CHRIS HAYES (HOST): What is sort of remarkable, honestly, is that in most cases, Trump actually has kind of a fine-tuned antenna for just how close he can get to the line without crossing into outright easily provable crimes. That has saved him many times before. But this time, it appears that he stepped right over that line, the crystal clear line that his lawyers told him were there. And to understand why that finally happened, you have to look at who he's actually listening to. Because he was ignoring his highly qualified White House lawyers, Pat Philbin, Pat Cipollone, Eric Herschmann. Instead, he was reportedly taking the advice of this guy.
So that's a guy named Tom Fitton. He's like a second, third tier conservative activist. Head of the right-wing group, Judicial Watch. They've been around for forever. A somewhat ludicrous figure honestly. I put him in the, like, Ginni Thomas category of the American right. Imagine a more senior James O'Keefe on steroids.
Now, I should note here, Tom Fitton is not a lawyer. He's just a dude with some big money right-wing donors, I guess. But he's been giving Donald Trump a lot of legal advice that the ex-president is actually listening to. Since as early as February, Fitton has reportedly been calling Trump, telling him it was a mistake to give the records from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives, that his team should have never let the Archives quote, "strong-arm" him into returning them. Fitton said the records belonged to Trump, citing a 2012 court case involving his organization that he said gave the former president authority to do what he wanted with records from his own term in office. He suggested to Trump that if the Archives came back, he should not give up any additional records. Trump, quote, "began obsessing over Fitton's arguments, complaining to aides about the 15 boxes that were handed over" and "even asked Fitton at one point to brief his attorneys." I'm sure that they loved that one. As one person close to the ex-president put it, quote, "The moment Tom got in the boss' ear, it was downhill from there." You know, it's like the Overstock guy or the Pillow guy.
So Tom Fitton, professional right-wing scandal monger, appears to have facilitated the kind of black and white commission of an easily provable crime that Donald Trump on his own had so far managed to avoid. It's really an amazing feat, of all people, it's Tom Fitton who ended up putting Donald Trump in arguably the most acute legal peril he has ever been in. Well played.