Manafort sentenced to another 3.5 years. TRANSCRIPT: 03/13/2019, All In w. Chris Hayes.
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: March 13, 2019
Guest: Ilya Marritz, Richard Blumenthal, Natasha Bertrand, Harry Litman,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Well, let`s appreciate the good sense
grounding the 737 Max 8 makes sense and in good humanity even if both are
too often absent from today`s presidency. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks
for being with us. “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you pardon Paul Manafort?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have not even given it a
thought as of this moment. It`s not something that`s right now in my mind.
I do feel badly for Paul Manafort.
HAYES: The President`s campaign manager gets another three and a half
years in prison and a new indictment against him in New York that would
thwart any potential pardon.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Pardoning Manafort would be the -
- would be seen as a political disaster for the president.
HAYES: Tonight, the new charges against Paul Manafort and new evidence of
pardon dangling behind the scene.
KEVIN DOWNING, LAWYER OF PAUL MANAFORT: Two courts have ruled no evidence
of any collusion with any Russian.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liar! That`s not what she said!
HAYES: Then, new suggestion that Trump might have tried to interfere in a
case that directly implicates him.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Mr.
Whitaker did not deny that the president called in to discuss Michael Cohen
– the Michael Cohen case and personnel decisions in the southern district.
HAYES: Plus, the efforts in the Senate to rein in the President on Yemen
and the border. And a look at some of the less covered hearings on Capitol
Hill when ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. The President`s
Campaign Manager who passed polling data to a suspected Russian agent in a
Manhattan cigar bar at the height of the presidential race just got another
three and a half years added to his federal sentence. And then just
moments later another 16 state charges slapped on top of that.
Paul Manafort was back in court in Washington D.C. this morning to be
sentenced for the second time in a week this time for two counts of
conspiracy to which he pleaded guilty last fall. Judge Amy Berman Jackson
sentenced Manafort to another 43 months in prison for those two counts
bringing his total sentence to seven and a half years.
Unlike the judge in Manafort`s Virginia trial who praised what he called
Manafort`s “otherwise blameless life,” Judge Jackson rebuked Manafort for
the magnitude of his crimes, for his lies to investigators ,in violation of
his plea deal and for his apparent lack of remorse, saying I`m sorry I got
caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency.
She also called out Manafort`s legal team for repeatedly hammering on the
same irrelevant message. “The no collusion refrain that runs through the
entire defense memorandum is unrelated to matters at hand she said. The no
collusion mantra is simply a non sequitur. The no-collusion mantra is also
not accurate because the investigation is still ongoing.
In fact, the proceedings in judge Jackson`s court actually turned up
evidence of collusion including that meeting in August 2016 in the height
of the campaign where Manafort carves some time out to give polling data,
why, to Konstantin Kilimnik Constantine Clinic his Russian-Ukrainian
Nevertheless, even after the judges rebuke, Manafort`s lawyer went outside
to make a public statement for an audience of one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOWNING: Judge Jackson conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of
any Russian collusion in this case. So that makes two courts – two courts
have ruled no evidence of any collusion with any Russian.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liar! That`s not what she said!
DOWNING: Part number two. Very sad –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not what she said!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The hecklers have it absolutely right. Downing is lying. He is
lying right there in front of the camera. That`s not what the judge said.
She explicitly said that`s wasn`t what she`s saying before Downing walked
out to tell the cameras that lie on camera.
But if Manafort`s lawyer hoped to repeating the no collusion refrain might
help get his client a pardon, it was already too late before the words left
his mouth because moments earlier right after the judge handed down her
sentence in that D.C. federal court, before the lawyers even got to exit
the courthouse and talk to the audience of one, the Manhattan district
attorney announced that a grand jury had indicted Manafort on 16 criminal
counts related to an alleged mortgage fraud scheme.
Now, those are state charges so if Manafort is found guilty, the President
cannot pardon him. Well, the President claims the idea hasn`t even crossed
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you pardon Paul Manafort?
TRUMP: I have not even given a thought as of this moment. It`s not
something that`s right now in my mind. I do feel badly for Paul Manafort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Manhattan district attorney filed state charges
against him which would seem to be a way to get around the effect of any
pardon that might –
TRUMP: I don`t know anything about it. I haven`t heard that. I`ll take a
look at it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: For the latest on these new charges I`m joined by NBC News
Investigative Reporter Tom Winter and Ilya Marritz Reporter for WNYC here
in New York who I should note broke the story of Paul Manafort`s puzzling
New York real estate purchases way back in March 2017 that have now become
at the center of some of these criminal charges.
Tom, I will start with you. Did you know – so we got the – we got that
we got the sentencing, what was the timing? The sentencing happens and
then Cy Vance, the Manhattan D.A. makes his move.
TOM WINTER, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: So I went back and looked at
this. It was 29 minutes between we got the note from one of our courthouse
reporters Gary Grumbach saying that the judge had announced the sentence
for Paul Manafort. And then 29 minutes later we received a notice that
this indictment had been unsealed in Manhattan District Court.
So essentially with less than a half hour afterwards, it became public that
there was an indictment against Paul Manafort. So this happened really,
really quickly afterwards.
HAYES: You know, the charges here center on you know, there was a note
that the Cy Vance charges, the Manhattan District Attorney charges, the
investigation starts right after you publish a piece about what?
ILYA MARRITZ, REPORTER, WNYC: Right. So I and my co-reporter Andrea
Bernstein had been interested in Paul Manafort`s New York real estate
purchases. We realized that he owned apartment 43G in Trump Tower and we
started looking around to see what else he had bought.
And we found both in this unit in Laura Manhattan but also in Brooklyn, you
have this unusual pattern of buying property through LLC`s, through shell
companies, then transferring it to his name and then taking out really
large loans like larger than the value of the property seemingly.
We couldn`t make sense of it. We talked to a lot of experts who said yes,
it could be money laundering and just ran with that story and lo and behold
it has taken us to this day.
HAYES: And that – I just want to be clear here, because one of the
stories of Paul Manafort is that he was doing everything out in the open
for a long time that you didn`t have some tip from anyone. There was no –
you didn`t get your hands on private e-mails. This was just in the public
record of what his purchases.
MARRITZ: Yes. You have to know how to search you know, city databases and
read those records and read through mortgage records, but it`s not rocket
science. What was puzzling was when we got there and it just sort of
didn`t make sense.
What we heard from some people was you know, rich people, they do did
things differently from the rest of us. Maybe it`s legal. That wasn`t
really satisfying and it turns out that – it turns out what he was trying
to do is he`d fallen on hard times in that period and was trying to extract
value from these properties that he bought with ill-gotten gains from
WINTER: Well, I mean, it goes beyond that. Not only was he trying to do
it but at the same time he was renting out this particular address in Soho
which is – which is mentioned in today`s indictment. He was renting it
out but then realized that somebody was going to call him on it that it was
actually a residence and that he wasn`t getting any sort of rental income,
so he told his son-in-law hey, you guys need to stay there and by the way,
somebody is going to come by and appraisers is going to come by. Make sure
to tell them that you live there. And that`s what he`s charged with today.
And one of the reasons why we can say this so definitively is that a lot of
what is in this, the facts that are within today`s indictment, the state
indictment in Manhattan, he`s already admitted guilty or pleaded guilty to
in his federal cases, the cases brought by the special counsel`s office,
and faces here – have convicted of the top-level offense, kind of the
overarching offense, 8 1/3 to 25 years in jail in Manhattan.
So if the president were to right now tweet and put out a note and say Paul
Manafort is pardoned. He should get out of jail this moment. At that
moment an arrest warrant we`re told by people that are familiar with this
you know, with the legal process, legal experts that just know how this
works say at that point that arrest warrant would be issued. He would be
taken into custody in the and he would proceed forward with the state trial
like anybody else would be charged by the Manhattan District Attorney`s
HAYES: And what you`re saying is that all – I mean he – you know,
remember that weird – the weird secrets he goes in Eastern District where
he`s convicted on a bunch of the counts not all of them. He then is
awaiting a second trial. He then pleas but he cops to the stuff that he`s
– the first trial –
WINTER: The grand jury on the first trial, yes.
HAYES: So he cops all of it.
WINTER: So he`s in for everything.
HAYES: And what you`re saying is all of that is admissible.
WINTER: It`s totally admissible. I mean, those are public statements.
HAYES: So, he`s –
WINTER: He`s going to sign an agreement. There is no way – I mean this
is a dream for a prosecutor. He`d say, oh, this guy`s already admitted to
this entire fact pattern before I even bring him into court.
And on top of that, to the point that you were making before, all of this
is – I mean if you knew New York City real estate databases, we took it a
step further and looked at his Long Island property in some loans and this
came up a trial involving a Chicago banker, hoping to get a job in the
Trump administration. There was a potential quid pro quo there.
I mean, all this was just out in the open and you could ask them about it
and there were no good answers that we received as far as why this was the
way that it wasn`t. They pleaded guilty to all of it.
HAYES: And this relates a bit to the difference between what Judge Ellis
said about the man otherwise blameless life, you know. You kind of caught
your – you ended up here. I don`t know why. Judge Berman Jackson
basically saying, look, you`re kind of – you know you sort been a scam
MARRITZ: I mean, clearly, it`s all – it`s all laid out right here. I
mean, you can read it. It`s a good read. It`s clear that this guy worked
for an autocrat in Eastern Europe, found a way to bring the money in
through shell companies, spent lavishly on himself, spent so lavishly that
by the time the autocrat was deposed in 2014 and he was out of a job, he
didn`t really have any money left in any way to access that money.
And what`s fascinating to me rereading this is this is all unfolding during
2016. It`s unfolding immediately before and immediately after the campaign
and some of it during the campaign. The man leading the Republican
nominees campaign is a desperate man.
HAYES: He`s a desperate man who as soon as he gets his job and this is
crucial, he sends an e-mail to Konstantin Kilimnik say does – has Oleg
HAYES: Oleg the Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin. How do we use to
get whole? How do we use to get whole?
WINTER: I mean, this is a guy who had debt issues that were you know, to a
Russian oligarch that you talk about. I mean, he started one of his LLC`s
that were involved in one of these property deals – I`m speaking
specifically to the Hamptons deal – within days after he left the Trump
campaigns. There was already an LLC being formed. So it`s really an
amazing fact pattern.
And I think today when you look at Cy Vance, the Manhattan District
Attorney, they had issued some subpoenas in this case. It was really just
sitting there for the taking. They took the opportunity for it and there`s
going to be – it appears that there`s going to be a trial coming up.
HAYES: Wow, Tom Winter and Ilya Marritz, thank you both.
MARRITZ: Thank you.
HAYES: For more on where things stand for Paul Manafort after today, I`m
driving my Franklin Foer, Staff Writer for the Atlantic who published the
definitive profile of Manafort last year and MSNBC Legal Analyst Jill Wine-
Banks former Watergate prosecutor. I`ll start with you Jill, you`re right
There was a lot of sort of surprise and consternation I think about the
radical downward departure of Judge Ellis in the sentencing guidelines.
This seems much more squarely in the kind of center of the bullseye. Your
reaction to Judge Amy Berman Jackson`s sentence today?
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think that what she did makes a
lot more sense. She acted properly in that holding accountable the
defendant for what the judge did in the other case that`s not appropriate.
She had a sentence him for what he was charged with in her court. And she
did that in a sort of within the range of what is normal for that kind of a
crime and she made it partly consecutive and partly concurrent.
And so it didn`t add as much time as she sentenced him. She actually
sentenced him to 73 months but 30 of it was to be concurrent with his other
sentence. So it seemed like a fair deal but I mean Ilya just mentioned
that rich people do things differently and this certainly does show that
rich people get sentenced differently. But it was also just a really bad
day for rich people, the parents of all those kids, those rich people, that
HAYES: Yes. It`s been – it`s been a crazy news cycle on that front, the
white-collar crime emporium here in the United States of America. Let me -
- let me ask you this, Frank. So we`re at this strange situation right?
This guy now has run a bizarre legal strategy throughout.
He seems to have been banking on a pardon as like a last-ditch effort. The
president never takes it off the table and then boom he has these charges
in Manhattan. What is going through – as someone who studied Franklin
Ford, what do you think is going through his mind right now?
FRANKLIN FOER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: A couple things. One is that
he figures himself a great strategist. And I think he`s always thought of
the trial and his management of the trial in a strategic sort of way. And
so the way that he interacted with the jury, the way that he`s interacting
with the President himself, and I think he looks at the situation and he
says you know, rationally my best hope of getting off this thing probably
at this stage is to play for a pardon.
But I think it`s also important to remember that his strategic thinking is
muddled because he`s a desperate man as Ilya described earlier. I mean his
financial situation is a mess. His whole life has been engaged in this one
long downward spiral beginning with the collapse of Ukrainian President
Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 and the collapse of his main client, his finances
were a Ponzi scheme.
And so I think that you occasionally see him acting like a desperate man
who thinks he`s thinking strategically so he`s willing to throw these Hail
Marys. There`s one other interesting biographical fact which is that his
father was arrested for perjury in 1981 and he was able to get off by kind
of waiting out the system.
And so I think that in Manafort`s mind he has this one example that he`s
able to draw on which is that his father was involved in all sorts of dodgy
things and he was just able to beat the rap.
HAYES: That is the first time that I guess – I think that – what was
that in your profile?
HAYES: It was in your profile. So I read that and knew it at some point
but I`d forgotten it. That is a sort of remarkable North Star to keep in
mind here as we`re trying to make sense of what would otherwise be a kind
of nonsensical flailing.
What do you think from – when you think about the President and this issue
of pardons which again just lurks over all this, when the president – you
know, when Michael Cohen says he talks in code, the president today saying
hasn`t crossed my mind but I feel sorry for the guy. What is that to you?
BANKS: I think that`s code. The code started with his first pardon in
office Sheriff Joe Arpaio for contempt of court. He was saying at that
time don`t ever cooperate. I have your back. Don`t worry I`ll take care
of you. You can lie and you can cheat and you can do anything you want.
I`ll take care of you. That was a clear message and so was today a clear
He`s dangling pardons again and he doesn`t have the power to give pardons
to protect himself. We can say he has unlimited pardon power but not if he
takes a bribe for it, not if he does it to protect himself, not if there`s
corrupt intent. And I`d say he`s demonstrated corrupt intent.
HAYES: Is this the end of the story for Paul Manafort in this is? Is
there another chapter here given that there`s the Manhattan D.A. and what
might ever come next, Frank?
FOER: Well, it might be the end of the story for Paul Manafort. He`s
going to be residing in prison for a spell now. But I think that the Paul
Manafort narrative lives on. That if we go back and we looked at these
those unsealed hearing transcripts, it`s clear that Andrew Weissmann, the
Robert Mueller prosecutor was zeroing in on that meeting that you mentioned
on August 2nd in the cigar club.
And the handing over of poll data, the discussion of the Ukraine peace
plan, and he said that this goes straight to the heart of what we`re
investigating. And I think it`s odd that there was nothing in his
summation, nothing in Amy Berman Jackson`s sentencing today that referenced
August 2nd that really delved into this deeper narrative.
And we should remember that Amy Berman Jackson actually probably knows the
Mueller investigation better than anybody outside of Mueller`s team because
she`s read all this redacted material, all these sealed briefings about who
is Konstantin Kilimnik. She actually knows probably more about this than
HAYES: You know, that`s a great point. I mean, I keep wanting it to be
the case that we just get that information, right? And again, exculpatory,
inculpatory, I don`t care, I just want to know the facts. Like maybe they
were running a con job on Oleg Deripaska and just printing stuff off the
Gallup website or 538 being like Oleg, Nate says we`ve got a chance. Like,
I don`t know. But you want to know what exactly was the nexus of what was
BANKS: Absolutely. That`s why I`ve been calling for public hearings is
that I think the people need to know one way or the other what was going
on. But whatever is going on for his lawyer today to have stood outside
the courthouse and to say no collusion which of course this case had
nothing to do with, there was no charge of collusion, there was no charge
dealing with Russia.
But knowing the facts that we know, how could his lawyer do that? That is
so unethical I can`t believe it.
HAYES: You know, it`s a great point. And Frank, it was particularly
audacious because not only does he come out and say no collusion, he says -
- so that – you can say that. You can say fine, there was no collusion.
You can make – he says the judge ruled there was no collusion. And then
what made it triply audacious was the judge specifically said don`t you
dare say I`m ruling there`s no collusion. That is not what I`m ruling.
There`s not sufficient evidence.
FOER: Yes. It seems like if he`s going for the audience of one and just
knowing how Trump consumes information, it seems like he`s working through
the information processing filters that Trump uses to get that one talking
point despite everything else in reality.
HAYES: There`s a question now. Judge Amy Berman Jackson also has Roger
Stone tomorrow. Again, Judge Ellis was sort of a strange character
throughout the entirety of that Eastern District of Virginia Case, not just
Jackson seems she`s been she`s been pretty frustrated with Roger Stone,
though she`s given him a second chance. I don`t know there`s a
relationship between day one and day two, but if you`re Roger Stone heading
in tomorrow, having seen this today, what`s going through your head?
BANKS: Roger Stone is not thinking like you and I would think so it`s hard
to predict what he would do. But she has been very well balanced in how
she`s handled everything about this case. And you`re right about Judge
Ellis who really demeaned the prosecution throughout the trial. He
attacked the prosecutors, he attacked their witnesses, he said to Gates how
could you say that he knows everything he, Manafort.
If he knew everything, he would know how much money you had stolen from
him. And he said that in front of the jury. So I mean, talk about trying
to influence the jury.
HAYES: Truly bizarre. Franklin Foer and Jill Wine-Banks, great to have
you both. Next, did the President attempt to interfere in the Michael
Cohen investigation? Tonight developments on what former acting Attorney
General said behind closed doors in two minutes.
HAYES: While President Trump`s former campaign chairman was learning that
he faces 16 additional felony charges that are unpardonable by the
President, the President`s former acting Attorney General was telling
congressional investigators about conversations he had regarding the
Southern District of New York`s Michael Cohen case.
Speaking after closed-door meeting with Matthew Whitaker, House Judiciary
Chairman Jerry Nadler revealed what else he learned from the nation`s
former top law enforcement official.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: I think there are three main takeaways that we take away from
today. One, unlike in the hearing room, Mr. Whitaker did not deny that the
President called him to discuss Michael Cohen – the Michael Cohen case and
personnel decisions in the Southern District.
Two, while he was Acting Attorney General, Mr. Whitaker was directly
involved in conversations about whether to fire one or more U.S. attorneys.
And three, while he was Attorney General, Acting Attorney General, Mr.
Whitaker was involved in conversations about the scope of the Southern
District of New York, U.S. Attorney Berman`s recusal and whether the
Southern District went too far in pursuing the campaign finance case in
which the president was listed as Individual Number One.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: MSNBC Contributor Chuck Rosenberg is a former U.S. Attorney for the
Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Texas, also
served as chief of staff at the FBI under then-Director James Comey.
Chuck, I should note, this was a closed meeting. I think there were about
eight people in the room. One of the Republicans in there has said that
now there`s mischaracterizing what happened there so I just want to say
that there are other people in the room who say differently.
That said, what the chair said also syncs up with some public reporting.
What is your reaction to hearing that?
CHUCK ROSENBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, there`s several things. So
let`s assume that Nadler had it right or pretty close to right. You know,
the notion that the president could get the Acting Attorney General Matt
Whitaker to get the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York to
unrecuse himself strikes me, Chris, as a little bit crazy.
I mean, I understand what the prefix on means. I`ve never seen it in front
of the word recused. When you recuse yourself, it`s because you have a
conflict or the appearance of a conflict. Those things don`t just go away
so you don`t just unrecuse. I can imagine a benign version of that
conversation that I could also imagine a nefarious version of that
conversation. And that second thing, the nefarious version to me would be
HAYES: Yes. We`ve had some reporting that there have been some
conversations and then Matthew Whitaker appeared to sort of deny that under
oath. And I want to play his testimony because it – there does seem to be
some tension between what he said in front everyone under oath and what
both the public reporting has indicated and what he apparently said today.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT WHITAKER, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: At no time
as the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or
commitments concerning the special counsel`s investigation or any other
investigation. Since becoming acting Attorney General, I have run the
Department of Justice with fidelity to the law and to the Constitution.
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Did you communicate to the President or any
senior White House advisers about investigations from the Southern District
of New York related to Trump entities?
WHITAKER: Again, I was very explicit in my opening statement as to that
not only about my communications regarding the special counsel`s office and
I said other investigations. And the Southern District of New York would
be included in other investigations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, Chuck, you`re a lawyer and a very good one obviously. I can`t
help but notice he says that the White House has not asked for nor provided
any promises or commitments which is pretty specific language.
ROSENBERG: Yes. And those are exactly the words that I had keyed in on,
Chris. And then he refers Nadler back – or I`m sorry, refers Congress
back to his opening statements. So it seems to hinge on promises or
Now, maybe it`s too cute by half. It seems like there were conversations
between the President and Whitaker not just about recusal but also about
the scope of the investigation and whether you know, it had gone too far.
What we would need at some point is a public hearing or a public deposition
of Matt Whitaker to know precisely what he was asked to do and precisely
what he did. That`s the key.
I don`t doubt Mr. Nadler. It`s just hard to hear it secondhand and to
really understand the conversations that took place between the president
and his acting Attorney General.
HAYES: Let me try to – let me try to offer a version of this and see –
and see what you think of it. Let`s say the President did call over and he
says, Matt, you know, what`s going on down the Southern District with
Michael Cohen case? I`m afraid they`re doing – you know, it might be a
little far afield of what they should do. Are you sure that the Berman and
the bosses they`re on top of things? I want to make sure everything`s
squared away down there.
Like how properly to improper would a conversation from the president about
an investigation into – that he`s been named in be?
ROSENBERG: Yes. So that`s sort of the benign version, Chris. You know,
Matt, I really like this Berman guy and I trust him and I`m just wondering
why he recused and to the extent you can help me understand that. I`d sure
ROSENBERG: To the nefarious version which is I need Berman back in place
to protect me and to kill this case. And if you`re talking about the
second conversation, the nefarious version, deeply troubling.
But let me point out one thing, Chris. The men and women of the Southern
District of New York, the career prosecutors are not going to bend to the
will of a corrupt president. That isn`t going to happen. And so even if
that was the President`s intent and of course, obstruction turns on intent,
he`s not going to get what he wants.
He`s not going to get the career folks in the Southern District of New York
to drop cases because he has said pretty please.
HAYES: All right, Chuck Rosenberg, as always, illuminating. Thank you
ROSENBERG: Yes, sir.
HAYES: Still the come, Michael Cohen turns over e-mails from just after
his FBI raid that sure do seem like Trump world was dangling or
entertaining or maybe being dangled to a pardon to the President`s former
attorney. The back-channel e-mails next.
HAYES: In the ongoing saga of whether President Trump ever dangled a
pardon before Michael Cohen, federal prosecutors from the United States
Attorney`s Office in Manhattan have now requested emails that appear to
show a back channel of communication between Michael Cohen and Team Trump
about a possible pardon, according to multiple reports.
Cohen has given congress emails from just after the FBI`s raid of his home
and office. And in those emails are exchanges between Cohen and a lawyer
acting as a conduit to Team Trump. The attorney is Robert Costello, who
never actually represented Michael Cohen, and he emailed him after speaking
to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, right.
So, Costello is between Giuliani and Cohen, he`s the go between. One
email, according to The New York Times, ended with a message, quote,
“sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places.”
In another email, Costello reportedly wrote to Cohen, quote, “Rudy was
thrilled and said this
could not be a better situation for the president or you. Mr. Giuliani,”
he added, “said thank you for opening back channel of communication.”
Costello himself did not dispute the emails, but claimed a different
context, saying Cohen raised the talk of a possible pardon himself.
Giuliani says the emails weren`t about a pardon.
Now, according to The Times, federal prosecutors had requested the emails
and documents from Mr. Costello, according to a copy of the request which
sited an investigation to possible violations of federal criminal law.
To help make sense of this ongoing mess, I`m joined now by federal
prosecutor Harry Litman, contributing columnist for The Washington Post,
Natasha Bertrand, staff writer at The Atlantic, covering national security
and the Russia investigation, and Michelle Goldberg, op-ed columnist for
The New York Times and an MSNBC political analyst.
Natasha, I`ll start with you. So we learned something from this, to me,
which is when the story first emerged I thought was this person
representing himself as a go between just a scammer? Was he actually the
go between? And now we have confirmed, like that`s part of the story was
correct. There was this guy who was an intermediary between Giuliani and
NATSHA BERTRAND, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. And it kind of shows that
they were trying to keep all of these individual threads at arm`s length
not only (inaudible), that`s kind of how Trump has always operated, he`s
kind of gotten everyone else to do the dirty work for him. But I think
that it`s really important not to lose sight of the main fact here, which
is that right after Michael Cohen`s office and home was raided by the FBI,
this massive investigation was opened, they were having conversations about
a potential pardon.
The president, whether directly or through his subordinates, or whoever was
essentially telling Michael Cohen you`re on our team, don`t cooperate and I
will – you know, you have friends in high places. I will fix this for
you. And that is extremely significant, because that could be criminal,
right, that`s part of what congress and federal prosecutors, apparently now
in the Southern District of New
York, are investigating.
Now, whether or not the president can actually be indicted is a whole other
question, but the fact that he has been caught up in this, in the Michael
Cohen case, also raises questions about who else he has potentially dangled
pardons for. Paul Manafort, for example, is a really good case study of
this. I mean, why has his lawyers taken such great risks with his case
throughout this entire process if they do not think that the president
wasn`t going to help him out, especially keeping him (inaudible) deal, even
while he was cooperating (inaudible) unless you go to the obvious
(inaudible) which is that he was expecting a pardon.
HAYES: Harry, what jumps out at me is written communication with a lawyer
calling it saying thank you for this back channel, which just sounds
sketchy to put in writing.
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It does. I don`t know what you
guys are being so suspicious about, though. Rudy Giuliani explained it was
all a reference to the Garth Brooks song “Friends in Low
HAYES: Costello said that, I think, that he was just trying to keep a
suicidal Michael Cohen with his chin up.
LITMAN: Just worried about him. Look, it really is, in fact, the arm`s
length part is circumstantial evidence of the crime. And just to explain
what`s so dodgy about this dangling idea, look, the president has this
plenary power to provide pardons, but there is a check, it`s a political
check, where you think of the Mark Rich (ph) pardoned by President Clinton,
people can protest. This is nefarious, because you say it on the QT, no
one ever knows, and the idea is the quid pro quo down the line.
And it is a potential miscarriage – obstruction of justice, if that`s in
his mind. One other point, it doesn`t matter how many lawyers are in the
link, it wouldn`t be privileged because the crime, fraud exception would
kick in. This would be all part of a conspiracy to obstruct, and Costello
and Giuliani really are going to have to answer in depositions about the
exact nature of the communication.
HAYES: That answers a question I had, which is will they be able to cover
this with privilege. This is also from The Times, Michelle, “during one of
the conversations last April, Mr. Costello said in
an interview he, Cohen, asked whether Trump might put a pardon on the table
for Mr. Cohen.” And it`s – one of the things that`s always been unclear,
like, who is making the offer first, even though they`re clearly sniffing
each other out.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE ATLANTIC: But I also feel like – you know, I mean,
I think there`s been a lot of attention to this question, but it actually
shouldn`t matter that much, because even if Michael Cohen kind of made the
first move, responding by dangling it out is still not OK. Like, I mean,
that`s – I mean, the bar with these people just keeps getting lower and
You know, so I think maybe Michael Cohen will – I mean, maybe Rudy
Giuliani will be the second one of Donald Trump`s…
HAYES: President`s lawyers, yeah.
GOLDBERG: Personal lawyers to be indicted, right, because we have a lot of
discussion about whether or not the president can be indicted. We have no
– there`s no question that Rudy Giuliani can be indicted.
HAYES: You know, Natasha, there`s also – it strikes me in this whole
conversation about pardons that for the president, even the perspective
inducement of the pardon is so much more powerful than the retroactive
granting thereof, right, like, there`s no point at this point with
Manafort. Like, sorry, buddy. This guy is – Donald Trump screwed over
so many other counter parties. But the
idea that in the future you might get it is an important thing for him to
keep in the minds of everyone.
BERTRAND: Right, of course, because he doesn`t want them flipping. I
mean, it`s very basic, it`s like bribery 101, right. I mean, it`s just
very obvious what the intention was and what the intention remains with
these people by keeping the pardon on the table, that is something that has
been reframed throughout this entire ordeal is that we`re not discussing
this now, but we`re not taking it off the table. That`s nothing short of a
wink and a nod, right, I mean, to all of these people who pose really big
legal liabilities to the president. It`s a signal saying, look, behave,
and I can help you out in the future.
And I think, you know, for Paul Manafort it might be a little bit too late
because going into 2020, the president might not want this huge backlash
that comes with pardoning Manafort who was convicted for very, very
serious, you know, tax and financial crimes that didn`t have anything
directly to do with the Russia investigation. And he`s going to go to jail
with a lot of secrets about the Russia probe.
Mueller will probably reveal a lot of those secrets in the final report, or
so we`re hoping, but I really can`t see Trump getting any immediate, you
know, benefit from pardoning Manafort, and that is what he`s thinking
about. He`s thinking about how these people can help him and in return
what he can give them. And the best thing he can give them is, you know,
lessening their jail time.
HAYES: Harry, there`s also – it`s so striking the way these people all
operate like wannabe mobsters. I mean, you know, you`ve got friends in
high places. Sleep tight. And then this sort of – like how stupid do
they think we are that, you know, oh, I was quoting Garth Brooks. Like
it`s just a weird – like taking a step back, it`s a weird way for people
to communicate, it`s a weird way for people to operate, not the least of
which for the president and his lawyer to operate.
LITMAN: No kidding.
I mean, people often draw the analogy to the mob and Goodfellas, but I`ve
been struck it`s more like Married to the Mob. These are a bunch of real
sort of nickel and dimming kind of shyster would be the formal legal word.
And, yeah, it really is at time at kind of a burlesque. There`s no
dignity in presidential crime anymore, it seems.
HAYES: I was thinking about like, you know, a mobster coming before and
being like, your honor, my client here when he said sleep with the fishes,
he meant that the dead man in question should be booked a hotel room next
to the aquarium.
Like, we understand the code. Like everyone understands. And I think
that`s also what ultimately when we look for a smoking gun, it`s like –
everybody has been saying everything right in front of our faces the whole
GOLDBERG: Well, and in a way, that`s their sort of perverse alibi, right?
HAYES: That is the alibi.
GOLDBERG: We`re not hiding it, so what…
HAYES: Russia, if you`re listening, Manafort`s a good guy.
GOLDBERG: Right, and so it`s sort of – I mean, which is kind of what`s so
maddening about it, right, is that it`s all out in the open, which means
that if you can see it you kind of can`t believe that everyone`s hair isn`t
on fire about it, and yet they`re kind of using the fact that it`s allowed
in the open to be like, you know, as Trump always says, what, so what. I
wanted to, you know, with Trump Tower, I wanted to build it.
HAYES: So I lied about it for two years.
Harry Litman, Natasha Bertrand…
LITMAN: But here`s a really quick point, in order to do it you`ve got to
go to a Costello. If Giuliani wouldn`t do it direct, you`re going to go to
somebody who really has something to lose and is going to have pressure on
him to tell the truth and won`t want to do it, that`s the only way to do
this ham-handed thing. And that`s going to be the first stop for
prosecutors or congressional investigators.
HAYES: That`s a good point. Harry Litman, Natasha Bertrand, and Michelle
Goldberg, thank you all.
Still ahead, why it took the Trump administration so long to ground the the
Boeing planes connected to two deadly crashes, plus meet some of the
freshmen congressmen making a lot of noise. That`s Thing One, Thing Two
HAYES: Thing one tonight, freshman Democratic congresswoman from
California, Katie Porter, who has been quite literally schooling witnesses
from her perch on the House Financial Services
Committee. Last week, Porter read from a textbook that she herself wrote
while questioning/educating Donald Trump`s hand-picked CFPB director about
Two weeks ago, she grilled the CEO of credit reporting agency Equifax,
which is facing a class action lawsuit for exposing the personal data of
tens of millions of Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATIE PORTER, (D) CALIFORNIA: My question for you is whether you
would be willing to share today your social security, your birth date, and
your address at this public hearing?
MARK BEGOR, CEO, EQUIFAX: I would be a bit uncomfortable doing that,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yeah, no kidding. So if exposing personal data, you know, bad…
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PORTER: Why are you lawyers arguing in federal court that there was no
injury and no harm created by your data breach?
BEGOR: Congresswoman, it`s really hard for me to comment on what our
lawyers are doing.
PORTER: Look, sir, respectfully, excuse me, but you do employ those
lawyers and they do operate at your direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Just yesterday, Porter came face to face with the CEO of Wells
Fargo, who has repeatedly insisting he`s working to are store customer`s
trust after his company opened up millions of fraudulent accounts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PORTER: Then why, Mr. Sloan, if you don`t mind my asking, Mr. Sloan, are
your lawyers in federal court arguing that those exact statements that i
read are, quote “paradigmatic examples of
non-actionable corporate puffery in which no reasonable investor could
HAYES: Yikes. Katie Porter is very good at her job, but has she
considered props? And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Democratic Congressman Joe Cunningham wanted to make a point about
the environmental impact of seismic air gun blasting, so he did what, well,
we all dream of doing in a congressional hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE CUNNINGHAM, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: Was that disruptive, Mr. Oliver?
CHRIS OLIVER, ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATION NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC
ADMINISTRATION: Sir, it was irritating, but I didn`t find it particularly
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Really, irritating, but not disruptive?
The Trump administration allows energy companies to blast seismic air guns
underwater while searching for oil and gas deposits. And Trump official,
Chris Oliver, whose job description literally including protection of
marine mammals, had played down the impact of that practice in the lives of
mammals, including whales, which depend on sound for hunting and
So, Cunningham made clear just how absurd that stance was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUNNINGHAM: Was that disruptive, Mr. Oliver?
OLIVER: Sir, it was irritating but I didn`t find it particularly
CUNNINGHAM: How much louder do you think seismic air gun blasting sounds
than this horn you just heard?
OLIVER: I honestly don`t know.
CUNNINGHAM: Take a guess?
What if I were to tell you it`s 16,000 times louder than what you just
heard here? Do you see how that would be impactful on marine species and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`re going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to
ground all flights of the 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9, and planes
associated with that line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: After several days in which the U.S. was increasingly isolated in
allowing Boeing 737
Max aircraft to fly, the Trump administration today finally acceded to
growing international consensus and ordered the planes grounded, this comes
after two deadly crashes, and as reported yesterday, complaints to the
federal government from pilots who found the plane`s nose suddenly tipping
dangerously after engaging the autopilot.
So why was the U.S. the international laggard on this issue of air safety
when it has for so long been an international leader? It`s hard to say.
But what we do know is Boeing gave the president`s inaugural committee $1
million, an inaugural committee under investigation from the Southern
District of New York. The company`s CEO has also traveled to the
president`s private for profit club to schmooze, a place that is basically
a petri dish of improper influence.
And we know the company CEO spoke with the president on the phone
yesterday. And so when it comes to the decision-making process, both to
keep the planes in the air and now to ground them, life and death matters
to be sure, it would be nice to have faith the decision was made on the
But part of what`s so insidious and toxic about the ubiquitous corruption
of this administration is that of course we can have no such faith. We do
not know if Donald Trump`s decisions are made because of improper influence
or expert recommendation or some cockamamie idea implanted in his brain
while kibitzing at the Mar-a-Lago omelet bar.
Members of congress generally welcomed the president`s decision to ground
the planes, though Senator Richard Blumenthal tweeted in part, quote, “this
step is right though unacceptably overdue. Our nation should be leading,
not lagging, in air safety.
And Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut, joins me now.
Why was this – you were quite outspoken and vocal about this. Why was
this such a point of focus for you?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: It`s a point of focus because it
is part of the dysfunctional Washington so impacted by special interests
and influence, it`s part of the Trump MO, modus operandi, which reacts to
potentially those kinds of special interests. All the facts that you`ve
just described are highly suspect, and add to it the fact that this
decision was apparently based on facts still undisclosed to the American
people, because they say they have new evidence. Well, the rest of the
world grounded these airplanes based on evidence well-known before now.
And among the most chilling of those facts, and Rachel Maddow did such a
great job last night
of describing them, are the pilots` reports. Today, I asked the NASA head,
Jim Bridenstine, to provide all of those pilot reports, which are in the
possession of NASA to me. And he agreed to do so, because
the indications as far back as November of this problem are disconcerting,
to say the least.
HAYES: There`s a question about what this does to the American air system,
and the general sort of oversight of the Trump administration on air
safety. There`s been a dramatic drop in enforcement fines for major U.S.
airlines in the last two years, 88 percent drop, which is really pretty
remarkable. Are you confident in an FAA with full acting positions and
this administration overseeing airline safety at this moment?
BLUMENTHAL: I am entirely unconfident in the FAA, which is why I`ve called
for hearings before congress, bringing the FAA to testify, but also Boeing
executives and Secretary Chau, who has supervisory authority over the FAA.
At the end of the day, it was Secretary Chau recommending to President
Trump that they ground these airplanes, but everyone involved in designing,
constructing, approving for flight and continuing in flight has really some
accountability to provide. And we need to know who knew what when and why
they failed to act.
HAYES: Since I have you here, senator, there is two pieces of senate
business I`d like to talk
to you about that are in motion. Today, something historic happened in the
United States Senate, the Senate voted to pass a war powers resolution
ordering the U.S. to end its involvement in the Saudi war in Yemen. The
U.S. has been providing all kinds of support to that war, refueling for
planes particularly as well as support in training for Saudi fighters.
This was a big deal. What does it mean now?
BLUMENTHAL: It means, first of all, that congress is taking back some of
its war powers power, which is to the good. It means practically speaking
that there should be an end to the equipping and training of Saudi war
crimes, very simply the Saudi bombing of civilians, many of them children,
and the Saudi interference with humanity aid is causing famine in that
country and death and disease.
And it means that the United States will no longer be complicit in those
Now, it still has to be approved by the House, but this is a profoundly
important first step.
HAYES: The other big question before your body is the vote that`s
happening tomorrow. This is on the president`s declaration national
emergency, a one-page resolution ending said national emergency was passed
out of the House. It now comes to the Senate. It looks like the yeas,
right, the people who want to end the emergency, who are going to vote for
the resolution, have the votes from
Republicans. There has been tremendous pressure put on them by the White
House, and Mike Pence has been over there. What is your sense of where
things stand right now?
BLUMENTHAL: Despite the really overwhelming squeeze exerted by the White
transparently so, the votes seem to be holding firm among that handful of
Republicans who are necessary to overturn this emergency declaration.
Remember, never before in our history, never has a president clearly
usurped congress` powers. This measure should be bipartisan. The power to
spend and appropriate funds is in the constitution, given only to congress.
Never before has the president spent money after congress has refused to
give him the authority to do so, not just neglected, but refused.
And so this kind of vote I think is a challenge to the institution, and my
Republican colleagues are deeply worried, more than may vote the right way
tomorrow, about the precedent that is set here for the president seizing
power from the congress.
And eventually, I believe the courts will overturn it, regardless of what
the congress does tomorrow.
HAYES: Yeah, that seems likely there has been some talk about negotiating
some kind of
one-time mulligan where this emergency stands, but then they put up some
vote, some show vote, which is essentially a show vote, to change the
Emergency Act going forward just to get people to yes. But it sounds like
you think they`re confident the Republican votes are holding. We will see
I think tomorrow whether that bears out. I`m not sure whether I would
place my bet.
Senator Blumenthal, thank you so much for taking the time. Appreciate it.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. We have more details on a very exciting event that`s
coming up on All In. In just five day, I will be hosting MSNBC`s first
town hall of the election season. We`re going to be talking with 2020
hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand. We`re going to meet in the all important state
of Michigan, where she`ll make her case to be the Democratic nominee for
And here is the thing, you can be part of this special event. We are
taping in Auburn Hills,
Michigan, on Monday afternoon. There are full details on how to register
for the town hall on our Web site, allin.msnbc.com. It`s going to be a
great time. Learn a lot. I`d love to meet you and see you, so please,
please, please come join us.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right
now. Good evening, Rachel.
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