious than that.
We tried to be very careful about conducting an investigation of a candidate in the middle of an election.
But we didn't have the luxury of standing on the sidelines and watching the Russians select the next president of the United States, and that's why we opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
ALEX: Why was it called Crossfire Hurricane? How do-- How-- How do these names get picked? (LAUGHS) As a, you know, as a leader in the FBI, you're constantly flummoxed by, like, how in the hell did they ever come up with this name? ("JUMPIN' JACK FLASH" BY THELMA HOUSTON PLAYING) ♪ I was born In a crossfire hurricane ♪ But it had a certain ring to it, so it stuck.
And I howled at my ma In the driving rain ♪ MCCABE: During the early phases of Crossfire Hurricane, we very quickly tried to think of folks who we knew were associated with the campaign, who we also knew had significant contacts with the Russian government or Russian intelligence.
And that caused us to focus on four people.
The first, of course, was George Papadopoulos.
The second was Carter Page, who is an individual who had been known to us because of his past contact with Russian intelligence officers.
The third was Paul Manafort who we knew had ties with the government of Russia, the Russian-supported government in Ukraine.
And the final person was General Michael Flynn, who, during his time out of government, had had fairly high profile contacts with the Russian government and President Putin.
Lock her up, that's right.
CROWD: (CHANTING) Lock her up! Yes, that's right, lock her up! Lock her up, lock her up.
That was who Trump identified as people who were advising him on foreign policy.
I'm gonna tell you what ALEX: This was, after all, part of the appeal of the Trump campaign.
The idea that he would bust up the Beltway system, drain the swamp, and replace it with outsiders and mavericks.
MAN 6: Breaking news.
Donald Trump has clinched the Republican nomination for president.
SIMPSON: Like him or not, the Republicans were gonna make him their guy.
So we were gonna be out of a job.
Our work for this other Republican was gonna come to an end.
There was a running discussion internally at my company about whether we would work for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton in particular.
And I was not particularly eager to do that.
When I was at the Wall Street Journal, I was tossed into covering Bill Clinton, the Whitewater scandal.
I never met Hillary Clinton.
Happy to say.
And not hoping to anytime soon.
But, by the spring, we were sitting on a mountain of stuff about Donald Trump Hillary Clinton was planning to raise and spend a billion dollars.
As a business proposition, we were the guys who knew more about Donald Trump than anyone at that point.
We were obviously cognizant by then that something weird was going on with Russia, and so I started mentally earmarking Chris as the right person to help us figure out what was going on in Russia.
ALEX: Steele, Chris Steele.
If you don't know him, you know his work.
In 2016, Fusion hired the ex-British spy to investigate what Russians were saying about Trump.
A few weeks later, his first report came in.
It was based on unnamed Russian sources whose claims were unverified, but the materials were explosive.
They concluded that the Russian government was cultivating Trump as an asset to do the bidding of the Kremlin.
Possible reason? Russian intelligence may have videotaped Trump in the Ritz-Carlton Presidential Suite, watching two Russian prostitutes taking "golden showers" on a bed where President Obama had once slept.
ALEX: This is what's called the dossier? Well, this was the first installment.
What struck me about it was the allegation that there had been a collaboration between Donald Trump and the Kremlin.
Started as a business relationship and a sort of intelligence relationship, and had blossomed into a much more explicit political collaboration.
A portion of the memo outlined some sexual activities that allegedly occurred in a hotel.
We would just call it the "Ritz-Carlton episode" in polite company.
To me, that wasn't the interesting part of the memo.
It was that the Russians were up to something.
And that the "something" they were up to, Donald Trump was aware of and willing to accept.
That to me was, "Holy shit.
" I was very concerned about what looked like a foreign government getting involved on one side in the American presidential election.
Chris is a former government agent so he wanted to report this.
He said, "I know someone at the FBI, and they know me.
" Gave them the first couple memos.
We didn't hear anything back.
This was the beginning of a long and lonely period for me and my partners and Chris, in that we felt like we could see something that everyone else couldn't see.
MCCABE: I ultimately was given a copy of those reports.
And they're incredible.
Like things you would never, you know, never imagine seeing in an intelligence report.
We set about the tedious, time-consuming task of trying to confirm, trying to vet, each one of those claims or facts individually.
Your gut instinct wants to be like, "This can't possibly be true," but at the same time, you realize, "Well, there's enough in here that's close to what we already know.
" For instance, the report includes the fact that Carter Page gave a speech in July in Moscow.
ALEX: Page traveled to Moscow that summer to give a commencement address.
Another American asked to give that address had a slightly higher profile.
I'm glad to be here in July instead of January.
SIMPSON: It was a pretty prestigious gig.
It seemed like this was arranged by the government of Russia to curry favor with the Trump campaign.
Chris's version was a lot more sinister than that.
Chris's version was that Carter Page had been acting as a intermediary between the Russians and the Trump campaign.
CARTER PAGE: Congratulations and thank you.
MCCABE: Carter had come across our radar years earlier, while we were investigating two known Russian intelligence operatives here in the United States.
Carter had actually been approached by the FBI, told, "These folks might be working on behalf of the government of Russia, you should probably not maintain contact with them.
" Not only did Carter not follow that friendly advice, he promptly recontacted those individuals and informed them that he had been approached by the FBI.
He thought of himself as being to some extent, aligned with these Russian intelligence officers.
ALEX: The dossier claimed that while in Russia in the summer of 2016, Page met with senior government officials and was offered an enormous bribe.
If Trump won and put an end to sanctions, Page and other Trump associates would get a brokerage fee on the sale of part of Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil company.
The most, uh, incriminating thing I ever did is having my picture actually taken in Moscow.
I have been speaking in Moscow, you know, in various-- invited-- both-- both in Russia, but in other places for, uh, you know well over a decade.
I was invited by some scholars that I knew, some people that I had known for, uh for many years, um, to give a speech.
And, uh, so I was invited as a commencement speaker.
It was a totally benign trip.
ALEX: Let's talk about the dossier.
One of the things it focused on was a meeting.
What-- What's that all about? PAGE: I gave my speech, and the deputy prime minister, he also gave a speech.
Briefly said hello to him as we were walking off the stage.
And so, people, you know, say, "Oh, you-- you met with a senior uh, Russian government official.
" ALEX: Was he a senior Russian official? Y-- yes.
ALEX: And what about the whole Rosneft thing? Did you meet anybody from Rosneft when you were there in July? PAGE: Well, in 2016, there is the European Cup, I was invited to a party, and I happened to see someone that I knew.
In the dossier, they said that I was offered a bribe of 19 percent stake in this massive oil company.
The reality is, everyone was focused on Ronaldo getting a goal.
-(CHEERING AND WHISTLING) -The level of discussion, in terms of substantive matters, was nothing.
It was a pretty weak substitute for getting an 11-billion-dollar (CHUCKLES) bribe offer.
ALEX: Page was playing games.
He had met with the head of investor relations at Rosneft and discussed sanctions and Rosneft's sale.
The sale, not the proposed commission, was 19 percent of the company.
A pushy bit player in Russian oil markets, Page saw flattery as the art of the deal.
He lavishly praised Putin and the CEO of Rosneft, calling himself an "Advisor to the Kremlin.
" WOMAN: (IN RUSSIAN) ALEX: Through phone intercepts, his Russian spy handlers disparaged him as "an idiot.
" (WOMAN CONTINUES IN RUSSIAN) ALEX: His American boss at Eurasia Group raised the ante.
He called Page "a wackadoodle.
" Carter Page is not some mastermind of foreign policy.
The, uh, title of tonight's presentation, um, is-- Um, it's based on a song from a famous recording artist who supported Mrs.
Tru-- uh, Mrs.
Clinton during her election campaign, Jay-Z.
-(AIRHORNS BLARING) -(WHISTLING) MCCABE: Sometimes, the least likely people become the most advantageous targets.
And it is that lack of sophistication that might make him particularly dangerous.
SIMPSON: Carter Page is who he seems to be, which is a unsuccessful, greedy striver.
But in espionage, they target people who are vulnerable.
Maybe not that bright.
Maybe a little eccentric.
So when you see all of these bozos walking onstage in this whole affair, yeah, the normal human reaction is to say, "Well, that guy can't possibly be in the middle of an espionage plot because he's too ridiculous!" Right? But actually that's exactly why he's in the middle of that plot, is because you can't manipulate, um, people who uh, have it all together.
ALEX: Did you feel that this was important enough that you should begin to start seeding the clouds, journalistically, in terms of helping people to understand what might really be going on? We did, in the summer of 2016, begin to gather as much information as we could that would be useful to journalists.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Glenn invited me and other journalists to a Washington restaurant, the Tabard Inn, for a background meeting with Christopher Steele.
(CHUCKLING) He was all business.
Not a lot of small talk.
And he proceeds to tell me these really astonishing things about one of Trump's foreign policy advisors, Carter Page.
He had been told that Page had had meetings in Moscow with a Putin intimate and another character who was, according to Steele, running the Kremlin's operations in the US election.
And, when I pressed Steele, he indicated to me that the FBI was in possession of this material and was interested in following up.
PAGE: What was eventually revealed is that they put in these two Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court applications for hacking of my emails and wiretapping of my phone.
This outrageous FISA warrant involved extensive surveillance of myself and all the people I had any contact with.
MCCABE: This was a incredibly high profile, unbelievably sensitive investigation.
Our pursuit of a FISA warrant targeting Carter Page began before we ever saw any of the Steele reporting.
The FBI uses FISA to try to determine whether the person is an agent of a foreign power.
You have to have a pretty solid investigation to stand on before you go to the court and say, "We believe that this person may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.
" When the Steele reporting came into our hands, there were certainly facts in that reporting that were relevant to the Carter Page application.
It's not uncommon to put information into a FISA package that you are not 100 percent confident of, as long as you tell the court what you know and what you don't know, what's been vetted, what hasn't been vetted, the strength or weaknesses of the source that provided the information.
We had a lot of conversations about how to represent what we thought of the Steele information.
We felt that that made the package stronger.
Ultimately, DOJ agreed with us and it went forward.
ISIKOFF: I did some reporting and established that the FBI had gotten this information and was investigating it.
Page would not respond to multiple requests I made for comment, I called him, I sent emails, he never responded.
But then, after my story broke he gave an interview to another journalist, saying, "These allegations by Isikoff and Yahoo! are bullshit, I never met with these people.
" And he wrote a letter to the FBI offering to come in and tell them that.
I sent a letter to then FBI Director James Comey two days after this Yahoo! News article came out.
And I-- I wrote to him, and I said, "Listen these two allegations are just absolutely preposterous.
" And I concluded my letter by saying, "If you have any doubt or any questions," you know, "given these realities, please do not hesitate to contact me.
" I actually didn't meet with any of the people they mentioned, or any other sanctioned official.
So it's just smoke and mirrors.
Page started giving TV interviews in which he said 15 different things, half of which were contradictory.
But even if I had, you know, there's no law against that.
ALEX: The problem was a journalistic one.
Isikoff used details from the dossier, and some of them were wrong.
More troublesome from the FBI's perspective, Isikoff's article made public an FBI investigation that was supposed to stay secret until all the facts were checked.
Yeah, that's, like, the worst thing that can possibly happen to you as a counterintelligence investigation.
The ability to kind of proceed covertly with that investigation was obliterated.
PAGE: In March of 2017, the FBI showed up unannounced, started asking me questions.
It was eventually revealed that I was under this outrageous surveillance process.
I've been the victim of one of the most horrendous, uh, civil rights violations in recent US election history.
I am just sort of a sacrificial lamb.
You're not a traitor to the country? -You haven't -(PAGE CHUCKLES) ALEX: There seemed to be two ways to think about Carter Page.
Was he an innocent victim of the deep state? Or a Russian spy? The truth was more complicated and rooted in what was and wasn't known in the summer of 2016.
Was it reasonable then for the FBI to ask for a wiretap? Subsequent investigations revealed deep flaws in the FISA process, but concluded there was no political bias.
Yet, later on, many groused that it was wrong for the FBI to seek a wiretap on Page by including material paid for by the Clinton campaign, the so-called "dossier.
" Basically, this totally worthless dossier has had an incredible life.
It's like a zombie.
You cannot drive a stake through this piece of garbage thing that a foreign spy cooked up for the Democrats.
MCCABE: There's been a lot said about, "Well, because this information was generated by someone who supported one of the candidates, therefore you have to write it off as, you know, political oppo research and it-- and it can't possibly be true.
" That's not true, FBI agents work with information provided to them by people who have an agenda or a bias or a preference all the time.
That's basically all the information you get.
The Steele reporting is not quite as binary, I think, as people like to portray it.
ALEX: So much about the dossier was impossible to confirm.
Was it wholly or partly true? Or completely false? Steele wouldn't reveal his key sources until after the election, so, like the FBI, Glenn Simpson initially evaluated the dossier's claims based largely on how much he trusted Steele.
The two men had worked together before.
In fact, months before Simpson hired Steele, Steele had hired Simpson to help on a job for an anonymous client.
At the time, it appeared to have nothing to do with the American election.
SIMPSON: I probably do ten cases at a time.
There are big cases, and then there's a lot of little cases that come in.
Frequently, don't really care who the client is.
In early 2016, Chris Steele asked if, uh, I could help him in an investigation of Paul Manafort.
I was working for Chris, investigating Manafort and his money.
Manafort has been part of my consciousness since I had consciousness in Washington.
He's a figure from the Reagan Era, and he was a famous dark vulture lobbyist.
Paul Manafort is a very good reminder that n-- not all Americans are nice people promoting democracy abroad.
(CHUCKLES) For decades, Paul Manafort earned money by teaching dictators around the world how to get inside the American system to influence foreign policy.
He learned how to manipulate democratic systems from within, and then go abroad and sell that skill.
SIMPSON: During my career at the Wall Street Journal, I wrote an article about Paul Manafort.
He was making money in the former Soviet Union, working for people who were avaricious kleptocrats.
(CROWD APPLAUDING) Paul Manafort had been most recently associated with the pro-Russian President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.
VICTORIA NULAND: When Manafort first meets Yanukovych, he's this Soviet grubby dude trying to turn himself into a politician.
Manafort does everything from getting him a haircut and a hair dye job, to better suits, to elocution.
All of those kinds of things.
ALEX: When Yanukovych attended the Davos Forum to rub elbows with his fellow heads of state Manafort hovered on the edges of the party, keeping tabs on his prize client.
If Yanukovych needed advice, he had Manafort on speed dial.
But Manafort was no help in 2014, when Ukraine erupted in political violence and Yanukovych fled Ukraine for Russia.
CELESTE WALLANDER: Everyone in the political world in Ukraine is corrupt in one way or another.
Yanukovych was a, you know, sort of higher level of corruption than most.
-Paul Manafort, welcome back to Meet The Press.
-Thank you.
Are you running this campaign now? Donald Trump is running this campaign, and I'm working directly for Donald Trump, but I'm WALLANDER: And here you had this American who rescued Yanukovych and was working for him as a consultant.
And then now suddenly he's the campaign manager for the Republican candidate for president? It was astonishing.
ANCHOR: And now there are people in the national security apparatus who are saying that they have questions about Donald Trump now getting classified briefings, because of you, because of your close ties to Viktor Yanukovych and others.
How do you respond to that? Well, I have no foreign pol-- foreign clients now.
I have no clients.
I have one client, Donald Trump.
ALEX: Usually, when people say they have a client, they're getting paid.
But Manafort was working for free.
This was interesting, especially for Glenn Simpson.
Remember, before Manafort joined the Trump campaign, Fusion had been hired by Christopher Steele to track down Manafort's assets.
SIMPSON: That investigation was on behalf of someone who gave Manafort a large amount of money that Manafort apparently stole.
And that was a Russian.
I don't believe, to this day, that I have ever been told who the creditor was.
I began to suspect that it might be Oleg Deripaska.
ANDREW WEISSMANN: Oleg Deripaska is a brilliant, erudite, fabulously wealthy Russian oligarch who is close to Vladimir Putin.
Let's say I'm a businessman in Russia.
I want to get favorable treatment in let's say, Ukraine.
In order to do that, I want the regime that is going to win to be my people.
I want to install the president.
The MO for Deripaska was to have Paul Manafort promoting regimes that would be friendly to Oleg Deripaska's business.
Paul Manafort doesn't know beans about business.
What he knows is about getting people elected.
Oleg Deripaska and Manafort had a very interesting relationship which appeared to fall apart just around the time that Yanukovych flees Ukraine.
And Manafort is sort of persona non grata at that point.
SIMPSON: You know, POLITICO wrote a big story about "nobody knows where Paul Manafort is.
" No one knew where Paul Manafort was because he was being hunted by a Russian oligarch.
So it was obviously a very fun case, and Chris and I were having a great time tracking down Paul Manafort and his assets, and Um And then, all of a sudden, up pops Paul Manafort as the new Trump campaign manager.
You couldn't ask for a more bizarre scenario.
Are there any ties between Mr.
Trump, you, or your campaign and Putin and his regime? That's absurd, uh, and, you know, there's no basis to it.
So to be clear, Mr.
Trump has no financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs? That-- That's what he said, I-- I didn't-- That's what I said-- that's-- that's obviously what the-- our position is.
Manafort, in hock to a Russian oligarch very close to Vladimir Putin, seemed to raise a whole host of questions about the nature of his relationships and whether he could be influenced as a result of these ties.
ALEX: When our team figured out that Oleg Deripaska had hired Steele who had hired Fusion to track down Paul Manafort's money my head just about exploded.
It just seemed obvious that Deripaska had coerced Manafort to seek out the gig with Trump in order to be Russia's man inside Trump Tower and thereby settle his debt with Deripaska.
Why else would Deripaska call off his search for Manafort's money once Manafort joined the campaign? WEISSMANN: Deripaska ends up suing Manafort, gets a default judgement, and then agreeing, "I'm just gonna put that lawsuit on hold"? It just made no sense.
Like, why are you not just going ahead and enforcing your judgement? I mean, Paul Manafort certainly had tens of millions of dollars in real estate.
So, something-- something's odd.
Um We tried to speak to Oleg Deripaska.
(INDISTINCT CHATTER) You can imagine why somebody in his position might not want to speak to us.
Did Manafort owe you millions of dollars when he was the head of the Trump campaign? What's the real news? We just want the real truth.
Did he-- Did he owe you millions of dollars? It's the news for idiots.
Did he offer you those private briefings to try and repay some of that debt to you? Is that why he offered them? Get lost, please.
Thank you.
ALEX: Deripaska wasn't gonna solve this mystery for anyone.
So it made sense to explore the relationships surrounding Manafort.
That led to another character.
A Ukrainian-born consultant for Manafort who turned out to be a Russian intelligence officer.
WEISSMANN: There's one other person in the cast of characters, and his name was Konstantin Kilimnik.
I'm gonna make this reference, and you will get it since you're a filmmaker, but probably most of your audience, unless they're my age or older, are gonna be like, "Who?" He is Peter Lorre.
When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it.
He worked for Paul Manafort in Kyiv.
He ran his office there.
He spoke the language.
He was affiliated with Russian intelligence.
I was reading every email between Kilimnik and Manafort.
At the end of July Kilimnik flies to Moscow and he says that "I'm meeting with the guy who gave you the large jar of caviar.
He has things that he wants me to tell you, but it'll take a couple hours because it's a long caviar story.
And it has to be in person.
" They've been communicating by email and WhatsApp and all sorts of ways constantly.
So this was already, like, what's so important? We see that Kilimnik flies to New York City meets with Paul Manafort across the street from the Trump Tower, at the Grand Havana Club.
Is here for basically 24 hours, and flies all the way back to Moscow.
You or the audience might be going, "And what happened? What was said?" So, if you wanna know what it's like being an investigator, that-- that's what we know.
ALEX: They also knew there was someone else at the meeting.
Paul Manafort's right-hand man, Rick Gates.
Gates agreed to become a cooperating witness in the Mueller investigation.
He confirmed that he'd arrived at the Grand Havana Club late.
He missed the first part of the conversation between Manafort and Kilimnik.
But Mueller's team figured out what was on the table: nothing less than the partition of Manafort's old stomping ground, Ukraine.
WEISSMANN: We talked to a pollster who worked with Paul Manafort in Ukraine.
And the proposed questions include things like "What if Yanukovych were to come back to Ukraine?" And, "What if Ukraine were to be split in two? How about Yanukovych takes over the eastern part of the country for Russia, and we just take it?" This is what Russia was looking for, and they were gonna want the Trump administration's support.
Because in order to do this Russia would need to know that America was on board.
Fighting for Ukraine and having it remain in the sphere of Western influence is Republican orthodoxy.
People of Ukraine, this is your moment, and the destiny you seek lies in Europe.
WEISSMANN: Senator McCain would be rolling in his grave at the idea that America would actually give over half of Ukraine to the Russians.
ALEX: But the times were changing.
It was the height of the election campaign, and Republicans, at least the ones in Trump Tower, were less interested in protecting Ukraine from Russia than in putting Trump in the White House.
So it made sense that Manafort, Kilimnik, and Gates weren't just discussing Ukrainian politics.
WEISSMANN: Rick Gates told us that he was ordered by Paul Manafort to share internal polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik focused on what was described as "battleground states," but not all of them, I think, would have been known to be battleground states.
Let me put it this way.
If Hillary Clinton thought they were battleground states, it makes it even more inexplicable that she didn't show up in Wisconsin.
WALLANDER: I thought, at the time, given the margin in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania, they may well have swayed the election by targeting particular populations, especially in Wisconsin.
And I'm not sure that, uh, the Kremlin was sophisticated enough to do that all by themselves.
WEISSMANN: It's quite unusual to share polling data outside of the campaign, but the issue is why? You can imagine what Konstantin Kilimnik could do with it.
But that doesn't mean he did do the worst-case scenario, which is that, you know, the Russians operationalized what they were getting.
It was interesting, of course, that it was repeatedly given to Konstantin Kilimnik.
Not-- Not just on one occasion.
ALEX: It was interesting, but it didn't prove anything.
There's no evidence of a deal that Russia would help Trump win in exchange for Trump's help annexing eastern Ukraine.
That's not how the game is played.
Manafort was one of the inventors of the Favor Factory, a magical place where political access is turned into money.
Manafort wasn't instructed to join the Trump campaign by Oleg Deripaska.
It was Manafort's idea.
He told Kilimnik to make sure Deripaska had seen reports about his new gig.
Then he told Gates the new job would be "good for business.
" It was all just winks and nods.
SIMPSON: Given his long history of leveraging political relationships for self-enrichment, I think it's pretty obvious! The plan was, one way or another, to fix his financial problems.
ALEX: In other words, he's-- he's close to Donald Trump, so he can sell influence, so that'll cancel his debts.
That's pretty much it.
We want America to understand who Donald Trump the man is, not just Donald Trump the candidate.
SIMPSON: He was a bad guy in a position of trust.
Shouldn't have been there.
Was up to no good.
We provided journalists with information about Manafort, and about Deripaska, and pointed them to places where they could get more.
REPORTER 1: NBC News has learned this week from court documents, Manafort has business connections to two oligarchs with ties to the Russian mafia.
REPORTER 2: Millions of dollars in undisclosed cash payments for Manafort.
REPORTER 3: Manafort's name is scrawled 22 times for a total of 12.
7 million dollars, a handwritten list of cash payments that's known in Ukraine as the "black ledger.
" REPORTER 4: Another bombshell from the Trump campaign today.
The resignation of the embattled campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, amid a wave of bad headlines.
SIMPSON: When I look back at the things that I feel good about, one of them was Paul Manafort getting fired from the Trump campaign.
WEISSMANN: Paul Manafort was just one part of the documented clear willingness by members of the Trump campaign to get information from a Russian source.
You have a Papadopoulos outreach, a Page outreach.
You then have the Trump Tower meeting, where you have Russian outreach, and you certainly have campaign willingness.
Fast forward to the Paul Manafort-Kilimnik connection, I mean, of course, you have the president actually saying out loud Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails.
WEISSMANN: Which they, by the way, acted on within a few hours.
I think I'd get along very well with Vladimir Putin.
I just think so.
People say, "What do you mean?" I think I'd get along well with him.
Let's put the word "collusion" aside for a moment, 'cause no one knows what it means, and it's not a legal term I've heard anyway.
And let's instead use the word "seduction.
" Let's imagine that you're in a bar, and there's an attractive person across the bar.
You exchange a few glances, the other person buys you a drink.
Then you move to a table, and then things go on from there.
And then, let's say that later on, I'm forced to reconstruct what happened on the basis of written documents.
Am I going to find a document in which you've written on a napkin, "Dear Mr.
or Ms.
So-and-So at the end of the bar, I find you extremely attractive.
You match my taste perfectly.
How about we go through the motions of sitting at a table, having a chat, and then going to my hotel room? Sincerely" Right? No, we're not going to find that cocktail napkin.
Nevertheless, anybody who is present at the scene, and who is aware of human society, can put together what happened.
The-- the Trump-Russia thing is more like that.
There isn't going to be a document where Mr.
Trump writes to Mr.
Putin and says, "Dear Mr.
Putin, I'm a long-time admirer.
As you know, I have profited from Russian capital for more than a decade.
I think your ways of rule are admirable and I would like to imitate them in my own country.
How about we work together? Love, Donald Trump.
" We're probably not gonna find that letter.
But, nevertheless, he makes those sentiments.
And it sounds like I'm joking, but I'm really not.
The sentiments -TRUMP: Are you from Russia? -he makes perfectly clear.
He broadcasts them on television, on Twitter.
He doesn't literally communicate with Mr.
Putin, but he doesn't have to, because Mr.
Putin is watching his every move.
Did Mr.
Trump call up and say, "Hey, I need help"? He didn't have to, because Russia was there for him.
MODERATOR: Let me just ask you again, though.
Is Russia, as Robert Mueller alleged, attempting to influence the 2020 elections in the United States? (IN RUSSIAN) (AUDIENCE CHUCKLING) (APPLAUSE) Do you want to use this opportunity to clearly state that Russia isn't doing that? (IN RUSSIAN) ALEX: America has problems too.
Maybe Putin was giving us good advice (CROWD CLAMORING) that we should stop worrying about Russia, and look at ourselves.
White power! ALEX: After all, the Russian interference only worked because America was a vulnerable target.
(CLAMORING FADES) YOCHAI BENKLER: In the effort to delegitimize Trump, by tarring him with the very truthful fact of Russian interference, we are helping the core goal of Russian propaganda, which is to cause broad-based lack of trust in the American democracy for a decade.
We've been building a system to try to look at the ways in which public discourse is happening online.
We collected every single story that was out there on the web, whether it's from major news sites like the New York Times, or on blog posts or specific subreddits, to give us a picture of who was talking about what, how different candidates were being discussed, and put them all in what is really the largest data set that's been collected about American politics.
Four million stories overall.
In the initial aftermath of the 2016 election, the mainstream focused on exotic and possibly foreign actors.
It was Macedonian teenagers using Facebook clickbait.
It was Cambridge Analytica using Facebook data.
It was the Russians using bots.
It's quite clear that outrage became an enormously, uh, profitable activity.
Take Seth Rich.
REPORTER 1: Twenty-seven-year-old Seth Rich, murdered as he walked in a neighborhood in Northwest DC.
REPORTER 2: The victim had worked with the Democratic National Committee.
REPORTER 3: Seth Rich from BENKLER: Seth Rich was a DNC staffer who was murdered in a botched robbery in DC towards the end of the primary season.
Three days after Seth Rich's death, an obscure website asserts that Seth Rich was murdered by hired gunmen working for Hillary Clinton for some murky role he was supposed to have had in leaking the DNC emails to WikiLeaks.
None of this is anywhere near related to truth or reality.
It was a completely bogus conspiracy theory, but it starts to get traction on the far corners of the internet.
And then, before too long, voilà, Donald Trump's longtime political advisor, Roger Stone, picks it up and tweets, "Another dead body in the Clintons' wake.
" Then Julian Assange feeds the conspiracy theory when he gives an interview to a Dutch TV reporter.
Our whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material, at often very significant risks.
There was a 27-year-old that works for the DNC, -uh, that's the sort of-- -ANCHOR: What are you suggesting? I'm suggesting that our sources, uh, take risks, and they are-- They become concerned, uh, to see things occurring, uh, like that.
ANCHOR: But was he one of your sources then? I mean We don't comment on who our sources are.
ANCHOR: But why make the suggestion? That's quite something, to suggest a murder.
That's basically what you're doing.
BENKLER: In the summer of 2016, the big spike in attention happens when WikiLeaks announces a reward with the implication that Seth Rich was the source of the DNC hacks.
Basically, that Rich was a Bernie supporter and was murdered by Clinton associates trying to prevent him from releasing emails that show Hillary had stolen the primaries from Bernie.
From there, it's just a short step to Fox News.
The conspiracy theories online have taken a life of their own.
But today, Fox 5 has learned there is new information that could prove these theorists are in fact right.
BENKLER: The stories reported by the Fox DC affiliate and by Fox and Friends in the morning Remember that DNC staff member by the name of Seth Rich.
BENKLER: all the way to Hannity, where it gets its most wide popularity.
More on the story of murdered Democratic National Committee staffer, Seth Rich.
BENKLER: They keep hammering on on this story.
Twelve days after he was killed, it shows up on WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks or the emails He gave WikiLeaks the DNC emails, so Rich's contact with WikiLeaks corroborated by BENKLER: Then, once Fox News said it, once it's in the mainstream, it becomes completely legitimate to continue to have a life of its own throughout the online environment.
Now the family says they want the DC police to reveal details.
DC police can't get their shit together.
MALE VLOGGER: And this marker is pretty much on the spot where police found Seth Rich.
As Julian Assange said, you know, 30 days after Seth Rich was murdered To make it look like it was anybody but the CIA.
He's a patriot! In a lot of ways.
He wanted to be involved in the political process.
ISIKOFF: It got unbelievable traction from the allies of Donald Trump.
By early 2017, the Trump White House itself is promoting the idea.
Steve Bannon sends a text message to a 60 Minutes reporter saying that Rich's death was a, quote, "Contract kill, obviously.
" That story didn't come out of nowhere.
I discovered that it was circulated by the SVR, the Russian Intelligence Service and funneled to an obscure website called WhatDoesltMean dot com.
That website is a frequent vehicle for Kremlin propaganda.
It was part and parcel of what the Russians were doing throughout the 2016 campaign.
It was harmful to Hillary Clinton, suggesting, once again, that Hillary Clinton was implicated in mysterious murder.
It also deflected from what we now know the Russians were actually doing during the campaign.
And that is hacking the DNC.
Who is in control of those emails? Who has Mrs.
Clinton's email inventory? The Russians? WikiLeaks? No one knows.
Where there's smoke, there's fire.
Lots of smoke right now.
ISIKOFF: There it is, the definitive proof that the whole Russia story was a hoax.
Here you've got it.
It was really this kid, Seth Rich, who was at the center of it all.
It was all nonsense.
I completely agree that what happened fits our definition of propaganda.
The only question that I'm raising in the context of Russia, is how important is that, relative to the internal dynamics of the American media ecosystem that makes us so susceptible to these kinds of incursions? ISIKOFF: There were a lot of people that didn't want to believe what the Russians were doing.
They didn't want to believe that there was a systematic campaign to interfere in our election by a foreign government.
They didn't want to believe that the Russians had provided emails to WikiLeaks.
ALEX: Julian Assange knew very well that Seth Rich was not his source for the DNC emails, because Assange was deep in conversation with the actual hacker, Guccifer 2.
While Guccifer was pretending to be a Romanian prankster, he was a fake persona for the actual source, Russian military intelligence.
In conversations with Assange, Guccifer arranged for the upload of tens of thousands of DNC emails four days after Rich's murder.
So why did Assange feel compelled to tease the fakery of the Seth Rich story, much to the sorrow of Rich's family? For years, Assange's mantra has been that he never talks about sources.
Why break that rule now? Just to hide the Russian hand? In 2017, our executive producer, Lowell Bergman, visited Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
But Assange refused to answer any questions related to Rich or Russia.
With so many chaos agents trying to mess with the Clinton campaign it was probably inevitable that the trolls, military hackers, WikiLeaks, and Trumpland, would start to converge.
From March to November, Trump talked 39 times to his longtime booster, Roger Stone, who exchanged messages with Julian Assange, who was talking to the GRU through Guccifer, whose fake Romanian identity the trolls promoted online, while other Russian trolls fanned the Seth Rich conspiracy to draw attention away from Russia.
It was a three-ring circus of election meddling.
I was attending all these different meetings, and I was like, "Wait a minute.
They're stealing information, and then they're leaking it on WikiLeaks, and then WikiLeaks is pushing this information to certain American news organizations, which are then being used by Russian trolls to push the news to certain American populations of voters.
" But at this point, the Russian focus seemed that it was shifting.
We began to see the intrusions in the electoral systems.
There was a period in which the overwhelming concern was that the objective wasn't just to mess with the information space, but to actually mess with the infrastructure, voting rolls, possibly voter counts, to disrupt the vote on Election Day.
NEIL JENKINS: One of the core pieces of our democracy is being able to go to a ballot box, issue your ballot in secret, with privacy, and then ensure that it gets counted.
We have lots of things in place to make sure that that happens and can be confidential, and you can be assured of your vote.
Once we start looking at ways to use the internet to do that, you start introducing all of these question marks.
We heard about the problems that they were having in Illinois with their voter registration database.
We started hearing about the problems they were having in Arizona.
REPORTER: The hacking attempt on Arizona's voter database started in rural Gila County, when an elections worker opened an email attachment.
Arizona, Illinois, Florida, and nearly two dozen other states have seen similar scanning, probing, or breaches of their election systems.
So, at the time, I started to reach out to folks, talking to FBI, talking to the Intelligence Community.
It became this cross-agency working group.
MICHAEL DANIEL: We met almost every week to discuss what intrusions we were seeing.
One of the things that the GRU hackers very quickly realized, looking into how the electoral system in the United States works, is that the federal government has very little to do with it.
Elections are primarily a state and local matter.
An adversary from a foreign country actively probing state-level systems, that was a new thing.
But we began to realize that to change the votes in an election, that's actually really, really, really hard.
You need to pick the places where the votes are going to be close, you have to gain access to those voting machines, and you have to change just enough votes to change the outcome, but not so many votes that people actually think it's weird.
Possible, but it starts to read like a Dan Brown novel.
I mean, it's not a very likely scenario.
-Da Vinci.
-The more likely scenarios that would be pursued would be things that would undermine the integrity of the electoral infrastructure as a whole.
A much easier scenario is to say, "Well, what if we penetrated a voter registration database?" That's available online because the whole point of it is for people to be able to register to vote online.
So, one of the scenarios we began looking at was what if you just corrupted some of the data in a voter registration database? And, therefore, when people showed up on Election Day, they wouldn't actually be able to vote.
I mean, it was astonishing how easy it was to hack into their systems.
(LAUGHING) It's like they needed to be briefed on proper cyber hygiene.
It shouldn't be that easy.
JAVIER: How big was the scope of the Russian effort? Was it just Illinois and Arizona? I mean, what-- Yeah.
Uh, the number question.
We had technical data supporting reconnaissance on a very large number of states.
We had to assume that they had at least, if you will, sort of rattled the doorknobs on every single state.
ALEX: To the White House, it looked like Russia was trying to hack the whole voting system.
And investigations concluded after the election revealed they were right.
But many state election officials responsible for administering the vote had a very strict definition of hacking.
This whole national issue of the potential "hacking" of the election, which, frankly, we've had to kind of debunk.
You vote on a machine.
That machine is not connected to the internet.
ALEX: This election official didn't get the memo, you don't need to be connected to the internet to be hacked.
It all depends upon what your definition of "hacking" is.
If you're looking for proof that one vote was changed in Missouri, then you can say, "We weren't hacked.
" But it's not actually that simple.
It's better to think about it in terms of a neighborhood burglary metaphor.
Imagine you have a neighborhood with 50 homes.
If hackers penetrated the perimeter of the neighborhood and left theft tools behind we've been hacked, haven't we? That's how I define hacking.
If the burglar got into the fence line in 20 homes, have you been hacked? Do you feel economically violated? If the burglar breached not only the fence line, but opened the front door in seven homes in this neighborhood of 50 have you been hacked? I say you've been hacked.
And then, if Illinois is the example, 'cause they're the only state at the time that admitted it if not only did the hackers breach the perimeter of the neighborhood, got through the fence line, got into the house, opened the door, went into the safe deposit box, and put their hands on the jewelry Now we agree that's a hack, right? -JAVIER: Right.
-Apparently, we don't.
(LAUGHS) DANIEL: This was not just a standard set of espionage.
And we were concerned about what they were trying to do to the electoral infrastructure.
So, at that point, we said, "We need to do something to blunt the effectiveness of what they're trying to do.
" NULAND: By August, there was significant concern in the Intelligence Community, in the Department of Homeland Security, and in the White House.
So a decision was made by the president that he would privately, but very firmly, warn Putin that any effort to tamper with the election would be faced with very severe consequences for Russia.
ALEX: According to national security officials, Obama told Putin that if he changed votes, the US would destroy Russia's economy.
It was a bold threat, but warning Putin in private was as far as Obama would go.
WALLANDER: The view was, "Hillary's probably gonna win, and if we do something to raise awareness, we'll be accused of putting our thumb on the scale, and therefore, the Obama administration would delegitimate her legitimate win.
" And so, there was a sense that you go to Congress, you make it bipartisan to warn the American people and make this a credible call to arms to defend American democracy.
Because I was the Democratic leader in the Senate, I was briefed by the CIA often, but this one was different.
It was in August, I got a call from the CIA Director, uh, John Brennan.
And he, um asked me if I would go to a secure line, and I found one at the FBI, and basically what he wanted to relay to me is that Russia was meddling in our elections.
Harry was already very concerned about what the Russians were up to.
But when he heard that the CIA had high confidence that the Russians were doing this, it really made his blood boil.
HARRY REID: I had met with Ryan and McConnell to get them to alert the governors of the respective states that there's something going wrong with our election process, and McConnell and Ryan refused to do that.
They didn't want to alert anyone that Russians were involved in this.
They said that if we mentioned a specific country, they wouldn't go along with it.
I felt terribly disappointed uh that they refused to go along with something that I thought was so factual.
INTERVIEWER: But why not? Did you ask them why not? What-- What's your reluctance? Well, they didn't want to do it.
They thought it was partisan.
That's what they said.
SNYDER: In September 2016, McConnell puts himself on the side of the Russian intervention.
He makes it harder for American government institutions to explain to the American public what is happening and to act accordingly.
This was an attack on American sovereignty.
And the moment that you say, "I only care who it's helping," is the moment when you're saying you don't care about American sovereignty.
The Republicans should not have betrayed their country by saying that it's fine for Russia to intervene so long as they intervene on the side of our guy.
But, regardless of what the Republicans were gonna do, the Obama people should have done much more.
What is Homeland Security doing to protect the American election from foreign interference? We're in the mode now of wanting to leave no stone unturned.
So, at the time, Secretary Jeh Johnson was running DHS.
We had a plan in place to work with state and local election officials to make sure that voting infrastructure is as secure as possible.
Secretary Johnson talked to election officials in all 50 states.
He introduced who we were and said, "We haven't worked with you all much in the past, but we believe there's a threat to your systems, and we would like to make sure that you know that there are some things that we can do for you.
" But, because of the way classification works, because of the way the Intelligence Community does things, we weren't allowed to say that Russia was the ones doing the election infrastructure hack.
REPORTER: As the campaign entered its final phase, the Homeland Security Department offered states federal resources to secure voting machines and voter registration databases.
Georgia's Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, was among a small group who declined the help.
I think the states are better suited, uh, to react more quickly to these types of things.
I think we do have the ability to do that, and it's our duty to do that under the Constitution.
DANIEL: As we have seen before, the initial engagement between the states and the federal government is not always positive.
REPORTER: According to this letter from Kemp to the Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, there was an attempted breach of the Georgia Secretary of State's network, linked to a computer with a Homeland Security address.
ALEX: Kemp didn't just turn down help from the federal government, he publicly accused Homeland Security of hacking into the state system.
We're mad as hell.
It's outrageous to think about our own federal government doing this to us.
ALEX: The hack turned out to be nothing more than an employee from Homeland Security looking up info from the state website.
Investigators have concluded the Department did not scan the Georgia's Secretary of State's network.
The incident was a false positive.
ALEX: Even though he was in touch with Homeland Security about federal efforts to help secure Georgia's voting system, Kemp turned the lie into a classic tale about federal overreach and states' rights.
(GUN COCKS) We're gonna get along just fine.
JENKINS: Some state election officials thought that this was some sort of takeover.
For us, that kind of thing was maddening.
We weren't coming at it from a political perspective.
We saw a security threat, we wanted to do whatever we could to help shore up that security threat.
Some states never ended up working with us.
Um, some really wanted the help.
JAVIER: So, I mean, if people had known Russia was messing with the election, if you'd been able to communicate that, do you think it would've helped? It's something that I have struggled with for a long time, like, thinking through that scenario if we could have talked about that.
And part of me wants to say that if the federal government comes to you specifically and says, "Hey, we know something.
And we would really like it if you would look at your systems and make sure they are as secure as possible," that, in my mind, at the time, should have been enough.
ALEX: Maybe, but what harm would have been caused by being honest about the source of the hacks? What good is intelligence if you can't ever disclose it? WALLANDER: The norms within the cyber intelligence community are very strongly against releasing information, and there was a resistance for fear of exposing sources and methods that could implicate the ability of that cyber community to keep Americans safe.
And their instinct was to remain quiet and not expose what they know.
JENKINS: The closest thing we ever really got, in the lead-up to the election, was the public release from Secretary Johnson, saying that the DNC leaks were associated with the Russian government.
And in that same document, we talked about, that Russia was the ones trying to hack into election infrastructure.
And the week leading up got the notice that the statement was gonna come out on Friday afternoon.
It was a big day.
ISIKOFF: October 7th, This was one giant clusterfuck of a day (LAUGHING) in which a lot of shit happened.
Can you say that on HBO? ALEX: You can, okay.
That's true.
It's encouraged.
Well, there you go.
(LAUGHS) (THUNDER RUMBLING) REPORTER: That water is gonna rise rather rapidly, and so folks might look out one minute and see the water is where they always like to see it, and two minutes later, it may be in their house.
So, the next four or five hours, very critical here.
ISIKOFF: It starts with the-- Hurricane Matthew, in Florida.
This wind, this intense wind that you can just feel pushing up against your back.
ISIKOFF: Hillary Clinton asks for a briefing from Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security.
Johnson figures, "Well, if I'm gonna give Hillary a briefing, I gotta give Trump a briefing.
" So he calls Trump early that morning, October 7th, and Trump couldn't have been friendlier.
"Hey Jeh! How's it going?" You know, "What's going on? Hey, what are you gonna be doing after this is over?" 'Cause Johnson only had a few more months as Homeland Security.
And he said, "Well, I'll probably be going back to my law office in New York.
" And Trump says, "Well, you'll have to come by and see me at Trump Tower, we'll have lunch!" And Johnson says, "You know, there are some scenarios, Mr.
Trump, where you might be someplace other than Trump Tower.
" (LAUGHS) "You're running for President.
" And Trump says, "Oh yeah, right!" It was almost like an afterthought, which gives you some insight into what Trump thought he was up to.
October 7th was the pivotal day in the election campaign.
The 17 intelligence agencies, including Homeland Security, said they were unanimous that Russia was hacking our election.
Will there be any consequences for this action of publicly naming and shaming Russia? US intelligence officials say that when you catch someone red-handed, that those countries often pull back.
Remains to be seen if that will be the case with Russia.
WALLANDER: When I saw the statement, I was actually surprised how forward-leaning it was.
I don't mean the confidence level, I mean being that explicit in public.
I was glad that we were brave enough to come out and say that.
And it was like a kind of "wow, we got that one done!" day.
It's not every day you work in the US government that you go home at the end of the day thinking, "Yeah! We did something really good that'll make a difference!" You know? And that was one of those days.
And then I got home, and my husband's like, "Did you see the news?" And I was like, "Yeah! Did you see the news?" He said, "Yeah.
" The Trump campaign is in full damage control mode following a troubling story broken by the Washington Post today.
Hours ago, the Post publishing a report along with video of Mr.
Trump and NBC's Billy Bush discussing women in what can only be described as vulgar and lewd terms.
I was, um, sitting in a brewery with my family, um Got the notice that the statement was gonna come out.
I get the next alert on my phone about the Access Hollywood tape.
(BILLY BUSH LAUGHS) JENKINS: We knew, right off the bat Hello, how are you? our story just got buried by that.
I was very apprehensive about sneaking away to California to go have fun in the desert for a weekend in the last month of the presidential campaign.
The pussy tape breaks and, um Hallelujah! Now I can relax.
So we sat around laughing and drinking beer and watching the Trump campaign meltdown.
This race is over.
(INDISTINCT SINGING) SIMPSON: Bob Dylan was fantastic, and, um, we were hanging out, and I made the mistake of looking at my phone.
REPORTER: WikiLeaks has posted thousands of emails hacked from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, and they SIMPSON: It was exploding with WikiLeaks dumping the Podesta emails.
gets to the heart of people's concerns about Hillary Clinton.
I want to take a You know, things went, uh, tits up at that point.
So, you know, ruined my weekend.
Not unless you mail them ♪ I had to get back to Washington.
Desolation Row ♪ Because of the size of the scandal of the Access Hollywood thing, I did not think that there was any way that anything else could, you know, overtake that.
JENKINS: Lo and behold, it-- I mean, it did.
I thought the timing of that sure did look funny.
ALEX: WikiLeaks announced its dump of the Podesta emails twenty-nine minutes after the announcement of the Access Hollywood tape.
Russian intelligence had stolen the Podesta emails in March and may have sent them to WikiLeaks in August.
Yet WikiLeaks waited to release until October 7th.
It happened to be Putin's birthday.
REPORTER 1: The Trump campaign put out a statement.
"This was locker room banter.
Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course" REPORTER 2: Newly released stolen emails show -wave of the stolen campaign emails -She says one thing to one group, she says another to a different group.
BENKLER: There was a big spike in coverage of Access Hollywood and the Podesta email dump.
But that's ultimately overshadowed completely by the Comey announcement, reopening the Clinton email investigation.
In July, we had closed the Hillary Clinton email case.
But, in October, in a completely unrelated case, the New York field office seized a computer owned by Anthony Weiner, which was also used by his wife, Huma Abedin, who worked as a staffer to Secretary Clinton.
There were emails in there that looked like they were from the domain that was at the center of the Clinton investigation.
The team at headquarters and the team in New York started figuring out how we could make sure that we weren't just looking at duplicates of material we'd already seen.
I felt very strongly that we should know what we had before we made any sort of notification to Congress, or to the public, or to anyone else, that we were, once again, looking at emails associated with Hillary Clinton.
Um, that was not the course that Jim picked, um, and he made the decision that weekend to notify Congress that we were reopening the case.
And, uh, the rest, as they say, is history.
All right, we have breaking news.
The FBI is reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton's email.
REPORTER 1: Comey wrote, "The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent to the investigation.
" REPORTER 2: It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election.
REPORTER 3: The news was certainly significant to Donald Trump.
Stupidity is not a reason that you're going to be innocent.
-Okay? It's not a reason.
-(CROWD LAUGHS) (CHEERING AND APPLAUDING) After a few days of our technical folks grinding through emails on that laptop, they quickly determined that there wasn't anything in there that we hadn't already seen.
And so it didn't affect our conclusions in the Clinton case in any way.
Had we done that work before we notified Congress or the world, we likely would have avoided creating an incredibly challenging situation.
There is no question the new exposure is hurting Hillary Clinton.
A new ABC News poll says 34 percent of Americans are now less likely to vote for her.
Clinton is not happy.
ALEX: Comey's reopening the Clinton email investigation reflected an assumption about the election campaign.
Everyone thought Hillary would win.
That's why Obama was reticent to push back against Russia.
That's why the media focused so intensely on Hillary's emails.
That's what led Comey to break two FBI rules: don't comment on ongoing investigations, and don't make announcements just before an election that could impact the outcome.
(CAMERAS CLICKING) ALEX: And by raising the specter of more Democratic emails, Comey also re-energized paranoia about election rigging.
AD NARRATOR: In Hillary Clinton's America, the system stays rigged against Americans.
-(APPLAUSE) -I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders! He never had a chance.
-Never had a chance.
-(CROWD CHEERS) ALEX: Trump had been singing this tune for months to appeal to disaffected Bernie voters -(PHONE NOTIFICATION WHISTLES) -even before the Russian email hacks were published.
We're in a rigged system, folks.
We're in a rigged system.
And I'm telling you, November 8th, we better be careful because that election's gonna be rigged ALEX: Late in the campaign, when Russian intelligence dumped the stolen Podesta emails, Trump turned the volume up to 11.
MODERATOR: There is a tradition in this country-- In fact, one of the prides of this country is the peaceful transition of power, in part for the good of the country.
Are you saying you're not prepared now -to commit to that principle? -What I am saying is that I will tell you at the time.
I'll keep you in suspense.
REPORTER 1: He's laying down the story, should he lose, why it was.
REPORTER 2: Oh, absolutely.
There's always the plan B.
REPORTER 3: Is this a pattern with Mr.
Trump? If he starts losing, he starts lashing out and calling the system rigged? It-- There was even a time when he didn't get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row, and he started tweeting that the Emmys -were rigged against him.
-Should've gotten it.
-This-- This is a mindset.
-(MODERATOR LAUGHS) TRUMP: The system is totally rigged and broken.
First, the issue of voter fraud.
ALEX: On social media, Russian trolls harmonized with the Trump chorus, "Voter Fraud.
" "Rigged Election.
" They were amping up their game and deciding that they couldn't lose, no matter who won the election, if they discredited the process.
Despite the entirely baseless nature of Trump's claims, they are gaining significant traction.
Forty-one percent of voters say the election could be stolen from Trump, including 73 percent of Republicans who think the election could be swiped from him.
Hillary needs to be taken out, um If she gets into government, I'll do everything in my power to take her out of power, which-- If I have to be a patriot, I will.
TRUMP: I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States AUDIENCE MEMBER: Whoo! that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election (QUIET CHEERING) if I win.
Beyond the big doors behind me, this is Fire Station 69, one of 854 polling precincts that are now open in Miami-Dade County.
JENKINS: In the lead up to the election our focus was almost entirely on election infrastructure issues.
We were not necessarily aware of the extent of the interference piece using social media until well after the election.
We do wanna win.
-(PHONE CHIMES) -ALEX: On Election Day, of the thousands of messages pushing the VoterFraud hashtag, virtually everyone supported Trump.
The Twitter handle TENGOP had been a passionate supporter of Trump throughout the campaign, gathering over 100,000 followers.
The account appeared to be associated with the Republican Party in Tennessee.
On Election Day, TENGOP tweeted 47 times.
Later, TENGOP was revealed to be among the thousands of accounts controlled from the troll farm in St.
The main elements of the operation, the ones that worked, were the disinformation and the hacked information pushing that towards particular sets of American voters to suppress the vote for Hillary Clinton.
FEMALE VOTER: I think it was a very dirty campaign.
I think, um, the media was, like, very involved, um Clearly the candidates were not well liked.
So I'll be glad when it's over.
REPORTER: How confident is team Clinton? KASIE HUNT: They are preparing two versions of her speech.
With that said, I think it would come as a real shock to this campaign if she ended up delivering that concession speech.
(CROWD CHEERING) ALEX: And even-- even the Russians probably concluded that Hillary Clinton was gonna win.
The evidence is that they really expected her to win.
(SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN) But it doesn't matter.
They had a disruption operation planned.
(SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN) People are always looking for the strategy of how Putin's Kremlin operates.
Like they're gonna do this one thing, and everything is to this one thing.
That fundamentally misunderstands a Russian operation.
They seed multiple elements and then they go with what works.
With the election operation the one that ended up working was the social media operation, not necessarily hacking.
People are misattributing the lack of action.
They didn't need to do anything.
ALEX: Didn't need to because Trump won? They were poised to do it.
They were in the systems.
They could've done it.
They didn't need to.
ALEX: What could-- What could they have done after? They could have screwed up the ability of systems to report the vote.
They could have disappeared things from the computer systems.
ALEX: Presumably, in order to be able to To raise doubts.
They could have disrupted systems to undermine confidence in the reported results.
Combined with a campaign claiming that there would be falsification that misinformation would have fallen on fertile ground.
REPORTER 1: It's been a long day of voting all across this country.
REPORTER 2: Donald Trump has won the state of Florida, one of his must-win states right there.
REPORTER 3: has won the state of Wisconsin.
(CROWD CHEERING, APPLAUDING) REPORTER 4: You see the states out there.
For Hillary Clinton to win, she basically has to run the table.
Right now, Donald Trump is ahead.
I think Vladimir Putin's probably very excited right now, and I think other world leaders are a little fearful.
ALEX: Trump himself had an oddly quizzical look on his face, like a man weighing his options.
He knew what most voters didn't his deal for the Moscow Trump Tower was still on the table.
Even if he lost, he would make a fortune.
And if he won, well, president was still a good fallback plan.
SNYDER: If you're an American, you've spent most of the 21st century forgetting that there is a rest of the world, and so, when the rest of the world comes, it doesn't just knock on your door, but it breaks down your door and takes all of your goodies and then leaves with a smirk.
You'd really prefer not to believe it.
And in that move, Putin takes democracy itself, and he says, "Look, I'm showing you this is all a joke, the American system is just hypocrisy.
" REPORTER 1: No other network is calling it right now, but the Associated Press just tweeted out that they are declaring Donald Trump the winner of this election.
REPORTER 2: This means that Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States, winning the most unreal -(REPORTERS LAUGHING) -surreal election we have ever seen.
Thank you very much.
("YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GE WHAT YOU WANT" BY THE ROLLING STONES PLAYING) ♪ You can't always get What you want ♪ ALEX: I always wondered why Trump picked the Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want" to play at his rallies.
But looking back, it made a crazy kind of sense.
You can't always get What you want ♪ He wasn't talking to himself.
He was talking to us.
Trump knew he wasn't what we wanted.
You get what you need ♪ But he was certain he could deliver what he thought we needed, a wrecking ball.
And who better to tear down our failing institutions than the man who had made his fortune repeating a simple line on TV, "You're fired.
" (IN RUSSIAN) Part of my job at the NSC was to watch Russian news.
(GROANS) It was not the fun part of the job.
Um So we were watching, you know, the Russian reaction, and they looked surprised, and there were toasts and celebrations.
It was like New Year's Eve.
I-- I think they were very surprised.
It was pretty sophisticated for a bunch of Russians who don't actually understand us and who think the American political system basically functions the same way as the Russian one does.
(SPEAKING IN RUSSIAN) If they were getting direction and suggestions from people in the Trump orbit about how to target social media, which platforms to use, what kind of information would make a difference they had some good advice.
ALEX: When news broke about the scale of the Russian social media operation, Twitter began to shut down the Russian troll accounts, including TENGOP.
Before disappearing, the trolls had a final exchange with the man they had worked so hard to put in the Oval Office.
HICKTON: No one will ever know whether they were following their pattern to disrupt or whether they had a specific strategy to elect Trump.
They could just make the public lose faith in the process, make the public like the winner less.
I think they were surprised at how far they got.
(CHUCKLES) In 2016, our sovereignty was violated by a foreign power, which found a way to substantially interfere in our democratic process.
We faced an attack of a new kind.
It's disheartening and, on a historical scale, scandalous, that we have failed to respond to this attack.
(CAR HORNS HONKING) Some of the lessons of 2016 are going to take decades or generations to solve.
ALEX: Years after the election, it feels like we have barely started to learn those lessons.
One reason for that is we got caught up following sexier stories, like the idea that Trump was a Manchurian candidate.
And we lost track of the reams of evidence showing that we had been attacked and needed to defend ourselves.
ALEX: Did you yourself buy parts of the Steele dossier narrative back then that-- that, uh, you don't buy now? So, you know, obviously I had the experience with the Carter Page story.
It raised questions if-- as to whether everything that Steele was saying was on the money.
And with the Mueller report, it became clear to me that when it came to the sensational allegations in the dossier, there just wasn't evidence to support it.
And the facts were damning enough on their face.
People wanted an even sexier narrative, and the Steele dossier provided that narrative.
On the other hand, Steele was a serious guy.
I don't think he was making shit up.
REPORTER 1: The President tweeted "Wow.
Dossier is bogus.
Clinton campaign, DNC funded Dossier.
FBI Tainted.
" REPORTER 2: Just last week, FBI Director James Comey saying that it makes him, quote, "Mildly nauseous" that he might have affected the outcome of the election.
Well, tonight, that FBI director has now been fired.
The irony of this whole false narrative of, you know, the-- the FBI deep state trying to submarine the President or overturn the election of Donald Trump, I mean-- I mean, honestly, there's no organization in DC that, uh that had more of an impact on helping Donald Trump get elected than the FBI.
That was not intentional, but the facts are what they are, and, uh, I think that's what history will show.
REPORTER: We now have the letter from the Attorney General sent to Capitol Hill notifying them, officially, that Special Counsel Robert S.
Mueller III has concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
So we may know a lot more very soon than we know ALEX: The Mueller report wasn't available to the public.
Not yet.
By law, Mueller and his team first had to submit their work to Trump's Attorney General, William Barr, who'd been on the job for about six weeks.
Before anyone had a chance to read the report itself, Barr wrote his own summary and went on TV to tell us what he thought we needed to know.
After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election, but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts.
ALEX: When the Mueller report was first presented by Barr, did you feel that was a fair characterization? Uh, I'm not gonna answer that.
I mean, and that's one where I do know the answer.
JAVIER: Do you suspect that Trump, or people around him, I mean that they-- they are-- I mean, traitors? Is that too strong a word? I think that cooperating with, uh, the Russian government to undermine American democracy and win the election is treason.
If foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on an opponent, should they accept it, or should they call the FBI? I think maybe you do both.
I think you might wanna listen.
I don't-- There's nothing wrong with listening.
If somebody called from a country, Norway, "We have information on your opponent.
" Oh, I think I'd want to hear it.
ALEX: Two weeks later, Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, the man who would run against Trump in 2020.
Trump also asked for help advancing the story that Russia had not helped him win in 2016.
And that was just a lie.
SNYDER: Now, the main political fault line is not right and left.
The main political fault line is true or false.
These are dueling ideals.
Those are different ways of doing politics.
If you want to have the rule of law, you have to have facts, because you can't have law without facts.
You can read Russia's intervention in our elections in 2016 as "them" against "us.
" (CHANTING IN RUSSIAN) (SHOUTING) SNYDER: But you can also look at Russia and say, "Aha, that's where we might be going.
" (SHOUTING IN RUSSIAN) Hands up! Don't shoot! Hands up! Don't shoot! When we look at Russia's intervention, maybe it worked because we're a little bit more like them than we think we are.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: (IN RUSSIAN) ("AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL" ACOUSTIC RENDITION PLAYING) ♪ Oh, beautiful For spacious skies ♪ TRUMP: We're very, very, ready for this.
For amber waves of grain ♪ TRUMP: Going to be pretty soon at only five people.
For purple mountain ♪ I saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
(CHANTING) Black lives matter! -Black lives matter! -Above the fruited plain ♪ TRUMP: This is a movement.
If you don't dominate, you'll look like a bunch of jerks.
America ♪ -(POLICE SIREN WAILING) -(PROTESTERS SCREAMING) -(EXPLOSION, CRACKLING) -God shed His grace On thee ♪ REPORTER 1: Who are they aiming that at? REPORTER 2: At us! -PROTESTOR: Hands up! -CROWD: Don't shoot! -Hands up! -Don't shoot! -Hands up! -Don't shoot! -(GUNSHOT) -(CROWD SCREAMS) -Shining sea ♪ -(WOMAN SHOUTING) ALEX: How strong is our democracy? Are the protests across the nation a sign of the end of the American experiment, or a demand that we finally live up to the ideals we profess to believe in? You are so lucky I'm president.
That's all I can tell you.
ALEX: The Russian attack on our elections in 2016 was meant to mock those ideals by making us look at ourselves in a funhouse mirror.
We're still vulnerable to the manufacture of lies and the machinery of outrage.
But unlike Russia, we still get to make a real choice on ballots that are fairly counted.
Yet, in elections to come, the way we choose our candidates begs the question: just how much does the truth matter? And in a popular democracy, what's more important, how we play the game, or winning at any cost? OFFICER: (SHOUTING) Move! -Push him down! -Oh, America ♪ MAN: He's bleeding out of his ear! America ♪ God shed His grace on thee ♪ And crown thy good ♪ ALEX: It turns out that our national security isn't just about our enemies.
It's also about us.
National security starts at home, with our own resilience, our own politics, and the honor of our leaders.
The more we fail to live up to our principles, the more vulnerable we are to the next attack.
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